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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 6, 2001

Aired February 6, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Glad you're here with us. First up, a look at the rundown.

Topping our news agenda, election day in Israel. Israelis go to the polls to elect a prime minister.

Up next in "Health Desk," a warning about a potentially toxic supplement.

Then, "Worldview" rolls your troubles away when we introduce you to a unique form of relaxation.

Finally, we'll "Chronicle" a proposed legislation that could put you in the driver's seat later rather than sooner.

It's election day in Israel and incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Barak is fighting for his political life. Polls show him trailing his challenger, Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon, by some 20 points.

As Israelis head to the polls to elect their next prime minister, their decision could have a profound impact on the future of the region and the Middle East peace process. Mr. Barak's prospects for reelection have suffered in recent months, largely to his inability to reach a peace agreement with Palestinians, and because of his handling of Palestinian uprisings.

Many voters say they believe opposition leader Ariel Sharon will take tough action to end the violence that's killed at least 383 people since September, most of whom were Palestinians. That latest uprising began after Sharon visited a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. Sharon has said he will not resume peace talks with the Palestinians until the violence stops.

Meanwhile, United States President Bush and members of his administration say they're prepared to work with whichever man wins.

Incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Barak has called the Israeli election a choice between peace and continuing conflict with Palestinians. Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, has denounced Mr. Barak's proposed concessions to the Palestinians and has demanded an end to the recent violence. Christiane Amanpour brings us a closer look now at both candidates and their views.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In May, 1999, Ehud Barak was elected by a landslide, a general who promised that as prime minister he would deliver peace. Twenty-one months later, Barak's peace process is in tatters and Israelis look set to kick him out of office.

AKIVA ELDAR, ISRAELI POLITICAL ANALYST: Barak is a real tragedy. He is a very talented individual. I believe that Barak really wanted to put his mark on history, but he didn't have a clue how to do it.

AMANPOUR: Barak is now thought of as a bad politician, although, and perhaps because, he charged headlong into the business of making peace. First, he tried with the Syrians. But that effort failed over a few hundred meters of land. Then he turned to the Palestinians with the boldest, most far-reaching concessions ever offered by an Israeli prime minister.

After two weeks of hard bargaining at Camp David with President Clinton mediating, that effort failed, too. Barak had offered a Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank and Gaza, to dismantle some settlements and to share a capital in Jerusalem.

Camp David foundered partly on the fate of Jerusalem's holy sites. And shortly afterwards, the Palestinian Intifada erupted, the spark provided by the visit of his opponent, Ariel Sharon, to the Temple Mount or Haram Al-Sharif.

As the violence escalated, the casualties mounted mostly on the Palestinian side while the Israeli public was shell shocked. They blamed Barak.

ARI SHAVIT, ISRAELI POLITICAL ANALYST: The majority of Israelis, mainstream Israelis, are rather angry at him twice: once for being more radical than they thought he would be; and two, for not succeeding.

AMANPOUR: By now, even the Israeli left, the committed peace camp, felt betrayed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for rejecting what they considered unprecedented concessions for peace. The Israeli right said, I told you so. They pointed to Barak's offer to the Palestinians and to his unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon last year and accused him of proving to the Palestinians that violence does pay.

But in his election campaign, Barak still plays the peace card.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I don't believe that Oslo is dead. I believe that we still have to stick to it and try to resume according to the same parameters, the same line.

AMANPOUR: But it doesn't seem to be working. Barak's core constituency remains alienated, even Israeli Arabs, who traditionally vote Labor. They are furious that 13 of them, Israeli citizens, were killed by the Israeli police during demonstrations in sympathy with the Palestinians.

AZMI BISHARA, ARAB KNESSET MEMBER: People in the Arab world, they had expectations, yes, high expectations. And the higher the expectations are, the deeper the disappointments are.

AMANPOUR (on camera): But Barak maintains he's finally removed the rose-tinted glasses and unmasked all the parties, both the left and the right in Israel, as well as the Palestinians, to reveal just how painful the final steps towards peace will be.

(voice-over): Until Barak, the most contentious core issues had been put on hold.

SHAVIT: But that's helped both sides to play a game, to dance the dance of peace without paying the full price. Barak said, I mean business, and he forced both Israelis and Palestinians to look right at the heart of the problems, and both got terrified.

AMANPOUR: Fear barely two years since Barak was elected on a groundswell of hope.

No public figure in Israel arouses as much passion as Ariel Sharon. Alternately reviled and revered, Sharon is at a political peak that few would have predicted 20 years ago.

The architect of Israel's disastrous war in Lebanon in 1982, an Israeli tribunal found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of Palestinian civilians by Israel's Lebanese militia allies at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. He was ordered to step down as defense minister.

Today, polls indicate that Sharon is on the verge of becoming Israel's prime minister by an overwhelming margin.

SHAVIT: There are many young Israelis who didn't experience the old Sharon. There are many new immigrants who didn't experience the old Sharon.

ELDAR: There are some people who believe that what Ariel Sharon wants more than anything else is rehabilitation, the rehabilitation of the Sharon from Lebanon.

AMANPOUR: Campaign videos, speeches, and rallies portray him as a grandfatherly soldier farmer. A man of guns and roses. A man of peace, not war.

His friends and loyalists eagerly promote this new image as elder statesman.

RA'ANAN GISSIN, SHARON ADVISER: I think he'd like to be thought of as the farmer warrior, the Cincinnatus of Israel, the farmer, you know, who's being called behind the oxens to defeat the Carthaginians when they're at the gates of Rome. AMANPOUR: Sharon's military career has earned him condemnation and applause. His successes in the 1973 war left this enduring heroic image in Israel's collective consciousness.

Later, he rose through the political ranks where he became known as the bulldozer for masterminding the building of Jewish settlements in occupied territory, and openly proclaiming that would make any territorial compromise with the Palestinians more difficult.

Sharon is blunt about the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, calling him a liar and a murderer, refusing to shake his hand and declaring the Oslo peace process dead.

Sharon admits that he's known as an Arab hater, but he insists it's not true.

ARIEL SHARON, LIKUD PARTY LEADER: I'm sure that we'll reach peace. It will peace with security. It will be peace without peril. Negotiations will not be carried on under violence.

AMANPOUR: It's Sharon's trip to the Jewish and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem last September that's blamed for sparking the recent violence. And he still insists that his peace would never include Jerusalem.

SHARON: Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people.

AMANPOUR: He would offer the Palestinians a state on the land they already have. Not one settlement, he says, will be dismantled.

Despite all of that, many Arabs would like to believe that Sharon is a man who will make a deal and then deliver.

BISHARA: In his military services, he was a brutal man. In politics, he's known to be a very, very practical man who hates bureaucracy, and who runs things quickly and wants to solve problems.

ELDAR: Until proven differently, Sharon is portrayed as the leader of the Lebanon War, the leader of the settlement policy, the one who was against every single peace process in the last 20 years.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Sharon's enemies doubt the old hawk has really transformed himself into a dove. But his allies say he's not a warmonger; rather a respected, rational statesman who, if elected, should be given a fair chance to prove whether he's now a manager of compromise or confrontation.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Jerusalem.


BAKHTIAR: In our "Health Desk," it's no secret that taking some banned substances could lead to severe illness or even death.

Now Holly Firfer tells the story of a teen whose use of one such substance turned into a game of Russian Roulette. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a happy time for Jan Ciampi. Her 17-year-old son, who asked not to be identified, was graduating from high school. But when he and some friends decided to celebrate by taking an over-the-counter supplement called Zen to get high, within an hour he started vomiting and then lost consciousness.

JAN CIAMPI, MOTHER: His color was ashen and he was trembling. His fingers and toes, his extremities were bluish-purple.

FIRFER: Zen, which is no longer on the market, contains a substance called 1,4-Butanediol.

DEBORAH ZVOSEC, HANNEPIN COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, depending on the dose, it can be -- it is immediately toxic. It is an intoxicant.

FIRFER: Once you take 1,4-Butanediol, your body immediately converts it into GHB, also known as the "date rape drug," which is often taken to induce a sense of euphoria or intoxication.

GHB is now illegal. But doctors say taking 1,4-Butanediol has the same effect. The government has banned 1,4-Butanediol for use in dietary or nutritional supplements, but you can still buy it for industrial purposes as a solvent. Dietary products with 1,4- Butanediol claim to aid in muscle building, improve athletic performance and sleep enhancement.

ZVOSEC: There is absolutely no scientific basis or proof to the claims that GHB and its precursors actually promote muscle mass and fat loss.

FIRFER: Doctors say 1,4 Butanediol can induce vomiting, incontinence, dizziness, agitation, combativeness, seizures and coma.

ZVOSEC: These compounds are involved in overdose, in death, in sexual assault, and in driving while intoxicated.

FIRFER: The most recent study of 1,4-Butanediol identified nine overdoses and two deaths in just six months.

ZVOSEC: They bought these products very legitimately, having no idea that, in fact, they were intoxicants, and certainly having no idea that they were potentially lethal or that they were addictive or that a very serious physical withdraw syndrome could develop.

FIRFER: The concern now, say researchers, is the availability of 1,4-Butanediol over the Internet.

ZVOSEC: There are still organic solvents, household cleaners, et cetera, that are being sold that contain 1,4-Butanediol that are ostensibly being sold as cleaners and solvents. However, these sites contain information about the health benefits, so-called "health benefits" of 1,4-Butanediol. So it's very clear that this is a subterfuge under which they are operating.

FIRFER: Hadi Ghandour's company GenaPharm manufactured and sold one of the products cited as dangerous in the most recent study; a product called "Thunder Nectar." He doesn't sell anything with 1,4- Butanediol anymore, but he claims the product was safe if used properly and would like to see it back on the market.

HADI GHANDOUR, GENAPHARM: And the people that were using it on our fronts were educated. I think the problems really came when the product crossed over into the recreational arena. And when it was in the recreational arena and it was mixed with other drugs, that's when you had a problem with 1,4-Butanediol, or 2,3, or GHB, for that matter.

FIRFER (on camera): The DEA says it has found no instances of 1,4-Butanediol being sold for use as a drug. And the agency cannot prosecute if it is sold for its industrial use.

FIRFER (voice-over): And that's why the researchers feel they need to continue to warn consumers about it even if it's banned in dietary supplements. And Jan Ciampi couldn't agree more. Her son recovered, although he doesn't remember anything from his ordeal. But she will never forget.

CIAMPI: This stuff is really scary.

Holly Firfer, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: We highlight health in "Worldview." We'll meet a cancer survivor who's charted a new course in life: helping others to set sail despite their disabilities. We'll also learn about a hands- on approach to stress relief. Do your muscles ache? Is your neck in knots? If so, you might want to try a massage. Our stories take us to France and the United States.

Time to relax as we probe into the therapeutic art of massage therapy. Massage is a method of manipulating the skin to produce healthful effects on the skin and underlying tissues. Using their hands or fingers, massage therapists stroke, rub and knead the skin. Massage benefits the body by improving blood circulation, relaxing muscles and stimulating nerve endings in the skin. It also generates a feeling of well-being. Consequently, massage is used to heal injury, reduce muscle soreness and relieve tension.

But conventional massage is feeling the stress as a new type of therapy gains ground.

Denise Dillon explains.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a massage like no other. This massage uses stones. Not just any stones, these are heated volcanic stones, strategically placed on the body and alternated with chilled marble. It's called stone therapy and it is said to evoke physiological, mental and spiritual responses in the body.

VICKIE AUERBACH, MASSAGE THERAPIST: It really taps into the person's own healing mechanism and causes their body to go back to a state of homeostasis, bringing things into balance. And it can -- it really increases your circulation so it really helps detoxify the body.

DILLON: The stones are heated in water to about 120 degrees then coated with natural oils. The stones are then placed on each of the chakras, the seven basic energy centers of the human body, according to yoga philosophy. The theory is the client is getting the energy that has been stored in the stones for centuries. Stones are also place between the toes, fingers and palms to promote stress relief.

SALLY MANFREDI, LASTONE CLIENT: From in my experience, it's a very unusual situation to be in, to have your skin manipulated with rocks. It only happens when you're lying on the beach and it happens by accident. This was intentional and wonderful.

DILLON: Stone therapy has been used by Native Americans and ancient Romans for thousands of years. But only in the past decade has it been brought back into practice in the U.S. And it's now growing in popularity at spas throughout the U.S. as well as Europe and Japan.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More on massage as we turn to France. Massage is actually a French word coming from a verb meaning to manipulate skin tissue by rubbing or kneading. It's a form of physiotherapy and is performed by a masseur or a masseuse, also French words.

Peter Humi goes underground to report on the practice in an unusual place: the Paris Metro.


PETER HUMI, CNN PARIS BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Stressed out, frantic, hassled, all part of the daily routine of riding the Metro, or just all part of being Parisian. Whatever, the notoriously striped underground system and its equally notorious, nervy human cargo are back in full swing.

But in a public relations exercise to help ease tensions, Metro officials have set up massage booths in four of the city's underground stations.

CHRISTOPHE BASILE, MASSEUR (through translator): The RATP had the idea of stopping people for five to 10 minutes in their working day so that they could take a break and chill out and say, I'm letting go completely for 10 minutes. So then they can be in a better mood and feel better physically.

HUMI: On the first day, according to a Metro spokesman, several hundred passengers took up the offer for a good neck and shoulder rub. Along with the physical relief, there's also food for thought. Green tea and allegedly revitalizing seaweed biscuits are on offer, as well as a booklet on the Zen approach to taking the Metro.

The message, with a massage, is smile to avoid stress and keep one's cool.

"I can tell you the massage is meant to make people feel better," says Francis Tellier (ph), a regular Metro user. "And it was very pleasant," he adds, "even if it was a bit short."

Nevertheless, the massage service appears to be a hit. The strain of taking the train may soon be less of a pain.

Peter Humi, CNN, Paris.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: More on health issues as we turn to the United States, where a 42-year-old cancer survivor jumped into a 12- foot sailboat to embark on a 2,000-mile odyssey all by herself.

CNN's Tim Wahl shows us how one Florida woman reversed her course and launched the dreams of others.


ALDER ALLENSWORTH, CANCER SURVIVOR: My name is Alder Allensworth. In April of 2000, I got on a 12-foot dinghy in St. Petersburg, Florida with the intent to sail it around the United States all the way to Maine.


ALLENSWORTH: I was diagnosed with cancer of the tear gland 10 years ago. And I was case 80 documented. And the pathology, when it came back, they said I would have less than a 10 percent chance to live with the surgery. So I chose the surgery.

In Fort Lauderdale, I had been bounced around and beat up by boat wake, big boat traffic and jet skis. And I was this close to not getting back on the boat in Fort Lauderdale. Charleston, South Carolina: 54 days into the journey, almost two months, 800 miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I would like to introduce a special guest to Charleston. It's Alder Allensworth.


ALLENSWORTH: I'm sailing a 12-foot boat from St. Pete to Maine to let people know that you're only limited by your mind. Get out there. Do it. Test your abilities and go have fun and get on the water. It's great being here. Thank you guys. TIM WAHL, CNN VIDEOGRAPHER: To set out from St. Pete to sail to Camden, Maine -- did you make it?

ALLENSWORTH: No, I made it as far as Morehead City, North Carolina.

Slow down! Slow down!

The turf was getting more and more difficult and challenging: very difficult to navigate. When I got there, because of the weather, I had to stop. And the exhaustion caught up with me.

WAHL: So did you have a catharsis at some lonely moment as to what your purpose should be or what your next purpose might be?

ALLENSWORTH: Yes. I picked up a book. I hadn't quite finished reading it yet: "Encounters of a Wayward Sailor" -- Tristan Jones. And I opened it up to this passage. And I'm reading -- quoting this -- "It's better to personally help one crimple (ph) to launch a dinghy than hammer oceans alone." I had my answer. It was time to go home to my community and launch those dinghies and get people in my community on the water.

WAHL: And now this is the next chapter in that journey.

ALLENSWORTH: Yes. Very much so.

Since I've been back, I've connected with a nonprofit organization. I know have two potential funding sources for the program. We're sailing. We're putting people with disabilities on the water. And it's only been six months since I left the journey.

Now this is your main sheet. And this will control your sail going in and out. OK? OK, you want to let them go back there. You're free. Have fun.

One out of five Americans are disabled; 68 percent of those don't ever leave their home, nursing home, and participate socially in the world.

You can bring your sail in a little tighter! Yes, spin them around. Turn a few circles! See how it works!

For people who can get out on the water and handle a boat by themselves, the feeling of self-confidence is phenomenal.

BRUCE WITHAM, DISABLED AMERICAN: This is just out there floating free, enjoying the sun, the breeze in your face. It's great.

WAHL: Think you'll ever try this again?

WITHAM: Absolutely -- next chance I get. Going on next?

ALLENSWORTH: They said you looked good out there. Yes.

I think it's real important for people to realize that, in life, it is not always the destination, but it's the journey.

So who's going sailing? All right. Good to see you.


BAKHTIAR: Some of you watching are on the brink of getting your driver's license. It's probably one of the most exciting moments of the teenage years. In many states here in the U.S., you only have to be 16 to get that all-too-liberating license. But in one state, that may be changing.

Gary Tuchman tells us why.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you drive an '87 Ford, your car may be older than the driver in the lane next to you. In most states, you only need to be 14 or 15 to have a learners permit.

Fifteen-year-old Claire Boozer of Atlanta just got hers.

CLAIRE BOOZER, NEW DRIVER: I think I'm ready to learn to drive. I'm not -- I'm not prepared yet to drive on my own. I'm prepared to -- I mean, I'm willing to learn, you know.

TUCHMAN: And she will be learning in a state that may soon drastically restrict her driving privileges.

GOV. ROY BARNES, GEORGIA: We believe all of this is necessary because of the great number of deaths we've had. We've had over 200 deaths, really, in less than two years.

TUCHMAN: Georgia's governor is leading a push to further limit when anyone under 18 could drive without an adult, and reduce the number of passengers in the car who are under 18.

BARNES: We have a very week graduated license system. This would give us one of the toughest in the nation. This is what we need.

TUCHMAN: In addition, new drivers would have to wait until age 17 to drive by themselves any time of the day in the metropolitan Atlanta area, something that has long been done in New York City, where drivers must be 18.

Claire Boozer's opinion on all this?

BOOZER: I think the law right now is perfectly fine.

TUCHMAN: But tightening driving laws appears to be the wave of the future because of young drivers' accident statistics. Right now, in the U.S., only nine states don't have some type of graduated licensing laws. And that number is expected to continue to shrink.

ALLAN WILLIAMS, INS. INST. FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: They have three times the crash risk of older teenagers, 18- and 19-year-olds, and about 10 times the crash risk of drivers who are in their 20s and 30s.

TUCHMAN: Critics say these laws make life inconvenient for parents and their teens.

The Georgia governor says he'll argue that point.

BARNES: Listen, when it's a choice between inconvenience or whether I'm going to have a child of mine with me the rest of my life, I'll take the inconvenience anytime.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: And that's a wrap for us here at NEWSROOM. We'll see you tomorrow same time, same place. Bye.



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