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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for August 15, 2000

Aired August 15, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We're cruising into Tuesday here on NEWSROOM. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I'm Andy Jordan.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. We begin right here in the United States.

JORDAN: In today's top story, the torch is passed symbolically from the current U.S. president to a presidential hopeful, as the Democratic convention kicks off in California.

And the fate of more than 100 sailors trapped in a Russian submarine hangs in the balance.

WALCOTT: Then, in today's "Health Desk," the battle of the bulge versus technology.


THOMAS J. PHILIPSON, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Historically, if you wanted to be obese, you couldn't afford it. And that's true in poor countries today.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. In "Worldview," today NEWSROOM goes fishing. Find out who's getting hooked on a scaly health treatment.

Can swallowing a live animal help you breathe easier? We'll explore a cure that seems a little bit fishy!

JORDAN: Then, in "Chronicle," it's all aboard the Earth train for a course in politics.


TAHJ MOWRY, AGE 14: I want to go everywhere and just help kids, and tell them that they can do it, if they put their mind to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: This Tuesday in the United States: pomp and politics. Tradition and strategy are mingling in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, where the Democratic National Convention is in full swing. Its first night brought a potpourri of politicians, protesters and even a past president. Jimmy Carter is the party's only living former president. He was honored for his legacy.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton also made an appearance. She's hoping to build momentum not only for the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore, but for her own Senate bid in New York. She passed the podium microphone to her husband, President Bill Clinton, who sought to associate Vice President Al Gore with the successes of his administration.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, at this moment of unprecedented good fortune, our people face a fundamental choice. Are we going to keep this progress and prosperity going? Yes, we are.


WALCOTT: As President Clinton made his pitch for a Gore presidency, the party faithful were plotting on campaign strategy. Who will they target? Jeanne Meserve looks at the demographics of the modern Democratic Party.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): African- Americans are the bedrock of the Democratic Party. In 1996, an overwhelming 84 percent of African-Americans voted for Bill Clinton.

GEOFF GARIN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It is a result partly of what it is Democrats do for African-Americans; it is a result partly of what Republicans do to African-Americans. But, clearly, in terms of, if you wanted to look at one tried and true loyal constituency, it would have to be African-Americans.

MESERVE: The party also wears the union label. Organized labor has consistently given its votes and organizational skills to the Democrats.

Al Gore's support for permanent normal trade status with China infuriated some labor organizations, but few observers see lasting harm to his candidacy.

ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: The very same union voters that are most upset over those trade issues are the more liberal union members that are not going to walk away from Al Gore. They're going to stick with Al Gore.

MESERVE: Women are a crucial Democratic constituency. Bill Clinton profited from a 17-point gender gap with women. Al Gore is struggling to hang onto women voters, because Republican George W. Bush is fighting fiercely for them and for two other traditional Democratic constituencies, which have lately been drifting towards the Republicans: Latinos and seniors.

Gore is trying to rally those groups and fend off Bush, by drawing distinctions between their positions on the federal role in Social Security, education, prescription drug benefits, and gun control.

GARIN: A lot of the issues, with which gore has chosen to create that bright red line, are issues that really speak to the gut and the heart of the base of the Democratic Party.

MESERVE: Polling shows a majority of Democrats support stricter gun control, along with abortion rights and environmental protection. They tend to have lower incomes than Republicans do and are more likely to live in urban areas.

Interestingly enough, while 30 percent consider themselves liberal, 48 percent say they are moderate, and 22 percent identify themselves as conservative.

Bill Clinton won the White House by pushing the party to the center.

GOEAS: He combined the conservative factions of the Democratic Party, along with really a lot of conservative independents and conservative Republicans, to kind of govern the country over the last six years, and the liberal Democrats had no where to go.

MESERVE: In order for Gore to win, analysts say, he must replicate Clinton's formula or devise one of his own that will bring his diverse party together and motivate its members to get up, get out and vote.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Los Angeles.



ANNOUNCER: On day two of the 1916 Democratic convention, in St. Louis, delegates went back on their 1912 platform call for a single- term presidency and renominated incumbent Woodrow Wilson for a second term. Wilson, who'd been elected in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt's third-party candidacy split the Republican Party, got all but one vote on the first ballot.

Europe had been at war for two years, and staying out of the war had been a Democratic convention keynote theme. The Wilson campaign slogan would become "He kept us out of war." Wilson would win reelection, and four months later get the Congress to declare war on Germany.


JORDAN; We're following another story in today's news involving a Russian nuclear submarine stuck on the bottom of the Barents Sea. It was apparently involved in a collision before sinking inside the Arctic Circle.

Russian naval officials say more than 100 crew members are on board and that an intense rescue operation is under way. Now there appears to be a race against time to save the stranded crew, and questions are surfacing about the potential environmental impact from the accident.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russian navy says, this giant submarine is now sitting on the bottom of more than 350 feet of extremely cold water. Its two nuclear reactors, the navy said, are shut down. There has been no radioactive leakage.

Inside, more than 100 crew members remain trapped, but in radio contact with ships on the surface.

The admiral in charge of the Russian navy says, a number of ships, including the Kursk, were involved in a major naval exercise in the Barents Sea. When the Kursk was damaged in a big and serious collision.

So far, the Russian navy has not said what the Kursk hit or what hit the submarine. There are more than ten Russian naval vessels at the scene, including a aircraft carrier, rescue helicopters and at least three other submarines.

Russia's Northern Fleet Press Service says a rescue operation for the trapped sailors is underway. Russian submarine crews are trained to evacuate through escape hatches, but water temperatures are so low and water pressure so high, it's unlikely many crew members would survive an unassisted swim to the surface.

The Kursk is one of the largest submarines in the world, a little more than 500 feet long, it weighs 14,000 tons. Built in 1994, it's designed to carry 24 nuclear warheads. The Russian navy said, none were aboard at the time of the accident.

(on camera): These military exercises were supposed to showcase a reinvigorated Russian navy. Instead, now, the Russians have a nuclear submarine on the floor of the Barents Sea. The admiral in charge of the navy says, the outlook for a successful rescue is very unlikely.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.



ANN KELLAN, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Any modern navy that launches nuclear powered submarines puts the environment at risk of radioactive contamination. In the '60s, two U.S. Navy nuclear powered subs sank. The USS Thresher went down off the Massachusetts coast and broke into six pieces, but the Navy says the nuclear reactor compartment remains intact. The USS Scorpion mysteriously went down near the Azores in 1968, broke in two, and, to date, no radiation leaks have been detected.

These two subs now sit at the bottom of the ocean, along with a number of subs from the former Soviet Union. In 1970, a fire on board sank the nuclear powered sub K-8. In 1981, the K-27, disabled from an 18-year-old on board nuclear accident, was intentionally sunk off the northern coast of Russia.

In 1986, the Soviet's K-219 went down just east of Bermuda after an explosion in a loaded missile tube with two nuclear reactors and 16 nuclear missiles on board. Given Soviet press controls, we don't know if radioactive materials leaked in any of these incidents.

In the only case where we know plutonium leaked, in 1989, the Soviet Navy sub Komsomolets sunk in the Norwegian Sea just 100 miles from Bear Island. Lethal plutonium from two damaged torpedo casings contaminated ocean waters, until the Russians sealed the hull in 1996, which should hold it for 20 years. If they leak, the radiation would likely kill sea life nearby, and some of that fuel stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

Ann Kellan, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: In "Health Desk," the battle of the bulge. Here in the United States, studies show people are losing that battle. In fact, figures indicate half of all Americans are overweight. Approximately one in five children, between the ages of 6 and 17, is overweight.

Obesity is defined simply as an excess of body fat. Too much fat puts a person at risk for health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.

Now, in scrambling to explain why Americans are getting heavier, there's a new theory that might surprise you.

Brooks Jackson explains.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ah, isn't technology wonderful? Not only can it be annoying, but technology may also be fattening. At least, that's a theory being advanced seriously by a University of Chicago economist.

THOMAS J. PHILIPSON, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Historically, if you wanted to be obese, you couldn't afford it. And that's true in poor countries today. So the price of calories has gone down, and the cost of expending them has gone up. So naturally, you will have a rise in weight.

JACKSON: It's a fact, Americans are getting heavier. The latest figures show more than half of all Americans are overweight or downright obese. The number has grown from 43 percent in 1961 to more than 53 percent in the '90s. It's a serious medical problem.

DR. ARTHUR FRANK, OBESITY MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST: People die of the consequences of obesity. It makes blood pressure worse, it makes coronary artery disease worse, high cholesterol worse. It makes diabetes worse.

JACKSON: But doctors can't agree on why there's an outbreak of obesity. Could the explanation be economic? It's true, food is abundant in rich industrial societies like the U.S. and relatively cheap, and also true technology has made spending calories more difficult. Work used to be physically harder, as re-enacted here at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm near Washington.

PHILIPSON: So essentially, if you wanted to earn a living, you had to engage in physical activity. So that's essentially getting paid to exercise.

JACKSON: In today's new economy, more and more people get paid to process information -- no heavy lifting required. Some still do get paid to exercise. Ever see a fat bicycle messenger? But more and more, we pay to exercise: money for health clubs, sports gear and also precious leisure time.

The theory might explain the odd fact that in America, low-income people weigh more and high-income people weigh less. Theoretically, the rich can afford to be thin.

This economic theory holds that Americans rationally choose to weigh more, choosing to spend time and money on things like movies and Web surfing and, yes, eating, rather than paying the price of becoming thin -- an informed choice.

PHILIPSON: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you eat less and exercise more, you're going to lose weight.

JACKSON: Economics usually deals with money and assumes people make rational choices -- like buying cheap, selling dear, maximizing profit. But when it comes to food, actual human behavior is often far from rational.

FRANK: We don't eat simply because we're hungry. We don't stop eating when we're not hungry. Every culture on Earth uses food for hospitality. Every culture on Earth uses food as a way of bringing people together.

JACKSON (on camera): But it is food for thought. As you sit their on your couch watching this, maybe you can blame those added pounds on the new economy -- if you choose.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


JORDAN: "Worldview" takes us to North America, the Middle East, and Asia. And keep your eyes open for our Rudi Bakhtiar. She'll show you how to cast for fish before you learn about a fishy custom in India. We'll also examine poverty in the United States. And we'll look at what kinds of lessons are being drawn from the Holocaust.

WALCOTT: On to Israel, a small country in the Middle East. Israel occupies a narrow strip of land along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The country was founded on May 14th, 1948, as a homeland for Jewish people from all parts of the world. Over 80 percent of Israel's people are Jews.

Between 1948 and the mid-1980s, about 1.8 million Jews migrated to Israel, many to escape persecution in their native country.

Israel became the adopted home of thousands of Holocaust survivors. The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews and others, by the Nazis during World War II. The Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler, wanted to eliminate all Jews, as part of his aim to conquer the world.

By the end of the war, the Nazis had killed about 6-million Jewish men, women and children; more than two-thirds of the Jews in Europe. Some Holocaust survivors have tried to forget the horror they lived through. But others say, it is crucial to keep memories of the Holocaust alive.

With more, here's Jerrold Kessel.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Years go by but memories of the Holocaust don't fade and the sound of the memorial siren seems to intensify the pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear the siren every day. But this leaves -- makes me trembling.

KESSEL: While some Holocaust survivors speak of a deep need to forget their horrors, their peers say Israelis have an obligation never to forget or allow the world to forget.

Awareness of the Holocaust is sharpening. Pope John Paul II during his recent Holy Land pilgrimage visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in his most sympathetic identification with the victims.

TOM SEGEV, AUTHOR, "THE SEVENTH MILLION": The holocaust is not an Israeli story anymore. It's a universal story. The whole world has adopted the Holocaust as a universal code of ultimate evil.

The concept of guilt has also changed. It's not personal guilt anymore. It's moral guilt that obliges everybody.

KESSEL: At Auschwitz in Poland, on the day when Israelis remembered, Polish teenagers joined Israeli teenagers and survivors at a ceremony called the March of the Living. One of the messages, for other nations in Europe to address the moral implications of what they did or did not do during the Holocaust.

RUTH DREYFUSS, FORMER SWISS PRESIDENT: The problem is not to have a clear conscience. The problem is to know what was the reality of this time.

SEGEV: In Israel, people still tend to draw national lessons from the Holocaust. In the world, more humanistic lessons are being drawn from the Holocaust. I think Israel still has to learn to adopt some more universal lessons from the Holocaust. And we are learning. It's a process.

KESSEL (on camera): Especially critical at a time when Israelis stand at the crossroads of some very critical decisions about their place in the Middle East and about the nature of their society: just like any other, or because of the Holocaust, a symbol of survival.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.


JORDAN: Next up in "Worldview," poverty in America. We've all seen the faces of poverty around the world. Experts say the problem is so pervasive that it affects about one in every five people around the globe. There can be a tendency to think of it as a problem only for developing nations.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the overall U.S. poverty rate stood at 13.3 percent in 1997. That left nearly 36 million Americans living below the poverty line of $16,400, for a family of four.

A large chunk of those Americans were children.

Frank Buckley takes a closer look.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The facade of an apartment building, in New York City, hides the struggles of one of the families living inside. Enter apartment seven and you are entering the world of the Barrientos family, where Margie Barrientos, a single mother, lives with her four children, ages 10 through 20.

Conditions in the subsidized apartment provide an insight into the daily struggles. Roaches and rodents enter through gaping holes. Margie's income as a seamstress: $512 every two weeks, exhausted quickly after payments for rent, food, utilities and medicine for her chronically ill daughter.

MARGIE BARRIENTOS: Yeah, it's hard to make it sometimes.

BUCKLEY: Behind the facade of her understatement, a deep pain.

BARRIENTOS: Sometimes I think it's for the kids, you know, when they got to struggle with me and see what they go through. It's not easy for them.

BUCKLEY (on camera): And the findings of a new study by the Children's Defense Fund suggests that the Barrientos family is far from alone. It says a child in the U.S. now is more likely to be poor than in any year between 1966 and 1980. Thirteen and a half million children living in poverty; many of those children, more then 70 percent, part of working families, like the Barrientos family.

(voice-over): Marian Wright Edelman is the president of the Children's Defense Fund. What she finds particularly disturbing is that so many children are suffering during such a prosperous time in the U.S.

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, PRESIDENT, CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND: At this moment, we are the sole superpower in the world, the most powerful, the most wealthy our children are suffering. When we have the capacity to take care of them, why don't we? Where is our spiritual will? What do we value? If we don't value our children, I don't know what we stand for. And so this is a moment of real decision and choice.

BUCKLEY: The report advocates a number of actions from more government funding to more mentoring of children to better monitoring of legislators. The goal: to improve the lives of children like those of the Barrientos family.

BARRIENTOS: I still thank God for what we have, because at least we have food on the table and we have warmth that keeps us. And we have each other.

BUCKLEY: Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


BAKHTIAR: For a lot of people, fishing is a relaxing pastime. Even if I don't catch anything out here, it's great to just get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. But for some, it's a lot more than just a hobby.

(voice-over): Around the world, fishing is big business. Worldwide, the annual fish catch totals about 130 million tons, or 120 million metric tons. It's an industry that provides jobs and food for millions of people.

India is one of the world's leaders in fishing. And recently, crowds were gathered to gobble up fish packed full of special ingredients. But don't expect to whip up this recipe at home. It's not really a meal, it's actually medicinal. And the fish aren't even cooked.

James Martone has the details.


JAMES MARTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The medicine consists of small fish stuffed with special herbs and then stuffed alive into the mouths of people suffering from respiratory problems.

The Batini Gaud (ph) family says to be effective the fish must be taken annually, for three years, during a solar phase known in India as Mrigasira, taking place here in India this week.

The family has been administering the herb stuffed fish for generations. The family says a saint gave their relatives the recipe in 1845.

"This is a 155 year old tradition. We are in our 5th generation now," said Vishh Anath Gaud (ph), eldest brother in the family.

This years treatment in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad drew many patients.

"I have come for the third time this year," says Sanjay Kumar (ph), who suffers from asthma. "I feel some relief, but it still has not been cured totally. I may come again next year," he says.

Hyderabad's tourism director says the city hopes to profit from the popularity of the treatment.

KRISHNA RAO, HYDERABAD TOURISM DIRECTOR: When people come into Hyderabad for this medical of fish medicine, the tourism department wants to take advantage of their presence in Hyderabad and enlighten them and educate them about the places to be seen.

MARTONE: But for the time being, the small living fish, stuffed with herbs, appears to be the big attraction.

James Martone, CNN, New Delhi.


WALCOTT: As thousands of reporters, politicians and delegates converge on Los Angeles for the Democratic National Convention, a train carrying a group of students has headed out on another type of political journey.

CNN student bureau reports on the "Earth train" and some civics students on a trip of a lifetime.


JASON FRIEDMAN, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): From the outside, it looks like any other daily commuter train. But this is the, L.A. bound Earth train. And what goes on inside is more important than reaching the final destination. Dozens of civic-minded kids debate the issues they care most about, gearing up for a week- long crash course in politics.

Among the passengers are some familiar faces, like Tahj Mowry, star of the WB's "Smart Guy."

TAHJ MOWRY, AGE 14: I realize that, since I'm an actor, I'm very fortune to have things that other kids don't. And I want to reach out and talk to other kids and tell them how fortunate they can be and that they are already; even though, they don't have the things that I have.

ARJAY SMITH, AGE 16: I knew people were watching me, and I had to making a difference -- I could make a difference just from being on TV. MOWRY: And I think I'm going to build more and more visit maybe countries. That's what I want to do. I want to go everywhere and just help kids, and tell them that they can do it if they put their mind to it.

FRIEDMAN (on camera): Earth train is about a lot more than just child celebrities on a scenic trip to Los Angeles. Most of the passengers are everyday kids.

LTOYA WHEELER, AGE 21: I live in a community with a very low voter turnout rate, and I would like to up that percentage, because the youth out there, they do not vote because they feel that their voice is not heard.

JOEY MALLMAN, AGE 15: It gives ma a chance to represent a lot of other people.

FRANCISCO CASTILLO, AGE 20: I think this is one in a lifetime experience. And I think most importantly, i is unity amongst the young people. Before we got on the train, we didn't know each other, and now it's like we're talking with one other.

WHEELER: Adults, they try to tell the youth and tell the political leaders what the youth want, but they don't really know. The youth know what the youth want, and that's what we are going to try to do.

MALLMAN: I feel excited and I feel a little bit nervous. I've never done anything like this.

FRIEDMAN: This train trip was only one leg of the students' journey. They will spend a week in this convention city immersed in national politics. Then return home to share what they've learned with their communities.

Jason Friedman, CNN Student Bureau, Los Angeles.


JORDAN: And, of course, stay with us all week for coverage from Los Angeles and the Democratic National Convention.

WALCOTT: And that wraps up today's show. We'll see you tomorrow.


WALCOTT: Bye-bye.



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