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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 8, 2000

Aired May 8, 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: A new week here on NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Haynes.

We begin today's show on the African continent.

In today's top story, tensions peak in Sierra Leone as the fate of hundreds of hostages hang in the balance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The events of the past several days have been very traumatic for our people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: In "Environment Desk," the largest and oldest living things on Earth lend themselves to the making of a monument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ART GAFFREY, SEQUOIA FOREST SUPERVISOR: I have yet to have anybody go up and visit the large monarchs and not be emotionally moved by their grandeur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: We head to Mexico for "Worldview" where the protection of a reserve is coming at the cost of its people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERGE DEDINA, WILDCOAST: It's an amazing landscape in which you find pronghorn antelopes next to gray whale calving lagoons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: Then in "Chronicle," his cousin Mikhail painted a new picture for Russian politics when he came to power. Years later, this Gorbachev depicts the Russia he remembers on canvas.

We're going to begin today in Sierra Leone. For the past two decades, the West African nation has been plagued by political instability. Today, we focus on the dispute between Sierra Leone's government and a sizable rebel faction. Over the past week, nearly 500 United Nations peacekeepers have been captured by the rebels. The U.N. says some of them are free, but it's uncertain whether they escaped or were released. In what it calls a precautionary measure, Britain is sending in hundreds of troops.

Britain took over Sierra Leone in 1808 to fight against the slave trade. After World War II, the British government gave up control and a democratic government was formed. Now, since 1968, Sierra Leone has deteriorated. Political instability has led to corruption and a bloody civil war.

The latest uprising has prompted the evacuation of hundreds of civilians, including aid workers and missionaries. We have two reports today, beginning with some background on the rebel offensive from Suzanna Anderson. And teachers may want to pre-screen this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNA ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Revolutionary United Front rebels first made their appearance in 1991 when troops took up arms against what they considered a corrupt government. In 1996, elected president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah signed a peace treaty with the RUF. Less than one year later, he was ousted in a military coup by army Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma, who allied his forces with the rebels.

In 1998, a West African peacekeeping force known as ECOMOG and led by Nigeria arrived to defend Kabbah's government. It eventually forced the rebels and the military junta to flee the capital for the interior of the country. In 1998, the rebels launched a lightning attack on the capital using civilians as human shields to drive the peacekeepers back. Images of that conflict define the current situation in Sierra Leone.

The rebels, under the leadership of Foday Sankoh, hacked the arms and legs off civilians to, by their own admission, make the war so terrible the civilians and the international community would surrender. As many as 5,000 died in the Freetown offensive.

President Kabbah had little choice but to sign a peace treaty called the Lome Agreement that gave Sankoh and the rebels a place in a power-sharing government. That treaty made Foday Sankoh vice president in exchange for a pledge to disarm his forces and cease attacks on innocent civilians.

With that deal in place, the United Nations Security Council voted to send in peacekeepers to work with ECOMOG to make sure the treaty held up. While the U.N. began deploying, the Nigerian ECOMOG forces began a withdrawal.

Few doubted that it was only the Nigerian presence that had prevented Sankoh from seizing the country. Unlike the Nigerians, U.N. forces are neither equipped nor inclined to battle the rebels head on. As soon as the Nigerian force had completed its withdrawal, the first clashes took place and U.N. peacekeepers were taken hostage.

Suzanna Anderson, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With its peacekeepers held hostage, the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone and the future of even African-led peacekeeping on the continent hung in the balance. By name, the U.N. secretary-general, regional and international leaders heaped blame on Foday Sankoh. But speaking with CNN, the RUF chairman denied it.

FODAY SANKOH, CHAIRMAN, REVOLUTIONARY UNITED FRONT: This is all false. It's a public issue. The area was loaded with great disarm -- dismay on the pleasant attitudes of the Elosmil (ph) peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone which are against the terms and spirit of the Lome Peace Agreement.

CLANCY: The United Nations and Sankoh's critics say it is the RUF that is defying the peace accord, refusing to disarm and threatening to plunge the country into conflict. The hostage crisis prompted opposition politicians in Kenya to call for their peacekeepers to be brought home.

DAVID MWENJE, KENYAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I would say that it is time that we recall them for now and reassess again the situation because if we are fighting a losing battle, if we are fighting a battle that you do not see getting anywhere, then there is no need to have our people losing their lives.

CLANCY: Sankoh, though revered by his followers, has a long record of stalling on disarmament and of confrontation with U.N. troops. He suspects the U.N. and others are trying to undermine his movement. Journalists, peacekeepers and political activists say Sankoh wants to keep thousands of well-armed fighters to intimidate voters ahead of next year's presidential elections. Sankoh played down the seriousness of the current situation, insisting the peace deal is still alive.

SANKOH: The accord still holds. We are still committed to the accord and even to disarmament. What I'm saying, the constraint we are facing in this disarmament, we still stand on the Lome Peace Accord. We are committed. These are just isolated incidents.

CLANCY: Jim Clancy, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Also in the news, a changing of the guard in Russia. At his inauguration, President Vladimir Putin pledged to restore his country's power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russia has passed the test, its new president says, by transferring power from one leader to another by a constitution for the first time in history.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): I call for a free, prosperous, strong, civilized and proud Russia which enjoys the pride of its citizens and the respect of the world.

HARRIGAN: Mr. Putin took the oath in the Grand Kremlin Palace in front of Russia's political elite. He shared the podium with his one- time boss, Boris Yeltsin.

BORIS YELTSIN, FORMER RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are proud that this is taking place without any revolution or coup d'etat in a peaceful, respectful and dignified manner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Now we see that someone young has come to power. I hope that under him Russia becomes the kind of country that we and our children can be proud of.

HARRIGAN: To do that, Mr. Putin says his first goal will be to raise the standard of living of ordinary Russians.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: Also in the headlines, at the end of the weekend the FBI said it was hopeful Philippine authorities were closing in on a prime suspect in the spread of last week's "ILOVEYOU" computer virus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five days after it first struck, the "Love Bug" and its copycats are still zooming around in cyberspace ready to smack the next unsuspecting reader.

GENE HODGES, NETWORK ASSOCIATES: No, we're not done. We're probably going to see copycats for the next couple of weeks.

LEFEVRE: As people return to their computers this week, the cautions remain: Don't open strange e-mail, especially those with subject lines "ILOVEYOU," "Fwd: Joke," "Mother's Day" or "Virus Alert."

Other warning signs include multiple copies of any e-mail and any attachment that ends in "VBS." VBS is visual basic, a very common programming language that this virus program is written in.

HODGES: If you get e-mails that you're really not expecting -- they might look like chain letters or joke letters or whatever -- if you're not expecting them, why don't you wait a couple of days to open them up if you don't need them in your job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: In today's "Environment Desk," we head to the woods to learn about giant sequoias. The giant sequoia is the only species within its genus. In other words, there isn't any variation, just one kind of giant sequoia. Sequoias are thought to be the largest trees ever to inhabit the Earth. They grow to a height of 250 feet; some even higher than 300 feet. That's taller than a football field is long.

Now, sequoias can live up to 2,000 to 3,000 years, and they actually need forest fires to eliminate their competition and clear the ground for giant sequoia saplings. Their bark is one- to two-feet thick to protect them from fire ants. Sequoias only grow in 75 isolated groves scattered throughout the Western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas in Central California, along a narrow band that's 15 miles wide and 260 miles long.

Jim Hill takes us to the Sequoia National Forest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are called "monarchs of the forest," the giant sequoias, believed to be the largest and oldest living things on Earth.

MARTIN LITTON, CONSERVATIONIST: The sequoia is so majestic and so colorful with its rich, red bark and its blue-green foliage that's gone through all the storms, and the earthquakes, the fires, everything that can be thrown at it, for periods longer, in some cases, than we consider civilization has existed.

HILL: Measuring up to 30 feet across and weighing 600 tons, some sequoias have been rooted in the rich soil of California's Southern Sierra for 3,000 years. These have been off-limits to logging for decades. But President Clinton is expected to give them more protection by creating a 355,000-acre national monument around them.

GAFFREY: I've yet to have anybody go up and visit the large monarchs and not be emotionally moved by their grandeur.

HILL (on camera): Just about everyone you talk with seems to favor protecting these giants of the forest. But a lot of people who live and work in this area say doing so with a national monument would be a giant mistake.

(voice-over): The monument would ban logging in the forests surrounding the sequoias. It's an area this sawmill relies on for 30 million board feet of pine fir and cedar each year; enough to build 3,000 homes and employ more than 100 people.

KIRBY MOLEN, SEQUOIA FOREST INDUSTRIES: One of the manufacturing complexes is in jeopardy of closing.

JAMES ERB, WORKER: If they shut this forest down, then it's not just for myself, but everybody you see out here is going to be out of work.

HILL: The National Resources Defense Council says the new monument will help the trees and the local economy. ANDREW WETZLER, NATL. RESOURCE DEFENSE COUNCIL: We expect that there's going to be an increase in jobs from increase in tourism. We think that having a national monument is something that's going to draw people to the southern Sierras.

HILL: But in nearby towns like Porterville, nearly all local politicians have opposed the new monument. There is frustration that the 1906 Antiquities Act allows presidents to create monuments without the OK of Congress, in this case creating new controversy over the oldest trees on Earth.

Jim Hill, CNN, Sequoia National Forest, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

HAYNES: Creatures and creations are the focus of "Worldview" today. We'll head to Africa, South America and Latin America to check out wildlife and exotic styles. In South Africa, we'll spotlight traditions that are turning into trends. We'll hit the runways and visit the villages. In Argentina, we take a trip to the zoo where a dentist faced a daunting challenge. And in Mexico, we head to a haven for animals.

JORDAN: We begin in a scenic spot: the Laguna San Ignacio, in Baja California, Mexico. It's a place which shows that industry, whales and humans can coexist. We head to the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. Like others in Mexico, it has three goals: conservation, training and sustainable human development compatible with conservation. Unlike national parks, biosphere reserves allow people to continue to live in protected areas. The local community is encouraged to participate in the protection of wildlife.

Whales are some of the important wildlife in the region peacefully coexisting with people. The gray whale was hunted nearly to extinction twice within the past two centuries. In 1947, they were placed on the endangered species list and whaling ceased. But they are a success story of the conservation movement. They have grown in numbers from the low 100s in the 1940s to about 26,000 today.

Our destination today: a nursery lagoon. Gary Strieker takes us to the biosphere reserve, an area of genuine biological diversity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On this small island in a lagoon, hundreds of ospreys build their nests. Nowhere else do they concentrate in such numbers, in a place with no predators to endanger their chicks. Keeping watch over this island and others for more than 15 years, honorary warden Francisco Mayoral (ph).

He says nothing is more important in this reserve than protecting places where species reproduce. That's the main reason why Mexico's Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve has drawn the world's attention. Inside the reserve, Laguna San Ignacio is the last undisturbed refuge where Pacific gray whales migrate every year to mate and give birth.

Because of growing concern that the uniqueness of the reserve might be affected, the Mexican government and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation canceled their plans to extend a huge salt production works into the reserve's buffer zone. That was a major victory for conservationists who had campaigned to save the integrity of this wilderness.

DEDINA: The Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve is the most important protected area in Mexico. It's an amazing landscape in which you find pronghorn antelopes next to gray whale calving lagoons where sea turtles feed. You find bighorn sheep. You find plants that exist nowhere else on Earth.

STRIEKER: And covering more than 2 1/2 million hectares, some 6 million acres, much bigger than El Salvador or Israel, the Vizcaino Reserve is Latin America's largest protected area.

WALLACE NICHOLS, WILDCOAST: This reserve is huge. It extends from the Gulf of California all the way to the Pacific. And that's kind of a new thing in reserve design. Scientists now know that by protecting large areas, we protect the processes that -- ecological processes that are important to maintaining biodiversity.

STRIEKER: But there are continuing threats to the survival of wildlife here, like the poaching of sea turtles. Thousands of people live inside the reserve, most of them fishermen and ranchers. And conservationists say the future of the reserve depends on finding ways to improve the lives of these people, while at the same time preserving this special landscape and its living resources, a strategy that is now official policy.

As a result of the cancellation of the salt works expansion, a development that would have created 200 more jobs here, the Mexican government has announced it will launch a new development plan for the area, a plan based on nature-friendly activities like eco-tourism and fishing. That could mean more government support for the reserve. Until now, with minimal government funding, the reserve has depended mostly on private corporate donations and on the dedication of volunteers.

Gary Strieker, CNN, in the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: On to Argentina, the second largest country in South America. It occupies most of the southern part of the continent. Buenos Aires is Argentina's capital and largest city, and its leading center of industry, trade and culture. But our story today takes place at the Lujan Zoo. We head into the lion's den, or actually the lion's mouth.

Meet Leo the lion -- there he is -- one of the most popular residents at the Lujan Zoo. The 5-year-old feline developed two cavities in his massive teeth, and that presented a dental dilemma. Who wants to make a house call for these jaws? A local dentist rose to the challenge and was able to fill the cavities just like your dentist would do. Yikes -- check out the bite on that beast.

All went well for Leo and the dentist. Despite his dental ordeal, veterinarians say the animal has not lost his appetite. He's eating an average of 15 kilograms of meat per day.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: We turn now to South Africa, a country at the southern tip of the African continent. The country has a wealth of natural resources and is the most highly industrialized country in Africa. But South Africa has been troubled by violence and isolated by other countries because of its racial policies. It was the last nation in Africa ruled by a white minority.

From the 1940s until the 1990s, the white-controlled government enforced a policy of racial segregation. This policy was called apartheid. It denied voting rights and other privileges to the black majority. In 1990 and 1991, South Africa did away with the last of its apartheid laws. And in 1993, the country extended voting rights to all races. In 1994, Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president. And four years ago today, the country adopted a new constitution which includes a wide-ranging bill of rights.

Since the end of apartheid, South Africans have been discovering all kinds of new freedom. Charlayne Hunter-Gault tells us about one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a freedom that seen here on the runways of South Africa, the product of young imaginations freed from constraint of apartheid.

CAMBRIDGE HABANA, FASHION DESIGNER: I was never in a designing classroom.

HUNTER-GAULT: Free to be proud of the countries many cultures.

BONGA BHENGU, FASHION DESIGNER: I use the Zulus, Venda and Tonga (ph). I like to mix up those cultures together.

HUNTER-GAULT: Free enough to be confident.

HABANA: Where I come from, people don't know so much about fashion. So when I come up with something new, some of them laugh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Africa is beautiful.

HUNTER-GAULT: As beautiful as these women from the rural areas of the country, women who until now have been a part of a neglected legacy that even South Africans have kept hidden in their villages; women who've been beading all their lives with little, if anything, to show for it except at home.

URSULA JOHNSON, CULTURE TO COUTURE PROMOTER: If we go home to the farms, we get dressed that way. But when we leave and drive away to the cities, we start getting into Western clothes.

HUNTER-GAULT: But know they say they don't have to do it anymore. They still have the traditional, but emerging new designers have found partners in the traditional women who add something old to help create something new.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Etcha Beck (ph), she's finished off with green, which, in the Ndebele culture, is a green future for our country, our new democracy and for her life and her future and her family.

FRANCINA MOTJOADI, CULTURAL ACTIVIST/HISTORIAN: This is part of cultural reawakening in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) country, especially at this time of Africa renaissance, if not Africa revolution.

HUNTER-GAULT (on camera): These Ndebele craft women are part of a project, Culture to Couture, aimed not only at encouraging South Africans to wear their own, but also aimed at a larger world, a world that they hope will buy their creations; creations that will keep them from traveling so far from home; creations that will create jobs that will help keep them, their families and their tradition alive.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: We'll have more on South Africa later this week. Wednesday, we'll visit a youth center where young lawbreakers get a second chance as they learn new skills to build a better future.

ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plans. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

HAYNES: Students of history should be familiar with the name Mikhail Gorbachev. Remember him? He was president of the Soviet Union in 1990 and '91, and general-secretary of the country's Communist Party from '85 to '91. Now there's another Gorbachev making an international name for himself, but this time home base is New York City instead of Moscow, and his field isn't politics, it's art.

Our Phil Hirschkorn has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His images make you think "Russia." So does his name, Gorbachev. But the artist is not the former Soviet Union leader Mikhail; rather, his cousin, Yuri.

YURI GORBACHEV, PAINTER: My name opens the door, make attention. Anyway, I more appreciate it if people enjoy my art, not just my name.

HIRSCHKORN: Yuri Gorbachev lived in Russia until 1991 when Mikhail Gorbachev dissolved the Soviet Union and left office.

GORBACHEV: The time I was in Russia, this time was very -- not for artists, actually, maybe for politicians.

HIRSCHKORN: Yuri left his homeland for the United States, but his homeland stayed in his art: the contrast between colorful buildings and white snow, the distinct architecture, the winter festivals and the history -- a series of pictures on Russian Czars, including the last one, Nicholas II and his family.

GORBACHEV: A lot of painting from inspiration from my country because I have strong roots. I was born in the oldest city in my country.

HIRSCHKORN: Yuri's nostalgic depiction of his 2,000-year-old hometown outside St. Petersburg is like a view from his old window. His paintings often feature carnivals and clowns, partly influenced by his mother, Nina, who, when imprisoned by former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was forced to make puppet and clown costumes.

Yuri's work is now seen throughout the world, as far away as Indonesia, a favorite place for him to travel and paint. His art will be on display this summer in more than a dozen American galleries from New York to California. It hangs in museums from the Louvre in Paris to the Kremlin museum in Moscow. Even the White House has a piece.

GORBACHEV: People who bought my art, who collect my art, that's very unique, special people, not snobby, not pretentious, coming from the heart. They like color very much, composition.

HIRSCHKORN: Yuri's compositions employ an unusual technique. He starts with oil paint on canvas, then adds varnish and gold leaf. A critic once wrote that Yuri's art looks like stained glass on paintings.

GORBACHEV: I think my paintings, they have very positive energy, and I would like to make people happy. That's my main idea, my message. Like, you know, I like to make people happy.

HIRSCHKORN: An artist whose attitude is as bright as his palette.

Phil Hirschkorn, CNN NEWSROOM, New York City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Another Gorbachev with a lot of talent.

Listen, before we go, a young artist -- speaking of talent -- who has a flair for song and strong windpipes. Many believe this 16-year- old is well on her way to a cowboy's heart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She brings emotion to the songs. I started shaking at the concert, actually, and I started to cry, which surprised me because I've never been to a concert where that's happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: Join us on Thursday when we profile this young singing sensation.

All right, guys. I'm going to sign off from here. Have a great rest of the day, and we'll see you right back here tomorrow. Take care.

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