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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for October 31, 2000

Aired October 31, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Hi, I'm Shelley Walcott. NEWSROOM takes a turn into Tuesday and we have politics on the menu. Here's a preview.

First, it's the home stretch for the U.S. presidential candidates and we're tracking them on the campaign trail.

Then we make a trail to our "Daily Desk" so we can show you how to step up to good health.

OK, don't scream. It's Halloween and "Worldview" is going batty.

And we're still airborne in "Chronicle." Find out how the Soyuz crewmembers trained for their mission to the International Space Station.

Americans are a week away from casting their presidential ballots and the front-runners are wasting no time on the campaign trail. Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore are making their way across the United States and through key battleground states.

Election 2000 is too tight of a race to call. Several polls, including one by CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup, show Gore slightly behind Bush. The outcome of the election could ride on undecided votes, meaning this week's campaigning may determine the next four years in the White House.

Bush spent time in New Mexico Monday before traveling to Southern California. He's touting his education agenda.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is one of my priorities as the governor of Texas, to make sure every public school works, that no child is left behind.


WALCOTT: Gore headed to Wisconsin Monday after urging supporters in Michigan to vote.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make no mistake about it: On November the 7th, a week from tomorrow, prosperity itself will be on the ballot and the choice will be in your hands.


WALCOTT: Both Gore and Bush are scheduled to campaign today in Portland, Oregon.

Yesterday, we looked at a big issue in this presidential campaign: the rising cost of prescription drugs. Today, we focus on another key issue: gun control. Al Gore and George W. Bush both say they have plans to curb gun violence.

Frank Sesno has details.


FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The candidates have stark differences when it comes to guns. Al Gore calls for new controls, George W. bush stricter enforcement of existing gun laws.

Here's how it breaks down. First, at gun shows, Gore favors background checks that could take up to three days, the kind of checks already required of licensed dealers. Bush supports only instant checks at gun shows. In addition, Gore favors a three-day waiting period for all new handgun purchases. Bush opposes any kind of cooling off or waiting period.

Gore wants a limit of one handgun purchase per month. Bush opposes that. Gore wants the states to issue what he calls photo licenses for new handgun purchases. Bush is against that. He says criminals won't apply for IDs anyway. Both candidates invoke the worst school shooting in U.S. history to back up their gun positions.

GORE: The woman who bought the guns for the two boys who did that killing at Columbine said that if she had had to give her name and fill out a form there she would not have bought those guns. That conceivably could have prevented that tragedy.

BUSH: Columbine spoke to a larger issue, and it's really a matter of culture. It's a culture that, somewhere along the line, we've begun to disrespect life.

SESNO: Bush and Gore agree on some points, especially gun restrictions relating to minors. Both would prohibit juveniles' access to assault weapons, and they'd raise the age of possession for handguns from 18 to 21. Each stresses his support for hunters' rights, and neither is a member of the National Rifle Association, though the NRA has endorsed George W. Bush and is waging an ad campaign against Al Gore.

Frank Sesno, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: And measuring the impact of guns in the race for president, we turn to one state whose electoral votes are still up for grabs. In Pennsylvania, voters have been the target of a full-blown ad campaign put on by the National Rifle Association.

Jeanne Meserve looks at the power of the gun lobby and its significance in presidential politics.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Pennsylvania, the hunt is on for turkeys and for votes.

Last year, this state issued more hunting licenses than any other, and membership in the National Rifle Association, already huge, grew by 35 percent.

CHARLTON HESTON, NRA PRESIDENT: I urge you to find every gun owner, every NRA members and everyone who treasures American freedom and to get them out to the polls on November 7.

MESERVE: NRA President Charlton Heston's whirl through this state on behalf of George W. Bush is just part of a huge onslaught here.


ANNOUNCER: Don't let Al Gore stack the Supreme Court with zealots who oppose your constitutional rights. Protect your rights. Vote freedom first, because if Al Gore wins, you lose.


MESERVE: Gore has tried to neutralize the NRA's arguments against him.

GORE: None of my proposals would have any effect on hunters or sportsmen or people who use rifles.

MESERVE: And Pennsylvania's powerful labor unions are working on Gore's behalf to undercut the NRA.

BILL GEORGE, PRESIDENT, PENNSYLVANIA, AFL-CIO: Our workers who are hunters here understand what the issue's about, and they're not going to vote their gun, they're going to vote their union.

MESERVE: But at an NRA rally on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, evidence and testimony otherwise.

RODNEY PATTON, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION: The Second Amendment is a right, not a privilege. That is why I will endorse Mr. Bush for the presidency, no matter what my union says.

MESERVE: But in the Philadelphia suburbs, many hold a different view of guns and the candidates. ONA HAMILTON, MILLION MOMS MARCH: I've always voted Republican my whole life. I was out campaigning for Nixon when I was in grade school around here. And over this gun issue, I'm switching over to the Democratic side because I feel so strongly about it. And the NRA seems to have co-opted the Republican Party.

MESERVE: It is here in Philly's Republican suburbs that handgun control is making an all-out effort to counter the NRA with ads focusing on the Bush Texas record.


ANNOUNCER: He signed the law that allows carrying those concealed handguns in churches, nursing homes, even amusement parks.

ANNOUNCER: No wonder the NRA says:

KAYNE ROBINSON, NRA FIRST VICE PRESIDENT: If he wins, we'll have a president where we work out of their office.

ANNOUNCER: Say no to the gun lobby.


MESERVE: Knowing the gun issue can cut two ways, the candidates have remained largely mum.

(on camera): But because this presidential race has no major overriding issues, some analysts say guns could be a deciding factor in whether Pennsylvania goes for Bush or for Gore.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Tuscarora Lake, Pennsylvania.


WALCOTT: On a mission to become more physically fit? You've changed your eating habits, cut back on the cookies and increased the cauliflower. Now all you need is a regular exercise program. There are so many to choose from, from Tae-Bo to spinning to good old- fashioned jogging.

But there's another workout that probably never crossed your mind, and it's only a stair step away.

Linda Ciampa explains.


LINDA CIAMPA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They can be grubby, cold and out of the way, but researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, with a little sprucing up, stairwells can lead to better health.

NICOLE KERR, CDC: If you spend about 10 minutes a day in the stairwell, going up and down the stairs, you can actually, over the course of a year, lose about 10 pounds. CIAMPA: And these days at the CDC, more people than ever are taking the steps, thanks to an experimental makeover that involved dressing up the dreary well and adding some upbeat reminders around the office.

DR. WILLIAM H. DIETZ, CDC: When we instituted the stairwell project here, it was with the idea of promoting physical activity in a completely passive way. If we made the stairwells more attractive, and if we promoted it with inexpensive signs, would they be used? And as it turns out, the stairwell's use did increase, and it increased by 14 percent.

CIAMPA: That might not sound like much until you consider that 60 percent of Americans get almost no regular exercise. Plus, research has shown stair-climbing can be an excellent route to cardiovascular health.

A recent European study found good cholesterol went up and heart rates went down in young women who stair-climbed for seven weeks. Still, even at the CDC, some elevator addicts have yet to be convinced.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I do agree, yes, it is healthy, but, hey, what can I say? I'm always the first to try to take the easy way out by taking the elevator.

CIAMPA: And yet that's precisely the CDC's underlying message: taking the steps is the easy way out.

KERR: The small changes do lead to bigger impact. And if you do this on a daily basis over the course of a year, you really can significantly impact your health.

CIAMPA: And perhaps get to your desk a little faster, too.

Linda Ciampa, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview," we celebrate Halloween. We'll meet a mammal with a frightening reputation it doesn't really deserve. And we'll bone up on bats. That's coming up. We'll also take you to England, where there may not exactly be a skeleton in the closet, but close. And don't miss our own Tom Haynes on a Halloween quest of his own.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: I'm trying to pick out my costume for Halloween but there's so many choices. I could be a king, I could be a revolutionary soldier, or I could be George Washington.

Halloween is celebrated October 31. It's a custom which developed from ancient festivals of the dead. During the celebration, ancient Celts would sometimes wear costumes of animal heads and skins. In the U.S., Halloween celebrations didn't become popular until the 1800s, when immigrants from Scotland and Ireland introduced the custom. Today, young people still dress up in costumes and go door- to-door to trick or treat collecting candy.

Now, obviously, costumes are just part of the fun. There are also ghouls and ghost stories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get you in the mood, we take you to Lancashire, England and some ancient ruins.

HAYNES: Jane Dutton reports.


JANE DUTTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vouley Abbey (ph) was built in the 13th century and took nearly 100 years to build. It was first inhabited by Sistine monks. The lifestyle then was harsh and the cold winter months were spent in tiny cells praying.

However, over the years, history took its toll and religion in England started to change. In the 16th century, Henry VIII began to close the monasteries around England and Vouley Abbey was on the list.

It was then bought and converted into a private residence and the monastery buildings were demolished. The abbey is now back in the hands of the local diocese and open to the public.

(on camera): Unfortunately, you won't find any ghosts here at the abbey, so I'm forced to drive into deeper, darker Lancashire.

(voice-over): Lancashire is steeped in history. It is one of the few places left in England where the original families actually live in their ancestral homes. And around Lancashire, you'll still find villages and towns that are owned by the local lord, who's paid weekly rent by the villagers.

Next stop is once such village, Donnem (ph). Donnem Village looks like it could be a movie set, and, in fact, it was. The film "Whistle Down the Wind" was filmed here. The village has remained practically untouched over the years and is a great example of the traditional English village.

One of the more old-time features of the Donnem is the forge, where Steve the blacksmith still forges steel today in the old- fashioned way. It's wonderful to see an old craft being kept alive.

From here, the next stop is Browsholme Hall. This is an old manor and is still home to the Parker family, who have occupied the house throughout the centuries. It has not been changed much since the 15th century. Here, as in many places across Lancashire, there are eerie and grisly tales of times gone by.

ROBERT PARKER, BROWSHOLME HALL: Browsholme was built by my family in 1507 and we've lived in the house ever since, some 15 generations. And one of the great points of Browsholme is a great accumulation of the centuries; certainly five, maybe six centuries. So can I show you one or two things? DUTTON (on camera): Love to see it.

PARKER: We have a collection of dolls here. They're all dressed in different robes or habits because they represent all of the different orders of the Catholic faith that were around at that period, with Mary and the Deana (ph) sitting at the throne there in the back.

And something that is probably unique to the house is this curious dog gauge. It has a rather nasty story to it, so I hope you're not too squeamish.

We gained our names as Parkers, or "park keepers," in 1831 and we would be charged with looking after the area, making sure that he had plenty to hunt. But if we found a dog in the area that couldn't fit through this little dog gauge, we feared that it would chase the king's deer, and its front paw was kind of cut off so it couldn't do so. And you've seen the size of my spaniel. He wouldn't fit.

DUTTON: I know.

PARKER: We haven't used it for 300 odd years, though.

DUTTON: I'm please to hear that.

Speaking of squeamish stories, I've been asked to ask you about the skull.

PARKER: Now, that's in this cupboard here. Now, I can't show it to you because only members of the family can see the skull, but it's said to be one of the martyrs of one of the Pilgrimage of Grace, which was a Catholic uprising in, I think, 1545. And it's said if the skull is taken out of the house, nasty things will happen to the family and the family or the house. It was taken out once and some rather strange things did begin to happen, so we keep it under firm lock and key. I don't even believe a word of it, but I'm not going to risk it, either.

DUTTON: No, no, no, no. Don't take the chance.

PARKER: Now we pass through into the drawing room, a regency drawing room, so you have a very different atmosphere than the previous rooms, and a display of portraits showing, really, family and friends.

Now, I thought you might like to see a four-poster bed so here is one. This is the velvet bedroom, which is rather curious because this is another paneled room. But as I understand, that it was actually lined with green velvet once upon a time and the family story was that they used to lay out the dead out in here.


PARKER: Not nice, no.

DUTTON: Right. PARKER: So I'm rather grateful it isn't like that now. It's rather special paneling.

DUTTON: And any resident ghosts?

PARKER: None that I know of. There is some rumors that there was a white horse ridden up the main staircase and it fell down and had to be put down, regretfully, and it said to haunt them in the main staircase, but I can't say that I've seen it myself.


HAYNES: Relax, it's just me, Tom Haynes. You know, costumes are just part of the fun, but I scared you didn't I?

Our next story deals with bats, something else a lot of people are afraid of.

Our Kathy Nellis helps unmask the myths.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bats. For many people, the word alone elicits shivers and conjures up frightening images. In reality, the animals are an important part of the ecosystem. The furry creatures, resembling rodents with wings, live in most parts of the world. And as well as being widespread, bats are incredibly diverse.

SUE BARNARD, ASST. CURATOR OF HERPETOLOGY, ZOO ATLANTA: There's almost a thousand different kinds, and they are probably as different from one another as we are from tigers.

NELLIS: Bats come in a variety of sizes. In the United States, two you might find include the big brown bat and the little brown bat, the larger with a wingspan of about 12 inches or 30 centimeters; the smaller one with a wingspan of eight inches or 20 centimeters.

BARNARD: This is the big brown bat, although it's not very big, compared to the little brown bat it is. And so that's why it got it's name.

NELLIS: Around the world, there's a whole battery of bats, from a tiny bat in Thailand called the bumble bee bat, to an Indonesian bat with wingspan of six feet.

BARNARD: Maybe we're talking -- the little bat is as big as a thimble and the big bat is as big as a chihuahua -- a flying chihuahua.

NELLIS: These two bats are flying foxes from India. They eat mostly fruit. And like other bats, they roost during the day.

So what makes a bat a bat?

BARNARD: Bats do have one thing in common: they hang upside down; they are also mammals that have true flight -- the only mammals that have true flight.

It is wonderful to watch bats. They are beautiful and dance in the sky while they're catching bugs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they're coming down. They're going to get us.

NELLIS: Bats live in caves, in attics or under bridges. They come out at night from sundown to sunrise to look for food.

(on camera): For centuries, people have handed down superstitions and false ideas about bats. Take the expression "blind as a bat." That's wrong. This big brown bat can see, as can all species of bats.

(voice-over): While many bats use their vision and sense of smell to navigate and find food, others use a special process called echolocation. They emit high-frequency sounds, noises we can't even hear.

Scientist Sue Barnard uses a bat detector to make the sounds audible.

BARNARD: She is sending out her echolocation. Now I'm going to turn this off. You can't hear it. And you see how dangerous she can look now? Oh, look, her mouth is open, her teeth are showing and she's going to try and eat me up and bite me and do all kinds of bad things to me. No. All she's doing is sending out her echoes, see? She's saying, who's in front of me? Oh, it's pretty big. And that's all she's doing.

And that's what they do when they fly. We're talking about the use of echolocation to find their way. And this is what they're doing.

Now, those sounds that she's making will come back to her as echoes and then the brain will process it into whatever she needs to know about her surroundings.

NELLIS: Those surroundings generally benefit from bats, which eat pests, help pollinate plants and distribute seeds over wide areas.

BARNARD: They keep the tropical forests well stocked through seed dispersal. And it's very important these animals be allowed to continue to live in their natural habitat if we want to continue having trees and plants and fruits and flowers.

NELLIS: Despite their value, many people are spooked by bats, possibly because of stories about vampire bats. And while vampire bats do exist, they're not the creepy creatures of folklore.

BARNARD: Vampire bats are very tiny little animals. There are three species. They're found only in the tropical part of the New World, which means from northern Mexico down through Central and South America. They do feed on blood. Primarily they feed on cow blood, and that's because we've introduced cows into those areas where before they would feed only on wild, large animals.

NELLIS: Scientists say bats are not dangerous, if you just leave them alone.

BARNARD: What we try to tell people is that you don't want to pick up a bat. And if you do not pick up a bat, then you will not have contact with this animal. Therefore, there is no danger, plain and simple.

NELLIS: The bats themselves are far from plain and simple. Graceful and agile, they soar through the night sky, a complex blend of prehistoric creature and sophisticated sensor. And while an eerie aura hangs on, the animals are battling that image as their environmental impact reverberates around the globe.

Kathy Nellis, CNN, Morrow, Georgia.


HAYNES: Gives you a whole new perspective on bats, doesn't it?

Go, go, go away, go away, go away. Forget all that bat scary stuff.

Bats are also an important part of the ecosystem as well. And before we go, a few more facts about bats. did you know that many bats eat as much as half their weight in food each night? Talk about full. And while some people are afraid of bats, in China they're considered signs of good luck, happiness and long life.

Well, that about wraps up our Halloween special on "Worldview." Did we scare you? Stick around, though. "Chronicle" is up next.


WALCOTT: Two Russians and an American are leading an expedition that could bring in a new era of space exploration. The space team will be the first people to live at the International Space Station. It took a lot of preparation for the mission that could blaze a path for possible trips to other planets.

Here's Miles O'Brien.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first keepers of the International Space Station were having a tough time keeping up with the clock on the morning we caught up with them. Inside a full-sized simulator at the cosmonaut training center in Star City, Russia, they were practicing an important task scheduled for the first day of their four-month stay at the outpost: connecting laptop computers.

But the instructions were confusing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't really need the server.

O'BRIEN: And what was slated to take 20 minutes of their valuable mission time took more than an hour in rehearsal.

BILL SHEPHERD, COMMANDER: It was hard today. It's going to be harder in space because finding stuff, keeping everything in one pile is going to be a whole lot more difficult up there.

O'BRIEN: And there is little time to spare. Their to-do list for this mission is daunting despite its deceptively simple goal.

SHEPHERD: Go to space, get on board, turn on the lights, crank it up, see if it works.

O'BRIEN: But to a man, U.S. commander Bill Shepherd and Russian crewmembers Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, are embarking on their odyssey convinced it will be anything but straightforward.

(on camera): Would you be surprised if you didn't have your hands full with a lot of problems? I mean, it's...

SERGEI KRIKALEV, COSMONAUT: I would. I know it couldn't happen because we have so many different systems, and we expecting problems from all of them.

O'BRIEN (on camera): There could be no question this crew is well trained for the space marathon that lies ahead. In fact, they have been preparing to be station keepers here in Star City and in Houston for about four years. But that was not by design. They were held up and strung along just like everything else in this far flung international partnership.

(voice-over): Through it all, the three space farers say they have forged strong bonds of friendship and respect -- bonds that will be put to the test over the next four months. Sergei Krikalev should know: He logged more than 450 days on the Mir space station.

KRIKALEV: You have to be able to keep your emotion under control. You have to be patient because it's like marathon: you have to put up with all difficulties during all this flight.

O'BRIEN: But Commander Shepherd is more concerned about the relationship with ground controllers, particularly in Houston, where they are more accustomed to planning shuttle missions down to five- minute increments.

SHEPHERD: Our experience on the shuttle is very scheduled, very time-driven, very scripted. We have got to be careful that we step away from that on this station and kind of do it differently.

O'BRIEN: There is no question this is a different kind of space mission. And when things don't go as planned, the problem may not be something Houston or anyone else on the ground can solve.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Star City, Russia. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: That's history in the making.

Well, that wraps up today's show. From all of us here at NEWSROOM, have a great day.



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