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Chinese Chemical Blasts; Cuba Fast Facts; Questions Over Rio Olympics Water Quality; North Korea Sets Clocks Back

Aired August 17, 2015 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome to a brand new season of CNN STUDENT NEWS.

Today`s show kicks off our 2015-2016 coverage of commercial-free current events. This is awesome! My name is Carl Azuz. I`m excited to be back

with you this year.

Here`s what`s ahead: A world of international news stories, significant anniversaries, the U.S. election season.

And in the coming weeks, we`ll be catching you up on some of the major events that made headlines over the last two months.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after a series of massive explosions destroyed so much of Tianjin, a black cloud continues to

hang over the city, the air thick with a chemical stench. A sea of cars destroyed. Their paint stripped off by the intense heat.

Broken glass covers streets and sidewalks for miles around. And when the wind blows, more glass rains down from apartments and homes.

Today, new images of those amazingly powerful blasts. This cell phone video records the moment of impact, the first blast around 11:30 at night.

Fire officials say hazardous chemicals stored in a warehouse were ignited by fire. The bright flash followed by a tremendous explosion, waking

people all across this port city of more than 13 million.

Another explosion followed just seconds later. Seven times more powerful, the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT, according to a Chinese data center.

Buildings shook, windows blown out.

Blast felt more than two miles around the epicenter. Some likened it to a nuclear explosion even as a mushroom cloud rose over the blast site.

"The house collapsed. We didn`t know what happened", says one survivor.

Surveillance video obtained by ABC News captured the explosion`s sudden furry. This man buried under a wall of glass.

At least 50 people killed. Hospitals said to be overwhelmed by the hundreds injured. More than 1,000 firefighters ran to the danger. At

least 17 died and dozens are missing.

Emotions are running high. I was reporting outside a hospital when a small group of people challenged me, demanding to see my phone. Police arrived

but I was temporarily forced off the air.

A statement from the environmental group Greenpeace expressed what many fear, quote, "We are concerned that certain chemicals will continue to pose

a risk to the residents of Tianjin."

The company that owned the warehouse was in the business of storing dangerous chemicals. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tianjin, China.


AZUZ: Up next: the major change in international diplomacy, how nations conduct themselves in dealing with each other, this involved the U.S. and

the island nation of Cuba. It`s about 90 miles away from Florida`s Key West.

The U.S. embassy and the Cuban capital of Havana was reopened this weekend. For months, the Obama administration has been moving toward restoring ties

with Cuba, with President Obama saying the American policy of isolating Cuba hasn`t worked and it`s time for a new approach.

But some U.S. officials disagree. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who`s the son of Cuban immigrants, says the U.S. flag shouldn`t fly in a country

that doesn`t value freedom and that denies its people basic human rights. Mistrust between the two countries runs deep.


NARRATOR: Beginning of the rise of power of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Castro and his joyous (ph) troops were joyously acclaimed following his incredible

victory over Batista.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In 1959, Fidel Castro leads an army of thousands into Havana, forcing out the dictator Batista at the time, and

becomes the country`s new leader.

There are high hopes for the young revolutionary, but also immediately confrontation begins with the United States.

The U.S. places an embargo on Cuba and soon after it breaks off, diplomatic relations.

Later the infamous, failed U.S. invasion at the "Bay of Pigs."

The CIA hatches plans to assassinate Castro, hundreds of plots, according to the Cubans. And soon, the Soviet Union secretly deploys nuclear

missiles to Cuba.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba or against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an

attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.

OPPMANN: The Cuban missile crisis lasts just two weeks. But Cuba and the United States remained locked in Cold War tensions for decades.

In 1980, an exodus: as more than 100,000 Cubans come to the United States after Castro loosens restrictions.

Two decades later another Cuban leaving by boat, 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. His arrival in the United States sparks custody battles, which Fidel Castro

transforms into a propaganda victory.

Fidel Castro said he expected to die in power. But in 2006, a mystery illness forces him to step down.

His brother Raul takes over, and in 2015, does what many considered to be unthinkable: Restores diplomatic relations with Cuba`s long-time nemesis --

the United States.



AZUZ: You know what`s random? Sea otters.

You know what`s more random? They sometimes hold hands like best friends. But it`s not just because they`re cute and friendly and stuff. It`s to

keep themselves from drifting away from each other while they sleep.

Wake up. That`s random.


AZUZ: All right. We`re heading to the largest and most populated country in South America. It`s Brazil, home to more than 204 million people and

the host country of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. They`re less than a year from now, in Rio de Janeiro.

There are often concerns about whether a host country will be ready in time for the games. Brazil is no exception. One area of concern here though is

the water, dead fish washing up and sewage pollution found at Olympic water venues. These reports are causing a lot of concern among athletes and

organizers. Local Olympic officials say their recent water samples show there`s not health risk for athletes, and that Rio`s waters are safe for


We`re crossing the Pacific now, to Eastern Asia. North Korea has created its own time zone. Its secretive communist government is calling it

Pyongyang Time, named for the North Korean capital. Officially, it`s Greenwich Mean Time plus 8:30, which we`ll explain in a moment.

In a way, North Korea is setting its clock back. The Korean Peninsula had this time before Japan took it over in the early 1900s. Saturday, when the

switch was announced was the 70th anniversary of the when Korea was liberated from Japan, in 1945.

A South Korean official says North Korea`s change could cause some problems.


KATHY NOVAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Most international time zones are whole hour offsets from coordinated universal time, the time at the Zero Meridian

running through Greenwich in England. But while a 30-minute difference maybe awkward for those grappling with time zone calculations, it is not

unique. Iran, Afghanistan, India and Central Australia area all on half- hour offsets. Nepal is even trickier at UTC plus six hours and 45 minutes.

Any country is free to choose what time it should be. In 2007, Hugo Chavez set Venezuela`s clocks back by half and hour, putting the nation out of

step with its neighbors, so he explained that children could get an extra half hour sleep in the morning ands not have to get up before the sunrise.

This peninsula shares 5,000 years of common history, a common people, a common language. But the Korean people divided for decades by barbed wire,

land mines and political systems are now separated even by time.

Kathy Novak, CNN, Paju, South Korea.


AZUZ: For the first time this school year, I present to you the "Roll Call". It`s a daily announcement of three of the thousands of schools that

watched our show.

Schools like Columbus Middle. It`s in Columbus, Nebraska, and its mascot is the Discoverer. Get it? Columbus Discoverers. Awesome.

Hailing from Winder, Georgia, the Huskies are watching today. Hello to everyone at Westside Middle School.

And in Ohio, welcome to Thurgood Marshall High School. It`s great to see the Cougars in Dayton.

The "Roll Call" is a chance for your school to get recognized on CNN STUDENT NEWS. There`s one place where we look for request. Each day`s

transcript page at Just click where it says "Roll Call". We announce schools from all over the world, but you`ve got to be

at least 13 years old to make a request.

One comment per day keeping the spam away is the way to go to get on our show.


AZUZ: Before we go, sea turtles may look kind of silly on land, flapping around on flippers. But once underwater, they appear to fly. This amazing

video came out of a project to research the effects of pollution on Australia`s Great Barrier Reef.

What scientists did was attached a camera with a suction cap to a turtle shell. Stayed put for about 15 minutes, giving them a sea turtles

perspective of sailing through a world heritage site.

A diver recovered the camera, so they didn`t have to shell out the cost of it. Still, it`s too bad it flipped from the animal after just a few

minutes. There is not turt-telling where it would have swum next. Whoo!

You who watched our show before know our endings are pretty fun-funny.

I`m Carl Azuz. It`s great to have you along on CNN STUDENT NEWS.