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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for April 4, 2000

Aired April 4, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM takes a turn into Tuesday. Glad you're here. I'm Andy Jordan.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's the look ahead.

JORDAN: In today's top story, Microsoft is slapped with a blistering ruling. We'll look at where the software giant goes from here.

BAKHTIAR: Then, in our "Health Desk," you've heard about the dangers of drinking and driving. We'll tell you about the risks when you're on allergy medication.


DR. JOHN WEILER, UNIV. OF IOWA: The first generation antihistamines impair driving even more than being legally drunk and that is a concern.


JORDAN: From potent substances to deadly chemicals, today's "Worldview" examines the fallout from a cyanide spill in Romania.


MARY PFLUM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anna D'Mash (ph) is desperate. Her family's clean water supply is dwindling. And she's afraid that soon her cows and horses, her sole means of income, will die from drinking contaminated water.


BAKHTIAR: Then, in "Chronicle," Democracy in America": How presidential candidates select the number-two person on the ticket.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): People don't usually vote for vice president. But a running mate can tip a close election.


JORDAN: Yesterday, a ruling came down in Washington, D.C. and it echoed all the way to Silicon Valley, California. A federal judge has decided computer giant Microsoft violated U.S. antitrust laws. It's a case that goes all the way back to October of 1998 When the federal government, 19 states and the District of Columbia took Microsoft to court.

They accused it of illegally linking its Web browser, Internet Explorer, to its popular Windows operating system. The judge has decided Microsoft used its dominant position to monopolize the Internet browser market. While a blow for Microsoft, it's not necessarily the last word in the case.


JOEL KLEIN, U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANTITRUST DIVISION: We are, of course, very pleased with the court's opinion today. It will benefit America's consumers by opening the door to competition, increased innovation, and increased consumer choice in the software industry.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: Today's ruling was not unexpected given the court's earlier findings, but there are several steps ahead in this case. While we did everything we could to settle this case, and we'll continue to look for new opportunities to resolve it, we believe we have a strong case on appeal.


JORDAN: Now, the Microsoft case is not without precedent. Antitrust laws go back over 1000 years in U.S. history.

American businesses in the 1800s tried to dominate specific markets by creating anti-competitive agreements called trusts. They would cut prices to drive competitors out of business. They would also buy out competitors or force customers to buy unwanted products in order to sell other goods.

What many of the businesses formed was called a monopoly, which is the exclusive control of a commodity or service. It fixes the price and virtually eliminates free competition.

Before the turn of the century, the U.S. Congress saw this trend and passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. It outlawed trusts and illegal monopolies. The U.S. government put that law into practice not long after in 1911, declaring American Tobacco an illegal monopoly, breaking it up into several companies. It followed suit the same year by breaking up Standard Oil into separate oil refining and pipeline companies.

More recently, it used the Sherman Antitrust Act to accuse computer giant IBM of being an illegal monopoly. The case was eventually dropped. One of the biggest antitrust cases of the technological age was when the government accused phone giant AT&T of being an illegal monopoly. In 1983, the government broke it up into one long-distance company and seven "baby-bell" local phone companies.

Microsoft has been accused of anti-competitive practices before in 1994. Then a settlement was reached. Today, the Microsoft antitrust battle has a different storyline.

Charles Bierbauer brings us up to date.


CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Microsoft, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled, had placed an "oppressive thumb on the scale of competitive fortune."

As expected, the judge found: "Microsoft maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means and attempted to monopolize the Web browser market."

It did that by tying its own browser system, Internet Explorer, to the purchase of the dominant Windows operating system.

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are pleased that the court agreed with the department: that Microsoft abused its monopoly power, that it violated the antitrust laws, and that it harmed consumers. Microsoft has been held accountable for its illegal conduct by a court of law.

BIERBAUER: Though not the ultimate court of law: appeals could take this case to the Supreme Court. And Microsoft certainly intends to fight this ruling.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: This ruling turns on its head the reality that consumers know: that our software has helped make PCs more accessible and affordable to millions.

BIERBAUER: Judge Jackson had tipped his hand with preliminary findings in November. But his tough ruling says Microsoft trammeled the competitive process to keep other browser manufacturers, such as Netscape, from having equal access to the Windows system.

But the ruling is not a complete loss for Microsoft, which the judge said: "did not ultimately deprive Netscape of the ability to have access to every PC user worldwide," through the sale or download of millions of copies of its Navigator.

Judge Jackson's ruling does not suggest what remedy he will impose on Microsoft. That's the next phase of a trial already 18 months old. Justice Department officials declined to name their exact price.

JOEL KLEIN, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, ANTITRUST DIVISION: Our principal focus will be on a long-term fix for these anticompetitive conditions. It's absolutely critical to this market that Microsoft not abuse its monopoly power going forward.

BIERBAUER (on camera): The appeals process could take months or years. Even if the idea, once on the table, of a Microsoft breakup were revived, that is not imminent. And computer consumers are also not likely to see any immediate change.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: And this footnote: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates lost more than $12 billion yesterday, at least on paper, in a rush of Microsoft selling on Wall Street. Investors were anticipating the ruling. The stock fell more than $15.37 to almost $91.

It also caused the technology-rich Nasdaq index to experience its largest point drop ever, dropping 349 points, or 7.6 percent to 4223.68.

BAKHTIAR: Also making headlines today, Elian Gonzalez's father has been given the green light to enter the United States and could arrive at any time, now that he's been granted a visa. Elian is the 6-year-old boy who arrived in the United States last Thanksgiving after a treacherous journey from Cuba in which his mother perished.

Since that time, both Elian's father and his relatives in Miami have waged high-profile struggles for custody of the boy. Elian's Florida relatives have been in talks with U.S. Immigration officials. They're discussing how to reunite Elian with his father once he arrives from Cuba.

John Zarrella reports.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): After intense day-long meetings with federal officials, Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's great-uncle, spoke briefly of his continued hope.

LAZARO GONZALEZ, ELIAN'S GREAT UNCLE (through translator): We have faith in the laws and in the government, and we hope that we can resolve this and that it will be to the benefit of Elian Gonzalez.

ZARRELLA: According to the INS, discussions have shifted from whether to turn Elian over to his father to how it will be carried out.

ROBERT WALLIS, INS DISTRICT DIRECTOR: The transfer of parole care does not mean that the child will be immediately removed from the home of the great uncle. Instead, it is our hope to begin a smooth and orderly process that will create as little disruption as possible for Elian.

ZARRELLA: But sources close to the talks say that Elian's relatives are insisting the boy must have independent psychological testing to determine whether he should be transferred to the care of his father. And the Miami relatives want assurances. The boy's father, Juan Miguel, will stay in the U.S. while the appeals process continues.

Federal officials say visas for Juan Miguel and five others: his wife and their son, a cousin, a pediatrician and one of Elian's teachers have been approved.


BAKHTIAR: If you drive or you're learning to drive, listen up. Did you know motorists using over-the-counter allergy medication may be a greater risk for causing traffic collisions than drunken drivers? That's according to a new study at the University of Iowa. And that's a big deal because in the United States alone, there are about 50 million Americans who have some form of allergic disease.

An allergy is an exaggerated or pathological reaction to substances, situations or physical states that are without comparable effect on the average individual.

Holly Firfer has more on the dangers of driving while taking certain allergy medications.


HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Researchers at the University of Iowa took 40 allergy sufferers and gave one group an antihistamine which contained diphenhydramine, another group an antihistamine which contained fexofenadine. Others were given alcohol or a placebo. Then each got behind the wheel of a car in a driving simulator. The result:

DR. JOHN WEILER, UNIV. OF IOWA: The first generation antihistamines impair driving even more than being legally drunk, and that is a concern.

FIRFER: So-called first generation antihistamines contain an over-the-counter drug called diphenhydramine, which doctors sometimes prescribe as a sleep aid.

WEILER: When we looked at other measures, which were ability to stay within the lane, or to go into a left lane, we found that the people who took -- again, those who took the diphenhydramine performed the poorest, but those who took alcohol didn't perform very well either.

FIRFER: The other antihistamine studied contains fexofenadine. Available by prescription, it sells under the brand-name Allegra. Researchers say fexofenadine did not produce driving impairment. The research, which is published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine," was partially funded by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Allegra. That funding has other drug companies questioning the research.

A statement from Warner Lambert, maker of Benadryl, quotes a journal editorial citing "the possibility that affects seen in experimental settings do not translate into an increased risk for motor vehicle crashes in real life."

Researchers don't dispute that diphenhydramine does work to control allergies, the concern, they say, is when people don't read the warning labels and say, I feel fine.

WEILER: When we looked at drowsiness, it was definitely not a good predictor or performance impairment. I think we have to tell people you cannot feel safe driving, operating machinery, doing other tasks simply because you don't feel drowsy.

FIRFER: Twenty-seven states now reinforce the warnings by ticketing drivers under the influence of sedating medications, including some antihistamines.

Holly Firfer, CNN, Atlanta.


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

JORDAN: In "Worldview" today, we visit Asia and Europe. We turn to Vietnam for a snapshot of the horrors of the Vietnam War and its haunting images. And a word of caution as we take our photographic tour: Some of the pictures are disturbing. Onto Thailand, where we check out armored cars, and how some people are trying to steer clear of danger. And a poisonous peril in Romania: We examine cyanide and its effects on the countryside.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Romania is a country in Eastern Europe. It has a wealth of natural resources, including fertile soil, mineral deposits and vast forests. The country is also one of the least developed nations in Europe and has suffered from an over- dependence on one economic activity: agriculture. The delicate balance between the Romanian people and the soil was upset last January after a deadly cyanide spill in the northern part of the country.

Mary Pflum has more on the fallout from that disaster.


MARY PFLUM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anna D'Mash (ph) is desperate. Her family's clean water supply is dwindling and she's afraid that soon her cows and horses, her sole means of income, will die from drinking contaminated water.

The source of Anna's anxiety is this: The pool used by the Aural gold company to separate gold from ore. On January 30, thousands of liters of poisonous water seeped through the ditch's earthen walls, causing what authorities say is Europe's worst environmental disaster in over a decade.

Area wells like Anna's were contaminated with up to 50 times the acceptable level of cyanide. Ask locals and they'll tell you, the spill was predictable and preventable. MAJ. RADU ANDERCIUC, ROMANIAN DISASTER MANAGEMENT: We've known that, in the past, we have problems here. But in the Ceaucescu regime, it's very difficult to resolve that because nobody wants to recognize that.

PFLUM: Today, there are three gold plants in Baia Mare, including Aural, jointly owned by the Romanian government and the Australian-owned Esmerelda Gold Mining Company. Australian officials say the plant was in environmental trouble at the time merger talks began 10 years ago. The Australians built a new plant and say they sought to clean up what they could of the old one. But locals insist they didn't do enough.

FILIP MOISEI, BAIA MARE ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY: They didn't respect the rules of using that dam. When you get a higher level of cyanide, you should build a tougher dam, and they didn't.

PFLUM: For now, the Aural plant is quiet. It's been closed since the spill. But while silent, it's not safe.

(on camera): If the plant isn't reopened, and soon, Australian officials say, the people of Baia Mare may have an even bigger problem on their hands. Torrential rains are expected this spring, and those rains could produce another spill.

Anna says she's scared, but she can do little more than watch an international team of inspectors setting up camp on the land she's called home for 54 years. She and her neighbors want the pre-spill days back, the ones with clean water, healthy livestock and a future to look forward to.

Mary Pflum, for CNN, Baia Mare, Romania.


HAYNES: We turn our attention from threats on the environment to terror in the street. And for that we head to Thailand, a country located in Southeast Asia. Thailand has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. It relies heavily on big exports like clothing and electronics. And with the booming economy, transporting revenue -- getting money to and from the banks -- is vital to merchants, but it comes with risks. Armored vehicles are used to ensure the safe transport of money. An armored vehicle is fitted with armor plating for protection against bullets, explosives and other projectiles. Armored cars and trucks are very expensive to manufacture but critical when so much money is on the line.

John Raedler reports.


JOHN RAEDLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man is a hired gun. Today he has an assignment on the outskirts of Bangkok. He readies his rifle. He takes aim. And he shoots a truck. His assignment is to demonstrate the effectiveness of bullet-proofing. As the owner of the business shows, the bullet did not penetrate the truck's windshield. Nor will bullets penetrate any other part of the refitted vehicle, as the gunman demonstrates. Again, the owner shows that none of the bullets fired into the truck's door got through the door.

A motor mechanic who left school at 12, Preecha Puchaneeyakul started bullet-proofing vehicles in 1997.

"My first year," he says, "I started with only 80 or 90 vehicles. By the third year, it was over 200, and I expect to do more than 300 this year."

(on camera): Preecha started his business in response to a growing number of armed attacks on vehicles carrying money to and from banks -- attacks in which some people inside the vehicles were killed.

(voice-over): Banks are still his biggest clients. Other customers include businessmen, government officials, police, and the Thai offices of some international companies.

Preecha won't reveal exactly what he uses to protect the vehicles against bullets. He says that's a trade secret. But he does reveal the cost: about $37,000 to fully bullet-proof a pickup truck, nearly $100,000 to do a luxury sedan. And those prices include partial protection of the tires as well.

John Raedler, CNN, Bangkok.


BAKHTIAR: The Vietnam War was one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history. It pitted communist-led North Vietnamese troops against the South Vietnamese Army, backed by American troops. It's often called the first war the United States ever lost. After more than eight years of involvement and the loss of 58,000 lives, the U.S. pulled out in 1973. Two years later, the war was over as the communists took over the entire country. The biggest tragedy of the war was that it took so many young lives. Not just soldiers were killed in the line of duty, but journalists as well. Much of their work lives on in a new exhibit that's a tribute to their role in bringing home the realities of war.

Tom Mintier reports from Vietnam.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While it may not be the most complete collection of photographs from the Vietnam War, it may be the most important. The exhibit, called "Requiem: The Vietnam Collection" is now on display in Hanoi, Vietnam, the pictures, nearly 300 of them, from 135 photo journalists from all sides who lost their lives in the war.

HORST FAAS, ASSOCIATED PRESS: We will never sit together and talk about the good old days of Vietnam because there were no good days. They were all bad days in a way. MINTIER: Horst Faas knows it well. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he was the Associated Press's chief photographer in Saigon from 1962 until 1973. The exhibit in Hanoi is a gift from the people of the American state of Kentucky to Vietnam. The Vietnamese photographers are also included here. More than 70 died taking pictures.

British photographer Tim Page developed the idea for "Requiem" as a way to honor his friends.

TIM PAGE, PHOTOGRAPHER: I think it's one of the most incredible bodies of work ever assembled photographically. It's even more incredible as you start to go through the book, which is a piece of music, a symphony almost, which is the art of the guy who designed it. But the fact is that so many of these frames were last frames retrieved from inside cameras, the last roll of film. And it's something kind of -- you're touching the spirit of the people who actually made those images.

MINTIER: Richard Lennon was a U.S. Marine Corps Captain in Vietnam. AP photographer Henry Hewitt worked with his unit. He helped bring the exhibit to Kentucky, and now here to Vietnam.

RICHARD LENNON, "REQUIEM: THE VIETNAM COLLECTION": Well, I think, quite frankly, what happened was their work perhaps had more to do with the end of the war than anything because it told a pretty hard story. And I think the American people got tired of seeing these photographs night after night after night and in every newspaper and every magazine and realized that this was a war we weren't going to win and it was time that we got out.

MINTIER: The images are haunting. Many were probably the photographers' last click of the shutter before dying. They show the horror of war up close and personal. More than 30 years have passed since these pictures were taken, images that will last several lifetimes.

(on camera): The "Requiem" exhibit will reside permanently now in Vietnam. It will be moved in the middle of April to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the end of the war.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Hanoi.


BAKHTIAR: Every Tuesday here on NEWSROOM, we bring you our series, "Democracy in America," our coverage of campaign 2000. We're back on the campaign trail today for the Democratic and Republican primaries to be held in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

With Democrat Bill Bradley and Republican John McCain out of the race, these primaries may prove anticlimactic for presidential hopefuls, Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. Both candidates were out in full force yesterday showing no signs of slowing down. Gore was in Georgia talking about the importance of getting the new generation of Americans connected to the Internet. He says those without computer skills and Internet access could be left behind in a century so dependent on e-commerce.

George W. Bush was covering ground in Pennsylvania, taking on an issue that often favors Democrats -- the environment. In a move to win over the environmental groups sympathetic to Gore and against the backdrop of a former steel mill, Bush announced a plan to clean up abandoned industrial sites.

A new nationwide CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows Bush has dropped to a virtual dead heat with Vice President Gore, with the Texas governor leading by just one percentage point, down from a six- point lead only three weeks ago. With the race so close, who the candidates choose as their running mate could make all the difference.

Bill Schneider explains.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): People don't usually vote for vice president, but a running mate can tip a close election. 2000 looks like it'll be close, with hand-to- hand combat over every piece of disputed territory. Once again, geography matters. The true battlegrounds are big states that are also highly competitive. There are five of them, 99 electoral votes at stake, all in a row. Call them "the battle belt": New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

What do they offer in terms of running mates? New Jersey offers Gore Bill Bradley. Bradley has national stature and credibility on the reform issue, but too much bad chemistry for a good ticket. Bush could pick Governor Christie Whitman. Woman -- that's good. Big on abortion rights -- that's a problem. Why hand Pat Buchanan an issue?

Pennsylvania? Fifth largest state, but no big-name statewide Democrats for Gore to chose. On the GOP side, Bush is known to like Governor Tom Ridge: popular, Catholic, Vietnam vet. But Ridge, too, is an abortion rights supporter.

Ohio, like Pennsylvania, has a scarcity of statewide Democrats. Republicans have Senator George Voinovich: Catholic, anti-abortion, former mayor of Cleveland and former governor. This guy knows how to get Democratic votes. There's also Congressman John Kasich. Remember him? Ran for president, briefly; went on a bowling tour of Iowa; offers a rare combination of Washington experience and youthful exuberance.

Up to Michigan: Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer is well-regarded statewide. For Gore, the impact of putting an African-American on the ticket would far outweigh any geographical calculation. Governor John Engler was an early Bush booster, but he failed to deliver his state in a crucial primary, partly because some Democrats came out to vote against him.

Illinois offers Gore a Democratic senator with a populist image and a strong anti-tobacco record -- Dick Durbin; Bush, a Republican senator who's Catholic, conservative but independent-minded on issues like gun control and health care reform -- Peter Fitzgerald. Some Democrats believe Florida may be a battleground despite a governor named Bush. Putting moderate Senator Bob Graham on the ticket would help Gore make Florida competitive. And if Bush feels defensive about Florida, he could name retiring Senator Connie Mack, who's popular, Catholic, conservative, and a congressional leader. But whether Florida is truly competitive may depend less on running mates and more on what happens to a 6-year-old boy named Elian Gonzalez.

(on camera): Geography used to mean the Democrats had to put a Southerner on the ticket. They usually did. Even a liberal like Adlai Stevenson had running mates from Alabama in 1952 and Tennessee in 1956. A Southerner on the ticket doesn't seem to matter any more. Or does it? The Democrats have elected three presidents since 1960: Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton -- all southerners. This time, Al Gore's on the ticket, so y'all Democrats have taken care of that.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: And we'll be on running-mate watch all the way up until the election every Tuesday here on "Democracy in America" on NEWSROOM.

BAKHTIAR: That does it for us here on NEWSROOM. We'll see you back here tomorrow.




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