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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 23, 2001

Aired January 23, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to your Tuesday NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Let's get started with a look at the rundown.

Education is on the agenda of George W. Bush's first full day as U.S. president.

Then, from the White House to the schoolhouse, we tackle teen smoking in today's "Health Desk."

Up next, "Worldview" visits a Kenyan operating room via the Internet.

And we end up with more medical news in "Chronicle." We're headed for your brain.

United States President George W. Bush meets with reading experts on his first working day in the White House. He also sat down with House and Senate Republican leaders to discuss his plans for key issues such as improving schools.

Mr. Bush is preparing to send his education agenda to Congress. The package is expected to focus on improving literacy and teacher training, holding schools accountable for test scores, and giving school districts greater freedom. It's also believed to include a voucher plan to help low-income parents send kids to private schools if they wish. Some Democrats say vouchers would drain funds from public schools.

Aside from education, president Bush is focusing on his Cabinet. Six of seven confirmed Cabinet members were sworn in Monday: Colin Powell as secretary of state, Ann Veneman as agriculture secretary, Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, Don Evans as commerce secretary, Spencer Abraham as energy secretary, and Paul O'Neill as Treasury secretary. Bush is scheduled to attend Education Secretary-designee Rod Paige's swearing in Wednesday.

U.S. President Bush is also pushing ahead with his tax cut plan. He's hoping for bipartisan support, but many Democrats are objecting to the size of the tax cut. They say the nation cannot afford it.

Chris Black has more about Mr. Bush's tax cut proposal and the lone Democrat who supports it.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While President Bush focused on education, his allies on Capitol Hill set the ball rolling on his $1.3 trillion tax cut.

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: We are joining together in a crusade to see this tax cut in its totality adopted. We want to see it become the law of the land.

BLACK: One Democrat, Zell Miller of Georgia, a former governor like Mr. Bush, joined Gramm, breaking ranks with his own party.

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: Right now, our taxes have never been higher. Right now, our surplus has never been greater. To me it's just plain common sense that you deal with the first by using the second.

Remember that old Elvis Presley song, "Return to Sender"? That's what we're going to do right here.

BLACK: The tax proposal calls for reducing income tax rates for all taxpayers; doubling the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000; reducing the so-called marriage penalty; and repealing the estate tax. So far, Miller is the only Senate Democrat to publicly embrace the Bush tax cut. The Senate majority leader says it is a sign of things to come.

LOTT: Well, it is significant, because on a bill usually you have one, then you have two. And then it becomes many more. But I think it is important that Sen. Gramm and Sen. Miller, a Democrat, have joined together to introduce the basic bill.

BLACK: Democratic leaders say they are now willing to support a larger tax cut, but not as large as the president wants. And Democratic sources in the House and Senate say Democrats are moving away from targeted tax cut advocated by the Clinton-Gore team and towards a rate cut preferred by Mr. Bush. But they say the rate cut must be aimed at middle-income taxpayers, not the wealthy.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I think it's important that we find the right balance between targeted cuts and some sort of a rate cut. Finally, we have to ensure that the bulk of the real benefit goes to those who need it the most.

BLACK: But Democrats and some Republicans say the slowing economy could cause government revenues to shrink, eating up the surplus.

(on camera): Democrats are privately acknowledging a tax cut is inevitable this year. But the exact size and shape of that tax cut is still very much in doubt.

Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.


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 today's "Health Desk," we focus on the fight against the Ebola virus. First identified in Africa in 1976, it's one of the deadliest viruses, killing between 50 and 90 percent of its victims. It's transmitted by direct contact with blood, secretions or organs of an infected person. The symptoms include sudden fever, weakness and eventual internal and external bleeding.

Until now, there's been nothing to prevent people from getting the disease or treat them once they're infected. But some researchers may be changing that.

Christy Feig has the story.


CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ebola's deadly power most recently hit northern Uganda, killing 145 in one town. So far, the virus has killed over 800 people worldwide since it first appeared in 1976.

There is nothing doctors can do to prevent or treat those infected. Now researchers at the National Institutes of Health say there may be hope.

DR. GARY NABEL, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: We've found that it's possible to protect against the lethal effects of the Ebola virus in a primate model. By vaccinating animals ahead of time against Ebola virus, we were able to prevent them from dying from the infection.

FEIG (on camera): Nabel and his colleagues tested the vaccine in four monkeys. They all survived after being infected. Four other monkeys who didn't get the vaccine died.

(voice-over): The two-part vaccine uses some of the DNA of the virus to prime the immune system, then a weakened form of a common cold virus as a booster.

NABEL: By presenting those parts of the virus to the immune system, we activate it, we alert it to the possibility that a virus might be coming, and then the immune system can respond more rapidly to the actual virus when it sees it.

FEIG: Next step: more clinical trials, eventually with health care workers in the countries most often hit to see if they are protected in the next outbreak.

It will take three years or more to know if this is an effective and safe vaccine for humans, and if it does work, doctors hope they can experiment to see if the vaccine can help treat patients who are already infected.

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: Studies have shown kids' experimentation with drinking and smoking increases with age. Now one study is looking at even younger kids, middle school students, to see what influences them to pick up that first cigarette or drink.

Here again is Christy Feig with details.


FEIG (voice-over): By all accounts, who young people hang around plays a big factor in whether they start smoking or drinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been smoking since I was 11, and, well, started with that because of my friends.

FEIG: And he fits right into the findings of one of the first studies to survey over 4,000 middle school students to see where teens' attitudes towards smoking and drinking first develop.

BRUCE SIMONS-MORTON, NATIONAL INST. OF HEALTH: Affiliating with other youth who smoke or drink was the most powerful peer influence, Indeed, sixth, seventh and eighth graders were nine times more likely to smoke and five times more likely to drink if they had two or more friends who smoke and drank.

FEIG: This association is even stronger than if they were directly offered a cigarette or a drink. Girls are more likely than boys to be influenced by their peers, a trend that carries over to high school.

So what's a parent to do? The study found several things: knowing who their kids play with and what they do; keeping expectations high for their children. The study shows young people will try to reach them. And holding them in high regard, respecting their opinions and listening to them helps most children behave better.

SIMONS-MORTON: Teens who ported that their parents were highly involved in their lives were about half as likely to smoke or drink than youth who felt their parents were not very involved.

FEIG: And it's never too early to start. Researchers say parents may need to pay attention to their kids' friends as early as the sixth grade.

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: We have more ahead about you and what's going on inside your head. Stick around to check out your brain coming up in "Chronicle."

More on health as we spin the "Worldview" globe. Our focus is on a condition that threatens the vision of many people. We head to Kenya, site of a cataract operation seen around the world. And we examine the entertainment world. Our focus: Asian filmmakers. You may have heard of Ang Lee, who this week won the Golden Globe for best director, and his movie which won best foreign language film.

In "Worldview" today, we head to one of Asia's major ports: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It was part of China from ancient times until the 1800s when Britain gained control of Hong Kong Island in 1842. In fact, on July 1 of 1898, China leased Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years. Then in July of 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China.

In spite of the 99-year British lease, there's a great deal of Chinese influence in Hong Kong. One example, the popularity of martial arts films there.

Now Lauren Hunter on a Hong Kong martial arts film that's getting a lot of thumbs up.


LAUREN HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a story of love and betrayal centering on the theft of a sacred sword in ancient China. The film's message is honor and integrity. Its language is Mandarin, and its action pure Hong Kong- style martial arts.

Director Ang Lee may be best known for his Oscar-winning film "Sense and Sensibility." He calls "Tiger" a "Sense and Sensibility" with martial arts, and says it's the fulfillment of a boyhood dream.

ANG LEE, DIRECTOR, "CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON": You know, making martial film makes me feel, like, really macho, that the can- do, the fun of it, the crazy setup, the ultimate exhibition of the skill of making movies in the most exciting way. To me, that's really satisfying.

MICHELLE YEOH, ACTRESS: There is martial arts, and yet there is the dramatic side that balances it. It's like seeing the yin and the yang work in perfect harmony.

HUNTER: Preparation for the film began months before the cameras rolled with both the actors and the director immersing themselves in the physical and philosophical tenets of martial arts.

YEOH: Three hours in the morning, maybe another two hours in the evening. You see the more aggressive side of it, the visual side of it, the very powerful side of it. But that is the exact opposite of the philosophy behind it. It's not about going into war, it's about deflecting it, it's about learning to pacify situations. It's about knowing yourself, looking into yourself.

HUNTER: Choreographer Yuen Ho Ping, who did the action sequences in "The Matrix," helped put Ang Lee's vision on screen, including one fight sequence on the tops of bamboo trees. The actors were suspended over 100 feet in the air, attached by wires to nearby construction cranes.

LEE: We have scores of people underneath the actors pulling the cables and mimicking the bamboo movements. You know, one or two out of many takes maybe work in certain sections, and we cut it together, and then in post-production digitally remove those wires.

HUNTER: The film premiered to standing ovations at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was a summer blockbuster in Asia before heading West, where it's generated a lot of Oscar buzz.

LEE: I think at heart it's really a romantic story, a romantic drama with martial arts as its film language.

HUNTER: A language that appears to be universal.

Lauren Hunter, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.


BAKHTIAR: More on Asian films as we turn to Japan, an island country in the North Pacific Ocean and one of the world's economic giants. Japan also ranks among the world's leading producers of motion pictures. Many Japanese films have earned international fame, but only two Japanese filmmakers have ever won Oscars for directing. The legendary Akira Kurosawa was one. The other is a young Japanese woman who says she surprised even herself when she clinched the Academy Award for best short documentary.

Marina Kamimura has more from Tokyo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you nominated for?

KEIKO IBI, DIRECTOR: The short documentary category.

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Keiko Ibi scored big on her first try, winning a coveted Oscar for directing "The Personals," a short film chronicling the love lives of a group of Jewish senior citizens in New York. It's an achievement the Tokyo native chalks up to her background.

IBI: I think I look at American culture as a slightly different perspective because I'm not American, and not necessarily Japanese, perhaps.

KAMIMURA: Ibi has beat the odds before. A former Miss Japan, she says she was always attracted to the stage and screen, writing and directing her first play in grade school. Eventually Ibi says she managed to persuaded her mother she had to study in the United States, since she was loathe to join the male-dominated industry in Japan.

IBI: There weren't many role model. I mean, I have never heard of a filmmaker as a woman, or as a writer or a producer. So, you know, it's just a different atmosphere, and I thought in America there will be a different opportunity.

KAMIMURA: While Ibi says she never even dreamed she could get this far, with a graduation thesis on a group of American seniors, nevertheless the director has become an inspiration at home. Young industry hopefuls, many of them female, thronged to see her at a recent film festival in Tokyo, designed to nurture up-and-coming directors.

"She gave me confidence," says this director wannabe, "by making me think that I can do it too."

Now the bicultural director says she's ready to turn the tables again.

IBI: I didn't think I could make A story about Japanese or Japan when I left, but now I feel like I can.

KAMIMURA (on camera): Ibi's already started work on a feature- length screenplay about Japan's involvement in World War II, but first she's determined to shed light on another slice of American culture, this time cheerleaders in Texas.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Next stop Africa and the country of Kenya. Kenya is a large country located on Africa's East Coast. Most Kenyans live on farms and raise crops and livestock for a living. But every year, many Kenyan farmers opt out of their rural way of life and move to cities and large towns. It can be something of a culture shock. Kenyans used to the slower pace of life on the farm must adjust to the fast pace, regular work schedule and impersonal relations typical of urban centers. Some rural Kenyans also face a learning curve when it comes to technological advancements, like use of the Internet.

At least that was the case of one Kenyan woman who became the first cataracts patient to have surgery broadcast live on the World Wide Web. An estimated 25 million people worldwide are blinded by cataracts. It's a whitening of the eye caused by dirt, sun and aging.

Catherine Bond has the story of a surgery routine in the developed world, but still hard to come by in Africa.


CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tabitha Wanjiku lost her sight a year ago. She knows her way around her home in Kenya, but she needs her husband's help. Mrs. Wanjiku looked forward to a sophisticated yet simple operation to restore her sight.

"I want to be able to cook for myself and wash my clothes again," she said.

Not totally blind, she could just see our camera lights. The surgery to Mrs. Wanjiku's left eye would be what they were calling the world's 4 millionth cataract operation, but the very first broadcast live on the Internet, though Tabitha Wanjiku didn't know what the Internet was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't know.

BOND: The result of aging, strong sunlight and poor health care, cataracts cloud the pupil of the eye, eventually causing blindness. By putting this cataract operation on the Internet, the German charity which pays for thousands of cataract operations here every year hopes to raise money to do more.

PROF. CHRISTIAN GRAMS, CHRISTIAN BLIND MISSION: What we realize is there is a lack of awareness that blindness is such a big problem, because in the developed world it's not such a big problem.

BOND: Kikuyu Hospital outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi specializes in eyes. It used to cater to the poorest of the poor, but now the poor can no longer afford even basics like consultations, let alone cataract surgery, which gets people back to normal life.

DR. STEPHEN GICHUCHI: Because they are able to work and look after themselves better. It's actually much more than just giving sight. You really are giving life.

BOND: What happens next is not for the squeamish. Mrs. Wanjiku is given a local anesthetic. For an experienced surgeon, the operation is easy, an incision made and a lens inserted. Made in India, this lens costs just $7 U.S. as opposed to $70 from the United States.

The operation goes out at 7:00 p.m. local time, peak-viewing on the Internet in Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wound is closed with a very small stitch. Wanjiku will have medicine placed in the eye.

BOND: It's all over in 15 minutes. Mrs. Wanjiku is led back to her bed on the ward. In the morning, she'll begin to see again.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Nairobi.


BAKHTIAR: Today in "Chronicle," it's all about your brain. Turns out hormones aren't the only reason teenagers sometimes act crazy. You know the behavior we're talking about: rapid mood swings, poor self-control. Now neuroscientists say there's a good reason why adolescent brains seem different: they literally are.

Here's NEWSROOM's Shelley Walcott.


WALCOTT (voice-over): The teen years can roar in like a lion, turning an otherwise easygoing kid into one with ferocious mood swings.

DR. JAY GIEDD, NEUROSCIENTIST, NATL. INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I think, in general, teens get kind of a bad rap.

WALCOTT: Maybe so. But teens have been known for making silly decisions, appearing out-to-lunch in the area of self-control, running hot, then cold, loving you one minute, hating you the next.

(on camera): It's behavior often blamed on hormones or youth rebellion. But scientists say the root of teen tantrums could be buried deep in their brains.

(voice-over): While using sophisticated brain-mapping technology, U.S. and Canadian scientists made a startling discovery.

GIEDD: It used to be thought that the brain didn't change very much after about the age of 3 or 4. But by studying teens, we now know that the teenage brain is changing very dramatically and very dynamically.

WALCOTT: In other words, the adolescent brain isn't as fully developed as scientists had previously thought, a theory that tends to provoke strong reactions from some kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that's dumb, personally. We're just young. We're having fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if it's scientifically proven, I guess I have to give some credit to that. But, personally, I'd have to see the results myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just having fun. It's not like we're retarded or like -- are you all stupid or something?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, see, we're just out here trying to have some fun, basically, you know. You're only young once.

WALCOTT: For a long time, scientists believed the most important time in brain development occurred during the first few years of life, an assumption that prompted many parents to stimulate newborns with classical music or alphabet flash cards.


WALCOTT: Turns out, parents of young children can relax a bit since researchers say a child's brain is still developing way into puberty. Just as a teen is all arms and legs one day and all nose and ears the next, different regions of his or her brain also have an awkward sense of timing, with neural growth spurts that seem to coincide with important leaps in learning abilities.

Researchers say there are three major periods of brain growth. The first occurs between the ages of 3 and 6. That's when there is a virtual forest fire of growth in the front of the brain.

DR. ELIZABETH SOWELL, NEUROSCIENTIST, UCLA LAB OF NEURO IMAGING: We know that the frontal lobes are regions of the brain that are responsible for things like planning, organization, inhibiting inappropriate responses, controlling emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes me and my friends, just, we laugh a lot and we have a lot of jokes and stuff. My parents, they're kind of down to earth and not like that.

WALCOTT: As children grow older, the wave of rapid growth in the frontal lobes responsible for all that organization and planning slows down, not picking up again until much later in adolescence into early adulthood.

SOWELL: Teenagers can plan and organize their lives, just not as well as they probably can when they're maybe 20, 25.

WALCOTT: The second phase of brain development takes place between the ages of 7 and 13. At that time, there is a growth spurt toward the middle and back of the brain, areas that affect, among other things, language skills.

DR. PAUL THOMPSON, NEUROSCIENTIST, UCLA LAB OF NEURO IMAGING: So one of the things you might want to do is you might say, you know, maybe learn a language a little bit younger. You know, I want to learn French or learn Spanish or something like this. That might be a key period for educating children in that type of skill.

WALCOTT: But all this rapid growth suddenly ends around the ages of 13 to 15. During this final phase, the brain begins to fine-tune itself for the adult years, holding on to neurons and connections that get used a lot and shedding those that are hardly used at all; a time when certain motor skills, like playing an instrument, become more of a challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, I started playing guitar last year. I'm still pretty bad at it, so, you know, that might support the theory.

WALCOTT: Scientists say the brain's growth pattern also explains the characteristic most associated with adolescence: teen angst, that feeling of edginess, an inability to control emotions, plain old stress. All this, scientists say, can be traced to the amygdala. That's the area of the brain that controls fear, the fight or flight response. Teen emotions are centered around the amygdala since their frontal lobes, which temper emotions, are still not fully developed. DR. DEBORAH YURGELUN-TODD, NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST, MCLEAN HOSPITAL: It has implications for anything that requires a responsible review of the consequences. And that could be anything from decisions about what kind of work one's going to do, how you're going to apply yourself in school, what kind of relationships you want to have.

WALCOTT (on camera): So whether it's learning French, learning to play an instrument, or learning to control anger, biology plays a big part in those all-important teen years. And while parents may not have much say in the development of their child's brain, they can make a difference in another crucial area.

SOWELL: If parents really understand that maybe their teenagers are a little bit scattered or disorganized or take risks or are rebellious because the part of their brain that would keep them from doing that isn't yet finished. So I think it just, again, reinforces that strong structure and support through the teenage years is of critical importance.

WALCOTT (voice-over): Scientists say they will continue to probe the teenage brain. And they say parents should take heart. Even though it might sound like the teen brain is nothing more than a mental mosh pit, adolescence is actually the time when nature steps in to help a teenager grow up.

Shelley Walcott, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: Stay tuned for part two of our series tomorrow. Shelley Walcott looks at how a fully mature adult brain is supposed to function and why it's so important to protect the brain from drug abuse during its formative years.


GIEDD: It's a real unfortunate irony that, at this time when the brain is most vulnerable during this adolescent pruning period, it's also the time when teens are most likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol.


BAKHTIAR: We'll also find out why neuroscientists say the substances young people put in their bodies today could have lifelong effects. That's tomorrow on NEWSROOM. We'll see you then. Bye.



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