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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for January 12, 2000

Aired January 12, 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.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: It's Wednesday, January 12. Thanks for joining us here on NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar, flying solo today.

Our first story is set against the magnificent, multicolored backdrop of the Grand Canyon.

In our top story, preserving the majesty of the wild, but not without controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we protect more than a million acres of this land that is an area larger than Yosemite Park.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: In "Business Desk," a push to boost the lives of low income workers in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE DEAN, SECURITY GUARD: You work a 7-to-5 job and you're bringing home an amount that I bring home, it's really nervous, it's very, very upsetting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview," they were a gift from China at time of cold war and nuclear threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On several levels Shing-Shing was the pandification of hope, struggle, innocence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: And in "Chronicle," it's taking the place of telephones and television in the lives of teenagers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MMM: I guess my generation has kind of evolved with the Internet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: In today's top story: a closer look at one of the most revered natural wonders in the United States. It's a place you and your family may have gone on vacation, just like the millions of others who make trips to the site every year. We're talking, of course, about the Grand Canyon.

In Arizona, President Clinton made a monumental move, he says, will protect the land for future generations. He declared more than one-million acres or 400,000 hectares north of the Grand Canyon as a national monument, along with other sites in Arizona and California. This means mining and other types of development will be banned in those areas.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion in the world. It's located entirely in Northern Arizona, encompassing the Colorado River and adjacent uplands.

The gaping canyon is approximately one mile deep, that's one-and- a-half kilometers. It's 277 miles, or 443 kilometers, long and up to 18 miles or 29 kilometers wide.

It was cut by the Colorado River and was discovered by Coranado's expedition in 1540. The Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919. And more than 5 million people visit the site each year.

The White House says the designations are about preservation. Western ranchers and miners say it's an intrusion on property rights.

We have two reports, beginning with Chris Black.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is nothing in America exactly like it.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know, as President Roosevelt said, we cannot improve upon this landscape. So the only thing we can add to it is our protection. President Roosevelt challenged us to live up to that ideal.

BLACK: Ninety-two years to the day after President Theodore Roosevelt made the Grand Canyon a national monument, President Clinton doubled the protected area around it with a new monument designation for the Canyon's vast north-rim watershed.

Arizona Republicans, reflecting the leave-our-land-alone sentiment so prevalent in the West, stayed away, and accused the president of acting autocratic.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, this administration, with an Arizonan as secretary of the interior, has just by fiat, without consulting anyone -- not a single person who lives in Arizona was consulted on this decision.

BLACK: Administration officials say the Interior Department held more than five dozen meetings, including two large public meetings, with Arizona residents and groups on this land.

The designation sharply restricts economic activity, including mining and logging, protecting untouched stands of Ponderosa pine in this remote stretch of federal land.

Secretary Babbitt, a member of an Arizona pioneer family, says the president is finishing the job begun by three other presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon Johnson

BRUCE BABBITT, INTERIOR SECRETARY: After a full century of looking at the totality of this landscape, our president, President Clinton, has written a full final chapter to the protection of this canyon.

BLACK (on camera): This is the most recent example of President Clinton using his executive authority to bypass a hostile Congress and achieve his policy goals, and White House officials say it won't be the last.

Chris Black, CNN, Grand Canyon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before it was a national park, the Grand Canyon was an inspiration for creating national monuments in the first place. After visiting the canyon at the turn of the 20th century, President Teddy Roosevelt pushed the Preservation of American Antiquities Act through Congress and used it to declare the Grand Canyon a national monument. Since then, almost every president has named national monuments, from Washington's marble variety to natural treasures across the country.

TOM KIERAN, NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION: The Statue of Liberty was protected through the Antiquities Act, Devil's Tower, Acadia National Park, many places were established through the Antiquities Act.

PAWELSKI: President Jimmy Carter used the Antiquities Act in a big way, setting aside 56 million acres of Alaska in 1978. Much of that territory is now national park land. President Clinton made the second biggest claim, setting up the 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase Escalante Monument in Utah in 1996. That angered state political leaders and property-rights advocates. They saw it as a high-handed executive land grab.

The same sort of criticism is in the air this week, especially when it comes to the Grand Canyon-Parashant Monument, almost one million acres of Arizona where mining and some other kinds of development are to be banned.

R.J. SMITH, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I think this is a blatant attempt by President Clinton to use the Antiquities Act for political purposes and to essentially shut out the democratic process.

PAWELSKI: That sentiment is being echoed on Capitol Hill where some are calling for changes in the Antiquities Act in order to trim the president's powers over the use of America's land.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Now, you may have a job after school; if so, you probably know plenty about minimum wage. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standard Act sets many standards in the workplace, among them a minimum wage. Since 1997, that's been $5.15 an hour. Of course, if you're a part-time employee who receives tips your wage may be lower. If you work full-time, that's 2080 hours a year, times $5.15, that comes to $10,712 a year. For a family of two or more, that's below the U.S. government's poverty level.

Now, there's a growing movement in America to help lower-paid workers make ends meet. It's called the living wage. Is it good economic policy?

Bob Beard has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB BEARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Security guard Mike Dean earns $6.25 an hour, barely enough to support his two kids and pay the bills.

MIKE DEAN, SECURITY GUARD: You work a 7-to-5 job and you're bringing home an amount that I bring home, it's really nervous, it's very, very upsetting.

BEARD: Dean is part of a national movement to pass not just a higher minimum wage, but a living wage.

REV. LIONEL EDMONDS, LIVING WAGE ADVOCATE: Well, a living wage is a wage that businesses ought to pay their workers when businesses receive a subsidy, public subsidy from the government. We're not asking for businesses to give workers a helping hand or a handout, just a fair shake.

BEARD: Right now, in 60 cities and counties, churches, community groups, and labor unions are campaigning for wages ranging from $8 to $10 an hour, far higher than the minimum $5.15 an hour left unchanged this year by Congress.

The living wage was first passed five years ago in Baltimore. Since then, 42 cities and counties from coast to coast have followed suit. For example, in Detroit, it's $10.44 an hour without benefits, $8.35 with them. In Los Angeles, it's $8.64 an hour without benefits, $7.39 with them. The highest living wage in the Silicon Valley in San Jose, $10.75 an hour without benefits, $9.50 with them.

Some experts, though, point out a higher living wage could displace the low-wage workers it's supposed to help.

TOM DILWORTH, EMPLOYMENT POLICY INSTITUTE: The janitor may not lose his job the next day, but over time, higher skilled applicants will show up, the employer will be driven to hire the better skilled applicants, the better qualified workers.

BEARD: But living wage proponents argue previous increases in the minimum wage have not led to large job losses. Right now, only 44,000 low-wage workers are eligible for a living wage. And the chances of more cities adopting it are mixed. Business opposition is intense. But advocates are planning a national push with rallies during the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Bob Beard, for CNN Financial News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview," whether you use dollars, pesos or lire, the state of your country's economy has an impact on your life. We'll check out money matters in India and Pakistan where a dispute is causing Kashmir cash problems. We'll visit China, a nation bidding to join the World Trade Organization, and we'll give you the scoop on China's economy. Then, one of China's most popular and rare exports: We head to the United States to remember a panda who perished. And we'll serve fresh fish, an excellent resource to keep an economy from floundering.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Since the collapse of communism, free market ways have been spreading wide and deep in the old East Bloc, attaching themselves to even some of the oldest traditions. Our journey today takes us to the Czech Republic and the normally quiet pond near its border with Austria.

Here's Richard Blystone with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An October morn in the Southern Czech Republic, and excitement's running high in this corner of Lake Borek where the annual carp harvest is under way.

In America, turkey is the ugly creature of choice for Christmas dinners, but around here there's no delicacy quite like a nice fat carp that's been pampered in the bathtub for a couple of weeks to flush the muck out of its system. Carp, not because Central Europeans were bottom-feeders under communism; in these parts, they've been craving and carving the carp since the 14th century, when word got around how some carp lived for 50 years.

(on camera): People thought: Hey, eat a carp and you will be taking in whatever it is that gives these fish their long lifespan. Of course, it hasn't done a lot of good for these carp. (voice-over): Eight metric tons in this net, they tell us, but that's a carp in the bucket compared to the 7 1/2 million kilos the Czechs devour every year and the 8 1/2 million they export.

The carp roundup is still a communal enterprise, but since the fall of communism 10 years ago, the whole thing's been reorganized to bring bigger salaries for those who do the fishing and profits for the owners of the lakes.

"This is a good year for carp," says the head of the harvest.

And the pond's a lot healthier since a Western-oriented government cut the use of pesticides in the surrounding fields. The National Carp Organization has a marketing campaign going and a slogan: Czech carp for health. Catchy.

So, were carp and capitalism made for each other?

"The fish don't care," he says.

Richard Blystone, CNN, among the carp of Lake Borek in the Southern Czech Republic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Next, we head to Kashmir, an area on the border between India and Pakistan. The Himalayan state's official name is Jammu in Kashmir. About 7 million people live there. Most are Muslim, but a fourth practice other religions, including Hinduism. Kashmir has a complex history. Until British withdrawal from the subcontinent of India, Kashmir was ruled by an absolute monarch known as the Maharaja. In 1947, when Pakistan and India became two nations, Kashmir was not part of either. But when Pakistani Muslims invaded Kashmir in an attempt to get it, the Maharaja made Kashmir part of India. The war raged on until 1949 when the United Nations intervened and set up a truce line. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over this territory, which is now divided between them.

Jane Arraf takes a look at the toll the latest clashes have taken on Kashmir's economy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a sign of Kashmir's hard times. Most of the fabled houseboats on Lake Dal are vacant. Indian tourists know Kashmir isn't as dangerous as it may seem, but the real money was in Western tourism. And amid almost daily explosions and clashes at the border with Pakistan, Kashmir's main industry was one of the first casualties.

(on camera): As winter sets in and the government teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, many young people say, with no jobs, they have no future and no hope.

(voice-over): Sometimes the boat workers wait for days just to ferry someone across the lake. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In two days, we stopped business: no tourists, nothing.

ARRAF: The cachet of Kashmir has always been its land and its crafts; there are no heavy industries here. Kashmir's famous textiles are mostly exported with most of the money going to middlemen outside. Here, apart from the government and tourism, there are almost no jobs. But the government says it's run out of money, and Western tourists, likely, won't be back soon.

On what had been a peaceful holiday morning, these shopkeepers in Srinagar are sweeping away the debris from a bomb blast aimed at the ruling party headquarters. It's become one of the costs of doing business. By night, Kashmir's summer capital reverts to the dark ages; no Internet access here with no electricity. Bashir Amir (ph) says he makes about a dollar a day selling kabobs, the only job he can get.

"On these fifty rupees, I have to take care of my father, my mother, my wife and two children," he says. "My father is unemployed. It's very difficult."

He says everyone closes up early because they want to avoid the security forces who come around looking for militants. Most people stay home after dark because of the violence. But in Srinagar's troubled nights, there's an occasional bright spot. This new restaurant and pool hall is one of the few places open at night, and one of the few signs of new investment.

Danish Amer, a young businessman, returned to Kashmir to open it.

DANISH AMER, RESTAURANT OWNER: There are lots of people making money from Kashmir outside Kashmir, so why can't Kashmiris do it?

ARRAF: In some places, playing pool would be a routine pastime. Here, it's a sign of hope.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Srinagar, India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Our next stop is China, where a flailing economy and rising unemployment are causing Chinese to risk their lives for prosperity. Just last December, more than 200 illegal Chinese immigrants were rescued off the Guatemalan coast by the U.S. Coast Guard. Guatemala is a popular destination for Chinese fleeing the poor economy of their homeland. China is hoping to change their economic fate with entry into the World Trade Organization, an organization which cited grave human rights violations as reason for denying China admission.

But back in November, after a 13-year quest, the United States and china signed an agreement that paves the way for China's entry into the WTO.

Rebecca MacKinnon takes a look at China's economic problems. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): These men are happy because the arrival of a boat means a few hours work. The work isn't easy, but they can't be too choosy. Unemployment in China's cities is at a 50-year high and economic growth continues to slide.

Deflation hasn't helped. Consumer prices fell in August for the 23rd month in a row. This woman says she's reluctant to buy things and wants to save as much as possible because, she says, she can't count on always having a job.

Uncertainty about jobs has kept people's savings in the banks despite government attempts to coax it out by slashing interest rates, encouraging consumer loans, and even taxing bank interest.

(on camera): Economists say those measures won't work in the long run because they're treating the symptoms, not the disease.

XU XIAONIAN, ECONOMIST: The money supply did not translate into real demand. Why? The financial sector, the financial system, the commercial banks are not functioning well.

MACKINNON (voice-over): Money-losing state-run enterprises are sucking up billions of dollars of unrecoverable bank loans, and many still can't pay their workers. It's money that could otherwise go to private sector companies capable of generating more and better jobs. Chinese President Jiang Zemin announced tough new measures to speed up enterprise and banking reforms, but ruled out radical privatization as too unsocialist.

In another move to boost employment, at a recent trade fair, state counselor Wu Yi (ph) unveiled new measures to bring in more overseas investment, measures aimed to help people like these, kept outside the gates of the trade fair, and with nothing better to do in the middle of the day but watch for clues to their future.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More from China and the United States as we focus on pandas. Fifteen years ago, on January 12, 1985, giant pandas were added to the endangered species list. It's estimated that only about 1,000 remain in the wild, mostly in mountainous Central China. But there are some in zoos scattered around the world, part of a program to breed and save the endangered species.

The San Diego Zoo in California and Zoo Atlanta in Georgia have the only five giant pandas in the United States. For more on those pandas, check your NEWSROOM archives for November 15. The National Zoo in Washington lost its last remaining panda at the end of November. That's when 28-year-old Hsing Hsing was put to sleep because he was suffering from kidney disease.

Frank Sesno takes a look back at the famous and much loved animal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't just the kids, though they seemed to love the pandas most of all.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: They're cute and cuddly and...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: And they don't really hurt you.

SESNO: It wasn't just the parents, though they reveled in the role of teacher/naturalist on those magical family outings to the zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we hadn't heard the news. We're here from St. Louis to see the panda.

SESNO: No, there was something much more, something very special that transcended the animal kingdom itself, something truly unique. On several levels, Hsing-Hsing was the panda-fication of hope, struggle, innocence. And that's why everyone connected.

He was a political creature, first of all, a gift from the Chinese at a time of Cold War and nuclear threats, a first expression of friendship and tenuous trust. In Washington, a town of ultimate cynicism, Hsing-Hsing became a symbol of what could be.

He was a survivor, a member of one of the most endangered species on the planet. No more than 1,000 left, he put existence itself in perspective.

And he was a loyal partner. He and Ling-Ling, who died in 1992, produced five cubs. None survived. Science did all it could to help, but nature prevailed.

Sure, there are new pandas. Zoo Atlanta has two; the National Zoo is negotiating for another pair. But Atlanta is paying China $10 million. Washington has offered $2.5 million. It feels a bit like major league sports. Even pandas have their price -- innocence lost.

Just like the U.S. and China, from missiles to trade, it's all so contentious and complicated. Hsing-Hsing wasn't like that. He was just as he appeared. He taught us about our world and how fragile life really is. And for the humans who visited him, there was history, drama and a remarkable bond.

Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

BAKHTIAR: In today's "Chronicle," the ripple effects of the blockbuster merger deal proposed by America Online and Time Warner, the parent company of this network. The union of these two media giants would result in the most lucrative merger deal in history. The AOL Time Warner corporation would be worth a staggering $350 billion. That's more than three times the value of the previous biggest merger deal, between telecommunications giants MCI Worldcom and Sprint, worth an estimated $115 billion. The next biggest merger deals all fall under $100 billion. For further details, check yesterday's NEWSROOM program and classroom guide.

Now, teenagers the world over are considered some of the most active residents of cyberspace.

Bruce Burkhardt looks at why they may have a bird's-eye view of this massive merger deal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kyle George (ph) is an 18-year-old senior at the Lovett School in Atlanta. And he's not only up on the Internet, he's pretty savvy about the biz as well.

KYLE GEORGE, STUDENT: AOL's a perfect vehicle for Time Warner's content and commodities that they have.

BURKHARDT: Kyle probably knows more about computers and the Internet than most of us, and certainly more than me.

(on camera): What is MP3?

GEORGE: It's a compression format. It's kind of...

BURKHARDT: Oh, a compression format. That's what I thought.

(voice-over): The reason Kyle knows so much is partly because he's a student who takes classes in computer science. But, it's also because he's 18 years old.

GEORGE: I guess my generation has kind of evolved with the Internet. It didn't really exist in its current form as far as the World Wide Web, and that wasn't invented until 1990 or '91.

BURKHARDT: Though sports and schoolwork take up a lot of his time, Kyle says that the computer is still his predominant activity. What television was to baby boomers, the Internet is to Kyle's generation.

According to a recent study, 69 percent of kids now have a computer at home. And about half of those have access to the Internet.

ANYA SACHAROW, ANALYST, JUPITER COMMUNICATIONS: And so I think what teens will become accustomed to is a different experience of community than their parents or, you know, certainly than their grandparents ever knew. So I can be part of an on-line community that targets my interests but maybe not be immediately geographically possible.

BURKHARDT (on camera): So what's this? GEORGE: This is the Instant Messenger software.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): And as television has lost some customers to the Internet, so, too, has the telephone.

BURKHARDT (on camera): So this is your buddy list?

GEORGE: Yes, this is one of my friends.

BURKHARDT: You only have one buddy.

GEORGE: It's one that's on-line right now.

BURKHARDT: Oh, the only one that's on-line.

GEORGE: Yes.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): Chat services like AOL's Instant Messenger have fundamentally altered the way teenagers communicate. In fact, there isn't much about being a teenager that hasn't been impacted by the Internet: school work and research.

(on camera): It's too easy on the Internet. I mean, the old detective work that you had to do in a library kids don't do anymore.

GEORGE: I don't agree because it takes a lot of skill to know how to search on the Internet and get relevant results.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): But perhaps it's the entertainment area where the Internet has had its most profound impact.

GEORGE: What's starting to pop up lately is different interactive games. I know that a lot of people -- there's like a Jeopardy kind of interactive game where you play against other people.

BURKHARDT (on camera): In live time?

GEORGE: Yes, in real time.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): MP3, for oldsters, another annoying example of cyberspeak. But for kids, it's technology you can dance to.

GEORGE: MP3 is just like a regular file on your -- you know, on your...

BURKHARDT (on camera): I see..

GEORGE: ... on your hard drive.

BURKHARDT: I see.

(voice-over): Music, as well as movies, will soon be as available as Solitaire. And the relevance of that to the merger was not lost on Kyle. GEORGE: AOL's got 12 million or so subscribers now. Time Warner's got all this content that just enables them to reach a much broader audience.

BURKHARDT: And how did Kyle find out about the big story? How else?

GEORGE: "AOL to buy Time Warner for $166 billion."

BURKHARDT: Bruce Burkhardt, "CNN NEWSSTAND."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: And that does it for us here on NEWSROOM.

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