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NEWSROOM for August 6, 2001

Aired August 6, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

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

On today's show, the psychological effects of living in a war zone. Here's the rundown.

Up first, how the constant shooting and shelling in Gaza have traumatized Palestinians living there.

Then in "Environment Desk," panda mania at a Washington, D.C. zoo. We'll take a closer look at some distinctive bears.

On to "Worldview" and the U.S. national park where the weather is as varied as the landscape.

And in "Chronicle," some of New York's homeless children get away to summer camp.

A week of turmoil in the Middle East leaves at least four people dead and more than a dozen wounded. Violence rocked the region from the West Bank to Tel Aviv. The fighting, which began last September after Middle East peace talks deadlocked, has claimed the lives of more than 500 Palestinians, 130 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs.

Mike Hanna reports on the latest round of the violence.


MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Palestinian gunman opens fire near the defense force headquarters in downtown Tel Aviv. At least nine Israelis were wounded. The gunman himself was wounded by a traffic police officer after he tried to drive away in a car. The attack was the first inside Tel Aviv since the suicide bomb two months ago.

Conflict waged too in the center of Palestinian cities. On Saturday, Israeli missiles fired at vehicles parked outside the Ramallah offices of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Israel security forces say that a target of attack was a man they described as a wanted militant, Abu Hallabe (ph), who was wounded in the missile strike. Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi insists he was also a target of Israeli attack and has demanded the international community take the strongest action against what he calls "a state-sanctioned policy of assassination." While denying that any actions are planned against Palestinian political leaders, Israel;s foreign minister responds sharply to Barghouthi's call for international condemnation.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: He wants to have a new freedom, a freedom to kill. He will have the freedom to kill, we shall not have the freedom to defend ourselves, to defer them, to prevent them? What sort of a business is that?

HANNA: The U.S. State Department has sharply criticized the Israeli attacks on individual Palestinians, but Palestinians insist it's up to the U.S. to persuade Israel to accept independent observers in the region as a means of implementing the cease-fire.

AHMAN QOREI: Why they don't send their observers? Why they don't start it immediately, the implementation of the cooling-off period? Why are we waiting? Why are we keeping the situation to be deteriorated day by day?

HANNA: Later Sunday, another Israeli attack. A 20-year-old Palestinian identified as a member of Hamas when he was killed when an Israeli helicopter fired at the car in which he was traveling near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

(on camera): Israeli says there can be negotiation until the violence ends, Palestinians say the violence will not end unless there is negotiation -- incompatible positions that the two sides appear unable or unwilling to resolve by themselves.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Jerusalem.


WALCOTT: The ongoing violence in Gaza has traumatized many Palestinians. Children don't feel safe and parents feel powerless in protecting their families. The conflict is taking a toll on many people, yet few seek help.

Once again, we go to Mike Hanna for the report.


HANNA (voice-over): "They shell us and we can't do anything," says 13-year-old Mirad. A tear that could be one of frustration, anger or fear glistens briefly on his cheek. What can I do, he asks?

This is a neighborhood where Mirad and his friends used to live until April in houses demolished by the Israeli army, which said the building sheltered gunman firing on the nearby Jewish settlement. Then in tents they in turn abandoned following ongoing violence in what's become a front line in more than 10 months of conflict.

Eleven-year-old Haman (ph) says he comes here to water the trees. This is our land. We want to live here, he insists. If they kill us, let them bury us here.

Our parents try to comfort us, says Haman's younger brother, Muhammad (ph), but my father can't protect me from the Israelis. We had to runaway from our house.

JALAL ABU LOZ, FATHER (through translator): I can't. How can I protect them? When they bulldozed my home, I was torn apart. I was looking at my house being demolished and was thinking of my children. I had someone take my children to a safe place and I cried as I watched my house smashed into rubble.

HANNA: The latest home of the Abu Loz family, now in a block of tenement buildings which also bears scars of conflict despite being more than a mile from the nearest Jewish settlement. It's a massive social upheaval leaving in its wake, say psychiatrists, emotional trauma, which puts immense strain on relationships within the society's tightly knit family structure.

ABU LOZ (through translator): There is constant shouting in the house. My wife and I are very tense. She shouts a lot and so do I. Sometimes I can't take it anymore. I lose my mind and I hit my children. One day, I opened up the gas canister and told my children we will all die now. I just lost my mind.

HANNA: Jalal Abu Loz decided to seek counseling and he allowed CNN to accompany doctors from the Community Health Project to one of their now regular visits to the family.

DR. NIMER ABU ZARQA, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: He feel useless. He feel he cannot offer security, he cannot do anything for his family because he has seven children and then his wife (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his family.

HANNA: Jalal is a Palestinian Authority policeman but says he cannot face going to work anymore. His wife, Fadima, arrives home from the nearby hospital where she works as a nurse.

FADIMA ABU LOZ, MOTHER (through translator): My husband walks and talks to me in his sleep. He shouts. I let him get out everything he wants to say. He's, of course, sleeping, unaware of what he's saying. In the morning, he doesn't remember anything. The children are very nervous, he is violent and will not listen to anything I say. I cannot control him anymore.

HANNA: Dr. Nimer Abu Zarqa recently returned to Gaza from London where he was studying forensic psychiatry. But it's his personal experience, he says, that enables him to empathize with the trauma of this family.

ABU ZARQA: This, the effect of one bullet.

HANNA: Dr. Nimer also has a home on the front line and as the fighting raged, his family was also forced to leave to move in with relatives. ABU ZARQA: Myself, really I suffer. I don't live in my house. My house is affected, as you will notice. My children, also my two daughters, they have - they suffer and I try to help them as much as I can here also, but this is the problem which the majority of people here suffer from.

HANNA: But while the majority may suffer psychological trauma, it's very few who actually acknowledge the fact. To do so, say the doctors, would be perceived as a weakness in the face of Israeli aggression.

DR. IVAD SARRAJ, GAZA COMMUNITY HEPITIS (ph) CENTER: Very few people express depression in psychological terms. I have seen all but 15,000 cases of depression in this Gaza Strip. None of them said: "I feel depressed. " But all of them said: "I have a headache, I have a chest pain, I have a burning sensation in my skull, I have a threatening sensation in my throat," and so on. The expression would be always in psychosomatic forms and in behavior of people.

HANNA: This behavior among old and young sometimes taking the form of violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the children start to play, for example, with each other, when they fight with each other, they're more - I believe that they are more aggressive, more violent. They sometimes play with each other by throwing stones for one -- to another.

HANNA: Here, two doctors from the Community Health Project interact with a group of young girls aged between 7 and 10. They're attending a summer vacation camp.

DR. SAMI UWEIDAN, PSYCHIATRIST: In this case, we try to help the children by expressing their emotion. For example, talking. Talking about what do they feel, what do they felt when they - when it has happened the first time the shelling.

HANNA: At first, the children, distracted perhaps by the camera, appear shy, unwilling to express themselves. But as the doctors talk, the children open up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our house was shelled and we went to my grandparent's house. We slept their two nights, but when we went back home, I was still terrified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our school was attacked with helicopters. Nobody goes there now because a person was injured. Now they've changed our school and we go to one near the sea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I felt like I was getting a pain in my head all the time.

SARRAJ: We try to engage the children in so many constructive ways. First, to allow themselves to express themselves and second, to engage in constructive ways of thinking of the future and about their life and a kind of hope. We try simply to instill hope. HANNA: We must talk about these fears Dr. Sami tells the girls. Talk about our dreams, talk to our mother, our friends. If we talk about it, we won't be scared. And at the end of the counseling session, a song in which the children confront these fears.

Oh mother, the girls sing, they placed me in a big prison and then they put guards all around.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Conunist (ph), Gaza.


WALCOTT: On August 17, CNN NEWSROOM will host a special titled "Children of War." You'll likely be shocked by the number of children, not only being affected by war, but right in the midst of it on the battlefields. We'll look back at a few major wars and hear reflective stories of individuals whose lives were forever changed by them.

In today's "Environment Desk," we're talking pandas. You know, those bamboo munching, black and white cuddly mammals that look like bears but are part of the raccoon family. Well, it's panda mania at Washington's National Zoo, one of three zoos in the United States that has them.

And as CNN's Patty Davis reports, Washington's pandas, on loan from China, are proving they can bring in the crowds.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since their debut six months ago at Washington's National Zoo the giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have been on a roll. The pandas on loan from China are packing in the crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here to see the zoo and maybe the pandas.

DAVIS: So have nearly 1.7 million others. Zoo officials are predicting their best year in a decade.


DAVIS: Cute and profitable. Food and gift shop sales are setting records.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at these pandas.

DAVIS: Everything from panda lunch boxes to panda toasters to this stuffed panda -- the zoo's biggest seller.

BOB HOAGE, NATIONAL ZOO SPOKESMAN: So far for the first five months of this year the sale of food and souvenirs has reached 4.8 million, which is quite substantial compared to our previous best year in 1998, which was 2.9 million for the first five months. DAVIS: The zoo is paying China $1 million a year for 10 years for the pandas. That and all panda related profits go toward conservation of the giant panda in China.

The National Zoo has experienced panda mania before. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were also big draws when they were given to the zoo by China in 1972. Both died in the 1990s.

This time zoo officials say they're managing these young pandas differently. Instead of keeping the cold weather-loving pandas indoors during Washington's hot summer . . .

LISA STEVENS, SR. CURATOR, NATIONAL ZOO: We want to give them choices and let them decide how they want keep cool. So when you look at their outdoor enclosure now they have misting systems and fogging systems. They have the water pools. We also created specially designed grottoes -- one is air-conditioned.

DAVIS: So far zoo officials say Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are oblivious to their new found fame. The crowds on the other hand are anything but.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the best show they've ever put on.

DAVIS: Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, a look at the Olympics - two of them, in fact. One is a national park in the United States and the other is an upcoming sports gathering in China. We'll meet some aspiring athletes, but first, a trip to Jamaica to check out the environment.

Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea. Its name means land of wood and water. Jamaica became independent in 1962 after being a British colony for hundreds of years. English is still the official language today. Jamaica's music is well known and its beaches are legendary. It has a vast collection of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. But Jamaica's island paradise also has the highest rate of deforestation around the globe, the second highest number of plants species endanger of extinction and the most overfished waters in the English speaking Caribbean.

Now Natalie Pawelski explains what people are doing to turn back time and keep the oceans alive.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a profession as old as time, but these Jamaican fishermen are now fighting to ensure that it continues for centuries to come.

There's been a sharp drop in Jamaica's fish catches over the past two decades. Two of the main reasons: Water pollution and overfishing. Now the fishermen themselves are banding together to try to turn the tide.

PETER ESPEUT, CARIBBEAN COASTAL AREA MANAGEMENT FOUNDATION: We have three cooperatives and five fishers organizations, and we have 50 fishers that have been appointed game wardens and fisheries inspectors by the government.

PAWELSKI: The wardens work with fishing villages to keep beaches free of debris and pollution.

They also check nets, making sure the mesh allows juvenile fish to escape, giving them time to reproduce. Finally, the wardens work with their fellow fishermen to stop illegal practices like dynamite fishing, just one of the techniques that lead to overfishing. The fishermen also helped set up the Portland Bight protected area, about 750 square miles of Jamaica's most critical and diverse marine habitat.

The cooperatives are organizing volunteer groups to protect pristine barrier islands, working with the government to stop sewage outflows into the sea, and sharing sustainable fishing techniques with other nations, including Cuba, Haiti, and Colombia.

But they are not talking about limiting catches, at least, not yet. And no matter what they do, all their efforts may not be enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each year the catch weight is less, the average size of the fish is less, and there is the move away from quality fish towards more trash fish. Typical signs of an overfished fishery.

PAWELSKI: Also still unsolved, the destruction of mangroves in Jamaica, which serve as nurseries for fish and other creatures. But while fish stocks are declining all around the world, here in Jamaica, the fishermen are working against problems like pollution and overfishing, hoping to save the fish, their livelihoods, and their traditional way of life.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Next stop, a national park in the United States. It's a destination of Olympic proportions. It's the only national park in the U.S. where you can find a beach, a snow landscape and a rain forest. Olympic National Park is in the state of Washington. The United States national park system has more than 350 sites, including historic areas, battlefields and wildlife areas. Only one U.S. state has no national park land, that state is Delaware.

Do you know which park was the first to be established as a national park in the U.S.? That park is Yellowstone, which lies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The Old Faithful geyser is one of the most famous landmarks.

Today, however, we travel further north as Stephanie Oswald takes us on a tour of Olympic National Park. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPANIE OSWALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Visiting this national park is like going on three very different vacations.

DAVID MORRIS, PARK SUPERINTENDENT: We almost have three parks here, a wonderful wild coastline. We have the largest temperate rain forest in North America and of course a superlative alpine zone with a lot of unique plant species.

OSWALD: From rocky beaches to rugged mountain peaks, nature's multi-faceted personality makes Olympic a jewel in the crown of U.S. parks.

JACK HUGHES, PARK RANGER: We were down there just around the corner like walking around the snow. We were looking down at the ocean. And you can't do that a lot of places. And a lot of this is understood.

OSWALD: In fact, most of the park, 95 percent, is considered wilderness. It's the centerpiece of the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. Surrounded by the waters of the Pacific, the park is about a three hour trip from Seattle. It covers more than 1,400 square miles, about three fourths the size of the state of Delaware. And whether you come by car or boat, the journey is designed to be as beautiful as the destination.

Olympic is considered a world heritage park, in part because it's home to 20 types of animals and eight types of plants that can't be found anywhere else on earth. What's more, saving one species from extinction is how the park came to be in the first place.

HUGHES: This park was not set up to preserve the mountains and the glaciers. It was set up to preserve the elk herd. It was originally Mount Olympus National Monument to preserve the Olympic elk.

OSWALD: That was in 1908. Three decades later, the area was declared a national park. But even then, biodiversity was still a mystery.

HUGHES: In 1938, we didn't know anything about biodiversity. We knew about it, but we didn't talk about it and then all of a sudden it seemed like people were coming in from Germany, Japan and Atlanta, Georgia, I mean some really remote places. And all of a sudden we were on the map, the ecology map.

OSWALD: Today, more than four million visits per year are recorded at this natural masterpiece.

Stephanie Oswald, CNN, Olympic National Park, Washington.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We head now to Asia and the world's most populous country, the People's Republic of China. China has been ruled by a communist government since 1949 and stands as one of the most influential countries in the world. But the powerful nation has been widely criticized on its human rights record, especially as the country gets ready to host the 2008 Olympic games. This is the first time that China has been chosen to host the games. Human rights activists strongly criticized the decision by the International Olympic Committee to hold the games in Beijing.

But as Lisa Rose Weaver reports, that's not stopping some of the country's youngest athletes from dreaming about and working toward their first Olympic bid.


LISA ROSE WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For preteen gymnasts at the Shi Shahai Sports School, the games of 2008 are a long way off. But one or two of these young athletes might prove themselves here and one day make Olympic history for China.

The hopefuls work at least four hours a day building bodies that will fit into China's sport machine.

ZHANG YANG, SHI SHAHAI SPORTS SCHOOL (through translator): This kind of government sponsored system, which trains kids from an early age to become top athletes, can insure better results because we follow them closely in the process.

WEAVER: But the financial help the state can offer isn't total because state-run sports schools now have to charge some tuition. That leaves athletes like 10-year-old Wang Shwa (ph) caught in the middle. He's good enough to be training here at one of China's best schools but too young and unproven to get the full sports machine treatment.

Wang Shwa comes home only on the weekends, the life he's been used to since the age of three. Everyone in the neighborhood knows he's a gymnast likely headed for fame and he's clearly the star of the family, but he doesn't flaunt the symbols of his success in public.

He says medals are just medals, not the person wearing them.

His parents know there's more to life than competition and more to their son's success than just will. About one-fourth of the Wang family's income goes into training fees, a steep sacrifice at a time when many Chinese are losing their jobs.

WANG WEIYUAN, FATHER (through translator): Maybe the school would reduce his tuition if he's really got promise as an athlete, but it all depends on whether the state can support his training: one through his own ability and our financial situation.

WEAVER: Wang Shwa wants to go into singing and acting if gymnastics doesn't work out. But he's far from giving up now and seems ready for a long road of hard work ahead to earn a place in the best competition there is.

Lisa Rose Weaver, CNN, Beijing. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: For most kids, summer is a time to hangout with friends, play games, have fun, but for children who live in homeless shelters, this time of year rarely helps ease the stress of their daily lives. Now some homeless children in New York are getting a chance to trade in life in the city for 19 days of summer camp.

Maria Hinojosa has the story.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A shimmering swim hole in upstate New York welcomes a bunch of silly boys. In a quiet nearby cabin, art develops into science for a group of girls. And outside in the rough, baseball and some boogie music.

DAVID MORGAN, DIRECTOR, CAMP HOMEWARD BOUND: What we want all of our kids to know when they leave here wearing these shirts, is that this is a place where, no matter what, good times are forever. They will always be safe here.

HINOJOSA: Camp Homeward Bound, a place for summer's magic, a place where homeless children leave life in a shelter for a tent with eight little kids and three counselors. A bunk bed, new clothes, an abundance of food, and a chance to escape the past.

DAVID SOSA, CAMP ATTENDEE: It all left my mind. All I thinked about was camp and my mom.

HINOJOSA: The past for David is a shelter for battered women and their children, where he fled with his mother after his father beat her up.

ROSA SOSA, MOTHER OF DAVID: He needs to enjoy. He needs to play. He needs to be a boy. Because for a year and four months he was not a little a boy. He was like a grownup.

HINOJOSA: Courtney and Justin are escaping a teeming concrete homeless shelter in the Bronx.

REGINA ROBINSON, MOTHER: There's a lot of violence, a lot of drugs, a lot of innocent people getting killed for crazy stuff...

HINOJOSA: The boys have only left the city once before to see an older brother at an upstate prison. Not for Courtney wants for himself.

COURTNEY MAINE, CAMP ATTENDEE: Sometimes I do a little bad stuff, but now I don't, because I'm at a different place. When I'm at a different place than home. I show my good side.

HINOJOSA: He's learned to fish. The anger inside...

MAINE: I ain't got no fish.

HINOJOSA: ... has been vented to his counselors.

(on camera): How has it changed you?

MAINE: It made me a different person. It turned my life around.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Some who came to camp as homeless children are now camp counselors themselves.

SYMONE JOHNSON, CAMP COUNSELOR: I still go through times when -- my first year, like, I got away, I relaxed. But inside I was like, you know, I was so sad that I had to go back home.

HINOJOSA: They will go back to that life in homeless shelters, but not yet. Not before a few more days of summer camp and singing.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, Bear Mountain, New York.


WALCOTT: That looks like fun.

Well that wraps up today's show. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.


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