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CNN 10 - April 5, 2018

CNN 10

A Potential Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Syria; A Strike by French Rail Workers; The Indomitable Spirit of Positive Athlete McClain Hermes

Aired April 5, 2018 - 04:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Your objective explanation of world news starts right now. This is CNN 10 and I`m Carl Azuz. I`ll be your host for these 10 minutes.

U.S. President Donald Trump is talking about withdrawing American troops from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation of Syria. The Pentagon has said there are around 2,000 U.S. troops there. Their main mission has been to fight the ISIS terrorist group, which used to control a large amount of territory in Syria.

But according to "The New York Times", a coalition of military forces led by the U.S. has taken back 97 percent of the areas that ISIS once held.

And U.S. President Donald Trump recently said that the American troops there should leave soon. He`s told his advisers to start planning to bring them home, but a date for a U.S. withdrawal hasn`t been set. There`s still some ISIS militants in Syria, and President Trump`s military advisors say the U.S. troops who are there will need to stay for the immediate future.

Some analysts say that if the American forces leave too soon, the country will fall under the influence of Iran and Russia who`ve supported Syria`s current government.

The White House says it`s still committed to getting rid of whatever ISIS pockets remain first.

As far as the future of the war-torn country goes, President Trump says the cost of stabilizing Syria will have to be covered by other countries in the region.

We talked a lot recently about a destructive battle between Syrian government forces and a rebel group in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

That fight looks like it`s winding down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We`re at the final entry checkpoint to Douma, which is the last rebel enclave on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. Now, what we`ve been seeing here is several buses with what we believe to be rebel fighters exiting this area. Now, most of those fighters in the past couple of days have been bused to other locations, mostly in the north of Syria. The groups that we saw we`re not sure which rebel group they were from and also, we`re not sure where they were being taken.

But in the past couple of weeks, the rebels have lost a considerable amount of territory here on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. They used to hold a gigantic area, but after extremely heavy fighting, tens of thousands of civilians fled this area and then also thousands of fighters were bused out as well. Now with the rebels only holding one small enclave, many believe that a deal would be reached soon for those rebels to go out as well. So far, it`s unclear when exactly that`s going to happen.

But there do seem to be people here in Damascus who think it will be very soon. In fact, we spoke to people who came here to this checkpoint and said that they had relatives who were kidnapped by the rebels, some of them for years, whom they hope will come out soon.

Here`s what one woman said.

I depend on God, she says. This is my only hope. I will wait here as long as it takes for my father to come out.

Now, the deal to try and get the last rebel group here in this part of Damascus called Jaysh Islam to give up, is being negotiated mostly by the Russians and it certainly seems as though the government of Syria believes that deal will happen soon. In fact, there are already dozens of buses waiting here outside of Douma district ready to take those fighters to the north of Syria, which is essentially would mean that the rebels would no longer hold any sort of significant territory in or outside the Syrian capital.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Eastern Ghouta, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: From the Middle East, we`re taking you to the European country of France, where a strike is causing severe disruptions in the nation`s train services. France`s state-owned rail company says about 87 percent of its high speed trains and 80 percent of its regional rail services were cancelled Tuesday. There were no trains operating to Switzerland, Spain or Italy.

This is a rolling strike. Workers plan to walk out two days a time for a total of 18 walkouts before the end of June. They`re protesting changes to the country`s labor laws that were proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Making changes was one of his campaign promises. But while many French business leaders and economists support his plans, many unions oppose them.

France`s rail company is $56 billion in debt, according to the "Reuters" news agency. President Macron wants to turn it into a profit-making business. But employees are concerned that if that happens, they could lose job security, annual pay raises and the right to early retirement.

And union bosses say that making France`s railways more competitive could mean higher ticket prices.

In previous standoffs between unions and French presidents, the unions have prevailed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUBTITLE: French rail workers have kicked off a three-month long strike.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every time there`s a strike here, I got the impression that people around the world are saying, why don`t the French just stop whining and get on with the work?

Reforming the economy here closely follows Newton`s first law of motion, inertia. At the root of it, I think the French are very conservative in the classic sense. They view change with suspicion at best and hostility at worst.

And there`s the concept of Droits Acquis, acquired rights. It`s a concept that is deeply ingrained in French society. It`s the feeling that rights once acquired should never ever be abandoned.

Despite appearances to the contrary, French unions by the members are not all that strong.

SUBTITLE: Only around 11 percent of French workers are unionized. That`s roughly the same as the U.S. The difference between France and other countries, though, is that unionized workers are found in very critical areas, transportation, energy production and a like. If they decide to go on strike, it can cause a lot of pain very quickly.

BITTERMANN: There are dozens of other attitudes which can be changed from the longstanding mistrust between employers and employees, through the traditional belief that every gain for the boss is a loss for the workers. In fact, it`s a kind of thing that rightly or wrongly can leave the impression that France is a difficult place to do business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

Which of these sports venues is about 50 meters long?

NBA basketball court, Olympic swimming pool, NFL football field, or NHL ice hockey rink?

Of these options, only the Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: And we are diving into one for our next story. It`s part of our ongoing series of positive athletes. These are student athletes from around the U.S. who`ve made some extraordinary accomplishments or just having extraordinarily positive attitude. If that sounds like someone you know, please send in a nomination at CNN.com/positiveathlete.

A great example of one is a swimmer from Georgia named McClain Hermes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCLAIN HERMES, SWIMMER: In the water, you can`t really look at me and tell that I`m blind. So, it`s nice just to be free and to be able to compete against other people.

MATT HERMES, MCCLAIN`S DAD: She`s actually taken kind of what I call a victim mentality of what someone could be into kind of a victor. She hasn`t let it stop her.

MCCLAIN HERMES: I can`t see a lot of my right eye and I can see through like a coffee stirrer or straw. It`s about this big. They`re little, itty bitty hole in my left eye.

Tell me what`s on the 30.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go.

MCCLAIN HERMES: I was selected as the youngest Team USA athlete to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

MATT HERMES: To be able to say, you know what? That little one right there, she`s ours. Even just thinking about it now, it kind of gives me chills.

MCCLAIN HERMES: I hope to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo and medal there.

MATT HERMES: I have a lot of pride with McClain and her swimming accomplishments. I`m just as proud of her with what she`s done with giving back.

MCCLAIN HERMES: My dad and I decided once we got out of our dark time and our lives that we wanted to give back to other people and show them the love and support that we are being given. So, we decided to collect shoes. In December 2016, we donated over 3,500 pairs of shoes to the Atlanta Mission and that brought our grand total to over 19,000 pairs of shoes.

What some might call a disability, I`ve turned it into my ability. So, I`ve taken my blindness and I turned it into my ability in the pool and my ability in my community to help others and inspire others.

MATT HERMES: She doesn`t want her sight back. If you ask her, she would say no, I don`t want my sight back. You know, maybe someday, but today, she`s good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: If you have seasonal allergies, this is almost enough to make your eyes water. Looks like snow, right? It`s not. It`s pollen. The spores are grains from flowering plants and there was so much of it recently in part of North Carolina that it looked like a heavy snowfall when caught on a man`s home security cameras.

He posted on Facebook that North Carolina is where you can make pollen men, pollen angels and have pollen ball fights. If you wonder why so many people are allergic, that`s one anther.

It`s not fertilie to say that it`s simply a pollen. There`s more than a grain of truth to that. We`d say it`s nothing to sneeze at, but spores it is.

And I`m Carl Achooz for CNN 10.

END