NEWSROOM for June 1, 2001
Aired June 1, 2001 - 04:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tom Haynes. Glad you're with us today.
Here's what's coming up.
In "Today's News," a political scandal in Indonesia as that country's parliament calls for an impeachment of their president. In "Editor's Desk," women on the World Wide Web. We'll check out a network just for the gals on the Internet. On to "Worldview" and racial tensions in the United States. We'll examine police-community relations in the city of Cincinnati. Finally, in "Chronicle," the value of a penny -- the debate over whether to keep the copper coin in the U.S. monetary system.
Well, announcing political and economic problems put Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on the path to impeachment. Parliament, Wednesday, called on the People's Consultative Assembly to impeach him on charges of corruption and incompetence. The Assembly, the country's highest body, set a hearing on the charges for August 1.
For three decades, former Indonesian dictator Suharto kept the nation stable by limiting citizen's rights and using the army to control lawbreakers. Well, about 19 months ago, after weeks of unrest, brought the nation's first democratic election. Sixty-year- old Abdurrahman Wahid was voted into power. But since that time, political and economic problems have snowballed to the point that they've drastically weakened the central government and its ability to protect its own citizens. Millions of Indonesians are unemployed and poverty is growing.
The government has failed to implement crucial economic reforms. Human rights officials have tried to help the nation's people, but they operate at great risk, namely in the areas of Aceh, Papua and the Molugoas where violence has become commonplace.
President Wahid has refused to answer questions about his political future. But after the parliament vote, through his advisers, he backed off on earlier threats to declare an emergency and dissolve parliament. President Wahid has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly stated he won't resign. Indonesia's Foreign Minister says his boss will try to negotiate an end to the crisis before the start of any impeachment proceedings. But many opponents say that's not possible.
And as Atika Shubert reports, there is much speculation as to what Mr. Wahid will do next.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Indonesia President Abdurrahman Wahid showed no signs of concern as hosted several heads of state at the closing of the G15 summit, brushing off lawmakers' demands for his impeachment, refusing to answer questions regarding the latest censure.
ABDURRAHMAN WAHID, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I won't answer that. I have said already that this is for the G15. If you ask for the influence, it has no influence at all.
SHUBERT: Words of confidence. Just one day earlier, an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted to begin impeachment proceedings against President Wahid, calling him before a special session of the national assembly.
But impeachment, if it happens, is still weeks, possibly months away, as lawmakers haggle over the agenda; perhaps enough time for President Wahid to find some way to keep his office, even though the man in charge of the impeachment process, says that is impossible.
AMIEN RAIS, ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN: Only a miracle can help him, but now we live in a reasonable and rational workplace, and no miracle anymore.
SHUBERT: A miracle may be exactly what President Wahid's supporters are looking for, staking out the presidential palace, demanding for an end to impeachment proceedings, die-hard loyalists who say they will defend the president at any cost. They are not ready to give up the fight just yet.
(on camera): Opponents say President Wahid's days in office are numbered, urging him to find a graceful way out, but Mr. Wahid, encouraged by his supporters, has repeatedly said he will not resign. Lawmakers say that leaves no option but impeachment.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Jakarta.
HAYNES: Much of the international community is deeply concerned about the regional conflicts in Indonesia, both in terms of the human costs as well as the nation's long-term political and economic stability. All this, as many international companies and investors are backing away from business and financial commitments in Indonesia.
Kitty Pilgrim looks at the implications of the nation's political crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scenes like these have been common in Indonesia this week. President Wahid, Indonesia's first democratically elected leader, has been threatening to use emergency powers to remain in control. The IMF has canceled a $400 million loan to the country, and many fear if the violence increases, the country's financial problems will spill into the rest of Southeast Asia.
Western investment is at a standstill.
ROBERT HORMATS, GOLDMAN SACHS INTERNATIONAL: Virtually no new investment is taking place in Indonesia at this point. A lot of the big investments that were contemplated, I think, are on hold. Some companies are leaving. Most people are waiting to see how the situation resolves itself before making new, big capital commitments.
PILGRIM: ExxonMobil has been forced to close its large-scale liquid natural gas operation in the province of Aceh last month because of attacks on its workers. The company says it will stay closed indefinitely until the violence subsides. Financial analysts worry that with increased conflict the region's growth will slow, currencies will plummet.
JOYCE CHANG, J.P. MORGAN: You can see a spillover effect extend to the Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, including Singapore, and also perhaps including Malaysia and the Philippines.
PILGRIM: Much of Asia's supply of oil and natural gas passes through the Indonesian shipping lanes in the straights of Malacca.
MICHAEL KURTZ, IDEAGLOBAL: Indonesia as a sprawling archipelago sits astride key sea lanes in the region, though which, for example, all of the oil to Taiwan, to South Korea and to Japan, the key industrial economies of Asia, flows. So Indonesia is very important to the region.
PILGRIM (on camera): Indonesia is the world's fifth most populous country. Many worry, in the event of extreme unrest there could be immigration to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore or Australia.
Kitty Pilgrim, CNN Financial News, New York.
HAYNES: Here in the United States there are more than nine million businesses owned by women. Those businesses employ 27-and-a- half million people and contribute $3.6 trillion to the economy. That's a lot of money.
Now, obviously women are a major force in the business world, but many of them had to overcome great obstacles in the pursuit of success.
Now Allison Tom introduces us to an entrepreneur who's making strides on the World Wide Web. Her name -- yes, you guessed it -- Cybergrrl.
ALLISON TOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aliza Sherman is guiding women to the World Wide Web.
ALIZA SHERMAN, BUSINESSWOMAN: I think that for too long women did not have either access to the right tools or the right positions to truly have success at the highest levels in business. Now, with the Internet, they always say that the playing field is leveling.
TOM: In 1995, Sherman started an Internet company called Cybergrrl. Soon after, a new group formed called Web Girls International. The women's network now includes 100 chapters around the world.
SHERMAN: The goal of that initially was just to meet other women who knew what the Internet was because, at the time, there were so few women online and even fewer women who had Internet companies like I had.
TOM: But Sherman says building her own Internet company had its ups and downs.
SHERMAN: I loved the ability to set my own hours. What I didn't realize is that starting an Internet company meant all hours were work hours.
TOM: So Sherman decided to take a different path. But this time, in an RV instead of an office.
SHERMAN: Living in a house on wheels, and I am relaxed. I'm taking time. I am enjoying what I am doing and appreciating what I am able to do. I definitely can breathe.
TOM: Sherman is wired with a laptop computer, a cell phone and a personal digital assistant. And in her latest book, "Cybergrrl@work," Sherman offers advice to business professionals.
SHERMAN: There's 100 stories of women around the world who are really using the Internet for their careers or for their businesses.
TOM: Sherman says her mission is to unite women by showing them the advantages of the Internet both professionally and personally. For now, Sherman is leaving the hectic pace of the high-tech world behind, but she says she will always be connected.
Allison Tom, CNN.
HAYNES: In "Worldview" today, we turn our attention to the United States and race relations. Our focus is on an Ohio city where both blacks and whites are heading to court for hate crimes. Charges of ethnic intimidation follow the looting and violence that rocked Cincinnati nearly two months ago. Cincinnati, Ohio, is a commercial and cultural center. It's a transportation hub as well as the site of museums, opera and a symphony. But recently, Cincinnati has been in the spotlight for other reasons. The April shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked a week of violence.
It's prompted a review of policies and practices followed by the Cincinnati police force and it's pushed police-community relations and race relations to the forefront, as John Vause explains.
CHARLIE LUKEN, MAYOR OF CINCINNATI: This is not a Cincinnati problem. This is a United States of America problem, and anybody who's sitting out there that doesn't think that this can happen in their town, they'd better think again.
REV. DAMON LYNCH III, NEW PROSPECT BAPTIST CHURCH: Cincinnati has a huge racial problem that it does not want to face. We've had racial issues and incidents here for as far back as I can remember, but we don't want to face the fact that we're a small little town on the river that has some serious racial issues.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Cincinnati erupted in violence, it seems no one here was surprised. According to most, racial tension has been simmering for decades. The spark was the fatal police shooting of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African- American teenager who was stopped with traffic violations and decided to run.
The Reverend Damon Lynch is pastor of the New Prospect Baptist Church, an inner-city church which ministers to a mostly black neighborhood. He says Timothy Thomas was no different from most young black men in Cincinnati. They run from the police because they're afraid.
LYNCH: They're criminalized young African Americans in our community. Their mindset is that they're coming into a war zone. The majority of them live outside of the community. And of course, the officers know the famous five words -- I feared for my life. And once they say those words, it's usually deemed that whatever they've done is OK.
VAUSE: Those allegations have infuriated Keith Fangman, president of the police union.
KEITH FANGMAN, POLICE UNION PRESIDENT: The national media has been told by some in Cincinnati and has been broadcast repeatedly that 15 black males have been murdered at the hands of Cincinnati police officers to give the impression that this is some sort of a Nazi, rogue, out of control police division. And our officers, black and white, are very offended at that misinterpretation.
VAUSE: Cecil Thomas was a Cincinnati police officer for almost 30 years. These days he heads the city's human relations commission. Two years ago, while still on the force, he wrote a report warning of growing problems between the black community and police.
(on camera): When you say police, are you saying white police officers, or are you saying African-American officers as well?
CECIL THOMAS, CINCINNATI HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION: No, we're talking both. We're talking about a police culture that exists within Cincinnati, that has existed for a very long time, and several of our black officers also get caught up in that police culture.
VAUSE (voice-over): He traces it back to his first weeks of training and the message from a drill sergeant.
THOMAS: The first thing that he said to all of the class was that any cop that rats on another cop is the lowest scum of the earth. So now, that's the beginning of that culture that I'm talking about.
VAUSE: Charlie Luken was elected mayor just over a year ago. For months, he says he's been warning that relations between African Americans and the police could turn violent.
LUKEN: When I gave my state of the city speech five months ago, I told that group assembled there that this was the number-one problem in the city and we'd better take notice. It is unfortunate that it takes this kind of occurrence to get people to do that.
VAUSE: So what's being done? The city doesn't need to look far. They've seen at least six major reports into the Cincinnati police and race relations, the first in 1968. Critics say they were all shelved.
THOMAS: And we see that time and time again in Cincinnati. It's just to file a report, form a committee, file a report, get everybody thinking that something's going to be done. When it gets quiet and everything goes away, then we go back to business as usual.
VAUSE: In the last few months, the city council passed new laws to deal with what's become known as racial profiling.
SCOTT GREENWOOD, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Racial profiling is what occurs whenever law enforcement uses race or ethnicity as a proxy or a stand-in for other factors. So if race becomes part of the determination of whether to stop somebody in the first place, then it's illegal and then it's racial profiling.
VAUSE: Despite the new laws, Scott Greenwood and the American Civil Liberties Union is still suing the city, arguing the new ordinance was simply an attempt to dodge the lawsuit.
GREENWOOD: I mean, council can pass ordinances all it wants. That won't address the problem. Part of the problem that we identified when we filed the lawsuit, which was before they even had their act, was this pattern of continuous implementation, where the city would enact some change and then never really get around to completing the reform.
VAUSE (on camera): Are there elements of racism in the police force?
LUKEN: I think there is racism everywhere in the country, and the police forces are no different. I think overall the police force is good men and women who are trying very hard to do their best.
VAUSE (voice-over): Protesters say they took to the streets not only for Timothy Thomas, but also for the 14 other black men who have been killed by police since 1995. But according to leaders of the African-American community, the riots go much deeper than that. They say there is an underlying anger here caused by social and economic inequality.
LYNCH: And you asked the question earlier about what precipitated the riots, this past summer, we have a major festival here in town that brings 150,000 people of color to our city. Thirteen of our restaurants downtown closed their doors when African- American people came to town. That's a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Embarrass Cincinnati before the world, and I want to have the judges throw the book at them. I want to work to make sure they go to prison to Lucasville for 10 to 20 years for racial intimidation and other reasons. We must send a clear message so that the next riot, when it takes place, they can say, well, you better not do it because my brother's doing 10 to 20 hard time.
VAUSE: To find out how these riots have divided the city, turn on a radio.
CALLER: Until the black race accepts personal responsibility, this problem will never be solved.
VAUSE: WLW is the city's number-one talk station. But across town at The Buzz, an all-African American station, not surprisingly, there's a very different point of view.
UNIDENTIFIED TALK SHOW HOST: The Cincinnati police are trained to shoot at the largest target area, which would be right in the chest and the torso. And obviously, they've been very good at hitting their target area when it comes to African-American men in the city of Cincinnati.
VAUSE: The question now being asked: Is Cincinnati more racist than other cities in North America? The answer here from both white and black is no. Still, every year, the Ku Klux Klan erects a cross in the heart of downtown, and a recent report found the city is the eighth most segregated in the United States.
DAN HURLEY, HISTORIAN: And that is a serious problem because what it means is that people don't rub shoulders with each other. We don't have any public transit system here to speak of. So consequently, people aren't on the subway together. They're in their cars by themselves. They're in their neighborhoods by themselves with other people just like them. They are in their work places with other people just like them. So consequently, I think we do have not a unique situation, but an aggravated situation.
VAUSE: Dan Hurley, a local historian, says one of the biggest problems here is that people are too nice, too polite. The white community has been so comfortable, economically and socially, for so long they don't know how to deal with these kinds of problems.
HURLEY: In the sense that what we don't do is we don't confront each other, and we don't fight things out. It's not Chicago. And not that there aren't downsides to that, too. But the point is what we tend to do is we tend to avoid. So that when we do get into a crisis, we don't have any skills about how to argue things out and not take it personally. And that really is a problem.
VAUSE: So when it boiled over, there was no way to contain it.
LUKEN: What our city has to do is build some level of trust. We don't have a framework for dialogue when these kinds of things happen. I mean, there is a police shooting, and the African-American community says it's murder. And elements of the white community say it's a justifiable shooting, and everybody just lobs mortars at one another.
VAUSE: The Department of Justice is now looking into police conduct during the riot. The officer who shot Timothy Thomas is the subject of a grand jury investigation, and the city is trying to find ways to work with the black community.
One thing both sides already agree on -- healing will take time.
LYNCH: Because it's a painful wound, it's a painful sore that the broader community really doesn't like to talk about. The black community talks about it all the time, we talk of issues of race. But until there is some frank conversation between both communities and all communities, we will not be able to move forward.
VAUSE (on camera): So from this, what can America learn?
LUKEN: Wake up. Wake up, and pay attention to the problems in your own community. And whether you live in an all-white neighborhood or an all-black neighborhood, it's your problem.
VAUSE (voice-over): The next test for this city -- when the grand jury decides whether or not to indict the office who killed Timothy Thomas. Then it will be seen how much progress has been made and how much more needs to be done.
John Vause, CNN, Cincinnati.
JEAN SPENCER, WOODSTOCK, GEORGIA: Hello, my name is Jean Spencer. I'm from Woodstock, Georgia. And my question is: What happens to your body in space?
CADY COLEMAN, NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, the hair can be a little out of control, but your whole body does change. Gravity keeps a lot of the fluid in our body down, you know, towards our bottom section, and as soon as you get up on orbit, it rises to the up to the top. And so people like me have pretty puffy faces up there, and we end up actually dehydrating quite a bit. We go to the bathroom a lot when we're first up there.
And our naturally hydrated state up in space is less hydrated. That means when we come back home, we have to drink a lot of water. In fact, we drink Gatorade-like things -- we call them "astroade" -- in order to get hydrated before we come home.
When we come back to earth, I liken to it to getting off of a boat and that feeling you have when you're getting your land-legs back, except maybe more exaggerated. And in my experience, the longer the mission, the longer it takes to get adapted when you get home.
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HAYNES: We were all fascinated when Dennis Tito became the first tourist to reach space. Kind of made us wonder whether or not we would ever get there someday.
Well, Tito was in Atlanta, yesterday, attending CNN's World Report Conference. And one of CNN's Student Bureau's enterprising reporters caught up with him for a quick chat.
Our story comes from Allison Walker.
ALLISON WALKER, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): When Dennis Tito was a student, floating in space was just a dream. But after training for a year and paying the Russian Space Agency $20 million, the 60-year-old American millionaire became the world's first space tourist.
DENNIS TITO, SPACE TOURIST: First time I thought of being an astronaut was about 40 years ago. So I wouldn't say that's always because I'm older than that, but it's been a life's dream.
WALKER: After what he calls "the best experience of his life," Tito is optimistic about the future of space tourism.
TITO: If I have anything to say about it, we'll have the launch vehicles that will be economical enough to, you know, allow people to fly.
WALKER: Tito expects today's younger people can look forward to someday taking a space vacation.
TITO: They might have to wait several decades until the price comes down.
WALKER: Still, a space trip won't be cheap.
TITO: They ought to start setting up a savings account right now for space because it's probably still going to cost a lot of money. So it's like putting money away for your college education when your children are young. Start saving for space.
WALKER: The company that arranged Tito's space trip is negotiating with the Russian Space Agency to send more paying customers into orbit. Although, because of NASA's objection, it's unlikely they'll be allowed to spend time on board the International Space Station. Instead, they could circle the Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft or a special module.
Allison Walker, CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.
HAYNES: Shifting gears now, we turn our attention to that old Lincoln penny. First minted in 1909, it is the oldest unchanged coin in use. But there are those who say the U.S. penny is useless -- nothing but a hassle. In fact, many merchants no longer bother making penny change.
So why keep it around? Why not just end prices between five and zero?
Here's Garrick Utley.
(SONG "PENNIES FROM HEAVEN" PLAYING)
GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of course the pennies pour not from heaven but the U.S. Mint -- 14 billion of them each year -- copper coins which are now 97 1/2 percent pure zinc. Lincoln's profile is one of the most reproduced images in the world. But what is the value of one cent today? Have pennies become confetti coins we no longer need?
(on camera): There you are walking down a street and you see a quarter lying on the pavement in front of you. Decision time. Do you pick it up, probably. If it's a nickel or a dime, maybe. But if it's a penny, do you stop, stoop and pick it up or simply walk on by? (voice-over): Pennies are still needed to satisfy the sales tax and retailers still try to seduce buyers by setting prices ending in 99 cents rather than an even dollar amount. Still, from toll booths to vending machines, the penny is finding fewer takers which has led to proposals in Congress to do away with the coin which in turn led to lobbying efforts by the zinc industry and other vested interests who defend the penny.
MARK WELLER, AMERICANS FOR COMMON CENTS: Our organization has done a considerable amount of polling the last 12 years and over 76 percent of the public want to keep the penny as a part of our coining system.
UTLEY: And how we do keep them: in jars, bottles and dresser drawers. We may not really want all those pennies, and yet we can't bring ourselves to throw them away, which is what charity organizations have long understood. They raise millions of dollars each year with pennies no one minds giving away.
The strongest argument for the penny is that without it, prices would be rounded up to the next figure and end in a five or a zero.
WELLER: There's a protection, I think, as a -- as a hedge to inflation that we have this low denomination coin that affects our pricing and helps keep prices low.
UTLEY (on camera): After all, we've invested a lot of personal value in this tiny piece of metal. We've been raised to be penny-wise to count our pennies. But times change and prices rise.
(voice-over): What should be the future of the penny, a nickel for your thoughts.
Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.
HAYNES: And that is CNN NEWSROOM for Friday. Thanks for wrapping up your week with us, and we'll see you back here on Monday. Have a great weekend.
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