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Syrian Prime Minister Survives Assassination Attempt; NBA Player Announces He`s Gay

Aired April 30, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. We`re wrapping up April by starting in Syria. That country civil war has been going on since 2011, it started with people calling for Syria`s president to leave power. Yesterday, the violence targeted the Syrian prime minister. Wael Al Halqi reportedly survived a bombing attack on his motorcade. Several other people were killed or injured, and no one immediately took responsibility for this attack. Last week, the U.S. government announced that it had evidence of chemical weapons being used in Syria. It wasn`t clear which side in the war was using these weapons. President Obama has previously said that chemical weapons would cross a so-called "red line" and might push the U.S. to take more action in Syria. A Russian official warned countries like the U.S. against using the issue of chemical weapons to overthrow Syria`s government.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me. I`m part of the U.S. government whose leader is a member of the presidential cabinet. Right now that leader is Ray LaHood. My agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I`m the U.S. Department of Transportation, and I was established in 1966.


AZUZ: Secretary LaHood has run the Transportation Department for four years, but in January he announced his plan to step down, along with some other cabinet members. That`s Secretary LaHood in the right side of your screen behind President Obama. On the left side, Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx. He`s the president`s pick to be the next secretary of Transportation. The president doesn`t get the final say on that, it`s the U.S. Senate`s job to approve presidential nominees. If Foxx is approved, he`ll be the first African-American added to the president`s second term cabinet. Foxx has been the mayor of Charlotte for nearly four years, but he doesn`t have a background in transportation issues.

George Washington was a great leader and a great president, but when I reach in my wallet I`d rather see Ben Franklin, that semi-smiling C-note smirk seems to say, "I`m a 100 times better." It`s certainly more popular overseas. Of all the American hundred dollar bills in existence 65 percent of them are held outside the U.S. That`s part of the reason while the Federal Reserve is changing it. It`s the fourth time they`ve done this. They`re trying to make it easier to be sure a bill is genuine and harder to counterfeit it. The new hundred has a blue ribbon. Why? Because it`s a winner. No, it`s actually a 3D strip that appears to change when you move it, adding a new dimension of security. Same idea behind the bell and the ink well. The Federal Reserve plans to start circulating the new Benjamins this October after spending more than ten years coming up with the changes. Maybe not everyone agrees they`re needed, but Bennie himself once said, when you`re finished changing, you`re finished, and his bill shows no signs of folding.

All right, next stop today: Jason Collins - he did something yesterday that hasn`t happened in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB. He announced that he is gay. Collins has played in the National Basketball Association for 12 seasons. Other athletes have said they`re gay after they`ve left pro-sports, but Collins is the first one to do that as an active players. Here`s some of what he wrote in the magazine article where he made his announcement: "I didn`t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in the major American team sport. Since I am, I`m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn`t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, I`m different. If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I`m raising my hand. One of Collins` former teammates was asked about yesterday`s announcement.


KEYON DOOLING, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: For Jason now, you know he felt it was the right time, the right place, the right situation, he felt comfortable enough in his skin. At the end of the day, man, I did a lot of work in the community with him, he`s a great guy in the community, he`s a great team mate, a great locker room guy, and so at the end of the day, his sexual orientation doesn`t matter to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the guy who`s been interested in player development, on Twitter, it seems like most players are very supportive, very encouraging. So are you not surprised that ?

DOOLING: No, man, I mean - man, we - this is a brotherhood, you know, this is a small fraternity of NBA ball players, and we all go through different challenges, we all come from different backgrounds, different settings, different countries, different religions, different races, et cetera. You know, and this is just another testament to David Stern and the work that he`s done in NBA, because we are brotherhood, and at the end of the day if one of our brothers goes through something, we want to be there to support him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How ready do you think the NBA and NBA players for this - such a matter in a locker room situation?

DOOLING: Yeah, well, I`m not sure. You know what I mean? I think there`s always going to be ignorance in every platform, I think there`s always going to be you know, some reservations, you know, because, you know, for whatever stigma comes along with that.


AZUZ: What`s your take on this? We got a new blog post at, it`s where you can show your thoughts on Jason Collins and his announcement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Green`s class at Mojave High School in North Last Vegas, Nevada.

Who wrote the I, Robot collection of short stories? You know what to do? Was it Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury or Will Smith? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Isaac Asimov`s "I, Robot" stories have had a big influence on science fiction since they were first published in 1950. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.


AZUZ: Asimov was known for combining science fact with science fiction. The robots in this mechanical melee are the real deal. This is the FIRST robotics competition. FIRST, meaning For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. More than 10,000 students from around the world came to St. Louis Missouri to show off their engineering abilities. They had to design robots to perform certain tasks, like shooting frisbees and do a goal, or placing rings on a rack. One of these youth winners talked about what it takes.


SAGAR RAJENDRAN, 2013 FIRST CHAMPION: A lot of hours of, you know, just dedication to our team, you know, we had a teacher strike at a - in our region, and we have to build the robot out of student`s basement. And just think that we came this far is just - is just amazing, it`s just - I`m just ecstatic from this experience.


AZUZ: In the future, some of those student engineers could work on the kind of potentially life changing technology you`re about to see. Nick Glass wants to check it out.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, this is your bionic arm.

MICHAEL MCLOUGHLIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY: Yes. (inaudible) modular prosthetic limb or MPL. This is the most sophisticated arm in the world, it can do virtually everything that your natural limb can do.

GLASS: That`s quite a claim.

MCLOUGHLIN: Yes, it is. This arm has 26 individual joints that we can control.

GLASS: Has there ever been an arm quite like it?

MCLOUGHLIN: Never. So this arm is intended to work with your brain just like your natural arm works.

GLASS (voice over): The bionic arm weighs much the same as a normal one: about nine pounds and it can mimic pretty much anything a normal hand can do, has almost the same dexterity, 26 joints, 100 sensors, as we`ve been told, also 17 motors and the tiny computer built into the palm of the hand. The effect is almost musical.

It was time to have a go myself to slip on a special glove with sensors linked up to the bionic arm.

(on camera): How like my real arm and hand is this?

MCLOUGHLIN: It can do virtually anything that you can do with your natural hand. Now, you can move - yeah, you can move your wrists, right, it`s very fluid.

GLASS: My goodness! I could wave like the queen!

MCLOUGHLIN: That`s right. You can think about things like you`re playing the piano eventually, or doing very complex types of things.

GLASS: You`re imagining someone with bionic arms playing the piano?

MCLOUGHLIN: I think we`ll get there some day. We are not there yet, but we`ll get there.

GLASS: You feel privileged?

JOHNNY MATHENY, PATIENT: Oh, yes very privileged to be able to do this, to show, you know, any upper amputee person, you know, want to be able to do. It`s just going to be what`s come in your way, has not going to be in a way to future, a future`s coming now.


AZUZ: You want to see your favorite teacher mentioned on CNN STUDENT NEWS? You`d better get moving! Teacher Appreciation Week is next week. The deadline to send us your teacher appreciation I-reports is this Friday. Get all the details by checking out the link in the resources box of our home page. And teachers, we want you to visit that box, too. It`s where you`ll find the link to share your thoughts on today`s show.

Finally today, an illuminating story out of L.A. See that orange glow in the background of this video? That`s not a light show or a special affects display. It`s a tower of lava. That`s hot. This is Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. The active is right, this is the volcano`s 13th eruption this year. Experts say it won`t cause any problems for local towns or residence, but it might be kind of difficult to ignore, especially for our viewers there. If you`re talking to someone when the local mountain just burst in the fire, it might be a viable interruption. Think you could ignore Etna? That lavely story is going to flow right into us saying goodbye. Have a great day.