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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 5, 2000

Aired January 5, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us as we usher in the new millennium. I'm Andy Jordan.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And I'm Shelley Walcott.

We begin our first show of the century with issues all too prevalent in the last: the ramifications of war and the eventuality of peace.

JORDAN: In our top story, heads of state meet in an effort to put the elusive Israeli-Syrian peace talks back on track.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. officials acknowledge the difficulty of resolving many of these complex issues and emphasize this round of talks is only the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: In "Business Desk," the science of ergonomics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL MAGNUSSON, DIRECTOR OF DESIGN, KNOLL: There's been increasing awareness over the effect of ergonomics on the productivity and the well-being of the employee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: We head to Iraq, in "Worldview," a country still suffering from the effects of the Persian Gulf War.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FALEH AL-KHAYYATT, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, IRAQI MINISTRY OF OIL: We have been pushing to the limit our equipment, most of our operating systems are running without standby.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALCOTT: Then in "Chronicle," in debt before they even graduate from college. CNN Student Bureau looks at college students catching the credit card bug.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAMARA GARTON, COLLEGE SENIOR: When I came to college, that's when I got all the cards I ever wanted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: Our first top story of the 2000s resurrects one of the most elusive peaces of the 1900s. Israel and Syria are picking up where they left off almost four years ago when they suspended peace talks in the midst of terrorism. Peace brokers from both countries have set up shop in the U.S. state of West Virginia.

Back home, passions are running high. Israeli protesters stressed the importance of disputed land to Israel's security. The land in question is called the Golan Heights. Rabbis in Israel claim the Golan as part of biblical Israel.

On the other side of the border, Arabs demand Israel return the Golan Heights to Syria. They claim the land as rightfully theirs.

Both sides have a claim, and both are looking to history to settle the issue.

In 1947, the United Nations divided Palestine into a Jewish state, which makes up modern-day Israel, and an Arab state, which includes Syria and many Palestinians. The Jewish state gained independence as Israel in 1948.

In 1967, Syria fought in a Six Day War alongside Egypt and Jordan. Israel defeated all of them and took over Syria's Golan Heights.

In 1973, Syria and other Arab states fought Israel again, with ceasefires ending the fighting by the next year.

By 1981, Israel claimed legal and political authority in the Golan Heights.

Syria has demanded the creation of a Palestinian state and wants the Golan Heights back. It claims former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promised to withdraw from the Golan Heights. Israel denies the promise, and claims it needs the land for security reasons.

Well, there's more at stake than disputed land. Negotiators are breaking down into teams at talks in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Walter Rodgers traces U.S. involvement in the talks and outlines agenda items.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It took a long presidential drive in the rain -- the White House to West Virginia -- but President Clinton's personal intercession brought Israel's Prime Minister Barak and Syria's Foreign Minister al-Sharaa together for face-to-face peace talks. Their meeting lasted about an hour, in what were described as very constructive talks, this after Monday's deadlock.

Before leaving the White House, the president was also asked about reports Israel wants another $17 billion in U.S. military assistance, including a shopping list that gives Israel access to military hardware not even available to NATO allies, this in addition to $10 billion to relocate Israeli civilians now living on the Golan Heights.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there will be some cost associated with the -- with the security rearrangements. And then obviously, over the long run, as I have made clear, we need to make a contribution.

RODGERS: This has not been easy for President Clinton. The first day, he concluded the Syrians and Israelis still were not ready to talk face-to-face. They were deadlocked over the agenda at the starting line. Prime Minister Barak insisted Israel's security concerns had to be discussed first, Syria insisting talks begin with an Israeli commitment to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Giving up the Golan continues to raise the wrath of some American Jews and some Israelis. They initiated this protest because they do want to return to Syria lands captured in the 1967 war.

State Department spokesman James Rubin offered this perspective on the first two days of talks.

JAMES RUBIN, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: You shouldn't read disaster or success, you shouldn't read "Great Expectations" or "Bleak House" into every arrival or departure of the president.

RODGERS (on camera): Still, Mr. Clinton's rescue mission gave this summit a working plan, an organizational structure, and a commitment to solve the outstanding issues, like drawing new borders, normalization of ties, water, and mutual security concerns.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: It's finally the year 2000. The turn of the century went off without a hitch. Spectacular celebrations around the world mocked the dire predictions of a global computer meltdown. Aside from a few minor computer glitches, the Y2K bug was notably absent from the festivities,

now that we're breathing a little easier, some wonder what all the hoopla was about. There's no way to get back the billions of dollars governments and businesses spent becoming Y2K compliant. Was is it a waste of money? and is the world totally glitch free?

Charles Feldman on the ongoing Y2K debate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should Y2K now be forgot along with days of auld lang syne? No, says the man whose software rules cyberspace. Yes, says the critic whose opinion is we've all been fleeced.

Microsoft's Bill Gates appears to hold the majority view: We spent billions, prevented a major techno-crisis but are not yet totally out of the woods.

BILL GATES, CHMN. & CEO, MICROSOFT: In the months ahead, you're going to hear about billing systems or tax-related software that's going to get screwed up. It's not going to be catastrophic, I don't think, in any case.

FELDMAN: To be sure, examples can be found to support just about anyone's opinion. From this small outfit, whose doors remained shut, Sunday, because of an alleged Y2K glitch, to the makers of many of the Rose Bowl parade floats who spent some bucks and took some precautions so there would be no hitches due to computer glitches.

BILL LOFTHOUSE, PHOENIX DECORATING: I think a lot of people, including us, did some thing that maybe we wouldn't -- not a question of maybe -- we probably wouldn't have done if it hadn't been for the doomsayers saying that everything's going to stop.

FELDMAN: But computer expert Dave Starr says the doomsayers were wrong and the vast sums spent misguided.

DAVE STARR, 3COM: A lot of people made a lot of money on this, and you're right, a lot of consultants, a lot of software vendors, a lot of people writing books.

FELDMAN: We may never know whether the world really came close to a computer meltdown, but this we do know: that in the first week of the first year of this new era, the sky has not fallen.

Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: You may have heard of telecommuting. It means working from home. In the United States, about 20 million people telecommuted last year. Now a U.S. agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, says its safety rules cover telecommuters. It says companies which allow employees to work from home are responsible for making sure their work areas meet federal health and safety standards. The goal: avoiding job-related injuries and hazards.

If you think work is a pain in the back you could be right. Studies point to about six million injuries in the U.S. workplace each year. The annual cost of such injuries: 10,000 people die, 50,000 suffer some type of permanent impairment, and 30 million workdays are lost.

It's easy to see that it's a costly problem, both in human terms and for the bottom line. That's why OSHA is trying to prevent such injuries.

Bill Dorman has the details in our "Business Desk."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL DORMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No matter where you work, you face certain risks, and that's what's driving the federal action. Some risks come from repetitive motion, doing the same task over and over. The Labor Department estimates the costs of injuries like that to be $45 to $60 billion a year in lost time, workers compensation, and insurance claims. That adds up to a third of all workplace injuries in the United States.

ALEXIS HERMAN, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, as they are most commonly called, are the most prevalent, the most expensive, and the most preventable workplace injuries in the country.

DORMAN: It's not only a problem for factory workers and baggage handlers. The explosion of computer use in the workplace has led to a series of wrist and hand problems, and a series of specialty products to deal with those problems. It's all about ergonomics, adjusting the tools of the workplace to fit the worker.

(on camera): Ergonomics has changed the world of furniture design at home, but especially at the office. It's increasingly common not only to have chairs that go up and down, but also desks that move and keyboards that you can adjust.

(voice-over): More than ever before, designers are getting orders to match form and function while paying attention to comfort.

CARL MAGNUSSON, DIRECTOR OF DESIGN, KNOLL: There has been increasing awareness of the effect of ergonomics on the productivity and the well-being of the employee.

DORMAN: The Labor Department puts annual savings at $9 billion in injury prevention. Many in the business community remain skeptical and plan to fight the new rules in public hearings.

Bill Dorman, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: We'll have more on ergonomics in "Worldview" as we check out the workplace in Europe. Can tougher rules get real backing in the world of business? And in our "Business Desk" next week, a debate over dollars: the push to raise the pay. You've heard about minimum wage. You might even make it. But what's a living wage? We'll check it out right here on CNN NEWSROOM next week.

ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

JORDAN: Well, we begin a new year on "Worldview" with a new series. For the next couple of weeks, we'll take you on an odyssey, "Beyond the Iron Curtain." The Iron Curtain was a term popularized by Winston Churchill. It was defined as the barrier of secrecy and censorship which isolated the Soviet Union and other countries. We'll visit some of those nations and see how changes came about when the curtain was opened. We'll also head to Iraq where, this week, demonstrators protested sanctions against Baghdad. We'll check out the work environment in England and the rest of Europe. We begin with our first look "Beyond the Iron Curtain."

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Our Iron Curtain odyssey touches down in a land-locked country in Central Europe, the Czech Republic. The modern Czech nation was founded January 1, 1993. That's when its long-time union with Slovakia was dissolved. Today, we visit ancient castles handed down to royal families. But even royalty has to face reality. You'll discover that the castle is hard to keep up. But while maintaining history has a price, it also has a payoff.

Richard Blystone explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Iron Curtain was falling, William Lobkowicz was just another Harvard graduate selling real estate in Boston.

PRINCE WILLIAM LOBKOWICZ: It's a beautiful room from the 16th century. It's an original fireplace from the time, as well.

BLYSTONE: Now he's collecting real estate in the country of his forefathers: Prince William Lobkowicz, to use the title that dates from the time when Lobkowiczes collected castles the way other people collect stamps.

LOBKOWICZ: We were princes of the Holy Roman Empire and dukes of Roginsan (ph). This was our family seat.

BLYSTONE: Since returning from exile in America, the family has used new Czech laws to claim back nine castles, plus a spa, a brewery, a winery and land.

LOBKOWICZ: And you see behind it how beautiful the landscape was. BLYSTONE: That's Yezergey (ph) Castle in the Northern Czech Republic.

LOBKOWICZ: People told me that until '68, '69, actually, it didn't look so much different than this.

BLYSTONE: This is Yezergey today, the crater of a coal mine creeping up to its roots.

Here's towering Strakeoff (ph), built to withstand anything but time: both restored to the family, both now given up, because what's been restored must be restored, and these days the Lobkowiczes have to pick and choose what to support with limited money.

They chose Nelahozeves Castle to house the family collections.

LOBKOWICZ: Some of them we got back, some of them we didn't. But about 50 to 60 percent of our collections were lost, stolen or destroyed over the last 60 years.

BLYSTONE: The best of the rest, the family Velasquez and other treasures are the nucleus of a museum of six centuries of Lobkowicz history.

LOBKOWICZ: And you notice the paintings are very high up, so that if someone does lean or you, you know, bump or spill, it's all very practical -- American practical.

BLYSTONE: Born and brought up in the United States...

LOBKOWICZ: Various Hapsburgs.

BLYSTONE: ... William Lobkowicz was always raised on his history.

LOBKOWICZ: Christmases with our aunts and uncles who all talked with funny accents, and we didn't really know what it was all about. But they told us stories. People always ask, you know, don't you feel funny here, and you're an American and you talk with an American accent, but we look at it in the perspective of 600 or 700 years of our family. We were only away 40 years.

BLYSTONE: So he returned to try to shape what's left of the family empire into something to last another six centuries -- with an American touch. The ancestors didn't need to throw concerts and conferences for the cash to keep the castle.

LOBKOWICZ: What we've learned in America is optimism: You've got to believe in something, you've got to work hard and do your best, and people will judge you, hopefully, by what you do.

BLYSTONE: Yankee impatience has mellowed with time. He now knows it may take generations to build back. But...

LOBKOWICZ: What would I have told my children, or what would we have told the grandchildren if we hadn't even tried? BLYSTONE: Richard Blystone, CNN, Nelahozeves, Czech Republic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: We turn now to Iraq, one of the world's leading producers of oil. For over four decades, Iraq's economy thrived on the export of petroleum. That all changed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering the Persian Gulf War. The United Nations imposed trade sanctions on Iraq, halting all of its oil exports and greatly damaging its economy. The U.N. eventually worked out an oil-for-food deal, allowing Iraq to sell some of its oil in exchange for food, medicine and other supplies for its people.

Now Iraq wants to use some of its petroleum profits to restore the country's oil infrastructure, a request that's making some diplomats wary.

Rula Amin has the latest from Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With oil prices on the rise, the U.N. has allowed Iraq to exceed its oil sales limit, $3 billion in additional revenues over a six month period. Now, Baghdad wants to spend one tenth of that money to invest in its damaged oil industry.

Iraq's oil industry was badly hit during the Gulf War. Oil facilities have not been maintained for years, and a lot of Iraq's oil has been wasted.

FALEH AL-KHAYYATT, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, IRAQI MINISTRY OF OIL: We have been pushing to the limit our equipment. We are -- most of our operating systems are running without standby. We are lowering the level of the safety procedures; we are lowering levels of protection.

AMIN: This past summer, the U.N. dispatched a group of five experts to Iraq to examine its oil facilities and its needs. Iraq's oil industry is in a lamentable situation, the experts concluded. They said that there was an urgent need for spare parts and equipment so that Iraq can maintain and even increase its crude oil production. And according to the experts' report, spare parts were essential to improve Iraq's safety standards and to protect the environment; protection from dangerous pollutants like sulfur. Iraq's oil and gas in the north has a high percentage of sulfur. Equipment to separate it is badly needed.

AL-KHAYYATT: So when we produce gas for our domestic means, there is a lot of a very huge by-product of sulfur. We used to treat our water -- industrial water before we put it in the rivers. We used to treat the gases before we put them in the atmosphere. We used to get water out of our refineries and out of our production system that you can drink. All of this are done by equipment and complicated systems that need spare parts, that need replacements, need additions, need development. AMIN: U.N. chief Kofi Annan has recommended to the Security Council that Iraq be allowed to buy an additional $300 million in equipment and parts to upgrade its oil industry, but the U.S. and Britain say the money should be put into badly needed food and medicine. Iraqi and U.N. officials insist that Iraq must be able to produce enough oil first before it can generate enough money for food and medicine.

GEORGE SOMMERWILL, U.N. SPOKESMAN: If Iraq's oil industry is unable to simply produce enough oil out of the ground and sell it, then there will not be any humanitarian revenue or there will not be enough humanitarian revenue.

AMIN (on camera): But if the major powers in the Security Council don't buy this argument, Iraq fears its oil production and revenues will certainly drop.

Rula Amin for CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: To Europe now, where employers are taking a second look at health and safety in the workplace. It's a hot topic in the United States as well. Recently, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration took steps to have employers fix job conditions that could cause ergonomic problems for employees. Ergonomics is the science of fitting a job to the physical limitations of a worker. For example, raising the height of a computer keyboard to take pressure off the wrists. Now, if enforced, the changes could affect some 27 million U.S. workers, and could cost employers as much as $4 billion.

Tom Mintier has more on the European approach to ergonomics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The problem of workplace injuries, from heavy lifting to repetitive motion, are not unique to U.S. workers.

NIGEL BRYSON, DIRECTOR, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT, BMG UNION: It's estimated that about 2.2 million people, workers, in the United Kingdom suffer from ill health either caused by or made worse by their work. If you take those figures apart, half of those are estimated to be either back or repetitive strain-type injury which can be grouped into musculoskeletal disorders. So, it's a major problem.

MINTIER: A problem labor unions say is already understood by governments across Europe and regulated within the European Union, or E.U. The problem, they say, as it is in American, is enforcement.

BRYSON: The government has to regulate. You can't just leave it to individual employers as to whether you find a good one or a bad one to get your protection.

MINTIER: Seven years ago, the British government passed manual handling regulations to set limits on weights workers would be required to lift. At the same time, legislation was also passed to deal with computer work stations. In Denmark, for example, the government set a target of reducing repetitive tasks in the workplace by half within five years.

BRYSON: We are talking more, I think, at the European end about the practicalities, the procedures, the case studies, the examples, and we've been able to focus much more on that and do less kind of the campaigning work because we've already got and had for some years now a legal framework in which to bring this up -- to bring preventative measuring through.

MINTIER (on camera): Britain's Labor government came to power with the backing of the labor unions. The campaign for a safer workplace may have succeeded, the laws may be in place, but what is needed now is the political will to have them enforced.

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.

WALCOTT: In today's "Chronicle," a closer look at student credit. Credit is an important tool for managing your money and maximizing your financial potential. Building good credit is important for major life purchases. It can help you get a car loan or a mortgage on a house. But when credit is abused or used improperly, it can lead to unmanageable debt and financial crisis, as many college students around the United States have found out the hard way.

More now in this report from the CNN Student Bureau.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA TALLERINE, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Getting that first credit card marks the passage into adulthood for many college students.

TAMARA GARTON, COLLEGE SENIOR: When I came to college, that's when I got all the cards I ever wanted.

TALLERINE: A credit card symbolizes independence and maturity. But more and more lately, what it really means is debt, and lots of it.

Currently, 70 percent of college students have a credit card, and students with cards typically carry a balance of more than $2,000.

ANGELA SANDERS, COLLEGE SENIOR: I just got a new credit card and I put about $300 on it in about a week and a half, I think.

TALLERINE: Credit card offers are plastered across college campuses, so its easy to see how students fall into a credit debt trap. GARTON: I think that the school is setting a bad example by including credit card applications in our bags when we buy stuff from the bookstore.

TALLERINE: Credit card companies offer students free items for signing up for a credit card. College students are embracing the pay- later mentality offered by credit cards. Jennifer Root from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Los Angeles knows first-hand how quickly spending leads to trouble.

JENNIFER ROOT, CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELOR: People think, well, I'm making the minimum payment, everything's OK, when, in reality, if you made the minimum payment, you know, an $1800 balance, it could take you 14 years to pay it off.

SANDERS: I don't know. I guess I'm not really worrying about it right now. The pay-later mentality is common among students, but the real problems begin when students graduate deep in debt. Terri Feldman found that out the hard way.

TERRI FELDMAN, COLLEGE GRADUATE: Fifty dollars one month turned into $100 the next month, and then it turned into $3,000. And I graduated from college three years ago and I just paid it off last month.

TALLERINE (on camera): A representative from the Mastercard booth here at the University of Southern California told me off camera that the card provides a financial cushion for students who cannot work full time, but the company is not to blame the students handle their cards irresponsibly.

(voice-over): There's a growing awareness that students need to be armed with information on how to manage their credit cards. But for some students, like Tamara Garton, the emerging credit education programs are too late.

GARTON: I was denied again and again and again. And every time that you're denied a credit card, it's put on your credit report.

ROOT: The best thing is to get the best interest rate and then to learn how to use the card.

TALLERINE: Good advice, but for some students, the lesson comes too late and at too high of a price.

In Los Angeles, this is Melissa Tallerine reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: Well, if you'd like more information on the CNN Student Bureau, you can check out our Web site at turnerlearning.com. Or, in the United States, you can call 1-800-344-6219.

WALCOTT: And that wraps it up for us here on NEWSROOM. Have a great day.

JORDAN: Welcome back. We'll see you tomorrow.

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