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NEWSROOM for August 31, 2000Aired August 31, 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: Welcome to your Thursday edition of CNN NEWSROOM, everybody. Glad you're here. I'm Tom Haynes.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. You know the drill. Here's the lineup.
HAYNES: In today's top story, President Clinton launches an offensive against the drug war in Colombia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I reaffirmed to the president our support for the peace process. The people of Colombia have suffered long enough, especially in the area of human rights. No good cause has ever been advanced by killing or kidnapping civilians, or by colluding with those who do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAKHTIAR: Next, in our "Science Desk," why the eyes may have it in the world of personal I.D.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps me get on an airplane faster, I love it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYNES: On to "Worldview" and why pollution and population go hand-in-hand in Katmandu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIVA RAJ JOSHI, STATE MINISTER OF POPULATION & ENVIRONMENT (through translator): The major sources of the air pollutions are vehicle emissions and pollution from industrial waste.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAKHTIAR: Then, in "Chronicle," short summers and no homework: a new school of thought in private education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIP GERKEN, PARENT: I think homework is not useful until a child is older, and it, in fact, is harmful for a younger child because it teaches the child that school is a chore, that it's not fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYNES: For the first time in a decade, a United States president visits Colombia. Colombia is a South American country steeped in civil conflict and drug violence. President Clinton was there on a one-day visit to help Colombia defeat its drug traffickers by offering more than a billion dollars in U.S. aid. The money is part of Colombia's $7 1/2 billion plan designed to combat recession, anti-government guerrillas and drug cartels.
We begin our coverage with Major Garrett, who traveled with the president from Washington, D.C. to Cartagena.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mr. Clinton brought an emphatic and bipartisan message to embattled Colombian President Andres Pastrana: Your drug fight is our drug fight.
CLINTON: There is a lot riding on this president and this plan in Colombia. We are proud to stand with our friend and our neighbor.
GARRETT: U.S. hopes the message reverberates throughout Colombia, where narcotraffickers, leftist guerrillas and paramilitaries fight over drug profits and terrorize the country. The toll: 35,000 dead in 10 years and the world's highest rate of kidnapping.
PRES. ANDRES PASTRANA, COLOMBIA: We are fighting the largest business in the world. It's a $500 billion business. We are fighting the largest criminal organization.
GARRETT: Tight security and reminders of Colombia's unrelenting violence were impossible to miss. Colombian police seized bomb-making materials from a home six blocks from a site Mr. Clinton visited. In Bogota, violent anti-U.S. protests left one police officer dead.
The U.S. is sending 60 new helicopters and military advisers to train Colombia's army to destroy coca and poppy fields. Prompted by the U.S., Pastrana has also pledged to punish paramilitary crimes. To some, the U.S. aid means more war, more death, more grief.
JOSE MIGUEL VIVANCO, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: It's a bad prescription, it is bad policy, it's not going to help Colombia.
GARRETT: Pastrana has tried for two years to negotiate peace with guerrillas, but territorial concessions have brought nothing but more violence. The U.S. says it's time to fight back. CLINTON: I reject the idea that we must choose between supporting peace or fighting drugs. We can do both. Indeed, to succeed, we must do both.
GARRETT (on camera): U.S. officials concede that won't be easy or risk-free, but the White House and key members of Congress believe the greater risk to democracy and free trade throughout Latin America would be to allow Colombia to fight and lose this war alone.
Major Garrett, CNN, Cartegena, Colombia.
BAKHTIAR: OK, here's a little background on Colombia. Its official name is the Republic of Colombia. And just like the United States, Colombia's head of state is the president. The people who live there speak Spanish.
Colombia gained independence on July 20, 1810. And as for size, Colombia's more than 440 square miles. That means you could squeeze about four Western U.S. states inside it.
Hundreds of miles away from the site of Mr. Clinton's visit in rural Colombia, drugs and guerrillas control the lives of many peasants.
Steve Nettleton explains.
STEVE NETTLETON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a farm in Colombia's deep south, Francisco picks coca leaf for a living. He is what Colombians call a scraper, for the way he and other coca harvesters collect their crop.
Francisco, who only gave his first name, is paid to process this coca into a paste called coca base. The owner of the farm sells that base to traffickers to be crystallized into cocaine. For Francisco, the money is good, but not great. Working with chemicals ages you, he says. But while the work is hard, it's the only job he can find; a job whose days may be numbered.
(on camera): In the southern jungle that descends to the Amazon hides the world's richest concentration of coca leaf, the source of between 60 and 80 percent of Colombia's cocaine. It is ground zero for the Colombian military's offensive against illegal drugs.
The campaign, backed by $1.3 billion from the United States, will launch battalions of anti-narcotics troops armed with U.S. helicopters and U.S. training against drug traffickers and the farms that supply them. But to target coca, the army must move into land controlled by leftist guerrillas.
Much of southern Colombia is ruled by the country's largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC. The rebels have warned an escalation of the drug war will only threaten peace.
PAUL REYES, FARC SPOKESMAN (through translator): It doesn't make sense to the FARC that a government that works for peace on one hand threatens to build resources for war on the other.
NETTLETON: The FARC says it taxes coca farmers and traffickers, but it denies it is involved in the drug trade. Making the volatile situation even more dangerous, a new faction has begun moving into southern Colombia.
Paramilitary anti-guerrilla squads, seen here in an exercise, have seized control of many towns, killing scores in their hunt for suspected guerrillas. The regional commander of these paramilitary forces, who asked to be called Miguel, admits his men earn a profit from the coca trade.
MIGUEL, PARAMILITARY COMMANDER: While the guerrillas finance themselves with narcotrafficking, we also finance ourselves with it, and in the process we cut them off from it. If narcotrafficking disappears, then the guerrilla disappears. If the guerrilla disappears from this area, we will have no reason to be here.
NETTLETON: Dozens of families in the southernmost province of Putumayo have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting between paramilitaries and guerrillas. Many of them live crammed in this school complex in the town of La Hormiga, up to 10 families per room.
REV. ERNESTO ESTRADA (through translator): They live in fear, because if you rely on the guerrillas to solve your problems, you become marked by the paramilitaries. To rely on the army to solve any problem is to be marked by the guerrillas as an assistant to the paramilitaries. It is the law of the jungle that operates here.
NETTLETON: And once the army and police step up their war against coca, many here fear hundreds more farmers and peasants will come seeking shelter in the schools and churches of southern Colombia.
Steve Nettleton, CNN, La Hormiga, Colombia.
HAYNES: It's the final day of a summit that's brought together representatives of the world's major religions. At the heart of the event: looking beyond religious and ethnic differences for solutions to conflicts around the world. Did you know Christianity is the most practiced religion in the world, followed by Islam and Hinduism.
Frank Buckley has more from the site of the summit.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The victims of war can rightly claim, in some cases, that religion is at the heart of the conflict that caused their suffering. PHRA RAJAVARAMUNI, BUDDHISM DELEGATE: There is nothing wrong with the faith, there must be something wrong with the faithful, who quote often from the scripture to support their idea of holy war, war in the name of religion.
BUCKLEY: But religious and spiritual leaders gathered in New York for the Millennium World Peace Summit hope a new dialogue will help to bring about change.
The world's major faiths are represented. Kosovo among the specific spots where some believe religious leadership could make a difference. There, an uneasy peace is presided over by U.N.-led troops.
RABBI ARTHUR SCHNEIER, JUDAISM DELEGATE: But you cannot just depend on the military presence. You have to build. And the religious leaders have to, above all, transform the hearts and minds of the people. Otherwise, you have hatred that is going to linger.
BUCKLEY: Organizers of the summit envision an advisory council of religious and spiritual leaders working to support the United Nations in years to come. Attendees are also being asked to sign a commitment to global peace. What difference any of it will make in the future is still in question.
LAWRENCE SULLIVAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: A great deal of success will depend on the kind of plans for action and follow-up that are agreed on.
BUCKLEY (on camera): The challenge ahead for the religious leaders gathered here, to go beyond high ideals, to translate them into action, a point acknowledged by one speaker who said, we are here not to preach to each other, but to reach for each other.
Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.
BAKHTIAR: As we told you earlier, the purpose of the summit is to get religious leaders involved in trying to solve the many conflicts, religious, ethnic or other, around the world. One country in dire need of a solution to end divisions and religious violence is Indonesia.
Maria Ressa takes us there.
MARIA RESSA, CNN JAKARTA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Muslim soldiers giving cover for Muslim fighters. On the other side, Christian police helping Christian vigilantes, a complete breakdown of civil order, clashes killing more than 4,000 people since January of 1999.
For centuries, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in what was known in colonial times as the Spice Islands. Now that peace has been shattered.
FRANS SUSENO, SOCIOLOGIST: It is a fight between communities, but now the religious identity has been the most decisive identity of these communities. So it has become in the Malukus a conflict, actually a civil war, between Christians and Muslims.
RESSA: Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population. When reports of massacres of Muslims filtered to the capital, they sparked calls for a jihad, or a "holy war."
"I'm shocked," says this man, "because Muslims, who are the majority, can be killed and destroyed by the minority."
Thousands of Muslims volunteered to fight in Ambon. More alarming, some politicians began to play the religious card to win supporters.
AMIEN RAIS, ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: No religion, I think, teaches violence and bloodshed, but sometimes people misuse religion to achieve their goal, and then to play the emotion of the mass to be exploited.
RESSA: Nearly all say politics played a role in instigating sectarian violence in the Malukus.
"I have Christian friends," says this man. "We told ourselves this is caused by provocateurs who manipulated us so they can separate us."
(on camera): There's increasing pressure on Indonesia's president, Abdurrahman Wahid, to stop the violence. The question now is whether security forces can actually do that; and beyond that, whether communities can heal the rifts after so much violence.
Maria Ressa, CNN, Jakarta.
HAYNES: Well, if you've ever had to stand in line at the airport, you know it can be a frustrating experience. There's always lots of waiting, and much of it has to do with security and making sure you are who you're supposed to be.
Leave it to technology, though, to find a way to streamline that process. Airports are experimenting with a process that scans the iris, the colored part of the eye that helps regulate the amount of light that enters the eye. It's a logical choice for identification because it's stable throughout your life, not very susceptible to wear and injury, and, like the fingerprint, contains a pattern unique to every individual.
Rick Lockridge looks at how airports are taking a cue from a James Bond movie to get you on your way.
KATHLEEN HESSERT, AIRLINE PASSENGER: I'm constantly running for planes.
RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathleen Hessert (ph) and the other passengers who volunteered to have their irises scanned at the Charlotte Airport could all agree on one thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps me get on an airplane faster, I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just hold that right there for about 10 seconds.
LOCKRIDGE: The EyeTicket scanner focuses on the colored, speckled ring that is your iris. These ridges and furrows are formed before you're born, and no two irises are alike.
STEWART MANN, CEO, EYETICKET: Not only between people, but among identical twins. And your right and left eye bear no resemblance whatsoever.
AUTOMATED VOICE: Please look into the mirror.
LOCKRIDGE: EyeTicket converts a picture of an iris into a digital password 512 characters long and then discards the picture itself.
JAMES KOPPEL, EYETICKET: Get rid of it almost instantly.
LOCKRIDGE: Once enrolled, you could check your own bags and check yourself in without having to show a driver's license or passport. Your eyes would be all the I.D. you'd need. Glasses and most colored contact lenses not a problem.
KOPPEL: That doesn't bother it at all. It's actually a black and white image, so the color doesn't come into play at all.
LOCKRIDGE: The company claims a zero percent error rate and has been testing a prototype security door for airport employees at Charlotte Airport for about six months.
(on camera): OK, Christine, let's say that I want to tailgate in -- I don't have a valid I.D., but I want to tailgate in behind you, so...
(voice-over): Airports have long had a problem with tailgating. But when I tried to follow Christine into the futuristic-looking eye pass cylinder...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It knows that there are two of us in here, so it won't let us through.
LOCKRIDGE: It added up our combined weight, that's how it knew -- access denied. EyeTicket says its technology doesn't invade anybody's privacy.
Still, Eric Locher of the Charlotte Airport Advisory Board knows some passengers will have concerns.
ERIC LOCHER, CHARLOTTE-DOUGLAS AIRPORT ADVISORY BOARD: There are people who squawk about having to sign up to get a driver's license. And so there will be that portion of the population that will do that. But I do see it as for the best for the public good.
AUTOMATED VOICE: Thank you for your cooperation.
LOCKRIDGE (on camera): As the search for a fraud-proof form of personal I.D. becomes more and more important in this increasingly digital age, it may turn out that the eyes have it.
Rick Lockridge, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.
BAKHTIAR: We turn to Asia and Europe in "Worldview" for news on the environment and business. We enter the world of cyberspace to see how safe and secure e-commerce really is. That story takes us to Great Britain. And catch your breath: We're on our way to a nation suffering from pollution.
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: "Worldview" takes us to new heights as we head to Nepal. Nepal is located in South-Central Asia between China and India. It is home to the world's highest mountain range, the Himalayas, as well as to the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. The remainder of the country is made up of hills and valleys, where most Nepalese people live in small villages.
Due to a shortage of physicians, diseases such as cholera, leprosy and tuberculosis are common throughout Nepal. Cases of malaria have decreased significantly in recent decades, but a new health concern has grown, particularly in Katmandu, Nepal's capital. It has Nepalese people and officials looking for solutions.
David George examines the culprit contaminating Katmandu.
DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Katmandu, Nepal, a city rich in history with an exploding population that is choking in fumes and dust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our problem is mainly related to dust.
GEORGE: Worldwide, pollution and population seem to go hand-in- hand, and Katmandu is no exception. The number of vehicles on city streets has grown rapidly. Many are old and use highly polluting diesel fuel. Even newer cars pollute more than normal because of substandard gasoline.
JOSHI (through translator): The major sources of the air pollution are vehicle emissions and pollution from industrial waste.
GEORGE: Dust hangs in the air from unpaved sidewalks, a booming cement and brick industry, unsanitary trash disposal, dry fecal matter from animals, and unmaintained streets.
The Nepalese government has struggled to come up with clean solutions. In the early '90s, in an attempt to rid the city of polluting and abundant three-wheel scooters, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and private organizations like the Global Resources Institute, worked with the Nepalese authorities to introduce multipassenger electric vehicles. The program was mildly successful, but government officials say the Katmandu population has grown too rapidly to make a dent in the pollution problem.
JOSHI (through translator): People are coming from the rural areas to the urban areas in such large numbers that they're pushing the city's available resources beyond their limits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our whole effort is concentrated on limiting emissions.
GEORGE: Scientists like Toran Sharma (ph) of Nepal's Environment and Scientific Society say the government can do more to clear the air, like improving road conditions, controlling emissions and developing a mass transportation system.
SHARMA: These managements, which are small, but if there is a will they can be done.
GEORGE: The government vows to continue seeking solutions. Medical experts say if pollution sources continue to go unchecked, health problems will outweigh any social or economic progress in Katmandu. They say both public and private organizations need to educate residents so the beauty of this city in the valley is not lost in the dust.
David George, CNN.
HAYNES: The explosion of the Internet is spreading around the world. People young and old are realizing the power of this interactive tool, and Great Britain is no exception. Internet companies are presenting the Web to British consumers as the way to the future. But many who are entertaining doing business on the Net are questioning its security. A new study has confirmed British consumers' lack of confidence in cybersecurity is hampering the development of e-commerce. A series of high profile information leaks is damaging the reputation of the nascent industry.
So what can be done to restore confidence?
Christian Mahne has been finding out.
CHRISTIAN MAHNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking the high street and moving it online has been the great ambition of the Internet era. But crossing that boundary from physical to virtual is proving hard for British consumers. They're worried about security, and in record numbers.
A new survey showing that 54 percent of Britain's e-consumers are worried about giving credit card data online, particularly to unknown new players.
ANNA BRADLEY, BRITISH CONSUMER COUNCIL: One of the advantages, or would-be advantages, of the Internet for consumers is that there should be more choice, more -- new entrants in the marketplaces offering different and new products for consumers, providing more choice. And that means -- but that means taking a risk with companies whose reputations you don't know about.
MAHNE: The online confidence crisis has been heightened by some recent high-profile security breaches. U.S. music retailer CD Universe lost 300,000 credit card numbers to a hacker. In July, U.K. energy company PowerGen accidentally made 5,000 customer details publicly available on its Web site. Barclays Bank users found themselves able to access each other's account details.
But cybersecurity experts just see these incidences as teething troubles in the new marketplace.
JASON HOLLOWAY, F-SECURE CORPORATION: We are not going to be seeing these problems in the long run. As the main players improve their security and keep it up to date, these problems will go away, for the major players, at least. Smaller players might still make occasional mistakes, but they're going to be fewer and far between.
MAHNE: And although online fraud is the customers' biggest fear, they're far more likely to have account details stolen or copied while shopping in the real world rather than in cyberspace.
Christian Mahne, CNN Financial News, London.
ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.
HAYNES: Well, I don't know about you, but when I was in school, homework wasn't exactly my favorite thing to do. but for most students, cracking the books after school is the norm. Here in the United States, education groups recommend students in kindergarten through third grade get no more than 20 minutes of homework each day; and those in fourth through sixth grade get 20 to 40 minutes a day.
Now a private school in California is trying a new philosophy in learning when it comes to homework.
Greg Lefevre takes a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got $3.50.
GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine going to school and not having to do homework. It's a fact at Oakland's private Beacon Day School, clashing with the operating philosophy of the surrounding public school district.
Timothy Loggins and Drew Gerkin won't take any work home for a few years yet. That's OK with their folks.
GERKEN: I think homework is not useful until a child is older, and it, in fact, is harmful for a younger child, because it teaches the child that school is a chore, that it's not fun.
SANDRA LOGGINS, PARENT: Not having homework allows us to be a family in the evening, to do those things that help us build our family, whether it's reading or being together. There's other ways to learn than having rote homework to do every single evening.
LEFEVRE: The school says younger children are not developed enough to benefit from or have the discipline to study alone for long periods.
THELMA FARLEY, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION: So you know what happens: Mom and dad do the homework.
LEFEVRE: So, the school holds off until the sixth grade.
FARLEY: That's the time developmentally. Children are about 12 years old and they're entering a new stage of development where they can actually think about abstract things for the first time. And they can begin to organize and develop and do some independent work.
LEFEVRE: But across town, the Oakland public schools acknowledge that many of their students may be years behind in basic skills.
DAN SIEGEL, OAKLAND, CALIF. SCHOOL BOARD: When you talk about the majority of kids in Oakland who come from poor backgrounds, who don't know how to read at the time they enter the elementary school, perhaps half of whom have English as their second language, not their home language, we think that homework is absolutely essential.
LEFEVRE: And so need all the study time they can get.
SIEGEL: So our teachers, who focus on reading, have an approach of trying to get the children to read, on average, at least one book a week. And that's a book that they read at home.
LEFEVRE: Beacon classes run 240 days per year, about two months longer than the public schools. So could it be that the children put in the same study time after all?
Greg Lefevre, CNN, Oakland, California.
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.
HAYNES: That's right.
You know, in today's top story we spoke of President Clinton's travels to Colombia. Matter of fact, he's been doing a lot of travelling lately.
BAKHTIAR: Yes. In fact, before going to Colombia, he made several stops in different countries in Africa. Then he came to the U.S., then went to Colombia.
And now we have a treat for you. We leave you with some sights and sounds from those visits. Enjoy.
HAYNES: Take care.
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