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CNN10 2019-11-19

CNN 10

Nationwide Protests Take Place in Iran; Biologist Explains How People Can Help Reverse a Decline in Insects; Robots Assist in Disaster Reponse

Aired November 19, 2019 - 04:00 聽 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Social and political issues in Iran are the focus of our first report today on CNN 10, wherever and however you're watching, thank you for doing it. I'm Carl Azuz at the CNN Center. When we produced this show the internet had been shut down in Iran. The government of the theocratic republic is trying to put out the fire of nationwide protests that flared up last Friday and taking the country offline could make it harder for protestors to organize their demonstrations. The Oracle Computer Software Company says the blackout is the largest internet shutdown ever observed in the Middle Eastern country.

For several years now, Iran's economy has been getting worse. Its currency, the rial, doesn't buy as much as it used to. Prices are going up. Certain kinds of food and medical equipment are in short supply and it's getting harder for many Iranians to find a job. For these reasons, protests across Iran broke out two years ago and they welled up again over the weekend after the government announced it would increase gas prices by 50 to 300 percent, meaning they could triple.

Gas is relatively cheap in Iran but with lower incomes and economic problems, the higher prices make it less affordable. Iran's government says several protesters have been killed in the demonstrations and it blames them on other countries. Iran's government says its enemies support actions like sabotage and breaking the law. But many protesters blame Iran's leaders whom they criticize for being corrupt.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Violent protests in many parts of Iran. About a five hour drive south of Tehran in Isfahan, flames rage at a branch of the Soteroff (ph) Bank. A similar picture in Khorramabad near the border with Iraq as Iranians faced with high unemployment and a crumbling economy take to the streets. In the capital Tehran this social media video purports to show protesters screaming "Death to the Dictator", "Death to Rouhani", Iran's president. The government claims it wants to combat fuel smuggling and the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has backed the gas price hike while criticizing protesters.

ALI KHAMENEI THROUGH PLEITGEN: Some people would definitely get upset over this decision.

PLEITGEN: He said.

KHAMENEI THROUGH PLEITGEN: But damaging and setting fire to property is not something normal people would do. It's hooligans.

PLEITGEN: On Sunday morning workers at the main bazaar in Tehran went on strike effectively shutting business down there. But the merchants have been suffering for months since the Trump Administration has pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement and hit Iran with wave after wave of crippling sanctions. Iran's government says it will remain steadfast and initiated what it calls a resistance economy, an effort to become more self sustained. But while Iran's government says outside forces are fanning these new protests, many Iranians suffering under high unemployment have very little hopes that things could improve anytime soon. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


AZUZ: In that report Fred Pleitgen mentioned a nuclear agreement, that was made in 2015 between Iran and six other countries led by the U.S. under the Obama Administration. In the deal, Iran said it would limit its nuclear program for 15 years and the other nations said they'd lift their sanctions, their penalties on Iran's economy, which would allow billions of dollars to flow back into Iran. Supporters said this was the best way to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon at least temporarily. Critics said Iran got too much out of the deal and that it eventually build nukes anyway.

As a U.S. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump called the agreement a bad deal and in 2017 as president he pulled the U.S. out of the agreement putting American sanctions back on Iran's economy and increasing pressure on Iran to make changes. In the years since, Iran has also moved away from the nuclear agreement and the United Nations says Iran has resumed enriching uranium.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To unleash this, you start with this, raw uranium. Fresh out the ground it's not useful for much. It needs enriching, to do that you need these centrifuges, thousands of them. They spin uranium around at super fast speeds, about 1,000 times a second shaking out the stuff you don't want and leaving the powerful stuff you do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE : For the next 15 years, no uranium will be enriched beyond 3.67 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iran though has gone beyond that reaching levels as high as 20 percent in the past and that's important. Because while there are still technical challenges to going even higher, once you hit 20 you're well on the way to weapons grade enrichment. That's 90 percent and that is what that little phrase, uranium enrichment really means.


AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. What distinction is held by fairy flies? Are they indigenous to Antarctica, the smallest insects, a type of butterfly or extinct? Fairy flies are a type of wasp and they're the smallest insects on Earth.

Even if you don't want to eat insects like we discussed last Friday, scientists say three-quarters of our crops depend on insect pollination and a new report from the United Kingdom Wildlife Trust says there have been massive decreases of certain insect populations in the U.K. Between 1968 and 2007 the report says the number of large moths in Britain fell by 28 percent and that many butterflies also disappeared. It suggests that declines like these are happening with different insects around the world though there's so much that's unknown about certain regions that it's hard for researchers to say for sure.

Still, the report says the main reason for insect decline is habitat loss and it suggests that we can all help solve that by planting flowering trees around our communities. Growing plants like lavender which attract bees, avoiding pesticides though that could lead to the loss of some crops and mowing your lawn less often could attract more insects to it though that could bug your neighbors if it gets out of hand.

Up next, machines with microphones, remote searchers with sensors, computerized carriers with cameras, put them all together and you have robots to the rescue. New technology is finding a new role in helping first responders save lives in the wake of disasters. Robots can speed up everything from rescue to recovery and this is how one woman makes a living.


ROBIN MURPHY: The most important thing to know, if you know one thing is that disaster robots make a disaster go away faster. Robots can go into these places to get to where there might have been survivors. If I can see what I need to see I can make good decisions to keep the responders safe.

My name is Robin Murphy. I'm a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A & M and I work with disaster robots.

Disaster city is one of the emergency management complexes that Texas A & M has. It's designed to test and to train search and rescue teams on how to conduct search and rescue missions. We've supplied robots for 28 disasters. Earthquakes, Hurricane Harvey, we assisted with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. When we go we bring robots and people that we've tested and practiced with in our training exercises.

One of the biggest challenges to doing work in rescue robotics is not the robotics, it's the everything else. You're going to a different world.

It's really challenging to be at a disaster. There's a physiological, a psychological impact of that. It really takes quite a toll so you have to be really good at what you're doing. My jobs is so incredibly fulfilling. It's about the science and the technology and the way it could be used for societal good. That's a big deal to me.


AZUZ: For 10 out of 10, 12 days, 14 hours and 59 minutes. That's how long it takes to fly a helicopter to all 48 contiguous U.S. states assuming your flying solo and setting the new Guinness World Record. Yosuki Chamareli (ph) said he had two goals here besides the record, inspire more people to learn to fly helicopters. He says more pilots are needed and to show America's beauty from the air.

He encourages everyone to dream big and keep pushing. Because even if you've hit the "skids", that's not a bad thing in a helicopter. You just find your place in the "rotation", stabilize your sights, ignore any "rotor" distractions. In no time you'll be ready to "lift off" like a "blade runner" on an "elevating transmission" that defies gravity. For CNN 10, I'm Carl Azuz.