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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for August 11, 2000

Aired August 11, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Well, it is Friday. We made it.

As we wind down another week, we rev up for one more show. I'm Tom Haynes.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. Thanks for joining us.

Here's a look at what's coming up.

HAYNES: If the United States builds it, will other nations come to their own conclusions and build their own system?


ROBERT MANNING, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: If they see a situation where their nuclear deterrent is neutralized by missile defense, they're not going to lie down and play dead.


WALCOTT: Then, "Editor's Desk" takes us from the age of nuclear weapons to the age of the musket, and a current debate over the accuracy of historical movies.


ARNOLD SCHWARTZMAN, CHAIRMAN, BAFTA: I do rather resent the fact that we are seen as bumbling fools.


HAYNES: "Worldview" heads to Italy to revive an ancient pastime minus the fight to the death part.


MARCUS TIBERIO, GLADIATOR INSTRUCTOR (through translator): A good gladiator tries not to die because when you die, your career is finished.


WALCOTT: And, in "Chronicle," find out why the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles will be the biggest real-life T.V. event since "Big Brother."

In "Today's News," we study the potential consequences of deploying a national defense system. Contents of a classified U.S. intelligence report were leaked yesterday, outlining how some countries might respond if the United States deployed a national defense system against nuclear weapons. The report predicts such a move could prompt China to accelerate a nuclear arms buildup.

A look at the current nuclear landscape puts the issue in perspective. China is on the list of nuclear powers, along with the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France and Israel, among others.

Efforts to reduce the world's nuclear arsenal began in the early 1960s with the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to prohibit nuclear testing above ground and underwater.

In 1969, Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, or SALT, talks began. The U.S. and Soviet Union signed two SALT agreements limiting the production of nuclear warheads. Renewed negotiations between the two countries began in 1982 with the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks, the embodiment of the START treaty signed in 1991.

Now, the issue of strategic defense is on the table once again. President Clinton is expected to decide soon on whether to move forward with a limited missile defense shield.

David Ensor is in Washington with details.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The test record of the missile defense system so far is mixed. Now the intelligence community warns deploying the system could produce unintended strategic fallout.

According to officials who have seen the 100-page report prepared for the president by CIA director George Tenet and other top intelligence officials, it says if the U.S. deploys the national missile-defense system the Clinton administration is considering, then China is likely to respond by accelerating the deployment of nuclear- tipped missiles pointed at the United States.

ROBERT MANNING, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: If they see a situation where their nuclear deterrent is neutralized by missile defense, they're not going to lie down and play dead; they're going to figure out what they can do to beat the system.

ENSOR: The Chinese currently have only 18 to 20 long-range nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S. The administration's plan for 100 Alaska-based interceptors could be capable, officials say, of knocking out up to about 25 incoming missiles, thus eliminating the nuclear threat from China. The concern is China would therefore build more missiles to overwhelm the U.S. defense.

Administration officials stress that the missile defense, if it goes ahead, is only meant to stop a looming missile threat from states of concern like North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: It's not designed to threaten or to undermine the Chinese or Russian nuclear deterrents.

ENSOR: And Pentagon officials say the Chinese are modernizing their missile force, in any case.

KEN BACON, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Whether or not the United States decides to deploy such a system, I assume that China will continue with its strategic modernization along the pace that makes sense to China.

ENSOR (on camera): But the new national intelligence estimate says that China would likely speed up its deployments, possibly deploying up to 200 nuclear warheads by the year 2015. And some analysts even argue that could cause India, and then Pakistan to speed up, too, thus fueling an Asian nuclear arms race.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Also in the headlines today, the wildfires in the Western United States. At least 65 large fires are burning out of control in 12 states. Some of the worst affected areas are in Montana. Fires there have forced hundreds of evacuations and destroyed scores of homes. Montana's governor says putting out the flames has become secondary to saving lives and property.

U.S. wildfires this year have scorched almost 4 1/2 million acres. An area greater than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. More than 20,000 civilian and military firefighters are battling the fires. Devastation that even the most up-to-date fire management systems have, so far, been unable to control.


GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the early years, public fire policy was that any fire was bad. In the 1890s, the then, fledgling U.S. Forest Service often sent one man crews to fight any fire no matter how small.

DAVE KOHUT, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Wildfire was a demon that needed to be suppressed, not only to protect the settlers and the individuals and their improvements, but the cattle and all the other stuff.

LEFEVRE: That attitude persisted into the 1930s and what was called the 10:00 a.m. rule. To try, at least, to extinguish the fire by 10:00 a.m. the next day.

Also, by that time, some foresters were studying theories about fire's role in rebuilding the forest, clearing out old brush to make way for new. But, for decades, still, firefighting was king.


SMOKY BEAR: Hello, folk, I'm Smoky.


LEFEVRE: The era of Smoky Bear reinforced the fire-is-bad philosophy.

Then, in the 1950s, war veterans entered the fight and brought war tools with them.

KOHUT: You always looked up and one of the welcome sights was to see a helicopter or a retardant plane.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Many expensive homes are in immediate danger.


LEFEVRE: Then the devastating 1961 Bel-Air fire in Los Angeles brought a new lesson. The perils of living in the so-called urban- wildland interface, jargon for more people moving into the hills and forests.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says there's no use fooling with this. They don't have enough water.


LEFEVRE: Across the West, the years of fire suppression made the forest more dense, more flammable. This was the result in 1988, at Yellowstone National Park. Given a running start by a policy to let forest fires burn freely, the seven-month firestorm scorched virtually every vista in the park.

KOHUT: It was really humbling. Nothing that any man or person could do.

LEFEVRE: Foresters today map fires with satellite tracking, infrared images and computer aided weather forecasting. Most fires are small licks of flame along a forest floor, easily contained if reached in time. But this year's fires are collections of thousands of small fires that a hundred years of technique and technology are unable to control.


HAYNES: In our "Editor's Desk," we head to the movies. One of the summer's most popular films has sparked a controversy. It's "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson. While some movie-goers are greeting the end of the film with applause, others say it misses the mark in terms of historical facts. But does such a historical fiction movie need to be accurate?

Paul Vercammen takes a look.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "The Patriot" is being attacked on several fronts over its accuracy. Spike Lee charges the film "dodged around, skirted about, or completed ignored slavery" and is "a complete whitewashing of history."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I understood you to be patriot.

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: If you mean by patriot, am I angry about taxation without representation? Well, yes, I am.


VERCAMMEN: In "The Patriot," screenwriter Robert Rodat modeled his hero, Benjamin Martin, after several Revolutionary War figures. Mel Gibson plays a back-country South Carolina farmer whose workers are free African-Americans. Rodat responding to Lee rhetorically asked if it would have been better to glorify a slave-holder and a racist.

Historian Edward Lee teaches near the Brattonsville Revolutionary War site where parts of "The Patriot" were filmed. The professor says, while Gibson's character would have more likely owned slaves, he still grades "The Patriot" an A-minus or B-plus.

DR. EDWARD LEE, HISTORY PROFESSOR, WINTHROP UNIVERSITY: I don't think the purpose of this movie is to talk in tremendous detail about the dynamics of racial integration. And so I'd rather kind of like tell Spike Lee to pull us a little bit closer to independence and liberty.

VERCAMMEN: But what price is paid for freedom on film? Chairman of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles calls "The Patriot" an enjoyable epic, but objects to the depiction of British troops.

ARNOLD SCHWARTZMAN, CHAIRMAN, BAFTA: I do rather resent the fact that we are seen as bumbling fools.

VERCAMMEN: Jason Isaacs' portrayal of a ruthless English colonel has angered many British film-goers, including Schwartzman, who fought for Britain in the Korean War.

SCHWARTZMAN: It came across unreal. I mean, I can't believe he would be that quite uncaring and just shoot a child.

VERCAMMEN: Isaacs has an answer for critics calling "The Patriot" too long and too bloody.

JASON ISAACS, ACTOR: It's a shame you think that. I thought it was much too short and blood-free.

VERCAMMEN: Professor Lee argues the Revolutionary War was brutal on both sides.

LEE: These people are fighting over power and who will rule the colonies. Great Britain was in debt 137 million pounds, and they needed money.

VERCAMMEN: Lee adds, a controversial scene where young sons of Gibson's character shoot British soldiers, is no stretch.

LEE: We've got people 10 years old, 11 years old. We've got them fighting. That is a very accurate scene.

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.


WALCOTT: It's a film fest in "Worldview." So get some popcorn and grab a seat. We'll take you to Italy, where an ancient sport is getting a boost from a summer flick. Then surf the net in the Netherlands and beyond. And we come up with some insight into the movie "Chicken Run."

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We begin in England, the largest country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We head beyond London and its famous Thames River, to Bristol, a seaport and important shipping center. It's located at the confluence of two rivers.

The city is noted for its grand cathedral, old churches, library, art gallery, museums and theater. But its cultural reknown is not tied to tradition. For in this city, creativity can become high tech.

Richard Blystone takes us to a studio that's laid a golden egg. Here's a behind the scenes look at the film "Chicken Run."


RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Looks like magic. Sounds like magic. But the magic of Ardmon Studios is not really in what you see, it's in what you don't see. The love and the life between the frames.

It started 30 years ago with two high school boys and two dimensions, experimentation and a bit of surprise. But it was a plasticine rascal called Morph, the active creation personified, who molded the Ardmon's style.

Then, "Creature Comforts" took the voices of ordinary people, interviewed at random, through the reality barrier, into the mouths of zoo animals.


ANIMAL: In this room, you have space, even though you don't have all this technological, you know, things like that, you know, but um, you have this space, and we need space to live. We need space to feel that we are a part of the world and not a kind of object in a box.


BLYSTONE: And won the studio its first Academy Award.

DAVE SPROXTON, STUDIO CO-FOUNDER: There is something that does connect very fundamentally to the human psyche, in a way. And I think, also, we enjoy doing it. It's a very tactile, enjoyable process.

BLYSTONE: Ardmon, now, puts up to 300 people on a big project, and its animated commercials and movies have created some odd, new professions.

(on camera): Professions like eye-ball maker or interchangeable mouth molder.

That's important, because one of Ardmon's trademarks is elocution.


UNIDENTIFIED CLAY FIGURE: That's it! cheese! we'll go somewhere where there's cheese.


BLYSTONE (voice-over): Nowadays they may be silicon from the neck down, but from the neck up they are still feats of clay.

SPROXTON: I think that's what this technique does, strangely, it connects with something that is quite deep about entering the world, which is sort of definitely hand made.

BLYSTONE: So, while two-dimensional animators have computers to lighten their work load, Ardmon works in slow motion. Posing sometimes dozens of characters, time after time, by hand. Twenty-four times to make a second of film.

PETER LORD, STUDIO, CO-FOUNDER: Take another frame, now you got a 12th of a second.

BLYSTONE: At this rate, a couple of dozen people can make two or three seconds of movie a day. But the founders intend to go on that way.

SPROXTON: This is what we've done. We've always done it. It's a bit like saying to a, you know, a woodworker, why don't you work in steel? Well, no, I work in wood.

BLYSTONE: Richard Blystone, CNN, Bristol, England. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: On to the Netherlands, a small country in northwestern Europe. The Netherlands is often called Holland, but this name officially refers only to the western part of the country.

The people of the Netherlands call themselves Nederlanders, but they are also known as the Dutch. The country is a constitutional monarchy. That means it has a democratic government that is based on a constitution. A king or queen is the country's head of state, but the monarch's duties are mostly ceremonial.

The Dutch are known for their highly organized society and their value for personal privacy. It's not exactly the type of place you'd expect would have any influence on the world of rap.

If you don't already know, rap is a form of music first developed in the mid-1970s in New York City, primarily among African-American teenagers. Popular rappers have included Hammer, Dr. Dre, and Run- DMC.

But now one young Dutch man is now making his own contribution to the rap world.


JEROEN BAAN, RNTV (voice-over): Rap music may be typical American, the first rap dictionary is most definitely Dutch. In this small apartment in the Dutch town of Naimagen (ph), 30-year-old IT specialist Patrick Atoon started out working on his dictionary, now over 13 years ago.

PATRICK ATOON, DICTIONARY CREATOR (through translator): I got interested in rap music when I was in high school. It was the time of the first Run DMC and Beasty Boys albums, and rap music was virtually unknown in the Netherlands. I really liked the rhymes and the rhythms, and so it just got to me.

BAAN: But being a Dutchman, it was pretty hard for Patrick Atoon to understand all the lyrics.

ATOON (through translator): I started copying tapes from friends. And by playing them over and over again, while listening on my headphones, I slowly began to understand the rap slang by listening to the context. But I couldn't find these words in an ordinary English dictionary.

BAAN: And so he started writing his own, followed by an Internet site eight years ago.

By surprise, a journalist from "The Wall Street Journal" discovered its maker is all but America.

ATOON: A "Wall Street Journal" editor contacted me by e-mail and she wanted to make a story about the site. When she asked me to call her, I wrote that an interview by phone would be very expensive, as I live thousands of miles away. She was so stunned that I was Dutch she flew within the week to make a cover-page story, something to be proud of.

BAAN: But not everyone is that enthusiastic.

ATOON: Some people mailed me to stop. They are angry with me because they feel rap music belongs to the American cultural heritage. Dutchmen shouldn't interfere.

BAAN: But he won't stop. His dictionary now contains over 700 words. Atoon himself explains 100 of them. The rest was added by visitors, and anyone who can add more is most welcome.

Jeroen Baan, Radio Netherlands Television for CNN WORLD REPORT.


HAYNES: Next stop, Italy. A boot-shaped peninsula in Europe which extends down into the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital is Rome and today we focus on a tradition which dates from the time of the Roman Empire.

Gladiators were swordsmen in ancient Rome, fighters who performed for exhibition. The fights took place in public arenas, where men fought each other or wild animals. They were often savage battles to death. The Emperor Constantine banned such displays, but the games continued until about 405 A.D.

These days such swords play is making a comeback minus the deadly finish. As Gayle Young reports, today it's a sport.


GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let's just say it's a revival of a dying sport. This brand new school for gladiators in Rome teaches enthusiasts how to fight like they did in the old days. Students here can pick up some important pointers.

MARCUS TIBERIO, GLADIATOR INSTRUCTOR (through translator): A good gladiator tries not to die, because when you die, your career is finished.

YOUNG: Sound advice. Although at this school swords are blunted, tridents trimmed, students are not injured, at least they try not to get injured.

The renewed interest stems, of course, from the hit movie "Gladiator," which is packing theater houses in Rome. The story of a man who conquers the empire from within the arena has stirred patriotism in many Romans and a fascination with the ultimate martial art.

"It's a sport that was born here," says the school's director. "We'd rather do this than something Japanese like judo or karate."

So, with the movie soundtrack blaring in the background, students try out moves with varying degrees of success. The informal course is offered by a Roman historical society for free. Students dress the part with equipment created by society members.

It's not the first time a movie has sparked an interest in archaic sports. "Ben Hur" led to a revival of chariot racing. But this revival may be shorter-lived.

Historians say real gladiators, most of them slaves and condemned criminals, died horrible deaths in Rome's ancient Coliseum. But new age gladiators tend to look on the bright side of a deadly sport.

TIBERIO (through translator): The good gladiator was a sort of like a soccer star today. A lot of fame. A lot of money. And a lot of success.

YOUNG: So inspired by a newfound hero, a new generation of gladiators go for the glory.

Gayle Young, CNN, Rome.


HAYNES: In California, yesterday, it was the tale of two conventions. The fractured Reform Party is holding its convention in Long Beach, where factions split in two, sending delegates to rival hotels and venues. The chaos pits supporters of former Republican Pat Buchanan, and Iowa physicist John Hagelin. It also sets up a battle over which camp will get the $12.5 million in federal election matching campaign funds.

Not far from Long Beach, the Democrats are preparing to stage their own convention. And as Charles Feldman tells us, authorities in Los Angeles are preparing for potential chaos of their own.


CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With all the angst of a space shuttle launch, Los Angeles has been preparing for the arrival of the Democratic Convention and the anticipated arrival of perhaps tens of thousands of protesters.

At first, law enforcement officials seemed to be taking a page from the bible, with predictions of Armageddon right smack in the middle of downtown L.A.

LT. HORACE FRANK, LOS ANGELES POLICE: To those people whose main goal or mission it is to come to Los Angeles and engage in criminal activity, to engage in decadent behavior, our message to them is going to be: It is not going to be tolerated.

FELDMAN: But the police weren't relying on prophets for this doomsday scenario. They were watching video tape. Tape of the riots in Seattle recently. And ever mindful of the axiom, he who does not know history is doomed to repeat it, officials vowed not be caught unprepared. BAYAN LEWIS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY: We can't do what Seattle did, which is stand by and then try to call for reserves that don't exist.

FELDMAN: Translation: no vacation for cops and lots of extra hours during the convention. Oh yes, and lots of special training, especially demonstrations for the media like this one.

Protesters have had their own training camps; this one in the Malibu Bluffs.

SHANNON WRIGHT, RUCKUS SOCIETY: This Democracy Action Camp is really a ground breaking camp where we're pulling again together activists that do community organizing in communities of color, environmental activists, labor activists, human rights activists.

FELDMAN: Well, you get the idea.

Now, whomever said fences do not make good neighbors, clearly never had to prepare for a political convention in L.A. A 15-foot fence was erected around the convention center at the same time that a judge tore down a legal fence that would have penned in protesters at a site far from the eyes and ears of delegates.

As the big day drew nearer, publicly expressed fears seemed rarer. More often than not now, what you're likely to hear is that police do not expect large-scale violence. That there is no intelligence information otherwise, but everyone is prepared just in case.

The LAPD chief says that when push comes to shove, police will have to weigh many options before acting.

CHIEF BERNARD PARKS, LOS ANGELES POLICE: People will debate whether we should allow an intersection to be clogged up for 30 minutes, because we didn't choose to arrest a hundred people, because something more important was going on. There's got to be discretion in all the things we do, and we understand that.

FELDMAN: Police will have some 50 cameras around the convention area to help monitor the situation, making this the biggest real-life TV event since "Big Brother."

An undetermined number of businesses downtown are opting to shut their doors during the convention, others changing their hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what we call a business safety tip.

FELDMAN: Oddly enough, some businesses are apparently getting anxiety attacks because of police warnings of possible trouble ahead. If you have a uniform fetish, there will be plenty on display during the convention, some 2,000 cops in 12-hour shifts.

The police figure there will be arrests, which is bad news to L.A.'s court system, which plans to cut back its downtown activities during convention week. Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.


HAYNES: Democracy in America.

WALCOTT: Never a dull moment.

HAYNES: Listen, have a great weekend everybody.

WALCOTT: See you Monday. Bye-bye.



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