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NEWSROOM for August 8, 2001

Aired August 1, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Rudi Bakhtiar and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

This Wednesday, we have news from the realms of politics, science and business. Here's what we have planned.

Talk of election reform tops our news agenda. Details coming up in today's "Top Story." Onto "Business Desk," we want to know if you are turning away from traditional sports. Then, we're all about airports in "Worldview." And finally, we meet young people learning some very important life skills.

A commission headed by two former United States presidents is recommending changes in the way America votes. A report submitted to President Bush Tuesday suggests ways to prevent the confusion that plagued last year's election. The 2000 election contest between Mr. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore resulted in five weeks of recounts, court disputes and protests. The center of the debate was in Florida where voters said the so-called butterfly ballots were confusing, leading them to vote for the wrong candidate. Many Florida residents demanded revotes saying they had a right to be accurately counted. TV networks were also criticized for their confusing and inaccurate reports on election returns.

Susan Candiotti has details of the election reform proposals.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President of the United States.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bipartisan commission led by former presidents Carter and Ford presented its election reform proposals at a White House ceremony. While President Bush praised its work, he stopped short of a full-fledged endorsement, instead calling them guidelines.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have risen above partisan emotions to put forth practical suggestions for improving democracy. And the United States Congress should listen to them and follow their lead.

CANDIOTTI: Among the recommendations: asking news organizations to refrain from projecting winners while polls remain open.

JIMMY CARTER, 39TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they don't do it, then we recommend that Congress take action. We recognize that there are First Amendment principles involved, but we think this is an important one.

CANDIOTTI: Other recommendations: Increase in federal support for state and local governments to purchase new vote counting equipment. Consider restoring voting rights of convicted felons once jail time and parole or probation are completed. To improve voter turnout, the commission suggests moving Veterans Day to coincide with Election Day, making it a national holiday, an idea whose popularity appears to be growing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people do procrastinate. They say, "Oh, I'll go after work." And then they go and the polls are long and the lines are long, and at that point, they just give up and they don't vote. I think that we've learned that it's very important that every vote does count.

CANDIOTTI: Democrats quickly criticized the president for failing, in their view, to take a leadership role in election reform. House and Senate Democrats are co-sponsoring a bill mandating change.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: This is a civil rights issue, and the only way that it will be solved is if the federal government stands up and be counted for national standards to ensure that democracy is in the 21st century.

CANDIOTTI: But at today's White House ceremony, former GOP House minority leader Bob Michel said states rights cannot be forgotten.

ROBERT MICHEL (R), FORMER HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That principle of conditionality versus mandating the states to do things is a very key one, I know, for many members of the Congress who will eventually have to act on this.

CANDIOTTI: In Florida, ground zero for election controversy, editorial writers wonder whether national reform will pass.

TOM FIEDLER, "MIAMI HERALD": You could make a strong argument that if these recommendations had been in place last November 7, that the president would now be Al Gore and not George W. Bush.

CANDIOTTI (on-camera): In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush has thrown his support behind a recently passed massive reform package. So far in Washington, the president has not done the same on a national level nor allocated any money for reform in his budget.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.


BAKHTIAR: Tuesday's report will not only affect voters but news organizations as well. Here's CNN's plan: CNN will not project the winner in a state until all the polls are closed within that state. CNN supports the adoption of uniform poll closing legislation by Congress. And if so adopted, CNN will not make any projections until all the polls are closed nationwide.

Also on President Bush's agenda Tuesday is a visit to Capitol Hill to rally Senate Republicans. Mr. Bush is pressing his agenda, which includes his education reform bill, his faith-based initiative and keeping government spending down.

How does President Bush plan to win support for his legislative agenda, especially in a now Democrat-controlled Senate? John King has that story.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House photo is part of the personal touch, small talk included.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He makes a point of greeting everyone personally. He seems to find something to say, like one of the nicknames I've gotten is Pedro or Big Pedro, that type - you know you've heard about the nicknames.

J. KING: Congressman King left his first meeting with the president on the patients' bill of rights unimpressed. It was a crowded session in the Cabinet Room.

P. KING: It was sort of unwieldy and I felt that the impression I got as a politician was he was going through the motions.

J. KING: But the president changed King's mind and his vote at a smaller follow-up session.

P. KING: No sense of arm-twisting, no sense of pressure, but basically saying I'm your president, I need this, it's up to you. And almost letting you feel that if you don't go his way then maybe, you know, the whole administration could collapse.

J. KING: Others lobbied by Mr. Bush of late say he knows where the line is.

REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: He'll push up to a point but he doesn't try and make a member feel so uncomfortable that they feel they have to go with him even at the expense of hurting their base back home and that's the sign of a very good president.

J. KING: The courting of Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss included a round of golf and a White House meeting Tuesday to talk about defense issues critical back home. But Mr. Bush worked in another plug for his version of the patients' bill of rights.

(on camera): What's the president like when he does these things? Is he an arm twister? Is he a charmer? Combination of the two? REP. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: He's very businesslike. He's very professional. He doesn't grab you by the arm and say we're going to twist until you do what we want to do. I'm impressed with the guy's approach to this.

J. KING (voice-over): Impressed, but still undecided.

Even many staunch allies say the president was initially caught flat-footed. The HMO reform debate was forced on the White House when Democrats took control of the Senate and the president failed in an effort to shape the Senate version to his liking. So the effort shifted to the House and meetings and calls to all 68 of the Republicans on record in support of legislation very similar to the Senate version Mr. Bush has promised to veto. Georgia Republican Charlie Norwood is a lead sponsor of the House version and by far, getting the most attention from the president.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You know you can't threaten him, you can't bribe him. He probably knows more about it than most of the people in the White House so you probably can't persuade him. So you're really left, I think, saying that you know my presidency's at stake, I can't veto this bill, you've got to give me some way to save face on this and provide me with a way out.

J. KING: Even if Mr. Bush strikes a deal with the House, he would still need to resolve major differences with the Senate so there could be more tests of the president's negotiating skills just ahead.

John King, CNN, The White House.


BAKHTIAR: The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday banning human cloning. It will not even be permitted for research purposes. Capitol Hill can expect to see more cutting-edge science issues in the near future. Stem cell research, ripe with all sorts of ethical questions, will likely be next on the docket.

Jonathan Karl looks at the controversy and the politics surrounding these advanced sciences.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nobody in Congress proposes allowing the science that made Dolly, the cloned sheep, famous to be used to clone people, but some argue that cloning an human embryo is different than cloning a person.

REP JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: We value life and a human being is not simply a clump of cells. At some point, that clump of cells may develop into a fetus and a human being, but the clump of cells at the beginning does not have the same moral value as a person.

KARL: Nadler and others argued that a ban on human cloning should include an exception, legalizing the cloning of embryos for medical research. The House soundly rejected that argument, instead passing by a margin of 265 to 162 a total ban on human cloning.

REP. TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: We shouldn't draw medical solutions from the unwholesome well of an ungoverned monstrous science that lacks any reasonable consideration for the sanctity of human life.

KARL: The arguments echo the debate over federal funding of stem cell research with one significant difference, that debate is over research on excess embryos at fertility clinics, embryos likely to be destroyed anyway. This is about using the science of cloning to create new embryos for research.

REP. DAVID WU (D), OREGON: I have always been a strong supporter of embryonic stem cell research. I've always been strongly pro choice. I've been a believer, I guess, that we would know where to draw a line in the sand when we had to and I think that for me, this is a place where we draw a line in the sand.

KARL (on camera): Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle also agrees with conservative Republicans on this issue, making it more likely that the Senate will also pass a total ban on human cloning.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BAKHTIAR: Time to talk consumer behavior in "Business Desk." As a consumer, you make conscious decisions to buy certain products and certain brand names. You base that decision to buy or not to buy on many factors. One of them is what sociologists call your subculture. If you're in a subculture, you share values and behavior patterns that differ from those of the dominant culture.

One subculture commonly identified in the U.S. is teenagers. They combine to form a huge consumer force and they spend lots of money. The problem is, they don't seem to be buying pro-sports products. Some believe the teen culture is turning against organized professional sports. So what are you guys buying anyway?

Peter Viles takes a look.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a stunt not even Tiger Woods could pull off for Nike, selling celebrity to a generation that doesn't want to be like Mike, they just want to be themselves. A new research report argues Nike and Reebok are running into a generation gap. Teenagers turned on by skateboarding and Internet surfing, and turned off by team sports, huge contracts, and badly behaved pro-athletes.

FAYE LANDERS, SANFORD BERNSTEIN: I don't know if there's a backlash against sports per se, but our survey data indicates, for instance when kids are asked whom they would like to meet, or whom their hero is, sports figures show up much less than they did even 5 years ago. VILES: From 1995 to 2000, the percentage of teenage boys who consider athletes role models dropped 27 percent. The percentage who want to be athletes also dropped 27 percent. And the percentage who consider athletes "cool people" dropped 50 percent.

JANE RINZLER BUCKINGHAM, YOUTH INTELLIGENCE: I think what kids are saying is they're doing different types of sports. It's more about individual achievement. So they might be skateboarding, they might be BMX biking. They might be reading on the Internet about surf camp, because that's what they want to do this summer.

VILES (on camera): So teenagers are flocking to a new group of hot brands, companies like Skechers U.S.A. makes trendy shoes that are more about fashion than sports, and has become a billion dollar a year brand.

(voice over): Year to date, Skechers shares are up 119 percent. Another winner, Quiksilver, which makes surf clothing, up 40 percent. Nike's shares are off 27 percent, and Reebok down 4.8 percent. Nike and Reebok are trying to chase the trend, and Nike does have a hit in its Presto shoe, a slip-on sneaker marketed as a T-shirt for the feet, and clearly meant as a fashion statement. It comes in 30 colors, sports are optional.

Peter Viles, CNN Financial News, New York.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, animals and airports. Do you know which four-footed animal is the swiftest in the world? Well, you get to meet the creature as we head to Iran. Find out about efforts to protect the cheetah. And from a fast feline to a slow American airport, we'll also find out which airport in the world is being named after one of the Beatles.

But first, air travel in the U.S. A recent report puts Seattle- Tacoma International Airport at the top of the list in delayed flights in the U.S. and that's for this year. Running a close second, La Guardia, the country's most delayed airport last year. We'll find out why.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: What are the two most despised words for any airline passenger: lost baggage, canceled flight or weather delay perhaps? Well, for some travelers along the East Coast of the U.S. in particular, the two most despised words could be La Guardia. Named for the mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945, the airport serves millions of passengers flying in and out of the (INAUDIBLE) each year. The problem is many don't leave or arrive on time. This travel hub is overused and congested.

Garrick Utley takes a closer look at the airport.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A suitcase bumps along on an airport conveyor belt. Its owner waits and wonders whether it has been condemned to lost baggage hell. Until finally, happiness. It's one of life's small pleasures and a reminder of how frustrating flying can be today. And no American airport has offered more frustration to those who use it and run it than New York City's La Guardia, the most congested and, last year, the most delay-plagued airport in the nation.

At one point, more than one in four departures left late. And how do you measure delay? Watch this plane arriving with an emergency, there's smoke in the cabin. It lands safely, there are no injuries, but it closes the runway, one of two at La Guardia, for 45 minutes.

(on camera): The FAA calculates that even a brief four-minute interruption of take-offs and landings here affects 250 other flights, and the ripples spread ever further. Twenty-five percent of all flight delays in the United States can be traced back to La Guardia. How this came to be is the story of how we fly.

(voice-over): In its first year of operation in 1940, the airport handled a total of 250 flights in the entire summer. They included the first international flights on the giant flying boats.

GEOFFREY AREND, AUTHOR: This airport handled all of the international traffic from here across the sea.

UTLEY: At its peak last year, there were 96 flights coming and going each hour; 15 more each hour than the FAA found controllers could handle safely, particularly since the two runways intersect. There is no room to expand.

The real problem, though, is not on the ground, but in the air. According to those who run New York City's airports, too many planes fly with too few passengers.

NEIL LEVIN, PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK: We have a number of airlines that flying flights that are at 5 percent load factor. A lot of airlines -- what happened is that one airline would put on a flight to some city and then two other airlines, for defensive, competitive reasons, would then put on identical flights.

UTLEY: Then there is the rapid growth of regional and commuter flights. A plane carrying two passengers takes up the same space, time and slot as one carrying 200. The FAA has imposed new limits on the number of flights using La Guardia. What will that mean for travelers?

LEVIN: You will not have all the choices in terms of the numbers of flights, but hopefully what you will get in return for that is the ability to take off on time.

UTLEY (on camera): And as for time, our sense of it has changed, too. In the early days of commercial aviation, some passengers are said to have asked for their money back if their flight arrived ahead of schedule because they felt they had been denied the full, promised thrill of flying.

(voice-over): Today, we would settle for the thrill of leaving and arriving on time.

Garrick Utley, CNN, La Guardia Airport.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Despite the problems of La Guardia, chances are the former mayor would still be honored the airport was named after him. In Liverpool, England, an airport will soon honor one of the city's most famous residents. He gained fame, not in the world of politics, but in the world of music.

Jennifer Eccleston has the story.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York has Kennedy. Rome, da Vinci, Munich, Strauss. Now Liverpool will have Lennon. John Lennon Airport, that is, named after the local legend and former Beatle. His widow said he would have been very proud.

YOKO ONO, JOHN LENNON'S WIDOW: I'm delighted that Liverpool has decided to honor John in this manner. John had always reminded us of the sense of fun in life. I hope the John Lennon Airport will send a big smile to all corners of the world from John. As John said, "There is no hell below us, above us, only sky."

ECCLESTON: Those lyrics from John Lennon's classic hit "Imagine," and now a part of airport's new logo.

Liverpool is best known as the home of the Beatles. John, Paul, Ringo and George are all native sons. The band started in city's Cavern nightclub and went on to top the charts all over the world.

Since the early '60s, Beatles fans have poured into the city, pumping an annual $30 million into the local economy. Yoko Ono's visit, just one more occasion to honor what many locals call the greatest band in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we could just see her and take a picture as she's pulling in and coming out, that would be enough for us.

ECCLESTON: Liverpool's airport will become John Lennon Airport in spring, 2002, with the unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of the artist. It will be the first U.K. airport to be named after an individual.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, London.


WALCOTT: Now to the Middle East to the ancient country of Iran. Iran is one of the world's oldest countries with a history that dates back almost 5,000 years, including the time of the great Persian Empire. In biblical times, this magnificent empire ruled over a huge territory, which included most of southwestern Asia and parts of Europe and Africa. During its long history, Iran has been invaded by various countries. One of the most significant invasions came during the mid-600s when Muslim Arabs conquered the country and ruled for about 200 years. During their rule, the Muslim religious leaders spread the Islamic faith throughout the country and today, the vast majority of Iranians are Muslim.

Iran's land of snowcapped mountains, green valleys and dry deserts also houses a variety of wildlife, including the much sought after cheetah.

Gary Strieker has more from Iran.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in the dry ravine, there's no sign of the predator's tracks. But the remains of its kills are still here, mountain sheep and goats hunted down at lightning speed by a cheetah. Here in central Iran, this is the territory of the big cats, but few people ever see them. Hussein Malahi (ph) says in 16 years as a game ranger, he's seen cheetahs here only three times. Twice they were already dead, shot by poachers.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth, in a sprint reaching more than 70 miles an hour to close in on a kill. But cheetahs are losing their race for survival. Forced out of their hunting grounds by farmers and ranchers with domestic livestock, isolated populations now suffer from inbreeding. In just 20 years, the number of the world's cheetahs has dropped by more than half. In all of Africa, only about 12,000 survive. And outside Africa, the cheetah is even more critically endangered. An Asiatic sub-species with a long history of conflict with humans now confined to just a few remote areas in Iran.

(on camera): Some experts believe only about 40 Asiatic cheetahs still survive in the wild. Others say there must be more. Nobody really knows. But everyone agrees most of the cheetahs are now holding out here, in the high desert wilderness of Dareh-Anjeel.

(voice-over): The cheetah is legally protected in Iran and all hunting is prohibited in Dareh-Anjeel. Hussein spends most of his time patrolling this area, trying to safeguard the interests of the cheetahs. He says the cats are threatened not only by poachers, but also by people who bring livestock here, over grazing the vegetation that supports the prey animals that sustain the cheetahs. In this serious drought, authorities provide water and supplemental food for wild gazelles, sheep and goats, benefiting the entire food chain with the cheetah at the top.

But conservationists say there's no future for the cheetah in Iran unless a major effort is made to save them.

ESMAIL KAHROM, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: I think we have to establish where they are, how many they are and then establish some reserve for them for the protection of their habitat, for themselves and at least but not least, we probably have to establish captive breeding centers for them. STRIEKER: The Iranian government has now agreed to cooperate with international experts on a special conservation program for cheetahs and for this animal that could mean the difference between survival and extinction.

Gary Strieker, CNN, Dareh-Anjeel, Iran.


BAKHTIAR: Growing up is tough. Let's face it, whether you're in junior high or high school, there's nothing easy about fitting in or finding friends. But for those with a disability, it can be even harder. Sometimes they're excluded, harassed, laughed at. Well, one school is trying to teach disabled children how to deal with the daily difficulties that they might encounter. Our CNN student bureau's Jana Jacobs has the story.


JANA JACOBS, CNN STUDENT BUREAU REPORTER (voice-over): When most students meet 10-year-old Samuel Hogle, they don't know what to think or how to act. Samuel has never seen daylight. He was born blind, but insists he is just like any other kid.

SAMUEL HOGLE, AGE 10: I'm just like everybody else. There's nothing different except for my disability. And just because people have disabilities or something like doesn't mean you should treat them differently.

JACOBS: Samuel is part of this Social, Therapeutic and Recreational Services program at the Atlanta Center of the visually impaired, also called STARS. The program teaches blind children life skills and provides social, cultural, educational and therapeutic activities like trips to help expand their horizons and expose them to the world.

The STARS program uses non-disabled students, called buddies, who act as guides for the children.

ERIN SHIMBERG, AGE 13: I get to make lot of new friends. I get to learn new things.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I get to pleasure to know I help kids.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because they have disabilities, they have a lot abilities than you might think.

JACOBS: Although it may be unintentional, many children admit they do treat others with disabilities unfairly. Jessica Simpson says she has observed that some children like her, without disabilities, are not comfortable when they are around others with disabilities.

JESSICA SIMPSON, AGE 10: I learned that you should never treat somebody different just because they are different because we're all the same.

JACOBS: Thirteen-year-old buddy Erin Shimberg recognizes this behavior all too well.

SHIMBERG: They talk about how they have problems at school with kids who think they're different and who don't like them.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: Treat me equally or treat me in a different way that -- a positive way.

JACOBS (on camera): These special children say they are tired of being treated differently and believe it is time for change.

Jana Jacobs, CNN student bureau, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: It just goes to show that everybody has something to teach and the most important lesson is respect for everyone.

We hope you have a wonderful day. We'll see you back here tomorrow.


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