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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 19, 2000

Aired January 19, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome to NEWSROOM for Wednesday, everybody. It is January 19. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Our trek around the world begins in the United States.

HAYNES: We're seeing green in "Today's News." But just who's benefiting from the economic boom in the U.S.?


LUCILLE TAYLOR: I'm going to try to find a steady job that's going to pay the rent and the bills.


BAKHTIAR: Safety in the sky. In today's "Health Desk," flight attendants in the U.S. demand more protection in the workplace.


ELLIE LARSON, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: We are injured by lifting bins full of sodas into compartments way over our heads or we hurt our backs by pushing and pulling a cart that weighs over 200 pounds.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," meet the man in charge of keeping the U.S. connected.


BILL CUNARD, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Well, I think that if I'm not concentrating on making sure that all Americans have access to technology, I'm not doing my job.


BAKHTIAR: Then in "Chronicle," risking your life to save the lives of others. For lifeguards, it's just another day at the office.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If a surfer can't get out from under the pounding walls of water, that's when hopefully someone like Shawn Alladio rides to the rescue.


HAYNES: We start today's show with a familiar refrain. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In the United States in 2000, it appears you're either shouting from the rooftops or singing the blues. According to a report from two policy groups, America has two anthems, and the musical divide is growing.

The closing bell just yesterday on Wall Street was but one note in a booming U.S. stock market. Two think tanks which push for policies which benefit low- to middle-income families say the gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is largely in light of Wall Street's long-running bull market, which benefits wealthy investors.

According to the report, that's just one factor in the wage gap. Along with a booming stock market and the boom in lower paying service jobs, which have replaced manufacturing jobs.

We have two reports on the growing wage gap. We'll look at what it means on a human scale coming up. First, here's Don Knapp with a look at the report.


DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rich are richer, according to a new study of U.S. Census data over the past two decades. The average income of the top 20 percent of families is $137,500, while the poorest 20 percent earn about $13,000 a year. Since 1978, adjusting for inflation, rich folks gained $34,000 in annual income on average, while poor families lost $900. That means the richest 20 percent is now more than 10 times richer than the poorest 20 percent.

ELIZABETH MCNICHOL, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: The growth in wage disparity is partly because of the decline in manufacturing jobs as these jobs go overseas. The decline in the value of the minimum wage has been a factor, and the booming stock market, has mainly benefited people at the top end of the income scale.

KNAPP: Meanwhile, those in the middle struggled to stay there. A researcher using the same Census data to look at California's economy found those in the middle actually losing ground.

DEBORAH REED, PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA: In the '70s and the '60s we were talking about more one-earner families. Now we're talking about two-earner families having the same income level that one-earner families used to have.

KNAPP: Which, she says, amounts to fewer real dollars, since much of the second income goes for things like child care and help at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're wife worked in the '70s, it was like extra money, you could take that nice vacation, you pay off the mortgage earlier. Now you just need it to survive.

KNAPP: The director of the study says it might be time for government to intervene.

MCNICHOL: One of the things that this prosperity has brought is that states are in the best fiscal shape that they've been in in decades, so they have an opportunity and the resources to address this widening income gap.

KNAPP (on camera): The study urges federal and state governments to avoid tax cuts that benefit the rich, increase minimum wages and come up with some tax credits for the very poor.

Don Knapp, CNN, San Francisco.



ARAM ROSTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 38, Lucille Taylor makes $7.60 an hour working in the back room of a thrift store in Marietta, Georgia. The paycheck is $526 every two weeks, about $15,000 a year.

LUCILLE TAYLOR: It's really not enough to live off of.

ROSTON: She does not have a car to get to work, and public transportation is not adequate, so she takes a taxi -- round trip: $20.

As many of America's wealthy get wealthier from the stock market, Lucille sits on the sidelines, her only contact with the Dow and Nasdaq is on the television news.

TAYLOR: The stock market is where you put money or something into stock and invest it.

ROSTON (on camera): Do you hear about the stock market? Do you hear about people getting rich?

TAYLOR: Yes, but I don't have that money to get into the stock market. If I was able to put some money to the side and get into the stock market, I would, but I'm just not able.

ROSTON: Lucille lives in low-income housing where the lawns are dirt. Inside, the walls are painted cinder block and the appliances are aging. She says, it's no news to her that the gap between the poor and the wealthy is growing.

TAYLOR: It don't make me angry; it just make me frustrated. When are the poor going to get a break? When are we going to get a break? ROSTON: Ms. Taylor has a 12-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter named Shana (ph), who loves attention.

TAYLOR: Money don't make you happy, but it help you to show your appreciation and show your kids happiness.

ROSTON: As a federal survey suggested, education, or the lack of it, has a big impact on earning power. Those without high school diplomas are seeing their wealth drop. Lucille Taylor only got to the eleventh grade.

Aram Roston, CNN, Marietta, Georgia.


HAYNES: Now, one of the reasons listed in the report for the growing wage gap is a stagnant minimum wage. Check your NEWSROOM program and classroom guide for January 12 for a story on what some cities are doing to make the minimum wage stretch a little farther for families in need.

BAKHTIAR: We are just under two weeks away from the U.S. presidential primaries and the Iowa Caucus is even closer. As those primaries and caucuses draw ever so near, many voters remain undecided. And they are the prime targets of the presidential hopefuls.

John King focuses on some of those voters.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tim Garten isn't terribly impressed with the candidates leading Iowa's menu.

TIM GARTEN, STUDENT/COOK: George W., he kind of seems a little too political, too political family for me. And Gore, he just -- I don't know. I'd rather listen to Styrofoam, I guess.

KING: The sometime student-sometime cook says Bill Bradley has the best ingredient of the bunch but still isn't sure he'll vote in Monday's caucuses. It's a choice many Iowans have yet to make, a topic debated around many a table at the North End Diner these days. Two friends and Bradley supporters have lobbied attorney Emily Rooney for weeks now, but she's still undecided: a fan of the vice president's but worried so-called "Clinton fatigue" would hurt him come November.

EMILY ROONEY, ATTORNEY: I'd be more likely to be for Gore were it not for Monica.

KING (on camera): Is that fair to him?

ROONEY: Probably not.

KING: But winning is everything?

ROONEY: Winning is very important.

KING: Most Iowans say the economy is good. Some worry about the farm crisis; others, Social Security. But no single issue dominates the coffee talk, and some say it's not worth all the fuss.

JEAN LONGO, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: I really believe that most of them tell you what they think you want to hear, and when they make all of these promises, very seldom can they really carry them out.

KING (on camera): The candidates will have spend a combined 374 days campaigning here by the time Monday's caucuses roll around, not to mention the millions spent on TV ads and campaign mailings. So it might seem a little odd that so many Iowans have yet to make their choice.

(voice-over): But waiting is part of Iowa's cherished tradition. In 1996, CNN exit polls, more than 40 percent of Republican caucus voters said they made their decision in the final week. Minister Jeff Hill is in that group this year.

REV. JEFF HILL: I plan to get on the Internet and go to their Web sites. I've heard that most of the candidates or all the candidates have Web sites.

KING: Retired schoolteacher Donna Sue Henkel is aiming to choose on caucus night, split for now between Republican Steve Forbes and George W. Bush.

DONNA SUE HENKEL, RETIRED TEACHER: I don't know the tax structures very well, so I'm hoping some real good accountants or people with money can share and help at my caucus.

KING: Her choice will help shape a Republican race that had 10 candidates five months ago, just six now: some of them struggling to survive Iowa's cut.

John King, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.


BAKHTIAR: Next week, catch NEWSROOM for all the post-game analysis from Iowa. We'll also explain the difference between a caucus and a primary and talk about why the Iowa Caucus is such a big deal. That's next Tuesday, January 25, part of our coverage of the 2000 presidential election right here on NEWSROOM.

While any activity involves risk, the workplace is a source of injury for many employees. Take the United States, for example. The U.S. Department of Labor says there were almost six million workplace- related illnesses or injuries in 1998. That's 6.7 cases for every 100 full-time workers. The numbers go up in the airline industry. It's among the most hazardous, with 14-and-a-half cases of illnesses or injuries per 100 full time workers. That's why flight attendants are going after something a lot of businesses might complain about: more government regulation.

Bob Beard has our "Business Desk" report.


BOB BEARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 100,000 flight attendants in the U.S., the office is the inside of an airplane, a workplace, their union warns, filled with health and safety risks.

ELLIE LARSON, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: We are injured by lifting bins full of sodas into compartments way over heads or we hurt our backs by pushing and pulling a cart that weighs over 200 pounds.

BEARD: A recent report estimates 4,500 flight attendant injuries just from carry-on bags, one every two hours. Attendants are also exposed to harmful cabin air, their union claims, from de-icing fluid and cleaning products.

At a Washington hearing, the flight attendants' union demanded the same protection 90 million other U.S. workers get from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA.

PATRICIA FRIEND, ASSN. OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: What's at stake is some government agency to take the responsibility for providing a safe and healthy workplace for flight attendants.

BEARD: Today, it's up to the Federal Aviation Administration to regulate workplace conditions inside the cabin and for maintenance and ground workers who come in contact with an aircraft. Flight attendants call the agency ill-prepared.

FRIEND: They have no funding, they have no budget, they have no resources by their own admission .

BEARD: The FAA promises to study the union demands but seems reluctant to let OSHA step in because it says the operating environment of an aircraft is so unique.

PEGGY GILLIGAN, FAA: FAA must take the lead on understanding and addressing occupational safety and health risks.

BEARD: The risks to the airline industry from OSHA regulation: a potential financial hit. It could require design changes. Airlines are happy with the status quo.

DON COLLIER, AIR TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION: We believe that effective standards are already in place and are enforceable through company manuals.

BEARD (on camera): Flight attendants have wanted better health and safety rules for 25 years. If the FAA won't act, they'll take their campaign to the White House and Congress.

Bob Beard for CNN Financial News, Washington.


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

HAYNES: Hey, in "Worldview," we take you to Japan where some celebrity wannabees are strutting their stuff -- in school, actually. The keyword here is "creativity." We'll meet some young singers and dancers aiming for fame. And we'll meet some stars of the Internet because high-tech is where it's at. But even in techno-savvy countries like the U.S., not everybody's logged on and linked up. We'll find out who's helping and why.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: As the new millennium picks up speed, computers will play a bigger and bigger role. Mention personal computers and the Internet and the names most likely to come to mind are Bill Gates, of course, Steve Jobs of Apple, maybe's Jeff Bezos, "Time" magazine's Person of the Year for 1999. There's another name, not so recognizable, that all these people know very well. It's Bill Cunard. As chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, he has a lot to say about how they do business, and what that means for the average American.

It's a job that takes him just about everywhere, as Sharon Collins explains in this report.


SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gila River Indian Reservation, a place that seems out of touch with the high-tech world surrounding it. Here, wild horses still roam under miles of Arizona sky.

But despite the tranquility, Bill Cunard says places like this are at risk.

BILL CUNARD, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: There's a real danger in this country that some Americans have all this wondrous technology and it makes them smarter and more competitive in the workplace, and others are left behind. You know, we can't afford to have in this country a digital dark ages where some people are just cut off from all this technology.

COLLINS: Here on this reservation, there are still people who don't even have a telephone. And Cunard fears things like the Internet could widen the gap between the haves...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each time you want to use your Internet tools...

COLLINS: ... and the have-nots.

CUNARD: Forget about the Internet, forget about a lot of the wonders of wireless technology we're talking about, they're waiting for a phone.

COLLINS: But it's not just here: The problem of technology access is nationwide.

CUNARD: Is that for the T-1? COLLINS: And Cunard has championed the cause of bringing the information age to America's disadvantaged.

CUNARD: Hi, I'm Bill Cunard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a typical classroom setup right behind these gentlemen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And here is a Web site that goes into depth about dinosaurs.

CUNARD: Yes, I haven't done this in 35 years.

COLLINS: On the day we visited Vine Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, they were just hooking up to the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: And now I would like to introduce a very important person.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: This person has made sure that our school is connected to the Internet.

CUNARD: Thank you.

COLLINS: It was Bill Cunard who lobbied for this education program. To pay for it, the FCC takes profits from long-distance companies to subsidize low-income schools. That's how Vine Street Elementary pays the Internet bill.

CUNARD: By the year 2000, 60 percent of the jobs in America will require facility with computers. And we're not just talking about jobs as lawyers and doctors and investment bankers -- all jobs. You go to a loading dock today, you work in retailing today, you have to have facility with a computer.

COLLINS: His push for equality goes beyond education. For example, he proposed free television time for political candidates, his version of campaign finance reform. But Congress roared, and he backed off. Critics say he overestimated his power. Cunard says he's within his rights.

(on camera): Some people feel you have overstepped your authority by concentrating on, basically, social issues.

CUNARD: Well, I think that if I'm not concentrating on making sure that all Americans have access to technology, I'm not doing my job.

COLLINS (voice-over): But perhaps more importantly to the business world, Cunard oversees the entire communications industry -- an industry that's grown so fast, it now represents about one-sixth of our economy.

SCOTT CLELAND, INVESTMENT ANALYST: He, essentially, is the chief referee of multibillion-dollar industries that are coming for favors on special rules. CUNARD: All those in favor of the item signify by saying, aye.

GENE KIMMELMAN, CONSUMERS UNION: The job of the chairman of the FCC is one of the most important jobs in our society today.

CUNARD: I believe that under section 254 of the act, this is mandated by the law.

ROY NEEL, UNITED STATES TELEPHONE ASSOCIATION: Well, Bill Cunard has a great deal of power because he controls the staff, the permanent staff, of the FCC. And the FCC has this broad industry, this information industry, by the neck.

CUNARD: The ayes have it. So ordered.

COLLINS: How does that affect you? Well, consider, he's the watchdog of the Internet. Thus far, he doesn't want to see it regulated.

CUNARD: It's been an unregulated environment, and there's been open competition. Consumers have benefited immensely.


COLLINS: He's the guardian of radio and TV, and he's pushed the wireless world to expand.

CUNARD: Just think of what's happened in wireless phones in the last few years. Seventy million Americans are using wireless phones.

COLLINS: He can either kill a business deal or approve a history-changing merger.

NEEL: Every time the FCC sneezes, it is an issue of billions of dollars for U.S. companies and U.S. consumers.

COLLINS: It's a tough job, because many of the industry battles being fought today may be obsolete tomorrow because of the Internet.

CLELAND: The difficulty that Chairman Cunard has is he is trying to implement a pre-Internet law in a post-Internet era. And it's very difficult because the Congress couldn't and didn't anticipate the Internet. But, as we all know, the Internet is changing everything.

COLLINS: Bill Cunard is the first African American to hold this position. He doesn't shy from racial issues, as we saw on the night he accepted an award from the Association of Minorities in Communications.

CUNARD: You remember those days in the '60s, early '70s, when we didn't have a presence on the airwaves. And I can remember vividly in my household when there would be a black face on television, it was an event in my household. Really, you remember this. My mother remembers this.

People would literally run out of bedrooms and, you know, to the living room, and say, there -- I saw -- you know what I saw on television? I saw a black face.

COLLINS: His family gathered that night.

CUNARD: This is not really my family. I rented these people. They're Hollywood extras.

COLLINS: They call him Billy, not Chairman, and they're thrilled with his success. He grew up in Hollywood in a house that was literally under the sign. Amid the photos...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that looks like a teenager, you know, when they wore the Afros.

COLLINS: ... and the letters to Santa Claus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May I have a Crusader 101 if I have been good? I've tried.

COLLINS: There were also signs of a future in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was president of his senior class.

COLLINS: He is a graduate of Stanford with a law degree from Yale. And on his first resume, he wanted a job in news production.

(on camera): With specific goals in broadcast and news production. He wanted my job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess so. He started out that way, anyway.

COLLINS (voice-over): Instead, he's heading one of the most controversial agencies in Washington.

(on camera): When you're finished with this job, what you'd like for people to say about you?

CUNARD: It's -- I don't have a lot of time to think about it, but I would like people to say that I did a good job and I gave a voice to the voiceless, because I truly believe that if we don't make sure that this communications revolution works for everybody, for every American, it'll be a failed revolution, and we'll look back and regret it.


BAKHTIAR: From big business to show business, we head now to Japan. Japanese pop stars are carving a niche for themselves on the international music scene.

And it's no coincidence that many of the performers come from the country's southernmost district or prefecture of Okinawa, as Marina Kamimura explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Sony and Toyota, step aside: a new line of Japanese exports is preparing to invade the world's market, a generation of performers with the look and sound of the Okinawa Actor's School, home to some of Japan's biggest pop stars of the 1990s.

"I'd like to become a world star like Michael Jackson," says this 12-year-old.

He is the way they dance or the way they sing; nothing is imposed at this academy. Save for two-and-a-half-hours of basic training a week, the 450 students are mostly left to learn on their own. The bane of Japan's educational traditionalists, it's a hallmark philosophy of founder Masyuki Makino.

MASYUKI MAKINO, OKINAWA ACTOR'S SCHOOL (through translator): We don't teach how to dance or how to sing. Our children are encouraged to create by themselves.

KAMIMURA (on camera): Makino says the last thing he wants to do is to give his students a recipe for success. He says he just wants to give them a place to express themselves, a chance to discover their own talents.

(voice-over): So much so that he encourages his top pupils to skip formal education altogether. Makino counters the critics by saying that unless kids are given more freedom here, they'll never break into the big leagues of the entertainment world.

"Normal schools force us to do things even if we don't want to," says this student. "At the actor's school, we, instead, have a responsibility to come up with our own ideas."

Children audition nationwide for spots in the school, but Makino says most of those chosen are inevitably Okinawan. He credits the island's long history of being a cultural melting pot.

MAKINO (through translator): Okinawans have mixed blood. In many ways, I think that mixing blood increases possibilities.

KAMIMURA: So watch out. If Makino has his way, that means Japan's exports of tomorrow will have a decidedly different appeal than the ones we know today.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Naha, Japan.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

BAKHTIAR: Over the past century, the number of working women in the world has grown steadily. In the United States alone, it went from 5.3 million in 1900 to 63 million in 1997. Now, 99 out of every 100 American women will work for pay at some point in their lives, and they're taking charge in everything from medicine to politics to saving lives.

Rusty Dornin on one such extraordinary woman.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the surf is 30 to 40 feet, a wipe-out can be deadly. If a surfer can't get out from under the pounding walls of water, that's when hopefully someone like Shawn Alladio rides to the rescue.

SHAWN ALLADIO, RESCUER: Good; come straight in, turn your handlebars.

DORNIN: Alladio teaches lifeguards and other water safety experts to haul surfers out of big troubled waters.

ALLADIO: And sometimes they get held down for two waves, so you can't sight them; it's very difficult to find where they're at. So, basically, very tense situation, very dynamic situation with a lot of risk.

DORNIN: Off the coast of Mexico last year, Alladio helped rescue downed surfers during the big wave contest.

ALLADIO: We had 24 rescues in waves approximately 50 feet in height on the face, and a very dynamic situation because we're on an island that's 12 miles offshore.

DORNIN: Few have expertise in this kind of rescue. Even fewer women.

ALLADIO: And I think the difference with myself is that I haven't limited myself. I've always asked why. I've always wanted to know, you know, why, how come? If someone said, you can't do that, that always meant, yes, I can do that. I just need to figure out how to get there.

CHRIS CHANG, STUDENT: From her looks, she's a tough woman, there. But she's very forgiving, very nice, makes you want to learn.

DORNIN: Alladio also teaches river and lake rescues. But the big wave surfers want to know that when they're out there riding, those who come to the rescue have been in those waters before.

JEFF CLARK, BIG WAVE RIDER: When it comes to big wave surf rescues, only time in the water is really going to perfect that skill.

DORNIN: Alladio teaches at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California, a place also known for monster waves, a place Alladio says you never want to get overly confident.

ALLADIO: But out in Mavericks, it's just a -- it's a pleasure to be out there; it's an honor, and it's magnificent, very powerful force. But you must respect that force.

DORNIN: Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.


HAYNES: All right, gang, that does it for us. Thanks for watching. We'll see you tomorrow.



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