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NEWSROOM for February 19, 2001Aired February 19, 2001 - 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: Hello, everyone. I'm Tom Haynes here with your Monday NEWSROOM and a look at today's rundown.
Airstrikes against Iraq top our news agenda.
Next, a fine, feathered mystery is the focus of our "Environment Desk."
Then "Worldview" introduces us to a man of honor.
Finally, we'll catch up with some young Kosovars chronicling their experiences on film.
First today, the Iraqi people speak out against Friday's allied airstrikes in Baghdad. Meantime, the Iraqi government vows retaliation.
More than 3,000 protesters gathered in Baghdad Sunday to condemn the bombing of military sites near the capital. Twenty-four planes, 16 American and eight British, took part in the air raid, which targeted several key Iraqi defense sites.
U.S. and British authorities say the strike was necessary to protect planes patrolling the no-fly zone. For at least a decade, U.S. and British forces have enforced a ban on Iraqi aircraft in the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. The zones were set up after the Persian Gulf War in 1991 to protect Kurdish refugees and Shi'ite Muslims.
For the past three years, however, Iraq has refused to recognize the restrictions, resulting in conflict. Iraq says two people were killed and at least 20 more injured in Friday's air strikes. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said the attacks are the beginning of a holy war. The Iraqi government is appealing to other Arab nations to unite against the United States.
As we mentioned, Iraqis have organized protests condemning the United States for its role in Friday's allied bombings. And some key U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe disapprove of the recent strikes.
Jane Arraf has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turning disaster into opportunity, Iraq is rallying more support after Friday's air strikes. These school boys have grown up under sanctions just a few of the thousands of protesters at Sunday's official demonstrations against the U.S. To cheer them on, a Syrian movie star.
"Iraq is in my conscience and the people of Iraq and the children of Iraq. Nothing will keep me from here," she told the crowd.
It's not just Iraqis; one of the first foreign policy moves of President George W. Bush has been widely condemned even by Iraq's former enemies. Egypt, a key U.S. ally, said the air-strike was a major setback. It's visiting trade minister was more cautious, but the size of the business delegation he led to Baghdad, spoke volumes.
YOUSSEF BOUTROS GHALI, EGYPTIAN ECONOMY MINISTER: We are here for supporting the people of Iraq and the relations between the two people's economic and financial so as to help Iraq provide for its people its basic needs.
ARRAF: But Iraq says one of needs is to liberate Palestine. President Saddam Hussein says he's ordered training of an army of Iraqis to fight Israel. Iraqi media says this latest bombing by Israel's latest backer just strengthens its resolve.
(on camera): In just a week, new U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will tour the Gulf. Arab diplomats say he will have a lot of explaining to do in some capitals about the timing of this attack.
Jane Arraf, CNN, Baghdad.
HAYNES: International reaction to Friday's airstrike by the U.S. and Great Britain has been mixed. France, China, Russia and most of the Arab world have widely criticized the action.
CNN's Rym Brahimi has more.
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The British government says it is ready to authorize more strikes against Baghdad if necessary, and stated Friday's raids followed acts of repression by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein against Shi'ite Muslims.
ROBIN COOK, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We have been able to stop them increasing the bloodshed by bombing them from the air. That is the reason why the no-fly zone is in place.
BRAHIMI: British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook also told journalists the raids were necessary to protect the pilots patrolling the no-fly zones and indicated what the Iraqi leadership should do to ensure there would be no more raids.
COOK: That is for Saddam Hussein to stop targeting our pilots and to start carrying out his obligations under the U.N. resolutions and abandon his weapons of mass destruction.
BRAHIMI: But public opinion in Britain is divided, with some papers pointing to British strategy to reinforce military ties with Washington after U.S. opposition to the European Union's Rapid Reaction Force.
A former ally in the 1991 war against Iraq, France is asking the U.S. administration for an explanation. In Russia the reaction has been one of condemnation. By officials:
ALEXANDER VOKOVENKO, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): This unprovoked action shows that Washington and London continue to believe in military action against Iraq. This line contradicts U.N. resolutions and other norms of international law.
BRAHIMI: By parliamentarians:
ALEXEI ARBATOV, DEPARTMENT HEAD, DEFENCE COMMITTEE: It is a show of force which proved to be totally inefficient.
BRAHIMI: And by some of the Russian people:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why is it necessary to deliver air strikes? It is hard to imagine what would happen if every country started bombing another.
BRAHIMI: But, less surprisingly, perhaps, the primary international condemnation toward the air strikes came from Arab and Muslim countries. Palestinians demonstrating in front of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem talked of humiliation. In Jordan, where most of the people are of Palestinian origin, the protests carried out in front of the Iraqi embassy were designed to show support. And other protesters voiced suspicions that the air strikes were aimed at diverting attention from Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza.
Rym Brahimi, CNN.
HAYNES: In the headlines today, U.S. President Bush dedicates a new museum at the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil: the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at Oklahoma City. The museum not only tells the story of the 168 people who were killed in the 1995 bombing, but also how the tragedy brought the nation together.
CNN national correspondent Tony Clark has the story.
TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You step into this museum and you step back to April 19, 1995. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: The sound is of a Water Resources Board meeting across the street from the Murrah building. It is just after 9:00 a.m.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... receive information regarding...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARI WATKINS, MEMORIAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: And as the bomb explodes, you see the faces of the 168 victims and you begin to realize they weren't faceless individuals in that building, they were all individuals.
CLARK: The sounds and the destruction surrounds you: the concrete rubble, the offices that are torn apart, and the everyday things of life now symbols of lives that have been shattered.
This is the dress Florence Rogers was wearing when the floor collapsed in front of her desk, killing the eight coworkers she had just called into her third-floor office.
FLORENCE ROGERS, BOMBING SURVIVOR: It brought back April the 19th very vividly, and I just kind of stood there and found myself sobbing.
CLARK: The museum tells the story of the Oklahoma City bombing with hundreds of photographs, hours of video and countless artifacts and interactive computer stations. There is a wall of justice that talks about Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the men convicted of the attack.
But the real focus, through pictures and personal mementos, is on the 149 adults and 19 children who were lost -- children like Aaron and Elijah Coverdale.
JANNIE COVERDALE, VICTIMS' GRANDMOTHER: It makes people know that, hey, they were here. They lived. They were here and they were important to us.
CLARK: And for people like Tom and Marsha Kight, who lost their daughter, Frankie, it is even more.
MARSHA KIGHT, VICTIM'S MOTHER: It also tells a story of a nation coming together and wrapping their arms around us and embracing us and giving us hope when we didn't have a lot of hope.
CLARK: In the end, hope and remembrance is what this museum and this memorial is all about.
Tony Clark, CNN, Oklahoma City.
HAYNES: In "Environment Desk" today, we address toxic threats to animals. When a toxic substance enters an ecosystem, it usually begins at what's called the lowest trophic level. Trophic level is the level an organism occupies in the food chain. In this case, we're talking about threats to the bald eagle, which occupies a pretty good place in the food chain.
The problem is that doesn't seem to be protecting the United States' national bird from a new and mysterious threat. Researchers are at a loss to explain what's been killing dozens of bald eagles in the Southeastern United States.
Brian Cabell has the story.
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Something is killing bald eagles in the Southeastern United States, and no one's sure exactly what it is. Over the last six years, more than 80 of the majestic birds have fallen victim to the mystery ailment. Researchers have a name for the disease -- avian vacuolar myelinopathy, or AVM -- but they don't know how the eagles contract it.
JIM OZIER, GA. DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES: Well, the disease is appearing in coots and other waterfowl, and also in eagles and some other birds. We're speculating that maybe it's being passed to the eagles through the coots, which is one of their food supplies.
JOHN FISCHER, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: The lesion consists of these clear spaces called vacuoles.
CABELL: Researchers are conducting autopsies on the dead eagles, searching for clues.
FISCHER: Well, the diagnostic work, so far, has not found any evidence of bacteria, viruses or parasites. That kind of leaves us with the possibility of some type of compound, either natural or manmade, that's in the environment that may be the cause of the problem.
CABELL: A toxic algae bloom is one possibility, authorities say. Eagles build their nests atop trees near rivers, lakes and the ocean because that's where their food, fish and waterfowl, comes from.
Over the last three decades, bald eagles have made a remarkable recovery in the lower 48 United States, thanks in large part to the Endangered Species Act, which protects them and their habitat.
There were only 450 nesting pairs in the 1960s. Many had been killed off by the pesticide DDT, which was finally banned in 1972. Today, there are 4,500 nesting pairs; that's a 10-fold increase. But that burgeoning population is now being threatened by a mystery disease, one which wildlife officials say will not be easily eradicated.
Brian Cabell, CNN, Atlanta.
HAYNES: The American Navy traces its roots back to the Revolution, although the Department of the Navy was not established until 1798. We'll tell you plenty about the modern day Navy in two special reports coming up March 13 as part of our military series: "To Serve a Nation." Watch for that right here on CNN NEWSROOM.
Meantime, today in "Worldview," we meet a man who has taken Navy pride to new depths.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: The United States continues its month- long observance of black history month. Today we introduce you to a man you might not have heard of before: Carl Brashear. If adversity is truly the test of strong men, then he has proved himself to be almost Herculean.
From racism and bureaucracy to a crippling injury that almost took his life, Brashear overcame obstacles and setbacks that would have defeated most people. But to talk to Brashear, you'd think it was all in a day's work.
Art Harris has the story of this American man of honor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEN OF HONOR")
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: You can go on back to whatever 'burg you sprang from. What do you say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. are men at odds in the new military drama "Men of Honor." But their characters are separated by more than race, they're separated by reality.
De Niro's character is Hollywood fiction, while Gooding's is based on a real man, this man: Carl Brashear.
At 69, Brashear has long since retired from the Navy. But from time to time he's called back to speak to a new generation of sailors about the triumphs and tragedies that have made him a legend in the world of deep-sea diving.
CARL BRASHEAR, U.S. NAVY (RET): So how long have you been in the Navy there, Mr. Gordon?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a year and a half.
BRASHEAR: About a year and a half? Do you like diving?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a lot.
BRASHEAR: All right. I used to eat, live and sleep diving.
HARRIS: Brashear's love of diving and the sea was not forged in some port city but at this small pond in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
BRASHEAR: This is where I learned to swim. I was around 5 years old. Sometimes I'd stay in the water so much my mother would say I looked just ;like those mud turtles in the pond.
HARRIS: Born into a sharecropping family in 1931, Brashear grew up in this house. He worked the land alongside his father, but never saw a future in plowing the earth.
BRASHEAR: I found working and living on this farm was boring, unexciting and just plain hard work.
HARRIS: Then in 1948, a 17-year-old Carl Brashear saw his chance for a better life in the military.
BRASHEAR: When I talked to the Navy recruiter in Elizabethtown, I was looking for somewhere with more opportunities and a brighter future. That's what it was. And he talked nice to me, and I joined the United States Navy.
HARRIS: Even though President Harry Truman had desegregated the military before Brashear enlisted, the military, like the rest of society had limited opportunities for African-Americans.
(on camera): You joined the Navy, you became a cook, a steward. How did you feel about that?
BRASHEAR: Well I accepted this type of job because I had no other choice at the time of being a steward.
HARRIS (voice-over): But Brashear yearned for something more and set his sights on what seemed, in the early '50s, to be the unthinkable. Brashear wanted to be a Navy salvage diver.
BRASHEAR: I submitted a request to go to deep-sea diving school, and my request would get lost or it would get washed in the division officer's shirt or just various things. And at one point they told me, since the Navy didn't have any colored divers, and I said, well, are you about ready? The Navy's about ready to have a colored diver,
HARRIS: Brashear persisted and finally won admission into the Navy's elite diving school. But admission didn't mean acceptance. Brashear says the white students in his class shunned him, and sometimes the cruelty didn't end there.
BRASHEAR: On two occasions I had a note written on my bunk that, we going to drown you today, nigger. And another occasion, I found a note on my bunk that read, no nigger divers allowed.
HARRIS: If the threats bothered the easygoing Brashear, he never really let it show. And his can-do attitude paid off.
(on camera): So you graduated?
BRASHEAR: Yes, as I say, we started with a class of 30 and we finished with 17.
HARRIS: And you finished?
BRASHEAR: And I finished 16 in that class.
HARRIS: You didn't finish last.
BRASHEAR: No, I didn't finish last. I wasn't the anchor man.
HARRIS (voice-over): And with that, Carl Brashear became America;s first black Navy diver -- a stunning achievement, but just a prelude of things to come.
It's 1966, the height of the Cold War. A B-52 and an Air Force tanker collide off the coast of Spain. A hydrogen bomb is lost in the Mediterranean. The U.S. and Russia are now in a race to retrieve it.
For three months, Carl Brashear and his diving crew aboard the USS Hoist searched for the missing nuclear bomb. On March 22nd, they found it. Three days later, as Brashear and others worked to bring the bomb to the surface, a line snapped, flinging a steel bar across the deck of the Hoist.
BRASHEAR: There were seven or eight men on the railing there throwing heaving lines to the boat. And I rushed over there to get them out of the way, because I knew the bar was going to be going right in that direction.
HARRIS: Brashear got his men out of the way but not himself.
BRASHEAR: The bar struck me and I was over down on the port side. And then it jerked me back, and then it slammed me on the deck. And that's when it tore my leg off.
HARRIS: It took six hours to get Brashear from the Hoist to a hospital in Spain.
BRASHEAR: The helicopter ran out of fuel, and I had run out of blood. By the time I got to the hospital, the doctor thought I was dead. So he rolled me down towards the morgue. And he said he took another check on me, and he said he felt a very faint heartbeat. And he said, my god, he's not dead.
HARRIS: Brashear had survived the morgue. But now the question was: Could he save his career as a Navy diver?
BRASHEAR: They thought I was crazy, and they thought I didn't have the chance of a snowball in hell.
HARRIS: Shortly after the accident, the Navy awarded Brashear a medal for heroism. It also handed him his discharge papers. But Brashear, with his left leg amputated below the knee, refused to sign them. He had other plans.
BRASHEAR: I hadn't reached my goal. My goal was to be a master diver and to serve 30 years in the United States Navy. I take my disabilities more or less as a nuisance and an inconvenience, not as a handicap.
HARRIS: And do Brashear, now fitted with a prosthetic leg, came up with a way to show the Navy that he could still do his job.
BRASHEAR: So I started sneaking away from the naval hospital, going to the second-class diving school.
HARRIS: Brashear had pictures taken of his covert activities and handed them to the Navy.
BRASHEAR: They thought it was some kind of fake. They didn't think that I had accomplished this on my own.
HARRIS: Officials didn't believe that an amputee could handle the heavy diving equipment, but they did agree to a series of tests.
BRASHEAR: They set up this training program for me, walking up ladders in the hospital with barbells on my back.
HARRIS: More tests followed, and Brashear passed them, too.
Ultimately, the decision rested with the Navy medical board, which ordered one last, arduous task. Brashear had to prove he could stand up in a 290-pound diving suit -- a real-life turning point for Brashear that's become the basis for one of the most dramatic moments in the movie "Men of Honor."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEN OF HONOR")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is the latest HEO (ph) mixed gas rig. It weighs 290 pounds, and the men who want to use it, before they can even begin the diving qualifications, will be required to walk 12 steps unassisted. Could you do tat, Senior Chief Brashear?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS (on camera): Didn't seem fair?
BRASHEAR: It wasn't fair, but I had to do it. They required me to do that to demonstrate that I could support that weight on my leg. I did it, and that's when I was restored to full duty and full diving.
I was the first man in naval history to return to full duty and diving as an amputee.
HARRIS (voice-over): His career resurrected, so, too, was Brashear's obsession with becoming a master diver. But to succeed meant getting past O.T. Sutters, a tough instructor who's become an old friend. (on camera): When you saw suddenly you had an amputee diver to train...
O.T. SUTTERS, U.S. NAVY (RET.): A black amputee diver.
HARRIS: Your reaction?
SUTTERS: Carl was in such good physical shape, and I'd seen how he could run and how he could run and walk and seen him dive that I didn't think it was any problem.
BRASHEAR: The day that I was voted to be a master diver, the executive also told me that there were no marks to be given to a master diver. But if there were, I would make the highest mark of anybody that had ever been through that course.
HARRIS (voice-over): The first African-American to become a Navy diver was now the first black Navy master diver. And Carl Brashear would go on to achieve the Navy's highest rank for an enlisted man: master chief.
BRASHEAR: Some people would -- might look at their disabilities as a handicap, use this as a tool for not achieving their goals. But I never looked at it that way.
HARRIS: Three decades later, his life the subject of a major motion picture, Carl Brashear is proud of what he's accomplished. But in keeping with his character, he remains humbled.
(on camera): Did you ever think looking back at any time that Hollywood would make a movie about the son of a sharecropper who had done this?
BRASHEAR: Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen. Even after I lost my leg I was just doing my job.
I don't consider myself a hero, I consider myself someone that had a job to do and a goal to reach and worked towards it with all my might.
HAYNES: The annual Sundance Film Festival is an opportunity for rookie filmmakers to showcase their material.
Well, guess what? Our Jason Bellini went to this year's festival and is here to tell us all about his experience -- Jason.
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Tom.
This year's film festival was exciting, as always, even more so for three young filmmakers from Kosovo, a trio whose journey was just as compelling as their work.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (voice-over): A fresh tape in the camera: The first push of the record button captures Artan Sadiky (ph) saying goodbye to his family and friends. He, along with his two other Kosovar Albanian travel partners, trade off photography duty during a trip to the United States.
Organizers of the Sundance Film Festival brought them from Kosovo to Park City, Utah to participate in Sundance's Gen-Y Studio, a gathering of young film- and video-makers from around the world. They presented their video called "Postcards from Payah (ph)" that shows the devastation war wrought on their society.
But on this trip, they left thoughts of home behind, concentrating instead on a travel experience few young Albanians could ever hope to have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tell everybody (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that never flew before: How does it look like to be in a plane?
SEDIJE KAFTRATI, KOSOVAR ALBANIAN: In the beginning, I was a little bit scary. But then after I liked it.
BELLINI: They experienced their first airport layover, staying up all night waiting for their flight. Eventually they arrived in the U.S. and made their connection to Salt Lake City, Utah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the one filming in Nick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really -- it was like a dream, actually, just like time in -- I was just looking around, like losing myself looking around. We were very tired. And we wanted to sleep. And, at first, I thought, you know, just going out and see some nice things. But we were really tired.
BELLINI: But the three were never too tired to strike up new friendships.
KRISHNIK TAHIRBEGOLLI, KOSOVAR ALBANIAN: So what do you think about us?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About you guys? You guys are cool, funny.
BELLINI: They tape themselves having fun American style: eating pizza, hanging out watching videos, bowling.
(on camera): Have you ever been bowling before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. This is the first time. And I couldn't believe that I was so good.
BELLINI (voice-over): There were other firsts for the trio during their trip. In Albanian culture, men don't typically participate in food preparation and dish washing. But Park City is not Kosovo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They filmed me washing dishes and preparing food for us, you know. And that was like: When I am going to go home, they'll say: You need to do that here, too.
BELLINI (on camera): Mom does it at home for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BELLINI (voice-over): Their video was not a documentary, but a memento. On it, if only by accident, they caught a bit of encouragement to bring home from a new friend from Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you have to say for Kosovar
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Albanians?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do I have to say? I already know. He told me that you rebuilt a lot of your country. So I am proud of you guys. And don't give up hope. And I also live in a part of the world where there is a lot of war. And I know that you are not allowed to give up on hope. Thank you.
HAYNES: Nice job, Jason.
How is a film like this going to play back in Kosovo? Will kids there really grip onto this and relate to what goes back on in the U.S.?
BELLINI: Well, this was really just a home video that they're bringing back to show their friends what their experience was like in the United States. It was a very big deal for them -- as you can probably tell from that piece -- to come here to the United States, not an opportunity that many young Albanians get.
HAYNES: How did they know to submit this to the Sundance?
BELLINI: They worked with a relief organization in putting together the film that they brought with them to Sundance. And that's how Sundance found out about them. Sundance also brought together young people from various countries that have had problems like Kosovo, young people from Israel, from Bosnia and other parts of the world. So it was actually interesting to see them all interact with one another and compare experiences.
HAYNES: And it must have been pretty cool for these kids to come to the U.S. and get to do this kind of thing. BELLINI: Absolutely. They were thrilled to death. I mean, they were excited to be able to talk to other people who are into the same thing that they are. It was also just fun to be able to experience something that is completely outside of the realm of what they experience back home.
HAYNES: All right, NEWSROOM's Jason Bellini, we'll look for your adventures down the road right here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us.
BELLINI: Thank you, Tom.
HAYNES: Thank you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.
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