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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 1, 2001

Aired February 1, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to this Thursday edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott. Glad you're with us. Here's what's coming up.

In today's news, mixed emotions from around the world as the Pan Am 103 verdict is handed down.

Then, in "Science Desk," we'll check out a unique science lab.

On to "Worldview" for the tale of a soldier getting in touch with the past.

And in "Chronicle," celebrating black history. We'll meet the driving force behind "Essence" magazine.

A former member of the Libyan intelligence services is convicted of a deadly act of terrorism. A Scottish court returned a guilty verdict Wednesday against Abdel Baset Ali Al-Megrahi in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The verdict gives victims' families some justice, but it doesn't let Libya off the hook.

Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 is downed over Lockerbie, Scotland; 270 people die. It took Col. Muammar Gadhafi about 10 years to hand over the two Libyan suspects. A three-judge panel acquitted one of them yesterday, but it found Al-Megrahi guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison in Glasgow, Scotland.

The 48-year-old former Libyan intelligence officer will be eligible for parole in 20 years. Libya's ambassador to the United Nations says the country will appeal the guilty verdict. And his country denies it was behind the bombing. But U.S. President Bush says Washington holds Libya accountable for the bombing, which claimed 189 Americans, and expects Tripoli to pay reparation.

Mixed reactions followed the mixed verdict in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial. The victims' families and residents in the town where the plane crashed responded with both relief and frustration.


SUSAN COHEN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: We only have part of the truth. And we only have a small measure of justice. What we have here is the foot soldier, but we don't have Gadhafi and we don't have the rest of the Libyan agents who worked with him to do this.

BRUCE SMITH, VICTIM'S HUSBAND: What we want to do is hold the Libyan government responsible.


WALCOTT: Brent Sadler looks at reaction in Libya to Wednesday's verdict. But first we'll hear from Walter Rodgers for reaction from residents of Lockerbie.


WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 10:00 in the morning in Lockerbie, Scotland when the verdict was announced and reaction was swift to the fact only one of the Libyans was convicted.

PEGGY KYLE, LOCKERBIE RESIDENT: I can't believe it. I really can't. I think if one is guilty, then obviously the other one is.

RODGERS: This woman did not want me to use her name or to talk on camera, but she told me she was so nervous on the eve of the verdict she could not sleep. Her home was destroyed, as were many others here, when Pan Am Flight 103 fell into this neighborhood.

Many in Lockerbie welcomed the verdict as a kind of closure of their 12-year ordeal. They even held a news conference, appealing to families of the 270 victims to let go of that night.

MARJORY MCQUEENS, LOCKERBIE COUNCIL: It's been a long, long time, 12 years for this trial. Now we've got a verdict. I really hope that some -- and I know it won't be all of them -- some of them might see this as the final chapter.

RODGERS: But other Lockerbie town officials were dogged by the same doubts that eat at the victims' families.

JOE MEECHAM, LOCKERBIE PARISH: I think there will always be a concern that the perpetrator has been prosecuted, but the person or people who issued the orders to carry out this disastrous act will still be free.

RODGERS: The jumbo jets headed for America still fly over Lockerbie, 30,000 feet overhead. Below is the cemetery, a memorial garden for the victims of a mass murder that took place here. Cattle now graze on hills where debris once rained down 12 years ago. The church near where the Pan Am cockpit came down stands silent sentinel over a single grave of a young woman flying home for Christmas in 1988. The earth has healed, but Lockerbie's soul seems scarred.

ANDREW CAMPBELL, LOCKERBIE COUNCIL: Time may have moved on, but there's one thing that comes out loud and clear, the Lockerbie disaster and what has happened here will never go away.

RODGERS (on camera): Lockerbie seems caught in a time warp, torn between those eager to put the past behind and those who saw such terrible things that night they can never forget.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, Lockerbie, Scotland.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a Tripoli hospital, the family of convicted Libyan bomber Abdel Baset Ali Al- Megrahi comforted his mother, his distraught relatives united in grief and anger at the life sentence for mass murder.

"I couldn't think when I heard the verdict," said Megrahi's mother. "I was at home and lost consciousness, then woke and found myself here."

The family claims both men should have walked free.

"We're certain of your innocence," says Megrahi's daughter. "So certain, we planned to meet you at the airport."

The family of Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah celebrated his release, but claim there's been a miscarriage of justice with regard to Megrahi. Libyans gathered in support of both men.

(on camera): Even though it took Col. Muammar Gadhafi some 10 years to eventually hand over the Lockerbie suspects, the conviction of one, say officials here, should have no adverse bearing on Libya's relations with the West.

(voice-over): Top Libyan officials are attempting to limit political fallout in the wake of their intelligence officer's conviction, stressing Libya's respect for the judicial process while calling for an immediate lifting of sanctions.

At the end of the day here, there were public alongside official denials that Libya's leadership should be held accountable for the Lockerbie tragedy and the suffering of victims' families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened, it's not right. Therefore, they should look for those people who have done it. And I'm definitely sure it's not Libyans. It's not Libya. Everyone have to help in this and they have to found the guilty people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I myself and all the living people, we feel sorry for them. And we hope that God, you know, help them to forget this disaster.

RODGERS: Now the trial is over, it's officially said here that Lockerbie belongs to the past. But to the many vital questions that linger on, Libya says it has no obligation to answer.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Tripoli.


WALCOTT: It's the only outdoor research facility in the world dedicated to the study of human body decomposition. And it's not for weak stomachs.

Toria Tolley takes us there. And teachers, you may want to pre- screen this report.


TORIA TOLLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. William Bass's unique lab is hidden in the middle of the University of Tennessee, protected by razor wire and security cameras. Inside lay his research subjects: bodies donated to medical science. Some are buried or under tarps; others are aged in car trunks; still others are totally exposed to the elements. As they decay, their changing condition is closely monitored.

DR. WILLIAM BASS, THE BODY FARM: All the literature all over the world on length of time since death has come out of this little three- acre facility, but we're still just scratching the surface, really just beginning.

TOLLEY: The Body Farm is also an outdoor teaching facility for FBI agents and university students who test vital organs for protein degradation, amino acid breakdown, and levels of gas in the tissue. From these readings, as well as other observations, they can pinpoint how long a person has been dead, what killed them, and the condition of the post-mortem DNA that can ultimately identify a body even if it's decomposed.

Admittedly, this type of research takes some getting used to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first got here, it was kind of hard but I knew I loved bones so much, and I loved skeletons so much that I knew it would be something I'd have to overcome.

TOLLEY (on camera): Dr. Bass got the idea for this complex back in 1971. He had a small plot of land and one cadaver. Today, it now stretches to three acres, and at any given time there are 20 to 40 bodies here.

(voice-over): Based on his medical discoveries, Dr. Bass is asked to assist colleagues all over the world. He doesn't see his work as morbid. In fact, he loves his job.

BASS: I'm 72, I just -- I'm sorry I'm getting so old because I have all these other things I've got to do. I never see these as dead. I've lost two wives to cancer, and I don't like mourning, I don't like death, I don't like funerals, I just don't like those at all. But I never see this in one of these bodies. These are scientific experiments to see if I have enough knowledge that I can tell who that individual is and what happened to him.

Toria Tolley, CNN, Knoxville, Tennessee.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview," we'll revisit World War II as a ship that sank in 1944 is found. That story takes us to the central Pacific. We'll also visit China for a behind-the-scenes look at a booming charity. And we'll head to the Philippines where a unique store has come up with a brand new idea: no brands.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Five-hundred miles off the coast of Southeast Asia lies a cluster of more than 7,000 islands they are known as the Republic of the Philippines.

The Philippines takes its name from Philip II, who was king of Spain during the Spanish colonization of the islands in the 16th century. A land of rich resources, the Philippines bases its economy on free enterprise. Most production is agricultural. But heavy domestic and foreign investment has accelerated the development of the country's industrial potential as well.

Melanie Arroyo reports on the efforts of one Philippine store reaching for its own potential.


MELANIE ARROYO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For shop owners in the Philippines, encouraging people to spend could be difficult these days. Not for Ricco and Tina Ocampo. Their store is enjoying brisk sales even during an economic crisis. Their secret: sell products without any labels.

RICCO OCAMPO, PRESIDENT, ANONYMOUS: I know that there is always an opportunity in every crisis. So I had to look for something that would be an alternative for what would people spend on and what would people be able to afford.

ARROYO: Aptly called Anonymous because of the absence of any designer labels, the store offers an odd mix of generic goods sourced from all over Asia, from cosmetics to flyswatters, and red wine to osaba (ph) peanuts. With over 1,300 different items for sale, Anonymous is attracting both discriminating shoppers and bargain hunters alike.

The couple says that dropping the labels has allowed them to sell their merchandise at a cheaper price.

OCAMPO: Our philosophy for Anonymous is no brand, only value. We do no believe in imputing that cost to our customer.

TINA MARISTELLA-OCAMPO, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OCAMPO: We don't have billboards. We don't advertise.

ARROYO: Ricco and Tina found inspiration in the flea markets of the Philippines, where goods are stuffed inside big baskets and clothes thrown on top of makeshift tables.

MARISTELA-OCAMPO: I guess it's a strategy. It's just a matter of really capturing their attention. And that's what the concept is all about.

ARROYO: And it's a strategy that seems to be working. In just two years, they've opened 50 Anonymous outlets, an average of two stores per month. Eventually, they hope it will rival established department stores in Manila.

OCAMPO: Eventually, I'd like to be a one-stop shop for everybody. I'd like to be a mix of a department store or a 7-Eleven. I'd like to be in every corner of the street in Manila that is very accessible for everybody.

ARROYO (on camera): Perhaps the only downside to this business plan is the stores are rapidly outgrowing their name and could soon be far from anonymous.

Melanie Arroyo for CNN Financial News, Manila.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We turn from shopping to shipping. This time our story takes us to China and Hong Kong. We focus on a charity there. A charity is defined as a welfare institution or fund, or an agency engaged in the relief of the poor or needy. Maybe you have a favorite charity you like to make donations to, or give your time to. You can get suggestions from your school if you're interested in helping out but don't know where to start.

Meantime, Mike Chinoy reports on one Asian charity making a difference.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN HONG KONG BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A shipment from one of the world's most unusual charities: beds, refrigerators, TVs, computers, even roller skates, destined for the needy of Tajikistan.

The charity is called Crossroads. It was started by former accountant Malcolm Begbie and his wife Sally, a one-time PR executive, when the tried to help flood victims in China.

MALCOLM BEGBIE, CROSSROADS: So we borrowed a bedroom and we asked some friends for some clothes. And the first shipment was 19 cartons, and that's really where it started. It started from ground zero and then just 19 cartons.

CHINOY (on camera): From such humble beginnings, Crossroads has now grown into an organization run from this 95,000-square-foot basement where luggage used to be processed at Hong Kong's old airport. It has hundreds of volunteers, all of them unpaid, and ships goods to dozens of countries around the world.

(voice-over): What's so unusual is the nature of the goods, discarded from hotels, businesses, hospitals, schools and ordinary individuals in Hong Kong, the quality almost as remarkable as the quantity.

SALLY BEGBIE, CROSSROADS: A huge amount of what we get is new. And if it's not new, it's practically new.

CHINOY: Elegant furniture, PCs, copying machines, toys, even, literally, the kitchen sink, items which in this wealthy, status- conscious and overcrowded city would otherwise end up at the dump.

S. BEGBIE: A lot of those who donate to us say, if you don't take these, we just don't know anyone else in Hong Kong who will, and all we can do is put it into the back of the trash truck, and out they take it to a landfill.

CHINOY: Instead, it ends up in a storage area so huge the staff get around on scooters. Some of the donated items, like this sophisticated machine which can save lives by improving heart function, are worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars. Others are, to the recipients, almost priceless.

S. BEGBIE: Something like this, it just changes the quality of life for the people. It gives a focus for activity. We've seen institutions absolutely transformed when something like this comes in.

CHINOY: In keeping with the spirit of crossroads, the Hong Kong government, which could make millions in rent here, charges the Begbies only 12 U.S. cents a year to use the old airport facilities. Airlines and shipping companies offer free containers and freight services, what Hong Kong doesn't want transforming lives across the world.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Hong Kong.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Although World War II ended more than five decades ago, for those who fought it, the memories remain all too real. Particularly fierce were many of the battles in the central Pacific as Allied troops hopped from island to island reclaiming land taken over by the Japanese. Thousands of lives were lost on both sides, often in hand-to-hand combat.

There are battled many soldiers would rather forget, but David George brings us the story of one sailor who went back to the island of Angaur to find peace by finding the past.


DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angaur Island was one of the last stepping stones on the Allies' road to Tokyo.

Today on Angaur and its northern neighbor, Peleliu, you see the scars and relics of the month-long battle that killed 20,000 on both sides. In the caves where the Japanese made their last stand, bones of long-dead defenders lie entombed where they fell 56 years ago.

And out there, in nearly 300 feet of water, is another tomb: the USS Perry, sunk by a Japanese mine on September 13, 1944. Six men went down with the ship; two died later. The remaining 120 crew were rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who remembers a guy named Cole (ph)?

GEORGE: Larry Tunks (ph) was manning one of the Perry's port guns when the order came to abandon ship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men were shooting at us with rifles from the beach. It was that close.

GEORGE: After the war, Larry Tunks, like millions of others, came home, got on with his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came home and went to work and we forgot about it.

GEORGE: Then, a book, Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation," awakened 50-year-old memories. Tunks decided to go back to Angaur to find the Perry. He set out last May with a local team of expert divers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as we went in, I watched the island. And it was just almost like seeing the island 50-some years before. I said, this is where it's at.

GEORGE: And so it was. And when the divers came up, breaking the surface with shouts and high-fives, well...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I yanked off all my clothes, jumped in the water, swam out, got in-between them, and we had quite a festivious time out there with the three of us.

GEORGE: Why did he do it after all those years? Chuck Archer (ph) was on one of the ships that came to the Perry's rescue back in 1944.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a funny feeling that it had to be the shipmates calling him: Do it. Find me. That's what I feel.

GEORGE: The leader of the dive team was an Israeli named Navot (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Navot came over and put his arm around me and said: I'm not too much on some of the religious beliefs and stuff, but he says, I really think somebody's looking out for you. I found my ship.

GEORGE: David George, CNN, San Jose, California.


WALCOTT: February is a month set aside can celebrate the richness and the diversity of African-American achievement.

Today, a profile of one such achiever.

To more than 5 million readers each month, "Essence" magazine provides a portrait of the heart and soul of black women. But some say the real heart and soul of "Essence" magazine is its publication director, Susan Taylor. Taylor's column in this spirit chronicles her own spiritual journey, while championing the struggles of her "Essence" readers. Here's a conversation with Susan Taylor.


SUSAN TAYLOR, "ESSENCE": I was born and raised in Harlem, a safe Harlem, you know, in the 1940s and '50s. The end of the '50s, it became a little dangerous, as drugs began to, you know, come into the community and run upshot over it. But Harlem was really -- I believe I was there at the end of the glory days.

My grandmother -- my grandmother, Rhoda Weeks (ph), who came to the United States from Trinidad in 1916, and who had a little tailor shop and went on and really built a major business in Harlem.

And even her mother, who I named after but never had the honor of meeting, she had a hot pepper sauce business and a soda business in Trinidad in the late 1800s.

So, I come from a long line of black women entrepreneurs.

QUESTION: So, has being surrounded by strong black women influence who you are today, do you think?

TAYLOR: Oh, absolutely. You know, I think when we look at the history of black women who made a way out of no way, who, without the resources that women of other cultures in this nation had to support them, our women just used those internal strengths and the kind of the strength that we draw from each other. And raised families, built schools and churches, and took care of white families, and went back across town and took care of their own families and their parents and their husbands' parents.

So I feel like I come from a mighty race of women.

I actually started a cosmetics company in 1970 when black women were hard-pressed to go into department stores and drugs stores and find shades that would match our skin. So I created a little cosmetics company named after my daughter. Her middle name is Quay (ph).

And the editors of the "Essence" heard about it. I came down for an interview, and they loved the products and asked me if I would help them with the beauty pages. So that's how I got my foot in the door here in "Essence." So I went from beauty editor to fashion-and-beauty editor to editor-in-chief to publications director.

You know, business is a challenge. And I mean, even though I am at the top of this organization, it's still a challenge today. And I think we're challenged wherever we are, whether we are a youngster sitting in a classroom, a teacher teaching a class, a producer producing a show.

I think what's important are the internal strengths that we have to build within ourselves.

My challenges as a single mother were really great, you know? And it was, perhaps, the most painful time in my life, having my daughter and having my marriage end when she was six weeks old. But when I look back on it, I wouldn't trade it for anything, because if it was not for our challenges, we'd never come to know our strengths.

For teen girls who might not have strong role models, you know, within their homes, I say, Look outside of your home for those role models because they're there. Queen Latifah, I think, is a really fine role model.

Read widely. Read the work of strong women writers, like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. We need to read autobiographies like the one of Kate Graham, Katherine Graham, who's the head of "Washington Post" and "Newsweek." You know, strong and incredible women.

Go back in history. Read about the queens in history, and women who led countries and municipalities and states. And there's a long and rich history of women who forged this country. You know, it didn't -- it wasn't all done by men. Men are the historians. And I think to the victor belongs the spoils. Whoever gets to write the story gets to tell it.

There's so much negativity out here. It's everywhere, you know. And what you have to do is make sure that you take care of your inner core. There's nothing you can do to make everybody like you, or want to be with you, no matter what -- even if you do everything that tell you to do, they're still going to talk about you, and there'll still be people who don't like you.

What's important is, Do you like you? There're people who are racists, there're people who are sexists. And I think what we have to do is build coalitions and change people's minds. And we have to speak out against it whenever it exists, even if it's, you know, something that's being exhibited by someone who might be considered as superior to you at school or at work.

What "Essence" is saying through the magazine, the "Essence" Awards Music Festival, everything that has, you know, the "Essence" name on it, is that you hold the reigns on your life in your hands, and you can create for yourself a life that is meaningful, a life that is productive, a life that is nourishing and that gives value to other people, that is beneficial to other people.

So what we try to do is, really, deliver the information and the inspiration and the affirmation.

To be in touch with your spirit, it means being in touch with yourself. That part of you that you know is there, that you can't see or touch or need. It's what you don't see when you look in the mirror. To me, it's the breath of life in you. The part of you that is the life force that's connected to the divinity by whatever name you may call it, whether it's God or Allah or Jehovah or Yahweh. The central intelligence in the universe that created you is in you. It's part of you. It's called -- you might call it intuition.

So being in touch with the core of your being is what strengthens you and keeps you strong and positive and forceful in the world, because everything you can see and touch -- the flesh, the pretty clothes we may wear and all the little things we -- the things that we want to collect around us, all the toys and the computers and the cell phones. All that stuff is a dust. Here today, and gone tomorrow. And at the end of the day, it's really about what you feel about the core of your being, what you feel about yourself inside. As you know that you're created on purpose with a purpose by a god that is grand and meant to give you everything, for your benefit and to make you happy, you walk tall and strong. No matter who turns against you, God's got your back.


WALCOTT: Words to live by.

Other profiles on NEWSROOM, this Black History Month: Filmmaker Spike Lee and race car driver Harold Martin.

And online at, a look at the making of Martin Luther King Jr. and the crash course on the history of the blues.

So we look forward to that.

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



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