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CNN 10

An Oil Spill Near Asia; The Volatility of Bitcoin; A Miserable Flu Season; Banking on Cheese

Aired January 19, 2018 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hi. I`m Carl Azuz. And for those of you who are wondering, Fridays are awesome. Thank you for watching CNN 10 on this

January 19th.

Paris, France, is just over 40 square miles in area. That`s also about the size of an oil spill that`s spreading in the East China Sea.

It started when an Iranian oil tanker collided with a freighter from Hong Kong. That happened on January 7. The oil ship caught fire, and stayed

afloat, burning, until it exploded and sank a week later on January 14th.

Officials believe all of its 34 crew members died in the accident. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of condensate oil. It`s a type used to

jet fuel and it`s lighter in color than the thick black crude oil that`s been seen in other oil spills.

But though environmentalists say some of the oil on board the ship probably burn in the fire, their concern that what remained could still hurt marine

life in the area, like whales and porpoises. They`re also worried that the fuel that power the ship will leak as well, and that could make things

worse. It`s very toxic.

The oil slick, China says there are four of them, almost doubled in size this week. Other boats are in this area of the East China Sea, working to

clean up the oil and environmental group Greenpeace expects any contamination to stay relatively close to the sunken ship, though winds

have pushed the spill east toward Japan.

There have been some breakneck swings in the value of bitcoin. We reported on this digital form of currency last month. It was created in 2009.

People can either buy bitcoin units or mine them, use computers to solve complicated math puzzles to create bitcoin, and huge amounts of computer

energy are being used to do that.

But there`s a lot of uncertainty about the currency. It`s volatile, highly changeable, like all cryptocurrencies. And an example of that played out

in recent days when bitcoin`s value took a nosedive, temporarily dropping to below $10,000 earlier this week. A single bitcoin was valued at nearly

$20,000 in December.

Investors don`t know exactly why the drop happened, but the Bloomberg Financial and Media Company reported early this week that Chinese officials

were taking steps to limit trading in cryptocurrencies. And South Korea also took steps to regulate exchanges of digital currency.


AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia.

H1N1 and H3N2 are examples of what?

Asteroids, flu strains, chicken breeds or robots?

With an H4 hemagglutinin and an N4 neuraminidase, these are examples of strains of the flu.


AZUZ: And a flu strain circulating in the U.S. this year, like the one that hit Australia last year, is a nasty one. Widespread flu activities

are being reported in every part of the continental U.S. at the same time. This is the first year that`s happened in the 13 years that the Centers of

Disease Control has been monitoring the flu.

One reason: these year`s vaccine doesn`t appear to be very effective against the actual flu virus that`s spreading.

Experts predict it will be about 30 percent effective. In recent years, the vaccine has been 40 and 50 percent effective, though there was an

exception in the 2014 to 2015 season when the vaccine was only 19 percent effective, according to the CDC. And "The New York Times" reports that

this season is looking a lot like that one.

The hopeful news is that experts think the flu season maybe hitting its worst point and that it`s starting to level off. But it takes weeks for

flu activity t actually slow down.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me try and settle this flu shot thing, although I`m sure it`s going to keep coming up again

and again.

SUBTITLE: Debunking flu myths.

GUPTA: You can`t get the flu from the flu shot. It`s a dead virus, it can`t actually cause flu.

Why do people feel sort of crummy afterward? It`s because the flu vaccine is actually working, making your immune system fire up, get ready and

recognize it, if it actually sees the flu, how to kill it.

No, it`s not 100 percent fail safe. But it`s still going to offer a lot of protection, so you are not going to be as sick as likely to get sick or if

you do get sick, have a shorter duration.

OK, so if you are like me, your mom probably said, don`t go outside in the cold without your hat on, you are going to catch the flu. You can`t catch

the flu from just simply being outside in the cold.

But it does raise the question, why are there so many more flu cases in the winter months? You are likely to stay indoors more. So, if one person is

sick, more people are likely to get sick.

The sun is lower in the sky, and as a result, you have less Vitamin D actually being produced in your body. Your immune system starts to get

suppressed a little bit. You are more likely to get sick with the flu.

The winter months tend to be lower humidity. Viruses like the flu virus they like lower humidity. They are likely to live longer.

So, your mom may have been right -- I mean, look, moms are always right, but maybe not for the reasons you originally thought.


AZUZ: We`re bringing it back to currency for our next "Great Big Story". Besides bitcoin as an alternative form of money, mobile phone minutes have

been accepted as payments in some countries. Shells and stones pass as cash in some island nations. And in part of Italy, a famous type of cheese

isn`t just worth money, it`s invested, stored, and exchanged as currency.


REPORTER: Let`s say you`re a cheese producer and you need a loan because you want to buy a tractor or food for your cows or really just about

anything. There`s a bank in Italy that will take your cheese and give you cash.

This is the story of three men and millions of dollars worth of cheese.

SUBTITLE: Banking on cheese.

REPORTER: Meet Mauro --


REPORTER: He`s a cheese producer in the Emiliano region of Italy. He produces Parmigiano-Reggiano, the so-called king of cheese.

ROSSI (translated): This dairy farm produces 60 wheels of cheese per day for a total of about 20,000 wheels in one year.

REPORTER: Twenty thousand wheels? Holy cow, it`s a lot of cheese.

When Mauro or another cheese producer in this part of Italy needs a loan, they go to Credito Emiliano, a big Italian bank. And like any bank,

Credito Emiliano needs collateral for their loan.

ROSSI: So I give them my cheese.

REPORTER: And to do that, he talks to Fausto.


REPORTER: He works for Credito Emiliano.

FILIPPI (translated): We are a traditional bank, and we are also a bank active in supporting Parmigiano-Reggiano producers.

REPORTER: Parmigiano-Reggiano is a special kind of cheese because it needs to be aged for 18 to 36 months and will can be worth thousands of dollars,

making it a safe long-term investment for the bank.

FILIPPI: The decision to use Parmigiano-Reggiano for this type of credit program is simply due to the fact that this is typical product that is

unique to this area.

REPORTER: To be clear, the bank doesn`t store the valuable cheese in its vaults next to gold bars and stacks of cash. They have a special cheese

warehouse down the road filled with thousands and thousands of wheels of cheese.

That`s where Roberto comes in. He`s the general director of the Tagliate General Warehouses. That`s where Credito Emiliano stores their cheese.

ROBERTO FRIGNANI, TAGLIATE GENERAL WAREHOUSE (translated): We take care of the cheese on behalf of the clients.

REPORTER: Roberto and his team take care of more than 300,000 wheels of cheese. It`s currently worth more than 160 million euros. Without proper

care, cheese could lose its value.

FRIGNANI: We protect the producer`s investment, basically from cow to the bank.

REPORTER: Well, Roberto, it sounds to me like the cow, the bank and the cheese are in good hands.


AZUZ: If you`re aquaphobic, bathophobic or claustrophobic, turn away, because we`re diving deep into what experts believe is the world`s biggest

underwater cave. It was identified when divers recently found out that two flooded caverns in Mexico were actually connected. The cave is 2016 miles

long and scientists hope it will help them learn more about the ancient Mayan civilians because they`re settlements apparently run along this cave


Of course, if you`re more of a Copernicus than a cavernicous (ph), if you`d rather be starry-eyed than watery-eyed, you`d rather aim high than dive

deep, and you tend to cave under water pressure, you stalagmite want to drip elsewhere for va-cave-tion. This kind of dive is for those who tank

their spelunky stars when something leaves them breathless. Have a great weekend.