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U.S. Forces Stay in Afghanistan; Typhoon Hagupit in Philippines; Protecting U.S. Cyber Security; Space Capsule Orion Launch

Aired December 08, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN STUDENT NEWS. Ten minutes of current events for middle and high school classrooms, no commercials. From the CNN

Center, I`m Carl Azuz. We are taking you to Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. troops are serving in the Middle Eastern country. It`s part of the

U.S.-led war that began there in 2001. The U.S. government had planned to reduce the number of those troops at the end of this year.

But it announced over the weekend that some U.S. forces wouldn`t be coming home as soon as originally planned.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This will remain a delayed withdrawal of up to 1,000 U.S. troops, so that up to 10,800 troops rather than 9,800

could remain in Afghanistan through the end of this year, and for the first few months next year.


AZUZ: There`s been a recent increase of attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The Taliban are responsible. They are Afghanistan`s former rulers

who support al Qaeda terrorists, but the U.S. says that`s not the reason why American troops are staying. Afghanistan`s previous government didn`t

want U.S. troops to stay after this year. It wouldn`t sign an agreement to allow that. But the country`s new government has signed the security

agreement. By the end of next year, U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan are scheduled to be about half of what they are now. The Pentagon says Afghan

forces are currently leading about 99 percent of the mission`s they go on.

The typhoon we told you about last week dragged across the Philippines yesterday. Hagupit means lash in Philippino (sic), and that`s exactly what

it did to the Pacific Island nation. Hagupit did lose some power before making landfall. It came ashore at the strength of a category two

hurricane with wind speeds around 100 miles per hour. But the system moved slowly, and because of that Hagupit`s rain threatened severe flooding in

landslides. At least three deaths have been blamed on this storm, more than 900,000 people were affected, most of them evacuating their homes.

Still, it wasn`t as devastating as the typhoon that hit last year. Haiyan killed 6,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Each day`s transcript page at is the only place we look for "Roll Call" Requests. Like the one that came in this weekend from

Pinckneyville Illinois. Hello to the Panthers of Pinckneyville community high school. In East Greenwich, Rhode Island, the ocean state, we`ve got

the jaguars on the roll from our Lady of Mercy School. And in Oelwein, Iowa, say "hi" to the Huskies. They are watching from Oelwein Middle.

We`ve coverage stories involving the DEA, the FDA, the TSA. Today, we are taking you inside the NCCIC, lots of letters. It`s the National Cyber

Security and Communications Integration Center. It`s part of the department of Homeland Security. Its job keep hackers out of the

infrastructure we depend on every single day. And its abilities are tested every single day.


SUZANNE E. SPAULDING, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is really the heart of our cyber security efforts here.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How vulnerable is the United States to some sort of massive critical infrastructure event?

SPAULDING: We operate on the assumption that that kind of an event could happen at any time. We are seeing a constant strain of folks trying to

breach our networks, our systems across the country. All the time, all day, seven days a week, there`s the potential there for adversaries to get

into those control systems. Those systems that really run machinery whether it`s gates on dams or parts of the electric grid across our sectors

that could have physical consequences.

Electricity and water and transportation, our financial services sector - most of those are actually owned by the private sector - they are not owned

by the government. And the private sector has a responsibility, and we do everything we can to assist them.

FEYERICK: Do you think that the private sector is - the level it needs to be at given the number of cyber-attacks you see every single day?

SPAULDING: No, it`s not. But it`s getting better every day.

Here we`ve got an amber, which tells us that there`s some activity, potentially, with regard to the National Aeronautics and Space


FEYERICK: Some people have described this as significant as knowing about the hijackers pre-9/11. Is that the risk in vulnerability that we are at

right now?

SPAULDING: What we are worried about in 9/11, was a failure to connect the dots. What we are trying to do here in the NCCIC is to connect as many of

these dots as we can.

We are fighting this fight day in and day out, on a collaborative basis, and with - with every intention to prevent that kind of catastrophic



AZUZ: It was delay today, but NASA`s latest space capsule named Orion, did get off the ground. It launched Friday from Kennedy Space Center in

Florida. Orion flew around the Earth two times at 4.5 hours. And it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Northern Mexico, the

mission a success. Orion`s designed to carry as many as six astronauts, but there was no one aboard on the $370 million test flight. It was done

to make sure the craft could get in the space and back down to Earth before anyone actually travels on it.

NASA`s administrator called the flight day one of the Mars era. It`s hope that Orion will ultimately carry humans to the red planet and maybe an

asteroid. But some lawmakers and scientists have criticized that idea for being too expensive and risky.

Time for "The Shoutout." Saccharine, sucralose and aspartame are all types of what? If you think you know it, shout it out! Are they gasoline

additives, food preservatives, chemical salts or artificial sweeteners? You`ve got three seconds, go!

They are all artificial and they are all sweet. Hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."

So, while they are not natural, artificial sweeteners are chemical compounds. They are sweet. They can be used in everything from gum to

yoghurt. Cupcakes to diet sodas. And they have no calories in many cases unlike actual sugar, which has about 16 calories in a teaspoon. But does

that mean the artificial stuff is healthier and that it will help you lose weight? Not necessarily.


DHANI JONES: Let`s talk about diet sodas. You see them everywhere, from people who look like they might be trying to lose weight to people who

clearly just love the drinks. But are they actually living up to their diet name? What is exactly in diet soda? What does it do to our bodies?

Does it actually help us lose weight?

There are five different kinds of FDA approved artificial sweeteners and when you pick up a diet soda, the sweetener you most likely to (INAUDIBLE)

aspartame, which is composite of two amino acids - aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Got it?

Now, one of the more popular rumors about the sweeteners and diet soda is that it can cause cancer. And while there have been a few studies that

linked different sweeteners to cancer in rats, scientists don`t think there`s the same risk in humans, but this doesn`t mean that this fake

sugars don`t do some funky stuff to our bodies. Sweeteners such as aspartame actually trigger our body`s taste receptions and trick them into

believing it`s sugar.

So, according to researchers at Purdue University, artificial sweeteners and diet sodas fulfill your body sensory craving for sweets, and as

advertised, they don`t deliver the calories. But this is the problem. Data sodas are actually crying wolf to your body. When this happens, your

body becomes confused about how to respond when it`s expected to be sugar and doesn`t get it.

This has real physiological effects and your body doesn`t release the hormone that regulates blood pressure and blood sugar.

Also, these sweeteners weaken the reward center of the brain which could actually lead to increased appetite and over indulgence on real sweets.

So, the study found that artificial sweeteners can actually lead to weight gains. That`s not what I signed up for. Now, it`s worth noting that the

American Beverage Association has disputed the reports calling it "An Opinion Peace.

In the meantime, it`s probably best to enjoy your favorite soda. Diet or not, in moderation.


AZUZ: On the list of animals you probably didn`t know could swim, there`s this owl: the great horned owl is doing the butterfly stroke across Lake

Michigan. Two pilgrim (ph) falcons reportedly swoop down on the owl`s tree and forced it into the water. So, it just swam for a while, until someone

helped it out with a metal detector. After arrest from the swim and a break from the falcons, they owl eventually made its way back to the trees.

Don`t know if he had done that before or if it`s just kind of wing it. Swimming is definitely not for the birds, like it or not, a gun away, every

time that Falcons attacked, they Michigan. Maybe the owl`s technique could use some felps (ph), but it`s got the escape - all locked it up, and then

we`ve got to dug out today. I`ll see you tomorrow on CNN STUDENT NEWS.