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NEWSROOM for April 13, 2001

Aired April 13, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Haynes with your week ending NEWSROOM. Here's what's coming up.

First, back on U.S. soil, a celebration and homecoming for 24 Navy crew members. Then, life in the most culturally diverse place in the U.S. "Editor's Desk" shows us what it's like. And, look out for "Worldview" on this Friday the 13th as we search for the origins of superstition. Finally in "Chronicle," more life skills. Today, the talk is taxes, how they came about and what they mean for you.

First today, after being held for 11 days on China's Hainan Island, the 24 member crew of the United States navy surveillance plane arrives in Hawaii. A letter from Washington to China translated into freedom for the crew. China has been demanding the U.S. apologize for the collision and while the letter didn't go that far, it did say the U.S. was very sorry about the Chinese pilot's death.

The American servicemen and women received a warm welcome Thursday when they stepped onto U.S. soil. They were honored with applause, salutes and music, as a navy band played "Stars and Stripes Forever." Following the brief ceremony, the crew members were whisked away for two days of debriefings and medical evaluations.

Their ordeal began April 1 after their plane and a Chinese fighter jet collided. The Chinese pilot was never found and is presumed dead. For the past week, U.S. officials have been engaged in negotiations with China to secure the crew's return. Some issues remain unresolved. China still hasn't said whether it plans to return the surveillance plane which the U.S. wants back. Also under debate is whether surveillance flights off China's coast should be allowed to continue.

Now, while America's military personnel are now free, the relations between the United States and China are more complex than ever. U.S. President Bush took a tough stand with China Thursday, saying its decision to detain Americans was inconsistent with desires for positive relations.

Bruce Morton explores a few of the political and economic issues between the two nations.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A confrontation with China: Does that mean back to the Cold War with a new chief enemy? Probably not. The United States and the Soviet Union were superpowers, with, between them, enough nuclear bombs to destroy the planet. Their alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, rubbed elbows in Eastern Europe for almost half a century. Incidents there: the Berlin Wall, Soviet troops marching into Hungary or Czechoslovakia. Incidents elsewhere, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, could have triggered World War III.

Now? The United States and China don't share Europe or a border. They are not military equals. China is a nuclear power, but not on the scale of the United States. It has a huge army, but cannot command air and sea space as the U.S. can.

The two countries do have points of conflict. Some in the U.S. remember and resent the Chinese occupation of Tibet. U.S. arms for Taiwan are an issue, though the U.S. officially subscribes to the idea that there is one China. Some Americans remember and resent the Chinese army's attack on Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But there are common interests, too.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important for the Chinese to recognize that our relationship is going to change from one of strategic partner to one of competitor, but competitors can find areas of agreement, such as in trade.

MORTON: The U.S. has encouraged China to move into the modern world, join the World Trade Organization. And in trade, China had a trade surplus with the U.S. last year of more than $83 billion, serious money for a poor country. China wants the Olympics in 2008. Feuding with the West could threaten that goal.

Once, Mao Tse-tung ruled China. Later, Deng Xiaoping did, announcing, "to be rich is glorious." Now reports suggest no one person is in charge. The military may want to flex its muscles. Others may prefer trade and more consumer goods. And President Bush seems to see a more modest role for the United States, less hands-on everywhere, than Bill Clinton did.

BUSH: We will have a foreign policy that is humble. We will have a foreign policy that is present, but humble.

MORTON (on camera): The world is more diverse now. Not just free world and communist, but China and Russia and Iran and Iraq and more for an American president to watch and deal with.

Still, this new president, surely, can now heave his first international sigh of relief.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: In the wake of the stand-off between the United States and China, Congress has scheduled hearings on the state of relations between the two nations. John King reports on the sometimes turbulent yet important relationship between the two countries.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What next is a question already being debated at the White House and there are few easy choices as the president assesses the future of U.S.-China relations. The stand-off invigorated China's critics in the Congress and in the upper ranks of the administration. There will be quick pressure for the president to turn tough now that the 24 U.S. crew members are free.

LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It will ratchet up the tensions between the two countries. It will make progress on a lot of other issues much more difficult. So this is really a defining incident for the Bush administration.

KING: The conservative "Weekly Standard" called it a national humiliation and articulated a sentiment heard more and more as the stand-off dragged on. "It is essential that the Chinese be made to pay a price for their actions." The editorial goes on to say, "angry words and Congressional resolutions of disapproval are now worse than useless. Unless backed by deeds, they will only confirm Beijing's perception of American weakness."

Mr. Bush later this month must decide what new weapons to sell Taiwan and even before the stand-off, several top aides were advocating the sale of destroyers with the state-of-the-art Aegis radar system.

Beijing opposes such a sale, but some analysts say the Chinese government would have only itself to blame.

JAMES STEINBERG, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Over the past several years, China has engaged in a buildup of its military forces and particularly in a buildup of its short and medium range missile forces that could threaten or intimidate Taiwan.

KING: Other potential sanctions include revoking China's favorable trade status with the United States, canceling a planned Bush visit to Beijing in the fall and opposing China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics. Any sanctions likely would cause a backlash in Beijing.

BATES GILL, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The situation now, the Chinese view of the United States is quite suspicious. They're not certain of what our strategic intention towards them might be and any act that appears to be bullying, in their terms, hegemonic, unilateralist is bound to stir up passions on their nationalist part of the public.

KING: So even after the stand-off, Mr. Bush will be walking a fine line. Aides say he firmly believes isolating China would do more harm than good in the long run. (on camera): But top advisers say the president has made clear in recent days that Beijing must pay a price for its actions and that he has also acknowledged that no matter what he thinks, there will be considerable domestic political pressure to get tough.

John King, CNN, the White House.


HAYNES: More news in our top story, this time from the United States. In Cincinnati, Ohio, the mayor announced an overnight curfew, saying violence in his city is running rampant. Protests broke out after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed African- American.

We get more from Brian Palmer.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Recent violence and vandalism after the fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas, a black man, by a white police officer, has reopened an old and deep wound in Cincinnati.

REV. DAMON LYNCH, NEW PROSPECT BAPTIST CHURCH: We used to be called a great place to raise your kids. Nobody says that anymore about Cincinnati. We're a small, little river town that's afraid to face it's real issues, and race is our main issue.

PALMER: It's an issue that resurfaces with regularity here, sometimes explosively, like when the Ku Klux Klan comes to town, as it has several times in the past decade, to erect its cross in fountain square, across from a Hanukkah Menorah. But the issue is most often black and white, and ignored in a city that is increasingly becoming African-American as whites head to the suburbs.

BRO. GREG FRIEDMAN, ST. FRANCIS CHURCH: The antagonism that exists is sometimes right below the surface. There's a lot of anger.

ALICIA REECE, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Unfortunately the only time we are serious about reacting is when an incident happens.

PALMER: It's hard to rewrite this history of misunderstanding between black and white, particularly given recent controversies surrounding actions by the Cincinnati Police Department in the black community, including accusations and lawsuits of racial profiling and a string of fatal shootings.

CHIEF THOMAS STREICHER, CINCINNATI POLICE: Certainly there's an issue here where a large number of African-American males have died in confrontations with police officers. It's of great concern to us here as an agency. It's also a great concern to the community here.


HAYNES: You've heard it called the melting pot and, indeed, the United States boasts a rich mix of cultures and ethnicities. In fact, more than 800,000 immigrants from around the world legally enter the U.S. each year. Where do they come from? Well, how about Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines and the former Soviet Republics supplying the majority of people in the U.S. And, if the influx continues as expected, the U.S. population will soar to 394 million people by 2050.

This growing diversity is a source of national pride and a hallmark of one of New York's communities.

Garrick Utley explains.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does it seem ironic that an American, Max Desilets (ph), is teaching Chinese history to Chinese in Chinese in a high school in New York City? Is it not doubly ironic that Chinese students in this high school study with their bilingual teacher, Paul Cheung (ph), the history of American imperialism in Asia?

But then, there is not much time or space for irony in overcrowded Newtown high school in Queens, New York. There are 4,200 students, born in 96 countries, whose parents brought them to this country, to this community, to the community of Elmhurst, ZIP 11373, believed to be the most culturally diverse ZIP code in the nation, where immigrants have come to settle since the 1600s.

(on camera): One good way to tell how American life is changing is to keep your ears open. Two-hundred years ago, what you heard on this street was English. Then you began to hear German, Polish, Italian and Yiddish. Then came Spanish. More recently, you can hear Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu, among others.

(voice-over): Today, the signs of change are everywhere. At Newtown high, the students from those 96 countries and cultures speak 59 languages at last count.

CHARLENE NIEVES, ENGLISH TEACHER: Is this correct? What is the problem?

UTLEY: And that raises the question that has been asked as long as there have been immigrants, how well will they adjust, adapt, assimilate? Forty percent of the students are being taught English as a second language. A problem? Of course. But Charlene Nieves says it can be handled.

CHARLENE NIEVES, ENGLISH TEACHER: A ninth grade student who I had in level one and is graduating high school, and you could not tell that they were not born in this country. They assimilate so quickly into the American society; it is unbelievable.

UTLEY: John Rooney was born in the community, went to this high and has taught social studies here since 1968. He senses what his students face. JOHN ROONEY, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: There is often that little bit of tension at home. It's not an easy thing to become an American, when, at home, the culture is still is very much what it was in the home country.

UTLEY: But, slowly, as it always has, Elmhurst, New York becomes the home country. High school may not be a melting pot, but it is the meeting place for those who will be the America of the not-distant future. And the key, say teachers here, is tolerance.

ROONEY: If the rest of the country can have some of the success that seem to have had, knock wood, so far in this community and in this school, the future looks good.

UTLEY: And it will also look different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please stand now for the Pledge of Allegiance.

UTLEY: But then, difference and diversity have been the story of Elmhurst for more than 300 years.

Garrick Utley, CNN, Elmhurst, New York.


HAYNES: In "Worldview" today, lunch and luck. Find out who invented the sandwich as we visit England. And don't miss me grabbing a bite to eat on the job. Learn about superstitions as well in countries such as the United States and Japan. Check it out.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Are you superstitious? Do you carry a rabbit's foot or have a lucky number or color? Today, we look at superstition. A superstition is defined as any belief that is inconsistent with known facts or rational thought, especially such a belief in omens or the supernatural. Are superstitions irrational or do they have their origins in something solid?

Kathy Nellis takes a look.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Check out the calendar. It's Friday the 13th, an event that occurs only twice this year. So is it a day to beware? Sociology professor Jackie Boles says the date is ominous in Christian culture.

PROFESSOR JACKIE BOLES, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Jesus had 12 disciples plus himself, which adds up to 13. And Jesus was crucified on Friday, which is bad luck. So therefore Friday the 13th is bad luck and the ah floor is bad luck for the same reason.

NELLIS: In Japanese culture, the number four is unlucky because the Japanese word for four sounds like the Japanese word for death. Many Japanese buildings have no fourth floor. Many superstitions cross cultures. For example, spilling salt. If you do, toss a pinch over your left shoulder to appease evil spirits. This superstition lurks from the days when salt was a valuable and scarce mineral. In fact, Roman soldiers received pay or solarium to purchase salt. So spilling it was, indeed, a misfortune.

Actually, all superstitions should be taken with a grain of salt. Like this next one, which originated with the Druids.

(on camera): Centuries ago, people believed the gods lived in trees. It was the custom to knock on a tree to ask for a favor or give thanks for one. Today, we knock on wood for luck.

BOLES: If I were to tell you I am being considered for the position of vice president and I really think I have a very good chance at getting that, that tells you I think two things, one, I don't think it's a slam dunk, and also, you know, I don't want to sound like I think that it's a sure thing. And so I knock on wood and that indicates to you that I know there's an element of luck.

NELLIS: There are all sorts of lucky things, from lucky pennies to four-leaf clovers. And it's said a person born on Sunday will always have good luck. Many superstitions predict bad luck, however. For example, it's said a bride and groom will have bad luck if they see each other on their wedding day before the ceremony.

(on camera): Another superstition, that mirrors posses magic power. They capture the soul or other self of the viewer so breaking one is seven years bad luck.

BOLES: Gradually in Western civilization, we have replaced a lot of superstitions. I mean people no longer believe that your soul is inhabited in a mirror.

NELLIS (voice-over): But some superstitions hang on, like the lucky rabbit's foot or horseshoe.

BOLES: Some occupations are particularly given to superstition and these are occupations in which a lot of luck is important. I just finished writing a book on show business and show people are notoriously superstitions. Opals, for example, opals are never to be worn. Opals are an unlucky stone. You should never open a show on Friday. That's bad luck. On the other hand, where black cats are usually bad luck, among show people they're good luck.

NELLIS: You can change your luck, however. While walking under a ladder is considered bad luck, there are counter spells to help out.

BOLES: If you find that you have walked under a ladder or are in the process of walking under it, if you make a wish while you're under the ladder, not only will nothing bad happen, but you will also have your wish come true.

NELLIS: There are dozens of superstitions and they're not all to be sneezed at. In fact, sneezing was considered unlucky for it expelled the essence of life. Saying god bless you was a response to protect the sneezer and those nearby. Superstitions have existed in human society throughout history. There's even a saying, "superstition is the poetry of life." Sociologists say superstitions can be a fun part of folklore, as long as you don't take them too seriously.

BOLES: I very often knock on wood. You know, it's just kind of habit. And then you say to yourself, well, why not, you know? It can't hurt.

NELLIS: In the end, maybe Friday the 13th is not all it's cracked up to be.

Kathy Nellis, CNN, Atlanta.


HAYNES: How about a little Swiss? Yeah, that's good. While I wait for my sandwich, here's a little pop quiz. Which came first, the soup or the sandwich? It turns out they both originated in Europe, but the soup beat the sandwich by 7,000 years. Here's another fact to chew on. Of all the American cities, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has the highest consumption rate of sandwiches. This is just a taste of what started in the 18th century when a man named John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich, popularized the food arrangement. An intent gambler, the earl made a habit of eating beef between slices of toast so he could continue playing cards uninterrupted. Since then, the sandwich has spread to nearly every corner of the globe.

But as Richard Quest reports, some modern day earls are preserving the sandwich's identity in its own hometown.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to making snacks with bread, they know something about it here in Dorset. After all, this is the true home of the sandwich.

JOHN MONTAGU, 11TH EARL OF SANDWICH: The fourth earl was the very beginning of the story. But of course, the first earl was given the title Earl of Sandwich for bringing King Charles II back from Holland.

QUEST: These are the sandwiches -- the earl of sandwich, to be precise. This family has been making the snack for more than two centuries.

MONTAGU: The original earl, the fourth earl, was a gambler. I mean, he was a politician, but that didn't preclude gambling. So he spent a lot of time sitting at card table, and he had to have one hand free. And I don't know why nobody else thought of it -- but probably they did -- but he got landed with the idea. And then other people said I want one like Sandwich's, so they got a sandwich.

QUEST: Now those hands have found other work. The latest generation of this aristocratic group have gone into catering, using the name and making sandwiches to be delivered to the desks of London's financial district, the City.

But these aren't just any old sandwiches: The idea is to stuff the bread with the best of British. This isn't just about business, but about honoring the family name.

ORLANDO MONTAGU, CEO, EARL OF SANDWICH: It provides, I think most importantly, a motivator for all of us here -- you know, our family and the staff that are working with us alike -- to produce a product and a service that lives up to the reputation of the family.

QUEST: The 11th earl says he'll give this venture at least six months, and if all goes well, they want to take their stately snacks into Europe and on to the United States. But he'll need more luck than the fourth earl. After all, he was blamed for the British defeat during another attack on America, the War of Independence.

Richard Quest, CNN Financial News, with the Earl of Sandwich, in Dorset.


HAYNES: Taxes date back to the ancient societies of Greece and Rome, when tariffs were levied on imported goods. Well, today the income tax, taxes on people and businesses, is the United States' major source of revenue. So what does that mean for teenagers who have little or no income?

Mara Wilcox takes a closer look at how taxes work and who has to pay them.


MARA WILCOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The worst thing about being an adult? Some say it's paying taxes.

MICHAEL WONG, AGE 17: When I think of taxes, I think of like a saying, you know, you're sure of two things in life, death and taxes.

TEODOSI TCHONEV, AGE 17: It just makes me mad cause I could have gotten more money and like I just don't see a point why taxes need to be taken out.

WILCOX: Not all the money you make lands in your wallet.

GINGER BROADERICK, CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT: When a teenager gets his first pay stub, he's really surprised about the amount of taxes that are withheld from the pay stub.

WILCOX: Look at this pay stub. Money is withheld for federal taxes, FICA taxes -- more on that later -- state and local taxes. But don't get mad. We see our tax dollars working for us every day. Let's start with the federal government. Your tax money funds the military, transportation like the highway system, environmental protection and other agencies like NASA and the CIA.

Money is also taken out to fund Social Security, the country's government run retirement plan.

SZILVESZTER CIURDAR, AGE 16: Social Security taxes, the FICA tax that you may find taken out of your paycheck, it goes to, it pays retired persons over 65.

WILCOX: FICA is the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, consisting of both the Social Security tax and a Medicare tax. Medicare funds the federal health program for people over 65.

BROADERICK: It certainly doesn't seem fair when we're teenagers to have money taken out for our retirement, but it's certainly money that's helping the elderly at this point in time.

WILCOX: After all, while you're paying for your grandparents' retirement, the idea is that your grandchildren will pay for yours.

Next, most states take a share of your earnings, too.

J.P. SOLIS, AGE 19: State taxes, which are related to just all the activity that goes on within the state such as the public school system.

WILCOX: That's right, the state also pays for state highways, state law enforcement and welfare programs.

Next, some local governments, cities, towns and counties take a bite.

AUSTIN, AGE 17: Local taxes are for repairing roads or putting up new street lights or paying for the police force, fire departments.

WILCOX: And other things, like your local schools, libraries, garbage collection and the courts.

(on camera): But why can't they wait till April? Why take that money out of your paycheck every two weeks? Well, without tax withholding, many people would have a tough time saving enough money to pay their taxes at the end of the year and the government relies on that money to pay for the programs and services that we use every day.

(voice-over): For now, most teens can escape paying. If you earn less than $4,400 a year and if your unearned income, that's income on investments, is under $700, you are exempt from filing.

GARY SHATSKY, CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT: Probably the way to avoid filing a tax return for someone who's only earning $1,000 or $2,000 is to make sure you fill out the W4 form properly.

WILCOX: If you've had a part-time or summer job, you probably completed a W4 form already. A W4 determines how much money is taken out of your paycheck for income taxes.

SHATSKY: Mark exempt on the form and then no taxes will be taken out. Now, if you happen to have some unbelievable summer job that's paying you five grand, you're not exempt, you're going to owe tax. But then again, you'll probably have more income than any of your friends.

WILCOX: Sometimes too much money is withheld. But you can get that money back when you file a return.

SHATSKY: For the most part, the IRS isn't going to chase you down with a refund so if you are entitled to money, it's incumbent upon you to go out there and file the return. Don't blow off filing your tax return. It'll probably give you some money that will carry you at least for a couple of weeks.

WILCOX: Most kids will fill out a 1040EZ form, a very simple form designed for people with no children and few deductions. Most likely, the only additional paperwork you'll need is a W2 form, which is a statement of how much you earned and how much you paid in taxes. Your employer will send you a W2 form in the mail.

MAHDI SHADKAMFARRAKHI, AGE 15: They make it sound like it's hard but from classes that I've taken here in school, it was actually pretty easy to fill out a tax return.

WILCOX: And by filling out a few simple forms, you could get a few extra bucks in your pocket.

Mara Wilcox, CNN NEWSROOM, New York.


HAYNES: That's CNN NEWSROOM for Friday. Have a great weekend.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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