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NEWSROOM for August 21, 2001

Aired August 21, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to your Tuesday NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

Today, a potential new obstacle for stem cell researchers. Here's a look at today's show.

First, "In the News," why the complex world of stem cell research could soon get tangled with the law. Then in "Health Desk," how the so-called sandwich generation may be feeling the pinch of middle age. On to "Worldview" and a trip to Hawaii where we land on a big island carved by molten lava. And in 'Chronicle" today, Crown Heights 10 years later, a look at relations today between blacks and Jews in this former powder keg in Brooklyn.

Stem cell research faces a new twist, patents and licensing agreements may threaten easy access to stem cell lines. The question now among researchers is if and how long it will take to get access to certain lines. Harvested from embryos, stem cells are cellular building blocks that can develop into any body tissue. The cells have been looked to as possible treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Many religious leaders and conservative lawmakers, however, say the research is unethical. U.S. President Bush announced recently that he would support federal funding for existing embryonic stem cell lines. His decision was preceded by much opposition.

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more now on the latest obstacle stem cell researchers face.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The intricacies of science meet the intricacies of law. CNN has learned the National Institutes of Health will hold a series of meetings this week with groups holding patents to human embryonic stem cell lines.

Australian company Bresagen told CNN it will meet with NIH officials for two hours on Wednesday. The biotech company says it holds patent rights to four of the 60 stem cell lines for which the president authorized federal funding.

Meantime, NIH says it will be meeting with the University of Wisconsin group that holds a patent on five stem cell lines it's scientists derived.

Many of the rest of the lines are held by other companies in Singapore, Sweden and India, this according to U.S. government officials.

At issue is how researchers will get access to the 60 stem cell lines. While Secretary Tommy Thompson has said he's confident access won't be an issue:

TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: They're willing to cooperate in any way possible to allow this research to go ahead.

GUPTA: But some researchers and bioethicists say that's easier said than done.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST, UNIV. OF PENN.: So I think we're going to really have a problem here in fulfilling what Tommy Thompson promised, what George Bush promised, and that was that what's out there is enough, what's out there can be used. Just on problems of patenting alone, very tough to get at these things.

GUPTA: Caplan says access to many of the stem cells will be determined by companies which have invested heavily in stem cell research and technology and have their own commercial interests in mind.

The University of Wisconsin team says its primary concern is to provide "research to researchers around the world." Bresagen officials say they, too, are eager to cooperate.

Meanwhile, the federal government has yet to announce how much money will be allocated for stem cell research, and how researchers will apply and qualify for the funds.

GUPTA (on camera): The complexities of funding some say are even more challenging than the access issues to those stem cell lines. Working out all the details could possibly take months.

In the meantime, researchers and the potential beneficiaries, including the millions of people with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's will have to wait.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


WALCOTT: Researchers in Australia say they have found the key to regenerating brain tissue without using the controversial embryonic stem cells. The team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne say they've isolated an adult stem cell in the brains of mice which can develop into new nerve cells. Researchers say the findings could lead to full replacement of damaged neurons in cases of stroke and brain damage.

Claire Brady with Seven News in Australia has details.


CLAIRE BRADY, SEVEN NEWS (voice-over): The scientists say they didn't know what the cell looked like, where it was or how many there were, but 10 years of work with mice has finally paid off with a world first. By isolating the neuro stem cell, they've given hope to those with Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal damage and strokes.

RODNEY REITZE, RESEARCHER: Now that we can identify the neuro stem cell specifically and unambiguously, now we know where to go, we know where to start and where to focus our research efforts.

BRADY: For nine months they've remained tight lipped about the breakthrough, a dramatic step away from controversial embryo stem cell research. It also avoids the need to transplant foreign stem cells back into sufferers and risk rejection.

PERRY BARTLETT, RESEARCHER: I could say in the last 24 hours we have had a number of calls from all around the world.

BRADY: Experiments have already started with human tissue.

REITZE: What that is, is it's showing that these stem cells are functional in the brain. They're not just sitting there, they're actually doing what we would love them to do in the - in the disease state is giving new nerve cells.

BRADY: It's now just a matter of time before the next step in treatment is complete. But today, Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute was just proud of its work.

REITZE: If somebody told me that I would make this discovery five years ago, I would have said, no, I don't believe it.

BRADY: Claire Brady, Seven News.


WALCOTT: In today's "Health Desk," sociologists call it the sandwich generation. Those are Americans between the age of 45 and 55 whose parents are living and who have children of their own. A recent study found that members of this in between generation feel squeezed but not stressed by their responsibility.

CNN's Brian Palmer talks to some sandwichers who are supporting their elders while raising children of their own.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a couple of years ago, Maria Caprara's mother, Irene Mazzocchi (ph), lived on her own in New York City. She would walk to the market and even snowshoe on family vacations.

But when she developed health problems, the 84-year-old from Parma, Italy moved closer to her daughter and the rest of her family to a quiet town north of the city. MARIA CAPRARA, "SANDWICH" GENERATION: She still gets out, but she's not right there with us step by step as she would have been in the past. So we realize that there will come a day when she's going to need more care from us.

PALMER: Caprara and her husband Gildo (ph) help support Mazzocchi (ph) while raising a son and a daughter who is about to get married. Maria and Gildo (ph) Caprara are members of the sandwich generation, middle-aged men and women with children and at least one living parent.

LISA DAVIS, AARP: People are living longer, so more people are apt to have a parent, a grandparent, even a great-grandparent who is alive and that they are having some kind of care issues with, in addition to the fact that people are having children later.

PALMER: The American Association of Retired Persons surveyed more than 2,300 members of the so-called sandwich generation. Many said they felt squeezed, but not overly stressed by their responsibilities.

CAPRARA: You saw the sacrifices they made, so you want to give back a little of that.

PALMER: Dan Ross is a 49-year-old New Jersian with one grown son and an 11-year-old. He and other family members look after his 81- year-old father, who lives in Manhattan.

DAN ROSS, "SANDWICH" GENERATION: Even though your parents don't necessarily live with you, there's still a tremendous amount of pressure where you find yourself looking after them, where your whole life you were used to them looking after you. It's a very odd feeling.

PALMER: The report also shows that white Americans tend to be less sandwiched than Asians, Latinos or blacks. Fewer than 20 percent of white Americans provide care for their elders, compared to 28 percent of blacks, 34 percent of Latinos and 42 percent of Asian Americans.

Medical advances that help us live longer and societal trends that make us marry later mean that there will be more sandwich generations to come, perhaps reviving what used to be called the extended family.

Brian Palmer, CNN, Valhalla, New York.


ANNOUNCER: Mabel Foster from Tallahassee, Florida, asks: What is ergonomics?


DR. DAVID REMPEL, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ERGONOMICS PROGRAM: Ergonomics is the study of the home environment and work environment to try to identify factors in both that cause muscular skeletal problems and fatigue and reduce those factors in order to reduce the risks for muscular skeletal problems and also to improve performance.

An example would be to design hand tools or lift trucks to help reduce loads of lifting and reduce the force required for cutting. Other examples would be to design new kinds of hand tools for the computer users like keyboards and mice to reduce the risk factors for computer use.

Ways of preventing these problems are to, first of all, have a training program for employees at work, to expose them to the risks so that they report their muscular skeletal problems early. To identify high-risk jobs at work so they can be modified and reengineered to reduce the risk factors.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, animal adventures. We'll visit the United States to watch otters at play. These frisky little creatures are a barometer of our environment, scientists say. Find out why. On to horses in Hawaii and the cowboys who ride them. Learn about a long tradition in the land of leis and luaus. Plus, we go to Great Britain for more on foot-and-mouth disease.

The livestock epidemic has devastated farmers and crippled the tourist industry since the first case was reported six months ago. The first livestock auction since the outbreak began was held Monday. Five hundred cattle hit the auction block. Buyers and sellers were under strict hygiene rules, a reminder that the disease hasn't gone away and neither has the controversy.

With more, here's Robin Oakley.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The auctioneers, Pitch and Orkney, rattled out a signal of hope for a beleaguered industry. It was the first live cattle sale in the six months to the day since the foot-and-mouth epidemic hit the U.K. but it didn't bring too much hope. The remote Scottish Island of Orkney is 300 miles from the nearest outbreak.

And since the outbreak began, nearly 2,000 cases have been identified. Almost four million sheep, cattle and pigs have been slaughtered. Compensation costs to taxpayers already top $3 billion. And with no end in sight, the National Farmers Union is getting steadily more critical of the government, especially over inadequate supervision of food imports.

BEN GILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: Food-and-mouth outbreak follows on the - hot on the heels of Classical Spine Fever, both of them coming in from illegal importation of meat from the Far East, we think, and yet we've done nothing to police our borders. It isn't as if the legislation isn't there, there's a lot of legislation there that could be done that could help protect us. OAKLEY: Supporters of the more militant Farmers For Action group took to London streets to complain of belated action and a government cover-up, many of them blaming Prime Minister Tony Blair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's turning his back on the countryside and he's not - he obviously hasn't a clue what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our government was so slow in recognizing the big problem. They should have gotten the army in quicker. They should have stomped on it a lot quicker.

OAKLEY: These farmers are demanding a public inquiry with full powers to find out why the outbreak spread so far.

(on camera): The government has promised a series of inquiries following the foot-and-mouth epidemic, but there's growing anger in the farming community both of the government's handling of the crisis and its refusal to hold a fully open public inquiry. Protests like this are likely to be only the start.

Robin Oakley, CNN, London.


WALCOTT: It's known as the Aloha State, a cluster of eight major islands and more than 100 minor ones. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that's separated from the North American mainland. Aloha is a Hawaiian word used both as a greeting and a farewell. Hawaii has long been a vacation hot spot with attractions from active volcanoes to stunning scenery to Hawaiian hospitality. But like the American West, the islands also have their own ranch country with rolling hills, grazing cattle and a cowboy culture that dates back to the early 1800s.

Gail O'Neill has more.


GAIL O'NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fertile land and a temperate climate made the northern region of the Big Island an ideal place for the first Hawaiians to saddle up. It's also what keeps visitors coming today.

HARRY NAKOA, DAHANA RANCH: You know, and when you come over here it's just, you know, open. And the Japanese have a word called segoi (ph), which means open or vast, and I don't speak Japanese, but I know that word because when they come here that's all they say.

O'NEILL: Harry Nakoa is the owner of Dahana Ranch. With its unobstructed views of Mauna Kea and the mountain's famous observatory, the 40,000 acre property is the only native Hawaiian owned and operated working ranch on the Big Island. Established in 1951 by Nakoa's family, it's become a popular destination for travelers who want to see Hawaii from a different perspective.

A self-described horse communicator, Nakoa conducts clinics all over the United States to help riders gain confidence in the saddle. And while his technique is unorthodox...

(on camera): And are we establishing trust here between me and you or me and Cooper?

NAKOA: It's projection.

O'NEILL: I see.

(voice-over): The goal is straightforward.

NAKOA: When you take control you do it like silent thunder, in other words, being quietly. And then what happens is your idea becomes his idea.

O'NEILL: A third-generation rancher, much of what Nakoa knows about horses he learned from his father.

NAKOA: You want to make sure that the next generation, you know, is going to carry the torch.

O'NEILL: And at Dahana, you're never too young to learn.

(on camera): There are several ranches on the Big Island and no tour would be complete without a visit to Parker Ranch, started by New Englander John Parker with land given to him by King Kamehameha.

(voice-over): When they met, Hawaii's most famous monarch had a problem: Herds of cattle and mustang had been running wild on the island for years and no one knew how to bring them under control. Parker suggested cattle ranching. Salvation came in the form of Mexican cowboys.

LEABERT LINDSEY, MUSICIAN: When the vaqueros first came here in 1833, they brought with them many talents. You know, they taught the Hawaiians how to rope, how to ride, how to breed the colaee (ph).

O'NEILL: The Hawaiian cowboys call themselves panolas, derived from the word "espanol" for the language of their first teachers. Today, only three dozen horsemen can claim the title of distinction. Parts of Parker Ranch are open to the public. At 225,000 acres, it's the third largest in the United States. Yet symbols of a humble beginning still exist -- rock walls used to secure animals when fencing supplies were in short supply, and the original Parker home, a 19th century clapboard building with native wood interior.

But as the family prospered, its appetite for grandeur increased.

JUDY APO, PARKER RANCH HISTORIC HOMES: And now whenever guests come in, they're just shocked to see the elegance and not a ranch house.

O'NEILL: Home to five generations of Parkers, the estate houses an impressive array of French provincial furniture and one of the most extensive private collections of impressionist art.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: This was a very classy family. O'NEILL: Despite the fancy trimmings, Parker is still a viable ranch with panolas who proudly carry on the romantic, though unglamorous practice of their forefathers.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: It gets miserable but you've got to love it. You've got to get it inside you.

O'NEILL: And though fewer and fewer young people are taking the reigns from their elders, the tradition continues here in cowboy country.


WALCOTT: For more on Hawaii, check out your NEWSROOM archives for August 13. You'll take a big adventure through the Hawaiian Islands and learn about the exotic and delicious cuisine. And before we leave Hawaii, here's a pop quiz. Can you name the capital of the 50th U.S. state? Think quickly. The answer is Honolulu.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Our Pacific voyage continues as we turn our attention to these guys, California sea otters. These flippered furballs seldom leave the water. They sleep and eat while floating on their backs. Champion divers, otters may go as deep as 180 feet or 55 meters. They can hold their breath for up to four minutes. Unlike other marine mammals, otters don't have any blubber. Their thick fur protects them from the elements. It is the otter's unique fur that makes it valuable.

For centuries, these sea creatures were so greatly hunted they became endangered. Now their population is growing and as Ann Kellan tells us, researcher in California are doing their part to make sure those numbers continue to rise.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Diver Karl Mayer is giving this sea otter pup a lesson in survival, how to live in the ocean. This four-month-old was found somewhere along the California coast, orphaned. It is being raised by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

KARL MAYER, MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM: What I'm going to try to do out there is essentially give it exposure to the natural environment. I'll be diving, mimicking sea otter behavior as much as I can. We want them gradually to become more independent as they get older.

KELLAN: The goal: To release this pup back into the wild. It's part of a program to help keep this endangered species from extinction.

The Southern Sea Otter is found along the California coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Barbara and is one of three subspecies of sea otters. Their fur is the densest of any mammal.

Where the human head has 100,000 hairs, otters have about a million hairs per square inch. That's the main reason why they were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s. They've been making a feeble comeback ever since.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, I haven't seen her in a month. She's just grooming. The other one is being lazy and sleeping.

KELLAN: Every year researchers survey the otter population, and since many of those treated and released by the aquarium wear radio transmitters, they're easier to trace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... four, five, six, seven.

KELLAN: The latest tally conducted earlier this year shows just over 2,000 Southern Sea Otters left. These days it's not hunting that gets them as much as disease.

DR. MIKE MURRAY, VETERINARIAN: It basically tells us that this population is not healthy. They were either suffering from inadequate food supplies, improper food supplies, is something going on that we're increasing the infectious disease agents that are present in this coastal ecosystem? Are we having problems with the immune system?

KELLAN: Researchers also take in and treat sick otters. This one contracted a parasite that eats holes in its intestines. Another parasite, toxoplasma, is known to live in cats and in their feces, is somehow infecting otters, causing serious brain damage.

MICHELLE STAEDLER, MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM: In some cases, a lot of the sick or disease that the animals are getting is human-caused. And I think we owe that to the animals to help them overcome these diseases and care for them, and then try and return them back to the wild. We also need to clean up our act on our end so that these problems don't continue to happen to the animals.

KELLAN: Part of studying otters is learning their behavior and lifestyle. This is mostly a group of young bachelors.

STAEDLER: A group of otters together is called a raft.

KELLAN: Older adults tend to live alone, cute maybe, but otters can be nasty.

MURRAY: The adult ones definitely are a very dangerous animal, and you don't want to mess with them unless you absolutely have to.

KELLAN: They share similar traits to their relatives the ferret and wolverine. Otters, believed to be the last mammal species to return to the water, haven't quite made the evolutionary transition. They have the back flippers of a sea dweller and the front claws of a land mammal.

They don't have the insulating layers of fat to cope with frigid Pacific Waters that whales or dolphins have. That's why when otters aren't sleeping, they're constantly moving and fluffing up their thick fur. Without air flowing through it for added warmth, they would die.

STAEDLER: Good girl. KELLAN: And can they eat. These aquarium otters have it easy. A 50-pound otter will chow down about 12 pounds of shellfish a day that they crack open with their powerful jaws or bang open with rocks. That's what Mayer is trying to teach this pup to do. Today, all she wants to do is play.

STAEDLER: The animals tend to bond to humans, and that's one of the drawbacks for us because we have animals that we've released, and they can forage, they can make it on their own. But when they see somebody out there in a kayak or sometimes a wet suit, they go towards the person.

KELLAN: That's why now, caretakers don't show their faces like this anymore, around the pups. They wear disguises and don't talk around them, hoping to reduce the pup's attachment to humans.

(on camera): Since the program began in 1984, they've taken in more than 100 pups. Of those 100 pups, 50 have been released in the wild and more than 25 have survived more than a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hmmm -- oh, there's another one! They are eating.

STAEDLER: They're sort of like little ambassadors to the ocean.

KELLAN (voice-over): Even though they're a crowd favorite, no one can say whether these photogenic creatures can be saved from extinction or whether efforts to treat the sick and save abandoned pups will help. But people who work with them say it's worth a try.


MURRAY: It's more than just a cute fuzzy thing that everyone likes to look at. It really is our canary in the coal mine. So if we have this predator at the top of the food chain that is having problems, it really is Mother Nature's tap on our shoulder that we should look a little bit more carefully at what is happening in these coastal waters.



WALCOTT: Ten years ago this weekend, tragedy struck a small Brooklyn community and thrust the people who live there under a nationwide media spotlight. Two people died, the community became divided by race and religion. Nevertheless, though, signs of healing have developed over time.

And as Brian Palmer reports, new bonds and friendships are being forged despite tensions.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are small but powerful signs of healing in this Brooklyn neighborhood, 10 years after it was torn apart. On August 19, 1991, 7-year-old Gavin Cato was struck and killed here by an out of control car driven by a member of the Lubovich Jewish community. Just hours later, a 29-year-old Jewish scholar from Australia named Yankel Rosenbaum was surrounded by a mob of black men, stabbed and killed.

These two tragedies in Crown Heights ignited several long nights of violence that I witnessed and photographed for a New York City newspaper. A small number of men caused the violence, but the perception outside the neighborhood was that all blacks and Hasidic Jews were at each other's throats. Most people were just trying to stay safe. Still there were and still are significant differences that created the tension that exploded in 1991, culture, religion and economics.

RABBI SHEA HECHT, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR FURTHERANCE OF JEWISH EDUCATION: The number one issue that was the undercurrent, both within the black community and the Jewish community in 1991, was that the other guy is getting a bigger piece of the pie.

PALMER: Rabbi Shea Hecht co-chaired the Crown Heights coalition, a group of black and Jewish leaders formed after the riots. Dr. Edison Jackson was his counterpart.

DR. EDISON JACKSON, PRESIDENT, MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE: Things are different in a sense that people will talk. There are lines of communication that are open far beyond where they were before. There are structured activities that involve the entire community.

PALMER: Like Mothers to Mothers, formed just weeks after the riots.

HENNA WHITE, MOTHERS TO MOTHERS: We're all living here. We have an invested interest. Instead of two separate communities, we're becoming one concentrating on enough police on our streets instead of Jews and the blacks. I mean, there is a lot to go, but we are on our way.

PALMER: Community leaders, black and Jewish, understand Crown Heights won't become a melting pot. Community activist Richard Green prefers the salad bowl metaphor.

RICHARD GREEN, C.H. YOUTH COLLECTIVE: We're all distinct pieces within that salad bowl, and each of us make up the salad. But you can tell the difference between the lettuce and the tomatoes or the cucumbers and the avocados. They are all different pieces. But come together, we come together to make up a salad.

PALMER: There is still tension and pain in Crown Heights. Carmel Cato says 10 years on, he still mourns the loss of his son Gavin.

CARMEL CATO, FATHER OF GAVIN CATO: Inside of me, and that's hurting.

PALMER: But for many, there is hope.

Brian Palmer, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

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


ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM is part of Cable in the Classroom, a service of the cable television industry and your local cable company.



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