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Newsroom/World View

Newsroom for March 7, 2001

Aired March 7, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And welcome to our Wednesday edition, everyone. We have a full docket today, so let's get started.

Leading today's show: the controversial Taleban regime of Afghanistan. Then, in our "Business Desk": Get ready for Disney's newest adventure. And we'll check out the latest in the legal battle over Napster. We have more technology news in "Worldview." Check out these guys. Our final agenda item finds us focusing on politicians and their health.

But first: The international community fights to preserve cultural heritage in Afghanistan, as that nation's ruling Taleban regime reportedly carry out their mission to destroy all statues in their country.

The Taleban's determination is to get rid of what they call false idols, such as statues of Buddha, a man who stood for peace. Last week, the regime's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, ordered the demolition of all statues in Taleban-controlled areas, which amounts to more than 90 percent of the country. The Taleban's information and culture minister says several dozen wooden and clay structures, some that date back 1,500 years, have been destroyed at several historic sites.

Some museums, including ones in India and the United States, are trying to remove, at any cost, the sculptures from Afghanistan. They are offering to pay for the relocation and preservation of what may be left of them. However, Taleban leaders have not accepted those offers.

While the Taleban say statues and idol worship are un-Islamic, other Islamic countries disagree with that. Meanwhile, India, where Buddhism was born 2,500 years ago, is joining the chorus of international criticism.

Satinder Bindra explains why that country is so concerned.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As more than 120 million Muslims across India marked the festival of Eid, their leading cleric, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, offered to negotiate with the Taleban.

Bukhari, though, clarified his offer was conditional on India admitting traditions and laws were flouted eight years ago when Hindu zealots tore down a mosque and installed Hindu idols in its place.

SYED AHMED BUKHARI, MUSLIM LEADER (through translator): Keeping the idols kept in the mosque was wrong. A decision must be made to remove them, and I will guarantee the Taleban will not destroy the statues.

BINDRA: As an indignant international community has appealed to the Taleban to spare the statues, including these 1,500-year-old Buddhas, the Taleban say they'll continue blasting them with gunpowder, tanks and rockets.

In India, where Buddhism was born 2,500 years ago, some Hindu religious leaders are calling for the use of force against the isolated Taleban regime, which is recognized by only three countries. The Taleban, who want to set up a pure Islamic state, say all statues must go because they're un-Islamic.

WAKIL AHMAD MUTAWAKIL, TALEBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): This is not a step to demolish history. This is also not a step to declare enmity with anyone.

BINDRA: The Taleban say India should peek into its past, when this mosque was destroyed, before lecturing others. Still, India's prime minister says the Taleban's decision to smash the statues is a, quote, "senseless act which insults all religions."

Some Hindu hard-liners have even burnt a copy of the Muslim holy book in protest. Bukhari warns such actions will invite reprisals.

BUKHARI (through translator): If you harm India's Muslims, I am warning you - today the Taleban has made this decision, tomorrow Muslims around the world will be forced to make such decisions.

BINDRA: The Indian government has yet to respond to Bukhari's offer to meet the Taleban.

(on camera): Bukhari is also dismissing the international outcry over the Buddha statues. He says he wants to know where the United Nations and the rest of the world was when a 16th century mosque in central India was demolished.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, New Delhi.


HAYNES: It's hard to determine exactly how much destruction has been done by the Taleban. The regime has banned media and photography of people in areas under their control. They have also enforced a variety of restrictions and moral codes of people living in the area they control, as well. Those restrictions have received heavy international criticism.

Zain Verjee has more on the Taleban movement.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven years ago, they were a small Islamic student group based in Condahar (ph) in southern Afghanistan. Today, the Taleban have the world up in arms. They are accused of trying to wipe out centuries of heritage with a campaign to destroy Buddhist sculptures. They say it's their religious duty and nobody else's business.

MAULVI WAKIL AHMED MUTAWAKIL, TALEBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): This action has not been taken to hurt the feelings of anyone or to please anyone outside of Afghanistan. We have taken the decision, keeping view of our own laws. This is not a step to demolish history. This is also not a step to declare enmity with anyone.

VERJEE: When the Taleban movement began in 1994, Afghanistan was mired in chaos. The Mujahideen factions that forced the Soviets out had turned on each other. Mullah Mohammad Omar, now the supreme leader of the Taleban, offered a strict interpretation of Islam as the way to peace.

By 1996, the Taleban were in control of Kabul. Many welcomed them for bringing a degree of stability to much of the country. But their moral codes have also brought international isolation, even from some Muslim countries. Women are not allowed to work. Girls' education is almost nonexistent. Men are forced to grow beards. Television is not allowed.

The Taleban say the statues they want to destroy are idols and against their religion. The Taleban are Sunni Muslims and belong mainly to the Pashtun ethnic majority. They have been accused of persecuting the minority Shiites in Afghanistan, allegations they deny. The Taleban now hold 90 percent of the country, but the fighting has not ended.

They are battling an opposition alliance that controls parts of northern Afghanistan. Many of their successors haven't come on the battlefield. Instead, they have been able to form alliances with regional opposition commanders. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recognize the Taleban rule as legitimate. There have been claims that Pakistan has provided military training and Saudi Arabia financing. Both countries deny the allegations.

The United Nations only recognizes the ousted government of Burhanuddin Rabbani as the legitimate leadership of Afghanistan and not the Taleban.

Zain Verjee, CNN.


HAYNES: Other news now: That winter storm we told you about yesterday in the Northeastern United States didn't go away very fast. The worst of it hit from Connecticut to Maine. Snow, wind and waves pounded the coastline, causing many schools to close and flights to be canceled.

We get more on the effects of nor'easter 2001 from Deborah Feyerick.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The storm blasted the New England region, massive waves eating away the coastline and flooding homes in Scituate, Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary to watch, but it's awesome.

FEYERICK: In Peabody, power lines went down, leaving people in the dark. And in upstate New York, nearly two feet of snow. The major punch predicted to blast the New York area:

LARRY COSGROVE, NEW YORK CORRESPONDENT: This may be the worst storm of the winter so far.

FEYERICK: Instead hitting 100 miles north and a day later than forecasts, and prompting some mea culpas from meteorologists around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The computers are pushing the envelope. It's a complex storm and they're not getting it. If you want a lesson in humility, you become a weatherperson.

FEYERICK: All the predictions sent the New York City area into overdrive, bracing for the storm. New York City public schools, which rarely close, shut down, and airlines preemptively canceled more than 1,000 flights along the Northeast coast, stranding passengers across the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been playing cat and mouse with this storm now for 24 hours. So, I think our approach today is we're just going to get as many flights off the ground as we possibly can until the weather tells us otherwise.

FEYERICK: That was small consolation to fliers spending the night where they hadn't planned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very inconvenient, definitely and very costly as well because the company, the airline company did not cover any of our expense.

FEYERICK: Some did enjoy the snow, even a former president.

(on camera): It will take days before the airlines clear up the backlog and get everyone where they are supposed to be. It's the game of catch up not only for flyers, but for those at home left digging out.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HAYNES: And another storm is brewing, this one headed your way March 22, when we present "Storm," a CNN newsroom special report. From cold fronts to forecasting, it's all about weather. And it's coming up on March 22.

All right, lots of business to take care of in today's "Desk" Later on, we'll update you on Napster. First, a date with Disney: Boasting 25 attractions and welcoming thousands of visitors, Disney's California Adventure theme park opened last month in Anaheim. The theme centers around California history and natural attractions. It's adjacent to the decades-old Disneyland. And the company is hoping tourists will spend more than just a day at the amusement park area.

Anne McDermott has more on Disney's newest adventure.


ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1955: the year Disneyland opened its doors.

WALT DISNEY, FOUNDER: To all who come to this happy place, welcome.

MCDERMOTT: And right outside, the town of Anaheim tried to cash in with motels called the Candy Cane, the Peter Pan, the Heidi, and soon all was ugliness.

Now thanks to a joint effort by Disney, Anaheim, and the state, the city is pretty again, just in time for the opening of Disneyland's next door neighbor, which is Disney's California Adventure.

It's a postcard California, featuring Hollywood without panhandlers, northern California without rolling blackouts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of the fantasy California vacation all packed into one day.

MCDERMOTT: Well, what they really mean is spend a day here, spend a day at Disneyland, spend a day at the upscale Downtown Disney, and spend, spend, spend. An economic analyst thinks it'll work and thinks California Adventure will help bring in millions of dollars to the area.

JACK KYSER, ECONOMIC ANALYST: This year, tourism is going to be the growth industry in the state of California. No questions about it.

MCDERMOTT: Still, California Adventure is no Disneyland. It has just 25 attractions; the older park has 63.

But plenty of people here seem to relish it, like this man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... certainly worth the price.

MCDERMOTT: Which is $43 per adult, same as Disneyland. And like Disneyland, it's got that trusted brand name thing going for it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you've got to love Disney.

MCDERMOTT: What do you think? Well, maybe he's just run into this tree person. Disneyland doesn't have any -- and they don't have any of this either, but California Adventure does offer California wine.

And both theme parks have the same cute mice. Though trust me, kid, they used to look a lot different back in the olden days.

Anne McDermott, CNN, Anaheim, California.


HAYNES: The recording industry is celebrating another victory in its battle with the music-swapping service Napster. A U.S. federal judge is setting up a timeframe for the Internet service to block songs that carry copyrights from its Web site. The injunction is a reworked version of one the judge issued several months ago.

Rusty Dornin has more on the court decision.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The music will play on; only, the musical numbers will diminish dramatically. A San Francisco federal court says that as soon as the record companies give Napster a list of copyright-protected songs, the song-swapping service then has 72 hours to block access.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the 72 hours is how much time Napster has after we give them titles to make sure that those titles don't appear on their system. So we have the ability over the course of the next several weeks to give them titles, and on our timetable.

DORNIN: Napster officials were unavailable for comment. Some analysts say the news could have been worse.

MICHAEL FITZGERALD, RED HERRING: In the short term is: It didn't get shut down, which, in the long term, means that they have an opportunity to either develop an actual business out of this audience they've created or, you know, fumble the opportunity.

DORNIN: Napster did fumble somewhat last weekend in its first efforts to voluntarily stop users from trading copyrighted songs. Users could still access Metallica tunes by simply misspelling the band's name. As with any software, industry observers say they need time to get the bugs out, but that won't take long.

FITZGERALD: It'll be a lot harder for the average person to be able to get at this stuff. And for people who -- and most people are going to just go elsewhere to get that music. They'll go to Gnutella. They'll go to Freenet. They'll find other sources for it, like they're doing now.

DORNIN: The recording industry says Napster better figure out ways to block the tunes quickly -- or else.

HILARY ROSEN, RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSN. OF AMERICA: And we feel confident that if it doesn't work that we can go back to court to have it reviewed.

DORNIN: This week, the head of Universal Music Group hinted that a deal with Napster was not out of the question.

FITZGERALD: If they can get another major label -- and especially Universal, which is the largest of the music companies -- to come to the table and sign a deal, you know, the others are going to fall in line.

DORNIN: A line that the revolutionary music-swapping service can only hope will form quickly.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.


HAYNES: Mechanical creatures and all kinds of wildlife in "World View" today. We'll head to Patagonia. What is it? Where is it? You'll find out just ahead. And we'll journey to Japan for a look at a technology trend: the increasing use of robots.

For generations, robots have intrigued our imaginations. Just think of Hollywood creations like the "Terminator." And, of course, who could forget R2D2 and C3PO in the "Star Wars" movies? But robots today are far more than fantasy. Just one example: The automotive industry would grind to a halt without them. While robots have long been a mainstay of industry, they are just now beginning to enter the consumer market.

One industry executive has said, while the '90s was the decade of the personal computer and the Internet, this decade will be dominated by the robot. That remains to be seen. But take a look at what's coming from one Japanese manufacturer in this report from Denise Dillon.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dream Force 01 is the latest high-tech humanoid. It's 14 inches tall and is quite talented. It plays games such as Jenga, a type of puzzle that requires precision.

And check out its throwing arm. The robot comes in two versions. For about $412, you can buy one that follows the commands you put into this remote-control console. For about $250 more, you can get a model that you control through your cell phone.

KEITA SATO, PRESIDENT, TAKARA (through translator): We want to make robots which can be used in daily life. And so the price of our robots is very reasonable.

DILLON: Dream Force 01 also has a camera inside its head. So if you strap on this headset, you can see the world from the robot's perspective. Toymaker Takara, maker of those dancing flowers and robotic fish, teamed up with two other Japanese firms to create the robot. They plan to sell it worldwide.

SATO (through translator): Many firms have shown interest in the robot. And they have offered to sell 200,000 to 300,000 units abroad.

DILLON: The robots are expected to hit the stores this fall. So, in a matter of months, you could have your very own miniature personal waiter.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Next stop: Patagonia, a region in the southern part of South America. It was divided between Chile and Argentina back in 1907. Much of the area is desert. Centuries ago, these were the stomping grounds for early explorers like Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake and Charles Darwin. Today a national park in the area draws more than 65,000 visitors a year. The word "Patagonia" comes from a Spanish word meaning "big foot."

And many feet are making their way to Torres del Paine National Park, as Stephanie Oswald explains.


STEPHANIE OSWALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a powerful star rising from the Chilean landscape, intimidating and welcoming at the same time. Getting here from northern Chile involves flying from Calama south to Punta Arenas and then driving north. On the way, a brief stop in Puerto Natales and after six hours of driving, our final destination: Torres del Paine National Park.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: It's impressive. It's very, very beautiful. It's wild.

OSWALD: Most of the exploring in Torres del Paine is done on foot. This is a hiker's paradise, nearly 450,000 acres overflowing with fantastic panoramas. On our summer adventure, constant and powerful wind made hiking even more challenging. On any given day, natural phenomenon impress nature lovers.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: The weather's been incredible. It changes just almost every moment. I mean one day we had all these clothes on, the next day we had them all off. The views are different every minute because the clouds are there and then they're not and the sun's there and then it isn't. It's been just a spectacular sort of bonding with nature out here. It's been very exciting.

OSWALD: One minute we find ourselves in awe of an incredible wing span. Later, the wonder of watching rain clouds swarm around the mountainscape. On another outing, we take the time to appreciate the strength of a giant waterfall.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: I mean, for someone that wants to just see nature and be part of nature, I believe that this is the trip, really.

OSWALD: And how about this incredible highlight, walking in the company of these baby blue giants.

ANNE PATTERSON, HEAD GUIDE, EXPLORA EN PATAGONIA: The icebergs you see down at Loga Gray (ph) are coming from a glacier called Glacier Gray and that's actually one of hundreds of glaciers coming down off the South Patagonian ice field. It's the fourth largest block of ice in the world and that's an easy hike that everybody can do, which is great, because it's just incredible.

OSWALD: Some travelers use nature's ice cubes to help quench their thirst for the great outdoors. Even death has new life here, fallen trees are transformed into a natural art gallery. It's a spiritual journey for some...

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: And sometimes you have to take time to find god and to speak with god. I think that this is important for the human being and for me this kind of trip is to find god.

OSWALD: A scenic highlight, the monoliths that give the park its name, a group of stone towers tucked between the rocky layers of Patagonia.

(on camera): Geologic movements shaped these mountains more than 12 million years ago. Some say Paine was the name of a Welsh climber. Others say the towers get their name from the Indian word Paine, which means blue, referring to the tones reflected in the sky and the lakes of this region.

(voice-over): There are 25 species of mammals in the park and more than 100 species of birds. Once again, an exciting way to take in the scenery is to take to the saddle.

DOLORES FIGUEROA, MANAGER, EXPLORA EN PATAGONIA: What I like most, horseback riding. I love it. It's great. You can experience a lot of things and you are going to feel like you are just over there with that incredible environment outside and the mountains and everything. I think you are going to experience different things depending on the ride you choose.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: The horses do the work for you and you looks at the ground all the time and you can, you are free to see all around and you go up in the mountains, down in the lakes and everything like that.

OSWALD: The First Explorer Hotel was founded here in 1993. It's planted on the edge of a glacial lake. The hotel grounds are extraordinary. Boardwalks lead to postcard views in every direction. And it's a short walk to the open air hot tubs.

Inside, a rustic but polished shelter from the elements, overflowing with creature comforts.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: Our room is gorgeous. We have an excellent view. I can't think of any place that I've been that is as nice, that is so far away from the nearest city. What they've done is amazing.

OSWALD: Four meals per day are also served with a view, Chilean wine and plenty of healthful choices to prepare guests for the day's adventures.


UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Are you enjoying it?

OSWALD: Even the smallest stomach is filled but the most popular menu seems to be the list of options available outdoors. If you prefer wheels over hiking or horseback, that's OK, too. All modes of transport come together for this explorer on Patagonia pleasure, a cookout in the countryside, the perfect ending to a vacation spent capturing the essence of life in the wilds of Chile.


HAYNES: In "Chronicle": democracy in America. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is back at home now after a brief stay in the hospital to clear a partially blocked artery to his heart. When he left George Washington University Hospital Tuesday, Cheney thanked his doctors and said he felt good. Aides say he'll be back to work as soon as today.

Vice President Cheney's heart condition raises the question: How much should public officials tell us about their health?

Candy Crowley with perspective on the issue and how Cheney is handling his own medical history.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House, the doctors, the patient all say things are OK. The worrisome part is that's pretty much what they always say when the powerful are less than healthful.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Presidents, vice presidents cannot show weakness. You must not be seen as incapable of performing your duties, and so what you have got to do is put up the boldest front possible and say, well, my health is fine.

CROWLEY: There is no evidence that Dick Cheney is anything other than fine, but it is what they said in November.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He sounded really strong, and informed me that as a precautionary measure, he went into the hospital. He was feeling chest pains, and it turns out that subsequent test, blood tests and the initial EKG showed that he had no heart attack.

CROWLEY: As it turns out, Cheney did suffer a mild heart attack in November, though initially Bush was told otherwise. The confusion and Cheney's refusal to release all medical data has created a suspicion that's also fueled by history. Grover Cleveland had jaw cancer. John F. Kennedy had Addison's disease. Ronald Reagan nearly died in the hours after he was shot. Vice presidential candidate Tom Eagleton was taken off the McGovern ticket in 1972 when it was disclosed he'd undergone electroshock treatment for depression. And the late Paul Tsongas ran for president as a cancer survivor, but later had a recurrence of cancer, which eventually killed him.

History is full of presidents and politicians who lied about, hid, or only partially disclosed some very serious health problems.

DALLEK: Well, I think there is a feeling if you show that you have some kind of a limitation, that the public will -- the impulse of the public will be to reject your leadership; that you are going to lose your credentials, so to speak, as an effective leader.

CROWLEY: Bill Bradley had a minor heart condition that flared during his presidential campaign. For a day or two, the story overtook his campaign and obliterated his message.

ERIC HAUSER, FORMER BILL BRADLEY AIDE: In our case, and I think it is often the case, much more is made of the issue than medically is warranted. Bill Bradley is healthy as a horse, was, is. His minor heart condition had no effect on the campaign, and so forth. So you are reluctant in some ways to get into an issue that more gets made of than should.

CROWLEY: When Bradley's problem recurred, his campaign did not disclose the event until it was asked by a reporter. The cost them another day of questions about whether they were being forthcoming.

(on camera): Cheney is in office at a time when keeping private even the smallest health details may no longer be viable. Over the past couple of decades, reporters have gotten increasingly more aggressive and vice presidents more important.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: And for even more on the Cheney story, check this out: -- all kinds of cool stuff. You can scroll around -- and all kinds of definitions and everything. Check it out.

That's it for today. Thanks for joining us on CNN NEWSROOM. And we'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.



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