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CNN Today

What Else Happened During Election 2000?

Aired December 15, 2000 - 2:48 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, now that "Chad" is once again only a country in Africa and the election outcome is no longer dangling in the wind, we'd like to revisit some stories that got some short shrift, and if you've ever had your shrift shortened, you know how painful that can be.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: That's not very good. Here's CNN's Leon Harris.


LEON HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the U.S. counted and counted, and listened and listened -- to the lawyers -- the world moved on. The incumbent U.S. president, Bill Clinton, went on the road.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am honored to be the first American president to see Hanoi.

HARRIS: He became the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the end of the war that claimed more than 58,000 American lives and those of 1 1/2 million Vietnamese. Mr. Clinton got a hero's welcome.

CLINTON: And I hope this trip has helped the American people to see Vietnam in a new way and has encouraged the people of Vietnam to see America in a new way so that we will have a partnership of the future.

HARRIS: Trying to cement a legacy, Mr. Clinton this week flew to Ireland, pushing the two sides in Northern Ireland to continue their often-stumbling steps toward reconciliation.

CLINTON: I believe in the peace you are building. I believe there can be no turning back.

HARRIS: He left with an informal agreement between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom to do more to counter terrorists.

The next day, police stopped two men in Belfast with a car full of explosives.

Peace became even more elusive in the Middle East as violence between the Israelis and Palestinians escalated, and then escalated some more. This firefight at the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza went all night and well into the following morning after Israeli bulldozers moved to clear sand berms the Israeli army says were used as hiding places for snipers. The Palestinians say those berms provided protection from Israeli bullets.

When the shooting stopped, four Palestinians, all members of Yasser Arafat's police force, were dead and 33 other Palestinians were wounded, many of them civilians.

Since this Intifada began at the end of September, at least 38 Israelis have been killed, many of them in ambushes or drive-by shootings. At least 260 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in confrontations with Israeli security forces.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak's inability either to control that violence or reach a peace deal has angered many Israelis, leaving him vulnerable to political enemies.

EHUD BARAK, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): I have decided to seek anew the confidence of the people of Israel and to receive a renewed mandate.

HARRIS: In a surprise move, Mr. Barak quit to seek a fresh mandate in a February election. It'll be a tough race, especially if the Knesset passes an extraordinary law allowing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to run, even though he's no longer a member of parliament.

Amidst all the violence, peace campaigner Leah Rabin died of cancer and was laid to rest next to her husband, assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In Europe, the discovery of BSE, or mad cow disease, in Germany and BSE-contaminated meat on supermarket shelves in France created a food panic. The European Union called an emergency meeting, and in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease, imposed a Europe-wide ban on animal products in all livestock feed. The total number of mad cow cases seen this year: 135. That's up from 30 last year.

After being held eight months in a Russian jail, diagnosed with bone cancer, American businessman Edmond Pope was freed and allowed to fly home. A week before he had been found guilty of spying by attempting to steal Russian torpedo technology. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His wife begged for a humanitarian release.

CHERI POPE, WIFE OF EDMOND POPE: He's 54 years old and he's not in good health, and he will die if we leave him here.

HARRIS: In the end, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered him let go.

FBI agents are refusing to let go of their espionage case. In late November, the FBI began digging in a New Mexico landfill where they believe 17 computer tapes full of nuclear weapons secrets ended up after they were thrown away by Los Alamos labs physicist Wen Ho Lee. Crime lab experts are currently examining seven computer tapes found in the landfill, but they caution the tapes may be completely unrelated to the Lee investigation.

As the bomb-crippled USS Cole journeyed back to the U.S., carried on the back of a transport ship, U.S. investigators in Yemen reported a family connection between the bombing of that ship and the suicide bomber in the 1998 attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The connection is described by one U.S. official as another indication that Osama Bin Laden's group may have been behind the bombing.

The Marine Corps grounded all Osprey aircraft following another crash of the tilt-wing plane that is supposed to become the Corps' primary combat aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This program is very, very important to the Marine Corps, to me, and I think to the nation, and we're going to work very, very hard to see what caused this accident.

HARRIS: It was the second fatal crash this year, bringing to 30 the number of servicemen killed while flying in that plane.

Californians were told to unplug their Christmas lights, and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson ordered power suppliers to plug in and provide electricity to California utilities to avert threatened rolling blackouts. California has been in a perpetual state of emergency for three weeks now because the demand for electricity is dangerously close to exceeding the supply.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hard-working American people that are just barely making a living are going to have to choose between clothing and food and paying their heat bill this winter.

HARRIS: The power crunch has been blamed on a botched deregulation of California utilities, combined with cold weather and the shutdown of some generating plants for maintenance.

In space, a new power supply for the International Space Station. The solar panels make it the largest manmade structure ever in space and visible by the naked eye from Earth.

Finally, power hitter Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers for a record sports contract of one-quarter billion dollars over the next 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alex is the player we believe that will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion.

HARRIS: The amount doubles the previous record for a sports contract, and at $21 million a year, Rodriguez will make more than the Twins or the Marlins paid their entire teams last season.

And think about this, it would take President-Elect George W. Bush, a former owner of the Rangers, 625 years in office before his earnings would total those of Rodriguez.

Leon Harris, CNN.




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