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Chicago Teachers on Strike; Violence on the Rise in Afghanistan

Aired September 11, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of teachers in Chicago didn`t start their week in the classroom. They were here. You`re about to find out why. Because that story is first up in today`s edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS.

Chicago has the third largest district in the United States, but a lot of its schools didn`t open yesterday, and that is because the teachers union, which represents nearly 30,000 Chicago teachers and other school staff, went on strike. That means around 350,000 students had an unplanned day off on Monday. The union has been negotiating with city officials on a new contract. As of yesterday, they had not reached the deal. Teachers` salaries are part of the issue here. The two sides are pretty close on that. The big sticking point seems to be over job security for teachers and how they are evaluated. Even though they hadn`t made an agreement, the city and the teachers` union have both talked about the progress being made. And some parents are angry about this situation.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: I believe that what has been discussed over the last 100 plus meetings, over five months, over 400 hours, is an agreement that is an honest compromise, that respects our teachers, does right by our kids, and is fair to our taxpayers.

KAREN LEWIS, CTU PRESIDENT: We are here to negotiate for better schools in Chicago, period, the end, and a fair contract to go along with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My kid is at home missing out on all the education, so now they get to go home and play around and pretend like this is a fun day. This ain`t fun for nobody.


AZUZ: For Americans, and for many people around the world, today is the day of morning and remembrance. 11 years ago, on September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people. Most of those were killed in New York City, where hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Center`s Twin Towers. Every year since then, mourners gather at the memorial site that`s been built in that same location. Others pay tribute in Washington D.C. like in this video from last year. That`s where a third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon building. A fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to disrupt the hijackers. A memorial has been built there as well.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks led to the war in Afghanistan. That`s because the Taliban, the militant group that was running most of Afghanistan in 2001, allowed members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group to live and train there. Now, U.S. and other international forces are gradually turning control of Afghanistan back over to Afghan authorities. What you are seeing here is another sign of that handover. American troops transferring a prison at Bagram Air Base over to Afghan control. The U.S. didn`t turn over all of the prisoners, though. It held on to a handful that it considers high-value members of the Taliban until unspecified U.S. concerns are addressed by Afghan leaders. This transfer of power is happening all over Afghanistan. Anna Coren examines how that`s going and the role that the Taliban is playing.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the foothills of Sayad Abad in central Afghanistan, smoke rises from an Army outpost. These smoldering ruins signal the end of a battle. The Taliban claims to have won.

They say, U.S. forces handed over this post in Wadak (ph) province to the Afghan National Army back in July.

And that after weeks of relentless fighting, the Taliban forced the Army troops to flee. And the outpost is now under Taliban control.

The spokesman for coalition forces dismisses such claims, saying that while the transfer of power is happening, there`s no evidence to suggest Afghan forces are losing ground.

BRIG. GEN. GUNTER KATZ, ISAF: This was sheer propaganda, and this is one of the few things that are left for the Taliban.

COREN: But violence is on the rise across this war-ravaged country, making the transition that much more difficult. Under Mount Darul Aman on the outskirts of Kabul, in between the ruins of the kings and queens palaces destroyed during the civil war that followed the Soviet occupation is the training headquarters for the Afghan National Army, often referred to as the ANA. It`s here where army recruits learn the skills to fight the insurgency. They used to be under the guidance of the British Army. Now, Brigadier Richard Dennis, the Deputy Commander of NATO`s training mission, is here as a guest.

BRIG. RICHARD DENNIS, DEPUTY NATO COMMANDER TRAINING MISSION: The Afghan National Army is doing better than we thought they would, and better than they thought they could. And what you see behind me here, is the evidence of that.

COREN: Well, these training schools, which are now 90 percent Afghan- led, are a positive sign this transition is working. There are serious concerns, whether the Afghan forces, both army and police, will be ready to take over their nation`s security after the foreign combat troops leave here in 2014.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time for the "Shoutout." What would you find at about 66 degrees north latitude?

If you think you know it, then shout it out. Is it the Tropic of Cancer, Antarctic Circle, Equator or Arctic Circle.

You`ve got three seconds, go!

The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line that circles the globe at around 66 degrees north latitude. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.


AZUZ: A lot of the Arctic, that area that goes from the Arctic Circle up to the North Pole is covered in ice, probably not a big surprise there. But scientists think the area could also be reached in fuel sources. Things like oil and natural gas. There is some controversy about the idea of drilling for these resources. Some critics have raised concerns about the possible effects on the local environmental wildlife. Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company, has been given permission by the U.S. government to set up an oil well in the Arctic. And the company says it`s taking steps to "do it right." Miguel Marquez drills down on the details.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Shell calls the wells relatively simple, but will drill them as though they are the most complicated prospect in the company has ever done. Why? Deepwater Horizon and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

PETE SLALBY, V.P. SHELL ALASKA: We`d have been tone deaf if we had thought that it could be -- would have been business as usual after the Deepwater Horizon.

MARQUEZ: Could this happen again like Shell`s Arctic wells, the disastrous Macondo well was exploratory, but Shell, unlike BP, has no plans to bring up oil this summer. It will need a much bigger platform to do that.

Shell`s wells will be capped and abandoned. The biggest difference, depth. Shell will be drilling in less than 200 feet of water in up to 8,000 feet below the seabed. Deepwater Horizon drilled through 5,000 feet of water than more than 13,000 feet below the sea floor. The pressure differences, enormous.

SLALBY: The pressures are roughly about a third of what you`d see in a typical deepwater well.

MARQUEZ: Like all wells, Shell will use blowout preventers. Unlike BP`s Shell`s blowout preventers will lie beneath the seabed, so a rig can disconnect more safely in case of emergency.

SLALBY: As a part of what happened in the post Deepwater Horizon world, all these blowout preventers were actually brought back to what we call original equipment manufacturer standards.

MARQUEZ: In case of a blowout, Shell will have on hand a capping stack, that`s what brought an end to the Gulf disaster.

Regulators insist the risk in the Arctic is acceptable. With no easy oil left to find, it is only hard choices from here on out.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Anchorage, Alaska.


AZUZ: On our blog at, most of you don`t think FAMU`s anti-hazing pledge will actually stop hazing. Vicky says, it likely won`t work because people may sign the pledge and read it, and then not go by it. Haley writes, "In middle and high school, many have to sign an anti-bullying pledge, but lots of people still do that. This is no different." From Jack, "It`s a good idea, and it may slow hazing somewhat, but there are always people who disobey the laws."

Now, Rosa says the policy at least makes all students aware that hazing is now the school`s main concern, and serious actions could be taken." And Stephen believes, the signed document means that if hazers are found out, they could be expelled. But Hunter describes hazing as a tradition, and says some kids just like to do it. And Jonathon thought, "Sayings someone is going to stop doing (something) illegal, because they sign something is like having a child promise he won`t stick his hand in a cookie jar."

For more on this story check out yesterday`s show at

Before we go, we are going to check out an interesting contest from Thailand. This is just the warm-up. We`ll call it the calm before the circular storm. Now, the game is on. Believe it or not, this is Thailand`s first ever hula hoop competition. Around 1,400 people took part, and fans cheered them on from the sidelines. The country`s health ministry organized that twirl-wind event, and the winning team took home more than $1,000.

It sounds like a hula lot of money, just for playing with a toy. Champs probably ran circles around the competition and celebrate their victory with a lot of hooping and hollering. You know why hula hoop puns sound so perfect? Because there`s a nice ring to them. That`s all for CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz, have a great day.