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NEWSROOM for July 3, 2001

Aired July 3, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Thank you for making NEWSROOM part of your Tuesday. I'm Tom Haynes.

First order of business, as always, a quick look at the rundown.

Today, drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, will it provide new sources of energy for the United States? Next, the likely presence of an armed police officer roaming the hallways of your high school, "Health Desk" examines this sign of the times. "Worldview" is in Russia. We'll tell you about an unlikely savior for the country's homeless youth. And learn the ropes of being an activist. It's a hands-on approach coming up in "Chronicle."

The Bush administration is planning to open up an area in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling. Environmental concerns, however, have pushed the parameters of that region much further away from the Florida coast then first envisioned. The new plan would permit drilling in an area spanning close to one-and-a-half million acres. Offshore drilling is strongly opposed by environmentalists, Florida citizens and the president's own brother, Jeb Bush.

Natalie Pawelski has more on the scaled back proposal and its opposition.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As most people in the Sunshine State see it, Florida's popular Gulf Coast is not the place to drill for oil and gas. But the Bush administration says you can tap into the energy reserves below this ocean and have clean beaches, too.

GALE NORTON, INTERIOR SECRETARY: You will be able to stand in any beach in state of Florida, and from it you will see no development from this proposed sale.

PAWELSKI: The interior secretary announced plans to open a 1.5 million acre offshore area to drilling. That's scaled down from a proposal inherited from the Clinton administration, which would have opened up 6 million acres, and would have come within 17 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. The new, smaller lease area would keep all drilling at least 100 miles offshore, an attempt to answer objections from Floridians in general, and from the governor in particular, the president's brother, Jeb Bush.

NORTON: I think this is a compromise that reflects all of the views that I heard.

PAWELSKI: Environmentalists say even a scaled-down plan is still a bad idea.

MELANIE GRIFFIN, SIERRA CLUB: Drilling off Florida's coast is drilling off the Florida's coast, and it doesn't matter whether you're 130 miles or 100 miles. Oil spills are going to happen, and this new proposal will be bad for Florida's fisheries and its economy and its coastlines.

PAWELSKI: Still, Norton's announcement is the latest in a series of efforts by the Bush administration to appear more environmentally friendly. Just last week, for example, in a visit to the Energy Department the president made a pitch for energy conservation.

(on camera): The politics are clear. Polls are showing public disapproval with the president's environmental policies. And last week the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to block the offshore drilling plan entirely.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN, Atlanta.


HAYNES: The Bush administration says the proposed offshore drilling area will yield an estimated 185 billion barrels of oil and more than a trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Many people believe offshore drilling could help meet the nation's growing energy needs. Rising prices at the pump have made many consumers desperate for a solution.

Brooks Jackson reports on where gas prices now stand.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gasoline prices, down again, for the fifth week in a row, according to official figures released late Monday by the Department of Energy. Regular gas sold last week for a national average of $1.47 cents a gallon. That's six cents lower that the previous week. Regular gasoline is now 14 percent below the peak reached in mid-May. But still too high, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

HOWARD METZENBAUM, CONSUMER FED. OF AMERICA: The consumer is getting shafted and it is time for the government to say to the people, we will speak up with you, we will be on your side.

JACKSON: At a news conference, the Consumer Federation said high gasoline prices are the result of refiners deliberately tightening supplies to increase their profit margins. MARK COOPER, CONSUMER FED. OF AMERICA: The problem is not that no new refineries have been built in the last 30 years, as we were told, but that many, many have been closed, not only in the last 30 years, but in the last 10 years and even in the last five years.

JACKSON: And the reason refineries have closed is that refining has been a lousy business. For a decade before the recent price run- ups refining returned less than five percent a year on money invested, according to industry analysts.

BOB SLAUGHTER, NATL. PETROCHEMICAL REFINERS ASSOCIATION: You can basically do as well with your money by buying a treasury note as you can by investing it in refining, and have a lot less risk.

JACKSON: But refiners are doing a lot better lately, according to Department of Energy figures. Last year, when gasoline averaged $1.48 at the pump, refining, costs and profits, accounted for only 14 percent of the total. But when prices peaked in May at $1.70 a gallon, refiners were getting 26 percent, their share nearly doubled.

Industry spokesmen say it's only temporary, refining margins already are coming down again. Meanwhile, refiners are producing record amounts of gasoline, working at 95 percent of capacity.

SLAUGHTER: That's just your basic supply response that you get in response to higher prices. Textbook economics and economics do still work.

JACKSON (on camera): So for this summer, the worst seems to be over. But with refiners straining to meet demand, any accident at a refinery or pipeline could send prices soaring again.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Other news today, it appears former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is bucking the system and will represent himself today before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. Milosevic is being held on charges of crimes against humanity for which he is standing trial.

Alessio Vinci has more from The Hague.

And a warning, this report contains graphic material.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lawyers defending Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague tribunal say the former president will face a political trial. The trial, lawyers say, will instead be an opportunity to examine 10 years of Western politics in the Balkans. Milosevic plans to base his defense on the argument he acted in the interest of his nation and that the West deliberately participated in the breakup of Yugoslavia and now blames him for a decade of wars.

BRANIMIR GUGL, MILOSEVIC ATTORNEY (through translator): Knowing that this will be a political trial, we can expect the defense to call as witnesses those Western politicians who participated in shaping the policy towards Yugoslavia in the last 10 years starting from the breakup of the country all the way to NATO's bombing campaign.

VINCI: But Serbs are beginning to come to terms with what was done on their behalf. Broadcast recently for the first time on national television, bodies of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo exhumed from a mass grave just outside of Belgrade. Investigators believe they are the victims of the Serb security forces crackdown in 1999 and believe Milosevic ordered a burial to cover up the crime.

(on camera): But this alleged crime is not included in The Hague indictment against Milosevic, and his lawyers say that the recent discovery of this and other mass graves is another indication that behind the allegations against Milosevic are political motives.

(voice-over): At least two more mass graves like this one have been found in other parts of Serbia and police expect to find more.

GUGL (through translator): The discovery of mass graves at the moment of Milosevic's extradition is a strange coincidence. There is no single evidence that links Milosevic to that case. We don't know how those Albanians were killed nor who killed them. And if there are proofs, then Milosevic should be charged with war crimes in Serbia.

VINCI: Recent polls indicate at least 50 percent of the people here would have preferred a trial in Serbia, not for war crimes, but for crimes committed against Serbs such as corruption, abuse of power and embezzlement. But now that Milosevic is in the hands of U.N. war crimes prosecutors, few believe there is a chance he will ever face domestic justice.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Belgrade.


HAYNES: Used to be when a student got into hot water they'd be called down to the principal's office. Well, that still happens, but nowadays it's more likely an armed police officer will also be there. That's due in part to a program called COPS in Schools. Initiated in 1998, it's provided $420 million to train more than 3,800 officers.

Charles Feldman has more.


CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a parent's 21st century nightmare, reports of a shooting at the school where their child is a student. And while such incidents are rare despite the attention they get when they do occur, the demand for cops on campus is growing each year.

CHERYL BROWN, PRINCIPAL: We want kids to think twice about what consequences, what prices they will pay and those prices go beyond school law. If they're in violation of a misdemeanor or a felony, then it becomes an issue involving the penal code. FELDMAN: To help make that point to students, Saugus High School in Northern Los Angeles County has Allen Budge, a deputy of the local sheriff's department assigned to the school.


FELDMAN: Budge is everywhere.

BUDGE: Hey, Chad.

FELDMAN: He knows the students, goes to many school events. As the principal of the school bluntly puts it...

BROWN: He's another set of eyes and ears.

BUDGE: It's a lot easier to mold and help confront potential problems before they happen than it is to try and deal with them after.

FELDMAN: According to a recent Department of Education report, during the 1997-98 academic school year, nearly 4,000 students aged five to 17 were expelled for bringing a gun to school. Perhaps partly in response to that, some 3,800 police officers have been stationed in at least 1,800 schools since 1998, their positions funded by a grant from the U.S. Justice Department's Cops In Schools program.

ELLEN SCRIVNER, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: The demand has been for police officers to come into the schools as community policing officers and that's quite different, because that treats the school as a community policing beat.

FELDMAN: And that often translates into a fast response. On the day we were taping at this southern California school, a student was called into the deputy principal's office because she overhead someone tell of a threat to a nearby school. Deputy Budge was already there.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I'm not really close to her. We just started talking, she was like saying that this guy wants, he's planning this shooting.

FELDMAN: Deputy Budge quickly helped investigate the matter and says it has been determined that the issue is resolved. For all of the perceived benefits of a cop on campus, not everyone thinks it's such a cool idea. For one thing, says the author of "Culture Of Fear," the perception of an increased danger in schools is a false one.

DR. BARRY GLASSNER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: There's been school violence for a long time and actually it's lower now. Right now the situation is that a student is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed in school.

FELDMAN: Others worry about the impact on young minds when Big Brother is always watching. RAMONA RIPSTON, ACLU: What it really does is to, I think, give students the idea that it's OK to be watched all the time. It sends them a bad message that they're going to carry with them throughout life.

FELDMAN: Back at the school that Deputy Budge patrols, we asked some students what they think of cops on campus.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: He goes through everything and that's kind of cool cause he keeps all the like drugs and everything off campus.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It's an invasion of privacy because he can check everything.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It makes them see that, you know, there is somebody here that's trying to help the school to make sure that we don't go through problems and to make sure that nothing happens to our school or our community.

FELDMAN: Cops in schools is a safety issue, but also a fiscal one. It costs money, a lot of money, to have officers assigned to public schools. But no one really knows if having a police officer on campus really makes a difference. There have been no studies yet, although one federal one is under way to be completed soon.

Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.


HAYNES: Millions of Americans will take part in some kind of water activity this Fourth of July holiday, and researchers caution that some children, depending on their age, are more prone than others to drown in certain places. For infants, it's most likely places at home like bathtubs and buckets. Toddlers are most likely to drown in swimming pools. Older children are more at risk near lakes and rivers. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children five and older should be taught to swim. Adult supervision and CPR training are also recommended.

We are moving right along today. In "Worldview," we head now to Russia for our look at lifestyles. We'll find out how life is improving for those who are Jewish there. We'll also look at some of the harsh conditions faced by young people in Russian's armed services. But first, we'll hit the streets of Russia, where countless numbers of children are living in squalor and hunger. It's a tale of hardship but also of hope.

Imagine if you had no place to call home. Imagine if you had no idea where you would sleep tonight or where your next meal would come from. Imagine you were despised by just about everyone you met. Sound farfetched? Well, that pretty much describes life for the millions of children and teenagers living on the streets of Russian cities. It's a problem that has apparently worsened since the fall of communism three decades ago. With the introduction of a more open government and economy, hopes were high life would improve for everyone in Russia. But times have been particularly rough for some of the country's most vulnerable: the very young.

Steve Harrigan reports on their plight and one woman's crusade to save them.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Western women in the Siberian city of Perm are hunting: under buildings, under stairways, underground, as if for a lot of cat or dog.

CHRISTINA GREENBERG, LOVE'S BRIDGE: When we first came, they had not been inside in so long -- like, they had not eaten anything. And they came to our center like animals. There is no other word for it.

HARRIGAN: They are hunting for children. And in the city's cracks and corners, children are not hard to find -- children like Koschiv (ph), who has been stabbed three times on the streets, or Yan (ph), who has been raped five times.

There may be two million homeless children in Russia, the government says. There may be four million. No one knows for sure. In Perm, as in many Russian cities, it's a problem left untouched by the local authorities.

GREENBERG: We came to Perm, we asked the administration, "Is there anyone here helping out?" And they said "No, there is no one."

HARRIGAN: Christina Greenberg rented an apartment with her own money, plus a few thousand dollars through corporate sponsors, and opened a shelter. The city offered some help at first by providing transportation. Of the 14 children who live here, 13 have tried to commit suicide.

The stories are remarkably similar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My stepfather beat me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He's used to beat me so much.

HARRIGAN: Seventeen-year-old Vania's (ph) story may be the worst.

GREENBERG: His head shakes and his eyes kind of move back and forth. And I was asking the other kids, "Why?" And they said that his mom committed suicide in front of him when he was 1 1/2. She hung herself on the curtain and just put him on the bed to watch.

And after that, I was like, I have to help him. You know, he's not just a little demon. He -- there is a reason why he is like this.

HARRIGAN: A reason why a child prefers a store roof to home, a reason why he sniffs glue, paint thinner or gasoline, a reason why, at the market where he begs, he steals, he is universally despised.

GREENBERG: People just hit them and just punch them. It's like, someone in some stand, just because they see they were homeless, one of the first times we were feeding them in the market, the police just stomp in and started yelling, yelling at us: "How dare you feed these kids? Who do you think you are? They are just rats. They are just criminals. Why would anyone want to feed them?"

HARRIGAN: Why, too, would anyone hug them, kiss them, try to make them smile, not for a photo-op, but for five long years?

GREENBERG: I have felt that God has led me to these kids. But I felt, once I started working with them, I couldn't just leave them on the streets, because I knew if we didn't do something, nobody would. So it was basically a question between life-and-death, you know. Every kid that moves on, we save a life.

HARRIGAN: Lifesaver, a job that did not exist in Perm before Christina Greenberg, may now be the one hope for some Siberian children to come in from the wild.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.


HAYNES: More on Russia now and more on hard knocks as we turn to the military. Before it split apart, the Soviet Union had the largest armed forces in the world. These days, Russia boasts a military of about one-and-a-half million people. It's mandatory for Russian men to serve two years in the military, a duty that's unpopular and even unpleasant for many as Matthew Chance explains.

And a word of warning, some of the shots you'll see are disturbing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hardships of the Russian army, another tough and brutal day for these new conscripts. Here, young soldiers, most just 18, are manhandled by senior troops in charge. Those who have experienced hazing in the Russian ranks say these pictures obtained by CNN from soldiers themselves only hint at the violence that's routine.

Terrified of reprisals, this former conscript asked us to shield his identity on camera, but he spoke of weeks of beatings and intimidation by his seniors before he deserted the army. The fear and the pain, he said, was simply too much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In the evening when the officers go home, the older soldiers take over - anything becomes possible. They would wake us up in the middle of the night and beat us for no reason. I've been hospitalized with severe bruises and a broken arm.

CHANCE: For some, it's much worse. Even military officials acknowledge at least 500 conscripts are killed every year in the barracks. Human rights monitors say the figure is much higher, but the Russian government blames the killings on society, not lack of army discipline.

SERGEI IVANOV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): I can tell you those tragedies that happened in the army are related to the problems in society in general.

CHANCE: But victims say army measures to protect conscripts from hazing don't go far enough. Tough rules against the practice are simply sidestepped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If an officer notices a bruise on a soldier's body, his sergeant automatically gets punished for alleged hazing, so they wrap you up in overcoats and then beat you. It's very painful, but it doesn't leave a mark.

CHANCE: The public face of Russia's armed forces is still disciplined and proud, but the picture from inside the barracks is very different. And this country's hazing problem means many Russians are doing everything they can to avoid military service.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: From military life in Russia, we turn now to religion. You probably know that in the old days of communism, religion could not be practiced freely. Some denominations still face restrictions, for example, Baptists, Mormons and Roman Catholics. But many faiths are now officially and widely recognized in Russia, the largest of which is the Russian Orthodox Church. Still, others also enjoy full freedom. These include Buddhism, Islam, a few Christian religions and Judaism.

Suzanne Kelly has more on the progress of prayer.


SUZANNE KELLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The future was once uncertain as to whether Jewish culture and traditions could survive in Russia at all. Just one year after a Jewish synagogue was built in Moscow in the 19th century, its dome was torn down.

Today, it's clear the traditions and culture have not only survived but are celebrated with the opening of a long awaited rebuilt dome. The songs of children help to herald in the new dome with Russian authorities adding their voices to those in the Jewish community in marking its significance.

LEV MORGENSHTERN, RUSSIAN JEW (through translator): It's a great event. I'm impressed by the attention of the Moscow city authorities. This is a symbol of the friendship between our people.

KELLY: Frequent attacks on Moscow synagogues drove many Jews out of the country. But many who stayed see the dome's reopening as a clear sign for a better future for the next generation of Russian Jews in Moscow. SEMYON TESSER, WORLD WAR II VETERAN (through translator): We are happy and proud that we have lived to see the day when we can express our will freely.

KELLY: Not even a little rain could dampen the spirits of those in the Jewish community who will now also have their own wall of prayer and reflection. Stretching some 15 meters long and reaching 3 meters high, a far cry from the historical pain experienced by many Russian Jews.

Suzanne Kelly, CNN.


HAYNES: A group of students from Brandeis University is taking part in a course this summer that's taken off them beaten path and teaching them a valuable lesson in life. The students are learning what it takes to change society by visiting some of the nation's most renowned sites of activism.

Kathy Slobogin has their story.


KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may look like a bus, but it's actually a class on wheels for students who want to learn how to change the world.

TAMEKA PRINGLE, STUDENT: I was thrilled with the idea of going around and studying and getting hands on skills as opposed to just sitting in a classroom and being fed knowledge.

SLOBOGIN: Eleven students from Brandeis University are on a bus tour of America's hot spots of social change. It's part of a course on how to be an activist that's taken them from civil rights landmarks like Selma, Alabama to a Habitat For Humanity site in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Habitat is not just about building houses. We build a community.

SLOBOGIN: Here, the students help renovate houses for low income homeowners. But they're also learning a lesson about working with people who will actually benefit from what they do.

SUZY STONE, STUDENT: We realize that, you know, it's not about the theory. It's about the people and getting down to the level of where we're working on a one on one individual basis with some of these people is really nice.

SLOBOGIN: The tour is the brainchild of David Cunningham, an assistant professor at Brandeis who feels many students today are overwhelmed at the prospect of finding a way to make a difference.

DAVID CUNNINGHAM, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: What I found over the last few years working with college students is they have the sense of what I like to think of as vicarious nostalgia about the '60s and even into the early '70s about what activism meant and how social change occurs.

SLOBOGIN: Cunningham hopes to help these students take baby steps towards finding their own brand of activism, and that doesn't necessarily mean organizing protests like those that tore through Seattle two years ago against the World Trade Organization.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: They're constructing math problems around kids' experiences.

SLOBOGIN: One stop that had a big impact was the Algebra Project in Mississippi, where former civil rights leaders help children through a math curriculum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost not revolutionary in that it's trying to create a big social movement almost, but just through a little program to teach kids math.

CUNNINGHAM: I think it's broadened their sense of what it means to be an activist in the sense that they don't have to be out there protesting on the street with placards or with their fists raised and they can work within the system sometimes or even outside of the system with organizations that are trying to make a difference.

SLOBOGIN: While some have written off the younger generation as politically apathetic, it turns out kids today may be just as engaged as their more famous counterparts of the '60s, if not more so.

(on camera): A survey of college freshmen found the percentage who participated in organized demonstrations in high school has actually tripled since the '60s and 80 percent of today's college freshmen reported doing some kind of volunteer work.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: The first thing is that you really need to make a decision about what message you want to get across.

SLOBOGIN: One of the last stops on the 30 day bus tour was a visit to Washington for tips on how to lobby for a quiet but effective way to make social change.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: You want to talk from your heart. You want to talk like someone who cares about this.

SLOBOGIN: The next day, the students tried out their new skills on Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts. Their issue? Pushing for a moratorium on the death penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Two thirteen and 1038, they're both relating to the death penalty.

SLOBOGIN: They didn't get much argument from Markey, who opposes the death penalty. Still, it was good practice and another life lesson for the budding young activists on the bus from Brandeis.

Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Great way to spend your summer.

Listen, we're off tomorrow because of the Fourth of July holiday in the U.S. We'll see you back here on Thursday.

Take care.



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