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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 29, 2000

Aired March 29, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Wednesday and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Glad you're here. I'm Shelley Walcott.


We have a lot to tell you about today, so let's get started.

ANNOUNCER: In today's news, we'll see why NASA scientists won't be getting a good look at the Red Planet any time soon.


TOM YOUNG, CHAIRMAN, MARS PROGRAM INDEP. ASSESSMENT TEAM: They were trying to do everything that was humanly possible to make these programs work. There just wasn't enough of them. There wasn't enough resources.


JORDAN: And we'll try to make sense of long distance calling commercials in today's "Business Desk."


TOM LONG, UTILITY REFORM NETWORK: You need to have a built in calculator in your brain or carry your calculator around whenever you look at these advertisements.


WALCOTT: Then in "Worldview," we'll take a closer look at why tension between ethnic groups in Africa is making unity hard to achieve.


J.P. MBOGUA, INVESTIGATOR, NAIROBI CITY COUNCIL: Anything that happens in Africa, you think Africans are fighting because they are tribalistic or they are divided into tribes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JORDAN: And a new study suggests not enough sleep could be as dangerous as too much alcohol when it comes to teens behind the wheel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-two percent of all drowsy drivers report becoming stressed. Thirty-six percent say that they become impatient, and 12 percent indicate that they drive faster when they're sleepy.


JORDAN: In today's top story, we follow fire and ice. We focus on a planet which sits fourth in line away from the sun, behind Earth. Mars has the most livable climate in the solar system, aside from our fair planet. But the question of our time: Has its climate ever allowed life of any kind? The yearning to know has led NASA to follow the water, a necessary sign of life. In its quest, NASA had one shining success in the summer of 1997: the Pathfinder mission, which yielded never-before-seen pictures of the Red Planet. From a lander on the ground and a surveyor in the Martian orbit, Earthlings caught a vivid glimpse of volcanoes and Martian craters.

On the flip side of that effort, NASA launched other Mars probes over the last two years, but none ended up meeting its final destination. Now, as NASA figures out what went wrong with the lost Mars Polar Lander last December, it's promising to revamp the overall mission to Mars.

Miles O'Brien has the story.



MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly four months after the Mars Polar Lander was supposed to begin snapping stunning new images of the Red Planet, the definitive look at what went wrong with the spacecraft offers anything but a pretty picture.

YOUNG: We believe the flaws to be serious and require significant corrective action.

O'BRIEN: Retired aerospace executive Tom Young led an 18-member independent team that looked at why the Lander failed. They believe it's almost certain that premature engine shutdown occurred because of inadequate software design and testing. In essence, a sensor thought the Lander was on the ground while still at an attitude of 130 feet.

ED WEILER, NASA ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR: That's like dropping from an eight-story building.

O'BRIEN: At the root of it all, according to the Young team, the so-called Mars '98 missions, which also included the failed Mars Climate Orbiter, were led by competent but inexperienced project managers who were underfunded by at least 30 percent. YOUNG: They were trying to do everything that was humanly possible to make these programs work. There just wasn't enough of them. There wasn't enough resources.

O'BRIEN: Nasa managers point the finger at the system -- no heads will roll.

ED STONE, DIRECTOR, NASA JET PROPULSION: This is not about who's to blame. This is about understanding how to assure mission success.

O'BRIEN: So what's next for NASA? An orbiter destined to launch next year will fly on time. But beyond that, the Mars program faces some wholesale changes.

WEILER: It's going to be a little slower, it will be little a little more expensive, but a little, not a lot, but it will be very much better.

O'BRIEN: So despite a disastrous year, the faster, better, cheaper philosophy lives on. NASA pushed the envelope, and it ripped, but space agency manages insist that's a lesson they will not forget as they go back to the drawing board to chart a new strategy for exploring the Red Planet.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: In the headlines today, the largest oil-producing nations have agreed to increase output by 1.7 million barrels a day. OPEC oil ministers made the announcement yesterday in Vienna, Austria. But two OPEC members, Iran and Iraq, refused to endorse the plan. Industry analysts say the additional oil flowing into the market may not be enough to bring down crude oil prices very much.

Brent Sadler has more.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a marathon session of talks in Vienna, OPEC ministers headed for home, announcing there will be an increase in the flow of oil pumped into the world market, handing around 1.7 million barrels a day, a satisfactory outcome for the United States. OPEC had sought unanimous agreement to open their taps, but failed.

RILWANU LUKMAN, OPEC SECRETARY-GENERAL: The conference decided to roll back what we took out in March, nine agreed to go along with it, and one said no.

SADLER: Iran was the dissenting nation, claiming there's enough oil in the market already. Tehran's oil minister alluded to political string pulling by Washington to fix the new deal.

BIJAN NAMDAR ZAGENEH, IRANIAN OIL MINISTER: Our difference is on principles and not on merely few barrels. We tried hard to show and prove our flexibility, but due to some member position, we couldn't reach to unanimously.

SADLER: By that, the Iranians were pointing a finger at Arab Gulf states, responding to U.S. political pressure, notably Saudi Arabia. A claim Riyadh firmly rejects.

ALI NAIMI, SAUDI ARBIAN OIL MINISTER: We firmly believe that the market will be in equilibrium. We believe that supply and demand will be in balance.

SADLER: But just in case oil prices fluctuate sharply in the wake of their decision, OPEC will review the situation in three months time. For now at least, industry experts say it boils down to cheaper oil, but nothing dramatic for consumers.

GARY ROSS, U.S. OIL ANALYST: The question of how much it helps U.S. motorists, it will help them some, but we have a question now of converting the crude oil into gasoline, which is going to be a bit of a problem, but we should be able to get by, and we'll see some relief in gasoline prices from the drop in crude oil costs.

SADLER: Iran's stand against increased production flies in the face of U.S. economic interest, but the split it creates in OPEC weakens the cartel, and therefore, say analysts, it's clout in controlling world oil prices.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Vienna.


WALCOTT: Many industry analysts says the OPEC agreement will only knock a few cents off the average price of unleaded gas. Later, in our "Biz Desk Extra," Bill Tucker will fill us in on how to lower your gas bill.

JORDAN: OK, so what if I told you, by watching NEWSROOM every day, you can be a straight-A student? Well, you'd probably say, baloney. Well, you'd be right.

In today's "Business Desk," we take issue with just that kind of exaggeration. It's called "puffery," a tactic many companies use in their advertising. Puffery is an exaggeration of what a product can really offer. Something else to look out for: the old bait-and-switch routine, an advertisement for a low-priced product, intended to attract consumers to buy something similar, but more expensive. Obviously watching NEWSROOM every day won't make you a straight-A student, but some companies are actually making those kinds of unrealistic claims.

Greg LeFevre has one such scenario.


GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does it ever really cost seven cents a minute? Federal regulators say almost never. They're imposing new rules on telephone companies to make their long distance commercials easier to understand. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 10-10-220 COMMERCIAL)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All calls up to 20 minutes are only 99 cents.


BOB PITOSKI, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: We do not want to stifle the aggressive competitive advertising that's going on, but we do want to say to people engaged in this marketplace: Tell the truth.

LEFEVRE: Example: this ad boasts seven cents a minute, but it's really $6 to start. That's in fine print at the bottom.

LONG: So what they've done is catch your attention by the seven cent a minute ad, hope that that's all you'll see.

WILLIAM KENNARD, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: We're calling on the industry to clearly and adequately disclose all the material terms and conditions when they offer telephone service to consumers.

LEFEVRE: The rules say ads must be "Non-misleading, include all costs, use current information, and be clear and conspicuous."

Meanwhile, MCI WorldCom announced a settlement with regulators on its commercials. It promise ads will now go beyond the new guidelines. An example of the new rules would be this ad where the so-called fine print is bigger. Note the second line about 16 cents.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Our calls over 10 minutes are half off. That's just eight cents a minute day or night.


LEFEVRE (on camera): Critics want the plans even simpler. They say the very structure of plans today is hopelessly confusing. Right now, a caller must calculate: how much time he'll talk this month long distance, the per minute charge, the time of day, because some plans are cheaper at night, and the monthly minimum fee.

LONG: You need to have a built in calculator in your brain or carry your calculator around whenever you look at these advertisements.

LEFEVRE (voice-over): Next, critics want to look at costs for phone calls made inside the states. In some areas, a customer may face three separate pricing plans for local, regional and statewide services.

Greg LeFevre, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: In today's news, we told you about OPEC's decision to increase oil production, which many hope will lower the cost of gas. Now whether or not that happens remains to be seen. For now, saving money on gas may be a matter of changing the way you drive.

Bill Tucker has some ideas in this "Biz Desk Extra."


JOHN CLOR, DETROIT EDITOR, EDMUNDS.COM: Premium is $1.739, that's got to be a (INAUDIBLE).

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Clor has a job that small boys dream of. He gets paid to drive cars. So he knows how to wring the last dime's worth out of a fill-up.

The AAA estimates that there are 205 million passenger vehicles on the road, each one of them using about 600 gallons of gas a year. Clor reckons that most drivers could trim their gas bill by 25 percent. Stingy driving starts before getting behind the wheel, by making sure that the car's air filter is clean and the tires are filled.

CLOR: Well, if your tire is properly inflated, the engine doesn't have to work as hard, and consequently you save a lot of money.

TUCKER: On the road, dedicated cheapskates plan their trips. They don't use their vehicles to comparison shop, and they don't load it with unnecessary baggage.

CLOR: Now, if you have a pickup truck, now, you're still driving around with the patio blocks you had last summer, take those out.

TUCKER: But real tightwads also drive like they mean it, by traveling five miles below the speed limit and going easy on the throttle and brake.

CLOR: Really, you can save more money in changing your driving habits than you can do out of any mechanical change to your car.

TUCKER: The AAA says another big gas-guzzling habit is the daily commute. The average city driver idles away 60 to 70 gallons a year.

PETER CRESCENTI, DIRECTOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION, AAA: Nationally, that adds up to about 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline wasted sitting in traffic.

TUCKER: Clor advises drivers to take another route to avoid a jam. Even if it's a couple of miles longer, it'll still be cheaper.

Bill Tucker, CNN Financial News, New York.


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

JORDAN: More long distance in "Worldview." But instead of calling international destinations, we take you there. So get set for some globe-trotting. We'll head to the continent of Africa, where hotspots grow from ethnic conflicts.

And we'll criss-cross the United States to learn about the evolution of the economy. It could help you decide which career fields to explore as you track the trends.

Try to imagine life without computers. Without them, the Internet wouldn't exist. You couldn't surf the Net or send e-mail. They've made many things easier and more efficient, things like booking airline tickets and even shopping. It's safe to say without computers and all the electronic technology that goes with them, the business world would grind to a halt.

While the electronic revolution may seem like a recent phenomenon, as Bill Dorman reports, it's just the latest upheaval in a U.S. economy built on change.


BILL DORMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The history of the United States is a series of new economies, and technology always plays a role. Electricity helped speed the move from work on the farm to work in the city and helped make the assembly line possible, which then pushed companies to build more factories.

As technology helped to increase people's leisure time, the economy shifted again, from a manufacturing base to a services base. What's happening today is another of those dramatic changes. Take it from the nation's top banker.

ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: In testimony before this committee several years ago, I raised the possibility that we were entering a period of technological innovation that occurs perhaps once every 50 or 100 years.

DORMAN: One key to the current period of innovation: widespread use of the computer, especially linked with other technologies, from cell phones to the Internet. But consumer computers have been widely available for more than 20 years -- even longer for businesses. So why did it take so long for computers to kick-start the new economy?

MARK ZANDI, DISMAL SCIENCES, INC.: Usually, when technologies are first unveiled they're just not understood -- at least not the power of the technology, what it really means and how it can really be used. And it takes time for that just to be figured out.

DORMAN: What's true with the computer has been true with every technological breakthrough.

Take aviation. The Wright brothers first flew in 1903, but commercial aviation did not take off until the 1930's. Radio was invented in 1906, but was not a booming business for another two decades. And remember electricity, that breakthrough which changed so much? It even took time for the electric light bulb to catch on, long after it first brightened a laboratory in 1879.

(on camera): Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb right here, on the grounds of what used to be his workshop in Menlo Park, New Jersey. But before the electric light bulb changed the lives of millions of people around the world, it was first used in the Wall Street area, demonstrating once again the magnetic attraction of money and technology.

(voice-over): But matters of money can also delay the use of technology. Products that are new are often expensive, like Edison's light bulb, which cost $10 in 1880. In today's money, that's the equivalent of more than $200, one reason it took another 30 to 40 years before electric light bulbs lit the average home. But once that happened, the U.S. economy and the entire world were changed forever.

Other technologies, like the railroads, represented relatively small parts of the U.S. economy a hundred years ago, but acted as powerful agents of change. Many contemporary observers see parallels in today's new economy.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Economic historians now understand that by knitting the West into the entire economy and creating one economy from the Atlantic to the Pacific, they transformed America. And in the same way, information technology has the potential to very profoundly change the way every American works, and in so doing to very profoundly transform the way the United States economy operates.

DORMAN: Technology has taken the economy through its most dramatic transformations. Over the first part of the twentieth century, the new economy meant a shift from the farm to the factory.

In 1900, one of every three Americans worked in agriculture. By World War II, it was one in ten. Today, two Americans in a hundred work on farms. We moved to cities, to jobs in factories. And in the 1950's, the Interstate Highway System began to revolutionize the way people and products moved around the country, as the economy itself continued to evolve.

In 1947, more than eight percent of the national gross domestic product came from agriculture, more than 27 percent from manufacturing, and 18 percent came from services. Fifty years later, the relative importance of farming and factories had plunged, while the service economy had climbed to nearly 40 percent of the country's entire output.

And now the economy is changing again, and people are once again discussing the new economy.

ZANDI: we're going from a service-based economy to an information-technology based economy. And what's important is information -- not the products, not the goods and services that we produce, but the information surrounding those goods and services. And we're just really at the beginning of that process. DORMAN: And buried somewhere in the current world of the Internet, computers, and wireless communication, somewhere are the seeds of what in another 50 years or so may be the new "new economy."

Bill Dorman, CNN Financial News, New York.


WALCOTT: Africa is the second-largest continent in area. Only Asia covers more land space. The African people belong to various population groups and have many cultural backgrounds. The large number of ethnic groups has made it difficult for many African countries to develop into unified modern nations.

Alphonso Van Marsh has more on how tribal conflict has scarred the African continent.


ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turkana tribesmen lead livestock across a river in northern Kenya. Armed with automatic weapons, they evade rival tribesmen who will kill for their cattle.

The forces of tribalism, looking out for one's own, span from the countryside to the corridors of power in Nairobi. A multi-million dollar corruption scandal, blamed in part on employees illegally securing jobs and contracts for members of their own tribe, has shaken the presidency.

DANIEL ARAP MOI, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: How do you run a country when you are using civil servants from tribal groupings politically? Do you expect that they will do things in a normal way, following professionalism, following ethics?

VAN MARSH: The city council's corruption investigation chairman, J.P. Mbogua, says Africans need only look to their leadership for blame.

MBOGUA: The leaders find that they can gather people of their own tribe together, and they show them who is the enemy. Then the people start acting that way.

VAN MARSH: Nowhere in Africa has this led to more violence and bloodshed than in Rwanda, where Hutu tribe leaders, seeking total power, convinced their own to kill up to a million fellow citizens. The victims were mostly from the Tutsi tribe. The sheer brutality the Hutus showed the Tutsis fed Western stereotypes that Africans are somehow more barbaric, savage, uncivilized.

Mbogua, a former Kenyan ambassador to the United States, says such characterizations are unfair.

MBOGUA: Anything that happens in Africa, you think Africans are fighting because they are tribalistic or they are divided into tribes. Whereas in other places, you say its a racial problem or you say it's -- you explain it otherwise.

VAN MARSH: Mbogua says other fighting, equally brutal, in places like Kosovo and East Timor is rarely described as tribal.

The current emphasis on tribalism has its origin in Africa's pre- independence days, when European powers drew up African countries irrespective of African kingdoms, cultural ties or tribal allegiances. When many Africans won independence, their leaders attempted to govern within borders that meant little or nothing to their citizens.

Decades later, in oil-rich Nigeria, more than 250 ethnic groups share the same nationality. Skirmishes between them are not based on ethnic hatred, but on government leaders promoting home tribe development instead of patriotism. This, says Organization of African Unity consultant Johnson Ekpere:

JOHNSON EKPERE, CONSULTANT, ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY: We seem not to have learned the lesson of understanding that the resources of a country belongs to the country rather than to one group against others.

VAN MARSH: Nigeria's challenge, he says, is fostering nationalism without sacrificing tribal traditions.

(on camera): Contemporary South Africa is among a minority of African countries successful in bringing together races and tribes under the slogan of national unity. One solution attributed to former Mozambique President Samora Machel: For the nation to live, he said, the tribe must die.

Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN Nairobi.


JORDAN: Coming soon on "Worldview," a special series which looks at young people around the world. It's called "Youth 2000," and it's all about you. During the week-long series, we'll explore the dreams and dilemmas of kids around the world, your health and welfare, your rights and roles. What impact does poverty have? How important is your education? All that and more beginning April 10th and running all that week, right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

WALCOTT: It's a rite a passage many teenagers look forward to: getting that driver's license. But now, an effort is under way in the United States to make sure that sitting behind the wheel is a happy. And safe experience for young drivers.

Last week's "Chronicle" segment looked at a disturbing new study that finds teen drivers carrying passengers are more likely to get into accidents. To help curb some of the danger, 17 states in the United States have introduced a graduated license program, which puts curfews on younger drivers. And if parents don't have enough to worry about, new statistics out of the U.S. also show drowsy driving is a problem for teens.

With more, here's Eileen O'Connor. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zach Conrad is a fairly typical 16-year-old, putting in a couple of hours of baseball practice after a full day of school, driving home, and time for a quick dinner before it's back to the books. It will be after 11:00 before Zach goes to sleep. Six hours later, he'll be up to go back to school.

His lack of sleep and the driving he has to do to keep up his hectic schedule has his mom worried.

DR. DEBORAH PERMUT: Among other driving issues, driving when he's tired or sleepy is a concern of mine, so we've talked about that.

O'CONNOR: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 1,500 people are killed in accidents caused by drivers impaired by fatigue every year. Another 40 to 70,000 are injured, figures NHITSA says are almost certainly underestimated.

ROSE MCMURRY, NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: It's very difficult to measure. It's very difficult to detect. And, as I mentioned, most people do not report the fact when they have a crash that they believe that drowsiness was a contributing cause.

O'CONNOR: Fifty-five percent of these accidents happen to those under the age of 26. Because they're still growing physically, sleep experts say teenagers need more sleep than adults. In addition, their sleep rhythms change, making it hard for them to fall asleep until late at night, while school demands an earlier wake-up call.

Yet it's a hazard few parents discuss with their new drivers.

DARRELL DROWBNICK, NATIONAL SLEEP FOUNDATION: About a third of adults talk to their teens about drowsy driving, while over half of them discuss drunk driving. So we think we need to do a lot of -- some extra work on parents and teenagers.

O'CONNOR: NHITSA favors expanding graduated license programs which put curfews on younger drivers. A number of school districts and several states have adjusted school starting times for teens. A bill introduced last year in the House would make it easier for more schools to follow suit.

Zach Conrad thinks that's a start.

ZACH CONRAD, STUDENT DRIVER: First period in general -- there's no point in having a first period. Everybody's sleeping. Everybody's tired.

O'CONNOR: All the experts agree, if you can't stop yawning, your eyelids feel heavy and you can't remember driving the last few miles, pull over. You're too drowsy to drive.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: And that's some good advice that all of us should follow out there on the roads, too.

JORDAN: And don't forget to buckle up, too.

WALCOTT: Don't forget to buckle up.

JORDAN: That's your advice for today.

WALCOTT: We'll see you tomorrow.


WALCOTT: Bye-bye.



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