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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 23, 2001

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


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

Today's show begins with an ending. Topping our news agenda: The world says goodbye to the Russian space station Mir. Now hold onto your life raft, as our "Daily Desk" gets shipwrecked with this Oscar contender. Then "Worldview" heads to Japan to meet the woman responsible for making the Web handy for thousands. And, finally, we'll meet a pioneer in American politics: Shirley Chisholm.

The Russian space station Mir, in orbit for 15 years, takes a fiery plunge into the South Pacific and marks an end to an era in space exploration. Russian space officials controlled the aging craft's descent, as they brought it back into the Earth's atmosphere with a series of rocket thrusts.

Launched by the Soviet Union in 1986, Mir has spent more time in orbit than any other space station. Aside from the moon, Mir is the heaviest object to ever orbit Earth. It has hosted astronauts from around the world. They performed such experiments as growing wheat, built semiconductors and studied the effects of long-term weightlessness on humans. In recent years, however, Mir became prone to accidents and breakdowns.

Scientists say it would have been possible to salvage Mir, but it would have taken as many as six space shuttle missions to do so. The financial cost of that and the risk to the lives of the astronauts who would have carried out those missions deterred scientists from attempting to salvage Mir.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be the most expensive vacation resort -- well, not on Earth, but orbiting more than 100 miles above it.

The Russian Mir space station is set to become the destination for well-heeled tourists with deep pockets. A private company called MirCorp announced a deal in London to rent the former Soviet space station for an initial investment of $20 million U.S. dollars.


BAKHTIAR: Mir's return to Earth brings attention to another space station's frightening reentry years ago. The American space station Skylab fell back to Earth uncontrolled in 1979. And it reaffirmed to scientists that what goes up must come down.

Miles O'Brien looks back at that mission.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skylab, we read you loud and clear.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Skylab, the first and only American space station, was an afterthought, a clever cobbling of leftover pieces from Apollo. The spacious living quarters was a converted booster of one of the mighty Saturn V rockets, designed to carry men to the moon.

GLYNN LUNNEY, FORMER NASA FLIGHT DIRECTOR: In many respects, it was significantly ahead of it's time, I mean, in terms of volume and power and the kind of instruments that we had on board. This was a very sophisticated platform that we sent three crews to.

O'BRIEN: Three crews of three spent a total of 171 days aboard the outpost in 1973 and '74. They studied the sun, gazed at the earth, blew bubbles, and became Guinea pigs for a raft of rigorous medical experiments.

CHRIS KRAFT, FORMER NASA FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Everything you can talk about, it was done to look at mans response to long periods of being in space, and I think it was superb. It was done superb. I don't think anything has come close to it since.

DICK SMITH, FORMER NASA ADMINISTRATOR: We learned, I think, more about the input/output of a human being than we ever knew before.

O'BRIEN: But what a tangled web this space agency had woven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spider appears to adapt relatively well to zero G.

O'BRIEN: Because not only was Skylab's creation an afterthought, so was it's demise. There was no plan to bring down the 200,000 pound outpost in a controlled manner. Advanced as it was, Skylab was not equipped with the engines and fuel to guide it through a precise reentry, and NASA did not have a space tug that it could send to do the job. Skylab was destined to return to earth uncontrolled.

SMITH: I think it was not irresponsible. It was a first step. The risk was looked at initially, and the risk was very, very low. And therefore, it was considered an acceptable risk for the science we were getting out of it.

O'BRIEN: Many NASA engineers hoped the new space shuttle would be ready to save the day, but Skylab was dropping faster than expected and by 1979 the abandoned station was on the precipice and the word spread fast.

SMITH: It started getting a lot of publicity. People were talking about Chicken Little, the sky is falling.

O'BRIEN: Dick Smith led NASA's efforts to try and stave off disaster. He and his team watched in horror on July 11, 1979 when Skylab began it's final plunge.

SMITH: We saw it was coming in on a track up over the, basically over Seattle, up over Canada, and back across the New York area, and that if we tumbled it, it should, we thought, would carry it into the South Atlantic ocean.

O'BRIEN: Commanding the station to tumble did extend it's flight, but a lot farther than the NASA team expected. Skylab overshot the Atlantic and, in a matter of minutes, offered this light show as it hit the atmosphere over the Western Outback of Australia.

Several pieces struck the surface. The only thing hurt, NASA's pride.

LUNNEY: In retrospect, I think we should design these things with the capability to bring them down. Because they're finite in life and even if it's not technical, there will be reasons why a platform like that would want to be deorbited at sometime.

O'BRIEN: So, even as NASA and it's international partners build their brand new space station, Alpha, there is a detailed plan to safely deep-six the outpost when it's days are over. It's modeled after the Russian effort to bring down Mir.

There won't be another Skylab. The space station afterthought has led to a lot more forethought.

Miles O'Brien, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: He's been called Hollywood's nice guy and one of the most beloved American actors. Oscar-winning Tom Hanks is nominated for another Academy Award for "Cast Away." If he wins this weekend, it would be his third best actor Academy Award.

Now Lauren Hunter takes a closer look at the work of Tom Hanks and the characteristics that may account for his mass appeal.


LAUREN HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Hanks epitomizes the decent, likable everyman. He's one of the top moneymakers in Hollywood, and only the second actor in history to win back-to-back Oscars, for "Philadelphia" in 1993 and "Forrest Gump" in 1994.




HUNTER: Hanks' best actor nod for "Cast Away" is his fifth Oscar nomination, for a story he calls a Zen fable.

HANKS: He's not a superman. And when you're hanging a big chunk of the movie on the idea that it's really hard to make fire...


HANKS: I have made fire!


HANKS: ... you're out there on the line and you'd better be able to deliver the goods.

HUNTER: Hanks has been able to deliver the goods in most of his movies, from "The Green Mile" to "You've Got Mail"; "Sleepless in Seattle" to "Splash."


HANKS: Houston, we have a problem.


HUNTER: Hanks says he strives for artistic integrity in his acting, even putting his body on the line: astronaut training for "Apollo 13," basic training in "Saving Private Ryan." He gained 30 pounds for his role in "A League of Their Own" and lost 50 for "Cast Away."

HANKS: It's the only thing anybody cares about, and you've got to like address it. And everybody's, oh, how'd you do it? And that's not a glamorous answer either, you know. How do you grow a beard, exactly? Well, here, I'm growing one right now. And losing the weight was just time and discipline.

HUNTER: "Cast Away" likely provides Hanks his most unique co- star: a volleyball named Wilson.


HANKS: You wouldn't have a match by any chance, would you?


HANKS: He has the best lines in the movie. No one ever hears them but me. But I -- we all knew exactly what the conversation was. He asks questions, and I ask him questions; and he gives me answers and I answer him, you just don't hear them. But that doesn't make them any less palpable.

HUNTER: Hanks already won a Golden Globe for "Cast Away," but that and his earlier double date with Oscar's golden boy hasn't prepared him for this year's awards frenzy.

HANKS: The whole season is a wild, wild ride and you just -- if you happen to see a torpedo passing and you can grab hold of it, you just hold on for as long as you can.

HUNTER: An e-ticket ride for one of Hollywood's most versatile actors.

Lauren Hunter, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.



REBECCA FOSTER, HARTVILLE, OHIO: Hello, my name is Rebecca Foster. I'm from Hartville, Ohio. And my question is "How are the Oscar winners decided?"

BRUCE DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES: It's a complicated process. And it starts out with the first round of voting, where we determine the nominees.

The ballot, as you see, is very low-tech. We don't have any chads or butterflies. We don't have any confusing configurations of candidates. In fact, no candidates are listed: five blank lines. That's true for all the ballots in all the categories. The only way you can mess this up is to have terrible handwriting.

Voting is done just by the specialists in a given area. So you have ballots going out to Steven Spielberg and Angieszka Holland and Bobby Farrelly, and they're all working on who did the best jobs of directing for the year. Then you have another set of ballots that are going out to the actors -- Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson -- and they all work on who did the best jobs of acting.

Those ballots all separately come into PricewaterhouseCoopers, and they tell us who the nominees are going to be.

The final ballot that goes out has all of the categories on it, and you can vote in any area in which you've seen all of the nominees. And the counting there is much simpler: Basically, PricewaterhouseCoopers makes five piles for each category; whoever has the biggest pile goes home with the gold.

GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: And the Oscar goes to...


BAKHTIAR: We continue our celebration of Women's History Month in "Worldview" today. Our stories take us to Japan to meet a wizard of the Web and to China to learn how small business loans are pulling women out of poverty and raising their status as well. Plus, we head to a college campus in the United States to talk about role models.

Women's History Month continues throughout March. And today, we take a look at some phenomenal women who have made their mark in the world. It might be in the world of politics, the arts or public service. You probably have your own favorite role models. Well, today, we take a role call of sorts to find out who's made an impression.

Our Kathy Nellis has this report.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As we celebrate Women's History Month, what role models come to mind? Maybe you think about the late Diana, princess of Wales, who supported many charitable causes, including AIDS research and a ban on land mine. Or what about Sally Ride, the U.S. astronaut who become the first American women to travel in space?

The sky is the limit when it comes to role models these days, particularly when you talk to students enrolled in women's studies programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess some female role models that I have, for America, I would have to go with Wonder Woman, who was made in 1941 to be a role model for females. And she kicks major butt. And Amelia Earhart is another good female role model -- Janis Joplin, Elizabeth Dole, Hillary Clinton. And international female role models: I am a big admirer of Mother Teresa.

NELLIS: Mother Teresa is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor in India. And you probably know Elizabeth Dole for her long career in public service in the United States, as well as her stint as the president of the American Red Cross and her brief run for the United States presidency.

While she stands as a role model, she encourages women to go out and make their own mark. In her words: "Women share with men the need for personal success, even the taste for power. And no longer are we willing to satisfy those needs through the achievements of surrogates, whether husbands, children or merely role models."

In other words, don't just have a role model: be a role model. Some women have achieved such status that they are recognized merely by their first names: Cher, of course: Pocahantas; and Oprah. Television personalities are on the top of some role model lists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My two favorite would have to be, like, Oprah and Martha Stewart. I love both of them. Oprah just seems like she has overcome a lot of obstacles in her life, I mean, starting as a young child. And I just -- I really admire her for how much she has today that she has done by herself and her own. I think it shows she is very independent.

And the same for Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart seems like she can do anything. You know, like one quote is she can get up and have the chickens fed and bake a cake and build a shed all before noon. You know, I mean, like, she can do anything, all those women stereotypical things that she can do. But she can do a lot of things, you know, building, which you associate with men doing, building a shed, or doing those types of things that she can just do anything. Those are my role models.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, I would say the biggest female role model would be Madonna, because she came from -- she didn't have a mother growing up. And she just went to New York with 30-something dollars and just made it all on her own. And she attacks a lot of issues that most women wouldn't want to talk about, like sexuality and racism and stuff like that.

And even though she got a really bad rep, I don't know, I think she did a lot for women.

NELLIS: Madonna pushes others to succeed and take their place in the spotlight with this lyrical challenge: "Everybody is a star. You know who you are. This is your chance to shine. It's got to come from the heart. Do it right from the start and step into the light."

Each woman has that light and is a link in the history of women, say instructors at the University of Georgia.

PAT DEL REY, DIRECTORS, WOMEN'S STUDIES, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: We try to look at the ordinary women also. We try and say that those -- there are -- they have been famous women. But like: What was my grandmother doing or my -- you know, someone in my family?

And we try and link with the history that we have just as human beings.

TAMMY CORLEY, WOMEN'S STUDIES, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: The women that I celebrate are women, of course, like my mother. But the truly strong women, the truly phenomenal women are the everyday women -- the strength of a single mother, for example, who raises her children by herself -- truly phenomenal women.

NELLIS: In the words of French feminist Simone de Beauvoir: "One is not born a woman; one becomes one" -- something to celebrate this month and every month.

Kathy Nellis, CNN, Athens, Georgia.


BAKHTIAR: More on women as we turn to China, one of the world's most populated countries. But today, we head to a remote region in China's far west. It's called Xinjiang. Today, we focus on a program that is raising the status of women in the region, not only helping them to provide for their families, but enabling them to become powerful voices in their communities.

Rebecca MacKinnon has more.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life in the Muslim villages of southern Xinjiang province has never been easy. Many families make less than $100 per person per year; 50-year-old Buaishan Todai (ph) has pulled her family out of poverty with the help of a $70 loan she got four years ago to start a carpet-weaving business.

She says she bought sheep with the profits, then cows, which turned into a yogurt business and a store. Now she's sending her daughter to college.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the application forms.

MACKINNON: For the past four years, the Canadian Cooperative Association has given tiny business loans to over a thousand local Muslim women. Some weave carpets. Others grow vegetables or raise livestock. Their new income has raised the status of women in the community.

MIRIBAN ROUSIMAMAIT, LOCAL OFFICIAL (through translator): Traditionally, people here believed women could only care for their children and husbands. Now they are making decisions for their families and communities.

MACKINNON: As a result, more families are sending their daughters to school.

(on camera): The project's Canadian donors also have another goal: helping local communities take greater control over their own lives and getting the government to listen to them, not just make decisions for them.

SUE CAREY, CANADIAN COOPERATIVE ASSOC.: Most people who are responsible for the poor don't have a lot of confidence in them. And they can cite all kinds of examples why they think it's really valid.

MACKINNON: Women like Bahar Gul (ph) are proving that conventional wisdom wrong, making sure all the loans in her village get paid back.

"Our next step," she says, "is to form a credit cooperative and fund a day care center so that all village women will have more time to make more money."

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Hotian, China.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More on women and business, as we turn to another Asian nation: Japan. Japan is in the midst of an Internet revolution. Business is booming for a company that handles mobile phones capable of accessing the Internet. It's captured about three- fourths of Japan's wireless Web market.

Marina Kamimura introduces us to the inspiration behind this technology.


MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's credited with putting the wireless Web into the palms of millions of Japanese, and along the way, making NTT DoCoMo's i-mode mobile synonymous with the cutting edge of the Internet world, all the more amazing when you hear that only three short years ago, Mari Matsunaga resented carrying a mobile phone.

MARI MATSUNAGA, JAPANESE WEB SITE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF (through translator): When it comes to technology, I am not good with it. In fact, I am rather weak.

KAMIMURA: But according to Matsunaga, that's precisely why NTT DoCoMo bypassed legions of engineers and turned to her when Japan's cell phone giant was looking for a way to add data services to its mobile phones. Back in 1997, Matsunaga was an editor for a leading Japanese publisher. While she certainly had no grand visions for the Internet at the time, what she did have was a track record for designing magazines that showed a knack for knowing what consumers want.

MATSUNAGA (through translator): Through my experience editing magazines, I trained myself always to think as a user.

KAMIMURA (on camera): Matsunaga says she realized three years ago that most Japanese were just like her: lukewarm to a technology called the Internet, which seemed to many more hassle than it was worth.

(voice-over): The only way Matsunaga could see the Japanese warming to a phone with access to the Internet was to disassociate it from the Net.

MATSUNAGA (through translator): We wanted ordinary consumers to use the service. We knew the key was somehow allowing phone users to move onto the Internet, almost without realizing it.

KAMIMURA: Instead, Matsunaga convinced DoCoMo's engineers to come up with a phone that could function as a personal concierge, giving consumers instant access to special nuggets of information, like a restaurant guide or theater tickets. And voila, i-mode was born: snapping up 13 million subscribers in just 20 months.

Although she has moved on from the i-mode business per se, Matsunaga has decided to stick with the Internet business for now. She left DoCoMo to launch a new venture with a friend, this time as the editor-in-chief of a Web site designed to empower Japan's working women. And, yes, today, while she still admits she's no technological guru, Matsunaga carries her i-mode wherever she goes.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.


BAKHTIAR: Today in "Chronicle": a conversation with Shirley Chisholm. In 1972, she ran for the nomination for U.S. president as a candidate on the Democratic Party ticket. Prior to that, she made a name for herself as the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, a post she held from 1969 to 1983. Chisholm was born in Brooklyn in New York City and raised in Barbados.

Here's an account of her quest for America's highest office in her own words.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first African-American woman ever to run for president of the United States: Shirley Chisholm!


SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I always wanted to help people. I've always wanted to be of service. And because I was so very full of confidence and not afraid of anything or anybody, I just proceeded along the line. And people began to recognize in me that I had some kind of leadership. And that's how I really got into politics. It was people.

The fact that I had confidence in myself helped me tremendously. I know I first thought about this presidency business when we had an assemblyman came to Brooklyn College when I was attending college at that time. It was my sophomore year. And he said: "One day -- one day, the black people will emerge. But they're always going to need a white man to hold their hands."

That kind of spurred me a bit. And from that time on, I began to become interested in the political world. My friends thought I was loony, because: Whoever heard of a black woman running for the presidency of this country? And there's two states, Florida and Minnesota, that raised $10,000 each to make me run for president. They said: "You can speak Spanish. You have a knowledge of the issues. You hold your own, Shirley. You've got to run because we need to think of a woman being president some day. And we also need to think of a black person being president. And you're Spanish. You've got everything."

And that's what compelled me to run. I knew I couldn't be president, but I wanted to feel that the possibility would come someday that a black person or a female person could be president of this United States. Oh, I was frightened, of course. There were attempted assassinations on my life when I ran for the presidency. I don't ever talk about that. I don't want to talk about that, you see.

But there were attempted assassinations on me in parts of the South. So I -- but I didn't have time to be afraid, because this mission that I was supposed to be on was driving me. It was so important. Look, I bear a double jeopardy: Not only am I a female, but I'm black. And that's a double jeopardy that I had to contend with.

I would like to be remembered as a woman who happened to be black, and in the late 20th century, decided to be a catalyst for change in this society.


BAKHTIAR: Shirley Chisholm won 152 delegates before withdrawing from the presidential race. Since retiring from Congress, she has written two books and is active on the lecture circuit.

Well, next week, we'll feature another political trailblazer: U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

But before we leave you, we have this: In a story Tuesday, we reported that "Principles of Economics" was the top-selling college text book. That was an error. According to the independent research firm Monument Information Resource, the top-selling college text through December 2000 was "Economics" by McConnell and Brue.

That's it from us today. Have a great weekend.

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