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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for August 30, 2000

Aired August 30, 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.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Wednesday's NEWSROOM is under way. Welcome. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes. Today we travel from Africa to South America and the former Soviet Union. Here's a preview.

BAKHTIAR: Our top story finds U.S President Clinton taking the war on drugs to Colombia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Clinton is coming here to fire the starting gun war. And we say that signal won't affect him or his family or the majority of Americans. It will affect us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYNES: Our "Daily Desk" today takes a turn into the world of personal finance and asks, Why buy when you can share?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH BENNETT, ZIPCAR CUSTOMER: I'm saving somewhere between $75 to $100 a month and the car really is available when I need it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: "Worldview" shifts into high gear with a whirlwind tour of Russia. We'll visit a country estate, hunt for safe mushrooms, and get a little divine guidance.

HAYNES: Then, we end up chronicling your scholastic aptitude.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON WILLIAMS, PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: As far as me being a good student and being competitive, I need to, like, do well on the SAT in order to get into a good school.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BAKHTIAR: In today's top story, U.S. President Clinton's latest round of diplomacy abroad. Today, Mr. Clinton heads to the South American country of Colombia to show U.S. support for the fight against drugs. Colombia is plagued with a rampant narcotics trade, which has led to a spate of murders in that country.

Before heading home to the United State and then back overseas to Colombia, the president wrapped up his tour of Africa with a brief stop in Cairo, Egypt yesterday. There, he met with President Hosni Mubarak to ask for Egypt's help in pursuing a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

But today it will be Colombia looking for help from the United States. The U.S. government plans to send $1 1/2 billion to Colombia in the next two years to help in the war against drug traffickers and anti-government guerrillas.

Major Garrett reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caught between narcotraffickers, paramilitaries and Marxist guerrillas, Colombia bleeds.

SAMUEL BERGER, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Colombia's people are engaged in a life-or-death struggle to preserve their democracy.

GARRETT: Drug profits fuel guerrilla offensives. Paramilitaries battle the guerrillas for drug money, and common criminals flourish in the chaos. On average, one Colombian is murdered every 20 minutes. Seventeen died this weekend. Guerrillas and paramilitaries were blamed.

BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. DRUG POLICY DIRECTOR: I think they've grown to tolerate a level of violence that's almost unimaginable in the United States.

GARRETT: Public support for Colombian President Andres Pastrana has plummeted, and peace talks with the guerrillas have gone nowhere. Meanwhile, drug trafficking soars, cocaine production up 140 percent in three years. Heroin production is also up.

MYLES FRECHETTE, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO COLOMBIA: The guerrillas now, in addition to getting money from kidnapping and extortion and bank robbery, get some money from the narcotraffickers. What do the narcotraffickers do for them? Well, the narcotraffickers pay for protection. The guerrillas protect their cocoa plantations and poppy plantations.

GARRETT: The U.S. hopes the arrival of 60 new helicopters will give Colombia the mobility and firepower to suppress the guerrillas and eradicate drug crops. Human rights groups say military and paramilitary atrocities are common. Congress conditioned U.S. aid on human rights advances, but the White House waived the requirements. SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: We said that they had to improve the criminal justice system, they had to make sure that if military were charged with serious crimes, they'd be charged in a civilian court, not in a military court. None of that's been done.

GARRETT: Administration officials argue Pastrana needs time to tame the military.

ARTURO VALENZUELA, U.S. SPECIAL ASST. TO THE PRESIDENT, LATIN AMER. AFFAIRS: Precisely because these are long-term issues it's not easy for them to be dealt with in a short period of time.

GARRETT (on camera): White House officials say it will take five years to help Colombia win its war. Other experts say it will take twice that long and cost billions more in U.S. aid. Either way, the next president will inherit Colombia's uphill fight for survival.

Major Garrett, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Incidentally, more than 5,000 soldiers and police, 350 U.S. Secret Service agents, helicopter gunships and Navy patrol boats have been sent to Cartagena to protect President Clinton. Diplomatic sources say selecting Cartagena over the capital, Bogota, reflects the government's lack of full control over the city.

While the money the United States is giving Colombia is designed to help the country combat paramilitary and guerrilla forces, there are communities in Colombia that have taken matters into their own hands to uplift their own lives.

Steve Nettleton has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE NETTLETON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Learning to braid ribbon at a dressmaking class, women in one of Colombia's most violent cities hope to untangle their families from war. They have no job and no savings, but with the skills they master here, many hope to start their own businesses, maybe send their kids away to school and get them out of a neighborhood where they'll otherwise likely end up joining armed gangs.

In this run-down barrio in Colombia's oil center, Barrancabermeja, the people, caught between leftist guerrillas, right- wing paramilitaries and deep poverty, struggle to make ends meet.

GUILLERMINA HERNANDEZ, COMMUNITY LEADER (through translator): If we don't have a job, we don't have food, we can't have an education. We don't achieve anything without a job.

NETTLETON: Seven years ago, Guillermina Hernandez and eight other poor, unemployed women set in motion a program that is bringing fresh hope to the community. By pooling together 500 pesos apiece, they found they could buy more groceries than they needed. They sold the surplus and saved the profits. Before long, more families joined and a local church and a humanitarian aid organization chipped in.

Today, 44 families are part of the program named Merquemos Juntos, or "let's shop together." They run a small store in their neighborhood, offer free soup to area children, and teach job skills, like dressmaking. They've also established a scholarship fund to send students to high school and university, a gift Carlotta Ruiz Diaz (ph) considers a miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): One of my daughters is going to finish university, and for me this is very important, because I never would have thought that one of my children could go to university. For me, this is a big dream. I'm still dreaming.

NETTLETON: An hour's boat ride away, another story of hope. For decades, landowners in this region have cashed in on the lucrative palm oil business. But for poor farm laborers, it remained tantalizingly out of reach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was a program only for those who had money. The landowners wouldn't give us the opportunity to have such a business so we could do better. Simply, if you had money, you could grow palm.

NETTLETON: With nowhere else to turn, many peasants enlisted with guerrilla or paramilitary groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In some sectors of society, those without work, sometimes they have to join armed groups to earn a salary to be able to survive.

NETTLETON: Then a respected Catholic priest stepped in with an idea. He persuaded owners to allow peasants to grow small plots of African palm on their land, and to end the monopoly of the local processing plant. Fifty families eagerly signed on to the program, which they named "Project Hope." Now, a year later, the first saplings are ready to be planted.

(on camera): For the peasants working here who have long felt ignored by the wealthy landowners and by the government, the project offers a commodity in short supply in the middle Magdalena: opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believe that I'm going to be able to have a retirement from this program. My children will have a place to work. They will have an income. And maybe they will be able to start studying at university. It's possible.

NETTLETON (voice-over): For the first time, peasants here feel they're planting seeds of hope in a field of war.

Steve Nettleton, CNN, Barrancabermeja, Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We want to bring you up to speed on a story we brought you yesterday: the Millennium Peace Summit in New York. Religious figures from around the world addressed the summit and agreed their faiths could be used to help curb global wars.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drumbeats from Nigeria set day two of the Millennium Peace Summit off and dancing inside the usual still life of the U.N. Then, religious and spiritual leaders from around the world, many from faiths that don't always get along, received a scolding from the political world's senior diplomat.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Religious leaders have not always spoken out when their voices could have helped combat hatred and persecution, or could have roused people from indifference.

ROTH: The top Islam speaker defended the use of force.

ABDULLAH AL-OBAID, SECRETARY GENERAL, WORLD MUSLIM LEAGUE (through translator): Although Islam hates violence and denounces it, it gives the right to self-defense and to face aggression.

ROTH: They certainly look and sound different from one another, but they share a vision.

L.M. SINGHVI JAIN, SCHOLAR: A call to dialogue at this summit is a call for building bridges between different faith traditions.

RABBI ADIN STEINSALTZ: There are many people here that don't agree with the theologies, but we can sit together, we can talk together, and we can be at peace.

ROTH: The keynote speaker, the event sponsor, issued a plea.

TED TURNER, VICE CHAIRMAN, TIME WARNER: It's time to get rid of hatred, it's time to get rid of prejudice, it's time to have love and respect and tolerance for each other.

ROTH (on camera): With speeches and prayers behind them, the religious leaders leave the United Nations for a nearby hotel and closed-door sessions. After confronting their differences, the leaders now will put together a doctrine calling for an end to conflicts, the kind that affects so many people of all faiths. However, praying for world peace is one thing; having those prayers answered is quite another.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Now, we all know how the high school years can sometimes put an emphasis on status symbols: what kind of clothes you wear, what clubs you're in. And there's the inevitable coming of age choice: what kind of vehicle you drive when you get your license.

It's an expensive prospect these days. AAA estimates it will cost you almost 50 cents a mile to drive a car when factoring in gas and upkeep. If you drive 15,000 miles this year, you'll spend around $7,400 on related expenses. That's up more than $300 since last year.

What do all those numbers spell for some auto-weary city dwellers? Share.

Valerie Morris explains why they're taking their moms' advice when it comes to driving.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALERIE MORRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Owning and keeping a car in a major city can be a great expense and a huge hassle, and public transportation can be very limiting. So what's a city dweller to do?

ZipCar, a startup car-sharing company in downtown Boston, may have the answer.

ROBIN CHASE, CEO, ZIPCAR: In a city, when you don't need a car very often, it just doesn't make sense to have to pay for the parking, the insurance, the hassle of driving it around and owning it and maintaining it. So if you only need it a few hours a week, this is really the way to go.

MORRIS: For an annual fee and an hourly rate that includes insurance, gas, maintenance and parking, members can sign up for a ZipCar online and pick up a car at a number of locations in the busiest downtown areas.

Sarah Bennett, one of the young company's 120 members, uses a ZipCar a few hours a week to run errands around town.

BENNETT: I'm saving somewhere between $75 to $100 a month, and the car really is available when I need it.

MORRIS: Craig Kleffman, another ZipCar customer, uses the car- sharing service to go places where public transportation is not available. He spends roughly $100 a month on ZipCar.

CRAIG KLEFFMAN, ZIPCAR CUSTOMER: Simply put, it's economics. The insurance is -- well, if it's $1,000 a year just to insure a vehicle, and I only drive 1,000 or 2,000 miles a year, so it makes much more sense economically speaking to just use a car-share, ZipCar, rather than own a vehicle.

MORRIS: Both Craig and Sarah use a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle. According to "The Complete Car Cost Guide," the owner of a similar Volkswagen would spend an average of $25,000 over five years. So it's no surprise that car sharing is catching on around the world.

To find out if there's a service near you, click onto www.carsharing.net.

Valerie Morris, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HAYNES: In "Worldview," we visit a country that lies both in Asia and Europe. We head to Russia to look at its culture, cuisine, religion and politics. Up first, big names from the past have their homes on display as we visit some tourist treasures.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: First stop, Russia, the world's largest country in area. Russia covers much of the continents of Europe and Asia. The country extends from the Arctic Ocean south to the Black Sea, and from the Baltic Sea east to the Pacific Ocean. From 1922 until 1991, Russia was the biggest republic in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union broke apart in 1991. After that breakup, Russia began to set up a new political, legal and economic system.

During the 1800s and early 1900s, Russia made many great contributions to the arts. Authors like Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy wrote masterpieces of literature. Today, the homes of those great writers have become the focus of a group of Americans.

Steve Harrigan has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few tourists ever make it out of Moscow into the Russian countryside, where the once grand estates of the nobility are falling apart.

That's something this group of Americans, which includes a Roosevelt and an Eisenhower, is trying to change.

PRISCILLA ROOSEVELT, RUSSIAN COUNTRY ESTATE FRIENDS: In other countries, some large houses have been used as small hotels or they've been turned into country clubs, conference centers, some things that are perhaps a little bit in the future for Russia, not right now.

HARRIGAN: What you get right now at the home of playwright Anton Chekhov is a song about cherries, a scene from the author of "The Cherry Orchard," and fresh cherries for an entrance fee of less than a dollar.

SUSAN EISENHOWER, RUSSIAN COUNTRY ESTATE FRIENDS: The needs are great, of course, especially in the area of marketing of the properties, and also saving very specific treasures that may require some financial assistance.

HARRIGAN: Like the theater at Arkhangelskoye, with original sets from the Italian designer Gonzago, now on the list of the world's 100 most endangered historic sites. The group of Americans has raised $200,000 for Russian country estates. The director says he needs $2 million.

VLADIMIR DLUGACH, DIRECTOR, ARKHANGELSKOYE ESTATE (through translator): This place hasn't seen a carpenter, nothing, in 200 years.

HARRIGAN: Writer Leo Tolstoy's house near the city of Tula is in better shape, in part due to the entrepreneurial skills of his great- grandson.

VLADIMIR TOLSTOY, DIRECTOR, LEO TOLSTOY ESTATE (through translator): In the contemporary world, just the name of a great man is not enough of a draw. It has to be marketed, which is a very big job. That's what we do here at Yasnaya Polyana.

HARRIGAN: It's not clear how the author of "War and Peace" would have felt about marketing his name. Tolstoy is buried on the grounds of the estate, per his instructions, in an unmarked grave.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: On this date back in 1963, a communication hotline was established between leaders of the U.S. and leaders of the U.S.S.R. to facilitate emergency discussions. The U.S.S.R. was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And as you learned, it dissolved in 1991, replaced by independent states.

We head now to Moscow, the capital and largest city of Russia, to continue our story, as we turn from hotlines to hot times.

There's a battle under way between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs, a small group of businessmen who gained control over much of the country's resources during the Yeltsin era.

Steve Harrigan explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIGAN (voice-over): With criminal investigations against many of their companies under way, Russia's richest businessmen got the sitdown they asked for with the president. But Vladimir Putin said their problems with the law are their own fault.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): You built the state yourself through structures under your control, so there is no point in blaming the reflection in the mirror.

HARRIGAN: The biggest car maker in Russia, the biggest oil company, the biggest metal producer, are all in trouble with the tax police. What is not clear is how far the new president intends to go against the men who became rich and powerful under Boris Yeltsin. Most important for the so-called oligarchs, that the state not reexamine the deals that made their fortunes.

MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY, PRESIDENT, YUKOS OIL (through translator): It was very important for us to hear that there will be no revision of the results of privatization.

HARRIGAN: Not all the oligarchs have gotten off so easily. Media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky spent three days in one of Moscow's oldest jails, charged with embezzlement. Gusinsky, who owns the only independent television network in Russia, accused the Kremlin of trying to muzzle the free press. Gusinsky was not at the Kremlin meeting. After the charges against him were suddenly dropped, he left the country.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: More from Russia as we turn our attention to health matters. Summer has brought new problems to the huge nation in the form of mushrooms.

A mushroom is a fungus with a stalk and umbrella-shaped cap. Once a delicacy for the elite, edible mushrooms are now grown commercially. But there are inedible or poisonous types as well, often called toadstools.

Steve Harrigan returns to explain the risks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIGAN (voice-over): They walk through the forest with knife and plastic bag hunting for mushrooms, a Russian tradition that near the city of Voronezh has left 42 dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were small and white, very tasty. We fried them and ate the whole pan.

HARRIGAN: A hot, wet summer has created ideal conditions for the white Deathcap, except for its bulbed root, a deadringer for harmless field or rain mushrooms.

LYUDMILA ISHENKO, HEALTH INSPECTOR (through translator): The poison shuts down the liver and kidneys. To eat one mushroom like this is enough for the whole family to die.

HARRIGAN: That is exactly what happened to Evgeny Plotnitsky's (ph) family: mother, brother and little sister.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believed my mother. I thought she knew all the mushrooms. That's why I ate some. But I ate less then the others.

HARRIGAN: After 230 poisonings, mushroom gathering has been outlawed in Voronezh, but the police can't keep everybody out of the forest.

Not even the Deathcap has been able to break a family tradition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is my way of relaxing. People in Russia have been picking mushrooms for ages.

HARRIGAN: And in southern Russia, they are dying from it. This 39-year-old woman thought she knew better and fried the mushrooms her husband brought home from the forest. Her 18-year-old daughter refused to eat them and is now alone.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: From health risks to routes for healing, and for some Russians, that means their faith.

The Russian Orthodox faith is the largest religious association in Russia, and more than 1,000 years old. It's an eastern community of Christian churches which split with the Western church beginning in the fifth century. It's sometimes called the Greek Church.

It's experiencing a revival now, taking a cue from a third century saint.

Jennifer Eccleston has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid long lines and under tight security, thousands of Orthodox Christians in Moscow have been paying homage to the relics of St. Panteleimon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm ill and I live alone. There's nobody to help me to get to church. I cried and begged that I could come and touch the icon of St. Panteleimon. I asked so much and, look, God sent a woman to help me.

ECCLESTON: The pilgrims, mainly women and children, some sick or infirm, believe the relics have healing qualities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Illnesses come from our sins. People come and repent and touch the relics of the saint and are healed. Each person hopes for something pure and holy. Therefore, the people come here and hope to be healed.

ECCLESTON: St. Panteleimon, a renowned physician in third- century Asia Minor, renounced his service to the emperor to treat the poor. He was executed for that decision at age 29.

The relics are on loan to Russia from a secluded mountaintop monastery in Mt. Athos, Greece. It was established in the late 18th century by monks from Russia.

Since the end of Soviet rule, there's been a revival in the Russian Orthodox Church, and renewed interest in its history. This is the second visit to Russia of the relics of St. Panteleimon. Four years ago, they sparked similar scenes of mass pilgrimage.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Get ready for three of the scariest words in a teenager's vocabulary: Scholastic Aptitude Test, otherwise known as the SAT. The SAT may not be as scary as it once was. Scores are up: 514 was the average math score for U.S. students who took the test last year. That's the highest it's been since 1969. The verbal score of 505 has remained the same for the last five years.

How much do these scores really matter? And does the SAT carry as much weight with colleges as it once did?

Kate Snow has the scoop.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we going to do first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover the answers first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover the answers. Good.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jason Williams forked out $800 for this SAT prep course. He wants to go to Georgetown, so he's trying to break 1,350 on his SAT combined score.

WILLIAMS: As far as me being a good student and being competitive, I need to, like, do well on the SAT in order to get in a good school.

SNOW: That's still true. To get into more than 80 percent of four-year colleges and universities, the SATs count.

RONNE PATRICK, UNIV. OF MARYLAND ADMISSIONS OFFICE: Students are coming in from all kinds of high school backgrounds from all over the country, and it allows us to compare students.

GASTON CAPERTON, PRESIDENT, THE COLLEGE BOARD: I think that they're using it wiser than they've ever used it. Today, there's about 1,260,000 students who take the SAT. So an admission officer uses that as one of the important tools they have.

SNOW: In fact, at some colleges, SAT scores may matter even more than they once did. More and more admissions counselors say test scores are key when considering whether a student should be admitted.

In 1994, 43 percent of counselors surveyed said test scores were of considerable importance. The number rose every year, up to 54 in 1999.

But test scores are not the most important factor. Every year, admissions officers said grades in high school advanced placement courses carried far more weight.

And at some schools, the selection process is changing. Dickinson College in Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen schools that have recently decided to stop requiring SAT scores on freshmen applications.

ROBERT MASSA, VICE PRESIDENT, DICKINSON COLLEGE: Not having the SAT scores really allows us the opportunity to look at a file without biases and to really see a student's true worth. And that's the main value of this, because it does allow us to consider each individual.

SNOW: Entering freshmen say it's part of the reason they were attracted to Dickinson.

DANNAH SWIFT, DICKINSON COLLEGE FRESHMAN: I don't think tests show who a person is. Filling in bubbles doesn't tell you much about someone.

SNOW (on camera): Observers say no matter where they're applying, college applicants don't need to be obsessed about doing well on the SAT. Taking a challenging curriculum and being well- rounded are just as important.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: And it's been said that the SAT is a good indicator of how you'll do your first year in college.

BAKHTIAR: Really?

HAYNES: So how did you do?

(LAUGHTER)

BAKHTIAR: I did really well in my first year of college. And, actually, I did really well in my SATs. But my last years were not so good. So I wonder what the SATs say about your last years in college.

HAYNES: Yes. All right, we got to go. We'll see you tomorrow.

BAKHTIAR: Bye.

HAYNES: Bye.

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