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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 5, 2001

Aired January 5, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It's Friday, January the 5th, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome, everybody. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Glad you're rounding out the week with us. Here's what's ahead.

HAYNES: In today's news, Californians get slammed by skyrocketing energy prices. We'll tell you who else will be taking the economic hit.

BAKHTIAR: Next, in "Editor's Desk," that Kodak moment may not last forever. Why memories caught on tape could dim sooner than you think.

HAYNES: Then, in "Worldview," from "Green Eggs and Ham" to "Sam I Am," we'll flip open the book on Dr. Seuss.

BAKHTIAR: Finally, in "Chronicle," what it means to be president and CEO of your own company at the tender age of 12.

HAYNES: A power crisis on the United States West Coast. Regulators voted unanimously Thursday to allow California's two major power companies to raise rates temporarily. The companies say they need the rate hike to stay afloat in a deregulated market. Consumer advocates are crying foul.

California businesses and residents can expect to pay more to keep the lights on and to stay warm this winter. Regulators approved a temporary electricity rate hike that will increase the average homeowner's bill 9 percent, or about $5. Small businesses will see a 7 percent increase.

The move follows complaints from two power companies that a deregulated market has brought them financial troubles. Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Edison Company wanted regulators to increase rates 30 percent. The companies say without such a dramatic increase, they'll face financial ruin. Regulators denied their request, but did approve a 1 cent per kilowatt-hour surcharge for the next 90 days; 24 million people will be affected.

Some officials and consumer advocates are blasting the rate hike, saying there's no basis for it and consumers shouldn't have to bail the power companies out of financial problems.


STEVEN STOFT, UNIV. CALIFORNIA ENERGY INST.: This is due to flaws in the structure of the California market. These prices are not what a competitive market would produce, and they are unjust and unfair to rate payers.


BAKHTIAR: California's economy is important to the entire United States, and the price hike there will likely cause ripple effects felt across the nation.

Greg LaMotte has that story.


GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you haven't been paying attention to California's energy crisis, you'd better. You may soon be paying more for clothes, food, even flowers, just to name a few. Energy sensitive businesses in California are getting hammered by skyrocketing energy prices, and somewhere along the line you know who's going to pay.

JACK KYSER, ECONOMIST: If California catches a cold, definitely the rest of the United States is going to sneeze.

LAMOTTE: Utility bills have tripled to $600,000 a month at this Los Angeles textile dyeing plant. The clothes produced from the fabric here could wind up in your closet.

BARRAM FARMANARA, CEO, TISSURAMA DYE: I don't think any dye houses with the competition of the goods coming from overseas be able to absorb this increase in prices.

LAMOTTE: Do you like dairy products? California is the largest dairy-producing state in the nation and second only to Wisconsin in cheese production. It is a highly energy-intensive industry. That's why you may see cheese prices start to climb.

LARRY JENSEN, LAPRINO FOODS: Cheese is a national marketplace, and therefore to the extent that we incur costs in California, we may or may not be able to recover them from the marketplace.

LAMOTTE: California's No. 1 industry is agriculture. Fruits and vegetables grown here are shipped around the country. The price for refrigeration, among other things, is affecting the bottom line.

It's the cost of heating greenhouses that's affecting the folks who help supply the nation's flower shops. Robert Echter's energy bill has doubled to $20,000 a month.

ROBERT ECHTER, FLOWER GROWER: It eliminates our product. We're now running in the red. LAMOTTE: California's huge manufacturing industry, including aerospace, aluminum, and, of course, the state's Silicon Valley, are all taking an economic hit.

JACK STEWART, CALIF. MANUFACTURERS AND TECH. ASSN.: What's happening is that you're seeing companies shut down because they just can't economically operate under those conditions.

LAMOTTE: Kaiser Aluminum in Washington State decided that if you can't beat them, join them. The company sent its employees home with 70 percent pay and is reaping hefty profits selling its electricity rather than using it to make aluminum for far less.

SUSAN ASHE, KAISER ALUMINUM: For this month, I think we stated in our announcement that the proceed would be around $50 million.

LAMOTTE: Just about everyone involved in California's energy crisis seems to agree the deregulation of the state's power industry has so far been an economic disaster. And if potentially higher prices for a whole host of products isn't enough to grab your attention, maybe this will: Half of the states in the nation are in the process of deciding whether to deregulate their utilities.

Greg LaMotte, CNN, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: In 1999, homes used 34.9 percent of U.S. electricity. That's according to the Edison Electric Institute.

And here are some more powerful pieces of information. Did you know a heated waterbed can consume more electricity than an efficient refrigerator? All together, the nation's waterbeds consume the electricity produced by two large power plants. Also, for those of you with fish, aquariums can be huge energy guzzlers. A 180-gallon coral reef tank can use more energy than a residential central heating system and refrigerator combined.

HAYNES: With the focus on energy today, we want to talk about how the next U.S. presidential administration plans to handle some of the most pressing issues. With California dealing with a power crisis and the potential for higher gasoline prices, what type energy policy can we expect out of President-elect George W. Bush?

Tony Clark gives us some insight.


TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Both the president-elect and the vice president-elect are oilmen by profession. Increasing U.S. energy production is something they believe in strongly, including the controversial opening to drilling of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT: You bet I want to open up a small part of -- a part of Alaska, because when that field is online, it will produce a million barrels a day.

CLARK: So when George W. Bush tapped former Sen. Spencer Abraham to be his secretary of energy, he picked an ally in that battle.

SPENCER ABRAHAM, ENERGY SECRETARY NOMINEE: We have vast resources within the United States, and these are crucial to our country's security.

CLARK: Last year, Abraham tried unsuccessfully to get the protected Alaskan coastline opened up.

SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Spence is a realist, and realism dictates that we need to generate more energy here in the United States.

CLARK: Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski says Abraham will be a secretary of energy who is action-oriented. Ironically, the action Abraham called for in the past was for the Energy Department to be abolished altogether, describing it as wasteful and having no core mission.


SEN. SPENCER ABRAHAM (R), MICHIGAN: It is incumbent upon us, who campaign on the notion that we can reduce the size of government, that we should reduce the size of government, to attack these problems in the kind of constructive way I believe we can.


CLARK: Abraham held that view as recently as last year.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: It shows that President-elect Bush is willing to put people in the Cabinet who don't hold his views in their entirety. You never can fill your Cabinet with people who are 100 percent of you.

CLARK: Now, some environmentalists worry about the direction Abraham will take the Energy Department. They point to his fight against tougher fuel efficiency standards, and his stance on environmental issues. In his November reelection bid, Abraham was the Sierra Club's No. 1 target.


NARRATOR: Great Lakes pollution is closing our beaches, poisoning our fish and threatening our drinking water. But instead of helping, Sen. Spencer Abraham has voted against clean water and the Great Lakes.


CLARK (on camera): The Sierra Club gave Abraham its lowest rating on environmental issues. According to one Sierra Club director, Abraham led the fight for more gas-guzzling SUVs and to find the oil to keep them running. The group's concern is that Abraham's position could become U.S. energy policy.

Tony Clark, CNN, Austin.


BAKHTIAR: As the first confirmation hearings for George W. Bush's Cabinet began in Washington Thursday, the president-elect wasted no time in appointing two of his top ranking White House officials. Bush Campaign Manager Joe Allbaugh will head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, which provides emergency assistance after disasters like floods or earthquakes. Karl Rove, Bush's campaign strategist, will be a senior adviser and assistant to the president.

U.S. Commerce Secretary nominee Donald Evans found friends and a warm welcome at the opening day of confirmation hearings. Evans is first to run the gauntlet for approval to the Bush Cabinet. Early signals: It'll be smooth sailing for the Texas oilman who served as President-elect Bush's campaign chairman.

Here's a sample of Thursday's hearings.


SEN. PHIL GRAHAM (R), TEXAS: Don is what we would call in Texas a top hand. He's the kind of guy you want on your side. You can ask our new president about having Don Evans on your side. And I think the happy condition we're in today is finding ourselves where, through our action in the Senate, we can put Don Evans on America's side.

DONALD EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I'm not one that's confused at all about service and public trust. And that's something that every decision I made will go through that screen. It will go through a screen of, is this decision being made in the best interest of the American people and the best long-term interest of America and for the general well-being of this country?

Trade must never be a one-way street. We must ensure our workers in business, small and large, rural and urban, are protected against unfair trade competition while gaining the great benefits of larger global markets.


HAYNES: Well, you know the old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words." But if you're not careful, you could lose your memories.

Ann Kellan explains in today's "Editor's Desk."


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kajal Mehta graduates from college. Dad and mom are there, and, as always, the camera is rolling, as it's been for all the big events in their daughter's life. GEETA MEHTA, MOTHER: My very best memory is her fourth birthday. And that was just so cute. She was even singing and everything.

KELLAN: But how long do you think these home videos and these digital recordings will last?


KELLAN (on camera): Forever?

Not true. Most tapes and recording devices have a shorter lifespan than you think.

(voice-over): Manufacturers will guarantee videotapes for 20 years at the most. Ironically, old-fashioned black-and-white films can last 400 years if well-processed and properly stored; color film at least 50.

All films are threatened by a common enemy: heat. If not kept cool and dry, films can fade, and their celluloid base can begin to revert back to one of its original chemical components: vinegar.

ALAN LEWIS, NATIONAL ARCHIVES: So if folks have home movies, for example, and they walk into the hall closet and up on the shelf where they've been keeping those home movies since the 1960s, and they smell something that's like salad dressing, what they're smelling is the film beginning to deteriorate.

KELLAN: To keep home movies alive longer, store them in an air- tight bags in the freezer. Remember, heat is bad. And as they get old, like these 8mm films, you may want to transfer those memories to video.

Store your videotapes vertically like books on a shelf, because if you store them horizontally the edges on the tape can warp. And make sure you recopy them every 10 years, updating the format so you'll always have a machine to play them back on. Remember Betamax, a form that lived and died in the '80s? Good luck finding a machine to play back those videos.

Since you have to keep moving your memories to new formats to save them, it's best to focus on those key moments. Don't shoot too much, and edit as you go. Or just rely on an old trick that's easy as black and white -- photographs, that is. Chances are, these images will outlive you.

Ann Kellan, CNN.


HAYNES: Time for some fun in "Worldview" as we crisscross the globe on all kinds of adventures today. We'll find out about a project that tracks cultures around the world, and it's right at your fingertips, right on the computer. Plus, we'll do some wool-gathering as we hear about a project in Italy where you can adopt a sheep, believe it or not. And we'll go behind the scenes of a new musical that celebrates an author you may have grown up with.

BAKHTIAR: Maybe you saw the movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" over the holidays. It's become a Christmas classic. But do you know who wrote it? Well, the book was written in 1957 by Dr. Seuss, a pen name of American writer Theodore Seuss Geisel. He lived from 1904 to 1991 and is best known for his humorous books for children, including "The Cat in the Hat" and "Hop on Pop." He created fantastic characters and even invented words. He's the guy who came up with the word nerd. Can you think of other words he coined?

With more on Dr. Seuss, here's Cynthia Tornquist.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: "Tuesday when mother was out, I realized something worth talking about."

AUDREY GEISEL, AUTHOR'S WIDOW: Children. You think, oh, he just loved the little darlings. Not at all. One child at a time for a specific amount of time.

CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But children loved Theodore Geisel, author of the Dr. Seuss books. Now everyone can see his work interpreted on Broadway in "Seussical: The Musical."

LYNN AHERNS, BOOK & LYRICS: The entire thing is our interpretation, what we found in the Seuss books: the story of Horton and the jungle and the Whos on their little tiny speck of dust. All of those seemed to be wonderful jumping off points for us to write a new musical.

TORNQUIST: The show borrows from 20 different Seuss characters, including "The Cat in the Hat."

DAVID SHINER, "THE CAT IN THE HAT": I can't sing. I never sang a note in my life. And so I went into the audition not really caring because I knew I was not going to get they role anyways. And they asked me to do it and I was just floored. I thought," oh, this is great."

TORNQUIST (on camera): When you think Dr. Seuss, the first thing that comes to mind is children. But the creators of "Seussical" have written a show that's really aimed at adults.

AHERNS In those little thin volumes when you read them as an adult, you realize that they're about war, nuclear war, the environment. They're profound, they're uproariously funny, they're satirical, they're cynical, they're so multilayered. And I got very excited about the possibility.

TORNQUIST (voice-over): But the trip to Whoville seemed impossible after critics panned the show during its Boston tryout. The producers brought in new sets and costumes and replaced the director. Despite the problems, Audrey Geisel says her husband would have approved of a musical version of his work.

GEISEL: He would have been thrilled. And I say that absolutely.

Cynthia Tornquist, CNN Entertainment News, New York.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: We turn now to the wild kingdom to explore sheep, animals which have long provided food and clothing for people. You probably have a warm wool sweater made from a sheep's fleecy fur. Can you think of other products sheep give us? Sheep are raised all around the world. In New Zealand, there are about 20 sheep for every person. Female sheep are called ewes and males are called rams. And baby sheep are, of course, lambs.

Our story today takes us to Italy, where entrepreneurs have found a new way to market sheep.

Gayle Young has this tale.


GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometimes it's difficult to stand out from the herd, but the owner of this Abruzzi flock is putting individual sheep up for adoption. For example, sponsors are wanted for these ovine equivalents of gawky teenagers.

MANUELA COZZI, SHEPHERD (through translator): If someone wants to adopt a sheep, they can choose one through a picture and we assign a document like a passport or a license plate number. Then they can pick a name.

YOUNG: What started as a marketing ploy has become a sensation in Italy, which is concerned that it's agricultural heritage is in danger of disappearing. For a yearly stipend of about $150, the so- called adopter gets the sheep's products, five kilos of goat cheese and another three kilos of fresh ricotta; also three bags of wool, or, as an alternative, two pairs of already knitted wool socks; and, finally, three bags of manure, special delivery.

The Italian agriculture minister figuratively embraced this scheme when he adopted this sheep named Medina, embraced literally by a worker.

ALFONSO PECARARO-SCANIO, MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE: This idea came from the new generation of farmers who have an education. They know how to use modern technology like the Internet and are using it to revive the great tradition of Italian agriculture.

YOUNG: Shepherds say a treasured, traditional way of Italian life is being threatened because, for decades, young people from rural areas have been flocking to the cities. Agriculturists say the Adopt- a-Sheep program may be a way to provide a direct link between Italian city dwellers and the fragile agricultural heritage left behind.

COZZI (through translator): We are happy when people come here to see their sheep. They can walk the sheep up the mountain. It's free exercise. YOUNG: Other shepherds in the Abruzzi region, amazed by the fortune at the end of this rainbow, are starting to offer up their sheep for adoption as well. So for every Italian city dweller herded into urban life, there may be a rural counterpart.

Gayle Young, CNN, Abruzzi, Italy.


HAYNES: Have you ever thought about what it would be like to speak lots of languages? Do you know there are some countries where elephants walk along traffic on the side of the road? Well, these are just some of the questions that were part of the Planet Project, said to be the largest poll ever conducted on the Internet. People from 231 countries representing eight different languages answered questions on what it's like to be a human being at the beginning of the millennium. And to make sure people who don't have computers were also involved, pollsters armed with laptops went to remote parts of the world to get some answers.

Hugh Williams has the story on a project designed to track cultures around the world.


HUGH WILLIAMS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Would you switch your race if you couldn't change it back? Would you consent to an organ transplant from an animal? What do you think happens to you when you die? Not the sort of questions you'd find on an ordinary poll, because the Planet Project is far from ordinary. It's being billed by organizers as the world's largest interactive assessment of the human condition, powered by the Internet.

The global survey offered in eight languages is designed to provide a sort of digital looking glass into the hopes, fears, dreams and beliefs of the human race. organizers say it's a new way of utilizing the Internet. They say it takes the enormous scope of the responses and matches them with instantaneous reporting of the results.

MICHELLE KINNA, 3COM ASIA, PACIFIC MARKETING DIRECTOR: We're not expecting this to be highly scientific and perfectly accurate representation, but we're doing our best to get as wide a cross section as we possibly can of the community.

WILLIAMS: To get that cross section, project volunteers here in Australia fan out with handheld devices, asking even those who might not have access to the Internet to participate. Cyber cafes have donated time on their computers for people to join in and add their views. And even schools have been set up as community polling stations where both students and citizens are encouraged to participate.

But what it is all for?

JIM ALEXANDER, MARKET RESEARCH DIRECTOR, AMR: I guess it's a time for temperature taking, it's a time for dip-sticking, it's a time for taking stock, having something of an audit, and having a bit of a look at things. So it's quite a neat way of getting something very broad. Certainly nothing this broad's been done before.

WILLIAMS: But is the poll broad enough? Millions around the world have no access to the Internet at all. But by bringing the survey to people in remote areas, those conducting the Planet Project say they are doing their part to close the digital divide.

Hugh Williams, CNN, Sydney.


BAKHTIAR: Next month, the Canadian prime minister and a team from the Canadian Trade Mission will go to Hong Kong, China, in hopes of enhancing business opportunities. One of the members of that trade mission team will be the president and CEO of Cyberteks Design. Nothing unusual about that, right? Well, he is 12-year-old Keith Peiris. Yes, I did say 12.

Jennifer Palisco has the story.


KEITH PEIRIS, PRESIDENT & CEO, CYBERTEKS DESIGN: When I was really little, I always wanted to be a pilot. That formed into a race car driver. Then that kind of stopped and I really had almost no dream until this arose. And now my dream is to continue with this company and grow it.

JENNIFER PALISCO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And while some kids continue to dream of what they want to be when they grow up, Keith has grown into the role of president and CEO of his own company: Cyberteks Design.

(on camera): Since it's birth two years ago, Keith's company has won awards, has clients throughout North America and has been voted one of the top 50 Web design firms in all of Canada.

(voice-over): In February, he'll be joining the prime minister in China on the Team Canada trade mission to Hong Kong. All this acclaim and all before his 13th birthday.

K. PEIRIS: Well, I'm going to be doing what the other 300 businessmen are pretty much doing: trying to close deals and help Canada's economy, and hopefully generate some revenue for ourselves.

PALISCO (on camera): Are you looking forward to the trip?

K. PEIRIS: Oh, yes, I'm looking very forward to it: to meet 300 Fortune 500 businessmen, to meet the prime minister, of course, and the 10 premieres. It's going to be a great honor to be a part of it.

DEEPAT PEIRIS, FATHER: This company will get bigger and bigger and bigger every day, and that's why I'm there to help him in whatever way I can. K. PEIRIS: Well, I'm really not in this right now for the business sense. I love doing it. I don't consider it work, I consider it fun.


HAYNES: Man, they're starting young these days.

The Internet is becoming more and more prominent in our lives these days. We get information online, we buy things online, we even communicate online. And now it seems the information superhighway is taking on a romantic twist.

From Tokyo, Marina Kamimura looks at love online.


MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Tired of being rejected for making all the wrong moves? One Japanese company says it can teach you all the right moves to win over the woman of your dreams. For $3 a month, a Web site for mobile users called Love By Mail promises to hone your wooing skills.

Although she's not even real, you never get to see or meet Lily the nursing student or Jin Jin (ph) the DJ. that hasn't stopped 30,000 Japanese from testing their dating prowess on one of Bandai's seven virtual girlfriends.

MAKOTO ASANUMA, BANDAI (through translator): We always get phone calls and e-mails from subscribers saying that they have to meet the girls. Of course they do not exist, but we are flattered that they think the girls are real.

KAMIMURA: It's all part of a rush to cash in on romance as the Net, wireless or conventional, plays a bigger role in Japanese lives. In this ad for a mobile that takes digital snapshots, J-Phone tries to convince people that deciding whether to show up for a date is also a snap -- if you own a mobile with a built-in camera, that is!

Izumi Mochizuki says she decided to try her luck at Internet dating after watching a celebrity find a boyfriend online. Now this 23-year-old college senior sports a ring from a man she met in person only after courtship over the Net.

IZUMI MOCHIZUKI, INTERNET USER (through translator): Some people might think this is a strange way to meet people. I still feel that way. But I think it's becoming more common.

KAMIMURA (on camera): But just like the real thing, love online is not always fair or easy. On Love by Mail, for instance, satisfaction is not guaranteed. If your romancing is not up to par, your virtual love will reject you.

(voice-over): And on the female version of the site, unlike the men, they're allowed to have up to three relationships at the same time. The maker says that's a reflection of reality. Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.


BAKHTIAR: That's all we have time for today on CNN NEWSROOM.

HAYNES: Have a good and safe weekend, everybody.




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