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U.S. Air Force Tests Super-Fast Plane; Several Cars Fail New Crash Test; War in Syria

Aired August 15, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN STUDENT NEWS. We`re bringing you ten minutes of commercial free global headlines, and today, those headlines are coming at you from land, sea and air. I`m Carl Azuz. Let`s go.

We`re going to start in the air. Flight from New York to London usually takes around seven and a half hours. The U.S. Air Force is working on a type of vehicle that could make that trip in less than one hour. Yesterday, they took this thing out on a test flight. We have this animation that shows how it was supposed to go. This plane is carrying the X51A Wave Rider. You can see it there underneath the wing. The idea was for the Wave Rider to drop off the other plane and then show what it`s made for. Wave Rider is a hypersonic aircraft. That basically means it`s fast. 4,500 miles per hour fast. It`s six times the speed of sound. The goal for yesterday`s test was for the Wave Rider to go that fast for 300 seconds. It`s not the vehicle`s first test flight. Some of the previous ones didn`t go very well and they had to be shut down early.

Cars have been doing better and better in crash tests for years. But on this one, eight out of the 11 car models that were tested, failed. Here is what`s different about this test: the car is hitting the barrier with just a quarter of the front bumper. It`s called a small overlap impact, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the group that`s running this test, says it`s the most dangerous kind of frontal car crash. Most of the car companies that did poorly on this test pointed out that their vehicle still meet all federal safety standards and that they`ve done well with other tests. But the companies also promised to do better on this specific test with future models.

More than 60 wild fires are burning across parts of the Western U.S. California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Idaho are all dealing with this right now. The flames you are seeing here are from a pair of fires in California. Officials said those were about 30 percent contained on Tuesday. But in Washington State, one official described the fire conditions as extreme. Dozens of houses have been destroyed, hundreds of people have been told to leave their homes, to get away from the flames. Authorities are working to get help from the National Guard to fight these fires.

17 months, that`s how long violence has been going on in Syria. It started out as protest against the country`s government. People were calling for Syria`s president to leave office. But in the time since then, it`s erupted into a civil war with deadly fighting between forces from the military and the opposition. Some of the recent violence has been in the city of Aleppo. It`s the largest city in Syria, and Ben Wedeman looks at what life is like for some of the people who live in the middle of a battleground.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The line between live and death in Aleppo is perilously thin.

(on camera): Salam aleikum!

(voice over): Just one block away I met Hanadi who insists she and her family of six will not leave.

(on camera): (speaking Arabic)

(voice over): I asked her where the front line is, but she brushes off the question saying she has become accustomed to the shelling.

(on camera): (speaking Arabic)

(voice over): Her son, one-and a half year old, Abdul Hani (ph) seems confused and squeezes my hand tightly.

A two minute walk down the street an apartment building was hit in an air strike.

This building, or rather what`s left of this building, which really isn`t much, is in an area where civilians are still living. And, of course, among the ruins we found a French book, and somebody`s studying English, "The Life of William Shakespeare."

A rocket slammed into another building in the nearby Sikkari (ph) district wounding two, raining rubble into the street.

All the while government helicopters hover menacingly overhead, and jets dropped bombs on rebel-controlled neighborhoods.

The trappings of daily life in this city under siege have disappeared. Even the simple act of crossing the street required a strong heart and fast feet; the sniper`s bullet is just a crack away. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Aleppo, Syria.


AZUZ: Here is a look back at some events from this day in history. In 1914, the Panama Canal opened, creating a passageway for ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

In 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito told his people that the country had surrendered, bringing an end to World War II.

In 1947, the nation of India gained its independence, ending 200 years of British rule over the region.

And in 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival started. The event became a cultural symbol for many American youth and their opposition to the Vietnam War.

Eric Dompierre is a senior at Ishpeming High School in Michigan. He is on the football team, and he`s playing the tryout for the basketball team. He`s been on both of them before. But there was a chance that he wouldn`t be able to play any sports this year. Eric has Down syndrome, a genetic disorder, and because of that, his parents held him back in kindergarten. So, Eric turned 19 before this school year started, and Michigan rules said that 19-year olds couldn`t play school sports. But Eric`s family spent years trying to get the rule changed.


DEAN DOMPIERRE, ERIC`S DAD: It`s been a long two and half years, and there were a lot of times when we didn`t think we would ever get to this day. Even last December we had pretty much given up on the fact that Eric would be able to play, and we were just pushing for other kids to play. So, really, it seems to us to be just a miracle that so many people came together to help Eric get to play this year.


AZUZ: The rule is designed so that older students wouldn`t have a competitive advantage, but the state athletic association approved Eric`s request to keep playing, and they changed the rule. Now students who turn 19 before September will be allowed to play sports under some specific circumstances.

"CNN Heroes" program honors ordinary people who do extraordinary things to make the world better. If you know someone, whom you think qualifies, you can nominate him or her by clicking on the CNN Heroes link in the spotlight section on our homepage, that`s Nominations are open through the end of this month, and this next report is about one of this year`s hero, Zach Hudson.


ZACH HUDSON: I`ve been a police officer now for a little over ten years. We see people at their worst. And the one thing that I have seen over and over again is the victimization of the elderly. They are the forgotten portion of our society that nobody really thinks about, they are alone, and yet they don`t ask for help.

(on camera): Hey, buddy. You got a flat tire going there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, because I don`t have the money to fix it.

HUDSON: That`s not good.

(voice over): They are that much easier to victimize. It`s extremely sad.

(on camera): If I can help you with that tire, won`t you give me a call?

(voice over): I realized that something had to be done. I`d had enough.

I`m officer Zach Hudson, and I was raised by my grandparents, my great grandmother. Now, I`m bringing this community together to help keep seniors safe.

(on camera): Hey, Mr. Anderson.


HUDSON: How are you?

(voice over): Cops and firefighters come across seniors that have various problems, are able to call us and seniors reach out directly to us.

(on camera): How is your floor looking? Not so hot.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My floor getting mushy, I was scared to death that I`d go right down through it.

HUDSON (voice over): We contact not for profits, faith-based organizations and businesses, and we get it taken care of for free.

(on camera): If we can get the tile down, now wheelchair will take its toll on the floor like it did.

HUDSON (voice over): There is no job too small.

(on camera): We have 25 yards to do!

(voice over): It takes commitment from the community.

(on camera): Nice and solid.


HUDSON (voice over): Elderly people rescued me in a lot, a lot of ways.

(on camera): So, what do you think, Mr. Anderson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want to leave my bathroom.


HUDSON (voice over): This is simply an opportunity for me to give back to them.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me. I`m a type of cat distinguished in part by my white underbelly. In the wild you are more than likely to find me in Africa than anywhere else. I`m the fastest mammal on land. I`m a cheetah, and I can go from zero to 60 in three seconds.


AZUZ: Which is why what you about to see shouldn`t be a surprise, but it`s still mighty impressive. This is Sarah (ph), and she is flying into the record books again. The cheetah charged 100 meters in 5.95 seconds, that broke the old record: Sarah set that one too. If you are wondering how this stacks up against people -- Usain Bolt holds the record at 9.58 seconds. That means Sarah here is nearly four seconds faster. Let`s say Sarah and Bolt faced off, could you really trust her to run a fair race? After all, she is a cheetah. Bet you all could spot that one coming, but it`s time for us to sprint out of here. We will catch up with you again tomorrow. For CNN STUDENT NEWS -- I`m sorry. I`m Carl Azuz.