CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. A famous mouse house is adding some x-factors. We'll explain that and run down the cast of characters in CNN Student News. Let's go!
First Up: Wildfires Worsen
AZUZ: First up, a fast-moving wildfire explodes, doubling in size and raging a path across Southern California. One official says the Station Fire, which we reported on yesterday, has "a mind of its own." The blaze had grown to more than 85,000 acres by Monday morning, but it was only about 5 percent contained. Authorities have ordered a mandatory evacuation for anyone in this fire's path. Some people who didn't evacuate were actually trapped. Rob Marciano looks at the threat that this fire poses and the toll that it's already taken.
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MARCIANO: Two firefighters killed when their vehicle rolled down a mountainside. Part of a treacherous battlefield in these hills north of L.A., where the easiest approach is often from the sky. Helicopters and planes attacking what seems to be an endless wall of fire.
MAN ON STREET #1: I'm afraid.
MARCIANO: On the ground, more than 10,000 homes sitting in the fire's path.
MAN ON STREET #2: All we can do is hope for the best.
MARCIANO: Police blocking off neighborhoods and ordering thousands of people to evacuate, a warning the governor urged them to take seriously.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) CALIFORNIA: This is a huge and is a very dangerous fire.
MARCIANO: Not everyone listened. Some, like this man, stayed behind, armed only with a garden hose.
MAN ON STREET #3: I'm trying my best.
MARCIANO: But most grabbed what they could, and left the firefighting to the professionals.
MAN ON STREET #4: We left them a shovel and our hoses.
MARCIANO: The nearly 3,000 firefighters in the fight taking mostly defensive positions, digging in and letting the fire come to them.
MIKE DIETRICH, U.S. FOREST SERVICE INCIDENT CHIEF: The weather, the fuels and the topography are dictating our firefighting actions.
MARCIANO: Their biggest problem this time not wind, but unrelenting heat and too much fuel. The area hasn't seen a major fire in 60 years, and is loaded with dense brush. Up north, wind becoming a very serious threat. Eerie pictures from the town of Auburn, near Sacramento, where a number of homes and buildings burned to the ground. That fast-moving fire eating up 500 acres in just a few hours. Back near L.A., neighbors can only gather on corners and wait, hoping to avoid the same fate.
MAN ON STREET #5: There's still fires here. Like I said, we've got a fire coming down the canyon behind us here too, so we're pretty much surrounded.
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AZUZ: Of course, the details of this story continue to develop as firefighters continue to battle against the Station Fire. Get the latest updates on their efforts; you can always find them online at CNN.com.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Which of the following would you find about 250 miles above the Earth's surface? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it the: A) Stratosphere, B) Moon, C) International space station or D) Skylab? You've got three seconds -- GO! The ISS orbits about 250 miles above your head, traveling at over 17,000 miles per hour! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: And that is also where you'll find the space shuttle Discovery, at least for the next several days. It met up with the international space station on Sunday. While it's there, astronauts plan to unload over seven tons of cargo and take three spacewalks to install some equipment and replace some experiments. There's also a scheduled swap. One astronaut from the ISS is heading back to Earth, while one from the shuttle is staying in space.
Afghan Vote Count
AZUZ: Back on the ground, officials in Afghanistan are counting votes from last month's presidential election. But the results might get held up because of a growing number of complaints about the voting process. As of Sunday, nearly 2,500 complaints had been filed. Authorities say more than 560 of those are serious enough to affect the outcome of the race. In order for the results to be certified, the complaints have to be resolved. With around 48 percent of the votes counted, current President Hamid Karzai is in the lead.
Disney Buys Marvel
AZUZ: And back here in the U.S., Mickey Mouse is teaming up with... Wolverine? It might not sound like a match made in heaven, but it's a match made in Disneyland. The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment, which is home to Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-men and more than 5,000 other characters. Disney says it's hoping the new additions will help the company appeal to you, specifically you guys out there. But it's not gonna be cheap. The Marvel move is costing the mouse house about $4 billion.
Campus Health Care
AZUZ: From comics to college. When you hit campus for your freshman year, there are gonna be some things you'll want to have with you: clothes, computer, TV, maybe a friend? Health insurance probably isn't at the top of your list. It may not even on it. But at some universities, coverage is required. Brianna Keilar takes us to school on some of the reasons why.
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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Freshman move-in day at the University of Maryland. Thousands of students jamming into teeny, tiny dorm rooms. This scene repeats itself every August here, but something's different this year. Like a growing number of colleges, UMD is requiring students to have health insurance, starting with this freshmen class.
KEILAR: Do you think there will be a lot of germs?
MELISSA EPSTEIN, STUDENT: Absolutely! I brought a big container of hand sanitizer, and I plan on using it.
KEILAR: Doctor Gail Lee, the clinical director of the school's health center, says without coverage, students can suffer academically.
DR.GAIL LEE, CLINICAL DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: It can affect their ability to stay in school. It can affect the fact that they might have to go to work to pay off their medical bills.
KEILAR: Historically, Lee says 1 in 15 UMD students have been uninsured. But now, if freshmen don't prove they have health insurance, the university automatically puts them on its student plan.
LEE: It covers a lot of the things that we think are important for students. For example, it covers immunizations. It would cover them if they are a study-abroad student.
KEILAR: For previously uninsured students, it's an added cost of about $100 per month, increasing in-state tuition and fees by 8%.
MAN ON THE STREET: Moving Day!
KEILAR: But for some families, like the Epsteins, it's a bargain alternative to keeping their freshman daughter Melissa on the family's out-of-state insurance. Why the student plan for Melissa?
HOWIE EPSTEIN, MELISSA'S FATHER: We were able to save probably about $400 a month by putting her on her separate plan.
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AZUZ: A lot of people are looking into strategies to save money, whether it's with health insurance or horticulture, growing your own plants and foods. According to officials, so-called "recession gardens" are cropping up all over. Christine Romans talks with some folks who are willing to get their hands dirty in an attempt to save some green.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some nice ones back there.
ROMANS: Here are the real green shoots in the economy. Karen Simonson and Grisella Feliciano work together in the business office at the Queens Botanical Gardens. Before this spring, there wasn't a green thumb between them.
GRISELLA FELICIANO, GARDENER: Since we didn't know how to do it, we figured if we'd do it together it would, you know, save time and just be easier for both of us.
ROMANS: With help from Simonson's daughter Rebecca, they found abundance in a recession.
REBECCA AGURTO, GARDENER: I planted the tomatoes and the string beans and the peppers.
ROMANS: Theirs is one of 43 million food gardens this year. The National Gardening Association says 19 percent of the households growing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs are doing it for the very first time. Vegetable seed sales are up 30 percent. Ball, the popular maker of canning supplies, also saw sales jump 30 percent. And one of the oldest seed catalog companies, a 19th and early 20th century stalwart, is finding new and newly frugal 21st century gardeners.
GEORGE BALL, W. ATLEE BURPEE & CO.: It's not that a vegetable is going to make you money. It's that you're not going to be spending that money in the produce section or the farmer's market or the supermarket. If you spend, say, a hundred dollars on vegetable seeds, you're going to save $2,500, on average, in savings at the supermarket. That's money you can spend on your child's college fund or, you know, buy something, or get the house down payment further advanced.
ROMANS: Saving money, taking control, getting back to basics, and bringing green to your greens.
DAVID ELLIS, AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY: You're controlling how you're growing it. And often, homegrown produce, which you can pluck right off the vine, is very, is really much tastier than vegetables that have been harvested a couple of weeks ahead in the supermarket.
ROMANS: New gardener Simonson says fresh and pesticide-free produce is what got her gardening in the first place.
KAREN SIMONSON, GARDENER: Having my daughter, I've become a little more conscious about what she eats. And being that she's eight years old right now, I thought it was a good activity for us to do together.
ROMANS: And recession or no, next year they'll do it again.
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Before We Go
AZUZ: And finally today, from harvesting food to harvesting energy. This may look like a normal workout. That may look like a normal knee brace. But the technology connected to it is anything but normal. That's because with every step this man takes, he is generating energy! The brace stores it up and transfers it to batteries. About one minute of walking makes enough power for 10 minutes of talking on a normal cell phone.
AZUZ: A walking power generator? Sounds like a big step for technology. We have to hit the road, but the cool thing is, we broadcast on Wednesdays, too, so we hope to see ya then!
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