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NEWSROOM for April 19, 2001

Aired April 19, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hello. And welcome everyone. I'm Tom Haynes.

Your Thursday show begins with a look at today's lead story: meetings between the United States and China. How do things now stand? Stay tuned to find out. Then, our "Daily Desk" heads to the gas station for a preview of this summer's prices at the pump. Following that, "Worldview" lands in Russia for a little cyber gaming. Finally, we get an earful as we continue our look inside the National Security Agency.

First today, officials from the United States and crew met in Beijing to discuss the collision of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet. But the White House said the meeting was not productive and that "no new ground was reached."

Neither the United States nor China appears willing to compromise its position. China blames the U.S. for the collision and portrays its fighter pilot Wang Wei as a hero. The U.S. says Wang Wei is responsible for the accident. China demanded an end to U.S. surveillance flights off its coast. The U.S. delegate said those flights will continue and within a matter of days.

There also has been no progress on returning that U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane. The U.S. wants the plane back, but China refused to discuss the issue during Wednesday's meeting. U.S.-China relations have taken a beating lately. Wednesday, the United Nations Commission On Human Rights blocked consideration of an American proposal to condemn China's human rights record. The U.S. proposal denounced Beijing for several reasons, including its repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

As the United States and China debate over the EP-3 surveillance plane, the Bush administration is approaching a deadline to decide what, if any, weapons systems to sell to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland and it opposes the proposed sale of weapons.

Jamie McIntyre reports on what such a transaction could mean for the region. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The goal of U.S. weapons sales is to ensure that Taiwan's military is able to defend the tiny island of 23 million against an invasion from mainland China, while not emboldening Taiwan's leaders to the point where they invite an attack by declaring independence.

China has announced a 17 percent increase in defense spending, and is pointing more short-range missiles at Taiwan, which it regards as part of China. To counter that threat, Taiwan wants to buy as much advanced U.S. weaponry as it can.

C.J. CHEN, TAIWAN REP. TO U.S.: The People's Republic of China has been increasing its deployment of missiles across the Taiwan Strait, and at the same they have been acquiring new weapons.

MCINTYRE: But sources say the Pentagon has decided Taiwan's military is not ready for, and doesn't immediately need, state-of-the art Aegis destroyers, which have advanced radar and air defense systems. Instead, sources say, the Pentagon favors selling Taiwan four Kidd-class destroyers built for Iran in the 1970s, which could be outfitted with upgraded electronics to improve defenses against planes and cruise missiles.

Also, sources say, to counterbalance China's new ships and submarines, Taiwan will likely get U.S. submarine-hunting P-3 aircraft, as well as help in augmenting it obsolete fleet of four World War II vintage submarines. Only problem is the U.S. only has nuclear subs, which it doesn't sell. So a deal might have to be brokered with a third country.

LARRY WORTZEL, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The United States hasn't made a diesel sub for 40 or 50 years. I think that a Dutch and a German consortium have suggested they work with an American company to build them for Egypt.

MCINTYRE: Sources say the Pentagon is also recommending against selling Taiwan the new improved version of the Patriot missile defense system.

(on camera): The thinking seems to be that if the U.S. holds off on selling Taiwan Patriot missiles and Aegis destroyers, it may end up with more leverage. The not-so-subtle message to China's leaders is stop the threatening build up of missile, or the U.S. may sell Taiwan technology to neutralize them next time around.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


HAYNES: The United States Energy Department predicts gasoline prices will remain relatively high this summer, but not quite as high as last year. The law of supply and demand has much to do with the gas price fluctuations and hikes. The world has a limited supply of fossil fuels, which include oil. And, as David George reports, the more scarce the supply, the higher the cost.


DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Energy Department expects gasoline to average a $1.49 a gallon across the country this summer, four cents lower than last year`s average of a $1.53. But -- and this is a significant but the government`s projections, quote: "presume no disruptions in gasoline production or distribution. "

MARK RODEKOHR, ENERGY INFORMATION AGENCY: There is going to be supply tightness. Inventories are relatively low. That means there is some risk of short-term price increases.

GEORGE: In fact, the Energy Information Administration`s report states the case even more strongly. "The probability of a real gasoline price increase this summer," it says, "is high." Here`s why -- the DOE says gasoline stockpiles are at about nine billion barrels below last year`s levels, which were, in the Energy Department`s words, "sharply below the year before. "

Refineries are expected to be running at 96 percent capacity this summer, the government says. A figure that doesn't leave much leeway if something goes wrong. Even if everything goes right, the DOE estimates U.S. domestic gasoline production will average 8.48 million barrels per day this summer while total, daily, average demand will increase to 8.59 million barrels. That`s a daily gasoline gap of about 100,000 barrels.

The Energy Department says the U.S. will import an average of 230,000 barrels of gasoline per day this summer, giving OPEC and other international producers a continuing say in the cost of getting around America in the summertime.

David George, CNN.


HAYNES: So how much will you or your parents wind up paying for gasoline this summer? Well, you can calculate your costs with our fuel calculator at Meantime, in "Science Desk Extra" today, we continue our look at energy. This time our focus is nuclear. Many, including some law makers on Capitol Hill, say there's no better time than the present to build more nuclear power plants.

Kate Snow tells us why.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the North Anna nuclear site an hour north of Richmond, the generators roar 24 hours a day. Two reactors produce enough electricity for a quarter million Virginia homes. Nationwide, nuclear plants provide roughly one-fifth of the country's power and supporters say that number could grow. JOE COLVIN, NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE: It's amazing what a little shortage of electricity will do for your view on what's needed for the future.

SNOW: The nuclear industry is sensing a shift. For the first time in decades, politicians talk openly about using nuclear power to diversify America's energy supply.

COLVIN: This is an industry today that is not the industry that it was 20 years ago. This is an industry today that is operating these plants safely, reliably, competitively, and at performance levels that exceed any other source of generation that we have in the United States.

SNOW: On Capitol Hill, support for nuclear power is in part a response to constituents. Nuclear plants operate in 31 states.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: I think it has changed, and it's changed in part based on personal experience. One of the reasons that I have been a supporter of nuclear is because we've had such a good experience in Florida where we have three nuclear farms and they contribute about 20 percent of our total energy supply.

SNOW: And with the Bush administration backing nuclear power, it's no longer as politically dangerous for members of Congress to be pro-nuclear. Vice President Cheney first endorsed the idea on a talk show.

"If you want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions," he said, "then you ought to build nuclear power plants."

It's been nearly 25 years since the last commercial reactor was ordered, 1978, one year before the accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island. That incident prompted fears about public safety. The industry was accused of financial mismanagement.

Then in the mid-'80s, the Chernobyl disaster. In the '90s, nuclear power companies worked to soften their imagine, but critics say that's only part of the reason for nuclear energy's rebirth.

DAVID LOCHBAUM, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: If it's fought in the public domain, nuclear power will lose, so they have to fight it behind closed doors, where there's a better chance of winning

SNOW: The top six operators run about half of the nation's 103 nuclear reactors. Those six contributed more than $1 million to federal candidates in the 2000 elections, about two-thirds of that to Republicans.

Opponents of nuclear power contend the politics have changed but the danger hasn't.

PAUL GUNTER, NUCLEAR INFORMATION & RESOURCE SERVICE: Right now, we believe that we're in more danger with the nuclear power industry than in the earlier days when public concern focused on construction programs, because now is the time that the industry is seeking new bottom lines that pit profit margins against safety margins.

SNOW: Industry officials insist the plants are safe, but they also have concerns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a storage location for all the fuel that's been burned at North Anna since it went into operation in 1978.

SNOW: Right now, plants store their own high-level radioactive waste, either in pools or in dry containers.

(on camera): The federal government was supposed to take control of commercial nuclear waste in 1998, but that didn't happen. One thing both pro- and anti-nuclear forces agree on, if there's the political will to build more nuclear reactors, there must also be the will to deal with the waste.

Kate Snow, CNN, Capitol Hill.


HAYNES: Next week the search for energy continues when we present Powering the Planet. We'll head to the Golden State to check out so-called alternative energy sources.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Renewable energy is much harder than people realize. The only thing holing renewable energy back right now are the economics of not having a sufficiently large market. It's not the technology itself.


HAYNES: Also, remember our recent story about the fight over whether to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Well, we'll dig a little deeper into that debate with experts on both sides of the issue and we'll find out how our use of fossil fuels like oil may be affecting our environment. A U.N. panel says the earth is heating up and people are at least partly to blame. Is this a problem for only future generations to worry about? No, according to experts. During this century, average temperatures are expected to rise by more than six degrees Fahrenheit.

So what are you and your friends willing to do about it? Would you carpool or would you be willing to drive one of these things? We'll have answers and more questions, all coming up in Powering the Planet, airing on April 23.

In "Worldview," technology and tradition get our attention today. We'll visit Russia to learn about a trendy new high tech game that's becoming all the rage. We'll also explore the role of nuns and a lifestyle that's challenging but fulfilling. And we'll head to China, where technology and tradition blend in a new setting -- the mission, to save movies from the past for the future.

Movie making in Hong Kong has reached new heights with the release of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The film stars Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat and was shot on location in mainland China. The action packed martial arts romance ran away with a handful of Oscars at this year's Academy Awards, including best foreign language film. In our next report, we learn the lengths Hong Kong is going to preserve its greatest cinematic works.


MATT WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): To the untrained eye, this is just an old, black and white Hong Kong movie. But to film buffs "The Sable Cicada" is a classic housed at the territory`s newly opened Film Archive. More than 3,000 original cinema reels of Hong Kong made films are stored in the building. They range from the silent movies of the 1930s to modern martial arts epics.

Hong Kong has made at least 10,000 movies since the early 1900s, so it does seem surprising that only now an archive has been set up.

CYNTHIA LIU, HONG KONG FILM ARCHIVE DIRECTOR: We should have been opened a long time ago. But I think there are, of course, historical reasons: The awareness of the government and also the film industry people of the importance of preservation is less in the past.

But in the 80s, film researchers began to be aware that we are losing our films. Whenever we want churn out publications, whenever we want to look at some films made in the past, it is so difficult to find a print.

WALSH: But collecting films hasn't been easy. Either prints are lost, or found in such poor condition they`re unwatchable. The archive is well supported by the film industry. Most of the reels come from former producers and generous patrons. But there`s also another very important source of contribution.

LIU: In the past Hong Kong movies are distributed all over the world, especially to Chinatown theaters in the states. And the films are kept there. Although they don't give it air conditioning, but because of the weather in San Francisco, which is relatively dry, the film copies are kept very well.

WALSH: But for those who work at the archive, it`s not only films they`re preserving, but the life and times of Hong Kong.

LIU: We have compiled a 13 minutes video program with the first image, moving image of Hong Kong made in 1898, a year when the Edison camera man from the states came to Hong Kong to make some documentary. You could actually see the street scenes of Hong Kong, the government house of Hong Kong at that time. And, also, we had some documentaries made in the 30s. You could see some of our streets, the peak, the harbor back in the 30s.

WALSH: And for each movie they find, a moment of Hong Kong`s past, and a part of film history, is restored and kept forever.

Matt Walsh, CNN.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Next, in "Worldview," we ponder the pious life of nuns. Most Roman Catholic orders of nuns have different requirements for permanent membership, but they all require years of preparation. First, a woman begins a period of spiritual training called a novitiate. During this period, which could last several years, she becomes thoroughly acquainted with the obligations of religious life, after which she takes her first vows.

A few years later, she takes her final vows, where she promises to give up possession of world goods, obey her superiors and remain unmarried. These vows may be simple vows or solemn vows. One who takes the solemn vow is then called a nun.

But over the years, fewer and fewer women are seeking that way of life. Brian Cabell has the story.



BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It certainly is not a life for everyone. It requires celibacy, a total devotion to God, a forsaking of most material goods.

MEG HUNTER: Our society promotes a culture of power and money and sex. And being a sister is not any of those things.

CABELL: Easy to see why the number of nuns in the United States has declined precipitously in recent decades. There were almost 180,000 in 1965, only about 85,000 in 1998: a 53 percent decline, and still dropping.

The church is now actively seeking aspiring nuns. Laypersons, for example, are invited to Sacred Heart Monastery in northern Alabama for weekend retreats. It's an opportunity for women to learn about monastic life, and maybe choose that life for themselves.

C'HELLE VANN: Well, at first, it was kind in agony because I -- you know, that biological urge to have children. And there are things that are attractive about having one person to be exclusive to and one person to be exclusive to you.

CABELL: And yet these women will tell you the urge to give up their outside lives can be overwhelming.

Claudia Davis is a psychiatric nurse.

CLAUDIA DAVIS, PSYCHIATRIC NURSE: And no matter how busy I stay, how many friendships I have, how much -- how many good things I do, there is a part of me that only is fulfilled in this environment.

NUNS: And lead us not into temptation.

CABELL: There are role models for the aspiring nuns. Young nuns, such as Sister Therese, who herself once had doubts about joining a monastery.

SISTER THERESE HAYDEL, BENEDICTINE NUN: I grew up very scared any time the thought or the reality of becoming a sister came up, because of how people would react or respond.

CABELL (on camera): The declining number of nuns nationwide has had a dramatic impact on Catholic schools. Here at Sacred Heart School, for example, Sister Therese is the only nun who is a full-time faculty member. The other teachers are laypersons.

(voice-over): It gets back to numbers. There are fewer nuns today. And they are getting older -- average age: 69.

SISTER KAREN ANN LORTSCHER, BENEDICTINE NUN: Over the centuries, there have been rise and falls -- rises and falls through religious life: times of boom years and times of decreased numbers. But it has endured.

CABELL: The religious life has endured, even amid social turmoil and changing values.

DOROTHY BOOZER, NUN: I think God is still calling the same number of people he has always called. But they don't take the time to sit and listen and hear that call and try to understand it.


CABELL: Brian Cabell CNN, Cullman, Alabama.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Our next story takes us to Russia, where we get a closer look at a piece of technology that the most Web savvy teens may now be trying to get their hands on. It's called Cybiko, a small handheld wireless contraption that looks a little like a transistor radio. But the Cybiko is far more sophisticated. It can do everything from send e-mail to play music and games.

Steve Harrigan reports on why Cybiko is the latest rage everywhere except the place where it originated.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This wireless Gizmo built in Taiwan and selling out in U.S. stores is a triumph of Russian design: It's called the Cybiko.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: If you're inside it goes through walls at up to, like, 150 feet and you can e-mail whoever is in your area -- you can talk to them directly and you can play with them directly.

HARRIGAN: The ultimate networking device for teens, each Cybiko talks to the next, passing messages over what can become a vast, informal ad hoc network.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: We know a few people who had them and we all decided to get it for our graduation.

HARRIGAN: Cybiko is the creation of David Yang, a 32-year-old Chinese-Armenian who now has a partnership with America Online, corporate parent of CNN. Yang says building a team to develop the game in the West would've taken two years and millions of dollars. In Moscow, he did it in six weeks.

DAVID YANG, CEO, CYBIKO: Everybody who is in high tech in the IT business knows that -- the level of brains here.

HARRIGAN: Brains willing to work cheap. At least one new game for Cybiko is developed and released every day. Salaries for those who test the games are less than $1 an hour, but no one here is complaining.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You play interesting games all day, plus there's a lot of nice boys around.

HARRIGAN: Cybiko is not marketed in Russia. At $100 a piece, the machine is considered too expensive, even for those who designed it.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.


HAYNES: In "Chronicle" today, the latest in our series of profiles on the National Security Agency. That's the U.S. government branch that identifies and deals with threats to the United States. Today, we meet a man with one of the most crucial jobs at the NSA. He's known simply as "the listener."

David Ensor has more.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could be any office building, but Everette Jordan's workplace is one of the most unusual in the country. He cannot take his office keys home. He must punch in a code to get them each morning.

Everette Jordan is a spy, but not in the way you probably imagine. Everette Jordan listens.

EVERETTE JORDAN, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY LINGUIST: That particular style is called "rocking," called rocking on a word. And so you'll hear a word that you don't quite get, and you go back and forth over it a couple of times until you get it.

ENSOR: He demonstrates with a Russian news broadcast, but the conversations he listens to, picked up by the NSA's worldwide array of powerful surveillance technology, could involve a Russian general, an Iraqi nuclear scientist or a terrorist.

JORDAN: You have to listen for -- for irony. You have to listen for sarcasm, for tension. You have to listen for rhetorical statements being made. You also have to listen for humor.

ENSOR: He is a gifted linguist: fluent in Russian, Spanish, French, German, Arabic.

JORDAN: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC), which means the name of God, the merciful and compassionate, in Arabic.

ENSOR: What does he listen for? First and foremost, for threats to the U.S.

(on camera): Have you ever had the sense that you translated something that was of critical importance to U.S. national security?

JORDAN: Absolutely. There have been many cases, and that's one of the fun things about being a linguist, knowing that the work that you have done has gone right downtown to the president of the United States.

ENSOR: Have you ever found yourself listening to an American, a U.S. person, on a tape?


ENSOR: And what do you do, what are the instructions -- you never have?

JORDAN: No, I haven't.

ENSOR: What are your instructions in the event you should find yourself listening to an American, a U.S. person on a tape?

JORDAN: We have very strict protocols toward handling that -- those sorts of situations, and really we erase the thing, but we also report that thus and such has happened.

ENSOR (voice-over): To say NSA employees are security conscious is putting it mildly. Everette Jordan is the first NSA listener ever to give a television interview.

Everywhere we filmed in the vast NSA complex, employees were warned. Most heeded the warning.

(on camera): Most of your colleagues would probably not be willing to give an interview like this.

JORDAN: You got that right.

ENSOR: Tell us why not. What would be the downside for them?

JORDAN: One of the ways that we're very successful is that the work that we do is very quiet, and in some cases, actually in many cases, our work force has been indoctrinated not to draw attention to themselves, because in some cases they would have -- they would be travelling on official U.S. government business, and to sit here in front of a camera as an NSA employee is -- is something like killing one's career. ENSOR (voice-over): But after appearing at job fairs and recruitment drives for the NSA, Everette Jordan is not living in the secret world anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have noticed a high-frequency hearing loss in the high decibels.

ENSOR: The price of years of listening past the pops and screeches on surveillance tapes is frequent hearing checks, and some minor hearing loss, but Everette Jordan, though he hopes soon to move into management, says he wouldn't have wanted any other career up to this point: protecting the nation with his ears and his gift for languages.

David Ensor, CNN, Fort Meade, Maryland.


HAYNES: Tomorrow, more on the NSA with a look at how the agency screens potential employees and tries to protect itself against traitors. That's tomorrow, right here on CNN NEWSROOM. We'll see you then.

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