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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 31, 2000

Aired March 31, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CNN ANCHOR: And we're wrapping up the week here on NEWSROOM.

Welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott.

ANDY JORDAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Andy Jordan. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with the story of Elian Gonzalez.

Months after he was rescued off the coast of Florida, his fate still hangs in the balance.

WALCOTT: In our top story, a custody dispute that's been waged in the international arena for months takes on new urgency.

JORDAN: In "Editor's Desk," the latest Internet venture breaks the sound barrier.


MARK GOODMAN, SOUNDBREAK.COM: The cool thing about it is not only are we making up the rules as we go along, we're breaking them.


WALCOTT: Then in "Worldview," the changing face of China's film industry.


ZHANG YUAN, DIRECTOR (through translator): In China these days, everything is changing. Government policies are changing, officials are changing, and they adhere more closely to the laws.


JORDAN: And in "Chronicle," it's degrading, humiliating, dangerous -- sometimes even deadly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIZZIE MURTIE, HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: I wasn't sure what it was, but they had told us that night that it was a hazing and that we shouldn't tell anybody about it.


JORDAN: In today's news, the continuing saga of a family feud played out on a stage set by the divisive history of two rival nations. At the center of the fight is a boy named Elian Gonzalez.

The United States government is postponing any further action on his immigration status until Tuesday. That will allow time to see if his father will come from Cuba to retrieve him, an idea the U.S. Justice Department supports.

Elian has been in the custody of relatives in Miami, Florida, for four months, ever since his boat capsized in the sea off Florida. His mother died in the attempt to leave Cuba for the United States. Now his Cuban father wants him back, his relatives in Miami want him to stay.

Elian's fate has put Washington, D.C., in the middle of a tug of war, pitting forces in Miami against those in Havana.

Our coverage takes us to both fronts. We begin with Mark Potter, who brings us up to date on the legal and diplomatic status of Elian.


MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lawyers for Elian Gonzalez and his Miami relatives came to the U.S. attorney's office for another day of negotiations with government officials, but after nearly eight hours of negotiations there was still no agreement except to resume talks Monday morning. And the INS decision to revoke Elian's permission to stay in the U.S. will be delayed until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

JOSE GARCIA-PEDROSA, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: The government has agreed that between now and Tuesday morning at 9:00 they will not attempt to take Elian away.

POTTER: Sources say there are two main issues in the negotiations, the U.S. is insisting on the right to transfer Elian to the custody of his father if he comes to the U.S. It is also pushing for assurances that if the Miami relatives lose their federal court appeals they will allow Elian to be sent back to Cuba.

ROBERT WALLIS, INS DISTRICT DIRECTOR: We continue to urge the community to recognize the importance of the bond between parent and child.

POTTER: In a dramatic development in Washington, attorney Gregory Craig announced that he was seeking visas for Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez.

GREGORY CRAIG, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S FATHER: Mr. Gonzalez is willing to bring his family to the United States and to remain here during whatever time it takes to complete the appeals process. For that to happen, however, he must have assurances that he will have custody of Elian during that time.

POTTER: In her weekly news briefing, Attorney General Janet Reno said the government does not want the family to drag out the case.

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: That we give them their day in court and the right to an appeal, and that there be an assurance that having done that this matter can be resolved.

POTTER (on camera): Now that it is clear that Elian's father wants to come to the United States the government is under pressure to act. The Justice Department has always said the boy belongs with his father.

Mark Potter, CNN, Miami.


WALCOTT: U.S. Vice President Al Gore is breaking ranks with his administration on the Elian Gonzalez case. He's calling on Congress to pass a law that would grant permanent resident status to Elian and his father. Gore's likely Republican presidential rival. Governor George W. Bush, says he supports similar legislation.

Meantime, in Havana, many Cubans say it's about time Elian's father goes to the United States to get his son.

Lucia Newman has this report.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Among ordinary Cubans, the reaction to the news of Juan Manuel Gonzalez's impending trip to the United States was nearly unanimous.

"It's what he should have done long ago," says this woman.

"It was about time," says this man. "As a father I would have gone from the very first moment."

Why didn't he? According to the Cuban government's point man on the dispute, Ricardo Alarcon, it's because it wasn't until now that Gonzalez had a real chance of regaining custody of his son. Mr. Alarcon, considered Cuba's expert on U.S.-Cuban relations, is one of 30 people who would be accompanying Elian's father to the United States, an entourage which also includes his wife and 6-month-old son, as well as Elian's school teacher and half his classmates.

Even Elian's classroom desk could be transferred to Washington, where Cuba proposes that the Gonzalez family, reunited at last, wait out the outcome of the federal court appeal lodged by the boy's Miami relatives.

Elian's father was reportedly desperate, feeling he was slowly winning the legal battle, but losing the boy, who Gonzalez believes with each passing day is becoming estranged from his family and his roots. President Fidel Castro says this is the way to begin the boy's readaptation process.

FIDEL CASTRO, PRESIDENT OF CUBA (through translator): Let's see what they say now if they accept these conditions in which the boy's rights will be recognized along with the possibility of being reunited with those who saw him grow up, who educated him.

NEWMAN: Havana is attempting to call the exile community's bluff by promoting a trip they predicted Castro would never allow.

(on camera): It's a bold system. Many believe Elian's father was being kept from going to the United States for fear he would stay, which would be a huge political embarrassment to Cuba's communist government. The fact that he's going now indicates that's not a concern.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


JORDAN: Well here on NEWSROOM, we've told you all about the census under way. It's a once-a-decade counting of all those residing in the United States. Well, an update now: Things are not going off without a hitch. The problem right now is not so much with the actual count, it's with the extra questions some census respondents are being asked. At issue, what some people call the U.S. Census Bureau's questionable questions.


CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People are angry about the long form of the census, 53 questions some complain invade their privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it intrusive, I really did, and I don't think all of it is necessary that they were asking.

ROCHELLE: Objections over questions like number 17, asking about physical, mental or emotional condition, or number 39: do you have complete plumbing facilities, hot and cold water? A flush toilet? A bathtub or shower? Some congressional Republicans say, send in the form, but it's OK to skip questions you don't like.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: The other areas that you are concerned about, about privacy, getting too much into your personal life, if you don't feel comfortable with it, don't fill it out.

ROCHELLE: Even a presidential contender weighed in.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I can understand why people don't want to give all that information to government, and if I had the long form I'm not so sure I'd want to either. ROCHELLE: The Census Bureau is trying to blunt the criticism, arguing the law requires people to answer all the questions, that the information is necessary to determine the needs for schools, fire protection and other services, and that Congress wanted that information.

KENNETH PREWITT, DIR., CENSUS BUREAU: It actually is needed, these information -- this information. There is no question on the long form which has not been put there because it is either in the law or it is required by a law.

ROCHELLE: Some Democrats say they're hearing complaints too, but telling people to skip questions is not OK.

REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: It is regrettable that at the very last minute some Republican leaders have tried to discourage people from filling out their forms. This is irresponsible.

ROCHELLE (on camera): Forms are due April 1. Those who don't return their forms or who skip questions may find a census worker on their doorstep asking the questions face to face.

Carl Rochelle, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: Well, in today's "Editor's Desk": the modern media. We've come a long way, baby, might be an appropriate description of broadcasting evolution over the last 100 years. But check it out. The explosion in information technology we're witnessing in this day and age has its roots in crude devices like these, the world of knobs and acronyms like UHF. Believe it or not, these antiques were common not too long ago.

It was only about 80 years ago that the first radio station got started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since that time, other major broadcasting milestones have left former mediums maneuvering for viability. Radio looked for a new purpose with the emergence of television, the first TV broadcast coming in 1936 in London.

And now both TV and radio are looking for a new place in the age of the Internet. Elements in both industries are taking seriously the admonition, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Dennis Michael has one such example.


DENNIS MICHAEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soundbreak sounds a lot like radio: lots of music, a sultry-voiced DJ. But there's one thing missing: any kind of broadcast equipment. is 21st century radio over the Internet.

Soundbreak's DJs keep up a lively chat with listeners, they are visible to Web surfers, and listeners can instantaneously buy the music being played. GOODMAN: We are writing the book. We're making up the rules.

MICHAEL: For, the best thing is there are no rules. KNAC was the pioneering metal radio station in Los Angeles, but was driven into extinction by bigger broadcast guns. If competition killed KNAC, the Internet provided it with a very happy afterlife, with much more freedom now that government controls on broadcasting are superfluous without a transmitter.

Like KNAC, Groove Radio was once bound to a tower, but early experiments with Webcasting ensured a new future.

SWEDISH EGIL, FOUNDER, GROOVE RADIO.COM: It was very intermittent. The signal broke every 20 minutes, but we still got about a half a million people tuning in from around the world.

MICHAEL: Radio is really one of the oldest and lowest tech forms of mass media, but it faces an immediate and radical transformation in the digital age.

RITA WADE, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, KLOS-FM: How can you predict the future? Nobody knew, you know, 35 years ago that FM radio would become what it became. And right now, it's the same sort of thing with Internet radio.

MICHAEL: Dennis Michael, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.


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 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.

WALCOTT: Athletes and artists today in "Worldview." We touch down in Europe and Asia for our stories. You'll find out how one filmmaker is making inroads in his homeland. His country, China, is a place which only recently allowed his films to be shown.

And we'll take a spin in France, where a skater has heads turning.

We begin in France, a large country in Western Europe. It's known for its fine food, high fashion and famous art, but it's also a recreation capital. The snow-covered Alps lie on its border with Italy. Skiing is popular, as is ice skating. Today we meet one of the country's elite skaters. But first, a bit of skating history.

Speed skating and figure skating became Olympic events in 1924, but it wasn't until 1960 when women began to compete in these events.

In 1976, ice dancing was added to the Olympics. Stacey Wilkins profiles one of the event's most dramatic competitors.


STACEY WILKINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surya Bonaly doesn't skate by the rules.


UNIDENTIFIED SKATING COMMENTATOR: You know, the rules say that you cannot lie on the ice. You must have two blades always on the ice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She always does things in her own way, definitely her.

WILKINS: The French athlete angered judges when she performed a back flip at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. Such moves are outlawed, even though no other woman skater has ever done them.

She didn't win any points for sportsmanship at the world championships in Japan, when she refused to accept a second place medal.

But it's that attitude that's making her a hit with audiences. A longtime resident of the United States, Bonaly turned pro last year. Crowds at the Champions on Ice show flipped over the stunt that turned off judges. And no one tells Bonaly how to skate anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no limit.

WILKINS (on camera): The glamour of the ice belies the hard work and long hours Bonaly and her colleagues put in on the road. They often spend just hours in a city before having to move onto the next show in the next town.

(voice-over): Bonaly just got into town at 3:00 a.m. from a show the night before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always good to see you.

WILKINS: With just a few hours sleep, she and her fellow skaters are back on the road heading for a show in Atlanta. Bonaly spends her days with people who were once arch rivals but are now are part of the same team.

OKSANA BAIUL, 1994 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Surya Bonaly is one of a kind in this world, and I think Oksana Baiul is one of a kind in this world, which is really good about, I think, myself and Surya. We're not trying to steal our favorite moves.

WILKINS: No handlers or bag attendants for these low maintenance stars, who have just two hours to get ready for the show.

Bonaly has time to grab a quick salad with her trainer, mother Suzanne Bonaly, before she begins a warm-up routine.

Adopted at an early age and trained initially as a gymnast, the 26-year-old translated those acrobatic skills to the ice when she became a skater at age 12.

SURYA BONALY, FIVE-TIME EUROPEAN CHAMPION: Sport is my life. Since my childhood, I've been doing sport, any kind of sport, and I think it helped me a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's your low back today?

BONALY: Well, I guess so-so -- stiff, you can say.

WILKINS: Bonaly schedules a quick session with the team trainer. She needs to be careful since a torn achilles tendon injury sidelined her in 1997. But colleagues say she's come back even stronger.

PHILLIPE CANDELORO, 1998 OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST: I think she can come back after the injury three years ago. She was too technical, but not enough artistic. But she's still here, and she's one of the best girls of the ice skating world.

WILKINS: Less than an hour to go, Bonaly takes to the ice. Her mother coaches her performance. Even on the road, the skaters have to maintain a tough training regimen.

BONALY: We have to be strong, you know? We have to be serious too, you know? You have to sleep whenever you can, try to rest, try to save your energy. And when it's time for the show, you forget everything.

WILKINS: Showtime.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: She's a three-time world silver medalist and five-time European champion. From France, Surya Bonaly.

WILKINS: She has just over three minutes on the ice to earn her paycheck.

Bonaly has never won an Olympic medal, but the crowds don't seem to care.

TOM COLLINS, FTD CHAMPIONS ON ICE: Surya Bonaly is possibly in skating one of the best performers, an audience pleaser. That's what I would call Surya Bonaly.

WILKINS: After the show, Bonaly's day is still not over. She catches a five-hour flight home to Las Vegas.

BONALY: I'm almost ready to go home.

WILKINS: After two months on the road, Bonaly has a rare two-day break. The judges may have never taken to her unorthodox style, but she's still a hit with crowds.

Stacey Wilkins, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: You've been hearing all about legislation to grant China permanent trading privileges in the U.S. market. U.S. President Bill Clinton wants Congress to approve the market-opening agreement by June. This landmark trade agreement calls for China to open a wide range of markets from agriculture to telecommunications. China's huge market place is potentially the world's largest, with 1.3 billion consumers. China is also applying to become part of the World Trade Organization. The WTO sets global trading rules. But it's not a done deal yet. While the issue is being debated, change is already under way in China.

Rebecca MacKinnon looks at the country's film industry.

REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The movie "17 Years" is about a convicted murderer. Parts of it were shot in a real Chinese prison.

Director Zhang Yuan has won several international awards over the years for films exploring China's dark side, with themes like alcoholism and mental illness. All were banned in China.

But now, even with a criminal as its main character, "17 Years" is Zhang Yuan's first movie ever to be allowed into theaters by Chinese censors.

ZHANG: In China these days, everything is changing. Government policies are changing, officials are changing, and they adhere more closely to the laws. I'm changing, too, because I did everything I could to get my movie shown in China.

MACKINNON: One reason for Zhang's success: stiff competition from Hollywood blockbusters has put China's domestic film industry in a slump.

NING DAI, SCREENWRITER: Movie studios are only allowed to make a certain number of movies each year. Because the Chinese movie market isn't very good right now, it was easier for us to get into a studio's quota.

MACKINNON (on camera): When china joins the World Trade Organization, most likely later this year, it will have to let in a lot more movies from overseas, especially from Hollywood. While some view that as a threat to the normal way of doing things here, others see an opportunity for change.

GAO JUN, XINYINGHAN FILM CO. (through translator): As more foreign movies come into China, we have to eliminate low-quality Chinese movies and invest more money in good directors and actors who make movies people like to watch. Some people won't survive in the competitive environment.

MACKINNON: Director Feng Xiaogang is confident he'll survive with his specialty: romantic comedies.

FENG XIAOGANG, DIRECTOR (through translator): Hollywood movies decimated European films because Europeans took a highbrow approach. Movies are commercial products. Chinese directors have to face this fact and make movies the general public wants to watch.

MACKINNON: That idea has paid off. Feng's latest comedy, "Sorry Baby," about love and kidnapping, pokes fun at life in modern Beijing. Its box office sales have been better here than "Star Wars," "Notting Hill," and "Enemy of the State" combined -- and that is nothing to snore at.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.


JORDAN: Coming soon on "Worldview," a special series which looks at young people around the world. It's called "Youth 2000," and it's all about you. During the week-long series, we'll explore the dreams and dilemmas of kids around the world, your health and welfare, your rights, your roles. What impact does poverty have? How important is your education? All that and more beginning April 10th and running all that week, right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

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

WALCOTT: We have our eye on violence in American schools today, specifically in Connecticut, where a group of high school students is accused of hazing and assaulting fellow classmates.

JORDAN: Turns out the alleged acts have been a rite of passage at the school. Some fear the problem exists at other U.S. high schools as well.

Frank Buckley reports -- and teachers, you'll want to pre-screen this report.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The three victims of the alleged attacks at Connecticut's Trumbull High School remained silent for as long as they could. But the alleged abuse over the course of a month eventually revealed itself in one victim: a 15-year- old boy who finally said he had been hog-tied and beaten, locked in a locker, and physically violated with the handle of a plastic knife.

HOWARD KLEBANOFF, VICTIM'S ATTORNEY: Sadly, in a desire to be accepted, in a desire to want to be a member of the team, the young man kept quiet until finally he was so horribly injured that he literally couldn't walk.

BUCKLEY: Who hurt him? Fellow students, say police, eight members of the school wrestling team, accused of hazing the 15-year- old and two other young members of the team. School officials say they were oblivious to the alleged violence. But the attorney for one of the 18-year-olds charged in the case points to the school yearbook, which contains a message from a team captain, telling future team members to "carry on the tradition...of hogtying."

FREDERICK PAOLETTI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Once they know, or should have known that this was going on, then the next step is "What did you do about it?" And to do nothing certainly sends a message to the students that it's OK.

BUCKLEY: The allegations of hazing in Connecticut, just one of many incidents reported at the high-school level this school year. The headlines come from across the nation.

One study of newspaper reports shows more than two dozen incidents nationwide.

MURTIE: There were so many people there that I didn't know what to do.

BUCKLEY: Lizzie Murtie was a freshman two years ago on the gymnastics team at Essex High School in Vermont. Murtie was surrounded one night by 30 upperclassmen and forced to participate in a mock sex act, she says, as part of a team hazing ritual.

MURTIE: I wasn't sure what it was, but they had told us that night that it wasn't hazing and that we shouldn't tell anybody about it.

BUCKLEY: Experts say student athletes are often victims of hazing, which an Alfred University study defined as activities that humiliate, degrade, abuse, or endanger the participants. The survey of college-level athletes revealed one in five was subjected to unacceptable or illegal hazing while 50 percent were required to participate in alcohol-related hazing.

The mixture of alcohol and hazing, amusing in many movies, is sometimes deadly in real life. Hank Nuwer has written books about hazing. He says more than 50 students have died in hazing incidents during the past two decades: students drinking or even participating in criminal behavior to be considered part of a group.

HANK NUWER, AUTHOR: Why? At this particular age, loyalty to the group would be far more important than the moral qualms that they later will develop.

BUCKLEY: Forty-one states have laws against hazing, Connecticut one of them, where eight student-athletes now face charges of assaulting members of their own team.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


JORDAN: That's something to think about. That will do it for another week.



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