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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for October 5, 2000

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


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Hello, I'm Shelley Walcott, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Here's a peek at today's lineup.

Politics tops today's agenda as Small Town America gets ready to play its part in election 2000.

Moving ahead to "Science Desk," we discover technology paving the way between the sighted and the blind.

"Worldview" surfs the Net and lands in China, a nation greeting the Internet with both excitement and anxiety.

We're still online in "Chronicle," where we'll meet a teen screen queen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... zero and liftoff of Columbia...


WALCOTT: ... from cyberspace to outer space, we'll explore the issue of man versus machine.

Presidential debate season is in full swing in the United States. Tonight, the vice presidential candidates square off in Kentucky. Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Joe Lieberman will take the stage for the first time in Danville. It will be their only opportunity to introduce themselves in such a format live to a national audience. They have pretty much the same assignment: talk up their bosses, who made their debate debut Tuesday.

The question is, do veep debates influence voters?

Jeanne Meserve looks at some of the most memorable moments of past vice presidential debates.



GORE: I'd like to start by offering you a deal, Jack. If you won't use any football stories, I won't tell any of my warm and humorous stories about chlorofluorocarbon abatement.



JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Warm and fuzzy vice presidential debates are the exception. Usually the second-slot contenders do the slicing and dicing for the ticket.


SEN. LLOYD BENTSEN (D-TX), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.



MESERVE: It hit. It hurt. And it resonated four years later when Dan Quayle debated Al Gore.


GORE: I'll make you a deal this evening. If you don't try to compare George Bush to Harry Truman, I won't compare you to Jack Kennedy.



MESERVE: That debate, however, was most memorable for its third participant.





MESERVE: The debate was rough and it was raucous.


HAL BRUNO, MODERATOR: I would like to remind the audience of one thing. Trying to stop you from applauding may be a lost cause. I didn't say anything about hissing, but I do think it is discourteous.


MESERVE: And then, towards the end, Admiral Stockdale started fumbling around, looking for something.

BRUNO: And he said, I lost my hearing aid. And I almost blurted out, you may be the luckiest man in America. But there was a guardian angel on my shoulder that prevented me from doing that.

MESERVE: In the annals of vice presidential debates, there have been some famous flubs.


SEN. ROBERT DOLE (R-KS), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit.


BRUNO: It had a devastating impact, and even more so because it came in the aftermath of the previous week's presidential debate in which President Ford had made the blunder or made the misstatement about the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe.

MESERVE: But vice presidential debates only have a big impact when the presidential race is close. When Geraldine Ferraro told off George Bush in the 1984 vice presidential debate, it was too late for the Mondale ticket.


GERALDINE FERRARO (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.



WALCOTT: Small Town, U.S.A. will grab the national spotlight today with Danville, Kentucky hosting the vice presidential debate. The town has been gearing up for the big night for weeks, and residents consider it a really big deal.

Here again is Jeanne Meserve.


MESERVE (voice-over): One member of the debate audience has already been escorted into the hall by his fraternity brothers. He is "Dead Fred," a portrait of Centre College graduate and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Vinson. He died in 1953, but Fred regularly makes appearances at his school's football games.

MIKE NORRIS, CENTRE COLLEGE: And since he was such an eminent political figure and we're having a general election debate, these guys thought it made sense that Fred should go to the debates.

MESERVE: No live ticket holders will be displaced. Dead Fred has a special chair of honor on a ledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tilt him a little bit more towards the stage so he can see.

MESERVE: From there, Fred oversees debate preparations: lights, cameras -- no real action yet, just a moderator walkthrough. One of the volunteers here is displaying her political stripes and stars on her fingernails. Another marvels that nothing this big has ever hit this town.

ANN LEE, DEBATE VOLUNTEER: Never, never, never. No, the closest thing we have to a big crowd is watching the Derby on television in May -- the first Saturday in May.

MESERVE: Danville, population 20,000, proclaims itself the "City of Firsts": the West's first college, first political club, first post office, and now it's having it's first national political debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does this mean for a town this size?


MESERVE: Downtown has donned new paint and plants. Some store windows strive for bipartisanship, but one promotes a cheesecake debate, tempting patrons to vote for Cheney Chocolate Almond or Caramel Lieberman.

(on camera): And why did you vote for the Lieberman caramel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn't the caramel, it was the Lieberman.

MESERVE (voice-over): One jarring site on Main Street, right next to Democratic headquarters, Republican headquarters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were here first.

MESERVE: Both Bush and Gore partisans deny their posters hide holes for spying and eavesdropping. No Watergate skullduggery here.

The "Thrill in the 'Ville," as they call it here, has even engaged those below voting age, and the excitement is even evident in the city's rural outskirts.

STEVENS: I'm proud of the town and I'm proud to be its mayor. And God willing, I'll be mayor for another 25 years.

MESERVE (on camera): And this debate won't hurt, will it?

STEVENS: This debate won't hurt, you're right.

MESERVE (voice-over): Well, we know one politician is going to come out a winner, and the debate hasn't even begun. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Danville, Kentucky.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Making headlines today, the results of Yugoslavia's presidential election, now null and void. That country's constitutional court has annulled parts of last month's election, calling for a new presidential vote but allowing results of the parliamentary election to stand.

Opponents say President Slobodan Milosevic had been defeated in the first round of balloting by opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica. They say he refuses to accept his loss and leave office. Opponents say yesterday's court announcement will not quell their anti-Milosevic campaign.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Opposition leaders also say their campaign of street demonstrations will continue. The court ruling did not change the opposition strategy much, since they were not going to participate in a second round of voting anyway.

Earlier, 25 miles south of Belgrade, just outside the Kolubara Mines, a tense standoff between protesters and police lasted all day. Miners first use a bus to try to break through police barricade, then later a bulldozer. But police, in general, posed little resistance when miners managed to break through the cordon, an indication perhaps of the police unwillingness to clash harder with protesters at a time of political uncertainty.


WALCOTT: Yesterday, we told you about a modern-day hero, Vincent Martin, a blind pentathlete who's helping open the world to the visually impaired. Well, in today's "Science Desk," the latest advancements in technology to help the blind, including some new inventions that could help lead blind people into the workforce. We'll have more on this coming up in "Worldview."

First, this "Science Desk" report by Aziza Baccouche.


AZIZA BACCOUCHE, CNN FREELANCE PRODUCER (voice-over): Whether it's reading a book or surfing the Internet, accessing the written word can often be time-consuming for people with sight impairments. At this year's 60th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, the latest in technology is bridging the world of the sighted and the sightless.

From braille output devices to screen-enlargement and speech software, this technology is giving blind people the tools to do everyday tasks, like reading mail, filling out forms, or even accessing the Internet, tasks which otherwise would require help. CURTIS CHONG, NATL. FED. OF THE BLIND: We see technology offering a good many things that some people want: talking computers, access to print that you convert into speech.

STEVE SHELTON, ALLTEL INFORMATION CENTER: I use a software package called JAWS, which is a screen-reader technology. It uses synthetic computer speech to read information that's on the screen

BACCOUCHE (on camera): In spite of these technological advances, 74 percent of working-age blind people in the United States remain unemployed. Advocates for the blind say that while many blind people have the education, skills and desire to work, often the problem is employers' perceptions and attitudes about what blind people can and cannot do.

BARBARA PIERCE, NTL, FED. OF THE BLIND: Sighted employers presume that vision is essential for doing the jobs that they are hiring for. They have had no reason to have any imagination about how their jobs could be done a different way.

BACCOUCHE (voice-over): An all-too-familiar story to Carlo Giuliano, a computer expert who is blind.

CARLO GIULIANO, COMPUTER EXPERT: Mainly, I've sent my resume out on the Internet through, like, or, you know, those type of job Web sites. So far I've gotten responses like, sorry, we don't have anything to fit your match right now. If we find something, we'll let you know, you know, that whole spiel.

BACCOUCHE: Armed with this technology, Carlo and others like him hope that employers will now recognize that blind people can be just as competitive as their sighted counterparts in the workplace.

Aziza Baccouche for CNN, Atlanta, Georgia.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we'll have more on technology to help the blind as we visit Vietnam. And we'll hear about Internet censorship in China. In the United States, we'll sail into Chesapeake Bay to check out a disappearing way of life. And it's a feast for the senses as we journey to Japan.

Japan is a country off the coast of East Asia, sandwiched between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. It's an island chain with high mountains and volcanoes. The Japanese people are highly educated and the country has a high standard of living. Japan is one of the world's leading post-industrial societies. Some of its chief products are cars and chemicals, electronic equipment and scientific instruments.

But Japan is also known for its rice and tea. And if the chefs in our next story have their way, it could also be known for its confectionery concoctions.

Denise Dillon tells a sweet story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENISE DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This beautiful pink flower, this Bonsai tree and the birds all look as if they could be found in a Japanese garden. But they're all edible. They're candy sculptures.

These candies were created by master sweetmakers who say their treats really are too good to eat. Though the ingredients are edible, the sculptures would make an expensive snack, costing close to $4,000.

SENJI DOMON, MASTER SWEETMAKER (through translator): Regular sweets taste good and are attractive to look at, but candy sculptures aren't for eating, and all the effort is put into making the sculpture look good.

DILLON: Depending on the design, a sculpture can take at least three weeks to complete. And if kept in a cool, dry place, the sculptures can last for months.

Master sweetmaker Senji Domon has been creating candy sculptures for 30 years. Now he shares his techniques with apprentices, teaching them how to turn bean paste, rice powder and sugar into works of art.

SUMIKO KOSUGE, APPRENTICE (through translator): I saw how unusual ingredients can be used to make sweets, which was interesting.

DILLON: The candy sculptures start on paper. The images are the blueprints for candy that will be shaped and formed into birds or flowers or practically anything else. In the end, it's the smallest details that matter most. Here, the final touch is added: a tiny gold leaf.

Candy art began more than a hundred years ago when sweetmakers made candy flowers as window decorations to attract more customers. Today, the candy sculptures still attract those with sweet tooths and an eye for art.

Denise Dillon, CNN.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Next stop, the U.S. and the state of Maryland, one of the Midatlantic states. Maryland is divided by the Chesapeake Bay. That bay was a place once famous for its oysters. They thrived so well here that, legend has it, when Captain John Smith sailed up the bay to Virginia nearly 400 years ago, his ship ran aground on one of the thousands of oyster bars just below the surface.

While that remains a legend, it's true in the late 1800s fishermen brought in about 24 million bushels of oysters each year. Today, in large part because of such overfishing, the oyster business in Chesapeake Bay is all but gone. Gone, too, for the most part, are the proud sailing ships called "skipjacks" that once harvested the shellfish.

But as Kathleen Koch reports, efforts are under way to preserve what's left of the last commercial sailing fleet in the U.S.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's another workday for Captain Wade Murphy and the Rebecca Ruark, at 114, Maryland's oldest skipjack. A fleet of 700 vessels like this once dredged the Chesapeake Bay for oysters.

WADE MURPHY, CAPTAIN, REBECCA RUARK: If I happen to check out, don't bury me at sea, bring me back in.


KOCH: But now, seven months a year, Murphy hauls tourists.

MURPHY: You can't make a living entirely catching oysters anymore since the decline of oysters. But since I've been doing sailing charters, I use the boat 12 months a years.

KOCH: Only 10 of the single-masted skipjacks still go oystering. In the off-season, Murphy has permission to dredge a lick to check the size of the shellfish.

MURPHY: See how fat they are? That oyster is fat as butter.

KOCH: The Rebecca Ruark sank in a gale off Tillman Island last year.

MURPHY: It blew my sails away at about 40-mile-an-hour, 50-mile- an-hour winds.

KOCH: And it was then that Maryland realized its historic skipjacks were in jeopardy.

LOUISE HAYMAN, EXEC. DIR., MARYLAND 2000: We clearly felt that the skipjacks were one of our treasures and we needed to take a serious look, and quickly, at whether the skipjack fleet could be maintained.

KOCH: So the state loosened fishing restrictions on the aging boats, set up a loan fund for skippers, and a charitable restoration program at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

RICHARD SCOFIELD, CHESAPEAKE BAY MARITIME MUSEUM BOAT SHOP: It is harder to restore a boat than it is to build a boat new. You not only have to take it apart, but you have to work with what is there, fit new pieces to it.

JOHN VALLIANT, EXEC. DIR., CHESAPEAKE BAY MARITIME MUSEUM: By saving these vessels, we believe we're really saving the way of life, the culture.

MURPHY: I'll sell them for as much as $32 a bushel, and I'll sell them for $2 a bushel.

KOCH: A way of life some will never abandon.

MURPHY: It's like you're living with the wind, the weather. It gets part of you. And when you're dredging under sail, you're part of the boat, you feel like you're part of the elements, and I just love to do it.

KOCH: Kathleen Koch, for CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: On to China, a huge country in Asia and home of one of the world's oldest civilizations. Its written history alone dates back over 3,000 years. China is proud of its heritage and the influence it's had on other lands. But now some say China is trying avoid outside influence on its own culture. The Chinese government recently stopped a pro-democracy Web site. That's a form of censorship or the control of what people may say, hear, write or read.

With more on the crackdown, here's Allison Tom.


ALLISON TOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to official figures, Internet usage in China has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year to 70 million users. It's a sign that online growth in the world's most populous country is booming.

But recently, state security police shut down one of the first pro-democracy Web sites in China. The move highlights the dilemma faced by Chinese leaders: how to promote the web's economic benefits while at the same time block its use in spreading opposition to Communist Party rule.

China's leaders have urged officials and state-controlled media to beef up Chinese Web sites, to create a positive image of the country. And according to the official Xinhua news agency, dozens of Chinese cities plan to set up special units to police Internet activity.

Officials regularly block Web sites deemed politically sensitive or harmful. But human rights organizations say savvy Internet users are finding several ways to get around existing barriers. For them and many others, the Net offers a unique opportunity to publicly express their opinions.

XIAO QIANG, EXEC. DIR., HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA: The Internet is a tremendous tool for the human rights activists who -- both inside of China and outside China to communicate each other.

TOM: Analysts say China's restrictive view of the Web is not likely to change anytime soon. And the fight to access freely distributed information on the Net will probably get worse before it gets better.

Allison Tom, CNN.


HAYNES: More on the Internet from Allison Tom now as we turn from China to Vietnam. But unlike China, Vietnam is not trying to restrict access. Instead, it's trying to open up the world to a group of disabled students and teachers.


TOM (voice-over): This is the Bung Sang School in Ho Chi Minh City. The name means "flashlight" in Vietnamese, and it is becoming a beacon for the visually impaired by using computers and the Internet.

The multimedia project allows students to access books, articles and other reading materials they otherwise might never have been able to.

Visually impaired teachers also are getting training.

AMADEO PIGNATELLI, PROFESSOR, BUNG SANG SCHOOL: Objective of the project is to create a group of teachers so that the teachers will be able to teach others in the community and outside the community to use the computer and access the digital library, which means books that have never been available for the blind in Vietnamese to read. TOM: The need for materials is huge. Each year, only a dozen or so Vietnamese books are converted into Braille. To help increase that number, a Braille printer at the school makes a wider selection of reading materials accessible. The project is combined with the school's other main curriculum: music.

The school's founder says computers allow students to embrace both their passions and their talents.

Allison Tom, CNN.


WALCOTT: Barring bad weather, shuttle Discovery is scheduled to leave for the International Space Station this evening. The assembly mission is slated to include four spacewalks. Touted as one of the most difficult and daring to date, this trip is special for other reasons. It's the shuttle program's 100th launch, a milestone that raises the age-old question: When it comes to science, who's leading the way, man or machine?

John Zarrella breaks it down.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): From the start of the space age, it was a given: humans had to be in the loop; they had to be on top of those rockets.

JOHN LOGSDON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: The classic memo that recommended Project Apollo to President Kennedy said, it's man not machines that captures the imagination of the world. ZARRELLA: That worked while NASA was landing men on the moon. Then, the space agency changed direction. Instead of going beyond the moon, the shuttle was born.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero and lift off of Columbia with a microgravity science laboratory.

ZARRELLA: Critics charge the shuttle is a glorified truck and NASA spends too much money flying humans round the earth, not really going any place. But it's machines that have done a great deal of the science and captured imaginations, exploring the planets of the solar system and roaming the surface of Mars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the rover on its way to Yogi.

ZARRELLA: All of that accomplished with a fraction of the money spent on flying humans in the shuttle.

DOUG STETSON, MGR., SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION: And we know that we can take the appropriate level of risk and minimize the cost for each individual mission.

ZARRELLA: NASA says the shuttle has been a workhorse, launching and retrieving satellites and space probes, serving as a platform for three Hubble Telescope repair missions and for hundreds of medical and scientific studies. And none of it, NASA argues, could have been done without humans.

BRIAN DUFFY, SHUTTLE COMMANDER: Even the best designed machine can't do things. You know, look at how many times we've had to go, you know, fix antennas, deploy, you know, antennas that didn't work.

ZARRELLA: And now, after flying for 20 years, the shuttle finally has someplace to take humans, ferrying them and supplies to the International Space Station. With shuttle and station sucking $7 billion a year, half of NASA's budget, there's little left for other programs.

LOGSDON: If we're going to use those systems, we have to pay the cost of using them, and that comes a bit at the price of money available for automated exploration.

ZARRELLA: And with no major budget increases likely for NASA, other programs will continue struggling for every nickel.

John Zarrella, CNN, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


WALCOTT: Now a story about teen entrepreneurship. Ashley Power, a Los Angeles teenager, dreamed of becoming a big star on the personal computer screen. Three years ago, she created her own Web site, where she posted her experiences and schoolgirl insights. Now the site attracts more than 100,000 visitors a day.

CNN Student Bureau has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ASHLEY POWER, AGE 14: Oh my gosh! I can't even -- I sometimes can't even believe what I'm doing.

T.J. DE SIMONE, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Meet Ashley Power, a 14-year-old from Los Angeles who is breaking into Hollywood via the Internet.

POWER: I was just trying to search for something that I felt was interesting and that I could relate to, and not finding that, so I decided to create it myself.

DE SIMONE: At age 11, Ashley created a personal site that drew a lot of attention.

POWER: It was just like this little page and it had like pictures of like my friends and my family and my pets and things. And I was getting, within my first few months, about 40,000 hits a day.

DE SIMONE: The result:, a site bigger, better and more popular than she ever imagined.

What makes so unique is that it is a site geared for teens, but it is also created by a teen, making it an ultimate teen destination on the Web.

POWER: We have, you know, our chat and message boards and e-mail and horoscopes and games and postcards, and you can make your own Web site in the Goose Village.

DE SIMONE: Ashley is most proud of the show she produces on her site with the help of her staff. The show, entitled "Whatever," is another aspect of the site that Ashley believes teens will be able to relate to because it, like the site itself, is all about teen life.

POWER: It's basically just growing up, you know, my life, my friend's lives, people that I know.

DE SIMONE: Richard Dreyfuss has even signed on with the show, and the people at see the sky as the limit.

MARK SCHILDER, GOOSEHEAD.COM: I think, ultimately, it will become its own entertainment network.

DE SIMONE: Being only 14, Ashley's success didn't come easy, and she credits everyone who supported her along the way.

POWER: That's the most important thing, you know, that I learned, is that it doesn't matter how old I am or, you know -- I mean, I have this dream. And if anybody -- it doesn't matter how old you are, if you have this dream, you should go forward with it and continue, because I'm glad that I did. I didn't listen to those first people who weren't that supportive.

DE SIMONE (on camera): So, in this town where thousands of people are chasing their dreams, it seems as though Ashley Power is just beginning to live hers.

I'm T.J. De Simone (ph), CNN Student Bureau, Los Angeles.


WALCOTT: That girl's a millionaire in the making.

And that wraps up today's show. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Bye-bye.



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