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STUDENT NEWS

U.S. Officials Say They Have Evidence of Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Aired May 2, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: A conservation clean up project and an accidental scholarship offer. That`s coming up this Thursday on CNN STUDENT NEWS. But our first story involves the civil war in Syria. U.S. officials say they have evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, but they don`t know how they were used, when they were used or which side used them. President Obama said those details need to be sorted out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The use of chemical weapons would be a game changer. Not simply for the United States, but for the international community. We`ve got to do everything we can to investigate and establish with some certainty what exactly has happened in Syria, what is happening in Syria. When I`m making decisions about America`s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I`ve got to make sure I`ve got the facts.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chemical weapons can be deployed any number of ways: they can be introduced intro food or water. They can be sprayed from airplanes, they can even be launched as artillery shells. For example, this liquid poison would be blasted off, it would hit the ground as the liquid spread out it will turn into a gas that would simply affect everything in the region. That`s what they believe happened in several towns here in Syria. But here`s the insidious thing: if we`re really talking about sarin gas, it is colorless, it is odorless, and it has no taste, so that people who are under attack would not even know it was happening to them. But they might now the symptoms, because they could come on almost immediately. Remember, this was developed as a pesticide. And this is what it does to humans: it causes blurred vision, rapid breathing, heavy sweating, confusion, headaches, nausea and at the very worst cases, convulsions, paralysis and death. What it`s doing is attacking the nervous system. It`s essentially shutting your body down. That`s what kills people, and why this is considered such a bad thing. But there is a trick to all of this: the trick is even if you had a massive rocket barrage of sarin gas, you wouldn`t necessarily know that that`s what happened, because even though it is lethal, it`s not long lasting, it disperses very quickly. So while investigators now think - think they have some evidence that the Assad regime used sarin gas on people there, they would have to work very hard to establish concrete proof.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Next today: new developments in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. Yesterday authorities announced that three additional suspects were in custody. They are friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect from last month terror bombings. The man in the gray hoodie is Tsarnaev. The two people to his left are Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev. They are from Kazakhstan. They came to the U.S. on student visas. The third new suspect is Robel Philippos. He is a U.S. citizen. These three aren`t suspects in the actual bombing. The charges they are facing suggest they are accused of helping the suspected bombers after the attack. And officials told CNN that the two Kazakhs are suspected of taking things from Tsarnaev`s dorm room and then throwing them in the dumpster. The third suspect has been charged with making false statements to law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Shivnen`s, Mrs. Hill`s and Mrs. Daman`s social studies classes at Romulus High School in Romulus, Michigan.

Which of these rivers is longest? You know what to do? Is it the Ganges, Mississippi, Euphrates or Thames? You`ve got three seconds, go!

The longest here is the Mississippi stretching around 2300 miles from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: When Chad Pregracke was a teenager, he had a job diving for shelves in the Mississippi. But he started noticing other things in the water like pianos, hot tubs, tractors, school buses. He decided to do something about this: the first year he pulled around 45,000 pounds of trash out of the river. 15 year later, his organization has removed more than 7 million pounds of debris, and that`s why he`s one of this year`s CNN heroes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHAD PREGRACKE, DEFENDING THE PLANET: 67,000 tires. 951 refrigerators. 233 stoves. It`s crazy what you find in the rivers.

I grew up around the Mississippi River. Around the age of 17, I really started to focus on the problem. 18 million people get their daily drinking water from the river. I`m thinking this shouldn`t be like this.

This stuff just collects here and it goes on for blocks like this. It`s a bad deal.

I said, you know what? If no one`s going to do anything about it, I will.

I`m Chad Pregracke with help of over 70,000 volunteers. We`ve removed over 7 million pounds of garbage from America`s rivers.

You guys ready?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

PREGRACKE: Yeah!

My primary focus is the Mississippi River.

You guys will be amazed, in two hours how much stuff we get.

In all, we`ve worked on 22 rivers in 18 states. We do everything in our power to get people excited about it, because at the end of the day it`s just you`re out there picking up garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you just find a basketball?

PREGRACKE: It`s yours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have it? OK.

PREGRACKE: It`s totally yours.

Little by little, we`re getting it.

But you`re having fun? Fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) pretty sure that I didn`t think I would be singing karaoke on the boat.

PREGRACKE: People want to see change and they`re stepping up to make change.

That was the last bag! Come on! Let`s get it out! Yeah!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PREGRACKE: This is a problem that people created. And a problem that people can fix.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This says, congratulations. We`re very pleased to inform you of your selection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: Kristen Cotton said she almost cried when she read that letter. It was for one of her students Torrean Johnson. It said he was given a full college scholarship from a program she`d nominated him for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TORREAN JOHNSON, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: For a second, I was completely just - that was utter joy. And then I looked up on my email and it turned out I didn`t really get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: It turned out the letter was a mistake. Someone who worked at the scholarship program`s office accidentally sent it to Torrean`s teacher and 275 other applicants. The Gates Millennium Scholar program has apologized, says it`s deeply embarrassed. Torrean is fourth in his class. He`s student body president and made it to the state jazz band competition. He`s getting other scholarship offers, but none as good as this one. Torrean says he`ll find another way to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor. He says he`ll learn from his disappointment and move on. He seems to be handling this well. But how would you react if something like it happen to you? That`s what we are talking about on our Facebook page. If you`re on Facebook, find us at Facebook.com/cnnstudentnews.

That`s where we asked about media coverage, specifically, how the media handled the Jason Collins story. Eleesa thinks, "It`s great how they handled it. People should be able to be themselves and not get judged, which is what the media shows."

From Tyler. "Tim Tebow: I`m a Christian. Media: Keep it to yourself. Jason Collins: I`m gay. Media: This man`s a hero."

Kendra believes, this shouldn`t be talked about at all, it`s none of our business, it`s his life.

Andrew says, "Big deal, he`s gay. Who cares?"

J`mya wrote, "In the next couple of years, this kind of news will be normal."

Caiti says, "Positive attention is good and could encourage others to come out as well, but too much attention could be unwanted for something as personal as sexual orientation."

Austin thought the coverage was good. "It makes me proud of my country to know that the media didn`t make a big deal about it."

And from Joshua: "The media goes for things that will make Americans reach for the tissues and other human interest stories, not things that will change the way they live."

Lastly today, the hiccups. You can get them after a big meal, you can get them after something exciting happens. Fortunately, they usually last just a few minutes. In rare cases, for months, in the cases of really bad timing, they can last throughout a live weather forecast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Talk about high pressure. There`s never a good time for hiccups, but this was a bad one.

DAVID PAUL, KHOU 11 NEWS METEOROLOGIST: ... showers and a couple of thunderstorms.

MOOS: When KHOU meteorologist David Paul started his forecast for the Houston area, he hoped it was just a passing hiccup.

PAUL: Once you get outside the Beltway - really, it`s highway 6 ...

MOOS: But the involuntary contractions of the diaphragm continued ...

PAUL: (inaudible) - excuse me. I have the hiccups, of course.

MOOS: David told us he`d been having bouts of hiccups all day, but usually they stop when the red light on the camera comes on.

PAUL: Having some redevelopment of thunderstorms right in here, excuse me.

It was the most helpless feeling I`ve ever had on live TV.

And had some rain shower developing as well.

I did put a storm tracker on this.

MOOS: What we need is a hiccup tracker.

In a forecast that lasted about three minutes.

PAUL: Look--

MOOS: We counted a total of 14 hiccups and seven excuse me`s.

Even a drink of water didn`t help.

PAUL: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MOOS: But at least he`s getting praised for soldiering through and maintaining his dignity, all those hiccups ...

PAUL: Are compared to ...

MOOS: Are nothing to sneeze at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (sneezing)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. That`s a first..

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: You expect to get some attention when you go in front of a camera, but for that meteorologist, hiccup runneth over.

I enjoyed meeting the students of White County (ph) who visited CNN yesterday. Hopes you all will be back here tomorrow.

END