A Look at North Korea's Nuclear program; A Debate on Pesticides, Whether Spraying Really Makes a Difference During Peak West Nile Season
Aired August 24, 2003 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEXT AT CNN for this Sunday August 24. I'm Renay San Miguel. And coming up this hour: with multilateral talks set to begin Wednesday in China, we'll take a look at North Korea's nuclear program. What technology do they have and what threat does it pose?
And it's the peak West Nile season. We'll debate pesticides and whether spraying really makes a difference.
Also do these faces make you feel comfortable or give you the willies? We talk to a guy who designed a robot to look like his girlfriend.
First, though, the investigation into the space shuttle Columbia. The accident investigation board will release it's final report on Tuesday. Former NASA engineer Randy Avera is here now to talk with us about this. Thanks for being with us today.
I know that you worked on the Challenger investigation. And I know that there were different circumstances involving Challenger and Columbia. But can you talk about some of the lessons that were learned, that were applied to the investigations of Columbia? Those lessons from the Challenger disaster.
RANDAY AVERA, FRM. NASA ENGINEER: Yes, well, certainly all these years after 1996, the technologies that are available are much more enhanced. Everything from personal computers and scanners to forensic science equipment.
But fundamentally, at the end of the investigation, a report has to be put together, recomendations have to be provided. In the 1986 accident investigation, those recommendations went to President Ronald Reagan. This time it will go to the U.S. Congress.
These are recommendations that the Columbia accident investigation board will recommend for the return to flight for safe flight of the NASA space shuttle program, and also to streamline the management process that NASA uses in all of those missions for planning and execution of those missions.
SAN MIGUEL: OK. And we're not expecting anything different from what we've been, you know, hearing about over the last few months, and that is the piece of foam, the insulation on propellant tanks striking the left leading edge of the wing. The technical details we're expecting, but are you expecting anything regarding management and the culture of NASA to change things.
AVERA: Well, there are many rumors about what may be in the report. But on Tuesday of this week, I will be at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C., where from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. we will read that report to read, number one, what is in the report, how thorough is the report.
In other words, all the events and topics that have been discussed over the past many months since February the 1st of this year when Columbia crashed. Are those addressed? Are those topics addressed thoroughly? And then, certainly, what does it mean?
And about 10:10 a.m. the embargo is lifted and people will be able to see that report out on the Internet after that point.
SAN MIGUEL: I mean, I know that you're waiting to see that report, but are you expecting NASA to recommend a different way to insulate the propellant tank?
AVERA: That certainly is a technical issue that has to be addressed. The issues with the external tank and the insulation, the foam that's outside of that cryogenic thermos bottle external fuel tank, as well as the technology on the leading edge of the orbiter, the reinforced carbon-carbon, and the black tiles in that immediate area on the leading edge of the wing and under the belly of the orbiter.
What we learned over the past few months, that each launch has about 30 strikes where debris has actually impacted the orbiter. But when you have large debris -- or, it doesn't have to be large in size. It could be small in size but very dense in mass. That can create specific damage on the leading edge that could lead to catastrophic results.
The leading edge of the wing is called a criticality one item. If it fails, it's loss of vehicle, loss of life and loss of mission. A very important part of that report will certainly address the tank and the leading edge of the wing.
SAN MIGUEL: And do you think that NASA will use this as a way to find some other way to get into space besides the shuttle? Do you think they'll be looking at alternate forms of space transportation?
AVERA: Well, I've written many times that the future of NASA certainly should depend on research and development. It's a research and development agency.
And many people believe that the charter of NASA in Title 42 of the Public Health and Welfare codes needs an overall, to be consistent with, number one, the funding and the staffing and the current events and all that we've learned since 1958 when NASA was established as an agency. SAN MIGUEL: OK. Well, I know that you're looking forward to the report, and I hope that you'll check in with us so we can talk to you about what you think about the report as well.
AVERA: We'll be talking on Tuesday.
SAN MIGUEL: All right. Randy Avera. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
AVERA: You're welcome. Thank you.
SAN MIGUEL: Well, tensions over North Korea's nuclear capability will get the world's attention this world in Beijing. Diplomats from six countries will address the nuclear standoff between the United States and North Korea.
Our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel has been following the story. She joins us now -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is the second round. The last one happened in April, and they didn't go so well. So the U.S. is hoping that this round will actually get some traction.
Joining us now with a unique perspective on the conflict is James Laney, both a former ambassador to South Korea during the Clinton administration and a former missionary there.
So, as I was just saying, this is the second round. But it's the first time they've been expanded. Now it's not just the U.S. and China. They're joined by Japan, South Korea and Russia.
Why should this round be any different.
JAMES LANEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Well, hopefully, the fact that all these countries are coming in indicates that there's some momentum there. Obviously, China has been working behind the scenes to try to bring this off, and they'll be meeting in Beijing.
And I think the fact that the stakeholders -- Japan, Russia and China -- are all concerned, indicates to North Korea that it's time to start coming to terms with the real problem, namely a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
KOPPEL: As you know better than most, Ambassador Laney, there are plenty of skeptics out there who believe that North Korea has made up its mind that it intends to develop more nuclear weapons. They believe to have as many as two right now.
What do you think?
LANEY: Well, we only have conjecture. We don't know, but we probably -- to the best of my knowledge, they have two.
The fact is, though, that they are reprocessing the spent fuel rods, which had been frozen for the last almost 10 years -- 8,000 of them -- would mean, if they finished that -- and they claim that they have almost finished it -- that they would have enough plutonium for five or six additional bombs.
Now, that's serious. It's serious not only because of North Korea's threat, but the fact that they have this plutonium that could be exported.
And remember, I think all of us need to recall the fact that it only takes an amount of plutonium the size of a soccer ball to make an atomic bomb. And that's hard to interdict, you know, by land, sea or air.
And so, we've got the whole problem of proliferation, of sales to other countries.
KOPPEL: So, how do you convince, if you were going into these talks on Wednesday, how do you convince North Korea to give up its ace in the hole?
LANEY: Well, the ace in the hole is really only a defensive ace in the hole. They're not going to use it to conquer the world.
KOPPEL: But that's all they have.
LANEY: That's all they have.
And, of course, their principal concern is security, that is, their regime survival.
So, I think that the six nations are going to have to agree -- and that will include the United States -- some sort of freeze on their part -- North Korea's -- and at the same time a willingness to begin considering what can be done to deal with North Korea.
That is, give them up front at least a year's temporary security guarantee so that they feel like they can talk. And within that period of time, maybe some steps could be made toward the resolution of the thing.
I know everybody is skeptical. I mean, this has been going on, off and on for decades. But the fact is, that the alternatives are so dire, they're so potentially catastrophic that we've got to go down this road before we even begin to think about other more serious alternatives.
KOPPEL: In our remaining seconds, give us a prediction as to what you see the best that we can expect -- aside of an agreement, which nobody expects -- can come out of the talks that begin Wednesday.
LANEY: This time, I think, I would hope that we could get them to freeze everything where it is -- not dismantle, just freeze it -- for at least, on the part of the other nations surrounding it, a security guarantee. Within that framework we could begin the very hard slog of negotiation toward dismantlement, inspections and guarantees and maybe some sort of economic support. That's a long way down the road. But this is a beginning.
KOPPEL: Well, a beginning it is. And as we said, the talks begin on Wednesday, and are expected to last a few days. But the last time they ended after a day.
Ambassador James Laney, thank you so much for coming in.
LANEY: My pleasure. Thank you.
SAN MIGUEL: All right, Andrea. Thank you so much for coming in, and to Ambassador Laney as well.
Well, coming up in our next block, this odd looking thing you're about to see was made by Mother Nature. How deep sea sponges could revolutionize fiber optics. That's when we come back.
SAN MIGUEL: Taking a look now at some NEXT@NEWS headlines, President Bush went on a brief environmental blitz this week.
On Thursday in Redmond, Oregon, be pitched his healthy forest initiative, a bill that supporters say will cut the risk of devastating wildfires.
Opponents say the bill would be an unhealthy thing for the trees, giving logging companies easier access to national forest.
On Friday the President said he would fight any effort to take down hydroelectric dams in the Northwest. The dams are a major source of power for the region and they aid navigation. But they're also blamed for driving some salmon stocks to the brink of extinction.
Residents of Anniston, Alabama have won a settlement in a case involving PCB pollution from a chemical plant. Two companies -- Monsanto and Solutia -- have agreed to pay more than $700 million to settle the case.
An attorney for the homeowners says Monsanto knew the PCBs were a health hazard to town residents, but did nothing to warn the public.
Twenty-one people died Friday, 20 more were injured, when a Brazilian rocket exploded on the launch pad near the seaside city of Sao Luis. The VLS 3 rocket was three days away from its scheduled liftoff. It was Brazil's third attempt to get into space.
An anonymous computer user is suing the recording industry, saying that the industry's legal moves against music downloaders are unconstitutional. The plaintiff, known only as Jane Doe, says the industry association, the RIAA, is violating her right to privacy. Jane Doe says her ISP has received a subpoena from the RIAA asking for information about her -- one of more than 1,000 subpoenas the association has sent out.
SAN MIGUEL: The lowly sponge is just a mass of cells and fibers and lives on the bottom of the ocean, but this simple animal could teach us a thing or two about improving our telecommunications networks.
Fred Katayama has the story from New York City.
FRED KATAYAMA, CNN BUSINESS NEWS (voice-over): Deep beneath the ocean lies a lowly creature on the floor called the sea sponge. But it creates this intricate web of glass called the Venus flower basket.
The sheer beauty of nature's creation lured Bell Labs scientist Joanna Aizenberg to study it.
JOANNA AIZENBERG, BELL LABS: You try to look in one feature, and you find on the way so many other things that you were not even looking for.
KATAYAMA: She saw the light.
AIZENBERG: This is the fiber. And we could see the light coming only through the core.
KATAYAMA: She discovered that sponge fibers were made of glass similar to that used in manmade optical fibers -- the core of today's cutting edge telecommunications, transmitting light at fast speeds to send voice and data around the world.
The biological fibers, too, distribute light emitted by organisms around it. But nature trumped man in two areas. The sponge's fiber is much more durable. It doesn't snap the way this manmade fiber does.
And nature creates it at the cold temperature of sea water, whereas manufacturer's have to blast glass and furnaces to produce fiber.
AIZENBERG: Nature use -- using material that nature decides to use, it's beyond and much better that what we can do in the labs.
KATAYAMA: It has the potential of being a much cheaper way to create fibers, as well.
MICHAEL RAYMER, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, DEPT. OF PHYSICS: But there are other applications that are on the horizon for optical fibers, that this might really benefit from.
And one nice example of that is the idea to embed thousands of optical fibers into the wings of a new aircraft and use those optical fibers to sense the strain that's being placed on the aircraft. KATAYAMA: This sponge research is part of a hot, emerging field called biomimetics. Researchers mine the depths of the ocean and nature for clues on how to build and improve technology.
Nature perfects things through evolution, for only the strongest survive.
A Bell Labs spokesman says the company hopes its findings will make their way into the business world in a few years.
If successful, the creature that Greeks had used as paint brushes centuries ago, could help transform the communications industry.
Fred Katayama, CNN, New York.
(END OF VIDEO)
SAN MIGUEL: Coming up -- bad worms, good worms. What's up with all the pesky computer problems lately? We'll take a look. Stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Check out these robot faces. Look more human than humans might like.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Got a little freaked out by the robot here, but you know what? One of ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to an article in the September issue of "Popular Science," David Hanson fashioned a robotic face to look like his girlfriend. He has one of these faces attached to a three-legged stool that he carries around with him.
Why? Hanson explains to CNN's Kyra Phillips.
DAVID HANSON, ROBOTICS BUILDER: I believe that if these robots can serve as a very useful tool for investigating the way that people communicate with one another.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, we've seen robots with a variety of human abilities that these robots have -- cameras for eyes, software that emulates human movement. But they still look like robots.
Nothing quite this lifelike.
HANSON: I believe that within our lifetimes we're going to see some very, very smart machines, and we want to give them a sociable face that they cooperate, they love us, we love them. That's my goal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But some argue that Hanson's creations cross the line. They're too human, making people feel more repulsed than comfortable.
What do you think?
Ann Tellun (ph), CNN.
SAN MIGUEL: You don't want to know that thing.
Well, the wired world has apparently dodged another bullet fired the SoBig work. The bug, which has infected some 100,000 computers via e-mail was programmed to launch a new attack just a couple of hours ago. But at last report, nothing had happened.
Cyber security expert Fred Rica, from PricewaterhouseCoopers joins us from our New York bureau. And with more on that and the other worms plaguing cyberspace this past week. Thanks for being with us today.
FRED RICA, PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS: Thanks for having me, Renay.
SAN MIGUEL: And just a brief explanation as to how computer security experts were able to diffuse the SoBig worm.
RICA: Yes. We really dodged the bullet today. And the reason was, Internet security firms spent the last few days decrypting the worm.
They identified about 20 servers that looked like they were going to launch the attack at about 3 p.m. today, and they were able to basically knock those offline. And as a result, nothing really happened.
SAN MIGUEL: But we are hearing reports that SoBig may be coming back in another variation. And in fact, the original SoBig came out in January, I believe.
There's another variation coming out, and maybe that would allow the writer of the worm to take over a lot of computers, you know, creating zombie computers. What about that?
RICA: Right. I mean, there's always the chance with these worms and viruses that the writers will get more creative, they'll fix whatever flaws the program might have had, and they could potentially put more dangerous payloads in them.
So, I don't think we're out of the woods just yet. I wouldn't be surprised if we see other variants -- perhaps more destructive variants -- over the next few weeks or months.
SAN MIGUEL: SoBig just one of three worms that were in the news this past week here. Some are calling it the worst week for worms and computer threats ever. What do you think?
RICA: I don't know that it was the worst week ever. I think the denial of service attacks we had a few years ago, that was a pretty bad week.
But the hackers definitely scored one this week. They made things very difficult for a lot of people.
A lot of home users found that they had problems, and I know a lot of my corporate clients had problems over the last few days, just in cleaning up the mess.
SAN MIGUEL: You know, there is a pattern as I see it. A warning is issued in the press about a flaw in some software, and it's usually Microsoft Windows.
They put a patch up. The media tells everybody to go out and get the patch and download it into the computer, whether you're a corporate user or a home user. And then not enough people do that, and somebody releases a worm or virus and, you know, we have the problems that we had this past.
You know, what do we do to change all that? What do we do to get out of this pattern?
RICA: Yes, I mean, that's exactly the problem. You know, there's a vulnerability found. A patch is issued. A couple of weeks go by. People don't apply the patch and the exploit is released.
And to get out of that pattern we need a couple of things. One is, you know, we need better software for sure.
And two, there's a lot of things that home users should be doing that they're probably not. They're probably not paying as much attention as the best corporations are.
And they are such a good target for hackers, because their machines usually aren't very well protected. The explosion in broadband Internet access means that there's literally millions of these unprotected machines that are always accessible and always online.
And so, in the short term, I don't see this problem going away.
SAN MIGUEL: And we should probably tell our viewers, if they're using Microsoft Windows, check out microsoft.com every Wednesday or Thursday. That is usually when they put up their security bulletins warning about a flaw in the software, right?
RICA: That's right. And it's actually easier than that.
Probably the easiest thing that a home user can do is upgrade their software to Windows XP, make sure that they have what's called automatic update turned on.
And whenever Microsoft issues a patch, a little icon will light up on their screen. It'll say there's a new update available, and it's very easy to just click on that, download it and make sure your machine has the most current level of protection on it.
SAN MIGUEL: And so, finally, you said earlier in this conversation, we really dodged the bullet this week, or dodged a bullet today. You know, we've seen Code Red and Love Letter do a lot a damage, you know, millions of dollars ...
RICA: That's right.
SAN MIGUEL: ... worth of damage the last couple of years.
Do these worms and viruses really have the ability, do you think, to just take down the Internet? I mean, is that hype or reality?
RICA: I think it's a little bit of both. They certainly have shown an ability to slow things down, to congest the Internet and to block traffic.
Whether they could ever get to the point where the entire Internet really comes crumbling down, I'm not quite sure that that's a reality.
SAN MIGUEL: OK. Finally, if I'm using a Mac, am I safe?
RICA: I think for the time being you are. Most hackers focus their attention on Microsoft or Unix, just because they're so widespread, they're so ubiquitous.
And if you're going to spend the time to write a virus or a worm, you really want something that's going to get the most traction and spread as widely as possible. And that's usually Microsoft or Unix.
SAN MIGUEL: All right, Fred Rica with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Thanks so much for your expertise. We do appreciate it.
RICA: Thank you.
SAN MIGUEL: Coming up on our next half hour, with the West Nile threat there may be mosquito spraying in your own community.
Is it doing any good? We'll have a debate when we come back. Keep it here.
SAN MIGUEL: NEXT@CNN continues in just a moment after a check of the news headlines at this hour.
Israeli helicopters opened fire on a gathering in Gaza City today, killing four men. The four were identified as members of the military wing of Hamas.
The missile strike adds to the bloody toll of a week where a suicide bomber killed 20 people in Jerusalem Tuesday. Israel then responded with an air strike that claimed the life of a Hamas leader -- Ismail Abu Shanab.
A slow-moving Pacific storm is now about 85 miles off the coast of Baja California. An updated forecast just issued by the National Hurricane Center says, Hurricane Ignacio could bring its 105 mile an hour winds ashore overnight.
Investigators are exploring how a fellow inmate allegedly murdered defrocked Massachusetts priest John Geoghan. The convicted child abuser was apparently strangled Saturday in a high security prison where he was under special guard.
More news at the top of the hour. NEXT@CNN resumes right now.
SAN MIGUEL: Welcome back. The mosquito season is now in full swing. So far in the U.S., almost 800 human cases of West Nile and 17 deaths have been reported.
But what is the best method for controlling the spread of the disease?
Joining us to discuss this issue is Allen James. He's president of RISE, an association that represents mosquito control suppliers. And Jay Feldman, founder of Beyond Pesticides.
Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us today.
Mr. James, let me start with you. You know, we've been hearing about West Nile for a few years now, but it still continues to be on the rise in the country.
You know, do you think the spraying really is the best method to control the mosquito population?
ALLEN JAMES, PRESIDENT, RISE: Well, of course there are a variety of methods, starting with education of the public to understand what they should do to protect themselves against West Nile virus, but also using larvicides, as many communities have been doing.
But finally, when there are adult mosquitoes flying, then it's time to use insecticides sprayed. And the CDC, the highest medical body that studies this, along with the EPA, has declared that we should use insecticides, and that they are affective with virtually no risk to the human population.
SAN MIGUEL: Well, you know, I was living in the New York-New Jersey area when we first heard about West Nile, when those birds were dropping out the sky there. And they started spraying immediately after those reports came out.
Did it do any good in that part of the country?
JAMES: Yes, it did. We don't know how many lives it saved. But it certainly reduced the number of live mosquitoes.
And the only way to reduce adult mosquitoes is to use adulticide insecticides, designed especially to kill mosquitoes.
And if we can bring the number of mosquitoes down to a very low population, then we can protect human health, is what we're really trying to do In addition to human health, of course, we're also trying to protect horses and pets, but most importantly humans. So we must bring the population of flying, adult mosquitoes down to a minimal level. And only insecticide sprays, fogs will do that.
SAN MIGUEL: Mr. Feldman, if not spraying, what? I mean, how do you control the spread of West Nile?
JAY FELDMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BEYOND PESTICIDES: Well, I think the first thing we ought to recognize is that the pesticides that are being used to kill adult mosquitoes are hazardous chemicals. These are chemicals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, neurological conditions, respiratory effects.
And so, in that context, you have to ask yourself, is it worth the spraying that might go on?
And we've come to the conclusion with experts around the country that, in this case, what Mr. James is describing is a cure that's worse than the disease itself.
Because, in fact, once we recognize the hazards associated with the pesticides, what we need to do is invest more money up front in the very things Mr. James was talking about -- the prevention, the education, reduction of breeding sites.
You know, if you look at Illinois last year, which was the hardest-hit state, Illinois effects -- West Nile virus effects were clustered. Seventy-two percent were clustered in two areas of Cook County, and that happened because there are thousands -- or hundreds of catch basins that were breeding mosquitoes.
They were breeding sites, and there was no investment put into larvaeciding, managing the breeding sites, and ensuring that we, in effect, prevented the adult mosquitoes from breeding.
SAN MIGUEL: But what about the fact that the Centers for Disease Control says that this can be an effective way to contain West Nile?
FELDMAN: Well, I think partly this is a political response. You know, people are afraid of this disease. The CDC's not doing enough to educate people on the very small public-health threat that the disease actually represents and putting this into perspective with the exposure to the chemicals as a solution.
CDC is very clear that the most effective method to manage the mosquitoes is to control breeding sites at the larval stage, and there's no question about that. But then it becomes should you move on, and, communities across the United States are saying no to pesticide spraying because of impacts on children and the general public.
SAN MIGUEL: Mr. James, you know, spraying is done a lot in the early mornings and the early evenings, you know, dusk and dawn when these -- supposedly these mosquitoes are at their most active, but some species of the mosquito carrying West Nile are, you know, around in the daytime. How does pesticide spraying address that issue? JAMES: Well, pesticide spraying does address that issue because they are sprayed in the mornings, and they -- all mosquitoes begin to fly early in the morning and continue to fly late at night, and the materials are developed so that they will be in the air when mosquitoes fly.
It's the overall population of them, all the mosquitoes that count. Where the surveillance by public-health authorities has demonstrated that there are mosquitoes, then sprays should occur, and they will cover the areas adequately, whether it's by truck or by aerial spraying.
Unfortunately, right now, there's not enough of either going on in areas where there are mosquitoes, and so, if there was adequate coverage, then we would not have a concern about there being too many mosquitoes.
I would like to correct some things that were said by Mr. Feldman.
These products do not -- are not linked to the diseases he talks about, and to put pesticide risks, which are minimal and have been declared safe by CDC and EPA, in the same message with the protection of public health and the protection of human lives of...
Hundreds of people have now died from West Nile virus, and thousands of people have been infected over the past couple of years, not only with West Nile virus, but with Eastern Equine Encephalitis and cases of malaria.
Mosquitoes are a very harmful insect, and the last resort and the most effective resort when there are adult mosquitoes is to spray, compared to the very, very low risk of any adverse effects, at all.
SAN MIGUEL: Mr. Feldman...
JAMES: So I...
SAN MIGUEL: Let me break in here because we have about 45 seconds left. Mr. Feldman, I will give you the last word. For those...
SAN MIGUEL: ... neighborhoods that are not spraying -- let me -- let me change the subject here. For those neighborhoods who are not spraying, what do those people do to keep themselves safe?
FELDMAN: Well, first of all, you know, you need to look around your home and see where there are potential breeding sites, you know, gutters that are retaining water, bird baths, toys that are outside, and get rid of those standing water areas.
And then you need to look at repellents as well. And we urge people to stay away from deet-related repellents because of the scientific literature associated with those chemicals and use essential oils and other safer products.
You know, the bottom line question here is whether we ought to be exposing the public to two public-health hazards, West Nile virus and pesticides, and what communities across this country are saying is it's unnecessary, we can adopt a full-blown comprehensive program that prevents mosquito infestation.
SAN MIGUEL: Gentlemen...
JAMES: I really need to interrupt and say that the CDC has said use these products to protect your health. We must have people feeling comfortable using these products. They are safe. And Mr. Feldman has just led -- misled the American public, and it's inappropriate.
SAN MIGUEL: I will say that Allen...
FELDMAN: And that's misleading, too.
SAN MIGUEL: Allen James, you were referring to when he was talking about don't use deet.
SAN MIGUEL: That is what you were just referring to.
Gentleman, I have to cut it off there. It's getting interesting, but we are running out of time.
Allen James, Jay Feldman, thank you both for being with us. We appreciate your time today.
Well, when we come back...
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JACK HORKHEIMER, "STAR GAZER" PBS: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: August 27, Mars will be closer to earth and brighter than it's been since 57,617 B.C.
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SAN MIGUEL: You may not have grown up watching him on PBS. We'll have a live interview with the Star Gazer himself when we come back.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Up and down / Up and down / And up and down... NEXT WEEK IN HISTORY: On August 29, 1893, inventor Whitcomb Judson received a patent for the zipper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Up and down / Up and down / Up and down / Up and down / Up and down...
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SAN MIGUEL: Well, the big blackout August 14 has the U.S. taking a hard look at its electricity consumption. Some say conservation needs to get more attention. Just how much energy can that save for a country consuming like crazy?
Kathleen Koch reports.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lit up, plugged in, and cool as a cucumber. That's the American way. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population but uses 25 percent of its electricity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, per capita use of energy is about five times the world's average in the United States.
KOCH: The Alliance to Save Energy says, if the U.S. wants to keep the lights on and avoid future blackouts, it's got to take conservation seriously.
MARK HOPKINS, ALLIANCE TO SAVE ENERGY: This lamp is a really good example of high-efficiency lighting, lighting that's attractive. We use motion-detector sensors to burn are turn on the lights.
KOCH: The savings are potentially significant.
HOPKINS: We could save 30 percent of our energy if we use commercially available technologies that are right off the shelf and can be put in every home, business, and indus -- and company.
KOCH: The Bush administration has not put conservation front and center in its national energy policy.
Vice President Cheney in an important 2001 speech on energy.
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis all by itself for sound, comprehensive energy policy.
KOCH: During crises, such as when natural gas supplies tightened and after the recent blackout, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has called on consumers to conserve, and though the Energy Department was unable to provide comment for this story, it stressed its support for tax incentives for energy-saving appliances.
But, in the spring of 2002, it rolled back by 10 percent energy- efficiency requirements for air-conditioners and heat pumps. NEAL ELLIOT, ACEEE: It sounds like a very small change, but air- conditioning is probably one of the most important residential electricity uses, and it's particularly critical for electric-system reliability.
KOCH (on camera): California refused to lower its appliance energy standards, and three other states are challenging the administration's action in court.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Conservation in the formulation of appliances is a very important, painless effort, and so I am hard-pushed to understand why the Bush administration has taken this tact, instead of maintaining a balanced approach.
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We came by to give you some energy-efficient bulbs.
KOCH (voice-over): But some say that those selling conservation have to overcome a cultural bias.
ELEWELLYN KIND, PUBILSHER, "THE ENERGY DAILY": It says to us diet. It says to us doing without. It says deprivation. But it's not. It's common sense.
KOCH: Common sense to conservationists, but the administration is not persuaded that last week's blackouts demand a radical change in energy policy.
Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.
SAN MIGUEL: Checking some stories making news on our beat this week.
One-hundred-eighty-million dollars at the bottom of the sea. That is the estimated value of this ship's cargo. The paddle wheel steamship went down in a hurricane in 1865 off of the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The "SS Republic" was en route to New Orleans with thousands of gold coins to aid post-Civil War reconstruction efforts. The team that found the wreckage last month had been looking for 12 years. It's likely to be the richest cargo ever recovered.
News on another more famous shipwreck now. Scientists who visited the wreck site of the "Titanic" report that the ship is decaying at an alarming rate. One expert estimates that it's losing 600 pounds of steel everyday, gobbled up by corrosive microbes. Increased tourism and souvenir hunting also contributing to "Titanic"'s disintegration. The crow's nest, where one crewman shouted "Iceberg right ahead!" has now broken away and the bow is completely covered with rust.
The giant panda at the San Diego Zoo gave birth to a healthy cub on Tuesday, but the baby's twin has not been born, and the zookeepers have all but given up hope it will be born alive. According to the zoo officials, 20 hours is the longest known time between panda births, and -- but it's been days now, and odds are the second cub won't make it.
On a happier note, zoologists in China are celebrating the birth of panda twins conceived through artificial insemination. Chengdu Zoo gave birth just over two weeks ago, and the little guys, as you see, are doing just fine.
Well, from Denmark to Australia, Beijing to Bangladesh, amateur astronomers are flocking to stargazing parties. The big draw this week is not a star but a very close encounter with our planetary neighbor Mars.
Space Correspondents Miles O'Brien gazed skyward with a big crowd of astronomers near Atlanta with the view of a lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's because I thought I might not be around for the next 60,000, so I'll take the chance while I had it.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Get them while they're hot. The sizzling burgers and the blazing red planet. It's enough to bring out a nocturnal throng. The farther away from the bright lights of the big city, the better. Some of them are strangers to the night sky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what I'm doing. I'm very amateur.
O'BRIEN: Others find it a familiar place and have the pricey toys to prove it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then I'm going to mount a camera, a 35- millimeter camera, right here so, as the scope is tracking, I can take some long exposures.
O'BRIEN: And Scout's honor, it's well worth the effort to get this badge of honor. We caught up with the Atlanta Astronomy Club in their viewing patch 30 miles outside town. On this night, nearly 300 people flocked to see the fourth rock from the sun as close as it gets to the third. That's us.
(on camera): OK. Let's try to put this close thing in perspective. Let's say, for example, you wanted to drive your car to Mars. Seventy miles an hour times 24 hours in a day. That would be 1,680 miles a day. Divide that into about 35-million miles, which is -- if you could go as the crow flies, would be the distance to Mars, and you'd come out with 20,833 days divided by a year, 57 years or so, if you take the sport-utility vehicle to mars, and that's without rest stops. So it's not really that close.
(voice-over): The last time this happened, it was 60,000 years ago, which explains why it's hard to find the file footage in our library. Maybe Neanderthals at the time looked out at the bright red star and said ugh. There were no telescopes, computers, or astronomy clubs, of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you're looking at Mars, do you see something up there on the left-hand corner, a little bright spot?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, like a...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. That's the south polar ice cap, OK. So you could be skiing on Mars on carbon dioxide when you grow up. What do you think? Ready to go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people probably won't see this for thousands of years.
O'BRIEN: Most indeed, unless cryogenics pans out. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The next time Mars gets this close, it will be the year 2287.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The unknown is what draws everyone here. It's taking a good look at what you don't know, and you'll never get an opportunity to see it again.
O'BRIEN: After Wednesday, Mars will start slipping away from us, but worry not, planetary procrastinators. The experts say it will still be very bright and big for at least six weeks. If you miss it, you might very well kick yourself and say ugh!
Miles O'Brien, CNN, Villa Rica, Georgia.
SAN MIGUEL: Well, ugh. You better get out there and see this while you can.
Our next guest has been looking skyward for most of his life. He's Jack Horkheimer, the Star Gazer on PBS and director of the Miami Planetarium.
Thanks so much for being with us.
HORKHEIMER: It's my absolute pleasure, and, of course, Mars is the topic on everybody's list.
And, you know, Neanderthal man probably did see it this bright, but the fascinating thing is that, less than 50 years ago, when I was a kid in school, we really had no idea what Mars looked like, and we were just living science fiction, with H.G. Wells and Orson Welles and invaders to Mars.
And, today, just less than 30 years ago, we now not only know what Mars looks like, we've mapped it more completely than our own planet earth, in better detail, but we actually have sent landers there, and we've been on Mars. We know it, and we have become the martians. We have invaded Mars.
SAN MIGUEL: Now we're attacking Mars. There's a -- there's a switch.
You know, the thing that I loved -- always loved about your "Star Gazer" segments -- and I've been watching them at PBS for a long time -- was you didn't need a telescope to enjoy the heavens. You know, it was all about the naked eye.
So tell us when and where the best time with the naked eye viewing of Mars this coming week?
HORKHEIMER: It -- it is so easy. If you want to see it at that precious moment where it's really at its closest, go outside Wednesday morning at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time and look to the southwest for an enormously bright, reddish gold ball, and you will be seeing at its absolute closest. But it will be very bright and very close for about six to eight weeks.
And you don't need binoculars. You don't need telescopes. All you need is the naked eye. It is the brightest thing in the sky right now other than the moon. However, if you use a pair of binoculars, it will make it even much brighter, and, if you use a small telescope, you'll be able to see its southern polar ice cap. The top ice cap is frozen carbon dioxide. There's a water cap underneath it, frozen ice.
So, you know, this is what makes us all kind of wonder when we look up that -- was there ever the beginnings of life on Mars.
SAN MIGUEL: One of the questions that has been tantalizing astronomers and then, you know, regular folks for the longest time. Is this kind of like an eclipse, where there are some certain parts of the country or world that offer you a best view or not?
HORKHEIMER: No, that's what's so wonderful about this. It's really a good view everywhere. Now, this week, it's best to see -- you'll have a clearer view, if you wait until around 1:00 at night, because then it will reach its highest point above the southern horizon.
This is the rule for observing Mars the next two weeks. Right after sunset, view southeast. Around 1:00 a.m. due south. Around sunrise -- it's still very bright at sunrise. Look southwest. So it's all southern, southeast early, southwest in the morning.
SAN MIGUEL: Is it your hope that, you know, sometime this next week, some child will look up at Mars and will be inspired to become the next, you know, Jack Horkheimer or next Karl Sagan...
HORKHEIMER: Oh, no.
SAN MIGUEL: ... or something like that?
HORKHEIMER: No, I want -- I want some child out that we know nothing about now -- or even an adult -- to become the next Karl Sagan, maybe the next Einstein because, you know, these are the kind of events that turn a child into a curious child with science, and I have seen children at planetariums for the past few weeks all excited about this, 2- and 4-year-old children are telling their parents that that's Mars up in the sky in the morning.
SAN MIGUEL: That's great.
Jack Horkheimer, director of Miami Planetarium, the "Star Gazer." Happy stargazing this week. Thanks for being with us.
HORKHEIMER: Keep looking up.
SAN MIGUEL: Will do. Thank you.
So are you sick of hearing about retooled, empowered team members for entrepreneurial solutions from the ground up? What your boss really meant to say when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEL G, SINGER: Word up / Everybody sing / When you hear that, you got to get it under way / Word up / It's the code word / No matter where you say it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAN MIGUEL: Word up, indeed.
Are the linguistic components of contemporary technological entrepreneurs unnecessarily obfuscatory and perplexing? Translation: Is business language really lousy?
Well, one company that saw way too much silly jargon in e-mails and memos came up with an interesting way of rooting it out with a software program.
Joining us now from San Francisco is Brian Fugere of Deloitte Consulting to tell us all about it.
Brian, thanks for being with us today.
BRIAN FUGERE, DELOITTE CONSULTING: Hey, Renay. Thanks for having me.
SAN MIGUEL: You know, this sends chills down my spine because when -- in a former life when I was covering technology from the business side of things, I used to get e-mails and press releases and pitches on -- and even on voice mail that sounded like they were telling me how to, you know, put together a stereo, you know, just wanted to get away from that, but you're not a software company. How did you come up with the idea for this Bullfighter software?
FUGERE: Well, we -- we talked to our clients, and they consistently told us that they're -- well, they were tired of all of the double speak, they were tired of the gobbledygook, and they wanted more straight talk -- less bull and more straight talk. So we decided to build a tool to help our consultants do something about it, and that -- and Bullfighter was born.
SAN MIGUEL: And it's based on, you know, some technology -- or a formula that's been around for decades now called just readability?
FUGERE: Yes, the -- Bullfighter does two things. Number one, it's got a dictionary of 350 jargon words, and it works like a spell checker. It will check for bull words. And it's also got a -- has a readability index. So it scores your document between 1 and 10. A score of 1 is hopelessly bad. A score of 10 means it's very clear, very straightforward.
SAN MIGUEL: Let's look at some of this, you know, big-time jargon that we're talking about here, some of the things that -- you know, what they equal.
Leverage equals used. Drinking from the fire hose means doing too much. Envisioneer -- I actually saw that in some of those e-mails -- create. Synergize, combine. Value added equals benefit. Scalable means custom. Walk the talk, do it. Utilize, use. You know, the -- re-engineer, change.
Do you think that this -- there's -- a whole dot-com bubble happened and popped because of all of the smoke-and-mirror type of language?
FUGERE: Well, I think there's certainly a relationship with the bubble. You know, when there was nothing to sell, people had to make it up, and I think a lot of the jargon represents made-up language that was covering the fact that there was just nothing underneath it. So, clearly, the -- the bubble has something to do with it.
But we found that there was jargon -- even today, there's still a tremendous -- after the bubble was burst, there's still a tremendous amount of jargon, and people -- they're really tired of it. They are tired of the gobbledygook. They want straight talk and plain speaking, and so the reception to this tool has been overwhelming, quite honestly.
SAN MIGUEL: We've -- well, you've also rated some of the presidents on their State of the Union speeches and cutting through some of the double talk. How do some of the presidents rate?
FUGERE: Well, we found that business people don't have any monopoly on jargon and bull. So we decided to run some of the State of the -- we ran 45 State of the Union addresses through Bullfighter, and we found that George Bush senior ranked best. At the bottom of the list of all the presidents we looked at was Herbert Hoover.
SAN MIGUEL: Herbert Hoover actually did the best job on this?
FUGERE: No, he did the worst. He was...
SAN MIGUEL: He did the worst. OK.
FUGERE: He was the last on the list. George Bush senior was at the top of the list.
SAN MIGUEL: George Bush senior. OK. And I know that you've got all kinds of examples here, and we wish we could spend more time with you, but we are out of time.
Brian Fugere of Deloitte Consulting, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
FUGERE: Thanks, Renay.
SAN MIGUEL: That is all of the time that we have for you.
But, before we go, we want to give you a sneak peek of what's coming up next week. The U.S. Open will be in full swing, but is tennis technology ruining the game? We'll talk about the racket over big racquets next week. That story and much more coming up next week. Hope you'll join us.
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