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Rapidly Growing Smokehouse Creek Fire in Texas; North Korea Welcomes First Foreign Tourists Since The Pandemic; Fisk University Made History as the First HBCU to Have a Gymnastics Program. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired February 29, 2024 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: What`s up sunshine and congrats to all of us for having this extra day in our year, 366 days instead of 365. Thanks to leap

year. Today, we get that rare extra day in February. It`s Thursday, the 29th, happy Friday Eve. I`m Coy Wire. Welcome to CNN 10, the best 10

minutes in news.

We start today in the Northern part of Texas where the Smokehouse Creek fire is one of the several Texas panhandle wildfires, forcing evacuations

of towns, the loss of power and water shortages to thousands of homes and businesses and the temporary shutdown of a nearby nuclear weapons facility

out of an abundance of caution.

At the time of this recording, the fast-moving blaze had scorched through an area spanning approximately 500,000 acres. That`s about 11 times the

size of Washington D.C. making this the second largest wildfire on record in Texas, burning more land in 48 hours than all of the state`s 2023 fires


Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in the area. He urged people to stay safe and to refrain from any activities

that may cause any sort of spark because the conditions there are ripe for further fires, extremely dry, high temperatures, and winds.

Let`s all send some positive energy and thoughts to Texas. We`re going to continue to monitor this situation and keep you up to date right here on

CNN 10.

Pop quiz hot shot. What year was North Korea founded?

1946, 1948, 1950, 1953.

If you said 1948, put your hands up. After World War II, the Korean Peninsula was split in two, along the 38th parallel. That border was upheld

after the Korean War is now called the demilitarized zone or DMZ.

Let`s head to North Korea now, which has been an esoteric isolated place on this planet for years, especially for tourists. But that is changing now as

North Korea welcomed Russian tourists to their country this week. North Korea and Russia have recently developed friendly political and military

ties. And that is raising concern from U.S. intelligence officials.

Lately, many Russian tourists have found themselves unable to visit popular tourism destinations around the world. But North Korea offered a rare

opportunity for about 100 Russian nationals to visit what is called the hermit kingdom. This group is believed to be North Korea`s first tourist

since the pandemic. Our Will Ripley has more.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After years of near total isolation, North Korea is rolling out the red carpet for Russian

visitors. This group of 100 believed to be the first post-pandemic tourists. Visiting Kim Jong-un`s hermetically sealed nation amid its

deepening ties with Russia.

They flew from Vladivostok to Pyongyang on a vintage Russian plane operated by Air Koryo, North Korea`s only airline. I`ve flown it more than a dozen

times when westerners were still allowed in.

This Russian tour and perhaps more to come is about more than sightseeing, it is about the bigger picture of international relations. Russia and North

Korea strengthening ties, icing out the west.

Ilya Voskresensky is a travel blogger from St. Petersburg, a tough job these days. Many European nations ban Russian tourists, the result of

Putin`s war on Ukraine.

ILYA VOSKRESENSKY, TRAVEL VLOGGER (through translator): I signed up for this tour the moment I heard about it. It is like stepping back in time,

reminiscent of the stories my grandparents told me about life in the Soviet Union. The empty streets, the lack of advertisement, its surreal.

RIPLEY: Elena Bychkova is a marketing professional from Moscow.

ELENA BYCHKOVA, MARKETING PROFESSIONAL FROM MOSCOW (through translator): The meticulous preparations for our visit felt like being in a theater

production, but amidst the choreographed scenes, I couldn`t shake the feeling that there another side to North Korea, one that remains hidden.

RIPLEY: Beneath that carefully controlled facade, encounters with North Korean children revealing curiosity, genuine interest in the outside world.


WIRE: All right, so 2024 is a leap year. We get 366 days on the calendar instead of 365. But why, what is a leap year? First off, there are 365 days

in a calendar year because that`s how long it takes for the earth to travel around the sun, right?

Well, it`s actually about 365 and a quarter of a day, which means our calendar gets out of sync by a quarter of a day, each year. So in the year

45, B.C. Julius Caesar declared that every four years a day needed to be added to the calendar to balance things out. Thus, the Julian calendar was

born. But one caveat, it was later determined that it actually takes slightly less than 365 in a quarter days for earth to rotate around the

sun, 44 minutes less to be exact. And over time, those 44 minutes add up.

So in the 16th Century, Pope Gregory XIII tweak the system again so that leap ears would occur in any year that`s divisible by four, but only in

centuries that are evenly divided by 400, confusing, I know. That means that in the 1600s, the 2000s, those have leap years, but not the 1700s,

1800s, and 1900s. Is that math, mathing? Yeah.

OK. Pope Gregory also made February 29th, the official date to add during a leap year. And he dubbed this new system, the Gregorian calendar, and

that`s the one used in the majority of the world today.

Today`s story getting a 10 out of 10 has us flipping out one of the HBCUs historically black college and universities has become the first to have a

gymnastics team. Legends like Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas have inspired a myriad of youngsters to pursue a passion they may not have had otherwise.

And now Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee is helping to create a brighter tomorrow.


NAIMAH MUHAMMAD, GYMNAST, FISK UNIVERSITY: Gymnastics is considered a white sport. If you look at the sport as a whole, there`s probably about 10%

maybe of athletes who would classify themselves as a black athlete in the sport of gymnastics.

The teams I was always on were very supportive, even though, of course, usually I was always like one of two black girls on those teams. I was the

only black girl on many of the teams.

Gabby was like my idol that watched her win the Olympics. And that inspired me to take gymnastics a little bit more seriously. Getting ready for

competitions, you know, everyone will do their hair together and stuff, and my hair is way different texture from anyone else`s.

I absolutely hated my hair. You`re constantly surrounded by girls that are just doing slick backs and, like, can put their hair up in a bun easily and

stuff. And it`s like, OK, well, my hair doesn`t do that.

CORRINNE TARVER, HEAD GYMNASTICS COACH, FISK UNIVERSITY: We`re gone cheer her on. And then she`s going to do a routine.

MUHAMMAD: The first thing I noticed about Coach Dee was that she had locs. This was the first time I`ve ever had a black woman coach in my life. And

she had hair that looked like me. And now I`m on a team with girls with hair like mine, and they can help me with my hair. And I don`t feel like I

have to change anything about myself to fit in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s go, right here. That hand. Go Zana.

TARVER: Sometimes they had to choose between an HBCU or gymnastics. And so now they don`t have to choose. It is the first gymnastics program at an

HBCU or historically black college or university in history.

And Naimah is remembered as the first HBCU gymnast to ever compete in history.

MUHAMMAD: And that was like crazy, high emotions. I was crying. I was like, oh my God, this is amazing. Every meet after that, we would be signing

autographs or meeting young girls after the competitions, because this was huge for them.

I get so many DMs and so many messages. And so many -- I get tagged in so many posts from the low black gymnasts all over. You`re one of her favorite

gymnasts to watch. Do you think maybe you could send her some motivation. You were truly an inspiration.

This girl Kamaya. She did her black history month project on me. It was like, she wrote like a whole thing. And that`s also funny because I -- I --

I did -- I did a black history remote project on Gabby Douglas. So it is a full circle thing. I remember making -- like, doing a project like this.

Now someone`s doing one on me.

TARVER: We still have a long way to go. Now, as a young gymnast, you`re going to see people who look like you year after year after year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bulldogs on me. Bulldogs on three. 1, 2, 3.

ALL: Bulldogs.


WIRE: Rise up higher and higher, we go. One quick random thought for you this Thursday. How is it that our brains remember that we forgot something,

but we can`t remember what that thing was. One thing I will not forget, shout out time. This shout out goes to Godley High School in Godley, Texas,

go Wildcats. And this shout out goes to the Cougars at South Pontotoc Middle School in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Keep it 100, y`all especially in

that grade book.

See you tomorrow superstars. It`ll be Friyay. We`ll finish this week strong. I`m Coy Wire and we are CNN 10.