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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for April 21, 2000

Aired April 21, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It's Friday here on NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Haynes.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. We begin in the United States, where we remember a tragedy.

HAYNES: In today's top story, tears, emotional words, and painful memories in Colorado, as a community remembers the Columbine High School shooting, one year later.

WALCOTT: First it was e-commerce, then e-trade, and now e- classes? In "Editor's Desk," we'll show you how universities are going cyber.


MICHAEL SAYLOR, CEO, MICROSTRATEGY: It occurred to me that instead of putting 100 people through college, I might be able to put not 100 or 1,000, but maybe everybody through college.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," the struggle of a West African tribe translated into the sensuous moves of ballet.


MAMADOU MANSOUR GUEYE, "THE MANDINKA EPIC" (through translator): We want to show the world that Africa is much richer than it is portrayed. When people look at the costumes, we want to show this was a culture rich in wealth and history.


WALCOTT: Then, in "Chronicle," 30 years after its birth, we look at the growing pains of the environmental movement.


MARK DOWIE, AUTHOR, "LOSING GROUND": I think the biggest triumph has been to put environmentalism high on the social and political agenda of the country.


WALCOTT: In today's top story: the massacre at Columbine High School. It happened one year ago, and yesterday, the people of Littleton, Colorado, came together to mourn, reflect and remember.

Hundreds of students, teachers, parents and others came together to pay tribute to the 12 students and a teacher who died at Columbine. A statewide moment of silence was held at 11:21 in the morning, the moment two teenagers opened fire and went on a shooting rampage. Twenty-six others were wounded in the attack. The gunmen later killed themselves.

There was little mention of those two students yesterday. The acts of remembrance for the other victims: 13 balloons released, a bell tolled 13 times, and 13 crosses erected.

With more, here's Jeff Flock.



JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They say it's the last time they'll perform this, the song written for the worst high school shooting in U.S. history -- a metaphor, maybe, for moving on.

DARRELL SCOTT, COLUMBINE VICTIM'S FATHER: Two thousand years ago, a teacher and 12 students had an impact on the whole world. At the end of this millennium, another teacher and 12 students had an impact on the whole world.

FLOCK: But some of the families aren't ready to move on yet, filing lawsuits over how the authorities responded a year ago. One filed by the family of Daniel Rohrbough says it was a bullet fired by a sheriff's deputy's gun that killed their son.

DAVID THOMAS, JEFFERSON CO. DISTRICT ATTY.: I'll tell you, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

FLOCK: The county prosecutor says he hasn't seen any evidence of official wrongdoing.

THOMAS: Having reviewed the evidence as it's been presented to me by the sheriff's department in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, it did not seem to support that.

FLOCK: They put up 13 crosses, one for each victim, and the memories came back.

PATTI NIELSON, COLUMBINE TEACHER: At this exact time one year ago I was curled up in a cupboard in a back room of the library.

FLOCK: Some memories like teacher Patti Nielson's seems so hard to get past. NIELSON: I know that we are all at different places in our own grieving process and that having haunting memories of that day will not just suddenly go away. But for me, I want today to also mark the day that I let go the anger.

FLOCK: The Columbine community is trying.

I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, Littleton, Colorado.


WALCOTT: Many of us will never forget the horrific images from one year ago, but our memories pale to those in the minds of students who lived through the experience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hardest thing has been was when these kids told you, is why did it happen to us? and sometimes I just want to shout out at night that I just don't know why it was us. We're supposed to be living the lives of teenagers, and people are telling us we need to move on. It's not that we're not trying to move on, because we are. It's not that we're asking for the attention, because we really aren't. It's that we're forced to live this life.

April 20th, like, I'm moving on, but it runs through my mind constantly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it first came out, mainly the media kind of, I don't want to put you guys on the spot, but you did lead kind of a way to blame certain things on groups of people that didn't need to be blamed -- teachers, the administration, the principal -- saying teachers could have picked up on clues.

I mean, you know, it breaks my heart to hear that kind of stuff because, I mean, how can you prepare for a day like that? It's impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two kids were evil from the beginning. They had it set the minute they walked into Columbine that that's what they wanted to do. And even if there were laws against like getting guns and gun control, they would have found some way around that, and they still would have done what they did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just putting the blame on something else. It goes along with blaming parents, teachers, administration, the principal, our school, and it's just an excuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people that are responsible are dead. That's the first thing. The second thing is, the boys broke something like 17 state and federal laws in their crime, and I question whether making a whole lot more laws is going to change anything if people's hearts and minds and attitudes don't change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My little sister, who was in the building with me at the time, I think our relationship has just grown immensely. Before, we would fight, and we still fight, but it's just knowing that that automatic connection will always be there and we know what each other feels no matter what.

And I think the hardest part, it becomes harder and harder as we approach April 20. Like constantly, I would have knots in my stomach, or not be able to sleep, and I think the anticipation in what to expect is really hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister, who also was in the building -- she's a senior now -- we have become closer through this, and probably the hardest thing for me is just seeing her and knowing that something may not be right and that I can't help her, and how I feel when I think how I couldn't help my friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, we can't get over something so quickly as maybe the rest of the world can, because the rest of the world can just turn off their TV, and they don't have to hear about it anymore, or they can just close the newspaper, they don't have to read about it anymore. But we, as Columbine students, we have to live this every single day. You know, we are still human and we are still recovering.


WALCOTT: U.S. President Clinton sent a message to the Columbine community. He said, "Our hearts have not yet fully healed, but today America stands together as one to keep faith with all those who lost their lives at Columbine -- and all those whose lives were forever changed that day.

He added, "We must continue to honor their memory and your courage by resolving to make America a safer place for all our children."

HAYNES: We want to move on now in "Today's News," and take you to Washington, D.C., where U.S. President Clinton commented on the Elian Gonzalez custody case. It's a topic we've talked a lot about on NEWSROOM.

The president says the Cuban boy should be reunited with his father. He made the comments just one day after a U.S. Appeals Court ruled Elian must remain in the United States while his Miami relatives fight to keep him here.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's now no conceivable argument for his not being able to be reunited with his son. And that is was the lawful process has said. The immigration law is clear and the determination of the INS and a federal court are clear. So I think he should be reunited in as prompt and orderly way as possible.


HAYNES: A court date is set for May to decide if he's entitled to an asylum hearing. Asylum is protection given by a country, usually in the case of political refugees.

Charles Bierbauer examines the U.S. Immigration Service's guidelines for children seeking asylum, especially Elian's case.


CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives have filed a claim for asylum on his behalf. Elian's father says, only he can speak for his son. But the 11th Circuit Court's ruling suggests, the 6-year-old could be allowed to speak for himself to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

DENYSE SABAGH, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: It sounds like the court is saying that the INS should speak to Elian, which is a different interpretation from what the INS has taken so far.

BIERBAUER: The court cited INS guidelines that caution "... Asylum officers should not assume that a child cannot have an asylum claim independent of the parents."

The guidelines tell asylum officers how to interview children as young as Elian. The burden of proof, though, does not differ from adult to child.

MICHAEL HETHMON, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Initially, the claimant for asylum has to make a claim. They have to establish a credible fear.

BIERBAUER: That fear can be based on persecution for race, religion, nationality, social or political group. But the guidelines say a child may not see persecution where an adult might. If the appeals court rules Elian Gonzalez is entitled to an asylum hearing, it could lead to another conundrum.

(on camera): Under the Cuban Adjustment Act passed by Congress, if Elian remains in the U.S. for a year, he would be eligible for permanent residence. But the question then would be the same: Who would apply for a 7-year-old?

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: What do you think about when you think about going to college? Sprawling campuses? Packed classrooms? Huge tuition bills? Well, the university of the future could put an end to those things and change your idea of the college experience.

Frank Buckley gives us a preview in today's "Editor's Desk."


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): University students are already offered courses online at a number of universities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Cheryl Stebach (ph), your course instructor. I'm so glad to have you in class.

BUCKLEY: Students enrolled in online courses are gain credits and pay tuition like traditional college students. But billionaire Michael Saylor, who founded the high-tech firm MicroStrategy, has a different idea for an online university, to provide it for free: college educations to anyone who logs on and completes the course work.

MICHAEL SAYLOR, CEO, MICROSTRATEGY: It occurred to me that instead of putting 100 people through college, I might be able to put not 100 or 1,000 but maybe everybody through college.

BUCKLEY (on camera): For the moment, it's only an idea. But it's an idea that Saylor is backing up with $100 million of his own money.

(voice-over): Professors and lecturers would be videotaped and delivered via the Internet. Answers to questions from students would be anticipated and taped as well. But would the students take the courses?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally, I wouldn't do it. I don't know. I think that the atmosphere is a big part of university life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see that as a replacement of college, just maybe as a better way to do it or as addition to it.

BUCKLEY: Which is how some universities that currently offer online courses see their e-offerings.

STEPHEN JOEL TRACHENBERG, PRESIDENT, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: I think there's always going to be a role for a campus, partly because what goes on in university education is only addressed partially in the classroom.

BUCKLEY: The number of universities offering online education is growing, however. Close to 1,700 institutions offered such courses, according to a survey, in 1998. And as the number grows, say some experts, so will the value of such education.

JOHN CHALLENGER, LABOR ANALYST: At the moment, the high-tech new-economy companies are most likely to respect that degree. As the degree gains currency, the rest of the economy and companies will follow.

BUCKLEY: And if Saylor's cyber university eventually goes online, it would be a degree that students would receive free of charge.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news. WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, going home and going abroad. We take a revolutionary journey and a cultural odyssey, too. Our stories spotlight Iran and Senegal. Dancers from the African nation are on a world tour to spread their heritage and art. We'll check out the ancient rhythms and traditional moves that link past with future. And we'll head to Iran for a peek into the past of CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Iran is one of the world's oldest countries. Its history goes back about 5,000 years and encompasses the great Persian empire. In the mid-600s, Muslim Arabs conquered this land, an important influence on its culture even today. In fact, Muslim caliphs, or religious leaders, ruled for 200 years and the Islamic faith spread. The discovery of oil has been a catalyst for change in Iran, leading to economic growth and eventual political upheaval.

The shah, or ruler of Iran, began a series of economic and social reforms during the 1960s. But this powerful leader aroused much opposition. In 1979, the shah left Iran amid mass demonstrations and riots. The country united under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a Muslim religious leader.

We visit Iran now with Christiane Amanpour, who takes us on a journey to her former homeland.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When I was a girl growing up in Tehran, this was my house. This used to be the back way we came in, and it's now a chicken coop. This was the backyard.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): The revolutionary courts of Iran took custody of our house after my family left the country in 1980. Only recently we were able to reclaim it.

(on camera): So we have a family in here who is care-taking the place so that it doesn't get expropriated, so people don't think it's empty.

You know, it was a very beautiful house -- not grand, but beautifully decorated. You can't tell that at all now. Everything now is just a shell, really. It just all is crumbling.

(voice-over): After the revolution, our house was used to shelter Iranian families, refugees who were fleeing the Iran-Iraq war.

(on camera): This used to be our living room. This room for me is kind of significant because it was here 21 years ago that my father was sitting in that corner and I was standing here, and all of a sudden he said, you know, life as we used to know it is going to come to an end because the revolution is going to happen and it's just going to be completely different.

And it was at this precise moment in this room 21 years ago that I developed the first inklings of political awareness. And this is where my life changed.

This was a little outdoor patio where we would have parties at night. My parents would give dinner parties and there would be lights hung. And there were a lot of trees that have been being cut down for I don't know what reason, but lights were hung in the trees. And it was very beautiful.

And this was my room. It's clearly now a wood shed.

(voice-over): It's sad remembering what it used to be like; sad for me and for my family.

My cousin Sorii (ph):

(on camera): We can take it off when we're behind the walls.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And my father.

(on camera): Hi, Daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Chrissy (ph).

AMANPOUR: Hi, Daddy. How are you? Ducking underneath the laundry. Nice, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to see you.

AMANPOUR: We've been touring the house, taking pictures and showing every...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a house.

AMANPOUR: It's not a house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a house, yes.

AMANPOUR: What is it?


AMANPOUR: It's a ruin. It is a ruin.

(voice-over): My father is 85 years old. He and my mother live in London now, but he comes back to Iran several times a year. My cousin Sorii and the rest of my family live in Tehran.

(on camera): Daddy?


AMANPOUR: Do you remember 20 years ago, the summer of 1978, telling me that it was all going to change -- our life was going to change? Do you remember that? We were sitting in the lounge in the living room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was I sitting there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that something would happen, yes.

AMANPOUR: Can you remember what you were feeling then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- only about the family, what they will become. Are we going to stay here, going abroad? I was perplexed.

AMANPOUR: What do you think would have happened to me if I had stayed here? I mean, I went to university abroad. I wanted to be a journalist. What would have happen to me if I stayed, Daddy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't see that. You wouldn't be at the same level as you are now because you didn't have -- you wouldn't have the free feel of activity due to your gender, I mean, being a woman.

SORII: As a woman, we are not really equal with men now. And that's what I wanted at the first of the revolution.


BAKHTIAR: In Iran, religious customs are still strictly observed by many of the country's Muslims. Many of the women wear black body veils called chadors, a custom which is based on Muslim moral teachings.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Next stop, Senegal, a small country on the southwest coast of Africa. It's further west than any country on the continent's mainland. It gained its independence from France in 1960. The northern and southern parts of Senegal are divided by the tiny nation of Gambia.

The two are linked by more than borders, however. They share a common history and culture, as Stacey Wilkins explains.


STACEY WILKINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sounds of Senegal. Ballet d'Afrique Noire dance company uses brilliant costumes, sensuous moves and displays of athletic skill to pack American theaters on their first-ever professional tour of "Mandinka."

(on camera): This ballet is about more than entertainment. It's about history, the story of the West African Mandinka tribe and its struggle to preserve power in the 14th century.

(voice-over): The Senegalese Dance Troupe spent five years developing the epic. Although the history of the lost Mandinka empire is sung in native Wolof dialect, American audiences have no trouble deciphering the dance and drum beats that tell a universal story. MAMADOU MANSOUR GUEYE, "THE MANDINKA EPIC" (through translator): We want to show the world that Africa is much richer than it is portrayed. When people look at the costumes, we want to show this was a culture rich in wealth and history.

WILKINS: The Mandinka empire spanned what is now Senegal, Mali and Gambia. The kingdom controlled Saharan trade, making a fortune selling slaves. Thousands were torn from their homeland and forced into slavery, violent struggles which ultimately led to the fall of a great African empire.

JEAN PIERRE LEURS, "THE MANDINKA EPIC" (through translator): I was inspired to write the ballet when I heard of the slave trade. I wanted to show how a beautiful culture had been corrupted.

WILKINS: Although well-known throughout Europe, the 37-member company made of Dakar's best dancers are making the most of their first opportunity to tour the United States.

Stacey Wilkins, CNN, Atlanta.


HAYNES: Well, you may not be fanning yourself -- the lights -- but scientists say the first three months of this year have been the warmest on record in the United States. What that may or may not mean for the environment will likely come up tomorrow during the annual Earth Day. The first Earth Day three decades ago paved the way for the modern-day environmental movement.

Natalie Pawelski looks back.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As movements go, this one has had its share of confrontation and cliche. But on what many regard as the 30th birthday of the modern environmental movement, there's a mix of accomplishment, unfinished business, and more than a little bit of a mid-life crisis.

MARK DOWIE, AUTHOR, "LOSING GROUND": I think the biggest triumph is to put environmentalism high on the social and political agenda of the country.

FRED SMITH, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: They don't know what to do with success. Like many people in life who, at 30, are doing pretty well but aren't happy, the environmental movement seems very, very unhappy with itself. I think it ought to grow up, recognize that taking its own values seriously means to recognize that a lot of things are going right.

PAWELSKI: In the early days, some of the biggest victories came easily. After all, no one was really in favor of burning rivers, choking smog, or killing off whales or bald eagles. Shortly after the first Earth Day in 1970, Congress passed a rapid-fire series of laws that now form the backbone of U.S. environmental protection: the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, all enthusiastically signed into law by a president you might not remember as a tree-hugger.

But by the early '80s, some of those same laws, and the agency created to enforce many of them, had begun to build a backlash -- one plank in the platform of a new president on a mission to reduce government regulation.

CARL POPE, SIERRA CLUB: Before Reagan, the Republican leadership in Congress did care about the environment and actually provided a lot of leadership. So what Reagan did was to convince them that government programs for environmental protection had to be viewed as somehow inconsistent with being a conservative.

PAWELSKI: The Reagan administration more than doubled logging in national forests, slashed environmental enforcement, and set a goal to lease the entire U.S. coastline for offshore oil and gas drilling.

The late '80s brought the first dire reports that the earth may be warming, and that an ozone hole might help turn suntans into skin cancer. And we saw pictures of medical waste and sewage washing up on the New Jersey shore.

Hundreds of thousands came to Washington for Earth Day 1990. So big was the groundswell this time that much of corporate America chimed in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Dow lets you do great things.


PAWELSKI: And from classrooms to boardrooms, environmental talk became a part of doing business. But in the '90s, many found that talk and action were two very different things.

DOWIE: I think 10 years ago, the environmental movement sort of hit a road block, a speed bump, and has been unable to recover from it since. I think that the movement was just unable to evolve to a more dynamic and imaginative movement at a time when it really needed to.

PAWELSKI: At the dawn of a new century, we're recycling more than ever, but we're also making more garbage than ever before. The ozone hole may be on its way to healing. Big, charismatic animals like the gray whale and the bald eagle, once on the brink, are now saved from extinction. But thousands of other more obscure plant and animal species have vanished, with thousands more in peril. And scientists overwhelmingly embrace the theory that global warming from manmade pollution raises the temperature and alters our food supply, our weather and our shorelines.

So on this 30th Earth Day, many see two environmental movements: one a mature political entity with several big victories under its belt. The other, a movement struggling with issues as big as life itself, and one which could be entering a mid-life crisis. Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


HAYNES: All right, listen: It's Friday. You guys go have a good weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday.

WALCOTT: Happy Easter.

HAYNES: Bye-bye.



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