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A Timeline of Events Surrounding an Ambush in Niger; An Examination of Signals in the U.S. Economy, CNN Hero Rebecca Constantino
Aired October 26, 2017 - 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: This is news explained objectively in 10 minutes. This is CNN 10. I`m your anchor, Carl Azuz. Thank you for spending part of your day with us.
The U.S. military is trying to determine what exactly happened during a mission on October 4th in the African country of Niger, also pronounced nee-Zhair.
A unit of 12 Green Berets, special forces of the U.S. Army, was on patrol with 30 Nigerien troops. And they were ambushed by around 50 fighters believed to be affiliated with the ISIS terrorist group. Four U.S. Green Berets and five Nigerien soldiers were killed.
And the ambush raised a number of questions. What was the mission of the U.S. and Nigerien forces? How did it go wrong? Why was one of the fallen U.S. servicemen not recovered for two days?
Some American lawmakers have criticized the military for not being forthcoming enough with answers. In a news conference this week, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, this is the senior ranking member of the U.S. military who reports to the president, he criticized the speculation about the ambush and said the investigation would provide all the details once it`s complete.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned the U.S. soldiers ambushed in Niger were under orders to gather intelligence on a terrorist leader believed to be operating in the area. The unit was not however on a mission to kill or capture the leader.
Their mission was one of the unit`s first patrols. The team had only been in the country a matter of weeks, defense officials said.
On the morning of October 3rd, one day before the ambush, U.S. and Nigerien forces left the capital of Niamey, en route to the village of Tongo Tongo to meet local leaders.
GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: They did not expect resistance on this particular patrol, at least when they first planned it.
SCIUTTO: The next morning, October 4th, as they completed their meeting, the troops suspected the villagers were delaying their departure, the first indication something may have been wrong. Later that morning, the U.S. and Nigerien forces left the village and were heading back to their operating base when some 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters ambushed them, with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
The U.S. soldiers fought back but were in unarmored vehicles and carried only light weapons. It was one hour before they called in air support.
DUNFORD: When they didn`t ask for support for their first hour, my judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support.
SCIUTTO: Within minutes, a U.S. drone arrived overhead, capturing video of the scene.
French Mirage jets swooped in one hour later. Two hours in total after the firefight had begun.
The French aircraft which were armed did not open fire because they could not distinguish enemy from friendly forces on the ground.
In the chaos, Sergeant La David Johnson was separated from the rest of the team and left behind. Forty-eight hours after the attack, Nigerien forces found his body, a full mile away from the central scene of the ambush.
The circumstances surrounding Johnson`s death remained one of the most pressing questions of the investigation.
DUNFORD: We owe the families as much information as we can find out about what happened and we owe the American people an explanation of what their men and women were doing at this particular time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:
What do Apple, Coca-Cola, Visa and Walmart all have in common?
Are they all based in California, part of the Dow, private companies, or more than 50 years old?
The only fact here that unites all of these companies is that they`re listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: Our October 19th show, which is in our archives at CNN10.com, explained how the Dow Jones Industrial Average had set a record. It set more since then, though it dropped yesterday.
The stock market is one indicator of how the U.S. economy is doing, but it`s not the only one. Another is the unemployment rate, the share of the labor force that doesn`t have a job. It`s currently a low at 4.2 percent, and a study out of Michigan State University predicts that hiring for new college graduates will increase this year, especially for people with associate`s degrees.
A persistent challenge for the economy has been wages.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sixteen years ago, that`s the last time the unemployment rate was this low. It`s been 4.5 percent now for months.
But just how strong is the job market really?
Here`s one asterisk: wages. Before the Great Recession, wages were growing about 3 percent a year. Since then, it`s been a long, slow, crawl back for that number.
In September, a hopeful sign. Average hourly earnings posted their strongest showing in more than eight years and whether that`s an anomaly or the start of sustained wage growth remains to be seen.
Another asterisk: geography. Unemployment still remains high in some places, like Alaska, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
Finally, consider this: there are more than 6 million job openings in this country, a record high. At the same time, more than 6 million people are looking for a job. So, why can`t those unemployed people fill those open jobs?
It`s largely a skills mismatch. Employers say they can`t find workers who have the right training. It`s a problem that has plagued this job market for years and until that`s fixed, it`s just one more asterisk hanging over workers.
AZUZ: It makes sense that Rebecca Constantino would work to promote language, literacy and learning. She has a PhD in that. And shortly after she got her doctorate in 1999, she saw something that bothered her in a wealthy part of Los Angeles, California. She says a school was getting rid of its books because it didn`t have room for them in the library.
So, Constantino took those books to a school in a poorer part of the city and that was the start of Access Books.
REBECCA CONSTANTINO, CNN HERO: For a child, a library can be a magical place.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I`m officially the most awesome girl in the world.
CONSTANTINO: It can transform you academically, but it can also nurture you emotionally.
I`m excited. This is going to be our nicest library by far.
What people don`t realize is that school libraries are sometimes not funded at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be full of books over here.
CONSTANTINO: This results in schools without dated collections, books from the `50s, sometimes even the `30s.
This only happens because we all work together.
We provide libraries for underserved communities and schools. Our whole goal is to spread literacy and benefits of literacy.
We rely on two groups. We rely on donors and with that donor money, we buy brand new, high interest books and we catalogue them ourselves so that cost is very low. It`s about 70 percent off list price. And then we rely on volunteers to give gently used donated books.
We don`t just come in and give you books.
So, are you ready?
The community comes to help and the kids come and help.
We paint murals in the library that are reflective of what the school wants and books that they`ve read. So, it`s really warm and welcoming.
We really transformed it. When kids come back and they see their library, they`re completely amazed at how beautiful the space looks and they really get the sense that wow, I`m important. And this space is important.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three to four thousand books came in. So, that`s life changing. That`s just a powerful experience for the students.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: They`re clearly a genius.
CONSTANTINO: We`ve helped over 300 libraries and we`ve done 40 community libraries, which means they`re at a homeless shelter or a battered women shelter. We`ve distributed over 1-1/2 million books. I want kids to love reading.
Reading opens up a whole new world. You learn vocabulary. You learn to problem-solve. And before you know it, you know how to navigate things in life.
Really the core of it all is books.
AZUZ: Professional photographers can tell you it sometimes hard enough getting kids to smile. Thankfully, there`s no problem getting Cheech to do it. He recently arrived at an animal shelter in a Texas city of Waller, and well, he does this, on command.
The photos went viral. In a matter of days, the shelter found a new home for Cheech. They`re hoping the publicity will help them find homes for other animals in need.
It`s a good looking puppy. It`s not like he got rescued by the skin of his teeth. It was easy to get to the root of the challenge, filling the need of a home, occluding the case for a canine with such a bicuspidcuous (ph) treat. You could just flax up the phone and find someone verneer by who caries. One look at his new owner thought he dentist the one I ought to retainer.
That seals up CNN 10. I`m Carl Atooth.