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  • A U.S. Navy destroyer sails near a reef in the South China Sea and China scrambles fighter

  • jets and warships in response.

  • I'm Carl Azuz and that's where we're starting today.

  • China has been building islands hundreds of miles from its mainland coast. One of them

  • is called Fiery Cross Reef. It's part of the Spratly Islands.

  • In January, China said it had just finished building a runway there.

  • Yesterday, an American ship called the USS William P. Lawrence sailed within 12 miles

  • of Fiery Cross Reef.

  • Here's why that's significant. According to the United Nations law of the sea, a country

  • controls the waters within 12 nautical miles of its coast.

  • China says the U.S. threatened its sovereignty and security by sailing too closely to Fiery

  • Cross Reef.

  • But the U.S. does not recognize China's claims to control the territory around these manmade

  • islands. It says China doesn't have law of the sea rights here and sailing nearby was

  • an American way to challenge China's claims. This is just part of a series of international

  • disagreements over this region.

  • This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy. Please go away quickly.

  • It's a standoff in the skies between China and the U.S.

  • You go!

  • As Beijing makes a massive and unprecedented land grab 600 miles from its coast.

  • So when's the last time you went up?

  • CNN got exclusive access to classified U.S. surveillance flights over the islands. The

  • first time journalists have been allowed on an operational mission by the state-of-the-art

  • P-8A Poseidon.

  • We just arrived on station now above the three islands that are the targets of today's mission.

  • It's these three islands that have been the focus of China's building in the South China

  • Sea over recent years.

  • In just two years, China has expanded these islands by 2,000 acres, the equivalent of

  • 1,500 football fields and counting.

  • For China, this new territory is nonnegotiable. China's foreign minister calls his country's

  • commitment "unshakable". And China defends the new islands closely, patrolling with coast

  • guard and navy warships and ordering the P-8 out of the airspace eight times on this one

  • mission alone.

  • The standoff is military to military, but civilian aircraft can be caught in the middle.

  • You heard over the intercom, Chinese navy, this is the Chinese navy. And what was interesting

  • is that there were also civilian aircraft. There was a Delta flight on that same frequency

  • that when it heard that challenge, it piped into the frequency to say, what's going on?

  • The Chinese navy then reassuring them.

  • But as the flight crew tells me, that can be a very nerve-racking experience for civilian

  • aircraft in the area.

  • Five Southeast Asian nations claim parts of this area as their own. China says this territory

  • is part of their history, claiming ownership back 2,000 years.

  • But many see economic and military motives as well. The islands are rich in oil and gas

  • deposits, and they extend China's naval and air presence, challenging the U.S. naval supremacy

  • in the region.

  • Jim Sciutto, CNN, above the South China Sea.

  • U.S. President Barack Obama will be traveling to Japan later this month to meet with the

  • leaders of six other industrialized nations.

  • They'll be discussing economic cooperation, energy and international security.

  • While he's there, President Obama is scheduled to visit the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That's

  • where the U.S. dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan, killing hundreds of thousands

  • of people and bringing World War II to an end.

  • Obama's trip to Hiroshima would be the first time that a sitting American president visited

  • the city. And the White House says the U.S. leader will discuss his goal for the world

  • to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

  • Critics say the visit would be inappropriate, partly because it will be seen as a U.S. apology

  • for the bombings, and veterans groups say Japan should apologize for its conduct in

  • the war and treatment of American prisoners.

  • CNN's Will Ripley has made 10 trips to report inside North Korea. He says the communist

  • government which controls its media also restricts international journalists. North Korean officials

  • direct when a camera can be used, where it can be pointed, and Ripley says they've strongly

  • reprimanded him for his reporting which can include facts that are critical of the nation

  • or its leader.

  • More than 100 international reporters have had a number of challenges in covering a major

  • political event called the Workers Party Congress. But one thing that Ripley found is that the secretive

  • North Korean government seems very secure.

  • Few places put on these supersized displays of public adulation better than North Korea.

  • It looks like the entire city of Pyongyang has turned out here. But the government officials

  • here with us say only about half of Pyongyang is here, which would still be more than 1 million

  • people.

  • You might ask, when do they have time to practice for these things? Well, we come here, we see

  • people practicing in the evenings after work. It's workplace groups, it's core groups, it's

  • neighborhood centers.

  • Everybody coming together, spending hours and hours to prepare for these displays that

  • North Korea has really become famous for. This time, it's to mark the end of the seventh

  • party congress and the election of the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, to a brand new, even

  • bigger title, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea.

  • He also was up on stage waving at the crowd and standing beside his new party leadership.

  • And what this means, the unanimous promoting him and the fact that you see all the population

  • out here celebrating the work of the congress, the leader moves forward his plan, his plan

  • to aggressively develop North Korea's nuclear weapons, also trying to grow the economy.

  • Even though the vast majority of these people didn't participate directly in the political

  • process, only the ruling elite who were standing underneath the supreme leader who were actually

  • at the congress had a vote, a unanimous vote not surprisingly.

  • Still, these people, they were told by their government what happened and now, they are

  • out here celebrating, not asking questions. This is what it means to be a citizen in the

  • North Korean capital.

  • Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.

  • Today's "Roll Call" starts in a place described as the edge of the Amazon rainforest.

  • We're talking about the community of Shell, Ecuador. And the students and teachers of

  • Nate Saint Memorial School.

  • Form there, we're visiting Fayetteville, North Carolina. It's the home of the Panthers of

  • Cape Fear High School.

  • And out West in Idaho, more Panthers are stalking CNN STUDENT NEWS. These are from Syringa Middle

  • School in Caldwell.

  • The regional fire chief in Fort McMurray and the Canadian province of Alberta says he doesn't

  • remember what some of the town structures used to be. The wildfire that forced the evacuation

  • of 90,000 people burned an estimated 2,400 structures to the ground.

  • I'm in the heart of Fort McMurray and in a neighborhood called Beacon Hill. This is a

  • highly residential area and when you look around, you're just absolutely amazed because

  • pretty much everything is gone.

  • Inside fire-ravaged Fort McMurray.

  • You have dozens if not hundreds of homes destroyed in this one neighborhood. You can see how

  • it just burned to their foundation. You actually see some water leaking over here.

  • We're now at another neighborhood called Abasand and this is pretty typical of what you see

  • in wildfires. Pretty much everything is wiped out. But on the other side, you could actually

  • see homes that did not burn.

  • You can see a children's playground back here, but by and large, it's pretty difficult to

  • make out the things you see. Over here is a grill.

  • Look at this bicycle over here. There's just nothing left.

  • But amazingly, 90 percent of the town survived the fire. All of the schools were safe. Firefighters

  • and volunteers say they'll be there to help those who lost everything rebuild.

  • Next today, an event that happens only about 13 times every 100 years. The planet Mercury

  • was visible from Earth. On your screen is that tiny dot moving from left to right across

  • the middle. How was this visible?

  • One Monday, mercury was lined up between the earth and the sun, in such a way that it appeared

  • to be moving across the face of the star as this black dot. Not a good idea to try to

  • see this with unshaded eyes or binoculars. The best and safest views were through telescopes

  • with solar filters.

  • So, why does Mercury look so small? Well, it is. It's the smallest planet in the solar

  • system and the sun is by far the largest object. The celestial sight was visible to much of

  • the world for about seven and a half hours. The next time this is expected to happen is

  • in 2019.

  • At a school in Milton, Massachusetts, ducks on parade. This has become a tradition at

  • Glover Elementary. The principal says a mother duckling has been making her nest inside the

  • school's courtyard for at least 10 years. So, after her babies hatched, she knows a

  • way through the school to a nearby pond, and she leaves her little town through a crowd

  • of more than 500 students who look forward to this every spring.

  • You can say she's earned the rights for the right rightly righting their course through

  • school. Not too slowly, not too quackly, like a mom thoughtfully pondering to hatch a good

  • plan for her children's education. Who knows wattle they'll do with their lives?

  • I'm Carl Azuz. Hope to see you tomorrow.

A U.S. Navy destroyer sails near a reef in the South China Sea and China scrambles fighter

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