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NEWSROOM for September 6, 2001

Aired September 6, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: On tap for Thursday, September 6, heading things up, the stem cell science debate on Capitol Hill. Next, we'll have some safety tips to get you road ready and we'll also take a dip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love everything. It's a lot of hard work. When most people complain, but I complain, too, but I love it.


WALCOTT: The wide world of animals is our focus in "Worldview." Check out creatures on land and sea. Finally, a "Chronicle" civics lesson on the history of the state dinner.

And welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

On Wednesday, we told you about Mexican President Vicente Fox's United States visit. Well, we'll tell you how that's going coming up.

For now, our "Top Story" is being played out on Capitol Hill and a few science labs around the globe. The U.S. Senate is reviewing a plan announced last month by President Bush. It allows limited federal funding for stem cell research. Critics question the number of cell lines that meet Mr. Bush's research guidelines. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said although less than half of the lines approved for funding are ready for research, there will be more.


TOMMY THOMPSON, HEATH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: It's when you have actually the completed embryonic stem cell line. There are only approximately 24 or 25 available today, but they -- the other thirty-some lines are going to continue to grow and proliferate and differentiate to the extent that they will be available to be an embryonic stem cell line in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: Researchers say stem cell research could lead to dramatic medical advances, but opponents say destroying human embryos is unethical.

Elizabeth Cohen takes us to a stem cell lab for details.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): There are only 10 labs in the entire world that have human embryonic stem cells suitable for federal funding and CNN has received exclusive access to one of them.

I'm at a lab called BresaGen in Athens, Georgia, where they've made human embryonic stem cells and here they are frozen in this cryogenic tank. There are thousands of stem cells in this tank.

Now you might be wondering what exactly is all the excitement about human embryonic stem cells. Well theoretically, scientists should be able to take these stem cells, which essentially are blank, and if they culture them correctly, they may be able to make them into any type of tissue or cell in the human body. The reason why that's exciting is imagine if you could make, for example, blood cells from embryonic stem cells, which some researchers have done, then someone with a blood disorder might in the future might be able to receive those cells to treat their disorder.

But there are, however, several hurdles that need to be overcome. For example, some people are worried about the condition of these stem cells lines. There are 64 all over the world. They're concerned that some of them might not actually be in the right condition for research. There are also some legal hurdles that need to be overcome.

Let's hear from a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has those concerns.

DR. DOUGLAS KERR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think the reality will show that of those 64 lines, very, very few of them will be appropriately investigated for one reason or another. Some on the basis of their biological properties in that they are not appropriate for further analysis, some on the basis of technology transfer agreements and patent rights and things like that. And so I think that you whittle down a number of 64 down to a number clearly less than 10 and I think that will probably be the case. And if that's the case, it is pretty close to not doing research at all.

COHEN: So those are just some of the legal and biological concerns that need to be worked out before stem cells can go from the lab to being a true medical treatment.


WALCOTT: For more information on stem cells and how they work, head to our Web site,, for an interactive explanation.

And shifting gears now, some news from the world of animal cloning. Scientists at Texas A&M University say they have cloned a group of animals, including cattle, goats and pigs. They're still trying to clone a dog. Scientists say there were some abnormalities among the animals and that it's still too early for anyone to think about cloning human beings.

Well Mexican President Vicente Fox has kicked off a state visit in Washington and he presents an unexpected challenge to the Bush administration. As President Bush welcomed Mr. Fox, the Mexican leader called for an agreement on a controversial issue affecting both nations, that's Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally.

John King has more on that and the rest of the day's events.


KING (voice-over): The symbolism was obvious, a new spirit of cooperation -- the day's overriding theme.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A Mexican proverb tells us (speaking in Spanish): He who has a good neighbor has a good friend. Today, both our countries are committed to being good neighbors and good friends. Friends deal in good faith and disagree with respect. Friends stick together in good times and in bad.

KING: So the first state visit of the Bush presidency was reserved for President Vicente Fox, and he too called cooperation on difficult issues like immigration and drug trafficking unprecedented. But for all the pageantry, there was no hiding the disappointment that the two presidents had failed to reach a major immigration agreement in time for this meeting. Mr. Fox wants rules for a new guest worker program, and for the United States to grant legal status to the three million or more undocumented Mexicans already in the United States.

VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): Both our countries owe them a great deal. For this reason, we must and we can reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year.

KING: But that could prove wishful thinking. Many in Congress oppose rewarding workers who entered the United States illegally. And this joint meeting of the presidents and top Cabinet officials was part of the continuing White House search for some middle ground.

RIORDAN ROETT, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Whether we want a worker agreement or we want a green card agreement, we want to legalize illegal people, it has a lot of implications, both judicial as well as social. So I think that they're moving very slowly.

KING: Much is made of how much these two leaders are alike: former governors, free traders, plain-spoken types who prefer the ranch to the ornate china and other formal trappings of a state dinner.

KING (on camera): But as they toast their friendship in search for agreement on immigration and other issues, there are some shared traits these first-year presidents would prefer not to have, both are dealing with struggling economies and both face significant political opposition in their legislatures.

John King, CNN, The White House.


WALCOTT: Well, coming up in "Chronicle," what does one president serve another for dinner? We'll take a look as we examine the making of a state dinner.

Traction is an important factor in tire performance. It keeps the rubber to the road, so to speak. Tire traction can affect tire pressure, something drivers should check regularly, but many, including me, don't. The government says 71 percent of drivers check their tire pressure less than once a month. Now that could be dangerous, even fatal, but help may be on the way.

Patty Davis has that.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're one of the most neglected parts of your car but experts say your tires are crucial for your safety and soon the government will require this, a tire pressure warning system on all cars, light trucks and buses made after November 2003.

MANTILL WILLIAMS, AAA SPOKESMAN: If your tires are not well maintained, not properly inflated and you don't care for them, you will lose traction, you could lose control of your vehicle so you could get into an accident.

DAVIS: Federal safety officials estimate as many as 79 deaths and 10,000 injuries could be prevented each year if all vehicles had tire pressure monitors. The new law passed last year comes on the heels of deadly Ford Explorer rollovers. The government says underinflated Firestone tires may have been a factor. Ford says that 2002 model Explorer will be its first sport utility vehicle to get pressure monitors. General motors already includes pressure sensors on 14 models.

STEVE GEHRING, GENERAL MOTORS SPOKESMAN: If you're in a situation where you are losing tire pressure or one of your tires is low, you're going to get that before the next time you check it and that's what's important, that's what the difference is here.

DAVIS: The government will require one of these two proposed systems, either a direct sensor system in each tire which warns when pressure falls 20 percent or more or the cheaper alternative which measures how fast the wheels turn. An underinflated tire rotates faster.

(on camera): If your car or truck doesn't have a tire pressure monitor, you can have one installed. One system costs about $250 or you could do it the old-fashioned way with one of these, a gauge to check the tire pressure until you own a vehicle that can do it for you. Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: Off the road now and into the water. Synchronized swimming combines precision and timing with the art and athleticism of ballet. It also employees buoyancy. That's the tendency, of a body to float when submerged in a fluid. Got that? Well, these synchronized swimmers do.

Simon Omlas (ph) makes the introductions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like the start of our routine.

TUESDAY MIDDAUGH, OLYMPIC SWIMMER: As soon as I saw synchronized swimming, I fell in love with it instantly. I love the fact that we are so athletic and yet so artistic in a combination of one sport.

AMY O'DONNELL, SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING COACH: About half of the routine they're actually doing the rotary kick and then the rest is upside down in different positions. Rotary kick is a combination of circles like each leg is making an individual circle. It allows you to hold one or both arms out of the water. And when you do it well, you can -- it gives the impression that you're standing on the bottom of the pool.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's where you open your legs and close your legs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to be able to hold your breath a long time. You have to be able to use your arms and use your legs so it's much harder. And you have to be able to count and you have to have a good memory, because if you forget the routines, then it just doesn't work.

O'DONNELL: Most of the campers that we see, they have a strong desire to be better, to be a better athlete. The girls that we have at camp have been doing synchronized swimming for one or two years. And so they have to have a desire to swim a difficult routine but they need to be able to enjoy the dance aspect and the creative aspect but they also have to be a tremendous athlete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the anxiety is going with the team in the competitions. Everything you do is part of a team, and if we all work together, then it's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It teaches you to get along better with people because you have to be with them over and over again. And if you don't get along with them, then it doesn't work.

O'DONNELL: We hope that it can grow in the collegiate realm so that we can send more of these young women off of high school and into a scholarship situation as well as just grow the sport nationally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would definitely be my ultimate goal to swim in college at a program similar to this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love everything. It's a lot of hard work. When most people complain, but I complain, too, but I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked easy if you -- when you were outside of the water, but once you do it, it's not as easy as it looks and it's fun.


WALCOTT: "Worldview" heads to the wild kingdom. We'll go to the depths of the ocean to study dolphins, plus check out a Chinese program to help the mammals increase in number. And we'll journey to the United States for a wild horse roundup. Hold on to your hats as we hit the trail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Throughout the American West and Southwest there are reminders of the region's Spanish heritage. After all, the Spanish were the first Europeans to explore then settle these regions as early as the 16th century. Places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas are, of course, all Spanish names. New Mexico, too, has reminders of its Spanish heritage, not just in the names like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, but in its wildlife as well.


Bruce Burkhardt takes a look at a unique project there designed to track down wild horses with some historic bloodlines.


CARLOS LOPOPOLO, NEW MEXICAN HORSE PROJECT: This is what we work for. This is what we busted our butt for -- for all the roundups and all the heartaches and disappointments and all the good times, all of the disappointments. And this is it, the first time it's happening.

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are not just any wild horses. They are the closest thing we have to a native American horse, a horse upon which a country was built.

LOPOPOLO: In the beginning, I believed they were extinct. A friend brought me -- I mean, a guy brought me this picture. And he sat there and he said, "These horses are believed to be Spanish horses."

And I basically told him: That's interesting.

And that's a diplomatic way of saying: Don't bother me.

BURKHARDT: But Carlos Lopopolo, a Southwestern historian from Albuquerque, started doing a little bit of research and discovered just how possible it could be for small bands of horses to survive by themselves over the centuries in these wide-open spaces, having relatively little contact with humans or other breeds of horses. In the late 1500s, when Don Juan de Onate established the first European settlement in the Southwest, he brought with him some 900 horses from Spain. Thanks to the Spaniards' meticulous record-keeping and Carlos' exhaustive research, many of those horses and their eventual whereabouts have been accounted for.

LOPOPOLO: It's like, these are maps. And it's showing where the settlements were. This tells you where the horses were. This will tell you where the people lived.

BURKHARDT: Part historian and part salesman, Carlos has done all this on a shoestring, recruiting volunteers for what he dubbed the New Mexican Horse Product.

LOPOPOLO: These horses are national monuments. And the thing of it is, is the only thing we have seen with them in the past is -- they weren't good for anything except dog meat or to be a steak on somebody's plate.

BURKHARDT: To find his horses, the ones with the right bloodline, Carlos strikes deals with rangers and pueblos to round up wild horses so that blood samples can be taken for DNA analysis. The plan is to take several of the horses that meet the purity test and set them free on the preserve to live and multiply.

(on camera): For the DNA links to those original Spanish horses, Carlos has worked closely with a Doctor Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky, a top expert on equine DNA. He has collected close to 100,000 samples. And he's concluded that Carlos's horses are indeed direct descendants of those very first horses on the continent. And they're hoping that archaeological digs like this one will yield even more evidence.

(voice-over): It's been a journey with some emotional curves. On this day, Carlos and project members showed up at Laguna pueblo, west of Albuquerque, to take away some horses that had been rounded up six weeks earlier. What they saw stunned them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They look like they have been starved.

BURKHARDT: Danny Manuelito (ph), pueblo official in charge of the horses, claimed that they were sick.

LOPOPOLO: They look like they are near death. Have they have been fed?


LOPOPOLO: Why do they look so bad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just got sick on us. That's -- they caught -- I don't know what they got. But we doctored them up. We gave them shots.

BURKHARDT: Carlos wasn't buying it. He had a larger goal: to try and rescue some of the weaker horses in hopes that they could be nursed back to health.

LOPOPOLO: The pueblo, as a rule, has been working with us and been maintaining the horses and everything else.

BURKHARDT: But what is typical, according to Carlos, is an attitude throughout the West that these are nuisance animals who chew up pasture land, an attitude that has nearly led to their extinction.

LOPOPOLO: They were out here by the thousands. And now they are out here by the tens, and in some places by the ones. And -- but that is going to change.

BURKHARDT: A change that, for Carlos, started here: his very first release onto a preserve of horses descended from the Spanish originals -- and on that very same evening in the painted New Mexico sky: what appeared to be to be a sign of approval.

In northern New Mexico, Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Dolphins are some of the most beloved creatures on earth. Maybe that's because they're so intelligent or because they always seem to be laughing and having a good time. But times have not always been so good for these seemingly happy-go-lucky mammals. Over the years, millions have drown in nets designed to catch cod, salmon and other kinds of fish, especially tuna. Thanks to government laws and company policies, life as a dolphin is much safer today then say 30 years ago. Life for dolphins in captivity is looking up too, thanks to some remarkable high-tech breeding technology.

Mike Chinoy has the story.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These baby dolphins, frisking with their mothers in Hong Kong's Ocean Park Aquarium, owe their existence as much to science as to nature. They were artificially conceived, the first time that's happened anywhere in the world; a scientific breakthrough that could help protect a much-loved creature.

FIONA BROOK, HK POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY: They're a very appealing animal. They're intelligent, they're strong, they're supremely well- designed for the habitat that they live in. They give us a great deal, I think. And they can teach us; they can teach us so much.

CHINOY (on camera): Dolphins reproduce easily in captivity, but with a limited number in places like this, there's long been a danger of inbreeding and genetically weaker offspring. Until now, the only solution has been to transport dolphins for mating from other aquariums, an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous process, or else capture new ones in the wild.

(voice-over): But scientist Fiona Brook at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has changed all that. After years of research, she pioneered a new technique, using ultrasound to accurately predict ovulation in dolphins, making artificial insemination possible.

SUZANNE GENDRON, OCEAN PARK ZOO DIRECTOR: This breakthrough is very important, because what it allows us to do is have a global gene pool for our animals, so we'll be able to take semen from another facility, from other countries and bring it to expand our gene pool, and use our males' semen in other countries. So that will keep the population viable and strong for many, many years to come.

CHINOY: But using ultrasound on dolphins is no simple task, requiring long hours to create a bond between dolphin and humans so the treatment can be carried out. Even then, it isn't easy.

BROOK: The main challenge was being able to actually see the ovaries in these animals. Some of them are quite big. Even these smaller dunkers (ph) are 120 to 180 kilograms. You know, that's a big patient to look at. So a lot of practice before, you know, we realized what we were looking at and what we were seeing.

CHINOY: In late May this year, all the hard work paid off: Two calves, one male, one female, were born to separate mothers. Everyone is doing well.

GENDRON: Look at them! They're marvelously normal and healthy. They're very, very, very good. They've nursed within hours after they were born. Their births were uncomplicated. And they've been growing and playing really well.

CHINOY: These two were conceived using fresh sperm. The next step, using frozen semen to make Angel here pregnant. If that works, and scientists are confident it will, the stage will be set for easy breeding of dolphins in captivity anywhere in the world.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Hong Kong.


WALCOTT: Mexican President Fox's visit to the U.S. presented the White House chef with quite a challenge, preparing the first state dinner of the Bush presidency. Entrees of bison crusted with pumpkin seeds topped the menu. I prefer chicken.

Letitia Baldridge was Jackie Kennedy's social secretary. She, therefore, planned dozens of state dinners.

Kim Abbott (ph) spoke with her and shared some of her secrets behind these great galas.


KIM ABBOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Most people will never have the chance to go to one of these state dinners. Take us inside the White House on the night of one of these galas and describe what we would experience. LETITIA BALDRIDGE, JACKIE KENNEDY'S SOCIAL SECRETARY: Well, you'd be awestruck. Everyone is awestruck. No matter how many years they've been in Washington or how many high posts they've held, to come into that house -- that magnificent historical house with great marble walls and great chandeliers and gold torches, it's just an incredible place.

And you go into the East Room and you're handed a cocktail and you make social conversation with everyone. You talk to whoever is around you. When the president and the first lady appear, there are ruffles and flourishes, there's an honor guard, the color guard, military. It's just incredible. It's such a show. And the receiving line is formed and people pass through it. And the social aides and the social secretary are standing there to say, hey, hurry up, hurry up. People want to talk to the president and first lady but there isn't time so they push them along and they finally get into the dinning room.

The toasts are made in both languages. The head of state of Mexico -- well, the president first speaks and greets the president of Mexico and he returns the toast. And when that's over, then everybody can really get on with their beautiful dinner and it's a night of magic.

ABBOTT: What kind of planning goes into an event like this? I've heard that it's timed to the minute so how do you plan something on that scale?

BALDRIDGE: It's timed to the minute. Well, you make -- you write a scenario. The social secretary usually does that. What time the head of state is fetched across the street at Blair House and brought over in a car and the American president and first lady are waiting for them and take them up to the private quarters. And in the Kennedy years, it used to be great because we had little children, Caroline and John, who would come into the Oval Room upstairs in their pajamas and always enchanted the head of states. It's a great way to start off a state dinner with little children.

Then down the stairs they would all -- the four heads of states and their first ladies would come down the stairs and pose for the press, photo op. Everything is protocol and has been that way for years and it works.

ABBOTT: Who is invited to these events? How do you get on the guest list?

BALDRIDGE: It's a precious invitation. People lobby like mad for it. All of the old Washington society feels they should be invited because they used to be in the times of George Washington and James Madison and so forth, but there's no room for them.

The official party coming from another country, there are usually about 30 or 40 who come and only about 11 or 12 are allowed to come to the state dinner. So the rest of the official party has to be entertained elsewhere, but the 11 or 12 who come feel very honored. Then there are the top cabinet people and all the cabinet officers feel they should be invited because they do business with Mexico, for example, they have art dealings. So the minister of the interior, the minister of state, everybody -- everybody feels they have a right to be there.

Always have to have a couple of glamorous people, a couple of movie stars. You know they haven't had a rock band yet but they will. And it's -- it reflects America today so who's invited today is very different from who was invited back in the Kennedy years.

ABBOTT: Tell me a little bit about the historical significance to these events. Other than being a glamorous event, why is it such a hot ticket? Why is it so important to both countries?

BALDRIDGE: Because everyone wants to know what they're doing in the big house. What's going on in the White House? What are they eating? What are they serving? So when there's a state dinner, that's supposed to be the top of the top with beautiful people doing beautiful things. And if anyone goes in there badly dressed or acts up, I mean that becomes front page publicity. It's supposed to be perfect.

ABBOTT: Who did the Kennedy's first host? What was the first state dinner?

BALDRIDGE: Well, their first state dinner was a small country, but we were practicing, and also this small country was very important militarily, at the moment, Tunisia. President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, and of course the Arab world was delighted that the first state visitor was an Arab. That was really great.

ABBOTT: President Clinton hosted the emperor and empress of Japan for his...


ABBOTT: ... first state dinner, and of course President Bush is hosting Vicente Fox and his wife. What's the protocol in choosing who will be the first honoree at a state dinner?

BALDRIDGE: It's who is the most important politically, economically and psychologically. It's really decided who would we make the best effect upon to bring their head of state over and who is important to us militarily and trade wise, all of those factors.


WALCOTT: And before we go, a quick programming note. This morning's CNN will have an exclusive tour aboard the International Space Station. Commander Frank Culbertson will be your tour guide as CNN's Miles O'Brien asks questions taken from your e-mails so be sure to tune in.

And that wraps up today's show. I'll see you back here tomorrow.




4:30pm ET, 4/16

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