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Growing Scandal at the VA Administration; Swarm Robots Inspired by Termites; Harboring Hearts Supporting Families of Heart Patients in New York

Aired May 30, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome. And this is our penultimate Friday of the school year. We`ll be back next week. First up today on CNN STUDENT NEWS, a Veterans Affairs scandal gets bigger. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has the job of giving medical care and government benefits to people who`ve served in the military. It has a network of hospitals nationwide, dozens of them are under investigation. The problem, veterans have had to wait, sometimes indefinitely, to see a doctor when they needed to. At a VA hospital of Arizona, source told CNN that around 40 patients died waiting. A report released this week found that 1700 veterans waiting to see a doctor, didn`t get an appointment, and they were never put on a waiting list. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki calls the report reprehensible and says he`s waiting to set things right. But the Obama administration is taking heat over this. Republicans and Democrats are calling for Shinseki to resign.

Athletes, coaches and doctors were in Washington D.C. yesterday. President Obama was holding the first White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit. He was introduced by a teenage soccer star whose multiple concussions eventually took a tall on her athletic and academic performance. So, the goal of the summit is to find new ways to figure out how serious head injuries are, when they happen and how to treat them more effectively in the days ahead.

The president said that sports are vital to the country, that they are fundamental to American culture. But because, he says, there are no solid numbers on how often concussions happen in football and other contact sports, better research, better equipment and better methods of addressing head injuries are needed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the "Shoutout." If you were to spend one dollar every second, how long would it take you to spend one billion dollars?

You know what to do. Is it 29 days, seven months, seven years or 32 years? You`ve got three seconds, go. At the rate of a dollar a second, it would take you about 21 years to spend a billion. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: Kind of gives you some perspective on our next story. It involves $3 billion and two brands you know. Apple and Beats. Computer Company Apple announced yesterday, it is buying Beats. The price is $3 billion. For that, Apple will get headphones, the speakers, the technology. It will also get the Beats music streaming service, which has about 500,000 customers. That`s not much when you compare it to, say, Pandora, which has 250 million. And the Apple Company has enough money to buy dozens of Pandoras. But Apple CEO says this deal with Beats will help his company make the world`s most innovative music products and services. Beats co- founder Dr. Dre is calling himself the first billionaire in hip hop. He and Jimmy Iovine who also founded Beats will be going to work for Apple.

All right, think for a moment of some of the world`s wonders. The great pyramid of Egypt, the Great Wall of China. These weren`t built by one person. It took teams of people working overtime to get these projects started in the ancient world. Same idea behind swarm robots today. It`s not one machine capable of doing all things. By working together, they are a little more like we are.


KIRSTIN PETERSEN, GRADUATE STUDENT, WYSS INSTITUTE: I mean it`s easy to say why I like (INAUDIBLE). I work with robots. It`s always fun to come in and play around.

DR. JUSTIN WEFFEL, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, WYSS INSTITUTE: So typically when you think of robotics, you think of one humanlike complicated robot. The swarm robotics is the kind of robotics that uses large numbers of simple robots rather than one or small number of sophisticated ones. So, we envision systems like this, some maybe in new roles (ph) and sightings where we want construction done, but we don`t want people to be the ones to do it.

You know, if you want to build underwater, if you want to build like marine research stations (INAUDIBLE) platforms, if you want to build another planets. That`s obviously decades away. Systems like this, I think in the shorter term could be used for things like building levies of sandbags for flood protection and be able to keep the humans who otherwise have to do their work at a harm`s way.

If something happens to some of the robots, if something gets swept away by rising waters, none of the others nearly could take notice. They don`t have to do anything to (INAUDIBLE).

So we were inspired by termites, not the ones around here that destroy buildings, but the ones on other continents that build.

Termites can build mountains more than 40 feet tall.

PETERSEN: The beautiful thing about the termites, right, is that there is really no central front of coordination, it`s not like the green is sitting there telling every one of whom what to do. They sort of react to their local environment and try to figure out what to do in just a net situation. And so we`re trying to do the same with the robots. Beautiful thing about (INAUDIBLE) was actually they don`t have to talk together, there is no central point of coordination. The way they do communicate is through the environment, right. So, if a place a block here, that will make someone in the future come by and notice that that block (INAUDIBL) there and then it`s going to react to that. We are not intending to replace humans, we intending to work in settings where humans can`t work.


AZUZ: I like state nicknames. Those of today`s "Roll Call" schools are the Jam state and the Lone Star state and the Wolverine state. The Jam state is Idaho. The capital is Boise and the school on today`s roll is Boise High School. Go Braves! Everything`s bigger in Texas. It might explain why so many schools there watch our show, including Wilkinson Middle School. Hello to the wild cats in mesquite. And in the Wolverine state of Michigan, Anchor Bay High School is watching in Fair Haven, shoutout to the tars.

We often talk about how driving accidents are a leading cause of death for American teenagers. But if you look at Americans as a whole, the number one killer is heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in every four deaths is because of heart disease. It`s a physical burden, an emotional burden. It can be a financial one. That`s what inspired of CNN Hero to help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been sick for my whole life. I can`t do what most people can do. I can`t go on sleepovers. I can`t play football.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Brandon. You`ll be all right, OK?

Brandon was five weeks old when he got his heart transplant. I`ve been dealing with Brandon heart disease since he is born.

MICHELLE JAVIAN, CNN HERO: Heart disease is the number one killer in America. It can happen in a second and it uproots your life entirely.


JAVIAN: A lot of families travel to New York City for top cardiac care. However, New York City is also one of the most expensive places to live and stay.

My father passed away after battling heart disease for nearly two years. While we were at the hospital, we met countless families that didn`t have a place to stay. They were emotionally drained and financially not in the best situation.

How are you guys doing and feeling, and .

So I cofounded Harboring Hearts. Our organization helps families with emotional and financial support and any other types of emergency needs.

(on camera): Did you get the gift cards and everything?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brandon needs to have biopsy every few months. Without foundation, we would be able to be close to the hospital because my economical situation.

I want to really thank you (INAUDIBLE) in the time we really need it.

JAVIAN: After my father passed away, I wanted to do something positive and bring happiness and relief and support to the families who need it.


AZUZ: Mr. Gee is a goat who is rescued from someone who wasn`t taking care of him. But he wasn`t happy in his new home at an animal sanctuary. He refused to eat, seem depressed, was just moping around. Then animal control found out he was raised with the burro who`d become his best friend and they`ve gotten separated during the rescue. So, Mr. Gee`s caretakers located the burro, reunited the two and both are living happily ever after.

It seems the burro was donkey (ph) to Mr. Gee`s happiness. Neither was sheepish about the reunion, and as far as the burro`s concerned, well, she got a goat. Not a bad way to go into the weekend. And now we`ve got to hope it, we hope you`ll make a room in it for more CNN STUDENT NEWS on Monday.