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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 29, 2001

Aired March 29, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome to the Thursday show. I'm Tom Haynes. Let's get a quick look at the rundown.

The United States Congress examines the controversial issue of cloning humans, raising many social and ethical questions. Our "Science Desk" will take us back in time, way back to an era that may have paved the way for the dinosaur age. In "Worldview": Russian leader Vladimir Putin makes his most sweeping Cabinet changes since becoming president a year ago. And, in "Chronicle": Some students in Washington State are learning firsthand how to save, make and borrow money.

Today's "Top Story": the brave new and controversial world of cloning. The hot-button issue of human cloning confronted lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week: the prospect no longer an idea relegated to works of fiction.

Cloning moved into our consciousness more than three years ago with Dolly, a sheep clone made by scientists in Great Britain. Since then, researchers have successfully cloned sheep, cows, goats, pigs and mice. Despite this, the success rate is still low. In many cases, cloned animals die at birth. And there have been a high percentage of miscarried and deformed clones. Some of the clones that do survive and reach adulthood appear normal, but may not be. Such is the inherent problem in human cloning.

Opponents say the science is not advanced enough to clone a human safely. They say it's unethical to allow human cloning, because it turns human beings into guinea pigs. One of the many ethical problems, say experts: Cloning could lead to categories of superior and inferior people, raising the possibility of people facing discrimination because of their genetic makeup.

Cloning advocates faced blunt opposition on Capitol Hill. During a House subcommittee Wednesday, lawmakers argued against the application of the technology on humans. A federal moratorium bans the use of federal funding for that research that attempts to create a child by cloning.

Christy Feig reports on the moral and medical implications of human cloning. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a debate that brought the pages of "A Brave New World" to Capitol Hill: two groups who want to clone humans versus a congressional panel and many experts who think the idea is horrendous.

PANOS ZAVOS, FERTILITY SPECIALIST: Those that say ban it, those would not be the Neil Armstrongs that would fly us to the moon.

RUDOLF JAENISCH, BIOLOGIST: From the experience with animals, we can clearly predict how cloned humans will look like. The great majority will be abnormal. Some may live, but they may not be normal.

A group called the Raelian Movement wants to clone a 10-month-old boy who died of a heart defect. The group's scientific director read a letter by the boy's father.

BRIGITTE BOISSELIER, CLONING ADVOCATE: "At the age of 38, I was blessed with a perfect baby boy. My wife and I were not expecting this miracle. As a matter of fact, I never even considered having children. The day our son was born was both the happiest and saddest day of my life."

FEIG: But the story didn't sell the congressional panel.

REP. JAMES GREENWOOD (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the reality that you were to try to bring such a baby into existence, you would give this poor couple yet another happiest and saddest day of their life.

FEIG: Experts who have worked with animal cloning are convinced the science isn't ready to move forward. They say the vast majority of cloned animals have problems.

DR. MARK WESTHUSIN, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY: During the first trimester, approximately 90 percent of the pregnancies are lost or abort.

FEIG: One leading ethicist agrees.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST: It's an open and shut case against human cloning right now and for the foreseeable future. It's just not safe.

FEIG (on camera): The Food and Drug Administration says they have jurisdiction over any attempts to clone a human being in the U.S. But the bigger question being wrestled by this committee is whether the U.S. should join a growing list of other countries and ban human cloning.

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Here in the United States, it's legal to clone a human being in all but four states. Lawmakers are debating whether to make it illegal all over the country. The White House says President Bush opposes human cloning and wants to help Congress pass legislation to prevent it.

Elizabeth Cohen reports on two groups who say they're ready to try human cloning despite the opposition.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The woman on the left, Brigitte Boisselier, says she plans to clone a human being in the next year. The one on the right, her daughter, says she's ready to be the surrogate mother to that clone.

BRIGITTE BOISSELIER, BIOCHEMIST: I think we have everything we need to proceed now with human.

COHEN: Boisselier and her daughter are members of a religion called the Raelians. They've been trying to clone a human for years. They say by the end of next month, they expect to clone an embryo that will then be implanted into a surrogate.

And they're not the only ones. Panayiotis Zavos, a former professor at the University of Kentucky, has teamed up with Italian researchers to produce a human clone.

Both groups are being taken pretty seriously, seriously enough that they've been asked to testify at a hearing on human cloning in front of a House subcommittee. Lawmakers are trying to determine whether there should be a federal ban on human cloning.

(on camera): Most scientists and bioethicists say that Zavos and the Raelians are being completely irresponsible. They say animal experiments have shown time and time again that clones turn out to be deformed or defective. And ethically speaking, making a defective animal is one thing; making a defective human being is quite another.

(voice-over): Veterinarian Jonathan Hill says about three- quarters of his attempts to clone cows ended in miscarriages. And of the ones that were born, only one out of four were normal.

DR. JONATHAN HILL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: Their liver, their lungs, their heart, their blood vessels, their placental vessels and the placenta itself are often abnormal at birth.

COHEN: And even in clones that are born without problems, like this calf, strange things can happen later in life. For example, these mice: The one on the left is normal, the other a clone. Researchers say, for no apparent reason, he suddenly became obese as an adult.

MIT biologist Rudolf Jaenisch says these and other genetic misfires suggest that cloning humans would be a crap shoot.

JAENISCH: One essentially uses humans as guinea pigs. And one shouldn't do this at a stage when we don't know the basic biology behind the failures of clones.

COHEN: So you might be thinking: What about Dolly? She's a clone. She just celebrated her fourth birthday and is fine. Jaenisch says it seems that way, but...

JAENISCH: My question is with the brain of Dolly: totally normal? We don't know that. I mean, to be on the field and graze and to produce, you probably don't need much brain function.

COHEN: But the Raelians say they have ways of testing the embryo during pregnancy. And if it looks abnormal they have a plan.

BOISSELIER: We anticipate to do abortion. And that's how we will address that issue.

COHEN: The Raelians say they have it all: people who want to be clones, women who want to carry the clones, and the scientific know- how to do it.

BOISSELIER: As a scientist and as the person who has been excited for that to happen for years, I'm telling you I'm winning also.

COHEN: But other scientists in bioethicists hope by bringing their case before Congress that they can win and stop human cloning, at least for now.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


HAYNES: "In the Headlines" today: Violence in the Middle East intensifies, as Israel attacks several Palestinian targets. The Israeli military says it hit specific targets in Gaza and the West Bank town of Ramallah in response to recent terrorist attacks against Israelis. The offensive came just hours after a suicide bombing killed two Israeli teenagers and just after Arab leaders in Jordan wrapped up their first summit in 10 years. One of the topics they had discussed, coincidentally, was the violence in the Middle East.

Mike Hanna has more on the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.


MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Helicopter gunships launch attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli Defense Force says the targets were carefully selected -- a primary focus: facilities of the elite Force 17 Palestinian police unit, which the Israeli government has accused of complicity in the current wave of bombing attacks in Israel. Force 17 serves as a personal bodyguard of the Palestinian Authority president.

RA'ANAN GISSIN, SPOKESMAN FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What we have done, it serves as a warning. We still hope that the Palestinian Authority will come to its senses and we will be willing to negotiate peacefully.

MEIR SHEETRIT, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: The last thing we want, and this government want, and Mr. Sharon want is escalation. We don't want to see escalation. We would like very much to see that all the terror actions and the violence should stop.

HANNA: The Israeli attack came in the wake of three bomb blasts in the past two days -- the latest: Two youths, age 13 and 14, were killed while waiting for transport to a religious study school in the West Bank. Another four students were injured when a Palestinian detonated what police say was a suicide nail bomb.

The militant Hamas organization claimed responsibility for the attacks and released a videotape of the university student which it said carried out a suicide bomb attack Tuesday in which more than 30 Israelis were injured. Reading from a prepared text, the student said he was one of 12 suicide bombers sent out by Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority has rejected Israeli allegations of involvement in the bombing attacks. And a senior minister has said the Israeli military action is further evidence of the need for permanent international observers in the region.

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: Mr. Sharon is pointing his finger at us, saying Arafat is responsible, the Palestinian Authority is responsible. What does he have to hide by rejecting the concept of international observers? Why do they reject bringing in international observers?

HANNA: The Israeli helicopter attacks were relatively brief, less than 30 minutes.

(on camera): The question now: To what extent will Israeli attacks against those targets in Palestinian territories help deter suicide bombers from carrying out attacks in Israel?

Mike Hanna, CNN, Jerusalem.


HAYNES: In "Science Desk": You no doubt have learned about the extinction of dinosaurs. The prehistoric animals were wiped out more than 65 million years ago. Now scientists say there was a much more devastating event millions of years before that which wiped out 90 percent of life on Earth.

Ann Kellan has more on that theory.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scientists say 250 million years ago before even the dinosaurs existed, an asteroid, four to eight miles across, slammed into Earth with a force of a million or more earthquakes. That impact caused volcano eruptions that buried much of the Earth in lava, and kicked up so much dust and ash it blocked the sun's rays, making the Earth dark and cold, destroying most of its life.

RICHARD BAMBACH, VIRGINIA TECH: This is probably the most famous type of animal that existed in the Paleozoic. It's called the trilobite. And the trilobites went completely extinct.

KELLAN: As did most of the 15,000 species on Earth at the time, including shellfish and coral. Fish fared better than most.

BAMBACH: These very active animals actually made it through with only about 40 percent rather than 90 percent extinction.

KELLAN: No one knows where this asteroid hit. But others have left their mark, like this smaller one in Arizona. Does this mean it could happen again? If so, when?

You shouldn't worry, say scientists. They calculate an asteroid hits Earth once every million years. We know where the big ones are. And even if a smaller one was coming at us, we'd get plenty of notice.

CHRIS CHYBA, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: We would almost certainly have decades, if not centuries, to go before that impact would happen. So we'd have a long time to think about what to do about it.

KELLAN: Scientists made this discovery by digging deep into the Earth's core. They found gases only found in outer space, trapped in carbon molecules called buckminsterfullerenes, or buckyballs. Scientists now say those alien gases rode in on a speeding asteroid.

Even though the devastating impact destroyed life, it paved the way for the dinosaur era 25 million years later.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," two familiar topics: politics and religion. On this date in 1638, the first Swedish colonists in America established a Lutheran settlement in Delaware. And on March 29, 1882 a society of Catholic men, the Knights of Columbus, was chartered.

Today, we travel to China to learn about Muslims struggling to practice their religion. We also check out the changing face of the Roman Catholic Church.

First to Russia, where the changing face of government takes center stage.

Jill Dougherty reports: The changes include appointing the first woman to a key government position.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The changes President Vladimir Putin announced will give Russia its first civilian defense minister. Sergei Ivanov is no stranger to the military. Until last year, he was a general in the FSB, the former KGB, and remains a trusted confidant of his fellow former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin -- Ivanov's most recent job: head of the president's National Security Council.

He will replace Marshal Igor Sergeyev, who's past retirement age. Sergeyev stays on as an adviser.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As you see, civilians have been appointed to key positions in military institutions. That was done deliberately. It's a step to demilitarize the life of Russian society. But in addition to civilians put in charge of military institutions, professionals are being appointed as their deputies in all those institutions.

DOUGHERTY: The Russian Defense Ministry also gets its first woman in a senior position as deputy defense minister. President Putin also says the changes are linked to the situation in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

PUTIN (through translator): This is a well-thought, deliberate decision. It is, in part, connected to the changing situation in the Caucasus region, including Chechnya. Another important component of the Security Council work is the struggle against corruption, money laundering and illegal money-transfers abroad.

DOUGHERTY: Naming Sergei Ivanov to head the defense ministry, says one analyst, could give a boost to Russian military reform.

ANDREI KORTUNOV, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that Putin appreciated the job that Mr. Ivanov has done within the Security Council. And he believes that Mr. Ivanov is the architect of the defense reform. Therefore, it would be logical to suggest that the architect should go and implement what he designed.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): It's not a shakeup; it's more like a reshuffle. Left untouched is the president's economic team. But Mr. Putin is promising more changes to come.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Now to the smallest independent country in the world: Vatican City. It's home to the largest Christian church in the world and serves as the spiritual and governmental center of the Roman Catholic Church. In spite of the fact that the entire country of Vatican City fits inside the city of Rome in Italy, it is foreign soil to Italians. Vatican City has been an independent country since 1929 and is ruled by the Pope. And even though it's only 109 acres in area, it exercises spiritual sway over millions of Roman Catholics throughout the world.

Here's Jim Bittermann with more.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On his first full day as a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, an 82-year-old Jesuit priest was doing a little exploring. Like all those Pope John Paul II elevated to the College of Cardinals, Avery Dulles, the son of American diplomat John Foster Dulles, was assigned a church in Rome to look after, and he was out to inspect his new responsibility -- and perhaps ponder a little how his pope had overnight transformed ordinary priests and bishops to princes of the Catholic Church.

CARDINAL AVERY DULLES, COLLEGE OF CARDINALS: People thought they would never be made cardinals, and they are made cardinals. So he always has a few surprises.

BITTERMANN: The pope's reign has indeed been full of surprises, and this week's consistory will certainly be counted among them. Without warning or real necessity, against his own edict and conventional wisdom, John Paul chose to expand with a single stroke the number of voting members of the College of Cardinals by more than 40 percent.

While cardinals have enormous influence and give advice and counsel to the pope, he in the end governs as an absolute monarch, and they have little more real power than the church's bishops -- except in one crucial area. When the time comes, only cardinals vote on who should be the next pope, and only those under 80 years old qualify for a ballot.

As of today, there are 135 of these cardinal electors, 15 more than the limit of 120 set by the pope himself. So why did he create so many new cardinals, and why such a diverse group?

It seemed evident John Paul had some practical considerations in mind. He used the consistory to repay papal servants, honor distinguished churchmen, and fill vacancies in church territories which normally have a residential cardinal. But he also brought clear and irrevocable change to the geographic and, to some extent, the political composition of the body of churchmen which will choose his successor.

Observers were stunned, for instance, at the elevation of Germany's Karl Lehmann to the College of Cardinals.

JOHN ALLEN JR., "NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": He's considered too moderate, too liberal, by some here in the Vatican. But the pope is supposed to be the pope of all. And many people close to the pope would say these nominations illustrate that he is trying to be that spiritual father of all by ensuring that all of the different ways of being Catholic are in some sense represented in this college.

BITTERMANN: But the cardinals in the college's class of 2001 also represent a clear geographic shift. Some among them believe it to be a necessity created by new global realities.

CARDINAL WILFRID NAPIER, ARCHBISHOP OF DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: I think there's recognition there that the balance may have swung to the Southern Hemisphere. Certainly as far as numbers of Catholics are concerned, I think that is true. Were there one from the point of view of influence, I think it's still very much in the North. But I think if you are just looking at where the numbers are, and also the vitality of the faith, I would say, it's very -- certainly down in the South Africa and Latin America.

BITTERMANN: That fact leads many to believe that the influence of church leaders in the Southern Hemisphere will inevitably grow as well -- among other reasons, because leaders from underdeveloped nations, who share similar problems of poverty and social justice, tend to be strongly unified behind those sensitive to their difficulties.

With cardinals from Latin American countries holding 20 percent of the votes for pope, and nearly half of the members of the College of Cardinals representing lesser-developed nations, many of the newly created princes of the church were quite openly predicting the leader of the world's 1 billion Catholics will one day soon come from the Southern Hemisphere.

CARDINAL ANTONIO GONZALEZ ZUMARRAGA, ARCHBISHOP OF QUITO, ECUADOR (through translator): It is possible. I believe that the pope to come will have to keep in tune with the needs and aspirations of the current world, and provide answers using evangelization adapted to different cultures.

BITTERMANN: According to those who follow Vatican politics, one certain impact of the consistory John Paul held this week is that it is no longer inevitable that popes come from Europe.

MARCO POLITI, VATICAN AUTHOR: Twenty years ago, when he was elected, it was clear that the key role within the church was passing from Italy to Europe, in this case to Eastern Europe. And now the key role is passing from Europe to South America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one size fits all.

BITTERMANN: As the new cardinals examine the trappings which go along with their new offices, a secret was revealed of how one can find a universal fit among the diverse leaders of the Vatican's Universal Church. But when the time comes to select a successor to John Paul II, the diversity of those same new cardinals could very well make finding the right fit to lead the church that much more difficult.

It is diversity, though, that did not happen by accident. The pope himself emphasized, as he created his new cardinals, that they come from 27 countries and four continents.

(on camera): The shades of philosophical differences among the cardinals, one Vatican observer here believes, will guarantee that when it comes time for them to elect a new pope, there could be considerable debate, and some in Rome are already predicting that the next conclave at which a new pope would be elected could be much longer than those of the past.

(voice-over): Because he has staunchly maintained his traditionalist views on matters of faith, there is a tendency to consider John Paul II closed to change in general. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As this week's consistory again demonstrated, his 22 years as pope have been full of change -- not in the faith, but in the ways of managing it.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Vatican City.


HAYNES: From one religion to another, we turn now to Islam, a major world religion belonging to the Semitic family. Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Their basic beliefs stem from the idea of complete surrender to the will of Allah, which is Arabic for "God." Muslims view Allah as the creator, sustainer and restorer of the world, who has made known his will through Islamic scriptures called the Koran.

According to Islamic doctrine, these scriptures were revealed through Allah's messenger, Muhammad. But embracing Islam is becoming more of a challenge in China, where followers are facing increased resistance from their national government.

Rebecca MacKinnon has more.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friday prayers in Kashgar: On China's Central Asian frontier, most of the population are Muslim. The largest ethnic group here are Turkic- speaking people called Uighurs.

The devout are free to worship in government-approved mosques. but Xinjiang's religious leaders must balance between their God and the Chinese Communist Party.

SADIK KARI AJI, ID KAH MOSQUE (through translator): I tell my followers not to oppose the government's policies and to do things which are good for social stability. We discourage fighting or opposing the government.

MACKINNON: Despite a government crackdown, fundamentalist Islam is believed to be growing in Xinjiang.

(on camera): Activists linked to what authorities call the reactionary Muslim organization were executed this summer. But the question is: What do ordinary people here in Xinjiang really want?

(voice-over): All over the province, posters and signs call on people to support ethnic unity and oppose separatism. People caught supporting independence face arrest. But when I asked one man off- camera about his hopes for the future, he said, "I hope we can have an Islamic country."

At the Kashgar Teacher's College, future schoolteachers of Xinjiang learn Marxist economics in their native Uighur language. They also learn that dropping their Islamic faith will help their career.

ABDURAHMAN AMAD, KASHGAR TEACHER'S COLLEGE (through translator): We educate them to believe in science, not religion. But if they get involved in separatism or illegal gatherings, we deal with them according to the law.

MACKINNON: Across town in the city's model kindergarten, traditional ethnic song and dance is passed onto the next generation. Authorities say they hope their parent's religious beliefs will be left behind.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Xinjiang, China.


HAYNES: And speaking of money, what do you do when you're out of it? Well, most of us head straight to the bank. But for some high school kids in the U.S. state of Washington, it's even easier than that: They head straight down the hall.

Lilian Kim reports on a program meant to give students a head start in the world of personal finance.


LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this credit union, kids are in control of the cash.


KIM: Typical teens that work at an atypical branch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. Have a great day.

KIM: One where no withdrawal is too small.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I get a dollar out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what is your account number?

KIM: Located in the cafeteria, Snow Fall's Credit Union (ph) in Snoqualmie, Washington, serves students at Mount Si High School. Here, all the money, accounts and transactions are real. Students can even apply for car loans.

RACHEL MCNAUL, HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It is easier for me to come here than, like, go somewhere after school, because I'm not old enough to drive yet.

KIM (on camera): The idea of the campus credit union is to teach these kids how to manage their money: everything from going out on a weekend to buying lunch at school.

JEREMY WINTER, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: You are going to be saving for the rest of your life. And you're going to be financing for the rest of your life. You might as well start early and get the basic ideas and the facts about it.

KIM (voice-over): With an adult supervisor on hand, student tellers receive school credit for their work. The results: hands-on banking experience and a taste of office politics, especially for the girl in charge.

STEPHANIE SALES, BRANCH MANAGER: It has been kind of hard, because I am the only junior in the class. And everybody else are seniors. And so -- I don't know, they are all older than me. And having to kind of delegate and make sure everything gets done has been kind of difficult.

KIM: But it's a program the school believes is worthwhile, designed to give real-world experiences that students can take to the bank.

Lilian Kim, CNN, Snoqualmie, Washington.


HAYNES: Take care and thanks for watching this Thursday. We'll see you back here tomorrow.



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