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Civil War in Syria; Changes to Obama`s Cabinet Expected

Aired November 14, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: What`s that time of year to crown homecoming kings and we have one from Florida. You are not going to want to miss. It`s coming up in just a few minutes, right here on CNN STUDENT NEWS.

The first thing we are talking about today is the civil war in Syria. Now, there are some signs that the conflict might be changing a bit. The fighting in the Middle Eastern nation has been going on for 20 months now. It started because some Syrians wanted changes to their government. Like for their president to step down. Different rebel groups have been fighting against the government. This weekend, they officially formed a single coalition, and some analysts think that a unified opposition can have a better chance for victory. It`s been estimated that more than 35,000 people have been killed since the Civil War started, more than 400,000 have left their homes because of the fighting. And that includes two brothers that Arwa Damon met for her next report. Teachers, this is a personal account about the war. We suggest that you preview it. The younger brother who is 11 years old, was wounded in a rocket attack. He lost one of his legs, that`s when his older brother, who is 21, made a promise that led them out of their home country. Here is their story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like many other boys his age, 11-year old Abdurrahman (ph) wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grow up. But like so many others in his homeland of Syria, the violence shattered his dream.

OMAR, BROTHER: After he woke up as just, we were just saying, I was crying. I cannot (ph) control myself. He said please don`t cry. If you love me, don`t cry.

DAMON: And that is when Omar made Abdurrahman a promise, that he would walk again.

OMAR: He started to hang onto that idea. So I`m going out, and he kept saying to me, when are we - when are we leaving? Yeah, because once - every time they are fighting, jets come, he says, when are we leaving? We should leave.

DAMON: Omar is now an expert at changing his brother`s bandages. He started to save money for a prosthetic, but realized that it was going to take too much time. He began asking around, and a group of visiting Egyptian doctors told him about the Global Medical Relief Fund, a small U.S. NGO, dedicated to helping children badly injured in disaster and war zones.

Its founder Alyssa Montante (ph) was quick to respond. But first, the brothers had to get to Turkey. A car drove them as close to the border as it could, the driver`s last words "You are on your own now." Omar`s arms were aching as he carried his brother and their three bags across the muddy field. The brothers eventually made their way to Ankara in Turkey. But the boys don`t have passports. Their visas to the U.S. were denied, and now they are waiting to see if the State Department will grant them humanitarian parole.

OMAR: The most important thing that he is learning at this time, I think, it`s to be aware of everything, I mean to grow up his mind, I mean. He`s not a child anymore.

DAMON: Arwa Damon, CNN, Ankara.


AZUZ: Next up, a natural disaster in Venice, Italy. Severe flooding has led to the deaths of several people there, 200 Italians have reportedly been forced out of their homes. Venice is in Northern Italy, it`s a major seaport and a popular tourist destination. It`s famous for its canals. So you might usually think of people riding down the street it boats, but this is anything but usual. Two big weather systems combined together and drenched the city. Earlier this week, 70 percent of Venice was under water. It was the city`s sixth highest water level in 140 years.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s first "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Toijala`s social studies classes at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

Which should be this part of the executive branch of the U.S. government? You know what to do, is it the Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office, Cabinet or U.S. Supreme Court? You`ve got three seconds, go!

The executive branch includes the cabinet, advisors to the president. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: But you are going to expect to see some changes in President Obama`s cabinet in the days ahead. When a president is reelected. Some of the advisors from the first term stay on, others don`t. It`s up to the president to decide who stays and who goes. Now, the vice president is considered part of the cabinet, but the other members are not elected. They are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, including the vice president, there are 16 members of the cabinet, you see eight of those positions here, and here are the remaining eight positions. One interesting thing about the cabinet: the word "cabinet" doesn`t actually appear in the U.S. Constitution. But the concept does. Article II, Section 2 says "[the president] may require the opinion in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices ..." It doesn`t say what departments or how many of them there should be. The first U.S. president had four cabinet members, more were added over the years.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for a "Shoutout Extra Credit." Ohms, amperes, coulombs are associated with what? You know what to do? Is it sound, electricity, pressure or temperature? Put another three seconds on the clock and go.

You might get a charge from knowing that these options are all associated with electricity. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout Extra Credit."


AZUZ: "Motor Trends" magazine names a car of the year. And this year, for the first time, the winner is all electric. It`s the Tesla model S, and according to representatives from the magazine, the voting wasn`t close. The luxury car didn`t win just because it`s electric. "Motor Trends" said it won in part because of its performance. Zero to 60 in four seconds, and because it`s one of the most efficient cars ever tested, averaging nearly 75 miles per gallon or the electric equivalent of that. Only a couple of hundred have been sold, they ain`t cheap, the Tesla averages between $50,000 and $100,000.

Our next story today comes from Port St. Lucy, Florida. High school student there has cerebral palsy. It`s a medical disorder that effects movement, posture or muscle tone. His fellow students nominated him to the homecoming court. But if you are worried we just spoiled the ending of that story, no, we`ll let WPBF`s Randy Gillenhal (ph) take it from here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s homecoming football at Centennial High School. And watching from the stands, sits senior Hakam Daley in his wheelchair. Hakam has cerebral palsy. His caretaker Chris, a football coach, helps him get in and out of the car and carries his book bag at school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going through a crowded hallway can be tough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live hasn`t always been easy for Hakam. Put up for adoption, he`s been in and out of foster homes for most of his life, but one thing he does have, is a big smile and lots of friends who nominated him to be homecoming king.

HAKAM DALEY, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: When I heard the message, my -- I -- I had no words to describe. I was so happy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kayla Donohue was the cheerleader, and one of Hakam`s good friends. She secretly rallied up the senior class and got them to put his name on the homecoming court.

KAYLA DONOHUE, STUDENT: It just showed how well as the group we can come together and make such a special person have such a special experience that he is going to remember for the rest of his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hakam lines up with the other nominees: football stars and popular kids. He`ll have to roll his wheelchair out onto the field.

DALEY: I feel nervous, very nervous, it`s going to be exciting. I know that God is with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But as they call his name, he`s got a surprise for everybody in the crowd. Hakam takes his first steps walking publicly for the very first time. And when they announced the winner, the homecoming king, the students here have a surprise right back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homecoming king is Hakam.

AUDIENCE: (cheering)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a great guy, he deserves this more than anybody else I know. So it just made me so proud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surrounded by cheerleaders and flashing cameras, Hakam Daley is the most popular kid at his high school.


AZUZ: What a story! Today`s before we go, segment is explosive. Now, like a lot of you , I like a good firework show. The government of Kuwait really likes a good firework show. Hopefully, the country`s people do too, this one went on for a while. 77,282 individual fireworks. Yes, that is a new record and one that cost $15 million to set. The country was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its constitution, obviously, that`s an event they don`t take lightly, that extinguishes all the time we have for today. We will be back with more illuminating stories tomorrow. So I hope to see you all then. Bye now.