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NEWSROOM for July 30, 2001

Aired July 30, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Another week of NEWSROOM begins -- hello and welcome. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

From Mars to Africa, we've got it all covered. Here's a look at the rundown.

We start out in a Mars-like place on Earth. Get the details in today's "Top Story." Plus, the nation of Peru gets a new president.


ALEJANDRO TOLEDO, PERUVIAN PRESIDENT: I refused to get dropped in the past. I need to construct a future. And in doing so, I won't be able to do it alone. And that's why we open our arms and our minds to all the brightest mind and the most Peruvian's sincere hearts to participate with us.


BAKHTIAR: Then in "Environment Desk," we examine the problem of nuclear waste. Up next, we travel to Thailand to learn about crocodiles. And finally, we'll meet an African chief creating his own unique style of art.

Twenty-five years after the first successful unmanned landing on Mars, NASA has no plans to send humans to explore the red planet. So some Mars scientists are doing the next best thing in, of all places, the Canadian high Arctic. They're taking part in an annual research campaign on Devon Island.

Miles O'Brien recently camped out with the expedition.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could be a scene from a B-grade science fiction thriller.

But this is the real thing, well, sort of. "Journey To The Red Planet," meet Capricorn I. It is an ersatz expedition to a make believe Mars with a serious goal in mind.

BOB ZUBRIN, MARS SOCIETY: This is a war game, except it's not about war. It's about learning how to explore on Mars.

O'BRIEN: Bob Zubrin is a rocket scientist too restless to remain lab-bound. He is leader of the burgeoning Mars Society, a group trying to spark interest in colonizing the red planet.

He and five others are living the life of would-be Martian explorers, complete with tight quarters, limited supplies, delayed communication home and space-suited sojourns outsides the ship.

ZUBRIN: By doing it this way, by doing it the hard way, we're beginning to show what human's might be able to accomplish on Mars.

O'BRIEN: Their simulated space ship sits at the edge of a crater on the largest uninhabited island on Earth, Devon Island in the Canadian high Arctic. It is a very cold, very dry, seemingly lifeless place.

ZUBRIN: There are no trees. There is no grass. There are no bushes. There are almost no birds. There are almost no insects. And when you do see some life, as I -- today, I saw a flower. And it was like meeting a friend in a strange place. And it was a very interesting experience.

O'BRIEN: You might call this the ultimate space camp, and in a sense it is. But there is more to this place than cosmic role- playing. The real star of the show here is the science.

PASCAL LEE, PLANETARY SCIENTIST Rocks are like books, they hold a story, they tell a story, and each rock here is a book to be read. It will tell you something about life on Earth. It will tell you something about the possibilities of life elsewhere.

O'BRIEN: Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist with NASA and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute. He leads the other dimension of the Devon expedition, the NASA led research effort.

LEE: When we first came here in 1997, we were just astounded by the sites we saw. It wasn't just the crater itself, but all the valleys and the canyons around this place, that bore similarity with Mars. We just thought this is Mars on Earth.

O'BRIEN: And so, ever since, some of the world's leading space engineers and scientists have summered here in a frigid tent city to test their latest theories on how to explore Mars.

ZUBRIN: The navigator is really operating well.

O'BRIEN: It's interesting how reminiscent these are to some MGS images I've seen.

LEE: Yeah, oh yeah. Welcome.

O'BRIEN: Welcome to Devon in all its stunning desolation. From the air, Pascal Lee showed me a virtual Mars-scape, the size of West Virginia. The valleys you see below here were formed thousands of years ago when the ice sheets were melting. They resemble very closely a network of valleys that scientists have observed for years on the planet Mars. What they know about what happened here may change the way they think about what happened on Mars.

For example, Lee believes Mars may not have been warm and wet millions of years ago, the current conventional wisdom. Instead, based on his work here, he suggests the Martian atmosphere was cold and the planet itself was warm enough to melt surface ice. Just one more small piece in a very big puzzle.

LEE: Mars is not a name in itself. It's one of the places, in fact, the most tantalizing place in the solar system where we might find a chance to find some answers to some age old questions. Are we alone in the universe? Is life as we know it on the Earth unique? How might other forms of life view life? Where might we find other forms of life and what types of forms might they take? This is something that exploration on Mars could help us on. At least, we hope. And it's something that we are able to plan for better by coming to a place like this.

O'BRIEN: That is what drew Katy Quinn to this place. An MIT grad student and astronaut want-to-be, she logged a tough tour of duty in the simulated space suit.

KATY QUINN, MIT GRADUATE STUDENT: We tried to make the space suits had to move in, restricted visibility in the helmets, gloves to make things hard to pick up. And, you know, I think the value of having people here doing things in these environments and these conditions with these restrictions, you learn so much more.

O'BRIEN: On their Mars walks, they found lots of rocks like these. Seemingly innocuous, and yet when turned over, smoking gun proof of ancient life. The kind of discovery that beckons on marks.

ZUBRIN: It would take decades to develop robots that would be able to go to Mars to find this. We found it in two hours. So, what we're showing here is that if we want to explore Mars, we've got to send people.

O'BRIEN: But there are no plans to do that just yet -- just dreams, experiments, simulations and the hope it will all lead to a distant yet maybe familiar place.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, on Devon Island.


BAKHTIAR: After a year packed with scandal, Peru looks to its new leader to turn the economy around and ease the nation's poverty. Alejandro Toledo was sworn into office Saturday. Mr. Toledo is the nation's first freely elected president of Indian descent.

Claudia Cisneros has more on Peru's new president and his rise to power. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLAUDIA CISNEROS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before 11 Latin-American presidents and a dozen other international dignitaries, Alejandro Toledo became Peru's 66th president.

As the presidential sash was placed on him, Toledo left behind a year marked by social instability, political crises, and corruption that marked disgrace Alberto Fujimori's office. It was exactly a year ago in this very chamber that then-president Alberto Fujimori was sworn into what some say was an unconstitutional third term in office while civil unrest exploded in the streets for what was perceived as a rigged election.

Toledo, the man who led those protests a year ago became Peru's president for the next five years. A shoe-shine boy turned economist, Toledo represents the aspirations of million of Peruvians who relate to him for his indigenous decent and impoverished origins,

The first Peruvian with these characteristics to reach the presidency in a country where the majority of the population is of Andean decent, but where the white minority have mainly governed.

He started the off sharing breakfast with poor children of a Lima shanty town. During his inauguration speech Toledo asserted his campaign promises of creating 400,000 new jobs, working vigorously against poverty and rebuilding Peruvian institutions weakened during the Fujimori era. He promised a capitalist economy with a human face, announced the creation of an anti drug czar and anti-corruption czar, and pledged to comply with the commission of truth resolution, a commission that will investigate all human rights investigations.

He also announce the overhaul of all armed forces and national police allegedly involved in Fujimori's corruption scandal. At several points in Toledo's speech, three of Fujimori's remaining allies raised protest signs that read, "No to political persecution" reacting to Toledo's stance that Fujimori should be returned to Peru from Japan to face charges. President Toledo has a difficult task ahead. Peru's economy has stalled and half the population live in poverty. Analysts wonder how he will walk the line between the needs of international economic community whose aid is crucial for Peru's development and urgent social needs of the Peruvian people.

Claudia Cisneros, CNN, Lima, Peru.


BAKHTIAR: In today's "Environment Desk," a closer look at one of the leading threats to our environment. Nuclear waste of all kinds is dangerous to human health. Even small amounts can cause cancer, genetic damage and other illnesses. Now members of the U.S. Congress are addressing the question of how to dispose of nuclear waste.

David George reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scientists from seven nations say the problem of nuclear waste disposal isn't a problem at all from a scientific standpoint. The problem, they say, is that many people view nuclear waste management to be a purely technical issue. It's a message the scientists say they hear all the time.

WARNER NORTH, NAS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Tell us when you have determined that it is safe so that we may go ahead.

GEORGE: "Been there, done that" could be the theme of the National Academy of Sciences report, which asserts current methods of nuclear waste disposal are safe, and now is the time to move ahead.

NORTH: The inventory of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste is growing worldwide, and in some places there is quite an urgent need to move forward to find solutions.

GEORGE: For example, the U.S. has slightly more than a 100 nuclear power plants. Together, they produce about 2,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel annually. If all that spent fuel from nuclear power plants ever produced in the United States were laid end to end, the industry says it would cover a football field to a depth of about five feet. All of that highly radioactive waste -- all of it -- is in storage near the plants where it was produced over the past 40 years.

The Academy report says its safe right where it is for another 50 years or so, if plant operators are careful.

NORTH: These facilities need to be properly maintained and renewed to insure continued integrity.

GEORGE: North and his scientific colleagues say underground disposal in a place like Yucca Mountain is the only scientifically credible long-term solution. But every nuclear nation may not be able to build a Yucca Mountain.

CHARLES MCCOMBIE, NAS COMMITTEE, VICE CHAIRMAN: Around the world there are very many small countries who do not have the resources or the capability to have a deep, geological repository for spent fuel and at somewhere down the line there will be shared facilities.

GEORGE: And that means the haves may have to share with the have-nots. What's needed most right now, says the National Academy report, isn't more science, but a selling job to get politicians involved and to win over a skeptical public.

David George, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: "Worldview" today covers crocodiles and choirs. We'll toss in some football to boot. We journey to Mexico where culture and politics are finding a harmonious voice, and we'll shine the sport's spotlight on soccer in Asia. More from Asia as we turn to Thailand, home of some unusual reptiles. TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: A story of teamwork takes us to Thailand, topical country in southeast Asia. Thailand's forests used to be filled with all sorts of animals, elephants, tigers, crocodiles, deer, wild pigs, king cobras and a variety of birds. But since the mid- 1900s, many species of Thailand's wildlife have become endangered due to the animal trade and the destruction of Thai forests by agriculture and industry.

One vulnerable group, crocodiles. The crocodile is one of the largest living reptiles. It has a long, low cigar-shaped body, short legs and a powerful tail for swimming. Crocodiles spend their days in large bodies of shallow water, open swamps and marshes praying on small animals, which they seize and swallow up whole. Occasionally, they attack large animals and sometimes even humans. Crocs are widely hunted, too, for their hides, which are manufactured into leather for shoes and handbags. They lead a seemingly harsh life. Wait until you take a bite out of our next story.

Chris Richter tells us about some crocs facing a different challenge then all the others.


CHRIS RICHTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A crocodile farm in the former Siam is celebrating the birth of what used to be called Siamese twins. There are no shortage of big crocs here. But it's a little addition to the family that is drawing all the attention -- or should we additions. This crocodile farm near Bangkok boasts conjoined twins. They may have been born as one, but like all young siblings, they have their differences.

UTHEN YOUNGPARPAKORN, FARM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: One want to sleep; the other wants to wake up. It seems when the other one wake up they try to move, that one sleep cannot sleep anymore; they have to wake up.

RICHTER: Being an adopted croc daddy isn't as easy as it may sound. Although the farm may hatch up 200 bundles of toothy joy every day, and yes, they double as zoo animals and meat, no one here has deal with conjoined twins before. They have called an Internet alert for help in learning how to feed and care for the twins.

Vets say it may be possible to separate them, eventually. But for now, they are just one of a kind, who are two of a kind.

Chris Richter, CNN.


HAYNES: In Great Britain, the word football means something entirely different than the word football in the United States. In the U.S., we associate football with things like making touchdowns and watching the Super Bowl. But in Great Britain and other countries, football is what people in the U.S. know as soccer. The first British football game in America was thought to have been played back in 1609 when teams of men kicked around an air-filled ball. Well today, the game is enthusiastically followed by millions of fans around the world. In fact, English football attracts a loyal following, even in the far reaches of Asia.

And as David Piper reports, English football clubs are now looking to capitalize on the sport's popularity.


DAVID PIPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): English football's all action style of play continues to be a great pull for Asian fans. Live games are increasingly beamed by satellite to Asia, helping to build support here.

TONY WOODCOCK, RETIRED PLAYER: You go round the streets here, they are all Arsenal fans, Man United or Liverpool, fans. So they're watching it on television, and suddenly, they are much closer to the players than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

PIPER: It's such a potentially massive market that English clubs are increasingly looking to Asia to help boost profits.

OLIVER BUTLER, SOCCER INVESTOR: What your seeing of course in the UK is that merchandising revenue is very flat, so what they are hoping is that exposing their brands to the Asian market they can regenerate some revenues through merchandising.

PIPER: While replica jerseys have always been a nice little earner for clubs, sales in Asia are being hurt by poorer quality unofficial copies. Now clubs are looking to reach out to Asian Fans directly.

(on camera): Companies and football clubs are now embracing a new way to connect with Asia, and that's via the Internet.

(voice-over): A few sites are already up, with more English clubs in the pipeline to sign up with firms producing local-Language web sites. But at the moment, the sites' creators are more interested in getting exposure that turning a profit.

WIN MARK, CEO, DESIGNERCITY: Fans are a little more ignorant in watching football they follow football icons, they follow good football matches. Just go in and ask for money straight away I don't think is the right approach. I don't think arsenal is ready to do that.

PIPER: But those revenues could come on stream very quickly thanks to games shown on the Web, shortly after they've finished.

MARK: Hopefully by encouraging people in Asia, who wouldn't otherwise be able to see the game to view it over the web site they can try to tap these people for future payments.

PIPER: The bottom line is, though, if English clubs want to build on their success in Asia, they have to show they are the best on the pitch. To do that they need to buy the world's best players and fresh cash flow from Asia can only help. David Piper, CNN, Hong Kong.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: On to Mexico, a popular vacation destination for many people. Tourists find the country dotted with beaches, tropical weather and exotic culture. But far from the seaside resorts, life for many of Mexico's people is hardly the stuff of summer fantasy.

In 1994, a rebel group called the Zapatistas staged an uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The rebels, Mayan Indians, say they have been treated like second class citizens. They are demanding more land, more autonomy and more representation in the federal government. The Mexican government says the Zapatistas are trying to separate from Mexico. The two sides are still trying to come up with a peace accord that will work for everyone. And in the meantime, the conflict is developing into kind of a folk culture to some whose lives are affected by it.

Harris Whitbeck reports.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 40 voices joined not only in song, but also in protest, denouncing their past and their present.

They are the Acteal Chorus: Mayan Indians who suffered and survived one of the worst acts of violence in the conflict in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The massacre at Acteal, which in December of 1997 left 45 men, women and children dead, shot by paramilitaries after the Indians organized to denounced the violence in their communities.

"They sing what is happening in their heart," says Roberto (ph), the choir director.


WHITBECK: One song says he who plants with tears will eventually sow peace. The group writes the songs that have also helped them deal with the pain that endures. Most of these signers live in refugee camps in Chiapas.

Ana Patricia Carvajal, a Mexico City music teacher, organized a workshop for the choir during a recent visit.

ANA PATRICIA CARVAJAL, MUSIC TEACHER (through translator): The fact that they were denouncing and dealing with their losses and doing it with high musical quality is extraordinary.

WHITBECK: Carvajal says the choir's work is especially unique because of the distinctive guttural sounds in the Mayan Tzotzil language. Roberto, the choir director, says the group intends to keep performing that unique music as long as necessary. "When we see that people are content and that we live in peace," he says, "that is when we will stop signing these songs."

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Mexico City.


BAKHTIAR: The African continent is home to a vast assortment of people, cultures, animals and terrain. Well today's "Chronicle" takes us to a small village in Nigeria where one tribal chief captures the variety and the color in his own unique style of art.

CNN NEWSROOM's Janice McDonald has his story.


JANICE MCDONALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name is Chief Zacheus K. Oloruntoba and one day he will be king of his tribe in the small village of Abuja, Nigeria.

CHIEF ZACHEUS K. OLORUNTOBA: The king is the first class. But after the king (INAUDIBLE) died, the Orloruntoba, who is the second class, he will be the king. So one day I will be.

MCDONALD: As he sits in a gallery hosting pieces of his art dating back more than 40 years, the 70-year-old chief is torn between duty and the thing which has been the love of his life since he was a child, his desire to create.

OLORUNTOBA: When I was about 15 years old, that I knew that I am really good at being an artist. If I be the king now, I would be most 90 percent busy with the people in the village, not in the art anymore.

MCDONALD: So for now, he creates when he can, using the talent that has evolved from the batiks he made with his mother in his village, a village he might never have left if a visiting priest hadn't spotted his talent.

OLORUNTOBA: I thought the holy water was black so the priest was the one that saw me doing all these one with the grandmother. He say the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) work is going to vary in content sometimes.

MCDONALD: The priest encouraged him to use color. His first paintings were on wood.

OLORUNTOBA: This is African streets and harmony. When people get very problem or get sick, take a look at the eyes. The eyes, it would heal somebody.

MCDONALD: From wood he tried cloth and then rice paper before turning to a method that has become his signature. Look closer at these figures, each is a mosaic of vibrantly colored silk threads wound tightly into a design, which the chief says is a gift to him.

OLORUNTOBA: So do you have your dreams. The spirit -- communication of the spirit. I communicate with the spirit, "Tell me what to do," all the times. First I do the drawing. Then second, I do the -- I create the design. Then taut -- I started to use the needle to tighten all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) down.

MCDONALD: People and animals draw you to them as one figure spills into the next. But the color is not just there for looks. The chief is an herbalist and uses herbs and, therefore, the color as medicines.

OLORUNTOBA: My (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I use to heal with people. Then I put it together. Then I put it in the trade. And tie that in trade rate, blue (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and everything. So when I use it, if somebody sick, they're sick every three months, every four months. So I use that paintings to put it in the house.

MCDONALD: It's not just healing powers the chief spends his time developing, his art is full of symbolism as well.

OLORUNTOBA: You see a lot of my work they have butterfly, they have fish, they have the flower. The butterfly is harmony. The spirit of the fish is for the happiness. The flower is to solve the problems. That flowers is a different -- I don't know the name of it in English.

But in universe, if you get the flower, if somebody's having a pain or ache for their stomach, you will cut the flower and squish it in there like this and smell it like this and take it in their nose. If they do that, the problems they were solved.

MCDONALD: Another common theme: the village. And when he gave us a brief painting demonstration, this was again where he concentrated.

OLORUNTOBA: Letter M is very -- is like magic. It solved the problems.

MCDONALD: The chief says each person carries a piece of this village with him as he travels elsewhere. When he returns to his village to become king, he will carry the world he has seen because of his art. He takes photographs to take these memories with him. And while he knows he will need to devote his energies to his people...

OLORUNTOBA: When I be myself by myself alone, I might be trying some paintings when people not looking at me, except my wife.

MCDONALD: Janice McDonald, CNN NEWSROOM, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: Well, if you liked that story, wait until you see what I've got lined up for you this fall. A few months ago, I got the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to travel all over the African continent. I started in South Africa, traveled to Rwanda, then Mali and ended up among some ancient ruins in Ethiopia. It was intoxicating, and I can't wait to share all the stories with you.

But for now, it's time for us to sign off. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Have a great day.



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