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NEWSROOM for July 16, 2001

Aired July 16, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to another week of NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes.

Today's show is jam-packed with environmental news. Here's the rundown.

WALCOTT: The Olympics are coming to China, could changes be far behind? We'll explore that debate in our "Top Story."

HAYNES: Then, if you're interested in helping Mother Earth, stay tuned to "Today's Desk" to find out how to dial 911 for the environment.

WALCOTT: Up next, we get up close and personal with some Jamaican iguanas.

HAYNES: Our environmental theme continues in "Chronicle." We'll meet some young people whose dream jobs keep them out of doors.

WALCOTT: People from around the world will be heading to Beijing in 2008. The International Olympic Committee has awarded the Summer Games to China. This happened on Friday. The announcement was followed by a huge celebration. Millions of residents took to the streets and cheered as fireworks boomed overhead. This is the first time that China, the world's most populous nation, has been chosen to hold the games. Other cities in the running were Toronto, which got the second largest number of votes from the IOC, followed by Istanbul, Paris and Osaka.

Human rights activists strongly criticize the decision to hold the Olympic Games in Beijing.

But as Mike Chinoy reports, many people believe the selection will bring the communist country enormous opportunity.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a country that built a great wall to keep foreigners out, where the Opium War of the 1800s, when Britain seized Hong Kong is, through movies and books, seared into the national consciousness along with other humiliations at the hands of Western powers. A country where the Communist Party came to power with Chairman Mao Tse-tung declaring that the Chinese people have stood up.

Now, Beijing is to host the ultimate international event, the Olympics, the ecstatic crowds in the streets underscoring the depth of China's yearning for respect from the international community, an intense, almost desperate longing that staging the Games may go a long way towards fulfilling.

Yes, we have stood up now, says this man. Getting the Olympics will give us a lot more confidence. I think we all feel China has stood up, says this woman, that China is great.

But even as Beijing returns to normal after its wild celebration, the controversies that surrounded China's bid remain, especially over human rights. Just hours after the IOC decision, the trial got under way in this court of U.S. citizen Li Shaomin, one of several ethnic Chinese with American connections detained and accused of spying in recent months. Critics claim that giving Beijing the Games will only legitimize government repression.

But on the streets, you hear another view. China is still closed to the outside world in some ways, says this man. But holding the Olympics will help open people's minds, especially about Western culture. After winning this bid, I believe China will experience unprecedented economic, cultural and political openness.

(on camera): There's no doubt the ruling Communist Party will use the Olympics to bolster its own prestige. But many here say that seven years of steadily increasing contact with the rest of the world will generate new forces for change and could make China in 2008 a very different place than it is today.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Beijing.


WALCOTT: Washington is applauding China's decision to release American business professor Li Shaomin who was convicted in a Chinese court of spying for Taiwan. The Bush administration says, however, that it will continue to pursue human rights with the Chinese government. Many leaders hope the Olympics will have a positive influence on Beijing, both politically and economically. China officials already have estimated spending about $20 billion to modernize their capital, but what will the political implications be?

Garrick Utley looks back at a few Olympic Games where the sporting event became a major political event.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Berlin, 1936, the Summer Olympics had been awarded to Germany two years before the Nazis came to power. But Adolf Hitler turns the Games into his political stage to show the superiority of his German Master Race.

The fuhrer is not happy when American Jessie Owens wins four gold medals.

Mexico City, 1968, 10 days before the Summer Olympics open, Mexican students protest against the money being spent on the Games rather than poverty. The army opens fire. More than 250 are killed.

Inside the stadium, politics mounts the victory stand when a black power salute is given by gold and bronze medal winners Tommy Smith and John Carlos. The two Americans are sent home.

Munich, 1972, terrorism invades the Olympic Village. Palestinians kill two Israeli athletes and seize nine hostages. The hostages and eight terrorists die during a failed rescue. The Games are suspended for one day for a memorial service, and then continue.

(on camera): Part of the mythology surrounding the Olympics is that the Games are above politics. The reality is that they're never beyond the reach of politics. Sports, after all, are about life and competition and winning.

(voice-over): In the summer of 1980, Moscow got all dressed up for its Olympics, and a lot of people didn't come. The Soviet troops and tanks which had invaded Afghanistan led the United States to boycott the Games. Sixty other nations stayed away, the largest boycott in Olympic history.

At the next Olympics in Los Angeles, the Soviet Union scored its cold war points by keeping its athletes home.

The Olympics may be about individuals competing, but the individuals represent countries, which have their own political pressures. Perhaps the best example of Olympic pressure on domestic politics came in South Korea with the 1988 Games. The military had controlled the government. Pressure for democratic reforms was growing in the streets, and the pressure of world attention brought by the Olympics was felt by President Roh Tae Woo. Five months before he opened the Games, he allowed free elections.

(on camera): Which raises the question, can and should the Olympics be used as a political tool to promote change in a country? If it helped in South Korea, will it in China?

(voice-over): Of course, that was not on the official agenda of the International Olympic Committee as it awarded the 2008 Games to Beijing. But it's certainly in the minds of China's leaders, who want the prestige of the Olympics and to hold onto their power.

Above all, there are the people, who must wonder as they celebrate, what changes their Olympics will bring to their lives.

Garrick Utley, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HAYNES: In today's "Environment Desk" we are all about recycling. Recycling is designed to remanufacture and reuse materials instead of throwing them away. Do you recycle? If you do, great. Recycling helps reduce pollution and keeps waste products out of our scarce landfill space.

Here's Natalie Pawelski on how you can do your part.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So, you want to do your part for the environment. But how? Just figuring out where to recycle can be a hassle. But one Web site has a slew of ecosolutions,

CHRIS WARNER, DIRECTOR, EARTH'S 911: It's really things that you can do in your community, how to recycle, where to take your household hazardous waste, how to compost, energy conservation information.

PAWELSKI: This site consolidates information from thousands of sources nationwide. But by using your zip code, it gives you only the information you need.

WARNER: You put in your zip code, and you want to recycle your oil, you will be stunned that there's 20 places within two or three miles of your house that you had no idea they were there. The Web site just makes it easy. It shows you how you can participate in your community. It's real important that people know that they can make a difference

PAWELSKI: Soon at, you'll be able to check out water quality to make sure it's safe before heading off to the beach.

WARNER: We're looking at like 20 million unique visitors a week on people finding out what the water quality is at their beach or their lake or their stream, but it also tells you how you can be engaged and participate. So, it's sort of making you aware of what's going on and making you aware of how to participate in solving the problem.

PAWELSKI: An Arizona company calling itself Earth's 911 runs the site and a telephone hot line that gives similar information. The operation is backed by several private companies and endorsed by celebrities. The site cooperates with all 50 states. In fact, many states have dropped their environmental hot lines to support this one instead. The Earth's 911 symbol is becoming a common sight.

WARNER: Castrol just put it on a half a billion containers. The EPA is looking to have it on every pesticide container in America. It's going to be a household name.

PAWELSKI: Sixteen other countries have asked for the helping hand of Earth's 911.

WARNER: I truly think this is what the Internet is about, it's engaging people and empowering them with the information that they want. And that's Earth's 911 whole mission, is to empower and engage the public to make every day Earth Day.

PAWELSKI: Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


WALCOTT: More from Natalie Pawelski now on the environment coming up in "Worldview." We'll also head to Thailand for a look at some unusual crocodiles. They have more teeth than normal and you'll find out why. We'll go to England to check out an archaeological site that intrigues scientists, and we'll journey to Jamaica to look at some fascinating creeping creatures.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Did you know that only 1 percent of the Caribbean Islands are inhabited? One of the few and the proud is Jamaica. The nation has an estimated population of more than two-and- a-half million, most of whom have Black African or mixed Afro-European ancestry. Jamaica boasts breathtaking scenery that lures 850,000 tourists annually, making tourism a stronghold for the nation's economy. And there's a special group of native Jamaicans who help maintain this valuable ecology: the iguanas.

The iguana is a type of lizard found mainly in the Western Hemisphere. An herbivore, the iguana plays a vital ecological role by dispersing seeds from the plants it eats, but the species is vulnerable. Iguanas and their eggs are often eaten for food. They're also prime targets for the pet trade. Iguanas were thought to be extinct after a population on Goat Island, off the coast of Jamaica, disappeared in the 1940s. But these seemingly long-lost creatures are making a comeback with a little help from Jamaican scientists.

Natalie Pawelski has more.


PAWELSKI (voice-over): They look like leftovers from the dinosaur age. But unlike those ancient reptiles, these lizards are crawling back from the brink of extinction.

PETER VOGEL, JAMAICAN IGUANA PROJECT, UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES: It's a very special part of our Jamaican, of our Caribbean natural heritage.

PAWELSKI: The Jamaican iguana is the largest native land animal in the country. One hadn't been seen alive for almost 50 years when a hunter's dog cornered one in 1990. That led biologists from Jamaica's Hope Zoo to a hidden colony of iguanas. Peter Vogel heads a team that runs a sort of head start program for the animals, collecting hatchlings from the wild and raising them in a safe environment during their early, vulnerable years.

VOGEL: Once they have reached a size when they are safe, you let them back out. We have released so far 26 animals, and the success has been quite good.

PAWELSKI: Iguanas are ready for release at about three to four years old. Before they go, they're checked for parasites, weighed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one is 3.4 kilograms.

PAWELSKI: And outfitted with a transmitter in a backpack custom- designed by Nike.

VOGEL: We put a radio on them so we can track them in the field, and we have found animals surviving up to at least four years.

PAWELSKI: Scientists estimate there are about 100 adult Jamaican iguanas in the wild, and about 100 at the Hope Zoo. The biggest threat to the species' survival, their only known habitat is being destroyed, as people burn trees to make charcoal and as Jamaica's capital sprawls into the forest. Another problem, nonnative predators, against which the iguanas are defenseless: wild dogs, cats, and the Indian mongoose. Biologists say the iguanas need a refuge, a protected habitat in the wild if this living symbol of Jamaica is to survive.


HAYNES: To find Thailand, look right in the center of a cluster of Southeast Asian nations: Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Thailand and its Asian neighbors all share a peninsula that's surrounded by the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. That coastal exposure makes trade a very important component of Thailand's economy. Travel inland a little and you'll also find a diverse range of topography. That's the mountain, forests and floodplains that make up Thailand. And if you're wandering about, you're bound to stumble across any number of wildlife indigenous to Southeast Asia - monkeys, elephants, birds, and if you're really lucky, maybe even a tiger.

But tigers are an endangered species in Thailand. The sale and trade of products made from tiger parts is alive and well on the Thai black market. In an effort to crack down on the hunting of tigers and other endangered animals, the Thai government has set up a number of protected areas and an international treaty has made it illegal. Still, animal protection groups charge that many in Thailand are ignoring the rules as Chris Riker reports.


CHRIS RIKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fear is that tigers may soon exist only in zoos, in this case a tiger farm in Thailand where cubs are bred for captivity. In fact, of the eight subspecies of tiger, three are already extinct, and a London-based conservation group Environmental Investigation Agency says many more are winding up like this.

The group has released hidden camera pictures of men they describe as traders spreading a contraband tiger skin on the floor. The group says one of the tiger's main enemies is lack of action on the part of Thailand's government. Bangkok signed an international treaty banning all trade in tigers or their parts. But EIA says that hasn't changed anything.

DEBBIE BANKS, ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY: What we were most shocked by was the fact that it's not just that tiger parts and products are available for sale here, but actually manufactured here and packaged here for a Thai market, and we are told for an export market.

RIKER: Powders, potions, and pelts. Tiger products are popular throughout Asia, as decoration, medicine and even aphrodisiacs. Bangkok has said it lacks the funds to fight the tiger trade. EIA says at the least, the government should raise public awareness that tiger products are illegal.

For now, the toll on the tigers is devastating. In the last century, the world's tiger population has dropped by 95 percent. In Thailand, it's thought that only about 150 of the world's largest land carnivores still exist in the wild.

Chris Riker, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: Archaeologists in Great Britain are using modern technology to save an ancient and mysterious monument. It's Silbury Hill, an ancient manmade mound. There are all kinds of legends attached to the site. Some say it's the burial spot of a knight in golden armor. Others believe it was built in connection with a harvest festival.

With more on the history and mystery, here's Allard Beutel.


ALLARD BEUTEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Silbury Hill in Britain is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Western Europe. It's about 130 feet high and was built more than 4,000 years ago. Archaeologists aren't sure why the mound was built or what it was used for. Several major excavations during the last couple hundred years haven't revealed any conclusive evidence. But they have left the hill unstable, and now a hole has opened up on the summit.

AMANDA CHADBURN, ANCIENT MONUMENTS INSPECTOR: We were in danger, and indeed, we have lost some archaeology on the top of the hill through that hole opening up.

BEUTEL: Before any repair work begins, archaeologists want to know exactly what they're dealing with, so they plan to take a seismic survey of the hill. They'll place sensors all across the mound and produce three-dimensional images that will show where the stress areas are. And as an added bonus, this will also map for the first time any hidden tunnels or holes in the mysterious monument.

CHADBURN: If we know and understand the structure, the successive phases of the mound, that may be able to give us an idea of what the mound was used for.

BEUTEL: Silbury is in sight of the Avebury Stone Circle and its more famous cousin, Stonehenge. Scientists believe the three monuments are connected, but they're not sure how. FACTHNA MCAVOY, ARCHAEOLOGIST: The results of all our work will give us more evidence. But the essential mystery of Silbury, we may have to accept, we may never be able to solve.

BEUTEL: Archaeologists plan to start their seismic survey next month. They hope their work will not only preserve a piece of history, but help unravel an ancient mystery.

Allard Beutel, CNN.


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It's all at this Web address where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops and neither does learning.

HAYNES: Look who's here, as our "Border to Border" series concludes, Jason Bellini joins us now for a look back at what he saw and learned this summer.

Hey, Jason.


Well, it's been an interesting summer for me. I traveled from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Along the way, I met a lot of great kids and had the opportunity to spend some time with a few of them.

In Fort Apache, Arizona, for example, I talked with some young girls celebrating their heritage during what they call a coming of age or Sunrise Dance. I talked with a group of young bucks in Santa Fe, New Mexico. These kids, who compete in professional rodeo, proved that being a cowboy isn't easy. And then there were the Rainbow kids, a group of young travelers. The road is their home as they travel from city to city seeing and learning many ways of life.

Now look at my final piece about some young adults working at a popular recreational park at loving it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing like this place on Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every chance I get, I'm up on the hills backpacking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it doesn't get any better than this, you know?

BELLINI (voice-over): These are the voices of the young people who wait the tables, comb the trails, give the tours and answer tourist's questions at Glacier National Park.

Do you have a good job?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an excellent job, yes. Sit on the boat dock all day, meet a bunch of tourists and I don't know, just look at it for yourself.

BELLINI: Most are in their late teens or early 20s on break from school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every once in a while it seems like it's kind of boring, but you just have to look out the window and tell yourself to not take it for granted anymore because, you know, you're really living where people come to vacation.

BELLINI: Travis Over (ph) is a 19-year-old captain for the tourist boat company the Park Service allows to operate on Lake McDonald (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when the ice melted out of here 10,000 years ago,...

BELLINI: The three hour-long trips he takes on the lake each day, by his own admission, hardly qualify as work. He mixes well with people who are in vacation mode.

TRAVIS OVER, CAPTAIN: Your average tourist is over 50 years old. People over that age are great to talk to. You know they're on vacation. Everybody that you see is on vacation so their general mood is great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got all the silver? That's all the silver.

BELLINI: According to Aspen Glore (ph) and Corbin Allen (ph), 19-year-old cousins who came here from Utah, availability to work and live here all summer, along with the right attitude, was all they needed to land this gig.

CORBIN ALLEN: One's available right now.

BELLINI: Even after six weeks of serving tourists, they still feel like they're on vacation themselves.

ALLEN: This place is so beautiful, man, there's nothing like it in the world and the work is just so easy, I love it. We're guests here too, you know?


ALLEN: It's not like the - we serve the people but we get to spend the whole summer here, you know?


ALLEN: So we get to see a lot more of the mountains, a lot more of the wildlife. It's great.

BELLINI: In the evenings after the dinner shift ends, Corbin often takes one of the hotel's boats out on the water.

ALLEN: The lake is glass, heading out on the canoe.

BELLINI: Back in the dorms provided by this hotel for its 150 employees, it's a party every night - a party that only noise complaints from tourists can put a lid on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have Mexicans, Croatians, Polish, Colombian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got Colombian, yes.


BELLINI: So you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people, they just stick it right in the flame and it catches on fire but they don't - they don't know what to do.

BELLINI: The seven Croatians, sent here by an employment agency, say at first they were disappointed not to be working in a city, afraid they wouldn't get an authentic American experience. That's no longer a concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day we kind of have to go, oh my gosh, I work here, I live here. I don't think a day goes by when someone -- a visitor comes up to me and says, you know, if this is your job, you've got the best job in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll probably do that tomorrow.

BELLINI: Mel Jones (ph) will be a senior at University of Texas next year where she studies biology. The Park Service pays her to work as a naturalist, providing information to tourists about trails to hike and where they might encounter plants and animal life.

Working at the park for the summer, these young people appreciate how privileged they are to be national park residents. It's a part of America that belongs to everyone but few experience it the way they do, if only for the summer.

Jason Bellini, CNN NEWSROOM, Glacier Park, Montana.


BELLINI: Like the young people working at Glacier Park, many kids I spoke with are venturing out, accepting responsibility and most of all, having fun - Tom.

HAYNES: Well speaking, Jason, that was a great piece, by the way,...

BELLINI: Thanks.

HAYNES: ... speaking of venturing out, though, that piece you did on the new wanderers - these kids that are romanticizing the '60s, I mean, are they living in the real world? Do they realize that they're going to have to put food on the table one of these days?

BELLINI: Well, for the time being, they're able to provide for themselves. Many of them speak about the world, you know, relying on the benevolence of the world to get by. Many of them don't want to think that far beyond. And some of the ones I talked to said this is what they want to do while they're young and do it for a few years, but then they have plans to go to college and to do other things with their lives. They're other kids, of course, who don't have other future plans.

HAYNES: It's like they're living in the here and now.

WALCOTT: And you know, a lot of kids today have reputations for being so apathetic but the young people that you spent some time with are involved in a whole bunch of different things. What do you think the big issue is out there?

BELLINI: The big issue, well, I was traveling through the West starting in - starting at the Mexico border and driving up to Montana. Many of the kids I talked to spoke of the environment as being their issue. Not so much the political side of it but just the enjoyment of the environment. They have a real deep reverence for it and being involved in activities that use the natural environment that they have it as an advantage where they live.

HAYNES: Jason, give us some general impressions when you were out there of these kids and your experience as well.

BELLINI: Well, it was an exciting trip for me getting to travel through such a wide part of the country. And one of the things I was expecting to see and I did see was you see a lot of the same strip malls, the same McDonald's, all the usual things that are in every town. But at the same time, there's a lot of diversity and there's real pride in being from the West among young people that I met. And they really want to get involved in things that are unique to where they live.

HAYNES: Any misconceptions of kids before you went out there and did you come away with different opinions of them?

BELLINI: Different opinions of them, well, I think like kids everywhere, they're trying to do something interesting with their summer and take advantage of whatever they have available to them. In the West, they have so many natural resources at their disposal and they have the great outdoors and wonderful weather. Kids there were really out and about doing things, not inside playing Nintendo, at least the ones that I saw.

WALCOTT: Any surprises, Jason? Anything that really kind of shocked you about the kids that you met?

BELLINI: Well, I think really the most remarkable for thing for me was that Rainbow gathering where 20,000 kids came from all over the country for that gathering. Many of them hitchhiked their way there and then had to hitch their way back and that adventurous spirit I think was exciting to see. I didn't realize there were that many kids out there that were ready to take that kind of risk and go on a trip like that - a very dangerous trip for many of them to go to something like that.

WALCOTT: Well, thank you very much, Jason, that was really interesting.

HAYNES: Yes, thanks a lot.

BELLINI: Thank you.

WALCOTT: And that wraps up today's show.

BELLINI: We'll see you back here tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.

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