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Colombia Plane Crash: 71 Dead; Wildfires in Tennessee; Protest Over the Minimum Wage; A Potential Space Weapon

Aired November 30, 2016 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Happy to have you watching CNN STUDENT NEWS this Wednesday, the 30th and last day of November. I`m Carl Azuz.

First up, a tragic accident in the South American country of Colombia. A plane crashed in the mountainous region Monday night while traveling from

Bolivia to Colombia. It was carrying 77 people, including a Brazilian soccer team. And of those 77 onboard, at least 71 were killed in the

crash. Some people did survive.

No one knows yet why the plane went down. A CNN meteorologist says there had been rain showers and thunderstorms in the area and that probably would

have made flying conditions turbulent. Continuing bad weather kept the Colombian air force from getting to the crash site, so officials had to

travel there by land.

People throughout Brazil are in mourning. The soccer team had been scheduled to play a Colombian team in the first league of the South

American Cup finals today.

Sevier County is in eastern Tennessee, in the Great Smokey Mountains. It`s part a region that`s suffering with its worst drought in almost 10 years.

The dried conditions have been fueled for wildfires. Without much warning, flames jumped toward the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Monday

night. At least three people in Sevier County died in the fires.

But rescue officials haven`t been able to get to all of the affected areas. The smoke is thick. The fire is unpredictable. They say the worst

appeared to be over Tuesday morning. Thought some major tourist attractions like Dollywood and Parrot Mountain and Gardens appear to be

okay. Hundreds of buildings around the area were damaged or destroyed.

People were ordered to evacuate, but some were surrounded by fire and had nowhere to go.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, we saw few people here earlier today that were rushing out to go try to find their pet, because

the flames were just encircling them.

One man had to get in his car, he put the pedal to the metal and he said he drove short through the flames to get out because they were completely

surrounding him. Some of the firefighters this morning were saying that because of the wind, it was knocking the trees down, which was knocking the

power lines down and that was sparking more fires. And so, it just created this domino effect that we couldn`t get ahead of last night in Gatlinburg

and it`s still unknown how many structures are damaged, how many of those beautiful historic structures are damaged.

People`s biggest fear and rumors and what we hear is that it could be hundreds of structures. And so people here are just waiting to hear what

to do next. They don`t know if their neighbors are okay. They have a lot of fear. They just have the clothes on their back, and they`re waiting to

hear what to do next. It`s an incredibly stressful time.


AZUZ: Law enforcement investigators looking into Monday`s attack at Ohio State University now believe the attacker was inspired by terrorists.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan wounded 11 people with a car and a knife before an OSU police officer shot and killed him. Yesterday, officials said Facebook

postings that Artan made before the attack referenced ISIS terrorist propaganda and a Yemeni-American Muslim cleric who worked for the al Qaeda

terrorist group before being killed in the U.S. airstrike. What officials don`t know is if Artan actually communicated before the terrorist group

before the attack.

Hundreds of workers at Chicago O`Hare International, one of America`s busiest airports, went on strike yesterday. They were joined across the

country by Uber drivers, fast food workers, graduate assistants, home care assistants who were participating in what was called Disruption Tuesday.

This event was organized by a group named Fight for 15, as in $15 per hour. That`s what the group wants the U.S. federal minimum wage to be.

Currently, that wage is $7.25 per hour, though some states and cities have set higher minimum wages of their own.

Travel wasn`t significantly disrupted at Chicago O`Hare. A union spokeswoman said that wasn`t the workers` goal and the airlines knew the

strike was coming and made plans in advance.

What striking workers there and in other parts of the U.S. wanted was to raise awareness about their cost. The Fight for 15 group says without a

$15 an hour minimum wage and union rights, workers who make less struggled to feed their families and pay their bills. There were arrests in several

U.S. cities where strikers blocked streets and refused to leave.

Critics of the Fight for 15 goals say the higher minimum wage would force businesses to reduce the number of people they employ in order to pay

others the increase wages. They also say companies might eliminate benefits like health care to cover the increased wages.

The U.S. depends on space more than any other country. And yesterday, we showed you some ways how through technology like GPS, and we discussed how

an attack on that technology could be the next frontier in international warfare. But the U.S. mission in orbit isn`t just to monitor and defend.

It`s working on weapons that could strike back against any empire`s orbital aggression.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Persian Gulf, an instantaneous burst of energy destroys targets --

first on the surface, then in the air. It`s deadly firepower moving, literally, at the speed of light. Obliterating its target, the Navy says,

like a long-distance blowtorch.

This is the US military`s first operational laser weapon, and today, it is deployed to defeat incoming threats at sea. Could it someday be used for

targets in space?

(on camera): Firing lasers in space?


SCIUTTO: Yes, it`s remarkable

GRAZIANI: When you get into this, you get into sorts of other classification levels that I`m not cleared into.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): This would require a major strategic shift for the U.S., deploying weapons for use in space. And so many took notice when in

April this year Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work vowed that the U.S. will strike back if attacked in space. Strike back, he added, and knock them


BOB WORK, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: From the very beginning, if someone starts going after our space constellation, we`re going to go after the

capabilities that would prevent them from doing that.

SCIUTTO (on camera): That sounds like an offensive response to an offensive weapon. If shot, you will shoot back?

WORK: Well, let me just say that having the capability to shoot the torpedo would be a good thing to have in our quiver.

SCIUTTO: When we started this project, I thought of this stuff as being conceptual. This is something they`re thinking about doing, preparing for

the future. But the fact is, it`s happening right now. There are already lasers that have targeted satellites in space to blind them, dazzle them,

put them out of commission.

Now, that`s a current threat, the possibility of deploying lasers in space. But there are other weapons or things that the U.S. is concerned are

weapons that are already up there. Russia has launched a satellite that stalks U.S. communication satellites, circles them. The concern being, it

could ram into them or disable them in another way.

China has launched a satellite that has a grappling arm on it, robotic arm that can grab satellites out of orbit. Of course, China says, well, that`s

for maintenance. The U.S. concern is that that could steal a satellite out of orbit, a key U.S. satellite, whether it`s a spy satellite or GPS

satellites. This is the world we`re living in today, not in some sort of distant science fiction future.


AZUZ: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of nights stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." That

sentence has long been associated with the U.S. Postal Service. And especially in winter weather, it`s comforting to think that nothing will

keep the USPS from delivering mail or reindeer from delivering pizza.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who needs reindeer to deliver presents when they can deliver pizza?

Domino`s in Japan says its training reindeer at a driving school to deliver pizza in one of Japan`s coldest, snowiest regions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If a reindeer runs properly, it can go as fast as 80 kilometers per hour. It`s especially fast on snow as

though it`s equipped with snowshoes.

MOOS: The trainers seem to be having trouble reining in their pizza delivery reindeer which would be equipped with GPS devices so customers can

check on their progress.

(on camera): So how do you say publicity stunt in Japanese?


MOOS (voice-over): Domino`s is no stranger to marketing ploys. Take the edible box Domino`s U.K. dreamed up for April Fool`s.

Just last month, Domino`s in New Zealand demonstrated the pizza delivery drone. It flew to the appointed address and lowered a pizza. Company

officials in New Zealand say that in the next couple of years, drones could make up 25 percent of deliveries.


AZUZ: If it`s right outside, you can call that a reindeer-livery. Assuming they`re cooking more than a pizza publicity, though, is this is

the antler? Seeing a reindeer on the front porch might slay some people, but if that pizza is cold or late, no one`s going to caribout the animal.

I`m Carl Azuz delivering great puns for CNN STUDENT NEWS.