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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 6, 2000

Aired March 6, 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,

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: The first Monday in March roars in like a lion and your NEWSROOM crew hits the ground running. Glad you're here. I'm Andy Jordan.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar, cutting to the chase with the look ahead.

JORDAN: In today's top story, a major decision in the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been brewing for months, but now it's definitive. The Israeli government deciding unanimously to end Israel's 18-year military occupation in South Lebanon by July.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: Next, in our "Environment Desk," turning the tide on overfishing: we'll look at a plan to put parts of the ocean off-limits to fishermen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL SAFINA, LIVING OCEANS PROGRAM, NATL. AUDUBON SOCIETY: It's very simple. If you don't kill the fish, the fish grow up, they have more babies, and there are more fish there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: From saving creatures under the sea to the salvation of animals on Earth. Today's "Worldview" segment looks at the blessing of pets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ARMSTRONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every year, people and their pious pets make the pilgrimage to St. Anthony's Cathedral in central Madrid to ensure that the blessed little animals end up fowling the sidewalks in heaven as it is on earth. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: Then, in "Chronicle," the push to get young voters to the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENT MCGOLDRICK, NEGLECTION 2000 POLL: If Silicon Valley and Madison Ave. can figure out how to get these young people, then it's about time the candidates did as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: In today's top story, we head to the Middle East for a familiar refrain: the quest for peace. Today's key players are Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The keywords are "leverage" and "time."

The Israeli cabinet has decided to pull troops out of occupied territory in Lebanon by July. Now here's how this Middle East peace puzzle fits. Israel, a Jewish state, invaded Lebanon, which is mainly Islamic, in 1982, and occupied most of the country for three years. Israel said it wanted to protect itself against what it said were Palestinian and Islamic guerrilla forces operating out of Lebanon.

In 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from Lebanon. But ever since, it has kept hundreds of soldiers in a security zone along the southern border. If Israel gives that up, Syria will have less bargaining power in its effort to get the Golan Heights back from Israel.

Israeli-Syrian peace talks have been stalled since January over Syrian demands that Israel completely withdraw from the Golan Heights. Israel, in turn, wants security guarantees.

Add to the mix the uncertain reaction of the Hezbollah organization. The militant Islamic group in Lebanon is dedicated to ending the occupation along the Israeli border.

We have two reports on the latest efforts to spin peace from a web of Middle East confrontation. We begin with Jerrold Kessel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been brewing for months, but now it's definitive: the Israeli government deciding unanimously to end Israel's 18-year military occupation in south Lebanon by July.

YITZHAK HERZOG, ISRAELI CABINET SECRETARY: The government has decided, A, the Israeli defense forces will deploy on the border with Lebanon by July 2000; B, the government will act to ensure that this deployment will be carried out in the framework of an agreement.

KESSEL: But the most pointed part of the government's statement is that while an agreement with Syria and Lebanon is seen as preferable, in the event of no such agreement, Israel's cabinet would meet again to discuss how to carry out the planned withdrawal, implying that without an agreement Israel plans a unilateral withdrawal.

The decision comes against the backdrop of more violence in South Lebanon: an Israeli soldier seriously hurt in persistent Hezbollah shelling and Israeli warplanes repeatedly bombing guerrilla positions.

Interest in the possibility of a broad agreement increased when Israeli state television's normally well-informed political commentator maintained over the weekend that a comprehensive Syrian- Israeli peace deal, including resolution of Israel's prolonged occupation in South Lebanon, was "in the bag."

That's disputed by officials here. But Prime Minister Ehud Barak disclosed at the cabinet table that Israel is engaged in negotiations about a peace deal, not directly with Syria, but through the United States. Within two months, Mr. Barak said, it would become clear whether such a negotiated peace would be possible.

HAIM RAMON, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: We'd prefer to make it in terms of agreement, and therefore, we are giving the time to Syria to come to the negotiation table and to negotiate.

KESSEL: A still more immediate Israeli focus: a top security alert in and around major towns, troops and police out in numbers amid fears the radical Islamic group Hamas still plans a major suicide bombing. That despite what Israel says was the thwarting in this pre- emptive move at the end of last week of a coordinated Hamas strike in several cities.

At this rally of supporters of the hard-line Islamic movement, a simulated bombing of an Israeli bus, and the burning of the Israeli, United States and French flags.

"We're totally with the resistance in South Lebanon," says this man. "We are one Islamic group: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah -- all one group."

(on camera): Bomb fears, prospects for peace talks, and a deadline for the projected Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, a race against time.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as Israel announced the decision to withdraw its troops from South Lebanon within five months, war with the Hezbollah-led Lebanese resistance continued unabated: retaliatory Israeli air raids and artillery bombardments. After decades of occupation in one form or another in Lebanon, Israel, it seems, is ready to cut its loses and retreat to the international border, irrespective of a hoped-for peace with Syria and Lebanon. SALIM EL-HOSS, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: I hope it's genuine and not just a ploy, because we have a long experience with Israeli ploys.

SADLER: What hope of completing three-way Israeli/Syrian/Lebanese peace before any withdrawal?

EL-HOSS: Well, frankly, I'm not very optimistic of the prospects. Time is running short.

There is a risk that the whole process might be put off until after the presidential elections in the USA, and in the interim, God knows what will happen affecting the peace prospects.

SADLER: The Lebanese themselves are skeptical about the Israeli decision and doubt there'll be no strings attached.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will ask for many things before they leave, but we want them to leave without any requests, just to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They could pressure Syria during this time to have -- to reactivate the negotiations in the States. But again, you can never tell: They are full of surprises.

SADLER (on camera): At face value, an Israeli pullout from the south should satisfy the Lebanese. But Arab diplomatic sources suspect the timing of the Israeli decision may be an attempt to put pressure on both Syria and Lebanon into acceptance of a peace deal before July.

(voice-over): If so, Syria previously warned, it won't work, and that any go-it-alone Israeli troop withdrawal from South Lebanon could make efforts to find peace even more complicated than they already are.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: In today's "Headlines," efforts to help flood victims in Mozambique shift from rescue to relief. Helicopters have pulled more than 1300 people from roofs and trees in the last week, but as the waters recede, the focus turns to delivering food and medicine to the tens of thousands of refugees who've have had little or nothing to eat in days. Relief workers say, they expect the death toll from weeks of flooding to be in the thousands.

In Selma, Alabama, thousands joined U.S. President Clinton to observe the 35th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." On that day in 1965, an all-white Alabama police force beat, trampled and tear-gassed hundreds of marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were on their way to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery to protest racist voting laws. Three people were killed in the confrontation, and a number were seriously injured.

So brutal were the images of the bloodied marchers that then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson demanded Congress pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It did, and now Selma's legacy is sealed in history as a turning point in the fight for civil rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thirty-five years ago, a single day in Selma became a seminal moment in the history of our country. On this bridge, America's long march to freedom met a roadblock of violent resistance. But the marchers, thank God, would not take a detour to the road to freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: Red snapper, white marlin, bluefin tuna, it seems every month there's another fish whose numbers are declining, and whose problems are blamed on overfishing. One strategy for turning the tide, putting parts of the ocean off-limits to fishermen. A plan for one of the world's biggest no-fishing zones is riling the waters off South Florida, as Natalie Pawelski explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours by boat from Key West lie islands called the Dry Tortugas. On land, a historic fort and a national park. A few miles offshore, coral reefs, lobster, and fish, and soon, perhaps, one of the world's biggest no- fishing zones -- a 185-square-mile ecological reserve.

BILLY CAUSEY, FLORIDA KEYS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY: In the ecological reserve, no one takes anything. It's an area that's set aside, sort of like insurance, for future generations to be assured that they will have marine life coming from the reserve.

PAWELSKI: Commercial and sport fishing is big business in the Keys. But researchers say too much fishing, an exploding human population, and growing water pollution problems mean trouble for the marine environment and for those who rely on it to make a living.

DON DEMARIA, FISHERMAN: There was a time when commercial fishermen were as common a sight along the waterfront as were the pelicans and the seagulls along Florida's coast. Now you travel around Florida and you have a hard time finding a working commercial fisherman.

PAWELSKI: Enter the proposed Tortugas Reserve, including part of the United States' only living coral reef, and key spawning grounds for grouper and other fish.

CARL SAFINA, LIVING OCEANS PROGRAM, NATL. AUDUBON SOCIETY: It's very simple. If you don't kill the fish, the fish grow up, they have more babies, there are more fish there. Not only are there more fish in the protected area, but then the young ones disperse.

PAWELSKI: The ecological reserve would be part of the 10-year- old Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, 2,800 square miles of water administered by the federal government. Over the years, the government's efforts to control what goes on there have upset some who work its waters.

HARVEY WATKINS, FISHERMAN: Whenever you start taking people's livelihoods away from them, or start messing with their livelihoods, people go -- you know, they don't conduct themselves too properly. I mean, hell, I've been fishing all my life and they keep pushing me further and further away and getting more and more rules and regulations.

PAWELSKI: But other fishermen say government regulation may be the only way to save their way of life.

DEMARIA: We keep seeing stock declines, and species being classified as overfished, and something has to change or the commercial fishermen will just be out of business due to lack of fish.

PAWELSKI: Don DeMaria is one of several commercial fishermen who joined environmentalists, scientists, and federal regulators in an effort to draw up plans for the ecological reserve. The proposal is to be made public in March.

PETER GLADDING, FISHERMAN: It's going to hurt at first to restructure the way we fish in the area that we lost. If it's a known spawning area and these fish get a chance to spawn without being disturbed, in the long run, it probably has a lot of pluses to it.

PAWELSKI: There are already a series of smaller no-take zones in the Florida Keys. Researchers say they're seeing larger, more plentiful fish in those areas. They hope the proposed Tortugas Reserve, which would be the second biggest in the world, will bring even bigger improvements.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN, in the Florida Keys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

BAKHTIAR: Today's "Worldview" is your passport to the animal kingdom. We'll take a boat ride down the Amazon to study alligators in Brazil. Then, we travel from South America to Spain, where pampered pets are truly blessed. Next stop, Italy, a beautiful country with an ugly problem: pollution. But our point of departure lies off the coast of Mexico, where gray whales are facing off against big business.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Whales are huge sea animals that look a lot like giant fish, but they differ from fish in many ways. Whales belong to the group of animals called mammals. They also have highly- developed brains and are among the most intelligent of all animals. Most whales are enormous. The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived. It can grow up to 100 feet, or 30 meters, long. Today, we look at another type of whale, the gray whale. Despite their imposing presence, some gray whales off the coast of California are facing a threat to their survival.

Denise Dillon explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a Pacific gray whale, and this lagoon on the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula is the last pristine breeding ground for Pacific gray whales. Laguna San Ignacio is also home to 72 animal species, many of them unique to the area, and it is the proposed site of one of these: a 116 square-mile salt mining plant.

The Mitsubishi Corporation and the Mexican government want to build the world's largest salt factory on the shores of Laguna San Ignacio. Environmentalists say the project would do irreparable damage to plant, animal and marine life. They say all you have to do is look to the north, to the city of Guerrero Negro, where a salt factory has been operating since 1954 to see how it can affect a fragile ecosystem.

Environmentalist and actor Pierce Brosnan says they can't let this happen.

PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR: I think vigilance is the word, because I think, you know, we're all going to go away tomorrow or this weekend, and I think it's keeping that communication open and making sure that the world at large knows about what's happening down here.

DILLON: Environmental groups are optimistic that they can stop the factory from being built.

ALBERTO SZEKELY, COALITION FOR THE PROTECTION OF WHALES (through translator): It is so evident that society has rejected it and it's so illegal. I am sure the plant will not be authorized.

DILLON: Mitsubishi says the salt works project is compatible with the animal life and the environment, but environmentalists don't buy it, and they're urging consumers not to buy Mitsubishi products until the company cancels plans to build the salt factory and leave the whales' breeding ground undisturbed.

Denise Dillon, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Next on the habitat horizon, reptiles which lurk in the murky waters of South America, among other places: alligators. Alligators may live for about 50 to 60 years. They dwell in lakes, swamps and rivers and swim by moving their tails from side to side. In winter, they remain underwater, burying themselves in mud or live deep in gator holes. Female alligators make nests and lay eggs. In about nine weeks the babies hatch. While waiting for them to emerge, the mother alligator hangs around to protect her eggs, and she protects her young for about a year after they're born.

We head to Brazil, where Marcela Rosa takes us along for a ride with scientists tracking these amazing and ancient reptiles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCELA ROSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anavilhanas is the world's second-largest fluvial archipelago. It's 80 kilometers from Manaus and the home of four species of alligators. Because of this biodiversity, the place was chosen to hold the biggest research about the Brazilian alligators.

Since 1991, the scientists have caught and marked 1,800 babies. Now, they are trying to recapture these creatures in order to study and analyze their reproduction and growth. The results will be used as the basis for the experimental project of alligator management in the Amazon.

RONIS DA SILVEIRA, RESEARCHER (through translator): It is an easily-accessed area mainly because of a lack of aquatic vegetation. This allows an easy access to all water conducts, making it very important to reach the alligators.

ROSA: We must wait until it's dark to find the animals. It's necessary to use flash lights and special instruments. Focusing from far, the red eyes on the margin of the river seem to be the same, but not to Ronis De Silveira, a researcher who has been working in this region for nine years.

DA SILVEIRA (through translator): The incubation period lasts three months. During this time, the female alligator stays by its nest, protecting it from predators. It can also go without food.

ROSA: The animals are captured with a type of wire. The scientist lets it kick and roll until it tires. It's time to immobilize the mouth and take it to the boat to be studied.

The black caiman can grow as long as six meters and is considered the noblest alligator in the continent. It has been in the risk of extinction list for more than 10 years. The project will propose sustainable exploitation in the wild. Each centimeter can be worth up to nine dollars. Up to 40 centimeters of skin can be taken from a single animal.

The Institute for Environmental Protection is choosing preservation areas to experiment on alligators in Brazil. It's planning to begin its project in two years' time.

(on camera): According to the plan, if the time to raise the babies is respected and only the male adults are hunted and killed, the ecosystem will not be damaged. The feared beast of the waters could become an ally to the residents of the region and help in the support of their families.

Marcela Rosa from Brazil, from Amazon Network for CNN "WORLD REPORT."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: More on animals as we travel to Europe, this time to peek at pets. For thousands of years, all kinds of animals have been kept as pets by people around the world. Dogs and cats are the most common. But many Japanese tame mice, and in India the mongoose may be a household pet. Our journey takes us to Spain to witness a tradition that dates from the 1700's: the blessing of pets.

Mark Armstrong has our tale.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK ARMSTRONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would be easy to think of this as a tale as pet dressing, and the flamenco outfit seems to be attracting the right kind of attention for this pooch, but these Spaniards have something far more spiritual on their mind: pet blessing.

Every year, people and their pious pets make the pilgrimage to St. Anthony's Cathedral in central Madrid to ensure that the blessed little animals end up prowling the sidewalks in heaven as it is on Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The saint protects the animals, and my dog wants to go with God.

ARMSTRONG: As with many things Spanish, it's more a party than anything else. Parrots can voice an opinion but ultimately have no choice but to make the holy sacrifice, emerging from the blessing to super-parrot celebrity status.

The dress to bless is as much for the owners as their pets. After the ceremony, the animals are paraded through the streets of Madrid to show off their sacred status. And for anyone who underestimates the power of this holy event, just remember this: "god" spelled backwards is dog.

Mark Armstrong, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: Our focus on the environment continues in "Worldview." We head to Italy, an advanced nation in Europe. Like all advanced nations, it has the markings of a developed economy and the hardships. With big cities come big car pollution problems. When fuel in the automobiles does not combust all the way, carbon monoxide is emitted from vehicle tailpipes. When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream of a human, it inhibits the blood's capacity to carry oxygen to organs and tissues.

Gayle Young looks at how that process has left Roman drivers in the driveway.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The streets of Rome were car-free and seemingly carefree as Italian cities launched an experimental ban on Sunday traffic. Private cars and motorcycles were prohibited from the city center. Public buses plied their usual routes but were free to all. Thousands of residents and tourists took to the streets. Many cyclists who would never dare bike through Rome's notorious traffic took advantage of the lull. And since it's carnival time, leading up to the Christian observance of Lent, some Roman children were allowed to do the unthinkable: play in the street.

Some 150 Italian cities took part in the program, including Milan, Florence and Rome, the state government providing millions of dollars to cover costs, like the need for increased patrols to enforce the ban.

Officials say they hope the car-free Sunday, which will be repeated once a month until May, will reduce pollution and promote public transport. Critics say the program is unlikely to lower air pollution more than 1 or 2 percent. But for those enjoying sunny weather and relative tranquility, the experiment seems worth repeating.

Gayle Young, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: In today's "Chronicle" segment, a preview of a big day for presidential hopefuls in the United States. Tomorrow, primary elections will be held across the U.S. including high-profile contests in delegate-rich New York and California. The 16 states holding elections represent 39-percent of the nation's population. More votes are likely to be cast tomorrow than on any other day in this race, except the general election on November 7th.

And just to give you a better idea of what's at stake, consider this: 1,315 Democratic delegates will be up for grabs. That's more than 60 percent of the 2,168 delegate votes needed for the Democratic nomination. And, 605 Republican delegates will be at stake; That's more than 58 percent of the 1,034 delegate votes needed for the GOP nomination.

One of the greatest challenges in tomorrow's primaries will be to get young voters out to the polls.

Jim Hill has this look at opportunity lost.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Marianne Iannotta (ph) knows a good chicken picatta when she tastes one, but the 22-year-old Los Angeles woman turned sour on presidential candidates.

MARIANNE IANNOTTA, CALIFORNIA VOTER: So I feel like I'm almost choosing the lesser of two evils by choosing one of the candidates.

HILL: A survey of California's so-called X and Y generations found only 15 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds paid a lot of attention to the campaigns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel negatively about a lot of the candidates.

HILL: Surveyors telephoned 700 young people and found 61 percent have watched more TV ads for dot.coms...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BIZRATE.COM COMMERCIAL)

NARRATOR: We rate e-business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: ... than for White House hopefuls.

BRENT MCGOLDRICK, NEGLECTION 2000 POLL: If Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue can figure out how to get to these young people, then it's about time the candidates did as well.

HILL: Here on the UCLA campus, students like Brian Fishman (ph) seem tuned in to the upcoming California primary.

BRIAN FISHMAN, STUDENT: I have more to gain by voting than someone that's 85 and, you know, only has 10 years left.

HILL: In our random sample, students favored candidates with an outsider image.

SEN. JOHN MCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So many Americans, especially young ones...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John McCain, he just has the most comprehensive ideas.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the most important role for the government to play is making a major investment in education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Bradley, because he really speaks to -- his message is really that we can become better.

HILL: The poll-takers say these students may not be typical of their generation. They point out an earlier survey done before the New Hampshire primary predicted a low turnout of young voters, and in fact a mere 25 percent of them wound up casting ballots.

MCGOLDRICK: I'd be shocked if turnout among Gen Xers in California came anywhere near 25 percent.

HILL: Unlike their parents' generation, which was motivated by political turbulence in the 1960s, the young simply have no compelling issue to galvanize them.

(on camera): But they do have numbers. According to poll-takers in California, just over one out of every five registered voters in California falls into generation X or Y. That's 3.2 million potential ballots in the nation's biggest presidential primary.

Jim Hill, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: And with everything going cyber these days, it was only a matter of time before voting would go virtual, too. On Tuesday, Arizona residents become the first to cast votes online in a legally- binding public election.

BAKHTIAR: It will be interesting to see how that goes.

JORDAN: Definitely.

BAKHTIAR: And they're off: man and beast racing across miles and miles of snow and ice.

JORDAN: The reason: the annual Iditarod Trail sled dog race, which started on Sunday. The course begins near Anchorage, Alaska, and ends 1,112 miles, that's 790 kilometers, later in Nome.

And with that, we'll see you tomorrow.

BAKHTIAR: Bye.

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