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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 7, 2000

Aired January 7, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is NEWSROOM. I'm Andy Jordan.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. Glad you're with us this Friday. Here's what's ahead.

JORDAN: In today's top story, raising the bar in the race for the White House. Why this year's presidential debates are for front- runners only.


PAUL KIRK, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: The candidate, regardless of party, regardless of affiliation, have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the prospective voters in the general election.


WALCOTT: In today's "Editor's Desk," college copycats beware! Why a new Internet program won't let plagiarists prosper in cyberspace.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's justified, I mean, academically plagiarism is wrong.


JORDAN: From virtual world injustice to real world racism, a look at anti-gypsy sentiment in Europe.


RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind the wall lived gypsies, or romanies, members of Central Europe's perpetual underclass.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: Next stop India, where students sailing the world on the "Millennium Voyage" get up close and personal with the people known as "the untouchables."

In today's top story: And they're off! The U.S. presidential race is in full swing. The candidates are rounding the bend in New Hampshire. That's where the first primary of the 2000 presidential campaign will take place February 1.

The two contenders for the Democratic Party's nomination squared off Wednesday at the University of New Hampshire. It was their fourth debate. They'll face off again in Iowa Saturday.

Six Republican presidential candidates were in New Hampshire as well yesterday for the first of four debates over the next 10 days. They too are headed for Iowa next week. That's where the first caucus of the campaign will happen this month.

But who decides who debates? Jeanne Meserve takes a look.


PAUL KIRK, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: The candidate, regardless of party, regardless of affiliation, have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the prospective voters in the general election.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that, the Commission on Presidential Debates settled one of the most controversial issues of campaign 2000: How a candidate gets a seat in the all-important fall debates.

One week before the first debate, the commission will take an average of five polls: CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup, NBC/"Wall Street Journal," CBS/"New York Times," ABC News/"Washington Post," and Fox News/"Opinion Dynamics." Anyone with 15 percent or more gets into the October 3 debate, as well as the vice presidential debate two days later. Everyone else is cut out. The commission will repeat the exercise for the last two debates.

It's a major change from 1996, when a far more complex formula was used to exclude Ross Perot. Perot sued the commission and lost. But the criticism stung, and this time the commission decided to keep it simple.

FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: So there's no question of anyone being able to hide the ball, change the results. The results are out there. They're very transparent.

MESERVE: Meeting that 15 percent standard could be critical to this year's Reform Party nominee. The last time a third-party candidate got into the debates was 1992.


ROSS PEROT (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you are going to hear a giant sucking sound of jobs being pulled out of this country.


MESERVE: Perot took 19 percent in that election, but four years later, after he was excluded, Perot got just nine percent.

Whether Perot's poor showing was a result of his exclusion is an open question, but there are certainly examples of long-shot candidates boosting their polls with a good debate performance.


JESSE VENTURA (REF), MINNESOTA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: What is matter with industrial hemp? There's a product that will create new jobs.


MESERVE: In the 1998 Minnesota governor's race, Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura was going nowhere until he was allowed into the debates. And the rest is history.

Pat Buchanan is a skilled debater. Here he is in a 1996 GOP primary debate.


PAT BUCHANAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My flat tax is a middle-class tax cut. Yours looks like one that was worked up by the boys at the yacht basin.


MESERVE: But he's got a long way to go to get into the 2000 presidential debates. In our latest hypothetical three-way match-ups with the leading Democratic and Republican candidates, Buchanan draws around five percent. His possible Reform Party rival Donald Trump draws 10 percent in a similar match-up.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: Well, today, a topic that has probably crossed your minds and maybe your conscience as well: plagiarism. Just what is it? And is it ever OK?

Well, if you look it up, you'll find the word plagiarism "comes from a Latin word meaning abductor. It means taking another's material and passing it off as one's own." It is normally an individual deed such as an author's "making use of someone else's published material and publishing it as his own."

That's from Compton's Encyclopedia Online, by the way. After all, we wouldn't want to plagiarize, and of course neither would you. The consequences of copying -- or using somebody else's words without attribution -- can mean a grade of F, suspension, or even expulsion. Think about that as you're writing your term papers or assignments. And besides, thanks to computers, it's easier than ever to get caught plagiarizing, as Rusty Dornin explains.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some students still do research and actually write their term papers the old- fashioned way. Others just lift a phony one off the Web and hand it in. But collegiate copycats beware, two U.C. Berkeley grad students have come up with a program that will compare a student's term paper with every other research paper on the Web.

JOHN BARRIE, PLAGIARISM: Essentially, we search the 800 million Web pages out on the Internet by interfacing with the top-20 search engines. We also compare that paper to our local data base of term papers.

DORNIN: Teachers who sign up can take their students' papers to the Web site. In 24 hours, originality or lack of it becomes colorfully clear.

BARRIE: We color code every sentence that was a word-for-word match with another sentence either contained on the Internet or within our database. The blue text was taken word-for-word from the blue source, and the green text word-for-word from the green source, and the black text was either not located by our technology or was original work done by the student.

DORNIN: David Presti told his neurobiology class he was going to use the program, and still quite a few plagiarizers plowed on.

DAVID PRESTI, NEUROBIOLOGY PROFESSOR: We ran all 320 of those papers through the protocol and found that 45 of them, or 15 percent of the students, had cut and pasted significant amounts of material from various World Wide Web sites without appropriate citation.

DORNIN: Program designers say even those falsely accused can gain redemption.

BARRIE: To show the instructors who have accused them of plagiarism that indeed they haven't gotten their material from the Internet or from some other source.

DORNIN: Competition is tough at universities like U.C. Berkeley, and for many students, such detective work levels the playing field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's justified, I mean, academically; plagiarism is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of public conscience, you might say, to deter them from copying.

DORNIN (on camera): The Internet may have initially allowed cheaters to prosper. But what the Internet giveth, it may now taketh away.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops and neither does the news.

WALCOTT: We head to an art gallery in "Worldview," where politics meets paint and East meets West. We'll meet an artist in China who is busy brushing up on history, as well as turning an eye to the future.

Our journey begins in the Czech Republic, where we trace the travels and travails of gypsies.

The fall of the "Iron Curtain" 10 years ago opened doors for some people. It closed doors for others. This year, Western Europe has seen a big illegal influx of gypsies from former East Bloc countries, fleeing from the prejudice that was once on ice under communism.

New non-communist governments are failing to deal with the problem. The Czech Republic has seen powerful anti-gypsy sentiment and occasional pogroms. A pogrom is slaughter or genocide. The violent attacks display a difficulty in dealing with diversity.

Richard Blystone retraces old fault lines across Europe, and a new wall of sorts in the Czech Republic.


RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we arrived on Maticni Street, they were building trouble in cast concrete.

"We don't care if it's a pretty wall, or a paper wall; it's meant to separate white and black, and we're against it," said Jozef Lacko.

White and black were his words. Behind the wall lived gypsies, or romanies, members of Central Europe's perpetual underclass. The local council leader said the block-long wall was to deaden the racket Czech neighbors were complaining of.

"It was going to be four meters high," he said, but they halved that after gypsies objected. The rest, he claimed, was a human rights publicity stunt.

Well, it got attention, especially over the border in Germany.

PETER HUMMEL, "WELT AM BILD" MAGAZINE: It's not a wall against noise or against the gypsies, it's a symbol.

BLYSTONE: Ten years after the Berlin Wall went down, the wall in Usti nad Labem was starting to touch nerves across Europe. The European Union's latest report card on would-be members warned the Czechs and others that racial discrimination is holding up their applications. And the Maticni Street wall wasn't helping their image. But the gypsies' image problem is rooted in the very language: The Czech terms for lying and dirty work come from the word for gypsy.

Starting, they say, in India, Romanies for centuries have wandered Europe, admired by romantics for their supposedly carefree life, by composers for their music, and viewed as unwashed, thieving parasites by the rest of society.

From Nazi concentration camps where hundreds of thousands died to Kosovo today where they're under attack by ethnic Albanians.

(on camera): From Bulgaria in the southeast to Ireland in the northwest, the irony is that the most pan-European ethnic group is not welcome in any of its countries.

(voice-over): Before communism, they practiced their trades and moved on. But in Czechoslovakia, the old regime grounded them. And Zdenek Sukeni told us "the communists just made things worse by papering over the racism."

No sign here of that romantic, roving life. Most of East and Central Europe's six million gypsies have forgotten it, we were told, and don't really want it any more, but haven't been accepted staying put.

So thousands have been seeking jobs and a better life in West European countries, which don't really want them either. "There's no racism here," says the Maticni Street pub owner. "There are a couple of clever gypsies who know how to sign their name; they're behind this. Look at their gold and cars, and we have nothing. They don't take care of their kids, and their kids steal. My grandson's got a gypsy friend. They play football together."

Under pressure, the town has now taken down the wall, but what it stood for won't go away so easily.

Richard Blystone, CNN, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Next stop, Shanghai. In China, it's a city of superlatives: The largest population, the tallest buildings, the most colorful history. Its pre-revolutionary extremes of wealth and poverty, its nightclubs, gangsters and political passions, are the stuff of legend. The communist victory in 1949 put an end to all that. But today, Shanghai has shaken off decades of socialist stagnation, seeking to recapture its position as the economic power house of China. But as it moves forward, it also embraces its past in some colorful artwork.

May Lee has our cultural canvas.


MAY LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His works are vibrant, bold, and sometimes a bit chaotic, but every stroke of artist Pu Jie's brush is deliberate. Pu Jie, whose artistic career spans two decades, often paints about a subject he knows very well: life in Shanghai. Born and raised in the city, Pu Jie's paintings reflect the urban environment, the clashes and fissions between the traditional and the modern, the East and the West.

PU JIE, ARTIST: I like my work to discover what happens, and now the challenge is realism of things. And if we did that like in 20 years ago, maybe you would get a lot of trouble. But now the time is free and people can do that and they can say what they want to say better. Yes, so I think it's changed. It's China developed.

LEE: Pu Jie's style of painting is that of cynical realism. Some of his works combine modern life with splashes from the past, particularly historical figures, icons, and events that shaped China.

JIE: We are living in a new time but we cannot forget the history, people to think about themselves, be sure to look back to history and sometimes we should that people not only forget what we wrong did.

LEE: Pu Jie's works and those of other up-and-coming Chinese artists are often exhibited here at the Shangart Gallery, the first and only contemporary art gallery in Shanghai. Lorenz Helbling opened Shangart four years ago. It was a gamble of sorts, since modern art was and still is fairly unknown.

LORENZ HELBLING, SHANGART GALLERY: Art is very new for many people, and for in the West, you grow up, you see a lot of modern art; you may like it or not, but you have seen it. But here, contemporary art is mostly very new.

LEE: It's that newness that Helbling says is an advantage for avant-garde artists. There are no precedents, no set guidelines, and that allows for a variety of artistic styles to flourish.

HELBLING: They know what's possible, they know about art, and they do a lot of interesting works. And I think now, therefore, also that there is the freedom to do -- to express themselves.

LEE: And for the burgeoning world of contemporary Chinese art, freedom of expression inspires and compels artists to bring their ideas and visions to life.

May Lee, CNN, Shanghai.


JORDAN: Well, last fall NEWSROOM's Charles Tsai set sale with a group of students for a semester at sea on what they call a "Millennium Voyage." They began their journey in Canada and have since ventured through Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Today, we join them on their latest endeavor in Chennai, India.

For years, Indian society has been divided along rigid class lines that rank people by birth. The class you're born into, known as the caste, can dictate where you live, what you do and who you can associate with. There are three thousand castes in India which are grouped into four classes. Each caste has its own customs that restrict the occupations and dietary habits of its members. There is even a group of people who fall below the lowest caste. They are called the "untouchables" because most Indians used to avoid physical contact with them.

Now, we join students Nick Buskirk (ph) and Mara Karlin (ph) on their visit to Chennai, India where they met the untouchables.


MARA KARLIN: When we arrived at the village of the "untouchables," I think the kids were intimidated by us a little.

I like your bracelet.

But really quickly, it became very comfortable...

NICK BUSKIRK: Alita (ph), my name is Nick. Nice to meet you.

KARLIN: They adorned us with these jasmine necklaces, and each family in the entire village welcomed us. And we walked down. We had become a parade, somehow, this group of 12, 13 of us.

BUSKIRK: I found myself in the middle of a circle, two kids on each hand chanting and screaming loud. It was just amazing feeling to really be moved by the music and really feel the excitement in the village for our visit with them.

KARLIN: I felt like I was in a "National Geographic" article.

BUSKIRK: Today, "untouchables" call themselves Dalits. And although it's outlawed by the government, discrimination is still prevalent within Indian society.

In many parts of India, the Dalits can't do such things as walk on the land of the upper castes or own their own land, and many still perform the menial jobs that they traditionally did, like cleaning toilets.

We finally got to the center of the village and we sat down and they performed for us. There was a young man who did a dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very, very special for us to be welcomed so grandly.

BUSKIRK: After they did their cultural show, they were very excited to see us perform something. So we didn't know what else to do but the Hokey Pokey, so we made ourselves look kind of silly out there.

Since it was getting late, they took us to where we were going to be sleeping that night, which ended up to be about a 10-foot by 10- foot concrete shack. We basically just had to try and sleep without concentrating too much on the centipedes and spiders and mosquitoes that were haunting us. What we saw was pretty much like every person there lived. They have families stuffed, five, six, seven people, sometimes more, in little ten-foot shacks like we had to face for one night, and it just made me realize how lucky I really am.

KARLIN: In the morning -- it was probably about 6:00 a.m. -- they gave us a tour of the village. There was a huge group of us and, again, we had like five kids on one hand, five on the other, and we walked through -- we saw the agriculture, the rice paddies. And they gave us a tour of the school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This school is from one to five. This other is from six to eight.

KARLIN: And they would group the grades together because they didn't have enough teachers or books.

BUSKIRK: We got to their well where they get their drinking water from. Kids just started pulling off their clothes, diving into the water, and it was just a great time.

KARLIN: They explained when we were walking through the farming areas how they were getting about 50 rupees a day, usually, for that work, which is about the equivalent of a dollar, and they explained how they wanted to build a community center, and a health center at some point, but they did not seem very optimistic about this happening.

BUSKIRK: So do you have hope that you will have a community center?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No chance.

BUSKIRK: No chance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No chance.

KARLIN: We were in an area of the village that was owned by an upper caste, and you did sense some resentment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's, behind us, a telephone tower that they've got, the road is better.

KARLIN: And they were showing us the temple, which was a lot nicer than theirs, and how they had satellites and TVs and -- I mean, the place was a lot cleaner and you could just tell that there was some uneasiness between them.

BUSKIRK: But in many ways, they weren't really as bad as the 200 million Dalits in India. Their conditions were not deplorable.

The day before our visit on the overnight in the Dalit village, we went to a Dalit slum where there's 40,000 Dalits living here. It's one of the worst in Chennai and it really was a huge difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no drainage, housing is very poor, you see the thatched huts, sometimes they catch fire and, you know, they spread. So, often the fire hazards are great here.

BUSKIRK: The houses were smaller, the streets were muddy, there was foul smells everywhere, and more of the jobs really had more to do with cleaning the waste up.

BUSKIRK: May we come into your home?

We went into a person's home, and she was a plumber, as she called it, which isn't the best job in India to have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They carry the coal ash from the railway yard and then they earn about 50 cents to one dollar a day.

KARLIN: There were small children holding babies in their arms, and the kids have to take care of their siblings while their parents are working at these menial jobs. And so we were asking the kids, you know, are you in school or do you want to get an education? And they said: Not really. My parents don't think it's important. And so these kids don't get an education and it just continues the entire cycle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can ask a couple of questions. He doesn't go to school, see? Our mother says there's no need for you to go to school.

Actually, the way many Indians interpret Hindu law is that you're in your caste because of what you've done in your previous lives. It's known as the law of Karma. And so the "untouchables" are where they are because of something bad that they did in a previous life, while the Brahmins, which is the priest class, and the highest one, they're where they are because they have done good things. And so it's thought of that you're supposed to live as a good person, and then in your next life you'll be reborn into a better caste.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The basic concept in Hinduism is inequality.

KARLIN: Many think this is an inherent problem with Hinduism, and so, oftentimes, Dalits will convert to Christianity. In fact, most of the Christians in India are Dalits and they see this as a way of getting out of this cycle.

BUSKIRK: They should come out of Hinduism and into Christianity or any other religion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Christianity or any other religion, yes.

BUSKIRK: Do you think that will help liberate their minds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they will liberate because I got liberation. I don't feel bad about I'm a Dalit.

BUSKIRK: So all of you want to marry within the same caste?


KARLIN: But in talking to upper caste people in Chennai, we really got a sense that the caste system is deeply ingrained in Indian society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will do all things necessary to protect our culture, or traditions, never let it fade out with the Western culture. Never.

But what is wrong that you enjoy your culture, we enjoy ours?

BUSKIRK: Because when you stick to your caste, it's always believing that your caste is better or another caste is not as good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That intention should not come up in the mind, that our caste is more superior than their caste. That intention -- he is following his caste, we are following our caste, that's all.

BUSKIRK: When we visited the rotary club, which is dominated by mostly people of upper classes, we talked to two students that belonged to the Brahmin caste. They basically gave us the interpretation that the caste system will forever be a part of India.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The caste system will be there, has been there, and will be there forever in India.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's only for a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. But more a sense of belonging. You belong to a part of a community and you are proud to belong to a part of the community. And it's not that certain communities are prestigious and certain communities are not prestigious.

KARLIN: I think we can both agree that our experience in the village was like nothing we had ever encountered before.

BUSKIRK: I want to say that I'm very happy playing with them. I think you are wonderful little kids, and I wish I could stay a long time and have running races all day. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for letting me play with you guys.

They really gave me something. They really inspired me to go back and really appreciate what I have. And I don't want to just stop there, I want to tell people about that in the United States. I want to come back here some day.

KARLIN: I hope that the kids that we were playing with and everyone that we met just doesn't lose their happiness, and that they continue to relish life as much as they do. I hope that they're not tainted by the fact that many of the upper caste see them as subhuman or lower than them, and really do understand their worth and value as a human.


WALCOTT: Looks like a very complex place to live.

JORDAN: Yes, puts things into perspective, definitely.

Well, be sure to join us for the next installment of the "Millennium Voyage." They just keep getting better. Charles Tsai and his crew will be heading to Turkey.

WALCOTT: And we're headed off on our weekend.

JORDAN: See you back here Monday.

WALCOTT: Have a good weekend. Bye-bye.


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