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Fighting in Syria; Michael Bloomberg Wants to Ban Large Sodas

Aired June 1, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re the Carr (ph) Middle School Idea (ph) Students --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- from Pascagoula, Mississippi --

GROUP: And this is CNN Student News.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flying back to you, Carl.


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: We hope it`s "plane" to see how much we enjoy your iReport introductions. I am Carl Azuz. It`s Friday. This is CNN Student News.

First up today, we`re heading to the Middle East.

Syria`s government has wrapped up an investigation into last weekend`s massacre in the city of Houla. The government report says terrorists are responsible for killing more than 100 civilians there. But an American official says the report is, quote, "a blatant lie."

Syrian officials have blamed armed terrorists for the violence that`s been raging in the country for more than a year now. Rima Maktabi looks at the different groups involved in the fighting.


RIMA MAKTABI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let`s take a look at the Syrian population. The sweeping majority of Syrians are Sunni, ruled by an Alawite minority for more than 40 years.

The Alawites are an Islamic sect, an offshoot of Muslim Shia that believes in the divinity of Ali, the prophet Mohammed`s cousin. They comprise around 16 percent of the population and occupy higher ranks in security and intelligence.

President Bashar al-Assad and his family are Alawites. As for the players in Syria, there are two obvious conflicting groups. The Syrian army and government forces defending the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Free Syrian Army, a group made up largely of army defectors supporting the uprising.

Yet the bloodiest atrocities are done on the hands of paramilitary forces. On the Syrian government`s side, there are the shabiha, described as a group of armed thugs, many of them Alawites with no official position in the military command structure.

The shabiha are widely blamed for committing the bulk of the killings at Houla and across Syria.

On the opposition side, there are numerous armed groups of Sunni extremists. Their aim is to bring down the Assad regime. To an Arab world that has grown accustomed to sectarian wars, these images of the Houla massacre could prove to be the point of no return for the regime and its enemies.


AZUZ: A U.S. federal appeals court says a national law is unconstitutional. The law is called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. It defines marriage as exclusively being between a man and a woman.


AZUZ (voice-over): This case has to do with federal benefits. Can the U.S. government deny those to same-sex couples who live in states where they can legally marry?

According to this ruling, the appeals court says no. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states right now. Others have approved laws or state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The appeals court said the controversial issue could ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.


BEN TINKER, SENIOR PRODUCER, CNN MEDICAL: There are about 230 calories in a 16-ounce soda, which means about 460 in a 32-ounce. But more importantly, about 40 grams of sugar in here, 50 grams of sugar in here.

Research has shown that rapidly digested sugar, like the sugar in soda, can actually lead to some really, really crazy changes in your body`s metabolism, which can lead to some pretty serious illnesses like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, even cancer in some cases, according to some researchers.


AZUZ: So that`s part of the reason why New York City officials are proposing a ban on large sodas and other sugary drinks.


AZUZ (voice-over): If this thing is approved, restaurants and food carts in the city wouldn`t be able to serve so-called sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. And if they did serve those, they could be fined. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it`s a health issue.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: For the government to make the decision that that should not include something else, that the experts all tell you is very detrimental to your health, that is contributing to the number one public health issue remaining in this city and in this country, that`s getting worse. It`s not unreasonable.


AZUZ: But some restaurant and drink industry officials are strongly against this. Critics are calling the proposed ban misguided, among other things. And opinions from some New Yorkers are mixed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t really feel he`s entitled to someone else`s opinion about what they should drink, how large it should be or how small it should be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s great.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just poison. It`s full of sugar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I mean, it`s up to the parents. It`s up to the individual. If you want to drink that stuff, so be it.

AZUZ (voice-over): We`re guessing you guys are going to have some opinions on this, and we want to hear them. Our blog at is the place to share them. Log on, let us know what you think.


AZUZ: The founder of Space X calls this a grand slam. He`s talking about his company`s historic mission to the International Space Station.


AZUZ (voice-over): The parachutes you see are attached to the Space X Dragon capsule. It splashed back down in the Pacific Ocean yesterday. Space X has a $1.6 billion contract from NASA to send at least 12 flights to the ISS.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Olson`s current events and history classes at South Middle School in Liberal, Kansas.

Which of these words means "existing from birth?" You know what to do. Is it pulmonary, congenital, acute or pathogenic? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Something that is congenital has existed since birth. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: Dylan Coleman is a congenital amputee. He was born without one of his hands. But he and his family never let that hold back Dylan`s desire to be an athlete. His father wasn`t there when Dylan hit his first college home run, but he was there for the second. Here`s their story.


JEFFREY COLEMAN, DILLON`S DAD: So we found out about 41/2 -- about halfway through my wife`s pregnancy. The ultrasound technician hadn`t seen any bones in the left hand. It was very difficult to process that next day. We did a lot of crying and trying to figure out how we were going to raise this child.

One thing we felt strongly about, and that was that there would be no doubt, that he wasn`t going to have any limits.

DILLON COLEMAN, CONGENITAL AMPUTEE: I touched a baseball before I can even remember it. You know, from the point I could grip something, it wasn`t a rattle, it was a baseball.

J. COLEMAN (voice-over): By the time he was 11/2, he was swinging the bat a little bit. He couldn`t even hold the bat well when he was 4 and 5 years old, it was so heavy for him.

J. COLEMAN: That`s out of here.

We were pretty confident he`d be able to play. I didn`t know to what level, but I had confidence it would be a long way.

J. COLEMAN (voice-over): And Pete Gray played -- you know, he was a position player. With Dillon having a lot more on his left arm than Pete Gray had, Pete Gray with the elbow, I said, "He can do it."

D. COLEMAN: The biggest challenges were not only getting people to believe that I could play, but convincing myself that I could.

And those small details of the game, like switching the glove off a ground ball and strengthening my arm enough to make it a seamless effort, knowing you put your mind hard enough to something and knowing that kids who you knew didn`t have as much talent as you or didn`t put their mind to it.

It was frustrating, it really was. As I got older and bigger and stronger, then that started to show, and my dad said, "Be patient. Be patient. It will come."

J. COLEMAN: As he became stronger, his swing became more and more powerful and just quicker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has as much whip in terms of swing mechanics as any guy I`ve ever coached, and it`s just obviously because his -- that hand is so dominant now.


D. COLEMAN: After hitting one home run, I was really disappointed he couldn`t see it. I was determined to show him something.

J. COLEMAN: I`m standing right behind the dugout, right behind the backstop, and all of a sudden, he hits the shot, and I`m thinking, oh, my goodness, that has a shot. And the ball goes out -- I felt like I was dreaming.

D. COLEMAN: (Inaudible) my dad raised me from a small kid and told me I could do anything I put my mind to, to finally see it, I knew it must have been emotional for him, probably even more emotional than it was for me.

J. COLEMAN: It was like all the culmination of everything we`ve gone through, all the hitting we took, all the baseball playing we played when he was little. I`ve been very proud, just proud.

D. COLEMAN: I`m just so thankful that God`s given me the opportunity to play and just for everything he`s given me.


AZUZ: Back in April, we reported on Eric Dompierre. He`s a high school junior who`s on his school`s football and basketball teams, but Eric wasn`t going to be able to play his senior year.


AZUZ (voice-over): That`s because he`s 19 years old. A rule says that`s too old to play high school sports.

Eric was held back in elementary school because he has Down syndrome, a genetic disorder. His school district asked if there could be an exception to the age rule for Eric, and yesterday, the state athletic association said yes. Some technical things have to happen to make it official, but it looks like Eric Dompierre will be on the team for his senior year.


AZUZ: And finally today, we`re remaking a classic animated movie.


AZUZ (voice-over): It`s "Lady and the Tramp-oline." The dog`s never going to be able to jump as high as the woman, but that didn`t stop him from trying. They`re even timing their jumps together for a second. It doesn`t last long. Seems kind of cruel not to let the dog jump onto the trampoline, too. The canine doesn`t seem to mind, though. It`s possible that it --


AZUZ: -- just can`t "tail" the difference, though we wouldn`t want to leap to any conclusions.

It`s time for us to bounce. Before we do, a quick congratulations to this week`s social media winners, Mike Moses (ph) Middle School in Texas. I`m Carl Azuz. Have a great summer if this is your last day; a great weekend otherwise. We`ll see you next week.