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NEWSROOM for May 2, 2001

Aired May 2, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We're off and running with Wednesday's edition of NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott. We begin as we do every day here on NEWSROOM, with a look at what's ahead.

BAKHTIAR: First today, U.S. President Bush offers a sneak peak to the sequel of Star Wars.

WALCOTT: Then, "Business Desk" has the lowdown on getting laid off and locked out.

BAKHTIAR: From Thailand, should men hold a monopoly on being monks? "Worldview" with a woman who says no.

WALCOTT: And we wind up in "Chronicle" with a look at life through the lens.

BAKHTIAR: United States President George W. Bush vows to move forward with a controversial missile defense system. Aides say it reflects a new philosophy and focuses more on defense than offense. Mr. Bush's national security plan calls for building a shield of systems designed to disable incoming missiles.

In a speech Tuesday at the National Defense University, Mr. Bush focused on the shortcomings of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. The president said the ABM treaty, which prohibits the U.S. from pursuing large scale missile defenses, ignores technological breakthroughs of the past 30 years.

Russia, China and North Korea oppose a U.S. missile defense system, saying it threatens international security. And several key European allies have been skeptical. The president's security plan also calls for a reduction in arms, which isn't a new idea. In 1991, the Strategy Arms Reduction Treaty known as START II went into effect. The treaty called for a 30 to 40 percent reduction in U.S. and Russian arms.

START II, signed in 1993, is aimed at cutting the two countries' nuclear warheads to no more than 3,500 each by the year 2007. President Bush acknowledged Tuesday that he still had many details to cover regarding his national security plan. So far, all he's given to the public is a defense framework for the future.

John King has details about the proposed missile defense system and why many officials oppose it.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's speech was short on specifics, but he hinted at taking interim steps toward his long-term goal of a high-tech missile defense shield.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The preliminary work has produced some promising options for advanced sensors and interceptors that may provide this capability. If based at sea or on aircraft, such approaches can provide limited but effective defense.

KING: Mr. Bush promised consultations with allies and the Congress, and said he was committed to a major shift in national security policy: away from the big nuclear arsenal of the Cold War world in favor of a missile defense.

Mr. Bush did not name names, but had North Korea, Iran and Iraq in mind as he made his case.

BUSH: Unlike the Cold War, today's most urgent threats come from the thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states. States for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life.

KING: There were few specifics: No budget, no timetable for deployment, and no decisions on what the system would look like. Mr. Bush called the Russian President Vladimir Putin before the speech and said he was willing to work with Moscow. But he also made clear he was prepared to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty if an accommodation with Russia can not be reached.

BUSH: No treaty that prevents us from addressing today's threats, that prohibits us from pursuing promising technology to defend ourselves, our friends and our allies. It is in our interests, or the interests of world peace.

KING: Mr. Bush also promised to push for major cuts in U.S. nuclear stockpiles but again, no numbers. The United States has about 7,200 nuclear weapons now, and has committed to bring that number down to 3,500.

President Clinton had hoped to reach agreement with Russia on reducing the number to 2,500, and some Bush Advisers believe 1,500 is enough to maintain a credible nuclear deterrence.

Administration teams will soon head to Europe and Asia to make the case to skeptical allies, and Mr. Bush began the lobbying with calls to the leaders of Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and NATO.

(on camera): A tough sell abroad and a tough sell here at home as well. Key Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress say they're not ready to go along, not sure yet that Mr. Bush is right, not sure yet that they should spend billions of dollars developing a system before there is any evidence the technology will actually work.

John King, CNN, the White House.


BAKHTIAR: President Bush's evolving defense strategy has become a touchy subject among some senior military officers who feel left out of the loop.

But as Jamie McIntyre reports, the Pentagon brass is chafing at the inattention and worried that some pet projects could be axed to save funding for the proposed missile defense system.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the Campaign George W. Bush surrounded himself with retired generals and admirals, and promised to be the president who would rebuild the U.S. military and restore morale. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is drawing fire from senior military officers who privately complain they are being cut out of the strategy reviews that will determine how much the Pentagon spends and on what.

LOREN THOMPSON, LEXINGTON INSTITUTE: They've excluded all the key players, including the military, and as a consequence there's going to be a lot of alienated people when they have to go out and sell this plan.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld insists he's kept the joint chiefs and the top military commanders, known as the CINCs, in the loop even if they are not represented on any of his review panels.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There's no question with a big department, that not everybody is involved in everything that goes on, but the cincs and chiefs have had repeated opportunities to participate as has the joint staff.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld does meet daily with Joint Chiefs Chairman General Hugh Shelton or his deputy. But military sources say while the generals offer their guidance, they rarely get any idea of what Rumsfeld is thinking. The military services complain they are in the dark about basic plans, such as whether they will get money needed for pilot training in the coming months. Other officers fear the administration is rushing to spend billions of dollars on a missile defense system that they would argue, if they could, might be better used on other weapons.

Its creating concern among uniformed leaders that, some say, is a byproduct of Rumsfeld's close-to-the-vest style, and his penchant for asserting civilian control over the military. THOMPSON: He's very disciplined, he's very intelligent, and he's also a little autocratic.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Sources say, when Joint Chiefs chairman, General Hugh Shelton, was informed last week about the president's big defense speech, he quipped he hoped he would also be informed about what the president would say. The irony is that the administration that ran on respect for the military appears to have left the military feeling slightly disrespected.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


WALCOTT: You know, these days it seems we're seeing more and more companies downsize in the United States. Simply put, that means they're letting employees go so that they can survive in lean economic times. In March, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 4.3 percent, up slightly from the previous month. The fact that downsizing is becoming more common is not much consolation to those who receive the dreaded pink slip. And when employers consider employees' e-mail and other information company property, the good-byes can become even more stressful.

Steve Young reports.


STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathy Fionte worked in purchasing for Lucent Technologies 33 years. Then one day in January the company gave her 15 minutes to get out. Suddenly she couldn't retrieve her voice mail. Her PC log-in didn't work, so she lost personal addresses, tax information, and summer vacation contacts.

KATHY FIONTE, FORMER LUCENT EMPLOYEE: It felt, after 33 years, that I should at least have been given an opportunity to retrieve some of what I thought were my things.

YOUNG: Lucent says it tries to treat employees with respect and sensitivity. But it adds there were reasons it can't disclose for the way it treated Ms. Fionte, who now works for a Massachusetts public service agency.

More and more fired workers face an instant PC and phone freeze- out. Knowing that, at Luminant, a big Web design firm, there was a rush, soon as it became clear that a large number of workers would be fired that very day.

TONY BRANCATO, FORMER LUMINANT EMPLOYEE: A lot of people were scrambling to just burn CDs and get their data and put it on zip discs or whatever, because they knew somebody was getting laid off.

YOUNG: Brancato, who was fired, later managed to recover personal data because he was friendly with the systems administrator. But the law is clear. If an employer has told workers all data belongs to the company, end of argument. Still, companies need to make decisions.

MICHAEL CURLEY, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY, O'MELVENY & MYERS: You don't want to take away somebody's access to purely personal information, their vacation information, travel information. On the other hand, quite often, you are shutting it down because there's also very sensitive trade-secret type information.

YOUNG: Employers are also thinking about incidents of workplace bloodshed. Will a worker locked out of his PC and phone lash back?

TIMOTHY DIMOFF, PRESIDENT, SACS CONSULTING & INVESTIGATIVE SERVICE: These employers are scared that there's going to be a serious workplace violence incident. So they want our people to be there, armed. Either in the same room or in room next door, if not with firearms, they're requesting us to have pepper spray.

YOUNG: Dimoff says the safer and more humane way is to give workers a day or two to retrieve personal data.

(on camera): He terms that "the ramp," but says more and more companies are pulling the plug. He calls that "the cliff."

Steve Young, CNN Financial News, New York.


WALCOTT: We crisscross the globe today in "Worldview." We'll spend some time in Asia later when we visit China, find out how some enterprising women are beginning their own small businesses in the face of rising unemployment and learn about the sometimes clandestine efforts of the Communist Party in Hong Kong, in Thailand meet a woman who's trying to make her mark as a monk.

But first, we turn to Cuba, where Cubans are celebrating May Day, a day marked by leftist groups as the international day of the worker. Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in support of their president, Fidel Castro, who led the annual march. In parts of Europe, May Day had a very different feel.

Bettina Luscher explains.


BETTINA LUSCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a long May Day. German police battled hundreds of violent protesters in several different neighborhoods of Berlin. German authorities had sent a record 9,000 police into the capital, trying to prevent the violence Berlin has seen every year for more than a decade.

Berlin's top law enforcement official had vowed to crack down on what he called street terror and authorities forbade one planned demonstration by a left-wing anarchist group. Another march by an extremist right-wing party, the NPD, was permitted by a German court since past marches have been peaceful. Police had feared clashes between the 900 neo-Nazis and marchers who oppose the NDP, but the police kept the two sides apart and the march ended without violent incidents.

There were some 1,000 peaceful May Day celebrations and demonstrations across Germany, marchers attempting to raise awareness on a host of issues, including fears of unemployment.

In Moscow, thousands took to the streets to commemorate May Day, traditionally one of the proudest days of the former Soviet Union and the day Red Square had seen elaborate displays of communist pride. This year, it was a modest affair.

LIDYA OLENNIKOVA, MAY DAY MARCHER: Throughout my whole life we marched on Red Square. Throughout our whole lives we have kept our traditions. Even though I had a hard time getting here, I came to celebrate this holiday because everything has been taken away from us. Moscow is overwhelmed with Western influence.

LUSCHER: Those Russians who came demanded better pay, more jobs and more workers' rights. In France, marchers demonstrated against the recent wave of layoffs by big international companies like the British chain Marks and Spencer. French workers, like many around Europe, demonstrating concern about globalization and its effect on their jobs and lives.

Bettina Luscher, CNN, Berlin.


BAKHTIAR: Thailand is an Asian nation which was once known as Siam. It's a popular tourist destination. Thailand's economy is heavily agricultural and rice is a major crop. Its official language is Thai and Buddhism is the state religion. The hierarchy of the Buddhist religion remains largely in the hands of men, however. In 1928, Buddhist authorities declared that only men can be ordained as monks. There are some 300,000 men currently serving as monks in Thailand. Now, one woman is hoping to join those ranks.

Deborah Wang reports on the challenges she faces.


DEBORAH WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a Buddhist temple not far from the bustling Thai capital, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh is waging a quiet campaign. The 56-year-old is an advocate of equal rights for women throughout the Buddhist word. Chatsumarn is also an expert on Buddhism. She's the author of more than 40 books on the subject and a teacher of Buddhist philosophy at Bangkok's prestigious Thammasat University.

Chatsumarn believes that Buddhism is, above all, an egalitarian faith.

CHATSUMARN KABILSINGH: Buddhism is the very first religion in the world that actually accepted men and women have equal potentiality for their spiritual development. But through the process of time, you know, sometimes you kind of fall back, fall back into the situation that we came out of. WANG: Since Thailand's supreme Buddhist council, or Sangha, bans women from being ordained, Chatsumarn went to Sri Lanka to be ordained as a novice. In two years, Chatsumarn could become a fully ordained monk.

For now, she is pressing Thailand's Buddhist authorities to recognize her ordination and to change the rules in order to allow women to become monks.

CHATSUMARN KABILSINGH: I hope that in the future, the Sangha and the Thai society when they say that there is possibility and female, so to say, you know, are positive. It is an asset to society. I do hope that they will consider it, and they will accept it.

Right now, we are going against our -- how do you say -- not understanding, not understanding and not accepting, but I hope in the future they will understand better.

WANG: Until then, all Chatsumarn can do is pray that Thai Buddhists will some day accept women as equals in the faith.


WALCOTT: We turn now from Thailand to another Asian nation, China. Women there are also facing challenges. China is the most populous country in the world with over one billion people. Among those growing numbers, more and more unemployed women.

Rebecca MacKinnon takes a look at the problem and some solutions.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For China's growing number of laid off factory workers, making a living takes creativity. Shu May Ling (ph) and Wu Chung Lee (ph) now deliver water the hard way, earning one Chinese yuan, or about 12 U.S. cents, per delivery. Their partner, Wong Wei Lee, admits switching from a mindless factory job to running a small business was tough.

For the past decade, economic reforms have forced thousands of money-losing state-run factories to shut down all over China. In industrial cities like Tianjin, two hours' drive from China's capital, some economists estimate real unemployment is as high as 30 percent.

(on camera): The people of Tianjin are bracing for more layoffs and factory closings after China joins the World Trade Organization next year. And as usual in China, the hardest hit will be women over 40.

(voice-over): More than 60 percent of Tianjin's current employed fall into that category. To help them help themselves, the United Nations Development Program and Tianjin city authorities have set up what's called a business incubator, giving loans to unemployed women like Wang Huaiying, who hires more employed women to embroider sweaters by hand. Wang says her education was cut short by the extremist political movements of the '60s and '70s. Few women workers her age went beyond grade school, she says, so nobody wants to hire them.

WANG HUAIYING, TIANJIN WOMEN'S FEDERATION (through translator): If we don't help them, I believe there will be a growing number of employed women in this age group. After two or three years of unemployment, people become emotionally unstable.

MACKINNON: Not to mention poorer, which is why these women say embroidering all day to earn just U.S.$3 or U.S.$4 is still a lot better than not working at all.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Tianjin, China.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Our look inside Asia continues now as we head to Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, the British colony of Hong Kong officially reverted to Chinese control. The transfer ended more than 150 years of British rule. Great Britain acquired Hong Kong from China in 1842 when the two signed a treaty at the end of the Opium War.

Later, in 1898, the two parties agreed Britain would lease Hong Kong for 99 years. But when the communists took control of China in 1949, the new communist Chinese government declared the treaties giving Britain control of Hong Kong invalid. But the two finally worked out terms of an agreement in 1984 for Britain to hand over Hong Kong as scheduled in 1997.

So far, Hong Kong has maintained much of its political and financial freedoms under China's communist control. The question is will those freedoms last?

Mike Chinoy reports.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hong Kong is the one part of the China where the Communist Party isn't supposed to call all the shots. Where a formula known as one country, two systems exists to preserve the territory's freedoms, rule of law and capitalist way of life.

And a Western-educated chief executive governs with the help of a professional civil service and a partially elected legislature.

(on camera): The Chinese Communist Party always had an ambiguous legal status in Hong Kong - never formally banned, even under British rule, but never formally registered as a political party with the government even after the 1997 handover to China. Historically, the Communists have always kept a very low profile here. Now that's beginning to change.

(voice-over): This is the headquarters of the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong. Before the handover, it was known as the new China news agency, Beijing's de factor embassy here. Behind its curtained offices, diplomats and China specialists say, operates what's called the "gong al gung way" (ph) -- the Hong Kong- Macau work committee, the formal name of the Communist Party cell in Hong Kong.

JOSEPH CHENG, CITY UNIVERSITY, HONG KONG: The liaison office remains a front of the Chinese party organization in the territory. It will definitely keep a very low profile in public, but it is the organization controlling and instructing various organizations.

CHINOY: Long-time China analysts and sources close to the Communist Party say the head of the work committee -- in effect, the party secretary in Hong Kong -- is chief of the liaison office, Xiang Enzhou (ph), seen here at a recent reception with Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Receiving its instructions from the general office of the Communist Party's central committee in Beijing, the gong al gung way works as a series of key party-run or influenced organizations in Hong Kong. According to scholars and diplomats, the organizations include the Wen Wei Po and Dogwu Po (ph), two local newspapers regarded as Beijing's mouthpieces here. The 280,000 member pro-Beijing federation of trade unions, the Bank of China and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong - the DAB -the territory's leading pro-Beijing political party.

Local China watchers describe it as the classic Communist structure, the united front.

LO SHIU-HING, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: The united front organizations, they are referred to the grassroots organizations in Hong Kong, which are led by Hong Kong people but which have very close interactions with the mainland officials in Hong Kong.

CHINOY: Some Hong Kong legislators have also raised questions about whether there are Communist Party members in the Hong Kong government itself.

EMILY LAU, HONG KONG LEGISLATOR: I am talking about the real core of the Communist Party here. Who constitutes membership of this core? How many of them are people in the Hong Kong government, members of the executive council, policy secretaries, legislators who are there? We don't know.

CHINOY: On another issue, the case of the Falun Gong: The CCP's united front throwing its weight behind calls for a crackdown. Banned in mainland China as a threat to Communist Party control, the spiritual movement is still legal here and has used Hong Kong as a platform to denounce Beijing's crackdown, to the fury of the territory's pro-China forces, who have mounted what appears to be an orchestrated political campaign urging the Hong Kong government to get tough.

First, Falun Gong activities were denounced by the pro-Beijing media, then by pro-Beijing politicians, then by liaison office chief Xiang Enzhou himself. In response to the pressure, Chief Executive Tung borrowed Beijing's language, calling the Falun Gong more or less an evil cult that the government would watch carefully.

(on camera): In some ways, the Communist Party's uneasy, half- opened, half-clandestine role in Hong Kong underscores the broader question mark about this territory: Can it remain a free and open society in a country where the Communist Party is determined to maintain its ironclad grip on power?

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Hong Kong.


BAKHTIAR: You know the old saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, it turns out art is, as well. In "Chronicle" today, we profile Andreas Gursky. He's a photograph who produces highly original photographs that illustrate modern life, everything from apartment buildings to hotel lobbies.

His first American retrospective is on display in New York and Phil Hirschkorn takes us to the show.


PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The frenzy of the new economy seen on the trade floor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, our high tech world viewed from inside a factory of the electronics company Siemens, international trade visible in rows of cars at the port of Salerno, Italy. This is the global view of Andreas Gursky, German photographer whose work is on exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, his first retrospective in the United States.

PETER GALASSI, CURATOR, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART: About 10 years ago he set out deliberately to try to picture what he thought was specific to our times now. His work isn't just a passive mirror of that world, that globalized world. It's a very inventive artistic picture of that.

HIRSCHKORN: The photographs are always in color, the prints always large. This rock concert fills 16 feet on the wall.

GALASSI: These are pictures that wouldn't be the same if they were smaller, partly because as you see in a lot of these pictures, one of his themes is the relationship between the tiny, anonymous individual and this massiveness of contemporary society or, indeed, of the landscape as a whole.

HIRSCHKORN: The lone figure is dwarfed by the environment in Gursky's cross country skiers parading through the Alps or in his tiny cable car traveling up the side of a misty mountain and these tenants staring out windows of a huge Paris apartment building.

GALASSI: He can't get back far enough to get the whole thing in his camera so he photographed, he stands here and he photographs one half of the building and then he just moves over here and he photographed the other half of the building. HIRSCHKORN: The images are merged in a computer. Gursky used the same method, piecing together negatives, with hotels. This atrium in Shanghai appears twice as large as it really is. In this picture of the Rhine River, Gursky digitally erased buildings that spoiled the pristine view. One of Gursky's influences was his father, a commercial photographer.

GALASSI: And I think it does show up in these pictures, the sort of slick perfection of the pic -- which is so much a part of the pictures derives from the commercial world.

HIRSCHKORN: So does capturing consumer abundance in the bright shelves of a California store where everything costs $0.99 and depicting the information age in stacks of international titles available at a Stockholm library. Gursky's pictures both document and idealize our times.

GALASSI: His technique is impressive, but the technique is at the service of an artistic vision and it's that vision, both its power and its originality, that draw us to him.

HIRSCHKORN: Phil Hirschkorn, CNN NEWSROOM, New York City.


BAKHTIAR: Wish I lived in New York. I'd like to see that.

WALCOTT: Yeah, me too.

Well, that wraps up today's show. We'll see you back here tomorrow.


CNN NEWSROOM is part of Cable in the Classroom, a service of the cable television industry and your local cable company.



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