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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 3, 2000

Aired November 3, 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. The week is winding down, but we still have plenty of news to report. Here's the rundown.

Leading the show, four days to go before the U.S. presidential election and the candidates are in full campaign mode.

Turning to our "Daily Desk," we celebrate women making history.

All aboard for "Worldview." We're taking a ride on Choo-Choo U.

Then, we're still traveling in "Chronicle." This time, we set sail to commemorate a historic journey.

With four days left before the United States presidential election, the front-runners try to sow the seeds of victory in the heartland.

Once again Thursday, Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush targeted some of the battleground states. Those states represent dozens of electoral votes. It takes 270 to win. Bush campaigned in Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, a state which supported the winning presidential candidate in all but one race in the 20th century.

Bush renewed his vow to reform Social Security.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You see, it's your money, not the government's money. You ought to be allowed to invest it the way you see fit.


WALCOTT: Gore spent the day stumping in Pennsylvania, Illinois and New Mexico. He said Bush could threaten the nation's economic prosperity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent has a very different view. He wants to change the very best things about the economic course we're on. He wants to go back. Do you want to go back to the way it was eight years ago?



WALCOTT: Gore is set to campaign in Missouri, Iowa and Tennessee today. Bush has scheduled rallies in Michigan and West Virginia.

Both Al Gore and George W. Bush are making education a top priority in their campaigns. Each says he has the better plan for improving America's schools. But, ultimately, that will be up to the voters to decide.

Frank Sesno looks at how their plans stack up.


FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Both candidates propose spending billions of dollars to improve education. It's been one of their central campaign issues. The price tag for Al Gore's plan is more than three times that of George W. Bush's package. A central difference is the extent of Washington's role in public education.

GORE: We've got to reduce the size of each class by recruiting good, new, highly qualified teachers who are tested to make sure they know what they're doing.

SESNO: Under Gore's plan, money for more teachers would be tied to federal teacher quality standards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who can give us an example of something you found at home -- Carlos.

SESNO: And Gore would require states to test teachers in the subjects they teach.

Bush says Gore wants too much federal influence. He would offer block grants to the states, money they would use for teacher testing and other initiatives. Bush would give failing schools three years to improve or risk losing federal funding. Parents could choose to have their children transferred to a public school that works or receive vouchers of about $1,500 to put toward private or parochial school.

BUSH: We're going to have a president who challenges the status quo by trusting parents to make different choices when their children are in failed schools.

SESNO: Al Gore strongly opposes school vouchers. He says they'd drain funds from public schools and would not fully cover the cost of many private schools in any case. Gore would shut failing schools if there's no improvement after two years, then reopen them under new leadership.

The federal government contributes only a fraction of the cost to public education, but as both candidates have made clear, they'd lean heavily on the bully pulpit to try to improve the nation's classrooms.

Frank Sesno, CNN, reporting.


WALCOTT: "I Am Woman" was a refrain popular with thousands of women during the American women's movement of the 1970s. Throughout history, various women's movements have arisen. In all, the main objective of those efforts was to elevate women's position in society.

Now Charles Zewe brings us the story of a new movement of sorts; one designed to increase women's visibility.


CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An art deco statue of a woman rising from a cactus, grasping its thorny branches, was the inspiration for the new Women's Museum that its founder says defies 200 years of telling American history.

CATHY BONNER, FOUNDER, WOMEN'S MUSEUM FOUNDER: There are 8,000 museums in the United States, and most of them do tell history from the male perspective. So in the 21st century, it's time to tell the other side of the story, too.

ZEWE: Housed in a former livestock arena on the Texas State Fairgrounds, the museum is built around hundreds of artifacts borrowed from the Smithsonian Institution.

BONNER: A lot of these women shaped our lives, they shaped our culture, and they shaped our communities.

ZEWE: From suffragettes to playmates, women's struggles are chronicled in sports and space, in health, business and religion. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt's wartime Red Cross uniform is here. There's a flight suit worn by aviator Amelia Earhart. And there's the obscure: the fact actress Heddy Lamar patented a World War II scrambling device that's the basis for today's wireless communications.

BONNER: And for years, no one knew it because Hollywood thought it would disrupt her glamorous image.

ZEWE: America's funny women are saluted.


WENDY LIEBMAN, COMEDIAN: I was married for two years. They say the secret to a successful marriage is leave.


And then they say...


ZEWE: White House correspondent Helen Thomas is honored as unforgettable.

HELEN THOMAS, HEARST NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST: Well, I think some people have been happy to forget me, but I won't let them.


ZEWE: At 80, Thomas left UPI after covering eight presidents and battling gender bias all the way. Now a columnist, she was the first woman to end a presidential news conference in the '60s with the traditional, "Thank you, Mr. President."

THOMAS: What I like to feel is that I helped to break down some of the barriers against women journalists in this country.

BONNER: American history has not told these really important, inspiring and courageous stories before. Never again will there be a generation that doesn't know these stories.

ZEWE: Five other women's museums are being planned around the U.S. Founders say they hope, collectively, the facilities serve as encouragement for young girls to reach for their dreams.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Dallas.


WALCOTT: Take a train trip in "Worldview." We head to the USA to ride the rails and learn about a unique school; onto schools of fish in Russia, where we examine salmon. Plus, we get a peek at a special performing arts program. That story comes from China.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: China shared its culture with the United States this fall during a special six-city U.S. tour. China's Disabled Persons Performing Art Troupe put on its new show, "My Dream." The Troupe is made up of 50 amateur artists who are blind, deaf or physically disabled. The troupe was created by Deng Pufeng, the son of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. The younger Deng is himself wheelchair bound.

Another performer, Sang Lan, a former gymnast who was paralyzed after a fall in a warm-up session during the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York. The 19-year-old is finishing high school and continuing physical therapy rehabilitation after an injury that broke her neck.

CNN caught up with these graceful performers at the Washington International School during a rehearsal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is an ancient Chinese saying which goes... (SPEAKING IN CHINESE)

... which means, "seeing is believing." So now, let's enjoy the show.

SANG LAN, FMR. CHAMPION GYMNAST: Two years ago in New York, I fell off the vaulting horse. At that moment, the brilliance of the stadium suddenly turned to darkness. My dream was broken.

(through translator): We show the world and disabled people, if healthy people can do it, then we can also do it.

ZHANG JIGANG, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR (through translator): This dance has been well received in Beijing and many other cities. It shows their love for life. It shows their persistence in struggling for life. It shows their will. Maybe you've already noticed that all five of the boys have only one leg -- the left one. And by standing together in a line, it's kind of a beauty. And we dance to Tchaikovsky's music and it seems the image and the sound are in harmony.

PIHONG JUNG, DANCER (through translator): In my heart, I have love to support my life spiritually, try to do whatever I want to do and to do my best here.

JIGANG (through translator): The teachers and the sign guides instruct the dancers in the group. The guides not only use their gestures and their signs, they're also using their feet to tap on the floor. The dancers feel the vibrations.

DENG PUFENG, CHINA DISABLED PERSON'S FED. (through translator): Anything that is beautiful should belong to everybody. I can never be selfish on that.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: From China to Russia, a neighbor to the North, Russia is a vast land that stretches from Europe to Asia. It borders the Arctic Ocean. In Russia's far East, the Kamchatka Peninsula was a closed military zone during the Soviet era. Remote and undeveloped, it now has some of the world's most pristine wilderness, including wild rivers teeming with salmon.

But economic development could create some serious threats to those rivers, as Gary Strieker explains.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wild watersheds of western Kamchatka, researchers sample the fish.

GUIDO RAHR III, WILD SALMON CENTER: These rivers are the richest salmon rivers on the planet. This watershed has 10 species of salmon, trout, steelhead and char living in the same watershed. And this electroshocker enables us to zap the juvenile fish. We catch them in this net. We can determine what species are here and confirm that indeed this river has one of the richest diversities in it.

STRIEKER: One sweep of the net captures three species.

SERGEI MAXIMOV, MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY: One big chinook, salmon and some red coho salmon, and another one that's char.

STRIEKER: Eighty percent of Kamchatka's economy is based on commercial fishing, especially for salmon. An estimated one-third of all wild salmon in the Pacific Ocean are spawned in Kamchatka's rivers.

Elsewhere, along both sides of the Pacific and Atlantic, native salmon runs have declined or disappeared. But here, many rivers are as abundant with salmon as they have been for thousands of years; a biological treasure now facing serious threats, first from widespread poaching, a billion-dollar illegal trade in salmon and salmon caviar that has already caused declining salmon runs in several major rivers. Much of the trade is controlled by organized crime, but the poachers are desperately poor Russians with no alternatives.

VLADIMIR BURKANOV, ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER: The greatest risk now in Kamchatka is our poor economy, poor people. Because if people hungry, they don't have any choice. And they can destroy everything.

STRIEKER: Salmon spawning grounds are also threatened by mining projects and by construction of a natural gas pipeline across at least 20 pristine river systems. That's the reason for this rapid assessment mission: to survey salmon stocks in Kamchatka's western rivers.

The Wild Salmon Center, based in Oregon, is working with Russian partners on a program to establish a system of salmon refuges to protect these watersheds before it's too late.

RAHR: Basically, Russia is in a window of time where they can make a decision to protect some of those watersheds. And if they succeed, this will be one of the biggest salmon conservation achievements in our lifetimes.

STRIEKER: But illegal fishing here is spiraling out of control, and there are mounting political pressures to move ahead with oil, gas and mining projects.

(on camera): Kamchatka is now at a crossroad, facing hard decisions on economic development that will also decide the future of these wild, undisturbed salmon rivers.

(voice-over): It could be the last chance on Earth to save rivers like these.

Gary Strieker, CNN, on the Oblukovina River in Kamchatka, Russia.


HAYNES: For more on salmon, check your NEWSROOM archives for September 19. You'll learn about salmon all along the Columbia River in the United States, and dams threatening these fish and their migration. And for more other animals in Russia, check your NEWSROOM archives for October 11 to hear all about brown bears.

WALCOTT: All aboard for our next stop, a train ride in the southwestern United States. Railway trains are one of the most important means of transportation. Almost every country has at least one railroad. The world's largest rail line is in Russia. It stretches about 5,600 miles. That's more than 9,000 kilometers.

The first public railroads were used in Great Britain in the 1820s and 1830s. This first railroad across the American West was completed in 1869. This new mode of transportation was key in opening up the West to settlers.

Over the years, railways have faced competition from other forms of transportation, like cars and airplanes. But there are still plenty of people riding the rail, which is good news for some students at a place you might call Choo-Choo U.

Don Knapp has the story.


DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Engine, box car, caboose, and a short length of track through a Sacramento Valley orchard -- not so much a railroad as a school for railroading, hands- on.

Students learn the fun stuff as well as the tough stuff.

DAVID RANGEL, MODOC RAILROAD ACADEMY: One day he might be the track worker. The next day, he might be the engineer. The day after that, he'll be sweeping out the office. You have to know the fundamentals of any business, of any job, and then go on.

KNAPP: Joe Rosetti, a machinist for 22 years, quit his job to follow a dream.

JOE ROSETTI, RAILROAD STUDENT: I really can't explain it. It's something you feel. Railroading is just -- ever since I was very young, it's just something I've always wanted to do.

KNAPP: It's hard and sometimes dangerous work, but then so is owning a liquor store in Los Angeles.

GARY HARDING, RAILROAD STUDENT: Well, I've been in four different shootings. I've had my jaw broken. Somebody hit me in the face with a two-by-four. I had a criminal that came into my business and stabbed me.

KNAPP: Railroading is more exciting than the job Jim Hughes used to have, whipping up omelets.

JAMES HUGHES, RAILROAD STUDENT: It's something that is going to require my mental abilities and my physical abilities for the rest of my life. And I want to be challenged. KNAPP (on camera): Not everyone who comes to the Modoc Railroad Academy does so for the love of railroading, some come simply looking for a new kind of work. But judging from industry demand for academy graduates, both groups have come to the right place.

RANGEL: We have the Burlington Northern Santa Fe that has told us that they will be taking every one of our graduates starting the first of the year. Amtrak wants every one of these people out of this class and more. We don't have enough people to fill the positions that we have.

KNAPP: The eight-week course costs $4,000. Railroad starting salaries begin at about 10 times that much. And some lucky graduates may even get to run the trains.

Don Knapp, CNN, Sacramento County, California.


WALCOTT: Imagine leaving your home and everything familiar to you to set out on a journey into the unknown. That's just what Viking Leif Eriksson did a millennium ago, and in the process he discovered North America.

Recently, one of Eriksson's direct descendants reenacted his forefather's famous journey, a journey that changed the world.

With more, here's Rudi Bakhtiar.


BAKHTIAR (voice-over): One thousand years ago, he took the road less traveled and beat Christopher Columbus to the New World by 500 years. He was the legendary Icelander Leif Eriksson, son of Eirik the Red, who set his course westward from his home, Greenland, and discovered Vinland, today better known as Newfoundland, Canada in North America.

The ancient Icelandic sagas tell the tale of the voyage by Eriksson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Leif, according to the land qualities, named it Vinland.

BAKHTIAR: And science has now proven it. Artifacts excavated in Newfoundland support the fact that, 1,000 years ago, the Vikings did make it all the way to North America.

Now, a thousand years later, a direct descendant of Leif Eriksson has reenacted his voyage to commemorate the anniversary.

GUNNAR EGGERTSSON, CAPTAIN, THE ICELANDER: I'm hoping to do this for Iceland and maybe to get people to know how they were sailing 1,000 years ago, and how easily they were sailing, how clever they were.

Gunnar Marel Eggertsson was born to a family of shipbuilders in the volcanic Westman Islands south of Iceland.

(on camera): Gunnar first became interested in Viking ships when he was just 10 years old. He started preparing for this trip in 1994, well before he knew of his ancestral ties to Leif Eriksson.

EGGERTSSON: I heard my father and grandfather talking about those Viking ships, how fast they were sailing and how seaworthy they were, and how clever those guys were to build those ships and sail them over the ocean. Ever since then, I never forgot.

BAKHTIAR (voice-over): The Viking ship Icelander is an exact replica of a 9th century Viking ship called the "Gokstaad Ship" (ph), excavated from an ancient burial mound in Norway in 1882. With the help of a good friend, Gunnar built the entire ship by hand.

In the Viking era, a ship like the Icelander normally would carry about 70 crew members. Equipped with a small motor, the Icelander has only eight in its crew, almost all childhood friends of Gunnar's.

EGGERTSSON: They are my friends since I was about 5 years old. We started to be together on the ocean and on small boats in the Westman Islands when we were about 10 years old. And we know each other very well. And I can tell them whatever I want out on the ocean and without any problems. I know them.

BAKHTIAR: After months of preparation, training and planning, the crew embarked on their voyage from Reykjavik, Iceland in May.

EGGERTSSON: I feel always very good out on the ocean between lands where I don't see lands. There, I feel free. And that's my place out on the ocean.

BAKHTIAR: I asked Gunnar if he draws inspiration from his ancestor, Leif Eriksson.

EGGERTSSON: Out on the ocean, I'm thinking a lot of him and those guys who were sailing across the Atlantic then. That's how they are coming into my life. When I'm standing back on the rudder and steering the ship over the ocean, that's when I'm thinking about them and how they were acting out on the ocean.

BAKHTIAR: The journey was long, quarters were tight, and the waters were treacherous. But after four months at sea, the Icelander sailed smoothly into the Canadian harbor a millennium after the first Viking ship touched these same shores. And what a welcome it received. L'Anse Aux Meadows, population 44, hosted 10,000 people who showed up at this million-dollar Viking village replica.

EGGERTSSON: We the crew of Islandingur are proud to bring our ship here to L'Anse Aux Meadows.

BAKHTIAR: From here, the Icelander sailed down the East Coast of North America to spread the Viking legacy and shed light on a people once feared.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: General elections here in the United States are now just four days away. But the polls opened early for U.S. school kids who took part in the nation's first online mock election. The goal: inspire a new generation of voters to take part in the electoral process.

Pat Etheridge has more.


PAT ETHERIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These students know more about the upcoming election than many grownups.

TALLAS SAUNDERS, STUDENT: Put penalties for drugs...

ETHERIDGE: Take it from fifth-grader Tallas Saunders.

SAUNDERS: Pick the right person. Don't just look at one person and say, oh, I'm going to pick him. Look through all their information, maybe go on the Internet and everything, like I did when I was in fifth grade.

ETHERIDGE: Tallas and his classmates have researched the platforms of every candidate.

SHARON BROWNLEE, AVONDALE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: The way we started it was to say, what do you care about in the world? What is it that you want these men who might be leaders to take care of? What are the problems? What are the issues? And they nailed them.

ETHERIDGE: Now, through a program called the Youth-e-Vote, they join millions of other children across the country in the first online national election.

DOUG BAILEY, FOUNDER, YOUTH-E-VOTE: The goal here is to try to get some civics back in the schools and try to teach what voting is all about and give young people an experience that they can remember and turn today's students into tomorrow's voters.

ETHERIDGE: The program is paid for by a host of nonpartisan, nonprofit groups. Ten thousand schools have signed on in all 50 states. And though it's unofficial, this mock election is considered a key test of the technology.

(on camera): Students may well change the course of future elections, when all voters might be able to go online and cast their ballots with a click of a mouse.

(voice-over): In the last presidential election, barely one-half of the eligible adults voted, and not even a third of young adults turned out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are some of the things that you would want in an ideal leader?

ETHERIDGE: Motivating parents is another goal of the Youth-e- Vote. The program has Lucy Ke (ph) and her daughter Samantha talking politics with ease.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also, I think the environment is important.

ETHERIDGE: And back at school, students experience new found pride.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It gives little people the chance to think, to express themselves about the candidates.

ETHERIDGE: In this class, the turnout is 100 percent.

Pat Etheridge, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: So many students weighed in during Thursday's first- ever online voting that the system wasn't able to keep up. Polling was extended through today to allow everyone an opportunity to vote.

Despite glitches, participants say the experience was worth it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a good opportunity to come here to see everything, to see how it works. And I think that this is good to show students so they'll become more involved when they get older.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that I've become part of a political, kind of like, poll sort of thing, I would like to become more politically active in my community, and probably in the next presidential election.


WALCOTT: For a breakdown of the state-by-state results, log onto

For now, we're logging off. Have a safe weekend. Bye-bye.



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