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NEWSROOM for October 23, 2000

Aired October 23, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome, everybody. I'm Tom Haynes and this is your Monday edition of CNN NEWSROOM. Here's the rundown.

We get started in the Middle East with the dramatic results from a summit of Arab leaders.

Then, what species could be headed for extinction? Find out in today's "Environment Desk."

Hold your breath: We go underwater in "Worldview."


SYLVIA EARLE, EXPLORER IN RESIDENCE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY: We've learned more about the ocean in the last half century than during all preceding history.


HAYNES: We end by tracking the deadly trail of the Ebola virus.

Another blow to the Middle East peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak calls for a "timeout" in peace talks after Arab leaders end their weekend meeting in Egypt with a strong criticism of Israel.

Arab leaders wrapped up an emergency summit in Cairo, Egypt, called because of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. The group called for a war crimes tribunal to investigate Israel's handling of the unrest. But leaders stopped short of ordering Arab states to sever ties with Israel.

The Arab League is a regional organization of Arab states in the Middle East. It was formed in 1945 by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan, which is now Jordan. Since that time, the league has expanded to 22 members. Its goals include strengthening and coordinating the political, cultural, economic and social programs of its members, and mediating disputes between them or between them and outside parties.

Still, the league has had its internal disputes. In 1979, for example, Egypt was suspended from the Arab League after signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Shortly after the Cairo summit ended Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak reaffirmed his plan to reassess the peace process. Israeli officials say it doesn't mean negotiations are over, but Palestinians have their doubts.

Rula Amin will have more on the Palestinian reaction to this weekend's development in just a minute, but first Jerrold Kessel takes a look at Israel's point of view.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After night falls Sunday on Jerusalem's southeastern outskirts, shots fired into an Israeli neighborhood. No casualties, but residents point to where bullets penetrated into bedrooms and living rooms. Israel returned fire from machine guns atop tanks into the neighboring Palestinian town of Bethlehem, the origin, Israel says, of the shooting. Later, the Israeli army says, helicopter gunships were also used.

Continuing clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. A Gaza family mourns after seeing their 14-year-old son among at last four Palestinians shot and killed Sunday; a deadly backdrop to a new argument between Israelis and Palestinians after the Cairo summit: who remains committed to peace and who is trying to destroy it.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Israel rejects out of hand the language of threats that came out of the summit and condemns the call for the continuation of violence, which was implicit in the decisions. We call on the Palestinians to respect their commitments to end the violence, to end the incitement, and to allow a chance for common mutual coexistence before continued violence leads to a deterioration, the results of which cannot be foreseen.

KESSEL: At the same time, however, Prime Minister Barak is reconfirming that Israel will take what he called a "timeout" from the peace process.

GILAD SHER, SENIOR BARAK ADVISER: Of course there is a need for a timeout. Look, something happened here. For the last three weeks, we have been reacting to violence and lynch and other intolerable deeds of the Palestinians, and we have seen the Sharm el-Sheikh summit ending with obligations taken by the Palestinians, but never, never fulfilled.

HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN COUNCIL MEMBER: It's very clear that Israel suspended the peace process per se, and that's despite the moderation of the Arab world, because it has no interest in peace. I think it's become very clear that the process which the U.S. so clearly wanted as an end unto itself, rather than peace being the end, is no longer operable or operative. It's no longer there.

KESSEL: Pointedly, though, Mr. Barak declined to elaborate for his ministers when his planned suspension of peacemaking will take affect and for how long. But he did confirm again that he's intent on creating an alliance with Ariel Sharon to bring the hard-line, right wing opposition into an emergency government.

(on camera): Sources close to Prime Minister Barak say the inclusion of Ariel Sharon's Likud in an emergency government could be wrapped up within two days, but Mr. Sharon is still insisting that the prime minister abandon his peace proposals advanced at the Camp David summit in the summer. So far, for all his talk of a timeout, Mr. Barak has not gone that far.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.



RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yasser Arafat's return to Gaza from the Arab summit four hours after the Israeli prime minister declared a timeout in the peace process with the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat says he's not surprised.

"This is not the first time he has done it," Arafat said, referring to Mr. Barak. "I warned you six months ago and you didn't believe me," Mr. Arafat said.

QUESTION: What is your response?

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: My response is our people as continuing their road to Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state. To accept or not to accept, let him go to hell.

AMIN: On Gaza streets, Palestinian demonstrators sent Mr. Barak a similar message. They plan to continue their uprising, the intifada, in spite of all Mr. Barak's threats, they say.

Every day, there are less and less people here who believe that the Israeli prime minister is serious about making peace with them, including some of the key Palestinian negotiators.

MUHAMMED DAHLAN, CHIEF OF PALESTINIAN SECURITY (through translator): From the very beginning, we believed Barak didn't want peace. This decision of his has killed whatever had been left of the peace process, which should have been an Israeli interest, not only a Palestinian one.

YASSER ABED RABBU, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: He doesn't have the right to do that. And in spite of the peaceful message of the Arab summit today, his response was negative. This will add more fuel to the situation here.

AMIN: There is concern among Palestinian officials here that Mr. Barak's decision will only enhance the position of those who oppose any kind of peace negotiations with Israel.

The leader of the Islamic movement Hamas agrees. He says Israel's policies are making his mission to recruit people much easier. MAHMOUD AL-ZAHAR, HAMAS LEADER: Everybody now is evaluating the condition. Hamas from the beginning said Israelis are not willing real peace. And now that was proved after nine years, So we are not here to say, yes, we were right and they are wrong. Now how we are going, the question is how to organize our activities against the occupation.

AMIN: During the last few years, Mahmoud Al-Zahar was arrested more than once by the Palestinian Authority for fear he was planning attacks against Israel. Now Al-Zahar says he feels safe, as the Palestinian authority itself needs to worry about how to protect itself from Israel.

Rula Amin, CNN, Gaza.


HAYNES: In today's "Environment Desk," we examine endangered species around the world. Thousands" of species of plants and animals could soon become a memory.

Now, you probably already know a lot about endangered species, but did you know that species toward the top of the food chain are in greater danger than those at the lower end? That's because lower organisms generally produce a lot of offspring while higher organisms have fewer. For example, some over-hunted species of primates. It's much harder for, say, monkeys to repopulate than an insect.

But many species, not just monkeys, are at risk.

David George explains why.


DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elephants, tigers, gorillas are here today but could be gone tomorrow. That's according to one of the world's most comprehensive assessments of biodiversity, the World Conservation Union's Red List.

In the first update of the list in four years, the group paints a bleak picture. More than 11,000 species face a high risk of extinction in the near future: 5,400 animals and 5,600 plants. Included are some of the usual suspects, like rhinos and orangutans, but there are some surprises.

Six primate species joined the list due to the bush meat trade in parts of Asia and Africa. Not surprising is the primary cause cited for the near extinctions: humans. Some of the culprits include commercial fishing, the use of threatened and endangered species in Asian medicine, and habitat loss due to deforestation, farming and urban sprawl.

The Red List offers some possible solutions, such as increasing the global commitment of manpower and money for habitat protection and biodiversity research. Scientists still don't know how many plants and animals exist, but the report says if this trend continues, many critical species could go extinct before they're even discovered.

David George, CNN.


HAYNES: In "Environment Desk," we learned how many species go extinct even before they're discovered. Well, in "Worldview" we take you to another unexplored world: the oceans. Our undersea odyssey starts in just a second. First, we kick off United Nations Week here on NEWSROOM. All week long, we'll examine the role and goal of this international group.

The United Nations is trying to restore its tarnished image. The organization which today has 189 member countries was established back in 1945, just after the end of World War II, to ensure that fighting on that scale would never happen again. In the decades since, U.N. peacekeeping forces have had their share of success. In fact, in 1988 they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to control military conflict in the Middle East and Elsewhere.

But that reputation has taken a beating in recent years as U.N. peacekeepers have been unable to prevent numerous massacres, especially in Africa. Now the U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to overhaul its peacekeeping operations, operations harshly criticized in a report by international experts.

Richard Roth has the story.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the United Nations, the datelines say it all: Rwanda, Bosnia, Srebrenica, Sierra Leone. U.N. troops were there, but they are places where mistakes in judgment and performance costs thousands of lives and damaged the image of the U.N.

A new report turned over to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says it's time to overhaul the way the U.N. manages peacekeeping. Over the last decade, the report says, the U.N. has repeatedly failed to live up to its own lofty goals.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N. PEACEKEEPING PANEL: Make sure that before you send the U.N., you understand what the situation is, what the implications are, and you go there with your eyes open.

ROTH: Diplomats eyes were rolling after the last peacekeeping nightmare in Sierra Leone. It took weeks to free hundreds of U.N. hostages. The international authors of the report say the Security Council should not vote for these operations without firm troop commitments. The report says rapid deployment for brewing crises should mean troops on the ground within 90 days.

BRIAN ATWOOD, U.N. PEACEKEEPING PANEL: If the United Nations continues to operate with inadequate resources, poorly trained and equipped personnel and an understaffed headquarters, it will continue to embarrass member states. ROTH: The report says U.N. members should be ready to offer 5,000 troops within months for emergencies.

BRAHIMI: What we are telling the council, you know, OK, don't send the United Nations if you don't want to. But if you send it, send it with the right tools.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Getting the United Nations the tools it needs is the point of a U.N. partnership with private business. Its goal, to pool resources to bring help to impoverished regions more quickly and efficiently.

The United Nations is more than a peacekeeping force. It also has a humanitarian mission.

Richard Roth returns to report on a pilot program which puts technology at the forefront and the fingertips of this mission.


ROTH (voice-over): Natural disaster in Mozambique. Relief workers battle time and the elements to get to victims. Earthquake in Turkey, a race to reach survivors where seconds make a difference. But humanitarian agencies say lives are often lost because of poor phones or no phones for workers in the field.

ROGER BRACHE, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE RED CROSS: Partly that is due to the lack of financial resources to purchase those items. But it's also true to say that we very often lack the understanding of technology.

ROTH: Now, in an unprecedented partnership with private business, the United Nations has joined with Swiss telecom giant Ericsson to provide cellular and satellite phones within 24 hours of a disaster.

LARS STALBERT, CORP. PUBLIC AFFAIRS, ERICSSON: We can really contribute something when natural disasters happen because we have the expertise and we have the equipment.

ROTH: It's helping the resource-starved U.N. benefits from private sector innovation.

JOHN GAGE, SUN MICROSYSTEMS: All of those that build the telecommunication industry, that build these small devices, are bringing these devices into the market at a speed which is incomprehensible at the pace of change in perception of government. How do we move ahead?

ROTH: Ericsson could be a trailblazer. He's donating equipment and volunteers for emergencies.

CAROLYN MCASKIE, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: Take a disaster like Turkey, for example, that when you have an earthquake and the wires are down, our disaster response teams working with them could immediately set up a telecommunications system that would mean that you could communicate better, you could share information better, you could get to the victims faster.

ROTH: Global corporations like joining with a world institution devoted to peace and human rights.

STALBERG: Consumers, our customers and investors are looking at companies and their profiles in terms of what is their social responsibility role. Today that's growing.

ROTH: But should a private company be allowed to fund a U.N. initiative boosting its public image? People on the front lines welcome the help.

BRACHE: If indeed the world is a global village, then we all have responsibilities. And we all, that means the U.N., the humanitarian agencies, but also the business world.

ROTH: The U.N. will have to be careful to avoid associating with for-profit motives. But for those clinging to life, there can be little debate.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: It is impossible to fully grasp the vastness of the world's oceans. Combined, they cover more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of all its water. The largest, of course, is the Pacific. It covers about 70 million square miles. That alone is enough space to hold all the world's continents.

Near the equator, the Pacific stretches about 15,000 miles, or 24,000 kilometers, from east to west. It's average depth is about 13,000 feet. The deepest spot is near the island of Guam at more than 36,000 feet, or more than 11,000 meters below sea level.

To put that in perspective, if you set Mount Everest on that spot, it would still be covered with more than one mile of water. Does this vastness give us a false sense of security? Do oceans have an limitless capacity to handle the pressures of humanity? Leading experts tackle those questions in this unique look under the sea.


BOB BALLARD, UNDERWATER EXPLORER: We have explored very little of our planet. Most of our planet is unexplored, particularly the Southern Hemisphere where most of the world's oceans are situated. We haven't even done the Lewis and Clark expeditions in the deep sea that we did on land in the 1800s. In fact, the next generation of ocean explorers will explore more of Earth than all previous generations combined.

EARLE: We've learned more about the ocean in the last half century than during all preceding history. And yet during the same period of time, more change has been brought about in the ocean, and change not really for the good because of what we've been putting in and what we've been taking out. There's real cause for hope, but only if we take action right now.

The biggest problem comes from the commercial-scale taking of large factory ships that, all together, take hundreds of millions of tons of wildlife from the sea over the past several decades. Actually, the total catch for a single year, presently, is nearly 100 million tons. How this affects us, ultimately, of course, is an open question. But one thing is for sure: To the extent that we influence and alter the nature of the ocean, we're monkeying around with our life support system.

It's not just water, although water is critical to life. It's the single non-negotiable thing that life requires, and most of it on this water-blessed planet is in the sea. But we have changed the chemistry of the oceans through what we have allowed to flow into the sea. You know, we treat the ocean as the ultimate sewer. We think if we don't want it on the land then let's put it in the ocean. And the illusion has been, the feeling has been that the sea is so vast, so resilient that there isn't much we can do to harm it. We're learning otherwise right now, and that represents a turning point.

We're beginning to see it as astronauts have seen the Earth, as one small, mostly blue planet, and that the connectedness, the way that we all are tied together and that we are tied to nature, and that nature has its roots in the ocean.

If we destroy or undermine the health of the environment, and that means the ocean environment most fundamentally -- it's where most of the environment on Earth is, after all -- then we are undermining our own future. And we are beginning to understand the relevance of the ocean to our everyday lives; and what we do to the ocean, we do to ourselves.


HAYNES: In "Chronicle" today, an intense look at a frightening and deadly virus. The Ebola virus was first discovered in the mid- 1970s. It takes its name from the Ebola River in northern Congo. Where it first emerged. Of the more than 1,000 cases reported since it was discovered, about 800 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.

Now there's a new outbreak in Uganda. In the last two weeks, 149 people have gotten the disease and more than 50 have died. The cases have been concentrated in a part of the country known as the Gulu District, a six-hour drive from Uganda's capital, Kampala.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault was there and filed this report.


CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was one of Uganda's worst nightmares, striking with sudden and horrifying fury, claiming the young, the old, men, women. It was Ebola, a name synonymous with death, a viral fever that kills between 80 and 90 percent of its victims within two weeks, but not before they suffer high fever, dehydration, vomiting and the phenomenon unique to Ebola, bleeding from every orifice. There's no vaccine or known cure.

With little known of its origin but with mounting evidence of its spread, the Ugandan government went into action as the first cases began emerging in Gulu District. At Least 10 people a day with Ebola- like symptoms were said to be presenting at hospitals, many too late for anything but small comfort in their final hours.

Government health workers joined community leaders, the Ugandan military and the media, mobilizing to get out the word, Ebola is here, contracted by contact with bodily fluids: blood, spit, vomit, even sweat; suspend the custom of washing the dead, followed by communal hand washing, thought be a major source of the spread of the virus.

(on camera): The government is now concentrating its efforts on prevention. These small medical teams are going from village to village and door to door with simple messages: Wear rubber gloves when you're in crowds, wear masks. But also messages that are even simpler than that; messages like, don't shake your neighbors hand, don't go to church, don't congregate in small crowds, stay at home, mind your own business and be very, very careful.

(voice-over): In various ways, they took other messages to the people of Gulu: If you have any symptoms or have come in contact with anyone with symptoms -- high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration -- report to the hospital immediately. Symptoms treated early can be treated. If late, it's too late.

CHRISTUS KIYONGO, UGANDA HEALTH MINISTER: Of course, when you have a disease like this which kills at such high rates, every human being will get scared. So you need an organization or system which boosts the morale in everybody.

HUNTER-GAULT: It may not have boosted morale, but as the word got out, it bolstered the government's message. Residents of Gulu began staying in, refusing to even perform one of their most important cultural rites, the burial of loved ones, leaving the task to the hospital workers who brought the bodies and unceremoniously buried them.

International agencies like the World Health Organization moved in early with support and supplies, especially simple household disinfectant and body bags, later joined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, arriving with refrigerators for preserving specimens and a mobile laboratory.

PIERRE ROLLIN, VIROLOGIST, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: We're going to collect specimen to confirm the diagnostic of Ebola in the different patients that are hospitalized and the ones that's going to be brought in because they suspect it.

HUNTER-GAULT: An important step, given the importance of accurate counts of victims and an early-on tendency of lumping anyone with Ebola-like symptoms as an Ebola victim, when, in fact, some of the symptoms resemble malaria and other infectious diseases in the region.

At this point, experts believe they'll probably find more victims as they penetrate deeper into remote areas; people who either didn't get the word or got it too late. At the same time, they're convinced that even if the numbers go up, it will be the result of old rather than new cases. That is the scientific assessment and the human hope.

Still, government officials, veterans of an AIDS epidemic they ultimately reined in, are encouraging people not to be complacent.

KIYONGA: They should not just go to sleep and think there is nothing. They must watch out, for we didn't expect the disease to be in Gulu. It could be anywhere else.

HUNTER-GAULT: But for now, the problem remains in Gulu where officials hope to contain and keep it.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Gulu District, Uganda.


HAYNES: And a related note: Tomorrow, presents "Virus Encounters," a virtual field trip to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Log on and as the experts anything and everything you ever wanted to know about health, including the Ebola virus. And for a schedule of events, head to

Also, set your VCRs for October 25 through the 27th when CNN NEWSROOM will have a microscopic encounter of our own. We'll cover topics from bacteria to viruses and everything in between. That's coming up on Wednesday.

And that's NEWSROOM for a Monday. Thanks for having us, and we'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.



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