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CNN 10

A Change in China`s Government: A Teachers` Strike in West Virginia; The Science of Blockchain; The Possible Future of Fabrics

Aired February 27, 2018 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Your daily 10-minute explanation of world news starts right now. This is CNN 10 and I`m Carl Azuz.

Not since the death of Mao Zedong has a Chinese leader been as powerful as President Xi Jinping. Zedong founded China`s communist government and

following his death in 1976, experts say the nation`s government wasn`t so much focused on one man rule as it was in a sort of power-sharing system,

by a handful of high-ranking officials in the communist party.

China still has presidents, though, and since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, his position as core leader of the ruling party has only

gotten stronger. And this week, China`s government announced it is getting rid of presidential term limits. If it hadn`t done this, President Xi

would have moved on in 2023. Now that it has, he`s expected to remain China`s leader indefinitely.

While this makes his position appear stronger, some international analysts say it could be viewed as a sign of weakness, that the Chinese leaders

trying to prevent any political rivals from rising up. They also say he`ll carry more responsibility for better or for worse. Any sudden problems

with the economy, with China`s foreign policy could squarely be blamed on president Xi. But at this point, as it has been for several years now, the

Chinese government is behind him.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, the proposal would be voted on by the National People`s Congress in March, but rest assured that the body that

most people referred to as a rubber stamp parliament does what communist leadership tells it to, and that means that these term limits will be


So, what does that mean?

Well, really, it`s the most tangible sign yet that Xi Jinping plans to rule China for a very long time especially when you look at this move in a

broader context. It was in the fall of last year that Xi was not only reelected as the general secretary of the communist party, but he had his

name enshrined in the communist party constitution with the inclusion of, quote, Xi Jinping`s thought, his guiding principles on what he calls a new

era of socialism, that made him the most powerful Chinese politician since Mao Zedong, the founder of communist China.


AZUZ: Every public in the American state of West Virginia has been closed for the past three days while teachers and other school employees are on

strike. They`re calling for higher wages and better health care benefits.

In 2017, West Virginia ranked 48 out of the 50 states in average teacher salary. Governor Jim Justice signed legislation last week that gives

educators a 2 percent pay raise starting this summer and increases 1 percent next year and the year after.

But teachers there have other concerns about health insurance and taxes that the law doesn`t address. Governor Justice says he hasn`t forgotten

teachers, but that they should be back in the classroom. And some state lawmakers agree. While the strike goes on, churches and community centers

have programs for students so working parents don`t have to stay home. And teachers and food pantries are sending extra meals to students who normally

get them at school.

There are almost 20,000 teachers and more than 277,000 students enrolled in West Virginia`s public schools.


RAMY ZABARAH, MULTIPLATFORM EDITOR, CNNMONEY: Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have been getting a lot of hype lately. And while

some investors believe that these coins could be the future of money, other experts believe that what`s actually more valuable is the underlying

technology. It`s known as Blockchain.

It`s basically a public list of transactions, a more transparent record. You could think of this digital ledger like a game of dominoes. The

Blockchain is powered by a decentralized network of computers that all work on the same task, no one owns the system, everyone helps run it.

Whenever a transaction is initiated between two computers, it has to be certified by another. That makes it difficult for anyone that cheat. For

the sale to go through, a bunch of mining computers have to try and solve a cryptographic puzzle, sort of like a really complicated math problem. Once

one computer solves that puzzle, a record of a successful transaction gets added to the list for everyone to see. All editions are permanent, so no

one can delete or change the data. You could only keep at it.

You maybe asking yourself, what`s so great about this glorified list? Well, since the ledger can`t be changed after the fact, getting away with

fraud is a lot harder. Blockchain advocates also argue that this technology cuts out the middleman by fulfilling the role of institutions

like banks and government agencies. This means more direct access to your property, not to mention the possibility of much smaller transaction fees.

Sounds promising, but does it live up to the hype?

The exchange of cryptocurrencies is a clear use case. But Blockchain could also be useful for other types of record keeping. Let`s say you`re a

farmer and you lose the deed to your land in a fire or a flood. If the government lost your paperwork, too, you may be out of luck. But if you

uploaded that deed to the Blockchain, it`s easy to prove that you own that land.

In fact, people are experimenting with Blockchain technology in a variety of places, from preventing voter fraud to storing health records, to

authenticating memes on the Internet, even the very institutions Blockchain threatens to disrupt, or exploring the technology`s possibilities with

companies like Bank of America investing in their own Blockchain tools. But for right now, those experiments are still in the early stages and it

might be a while before we see the kind of crazy Blockchain takeover that the media is talking about.


AZUZ: On average, Americans spend more than $250 billion on clothing every year. That works to over $600 annually for every person in the country.

But whether we outgrow or outlast the clothes we get, there are some groups looking to outsmart nature when it comes to the fabrics they`re made of.

Does the future of leather and silk come from collagen and yeast?


RACHEL CRANE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How we get rid of our own clothes isn`t exactly environmentally friendly. According to 2014

report from the Environmental Protection Agency, 80 percent of our clothes and shoes end up in landfills. And that cheap polyester, it takes way

longer to decompose in cotton or wool. For bio fabric company Bolt Threads, greener materials come from an unusual source.

(on camera): Where did the inspiration for this micro silk come from?

DAN WIDMAIER, CEO, BOLT THREADS: Mostly years of frustration of scientists in graduate school. Spider silk without spiders, this is not a new idea.

It`s been around for about 50 years, but no one can make it.

CRANE (voice-over): Spider silk is surprisingly strong, making it in a factory starts by isolating the proteins that make it so stuff. They

recreate them here in these tanks, using yeast and sugar.

(on camera): And how long does the whole process take?

WIDMAIER: This is about a three-day process.


WIDMAIER: This had actually turns out to be about 10 percent lighter fabric and about 30 percent warmer. So, we actually learned this on

accident. What we`re finding is, just the new technology with a massive amount of potential ahead of us, there`s a lot of things that are created

by it that we don`t even understand yet that we learn along the way.

CRANE (voice-over): While Bolt uses yeast to create spider silk, at Modern Meadow, they`re using yeast to grow leather.

DAVID WILLIAMSON, CTO, MODERN MEADOW: If you think about the basic building blocks of leather, which is collagen, you and I are made of

collagen, you know, leathers are made of collagen.

CRANE (on camera): Keeps our faces --

WILLIAMSON: Keeps your face, you know, soft and blush and youthful, right?

But rather than have to rely on the animal to make that collagen, we use the most cutting edge technologies in terms genetic engineering of yeast.

So, we get our yeast to make our collagen.

CRANE: So, you`re basically trying to tell the collagen, be yourself after cow (ph) collagen.

WILLIAMSON: Yes, or any kind of collagen in reality because we`re not limited by, you know, any real constraints, other than our ability to put

the DNA together.

CRANE (voice-over): They call their bio leather Zoa and it`s designed to look and feel like leather, but it removes animals from the leather making


ANDRAS FORGACS, CEO, MODERN MEADOW: You can paint with it. You can spray it, by being able to work with our materials as a liquid, it opens up

entirely new design possibilities and new functionalities.

CRANE (on camera): And these are all things that couldn`t be done with traditional leather?

FORGACS: Could not be done with traditional leather. With traditional leather, you have to work around the imperfections. You have to work

around the irregular shape and size of the material. It actually has a very long and somewhat problematic supply chain. It takes a, you know, a

huge environmental footprint to make leather.

We`re about being able to create materials that allow us to be consumers for the long run.

CRANE (voice-over): Bolt`s spider silk hat will set you back nearly $200 and Zoa won`t come cheap either. The company is planning on partnering

first with high end retailers.

FORGACS: And the reason why we`re starting with our partners who are focused on very high end applications is because we want to make it really

desirable. But that`s not to say that this technology would not be competitive on a price basis and the long term. It just has to get the

scale because right now, leather as a material has had, you know, 2,000 years of advantage. We`re just starting out.

CRANE: Could your future closet be full of spider silk and lab grown leather? Maybe. But the high price tag could keep consumers away from

these new products, despite their eco friendly creed.


AZUZ: For "10 Out of 10", a common winter time scene in an uncommon place.

This is a snowball fight. What`s usually here is that it`s being held in St. Peter`s Square in Vatican City. The temperature there on a normal

February day is 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It`s been closer to 25 degrees this week, thanks to a rare and dramatic cold snap.

Schools were closed, public transportation were shut down and nuns, priests and theology students all came out to play.

Of course, they`re having a ball, but does hurling a snowball at a religious leader make you cold-hearted? Celebrating snow maybe just a

theological thing to do, when it`s cold and when in Rome. And thankfully, the mood was warmer than the weather.

I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10.