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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 15, 2000

Aired May 15, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: It's Monday and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott.

In today's show: guns, moms, whales, and garbage. Find out how it all shakes down coming up.

In today's top story: Move over, dad, it was their day, and moms in Washington, D.C. were on a mission.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When a mother is trying to protect her child, I will say again and again, don't mess with us. This is mom power.


WALCOTT: Hold your nose for "Environment Desk," where we check out the consequences of a throw-away culture and what role recycling plays.


BILL SHEEHAN, GRASSROOTS RECYCLING NETWORK: What our report says is that we have a long ways to go. Recycling is plateauing.


WALCOTT: Then, "Worldview" balances the commercial needs of two countries with the environmental concerns of whale supporters. Find out which group is tipping the whale scale.

And in "Chronicle," bridging the cultural divide on a bike: using fitness to foster fellowship of man.


ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR & CYCLIST: People are very -- they see it and they're kind of like, my God. It really affects them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: In today's top story, the United States' gun policy under fire. About 500,000 demonstrators gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. yesterday as part of the Million Mom March. Their goal: to tell the U.S. government that they're tired of losing loved ones to bullets.

Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans each year. Relatives and friends of shooting victims who gathered at the rally in the U.S. capital demanded tighter control of handguns. Similar rallies were held in nearly 70 cities across the United States.

Kate Snow has more in this report.


PROTESTERS: Save our kids, save our kids, save our kids...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've all just kind of had it. We're just regular moms. And my daughter, for example, didn't want me to come today because she was afraid I'd be shot. And I told her that that was the reason I have to come is because she shouldn't have to be afraid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's too many guns. There's just too many.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their demand: what they call "sensible" gun laws.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have children. And what more do I need to say.

SNOW: They're sending Mother's Day cards to Congress telling legislators they don't want to ban guns, but they want federal laws, including gun registration, licensing and mandatory safety training.

Thousands of mothers gave up the idea of a nice Mother's Day brunch. Instead, they gathered early for an interfaith service filled with prayer. By midday, organizers were claiming half a million moms filled the National Mall. Thousands of others joined rallies in 65 cities across the country.

On the D.C. stage, political figures and celebrities.

ROSIE O'DONNELL, TV TALK SHOW HOST: For the 60 children who will be shot today, 12 of whom will be shot dead, enough is enough.

SNOW (on camera): In 1997, the latest figures available, one young person under 19 was shot and killed every two hours. That's more than 4,000 children killed in one year. Some of the women here today were their mothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm definitely marching for my son today. His death will not be in vain.

SNOW (voice-over): There were hundreds of signs on the Mall, each with a story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was Phyllis Anderson. She was killed at 52 years old.

SNOW: But just a few blocks away, different signs different stories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was I supposed to do if I didn't have a gun? You know, I couldn't run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel it was a gun saved my family.

SNOW: The Armed Informed Mothers March drew a smaller crowd. Organizers estimated 5,000. That's 100 times smaller than the main event on the Mall, but they were equally passionate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I truly believe it's my right to protect my children. If someone were to come in, I have the right to stop them.

SNOW: At times, the two groups were nearly on top of each other, both facing the nation's Capitol, each hoping to drown out the other's message to Congress.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: President Clinton urged those gathered at the Million Mom March to continue their push for tougher gun laws. He told the marchers they shouldn't be afraid to stand up to the gun lobby.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't be deterred by the political mountain you have to climb. You just remember this: There are more people who think like you in America.


WALCOTT: The president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are calling for new laws that would require child safety locks with all new handguns. They also want to close a loophole that allows the purchase of firearms at gun shows without a background check. Gun supporters say new controls on handguns would only give criminals an advantage. They want more gun safety and gun education programs.

Pierre Thomas has more on the battle over guns in the United States.


PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Columbine mass shootings which drew intense international media coverage to a single street shooting that received far less attention, the U.S. remains a violent nation despite a seven-year decline in violent crime. And firearms remain the weapons of choice. The facts: From 1990 to 1998, 118,790 people killed with firearms. Of those, 95,750 were with handguns. Over the same period, 11,502 accidental deaths by guns. And from 1990 to 1997, 147,490 people committed suicide with firearms.

KATHARINE KRAVITZ, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Just to put it in perspective, the number of deaths from traffic accidents in the United States is about 40,000 per year and the number of deaths from the use of weapons, whether accidents or homicides or suicides, is about -- is over 30,000 a year. So it's high.

THOMAS: But how does U.S. gun violence compare to other industrialized nations? A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows the U.S. rate of gun death per 100,000 was 14.2, more than three times the rate for Canada and England, and over five times the rate for Australia, and roughly 12 times the rate for Germany.

KRAVITZ: It depends on the culture and the combination of measures that one takes. And I think it's true that we have to look at our culture and recognize that we're different from the cultures of some of the other industrialized nations.

THOMAS (on camera): But cultural differences aside, the U.S. dilemma is how to balance the right to bear arms with a free but violent society where there are more than 200 million guns in circulation.

Pierre Thomas, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Remember when recycling was a new concept? Well, not that long ago, many Americans didn't think twice about throwing away an empty Coke can or putting old newspapers in the garbage. That all changed back in the late '80s and 90s. In fact, recycling rates of consumer waste jumped from about 10 percent in 1985 to nearly 30 percent in 1997. But since that big jump, rates really haven't changed much, and some experts say recycling isn't the buzzword it once was.

As Brian Nelson reports, the reasons are complicated.


BRIAN NELSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many believe the moment Americans took to recycling came in 1987 when a barge wreaking with garbage sailed out of New York Harbor. It was orphaned at sea for two months because six states and two countries refused to have the mess in their backyards.

Landfills at the time were getting squeezed by an increasing amount of garbage and by increasing political opposition to building new ones close to urban centers. Today, landfills are still in abundant supply and take most of America's waste. Incineration disposes of just 17 percent of it, and almost a third of it now is recycled. Included are 70 percent of aluminum cans, 60 percent of corrugated boxes -- recycling's two big moneymakers, along with steel.

(on camera): What that infamous garbage barge achieved was to force Americans to re-think the limits of their throw-away society and to force governments which faced nightmares of overflowing landfills and garbage in the streets to invest in recycling as the solution.

(voice-over): But in a new report, a group called the Grassroots Recycling Network sees resolve waning.

SHEEHAN: What our report says is that we have a long ways to go. Recycling is plateauing, there's some cutbacks, some corporations are breaking commitments and some local governments are thinking, well, it doesn't pay.

NELSON: The GRR says plastic recycling won't succeed without more support from an industry giant like Coke, which it singles out for backtracking on a pledge made 10 years ago when recycling was fresh in the public's mind.

SHEEHAN: There's no recycled content in this bottle; that's what I'm saying. And only a third of all plastic soda bottles in the U.S. are recycled. That means two-thirds end up as litter, as waste, in landfills or burned in incinerators.

NELSON: Coke concedes that two years ago its recycled content was zero, but it promises this year a quarter of its plastic bottles will contain 10 percent recycled plastic.

There was a time when it took a national emergency to get Americans to embrace recycling as the patriotic thing to do. They conserved resources to beat Hitler. To succeed today in the absence of a crisis, Americans may need a new rallying cry, and recycling may once again have to promise a big bang for the buck.


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: As we begin "Worldview" today, we mark the passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. He died Sunday, one month after suffering a debilitating stroke. Obuchi is largely credited with putting Japan on the path to recovery from its recession, despite expectations that he wasn't up to the job. Yoshiro Mori was sworn in last month as his successor. Keizo Obuchi was 62.

Also today in "Worldview," we circle the globe to check out the green movement. And we'll head to the oceans to whale-watch. Our sea stories take us to Norway, Japan, Kenya and the United States to find out who wants to hunt whales and who wants to save them. We'll learn about the world's exotic rainforests and a musical extravaganza that puts them in the spotlight. And you'll meet some Earth-friendly folks -- real advocates for the environment.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: The Goldman Environmental Prize has been called the Nobel Prize for environmentalists. Given annually by the San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation, the prize is a no-strings-attached award of $125,000. A panel of experts from 45 nations chooses one winner from each of the continents. The awards were established in 1989 by insurance millionaire Richard Goldman and his late wife Rhoda. Recipients are traditionally grass roots activists.

When the awards were presented this year, one winner was not on hand because he was in jail.

David George has more.


DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rodolfo Montiel Flores may be Mexico's richest political prisoner. Nearly a year after being jailed and tortured for leading a successful protest against unrestrained logging in Guerrero state, Montiel Flores has been awarded a $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.

Under the glare of international publicity, the government has agreed to review Montiel Flores' case.

There's a Goldman prize for each of six continents. From Africa, Alexander Peal is honored for helping create Liberia's first national park, preserving one of the last unspoiled rainforests in Africa.

Nat Quansah works to build respect for the medicinal properties of plants in Madagascar's rainforest. A clinic he established treats about 1,500 patients a year with a combination of modern and traditional native medicine.

From Europe comes Vera Mischenko, a Russian lawyer whose public interest legal group has kept the Kremlin towing the line on environmental issues in a country where, when there's money to be made, many laws are openly ignored.

In another former Soviet republic, Uzbekistan, physician Oral Ataniyazova works tirelessly to teach women and children how to cope with the devastating health and environmental problems created by the drying up of the Aral Sea.

And in South America, activists Oscar Rivas and Elias Diaz Pina successfully led protests that moved the mighty World Bank to cancel an ill-conceived, corruption-ridden hydroelectric project and then apologize.

Paraguayan activists, a Russian attorney, a physician from Uzbekistan, a Liberian forester, a botanist from Madagascar and an imprisoned peasant farmer from Mexico -- winners of the year 2000 Goldman Environmental Prize.

David George, CNN.


WALCOTT: You know that whales are huge sea animals that look a lot like giant fish. But did you know they differ from fish in many ways? Whales belong to a group of animals called mammals. They have a highly developed brains and are among the most intelligent of all animals. Most whales are enormous. The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived. It can grow over 100 feet or 30 meters long and can weigh more than 150 tons. That's more than 136,000 kilograms.

The conservation of whales is a key environmental issue, but some nations are keen to catch the creatures instead. In fact, two countries, Japan and Norway, are calling for more commercial hunting of the species.

Gary Strieker Explains.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In separate ballots, delegates here rejected four proposals from Japan and Norway that would have allowed commercial hunting of some whales: gray whales in the eastern North Pacific, and Minke whales in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic. After the voting, opponents of whale hunting were very pleased.

JOHN FRIZELL, GREENPEACE: The tide is going against Norway and Japan in their attempts to resume commercial whaling.

STRIEKER: An international moratorium on all commercial whaling has been in force since 1986. Japan and Norway say, under the moratorium, both gray and Minke whales have increased in numbers, that their populations are healthy and stable, and that commercial hunting of those species should be allowed.

RUNE FROVIK, HIGH NORTH ALLIANCE: And I do hope that quite soon, Norway, Iceland and Japan will engage in international trade in Minke whale meat, which they are entitled to do according to international law, according to scientists.

STRIEKER: Conservationists say both Norway and Japan have skirted the moratorium and continue to hunt whales.

CASSANDRA PHILLIPS, WORLDWIDE FUND FOR NATURE: Japan is doing scientific whaling and, of course, selling the whale meat back in Japan. And Norway is whaling under what's called an "objection" to the IWC's moratorium.

STRIEKER: But for the small whaling industries in those two countries, losing the votes was a major defeat.

PETER JOHN SCHEI, NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT: This is a blow to the small communities, villages and to the families that are dependent on this catch.

MITSUYOSHI MURAKAMI, INSTITUTE OF CETATIAN RESEARCH: I was very disappointed and we have to make more effort to get an understanding from all over the world.

STRIEKER: The whaling proposals were voted down in committee.

(on camera): With all the whaling proposals at this conference now rejected, the international moratorium on commercial whaling continues unchanged.

Gary Strieker, CNN, Nairobi.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: More on whaling, this time off the coast of North America. In April, an Indian tribe called the Makah set out on a whale hunt. The seasonal hunt is a centuries old tradition for these Native Americans, but it was stopped back in the 1920s because whalers had hunted the huge ocean mammals nearly to extinction.

The gray whale population is now back above 20,000 and its been removed from the endangered species list, so the Makah are ready to hunt again. They are the only Native American tribe with the right to hunt whales, guaranteed by treaty in 1855. And the International Whaling Commission is allowing the Makah to hunt whales through 2004, with a maximum catch of five per year.

Environmentalists oppose the hunt, saying the mighty whales are still threatened by pollution and human encroachment. The tribe says whaling is central to its culture. Members say the hunt involves rituals and ceremonies which are deeply spiritual and an important part of their social structure.

Today we look at a recent hunt.

Kevin McCartey has our report.


KEVIN MCCARTEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nearly a year, Makah whalers are once again back out on the water hunting gray whales.

KEITH JOHNSON, MAKAH TRIBL MEMBER: I finally came forward and was issued a permit, and it's a 10-day permit, and they're actively hunting the whale today, Kevin.

MCCARTEY: And while the whalers hunt, anti-whaling forces are once again trying to stop them. Coast Guard crews intercepted two personal water craft racing toward the whalers' canoe. Another boat was taken into custody for violating a 500-yard protective zone around the canoe. Two Coast Guard vessels had to physically stop that boat, bumping it at low speed. One person on board the boat claimed to have been injured during the confrontation. K. JOHNSON: Now we have these activist, not protesters -- these are activists, militant people that are willing to do anything, you know, go against federal law, for crimminy sakes.

MCCARTEY: But the anti-whaling boats seem to have little effect on the Makah team. Their problems seem to be too few whales in the water. But the Makah say this hunt and others will go on this year. New art work adorning the tribal center is a tribute to last year's successful hunt. The tribal leaders say a return to whaling has meant a lot to the Makah people.

BEN JOHNSON, MAKAH TRIBAL MEMBER: I think there's a lot of togetherness. I mean, the people, you know, pull together. I think, you know, it's proved to children that there's a lot. You know, they all want to be whalers now.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Next up in "Worldview," we head to points north and south of the equator. That's where tropical rainforests make their home. They span three main areas of the world in parts of the Americas, Africa and Asia. Tropical rainforests are the oldest major vegetation type on the terrestrial Earth. Modern tropical rainforests are a timeline of biological history. They retain many primitive plant and animal species and are monuments to biodiversity. The ancestors of humans are believed to have evolved from the rainforests of Africa. The nearest surviving relatives of humans still live there.

While rainforests have traditionally provided people with food, within the last century they have fallen prey to timber loggers and those wanting to develop commercial land. More than any other ecosystem, tropical forests are experiencing habitat alteration and species extinction on a greater scale and a more rapid pace than any time in their history.

Mark Scheerer reports on an annual event in the entertainment industry that is designed to stop the destruction.


MARK SCHEERER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who commands the kind of respect it takes to bring a glittering array of musical stars like this all together on the same Carnegie Hall stage? Trudie Styler and her husband Sting, who have been staging this annual event since shortly after they formed the Rainforest Foundation in 1989. Helping indigenous people protect their environment is the goal.

LAURIE PARISE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RAINFOREST FOUNDATION: These concerts have raised $11 million, so -- and we expect the next one to be 2.5, so we're going to be able to say 13.5 million, I hope.

SCHEERER: Rehearsals the day before brought together admirers of legends like Otis Redding with their collaborators.

BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN: That's a real thrill: turning around and asking Cropper, the original guitarist on those Stax/Volt Memphis sessions, how did Otis get out of this? And he goes, you know, he got to the five, bang, and then the drummer went, hey.

JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN: I'm getting to do some material I've always loved, and I'm getting to play with my heroes: Sam Moore and the Impressions, and Gladys Knight.

RICKY MARTIN, SINTER: In this case, it's about the planet, it's about the rainforest. It's about our temple, which is Earth.

SCHEERER (on camera): After 10 years of these concerts, though, Sting and Trudy say the time has come to take a little breather.

TRUDIE STYLER, RAINFOREST FOUNDATION: Well, I think we're going to take a break. It's not definitively the last, but it's the last for now.

SCHEERER: What a way to go out.

Mark Scheerer, CNN Entertainment News, 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 "Chronicle" today, a new story that takes a new look at the physically fit. Dozens of bikers, skaters and runners from across the United States recently took part in a cross-country tour. The starting points were San Francisco and Boston. The race wraps up in St. Louis. But many of the people who took part in the event were not exactly what you'd consider a typical athlete.

Kim hunter has more in this report.


KIM HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call themselves the face of America, dozens of athletes embarking on a journey that will take them halfway across the country. Some left from San Francisco's China Town, others from Boston's City Hall Plaza. All plan to bike, skate or run more than 2,000 miles in 22 days to promote fitness and diversity on behalf of an organization called World T.E.A.M. Sports.

ARTIE GUERERRO, CYCLIST: The main point that we're trying to stress is fitness and health, and that maybe some of the able-bodied community could take a good look at their personal health and not take it for granted.

Triathlete and Vietnam veteran Artie Guererro is paralyzed from the waist down and will be pedaling on a hand-crank bicycle, while 6- year-old Jaffa Olson (ph) will travel through big cities and back roads on the back of her father's bike.

But all of the participants know this won't be a walk in the park.

STEVE WHISNAN, DIR., WORLD T.E.A.M. SPORTS: It's a pretty grueling sports event. There'll be biking and running about 10 to 11 hours every day.

ZACK PHILLIPS, IN-LINE SKATER: Hills, heat, cold -- we have to go over the Sierra Nevadas and the Rocky Mountains, so they'll be quite a challenge.

HUNTER (on camera): Although the East and West Coast teams consist of only about 30 members each, they will be joined along the way by relay teams and stage riders, people who will complete just a portion of the course.

(voice-over): Actor and avid cyclist Robin Williams is riding about 30 miles with the West Coast group.

WILLIAMS: It's an endurance race -- the ultimate endurance race. It's amazing to see these guys in these chairs. It's quite amazing. People are very -- they see it and they're like, my God. It really affects them.

HUNTER: And that's the idea, say the athletes, who plan to complete their journey in St. Louis, Missouri on June 3. They say they aren't asking for money, just awareness that fitness brings people together from all walks of life.

Kim Hunter for CNN, San Francisco.


WALCOTT: Great example.

And that wraps up today's show. We'll see you back here tomorrow.



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