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Syria Suspected of Using Chemical Weapons; Remembering the March on Washington

Aired August 28, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: A red line - what is it, has it been crossed and what might that mean as far as the U.S. government is concerned. The red line we are talking about today involves Syria.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.


AZUZ: President Obama said that last August. A recent attack that reportedly killed more than 1300 people is suspected of having crossed the president`s red line. Many governments and organizations consider chemical weapons worse than conventional weapons like bombs or guns. The United Nations describes chemical weapons as a crime against humanity. Although some analysts say the impact of conventional weapons are just as awful for victims. The idea of a red line is that once it`s been crossed, the person or country that`s set it could take action. Chris Lawrence examines what steps the U.S. could take next.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Within days, President Obama`s national security team will present him with its final detailed options, and the administration is already making the case for taking action against Syria.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world`s most heinous weapons against the world`s most vulnerable people.

LAWRENCE: Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Assad regime of gassing its own people. IF the president gives the order, a senior defense official says, four Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea could execute a mission within hours. U.S. and British submarines are also likely nearby, all armed with cruise missiles.

The extremely accurate Tomahawks can be fired from 500 miles away, with an ability to change course in midflight.

The potential targets include the delivery systems that can be used to launch weapons. Militia training camps being run by Bashar al-Assad. And most importantly, the Syrian government`s command and control centers.


LAWRENCE: The options are not designed to overthrow Assad`s government, but send a message and deter any further use of chemical weapons, President Obama`s red line.

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: In any time you throw down a diplomatic gauntlet, you words have repercussions.

LAWRENCE: The president is under some pressure to back up his own ultimatum. And while the U.S. is consulting with allies, officials say, it may not need a formal coalition to execute the response.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


AZUZ: On our blog today, we`re taking an informal quick poll: we`d like to hear what you think. Should the U.S. take military action in Syria? You have to be at least 13 years old to comment, the blog is available at

Chicago started a new school year this week, and for more than 12,000 students there, it means going to a new building. That`s because the school district closed nearly 50 public schools. It`s understandable to be a little nervous when you`re switching to a new school, but for some students and their families, just getting too school can be a reason for concern, especially if you are not riding one of the buses.

Some Chicago students have to walk an extra six or seven blocks to get to their new schools. The concern is that they have to cross gang territory to get their safely. Some of you might have to deal with the idea of facing potential danger just to get to school. Chicago`s plan to address its issue is called "safe passage." Dozens or routes were set up for these students with more than 1,000 adults there, helping escort them to school. On Sunday, the day before school started, a 14-year old was shot and killed near one of the safe passage routes. It`s at least the third fatal shooting on or near the routes since August.

Turning to some other U.S. stories now. In different ways, people are dealing with the elements. First, is the rim fire in California`s Yosemite National Park. We`ve been reporting on this. As of yesterday, it was around 20 percent contained, but dry conditions and hot weather were helping spread the flames and they are threatening a lot more than the park. The Hetch Hetchy reservoir is a key part of San Francisco`s water supply. Their concerns, that ash from the fire could contaminate that water. Yesterday, officials said the water quality was still stable, the wire fire, though, is also threatening hydroelectric generators there. They use water to produce power for San Francisco. Right now, authorities have shot those generators down. To the east of there several U.S. states are struggling through a hit wave because of an unusually strong high pressure system. Temperatures are up to 20 degrees above normal. For example, in Minneapolis on Monday, the high was 97 degrees. Normal high is 79. So that`s significant. It`s effecting schools and students, too. Some districts canceled after school activities. Others closed schools that don`t have air conditioning. Forecast predicts the heat wave could last until the end of the week.

And down on the Florida Keys, officials are using a new idea to fight against swarms of mosquitoes. Drones. Unmanned aircraft and they`re sometimes controversial. These vehicles can get a good look at areas from above. In this case, in areas that are mosquito-breeding grounds. The plan right now is just to find the mosquitoes, not to spray them.


REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: All of us, it doesn`t matter whether we`re black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, it does not matter whether we are straight or gay, we are one people, we are one family, we are one house, we all live in the same house. Back in 1963, we haven`t heard of the Internet, we didn`t have cellular telephones, iPad, iPhones, but we used what we had to bring about a nonviolent revolution. And I said to all of the young people, you must get out there and push, and pull, and make America what America should be, for all of us.


AZUZ: Congressman John Lewis made that speech on Saturday, during an event that paid tribute to the march on Washington. Today is the official 50th anniversary of the march, and many events are commemorating a historic moment in the U.S. civil rights movement. We are diving into the history of the march in our segment called "5 Things To Know."

Here are five things to know about the march on Washington, which happened on August 28, 1963. No. 1, it wasn`t actually called the March on Washington. The full name of the event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The goal was to focus attention on African-Americans` demands for equality and jobs and civil rights.

No. 2, the event was huge. More than 200,000 people took part in the mile-long march down the National Mall. More than 5,000 law enforcement officers were there, too. But there were no reports of any incidents with marchers.

No. 3, during the march, there was a meeting happening at the White House. President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson and other officials met with 10 civil rights leaders, including many of the march on Washington speakers.

No. 4, the speech. During the event, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I have a dream" speech. He talked about his hope for a world where his children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And No. 5, Dr. King wasn`t the only speaker that day. Several civil rights leaders took to the microphone. The youngest was student leader John Lewis. Since 1987, he`s been Congressman Lewis, serving the state of Georgia, and now he is the last surviving speaker from that defining moment in American history.

And I know just what you`re thinking, that we are running out of different ways to introduce the CNN STUDENT NEWS roll call, right? Wrong. In fact, today we`ve got an ace up our sleeve, a whole school of them. The Mount Carmel Aces from Mount Carmel, Illinois. Thanks for watching, y`all.

Today`s roll call features some bulldogs, too, specifically the Bulldogs of Piedmont High in Piedmont, Alabama. And this roll call gets some horse power from the Millard North Mustangs in Omaha, Nebraska.

If you`re going fishing, but instead of a rod and reel or a fly line, or a boat, you prefer to use your bare hands, you`re going noodling. And don`t think this is just for episodes of "Swamp People." Anyone where this is legal, and it`s not legal everywhere, can learn to put a hand in a catfish hole, wait for the fish to bite it, and then drag it up. 19-year- old cheerleader from Texas recently hauled up a winner, a 72-pound monster that won her this year`s Okie Noodling Tournament. The one she gets here is 40 something pounds. She says noodling beats fishing any day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s more interesting. It`s more fun. You know, there`s nothing like sitting in a boat and being board waiting on a fish. Why not go to the fish?


AZUZ: Well, it`s a question as old as time itself. What happens when cats get into a staring contest? Luckily, someone shot this YouTube video to give us the answer. The feline face-off seems friendly at first, but if one of them says the wrong thing, that is when the fur might really fly. Like this.

These kitty contests are more vicious when they are out in the open, but safer when they are in the claws-et. Either way, they never last long. You know how staring contests go - blink and you`ll miss it. I`m feline pretty good about that one, but it`s time for us to paws. We`ll be back tomorrow with more CNN STUDENT NEWS.