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NEWSROOM for June 25, 2001

Aired June 25, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Thanks for beginning your week with us.

We start off with a look at today's lineup.

Is time running out? It's a question of extradition for Slobodan Milosevic. Moving on to "Environment Desk," we examine the efforts to save the endangered manatee. After that, the "lost boys" of Sudan take center stage in "Worldview." Finally, we ask if cheating has become a chronic problem across the U.S.

We begin in Yugoslavia where that country's cabinet approved a decree this weekend that sets the stage to extradite former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the Netherlands. The decree took effect Sunday. It allows the Yugoslav government to extradite war crime suspects indicted by The Hague to be tried by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal. The U.N. Tribunal wants Milosevic to face charges of crimes against humanity. He was indicted in 1999 for his alleged part in atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and has been imprisoned in Belgrade since April 1 pending an investigation into allegations of corruption during his 13-year rule. Milosevic's lawyers say they're planning to appeal the decree on Monday. Supporters of Milosevic also are challenging the extradition.

Alessio Vinci has the story.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours after the Yugoslav government approved its decree on cooperation of U.N. war crimes tribunal, a handful of Milosevic's die hard supporters gathered in front of the prison where the former president has been held since April 1.

On the walls of the prison's gate, graffiti reads, "Milosevic Hero." And this is what these people here think about the man they still call their president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm here to defend President Milosevic and the graves of our sons killed in different wars. This decree is a shame for our nation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm here to give support to our president Milosevic and to say this government is ruling against the constitution, and they will all find themselves in this prison one day, but longer than our president.

VINCI: But away from the prison, support from Milosevic's extradition appears to be growing, while months ago, only a fraction of the population wanted him tried for war crimes at the Hague tribunal, now people appear to be equally divided between those in favor and those against extradition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Of course, we should hand him over. We should have done it in October last year. He should not have been left sitting in his villa, but transferred where he belongs.

VINCI: Most say Milosevic's expected extradition will not spark any huge protest; still, even from behind prison bars, the former Balkan strongman appears to be polarizing society.

STEVEN KIKSIC, ANALYST: We are still hostages of Milosevic, because I think that this story -- the name of Milosevic has this very symbolic value. We are talking about symbols. There's still lots of emotions in this story.

VINCI: Milosevic's lawyers say it could take at least two weeks before any war crime suspect is handed over to the war crimes tribunal, but most people here have seemed to accepted the fact that the former president will soon be tried at the Hague.

(on camera): And that besides proving Yugoslavia is serious about fulfilling its international commitments will also bring economic benefits. Once war crime suspects are handed over to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal, the West has promised to release hundreds of millions of dollars in economic assistance.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Belgrade.


BAKHTIAR: Voters in Albania headed to the polls this weekend to elect their next prime minister and parliament. More than 1,000 candidates were seeking election to the 155-seat parliament. Incumbent Prime Minister Ilir Meta of Albania's ruling Socialist Party is already claiming victory over former Prime Minister Sali Berisha of the Opposition Democrats. Meta is also rejecting charges that the government manipulated the vote. The Socialist Party has ruled the country of about three-and-a-half million people since 1997. And while the first officials results are expected later on Monday, polls indicate it's nearing another win.

Meanwhile, violence between Macedonia and government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels resumed this weekend, ending a temporary cease- fire, which had been brokered by the European Union. The shelling in this Balkan nation followed the resumption of peace talks between political parties of both sides. Juliette Terzieff reports.


JULIETTE TERZIEFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A flurry of Katyusha rockets slammed into Aracinovo blanketing the village in black smoke, the final volley of a three-day bombardment that threatened to plunge this Balkan nation into a full-scale civil war. Exerting immense pressure, international diplomats convinced the Macedonian authorities to halt their offensive against ethnic Albanian rebels there provided the rebels withdrawal to a safe distance from the capital's Skopje.

The European Union's Javier Solana brokered the truce, which he hopes will extend to the rest of the country. But shelling continued unabated in the northwest throughout the afternoon. Observers call the shaky truce neither a win nor a loss for either side but, instead, an open door to restart political negotiations to end the four-month long conflict. Previous attempts to reach a compromise have fallen apart, as have several cease-fires, and diplomats admit it will take a supreme effort by all sides to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

Juliette Terzieff for CNN, Skopje, Macedonia.


BAKHTIAR: It's been more than a year since the United Nations initiated the global AIDS trust fund, a program aimed at expanding access to AIDS drugs in developing countries. But so far, results have been negligible so this week, the United Nation's General Assembly is set to open its first special session on AIDS. The goal: to strengthen efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic.

Richard Roth has more.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations, it's goal: World peace. But the U.N. is declaring war, not on a country, but on a disease. First the time, the 189 members of the U.N. will hold a special meeting to debate a health issue. AIDS.

JEFFREY SACHS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: It is recognition of course that this is not a normal case of the disease. This is the greatest disease challenge that humanity has faced in modern history.

ROTH: Last year, the U.N. signature agency for protecting the world, the Security Council, held an unprecedented session on AIDS, declaring the disease a threat to international security. Now it is the general assembly's turn.

AMB. PENNY WENSLEY, CO-CHAIR, U.N. AIDS CONF.: There is essentially a strong wish on the part of member states to really have concrete actions and to define a set of targets.

ROTH: The biggest target: money. A proposal spearheaded by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, asked governments in the private sector to raise $7 to $10 billion annually for a AIDS war chest by 2005.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Let's be in no doubt, the world has the resources to defeat this epidemic if it really wants to.

ROTH: Annan's rallying cry has drawn less than one billion so far. The U.S. has offered $200 million, which angers an activist with AIDS.

EVAN RUDERMAN, HEALTH GAP COALITION: I don't understand how people could even conceive that the sum that United States has contributing would barely cover the cost of what we're talking about in terms of world epidemic.

ROTH: Though AIDS been here for 20 years, the battle has yet to be fully joined in many parts of the world. 36 million people are infected. In African countries, the U.N. estimates one in five adults has AIDS or the HIV virus that causes it.

The U.N. wants the AIDS conference to spark international action and spur public and private sector interest.

PETER PIOT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.N. AIDS PROGRAM: It will improve the understanding of the need to involve people with HIV. Those at most at risk in the fight against AIDS. But the world is not going to change suddenly because we have a U.N. conference.

ROTH (on camera): Most of the countries devastated by AIDS are those least able to pay for prevention and treatment; and setting targets and timetables might not be enough to end the epidemic.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


BAKHTIAR: Today, "Environment Desk" takes us to the waters just off the coast of Florida for a closer look at the manatee. The manatee is a very large, graceful sea mammal that looks a lot like an overgrown seal. Manatees grow to an average length of about 10-feet or 3-meters long. Despite its imposing presence, some conservationists say the manatee is an endangered species. Some boaters and fisherman disagree.

John Zarrella has the story.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Veterinarian Maya Dougherty has tended to well over 100 injured manatees during the past 10 years. Some she's had to watch die. But most she's been able to save.

MAYA DOUGHERTY, VETERINARIAN: This is the fishing line that we actually took from him and this is pretty much how it was set up. It was all around his flipper like this, deeply embedded, probably about 8 centimeters, deeply embedded. ZARRELLA: About a dozen manatees a year are brought into the Miami Seaquarium. Most are injured by boat propellers. Maya and her team wish their steady business would dry-up, but it's an indication, she says, that manatees are still very much endangered.

Not everyone agrees. A recent aerial survey put the manatee population at nearly 3,300; 600 more than the highest previous survey. Boating and fishing organizations say that's proof the manatee is making a comeback and further protections aren't necessary.

But that's exactly what's coming. As a result of a lawsuit settlement with environmental and animal protection groups, the federal government is preparing to designate 16 manatee refuges and sanctuaries. And, as part of another lawsuit, the state is beginning what will likely be contentious public hearings to determine new safe havens and speed zones.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: We need to be sensitive that there are places where manatees congregate. But you can do that with speed zones and with proper signage.

DENNIS HARRAH, FLORIDA MARINE PATROL: This is probably one of the best-marked speed zones in the state.

ZARRELLA: Yet, the highest manatee mortality rate anywhere in the state is right here, in Brevard County near the Kennedy Space Center. Signs aren't the answer, says the Florida Marine Patrol's Dennis Harrah.

HARRAH: You have signs here and people don't pay any attention to the sign. They just go well, I was going slow or I didn't see the sign. I mean, it's a six-foot-by-eight-foot sign with a big orange circle right in the middle of it and they go, I didn't see it.

ZARRELLA: Manatee protection has always been a tough sell because the creature is not the most photogenic. And now, more than a ripple of controversy lies ahead for this slow, docile marine mammal that at least some people find cute.

DOUGHERTY: Can you get any cuter than this? Look at this.

ZARRELLA: John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, an odyssey that began in Sudan and ended half a world away. It's the story of young people caught in a deadly conflict, losing their families and beginning a new life.

A word of caution to our viewers, their story is traumatic.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: They are known as the "lost boys," thousands of young men who were driven from their villages and separated from their families during Sudan's long-running civil war. Their parents are missing or even dead. They made an incredible, dangerous journey walking hundreds of kilometers from Sudan to Ethiopia. Then finally, in 1991, they arrived in a refugee camp in Kenya. There they languished in a crowded, dusty camp where food was in short supply, where health care could best be described as basic.

Today, they are young men, not boys anymore, and more than 3,500 are finding a new life and new hope in America -- part of the biggest resettlement program since the Vietnam War.

And while there is now much optimism for the future, John Vause reports there's still a long, hard road ahead.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In so many ways, this is a strange new world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, these aren't flavors, OK, but these are.

VAUSE: Where even ordinary canned beans seem extraordinary.


WIEU GARANG: Oh, fish.


GARANG: Oh, perch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever had perch? Do you have perch in the Sudan?


VAUSE: A place so very different from a Kenyan refugee camp.

GARANG: And I'm happy to see all these foods. It's not...

VAUSE (on camera): You're happy?

GARANG: I'm happy.

VAUSE: It must be confusing, though. I mean all these different kinds of cheese and...

GARANG: Yeah, I'm confused. I'm confused. I don't even know which I should take because I don't even know what it is.

VAUSE (voice-over): At first, Wieu thought it was soy.

(on camera): Cheese.

WIEU: Cheese.

VAUSE (voice-over): This is only their second time in a grocery store. They're amazed there is so much choice, so much abundance. These 10 Sudanese boys now live in Louisville, Kentucky, a mid-size city home to the Kentucky Derby. But these young men have never heard of the famous horse race. Right now, there are too many other wonders.

GARANG: I've seen a lot of cars that I've not seen. This is one of the confusions I've seen. I've never lived in a tall building that I haven't seen. That is one of the confusions. I've not been to where there is electronic houses that when you get into the house the house opens itself alone.

VAUSE: Wieu is talking about the automatic doors at the local grocery store. Becky Jordan works with the Catholic Refugee Service in Louisville. For the next few months, she'll help with the adjustment.

BECKY JORDAN, RESETTLEMENT DIRECTOR: This particular group has some special needs as far as being oriented to the American lifestyle. Then we do a little more orientation. We take them to their home, how to operate this, you know, a gas stove, how to operate, you know, the shower, faucets. I think the other day they were taken out to, we showed them how to take the trash out.

VAUSE: To help settle in, they take orientation classes.

JORDAN: Don't deactivate the smoke detector.

VAUSE: Along with other refugees, they're taught the basics and also the American dream.

JORDAN: This country is great about that. You have to work awfully hard, but eventually you can have the things that you want to have if you're willing to work hard enough.

VAUSE: There are English classes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Imian (ph), it's nice, it is nice to meet you. Please sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks. My feet are killing me.

VAUSE: And the older ones are taught how to use computers. They live together in the old section of town in a grand three story home donated by a local businessman. They sleep three to a room, do their own cooking and cleaning. They have three months to find a job and then must start repaying the U.S. government the $900 air fare it cost to fly from Kenya.

RING CHUOM: And the best thing I like here, I'm free, I learn.

VAUSE: At 22, Ring is the eldest. He remembers well what life was like in the refugee camp.

CHUOM: Some time people are killed at night. Somebody can come and say come out all of you and then kill you and take your properties, the little that you are. So the life in the camp was completely, you had no knowledge are you going to be alive tomorrow. VAUSE: For almost 10 years, thousands of young men and boys like Ring and Wieu lived in a sprawling camp in north Kenya. They made an incredible journey from southern Sudan. It began in the late 1980s when their villages were bombed during a civil war, their parents killed or missing. In time, their number grew to more than 20,000. They became known as the lost boys and for five years they've walked hundreds of kilometers from Sudan to Ethiopia and finally to Kenya. By then, about half had died.

GARANG: We encountered so many problems, the same thing, starvation, thirsty, wild animals killing people. The enemy attack us. Some other local people come and rape some people. They take these nighttime young boys, take them, they own them.

JULI ANNE DUNCAN, U.S. CATHOLIC CONFERENCE: Children who experience trauma when they're in the presence of their parents or known adults do not suffer nearly as much from the same incident as a child who is alone when experiencing trauma. And these kids were all alone when they had to cross the Gila River or when they were bombed or when somebody in their group was eaten by wild animals.

So we see that most of these children and young men continue to have bad dreams and nightmares, sometimes as often as two or three times a week.

VAUSE: It was Julianne Duncan's (ph) job to help decide who would be chosen for relocation. There were strict conditions -- no known relatives or dependents and they had to be in reasonable health.

DUNCAN: Some of the young men and children who were possibly going to be part of the resettlement group actually did die of such diseases as diabetes, which are very treatable in the United States. And they died before they had an opportunity to be interviewed and considered for resettlement.

VAUSE: The U.S. State Department and the U.N. High Commission on Refugees have been working with 10 religious and charitable organizations to resettle more than 3,500 young men and boys and some girls in more than 40 cities. So far, 70 have been sent to Philadelphia. Some, like James, Jacob and Archangelo (ph) are in foster care. They live with Nicole Williamson (ph). She's not wealthy. Her home is already crowded with three other foster children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has changed my life tremendously. It has opened up my eyes in a lot of different ways. It has made me appreciate things more.

VAUSE: Since arriving a few months ago, they've gained weight and Nicole says they're adjusting well. But she worries about Jacob.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jacob is very shy at times. He is very quiet. He will, in other words, he tends to be to hisself whereas James and Archangelo is like very in tuned with American lifestyle. They're very in tune with everything.

VAUSE: The three have enrolled in Roxboro High (ph) and are determined to get a good education. James wants to be an engineer.

JAMES AKER: Here in America if you don't have training, you have nothing. But that was what brought us here. When we came here we had much to learn.

JORDAN: I had many children tell me that they saw people die of diseases or they saw people die because they drank bad water and as children they couldn't help, they didn't know what to do to help. They didn't have the resources to help. Their desire in life is to learn how to be medical providers or their desire is to learn how to be the people who make clean water, they say. So in the kinds of civil engineering and so on.

JANE MONAGHAN, TEACHER: I'm going to mark this off for you.

VAUSE: Everyone they meet, teachers, fellow students, counselors, all make the same observations, these refugees are well mannered, respectful and even in donated clothes carry themselves with pride.

MONAGHAN: They're very quiet, very well reserved. They, it just, it takes time for them to adjust to our language and once they do they get along very well with the other students and they're very bright.

VAUSE: Still, American schools can be a shock to the system.

AKER: Here there is no respect. If teacher is teaching, students are making noise, putting the earphones. They don't want to listen to the teacher.

VAUSE: These boys and young men have left behind a desperate situation and the future looks promising.

(on camera): Right now there is a mood of optimism, even euphoria. But counselors warn in the coming months all that may change as this group of refugees try to turn hopes and dreams into reality.

JORDAN: But I think that they may no have the realistic idea about the kind of work it's going to take to have an education because they're going to have to work, as well. They just can't be a student, because they need to be able to provide for themselves. And when that happens, usually there's -- a depression sets in or a realization sets in that OK, now I'm here and I'm here for the long haul.

VAUSE: After everything they've been through, they say the most important thing is to stay together. That's how they survived their long trek across the African desert and that, they say, is how they'll survive America.

GARANG: They love me and I love them. There is no difference between them and my family.

VAUSE: But now is time to celebrate, to enjoy this new life in this strange new land, time to enjoy being young men and to look forward to a new day.

John Vause, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.


BAKHTIAR: President Bush's federal education reform plans put increased emphasis on annual school testing. How students perform on those exams says a lot about how individual schools are performing as a whole. That, in effect, is putting a lot of strain on teachers and school administrators, enough to cause some of them to break one of the golden rules of education: Thou shall not cheat.

Kathy Slobogin reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The real story, I was framed.

KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In American schools, it's practically a right of spring, preparing for standardized tests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did he make himself look very good?

SLOBOGIN: The tests have become a mantra for school accountability and the centerpiece of federal education reform.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Children must be tested every year in reading and math -- every single year.

SLOBOGIN: But there may be a dark side to the push for testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time in Texas history, criminal charges have been filed against a school district.

SLOBOGIN: Two years ago in Austin, Texas, a grand jury indicted the entire school district and several administrators for tampering with scores on the state test, the TAAS, to boost student performance. Deputy Superintendent Kay Psencik denied the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people messed with the top scores and they weren't supposed to do that and just made our school look bad.

SLOBOGIN: A year and a half ago, a citywide cheating scandal rocked New York. A special commissioner's investigation implicated 32 schools and 52 educators claiming teachers corrected children's answers, gave them the answers outright or even wrote on student's exams themselves.

Last month, in a middle school in Montgomery County, Maryland, seven educators were placed on leave when an investigation found an advanced copy of a state math test was used to prepare students. Two teachers gave actual test questions to their students.

BRIAN PORTER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY SCHOOLS: We first realized it after two students identified questions on the test as being the exact same questions they had just completed the night before on their homework assignment.

SLOBOGIN: Just two weeks ago, Michigan was hit by a cheating scandal.

DOUGLAS ROBERTS, STAFF TREASURER: We had examples of where a test answer might be as many as three sentences and then four or five or six students, I had exactly the same answer.

SLOBOGIN: State Treasurer Douglas Roberts, who administers Michigan's standardized exams, says test irregularities were found in 71 schools in 22 school districts across the state. Although some schools have claimed there are innocent explanations for the irregularities, it's hard to explain away some of the examples. Repeated incidents of four or five students with almost exactly the same answers on essay questions.

VINCENT FERRANDINO, ASSOCIATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS: We're seeing an increase in the cheating, unfortunately.

SLOBOGIN: Vincent Ferrandino heads the Association of Elementary School Principals. He says the growing reliance on high stakes testing may be creating unhealthy pressure in schools.

FERRANDINO: These tests have put educators in a position now where if in fact students perform poorly, it could mean, in the case of a principal, the loss of a job, in the case of a teacher, it could mean a poor evaluation.

SLOBOGIN: In some states, there are even monetary pressures. Michigan awards students who do well on state tests up to $3,000 towards college costs. Individual schools with good scores get a check from the state for $50,000, although this year budget cuts may eliminate that.

FERRANDINO: I think as you see more and more of these tests being developed or being required, we will see more incidents of cheating. It's unfortunate. Certainly no one can condone the cheating, but I think any time you put people under intense pressure, they're going to begin to do some things that otherwise they would not do.

SLOBOGIN (on camera): While cheating may be on the rise, proponents of high stakes tests say they're the only way to hold schools accountable -- hat no matter what pressure they're under, teachers shouldn't be teaching students how to cheat.

Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: OK, folks, that's it for today. But here's what's on tap for tomorrow: We'll stop by a suburban Maryland ranch that's providing hope and a home to young people in need.

See you then.




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