(CNN Student News) -- October 5, 2007
Miners Rescued - Learn the fate of 3,200 miners who were trapped underground in South Africa.
A Symbol of Hate - Examine some recent racially charged incidents at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
License to Drive - Hear both sides of a driver's license debate taking place in New York State.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Friday and we're wrapping up the week here on CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. W're gonna kick things off today with a quick quiz on a precious metal.
AZUZ: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Hudgins' History classes at Opelika Middle School in Opelika, Alabama! Which of these countries produces the most gold? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Brazil, B) China, C) Norway or D) South Africa? You've got three seconds -- GO! In terms of gold exports, South Africa is on top of the world. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: But before that gold can be exported, someone has to go into a mine and get it. This can be a pretty dangerous job sometimes, like earlier this week in South Africa, when 3,200 miners were trapped underground. Thankfully, today, we can report that every single one of them is out of the mine and safe. Robyn Curnow has more on the rescue, and looks at some some of the safety concerns around South Africa's mining industry.
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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN REPORTER: Leaping out from the darkness; just some of the thousands of miners rescued from this South African gold mine. For these men, this was their first breath of fresh air and glimpse of sunshine in more than a day. For others, a hug and the promise that life will be the same again.
HUSBAND: Yes, I am happy to see my wife, because underground is difficult. And it is not alright underground, staying underground.
CURNOW: Over two hundred female miners were among those trapped more than a mile underground.
GRANNY MAKAU, MINER: It was terrible. Because we were thinking we were going to die, but I'm happy because we are out and everything is okay.
CURNOW: On Wednesday morning, down deep underground in a working environment similar to this, a burst pipe triggered an electrical failure and damaged an elevator cage, stranding all the miners underground, their main exit blocked.
PETER BAILEY, NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS: It was fortunate that none of the workers were in immediate vicinity of the cage, otherwise we could have had one of the largest mining disasters in South Africa.
CURNOW: But the number of deaths on South African mines is already high; 200 died last year on the job.
GRAHAM BRIGGS, ACTING CEO, HARMONY GOLD: We are not proud of those statistics at all. At Harmony, we have improved over the last few years, but we need to keep working at it, keep improving.
CURNOW: This shaft is normally used to bring up rocks from deep underground. Today, this lift was turned into a makeshift escape route, slowly hoisting up miners, 75 at a time. South Africa is the world's largest gold producer, and the precious metal is also a vital source of revenue for this country. But many warn here, including the mining minister, of the dangers to these men of over a century of mining in this region. There's aging infrastructure and need to go ever deeper and deeper underground. For these fortunate men, a song of celebration for having survived another day in a dangerous job. Robyn Curnow, CNN, Carltonville, South Africa.
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AZUZ: Moving right along now: Cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy pledge to follow an Honor Concept, and part of that includes the promise to deal with other people with "total honesty and integrity." But a racially charged symbol has found its way into the academy in two recent incidents. And as Kyra Phillips explains, the effects are being felt across the entire Coast Guard.
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KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN REPORTER: In July, a black Coast Guard cadet finds a noose stuffed in his personal belongings while at sea onboard the training ship Eagle.
SCOTT BURHOE, COAST GUARD ACADEMY REAR ADM.: He really was hurt as a result of it and was very concerned.
PHILLIPS: So far, investigations have not found who was responsible. Fast forward to two weeks later; the Coast Guard Academy's civil rights officer prepares race relations training for cadets headed for that same ship. She finds a noose in her office. The Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, says those responsible will be held accountable. In a letter to the entire Coast Guard he says, "This type of racist conduct runs counter to our core values and will not be tolerated." Those core values include honor, devotion to duty and respect. The chairman of the congressional subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard is also speaking out.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D-MARYLAND): These are going to be our future leaders. The last thing you want are your leaders not being tolerant. And that is one of the reasons why I wanted the very head of the Coast Guard to go up there and make it clear we will not tolerate these kinds of things.
PHILLIPS: Kyra Phillips, CNN, Atlanta.
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AZUZ: We know this story is likely to spark a discussion in your classroom. So, we've posted some questions on our blog to help guide it. For example, do you think the Coast Guard's response to these incidents is appropriate? And what do you think should happen to the people who are responsible if they're caught? Leave us a comment on our blog and tell us what your class has to say.
Shoutout Extra Credit
AZUZ: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit! What's the capital of New York? Is it: A) Syracuse, B) Ithaca, C) New York City or D) Albany? Here we go! The capital of the Empire State isn't New York City -- it's actually Albany! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout Extra Credit!
AZUZ: Pass a couple tests. Do some work on your own. Go to class. Pass another test. Sounds like a normal day at school, but it's actually what you have to do to get a driver's license in New York. As Bill Tucker explains, some people in the Empire State want to put the brakes on a plan about who can get a license.
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BILL TUCKER, CNN REPORTER: The hearing in New York city began with a simple point.
JAMES TEDISCO, (R) STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, NEW YORK: They are illegal aliens in New York State; they are breaking the law. Now, rewarding that, I don't know if that is an incentive to continue to become a citizen, and I don't think it makes us safer.
TUCKER: It was a point that many of the witnesses kept coming back to.
MIKE CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: And again, I will go back to this point: Illegal aliens don't even have the right to be here. Why should we then provide them with opportunities to conduct business as usual, if we are trying to deter illegal immigration?
TUCKER: The determined use of the word "illegal" by Governor Spitzer's opponents was no accident. The governor avoids the word. He repeatedly insists that he wants to grant driver's licenses to immigrants. Mariann Davies represents a Hispanic coalition opposed to illegal immigration. She finds the lack of distinction insulting.
MARIANN DAVIES, YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ME: We are talking about illegal aliens. Illegal aliens are those foreign nationals who are not here under the color of law. They either came without permission or overstayed their visa. And yes, I find that offensive. This is not for immigrants; this is for illegal aliens.
TUCKER: Supporters of Governor Spitzer argue that the plan simply recognizes the reality that illegal aliens are already on the roads and driving without licenses.
DONNA LIEBERMAN, NYCLU: This is a plan to allow anybody who lives in New York to drive legally, as long as they know how to drive and can provide proof of their identity.
TUCKER: No one knows what documents Spitzer will allow undocumented immigrants to use to obtain a driver's license. A valid foreign passport is a likely one. Matricula consulares cards issued by the Mexican consulate is perhaps another; a card critics charge is easily counterfeited, like this one made for Governor Spitzer especially for the occasion. Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.
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Planet in Peril
AZUZ: Earlier this week, we talked about the destruction of the world's natural forests and the potentially devastating effects of deforestation. It's one of the topics covered in CNN's Planet in Peril. The worldwide investigation looks at some of the key environmental issues facing the Earth, and it premieres later this month.
ANDERSON COOPER: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper. To bring you this special documentary, we've gone around the world to see some of the environmental changes taking place on our planet right now! You can get a sneak peek at CNN.com/PlanetinPeril. And we've got a little homework assignment for you: After you watch the previews at the Web site, we want to know what you think and what questions these stories are sparking for you. You can ask me just about anything, maybe about what it was like to fly above a Brazilian rainforest or land on an ice sheet off the coast of Greenland. I'll answer you the best I can and, hopefully, give you a behind-the-scenes look at making Planet in Peril. E-mail or, better yet, send in a video I-Report of you asking your question. You can do all that at CNNStudentNews.com. All the links you need are available on the main page.
Before We Go
AZUZ: All right, now we've cooked up something mighty tasty for today's before we go. Expand your eyes and steel your stomachs, folks. These gastronomically gutsy gamesmen are gorging their gullets on grits! Competitors at the first world grits eating championship barreled through an amorphous abundance of the buttery breakfast food. It might not look pretty going down, but at least it went down quickly. The winner raced through 21 pounds -- 21 pounds! That's more than a dog weighs -- 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes, walking away with $4,000...
AZUZ: ...and what we can only assume was a very full stomach. That's gonna wrap up this week of CNN Student News. We hope you have a great weekend, everybody. I'm Carl Azuz. E-mail to a friend