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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for June 27, 2000

Aired June 27, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: It's Tuesday here on NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: I'm Andy Jordan. We begin with one of the most important discoveries of mankind.

BAKHTIAR: In today's top story, a rough draft is in. How will this blueprint change life as we know it.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must ensure that new genome science and its benefits will be directed toward making life better for all citizens of the world, never just a privileged few.


JORDAN: In "Health Desk," are we losing the battle against bacteria?


DR. STUART LEVY, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: We have patients in the United States dying from infections that are untreatable. This is unthinkable.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview," international students in the U.S.: Are they getting a bum rap?


CHMN. PAUL BREMER, NATL. CMTE. ON TERRORISM: The CIA and the FBI have become a bit overcautious in their approach to collecting intelligence, and we think that has to change.


JORDAN: How about a brain teaser for "Chronicle"? When was the first televised debate? The answer coming up. And speaking of presidential debates, "Chronicle" explores if third-party candidates should be heard in these important political forums.

In today's top story, a scientific breakthrough that's being called "a milestone for humanity." In Washington, D.C. yesterday, two teams of scientists announced they have developed a working draft of the human genome, a rough blueprint for human life.

A human genome is the biological instruction for how an individual is formed and how the cells in the body function. Researchers say decoding the genome, also known as genes or DNA, will revolutionize the prevention, detection and treatment of disease. In fact, some drug companies have already started developing medicines based on the action of genes.

There are three steps to mapping human genes. "Sequencing" is identifying the four different chemicals that make up each gene. Each chemical is assigned a letter. "Assembling" is putting those chemical letters in the proper order. It is only then that scientists can read each gene. Finally, "annotation" is when the researchers identify the gene and its function.

One expert likened the latest breakthrough to the biological equivalent of a man landing on the moon.

Eileen O'Connor has more from the White House.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Clinton says completing these working drafts of the decoded DNA of an entire human being gives mankind a chance to read the language of creation.

CLINTON: We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift. With this profound new knowledge, humankind is on the verge of gaining immense new power to heal.

O'CONNOR: It took scientists from government-funded labs in the United States, France, Great Britain, Japan, Germany and China 10 years to come up with this working draft, roughly 90 percent complete.

Using a different method, a private company, PE Celera completed its assembled working draft within a year. Once fiercely competitive, the head of the private and public ventures joined hands on this day, vowing continued cooperation this fall in locating the genes amidst this deciphered DNA that are linked to disease.

Craig Venter, the head of Celera, says because the two methods are different, scientists will be able to fill in the gaps in these working drafts of DNA code by comparing data.

CRAIG VENTER, CELERA GENOMICS: On chromosome 21 and 22, which were published in the last year or so from the public effort, they're very high-quality sequences. But we found just having these independent clones allowed us to span 80 percent of the gaps in those chromosomes.

O'CONNOR: Francis Collins, the head of the U.S. government lab, says these working drafts will greatly advance medical science.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, HUMAN GENOME PROJECT: I'd be willing to make a prediction that within 10 years we will have the potential of offering any of you the opportunity to find out what particular genetic conditions you may be at increased risk for based upon the discovery of genes involved in common illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and so on.

O'CONNOR: Both President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, linked by satellite, emphasized the power of this discovery to heal and to harm, saying now is the time to determine the parameters and uses of our genetic blueprint.

CLINTON: We must guarantee that genetic information cannot be used to stigmatize or discriminate against any individual or group.

O'CONNOR (on camera): The scientists report they discovered along the way that everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, is 99.9 percent the same, confirming scientifically, President Clinton says, the belief that all men are created equal.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, the White House.


JORDAN: Discovering the human genetic blueprint may be one thing, but keeping our genetic makeup out of the wrong hands may be quite another. Some people fear discrimination by employers or insurance companies. A recent CNN/"Time" poll finds 46 percent of Americans believe the Human Genome Project will be harmful; 40 percent think it will be beneficial; and 41 percent of Americans say the project is morally wrong; 47 percent see no ethical problems with it.

The Human Genome Project raises questions about privacy, insurance, creating perfect people, playing God, and genetic discrimination.

Jonathan Aiken takes a closer look.


JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The promise of this brave new world is science will tell us if we are genetically predisposed to disease, or if our children are at risk even before they are born.

As helpful as this science might be, the dangers, some fear, is it could just as easily be used to hurt people.

LARRY GOSTIN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Think about it. In our society today, so based upon health insurance, that the one thing that you may need health insurance for may be what you don't get because you have a pre-existing condition for it. AIKEN: Terri Seargent lost her job at a North Carolina insurance company last year, one month, she says, after a glowing review, and three months after starting $3,800-a-month treatment for a disease affecting her lungs and liver. It's the same disease that killed her brother a few years before.

TERRI SEARGENT: When I lost my job, I lost all my life insurance and disability insurance. The only way I will ever get them back is if I get a job in a company large enough where health questions are not asked on insurance forms.

AIKEN: Sergeant filed a complaint. Her case is the first to determine if someone with a genetic predisposition to disease is protected by federal discrimination laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a policy directive in 1995 that genetic discrimination was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Every individual, though, is genetically flawed and predisposed to disease in some way. The issue is: Can you be fired because of it?

PAUL STEVEN MILLER, COMMISSIONER, EEOC: It is illegal for an employer to make job decisions based upon one's genetic predisposition to disease.

AIKEN: Back in February, President Clinton banned genetic discrimination in the federal workplace. And through a patchwork of legislation, 35 states now prohibit genetic discrimination by health insurers.

(on camera): This very private issue may require a very public answer as Congress grapples with the prospect that a person can be discriminated against not only because of the person that they are now, but because of who they may become later.

Jonathan Aiken for CNN, Capitol Hill.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: It's business as usual for Japan today. Weekend voting gave a thumbs-up to the ruling coalition's control of Japan's more powerful chamber in Parliament. The election will ensure the policies of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will continue for now, amid signs the balance of political power is shifting.


MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): On the face of it, more of the same. Behind the ruling coalition's weekend victory, many familiar political names, from party stalwarts to first- timers such as Yuko Obuchi, the 26-year-old daughter of the late Japanese leader Keizo Obuchi.

YOSHIRO MORI, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The verdict of the Japanese people was that the current coalition should continue to be in charge of the government. KAMIMURA: But percolating below the election win for the status quo, say observers, is an undercurrent of change. Outright elation for the prime minister's Liberal Democrats was spoiled by the loss of a majority in the lower house of Parliament. Two current cabinet members even lost their seats.

HARUO SHIMADA, KEIO UNIVERSITY: Formally speaking, nothing has changed, at the end of the day. But under the -- you know, beneath this superficial format, rather clear-cut, the changes are underway.

KAMIMURA: The financial markets barely budged, taking heart in the fact that a coalition with familiar faces would continue to guide Japanese policy.

(on camera): Not only did the coalition confirm that Prime Minister Mori would stay put for now, but Mr. Mori also indicated that experienced hands that were reelected, such as Kiichi Miyazawa and Yohei Kono, would be his top choices to head the Finance and Foreign ministries. That when a new administration is appointed at the beginning of July.


BAKHTIAR: If you've ever gone to the doctor and been put on antibiotics, you probably didn't give the whole process much thought. But when you do, the discovery of antibiotic drugs has made a huge difference in our lives. It's one of the great advances of the 20th century.

Penicillin was discovered in 1929 by Alexander Fleming. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery, which has since saved millions of lives.

Ironically, other antibiotics designed to do the same thing are now becoming a concern themselves. Are infections becoming resistant to antibiotic overuse?

Jonathan Aiken returns to examine that issue in our "Health Desk."


AIKEN (voice-over): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third of the 150 million outpatient prescriptions for antibiotics written every year are unnecessary. The result: strains of bacteria that become tougher than the drugs being used against them.

S. LEVY: We have patients in the United States dying from infections that are untreatable. This is unthinkable.

AIKEN: Faced with a growing number of resistant strains, pharmaceutical firms are rushing to create new antibiotics and prevent them from being over-prescribed.

The drug Synercid, developed to fight tough new strains of staph infections, is available only as an IV and targeted only to specialists dealing with a high-risk population: organ transplant, cancer, or long-term hospital patients.

Some experts say another area of overuse is in food. Critics say up to half the 50 million pounds of antibiotics produced in the U.S. each year wind up in animal feed and used on fruit trees to prevent disease or encourage growth.

Industry groups dispute those claims. In a statement to CNN, the American Feed Industry Association says: "On average, antibiotics and feed comprise only about 3 1/2 ounces per ton. This translates to ... the equivalent of a few grains of salt in a salt shaker."

Another area of concern: the quest for a germ-free home.

S. LEVY: Your normal clothes, the sheets you sleep in, your pillows, your shoes, they're all being impregnated with products that are touted antibacterial, and the consumer thinks: this is going to take care of the problem.

AIKEN: Levy and experts at the CDC say washing your hands with plain soap and water is the best way to protect yourself.

Jonathan Aiken, for CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: We continue our medical theme in "Worldview" as we look at ways to stay safe and keep healthy. Those stories take us to the United States, India and England.

WALCOTT: They are the forgotten victims of war. The Red Cross estimates 2,000 people are killed or maimed by land mines each month worldwide. The victims are often children who become casualties long after the fighting ends. Preventing further tragedies is a painstaking process. By some estimates, there are more than 110 million active antipersonnel mines scattered throughout more than 60 countries. Traveling in parts of Cambodia, Angola and Kosovo is literally like walking through a minefield.

But now, new help may be on the way in finding buried land mines before they hurt anyone else.

As Tom Mintier reports, that help is coming from the air.


TOM MINTIER, CNN LONDON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Clearing land mines is a tedious and dangerous job. Minefields have to be cleared inch by inch.

This airship may bring old and new technology together in a way never envisioned. The small blimp is outfitted with sophisticated mapping radar that recognizes shapes in the ground. It is so advanced that it can even detect plastic mines invisible to most mine detectors. SIR JOHN CHISHOLM, CHMN., DEFENSE EVALUATION & RESEARCH AGENCY: We have to show that's it's going to work in all the various circumstances: in muddy fields as well as in grassy fields, amongst rocks and all that kind of thing.

MINTIER: Researchers say it will take about 18 months before the system is ready for action. One of the people behind the project is Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines and a balloonist himself. His company, the Lightship Group, designed the airship jointly with the British Ministry of Defense.

RICHARD BRANSON, THE LIGHTSHIP GROUP: Well, the advantage that an airship has is that it can go very slowly, it's a very stable platform, whereas if you use a plane, it's noisy, it goes too fast.

MINTIER: One of the biggest problems for mine clearance is the unreliable maps military units create when they plant the mines. When you are talking about 60 or 70 million individual mines, just locating them is a real problem.

(on camera): The airship is called Mineseeker, with the ability to travel 100 meters or 300 feet a second. It may not remove mines, but it does increase the probability of locating them, something that until now was done on hands and knees.

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.


BAKHTIAR: India is in the middle of a population explosion. As we've reported previously on "Worldview," the Asian nation recently passed the 1 billion mark, making it the second most populous country on Earth behind China.

Along with that milestone comes another ominous statistic. By some estimates, as many as 10 million people in India have AIDS or are HIV positive. That's about ten times the number of cases in all of North America. It's not just a huge health concern for the Indian government, but an economic one as well.

Anish Trivedi has the story.


ANISH TRIVEDI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's on its way to becoming the most populous country in the world. But India also has the highest number of AIDS cases in the world. Years of government-sponsored family planning have done little to control the population. And with that number rising, the number of people who are HIV positive is also on the rise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking in numbers of just 1.5 million in Mumbai City, which is not a small figure by any chance. So, on the whole, India, I think it can't be less than 8 to 10 million people.

TRIVEDI: That may be a small percentage of the population, but the number is growing. Indian government and U.N. AIDS estimates indicate the number of people who are HIV positive will double over the next 10 years. Those kinds of numbers could have a serious impact on the economy. Most of those who suffer from AIDS are between 25 and 35 years old, an age group that is at its peak of economic productivity. That will be reflected not only in the cost of health care, but also in man days lost as AIDS sufferers and their families remove themselves from productive employment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The productive, highly skilled group are also being affected, so you won't have those people coming into the labor market anymore. To spend money on new people is going to be another problem for industry.

TRIVEDI: The Indian government will spend close to 250 million dollars in the next few years to minimize the effects of AIDS on the population and on the economy. Most of this will go towards increasing prevention and awareness of the disease.

The World Bank estimates that without this, government health spending could increase by a third by 2010 as a result of the AIDS virus. That's about $3 billion a year that India's newly emerging economy can ill afford.

Finding a cure to AIDS is difficult enough, but unless India does more, finding a solution to the economic impact of AIDS may prove impossible.

Anish Trivedi for CNN Financial News, Mumbai.


BAKHTIAR: Moving away from home to attend college can be scary. But now imagine if you were not only leaving your family and friends, but your country as well. Every year, thousands of students travel abroad to pursue their higher education. Some do it to escape political or social situations in their home country, while others do it to see a foreign culture up close and personal. Whatever the reason, it can be a rewarding learning experience that helps foster good relations between countries.

But as Kate Snow reports, political problems between a student's home and host countries can lead to friction.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a tool in the fight against terrorism, a congressionally appointed commission says the federal government should closely monitor international students in the U.S. It recommends expanding an existing pilot program that's meant to keep track of students from abroad, even going as far as watching for students who suddenly change majors, switching, for example, from English literature to nuclear physics.

In its report, the commission worries "a small minority may exploit their student status to support terrorist activity." BREMER: The CIA and the FBI have become a bit overcautious in their approach to collecting intelligence and we think that has to change.

SNOW: One of those convicted in the World Trade Center bombing had entered the United States to study engineering at Wichita State University. But some say tracking international students is inappropriate.

HUSSEIN IBISH, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CMTE.: It identifies people as a threat based on their national origin and their legitimate academic pursuits. What this does is it stigmatizes people because of lawful First Amendment-protected academic or even political activity, none of which ought to be the concern of law enforcement in the United States.

SNOW: The FBI says it's always looking for improved ways to combat terrorism and will look seriously at the commission's report. But the bureau will not target specific groups.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think we certainly want the resources so that we can monitor whoever is in this country and who poses a threat to this nation. I wouldn't necessarily single out students as a group we need to particularly be concerned about.

SNOW (on camera): The recommendation the government keep an eye on international students is likely to spur discussion in Washington. But whether the panel's suggestion is anything more that depends in part on how it sells on Capitol Hill.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


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

BAKHTIAR: Now, we all know the impact television can have on society. It's a powerful tool, and perhaps no one knows that better than politicians. Earlier in the show, we asked when the first televised debates took place between U.S. presidential nominees. The answer is 1960. At the podiums: John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy, as you know, went on to win that election. And since their famous televised encounter, presidential debates have generally followed the same format: questions from a panel of reporters and carefully-timed responses and rebuttals.

This year, though, the format will change. The rules for who can participate, however, will not.

Judy Woodruff reports.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time in the history of televised fall presidential debates, the nominees would be allowed to question each other directly under new rules being proposed by the Presidential Debates Commission. It is a format that lit fireworks during the primaries.


GARY BAUER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And four times in a row, Governor, you won't answer the question.

BUSH: Well, let's make it five.




GORE: If you want to know my position, I favor a woman's right to choose regardless of the woman's income.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you still didn't answer the question.


WOODRUFF: In year's past, direct exchanges between candidates were restricted to carefully timed response and rebuttals.

Also new for 2000, the debates will be available on the Internet, both as live, streamed video and as video-on-demand over the commission's Web site. Citizens can also use the Web to suggest questions before the debates and discuss them afterwards.

The formats may have changed, but the rules for who can participate have not. A week before the first debate, the commission will take an average of five national opinion polls, including CNN's. Any candidate with 15 percent or more is invited. The rest sit out. The commission will repeat the process for the last two debates.

PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's like Coke and Pepsi saying no other soft drink can enter the market unless they meet a certain criteria. That's preposterous.

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people are going to fall asleep watching the drab debate the dreary.

Judy Woodruff, CNN, reporting.


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 plan. 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.

JORDAN: Musicians, athletes, politicians and activists can be found in all age groups. We focus today on one particular group: teenagers.

Recently, "Teen People" magazine held a ceremony to honor their selections for the top 20 teenagers in the U.S.

CNN Student Bureau reporter Julia Levy looks at how those top teens are making an impact.


JULIA LEVY, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Certainly teenagers have lifted their voices for great causes through the years. Country singer Lila McCann is one of the Top 20 Teens. The honor comes with a $1,000 scholarship presented by "Teen People" magazine and beauty aid company L'Oreal.

LILA MCCANN, COUNTRY SINGER, TOP 20 TEEN: I'm going to be donating my scholarship to my high school so somebody there can use it.

J. LEVY: Fifteen-year-old Nicole McLaren of Jamaica created an online nation for teens.

NICOLE MCLAREN, WEB DESIGNER, TOP 20 TEENS: I work with youth empowerment, and I work with getting young people involved in issues that affect them; not just seeing problems on the street and really wanting to change, but realizing that you can change. All you have to do is take an active role.

J. LEVY: Top teen Deanna Durrett of Louisville, Kentucky is a leader in the National Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

DEANNA DURRETT, ANTI-SMOKING ACTIVIST, TOP 20 TEEN: I'm pretty excited about it. I can't wait to go back. And when I talk to the young kids that I teach, of course I teach them about the dangers of smoking, but now I can also tell them that there are people that listen to teens, and we have a voice and we have power.

J. LEVY: All of this year's top teens have made a contribution in a special area of interest, like music, sports, politics, business, and many areas in between. There's also a cancer researcher in the group from Blacksburg, Virginia.

NISHA NAGARKATTI, CANCER RESEARCHER, TOP 20 TEEN: So many people die of cancer or know people who have had cancer. And it's such a terrible disease that we really need to, like, start working towards a cure.

CHRISTINA FERRARI, MANAGING EDITOR, "TEEN PEOPLE": This generation is one of the most positive, determined, ambitious generations we've ever seen, and we should really be so proud of them. And, unfortunately, sometimes the 1 percent of the teenagers who are doing the wrong things or making the wrong decisions appear in the headlines all the time. But what we've really noticed is the vast majority are quite remarkable.

J. LEVY (on camera): Being among the top 20 is a great honor; one that inspires teens to continue their work and embark on a new mission to change the world.

Julia Levy, CNN Student Bureau, New York.


JORDAN: By the way, Julia was one of those teens honored by "Teen People" for her journalistic work.

BAKHTIAR: Good for her.

If you're interested in joining the ranks of CNN Student Bureau, head for the Turner Learning Web site at for more information.

And that does it for us.

JORDAN: We'll see you back here tomorrow. Have a great day. Bye.




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