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Intensive Fighting in Kobani; Getting Closer to Landing on Mars; Erik Weihenmeier Kayaking in Grand Canyon

Aired December 4, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. One start today with a nod to my friends at Lamkin (ph) County High School who visited CNN

Center yesterday. It`s great to see all of you. Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. First up this Thursday, December Fourth, the Syrian town of Kobani.

You`ve heard us mention it before. It`s right by Syria`s northern border with Turkey.

It`s been targeted for months by the ISIS terrorist groups, which controls about a third of Iraq and Syria.

But ISIS hasn`t been able to take total control of Kobani. It`s been hit by U.S.-led airstrikes. American and Syrian officials disagree about

whether these airstrikes have been effective in stopping ISIS.

But the terrorists have also gotten strong resistance in Kobani by Kurds and other ethnic groups. All this has taken its toll on the border town.

Some areas are just hips of rubble. Previously, we could only show you fighting there, from our journalists who were across the border in Turkey.

Now, with the help of some of those who are fighting ISIS, we are able to show you what it`s like inside Kobani.


NIC PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We`ve been taken down these streets towards the eastern frontline behind those curtains they have put up to

protect them from snipers by Barfi (ph) and Media (ph), two of the female YPG fighters escorting us down there.

And this is their - the eastern front where there is much more intense fighting in the past three or four days. And while we get different

figures from whoever you speak to hear about quite how much of the city is controlled, and you see here quite remarkable devastation caused by the

explosive used. What`s quite clear is that ISIS are far from giving up on this fight. In fact, trying to take ground every day. They moved towards

the official border crossing three or four days ago. That was a substantial advance they tried. They were beaten back, but each night,

particularly last night, we had very intense clashes further down the street towards the eastern frontier.

You can hear the - you can see the absolute devastation here. As we get close towards ISIS`s positions here to the northeast of the city.

Some of these caused by airstrikes, but some, too, from the daily constant, sometimes every five minutes thump of mortars, some home-made by ISIS.

They have been pounding onto Kobani for months now.

We can see Turkey eventually just behind us. But here they are - through this wreckage, closer and closer to the places where ISIS are trying to

push forwards.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the Shoutout. Which of these constellations was named for a mythological hunter? If you think you know it, shout it

out. Is it Aries, Orion, Pegasus or Leo? You`ve got three seconds, go.

One of the easiest constellations to find on winter nights, Orion. It`s named for the Greek mythological hunter. That`s your answer and that`s

your shoutout.

AZUZ: It`s also a name of NASA`s newest space capsule, which is scheduled for a test flight today. This Orion costs $370 million. It`s prepared to

launch from Florida`s Kennedy Space Center. The stakes are high, even though Orion isn`t carrying any astronauts. If this test flight fails, it

could ground NASA`s longterm goals of transporting people well beyond the Moon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could soon be one small step closer to humans landing on Mars. This is Orion, NASA`s first deep space capsule since the


(on camera): Why is this the time to do this?

MARK GEYER, NASA ORION PROGRAM MANAGER: It`s a great time because we have a design, and it`s time to actually put the design into practice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Mark Geyer, Orion`s program manager says Thursday`s launch will test critical technologies like the heat shield and

re-entry system. Orion may look a lot like the Apollo capsule evolved, but it`s hoped this vessel will go beyond the Moon taking astronauts to an

asteroid and eventually to Mars.

And as in the past, private companies are playing a big role. United Launch Alliance is providing the rocket. Lockheed Martin designed the


GEYER: So, we are trying to bring the best of all the world`s together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on camera): Are there any concerns about not having full control over the mission?

GEYER: Well, we are - no, again, because we put the right people in the right place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): The Orion launch comes on the heels of two spaceflights that went horribly wrong. On October 28, an orbital

sciences rocket headed to the International Space Station, burst into flames moments after liftoff. Three days later, the Virgin Galactic

Spaceship II exploded during the test flight killing one of the pilots.

GEYER: You know, it just brings to forefront again that it`s a risky business, and everybody is doing their best to minimize that risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one will be on board the Orion while it spends 4.5 hours traveling some 3600 miles. It`s expected to orbit the Earth twice

going through the Van Allen belts, an area of extreme radiation. If all goes well, Orion will parachute into the Pacific Ocean where it will be

recovered and loaded onto a Navy ship.


AZUZ: The seventh state to achieve statehood achieved statehood in 1788. It`s Maryland. And Hagerstown, Maryland is on today`s roll where the Hubs

are watching in North Hagerstown High School.

Just east in New Jersey, the city of Trenton is where you`ll find Grace A. Dunn Middle School. The charges are here, and over on the West Coast to

Snohomish County Detention Center. Thank you for watching in Everett, Washington.

We know many of you really like our puns and some of you really don`t. But in China, they would be illegal. It`s a Communist country. Its citizens

don`t have the same freedoms of speech and press that Americans have. The government controls the media. And it says that puns could be misleading

to young people and make it harder to promote traditional Chinese culture. The bank will have an impact, at least in the short term. The Chinese

language has a lot of homophones, words that sound the same but have different meanings. So it`s ripe for puns. Critics are calling the ban

Orwellian, in reference to the George Orwell book "1984" saying the ban`s another way to keep people from criticizing the government.

Erik Weihenmeier lost his vision at age 13. It didn`t` stop him from learning to skydive solo. It didn`t` stop him from climbing Mount Everest.

He says learning to paddle through whitewater rapids was the scariest thing he`d ever done. With the guide in the separate kayak behind him,

Weihenmeier took on the Colorado River.


ERIK WEIHENMEIER: My name is Erik Weihenmeier. And this is what it`s like to kayak the Grand Canyon blind.

Grand Canyon is a real iconic beautiful place in the world, and even though I can`t see it, I can still experience it, you know, with my hands touching

the rocks and experiencing the sound of the Canyon so where they echo.

Amazing rapids that you are right in the middle of feeling them under your boat, just throwing you in every direction, sometimes smashing through

them. You get plunged into absolute chaos and you have to react in a very short amount of time.

You are trying to process so much information. You know, I mean you are trying to read the river just by the sounds you are hearing and what you

are feeling under your boat, you know. And a rapid has a pattern that you can kind of figure out. You`re trying to listen to the waves and the pour

overs that you can start to identify that as a blank kayaker.

I thought, you know, it would be really intriguing to see if a blind person could sort of flourish in all that chaos. It sort of feels like you are an

astronaut going into space, in a lunching to the Moon or something.

Four different colors, 3,000 people, two win the title of one Guinness world record. It`s the biggest human Christmas tree. You see it shaping

up here as it did on December 2 in the Central American country of Honduras. This has been attempted before in Thailand and Argentina, but

Honduras won the record by more than 1,000 participants. The country`s president called the official record officially amazing.

Too bad Brenda Lee is not here to see. Folks record a record rocking around the Christmas Tree. When the plant was planted the trim trimmed the

form formed, the tree was guarantrim (ph) to succeed in record form. I`m (INAUDIBLE) Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.