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CNN Newsroom

Aired November 7, 2001 - 04:30   ET


SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Wednesday. I'm Susan Freidman.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes.

Well, it has been one month since the air strikes began in Afghanistan and public support for the military action remains high. A new CNN-USA Today Gallup Poll finds 86 percent of Americans surveyed approve of the military action.

FREIDMAN: Meanwhile, President Bush is urging all coalition partners to back up their support with action. Tuesday, Mr. Bush met with French President Jacques Chirac, who has deployed 2,000 troops to aid the military campaign.

John King has more now on President Bush's latest efforts and warning.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shoulder to shoulder with a key ally in the war on terrorism, and blunt talk for those who may be wavering.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over time, it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity.

KING: It was a day of coalition building and escalating rhetoric -- the president, himself, giving voice for the first time to the long held CIA view that Osama bin Laden wants to acquire chemical, biological and perhaps even nuclear weapons.

BUSH: That's why we're going to keep relentless military pressure on him in Afghanistan. That's why we must prevail. That's why we must win.

KING: Targeting front-line Taliban forces is now a major priority, and Mr. Bush says harboring terrorists is just one reason Afghanistan needs a new government.

BUSH: Children are forbidden to fly kites, or sing songs, or build snowmen. A girl of 7 is beaten for wearing white shoes. Our enemies have brought only terror and misery to the people of Afghanistan. And now they are trying to export that terror throughout the world.

KING: This speech was via satellite to an anti terrorism conference in Poland. The tougher talk, part of a deliberate strategy, as the military campaign enters its fifth week.


KING: There have been scattered protests across Europe, where polls show rising skepticism. And some Arab leaders want a pause in the bombing during this month's holy period of Ramadan.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At it's at this point in time that we need to steady people. We need to say, look, let's go back and go through the argument again, as to why it's happen, why we have to do this, why we have to see it through.

KING: Prime Minister Blair is one of a half-dozen leaders at the White House before a Saturday Bush address to the United Nations General Assembly.

(on camera): And as this diplomatic push unfolds, the White House also is claiming significant new progress on the financial front of the war on terrorism.

CNN has learned the president on Wednesday will announce the administration has identified two financial networks it views as significant sources of support for bin Laden's al Qaeda network, and that it is taking steps here in the United States and overseas to shut them down.

John King, CNN, the White House.


HAYNES: Germany is offering nearly 4,000 troops to fight in the war against terrorism. The troops would help in combating nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and would participate in other vital operations. It's been more than 40 years since Germany deployed troops outside of Europe as CNN's Berlin bureau chief Bettina Luscher reports.


BETTINA LUSCHER, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): In the second month of the war in Afghanistan, Germany is now one step closer to seeing action. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder again pledged unlimited solidarity. He says his government is ready to deliver the help the U.S. has asked for.


"All in all it will be 3,900 troops, including support forces," the Chancellor said, "and not all will be active at the same time. But I want to stress that we're not asked to participate in air attacks or deploy ground forces in Afghanistan."


LUSCHER: On the U.S. wish list, armored vehicles especially equipped to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and materials, medical evacuation teams to evacuate and treat wounded U.S. troops.

While U.S. special forces are already on the ground in Afghanistan, the Chancellor refuses to say what role some 100 German special forces soldiers could play. Mr. Schroeder said German Navy ships could help safeguard shipping lanes and cargo planes could transport personnel and humanitarian aid.

(on camera): Mr. Schroeder says the German forces are being prepared, ready to go, but the final order to deploy will only come after the German Parliament, the Bundestag, will give its approval.

(voice-over): Mr. Schroeder will make a request in a speech to the Bundestag on Thursday.

STEPHEN SOKOL, ASPEN INSTITUTE: Germans are starting to realize that if one goes the next logical step it would mean also supplying soldiers, possibly having body bags come back to Germany, and that's difficult for any government or even for any country.

LUSCHER: But most political observers here believe the Bundestag will support the mission, even if there is some grumbling among Mr. Schroeder's coalition partner, the Green Party. Mr. Schroeder calls this decision a fundamental historical decision, the first time Germany would have deployed its forces outside Europe since World War II.

SOKOL: In the post-war period, Germany was often considered an economic giant and a political dwarf, and that's something that one has heard over and over again, yet now when starting to see that Germany is not behaving as a political dwarf but is trying to be more an active political actor.

LUSCHER: The Bundestag could decide by the end of the week.

Bettina Luscher, CNN, Berlin.


HAYNES: To Russia now where anthrax spores have turned up in a diplomatic mailbag at the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg. One staffer has undergone antibiotic treatment, though it's considered unlikely anyone actually contracted the disease.

Yekaterinburg also happens to be the central Russian city where the world's worst military anthrax accident happened some time ago, and now there are renewed concerns about the security of Russia's anthrax. Most of it was buried or dumped at sea after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Colleen McEdwards has more on that.


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where the world learned how deadly Soviet anthrax was. One of the most complex, potent strains in the world was made here in Compound 19, a former military weapons facility in Yekaterinburg. A Russian television documentary tells how in 1979 anthrax drifted towards nearby apartments. Within days, people were sick.

Tatiana Paninuok (ph) was a young nurse at the time. She treated some of the first who arrived at this hospital. The staff was told only that it was a dangerous infection.

"All we were wearing was gloves and cotton masks," she says. "To be honest, I couldn't stand working in the mask, so I took it off. But as far as I know, no one from the hospital staff got sick."

More than 60 people died. The bodies were considered so toxic, some were buried in a separate part of the local cemetery, young and old here all dead in the spring of '79. Soviet officials blamed tainted meat, but in the early '90s, the Russian government admitted that civilians were killed in a military anthrax accident at the height of the Soviet biological weapons program.

LEV FYODOROV, WEAPONS ANALYST (through translator): They made half a million pounds a year at two plants. They built another and another. People felt they had a biological shield to protect their homeland. When they got rid of it all, they dumped it into the sea off of barges or buried it.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): Experts believe that anthrax was buried at Compound 19 and hundreds of other sites around Russia. Russian officials say those sites are now secure. We can't get any closer to Compound 19 to show you. We're actually just down the street from it now. And when our crew did get closer to it, we were asked to leave.

(voice-over): In fact, the United States and the European Union have given Russia millions of dollars to improve security. The Russian government doesn't believe the anthrax in the U.S. came from Russia, even the so-called weapons grade that showed up in Washington, and neither do most international weapons experts.

FYODOROV (through translator): Everyone in the capital would have been dead within a week, no one would have walked out alive. I'm not protecting our government. I have a lot of grudges against them, believe me, I just don't see how anthrax can be stolen, how it could be given to Iraq or anyone. This was so classified.

ALEXANDER KONOVALOV, INST. FOR STRATEGIC ASSESSMENTS: I can give almost 100 percent guarantee that a laboratory specializing in this area are under strict control.

MCEDWARDS: In 1926, Russian scientists first grew spores in secret labs, but anthrax didn't become powerful until the '50s when experiments on rats produced stronger strains. Then in the '70s, in violation of an international agreement, it's believed the Soviet Union started altering its anthrax strain. They considered it the most potent in the world. It's been suggested that a Soviet scientist, a defector, could have sold secrets to terror groups.

FYODOROV (through translator): Perhaps a million people worked on the anthrax program since 1926. Yes, some people went away to other countries, but each one of them brings just a fragment of the knowledge required to develop a strain.

MCEDWARDS: If not likely, of course it is possible. And scientists say if there is a link, U.S. experts should be able to make it or rule it out. Russia gave the U.S. some information about its anthrax, tissue samples, for example, from the tragedy at Compound 19. And Russia has offered to share more expertise. Doctors say they have a good vaccine and experience treating anthrax outbreaks. It's mundane compared with military anthrax, but in Russia, about 25 people a year get the skin form of the disease. Many are treated at this center in Siberia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call anthrax "the Siberian ulcer," because it's been in Siberia since ancient times. It may be an exotic disease for Americans, but it isn't for us.

MCEDWARDS: These pictures show the festering sores from anthrax that occurs naturally. Farmers and veterinarians are the most common victims because of poor hygienic conditions on farms.

The Russian public has its own concerns about anthrax, natural or military. The newspaper, "Izvestia," held a Web chat with a senior specialist at Russia's Ministry of Health. Web traffic was heavy, the questions: "Is my mail safe? Can anthrax be stolen?"

"It will take time to find out where the U.S. anthrax is coming from," the doctor says. "The main achievement of the terrorists is the fear, fear for everyone around the world."



PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Anthrax: Tonight, new discovery...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-one-year-old woman has been diagnosed with skin anthrax.

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Just found anthrax spores somewhere...

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Some developments in the anthrax scare.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of years before it was making headlines, anthrax was well known for its particular brand of bioterror. According to some, anthrax was responsible for the fifth Egyptian plague in the book of Exodus, but, by the 1800s, it was known as the rag pickers or wool sorters disease because industrial workers often contracted it from working with animal hides and wool. In modern times, anthrax is fairly commonplace in rural American states like Texas, where ranches are home to cattle and goats. In fact, goat hair was responsible for the first recorded anthrax epidemic in U.S. history.

By 1955, anthrax had already been identified as a possible biowarfare agent, and scientists were anxious to develop and test a human vaccine. But in order to test a vaccine, a population that was regularly exposed to anthrax was needed and found -- wool workers in the mills of New England.

Six hundred mill employees were asked to be voluntarily inoculated, including several employees at the Arms Textile Mill Company in Manchester, New Hampshire. The experiment was to last two years. But in 1957, nine workers at the Arms Mill fell ill with coughs, high fevers and skin lesions.

Doctors in the experiment quickly identified the problem as an outbreak of anthrax, contracted from a spore-infested shipment of goat hair from Pakistan. It turns out, none of the nine afflicted workers had received the anthrax vaccine, and researchers believed this to be the proof they needed that the vaccine worked. The results of the study served as the foundation for the vaccine's approval in 1970.

Today, the site where the Arms Textile Mill used to stand is just an asphalt parking lot. Nine years after the epidemic, a man working in a building across the street from the mill contracted inhalation anthrax, supposedly from spores that wafted over in the shared ventilation system. Public health officials sealed the old mill building and began what was the largest decontamination project in history. The Arms Textile Mill was chemically disinfected, dismantled board by board and incinerated. The remaining bricks were then buried in a plot that was not to be touched for 2,000 years.

But that was just one building. Today, anthrax has infiltrated many more buildings. What will become of them, only time will tell.



ANNOUNCER: Susan Taylor from Orlando, Florida asks: "What exactly are the symptoms of skin anthrax?"

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Susan, skin anthrax, also known as cutaneous anthrax, is usually caused by the anthrax bacteria coming in contact with broken skin. The symptoms may start with a small bump on the skin. From there it might progress to a rash, and perhaps to an area of ulcerated or dead skin.

Some have confused cutaneous anthrax with a spider or tick bite. The diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax is made by demonstrating the presence of the anthrax bacteria in the skin through a biopsy. Cutaneous anthrax is very treatable with antibiotics. However, it can lead to death if not treated.




FREIDMAN: ... after the terrorist attacks. But now people are once again flocking to see films. As more Americans trek to the movie theaters, some young entrepreneurs are working to produce the next big hit. A documentary released this year called "The Journey," depicts the ambitions of both the creator and the American people as a whole. What began as a post-college graduation road trip is now a hit among movie critics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The theme, sometimes you take a journey, sometimes the journey takes you, tell me where this journey led for you.

ERIC SAPERSTON, PRODUCER, "THE JOURNEY": Well, it's taken me beyond any expectations I ever had. I mean I set off to -- you know after graduating from college, I took a year -- I wanted to take a year off and follow The Dead and work a ski season in Aspen. And a mentor challenged me and said what else can I do on that trip that would make it more meaningful, you know provide value to myself and to the people that I meet along the way. And on a dare, I -- you know I just decided that I'd call up some of the most powerful people in the world and ask them out for a cup of coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this was a dare, that's how this started?

SAPERSTON: Yes, just a dare. My mentor had said you know how can you make this trip more meaningful? And I realized that, you know, I had been fortunate as a student leader, that there was a breakdown in our country, at least I thought there was a breakdown in our country, between young people and elders in America. And realized that, you know, what if I had a chance to talk to some pretty extraordinary elders? Could I talk to them about, you know, the values they live by, the struggles they've endured or what advice and counsel would they give to our generation, to better prepare ourselves for the road ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What had you seen in your years as a student leader to make you need to ask that question? What was it that you saw in today's society to make you say we need to get these generations talking to each other?

SAPERSTON: It's a good question. I think the reason why I set out to bridge the generation gap is because, you know as television has become our No. 1 medium for shaping our values, attitudes and beliefs, you've got -- you know television focuses on a very small world. Even though the world's this big, you know the television focus is on a very sliver of the world and we know more about lifestyles of the rich and famous and the bizarre, sick and twisted. But the very people who get up in the morning excited and go to bed fulfilled, we don't necessarily know who they are because they're not newsworthy, and it was those folks that I wanted to go seek out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me a little bit more about that. How did you choose the list of people that you chose?

SAPERSTON: Originally I had a list of some you know kind of "gosh, what if I can meet these people?" And then we sought out those folks, but then they led it to other people and to other people. You know for example, I -- we interviewed -- well I got invited to speak for the AmeriCorps and in the audience that night was the director of the FBI, who then in turn introduced me to Governor Ann Richards of Texas, who then introduced me to Henry Winkler, who then introduced me to Billy Crystal. I mean it's been a pretty amazing kind of "Six Degrees of Separation," if you will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you started somewhere, and you started by standing at a campground dialing a payphone. How did you get interviews with former presidents and Billy Crystal and people like that before the wave started -- before you started getting passed on to other people and getting recommendations and...

SAPERSTON: I had to smile at that because I'm not really sure how I got the interviews, to be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me your pitch.

SAPERSTON: Tell me your pitch. Well, I would -- I'd go to a payphone, because at the time that's all I had. I was pretty much living in my VW Bus and tent -- you know tent camping. And I'd go to a payphone and I would just call up somebody that I thought would be neat to interview. And I'd say "hello, you know my name is Eric Saperston. I'm traveling across the country in a Volkswagen Bus with my dog, you know, tent camping. I'm funding my trip by selling sexy, kind grilled cheese sandwiches made with love for $1 off my Coleman stove. I made enough money to sustain my dream.

The dream that I'm talking about is really interviewing extraordinary people and taking them out for cups of coffee. I'd like to take you out for a cup of coffee and find out the values that push and drive you to do what you do, the struggles you've endured and what advice and counsel you'd give to my generation to better prepare ourselves for the road ahead.

Now I've made enough money selling grilled cheese sandwiches to treat for that cup of coffee I told you about, but I've got to be honest, if you order anything else on the menu, you're on your own." And if they chuckled just like you did, then I thought I might have a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get a lot of nos?

SAPERSTON: Oh tons and tons of nos. I think that's -- that's I think the most important part of a journey is that there is going to be a hell of a lot more nos then there's going to be a yes, but it's the yes that you go for. And once you get a yes, then you can parlay that into other yes's, but definitely got to have thick skin when you start. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever want to give up?

SAPERSTON: Wow. You know I never wanted to give up ever. Once I set my mind to this thing, I knew that I had to finish what I started. The greatest fear that I had was just that I wasn't smart enough to actually succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But a lot of people feel that way. A lot of people have the feeling that, you know, I'm not smart enough or I'm not good enough or I can't do it. How did you push through?

SAPERSTON: This wasn't just about Eric Saperston, this was about Jimmy Carter, this was about Billy Crystal, this was about Henry Winkler, this was about Senator Max Cleland, this was about the astronaut Kathy Thornton, this was about the real horse whisperer, this was about Ken Keasy, this was about all the people and my own teammates and all the families and all the people that gave us a couch to sleep on or bought a grilled cheese sandwich. This was about everybody who helped contribute, and I didn't want to let them down.


HAYNES: And that is CNN NEWSROOM for Wednesday. I'm Tom Haynes.

FREIDMAN: And I'm Susan Freidman. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

HAYNES: See you.




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