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Special Event

Millennium 2000: NYC Cleanup Begins; No Major Y2K Computer Calamities Reported; Big Night for Big Names; Russia Stages Biggest Drama

Aired January 1, 2000 - 5:00 a.m. ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We wish all of you a happy new year. It is just over a minute to midnight in Hawaii, time to say aloha to the turn of the new millennium. Hawaii Standard Time is the last of more than 24 time zones to push out the 20th century and ring in the 21st.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Hawaiians have been cheering every other American midnight and now it's their turn to skip the calendar.

HARRIS: Aloha Tower, the Hawaiian Times Square, is the main venue for celebration in the 50th state.

MCEDWARDS: The millennium's race around the globe also nears the finish line in another Polynesian paradise, Tahiti. Colleen McEdwards and Leon Harris take over as CNN's coverage of Millennium 2000 sets sail for another hour right now.

HARRIS: You're now looking at live pictures of millennial celebrations underway in Hawaii. As millions have done before them, Hawaiians are now ringing in the year 2000.

MCEDWARDS: Hello and welcome from the CNN center in Atlanta. I'm Colleen McEdwards.

HARRIS: And I'm Leon Harris. We're just getting buckled up and sitting in here now and we thank you for joining us as we continue our coverage of millennium celebrations around the world.

MCEDWARDS: And we want to take you now to live shots of Hawaii, I believe, where celebrations are underway at the Aloha Tower Marketplace. There you see the fireworks going off there in a display in Honolulu's harbor. There have been hourly countdowns going on all night in Hawaii as other United States locations have rung in the new year.

HARRIS: And I should mention that there was a bit of controversy that went along with these Hawaiian celebration plans. It turns out that this is not the time of year in Hawaii where you want to be exploding fireworks. There's not that much rain and not that much wind so in Hawaii sometimes they say the smoke from these explosions in the air hovers around neighborhoods for weeks to come afterwards. MCEDWARDS: That's right, and that, I understand, is why fireworks are pretty tightly regulated on the islands. It's illegal to have them unless you're a professional who knows how to use them and the state is actually using this opportunity to do a bit of testing. It's going to see what the fallout is like in terms of smoke from these fireworks to see what regulations might be necessary in the future.

HARRIS: That's right. That's why the big emphasis this year around is going to be on lots of laser shows and laser displays and things of that nature.

MCEDWARDS: And one of those laser shows is going to be on Diamond Head. That's the rim of an extinct volcano, a very famous spot for those who are familiar with the area. And that will usher in the new year as Hawaii counts down the last 10 seconds.

HARRIS: That's right. Now these fireworks, probably because of the problem we mentioned moments ago with the air in Hawaii, are being launched, actually, from a barge out there somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. You can see where they're being launched at from out there. It's off the beach there. Actually, it's quite a beautiful shot. And I guess perhaps that's going to keep some of the smoke out of Honolulu and off the island of Oahu and somewhere out over the water.

MCEDWARDS: One of the downtown hotels is also hosting a Hawaii style welcome, what they describe as a Hawaii style welcome. There's lots of music and dance from Hawaiian performers.

HARRIS: Now, there is also going to be a kind of a change in some of the plans they had for these Hawaiian celebrations. The group In Sync is going to be performing at a major concert and while that's a big boon and I'm sure a lot of the youngsters, particularly the young ladies there will be happy to see 'NSync, Michael Jackson was the original, I guess, act that was going to be doing this show. It was going to be a big show and Michael Jackson was going to be performing both there and either it was New Zealand or ...

MCEDWARDS: It was in Australia.

HARRIS: Or Australia and so he could celebrate twice the new year. But apparently his plans changed and so In Sync gets the honor.

MCEDWARDS: He said he wanted to work on an album instead.

HARRIS: My daughter will be very happy to know that In Sync is going to be in Hawaii. Unfortunately, she will not be. Shell be here in Atlanta. All right. Let's take a look back now for a moment at some of the other celebrations that took place across the United States. The biggest and splashiest event was in the heart of New York City. An estimated two million people packed into Times Square to watch the crystal ball there drop and you see it there as it does come down. The crowds were monitored by some 8,000 police, we might add.

Fireworks lit up the sky over the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. President Bill Clinton led the festivities on the national mall. In a speech, he spoke of passing the torch to a new century of young Americans. And, not to be left out, the famous Las Vegas strip burned even brighter than usual as the clock struck midnight there. Among the entertainment there planned celebrity concerts by Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Bette Midler. The city's wedding chapels were also full of couples who were hoping to take their vows at the start of the new millennium. Good luck folks.

And Seattle put on a fireworks display around the city's signature landmark, the Space Needle. We've been seeing that in the news all this week. But fences kept the crowds from gathering near that monument. City officials blocked it off, fearing that it could be a potential target for terrorists.

The new millennium arrived in much of the world in spectacular fashion. Two and a half million people jammed central London to see a fireworks display over the River Thames. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower served as the launching pad for a celebration befitting the City of Light. You see it there. And at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II made his first ever midnight appearance on New Year's Eve. In less than an hour from now, he will deliver his new year's address and we do plan to have live coverage of that right here on CNN.

And in Jerusalem, the first day of the new millennium dawned peacefully. We'll have an extended look at how the world celebrated the beginning of the 21st century coming up later in the program.


MCEDWARDS: Thanks, Leon. In New York City, the post-millennium cleanup is getting underway and CNN's Richard Roth is at the epicenter of it all in Times Square. Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Colleen, here in Times Square there's a party still going on, though the crowd has thinned considerably from midnight. Right now there are dancers representative of the 50th state of the United States, Hawaii, to go along with the start of the millennium in the island as you just saw pictures live a few moments ago. The recorded music is traditional gourd drums and guitars and the dancers are entertaining several hundred, an intimate crowd here on the streets of Times Square.

In past years there were dancers of a different variety in this square and perhaps just as many people. But they've cleaned things up here in Times Square as we have seen. Now, about five hours ago at this moment in this very spot at the crossroads of the world an unbelievable, unprecedented moment as the new year, the new millennium began here before what authorities are now estimating is more than two million people packed into the square and for streets for miles in all directions.

The Times Square was filled with pounds of, thousands of pounds of confetti and dozens of explosions. Some of us were still sleeping at that hour or trying to sleep in the Manhattan area and through the various bedroom windows in the canyons of Manhattan one could see various explosions. Meanwhile, the dancing goes on here and there's also a cleanup that's now underway in the streets around the New York Times Square area. Once again, New York would like to get the square back to normal as best it can after the partying is over.

With me now is a gentleman, a major part of that operation. He's with the city sanitation department cleaning up the square as we continue to see the dancing going on here. Michael Carpinello, the first deputy commissioner. How much garbage is there going to be after this millennium bash?

MICHAEL CARPINELLO, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION: Well, I expect that there will be in excess of about 30 tons of garbage and paper as a result of a cleanup that we're going to do here tonight.

ROTH: What are your men doing right now? I mean there's dancing going on here. How can you clean up while that's happening?

CARPINELLO: Well, we're working around them and there's plenty of work on the side streets. So as soon as they're finished with their ceremony we'll move in a little closer and get the paper and litter that's around the stadium here.

ROTH: Now, how much tonnage, how much garbage do you have to clean up here when, after the year 2000 has finally begun?

CARPINELLO: Well, we expect there to be in excess of 30 tons of paper and garbage in this area.

ROTH: You know, in the last few years the amount of tonnage, I noted in my research, had dropped. Is that because of cold weather or what, was that a trend? Or were people becoming even cleaner in Times Square, if that's possible, in this new Disneyized square here?

CARPINELLO: Well, I think it's a result of the last two New Year's Eves, as I recall, were very cold and usually you have about a half a million people here. But this being the millennium it's estimated to be over two million people here, there's just a lot more people meaning a lot more garbage and paper.

ROTH: All right, but then after the dancing stops in about an hour, after all of the regions of the world have entered the new century, what happens? Then your people go into full force here, right?

CARPINELLO: That's correct. In total we'll have over 100 people here cleaning up the area and we expect to have this entire area cleaned by four o'clock Saturday afternoon.

ROTH: Where did you spend the new year? Here?

CARPINELLO: No, I spent it at the sanitation headquarters down at 125 Worth Street.

ROTH: I don't know, does that sound exciting enough? I don't know. But did the trucks toot their horns? What did they do there? CARPINELLO: Well, it's a pretty busy place. While this is the biggest event going on, there are events going on in the other boroughs that we're responsible for cleaning also.

ROTH: OK, Michael Carpinello, first deputy commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department. They have the job that many people don't like, after they host a party, cleaning up. And when you clean up after two million people there's going to be a lot of work to do. The dancing goes on here in Times Square, traditional hula dancers.

I'm Richard Roth, CNN, reporting live here in Times Square. Back to you, Colleen.

MCEDWARDS: Richard, speaking of the cleanup, there are also going to be some manhole covers to be unwelded and other things that were put in place because of concerns about security for the event. Were those concerns in evidence once the party got going or did security not become an issue at all?

ROTH: Oh, I mean everything went off pretty much without a hitch. I think security thoughts were not too far from people's minds here, even probably when the large explosions of the massive amount of fireworks that were unleashed were going off. But things went very peacefully and the manhole covers will eventually be unsealed.

Also, the garbage cans that Mr. Carpinello's sanitation department had sealed off so that people couldn't perhaps leave something there, they will go back into operation and I'm sure will be filled to the brim within hours here in New York City.

MCEDWARDS: Indeed. Thanks very much, Richard.

HARRIS: Well, it looks like another disaster averted last night was the Y2K bug predictions and coming up we'll get an update on the Y2K bug and if it did cause any problems anywhere in the world.

You're looking now at a live picture we've got coming from the U.S.' Y2K command center in Washington, D.C. Our coverage continues in just a moment. We leave you now with more pictures of the celebrations underway in Honolulu, Hawaii.


HARRIS: Well, it's 13 minutes after the hour now and so far we haven't heard of any major bites by the Y2K bug. But could things really have gone that smoothly? Well, let's find out.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is standing by. She's at the U.S.' Y2K command center in Washington, D.C. She's got an update for us now. Happy new year, Kathleen.


Well, along with all those beautiful fireworks around the world, a huge collective sigh of relief has gone up because over the 24 hour period that we have been keeping a very close watch here, there have been no Y2K computer calamities to report. The head of this information coordination center says he's very surprised by that but he warns it is still too early to say that the Y2K bug has been squashed.


JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON Y2K: I am an optimist. I'd like to sort of, with all of us, I'm sure you would, too, fold up our tents and say let's, this has been a great effort and let's go home. But I think we're, it's still too early for that. By the time we get to the end of the day Monday or Tuesday I think if things are running as smoothly then as they are now then I think we can say that there's been an amazing accomplishment. But I think we can't say that yet.


KOCH: The command center is looking ahead to Monday. That is the official, first official business day of the year 2000. That's when the stock markets open and that's when any still hidden Y2K computer glitches could potentially begin to materialize and they may not materialize right away. We might see, say, a very slow degradation of services.

So many people are wondering was the $8.5 billion that the federal government spent and the $100 billion that the private sector spent supposedly solving this Y2K problem, was all that money wasted? Now, the government Y2K watchers here say no. They say if that money hadn't been invested, if the problem hadn't been taken seriously then we might not be standing here with so little bad news to report.


HARRIS: Well, you mean there were no, not even little tiny glitches anywhere to report? I think I read somewhere on the wires this morning about the Federal Aviation Administration having some problems with printers. That's about all I've seen so far. How about you?

KOCH: Tiny, tiny glitches like that, Leon. We also heard an interesting item from the U.S. Naval Observatory. That's where they maintain the U.S.' master clock. And at the roll over time to the year 2000, at midnight, apparently their Web site listed the year as 19100 instead of 2000. Apparently there was a glitch in some scripting software and they say they fixed that shortly after 2:00 A.M.

There was also a very minor problem in Milwaukee with a power company they say that a network of precise clocks that are synchronized by satellite there where they use it to sort of control their transmission and generation schedules between their utilities, they had a problem with that. But they fixed that glitch very quickly and no one lost any power.

HARRIS: All right. Good. KOCH: It's been quiet.

HARRIS: Glad they fixed that clock, 19100 makes us all really, really old.

KOCH: I know. I don't like that.

HARRIS: Kathleen, all right, thank you. Have a good one. Thanks much.

KOCH: You too, Leon.

HARRIS: Colleen?

MCEDWARDS: Well, Japan says it survived Y2K unscathed though a few technical malfunctions briefly caused a bit of alarm.

CNN's Tokyo bureau chief Marina Kamimura reports.


MARITA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing upset the rich blending of the old and the new, marking Japan's entry into the new millennium. I think we worry too much about Y2K problems, says this man. We did all we could to prepare. But unnervingly, the first reports of problems in the Japanese new year came from the nuclear industry, still reeling from a serious accident in September at a uranium processing plant. This time, a few facilities, including two power plants, reported minor problems transmitting data. The prime minister assured the public shortly after midnight.

KEIZO OBUCHI, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: I am very happy to inform you that it appears so far there have been no serious problems posing any major threat to the people of Japan.

KAMIMURA: The statement stood hours later, even as the first dawn rose and more small problems came to light. A train ticketing glitch, for example, in a town north of the capital, but not big enough to disrupt any trains. And, as the Japanese continued with their regular new year's routines of visiting local shrines and temples, thoughts turned to familiar issues.

I only wish the economy recovers this year, says this woman.

(on camera): Even the government, though, says it's not lifting its guard yet. New year's is by no means a normal time for Japan, since business largely grinds to a halt for four days. Tokyo says its next test will be Tuesday when Japan sees whether life truly returns to normal.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.


HARRIS: All right, we take a break in just a couple minutes here but -- and moments ago we talked about the concert in Hawaii that didn't happen. But quite a few other concerts did go on as scheduled last night and we'll have a wrap up of some of those coming up in just a minute.

MCEDWARDS: And we want to show you some live pictures of Pope John Paul II coming up. Actually, we don't have those pictures right now but we will coming up later on in this program have a live report on the pope's new year's address. Stay with us for that.


MCEDWARDS: Well, across the time zones the sound of music rang out as musicians rang in the new year.

HARRIS: That's right. And CNN's Mark Scheerer takes a look now at how some of the big names in the music biz spent the big night.


BILLY JOEL: Happy new millennium.

We'll take a cup of kindness yet for auld ...

MARK SCHEERER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Billy Joel wouldn't be anywhere else but on stage on New Year's Eve and at New York's Madison Square Garden he chose "Auld Lang Syne" to herald the new year's arrival.

JOEL: It's kind of a tip of the hat to the past. It's a history and even though we're going into the future I think we have to acknowledge where we came from.

SCHEERER: At the mall in Washington, Trisha Yearwood and Brian McKnight kicked up their boots along with many other stars. In Miami, one way or another, Blondie was determined to rock South Beach.

DEBORAH HARRY, BLONDIE: I think it's just symbolic, you know, of years of being unemployed, I guess. I feel like I've got to work New Year's Eve because it means that the rest of the year I'll have jobs, you know, sort of some kind of personal superstition that I've invented.

SCHEERER: And hometown favorite Gloria Estefan put her tropical touch on the big evening. Betted Midler made Las Vegas a divine destination for her fans and she told Laurin Sydney what this millennial event could mean.

BETTE MIDLER: And I think a lot of people are taking it quite seriously in a spiritual way because it's a chance for people to assess what they have done, what they have become and what they can do and I think in my own demented little way I believe that that's what's going to happen.

SCHEERER: People, people who need Barbra Streisand got a rare concert appearance from her at the MGM Grand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARBRA STREISAND: Misty water color memories ...


SCHEERER: In California, Jimmy Buffet turned the Universal Amphitheater into an island paradise for parrot heads, his faithful followers.

JIMMY BUFFET: I think that people need to get in touch with their sense of humor and their ability to have fun because in the world as it progresses, excuse me, it seems to get more serious. A sense of humor to me seems more vital in the next millennium than it has been in the last.

SCHEERER: Chicago came to Pasadena and big bad Voodoo Daddy took their fans back to swing time. And it was welcome to the hotel California at the Staple Center in Los Angeles as The Eagles brought the celebration full circle.

Mark Scheerer, CNN Entertainment News, New York.


HARRIS: Of course we missed all of those because we were sleeping.

MCEDWARDS: Yeah, music to remember from what we can call the previous century, I guess.

HARRIS: Yeah, there you go. Putting it kindly. Of course we'll have much more of our continuous coverage of the millennium and its changeover just ahead. Don't go away.


HARRIS: Welcome back to CNN's coverage of the year 2000 celebrations around the globe.

MCEDWARDS: And we're going to take a closer look now at some of the other stories making headlines.

Y2K, two words, no problem. If you're just getting up or getting home, rest assured the world is still in one piece. And the much feared Y2K computer bug failed to bite with everything running more or less as smoothly as it did back in 1999, so far at least.

And despite earlier fears no major acts of terrorism have been reported here in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

HARRIS: Afghanistanis, actually, Russians woke up Saturday to a new century and a new president. Vladimir Putin, who took over as acting president after Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation Friday, skipped a fancy ball in Moscow to visit Russian troops on the front lines in Chechnya. And CNN's Alessio Vinci has more now on the dramatic turn of events in Russia.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In sharp contrast to Boris Yeltsin's poignant farewell address to the Russian nation announcing his resignation, the new acting president, Vladimir Putin, passed up new year's celebrations in Moscow, heading instead to the breakaway republic of Chechnya. Awarding troops with hunting knives, he told soldiers fighting separatist militants that their task was to keep the Russian Federation together.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, ACTING RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: We're not talking about restoring the country's dignity. No, this is about something much more serious. It's about putting an end to Russia falling apart.

VINCI: In an unusual move, the unexpected trip was broadcast live on Russian television, a sign the new commander-in-chief wasted no time to start his campaign to become Russia's permanent president.

UNIDENTIFIED EXPERT: I think that right now for Putin the election campaign will be the most important thing. If and when he is elected as president of the Russian Federation and once he has the public mandate, then we will see some changes. And definitely he will have to distance himself from Yeltsin.

VINCI: But only hours after becoming acting president, Putin signed a decree giving Boris Yeltsin immunity from legal prosecution, a clear sign that Russia's new leader will not allow any witch hunt that could destabilize the country. After years of economic hardship and failed promises of a better life, Vladimir Putin will have to restore some confidence in the Russian people.

(on camera): Hoping for a better future, Russians came to Red Square to celebrate the new millennium and the most significant political change in almost a decade.

(voice-over): Some already assume life in Russia with Putin as president will be better.

UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN: I think we'll get paid and we'll have work. We'll have a good army. Education will improve. Things will get just great.

VINCI: For these Russians in their first day of the new millennium things appeared, indeed, just great.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Moscow.


MCEDWARDS: To Rome now, where Pope John Paul II is preparing to give his new year's address and joining us now with a preview is CNN's Brent Sadler.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Colleen. After a very late night, Pope John Paul II has been appearing to lead mass at one of Rome's major churches, which concluded just a short time ago. Usually on January the 1st, the pope has in the past used St. Peter's Basilica for the New Year's Day mass, but today he switched to not only lead the mass at St. Nary Major Church (ph) in the center of ancient Rome but also to open another of the giant holy doors, which are a significant part of this special 2000 holy year.

At Santa Maria Majori Nary Major Basilica the pope opened a third of the four holy doors after those at St. Peter's on Christmas Eve and the Latheren Basilica (ph) on Christmas Day. The holy doors of Rome's four basilicas are only opened during rare holy year celebrations. He'll push the fourth at San Paolo Fuli Lamorda (ph) on January the 18th.

Now, the pope who led masses, as I say, concluded a short time ago and he will be making an address to Rome and the world later on before the Rome marathon, which will have tens of thousands of participants kicks off in the center of Rome.

People have been looking at the appearance of the pope, who just a few days ago came out through St. Peter's Basilica being wheeled through the giant arena on a chariot pushed by two Vatican ushers. Today, at the New Year's Day mass the pope left just within the past 20 minutes walking through the basilica with the help of aides and waving and smiling, preparing for his next event, which will be the address and then kicking off the Rome marathon.


MCEDWARDS: All right, CNN's Brent Sadler in Rome.

HARRIS: No doubt any words of peace coming from the pope today will fall on deaf ears in the land of Chechnya. The new year was ushered in there in a rather violent fashion.

CNN's Steve Harrigan is reporting now live from Grozny on the action there. Steve, what can you tell us?

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, the smoke is still coming up from the city of Grozny. We've seen non-stop pounding from Russian artillery for more than a week now. The big guns are going off from right behind us here on the western edge of the city. The nature of this war has changed in the past week, with Russian forces moving inside the city. They're no longer relying on long distance artillery. Instead now it's close building to building fighting and that means higher casualties on the Russian side.

Now we've already seen some evidence of that at the base where I'm at. Within the first hour here I saw six bodies laid out on stretchers covered with something like aluminum foil, their feet sticking out at the end of the stretcher. I was told they were Interior Ministry troops.

Now at this point, the Interior Ministry forces are doing the bulk of the close fighting inside the city. The Russian army is staying back, giving artillery support. But after weeks of steady advances and low casualties, now it looks like the Russians are beginning to pay a price. We've seen a steady stream of wounded here throughout the day. Doctors in the field hospital here in western Chechnya say they are treating 40 to 60 wounded a day depending on the fighting and with just two surgeons here that means a great deal of work to get done.


HARRIS: All right, Steve Harrigan reporting live this morning from Grozny, Chechnya.

MCEDWARDS: And stay with us. We're not quite done with the last century yet.

HARRIS: That's right. You couldn't possibly go to all the New Year's Eve parties yourself but we did, sort of, and we will bring you the highlights, coming up.


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