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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 11, 2001

Aired January 11, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Hi, I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Thanks for joining us for a science-filled Thursday NEWSROOM. Here's what's coming up.

Education is the focus as U.S. President-elect Bush continues to round out his administration.

From politics to science, NEWSROOM's "Daily Desk" is bound for the Red Planet.

Then it's back on Earth where "Worldview" takes us inside the world of mummies.

And we get cute in "Chronicle" as we present a panda premiere.

United States President-elect George W. Bush is defending John Ashcroft's nomination for attorney general. Now that Bush's pick for labor secretary has withdrawn her nomination, Ashcroft appears to be the next under attack.

U.S. President-elect George W. Bush faces more Cabinet chores. On the top of his to-do list is to chose a new candidate for labor secretary. His first choice, Linda Chavez, bowed out Tuesday after news broke that she housed an illegal immigrant 10 years ago. Some say her withdrawal may wrongfully encourage more attacks on Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft, whose views, some Democrats say, are too conservative.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: This morning the newspapers reported that somebody said that this is spring training. The fight against Linda Chavez was spring training so they can carry on the fight during what I would presume they think is the real season on other candidates. That's the part of the tone of Washington that needs to be changed.


BAKHTIAR: Meanwhile, former Houston school chief Rod Paige is set to become education secretary. Paige answered questions from senators Wednesday at his confirmation hearing.

The confirmation hearing for U.S. Education Secretary nominee Rod Paige went smoothly in comparison to the shakeups the Ashcroft and Chavez nominations have caused.

Jonathan Karl has details.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Rod Paige, it looked more like a bipartisan lovefest than a confirmation hearing, although Sen. Ted Kennedy tried to pin him down on one hot-button issue.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Do you feel that the taxpayer dollars should be spent on improving public schools or will you make private school vouchers a priority?

ROD PAIGE, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: Well, not a priority, Senator. Allow me to comment on this, because there's been much discussion about...

KENNEDY: I'll take your first answer.

KARL: During his campaign, George W. Bush proposed giving low- income students in failing schools public funds to attend private school. The Bush team says it is not abandoning this idea, pointing out it is not a full-fledged national voucher program.

FLEISCHER: The president's proposal is for those schools that have failed for three years in a row; schools that receive Title I funding that failed for three years in a row that we would provide parents with alternative choices.

KARL: Democrats like Kennedy have opposed any voucher program, limited or not. Paige implored the senators to have an open mind when it comes to education reform.

PAIGE: And it is not where that I'm coming to this body with any particular entrenchment as far as ideology is concerned. What I'd like to find out is what works. Show me the results and I'd have some interest in trying it.

KARL: Throughout the four-hour hearing, Democrats, including liberal Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who joined Paige at the witness table, couldn't say enough good things about Bush's choice.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I am proud to endorse Dr. Paige to be secretary of education in the nonpartisan and bipartisan manner in which I believe he was nominated.

KARL (on camera): Conservatives are also praisingly the Paige nomination, and, by and large, not expressing concern about his statement that vouchers would not be a priority. These conservatives point out that vouchers are an option most effectively pursued at the local rather than national level.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BAKHTIAR: President-elect Bush's decision to nominate Rod Paige as education secretary has reassured many Democrats on a key issue. Paige has earned a reputation for his educational accomplishments.

Tony Clark has more on the man Bush wants to lead his fight for better schools.


TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Rod Paige, President-elect Bush found a kindred spirit who believes education should be controlled at the local level.

HUGH HAYES, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY: I would look for him to try to eliminate a lot of the red tape in the federal education program and give more flexibility to states and local districts.

CLARK: That's the approach he's taken in Houston, the nation's seventh largest school district, where minority students are in the majority. As an architect of the 1990 Houston School District's "Declaration of Beliefs and Visions," Paige called for giving decision-making authority to school principals and mandated that they attend a 10-day management class to help them make decisions.

PAIGE: I'm setting the skills that you have to have in order to get into this profession.

CLARK: Paige set student achievement standards, stopped social promotions and ended most student exemptions from state-mandated tests.

PAIGE: I don't buy the idea that just because these kids are from low-income or impoverished situations that they can't learn. They can learn, and we accept the responsibility for them learning.

CLARK: Principals and their schools are evaluated each year on how well they educate their students. Students attending a school rated as low-performing are allowed to transfer to another school of their choice in a version of a voucher program created under Paige. The result, during the last five years the number of students passing the state achievement test in Paige's district has risen 36 percent.

HAYES: What Dr. Paige is looking for is what works.

CLARK: Critics argue that test scores may be rising because teachers are teaching the test. Texas educators counter they're teaching the test objectives.

HAYES: If the objectives represent the curriculum and this is what children ought to learn, then certainly that's what we ought to be teaching. CLARK: While Paige has been a strong supporter of Mr. Bush, he has also been a critic, a year and a half ago telling Congress that school facilities were deteriorating and the state had done little to help rebuild them.

(on camera): At the time, Paige urged Congress to make a massive federal investment in school facilities. If confirmed by the Senate, he might be able to convince lawmakers to do it.

Tony Clark, CNN, Austin.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

BAKHTIAR: In "Science Desk," we head out of this world to Mars. Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It orbits the sun once in 687 Earth days, and spins on its axis once every 24 hours and 37 minutes. Because it's Earth's neighboring planet, it's long been the subject of much interest, especially by scientists asking the eternal question, was there ever life on Mars?

Natalie Pawelski has the latest on our quest to learn more about the Red Planet.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is dusty and rocky now, but was Mars once a land of lakes? That's a distinct possibility, say scientists who are studying new closeup images of the Red Planet. They say ancient, sedimentary rock formations on the surface likely formed when water pooled in basins, craters and chasms on the Martian landscape.

DR. MICHAEL MALIN, MALIN SPACE SCIENCE SYSTEMS: So you'd have lots of lakes that were filled, maybe a few areas that were so wet and there was -- the area was so low that you could have these integrated into small seas.

DR. KEN EDGETT: Now, what would the rest of the planet be like? Was it raining? Don't know. Was it snowing? Don't know. You know, these things aren't -- the answers are probably there in the layers of rock themselves.

PAWELSKI: The scientists say the layered rocks are a lot like the Grand Canyon here on Earth, and that these regions on Mars would be a good place to look for fossils, if indeed any life forms existed on Mars when the rocks formed billions of years ago.

MALIN: If there ever was life that evolved on Mars, then based on our experience with the evolution of terrestrial life, these are exactly the types of places you would go look to find the remnants or the record of that life preserved.

PAWELSKI: The images were taken using NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, currently in orbit around the planet.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: Science and culture take center state in "Worldview." We'll visit the United States, where an Italian neighborhood is making the cinema a community event. We'll look back at a popular film festival. And we'll look way back at archaeological remains from ancient Egypt. Find out how technology is helping to unwrap the secrets of the mummies.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Researchers are getting a new look at one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. Three-thousand years B.C., Egyptian culture was flourishing. That's 5,000 years ago. Those ancient Egyptians were so obsessed with the afterlife, they tried to preserve their bodies forever. After people died, embalmers would remove their internal organs, place the body in a special solution and wrap them in many layers of linen. They were put in coffins with everyday objects, as well as riches, because people believed they would need those things in the next life.

Today, many of those mummies are still around. Problem is most of them are extremely delicate and fragile. But researchers in Atlanta have found a unique way to study these ancient treasures without damaging them.

Marsha Walton has the story.


MARSHA WALTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over centuries, many instruments have been used to study Egyptian relics.

DR. HEIDI HOFFMAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: So we're going go from the head to the middle part of the body.

WALTON: You might call this the king of mummy research tools. Radiologists at Emory University Hospital scanned nine mummies owned by the school's Michael Carlos Museum.

HOFFMAN: This is an image we've generated now. This is an example of the first three dimensional reconstruction of a mummy on CT in 1988. You can get a sense for how far we've come and how incredible our technology is.

WALTON: With computer tomography, or CT scans, doctors found a skull fracture on one child, a cleft palate. And in one adult male mummy...

HOFFMAN: The temporal bone, which is the bone around the right ear of that mummy, was destroyed and irregular. That suggests an inflammatory disease around the ear bone.

WALTON: This virtual fly-through gives another perspective. Starting from the pelvis and moving up toward the rib cage, it even shows rolls of linen that embalmers used to replace the internal organs.

(on camera): While scientists have learned a great deal about ancient Egyptian life from the results of those CT scans, they could uncover even more secrets when DNA tests are conducted on some of the human remains.

DNA comparisons with mummies in the Cairo Museum could determine if the mummy with the bad ear has royal bones; perhaps those of King Ramses I.

BETSEY TEASLEY TROPE, MICHAEL C. CARLOS MUSEUM: The son and grandson of Ramses I are both -- both of their mummies are in the Cairo Museum and they both have very distinctive faces, especially the nose. And this mummy, quite simply, resembles them.

WALTON: For some of the scientists, these quiet patients were more than just relics.

HOFFMAN: Every time I walked in and saw them handling the mummy, I felt privileged to be working with these individuals that were 3,000 years old.

WALTON: Marsha Walton, CNN, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: Next stop, Baltimore, Maryland. You could rent most of the films in the city's Open Air Film Festival if you wanted to, but it's not necessarily the selection of Italian films that draws thousands to the streets of the city's Little Italy enclave. The free admission, the free popcorn and the free soft drinks probably aren't the main attraction either. The success of the screenings has astonished the small community, which, like other turn-of-the-century ghettos, has dwindled to include entrenched empty-nesters and a few good restaurants.

CNN photographer Tim Wall (ph) reveals that sometimes all a renaissance needs is the warmth of an old neighborhood, an empty parking lot and a room with a view to create a cinema paradise.


JOHN PENTE: My name is John Pente. This is what they call Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland, and one of the nicest neighborhoods you can think of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Week 15 of the Second Annual Little Italy Open Air Film Festival. Tonight we are proud to present a delightful Academy Award winning film from 1953, "Roman Holiday."

PENTE: Everybody likes their favorite spot. They all want a favorite spot. Some don't want to be near the pool and some like to be on the outside where the visibility is great.

MARY ANN CRICCHIO: Father, I'm no where near 86 and I could never remember all that.

My name is Mary Ann Cricchio, and the first night we didn't publicize it at all, we just had a few neighbors come out, so we had 130 people. And then by the end of the twelve-week run, for our ending film, we had over 4,000 people.

PENTE: She's the one who really started it, because she went to Sicily and she knows the area and she has seen it over there. And we're having a ball. It's real nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And last on tonight's list of thank yous, but certainly not least, a heartfelt thank from all of us who enjoy these unique al fresco film presentations to Mr. John Pente, the beloved mayor of Little Italy, for once again so graciously allowing to convert Mr. John's third floor room with a view into a fully equipped professional 16 millimeter film projection booth for 18 weeks. So thanks again, Mr. John. We could not do it without you.

CRICCHIO: His daughter has told me that she thinks it has put a few more years on his life and he really looks forward to it.

TOM KIEFABER, SENATOR THEATRE: I hear remarks all the time that now you see the generations all back here. Essentially, this had become more of a restaurant district and a lot of the schools have closed and these younger families have moved out to the suburbs. And now they all come together on Friday evening and they bring their kids with them and it's sort of like a weekly family reunion here in Little Italy.

CRICCHIO: They like to have this piazza feeling where they meet in the evenings, and it ended up on the front page of the "New York Times." And once it was on the front page of the "New York Times," it just -- it took off. We've had Brazil, Italy, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Germany. We've been dubbed in every language and it's very exciting for us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finito, it's perfect. You be nice without long hair. Now it's cool, huh?


PENTE: We have one restaurant, which is Vaccaro's, and they have all of those Italian cookies and stuff, and you have to have something to eat to go with the show, whether you bring a bottle or something to eat or an ice-cream cone.




CRICCHIO: What's missing from American lives are that people do not socialize with other people anymore. You know, you can rent the movies, you can stay in your house and you can watch them alone.


HEPBURN: What would they say if they knew I'd spent the night in your room?

GREGORY PECK, ACTOR: Well, I tell you what. You don't tell your folks and I wont tell mine.


CRICCHIO: But when you look up at that window and for the very first time you see that ray of light come out and the image go up on the movie screen, it's so hard for me to explain to you in words how it makes you feel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get 'em again, Smitty!


PENTE: This is the greatest thing that could have happened in our neighborhood in Little Italy. We had the nicest neighborhood here and we want to keep it nice. And it's making a lot of people happy. And it's good for the neighborhood. We love every bit of it.


HEPBURN: I have to leave you now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for coming to this evening's presentation of "Roman Holiday."


BAKHTIAR: The first fighting force in the United States was called the Continental Army. It was organized June 14, 1775 to supplement local militia forces in the fight for independence against Great Britain. Back then, as it is now, the Army remained in civilian control. It eventually evolved into what's now -- as the slogan goes -- the "be all you can be" United States Army.

But as Carl Rochelle tells us, changes in the way the Army attracts new recruits are on the way. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You know there's so much more to you.


CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the most familiar ads ever.


ANNOUNCER: In the Army, we do more before 9:00 a.m. than most people do all day.

CHOIR: Be all that you can be...


ROCHELLE: "Advertising Age" ranked the campaign as second best of the century, but it's 20 years old and the Army says it's time for a change.

LOUIS CALDERA, ARMY SECRETARY: It's dated. It's tired. Young people aren't responding to it. It doesn't tell them how does this benefit me as an individual. And, frankly, it's focused at the wrong segment -- those who are least interested in military service.

ROCHELLE: The Army is betting its $150 million ad budget and its recruiting goals on this new slogan, "an army of one."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an army of one, even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers just like me.


ROCHELLE: Another approach focuses on technology and training.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 212 ways to be a soldier. Find out how it feels to be an army of one, at


ROCHELLE: The target, 18-24-year-olds.

CALDERA: We want to motivate them to go to the Web site and explore Army opportunities.

ROCHELLE: Will it work? An advertising executive says the old slogan did. JERRY DELLA FEMINA, ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE: It's a terrible mistake to get rid of it. I don't understand why they're doing it. I mean, you can count the great slogans on one hand, and this is one of the great slogans.

ROCHELLE: The new Army ad campaign opens Thursday on network television with follow-ups in radio, print, even on the Internet. But, don't look for the new Army commercial during the Super Bowl.

CALDERA: Super Bowl's not the right place to buy. You're paying a tremendous premium to reach all sorts of people who are too old to serve in the Army.

ROCHELLE (on camera): Army officials say they did reach their recruiting goals last year with the old commercials. But, the change in slogans is designed to ensure that they continue to reach their goals in the future.

Carl Rochelle, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: I'm Tom Haynes aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Coming up next week, the incredible story of how I made it out to this gigantic floating city. Plus, we'll meet some of the young men and women who chose a life in the armed forces as we begin my series, "To Serve a Nation."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you learn here and all the experiences you get from whether, you know, being on the ship, being out in foreign ports, all the stuff you learn, all this new stuff you see, you're going to take in, it's going to make you a better person in the long run.


BAKHTIAR: Washington turned its attention Wednesday from the incoming president to two newcomers. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the capital's new pair of giant pandas, made their public debut to the delight of more than 3,000 zoo visitors.

We have two reports. Bruce Morton ponders the pandas' place in political and international history, while Patty Davis introduces us to the cuddly pair.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've been kept under wraps since arriving a month ago. The 2 1/2-year-old female, Mei Xiang, and 3 1/2-year-old male, Tian Tian, are the newest additions to Washington's National Zoo, one of just three zoos in the United States with pandas.

LAURIE PERRY, ZOOKEEPER, NATIONAL ZOO: The male, Tian, is very laid back. He loves to play. He often initiates the play. And Mei Xiang, she's our little princess. She's very vocal about what she wants and what she doesn't want.

DAVIS: The National Zoo has experienced panda mania before. A gift from China, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were huge draws. Both died in the 1990s, never having produced a cub that lived more than a few days.

This time, the giant pandas come with an equally giant price tag. They're on loan from China for the next 10 years at a cost of a million dollars a year. That money will go towards preserving wild pandas in China.

LAWRENCE SMALL, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION: Pandas are an endangered species. It takes money to do the research to preserve them, and this is money that's going to that, and I'm glad it's going to that.

DAVIS: Lucky for the zoo, though, the bamboo the pandas eat is donated from a nearby Maryland farm. Zookeepers say Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have voracious appetites.

PERRY: They eat a lot of bamboo.

DAVIS (on camera): How much is a lot?

PERRY: About 40 pounds a day.

DAVIS (voice-over): Zoo officials predict the pandas romping in their newly refurbished habitat will lure thousands of new visitors. And there's no shortage of panda souvenirs to satisfy any panda lover.

Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning. Wow, this is exciting.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She means, of course, the public unveiling of the National Zoo's new pair of pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. They are gangbusters cute. Pandas are. Big crowds want to see them.

Still, it's not like last time; 1972, after a U.S. ping pong team broke the ice, after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon went to China, the first American president since the communists came to power after World War II, met Mao Tse-Tung and Chou En-Lai, saw the Great Wall, and, Nixon intoned: "It is a great wall" -- saw pandas.

And then Chou En-Lai gave the U.S. two of the rare animals, a symbol of the new relationship between the countries and all that. President Nixon decided Washington's National Zoo should have them. These old black-and-white photos show Mrs. Nixon visiting them. Throngs visited, in fact, until the last of the pair was euthanized in 1999.

And now a new pair: President Clinton has visited them, the fifth president since Nixon and that long-ago exchange.

And now George Bush is about to become the sixth. He sees the Chinese as strategic competitors instead of strategic partners. But that won't make much difference to the pandas. Bamboo by any other name would taste as sweet.

Other things have changed. Pandas are breeding more in captivity. Births are up in China. The San Diego Zoo's female had a cub in 1999. Washington's new pair are too young yet, but they certainly seem to like each other, if wrestling is any sign.

One footnote: Back in 1972, when China sent the U.S. pandas, the U.S. sent China two musk oxen. They died and the U.S. sent a second pair; no $10 million fee, either. On the other hand, pandas are much cuter, don't you think?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: On behalf of all oxen, I object to that statement, Bruce.

And that does it for us tonight. We'll see you tomorrow. Bye.



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