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NEWSROOM for May 4, 2000Aired May 4, 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.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And it's Thursday, May the 4th, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott. We've got lots ahead, so let's get started.
In today's top story, the 30th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, and the state of student activism today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN CANFORA, FORMER STUDENT ACTIVIST: The student movement in the year 2000 is alive and well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: Next, in our "Science Desk," the diving secrets of whales, dolphins and seals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRIE WILLIAMS, UNIV. OF CALIF.-SANTA CRUZ: The trick is in lung compression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: We jump out of the sea and onto the Web for "Worldview": why a South Korean company is hoping to smell sweet success on the Internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Images on the Internet can be very appealing to the eye, and now possibly the nose as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: Then in "Chronicle," the fourth installment of our series "Viviendo en America".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB VARGAS, ACTOR: There just aren't well-written projects for Latinos. It's usually the stereotype.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: In today's news, we observe the anniversary of a pivotal point in modern U.S. history. We remember and reflect on thirteen seconds which galvanized a nation. Thirty years ago today, National Guardsmen opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. Today, we look back at Kent State to see what started it all and how it ended up the way it did.
The anti-Vietnam War movement resonated on many college campuses in 1970. The day after the U.S. announced it would send troops to Cambodia, students at Kent State University began a weekend of protests which spilled over into the city of Kent. The city's mayor called the governor for assistance. The National Guard arrived Saturday night. After a relatively calm Sunday, confusion followed the next day. First, guardsmen responded with tear gas. Then suddenly, between 61 and 67 shots were fired. Four students died. One was permanently paralyzed and eight others wounded.
NEWSROOM talked recently with students from Kent-Roosevelt High School in Kent about the importance of what happened in their home town.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN BOYKIN, AGE 17: It's kind of scary to see that that happened and to kind of know that stuff -- not really stuff around that level, but still, like, school shootings and whatnot are, like, going on right now. I mean, it can happen anywhere. I never would have thought anything like that would happen in Kent.
KELLEY BARABAS, AGE 17: I think it's always important to remember things like that because if you don't remember history, it could be repeated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: But does history repeat when it comes to student protests? Our Joel Hochmuth looks at activism then and now.
JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scenes like these bring back memories: thousands of demonstrators, many of them college students, descended on Washington, D.C. last month to protest the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, or IMF.
CANFORA: I do get a sense of deja vu. When I look into their eyes, when I see their faces, they look so young to me, but the passion is the same. Times have changed and issues have changed, but students, I think, remain the same always. It's kind of like what Jim Morrison used to sing in the '60s: "We want the world and we want it now." HOCHMUTH: Alan Canfora was a student activist against the Vietnam War at Kent State in the late 1960s. That's him waving a black flag of protest in front of the National Guardsmen that fateful day 30 years ago. One of their bullets wounded him in the wrist. His friend Jeffrey Miller was one of four students killed.
CANFORA: I've always said that it was a very exciting time. It was adventurous to be a young person and to be against the war at that time, but it was also very dangerous, as it turned out.
HOCHMUTH: Canfora is pleased by the turnout at protests like the one last month in Washington, D.C. He considers himself an expert on student activism and says the recent protests are a sign the student movement is once again alive and well.
CANFORA: Students have always been active, and it's like waves coming, crashing on the shore. Inevitably, another wave crashes on the shore. That's how it is with the student movement.
HOCHMUTH (on camera): In sheer numbers, the student movement today still pales in comparison to the Vietnam era. For example, following the shootings here at Kent State, a nationwide student strike hit more than 700 colleges and universities. By some estimates, as many as five million students were staying away from classes.
(voice-over): Today, campus protests typically involve just a handful of students.
PROTESTERS: What do we want? A new flag. When do we want it? Now.
HOCHMUTH: A recent poll indicates only about 4 percent of incoming freshmen plan to demonstrate on any issue publicly.
CANFORA: It's unfair to compare student activism in the year 2000 with 1970 because, in the whole history of American student activism, May, 1970, that was the high point in the history of American student activism. So times have changed, issues have changed. There's not a monolithic, huge issue like Vietnam today, but, still, students are active about a broad range of issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we're going to do a mock action.
HOCHMUTH: To get a sense of what issues are important to college activists today, we visited a camp in Florida where about 80 students spent their spring break learning how to protest nonviolently. Here we found a variety of causes represented. But among activists today, there seems to be a universal distrust of big corporations and opposition to what they call today's "destructive global economic order." These issues drove the protests in Washington, D.C., and against the World Trade Organization in Seattle last year.
INGRID CHAPMAN, STUDENT ACTIVIST: I'm sick and tired of watching corporations totally exploit our planet and these people, all for profit. CHARLOTTE NOSS, STUDENT ACTIVIST: I'm talking about the sweatshop issue. I'm talking specifically about the sweatshop issue, but more generally it's called socially responsible investing.
JOHN SELLERS, THE RUCKUS SOCIETY: I think people are waking up to the fact that there's still a kind of modern-day slavery being practiced by corporations in the name of cheap goods in this country and in the rest of the industrialized world.
PROTESTERS: Smog, jobs, dirty air, Al Gore, do you care?
HOCHMUTH: Student activists here admit their causes may be harder to grasp than, say, opposition to the Vietnam War was. Still, they seem as dedicated as protesters were a generation ago. In a mock demonstration against the fictional "Global Motors Corporation," they got a taste of what it's like to face arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're asking you folks to peaceably leave or you will be arrested.
NOSS: We would put our bodies on the line. We would say, no, you are not going to do this, and I am here with my body and my life to say, no, you are not, and you will have to go through me to do it.
CHAPMAN: How far would I go? Well, it depends on what you're talking about. I won't -- I mean, I wouldn't hurt anybody. I would never do anything that would put anybody else's life in danger or physically harm anybody. But, I mean, I will do what it takes.
HOCHMUTH: Activists admit it's impossible to control everyone in a demonstration. Still, they don't condone the vandalism that broke out in Seattle. These students, at least, say the emphasis must be on peaceful, nonviolent tactics.
CHRIS CREWS, STUDENT ACTIVIST: You will be perceived much better by the public if you're doing a sit-in than if you're out, you know, smashing windows or, you know, doing assassinations of people. There's definitely a big difference in perception of people.
HOCHMUTH: As these tactics played out for real on the streets of Washington, D.C., they are a reminder U.S. history is full of nonviolent resistance, all the way back to the Boston Tea Party. Now with a new generation hitting the streets, it seems in some ways not much has changed.
CREWS: The ideas were even incorporated into the Bill of Rights, that if we are in a system of government where we feel like we're not being represented and the government is being repressive, not only are we obliged, but it is our responsibility and our duty to challenge and throw off those bonds.
CANFORA: If you look at history, it's always a minority that provokes the big change. It's rarely the majority, except in times of great crisis. But I really think you have to appreciate what the view of the minority is. That's what democracy is all about: allowing the minority view to be heard. And so I think we have to appreciate dissent by the minority.
WALCOTT: There's a saying that the solution to most problems already exists in nature. For example, scientists are building propeller models for boats that imitate the tail action of tuna and seals. And the navigation system of Stealth aircraft was inspired by the movement of hummingbirds. Theoretically, the wings of those little birds shouldn't allow them to fly, but they do.
Don Knapp has more on how scientists are studying animals to find out how they adapt.
DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A weddel seal hunts for fish beneath Antarctic ice. A tiny camera mounted on the seal's head captures the kill. By attaching video cameras and a package of other instruments to marine mammals, scientists are learning how the mammals dive to great ocean depths, chase prey and avoid predators for extended periods on just a breath of air.
WILLIAMS: The trick is in lung compression. So, as hydrostatic pressure increases at depth, lungs compress, animals become negatively buoyant, they can fall like a rock.
KNAPP: Marine biologist Terrie Williams' research appears in the April 7 issue of the journal "Science." She studied this "National Geographic" video of a 100-ton blue whale's deep ocean plunge. The video didn't reveal much at first.
WILLIAMS: Well, blue whales, this massive animal, maybe it's operating in a different time frame. So we sped up the VCR film, and in speeding it up it as all there. It's just that we couldn't see it at normal speed.
KNAPP (on camera): What did you see?
WILLIAMS: What we saw were the actual movements of the body that indicated when the animal was swimming and when he was gliding.
KNAPP (voice-over): A backward-looking camera carried by this bottlenose dolphin, records its powerful kick on the initial part of its dive.
(on camera): One of the toughest parts of the project was simply to get the instruments to stick to the back of the dolphin. To do that, they had to develop a special dorsal pack.
WILLIAMS: Dolphin skin replaces itself so quickly, nothing will stick to it. What we've all learned is some variation on suction cups. So small suction cups for dolphins, really big suction cups for a blue whale.
KNAPP (voice-over): Dolphins and other mammals may not be able to tell humans what their lives are like beneath the sea, but by giving them cameras, scientists are beginning to get the picture.
Don Knapp, CNN, Santa Cruz, California.
ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.
WALCOTT: "Worldview" takes us to Asia and Africa. We've got a sensational story in South Korea where the news is in the nose. More Internet action in South Africa: cyber biz is abuzz. And a thoughtful program in China: Is it a great leap forward for this populous nation?
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: First stop in "Worldview" is China, which traditionally keeps tight reign on free thought. The Communist Party there restricts much of what Chinese citizens can say and do publicly. The 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy uprising is one example of how the government has suppressed the free expression of thought. Another example is the government's more recent efforts to control the growing Falun Gong spiritual movement. There is, however, a new effort afoot in China that encourages free thought.
Lisa Weaver explains.
LISA WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thinking sometimes gets into a bit of a tangle in China, where students learn by rote memorization but don't always know how to apply all that knowledge. These university students in Beijing are subjects in a learning experiment, the goal to add inspiration to what they're already good at: academic excellence.
JOHN BIGGS, THINKING CORNER PROJECT: The Chinese have demonstrated they're very good at producing those kinds of results. I think there's a danger that the creative element tends to get the cotton.
WEAVER: The China division of Nokia, a cellular phone company, is sponsoring a project to encourage Chinese universities to start creative thinking clubs, mapping out the mind to find the path to a conclusion. The more unconventional, the better.
"It's the free atmosphere," says Li Oh Wah (ph), "that makes it easy to look at information in another way."
The idea is to break things down and divide the human mind into parts, like sight and touch, a sense of self, a sense of space, and lots of fun. A network of at least 10 Chinese universities are expected to participate in the project to train flexible minds for a global marketplace.
At the end of the two-day exercise, reflection is called for to determine what sank in and to construct an outsider's view of the mind. New perspectives lead to new insights. Indeed, an alternative view of how it all fits together may prepare these students for success.
Lisa Weaver, CNN, Beijing.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We're in South Africa for our next report. For the most part, South Africa is an isolated country. It sits on the southernmost tip of the African continent and is more than 6,000 miles from most of Europe, North America, and Eastern Asia, where many of South Africa's economic links are located. So it's safe to say the country relies heavily on communication. And lately, that means doing business over the Internet. How is e-commerce faring in South Africa?
Allison Tom reports on one company who's putting it to an unusual test.
ALLISON TOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Botha is being dubbed "Dotcoza." He's volunteered to be South Africa's first cyber pioneer. He spends between eight and 16 hours a day online, surviving by using only his computer and the Internet. A webcam tracks him 24 hours a day, allowing others worldwide to see him.
CHRIS BOTHA, DOTCOZA: It's been great so far. It's been something completely new and different. I'm learning a tremendous amount about e-commerce, about technology, and it's just been a really fun experience.
TOM: Botha is living in this empty house in Johannesburg for a total of three months. He arrived with only a mattress, a sleeping bag and a few clothes. Now he has an allowance of $4,000 a month to buy food, clothing and appliances from online retailers.
This experimental research project is the brainchild of Andersen Consulting. With the help of other technology companies, they hope to explore the value of electronic commerce in the region.
ERIC JACKSON, ANDERSEN CONSULTING: Right now, the Internet economy is at the tip of the iceberg and it is progressing rapidly. The issues for countries like South Africa and companies in South Africa is, how do they fit into it and how do they find the right niche for themselves?
TOM: South Africa, with a population of 40 million people, has 1.6 million Internet users to date. Researchers will be testing the efficiency and availability of different industries in South Africa, from retail to high tech, to financial services and travel.
Allison Tom, CNN.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Hot apple pie, fresh cut flowers: Hmm, you can almost smell them, can't you? We're surrounded by all kinds of smells, and it's estimated that humans can recognize up to 10,000 separate odors. But how does our sniffer work? Our sense of smell is controlled by the olfactory system, the sensory cells in the nose and the regions of the brain with which they are connected that collectively are involved in the sense of smell.
Now you know how the nose works, check out the new place you may be using it. The place you used to point and click could be the place you scratch and sniff, thanks to a new technology developed by a Korea-based company.
Denise Dillon has the details.
DILLON (voice-over): Images on the Internet can be very appealing to the eye, and now possibly the nose as well. A South Korean company called E-One has developed what it says is a "digital scent solution," adding aromas to e-mails and images like this.
The person looking at the computer will be able to smell the flowers using a special apparatus. As the character in the picture gets closer to the scene, the scent gets stronger. The scent actually comes from this box. Inside it are 20 fragrance bottles, along with a program which is the link between the image being shown on the computer and the bottled fragrances.
KIM EUN-YONG, E-ONE (through translator): Our computer reads the scent file database which the coordinates of the spot contains, and then the control program orders the system to emit proper scent.
DILLON: It took the company about eight months to develop this prototype, and it one day hopes to build a box with more fragrances -- enough to fill a place as large as a movie theater. The company also wants to use the technology to enhance television with the help of a scent camera.
JANG-EUNG-HA, E-ONE (through translator): Imagine a television station is airing a live coverage of a big fire. A scent camera can grab the smell, then analyzes the elements of the smell and transmits the file to the television station. The broadcaster sends the scent file along with video and audio to the television sets at home. Then our system inside each television set produces the smell.
DILLON: The company says television advertisers are bound to benefit form the technology -- not only enticing viewers with pictures, but the actual scent of the product as well, creating sweet- smelling commercials.
Denise Dillon, CNN.
WALCOTT: As we've seen this week, Latino or Hispanic influences in America are everywhere -- from food to fashion, and, of course, music. But when it comes to Hollywood, it's a different story.
Joel Hochmuth explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HOCHMUTH (voice-over): This movie is in production in East Los Angeles. Still, in some ways, it's a world away from the bright lights of Hollywood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to shoot a movie here, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy that!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making it happen, gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
HOCHMUTH: It's called "Road Dogz," a low-budget, independent film about three Latino friends growing up here. For actor Jacob Vargas, it's a chance to do something he's never done before: star in a movie. He's also co-producing out of frustration with the lack of opportunities for him and other Latinos in Hollywood.
JACOB VARGAS, ACTOR: I think it's an important film. I think it's one that needs to be seen because, you know, unfortunately, you know, Hollywood, you know, doesn't represent us that well sometimes. So it's, you know, I think it's up to us to really, you know, put the work out there and make these types of films.
HOCHMUTH: This is no multi-million-dollar movie set, just a simple backyard borrowed for one evening to film a party scene. And although the largely Latino cast is getting paid next to nothing, it's an opportunity Vargas couldn't pass up.
VARGAS: There just aren't well-written projects for Latinos, you know what I mean? It's usually the stereotype. It's that whole "yes, mister, si, senior" stereotype or the gangbanger. And it's just the same, recycled stuff that's happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH")
JON HUERTAS, ACTOR: What was that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOCHMUTH: The lack of opportunities for Latinos and other minorities has been a hot topic in Hollywood. A few Latinos, like Jon Huertas of ABC's "Sabrina," landed supporting roles on TV, this year, but none was cast in a leading role in any new series. Overall, according to this Screen Actors Guild report, less than 4 percent of all roles on TV or in movies go to Latino actors. That's about 1/3 their real proportion in the U.S. population.
BEL HERNANDEZ, "LATIN HEAT" MAGAZINE: It's not just about access to jobs, it's about the images that are being portrayed on television, on film. When you have our children looking at TV and all they see are the negative stereotypes, then that's all they aspire to be. HOCHMUTH: A few Latino actors have hit it big. Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas come to mind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready and action!
HOCHMUTH: But for lesser-known actors like Alex Meneses, life is full of struggle. She plays Roxie, a supporting role in the new "Flintstones" movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE FLINTSTONES 2")
ALEX MENESES, ACTRESS: I prefer cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENESES: This is one of the very few big parts for Latin for -- I mean, as far as big films are concerned, this is one of the very few parts that are out there. So I was really, really lucky to land it because everything now is like "Dawson's Creek." "Dawson's Creek" -- let's make a sitcom, "Dawson's Creek," "Felicity," and let's make it a cop show and, you know, it's like that now. So that's what's hot right now. It doesn't seem like Latins have been in.
HOCHMUTH: While roles for Latinos are rare, major films about Latino life are rarer still. There have only been about a half dozen in the past five years or so. Among the most notable: "Selena," the story about the slain Tejano singer played by Jennifer Lopez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SELENA")
VARGAS: Anything for Selena!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOCHMUTH: Vargas, who played her brother, has his theory about why there aren't more movies like this.
VARGAS: There aren't many Latino writers out there who know the culture, who know the stories. You know, they -- you know, the closest they might have to Latino is what they watch in the news or that their live-in maid, or -- you know, and that's all they see, so it's tough for them to write a realistic character.
HOCHMUTH (on camera): What do studio executives have to say about all this? Well, first of all, it's very difficult to get any to talk on camera about such a touchy subject. But privately, they say the bottom line is this is show business with the emphasis on business. Most movies with Latino themes or actors, they say, simply don't draw the audiences studios are looking for.
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS, ACTOR: I think that they have a strong argument, you know. When we have artistry that brings in $200 million, you know, at the box office just in, you know, in domestic sales at the box office, you'll see a big rush to get -- I mean, that's one thing with Hollywood: They really are only caring about one thing, and that's the color green. They love money. HOCHMUTH (voice-over): Edward James Olmos is the dean of Latino actors in Hollywood. You may remember him from the hit TV show "Miami Vice," and more recently the movie "Stand and Deliver," the inspiring story about a high school teacher in East L.A.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STAND AND DELIVER")
OLMOS: I'm a tough guy. Tough guys don't do math. Tough guys deep-fry chicken for a living. Want a wing or a leg, man?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOCHMUTH: Even a popular Latino-theme movie like that brought in just $14 million, a fraction of what blockbusters like "Titanic" and "Star Wars" bring in. Olmos says that's why independent films like "Road Dogz" are so important for Latino actors and audiences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ROAD DOGZ")
VARGAS: You don't care about who you leave behind, do you?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: That's not true.
VARGAS: Then don't worry about it. I'm getting used to people walking out of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLMOS: I love the fact that there is an independent movement and has been for quite a few years. It's -- really, it's the centering of the usage of the medium. The audio-visual event, it's is a very powerful medium. And when you have the independent movement, that gives you another voice, and so that's good.
HOCHMUTH: Olmos likes what he's seen so far of "Road Dogz," although he's concerned it could portray Latinos in stereotypical roles. The movie has its share of gang members, drug dealers and violence. Vargas doesn't apologize.
VARGAS: That's reality. When you talk to -- have these guys in the street, and they say, yes, my friend got taken out the other night. You know, my friend was hanging on the corner and he got taken out, and that's just reality. The language might be a bit strong, but that's reality.
There are doctors in East L.A., there are lawyers in East L.A., you know, there are attorneys in East L.A. This story just doesn't happen to be about that.
OLMOS: We'll all learn from this experience, and that's all that you can ask for, is just the right to learn.
HOCHMUTH: Vargas doesn't expect "Road Dogz" to become a blockbuster, he just hopes it can earn him and other Latino actors some respect and recognition. VARGAS: I think the only way I can really break into the mainstream is by doing this, is by doing your own work and showing Hollywood that there is an audience for this type of film. You know, the reason we're here is because we believe in the story, and we believe that there is something special in this, that there is an audience for this. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. Nice.
WALCOTT: Since we first aired this story, producers have wrapped up filming of "Road Dogz." It'll be shown at the New York Latino film festival next month. And who knows? If it gets picked up by a distributor, it could wind up at a movie theater near you.
And that winds things up for us here. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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