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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 26, 2001

Aired March 26, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Welcome.

We'll begin with news from former Yugoslavia. A government crackdown in Macedonia tops our news agenda. Next, we visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is at the center of an environmental debate. Then we make way for elk in "Worldview." And, finally, we'll "Chronicle" an important historical discovery.

We begin in the Balkans, where violence intensified this weekend between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas. Macedonian government forces launched an all-out ground assault on guerrilla positions in the hills over Tetovo, the nation's second largest city. We'll have more on that in a minute. But first, here's some background.

The fighting in Macedonia comes as Albanian rebels are being squeezed in Kosovo and southern Serbia. In Kosovo, former rebels were routed in local elections last fall, giving them less political power. In southern Serbia, meanwhile, NATO-led KFOR troops have begun handing back to Serb forces a buffer zone at the Kosovo border. That buffer zone was set up in 1999 after Macedonia broke away from Yugoslavia. Macedonia was the only republic to break away without bloodshed.

Albanian rebels say they want more rights for ethnic Albanians within Slav-dominated Macedonia. The Macedonian government, however, accuses them of seeking independence and drawing on Kosovo for fighters and weapons. On a side note, NATO Secretary-general George Robertson wants NATO to increase its military presence along the Kosovo-Macedonia border. Robertson will travel to Macedonia Monday and attempt to meet with Macedonian President "Boris Trajkovski."

Macedonian forces, meanwhile, say they have dislodged rebels from several villages in the hills above Tetovo. The rebels had been positioned there for the last 12 days. The fighting around Tetovo has been going on for about two weeks.

Chris Burns has more on the Macedonian government's assault and the ethnic Albanian rebel resistance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fire guts a house on the mountainside and begins to consume another, left behind by Macedonian forces that blast away at ethnic Albanian rebels and send them into retreat, an offensive that resumed after the guerrillas rejected a government ultimatum to lay down their weapons.

Helicopter gunships on loan from Ukraine strike at the rebels from the air. Aging Soviet-made tanks are sent in to reinforce the troops with more firepower. Armored personnel carriers are cheered on by Slavic Macedonians in this mainly ethnic Albanian city. The troops cautiously make their way up winding mountain roads by vehicle and on foot under cover of heavy machine gun fire.

(on camera): Macedonian forces relaunched their offensive with a heavy artillery barrage at dawn, aimed at softening up rebel positions. But the guerrillas have shown stiff resistance. They have dominated these heights since the fighting began, making it a high- risk operation for the Macedonian troops.

(voice-over): High-risk not only because of the uphill battle, but also the danger of injuring or killing civilians. Heavy casualties in the mainly ethnic Albanian mountain villages could cause Albanian leaders to withdraw their backing of the government's policy, that is: neutralize the rebels and proceed with dialogue toward granting more rights to Albanians, who make up more than a quarter of the country's population.

The government says those concerns, as well as heavy rebel gunfire, are slowing the army's advance. But officials are optimistic they can quickly drive the guerrillas out of the area.

NIKOLA DIMITROV, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The number of these people and the military potential of these people encourage us to believe that it will be a matter of days, not more.

BURNS: That's if the troops don't get bogged down in battle trying to eradicate the guerrillas without destroying villages to save them.

Chris Burns, CNN, Tetovo, Macedonia.


BAKHTIAR: United States President Bush says he would like to help Macedonia resolve its conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels near the Kosovo border. NATO has stepped up efforts to keep people and arms from getting to the rebels.

Now Kelly Wallace has more on the United States' response to the fighting in Macedonia.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the ground and the air, Macedonian security forces launched an offensive against rebels who say they are fighting for the rights of the Albanian minority. Senior Bush administration officials say the Macedonian government acted with "the utmost restraint."

While President Bush, after a morning jog, expressed hope the U.S. and its NATO allies can help bring an end to the latest Balkan conflict.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hoping, of course, that the government is stable and we're able to seal off the border.

WALLACE: The president, aides say, was referring to NATO's stepped up patrols along the border between Kosovo and Macedonia, which try to interdict arms shipments for the rebels. The president's words: the latest signs of increased public involvement by the Bush administration. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the Macedonian president.

The Pentagon sent several unmanned, surveillance planes to the region. And Mr. Bush, in a statement, tried to make clear the U.S. does not support what the ethnic Albanian rebels are doing. Some observers, though, say actions, not words, are needed.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: Even if the Bush administration says they oppose violence, that's not good enough, because the rebels still think that, deep down, we are on their side.

WALLACE: And so, critics say, the U.S. should be willing to provide more troops to beef up the border.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: By now, we should have learned the lessons of recent history. That what happens in the Balkans will affect the rest of Europe. We cannot stand by and think it will stop on its own.

WALLACE: The NATO Secretary General George Robertson, is asking NATO members to commit 1200 additional troops. But the U.S., which recently doubled its presence along the border to 300 troops, says it has no plans to send in more.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think that this situation calls for a big injection of additional troops right into the fighting.

WALLACE (on camera): The fighting in Macedonia represents the first flash point in the Balkans confronting the administration, and it must walk a delicate balance between backing the government and not increasing sympathy for the ethnic Albanian rebels, which could lead to an even larger conflict.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.


BAKHTIAR: It's not an easy world in school or at play. Preparedness and smart decisions can help you navigate pitfalls. "Life Skills," a special segment on CNN NEWSROOM, shows students like you sharing and coping in a world that is diverse, creative and highly competitive.

"Life Skills": social chemistry, social choice, listening and learning. That's tomorrow.

OK, we've all been hit by high gas prices recently, prices so high that people are seeking out ways to lower them. Now some think they've found a solution in Alaska. Their plan: to drill in the state's Arctic National Wildlife (INAUDIBLE) abundant oil.

Opponents say such a move would devastate Alaska's wildlife.

Natalie Pawelski has more.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the surface, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a wild and natural treasure. Underneath, it is, potentially, one of the biggest oil fields in North America.

MARK RUBIN, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: That's where the oil is. It's the best place to look for oil in the United States, and there's predicted to be more oil there than any other place that we can look for oil in the U.S.

JIM WALTMAN, WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Oil development in the arctic wildlife refuge makes as much sense as chopping down the giant redwoods for firewood. We don't need the oil, and that oil would not start flowing for at least 10 years.

PAWELSKI: Congress set up the huge arctic national wildlife refuge, about the size of South Carolina, back in 1980. It left the door open for drilling on about 8 percent of the refuge, along the coastal plain.

(on camera): Plans to drill in the arctic refuge were on track during the presidency of George Bush the elder. Then, in 1989, the Exxon Valdez disaster derailed that plan. The oil industry says it's learned a lot since then, and it's time to reconsider.

RUBIN: We've shown, through our Prudhoe Bay fields and through other fields, that we can produce oil up there and protect wildlife at the same time.

PAWELSKI (voice-over): At Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, North America's biggest oil field, the most noticeable wildlife, the caribou, seem to be thriving. But that doesn't satisfy environmentalists.

WALTMAN: That place today is a web of industrialization, more than 1,000 square miles, and emits more air pollution than many U.S. cities. This kind of industrial development has no place inside the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

PAWELSKI: Nobody's sure exactly how much oil is under the Arctic Refuge. The government's best guess: At current oil prices, about six billion barrels would be worth pumping out. That's roughly enough to supply all U.S. oil needs for about 11 months. A potential gusher that, the energy lobbyist says, cannot be ignored. On a wilderness, conservationists say must be preserved.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN


BAKHTIAR: Be sure to mark your calendars for April 9, when "Worldview" brings you more on the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Again, that's coming your way April 9.

In "Worldview" today, we examine the environment, business and politics. We'll find out how technology is being tapped to help protect wildlife. We'll take you to an elk crossing in the United States. And we'll visit Cuba, an island nation that is a geographical neighbor to the U.S. But in this case, being neighbors doesn't necessarily mean being neighborly.

First, though, a stop in Amman, Jordan, where a dispute over Iraq is clouding preparations for an Arab summit that kicks off on Tuesday. Iraq wants tough economic sanctions lifted following the Gulf War, but neighboring Kuwait is concerned about renewed Iraqi aggression. Another key item on the summit agenda is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rula Amin reports.


RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With very tight security, Amman is preparing for the Arab summit. Colonel Moammar Gadhafi was the first Arab leader to arrive in Amman for Tuesday's meeting.

Also arriving, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He will address the Arab Summit on Tuesday. Annan is the first U.N. chief to speak before an Arab summit.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: I'm extremely happy to have been invited by his majesty to attend this summit at a critical stage in the affairs of this region and the Arab world.

AMIN: Arab leaders will also have a message for Kofi Annan. They're asking the Security Council for international protection for the Palestinian people. But an Arab view on U.S. sanctions on Iraq is yet to be finalized. Despite two days of intensive discussions, Arab foreign ministers have failed to come up with a unified stand on the Iraq issue.

Baghdad is demanding a clear call from Arab leaders to end the 10-year-old sanctions on Iraq. So far, this hasn't been possible. Some of the Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have a list of preconditions. The issue is being deferred to the leaders to sort out when they meet on Tuesday.

FARQUO AL-SHARA'A, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: There is a draft which is being prepared by a number of Arab foreign ministers, and this resolution will be submitted to the Iraqi side and to the Kuwait and Saudi side. If it is agreeable for both sides, then it will be included in the final communicate.

AMIN: While Iraq has overshadowed the discussions, there has been some consensus on other items of the agenda: political and financial support for the Palestinian uprising; continued support for a peace process based on U.N. resolutions; demanding international protection for Palestinians; threatening to sever relations with any country that moves its embassy to Jerusalem; more Arab economic cooperation.

The leaders will still have to decide on how much money to give to the Palestinians, and through which channels. And even on this issue, the Iraqis are putting other Arab leaders on the spot. Baghdad seems willing to drop the thorny issue of sanctions if the summit leaders will put more focus on helping the Palestinians. Iraq wants Arab leaders to endorse its request that the United Nations approves Baghdad's decision to donate 800 million U.S. dollars from its oil revenues to the Palestinians.

LABEEB QAMHAWI, POLITICAL ANALYST: If they say yes, it means the Iraqi regime would score a hit among the Palestinians and Arab masses. President Saddam Hussein will be declared a hero, and that puts other Arab states, especially Saudis and Kuwaitis, who are rich states, on the spot. The have to match this amount of money even more.

AMIN: Arab leaders are expected to re-confirm their support for the Palestinians. Palestinian officials say they are grateful for the pledges, but they want to see real action.

(on camera): Arab public opinion is also demanding strong action. Iraq's determination to help the Palestinians adds more pressure on the Arab leaders to deliver.

Rula Amin, CNN, Amman.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Cuba and the United States have long been suspicious of each other. Though separated by just 90 miles, the two countries are worlds apart politically. The U.S., of course, is a democracy. Ever since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, Cuba has been a communist state. The two countries have squabbled ever since. First there was the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, then the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1980, there was a dispute over tens of thousands of Cuban refugees pouring into the U.S. known as the Mariel boat lift. And, of course, who could forget the case of Elian Gonzalez, the boy whose Miami relatives tried to keep in the U.S. until federal officials stepped in and sent him back to his father in Cuba. Now add another dispute to the list, this one over a diplomat and her dog.

Lucia Newman has the story.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do dogs and dogma have in common? This Afghan hound, for one -- her name is Havana. And along with her owner, the head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba, they've been expelled from the local kennel club. The letter from the Cuban National Association of Afghan Hounds accuses Vicky Huddleston of engaging in hostile activities against Cuba and its government, adding, "Her behavior is incompatible with the morals and ethics of the club."

Huddleston suggests it may have been a case of sour grapes on the part of the president of the club, whose dog lost to Havana in a recent show.

VICKY HUDDLESTON, HEAD OF U.S. DIPLOMATIC MISSION: You know, there's been a lot of anti-American rhetoric from the Cuban government. And she probably thought: Well, I can get rid of the competition that way.

NEWMAN: Whatever the reason, the bizarre incident may be a sign of what many analysts see as an escalation in the political dog fighting between Cuba and the United States. President Fidel Castro threw the first salvo at President George W. Bush just days after his inauguration.

"I hope he's not as stupid as he looks or as much of a mafioso as he seems," said the Cuban leader. Washington fired back by dismissing President Castro as "an aging starlet who will not change in his lifetime."

(on camera): All this amid a major Cuban offensive against so- called Yankee imperialism, which President Castro nicknamed the "battle of ideas," a battle which denounces not only Washington, but also its diplomats here in Cuba.

(voice-over): It's no wonder, says Mrs. Huddleston that she, her staff, and, of course, her pet Afghan, feel like they're being kept in the dog house.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: While diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba remain strained, business relations aren't much better. Restrictions are in place preventing American companies from doing much significant trade with Cuba. But for other countries, it's a different story.

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has been largely on its own economically and has had to look elsewhere for help.

As Lucia Newman continues, foreign companies are stepping in, in hopes of striking it rich.


NEWMAN (voice-over): Ten years after Cuba declared itself in a state of economic emergency because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, investors from all over the capitalist world -- except the United States -- are here exploring business opportunities. But while a decade ago, almost anyone with a bit of cash was welcome, today Cuba is being choosy, demanding that investors meet certain criteria.

MARTA LOMAS, CUBAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND COOPERATION (through translator): We're looking for their contribution in three fundamental areas: technology, new markets -- especially for non- traditional exports -- and, of course, providing capital.

NEWMAN: Despite U.S. legislation aimed at discouraging foreign investment in Cuba, Canadians, Europeans and Latin Americans are continuing to set up joint ventures with the Cuban government in everything from soft drink factories, oil and natural gas production to the search for gold in sunken ships off the coast of Havana.

What isn't up for grabs, though, is what many investors covet most: real estate. After authorizing 17 housing projects in Havana, the government has frozen any new investments that would allow non- Cubans to buy property, arguing priority should be given to tourism. But there's another reason: Cuba's fear that people it considers undesirable could take advantage of the economic opening.

LOMAS (through translator): It doesn't worry us that someone who is connected with us, who is working with us, have a house here. But it concerned us very much that, of the 500 apartments that were first sold, less than 10 percent were bought by people who had contact with Cuba.

NEWMAN: There are also other restrictions: With rare exceptions, Cuba rules out 100 percent foreign ownership of businesses.

LOMAS (through translator): The road we're taking is very well defined. Our goal is to build socialism. And we haven't renounced it.

NEWMAN (on camera): Translation: Cuba may be willing to share some of the profits with its capitalist partners, but it still intends for the economy to remain firmly in the hands of the communist state.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


BAKHTIAR: We move north to the United States and to its Northwest and the state of Washington. Washington is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Canada, and has lush forests and tall mountains. The Rocky Mountains run through it, as does the Columbia River. Fishing, especially salmon fishing, is an important business.

Washington is nicknamed the Evergreen State. Today, we focus on its wildlife, particularly the elk. Elk belong to the deer family and are actually the largest members of that group. The American elk is also called the wapiti. And to make things more confusing, in North America, elk are also called moose. They're different animals, but closely related.

Today: What happens when elk, or moose, are on the loose? Innovative technology seems to be keeping cars and elk from colliding in one Washington town.

Lilian Kim has more on what's believed to be the world's first interactive elk crossing.


LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Overlooking Peugeot Sound in the small town of Sequim, Roosevelt elk and man live side by side, but not always in harmony. Police officer Jim Whitaker learned that the hard way last summer.

JIM WHITAKER, POLICE OFFICER, SEQUIM, WASHINGTON: It scared the living out of me and raised my blood pressure a few points.

KIM: His patrol car hit a 700-pound elk.

WHITAKER: There was no doubt about it. It was like running into a brick wall.

KIM: In the past seven years, there have been 15 elk-related accidents on Sequim's main artery: Highway 101. But six specially designed lights along a three-mile stretch should help elk and motorists coexist.

SHELLY AMENT, WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE: If the animals are within approximately a quarter-mile, a half-mile of the highway, then the lights will start flashing.

KIM: State wildlife officials placed radio collars on a handful of elk: leaders of the herd. And those collars trigger the warning lights with a signal that the signs can detect thanks to receivers mounted high above.

AMENT: Our hope is that individuals who see this will slow down, and if they don't do that, at least be a little more aware.

KIM (on camera): It's too soon to say for sure if these lights are making a difference. But since they were installed last summer, there's been only one accident between car and elk.

(voice-over): Officer Whitaker hopes the warning lights will prevent accidents like his.

WHITAKER: I slow down. And I'm very leery about the elk. You know, once you run into one, you don't want to run into another one.

KIM: And that's the idea: allowing man and elk to live together without running into each other.

Lilian Kim, CNN, Sequim, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: Some of you have already learned about the first human inhabitants of the Earth. Current theories suggest the so-called Clovis people arrived around 11,500 years ago. But in Bell County in Central Texas, archaeologists are uncovering evidence that suggests humans might have roamed North America nearly 1,000 years earlier than that.

Tony Clark has the story.


TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This peaceful, shady cove, bubbling with fresh water springs, nestled between limestone hills and low flat-lying prairie was, archaeologists say, a frequent stopping place for perhaps the first humans to inhabit North America.

MICHAEL COLLINS, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: These little flat spots were here in the past. They would dry out in the dry months when the water table went down, and this would just be a nice, flat, little, grassy, shady spot, just ideal for camping.

CLARK: The conventional theory is humans first came to the Americas across a land bridge from Asia about 11,500 years ago, the so-called Clovis people.

But the discovery of a site 1,000 years older in South America has raised questions about that theory, and started archaeologist Michael Collins on a quest to find evidence of pre-Clovis people in North America.

COLLINS: We see hints, whispers that maybe there are some earlier cultural remains there, can't say if for sure yet.

CLARK: What Collins has found is an artifact-rich site where Clovis people apparently returned again and again.

COLLINS: Which is different than the usual idea of nomadism, where for a week or so they were here and then they would pick up, and the next night when they came home, it was at another place, and stay there for a week or so, and then move on.

CLARK: How do archaeologists know Clovis people were here?

DAVID MELTZER, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: The Clovis occupation is marked by these very, very distinctive projectile points or spear points.

CLARK: And one of the best materials for making those spear points is the stone found at this site.

MICHAEL EDWARDS, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY: So what they come to the site and they find the raw material, which was the Edwards chert, they would then flake this down to various stages, you know, to the point where eventually they produced something like this.

CLARK: The Texas site has also provided examples of the ingenuity of the Clovis people, like this long serrated stone.

COLLINS: The wear that shows up here under high power magnification can only be produced by cutting meat. This is the original serrated steak knife, maybe for mammoth stakes, I don't know.

CLARK: Also found: stone etchings that scientists believe must have been done by people. Last month, Marni Francell found three.

MARNI FRANCELL, ARCHAEOLOGIST: You sit and look at it and think, yeah, that is exactly what it is.

CLARK: Yet the thing Collins wants most find continues to elude him.

COLLINS: Before our investigation of that site ends, we have to know as surely as we can whether there is, or is not, evidence for pre-Clovis at that site.

CLARK: And if there is, such a finding could rewrite history.

Tony Clark, CNN, Bell County, Texas.


BAKHTIAR: And that's a wrap for us here on NEWSROOM. We'll see you back here tomorrow same time, same place. Have a great day.

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