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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 8, 2001

Aired February 8, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: From the CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We'll start with a preview of today's program.

First up, space shuttle Atlantis on a mission to the International Space Station.

Next, there's more from the final frontier in "Science Desk." Could a Star Wars become a reality?

Then, "Worldview"'s off to the Balkans to report on possible uranium contamination.

And finally, a tale of truth, lies and baseball.

Five NASA crewmembers embark on a major mission to the International Space Station. Shuttle Atlantis launched Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Aboard is the United States laboratory critical to the future of the station.

Five astronauts, eleven days, one huge mission. Crewmembers aboard Atlantis face a daunting task. They're scheduled to attach a $1.4 billion scientific laboratory to the International Space Station after docking with it on Friday. The 31,000-pound lab named Destiny will be the heart of the U.S. side of the station. It'll provide everything from life support to advanced communications and steering controls. Once Destiny is connected, command of the station will pass from Russian to U.S. ground controllers.

The mission is about three weeks behind schedule because of wiring inspections on the shuttle's boosters. And because of the high cost, there's no backup module for the Destiny laboratory. If it's damaged or destroyed during the flight, the space station will be set back several years.

The station is a $100 billion joint venture among NASA, Russia, Japan, Europe, Canada and Brazil. It's the largest and most complex international scientific project in history.

Many high school and middle school students in the United States are keeping a close eye on the space shuttle Atlantis mission to the International Space Station. They're directly involved with some of the science cargo aboard the shuttle.

Allard Beutel has their story.


ALLARD BEUTEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A NASA educational program is bringing space science right into some high school and middle schools. Students from Alabama, California, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas are helping with some of the first experiments taking place on the International Space Station. They work with NASA and university scientists to prepare biological samples for delivery to the ISS aboard Atlantis.

JESSICA MURDOCK, GATESVILLE HIGH SCHOOL, TEXAS: The most exciting thing about this is being here and working with scientists and being able to say that part of me and part of our town is up there right now flying.

GREG JENKINS, NASA BIOTECH. RESEARCHER: Frozen protein samples go inside this insert. This insert then goes into a doer, which is basically a liquid nitrogen thermos bottle. The samples are maintained frozen in this hardware until it reaches orbit.

BEUTEL: The samples are engineered to produce high-quality protein crystals. Scientists say information learned from the crystals ultimately may be used to design new medicine and develop agricultural products. NASA researchers say, through their hands-on workshops, the students are not only doing actual space science experience, they're also gaining valuable life lessons.

JENKINS: We take the opportunity to use the excitement of the space experiment and going to the space station to excite the students' interest in science.

ERIN ARMSTRONG, GERMANTOWN HIGH SCHOOL, TENNESSEE: I mean, maybe some day this could be a possible career choice. I mean, I'm definitely going to consider it, you know?

MELANIE CONTRATTO, GERMANTOWN HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: I constantly am telling them, you know, this is what it would be used in industry. This is what it would be used in in the medical field. And this actually gives me an opportunity to show them and to allow them also to apply what they have learned in the classroom.

BEUTEL: The crystals will spend about a month growing on the ISS until they're brought back to Earth on the next shuttle mission. NASA says some of the crystals will be returned to the students so they can compare them to crystals grown in their own classrooms.

Allard Beutel, CNN.



LINN HOGUE, ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO: Hi, my name is Linn Hogue. I'm from Englewood, Colorado and my question for CNN is, how much does the International Space Station cost?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: It depends on how you do the mathematics. NASA's estimate is $60 billion for the 15-year projected lifespan of the International Space Station. But the way they do their accounting is kind of funny. They do not include the space shuttle missions that will be flown to both build and service the International Space Station.

Now, each space shuttle mission is between $400 million and $500 million. So if you lump all that in, it gets to be well over $100 billion. That also does not include the contributions of the European nations that are involved in this, Canada and Japan as well. That's another $10 billion.

And then the big X factor in all of this is no one knows how to value the Russian contribution to all of this. Their economy is a very different economy than ours and it's very difficult to come up with a hard currency figure. Bottom line, here at CNN we're calling it $100 billion station.


BAKHTIAR: We're still in space in "Science Desk," but we move from shuttles to satellites. The first man-made satellite named Sputnik was placed into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1957. Since then, various countries have launched hundreds of satellites. These spacecraft have a lot of uses: scientific research, communication, weather forecasting, and even military intelligence.

With such increased reliance on satellites around the world, the question remains, what could this mean for international relations.

David Ensor takes a look.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until now, war in space has mostly been a figment of Hollywood's imagination, science fiction as in the movie "Star Wars." Now, a blue ribbon commission says war in space is only a matter of time.

RONALD FOGLEMAN, SPACE COMMISSION: We, quite frankly, believe that like every other arena of human intercourse -- air, land and sea, -- that eventually we will see conflict in space, and that we need to prepare for that.

ENSOR: The commission says the U.S. is becoming more and more dependent on satellites for communications and for other civil uses, for the military and for intelligence gathering. And the more dependent the U.S. becomes, the more vulnerable it is.

FOGLEMAN: The issue is, can we avoid a Pearl Harbor in space? And that's really what we're trying to say.

ENSOR: Gen. Fogleman points to an item in a Hong Kong newspaper. FOGLEMAN: They were openly talking about the Chinese developing a thing called a "parasitic satellite" that they would deploy, that would go up and attach itself to our major satellites and just sit there as kind of a sleeper agent, if you will, but ready to be activated.

ENSOR: For starters, the commission recommends putting space experts close to the president at the White House and creation of an undersecretary of defense for space at the Pentagon. Over the next 10 years, the report says, the U.S. will have to spend about $60 billion replacing aging satellites. The nation should focus on how best to protect that investment. Some experts argue for space versions of airborne lasers already under development; others for more conventional missile interceptors. Still others argue for space treaties, not space weapons.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: There should be an international ban on antisatellite weapons, not a race to develop antisatellite weapons.

ENSOR: Blue ribbon commissions come and go in Washington, but not many have been chaired by the secretary of defense. The space commission report could have a real impact.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: Health officials in Canada say a woman hospitalized in isolation does not have the Ebola virus like first feared. Tests were given after she was hospitalized in Ontario after flying in from Africa. Doctors say the woman does have malaria, and they'll continue testing for other illnesses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had some results from the laboratory in Winnipeg showing that the Ebola testing is negative. So the Ebola testing to date is negative. Those are preliminary results. Viral isolation is still ongoing, but the real implication is that this greatly reduces the likelihood that this patient has been infected with the Ebola virus.


BAKHTIAR: As more emerging infections develop, doctors are becoming increasingly concerned about keeping viruses such as Ebola away from the rest of the hospital.

Elizabeth Cohen explains what hospitals do when they're faced with a dangerously infectious patient.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gown, gloves, boots, eye shields and no visitors, just doctors and nurses. When a patient has certain airborne infections, like hepatitis or tuberculosis, doctors don't want the infection to leave the room. Different diseases require different measures.

DR. DOUG LOWREY, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: For example, for tuberculosis we might wear special filter masks, place the patient in a negative pressure room, one that doesn't allow any of the air around the patient to move out into the rest of the hospital environment.

COHEN: Hospitals don't use the so-called space suits you see in Level 4 labs. That's because the particles that come from lab specimens can be tiny and could penetrate a basic face mask. Particles that come from human beings, however, are larger and a mask is sufficient to catch them.

In addition to the masks, gloves and other equipment, the Centers for Disease Control tells hospitals, when a patient has certain infections, they need to limit the transport of the patient, transport blood and urine samples in sealed, clearly labelled, leak-proof containers, and use extreme caution when disposing of equipment.

But health care workers bring more than just equipment and training into these rooms. They also bring bravery.

LOWREY: We take risks every day for our patients. And we believe those risks are worthwhile. When you come across an exposure to a potentially life-threatening disease, it makes you take a step back and reevaluate your commitment. And in most cases, people reaffirm their commitment.

COHEN: American hospital workers are lucky, says Dr. Doug Lowrey at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, compared to people treating infections like Ebola in Africa.

LOWREY: Gloves may be a luxury. Gowns may be a luxury. Face masks, a luxury. Disposable needles, a luxury.

COHEN: That's one reason infectious disease experts say they don't believe outbreaks like last year's Ebola outbreak in Uganda would happen on a similar scale in the United States, because relatively simple precautions can go far in keeping infections in check.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


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 "Worldview," we'll hear from our CNN Student Bureau as we travel to South Africa to meet kids becoming a voice in their communities.

But first, concern among the world community about the possible lingering effects of war. We'll journey to Yugoslavia and Bosnia Herzegovina to examine the problem and potential dangers of depleted uranium.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: We head now to the Balkans, a region in southeastern Europe. It's the site of an uproar over the use of ammunition containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium, a slightly radioactive heavy metal, is used in antiarmor munitions because of its high penetrating power.

Both NATO and U.S. forces used such weapons in Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Fears of health risks have swept Europe, as various nations reported cancer cases among soldiers who deployed to the Balkans on peacekeeping missions. NATO says an initial study of health records shows no connection between depleted uranium munitions and cancer among soldiers who served in the Balkans.

Alessio Vinci provides this in-depth report.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Yugoslav army officials say NATO caused, quote, "remarkable, long-lasting and dangerous radioactive ground contamination" in four areas in Serbia and one in Montenegro.

In Preshiva Valley (ph) near the Kosovo border, army experts say they detected localized radiation levels from 1,000 to 1,300 times higher than what they say is safe.

But they admit, so far, no Yugoslav soldier deployed in the area's targeted with depleted uranium rounds has shown evidence of contamination. That's because, army officials say, during the war soldiers were equipped with special protective gear.

LT. COL. CEDOMIR VRANJANAC, YUGOSLAV ARMY (through translator): None of the soldiers of the Yugoslav army are ill due to overexposure to radioactivity. And then know that none of the local population still do not have cases of illnesses reported.

VINCI: The areas targeted by NATO with depleted uranium rounds were mainly rural and away from populated centers. In Belgrade, the army colonel in charge of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare says NATO has given the Yugoslav army maps, indicating where depleted uranium rounds were fired. But he says he is still concerned about the possible fall-out from the use of this kind of ammunition.

COL. MILAN ZARIC, YUGOSLAV ARMY GENERAL STAFF: There are two things that worry me. The first one is that it could be that it's still too early for the consequences to be shown. And the second one is that we still don't know so much about the influence of depleted uranium on water sources and on food.

VINCI: The areas tested by Yugoslav officials do not include Kosovo, which took the bulk of the estimated 30,000 depleted uranium rounds fired in what NATO called its "humanitarian campaign" there. Kosovo is now under United Nations and NATO administration.

A team of Portuguese experts recently conducted radiation tests in Kosovo and said that they found nothing out of the ordinary. But United Nations Environment Program scientist, or UNEP, in November found slight contamination at eight of 11 locations examined in Kosovo. The U.N. experts advised the eight sites be closed off. But that, apparently, has not been done.

SUZAN MANUEL, UN SPOKESWOMAN: I don't believe that anything was. And there are 112 sites. NATO has provided us with the map of the sites where these 30,000 rounds were concentrated, mainly in Kosovo -- southern and western Kosovo along the boarders with Albania and Macedonia. The UNEP did recommend at that time that the sites be marked off. And I'm not sure whether that has been done or not. And I think that's something we should -- we need to take up.

VINCI: Yugoslav army investigators say NATO fired between 3,000 and 5,000 depleted uranium projectiles against targets outside Kosovo, mostly here in southern Serbia near the border with Kosovo. Yugoslav officials say there is no radiation danger for the population unless, they say, a person stands on the very spot hit or holds depleted uranium ammunition in bare hands.

But they worry about unexploded rounds which did not hit intended targets and ended up deep in the ground.

VRANJANAC (through translator): There is a real threat that local population could become exposed to radioactivity because the local farmers keep the live stocks in this area. We, of course, did everything to clearly mark and seal off the contaminated spots.

VINCI: Despite visible warning signs, cattle are still pastured on these hills once targeted by NATO planes. And this farmer says he is little concerned about any possible danger.

Local doctors say, so far, they have not seen any evidence of an increase in illnesses typically linked to radiation exposure. But residents here say they didn't know about the possibility of radioactive contamination until they heard the issue discussed on television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are all very concerned because we drink milk which farmers bring from the contaminated areas.

VINCI: Researchers of the Institute of Nuclear Sciences outside Belgrade are examining soil samples from southern Serbia in close cooperation with the army.

They confirm radiation levels in southern Serbia are higher than normal. They are also analyzing spent NATO depleted uranium rounds found there. And, they say, dust and debris from the majority of the 3,000 depleted uranium rounds fired by NATO and Serbia remain.

SNEZANA PAVLOVIC, INSTITUTE FOR NUCLEAR PHYSICS: They can cause deep contamination of the underground water supplies and finally enter to the food of chain -- chain of food for the people. So -- but it is not a quick process. It will not happen in a year.

VINCI: Yugoslav army officials also question the morality of the use of depleted uranium rounds.

ZARIC: There is no need to use that kind of weapon. NATO was strong enough, and it could find at least some other weapon. But as a soldier, I am aware that if you are at war, then you can use whatever you want. At the same time, I must say that, especially being a soldier, I am strongly against using depleted uranium as a weapon. It's a very strange way to carry out some humanitarian mission and to cause contaminated area, as I said, that is going to remain and to cause dangers, to cause danger for the people for several thousand years.

VINCI: And that's precisely what most worries Yugoslav officials here: the still unknown consequences of depleted of uranium on the general population and the environment, something that may take decades to establish.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Belgrade.


BAKHTIAR: We turn now to South Africa, a country at the southern tip of Africa, the continent. It's a land rich in minerals, and is the most highly industrialized nation in Africa. Our destination: a township outside Cape Town.

CNN student bureau reporter Jason Friedman explores a special program called "Photo Voice," which is designed to inspire and motivate young people in the area. It's a bright spot in a bleak impoverished setting, as he reports.


JASON FRIEDMAN, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): This is Khayelitsha, a place that means "new homes." But these homes or shacks on the outskirts of scenic Cape Town seem to stretch out to the horizon.

But shelter is just one of many concerns for the residents of this South African township. Take the problems of any inner-city, like gang violence and a crumbling school system, and throw in Third World realities like the scarcity of clean drinking water. This is Khayelitsha.

Yet it is only one face of this community. Many residents are at work here quietly trying to fix this broken place. The students and volunteers of Photo Voice are a prime example.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea behind Photo Voice was to capture community life, as young people see it. That was to capture community life through the lives or the eyes of young people.

FRIEDMAN: And that starts here. Peer educators teach the students, who range in age from 14 to 17, about problems in their community. Then, the kids are on with disposable cameras and sent out into the township to capture these themes.

Their rolls shot, the students would turn to right captions to their pictures. Everything comes together on poster board for presentation to local leaders. The officials come away impressed, and so do the students.

Two-year-program veteran Tiboni Smith (ph) says he wants to share what he has learned in Photo Voice with other teens. And that will be happening on a much larger scale over the next few years.

(on camera): Like in a Greek tragedy, Khayelitsha's bleak background can serve to further illuminate beacons of hope like Photo Voice. But, of course, unlike Greek tragedy, this is real life, and the final act remains to be written.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reaches an enormous growth, in bounds and leaps in terms of confidence, having the capacity to stand up and say, this is my story.

FRIEDMAN: Jason Friedman, CNN Student Bureau, Cape Town, South Africa.


BAKHTIAR: Fifty years ago, in an important playoff game between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Bobbie Thompson of the Giants hit the game-winning homerun, known as the "shot heard around the world," and a hero was born -- or was one? Now, evidence suggests foul play.

Will the real hero please stand up?

Here's Garrick Utley to set the record straight.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moment became a legend the instant the ball left Bobby Thomson's bat. 1951, the deciding play-off game for the National League pennant, bottom of the ninth, two outs. Bobby Thomson and the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. But what happens when a legend gets a rewrite 50 years later?

When we learned that, inside the old polo grounds on that day, the Giants had a spy, out there, behind a window in the center field clubhouse, a spy stealing the signals of the Dodgers' catcher with this telescope and sending them through a telephone line to the Giants' dugout and bullpen, where a teammate would signal the batter whether a fast ball or a curve was headed his way, all within seven seconds.

So does this news, dug up by reporter Josh Prager, make the greatest home run ever hit something less than that?

JOSHUA HARRIS PRAGER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Baseball has always been an ambiguous game and I really think it's for each person to decide, as well as for the ball players to decide if it was immoral.

UTLEY (on camera): So now our story is about more than baseball as a game. Bobby Thomson's home run is about morality and ambiguity, with enough ethical questions to delight the most profound philosopher and fervent fan in the bleachers.

(voice-over): Except there was nothing ambiguous about Giants manager Leo Derocher (ph), who lived by his motto, nice guys finish last. That bothered Thomson even after his home run.

BOBBY THOMPSON: A lot of times if I didn't take signs, I didn't feel good about it. But look, hey, you play for Derocher, win at all costs, and, you know, I go along with that.

UTLEY (on camera): And how often do we find ourselves going along? In 1951, what the Giants did was not illegal and Bobby Thomson says he did not take the sign on that famous pitch. Still, there's a lingering question in this story. Who was the real hero?

(voice-over): Enter Ralph Branca, as he did in the bottom of the ninth on that October afternoon to pitch to Thomson with runners on second and third. History has cast him as the big loser. But now we learn that he has known since 1954 that the Giants were stealing his team's signals and he never complained to anyone, even to Bobby Thomson, who became a good friend.

RALPH BRANCA: Bobby and I have never talked about it. He knows that I knew and I know he knows that I knew, so we have never talked about it. We, it's just been like pushed aside, swept under the rug and it's, you know, and as I said, I don't want to take anything away from him. He hit a hell of a pitch.

PRAGER: It's sad, though, that Ralph Branca had to deal with this for 50 years. Fifty years is a man's life and he really suffered for much of it.

UTLEY: When the facts change, so does history. Now we'll always see this moment a little differently. The hero will not only be Bobby Thomson, who did hit that fast ball into the left field stands. There will also be Ralph Branca, who kept quiet about the sign stealing to preserve a friendship and a legend, to show that nice guys don't always finish last, even if it takes half a century for us to discover that.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.




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