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NEWSROOM for August 31, 2001

Aired August 31, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It is Friday. TGIF, everyone. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tom Haynes. We have lots to cover today so let's get started.

Money management is our first order of business today, check out "Top Story" for all you need to know. The compatibility quotient of cats and computers slides across our "Editor's Desk" today. On to "Worldview" where we preview the United Nation's conference on racism. Finally, we "Chronicle" the ongoing controversy surrounding a star little leaguer.

It is never too early to establish good financial habits. Things like budgeting, saving and investing for the future, things that can insure financial independence, not financial dependence. For a few pointers on smart money management, Jason Bellini went straight to the source, a financial expert. But for some personal experience, Jason met up with a few college students. That's up first.


SHELLEY MCFARLAN, STUDENT, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Before, our kitchen looked horrible. It had this like really, really gross wall paper on it.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Martha Stewart's show ever has a college week, Katie and Shelley could host it.

KATIE CARO, STUDENT, EMORY UNIVERSITY: This is not a very nice table. But with a little tablecloth and flower, it becomes this beautiful little centerpiece in our dining room.

BELLINI: It's all about working with what they've got, which as loan-laden college students, isn't all that much.

CARO: We, like, squished a lot of people in this house.

MCFARLAN: We fit six people in one house.

CARO: We put six people in a little house.

This was my first stereo. And then this was an old TV that was in storage in a basement.

BELLINI: They're quickly discovering the little things that add up to big responsibilities.

CARO: We have to send a check to the cable company.

BELLINI: But they feel ready for this, aware of the pitfalls many college students fall into, pitfalls like late bills.

MCFARLAN: Having everybody in charge of one bill, that means that that's their job. And so if that bill is late, then it's their problem.

BELLINI: And money pits like credit cards.

MCFARLAN: I have one credit card. But I am only allowed to use it for emergencies.

BELLINI: Managing money isn't something college students are famous for. Many spend like there's no tomorrow or like there's no such thing as debt and bad credit. They learn lessons the hard way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll offer credit cards really to any student because they qualify -- first credit, right, Just (ph), first credit card?

BELLINI: Pat Robinson mans a table where two Duke freshman declare financial independence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell them they can get a credit card, and it's boom, flies off the shelf.

MCFARLAN: It's so easy just to be like, oh, OK, I'll pull out the credit card. And, yes, I don't have cash, but here's my credit card. It's one of those things where you have to be like, do I really need this or not?

BELLINI: It's hard to say no unless you somehow find joy in frugality.

MCFARLAN: Katie, tell him how your duvet cover was.

CARO: My duvet cover was $20 at TJ Maxx.

BELLINI: Or you want to give Martha Stewart a run for her money.



BELLINI: Well, joining us now is Stan Sharp. Stan is with Merrill Lynch. He's a senior financial consultant. That means he's been doing this quite a long time and worked with quite a few people on their financial issues.

I want to get down to one of the most important issues, from what I understand, that is your credit history and the importance of having a good credit rating for yourself. Can you explain credit to me? What is -- what is credit and why is that important?


The -- in our society today, a lot of the things that people want as they grow and mature in their lives are things like cars and houses and starting businesses and so forth, and these things typically take a large amount of capital which most of us when we're just getting out of college do not have. So the economy, as it sits up right now, has institutions such as banks and financial institutions that will be able to lend you that money, but you have to prove to them that you're a good risk for them because, after all, they are a business. So what you want to do as an individual is to look as good to them as you possibly can. What that means is a good credit history, that means that what you've done over your lifetime is when you have borrowed some money that you pay it back in a timely fashion.

BELLINI: Over your lifetime, when do they begin keeping an eye on you?

SHARP: Well that's -- and it depends differently for most us because some of us while we're in college work and have a job and go out and borrow money for a car or for their educational purposes. Many of us have college loans, as an example, and that's one way that we do establish our credit.

BELLINI: I know that many high school students now, I don't know if it's many, but some high school students now have credit cards of their own or they have credit cards that belong to their parents. Could they be impacting their credit history by the way they use that credit card?

SHARP: Yes, they can, and many times that's a pretty dangerous thing for people that normally of that age to do. It's a great thing to establish your credit, but remember a credit card is a revolving line of credit for you. And what you do is when you borrow on that line of credit, you're required to pay it back. So as young people, we tend to be more impulsive in our buys and do not think about the paying back period as much as we would -- we ought to consider.

BELLINI: So there are real consequences to not paying your credit card bill no matter how old you are?

SHARP: Absolutely.

BELLINI: Even though it's virtual money,...

SHARP: Right.

BELLINI: ... it can have a real impact...

SHARP: Right.

BELLINI: ... on the rest of your life. But -- well let's talk a little bit more about credit cards. How do we use credit cards? How are credit cards used in our society by adults, young people, everyone?

SHARP: Right. Well, in our you know so-called cashless society, which I don't think is upon us yet, but still years ago when I first got out of college you actually went to a bank and, you know, cashed a check and actually got money in your hands and went out and spent it. Today, it's very usual for a person just to take one of their ATM cards or their credit card, as I often do, and put it in an ATM machine and get cash. And that's one way of using a credit card and it's an awfully convenient way. Credit cards are very convenient for us.

BELLINI: We hear of a lot of people getting in trouble with their credit cards. Would you advise young people to not even use them -- to not bother with them, just spend cash?

SHARP: No, I really wouldn't. I think that you do need to establish your credit because that's an important element of building your financial future. What I would suggest is that they keep three things in mind when they do get a credit card and that is plan, plan and plan. Plan to pay it back. I mean you should understand that when you borrow money on a credit card, and you are, you're going to pay a fairly high rate of interest because it's short-term credit. And you should have a plan as to how you're going to pay that back because you are paying a high price for that credit.

BELLINI: Planning is important. Do young people need to budget for themselves? Do they need to start thinking about that at a young age? And how do you do it?

SHARP: Well, being a parent myself, I would tell you that I think that one of the great lessons that we can impart on our children is to start that budgeting process early and to give them the responsibility of taking some sum of money and budgeting it for themselves. And as they go into their teen years and then into their college years, it's important that they understand a budgeting process. So it's one of the most valuable lessons that we learn as a young person and it really has great implications for the rest of our lives. Some of us don't learn the budgeting process until late in life and it has grave consequences.


HAYNES: Now we all know that there are dog people and there are cat people. I happen to be a dog person. So what if you happen to be a cat person and a mouse person, you know, the kind of mouse attached to your computer keyboard? And what if your cat and your mouse just don't get along? Well, some cyberheads have come up with a few solutions, some to keep kitty occupied, some to keep him away.

Jeanne Moos, mouse, moose, whatever, has the details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may look like this feline is about to go online, but the mouse it's after bounces rather than clicks -- introducing Cyber Pounce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what we've attracted? I think we've attracted the resident stray cat.

MOOS: Cyber Pounce is the brainchild of a California game inventor who happened to be working at a computer while cat-sitting for a friend.

MATT WOLF, PRESIDENT, DOUBLE TWENTY PRODUCTIONS: I just thought it was hysterical. This cat jumps up on my lap starts following the cursor around. I'd move it off the screen and he'd look around the side.

MOOS: Sort of like this.

Only Bob here is playing with the software Matt Wolf eventually developed. Cyber Pounce features characters ranging from Humphrey Flutterbug to Pablo the Fish.

You can play with your cat, or let your pet play alone.

Matt got an animal behaviorist, Dr. John Wright, author of "Is Your Cat Crazy?" to help design the game.

WOLF: He really helped us understand, you know, feline optical tracking.

MOOS: Yeah, but what about human optical tracking? Allison Powers' cat also likes to optically track tennis on TV, particularly Wimbledon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's literally watching the game.

MOOS: Bob is a kitty. Several adult cats we tested Cyber Pounce on resisted cybercoaxing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at the birdie.

MOOS: The software sells for $15 at

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Try not to chew the computer, Bob.

MOOS: Cyber Pounce automatically locks the keys so even if Bob decides to download himself, he won't delete anything. Which brings us to another entrepreneur's software called "PawSense." When it detects cat-like typing, it blocks the keys.

Various noises are supposed to scare the cat off the keyboard.

Matt Wolf's next big idea is a device to teach your bird to talk, recording your own voice.

WOLF: It will play all day long in front of the bird.

MOOS: By the time you come home, maybe your parrot will be able to say more than just "shut up." UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now this...



MOOS: In the meantime, if your cat likes your lap, maybe it will like your laptop.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


HAYNES: Lots to cover in "Worldview" today. Our travels will take us from Kenya to Kyrgyzstan with a trip on the Internet as well. Do you spend too much time on the Internet? We'll check out the e- habits of some teenagers like you. And we'll visit some young people in Russia who are speaking up and speaking out. We go to Kenya where an old war gets a new look.

Also from Africa today, race relations. Starting today, government leaders from around the world are meeting at a U.N. conference in South Africa to discuss race relations. One non- governmental group attending from the United States met in Atlanta recently for a cultural exchange and send-off party.


KRISTIN PARKER, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): It is a celebration of diversity and differences, a time for human rights organizations like these to charge up their excitement in the send-off party to combat racism.

DIONNE VANN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION: It's important that we all get together tonight like this and just really go there, you know, knowing that we have experienced a lot of cultures even before we go, you know, and how important it is that that's exactly what this whole conference is all about.

PARKER: The groups here head to Durban, South Africa to discuss ways they can address racism and discrimination.



MANGALA SHARMA, REFUGEE WOMEN'S NETWORK: We feel that racism is a very big issue in this modern world, be it in America, in Africa, India, (INAUDIBLE) And we feel like this -- we have a hope that this conference definitely will be an action-oriented -- action-oriented conference.

LORETTA ROSS, NATIONAL CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION: I'd like the conference to come out with a plan of action and a declaration of action that contains some commitments that actual governments are going to implement once the conference is over because the conference is going to last for a couple of weeks and then the real work begins once we come back home.

PARKER: But for now, it is the last hurrah for these non- governmental groups before they leave for Africa. They are networking, educating and teaching each other their different cultural uniquenesses because when they see each other again, it will be all business.

VANN: We hope to come up with some new strategies, some new language, some new ways to incorporate the intolerance, the racism into human rights.

PARKER (on camera): The last world conference was held in Geneva in 1983 when apartheid was the heated debate. Pressure from an informed public help eradicate apartheid in 1994. Organizers expect that this year's U.N. conference and the preceding non-government forum will also stimulate commitments for further change.

Kristin Parker, CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: A movie being filmed in Kenya is drawing worldwide attention. Several well-known actors have traveled to Kenya to take part in the $7 million feature film about Jewish refugees in Africa. The movie is based on a true story and a best selling book titled "Nowhere in Africa." It looks at the plight of German Jewish refugees and the conflict at the center of World War II.

It's been more than 60 years since Germany invaded Poland and Britain and France declared war on Germany but the images of the war and the tales of Jewish people being herded into Nazi concentration camps live on. Millions of people died during this period. Many people who survived did so because they sought refuge.

Catherine Bond gives us a preview of the movie about a family who did just that.


CATHERINE BOND, NAIROBI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Yettle Redlick (ph), a German/Jewish refugee arriving with her daughter Regina (ph). The year is 1938. Their destination, Nairobi, Kenya. And this is a movie still in the making.

(on camera): This film is based on fact. In the 1930s refugees didn't flee from Africa but to it and was for white, many Jewish seeking refuge from persecution in Europe.

(voice-over): The true story, adapted from a German bestseller, "Nowhere in Africa" portrays a woman joining her husband in a land unfamiliar to both.

CAROLINE LINK, DIRECTOR: So my movie is about a marriage, about difficult times they have together through the circumstances, through the fact that they have been kicked out of Germany and they had to leave the country, their home. They lost everything they ever had. BOND: Before the Second World War, the then British colony of Kenya took in several hundred Jewish refugees from Russia, Germany, Hungary, and Poland. In the movie, isolated on a farm, unable to speak English, it's the Redlick family's Kenyan servant who shapes their contact with the outside world.

SIDEDE ONYULO, ACTOR: I've done character parts, but they've been like paper thin. As a Masai warrior without content. But Luwarisout is a full human being in the story as far as I read it.

BOND: Those involved hoped "Nowhere in Africa" may help put Kenya back on moviemakers maps, instead of losing out to South Africa, where many stories have been relocated.

ANDREW NIGHTINGALE, RESEARCHER: I think where production companies may have been a bit iffy about coming out here, this film's success will definitely give them the confidence to come forward faster.

BOND: This was day 51 of the 55 day shoot. Though marked by rain and robbery, the crew said on the whole, their experience of filming in Kenya was positive.

PETER HERRMAN, PRODUCER: I think we did our film in Kenya very well from the point of organizing and everything. And the Kenyan film industry, which is a small industry, but it's a nucleus of an industry. And there's very good people.

BOND: Director Caroline Link won an Oscar nomination for her first movie, shot like this in German. Post-production work on this, her third, is due to be completed by the fall.

Catherine Bond, CNN, Nairobi.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: There's no doubt about it, the Internet is here to stay and it's becoming more and more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, especially the lives of young people. In a recent consumer survey, the Media Metrics Group found, to no one's surprise, that U.S. teens are extremely active online. Most of them use computers to send e-mail. A high percentage of teens also use the Web to do their homework or visit music sites and chat online. All this activity has some parents wondering if their kids might be overloading online.

Anne McDermott has more.


ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Back in the olden days, the battle cry among parents was, turn off the TV. Now, more and more parents are wondering if they should be carping about computers as well.

Yes, kids love computers, but it's not all fun and games. Sixteen-year-old Octavia starts her homework the old-fashioned way, then winds up taking some notes from the net.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you need to know is on the computer.

MCDERMOTT: Some experts use words like "empowering" to describe kids and computers.

PROF. JAMES BENIGER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: I think it's a great time to be a kid.

MCDERMOTT: This sociologist says he'd much rather see kids work on computers than loll in front of TVs.

BENIGER: Making decisions, making choices, foregoing some things that are interesting in order to appreciate others, that sort of thing. I think those are important things to learn. I think those are the sorts of things that all parents try to teach their children.

MCDERMOTT: But what about the dark side of the Web? Well, according to a study on kids and the media done a year ago, most kids spend most of their time focusing on games and homework. And for 11- year-old India, an occasional detour to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Nickelodeon. I'm a kid so I go to like Nickelodeon. I don't go to the chat rooms and stuff.

MCDERMOTT: She does spend at least an hour-and-a-half a day on the computer, which is about average, but that's too much for some parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is where the kids need to be.

MCDERMOTT: Outside in the fresh air. Yes, just like they used to say back in the olden days. But given the choice between computers and friends, India says...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would choose to go out with my friends.

MCDERMOTT: Or maybe watch TV with them. An estimated one-third of all kids watch at least three hours a day. So even in the age of Internet, parents still sound that same old alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they watch too much TV.

MCDERMOTT: Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.


MCMANUS: Do you know where to find the country known as Kyrgyzstan, it's in central Asia. The mountainous country gained its independence in 1991. Before that, it was part of the Soviet Union. Agriculture is important to Kyrgyzstan's economy. Raising livestock is also important. People raise sheep, cattle, goats and even yaks. Sherpa (ph) or mutton is a traditional food. And both songs and dancing are a big part of the country's culture. Children aged 7 to 17 are required to go to school.

Student Bureau reporter Marina Kim has more on the young people of Kyrgyzstan.


MARINA KIM, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): The right to take participation in and to express one's own opinion refers to the basis principles of the convention, but widely it's left just on a piece of paper like many others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our school has kept old authoritarian style. Teachers invoke their opinion, which makes it impossible for children to express their point of view. When I express my own opinion, I get lower marks if I do not comply with generally accepted opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It so happens now that we can't express our own opinion as our parents impose, should I say, their own old traditional opinion, while we live in a new century and new generation have opinion of its own which we have to keep to ourselves due to traditions.

KIM: But teenagers want to change the present situation in their country. It is becoming reality. One of such examples is Children's Media Center. It is unique because children realize their rights through the youth mass media like TV, radio and magazines. Children's Media Center publishes its (UNINTELLIGIBLE) magazine according its principle children for children. And Children express their opinion in this magazine.

RAIVA TOYGONBAEVA, UNICEF (through translator): I know you are the first to publish such a magazine for teenagers written and edited by children in Kyrgyzstan. You already making reports on the convention on the rights of the child. We like your activities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When I came to this organization I have discovered some new qualities in myself I never knew about before. I have found good opportunity to express myself. I now find it easier to communicate with people. I've got lots of new friends and now my job is to help children to learn their right to enable them to solve their problems on their own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What brought me here is a desire to find a place where children can express themselves and learn of their rights. For example, I have been to many other organizations but they were dormant, as the children would mainly listen to adults and were not able to do anything on their own. I didn't like it and kept looking. Eventually I found fellows who shared my opinion here.

KIM (on camera): Having learned of their own rights, members of Children's Media Center spread information among the youth. Thanks to this kind of organization, children of Kyrgyzstan began to learn about their rights and strive towards realization.

Marina Kim, CNN Student Bureau, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.


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: A big controversy we told you about yesterday spins out of the Little League World Series. Some say a pitcher for the New York team that came in third place is 14 years old rather than 12. Well, if that's the case, the team could be stripped of its title.

Jason Carroll has the latest.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is he too old to play ball or isn't he? The discrepancy over the age of Little League sensation Danny Almonte will be settled not by his parents or game officials but by a government committee in the Dominican Republic, Almonte's home country. That committee has been investigating his background and Little League officials released a statement saying "Little League Baseball will accept the decision of the government of the Dominican Republic regarding the correct date of birth for Danny Almonte."

Almonte first gained notoriety after his spectacular no-hitter performance during the Little League World Series for his team the Rolando Paulino All-Stars. Accolades soon turned to accusations about his age. A "Sports Illustrated" reporter found a birth record indicating Danny Almonte was 14, not 12, the legal age limit to play Little League ball. Almonte's parents had given league organizers Danny's passport and a birth certificate both showing he's 12 and they're tired of all the accusations.

SONIA ROJAS BRETON, DANNY'S MOTHER (through translator): It's very possible that they are confusing him with his older brother, and he's 12. And I'm his mother and me better than anyone knows how old he is.

CARROLL: Danny's age isn't his only problem, he hasn't been going to school in the year and a half he's been in the U.S. The New York City Board of Education says "Our records show he is not enrolled in our schools, and we have called the Administration for Children's Services to look into this matter."

Despite the controversy, Danny's team, nicknamed the Bronx Baby Bombers, was honored at Yankee Stadium and Bronx fans paid tribute with a parade. But the team's third place title might not last long.

(on camera): If it's decided Danny was too old to play ball, league officials could strip the team of its title and its charter.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


HAYNES: Controversy in the Little League.

That is CNN NEWSROOM for Friday.

Listen, we have Monday off for the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. so we will see you back here on Tuesday. Have a great weekend.

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