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Charles Taylor Found Guilty of Aiding and Abetting War Crimes

Aired April 27, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Fridays are awesome. And so are the Seahawks at Cold Spring Harbor High, because one of you got our social media question of the week correct.

I`m Carl Azuz. This is CNN Student News. Our first headline today takes us from the Netherlands to Africa.

Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, has been found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone. There`s a lot of information behind that headline, but here`s why it`s significant. This is the first time since 1946 that an international court has convicted a former world leader of war crimes.

The last time this happened it involved Nazi leaders right after World War II.


AZUZ (voice-over): From 1997 through 2003, Charles Taylor was the president of Liberia. It`s a West African country that is on the Atlantic Ocean. Taylor`s policies, how he ran Liberia, led the country into multiple problems. There was no power or running water for many Liberians. Rebels tried to overthrow Taylor`s government. The United Nations put sanctions -- punishments -- on Liberia.

Taylor was forced out of power in 2003. He was arrested three years later and he`s been on trial since 2007. The charges against Taylor are connected to a civil war in Sierra Leone. That`s one of the countries that borders Liberia.

Taylor was accused of funding and giving orders to rebel fighters in Sierra Leone. The war crimes charges also involved murder, slavery and forcing young teens to fight in the war. Taylor`s trial took place at The Hague in the Netherlands. That`s where the International Criminal Court is located. Taylor claimed he was innocent and pled not guilty. But the court convicted him on all 11 charges against him.


AZUZ: When it did, it made Taylor the first former head of state in more than 60 years to be convicted of war crimes by a international court. There`s no death penalty in international criminal law. A sentencing hearing for Charles Taylor is scheduled for the middle of next month.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s first Shoutout goes out to Ms. Ingram`s journalism classes at Gainesville Middle School in Gainesville, Virginia.

The word bovine refers to which of these animals? Here we go. Is it alligators, bears, cows or ducks? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Bovine comes from a Latin word, and it refers to cows or oxen. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: So if you hear about bovine spongiform encephalopathy, you might be able to figure it has to do with cows. That`s the technical name for mad cow disease. A case of that was recently discovered in California. And it has some people worried about the possibility of humans getting sick. Scientists have made a connection between eating contaminated meat and developing a deadly brain disease.


AZUZ (voice-over): Public health officials say the risk is pretty low in this case. The animal in question had a rare form of mad cow disease. Officials also say it never entered the human food chain. But one South Korean company is suspending the sale of American beef because of this discovery. This is the fourth case of mad cow that`s ever been confirmed in the U.S. Some critics say the government needs to do more testing for this disease.

A new study about teens and distracted driving says girls are more likely to engage in dangerous or distracting behaviors by almost 15 percent. The girls who were surveyed said some of the biggest distractions include reading texts, eating behind the wheel and having other passengers in the car.

Experts say 16-year olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, but the number of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents is decreasing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit.

Which of these is a measure of frequency? You know what to do. Is it ohm, hertz, amplitude or millisievert? Another three seconds on the clock and go.

When it comes to measuring frequency, the number of hertz equals the number of cycles per second. That`s your answer and that`s your Shoutout Extra Credit.


AZUZ: Hertz can tell you what frequency you`re at. But it can`t tell you how much space is available there. Wireless technology works on limited number of frequencies and the space may be running out. Maggie Lake explains why.


MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The availability of smartphones and tablets means we can connect, communicate and share anytime, anywhere. That has led to a spike in data traffic. Overall, mobile traffic grew by 159 percent in 2010 and rose another 133 percent last year. That`s a huge surge. And as CNN Money`s David Goldman explains, current telecommunication systems are having a hard time keeping up.

DAVID Goldman, CNN MONEY: Imagine the way that you connect like a digital highway. So any time that you`re getting on the network, you`re driving down a highway. You always were able to connect, but that was on a wire.

Now you`re connecting wirelessly. And to do that, everyone has to get on the -- on a cell tower. And especially in a park like this, where everyone is trying to connect, that eats up a lot of bandwidth. And it`s much more difficult to do it wirelessly.

LAKE (voice-over): That bandwidth lives on the radio spectrum, a fixed range of frequencies between 3 kHz and 300 GHz, controlled by the federal government. It`s a large area used for many different types of communication.

But only a small section is good for video. Within that small section is an even smaller band, 700-800 MHz. That`s best for sending material over the mobile phone network. Some refer to it as the beachfront property of spectrum.

LAKE: As more and more of us jump on mobile devices, that desirable area of spectrum is getting all jammed up. Telecommunications experts say it is simply not possible to build out more.

LAKE (voice-over): The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the telecommunications industry in the U.S., says a combination of adding new technologies and licensing more spectrum are needed if we`re to avoid capacity problems.

LAKE: What happens if more and more of us buy this stuff and want to get on, and we don`t have any more room on that data highway, on the spectrum? What`s going to happen?

GOLDMAN: Well, you`re going to see more dropped calls. You`re going to see slower speeds for connection and the worst part, the unsavory part for consumers is that carriers are going to start to limit your ability to connect to their networks.

So we`re starting to see it already where AT&T and Verizon and other carriers are tiering prices so that once you hit a certain limit, they cap your data. They start to throttle back your speed and that`s the unfortunate reality, is that they`re really, in effect, raising prices.

LAKE (voice-over): Dan Hays (ph) says to ultimately resolve the capacity problem, consumers must treat spectrum like the limited natural resource it is.

What consumers should really be watching out for is if we don`t make better use of the cellular networks and our spectrum resources. We should all be expecting that our prices are going to go up.

LAKE (voice-over): Maggie Lake, CNN, New York.


AZUZ: The most heartfelt responses I`ve ever seen on our blog came when we asked what has sentimental value to you.


AZUZ (voice-over): For Missy, it`s her great-grandmother`s diary, "from when she was in high school until her 60th wedding anniversary." It was passed down when she passed away.

Gentry has an old baseball glove from his grandpa. "He always went out of his way to make me a better ball player, even when I was struggling."

Maggie: "A photo of me and my horse, McBeth. He passed a few years ago. But whenever I look at that photo, I get the happiest feeling inside."

Reed owns a necklace that his dad gave him a few years go. He finds it sentimental because he doesn`t get to see his dad very often.

For Sara, it`s a cross that hangs on her bedroom wall. "My great- grandma carved it," she writes.

And Ian has a ball cap that his used to wear when he played baseball. "It was from one of the teams that he used to play for in the `70s."

I wish we could read all of these. Your comments were excellent. You can read the rest of them at


AZUZ: April is the Month of the Military Child. I had a chance to talk recently with one of the military children of the year, Erica Booth.


ERIKA BOOTH, MILITARY CHILD: Well, I`ve actually really enjoyed being a military child, just because I can say my dad fights for our country every day, and that`s his job, and not everyone can say that.


AZUZ: Erika has an incredible story. You`re going to hear her tell it and hear more about the Month of the Military Child in our show on Monday. So please make sure to check that out next week.

There are some videos that are just so compelling, so incredible, I don`t need to try and describe them. They could just stand alone.


AZUZ (voice-over): It`s a frog, and it`s sitting like a person. The frog may not seem excited about that, but someone thought the idea of an amphibian perched with its hands on its hips -- do frogs even have hips? Someone thought this would make a good post on YouTube.


AZUZ: It`s possible the frog was ordered to sit still and he just "toad" the line. But under the surface, oh, he was hopping mad. We just wish he would have shown a little frog enthusiasm, you know, just a "tad- pole" more. That "ribbiting" experience is how we wrap up the week. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.