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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 19, 2000

Aired May 19, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to your Friday NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

We'll show you TV without pictures, give you a taste of Cajun flavor, and paint you a pretty picture. But first up, you've got a ticket to ride.

Today's news starts with a mission out of this world.


JIM HALSELL, ATLANTIS COMMANDER: The reason we're flying this flight on this date is to extend the life of the space station.


WALCOTT: In "Editor's Desk," we ask you to open your mind, close your eyes, and imagine us without pictures.

OK, Cher, are you ready to let the good times roll? because "Worldview" is headed to Cajun country.


HELEN JEANNE BOUDREAUX, TRUCK DRIVER: Our Cajun music connects. It has everything to do with the food we eat, gratons and budin, gumbo. And it's just like Cajun music: It's all together, and this is our culture here.


WALCOTT: From the southern United States to the New England states, NEWSROOM ends up on canvas.


KEVIN SHEA, ARTIST: As an artist, I try to strip away my preconceived ideas: the sky is blue or the snow is white.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: In our top story today, plagued by bad weather and an injured commander, shuttle Atlantis' trip to the International Space Station, now desperately in need of supplies, kept getting the boot. And after several delays, Atlantis was scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today.

Russia put the first piece of the space station into orbit in November 1998. But because of delays by the Russians, no other major parts have been added and a permanent crew will not be moving in until November at the earliest. That's two and a half years behind schedule. Now the international space station is running short of power and slowly losing orbit.

Miles O'Brien reports on how this mission plans to revitalize the space station.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By now, the $60 billion International Space Station should have looked like this. Instead, it remains like this -- a fledgling, and an ailing one at that. So the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Atlantis is making an urgent house call.

HALSELL: The reason we're flying this flight on this date is to extend the life of the space station.

O'BRIEN: The station was supposed to be home and office to a three-person Russian and American crew by now. The reason for the delay: The Russian-built crew quarters, the so-called service module, has not been put into service due to a lack of cash and confidence in the proton rocket that will carry it into space. The Russians now say they have their act together and the service module will fly in mid- July.

But meanwhile, the manufacturer's warranty on the station has expired.

SCOTT HOROWITZ, ATLANTIS PILOT: So our job is to go up and replace these serviceable items, fix a few items that have failed, and basically get the station in a posture where it's ready to receive the service module, which will lead onto what our mission originally was going to be.

O'BRIEN: This mission was supposed to fly after the service module docked at the station, so the crew had been trained to activate it for the first station keepers. When NASA managers re-jiggered the schedule and the mission in February, they took the three service module experts off the flight. They were replaced with a crew scheduled to live aboard the space station next year.

HALSELL: We literally lived together and trained together, spending in some cases more time with each other than we do with our own families for more than a year. So there were some close bonds there and it was, from a psychological point of view, it was a difficult transition to make. Miles O'Brien, CNN, at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: In the headlines today, unrest in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade. Rioters unhappy with the government's crackdown on four main media outlets clashed with police Thursday. Authorities accuse the broadcasters of calling for an uprising.


GEORGE BRYANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The government says the crackdown is necessary, and has been threatening action against opposition groups since Saturday's killing of a leading supporter of President Slobodan Milosevic in Novi Sad. The Yugoslav president blames opposition groups for the killing, a claim they deny.

International reaction to the crackdown has been swift. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe condemned the move and is planning to ask Russia to use its influence to end the standoff.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said Belgrade's move to silence criticism of the government, quote, "smacks of Bolshevik-style oppression."


JORDAN: Also making news, U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has released a preliminary report on what started the devastating fire in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Babbitt says the fire deliberately set to burn underbrush ran out of control leaving 405 families homeless.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The report gives a damning account of the National Park Service which planned and then set the fire. Investigators said the staff failed to properly plan for the burn. that once the fire started they didn't stick with the plan, and that the blueprint never received an objective preview from higher-ups.

The investigators also found the National Park Service workers grossly underestimated the fire's ability to get out of control, and as a result didn't have enough assets to stop it.

The report also concluded the National Weather Service failed to warn of high winds at the time of the prescribed burn, saying simply:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The piece about the wind was missing.

SAVIDGE: The National Weather Service angrily disputes that portion of the report, saying the command staff at Bandelier was warned in two different forecasts of the strong winds, especially for the day the fire went out of control.


WALCOTT: OK, it's story time. Work with me here. It's Christmas and snow is falling. You go to church and look at a nativity scene and hear stories about three wise men who traveled from afar on a camel to visit the infant Jesus as he lay in a manger. Well, the truth is, the Bible has none of those details. It doesn't really say how many wise men came, nor even how they came. The embellishments have been added over the years, products of storytellers' imaginations.

Many stories have similar roots and are called folk tales, oral narratives that do not have one author and are shaped by storytellers over time.

As Garrick Utley tells us, the modern era of TV and motion pictures is leaving little to the imagination and changing the way we tell stories.


KIM HUNTER, ACTRESS: What did you do with it?


HUNTER: You burned it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what else could I do?

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the beginning, as has been written, was the word, words spoken by a storyteller.

HIMAN BROWN, RADIO PRODUCER: So the storyteller was a wandering spokesman who took the current events or took historical events and made them living dramas for the moment.

HUNTER: A spectacular event had just occurred.

UTLEY: Himan Brown believes in the power of the spoken story. He began in radio back in 1927 and is still producing drama for the ear and mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the drain pipe. We're pulling it away from the wall. We have to jump down now!

UTLEY: In the 73 years between then and now, Brown created legendary programs, including "The Thin Man," "Nero Wolf," and most unforgettable of all, "Inner Sanctum," which created its own memorable image.

BROWN: The creak of the "Inner Sanctum" door said to me, once that door creaks open and I say, "welcome to the Inner Sanctum," I've got you doing my job.

UTLEY (on camera): The mind creates the image. Of course, once we see pictures, we no longer need to imagine them. They are simply there. But in today's visual age of movies and nonstop television news, something else is changing: how stories are being told and who is telling them.

HUNTER: I remember when I saw him for the first time, he seemed to be very young.

UTLEY (voice-over): Kim Hunter appeared in the original Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1947. She won an Academy Award for her role in the film. She has seen what has happened to traditional drama.

HUNTER: Particularly in films, I think, but it happens also in theater, I guess. They have gone on to excite people rather than to involve them.

UTLEY: Today, it is real-life drama played out on live television that is bringing the most dramatic changes in storytelling.

BROWN: We have created a new form of theater in this special kind of reportage. There is no question in my mind.

UTLEY: The theater of Elian Gonzalez, where writers don't plot the drama, events do; where people speak their own dialogue. Those who call this the New Age soap opera are onto something.

BROWN: The little boy is a very touching picture, and Monica was a very touching picture. They become part of your life if you're putting them on often enough. Now, maybe that's the way drama will go.

UTLEY: If this is the way drama is going, on-screen drama in which almost anyone can claim a microphone and a supporting role, what is lost, according to Hi Brown, is the richness of what we don't see: fantasy.

BROWN: That doesn't exist in television. Fantasy is a very private development in our culture for each single person. I quote you from a letter that a little boy wrote me, 9 years old: "I love radio because I can see the pictures better." We're working here with the imagination -- the theater of the imagination.

UTLEY: And even as drama takes on new forms and new, real-life actors, it is this theater of the mind that has kept Hi Brown going strong, telling stories for more than 70 years.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.


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

WALCOTT: It's time for celebrating on "Worldview," so get set for the festivities. We head to Cajun country in the United States for a peek at the culture and the cuisine. You'll get your fill of music, dance and more, and a bit of history to boot. We'll also travel to Thailand for a holiday that's wet and wild, but also steeped in tradition. RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We begin in Thailand, a tropical country in Asia. Known as Siam for most of its history, it's the only nation in Southeast Asia that has never been ruled by a Western power. The people of Thailand date their history to the founding of a kingdom called Sukhothai in 1238 A.D. The people who founded the kingdom called themselves the Thai, meaning free.

About 95 percent of Thai people are Buddhists and believe that people can obtain perfect peace and happiness by freeing themselves from worldly desires. Although most of the Thai people are farmers and live in small, rural villages, Thailand has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Now we head to Thailand where a centuries-old tradition is making a splash.

Elina Fuhrman reports.


ELINA FUHRMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a new year celebration Thai style. Armed with buckets, hoses and water guns, Thais of all ages spill out across the country drenching one another in a nationwide free-for-all.

The much-anticipated Songkran Water Festival is an annual event marking the end of the old lunar year and the beginning of the new year. But it is also an important Buddhist holiday.

KRUEANGUWAN KHRAIMOON, FESTIVAL PARTICIPANT (through translator): In the past, it was meant to ask for blessing from the elderly, or among friends we pour a little bit of water politely to bless for the new year. But now it is not the way it was. I think it will be very beautiful and civilized ceremony if we can bring back what we did in the past.

FUHRMAN: Respecting the past, it is the elderly who celebrate Songkran by praying at their local temples. There, they offer food to the monks and clean statues of Buddha in a way prescribed by tradition.

But the young people like to celebrate Songkran in a less formal and more spirited fashion.

BHICHAI RATTAKUL, THAI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We have to accept the reality that the new custom is for the things we have to change. Nothing is static, like the teaching of Buddha. Nothing is static. Everything has to change for better, for worse. But this culture, this tradition is good, so we should be keeping this to be for our children and grandchildren, to observe this Songkran new year.

FUHRMAN: The fact that the festival comes at the hottest time of the year makes the centuries-old tradition a splash for people and animals alike.

Elina Fuhrman, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: From a festival in Thailand, we head inside North America to the Cajun country of the southern U.S. The Cajun people are natives of Louisiana and Texas who are descendants of French settlers called Acadians. Their culture is heavily steeped in its French heritage. Many Cajuns speak both English and a French dialect that uses words no longer used by other French-speaking people.

The Cajuns' Creole cooking is known for various spicy dishes like gumbo and jambalaya. From the spicy patter of their patois to the hot sounds of a Zydeco band, Cajun culture has a unique sound.

And as Larry Woods reports, one Louisiana woman is busy making some hot music of her own.


BOUDREAUX: Now I'm going do a little bit of two-step music. Everybody get up and dance.

LARRY WOODS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't coax Cajuns to dance at Mulate's Restaurant in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. It's what they come here to do on a Friday or Saturday night. That, and relish mounds of crawfish, budin, and shrimp bathed in tangy Tabasco.

They also come to be entertained by one of their own: Helen Jeanne Boudreaux, who's known around this part of the country as the Catahoola Cajun Truck-Driving Mama. Quickly translated, Catahoola is her home town, Cajun her pride and heritage. She's a mother eight times over. And as for the truck driving, well, she invited us to her home to see the memorabilia collected from 10 years as a lady trucker rolling across the nation in the 1980s.

(on camera): Oh, you drove the big rigs.

BOUDREAUX: Yes, whole tankers. Done all 48 and Canada. And I loved every mile I ever ran. I loved being a truck driver.

WOODS: You miss it?

BOUDREAUX: Oh, I sure do miss it.

WOODS (voice-over): Her small trailer resembles a cluttered museum. Gadgets and trinkets and items brushed with the residue of personal history crowd each other for space. I was curious how she was greeted and treated on the road by the close-knit male fraternity of truckers.

BOUDREAUX: It was pretty rough out there. But I didn't want nobody's job, I just wanted to do mine. I wanted to be able to come home. I'd raised my family on welfare and food stamps and I wanted to bring home a paycheck and make sure we lived all right. I used to love to pick up stuff...

WOODS: Helen unraveled her experiences on the road and growing up poor and a battered wife in a vanity publication entitled "Cajun Survivor," now listed with Barnes & Noble on the Web.

The lady from Catahoola turned 61 on March 14. None of her four ex-husbands were on hand, but most of her 20 grandchildren were.

(on camera): Now, Helen Boudreaux can live without driving a big rig from here to Seattle and back, but we suspect she'd have a hard time doing without or not being a part of her beloved Cajun music.

(voice-over): Four years ago, on a makeshift outdoor stage, Ms. Boudreaux started gathering youngsters to play the instruments and music of their Cajun ancestors at a monthly jam session. They've been at it ever since.

BOUDREAUX: We had so many kids out here playing Cajun music, and there was no outlet for them. They couldn't go play with the bands in bars. Wouldn't nobody harm, they were kids. And it's just blossomed since. It's gotten bigger and better every year.

Our Cajun music connects. It has everything to do with what -- the food we eat, gratons and budin, gumbo. And it's just like Cajun music. It's all together. And this is our culture here.

WOODS: To perpetuate that culture and preserve its language, says Helen, the young musicians are urged to sing in French. Eight- year-old Hunter Hayes (ph) personifies what Helen envisions in keeping alive the legacy of Cajun music and words. Others, including record companies, see the gifted youngster as a rising star.

BOUDREAUX: He's wonderful. He's a wonderful child. He doesn't see himself above anybody. All these kids that play music, he sees himself at their level. He's a kid just like them.

WOODS: But Helen Boudreaux doesn't just encourage kids to speak French. Every week, she meets informally with adults to sing and tell stories in the Cajuns' native language, which dates back to the 1700s.

Businessmen Dale Savoir (ph), Lester Gauthier and Ray Bordeaulon (ph) are frequent troubadours who join Helen on the back porch of the Bayou Budin Restaurant. Like her, they are supportive of the schools in the area that are trying to preserve the French influence in Louisiana.

LESTER GAUTHIER, BUSINESSMAN: The real problem, though, is that in any generation, whereas I speak French, my children cease to speak French, then we cut the line going back to the 1700s. That would be horrible.

BOUDREAUX: OK, well, let Ross do a couple of songs, and then you can come back on the truck, OK?

WOODS: But as long as the lady from Catahoola is around, maybe that won't happen.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plans. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

WALCOTT: Although art may always be a mere imitation, that doesn't seem to stop man from trying. Take the Shea family. For them, art is in the blood -- a skill and a passion handed down from generation to generation.

Our Michael McManus traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to visit with a father and son who found their calling on canvas.


K. SHEA: I feel like it was a calling. Some of my earliest memories are of the time we spent along the coast of Maine.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kevin Shea and his father Paul share many things, but two stand out. One is a love for New England.

PAUL SHEA, ARTIST: I love the streets of Boston. I love the people here.

MCMANUS: The other is a love of painting it.

K. SHEA: I like to paint a lot of different subject matter: city, land, sea and mountain.

MCMANUS: Kevin and his father both grew up in New England. And together with Kevin's grandfather and Paul's father, Casimere (ph), the Shea's have been transferring real life onto canvas for three generations.

P. SHEA: I remember when he was a little fellow and I used to take him painting with me, and it was a grand experience.

K. SHEA: A lot of what he's taught me kind of lives and moves on in my work. He gave me the ethic, the work ethic to painting.

MCMANUS: They both covet the artistic talent, but realize it was the early work of Casimere that helped fill their canvases with color.

P. SHEA: I lived in the shadow of his paintbrush. I watched him draw, was amazed at the beautiful things that he could accomplish.

K. SHEA: My grandfather was an illustrator. Early in this century, he was hired to make illustrations for the phone company to get businessmen to use the phone instead of sending letters.

MCMANUS: Those pictures worked. Nearly 100 years later, Kevin isn't drawing pictures pitching phone use. Instead, he's using the telephone line via his computer to sell paintings over the Web.

K. SHEA: All these kind of jazzy colors in there.

MCMANUS: Though they appreciate each other's stroke of the brush, there are creative differences.

P. SHEA: The way you look at them if you want to smooth them out, I see -- put them down the way I see them.

MCMANUS (on camera): Kevin and Paul may differ when it comes to brush strokes and painting styles, but there's one thing they have in common, and that's painting in whatever Mother Nature can throw at them.

P. SHEA: You feel the wind, you feel the rain, you feel everything. There's nothing like the light you get out here, either.

K. SHEA: This is a painting of a winter scene on Boston Common, and it was done in frigid, ice-cold weather. I used hot water and we applied the hot water to the canvas with color, and it freezes right away.

MCMANUS (voice-over): The Shea's work has been featured in galleries, banks and insurance companies. But the most rewarding effort is one that doesn't make a penny for either artist.

LYNDIA DOWNIE, PRESIDENT, PINE STREET INN: We opened a permanent house for homeless men and women with AIDS and Kevin went over and painted it and made a very nice holiday scene out of it. And it was both a fund-raiser, but a way for us to talk about that particular house, that we needed support there.

MCMANUS: For the Shea family, love of community has been just as important as their love of painting.

K. SHEA: We share emotions, we share certain responses to nature and color, and I feel that, as the artist, I come along and translate some of that universal language onto canvas.

P. SHEA: I live by the brush, and for me it's made me a very happy person.

Michael McManus, CNN NEWSROOM, Boston, Massachusetts.


WALCOTT: Well, if you've ever recorded your favorite songs from the radio onto a blank tape, you'll understand why MP3s are all the rage. But next week, CNN Student Bureau looks into the controversy surrounding MP3s and finds out why not everyone is a fan. That's on May 22 right here on NEWSROOM.

And from all of us here on the show, have a great weekend.



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