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Government Shutdown Averted; Supreme Court Goes Into Session

Aired September 28, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: CNN Student News is getting started right now. And teachers, we want to remind you, it`s always a good idea for you to preview our show. One report in today`s program discusses teen suicide and sexuality. That story is coming up in a few minutes. I`m Carl Azuz. Let`s get started.

We start with a trio of stories out of Washington, D.C. First up, a possible compromise in Congress. It looks like we might not be headed for a government shutdown. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow on a proposal that would keep the government funded through early October.

Then next Tuesday, the House could vote on another proposal that would keep the funds running through mid-November.


AZUZ (voice-over): Both of those bills were passed by the Senate on Monday night. And remember that a bill has to pass through the House and the Senate before President Obama can sign it. Now these bills include more than $2 billion for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That group`s funding was nearly used up by its response to natural disasters in the U.S. There was a chance for a partial government shutdown if Congress hadn`t reached this compromise by the end of this week.

Moving to the judicial branch of government, the U.S. Supreme Court starts its new session next week. The justices have to decide which cases they`re going to review. One of the big ones that could end up in front of the high court is about whether or not parts of President Obama`s health care law are constitutional.


AZUZ: Other high profile cases that could get reviewed involve church and state. CNN`s Jeffrey Toobin is here to talk about how the justices decide which cases to hear.

Jeffrey, how many cases actually go to the Supreme Court?


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They get about 8,000 cases a year, and they only take about 80 cases a year.

Basically, the first thing they look at is, have the lower courts split? Have there been inconsistent rulings in the lower courts on the same issue that, you know, we have a Supreme Court to resolve those sorts of disputes? That`s one category of cases.

The other category is a little more nebulous. That`s cases where the Supreme Court simply says we have to resolve this issue, it`s sufficiently important that we have to resolve it.


AZUZ: Our third Washington headline has to do with the Washington Monument. Back in August, an earthquake that shook most of the U.S. East Coast caused some cracks in the Washington Monument. Officials are trying to figure out if there`s any damage that might have been caused that they might have missed.


AZUZ (voice-over): This surveillance camera footage was taken during the quake. It shows a park ranger who realized what was happening, and calmly helped get a group of tourists down the stairs and out of danger. She later went back up the stairs to help lead more people out. The Washington Monument is just over 555 feet tall.

And look closely at the top there. That guy is setting up gear that will help let him rappel down. He`s part of a team of engineers that will look for any additional cracks that need to be fixed or that could cause problems down the road.

October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. This is a big issue, one we`re going to be talking about on our show. But we want you to be part of the conversation as well. Teachers, we invite you to go to our home page,, send us an iReport about what your school is doing to address bullying.

Students, if you`re 13 or older, you can send us iReports on this, too.


AZUZ: Rutgers University in New Jersey will be teaming up with CNN to host a town hall meeting about bullying next month. A year ago, a homosexual student at Rutgers committed suicide after he was the target of bullying.

A similar story has brought new attention to this issue recently. It involves a teenager who wanted to give other gay teens encouragement to overcome being bullied. Don Lemon has the details.


JAMEY RODEMEYER, YOUTUBE ACTIVIST: Hi. This is Jamie from Buffalo, New York. And I`m just here to tell you that it does get better.

DON LEMON, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): In May, Jamey Rodemeyer uploads this video to YouTube as part of the "It Gets Better" project, a worldwide movement to support teen gays and lesbians.

Rodemeyer speaks candidly of being taunted for his sexuality, in school and online.

JAMEY RODEMEYER: And I felt like I could never escape it. And people would just constantly send me hate, telling me that gay people go to tell.

LEMON (voice-over): Drawing support from his friends, and inspiration from pop star Lady Gaga, things did eventually get better for the Buffalo teen.

But recently his parents and friends say the torment hit him harder. Last Sunday, he was found dead after an apparent suicide. He left no note, but that same day, he wrote on his blog that he wanted to see two people who had recently died, his great-grandma and his friend, Alex (ph).

Jamey`s father, Tim Rodemeyer, says his son hid his emotions.

TIM RODEMEYER, JAMEY`S FATHER: He fooled everybody. He put on a brave face. But I wish he wouldn`t have.

LEMON (voice-over): Rodemeyer`s death is not the first time a gay teen has killed himself after being bullied. In 2008, the Suicide Prevention Center reported that research shows lesbian, gay and bisexual youths could be as much as seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

Rodemeyer`s parents say the school told them they were able to stop at times incidents of bullying against their son, but one educator said it`s not easy.

SCOTT MARTZLOFF, SUPERINTENDENT, WILLIAMSBURG SCHOOL: It`s incredibly difficult, and I think if there was an easy solution, a school district or a school community would have found it by now.

LEMON (voice-over): Rodemeyer`s family and neighbors say they will continue to speak out so the world can learn from his death.

JAMEY RODEMEYER: All you have to do is hold your head up -- hold your head up, and you`ll go far, because that`s all you have to do. Just love yourself and you`re set.

LEMON (voice-over): Don Lemon, CNN, New York.

AZUZ: (voice-over): We know this can be a difficult story to talk about in the classroom. Our daily discussion questions might be able to help. Teachers, you can find those on our home page,

And students, you can take a stand against bullying. If you`re already on Facebook, go our Facebook page and take the "Stop Bullying" pledge.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m a famous highway system. My first sections were built in the 1920s. Today, my entire network is more than 7,000 miles long. My name is German for "automobile road."

I`m the Autobahn, a high-speed highway in Germany.


AZUZ: Before German teens can find out just how high-speed the Autobahn is, and parts of it have no speed limit, German teens have to get a license just like we do in the United States. And in Germany, they take driver`s ed very seriously. Rick Noack steers us through the rigorous training that hopeful German drivers have to pass.


RICK NOACK, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The legendary German Autobahn, with no general speed limit, many see it as the ultimate driving experience. But what most don`t know: getting a license to drive German highways is quite difficult.

NOACK: Most young Germans can`t wait to take on the challenge of the Autobahn, but Germany is a country that takes its driving very seriously. Getting a driver`s license is difficult, and usually costs 2,000 U.S. dollars.

NOACK (voice-over): You need 21 hours of theory to learn the meaning of road signs, traffic rules and the basic physics of driving; after that, up to 43 hours of practical training on the road. Only then have young drivers truly earned the right to steer a vehicle.

Instructor Detlef Hoffleit is convinced the government-mandated education makes for better drivers.

DETLEF HOFFLEIT, DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: It`s not because I make my money with that. It is because I`m grown out (ph) in the system, and I have two children. And if I am think (sic) they had crossed the road and I live here and it`s standard system, I feel more safe that they are not killed in the traffic.

NOACK (voice-over): But not everyone likes the system. Nineteen- year-old Laurie Andraschko has been practicing for 12 months now. She has failed her driving test twice.

LAURIE ANDRASCHKO, FAILED DRIVING TEST: I think it`s not fair, but I`m happy that I did (ph) my driver`s license in Germany, because then I`m more prepared for the traffic.

NOACK (voice-over): Almost a quarter of driving students fail the driving exam, according to a recent study. So like many others in this country, Laurie will have to pull herself together and try again -- Rick Noack, CNN, Berlin.


AZUZ: Before we go today, we have something for you you don`t see every day. A story about one bear? You might it mildly interesting. A story about two bears? Kind of cool.


AZUZ (voice-over): A story about two bears wrestling? Awesome! And the only thing that makes it cooler -- and some would say cuter -- is the fact that these are baby bears. Aw, it`s their first mauling.

A group of hikers stumbled across this friendly match in Yosemite National Park and posted the video on YouTube. We`re not sure what set off this road rage wrestling match.


AZUZ: But it definitely turned into a "free-fur-all," luckily. It just looked like they were playing, otherwise it could have been a pretty "grizzly" video. We know you can "bearly" stand these puns. There will probably be more tomorrow, though, so you know what you`re just going to have to do: grin and "bear" it. That`s what I do. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.