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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 9, 2001

Aired March 9, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome to the Friday show. I'm Tom Haynes. We got a lot to report today, so let's get started.

Leading the news, the Bush tax plan gets House approval while the president markets his message to the people.

There's more about marketing in "Editor's Desk" today. Find out who's being targeted in a very faithful campaign.

Coming up in "Worldview," we bring you the latest on foot-and- mouth disease.

Finally, we'll introduce you to some puppets on a special mission.

First, the United States House of Representatives approves a 10- year, $958 billion tax cut plan. The cut at the heart of U.S. President Bush's economic plan would cut taxes for all Americans who pay them.

With a vote of 230-198, largely along party lines, the tax cut plan made it through the House Thursday and is now headed to the Senate. The bill is the first part of President Bush's proposed 10- year, $1.6 trillion tax cut.

Although many Democrats support decreasing taxes, they say the Bush plan is to large and tilted toward the wealthy. Mr. Bush, however, says his plan is not excessive.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some say my tax plan is too big. Others say it's too small. I respectfully disagree. This plan is just right.


The Senate, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, will not vote on the tax cut for several weeks. Every Republican House member who voted voted for the Bush tax cut plan. And all but 10 of the 207 Democrats who voted voted against it. Wolf Blitzer takes a closer look at the tax cut plan and why it's failed to receive bipartisan support.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a fierce debate as the House considered the fate of nearly a trillion dollars of President Bush's $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut plan.

REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Obviously the Beltway liberal elites just don't want tax relief. Well, they have delayed and obstructed long enough.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: But I must say, with all due respect, that this tax cut bill coming without a budget is another "my way or the highway" approach to legislating in this Congress.

BLITZER: Even before the final vote, President Bush said he was confident of victory in the House, and said the time has come for tax relief.

BUSH: It's needed not only to provide a kick start to our economy, it is needed because many Americans today are struggling to make ends meet.

BLITZER: Democrats favor a smaller tax cut. They insist the House should have first passed a budget to make sure the country can afford the Bush plan. And they worry the projected budget surpluses simply won't materialize.

REP. GERALD KLECZKA (D), WISCONSIN: My friends, how many of you would plan a vacation based on a 10-year weather forecast?

BLITZER: Republicans argue that if the money remains in Washington the federal government will simply spend it. Democrats say the Bush tax plan is merely an excuse to lower tax rates for the rich.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: And who pays for this gift to richest Americans? America's working families.

BLITZER: Mr. Bush may have won the battle in the House, but the real war will be fought in the evenly-divided Senate, which is now not expected to take up tax cuts before May at the earliest.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.


U.S. President Bush has mounted a major national campaign to win support for his tax cut plan.

Major Garrett looks at how Mr. Bush is using local media outlets to promote his plan and ensure its passage in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): St. Louis, President Bush arrives to tout education reform and tax cuts. The timing of the tax cut event is too late for the network evening news shows, leaving them in the dark, but not for St. Louis TV stations and the 1 million TV households they serve in Missouri and Illinois.


UNIDENTIFIED KDNL REPORTER: And now W. is looking forward to talking about T-A-X, taxes.


GARRETT: The next day, eastern Tennessee.


UNIDENTIFIED WATE ANCHOR: For tonight, we have complete team coverage of today's presidential visit.


GARRETT: Mr. Bush toured an elementary school in Townsend, Tennessee, a trip Knoxville TV stations covered exhaustively. Reporters from stations in Chattanooga were there, too. And by day's end, coverage of the Bush event, which received scant attention nationally, spread to part of six states and 780,000 TV households.

Last week, the President stopped in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. The cities are only few miles apart, but local TV coverage spread out across both states.


UNIDENTIFIED KETV REPORTER: A once-in-a-lifetime chance at an up-close and personal look at George W. Bush.


GARRETT: The White House says local coverage has sustained the president's message during what aides say has sometimes felt like a national news blackout.

BUSH: I'm also looking forward to continuing my trip around the country. We're off to North Dakota and South Dakota and Louisiana.

GARRETT: Playing to local media fits into the political strategy as well. Each stop on the president's current trip represents a legislative target. In the Dakotas, its Democrats Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan and Tim Johnson. Previous stops have targeted fence-sitting Republicans. Every stop is a test of Mr. Bush's ability to light a grassroots fire.

BUSH: I'll be going to states where we got a good chance of convincing members, and states where maybe there's some obstinance. GARRETT: Mr. Bush cannot light a fire from the Oval Office, but he can with crowds like this.

(on camera): The White House strategy is simple: go to the people and the people's local TV stations. As one White House aide put it, there's always an echo chamber out there, and our job is to make sure the president is in it once way or the other.

Major Garrett, CNN, the White House.



ANELIA DIMITROVA, CEDAR FALLS, IOWA: My name is Anelia Dimitrova from Cedar Falls, Iowa. And I want to ask CNN, why are the first 100 days critical to a new administration in the United States? And where does the tradition originate?

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Anelia, 100 days is an arbitrary number. However, it is rooted in American political tradition. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a 100-day plan. He, of course, came to office during the Great Depression and needed to convince the American people that there was urgency and a point to his mission, and that he had something to articulate and to get done.

Ronald Reagan had a 100-day plan, carefully crafted, that focused on the economy. It's also a way of challenging the Congress and capitalizing on a honeymoon that Lyndon Johnson noted frequently is all too short.

In the case of George W. Bush, with a very narrowly divided United States Congress and that disputed election, he has shied away from talking about a 100-day plan. In fact, they at this White House prefer to focus on 180 days because they feel it lowers expectations and it builds in enough time for Congress to get something done.

But 100 days, though arbitrary, is a number that Congress, the public, the press, and the presidents themselves often use to measure success and momentum.


HAYNES: In "Editor's Desk," the focus is film. No, not the kind that goes in your camera, of course, the Friday night version. Obviously not all films appeal to all people, so moviemakers market films to specific audiences.

Today, a movie targeted to Christians is getting extra shelf life because of a divine marketing strategy.

Casey Wian has more.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Calvary Chapel service in Long Beach, California, Pastor Roger Cochran preached the gospel of the Lord and of film distribution.

PASTOR ROGER COCHRAN, CALVARY CHAPEL: This is a movie called "Left Behind: The Movie," and it is playing over at the Carson Mall or...

WIAN: Cochran's mention of "Left Behind" is part of a novel marketing campaign that has tapped the power and reach of the Christian community. "Left Behind," which dramatizes the apocalypse, was released straight to video last year and has sold 2 1/2 million copies. But in a nearly unprecedented feat, the producers convinced theater-owners to re-release it on the big screen.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We've truly been blessed with a miracle.


WIAN: Recognizing a legion of foot soldiers, the film's producers mobilized the faithful. Churches became unofficial sponsors of the film, making a commitment of both money and time to promote it.

MARTIN GROVE, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.COM: It's hard to get theaters to take on product that doesn't look at least like it's going to have big box office potential. And when you come to them and you say, I've got this wonderful film, it's targeted to a very specific audience, and, by the way, we sold 2 1/2 million videocassettes a few months ago, are you interested? most theater managers would probably say, no.

WIAN: "Left Behind" rose from the obscurity of video because producers tapped the fervor of Christian pop culture. It's the latest example of capitalizing on a booming niche market. Sales of Christian music from Gospel to rock jumped more than 280 percent from 1990 to '99 to nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars. U.S. sales of Christian-related goods, including music and books, hit $3.5 billion last year.

FRANK BREEDEN, GOSPEL MUSIC ASSOCIATION: We see nothing but growth for the future because we have yet to exploit all of the Christians that are out there who buy products for their entertainment choices, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of mainstream retail.

WIAN: Producers say two sequels are in the works, and they're counting on the faithful to get the word out.

Casey Wian, CNN Financial News, Los Angeles.


HAYNES: Don't let "Worldview" bug you. We got the scoop on grasshoppers today as we take you to China. In Italy, we explore ancient art and new archaeological finds, and learn a bit about a famous poet. We also travel to Russia today. The Cold War may be over, but U.S.-Russia relations are still a bit frosty. We'll look at economic developments and get a civics lesson, too. First, we travel to the United kingdom, where an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is spreading.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Agriculture officials have now found eight new cases. And although the total number is over 100, it is expected to go even higher. Officials now say the disease has spread, but the only good news is the newest cases come from a single area in northeastern England.

At the same time, health officials are not predicting an end to the problem, saying it will not disappear at the end of this week, but the outbreak will last for a long time. The latest new cases of foot- and-mouth include a farm in Devon, where there are now 18 confirmed cases in that one farming community alone. Agricultural officials say the measures put in place to stop the disease from spreading are working, but...

NICK BROWN, BRITISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER: We're preventing new cases but are discovering far more cases incubating than perhaps was originally thought.

MINTIER: As the number of cases continues to climb, so do the effects on the population. The British Horse racing Board has postponed the three-day Cheltenham National Hunt Festival. That decision came after racing officials confirmed that suspect sheep were at the track last month where they are typically allowed to graze.

EDWARD GILLESPIE, CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE: We have a -- had a very small flock of sheep which had grazed in the center of the course. They were removed on the 14th of February, which meant that, previously, that was no problem. And suddenly, on counting the dates, we realized that that would take us to next Thursday. So we immediately informed BHB.

MINTIER: The meeting will now be scheduled for the end of April. More than 150,000 racing fans have tickets that will now be honored if and when the event is held.

The economic impact across Europe is starting to mount. The European Union has ordered all meat markets closed and has extended a ban on British meat and dairy products. Unemployment not only on the farms but in the downstream businesses like slaughterhouses and transportation of animals is widespread. Losses are already in the millions of dollars and, with no end to the crisis in sight, sure to grow.

Already, more than 60,000 animals have been slaughtered in Britain. With new cases on the new farms being discovered each day, that number is also expanding. Another 30,000 animals on farms where foot-and-mouth has been discovered are awaiting destruction.

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HAYNES: Democracy and communism, two words thrown around a lot when we talk about politics and current events. But what do they really mean? Democracy means a government in which the supreme power rests with the people and is exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically held free elections.

Communism is a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production. Russia has been a democratic country since the collapse of communism in 1991. Since then, the United States has offered financial support as the country makes the transition to democracy. But that may be changing now.

Steve Harrigan reports.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rules of the Western game are puzzling to schoolboys in the Russian village of Friazna (ph), but there's a referee to keep order and make sure the game is fair.

In the same gym where the children play, their parents vote for a new mayor and city council. For most of their lives, these officials were appointed. The last batch was thrown out after a court declared the election invalid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been living here for a long time and I know who is my pick, who is not.

HARRIGAN: After 10 years of cheering from the sidelines and modest financial aid, the U.S. is sending signals of a new policy towards Russia: disengagement.

(on camera): Citing widespread government corruption, Bush officials say there will be U.S. money to continue the work of nuclear disarmament, but for little else...

(voice-over): ... like a $4,000 grant to teach civics to 10th graders.

"Why are the ballots secret," she asks?

"So no one will try to influence your vote," he says.

In a country where the heat can be shut off and salaries not paid, learning how to take control over local government is a real concern, even for 15-year-olds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's like a civil war out there. This course teaches us how to make things more stable.

HARRIGAN: Disengagement comes at a time when a new generation, raised after the fall of communism, is eager to engage the West. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to broaden their horizons. They want to broaden their culture. When I come and teach and when I meet a new class, all they do is ask me a million questions: What's it like to live in America? How is it different?

HARRIGAN: Churches, culture and children get most of the attention and money from Russian charities, say aide workers. Almost nothing goes to less visible projects like trying to establish the rule of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no other sources, because without the U.S. support, they will not continue.

HARRIGAN: That means the children of Friazna may have to play by their own rules.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: On to Italy, a country known for its rich cultural heritage. Italian museums contain some of the world's best-known art. Countless visitors travel to Rome every year to see priceless collections. Many of the masterpieces found in Italy were created by legendary artists, like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rafael.

And many buildings throughout the country are considered important pieces of art in their own right. For example, the Coliseum in downtown Rome is one of the most famous surviving architectural marvels of the Roman Empire. And Europe's largest Christian church, St. Peter's Basilica, is located in Vatican City. Built in the 1500s, St. Peter's is considered an outstanding example of Renaissance architecture.

New and interesting pieces of Italy's cultural past are constantly being uncovered. One recent discovery was part of the home of the great Roman poet Ovid.

Gayle Young has the story.


GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No poet wants to be consigned to this trash heap of history, but that's almost what happened when workers uncovered the villa of the famed Roman poet Ovid while constructing a city's garbage depot. Ovid lived here on the banks of the Tiber River until sentenced to exile in the year 8 A.D.

GAETANO MESSINEO, ARCHAEOLOGIST (through translator): It is a notable discovery that's even more valuable because it's a place where one of the greatest poets in Rome lived.

YOUNG: Not long ago, the city would have removed these beautiful floors to a museum and continued building the trash department storage facility. But this time, it was decided to wrap the new building around of the excavation, cover the ancient area with Plexiglas and allow workers and visitors to enjoy the site.

"We're happy because we'll be working next to something of great aesthetic value," says the director.

It's not the first time the past and present have coexisted on the same spot. These Roman tombs are incorporated into a shopping complex that offers a drug store and cappuccino bar.

It's almost impossible to dig around Rome without uncovering something old and interesting. Archaeologists now say, if possible, it's better to keep the treasures at the site rather than move them to a museum.

MESSINEO (through translator): Something that's found in a certain spot should remain there because that is where it has meaning.

YOUNG: So in his exiled grave, Ovid may rest assured that while his home may not be exactly how he left it, at least it's where he left it.

Gayle Young, CNN, Rome.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: A closer look now at a common insect famous for its jumping ability: the grasshopper. With six legs, two pairs of wings and five eyes, this creature has no trouble living up to its name. It can leap 20 times the length of its own body.

Grasshoppers live in many habitats, but are found most commonly in lowland tropical forests, semiarid regions and, you guessed it, grasslands. They subsist on plant leaves and are hunted by birds, frogs and snakes.

Ranging in color from green to brown to yellow, grasshoppers sometimes undergo seasonal color changes. The males make chirping noises similar to those of a cricket. These insects are often considered pests, destroying crops such as lettuce and potato plants. But in some parts of the world, grasshoppers are enjoyed as food: dried, jellied, roasted and dipped in honey, or even ground into meal.

Yet in China, they're revered for another reason.

Matt Walsh reports on the grasshopper's role as part of the family.


MATT WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This open-air market in Beijing looks like any one of thousands of such markets across China. But this one is a bit unusual. It offers everything you might ever need for the care and feeding of your pet -- your pet grasshopper, that is.

People in China have been keeping grasshoppers as pets for generations. Many say the insect's chirping sound provides a soothing accompaniment on long winter days. And as with any pet, there's the satisfaction that comes with caring for a living creature.

So how does one take up the grasshopper hobby? A visit to grasshopper breeder Lan Yinzhu would be a good start. The self- described insect artisan is keeping alive a family tradition begun by his great-grandfather in the Ching dynasty. And Lan says he'd like to see the tradition passed down to another generation.

LAN YINZHU, GRASSHOPPER BREEDER (through translator): My kids are still young so I don't know if they're interested in grasshoppers. It's still too early to say whether they'll carry on the family tradition. I hope this hobby becomes more popular in Beijing. If my kids aren't interested in grasshoppers, I'm willing to teach the art to my friends.

WALSH: Lan has taken on an apprentice who helps him in his grasshopper enterprise. He's teaching all he knows about grasshopper husbandry to his young helper. Years of experience have taught him how to breed the fattest and loudest insects that can fetch the best price.

Before taking them to market, Lan applies resin to the wings of his grasshoppers. He says this makes the insect's chirping sound sweeter, making the pet even more valuable. That's part of the family tradition handed down to him by his father many years ago, and a tradition he hopes will continue for years to come.

Matt Walsh, CNN.


HAYNES: It is a sad reality: Some kids can be very cruel to one another. And it's especially mean when that cruelty is directed at a disabled child. The issue is something educators decided to do something about. The result: The Kids on the Block, a traveling puppet troupe teaching kids to accept each other regardless of their differences.

Our Shelley Walcott took in a performance in Nashville, Tennessee.


WALCOTT (voice-over): At first glance, it looks like any other puppet show. But this performance isn't all fun and games.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: You mean you don't ever, ever, ever, ever walk?

WALCOTT: Take a closer look at the puppets. Mark is in a wheelchair and has cerebral palsy.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: We're afraid of you, you know, because you're -- well -- retarded.

WALCOTT: Ellen Jane (ph) has Down syndrome.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: If you can't see anything, then, like, how do you get dressed in the morning.

WALCOTT: And Reynaldo (ph) is blind. They are the Kids on the Block, just a few of the characters from a traveling show teaching children about people with disabilities.

GRACE LUND, PUPPETEER: It doesn't really matter how many kids you reach, it's really that they can relate and talk to the puppets. The puppets are nonthreatening.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: I'm not afraid of you either. You are really, really nice.

WALCOTT (on camera): The Kids on the Block was founded in 1977. That was the year a federal law was passed requiring students with disabilities be included in the classroom with their nondisabled peers. As a result, some educators found their students needed a little sensitivity training.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: Too bad you can't do other stuff like play baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I play baseball.

WALCOTT (voice-over): The performances, like this one in Nashville, Tennessee, are designed for children in grades 2 through 6, featuring physically challenged characters and others facing issues like child abuse, AIDS, and teen pregnancy.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: Hey, Reynaldo, if you're blind, like, how do you eat your food?

WALCOTT: Children watch and listen as the puppets have very frank conversations. They are then encouraged to ask the puppets questions.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: How do you get to your room?

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: How do I get to my room? Well, see, my house is only one story, so...

LUND: The kids will open up to the puppets. One of our characters has been sexually abused and so -- and then another one has been physically abused, so sometimes they'll, you know, raise their hand and during the question and answer session and say, those things happened to me, too. And then afterwards we can, you know, do whatever's necessary, if we need to talk to the Department of Children's Services or get them the help that they need.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: If you have a question, just raise your...

WALCOTT: The children are usually very receptive.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: I cannot see their hands.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: Oh. CONNIE BROOKS, PUPPETEER: Sometimes we might have to wait a minute for that first hand to go up. But once we do, it's -- usually, we are leaving hands up. And that's frustrating to us.

WALCOTT (on camera): So, Ryan, what did you think of the puppet show?

RYAN RHODES, AGE 8: I thought it was nice.


RHODES: Because it teaches me not to tease anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: Whoa, I wish that kids never teased me, but sometimes they do.

WALCOTT: Do you know any kids with disabilities who may be blind or in a wheelchair?


WALCOTT: And if you do meet any kids like that, how do you think you'll treat them after seeing this puppet show?

THICKLIN: Nice and don't tease. And I'll help them be my friend.

WALCOTT (voice-over): The Kids on the Block as active troupes throughout the United States and the world. The group receives funding from the Memorial Foundation, the United Way and private donors, so all of the performances are free of charge.

The puppeteers say the results of their work is priceless.

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPET: My momma said sometimes to find out about a person, you just have to ask questions.

BROOKS: We are presenting facts. And once a child really knows that fact, then they make smarter choices.

WALCOTT: Shelley Walcott, CNN, NEWSROOM.


HAYNES: Making a positive impact on some impressionable kids.

One more thing before we go. We leave you with these parting shots of the space shuttle lifting off yesterday morning. It headed to the international space station. That is beautiful, in the dawn hours down in Florida.

Take care. Thanks for joining us on a Friday. And we'll see you back here on Monday.



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