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NEWSROOM for April 6, 2001

Aired April 6, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Your week wouldn't be complete without a Friday NEWSROOM. I'm Tom Haynes and here's what's coming up.

The latest on the standoff between the United States and China is today's "Top Story." "Editor's Desk" takes a look back in time when kids not much older than you were dealing with segregation. Then "Worldview" goes to South Africa, where segregation is still an issue facing young people. Finally, a nuts and bolts approach to "Chronicle." One of the greatest inventors of our time shows kids the tricks of the trade.

But first, relations between the United States and China grow more tense as the standoff over a U.S. Navy plane and its crew continues. The surveillance plane has been grounded on China's Hainan Island since Sunday. That's when it made an emergency landing after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

U.S. President Bush is demanding the safe and fast return of the 24 American servicemen and women being held in China. Chinese authorities, however, say they have the right to investigate Sunday's incident and question the crew members in the process. Both countries blame each other for the collision. However, the White House says the two countries are "heavily engaged in the search for a solution."

With relations being so strained between the U.S. and China, some people in Washington believe now may be the time to leverage and strengthen ties with other Asian countries. In fact, the top diplomat of India, China's nuclear neighbor, has begun a previously scheduled visit to Washington to discuss building new partnerships.

U.S. President Bush offered his prayers and regrets Thursday for the loss of the Chinese pilot involved in the weekend plane collision. The Chinese fighter jet crashed into the South China Sea and the pilot, Wang Wei, has been missing ever since. The search continues, but he's presumed dead.

Mike Chinoy has more on that and the condition of U.S.-Chinese relations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over the South China Sea, Chinese helicopters search for Wang Wei, the 32-year-old fighter pilot who's been missing since his F-8 jet collided with the U.S. spy plane on Sunday.

President Jiang Zemin has made the search for Wang a top priority and Chinese ships and planes have been combing the waters southeast of Hainan Island, where the incident took place.

Meanwhile, the Chinese state run media has begun to portray Wang as a national hero. His photo has been splashed on television and in newspapers. Media accounts have hailed him as an outstanding pilot, although some Western press reports quote U.S. military officials as saying that Wang had previously flown dangerously close to other U.S. surveillance planes.

U.S. acknowledgement of China's grief over Wang's fate and how Beijing handles the reaction of its own people to his disappearance has emerged as a crucial element in resolving the crisis and the fact that Beijing chose Thursday to launch its propaganda campaign about him could be a significant move.

April 5 is Qing Ming, the day that Chinese traditionally commemorate their dead. If China wanted to bring this issue to closure, Qing Ming would be an appropriate time to start. Indeed, many analysts believe that ending the search and declaring Wang dead is an essential step before China will feel able to let the U.S. air crew leave. The fact that Beijing has now begun to eulogize its lost flier appears to be an important sign that moment could be approaching.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Hong Kong.


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 plans.

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.

HAYNES: Today's "Daily Desk" reflects on a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling you probably studied in class, the 1954 case, "Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education." The ruling formally ended racial segregation in U.S. schools. Seven years later, one of the oldest state universities in the country, the University of Georgia, enrolled its first black students.

CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault was one of them and here is her story.


CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN JOHANNESBURG BUREAU CHIEF: I remember it was a very crisp, cold January day when my mother in one car, Vernon Jordan and I set out for Athens. We drove down and just drove up to the campus, and there were crowds of white students at that time waiting to see us walk through those arches. And while many of them were hostile and they were yelling "nigger" and "nigger, go home," and "two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate," there were a lot of them that were just there, you know, to see what was going on, just out of curiosity.

So on the one hand, I felt and heard some of the nastiness. But on the other hand, I didn't feel that it was oppressive or overwhelming. I remember thinking, you know, we've come this far and we're almost done, and it's almost about to be the real thing. We're about to be enrolled, when all of a sudden we -- we heard a cheer go up, and we heard that the state had been granted a stay of the integration order.

The lawyers went to Atlanta to argue that the -- that there was no reason for this stay of the order to have been handed down. So they argued and won a continuance of the registration within a period of a few hours.

Throughout the night on Monday night, and they start also on Tuesday, they were beating on the steel -- on the floor, their floor, so that the noise would disturb me downstairs. But I sort of got used to that, when suddenly I heard a brick crash through the window. And I just sort of turned around, almost in slow motion, and went in to look because instinctively I think I knew what it was, but also I couldn't believe it. And sure enough, a brick had been thrown through the window, and it had splattered glass all over my clothes that I hadn't unpacked all in a suitcase.

And I just remember thinking at that point so this is how it is in the middle of a riot. They use tear gas eventually to disperse the crowds outside. It took a long time, though, for that to happen, long time for the police to finally arrive, almost as if it had been planned.

The dean came and got me, walked me out and all the girls in the dorm had come down to watch me leave. As I walked past this crowd, one of them threw a quarter in front of me on the floor and said, "Here, Charlayne, come and change my sheets." That was because they had been told that the tear gas had golden into their sheets, and in order to keep it out of their eyes, they were going to have to change all the bedding. That was just, I guess, meant to be one final blow.

But instead, you know, of making me angry, it stiffened my resolve. I didn't know how we were going to come back, I didn't know what the route would be, but I knew we would be back.

Over that weekend, our lawyers went to court, got us readmitted, and we came back on Monday. And from that point on, although there were many unpleasantries, for the most part, things settled down because I think it was beginning to dawn on the people who were fomenting this trouble - not students, I don't think, in the main -- that the law was going to have to be obeyed and that we were there to stay.

Opening up the university opened up the entire state. The walls of segregation just came tumbling down. And of course, we were a part of a larger movement. I hope that people passing through that building will learn patience and will learn perseverance and, as the old spiritual, says will walk and never get weary.


HAYNES: In our "Desk" segment, you heard about changes in race discrimination. Well, that theme continues in World View as we turn from the United States to South Africa, where Charlayne Hunter-Gault returns once again with an in depth look this time at the transformation which has occurred in education.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: South Africa lies on the southern tip of the African continent. The country is rich in natural resources and is the most highly industrialized country in Africa. Despite South Africa's resources and beautiful landscape, it has been troubled by violence and isolated by other countries because of its racial policies.

South Africa was the last African country to be ruled by a white minority. From the late 1940s until the early 1990s, the white run government enforced a policy of segregation called apartheid. It denied voting privileges and other rights to the black majority.

South Africa finally extended voting rights to all races in 1993 and the following year South Africa's white leaders handed over power to the country's first multi-racial government. Seven years later, observers say South Africa has come a long way.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports.


HUNTER-GAULT: If ever there was an institution that resembled the University of Georgia and its historic racial legacy, it was this one, Rau Afrikaans University, founded almost 35 years ago solely to educate Afrikaans-speaking white students, no doubt to take their place alongside the Afrikaaner ruling class of the country's racially segregated society.

Known as apartheid, it relegated blacks to segregated, separate and woefully unequal places, including in higher education.

(voice-over): Now, seven years after apartheid ended with a black-led government taking over, two of the finalists in this Rau tradition, the Rag Queen Festival, are black, as are many of the participants. They and close to 8,000 other black students are here, 42 percent of the total, along with Indians - one a finalist in the festival and so-called coloreds. Most the beneficiaries of law passed three years ago compelling higher education institutions to provide measures for the redress of past inequities forbidding such institutions to unfairly discriminate in any way - unapologetic affirmative action aimed at what is known here not as desegregation, but transformation.

Given my own experience of being a first, I sought out a student who had been among the first admitted to Rau. I was led to Brenda Radebe. Admitted in 1991, even before apartheid ended, but only to attend night classes. It wasn't a mob she had to face, it was language -- Afrikaans.

BRENDA RADEBE, LECTURER: So all the lectures would be in Afrikaans, and we're totally lost, no acknowledgment as well to say, you know, if you like, you can contribute in English or whatever.

HUNTER-GAULT: With the help of some sympathetic Afrikaaner students, Radebe got through it and went on to earn her master's degree in clinical psychology. In 1997, she returned to Rau, this time hired as a lecturer.

RADEBE: The process, like she says, of looking at options.

HUNTER-GAULT: One consequence of transformation, students can elect to take their classes in Afrikaans or in English. Black and English-speaking students tend to choose classes taught by English speakers. Afrikaaner students by and large stick to the classes taught in Afrikaans.

UNIDENTIFIED LECTURER: Scientists usually work within a theological framework.

HUNTER-GAULT: Since the higher education act calling for transformation came into being, Rau has recruited some of South Africa's best black academics, like Sevid Mashego, a zoology professor and former head of one of the country's historically disadvantaged, or all black, African universities. This is a class for honors students. For most, their first black professor.

GORDON O'BRIEN, HONORS STUDENT: It's new to us, I must say. It is. We're all developing. We're changing. It's a difference. But no, I haven't come across anyone specifically that has had any problems with any black professors, not at all.

HUNTER-GAULT: Despite their acceptance, the few black professors here worry about another legacy of apartheid.

CONNIE MOLOI, SENIOR LECTURER: When you look at the kinds of degrees that they are doing, they are not the key degrees. For instance, you don't find any black students in degrees such as engineering, in the sciences. You find the greatest percentage doing arts, visual arts, and in our case, most of them are in education.

HUNTER-GAULT: Blacks are continuing to follow traditional career fields established during apartheid when they were limited by law as to what fields they could pursue. Moreover, most black students enter university after attending schools still suffering from the inequities of apartheid.

SEVID MASHEGO, PROFESSOR: I'm also a product of, you know, of a black township. I grew up in Soweto. The schools are definitely not equipped at all. When I was studying mathematics and physical science and so on at a school where there were no laboratories whatsoever. Everything had to be done theoretically by studying the books.

HUNTER-GAULT: Rau has established a special high school near its campus to help disadvantaged students overcome that legacy. The school's headmaster says its success, a 100 percent pass rate and the government's emphasis on affirmative action at every level of society, has led to private sector scholarships, a kind of down payment on well-trained future black employees.

When I saw this ritual during freshman orientation week at Rau, my mind went back to less innocent freshman week rituals at the University of Georgia, especially among the Greek letter organizations, one of which used to proudly display the confederate flag, a symbol of the old South and slavery.

Symbols of the old confederacy could still be seen flying around the campus this year amid much controversy. I talked with some black students here at Rau who complained about its rituals, not so demeaning as foreign and uncomfortable. No problem for Phatudi Mogashwa, who accepts not only Afrikaans, but the Afrikaaner nickname the upperclassmen gave him, Ketting Uk (ph), chain eye.

Remembering that the black student protests against being taught in Afrikaans in 1976 was a defining moment in the black liberation struggle, I asked Mogashwa, whose native language is northern Sutu, what had changed.

PHATUDI MOGASHWA, STUDENT: Well, basically, like it's a rumination and it's actually quite cool because they, I sometimes teach in my language, you know? They catch the envy and it's awesome because it's changed dramatically because, you know, it's amazing, actually. I feel at home with them here.

CAREL CRONJE, STUDENT: We don't see color anymore. We like all students.

HUNTER-GAULT: But some students complained about the appearance of subtle forms of discrimination, especially in the assigning of spaces to black students in the residences, echoes of the discrimination I faced at the University of Georgia when I was placed in a two-room suite on a floor with no other students.

SHARON NKOMO, FORMER RAU STUDENT: I think it's much easier for white people to get in than for black people to do so because no matter when you go, when you go talk to them, usually, normally you have to go there all the time to remind them, to ask them if there's any openings and all that. You find that, you know, your name isn't moving. They keep on telling you you're number 23. You stay there, you know? You're not moving.

HUNTER-GAULT: The university says there's no such intent but acknowledges it may have failed to communicate that. Black students say communication could be improved if they could talk to people in authority who look like them.

DELANI MABASO, STUDENT: If you have a complaint and you feel that white people are doing this to you, the last person you'd want - the last thing you'd want to do is to go to a white person and tell them, no, you're doing this to me.

HUNTER-GAULT: It may be a comfort factor, but students on this campus do tend to gravitate toward their own ethnic groups. Despite the problems, the recently retired head of the university says he's proud of what Rau has been able to achieve.

J.C. VAN DER WALT, FORMER RAU RECTOR: I must really say to you that it's been a miracle. I've never experienced in the 35 years that I've been here and especially in the last 10 years any resistance to the concept that we had to transform to become a fully South African university.

HUNTER-GAULT: In many ways, Rau's transformation, though not complete, has been less eventful than at some other institutions in the country. And while there has been the odd racial incident here and there and the continuing calls for blackening or Africanizing institutions of higher learning, there's been nothing like the massive resistance experienced in Georgia and other states in the deep South.

(on camera): A few weeks ago, I looked at the statistics on the admission of black students to the University of Georgia 40 years after I walked through its doors. Only six percent of the 34,000 students are black, and the university is being sued by whites to end the use of race as a factor in admissions. Even though South Africa's children of apartheid won their freedom some 33 years after the children of American segregation, and even though South Africa has a long way to go towards full transformation, it has come a long way and much faster.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Johannesburg.


HAYNES: "Worldview" continues now. While most of us get tired running just a couple of miles, I know I do, 600 men and women are running across the Sahara Desert. Both athletes and amateurs know the marathon a des Sables is the toughest foot race on earth. They're racing this week in the annual race in Morocco.

Christina Park (ph) now on the motivation of one runner.


PAUL HUETTSON (ph), DES SABLES RUNNER: Show me all the flat parts. Turn around a little bit more this way.

CHRISTINA PARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Huettson lives in Atlanta with his wife and son. He's running the marathon for the first time to raise money for an AIDS hospice in Puerto Rico. HUETTSON: I have done a fund-raiser before. My wife went through breast cancer three years ago. She survived that and in recognition to a lot of good work and help that we got through her illness, because at the time we were unfortunately not insured, and she qualified for a lot of programs and a lot of kind charities and people and individuals helped out with us.

PARK: Taking his commitment to the extreme, Paul will run nearly 150 miles in the Sahara heat while carrying enough food, water and supplies to last a week.

HUETTSON: I have been training on a treadmill in bare feet to try to create hardened skin and calluses.

PARK: To prepare for the race, he heats a room in his home to desert like temperatures.

HUETTSON: I can get it up in about 15 minutes. I can get it up to 100. But it might take a little while.

PARK: He runs three heaters and a furnace while training in heavy clothing to condition his body to withstand the heat.

HUETTSON: After about an hour, it gets very old.

PARK: He also wears a 25 pound pack, since he will have to carry everything he takes on his back.

HUETTSON: For instance, this is a day's food, an energy bar, Stroganoff with noodles. I'm not taking any cooking utensils other than a fork.

PARK: The event will only provide nine liters of water a day.

HUETTSON: Every drop counts because nine liters is really not a lot. I believe that the most challenging part is the heat. On top of that, it's going to be blisters. Blisters are inevitable. Even people that get blisters will get a lot of blisters.

PARK: Paul has already raised $10,000 for the AIDS hospice. The hospice will receive the money whether or not Paul is successful in completing the race.

HUETTSON: I do want to compete well in it. I'm a competitive person and in my marathons I always want to try to finish high up. But for this one, I think the goal is to finish of course.

PARK: Christina Park, CNN, Atlanta.


HAYNES: By the way, Paul's in the top 50, which was his goal. He's moved up 10 places since Wednesday to 46th place. We'll let you know how he finishes.

We go high tech in "Chronicle." Now, you may remember Ginger, a mysterious invention that many have guessed could change our every day life. Well, Dean Kamen, the man behind Ginger, is working on another project he calls First.

Ann Kellan met up with Kamen at his workshop and office in Manchester, New Hampshire and found a man with a lot on his plate.


DEAN KAMEN, PRESIDENT, DEKA: This is the small little sterling parts. When will that be done?

UNIDENTIFIED WORKER: Oh, probably a couple weeks.

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of worrying about project deadlines, riding around on a wheelchair he invented, entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen has other worries.

KAMEN: The floor is not level either.

KELLAN: Like getting the stage built for a nationwide high school robotics competition, part of a program he created nine years ago First.

KAMEN: The goal, trying to bounce it onto the ramp. And we've got a 10 pointer up on the goal.

Why focus on rumors and up nonsense when we have a really great program that is desperately needing to see the light of reason?

KELLAN (on camera): The kids look up to you because of what you do.

(voice-over): Kamen calls all the hype nonsense and still won't talk about the much touted Ginger, his mysterious invention that some reported would change the world.

KAMEN: We never ever talk about projects until our clients are ready, until we've patented them.

KELLAN: Some have speculated Ginger is a scooter with IBOT characteristics. IBOT is that wheelchair that climbs stairs and rises up and steadies itself on two wheels so the rider can look someone square in the eye. Kamen is a rich man because of his inventions.

KAMEN: Well, I started my little business in high school and it grew and I got lucky and I started making some medical products for my older brother when he was in medical school.

KELLAN: Among his inventions, this portable dialysis machine and this insulin pump.

KAMEN: Right. You know what we're going to do is wind over this, thread it off.

KELLAN: His success is obvious. Kamen now runs a company with more than 200 employees, a far cry from those high school days. KAMEN: I've sort of gone from being the guy that does it to the orchestra leader that just listens to the music. So truly I get more excited when I can go home and work in my own shop, work on my own electronics or when I can walk around my little company here and participate in the good ideas.

KELLAN: His office reflects his other loves, helicopters -- he designs and flies them; pictures of Einstein, one of his biggest heroes; even an Einstein chair. The comic strips are his father's, another guy he admires.

KAMEN: I guess my real living heroes would be my father, who's an artist, not a scientist, but he's a hero because I learned two very important things from him. One is you have to pick something that you really love to do and make it your life's work. And he also taught me that you have to do what's important and sometimes it's not what's easy.

KELLAN: And what's with the bear? Well, he was told he'd never make it in business without partners and a tie.

KAMEN: So I got myself a partner and I gave him the tie.

KELLAN: Now, you won't find Kamen wearing a tie around the office. And while he won't talk about Ginger yet, he won't stop talking about what he hopes will be his legacy, First.

KAMEN: And the goal, it looks like it's going to tip over. And it does.

KELLAN: These competitions, he says, entice kids to learn, to put down the basketball and pick up the math book.

KAMEN: Math and science is not a cold, dry, dismal subject where the answers are all in the back of the book. In fact, more than any other human endeavor, engineering is about creating things that have never been created before.

KELLAN: Creating things that change the world, perhaps even Gingers of their own, whatever that turns out to be.


KELLAN: Ann Kellan, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


HAYNES: The first robotic competition takes place this weekend. Next week, we'll tell you who won. Plus, we'll go behind-the-scenes to see how the students prepare for the contest.

For now, that's it. Have a great weekend.

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