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NEWSROOM for September 19, 2000Aired September 19, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: We're rolling through another week on NEWSROOM. It's Tuesday, September 19th. I'm Andy Jordan. Here's the plan.
First up: the news. As consumers around the world pay big bucks for gasoline fears that Iraq could stop pumping oil sends oil prices even higher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER BUETEL, CAMERON HANOVER: It was enough to get the markets concerned because, at this point, we cannot afford this type of nonsense.
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JORDAN: Do your parents worry when you get behind the wheel?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Watching teenagers start driving on their own is one of the more nerve-racking parts of parenthood.
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JORDAN: In "Health Desk," a driver's ed course that might put their minds at rest.
We take our usual trek to worldly places in "Worldview." Today, we look in on the world of Pacific salmon and the threats being posed to their natural habitat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG ARNDT, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: If we don't do something, it is guaranteed the fish are going to go extinct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: Then, in "Chronicle," our focus shifts to politics in the United States. We've heard plenty about the race for president, what about some of the other contests shaping this election, and how might they affect the balance of power in Congress?
Our attention today turns to world oil prices, which hit a 10- year high yesterday. In part, the prices shot up after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accused neighboring Kuwait of stealing its oil. He made the same accusation before invading Kuwait in 1990, which led to the Persian Gulf War of course.
Even though a repeat performance of that crisis is not likely, the warning, paired with concerns over winter heating oil inventories, sent oil prices soaring.
We begin with a look at the evolution of this oil crunch, and what it could mean. Here's Kelli Arena.
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite Washington's hard diplomatic line toward Baghdad, Iraq is the sixth biggest oil supplier to the United States. With the world oil supply as tight as it is, any threat of a disruption has to be taken seriously.
PETER BUETEL, CAMERON HANOVER: It was enough to get the markets concerned, because at this point we cannot afford this type of nonsense.
ARENA: Winter heating needs are the biggest U.S. worry. Heating oil inventories are running at about 40-percent lower than at this time last year.
TYLER DANN, BANC OF AMERICA SECURITIES: The problem is one of that we've had very good economic growth. We've had -- we're in a situation of very low inventories, and by historical standards, OPEC is fairly well maxed out in terms of capacity.
ARENA: Customers, particularly in the Northeast, may have to pay more than $2 a gallon when temperatures plunge as expected. Now, that's twice the current price. Natural gas customers won't fair much better. They are facing nearly a 30-percent price increase.
BILL O'GRADY, A.G. EDWARDS: We're accumulating storage for natural gas at the slowest pace on record, despite the fact we have the highest prices on record.
ARENA: Why the shortages? Analysts say when oil prices were low, drilling companies began to cut back exploration. The situation should reverse itself now that prices are higher, but not in time to help consumers this winter.
One thing that could help is if President Clinton taps the nation's strategic petroleum reserve, a move some industry experts say is growing more likely.
JOHN LICHTBLAU, PETROLEUM INDUSTRY RESEARCH FOUNDATION: The president could very well, in a very short time, ask for the strategic petroleum reserve to be used. He has the power to do it, and I don't see anyone politically criticizing him in this situation for doing so.
ARENA: The reserve is intended for a national supply emergency, but experts say it could be argued world growth is at risk.
(on camera): It's an option that will undoubtedly be discussed at the upcoming meeting of industrialized nations in Prague, and it will be debated at congressional hearings this week on Capitol Hill.
Kelli Arena, CNN Financial News, Washington.
JORDAN: Well, the lives of British motorists are slowly returning to normal. Last week, protests over the high cost of gasoline all but shut filling stations in many parts of Europe. In Britain, protesters blocked streets and intersections preventing oil companies from stocking their stations. Now, even though lines still form outside gas stations, oil companies predict an improvement by mid-week.
As if handling the uproar over high gas prices weren't enough for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Margaret Lowrie tells us his political future is now cause for concern.
MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the fuel situation here returns to near normal, the government is scrambling to try and make sure it doesn't happen again. Top of the list: a task force bringing together the government, police and oil companies to look at ways to avert the disruption of petrol supplies in any future protest.
JACK STRAW, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: We plainly have lessons to learn, about ourselves and the oil companies, about what happened, particularly at the beginning of the last week. So we've got to draw on those lessons.
LOWRIE: The government wants emergency legislation to place the oil companies under the kind of statutory obligations that ensure the supply of services such as electricity, water and gas in times of crisis. Opposition politicians say a review of emergency legislation is not enough.
WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH OPPOSITION LEADER: If they think that will be an adequate response to the dissatisfaction of taxpayers around the country, then they are making yet another mistake on top of all the mistakes that they made last week. The solution to this is not to give the government more power. It's for the government to stop being arrogant, out of touch and incompetent.
LOWRIE: The political fallout for the government continues. Weekend polls gave the opposition Conservative Party its best standing in eight years: either neck-in-neck with the Labor government, or even ahead. The last time that happened, John Major was prime minister. Government officials are trying to put the best spin on it.
STEPHEN BYERS, BRITISH TRADE MINISTER: Well, clearly, the polls have reflected what's been a testing week for the government. I happen to believe that it would have been a lot worse had the government given way to the protesters. The polls that will count are obviously the ones that take place at the general election.
LOWRIE: Meanwhile, the government has another worrying deadline: Fuel protesters vow to return in two months' time if petrol prices aren't cut. With little likelihood of that, the government must find a way before then to ensure they can keep the petrol and the country moving.
Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.
JORDAN: OK, let's talk about something you are all interested in: driving. As independent as it makes you feel, and as impressive as it is to your friends, driving is above all a great responsibility. And I'm sure you've heard it all before, so I won't lecture you here, just be careful behind the wheel.
And if you haven't taken a driver's education course yet, sign up. The state of Georgia is offering one in which you get to take your parents to class.
Gary Tuchman explains.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: All right, where are we at? We should be on page 30 -- 28; right?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a defensive driver course for people who want to perfect their driving skills and perhaps get a lower insurance rate; but it's a course with a twist.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Light beer has less alcohol than regular beer?
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENTS: False.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: OK, less calories, that is right.
TUCHMAN: The twist: teenage drivers and their parents are encouraged to learn together.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: We're going to call this Oak Street. Now, make things a little difficult for you, going to put a red light up.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Watching teenagers start driving on their own is one of the more nerve-wracking parts of parenthood, and federal statistics prove that feeling is not unwarranted: 35 percent of all 16- to 20-year-old deaths result from motor vehicle crashes. It's the leading cause of teenage death.
GARY BURKE, FATHER OF NEW DRIVER: You just hope the phone doesn't ring at an inopportune time that it's the police calling you telling you there's been an accident.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In Gwinnett County, Georgia, the same county where this defensive driving course is taking place, 16-year- old Kirby Cruce lost her life two weeks ago. She had received her driver's license four days before she attended a party at this house, a party where beer was allegedly in ample supply and parental supervision was not.
The teen flipped her car driving home from the party. Authorities are still waiting for the results of her blood alcohol tests. But police went to the site of the party after the accident and charged 40 underage youths with alcohol possession. Under a new Georgia law, they could lose their licenses for six months.
Teen auto death rates have fallen somewhat in recent years. Authorities believe it's from more aggressive law enforcement and more restrictive youth licenses, but that fact does not ease the pain of the friends of Kirby Cruce, who have learned the hard way about what is still a frighteningly common tragedy.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Gwinnett County, Georgia.
JORDAN: In 1996, a survey showed that only 67 percent of people washed their hands after using a public restroom. Now, at a time of increased public awareness of infectious disease, a new survey shows that four years later, we aren't doing any better.
Holly Firfer has more.
HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How many times a day do you wash your hands?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four or five times a day, I would guess.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe 10 times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 20, 25 times a day.
FIRFER: The American Society for Microbiology wanted to know how many people told the truth when it came to hand-washing. So they called more than 1,000 people across the U.S. and asked how many washed their hands after using a public restroom: 95 percent of those surveyed said they did.
Well, then, observers were sent to five cities around the country to record whether or not people actually washed. They found 75 percent of the women washed their hands compared to only 58 percent of the men. DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC: You know, your hands are the most important means by which germs travel from one person to another. So it makes sense that washing your hands would be an effective strategy for protecting yourself.
FIRFER: The researchers asked other questions as well and were less than impressed with the answers: Only 86 percent of those surveyed said they washed their hands after using the bathroom at home. After changing a diaper, 78 percent said they washed; 77 percent before handling or eating foods; 45 percent washed after petting a dog or a cat; 31 percent after coughing or sneezing; and only 20 percent said they washed after handling money.
GERBERDING: There are many diseases that are transmitted person- to-person through the hands. Probably the most important one is the common cold virus. We know that it's touch that spreads that germ from one person to another.
FIRFER: As well as more serious bacterial infections such as E. coli, salmonella and shigella.
Health experts say the best way to wash your hands is to use soap and water and scrub for 10 to 15 seconds. Then rinse them well in running water. Use a paper towel to dry and then throw it away.
There are a few places, like restaurants and hospitals, with hand-washing regulations, but it's difficult to enforce those laws. So the CDC says the best defense against spreading infectious diseases is to educate people on how important it is to wash those hands.
Holly Firfer, CNN, Atlanta.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: For more health news, tune in tomorrow when we present a special medical report. From the common cold to E. coli, we go under the microscope to uncover the mystery of infectious disease. That's tomorrow right here on CNN NEWSROOM.
JORDAN: In "Worldview," we head to the sea. Our focus: culture and the environment. We'll travel to the West Coast of the United States to learn about a fish on a quest. And we'll follow a quest of our own to find a vacation destination popular with tourists from around the world.
We head now to a tropical paradise, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica is part of the Greater Antilles, a group of islands located in the West Indies. Christopher Columbus arrived there in 1494 and claimed the island for Spain. The Spanish made slaves of the native Arawak Indians and disease killed many of the people. In 1655, the British invaded. Jamaica did not become an independent nation until 1962, more than three centuries later.
The island's name comes from an Indian word meaning "land of wood and water." Its a place famous for its beautiful beaches, and tourism is an important industry. So is agriculture, and sugar cane is a major crop. And mining provides much of the island's income. Jamaica is one of the world's leading producers of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminum.
Today we focus on its vibrant culture and colorful landscape, attractions which lure over 1 million visitors to Jamaica each year.
Our tour guide is Carolyn O'Neil.
CAROLYN O'NEIL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The island of Jamaica is a tempting tapestry of cool mountains, lush jungles, dramatic waterfalls and vibrant tropical gardens all surrounded by a fringe of beaches along the deep blue sea.
ADRIAN ROBINSON, CHAIRMAN, JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD: The truth is that Jamaica is a very seductive environment.
O'NEIL: As the third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is home to nearly 2.5 million people. Kingston, the capital, is the largest city, but most visitors head to resort towns along the northern coast, most notably Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Lushly landscaped golf courses and all kinds of water sports offer entertainment by day. And at night the music scene's in high gear to get you moving and bending to the limbo beat.
(on camera): The most popular vacation accommodation option here in Jamaica is by far the all-inclusive resort. Most include at least three meals a day, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, water sports, even your taxes and tips. But make sure you choose a resort that's right for you.
(voice-over): Forty-five percent of Jamaica's hotel rooms are in the all-inclusive category.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, just the whole package is what really lured us.
O'NEIL: There are family all-inclusives and resorts catering to all ages.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I like it here in Jamaica. I don't want to leave.
O'NEIL: But no matter which tourist demographic they're trying to attract, all resorts share one challenge: overcoming shadows of crime on the image of Jamaica.
ROBINSON: The crime that tends to be located in the inner cities of Kingston is perceived as affecting the entire island. It's rather like saying that crime that's happening in some part of Los Angeles is affecting California. It really doesn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just be sure that you stay away from the places where people tell you not to go. O'NEIL: Most major resorts are gated and have numerous security guards. Jamaica is on the move to protect its enviable position as fourth most popular international destination for U.S. travelers.
Carolyn O'Neil, CNN, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
JORDAN: Tomorrow on "Worldview," we'll have more on Jamaica. We'll explore the island's rich cuisine and culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'NEIL: "Out of many, one people," is the national motto and describes this melting pot of world cultures from Africa, Europe, India and China which has become today's Jamaica.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: We'll spotlight a special program called "Meet the People," which puts tourists in touch with the locals. That's tomorrow right here on CNN NEWSROOM.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We're off to the western part of the United States now to follow the migration of the Pacific salmon, a fish that spends its entire life with one goal: to reproduce and then die.
Salmons can migrate more than 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometers upriver to spawn their eggs in lakes or streams. Pacific salmon live much of their life in the ocean. Then, as adults, they return to the stream where they were hatched to spawn the next generation of salmon.
Our next story focuses on the plight of salmon in the Columbia Basin and Snake River and a classic case of man versus nature.
Natalie Pawelski reports.
NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ancient migration, hundreds of miles long, upstream all the way. Back in the 1800s, up to 16 million salmon made their way up the Columbia River each year. Now only a few hundred thousand wild fish make the trip.
DOUG ARNDT, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: If we don't do something, it's guaranteed the fish are going to go extinct. So we've got to make that effort. We are legally bound to do it and we're morally bound to do it.
PAWELSKI: The big question is how to do it. The fiercest controversy swirls around four of the dams blocking a Columbia River tributary, the Snake River, in desert-dry eastern Washington. Conservationists and some fishermen and native tribes want the dams removed to save four runs of threatened fish.
JIM MARTIN, PURE FISHING: Seventy percent of the best remaining habitat in this whole basin is dealing with those four dams. Those four dams are choking these runs apart.
PAWELSKI (on camera): The Army Corps of Engineers says breaching Ice Harbor Dam and the three other dams on the lower Snake River would be a nine-year project. The Corps, which runs the dams, estimates the cost at $1 billion.
(voice-over): Punching holes in the dams would also cost the Northwest 4 percent of its electricity. The region would also lose water for irrigation and navigation. The dams and their locks let Idaho run a deep-water port 400 miles inland. Farmers and others say you can save salmon and keep the dams.
BRUCE LOVELIN, COLUMBIA RIVER ALLIANCE: We know that we need to look broader than the dams. We need to look at habitat, freshwater habitat. We need to change the way we harvest the fish.
ARNDT: Just this idea of breach the dams and everything is fixed? That's myopic and misleading to the people.
PAWELSKI: The Clinton administration's new salmon plan would leave the dams in place while boosting river flow to help the fish on their journey, improving habitat, and changing fishing regulations and hatchery rules.
BRIAN BROWN, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE: We are trying to take on an aggressive set of measures that we think will tell us once and for all if we can have salmon survive and recover with the dams in place.
PAWELSKI: Critics say that question has already been answered.
NICOLE CORDAN, SAVE OUR WILD SALMON: We're planning on spending more money, more billions of dollars in order to do the same things that we've been doing for the last 25 years that we've shown, that science has shown just isn't working for these fish.
MARTIN: It's tinkering around the politically acceptable edge of the problem. We'll end up wasting a lot of money doing good stuff, but not doing the critical stuff that will allow these fish to survive.
PAWELSKI: Salmon-saving efforts already include tracking with computerized tags and radio transmitters. Ladders help big fish upstream; barges carry young fish downstream.
But the Columbia Basin's salmon runs continue to dwindle, their migration, an irresistible force of nature, meeting what may prove to be some immovable objects.
Natalie Pawelski, CNN, Cascade Locks, Oregon.
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.
JORDAN: Well, Tuesday means a look at "Democracy in America." Of course, much of our focus has been on the presidential race, but voters will be looking at other ballot names come November. U.S. Congress members are also campaigning. Thirty-four seats are up for grabs in the Senate, and all of the House seats are at stake.
In the latest installment in my series on the 2000 election, I take a closer look at the chemistry of the U.S. Congress and its balance of power.
(voice-over): The U.S. Congress is made up of two chambers or houses. The House of Representatives has 435 members who are usually referred to as Congressmen or women. They are elected every two years and represent a particular district within a state, on average about 600,000 people.
PHIL SMITH, CONCORD COALITION: The House is perpetually being reelected, and the forefathers made it that way on purpose so that the House members would be very, very, very in touch with the wants and needs and current affairs of their constituents.
JORDAN: The number of representatives a state has is a direct reflection of its population. The U.S. Senate, on the other hand, has 100 members and their constituency is much broader. Until a constitutional amendment in 1913, senators were appointed by House members. The amendment provided that not only would senators be elected by the people, but there would be two from each state, and each serve six-year terms.
Phil Smith is a former staffer in the U.S. House and spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill pushing his cause. He's a regional director for the bipartisan budget watchdog group, the Concord Coalition.
SMITH: If you want bipartisan support, you go after both Republicans and Democrats. But what a lot of people forget is that, part of the process, it also has to be bicameral before it can get to the desk of the president. And bicameral simply means both houses of Congress.
JORDAN: There are several ways in which the House and Senate balance each other in power, one of which stems from a key issue of the American Revolution: taxation without representation.
SMITH: Being very, very aware of those concerns, the forefathers made the House of Representatives the place where all taxation bills must originate, and that stands to this day. JORDAN: To balance the power of the House, the Senate has the power to check on the executive branch by approving presidential choices for cabinet and ambassador positions. The Constitution also says the Senate alone has the power to ratify treaties, but the House can have an indirect say as well.
SMITH: The House controls the purse strings. And so that way, the House has an effect on what the Senate does because the senators are mindful that anything they do can be checked by the House in terms of controlling the purse strings.
JORDAN: A bill cannot become law unless both House and Senate versions are identical.
SMITH: And there are lots of examples of how bills were either changed or eliminated or passed based on that whole process of the checks and balances and the conference committees that the Senate and the House are appointed to to try to work out differences, to make that bill identical so that it can become law.
JORDAN: The conference committee is a way for the House and Senate to hammer out differences, and that can be a long process. Many bills get tied up over pork barrel projects. They are spending measures or projects that a member of Congress will try to push through Congress that generally benefit constituents in his or her political district. Most often, senators end up putting the brakes on a House member's pork barrel project.
SMITH: When a senator comes in, they can make an amendment or they go into the conference committee process and do away with some of that pork. And we do see that happening sometimes.
JORDAN: The House and Senate balance of power can also come into play on non-legislative duties.
SMITH: Having witnessed the impeachment situation, that was the most recent powerful demonstration of the differences between the House and the Senate.
JORDAN: For only the second time in history, in 1998, the House voted to impeach a president. The Senate is charged with trying him. To that extent, the Senate checked what the House started by acquitting President Clinton. Smith says the constitutional forefathers knew what they were doing in creating a Congress whose balance of power is carefully calibrated.
SMITH: They could never foresee the type of issues that we'd be dealing with today with entitlement reform, Social Security, Medicare. They never would have imaged that we'd be talking about these things today -- issues related to the Internet. But the very framework and structure that they put together, the checks and balances between the House and the Senate, still last to this day.
JORDAN: Now, be looking out next month. We'll take a closer look at the electoral process in the United States as we march to November 7 and the elections in the United States.
Until then, we'll see you back here tomorrow. Have a good one.
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