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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 25, 2000

Aired February 25, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET

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

ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It's Friday here on NEWSROOM, and everywhere else in the world for that matter. Thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Haynes.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott.

On today's program, from preserving history to making it, we start with two devastating natural disasters.

HAYNES: In today's top story, on one continent, hot lava, falling rocks and volcanic ash; on another continent, fierce torrential rains, malnutrition, severe flooding. Both places losing the battle to nature.

WALCOTT: First there was cyber-space and now cyber-communities. Our "Editor's Desk" looks at the impact of technology on our lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD RHEINGOLD, FOUNDER, "THE WELL": Sports to parenting to books, and over a period of weeks and months, these messages add up to kind of group conversations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: In "Worldview," we head to a Japanese archipelago in search of ancient civilizations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "There's such a feeling of greatness, it's like looking into an unknown world," says this diver.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: Then in "Chronicle," 50 years of history told through the lens of his camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFF ROSENHEIM, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: He records those moments where America reveals itself honestly and directly. And his pictures tell us who we are and what we are as a people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: Today's news focuses on natural disasters on the continents of Africa and Asia, specifically, flooding wreaking havoc in Mozambique and a volcano causing problems in the Philippines.

WALCOTT: We head first to Mozambique, where two weeks of torrential rain has led to massive flooding. More than 200 people have been killed. Half a million have lost their homes, and waterborne diseases are threatening hundreds of thousands. To make matters even worse, 23,000 Mozambican children under age five face severe malnutrition. That's because the floods have swept away the harvests.

With many roads and bridges washed out, international relief workers are ferrying in food and supplies by helicopter.

Cynde Strand has more on how the Mozambican people are coping with the worst torrential rains in 30 years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CINDE STRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A battered country, a battered people. Mozambican relief officials say they are still desperate for help in transporting food and supplies to those trapped by floodwaters. They have issued an urgent appeal for aid in rebuilding roads, bridges and rail lines.

GEORGIA SHAVER, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Clearly, there's major, major damage and destruction on not only the national road but also the secondary and the tertiary roads. It is very imperative that assistance is brought in to ensure that those roads are put back together as quickly as possible. Half of this country is currently cut off from the other half.

STRAND: For most of the 2,000 people sheltering near this displacement center, all they have is what they're wearing. At night, many sleep on reed mats in the sand.

They are receiving a lesson in hygiene, how to cook their food, how to avoid cholera.

The number of malaria cases is on the rise. Health workers search for those most in need of treatment. Children, weak from lack of proper food, have little resistance. Though some floodwaters have subsided, local officials are telling people not to return to their land, not to rebuild their homes.

The government plans to give a small piece of land to each family in safer areas. This official says the government doesn't want people facing the same danger after the next flood. Fernando Jose Macamo (ph) escaped the floods with his wife and five of his children. He says he will go back to cultivate his land but never wants to live there again.

(on camera): In 1992, after 16 years of civil war, Mozambique was rated as one of the poorest countries in the world. In recent years, they've been making an economic recovery. The country was beginning to stand on its own. Now nature has brought Mozambique to its knees once again.

Cindy Strand, CNN, in the Third of February Village, Mozambique.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: We're also following another natural disaster story in today's news: A powerful volcano erupting in the Philippines. It's known as the Mayon Volcano, and it's spewing super-hot ash into the air, along with bright orange lava down its slopes. No injuries have been reported thus far, but thousands of people have been forced to leave the area.

We get more on the situation from Gordon Robinson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GORDON ROBINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The foot of the Philippines' Mayon Volcano is now a no-man's land. Thousands of people were rousted from their beds just after midnight, Thursday, fleeing the shower of lava, ash and debris. The 2,400-meter volcano threw debris eight kilometers into the air. Earlier in the week, officials anticipated a mild eruption but now they're having to expand the danger zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of now, we are -- we are suffering from ash fall here in (OFF-MIKE). That is why we are evacuating our residents in the Baragi (ph) in the (OFF-MIKE) that we can save them in their places.

ROBINSON: People living on the southeastern side of the mountain are most vulnerable. Scientists say the lava is superheated to temperatures of about 900 degrees Celsius, hot enough, they say, to obliterate anything in its path.

Mount Mayon is well-known to tourists and locals. Visitors admire its near-perfect cone shape. But residents are wary of a volcano that killed 1,200 people in an 1814 eruption. The volcano has been quiet since June of last year, but that mild eruption was nothing like this. Scientists say the explosions could last a matter of days, or, they say, this could go on for more than a week.

Gordon Robinson, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: I didn't know it was time for the "Editor's Desk" already. I was just e-mailing my friend in Stamford, Connecticut. And coincidentally, that's the focus of today's "Editor's Desk." The Internet is changing the way we communicate and our very ideas on our own communities. The global village, a term coined by media theorist Marshall McLuhan, is a reality and that can have benefits and drawbacks, as Gina London explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Joey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kevin, what kind of sauce do you want on this?

GINA LONDON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For about 16 years, George and Alice Paul (ph) have been dishing up barbecue for people in the small town of Lexington, Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most barbecue places I go to the barbecue is dry. This is just right.

LONDON: For about 15 years, Howard Rheingold has been dishing on one of the oldest gathering sites on the Internet, known as The Well.

HOWARD RHEINGOLD, FOUNDER, "THE WELL": Sports to parenting to books, and over a period of weeks and months these messages add up to kind of group conversations. Through those group conversations, people who live near one another in the San Francisco Bay area got to know each other.

LONDON: Over at Paul's, folks have also gotten to know each other through the years.

GEORGE FINGER, PAUL'S CUSTOMER: I think it's the food and I think it's also...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conversation.

FINGER: ... the conversation. It's a meeting place.

LONDON: From Paul's to computers, people have been debating what "community" really means and how technology changes it for years.

If we're spending more time in cyberspace, are we opening the door to the world only to shut ourselves up in a room with a computer?

RHEINGOLD: If your only communication with humans is online, you've got a problem.

LONDON: On the other hand, many people who first meet online, do get together face to face and then some.

RHEINGOLD: People fall in love and get married. All kinds of things happen among those people.

LONDON: And not only relationships, but virtual communities can provide help and support when others cannot.

RHEINGOLD: If you are the only person who is an Alzheimer's caregiver or has breast cancer in your small town.

LONDON: Small towns now with access to the world, but will virtual communities kill places like Paul's?

PAUL SAFFO, INSTITUTE OF THE FUTURE: The town square, the marketplace, the physical place is not going to disappear. We've just added the additional electronic dimension of cyberspace to it.

LONDON: And for some, the added dimension is not a threat at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get on the Internet, but you still want good food.

LONDON: Food for thought. As we savor technology like so much barbecue, isn't it ultimately up to us to decide what impact it has over our lives?

Gina London, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops and neither does the news.

WALCOTT: Today's "Worldview" tour takes us continent hopping through Asia, Europe and Africa. Our European port of call finds us in Rumania exploring the musical soul of a people. Our artistic adventure continues in South Africa, where performers are taking their art to the street.

Our journey begins off the coast of Japan, as we go diving for the answer to an ancient mystery.

HAYNES: For thousands of years, man has talked of, and searched for, lost civilizations beneath the sea. You may have heard of Atlantis, a legendary island said to have sunk during an earthquake. Today, "Worldview" heads to the waters off southern Japan, which some scientists say could hold the ruins of an ancient civilization.

Join us on our underwater odyssey with Marina Kamimura.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A corridor, perhaps an ancient courtyard: The mysterious shapes of the Yonaguni ruins that have beckoned local divers for more than a decade.

"There's such a feeling of greatness, it's like looking into an unknown world," says this diver.

Lying a hundred meters, or 300 feet, off the coast of Yonaguni, the westernmost island of Japan, the pyramid-like structure was discovered in 1986. What's never been proven, though, is whether it's the work of nature or man. Some experts say strong ocean currents could have done the job. But if it is man-made, that begs an even bigger question: How did it end up at the bottom of the ocean. Some scientists say that the rock was built by a stone-age civilization that was eventually swallowed up by the sea after the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

Masaaki Kimura has a different story, based on the theory that the Japanese archipelago was once part of continental Asia. He says the most likely reason it and other similar sites nearby are now underwater is because they suddenly sank after an event like an earthquake.

MASAAKI KIMURA, RYUKYU UNIVERSITY (through translator): From our investigations of surrounding organisms, such as coral, we estimate this ruin was made approximately 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

KAMIMURA: A geologist by training, Kimura says he's found evidence of chiseling, even a stone instrument.

(on camera): Kimura's findings already have locals excited about the opportunities. Okinawa's governor says if there's more conclusive evidence, he'd like to propose the ruins for designation as a world heritage site...

(voice-over): ... a finding that would be a boon for local tourism.

World-renowned dive enthusiast Jacques Mayol is already convinced.

JACQUES MAYOL, DIVER: My impression is that it's a natural sight, of course, it's a natural sight but that has been improved, enhanced, embellished, if you want, by man. We don't know who did it, what kind of men did it, how long ago they did that.

KAMIMURA: Questions that only seem to add to the rock's intrigue for those that believe it's more than just a natural phenomenon.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Okinawa, Japan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Romania is a country in Eastern Europe. During ancient times, the country was part of the Roman Empire. In fact, Romania means "Land of the Romans," and Romanians are the only people in Eastern Europe who can trace their ancestry and language back to the ancient Romans.

The colorful folk culture of Romania's rural people adds to the beauty and charm of the country. In fact, the celebration of music has become a vital part of the Romanian way of life.

Mike Hanna explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stelian Olariu is the chorus master of the national opera. He's 70 years old, and music has always been his life.

STELIAN OLARIU, CHORUS MASTER, ROMANIA NATIONAL OPERA (through translator): I think music is one of the most important things in society. Without music, society simply wouldn't exist. Romanians have always been a people very fond of music, and music has helped them through the bad times. It's something for the soul.

HANNA: Members of the Romanian pop group VANK also believe in the healing powers of music.

ALEXANDRU BELCIU, VANK MEMBER: People have anyway so many problems and hardships and whatever, so they need a little smile. We're trying to provoke them a little smile through music and with music together.

HANNA: But music alone does not pay the rent, and life is a struggle for the members of the group and for the public that come to listen.

CORNEL ILLIE, VANK MEMBER: We have a song called "Independent," but we are so far of this because we don't have money from music at the moment. But our feelings are -- our feeling is very free, but we don't have any financial condition.

VELCIU: People are pessimistic, and they thought everything would come, richness and welfare would come together with the revolution, but there is nothing.

HANNA: Stelian Olariu, though, remembers what it was like in the past.

OLARIU (through translator): There is a big difference between the job of a musician before the revolution and after it. Before, we were forced to answer to the Communist Party, and they had certain rules we had to obey, but now there is far greater space in which we can work, and we are allowed to do whatever we want.

HANNA: The national opera no longer receives the giant subsidy it used to under a communist regime, many of its musicians are living in poverty, but the chorus master says they have something no amount of money could buy under communism: artistic freedom.

OLARIU (through translator): I have always wanted to be free. I have always wanted my freedom. The most important thing for anyone who creates is to have this freedom, to create things the way he wants to.

HANNA: This is a song the maestro created.

OLARIU (through translator): I feel very proud because it's a Romanian song and because the choir sings it so beautifully.

HANNA: It's called "A Sad Song for Christmas," a poignant reminder of past tragedy but also an affirmation of faith in the present and the future, a fitting memorial to those who lie in Bucharest's Cemetery of the Heroes. Buried here: the victims of the dictator's last stand in that cold December a decade ago. Carved on the tombstones: hundreds of names, like Ariadna Carp (ph), 29; Radu Dragos (ph), 30; Barbu Mihai (ph), 19; Cenrea Marie (ph), 67; and Andronic Vladimir (ph), exactly one month old. Ordinary men, women and children whose deaths helped bring about a life in which people can create.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Bucharest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Each year, artists from around the world come to Johannesburg, South Africa, to entertain and to teach. Today, meet a French street theater group called Oposito. It's artistry in action, and it turned the townships upside down.

Cynde Strand has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CYNDE STRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Real street theater in Alexandra Township is the daily drama of living with poverty and crime. Any diversion here is a welcome escape. On this day, something wondrous: a brass band from a local church serves as pied piper, drawing a crowd. With the audience really warmed up, the main act arrived, and it's as if aliens from another planet have landed. But are they friend or foe?

JEAN-RAYMOND JACOB, OPOSITO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR (through translator): Street theater is about going to perform for people who least expect the performance.

STRAND: This performance, called "Cinematophone" (ph), is not only the strangest thing ever seen here, it is also the strangest thing ever heard. Understanding the performance is another matter. How to explain the abstract subtleties of an aging opera diva remembering her life?

JACOB (through translator): Can art really be explained? Can art really be explained?

STRAND: They leave behind smiles and confusion. What they take from these streets will show up in other performances in other parts of the world.

JACOB (through translator): I will take home lots of things, but mostly the dance and their music, which is very much the culture here, and we will go back with a lot more humility.

STRAND: The people of Alex go home chuckling. It was not a day just like any other.

Cynde Strand, CNN, Alexandra Township, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: For many, February in the United States is a time to reflect on the achievements and contributions of African-Americans. TNT Original Films will set out to do that Sunday night in a story set in 1961, when the American Civil Rights Movement was in full force.

CNN Student Bureau reporter Cotrell Qualls (ph) sat with his classmates and teachers to preview the film, "Freedom Song."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COTRELL QUALLS, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Four decades ago across the American South, young people were fighting for civil rights, protesting racial segregation. "Freedom Song" looks at this struggle through the eyes of a teenager in a fictional Mississippi town.

His father, played by Danny Glover, did not want his son to get involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Freedom Song")

VICELLOUS REON SHANNON, "OWNEN WALKER": Daddy, please try to understand, I have to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUALLS: Students at the Dekalb School of the Arts in Atlanta watched the movie with Mary Thomas, a teacher who took part in sit-ins when she was a teen.

MARY THOMAS, FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: My dad was just vehemently against this. You know, my brother and I were in and out and in and out of jail with this, and my dad kept saying, let somebody else's child go to jail, why must my children go to jail.

QUALLS: The students were trained to stay nonviolent, even when whites harassed or attacked them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Freedom Song")

LORETTA DEVINE, "EVELYN WALKER": If someone spits at you, you stay calm and say, may I please borrow your handkerchief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: But we had to be taught that if you really believed in this movement, and if you really wanted to be successful, and you believed that nonviolence will bring us to the end that we want to see, you'd have to really put aside that violent part of you.

QUALLS: The nonviolent strategy worked, making a much different world for teenagers today.

DANIEL HUANG, AGE 16: They fought for it, so we shouldn't take it for granted, because people died just to sit at a diner and drink coffee.

DONALD GLOVER, AGE 17: A lot of black students don't realize how lucky they are to be, you know, in an age where you can talk to whoever you feel like and walk into a restaurant.

QUALLS: These students wondered if they would have the same courage as the young people of 40 years ago.

SARAH LOVE, AGE 16: We go from home to car to school, and within that world we are safe and happy and there's not much going on. I think it would take having those causes come to us to have us fight.

RHYAN MINTER, AGE 16: We need to remain aware of what's going on in the world around us so that it never gets to a point where we have to have another Civil Rights Movement.

AARON FISK, AGE 16: There are still unjust laws in America, and there's horrible things going on, and I think we all have to be ready to take up the struggle for any unjust movement, because anything could happen at any time in this world we can -- that we live in.

QUALLS: Cotrell Qualls, CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Don't miss "Freedom Song" premiering Sunday, February 27th, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the United States. And for teachers, you can find an educator's guide to "Freedom Song" on our Web site. Go to turnerlearning.com.

Now we'll pass it back to Tom in the newsroom.

HAYNES: It's said that the best writers write about, well, what they know. Perhaps the same is true for photographers. Case in point: Photographer Walker Evans, whose detailed depiction of American life influenced the development of American documentary photography during the 1930s.

Documentary photography combines the use of pictures as record and evidence. In that spirit, New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is conducting an exhibit of Evans' work as evidence of a life lived through looking through a camera lens.

Phil Hirschkorn has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walker Evans had an eye for the American landscape, its rural and urban texture, commuters and farmers, from main street to no street at all.

JEFF ROSENHEIM, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: Evans was interested in the average man, the common man and his experience.

HIRSCHKORN: The common man or woman is the focal point of an Evans photograph, whether they're waiting outside a movie theater, sitting at a lunch counter or just driving around.

A retrospective of Evans' work is showing through may at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit covers 50 years of photos, starting in the 1920s.

The son of an advertising executive, Evans documented signs of the new commerce, its glitter and its clutter. Evans also escaped the city, first as a New Deal photographer who created defining images of the Depression.

ROSENHEIM: Evans was photographing things that he thought were meaningful: the shape of a main street, the Greek revival architecture left over from the 1850s and '60s, neglected forms that he thought had vitality, that expressed the American spirit.

HIRSCHKORN (on camera): Walker Evans originally wanted to be a writer, but he soon discovered his storytelling ability was strongest through pictures, not words, yet it was in collaboration with an established author that Evans' work had the biggest impact.

(voice-over): "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" was written by James Agee. With pictures by Evans, it profiled cotton farmers in Alabama, three struggling families. Agee wrote of their eyes shining in angry glory. The book took a while to catch on but eventually won a Pulitzer Prize. Evans always favored the candid photo over a posed portrait. He'd hide on a corner and sneak shots of people walking by. He'd ride the New York subway with the camera hidden in his coat, snapping photos without the people knowing it.

Stare, Evans would say. It is the way to educate your eye.

ROSENHEIM: He records those moments where America reveals itself honestly and directly, and his pictures tell us who we are and what we are as a people, and I think they will continue to do so.

HIRSCHKORN: Evans spent 20 years contributing photo essays to "Fortune" magazine, and at the end of his life, he experimented with color and polaroids. He depicted a country in transition, moving squarely into the modern age. When Evans died in 1975, he'd seen a much different world than the one he'd been born into at the turn of the 20th century.

ROSENHEIM: These are pictures that when we go back out onto the street after you've wandered through this exhibition, I think you will look at the American scene with fresh eyes and will find that you're looking at the world through Walker Evans' lens.

Phil Hirschkorn, CNN, New York City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Life through the lens of a camera.

WALCOTT: Yes. And that about wraps it up for us here on NEWSROOM. Have a great weekend. We'll see you on Monday.

HAYNES: Take care.

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