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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 20, 2000

Aired January 20, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Here we go again with another edition of CNN NEWSROOM for Thursday, January 20.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

Nature is in the news again today. We'll tell you all about it.

HAYNES: In our top story, praying for rain in the United States, where an unusual weather pattern is leaving places high and dry.


WILLIAM PATZERT, JPL OCEANOGRAPHER: When the Pacific speaks with events like this, the United States definitely listens.


BAKHTIAR: More weather news in "Science Desk," from typhoons to tornadoes, the big climate events of the century that have rocked our world.


JACK KELLY, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Hurricane Mitch hit three countries and Central America with 9,000 fatalities.


HAYNES: We head to Papua New Guinea in "Worldview," where the ties that bind tradition are coming apart in court.


BENSON GEGEYO, MAISIN ELDER: If we lose this battle, court case, that will not be the end of it. We will fight to the last man.


BAKHTIAR: Then, in "Chronicle," from raging Bull to reigning Wizard, the man who could fly is reaching for new heights.


MICHAEL JORDAN, WASHINGTON WIZARDS: I have an attitude about the way I play and I have an attitude about the way I win, and my job and my responsibility with this organization is to see if I can pass that on to the players.


BAKHTIAR: We're all about unusual weather in today's news, and this climate story comes courtesy of three letters: PDO. It's a complicated weather phenomenon similar to El Nino. That's when warm surface water hovers in the western Pacific Ocean. That supplies extra moisture and energy for storms, dropping torrential rains and setting off a chain of unusual weather around the world.

It's mirror phenomenon is La Nina, when Pacific waters turn colder than usual, dumping rain in areas not used to it, and drying up areas used to wetness. Both of them happen on a cycle and both are phenomena of the Pacific Ocean, but can affect weather patterns globally.

The weather phenomenon called PDO affecting parts of North America can have just as far-reaching effects, but has a longer cycle.

Anne McDermott explains.


ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Painting the lawn: Another wacky California custom? Well, no. This was back in the late '80s when a drought burned up all the grass. Eventually, though, the vegetable dye was washed away by El Nino. But it may be time to get out that green dye again, because according to the experts, more drought is on the way. And that's because of a natural recurring climate pattern over the Pacific Ocean called Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO for short.

Unlike El Nino, which only sticks around a year or two, PDO is a much bigger phenomenon, and one that waxes and wanes over the course of 20 to 30 years. Scientists monitoring this PDO say it steers the jet stream over North America and will result, they say, in lots more rain in the Northwest part of the United States and less than normal rainfall in the Southern part of the country.

PATZERT: When the Pacific speaks with events like this, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the United States definitely listens.

MCDERMOTT: How severe droughts will be is by no means possible to determine, but expect a renewed interest in those low-flow shower heads and those water-skimping toilets. No one's forgotten rationing or the sacrifices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not being able to wash down my driveway and wash my car. MCDERMOTT: Now this PDO is not related to global warming, but its reach may be global. Scientists say it's possible that the PDO played a part in the terrible flooding in Venezuela last year and in those wind storms that battered Europe late last month. But mostly, this climate pattern will affect the U.S.

In fact, it's already happening. Scientists say New England's long wait for that first big snow is related to the PDO.

Next up: well, at least some periods of drought in some parts of the country, though it's unlikely it'll make anyone yearn for the return of El Nino.

Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: When it rains, it pours. And later in NEWSROOM, we'll step back and look at weather patterns over the last 100 years. That's coming up in "Science Desk."

HAYNES: Combat between Russian troops and Chechen rebels has intensified. The Russian Army says it's close to capturing Chechnya's capital. Chechnya and Russia have a history of conflict which spans several hundred years, the last nine of which have been especially tumultuous.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechnya declared its independence. Since then, fighting has persisted and many wonder if it will ever end.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since the war began four months ago, the two sides are fighting at close range in the very center of the Chechen capital, Grozny. Russian generals are using the terms "breakthrough" and "decisive phase" to describe the ground assault on the city. But some analysts question whether taking Grozny would signal an end to the war.

ANDREI PIONKOWSKI, POLITICAL ANALYST: Every day on the TV screens, some general appears and says: We'll go to the end, we'll go to the victory, we'll never allow the traitors to stop us. I always want to ask them a very simple question: What is your definition of end? What is your definition of victory? Nobody can give this answer.

HARRIGAN: In a surprise rebel offensive last week, Chechen fighters temporarily re-took parts of three cities the Russians claimed to control.

PAVEL FELGENHAUER, MILITARY ANALYST: In fighting an anti- guerrilla war, just simply taking cities and occupying territory while the enemy troops evade you and continue to be battle-capable -- that doesn't bring you victory. It never does. HARRIGAN: From the West, more calls for a cease-fire, this time from the Council of Europe. The delegation is visiting the same sights diplomats from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe visited last month. The OSCE's call for a cease-fire was also ignored.


HAYNES: Weather disasters touched every corner of the world last century. Can you recall some of the worst ones? Top-10 lists have become popular in many areas of society, so here's one for weather events. A U.S. agency has unveiled its choices of the top-10 climate events of the past 100 years, based on intensity, uniqueness and the impact on human lives.

Marsha Walton has our look back.


MARSHA WALTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From years of famine on the continents of Africa and Asia, to the drought and erosion known as the Great Dustbowl of the United States in the 1930s, weather disasters have claimed millions of lives and changed economics and lifestyles due to vast population migration.

In unveiling the century's most dramatic weather events, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says better forecasting is saving lives.

KELLY: Twenty years ago, by and large, the first notification of a tornado was when a tornado touched down. Now, on average, we get 13 minutes lead time, and some cases, much greater than 13 minutes.

WALTON: But the help of weather technology depends a lot upon where you live.

KELLY: Hurricane Mitch hit three countries and Central America last year with 9,000 fatalities.

WALTON: Among the other top weather events in the U.S.:

KELLY: Hurricane Camille, which was on the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Andrew, both of which did tremendous amounts of devastation from a property point of view.

WALTON: And a hurricane in 1900 that killed more than 8,000 people in Galveston, Texas.

Globally, over the past 100 years, typhoons have ravaged Japan, China and the Philippines. Cyclones have killed up to a half million people in Bangladesh. The Caribbean, Latin America and the U.S. have coped with brutal tropical storms. Flooding, especially in Asia, tornadoes, drought and other major weather events have impacted the entire globe.

The warm currents of the Pacific known as El Nino also made the forecasters list. Knowledge about it is increasing dramatically.

KELLY: In 1997, two seasons before the El Nino event occurred, we forecast it.

WALTON: Kelly say a look back at the century has both shown what advances forecasting has made, and reminded us how vulnerable we are to the power of nature.

Marsha Walton, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: I bet many of you couldn't imagine living without a television. How about a microwave, or, God forbid, a telephone? There was a time when those items were luxuries and not necessities.

Now, for tomorrow's potential must-haves, we head to the Windy City, which is proving to be the trendy city these days.

Jeff Flock reports from Chicago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We touch Internet connection, and...

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From smart microwaves to silly cat liter boxes...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, this is a simulation of your cat going to the bathroom.

FLOCK: ... the booming economy has helped spawn everything from a pen that massages to a gun that shoots cookies to tattoos for your hair.

LISA CASEY WEISS, INTL. HOUSEWARES SHOW: The consumer is so stressed out and looking for an escape from everyday life that they're looking toward the home as a refuge.

FLOCK: The smart home: Next year, Sunbeam will market an alarm clock that turns on your coffee pot, turns off your electric blanket, even hears your smoke detector when you don't.

JOHN HAMANN, PRESIDENT, THALIA PRODUCTS: It goes off, wakes you up, shows an icon that says the smoke alarm is going, and it tells you in which room of the house the smoke alarm has gone off.

PATTI SMITH, SHARP ELECTRONICS: This cook box is what ties the Internet to the microwave.

FLOCK: This microwave downloads recipes and then tells you how to make dinner.

SMITH: The difference in Sharp's product is that it is the only one that is currently on today's market. FLOCK: For now, only in Japan. Available here and now, the Rotisserie Plus roasts your chicken vertically; better juice flow, they say. Hair Prints' Tattoos magically bond to your hair; the massage pen writes notes and erases stress.

DAVID SPINDA, MEDISANA USA INC.: You'll be sitting in a sales meeting not really give it away that you're massaging your temples for that little bit of enjoyment.

FLOCK: Do we need all this? Maybe not, but consider the newest household inventions of the early 20th century: a hair dryer and alarm clock from 1925, a toaster and electric iron from 1918. Who knows which of today's luxuries will be tomorrow's can't-live-withouts.

I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, in Chicago.


BAKHTIAR: We'll feature one of the handiest gadgets ever in our "Science Desk" next week. Check out a computer that might be able to read your mind and your emotions. Can a computer be your friend? We tap into the technology. Tune in next Thursday for our "Science Desk."

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 segments that fit your lesson plans. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other on-line 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: We spin the globe and span the globe in "Worldview." We'll head to China, a country poised to pounce on an Internet business boom. From there to Austria and Germany, where a decades-old night of terror lingers on, with victims surfacing and fighting back in the United States. And there's another fight in the forests of Papua New Guinea.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: New Guinea is a large tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia. It is the world's second largest island, boasting an area of about 316,000 square miles, or 818,000 square kilometers. Only the island of Greenland is larger. New Guinea is home to about 6 million people, though all are not residents of the same country. The island is divided into two political units called Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea.

Irian Jaya is a province of Indonesia that covers the western half of the island; Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half. It is a former territory of Australia that became an independent nation in 1975. Papua New Guinea is one of the world's last great frontiers. Its raw landscape runs the gamut from swamps and tropical rain forests to rugged mountains with limestone peaks. The people of Papua New Guinea are just as varied and unspoiled. Most live in small, rural villages and have stayed true to their tribal lifestyle, despite some interference from the outside world.

Gary Strieker reports on how some of the people of Papua New Guinea are fighting to preserve their heritage.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like most tribes in Papua New Guinea, the Maisin were never hospitable to trespassers, always serious about defending their culture and their land, even today in a lawsuit where the outcome could change their way of life forever.

GEGEYO: If we lose this battle, court case, that will not be the end of it. We will fight to the last man.

STRIEKER: Their fight is for this: a rain forest stretching inland from the coast of the Solomon Sea. Inside the forest, the Maisin clear patches for their crops and hunt wild animals for meat. From the forest, they get building materials, medicines and fresh water.

JOHN WESLEY VASO, MAISIN LANDOWNER: The forest is our livelihood. This is where -- and it's also inheritance that our forefathers have passed on to us.

STRIEKER: Tribes like the Maisin are legal owners of their traditional lands. But now, a development company owned by Malaysians claims it has a valid lease and permits to clearcut this forest, and then establish an oil-palm plantation here, a project creating hundreds of jobs.

GREG SHEPPARD, LAWYER FOR DEVELOPMENT COMPANY: Jobs in the long term for the planting of the oil palm, and then its maintenance and ongoing harvesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were trying to make this an anchorage area, and on the station was where the mini-town was to be set up.

STRIEKER: The Maisin say they've never signed away their land, that the lease is invalid, with inadequate signatures. The company denies the charge, but the Maisin have convinced the supreme court here to stop the project until a final decision on the case.

STRIEKER (on camera): The Maisin might have won the first round, but the final outcome of their lawsuit could be months away, and they've just about exhausted all the money they've raised for legal costs.

(voice-over): Conservationists here say timber and plantation companies often use devious methods to obtain rights on tribal lands. And if the Maisin win this case, other tribes might follow their example.

Gary Strieker, CNN, Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: The World Trade Organization is an international group that sets rules governing world trade. Its purpose is to help global trade flow smoothly by organizing trade negotiations and settling trade disputes between governments. All major decisions are made by the organization's 135 member countries, or by trade ministers who meet every two years.

The most recent WTO talks were held last November in Seattle. The conference was disrupted by protesters who say there are serious flaws in global capitalism. Some claim the WTO has not paid enough attention to environmental issues and workers' rights. Many protesters also say China should not be allowed to join the world trading body because of its poor human rights record.

Despite the opposition, China is preparing for its entry into the World Trade Organization and subsequent connection to the rest of the world, which will come primarily through the Internet.

Marsha Walton has more.


WALTON (voice-over): Controversy over China's entry into the World Trade Organization may be a moot point, because Internet technologies don't play by any organization's rules.

HYO JONG KIM, PRESIDENT, DOMAINASIA: I think what we're seeing is a revolution of trading -- global trading. And in Asian country, they're beginning to grasp that.

WALTON: China's expected entry into the WTO is presenting a whole new quandary for its government: It cannot thrive economically without the Internet revolution, but it cannot completely control what people do with it.

JONG KIM: If you talk to all the high-level officials, they realize the fact that, you know, for the country to go to the next level in economic development, it's important for them to be connected with the rest of the world. But then, you know, Internet is a medium of communication which has an impact on the domestic control.

WALTON: Governments in Singapore, China and some other countries have tried to censor what they deem subversive content, but there's a realization that building a great firewall is not the answer.

DAVID SHEFF, AUTHOR: In the past, all news Chinese people were able to get was censored, was controlled by the government. Because of the Net, that's no longer possible.

WALTON: Some Chinese officials are not waiting for WTO membership to court technology investments from abroad.

SHEFF: My feeling is that there's no stopping it with or without the WTO. But, obviously, this is just going to make it easier.

WALTON: New technology, such as Mandarin voice recognition and search engines that can find information in several different languages, may help pave the way for more Chinese to take advantage of the commerce and entertainment on the Internet.

A decision on China's entry into the WTO is expected in the next few months. A decision on the country's entry into the Internet economy seems to be made already.

Marsha Walton, CNN.


HAYNES: Germany's persecution of Jews began after Adolf Hitler became the German chancellor in 1933. Hitler's Nazi regime set out to "purify" the human race by exterminating Jewish people and wiping out Jewish towns across Eastern Europe. As a result of the kristallnacht, or the "night of broken glass," many Jewish businesses and practically every synagogue and Jewish institution in Germany was destroyed. Afterwards, thousands of Jews were rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps, their possessions and wealth taken away. It's estimated more than 5 million Jews were killed during the Nazi persecution.

Siobhan Darrow has the story of one Holocaust survivor out to reclaim the wealth her family lost.


SIOBHAN DARROW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 61 years ago, Kristallnacht, setting the stage for the Holocaust, a Nazi rampage destroying Jewish property. It was dubbed "the night of broken glass."

DORRITT ST. JOHN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The hoards started to run on the streets, broke into the stores. As a child, I saw the guns, the machine guns, and pointing at you, and feeling the coldness of it against your neck.

DARROW: Dorritt St. John was 14 that night in Vienna. She managed to flee to the United States a few months later, but her family lost everything, including her father's clothing shops.

ST. JOHN: Specialty house for trench coats only.

DARROW: Now, decades later, she hopes to reclaim some of what was lost.

ST. JOHN: It's not the money, it is strictly the idea. You have to do something. You couldn't get away with it.

DARROW: The Nazis required every Jew in Vienna to fill out a form claiming all their assets.

ST. JOHN: There is Persian carpets, silver. DARROW: St. John's form also shows seven insurance policies.

FRANK KAPLAN, COUNSEL FOR CALIFORNIA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: We kept very good records. We even have records relating to insurance that was issued for concentration camps, insuring Auschwitz.

DARROW: Frank Kaplan represents the state of California in its efforts to help survivors recover their claims.

(on camera): More than 70 insurance companies licensed in California are branches of the European insurance giants accused of withholding information on Holocaust survivor claims.

(voice-over): California is threatening to revoke their licenses if they don't pay the claims.

CHUCK QUAKENBUSH, CALIFORNIA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: They're going to have to understand, though, that to continue to do business in California, they're going to have to comply with that California law, and that means full and complete disclosure.

DARROW: Allianz, one of the world's largest insurance companies, is on California's hit list. Allianz says it settled most of the claims before the war, and after the war participated in German restitution and reparation agreements.

They tell CNN: "Every justified claim has been and will continue to be acknowledged and paid. As an insurance company, trust remains the core of our business."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is joining the state of California in asking the insurance companies to turn over all the lists of policyholders. The center launched a new Web site posting all the names it could find in European government archives.

RABBI ABRAHAM COOPER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: If we can do it with no help, imagine how quickly we can move forward on this issue with a little cooperation.

DARROW: Time is one thing survivors have little of. Doritt St. John is in her 70s. Most others survivors are in their 80s.

Siobhan Darrow, CNN, Los Angeles.


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

HAYNES: Well, there aren't many personalities bigger than former basketball player Michael Jordan. During his 13-year career, Jordan was able to parlay his fame as a basketball player into millions of dollars in endorsement deals.

Jordan, as you know, retired from playing pro hoops, but now he's back, this time wearing a business suit instead of a jersey. He bought a partial stake in the Washington Wizards basketball team.


M. JORDAN: I'm looking forward to this opportunity. Yes, it's different, yes, I don't get to play, I don't get to wear the Wizards uniform. But quite naturally, hopefully I can influence the players that's going to be wearing those uniforms. I have an attitude about the way I play, I have an attitude about the way I win, and my job and my responsibility with this organization is to see if I can pass that on to the players in those uniforms.


HAYNES: So will Jordan's wizardry work in Washington, and on the city's struggling NBA team?

Kate Snow checks it out.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could the most powerful man in the world be losing the limelight to his sometime golfing partner?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is correct. The House is not in order.

SNOW: The nation's capital is shifting its attention from votes and vetoes to jump shots and rebounds. At a trendy restaurant in Georgetown, where Michael Jordan's been spotted when he's in town, the lunch crowd is eager to talk basketball and Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of spirit and energy about winning, and Washington being the capital of the leading country in the world, we want to have all of our sports teams to be just like that.

SNOW: And it's not just about helping the losing Washington Wizards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He tends to grab people, and he pulls them in to what's important. He just seems to bring life to places. He definitely did in Chicago.

SNOW: On a whirlwind visit to D.C. last year, Jordan won points talking to students in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods after announcing a new grant to help teachers. Some wonder if Jordan will make that kind of community support a habit in Washington.

(on camera): Or maybe he'll find other ways to wield influence in the halls of the nation's capital. While Michael Jordan's never shown any interest in playing the political game himself, it's a fair bet politicians will be interested in him.

SALLY QUINN, AUTHOR: They would to sort of have their arms draped around Michael Jordan because he's a big star, and they want to take advantage of that star power. But it's still not the ultimate power, which is the political power of Washington.

SNOW: According to Quinn, a noted Washington hostess, Michael Jordan will never have the stature of a Ted Kennedy or a Madeleine Albright inside the Beltway. Still, "The Washington Post"'s social columnist pledges to follow MJ's every move.

LLOYD GROVE, "WASHINGTON POST" COLUMNIST: He will be the most coveted Washington party guest, much more than the Clintons. And there will be no Michael Jordan fatigue.

SNOW: Unless, of course, Jordan can't save the Wizards. In that case, Jordan may discover what the president already knows: Washington can be a fickle town.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Sportsman of the Century in "Sports Illustrated" magazine.

BAKHTIAR: Well, if anyone can pull the Wizards out, he can.

HAYNES: I know. You know, I saw him play, actually, right here in Atlanta at a celebrity golf tournament.


HAYNES: God, he's tall. And he can play golf, too.


HAYNES: Anyway, enough about that.

BAKHTIAR: He can do it all.

And that does if for us here.

HAYNES: We will see you tomorrow, guys. Take care, and have a great day in classes around the world. Take care.



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