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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 12, 2001

Aired March 12, 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: Your week gets off to a great start with this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for checking in with us. I'm Tom Haynes. And here's a look at what's ahead.

Topping our news agenda: Ugandans go to the polls. From politics to the parking lot, our "Daily Desk" asks: How green is your ride? Then things get a little icy in "Worldview," as we focus on glaciers. Finally, we'll "Chronicle" the history of the United States military.

First, as Uganda's presidential election gets under way on Monday, a tough contest ensues between incumbent Yoweri Museveni and his top challenger, Kizza Besigye.

The world watches, while as many as 11 million voters head to the polls in Uganda. The race has come down to two top candidates: Yoweri Museveni and Kizza Besigye, former allies and colleagues. Among the main issues in the election are democracy, economics, security, and the military. With his campaign slogan, "No Change," 56-year-old Museveni is hoping his accomplishments will be enough to win him another five-year term. Mr. Museveni and his National Resistance Movement first took power in 1986.

Since then, the former guerrilla leader has made economic recovery one of his top priorities. In recent years, Uganda has had one of the fastest- growing economies in Africa. Nevertheless, Uganda is still among the world's poorest countries. Mr. Museveni's top challenger is his former personal physician and ally; 44-year-old Dr. Kizza Besigye is running as an anti-corruption government reformer.

The former army general has promised to pull Uganda's troops out of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has also promised to do more to support widows, orphans and the poor.

The people of Uganda have witnessed much change over the past decade: from the end of dictatorship to free elementary school education. In many cases, the change was for the better. Still, considerable improvement and opportunity awaits Uganda, making the presidential election that much more significant.

Catherine Bond has more now on the campaign's top presidential contenders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni out in the countryside on the campaign trail. The dancing may be traditional, but these days campaigning is a blend of old and new. And back in the city, it's not just newspapers that will influence voter opinion in what's expected to be a very close presidential race, but the Internet as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard that one of the candidates, Aggrey Awori, had a Web site which had been designed in America. We looked at it, and we said, well, we think we should design a Web site for all other candidates. So that's when we starting approaching the various groups to say, well, we want to design a Web site for you. Then we did design a Web site.

BOND: On the Net, candidate Museveni, 56, is portrayed as a revolutionary, a husband, father, farmer and statesman. Candidate Kizza Besigye, 44, who's nearest Museveni in opinion polls, appears first with his wife, Winnie. Besigye is also portrayed as a young man, national political commissar and army colonel.

But with just 100,000 estimated Internet users in Uganda from a population of more than 20 million, are Web sites worth it? Analysts say yes.

CHARLES ONYANGO OBBO, MONITOR NEWSPAPER: The candidates with the best Internet sites interestingly have also been able to gain the most support from Ugandans in the diaspora. So I think there's a link there. I think a lot of money has flowed in this campaign from Uganda diaspora. They have formed support groups. They are fund-raising money.

BOND: Ugandans abroad don't have the right to vote, though. So beyond fund-raising, a Web site's an effective campaigning tool. Yes, again, say analysts, who contend that voters in the countryside take their cue from family members living in the city.

EDWARD BALIDDAWA, UGANDA HOME PAGES: So the Internet has been a powerful tool in a way. But it has helped to inform the urban community, and then the urban community are going back to the rural area and influencing the decisions of the rural community.

BOND: Back on the campaign trail, this time with Kizza Besigye. Again, there are speeches and music to work up the crowd. But apart from campaigning in the flesh, candidates have also been careful to pencil in talk shows on the more than 20 FM radio stations now dotted around Uganda.

(on camera): FM radio stations are another and still far more important campaigning tool. In both Ghana and Senegal, it's said FM stations played a key role in opposition victories for presidential candidates.

(voice-over): In Uganda, too, it's thought opposition candidates benefit most from radio debates.

ANNE LYDIA SEKANDI, RADIO ONE: In the past, the incumbent would not have had to hear as much political opposition because basically only the state radio was able to have a voice, and they wouldn't give that voice to the opposition.

BOND: Placed fifth in opinion polls, wealthy businessman Chapaa Karuhanga is also vying for the presidency. His focus: the economy.

CHAPAA KARUHANGA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We look at the rate of poverty today. I want to protect the foreign investor and also protect the indigenous people.

BOND: A good platform for candidates maybe, but it's hardly a smooth ride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you really think that this entire historical problem of an unequal economic relationship between Africans here and foreign investors can be resolved simply by you negotiating from state house? Do you think...

BOND: With political talk shows incredibly popular here, what do callers talk about?

SEKANDI: One thing that has stood out greatly is the issue of change -- to change or not to change? So we do not know whether it is to change for change's sake or to change because we want better.

BOND: Considered crucial, the FM stations have found themselves at the center of a row. Uganda's electoral commissioner saying he, not they, should announce the final tally or winner of next week's election first.

HAJI AZIZ KASUJJA, UGANDA'S ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER: Let the electoral commission finally declare who has won. That's what I wanted to say. That's what I'm saying, and I was reading the law.

BOND: But because in Uganda's 1980 elections the loser was proclaimed the winner, this has aroused suspicion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2001, the issue is that if you say that we are free to announce who has won (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we can mention who has won (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all the votes from across the country and announce those results? Why should you give it -- why should it be the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the Electoral Commission?

BOND: In fact, on Monday, when as many as 11 million or more Ugandans go to the polls to choose from six presidential candidates, the commission's official results and a running total will be posted on the Web site of a government-owned newspaper here, the first time this will have been done in Africa.

And though the vast majority of voters won't see it, they will hear many of the results phoned in to privately owned FM stations.

(on camera): What do you think is the role of the FM stations in this election? How has it affected your campaigning?

MUSEVENI: It's all right. We can use it. I can use them. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) also use them. They quicken the process of transmitting information.

BOND (voice-over): Information and technology playing a key role perhaps in keeping this election democratic.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Pallisa, Uganda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: All right, so you got the money to buy a brand new car, anything you want inside. You might look for special features, like a sunroof, leather, even lots of horsepower. But would you consider the car's emission levels or fuel efficiency? Well, the authors of a new book are hoping you would.

And Natalie Pawelski tells us how the book may help you and the environment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Right now there's one vehicle on the road for every American of driving age, and fuel economy for cars and trucks is at a 20-year low. So asking new car buyers to think about the environment may seem almost quaint. But the authors of the annual "Green Book" hope people will consider how much pollution their cars put out and how much gas they guzzle.

JIM KLIESCH, AUTHOR, "GREEN BOOK": We rank, you know, more than 1,000 cars and trucks on the market and we break them up into classes. So regardless of whether you're interested in buying an SUV or buying a pickup truck or buying a compact car you can look on our best-of list and select, you know, an appropriate vehicle.

PAWELSKI: The authors say low-emission vehicles of all types are becoming easier for car shoppers to find.

KLIESCH: Whereas in the past these vehicles were available only in California and the New England region, now, regardless of where you live you'll be able to find cars and trucks that meet the standard nationwide.

PAWELSKI (on camera): The only one battery-powered vehicle to make the "Green Book"'s top-10 list this year is the RAV-4 from Toyota. Notably absent, the electric car that topped the rankings for three years running: the EV-1 -- General Motors has stopped making it.

(voice-over): But a new kind of semi-electric car did place high in the rankings. The Honda Insight and Toyota Prius are powered by regular gas. But these hybrids, as they're called, generate electricity as you drive them, and that boosts fuel efficiency and cuts pollution. The "Green Book"'s authors say right now that kind of convenient compromise may be the best choice for people who want to drive a little more gently on the earth. Natalie Pawelski, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSEPH MCINTYRE, STUDENT: Hello, my name is Joseph McIntyre. I am from Scotland. I would like to ask CNN: Why do different countries drive on different sides of the roads?

KEVIN DELANEY, SAFETY MANAGER, ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB FOR MOTORING: I think it's probably a case of: Why do we Brits drive on the left? And we do it because we've always done it. It's a custom. There was an act of Parliament in 1835 which was to deal with people who were driving carriages and animals, which simply said that if you meet an animal or a carriage coming the other direction, you must move to the left-hand side of the road.

But its origins go back beyond that. There is at least a tradition that it was to do with self-defense, so that if you met a stranger coming towards you, you passed each other -- you on the left -- so that you could defend yourself with your right hand, your sword hand or your pistol hand. And whilst that might sound a little bit unusual, the houses of Parliament are so constructed that, in the House of Commons, the two front benches are exactly two swords length apart.

So it may well be that it was the case. Perhaps much more likely is the fact that when Napoleon embarked on his conquest of Europe, he took with him what was called the Code Napoleon, which included a direction that everybody shall drive or lead their animals on the right-hand side of the road. And I believe that we Brits simply stuck with the left to spite Napoleon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: "Worldview" goes to the dogs today -- well, at least for one story anyhow. We head to Japan to catch some dog star wannabes -- then onto Brazil, where animals are also the stars, as scientists and ranchers work to preserve diversity of species. Then it's ice, ice baby, as we head to Antarctica. How will global warming affect the world?

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: A look now at a phenomenon covering 11 percent of the Earth's land area: glaciers. Glaciers are large masses of ice formed on land through the recrystallization of snow. Their own weight moves them slowly down slopes and valleys, or spreads them outward on the land's surface.

Glaciers hold 75 percent of the world's freshwater supply. If that amount of ice is melted, it would cause sea level to rise 70 meters, submerging most every major coastal city around the globe. Glaciers occur where snowfall in winter exceeds melting in summer: a condition found only in high mountain areas and polar regions.

We head now to one of these polar regions, the Antarctic, where one glacier has scientists baffled.

Shihab Rattansi explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHIHAB RATTANSI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Pine Island glacier is the largest in Western Antarctica. It's also one of the world's least accessible. But scientists warn changes occurring in the remote ice field could have global implications.

HUGH CORR, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY: Our colleagues at University College London, using radar altimeter, have measured the surface of the glacier. And they have found that it has dropped by around about 10 meters in seven years. So that's around about 1.6 meters per year.

RATTANSI: Conditions on the glacier are so extreme, only aerial studies can be done. But scientists monitoring it believe the melting that appears to be occurring has already changed sea levels by about half-a-millimeter. And some warn that could be just the beginning.

DAVID VAUGHAN, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY: There are two sort of extreme positions on the view of what will happen in this area that glaciologists hold. One is that the ice sheet will actually get thicker. Warmer air will passing over the Antarctic ice sheet can hold more moisture and can deposit more snow. And so there is a high probability that the only effect that we'll see in this area is a slight thickening in the ice sheet, which would be a force to slow down sea-level rise.

However, there is still a distinct possibility that the ice sheet in this area is retreating and will continue to retreat over the next 100 years, 200 years.

RATTANSI: Researchers aren't sure why the ice sheet is changing so dramatically. One factor could be global warming. Whatever the cause, a significant melt-off could raise sea levels by as much as 5.5 meters. But that process would take time.

VAUGHAN: I live in Cambridge, only a few meters above sea level. And while we are sure that there will be a sea-level rise over the coming century, I'm far from convinced that the sea-level rise will be of the order of meters.

RATTANSI: For now, researchers say there's no need for coastal residents to pack up and leave.

Shihab Rattansi, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We turn now from the Antarctic to Brazil, from some ice to tropical rain forests. In recent weeks, we've been telling you a lot about the wildlife which inhabits the swamps and forests of Brazil. Check your NEWSROOM archives for February 23 to revisit jaguars, the largest wild cats in the Americas. On March 1, we learned about caimans, reptiles making a remarkable recovery. And just last week, on March 5, we saw how scientists are only now beginning to take a full inventory of all the species of animals and plants found in the southern Pantanal in Brazil. We return to the region today to explore its teeming wildlife and efforts to help these creatures and their habitat survive and thrive.

Gary Strieker is our guide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along the Rio Negro, almost everywhere on its banks, around each bend: always more wildlife.

REINALDO LOURIVAL, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: This is a place of abundancy. Productivity in this system is higher than every other system that we know.

STRIEKER: On this mission down the river, a team is posting signs marking the boundaries of a new private nature reserve.

LOURIVAL: This private reserve, Santa Sophia, it goes from the Negro lower swamp until the Aquiduana River (ph).

STRIEKER: It's only one part of a network of reserves now being assembled to save this awesome natural heritage in the largest freshwater wetland on Earth: the Brazilian Pantanal. An area as big as the state of Missouri, four times the size of Switzerland, the Pantanal supports an astounding variety of plants and animals, including endangered species like the jaguar, hyacinth, macaw and giant river otter, most of them flourishing here in healthy numbers, all this on land that belongs mostly to cattle ranchers.

LOURIVAL: They protected this area for 150 years. So this is why you still have this environment like it is.

STRIEKER: But low prices for beef and declining profits are now driving some ranchers to clear-cut forests for new pastures, and to introduce exotic grasses and more intensive production that will threaten this complex web of life in the Pantanal.

That's why Conservation International helps to create these private reserves, connecting what was once an isolated state park to key habitats of the Pantanal and to neighboring savannahs, allowing migration of wildlife for hundreds of kilometers along a protected corridor.

LOURIVAL: The corridor is a new approach for conservation work. We need to have more areas. And diversity of habitat is essential to the protection of species, in general.

STRIEKER: They help ranchers establish their reserves under state law, and give advice on earning revenue from ecotourism. The ranchers get tax exemptions on lands they set aside permanently. BELKISS RONDON, RANCH OWNER: We decided to do that because we think it's the better for the region, and for us, too.

STRIEKER: There are now plans for at least four more Brazilian conservation corridors like this one: two in the Atlantic Forest and two in the Amazon Basin, each to be assembled by connecting a number of separate protected areas, including private reserves.

In this partnership between the state, conservationists and private landowners, there's new hope for critical habitats and the wildlife that thrive here.

Gary Strieker, CNN, in the Southern Pantanal, Brazil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: More on animals now: this time, the domesticated variety known -- yes, you guessed it -- as dogs. People have had dogs as pets for more than 10,000 years. Scientists say they are the oldest-known domesticated animal.

But dogs are more than just faithful friends and companions. Through the centuries, dogs have served as herders and hunters as well. They are used as watchdogs too. And they serve police by helping to sniff out drugs or explosives. They're also trained as guide dogs to help lead the blind. Despite their many capabilities, for most people, dogs are simply pets. Breeders have developed about 400 breeds. They come in many sizes and assortments.

Today, we look at a canine kaleidoscope of dog star wannabes.

Denise Dillon reports on the leaders of the pack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some danced. Some performed a dramatic dying scene. The dogs are competing to win the hearts of producers and the chance at stardom.

Universal Studios in Japan held auditions to discover the next canine superstar for its theme park opening this spring in Osaka. More than 100 contestants showed up. Some of those who came dressed with style and attitude. For others, the bright lights and all the attention brought on a case of stage fright. But overall, trainers say they were pleased.

MARK ECHEVARRIA, ANIMAL TRAINER: I thought overall that it was very impressive, considering probably the majority of these dogs have never performed in this environment with a lot of people around. That can be extremely intimidating for a dog. I thought they did great. It was a lot of fun.

DILLON: It came down to six finalists, including this little guy named Al. He wowed the audience with his dance routine. One of the judges, Curious George, gave him a 10. And that's what clinched it for Al. He got to place his paw print on a Hollywood contract, will have a chance to perform on stage at Universal Studios and will get his very own personal agent. His owner couldn't be more proud.

EIKO OYAMA, AL'S OWNER (through translator): It was hard to have Al perform properly today as he does usually at home because he's never performed in front of many people like this.

DILLON: All the contestants get a surprise treat - an opportunity to meet every dog's idol. Yes, it's Lassie. Maybe one of these talented pups will one day follow in his paw prints.

Denise Dillon, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: In "Chronicle" this week, we're going to take you inside the United States military to show you a side of the armed forces you may have never seen before. For many, the military presents itself as a viable career path after graduating from high school. Some even join the ROTC in high school to help pay for college.

But before we get to all that: a little history about America's fighting force. Officially, the British army and navy were the first armed forces overseeing the protection of the 13 colonies in America. But the colonists knew their best protection came from themselves. And each colony developed its own militia to assure its safekeeping in times of crisis. In June of 1775, the second Continental Congress approved formation of a standing military force to preserve -- quote -- "the liberties of America from the encroachment of King George III's government."

As battles broke out with British forces, the Congress followed up in October by establishing a small Navy, and a month later, raised two battalions of Marines. These upstart armed services proved formidable, defeating what was, at the time, the most powerful military in the world. The new country of the United States of America relied, for its sovereignty, on those early military skills.

Throughout the next century, as the country grew, so did its military. In peacetime, it was as few as 16,000 officers and men. When the War of 1812 showed militias to be useless, they were gradually abandoned, and the standing Army expanded substantially to fight the War of 1812 and against fellow countrymen in the Civil War, the first war where the government conscripted soldiers. But for the most part, the U.S. military was used to protect commerce and help with westward expansion.

It was in the 1900s changes came more rapidly. The protectors of land and sea looked to the skies, when the Army, working with the Wright brothers, began testing airplanes in 1908. By the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, both the Army and the Navy had air divisions. The Draft Act of 1917 required all males between the ages of 18 and 45 to register to serve.

Within months, the U.S. armed forces increased from 200,000 to four million to satisfy battle needs. When Germany invaded France in 1940, the U.S. government reinstated conscription. Men were required to sign up and be ready to serve if needed. After World War II, Congress wanted to repay its fighting patriots and passed the G.I. Bill of Rights, entitling ex-servicemen and women to help in finding affordable housing and paying for college.

The National Security Act of 1947 would transform the Air Corps from a division of the Army into the U.S. Department of the Air Force. By executive order by President Harry Truman in 1948, blacks were integrated into the armed services. After the Korean and Vietnam wars, the U.S. military turned once again to a volunteer service and offered benefits to help entice men and women to enlist, that and the training the armed services provides, as well as the knowledge that they are joining to serve a nation.

All right, now that we've got the history out of the way, tomorrow the real fun begins. How about a ride on an F-18 Hornet? Yes, that's me. I got to ride in one. And I'll tell you all about it. You won't believe the training I had to go through to ride on this thing. Then you will hear from some of the newest sailors in the United States Navy. We'll find out how the Navy promotes character and responsibility in its sailors.

So join us once again for: "To Serve a Nation" right here on CNN NEWSROOM. And we'll see you then. Take care.

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