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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for April 25, 2000

Aired April 25, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM is back on track for Tuesday. I'm Shelley Walcott.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: I'm Andy Jordan. Here's what's in the works.

WALCOTT: In "Today's News," we continue to monitor events in the Elian Gonzalez case. Today, reports of what happened inside the house during the weekend raid.

JORDAN: We have news about your health in today's "desk." Our report tells you why it's time to start worrying about the health of your bones.


DR. ANNE KLIBANSKI, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Bone health is something that needs to be thought of from childhood through adolescence and throughout life.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview," we'll explore a unique learning environment for Native American children.


JOYCE BURR, SUPT., WAHPETON INDIAN SCHOOL: This is just a place for you to come for you to think about what it is that you want to do with your life.


JORDAN: Then, in "Chronicle," we continue our report on teens and driving. Today, putting your life back together after tragedy strikes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I've lived through it so hopefully I'm a stronger person.


WALCOTT: In today's top story, Cuban-Americans upset over the U.S. government's handling of Elian Gonzalez are vowing to turn Miami, Florida, into a dead city today. Protesters are asking people to stay home from work as part of a general strike. They want to shut down the town quietly with none of the violent demonstrations that broke out after Elian was seized from his Miami relatives' home early Saturday.

Kate Snow has more on the case from the U.S. capital.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sounds and images of early Saturday were the talk of Washington Monday, the speaker of the House calling for congressional hearings and the White House responding to critics who said the government used too much force.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: All of this could have been avoided. None of this had to happen. This happened because the family did not respect the legal process here that dictated the father should be reunited with the young boy. That lack of respect and the unwillingness to go along with what the court said and what the INS said led to no other alternative.

SNOW: Lockhart lashed out at relatives from Miami, who've made numerous pleas in front of television cameras, saying it was time to separate fact from impassioned rhetoric.

At the White House Easter egg hunt, parents were heard congratulating Attorney General Janet Reno for reuniting the 6-year- old with his father. But Reno acknowledged the decision to send in armed agents was a difficult one.

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had one goal over time, that was to reunite the little boy with his father. We tried every way we knew how to do it in a voluntary, peaceful way. That didn't work, and so we proceeded with the law enforcement initiative. In all these instances, I try to make the best judgment I can and then I move forward.

SNOW: And there were new details about what happened Saturday morning. INS agents told superiors that Miami relatives locked doors and blocked them with furniture, despite earlier assurances that they would not interfere if the government came for Elian.

In its application for a search warrant, the government asked to conduct the raid at night, fearing a human chain around the house would impede them during daylight hours.

As the debate over tactics raged on, the Gonzalez family spent another day in seclusion. Then, for the third day in a row, relatives from Miami were denied access. The two sides are scheduled to meet next month in a courtroom. ROGER BERNSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S MIAMI RELATIVES: What will take place, we hope now, is that the court of appeals will hear arguments on May 11th regarding the appeal and on the very important issue of whether Elian has the right to apply for asylum.

SNOW (on camera): In a legal brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department laid out its case. As they've said all along, government attorneys insist Elian Gonzalez, a 6-year-old boy, does not have the capacity to ask for political asylum on his own behalf.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Emotions and opinions about the Elian Gonzalez case are resonating around the world.

Jim Bittermann tells us how the saga over the 6-year-old has become a top story worldwide.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many parts of the world outside the United States have been enjoying a three-day holiday weekend, but few could have missed hearing the news or seeing the picture. From Hong Kong, to Paris, to London, the sudden change in the life of a 6-year-old led the newscast.

UNIDENTIFIED ITN ANCHOR: Riot police are out on the streets of Miami tonight after a 6-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, was taken from his American relatives at gunpoint by federal agents.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They took the boy, they're getting the boy.

JACQUI GODDARD, "DAILY EXPRESS": There is an element of it only in America I think. If something like that happened here, there would be phenomenal outrage.

BITTERMANN: But while people disagreed about tactics, there seemed to be fewer differences about the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a little shocked, yes. Perhaps there were a better solution to give him back to his father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ought to go to his father. That's a good thing, I think, yes.

BITTERMANN: Many outside the U.S. echoed the view of Miriam Cohen that the American media went overboard and did not stress the larger issues Presidents Castro and Clinton should be addressing.

MIRIAM COHEN, AIRLINE EMPLOYEE: They should start talking together and to change the relationship between USA and Cuba -- that is what is more important than this sad story -- and talking about the real problem in the world. BITTERMANN: Others too, saw the photograph, but see a larger picture. A senior correspondent for French television who at one time covered the Miami scene thinks the Elian story carries an important message for the younger generation of Cuban-Americans.

JEAN-MARC ILLOUZ, FRANCE 2 CORRESPONDENT: The Cold War is over. You know, at one point Fidel Castro will have to go, and when the old man goes, the Cubans will be asking for responsible leadership, not more vociferations and more slogans. The Cubans in Cuba have had that for too long a time.

BITTERMANN (on camera): But one of the more caustic observations came even before the weekend began in the pages of the respected British news magazine "The Economist." Its writers accused the Clinton administration of dithering and weakness that only made a bad situation worse when, the magazine said, international and American law are clear: the boy belongs with his father.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


JORDAN: Also on the news docket, the U.S. space agency delayed yesterday's launch of space shuttle Atlantis because of high winds at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA says the gusty conditions could have jeopardized an emergency landing if one had been necessary.

Another launch attempt is scheduled for this afternoon at 4:17 Eastern time and CNN plans live coverage.

Once in space, astronauts will make repairs to the International Space Station, which is short on power and losing its orbit.

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

JORDAN: In today's "Health Desk," we're going to bone up on bones. There are between 200 and 212 bones in the human skeleton, which supports and protects the body's soft tissue. It's important to take care of your bones and to help prevent osteoporosis. That's a condition characterized by a decrease in bone mass with decreased density and enlargement of bones spaces, making bones more fragile and porous.

Ten million Americans have osteoporosis. Another 18 million have low bone mass, putting them at risk for the disease. It's been considered an inevitable part of aging, but now scientists say you can help prevent the condition by taking proper steps while you're still a kid.

Rhonda Rowland explains.


RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early childhood is when we should begin taking steps to avoid the stooped shoulders and broken hips we associate with old age. Scientists convened by the National Institutes of Health say osteoporosis can be prevented, but it's a lifelong process.

DR. ANNE KLIBANSKI, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Bone health is something that needs to be thought of from childhood through adolescence and throughout life. Fractures don't start at age 50 or 60. The roots of fractures start very early.

ROWLAND: That means children need to get enough calcium between the ages of 3 and 17, but only 25 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls meet the dietary recommendations of at least three cups of milk a day. Vitamin D is also important for bone health, as is regular exercise.

Peak bone mass is reached shortly after adolescence. After that, scientists say, you may be able to add only minimally to your bone mass, or maintain what you have, with good nutrition and regular exercise.

Routine screening is not yet recommended for osteoporosis. Bone density tests are usually only done after mid-life and only when doctors suspect a problem. Older, white women are most likely to develop osteoporosis. But scientists say anyone, at any age, can develop brittle bones.

(on camera): Osteoporosis is a disease most of us don't think about until old age. This latest warning from scientists underscores the need to get parents, children and pediatricians working now at preventing fractures later in life.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we head to North America to check out a school for Native American students. It's a place that does more than instill pride in heritage, it's a place designed to provide hope. Many of these young people have had hard lives. Some have turned in despair to drugs. The challenge now: to turn their lives around.

JORDAN: We focus today on the American Indian. Scientists believe the first Indians came to America from Asia at least 15,000 years ago. Most likely they followed on the trail of animals crossing from Asia to North America. Back then, land stretched across the Bering Strait, which is located between what is now Alaska and Russia. They could have wandered the 50 miles or 80 kilometers into what became known as the "New World." Christopher Columbus came up with the name Indians during his 1492 voyage. He thought he had reached the Indies, and so that's what he called the native people he found.

Today we call their descendants Native Americans, American Indians, or Indians. But many Indians prefer to identify themselves by their tribal names, such as Navajo or Cheyenne. At one school in the United States, youngsters from three dozen tribes come together to learn about themselves and their heritage as they deal with some modern-day problems.

Larry Woods has more.


LARRY WOODS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When American Indians were forced to relocate onto government reservations, a doctrine of ethnic cleansing designed to eradicate their culture, customs and moral spirit awaited them and their children.

In time, that unwanted transformation was forced at off- reservation schools like the one at Wahpeton, North Dakota, which was opened in 1906. By 1931, one-third of all Indian children, roughly 24,000, were in federal boarding schools. Gradually, the humiliating and violent treatment of trying to, quote, "take the Indian out of the Indian," became public.

Joyce Burr, who now heads the Wahpeton Indian School she attended as an orphaned child until graduating high school, still feels the hurt.

JOYCE BURR, SUPT., WAHPETON INDIAN SCHOOL: Sometimes that treatment of children got out of hand.

WOODS (on camera): Beatings?

BURR: Many beatings. And, yes, I witnessed them. I was beat. I...

WOODS: With what?

BURR: With all kind of things; sometimes whatever was close. And this was throughout the country at all the off-reservation boarding schools.

WOODS (voice-over): Ms. Burr tells of once seeing a Chippewa girl beaten with a coat hanger.

SAM HILL, FORMER WAHPETON STUDENT: You just behave yourself.

WOODS: And Sam Hill, now 71, also recalls the severe punishment when he attended Wahpeton.

HILL: No, I don't think I ever seen anybody beat with a coat hanger. But like I said, I got the rubber hose, you know. When I came here, it was a little regimental, if you know what I mean.

BURR: So much of it had to do with not being proud of being an Indian because we were dirty, we're lazy. You know, you were born with that, so you have to beat that out.

WOODS: Today, the mission at Wahpeton is about healing and hope, courage and caring. And yes, ancestral customs, once silenced, routinely fill the air.

Says athletic instructor Damon Brady: DAMON BRADY, WAHPETON ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: When we come around the drum, you know, we always laugh and have a good time singing. And so it kind of brings that spiritual essence to what we're trying to do here.

WOODS: What they're trying to do is provide a nurturing environment, a place where some 200 youngsters from 36 tribes nationwide who attend this school can enhance their educational, social and coping skills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you guys check your work?


WOODS: Many of the children are two to three years behind academically. Many have had difficulty adjusting at local schools. A large portion are in special education programs. They are as young as cherubic fourth graders. They can stay, if all goes well, only through the eighth grade.

Nick Bissonett (ph), 13, is at Wahpeton because of drug problems. He lost half of his handsome face huffing, or inhaling, gas fumes that caught fire and exploded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spray paint, gas and nail polish.

WOODS: He tells classmates he started huffing because he was bored, nothing to do. He returns to his reservation in May. "Will you ever huff again?" a classmate asked.

BISSONETT: Probably. I don't know.

WOODS: Principal Dave Keehn and the staff tailor the school's curriculum to try and meet the youngsters' psychological and academic needs. In a few short years, they do what they can.

DAVE KEEHN, WAHPETON PRINCIPAL: They are safe here. And they are getting some skills that are needed to live.

WOODS: Because of their backgrounds, some students lack self- esteem. Inner turmoils often surface in their drawings at art therapy classes and teachers patiently prod them to discuss anxieties or problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about an education?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not going to go get no education.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing now?

WOODS: The majority of the children are placed here through social services or the courts. Some, like these older students, say their problems began at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't going good at home. I started getting in trouble. So... WOODS (on camera): Like what?


WOODS: Drugs?


WOODS: Why are kids like yourselves dependent, or want to be dependent, on that drug high? Why do you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes you feel good, like -- I don't know.

WOODS: Escapism?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did I choose to smoke marijuana? Because I had a lot of problems. I grew up hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was doing it just to get rid of my feelings, because I didn't want to feel the way I was feeling.

WOODS: What's the most disturbing thing about these kids when they come to you?

BURR: Just how violated they have been and no one has done anything about it.

WOODS: The task, the mission of this unique school, does not end each day at 3:00 or 3:30. In fact, it's after school when much of the intense work with these youngsters truly beings.

(voice-over): Students who misbehave or can't adjust spend time in the behavior center where they work and earn back privileges and the right to return to their assigned dorm. Counselors and staff are with them after school around the clock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wants to start?

WOODS: Once a week, counselor Bruce Gillette (ph) meets with seventh and eighth graders to talk about the pitfalls of teenage pregnancy, drinking, and drug abuse. They also are encouraged to talk about themselves openly, honestly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I laugh a lot. I can keep a secret.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I enjoy school. I daydream a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm lovable, honest and shy.

WOODS: Joyce Burr wishes she could keep the children beyond the eighth grade, but there's a long waiting list. What she tells each child is miracles don't reside here, but hope does. BURR: This is just a place for you to come, for you to think about what it is that you want to do with your life. It's more than just a school for you.

WOODS: Today, it's a place for children to rebuild their lives; children who are proud to dress as their ancestors did; children who believe deeply in their worth and heritage. It wasn't always that way.

Larry Woods, "Across America," in Wahpeton, North Dakota.


JORDAN: Next fall here on CNN NEWSROOM, we'll look at a painful part of Native American history: the Trail of Tears. We'll retrace the history that led a band of Indians on a forced march West in 19th century America; forced from their land, divided, but not conquered. We'll have their story coming up next fall here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, many of you have either gotten or are in the process of getting your driver's license. It can be one of the most exciting experiences of the teenage years, a sense of responsibility and a testament to the coming of your independence.

Our Rudi Bakhtiar tells about how this rite of passage led to a tragedy in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and how two people are turning their loss into a gain for their community.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got three fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of them went into surgery early this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were leaving that scene at a high rate of speed and lost control.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST (voice-over): October 1996, six high school girls pile into a Chevy Cavalier to toilet paper a lawn as a "spirit week" prank. But the prank turns to tragedy when the owner of the home gets into his car and chases the girls down the road. Scared, driving too fast and with her lights off, the inexperienced driver of the Chevy loses control of the car and crashes, killing three of her friends.

Ashley Best (ph) was behind the wheel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was mad at myself because I lived and they didn't.

BAKHTIAR: She lost her best friend that night, and she lost her daughter Jadie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It took the tears, and it took time, and it took getting through the grieving process, partly. I don't think I'm through, and I think you're always operating at a loss.

BAKHTIAR: But from that loss was born a unique relationship of love.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She came over and held my hand, and I said, I'm sorry. And she said, I love you.

BAKHTIAR: In fact, their bond is now stronger than ever. They share a need to turn their tragedy into something positive. And this is it: a 14,000-square-foot building named "Jadie's Place."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A place where teenagers can go and have good, clean fun.

BAKHTIAR: A $1 million teen center for their community designed to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a facility that kids can go and find themselves and find a skill and a talent, whether it be camera work, whether it be computer work, or just playing.

Well, a lot of needs came to my attention after the accident. We started a support group, a bible study of kids, and I learned as we started on grief, it didn't stop there. You know, they're dealing with a lot of issues. They're dealing with divorces, they're dealing with abuse, they're dealing with nobody caring and listening and helping them when they get behind or struggling with their grades.

BAKHTIAR: After months of hard work, the doors of Jadie's Place will finally open later this year. And despite the accident that forever changed her life, Ashley will be able to take comfort that she's helping lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ashley's in college, she has a job, and she's really trying to just be a normal person. She's stood up and been accountable for what she was involved in and now she's just wanting to be a normal college kid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And I've lived through it, so hopefully I'm a stronger person.

BAKHTIAR: Stronger and determined -- determined to bring something positive from tragedy and give other teens a safe and productive place to go to for help or for fun.

Rudi Bakhtiar, CNN, NEWSROOM.


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 fits your lesson plan. 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: Last week in our "Democracy in America" segment, we talked about political parties in the United States: how they facilitate the election of a president. We learned parties are not required, they've just evolved. Americans without parties can run, but so can Americans without, well, real skin. Sometimes novelty candidates can surface, and they have the potential to shape dialogue.

Jeanne Meserve looks at one of this campaign's movers and shapers.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Elizabeth Dole out of the race, you might have thought the chance of electing a woman president this year was nil. Not so. There may not be a Dole in the race, but there is a doll -- Barbie.

M.G. LORD, AUTHOR, "FOREVER BARBIE": I've heard her accused of being kind of stiff and lifeless. But, actually, I mean, that hasn't hurt Al Gore.

MESERVE: Barbie's presidential Web site went up on Thursday. Her box, appearing in toy stores May 1, lays out her platform: equal opportunity, environment, fitness.

One of Barbie's big backers in the race promises she will run like an all-American girl.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Barbie runs a clean campaign.

WILSON: Barbie is running a clean campaign. She's winning fair and square.

MESERVE: But in some quarters, there is skepticism about her chances.

PATRICIA IRELAND, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: Barbie would have an uphill battle to assure people that she had a real serious brain and a depth of knowledge on foreign policy, that she new what a "throw weight" was.

MESERVE: She brings a depth and breadth of experience to her candidacy that few can match. She has been a working woman, a pilot and NASCAR driver, not to mention an Olympic athlete. And as for governing experience, remember, Barbie has been a princess and even a queen.

There is no doubt she would bring a certain "va-voom" to the White House. She already has the perfect inaugural gown. And just think how she could jazz up those state dinners. But some wonder if her extensive wardrobe could trigger an independent counsel investigation. Who exactly has been paying for all those clothes? Questions are also being asked about her party- girl past, and that song that has already prompted legal action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Barbie, let's go party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I'm a Barbie girl in the Barbie world.

MESERVE: How will Barbie's entry effect the dynamics of the presidential race? White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart offered this assessment.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Barbie -- can't think she's going to have much of an impact on the race unless they run Malibu Barbie, and then maybe California would be impacted. Beyond that...

MESERVE: But pundits say there is one significant factor working against Barbie's candidacy: Her natural constituency is too young to vote.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: How about that?

Well, CNN's political coverage is in full swing.

WALCOTT: Tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, Wolf Blitzer hosts a special "LATE EDITION" town meeting on the New York Senate race. It will be the first of two town meetings on the subject.

JORDAN: First up tomorrow, Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. A separate town meeting with Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani is scheduled for a later date.

WALCOTT: And that wraps it up for us here today.

JORDAN: We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye.



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