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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 15, 2000

Aired November 15, 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 newsroom takes a turn into Wednesday. Welcome, I'm Shelley Walcott. Here's a look at the rundown.

America watches and waits as the legal wrangling continues in the U.S. presidential election.

Stay tuned to "Business Desk" for a quick lesson in financial self-defense.

"Worldview" focuses on the environment as we ponder the fate of the wild.

And we end up back in the United States to "Chronicle" a painful chapter in American history.

The world awaits as the United States presidential election goes through a flurry of political a legal standoffs. At stake is Florida's 25 electoral votes which will likely decide whether Al Gore or George W. Bush becomes the nation's 43rd president.

The Bush campaign is calling on a federal appeals court to stop the hand counting of votes in Florida. A federal judge in Miami denied that request Monday. Tuesday, Florida's secretary of state announced the counties vote totals after a state judge enforced the 5:00 p.m. deadline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: In the race for the president of the United States, these certified results from Florida's 67 counties for the top two candidates are as follows: Gov. George Bush, 2,910,492; Vice Pres. Al Gore, 2,910,192.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: The judge said the secretary of state still may and should consider results submitted after Tuesday's 5:00 p.m. deadline.

The legal wrangling doesn't stop there. Palm Beach County put in a bid to the state supreme court asking it to decide the legality of manual recounts. And at least half a dozen citizen lawsuits are challenging Palm Beach County's butterfly ballot, which they say was confusing. A final certification of Florida's election results is expected Saturday after overseas ballots are counted.

Well, many people are wondering how long this U.S. presidential election controversy will play out. And if it does drag on, will the United States end up in a constitutional crisis?

Jeff Greenfield takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: "Constitutional crisis." It's a tempting phrase to utter. It carries with it its own sense of importance, like "defining moment." But is this a crisis? Could it turn into one? Well, to use another tempting phrase, it depends upon what the meaning of crisis is.

(voice-over): Now here's a real crisis in the making. October 1973, President Nixon fires Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the midst of his investigation into Watergate. The attorney general and his top deputy leave rather than fire Cox. Federal agents seal off the special prosecutor's office. Could a president shut off an inquiry into his own behavior?

It didn't happen. A firestorm of public pressure forced Nixon to name a successor, Leon Jaworski, who demanded of Nixon those famous secret tape recordings. And that could have triggered a real constitutional crisis when a unanimous Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes. Suppose he had refused, one branch of government defying the order of another. But it didn't happen. Nixon turned the tapes over, the smoking gun of a cover-up was disclosed and the president resigned.

But this? Not even close, yet. What you have so far is the messy, inefficient business of vote counts. Instead of troops in the Capitol, you've got lawyers in the courts. Instead of mobs in the street, street theater, folks with a little too much time on their hands.

(on camera): So, could this turn into a crisis? Of course we're not talking about anyone seizing political power or some adversary from abroad sailing up the Potomac, but we could be talking about a transfer of power tainted by charges of foul play; an angry challenge to the electoral vote when the new Congress convenes in January; a bitter refusal of the losing side to acknowledge the victor's right to govern; a new Congress that, for all the talk of cooperation, is frozen into inaction by a sense of icy bitterness that's grown over the last 20 years.

A crisis? Maybe not. But as an unhappy ending to all this, that would do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Are you a good note taker? You know, when you're sitting in class listening to your teacher, do you take good notes? If so, that attention to detail could help you later in life. Take managing your money, for example. Writing checks is a part of everyday life and requires careful record keeping. If you don't keep good records, you could bounce a check, and that means big penalty fees from your bank.

Bouncing a check means you wrote a check to someone without having the money in your account to back it up -- not a good way to make friends. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who aren't managing their money well. In fact, banks earn more than $6 billion a year in profits from bounced check charges.

Steve Young has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans are on the go and they're spending more. But in some cases, that screeches to a halt when they write a bad check. If you bounce one, you may be in more trouble than you think.

The most common penalty is a $25 fee. But you're hit with it twice; first your bank charges you, then the institution in which the check was deposited. Add in other penalties, such as going below your required checking balance, late fees charged by the merchant, and you're digging yourself further into a financial hole. And that's just for one check.

BARBARA ANTHONY, U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: If you do it chronically as a consumer, you're going to end up with serious financial and legal consequences. You're going to have -- this is going to be on your credit report. If the merchant wanted to turn you in, you know, if the store that you did business with really got fed up and sick of it, they could do that. And sometimes that does happen.

YOUNG: Banks report check bouncers to a company called ChexSystems. A bad report usually prevents you from opening another checking account for five years; 80 percent of banks belong to this network. So that means you'll have to pay your bills by other means, such as money orders and credit cards, and that only adds to your costs.

ALLAN SLOAN, "NEWSWEEK": People do it because they're sloppy, they do it because they're not paying attention, and a lot of them do it because they think they know what they're doing. They call up, they get the electronic balance in their accounts and they don't realize there's still a check our there because they never reconcile their checkbooks.

YOUNG: Bottom line: balance your checkbook, keep track of all your ATM and debit card charges.

That's "Your Money." I'm Steve Young, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Next up, we trek to federal lands in the far reaches of the United States. It's a site of controversy and conflict between two groups of native people.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We try to bring you stories about culture and the environment. Well, today we head to Alaska where both issues intertwine.

Our report focuses on a piece of pristine land called the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve. It's a refuge as coveted as it is protected. The controversy involves oil development. The area is rich in oil and some want to tap into those riches. Others want to preserve a national treasure. Two native cultures are at odds here over the fate of the wild.

Mark Potter has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fenton Rexford, an Inupiat Eskimo, prepares for the autumn whale hunt in the Arctic Ocean. Like many villagers in Kaktovik, Alaska, he still clings to the age-old tradition of hunting for food.

But in other ways, Kaktovik is very different now than it was just a few decades ago when it was a collection of unheated shacks with no electricity or running water. There are new homes, a police department, a modern school, health care and other services. The reason: oil.

(on camera): So how do you look at oil?

FENTON REXFORD, INUPIAT ESKIMO: Keeps me warm. Keeps me warm and keeps my outboard motor running to go after our food from the sea, from the ocean.

POTTER (voice-over): In fact, Fenton Rexford is not only a whale hunter, he's chairman of Kaktovik's village corporation, an Eskimo company that owns 92,000 acres of coastal tundra, which Rexford wants to develop.

REXFORD: I want the oil, I want the gas, natural gas. If I had the power to do that, I'd go out and drill right now.

POTTER: And that has put Rexford and his fellow Eskimos at odds with another native Alaskan culture, the Gwich'in Indians, who live 100 miles away on the south edge of the refuge. They, too, are hunters and fear oil development will threaten their way of life and ruin the land they hold sacred.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In our language, we call it "the sacred place where life begins."

POTTER: The Inupiat Eskimos and the Gwich'in Indians find themselves in the heart of the country's biggest land battle, over a pristine wilderness environmentalists call "America's Serengeti."

With its braided rivers, rugged mountains, and coastal plain, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR, is one of America's most spectacular and untamed places, still barely touched by man. It is the size of South Carolina, 19 million acres, in the remote northeast corner of Alaska.

ANWR is home to polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and flocks of migratory birds. Its narrow coastal plain is also the calving ground for a 130,000-strong migratory caribou herd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is just an incredible jewel. It is the wildest place left in America. It is an incredible natural area.

KEN BOYD, DIRECTOR, ALASKAN OIL AND GAS DIVISION: It's the last great place to look in North America, and I think the country needs the oil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no compromise for our people. We don't want to lose anything.

POTTER: Congress created the refuge 20 years ago. At the time, it set aside 1 1/2 million acres of coastal plain within ANWR to study its oil and gas potential. Seismic tests suggest ANWR's coastal plain may hold billions of barrels of oil. Estimates range between a six- and 30-month supply for the country.

But nobody really knows for sure. And only Congress can approve further testing and development in the refuge.

Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska says it's time to find out how much oil actually exists there as domestic supplies decline and imports rise.

SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I think the American people have to know and be prepared for the train wreck that's coming because the American people are going to get that gas bill, they're going to get that electric bill and they're going to blame government.

We've always been concerned about our increasing dependence on imported oil.

POTTER: Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy Committee. He is leading the drive on Capitol Hill to open the coastal plain.

MURKOWSKI: Do we do it domestically or do we do it overseas? Are we better off to come to my state, open up the Arctic coastal plain to oil and gas exploration where we've already got an 800-mile pipeline that's only operating at half capacity, keep the jobs, keep the dollars at home?

POTTER: For the past two decades, nearly a quarter of America's oil production has come from the north slope of Alaska, mostly Prudhoe Bay, 60 miles from the refuge. Industry supporters say it would be easy to revive production by pumping oil from the wildlife refuge. That outrages environmentalists and government officials like Jamie Clark, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

JAMIE CLARK, DIRECTOR, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: It's fragile and it's a place where wildlife comes first.

POTTER (on camera): And so when you hear someone say, let's go there and drill for oil, what's your gut reaction?

CLARK: It would be irreparable damage for little to no gain.

MURKOWSKI: They don't accept the responsibility of where our oil is going to come from. Well, is it going to come from Colombia or is it going to come from Saddam Hussein? That's not in their ballpark. It happens to be in mine.

POTTER (voice-over): Polls show most Alaskans favor drilling in the refuge.

BOYD: Oil remains still the most important thing for us, our natural resource.

POTTER: Ken Boyd is the director of the state's oil and gas division. He says oil drives Alaska's economy.

BOYD: Oil has been, you know, the lifeblood of Alaska, if you like. You know, 70 to 80 percent of our income comes from royalties and taxes and rents and bonuses and what have you.

POTTER: The Alaskan oil industry has generated $45 billion for the state since 1978. Each year, every Alaskan gets an oil dividend check from the state, this year worth nearly $2,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the oil, the north slope was like a big ghetto. It was worse than Third World countries.

POTTER: Oliver Levitt (ph) is chairman of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, a company owned by all 7,000 Eskimos on Alaska's north slope. The company provides support services to the Alaskan oil industry. They reported revenues of nearly $900 million in 1998 alone.

LEVITT: Our big fear of that is that one day the oil runs out and we don't have another industry. There is nothing to take over and maintain our schools, our hospitals, our fire protection, our police protection. There's nothing else to -- and there will be no more jobs.

POTTER: The Eskimos stand to reap a potential windfall if drilling is allowed to proceed within ANWR. But as it stands now, their land in the refuge cannot be developed.

REXFORD: We're locked out of our resource. We're refugees. We're refugees of our resources. We can't even touch our own land.

POTTER: But ANWR is federal land, not state land.

CLARK: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of America's finest national wildlife refuges. It doesn't belong to Alaska alone, it belongs to all of us.

POTTER: Including the Gwich'in Indians, who have joined environmentalists to oppose drilling in ANWR. The word Gwich'in means "people of the caribou." They are subsistence hunters who rely on caribou meat to survive the harsh winter.

The Gwich'in fear oil development in the refuge will shrink the herd and cause it to shift its migration routes away from native settlements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see why they have to bother it. It's just going to ruin a lot of people's lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will happen if there's something that will damage the herd?

POTTER: The caribou play a central role in the Gwich'in's spiritual beliefs. And Faith Gimmel (ph) says, without caribou, the Gwich'in culture would wither away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the same as with the plains Indian tribes. When they lost the buffalo, they lost many aspects of their culture that were vital to their survival as a people. That's what we feel will happen to our people. Our social problems would rise and we'd be a broken people.

POTTER: Supporters of oil drilling say environmental concerns are overstated. They say the animals have learned to adapt to oil development.

BOYD: I don't buy the caribou argument because I've been up here when there's just caribou running all through Dead Horse and through the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

POTTER: The oil industry says exploration would be done in winter when few animals are around.

MURKOWSKI: We know an awful lot about the arctic. We know how to drill and build ice roads that we didn't know 30 years ago. And we can take the necessary precautions. We have enough science and technology to know in advance that we can manage this resource.

BOYD: Over 20 years of development on the slope, I think the companies have learned how to do things right. They've shrunk the footprint of development.

POTTER: But critics believe that so-called "footprint" will inevitably lead to industrial sprawl, spoiling the land forever.

(on camera): The oil drillers say that they can go in there, take what they can get, as much as it might be, and then eventually roll it all back as if they were never there. Do you believe them?

CLARK: No, I don't. Developing the coastal plain drives a stake right the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. POTTER (voice-over): The argument boils down to values: the value of wilderness, the value of oil in a refuge where geologists aren't even sure how much lies beneath the coastal plain.

BOYD: Well, everybody knows the arguments. It's now, I don't like it and I'm never going to like it, versus, I think we need to develop it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: In "Chronicle," one of the saddest chapters in American history. It's the story of Native Americans who, by many accounts, were treated brutally at the hands of the American government during the early 19th century.

Andy Jordan has this look at "The Trail of Tears."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICOLE BILLY, JUNIOR MISS CHOCTAW: Only the strong had to survive during the Trail of Tears. And so we're the ancestors of the ones who had to travel down the Trail of Tears. And so we're the ancestors of the strong people.

CHARLEY JONES, CHOCTAW ELDER: It wasn't really a trail as such marked out, it was a -- it was where they marched and where the tears came.

ANDY JORDAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the early part of the 19th century, American settlers wanted more land. Europe still occupied territory in the western part of the continent. President Thomas Jefferson proposed a buffer zone between U.S. and European holdings and wanted to use American Indians as that buffer. He also wanted to boost American expansion westward from the original colonies to the Mississippi River.

According to Native American accounts, between 1816 and 1840, tribes were coerced into signing 40 treaties, ceding their lands to the U.S. government. Those tribes included the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks and Seminoles.

President Andrew Jackson later set in motion a relocation policy that Congress passed. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 would force those remaining to move west of the Mississippi. Most Cherokees did not want to leave their father land. A few of them thought their survival as a people meant going along with the government plan.

In 1835, the U.S. negotiated a treaty with that minority at New Echota, Georgia. In exchange, they would get $5 million and new homelands in Indian territory. None of those who signed the treaty were elected officials in the Cherokee Nation.

By May of 1838, federal troops began rounding up Indians into stockades. Families were separated and many treated brutally, many given only moments to collect their possessions. JONES: As long as the sun shined, as long as the moon shined, as long as the grass grew, as long as river flows, this shall forever be Indian land. That's one of the things, reasons why the Choctaws moved. They were making the best of the situation.

JORDAN: Three groups of Cherokees left that summer, traveling by rail, boat and wagon, each group experiencing a different kind of hardship. Other bands of tribes would attempt the forced march through winter, many dying from the cold and hunger.

JONES: As the weather got cold and didn't have much clothes, so when someone died, they would take the clothes and shoes. And the ground was so hard to dig, they'd put them in the fork of the tree so the animals wouldn't get to them.

GEORGE PUMPKIN, CHEROKEE ELDER: All I can say about the Trail of Tears is it was one thing that was not good for anybody -- for the Cherokee people, white people.

ELLA MARIE CHRISTIE, CHEROKEE INDIAN: During the night, as the dew fell on the grass and whatever they were walking through, she said that's -- their dress, they women would just get out there and walk in that, you know, walk to get -- to make their dresses wet. And she said that -- after they would go through all of that, she said they'd wring their skirt tails out and keep that. That was the water they'd use for the babies.

JANELLE ADAIR, MISS CHEROKEE 1999: Women and the kids were crying because they had to carry their dead babies. Mommas were carrying their dead babies, men were carrying their dead mothers, brothers were carrying their dead sisters.

And so when they were coming across the Trail of Tears, there was a lot of sadness. And the men saw this, and so they prayed. They prayed to the creator and they said, send us something, you know, help us to get through this.

And so the creators saw this and they heard their prayers. And they told them, they said, we will send you a sign. And so everywhere the women's tears fell and when it hit the ground, a plant came up. And from that plant these little corn seeds come from.

JORDAN: A people whose spirituality is indistinguishable from the land itself were forced on an 800-mile journey into the unknown.

By spring of 1839, all of the survivors had arrived in the west. While no one knows exactly how many Indians died, accounts inevitably mention thousands. It wasn't until August until the reconstituted Cherokee Nation established its new tribal headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where it remains to this day.

Descendants of those who marched attend this mostly Native American high school there. It resembles in many ways any other American high school, only classes in Native American history and language are taught. Efforts to revive Cherokee culture are pervasive. Miss Cherokee Nation, Janelle Adair, when not studying for law school, educates non- Indians to the ways of native culture.

ADAIR: The fact that we can't speak Cherokee but our grandparents know how, I think that makes us more aware and makes us realize there's a problem. There's a whole generation that doesn't know our own language, and I think that's probably one of the reasons that the whole turnaround is coming about.

JORDAN: The Cherokee culture's savvy are never far from native crafts like beading or pottery, dollmaking or native survival techniques, evident in the blow gun demonstration.

The legacy of the Trail of Tears reverberates in modern Indian culture in the myth of the "Little People" who, according to legend, braid the mane of this horse named Hawkeye, a descendant of a horse used in the march westward over 100 years ago.

HASTINGS SHADE, DEPUTY CHIEF, CHEROKEE NATION: The "Little People" are the ones that never die. And they actually have a word for them, Anahee (ph), and that's what that means, "the ones that live on forever." And anything white, any type of animal that's white belongs to them, I was told.

JORDAN: The legacy burns distant among a people who have learned to turn adversity into triumph.

BILLY: We did all we could, but we still had to move to Oklahoma. But now we're happy. We can still survive no matter what we've gone through. And we've proved that we're a strong people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: An important part of the American legacy.

And that wraps up today's show. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.

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