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NEWSROOM for July 23, 2001

Aired July 23, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Hello, I'm Shelley Walcott here with your first NEWSROOM of the week. Politics and poetry bookend today's show. Here's a look at what's ahead.

Talk of missile defense dominates the last day of the Group of Eight Summit. We'll have details in "Top Story." Turning to "Environment Desk," we tackle the problem of urban sprawl. NEWSROOM travels to New Jersey for that story. Then, "Worldview" heads to Papua, New Guinea, for a taste of culture there. And finally, NEWSROOM introduces you to a young man who is both a warrior and a wordsmith.

In a bid to redefine the issue of arms control for the 21st century, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to pursue deeper cuts in their nuclear arsenals and link those talks to negotiations over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system. The surprise announcement came Sunday in the medieval Italian port city of Genoa after bilateral talks between the U.S. and Russian leaders. The talks followed a three-day summit in Genoa of the world's seven wealthiest nations plus Russia -- a group commonly referred to as the G8.

More now from CNN's John King.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Progress after months of stalemate. The two leaders emerged from their second meeting in a little more than a month with an agreement for intensive negotiations on missile defense and nuclear arms.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are basically saying the Cold War is forever over, and the vestiges of the Cold War that locked us both into a hostile situation are over, and we are exploring the opportunity to redefine the strategic framework for keeping the peace.

KING: Russia accepted a key U.S. demand, talks aimed at setting aside the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which forbids the research and testing critical to Mr. Bush's goal of building a missile defense system. In return, Washington embraced a key Putin priority: talks aimed at major reductions in U.S. and Russia's nuclear arsenals. That linkage brought a breakthrough.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have come to the conclusion that two of these issues have to be discussed as a set, as one set.

KING: The U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal includes 7,200 warheads. Russia has about 6,000. Both nations have already agreed to cut back to no more than 3,500 warheads by 2007, but Mr. Putin, eager to save scarce Russian defense dollars, has talked of slashing the number to as low as 1,500.

BUSH: Let me start by saying how optimistic I am that it's -- about the possibility of reaching accord.

KING: Progress and talks with Russia stood in contrast to a G8 summit stalemate on global warming. European leaders and Japan wanted the final communique to endorse the Kyoto treaty on climate change, but Mr. Bush blocked consensus. He says mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would punish the U.S. economy and promised frustrated fellow leaders he would soon propose an alternative.

The summit was marked by two days of demonstrations that sometimes turned violent, and some leaders complained all the attention overshadowed due commitments to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: You measure the amount of coverage: the protests and Africa. Well, would it be a ratio of 10 to one in favor of the riot? I mean, the world has gone mad when that's the case. These are the important issues.

KING: Mr. Bush also voiced displeasure at the protesters, but left his first G8 summit on a high note.

(on camera): The surprise agreement for negotiations with Russia should at least temporarily quiet the president's European critics on missile defense. Still, Mr. Bush remains under heavy pressure from key allies to give ground and break the stalemate over global warming.

John King, CNN, Genoa, Italy.


WALCOTT: President Bush is already getting high marks on Capitol Hill for the unexpected diplomatic breakthrough on arms control. Until now, the missile defense plan and its effects on the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty has been controversial. But that treaty is between Moscow and Washington, and the president has said all along that the threat in the world today is not from Moscow but from so- called rogue states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq which are not party to the ABM Treaty.

Jonathan Aiken has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning, President Bush has made clear where he stands on missile defense and the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

BUSH: Now is the time not to defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American people.

AIKEN: The meeting of the minds between U.S. and Russian leaders, then, on the issue of linking U.S. plans to build a missile defense with talks to reduce both countries' nuclear stockpiles changes a global military equation and affects a domestic political one.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Most of the Senate is going to be very happy with this, both the Democrats and the moderate Republicans alike, this is what they've wanted to see. Yes, we can go ahead with missile defenses, but let's do it with an agreed framework, let's do it in an international consensus process.

AIKEN: The president got high marks from the Senate's leading Republican.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I think this is really significant. You're talking about further reducing nuclear weapons that are aimed at each other and thinking about the future in a more defensive way.

AIKEN: The agreement, on the heels of last week's missile-to- missile test firing, hasn't quieted debate in the United States over the technology behind a missile defense shield.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), CHAIRMAN OF ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The technology is not there now to eliminate this doctrine of mutually assured destruction, nor is any one envisioned in the near term.

AIKEN: And if it seems like the U.S. has been here before, using the promise of an unproven technology as a bargaining chip with Moscow, one expert in arms control says, it has.

CIRINCIONE: In some ways, President Bush is replicating President Reagan's early experiences, very strong on defense budgets and weapons build-up in the first part of the presidency, and then President Reagan also tacked to the center and concluded with some of the most sweeping arms control agreements ever reached in U.S.-Russian history.

AIKEN (on camera): The announcement from Genoa, Italy, certain to dominate a previously scheduled hearing on missile defense, which is set for Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It's a hearing that promises to turn into a full-fledged debate on not only the political but also the technological future of arms control.

Jonathan Aiken, for CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: In the headlines today, a political struggle in the Asian nation of Indonesia. The country's president, Abdurrahman Wahid, appears to be on the verge of impeachment. In a desperate move to block this, Mr. Wahid issued a decree to suspend the legislature. But the Assembly chairman says the government plans to ignore that decree and move ahead with plans for a special session to remove the president from office, a move Mr. Wahid says is unconstitutional.


ABDURRAHMAN WAHID, PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA (through translator): It is my opinion that what is presently ongoing in parliament is a clear violation of established procedure as well as the 1945 Constitution and this is why I have decided that I shall not attend the special session because it must be determined that the special session of the parliament is illegal and has not legitimacy.


WALCOTT: The political unrest has raised tensions in the capital city of Jakarta to the boiling point. Dozens of people were hurt after bombs ripped through two churches Sunday. Moves to impeach Mr. Wahid were launched last year after he was accused of involvement in two multimillion-dollar scandals. He is also accused of failing to resolve an economic crisis and separatist's violence that threatens to tear Indonesia apart.

New Jersey is the nation's ninth most populous state. And as the state's economy continues to boom, more and more people are flocking there. New home and business construction is whittling away at what's left of undeveloped land, creating what is known as urban sprawl. While many builders and business owners are thrilled with the state's growth, others are voicing concern.

CNN's Brian Palmer examines the trend.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a few months ago, this stretch of land in Bridgewater, New Jersey was undeveloped. Today, it's the site of a bustling megasupermarket and the future home of a Home Depot.

Construction of new homes and businesses has radically altered the landscape of the Garden State.

JEFF TITTEL, SIERRA CLUB: New Jersey is being paved over, you know, at a rate faster than any time in its history. Farms and forests are being cut down to the point where New Jersey is really leading the country in sprawl.

PALMER: Builders say they are only providing what home buyers want.

MARK HODGES, K. HOVNANIAN ENTERPRISES: Lots of people want to live on farmland, outside of the cities. And if the land is zoned to be built for that, and if we follow the municipal rules, and follow the codes explicitly of the zoning, then we feel that we are following the rules and meeting demand at the same time.

PALMER: The state has tried to balance these competing demands, between new construction and preservation of green spaces, as well as others, such as providing affordable housing.

DR. ROBERT BURCHELL, DIRECTOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY URBAN POLICY RESEARCH: Land is being depleted, housing costs are rising. We have the highest income and the highest housing costs in the nation. You have to do something, so affordable housing is part of the sprawl solution.

PALMER: The state's development plan focuses on rebuilding declining cities and suburbs, what it calls "smart growth." But the plan is only a guide for the state's 566 municipalities, which control to a great degree how they use their land.

TITTEL: New Jersey really is a home-rule state, so any town is zoned any way it wants, and so there's no regional planning, and just boom, it's there.

PALMER: Such big ticket development, not low-cost housing brings cash into a community and broadens the tax base, hard for officials in cities and towns to resist in a state that is already one of the most heavily taxed.

But state studies show New Jersey will have no more open space in 40 to 50 years, if development continues at this rate. So if local officials and New Jersey residents decide to continue business as usual, they will have to live with the consequences. A Garden State minus the garden.

Brian Palmer, CNN, Bridgewater, New Jersey.


WALCOTT: Running out of room is not the only problem created by sprawl. Scientists say we are in the midst of a period marked by stronger and more frequent hurricanes, storms that can cause massive devastation for growing populations in potential hurricane hot spots.

John Zarrella has the details.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In August 1995, the Atlantic Ocean looked like a hurricane freeway. Storms were lined up from Florida to Africa. Scientists now say it marked the beginning of a period of more hurricanes and many more strong hurricanes, the kind that do most of the damage.

CHRIS LANDSEA, HURRICANE METEOROLOGIST: Most seasons we are going to get a hurricane hit the U.S., and probably more than half the time we'll have a major hurricane hitting the U.S. as well. ZARRELLA: Chris Landsea and a group of scientists at the federal government's Hurricane Research Division say they believe this period of increased activity will last for the next 10 to 40 years. In fact, the researchers say, the number and power of hurricanes have already increased.

Since 1995, the Caribbean has been pounded by deadly storms like Mitch, Lenny, Marilyn, Luis and Georgess. The United States, the scientists say, has simply been lucky.

STANLEY GOLDENBERG, HURRICANE METEOROLOGIST: This increased number -- if it starts pounding the U.S. as we feel like it's going to happen, there's bound to be a major city impacted, and we could be talking about a real disaster of epic proportions on our hands.

ZARRELLA: The scientists say a hurricane causing $50 billion in damage and hundreds to thousands of deaths is quite possible in the next 10 years.

LANDSEA: I think, at this point, the U.S. is so developed and there's so many people along the coast, that just about anywhere is a major disaster ready to happen.

ZARRELLA: The scientists say the Earth's climate goes through cycles, but they don't know why. Right now, Atlantic water temperatures are a bit warmer, just half a degree Fahrenheit, and in general there's less wind sheer. This current period is a return to the way it was in 1900, when Galveston was nearly obliterated.

Or the '20's to the '60's, when Florida got slammed repeatedly and New York was hit by the Yankee Clipper storm. And, nobody on the U.S. East Coast is immune. From Florida to the Northeast, there is now, according to the scientists, a much greater chance you'll get hit.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.



NEAL TOMASIN, WEST NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY: Hello, I'm Neal Tomasin from West New York, New Jersey, and I'd like to know: How are hurricanes named?

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Under the United Nations, there is something called the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization. And it's divided up into different regions around the globe. We have a hurricane committee, and this committee gets together every year and comes up with an operational plan.

Within that plan we have these six lists of name for each basin. We have six lists for the Atlantic Basin and six lists for the East Pacific Basin. We'll start with the letter "A" on a given list and go down as far as we need to in the alphabet, and then we'll recycle that same list six years from now.

If we have a hurricane that causes a large loss of life or a lot of damage, we'll retire that name and replace it with a similar name. So if we retire, say, a prince name, for example, it will be replaced with a like prince name.


WALCOTT: "Worldview" is next. Hold on to your hat, we're taking you on a whirlwind tour of the millinery business in Great Britain. Plus, a trip to Papua, New Guinea. We'll explore its culture and find out why it's appealing to tourists from around the world.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: In "Worldview" today, we head to the land just above the land down under. It's the country of Papua, New Guinea, which encompasses part of the Island of New Guinea, along with a chain of tropical islands. For most of the 1900s, Papua, New Guinea was ruled by Australia, gaining its independence in 1975. People lived on the lands of what is now Papua, New Guinea as far back as 50,000 years ago. About 98 percent of the country's population are called Melanesians. Most are farmers and live in rural villages. Recently, Papua, New Guinea has attracted tourists curious for the very exotic and different.

Stephanie Oswald explains.


STEPHANIE OSWALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For most of the 20th century, PNG was governed by Australia. It didn't gain its independence until 1975. True stories about cannibalism and an unstable government scared some tourists away.

BOB BATES, TRANS NIAGINI TOURS: Of course cannibalism, you know, was finished 30 years ago. Tribal wars certainly still go on, but they're mainly fought over land, women and pigs. And of course, you know, the Westerners and the tourists are not part of their problems. They're not part of the land, women or pigs problems so, again, they don't come into the equation.

OSWALD: There are precautions to be taken, however, especially for women visiting this male dominated, conservative society.

VILIA LAWRENCE, PNG DIVERS ASSOCIATION: In the city, in Port Moresby, you're not encouraged to wear short shorts or very short skirts or, you know, just clothes that are particularly skimpy.

MAX BENJAMIN, WALINDI PLANTATION RESORT: Women have always played a second role. The man's the hunter; the woman's the gatherer. Women are trying to develop their role in the society in Papua, New Guinea and they're having a hard time. But it's coming. It is developing. The main thing is to respect the people that you're visiting, and it's not very hard to quickly pick up what is traditional custom that you don't step out of those bounds.

OSWALD: There's a long way to go before mass tourism hits Papua, New Guinea, a country where every day life moves at its own pace and people, politics and traditions live on as if it were another century.

The Ambua Lodge is a haven in the highlands, with a string of exotic huts looking out over the lush landscape. Also on the hill, a large common area for dining and socializing by a warm fire. It's one of two resorts run by Trans New Guinea Tours in this rugged wilderness. Each is designed to preserve the bond with nature you develop during a vacation here providing enough comfort so you feel well-cared for but not wasteful in this ecosensitive environment.

Most travelers come to these lodges via package tour operators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We encourage people to book package tours as opposed to backpacking. Backpacking is definitely not a market here.

OSWALD: These vacations are not for a backpacker budget either.

DIK KNIGHT, LOIBATA ISLAND RESORT: Papua, New Guinea is not among the cheapest of destinations and it probably won't be ever, perhaps. People should expect that it's going to cost a little more to see something that is a little different.

OSWALD: But perhaps the greatest limiting factor hindering the growth of tourism in PNG is the infrastructure, or lack of it.

BATES: There's the fact that there's no road from the capital of the country to any other major center. And it's been like that forever. So when someone arrives in the capital of Port Moresby, the next thing they've got to do is to get on an airplane. Just can't get on a bus or go to a train station and travel around the country like that, like you can with most countries.

OSWALD: The land area of Papua, New Guinea is slightly larger than California, but there are less than 500 miles of paved highway and zero miles of railway, leaving plenty of room for change while maintaining the pristine environment, even as more daring travelers discover this land just above the land down under.

Stephanie Oswald, CNN, the Southern Highlands of Papua, New Guinea.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: More from Papua, New Guinea and Stephanie Oswald. In this land where no native written word exists and there are more than 700 spoken languages, one of the most popular forms of education is the song and dance known as the sing-sing. Meet the Wigmen, the most famous symbol of the Huli culture.


OSWALD (voice-over): These men are wearing an ancient family tradition, spectacular wigs made of real hair decorated with natural elements such as feathers, grass and flowers. They perfect their makeup, hair and dress before making their appearance. Witnessing tribal traditions in a woodland clearing in the wilds of Papua, New Guinea, a phenomenal experience. This performance was arranged for our small tour group from the Ambua Lodge. But in this corner of the earth, each sing-sing dance has a special meaning. Sometimes this is the authentic way to say hello and welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): At the first place, he said, he's happy to see the tourists coming into Papua, New Guinea and that's why they have our sing-sing here. This welcoming you, to show that they are happy to meet you.

OSWALD: Other times, the ceremonial dance signals a war victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they go out for tribal fighting and they fight and kill a man and they have that, a man has died, then they come and come back to their tribe and organize a sing-sing like that because they're happy they had killed the enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Said that's his father's traditional culture.

OSWALD: This boy says he's proud to carry on the Huli traditions and he is happy the tourists bring money to the highlands.

Stephanie Oswald, CNN, Tari, Papua, New Guinea.


BAKHTIAR: Next stop: Great Britain, home of the Royal Ascot racing. Ascot was founded back in 1711 by Queen Anne, but our focus today is not the race course itself, but millinery. Millinery is the work or business or making or selling of women's hats, and it's big business, indeed, as Liz George explains.


LIZ GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stakes are high, the hats higher still. Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, when hats outnumber horses, and Hokachure (ph) is the outright winner. For milliners, it's the showcase of their year.

(on camera): Well, people spend anything from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars on their hats for Ascot. And if you want to know just how important the event is in a milliner's diary, well, for a company like Philip Treacy, he does around about 27 percent of his business in the one month leading up to Ascot.

(voice-over): Britain has traditionally been the place to buy your headwear and still is for the one-off fashion piece. But for the mass market, the industry is struggling.

PAT MARSH, DIRECTOR: England is the home of wearing the hat. But the industry has changed dramatically in the last 5 to 10 years and the manufacturing base, which was centered on Luton, has been decimated by the influx of cheap imports from the Far East.

GEORGE: Laura Cassidy's (ph) a millinery student at the Royal College of Art and she is keen to make every day hat wearing popular once again, but it's a tough business to be in. Three year ago, there were six major manufacturers in the U.K. Now there's really just one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't say it's a dying art, but it's something that is not nearly as evident as it was. In the '40s and '50s there were a lot of small millinery and large millinery houses and I think with the advent of the '60s, people stopped wearing hats.

GEORGE: Still, with a quarter of a million race-goers rushing to enjoy the atmosphere of Royal Ascot, I'd say the odds are in the milliners favor, even if the going's a bit hard.

Liz George, CNN Financial News, London.


WALCOTT: And finally, finding hope in words. A new book of poetry is offering a thought-provoking look at life. The work is remarkable for many reasons. For one, the author is just 11 years old. He began writing verse at the age of three. It's remarkable, too, for the strength and the wisdom found in his inspiring words. But that's not all.

CNN's Kathleen Koch reports.


MATTIE STEPANEK, WRITER: A champion is a winner. A hero. Someone who never gives up. Even when the going gets rough.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matthew Stepanek-- his friends call him Mattie -- is a writer, inspired by life.

STEPANEK: Happy, sad, funny, when I'm any of those feelings, I sit down and write about it.

KOCH: Sad and angry is how most people would feel if, like Mattie, they were diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, that already killed a sister and two brothers.

Instead, Mattie brightens and lightens moods, even in the ICU.

DR. CHRISTI CORRIVEAU, MATTIE'S DOCTOR: Unique, encouraging, someone who really is a very gifted child and has been able to take a bad disease and a worse situation being in the hospital for so long, and turn it into something positive.

KOCH: Since there is little more they can do for him medically, the staff is helping Mattie emotionally, fulfilling his wishes. One, a question-filled phone chat with his hero, former President Jimmy Carter.

STEPANEK: I didn't get to ask them all, because my mom was like, "Honey, Jimmy Carter doesn't have all day."

KOCH: Another: the publication of his book of poetry, "Heart Songs." STEPANEK: There is a song in everyone's heart; we just have to listen to it and everybody's heart doesn't need to have the same song.

GAYLE GILMORE, SOCIAL WORKER: I think he has incredible insight for a child of 11. He has such a vibrant personality. He has such a warm way about him that he just draws people in.

STEPANEK: I stared at the creature and our eyes met and then fixed.

KOCH: Mattie's mother, who also suffers from muscular dystrophy, has recorded his poems and stories since he was 3.

Mattie at age 11 has a few final wishes, to go home, to read his poetry on the "Rosie O'Donnell" and Oprah Winfrey" shows.

STEPANEK: A champion is a optimist, a hopeful spirit.

KOCH: And to teach others who are suffering his motto. Remember to play after every storm.

STEPANEK: We have lots of life storms, lots of hard things happen, but you always have to get through the storms, and after we do, we have to celebrate about it.

KOCH: Kathleen Koch for CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: It's a truly inspiring little boy.

And that wraps up today's show. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.




4:30pm ET, 4/16

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