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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 16, 2000

Aired May 16, 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.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to this Tuesday edition of NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

From fighting in Africa to politics in the United States, today's show has lots in store, so let's get started.

In today's top story, freedom comes for some, but clashes rage on in Sierra Leone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray for a peaceful resolution to whatever is happening because we're all confused now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: Conflict is also the focus of today's "Health Desk," as American researchers work to predict your violent impulses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The search for ways to try to prevent student violence has almost become a cottage industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: We get more medical advice in "Worldview," when we travel to Asia to learn more about ancient Chinese medicine.

Finally, we return to the United States where American politics is getting wired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to the way reporters cover politics, why, the Internet revolution has truly arrived.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: Today's top story takes us to the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Rebels in that country have freed 139 of 500 captive United Nations peacekeepers, in addition to 18 others over the weekend. The peacekeepers were disarmed and taken into custody by Revolutionary United Front rebels this month. This as the rebels unilaterally ended a 10-month peace and restarted Sierra Leone's civil war.

In their eight-year campaign to seize power in Sierra Leone, they've killed tens of thousands of people. Last July, they signed a peace deal which gave rebel leaders government posts and amnesty for war crimes. The U.N. peacekeepers were sent to oversee that deal, and now the U.N. is trying to decide the future of its mission in Sierra Leone.

Richard Roth reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.N.'s director of peacekeeping received some promising news hours before briefing the U.N Security Council. Detained U.N. peacekeepers were released by rebel forces in Sierra Leone.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: As you can imagine, I'm relieved that 157 of the detainees have been released. We are working hard on getting all the others to freedom.

ROTH: The hostage troops could also provide explanations as to how they were taken in the first place. Several ambassadors raised the question with the peacekeeping director. And even a baffled U.N. secretary-general, in a weekend newspaper article, wondered how the Guinean battalions with hundreds of soldiers could be disarmed, losing armored personnel carriers without a shot fired.

ANNAN: These are questions that have been posed. I really do not know the facts. We've looked into it. I don't have the facts.

ROTH: The peacekeeping director praised Kenyan and Indian forces, noticeably leaving some nations out.

SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think there's a lot of understanding in the council for what the troop contributors have had to face. Remember, they've had to face the break down of an agreement, specifically with the RUF not fulfilling their obligations.

ROTH: U.N. military planners do think the U.N. is gaining the upper hand on the RUF, the rebel opposition.

BERNARD MIYER, U.N. DIRECTOR OF PEACEKEEPING: The RUF is on the defensive, and I think maybe demoralized.

ROTH: Yet large issues still remain. One European ambassador said there's still a lack of clarity on the military structure. If Nigeria, the previous international muscle there, sends soldiers back in, as Washington would like, will they fight under their national flag or as part of the U.N. force? And is the peace agreement signed with the man who inspired the uprising, rebel leader Foday Sankoh, still valid?

(on camera): Due to the rapid response to the crisis, the United Nations may end up with even more troops in Sierra Leone than originally approved by the Security Council -- 13,000. But unpredictable challenges from entrenched foes of law and order will still be lurking.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Violence is a major issue facing many of the world's people. Earlier, we updated you on the fighting in Sierra Leone. Yesterday, we filled you in on the Million Mom March for gun control in the United States. Now we want to address violence and you.

In the U.S., one in 12 high school students is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. Now researchers hope learning to predict violence may help to prevent it.

Jim Hill explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. RUSSELL COPELAN, TEST DEVELOPER: ... is the thought one can put an end to this insufferable anguish.

HILL (voice-over): Dr. Russell Copelan has been busy since the Columbine High School shootings speaking to students and parents about preventing violence. The retired Colorado psychiatrist says he's developed a test that can identify youngsters who are likely to commit violent acts.

COPELAN: These particular assessments represent that area of reasonable certainty, reasonable medical certainty in prediction of violent impulses.

HILL: Dr. Copelan's test asks children questions on issues of suicide, delinquency, violence and the ability to empathize, or feel for others. He says the test could have identified the serious danger posed by Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

But other mental health experts say predictive testing is not accurate and gives many false positives.

PETER GREENWOOD, RAND CORPORATION: To go in and try and identify kids who generally have pretty good records and some day are going to flip and then become violent when their record -- is really a needle in a haystack.

HILL (on camera): In the wake of school shootings here in Colorado, in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon, the search for ways to try to prevent student violence has almost become a cottage industry.

(voice-over): Mosaic 2000 is another predictive test developed by security specialist Gavin Debecker. Mosaic 2000 is being field tested in 10 Los Angeles County school districts.

WILLIAM YBARRA, LOS ANGELES SCHOOL DISTRICT: To really spend a lot of energy in a preventative manner, I think we'll certainly cut down on the number of problems that we have.

HILL: Critics say attempts to predict violence are an overreaction based on unrealistic fears. The U.S. Department of Education says schools remain the safest places for children. Overall, school crime has steadily dropped in the past five years with 90 percent of schools reporting no serious violence. But as one school administrator said, in terms of fear and apprehension, the year since Columbine has been like no other.

Jim Hill, CNN, Littleton, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: We'll have more health news later in "Chronicle." Here are clues to what we'll be talking about: They're invisible to the human eye, they have eight legs, and they may be making you sneeze. Can you guess what we're talking about? We'll fill you in later in "Chronicle."

Our focus in "Worldview" today is health. We'll visit China to check out traditional medicine. In Afghanistan, showy flowers get the heave ho in an effort to hurt the heroin trade. And in Ethiopia, the need for food continues as millions face drought and disaster.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Ethiopia is one of the world's oldest countries. It's situated on what's known as the Horn of Africa, or the continent's eastern-most tip. Throughout its history, Ethiopia has witnessed several transformations, from holding prominence on the world political stage to suffering through wars and famine.

Today, millions of Ethiopians risk starvation. Droughts have caused widespread food shortages. The government says it needs nearly a million tons of food aid from the international community to curb the starvation. Shipments have been promised from countries around the world, but they can only be moved so fast -- too late for many Ethiopians, as Ben Wedeman tells us.

And teachers may want to pre-screen this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One-year-old Fatima Ahmed (ph) died at dawn. By 8:00 in the morning, her grave was almost ready. According to Islamic tradition, the dead must be buried without delay. There is no one here to write out a death certificate for Fatima, but her father, Ibrahim (ph), says she died of a combination of hunger and illness.

Scores of children in the village of Chano Kabaan (ph), Somali for "small paradise," have died from the same causes. Ibrahim has done this many times before. Two of his children died on the 50-mile trek from their village to Chano Kabaan. And things have not gotten better since they arrived here 12 days ago.

"The day before yesterday, one of my children died," says Ibrahim. "And today you see this one who died this morning."

Ibrahim and his wife, Fadimo (ph), have seen eight of their 10 children die in the last eight years, all, they say, from hunger and illness. Their last surviving children, 4-year-old Mohammed and 2- year-old Abdelahi (ph), are hungry and ill.

(on camera): In recent weeks, hundreds of people have flocked to this remote village in the hopes of finding food, but there simply isn't enough food to go around.

(voice-over): More people arrive every day. Sahra Maalem Dhaher (ph) heard relief organizations are in Chano Kabaan. She fled her village of Gabro (ph) where the wells have run dry. Her husband is sick. They have no food left. But they won't find any here. The last supplies came in January. This village of several thousand people has never seen relief workers. Chano Kabaan is far off the beaten track, a forgotten dot in an isolated region.

The most destitute have settled on the outskirts of the village. Those inside seem to be surviving. Their supplies are holding out. Not all their livestock have died. Their children learn the Koran in the village's only school. The very real specter of famine has not altered this ancient tradition.

Saynaba Na'ar (ph) says only God can save her and her two children, 10-year-old Hassan (ph) and 5-year-old Halima (ph). Her husband left her after their livestock died. Saynaba and her children have had nothing to eat for the last three days. All they've had is some tea. She says they are too weak to walk to the nearest feeding center, so they will wait, she says, until God brings them food.

Some people have left Chano Kabaan and are walking to the town of Danan (ph), almost 30 miles away, where aid agencies have set up operations.

After sunset, another burial: Mohammed Abdelahi died at the age of 3. His 4-year-old sister Halima was buried two days before. Cause of death: hunger and illness.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Chano Kabaan, in Eastern Ethiopia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Now onto Afghanistan, a nation in southwestern Asia. It's one of the world's least developed countries. About 85 percent of Afghan workers earn their living in agriculture using old tools and methods. Some of the people are semi-nomadic, meaning they roam the grasslands with their livestock in the summer and spend the rest of the year farming.

In Afghanistan, opium poppy farmers are harvesting their crops, which has been a growing business under the Taliban rule. And as the plant that provides the raw drug for heroin has blossomed, international condemnation has grown; so has an eradication program.

Nick Robertson has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breaking new ground by destroying opium poppies, Taliban tractors begin eradicating a harvest that has brought them international condemnation. United Nations narcotics officials call it a breakthrough.

BERNARD FRAHI, U.N. DRUG CONTROL PROGRAM: It is significant because of the political decision that the Taliban took at the end of last year to eliminate the opium poppy, and today we see some positive results.

ROBERTSON: These fields, visible from the main highway, are those being targeted for this crackdown. But even if poppies are completely eradicated in this region, the destruction represents less than one percent of the total harvest -- a harvest that, last year, made Afghanistan the number-one world's poppy producer.

FRAHI: We were told that there would be one-third elimination this year in Afghanistan. We can witness only a certain portion of the territory. We'll know later on, you know, whether the elimination will have taken place in all of Afghanistan.

ROBERTSON: The Taliban say this crackdown proves its commitment to tackling the drug problem.

MULLAH HAMEED AKHUNZADA, TALIBAN NARCOTICS MINISTER (through translator): We assure the world community we'll fight against narcotics. Now it is up to the international world to look into the problems of the poverty-stricken Afghan.

ROBERTSON: During their five years in power, the Taliban have allowed poppy growth to escalate. They blame it on their war-ravaged economy that they have done little to rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Destruction of our crop will not solve the problem. The country needs industries so that farmers could find other employment.

ROBERTSON: U.N. officials believe the Taliban crackdown may make it easier for the Taliban to get international help tackling the drug problem. A lot is riding on this year's U.N. poppy report.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Next stop, China. It's capital, Beijing, was the scene of a recent conference on traditional Chinese medicine. Doctors from around the globe are showing renewed interest in China's alternative medical practices; things like acupuncture. It's an ancient practice, especially among the Chinese, of piercing parts of the body with needles to treat disease or to relieve pain. Acupuncturists must study to learn proper techniques and pressure points.

The medical conference addressed a wide range of issues, from new acupuncture techniques to ways to treat cancer and AIDS and even traditional medicine over the Internet. Participants could investigate the integration of Western and Chinese medicine.

Patty Tripathi (ph) has our report, which could bother you if you're squeamish about needles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATTY TRIPATHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Carlos Vaiba has been in China for more than three years now studying acupuncture as well as Chinese language and culture. The Venezuelan practices at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing.

DR. CARLOS VAIBA, CHINESE MEDICINE STUDENT: Well, there are big differences between Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Maybe -- in my opinion, maybe the biggest difference is the logic.

TRIPATHI: Understanding that logic is what brought thousands of medical experts from around the globe to the Beijing 2000 International Congress on Traditional Chinese Medicine. They hope to weigh in on herbal treatments and all the Chinese concepts of yin and yang -- the idea of opposing forces creating a balance.

Many doctors are intrigued by the results of acupuncture. Needles are inserted in key parts of the body to stimulate the flow of energy, allowing the body to return to its natural balance.

Dr. Gunnhild Vinje of Norway finds the technique especially useful in treating some diseases.

DR. GUNNHILD VINJE, NORWEGIAN PHYSICIAN: It's really helpful. It's helpful for so many diseases which the Western medicine cannot treat like, for example, many chronic diseases which is untreatable, according to the Western medicine. And also -- so, and also for the increasing number of allergic diseases.

TRIPATHI: The centuries-old technique is also being used to treat modern-day ailments, like stress and obesity. Doctors at the Hrushi Slimming Center (ph) near Beijing are using the procedure to try to help Liang Yong (ph), a 19-year-old who weighs 360 kilos, or nearly 800 pounds. Although it looks like an extreme case, doctors say the technique has shown positive results.

DR. LI SHILIANG, ACUPUNCTURE SPECIALIST (through translator): These days, there are a lot of diseases which Western medicine cannot treat properly, but which responds very well to traditional Chinese medicine, especially acupuncture.

TRIPATHI: Although no one knows exactly how it works, the World Health Organization says acupuncture could be used to treat 57 groups of symptoms, including pain, paralysis and chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Dr. Vaiba, who was trained in Western medicine, hopes tapping into ancient Chinese medical secrets will give him an edge in treating modern ailments.

Patty Tripathi, 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: When you go to sleep at night, you may be sharing your covers with millions of tiny insects that feed on your dead skin cells. What are these little critters? Well, they're invisible to the human eye, have eight legs and are highly allergic. Do you know the answer? It's dust mites. And if you're among the 67 million people who have allergies or asthma, these close cousins of the spider could greatly affect how you feel in the morning.

CNN Student Bureau's Heather Willis explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEATHER WILLIS, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Tony Tameron can finally enjoy traveling for business now that a hotel offers him relief from his allergies. His symptoms started four years ago.

TONY TAMERON, ALLERGY SUFFERER: The basic runny nose, the headaches, actually even some of the feelings like congestion in the chest.

WILLIS: He had allergies that affected him both outdoors and indoors.

TAMERON: You know, it's tough to meet clients when you're sneezing and coughing and, you know, big swollen eyes.

WILLIS: And it was even harder for Tony when he had to stay in hotel rooms.

TAMERON: It's that everything gets into those fibers and the dust and it's just in the accumulation of, you know, one layer over another, over another.

WILLIS: What Tony didn't know is that his allergic reactions were not just caused by the dust, but what resided in the dust: the feces of tiny insects called dust mites.

Allergies caused by dust mites are a problem Dr. Kathleen Sheerin treats frequently.

DR. KATHLEEN SHEERIN, ALLERGIST: They'll often say, I'm worse in the morning than I am after I've been at work for several hours, and the reason is that the dust mites live in upholstered furniture; they love mattresses and pillows; they like a warm, moist environment.

WILLIS: So how do you get rid of dust mites?

SHEERIN: The best way to prevent dust mites is to keep the humidity low at home. If there's a moisture problem in the house, you can use a dehumidifier. Keeping the mattress, pillow and box spring covered with specialized dust mite covers is really critical, and washing the bedding in hot water.

WILLIS: Prevention is the bottom line, and that is exactly what one Windgate Inn offers to people like Tony who suffer from allergies.

BURGES JOKHI, WINDGATE INN: One of the main things was hardwood floors because carpet holds a lot of dust mites and dust and pollen. And then anything that's left over can be picked up by a HEPA filter.

TAMERON: I've been in it ever since. I mean, it just makes the day so much easier to get started, and you sleep better and, you know, breathe better.

WILLIS: Tony isn't alone. There are many who have these symptoms and don't know dust mites are causing their problems. But once realized, it's a problem that can be readily fixed.

Heather Willis, CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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 plan. 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.

WALCOTT: It used to be the measure of a truly connected household was whether or not you had a microwave or a color TV. These days, you have to have computers, e-mail, cell phones, pagers and faxes. A "Wired" magazine survey finds a third of Americans are "very wired," meaning they use four or more high technologies. Almost half are "somewhat wired," meaning they use just one sort of technology. A quarter are "not wired" at all.

In today's segment of "Democracy in America," Frank Sesno looks at how the wired culture plays into the political landscape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO (voice-over): In many ways, the Internet's impact on the 2000 campaign has been limited. Direct mail still beats e-mail; donations are much more likely to come in as checks than online credit card donations. But when it comes to the way reporters cover politics, why, the Internet revolution has truly arrived. The old morning paper/evening news cycle has been blown away. News is now instant, and so is the response, as we discovered in a roundtable discussion with the press secretaries from the McCain and Bradley campaigns and some of the reporters who covered them.

HOWARD OPINSKY, MCCAIN PRESS SECRETARY: What I found is because you can see so much media in one sitting online -- and, again, it's not just the "Salon"s and "Slate"s, it's everything -- that speeds up the whole pace of the echo chamber.

ERIC HAUSER, BRADLEY PRESS SECRETARY: One of the major differences this cycle is that everybody's online. So the "Post" -- I mean, we're out in Seattle and you don't get the "Washington Post" in Seattle -- newspaper -- but you get it online and you get it, you know, at the hour of the day you need it.

SESNO: With everyone online, the competition between news outlets has never been more intense, offering sites with relatively few readers to compete with the big guns. Case in point, Salon.com's in-depth look at the history of Bob Jones University.

JAKE TAPPER, SALON.COM: That story goes up February 3. The hotline links to it, other political sites link to it, and by one week later the story is bigger than it was that day.

SESNO: And while the print editions of the big national newspapers may be technological dinosaurs, their Web sites most certainly are not. The "Washington Post"'s online midday edition is up-to-date, up-to-the-minute and influential.

CECI CONNOLLY, "WASHINGTON POST": The campaigns are using those Web editions to sort of jump in the mix, so that if you put a Gore story on our Web site at noon or 1:00 p.m., I'd often very soon thereafter get a call from Eric saying, "We want to be in that Web story."

I don't think we've quite reached the point where campaigns are leaking you things for your Web, but I expect...

HAUSER: You have.

(LAUGHTER)

CONNOLLY: I'm showing my age.

HAUSER: We did that. I mean, we purposely tried to get stories into the midday Web cycles.

SESNO: The press secretaries' mission: use the early online reports to anticipate problems and head them off early, before they blow up on the evening newscasts and in the morning papers. But some of our panelists saw potential danger in the self-referential, inside- baseball world of Internet political reporting, that many Americans will be left out.

E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": What's not clear at all is that all this great information we have is doing anything to improve the political dialogue to make it easier for voters to make decisions, and in a funny way may be contributing to the "ghettoization," where politics becomes only a hobby for junkies, and then that's not democratic anymore.

Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: And we continue looking at the road to the White House next Tuesday. NEWSROOM's Andy Jordan looks at party conventions: What role do they play? Who are the delegates and how are they chosen? We'll answer those questions plus look at the conventions' evolution and their function in the political culture of today. That's a week from today as we continue our look at "Democracy in America."

And that's it for today's show. Have a great Tuesday.

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