CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: The start of a new month, the start of a new day of CNN Student News! Hi, I'm Carl Azuz, and I'm delivering your 10 minutes of commercial-free headlines.
First Up: Home Prices Drop
AZUZ: First up, we're talking about a new low for the price of homes in the United States. During the first quarter -- the first three months -- of 2011, home prices dropped more than 5 percent from where they were last year. Now, that's according to a new report that came out yesterday. And the comparison gets even worse when you go back a little farther. The housing market hit its highest point five years ago in 2006. Compared to that -- that highest point -- prices of homes have dropped almost 33 percent.
Home prices are down; so what? It might not be something that you think about every day, but some of your parents are paying close attention. Home prices affect a lot of other industries -- like banks, like construction -- so that's one of the big indicators that experts use to figure out how the U.S. economy is doing. And prices have gone through kind of a double-dip. They went down after that peak in 2006. Then they went back up a little bit around 2009. Some government programs designed to encourage people to buy houses helped with that increase. But now, they're dropping again. And one expert says it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon.
E. coli Outbreak
AZUZ: Officials in Germany are warning people there not to eat raw cucumbers, leaf lettuce, or tomatoes. The reason: an outbreak of E. coli. That's a bacteria that can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, especially raw vegetables. Reports have connected at least 16 deaths to the outbreak. Hundreds of other people have gotten sick. German authorities are trying to contain the outbreak. In the meantime, scientists are trying to figure out where it started. They don't have that answer yet. They think it could be traced back to produce from Spain. Germany buys more Spanish fruits and vegetables than any other country. And the concerns about those foods could cost Spain's food industry millions of dollars.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What's the term for when energy travels in particles or waves? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Diffusion, B) Sublimation, C) Radiation or D) Circumnavigation? You've got three seconds -- GO! When energy is transmitted in particles or waves, it's called radiation. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
Cell Phones & Cancer
AZUZ: The World Health Organization says that radiation from cell phones could possibly cause cancer. That announcement came after a group of scientists analyzed studies that have been done on cell phone safety. What this means is that the scientists found some evidence of an increase in certain types of cancer for cell phone users. They weren't able to make any conclusions about other types of cancers. One expert says it's hard because it can take several decades of exposure to see if there are any consequences. The wireless industry said the announcement does not mean cell phones cause cancer. It pointed out that the scientists didn't do new research, but just reviewed studies that already existed. This announcement probably will lead to more research on the issue.
AZUZ: Recovery efforts are getting started in Joplin, Missouri, and help is coming from some unexpected places. For example, a group of homeless volunteers from Kentucky. They collected donations for the tornado victims and then drove to Joplin to distribute them. Another unique source of help: an elephant from a circus that was supposed to perform in the area. The show, of course, couldn't happen. But the animal was able to use its strength to help workers clear heavy debris from some areas. Many residents of Joplin are still coming to grips with the devastation that hit their hometown. Morgan Schutters of affiliate KODE reports on the tornado's impact on the Joplin High School community.
MORGAN SCHUTTERS, KODE REPORTER: Katie Wood graduated from Joplin High School just an hour before the tornado hit.
KATIE WOOD, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI: Even looking at it, it's still really hard to believe it.
SCHUTTERS: Now, she's singing the national anthem at a memorial service for her classmates and the community.
WOOD: It's so hard singing it right in front of my school that just blew away.
SCHUTTERS: But Joplin High School sophomore Chanci McGowen still has the rest of her high school career ahead of her, as she looks at what is left in shambles.
CHANCI MCGOWEN, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It's indescribable. It's horrible, just devastating to see all the destruction of my school, my home.
SCHUTTERS: McGowen is one of many students who lost both.
MCGOWEN: It was heartbreaking. My whole neighborhood is gone, but everyone's OK.
SCHUTTERS: It was a somber afternoon as they gathered outside the school. A moment of silence honoring military and tornado victims. Eight people in the Joplin R-8 School District are confirmed dead: seven students and one staff member.
WOOD: Wondering who is still alive and who's not.
SCHUTTERS: Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff said last Friday, when he got word, his world stopped. Sorrow for the lost and relief for the living.
CJ HUFF, SUPERINTENDENT, JOPLIN R-8 SCHOOL DISTRICT: As a result of your diligence and unwavering fortitude in the face of insurmountable challenges, 100 percent of our family are accounted for.
SCHUTTERS: Summer classes will begin as scheduled in less than three weeks, on June 13th.
MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a famous landmark visited by millions every year. I'm located in Arizona. I was formed by the Colorado River. I'm the Grand Canyon, a huge rock formation that's a mile deep.
All Work, No Play
AZUZ: The Grand Canyon's a major vacation destination. The nearly 5 million people who go there every year prove that. But would the Canyon get even more visitors if American workers took as much vacation as employees in other countries? That's what we're talking about. When it comes to time off, the U.S. is not number one. Karin Caifa looks at some of the reasons why.
KARIN CAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Days at the beach, trips you'll remember for a lifetime. That's what summer is all about, right? Not for most American workers, who lag behind international counterparts in the vacation time given and the time taken. According to a survey by Expedia, workers in Great Britain got an average of 28 days' vacation last year. In France: 37. Here in the U.S.: 18. And they only used 14.
So, what's holding Americans back? With the economy still recovering, some workers are just happy to have a job to go to every day. And with staffing pared to bare bones during the recession, they'd rather be at their desks than on a guilt trip.
JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: We feel that we're letting our colleagues down. We're afraid of the work that's waiting for us when we get back from vacation. And that guilt will make us not take the days off that we really need.
CAIFA: There are also the lingering financial concerns. A recent survey from CareerBuilder found one in four workers simply can't afford a getaway this year. Twelve percent say they can afford it but won't go. And only one in three said they felt more comfortable taking a vacation this summer than they did last year.
AZUZ: Sticking with the idea of hitting the road, it turns out about 37 million American drivers shouldn't! According to a new survey, one out of every five people in the United States would fail a driving test if they had to take one today. And what's even more strange: that's an improvement! Last year, 38 million people -- one million more -- would have failed. This survey asked drivers from all 50 states 20 questions about basic driving knowledge. What do you do when you're approaching a yellow light? What's a safe following distance? Things like that. The concern is that not knowing the rules leads to dangerous driving habits.
AZUZ: Teachers, we know a lot of you get our daily e-mail. As you get ready to head off for the summer, you don't need to unsubscribe. The email is not gonna come out every day. We'll only send you something when we have something to say, like when one of our special summer shows goes up at CNNStudentNews.com. So stay subscribed; we will not spam you, we promise!
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, we're checking out a barnyard brawl. Boom! Only problem is, this isn't the barnyard. It's somebody's back yard! A flock of sheep showed up in a California neighborhood, and they didn't want to go anywhere. Police surrounded the feisty flock and eventually had to call in animal control. It's not like you could ask the sheep to leave nicely. I mean, you might try, but you know they wouldn't go for it.
AZUZ: Those guys just look like they have baaaaad attitudes. Or maybe they were hoping not to get noticed so they could pull the wool over everyone's eyes. That would have been shear genius. It's always fun to see sheep on the lamb. But now that the whole thing's over, I bet they felt sheepish about causing such a problem. They are known to have bleat-ing hearts. You can tell the year's winding up, because we're getting awfully punchy. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.