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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 9, 2000

Aired May 9, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to NEWSROOM for Tuesday. Glad you're with us. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes.

We lead off today with the questioning of a man in connection with that computer virus known as the "Love Bug."

BAKHTIAR: In today's news, is this the man who sent the "ILOVEYOU" virus to millions of e-mail users around the world?

HAYNES: Keeping you healthy is the aim of today's "Desk." We'll see what mice can tell us about our own stress levels.




AOEE: Real mellow. We call these Southern California mice.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview," the devastating effects of biological terrorism. Is there a risk it could happen someday?


MIKE OSTERHOLM, INFECTIOUS CONTROL ADVISORY NET.: A biologic terrorism event will happen. I have absolutely no doubt about that.


HAYNES: In "Chronicle," a force to be reckoned with. You'll meet a new generation of California voters.


MIGUEL HUITZIL, CALIFORNIA VOTER: Yes, it's noticeable that more Latinos are out going to vote. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: We begin hot on the trail of the "love letter" that wreaked havoc on computers worldwide. Authorities in the Philippines believe they've zeroed in on the creators of the worst computer virus to hit Internet users yet. The "Love Bug" bit hard when it invaded computers around the world in an e-mail carrying the subject line, "ILOVEYOU". Once activated, the virus sent copies to Internet users, overwhelming computers networks and destroying files, shutting down e- mail systems at major companies from the CIA to the British Parliament. The cost of the bite so far: billions of dollars and counting.

Meanwhile, people in Japan on vacation when the "ILOVEYOU" virus first surfaced Thursday began the work week yesterday to face the dreaded love letter.


MITSUHIRO SOMEYA, TREND MICRO JAPAN (through translator): If this had happened during one of our work days, it is easy to imagine many individuals or companies would have opened the virus attachment after seeing the "ILOVEYOU" subject line. So, in many ways, we have been saved by the holidays.


BAKHTIAR: While many in Japan were breathing a sigh of relief, elsewhere in Asia, investigators tracked the bug's origin to the Philippines to an apartment in Manila. Authorities have detained one of the residents of the apartment: bank employee Reomel Ramones.

Maria Ressa picks up the story.


MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police and agents from the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation moved into this lower middle-class neighborhood. They say they suspect the fastest- moving virus ever to hit the Internet was created on a computer in this apartment.

When 27-year-old Reomel Ramones arrived home, he was bewildered. He stood on the street watching agents and journalists outside his door. He tried to walk away when reporters began asking questions. Then his cell phone rang. During his conversation, he asked the person on the other end to bring the lawyer. Then agents from the National Bureau of Investigation grabbed him and tried to take his phone away.

As agents took him to his door, reporters asked if he's responsible for the virus. Agents searched the home, confiscating computer diskettes and other materials, in their words, "inviting" Ramones for further questioning. The agents would not say whether they found a computer during their search. Without an arrest warrant, authorities can detain him for up to 36 hours; then they must either file charges or let him go.

Soon after, Philippine officials announced Ramones' girlfriend, Irene de Guzman, would appear for questioning. De Guzman is one of at least three people believed to live in the apartment.

DIOMEDIA OPINION, DIR., PHILIPPINE NATL. BUR. OF INVESTIGATION: After investigation, we will file the necessary charges, the appropriate charges in the light of the evidence that will be gathered.

RESSA: Investigators point out that anyone who had access to the computer they pinpointed could have created the virus.


BAKHTIAR: As of 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, which is 11:00 a.m. in the Philippines, Ramones' girlfriend Irene de Guzman had not yet turned herself in for questioning. Guzman's sister, who recently graduated from a computer school, is believed to live in that apartment as well. She has yet to be questioned. Ramones' relatives say she may be the one to blame.

Now, you know what interested me, Tom, is how quickly they zeroed in on these guys.

HAYNES: Computers can reveal a lot about people, I'll tell you that much.

Listen, the technical terms in today's top story can be a little confusing, so let's sort it all out. First, what is a computer virus? Well, it's part of a program code designed to copy itself into other codes or files. A virus often multiplies until it destroys data or renders other program codes meaningless.

Now, hacking is a way a virus enters into a computer. The hacker modifies a program by changing its program code. Finding the source of a virus and catching hackers can be just as tough as figuring out the jargon.

Pierre Thomas shows us how it can be done.


PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With so many computers infected, the investigative trail can look like an endless maze.

MARK RASCH, COMPUTER SECURITY EXPERT: The first problem you have is you have literally millions of victims.

THOMAS: The first step for investigators: analyze the virus code or digital DNA left in the memory of infected computers to see if there are leads. In the "Love Bug case, the code told investigators the virus probably started in the Philippines, and it gave the computer name of a user -- in this case, "Spyder." But those leads from the code can sometimes be smokescreens. MICHAEL VATIS, FBI NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION CENTER: It's very easy for cyber-criminals to spoof their identity, to make themselves appear to be coming from one place when they're, in fact, coming from someplace else.

THOMAS (on camera): To help narrow the search, police focus on when and where the first reports of the virus came in, and which Internet service provider companies were used in the attack.

(voice-over): Those service providers -- companies like America Online -- in turn, begin their own inquiries. They backtrack, trying to see where the electronic commands impacting their accounts came from.

RASCH: What companies do is they maintain logs of Internet access. Some companies even keep phone logs so they know what phone number you used when you dialed in. Those kind of records can tie an individual hacker to an incident or event.

THOMAS: In part, that's what happened in the investigation of the Melissa virus, which affected thousands of computers last year and caused more than $80 million in damages. According to law enforcement sources, David Smith, the man convicted of creating the Melissa virus, hijacked the account of an AOL user. AOL kept records of who had accessed the user's account. Within days, police tracked the incursion back to Smith's phone number.

In the case of the "Love Bug, Filipino police found their suspects after the Manila-based Internet service providers, Sky Internet and Impact, used caller ID to find the origin of an attack on their accounts. Within 12 hours of the first "Love Bug" attack, police had the apartment of their suspects under surveillance.

Pierre Thomas, CNN, Washington.,


BAKHTIAR: Once a suspected hacker has been nabbed, prosecuting that person is a whole different story. Some experts say international law has not kept pace with the technological advances of the Internet. We'll look at that tomorrow in an "At Issue" report from Charles Bierbauer.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We're following a couple of other stories in today's news. First, in Sierra Leone, violence is escalating in the capital city, Freetown. Rebel soldiers there took to the streets yesterday, gunning down at least four protesters. Security in the country is deteriorating rapidly. The United Nations ordered the evacuation of most of its civilian staff and hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers are missing or are being held hostage by rebel forces. Britain is responding to the situation in Sierra Leone by dispatching hundreds of troops.

For more background on Sierra Leone, check out yesterday's NEWSROOM. In New York, hundreds of mourners stood outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in sweltering heat to bid farewell to Cardinal John O'Connor. Cardinal O'Connor died last week from complications from brain cancer. Dignitaries and other invited guests filled the church. Among those in attendance, U.S. President and Mrs. Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, former President Bush, and his son George W. Bush.

Pope John Paul II sent his second in command to preside over the service. Dozens of cardinals, archbishops, bishops and hundreds of priests also attended.

HAYNES: Hey, you guys remember that song, "Don't Worry, be Happy"? Has anyone ever said to you, hey, lighten up. What do you have to worry about? Well, it's easy for them to say, right? After all, you're the one dealing with homework, relationships, maybe even a job. Who said being a teenager's easy anyway? This period in your life is no doubt stressful.

Now, stress is a factor that causes mental or physical tension and may even make you sick. How do you identify stress? Here are some tell-tale signs: You're irritable and you have problems sleeping and eating.

All right, you've learned a lot about stress and the question remains, how do you handle it? Some California scientists and a lab full of mice are trying to figure out the same thing.

Ann Kellan has their story.


KELLAN (voice-over): Could we survive in this world without stress? Scientists at San Diego's Salk Institute are studying that, and why, as this popular image from a Web site illustrates, some people cope with stress better then others.

(on camera): This one's another one?

(voice-over): Researcher Kuofen Aoee isolated a stress gene in mice and removed that gene from some.

(on camera): Are they mellow?


KELLAN: Real mellow?

AOEE: Real mellow. We call these Southern California mice.

KELLAN (voice-over): The mellow mouse without the stress gene is more bold, ventures out and explores the edges of this plank without hesitation, while the normal mouse hunkers down, more stressed and cautious about its new environment.

Less stress sounds good. Turns out the mellow mice have shorter life spans, according to Lee; 20 percent didn't even reach adulthood. (on camera): They just dropped dead?

AOEE: Dropped dead, yes.

KELLAN: Is that saying that we do need stress in our lives?

AOEE: That's right -- a little bit.

KELLAN (voice-over): Without the stress gene, the mellow mice didn't flee from danger and had trouble coping with stressful situations, more reasons for their early demise.

So some stress is necessary, but too much of the rat race is unhealthy as well.

Aoee hopes by studying mice, scientists will better understand why some people handle stress better than others, how drugs could better help those who don't handle stress well, and how much stress can be too much.

Ann Kellan, CNN, San Diego, California.


BAKHTIAR: OK, guys, get a grip on your stress because "Worldview" today is really stressful. You'll hear about a biological weapon which could pose terrible problems around the world. But don't panic. Scientists are already working on solutions, and many say this problem shouldn't even make your worry list. Still, we want to warn you, our report is disturbing and teachers may want to pre-screen today's "Worldview" segment.

Most likely, you've never had a vaccination for smallpox. But once upon a time, it was commonplace. Back in 1980, the World Health Organization announced smallpox had been eliminated, and vaccinations throughout the world were stopped.

Smallpox was the first disease conquered by human beings. But before it was wiped out, it was one of the most feared diseases around the globe. During the Middle Ages, epidemics swept across Asia, Europe and Africa. In some wars, more soldiers died from smallpox than from combat.

The Europeans brought smallpox to America where it killed millions of Indians. Now, the threat is back.

As Garrick Utley reports, there is new evidence the disease could be used as a biological weapon. And a disease out of sight and out of mind for over two decades would not be easily recognizable.

Teachers might want to pre-screen this report.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We see what terrorists can do with explosives, with bombs that bring down buildings, that ignite carnage, that consume lives.

But imagine a terrorist weapon more dangerous than any explosive, thousands of times more deadly in the hands of a Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden or Ted Kaczynski, a weapon so small that you can't see it at first, a biological weapon: smallpox.

The disease has been eradicated, but not the smallpox virus, which was originally preserved in laboratories in the United States and Russia solely for research reasons, but now may have been obtained for other purposes by nations such as North Korea and Iraq.

OSTERHOLM: A biologic terrorism event will happen. I have absolutely no doubt about that, and I say that will all the hope that I'm wrong.

UTLEY: There are several potential biological killers, including anthrax and plague. But Mike Osterholm, who runs the Infectious Control Advisory Network, is most worried about smallpox.

OSTERHOLM: Without a doubt, smallpox is by far the most serious of all the weapons. The fact that smallpox is able to be transmitted as a second, third, fourth round after the initial hit, it's like the bomb that keeps going off.

RICHARD PRESTON, "THE NEW YORKER": Ounce for ounce, gram for gram, smallpox is far more dangerous than plutonium.

UTLEY: Richard Preston of "The New Yorker" magazine has investigated and written about smallpox.

PRESTON: It is highly contagious. It travels through the air. One person infected with smallpox can easily infect 20 to 30 more people.

UTLEY (on camera): And that's how it spreads.

PRESTON: It spreads like wildfire.

UTLEY (voice-over): And the effects are deadly. First, the victim's skin essentially explodes, then internal hemorrhaging follows.

Consider this: In the 20th century, it was estimated that 120 million people died in wars or as a result of wars. In the same century, more than 500 million people died of smallpox.

D.A. HENDERSON, PROF., JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV.: Smallpox was probably the most greatly feared of all the diseases that we have.

UTLEY: D.A. Henderson led the worldwide effort against smallpox in the 1970s. The last reported case was in Somalia in 1977. He has seen what this disease can do.

HENDERSON: There was no treatment that was possible, and it spread in every country, in every climate. Eventually, everyone either contracted smallpox and lived or died. UTLEY: In 1796, an effective smallpox vaccine was developed in England by Edward Jenner, yet it was nearly two centuries until the disease was finally eradicated. When that was achieved, the vaccinations stopped.

By the late 1970s, smallpox was out of sight and out of most people's minds. That was until Ken Alibek defected to the United States in 1992. A high-level scientist in the Soviet Union's bioweapons program, Alibek revealed that the Soviets had realized there was no longer any protection against smallpox and decided to turn the virus into a weapon.

KEN ALIBEK, AUTHOR, "BIOHAZARD": Sometime in '80s, they had up to 20 tons of stockpiled biological weapons.

UTLEY (on camera): Twenty tons?

ALIBEK: Twenty tons.

UTLEY: That would be enough to do what?

ALIBEK: It's very difficult to calculate, but I would say for destroying such a city like New York, it be would be enough to have several hundred liters of this weapon.

UTLEY: And there were 20 tons.

ALIBEK: There were 20 tons.

UTLEY (voice-over): In his book, "Biohazard," Alibek writes that although the Soviet Union played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox, although the Soviets agreed in 1972 to stop biochemical weapons research and production, the smallpox weapons program continued in secret, even during Mikhail Gorbachev's proclaimed openness and reforms, and may even be continuing today.

ALIBEK: In my opinion, what I believe, Russia is still not honest. The Russian military still has four biological weapons facilities as top secret facilities.

HENDERSON: And needless to say, I feel anger and disappointment with our Soviet colleagues. We all worked together to get rid of this disease, and then to have them do what they did, I find this unconscionable.

UTLEY (on camera): There's great concern that these biological weapons, above all, smallpox, could get out of Russian control, get into the hands of someone such as a terrorist and be used. To what extent do you consider this to be a real -- a clear and present danger?

ALIBEK: In my opinion, it's a clear and present danger. A lot of terrorist organizations, many so-called "rogue countries," realize that biological weapons could be the weapons of choice just to commit some terrorist attacks. OSTERHOLM: A number of years ago when this first became an issue, there were those of us in the public health community who were very reluctant to talk about this because we didn't want to incite something, we didn't want to give the bad guys information. Well, we found out the bad guys all had it, that we were the ones that didn't really know about it.

UTLEY: If you were infected with the smallpox virus today, you probably would have a bad cough, run a fever and develop a rash, and go to your doctor or a hospital's emergency room for treatment. Unfortunately, the doctor, no matter how competent, would almost certainly never have seen a case of smallpox, and most likely would diagnose it as the flu.

HENDERSON: Then there would be some small lesions on the skin. You wouldn't be sure what they were for maybe two, three, four days.

PRESTON: Could be measles, could be a little itch, could be anything, but then the rash just gets worse and worse and worse until the skin on the body just bubbles up with enormous pustuals that look like blisters.

HENDERSON: And then in two, three, four days, you'd begin to see -- it would becomes evident that this wasn't chickenpox, it wasn't a drug rash, had to be smallpox.

UTLEY: And you'd be scared.

HENDERSON: We'd be terrified because each of those individuals, then, is in a position to transmit it to another group of people.

UTLEY (voice-over): That is why, in this era of more open borders and increased travel, public health experts are so worried about smallpox.

OSTERHOLM: To be able to move smallpox simply means to have a device within a writing ink pen that could very easily pass in any customs office, could very easily pass through any metal detector, and you can have enough smallpox in there to start the world's first epidemic.

HENDERSON: It would quickly evaporate into the air, and then it would begin to drift. The individuals would breathe this in. You wouldn't smell it, you wouldn't know it was there.

OSTERHOLM: If a smallpox virus release were to occur today in any mall in the world, were to occur in any airport, it would be two weeks before we'd have our first evidence that that was occurring, and those people would be like dandelion seeds in the wind -- they'd be all over. Each of them now is as infectious as that first initial hit was.

DR. JEFFREY KOPLAN, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: I would not put smallpox on my list of daily -- on everyone else's list of daily worries. UTLEY: Dr. Jeffrey Koplan is the director of the federal agency, the Centers for Disease Control. Early in his career, he treated smallpox.

KOPLAN: We need to keep in mind that smallpox is treatable; not treatable as a disease, but preventable. And in the early stages of the disease, the vaccine can be effective in aborting an outbreak.

UTLEY: Twenty years ago, a terrorist smallpox attack on the United States or any industrialized nation would have had little impact because everyone was inoculated against it. Today, virtually no one is. And those of us who were are most likely no longer immune.

The United States has, at most, 15 million doses of vaccine, not nearly enough, public health authorities say, to combat a serious outbreak of the disease.

KOPLAN: We're doing some studies now to see whether we can extend that to a larger number of usable doses. Nevertheless, I think, for the long term, we would probably want to have on stock a somewhat larger repository.

HENDERSON: I think many of us feel that if we had somewhere between 100 million and 130 million doses, that we would be well- prepared to deal with any situation.

KOPLAN: Producing smallpox vaccine is a high priority for us. And, indeed, we've just recently put out a request for companies to send us proposals to produce vaccine. We would have to produce new vaccine, and there's no vaccine manufacturing company currently producing vaccine, so we're talking about a couple of years or maybe a few more than that.

OSTERHOLM: The vaccine issue is a sad state of affairs in this country. We have been talking about this issue since the mid-1990s in a very high level, knowing very well that every day that we wasted on not getting more vaccine produced was one more day that we were very vulnerable.

UTLEY: Behind the debate over what to do about a potential smallpox threat are the reminders of what that threat, the disease, once meant, and the awareness of how the current danger might have been avoided. When smallpox disappeared, the last remaining viruses in laboratories could have been destroyed, too. They were not.

PRESTON: There was a golden moment there. At that time, if they had gone and they had said, let's just destroy our smallpox, it might well have been done. Now the opportunity is lost, and I feel that smallpox is here to stay.

OSTERHOLM: If there's even a potential that smallpox is going to get out, that will be a Pandora's Box that we will never, ever forget.

KOPLAN: It's hard to imagine someone with enough evil intent to want to do that to other people, but we live in a real world and evil things are happening all the time, and we need to be prepared for it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

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

HAYNES: Well, time for our weekly dose of political fare by checking in with a growing contingent of U.S. voters. Latinos have issues important to them, such as bilingual education and immigration law. They look to politicians who have their issues in mind. And more and more, politicians are looking to them.

As of July 1999, 31.4 million Hispanics lived in America, making up 11.5 percent of the total population, with an average age of nearly 29. We learned in our series "Viviendo en America" last week Hispanic Americans are overtaking African Americans as the largest minority group in the U.S. You can check your classroom guide or last week's programs for more information on that.

Now, more information on Hispanic-American impact on campaign 2000, here's Jennifer Auther.


JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A poll released in Los Angeles shows California's Latino voter rolls have increased by about one million over the past decade.

HUITZIL: In my own community, yes, it's noticeable that more Latinos are out going to vote.

AUTHER: And pollsters say these new voters are very different in one important respect.

MARK DECAMILLO, DIR., FIELD POLL: Much younger. Half of these new registrants are under the age of 30; 44 percent are immigrants -- first generation immigrants to the United States. Their socioeconomic profile is somewhat lower than other Latinos who are already on the rolls.

AUTHER: Latino registration now runs nearly three to one Democratic here. And few would argue, a Republican gets the credit.

PROF. LOUIS NEGRETE, CALIF. STATE UNIVERSITY, LOS ANGELES: Governor Wilson was the most hated politician among Latino voters in California because of his anti-immigrant, anti-affirmative action, and anti-bilingual education postures.

AUTHER: Longtime GOP Governor Pete Wilson pushed for Proposition 187 that would have denied numerous state services to illegal immigrants. The measure passed in 1994, but courts have blocked its enforcement. Half the 2.35 million Latinos registered after Prop. 187 passed in 1994. It's a problem not lost on the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, George W. Bush. A popular figure among Latinos in his own state, he's running TV ads to introduce himself here.

For his part, Democratic Vice President Al Gore brought a bilingual message to a three-week long janitors strike in L.A. a few weeks ago.

NEGRETE: I think Gore moved too fast on the Elian Gonzalez case because, in the Latino community, family unity is very, very important.

AUTHER (on camera): One thing, Latino activists say, is clear: Unless they build a permanent, independent base of an organized Latino electorate, all the attention this constituency now enjoys could easily become a passing fancy.

Jennifer Auther, CNN, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: Did you see that -- Gore speaking Spanish?

HAYNES: Both of them speaking Spanish. It's kind of funny seeing politicians speaking another language. You just don't think of that. I don't know.

BAKHTIAR: Well, it goes to show you how important the Latino community is becoming.

HAYNES: Yes, they'll be an impact on campaign 2000, that's for sure.

BAKHTIAR: And that does it for us here.

HAYNES: It sure does. We'll see you tomorrow. Take care.




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