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NEWSROOM for August 23, 2001

Aired August 23, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: It's Thursday, August the 23rd, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome, I'm Shelley Walcott.

On today's show, a long-serving U.S. senator steps down from the helm. Here's a preview of today's show.

First, "In the News," after three decades on Capitol Hill, Jesse Helms will hang it up next year. We'll have a look back at his career. Then in "Science Desk," capturing memories like never before. We'll zoom in on the device known as the digital camera. Next stop, "Worldview," and a trip to Japan to check out an ancient way of growing rice. And in "Chronicle," the Harley-Davidson, why this brand name motorcycle commands consumer loyalty.

North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms is stepping out of the political limelight. In a taped address Wednesday, Helms said he would not run for reelection next year. His retirement will mark the end of a 30-year Senate career. Over the years, the 79-year-old became known for his outspoken conservative views, views that were often the target of the liberal left. With Helms stepping out of the picture who will be the new target?

Here's Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Helms was loved and he was hated. His name could raise vast amounts of money for both the left and the right. Ask Rodger Craver, leading direct mail fund-raiser for the left.

RODGER CRAVER, DIRECT MAIL FUND RAISER: The business of political causes and issues is a lot like professional wrestling. There is good and there is evil; and Jesse Helms, to those of us on the left, is evil.

SCHNEIDER: To raise money in politics, you need a devil. To the left, Helms was the great Satan.

REP. JUANITA MILLENDER-MCDONALD (D), CALIFORNIA: One man cannot hold this much power in the Congress of the people. SCHNEIDER: For decades, Helms' name on a fund-raising appeal would make liberals' flesh creep and their wallets open.

"He is sophisticated, shrewd and dangerous," the letters said. "He refers to a black as Fred and all blacks are freds. He thinks it is funny." "Join the battle to defeat Jessie Helms. Enclosed is my contribution."

Of course, Helms' name was just as good at raising money for the right. Their mail invoked devils on the left -- "radicals and liberals" like Jesse Jackson and Eleanor Smeal, the same inflammatory language -- "The National Liberal Coalition, led by the union bosses and Jesse Jackson, have launched a massive hate campaign" to defeat Senator Helms.

CRAVER: He perfected, or at least advanced, direct mail for political causes -- unfortunately, the wrong political causes, but he made an enormous contribution to that.

SCHNEIDER: So what will the direct mail fund-raising industry do now? The right still has some devils to attack -- Teddy Kennedy, Hillary.

But what devils does the left have? Newt Gingrich was a terrific devil, but he's gone. Tom Delay? Katherine Harris? No. How about John Ashcroft?

RALPH NEAS, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Who would have thought at the beginning of the millennium a president-elect would name or would nominate to the attorney general someone to the right of Senator Jesse Helms?

SCHNEIDER: Pretty scary, huh? But no Jesse Helms.

CRAVER: I don't see anyone on the right that are nearly as vehement and deadly as Jesse Helms has been.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Vehement and deadly. In politics, that's poisonous. But in fund-raising, it's a bonanza.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: As North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms prepares to exit the Senate, the question is who's going to run for his seat? Well, some political sources say among Republicans one person likely will be Elizabeth Dole. Dole, a former Cabinet secretary, Red Cross director and presidential candidate, already has said she would consider a bid for the Senate seat.

Bruce Morton reports on that possibility.


SEN. JESSE HELMS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I want to go through here. Ooga, ooga, ooga!

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He mostly got where he wanted to go winning, always narrowly, in a state with a split personality. Old rural North Carolina, tobacco, not the force it once was, but still here. Small Protestant churches. The country's number two hog producer. Hogs and hog waste are issues here. But at the same time, the urban areas are booming. Charlotte is a major banking center, lots of new business. The research triangle -- Duke, the University of North Carolina -- mean high tech, lots of new professional people. Population up 37 percent between 1980 and 2000.

So who might succeed Helms? How about Elizabeth Dole? Dole, 65, starts with advantages. Grew up in North Carolina, "Most likely to succeed," her high school yearbook said. Went to Duke. Her presidential campaign means she has high name recognition in the state and nationally, and a national money-raising base.

Harrison Hickman is a Democratic pollster from North Carolina.

HARRISON HICKMAN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I think the challenge for her will be to transform her celebrity status into political support if she's going to be a viable candidate.

MORTON: Other Republicans could run in a primary against her: former Senator Lauch Faircloth, defeated 2000 gubernatorial candidate Richard Vinroot, conservative congressman Richard Burr. She has some advantages.

ELIZABETH DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually, what we'll be doing is making history together, right? So let's make history.

MORTON: A woman president would have made history, of course. What she did in Iowa was respectable -- third in the straw poll there before dropping out with money woes. And she brought a lot of new people, a lot of women into the process. She can do the same thing in her home state. On the other hand, she may not be conservative enough for some on issues like abortion and guns.

QUESTION: I was wondering how you feel about the Second Amendment?

DOLE: I'm for it, absolutely. That does not include -- I would be for a ban on automatic weapons, The AK-47s, et cetera.

QUESTION: Right, amen.

HICKMAN: Can she hold some of these more conservative, more traditional rural voters who voted for Jesse Helms? It's almost a religion for them. They're called Jessecrats in North Carolina. Would they be willing to accept not just a woman as a senator, but sort of a more moderate woman?

MORTON: She's a strong campaigner. These were Tri-Delts in Iowa, but she knew their song from her school days. She is conservative, but no Helms. And some wonder: Is she more popular with Republicans in Washington than with Republicans in her old home state?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Today's "Science Desk" features a lesson in photography. No doubt you're familiar with digital imaging. There are two common methods of creating digital images; one involves the traditional technique of taking a photo then using a digital scanner to sample the print. The second digital method requires a device that samples the original light that bounces off of an object thus creating a digital image. This device is called a digital camera. Taking pictures is quicker and easier with it.

Are you in the market for one, well if so, check out this report from Natalie Pawelski before heading to the camera store.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I remember a few years ago seeing digital images that were kind of -- they just looked like they were shot through a screen or something, they weren't very good. Are things different now?

JOSH QUITTNER, MANAGING EDITOR, "ON" MAGAZINE: Absolutely. I mean, we've really reached sort a breaking point or a tipping point here. A mid-range camera in the $500 range, and this is were it really gets cool, is something that will give you resolution that is 2.1 megapixels or better.

Now, if you move up to the next camera, which is a 3.3 megapixel camera -- at 3.3 megapixels, you can really do eight by 10 pictures on your printer without any loss of clarity.

PAWELSKI: I've had camera batteries that have lasted ME for six months, two years. I take it these are a little different?

QUITTNER: Right. That's the one downside, I think, the one significant downside to digital cameras at this point, is the best that you can have is rechargeable batteries that will last for maybe a session or so. When you think about your old dependence on 35- millimeter film, you don't have that anymore, but you do have a dependence on electricity.

PAWELSKI: You don't have a dependence on having to go visit the photo store?

QUITTNER: That's right. Another great feature is you never ever have to go to a photo store if you don't want to. You can do all of the picture taking, all of the developing and all of the printing right here in this little device and at home on your printer.

PAWELSKI: So, I've got my pictures, I've got them recorded on the storage media, the discs or whatever, what do I do with them now?

QUITTNER: The next thing is to get them into your computer. And you can do that in one of two ways. You can either cable your camera directly to your computer, or you can take the media out and get a sort of third party device that will accept the media, smart media readers or compact flash readers, and plug your media right in that way.

PAWELSKI: So you get it into the computer, and then what?

QUITTNER: Once it's in the computer, the sky is the limit with what you can do. How about taking red eye out of pictures after the picture was already done, or adjusting the quality of the light, or I could make you look psychedelic, or I could even add pictures into the picture, combine two pictures, or take people out of the picture that I don't want. Stuff like that you could not do very easily in the old days of paper and print.

PAWELSKI (voice-over): Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


WALCOTT: It's been millions of years since dinosaurs inhabited the Earth yet the world still is fascinated by them, both the real ones that once existed on Earth and the ones we see in the movies.

Denise Dillon reports on one Japanese company that, with the help of technology, is bringing dinosaurs back in robotic form.


DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The savage cries of the T-Rex, his powerful tail taking giant swipes, this is the Jurassic Park of Japan where computer and mechanical engineers take plastic, metal and wire, combine it with the latest technology and seem to bring dinosaurs back from extinction.

HIDEAKI SAKURAI, KOKORO COMPANY (through translator): We create something which cannot be seen on the planet now, referring to the fossils and the various sources.

DILLON: Here you see two T-Rex models side by side, one with skin, one without, so it's possible to see the inner workings of the robot. The T-Rex contains 22 actuators. Air cylinders are connected to each actuator and with the help of the computer programs, the robots move. The computer can create almost any sequence of movements from the movement of the giant head and tail to the flutter of eyelids.

TOMIHIDE ITO, KOKORO COMPANY (through translator): Two legged humanoid robots and industrial robots are great in terms of the technology. However, our robots combine the technology and the artistic effect so as to create movements, which excite people's emotions.

DILLON: It's a complicated process and it took a team of six engineers and artists more than seven months to make the T-Rex prototype. The Japanese robot manufacturer, Kokoro Company, claims to be the leader in the world of animatronics. Their creations are on display in museums and amusement parks throughout the world.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


WALCOTT: We're all over Asia in "Worldview" today as we check out producers and consumers. When you think of car manufacturing, what comes to mind? We'll take you off the main drag as we turn to Thailand. Then journey to Japan where ancient growing techniques are sprouting once more. Then it's time to shop until you drop or at least drop a few dollars or yen. Learn about the Japanese yen for brand names and labels.

But first, a quick stop in Argentina. Yesterday we told you about the recession there. Now the International Monetary Fund has announced plans to provide more aid, raising to $22 billion the total amount of emergency loans to help stabilize South America's second largest economy.


CAROLINA CAYAZZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a press conference, President Fernando de la Rua, joined by several ministers, said that the International Monetary Fund has given a message to the market.

FERNANDO DE LA RUA, PRESIDENT OF ARGENTINA (through translator): This should bring confidence to the development of our economy, to lower interest rates and promote growth. This shows that the international community has invested in the Argentinean people.

CAYAZZO: De la Rua said that the international community understand the efforts the country is going to balance the budget. He said THAT conditions are now in place for the economy to grow and to fight a 16 percent unemployment rate. The president thanks this board of Latin American countries as well as the members of the IMF.

DE LA RUA (through translator): This is a day of confidence in the Argentinean economy. Before all the pessimists, before all the naysayers, we salute the consideration of the economy.

CAYAZZO: Meanwhile, Finance Minister Domingo Carvallo highlighted that from now on Argentina will work together with the IMF and the G-7 countries to leave behind a three-year recession. Argentina faces a $128 billion debt.


WALCOTT: What do you think of when you think of Japan? There are some stereotypical images -- elegant formality, high-tech nirvana, sushi bars -- but there are some other aspects of the country that might surprise you.

But before we get to that, some facts on Japan. The country lies just off the east coast of Asia in the Pacific Ocean. It's made up of a chain of islands, four major ones and about 100 smaller ones. These days, Japan is facing something most people wouldn't expect from a country with a reputation for rigid discipline. The Japanese economy has been facing tough times of late. In July, the Tokyo stock market sunk to its lowest level since 1985, but despite the looming recession, Japanese consumers insist on having the best.

Rebecca MacKinnon explains.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Japan sinks back into recession, these people are enduring hardship, waiting outside on a hot summer day, pushing past security guards in desperation for a $1,000 Hermes handbag.

This woman already has five others, and about 20 scarves. "I can't get enough," she says, "I just keep buying."

Recession? What recession? This year, several of the world's most prestigious brand names have seen double-digit growth in sales.

(on camera): At a time when many Japanese companies are struggling for survival, and unemployment is hitting record highs, it may seem strange that enough people are still willing to buy $600 bags, $300 towels, and $800 umbrellas, to enable companies like Hermes to open new stores in Tokyo.

(voice-over): Not strange at all, says Mineaki Saito, president of Hermes Japan. "People are cutting back on their general expenses," he says, "but they still spend money on a few things that symbolize the lifestyle of their dreams."

Analysts say Japanese consumers now spend most of their money in two places. At the very low end, buying most of life's essentials at discount stores. Places like this "100 yen store," where everything costs less than one U.S. dollar, are thriving.

Then, there's the high end, where Japan's most aggressive consumers, young women with disposable income, go in search of just the right status symbol, dropping thousands of credit card dollars in one sitting at places like this Fendi boutique.

TAKAHIRO YAMAGUCHI, FASHINO MARKET CONSULTANT (through translator): They want to feel superior to the extent that their budget allows. When the economy was strong, they bought a wide variety of brands. But now only about 10 luxury brands monopolize the market.

MACKINNON: Those elite few say they expect their good times to continue.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Tokyo.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: For decades, Japan has been a major exporter of finished goods like automobiles, but recently it has been importing vehicles from another Asian nation, Thailand. The trend started in part because of the Asian economic crisis in 1990. Since that time, many businesses have suffered along with consumer buying power. Nevertheless, Thailand's auto assembly industry has been a quiet success, exporting vehicles all over the world.

And now as Bangkok bureau chief John Raedler reports, that success has reached a new level.


JOHN RAEDLER, CNNfn BANGKOK BUREAU CHIEF, BEFORE HOURS (off camera): Robots at work. Welding the body of a vehicle on the assembly line at General Motors` plant in Thailand. But these aren`t just any vehicles. They`re the first Thai-assembled autos for export to Asia`s most demanding market for motor vehicles, Japan.

WILLIAM BOTWICK, GENERAL MOTORS, THAILAND: It demonstrates that Thailand is capable of producing world-class vehicles in terms of quality. In fact, Japanese quality-level vehicles.

RAEDLER: The type of vehicle going to Japan is primarily a passenger van. Designed in Germany, it sells under different badges in 19 countries on five continents, and is best known as the Safira.

BOTWICK: It seats up to seven people, but the seats actually fold into the floor, allowing for very quick changes in configuration. In fact, there are 39 different ways that you can configure the interior of the vehicle.

RAEDLER: The GM plant in Thailand will make 55 to 60,000 Sofiras for the world market this year. But the ones being exported to Japan will carry the Subaru badge and be called the Provoque (ph).

(on camera) This vehicle is being referred to as "assembled in Thailand." But can you give us some detail as to what that means?

BOTWICK: Well actually, I would say it`s manufactured here. We stamp all the exterior sheet metal and some of the sheet metal that you don`t see right in our facility in Rayong. Our local content level is about 42 percent. We have approximately 40 local suppliers who deliver right to the line. So from my standpoint it`s a manufacturing operation.

RAEDLER (off camera): Thailand already has Asia`s third-biggest auto industry, after Japan and South Korea. Most major manufacturers have plants here, exporting to an alphabet of countries from Australia to Zambia. But winning acceptance in one of the world`s most quality- conscious auto markets, Japan, is taking the Thai industry to new heights.

John Raedler, CNNfn, Rayong, Thailand.


WALCOTT: More now on Japan as consumer as we turn to the world of agriculture. You already know that Japan is one of the world's economic giants. Before recent times, agriculture was a mainstay of Japan's economy. But as industry grew, farming dwindled, and on top of that, only 15 percent of Japan's lands can be cultivated. Farmers, therefore, use modern techniques as well as old ones to be as productive as possible. One ancient method, growing crops on terraced fields. One of the most important crops is rice. The Japanese eat rice at most of their meals. Now a report on growing rice on the terraces of Japan.


TOKURO FUKUTA, CHANNEL J, TOKYO: Lake Biwa is Japan's biggest lake. It has a shoreline of 235 kilometers and is surrounded by hills. The Hata District of Takashima City and Shiga prefecture is a community of 38 households. The district is located 265 meters above sea level and is famous for its beautiful tiered fields.

Here, a group of amateur farmers carried out traditional rice planting by hand on two fields covering about 300 square meters. Owner Udel Siwad made two layered fields available and Nowa Kabuta (ph) was responsible for assembling participants for the rice planting. Eleven people, including children, traveled from all over Japan to the area to experience the transplanting of rice seedlings.

Layered fields are created by cutting into mountain slopes, but this time-consuming procedure has tending to be ignored as farming techniques have become more modernized. But here the participants took up the challenge of traditional organic rice planting which does not require weed killer or chemical fertilizer.

NOWA KABUTA (through translator): I hope through this experience of actually doing the farm work in the field will expand to help shorten the distance between farmers and us, consumers, or bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. This can't be done without the cooperation of farmers such as Mr. Siwad. And because of this, we really appreciate what Mr. Siwad has done for us.

UDEL SIWAD, FARMER (through translator): I'm more than happy to help.

FUKUTA: After the work, participates gathered by the side of the field and chatted while enjoying rice cake sweets or rice balls. Siwad explained that as long as it's protected from wild deer and monkeys, they can expect to harvest about 60 kilograms worth of rice. This is about half the amount which would be expected using chemical fertilizer. Siwad and Kabuta hope that this activity will bring together local farmers and city residents.

This report was prepared by Tokuro Fukuta (ph), Channel J Tokyo for the CNN world report.


WALCOTT: Well in the Midwest earlier this week, U.S. President Bush spoke about his tax cuts and budget plans with workers at a Harley-Davidson plant. The workers in return gave Mr. Bush a special tour and a look at an American mainstay, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Brian Palmer brings us a closer look at the motorcycle and the people who just can't get enough of it.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why do Harley- Davidson motorcycles command such loyalty?

UNIDENTIFIED RIDER: If I had to explain, you wouldn't understand.

PALMER: For hard-core owners, the Harley is much more than a motorcycle.

MARTY FARRELL, HARLEY-DAVIDSON OWNER: I guess it's a piece of Americana. It's like apple pie, baseball and Harley-Davidsons. It's, they're different, just like America is different.

GLENN STEELE, HARLEY-DAVIDSON DEALER: There's a mystique. There's a charisma. People love the product. People who don't own Harley-Davidsons buy all the accessories, and the paraphernalia, and the collectibles. People tattoo Harley-Davidson on their bodies.

PALMER: Harley-Davidson is bigger than motorcycles. It's a quintessential American brand. Last quarter, the company sold more than $30 million in merchandise alone -- jackets, shirts, stuffed animals.

Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson is the only major producers of motorcycles left in the United States. Harleys served in WWI and II, but the company hit hard times in the late '60s and '70s.

But Harley-Davidson rose from the ashes in the '80s when company executives bought the firm from its previous owner then took it public, ushering in a stretch of golden years.

STEELE: I kept telling myself through the late '80s and early '90s that this couldn't last forever and it was going to stop eventually and it hasn't. It's just gotten better and better and better every year.

PALMER: As the company changed, so did its customers.

UNIDENTIFIED RIDER: There is Harley riders and there's a new breed of Harley riders, you know, the so-called stock broker rider.

PALMER: The average Harley owning household earns $73,000 a year, nearly twice the figure for 1987. Anthony Casio (ph) is a mechanical engineer, not a stock broker.

ANTHONY CASIO, MECHANICAL ENGINEER: I got my first Harley back in '85 shortly after I got married. The Harley lasted longer than the marriage.

PALMER: More women are riding Harleys, too. Marie Schneider (ph) from Connecticut started five months ago.

MARIE SCHNEIDER, HARLEY-DAVIDSON OWNER: When you're on a sport bike, you're like flying down the road. When you're on a Harley, you're riding, you're cruising. It's just, it's a different feeling.

PALMER: Harley watchers say the company is trying to promote a more forward looking image while still holding on to Harley loyalists. One way it hopes to grab younger riders, the sleek 2002 V-Rod motorcycle, a 115 horsepower bike with an engine co-designed with Porsche. Not your grandpa or grandma's Harley.

Brian Palmer, CNN, New York.


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


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