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NEWSROOM for September 28, 2000Aired September 28, 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.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hey, welcome to the Thursday show, everybody. I'm Tom Haynes. We have lots on the agenda today. Here's what's coming up.
We head to the movies for our top story today.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I reject any allegation that we are systematically or deliberately trying to circumvent our own rating system and the authority of parents.
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HAYNES: From the theater to the Olympics, we track a triathlete in "Science Desk."
We run on in "Worldview," but stay Down Under for dinner.
Finally, meet the brightest of the bright.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't do anything about these children who are at the end of the high end of the IQ scale. You can get special programs, special needs, special teachers for those of our children who are physically or mentally challenged, but I also believe that the children at the other end need and deserve the same kind of attention, too.
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HAYNES: In today's top story, the movie industry under fire. Senators grilled Hollywood executives today over their new plan to stop marketing violent movies to children. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission had released a report claiming the industry was targeting children with promotions for R-rated films. That prompted the industry to come up with a list of reforms.
But as Kathleen Koch reports, some lawmakers are giving the new plan a thumbs down. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hollywood executives came with their own script, a plan they say would end the marketing of violent movies to kids; steps like banning previews for R-rated films like "Gladiator" before G- and PG-rated movies, and promises to provide reasons for a film's rating.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't understand this language. I think it's filled with loopholes.
KOCH: But senators found some pledges weren't truly binding, while some in the industry conceded they couldn't give ironclad guarantees.
MEL HARRIS, PRESIDENT, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT: I cannot answer and say that we will not have marketing materials that will be exposed to people under the age of 17. That would be impossible for me to say.
KOCH: Others were disappointed the commitments didn't include a ban on advertising R-rated movies on teen Web sites.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you stop marketing there?
STACY SNIDER, CHAIR, UNIVERSAL PICTURES: There -- no, there may be some R-rated films.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you would take to a teen site?
SNIDER: That we would take to a teen site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry to hear that.
KOCH: And lawmakers were livid about a "New York Times" report that major movie studios test-marketed violent movies to children as young as 9. Some executives admitted that happened, but said the new rules would change that.
ALAN HORN, PRESIDENT, WARNER BROTHERS: We are specifically stipulating that we will not allow anyone into the research screening under the age of 17 unless accompanied by a parent, in which case we will.
KOCH: Studio executives argued that with a parent's approval, some R-rated movies like "Schindler's List" or "Amistad" may be appropriate for young people. Still, skeptical lawmakers issued a warning.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: If you don't try to make this really work, that you are going to see some kind of legislation, because parents are throwing up their hands in frustration.
KOCH (on camera): But Congress can't legislate movie content. That would violate the First Amendment. So for now, Hollywood will police itself. Though with no enforcement mechanisms, some wonder how studios will guarantee that everyone follows the voluntary measures.
Kathleen Koch for CNN, Capitol Hill.
HAYNES: Now, for a lot of us, an R rating is the enticement to attend the movie in the first place. The problem is, many of those attracted to the movie are kids.
So how are theaters stacking up in the effort to enforce the ratings rules? Jim Moret tells us.
JIM MORET, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Urban Legends: The Final Cut" is the current box office champion. The horror film boasts a lineup of popular teenage stars, but many of their teen fans are technically not allowed to see the film without an adult, but many of them do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not that much trouble to get into an R-rated movie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes they sell it to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they don't care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't even check IDs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we're looking to see it, then we're going to find it somewhere. I mean, it's everywhere, and they aren't -- no one is watching well enough.
MORET: Theaters are supposed to keep under-aged ticket buyers from seeing R-rated fare, but a Federal Trade Commission survey this summer found more than half the nation's theaters let those under 17 get in anyway.
BRIAN CALLAGHAN, GENERAL CINEMA THEATERS: Our policy is very clearly stated on our box office signage that says, you know, if you're under 17 you can only get into an R-rated movie if you're with a parent or a guardian who is 21 or over.
MORET: Theater monitoring is strictly voluntary. Six major U.S. theater chains contacted by CNN said they do follow the age guidelines. One chain, General Cinema, says kids find a way around the system, especially in multiplexes.
CALLAGHAN: Theater jumping happens to some extent. It is something that we look out for. In some locations, based on the way the theater is designed, we've been able to, on occasion, put all R- rated movies in one section.
MORET: General Cinema also sends ushers in to scout for under- age viewers. But sometimes the theaters are at odds with the ultimate gatekeepers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's OK with me to buy -- for my children to see an R-rated movie if they're under 17, I can't even buy them a ticket and let them go in. I have to go in with them. I think that's ridiculous.
MORET: Seven out of the top 10 films last weekend, including "The Exorcist," were R-rated, a restriction that alone may entice teenage viewers.
WAYNE FRIEDMAN, "ADVERTISING AGE": It's forbidden fruit. That in itself sells the movie. Calling it an R-rated movie sells the movie.
Jim Moret, CNN, Los Angeles.
HAYNES: In "Science Desk" today, we turn our attention to the chase for Olympic gold. Training, discipline and perseverance are only a few of the ingredients necessary for coming out on top. These days, athletes are constantly challenging themselves and their bodies, coming up with new, innovative and legal ways to enhance their performances.
Ann Kellan reports on one of those athletes whose training is taking him to a whole new altitude.
ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hunter Kemper is the No. 1 ranked Olympic distance triathlete in the United States, 33rd in the world.
HUNTER KEMPER, OLYMPIC TRIATHLETE: I started doing drop-ons when I was 10 years old. It was something that was easy for me, you know, and I just really enjoyed doing it.
KELLAN: This workout would be physically impossible to do at this high altitude without this machine. Kemper lives and trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, 6,200 feet above sea level, where he bikes, runs and swims for hours every day. And he's using a technique called "live high, train low."
If you live high in the mountains, with less oxygen, your body produces more red blood cells to feed crucial oxygen to the body. That's good, especially if you're an athlete competing in Sydney, Australia, around sea level. Your body will have more red blood cells than someone who trained at sea level. But in the thin air of high altitudes, even with extra blood cells, a person can't work muscles as intensely as they can at sea level -- they're still not getting enough oxygen.
RANDY WILBER, SPORTS PHYSIOLOGIST: Specifically, you can't run as fast, swim as fast, cycle as fast. So you may, in fact, be losing conditioning.
KELLAN: That's where this machine comes in. Hunter puts on this oxygen mask and takes off.
(on camera): Hunter is getting more oxygen to simulate sea-level conditions. That way, he can put his body through the paces and get a more intense workout.
KEMPER: You can really tell the difference. It's like -- it's almost like you're cheating. It's amazing. You can run a lot, lot faster.
KELLAN: For Hunter, it's paying off. His heart rate is five to seven beats less than the same workout a week ago. That means less stress on the heart.
KEMPER: While I'm racing in these big races, I hardly ever have a problem with, like, me breathing too hard because I can't go any faster. It's always my legs will give out first.
KELLAN: Hunter joins the sport's maiden voyage, the first Olympics for the triathlon. He wants more than ever to perform well, to show-off the sport. He says living high, training low helps.
Ann Kellan, CNN, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
HAYNES: You guys ever played the game where you make as many words as you can out of a few letters. Well, take the letters E, M, N, U, W, S -- there you see them on your screen. Our "Worldview" topic today can be made from all of those letters. Get set for stories on the U.N. That's one word, kind of. Another, news, as we head to Russian for how journalist jobs have changed. And a third, menus served up from Australia.
ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: ... farms in the outback, most of them sheep or cattle stations. And that means meat is popular and plentiful. The country's long summers and mild winters make it an ideal spot for picnics and barbecues year round.
But before we take you to a cookout outback-style, let's learn about some of Australia's food. There's "chook," or chicken, and "goog," an egg. "Yabbies" are freshwater crawfish, and don't forget "witchetty grubs," large white larvae that grow in the root system of gum trees.
If that's not to your taste, Stephanie Oswald serves up some Australian fare that just might go down easier.
STEPHANIE OSWALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day in Australia's outback may satisfy the soul, but satisfying the stomach comes down to an outback barbecue in do-it-yourself style.
Barbecuing is one of the country's most popular forms of cooking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's just, it's bred into us. It's just a part of us.
ANDREW NORMAN, EXECUTIVE CHEF, OUTBACK HOTEL: Barbecue is just, it's a very easy way of cooking. It's very quick. It's no fuss. It's easy to clean up after yourself, and it's very social.
OSWALD: Here at Ayer's Rock Resort, they dish out the meat and you do the rest -- everything from kangaroo kebabs to emu sausages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now he's burning his. Mine's cooked perfectly.
OSWALD: Even if your gourmet could use a little guidance, do-it- yourself barbecue attracts a host of international visitors, especially those who say barbecuing back home is no picnic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not in England. It's raining all the time.
OSWALD: If grilled kangaroo doesn't titillate the taste buds, there's fancier fare to be had. This is one of the most famous dining attractions in Alice Springs, located about 300 miles northeast of Ayer's Rock. The Overlanders Steak House is best known for its eclectic menu.
WAYNE KRAFT, OWNER, OVERLANDERS STEAKHOUSE: Well, we're famous for the design to provide visitors to central Australia and give Australia the opportunity to try some of their more exotic meats.
OSWALD (on camera): Even if you're a vegetarian like I am, it's still fun to watch everyone else enjoy the Australian specialties. After all, where else can you find a menu that boasts kangaroo, crocodile and camel?
MARK SCHRADER, HEAD CHEF, OVERLANDERS STEAKHOUSE: Camel, it's very, very much like lamb. It has a tendency to taste like lamb. It's a very lean meat.
KRAFT: It's just got the lowest cholesterol and fat levels, so it's a healthy meat.
OSWALD: Camel is not only one of the most healthful meats, but also one of the heartiest. This camel's leg, affectionately called Jurassic lamb steak, feeds up to 80 people, making it a feast fit for a royal army or an army of tourists who want to put an edible twist on the saying, "been there, done that."
Stephanie Oswald, CNN, Alice Springs, Australia.
JORDAN: Tomorrow, we take our Australian adventure to new heights as we climb to the top of the Harbor Bridge.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The great thing about coming up here is that the further up you get, the more spectacular the view becomes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a spectacular view. I think we can see all of Sydney, Australia. And I can't believe I did it. We're at the top.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations. Well done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: Don't miss the fun right here on NEWSROOM tomorrow.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: The United Nations is an organization of nations working for world peace and security. It was established on October 24, 1945, just after World War II. While the U.N. works for peace and security, it also focuses on a variety of global concerns, including the environment.
The first U.N. environment conference was held in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden, and led to the establishment of the U.N. Environment Programme. For more on UNEP, check your NEWSROOM archives for September 27.
UNEP encourages international cooperation to fight pollution and preserve natural resources. In 1992, U.N. member nations met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Earth Summit, an conference on environment and development. The focus of the meeting: the prevention of global warming and the preservation of forests and endangered species.
But the U.N. seeks to improve our environment in a variety of ways, including the way we live and work.
Richard Roth has more on these efforts.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was not business as usual at the United Nations. Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed not diplomats, but titans from the corporate world. More than 40 companies came to U.N. headquarters pledging to promote the values of the U.N.
PHIL WATTS, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP: As I say to my colleagues in business, what are we going to do on Monday morning? First of all, the best way to promote responsible, global citizenship is to live it, actually do it every day.
ROTH: The companies have agreed to join the U.N.'s Global Compact. They vow to eliminate child labor, protect human rights, and even honor the ability of workers to unionize. They must post their progress in applying nine principles of good international behavior once a year on a special U.N. Web site. Worried about free-market expansion trampling on human rights, especially...
... to act, also by the disturbances in Seattle at the World Trade Conference. He never got to deliver his speech there on the perils of globalization.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: What we must do instead is to ensure that global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global, social needs.
ROTH: Some of the multinational corporations present here, such as Nike, have been criticized for abuses in factories overseas.
PHIL KNIGHT, CHAIRMAN, NIKE CO.: Real solutions that improve people's lives will result if we can make this partnership work.
ROTH: Opponents say too little, too late.
JOHN CAVANAGH, DIR., INST. FOR POLICY STUDIES: It think these companies jumped at this opportunity because they realized, one, it would make them look good, they will say publicly in front of a global audience that they are for rights, but they also knew that there's no enforcement.
ROTH: But the U.N. believes big business can have more influence in shaping the lives of billions of people than its own members.
ANNAN: We cannot wait for governments to do it all. Globalizations operates on Internet time.
ROTH (on camera): Skeptics question whether it's proper for the United Nations to do business with big business, some here even equating it to a deal with the devil. But the secretary-general counters that the era of globalization is here to stay: better to engage corporations, he says, than to do nothing at all.
Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: On to Russia, the world's largest country in land area. From 1922 to 1991, Russia was a republic in the Soviet Union, the world's most powerful communist country. Under communist rule, the government controlled much of the country's economics and information.
In 1990, the Soviet republics demanded self-government in a quest for greater freedom. The following year, the Soviet Union broke apart. Russia began to institute changes in its political, legal and economic systems. Government changes have gradually been reflected in the media as well, which now has more freedom to report information than under its former system.
Jill Dougherty has the story.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): April 7, 1989, the Soviet nuclear-powered submarine, the Komsomolets, catches fire, explodes and sinks to the bottom of the Norwegian Sea; 42 men die, the rest are seriously injured. The accident was barely reported in the censored Soviet media.
Weeks ago, a case of deja vu: The Russian nuclear-powered sub, the Kursk, sinks to the bottom of the Barents Sea, killing all aboard. But this time the military rescue operation is carried live on Russian state television. For a week, Arkady Mamontov is the only reporter allowed on the scene.
ARKADY MAMONTOV, RUSSIAN TV REPORTER (through translator): There wasn't one KGB agent standing at my back. They didn't check my scripts. Remember how I reported that the Norwegian divers opened the hatch in five minutes when the Russians couldn't do it at all? Could I have said that in 1989?
DOUGHERTY: Mamontov does say the military kept some information from him. But some, in both the Western and the Russian media, charge the Russian military with attempting a Soviet-style cover-up.
Russian journalist Kirill Dybsky disagrees. He covered both sub disasters. "It's not just a Soviet phenomenon," he says. "It's how the military thinks."
KIRILL DYBSKY, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST (through translator): First, they deny everything and classify all information. Then, cornered by hard facts, they release it bit by bit, control and manipulate it. The difference is in Russia, perhaps, they do it a little more crudely.
DOUGHERTY: Arkady Mamontov thinks this latest disaster may be a turning point.
MAMONTOV (through translator): The government has to rethink its approach. The time has come. If it's going to lie, I don't know what will happen. They must tell the truth.
DOUGHERTY: The sinking of the submarine Kursk, Mamontov says, could be the catalyst for change.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.
HAYNES: All right, almost everyone knows at least one: the smart kid, the one who always raises their hand in class, the one the teacher uses as an example all the time, a permanent fixture on the honor roll. You guys know him. But what about the kids who raise the bar even higher with their astronomical IQs?
Pat Etheridge profiles some of those whiz kids.
PAT ETHERIDGE, CNN PARENTING CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gregory Smith is reaching unimaginable heights. At only 11 years old, this precocious young boy with a mop of blonde hair is bounding off to his second year of college. GREGORY SMITH, COLLEGE SOPHOMORE: I think I've been given a special gift from God, and I will use this gift to hopefully some day become the president of the United States, as well as maybe our ambassador to the United Nations, and work for world peace as well as to stop the world poverty.
ETHERIDGE: With an IQ so high it cannot be measured...
SMITH: P of X equals sign of X over X. But, wait a minute. P of zero has to be 1.
ETHERIDGE: ... Gregory's brilliance is a constant source of wonder and amazement to just about everyone, including his own mom.
JANET SMITH, GREGORY'S MOTHER: Did you learn this today?
G. SMITH: Yes.
J. SMITH: This is -- and just, he taught it and you learned it and now you're reteaching it to me?
G. SMITH: Yes.
J. SMITH: OK.
G. SMITH: All right.
J. SMITH: There is no explanation for how he knows what he knows. How he went from point A to where he is now, I can't explain.
G. SMITH: I don't know why or how, but I know I have been given this gift, so I want to use it to help mankind.
ETHERIDGE: Greg skipped most of elementary and all of middle school, going from 2nd grade to finish high school in just three years.
Today, he's settling into his sophomore year at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, fast becoming fluent in French...
G. SMITH: (SPEAKING FRENCH)
ETHERIDGE: ... and soaking up the language of science.
He already has the attention of world leaders and devotes his personal Web site to promoting non-violence.
G. SMITH: In my life, I can think of three heroes that I've encountered: Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ -- not only for their great initiatives for peace, nonviolence, but because they gave hope to all those people in the world who didn't have it.
ETHERIDGE: Gregory is the only child of Janet and Bob Smith, college sweethearts, both photogenic enough to make it in the modeling business for a time. They describe themselves as doting but not demanding parents who watched their son surpass their own above- average intelligence by the time he was 6. Greg's father changed careers and relocated the family several times to accommodate their son's special academic needs.
(on camera): But Greg's experiences along the way raise a larger issue: Educational opportunities for gifted children are so limited, many never reach their full potential.
(voice-over): As a result, many smart kids who don't get the challenge they need lose interest in school and start to underachieve.
PETER ROSENSTEIN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR GIFTED CHILDREN: You will find that many gifted children finish their tests or their exams or their problems that the teachers assign them quickly. And so what the teacher does is give them another 10 problems waiting for the other children to catch up. But three times three is nine whether you do it twice, three times or 20 times.
ETHERIDGE: Yet here in the heart of Harlem, a shining exception to the rule. The Mott Hall School embraces the best and the brightest. Students who are mostly Hispanic, Asian and black thrive.
MIRIAM ACOSTA-SING, MOTT HALL SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: We're looking for children who exhibit leadership skills. We're looking for children who have been sitting in their neighborhood schools and have been board.
ETHERIDGE: Top technology training, a championship chess team and small classes motivate smart kids like Anthony Reyes.
ANTHONY REYES, STUDENT: There's only 450 kids in this school and every teacher gets to bond with every child. No one gets left out.
ETHERIDGE: But programs like the Mott Hall School are few and far between. We brought together this group of parents, all of whom have children with high IQs, to discuss some of the surprising difficulties and misunderstandings their families face.
(on camera): The assumption is that, for you, life must be pretty perfect.
EILEEN WOODS, PARENT: I wouldn't trade it for the world because it's a wonderful experience, but it's a big challenge.
ETHERIDGE (voice-over): They say there are few solutions or sympathetic ears in the school system and the community at large.
WOODS: And the first two years were just misery because he was so bored, he was so far ahead of what the kids were doing that there were times when he literally would come home in tears.
CAROL BUCHANAN, PARENT: The smart kids, basically, they get picked on. And he just -- I don't know, my son personally just -- he has to prove to the other kids that he's not nerdy and he's not the person to be picked on. ETHERIDGE: Their kids fit right in at the Saturday school at Georgia State University. These high achievers attend three-hour classes in molecular biology, advanced art and a business class called Little Entrepreneurs.
WOODS: In Saturday school, these kids spend three hours, I mean three hours -- think about that, kids 8 years old, 9 years old, 10 years old -- because they can't get enough of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are children that seem to me, in many cases, are starving to learn.
ETHERIDGE: Which brings us back to the story of young Gregory Smith.
(on camera): What about the social aspects? Is it easy for you to blend in or is that tough?
G. SMITH: I think that all the students here have been very nice and it's been very easy to adapt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We joke with him. We say, you know -- we say, you've got a girlfriend, Greg? You know, kind of joke with him, you know. But you never -- he never -- he's like, no, I don't like girls. I'm only 10, you know.
It's kind of like the girls have cooties.
ETHERIDGE (voice-over): He still finds friends his age to play with, but Gregory's favorite escape is here, high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a place where this remarkable young boy leaves his college course load behind but still thinks big.
G. SMITH: I don't know why people say the sky's the limit. It isn't that to me. Why does the sky have to be the limit? Because why can't it be further? Why can't it be to the edges of the universe? I don't get why we set the boundary at the sky.
HAYNES: Boy, almost leaves you speechless. But I hope you caught it. Even the smartest of us can raise the bar of dedication -- dedication to learning what and all we can.
Listen, thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.
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