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NEWSROOM for April 26, 2001

Aired April 26, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Hi, I'm Shelley Walcott here with your Thursday NEWSROOM. Today's show features science and politics. Here's a preview.

We start with a report card covering U.S. President Bush's first 100 days in office. Then, we journey to outer space to get a good look underwater. Hang around for the "Science Desk" to find out why. From the watery depths to a garden paradise, "Worldview" takes time to smell the roses in Britain. There are no greenhouses in "Chronicle." Prepare to go into the eye of the storm.

U.S. President George W. Bush is speaking candidly this week as he reflects on his first 100 days in office. The 100th day officially comes on Sunday. And so far, the 43rd president says he's accomplished more than some pundits had predicted when he took office in January. Mr. Bush cites progress in his ongoing negotiations with Congress on two big campaign promises, tax cuts and education reform.

He told CNN he feels pretty darned good about the job he is doing. And the American public seems to agree, giving the president high marks for his first months in office. A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 62 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling his job while 29 percent disapprove. President Bush's 62 percent approval rating holds up well in comparison to the marks given other U.S. presidents over the past four decades. Most notably at this 100 day juncture, Mr. Bush not only has a higher mark than his predecessor, Bill Clinton, but even his own father.

So what is the significance of 100 days? Well, it's actually an arbitrary number. But in the U.S. it's rooted in political tradition. The nation's 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had a 100 day plan when he came to office in 1932. That was the time of the Great Depression and Roosevelt wanted to show Americans he had a plan to get things done.

Today, the 100-day marker is used to measure a president's success and momentum.

In an interview with CNN's John King, President Bush spoke about the issues which concern him as president -- energy, taxes and Taiwan.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think that the Chinese must hear that ours is an administration, like other administrations, that is willing to uphold the spirit of the Taiwan relations law, Taiwan Relations Act. And I'll do so.

However, I think it's important for people to also note that mine is an administration that strongly supports the one-China policy; that we expect any dispute to be resolved peacefully, and that's the message I really want people to hear.

But as people have seen, that I'm willing to help Taiwan defend herself, and that nothing has really changed in policy, as far as I'm concerned. This is what other presidents have said, and I will continue to say so.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Other presidents have relayed that message privately, though. There's some consternation around town that you did this in a television interview, not a speech to the American people. We don't have a treaty with Taiwan, certainly.

BUSH: Well, I also said this during the course of the campaign, John. I mean, I've been very clear about my position. And that when pressed further, I said that's what -- the Chinese need to hear the message. And I think it's an important message to send.

I also want to send the message that this can be resolved peacefully. We've got a very important relationship with China. Obviously, it was tested recently. And one of the pieces of good news is that we were able to resolve an incident that could've turned out to be a breach of relations.

I've got some very tough decisions to make coming up about trade. I still think we ought to trade with China, because I think trade will not only help our economy and help people in our economy -- like farmers, for example -- I also know that by spreading trade in the marketplace, it will enhance freedom.

But I've got difficulties with some of the decisions China has made recently, such as the imprisonment of a Catholic bishop and other members of the Catholic faith in China, or how they're dealing with different citizens, and I will make those displeasures very clear.

KING: I want to ask you more about that, but I want to follow up a little bit more on the Taiwan issue. You have said publicly the U.S. would commit military forces if China attacked Taiwan. What if Taiwan declared independence first?

BUSH: First, I have said that I will do what it takes to help Taiwan defend herself, and the Chinese must understand that. Secondly, I certainly hope Taiwan adheres to the one-China policy. And a declaration of independence is not the one-China policy, and we will work with Taiwan to make sure that that doesn't happen. We need a peaceful resolution of this issue.

KING: Let's focus a bit now on domestic issues. I want to talk to you in a minute about tax cuts and spending.

I want to start first with an issue you talked quite a bit about during the campaign. You were very critical of the prior administration when gasoline prices were going up. You said the administration should do more to help consumers. You said the administration didn't have a long-term energy policy. Twenty-four cents -- the average price of gasoline has gone up 24 cents in the last four weeks. And yet, if you pick up the business pages, Mobil Exxon, Conoco, reporting record profits, increasing their profits both by more than 50 percent.

Is something awry here?

BUSH: Well, we don't want price gouging, and I think we need to make sure that that doesn't occur. But I haven't changed my opinion about the need for an energy policy in America. We need one. And we need to do two things. We need to increase supply of product and we need to do a better job of conservation.

Let me talk about supply. There have been no refineries built in America in the last 10 years. And therefore, when you have increasing demand and limited supply, price is going to go up. We've got to figure out how to bring more product into the marketplace.

Secondly, in terms of power plants and the California issue, much of it is driven by the fact that we're running out of energy supplies. We need more energy supplies. That's why we need to have an environmentally-friendly exploration program around the country.

And we also need to conserve more, and conservation comes as a result of new technologies. And we've got to do a better job of developing new technologies, you know, more mileage for cars, etcetera. But this is an issue that's going to require a long-term solution, just like I said in the course of the campaign.

KING: But not much hope then for anybody thinking about spring and summer vacations this year?

BUSH: Well, I think people who are thinking about spring and summer, hopefully, the price of product will decrease. And to the extent -- if anybody is gouging anybody, we'll find out about it. But the solution is going to require more refined product.

KING: The second 100 days will probably be much more instructive than the first 100 days as to the fate of your agenda, and, of course, the signature issue: tax cuts.

BUSH: Well, John, let me first say, I think the first 100 days have been pretty instructive. I want to take you back to when you covered me in the campaign. A lot of folks were saying, there's never going to be tax relief. He's just talking. He has no intention of getting anything done. The people don't want tax relief.

In the first 100 days, we got one bill out of the House at $1.6 trillion and one out of the Senate at 1.2, so at least the parameters have been defined. And I think we're going to get meaningful tax relief.

My answer is, let's get as much as possible for the American people. I think it is necessary to have a tax relief package that not only sends a clear signal that the tax relief is real, it's substantive, it exists for a while, but also get money in people's pockets as quickly as possible.

KING: I saw you used the term, "pretty darn good." That's how you think you're doing as you approach the 100-day mark. Expand on that a little bit. And if you would, as you do so, one lesson you appear to have learned from your father's administration, is that he had a lot of tensions from the beginning with the Republican Party base. The conservatives thought that after he was elected, he forgot that they had worked so hard for him.

BUSH: You know, the American people will make the decisions as to how a president does or doesn't do. The only thing I know to do is just to give it my all, put my whole heart and soul into the job, make decisions based upon what's best for all Americans, not based upon what's best for a political party or me, personally, and to ask people to judge me, based upon results and my administration, based upon results. And so, I really like what I'm doing. And so, I'm feeling pretty darn good.


WALCOTT: Satellite images from space are giving scientists a global view of plant life on earth, especially in our oceans. Some researchers say they hope to use some of these pictures to help study global warming.

Ann Kellan brings us a closer look at the satellite images and tells us why they're so important.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These satellite images show the ebb and flow of plant life on Earth over three years taken by a NASA satellite called SeaWiFS. The blue areas are void of plants. The red spots indicate an over-abundance, and the green areas show where plants are thriving.

MICHAEL BEHRENFELD, NASA GADDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER: What you are looking at is the breath of this Earth, this is the Earth breathing, OK. This satellite has put our fingers on the pulse of this planet, and that's what you're looking at there. The plants are taking up CO2 and they are breathing out oxygen. And we're watching that. And that's absolutely amazing.

KELLAN: What's also amazing, say oceanographers, is that almost half of that activity is going on underwater. The oceans are teaming with tiny microscopic plants called phytoplankton. They're at the bottom of the food chain, and basically feed all sea life.

Phytoplankton, like all plants, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That's one of the key benefits of these images. Over the long term, scientists will use these to help predict how plants might respond as we burn more fossil fuels and global carbon dioxide levels rise. Many scientists think such greenhouse gases will cause global warming.

JORGE SARMIENTO, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: There has been, very clearly, a warming in the climate over the last 20 years or so. It's very difficult to clearly attribute any given warming trend to any specific cause.

KELLAN: These images show that phytoplankton boomed over the last three years. Scientists think that's related to the recent El Nino La Nina.

But what they don't know is how life in the ocean will respond over the long haul if carbon dioxide levels keep rising. In the meantime they're going to keep an eye on it.

Ann Kellan, CNN, Atlanta.


WALCOTT: Our adventures in space will continue in cyberspace. Log onto for Out There: Missions To Space, a Web cast for you and your teachers. We'll cover lots of ground, including the international space station and the exploration of Mars. Check it out today from noon to 3:00 P.M. Eastern.

In "Worldview" today, greenhouses and no houses. We take an environmental odyssey to Great Britain and the Garden of Eden Project. And we hit the streets of New York to face a serious social problem -- homelessness. A word of warning, the conditions are disturbing.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Homelessness is a problem of global proportions and it's not just limited to developing nations, either. Even in the richest countries, it's not uncommon to see people living on the streets. In European cities, as a matter of fact, one estimate says six million people were without any shelter this winter. Another 20 million may have taken cover in shacks and other derelict buildings.

In the U.S., an estimated 750,000 are homeless on any given night and as many as two million experience being homeless for a time each year. The City of New York, of course, has its share of people out on the streets.

As Maria Hinojosa reports, finding a solution to the problem there isn't easy.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a bitter cold night, a group of city outreach workers hikes down a small hill in the Bronx. Using abandoned train tracks as their guide, they see a cluster under a bridge. From afar, it looks like garbage.

Under layers of old coats and rags, their faces become visible. At least one refuses their help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not, I'm not, I'm not homeless; no I'm not.

HINOJOSA: He shares his so-called home with a raggedy cat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was the last time you were in the hospital, Jose (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About one year.

HINOJOSA: Up the hill, it's too dark to see the rats swarming over a garbage dump where Earl (ph) lives.

(on camera): You feed the rats poison and glass?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They all need glass. They all die. I've seen them.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): His shelter is inside a tunnel, warm amid the trash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll make it here.

HINOJOSA (on camera): Over the past decade, there have been fewer homeless people on the streets; but this past year the number of people seeking shelter grew sharply once again. City mayors say a strong economy has made housing too expensive for the working poor, and they blame government agencies for not creating enough affordable housing to keep up with the demand.

MARY BROSNOHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS: Overwhelmingly, the single cause of the increase in the street-bound and the shelter population is the dramatic cutback in permanent housing.

HINOJOSA: In fact, the number of homeless people in New York shelters has now surpassed the high numbers seen during the late 1980s. For the first time in over a decade, more than 25,000 people are being housed in shelters.

STEVEN BANKS, LAWYER FOR HOMELESS ADVOCATES: New York city and other parts of the country continue to view homelessness as a matter of providing shelter to people rather than dealing with the underlying, driving causes of homelessness. This is a lack of housing.

HINOJOSA: New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has fought homeless advocates in court for years. But his new commissioner for the homeless has focused on outreach. That, in part, may account for the skyrocketing numbers.

MARTIN OESTERREICH, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF HOMELESS SERVICES: It's an obligation that we have to the people who are in a bad situation. This mayor has been extremely supportive of that. We need to take people off the streets. HINOJOSA: The number of families seeking shelter has jumped 10 percent just in the last year alone.

(on camera): You're ready to go to the shelter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm definitely ready to go. It's getting cold out here.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): City officials say the rising numbers reflect their success in bringing folks out of the cold, but these families say conditions inside city facilities are lacking.

BRIAN HARRISON: Well, at night you have, you know, some roaches crawling around. You've got kids sleeping on the floor; they're vomiting all over the place. The porters don't even mop up until, like, maybe two times a day..

HINOJOSA: The city says conditions are improving and they're ready for the rising numbers.

Meanwhile, Franklin (ph) has found his own shelter: a shack built under a tree, with an old chair, a closet and a stove.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Great Britain has always been a popular tourist destination, especially for Americans. Each year, millions flock to such sites as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. Now you can add another place to that list, the Garden of Eden. It's the world's largest greenhouse and is being hailed with descriptions like an environmental project of epic proportions and the eighth wonder of the world.

No matter what you call it, it's a remarkable engineering feat that has transformed an abandoned piece of English countryside in Cornwall.

As Jennifer Eccleston reports, visitors are giving it two green thumbs up.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a 300- year-old dormant clay mine in St. Austell, Cornwall, emerges the latest in horticultural and architectural technology and design. The Eden Project is a living theater of plants and people, a futuristic botanical institute exploring the relationship between man and plants. It's also the largest greenhouse in the world and it's the brainchild of local entrepreneur and former pop group manager Tim Smit.

TIM SMIT, PROJECT FOUNDER: What we are doing here is to A, make plants very exciting in a different way. It's a kind of rock and roll scientific institution, if you like. But underneath it is a very serious undercurrent. We need to change the way we live but to change the way we live does not mean we have to go without, so we can actually just embrace new technology and we can actually make the world a better place for all living things. I know it sounds pretentious, I know it sounds hippy, but it's true.

ECCLESTON: The Eden Project includes more than 4,000 different species of plant from three of the world's climate zones or biomes. There are plants from the Himalayas to Chile to Australia, from the southern Mediterranean and the Southwest United States. The show- stopper exhibit, however, is the humid tropics biome, a steamy 37 acre, 160 foot tall tropical rain forest with a waterfall.

(on camera): One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a giant greenhouse complex like the Eden Project in this part of the world is the lack of consistent sunlight and the cool temperatures.

(voice-over): Creating an environment where these plants can not only survive, but thrive, was no small task for the project's architectures.

ANDREW WHALLEY, PROJECT ARCHITECT: So we had to create the most efficient structure we could to let as much light into the space and to keep it as light as possible.

ECCLESTON: A glass roof was out of the question, too heavy, too inflexible and too dangerous. Designers opted for a high tech transparent foil, a second cousin to Teflon, that allows for the absorption of ultraviolet rays.

WHALLEY: Here, you get the full light spectrum through. So, theoretically, you can come into Eden and get a suntan at the same time. But obviously for the plants it means it's a healthier environment.

ECCLESTON: The Eden Project's architecture is as much of a draw as the plant life and on opening day it was an immediate crowd pleaser.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It was excellent.

ECCLESTON (on camera): Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, it's -- on the outside it looks futuristic but in the inside it looks like you're going back, I don't know, many, years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were so amazed, absolutely all of us, weren't we?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's absolutely stunning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazing. Once people have seen it they will tell their friends, their relatives. It ricochets, doesn't it? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish it the best of luck anyway. ECCLESTON (voice-over): Organizers and local residents hope the Eden Project will spur growth and interest in Cornwall, a rural English county and one of the poorest in the European Union. Developer Tim Smit likes to borrow a line from Hollywood when talking about the experiment's potential. "If we build it," he says, "people will come." And they are.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, St. Austell, England.


WALCOTT: In "Chronicle" today, the latest installment of our special series on the weather, Storm. Today, a closer look at hurricanes and tornadoes, two of nature's most powerful and deadly forces.

Mike McManus looks at how these storms form and the destruction they can leave behind.


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These teenagers are survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water started coming through the house. Windows were breaking. The roof started cracking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My parents were against the window with a mattress. I have three little sisters. They were in the closet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They weathered through a $26 billion disaster named Hurricane Andrew.

PETER SWART, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: It was a truly colossal and frightening prospect to have this hurricane. We were, you know, basically pushing the piano against the front door at one stage during the night.

MCMANUS: The hurricane hit with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. It ravaged Florida.

MARK ROSENTHAL, METEOROLOGIST, WCBV-TV: A hurricane actually needs to -- needs warm tropical waters.

BRUCE SCHWOEGLER, CHIEF METEOROLOGIST, WBZ-TV: It's essentially a heat engine, a giant chimney that feeds off the heat and humidity that's coming off the air-sea interface.

MCMANUS: Andrew and most other hurricanes that threaten the U.S. form off the coast of Africa between June and November. Hurricanes also form in the Pacific Ocean. Usually called typhoons, they menace parts of Asia. Along with warm water, ingredients needed include consistent vertical wind speed, rain showers or thunderstorms and something called the Coriolis force.

LEONARD: The way the Earth rotates on its axis, we have what we call a deflecting force to the right. It's a Coriolis force. And that creates a little bit of spin in the atmosphere.

MCMANUS: With all of these elements combining, it doesn't mean the disturbance becomes a hurricane. It has to grow into one first.

ROSENTHAL: First you get a tropical depression. Then you get a tropical storm. And then you get a hurricane.

HARVEY LEONARD, CHIEF METEOROLOGIST, WHDH-TV: You have a tropical storm if the winds are over 40 miles an hour, 39 to 40 or greater. Over 74 miles per hour, now you have a hurricane.

MCMANUS: A hurricane's intensity is determined by the speed of its winds. The Saffir-Simpson scale breaks the storms into five categories.

A Category 1 hurricane contains winds between 74 and 95 miles an hour. This kind of storm brings minor damage and flooding. The destruction mounts, with each number, ending with a Category 5, which is complete destruction and major flooding.

Traveling across the ocean, many of these cyclonic storms gain strength and set sights on wherever the upper airflow or jet stream takes it. Many times, this means a slow and methodical trip until landfall. And this is where preparation can be a lifesaver.

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATL. HURRICANE CENTER: You don't want people to evacuate hundreds of miles. You want them to go tens of miles.

MCMANUS: Dr. Max Mayfield is the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida and believes evacuation should be a short trip away from the coast.

MAYFIELD: One of my greatest fears is that we'll have people stuck in their cars in a gridlock, trying to evacuate during a hurricane threat.

MCMANUS: While property owners are driving away from the impending storm, the hurricane hunters are moving toward it. These soldiers of science actually travel through approaching hurricanes with specially outfitted aircraft to measure, among other things, wind speed and direction. So, when the behemoth comes ashore, communities are ready.

Upon arrival, the combination of wind and water is both amazing and dangerous.

LEONARD: If the storm surge occurs at the time of high tide, you're going to have big problems.

MCMANUS: It's not always water, but high winds that do great damage. Hurricane Andrew blew the town of Homestead, Florida apart -- the destruction: unbelievable.

MAYFIELD: If that integrity of the building is broken and the air gets inside with a broken window or door, then you can, you know, lose the roof as well.

MCMANUS: Because of the massive costs of rebuilding, there's been a recent push toward hurricane-resistant homes, complete with steel window guards and reinforced roofing materials.

According to experts, it's better to pay now than later, especially with stronger cyclonic activity predicted.

(on camera): Located on the eastern tip of Florida, Miami is known for being a popular target for hurricanes. But that changed four years ago when a tornado touched down right here in the middle of one of America's most popular cities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you'll start to see debris here at the base of this column that's -- it's lifting. And I guess it's also picking up a tremendous amount of water as it crosses over the Biscayne Bay area.


MCMANUS: Though it looked dangerous in pictures caught by television news crews, the tornado did little more than rattle a few nerves.

DAN MCCARTHY, NATL. SEVERE STORMS LAB: A tornado is actually a small area of energy that is rotating violently out of a storm.

MCMANUS: Dan McCarthy is a forecaster at the National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. His team is responsible for tornado warnings in twister-prone areas, like the Midwest and Central Plains of the U.S., otherwise known as Tornado Alley.

MCCARTHY: As a meteorologist, to see a tornado is really beautiful, as long as you're safely away from it and you can see the whole formation. This whole interaction started to form.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tornado on the ground.


MCMANUS: The interaction Dan is talking about involves the colliding of warm, humid air with either very cold or very hot, dry air, or the dry line. In short, the air starts spinning in a vast circular motion and follows a path straight down to the ground, pulling everything around it into the vortex of air.

LEONARD: They can develop very, very quickly. You could be looking at a very nice sunny, hot day, with almost no clouds in the sky; 20 minutes later, you could have a violent thunderstorm, which could spawn a tornado out of it within minutes.

MCMANUS: This is what happened on May 3, 1999, when a family of tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, killing 44 people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a large tornado on the ground. This is tornado number six.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming down right now: a major tornado.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming down, another tornado to the other side of 152.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just south, just south. It's one-quarter mile south of us.


MCMANUS: On this day, the highest wind speed ever recorded was clocked at 318 miles per hour. The damage was catastrophic. But word was broadcast of the impending threat. And according to McCarthy, it saved lives.

MCCARTHY: If the weather service didn't have the outlook, the watches and warnings in place, a lot more people could have lost their lives.

MCMANUS: During tornadic activity, you have mere seconds to react. The best way to avoid injury is to remember two words: low and inside.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and my mother-in-law and I started down the steps. And as soon as I got to the bottom of the steps, I closed the bathroom door and the glass and everything started busting.


MCMANUS: If you're at home or have access to a basement, that's the best place to go. In a school, an interior hallway on the lowest form is your best bet. In an office building, the inner-most stairwell should provide adequate protection. And if you are outside, cover your head and crouch down in the lowest area within reach.

If you still don't think tornadoes are dangerous, check this out. That's the power of a simple piece of wood in a tornado's fierce winds. And then there's this woman, who had her financial records mailed back to her after a twister from two states away. And, finally, according to, an F-4 twister roaring through Tennessee destroyed six steel high-tension towers like these. Three of the towers were supposedly never found.

Meteorologists say the easiest way to keep safe is to stay informed. After all, isn't knowledge power, too?


WALCOTT: Stay tuned for tomorrow's show, when we take a look at a day in the life of a meteorologist. For now, that's it. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye-bye.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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