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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 12, 2000

Aired May 12, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Well, here we go, the Friday edition of CNN NEWSROOM. Glad you're with us. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's what's coming up.

HAYNES: In today's top story, a raging firestorm burns hundreds of homes in New Mexico.


MELANEE SHURTER, FIRE EVACUEE: We never thought it would get this bad. We're still in disbelief.


BAKHTIAR: Next, in our "Editor's Desk," using the Internet to trace your family tree.


MARY KATHLEEN FLYNN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The best way I've found to narrow your search is to go to


HAYNES: Then in "Worldview," a booming birth rate and a true/false question: Is India the world's most populous nation? Find out later in the show.

BAKHTIAR: And in "Chronicle," NEWSROOM goes to the prom. But this high school celebration is anything but typical.


DAVID FARMER, AGE 15: When you're having fun, you really don't think about all the bad stuff.


HAYNES: In today's top story, what began as a controlled burn has turned into an out-of-control fire. A firestorm is raging in Los Alamos, New Mexico, forcing thousands to leave their homes and threatening the U.S. Nuclear Laboratory there. The National Park Service originally planned to burn 900 acres of brush to reduce the potential for a catastrophic fire. But high winds and low humidity caught the Park Service off guard, and now neighborhoods have been damaged.

Charles Zewe has story.


CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gale-force winds, gusts as high as 60 miles an hour, whipped a firestorm across pine- covered mesas and down the streets of Los Alamos, burning upwards of 400 homes. Firefighters battled house to house to save the town. Water-bombing helicopters and planes dropped fire retardant on the relentless blaze, which sent smoke plumes high into the sky, so high they could be seen from space.

Most residents of Los Alamos and neighboring communities sought safety during the night as flames bore down. Many were dumbfounded by how quickly the fire spread.

MELANEE SHURTER, FIRE EVACUEE: We never thought it would get this bad. We're still in disbelief.

ZEWE: Within hours, neighborhoods had been reduced to rows of lonely chimneys poking up from piles of cinder.

GOV. GARY JOHNSON (R), NEW MEXICO: Everything that can be done is being done, and yet, again, we may just be seeing the beginning of what is a real catastrophe.

ZEWE: Flames came to within 300 yards of the most sensitive areas of the Los Alamos National Laboratories, the nation's leading nuclear research facility. The lab, which built the first nuclear bomb, was closed for the first time. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says explosives and radioactive materials stored inside are protected in fireproof bunkers.

BILL RICHARDSON, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: All our nuclear materials are safe.

ZEWE: The blaze was set by the National Park Service in the nearby Bandelier National Forest a week ago to clear brush, but it flared out of control. New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici says Congress will now investigate the decision to set the fire.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: Somebody made a mistake and obviously we have to find out who.

ZEWE: Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck defended the decision to set the burn, a failed attempt to produce underbrush and prevent a larger fire.

MIKE DOMBECK, CHIEF, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: We know a lot of this is going to burn. We don't know exactly when it's going to burn.

ZEWE (on camera): The forecast calls for winds to drop to 10 to 20 miles an hour through this weekend, and firefighter hopes that lets them get the upper hand on this wildfire which is already considered the worst natural disaster to ever hit the state, and the fire is nowhere near under control.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Los Alamos, New Mexico.


HAYNES: This isn't the first time a controlled fire has gotten out of control.

Don Knapp looks at how often such fires have gone wrong and the risks involved.


DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the aftermath of a so-called controlled burn in Northern California last July, started by a Bureau of Land Management crew to clear fire-prone underbrush. Winds blew the burn out of control, 2,000 acres up in smoke, 23 homes destroyed.

GLEN SMITH, HOMEOWNER: Why? Why did you do a burn in these kind of conditions? We had a week of over 100-degree weather and it had been windy for a whole week.

KNAPP: A government review blamed the BLM, saying it failed to consider weather, have a backup plan, and protect homes inside the controlled burn area. The BLM immediately accepted responsibility and began making payments to home owners. The disaster served as a lesson to other fire managers.

RAY QUINTANAR, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: It is a very risky business. Even when you have all the elements in your favor, there's always a chance that something may happen -- a sudden puff of wind from somewhere, some mechanical error could occur.

KNAPP: But fire managers say decades of fire suppression have created powder kegs of public lands across the West.

SCOTT STEPHENS, UNIV. OF CALIF.-BERKELEY: These systems are going to burn. They're adapted to fire. The forests that burned today down in the Southwest prehistorically had fire every four, five, seven, eight years. These systems will burn. The only question is when they're going to burn and the consequences of the burning.

KNAPP: Two months ago, Los Angeles unleashed its brush crusher, a 10-ton roller designed to stamp down brush on fire-prone Malibu hillsides, making controlled burns more controllable. But fire scientists say clearing brush mechanically isn't as good as burning it. They say they need controlled burns to prevent catastrophic fires in the so-called urban-wild land intermix. STEPHENS: But we do have to be extremely careful, and I think the carefulness has to be increased tenfold probably when you get close to the intermix.

KNAPP: It is risky, but Stephens says it's not as risky as doing nothing.

Don Knapp, CNN, San Francisco.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We continue following the odyssey of Elian Gonzalez in today's headlines. The current stop in the battle over the 6-year-old Cuban boy is Atlanta, Georgia, where a federal appeals court says it will make a decision within weeks on whether he should get an asylum hearing.


PROTESTERS: Freedom for Elian! Freedom for Elian!

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the court, a loud group of demonstrators calling for Elian to remain in the U.S., but the arguments that counted happened well beyond the view of the camera.

A three-judge panel fired pointed questions at all sides battling over the future of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. Judge Charles Wilson to the Miami relatives' lawyer: "How can a 6-year-old be competent to answer questions about political asylum, including a fear of persecution?" Judge J.L. Edmondson asked the government "why a child's interests should not be allowed to compete with a parent who lives in a communist totalitarian state." Judge Joel Dubina to the lawyer for the boy's father, Gregory Craig: "Explain why it took your client more than five months to come to the U.S."

Afterwards, Craig, speaking over counterdemonstrators, repeated his position that Elian's father has the right to speak for his son.

GREGORY CRAIG, ATTORNEY FOR JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ: Juan Miguel Gonzalez is a free man capable of making free decisions, and he has not been coerced in any way in the decisions that he has made to want to be reunited with his son.

CANDIOTTI: The government argued a parent's rights, no matter where they live, are internationally recognized.

JAMES CASTELLO, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We very much hope that the special bond between Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his son Elian will be upheld.

CANDIOTTI: The boy's Miami relatives left court without comment. Their lawyers told the judges Elian, seen playing in Maryland with his Cuban schoolmates, deserves a political asylum hearing, and if returned to Cuba. quote, "this child will be purged."


BAKHTIAR: Sunday is Mother's Day, a day celebrated annually in the United States on the second Sunday of May. Mother's Day first received national recognition back in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress recommending its observance. The following year, it was proclaimed an annual national observance. The event has turned into a big celebration -- a time to honor moms and say thanks for all they do. So remember your mom, or step-mom, or grandmother on Sunday.

And while you're at it, it might be a good time to research your genealogy. That's the recorded history of a person's ancestry, or the study of family descent. It's all about you and your ancestors.

Mary Kathleen Flynn has more to get to the roots of your family tree.


FLYNN: There are literally thousands of Web sites that want to help you trace your family tree. Cyndi's List, for example, has over 62,000 links to Web sites.

The best way I found to narrow your search is to go to Here there are a lot of different historical databases, and they're all under one umbrella. For example, there are census records, and there's also the Social Security death index.

So let's say you're trying to find out information about a relative who's deceased, this is a good place to start. I'm trying to find out more about my father's mother. Her name was Elsie Rose Gobel Flynn. I know that she died in Illinois, so I'm going to go ahead and select Illinois as the state, and then I just start my search.

OK, here we've got four different records of Elsie Flynn's, and I see that one of them, the first one, in fact, she -- is somebody who died in December of 1963, and indeed that's when my grandmother died, a year after I was born. So it's somewhat likely that this may indeed be my grandmother.

Now, the next step would be to try and get a copy of that Social Security card application. You can't do that online. You've got to write away for that.

So if I just click on Write a Letter, has already generated the letter. So here I've got the letter already typed up. They've plunked in the information about my grandmother, including her Social Security number. I just print this out, make sure that I include the contact information on how to reach me, and $7 per copy, and send it in the regular mail, and soon I'll get a copy of that application.

It's pretty typical of doing genealogical research that you're going to be on the computer and on the Web sometimes, and then other times you're going to reach kind of a dead end and you'll have to actually leave the computer. You'll probably end up at, sooner or later, at the National Archives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in the naturalization area right now. The ship is the S.S. Baltic. And look who's here.

FLYNN: Well, everybody, though, it's also Babette (ph) and Marie and Frieda (ph) and Walter.

KORN: Right, Babette, your great-grandmother.

FLYNN: Leslie Korn (ph) volunteers at the New York branch of the National Archives, and she was able to find the manifests from the three ships that brought over my grandmother, my grandmother's parents, and her seven siblings from England.

Records like census records and ships' manifests may give you details that can help you then go back to the Web and search for more information. And in fact, I found out more about Heinrich Gobel than I had about Elsie Gobel Flynn.

On, I can type in my great-grandfather's name, Heinrich Gobel, and indeed, I get 96 different Heinrich or Henry Gobels. Lots of different spellings, but all basically the same idea. And we found out from the information provided by the National Archives and confirmed that my great-grandfather was born in Friedrichshausen, Germany.

So when I'm looking through this list of 96 names, one way to narrow it is to look for those born in Germany. And, indeed, I come up with a christening record of somebody named Heinrich Andreas Goebel who was christened in a town called Soest, Westfalen, which then was Prussia but now is Germany. And it says that he was christened on April 16, 1845. He could well be my father's mother's father's father.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, we turn to the world of art and leisure. Our journey has us crisscrossing the globe. In England, we check out one of the world's most popular dolls, all dressed up and everywhere to go. We hit the high notes and get the lowdown on jazz. That story takes us to China. We'll also learn about a Jamaican artist who gets his inspiration from his heritage.

But first to India. The South Asian nation is marking a population milestone as its one billionth baby is born. Experts say the population probably hit the mark for real about eight months ago. With India hitting one billion, is it or China the world's most populous nation?

Ram Ramgopal has the answer.


RAM RAMGOPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One billion Indians and an estimated 42,000 born every day. The country's population is growing by about 16 million a year, the equivalent of a new Australia. If current trends continue, India is expected to overtake China in 2045 as the world's most populous country.

India's government and the United Nations Population Fund will select a baby as a symbolic gesture. But for many Indians, the occasion is a reminder of the nation's problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The country is moving backwards only because of its population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Poverty will grow, unemployment will grow. What else? Only these will grow.

RAMGOPAL: In the 1970s, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a national emergency amid political intrigue and the government suspended freedom of speech and other individual liberties. In that atmosphere, authorities set out to curb population growth as well, issuing high targets for sterilizing as many people as possible. The program dealt a major setback to population control efforts. And when the state of emergency was finally lifted, Indira Gandhi and her government were voted out of power.

Population growth remains high for many reasons. More than half of India's women marry below the age of 18 and traditional ideas about the benefits of large families are proving difficult to dislodge. Experts warn that all the progress India has made in food production, longevity and literacy could amount to little if the population problem is not resolved.

Ram Ramgopal, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: Now onto the island nation of Jamaica, located in the West Indies. Arawak Indians, the first inhabitants of Jamaica, named the island Xaymaca (ph), meaning "land of wood and water." In 1494, Christopher Columbus arrived in Jamaica and claimed the island for Spain. The Spaniards then enslaved the Arawak Indians and also brought African slaves to the island.

The Spanish rule ended, however, when the British invaded Jamaica in 1655, gaining control by 1670. Jamaica prospered in the 1700s and the island was the most important slave market in the Western Hemisphere. The British freed the slaves in 1833, a move which greatly affected the country's thriving sugar industry. Finally, in 1962, Jamaica gained its independence and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Jamaica is famous for its beautiful beaches and mountains, which attract hundreds of thousands of tourists yearly. Now Jamaica is lending its name to a new art exhibit that's touring the United States.

Stacey Wilkins takes a look at the work of Barrington Watson.


STACEY WILKINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pictures come to life:


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: From the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood, now is the time.


WILKINS: History told through the work of Jamaican artist Barrington Watson, each canvas a story of a world leader and a life spent promoting a philosophy called pan-Africanism.

BARRINGTON WATSON, ARTIST: The idea of projecting people of African descent who have been outstanding in their principles, their philosophies and in their actions.

WILKINS: The pan-African movement got its start at the beginning of the 20th century with such noted proponents as Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois.


NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA: We are the key makers of the modern history of South Africa.


WILKINS: Later, Nelson Mandela was one who personified the pan- Africanist struggle. Imprisoned for 27 years for his fight against oppression, he became president of a new South Africa, free from apartheid.


MANDELLA: And joy that we can loudly proclaim, "free at last."


WILKINS: That earned Mandela a place in Watson's most famous work, the pan-Africanists.

(on camera): Barrington Watson's mission to unite Africans through art began 30 years ago when he was a visiting professor here at Spelman College in Atlanta.

(voice-over): The American civil rights struggle inspired Watson to use his talent to fight injustice and promote racial equality through art.

WATSON: Once people of African-American -- African descent see the images and the dignity that these people project, they will become role models.

WILKINS: This 400-year-old studio outside Kingston is where Watson creates his paintings -- paintings he hopes will keep the philosophy of pan-Africanism alive. JOSEPH JORDAN, AFRICANA CULTURE EXPERT: It's just fascinating the way that he was able to bring them to life. When you look at the paintings, you feel them as people are no longer as sort of static images in a book. They're very, very much alive.

WILKINS: A movement that began more than a century ago to link Africans around the world is gaining new momentum through one man's peaceful struggle on canvas.

Stacey Wilkins, CNN, Atlanta.


JORDAN: There are more people living in China than any other nation on Earth. And more and more, American companies are looking for ways to take advantage of its huge potential market: more than 1.2 billion people. Many Chinese are already familiar with some American imports, like fast food, movies and music. Even jazz, the only art form original to the U.S., is making inroads on the streets of Beijing.

And as Lisa Weaver reports, one of the biggest names in jazz visited there to trumpet his cause.


LISA WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has been playing to global audiences for a decade and it took that long for it to reach China, the world's biggest potential audience for America's home-grown musical form. But however large China's jazz following could become, the point now is simply to resonate with the spirit of the music.

WYNTON MARSALIS, MUSICIAN: If we reach 100 people or 100 million, it really doesn't make a difference to me. I would like to reach a lot of people, but I'm not willing to compromise the music to do that. The message in this music is just as warm and as sweet and soulful as it was when they first invented it.

WEAVER (on camera): The orchestra didn't just come to Beijing to play jazz for a Chinese audience. Instead, they came to swing with local musicians in the capital's own thriving jazz scene.

MARSALIS: One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four -- that's the two bars of C.

(voice-over): The interaction begins with teaching about musical balance and the dialogue between beat and bass. The orchestra also wants to teach local jazz musicians not to get caught up in the conventions of the form; instead, to project a musical personality. Then it's time to jam.

Liu Yuan (ph), a musician and manager of a popular jazz club, says Chinese audiences still need to figure out where jazz fits in with all the other musical forms from the West. But for now, it's enough just to tune in to the joy of jazz. Lisa Weaver, CNN, Beijing.


HAYNES: She is the best-selling doll in history. Barbie turned 41 years old this year, and although she's held up pretty well during that time, if you look closely you'll notice subtle changes. For instance, although most Barbie's are blonde, the original dolls in 1959 were brunette and blonde. Another change, Barbie didn't get bendable legs until 1965. And until 1971, her eyes looked to the right instead of straight ahead.

Well, to stay in style, her wardrobe has had to change, too. And now, thanks to some of the hottest designers in England, her look is changing once again.

Barbie is showing off her new styles at a new exhibition in London, and Christian Mahne gives us a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Barbie. Let's make some fun clothes for me to wear.

CHRISTIAN MAHNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That was the challenge set for some of the world's most progressive fashion designers. The result: the Art of Barbie exhibition. With offerings from the likes of Sonia Rykiel, Michiko Koshino and Paul Smith, Barbie has never been so well-dressed.

ALAN HAMILTON, PROUD GALLERIES: This exhibition isn't really about a toy doll, as such. I think it works on quite a few levels. I mean, we have a lot of fashion students, obviously, coming to the show because, you known, some of the most famous designers in the world have contributed to it.

MAHNE: Designer garb could be the way of things to come for Barbie. Manufacturer Mattel offers devotees the chance to build their own Barbie from the top down. And once you've got the look, perhaps it's time for a shot at the movies.


JODIE BENSON, ACTRESS: I'm tour guide Barbie.


MAHNE: But quite which movies these dolls will appear in is anyone's guess.

Christian Mahne, CNN Financial News, London.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news. HAYNES: Well, for a lot of you, May is the month you get all suited up for the big prom. You put the studies aside, say good night to your parents and you let the fun begin. Well, for some Atlanta- area teens with a disability or chronic illness, the night is even more special.


(voice-over): Eighteen-year old Heather Snyder is getting all gussied up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just have to make sure we anchor this so it will stay here all night.

HAYNES: Like millions of teenagers, she's going to her high school prom. But Heather's story is a little different than your typical teen's. A traumatic life experience sets her apart.

HEATHER SNYDER, AGE 18: I was perfectly fine and all of a sudden I had a tremendous headache. And my life could have been stopped just like that.

HAYNES: Heather suffered two major brain aneurysms that, by all accounts, should have killed her. Surgery saved her life, but now she has to attend school at home.

Tonight, Heather's aneurysm is the last thing on her mind. Having fun with her friend Jeremy is what it's all about. They're at the fourth annual Starlight Children's Foundation Prom. The dance is for kids who couldn't make it to their high school prom because of a serious illness or disability. Eighteen-year-old, Seni Lovett is a Starlight veteran. He's been coming here for the last three years and says his favorite part is dancing with all the ladies.

SENI LOVETT, AGE 18: I feel like I'm the man.

HAYNES: The Starlight Prom has all the trappings of any other high school dance: photo ops, corsages, and, of course, a DJ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys look like the train under my Christmas tree.

SNYDER: This is one night they can act normal and they can all do what everyone else is doing and they don't have to feel left out.

HAYNES: Take one look at this group and it's quite apparent the focus is on having a good time, not one's disability.

FARMER: When you're having fun, you really don't think about all the bad stuff. You try and look upon the good stuff that's happened in your life and make the best out of it.

HAYNES: And that's just what these kids are doing -- dancing, laughing -- all in a safe, comfortable environment.

ERICKA SUTTON, AGE 15: If you were to go to a high school prom, no one would more than likely be like you and you would have to, like, to find your friends or just hang out to the side. Here you can go to people and dance and so forth.

HAYNES: The Starlight Prom is more than just one night for kids to forget about their daily affliction, it's something they'll take with them and remember for a long time.


BAKHTIAR: What a great group of kids. They're having so much fun.

HAYNES: You know, that was so much fun to go to. I'll tell you, all these kids were so mature beyond their years. It was amazing. And I think their life experience had a lot to do with that. But it was a lot of fun. We had a great time.

BAKHTIAR: Yes, it looked like they were having a great time.

HAYNES: Anyway...

BAKHTIAR: All right, well, if dancing isn't your thing, maybe you'd like fencing.

HAYNES: That's right. Next week, our Shelley Walcott will introduce us to a group of young fencers, redefining the battle of the broad sword.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really different. I mean, you come up to people and they're like, so you do any sports? And I say, yes, I fence. And they're, like, fencing? What's fencing? Or the one I hate the most is when they say, oh, girls do that?


BAKHTIAR: We'll find all about it next week. In the meantime, we're about to give you the answer to the quiz you took in "Worldview."

HAYNES: Yes. In case you missed the answer in "Worldview," India is not the world's most populous nation. That distinction belongs to China.

BAKHTIAR: That's right.

HAYNES: As they all knew anyway.


BAKHTIAR: That does it for us here.

HAYNES: Listen, have a great weekend and we'll see you back here Monday.





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