NEWSROOM for June 22, 2001
Aired June 22, 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: Welcome to your Friday NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Tom Haynes.
Here's a quick look at today's rundown.
In "Today's Top Story," the U.S. energy crunch has consumers asking: Power, at what price? Then, it's Microsoft versus Nintendo in the war of the video games. The battle begins in "Editor's Desk." Get ready to celebrate in "Worldview," it's time for the summer solstice. Finally, we're talking education on "The New Frontier."
The United States Senate looks for ways to help California cope with continued threats of rolling blackouts and the bankruptcy of its largest utility. Earlier this week, the federal government announced a plan to restrain wholesale prices in 11 western states. California Governor Gray Davis says it is a step in the right direction but still not enough. Davis wants companies who supply power to refund nearly $9 billion in electricity overcharges. He's also been asking the Bush administration to impose price caps on wholesale electricity. Residents and businesses have taken a hit with the blackouts and high costs of electricity. Many are finding it hard to stay afloat.
Hena Cuevas has more on the economic affects of the energy crisis.
HENA CUEVAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth Seiji says she dreads opening her flower shop's electric bill each month.
ELIZABETH SEIJI, FLOWER SHOP OWNER: You don't know what to expect. You know, it's really -- you open it up and you don't know if it's going to go up, you know, 20, 30, 40, 50 percent.
CUEVAS: Plans to update her flower coolers are now on hold.
SEIJI: You know, the money that I could have used for that is going away and paying for energy costs.
CUEVAS: Like Seiji, the rest of California keeps paying more to keep the lights on. The state government has already paid an estimated $7 billion this year to cover energy expenses; funds that were budgeted for other programs such as schools, highways, and parks.
JACK KYSER, L.A. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: They're going to see a lot of wish lists get really drastically cut back, and people are very, very concerned.
CUEVAS: Concerned and frustrated. In the blame game, politicians are some of the first to be faulted. With statewide elections in 2002, including the governor's post, some analysts say politicians are already preparing for a possible fallout.
SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, POLITICAL ANALYST: If you're a shrewd politician, you are going to make sure that you've covered all angles and that you've inoculated yourself as best as you possibly can from the political damage that might occur.
CUEVAS: There could also be a price to pay with the environment. Last week, Governor Davis announced he would relax emissions controls that power plants to help increase their output. In a state that's been struggling to clean up its act, some fear this could turn back the clock.
KEVIN FINNEY, COALITION FOR CLEAN AIR: This campaign that's under way to just throw out a lot of the air control regulations would really begin to move us backwards to the days where we did have these really terrible smog alerts on a regular basis.
CUEVAS (on camera): When discussing the long-term consequences of California's energy crisis, most people agree the price paid to keep power running through these lines may be more than just dollars and cents.
Hena Cuevas, CNN, Los Angeles.
HAYNES: The stakes are unbelievably high in the video game industry. It's a $6 billion a year business. And the day before the industry's biggest event begins, Microsoft and Nintendo each tried to steal the headlines by announcing their newest video game hardware.
The story from CNN technology correspondent Rick Lockridge in Los Angeles.
RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now the carnage really begins as Microsoft`s X-Box and Nintendo`s Game Cube prepare to do battle against Sony`s PlayStation 2 in the lucrative but brutal home video game arena.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s never been a better time to be a gamer.
LOCKRIDGE: Maybe, but you'll have decisions to make. Do you go with the muscular graphics of the DVD based X-Box, or stay with the somewhat less powerful Game Cube for Nintendo`s best selling games; Pokemon, Super Mario, Donkey Kong. Or do you join the millions who have already invested in PlayStation 2? Battle plans are starting to emerge. Nintendo will stay with its core audience, children and their parents who appreciate family-oriented, nonviolent games, although Game Cube will certainly offer some violent titles as well. Shipping on November 5 at a price yet to be announced, Game Cube will be a lean machine with no hard drive, no modem, no DVD player.
PERRIN KAPLAN, VP, NINTENDO: We`re not interested in showing movies, playing movies or having people surf the Internet. Our focus is gaming.
LOCKRIDGE: Meanwhile the $299 X-Box will pursue the hard-core gamer, males 16 to 28, who demand high-performance graphics, sound, and the suffering that can be replicated when you have those capabilities. The X-Box will come Internet ready and there`s an optional headset that will enable you to verbally taunt opponents you`re playing over the Internet. Microsoft expects that to be a hugely popular feature.
ROBBIE BACK, MICROSOFT: You`re sneaking up on that guy in "Halo," you`re getting ready to shoot him and then you get the message "You've Got Mail!" You`re just not going to get that in X-Box.
LOCKRIDGE: What is he talking about?
(on-camera): Sony has just announced it will partner with America Online the parent company of CNN, to add e-mail and instant messaging capability to its front running product the PlayStation 2.
(voice-over): If you video games themselves are often pretty savage, wait till the console wars begin in earnest this November.
Rick Lockridge, CNN, Los Angeles.
HAYNES: Well, time for "Worldview" now. Today, we look at business and culture. Find out about the many uses of bamboo as we travel to China. You'll see how the wood is an important building block in the construction industry. Also, find out why some people are singing the blues to bring better harmony to the workplace.
But first, to Great Britain. Thursday, thousands gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice. Although its purpose is a mystery, some scientists believe Stonehenge, a grouping of huge stones, was an ancient tribal gathering spot. It was built in four stages from about 2,800 to 1,100 years before Christ. Today, it's a popular tourist attraction drawing more than one million visitors each year.
KORTIA CRUCHMAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the longest day broke over Salisbury Plain, 40,000 people stood among the stones. A low band of cloud blocks the first rays of sun, which would have shown straight through one of the specially aligned arches. Minutes later, the effect was dazzling. Among the crowds, some druids and pagans, but others were there for fun; all of them grateful for the rare opportunity to celebrate midsummer's day at Stonehenge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been really peaceful, hasn't it. It's been really nice. I'm so pleased it's been like this. It's been a really lovely night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just all come together; the feeling in circle itself is just immense, really.
CRUCHMAR: It's only the second year in a row that the public has been allowed anywhere near the prehistoric monument. A four-mile exclusion zone was set up in the 1980s after violent clashes between police and revelers, And While some defied a ban on climbing the stones, once again, the sensitive police and policy paid off. There were just five arrests for minor drug offenses, and police praised the good-nature crowd, boding well for future celebrations.
Kortia Cruchmar, ITN.
JASON FIGLIOLINI, NORCROSS, GEORGIA: Hi. My name is Jason Figliolini. I live in Norcross, Georgia. And I want to ask CNN: What's the moon made of?
ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not made of cheese. Here's what scientists theorize. About 4.4 billion years ago a planetary body about the size of Mars went hurtling toward what was then a very young earth, slammed into earth, vaporized and broke into many pieces, as well, and some of those pieces went back into space and formed a ring around our earth. Eventually, those pieces fused together and became our moon.
The moon has three layers -- an iron core, a hot fluid mantle and a tough outer crust, but no atmosphere. Scientists say the moon experiences volcanoes and layers of its inner rock shift. Meteorites continue to hit the moon. That's how it gets its uneven landscape. Those pockmarks are scars of meteorite hits. The moon is made of rubble from those meteorites, rock fragments and dust. The soil has been accumulating for four billion years and it continues to change.
HAYNES: Walk down the hallways of your school and you're bound to hear people complaining about one thing or another. It could be a test or something related to work. We've all done it before at one time or another. But how do you turn griping in hallways into something a little more productive?
Well, Susan Lisovicz has the story of a group of entrepreneurs who are turning a love of the blues into a burgeoning business.
MITCH DITKOFF, CO-FOUNDER, FACE THE MUSIC: I don't think that everybody has the blues, I know that everybody has the blues.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Friday at Orange & Rockland Utilities just outside New York City, and its employees are singing the blues -- their corporate blues.
LISOVICZ: This isn't a paid gig. This is part of a unique program called Face the Music, which is the brainchild of corporate consultant and blues lover Mitch Ditkoff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What blues have you got tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Office politics.
DITKOFF: I was in a blues club with my wife one night listening to a local blues band. And about the third song, it dawned on me that all my corporate clients have the blues, but they don't have a really powerful, simple way to express the blues.
PAUL DUFFY, CO-FOUNDER: First I thought, that's nutty. And then I thought, wow, what a cool idea.
PAUL KWIECINSKI, CO-FOUNDER, FACE THE MUSIC: I remember going to the first gig and everybody was a little bit like, is this going to really happen? And I thought, no problem, this is going to work.
LISOVICZ: The Face the Music band kicks off its show by singing some of its original tunes, like the "Business Communication Blues."
LISOVICZ: But the meat of the program is when employees break up into small groups to write their own songs about what's bugging them at work.
DITKOFF: It builds teamwork, it enhances collaboration, it definitely sparks risk-taking behavior, and it gets people thinking about what needs fixing, what needs improving.
KWIECINSKI: If you don't know anything, I can get you to write a blues song.
We need two more lines. I can get three verses out of you. So there's no one that can't do it.
DITKOFF: It's not about just complaint and a lynch mob, it's about expressing what's true and then figuring out how to go beyond that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they opened up their energy bills and found...
LISOVICZ: The groups get about 45 minutes to write and rehearse their songs...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voodoolulu.
LISOVICZ: ... before show time.
DITKOFF: We're trying to get people off of their day-to-day regular personality, their little job identity, their position, their title, get into a totally different mindset in order for them to accomplish an extraordinary result and to do something different.
LISOVICZ: Their singing might be a little off key...
LISOVICZ: ... but Ditkoff says the real value is just being able to verbalize these verses.
DITKOFF: To vent, to cathart, to get it out and to accelerate the process of going beyond the blues so that next year they're not singing the same old blues.
LORRAINE PAPENBERG, ORANGE & ROCKLAND UTILITIES: I think Face the Music gives them an opportunity to express themselves and express their frustrations that any business or corporation is going to go through.
JOHN FERRARO, ORANGE & ROCKLAND UTILITIES: We've learned to identify what gets to us at work, what gives us the corporate blues. And maybe by first identifying them will give us the step towards solving them.
LISOVICZ: The corporate world seems to be listening. Started in 1999, Face the Music has already worked with a number of big-time companies like GE, Panasonic, and Con Edison.
PAPENBERG: I think it's very important in today's corporate business world that we have fun and we do our jobs the best we can, and we have the tools necessary in order to do them differently, creatively and out of the box. And using Face the Music is definitely a great idea.
DITKOFF: It's bottom-line focused, in that we're saying that your work force, the morale will be higher, the collaboration will be deeper, the ability for people to team and to get things done will increase, and you'll get off of the junk that people have been obsessing about.
LISOVICZ: This band doesn't plan on breaking up anytime soon. In fact, it's looking to play on a bigger stage.
DITKOFF: Tons of applications, not just in business, but in any organization where there's some challenge and difficulty and some friction.
KWIECINSKI: No matter how serious our jobs are, what's at stake, there's something funny about the whole thing. And if we bring that spirit to what we're doing, we're going to get a lot further.
LISOVICZ: For "ENTREPRENEURS ONLY," I'm Susan Lisovicz, CNN Financial News.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Now to China to explore the many uses of bamboo. Bamboo is a giant grass famous for it's hollow, woody stem. There are more than 700 species of bamboos. Some bamboos stand as high as 120 feet, or 37 meters, and have stems as large as one foot in diameter.
Bamboo provides many essential articles for people who live in tropical countries, especially Asian lands. Asian farmers may live in bamboo houses, sit on bamboo chairs, eat food prepared in bamboo containers or sleep on bamboo mats. They wear sandals woven from bamboo strips and they eat young bamboo shoots as vegetables, and the list goes on and on.
Bamboo is also used in cities. In fact, it's an important building material
Phil O'Sullivan takes us to Hong Kong, China to give us a closer look at just how useful bamboo can be.
PHIL O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks precarious, even downright dangerous, but almost every building in Hong Kong has been constructed with the help of bamboo scaffolding. With a ready supply of renewable bamboo from southern China, this ancient industry is still far more popular than steel in Hong Kong. It's high-rise success is dictated by the bottom line.
JAMES GRAHAM, GAMMON CONSTRUCTION: Bamboo probably costs, in terms of the life of a project, probably costs a little over half of the cost of an equivalent steel scaffold.
O'SULLIVAN: Bamboo scaffolders outnumber their colleagues who work with steel scaffolding by 5-1. And if anything, there aren't enough scaffolders to keep up with demand. Company owners say parents don't want their sons in such an old and dangerous looking occupation. But there's much method in this apparent construction madness, with traditions still handed on to around 200 young students a year, taught by master scaffolders like Choi Keung, who's been putting up bamboo for more than 50 years.
CHOI KEUNG, MASTER BAMBOO SCAFFOLDER (through translator): I feel that I have these skills that are very useful to our society, so I want to pass them on to the young generation to carry on.
O'SULLIVAN: And it's a changing industry. Safety's improved, with new laws making safety lines and helmets mandatory, although it's not always enforced. And nylon straps have replaced the strips of bamboo that are used for the hundreds of thousands of knots that tie the whole structure together. Along with its cheaper cost, bamboo is quicker to put up and get down. And it's more flexible than steel, able to withstand the regular typhoons blowing through Hong Kong.
FREDERICK SOH, WORLD PACIFIC SCAFFOLDER: We erect scaffolding at the top roof of the 73-story-high building. So it's old, but still can match with the modern society.
O'SULLIVAN: More than 100 Hong Kong scaffolding companies chase the $50 million U.S. contracts to sheath the growing buildings in bamboo and safety netting. These young men will carry on an ancient profession. And years in Hong Kong, it's still able to hold its own against progress. And on a good day, it's an industry where, with a strong arm, a sure foot and a good head for heights, you can quite literally feel as if you're on top of the world.
Phil O'Sullivan, CNN Financial News, Hong Kong.
HAYNES: From passing tests to picking a college, high school students face challenges every single day. But what if the challenge was simply getting to school? Well, for many students, getting an education means a long drive and, believe it or not, a daily stop at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Maria Hinojosa has the story of these international commuters.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All-American girl Consuelo Monarrez, not ready for high school without that perfect teenage look, a quick breakfast, just the right shoes, of course some money from mom, and it's out the door. Graduation is just days away, but her classrooms are miles away, an entire country away, because while this American teen goes to school in Texas, she lives in Mexico. Consuelo can do this because she is an American citizen.
Although her mom is not.
CONSUELO MONARREZ, STUDENT: If I would have stayed in Mexico, I imagine myself as my mom is right now. I'm not saying it's wrong. But, I'm just saying I can do way better than her. She just put me in this life and she gave me the choice to cross it or stay.
HINOJOSA: Several students at this high school cross the border just to go to school. This 18-year-old is a citizen of Mexico, who overstayed his visa for all four years of high school. School officials don't ask for immigration papers. Just hard work and evidence they live in the district.
RALPH ORNELAS, PRINCIPAL, YSLETA HIGH SCHOOL: If kids come to this school and they are good and they try hard and they learn, then they are welcome to Yselta High School. My job is not to see if they are here legally or not. My job is to educate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I challenge you to close the border.
HINOJOSA: But closing the border to Mexican students is a priority for some El Paso taxpayers.
CALLER: You have got kids going to schools because they've got somebody's address.
HINOJOSA: Who are anxious to vent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not our responsibility to educate children who don't live in this country.
HINOJOSA: But government authorities say chasing down undocumented high school students...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bowie High School? Are you an American citizen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not a high priority when we can educate kids from an adjoining nation, in El Paso. Let's say these kids are going to grow up and be entrepreneurs and be educators, and it's going to support both the U.S. community and the Mexican community.
HINOJOSA: In both communities, Consuelo feels at home. In a down-home Mexican market in Juarez shopping through the rainbow colored aisles or at school with her hip musician boyfriend, the number two in his graduating class. She sometimes works at her mother's store in Mexico. It used to be full time until she was held up at gunpoint. So Mom decided she would be safer going to school in Texas, living part time with her uncle.
MONARREZ: My two lives, I just love them. Because right here, I get to experience things that I don't experience over there in Mexico.
HINOJOSA: And she gets an American diploma from a school full of border-crossers, flushed with scholarships to top colleges.
No. 7 in her class, a scholarship from ROTC, a Mexican- American girl will now go on to college in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations! MONARREZ: Thank you.
HINOJOSA: Maria Hinojosa, CNN, El Paso.
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HAYNES: Earlier in "Worldview, we told you about revelers drawn to Stonehenge in England. Well, in the United States, there's another similar, but not quite as mystical, structure, which is drawing tourists by the thousands.
CNN's John Vause traveled to the misty cornfields of Nebraska for this report.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a windswept plain, a mysterious structure standing alone, an ancient design 5,000 years old, maybe more, well, sort of. For this is not the Salisbury Plain of Southern England and these are not giant moss-covered stones.
PAUL PHANEUF, FRIENDS OF CARHENGE: This man who created this thing was a genius to have done this.
VAUSE: What it is is Carhenge, old American cars bolted together and standing tall in a Nebraska cornfield, a direct copy of Stonehenge.
LA VERN FABER, FRIENDS OF CARHENGE: We get tourists from all over the world and they come in droves it seems like.
VAUSE: Not only is the layout the same, but the cars are the same height and width of those giant stones in England. Carhenge is the only tourist attraction for 60 miles. Every year, 30,000 people stop by, mostly on their way to somewhere else, like the Davis family from Missouri.
ALAN DAVIS, TOURIST: Out of all the things we've been to, it`s something really different.
VAUSE: Jim Reinders built Carhenge as a memorial to his father. Inspired by the real thing he needed 33 cars to finish this version. (on-camera): Carhenge had a troubled beginning. When it was first built, state officials said it was a junk yard, an embarrassment and they ordered the nearby city council in Alliance to bulldoze the site.
(voice-over): But locals rallied to embrace Reinders' strange automobile art they say, has put them on the map. So Carhenge survived and has even attracted a few druids during the winter and summer solstice.
PHANEUF: We don't encourage it. We do not want to appear to be related to any cult whatsoever. We want to have an image as an educational device and as a fun place.
VAUSE: Educational because, Paul Phaneuf says, many of the tourists who stop by, have never heard of the original. Carhenge is as close as they come.
John Vause, CNN, Alliance, Nebraska.
HAYNES: And coming Monday, CNN NEWSROOM's Jason Bellini takes us on the road as we begin our "Border to Border" series. We'll show you what adolescents and young adults are doing this summer from the Mexico border up to the Canadian border. Our first stop will be Tucson, Arizona, where we'll look at a club called Skrappys and its positive influence on young people.
And that is CNN NEWSROOM for Friday. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you back here Monday.
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