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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 13, 2001

Aired March 13, 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: From CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Tom Haynes. Thanks for joining us today.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. Here's a look at what's coming up.

HAYNES: In our top story: Relics of the ancient world are destroyed in the name of religion.

WALCOTT: Then, in "Health Desk," the stress test: how stress could be affecting your health.

HAYNES: In "Worldview," we head to the Middle East for a behind- the-scenes look at Israeli army training.

WALCOTT: And finally, we're flying high in "Chronicle." Our Tom Haynes hits Mach 1 to get the story.

The world watches in horror as Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement carry out their mission to destroy all statues they regard as idols.

Two giant Buddhas carved in cliffs near Bamiyan more than 1,500 years ago have gone up in a cloud of smoke. It wasn't an act of nature, but an act of mankind. The Taleban, a radical Islamic movement, ordered the destruction of the towering images several weeks ago. The Taleban has vowed to destroy all statues they consider un- Islamic.

Monday, the United Nations confirmed that order as being carried out. The U.N. says at least two ancient Buddhas have been destroyed by the Taleban, despite international pleas to save them. The Taleban captured the capital of Afghanistan in 1996. About 90 percent of that country is now under Taleban rule. The Taleban have said their mission is to create the world's most pure Islamic state. They've banned television, music and movies. And they've also forbidded girls from going to school and women from going to work, rules the international community doesn't like.

HAYNES: Much of the international community is appalled at the Taleban's actions. The destruction of Afghanistan's pre-Islamic heritage is considered unacceptable by many leaders. Relations between the Taleban and the United Nations have never been easy.

And as Ralitsa Vassileva tells us, they're particularly low now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This photograph taken by an Afghani shows what appears to be the destruction of the towering Buddha statues built more than 15 centuries ago in Bamiyan province. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization confirms the destruction of both monuments.

A Taleban leader says there is still more work to be done to obliterate the last traces. This is what the Buddhist statues looked like before an edict two weeks ago to destroy them. Taleban leaders decreed them to be un-Islamic.

The order stirred an international outcry. Many Islamic nations disagreed with the Taleban's interpretation of the Koran, calling on the Taleban to spare the statues. Even appeals from neighboring Pakistan, the Taleban's biggest ally, were ignored, and several offers to remove and house the statues outside Afghanistan were rebuffed.

WAKIL AHMED MUTTAWAKIL, TALEBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do admit that all these monuments and relics were the cultural heritage of Afghanistan. But the part which directly contradicts our present belief, we would not like to leave them anymore.

VASSILEVA: A last-ditch appeal came Sunday from the U.N. Secretary-General when he met the Taleban foreign minister in Pakistan.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: I find, if they do carry through this lamentable decision, I think they will be doing themselves a great deal of disservice and they will be doing a great deal of disservice to Islam, in whose name they claim to be doing this.

VASSILEVA: The Taleban has received vigorous global criticism, not only for the destruction of the statues, but for its treatment of women, alleged support of terrorists, and for ignoring the plight of tens of thousands of war refugees struggling with famine.

Already facing U.N. sanctions for refusing to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, a U.N. peace broker says the Taleban now will likely face additional isolation.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Several Muslim nations are protesting the Taleban's mission to destroy Afghanistan's ancient statues. Egypt has made several unsuccessful attempts to stop the destruction.

Ben Wedeman has more on that now and on how Egypt's own ancient statues are so important to modern-day Egyptians.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Egypt's ancient monuments have drawn onlookers for thousands of years, drawn by their majesty, their beauty, their sheer age and size. For predominately Muslim Egypt, these ruins are a rich source of national identify and tourist dollars.

With such a strong attachment to their past, Egyptians are mystified by the Taleban's reported destruction of Afghanistan's Bamiyan Buddhas.

ZAHI HAWAS, DIRECTOR, PYRAMIDS PLATEAU: They should understand that destroying those statues is not going to serve anything. They're not helping them, but are making bad publicity about Islam and Islam has nothing to do with what's happening in Afghanistan.

WEDEMAN: Egyptians are not ashamed of their pagan origins, deriving a fierce pride from their history. "This is the basis of our patriotism," says this Cairo resident visiting the Sphinx. "We would never do anything to harm it."

In the past, some Egyptians, like the Taleban, have focused their religious fervor on famous landmarks, with decidedly mixed results.

(on camera): According to one medieval Arab historian, in 1378 A.D., an overzealous Muslim mystic tried to deface the Sphinx. But that didn't go down very well with local villagers, who, fearing divine retribution, rewarded the mystic's efforts by lynching him.

(voice-over): On Saturday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dispatched the Mufti of the Republic, the country's most senior Islamic authority, to meet with Taleban leaders and convince them to halt the destruction of Afghanistan's ancient heritage.

Egypt's concern goes beyond questions of archaeology and heritage, says this Muslim scholar. "This could lead to great schisms," he says, "between Muslims and non-Muslims. Buddhists and Hindus are now in an uproar against Muslims, and that is something we would like to avoid." But Taleban leaders say they will not change course. The damage has already been done. The message from Egypt may have arrived too late.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: "Health Desk" today: stress, something we've all got to deal with. And a lot of things can bring it on. There are two kinds of stress: acute -- or short-term stress -- and chronic stress, which is long term. Stress is serious business. An estimated 75-90 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians are for stress-related disorders.

Elizabeth Cohen has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stress can send your immune system into a tizzy. Here's what happens. When you're under stress, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called ACTH. ACTH stimulates your adrenal glands to produce another hormone called cortisol. Cortisol attaches itself to the cells that fight infection.

Simply put, with a load of cortisol on its back, an immune cell has a harder time doing its job. But not all stresses are created equal. So here's a quiz. Of these four examples of stress -- getting stuck in traffic every day, having a troubled marriage, getting mugged, and taking care of a spouse with Alzheimer's disease, which do you think the experts say is the least harmful long term to your immune system?

(on camera): The answer is getting stuck in traffic, even if you're bumper to bumper day after day, week after week. Psychologists say that's because even though traffic is frustrating, it's temporary. You know at some point it'll be over.

(voice-over): Psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser says traffic jams might depress your immune system a tiny bit...

JANICE KIECOLT-GLASER, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: But it's probably not meaningful on health, just like if your blood pressure went up for a minute or two, it's not going to make a big difference.

COHEN: So what about the other three stressors, having a troubled marriage, getting mugged, and caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's?

Kiecolt-Glaser says getting mugged is the least harmful of these, because even though it's traumatic, it's a one-time event. But if the victim thinks about the mugging over and over again, that's a different story.

KIECOLT-GLASER: As you relive it, as you keep it alive in your mind, you're also keeping it alive physiologically, unfortunately.

COHEN: So now, which is worse, having a bad marriage or taking care of a spouse with Alzheimer's? It's a tie, Kiecolt-Glaser says, because both can go on and on with no end in sight.

And there's a gender difference. A bad marriage seems to take more of a toll on a woman's immune system than on a man's, because women have a harder time letting go.

KIECOLT-GLASER: And when women are remembering disagreements more, and thinking about them more, we know from our research they're certainly keeping it alive more in their body in a bad way.

COHEN: And so the key to controlling stress, for anyone, man or woman is to let go if you can, and get help if you can't.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Later in the show, we'll revisit the United States Navy. But before we do, take a look at war games and some training in some other countries. Those stories take us to Israel and Russia.

Over the last several months, the Russian military has announced sweeping cuts in personnel. Over the next five years, as many as 600,000 civilian and uniformed positions will be eliminated. Russia has already cut its armed forces from 5 million troops and personnel to about 1.2 million in the past decade. Moscow is hoping to create a leaner, but more mobile fighting force, as Russian leaders recognize they can no longer afford a bloated military. One elite unit within the Russian military is already a lean and mobile fighting force.

As Steve Harrigan reports, their training quickly weeds out anyone without the right stuff.

We warn teachers, some of these images are graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Red Berets are looking for a few good men. But to join the elite Russian anti- terrorism squad, you first have to prove your endurance: two hours of crawling, sliding, rolling, accompanied by kicks and gunfire. If you fall behind, you're out.

(on camera): Forty-four men started out the day trying for a red beret. By this point in the exam, just half are left.

(voice-over): The toughest obstacles are still ahead: six rounds with fresh opponents.

LT. IVAN KOLOKOSTOV, INTERIOR MINISTRY (through translator): Spirit, that's the most important thing. It's my dream to get a red beret.

HARRIGAN: Ivan and five others get the red beret. The rest are left to lick their wounds and try again next year.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Novaya, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Onto Israel, a small country on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea: Founded in 1948, it's considered a homeland for Jews all around the globe. Years of conflict with neighboring Arab states has prompted the country to maintain a very strong military. Nearly all Israeli men and most unmarried women are required to enter the military at age 18.

Men serve for three years, women for two. Israel's army, navy and air force have about 141,000 members.

Jerrold Kessel provides this behind-the-scenes look at army training.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No longer need Israeli army commanders battle mirages in the desert. For training, at least, they now use a real and serious enemy: fellow officers.

These don't look much like highly advanced Russian-made T-model tanks, but include a highly sophisticated U.S.-made computer system in a simple fiberglass vehicle. And gone are the days when, in training, commanders need to do battle with toy tanks in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(on camera): The desert dust is exactly the same as they've always been used to here. But not so, the simulated T-55 tanks. And it's that innovation which so delights the commanders here.

MAJOR GEN. MOSHO IVRI SNKENIC, IDF GROUND FORCES COMMANDER: This is not a game anymore. This is a battlefield. When you get shot, you want to hide. You have to relate to whomever is around you.

KESSEL (voice-over): Red smoke signals this tank has been hit. The result is relayed back to the control center, which retains constant contact with the presiding observers in the field. After the battle, a four-minute computer run through reconstructs precisely every angle, every shot fired during the four-hour battle exercise.

YIFTAH SARIG, TRAINING COORDINATOR: You see shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SARIG: This is the antitank shoot this

(CROSSTALK)

SARIG: It hit, but it didn't kill.

KESSEL: Tactics must now be planned, strategy executed against a real opponent.

SARIG: It force the battalion commander to face a reality that he didn't -- that he never faced before, because in front of him standing another thinking commander.

KESSEL: Brigadier General Meir Gahtan, who commands the center, is one of the few officers who has actually been through a full-blown war.

BRIG. GEN. MEIR GAHTAN, BASE COMMANDER: Nothing is like the real battle, because even if it is like this, you can't put the fear inside.

KESSEL: However good the new training methods, commanders here are constantly reminded they can't be taught the real thing.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, in Israel's Negev Desert.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: And it's time now to pick up where we left off yesterday in our series, "To Serve a Nation."

In today's report, the guy sitting next to me here gets the assignment of a lifetime.

HAYNES: Yes, the funny thing is, I was just trying to get from point a to point b, from Oceana Naval Air Station to the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Atlantic Ocean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: The Roosevelt was about 150 miles east of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean and there I was fast approaching in an F-18 Hornet flying Mach 1. The ship was on a training mission for Navy pilots to practice landings and takeoffs from the deck of the carrier.

In setting up the story, I was offered the chance to fly to the Roosevelt on the F-18. This is one of the most advanced, most sophisticated fighter jets in the United States naval fleet. The Navy required that I go through a series of training before I actually got to fly on the F-18. Once they determined I was physically fit to fly...

I always wanted to wear one of these, just to look cool.

... I got into an outfit that I'd become very familiar with over the next few days: a flight suit and combat boots. This would be the beginning of a somewhat condensed version of flight school.

My first test of physical endurance came when I suited up to go on what's called a hypoxia chamber. Hypoxia is basically what happens to the body when not enough oxygen reaches the brain.

The ejection seat is one of those necessary components in a fighter jet, and they were very meticulous about teaching me how to safely operate the ejection seat in case anything happened on my flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the command, eject, eject, eject, pull on that handle and away he goes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job. If you feel no pain or discomfort, give me thumbs-up.

HAYNES: It was a complete rush.

That was great.

Just like the end of a roller coaster ride, I wanted to get on the seat and actually do it again.

Since my flight to the Roosevelt would be over water obviously, I had to go through water survival training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do occasional hurt people doing this stuff.

HAYNES: I hooked up with a Navy class who was getting recertified at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't fight the water.

HAYNES: I had to swim the length of the pool in the flight suit and actually stay afloat for two minutes.

That's a long two minutes.

I was totally exhausted and my day in the pool hadn't even begun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the bleachers.

HAYNES: For naval aviators, knowing how to escape from a submerged aircraft is real important. The shallow water Egress trainer is a cage-like contraption designed to simulate a ditched aircraft in shallow water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't kick your buddy.

HAYNES: You and a buddy basically swim through this thing under water and try to get out without kicking each other in the face. Unfortunately, one of the guys that went through wasn't so lucky. He got kicked right in the forehead.

If you eject from a fighter jet and parachute into the ocean, there's an actual danger that your chute will drag you several hundred feet through the water if it's a windy day. You need to be able to detach from your parachute to avoid being literally drowned to death.

And the payoff came when I was rescued by a helicopter waiting overhead. Not a real helicopter, but they actually simulate a helicopter rescue with wind and everything. It was actually pretty neat. Unfortunately, nothing could rescue me, though, from my final test of endurance: the infamous "helo dunker." It's the mother of all training obstacles in the Navy. Even people in the Navy are afraid of this thing.

The goal here is to simulate an actual helicopter crash under water. The most difficult test came when we were entering blindfolded to simulate a night crash. And they not only blindfolded us, but once we hit the water, the thing turned upside down.

I had trouble escaping the first time. I couldn't even find the buckle and I had to be rescued by one of the Navy SEALs who were swimming around the helo dunker.

MIKE HILTKE, AQUATICS INSTRUCTOR: It's very dramatic. Some people quit aviation community because of that device.

HAYNES: All the training finally paid off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's where we're going. HAYNES: There I was on the tarmac of Oceana Naval Air Station about to go up in an F-18 Hornet. I felt like Tom Cruise. I mean, it was a beautiful day for flying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I want you to do now is to go ahead and basically put yourself in the seat.

HAYNES: Everything I learned in training seemed like a distant fog at that point. And once I got all settled in, it was time for us to fly.

It was an incredible feeling to be in this jet -- surreal, almost like a dream.

When we neared the Roosevelt, I could see the carrier out to my left-hand side. I couldn't imagine how we would land on this thing.

It was as if we crashed right into the carrier, except it was a -- actually, it was a perfect landing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Man, that was a lot of fun. Once on board the Roosevelt, I caught up with young sailors just starting their Navy careers. It was fascinating to hear what life was like aboard a ship that size, and how the Navy goes about instilling the virtues of character, teamwork and responsibility.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES (voice-over): It is a massive floating city, one of the most powerful and prominent forces in the United States military. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, named after the 26th president, is one of the most advanced aircraft carriers in the world.

More than 5,000 officers and crewmembers make it operate. The crew are men and women from every state in the U.S., each with a unique story about making the choice of a military career.

PATRICK SMITH, CORPSMAN: And I saw that Navy commercial where that person is standing up there stall and proud. He has his uniform on -- pristine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NAVY AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to see the world. So I figured the Navy would be the best place to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: And I was saying to myself: That's what I want to be. I want to look in the mirror and I want to look like that person.

HAYNES: Meet part of the Roosevelt's crew: six men and women in the infancy of their Navy careers. They are beginning what they hope will be the experience of a lifetime. ROGER RIFFLE, AIRMAN: An opportunity to see the world and just, the new thing is get away from the regular -- the hometown, just to get out -- out to sea and travel.

ELIZABETH CARVALHO, SEAMAN: I didn't really have that much money when I got out of high school. And I knew that if I joined the Navy, I would have a big opportunity -- and just meet different people, go different places. It's just an experience.

HAYNES: An experience that has the potential to transform these young sailors during their years of service, to strengthen their characters in a way that promises success, whether in the military or in the private sector.

CAPT. DAVID BRYANT, U.S. NAVY: A lot of people join the Navy because they're looking out there and they're not seeing, one, the challenges, and also a real route for them to develop their future. That's something that we provide, and I think we provide very, very well.

HAYNES: From the moment they walk aboard the Roosevelt, crewmembers learn what it takes to make this massive structure operate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many miles out?

HAYNES: It's a tall order, especially for those fresh out of boot camp, who are just learning the ropes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was nervous at the beginning. But now -- now it's just my job.

HAYNES: The key to success? Like other branches of the U.S. military, the Navy instills the value of teamwork.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Port lookout reports service contact.

CARVALHO: The thing is, you got to trust one another. If you can't trust one another, then maybe that person might not come out right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quartermaster, mark distance from land.

RIFFLE: It's a very large responsibility, especially for a teenager, because once you're in the military, you have a military mind. Now, that's what boot camp is for, you know, to show -- help everyone work as a team.

HAYNES: Finding your way around an aircraft carrier isn't easy.

RIFFLE: At first, it's pretty hard to get around because you don't know where you're going -- a whole lot of hallways. Each one has a billion different doors, a lot of different work centers.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYNES (on camera): Does it get easier after a while?

RIFFLE: Yes, a whole lot easier, because, you know, we live here on the ship. And this is -- this is just our home. And you've got to, you know, get familiar with it.

HAYNES (voice-over): For Airman Roger Riffle and his shipmates, familiar gets a whole new meaning in what they call the racks: sleeping quarters that stack sailors one on top of the other.

HAYNES (on camera): So this redefines the word "roommate," huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, definitely. Six people to a cube? Getting dressed...

(LAUGHTER)

HAYNES (voice-over): Sometimes life at sea aboard an aircraft calls for performing jobs a Navy sailor could probably live without. But the Navy depends on much of its crew to perform the basic duties that keep ships like the Roosevelt operational. Still, they insist the ultimate objective is to teach teamwork, responsibility, dedication and what it means to work your way through the ranks from the ground up.

BRYANT: And we provide them the off-duty education that goes in concert with that, to grow them as an individual.

SMITH: And I could look back and see myself as a teenager and just laugh and wonder how I could ever have been that way.

CARVALHO: Through the experience I've been through here in the Navy, I know that, if I got out now, I could go and get what I wanted whenever I wanted.

RIFFLE: Being out on your own at a young age, you're just -- you know, you're forced to grow up quick.

BRYANT: Every time I see them do that, the work that they do, I have to say that they really are my heroes, down there doing this incredible job for us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: All right, tomorrow in part three of our series, "To Serve a Nation," we'll take a closer look at the men and women behind the U.S. Air Force. They do much more than fly jets. They also operate billions of dollars worth of equipment that affect our everyday life, Shelley.

WALCOTT: Really fascination, Tom.

HAYNES: Yes. Check it out tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Sure will. And that wraps up today's show. And we'll see you right back here tomorrow.

HAYNES: Take care.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.

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