April 30th, 2008
04:05 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Smorgasbord on a Wednesday

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

Many of you have asked about the boys of the Yearning for Zion ranch in El Dorado, TX. Where are they? Is there concern some of the boys in this polygamous sect may have been abused? Today, some answers on that front. Investigators are now looking into the possible sexual abuse of some young boys from the YFZ ranch.


An inspiring story of survivial and renewal. Christian Amanpour takes us back to Sarajevo. I think the video and the story really speak for themselves – it’s worth watching.


In India, a frightening reminder of times past…
a six year old girl thrown down onto a fire because a man decided she was not fit to walk on the road she was using with her mother. Why? Because she and her mother are Dalit, “untouchables“… the lowest of the low in a now-outlawed caste system.

The man who pushed the little girl is now facing charges of attempted murder.


A Miami-area school needs a new principal, and they found their man in a career educator. Larry Feldman was gearing up for retirement, but when he heard about the position, decided he’d stick around for another year to help out the school and the kids. The job paid $120,000 a year – Feldman offered to do it for just $1 and benefits.

It sounds like a win for everyone, but the school board nixed Feldman’s plan. Why? They say if they only budgeted $1 plus benefits for the position, they’d never be able to fill the job if this principal left.

Feldman is hoping they’ll rethink that decision.

OK, that’s it for me today… I’ll see you at 10!

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Taj

    A young Dalit was thrown into the fire? I do not believe it. She was probably pushed to the side to make way to the upper class man & might have accidentally fell into the fire. This makes more sense. We know India very well. We had a women Primeminister. India has a Dalit Lady who is the Chief minister. Many Dalits occupy vey good positions in the Govt. Yes, there is caste system in India which was based on division of labor. We have a class system in the US, don't we? Blacks were lynched, weren't they? People hate Hillary because she is a smart woman, don't they. Every nation emerges from old practices to the new. All happens in progression. Western world has a lot to learn from ancient civilizations. America is far from perfect.

    May 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  2. dg, arlington, tx

    hi erica!

    would you ever consider doing vlogs instead of writing your news note?

    May 1, 2008 at 12:28 am |
  3. Lauren R.

    The story about Sarajevo reminds me of an awful shame. It was when it was all still happening over there, back in the mid-90's. I'd come home from work, and turned on the TV. What came on looked like a movie about WWII, and it looked interesting–cameras kept panning children in bunk beds in what was obviously a bunker. I thought, great, a movie worth watching. I got popcorn and sat down. Then the camera turned, and it was Christina Amanpour, and it wasn't a movie, it was life, real life and death, right there on CNN. I never forgot my shock, nor my shame. she brought the war home. She shook me to my bones. I just wanted to tell her, thank you, for keeping it real. (I wonder often, too, how those children fared.)

    April 30, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  4. yogi

    I dunno if i believe that story written about the girl in India... I mean i'm not denying that she was pushed and is severly burned .... but i think the 'untouchable' thing may have been exagerated .... U.P. is represented by a 2/3 majority of the so called 'untouchable' class in the government of that state ... i can't remember the exact name of the party .... but i know the government has been working for a while to fix those types of problems and also ... those weird people who feel so strongly about the caste system and the "untouchable" idea usually don't go out of their way to touch those people. I think he probably just pushed her and it was written and spun in the angle of tension between castes

    April 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  5. Lisette Chicago, IL

    Mark me down for being crazy for Michelle Obama
    She is smart and beautiful and an asset to Barack Obama

    April 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica

    Great stories as usual. The abuse report of the boys on the ranch doesn't surprise me sorry to say. I was wondering when that might come up. I feel for these children – a lot of them probably don't really understand what abuse is because they have lived with it all their lives with their parents calling it "discipline".

    The man who would be principal for a dollar plus benefits – that is great. I hope he gets to do it. If the school board can't do this because they'd never be able to fill the job after he left, they might consider paying him the money and letting him donate it back to the schools if he wishes. Its nice to see people still willing to just help out without expectation of a huge salary.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 30, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  7. Genevieve M, TX

    This man pushes a 6 y/o girl into a fire because he considers her to be an "untouchable"? The obvious question is "how can she be an untouchable if he had to push (TOUCH) her into a fire?"

    I am not sure what punishment will be given to this man, but I am appalled that anyone would hurt a child. That is just pure evil to do something like that!

    April 30, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  8. rupa

    Ms Erica Hill , bravo for the news from India.....of so much developmet and achievement happening at this moment in India and you had to create this particular story for that great land, forgetting the ploygamy in the richest nation of the world, the raping of the daughter for a prolonged period of time by her Father ......in Rev Wright's voice I say No No No No....dig deeper.......

    April 30, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Erica it was nice to see this story.
    I am with some others. When will
    360 have an international/world
    news segment ? CNN does have
    reporters all around the world
    and AC 360 is seen worldwide.

    April 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  10. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica,

    There was no doubt in my mind that the young boys from the YFZ ranch were also abused. If the men there were capable of abusing the young girls, you can almost bet they would do the same to the young boys. It is so sad. I can’t wait to see the day when justice is served to these men.

    Glad to hear things are better in Sarajevo. But of course, as in any war-torn region, progress will be slow. I hope things continue to get better there.

    India has prejudice within their own country with their caste system. But then I wondered, how different is that from the U.S.? Granted we’ve come a long way here and you don’t hear of people getting thrown in the fire, but people of different races, religion, sexual orientation, etc. still experience some form of prejudice.

    Mr. Feldman must really love kids to be willing to be paid only $1 plus benefits. I don’t know why the school would turn down such a fantastic offer. I’m sure after the publicity, other schools would be willing to hire him.

    See you tonight!

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  11. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Hello Erica, wow thats crazy that they didn't take up Mr. Feldman., they should've and just play it by ear for the next yr., and the story goes on back at the "Ranch" what a mess, I just hope the Gov. doesn't blow it. Oh and "Christian Amanpour" she is way cool. see u tonight.

    April 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  12. Michael, NC

    It is bad enough to hear of young women being sexually and physically abused, but now the boys too? It just continues to unravel and disturb me.
    Caste systems still in existence-and as inhumane as this one! It is crazy to me that people put others into classes and treat each other like animals. It's bad enough in America, and it is horrible to hear such sad stories as this one from India.
    Claire-I agree with you. If the board won't let him take the job for that price, why even offer it? I mean, if he has no choice, then he should take the money and give it back to the community. Good idea.

    April 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  13. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Velkommen Erica,
    Smorgasbord Wednesday? Sounds like tonight's topics will be varied. I wish last night ac360 had been able to highlight much more of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Maybe next time?
    Do you think the school district could throw the big book of rules out the window? Mr Feldman's 120,000 would buy an awful lot of school supplies. If all else fails, Mr Feldman could donate the 120,000 when he leaves? Red tape..will bind the life out of common sense...Happy Smorgasbord Wednesday.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    April 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Skipper

    Thanks for posting the Amanpour video on what is happening in Bosnia. Hey Erica, how come AC 360 does not use more stories from Amanpour, one of CNN's greatest assets?

    As for the boys at YTZ Ranch, that is just so inexplicibly sad.

    April 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  15. Claire

    I can understand why the school board told Mr. Feldman they'd have a problem with paying him $1. My mother used to work for the state of Florida and whenever they had extra money left over in the budget for supplies she was told to order extra with the left over money. The reasoning was that if they didn't use the money the State would budget them less for the following year. It seems like a waste but they really didn't have much of a choice. Maybe he could take the salary and donate the money to local schools and programs?

    April 30, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  16. Alexander

    Erica, just got done reading the news note. The story about the principal reminds me of the one about the lady who drove 280 miles to New Orleans. It's heartening to see such dedication today. It really is. Anyway, looking forward to tonight's program. See ya then.: )

    April 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  17. Alexander

    Hey there, Erica. See you're posting a bit earlier than usual.: P I was actually just checking on your news note from yesterday and noticed you had just posted this one. Hmm. Let's see. Will I finally get the first post in?: P I had just glanced over the headline about that little girl in India. I will go ahead and read the news note, now. So, let me get to that. Looking forward to tonight's program.: )

    April 30, 2008 at 4:07 pm |

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