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CNN Newsroom

Aired October 24, 2001 - 04:30   ET


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael McManus.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott.

The anthrax investigation in the United States capital expands. Traces of the bacteria were detected Tuesday at a facility that processes incoming White House mail.

MCMANUS: Also, officials now confirm two Washington, D.C. postal workers did in fact die of anthrax. Two other employees at the Brentwood mail facility are undergoing treatment for inhalation anthrax.

Susan Candiotti brings us up to date on the investigation.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the common denominator linking deadly anthrax hits in Washington, and now getting dangerously close to mail heading to the White House. The Brentwood postal facility is now officially a crime scene. Two postal workers dead from inhaling anthrax there, two other postal workers are being treated for inhaling the bacteria.

DEBORAH WILLHITE, U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: The enemy is whoever sent this letter because they have now murdered two people and two people are seriously ill.

CANDIOTTI: Health officials are also investigating four more suspected cases, and on top of that, another dozen in the Washington area that may be infected. And now that White House connection -- an automated machine at this naval base, a letter slitter that opens White House mail, gets a positive hit for anthrax. Mail going through there first passes through the Brentwood facility.

FLEISCHER: All employees at the site are being swabbed and tested. Mailroom employees at the White House will also be swabbed and tested and environmental sampling throughout the White House has all shown negative.

CANDIOTTI: Investigators admit they have a big problem on their hands -- figuring out how anthrax, finely ground to hang in the air, may have seeped out of mail and into the lungs of postal workers. DR. JEFFREY KOPLAN, DIRECTOR, CDC: What's very disturbing about this to all of us is that it's - apparently, closed envelopes can transmit as well. And we don't know whether that is out of, you know, open flaps in the envelope, whether it's - potentially can pass through the envelope.

CANDIOTTI: The Justice Department now releasing copies of three anthrax letters, all postmarked Trenton, New Jersey. Two sent to NBC's Tom Brokaw and the "New York Post" are identical, are in the same handwriting, contain the same threatening message and are labeled "9-11", the day of the attacks, although postmarked one week later. They read, "This is next. Take penicillin now. Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle mailed about three weeks later is similar. "You cannot stop us. We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid? Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."

RIDGE: All of these are -- we hope, will alert citizens and others to the kind of thing to look for and may provide us with indications about other items sent through the mail that would similarly have provided a basis for the risks and the problems we've endured.

CANDIOTTI: But the FBI not yet able to finger Al Qaeda or domestic terrorists.

TIM CARUSO, FBI: We do not have information at this point that would make evidentiary links to Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda.

CANDIOTTI: In New Jersey, where those letters were processed, investigators expanding their search, but leads still going nowhere. Authorities spreading out to a neighboring county where at least one of the letters may have originated. The FBI waiting for anthrax tests on an infected mail carrier's backpack, truck, and three blue mailboxes along her route. She did not, however, retrieve mail from them.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Sources say leads are still coming in, including tips about people dropping off suspicious mail. So far, a dead end. Very much alive, the question everyone wants answered, who did it and why?

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: Since the September 11 terrorist attacks and now the anthrax scare, people have been sticking close to home. Americans are going about their business, they're just adjusting their routines a little. A recent CNN-USA Today Gallup Poll shows 89 percent of people are moving on with their lives in the wake of the attacks. Nevertheless, when it comes to some activities like shopping, consumers are making changes.

Fred Katayama explains.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, Bluefly.

FRED KATAYAMA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day of the terrorist attacks, orders for name brand apparel plummeted at this off-price, online retailer. But sales at bounced right back. And despite consumer concern over the war and now anthrax, the company is bullish its sales will not sour in what's traditionally the busiest quarter of the year.

KEN SEIFF, CEO, BLUEFLY.COM: We expect good things from the holiday. This weekend, we did as much business as any weekend since Christmas of last year.

KATAYAMA: And says early signs suggest it'll do fairly well this season. Consumers are letting their mice do the shopping. In a week that saw anthrax uncovered in New York, sales over the Internet rose 51 percent over the same period last year. What's more, the research firm reports sales notched double digit percentage gains the past three weeks.

And so, Forrester Research predicts holiday sales online will grow 10 percent this year to $11 billion. That's down sharply from the 100 percent increase last holiday season, but it's still growth in a slumping economy. Helping fuel it, cocooning web users concerned about safety may shop from home.

CARRIE JOHNSON, FORRESTER RESEARCH: As consumers travel less this holiday season, that may translate into more online sales, because consumers will be at home, not visiting their relatives, not visiting their friends. And they'll need to send those people gifts.

KATAYAMA: Some skeptics on Wall Street say online traffic may rise, but consumers will spend less because of the weak economy. But that forecast may not fly at Bluefly. Its customers have spent more on average in the past four weeks than they have for the quarter.

Fred Katayama, CNN Financial News, New York.


MCMANUS: Finance is also on the minds of the fashion industry. They came together and formed fashion for America, "Shop to show your support." The mission is twofold, they hope to get consumers back into the stores, but they will also be raising money for the Trade Center victims.

While the outpouring of donations has left charities with accounts full of cash but families must now apply for that money, money to help pay for funerals, mortgages and college tuitions.

As Peter Viles reports, it's been a confusing task.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Susan Ferugio is a World Trade Center widow, trying to put her life back together. She knows there is charitable help out there, but she doesn't know exactly where to find it.

SUSAN FERUGIO, WIFE OF WORLD TRADE CENTER VICTIM: Every time I pass a billboard or put the TV on, I hear about all these funds and people collecting money. I frankly right now don't have the energy or the time to put into that, looking for money from these organizations.

VILES: It is a growing criticism; 180 charities have collected more than a billion dollars since September 11, but there is no system in place to track the money or make sure it is going where it is needed.

ART TAYLOR, BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: Unless the charities themselves decide to come together and share basic information about who they're giving money to, it's going to be virtually impossible to assure that everyone gets what is coming to them, and that the money is distributed fairly.

VILES: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is pushing for just that, a central database, but the Red Cross has reservations about the idea.

LUIS GARCIA, AMERICAN RED CROSS: The information that these family members are providing us is of a confidential nature. And unless a family member gives us the authority to release the information on what the Red Cross has done for them, it's very difficult for us to break that trust.

VILES: The Red Cross has raised nearly $500 million and dispersed $110 million, $40 million of that directly to families in gifts averaging up to $20,000. Another charity, the September 11 fund, has pledges for $320, but has collected just over $100 million and dispersed just over $30 million. It did make this pledge to MONEYLINE.

JOSHUA GOTBAUM, SEPT. 11 FUND: 100 percent of the funds that have been donated to the September 11 fund will go to victims of that disaster, their families and their communities. 100 percent, .00.

VILES: But it is not that simple. The fund does not give direct aid. It gives to nonprofit groups, which in turn disperse the money. Susan Ferugio did receive money from the Red Cross, but she saw a system she says is not working.

SUSAN FERUGIO, WIDOW: There's all this money floating around and everyone wants to help. And I think you know, everyone, the government, the relief organizations, they really don't know how to handle this.

VILES (on camera): The Red Cross and the September 11 fund say they are moving as quickly as they can to make wise decisions about how to spend the money they've raised, learning in the process that the American people are very generous but also growing somewhat impatient.

Peter Viles, CNN Financial News, New York.



CHRISTOPHER BAILEY, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: My name is Christopher Bailey from Nashville, Tennessee. And I want to Ask CNN: All the country names in the surrounding Afghan region end in "stan," like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, et cetera. What does this suffix mean?

ALAN CARROLL, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: I had to ask some colleagues to answer this question for me. I was curious about it myself. It turns out that stan is Persian for country or land so Afghanistan simply means land of the Afghans.


WALCOTT: The British Minister of Defense says all nine Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan have been destroyed. Shutting down those camps has been one of the main objectives of the U.S.-led strikes. Another goal is finding Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan's elaborate terrain makes that a difficult task.

Our Joel Hochmuth brings us a closer look at the lay of the nation's land.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Afghanistan has endured the worst nature and humanity have to offer for as long as history has been recorded. It has, in many ways, been a victim of its own geography. Afghanistan is a land of impenetrable mountains and forbidding deserts, a place where people endure temperatures as high as 120 degrees above zero and as low as 20 below.

About the size of Texas, Afghanistan is landlocked, largely between Iran and Pakistan. It is that exact location that has put it directly in the path of invading superpowers for centuries. About 500 B.C., it was the Persians, in 328 B.C., it was Alexander the Great.

Arab Muslim armies swept through about 700 A.D. bringing the Islam religion with them. In 1220, it was Genghis Khan. More recently, the British and the Russians fought over the region in the 19th century. They called it "The Great Game," although the British lost an entire army in the first Anglo-Afghan War.

In the 20th century, the Soviet Union, which failed to learn from a previous British debacle, invaded in 1979. Soviet forces left in disgrace 10 years later after losing 13,000 soldiers.

In between these foreign invasions, the Afghan people have often been at war with each other. There are about 27 million people living in Afghanistan. While the vast majority are Muslims, they are made up of about 20 ethnic groups and many more smaller tribes to which many feel a greater loyalty than their country.

The now infamous Taliban leadership come from the Pashtun ethnic group which makes up about 38 percent of the population. The Taliban, which came to power in 1996, have been fighting against the Northern Alliance, a coalition of groups led by Tajiks, Afghanistan's second largest ethnic group.

The Taliban, of course, are notorious for their extremism and intolerance. Among other things, women must wear veils in public and aren't allowed to attend school, but Afghanistan hasn't always been this way. In fact, it was once one of the most progressive Muslim nations. It said in the 1960s women wore miniskirts in Kabul. Today, they'd be beaten.

It is in this land of extremes, both political and geographic, that U.S.-led forces now are fighting. If history teaches anything, finding a long lasting peace here will be as elusive as finding Osama bin Laden.


WALCOTT: And the tough times continue for the Afghan people, hundreds of thousands have been displaced by fighting inside the country. Many refugees are fleeing to Pakistan, but tens of thousands have been displaced within Afghanistan itself.

Satinder Bindra reports.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without a home in their own country, cooking and eating under the open skies with only these flimsy tents as shelters from the searing heat in the summer and biting cold in the winter. Meet the residents of Kojagar (ph). They're here but Kojagar lies a few hundred kilometers south. Fifteen months ago, fighting forced all 1,500 residents to flee their homes. Now they seek shelter in Northern Alliance territory.

"When the Taliban stormed into our village," says Mowjee Khal, "there was a 14-year-old girl. The Taliban killed her and then we escaped here."

The walk into Northern Alliance territory, says the oldest person in this camp, 95-year-old Mowjee Khal, took three days. Except for infants and toddlers who rode on donkey back, all these children walked.

"Our children are begging for bread and money to feed their families," says Mowjee Khal. We have nothing to wear in the winter and to cover the bare feet of our children. We have no way to rescue ourselves from this bad luck."

(on camera): Other than odd jobs, most of the men here say they can't find any work. This entire community is now dependent on handouts from relief agencies. To make matters worse, even the drinking water in these wells is saltish and the nights are beginning to get very cold.

(voice-over): Life just couldn't get worse. None of the children here attend school. Their only nourishment is a dry scrap of bread. Still, their smile for the cameras is friendly and warm, and for all their troubles, these people display a remarkable resilience.

What stands out here is not poverty but pride. Everyone here looks forward to going back to Kojagar so they can rebuild their homes, start cultivating their fields again. But first, the Taliban forces have to be defeated and it's far from clear when that will happen.

"We can never return because our homes are under Taliban control," says Mowjee Khal. "We cannot go there until Northern Alliance troops capture it."

Ninety-five-year old Mowjee Khal feels helpless. Every day she says feels like an eternity. Since she's too old to work, Mowjee Khal spends her days cooking but that only occupies her hands. Her mind spends all its time thinking of her four sons, all killed fighting the Taliban.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, on the Kucha (ph) River in northeastern Afghanistan.


WALCOTT: You just heard about the many Afghans who are homeless or fleeing their country. Well one group trying to help them is the United Nations. The United Nations is an organization of countries around the world. One of its most important purposes is to preserve world peace.

The U.N. was established October 24, 1945 after World War II in hopes of avoiding another such war. The U.N. has its headquarters in New York City. Representatives from member nations meet to discuss issues of global importance.

Today is United Nations Day, and our Kathy Nellis takes a closer look at the U.N. in action.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an organization that works for world peace and security. And while those goals may seem a bit shaky at the moment, the United Nations stands committed to promoting cooperation between countries. Over the years, the United Nations has focused on important international issues, things like AIDS, human rights, the environment and refugee relief.

And as the Afghan refugees flee their country, the United Nations Refugee Agency is appealing for $50 million in aid to care for the desperate and displaced families arriving in Pakistan.

While it works to provide care and comfort to the war weary, the United Nations is also focused on many other global issues, particularly the children of the world. The U.N. will hold a special session on children next year.

AMBASSADOR PATRICIA DURRANT, U.N. SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN: We want to ensure that every child has a good start in life, has a healthy life, has a quality education and as adolescents, will be prepared for the participation in the work force.

NELLIS: Education is a key issue since 125 million children in the world never open a book or see the inside a schoolhouse, never learn to read or write or add, experts say.

DAVID MORRISON, PRESIDENT, NETAID: There's nothing more important than education for children and that goes equally for children in rich countries as it is -- or as it does for children in poor countries.

NELLIS: Another subject in the spotlight, children's health.

(on camera): More than 10 million children still die each year from preventable causes and more than 150 million still suffer from malnutrition.

(voice-over): Those numbers are staggering and they put a very human face on a problem plaguing billions around the world, poverty, according to the head medical officer for UNICEF.

DR. YVES BERGEVIN, HEAD MEDICAL OFFICER, UNICEF: We're talking about a third to a half of the world's children who live in poverty and often poverty is linked -- with poverty you get overcrowding, you get poor access to clean water -- you know inadequate access to clean water, poor sanitation, poor nutrition and then infectious diseases take a hold and spread from child to child. And we should really think of each child who dies and remember that each day 30,000 children die of largely preventable causes.

CHILDREN: Say yes to children. Say yes to children.

NELLIS: But children can be part of the solution, according to United Nations officials.

CORINNE WOODS, INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR SAY YES FOR CHILDREN: Essentially where we've seen over the -- over the years where we've seen changes, it's when people -- individual people say, you know what, I'm going to do something about this. I'm going to make my voice heard and I'm going to make a difference and children have often been at the forefront -- young people have been at the forefront of those changes. And so we believe that children's voices are important and they have the power to change the world. And government leaders will listen to them, we just have to give them access to have their voices heard and we have to ensure the government leaders do -- actually are ready to listen to them.

NELLIS: Those leaders will be on hand when this special session on children convenes in New York, a city that's now a symbol of rebuilding and pulling together. That spirit, that sense of cooperation and unity is what the United Nations hopes to convey to the children of the world. CAROL BELLAMY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: I just think that young people should understand they have an enormous opportunity to help influence their own lives. So I hope that they will listen, but I also hope they will learn and I hope they will speak out. They have the power to change their lives.

NELLIS: Kathy Nellis, CNN, the United Nations.


WALCOTT: So how can young people get involved? Well, we'll have some ideas for you next month. November the 20th is Universal Children's Day and we'll be telling you how you can be a part of a United Nations campaign to help kids around the world.

MCMANUS: The attacks sparked a surge of patriotism among the young generation. Many now waving and wearing the American flag, others have been eager to sign up for military service or to speak up for Operation Enduring Freedom. But not everyone has been quick to jump on the bandwagon.

CNN Student Bureau reporter Kylie Gandoff reports on a group of college students who are rallying for a peaceful resolution to the Afghanistan conflict.


KYLIE GANDOFF, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): These Indiana University students are drumming up support for their cause, a peaceful resolution to the war in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Killing innocent people is not a resolution.

GANDOFF: As soon as the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan, these students went to action.

JAMES BOURKE, PEACE PROTESTOR: We decided to stop, you know, discussing it and actually do something.

GANDOFF: So they set up a peace camp, and what began with only a handful of students and two tents has now grown to nearly 40 students and a dozen tents, but there are plenty of critics.

BRETT WEINBLATT, STUDENT: To be honest, I think this is ridiculous. I think after the September 11 attacks the only solution we had is to go into Afghanistan and take over.

STEVE MARKS, PEACE PROTESTOR: We get lots of people driving by shouting stuff at us but just let it roll off our backs.

GANDOFF: On this night, a rally to help get the word out. Complete with bongos, a larger-than-life Jesus and an energetic crowd.

(on camera): The protestors here at the rally have been passing out green ribbons like these which represent a peaceful resolution to the war, and they say that's the only way to end violence for good.

BOURKE: If you just indiscriminately attack people for having attacked you, you just keep the problem going, you're perpetuating the cycle of violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are other ways to take care of this thing going into war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the back are a list of 10 solutions we advocate other than military action.

GANDOFF: The protestors handout their 10 point plan to end the war peacefully which ranges from humanitarian aid to ending financial resources for terror networks, but critics are not impressed.

MATT LESSER, STUDENT: They're probably just thinking euphorically. Obviously everybody wants peace, but when someone takes down the World Trade Center, there's no peace in the world.

GANDOFF: Many who pass by consider the camp un-American, but others are tolerant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people say what's going on here is very unpatriotic.

ANNE NOVAK, BLOOMINGTON RESIDENT: There's always room in America for dissent. We're protected, we're allowed to (INAUDIBLE).

GANDOFF: The protestors vow not to leave the peace camp until the U.S. stops all military action in Afghanistan.

Kylie Gandoff, CNN Student Bureau, Bloomington, Indiana.


MCMANUS: No matter what generation they belong to, many Americans may have thought the U.S. was immune to terrorism. But for some, events of late are a grim reminder of just how dangerous the world can be.

Garrick Utley reports.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is place to relax, Washington Square, a rare oasis of calm not far from the site of the World Trade Center. And for the students of New York University, which surrounds the square, it is a place to think about the end of their young old world.

SEAN COOK, NYU GRADUATE STUDENT: It looked easy at the time. I think -- the economy -- it seemed people like people were getting pumped out into high-paying jobs and prosperity. And I think that we live in an insular society here in the United States, and for better or for worse, that's gone now. UTLEY: What replaced it is not only the vivid memory and the spontaneous memorial that arose in Washington Square on September 11, but an anxiety that a young generation had never known.

Annie Railton is a sophomore from Virginia. She had to evacuate her dormitory after the attacks.

ANNIE RAILTON, NYU STUDENT: For me, I haven't gone back to normalcy yet, because that's where I still live. And after the bombs started being dropped, they brought the National Guard back out in front of my building, so it is a reality, and it's very much a part of the future. And we're all really scared about it.

UTLEY: Sean Cook, a graduate student from California, has discovered a new personal contact with his grandmother.

COOK: I hadn't been in communication with her for great long while, and I've actually received some e-mails and a card recently from her and talked a little bit about remembering where she was when Pearl Harbor happened -- something you don't do very often, to think of your grandma when she was your age. And just thinking about her at that moment finding out, feeling some of the same feelings that I am feeling. is strange. I think there's a whole new lack of loyalty and permissiveness about our generation that I think detached us, so it is interesting suddenly to have that place of connection, I guess.

UTLEY: Still, there is a limit to how much the personal experiences of the old can help the young.

MARVIN MAGALANER, RETIRED PROFESSOR: I think each generation has to do it on its own. It's going to be long war, says the president. And I think that this is very unfortunate for those young college students.

RAILTON: It's going to change the way we come out of college for those that are here right now, because instead of coming out with a really fresh outlook and seeing possibilities, we have a very negative view of what the future's going to be, and that sort of makes it hard.

UTLEY: The pictures, the candles, the memorial in Washington Square to September 11 are gone now. What remains are the individual lives of a generation facing its test of character, of resilience -- just as earlier generations did.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.


MCMANUS: Speaking of generations, my co-anchor, Shelley Walcott, has one of the next ones on the way. Shelley is leaving us for a little while because a baby is almost at her front door.

WALCOTT: That's right, Mike, that room back there is where I'm going to be spending most of my time for the next few months.

MCMANUS: So while -- on behalf of all of us at CNN NEWSROOM, we will miss you very much.

WALCOTT: I'll miss you guys, too.

MCMANUS: And we're looking forward to your return.

WALCOTT: Well thank you very much.

That wraps up today's show everyone. See you later.

MCMANUS: We'll see you tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.




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