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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 18, 2001

Aired January 18, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: It's Thursday and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Glad you're here. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We have lots lined up for you today. Here's a look at the rundown.

In today's news, the transfer of power. U.S. President-elect Bush heads to Washington for his inauguration.

Then, in "Science Desk," striving for independence. We'll check out a high-tech house for special residents.

And from building homes to building a business, "Worldview" checks out the lucrative world of karaoke in the Philippines.

Finally, in "Chronicle," the Clinton legacy. We'll have a paint- by-numbers account of his years in office.

United States President-elect George W. Bush and his wife Laura head to Washington, while on Capitol Hill confirmation hearings are under way for his Cabinet. Senators are asking some of their toughest questions of a former colleague, Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft.

More than 10,000 people turned out Wednesday in Midland, Texas to give President-elect Bush and his wife Laura a heartfelt send-off. The Bushes, joined by daughter Jenna and several friends, left their childhood hometown and headed for Washington, where Bush will be inaugurated Saturday as the United States' 43rd president.

Earlier on Capitol Hill, Democrats grilled Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft. The former Missouri senator is being challenged because of his conservative views on several issues, including gun control and civil rights. Many Democrats are also criticizing Ashcroft for his role two years ago in preventing an African-American Missouri judge from becoming a federal judge.

The atmosphere was more cordial at the confirmation hearings of four other Bush nominees: Paul O'Neill for Treasury secretary, Mel Martinez for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Colin Powell for secretary of state and Christie Whitman for the Environmental Protection Agency. New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman won both Democratic and Republican support Wednesday from senators considering her nomination as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Several other Cabinet nominees also earned high marks from senators.

Jonathan Karl has details.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I'm looking forward to working on behalf of the issues that this committee is concerned with.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In her first committee hearing, New York's junior senator was a studious freshman, one of just two senators who stayed for Christie Todd Whitman's entire confirmation hearing. Clinton seemed eager to show she'd done her homework.

SEN. CLINTON: We suffer from acid rain that comes from two geographic locations: power plants in the Midwest, and then increasingly some power plants in Canada.

KARL: Clinton said she'd vote yes on George W. Bush's choice to run the Environmental Protection Agency. She also offered to bridge ideological and regional divides to work with Ohio Republican George Voinovich on combating acid rain.

SEN. CLINTON: I'd love to take you up to the Adirondacks. I'll come visit some of the plants and we'll see if we can't bring people together around this.

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), OHIO: I look forward to joining in the Voinovich-Clinton or Clinton-Voinovich Bill.

SEN. CLINTON: Voinovich-Clinton. I'm well aware of seniority here.

KARL: Whitman, who's nomination has been cautiously supported by the Sierra Club, drew praise from Democrats with her promise to enforce environmental regulations.

CHRISTIE WHITMAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE: I pledge to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the members of this committee that if confirmed I will do everything that I can as EPA administrator to leave America's environment cleaner than when I found it.

KARL: It was also smooth sailing for other Bush Cabinet nominees: Colin Powell for state, Mel Martinez for Housing and Urban Development, and Paul O'Neill for Treasury, All, like Whitman, drawing praise from Democrats.

O'Neill's hearings prompted a bond market rally when he announced his support for a strong U.S. dollar. O'Neill also said Bush would send a tax cut plan to Congress within six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Democratic leader vowed to support quick votes on all nominations.

SEN, TOM DASCHLE (SD), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: We want to ensure that this president has his day in court and that his nominees get a vote.

KARL (on camera): And Republicans, who will soon be in control of the Senate again, are poised to vote on at least a half-dozen Cabinet nominees within hours of Bush taking the oath of office this Saturday.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BAKHTIAR: In the headlines today, after weeks of warning that California's power crises could plunge parts of the state into darkness, it's finally happened. Wednesday, rolling blackouts began, hitting at the heart of California's economy.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Businesses and residents throughout Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area have been hit by rolling blackouts. California`s power grid operator cut off electricity to millions of customers of Pacific Gas & Electric 500,000 at a time for up to 90 minutes each. Apple Computer facilities were hit; Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard were warned. Customers of Southern California Edison were also alerted that blackouts are likely.

While California businesses activated well-rehearsed backup plans to deal with power outages, grid officials pleaded for conservation.

TERRY WINTER, CEO, CALIF. INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR: Clearly today and between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 tonight, if you could please use as little energy as absolutely necessary, that would greatly help this situation and maybe avert the loss of even more load that we`re now dealing with.

WIAN: While California has narrowly avoided blackouts three times in the past week, sources tell CNN this time the deteriorating financial conditions of PG&E and Southern California Edison took their toll. Both have had their credit ratings downgraded to junk status and are in technical default on nearly $1 1/2 billion of bills, loans and lines of credit. So power producers are refusing to sell to the utilities because they`re afraid they won`t get paid.

STEVE FLEISHMAN, MERRILL LYNCH: I think clearly we`ve got a situation where utilities are on the real risk of going to bankruptcy; that there`s not only real, physical supply problems in getting power into California, but there`s tremendous credit concerns throughout the power markets. No one wants to sell to these companies, no one wants to sell to the exchanges. So it, right now, is just a real mess out there.

WIAN: California Gov. Gray Davis was expected to sign a new law that will allow the state to purchase electricity at reduced rates, but so far he`s been unable to agree with power producers on what the rates should be. Also, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson extended his emergency order requiring out-of-state producers to continue supplying electricity to California.

Casey Wian, CNN Financial News, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: There are many things in life we take for granted. When was the last time you considered how lucky you are to be able to open a door for yourself, or pick up a phone to call a friend? There are many people around us who just don't have that type of independence. But advances in technology are helping some disabled folks become more self-reliant.

Mark Potter has more from the Gizmo House.


MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, it is a normal house in a neighborhood near Fort Lauderdale. But inside, it is so much more. With the touch of a keypad, tables and countertops move up and down, drapes open and shut electronically, radio signals control the doors. This is Gizmo House, a high-tech home for special residents.

The six occupants of Gizmo House suffer from multiple physical and mental disabilities. All are confined to wheelchairs. In the past, they were dependent upon others for almost everything. Now, thanks to innovative architecture, technology and training, they share their own home, make their own choices, and can do as they please.

If Andrea wants a snack, she pushes a computer screen icon and the pantry moves to reveal her selection. If Natoley (ph), who has trouble speaking, wants to say something, he pushes some buttons, and out come his words.

COMPUTER VOICE: How are you?

POTTER: If Linda wishes to telephone a friend, she dials out on a pre-programmed key pad on her wheelchair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opal, this is Linda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you, Linda?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You coming this Saturday?

POTTER: What this means is the residents now enjoy independence and a better quality of life.

JIM MCGUIRE, EXEC. DIR., ANN STORCK CENTER: Most importantly, there's dignity in making choices, acting upon them and achieving things. From that comes self-confidence. So you're no longer a spectator in life, you're an active participant. POTTER: The home was built by the Ann Storck Center, a non- profit group that helps the disabled. Grants and donations covered the $750,000 cost. A local engineer designed the computer and wiring system that make the house run. A full-time staff, paid by Medicaid, assists the residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to do salad? Here's your salad.

POTTER: The walls of the home are lined with an impressive collection of artwork, painted by the residents themselves. The focus is on personal freedom and ability, not disability. The high-tech innovations here help bring that to light.

Mark Potter, CNN, Plantation, Florida.


BAKHTIAR: Culture takes the spotlight in "Worldview." Have you or your friends ever sung karaoke style? We'll hit the high notes of this booming business in the Philippines. More on singing as we head to Russia. And we'll zero in on the world of sports as a leading politician takes to the mats.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We turn to Russia to look at a resurgent interest in judo. Judo is a sport in which a person uses balance, leverage and timing to pin or throw an opponent. It developed from jujitsu, an ancient Japanese method of unarmed combat. The Japanese word "judo" ironically means "the gentle way." Many of the sport's techniques rely on a contestant's yielding to an opponent's attack until the right moment to strike back.

The reason for Russia's new interest in judo is its president, Vladimir Putin. Russia's second president and youngest leader since 1922, Putin took office in March 2000 after Boris Yeltsin resigned. His experience includes a post in the Kremlin and serving as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and prime minister of Russia. Putin's preelection days also involved foreign intelligence for the notorious KGB and vigorous pursuit of excellence in judo, an effort that earned him a black belt. That belt is now becoming an inspiration for Russia's next generation.

Jill Dougherty explains.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The boys at the Moscow sports school Shabolovka are following in the footsteps of Vladimir Putin. They're not planning to be president yet, but they do like THE fact that Mr. Putin is a Master of judo.

"I think our president has chosen a very good kind of sport," says Ilnya (ph), because he'll need it in street fights, and I decided I'll practice it too."

The boys' coach, Andrey Golubev, says his students are inspired by a president in tiptop physical shape. ANDREY GOLUBEV, JUDO INSTRUCTOR (through translator): They like it that he's a master in sports and a strong and healthy president, not a president who can hardly speak or even breathe.

DOUGHERTY: Present Putin has even co-authored a technical book on judo, illustrated with all the right moves. You can find it at Moscow's House of Books at the cash register, right next to former President Boris Yeltsin's latest book depicting his political moves.

It could be a long time before judo is Russia's top sport, but, thanks to the president, it is catching on. Mr. Putin opened Russia's first International Presidents Cup competition.

Back at the sports school, Vitya (ph) says he thinks judo will come in handy in life.

"I like judo because of the strong moves," he says. "I won't be afraid of bad people."

Good training for a president, too, who seems ready to go the mat with his opponents.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More from Russia as we turn from martial arts to the world of art. You know that Russia is famous for its ballet and its composers, musicians like Tchaikovsky. And Russia has a rich tradition in the arts, but tradition is causing controversy these days as music brings an inharmonious note to politics.

Steve Harrigan has this report.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no heat in the East and a war in the South, but a fight in Russia's capital is over a song. The Duma voted overwhelmingly to restore the old Soviet national anthem with the president's blessing.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If we cannot use the symbols from our history, including the Soviet period, we will have to admit that entire generations -- our mothers and fathers -- have lived useless and senseless lives. Neither my heart nor my mind can agree with that.

HARRIGAN: The 1944 melody, ordered up by Stalin, would replace a temporary anthem ordered up by Boris Yeltsin in 1993. Liberal lawmakers warned of a dangerous step backwards.

GRIGORY YAVLINSKY, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: It's a Bolshevik music. It's a music which was used under the Soviet power. And with this music, a lot of people were killed in Russia, and a lot of terrible things happened in my country. HARRIGAN: Along with the Soviet hymn comes official recognition of the tricolor flag and the two-headed eagle, national symbols from the time of the czars.

(on camera): The mixed bag of communist and czarist relics is a compromise in a battle to answer a question that may never end: Who are Russians?

(voice-over): It took 10 years to agree to bring back the old melody, but the words of the Soviet hymn praise an unbreakable union and Josef Stalin. So now the debate shifts from music to lyrics. Proposals for new words to the old music will go to a presidential commission. In a nation of poets, there is not expected to be any shortage of ideas.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.


BAKHTIAR: Now we head to the South Pacific Ocean to the island country of the Philippines. The country got its name from Spanish explorers who colonized the islands in the 1500s, naming them after King Philip II of Spain. The Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands. Less than half of them actually have names. And only around 900 are inhabited. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is the country's largest city and busiest port.

Filipinos' ancestors migrated from Indonesia and Malaysia, forming small communities throughout the islands, each developing their own culture, which explains why the nation is comprised of a potpourri of languages, cultures and customs.

Now, as Melanie Arroyo explains, they're expanding their cultural horizons.


MELANIE ARROYO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When 28-year-old Cheese Ledesma finished her MBA from Stanford, she didn't dream of making her first million in Silicon Valley like most of her classmates. Instead, she and her younger brother Lex went back home to the Philippines and began a lucrative career in the music industry.

CHEESE LEDESMA, CO-FOUNDER, KARAOKE KING: I was driving to the city with two friends who sang very well. I said, you know what, if you could record your voice on a CD and I put your picture on the cover with a digital camera, would you buy that? And they were very enthusiastic about it. And they said, yes, of course!

ARROYO: That started them off in the karaoke business. Today, for about $3, Filipinos can come to their Karaoke King booth and get a chance to record their talents on CD.

LEX LEDESMA, CO-FOUNDER, KARAOKE KING: We have all the things that a professional studio uses. But really what our concept is about isn't just for people who sing well, it's for people to come and enjoy themselves, to have an experience as opposed to just a product.

ARROYO: To make the experience more exciting, they've invited a record company to use their karaoke booth to search for the next Filipino pop sensation.

ARSI BALTAZAR, TALENT SCOUT, VIVA RECORDS: The best way to screen talent is to listen to their CDs. So Karaoke King provides that.

ARROYO: Lex and Cheese own the Philippine patent to the Karaoke King concept and are looking to expanding their franchises further afield in Asia. But far from abandoning lessons learned from Stanford, they say that they're actually applying management tips from well-known IT gurus Bill Gates and Jerry Yang.

C. LEDESMA: The kind of management style that we really learned from there and took here is that of empowerment of our staff. They all feel like partners or owners of our business, and we find that this motivates them.

L. LEDESMA: We've built a corporate culture, a corporate folklore.

ARROYO (on camera): With no permanent office, meetings are held at night here at this roadside eatery. Gifts are handed out as bonuses to employees bringing in $2,000 U.S. a month. Singing their mission statement is just a part of Lex and Cheese's offbeat management style, but it seems to be the one to hit the high note for both Karaoke King customers and their staff.

Melanie Arroyo, for CNN Financial News, Manila.


BAKHTIAR: We'll have more from the Philippines tomorrow as we head center stage. We'll hear about the musical production "Miss Saigon."


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: More than a decade after it launched career of numerous Filipinos, "Miss Saigon" finally opened in Manila, surprisingly amid some controversy, some complaining about how Asians are portrayed in the show, others saying the musical is taking away resources from homegrown projects.

It's an ambitious project, the largest production of "Miss Saigon" worldwide, slated for a six-month run in Manila's premier theater.


BAKHTIAR: That story tomorrow right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

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: Well, in just a couple of days, United States President Clinton assumes his new role as a private citizen. But his impact on history will remain. Today in "Chronicle," we assess that impact in our continuing look back at the Clinton presidency.

John King examines the Clinton years by the numbers.



JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is a reason he knows them by heart, recites them at every opportunity: By the numbers, it is a remarkable record.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Eight years ago, when I came here, 10 million Americans were out of work. The deficit was $290 billion and rising. The debt of the country had quadrupled in the previous 12 years, imposing a crushing burden on our children.

KING: A president's legacy, of course, is shaped by much more than statistics, but there is no ignoring some. A record 115 months of economic growth at an average annual rate of 4 percent, 22 million new jobs since the beginning of 1993, the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, the lowest crime rate in 26 years, and the smallest welfare roles in 32 years.

JOHN PODESTA, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The people who had been left out and not heard to much from over the previous 12 years found a voice and found a leader in this president, and I think that's what he'll be noted for.

KING: And there's more. From a federal budget deficit of $290 back in 1993 to a projected surplus of 237 billion now. The Dow Jones industrial average has more than tripled.

It is true, as critics often note, that the economic recovery started before Mr. Clinton took office; also true that Mr. Clinton's first instinct was more spending, not just deficit reduction.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: To create jobs and guarantee a strong recovery, I call on Congress to enact an immediate of jobs investments of over $30 billion.

KING: Congress said no, dealing the new president an embarrassing early defeat. Advice from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan began to sink in, and top economic adviser Robert Rubin provided an echo: focus on the deficit; Wall Street will cheer and Main Street will benefit.

It is worth remembering that the first Clinton budget passed by the narrowest of margins, the vice president's tie-breaking vote.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes yes.

KING: Eight years and one remarkable boom later, and Mr. Clinton was still reveling in reminding Republicans they had predicted disaster.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Their leaders said our plan would increase the deficit, kill jobs and give us a one-way ticket to a recession. Time has not been kind to their predictions.

KING: It was Ross Perot who put the country's long-term debt in the middle of the political debate, but President Clinton who believes he deserves credit for putting the country on a path to pay it all off.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: This health care security card...

KING: Not all the statistics are favorable. He promised health care for all, but nearly 43 million Americans have no health insurance, up from 38.6 million in 1993. A cold winter and a power crisis in California: reminders that the United States relies on international sources for 28 percent of its energy needs, up from 25 percent in 1993.

But any statistical assessment of then and now is striking. There is talk of a slowdown, some say a possible recession, but no longer, as there was at the beginning of the 1990s, any talk of a United States in decline.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: We're probably the most influential, powerful country since the days of ancient Rome. And I think the 1990s will be remembered as one of the brightest decades of the 20th century. Now, Bill Clinton doesn't deserve all the credit for that, but he was one of the architects, and he was a principle architect.

KING: Mr. Clinton views this as a promise kept. Remember, he first ran for president promising to focus like a laser beam on the economy.


GOV. BILL CLINTON, (D-AR), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's bring this economy back, and we can solve a lot of our other problems!


KING: So it is no surprise as he prepares to leave office and the debate over his legacy begins in earnest that Mr. Clinton takes comfort in the numbers.

John King, CNN, the White House.



MARK LEFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abraham Lincoln brought two new things to his first inaugural in March 1861: a beard, which he grew after an 11-year-old girl suggested it, and an expensive hat. Lincoln wasn't sure where to put the hat before beginning to speak. Illinois Sen. Steven Douglas, whom Lincoln had just defeated, came to the rescue and held the hat while Lincoln launched into a speech focusing on slavery, secession and avoiding the Civil War that would begin within five week.

By his second inaugural, in March 1865, the Confederacy was looking for a way to make peace and Lincoln spoke eloquently of a just and lasting peace. Within weeks, the Civil War was over and Lincoln was dead.

A century later, the U.N. Security Council used Lincoln's words in a different context and conflict. Now the phrase "just and lasting peace" has become the mantra of the Middle East.

Mark Leff, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: For information about the upcoming presidential inauguration and a look inside the U.S. presidency, go to and check out "Leading the Nation: The Presidency." In addition, you can log on today from 12:30 to 4:15 Eastern time to join a free, interactive webcast on the presidency live from Washington, D.C.

And that's all for today. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye!



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