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Special Event

Millennium 2000: A Quiet Day in Seattle; Hugs, Cheers Greet Fmr. Indian Airlines Captives; Story of the Century

Aired January 1, 2000 - 2:30 a.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: At the plaza there, the 2000 millennium party there in Calgary, as we followed the Y2K rollover across Canada's time zones.


And we want to take -- you all now to a place, Seattle, Washington, where there has been a mixture of planning -- serious planning and some celebratory planning -- Bernie, that had to be cut back.

SHAW: Let's call in Rusty Dornin for an update.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie and Judy, it's a little lonely out here after watching all the millennium bashes around the world, thousands of people.

There were supposed to be 50,000 people here at the Space Needle in Seattle. That party was canceled earlier this week. We are in a parking lot where most of the folks are sitting in their cars planning on watching the fireworks here. Kind of a sad statement to all that's happened here. So it's been rather a quiet day all in all for New Year's Eve so far in Seattle.


DORNIN (voice-over): Normally, visitors can walk right up to Seattle's Space Needle. Not on this New Year's Eve.

UNIDENTIFIED SECURITY GUARD: I need to look in your purse.

DORNIN: Erected during the 1962 World's Fair, the landmark that symbolized Seattle's future and what was to have been the site of the city's greatest party will be locked up tighter than a drum.

UNIDENTIFIED SEATTLE OFFICIAL: There won't be any public access to the grounds after 6:00 p.m. The celebration will be completed, and we'll move on.

DORNIN: Jubilation over the millennium overshadowed by fears of possible acts of terrorism only weeks after violence in the streets during the World Trade Organization meetings here. Like it or not, the city has the jitters.

UNIDENTIFIED SEATTLE RESIDENT: Oh, I think it's -- it probably wasn't necessary, but there might be a reason for it we don't know about, you know. We're -- we were going to come down here tonight, and we're going to spend the evening at home.

DORNIN: Fifty thousand were expected to gather here, a party that was over before it began.

UNIDENTIFIED SEATTLE RESIDENT: It's just kind of sad because, this morning on TV, we watched all the other celebrations across the world, and here it's just kind of desolate and deserted.

DORNIN: Some low-key events during the day for the pleasure of a few.


DORNIN: Now the show will go on atop the Space Needle as it does every year. There will be a pyrotechnic display. They're planning on spelling out the year 2000 and will do that at 11:59 tonight. There will be a display of about five minutes.

As I said, people have been gathering in areas around here, around the parking lots here, around the hills. There are several vantage points that you can see the Space Needle from various areas around the city.

The biggest fear really for Seattlites has been in the last couple of days whether the fog was going to lower to obscure the view because that hap -- has happened in years past. So right now, Se -- many Seattlites are staying home. Many of them are preferring to welcome the millennium from their own backyard.

Bernie and Judy.

SHAW: OK. Thank you very much, Rusty Dornin.

Well, as we await the beginning of the Year 2000 in Las Vegas, in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, California, San Francisco, and Seattle where Rusty just reported from, and Vancouver, British Columbia, let's look back for a moment to look at some important news developments over the past few hours.

A new year is beginning, and Russia with a new president at the helm. Boris Yeltsin left the Kremlin Friday hours after he resigned from office. In a speech to the nation, Yeltsin apologized for failing to fulfill the dreams of ordinary Russians for a better life.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will serve as acting president until elections are held in March. Currently, he leads other possible contenders in Russian opinion polls.

WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, hugs and cheers greeted former captives from a hijacked India Airlines flight, but, as CNN New Delhi Bureau Chief Satinder Bindra reports, the passengers and crew tell a harrowing ordeal at the hands of their captors.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Out of the plane into freedom and the waiting embrace of their families, 155 passengers arrived home New Year's Eve after eight days in captivity. Some couldn't walk. Others were too traumatized to talk. Those who did say they'll bear the scars of India's longest hijacking drama in a decade forever.

NARUN NATHANI, RELEASED HOSTAGE: We were fearing that every day. There was intense pressure on the last day, but we really thought they would blow us up. They would kill us.

BINDRA: One Indian, Rupin Katyal (ph), was stabbed to death by the hijackers soon after they commandeered the plane on a routine flight from Nepal to India. Passengers say the hijackers gave them little food and kept many of them blindfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED AIRLINE PASSENGER: No, they don't have -- they have time bombs also.

BINDRA: Fearing the hijackers would blow up the plane, India on Friday agreed to release three jailed Muslim rebels in exchange for the prisoners.

DR. SANJIV CHIBBER FAMILY MEMBER: We feel it's worth it because no three terrorists are worth the lives of 155 passengers.

BINDRA: Soon after releasing the passengers into the care of Indian officials in Kandahar, the hijackers left the airport in a motorcade. India says it will try to find them and appeal to the international community for help.

ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: The time has come for the world to confront this evil, to act in concert and crush it. The battle against terrorism can be won by all nations acting together.

BINDRA: At New Delhi's International Airport, few were thinking about the hijackers. Passengers said the real hero was the Indian Airlines pilot, Captain Daby Sharon (ph), for keeping calm as the hijackers forced the plane to hopscotch from India to Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates and, finally, to Afghanistan. The passengers and their relatives carried Sharon out of the terminal on their shoulders.

For tearful relatives, the release of their loved ones was, they said, the best millennium gift they could ever hope for.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, New Dehli.


SHAW: And we'll be right back with more coverage.


WOODRUFF: And that's how it looked just about 40 minutes ago in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of seven states in the United States that now observes the Year 2000.

We are coming up on about 20 minutes before 3:00 Eastern Time, 12:00 Pacific, and we'll have about four more states turning the clock, celebrating a new millennium, as well as Vancouver and parts of Western Canada.

Meanwhile, as the world celebrates the first day of the Year 2000, there are a few people celebrating their 100th birthday. CNN's John Zarrella has one woman's story of the century.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This school picture was taken in 1908. The pretty, little 8-year-old girl in the front row is Carolina Beck. This is Carolina Beck today. She is Sister Felicia Beck. About her life, she says humbly...

SISTER FELICIA BECK, SISTERS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE: Well, there's nothing remarkable about it.

ZARRELLA: Oh, but there is. Sister Felicia was born 100 years ago. According to the National Centenarian Awareness Project, which tracks this sort of thing, Sister Felicia is one of only 184 Americans still alive who were born January 1st, 1900.

BECK: I don't see why I should have lived this long, but it's God's will.

ZARRELLA: Raised on the family farm in Red Rock, Texas, Sister Felicia entered the convent in 1919. First she taught school, then went into nursing. From her perspective, the most significant advances in the past 100 years all took place roughly within the first half of the 20th century.

BECK: The automobile business. They are so numerous all over the world, and that's a great advantage to the people. Also the wash machine, the ice box, and the cooling system that we have now.

ZARRELLA: Sister Felicia lives now in San Antonio, Texas, in a retirement center for the Sisters of Divine Providence, but she hasn't slowed down.

BECK: I start with prayer and go to mass. After that, breakfast. And after that, exercise. And after the exercise, well, I have the little things to do in my room. But then I'll start praying again.

ZARRELLA: Since her birth, the Catholic Church has had nine popes, and there have been 18 U.S. presidents. She has seen the world change in so many ways, but there is one change for which she's still waiting. BECK: That we'll have peace in the world.

ZARRELLA: That, she says, would be humanity's greatest achievement.

John Zarrella, CNN, reporting.


WOODRUFF: Well, we're certainly happy that she has made it to her -- or is making it today to her 100th birthday.

SHAW: One bit of information. Earlier, Carl Rochelle was reporting from the FAA Center there at Herndon, Virginia. The FAA now tells CNN that the automated weather observation systems -- there were 12 or less in Iowa -- are sending weather reports to the national system. They're doing that because they are back on line. Nothing major.

WOODRUFF: We're going to take a break. We are just 16 minutes away from Pacific Time Zone turning to midnight. We'll be right back.



SHAW: Oh, so much more to come. California, Nevada, Washington State, Vancouver, British Columbia, as our coverage continues.

WOODRUFF: We are getting to see a lot of this country, and it's fun.

SHAW: Now let's take a look at what the weather looks like on the West Coast -- starting on the West Coast. Here's Femi Oke.

What does it look like at the CNN Weather Center?

FEMI OKE, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have the complete global weather picture here for you. We have the entire world's weather. In fact, here we have Y2K weather up to around the West Coast of America. They're still in old 1999 weather.

Let me take a close look at that West Coast and see how it's looking here. Here we have our temperatures. Not too bad. Pretty mild for Los Angeles coming for the next half-hour or so. San Francisco there, 46 Fahrenheit, 7 Celsius. Getting cooler as we head up to Vancouver. I'll put some cloud cover on there, and you can see that some of the pyrotechnics might be a little bit difficult to see. A little bit of light clouds just moving in to that Northwest Pacific coastline.

Elsewhere around the world, though, we are looking at weather coming up for the first day of the new year and the new century. Certainly for Japan, we're seeing clear weather. A sunny start for Tokyo. Snow pushing into Beijing, possibly see some cooler temperatures there. But India looking rather warm and hot and hazy for January 1st, 2000.

Let's look at these forecast temperatures then coming up both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade. We are marking an international celebration. Mumbai there, 32. Tokyo, 9 Celsius. Seoul, 12 Celsius or 54 Fahrenheit. Moving on into Australia, fairly quiet picture. Part of the West Coast and possible showers there and, also, a little bit of rain moving in here. That may develop into something a little bit more serious. We're certainly be keeping in touch with that.

And then elsewhere through New Zealand, things aren't too bad for both the North Island and the South Island just off there to the edge of your screen.

How are these forecast temperatures looking like for January 1st? Again, we're looking at Perth. Very warm there, 35 Celsius. Alice Springs, 96 Fahrenheit or 35 Celsius. And Darwin now at 32 Celsius or 90 Fahrenheit.

Moving on into the UK and into Europe, they have seen some very strong storms over the last week. A bit of a respite and mild weather for the millennium celebrations, but we are seeing some wet, windy weather moving into the UK into Scandinavia as well, and very fair weather certainly for Paris and over to Berlin.

That's your weather for now. The world weather look.

Back to you Bernard and Judy.

SHAW: Thank you, Femi.

Christiane Amanpour was reporting rain in London as we saw the millennium arrive there.

WOODRUFF: And she was, and if you look -- as you look at that map, as Femi was pointing out, it looks like half of Great Britain is -- in -- experiencing inclimate weather.

We've talk -- done a lot of talking about, Bernie, tonight and this morning about time, the passage of time, time as it -- midnight as it races around the globe, but time not only as it applies to the world but also as it applies to our own lives.

More on the passing of time from CNN's Candy Crowley.


UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: Like how do they start the millennium? How do they start the new year's?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marking time. One of life's most precise activities. Until you live it.

UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: Eight sure seems like it has been a long time ago, but then if you just think back, it seems like you born just a couple of minutes ago because it's like -- it hasn't been that long since you were -- well, it's been long, but then you think back and it seems like it hasn't been.

CROWLEY: The truth is eight years is a long time if that's the oldest you've ever been.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When I was born, World War I was only nine months old, and there's been a lot of history ever since then, and it -- it's just a great life. Just keep living it. That's my formula. Don't stop.

CROWLEY: A funny thing about the clock. Just when you learn to tell time, you start to understand that it doesn't tell you much.

UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: When you're having fun, it goes slow because you're having -- wait a minute. Well -- yeah, when you're having fun, it goes slow because you get to play a lots, and you feel like you get to play a whole bunch, but when you're not having fun, it -- no. Wait a minute. When you're not having fun, it goes slow, and when you're having fun, it goes quick.

CROWLEY: Trains run by the clock. People run on something more forgiving, something that defies the tick tock of an hour a day, a year. People run on lifetime, and it is ever out of sync with clock time.

UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: It seems just like yesterday you were just like in first grade.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I can't believe I've been here already 61 years, going on 62, and I'm ready for retirement.

CROWLEY: Clock time never changes, 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day. Lifetime can stand still.

UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: Oh, a couple of hours seems really long to me.

CROWLEY: And the other end of lifetime, it flies.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When we go into the Smithsonian and places like that and you see things that have happened in 1931 and '34 and things, and I realize that '35 was my birthday, you know, and when my daughter tells me that I can't throw anything away because it might be an antique...

CROWLEY: Clock time is measured by the sweep of a hand. Lifetime is measured by the feel of the soul.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, yes. Yes. Because I think I'm still 25.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, it's very hard to realize age in the -- in relation to what you really think about.

CROWLEY: Lifetime is measured by the face of a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'll tell you when it dawns on you. When you're young, when you're married, you have babies and, one day, you look up, and they're all gone.

CROWLEY: The father in "Fiddler on the Roof" sang about lifetime at his daughter's wedding. "I don't remember growing older. When did they?"

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you have 50-year-old children, why, you have a little more realization of times gone by.

CROWLEY: Lifetime connects us to the ages for the time when clock time runs down.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I feel like a bridge. My grandmother was born in 1884. My granddaughter was born in 1984. And I think it's wonderful that I'm in between there, and I knew my grandmother and my granddaughter. I think it's great.

CROWLEY: Clock time tells us when to wake up, when to go to work, when to celebrate.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I can't believe it. I just can't believe it's actually 2000. I just can't. It's just such a -- you know, something that's -- you never look -- look -- think it's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: And they have these little clocks that do countdowns, and if I had one in my room, I would try to speed it -- or just want to make it go quicker because it takes so long.

CROWLEY (on camera): How late are you going to stay up?




CROWLEY (voice-over): Clock time is something you mark. Lifetime is something you experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Life is a lot of fun, and life -- this is an order to you. Live it.

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Absolutely fascinating. Just fascinating.

WOODRUFF: It really is.

If I can read just quickly, if you'll indulge me, from the end of a poem written by Robert Pinsky, the poet laureate. "A toast for 2000," he says, "is the centuries past / Past, present, and future / Victims, villains, and heroes / Each crosses the calendar border and disappears / Or lives in memory that numbers all the years."

And my apologies for reading only a portion of this magnificent poem that deserves more than that.

SHAW: Oh, apologies accepted. Very, very uplifting.

A new millennium is approaching Western Canada and the United States when we come back.


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