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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 7, 2000

Aired February 7, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM unveils a brand new week. Glad you could join us. I'm Andy Jordan.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's a look at today's lineup:

In today's top story, it's a first for a first lady. Hillary Rodham Clinton officially announces her Senate candidacy in New York.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: Now I know, it's not always going to be an easy campaign, but, hey, this is New York.


JORDAN: From the state of New York to the state of the world: Today's "Environment Desk" presents a progress report on Earth.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN ENVIRONMENTAL CORRESPONDENT: Forests are shrinking, species are vanishing, glaciers are melting. There's a lot of discouraging news in this year's State of the World Report.


BAKHTIAR: Then in "Worldview," the myths and realities surrounding water. We'll dive in head first to sort out the facts.


WILLIAM COSGROVE, WORLD WATER COUNCIL: Up until a couple of hundred years ago, we were hardly using but a small fraction of the Earth's water. Today, we're using more than half of it and polluting more than that, even. And the result is that we're reaching a dangerous point that's not sustainable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JORDAN: Finally, in "Chronicle," we kick off our series for Black History Month. Today, a look at the debate over African- centered education.


IMANI HUMPHREY, FOUNDER, AISHA SCHULE ACADEMY: That's what African-centered education is. It provides a window from which a worldview is presented.

BILL JOHNSON, NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST: I think Afrocentric education substitutes one form of racial discrimination and bias, like white supremacy, for another, which is Afrocentrism.


JORDAN: Topping today's news, a move reminiscent of the activism of former U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. However, Hillary Rodham Clinton is going where no U.S. first lady has gone: on the campaign trail. She's making official her bid for the U.S. Senate seat from New York. Born in Illinois, educated in New England and having lived most of her adult life in Arkansas and Washington, the first lady will have her job cut out for her as she faces a formidable opponent who is a New York native.

Fighting off criticism of her outsider status, Mrs. Clinton is pointing to her past in public service.

Frank Buckley has a look at the first official day of the "Clinton for Senate" campaign.


H. CLINTON: I am honored today to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate from New York.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the formal announcement of a campaign that began last summer -- Hillary Rodham Clinton appearing before 2,000 supporters in a gymnasium at Purchase College in Westchester County, New York, the first lady declaring that as a U.S. senator she would, as she put it, "fight her heart out for New Yorkers."

H. CLINTON: We can strengthen our families, we can protect our children, we can improve our schools, we can provide health care to all our citizens, and we can bring good jobs to every corner of New York.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton was accompanied by her husband, President Clinton, and daughter Chelsea. The president smiled and applauded but did not speak to the audience, except during an 18-minute video presentation leading up to her announcement.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you're in the Senate, you need to be able to bring people together and kind of lift them up, and she's very, very good at that.


BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton outlined an agenda, including more support for public education, increased economic development and improved health care. She also appealed to the center, calling herself a "new Democrat."

H. CLINTON: I support a balanced budget and more investment in education, welfare reform and better child care for working parents.

BUCKLEY: Looking out at a bank of cameras and a crowd that rivaled any presidential campaign announcement, Mrs. Clinton looked forward to the coming campaign.

H. CLINTON: Now I know it's not always going to be an easy campaign, but, hey, this is New York.

BUCKLEY (on camera): And Mrs. Clinton's presumed opponent in the race, New York City's Republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is a lifelong New Yorker, something his campaign plans to remind voters of at every turn, to which Mrs. Clinton told voters gathered here today, I may be new to your neighborhood, but I'm not new to your concerns.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Purchase, New York.


BAKHTIAR: "In the Headlines" today, Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin says his country has seized control of Chechnya's capital, Grozny, and is declaring victory over the breakaway republic. The conflict between the two dates back several hundred years, the last decade of which has been especially tumultuous. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechnya declared its independence. Since then, fighting has persisted.

Matthew Chance reports now on this latest declaration.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian forces have been tightening their grip on the Chechen capital, moving across this devastated city house to house in a search for scattered rebel fighters.

Now the acting Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says Grozny is firmly under Russian control.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, ACTING RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We recently took the last nest of terrorist opposition in Grozny. The Russian flag is flying from an administrative building there, so I can say that the operation to liberate Grozny has been completed.

CHANCE: But there are still civilians in the city, many old and weak who have been hiding in bunkers and cellars for months, seeking shelter from Russian bombs. The human cost has been high. It's clear that this advance represents a symbolic victory for Moscow while dealing a powerful blow to the rebel leadership.

As fighting continues in towns and villages outside Grozny, hospitals in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia are reporting a renewed flow of injured civilians from the war zone.

(on camera): Five years ago, Russian forces pushed out Chechen rebels from Grozny only to see them return in force. The city may have returned to Russian control, but there's every danger this new phase in the Chechen conflict may again be marked by a long and bitter guerrilla war.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


JORDAN: Well, every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more entire species of animal or plant life. This is a rate of extinction that has not occurred in 65 million years. In this new millennium, it's a good time to sit back and take stock of just where the world is headed. Time for a report card on people and their environmental impact.

Natalie Pawelski provides this look in our "Environment Desk" today.


PAWELSKI (voice-over): Forests are shrinking, species are vanishing, glaciers are melting. There's a lot of discouraging news in this year's State of the World Report from the Worldwatch Institute.

LESTER BROWN, PRESIDENT, WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE: Population growth and global warming climate change are two of the most threatening trends in the world today because they threaten political stability, economic progress and because they're also difficult to deal with.

PAWELSKI: Another problem: water. The report says underground aquifers in many parts of the world are being over-pumped, leaving water tables dangerously low. That can lead to farming problems and food shortages. Worldwatch says 1.2 billion people are already undernourished and underweight.

There is some good news in this year's State of the World Report. International agreements continue to cut the number of whales killed each year. The emission of CFCs, chemicals that damage the Earth's protective ozone layer, has drooped 87 percent since 1988. And over the past 20 years, even though oil shipments have almost doubled, the volume of oil spilled into the ocean has dropped by 60 percent.

BROWN: Some trends we've got turned around at the global level, but other trends, most of the basic environmental trends, like what's happening with fisheries or forests or climate, are headed in the wrong direction; we haven't turned them around yet. I think we can.

PAWELSKI: The Worldwatch Institute has been putting out annual State of the World Reports for 17 years. It sold more than one million copies, and many environmentalists regard the book as an important progress report. Others say it's just too pessimistic.

FRED SMITH, PRESIDENT, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: We're producing more food, we're producing more energy, we're producing a better life for more peoples of the world. We're reducing hunger, we're reducing disease. In all those areas, things are getting better.

PAWELSKI: But Worldwatch says humanity needs to make big changes, including switching to cleaner energy sources, proving better access to contraception, and creating tax codes that reflect the environmental costs of fossil fuel use, an ambitious agenda for a complicated world.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


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

JORDAN: Well, our environmental report card continues in "Worldview." We'll span the globe to examine an issue of worldwide concern: the condition of our water supply. We take you straight to the source in this special look.

You already know that water is a critical resource to human survival, but did you know that water consumption is rising twice as fast as the world's population? Humanity now uses more than half of the available surface fresh water on Earth, and at least 300 million people live in regions that already have severe water shortages. As our global population increases, the challenge of finding pure drinking water will continue to grow.

Siobhan Darrow takes us around the world for an in-depth look at water.


SIOBHAN DARROW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Water, it's the very essence of life, as basic as the air we breath. It falls freely from the skies, laps against our shores. It is the most common substance on Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface. It makes up most of what living things are. Our own bodies are two-thirds water.

In Las Vegas, a city in the desert, water fountains dance to lure in potential gamblers. But the abundance of water is an illusion. Only a tiny fraction of the planet's water is drinkable; 97 percent is sea water, which is expensive and difficult to desalinate; two percent is caught in polar ice caps; that leaves one percent to sustain life in the next millennium. Already, 26 countries are classified as water-stressed, meaning they don't have enough water to support agriculture and economic development.

SANDRA POSTEL, AUTHOR/WATER ANALYST: Looking out to 2025, the number of people living in water-stressed countries will increase six- and-a-half times.

DARROW: Much of the world relies on natural, underground storage tanks called aquifers. We're rapidly using up those reserves, digging ever deeper wells like these in Northern Syria, lowering water tables at an alarming rate in every continent.

Chinese leaders are even considering moving the capital from Beijing because of chronic shortages.

COSGROVE: Up until a couple of hundred years ago, we were hardly using but a small fraction of the Earth's water. Today, we are using more than half of it, and polluting more than that even, and the result is that we're reaching a dangerous point that's not sustainable.

DARROW: More than half of the major rivers are going dry or are polluted, endangering the health and livelihood of those who depend on them.

In 1998, 25 million people fled their homes because of water crises in river basins, a higher number than refugees of war. By 2025, environmental refugees could quadruple.

RICHARD JOLLY, U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: In developing countries, about a quarter of the population don't have access to clean water. That's 1.3 billion people.

DARROW: More than twice that number, almost 3 billion people, don't have decent sanitation, causing millions of deaths each year. A child dies every eight seconds from drinking contaminated water.

This is the Ganges in India. Hindus consider the river sacred. People use the Ganges to bathe themselves, to launder their clothes, even to bury their dead, sure that the river's holiness will protect them from typhoid, cholera and diarrhea. But it doesn't.

In China, the Yellow River was once the cradle of their civilization, nurturing China's northern plains; 3,600 miles long, it was known throughout history as China's sorrow for it's tendency to flood. Now it is causing distress for the opposite reason: It is running dry.

ELIZABETH ECONOMY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Industry has expanded, agriculture has expanded and the population has boomed, but there has been no thought given to how to manage the resources of the Yellow River.

DARROW: And grandiose plans are in the works to rearrange another river: the Yangtze. China is in the process of building the world's largest dam, a controversial project expected to displace more than a million people and radically change the ecosystem for the entire region. One needs only to look next door to the former Soviet Union to see the potential damage such solutions can cause. The Aral Sea in the former Soviet Central Asia may provide a nightmarish glimpse of ecological disaster of the future.

When Soviet central planners decided to grow cotton in the desert, they diverted water from the rivers flowing into the Aral Sea to irrigate the fields. The sea has since shrunk to two-thirds of it's size. Ships lie in the sandy graveyard that once was water.

The old port town of Muynak is now 30 miles from the coast of the dying sea. Children suffer respiratory diseases, the cows are sick, the native fish are all gone. Salt and toxic dust choke everything in their wake.

POSTEL: It's one of the examples that really shows the close connection between the health of an aquatic ecosystem and the health of the whole economy and the community and the people that depend on that ecosystem.

DARROW: It's not only communist central planners, but capitalists as well who meddle with the flow of rivers. In the United States, the Colorado River is ranked as one of the world's most stressed and over-committed rivers. Dams harness its mighty waters, and in dry years not a single drop of the Colorado reaches the sea.

(on camera): It took nearly 5,000 workers four-and-a-half years working 24-hour-a-day shifts to build the Hoover Dam in the 1930s; 96 died during the construction of what was, in its day, the world's largest dam.

(voice-over): It helps control the Colorado, whose waters are divvied up between seven states and Mexico.

(on camera): Hoover Dam was built to bring electricity to a vast area and water to the arid western United States. Like the world's other enormous dams, it is an engineering wonder of our age, some say rivaling the pyramids. But in the future, as the disruption to the environment becomes more fully understood, experts studying water supply say it could stand as a testament to the folly of man's quest to tame nature.

(voice-over): Water from the Colorado transformed the desert into productive farmland.

JESSE SILVA, IMPERIAL IRRIGATION DISTRICT: You fly over the mountains and you see this half-a-million acres of different shades of green.

The annual value of the crops and the beef production, sheep production is about a billion dollars annually.

DARROW: The Colorado is the life blood of the burgeoning American Southwest, filling swimming pools and keeping Los Vegas's 48 golf courses lush. Ever-thirsty Southern California uses 14 percent more water than its allotment. Little water is left to flow downstream and nourish the Colorado delta in Mexico, turning a once- vibrant ecosystem into a parched and salty marsh.

BILL SNAPE, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE: Our dollars would be better spent rejuvenating the delta as opposed to growing more lettuce in the hot desert.

DARROW: Not only delta wildlife is at risk, but an Indian tribe that has depended on the river for centuries is on the brink of extinction.

"For us, this river is life," says a Cocopah chief, "because the life, the soul is what we call the river."

Perhaps nowhere in the world is the strain of sharing water more acute than in the Middle East, where the shortage adds to tensions between nations. Some political leaders have warned disputes over water could eventually lead to war. But it's been a long time since that's happened.

AARON WOLFE, WATER RIGHTS EXPERT: If you look in history for the last water war, you have to go back 4,500 years. The only water war in history was between the city states of Lagash and Umma over irrigation rights on the Tigris River.

DARROW: Today, the Tigris and Euphrates are again a source of potential conflict. Turkey's $32 billion dam and irrigation project will mean less water to downstream neighbors, such as Syria and Iraq, who claim the project will rob them of water they need.

But there are hopeful signs between once-bitter enemies in the region. Jordan and Israel included a water agreement in their peace treaty.

MARY MORRIS, MIDDLE EAST CONSULTANT: It's the first real treaty in the region that deals with water. Instead of treating each other as adversaries, they have begun to come together.

DARROW: Instead of stirring conflict...

MORRIS: The scarcity can be a catalyst for a miracle in the Middle East.

DARROW: ... perhaps ushering in an era of cooperation.

Siobhan Darrow, CNN, reporting.


JORDAN: More on water next week on NEWSROOM "Worldview." We'll visit farmers around the world to find out how they turn trickles into triumph. Find out how irrigation is part invention, part inspiration in a water-challenged world.

BAKHTIAR: February is Black History Month in the United States. Over the next four Mondays, we'll be looking at issues and ideas of importance especially to African Americans, but also to Americans of all racial backgrounds. Today, our first story: Imagine if you celebrated black history every day of the year. That's what it's like for students at African-centered schools. It's an educational movement that started on college campuses in the 1960s and '70s. Today, it's spreading into elementary schools and even high schools.

As our Joel Hochmuth reports, not everyone is pleased.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are few pretty pictures in parts of Detroit. Many of its neighborhoods have a long reputation for crime and poverty, but it was this environment that helped shape a movement.

This is Aisha Shule Academy, the oldest African-centered school in the country. Home to about 200 students in grades K-12, it's been a private school for most of its 25-year history. The education here is anything but mainstream.

TERIAN MORROW, STUDENT, AGE 17: They're always like, Oh, you go to that African school; you wear those funny clothes; Oh, you dance. What kind of school is that that you go to? They think it's strange.

ANTHONY MCCANTS, STUDENT, AGE 17: Before I started, I didn't know -- I was like, African-centered schools, oh, man, everybody's has yashikis (ph) on all day, just talking African. I won't be able to understand. And so I got here and was like -- it's just like out there. It's like no kid here is different.

HOCHMUTH: The African-centered or Afrocentric approach is obvious here. In every subject, the contributions of Africans and African Americans are stressed.

HUMPHREY: Over 4,300 years ago, Pahahoetep (ph), a royal scribe in Kimmet (ph) wrote what is the oldest surviving book in the world.

American history textbooks have relegated the African experience in America to slavery. Before the '70s, they seldom even indicated that there was a prior culture and history to African life before they were brought here.

CATON JONES, STUDENT: In order to understand yourself, no matter what culture, you have to have a sense of history and a sense of self, and that helps you form your own personality and identity.

HOCHMUTH: But much of what is taught here is controversial, especially in history class. Among other things, Afrocentrists teach that Africa was the birthplace of all civilization and that black Africans built the pyramids and provided much of the inspiration for ancient Greek scholars.

HUMPHREY: Africa is actually the center of everything, and the longer we live and the more "scientific," quote, we become, the more concrete the evidence is that not only the evolution of humanity came out of Africa, but also the civilizations of Africa are the antecedents to all other civilizations. JOHNSON: Well, it's popular thought, I mean, among Afrocentrists and black nationalists, but there's no factual basis for that, and I defy any Black nationalist or Afrocentrists to show a factual basis, make a factual connection, and they can't.

HOCHMUTH: Bill Johnson is a columnist with the "Detroit News" and an outspoken critic of African-centered education. He's afraid it replaces one form of racism with another.

JOHNSON: It teaches that black people are superior to other people in the world. It teaches that all of wisdom and all of knowledge and all life originated in Africa, and therefore Africans are better than other people, and that's absolutely not true.

HUMPHREY: That is not what we're saying. We're saying that the foundation of all the world's civilizations is African, just as genetically we are all Africans, I mean cousins or sometimes many times removed or something. Africa is the great-grandmother of civilization, and some people deny their grandmother.

HOCHMUTH (on camera): Historically, the African-centered approach to education has been limited largely to private schools, but that's changing. Public schools from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Seattle are experimenting with it. Still, the largest network of public African-centered schools is here in Detroit.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: In the name of Malcolm X, in the name of El Hashi (ph), Maliq El Shabazz (ph), we say harambi (ph).

HOCHMUTH (voice-over): Malcolm X Academy is one of 16 public schools of choice in the city with a strictly African-centered approach. Some so-called Afrocentrists have tried to make the curriculum mandatory throughout the district.

Kwame Kenyatta is a former school board member. He's convinced African American students in particular do better in African-centered schools.

KWAME KENYATTA, FORMER MEMBER, DETROIT, BOARD OF EDUCATION: If they come to school and they look in the books and all they see is George Washington, they see that history started in Greece somewhere, which it didn't. But if that's all they see, that Columbus discovered something that he didn't -- and if that's all they see, they never see themselves in the process, then there's no room for them to be inspired. So we think that this has been a necessary ingredient that inspires these students and helps them work.

HOCHMUTH: Test scores in most subject areas are higher here than typical Detroit public schools, but critics say that has little to do with the curriculum.

JOHNSON: The real secret to effective schools and effective learning is the participation of the parents. And some of these Afrocentric schools, they require the participation of the parents, and they may do better than other schools. But they only do better because the parents participate, not because of the content of the learning process that takes place in those schools.

HOCHMUTH: Still, supporters point to the long waiting lists at schools like this as proof African-centered education is gaining popularity.

KENYATTA: Parents want the best for their children. And when they identify academies like this that's producing the outcome that we're producing here, they want to make sure that they're part of that process.

JOHNSON: People are dissatisfied with the quality of education in the public school system so they're seeking an alternative. It's not that Afrocentrism is gaining in popularity in the city.

HOCHMUTH: Would Johnson send his own kids to a school like this?

JOHNSON: Absolutely not. If you went to Japan, you would have to acculturate -- become acculturated in the ways of Japanese. We have a responsibility to our kids to prepare our kids to compete against other kids in this society in America if we expect them to be successful. Afrocentrism won't get them that.

HOCHMUTH: Despite such criticisms, students at African-centered schools like Aisha Shule Academy seem sold on their education.

MALIKAH SHABAZZ, STUDENT, AGE 15: A lot of people criticize things they don't know about. A lot of people say, Oh, African- centered school, that's a bunch of African boogely googely (ph). But if you don't know about it, that's a chance for me to teach them, well, this has to do with you too. So I don't take it as a wrong way because, you know, that's a lot of negative energy and it's not good for you.

HOCHMUTH: Still, it remains to be seen whether Afrocentrism will make the leap from the sidelines of education to the mainstream.

JOHNSON: Africa may be part of some of our history, but certainly I don't think it ought to be part of our future.

HUMPHREY: It's about us looking out at the world through that window that gives us a perspective from where we stand and it's not -- we have been taught to look out of other people's eyes, but we have to learn to look out at the world with African eyes. There's a difference.


BAKHTIAR: Very interesting concept for education.

JORDAN: Yes, absolutely. And, of course, that's just the first in four-part series this Black History Month in the United States.

BAKHTIAR: And that'll do it for us here. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

JORDAN: We'll see you. BAKHTIAR: Bye.


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