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Flooding in Florida and Alabama; MERS Coronavirus Incidents Increase through the Middle East and Other Countries; Red Light Traffic Cameras Promoting Road Safety

Aired May 1, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, thanks for taking ten minutes to watch CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz at the CNN Center and today`s commercial free coverage begins in Iraq. The Middle Eastern country had nationwide elections yesterday. The first since U.S. combat troops left the country in 2011. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is running for a third term in office. He says turnout was expected to be historically high, and that`s despite worsening waves of violence.

At least seven people were killed yesterday in attacks at polling stations. The United Nations says last year was Iraq`s deadliest since 2008, that more than 8800 people, mostly civilians were killed in different attacks. Sectarian violence, fighting between Sunni and Shia Muslims is the cause of a lot of it, but terrorism also factors in. With Al Qaeda linked groups fighting Iraqi government forces.

Next story today, the same storm system that brought deadly tornadoes to the central and south eastern U.S. has had another disastrous affect - flooding. What looks like a river in this Florida neighborhood was actually a street. Look at this. A rush of muddy water where there should be asphalt and traffic. The Florida Panhandle is no stranger to heavy storms and hurricanes, but some of the folks CNN talked to in the area told us they`ve never seen anything like this. Almost 19 inches of rain in just 24 hours fell on parts of Florida and Alabama.

Florida`s governor has declared the state of emergency and warned that more rain and flooding could be ahead. He says 200 rescues out of 300 requests have been made. In some places responders have had to get creative.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have gone up there with chainsaws, just tried to be able to cut holes in the roofs, just tried to be able to get the people out of there because the water levels are roof and chest-high and deeper, and apparently in some of these homes and so there`s nowhere to go but up, and once you get there in the attic, you know, you really can`t go anywhere else. So, they are trying to utilize the chainsaw to be able to just cut some folks out. I don`t have a specific update on how far we are on that progress. I`m just getting two those locations. It`s just been a logistical nightmare.


AZUZ: Middle East respiratory syndrome or MERS, has sickened hundreds of people in Saudi Arabia. Those who`ve come down with the virus in other places had traveled to the Middle East first. There hasn`t been a case in the U.S. The CDC is working with hospitals to prepare for the possibility. MERS attacks the respiratory system. It`s killed almost a third of those who`ve gotten it. What scientists don`t know about MERS is how it spreads exactly and how to prevent infections. For now, they are telling travelers to keep cautious and keep their hands washed.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s a deadly coronavirus called MERS- Cov for shorts. The virus comes from the same group as a common cold and attacks the respiratory system. It`s not clear exactly how the virus is spread, but the World Health Organization says to look out for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath in conjunction with recent travel to the Arabian Peninsula. That`s because all the cases so far have related to travelers to the region.

MERS was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and that`s where the majority of cases still are. Others were reported across the Middle East, in Europe and as far as Malaysia.

So far more than 300 cases have been reported worldwide, including more than 100 deaths.

But in the past month, there`s been a 30 percent spike in the total number of cases, including nearly two dozen reported here in the UAE. Authorities say they are monitoring the situation and there`s no need for panic, but social media is rife with messages of concern.

"So, when are we supposed to freak out about the MERS coronavirus in the UAE," says one. "Should we be wired about MERSA, about the lack of transparency from health authorities," says another. Health authorities in Saudi Arabia are under growing pressure. The health minister was removed from its post as a number of cases in the kingdom spiked. More than 100 new cases in the past month alone. Officials say they don`t know what`s causing the sudden surge, but they are calling on the World`s Health Organization and other medical experts to help curb it. Sending up text messages to 30 million residents earlier this month asking them to contact the ministry with questions. That`s essential in the country where millions of Muslims converge in the Holy City of Mecca every year for pilgrimages. But with the recent uptake in the number of cases, public concern is sure to rise. Leone Lakhani, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the "Shoutout." Which of these stories made headlines in 1901? If you think you know it, shout it out!

Was it, World`s Fair opens in Chicago, Grover Cleveland elected president, first private telephone installed or New York requires license plates? You`ve got three seconds, go!

New York State was the first to require license plates in 1901. Car owners made the plates themselves. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: And they didn`t have numbers and letters on them that might have seemed random. Those first license plates had initials, kind of like a monogram for your car. The first state to actually issue plates itself was Massachusetts in 1903, the first number - 1. We`ve come a long way from those plates to cameras on traffic lights that take a picture when you run a red.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`ve drive through an intersection there`s a good chance they`ve seen you. And if you`ve received the traffic ticket in the mail, there`s a good chance you didn`t see them. It`s take a little more than 25 years, but re light cameras attached to traffic signals have become almost ubiquitous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have red light cameras in more than 250 cities nationwide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cameras are a big part of business for American Traffic Solutions. ATS is the largest provider of cameras in the United States with revenues exceeding $200 million. The newest cameras are equipped with 29 megapixel centers that can capture high definition photos and video. Quick enough to see the inside of a moving car. Many of the photos and videos are sent here to Tempe, Arizona where they are processed by ATS employees. Workers review each traffic incident and forward them to the municipalities who decide whether or not to issue a ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We issue as a company nearly 5 million violations per year on behalf of our customers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do the cameras make roads safer?

RUSS RADER, VP COMMUNICATIONS, IIHS: In general, the studies show that red light cameras reduce red light running violations by 40 to 50 percent, and injury crashes 25 to 30 percent.

The cameras may be effective, but they are not cheap. Installations can run up to $100,000 each. The cameras have also generated controversy. Critics contend that they are used by cash-strapped cities to increase the number of traffic tickets.


AZUZ: We`re tracking cross country in the Northern U.S. today. It`s time for "The Roll Call." We`ll start with the stampede. The stampeders of Stevens Middle School. They are located in Port Angeles, Washington. Making a stop in Minnesota, the rebels of Champlin Park High School are on the roll. They are watching from Champlin. And in the state of Maine, the Bulldogs are growling from Prospect Harvard. Good to see you all at peninsula school.

Kwasi Enin has made his choice. The 17-year old high school senior is going to Yale University. That`s impressive for anyone. Yale accepts around seven percent of the students who apply. And while Enin says he`s a student just like any student, he`s done something that very few ever have. He was accepted to every school in the Ivy League, all eight of them, an incredible accomplishment. So why did he pick Yale? Well, Enin sings and plays the viola. He wants to study both music and medicine and he thought that Yale had the best music program in the Ivy League combined with opportunities to study and travel that he liked. He`s also getting financial aid from Yale. He won`t say how much, but it`s reportedly one of several schools that offered to cover at least some of his costs.

Yale might be tough to get into for people, but it`s got one program that`s going to the dogs. If you have one, and it`s smart, you might be wondering how it thinks. That`s why students are trying to find out. They are studying whether dogs can learn socially like children do. In one experiment, for example, a dog used her mouth to open up puzzle boxes. But after seeing a student use her hands to do it, the dog used her own paws. That`s kind of a feat in itself. Forget Pavlov, this embarks on new territory. It`s something that for research could establish new dogma - if they are pawsistent, they may just dig up a breakthrough in dog mission. It`s time for us to scoot. I`m Carl Azuz and CNN STUDENT NEWS returns Friday.