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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for August 29, 2000

Aired August 29, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome to Tuesday's NEWSROOM, everybody. Glad you're with us. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We begin with the latest on U.S. President Clinton's trip to Africa.

HAYNES: In today's top story, President Clinton warns warring factions of the consequences if they don't end the civil war in Burundi.

BAKHTIAR: In "Health Desk," stopping the violence on America's streets may mean being able to predict violent behavior.


DR. PAMELA BLAKE, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: We can see differences in a violent brain. The frontal lobe in particular has been found on very sensitive MRI studies to be smaller in people with violent tendencies.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," the threat of smallpox is back as a biological weapon.


MIKE OSTERHOLM, INFECTIOUS CONTROL ADVISORY NETWORK: A biologic terrorism event will happen. I have absolutely no doubt about that. And I say that with all the hope that I'm wrong.





BAKHTIAR: On your mark, get set -- not so fast: cutting back on phys. ed. in U.S. high schools. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYAN MCCULLICK, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: The first thing when schools and administrators are looking to make more time or to free up more funds is to cut the P.E. program.


HAYNES: We focus first today on a trip to Africa by the United States president. Mr. Clinton was in Tanzania yesterday where he hoped to watch to warring factions in Burundi sign a peace deal. He joined former South African President Nelson Mandela in urging leaders of the Hutus and Tutsis to end seven years of ethnic warfare.

Since fighting began in 1993, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed or displaced.

We begin our coverage of the talks with some background now from Catherine Bond.


CATHERINE BOND, CNN NAIROBI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The reopening of the Burundi peace talks in Sadbury (ph) by their mediator, South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela. With 19 parties from Burundi's Tutsi minority and Hutu majority taking part, President Clinton addressed the conference hall via a live satellite link. Seven months later, Mr. Mandela has invited Mr. Clinton to witness this time in person what Mr. Mandela hopes will be the signing of parts of a peace deal aimed at ending seven years of civil war.

The war began when Tutsi soldiers murdered Burundi's first Hutu president. An estimated 200,000 people, both Hutu and Tutsi, have died, often in ethnic killings, some described by the United Nations as genocide.

Fighting between the mostly Tutsi and mostly Hutu rebels comes close to the Burundian capital of Bujumbura. In an attempt to push it back, President Pierre Buyoya's government last year forced about 350,000 farmers and their families out of their homes into camps around the capital. One rebel group says it wants to negotiate directly with the government, but won't until these camps are closed.

Some rebel groups and some political parties say they're not ready to sign a peace accord in full because of crucial disagreements.

AHMEDOU OULD ABDULLAH, GLOBAL COALITION FOR AFRICA: When people think that their very physical survival is at stake, we need a bold action not to negate, but I'm not afraid to say to impose peace.

BOND: Lingering disagreements include the timing of a proposed cease-fire, formation of a new army, and choice of who will head a transitional government.

So mediators say delegates have agreed on more than 100 issues. The 19 parties recently split along ethnic lines into two main groupings: the so-called pro-Tutsi G-10 and pro-Hutu G-7, the sticking point not peace but power sharing.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Abuja.


BAKHTIAR: The Burundi peace talks held in Tanzania was President Clinton's next to last stop on his African tour. He was hoping to observe the signing of a peace treaty at the invitation of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Rather than offer congratulations, both of them ended up offering admonitions.

John King is traveling with President Clinton and has this report.



JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They entered smiling, a picture designed to project power and prestige. But before long, both the former South African president and the U.S. leader were voicing their disappointment.

NELSON MANDELA, FMR. SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We have a section of the leadership who do not care for the slaughter of innocent people inside Burundi, who never think in terms of money, who do not appreciate the generosity of the international community.

KING: This was to be a signing ceremony for a comprehensive peace accord to end the seven years of deadly civil strife in Burundi. Instead, an interim agreement was on the table and some parties to the talks were refusing even to sign that. It left unresolved the critical obstacles to peace: arrangements for a cease-fire, and agreement on a transitional government, and a return to democracy.

President Clinton pleaded with the parties to lock in the progress they have made so far and then get to work on the major issues. And he warned of the consequences if some parties refused to sign and even the interim agreement proves worthless.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you don't do it, what is the chance that the progress you have made will unravel? If you come back in five or 10 years, will the issues have changed? I think not. The gulf between you won't narrow, but the gulf between Burundi and the rest of the world, I assure you, will grow wider if you let this moment slip away.

KING: The civil war began in 1993 when Tutsi paratroopers ousted the democratically elected Hutu president. More than 200,000 have been killed, more than a million displaced from their homes.

Mr. Clinton could not hide his disappointment, but U.S. officials rushed to make the case that he was not to blame for the failure of the talks. Aides stress Mr. Clinton took no direct role in the negotiations and they say he came mostly out of respect for Mr. Mandela. John King, CNN, Arusha, Tanzania.


HAYNES: Religious leaders from around the world are making headlines today. Rabbis, monks, ministers and others are gathering in New York City to attend a peace summit at the United Nations. They're trying to resolve conflicts that divide countries. But some of those conflicts are threatening their own meeting.

Frank Buckley explains.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dramatic display of diversity opened the Millennium World Peace Summit of religious and spiritual leaders, the leaders answering the call to participate in what organizers see as an opportunity to examine whether religion can be used to support the peacemaking aims of the United Nations.

BAWA JAIN, SUMMIT SECRETARY-GENERAL: We have to ask a fundamental question: What role does religion have to play in helping resolve these conflicts or, on the other extreme, exacerbating these conflicts? Can religions play a role in the peace-making process?

BUCKLEY: One religious leader who is not here, the Dalai Lama, at the request of China, at odds with the Tibetan Buddhist leader. That inspired a small group of protesters and a letter from Bishop Desmond Tutu, who suggested the U.N. was "caving in to pressure from the government of China." "If this is so," he wrote, " it totally undermines the integrity of the United Nations and the credibility of the summit."

Organizers said a Tibetan delegation without the Dalai Lama would participate. And U.N. officials said that they were only providing facilities for the event, not sponsoring it.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: It would have been preferable if everybody were here. But I think to have three representatives of the Dalai Lama participate, along with other 1,000 religious leaders in this house to talk about peace, to talk about the role religion can play in our search for peace, I think is progress.

BUCKLEY: Leaders will also have a rare opportunity to meet face to face. One goal of the summit: the creation of a religious and spiritual advisory council to the United Nations.

(on camera): Organizers say what they don't want to do is to create an expression of their highest aspirations. Instead, they hope to gather a collection of commitments from the world's religious and spiritual leaders, who will return to their respective regions and engage in action to promote peace.

Frank Buckley, CNN, United Nations.


BAKHTIAR: As the new school year in the United States gets under way, there is a sad reality many students will have to consider. In a recent study, the American Psychological Association found one in 12 high schoolers in the U.S. is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. The study also found people between the ages of 12 and 24 face the highest risk of being the victim of violence.

Neuroscientists say new research could help them pinpoint which kids are prone to violent behavior.

Eileen O'Connor reports.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many experts say stopping the violence on America's streets and in its schools depends on the ability to predict violent behavior. Researchers writing in this week's journal "Science" say several studies show brains of people prone to impulsive, violent behavior often have frontal lobe damage affecting their ability to process serotonin, a mood regulator, and their ability to inhibit emotions like anger and aggression.

BLAKE: We can see differences in the violent brain. The frontal lobe, in particular, has been found on very sensitive MRI studies to be smaller in people with violent tendencies.

O'CONNOR: Dr. Pamela Blake is a neurologist at Georgetown University Hospital. She says this research is important in enabling doctors to look at physical traits in the brains of children already exhibiting improper behavior and perhaps treat them with therapy and drugs to help them process serotonin.

BLAKE: Psychological testing can be done to see how well the frontal lobes are working, and you need to know if a child has frontal lobe impairment, that this is a child who is at-risk.

O'CONNOR: Dr. Steven Hyman, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, cautions even this research shows frontal lobe damage may be the result of both genetics and environment: nature and nurture.

DR. STEVEN HYMAN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH: Violence, like most complex behavior, is not due to a single factor. There are other really critical factors, like the peer group that you're in.

O'CONNOR: Many of the murderers studied with these abnormalities were also victims of abuse.

BLAKE: It's something that can really have a major role in, I think, changing the circuits of how the brain develops.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Experts point out the only way this research helps doctors prevent violence is if society is willing to spend the time and money it takes to diagnose and treat those at risk as early as childhood.

(voice-over): And with the potential for incorrectly labeling the innocent, no one is yet ready to propose that.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: This December, CNN NEWSROOM will delve a little deeper into the minds of young people. This is NEWSROOM's Shelley Walcott. I'll have a two-part series on the teen brain and explain why scientists say the adolescent mind is a work in progress.


DR. JAY GEIDD, NEUROSCIENTIST: Well, it used to be thought that the brain didn't change very much after about the age of 3 or 4. But by studying teens, we now know that the teenage brain is changing very dramatically and very dynamically.


WALCOTT: That's coming up in December on NEWSROOM.

HAYNES: In "Worldview," a health hazard that has experts around the world concerned. It's a frightening story on a dangerous disease. And this word of warning: Teachers may want to pre-screen this report.

BAKHTIAR: Most likely, you've never had a vaccination for smallpox. But once upon a time, it was commonplace. Back in 1980, the World Health Organization announced smallpox had been eliminated and vaccinations throughout the world were stopped.

Smallpox was the first disease conquered by human beings. But before it was wiped out, it was one of the most feared diseases around the globe. During the Middle Ages, epidemics swept across Asia, Europe and Africa. In some wars, more soldiers died from smallpox than from combat.

The Europeans brought smallpox to America where it killed millions of Indians. Now the threat is back.

As Garrick Utley reports, there is new evidence the disease could be used as a biological weapon. And a disease out of sight and out of mind for over two decades would not be easily recognizable.

Teachers might want to pre-screen this report.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We see what terrorists can do with explosives, with bombs that bring down buildings, that ignite carnage, that consume lives.

But imagine a terrorist weapon more dangerous than any explosive, thousands of times more deadly in the hands of a Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden or Ted Kaczynski, a weapon so small that you can't see it at first, a biological weapon: smallpox.

The disease has been eradicated, but not the smallpox virus, which was originally preserved in laboratories in the United States and Russia solely for research reasons, but now may have been obtained for other purposes by nations such as North Korea and Iraq.

OSTERHOLM: A biologic terrorism event will happen. I have absolutely no doubt about that, and I say that with all the hope that I'm wrong.

UTLEY: There are several potential biological killers, including anthrax and plague. But Mike Osterholm, who runs the Infectious Control Advisory Network, is most worried about smallpox.

OSTERHOLM: Without a doubt, smallpox is by far the most serious of all the weapons. The fact that smallpox is able to be transmitted as a second, third, fourth round after the initial hit, it's like the bomb that keeps going off.

RICHARD PRESTON, "THE NEW YORKER": Ounce for ounce, gram for gram, smallpox is far more dangerous than plutonium.

UTLEY: Richard Preston, of "The New Yorker" magazine, has investigated and written about smallpox.

PRESTON: It is highly contagious. It travels through the air. One person infected with smallpox can easily infect 20 to 30 more people.

UTLEY (on camera): And that's how it spreads.

PRESTON: It spreads like wildfire.

UTLEY (voice-over): And the effects are deadly. First, the victim's skin essentially explodes, then internal hemorrhaging follows.

Consider this: In the 20th century, it was estimated that 120 million people died in wars or as a result of wars. In the same century, more than 500 million people died of smallpox.

D.A. HENDERSON, PROF., JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV.: Smallpox was probably the most greatly feared of all the diseases that we have.

UTLEY: D.A. Henderson led the worldwide effort against smallpox in the 1970s. The last reported case was in Somalia in 1977. He has seen what this disease can do.

HENDERSON: There was no treatment that was possible, and it spread in every country, in every climate. Eventually, everyone either contracted smallpox and lived or died.

UTLEY: In 1796, an effective smallpox vaccine was developed in England by Edward Jenner, yet it was nearly two centuries until the disease was finally eradicated. When that was achieved, the vaccinations stopped.

By the late 1970s, smallpox was out of sight and out of most people's minds. That was until Ken Alibek defected to the United States in 1992. A high-level scientist in the Soviet Union's bioweapons program, Alibek revealed that the Soviets had realized there was no longer any protection against smallpox and decided to turn the virus into a weapon.

KEN ALIBEK, AUTHOR, "BIOHAZARD": Sometime in '80s, they had up to 20 tons of stockpiled biological weapons.

UTLEY (on camera): Twenty tons?

ALIBEK: Twenty tons.

UTLEY: That would be enough to do what?

ALIBEK: It's difficult to calculate, but I would say for destroying such a city like New York it be would be enough to have several hundred liters of this weapon.

UTLEY: And there are 20 tons.

ALIBEK: There were 20 tons.

UTLEY (voice-over): In his book "Biohazard," Alibek writes that although the Soviet Union played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox, although the Soviets agreed in 1972 to stop biochemical weapons research and production, the smallpox weapons program continued in secret, even during Mikhail Gorbachev's proclaimed openness and reforms, and may even be continuing today.

ALIBEK: In my opinion, what I believe, Russia is still not honest. The Russian military still has four biological weapons facilities as top-secret facilities.

HENDERSON: And needless to say, I feel anger and disappointment with our Soviet colleagues. We all worked together to get rid of this disease, and then to have them do what they did, I find this unconscionable.

UTLEY (on camera): There's great concern that these biological weapons, above all, smallpox, could get out of Russian control, get into the hands of someone such as a terrorists and be used. To what extent do you consider this to be a real, a clear and present danger?

ALIBEK: In my opinion, it's a clear and present danger. A lot of terrorist organizations, many so-called "old countries," realize that biological weapons could be the weapons of choice just to commit some terrorist attacks.

OSTERHOLM: A number of years ago, when this first became an issue, there were those of us in the public health community who were very reluctant to talk about this because we didn't want to incite something, we didn't want to give the bad guys information. Well, we found out the bad guys all had it, that we were the ones that didn't really know about it.

UTLEY (on camera): If you were infected with smallpox virus today, you probably would have a bad cough, run a fever and develop a rash and go to your doctor or a hospital's emergency room for treatment. Unfortunately, the doctor, no matter how competent, would almost certainly never have seen a case of smallpox, and most likely would diagnose it as the flu.

HENDERSON: Then there would be some small lesions on the skin and you wouldn't be sure what they were, for maybe two, three, four days.

PRESTON: Could be measles, it could be a little itch, it could be anything. But then the rash just gets worse and worse and worse until the skin on the body just bubbles up with enormous "pustuals" that look like blisters.

HENDERSON: And then in two, three, four days, you begin to see -- it becomes evident that this wasn't chickenpox, it wasn't a drug rash, had to be smallpox.

UTLEY: And you'd be scared.

HENDERSON: We'd be terrified, because each of those individuals, then, is in a position to transmit it to another group of people.

UTLEY (voice-over): That is why in this era of more open borders and increased travel, public health experts are so worried about smallpox.

OSTERHOLM: To be able to move smallpox simply means to have a device within a writing ink pen that could very easily pass in any customs office, could very easily pass through any metal detector, and you can have enough smallpox in there to start the world's first epidemic.

HENDERSON: It could quickly evaporate into the air and then it would begin to drift. The individuals would breathe this in, you wouldn't smell it, you wouldn't know it was there.

OSTERHOLM: If a smallpox virus release were to occur today in any mall in the world, if it were to occur in any airport, it would be two weeks before we'd have our first evidence that that was occurring, and those people would be like dandelion seeds in the wind -- they'd be all over. Each of them now is as infectious as that first initial hit was.

DR. JEFFREY KOPLAN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: I would not put smallpox on my list of daily -- on everyone else's list of daily worries.

UTLEY: Dr. Jeffrey Koplan is the director of the federal agency the Centers for Disease Control. Early in his career, he treated smallpox.

KOPLAN: We need to keep in mind that smallpox is treatable; not treatable as a disease, but preventable. And in the early stages of the disease, the vaccine can be effective in aborting an outbreak.

UTLEY: Twenty years ago, a terrorist smallpox attack on the United States or any industrialized nation would have had little impact because everyone was inoculated against it. Today, virtually no one is. And those of us who were are most likely no longer immune.

The United States has, at most, 15 million doses of vaccine, not nearly enough, public health authorities say, to combat a serious outbreak of the disease.

KOPLAN: We're doing some studies now to see whether we can extend that to a larger number of usable doses. Nevertheless, I think, for the long term, we would probably want to have on stock a somewhat larger repository.

HENDERSON: I think many of us feel that if we had somewhere between 100 million and 130 million doses, that we would be well- prepared to deal with any situation.

KOPLAN: Producing smallpox vaccine is a high priority for us. And, indeed, we just recently put out a request for companies to send us proposals to produce vaccine. We would have to produce new vaccine, and there's no vaccine manufacturing company currently producing vaccine, so we're talking about a couple of years or maybe a few more than that.

OSTERHOLM: The vaccine issue is a sad state of affairs in this country. We have been talking about this issue since the mid-1990s, and in a very high level, knowing very well that every day that we wasted on not get getting more vaccine produced is one more day that we were very vulnerable.

UTLEY: Behind the debate over what to do about a potential smallpox threat are the reminders of what that threat, the disease, once meant, and the awareness of how the current danger might have been avoided. When smallpox disappeared, the last remaining viruses in laboratories could have been destroyed, too. They were not.

PRESTON: There was a golden moment there. At that time, if they had gone and they had said, let's just destroy our smallpox, it might well have been done. Now the opportunity is lost, and I feel that smallpox is here to stay.

OSTERHOLM: If there's even a potential that smallpox is going to get out, that will be a Pandora's Box that we will never, ever forget.

KOPLAN: And It's hard to imagine someone with enough evil intent to want to do that to other people, but we live in a real world and evil things are happening all the time, and we need to be prepared for it.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news. BAKHTIAR: Whether you love it or hate it, you may not have to think about it anymore. In many high schools around the United States, physical education, better known as P.E., is going away.

Why are schools cutting back on phys. ed. programs? Brian Cabell as the answer in this look at "Our World."



BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a sight increasingly uncommon across Georgia these days. Students are no longer required by state law to take any physical education from grades K-8. For high schoolers, the P.E. requirement is only one semester in four years.

MCCULLICK: The first thing when schools and administrators are looking to make more time or to free up more funds is to cut at the P.E. program.

CABELL: It is a nationwide trend. Only Illinois still requires P.E. from grades K-12. Only Alabama and Washington require it from K- 8. Individual schools and districts can establish their own requirements, but many administrators and parents have made it clear: They want students spending more time on academics and less on P.E.

LINDA SCHRENKO, GEORGIA SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: Maybe for a while we mandated and stressed it too much, but now we've gone completely in the other direction and we're not offering it at all. And somehow we've got to balance in the middle, some common sense.

CABELL: Common sense and doctors tell you that less activity leads to more obesity. Twice as many kids are overweight today compared to 30 years ago. It can also lead to heart attacks in later life.

JAMES O'DONNELL, P.E. TEACHER: I mean, academics are important. We know that. But we also know -- and it's backed up by all kinds of data -- on how important it is for a person, the physical side of a person.

CABELL: Many parents have compensated for the lack of P.E. by involving their children in after-school sports, but there's an inequity there. Not all children have access or money for such programs. They depend on school for their physical education.

(on camera): There is one way to both mandate physical education and allow more academic study. That's by extending the school day. But that would cost more money, something taxpayers might balk at.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: You know, that's a real shame getting rid of phys. ed. HAYNES: Well, I'm just glad I don't have to wear those orange shorts anymore.

BAKHTIAR: What orange shorts?

HAYNES: Come on.

BAKHTIAR: Anyway, with that, we'll call it a show.

HAYNES: See you tomorrow, everybody.




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