NEWSROOM for February 15, 2000Aired February 15, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: It's Tuesday here on NEWSROOM. Glad you're on board with us. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We have a lot to tell you about today.
In our top story, a cyber-chat with the U.S. president. Mr. Clinton takes to the World Wide Web making history.
In "Health Desk," more than 17 million Americans suffer from it.
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DR. DIANE GOLD, IOM COMMITTEE MEMBER: The committee found that a number of common indoor substances were strongly associated both with the development and worsening of asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.
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BAKHTIAR: We head to China in "Worldview," where human rights issues still divide the world's most populous nation.
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PROF. DONG YUNHU, CHINESE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES (through translator): Of course some Western countries think that because some people were put in jail in China that the human rights situation has gotten worse. But do the problems of a few people reflect the overall situation? I don't think so.
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BAKHTIAR: Then, in "Chronicle," keeping tabs on the presidential candidates from the way it used to be until today.
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ERIC NEWTON, NEWS HISTORIAN: Money has always been a huge issue. Whether or not to use negative campaigning has always been a huge issue. How deeply do you get into the private lives of the candidates?
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BAKHTIAR: We report on a historic first in "Today's News," a first for the Internet, and the U.S. president. Bill Clinton, on Monday, became the first president of the United States to give an on- line interview to a news organization. The president's Q&A session was hosted by CNN's Wolf Blitzer and carried live on both CNN and CNN.com.
Web surfers from around the world were given the opportunity to visit CNN.com and ask the president questions. Wolf Blitzer now reflects on how the president handled the high-tech interview.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The CNN.com Web site was jammed with people from all over the world trying to get into that chat, into that auditorium to start asking questions of the president. As far as the questions were concerned, they came in from the e-mail into our Web site. And we had our people in Atlanta looking at the questions, and they were trying to get a sampling of some of the questions that were coming in reflective of a whole bunch of other questions. And that's how it came through.
I thought the president made some news when he said that he would support Republican legislation introduced in Congress in the House of Representatives that it would eliminate the caps on earnings for Social Security recipients after they reached the age of 65 to 70.
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WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're 65 today in America, your life expectancy is 83. And you want to be alert, you want to be physically strong. And we know as people stay more active, they're going to live better, not just longer. So I don't think we should penalize them.
Secondly, I think as the baby boomers retire, it's going to be important to have a higher percentage of people over 65, if they want to, working.
If they will send me a bill, what we call in Washington-speak, a "clean bill," that is not -- doesn't have a lot of other things unrelated to that littered to it, I will be happy to sign it.
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BLITZER: There were questions on personal issues, his legacy.
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CLINTON: But I think they will say, among other things, that we had a -- we came into office with a different approach that was attuned better to the changes that were going on in the economy, in the society and in the world and that we helped America get through this enormous period of change and transition.
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BLITZER: When he was running for office in '92, he loved doing the town hall meetings. He was so good at it, too. Just any questions, go ahead, ask whatever you want. And to a certain degree, this is an on-line town hall meeting. He acknowledges he's not Mr. high-tech, he doesn't really have the kind of expertise on the Web that he probably should have, but he wants to feel that he's catching up to the technology. And I think that came through during the course of this interview.
The president was really enthusiastic, said he would like to do a lot more of this, thought this was the wave of the future, thought his successor, whoever that successor might be, should probably plan on doing this at least once a week.
BAKHTIAR: Coming up later in our "Democracy in America" series, we'll talk about how technology has changed the face of campaigning for the U.S. presidency. That's later in "Chronicle."
After four years flying through our solar system, an un-manned spacecraft called NEAR has caught up with and is now orbiting an asteroid. The purpose of the voyage is to help us learn about the giant rocks, and perhaps, help scientists figure out how to protect us from a possible asteroid collision.
ROBERT FARQUHAR, NEAR MISSION DIRECTOR: OK, I think I can make a statement now that the NEAR spacecraft is in orbit around the asteroid Eros. This is the first time that any spacecraft has orbited a small body.
ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With applause and high-fives, the spacecraft NEAR made history.
FARQUEHAR: Another perfect day, what can I say?
KELLAN: NEAR, which stands for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, took four years to get to the asteroid. Now, instruments on NEAR will spend the next year studying the 20-mile long by 8-mile wide potato- shaped rock named after the god of love, Eros.
ANDREW CHENG, NEAR PROJECT SCIENTIST: Now we can make the first close-up, comprehensive study of an asteroid.
KELLAN: Soon after NEAR began orbiting the asteroid, scientists were showing before and after pictures. This taken before it entered Eros's orbit, and this.
JOSEPH VEVERKA, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: This is one of the first views of Eros taken after insertion into orbit. What is clear, of course, is that this is a very heavily cratered body -- that's obvious to anyone -- so we'll probably be dealing with a very old surface.
KELLAN: There was even an image showing a crater shaped like a heart.
CHENG: We don't know what it is, but it's there.
KELLAN: Scientists hope to learn what that asteroid is made of, not only to help understand the basic building blocks of the solar system, but to figure ways to protect the Earth.
CARL PILCHER, NASA: We have to understand asteroids in order to ever have any hope of being able to deflect an asteroid, should we ever find one on a collision course with Earth.
KELLAN (on camera): Over the next few days, scientists hope to gather enough data that by the end of the week they'll present the most detailed views ever of the surface of an asteroid. And they say those views will only get better as NEAR orbits closer and closer to Eros.
(voice-over): Ann Kellan, CNN, Laurel, Maryland.
BAKHTIAR: Now, you probably know somebody who has asthma, maybe a friend, or a sibling, or maybe you yourself. It's a problem that plagues people around the world, and it's an increasing health concern.
Take the United States, for example. Asthma affected an estimated 4.8 million youngsters under the age 18 in 1994. And doctors say the problem has been on the rise over several decades.
For more on asthma, check your NEWSROOM archives for March 30 and October 5. Now here's Dr. Steve Salvatore with a new report on indoor substances that can trigger the development and worsening of this widespread condition.
DR. STEVE SALVATORE, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 17 million Americans suffer from asthma, and this chronic condition is on the rise, according to health officials. Those most affected? Children in high-poverty urban areas.
For years, scientists have tried to identify different triggers for asthma. Now a new report from the Institute of Medicine says, many are right under our noses.
DR. DIANE GOLD, IOM COMMITTEE MEMBER: The committee found that a number of common indoor substances were strongly associated, both with the development and worsening of asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.
SALVATORE: There is strong evidence that dust mites can actually cause symptoms to develop in predisposed individuals, and worsen the symptoms of known asthmatics. Other allergens that can cause intense reactions: cats, second-hand smoke in pre-school-aged children, and cockroaches, especially in urban areas. DR, MICHAEL KALINER, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: You're going to have cockroaches in the neighborhood and perhaps in your house, and they turn out to be the most important indoor allergen in the inner city community.
SALVATORE: Exposure to dogs, fungi, molds, and cold viruses, as well as malfunctioning gas appliances, which can result in high levels of nitrogen dioxide, can also contribute to worsening asthma symptoms.
But there is still inadequate evidence to link pesticides, spores, house plants and rodent exposure to asthma, that is according to the IOM committee.
GOLD: I think the Institute of Medicine report puts into perspective what we know and what we still need to investigate.
SALVATORE: So what can you do to protect yourself and your home from these various allergens? Experts recommend you remove all pets from the home; clean and exterminate the home regularly; eliminate chemical pollutants; and control indoor humidity. And experts say, doctors need to get aggressive about checking patients with asthma for allergies.
KALINER: Patients who wheeze more than two days a week should be evaluated for allergies as a long-term treatment for their asthma.
SALVATORE (on camera): Because asthma is such a complex disease, the committee says more needs to be learned about the different allergens that can cause or trigger an asthma attack. And they're calling for more interaction between researchers, health officials, and those who design our indoor environments to make the indoor air we breathe as allergy-free as possible.
Dr. Steve Salvatore, CNN, New York.
BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, you'll get a kick from our soccer story. We'll spotlight the new World Cup mascot. That story takes us to South Korea. More stops in Asia as we examine the economy in Japan, and we'll check out human rights in countries like China, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Ever since the beginning of civilization, human rights and its abuse has always been a point of contention. The United Nations was created for the protection of those rights. In 1945, 50 countries came together and signed the charter of the United Nations. Its purpose in summary: to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, and to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.
Since the initial signing of the charter, many other countries have joined the U.N., and now there are 185 member nations. However, human rights abuses carry on all over the world. For example, Algeria, Kosovo, Afghanistan. Mike Chinoy is in Asia where the battle over human rights rages on.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN HONG KONG BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A fault line between civilizations or a fig leaf for dictatorship? Across Asia, the battle over human rights helped shape the politics of the 1990s. On one side, proponents of so-called Asian values insisting that stability and economic growth were more important than individual rights.
PROF. DONG YUNHU, CHINESE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES (through translator): Of course, some Western countries think that because some people were put in jail in China that the human rights situation has gotten worse. But do the problems of a few people reflect the overall situation? I don't think so. China has more than 40 million poor people who need food and clothing. Isn't that a more important problem?
CHINOY: Not to those who find themselves behind bars, like Harry Wu, who spent 20 years in Chinese labor camps.
HARRY WU, FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER: They only treat human beings as a kind of animal to feed them, to take care of them. This is a kind of a violation of the United Nations human rights declaration. We have to know that declaration only have one version. We don't have Chinese version. We don't have American version.
CHINOY: It's not only in China where the debate has raged. Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, has long been one of the leading advocates of Asian values, sharply dismissive of his critics in the West.
MAHATHIR MOHAMMAD, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: They keep saying Asians are bad, Asian values are no good. They are the ones who are racist. They don't look at us as equals.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Embracing the universal principles of political freedom and human dignity.
CHINOY: American insistence on making human rights a centerpiece of its policy in Asia has added to the controversy, and in a region plagued by numerous ethnic and separatist conflicts, fuel the sense of resentment.
ROBERT MANNING, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: When the president goes out and says, sovereignty doesn't matter anymore, we'll intervene anywhere we want in the name of human rights, that cuts a lot of different ways if you're sitting out in Asia where there's all kinds of disputes and all kinds of ethnic groups.
CHINOY: Yet in the final years of the century, one authoritarian regime after another was swept away in Asia, not because of Western demands, but because it internally generated pressures for change. The most dramatic recent case, Indonesia, where after three decades of iron-fisted rule, President Suharto was forced to resign, and a Democratic election put reformist Abdurrahman Wahid in office last October.
ZOHER ABDOOLCARIM, "ASIAWEEK" MAGAZINE: Certain values are changing, and the people in Asia, certainly in some Asian countries, do value change and freedom.
CHINOY: In South Korea, for example, long ruled by generals, the current president, Kim Dae Jung, is a former political prisoner. Taiwan, which a decade ago was just emerging from martial law, is about to hold its second Democratic presidential election. Ironically, it's been the economic success of Asia's authoritarian regimes that help generate movement for political change.
ABDOOLCARIM: Now you have a situation where, in many, many Asian countries, people are living better than ever before. And once they get to that point, they start thinking about other issues. They start thinking about individual freedoms, they think about choice of work, choice of education for their children -- basically choices. And once you stop thinking about that, you start wondering about, basically, do I have the freedom to make those choices.
CHINOY: Even in China, where dissidents are still routinely arrested, economic development has created a middle class and given more people more personal freedom than at any time in Chinese history, a process many observers believe is now irreversible.
WINSTON LORD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: In the age of information and technology and Internet and satellites and computers, they've got to open up. They've got to allow some dissent and certainly a free flow of information and pluralism if they want to develop that economy in a global system.
CHINOY (on camera): In the end, those changes are reshaping the debate about human rights in Asia. For most countries, disconnecting from the world is not an option, which means the economic pressures for more open, Democratic societies are likely to grow.
Mike Chinoy, CNN, Hong Kong.
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TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We move now from China to Japan. After the U.S., Japan ranks as the world's second largest economy. It's also considered the economic engine of Asia. So far, the year 2000 has brought a new sense of hope for Japan's economy. The country has been mired in recession for the past two years.
Marina Kamimura reports on Japan's newfound prosperity.
MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A new millennium aside, there is reason for some Japanese to be optimistic about the new year. Following a year of monumental corporate change, including sweeping restructuring plans, landmark tie-ups and historical inroads by non-Japanese firms, hopes had grown that the steps would begin to pay off in the coming year.
JESPER KOLL, MERRILL LYNCH: Basically, I think the Japanese economy has turned the corner. The big change in Japan has been -- 1999 was the year of corporate restructuring, cutting out the excess.
KAMIMURA: But even among the champions of Japan's economy, there were few outright optimists at the year's first get-together.
HIROSHI OKUDA, CHAIRMAN, TOYOTA (through translator): Prospects are not great. However, compared to last year, I think things will get better in the latter part of this year.
KAMIMURA: The problem: The engines of economic growth right now have little to do with the private sector and everything to do with the more than $1 trillion the government has spent over the last decade hoping to revive the economy, not to mention the half a trillion dollars aimed at bailing out the country's banks.
HARUMI SAKAMOTO, VICE PRESIDENT, SEIBU DEPT. STORES (through translator): Thanks to government spending, Japan's economy has bottomed out. But I do not think it's a real recovery. We have to work on structural problems this year.
KAMIMURA: Critics point out that even the Nikkei's stunning 37 percent gain in 1999 was because of a few telecommunications and Internet-related stocks. For that growth to spread, many say it's critical that Japan invest in new technology now.
(on camera): But experts say there's a long way to go before feelings like that are shared by the public. While there's hope some will reinvest their savings in financial markets this year, hoping for better returns, few are expended to spend more until they know for sure that the future will be brighter.
Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: "Worldview" continues in Asia. This time we head to South Korea and one of the country's most popular sports. Soccer is, in fact, the world's most popular sport. It was originally called "association sport," then just "association," later shortened to "assoc" and finally, soccer.
It wasn't until 1928 that soccer players united and came up with the World Cup, an international competition held every four years. The bid for the 2002 World Cup was contentious but resulted in the first-ever joint-hosting between South Korea and Japan, two countries with a history of hard feelings. The two countries are looking to the future and are starting with the World Cup mascot.
Mimi Mees has our report.
MIMI MEES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These animated creatures are Japan and South Korea's official mascots for the soccer 2002 World Cup. The cartoon-type mascots made their debut in Seoul, South Korea. The characters are known as "atmos," because they live high in the sky in a place called the "atmozone." In atmozone, the atmos can play atmoball however long they like, and atmoball is, of course, the atmos version of soccer.
Sound confusing? There's more. The star of the show is the great atmo leader, a golden, translucent figure who is accompanied by two soccer-crazed young atmos, and they are on a quest to create another special place in the atmosphere for the 2002 soccer World Cup.
DON RYUN CHANG, CEO, INTERBRAND DC&A MASCOT CREATORS: It's a very fictional, sort of almost abstract figure that exists not in reality, but it's sort of a very atmospheric sense of character. It represents fun, as all our dreams and aspirations for football as well as in life.
MEES: The mascots resemble illuminated goblins and may not be instantly lovable, but their creators say the world will grow to love them. Whether they are loved or not, the world will be seeing quite a bit of them for the next two years.
CHANG: We hope the new mascot can sort of ignite the passion for football and maintain the interest right up until the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan.
MEES: Soccer's governing body, FIFA, says it's delighted with the creations. They reflect the high-tech reputations of the World Cup co-hosts, Japan and South Korea. Also, they believe the atmos are unique. Storylines will be developed over the next two years plotting the adventures of the atmos as they try to find their way to the 2002 World Cup soccer finals. So stay tuned and let the adventures begin.
Mimi Mees for INSIDE ASIA.
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BAKHTIAR: In our top story today, we saw U.S. President Clinton's foray into cyberspace. The Internet is at the forefront of how elected officials are communicating with their constituents and how candidates are reaching out to voters.
As Bruce Morton reports, we've come a long way.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Newseum's exhibit shows how it's changed. William McKinley sat on his front porch and won; William Jennings Bryan traveled cross country and lost. But the campaign trail was the future: candidate and reporters on trains; newspapers first, then radio. Franklin Roosevelt was the master of that medium, then newsreels.
Pictures always matter. Three-hundred-fifty-pound William Howard Taft on a horse? Don't ride, Theodore Roosevelt advised; it will look like cruelty to the horse. Edmund Muskie turning emotional in front of the "Manchester Union Leader." It was snowing. Could we say he had cried? Choked up, certainly. Michael Dukakis in the tank. He'd made a major global policy speech earlier. Everyone led with the tank.
Techniques change. Portable manual typewriters were the tool of our trade for years. Cameras -- you don't see this model anymore.
Slowly, television became the dominant medium. Richard Nixon, accused of diverting political funds to personal use when he was Dwight Eisenhower's running mate in 1952, bought TV time to proclaim innocence and talk about a dog named Checkers his family had been given.
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RICHARD NIXON, EISENHOWER'S RUNNING MATE: And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog. And I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're going to keep him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: Letters poured in. Nixon stayed on the ticket. Eight years later, he debated John F. Kennedy, who may have been the ideal TV candidate, as Roosevelt was radio's.
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SEN. JOHN F. KENNEDY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question really is, which candidate and which party can meet the problems that the United States is going to face in the '60s.
NIXON: And my experience is there for the people to consider. Senator Kennedy's is there for the people to consider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: Much has changed. The 24-hour news cycle, the blurring of the line between news and gossip. Much has not.
ERIC NEWTON, NEWS HISTORIAN: Money has always been a huge issue. Whether or not to use negative campaigning has always been a huge issue. How deeply do you get into the private lives of the candidates, that's always been an issue.
MORTON (on camera): Now television's age may be passing and the Internet emerging as the place we go to for news. Are we better informed?
NEWTON: You have the capability of being the best informed voter in the history of the republic if you have the time to sort it all out. You also could easily be ill-informed or misinformed.
MORTON (voice-over): The truth is available. Now, or 100 years ago, you have to work some to get it.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WALCOTT: It's about the electoral process.
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Image making to exit polls.
BAKHTIAR: It's about the political process.
HAYNES: From how you can get involved.
JORDAN: To the presidential debates.
WALCOTT: It's about the political parties.
JORDAN: It's about public opinion and the polls.
BAKHTIAR: It's about the power of voting.
HAYNES: It's about "Democracy in America."
BAKHTIAR: Before we wrap up this edition of NEWSROOM, a sad follow up to a story we recently brought you about 14-year-old Nicholas Breach. He's the eighth grader who decided he wanted to donate his organs after finding out he had an inoperable brain tumor. Nicholas died of cardiac arrest over the weekend. His sudden death made it impossible to put his heart, lungs, liver or kidneys up for donation. But doctors were able to donate both of his corneas, which will be given to two different people to restore their sight.
And that's all for us here today. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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