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NEWSROOM for May 23, 2001

Aired May 23, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Thanks for joining us for another edition of NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott. Here's the rundown.

Up first today, using our cell phones -- a huge convenience or a huge hazard. Then, don't miss the "Daily Desk," news from business about a slowing U.S. economy and your summer job prospects. In "Worldview," it's big, it's beautiful, so how come we don't know a lot about Canada.

And finally, he could easily tell you about his success in the U.S. Instead, Hans Massaquoi comes forward with a difficult tale about growing up black in Nazi Germany.

With more than one billion cell phones in use worldwide, U.S. government officials are taking a closer look at whether convenience outweighs possible risks. There's a new effort to determine once and for all whether cell phones cause cancer.

An agency that researches human health risks is launching a $10 million study on the effects of phone's microwave emissions. Also, legislation introduced in Congress, Tuesday, may force drivers to put down their cell phones. The proposal is already being road tested in some local areas in the U.S.

Jeanne Meserve explains why some congressmen are pushing a national ban.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dialing and driving, a bad mix, Congressman Gary Ackerman decided one day, while he talked from his car on his cell phone.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: And my wife said, "You know, you're not really in your lane, you're all over the road." And it suddenly dawned on me that it's not just the other jerks that you see driving around.

MESERVE: Ackerman and Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey are proposing legislation that would withhold federal highway funds from states that do not ban cell-phone use in cars, though Corzine's bill would give states the option of allowing hands-free devices like ear pieces and headsets.

The accident that critically injured supermodel Niki Taylor was caused, the driver says, when he reached for a cell phone. And there also was the case of Jack E. Robinson, the U.S. Senate candidate from Massachusetts who was participating in a radio call-in show while driving his car.


JACK E. ROBINSON, MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: Just because the governor doesn't think that there could be...


I just got into an accident.


MESERVE: The driver of another car was to blame, but the perception exists that cell phones distract drivers and cause significant numbers of accidents.

MANTILL WILLIAMS, AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION: There is absolutely no evidence that suggests that cell phones alone are a major cause of accidents.

MESERVE: Even the head of the National Highway Safety Administration says banning cell phones in cars is premature, though 40 states are considering legislation and at least 10 localities have passed restrictions.

The cellular industry says, "Common sense can't be legislated," and the American Automobile Association points out that by facilitating the prompt reporting of accidents cell phones have actually saved lives, like another, once maligned, piece of equipment.

WILLIAMS: And as early as 1913, we were looking at banning windshield wipers because people believed that they were very distracting to drivers.

MESERVE (on camera): A couple of recent polls highlights a dilemma. In one, 67 percent said they would like to see a ban on using cell phones while driving, but when another poll asked, "Would you obey such a ban?" 61 percent said no.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Cell phones have become a necessity for many drivers, especially those who conduct business outside the office. But opponents to cell phone use in cars say carrying on conversations while driving is distracting and dangerous.

John Zarrella takes us for a ride with one real estate agent who believes the proposed cell phone ban is a major step back. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ed Klem lives in his car, on the road and on the phone.

ED KLEM, REAL ESTATE AGENT: Yeah. Give me a call if you want. The easiest way to reach me is on my cell phone.

ZARRELLA: A real estate agent, Klem says he spends about 70 percent of working time in his car. Cell phones have changed the way real estate agents do business. No longer do they have to go back and forth to the office to pick up listing information or return phone calls. It's all done from the mobile phone in the mobile office.

KLEM: Half the time, you're negotiating a contract right over your cell phone while you're driving to another appointment to list another house. This is the major way of communication.

ZARRELLA: Klem says he has no problem with legislation that would require hands-free devices. He could still do business on the go.

KLEM: If you want to survive in this business, you know, customer satisfaction is like the number one priority. And your customers want to talk to you on a daily basis, that's why pretty much I give out the cell phone number all the time.

ZARRELLA: The proposed federal legislation would leave it to the states to decide individually whether to ban all cell phone use in cars, or restrict use to hands free.

Klem says the real estate business can live with restrictions, but an all-out ban would be like going from the Renaissance to the dark ages.

KLEM: Hey, Ron. Hold on for a quick second. I've got another call. This is Ed.

ZARRELLA: John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


WALCOTT: Last summer, as the U.S. economy hummed along at a brisk pace, many young adults chose internships and other nonpaying opportunities over traditional jobs. But this year's dramatic economic slowdown may reverse that trend. In fact, businesses cut over 200,000 jobs last month. That's the largest single job cut since 1991.

So what does that mean for your summer job hunt? Well, CNN's Brian Palmer checks out one woman's search for employment.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last year's strong economy allowed more young adults to pursue non-paying summer opportunities like internships, instead of working for a paycheck.

JOHN STINSON, ECONOMIST, U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS: The youth population is increasing slightly right now. But the proportions, again, are -- who are coming into the labor force during the summer has been going down.

PALMER: Thea Shanberg (ph), a 20-year-old New Jersey college student already has a day job.

THEA SHANBERG, COLLEGE STUDENT: I was interested in applying for a job here.

PALMER: But she is making the rounds of local restaurants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you know, I will be honest with you. Most of the time, I hire people who have a little bit of experience.

PALMER: Looking for night job waiting tables.

SHANBERG: I basically need a job to support my living and the main thing is to fund my books and to pay for housing.

PALMER (on camera): Thea, with the economy kind of slacking off, is that an additional reason why you are looking for jobs now?

SHANBERG: Yes, I think so, because unfortunately, this time is a slow time in the apparel business, which is what I am working in right now, and this business, I think, is pretty big during the summer.

PALMER (voice-over): It is too soon to say how seriously the economic slowdown will affect the summer job plans of the nation's youth, but some experts say it will have an affect.

JOSEPH ZAMPARELLI, SMELLING CROSS STAFFING: Opportunities for these kids, because with all the layoffs, don't know if there is going to be as many opportunities as the past couple of summers.

PALMER: Shanberg (ph) already has the jump on the competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you would be a great asset to the team. I hold orientations on Tuesday afternoons at 3:30 in the afternoon. Do you think you can make that?

PALMER: Nailing down an offer the first day of her job hunt.

Brian Palmer, CNN, Milltown, New Jersey.


WALCOTT: History and legend take the spotlight in "Worldview" today. Have you ever heard of the Loch Ness monster? Well, we travel to Scotland to join the search for the allusive Nessie. And is there an ominous link between the U.S. and Nazi Germany? We examine a report that high technology helped the Holocaust. Plus, a trip to Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world in area. It's in North America, just north of the United States. The country is bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the U.S. state of Alaska in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east.

What else is there to know about Canada? Well, the country is made up of 10 provinces and 3 federal territories. Canada has two official languages: English and French. Ottawa is the capital city. That's where you'll usually find the country's leader, Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Did you already know all this about Canada? If not, you're not alone. Canada is one of those countries that seems to maintain a low profile in the rest of the world.

Bill Delaney takes a look at why that might be.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beautiful, yes. Big, very. The second largest country on earth. The thing about Canada, though, there's a third B word that does come up.

(on camera): Having to do with Canada allegedly not being all that interesting. What is it about us down here in our little patch of North America when it comes to Canada?

(voice-over): Maybe it's just we're such good friends the place just doesn't much keep us up nights or is it really the place kind of puts us to sleep? You do find cluelessness about Canada, even in Boston, Massachusetts, where the state's governor, for Pete's sake, just even quit to become U.S. ambassador to Canada.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not talked about. It's an afterthought. It's there, but nobody talks about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like Canada doesn't - you never really hear about it, you know?

DELANEY: Who's in charge up there? Who's the leader?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, good question. I don't even know what his name is.

DELANEY: Do you? And if you do, can you spell it?

Mary Clancy, Canadian Consul General in Boston, names and spells Jean Chretien while conceding her prime minister is a bit less known down here than the American president up there.

MARY CLANCY, CANADIAN CONSUL GENERAL: We think about you a hell of a lot more than you think about us.

MCKENZIE: The topic is: Why are parking lots so small at doughnut places? OK?


DELANEY: There's just this sense not much discouraged by great Canadians like the McKenzie Brothers or the immortal Do-Right that the U.S. of A. is just that much more of mightily macho.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile, at the Mountie Camp...

NELL: Dudley, will you walk with me? The marigolds are in bloom.

DUDLEY DO-RIGHT: I am sorry, Nell, I have something else to do.

DELANEY: Self-importance, Canadians do feel.

CLANCY: We're 30 million. Next year 300.

DELANEY: Inferiority complex?

CLANCY: Oh, that might be the word that you would use.

DELANEY: Yet, Canadians are as multifaceted as Peter Jennings who's always so neat and tidy, Neil Young who always dresses so cool. And then there's Alanis Morissette who sometimes doesn't bother to dress at all. All three, of course, do live in the United States, not helping temper that American superiority complex.


DELANEY: You sure of that?


DELANEY: Well, debatable, and at least they have universal health care. And anyway, complexes get complicated.

CLANCY: It's an inferiority complex that sometimes hides itself with the superiority complex. You know there's an old saying that Americans are arrogant and Canadians are smug. And Canadians are really glad that Americans are arrogant because it gives Canadians something to be smug about.

DELANEY: As for women, Canadian Margo Kidder was Lois Lane, you know. Even Superman fell in love with one of the many, many greatnesses of the Great White North, and can you blame him?


DELANEY: Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Holocaust was one of the darkest chapters in world history during the 20th century. During World War II, the Nazi regime in Germany rounded up and then killed millions of Jews and other - quote - "undesirables" from across Europe. It wasn't until the war ended that the rest of the world began to fully understand the scope of the atrocity. Americans, among others, were horrified and outraged.

But there are charges now that one major U.S. company may have played at least an indirect role in the slaughter.

That story from Steve Young.


STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A forerunner of the modern computer, a punch card device is on permanent display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. IBM's Hollerith Machine enabled the trains to run on time in Hitler's Germany, aided his rearmament program, and according to a new book, helped the fuhrer automate his persecution of the Jews.

1937, IBM's founder, Thomas Watson with Hitler in Berlin. At the time, Germany was IBM's second-best customer after the United States. That much was known. But "IBM and the Holocaust" says the company produced custom punch cards which enabled the Nazis to generate lists of groups to be sent to death camps: Jews, homosexuals, gypsies.

EDWIN BLACK, AUTHOR, "IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST": If what Nazi Germany wants is to find out who the Polish Jews are in Berlin, in goes a column for Jew; in goes a column for a person of nationality, Poland; in goes a column for mother tongue, which is Polish; and of course there would be the location in Berlin.

YOUNG: Some experts say Black's charges against IBM are credible.

WILLIAM SELTZER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: IBM had a hands-on management. It was Watson's style to have a hands-on management in operations. Secondly, IBM deceived both the German government and the American government in the degree of control it had over its subsidiary.

YOUNG: Other experts disagree with the book and think the Nazis may have used low-tech counting techniques. Black says you can add up people on an abacus, but the only way the Nazis could have cross- tabulated was with IBM's Hollerith Machine.

IBM declined to be interviewed for this story. One reason could be that a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Holocaust victims yesterday, just as the book reached the stores.

In a statement the company says: "IBM finds the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime abhorrent and condemns any actions which aided their unspeakable acts."

The company also says it "does not have much information or records about this period or the operations of its German unit."

YOUNG: Black says one reason could be that IBM transferred some of its documents to New York University, not to its archive, but to an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, who put them in a closet until Black persuaded him to show him the documents. BLACK: They could have been given to the Holocaust Museum. They could have been given to New York University Archive, but they were given to a closet.

YOUNG (on camera): In its statement IBM says, quote: "It remains interested in any new information that advances understanding of this tragic era, and looks to appropriate scholars and historians to verify it."

Steve Young, CNN Financial News, New York.


WALCOTT: On to Scotland, the political division of the United Kingdom. Get set for a legend that dates back to the early days of Scotland. In fact, back to the year 565. Even then, there were reports of a strange creature in a lake in northern Scotland. Maybe you've heard of the Loch Ness monster. It's said to have flippers and a hump or two. Some people believe it's related to a dinosaur.

While hundreds of people claim to have seen it, its existence has never been proven. Sonar tests in the lake have revealed a large body or bodies, but no one knows if Nessie is real. Attempts to verify the claims go on, however, as Linda Kennedy reports.


LINDA KENNEDY, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the waters of Loch Ness, there was today an unusual sight. Not a monster, but the latest means of hunting one: this serpent trap. During final preparations of what is a large net, the team leader explains how it should work.

JAN SUNDBERG, SEARCH ORGANIZER: If anything swims in here -- an animal swims in here, it will come in, right into the trap here and bounces off that wall there -- sort of bounces off it. That will release a spring and then it will swoosh back, and this cone-like thing inside it will close the entrance and the animal is trapped.

KENNEDY: But the net measures seven meters by five, in a loch many times that size. So they'll need luck to land anything.

(on camera): The search team has a backup plan should their serpent trap fail to capture a creature from the waters of Loch Ness. Using sonar equipment, they plan to chase any large objects lurking down below.

(voice-over): But all the search has found so far is attention from the world's media, who have gathered to watch.

Linda Kennedy, ITN, Loch Ness.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WALCOTT: Monday is Memorial Day and in the spirit of this important day of remembrance, we here at CNN NEWSROOM have decided to share some war stories with you - profiles of people whose lives have been changed forever by war.

Today, we meet Hans Massaquoi, a black man who grew up in Nazi Germany. I recently spent some time with Mr. Massaquoi at his home in New Orleans.


WALCOTT (voice-over): Hans Massaquoi is the retired managing editor of "Ebony" magazine, a post that for more than 30 years gave him access to statesmen, civil rights leaders and celebrities.

But when writing his autobiography, Massaquoi chose not to write about his decades of success in the United States. Instead, in his book, "Destined to Witness," Massaquoi wrote about what it was like to grow up black in Nazi Germany.

HANS MASSAQUOI, AUTHOR: The main thing, you know, I didn't want to be an outsider. I didn't want to be - I was - my color set me apart from everyone.

WALCOTT: Massaquoi was born in 1926 in the city of Hamburg, son of a German nurse and an African diplomat. His parents never married. And while he was still an infant, his father returned to his native Liberia leaving Massaquoi and his mother to fend for themselves. He was one of just a handful of blacks living in Germany at that time. His African features made him a standout, but he says his classmates and teachers accepted him, at least early on.

MASSAQUOI: And then in 1933 when Hitler took power, everything changed. All of a sudden racism became the number one priority in Germany.

WALCOTT: Massaquoi was just 7 years old. At first, he was fascinated by the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. So fascinated, he had his babysitter sew a swastika on to one of his school sweaters.

MASSAQUOI: And, of course, when the teacher -- my teacher who was very -- this was one of the exceptionally nice teachers -- this lady Frauline Byerly (ph) -- when she saw it, she had -- she knew -- she saw the contradiction and she happened to have a camera and she took this picture, which then became the cover of my book.

WALCOTT: The sight upset Massaquoi's mother.

MASSAQUOI: When my mother saw me after school that I had worn this swastika on my sweater, she immediately, you know, ripped it off.

WALCOTT: His childhood soon became filled with restrictions and rejections. But leaving Germany was out of the question. Massaquoi says he and his mother were too poor to travel. With no other blacks around to identify with, Massaquoi developed a fascination with Nazism, especially with a group known as the Hitler Youth. MASSAQUOI: The Hitler Youth was an organization that had the boys marching through the streets blowing trumpets and fanfares and beating drums and walking around with flags waving and that sort of thing. And they would go on overnight hikes and all the kinds of things that appeal - that are sort of Boy Scout like with, of course, plenty of political indoctrination on the side.

WALCOTT: But Massaquoi was not allowed to join the group. One of his teachers told him black children were not welcome.

MASSAQUOI: Being told that I could not join, that, to me, at the time, was the hardest thing for me to face because I wanted so much to be one of them.

WALCOTT: It was often Massaquoi's teachers who reminded him he was not one of them. One even made a not-so-veiled threat on his life.

MASSAQUOI: He said when we are done with the Jews, you will be next. And I knew that the Jews were not treated kindly. I knew that Jews went into concentration camps. I knew that Jews were maligned and that their shops were destroyed and they were driven out of their businesses and that sort of thing. So I had seen much of that.

WALCOTT: Massaquoi credits his own survival to pure luck. He says even though he was routinely spotted by German soldiers, neither he, nor his mother, were ever approached by the authorities.

But life remained difficult for Massaquoi, especially as he moved into adolescence. In school, he routinely faced vicious remarks and racist name-calling. Even though he was a good student, he was not allowed to go to high school. And when other German teenagers started dating, Massaquoi knew that was out of the question for him.

MASSAQUOI: I had this hanging over me throughout my childhood and later (ph) and especially during my teens when it was made clear to me that if I ever got caught with a - with an Aryan girl in any kind of romantic situation that it could mean either sterilization or execution.

WALCOTT: By the time he grew more aware of the Nazi regime's true nature, Germans were at war and Massaquoi's life became even more of a delicate game of survival. He and his mother were nearly killed when British forces leveled Hamburg in 1943. The apartment where they lived was completely destroyed.

After some 200 air attacks, the government started evacuating the people of Hamburg to other parts of the country. Massaquoi and his mother boarded a train for the German countryside where they stayed with his mother's relatives. There, Massaquoi witnessed prisoner convoys passing through the village on the way to a concentration camp. A fate he managed to avoid, he says, because he fell under the German radar.

MASSAQUOI: Blacks were so few throughout Germany that they were not part of the German priority -- the priority for killing people. We blacks were not a threat in the sense that the Germans perceived Jews to be a threat.

WALCOTT: When the war finally ended, Germany was in ruins. Massaquoi was able to save his mother and himself from starvation by playing saxophone in clubs that cater to American soldiers. He eventually left Germany for Africa and later immigrated to the United States.

These days, Massaquoi calls the Buyou home. His life in New Orleans, a far cry from the working class neighborhoods of Hamburg. And even though he knows his life was constantly in danger, Massaquoi still has some warm feelings for his childhood home. He says age and experience have taught him that the Nazis did not hold a monopoly on hate.

MASSAQUOI: Racism is almost you see it everywhere throughout the world. You see it in Rwanda and Burundi. You see it in Kosovo. You see it in Northern Ireland. You see it, you know, you name it and there's racism. You see it raise its ugly head again in Germany now with the Neo-Nazis, the so-called skinheads, and we have the same problem here. So racism is a universal thing and I think all people -- all decent people in the world have to stay vigilant to make sure that the kinds of excesses that happened in Nazi Germany will not reoccur.


WALCOTT: That's quite a story.

Tomorrow, we'll profile Kim Che Tyler (ph), a woman who's life was changed forever by the Vietnam War. You won't want to miss her story.

But for now, that wraps up today's show. We'll see you tomorrow.




4:30pm ET, 4/16

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