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NEWSROOM for August 2, 2000Aired August 2, 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.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It is Wednesday here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tom Haynes. We begin today with the rising cost of gasoline in Great Britain.
In today's top story, Britain's Dump the Pump protest gets a dumping of its own.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't get around without my car. I know prices are very high but I've got to it.
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HAYNES: "Business Desk" plays devil's advocate with the rising cost of gas.
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DANIEL YERGIN, CAMBRIDGE ENERGY RESEARCH ASSOCIATION: If you're going to compare gasoline prices across the years, you have to adjust for inflation. And when you do that, you get a pretty startling picture.
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HAYNES: "Worldview" heads to South Africa, where for some poor children in Soweto, relief comes in the form of music.
Then it's quiz time. Where was the first Republican National Convention held? The answer coming up in "Chronicle," when we hook up with some young people holding a convention of their own.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And hopefully, in the next four years, we'll be back again, stronger and better.
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HAYNES: We begin today in Britain and a national outrage there over the price of gasoline. Well, just when it seemed Americans were the ones doing all the complaining about high gas prices, many in Britain are chiming in with their discontent. British motorists hoping to call attention to the issue staged a national protest yesterday, refusing to fill their tanks with gas. The Dump the Pump campaign was meant to pressure the British government to lower gas taxes, which make up about three-quarters of the cost of gas in Britain.
The British aren't the only ones suffering through high gas prices. In Norway, motorists pay almost $5 a gallon. In France, it costs more than $4.20. And those driving in Japan pay almost $3.70.
The boycott campaign in Britain may have caught the public's imagination, but it didn't seem to keep motorists away from the petrol stations.
Christian Mahne reports.
CHRISTIAN MAHNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driving the Dump the Pump message home in Europe's petrol price capital. The plan, a 24-hour boycott of Britain's filling stations, achieved only limited success.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I've had to fill up against all my wishes.
MAHNE: Even so, the organizers say their point has got through.
PAUL RADLEY, DUMP THE PUMP ORGANIZER: People can't live without petrol, without fuel, but for one day they can show their annoyance at the high tax here. The message to the government is be fair. British motorists have had enough.
MAHNE: And that's who the protest is aimed at: the U.K treasury. Britain's government takes 75 percent of the price at the pump in tax, making U.K. petrol the most expensive in Europe.
The government, however, makes no apologies.
LORD WHITTY, BRITISH TRANSPORT MINISTER: The government does take a significant amount of the pump price in tax. And in this country, we have decided deliberately that we will shift the burden of taxation away from things like employment and income and profit and onto things that do you harm, like pollution.
MAHNE: But that does little to appease those who've long complained that motorists are being treated as an easy target for government revenue raising.
RAY HOLLOWAY, PETROL RETAILERS ASSN.: This is a problem made by successive governments in the U.K. In quite simple English, they have found it a nice little earner to take money from a motorist who never sees, really, any big increase. It's always just small increases. MAHNE: Those small increases have seen the motorists' tax burden rise by a third in just three years. Bad news for the country's 23 million car owners. And with no change in government policy expected, the Dump the Pump message may run out of momentum as falling crude oil costs trim prices at the pumps.
Christian Mahne, CNN Financial News, London.
HAYNES: Well, for more on those gas prices around the world and the influence of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, check your NEWSROOM archives for June 22.
Well, high gas prices remain a flash point for summer drivers. They rose almost 9 percent in June alone in the United States. Even so, American motorists may be driving the best bargain in decades.
Christine Romans explains in our "Business Desk" today.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gasoline now costs 40 percent more than it did 12 months ago. The driving public is complaining, but many economists are slow to sound the alarm. By adjusting for inflation, economists calculate what they call a "real cost." And the real cost of gas is cheap, really cheap.
YERGIN: Many people think that, in the good old days, gasoline was a lot cheaper. But if you`re going to compare gasoline prices across the years, you have to adjust for inflation. And when you do that, you get a pretty startling picture, that even today`s gasoline prices are cheaper than they were in inflation-adjusted terms during the 1950s and the 1960s that many people remembers as the halcyon days of driving.
ROMANS: In fact, the real price of gasoline has fallen steadily since the introduction of the automobile, from $2.77 a gallon in 1918 to a record low of $1.08 in 1998, spiking only during the Depression and the Mideast old shocks of the `70s and `80s.
But it`s not just imported crude that accounts for the price of gas. The most volatile component, crude costs cover 46 percent of the price, while refining and retailing tack on another 28 percent. The remaining 26 percent is all tax -- federal, state and sometimes local. Like it or not, the federal tax revenue helps pay for road repairs.
Research by Cambridge Energy shows the average household spends just 3 percent of the family budget on fuel. Even so, some wonder if high prices will deter drivers during the peak travel season. But despite continued complaints, that slowdown is slow in coming.
MANTILL WILLIAMS, AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION: High prices alone will not stop people from traveling. And our surveys show that vacation travel, for instance, is up 4 percent this year despite the high gas prices that we have. People might alter their trips, they might cut back in other areas, but they won`t stop traveling.
ROMANS (on camera): Even if the so-called "real price" of gas remains low, concerned driver welcome any signs of softer retail prices. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas has fallen by more than a nickel over the past month.
Christine Romans, CNN Financial News, New York.
ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make e 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.
HAYNES: Well, the focus of "Worldview": the health and welfare of young people around the globe. We'll hear more about the youth of 2000 in our special week-long series. We'll search for harmony in South Africa, where a special program orchestrates one solution to spending time on the streets. More street life in Romania, where young people struggle just to survive. And we'll visit the United States to check out juveniles in jail. Plus, a call to arms to keep kids from armed warfare.
Today, we examine the health and welfare of young people around the world. Many of you are in danger from drought and disease, from famine and fighting. According to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, in the decade since the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, more than 2 million children have been killed and more than 6 million have been injured or disabled in armed conflicts.
But the year 2000 also marks a milestone for you, because this year, on January 21, most countries around the world took a big step to safeguard kids.
Kathy Nellis has the story.
KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One-hundred ninety-one nations have agreed to ban child soldiers. The agreement sets a combat limit of age 18 and it bans forced recruitment of young people under 18. The U.N. says more than 300,000 children below that age, some as young as 10, are fighting adult wars. But youngsters can still be soldiers. The accord allows voluntary recruitment of children 16 and older. That's a compromise from the original plan. The U.S. pushed for the younger age limit.
While most countries around the world signed this optional protocol, it's too soon to say if they'll commit to it in practice. And the agreement cannot erase the tragedy of war, which hits young people hard even if they're not serving as soldiers.
CHARLES LYONS, PRES., U.S. FUND FOR UNICEF: Any country that has fought, has sustained, is involved with a prolonged civil war will have the worst circumstances imaginable for their children.
NELLIS: Take Angola, for example.
LYONS: Approximately one-third of Angolan children don't live to their fifth birthday. Angola, for over 20 years, has been mired in civil war. You cannot have peace, security, stability, the availability of basic social services for all people, particularly for poor people, in the same place which you're fighting a war.
NELLIS: Conflicts and tensions around the globe have an impact on the youth of 2000.
LYONS: There are more emergency countries now than anytime since World War II. In part because of the change of relations after the Cold War, there were a number of conflicts that were held in check until the late '80s and early '90s: the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Burundi, the situation we see in Afghanistan -- one can go on -- Bosnia and so on.
If those regional conflicts are not ended soon, in those countries, in those regions, there will continue to be a huge toll taken on children in particular.
NELLIS: Even in areas that are not at war, health problems abound. There's poverty, famine, drought. These conditions contribute to global suffering.
(on camera): Around the world, someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds. That's 24,000 people a day, and three-fourths of those are children under age 5.
(voice-over): And hand-in-hand with hunger and starvation, disease is taking a terrible toll.
JOHN GATES, TASK FORCE FOR CHILD SURVIVAL AND DEVELOPMENT: Infectious diseases are still a major problem in many parts of the world. Things as concrete as diarrheal diseases are a major problem, tuberculosis, etcetera, etcetera.
LYONS: There are several important trends that will affect the lives of children around the world. One, and particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, is the spread of HIV and AIDS. There are estimates that by the year 2010 there would be as many as 40 million children orphaned because of HIV and AIDS.
NELLIS: Health concerns range around the world, across borders and across socioeconomic lines. There are physical, mental and emotional issues to deal with.
GATES: I think that a lot of what we -- the troubles we see with children today, the impulsive violence that takes place on street corners, is in part related to the absence of hope and a future that a child can achieve.
NELLIS: Drugs, alcohol, access to guns -- all are concerns in the year 2000. But as we focus on what still needs to be done, child advocates say it's important to recognize progress, too.
GATES: If you look at the infant mortality statistics, if you look at changes in the prevalence of infectious diseases, if you look at changes in life span, you've got to conclude that we have made progress throughout this past century. It has been a century marked by tremendous advances in the treatment of disease, and to some degree in the prevention of a lot of illnesses. There's still a long way to go.
NELLIS: Kathy Nellis, CNN.
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: You've seen that war is hard on kids and that health issues of all kinds are a concern. Now we take you to Romania, a country in eastern Europe. Its people can trace their ancestry and language back to the ancient Romans. But some other things are not a point of pride. Today we take you to Bucharest, the country's capital, for a harsh look at life on the streets.
Mike Hanna has our report.
MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet 10-year-old Vali (ph) and his 5-year-old brother Maurius (ph). This is their supper, the regular evening meal in the central city subway where we came across them. They don't give us much information. They have a home somewhere. They have a mother somewhere. But most of the time they fend for themselves.
The streets of Bucharest are their playground, a little world of their own no one else seems to inhabit or notice. Maurius is still young enough to be afraid to cross a busy street by himself. His brother carries him.
These are just two of the thousands of children who live on the streets of Bucharest, the products not only of parental neglect but of a long-gone political system dominated by Nikolai Ceaucescu.
(on camera): In order to promote economic growth, the dictator decreed each family should have at least four children. He promised the state would care for those children whose parents could not. As a result, a society evolved in which the abandonment of children bore no social stigma.
(voice-over): The deteriorating economy has resulted in even more abandoned or runaway children on the streets than in the Communist era. But unlike in those days, now the authorities accept something needs to be done. A government department for child protection has been established, charged with finding a solution.
DR. CHRISTIAN TABACARU, SOCIAL WORKER: Today, we know, all of us, that we have this problem. Today, at last, we have somebody to criticize because we created the public actors, and our responsibility is enormous.
HANNA: The gnarled, prematurely-old hands of a little girl, a mark of the streets. She clumsily attempts to save some of her food for later. So little to go around, not just for the children, but for the cash-strapped government trying to bring reform.
Back in the Bucharest subway, Maurius and Vali ride from place to place, their search for scraps taking them all around the city. For the moment, all they have are each other. We buy them food and walk away. There is nothing else we can do.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: While life on the streets is tough, so is life in jail or prison. We head now to the United States. The U.S. Justice Department says the number of criminals younger than 18 serving time in adult prisons has doubled over a decade. By 1997, the last year for which statistics are available, 7,400 youths 17 or younger were committed to adult prisons. Only 5 percent of all young offenders punished in the U.S. serve sentences in adult facilities. But did you know that some kids, who've committed no crime but entered the country without the right documents, wind up in other kinds of jails just because there is no where else to put them?
Maria Hinojosa explains.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN reported on the stories of 15-year-old twins Jose Luis (ph) and Jose Enrique (ph) and 11-year-old Eber Sandoval (ph), just some of the 5,600 children who illegally entered the United States all alone last year just like Elian Gonzalez.
(on camera): What's these kids' emotional state when they get to you?
RUBEN GALLEGOS, INTL. EDUCATIONAL SERVICES: The anxiety level is extremely high. I think that the fear and the terror that they have experienced has not left them.
HINOJOSA (voice-over): Some of the children await their fate at International Educational Services in Los Fresnos, Texas, a secure INS shelter where children get supervision, food and some education.
(on camera): Did you have a bed like this back at home?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No.
HINOJOSA (voice-over): Now the INS acknowledges that, last year, nearly 2,000 unaccompanied minors served an average of a month in juvenile jails even though most committed no crime.
JOHN POGASH, INS JUVENILE COORDINATOR: They are security or flight risks. There have been threats made to their lives. I think there were approximately 600 juveniles, maybe a little bit less, that were placed in a secure setting for a limited amount of time because there were no available beds and appropriate facilities.
LOIS WHITMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The meaning of this is that kids can be treated like -- seen as criminals and treated like criminals.
HINOJOSA: Their only infraction is entering this country without proper papers.
WENDY YOUNG, COMMISSION FOR REFUGEE WOMEN AND CHILDREN: The kids, as I said, are wearing prison uniforms. They're locked down 23 or more hours a day.
HINOJOSA: Immigration lawyers say the children are often not guaranteed legal representation, either.
STEVEN LANG, PROBAR: We should be principally concerned with the best interests of the child, and that means access to justice.
HINOJOSA: Activists and the INS agree that shelters are the best scenario for temporary housing of unaccompanied minors.
(on camera): What is the one thing that you want most in the world?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
HINOJOSA: Get out of here and study English.
(voice-over): Maria Hinojosa, CNN.
HAYNES: OK, you've heard about life on the streets and how some kids wind up in jail even if they didn't commit a crime. Our next stop is the continent of Africa. We'll visit its most prosperous and most highly developed country, South Africa, to spotlight a solution. There, kids are finding new direction and discovering their own talents.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault takes us there.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of these sometimes mean, often dirt-poor streets of Soweto, some new horizons are dawning for youngsters like 11-year-old Innocentia Diamond (ph), whose surroundings are the same but almost everything else is changing, thanks to her discovery of strings. And while there are still some sour notes in her life, for her, her older brother and some 50 other young Sowetans, it's the new notes and the high notes that have kept them off these mean streets and into the practice room.
ROSEMARY NALDEN, DIRECTOR, BUSKAID: There's very little that I'm competing with. I'm not competing with ballet and tennis and this club and that club and computers.
HUNTER-GAULT: Director Rosemary Nalden is competing with the environment.
NALDEN: We've had two deaths of parents this year. We've had the murder of a stepmother, the death of a mother. We've had the death of a father. There's a lot of bereavement in Soweto.
HUNTER-GAULT: Nalden started the school after hearing a radio program in London about a string group struggling to get off the ground in Soweto. She enlisted 120 musicians in London who played what the English call a busk -- a sidewalk concert aimed at contributions. It became not only an annual event that raised thousands of dollars benefiting township musicians, it gave the young Soweto musicians group a name: Buskaid. It also gave birth to a new spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, it's like, you know, listening to my spirit. Do you understand?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it. I just enjoy it. It's so much fun to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It changed everything.
HUNTER-GAULT: Innocentia has now played for a queen and a president -- Nelson Mandela.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel proud because now I'm famous.
HUNTER-GAULT: Buskaid has one CD, another on the way. The money from sales will be used to help keep the group going and to bring in some of the hundreds now knocking at their doors.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Diepkloof, Soweto, South Africa.
ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.
HAYNES: In today's look at "Democracy in America," we focus on the Republican National Convention. But first, the answer to that quiz we asked you earlier. The question was, where did the first Republican National Convention take place? The year was 1856. Was it A) Boston B) New York, C) Philadelphia or D) Chicago? If you guessed this isn't the first time the GOP is gathering in the City of Brotherly Love, you're right. The answer is C) Philadelphia.
Last night, the Republican convention's focus turned to America's national defense. The evening featured speeches by high-profile veterans, including retired General Norman Schwarzkopf. Earlier, police arrested dozens of protesters rallying against everything from the death penalty to capitalism.
And there's another key political event taking place in Philadelphia this week, and this one was organized by your peers.
CNN Student Bureau reports on the National Youth Convention.
JAY GILMORE, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Poverty, health, education -- issues young Americans, gathered for the National Youth Convention in Philadelphia, say are important to them.
DAVID SOBOTKIN, MEMBER, YOUTH IN ACTION COUNCIL: We are youth, we work for the youth and we work with the youth. So, as much interaction as we can get the better it is.
GILMORE: Their goal is to start a dialogue between young people and political leaders. The Youth Convention first met four years ago. It was created by adults who saw the need to give youth a voice.
PETER RADUCHA, EXEC. DIR., YOUTH IN ACTION: And you see young people frustrated, wanting to get their issues out there, and then seeing that they have a chance to be heard, that they can send their issues in so that they're actually presented and recognized. That does create hope. And for me, that created a way to avoid those young people growing up to become like a lot of adults that are cynical and have just kind of said, I don't know what to do.
GILMORE: They're Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Some came for very personal reasons.
JENNIFER BROWN, AGE 14: We have a lot of drug corners in my neighborhood So I thought I could come here and voice my opinion about that.
GILMORE: They meet in small groups to debate issues, searching for agreement on possible solutions.
MICHOLE ALLEKOTTE, AGE 16: So far, we've been sort of brainstorming on what issues are the most important to us personally, and also to the other youth in the country. They've sent in youth platforms and we're trying to combine that into one larger platform.
MATTHEW NYE, AGE 22: Even though a lot of us have totally and completely opposite views, we're all very respectful. A lot of kids here know how to sit and listen.
GILMORE: They hope elected officials at least consider what they have to say.
SOBOTKIN: The amount that the youth can influence politics is great. The amount of power that is non-electoral is huge. And the youth can really do a lot of lobbying, a lot of grass roots lobbying to affect policy.
ALLEKOTTE: Hopefully, we're going to get some solutions, some real solutions that are viable. We're actually going to research them, try to make sure that they can happen before we go presenting them to people.
GILMORE (on camera): The first half of the Youth Convention is headquartered just down the street from here, Republican National Convention. After it finishes its work in Philadelphia, the Youth Convention will move on to Los Angeles, the site of the Democratic National Convention, where it will finish its platform.
Jay Gilmore (ph), CNN Student Bureau, Philadelphia.
HAYNES: And as Jay says, the CNN Student Bureau will be covering the Democratic Convention coming up in L.A., and so will CNN NEWSROOM, as well as the Reform Convention coming up right in between those two. So stay with us.
Listen, thanks for joining us. And we'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.
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