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Political Crisis in Ukraine; Detroit Bankruptcy

Aired December 5, 2013 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz. And this is CNN STUDENT NEWS. Today, December, 5th, 2013, there is no such thing as the Soviet Union. When your parents were growing up, the USSR was huge. Literally, huge. When it existed from 1922 to 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was by area the world`s largest country. That was one nation made up of 15 Republics. And as the Soviet Union broke up, those republics all became independent countries. Ukraine was one of them. Right now it`s in the middle of the political crisis. Protesters are in the streets demanding change in their government.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not the first time, Ukrainians have occupied Independence Square, back in 2004, it was filled with people trying to overturn a presidential election result they didn`t trust. It became known as the Orange Revolution, and it was successful. It triggered (inaudible) not just here, but across Europe and the United States that this former Soviet Republic was firmly on the path to a democratic future. But then optimism didn`t last.

The man whose initial election victory was overturned by the Orange Revolution was this man, Viktor Yanukovych, but his opponents weren`t very effective while in power so in 2010 he made a striking political comeback, winning the presidential election. Since then, his critics say, he`s done little to fix the economy or corruption while using the courts to punish political rivals, most notable the former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko who`s in jail convicted of abusing power while in office. Yanukovych`s support base is largely in the east of Ukraine where people identify themselves more closely with Russia, both ethnically and culturally.

The people on the streets calling for Yanukovych to go are mostly from the center and west of the country, both to see themselves more distinctly as Ukrainian and European, they were deeply disappointed when Yanukovych announced he wouldn`t be signing agreements that would have locked Ukraine in step with the European Union. What these people want, a European standards in the economy, rule of law and politics. Many things that Ukraine is a long way behind the other Eastern European countries that were once dominated by the Soviet Union as well. They believe a European future will bring greater prosperity and democracy, modernize the country and ultimately improve everyone`s quality of life. Phil Black, CNN, Kiev.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? Detroit is the capital of Michigan? Not true. Lansing is the capital, but Detroit is the largest city in the state.

AZUZ: And it`s the largest city to file for bankruptcy. That`s when a person, company, or in this case a city doesn`t have enough money to pay its debts. The financial crisis hit Detroit and its auto industry hard. People moved away, businesses left town. It all added up to less money for the city`s government. By declaring bankruptcy, Detroit can restructure its budget. That could mean cuts for current and retired city employees.


JANET WATSON, RETIRED DETROIT PUBLIC LIBRARY EMPLOYEE: I did everything I could. I did my part of the bargain, and now this is their part of the bargain.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Promises made to city workers, now those promises can`t be kept, because Detroit is more than $18 billion in debt.

KEN PELTIER, FORMER DETROIT POLICE OFFICER: We paid a percentage of our wages every year into that, so it`s not something that`s being given to us. It`s our money.

HARLOW: Detroit emergency manger, Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy, and he`s proposed cutting the city`s debt by 83 percent. That will hit city workers and retirees.

(on camera): Is it likely that there is going to have to be some sort of concessions made?

KEVYN ORR, DETROIT: There are going to have to be some concessions because that`s just the reality.

HARLOW (voice over): Government officials say it`s gotten this bad: 78,000 abandoned buildings, 40 percent of the street lights don`t work, and average police response time is 58 minutes.

TINESHA FLOWERS, DETROIT RESIDENT: When you call the police now, you wonder if they are coming.

HARLOW: Michael Wells and Janet Watson worked for the Detroit public library for more than 30 years.

HARLOW (on camera): What do you think this bankruptcy means for you?

MICHAEL WELLS, RETIRED DETROIT PUBLIC LIBRARY EMPLOYEE: Well, I think it`s going to possibly mean a reduction in my monthly pension check.

WATSON: I believe at this point it would mean I would lose my home.

HARLOW (voice over): They are willing to take cuts if the city improves.

WELLS: If I`ve given up something, OK, and I now have a police department that responds on a 911 call, if I have EMS when I`m having an emergency. If the lights are turned on in the city, but if it`s simply to pay off the bond holders, all right, and the insurers and all of these other issues are still there, then not only has my city not improved, but I`ve gone down through as well.

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R ) MICHIGAN: What would happen if we didn`t declare bankruptcy? Detroit would continue to go downhill. And downhill to what point? So while people say this will probably be the lowest day in Detroit`s history, isn`t that a good thing instead of having a lower day tomorrow?

HARLOW: And now Detroit not only faces the stigma of bankruptcy, but also millions and millions in legal fees in order to exit bankruptcy. There is one thing that everyone hopes, and that is that there is a brighter future ahead for the Motor City. Poppy Harlow, CNN, Detroit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time for the "Shoutout." Chimpanzees are classified as which of these: if you think you know it then shout it out? Is it monkeys, lemurs, apes or tarsiers? You`ve got three seconds, go.

We`re not monkeying around when we tell you that chimpanzees are apes. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: So, chimpanzees are apes and they are primates. They are not people, but one group thinks chimps should have some of the same rights as people, and now that debate could be heading to court.

It may seem like an unusual statement that an animal should be recognized in some ways as a person.


STEVE WISE, PRESIDENT, NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT: They understand that they have choices that they can make in how they want to live their lives.

AZUZ: Steve Wise founded the non-human rights project. A group that says, based on scientific evidence, chimps deserve some of the same rights, as humans.

WISE: We want to show that the chimpanzees also have autonomy, and that means that they can -- they can choose to live their lives in the way that they want, similar to the way that we can choose live our lives the way we want.

AZUZ: In a landmark lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Courty, they want civil liberties for chimps held in captivity.

LONI COOMBS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: They are using a time tested legal maneuver called habeas corpus, which is essentially means free the body. And it`s been used throughout the years to free people from what`s been considered an unjust incarceration. Essentially under the law, a legal person doesn`t have to be a human being.

AZUZ: The suit was brought on behalf of four chimpanzees being held in the state of New York. One of the chimps is 26 year old Tommy, who lives caged in his owner`s property in Gloversville.

WISE: No chimpanzee should live the way Tommy lives. He is essentially in a chimpanzee solitary confinement jail. All he can see is one bleak day after another in front of him, just the way we would if we were in solitary confinement. AZUZ: The 91-page memorandum filed by the NHRP refers to Tommy as a "person" illegally imprisoned demanding he and the others be relocated to sanctuaries and says, "this court must recognize that Tommy is a common law person entitled to the common law right to bodily liberty."

WISE: We intend to file a wide variety of case, in which we argue again and again that certain not human animals, at least, such as Tommy are so cognitively complex or so autonomous that they should no longer be seen as legal (ph) things without any rights.


AZUZ: Tommy`s owner has told reporters that Tommy is one of many chimps he`s rescued from abusive or neglectful homes. He says he cares for the apes until they can be moved to sanctuaries. The owner also says, Tommy`s cage opens to an outdoor area. It`s inspected regularly and meets state and federal standards.

Mascots in today`s "Roll Call" are awesome, and they could all come straight out of history books. They are Vandals, they are from McCall- Donnelly High School in McCall, Idaho. The Saxons in Spokane, Washington, these Saxons represent Ferris High, same Ferris. And the Vikings from Central Cabarrus High in Concord, North Carolina.

You think that a thief would want to avoid being caught on camera. Apparently, that message hasn`t made it to nature. Because when an eagle absconded with this video camera in Australia, it had no reservations about getting some face time, talk about a bird`s eye view, you all. Listen, I know selfie was named the word of the year, but this might be taking it a bit far: it doesn`t seem like the most sophisticated plan. Whoever came up with it, might have been a real bird brain, but besides, if he gets away with this stunt -- there is just no talon what it will try next. We`ll be beat tomorrow to wrap up the week -- have a great day.