Skip to main content /transcript



NEWSROOM for August 28, 2001

Aired August 28, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Welcome to NEWSROOM for Tuesday, everyone, good to be back with you. I'm Tom Haynes. News about your health tops today's show.

First up, realizing the potential of stem cells. The U.S. government picks who gets federal money for research. In the "Daily Desk," many consider it a miracle drug but is Prozac being overprescribed? In "Worldview," a border and a bitter land dispute divide them but are people from India and Pakistan really that different? Then we "Chronicle" the good portion of two young guys whose ingenuity got them a free pass to college.

But first today, another step forward for stem cell research. On Monday, the National Institutes of Health released the names of the research organizations that own the 64 existing lines of embryonic stem cells. U.S. President Bush announced August 9 that he would allow federal funds for those specific cell lines.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist. They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research.


HAYNES: The stem cell lines identified by the NIH on Monday met President Bush's deadline and criteria. CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Washington with a look at what it all means.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a long journey from Haifa, Israel, to Washington, D.C. but well worth it for this man. Dr. Joseph Itskovitz is in an elite club. His lab is 1 of only 10 in the whole world that makes human embryonic stem cells. So he's got the goods and flew in to Dulles Airport at the request of the White House to learn from government officials what he and others can do with those goods and still receive federal funds. DR. JOSEPH ITSKOVITZ, TECHNION-ISRAEL INST. OF TECH: It's an extremely exciting time because I have the feeling of closing the circle, starting early '98 when we have started our collaboration here in the U.S.

COHEN: Most of the 10 labs that make the 64 embryonic stem cell lines are outside the U.S. Leading the pack is Sweden with 24 stem cell lines in 2 labs. The United States has registered a total of 20 stem cell lines from 4 different groups. The rest of the batch is from companies in Australia, India and Itskovitz' group in Israel.

The cells themselves can't do anything but the hope is that by distributing them to labs all over the world, scientists can develop the blank stem cells into customized cells to treat diseases.

(on camera): But the devil is in the microscopic details. Stem cell researchers still have to haggle with the federal government about who can use the stem cells, how much access they'll have and under what conditions.

(voice-over): The conditions at best are complicated.

ITSKOVITZ: It's going to be a challenge. We are -- we are not sure how we are going to handle it. And this is one of the reasons we are here to discuss it with NIH people how to make the cell lines available to the cell community, how to educate scientists to use the cell lines in the proper way.

COHEN: Money will be a challenge, too. It's still not clear how much outside researchers will have to pay to use stem cell lines from the 10 companies. One company, BresaGen, says they'll give away their stem cells for free. Then if outside researchers find a cure, BresaGen would want a cut of the profits.

Stem cells are indeed a hot commodity and now scientists and federal officials are working hard to translate those cells sitting in a lab to actual cures for diseases.


HAYNES: Well with all the talk about embryonic stem cells, it's important to understand what they do and what they actually are. How are stem cells made and why is researching them so important to medical experts and people with debilitating diseases.

Once again, here's Elizabeth Cohen with a look at those questions.


COHEN (voice-over): Just like human beings, stem cells start out as a sperm and an egg. The egg is fertilized in the laboratory.

By the day after fertilization, it splits into a two-celled embryo. The next day it's four cells, then eight cells. By day six, the embryo is a multi cell ball called the blastocyst. At this point in the embryo's life it's tiny, the size of the dot on an eye. It can either be implanted into a woman's womb, to start a pregnancy, or frozen, to start a pregnancy at a later time.

If the embryo is to be used for stem cell research, however, several hundred stem cells from inside the blastocyst are removed, which destroys the embryo.

The stem cells can then multiply indefinitely in the lab. Stem cells are essentially blank cells with no identity. In the lab, scientists treat the cells to make them specialized, to convert them, for example, into cardiac cells, liver cells, bone marrow cells, or pretty much any type of human tissue.

So how can that help someone who's sick? Let's say someone's spinal cord has been damaged. Doctors could take stem cells, convert them into nerve cells, and give an injection of healthy cells to repair the damage. The same principle applies to the heart: After a heart attack, some of the cardiac muscle dies; stem cells could be made into cardiac cells and then injected, healing the heart tissue.

This explains just one way to make stem cells, which is to take a leftover embryo from a fertility clinic. There are other sources of stem cells--for example, aborted fetuses or umbilical cords. Doctors say each appears to have its own benefits, but that the fertility cells are especially interesting, because at just six days old, they may more easily convert to other types of body tissue, the name of the game when it comes to stem cell research.


HAYNES: And in other health headlines today: diabetes, one of the diseases scientists hope they can treat with stem cells. Cases of Type II diabetes, the most common type, have risen significantly during the past decade. Now health officials say people age 30 and older should be tested if they're overweight, have a diabetic relative, are black, Hispanic, Asian, American-Indian or a Pacific Islander or have had heart disease or high blood pressure.

And if you have ever wondered whether you would live until a ripe old age, well, you might want to listen up. Researchers say they've identified a region of the human chromosome that may be responsible for longevity. They say the finding could help in the development of drugs that mimic what long-living people process genetically.

Now hold on tight, medical news is next in "Health Desk."

And in "Health Desk" today, Prozac. The drug was first introduced in 1987 to treat depression. Since then, Prozac has influenced pop culture so profoundly the use of antidepressants has become almost mainstream. In fact, with Prozac so popular, some headlines have even proclaimed a Prozac generation. Some worry, however, that the U.S. is fast becoming a nation of depressed pill poppers.

Anne McDermott has a look at how far Prozac has come.


ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the 70s, Valium helped folks get out of the fast lane. In the 80s it was a little pill called Prozac. And it wasn't long before it became the fastest selling new mental illness drug ever, 17 million Americans have taken Prozac at one time or another. People like Martha Hartman.

MARTHA HARTMAN, PROZAC USER: I was experiencing a lot of depression, irritability, anger.


HARTMAN: You do feel better. I feel so much better now.

MCDERMOTT: But there are worries that people have taken what they think of as a medical miracle too far. Prozac originally developed to treat depression is sometimes prescribed for panic attacks, eating disorders and now premenstrual syndrome, with a slightly reformulated PMS Prozac is sold as Seraphim. Eli Lilly calls that a marketing decision.

Although the numbers are relatively small, more and more youngsters are taking antidepressants and stimulants. Critics, including Scientologists, complain of side effects, including violence. Manufacturers say side effects are minor, but many experts say no pill including Prozac is a be all and end all.

DR. ANDREW LEUCHTER, PSYCHIATRIST: We don't pop a pill and depression or schizophrenia goes away or attention deficit disorder goes away. You need to look beyond medication into the overall person.

MCDERMOTT: And that person may need counseling, therapy, maybe psychiatric intervention, and supervision. And they may need medication as well.

LEUCHTER: The problem that we have is not so much overprescription of antidepressants but underrecognition of the problem of depression.

MCDERMOTT: Prozac's importance is fading. In January of last year for example doctors wrote more new prescriptions for Prozac competitor, Zoloft, but Martha keeps taking Prozac. The only side effect she can determine that she's less emotional than she used to be. Would her husband like the old Martha back?


MCDERMOTT: Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.


HAYNES: By the way, the patent on the drug Prozac expired early this month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently gave five laboratories the exclusive rights to make generic versions of fluoxetine, the main ingredient found in Prozac.

"Worldview" heads to Asia to two countries that are neighbors and rivals but which also share a common culture in many ways. We'll explore Pakistan and India, of course. We'll look at their movies and music and spotlight spirituality. We'll even take you to the racetrack to hear about some horses fighting back from hard times, and we'll focus on the conflict over Kashmir.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: We touch down today in an area of Asia that's been under dispute for several decades. That place is Kashmir, located on India's border with Pakistan. Kashmir is located near the great Himalayan Mountains. It's an area where weather conditions can be quite extreme. In fact, the bitter cold in the region claims more lives than any of the sporadic military battles.

Fighting over the Kashmir began in 1947 shortly after Great Britain carved up the subcontinent that now makes up India and Pakistan. The Kashmir dispute has led to two full-scale wars between the countries. Now in its 54th year, the Kashmir conflict continues to threaten peace in South Asia.

John Raedler has more on the history of the fighting.


JOHN RAEDLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Kashmir dispute is a quirk of history going back to 1947, that's when Pakistan was carved out of India to be a homeland for Muslims. Kashmir was a majority Muslim area but it had a Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, and he decided Kashmir would stay with predominately Hindu India.

MARK TULLY, WRITER: Obviously Pakistan felt that it had been robbed. It felt that most of the majority state on its very borders should obviously and inevitably come within Pakistan.

RAEDLER: So India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir. A 1948 cease-fire left the territory divided pretty much as it is today. Continuing friction caused the two countries to go to war again over Kashmir in 1965 before an accord ushered in a period of relative calm.

But many Kashmiri Muslims resented what they saw as India's oppressive occupation of their homeland. This resulted in a violent uprising in 1990, an insurgency that has attracted Muslim militants from outside Kashmir.

TULLY: And that was the beginning of what is now really 11 years of almost a proxy war in a way certainly.

RAEDLER: The ongoing uprising, what India says is Pakistan's support of it and what Pakistan says is India's brutal handling of it has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Kashmir in the past decade.

TULLY: A situation where the armed forces are very wide at this point, paramilitary police are very widely deployed, a lot of violence going on. RAEDLER: Against this background, India and Pakistan now nuclear armed, came close to another war in Kashmir in 1999.

(on camera): As for a solution to the Kashmir dispute, that could be a long time coming. As the Agra summit showed, India and Pakistan can't agree on words to describe the dispute much less agree on a solution.

John Raedler, CNN, New Delhi.


WALCOTT: As you learned, partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was responsible for the physical separation of the people. In the years since, they've fought wars and maintained different political views over Kashmir.

But as Zain Verjee reports from New Delhi, the people of both countries are really quite similar in many ways.



ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sitar, an ancient Indian instrument.

SHUJAAT KHAN, INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSICIAN: I am my music. I am seven generations of Indian classical music.

VERJEE: Shujaat Khan is one of India's most recognized artists. He's performed all over the world and even played in Pakistan.

KHAN: Playing that, for me, was absolutely in no way different from playing New Delhi. The people are the same. They're really the same people. We think the same way and react to music the same way.


KHAN: Like sound, like words, like voices, I think it's something which people connect with very easily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a song which introduced us to India.

VERJEE: For Pakistani Sufi-pop group, Junoon, the sounds are slightly louder. But listen to their lyrics. Their message is: Music unites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- this is really stupid. We talk about boundaries, Pakistan's, Indian, Bangladesh's. This is all stupid. This is really bad.

VERJEE: Indians and Pakistanis also share a love for Indian-made movies, a $1.2 billion business in Mumbai. And when their two national cricket teams play, every TV is tuned in. Add to that a shared sense of spirituality. At this Sufi shrine, people of all religions on both sides of the border come to pray.

RAJMOHAN GANDHI, POLITICAL ANALYST : Apart from music and food and language, our whole styles of thinking and of conversing and of arguing and debating is so similar.

VERJEE (on camera): In spite of enormous religious and political differences between the two countries, the neighbors share far more than just a common border.

Zain Verjee, CNN, New Delhi.


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: More on Pakistan as we turn to the world of business. The country's economy is mainly agricultural. Important crops include rice, cotton, wheat and sugarcane. But today, we head to the racetrack, a source of livelihood for some Pakistanis and a place where scores of horses have made a comeback from hunger and illness.

Catherine Callaway has the story of a racetrack reopening earlier this month.


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Adrenaline charged the air at the Karachi Race Club as horses leapt from the gate for the first time in more than four months. And although the event left some of its participants exhausted, it, nonetheless, represented their salvation.

The track was closed in March over a tax dispute between the provincial government and the jockey club that owns the race course. After its closure, most of the club's more than 600 horses were moved to other tracks, but some 250 were abandoned by their owners. Without food or proper care, more than 70 of those died of hunger and disease. The rest owe their lives to a group of trainers who remained at the stables caring for the animals as best they could despite not being paid for more than five months.

Now the desperate times appear to be over. The club was allowed to reopen after it agreed to pay back-taxes and veterinarians from a British-based animal hospital were brought in to nurse the sickest animals back to health. They say the horse's response is encouraging.

LT. COL. SYED ANWAR, VETERINARIAN, BROOKS ANIMAL HOSPITAL: When I came here, there were about 60 horses that were very poor and some of them were unable to walk. So we started a treatment on the 11th. And here today we have given them good treatment, good medicines. And out of them, about 15 are good and about still there are about 14, 15 animals that are very poor. There is no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) disease. It is only the starvation which led them to this condition. And now they are doing fine.

CALLAWAY: The reopening of the Karachi Race Club has helped man as well as beast. Nearly 200 employees take their livelihoods from activities at this track.

MUHAMMAD SHARIF, KARACHI RACE CLUB EMPLOYEE (through translator): The lifting of the ban on the race course has brought happiness in the lives of everybody. This frequent closure and opening of the race course for different periods brings disappointment among the employees. This is the only source of income we have.

CALLAWAY: So for now, times at the Karachi Race Club are good, horses run, crowds cheer and at least for this day the future looks bright.

Catherine Callaway, CNN reporting.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming "Desk" segments.

It's all at this Web address where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops and neither does learning.

HAYNES: The start of a new school year brings a host of new anxieties for students and parents. For college freshmen, the start of the fall semester often means leaving home and facing fears of the unknown. New friends, surroundings and responsibilities trigger both nerves and excitement.

Jason Bellini spoke with two young ladies preparing for their first semester at Duke University.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new chapter. A huge step. The start of a journey. The cliches heard on freshman moving day don't change from year to year. The event is one of those unofficial rights of passage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been looking forward to this life for a month.

BELLINI: Leonna and Kay, assigned by Duke University to be roommates, spent time on the phone this summer arranging how they'd do up their room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have the same hangers. See? Color coordinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It took me about three months to pack.

BELLINI (on camera): How did you decide what to bring with you here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything I didn't want my parents to find while I was gone.

BELLINI (voice-over): What to take with them from their previous life, and what to leave behind are serious decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of shoes in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My four girls and one boy, he'll come in two suitcases, and all of my girls will travel with this much junk. But, we're happy to get it out of our house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An old Thundercat. It's from my childhood.

BELLINI: What's your role in all of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just a pack mule for my daughter.

BELLINI: Different perceptions of this day for parents and the students to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not ready for her to leave, just hate to see the oldest child move out. Haven't done this before.

BELLINI: For parents, the emotions hinge on departure. For the freshmen: Arrival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he'll be glad to be on his own -- maybe for a week, and then he'll be very -- then he'll miss his mother.

BELLINI: Duke, like many universities, offers parents the ceremony and photo opportunities they desire to mark the occasion. But after the goodbyes are finally said, it's all about hellos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems more like summer camp right now, actually. Just because everyone is trying to get everyone to meet each other, and they get all these, like, silly, like bonding games and stuff. But it's starting to quiet down and, like, get real.

BELLINI: The reality of the cafeteria.

This place is crazy.


BELLINI: The reality of book prices. The reality that you're on your own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really nice settling in.

BELLINI: Does it feel like college yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost, almost. I think when I start class it will be closer to that right, but right now it's just freedom. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Well, if you're a college student with credit cards, chances are a lot of your extra cash is spent paying off debt. A recent survey shows one in three college students has four or more credit cards and owes an average of $7,000. Now, two enterprising undergrads have come up with a new way to stay out of the red.

Casey Wian explains.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Barrett and Luke McCabe are typical college freshmen. The New Jersey guys are going to school in southern California, Chris at Pepperdine in Malibu, and Luke at USC in L.A. Both want to learn how to surf, and both are vague about career plans.

CHRIS BARRETT, COLLEGE FRESHMAN: Luke wants to be a rock star.

LUKE MCCABE, COLLEGE FRESHMAN: Yes, I want to be a -- be in the entertainment industry.

WIAN (on camera): And how about you, Chris?

BARRETT: Well, we'll see what happens.

WIAN (voice-over): Like most freshmen, there's excitement moving into the dorm, nervousness before the first class. What makes Chris and Luke unique is how they're paying for all this.

MCCABE: We wanted to just try and find a different way to go to school, because obviously we couldn't afford it ourselves.

BARRETT: And schools are about $35,000 to $40,000 a year, and we saw, like, sports stars and musicians getting sponsored to do what they do. So we thought, Why can't we get sponsored to go to school?

WIAN: They convinced credit card giant First USA to pay for tuition, room, and board, while Chris and Luke promote financial planning and the company on campus.

DOUG FILAK, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING, FIRST USA: We found Chris and Luke via their Web site, thought that their approach was very innovative. They're smart, they're financially responsible. And we thought this is a really good way for us to help promote that message.

WIAN: Last year, the percentage of college students with credit cards rose to 78 percent compared with 67 percent two years earlier. Average college credit card debt jumped 46 percent to more than $2,700.

KATHY MCNALLY, NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR CREDIT COUNSELING: This is probably not a whole lot different from Coke and Pepsi vying to get a college campus contract, because if young people drink one or the other during those formative years, they're going to probably continue drinking that soda for the rest of their lives. And I think if it doesn't exploit the students, and if it is an educational vehicle, it can be worthwhile.

WIAN: For now, First USA has committed to the spokesguys, as they call themselves, for one year, with possible annual renewals.

(on camera): The deal could be worth $150,000 over four years for both Chris and Luke and ensure that they graduate from college debt-free. That's as long as they practice what they preach and don't run up big credit card bills.

Casey Wian, CNN Financial News, Malibu, California.


HAYNES: And if you are a credit card holder, here's a few tips. Think of credit card transactions as cash purchases. If you can't pay it off in 25 days, well, don't buy it. If you carry a balance, get a card with a low interest rate. The annual fee matters. Any costs that you don't have to have, well, don't have them. Most importantly, be smart with your money and your credit. And be sure to catch Jason Bellini later this week when he'll return with more on how to manage your money.

And that is CNN NEWSROOM for Tuesday. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you back here tomorrow.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM, here for you 12 months a year and it's free. Educators need to enroll once a year and it's easy. In the U.S., call 1-800-344-6219. Outside the U.S., 44207-637-6912. Or on the Internet at

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



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top