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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for September 15, 2000

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


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Your Friday NEWSROOM is here. So are we. Welcome. I'm Tom Haynes.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. We have a jam-packed program. Here's the rundown.

HAYNES: Topping today's show: a furor over fuel sparks protest in Europe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a pain for me as a businessmen, but then, you know, the fact that hopefully in the long-term everything will come down. I am prepared to put up with this.


WALCOTT: Then, artwork or footwear? You decide in "Editor's Desk."


AARON BETSKY, SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART: These aren't just shoes, these are incredibly, intricate compositions that you wear on your foot as you are moving around.


HAYNES: "Worldview" enters a world of international intrigue and introduces you to a master of disguise.


ANTONIO MENDEZ, FMR. CIA AGENT: The job title that I would use as the descriptor for what I did would be the technical operations officer.


WALCOTT: And "Chronicle" finds us celebrating Hispanic heritage. HAYNES: Fury over fuel prices finds its way into today's news. Truckers, cab drivers and many others angry over the high cost of gasoline Have been on the front lines of protests in Europe that have slowed the wheels of commerce.

A series of road blockades throughout Europe has brought traffic to a standstill. Now, for the first time in weeks, there are signs the fuel crisis may be easing a little.

After British Prime Minister Tony Blair said protests were putting lives at risk, truckers called off their demonstrations, even though the British government refused to meet demands for fuel tax relief.

Taxes account for 75-percent of the price of gas in Britain, which costs about $4.30 a gallon.

Our coverage begins with Richard Blystone, who gives us some perspective now on the protests in Britain.


RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a strategic withdrawal. By packing up their posters and barricades, the protesters fenced off the moral high ground before the public could blame them for nearly bringing Britain to a halt and costing the economy hundreds of millions of dollars a day.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when this island stood firm against the might of Nazi Germany. And opinion polls overwhelmingly show that this too is one of those times when it's dangerous to trifle with the long-suffering British people.

In the late 1970s, labor unions, out of control, left streets full of uncollected garbage. Public revenge at the ballot box put the Labor Party out of power for a generation. Then conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher misjudged the outrage aroused by her poll tax, and it wasn't long before she was gone.

So, New Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a hostage to fortune by declaring he won't budge and lower taxes on the most expensive fuel in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they will lose at the next election. I think a lot of people that voted Labor and thought we would have a different type of government will be very disappointed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Tony Blair has lost it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure, although in the last few days they probably could have done things a little bit better, I think they're in touch with the way the nation are feeling now, and I'm sure they'll put it right.

BLYSTONE: Keen to show he is in touch, the prime minister made a plea for understanding. TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Whatever the strength of feelings on the price of petrol, and I'm well aware of the strength of those feelings, I do hope that over time people will carefully reflect on recent events.

However much people may dislike paying petrol duty, there is no way that any government of this country could or should yield to this form of protest.

BLYSTONE: Mr. Blair may get some credit for Esso backing down on a fresh boost of three cents a liter on gasoline, after the prime minister met with oil executives. But it remains to be seen whether voters will blame him or the protesters for fuel queues that won't end for days, for bare supermarket shelves, for curtailed bus and hospital services.

And what will happen if Mr. Blair still refuses to come up with the tax cut that protesters say is their price for letting the tankers roll.

(on camera): This has been a 21st-century protest, decentralized and light on its feet. A few cell phone calls and Internet messages, and it could start all over again.

Richard Blystone, CNN, London.


WALCOTT: Anger over the high cost of fuel was evident in other parts of Europe as well. In Germany, protesters brought traffic to standstill in at least two cities, and more disruptions are scheduled to take place unless German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder abandons a plan to raise fuel prices even higher.

Chris Burns has more.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a widening protest effort, hundreds of farmers, truck drivers and taxi drivers snarled the streets of Hanover, one of Germany's largest cities, demanding the leftist-led government there scrap rising ecology taxes on fuel.

A similar protest in Belgium is also tying up traffic on the German side of the border. And, for the first time in Europe's weeks old fuel protests, demonstrators targeted German refineries, temporarily blocking them in at least three cities.

In Berlin, the conservative opposition tried to turn up the heat on Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder with their own protest campaign. They handed out leaflets calling the so-called eco-tax, a K.O. tax, that they say could knock out businesses.

Polls indicate a majority of Germans support the fuel price protests. Taxes make up about 70 percent of the price of gasoline in Germany, and the leftist government wants to boost eco-taxes further.

So far, unions are still backing the eco-taxes, which help cut Social Security contributions and pay for pensions.

But the Truck Owners' Federation is planning a nationwide protest in less than two weeks, which could pose the biggest challenge yet for Chancellor Schroeder's nearly two-year-old government.

Chris Burns, CNN, Berlin.


HAYNES: While consumers across Europe and the United States focus on the high price of gasoline, another fossil fuel is in the headlines too: natural gas. Also called methane, natural gas is a colorless, odorless fuel, and a popular form of energy. It's used for heating, cooling and the production of electricity.

But, a recent rise in the cost of natural gas has some wondering if an energy crisis is on the way.

Jennifer Auther explains.


JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a natural gas pipeline exploded last month in New Mexico killing 12 people, it compromised California's already-tight power supply. With one blast, 400-million fewer cubic feet of natural gas comes daily to California from the El Paso natural gas pipelines.

That reduction in supply caused natural gas prices to spurt by $15 million a day, just in California.

This was just one of eight natural gas pipelines into the state, and just one example of why consumers have witnessed a doubling of wholesale natural gas prices in the past year.

PHIL PLYNN, ALARON TRADING COMPANY: What we had in the natural gas industry years ago is that the demand wasn't that great, profitability wasn't that great, so we didn't see a lot of expansion of capacity. And now, a couple of years later, we're paying the price for that.

AUTHER (on camera): The greater demand for natural gas is directly linked to an ever-growing demand for electricity. Natural gas from the U.S. and Canada is the fuel of choice for electricity plants, because it is considered to be clean and efficient.

(voice-over): To keep more air conditioners humming, more computers on-line, and other electronic devices going, almost all electricity plants now under construction in the U.S. will be fueled by natural gas.

RAJEEV DHAWAN, UNIV. OF CALIF. AT LOS ANGELES SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: We can't do too much of hydropower anymore. Nuclear power is not in people's, you know, radar screen.

AUTHER: In the West, it's cooling homes, but competition from the Northeast is also driving up natural gas prices, as more people turn away from more expensive heating oil, to keep warm.

Roger Cooper, of the American Gas Association, says there's no crisis.

ROGER COOPER, AMERICAN GAS ASSOCIATION: The United States has ample, enormous resources of natural gas. We have at least a 60-year supply. Unfortunately, like gasoline and fuel oil, this is going to be more expensive for consumers this winter.

AUTHER: And speaking for the association representing natural gas distributors, Cooper says the U.S. now has the largest number of drilling rigs since 1985. So, eventually, natural gas prices will be forced down.

Jennifer Auther, CNN, Los Angeles.


WALCOTT: In our "Editor's Desk," we put our best foot forward in shoes. These days, shoes are big business. But it wasn't always so.

In early civilizations, sandals were the most common footwear. In the Middle Ages, shoes were generally simple moccasins. Boots were common in Europe in the 1600s. And in 1760, the first shoe factory appeared in Massachusetts.

Today, the average American woman owns 30 pairs of shoes -- not me -- and back in 1986, when the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, and his wife, Imelda, fled their country, she left behind 3,000 pairs of shoes.

Today we look at sneakers. And while they may be the lowest form of apparel we wear, a San Francisco museum considers them high art.

Don Knapp steps up with the story.


DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just look at what we're putting on our feet: footwear that's gotten so fancy it's wound up in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

AARON BETSKY, SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART: These aren't just shoes, these are incredibly intricate compositions that you wear on your foot as you're moving around.

KNAPP: Not that we haven't seen them already. It's just that we may not have realized how much our tastes have changed or how much we'll spend. These rhinestone beauties bring $400 a pair.

BETSKY: I think that the last five years have really seen this tremendous explosion of forms and colors and textures, and that really has a lot to do with computers and with new materials and with the ever-quickening cycles of fashion.

These are last year's Air Jordans, and you can see that they're really becoming very abstract and very strange looking.

KNAPP: Perhaps not as strange as these.

BETSKY: They're really about surviving in the urban asphalt jungle, and so they're all spiky on the back so you can ward off all dangers.

KNAPP: There are stretchable shoes, shoes you can turn inside- out, and genuine high-heeled sneakers.

BETSKY: A lot of these shoes are pushing the boundary between what you would call a sneaker or something's that's used for athletic wear, and something that you wear as a dress shoe.

KNAPP: Designer Freddie Anzures thinks we may be wearing this in a few years.

FREDDIE ANZURES, INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER: It would have this kind of leafy, techno-leaf on your foot, and photosynthetically would grab sunlight, bring that energy into your foot, and create little pressure points on your foot, kind of like reflexology.

KNAPP: Another futuristic concept: shoes filled with sand.

RICK LEWIS, IDEO DESIGN: So if you're walking in the middle of a big city, you could feel like you're walking on the beach.

KNAPP (on camera): It appears the extremes of sneaker design are driven by what consumers will buy and wear. And so far it seems consumers have yet to reach their limits.

Don Knapp, CNN, San Francisco.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places, and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

HAYNES: The science of secrecy in "Worldview" today. We'll meet a master of disguise, and we'll let you in on some tricks of the trade of a powerful U.S. agency.

Perhaps more than anything else, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is known for its secrecy. Now, like the peeling of an onion, some of the CIA's hidden layers are slowly coming to light. A recent visit with a retired agent revealed a rare glimpse into the shadows of international intrigue.

Judy Woodruff takes us inside the CIA.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Antonio Mendez has been an artist most of his life, and today his paintings sell for thousands of dollars. However, it was not so long ago that his canvas took an entirely different form.

For years, instead of paintbrushes, Mendez used tools like rubber cement, scissors or a comb to craft his work for his employer, the CIA. His job was to create disguises, conjuring up such convincing new identities for agents that even their own families were not able to recognize them.

ANTONIO MENDEZ, FMR. CIA AGENT: I went back to Washington for 10 days of disguise training. And when I came back to Denver where my wife was waiting for me at the gate at the airport, I did two things: I changed my hairline and I put on a pair of glasses. What I didn't do is I didn't make eye contact and I walked right past her just like this.

WOODRUFF (on camera): And she didn't...

A. MENDEZ: And I went like that. And she said, where'd you come from?

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Antonio Mendez came from the Nevada desert, yearning for an escape to a more exciting and adventurous life.

A. MENDEZ: I was applying to a blind ad in the "Denver Post," "artist to work overseas with the U.S. Navy." So I answered the ad just to see what it was, and the next thing you know I was in a motel room with the blinds drawn talking to a CIA recruiter, and that's when he broke cover.

WOODRUFF: In 1990, Mendez broke his cover when he retired from the CIA.

(on camera): How do you describe over the years what your job was at the CIA.

A. MENDEZ: The job title that I would use as the descriptor for what I did would be the technical operations officer. And in the lore, that's the Q branch, in the James Bond lore.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): And like Q from James Bond, he has a collection of gadgets, like this mole.

A. MENDEZ: I have put a piece of spy gear inside of a mole like that for somebody to carry across the border, and that spy gear was what we call a bullet lens.

WOODRUFF: Or this coat that was actually used by the KGB. A. MENDEZ: If you look very closely at that button, you will see that this particular part of the coat is not an ordinary part.

WOODRUFF (on camera): There's a lens underneath there, right?

A. MENDEZ: Exactly. And what's going on here is there's an actuator in my pocket that is firing that lens, and that lens is part of a camera.

WOODRUFF: That's amazing. But you've got to be aiming it in the right...

A. MENDEZ: Yes, well it takes a little practice, you know. Nobody said spying is going to be easy.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): He joined the CIA during the heyday of spy versus spy. His specialty was exfiltration: getting friendly agents out of hostile territory. He plied his trade in all the hot spots of the Cold War, including South East Asia and Moscow.

This photograph was taken by Mendez. The little car next to the bus was being driven by KGB agents who were tailing him at the time.

A. MENDEZ: Every day when you go to work, you're looking at an enemy that you can love to hate. That's part of the romance of it. And that was really great that, you know, against the U.S.S.R. because they were static and they were formidable and they were bent on our destruction. So everybody understood what the Cold War was about.

WOODRUFF: His most prominent mission did not involve Moscow, however, but another nemesis of the United States: Iran. In 1979 when Iranian students took 52 Americans hostage, six U.S. embassy employees managed to escape and hide out at the homes of Canadian diplomats based in Tehran. The job of getting them safely out of Iran was assigned to Antonio Mendez.

A. MENDEZ: What I had to do was present an idea that was so interesting and so, you know, alluring that everybody could believe in it. And the idea of a motion picture scouting party was what I came up with.

WOODRUFF: Using a Canadian alias and passport, Mendez created a fake movie production company called Studio 6. He made up a movie poster for the fictitious film and even took out ads in Hollywood trade papers announcing the production. Then he flew to Iran with six fake Canadian passports and a risky plan.

A. MENDEZ: What you have to think about in these cases is what is the worst case? What happens if, in fact, you know, you're all caught? What would they do? Obviously it would go badly for the six. It would go certainly bad for the two CIA officers -- myself and my partner -- because we're the ultimate Satan.

WOODRUFF: Mendez disguised the six American diplomats as Canadian filmmakers looking to make a movie in Iran. The ruse worked to get them out of the country, an accomplishment for which he received the CIA's intelligence star for valor from President Carter.

(on camera): You're thinking about changing the way somebody looks. How do you do it?

A. MENDEZ: Well, what we do first is try to figure out what the problem is that we're trying to solve. And it's kind of like doing magic: You have to know where the audience is. And the audience may be in the round like when you're surrounded by hostile surveillance, or it may be at one vantage point.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Mendez believes that all it takes to change one's appearance is the subtle alteration of only a few features.

A. MENDEZ: What we would do, for instance, to change a mouth line is we might give you what we call a "plumper." This happens to be an ordinary kleenex rolled up.

WOODRUFF (on camera): What do you do? You put it in the mouth to make the mouth look bigger?

A. MENDEZ: Yes, yes. And I can just show you how this would work here. You would just -- if you stuff your mouth full of paper like that, pretty soon your -- well, the first thing you can see is my speech pattern is changed.

WOODRUFF: It's changed. Are women harder than men, easier than men?

A. MENDEZ: Women have been at it much longer than men. I think women understand it and it's a natural thing for them to do.

WOODRUFF: Alright, if you were going to change me and you had to do it in just a few minutes, what would you do?

A. MENDEZ: Well, we hadn't met before, but it's not unusual for me to suddenly have this kind of situation where they'd say, we've got to get this person out of here. And so what I would do is grab whatever's available.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Which is essentially what Mendez did. He gave me a new jacket...

A. MENDEZ: This is a very good piece of spy gear because it's bright and it's very compressible.

WOODRUFF: ... covered up my blond hair...

A. MENDEZ: This is what we'd call a detractor.

WOODRUFF: ... and changed my gender.

A. MENDEZ: You might go out with this in your hand.

WOODRUFF (on camera): I don't have to be a woman. I can be a guy, right? A. MENDEZ: Exactly. At this point, we don't know. We might want to use something that I made up here, which we'd call a band-aid mustache.

WOODRUFF: That's good. I think my husband will like this.

A. MENDEZ: And the whole point of it is that this hat, nose, sunglasses and everything are highly compact.

WOODRUFF: So if I went around the corner, if I turned around and came back...


WOODRUFF: ... and whipped these off...


WOODRUFF: ... take this back, get rid of the mustache, take off the jacket really fast, if I've got less than 60 seconds to do this.

A. MENDEZ: Yes, 45 seconds is the max, by the way. I've turned into a little old lady in 45 seconds.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Mendez has a whole bag of tricks. He has made masks like this for agents.

(on camera): What do you think? Do you think CNN would hire me?


(voice-over): Or he can do something simple like slide this package of coins into a shoe to change my gait.

A. MENDEZ: And that just lays down in the bottom there.

WOODRUFF (on camera): But normally you'd give me two, right?

A. MENDEZ: No, no, one.

WOODRUFF: You'd just give one?

A. MENDEZ: Yes, that way you're going to favor that leg. There you go.

WOODRUFF: Hey, you're right about the -- it changes right away.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): This sort of deception came easy to Antonio Mendez.

A. MENDEZ: You are in the know but you can't share that other than with your fellow officers. The ability to have a strong moral compass and know the difference between a lie that you should tell and one you shouldn't is very important. WOODRUFF: After spending their career blurring truth and fiction, many retired agents are challenged by life after the CIA.

A. MENDEZ: Initially, I think there's a long period of decompression where you're kind of bouncing around.

WOODRUFF: Mendez has focused his energies on painting, writing a book called "Master of Disguise," and spending more time with his wife, Jonna (ph), who is also a retired CIA agent and former chief of disguise.

JONNA MENDEZ, ANTONIO'S WIFE: There used to be a statistic in our office, in the Office of Technical Service, that retiring was like dying because our retirees typically didn't live very long. I think 18 months was an average.

WOODRUFF (on camera): Is that right?


J. MENDEZ: It was like jumping off a speeding train, going from 100 miles an hour to zero. And people that didn't have something to go to, that didn't have a life outside of their work, they did not do well at all

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Still, 10 years after the "Master of Disguise" dropped his cover and picked up his paintbrushes, Antonio Mendez continues to carry a career full of memories, many that remain in the shadows.

A. MENDEZ: The operative word was intrigue, and that word was the operative word every day for 25 years. It was intriguing. And every day you got a chance to get your hand on the lever, you know, to alter the course of world events. So, it was great fun.


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

WALCOTT: Today is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month. It runs from September 15 to 15th of October. Throughout this month, CNN NEWSROOM will bring you the stories of high profile Hispanics in the United States. It's all part of a celebration of a culture that's become an important part of the American fabric.


(voice-over): From the baseball fields to the top of the pop charts to small restaurants in ethnic neighborhoods, Americans are embracing Hispanic culture like never before. The Hispanic influence is being felt big-time in the United States.

Within 20 years, Hispanic Americans are expected to become the largest minority group in the U.S. In July 1999, there were just over 31 million Hispanics living in the states, making up 11 1/2 percent of the total population.

Some are recognized as cultural icons, whether it's singers like Jennifer Lopez, who was raised in the Bronx, or pro-baseball players like Andres Galarraga, a native of Venezuela.

ANDRES GALARRAGA, BASEBALL PLAYER: Anytime I go to the field and play this game, I feel like it's not Galarraga, it's not me, it's like Venezuela when I come to the United States or any country I'm going to play baseball.

WALCOTT: Galarraga could be called something of a minority within a minority. Mexican-Americans make up the largest group of Hispanics in the states. Central and South Americans make up the next highest group, followed by Puerto Ricans and Cubans.

Combined, California and Texas are home to more than half of the nation's Hispanics. And New Mexico has the highest concentration of Hispanics of any state, making up 40 percent of that state's population.

But there is still one area where Hispanics have a lower profile.

JAIME REGALADO, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY: They've been a rapidly increasing proportion of the overall population for many years, both through natural births as well as immigration patterns in the United States and across borders into the United States. But political power didn't seem to be arriving.

WALCOTT: But there have been advancements in other areas. In 1997, 55 percent of Hispanics 25 and over had earned a high school diploma, up 5 percentage points from a decade earlier. And 10 percent had at least a bachelor's degree, up 2 percentage points over the same time period. It's all a sign of the changing times and proof more Hispanics are getting a taste of the American dream.


HAYNES: That's really good info. You interviewed Andres Galarraga at Turner Field, didn't you?

WALCOTT: I sure did, and he was a lot of fun.

HAYNES: Nice guy?

WALCOTT: Great guy.


Listen, as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, we've come up with a series of special reports on people who are making an impact in the Hispanic community.

WALCOTT: That's right. First up on September 22, a woman who made history in California: Gloria Molina, the first Hispanic woman elected to the California state legislature. HAYNES: Then on the 29th, the founder of a bible of sorts within the Hispanic entertainment community: You'll meet Bel Hernandez, a woman with -- many Hispanic entertainers look to for sound advice.

WALCOTT: And that wraps up today's show. Have a great weekend, everyone.

HAYNES: Have a good weekend. See you.



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