Return to Transcripts main page


U.N. Representative Describes Situation in Syria as Most Serious Crisis Facing International Community; Fort Hood Shooter to Get Death Penalty

Aired August 29, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: A representative from the United Nations describes the situation in Syria as the most serious crisis facing the international community. U.N. inspectors are in Syria. They are working to figure out if chemical weapons have been used in the country. The U.N. describes chemical weapons use as outrageous and unacceptable. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, considers chemical weapons a threat to international peace. Tom Foreman explains the impact of one of these kinds of weapons.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sarin can be launched in an artillery shell or a missile. It can be dropped from an airplane. It goes out as a liquid, but as it spreads out, it very quickly and easily turns into a gas. Now, we showed it there, but the truth is, it is colorless, it is odorless. You would have no idea you were even being attacked by it, even though it`s much more lethal than cyanide. What does it do to people? Well it can cause blurred vision, rapid breathing, heavy sweats, confusion, headaches, in the worst case it`s nausea, convulsions, paralysis and as it shuts down the ability of the body to breathe, even death, and in the worst cases that can come very, very quickly -- perhaps within even one minute.


AZUZ: U.S. and other countries are considering whether to take action against Syria. On Tuesday, the White House said President Obama was reviewing his options, but had not decided anything at that time. One option could be a military strike. U.S. warships, like you see in this animation, are in the Mediterranean Sea. Military officials say they are ready, if the president gives an order to strike.

Most of you who participated in the quick poll in our blog, think the U.S. should not take military action in Syria. Here`s where the latest numbers were last night: 59 percent said the U.S. should not strike. 36 percent said it should. Five percent were undecided.

Cathy says "We have nothing to do with what`s going on there, and we shouldn`t get involved, even if chemical weapons were involved."

Mike writes that "While there are many tragic situations in the world, I question if the USA should always feel like it must step up and lead a response."

Trent says, "Chemical weapons are serious, and in that region of the world they cannot be ignored. The U.S. has a responsibility to exert influence in this situation."

From Anthony and Nick, "We don`t need to jump into another war right now. We need to focus on our own problems."

Noah and Lailanie say "The U.S. should take action. Syria`s civil war could get way out of hand soon, and we need to control it before it does."

And from Georgia, "Let`s forget about violence and work on the economy. We`ve got enough on our plate."

U.S. military jury says Major Nidal Hasan should be put to death. That verdict yesterday comes nearly four years after a shooting at a U.S. Army base. 13 people were killed in the attack at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009. 32 others were wounded. Hasan was convicted of murder and attempted murder charges for all of those victims. Hasan served as his own attorney in the trial and refused to offer much of a defense or any closing arguments in the sentencing phase. The jury`s recommendation of the death penalty goes to an Army general to be reviewed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time for the "Shoutout." On the periodic table, what does an element`s atomic number represent? If you think you know it, then shout it out. Is it the number of protons, electrons, neutrons, or protons and neutrons? You`ve got three seconds, go!

An element`s atomic number ifs the number of protons in its nucleus. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: When setting the periodic table, leave room for an extra element. Researchers in Sweden say they`ve made one by slamming together the atoms of calcium and emeritium. And it`s a beast. Its atomic number is 115, much heavier than lead or uranium. It`s temporary name is Ununpentium, much harder to say than lead or uranium. But you can`t see it. Right after the atoms collided, the element disappeared in the flash of radiation. You can`t find it. It doesn`t exist in nature. Swedish scientists can`t say they invented it, Russian researchers first made this element in 2004, and you can`t really do anything with it. They say its` just not practical. Some folks might be elementally confused about why we should care at all? Well, researchers say it did confirm that the 2004 study created the new element, even for just a moment. Scientists hope that one day, experiments like this could lead to the lasting creation of a new usable element. And if Ununpentium is approved by a committee combining members of the International Union on Pure and Applied Chemistry, and the International Union on Pure and Applied Physics, say that three times fast, it could change the periodic table as we know it. Like everything on that chart. It`s elementary.

OK. Next, story today. On this day, August 29th back in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The storm`s impact was massive. More than 1800 people were killed, most of them in Louisiana. In New Orleans, some levees, these barriers designed to prevent flooding, failed. 80 percent of the city ended up under water. Total damage estimate for Katrina more than $100 billion. When it hit land, it was a category three hurricane, with winds around 127 miles per hour.

Not the strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S. But FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, considers Katrina the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.

People gathered in the nation`s capital yesterday to commemorate the 1963 march on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the march "the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation." This is what the space between the Lincoln and Washington memorials looked like 50 years ago. And this is what it looked like yesterday -- crowds gathered to hear from political leaders, celebrities, and the family of famous civil rights leaders. Leaders like Dr. King. The march on Washington was where he gave his famous speech about his dream for an America free of racial discrimination. That speech ended with Dr. King`s call "Let freedom ring from every corner of the country."

Yesterday, Dr. King`s family symbolically carried out that call and President Obama talked about the legacy and impact of the civil rights movement.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Because they marched, America became more free and more fair. Not just for African- Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans. For Catholics, Jews and Muslims. For gays, for Americans with disabilities. America changed for you and for me. And the entire world drew strength from that example.

ROWLAND SCHERMAN, PHOTOGRAPHER: I was out there covering this giant event. Kid cub reporter, with the couple of cameras photographing the whole thing. I was the official government photographer. I couldn`t be denied access to any part of it. I was sort of like a free (inaudible)

You can see the access I had, the proximity I had. It looks like they are in their backyard singing folk songs to each other just for fun, but as hundreds of thousands of people gather around and listening to them.

I`m really so happy with this picture -- it shows all the emotion that`s gone through this man`s face. He was the guy who created the march on Washington. This picture shows a spirit of it. Another face in the crowd, such as happens to be caught at the right moment.

And I saw this earnest face, she`s really a beautiful young girl, and she was so intense. I wasn`t the only one to be struck by it. She has become like the face of the march on Washington.

I wanted to show the people who couldn`t be there the greatness of it, the majesty of it, the scope of it. Close ups and long shots and all of faces in the crowd and not only the superstars, but the people themselves.

I was just a kid, I was just starting out. This was like, what if, you know, you`re a freelancer, and this is your first job, what if your first job is like the biggest event that`s even happened in your lifetime.


AZUZ: Football season is here. What does it have to do with today`s roll call? One of our schools is finally (inaudible) to football season. The Switzerland County Pacers from Vevay, Indiana has their first football team ever. Good luck, guys.

Hopping across the state line, we`re going to Ashville, Ohio, home of the Teays Valley Vikings. And we round out the roll call with the nights from Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Florida.

Every year the streets in the city of Bunol, Spain, run red with tomato juice. Annual Tomatina festival, which celebrates the summer tomato harvest, also looks like a good excuse to get messy. Thousands of visitors drop up there every year to participate in the prodigious produced opening party. That`s a mouthful. And so, the 130 tons of tomatoes used during the festival. If that`s someone`s idea of how to paint the town red, then it`s vine by us. Once all these tomatoes are gone, the whole thing may seem fruitless. That will eat up all the time we have for today. We`re going to catch-up with you again tomorrow for more CNN STUDENT NEWS.