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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 27, 2000

Aired March 27, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We are ready for a new week. Hope you had a good couple of days off. I'm Tom Haynes.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott.

Today is Monday, March 27th, and here is what's coming up.

HAYNES: In today's news, a new era in Russian politics, as the once-communist country elects a new president.

WALCOTT: The "Environment Desk" focuses on recycling. How are people feeling about this "feel good" thing to do?


CYNTHIA COBB, PLANET PROJECT: They feel very strongly about recycling, but it is not very convenient.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," the phrase "man's best friend" takes on a whole new meaning.


RANDALL TOBEY, HEAVENLY SKI PATROL: With proper training, they can smell a victim almost up to 15 feet, 20 feet underneath the snow.


WALCOTT: Then, in "Chronicle," representation in religion: Will the Catholic Church take that into consideration when it names its next saint?


THOMAS BUFFINGTON, PARISHONER: American saints, American blacks, are people from our own communities. It's important to see those as models and symbols of the church.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HAYNES: Today's top story focuses on Russia's presidential election. Acting President Vladimir Putin has won the country's second Democratic election. Putin became acting president when Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly stepped down on December 31st, 1999. A former KGB officer, Putin has come from virtually nowhere to become Russia's most popular politician in just a few months.


(voice-over): Russia was once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The U.S.S.R. broke up in December, 1991. Boris Yeltsin was the first democratically elected leader in Russian history. He tried to transform the country's failing economy into one based on free markets and private enterprise. But Mr. Yeltsin's plan hasn't been successful. Russia's economy is in ruins, market reforms have been mismanaged, and corruption and crime have flourished.

Early in Sunday's voting, it looked like Vladimir Putin was falling well short of his campaign's hopes for a huge victory. A big win would give him a strong mandate for his call to impose strong government at home and to revive Russia as a global power.

For a closer look at the Russian elections, we turn to Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty.


JILL DOUGHERTY, MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Putin election headquarters had an air of relaxed anticipation. Senior officials, some of them in sweaters, chatting up reporters. As TV news broadcast the latest figures, out of sight of cameras, pollsters and aides to the acting president monitored the voting.

The campaign chairman admitted the pressure was on.

DMITRI MDEVEDEV, PUTIN CAMPAIGN (through translator): Of course we're nervous, but our nerves aren't any worse than what's normal for an election night.

DOUGHERTY: Putin dropped by campaign headquarters before even a third of the vote was tallied. He said it made no difference to him whether he won in the first round or a run-off, yet Putin campaign staff said they were surprised by the strong showing for Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov.

Putin himself said he took it as a lesson.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF RUSSIA (through translator): It's important that average people feel they're getting something out of the government's policy. If that's the case, then we won't have to fight against the Communist Party.

DOUGHERTY: The Communist Party was able to consolidate the opposition vote. So says one observer who also believes Vladimir Putin's refusal to campaign might have hurt him. MICHAEL MCFAUL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: Vladimir Putin actually peaked in mid-January, and he's been on a steady decline ever since. He should be very thankful that this election happened at the end of March instead of in June. If it would have been in June, he would have had a real problem.

DOUGHERTY: The 47-year-old former KGB spy, who had never run for any office before, sounded almost surprised to have made it this far.

PUTIN (through translator): Even in my worst nightmare, I never dreamed I'd take part in elections. Campaigning is a completely unconscionable business. You're always having to make promises.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): Vladimir Putin was elected in spite of having made very few promises. But that hasn't stopped some Russians from having great expectations. As president, Putin will have to explain how he plans to meet those expectations. And no one, including Vladimir Putin himself, expects that will be easy.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.


HAYNES: And through all this, the United States kept a close eye on the Russian election and is welcoming the success of Vladimir Putin. But Washington also has some reservations, as Kate Snow reports.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The defining image of Vladimir Putin is that he is so undefined. The former KGB agent is a self-described nationalist, who favors a strong state but also believes in the free market.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He's obviously a very complicated man who has several strands to his background, but as we see him now he is being very pragmatic. He is dealing with Russia's problems, and we're going to have to watch his actions very closely and carefully.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: President Clinton has been very aggressive in trying to say nice things about Mr. Putin and so has Tony Blair of Britain. We will have to wait and see, but it is a relationship that we need to keep moving in a positive direction.

SNOW: The U.S. will be watching for concrete signs of reform.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: He's indifferent to democracy, he's not a dictator in the waiting, but he's also not somebody who is committed to democratic reforms. That's where the question marks, I think, lie in the future.

SNOW: Another priority for the administration: Chechnya. U.S. officials have criticized Russia's use of military force in that region. Chechnya and last year's conflict in Kosovo strained relations between Russia and the U.S. But progress on arms control could repair some of the damage. The Duma, Russia's parliament is expected to ratify the seven-year-old START II arms reduction treaty, and Russia appears ready to make even more cuts in its arsenal if the U.S. agrees.

But one major sore spot, if President Clinton decides to create a national missile defense system, the administration would ask Russia to amend the long-standing Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Moscow is strongly opposed to any such change.

(on camera): The next step, a face-to-face meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Clinton. White House officials say there are no firm plans, but they expect the president to travel to Moscow some time in the next several months.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: And we're also covering another important story in today's news. That's the meeting between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Syrian President Hafez Assad. In Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, Mr. Clinton had hoped to rekindle the dialogue for Middle-East peace.

But John King tells us the president headed home disappointed.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It had been five and a half years since the two presidents sat down together, so just the fact they were meeting raised hopes that Israeli-Syrian peace talks might soon be back on track.

Syria's Hafez al-Assad is aging, ailing, and U.S. officials are cautiously optimistic he is ready to deal.

No questions, because no reporters were allowed in the room. But these Swiss TV pictures captured the U.S. president in an upbeat mood as the two delegations began their difficult business.

The issues are familiar, Syria demands all of the Golan Heights territory Israel seized in the 1967 War, and Assad wants an embrace from the West that translates into millions of dollars in economic aid. Israel wants detailed security arrangements in exchange for any Golan pullback, normalized diplomatic relations with Damascus, and guaranteed access to water from the Sea of Galilee.

So the question is not so much what an Israel-Syria peace deal would look like, but whether their leaders are ready to make it. And Assad's decision to come here raised hopes in Washington and Tel Aviv that the talks might resume within weeks.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We can facilitate and we can ask questions and we can try to make assessments, but the parties themselves have to make the hard decisions. KING: Mr. Clinton took a morning walk along Geneva's lakefront, then called Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak for one last update on his views. Israeli and Syrian negotiators met in the United States in January, but the talks quickly stalled and Barak faced criticism back home for agreeing to negotiate with Syria's foreign minister. U.S. officials say getting Assad to the table will help the Israeli leader.

(on camera): Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are back on, too, once again raising hopes that a comprehensive Middle East peace might finally be in sight, but there is no shortage of caution. One constant in this unpredictable process is a cycle of hope giving way to disappointment.

John King, CNN, Geneva.


HAYNES: You've grown up hearing a lot about recycling, that we need to recycle and re-use plastics and aluminums to help save our resources and our environment. There are lots of ways to recycle and lots of things to recycle, too. Here at CNN, our used notebook paper gets recycled, as does our old newspapers and even our show tapes, if you can believe it. Day by day, it can really add up. Every month, CNN Center recycles enough paper to fill up three tractor trailers. And over time the results keep on multiplying. For example, in one year, CNN Center recycles 234,295 pounds of paper. That's 117 tons, and that's 3,397 softwood trees saved.

As you can see, pitching in makes a big difference. In our "Environment Desk" today, we look at new recycling trends.

Natalie Pawelski has our report.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what recycling looked like in the '80s and '90s. But for the millennium, at least for some, sorting bins are history and recycling has gone hi- tech.

COBB: One of the things that consumers told us in our research is that they feel very strongly about recycling, but it's not very convenient.

PAWELSKI: Re-planet centers are supposed to be as easy to use as an ATM, except that you're making deposits into a recycling bank of sorts. You feed in cans, bottles and other recyclables. Inside, a camera scans the objects. A machine figures out what they're worth and spits out a receipt that can be redeemed for cash at the grocery store. The average customer gets a little over 10 bucks for a month's worth of recyclables.

Re-planet kiosks have been popping up in shopping center parking lots all over California. Sometimes, they offer customers an old- fashioned piece of customer-service technology: a live human. COBB: If they want to bring their goods while our recycling specialist is here during daytime hours, they're welcome to do that and have it manually processed. But if perhaps they're stopping when we're not manned, they are free to use our recycling machines which are fully automated.

PAWELSKI: Re-planet centers claim to have the world's fastest electronic recycling system that can sort 60 cans and bottles per minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can put aluminum and plastic mix?


PAWELSKI: For every 200,000 containers Re-planet recycles, the company plants a tree. The aim is to move beyond recycling used resources to add new ones to nature.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


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

WORLDVIEW goes to the dogs today -- literally. These animals are often called man's best friends. And we'll explore some of the ways canines help make our jobs and our lives easier and safer. Our journey takes us to Great Britain and the United States. We'll check out technology that helps keep our pets by our side and guarantees protection from rabies, too. And find out how dogs sniff out people in danger and track down drug dealers.

HAYNES: WORLDVIEW gets started in the underworld of the illicit drug trade. We head to Great Britain to see what authorities there are doing to tackle the problem. While young people in developing countries of the world are especially vulnerable, British authorities recognize that drug abuse is a problem in advanced nations as well. Not only are they targeting the users, they're trying to interrupt the supply process. They have their eyes set on the money-laundering business, where money spent on drugs is integrated into the legitimate economy.

To do that, they're utilizing a new customs agent that has a real nose for finding dirty money, as Allard Beutel explains.


ALLARD BEUTEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even after the deal is done, international drug smugglers can still be sniffed out. Their paper trail of money may attract the attention of Britain's latest crime-fighting weapon: Sandy, the money-sniffing dog. This labrador is part of a new unit of canine sleuth that customs officials hope can track down the illegal bounty from the drug trade.

The dogs are trained to pick up the scent of ink that's used to print money.

DAWN PRIMAROLO, BRITISH PAYMASTER GENERAL: Dealers make a huge amount of money from drug dealing, and they have to get the money back into the country. And there are many routes. But believe it or not, one of them is to physically carry it in. And so what Sandy's looking for is very large amounts of money, particular types of money, or money that we already suspect is drug money.

BEUTEL: Since last June, Sandy and another money-sniffing colleague have netted more than $800,000 dollars. Officials say they targeted specific flights from known drug producing countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

PRIMAROLO: Sandy doesn't operate on his own, he's operating within the customs strategy of tackling drugs. So we don't let him loose just amongst some bags because we're just going to search those bags, it's because we have a real belief that there is money being carried. And that's what he's looking for.

BEUTEL: The big-money, fast-paced lifestyle is quite a departure for these dogs. Each was a homeless stray before being transformed into a highly specialized crime fighter.

PAUL FARRELL, DOG HANDLER: Every day he gets his training just to keep him ticking over. He doesn't know where he's going to find the money or if he's going to find the money, but obviously on that occasion he did and he was rewarded. Now that's basically what we're doing. He's playing hide and seek. He's got his toy, so that gives him his motivation to keep on doing it. So next time, hopefully now when he searches, he'll think oh, my toy's going to be in one of those bags or that container. And that's the way -- that's how we keep him going.

BEUTEL: Officials are so pleased with the initial results, they're expanding the program to airports across the country, which means so long as there's drug money coming into Britain, this pooch will remain in dogmatic pursuit.

Allard Beutel, CNN NEWSROOM.


HAYNES: It seems canines are coming in handy in other parts of the world as well. This time we watch as dogs sniff not for money, but for humans. On snow-covered mountains around the world, rescuers depend on the good senses of dogs to save people trapped in avalanches.

Now an avalanche is a large mass of snow or rock that falls very quickly down the side of a mountain. Snow avalanches usually start when snow loses its grip on the side of a mountain. Spring rain or a sudden burst of warm weather, even a loud noise can make that happen. Avalanches can travel at speeds faster than 100 miles or 160 kilometers an hour. Is there hope if you're trapped beneath several feet of snow after an avalanche? Watch this next story and your answer might be yes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUD MERCER, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: This is a training course for avalanche dog teams that's been put on by the dog program at Squaw Valley. What we have set up here today is a mock situation where there's burials.

TOBEY: The statistics say that you have -- if you aren't killed in the original slide -- you may have 30 minutes.

JOSH BERTKEN, SUGAR BOWL SKI PATROL: If you don't recover the person with a hasty search, which is just a search over the surface area for any articles or the person's hand sticking up or something like that, you're basically in the dark, you know? And the next thing is dogs.

TOBEY: They got something that we don't -- a nose. And with proper training, they can smell a victim almost up to 15 feet, 20 feet underneath the snow.

MERCER: Try and keep your patterning tough and tight so that we see him search for a period before he gets to success at the end, OK? It's all yours.

BERTKEN: You start from the bottom, traversing up, and you want to work the dog side to side, getting the dog familiar with hand signals so you're not -- , you know, that's the only way that she knows that you want her to traverse the hill using her scent the whole way.

It's always a game. It's just like hide and seek.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Praise from the victim, always praise from the victim.

TOBEY: If he lives out his life and rescues just one person, he's worth everything, all the pain and trial and tribulation.

WALCOTT: Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows they require a lot of attention and care. You have to feed them, clean up after them and keep them healthy. That includes getting them vaccinated against rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. Once symptoms appear, it's almost always fatal. Contact with a rabid animal is how the disease is usually spread. So how can you prevent the spread of rabies? Get Fido and Fluffy vaccinated and keep them away from wild animals.

For decades, quarantining animals has been part of Britain's rabies prevention program. But scientific advances are prompting change in this controversial policy.

Nic Robertson has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These springer spaniels are about to change almost a century of a tradition that has helped keep rabies out of Britain. Microchips buried beneath their skin link rabies vaccinations and other health checks to their own unique identification number, meaning they will not have to go through six months of quarantine.

LADY MARY FRETWELL, DOG OWNER: The last time I was here in France I had my dear basset hound and we got on a boat. He was in a cage amongst the lorries. He was taken off to a quarantine kennel for six months and I felt I had absolutely abandoned him.

ROBERTSON: Since the turn of the century, animals traveling to Britain were forced into lengthy isolation while vets tested for rabies. The killer disease never made it to the British shores, and the government wanted to keep it that way.

Now that more effective vaccines are available, the government is taking a more humanitarian approach to rabies prevention.

BARONESS HELENE HAYMAN, BRITISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER: We have blood tests to make sure that those vaccinations have taken on the particular dog or cat. So I hope that we will achieve a great deal of happiness for a lot of pet owners and no diminishing in the protection for public health.

ROBERTSON: For pet-loving Britons, the new rules mean some freedom in taking their animals abroad.

(on camera): However, it is only valid for cats and dogs traveling from Western Europe and guide dogs coming from Australia and New Zealand. Pets arriving from America and other parts of the world will still be expected to spend six months in quarantine to prove they are rabies-free.

(voice-over): Even with new vaccines, government scientists say pets traveling outside Western Europe could still become infected with rabies. Allowing those pets in without quarantine is still too much of a risk.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Calais, France.


WALCOTT: 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 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. HAYNES: With the pope touring the Holy Land last week, the world has focused on Catholicism. One group, the two million African- American Catholics, say their contributions are being overlooked by the church.

Kathleen Koch reports on the push to get an African-American canonized a saint.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every Sunday at St. Augustine's, there is music, prayer and a feeling that something is missing. While Washington's oldest black Catholic church does have images of some of the church's 12 black saints, none is African- American.

BUFFINGTON: American saints, American blacks, people from our own communities, it's important to see those as models and symbols of the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that says yes, this is my church, this is my home.

KOCH: Pope John Paul II has pushed to elevate more contemporary role models to sainthood. The most likely candidate to become the first black American saint is Pierre Toussaint. Born a slave in 1766, he used his earnings as a New York hairdresser to support his master's widow, establish an orphanage and help the church.

MSGR. RUSSELL DILLARD, ST. AUGUSTIN ROMAN CHURCH: They also saw and heard about the wonderful things he did for the poor, for black children in the streets, for his charitable giving to all kinds of organizations, even organizations that did not allow African-American people to be a part of them.

KOCH: From a church in Lower Manhattan, Toussaint's body was reentered under the high altar at St. Patrick's cathedral.

Less well-known is Mother Mary Lange. A refugee from the Caribbean, she established the country's first black convent in Baltimore in 1829. Though the city erected a plaque on the site last month, initially the order got a chilly reception.

SISTER VIRGINIA FISH, OBLATE SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE COMMUNITY: This political group attempted to run us out of the city. We needed protection. People sat in the parlor, a priest and a man sat in the parlor, to protect the sisters.

KOCH: Theologians say the lack of African-American saints is no surprise.

PROF. CHESTER GILLIS, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: There was racism in the American Catholic Church, clearly, for much of its history.

KOCH: Black American Catholics are now hoping for a saint of their own and a fresh start. Kathleen Koch for CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Recently we told you about the Iditarod sled dog race. Each year, the Iditarod sends teams of man and beast trekking more than a thousand snowy miles across Alaska. But the Iditarod isn't the only game in town. The Yukon Quest attracts racers from around the world, and this year's winner is attracting some attention of her own.

Denise Dillon has her story.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Ally Zirkle and her team of dogs raced toward the finish line of the Yukon Quest dog sled race, she raced into the history books. The 30-year-old Alaska woman is the first woman ever to win the Yukon Quest, which is considered to be the world's toughest race of its kind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To have a woman win the quest for the first time, I think it's absolutely fantastic. It's about time.

DILLON: This is the 17th year of the race. It starts in Fairbanks, Alaska and ends 1,000 miles away in Whitehorse, Yukon. Mushers follow a trail over mountains and river flats. They run on hard packed snow, rough gravel, frozen rivers and icy open water.

After close to 11 days, Zirkle knew she was getting close to the finish line but could not let up. Thomas Tetz (ph), the man in second place, was on her heels.

ALLY ZIRKLE, WINNER: I have to say, I was thinking about it the whole way here. I kind of happened to look over my shoulder once or twice for Thomas but never saw him.

DILLON: Zirkle has been running dogs for seven years. Her family was there to support her all the way.

MICKEY ZIRKLE, MOTHER: Wonderful -- I'm excited, I'm proud, and I knew she could do it.

DOUG ZIRKLE, FATHER: she's demonstrated a lot of her capabilities and really what people can do when they set their mind to doing something.

DILLON: Zirkle downplays the significance of being the first woman to win the race and focused more on taking care of her dogs.

Denise Dillon, CNN.

HAYNES: And we leave you with blossoms blooming across the U.S. capital.

WALCOTT: That's right. Sunday kicked off the national Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. It's a springtime tradition commemorating a gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to the U.S. by Japan more than 80 years ago.

HAYNES: The two-week festival highlighting Japanese culture includes dance, music and martial arts exhibitions, all leading up to the grand finale: a parade.

WALCOTT: And that leads us to our grand finale.

HAYNES: We'll see you tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.



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