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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 20, 2000

Aired November 20, 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: It is Monday here on NEWSROOM. Welcome. I am Rudi Bakhtiar. Here is a look at today's agenda.

On it goes, the U.S. presidential race, too close to call, is now in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court.

Next, put on your traveling shoes. We are heading to the Lone Star State, and dropping in on the smoggiest city in the U.S.

NEWSROOM is still on the move in "Worldview," the next stop: Vietnam.

And we are back to American political in "Chronicle." Listen, as young voters speak out.

In today's top story: the disputed United States presidential election heads to the Florida Supreme Court. At issue is whether the manual recounting of ballots should continue, and whether the results should be included in the official state results.

Democrats are asking Florida's high court to set standards for deciding what voters really meant when they punched ballots in the November 7 presidential election. Al Gore's lawyers say, previous state court rulings have set rules for determining the will of the voter in close elections.

By contrast, lawyers for George W. Bush want the state Supreme Court to call an end to the election hand recounts, which are underway in Broward and Palm Beach County. Miami-Dade County is set to begin hand counting Monday.

Republicans say Florida's secretary of state has the authority to certify election results without accepting hand counts.

The unofficial state vote tally shows the overseas absentee ballots, which were counted this weekend tripled Bush's lead over Gore. An associated Press survey indicates nearly 40 percent of Florida's overseas absentee ballots were rejected for several reasons, including incorrect post marks and absence of signatures.

President Clinton says the ongoing battle for the White House will eventually be settled through the courts. Mr. Clinton, who has just returned from a state trip to Vietnam is calling on both Republicans and Democrats to relax and let the process play out.

Here is what he had to say in an exclusive interview with John King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think we should have all these hand-wringing, dire predictions. We've got a system that's under way, and, you know, yes, these guys are, you know -- the advocates for either side are under enormous pressure. And of course, they're being pretty snippy with each other from time to time. But, look, you'd expect it. I mean, 100 million people voted, and there's 1,000 votes, more or less, at stake in Florida.

So everybody ought to just relax, let the process play out. But don't assume that no matter who wins and no matter what happens, it's going to be bad for America. It might be quite good because it might be sobering for the country to realize we're in a completely new era. Nobody's got a lock on the truth. We're all trying to understand the future.

It's still clear that about two-thirds of the American people want a dynamic center that pulls the people together and moves us forward, and I think we still have a fair chance to achieve that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: Election 2000 draws the attention on the world press. International journalists camped out in Florida hand on every word, protest, and ruling in the recount saga. So what do world journalists think.

Well, in his reporters notebook, our Jason Bellini samples their perspectives on just how the high stakes political joust plays on the world stage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a lot like the Elian Gonzalez story about six months ago, also like the O.J. Simpson trial several years ago. This time, the world's news media has built for itself a global linked tent city in West Palm Beach, Florida to report on the recounting of presidential ballots.

(on camera); What do say in your stand up down there, when you are standing among all these protesters.

OLE TORP, NORWEGIAN BROADCASTING CORP.: I am saying something about that this election has seemingly created a huge divide between two groups of people in the United States, the Republican and Democrats.

MANUEL ALMANDERA, SPANISH TELEVISION: The most important aspect for them is the master (ph) to this, so that the one and half week after the elections, they don't know the name of the president of the United States.

SVEN HUYS, DUTCH STATE TELEVISION: Everybody knows that this is the most powerful country in the world. So we want to know who is going to be your next president.

BELLINI: Journalists from other countries aren't only interested in who elect as our next president, but also how we are electing our next president and what is going on with this process that seems to have gotten messed up so how.

QUESTION: How can you explain around the world what is happening in the United States?

STATE SEN. RON KLEIN (D), FLORIDA: Their questions seem not to be so much on what are the specifics of what is going on at this moment, but: What is the American system all about? Why is this happening? What will be the outcome? How will this impact voters?

MEG NEZU, JAPANESE TELEVISION: We were thinking all the world, America was the best in a democracy and they are the text book of democracy. And now things what is actually happening, it is much more complicated and much more complex.

BELLINI (voice-over): A Japanese television reporter goes live to Japan 11 time zones away several times each day with the latest in the progress of the vote count and the legal battle surrounding it. Because no one knows how long it will take to complete the recount or whether the recount here will actually decide the final outcome of the election, the confusion is the story.

NEZU: We thought America is the leader of the world and look at what is going on right here. At the same time, OK, all of these people are down in Florida, Palm Beach County, are actually the same people as we are, we make mistakes, we are not perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like the bad rep we get, that we are all so stupid we can't figure out a ballot.

BELLINI: Most reporters, though, focused on a positive side of American democracy. It may be loud and heated but no one expects this dispute to lead to lead to chaos or revolution.

IZNCIO ESPINOZA, MEXICAN TELEVISION: The protests here is different to the protests in the other country. Because here only talking allowed, no problem; but in other country, the government send to the military on the street. It is different when the people are protesting in another country, especially in Latin America.

TORP: In other countries of the world, you would have people shooting at each other in the streets by now. So I think it is a good sign for American democracy that people are still arguing with words.

BELLINI: How long will the arguing go on before one of the two candidates is declared the next U.S. president? The world is watching to find out.

Jason Bellini, for CNN NEWSROOM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: During the presidential campaign, Texas Governor George W. Bush was widely criticized for allowing Houston to become the nation's smoggiest city. Now what exactly is smog? Well, it is a fog made heavier and darker by smoke and chemical fumes.

The sources of smog include cars, trucks, and factories. So what is Houston doing about its pollution problem? Well, the city is being hit with a series of tough new environmental restrictions that may change the way Houston residents live.

CNN's Charles Zewe has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jonathan Ammons mows 30 lawns a week in suburban Houston. Beginning next year, mowing a lawn before noon in the eight-county Houston area will be banned.

JONATHAN AMMONS, LANDSCAPER: It would mean I would have to go out of business, because I couldn't work in the afternoons it gets so hot down here.

ZEWE: Mowing limits are part of what Texas environmental officials say are the toughest clean-air restrictions ever imposed on an American city. State air regulators say because Houston has some of the poorest air quality in the U.S., Texas faces a loss of $2 billion in federal highway money unless it dramatically lowers ozone emissions in the Houston metro.

BOB HUSTON, CHAIRMAN, TEXAS NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION COMMISSION: And we are indeed going to reach out and touch everybody. I think that's tough but appropriate.

ZEWE: Petrochemical refineries, the chief source of Houston's ozone pollution, will be forced to cut emissions by 90 percent. Heavy construction before noon will be forbidden, speed limits on Houston freeways set at 55, and cleaner-burning fuels ordered sold. Diesel engines on fire trucks, buses and heavy equipment will have to be fitted with catalytic converters and all new air-conditioning condenser units sprayed with a chemical compound that turns ozone into oxygen.

Among Houstonians, the plan is unpopular.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there is any smog in Houston.

ZEWE: Contractors predict thousands of lost jobs and more dangerous construction sites.

STEVE PATE, PRESIDENT, HOUSTON CONTRACTORS ASSN.: The nighttime is just another factor to, you know, to put in there that could cause a potential accident. ZEWE: Environmentalists charge the new restrictions won't work and are designed to provoke a voter backlash against environmental regulation.

RICK ABRAHAM, TEXANS UNITED: Politicians are telling them it's the law that's wrong, that's extreme when who they should be mad at is the politicians for breaking their promises and failing to live up to their responsibilities.

ZEWE: The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is expected to approve the plan in early December.

(on camera): But skeptical environmental groups say that air quality in Houston has gotten so bad in recent years that even tougher measures are needed to clean up pollution in America's fourth-largest city.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Houston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, we'll be checking out two big organizations that are powerhouses around the world. We'll hear about a special program of the European Union and meet some young musicians who are working for world harmony. Plus, we'll meet stars involved with the United Nations. Those stories have us crisscrossing around the globe. And we'll also touch down in Afghanistan, a nation hit hard by drought.

But first we begin our world journey in Vietnam. President Clinton has just ended a historic, three-day visit there. It was the first visit by a U.S. president since the Vietnam War.

But as Mike Chinoy reports, the country and the Vietnamese people have come a long way since that time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty percent of Vietnam's people are under 40. Half weren't even born when the war ended, the first generation in nearly a century to come of age in peace.

(on camera): For this generation, the war is ancient history, the ruling Communist Party virtually irrelevant. Young people now have a new set of hopes and ambitions that are helping to reshape the face of Vietnam.

NGUYEN TUYET MAI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, VIDOTOURS: They think, forget about the war now because life goes on and you can't just think about the past too much. You have to think about the future, how to make it better.

CHINOY (voice-over): Nguyen Tuyet Mai's personal journey is an uncanny reflection of her country's. Daughter of a Communist Party member, she quit the state-run tourism bureau to start her own travel agency. Today, she heads a multimillion-dollar business, using the profits to open a shop selling fashions she designs herself.

MAI: The image of the young, aggressive and very confident, stylish. Because of the information of the Internet, no border anymore internal information, so they get very, very quick all the trend around the world.

CHINOY: Trung Gia Binh is riding a trend too. He runs an 800- person software company.

TRUNG GIA BINH, CORP. FOR FINANCING AND PROMOTING TECHNOLOGY: The Internet, the computers are very exciting for Vietnamese young generations because they are eager to learn new things. They are eager to know knew things.

CHINOY: Hong Nhung is one of Vietnam's biggest pop stars. She says her ability to perform freely is a cultural barometer for the entire society.

HONG NHUNG, POP STAR: Secondly, it opens like room the Internet, computer, American music, Vietnamese music, this activity, that activity, this organization, that organization. You have freedom.

CHINOY: Hong Nhung says her parents' generation doesn't understand what she's doing.

NHUNG: I think there's a big gap between the two generations. They always try to be as more conservative as they can.

CHINOY: But after so many years of depravation, times are good in Vietnam right now. And Hong Nhung's generation is convinced they're only going to get better.

NHUNG: We grew up and never think about the war anymore. Only think about is to gain as much happiness as possible.

CHINOY: Mike Chinoy, CNN, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: We head to Europe and one of the world's economic powerhouses. It's not one nation in particular, but rather a group of 15 countries in Western Europe, known as the European Union, or EU, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Combined, its population is greater than the United States and the value of its imports and exports is greater than that of any single country in the world.

The EU's members have joined forces in large part to create a single economic market without internal barriers to trade and investment. But they've also joined forces to create something that has little to do with business and finance. Instead, it has to do with young people and music.

Jim Gibbons has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM GIBBONS, EUTV REPORTER (voice-over): Most television stories require words. This one works better with music.

For its millennium concert at the European Parliament, the young people who make up the European Union Youth Orchestra entertained under the baton of an experienced but, for them, new conductor.

YAKOV KREISBERG, CONDUCTOR, EUYO: These young men and women are anywhere between 15 and 23 and they are absolutely magnificent. They are a joy. They always are a joy.

GIBBONS: The orchestra was joined by soprano Naomi Naderlin (ph) for this special concert in front of European parliamentarians, members of the commission and others.

The European Union Youth Orchestra has been running for 22 years, during which time some 3,000 talented, young musicians have passed through its ranks. For them, it's a rare chance to work with people from other EU nations.

DANIELA JUNG, ORCHESTRA LEADER: You need great conductors. And the atmosphere is very special because where else can meet people from all countries around Europe? It's quite difficult normally. And it's normal you try to learn the other languages and you see what people learn in the other countries.

GIBBONS: The orchestra, founded by resolution of the European Parliament, plays in many different countries, acting as a mobile, musical ambassador for the EU. Many of its members have gone on to full-time positions with leading, world-class orchestras.

JOY BRYER, SECRETARY GENERAL, EUYO: All young musicians want jobs. And no matter what great orchestra in Europe you see today, the Consettabo (ph), the LSO, the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna, you will see young people from this orchestra playing.

GIBBONS: For the young players, it's a chance to flex their musical muscles under the batons of world-class conductors. It's a chance to discover, too, if music is to be their career or just an enjoyable detour from their main studies.

MARK ALMOND, HORN PLAYER, EUYO: I don't actually study music, I study medicine. So it's a bit of a choice of which I've not fully made my mind up yet. But I'm definitely going to carry on playing.

GIBBONS (on camera): The European Union Youth Orchestra is one of the EU's proudest achievements. It is, after all, living proof that people from 15 member states can work together truly harmoniously.

Jim Gibbons, EUTV, for the CNN "WORLD REPORT," in Brussels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: A southwestern Asian nation, Afghanistan is one of the world's least developed countries. It does not have a sea coast, but is bordered instead by countries such as Iran and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the predominant line of work is farming, which produces barley, corn, cotton and fruits, some of the country's chief agricultural products.

But farming is becoming difficult. Rivers are drying up after years of drought -- rivers crucial for irrigation. The people of Afghanistan are struggling to survive, as Nic Robertson explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperate for water, Afghan women dig in a dried up irrigation canal. Three years without proper rain has left all but one of southern Afghanistan's nine rivers dry.

(on camera): Empty now for more than four months, this dam was once more than 40 meters deep, and provided water and livelihood for more than 1 million people. The valley, it's said, was fabled for its fine fruits. Now, all that and more is threatened.

SIMON TAYLOR, MERCY CORPS INTERNATIONAL: The absence of rain will mean one thing: mass population movement, and that's what we're trying to discourage at the moment.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Providing drinking water, the top priority. This well already left dry by the rapidly falling water table. Villagers crowd around another, its hole just deep enough to reach water.

"The water keeps receding," Haji (ph) says. "Yes, it keeps receding and it's got worms," adds Mohammed.

Even the old here say they have never seen the situation so bad. Their fear, if the water runs out, they will have to leave. Already, they say, most of their 10,000 animals -- this village's livelihood -- have either died or been sold because there is no food.

Further down the valley, fruit farmers face a similar plight.

"You can see they are dry," Yar (ph) says. "They have nothing in them."

His fear now: lack of water will kill the trees. At a nearby well, girls collect water while they can. With no rain expected any time soon, aid groups say they have no idea how long the rapidly dwindling supplies will last. Already, tens of thousands have fled to cities in search of water and food. Among the hardest hit: the nomadic Kuchus (ph).

"I am so hungry," Mohammed says. "I cannot afford any food."

Malnutrition is not a killer yet. Aid officials, however, worry their food stocks will not meet demand.

LESLIE OQUIST, U.N. COORDINATOR: It's very, very severe. And unless rain falls in the coming rainy season, probably we'll see Africa-like pictures in this region.

ROBERTSON: More than 5 million people are threatened. So far, the falling water is costing them only their livelihoods. The fear is, with no rain, it will start costing lives.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Next in "Worldview," we head to the United Nations. The U.N. is an organization of nations that works for world peace and security and the betterment of humanity. It was established on October 24, 1945, shortly after World War II. Nations came together to make sure that such a war never happened again. They met to work out a plan for an organization that would help keep world peace.

Over the years, celebrities have gotten involved in the United Nations efforts in an attempt to put a human face on world problems.

Cynthia Tornquist has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Last year, I was able to go to Albania and see a U.N. pilot program involved in trading in arms for jobs, which I think has a lot of effect.

CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Douglas, Mia Farrow, Harry Belafonte, Susan Sarandon and Geri Halliwell were among 50 celebrities from around the world who gathered at the United Nations.

MIA FARROW, ACTRESS: I've been asked to join UNICEF on the more narrow issue of the eradication of Polio. And I was asked to do so because I had Polio as a child.

TORNQUIST: They talked about ways to bring attention and support for U.N. concerns such as human rights, disarmament and drug control, as well as providing assistance to developing nations and relief to refugees and children.

DOUGLAS: The people who would not normally listen to it are forced to. And in that sense, I think we can make a dent.

TORNQUIST: But there's also some celebrity frustration with U.N. bureaucracy.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: But the sense of coming back having experienced so much and feeling like you've done so little, I find really, really upsetting and frustrating.

QUESTION: Interesting point. Why do you not have the mechanism? Is it that the U.N. structure isn't in place?

SARANDON: Well, I -- yes.

(LAUGHTER)

At times it can be a kind of dangerous and lonely job, and it's good to know that there's other people out there when you're under fire that you can talk to.

TORNQUIST (on camera): Over the years, many prominent people have lent their names, talents and time to support U.N. programs as goodwill ambassadors and celebrity advocates.

(voice-over): In 1954, Danny Kaye became UNICEF's first goodwill ambassador. Audrey Hepburn traveled to the corners of the world in the tireless pursuit of the rights and well-being of children.

New personalities have taken up the cause.

GERI HALLIWELL, SINGER: I was dropped in the deep end very, very quickly; and -- but, you know, I'm one of these people that makes their parachute on the way down.

TORNQUIST: Celebrities believe, as goodwill ambassadors and messengers of peace, they can put a human face on world problems.

Cynthia Tornquist, CNN, the United Nations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: In "Chronicle" today, we turn the spotlight back on the U.S. presidential race. The still-undecided election has caused many young voters to become politically invigorated. There is growing concern, however, that as the legal battle in Florida drags on -- and on -- those same young voters may start losing interest.

Jennifer Auther reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the news today?

JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Political science courses at universities across the United States are pulsing with debate about the presidential election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many recounts are we going to have? Until Gore wins?

AUTHER: It was African-American students from Florida A&M who staged a sit-in at the state capitol two days after the election, demanding answers about alleged voter intimidation by Florida state troopers. Their concerns resonated on the West Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They saw that Gore was going to win the state and they started doing some shady stuff in the state, and that's why there's all these problems.

AUTHER: Young voters in both major parties may be setting a new trend.

MICHAEL MACK, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA YOUNG REPUBLICANS: I think you are going to see a lot of rallies around college campuses like you saw in the '60s, possibly, if this drags on longer. EDWARD ESPINOZA, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA YOUNG DEMOCRATS: There is definitely a lot of emotion right now, I think it's very plain to say, and a lot of people are energized by this.

AUTHER: That is borne out on the Internet. Traffic on both candidate's Web sites spiked around Election Day. The Gore-Lieberman site jumped almost 37 percent the day after the election, while the Bush-Cheney Web page saw a 195-percent boost.

Of the Nielsen Net ratings tracked on the Web for 18- to 24-year- olds, Yahoo!'s DAILYNews led the pack, getting a 39 percent lift last week among young voters, a huge difference from the past two presidential elections.

(on camera): The Federal Election Commission found the number of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 dropped about 23 percent in 1996. That's down from the 1992 election cycle, which ushered President Clinton into the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you turned off by what's going on?

AUTHER (voice-over): Professor Sheldon Kamanecki (ph) at the University of Southern California is concerned, though, that this election cycle may also increase cynicism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a lot of them were discouraged because this was their first time to vote.

AUTHER: Now that they're engaged, Professor Kamanecki says presidential candidates can no longer take younger voters lightly.

Jennifer Auther, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: And that does it for us here on NEWSROOM. We'll see you back here tomorrow same time, same place. Bye.

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