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Democratic National Convention Begins Today in Charlotte

Aired September 4, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome back to CNN STUDENT NEWS. My name is Carl Azuz, and on this Tuesday September 4th, we are starting things off in the Tarheel State.

It`s one party after another, but there is a difference in the crowd. The Democratic National Convention begins today in Charlotte, North Carolina. It immediately follows the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, which we covered last week, and you can catch up on at

Here is some time lapse video of the Democrats setting up for their big event. On the schedule, revealing the Democratic Party platform, where Democrats stand on the issues, and officially nominating President Obama for reelection. We`ve got a great explainer available on political conventions -- the glitz, glamour and goals of the events. You can find it in the CNN`s Explains box on our Web site.

We`ve reported on the civil war that`s torn up the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. That war reached a grim superlative last week. The United Nations says it was the deadliest week so far in the war, with 1,600 people killed in the past seven days. Syria`s government says it has been targeting terrorists, but the international community, including the U.S. and other countries, says civilians and children are getting caught in the crossfire between the government and the opposition fighters who want a new president. This crisis has been going on for 18 months now. We`ll bring you more from Syria in the weeks ahead.


LAWSON LAMAR, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: I`ve come to believe that hazing is a term for bullying. It`s bullying with the tradition, the tradition that we cannot bear at America. FAMU is a fine university, it has a lot of fine traditions. But there is some that we would rather not acknowledge. The tradition of hazing in our nation`s colleges and universities is something that will continue to happen out of sight, until a student like Robert Champion pays the ultimate price.


AZUZ: OK. That was earlier this year. A Florida state attorney discussing the death of Robert Champion. He was a Florida A&M University drum major, who died in 2011 after an apparent hazing incident on a bus. Officials say it involved multiple traumatic hits to his body, criminal charges were filed against those accused of hazing Robert Champion. The school`s band director retired and its president resigned after the incident. That`s part of the reason why Clark Atlanta University shot down its marching bands Saturday night. Officials said there were accusations of hazing there, they called even the possibility unacceptable and started an investigation. It`s one example of how the fallout from the Florida A&M incident has affected students. George Howell found some other example in this report from the end of last school year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three ....


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There`s much more to band than just the music for many high school programs. The director of the Tri-Cities High marching band in Atlanta says keeping a competitive edge also translates to big college scholarships for its students.

TARIK ROWLAND, DIRECTOR OF BANDS: It can mean the parent and will not have to fork out, you know, thousands of dollars for a school year. It could mean money for four years.

HOWELL (on camera): Where did you want to go first?


HOWELL: And why is that?

HARDWICK: Because -- because they have -- they put on a great show.

LAWRENCE WILLIAMS, BAND MEMBER: They are just a great band, they show a lot of pride when they perform, and everybody loves them.

HOWELL (voice over): The famed Marching 100 had its last performance November 19th, 2011. The school suspended band activity following the hazing death of 26-year old Robert Champion, and with more than a dozen former band members now facing criminal charges in connection to Champion`s death, Florida A&M suspended the band through the 2013 school year, leaving students like Danny Oliver out of luck.

DANNY OLIVER, BAND MEMBER: I have lots of scholarships to other colleges, but FAMU never came and auditioned anyone because of the suspension.

HOWELL (on camera): Were you disappointed about that?

OLIVER: A little bit, yes.

HOWELL (voice over): Every year there is great competition among colleges to recruit from high schools like the Tri-City`s High School Bulldog Marching Band, and with FAMU now out of the picture, we`ve learned that several other colleges are seeing a 10 to 20 percent increase in auditions, giving them the opportunity to be even more selective.

ROWLAND: Some schools wouldn`t seek after the most musically achieving students, because they didn`t have a chance. FAMU is known as the school to pool the most dedicated, the best outstanding musicianship in the band program.

HOWELL: Some students worry how the prolonged suspension will affect FAMU, missing out on top talent.

WILLIAMS: FAMU receives a lot of talented students, which makes them such a great band.

HOWELL: And in the world of marching bands and everywhere else, it`s all about the talent. And the question, will FAMU be able to get the talent back? George Howell, CNN, Atlanta.


AZUZ: Some were asking that same question about the NFL`s referees. You don`t know their names, but anyone who`s watched pro-football has seen their work, except you won`t be seeing it when the season opens on Wednesday. The refs are involved in the labor dispute with the NFL, which means the two sides can agree on what refs get paid among other things. The league has been using replacement refs during the preseason, and they are catching some criticism for too many or too few penalty calls. We don`t know yet how long this will last or when or if the professional refs will come back. The NFL had a similar dispute with players last year, and a preseason game had to be canceled as a result.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "The Shoutout." Which of these wars began in 1939? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: Spanish Civil War, Korean War World War I or World War II? Britain and France declared war on Germany beginning World War II on September 3rd 1939. That`s your answer, and that`s your "Shoutout!".


AZUZ: World War II was the deadliest and the biggest war in world history. Proof of that is still turning up. After finding an unexploded bomb recently in Munich, Germany`s third largest city, experts tried to diffuse it, but couldn`t. And what came next was a scene that might have played during the allied air assault over 60 years ago.


AZUZ: Even though it was a controlled explosion, it still caused evacuations, set roofs on fire and broke some windows in downtown Munich. While any kind of explosion there is unusual, finding bombs from World War II is not. There are tens of thousands of World War II bombs believed to be scattered across Germany.

What do you think of when you hear the word "Hero?" Is it someone who lays down the life to save others? Or someone who is just there to give someone else a hand? The CNN "Hero" we`re profiling today is somewhere in between, and she found a way to create a community of heroes.


JO CRAWFORD: When I was 13, my dad was very violent and attempted to murder my mom.

Hi, baby.

It wasn`t until I was 55 that I came to work in a shelter, and met a woman who had fled Chicago with two young children. She had no documentation. She did not legally exist.

She said, can you help me? I need $40 to get all the documentation. It is totally forbidden, but I gave her the two $20 bills, and I`m thinking I just changed three lives with $40. I had no idea that I had actually changed my life as well.

My name is Jo Crawford, and I ask women survivors of domestic violence to dream their best live. And I give them the means to accomplish the first step.

(on camera): This is what you want, and this is what you deserve.

The women are all out of a relationship for at least six months. They have to be free of alcohol and drugs, and they have got to have a dream ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back to school to do social services, to be a social worker.

CRAWFORD: It`s not a gift. She agrees to pay it forward to three other survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to be helping three ladies get their GED. | CRAWFORD: These women need to know that they deserve the dream, and have the power to create it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got so much help, which enabled me to buy a sowing machine, and that made me realize I should be a person who not only receives help, but also gives help.

CRAWFORD: I`m so proud of you.


CRAWFORD: One woman can make a difference, but women working together can change the world.


AZUZ: Before we go, an Alabama principal used his head to get students test scores up. He promised he`d shave his hair and beard, which he`d had for 21 years, if the rising six graders all passed every part of the state exam. They`ve been through a lot together. Homes and classrooms have been devastated by a tornado, but the students overcame and held their end of the deal, so the principal gave up every hair on his head. It definitely made him cooler in a couple of ways, though having to sit through that was probably a little hair-raising. Still, for the students and the principal, everything abeared to go pretty well. We`ll be back with our hair and puns intact tomorrow. I hope to see you then.