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Controversy Involving Mississippi Pardons; Haiti Earthquake: Two Years Later

Aired January 13, 2012 - 00:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: So what if it is Friday the 13th? It`s still awesome. Want to wish congratulations to the students at Cambridge Middle School in Cambridge, Minnesota. One of them got our social media question of the week. I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News.

First up today, a controversy involving pardons issued by the governor of Mississippi. A pardon released criminals from guilt. The president can grant pardons to federal criminals, and in many states, governors have that pardon power as well.


AZUZ (voice-over): Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour handed out nearly 200 pardons this week. Most of those people were already out of jail. Governor Barbour said the pardons were intended to help those people find jobs or to register to vote.

But some of the pardons went to convicted murderers. They`re supposed to contact prison officials every day, but four of them took off.


AZUZ: A state official said they may start a manhunt to track them down. The judge has issued a ruling, stopping the release of any other prisoners. He said some of the pardons, including the ones for the four murderers, didn`t meet certain requirements.


AZUZ (voice-over): There`s been a lot of debate around this story. What we`re asking on our blog is this: what factors should a president or governor take into account when considering giving someone a pardon? We`re interested in hearing your thoughts at



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this legit? The Caribbean nation highlighted on this map is Jamaica.

Not true. This is Haiti, which takes up about one-third of the island of Hispaniola.


AZUZ: Well, yesterday, we talked about the devastation that Haiti suffered when a powerful earthquake hit the country in 2010. Two years later, things are getting better, but you`re going to see in this next report from Jonathan Mann that the recovery process is slow.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Haiti has been so poor for so long, it was hard to imagine things could get much worse. Then two years ago, the hard-to-imagine happened, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 220,000 people, made 1.5 million more people homeless, and turned Port-au-Prince, the capital, into a sea of displaced families and crumbled cement.

Isolated cases of cholera turned into a national epidemic. Things were bad before. Suddenly, they were utterly broken. The best hope then was, in a phrase, that Haiti would build back better. Some things are better.

The international community has spent more than $2 billion, though it promised twice as much. It has helped move more than a million Haitians out of crowded, unsanitary camps. It`s built hundreds of kilometers of paved roads. Have a look at this stretch of street. On the left, the aftermath of the quake; on the right, a look three month ago.

THOMAS NYBO, PHOTOGRAPHER/FILMOGRAPHER: I`ve watched UNICEF build 193 new earthquake-resistant schools. They`ve helped 750,000 kids back to school. Now that doesn`t mean that there aren`t challenged that were made. They`re huge. But there is reason for optimism.

MANN (voice-over): But half a million people are still living under tents and tarpaulins, and Haiti is still a nation where most people don`t have running water, toilets, medical care or jobs. About three-quarters of the country`s workers are unemployed or underemployed. It is still Haiti. There has been no happy ending -- Jonathan Mann reporting.


AZUZ: Following up on a story we first reported on Monday, a cargo ship that ran aground near New Zealand had split in two. Officials were concerned that the thing could lead to a new oil spill.


AZUZ (voice-over): And that`s exactly what happened. The ship leaked around 300 tons of oil when it first crashed last October. Now it`s dumped nearly 10 more tons of oil into the water. Hundreds of containers have gone overboard; some debris from the ship washed up on a local beach earlier this week. And officials described the wreck as highly unstable.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Mr. DiPietro`s social studies classes at Eisenhower Middle School in Succasunna, New Jersey. Which of these animals is a vertebrate? You know what to do. Is it a lobster, spider, frog or squid? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Vertebrates have a backbone, and the only one here is a frog. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.



AZUZ (voice-over): Researchers say this new frog species is the world`s smallest vertebrate. You can see just how small. It doesn`t even take up half of that dime. Scientists discovered the frog in the island nation of Papua, New Guinea, where it lives in tropical forests.

What`s fascinating is that the researchers think these animals are born directly as frogs. They don`t go through the tadpole stage. Scientists think the frogs will be helpful in studying extreme body size.


AZUZ: More than 13 million Americans are out of work. The big question that you hear from a lot of young people is if they will be able to find a job when they graduate from college. Poppy Harlow has a report on one major where students are getting job offers before they even get a diploma.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out of college, but back on campus, computer science is hot, and students with coding skills are burning up the job market.

HARLOW: By graduation, how many companies reached out to you about working for them?

TAL SAFRON, NYU COMPUTER SCIENCE GRADUATE: I`d say between 10 and 20 have reached out to me, just before graduating.

HARLOW: How many job offers did you get?

SAFRON: Around four or five.

HARLOW: You haven`t even graduated yet. How many companies have reached out to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 10 and 20.

HARLOW (voice-over): It`s a common story for computer science majors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of my friends who are also CS students do have the same similar feeling. They`re not -- they`re not really worried about jobs.

HARLOW (voice-over): Just look at tech job postings to see the demand. At NYU, that translated into a 94 percent placement rate for computer science grads last spring. For the class of 2011, computer science majors did the best on the job hunt.

HARLOW: Fifty-six percent had a job offer before graduation compared with 41 percent overall.

What do your friends tell you who aren`t computer science majors about getting a job?

SAFRON: They think I don`t live in reality.

HARLOW (voice-over): An average starting salary of 66,000 bucks and job security may be why the major is taking off, with enrollment at NYU up 50 percent since 2007.

EVAN KORTH, ASSOC. PROF., NYU, COMPUTER SCIENCE: Many students, whether they`re computer science majors or not, are starting to understand that coding is literacy of the future, and they`re -- they want to get in on that.

HARLOW (voice-over): Tal and Naditja (ph) both participated in a summer program offered by Hack NY, founded by Evan and Columbia Professor Chris Wiggins to cultivate the talents of budding tech stars and show them their career choices are broader than just Google and Goldman Sachs.


HARLOW (voice-over): The hacking community may speak a slightly different language.

WIGGINS: I mean, you can present PageRank, Google`s fundamental algorithm, as an important eigenvector problem and then they sort of --

HARLOW: Eigen what?

WIGGINS: An eigenvector.

HARLOW (voice-over): But one thing is crystal clear: this is where the jobs area.

KORTH: I get email every day, asking me if I have a student that could build X or build Y.

HARLOW: But is this just a fad? I mean, are the jobs here today, gone tomorrow?

KORTH: Is the Internet going to be gone tomorrow?


KORTH: I don`t think the jobs will be gone tomorrow, either.

HARLOW (voice-over): In New York, Poppy Harlow, cnnmoney.


AZUZ: A lot of important events are coming up on Monday, all inspired by the same man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and `60s.


AZUZ (voice-over): His memorial on the National Mall in Washington was unveiled last year, but the federal holiday honoring Dr. King dates back 26 years. It`s held on the third Monday in January because that`s around the time of his birthday, January 15th.

Even though we`re off the air on Monday, and many businesses and schools will be closed, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is described as a day on, not a day off. What this means is Americans are encouraged to get out and volunteer.

It could be helping at a nature conservancy or cleaning up a local park. And it`s in the spirit of Dr. King`s work to make the country a better place to live.

Using art to honor MLK, the lasting impact of teachers, measuring BMI in schools and hip-hop that helps kids: these are a small sample of the stories up right now on CNN`s new education blog. It`s called the "Schools of Thought." It`s awesome. It`s about all things education. Check it out today at


AZUZ: And before we go, if you`ve ever been forced to look at someone`s vacation pictures, we guarantee they didn`t look like this.


AZUZ (voice-over): This is a time-lapse video of one man`s journey around the world. He quit his job, grabbed his camera and just took off. Seventeen countries, 25,000 miles, all of that in less than a year. He used more than 6,000 pictures to make this video, but he actually snapped more than 10,000 time-lapse shots and 15,000 pictures and videos on his trip.


AZUZ: Spending that much time behind the camera could make you "shutter," although it obviously "lens" its to some incredible pictures. That ends our journey for today. We`re off on Monday for Martin Luther King Day. We hope you enjoy the weekend. Look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.