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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 13, 2000

Aired November 13, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott. We have lots of news to report today. Let's take a look at our itinerary.

The ballots are still being counted in the U.S. presidential election race that remains too close to call.

Bundle up. Things could be getting a bit colder in our "Environment Desk."

We're pulling up anchor when "Worldview" sets sail on the Black Sea.

Then we've got some special birthday wishes in "Chronicle" as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. White House.

The numbers game continues as Florida counts and recounts votes from last Tuesday's presidential election. At stake is Florida's 25 electoral votes, and ultimately the White House.

Election officials voted this weekend to recount by hand all 425,000 Palm Beach County ballots. Three other Florida counties -- Volusia, Broward and Dade -- also are hand-counting Tuesday's votes.

The campaign of Republican George W. Bush has gone to federal court trying to block the manual recounts. Republican Party officials say they may contest election results in states Democrat Al Gore narrowly won if Democrats pursue the hand counts in Florida. Bush campaign officials fear manual counting could expose the presidential race to error and, in their words, "political mischief." Gore's legal team argues that the recount is allowed under state law.

The two candidates are keeping their comments to a minimum as they dig in for another long week of wrangling over the election. Bush spent much of the weekend at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Gore and his family attended church Sunday in suburban Washington.

With the presidency in the balance, the Democrats and the Republicans are gearing up for a battle over ballots. It may be a long battle, or, if the GOP gets its way, a very short one.

Mark Potter reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lawsuit was filed on behalf of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and seven Florida residents who voted Republican. The case will be heard in the Miami federal courthouse by Judge Donald Middlebrooks, who was appointed to the bench by President Clinton.

The Republicans are trying to stop the manual recount of ballots in four Florida counties, as requested by the Democrats. Those predominantly Democratic counties are Palm Beach, Volusia, Miami-Dade and Broward.

The GOP's argument is the votes have already been counted and the election decided. In court papers, they say, "the repetitive counting of ballots, especially manual counting, diminishes the accuracy of the count." They also argue, "further recounts could unnecessarily delay the elections process, potentially leading to a federal constitutional crisis."

Donald Jones teaches constitutional law at the University of Miami. He says this is not a constitutional crisis, and argues the Republicans have little chance of succeeding in court.

DONALD JONES, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: For the Republicans to argue that the Canvassing Board should not have the discretion to do its job as it sees fit, you know, absent a claim of bad faith, is a radical argument, and is a dog that won't hunt.

POTTER: Jones says the Florida legislature, not a federal judge, has the right to decide how votes are to be tallied, and predicts the court will agree.

Joshua Rosenkranz of the New York University Law School doubts Republicans will win the other argument: that recounting ballots in only four counties violates the due process rights of others in Florida.

JOSHUA ROSENKRANZ, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: What you're doing is counting heavily Democratic areas, and there is some truth to that. Is that a constitutional violation? I don't think so. They had the right to ask for a recount in the other 60 or so counties and they didn't.

POTTER (on camera): The Democrats have assembled their own legal team, including Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe. They will face off against the Republicans in federal court, arguing that Florida's manual ballot recount should continue.

Mark Potter, CNN, Miami.


WALCOTT: Now that the race for the White House has moved into overtime, the legal skirmishing is clearly picking up speed. It all makes for one very good civics lesson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In regards to the people that are actually counting the votes, is there a provision made for Republicans and Democrats to be equal in that where -- or is it just two parties, where it could be a Green and a Republican or a Green and a Democrat?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: One of the advantages of actually coming here is you get to see how it's really done. And I have to tell you, while there may be a lot of bad publicity for this state about how it counts or doesn't count or any errors, I'll tell you one thing, this county ought to be very proud about the way they do the recount. I have never seen anything so open.

Not only do they have a Republican and a Democrat, and not only do they have lawyers for the Republican Party -- or for the Republican candidate, lawyers for the Democratic candidate, but they have the entire media watching through a glass window. We have cameras, we're five feet away. It is the most accessible, open thing I've ever seen, and I think Palm Beach County deserves an awful lot of credit because this is a very open process.


WALCOTT: Events of the past week also raise some important questions: Is the U.S. electoral system outdated? And can it be fair even if it's not perfect?

Charles Bierbauer deliberates the answer.


CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One-hundred million Americans punching and poking their votes into cards and machines are bound to make mistakes.

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: This happens in every precinct and in every election.

BIERBAUER: The technology and process are both primitive by 21st century standards.

LEONARD GARMENT, COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT NIXON: Hand process, it's subject to the elements, rain, how many buses you can locate to drive people to the polls, and people forgetting boxes of votes locked up in the trunk.

BIERBAUER: Garment says what has changed since he was counsel to President Nixon, and Nixon declined to pursue ballot recounts, is the current eagerness to take any dispute to court.

GARMENT: That was not a litigating culture. Now we have a culture that is dominated by class actions, by lawyers, by, I mean, litigious behavior.

BIERBAUER: Palm Beach County's butterfly ballot and some confused voters added up to what Democrats consider miscast votes.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The will of the people, not a computer glitch, should select our next president.

BIERBAUER: The will of the people figured in a 1998 case before the Florida Supreme Court. It sustained the reelection of Volusia County Sheriff Robert Vogel over his opponent's claim that thousands of absentee ballots were spoiled. But the court also said if reasonable doubt exists that the election expresses the will of the voters, "then court is to void the contested election even in the absence of fraud or intentional wrongdoing.

GERALD KOGAN, FMR. FLORIDA CHIEF JUSTICE: It has to be more than just a technical violation of the election laws.

BIERBAUER: The former chief justice of Florida's Supreme Court says elections can be flawed yet still fair. But it will take guts for any Florida judge to throw out the Palm Beach vote on the basis of confusion, not fraud.

KOGAN: The court presumes and wants to assume that the voters are correct and does not like to set aside that which the voters have chosen, except in extreme circumstances.

BIERBAUER (on camera): While the system may be imperfect, the damage is hard to calculate. Elections pick winners and losers, so what may be no more than an annoyance to one voter is a fatal flaw to another.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: All right, guys, we're motoring through the fall season, and that means winter isn't far behind. But what's coming this year may have you digging in the closet for your favorite parka. With no El Nino or La Nina this year, the upcoming winter season may be back to "normal."

Natalie Pawelski explains.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've had years of drought and La Nina to blame for it; before that, floods blamed on El Nino. Now both La Nina and El Nino are out of the weather picture. Call it "La Normal."

JAMES BAKER, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: We're going to see a more normal winter, which means colder than the last three.

PAWELSKI: The National Weather Service says a lot of people in the Northeast, Midwest and plains states will have to learn to bundle up again. Chicago, for example, could see winter temperatures averaging 6 degrees below what they've been over the past three years.

BAKER: I think you're going to see the biggest changes in the northern tier of states because we've got this polar jet stream. It's moving down. And when it moves down, you get more polar air. It's going to be colder. You're going to notice it.

PAWELSKI: The National Weather Service winter forecast also calls for warmer weather in the West and South, and more rain and snow in some places that are in serious need of precipitation.

BAKER: We feel very confident that we're going to see easing of the drought around the United States and more water in the system. At the same time, a lot of this water comes in storms, and so with an increased number of storms, that, of course, has a negative impact on people.

PAWELSKI (on camera): With no major, long-term weather system setting up shop, forecasters say this winter's predictions are precarious. Even with La Nina dominating the weather these past few years, forecasters have misfired; for example, predicting a hyperactive hurricane season for this year, which so far hasn't materialized.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we go diving, dancing and more. We'll travel to Zimbabwe to find out how small loans can make a big difference. It's called microcredit, and we'll explain the idea and its impact. We'll also head to the region around the Black Sea on a deep-sea journey into the past. And we'll go center stage to the ballet in Russia.

But first, to the Middle East, where people are mourning the loss of an outspoken advocate for peace. Leah Rabin, widow of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, died Sunday of cancer. Mrs. Rabin devoted the last years of her life to fulfilling her husband's vision of peace.

Jerrold Kessel looks back on her life.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes after he had sung this peace song, Yitzhak Rabin was gunned down because of his peace policy. His widow, Leah, literally within days of the assassination at that peace rally five years ago, assumed the peace mantle, determined not simply to perpetuate the slain premier's memory.

MICHAEL BAR ZOHER, LEAH RABIN'S FRIEND: Leah always said exactly what was on her mind. She didn't play the political games, she didn't try to make trends and to be nice and good to everybody. So, definitely, when she spoke openly, she created reactions which were very unpleasant sometimes and people not always liked what she said.

KESSEL: For many Israelis, she was also a divisive figure. Some religious- and ultranationalists criticized Mrs. Rabin for distorting her husband's legacy. They've tried to promote Rabin as the superpatriot who fought the Battle of Jerusalem in the seminal 1967 Six Day War. She responded to that criticism.


LEAH RABIN, WIFE OF YITZHAK RABIN: We could easier find a common language with Palestinians, with Arabs, rather than with them, because we live like on two different planets.


KESSEL: In the final weeks of her life, amidst renewed claims that Rabin's Oslo peace legacy was dying in the latest fierce confrontation, Leah Rabin came close to challenging Prime Minister Barak for failing, she intimated, to follow her husband's road map for peace.

Her illness prevented her from attending the rally marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination, but she is said to have taken some solace in the fact that, though Palestinians and Israelis are now battling rather than talking, the Israeli peace camp is also battling again.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.


WALCOTT: Have you ever been to see a ballet performance? The dictionary defines ballet as an artistic dance form of graceful, precise gestures and movements used to tell a story. Ballet took off as a distinct art form before the 16th century in Italy. In the beginning, only men could dance in the ballet. That changed back in 1681.

Today we travel to Russia, a country renowned for its ballet dancers and choreographers. Some of the world's classic ballet roles, such as those in "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty," were created there. And while Russia is still revered as a center for dance, its economic difficulties are having an impact on the arts.

Matthew Chance turns the spotlight on ballet.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be the height of Russian culture, but even this is feeling the strains of the modern state. In the days of the Soviet Union, the Bolshoi Theater was unsurpassed. Even now, there is pride in Russia that these performances are among the best in the world. Few other legacies of Russian communism can say the same.

But the theater is becoming another monument to an era that has past when the resources of an all-powerful state were plowed into the arts. Now, even the pillars of the once graceful facade hint at the neglect that has set in.

RAYMOND STULTS, ARTS CRITIC: It's a beautiful theater inside and out, but it's just, sadly, falling apart. The backstage is antiquated, the outside, the exterior, is in terrible shape.

CHANCE: Behind the curtain, preparations are under way for the start of a new season. But morale here is low and the dark passages backstage reveal the worrying extent of this theater's disrepair. The electrical wiring here hasn't been replaced since the 1940s.

To the public eye, this is still a spectacular palace of the arts. But even in these opulent surroundings, there is concern not least that this magnificent auditorium maybe a fire hazard.

(on camera): Like so many once glittering Russian institutions, this one appears in terminal decline.

(voice-over): But the Kremlin has stepped in. the Russian president himself has dismissed the director of the theater, promising more funding and transferring responsibility to his own ministry of culture.

MIKHAIL SHVYDKOI, RUSSIAN CULTURE MINISTER: Bolshoi is Bolshoi, and every time becomes (UNINTELLIGIBLE) much more than just opera houses, a symbol of the country. And Bolshoi ballet is one of the trademark of the Russia. And of course I have a special interest keep the level and develop the ballet.

CHANCE: It may be a performance worth watching as Russia struggles to restore the reputation of yet another symbol of its past.

Matthew Chance, CNN, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Next stop, the Black Sea, a large body of water bordered by Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. The Black Sea is so big it covers an area larger than the state of California. The ancient Romans had another name for the Black Sea. They called it the "friendly sea." It provides ships access to the Mediterranean. It's nearly tideless and its coast is an important resort area.

But what's under the sea is also important. Scientists are salvaging artifacts which some believe were buried by the biblical Great Flood.

Denise Dillon has this report.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 12 miles off the coast of Turkey, more than 300 feet below the surface of the Black Sea, explorers made a major discovery: the first evidence that humans lived in the area, now covered by the Black Sea; humans who were perhaps overcome by the biblical Great Flood.

U.S. explorer Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, is behind this project. Using remote-controlled underwater vessels with cameras, Ballard and his team found a former river valley with a collapsed structure, including carved wooden beams, a stone chisel and other tools, possibly from the Stone Age.

ROBERT BALLARD, EXPLORER: If it comes in at 7,000 years ago, it could lend great credulance to the theory that people are proposing, that the Black Sea is where the biblical flood took place.

Two Columbia University researchers, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, theorized in their book "Noah's Flood" that as the Ice Age ended, the Mediterranean Sea overflowed, flooding a smaller freshwater lake and creating the Black Sea.

WILLIAM RYAN, RESEARCHER: Those in this village would have seen the rivers flow backwards, the water of the lake come up the river, and then seen the rising of the river on the banks and at some point realized, it's time to get out of here.

DILLON: They believe the story of the flood was passed down through generations to be recorded as Noah's flood in the Old Testament.

WALTER PITMAN, RESEARCHER: To religious people who are not literalists, who don't believe literally in the Bible but think that it's possibly a reflection of history, they should be very encouraged by these findings.

DILLON: Ballard's team is now mapping the site and looking for other structures and artifacts in the area, hoping to answer questions about the people who lived there thousands of years ago.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


WALCOTT: Next stop Zimbabwe, a country located in southern Africa. Zimbabwe has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Its breathtaking scenery includes the famous Victoria Falls, the greatest waterfall in Africa.

But beneath Zimbabwe's pristine surface is a country with a troubled and often violent history. The vast majority of Zimbabwe's people are black, but whites controlled the government from the late 1800s until 1979. That's when whites gave political power back to the blacks.

During white rule, the country was known as Rhodesia. And these days, it's Zimbabwe's poor who are developing a sense of empowerment.

Bob Coen explains.


BOB COEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Evelyn Majuru doesn't have much time to rest. Her days and nights are kept busy overseeing every aspect of her small but thriving batique manufacturing business. Operating out of a shed in front of her mother's house, Evelyn employs 12 people who work two eight-hour shifts producing the colorful wall hangings. Its a marked change to the life she was leading just eight years ago.

EVELYN MAJURU, ENTREPRENEUR: I was very poor, as well. I started with 500 dollars.

COEN: A loan of 500 Zimbabwe dollars received in 1992, the equivalent of less than $100 U.S. at the time, turned Evelyn's life around, allowing her to start her business.

Evelyn was one of the first recipients in Zimbabwe of microcredit, a global program which gives poor and disadvantaged people small loans to help jump start small businesses. Like so many, Evelyn had dreams but lacked the means.

MAJURU: It was very difficult for me to go to the bank, as well, to go and talk to the bank.

COEN: Evelyn not only supports her six children, but is also helping a community ravaged by AIDS, providing jobs for several orphaned youths who are using their wages to support brothers and sisters.

Microcredit helps more than 13 million people in over 100 countries across the world, reaching more than 2 1/2 million families in Africa alone.

Representative from over 30 African countries gathered in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, for the Africa Region Microcredit Summit. The microcredit summit campaign aims to ensure that 100 million of the world's poorest families have access to microcredit by the year 2005.

SAM DALEY-HARRIS, DIRECTOR, MICROCREDIT: Nobody in the world starts a business with no capital, but that's what people are asked to do who are very poor. This gives them that little capital, unleashes that spirit and ingenuity, and then they can work their way out of poverty. That's what we're here to do: help them work their ways out of poverty.

COEN (on camera): Microcredit is also having an impact far from Africa's urban centers, like here in this community in rural Zimbabwe.

(voice-over): Experts say making credit available to the poor and disadvantaged outside of the cities helps stem the flow of unemployed people from the countryside into the cities where they can't be absorbed by economies already suffering high unemployment.

FEDELIS JORDOMIAH, FARMER: Really, really, I've changed.

COEN: Five years ago, Fedelis Jordomiah was released from prison with few prospects. Today, thanks to microcredit, he is one of the most successful farmers in his area and a respected member of the community. A water pump allows him to grow tomatoes and potatoes year round, which he markets in the city. He is now receiving his fifth loan after successfully paying back all his loans since 1995. He plans to expand into dairy farming soon. He keeps a reminder of his past close at hand. JORDOMIAH: Before the credit, my life was very hard. That's why I've written this, "hard times never kill," because it shows us all the hard time. But since I've started to get the credit, then I see that life is improving.

COEN: All across Africa, microcredit is playing a key role in the fight against poverty, helping people help themselves, restoring dignity and transforming lives.

Bob Cohen, CNN, Domboshawa, Zimbabwe.


WALCOTT: No one knows who the next first family to reside in the White House will be, but some former residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue came together in Washington last week to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the White House. The group included President Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford and their wives. President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, were unable to attend because of his illness.

Mike McManus has this profile of the executive mansion.


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixteen-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House, the executive mansion, different names for the cement structure that's stood as the president's house for generations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time I came to this country, I wanted to come and see the White House, you know, this huge place that everybody talks about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It symbolizes the right to choose who our leader's going to be and democracy in the United States.

WILLIAM SEALE, WHITE HOUSE HISTORIAN: One thing the White House endures as is a symbol of that, that peaceful continuity of passing on the administration to administration no matter how mild or radical the difference may be between the two. That house has been central to it all.

MCMANUS: William Seale is a White House historian. He says the history behind the White House is just as interesting as the people who've lived in it.

SEALE: The framers of the Constitution envisioned a great nation that would interact with the nations of Europe, and the city, the capital city, was to reflect that.

MCMANUS: The nation's capital moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the newly created federal city of Washington in 1800. Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a veteran of the American Revolution, was commissioned to come up with a city plan. He decided to build the president's house on a low ridge down the street from the U.S. Capitol building. SEALE: You had the Capitol on the hill and the grand avenue between the two, which was apparently designed because it was a custom in those days, with a joint parade, really, of Congress, both sides of the aisle would march and would go in carriages down the street to personally present the bill to the president.

MCMANUS: Stories vary on why the executive mansion was located on Pennsylvania Avenue. Some say it was to please Pennsylvania for moving the capital city out of the Keystone State. Another theory has to do with street layout. The names of the streets above Pennsylvania Avenue correspond with northern states, and the avenues below correspond with the South.

Like these tales surrounding the mansion's address, the White House has gone through many changes over the course of its history.

SEALE: The telegraph came in early, but it didn't come into the White House proper till 1866. Lincoln had to go across the street to use it. Electricity came in in 1889, about 10 years after it was invented; telephone 1879.

MCMANUS: Changes have also been added for leisure purposes. In 1976, President Ford had a swimming pool installed. The additions continued into the Clinton administration. He installed a jogging track around the south grounds.

(on camera): As the White House celebrates it's 200th anniversary, many believe the building has become one of the most recognized worldwide. Historians say the residents and the building itself may have changed over the past two centuries, but the freedom and democracy it's come to symbolize has remained.

Michael McManus, CNN NEWSROOM, the White House.


WALCOTT: And the next name to go on that mailbox is anyone's guess.

Stay tuned. That wraps up today's show. See you tomorrow.



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