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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for September 7, 2000

Aired September 7, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Hi there. I'm Shelley Walcott. Welcome to your Thursday NEWSROOM.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's a quick look at the rundown.

WALCOTT: Leading today's news, a gathering of global proportions is under way at the United Nations.

BAKHTIAR: Up next, we check out controversial new swimming gear in today's "Science Desk."

WALCOTT: We're not out of the water yet, "Worldview" finds us on a turtle mission in the Caribbean.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, she's a beauty.


BAKHTIAR: And, in "Chronicle," we end up examining the dangerous combination of drinking and driving and efforts to combat it.


RODNEY SLATER, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: MADD's strategy, thank God, is working. Habits are changing.


WALCOTT: In today's top story, the Millennium Summit under way in New York. The event has brought out a veritable who's who of world dignitaries, from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Cuban President Fidel Castro. Topics range from world poverty to Middle East peace.

One of the first at the mike: the prime minister of Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world.


MARIO FRICK, PRIME MINISTER OF LIECHTENSTEIN: Madam president, Mr. President, our highly independent world is ailing. Serious and mutually reinforcing threats to our future welfare assume numerous forms. We can confront many of these threats at the local or national level. However, a large number of problems, such as global warming, population growth, environmental degradation, the widening North/South gap, the illegal trade and organized crime must be addressed primarily at the global level.


WALCOTT: With more on the summit, here's Richard Roth.



RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's a greeting which turns every head at the U.N. Millennium Summit.


ROTH: New friends, but old problems for the 189 member countries of the U.N. At the outset, a stark reminder of the challenges facing the U.N.: a minute of silence to mourn three U.N. aid workers killed in West Timor. Summit leaders are debating how to respond faster to crises and close the gap between rich and poor countries.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: We need to decide our priorities, and we must adapt our United Nations so that in future, those priorities are reflected in clear and prompt decisions, leading to real change in people's lives.

ROTH: The first country to speak: the host, the United States. President Clinton noted it was his last appearance here.

CLINTON: If I have learned anything in these last eight years, it is, whether we like it or not, we are growing more interdependent. We must look for more solutions in which all sides can claim a measure of victory and move away from choices in which someone is required to accept complete defeat.

ROTH: After 20 years of differences, the U.S. and Iran have not made up, though step by step they edge closer here. The Iranian president moved up in speaking order while President Clinton was still in the building to hear him. The Iranian president fears any change at the U.N. will strengthen major Western players.

MOHAMMAD KHATAMI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN: The world belongs to all its inhabitants. No double standards, national or international, can ever be accepted in the contemporary world.

ROTH: Many of the huge problems facing the U.N. are at their worst in Africa. TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: For the first time we have in one place here the leaders who hold Africa's destiny in their hands.

ROTH: Questions galore here to ponder, even while posing for the world's largest political photo opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nice smile for me, please. That's great.

ROTH (on camera): There's enough misery around, though, to wipe those smiles away. The U.N. hopes that close encounters of the global kind will revive hope and prompt action to solve what ails the planet.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


BAKHTIAR: Even as world leaders gather to resolve global conflict, the conflicts rage on. Yesterday, in West Timor, pro- Indonesian militiamen killed at least three international refugee workers.

Moscow says in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, a Russian soldier was killed when his armored vehicle hit a landmine.

And right outside the U.N., thousands of demonstrators. Some were protesting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Some were protesting the Iranian government. Another focal point of dissension: Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Deborah Feyerick picks up the story.


PROTESTERS (chanting): Castro has to go.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anti-Castro demonstrators dressed in black, a sign of mourning for political prisoners and what they call human rights abuses.

MARI ICHASO, ANTI-CASTRO DEMONSTRATOR: In Cuba there is no right to free press, there's no right to assembly, there's no freedom of speech. There's no freedom of choices of any kind.

FEYERICK: Across the river in Union City, New Jersey, Cuban- Americans saying Fidel Castro's presence in New York is like salt in an open wound.

JUAN GUTIERREZ, MEMBER, CUBAN AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION: It's almost unbelievable to us that, after 42 years, we're still trying to convince the world that this man is a murderer and a killer.

FEYERICK: As Fidel Castro prepared to address world leaders at the Millennium Summit, protesters were demanding Congress keep the Cuban embargo in place. DENNIS HAYS, MEMBER, CUBAN AMERICA NATIONAL FOUNDATION: I think Castro is desperate. I think that he's run out of credit. You have to look at who's investing in Cuba, and the answer is basically no one.

FEYERICK: But not everyone was unhappy with Castro's visit. Reverend Lucius Walker, of the Pastors for Peace, the group which urged the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba, is holding a Friday church reception for the Cuban president.

REV. LUCIUS WALKER, PASTORS FOR PEACE: My concern is that we allow Cuba to chart its own course, that our country not interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba.

FEYERICK (on camera): The protesters don't think Castro will pay much attention to this demonstration. What they do hope is that by being here it will generate a greater public awareness for the human rights violations they say take place every day in Cuba.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


WALCOTT: Also making headlines today, a Capitol Hill investigation into dozens of deadly accidents that may be linked to Bridgestone/Firestone tires.

In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 1400 complaints about the tires. That includes reports of 88 deaths and at least 250 injuries allegedly caused by the tires suddenly losing their tread and blowing out on the road. Many cases involved Ford Explorers rolling over. And, as a result, millions of the tires have been recalled.

Carl Rochelle now, with more on the investigation into the Bridgestone/Firestone tires.


CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a day for accusations from Congress -- and apologies. Masatoshi Ono, Bridgestone/Firestone's chief executive, flew from Japan for his first appearance before the U.S. Congress.

MASATOSHI ONO, CEO, BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: I come before you to apologize.

ROCHELLE: But Ono told lawmakers Firestone had not yet determined what was causing the tires to fail. House investigators produced evidence they say shows Ford, Firestone and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration knew of the problem at least two years ago.

REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R), LOUISIANA: Why do you keep telling the American Public it's their fault, that they're inflating their tires wrong, when we look at statistics that indicate that something is wrong with these tires?

GARY CRIGGER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: We don't mean to say that it's America's fault. It's not. We're very concerned about all of the incidents that have occurred.

ROCHELLE: Both Ford CEO Jacques Nasser is testifying in the House hearing which is continuing into the evening. Earlier, a spokeswoman for Ford pointed at the tires as the problem, not their vehicles.

HELEN PETRAUSKUS, VICE PRESIDENT, FORD: We too are deeply troubled by the fact that there are defective tires on some of our vehicles. Second, we're working hard to replace bad tires with good tires.

ROCHELLE: Under questioning by lawmakers, the head of NHTSA conceded the problem had not been handled in the best way.

SUE BAILEY, NHTSA: And I will say we clearly would respond differently today.

ROCHELLE (on camera): Even before the last hearing ended, lawmakers were already offering solutions: Senator Patrick Leahy proposing criminal and civil penalties for U.S. tire- and auto-makers if they don't notify the federal government within two days of any overseas product recall. And Senator Arlen Specter calling on the Transportation Committee to issue subpoenas to Ford and Firestone for all records from the discovery of the problem tires to the recall.

Carl Rochelle, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BAKHTIAR: In "Science Desk," we dive into the controversy surrounding new swimsuits some Olympic swimmers are trying out. The new get-ups are designed to reduce water resistance or drag.

Drag is defined as a retarding force acting on a body moving through a fluid parallel and opposite to the direction of motion. The less the drag or resistance on a swimmer, the faster he or she can swim.

Ann Kellan explains.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a change in the look of competitive swimming, but will it also change the sport? Check out the latest swimsuits. Are the days of bikini briefs over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those skimpy little briefs, they're out of here.

KELLAN: Now swimmers take on a new skin that may take as much time to get into as it does to get used to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's go swimming.

KELLAN: These form-fitting suits are at the center of a controversy: Whether they go ankle to neck, to knee, sleeveless, or cover it all. Do they give swimmers an unfair edge in competition?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Already there have been more records broken leading up to the Olympics than we've ever had in the pre-Olympic period.

KELLAN: Tom Malchow broke the world record in the 200-meter butterfly in the suit.

TOM MALCHOW, SWIMMER: You know, you feel smoother in the water. You feel like you're riding a little bit higher in the water. So, you know, I don't know if that's mental where it's, you know, you think the suit works, so it does or not.

KELLAN: Formal protests lodged earlier this year claimed wearing the suit makes a swimmer more buoyant, a violation of rules set by FINA, the International Swimming Federation. The protests were shot down.

STU ISAAC, VICE PRESIDENT, SPEEDO: The suit does not improve buoyancy. The suit, if you put it at the bottom of the pool, would stay there. It is neutrally buoyant.

KELLAN: Speedo's Fast Skin suit has created the biggest hubbub. Made of polyester-Spandex, tiny ridges in the fabric, makers say, cut down drag or water resistance. No formal tests have yet to prove it works.

Some say they don't like the price. These suits can cost $200 or more.

KIMBERLY SCHNEIDER, SWIMMER: It's not in my budget. I don't know how many people can afford it.

JAROD SCHROEDER, SWIMMER: I would rather everybody have the same, like, just the regular swimsuit and see who the best swimmer is and not who the -- who has the best technology.

KELLAN: Five-time gold medalist Jenny Thompson doesn't mind seeing her records shattered by competitors wearing the suit.

JENNY THOMPSON, SWIMMER: And I just feel like the suit is part of the evolution of technology in swimming and it's inevitable.

KELLAN: All this and no one really knows the suit's worth. The summer Olympics in Sydney will be the ultimate test.

Ann Kellan, CNN, Los Angeles, California.


WALCOTT: Yesterday we asked you about a tired old riddle about what's black and white and read all over. The answer was newspapers. Well, today we suggest a new one: the Internet, the information superhighway, cyberspace. Whatever you call it, it's a phenomenon growing by leaps and bounds. But by just how fast?

Wolf Blitzer runs down the numbers.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Internet is growing so fast, even industry experts say it's difficult to predict what next year will bring, let alone five or 10 years down the road. According to a new report compiled for the industry group the U.S. Internet Council, the number of Internet users worldwide has jumped from 171 million to 304 million in just one year. And that number is expected to surpass 1 billion in the next five years.

WILLIAM MYERS, CEO, U.S. INTERNET COUNCIL: Right now with the Internet, we are about 10 milliseconds after the Big Bang, so the planets are just -- are spinning out, there's debris everywhere, gravity hasn't formed. Pulling all that together, sort of creating the world we'll live in is the challenge right now.

BLITZER: And as more users in Asia, Europe and the rest of the world log on, that world is looking to be very international. Seventy-eight percent of all Web sites are currently in English, but only 51 percent of all Internet users are native English speakers, a sign that English eventually may lose its dominance on the World Wide Web.

MYERS: We never expected to find as soon as this year that users in Asia and Europe combined would outnumber users in North America. Yes, there are still more U.S. citizens on the Net than any other country, but different regions of the world are beginning to really assert themselves.

BLITZER: A continuing challenge to industry leaders and government officials will be bridging the so-called digital divide, the separation between those with and without Internet access.

Here in the United States, Internet users are still predominantly white and upper and middle income. But that's expected to change as computers and Internet access become less expensive.


BAKHTIAR: We explore three "T"s in "Worldview": the theater, tennis and turtles. We'll check out two sisters who sizzle on the courts. And from shelling out for lessons to shells, we'll head to the Caribbean for an up-close look at turtles. Plus an inside look at puppets: There are no strings to our story in Japan.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We head to modern-day Japan, which is still a clearing house for ancient forms of art. Traditional Japanese art is noted for its delicacy and exquisite form, along with simple style. Many Japanese look at traditional Chinese art as too grandiose. Traditional arts in Japan include the flower arranging art of Ikebana, popular with young unmarried women. Theater in Japan is highly refined and includes the stylized Kabuki, which is marked by singing and dancing. Noh theater is the classic dance-drama in Japan. Another popular form of theater arts is Bunraku, puppet theater.

As Kim Underwood tells us, it, like many traditional Japanese art forms, is going through some growing pains.


KIM UNDERWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is an art form that is steeped in tradition. In Japan's puppet theater, the dolls wear colorful silk kimonos and perform roles drawn from classical Japanese literature or folklore. When they dance, the music may be centuries old.

Unlike the more familiar marionettes, these puppets are not manipulated by strings. Instead, the puppeteers, dressed all in black, sit behind the dolls on small carts with wheels. They move freely about on the stage holding the limbs of the dolls in their own hands and feet to give them movement.

The cart dolls were first invented in the 1800s to spread Buddhist teachings to people in isolated villages. But today, in an effort to attract new audiences, changes are being made.

Korya Nishikawa, a fifth generation puppet master, has added new acts to the repertoire. His dolls sometimes wear ruffled dresses instead of silk kimonos and move in time to lively Spanish guitar tunes rather than traditional Japanese music.

KORYA NISHIKAWA, PUPPET MASTER (through translator): We do curtain calls using Japanese songs, but while on tour in South America and Mexico, we thought it would be nice to do something with a tune that everyone knows. Flamenco was a hit amongst the foreign audience. And I thought that if I made some other dance number like it, it would appeal to young Japanese people.

UNDERWOOD: Like so many other ancient arts, Japanese puppetry is a victim of disappearing skills. There used to be craftsmen who specialized in carving puppet heads with eyebrows and eyes that moved. Today, Nishikawa and his father make everything themselves, from the heads to the hands and feet.

It's not just the craftsmen who are disappearing. There are fewer and fewer young people interested in carrying on the tradition. Hoping to counteract that trend, Nishikawa and his group hold workshops to introduce the art to people who haven't experienced it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It looks easy, but when I tried it the dolls were very heavy. But I think it's still very interesting.

UNDERWOOD: Nishikawa is hoping that young people will join his group as apprentices. He knows that without new generations of puppeteers, this art form could well disappear.

Kim Underwood, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Next stop, the Caribbean sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean between the West Indies and Central and South America. In days gone by, pirates sailed this sea, looting ships for their riches. Today, one treasure lives beneath the sea, although it, too, has been pilfered for centuries.

The first turtles lived more than 185 million years ago. Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles with shells, and there are about 250 species. Today we spotlight the hawksbill turtle and a man who is trying to save them.

Sandy Jones has details.


OLTON KING, OLD HEGG TURTLE SANCTUARY (singing): I believe I can fly.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, she's a beauty.

SANDY JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Grenadine island of Bequia has its own Dr. Dolittle. Olton Brother King, prompted by his love for the sea and nature, is determined to preserve some of the region's natural beauty.

To achieve this goal, the animal lover has set up the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. For over two years now, Mr. King has provided a haven for the hawksbill sea turtle. Between March and July, he combs the beach looking for eggs. He cares for the turtles until they are fully grown and healthy, and then releases them back into the sea.

OLTON KING, OLD HEGG TURTLE SANCTUARY: This idea came about because I'm a fisherman, I'm a Bequia man and I was always concerned about the things of the ocean. So because I know that this turtle is fast becoming extinct, and I saw the program on "National Geographic" about the life of the turtle, I got as much information as I wanted to inspire me to start saving these turtles.

JONES: According to Mr. King, he chose to protect the hawksbill sea turtle because they're special and unique to the region.

KING: This is our Caribbean turtle, so to speak, because these turtles love shallow water, they love reefs, and the Caribbean in particular has a lot of reefs.

JONES: The turtle sanctuary is one Bequia's most popular tourist attractions. More than 50 tourists visit the site each day.

Although, it's called the turtle sanctuary, sea turtles are not the only animals being cared for. There is also a collection of land turtles, goats and other creatures.

The animal lover says if funding is provided for the project, he will expand the sanctuary to include a variety of other creatures.


BAKHTIAR: Now onto one of my favorite worlds: the world of sports. If you're any kind of a sports junkie, like I am, you've heard about two sisters taking the tennis world by storm. They're fast, furious, bold and beautiful, and they're the epitome of sibling rivalry. Yes, I'm talking about the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.

Venus Williams exploded onto the tennis scene in 1994 at the age of 14. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, her serves have been clocked at 110 miles an hour. And Serena, at 5 foot 10 and 145 pounds, also burst onto the tennis courts with fire in her eyes and a killer forehand.

The two sisters learned to play tennis while growing up in Compton, a gang-plagued city outside of Los Angeles, California, where they were coached by their father. It was their heart-wrenching match-up in the semifinals at Wimbledon this year which captured the world's heart.

But as good as they are divided, they're unbeatable united.

Deborah Feyerick has more on this dynamic duo.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last two years, Lauren (ph) and Corey Burnett (ph) have been practicing their tennis, four days a week, two hours a day. Their heroes are also California sisters, Venus and Serena Williams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really inspire me for playing more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister and I, we hope to be like her and Serena.

FEYERICK: Their wins have electrified young African-Americans, experts say, inspiring more inner-city kids to take to the courts and even dream of turning pro.

DAVID SPARROW, "TENNIS" MAGAZINE: Champions are really the ones who breed the inspiration for a new generation to come along. So even a top-10 player who's, you know, making a good living isn't necessarily going to provide the motivation or get the air time on TV playing in the finals of Wimbledon as Venus did.

FEYERICK: Venus Williams was not the first African-American player to win Wimbledon. Althea Gibson won in 1958, Arthur Ashe in 1975, each breaking the color barrier and inspiring new players in their day. Like them, the Williams sisters are rallying a new generation of players. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arthur Ashe had a quiet elegance about him. I think Venus and Serena have a lot more attitude, and certainly they've got, you know, they've got the looks, they've got the bodies, they've got the power.

ARVELIA MYERS, TENNIS COACH: This tiny one here is my first trophy.

FEYERICK: Arvelia Myers, once on the tennis circuit, teaches the game in Harlem. She says one in every five of her young students drops out. The sport's just too expensive.

MYERS: They hit a glass ceiling there because everything now becomes $30, $40 to enter one tournament. And you've got to play a minimum of 10, 20 of those a week. And not too many grassroots parents, I would say, can really afford that.

FEYERICK (on camera): One tennis expert says the real impact of Venus and Serena Williams is that children who would never consider tennis will pick up a racket. And it will be those kids in 10 or 15 years who dominate the court.

(voice-over): Dyrnest Sinckler hopes so. His 8- and 5-year-old sons are enrolled in a New York tennis camp this summer.

DYRNEST SINCKLER, TENNIS FATHER: If they do very well and become famous, they'll be able to take care of the old man when they get older.

FEYERICK: Kidding aside, those dreams now seem all the more possible.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


WALCOTT: You've heard of MADD -- not the emotion, but the mothers dedicated to reducing drunken driving. The organization says it does not believe accidents cause people to be drunken driving victims, it says people die and are injured because of choices.

In one recent year, 21 percent of the young drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Now on the 20th anniversary of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the grassroots organization is still fighting to make those, along with some other numbers, lower.

Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are a mother and daughter with a story to tell.

MILLIE WEBB, PRESIDENT, MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING: She became my reason to live, you know, the light in my life that gave me the motivation to go on. TUCHMAN: Twenty-nine-year-old Kara Hensel (ph) is legally blind, born prematurely, the result of a car crash with a driver who had been drinking. It left her mother, Millie Webb, critically injured with burns over 75-percent of her body. Also in the car, Millie Webb's nephew and her first child, 4-year-old Lori (ph). Both children died in the hospital.

Millie Webb remembers her reaction when she was told her daughter was dead.

WEBB: Because my pain was so severe, it was that she wasn't hurting anymore. But as I began to feel a bit better, my heart began to hurt even more when I knew that I went home that she wouldn't be going.

TUCHMAN: The driver's blood alcohol content was 0.08, which was not considered legally drunk in Tennessee in 1971, and still isn't in most states today.

WEBB: By making 0.08 the law of the land in all 50 states, we can prevent at least 500 more deaths each year.

TUCHMAN: Mrs. Webb is now the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as the organization observes its 20th anniversary with a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

RODNEY SLATER, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: MADD's strategy, thank God, is working. Habits are changing.

TUCHMAN: Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia, all in Orange, have 0.08 as the limit for driving while intoxicated. Kentucky joins the group next month. In most states, the standard is 0.10. President Clinton sent a letter to Congress Wednesday supporting legislation which would lead to all states becoming 0.08.

The liquor industry believes the concept is flawed.

JOHN DOYLE, AMERICAN BEVERAGE INSTITUTE: The biggest problem with 0.08 is that it doesn't work. It will target and arrest responsible social drinkers.

TUCHMAN: But Millie Webb says the driver who changed the life of her family was hardly responsible.

WEBB: I've known him my entire life and he's never sent a get- well card or said I'm sorry.

TUCHMAN: And now she fights back by leading a grassroots organization of 2 million people.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: A very sad but worthy effort.

BAKHTIAR: Absolutely.

And that does it for us here on NEWSROOM.

WALCOTT: We'll see you tomorrow.




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