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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for December 18, 2000

Aired December 18, 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: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Welcome. Here's a look at your NEWSROOM rundown for Monday.

Topping our news agenda, what will the next Bush administration look like? The president-elect spends the weekend selecting some key staffers.

Up next in "Environment Desk," we'll cozy up to a fire as we make provisions for Old Man Winter.

Then in "Worldview," we'll be hanging out with these guys.

And finally, find out what it was like picking "Time" magazine's Person of the Year.

George W. Bush makes his first trip to Washington as the United States president-elect. But before he leaves, he adds some names to his White House staff list.

Despite delays caused by the United States election dispute, President-elect George W. Bush is moving full-speed-ahead with his transition plans. Bush headed to Washington Sunday for meetings with Federal Chairman Alan Greenspan and several congressional leaders.

Vice President-elect Dick Cheney says Bush will push Congress to act quickly on his conservative agenda, starting with education reform and school vouchers. Bush is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

All the while, President-elect Bush is working fervently to build his White House staff. He's promised diversity in the new administration and appears to be following through. This weekend, he named Alberto Gonzales, a Hispanic justice of the Texas Supreme Court, to be White House counsel. He appointed his campaign communications director, Karen Hughes, to the post of counselor to the president. Bush picked retired Gen. Colin Powell to be secretary of state. And he named Condoleezza Rice, an African-American woman, to be his national security adviser.

Besides Colin Powell, another name that stands out among the people chosen to be part of the Bush administration is Condoleezza Rice. The present-elect has tapped Rice to be his national security adviser. Rice will be the first woman to lead the National Security Council. The tenured Stanford professor has advised Bush on international policy throughout is campaign.

David Ensor has this profile.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You can hear it when she plays Brahms. Condoleezza Rice exudes confidence and control in everything she does, from music to national security policy. She always has.

Growing up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement, she was taught by her parents never to allow racism to hold her back. Among the four little girls killed in 1963 when a white racist's bomb destroyed a church was a onetime playmate of Condi Rice. If there are scars from that upbringing, they do not show.

BRENT SCOWCROFT, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I see no distortions from the kinds of things she endured and suffered as she was growing up. I don't see it reflected unless it is the drive to succeed.

ENSOR: Under President Bush, Brent Scowcroft was her boss on the national security staff. As the Soviet Union was disintegrating, Rice was the top exert on that at the White House.

Forty-six, single, a professor at Stanford University, Rice shares George W. Bush's view that the Clinton administration has stretched America's military too far.

At the Republican convention that chose him, she was a star.

RICE: He recognizes that the magnificent men and woman of America's armed forces are not a global police force. They are not the world's 911.

ENSOR: If she has a weakness, it may be that, up to now, her career has focused somewhat narrowly on the former Soviet Union.

(on camera): On other issues, Iran, Iraq, bin Laden, Rice, and for that matter Gov. Bush, have remained deliberately vague.

(voice-over): And unlike the music she loves, national security teams are not always harmonious. Rice must now help a new president choose between sometimes unattractive options in a murky, undependable world.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Now, because of the closeness of this presidential election, there's been speculation that some of the electors who will vote today may defect -- that is, vote for a candidate other than the one who won their state. Only a margin of four electoral votes separates George W. Bush from Al Gore.

Now, Art Harris reports on what that could mean when electors cast their votes.

(AUDIO GAP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHUCK CLAY, CHAIRMAN, GEORGIA REPUBLICAN PARTY: ... have the opportunity to cast their vote. I am.

ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorney Chuck Clay is taking no chances. Clay heads up Georgia's Republican Party and its slate of 13 presidential electors. He's counting on them to vote the way the state went: for George W. Bush.

CLAY: Obviously we've had discussions, the Bush team has had discussions, the RNC.

HARRIS: George W. Bush should officially become president-elect by a margin of four electoral votes. He's got 271; Vice President Gore 267.

The Constitution doesn't say anything about how an elector has to vote, so Republicans are taking extraordinary steps to make sure that all 271 of their electors stay committed.

CLAY: Dick Cheney and I had a conference with the electors a couple nights ago.

HARRIS: It was a conference call designed to rally the faithful and make sure Republican electors vote the right way on Monday.

Chuck Clay plans to round up the Georgia electors for breakfast, then bus them to the state Capitol.

CLAY: In terms of Georgia, my worst nightmare is that we have a snowstorm, a blizzard, somebody has a medical emergency, the bus on the way to the Capitol veers off the road.

HARRIS: Even worse than an accident, his fear is a political catastrophe in another Republican state.

CLAY: Obviously somebody voting somewhere other way. I mean, I guess that's the worst thing that could possibly happen.

HARRIS: But Clay says he has no hint of any defectors, and he's had no pressure to switch -- except for one letter.

CLAY: A Christmas card from a lady in Upstate New York, a very nice card, a very nice note. It was not shrill or mean or anything else, appealing to my, I guess, other side -- she would like to think better side, I would think my insane side if I were even to consider it.

HARRIS: But several Republican electors around the country tell CNN they're getting e-mails, letters, phone calls urging them to jump ship and vote for Al Gore.

David Enrich, a California college student, came up with the idea of flooding electors with hundreds of e-mails. He says he's a political independent who just wants to see the Electoral College abolished.

DAVID ENRICH, COLLEGE STUDENT: We think that the Electoral College is just unfair and anti-democratic.

HARRIS: Go to an Enrich Web site and there's a list of all Republican electors, their names and addresses...

ENRICH: "Dear elector..."

HARRIS: ... even a sample letter that some people have been sending to electors.

ENRICH: ... "I understand that you are committed to support George W. Bush. But before doing so, you should weigh America's national interest."

HARRIS: Twenty-five states now have laws to bind electors. Some even threaten fines. Georgia has no such law. But Chuck Clay says his Republican electors are party loyalists, committed now more than ever to Bush.

CLAY: The stakes are too high, the fight's been too tough. It's obviously a time to move on and heal. The final step of that is casting your vote.

HARRIS: Even before his concession, Vice President Gore made it clear he didn't want any Republican defectors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not accept the support of any elector pledged to Gov. Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: But that hasn't stopped David Enrich from continuing his fight against George W. Bush.

ENRICH: We need to convince two of his 271 electors to switch their votes. So we don't need to be very successful in this, we need to be very slightly successful.

HARRIS: Chuck Clay is confident it just won't happen.

CLAY: Yes, I think that's about as likely as a comet slamming into Earth and ending us all tomorrow. You know, you can always hypothetically assume a scenario where that might happen. This is not keeping me up at night.

(on camera): If two Republican electors did defect, that would create a tie and send the contest to the House of Representatives. And the House has a Republican majority.

Art Harris, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Did you know that fresh wood doesn't burn well? It takes a year of drying before the wood is ready for use in a wood stove or fireplace. That's because water is trapped in xylem tubes within the wood.

Xylem is the main strengthening and water-conducting tissue in trees and shrubs. It carries water and minerals from the root to the rest of the plant. When wood is burned without proper drying time, water in the xylem combines with smoke particles to form soot. Soot buildup poses a risk of smoke inhalation, carbon dioxide poisoning and chimney fires. But the year-long wait is leaving some folks hung out to dry.

Bill Delaney tells us what it's costing one of America's smaller states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Vermont, 85 percent of the state is cloaked, often exquisitely, in wood. So with heating oil and natural gas prices soaring, why not heat with wood this winter? Would it could be that simple.

(on camera): With fuel prices so low for years, no one was much cutting firewood for years. And swinging the ax now is too late. It takes at least a year for wood to dry out enough to burn well.

(voice-over): Why a cord of burnable wood that cost about $95 or less a year ago now can cost $175.

Despite that, at Burlington, Vermont's chimney sweep store, wood stove sales are twice what they were a year ago.

ROY L'ESPERANCE, CHIMNEY SWEEP: It's phenomenal. If you've got three, four cords of wood stacked beside your house, you have a -- you can fight back. You can -- if the oil goes to $2 a gallon, you're there.

DELANEY: If -- and it's a big if -- you've already got your burnable wood.

Howard Buzby of Putney, Vermont does.

HOWARD BUZBY, WOOD BURNER: I'm making hot water 24 hours a day so I've probably got enough to supply the town, you know.

DELANEY: All right Howard, enough bragging. But by buying for $400 and splitting his eight cords before prices rose, Buzby will save himself thousands of dollars this winter compared to what he'd have to pay heating with oil.

BUZBY: Several times I, you know, I thought about, the heck with the wood, you know, I'll go to oil. But I never did. I stuck with the wood. I'm still going.

DELANEY: Many in New England this winter may echo that thirsty man on a raft in the saltwater ocean who said, "water, water everywhere, but none to drink." New Englanders may say, "wood, wood everywhere, but none to burn.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Richmond, Vermont.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, we focus on families. We'll journey to Russia to look at two different lifestyles. How would you like to have 18 siblings? Well, you'll hear from some Russian youngsters who know firsthand what it's like. And a couple whose lives are a big contrast -- another side of Russia. Plus, the saga of some youngsters from Sudan. These refugees are on the brink of a new life.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Sudan is a nation in turmoil. For 17 years now, civil war has raged across the largest country by size in Africa. The fighting pits Islamic government troops from the north against rebel troops from the south. The rebels are seeking greater autonomy for southern Sudanese who are largely Christian or follow traditional African religions. an estimated 2 million people, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict or the famines it has caused. Thousands more have fled, including children and teenagers. One group of lucky ones are now making their way to the United States by way of neighboring Kenya.

As Catherine Bond reports, they're leaving with mixed emotions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An evening game of basketball for the "lost boys" of Sudan, so called because, as children, they undertook an epic journey. The U.S. government has come to view these refugees as a special case, agreeing to take about 4,000 of them from this desolate refugee camp in northern Kenya.

(on camera): Do you want to go?

WILLIAM MATER, SUDANESE REFUGEE: Yes, I want go.

BOND: Why?

MATER: I'm going because of many reasons, especially the war in Sudan has really chased us up to this end. And in case if we go back to Sudan, it will not be that good.

BOND (voice-over): Like all refugees here, the lost boys have endured harsh living conditions. They tiled the roofs of the huts they've been living in themselves using food aid tins.

This was the scene when they arrived in their thousands at the Kenyan border in 1992, some with belongings, others so young they had to be carried. For them, it was the end of an odyssey fleeing hundreds of miles on foot from camps in Ethiopia; and several years earlier, from their homes in South Sudan.

More than a decade later, most of the few thousand lost boys remaining here have no idea if their parents are alive or dead. Now 17, Jacob Acek says he last saw his family when he was 4.

JACOB ACEK, SUDANESE REFUGEE: I dream always I would like to see father or mother or brother or sister, but no chance to get them.

BOND: By now, Jacob should be even farther away from his family in Phoenix, Arizona, the city chosen for him by volunteer agencies which believe these teenagers will be better off in foster homes than stuck here.

JULIANNE DUNCAN, SOCIAL WORKER: We have found that most of them really, indeed, don't have any family, they don't have any attachments here that can guide them into adulthood. And, indeed, we do think that it is in their best interest to be resettled to the United States.

BOND: Some of about two dozen lost boys and girls packed their meager belongings, unsure where exactly they were heading, but relieved to be leaving the insecurity of the Kakuma Refugee Camp behind.

"We're living alone without parents," Nancy says. "Sometimes people beat us, people are shot at night in the camp, bandits come to rob."

It's not material goods they say they're looking forward to. From the place where homework is done outside, what they're looking forward to is better schools.

(on camera): The most obvious question is, how will the lost boys adapt to living in America? Well, volunteers say they'll adapt quite well because the things they want are things most Americans take for granted: work and education.

(voice-over): Ten-year-old Asunta (ph) is worried that she might never see her friend Akol (ph) again. Though happy to be going, most say one day they want to come back.

AKOK GIR JUACH, SUDANESE REFUGEE: I think I will be back to my country because there I'm going for education, and there, if I get my degree, then I will be back to come and save the others who are in the desert.

BOND: The day of their departure, good-byes are said, the addresses of their destinations swapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's 83. BOND: Of the few belongings they had, they've given most to friends staying behind. Their kindness, patience and fortitude all qualities people here hope will see them through.

SABER AZAN, U.N. HIGH COMM. FOR REFUGEES: The strong points that these boys have is definitely their ability to cope with difficulties. They have gone through so much traumatic situations, and this is a new experience. And I'm confident that they will do their best to overcome difficulties.

BOND: An end to their lives as refugees, a beginning as U.S. immigrants. This was the third group to leave, a plane arriving at a dirt airstrip in the camp to fly them to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where later they boarded a scheduled flight to Europe, then New York.

For the lost boys of Sudan, their journey was beginning all over again.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Kakuma, northern Kenya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: From 1922 to 1991, Russia was the biggest country in the Soviet Union, and the most powerful communist country in the world. Its system penetrated most aspects of Russian life, including the family unit. The early Soviet State sought to weaken the family. But in the early 1920s, that policy changed. Soviet leaders saw a need to stabilize family life in order to rebuild the country after a devastating civil war.

Stalin's administration continued the trend of strengthening the family, awarding honors to larger families and financial assistance to millions of Russia's children. A decade after the fall of communism, its effects are still seen.

Steve Harrigan paints a portrait of one post-communist family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yelena Shishkin's new baby has no name yet. It's not easy coming up with a name when you have 19 children.

YELENA SHISHKIN: Natasha, Kolya, Lena, Denis, Sasha, Anya, Serezha, Vasya, Sveta, Pavlik, Katyushka, Tanyushka, Marinochka, Dimochka.

HARRIGAN: The Shishkin family survives on one salary: Father Alexander, a fireman, earns just $40 a month, but everybody works.

ALEXANDER SHISHKIN, FATHER (through translator): One boy watches the cows. Another watches the pigs. The girls clean the house, dividing it into parts. Otherwise there would be chaos.

HARRIGAN: It's not chaos, but it is crowded, with 10 girls and nine boys in a five-room house. Despite occasional battles for a bed and a few extra hands when you play the piano, there are some advantages to having 18 siblings.

OLGA SHISHKINA, DAUGHTER (through translator): We have four birthdays to celebrate in September. One every week.

HARRIGAN: The Shishkins are bucking a trend in Russia. A population decline of nearly 6 million in the past eight years has Russian politicians alarmed and scrambling to reintroduce Soviet-era rewards for big families and hero mothers. For the Shishkins, that means a new van with room for 21.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Next stop, a village hundreds of miles away from Moscow. We continue our look at Russian families as we turn from one extreme to the other. This time things aren't crowded at all. In fact, they're quite the opposite.

You'll see what we mean in this second report from Steve Harrigan; yet another view of the way people live.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russian village of Lebyazha, 500 miles south of Moscow, doesn't get many visitors. There used to be a schoolhouse, a store, electricity; 300 families all worked at the collective farm. Today, there is just one woman left: 70-year-old Irina Vizovkina.

IRINA VIZOVKINA (through translator): Your grannies would probably fall over if they tried to carry this bucket.

HARRIGAN: And her husband, 71-year-old Vitaly.

VITALY VIZOVKINA (through translator): Weeks go by where you see no one, especially in the winter. There's no electricity, no jobs for young people. That's why everyone's left.

HARRIGAN: Alcoholism and poverty combined to shrink Russia's population by more than 3 million during the Yeltsin era. In some rural areas, deaths outnumber births by 4-1. That means entire villages are disappearing, like neighboring Vershina, with a population of zero. The Vizovkinas know their fate will be the same.

I. VIZOVKINA (through translator): After us, there will be emptiness.

HARRIGAN: With the nearest neighbors a day's drive away, no commerce and no light, the wolves are at the door.

V. VIZOVKINA (through translator): They've eaten all of my goats -- 26 goats grazing around the house.

HARRIGAN: The only time it gets lonely, Vitaly says, is on holidays. The lack of company does not bother Irina.

I. VIZOVKINA (through translator): Why do I need women friends? I go out in the woods, see a fox cub and talk to it. I can talk to a crow sitting on a tree. I can talk to a moose when I see it.

HARRIGAN (on camera): The biggest worry for Irina Vizovkina is that no one will be left to take care of the graves.

(voice-over): Vizovkinas who fought in World War I and World War II, whose village and history will soon perish as well.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Lebyazha, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: More now from Russia's wild kingdom, as we check out the nerpi or Baikal seals. This species is unique to Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's oldest existing freshwater lake. The lake is about 25 million years old. It's also the deepest continental body of water in the world, reaching more than 5,300 feet, or 1,600 meters.

The seals which make their home there have declined by almost a third over the last six years. The biggest problem: poaching. Nerpis are hunted for their rich, soft fur, as well as for food and oil. And hard economic times in Russia have brought an increase in poaching. Another problem: toxic waters from a paper mill near the lake.

Seals are fin-footed mammals. They live on fish and shellfish, and many dive down deep to find food, navigating by echolocation. Echolocation is the process for locating distant or invisible objects by means of sound waves reflected back to the emitter.

For more on animals and echolocation, check your NEWSROOM archives for October 31 for a story on bats.

BAKHTIAR: For almost 75 years, "Time" magazine has reserved the cover of its year-end issue to name the person it feels had the greatest impact on the news. This year, the nod goes to U.S. President-elect George W. Bush.

"Time" magazine is owned by the same parent company as CNN.

Here now is a closer look at how "Time"'s Man of the Year was chosen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chin down a little bit. That's good. Now come right in toward me with a nice -- that's good. That's good. That looks presidential, right there. That looks nice.

WALTER ISAACSON, "TIME" MANAGING EDITOR: This year it was pretty nerve-wracking because we went up to the last moment. But that also made it very exciting because we got to be very newsy.

Once the election came and then the election contest and the controversy over it, we made a pretty clear decision, which was that whichever man won would probably almost surely be Person of the Year.

JIM KELLY, "TIME" DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: I'd be less than honest if I didn't say there were a couple of times when I thought we might end up putting both men on the cover. And we even prepared for the possibility that, in fact, the vice president would prevail. But by Tuesday night of the week we were closing, we realized, you know, yes, we have a cover subject.

I'd wake up at 3:00 in the morning, you know, in a cold sweat wondering, did we, you know -- are we spending our resources in the right place? And, you know, we ended up -- it turned out we did.

ISAACSON: It gave us the opportunity in picking somebody who, for better or worse, encapsulated this year, to say whichever of these guys becomes president is a symbol not only of what our nation went through, but the controversies, the dreams and also the disappointments that were all part of this year's political process.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: And that does it for us here on NEWSROOM. Come back tomorrow for more. Bye.

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