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U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Have Robotic Point Man; Turning Vinyl Records Into MP-3s; English Sparrows Disappear in London

Aired August 10, 2002 - 13:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Today on NEXT@CNN -- U.S. troops in Afghanistan test a robotic point man that goes into dangerous places so people don't have to.
Also from vinyl to digital -- turning those beloved old records into MP-3s.

And the tough little English sparrow isn't tough enough for modern life in London. Find out why the sparrows are disappearing and what's taking their place.

All that and more on NEXT.

MILES O'BRIEN, HOST: Hello and welcome to NEXT@CNN. This week from Atlanta's Cytrack Science Museum (ph). I'm Miles O'Brien. James Hattori is on assignment.

The war against terrorism grinds on in Afghanistan with U.S. forces searching through dangerous terrain for Al Qaeda hold-outs. One of the searchers is a new recruit -- powered by batteries instead of military rations.

Our Nic Robertson has the story.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Past waiting troops, a new ally in the battle against al Qaeda speeds forward. PAC-BOT (ph), the U.S. Army's first battlefield robot checks the trail ahead and sends back pictures.

CPL. ROBERT MERRITT, 82nd AIRBORNE: They have -- they have built a wall. It's going straight and we're about here. They have built a wall. It's a brick wall that it since has knocked down.

ROBERTSON: Minutes later there's the wall and no one is put at risk in the dangerous cave to find it.

MERRITT: I don't even have to be anywhere near the cave. Looking through this eyepiece I can see exactly what -- I can switch cameras so I can see what I need to see.

ROBERTSON: Clearing caves and checking buildings -- the main mission for the Army's newest recruit to the ranks. And while its battery packs leave it sometimes lacking the stamina of more able bodied combatants, PAC-BOT (ph) has been winning friends.

LT. COL. RON ROSE, 82nd AIRBORNE: Absolutely great. It's going to prove its worth I think. We used it in cave exploration and I think there's quite other -- quite a number of ways we can use that.

ROBERTSON: Speeding those developments back at Bagram Airbase, technicians, soldiers and scientists mix in an unconventional military approach to getting the job done.

COL. BRUCE JETTE, DIRECTOR, ROBOTICS TEAM: The idea here was be quick. This whole process from beginning to end is 90 days.

ROBERTSON: Also radicalizing traditionally slow and expensive military development, the $45,000 PAC-BOT's (ph) components are mostly commercially available.

MAJ. JOHN MATLOCK, ROBOTICS TEAM: The way the commercial off of the shelf products they're developing now you really can't take that long because once you get to certain -- once you get to a certain level the industry has bypassed you.

ROBERTSON: Ongoing projects with the two prototypes include fitting PAC-BOT (ph) with guns, grenades, chemical agent testing and more cameras.

While no one here expects this new high tech point man to replace combat troops anytime soon, it seems the hunt for Al Qaeda is giving this new generation of warrior an opportunity to get its feet or tracks on the battlefield.

The question is -- will the name PAC-BOT (ph) catch on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This ones name is -- is this Fester?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No -- it's Hermie.


ROBERTSON: Well, it is tough when they all look alike. Luckily so far none have feelings.


O'BRIEN: An important piece of Naval history is back on dry land this week after spending 140 years on the ocean floor. On Monday the turret from the USS Monitor was raised from its watery grave off the outer banks of North Carolina.

The remains of two sailors were found in the turret.

The ship sank in a storm in 1862. It featured the world's first revolving gun turret, credited with changing Naval warfare. The Monitor fought only battle against the Confederate ship Virginia. The fight between the two iron-clad ships ended in a draw but marked the end of the era of wooden warships.

The Monitor's turret will be preserved in a museum along with other artifacts from the ship.

NASA's Stardust Spacecraft was living up to its name this week. On Tuesday the probe began collecting tiny particles of the cosmic dust that blows through our solar system.

Stardust is on its way to a rendezvous with a comet in 2004. As it travels through the dust stream it uses a collector shaped like a tennis racket to gather the microscopic dust grains. When the dust samples return to earth in 2006 scientists will analyze them for clues to how comets and stardust may have brought the building blocks of life to earth.

Scientists have wondered for years just how climate might be affected by contrails -- those white vapor trails left by jets high in the sky. It was hard to determine because there was never a day without any air traffic until, that is, September 11, 2001.

After the terrorist attacks commercial planes in the U.S. were grounded for three days. Researchers compared temperatures on those three days to other years and found a small yet significant difference. The range of temperature change was larger when there were no contrails.

Scientists think the contrails add to the insulating effects of Cirrus clouds. The findings were published in the journal "Nature."

We're nearing the halfway point in this year's Atlantic hurricane season and so far it's been a very quiet one. Scientists from NOAA believe it may have something to do with the El Nino weather phenomenon.

John Zarrella has our story.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Andrew, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, hit south Florida 10 years ago on August 24th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's just nothing left. It's just totally devastated.

ZARRELLA: Andrew struck during an El Nino year when conditions are generally not favorable for hurricane development.

Government climatologists and hurricane experts are now saying a strengthening El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is making this a weaker than normal tropical season with no more than six hurricanes. An average year produces eight.

CHRIS LANDSEA, NOAA HURRICANE RESEARCH DIV.: It cuts down the number of hurricanes by causing more vertical shear to tear apart the storms. So El Nino is a good guy for us. ZARRELLA: But numbers can be misleading. In 1992 only four hurricanes formed -- one was Andrew.

By contrast, the past two hurricane seasons were very busy. Fifteen named storms developed each year but not one hurricane hit the U.S.

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: The last time we had a hurricane hit the United States was Irene in 1999. We've gone two years now without having a hurricane to strike the mainland United States. That happened back in 1930 and '31 and then again in 1981 and '82.

We have never gone since we've been keeping good records three years in a row without having a hurricane hit.

ZARRELLA: What has forecasters terribly concerned is that while there will be down years in terms of numbers, the overall picture for the next two decades is disturbing. Nearly every factor points to a climate cycle of more storms that are more powerful and it's already begun.

MAYFIELD: I can tell you for a fact that we've had more tropical storms and more hurricanes in the last seven years than on any other seven consecutive year period on the record.

ZARRELLA: Despite the warnings and past history, forecasters say most people living along the coast still don't take evacuation orders seriously. A decade after Andrew new studies show people are no more inclined to evacuate now than they were 10 years ago.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up -- a mysterious kind of algae that makes fish die and scientists fight.

And later in the show -- could video games have prevented some of the recent corporate accounting scandals? We'll meet a man who thinks so.


O'BRIEN: A dangerous alien species of fish that turned up in a Maryland pond probably won't be there much longer. Wildlife officials plan to poison the pond to get rid of the Northern Snakeheads. The fish are fierce predators and eat practically everything in their path and can survive out of water for three days.

To keep them from spreading any farther, officials will use a one -- two punch. First, a herbicide to kill the plants in the pond, which will reduce oxygen levels to the fish, then a poison to kill any remaining fish.

Officials say water quality will return to normal within a couple of weeks. Some people call it the cell from hell and now it's at the center of some hellacious arguments among scientists. The algae named Pfiesteria has been blamed for massive fish kills. New research raises questions about just how it does its dirty work.

Ann Kellan has the story.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to forget these lesions and the hundreds of millions of fish killed in North Carolina and Maryland during the '90s. At the time scientists said Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism, was to blame -- that it released a poison into the water killing fish. Even some people working around the water suffered symptoms.

JOE LOPES, FORMER MARINE CONTRACTOR: At first I developed some sores on me. I really didn't think nothing of it. Finally it took for me to go to my own doctor and I dropped in his office.

KELLAN: Five years after the last major outbreak and scientists are still deeply divided about how Pfiesteria kills.

Two studies just released -- one in the journal "Nature" the other in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claim the Pfiesteria based study did not kill by poisoning fish but by physically attacking them.

WOLFGANG VOGELBEIN, VIRGINIA INSTITUTE OF MARINE SCIENCE: The organism has this intensive swarming response where it is attracted to the fish, actively swims towards the fish. It attaches to the skin by a little structure called a peduncle and then it actively feeds on the skin.

And in very short order it can denude a fish completely of the skin.

ROBERT GAWLEY, NEIHE CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: We set out to find the toxin and we didn't expect to conclude that there wasn't one.

KELLAN: The issue has polarized scientists.

Joann Burkholder is a pioneer of Pfiesteria research. She was among the first to gather samples of the killer Pfiesteria and culture it in her lab. She maintains it can be toxic.

JOANN BURKHOLDER, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY: These two laboratories, which unfortunately had not been trained in how to work with toxic Pfiesteria and culture it, were using benign strains. They used the wrong strains of Pfiesteria, not the toxic strains.

JOHN BERRY, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Maybe there are some unusual or very unique strains that Dr. Burkholder has access to that we don't that do produce toxins.

But you have to wonder that -- if this is really a widespread phenomenon it should be something you would see in more than one or two isolates.

VOGELBEIN: We would definitely like to look at her toxic cultures for sure.

KELLAN: At least for now these scientists are not working together to resolve their differences. The root of this could be money.

BURKHOLDER: This is an issue about funding. It's an issue about not being able to provide cultures to anyone who asks for them but only to some labs so far because of severe funding constraints from federal agencies.

KELLAN: They do agree this one-celled organism the so-called cell from hell is a killer that's been lying low lately. Whether or not scientists can control it when it re-emerges depends on understanding how it kills.


O'BRIEN: On Thursday, the National Water Keeper Alliance jumped into the Pfiesteria fray. The organization asked for an investigation into how federal research funds were granted to the scientists who say Pfiesteria does not produce a toxin.

A few weeks ago we told you about the U.S. Navy's plans to use a new kind of sonar to detect enemy submarines. The low frequency sonar produces powerful sound waves that some scientists believe could hurt whales and other marine animals.

This week a coalition of environmental groups filed suits to stop the sonar. They say it could physically harm the whales, disorient them or disrupt their migration.

Government scientists say the sonar is unlikely to harm the animals and that it will be shutdown if any marine animals get within a mile of it.

Scientists and wildlife officials met in Denver this week to talk about a mysterious illness that's infecting elk in the western U.S. and deer in Wisconsin.

To control it wildlife officials are killing animals including some that turn out to be perfectly healthy.

Jason Bellini reports on the controversy over how to fight a disease that scientists don't yet understand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are amazingly majestic creatures -- they're just beautiful. You're dealing with a very intelligent animal -- you're dealing with ...

And the people -- they're amazed at just how incredible these animals really are. JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dennis and Steph White are some of the last elk ranchers in northern Colorado. The owners of these huge and hungry creatures won't do what both state and federal authorities tell them they ought to do now -- destroy their animals.

DENNIS WHITE, ELK RANCHER: It's not going to stop us. So that's why we're still in the business. We're not going to let them slaughter those beautiful animals.

BELLINI: Killing the elk is the only way to determine whether they are infected with Chronic Wasting Disease -- a disease much like Mad Cow Disease in cattle -- that kills by destroying the animal's brain.

The Whites' believe their herd is disease free. They think authorities are over zealous in their decision to kill thousands of deer and elk even though less than one percent of elk have tested positive so far for the disease.

STEPH WHITE, ELK RANCHER: Can you justify killing that many animals -- to slaughter -- and doing nothing with this meat but burning it or taking it to the dump? Can you justify that?

LYNN CREEKMORE, USDA: Because of some of the knowledge gaps that we have, because of the insidious nature of the disease, the long incubation periods and the fact that we don't have a test that will detect the agent in a live animal -- depopulation is a management tool that unfortunately is one that's really useful right now for trying to control the spread of the disease.

DIANE MORISON: It's outrageous when they're killing so many healthy animals.

BELLINI: The Whites' are joined by many Colorado nature lovers who share their skepticism and anger.

Pretty heartbreaking it sounds like.

Diane Morison, who breaks down in tears when she talks about the deer now dead, took these photos.

BELLINI: Is this the county dump?

DIANE MORISON: Yeah -- Larimer County (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want the appearance of doing something to protect the hunters and they're doing the right thing so you won't be afraid to come here and hunt because you know that the Division of Wildlife is doing everything they can to prevent this disease from touching humans.

STEVE PORTER, COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE: Anytime you have that type of situation you're going to have people that don't agree with the exact methods that you're taking to attack it. BELLINI: Colorado's Department of Wildlife tells land owners they're not just out to protect the hunting industry, that if they don't destroy all of the animals in areas where infected ones have been found, the situation could spiral out of control.

PORTER: We're dealing with a disease right now that there's a lot of unknowns -- things that we don't even know about that we're learning now through research.

BELLINI: Already the disease has spread beyond western states to Wisconsin where authorities found 18 deer with CWD.

That state's Department of Natural Resources plans to kill 25,000 deer in response.

DENNIS WHITE: Why would America do that to their wildlife, which is given to us from God?

BELLINI: Ironically both sides ultimately fear the same result -- that there might not be elk and deer around for future generations.


O'BRIEN: In theory, flying requires wings or rotors whether it's done by a bird, an insect or an aircraft. But try telling that to the Asian paradise tree snake as it glides from tree to tree.

Researchers studies videotapes of the snakes taking off from a 30 foot tower. It turns out the snakes suck in their stomachs to make themselves as flat as possible and then wiggle to generate lift. They steer by changing the pattern of slithering.

Technically what they are doing is gliding, not true flying but it seems to get them where they want to go.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up -- is it a thin, flexible computer screen or a new kind of paper? Actually it's both. We'll show you what it can do.


O'BRIEN: Something called e-paper is designed to combine the best features of a computer display screen and a plain old piece of paper.

James Hattori shows us what it can do and what is still on the drawing board.


JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shoppers at this New Jersey department store probably didn't realize it but the children's section display was a true sign of the future -- an electronic sign on electronic paper with information updated by computer wirelessly so customers always see the latest and correct price. NICHOLAS SHERIDON, GYRICON MEDIA: These signs can be used for years over and over again. And so you don't have to print the signs up. And you've got the convenience of one person in the store being able to handle all of the signs in the store.

I was trying to develop a display that could be used in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HATTORI: Nicholas Sheridon invented e-paper 25 years ago while working for the Palo Alto Research Center formerly part of Xerox. Now Gyricon Media, a spin-off company has developed it for commercial use.

SHERIDON: We are actually looking at the edge of a sheet of electric piece of paper. You can actually see the balls moving up and down in the cavities.

HATTORI: The paper actually contains tiny plastic balls, which are about the width of a human hair between two sheets of plastic. There are hundreds of thousands of balls per square inch -- each in this case half white and half black.

Depending on the charge it either shows the white side up or the black side up?

SHERIDON: That's correct.

HATTORI: The balls pivot and form characters or shapes when an electric charge is applied.

A computer converts words and images into electric signals.

GREG SCHMITZ, PALO ALTO RESEARCH CENTER: We have our print head here. We're going to print this image and our information is going to come through here.

HATTORI: Which are imprinted on the paper as it passes over a print head. The characters remain on the paper until it's reprinted.

The printer can be produced in various sizes. It could be handheld or part of a sign phrase.

SHERIDON: This is a roll of what we call smart paper.

HATTORI: Sheridon says the cost of producing smart paper has come down to about $1 a square foot in any two colors. Full color is still years away. So is another potential use -- replacing the printed newspaper.

ERIC SHRADER, PALO ALTO RESEARCH CENTER: The notion is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you end up killing trees so we're in the actually delivery process of the paper making that electronic.

HATTORI: Gyricon is negotiating with a major department store to roll out the electronic signs chain-wide with hopes the rest of the industry will see the writing on the wall.


O'BRIEN: You probably know people who spend a lot of time in the cyber world inside their computer. But what if you could bring that cyber world out of the monitor and into the real world in 3-D?

As Kristie Lu Stout reports, researchers in Hong Kong are doing just that.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a galaxy not too far away Lucas film "Movie Magic" has inspired a new form of computer interaction.

ADRIAN CHEOK, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE: We've seamlessly merged 3-D objects into the real environment.

So basically what happens is that the digital world -- OK -- which is inside the computer comes out into the real world. We can see it on our desk or on our work place and we can move it with our hands.

STOUT: It's called Mixed Reality -- an interface that overlays digital images on those of the real world.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore are mastering the technology, building books with 3-D characters that move and talk as you turn the page.

In fact, the Malaysia Tourism Board has contracted the research team to create a brochure complete with pop up talking tour guides.

STOUT: Mixed Reality could also change the way we watch the news. Imagine a report presented not only in audio in 2-D images but in a fully immersive 3-D world.

CHEOK: With this technology you can see any viewpoint. You could put, say, George Bush on your desk -- OK -- while he's speaking live. And you can walk around the desk and see him live and in 3-D -- full three dimension. And you can feel a sense of presence -- a much more natural sense of presence of being there with George Bush.

STOUT: The research is funded by the Singapore Armed Forces, which plans to use the technology to give their soldiers an edge in the battlefield.

CHEOK: With this technology we can place (UNINTELLIGIBLE) information directly into the soldier's viewpoint. So, for example, he might look at a building, OK? And he says, "OK -- that building is so and so tower." OK? And that's his goal -- he has to raid that building.

And, for example, we can get updated information from satellites. So if you know there's a sniper in that building -- then when he looks in that building he'll see a red mark saying, "Sniper -- sniper -- beware." STOUT: An application that would surely capture the public imagine but are we ready for it?

DR. IVY LAU, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: If the person uses the technology to avoid facing problems then I can see possibilities of potential for dependence.

CHEOK: People could believe it too much and then they might get a little bit addicted to it. But I think it's the same with any new technology.

STOUT: Researchers say this is not a pipe dream. The technology should be available on a store shelf near you within the next one to two years.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up in our next half hour -- how to bring your analog music into a digital world and a scary story about sharks. They're not attacking people -- people are attacking them.

We'll have those stories and a lot more. But, first, let's take a quick break and get the latest headlines from the CNN newsroom. Don't go away.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to NEXT@CNN. If some of your favorite music only exists on vinyl records, but you'd rather listen to an PM- 3, than crank up your old turntable. We have got the solution for you. Our Natalie Pawelski talked to a consumer tech expert, Marc Saltzman, about how to get those '60s' tunes into the 21st century.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marc, a tech guru like yourself, of course, has all his tunes in digital format, but what about the rest of us who have cassettes or dare I say it, even vinyl?

MARC SALTZMAN, CONSUMER TECH EXPERT: Right, albums. Well, I too have a basement full of records and tapes that I have been meaning to back up. And that's exactly what we're going to look at today, Natalie, how do you record from analog to digital, how do you store those old beloved albums or vinyls, as you call it? You're old school, Natalie.

Vinyl and albums and tapes into digital format. And then once you do have it in digital format, there is a lot you can do. So you know, believe it or not, it is a lot easier than you think. All you need is a simple $5 Radio shack cord that goes from R.C.A. to mini.

PAWELSKI: You're kidding?

SALTZMAN: That's all you need, as long as you have a computer that can record it as well. So that's pretty much all you need, believe it or not. And it's a very simple process. PAWELSKI: Wait a minute. You show us all these incredible gadgets and you're telling me that the key piece of equipment is a $5 cord from Radio shack? OK.

SALTZMAN: Right, it's an adapter that goes from R.C.A. to mini is really key here, because what we're doing is we're going to be putting this in the back of your stereo, or turntable, or cassette desk or even 8-track, believe it or not, and then into your computer. And that's how you record from analog to digital and then store it digitally.

PAWELSKI: Sounds like something even I can do.

SALTZMAN: Very easy to do it. So why don't we first chat about what you need.

Almost every computer out there, any computer for sure that has been purchased over the past 10 years or so has what we call a sound card. Now, you don't see it like this, because it's snapped on the inside of your computer.

PAWELSKI: So you just see this part?

SALTZMAN: That's all you see, right. And this is where your speakers come out of. So when you are listening to music on your computer, chances are it's in the back of a sound card.

Now, you can see that this particular sound card, like many of them out there, has an input jack as well. And that's where you put in this, you know, mini jack into here. And that's it on that end. Then, what you need of course to do is put the R.C.A. jacks on the back of your stereo, or cassette desk or a turntable.

PAWELSKI: So the old thing can talk to the new thing?

SALTZMAN: That's right. That's right. Now, on the computer now, most people have this program already. It's a free utility that's bundled with most versions of Windows. You can go to accessories and then entertainment and then it's called sound recorder.

Now, it's a little bit limited in some ways, but it will do the trick. As you can see, it's got a familiar record button. The big red circle that we are all familiar with. So all you do is you lay down the needle. You hear the beginning of "Gimme Three Steps" from Lynyrd Skynyrd, and you press "record." And you can see that we are now recording. With those green lines moving up and down in the middle, that shows you that the sound is being recorded.

PAWELSKI: Good lord, this brings me back to grade school.

SALTZMAN: Yeah. So you press stop. Lift it up. We can do a little test first, of course. Press play. And there we go. We've got "Gimme Three Steps" from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

PAWELSKI: Are you allowed to do that? SALTZMAN: You are if it's for fair use. You can't, of course, do this for distribution or for gain, you know, for profit. But if it's for your own, for your own personal backup, there is a Fair Use Act that allows you, that protects you, the consumer, from backing up your personal music.

The reason why I wanted to bring the Nomad Jukebox 3 is that you don't need a computer in order to rip MP-3s off of a record player or a tape deck or a CD.


SALTZMAN: That's the second thing I wanted to show. If you don't have a computer or you are not very computer savvy, here is a mini-to-mini cord. We'll just turn that on. This here, as you can tell, goes into the input jack of the hard drive based player, and this can go into a radio, it can go into a CD player. And then you can record directly onto this device as well.

It has a hard drive inside, much like the hard drive on your computer. And 40 gigabites, that's probably bigger than most people's hard drives on their computer. So it can store like 16,000 songs.

PAWELSKI: Is there anything you can't do with one of these that the computer allows you to do?

SALTZMAN: Not really. The computer will probably give you more options on how you want to encode your music. I mean, attaching a record player or a cassette player to your computer might give you more options on how to record it. But as far as playback is concerned and versatility, it's pretty much the same.

PAWELSKI: So that might allow you to -- that allows you to burn a CD in a way that these wouldn't?

SALTZMAN: That's right. Your computer will need to have a CDR drive, or a CD burner in order to copy that onto a disk, whereas a Walkman doesn't have that ability to do so.

PAWELSKI: Well, Marc, I think you may have started something dangerous here. I can picture myself going through all my old tapes and seeing if I even have any records left and bringing them into the modern world.

SALTZMAN: With your bell bottoms.

PAWELSKI: Absolutely.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, the Bush administration says it's pro- environment. And its critics say it's anti-environment. Who's right? We'll do a little fact-checking for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Ten years ago, the largest gathering ever of heads of state, over 170 of them, met at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro. Later this month, as many as 100 leaders will trek to Johannesburg, South Africa for a follow-up meeting on the fate of the environment. President Bush is not expected to join them. With the U.S. a frequent target for criticism at these meetings, we thought it was time for a look at the Bush environmental record. Brooks Jackson has our "Reality Check."


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How green is President Bush?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a duty in our country to make sure our land is preserved, our air is clean, our water is pure.

JACKSON: Sounds good. But critics such as the Sierra Club say the actions don't match the talk.

DEBBIE SEASE, SIERRA CLUB: The Bush administration has established a terrible record on the environment. It is no better than you would expect, of course, from an administration made up of oil company executives.

JACKSON: So what is the record? Maybe not what you think. Remember the flap over arsenic?

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: They thought that maybe there wasn't enough arsenic in the drinking water.

JACKSON: Sounds bad. But here's what really happened. For years, the federal ceiling on arsenic has been 50 parts per billion in drinking water, and despite what Al Gore says, Bush never proposed raising that. A rule pushed through in President Clinton's last days would have cut that limit to 10 parts per billion by the year 2006. And Bush did suspend that reduction. But after a year of study, Bush set the limit at 10 parts per billion by 2006, exactly as Clinton had done. No difference.

On bigger environmental issues, Bush's record is mixed. He pushed to allow oil drilling in a part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, unsuccessfully. But off Florida's beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, Bush is moving to stop drilling plans. Bush opposed tighter fuel mileage limits on SUVs and trucks, but supports more money to research hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles for the future.

Bush rejects the global warming agreement reached under Clinton.

BUSH: The Kyoto Treaty would severely damage the United States' economy. And I don't accept that.

JACKSON: But Clinton himself refused to send the agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification, knowing it would have been killed. President Bush says economic growth comes first. BUSH: It is growth that provides the resources for investment in clean technologies.

JACKSON: He wants to get rid of detailed regulations on power plants that he calls "a confusing" and "ineffective maze," producing too many lawsuits and not enough progress. Instead, the president proposes a system of market incentives, in which plants that pollute more than the government allows would have to pay a financial penalty. He says his "clear skies" plan would cut major pollutants from power plants 70 percent by the year 2018. Critics say current law would cut pollution even more, if enforced.

SEASE: I think that the so-called "clear skies" approach would actually dirty our skies, not clean them up.

JACKSON: But some environmental groups say Bush's plan will work nationally, as a similar approach already has worked to reduce acid rain in places like New York's Adirondack region.

JOHN SHEEHAN: The bill that the president had introduced in the House and the Senate just recently is much better than a lot of people are giving it credit for being. And I think -- if it were applied nationally, that we would see most of the country with much, much cleaner air right away.

JACKSON (on camera): Congress is not likely to take up "clear skies" until next year, so President Bush's environmental record -- pro-growth, anti-regulation, market-based is still being written.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, video games with a message aimed not at teenage slackers, but at corporate executives. We'll be right back.


O'BRIEN: Playing video games probably does help develop certain skills, like hand-eye coordination. But would you look to video games for lessons in business ethics? One inventor says his video games can teach corporate big shots how to stay out of trouble. Andrew Brown has the story from Hong Kong.


ANDREW BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marc Prensky develops video games that look like the shoot-them-up titles you buy in the stores, and sound like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something is growling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are the bears.

BROWN: The same bears that have chased the bulls out of Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can go into the subway. There's a big problem. We'll get rid of it.

BROWN: Getting rid of WorldCom's problems won't be easy, or Enron's. Prensky wonders why some U.S. companies have risked their reputations. Were executives asleep in the back when they took their accounting classes?

MARC PRENSKY, GAMES2TRAIN.COM: When I hear about the things that were done, they are typically the things that they told us at business school not to do.

BROWN: Now Prensky has come up with a kind of virtual business school that recreates the world's great trading centers. New York, Hong Kong.

(on camera): And a dog there running around?

PRENSKY: That was a tiger.

BROWN (voice-over): And tests an executive's ethics. When the action stops, you have to answer true or false to questions like...

PRENSKY: As an officer, you needn't disclose to the firm any information about your outside business affiliations.

BROWN: Answer: False. The games are supposed to be realistic. Check out this one that features a meeting between a banker and a client at a ritzy hotel.

PRENSKY: This is very typical in that the clients walk on water.

BROWN: But this is more than just entertainment. Prensky sells these games to Fortune 500 companies so they can train their staff and deliver a simple message: If you break the rules, you are liable.

PRENSKY: From just a lecture, you can't see the consequences of what you do. Whereas if I put into a simulation the fact that, OK, I capitalized all my expenses, I can then go several years down the road and I can see what the implications of that are.

BROWN: A few companies are already well down that road, filing for bankruptcy, fending off investigators, and perhaps, just perhaps, realizing what they missed out on.

(on camera): If you had a game like this, five, 10 years ago, then that could have had a positive impact on corporate governance?

PRENSKY: I would like to think so.


ANNOUNCER: Still ahead -- Britain's rat population is booming. And some say it's because of the way people eat. We'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: If you think sharks are dangerous, you should hear what they say about us. Shark species are endangered around the world. And one reason is that some people like to eat shark fin soup. Gary Strieker reports on new measures to protect the sharks.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the world's largest fish. And its numbers are quickly declining. The whale shark is a gentle, slow-moving plankton feeder, easily caught by fishermen who supply the market for shark fin, to make an expensive Chinese soup. A large fin like this can now sell for $10,000 in China. And conservationists say the growing trade in shark fin has become a serious threat, not only to whale sharks, but also to other shark species almost everywhere.

PETER KNIGHTS: This is partly because of raising affluence throughout Asia, but in particular, mainland China, in the last 20 years, the growth of the middle class there and with shark fin as a very conspicuous way of showing increased affluence.

STRIEKER: In the past, many sharks were considered trash fish, without enough value to be targeted by fishermen.

KNIGHTS: What's happened now is that shark fin is so valuable that it actually becomes worth for fishermen targeting directly for sharks. So certainly, shark fin demand has been a major factor in the decline of shark populations globally.

STRIEKER: Scientists say because sharks are top predators, they play a crucial role in the health of ocean ecosystems. And new research indicates serious reductions in shark numbers could have disastrous effects on populations of major food species like tuna and sardines.

That's why the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has called on all countries to adopt action plans for shark conservation. So far, only a handful of countries have done that.

And conservationists are campaigning to ban the cruel practice of finning, where fishermen cut the fins from live sharks and then throw them back to the ocean to die.

Recently, Spain became the first European country to outlaw finning. Spanish exports of shark fins to Hong Kong are nearly 1,000 tons a year, in a global trade estimated at 7,000 tons and counting.

Experts say without effective international regulation, overfishing of sharks could cause a worldwide collapse in their populations, and possibly the extinction of many species.


O'BRIEN: The European Union this week proposed a ban on shark finning for ships from E.U. countries and in EU waters. A long-standing symbol of all that is British is in serious decline. And no, we're not talking about the monarchy, but the English sparrow. Robin Oakley reports on what's happening to the sparrows and what is taking their place.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The English sparrow isn't very high up the pecking order. Birders would dismiss it as just another LBJ, an insignificant little brown job.

But for the British, especially for Londoners, the chirpy, impudent little bird has been a symbol of their independence, as familiar a sight as the Tower of London.

The trouble is, those English sparrows you just saw were in New York. Around the Tower of London these days, you will find pigeons aplenty and lots of starlings, but not the bird which used to be the most familiar of all.

(on camera): There is a profusion of bird life in London's green spaces -- pigeons, ducks, swans. But one bird is missing these days, the common sparrow. Thirty years ago, bird enthusiasts recorded 2,000 sparrows in this park. The last time they counted, there were four.

(voice-over): Amid the exotic water fowl, finding a sparrow in London's parks has become, well, you can hardly a wild goose chase, but a nearly impossible assignment.

A British government report has now confirmed that 10 million sparrows have gone missing in 30 years, and bird lovers have a rogue's gallery of potential killers.

Suspect number one is the domestic cat. A plump sparrow may often add protein to their diet. Suspect number two -- bigger birds, like jays and magpies prey on the nests and young of smaller ones like sparrows.

New building methods have cut sparrows' nesting opportunities, and additives to lead-free fuel may be killing the bugs they need to feed their young. Sparrows may be picking up diseases from well-used bird feeders. And as plain eaters, they prefer stale crusts to the exotic nuts and seeds now widely on offer.

The bad news is that while sparrows are declining, another creature is advancing fast. There are now more rats in Britain, 60 million of them, than there are people.

SUE NELSON, KEEP BRITAIN TIDY: They're beginning to move into, you know, where people walk around, into housing, into cellars and pubs and things like that.

OAKLEY: With rats growing immune to traditional poisons and thriving on the litter of the fast food age, organizations like Keep Britain Tidy are having to mount scare campaigns to emphasize the threat. Few models could have been paid enough to take on this furry assignment.

A single pair of rats can have 2,000 babies in a year. Time perhaps for scientists to discover how to slow down the sex life of the rat and to pep up after-dinner activities for the sparrow.


O'BRIEN: Either that, or train those ferocious cats to catch the rats, instead of the sparrows.

We're about out of time. But here's a look at what's coming up next week. A study in two Chicago housing projects finds that trees provide a lot more than beauty. They also reduce crime. And a pair of speakers as portable as your MP-3 player that just might blow you away. That's coming up on NEXT.

Until then, we'd like to hear from you. You can e-mail us at And check out our Web site, at

Thanks so much for joining us this week. For all of us on the sci-tech beat, I'm Miles O'Brien. We'll see you next time.


Vinyl Records Into MP-3s; English Sparrows Disappear in London>



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