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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 28, 2000

Aired November 28, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: It's time for your Tuesday NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Today's show focuses on health, heroism and a very hotly contested U.S. presidential race. Here's a preview.

Is it all over but the shouting? What lies ahead in election 2000?

Then, is following this election raising your stress level? If so, check out "Health Desk" to discover what that stress may be doing to your calorie count.

Next, from fat to falls, we roll into "Worldview." But look out because a popular mode of transportation could be dangerous if you're not careful.

We end with a question as we ponder the meaning of a hero.

Vice President Al Gore takes his case to the American people, trying to win support for his bid for the United States presidency. Numerous legal cases are already pending, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court. On Friday, the justices are scheduled to hear arguments in a case filed by the Bush campaign on whether the hand counts in Florida were legal. Monday night, the focus was on Gore.

In his televised address, Gore said the American system depends on an election where every vote is counted. And he said thousands of votes in Florida weren't counted. The Gore campaign was in a Florida state court contesting results in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Nassau counties.

As the legal wrangling continues, George W. Bush, the certified winner in Florida with a 537-vote lead, is planning for a transition to the White House. However, until a president-elect is declared, neither Bush nor Gore can claim the $5.3 million in transition funds or occupy the official transition office space, which for now remains empty.

Each day that passes without a president-elect means one less day to prepare for a hand-over of power. With numerous legal challenges pending, it's uncertain when election 2000 will be resolved. Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on a petition filed by the Bush campaign challenging Florida's hand recounts.

Bob Franken examines the uncertainty surrounding that case.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The justices raised the question themselves, asking both sides: What would be the consequences of this court's finding that the Florida Supreme Court went too far in ordering recounts and changing deadlines?

Attorneys will tell you the "what if" question itself raises a lot of ifs; if, for instance, the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Bush campaign that the Florida justices were wrong.


FRANKEN: Republican lawyers savor the possibility that the highest court in the land could decide who gets Florida's electoral votes and end this once and for all -- maybe.

GRAY: I think if the Supreme Court said the Republican slate is the proper slate under our interpretation of the Constitution and Title 3 of the United States Code, that, I believe, is it. I would hope that would be it.

FRANKEN: Again, uncertainty. There could be changes on the ground in Florida: Will whatever the U.S. Supreme Court does even matter, given how the Gore campaign is contesting the state's election results?

Another hypothetical: Gore's contests are successful, a state judge orders a recount. It reverses the Florida result and Gore is declared the winner. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court rules the counts should have been over.

Democratic attorney Lanny Davis:

LANNY DAVIS, DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEY: And you would have two competing sets of electors going to Washington. Ultimately, I think the United States Congress would have to resolve that regardless of what the Supreme Court did.

FRANKEN: In their initial arguments, Gore campaign lawyers suggested U.S. Supreme Court involvement could only muddy the waters. They called it "a significant intrusion."

The Bush campaign came back to say "the exceedingly important nature of this case provides a powerful justification for review by this court."

(on camera): The Republicans had their way. The Supreme Court has the case. And unless someone decides it's moot, unnecessary, we should soon have a ruling. And then maybe we'll find out whether the nation's court of last resort really is the last resort. Bob Franken, CNN, the Supreme Court.


BAKHTIAR: All right, time for the "Health Desk" word of the day: stress. Technically it means any physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

Whatever the source, stress can wear you out and maybe even make you sick. But did you know that it could be making you fat?

Christy Feig explains.


CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jean Pagon-Bullock is a triathlete.

JEAN PAGON-BULLOCK, TRIATHLETE: Yes, this is Jean Pagon-Bullock.

FEIG: She also juggles the daily stress of work and home.

PAGON-BULLOCK: Ten years ago, a lot of us didn't have answering machines. Then it was answering machines; then it was pagers; then it's faxes; now it's mobile phones. You must be instantly on almost 24/7.

FEIG: And being instantly on is stressful. She noticed she was gaining weight. Now one researcher sees a connection: stress can actually make us fat. When we're exposed to a stressful situation, the brain sends out a stress hormone, triggering a chain reaction, causing certain cells to retain more fat.

DR. PAMELA PEEKE, AUTHOR, "FIGHT FAT AFTER FORTY": There are special receptors on the fat cells deep inside your abdomen which are specifically intended to hook up with stress hormone and stress hormone stimulates them to accept fat.

FEIG: Fat the body uses as fuel for the "fight or flight" defense mechanism.

(on camera): And that worked fine for our ancestors, but the brain can't tell the difference between survival stress and chronic daily pressures, and the body continues to store fat.

(voice-over): So how do you stop the cycle? First you have to block the stress hormones, and that takes beta endorphins, produced when you exercise.

PEEKE: Weightlifting on a routine basis, meaning twice a week vigorously for about 30-40 minutes for both men and women, is really the key.

FEIG: Second is what you eat. Eat lean protein and eliminate starches, especially after 5:00 p.m. And most important, control the stress. Start by understanding it: duration, or the length of exposure; dose, or how much stress you're exposed to; the perception of whether something is stressful; and control.

DR. ESTHER STERNBERG, AUTHOR, "THE BALANCE WITHIN": When you break down stress into those pieces, you can then begin to figure out ways that you in your own situation could turn bad stress into good stress.

FEIG: Jean found that by managing her stress, eating carefully and exercising, she's lost about 25 pounds.

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: Health, the environment and culture are the topics in "Worldview." We'll zip to Europe, Asia and the United States. But our first stop is Germany, where two cases of mad cow disease have been confirmed in German-born cows.

Mad cow disease, also known as BSE, is a fatal neuro- degenerative, transmissible brain disease in cattle. It was first identified in the United Kingdom in 1985, but it wasn't until a decade later that the British government conceded that people were also falling victim to a degenerative brain disease linked to BSE.

Now, some of you might remember the mad cow scare that swept through Britain in 1996, which led to the slaughter of millions of cattle and the deaths of dozens of people.

Now Chris Burns reports on how Germany is dealing with its mad cow problems.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): These cows are tagged for destruction, some of the herd German authorities ordered killed at the farm that was home to one of the first German- born cows that tested positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, among emergency measures being carried out by a government criticized as being reactive instead of proactive against the so- called "mad cow disease" gripping other European countries.

There's growing finger-pointing over who is to blame after the first two German-born cows tested positive for the brain-wasting disease. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said his government moved as quickly as it could.

GERHARD SCHROEDER, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I think we have shown that we are capable of acting swiftly and precisely. The crisis committee has come up with proposals which will now be implemented. This is not just a German problem, it's a problem affecting all of Europe.

BURNS: The European Union is under fire as well, but its health commissioner in part blames a previously complacent Germany for dragging its feet on just such a measure. DAVID BYRNE, EU HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I don't believe that the German government has acted consciously irresponsibly. I believe that the facts speak for themselves, that the German government, in the belief that Germany was BSE-free, adopted a particular approach that was not cooperative with the commission in its trying to get through legislation that we believed provided safety for consumers throughout the European Union.

BURNS: Some officials suggest Germans have eaten infected meat and could come down with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE. The incubation period could take years.

In the face of all that, there's growing anger among consumers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Those responsible should be shot dead.

BURNS: An anger that could grow among those who plan a meatless Christmas.

Chris Burns, CNN, Berlin.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Next, we head to the land sometimes called "the roof of the world": Tibet. Tibet is located in South- Central Asia. It's been a part of China since the 1950s, but before that it was an independent or semi-independent state for many years.

During its self-rule, Tibet was a theocracy, or religious kingdom. Before China took control, Buddhist monks had a very strong voice in how Tibet was run. Tibet's mountains and plateaus are the highest in the world. The world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest, is located there.

The Tibetan people have been celebrating their country's breathtaking landscape through the art of dance.

We have this report from Han Bin.


HAN BIN, CCTV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The great hall of the people in Mangin (ph) echoed through the sounds of Tibetan religious and folk music. Nearly 100 Tibetans demonstrate the region's culture and unique customs.

Qomolongma is the name of the world's highest mountain, also known as Mount Everest. But the dancers gave it new meaning.

Sirin Donju (ph) says, "Qomolongma tries to express the rich spiritual world and cultural development of Tibetans."

In keeping with the size of its mountain namesake, Qomolongma is the largest musical dance performance Tibetans have undertaken since the democratic reforms in the 1950s. The show uses 600 Tibetans costumes. Some of the religious dances and musical instruments are being revealed to the public for the first time. The total cost of the production was over 8 million gran (ph), or $100, 000 U.S.

Gosan Joma (ph) says, "their performance is sincere and hopes it will help people form a true impression of their homeland."

The production took over three years to make, but many of those involved say Tibetan culture is so deep it is a never-ending source of artistic inspiration. Qomolangma may only offer audiences a glimpse of life on the roof of the world.

This is Han Bin of China Central Television for CNN "WORLD REPORT."


BAKHTIAR: On to Sweden, a Scandinavian nation that is neighbors with Norway and Finland. Our topic today: the European elk. It's the largest member of the deer family. The animal belongs to the same species as the lumbering American moose. We'll be tracking the creature through the forest and on the World Wide Web.

From mouse to moose, Denise Dillon is our guide.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Sweden, elk hunting is a matter of tradition and national pride. Every year, about 300,000 people get out their hunting gear and head for the woods.

As for those trapped in an office all day, they get to go hunting as well -- no guns, just their mouse. A newspaper set up Web cameras in the forest, a fixed one perched on a tree and a mobile camera that hunters carry with them as they search for elk. The live pictures can be seen on the newspapers Web site.

From their offices, workers say it provides some stress relief.

MAGNUS ERIKSSON, VIRTUAL HUNTER: It's relaxing to watch it. It's not like you're sitting in the forest and watching the elks, but I think it's a kind of substitute.

DILLON: This is the view through the camera, and this is what it looks like on the computer. A live picture is sent roughly once a minute.

Since the cameras were switched on, the number of hits on the newspaper's Web site has increased 50 percent. The newspaper is so thrilled with this that next year they're taking it one step further.

ERIKA TREIJS, PROJECT MANAGER: I really want to do something else next year, something more. I want to see this camera on an elk, actually, because I want to see from the perspective that an elk has, not just the hunters. DILLON: Internet hunters can participate in a spot-an-elk contest. The first one to see an elk and tell the newspaper wins a large piece of elk meat.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Next stop Germany, a nation that's riding a popular trend. We're talking, of course, about scooters, a form of transportation that's taking off not only in Germany, but around the world. Maybe you've tried them out yourself whizzing around your neighborhood with your friends. It's a craze that's caught on with kids, but it's also spreading, and politicians are climbing on board, as Elina Fuhrman explains.


ELINA FUHRMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are this year's latest fashion trend, and the already crowded streets of Berlin are awash with thousands of these silver gadgets. Between 5,000 and 10,000 new microscooters are pouring onto the street every week, and most Berliners will agree that they've become a fashion and travel essential.

The recent fuel crisis in Europe has turned scooters, or kickboards, as they're called in Germany, into a political tool as well. Dozens of politicians from the Christian Democratic Party hopped on their scooters to make a point: gas is too expensive and scooters are better for environment. That's exactly what those who market and sell scooters were looking for.

JENS MEIER-EVERT, SCOOTER STORE OWNER: Kickboard is a new thing. It's micromobility and, yes, the people like it.

FUHRMAN: Originally aimed at the hip surf and skate market, scooters have been embraced by virtually everyone.

MEIER-EVERT: It's the same like a bike.

FUHRMAN (on camera): While the idea of furiously propelling oneself around the streets with one leg may not be for everyone, scooters have at least one advantage over the good old bike: they weigh less than three kilograms and the aluminum frame can be neatly folded away and carried into shops, bars and even the office.

(voice-over): Even in the corridors of the Bundestag, you can hear the rumble of tiny polyurethane wheels as the nation's political elite take to their kickboards. And this time it's the image politicians are concerned about.

NORBERT BARTEL, BUNDESTAG MEMBER (through translator): My colleagues in parliament consider me athletic. And all people who are athletic and fit love kickboards.

FUHRMAN: Some say the scooter craze will die as soon as autumn rains start. Others disagree.

MEIER-EVERT: When you can bring this idea of micromobility in the head of the people, then it's not only a fashion.

FUHRMAN: Whatever it is, people can't seem to get enough. Scooters are now available in any shape or color. And in Berlin, tourists can get a personal city tour on a scooter and still have plenty of time left for shopping.

Elina Fuhrman, CNN, Berlin.


HAYNES: More now on scooters as we turn to the United States. This time we focus on scooter safety.

Jim Hill reports on the thrills and spills.


JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blend of skateboard, in-line skate and old-fashioned scooter, these lightweight little toys are on a roll...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very popular. Like, all kids have them.

HILL: ... both in sales...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A month, this store alone will probably do 500, 600.

HILL: ... and in concern over safety since they became the rage earlier this year.

A survey by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found injuries from scooter mishaps have almost doubled each month since May, reaching 4,140 nationwide in August. According to the commission, injuries can be sharply reduced if riders wear a helmet, wrist guards and pads for elbows and knees. But 90 percent of the injuries are in kids under 15, just the age that may find donning safety gear inconvenient, even though mom and dad want them to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen several kids that have fallen off, bumped their heads, maybe broke an arm, you know -- so for safety precautions.

HILL: One Los Angeles-area sporting goods chain says it recommends a package of safety gear for about $35. But it says only 3 or 4 percent of its scooter buyers invest in the safety equipment.

Worries over scrapes, scratches and broken bones have also prompted some schools to ban scooters on campus.

LYNN PERKSE, PRINCIPAL: It just isn't something that we want to have anybody run into another child and injure them. So it's mainly just the safety reasons. HILL: And it may continue to be. Some two-dozen brands ranging in price from $80 to $140 could sell 5 million of these little scooters this year.

Jim Hill, CNN, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: In "Chronicle," a look at heroes. Who do you look up to? Heroes can range from family and friends to fictional characters on TV or in books. And experts say the people we put on a pedestal are a reflection of our own life values.

With more on that, here's Andy Jordan.


ANDY JORDAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their faces are familiar, their missions not always the same. How, then, you may ask, can they hold court with the likes of Wile E. Coyote?

ZACHARY TODD, AGE 19: There's no need to, like, you know, beep- beep behind him and scare him, and then off the cliff. There's no reason for that. And nonetheless, he makes a little poof at the bottom of the canyon and then he gets back up and then devises something else.

JORDAN: Courage, creativity and resilience -- qualities that qualify anyone, real or not, for the ranks of hero, at least in the mind of 19-year-old Zachary Todd, who calls himself fairly typical for a teenager. His hero list includes Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa and the guy who created that funky ball with lightening inside. His CD collection provides clues to his eclectic choice of heroes.

TODD: A while ago, people might say it automatically is my father and my mother, you know. But now I think a lot of people, especially my age, realize that their parents aren't infallible.

JORDAN: Besides family and friends, heroes tend to come from one of three arenas: popular culture, literature and folklore, the latter being the area of specialty for University of California at Berkeley Professor Alan Dundes, who's written a book called "In Quest of A Hero." He believes there is an inherent hero pattern.

ALAN DUNDES, FOLKLORIST: You can see it in modern American life, you can see it in "Star Wars."

JORDAN: In folklore and literature, the hero was born to a virgin mother. There's some sort of conflict between parent and child, usually an attempt by the father to kill the hero at birth. He's reared by foster parents, he conquers a dragon or a wild beast or a king, marries a princess, reigns, and then meets a mysterious death. A variation of that theme surfaces with Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars."

DUNDES: But the story is very clear. He's got the -- brought up by foster parents, you've got the father figure, Darth Vader. The name even, "Darth," death. "Vader" is similar to father. And it turns out later in the later episode it is the father. So you have a father/son combat.

JORDAN: Professor Dundes believes American heroes also spring from a uniquely Indoeuropean phenomenon called "machoism," a process where children are reared by females. While girls have no need to break away from that nurturing, boys do, he says. Society encourages them to break away.

DUNDES: Well, one of the ways of breaking away is to go into activities where women are excluded, where women are kept away, where you're only dealing with other males. And then with those other males, you have to demonstrate your supremacy.

JORDAN: He says men do this through war, school-yard fighting and sports. According to the theory, that process would explain the preponderance of male heroes and the hero status of figures like Gen. Colin Powell, biker Lance Armstrong, and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

There's another reason young people often draw from professional wrestlers when picking a hero.

TOM LEONARD, UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY: They're not cultured, they're not polite. They do all the things that we're told not to do in society.

JORDAN: Professor Tom Leonard has researched the antihero and American fascination with villains, glorified through media. While movies may make icons out of pirates, what does the real world offer? He points to characters like Bill Gates, a hero to many, but a pirate in the mind of Leonard.

LEONARD: Pirate is a word you give somebody when you sort of admire them, but you really worry about the power and wealth they're accumulating.

JORDAN: Where does one draw the hero line in the sand, though?

TODD: I can respect a person for one thing, and of course I can completely disdain them for another. But I can still respect them, and I can separate the two.

LEONARD: It's hard to think of something you can do that permanently bars you from being, you know, saved in America.

JORDAN: He points to John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Lincoln, as an example of someone whom history will probably never revere. But characters who push the limits of conventional society often become antiheroes. We can also look to literature, the protagonist in "Catcher in the Rye" for whom everything was "phony."

(on camera): What made Holden Caulfield an antihero?

TODD: Well, first of all, he was the main character of the book, so automatically, you know, you have to identify -- well, you don't have to, but you identify with him and, you know, he's there for you and you're with him all the way. But at the same time, he's not doing things that are classically heroic, you know? He's not out there fighting lions and dragons.

JORDAN (voice-over): Someone who is fighting dragons has characteristics of both hero and antihero: Harry potter, a kid who is not a sportsman, is even considered a nerd by some, but still prospers in the end.

DUNDES: Does use magic, and so that does still evoke something of a hero pattern because the hero usually cannot succeed entirely on his own. He needs help, at least in the fairy tale. He has to get this magical aid. So it's only that our heroes now, in our modern American culture, success has accrued, I think, in large measure to the nerds.

JORDAN (on camera): Another noted American hero expert is the late Joseph Campbell, who wrote this book, "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." Like Professor Dundes, he believes in a hero pattern, but focuses more on a hero's call to adventure, an initial refusal of that call, and an inevitable journey, complete with a prodigal return.

(voice-over): With so many hero definitions and models, one might wonder, why do we need them? The answer, says Professor Dundes, lies in why Americans were disappointed when Russia didn't come to the Olympics in 1984. Who would be No. 1? How can you have a hero without a battle and a victor? These questions, he says, point to a very human need.

DUNDES: Groups need these heroes. They need these heroes for their own sense of identity. We are somebody, we are important, we are valuable because look who is one of us. Whether he's an Armenian or a Jew or a Catholic or an African-American, whatever he is, he's one of us, he's one of us, he is my hero, or she's my heroine. So people need these because it's for their own self-worth.


BAKHTIAR: That does it for us here on NEWSROOM. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye.



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