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Strong Earthquake in Japan; Possible Flooding in Western New York; Retailers Prepare for Thanksgiving Shopping; First U.S. Paralyzed Veteran Who Can Walk

Aired November 24, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. This is the first of two shows we are producing this week before the Thanksgiving holiday. I`m

Carl Azuz.

The Pacific Island nation of Japan sees about 1500 tremors every year, one of them shook the central part of the country on Saturday night. Japan`s

meteorological agency says it was magnitude 6.8. The U.S. Geological Survey put it at magnitude 6.2. Either way, it was strong. The quake

injured dozens of people, at least seven of them seriously. It was centered in a remote area of the mountains, and it seriously damaged or

destroyed several structures at the ski resort.

Also, landslides. They flattened houses, have blocked warped roadways. There have been aftershocks as well, one of them measuring magnitude 4.1.

But now tsunami warnings were given, and 21 people who`ve been trapped in their homes were rescued.

Across the Pacific now, to an American city hit by another natural disaster. Lake effect snow. And if that doesn`t sound disastrous, get a

look at what it did to Buffalo, New York last week. Some spots got 86 inches of snow, a whole year`s worth in just three days. A resident says

people came together to help one another in the city of good neighbors, but there`s another threat now, one that New York`s governor says it worse than

the snow.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much snow out here, in and around the city of Buffalo, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is saying that he is

satisfied with the progress that they are making in the snow removal operation. Now, a number of state officials here in western New York, and

they are preparing for another possibility: severe flooding that governor has warned this area can see more significant flooding than it`s seen in a

very long time.

The forecast calls for the temperature to warm up over the next several days. If it happens as quickly as it`s forecast to do, that`s when you can

see some really serious flooding. Man power is being brought to this part of the state along with resources.

500 National Guards men and women are in place ready to respond if needed. On top of that more than 50 swiftwater rescue boats and crews. There are

also high axel vehicles that could go into several feet of water in order to make rescues if necessary. Hundreds of pumps have been brought in in

the anticipation of potential flooding, and also 176,000 sandbags.

Everyone here is hoping that that temperature rise will happen more gradually, and that officials will be able to get more snow out of the area

before flooding becomes a big problem.

But in the meantime, home owners are working really hard to stay ahead of the game here. There is some rain in the forecast, so people are trying to

get the shovels out, get the snow off the roof. They don`t want that rain to combine with the snow, that`s when you see more roofs collapsing.

Already in the last few days, several dozen roofs have collapsed. We know that if more rain comes, that will put more homes in danger.


AZUZ: Time for "The Shoutout." In the business world, what colors associated with making a profit? If you think you know it, shout it out!

Is it green, red, black or blue? You`ve got three seconds, go!

When a business is in the black, it means it`s making a profit. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

That`s where the term Black Friday comes from. It`s the day after Thanksgiving, and it`s a massive shopping day in the U.S. So much so that

retail stores and chains are hoping that`s the day that puts them in the black for the year. As this Black Friday approaches, U.S. consumer

confidence is up. According to recent polls, that can mean people are more optimistic about the economy. Something else may fuel their spending.


CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With Thanksgiving around the corner, retailers are gearing up for a battle. And here is why: stores can make

up to 40 percent of their annual profits in just the last six weeks of the year. But there`s a problem these days. The shopping holiday season isn`t

what it once was. In 2004, sales grew nearly seven percent. In 2013, the sales increase was less than half that. This year retailers have a little

bit of a unique opportunity. Low gas prices. People have a little extra spending money.

So, with billions of dollars at stake, here are a few strategies that brick and mortar stores are using to get a piece of the action: one, retailers

are rolling out promotions early. More people are shopping in November, before Black Friday. So, names like Target are promoting pre- Black Friday

sales. And K-Mart and RadioShack are opening stores on Thanksgiving morning.

Two, minimize wait times. Stores are increasing staff and mobile checkouts. The fact is, shoppers are more valuable than ever before. So,

stores are really working hard to keep them happy.

Three, focus on online sales. Researcher NPD Group says 60 percent of consumers plan to shop online this year. So, expect more special online

and mobile deal, and fewer shipping fees, but at the end of the day, these tactics can only go so far. Ultimately, what people spend and where they

spend it, comes down to a filling how they feel about their job, the economy, and how much money is in their pocket.

In New York, I`m Cristina Alesci.


AZUZ: The bronze star is a U.S. military award for heroism. And one man who earned it is Captain Derek Herrera. After he was hit by a sniper`s

bullet during a patrol in Afghanistan, he helped save the life of a fellow Marine and continued to direct his team during a firefight. His

perseverance, helping him stand to receive his award is today`s study in character.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What makes Marine Special Operations Captain Derek Herrera a hero is not just his actions on the battlefield.

CAPT. DEREK HERRERA, 1ST MARINE SPECIAL OPERATIONS BATTALION: I was on the rooftop observing some suspicious activity, and the valley .

LAH: It was just after sunrise, June 14th, 2012, he was leading a patrol in Afghanistan`s Helmand province.

HERRERA: And all of a sudden, I just felt kind of a pulsing sensation on my back.

LAH: It was an ambush. A bullet from an AK-47 lodged in his spine.

HERRERA: As I was lying there, immediately knew and had some pain and just kind of almost felt like electrical stimulation just kind of pulsing

through my back.

LAH: Everything in your life has changed very suddenly.

HERRERA: There was. Yeah. In an instant, you know, and it`s one way it would have missed me completely, and it`s the other way, it would have gone

straight to my heart and killed me.

LAH (voice over): Months of rehabilitation would follow. A new battle for the officer adjusting to being completely paralyzed from the chest down.

HERRERA: Overtime I came to realize that of the many friends that I`ve had who`ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Any one of those guys

would be happy to be in my position and continue to leave a life.

LAH: One of those guys, Captain Matthew Manukian (ph), a friend whose name he wears in bronze.

(on camera): Tell me about your bracelet.

HERRERA: I wear that every day just to try to remind myself and try to have a small visible reminder of the sacrifices that these guys have made

and remind myself that, you know, that I have a gift and I`m happy to be here and still able to continue to move forward.

LAH: And moving forward is literally what he is doing. Just needs a little help. This is the ReWalk exoskeleton. An FDA approved $70,000

wearable robotic device that powers Herrera`s hip and knee motion. It allows him to walk on his own. The first American to own one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the bronze star medal to Captain Derek J. Herrera.

LAH: Now, the first paralyzed service member to stand and walk as he receives his bronze star with valor.

HERRERA: I`ve been able to stand and receive this award, which is kind of - It will be a symbol and show others that I`m not out of fight.

LAH: Captain Herrera retires out of the service. His next battle already underway. Kyung Lah, CNN, Camp Pendleton.


AZUZ: Roll Call. Let`s get started in Fairville, North Carolina, Wolferines are on the scene. We`ve got Westover High School in the Tar

Hill State. Next, to big sky country. Camp "Beat the Bulldogs. They are at Whitefish Middle School in Whitefish, Montana and in Inglewood,

California, the Eagles are soaring high over the Golden state. Good to see Animo Inglewood Charter High School.

Miso isn`t just a cheese, it`s the name of a dog whose owner call a goofy silly weirdo. So in point, doorways. He doesn`t walk into a bedroom the

traditional way. He backs himself in that will give you a pause. There are no signs of abuse in case of his past, and his owners don`t think it`s

the actual doorway that troubles him. They think it`s the transition between the hardwood floor and the carpet. When he leaves the room, he

does it face first. OK, so, what do you say about that? That he doesn`t adore doorways that he just wants a little backup, that he`s got a little

too much swag. Maybe putting his back foot forward is his best foot foot wood to embark a foot upon a floor upon all fours of backwards. Too late

to back out now. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.