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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 10, 2000

Aired January 10, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: It's Monday, January 10. Welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Andy Jordan .

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We hope your week is off to a good start. Little Elian Gonzalez is back in the news.

JORDAN: Plus, acid rain, unemployed elephants, and an unlikely philanthropist. We've got it all today!

In our top story, the future of Elian Gonzalez still hangs in the balance, even as the deadline for his return to his father in Cuba draws near.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His mom gave his life for him to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the father, he has the right.


BAKHTIAR: Coming up in "Environment Desk," it's killing trees, polluting lakes, and melting monuments.


JOHN SHEEHAN, ADIRONDACK COUNCIL: The Statue of Liberty loses pounds of copper a year as a result of acid rain.

JORDAN: Our "Worldview" agenda includes Thailand, where some friendly pachyderms are facing dire straits.


RICHARD LAIR, ELEPHANT EXPERT: Elephants are being forced into tourism, which is good soft work for some elephants, but inappropriate for bull elephants.


BAKHTIAR: And in NEWSROOM "Chronicle," meet the rigger with a flare for philanthropy.


MATEL DAWSON, PHILANTHROPIST: I get a thrill out of it and I want to be a credit to the African-American race.


BAKHTIAR: We head to Little Havana for today's top story. Little Havana, Miami, USA, that is. It's the setting for the latest chapter in the saga of Elian Gonzalez. The 6-year-old Cuban boy is at the center of a political struggle that separates not only the U.S. and Cuba, but father and son. It is at the crux of arguments in Cuba that the boy be returned.

Cuban-American exiles in the U.S. say the boy should be allowed to stay with relatives in Miami. They argue he'll have a better life in the United States.

He was rescued off the Florida coast on Thanksgiving, after his mother and nine other Cubans died while trying to flee to the U.S. by boat. U.S. immigration officials decided the U.S. would send him back to Cuba by this Friday. But a congressional subpoena could interfere with that decision.

For a chronology of Elian's journey and the history of U.S.-Cuban relations, head to the January 6 program and "Classroom Guide."

For now, Elian's fate is in the air. But, there's an air of optimism circling Miami, where Elian spent Sunday participating in festivities marking the end of the Christmas season.

Susan Candiotti has our first report.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Youngsters love parades, and Elian Gonzalez, waving both Cuban and U.S. flags, appeared to have a ball at the annual Three Kings Celebration in Miami's Little Havana. One float, featuring Elian's image was dedicated to him. In this crowd of spectators, opinions over the boy's fate remain divided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His mom gave his life for him to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the father; he has the right.

CANDIOTTI: The boy exchanged victory signs with the parade's grand marshal, Yankee pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Hernandez defected from Cuba in 1997.

In Washington, Congressman Dan Burton insisted the congressional subpoena he served on the boy is not a political stunt, but an attempt to ward off the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from reuniting father and son by Friday.

REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), CHAIRMAN, GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: If the INS sends that boy back without due process of law, without a court making a finding based upon all of the facts presented to them, then I will have the INS before our committee and they can explain to me and to the American people why they felt it was imperative to send him back.

CANDIOTTI: An INS official tells CNN -- quote -- "It appears the subpoena will have no impact on the ability of INS to carry out its decision." Iowa Senator Tom Harkin supports the INS ruling.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: It's a pro-family position, and economics and standard of living really does not enter into it. And so really the boy belongs with his father, assuming again that he is a good father, and all indications are that that is the case.

CANDIOTTI: As early as Monday, a family court judge in Miami is expected to rule on a petition filed this weekend to grant temporary custody to Elian's great uncle. Attorneys say it could help give them more clout when they ask a federal court to grant them a political asylum hearing.

(on camera): With developments expected in both state and federal court, and the U.S. attorney general weighing in once more, this week may be another emotional one for Elian, his father in Cuba, and the boy's extended family in Florida as Friday's immigration deadline to reunite father and son draws near.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.



LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They sang along to the revolutionary ballad, "Cuba, How Beautiful is Cuba." Tens of thousands of people packing Havana's Liberty City for the second mass rally in as many days, called to demand the return of Elian Gonzalez to his country.

"He must return," said this school girl. "We can't allow his future to be one of a drug addict."

The rally was the largest in Havana in weeks. Many people outraged by a conservative U.S. congressman's subpoena of Elian to further delay his return to Cuba.

Speaking to CNN shortly before the subpoena was issued, Cuba's point man on the dispute called it a desperate move.

RICARDO ALARCON, PRES., CUBAN NATL. ASSEMBLY: I think it's illegal for several reasons, because they are supposed to have the right to subpoena U.S. citizens or U.S. residents, but Elian has not been admitted into the U.S. It is really a disgrace, and what everybody should do is go to Meissner, appeal next Wednesday, is to cooperate and to remember that after all, we are talking about a 6- year-old boy that has already suffered enough.

NEWMAN: The boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was shaken by the news and accused his Miami relatives of manipulating his son.

"They give him lots of cartoons, they fill him with presents, they keep him entertained, forcing him into things he doesn't want, using him for their maneuvers," he said.

Mr. Gonzalez lashed out at Congressman Dan Burton, saying he had no right to do what he was doing to his boy.

(on camera): As the international custody battle enters its seventh week, passions on this end of the Florida Straights are only increasing. A 6-year-old little boy becoming living proof that the cold war between the United States and Cuba is far from over.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


JORDAN: Well, call it a sign of the digital times. Wireless technologies like cell phones and pagers have become more affordable than ever. As a result, millions of people in developing countries are using telecommunications for the first time. But there are still millions of others around the world who have been excluded from this technological revolution and some people say that may not be altogether bad.

Eric Olander reports.


ERIC OLANDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The divide between the world's technology haves and have-nots is dramatic. While cell phones, the Internet, and computers are rapidly becoming fixtures of everyday life in the industrialized nations of the Northern Hemisphere, the situation in the developing South is vastly different.

The technology revolution of the past two decades is passing over hundreds of millions of people who struggle to meet some of life's most basic demands.

MARK MALLOCH BROWN, U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: There are a billion people in the world today, adults, who can't read and write. And, with that level of illiteracy, that's a whole marginal class, one-sixth of humanity, who's excluded from the benefits of the new technology.

OLANDER: But for others, those not at the very bottom, sweeping changes are underway. New, more affordable technologies are making it possible for many developing countries to get connected and bridge the so-called "digital divide."

JASON PONTIN, EDITOR, "RED HERRING" MAGAZINE: It is now cheaper and more effective to wire up your country with fiber optics, wireless, and satellite technologies. You know, a country like Ethiopia could do that in a fairly quick, efficient way, and yet there are established, regulated old-world telecommunications who run copper-line networks and have every interest in maintaining that. OLANDER: The United Nations reports this is the case in other parts of Africa as well. For many African states, telecommunications monopolies serve as a critical source of hard currency. The U.N. says these governments are reluctant to jeopardize that revenue by opening their markets to more efficient international operators. Technology experts say developing countries face a stark choice: open their information markets even further or risk being left behind in the coming digital century.

Eric Olander, CNN, Atlanta.


JORDAN: When factories cause pollution, it can be far-reaching. Take tall smokestacks for example. They can send pollution high into the sky, which increases the time it stays in the air and increases the chance the pollutants will form acid rain. Acid rain is rain with a high concentration of acids produced from the burning of fossil fuels. But the wind can carry these pollutants hundreds of miles before they join droplets to fall as acid rain.

That has some U.S. states pointing the finger at their neighbors. For example, New York says out-of-state electric plants are fouling its air. New York is filing suit against ten coal-fired plants in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Virginia, charging them with violating the federal Clean Air Act. The idea, like the pollution, is spreading to other states.

Natalie Pawelski has our reports.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New York's countryside, acid rain is killing trees and lakes.

JOHN SHEEHAN, ADIRONDACK COUNCIL: In some cases, it means the lake is clear as gin; there's nothing left. Not even the bacteria survives.

PAWELSKI: In the cities, it is melting monuments.

SHEEHAN: The Statue of Liberty loses pounds of copper a year as a result of acid rain.

PAWELSKI: And across the state, acid rain and air pollution are causing health problems. New York says most of the blame rests with power plants in the Midwest and the Virginias, whose emissions are swept up by prevailing winds to rain down further East.

ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Midwestern utility companies that have been burning the high-sulfur coal have been spewing forth into the atmosphere the NOx and the SOx, the nitrous oxide and the sulfur dioxide, that then comes down here on the East Coast as acid rain.

PAWELSKI: New York's attorney general is targeting 17 older coal-fired power plants. They are grandfathered, allowed to meet lower air-pollution standards, as long as they don't make certain upgrades. New York says these utilities are spending millions on major changes that should trigger tighter air-pollution rules. The utilities disagree.

DALE HEYDLAUFF, AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER: All we've done at this power plant and the other power plants that the attorney general of New York has criticized is undertake routine repair, maintenance and replacement activities that is in accordance with industry standards and EPA regulations and guidance.

PAWELSKI: American Electric Power, which owns 11 of the plants, says New York should stop pointing fingers across state lines and look in its own backyard.

HEYDLAUFF: Local sources of pollution have a much greater impact on air quality than sources that are like this one, 550 miles away from New York City.

PAWELSKI (on camera): Old coal-fired electric plants are also under attack from Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency has its own list of utilities it says may be violating the Clean Air Act.

(voice-over): The federal government is suing seven power companies, targeting some of the same plants and others in the Midwest and South.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN, St. Albans, West Virginia.


JORDAN: Well, we'll have more environmental news coming up in our "Worldview" segment. And in next week's "Environment Desk," we'll visit New Mexico and the site of what could be the newest national park in the U.S. Created by a volcanic eruption 1.2 million years ago, the Baca Ranch is a nature lover's paradise. Explore it with us next Monday right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address where you can also sign-up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

BAKHTIAR: It's time for animal tales in "Worldview" as we turn our environmental spotlight on elephants and orangutans. We head to Indonesia, a land said to have more endangered species than anywhere else. And we'll also journey to Thailand where some hard-working pachyderms are packing it in. First stop, a reunified nation in Europe where we'll check out a school and get its latest report card. JORDAN: We begin in Germany, the home of social philosopher Karl Marx, the man behind modern socialism and communism. Communism is the system of common ownership of property, and socialism is the theory by which the means of production and distribution are owned by society rather than by individuals.

Marx lived from 1818 to 1883, but his legacy lived on, spanning much of the 20th century. Ten years ago, as Central European communism was collapsing, institutions were struggling to replace the political system they'd known for generations. Back then, CNN senior correspondent Richard Blystone visited a school named for Karl Marx, the father of communism, to see how it was coping. Blystone went back recently on an Iron Curtain odyssey.


RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It had been a hard winter for Karl Marx around Plauen, East Germany.

"Workers of the world, forgive me," a sarcastic play on the rallying cry of the father of communism whose work was then getting an F for failure. So, surely by now, Plauen would have changed the name of the Karl Marx School. Nope; they forgave him. "Part of history," says principal Uwe Schmidt. Parents, pupils, teachers voted to keep the name.

"The curriculum's no longer politically oriented," he says. "There is more teamwork, more diversity than there was in the old days."

Marx's Communist Manifesto says the history of every society that ever was is the history of class struggle. As this class struggles with the French Revolution, the Karl Marx Oberschule is struggling with what to do about post-Marxist history, how to teach about the Iron Curtain that traces the border with West Germany 10 miles to the south.

It's hard," says principal Harry Jahn. "We're having to rethink all our experiences and beliefs, and restructure the way we teach."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's going too fast. People don't want to lose everything the way they did after World War II.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My father says the same thing. Not everything in the past was so bad.

BLYSTONE: But nothing was going to stop it. Today, at what's now an elementary school, there's a whole new take on life and history.

The Wall divided East and West Germany. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Back then, it was something like Russia, USA and America. And Russia belonged to East Germany and America and West Germany belonged together, and that's why they built the Wall.

BLYSTONE: And Karl Marx?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think he's the one who paid for this school.

BLYSTONE: Minds may be freer now, but the eastern school system scored on general knowledge, says the principal.

UWE SCHMIDT, PRINCIPAL, KARL MARX SCHOOL (through translator): Pupils who come here from the West now are ahead in communication and teamwork, but we've learned in academics, they're behind. We don't have as much influence on children as we did, and we don't want it. School is only one part of society.

BLYSTONE (on camera): The children who played here 10 years ago are in university now, or out in the work force straining to cope with the many problems of today's Germany. It's safe to say that Karl Marx is the last thing on their minds.

Richard Blystone, CNN, at the Karl Marx School, Plauen, Germany.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: On to Indonesia, home of the orangutan, a rare ape. It spends most of its time in trees in the rain forest where it builds nests 20 to 80 feet, or six to 24 meters, high up in the forest canopy.

The name orangutan comes from a Malay word meaning man of the woods. But man is the orangutan's major enemy, as Gary Strieker reports.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their mothers were killed by farmers defending their crops. And these orphaned orangutans are now kept at this government rehabilitation center in Sumatra. Someday, they're supposed to be released back into the wild.

ANNICK ANTY, VOLUNTEER: In the jungle, they build their nest, they find their food, and they need a big space.

STRIEKER: But there's a problem finding that kind of big space. Suitable forests for them are vanishing.

RISWAN BANGUN ORANGUTAN REHABILITATION CENTER: Habitat for orangutan now in Sumatra, I think, is very difficult to find.

STRIEKER: Conservationists say, in the past ten years, the number of orangutans in the wild has fallen by more than half and probably fewer than 20,000 now survive.

CAREY YEAGER, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: If something's not done soon, within, say, the next few years, there's a very good chance that we'll be losing the species forever. STRIEKER: Some orangutans are found in Malaysian territory on Borneo, but most are in Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra, and many wildlife experts agree the future of this endangered species, the only great ape in Asia, is now in the hands of Indonesians.

Two years of disastrous fires in Indonesia have wiped out vast areas in the orangutan's range, killing untold numbers of these animals. Fires drove many starving orangutans out of the forests toward human settlements, looking for food in plantations and farmers' fields. Many were killed by farmers who captured baby orangutans to be sold in the illegal pet trade.

There's been a surge of illegal logging across Indonesia, even in the protected forests of national parks.

(on camera): These national parks contain some of the most important undisturbed habitat for remaining populations of orangutans. In a few years, the last wild orangutans on Earth might survive only here in the parks, and nowhere else.

YEAGER: Orangutans are sort of a litmus test of what quality our forests are in. If orangutans can't survive, other species can't survive.

STRIEKER (voice-over): There are more endangered species of wildlife in Indonesia than anywhere else. The orangutan is just one in a desperate situation growing worse as these forests disappear.

Gary Strieker, CNN, Bukit Lawang, Indonesia.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: We turn now to Thailand. Its Surin Province which borders Cambodia is famous for its elephants. Locals are known for their skill in rounding up and training the wild creatures. Recently, the region held a celebration with about 150 elephants on hand. One highlights a soccer match between two teams of elephants, with a little help from their mahouts, or keepers. But the show had a serious side as well. It was an effort to bring attention to the plight of the huge beasts. Once, elephants led rival armies into battle in Southeast Asia. But more recently, they have been used for the more laborious heavy lifting in the Thai logging industry.

But with logging now banned due to over-cutting, the elephant faces an uncertain future, as Sachi Koto explains.


SACHI KOTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The annual two-day roundup in Thailand is drawing its usual crowd of thousands. The adorned elephants take to the field in their full splendor of pageantry as the spectators cheer with enthusiasm.

The pachyderms perform their skills just as rehearsed and amaze the onlookers with various tricks. Two of the animals here rock this man gently and on time. This man rides his beast triumphantly while another elephant works on the hoops.

But behind the glitter and glitz of the performance is the hard, cold reality that the elephants' jobs are on the line. Similar to a factory worker, the animals are being phased out by machinery.

RICHARD LAIR, ELEPHANT EXPERT: There's no longer logging, there's so many good roads that there's no longer transportation; elephants are being forced into tourism, which is good soft work for some elephants but inappropriate for bull elephants.

KOTO: It's usually death for an elephant when they become injured, but Motola (ph) was spared when she became famous after losing her leg to a land mine. Making media headlines, she received an abundance of sympathy, financial aid, and medical assistance.

Death is also almost certain for the elephant out of work. Farmers are pressed to feed and house their own families, much less the unemployed animals with enormous appetites. Some of the elephants have taken to begging on the streets of Bangkok, a dangerous situation for the animal as well as residents. Some contributions are being sent through charities, but there's no government plan in the works for any sort of financial assistance for the animals.

In the meantime, there's one job the elephants do better than any machine, and that's to thrill the crowds at the annual roundup.

Sachi Koto, CNN.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.

JORDAN: In today's "Chronicle," a story of generosity from an unlikely place. An autoworker in Detroit has become the driving force behind the college education for dozens of students.

Ed Garsten has more on a millionaire leaving his own life in neutral in order to move full speed ahead with philanthropy.


ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matel Dawson could live in a mansion, he could hire a maid and a decorator, but this cluttered apartment is this millionaire's castle. No, he doesn't spend much on himself at all.

MATEL DAWSON, PHILANTHROPIST: Mister, I've enjoyed my life. I've owned big cars, big homes. That doesn't excite me anymore. I want to be remembered. I want to leave a legacy.

GARSTEN: The legacy Dawson is working on: his generosity. He gives his money away, $1 million so far, to universities to help finance the education of students in need.

Lisa Straschewski is one of those students. She once needed loans to pay for tuition, but then she won a Matel Dawson scholarship, part of the more than $400,000 he donated to Wayne State University.

LISA STRASCHEWSKI, SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT: Mr. Dawson is a very special man because there aren't many people that are willing to be so generous with their money.

IRVIN REID, PRESIDENT, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY: I think it's beyond unselfishness. I think it is a more proactive kind of a commitment to help those who would benefit immensely from his gifts.

GARSTEN: Dawson never went to college, but when he donated $200,000 to the Louisiana State University campus in his home town of Shreveport, he was awarded an honorary degree. Why give all that money away?

DAWSON: I enjoy it. I got a thrill out of it. I'm sorry, I get a thrill out of it, and I want to be a credit to the African-American race.

GARSTEN: What makes Dawson's generosity even more amazing is how he accumulated all that money -- like this: for almost 60 years, seven days a week, 12 hours a day as a rigger at a Ford Motor Company plant in Dearborn, Michigan. He almost never takes a day off and doesn't plan to stop now.

He loves the publicity surrounding his philanthropy: meeting celebrities like Bill Cosby and Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. At 78...



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