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CNN 10 - March 19, 2018

CNN 10

Russians Go to the Polls; Sherpas Work to Clean Up Mount Everest; A Positive Athlete Invites Others to Wheelchair Basketball

Aired March 19, 2018 - 04:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello to everyone watching around the world. I`m Carl Azuz. CNN 10 is jumping right into global news this Monday, explaining the significance of an election in the world`s largest country.

Russia is so huge that it stretches across 11 time zones. There are about 97,000 places where people can vote here, and more than 107 million Russians are eligible to do that. The country is a presidential federation where voters directly choose their leader. Whoever wins the majority vote wins the presidency. And the nation`s current president, Vladimir Putin, was widely expected to win another six-year term.

Mr. Putin was first appointed president in 1999. He won an election the next year and he won the next election as well. Russian leaders can only serve two consecutive terms, but Putin was appointed prime minister by his successor in 2008, and he was elected again as president in 2012. So, a win on Sunday would give him his fourth term as Russia`s leader.

President Putin is a controversial figure on the world stage. And according to U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Russia`s move toward an authoritarian state under Putin`s leadership, meaning that the government has become more controlling of people`s lives. Those who opposed his leadership and an election monitoring group say there have been some irregularities in this vote, like incidents that keep election observers from doing their jobs, and accusations of ballot box fraud.

Russia`s central election commission says 15 different countries have tried to hack its Website. But despite and the fact that several other candidates are challenging President Putin for his job, analysts say many Russians see him as a strongman who brought the nation to stability, after chaos followed the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. That`s part of the reason why he`s expected to stay right where he is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some have argued Vladimir Putin could be the most powerful man in the world. Not everyone sees him that way. But Putin has powerful levers he`s often willing to use, including cyber power, military might and the cult of personality.

Together, they form an often effective web of influence. While Moscow denies its highly skilled hackers tried to influence the U.S. election, they`ve also been accused of spying and causing big disruptions in other countries, like Estonia and Ukraine, claims Russia also rejects. Russia`s enormous hacking power, state and criminal, isn`t new. It traces back to the USSR, when its universities were designed to produce world class engineers.

Putin`s power is also hugely enhanced by his very personal control of Russia`s vast military, much of it, including the nukes, is also a Soviet legacy. So, Putin is pumping extraordinary amounts of money to modernization. But most analysts agree Russia`s conventional forces are still only mighty enough to project power close to its borders. Russia also used limited air power to successfully prop-up the Syria regime, but critics say that works because of Putin`s willingness to indiscriminately bombard civilian areas, something Moscow denies.

One of the biggest sources of Putin`s power is his own extraordinary popularity at home. The more other world leaders criticized him, the more Russians celebrate its president. His approval figures soared with Ukraine and spiked again with Syria. The reason: many Russians really care about their country`s ability to influence world even if it comes to sanctions and a hit to their own quality of life, they`re proud of it.

Putin also benefits from a political system and the media landscape with zero tolerance for criticism. So, no doubt Vladimir Putin is powerful and unpredictable. But he`s also limited by some pretty big problems.

That`s why there`s another popular theory about Putin and his web of influence, as someone who plays a weak hand very well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

In what year did Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first climbers to summit Mount Everest?

1885, 1929, 1947, or 1953?

It was in 1953 that the mountaineers from New Zealand and Tibet reached the top of the world`s highest mountain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: Since then, more than 4,000 people have reached the summit of Mount Everest and almost 300 people have died trying to get there. The government of Nepal believes that the bodies most people who`ve died on the mountain are still there. And so, are thousands of pounds of garbage.

According to the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, climbers are supposed to bring any trash they produced back down the mountain, but many of them don`t. And everything from oxygen bottles to drink bottles and food cans to climbing equipment is left behind.

So, a new effort has begun to clean up the mountain. The goal: to airlift more than 200,000 pounds of trash off the world`s highest peak. Sherpas, the local guides to Everest, are the people doing the heavy lifting. They`re highly experience in the harsh and dangerous environment of Everest. But though many of them live in Nepal and make most of their money as mountain guides, they face the same dangers in climbing and cleaning up Mount Everest, as anyone else.

On the court, on the field, on the track, or anywhere there`s sports, there are athletes whose stories we are looking to tell. The HLN network has a new series called "Positive Athlete". These are young people who are making impressions and differences on and off the field.

You don`t need to be a champion to be considered. You only need a positive or mission. And if you know someone you think is a good fit, please nominate him or her at CNN.com/positiveathlete.

Today`s feature is a double amputee named Landon Benton who wants others to join him in wheelchair basketball.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LANDON BENTON, POSITIVE ATHLETE: I first started on wheelchair basketball whenever I was in second grade. The workout got involved and it was a lot of activity, and it helped me around more people like me.

ROCHELLE BENTON, LANDON`S MOM: We both have tibial dysplasia. We were missing our tibia bones in both of our legs, and so they amputate it about 15 months for Landon. When he first heard of wheelchair basketball, he was like, mom, I don`t use the wheelchair daily, but after trying Boy Scouts and they weren`t active as he wanted to be, he knew he wanted to be in something a little more competitive like basketball.

L. BENTON: My basketball team is basically we`re all family. We all know each other. We call each other by name. We all had nicknames for each other.

MIKE GODSEY, LANDON`S COACH: It`s actually a great spectator sport. There`s contact, crashes, people flipping out of chairs. There`s winners and losers, it`s sports, and we love it.

L. BENTON: And it`s actually really fun (INAUDIBLE). It`s scary at first, but then whenever you get back, that was a roller coaster.

R. BENTON: The ability is unlimited. We go around and we spread awareness for disability awareness.

L. BENTON: I get to meet people who don`t have the same exact disabilities to me, but I can relate to.

GODSEY: In Landon, he`s an all time. I mean, represents our program, he does it really well and we appreciate that. And I tell the kids it`s an obligation. You know, somebody shared the sport with you, it`s your job to share it with others.

L. BENTON: I`ll tell them about the teams in their area, and then I would say, or you could come to our practice and see if you like it. And if you don`t like it, you can go find another sport. And if you like it, you could come join our team or you could find a team close to your house.

R. BENTON: It`s very important because out in the real world, you don`t see people with disabilities that much, and then you come out here and you`re getting a chair and you`re all equal. We just want people to understand we`re just like y`all and we want to compete just as bad as y`all do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: For "10 Out of 10" today, we`d like you to meet our new friend Steve. Steve is an aurora, and a good looking one, too. It was discovered by amateur astronomers in Canada, and unlike most of the other northern lights, Steve`s distinct purple band and green highlight can be observed by folks in lower latitudes than the aurora borealis.

Scientists say auroras occur when energized particles from the sun are seen interacting with earth`s magnetic field. For this one, they decided to stick with the name Steve, making it an acronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. And while that might not exactly roll off the tongue, at least it`s colorful to the eye.

And now that it`s free from the prism of anonymities, Steve is here to northern light up your life. Now, you may think the aurora borealis and that`s special, especially if you have a bad latitude about it. But others would be illuminated by sightings, a brilliant display of current stevens.

I`m Carl Azuz for Steven 10.

END