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Strike in South African Mine Turns Deadly; The One-Square-Meter House

Aired August 20, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Whether you are starting a new week or a new school year, we welcome you to CNN STUDENT NEWS. Hello, I`m Carl Azuz. Today, we are taking you to Cuba, to Syria, even up to Mars. But today, we are starting on the continent of Africa.

All right, first up, we`re talking about a tense situation surrounding a mining operation in the country of South Africa, specifically. This all started about a week ago. The miners argued that because their jobs were very dangerous, they wanted to be paid more for their work, about three times more. The company that owns the mine, which is called Lonmin, said no, so the miners went on strike. This all happened at the Marikana mine. It`s about two hours away from Johannesburg, which is the largest city in South Africa. The strike turned deadly last week when police officers opened fire on the striking miners. 34 workers were killed, 78 others were wounded. A police commissioner says the officers were forced to defend themselves after the miners fired on them.

Journalists at the mine could not say for sure which side fired first. People came out to protest the shooting over the weekend. They were carrying traditional machetes, the large knives you see right here.

Lonmin, the company, says the strike is illegal. It set a deadline for the miners to report back to work. That deadline is today.

Next up, we`re moving north to Syria. Around 300 military observers from the United Nations are leaving the Middle Eastern country. They`ve been in Syria for four months. They were supposed to monitor a cease-fire that the government and rebels agreed to back in April. Well, that cease- fire never happened. In fact, the violence just got worse. That`s not the reason why U.N. observers are leaving, though. Their mandate, their authorization to be in Syria ended yesterday. The United Nations says it will still have a presence in Syria and will keep working to find the solution to the country`s civil war.

Our next headline brings us back across the Atlantic Ocean, but it doesn`t take us out of the water. You see Cuba and the Florida Keys coming around right here. Diana Nyad is attempting to swim from one to the other. This is a practice video from a few years ago. Nyad started her swim on Saturday. The 103-mile trip is expected to taker her 60 hours if she`s able to complete it. Nyad`s team says she`s been making good progress, though she`s been stung by jellyfish on her face, hands and neck.

She`s tried this a few times before. She told CNN there`s some extra pressure this time around.


DIANA NYAD, ENDURANCE SWIMMER: On the one hand, I`m feeling some pressure. As you mentioned, it`s not the first time. We can dig back, way back to 1978, when I was very young, in my 20s, coming up to the last couple of years. And a number of failures at this. So I`m feeling a tremendous, you know, inner pressure that this has got to be it, this has got to be the last time. And on the other hand, I`ve got to tell you, I am sky-high excited. My adrenaline is just pumping out of my skin. I`m ready for this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m a device that was suggested by Albert Einstein in 1916, but wasn`t invented until decades later. My name is an acronym that stands for what I do. Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

I`m a laser, and I can be used in construction, medicine, and scientific research.


AZUZ: That scientific research can happen in a lab or on another planet. The Curiosity rover has been on Mars for two weeks now, and it`s definitely leaving its mark on the place. This weekend, its mission was set to fire its laser at some of the landscape. Curiosity is on Mars to investigate whether the planet could have ever supported life. A laser is part of that. The rover was set to take aim at N165 -- that is a three- inch rock. The plan was for Curiosity to sit about 10 feet away and hit the rock 30 times in 10 seconds with that laser. Then it would analyze the gas that`s released so that it can try to identify the chemical elements in the rock.

Leo McCarthy helped set up an organization that offers scholarships to high school students. More than 140 have gotten one so far, and in order to qualify, these students have to take on a challenge. McCarthy came up with the idea when he was struggling through a personal tragedy. Now it`s the reason why he`s one of this year`s "CNN Heroes."


LEO MCCARTHY, CNN HERO: October 27th, 2007, was a beautiful autumn day. Mariah, she was with her two friends. I didn`t know the last time I kissed her would have been my last time. Later that night, they were walking down this path when an under-aged drunk driver swerved off the road and hit them. Mariah landed here. She died that night. They were only a block away from my house. Mariah was only 14. And I`m thinking, how did this happen? It is so preventable.

My name is Leo McCarthy. I give kids tools to stay away from drinking.

Our state has been notoriously top five in drinking and driving fatalities in the country. The drinking culture, it`s a cyclical disease that we allow to continue.

Mariah`s challenge is be the first generation of you kids to not drink.

In the eulogy, I said if you stick with me for four years, don`t use alcohol, don`t use illicit drugs, I`ll be there with a bunch of other people to give you money to go to a post-secondary school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I promise not to drink until I am 21.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I promise not to get into a car with someone who has been drinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise to give back to my community.

MCCARTHY: I think Mariah`s challenge is something that makes people think a little bit more to say we can do better.

Mariah`s forever 14. I can`t get her back. But I can help other parents keep their kids safe. If we save one child, we save a generation.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "The Shoutout." Approximately how many square feet are in one square meter? If you think you know it, then shout it out. Is it one square foot, 5 square feet, 10 square feet or 20 square feet? You`ve got three seconds, go.

One square meter is equal to a little more than 10 square feet. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: So it`s an area that`s bigger than your desk but not by too much. It`s not a lot of space, but one architect has designed what he calls a house that is just one square meter. He says if you live in it, you could have the biggest house imaginable. You just have to have the right mind-set. Here is his explanation.


VAN BO LE-MENTZAL, ARCHITECT: I think it is the word`s smallest house, because it is just one square meter. I mean, it`s about 10 square feet, and you can sit in it, work in it and sleep in it.

My name is Van Bo Le-Mentzal from Germany, .Berlin, and I`m an architect and I`m the founder of the so-called one square meter house.

The one square meter house has everything you need to call it a house. It has a roof, it has a door, a lockable door. It has a foldable desk and a window. And you can sleep in it. It`s very small. It`s a tiny space if you stay in that house the whole day. But if you define your house as a kind of center base and declare the park as your garden or the city as your living room, this house is possibly the biggest house that you can imagine.

I`m from a refugee family, so when I came to Germany from Laos, back then, I had nothing. All my life I was confronted (ph) with the question, what is home? Where do you belong to? Where is my home base? And where do I want to settle? And the one square meter house is one of the answers that I found for myself. I can settle wherever I want, because this is the one square meter that nobody is allowed to touch. It`s mine.


AZUZ: As I said, it`s all about mind-set. It has no bathroom, no coach, no kitchen, no television. You can`t really store or cook anything in it, but you can have it as your own space, and take it with you wherever. It`s all in how you define a house, and that`s what we`re talking about on our blog today at Log on, tell us what you think makes a house a house.

Finally, what`s better than a day at the amusement park when you don`t have to leave home to get there. An Ohio couple built this backyard rollercoaster for their kids. Now, watch this. It may only have one hill, but that hill is 12 feet tall, and as you can see in this Youtube video, it`s enough for everyone to have a good time. Took the couple three weeks to build the thing. How would you describe the experience of building a backyard rollercoaster? There are some ups and downs, just like in our puns. But it`s good to have a video camera so you can keep track of that.

It`s time for us to ride, but we will loop back tomorrow with more CNN STUDENT NEWS. See you then.