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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for May 24, 2000

Aired May 24, 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: Kicking off Wednesday on NEWSROOM, I'm Andy Jordan.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. We begin with the withdrawal in the Middle East.

JORDAN: In today's top story, after years of military presence in southern Lebanon, Israel pulls out its troops, leaving the area in disarray.

BAKHTIAR: In "Business Desk," how good employees in the United States are going to the highest bidder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRAUN, SERVICE TECHNICIAN: I could get a job tomorrow if I needed to. It's not that big of a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: "Worldview" looks at harnassing the power of star athletes in the world of business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONNY SEARLE, ASHURST MORRIS CRISP: If I meet someone and I'm an Olympic rower, then I suspect they're slightly more likely to at least talk to me for a minute or two before they find out I'm a lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: Then in "Chronicle," you've picked the college of your dreams, now find out what the college of your dreams is looking for in you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRAN LAPIDUS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: The kids from less sophisticated environments who have gone beyond their settings and beyond the pale to bring their own curiosity or passion to the fore is really remarkable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: Today's top story takes us back to the border separating southern Lebanon and northern Israel. That's where the Israeli Army is retreating after holding parts of the border area for 22 years. Now there's an ebb and flow of retreating Israeli soldiers, Muslim guerrillas, other soldiers, civilians caught in the middle. Israel is withdrawing from a self-declared security zone, what Arabs call occupied territory. While parts of Lebanon have been held by Israel since 1976, much of the area in question has been occupied since 1985.

You can check out yesterday's program and classroom guide for more background on the situation, but here are some key players along the border. Hezbollah is a militant Islamic guerrilla group dedicated to ending the Jewish state's occupation of southern Lebanon. The group points to a U.N. resolution calling for Israel's withdrawal as justification for its attacks over the years. The SLA, or Southern Lebanon Army, is made up of Lebanese soldiers who are loyal to the Israeli Army.

The SLA's future along with the future of the border area so long controlled by Israeli soldiers are both up in the air.

Brent Sadler has more on the aftermath of Israeli withdrawal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israel's long occupation of the southern tip of Lebanon is coming to an abrupt end, leaving a security vacuum in its wake. That vacuum is being filled for now at least by Lebanon's Islamic resistance led by Hezbollah, guerrillas swarming into newly abandoned areas together with Lebanese civilian sympathizers.

Shiite Muslim communities were overjoyed by the takeover, welcoming the new arrivals with showers of rice and rose petals. Many villagers said they felt free for the first time in the 22 years of Israel's presence.

As guerrilla-accompanied convoys moved deeper into once occupied territory, Israeli helicopter gunships seemed to be putting up covering fire for the rapidly unfolding Israeli retreat, attempts by the Israelis to prevent heavy weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah apparently failing in some cases.

The guerrillas seized large quantities of once Israeli-controlled fire power. They commandeered old but still-functioning Russian-made tanks and made off with armored personnel carriers that had been under SLA control only hours earlier, Hezbollah and its newly captured armor moving into what they call "liberated" land.

There was no sign of the central governments's official Lebanese Army moving into areas where access is now free. And no extended role as yet for United Nations peacekeepers as dramatic events on the ground overtake the Security Council's efforts to ensure a smooth Israeli pullout.

After wholesale surrenders and mass desertions, the SLA is now a defunct fighting force, one-time militiamen facing Lebanese justice and an uncertain future.

(on camera): Long-held territory has been evacuated by Israel and its allies at an alarming pace. But the immediate aftermath, say independent military sources, should not stay in its current shape for very much longer, and intense international efforts to stabilize border security are now under way.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JORDAN: As we near the end of the school year, some of you may have your sights set on getting a summer job. And if the current low unemployment rate in the United States is any indication, chances are you'll have no trouble getting one. For people looking for work, low unemployment usually means finding a job won't be too hard.

However, for companies doing the hiring, low unemployment means a smaller number of workers to choose from. In that case, companies are faced with a challenge of attracting good workers and keeping them.

Tony Clark looks at some employees benefiting from the low unemployment rate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lithia Centennial Chrysler-Jeep, how can I help you?

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Lithia Chrysler- Plymouth in Denver, prospective salesmen are offered a $2,000 signing bonus.

RICK SAMU, GENERAL SALES MANAGER: It's actually a longevity bonus to stay for three months.

CLARK: With 2.6 unemployment in Denver, competition for qualified workers is tougher than it's been in years. This car dealership is having to pour on the pay and benefits to get and keep good workers.

FRANK MELILLO, SERVICE DIRECTOR: When they come in your building, they're -- that's what they want to know: What can you do for me? What insurance? How much do you pay of my insurance? Where do I park may car? Do you have stock options?

CLARK: And the competition for employees isn't just from other car dealerships. Nearby fast-food restaurants can steal employees, too.

MELILLO: If McDonalds will pay you $10 an hour to go flip hamburgers, how hard is it for us to get an entry person that really has no experience?

CLARK: Tom Braun has worked in Lithia's service department nearly four years. Demand for skilled technicians like him is so high he can work wherever he wants.

BRAUN: I could get a job tomorrow if I needed to. It's not that big of a deal.

CLARK: For Braun, the benefits are a plus. But the most important thing:

BRAUN: It all comes down -- the bottom line is how much they're going to pay you an hour. That's the biggest thing.

CLARK: And that means his boss is getting squeezed.

BROOKE LASENBERY, BUSINESS MANAGER: Our grosses are going down, but our costs for the employees is going up. So our profit, our net gross, is suffering.

CLARK: And that profit squeeze will likely continue as long as the job market is tight and good employees go to the highest bidder.

Tony Clark, CNN, Denver.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

BAKHTIAR: "Worldview" today takes us to the workplace. Come along for a journey into jobs and more. We'll head to Great Britain to find out what's suitable in the office. Keep an eye out for our very own Tom Haynes. He'll pop in our show-and-tell.

Find out how athletes get a leg up in business and what it takes to achieve goals on and off the field. And check out a new newscaster. She's a virtual hit, but she'd better not come after my job, as we find out what's ahead in the world of broadcasting.

JORDAN: England may have given the world cricket, association football and rugby football, but team sports tend to be moving over for one-on-one recreational activities. With the traditional afternoon tea a prime example, the English remain a domestic bunch.

Figuring into that formula is the latest innovation in how Britons get their news. Britain's domestic wire service, The Press Association, has just unveiled what it calls the world's first virtual newscaster.

Richard Blystone introduces us to Ananova, who will be able to interact with news users.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANANOVA, VIRTUAL NEWSCASTER: I can't tell you how much I've looked forward to this moment. I've been locked in the room for 12 months with nothing but geeks and techies for company.

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ananova displays the personality her creators hope will captivate 21st century news consumers.

MARK HIRD, PUBLISHING DIRECTOR, ANANOVA.COM: It's important that Ananova becomes someone who you warm to and who you trust.

ANANOVA: This morning, I am keeping a close watch on the London stock market.

BLYSTONE: The age, 28, the gender, the features and the mid- Atlantic accent all carefully calculated to make all kinds of men and women want to access her. What turns her on? Text.

Ananova's computer scans incoming stories and orders up syllables and inflection. Lest she smile at a sad story:

HIRD: The producers press that button and that embeds into the text some emotions and some actions associated with that information that they've given them.

BLYSTONE: This may be a smile or a virtual gas pain, but Ananova's a work in progress.

ANANOVA: Every day I feel slightly more human. OK, I have a little way to go, but you should have seen me before they fixed this.

BLYSTONE: There's less of Ananova on screen than there is of most anchors. That's because soon she'll have to fit onto your telephone.

VIVIAN ADSHEAD, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, ANANOVA.COM: Yes, she does have a body, and we will be getting to see that in due course.

BLYSTONE: News' newest talking head soon will model designer fashions. She'll guide you around the Internet. You'll be able to talk with her, order tickets or flowers.

HIRD: As our personalization technology develops, the technology will be there for you to say, I want her in a Welsh accent with blonde hair.

BLYSTONE: But what kind of people will want to bond with an electronic puppet? Busy people, they say.

ADSHEAD: She actually helps you cut through the clutter of the Internet.

BLYSTONE: But liking and trust?

ADSHEAD: These are things that you just can't program in. People have to use Ananova and get to know her, and then start to build a relationship with her.

BLYSTONE (on camera): As it happens, now playing to packed houses in London is a futuristic comedy called "Comic Potential." It's about a robot actress whose circuits go all funny and she starts mocking her owners and falling in love.

(voice-over): Could that happen to Ananova?

ADSHEAD: With all this technology and artificial intelligence coming ahead, who knows?

BLYSTONE: If you do get out of line, Ananova, beware the erase button. They could always come up with a virtual Leonardo DiCaprio.

Richard Blystone, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: To succeed in business, it usually take a good combination of smarts, energy, teamwork and a winning attitude. So it would make sense for a successful athlete to make it in the world of business, right? Well, many companies think so. They're looking to athletes to breathe new life into management, people who have made a mark in the world of sports. But harnassing the power of star sports men and women to the business environment is no easy task. What makes a high achiever in competition doesn't always translate well into the office.

Christian Mahne explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIAN MAHNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The loneliness of the long-distance rower: drive, determination, passion, all qualities you need for a successful solicitor?

SEARLE: If I meet someone, and say I'm a lawyer, people turn their back on me at conference. If I meet someone and I'm an Olympic rower, then I suspect they're slightly more likely to at least talk to me for a minute or two before they find out I'm a lawyer.

MAHNE: Jonny Searle combines his twin passions of law and rowing. But what seems like an unusual combination can make sound managerial sense.

MATT HASTINGS, INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT: Getting people who've had experience of different areas of life, no matter how disconnected from what you might think the core business world is about, is not a bad thing.

MAHNE: Harnassing the sportsman's competitive streak in the business environment is the key, but there are risks.

HASTINGS: Many sports people who have been very centered on their own achievement and their own performance, then when they're put into a team-working environment tend to struggle, can have some problems relating to other people, and also encouraging other people to succeed as well. MAHNE: One of the hardest things to bring with you is your old reputation, as champion jockey Richard Dunwoody found out when he swapped his saddle for the office.

RICHARD DUNWOODY, DUNWOODY SPORTS MARKETING: I think coming from sport, I thought -- I suppose in a way I expected to walk in through doors and automatically do business. But it doesn't happen like that. You're still -- once you get in through those doors, you've still got to go in and provide a very, very good service and do a good job.

MAHNE: Winning for both sport and business alike isn't everything, it's the only thing.

Christian Mahne, CNN Financial News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

"Clothes make the man."

--Attributed to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), American author, 1835-1910

(END GRAPHIC)

HAYNES: You don't buy that? You don't think clothes make the man or the woman, as it were? Well, try walking into a job interview like this and chances are you'll come out the same way you went it -- jobless. Instead, try an ensemble like this. It's a little more conservative and serious, but it says, hey, I'm mature and I'm ready to work. Then, if you ace the interview, you'll not only be employed, but you may even get to wear something like this to work. It's what we in the working world call "business casual": somewhere between your Saturday knock-arounds and your Sunday best.

Still don't get it? Well, you're not alone. Some British suit- makers are having their own problems with dressing down.

Tom Bogdanovich explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BOGDANOVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the city of London where pin-stripe or gray was once a uniform, casual clothes are becoming part of corporate life. Dress-down policies mean no ties, no suits, and no profits for the menswear trade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I wear to work?

BOGDANOVICH (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Generally, casual clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, fortunately for me, it's casual dress at work. BOGDANOVICH (voice-over): But the change is painful for High Street retailers like the Arcadia Group, which is closing its Principles chain for men. Mens Outfitter Moss Bros. has cut suit prices. It says the new casual yet smart dress code confuses some customers.

SUSAN AUBREY-COUND, MOSS BROS.: We found that men are very focussed customers. And when they don't know what to buy, they don't buy anything at all, and I think that's had a huge impact on the market at the moment.

BOGDANOVICH: Austin Reed has seen sales of traditional suits come down from some 20 percent of its business three years ago to 12 percent. Economists say dress-down adds to industry problems.

RICHARD HYMAN, VERDICT RESEARCH: It comes on top of a very, very depressed marketplace anyway. It's a market that was already generating no growth at all with negative inflation thrown in.

BOGDANOVICH: But both Moss Bros. and Austin Reed say the new dress code brings new opportunities. They're offering new ranges of what's called business casualwear.

MICHAEL RIFFIN, AUSTIN REED: And the development of that has actually offset our decline in our suit business. And the growth of that and our general jacket business means that we've weathered the storm very well.

BOGDANOVICH: And if more stores can persuade men to switch from formal suits to up-market business casual, rather than just jeans, they could be back in the money.

(on camera): The typical suit and tie outfit costs around $450 at Austin Reed. Changing into the less formal blazer, casual shirt and cotton trousers may alter your image, but it will make exactly the same dent in your wallet.

Tom Bogdanovich, CNN Financial News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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 you 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: We focus on life "After the Bell" in today's "Chronicle." Many of you will be or have been strutting down your high school graduation line to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance." Those who have probably already have been through a process some of you still face: getting into a good college. Sixty-five percent of U.S. students go on to college. For those, the science of applying for college is a precise one. Admissions boards consider grades. They also look at standardized test scores like SAT or ACT. There are letters of recommendation and personal essays.

Stephen Frazier gets a peak into the process one admissions board went through, and it's not as simple as you might think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD NESBITT, DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: Let me just go through the cards for this kid because I think it's one that could be interesting.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring comes so late to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Williams can be so bleak in early April, they send a student once a day to play the school song on church bells to remind them what's out there past all the clouds: the mountains. But it is a thrilling time for the admission officers crowding around this conference table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And after I won the Nobel Prize, I went to the countryside and delivered gold to all the people. I am now Robinhood.

FRAZIER: Robinhood? Nobel Prize? All joking aside, even the most experienced officers on this staff still get impressed -- no -- excited by the accomplishments of high schoolers applying here.

NESBITT: And you have the testing -- 780 verbal, 770 math, 700 Math II, world history 73, world -- writing -- sorry -- 800: a scholar who cares not for grades.

FRAZIER: That's admission director Richard Nesbitt presenting notes from three of his colleagues...

NESBITT: Deep thinker, good writer, fascinating family; mom's a former nun, dad almost a former priest.

(LAUGHTER)

FRAZIER: ... about a basketball co-captain and newspaper editor from a private academy in small-town Louisiana. And with those scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests, all at or near the top score of 800, he's the kind of kid most colleges would admit in a second.

NESBITT: He's not a good detail guy, but, oh, won't he be great on the big picture. When he sets his sights, I bet he's impressive.

FRAZIER: Maybe so, but here he is not a quick admit. They'll talk about him for 15 minutes.

NESBITT: He's a National Merit finalist.

FRAZIER: And at times, it doesn't sound good. NESBITT: Guidance counselor says he's a true scholar, brilliant, loyal, but checks him back for academic achievement. He has great aptitude, but he still has a lot of the Bs. He hates busywork, apparently. I'm sort of leaning toward wait list on my card.

FRAZIER: Some of that time is spent rating academic performance. Williams uses a scale of 1 to 9, 1 being the highest. And this is the table a reader uses to calculate the rating. A 5 "ac" student smack in the middle of that scale would have College Board scores averaging 660 points. Moving across, there's her score times two -- they using that as a shorthand sometimes. She'd have average ACT scores of 29, grades that would rank her higher than 90 percent of her class, and her average score on advanced placement tests would be 4.

But to include her in its class of 2004, which will contain 528 students, Williams considers other factors not visible on the table. Did she take the most challenging courses offered in her school program, the most demanding teachers? Did she just sit in class or drive discussion forward? Even if her opportunities were slim, did she make the most of them?

LAPIDUS: The kids from less sophisticated environments who have gone beyond their settings and beyond the pale to bring their own curiosity or passion to the fore is really remarkable.

FRAZIER (on camera): Worth having on campus?

LAPIDUS: Really worth having on campus.

FRAZIER (voice-over): Look at the stats on the ac 1s or ac 2s -- raw academic power. And hundreds of these apply to Williams every year.

NESBITT: We could easily fill our class to two or three times with, you know, just straight academic 1s and 2s. If you, for instance, took all straight academic 1s, you would have a very strong class academically probably. You probably might not have an orchestra. You certainly wouldn't have a football team, and, you know, it probably wouldn't be -- you know, it wouldn't be a very interesting group of people.

FRAZIER: So, non-academic accomplishments are also rated on a scale of 1 to 6. They break out categories from athletics through publications, music, public service, all sorts of visual and performing arts, religious and political activism, science clubs, even after school or summer jobs. Then they rank the intensity of commitment or the level of attainment. Here's student government: A student elected to class council gets a moderate ranking. The council president gets a top local ranking. Someone elected to lead boy state government is ranked top regional.

Nowadays, says assistant director, Karen Parkinson, Williams prefers students who pursue fewer activities for a longer time.

KAREN PARKINSON, ASSISTANT DIR. OF ADMISSIONS, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: It's one of the things that we're looking at in the extracurriculars, that students have been involved for a length of time or to a very deep degree.

NESBITT: We feel there's a correlation between those students and how, though, they'll perform in the classroom.

FRAZIER: They ask students to document their interests and send in evidence. Then they send that work to professors or coaches for an evaluation.

NESBITT: Photography -- she's got four years of that.

FRAZIER: The photographs of one applicant from a day school on the West Coast kept her in the running.

NESBITT: This is somewhat significant. She did submit a portfolio of slides. Aida it the one who did the evaluation.

PROF. AIDA LALEIAN, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: It seemed like she had an extensive background in the medium and that the work was pretty intelligent.

FRAZIER: Associate professor of art Aida Laleian.

LALEIAN: I look at it as this is a strength that the student brings to the college, not necessarily that they're going to be art majors or working photography.

FRAZIER: They asked Peter Farwell, who coaches women's and men's track, for his judgment on a football captain and shotputter from a private Catholic school in a part of Oklahoma they didn't know well.

PETER FARWELL, TRACK COACH, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: They said, well, he's on the edge. Is he good? And I said, well, he's a very good one that will be able to score in meets for us. Not necessarily an NCAA candidate at this point, but eventually could, you know, could really impact.

NESBITT: Very fine student, and he gives us a little bit of geographical diversity with Oklahoma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's a hard worker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Top of his class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He worked at a lumber yard in the summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really like that.

MATTHEW SWANSON, ASSISTANT DIR. OF ADMISSIONS, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: And I think there's room for getting behind a kid.

FRAZIER: Assistant director Matthew Swanson says most applications never make it this far, weeded out earlier. But once here, the committee will listen to advocacy. One reader can help a student get in.

SWANSON: If you have a reader who's really impassioned or inspired by a kid, that reader can really make it happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy just is not afraid of hard work. He got his hands dirty, and I just find that really commendable.

NESBITT: OK. How many would like to include? How many would like to middle?

FRAZIER: The shotputter was included in the class. So was the photographer. And the ballplayer from Louisiana? They included him, too. Richard Nesbitt signed their acceptance letters and the other admissions officers helped prepare them for mailing, on their way to anxious seniors, to moments those seniors might never forget, like these undergraduates looking back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was asleep and my dad had gotten the letter and he went ahead and opened it and woke me up, and it was really exciting. And he kind of picked me up and hugged me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found out on April 1, April Fool's Day. So for a split second, I thought it might be a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was bouncing around the room and screaming, and my mom was running around in circles, and it was really cool.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Well, it's getting harder and harder to get into college these days.

JORDAN: That's right, and it's not all about As.

BAKHTIAR: Next week, a look at the changing face of historically black colleges in the United States.

JORDAN: Wolf Blitzer visits Bluefield State College where African-American students are now the minority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as knowing that it's a black college, you wouldn't know it because of that. I mean, you wouldn't notice that because it's predominantly white.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: That's next week in "Chronicle." And for us, we're out of here.

JORDAN: We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye.

BAKHTIAR: Bye.

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