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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for October 30, 2000

Aired October 30, 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.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And NEWSROOM welcomes you to the week. I'm Shelley Walcott. Here's a look at the rundown.

Today's top story: The candidates hit the campaign trail during the final week before the U.S. presidential election.

Up next in "Environment Desk," we meet a man waging a war on water pollution in his own back yard.

And don't touch that dial. We're going island hopping in "Worldview."

Then, from terra firma to outer space, NEWSROOM's headed to the International Space Station in "Chronicle."

As the last full week of campaigning begins, the United States presidential candidates are covering as much ground as possible.

Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush and his Democratic rival, Al Gore, rolled across the battleground states this weekend hoping to sway undecided voters. Vice President Al Gore took a two- day tour of the Great Lakes region. He made stops in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, where he pushed campaign finance reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Believe that we can do the right thing and be the better for it. Believe that we can have campaign finance reform. We can give our democracy back to the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: Texas Gov. George W. Bush, meanwhile, stumped across Wisconsin and Missouri Saturday seeking support from voters of all parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want you to join me as we charge down to the finish line to turn out this vote, to find people who may be disillusioned and tell them, there's a better day ahead for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALCOTT: Bush's final week of campaigning will lead him to New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and Iowa. Gore plans to makes stops in Wisconsin, Oregon, California, and possibly Florida.

The latest campaign polls indicate a very close presidential race. A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup tracking poll finds 49 percent of likely voters support Bush while 42 percent Gore. Another tracking poll by ABC News and the "Washington Post" have the race at 47 to 46 in favor of Bush. In such a close race, the candidates stands on important issues become key.

Mike Boettcher reports on one topic that could sway the votes of many older Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put your seat belt on.

(LAUGHTER)

No excuse.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A great day for a desert excursion: a slightly crisp Arizona morning, blue skies, expansive scenery. But these older Arizonans did not sign up for a scenic excursion. They are instead on a mission, and the bags of empty pill bottles they carry are clues to their objective: Mexico, a trip dictated by a serious turn of events in their lives only a few weeks before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, remember, you're going to be getting notification October 2nd of the termination.

BOETTCHER: A packed senior center in Hayden, Arizona was on hand to hear the bad news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Gila County is virtually left out of the picture.

BOETTCHER: At the end of the year, their insurance coverage for prescription drugs will end. The last HMO operating here in rural Gila County decided it was too expensive to provide coverage for the elderly in this remote area, where health care competition is scarce and prices are high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you qualify, for example...

BOETTCHER: Expensive supplementary coverage is available, but is out of the financial reach of most of these pensioners. And Medicare doesn't cover prescription drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way that our state officials can...

BOETTCHER: The same bad news is being heard in rural areas across America, where HMOs and insurance companies are terminating their prescription drug coverage.

Enni Hinojos (ph) runs the Hayden Senior Center and worries about the choices facing her patrons.

ENNI HONOJOS, HAYDEN SENIOR CENTER: Really, it comes down to what are you going to choose: eat, pay your prescription, pay your utilities, or question mark. What are you going to do?

BOETTCHER: Robert Jones (ph) has no answer.

ROBERT JONES: These medications are up here are the ones that I take. These medications down here and vitamins are the ones my wife takes.

BOETTCHER: Without coverage, he and his wife can't afford their prescription pill that can run as high as $500 a month.

JONES: That's, I guess, what irritates me. We were very frugal all our life, and then to have medical expenses restrict us like it is, is disturb -- disturbs me.

BOETTCHER: As Robert Jones sees it, there is only one option, one that requires taking matters into his own hands.

(on camera): While their location, isolated in the middle of the southern Arizona desert, essentially cost them their prescription coverage, it does give them one advantage. A three-hour drive away is the paradise for low-cost prescription drugs: Mexico.

VIRGINIA GIULIANO: These are about $80 here, and I get them for about $6 in Mexico.

BOETTCHER (voice-over): If Virginia Giuliano bought all of her prescriptions in the United States, the total bill would exceed $800.

GIULIANO: Bactrim here is about $35; $5.70 in Mexico.

BOETTCHER: A little over $200 is her total bill when she buys her prescriptions in Mexico. And she has one question for the candidates for the president of the United States. Why?

GIULIANO: Why do Americans have to leave our country to get the prescriptions they need to live or make a choice of food or selling their homes?

BOETTCHER: But because crossing the border is the only option now available to them, the men and women who traveled here on the seniors bus ignore the street hawkers of Nogales, Mexico. They have one mission: getting to the pharmacia to begin what resembles the old game show "Supermarket sweep."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-one even. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-one?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how much...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For two will be 31.84.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's what I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to pay over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

BOETTCHER: Robert Jones, Virginia Giuliano and the other seniors find bargains on every shelf, a financial salve to cover the loss of their insurance back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saved about 350, 375.

BOETTCHER: All totaled, the group saved about $700. But what of the millions of other older Americans in rural areas who do not have the luck of geography, who do not live close to Mexico or Canada, where prescription drugs are also cheap?

On January 1, an estimated 1 million American seniors will join the people of Gila County and lose their prescription drug coverage. It is the issue that will decide their vote.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, Hayden, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Well, during the recent debates, Bush and Gore brought their vision for health care into focus. Bush said his health care plan would, quote, "reform the Medicare system to have prescription drugs as part of Medicare once and for all," as well as "pay for poor seniors" to help all of them with their prescription drugs and "direct money to states so that poor seniors won't have to choose between food and medicine."

Gore said under his plan, quote, "you pick your own doctor and nobody can take that away from you." He said, "the doctor chooses the prescription that you need and nobody can overrule your doctor." And "you go to your own pharmacy and then Medicare pays have the price. If you're poor, they pay all of it."

OK, guys, quick quiz: Can you tell me what makes up 74 percent of the Earth's surface and two-thirds of the human body, something you can't live without for more than a few days? Got the answer? It's water. But as important as water is to us, the planet's water supply is being affected by us. One result: pollution.

There are two main categories of water pollution: direct and indirect. Direct sources include drainage from refineries, factories and waste treatment plants. Indirect sources include contaminants that enter the water supply from soils and ground water systems and from rain.

The effects of water pollution are varied. They include poisonous drinking water and food animals, unbalanced ecosystems and deforestation due to acid rain.

There are many things that individuals can do to minimize pollution and its consequences.

Mary Pflum introduces us to one man who is making an effort to do his part.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY PFLUM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than 22 years, John Biel (ph) has spent his days working to preserve the waterways in and around Seattle. Armed with only a dream, his efforts have spawned an environmental success story. What he did was reclaim large stretches of the virtually dead Hamm Creek and Duamus River (ph), both poisoned by industrial pollutants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the heart of the industrial sector of South Seattle. This used to be a sewage treatment facility.

PFLUM: Now people and animals enjoy these waterways, but this was not always the case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ecosystem wasn't here. There weren't any ants, gnats, jiggers, birds even. There just wasn't anything here.

PFLUM: The revival of this ecosystem mirrors Biel's personal journey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was told by a number of doctors in one month that I was going to die. I am a Vietnam veteran and I had found this place close to my home and kind of enjoy the sound of water. But it was filled with just so much garbage that I decided that if I was going to check out, I'd like to leave the place a little cleaner than I found it. That was 22 years ago.

PFLUM: There was a lot of work to do. Decades of abuse and dumping had overwhelmed the area, but Biel sought out and got support from a number of private and governmental agencies, like the People for Puget Sound, the King County Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The result of all this hard work is readily apparent. New channels are being created to help creek water run more freely, and the industries on the Duamas River have begun to clean up their act.

But Biel says this is evidence that there's still a lot of work left to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is illegal. This is very illegal. And I vow to stop these -- this company from discharging into the river before I'm done. PFLUM: Biel says despite all the work that's been done, he's not done yet, vowing that as long as he is alive he will continue to breath new life into dying ecosystems.

Mary Pflum, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: In "Worldview," a taste of culture from the Canary Islands. We'll also take you to the United States where traditions have a toehold in dance and music. And we'll visit Russia where residents sometimes live without water or electricity. We'll hear firsthand from some Russians.

The Canary Islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. In ancient times, they were called the "Fortunate Islands." The people have a strong Spanish culture. The land has both African and Mediterranean plant life. Chief products include bananas, tomatoes and ornamental plants. The warm climates and fine beaches attract many tourists.

Some of the islanders settled in the United States in Louisiana back in 1778. They are the Islanoes (ph). They're sometimes called Spanish Cajun, but the name is a misnomer since they never lived in Acadia, the region from which the word Cajun is derived.

Some still speak the medieval form of Spanish their ancestors did when they came to America centuries ago. This year for the first time, they'll be part of state-designated Louisiana history books, a victory to celebrate as they struggle to pass on their heritage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IRVAN PEREZ: (SINGING)

I was born and raised down here and third generation separated from the Canary Islands. Our people came from the Canary Islands in the 16th -- some in the 16th, some in the 17th hundreds. They were brought here to counteract a British invasion and put alongside the river.

For the first couple of hundred years I'm sure they were real tough, real rough people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is this musical form and what's its function in terms of telling your history?

I. PEREZ: Well, the musical form is a decima. That was brought over to the Canary Islands with our people. And what they used it for was like you would use a newspaper.

It talks about the townspeople of the Canary Islands, the time they got to the New World.

ANTHONY GUERRA JR.: You know, back when they came here, I mean, the fish and the fur, it was so plentiful it was, you know, like a kid sticking his hand in a cookie jar. I mean, full as all that.

My daddy's family is supposed to be from the Canary Islands so that makes me, what? an Islano (ph), Canary Island descendant.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you speak Spanish?

GUERRA: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you ever had any interest in learning Spanish?

GUERRA: No. I'd be lying if I said yes. No.

ALLEN PEREZ: The younger generation today in school, they don't teach them nothing about culture or anything and that's why we set up these exhibitions and show them what our life was about, you know, because they don't teach them that in school. They know nothing about our culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Did you hear that rhythm at the end when I was strumming that, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three? That was that rhythm, the Canarios. And this instrument is called a temple (ph). And this is an instrument you only find in the Canary Islands. So I'll play you a little bit in that same rhythm.

I. PEREZ: That was the Canary Island Descendants Association, which is our organization. So that was a demonstration of our heritage, our culture. Like they were showing you how to make soft- shell crabs, they're showing you how to cut a nit (ph) nets, showing you how to make old-time decoys. Just about anything that you -- that our ancestors did we can still do.

We were the first generation to be educated in English. You can't teach a language that was 17th century Castilian Spanish. I don't believe it will last much longer. And when you kill that, you kill your culture and your heritage.

GUERRA: Most young people probably don't show an interest in this type of stuff, your ancestors and family trees and that there. You're very seldom going to see a young person interested in something like that. They want to go, you know. They want to go. I have one son. He's going to be 17. And I really don't push this on him at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I've read that the Louisiana coastline is losing possibly up to 35 square miles a year due to salt water intrusion and other factors. Is the Islano or Canary Island descendant culture, is that threatened also?

GUERRA: Well, anytime you're losing coastline, especially like this community right here, Delacroix, I mean, it's threatened big time. And once this is gone, I mean, you'd have to look for these people up the road. They just ain't going to have no place to go.

I. PEREZ (singing): And the time is over and everything is said and done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: "Worldview" heads to Russia, which has been searching for solid economic ground since the breakup of the Soviet Union early last decade. The hard times have become evident with a series of recent mishaps, including the sinking of a nuclear submarine and a huge fire in Moscow's main television tower.

The cash shortage is affecting everyone, including government agencies and Russian consumers. Many Russians are having a hard time getting access to basics others take for granted, fresh water and electricity among them.

In an effort to develop new types of energy, Russia is teaming up with Iran in a project to liquefy hydrogen. The two countries had already pledged to help each other in nuclear power engineering, oil and gas. But government efforts for the future mean little to Russians who have to worry about how they'll function without water or power today.

Here's Steve Harrigan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Olga Alexandrovna needs four buckets of water a day to cook, clean and drink. But like everyone else in the village of Markova, the 78-year- old never knows when the electric pumps will be on.

OLGA ALEXANDROVNA, RUSSIAN (through translator): It affects your nerves. If you knew there would be water in the morning, you could sleep at night.

HARRIGAN: Electricity has been shut off in Markova and small towns like it across Russia, part of a new strategy by the national electric company to collect $5 billion in overdue payments.

ANDREI TRAPEZNIKOV, RAO ENERGY SPOKESMAN: This is the habit of not paying for electricity. We call it stealing.

HARRIGAN: The punishment can prove severe.

(on camera): When they turn the power back on suddenly, not all the wiring can handle it. And in a town without electricity, when your house goes on fire, you can't get water out of an electric well and you can't use a telephone to call the fire department.

(voice-over): The doctor can't take an X-ray and the ambulance can't get gas. The one factory still operating works a night shift when the power is on. Women bring their children to work.

That is no longer an option at the local collective farm, where wires have been cut down for failure to pay. Unable to repair aged machinery, the men stand around.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Markova, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: More now from Russia as we explore electrical problems affecting lives in different ways. Earlier, you heard about the fire in a Russian TV tower, and that brought up an interesting question: What would life be like without TV?

To find out, Jill Dougherty visited Russians who were doing without after that recent TV outage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Moscow's main television tower goes up in smoke and across the vast region of the Russian capital television screens go black, leaving 18 million people with nothing to watch.

"It's like losing an arm," Olga (ph) says. "We've gotten so used to getting our news from that blue screen that it's really hard getting along without it."

(on camera): To find out how people are coping with no television, we visited this Moscow apartment building where every flat has a TV.

(voice-over): We found Sergei Eduardovich (ph) doing his laundry and listening to the radio.

SERGEI EDUARDOVICH, RUSSIAN (through translator): I'm not suffering, but I have a feeling of discomfort. There's less information, no news shows.

DOUGHERTY: For this man rushing off to work...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's more important that my pager works.

DOUGHERTY: In his studio on the first floor, artist Grigory Pototsky (ph) is glad his TV isn't working.

GRIGORY POTOTSKY, ARTIST (through translator): Thank God there's no TV. Everything except the cultural programs is so biased.

DOUGHERTY: Moscow's parks are filled with young people longing to flick on a channel.

"I'm talking more on the phones," Veronica (ph) says, "but my parents don't like it."

For older people, it's even worse.

"I live alone," says Claubdia (ph). "I have absolutely no one. I read a lot, but without television it's really bad."

At Videoland, desperate Muscovites are happy to rent anything. Back at the apartment building, life goes on with or without TV. And Maria, whose favorite place is on a bench enjoying the sun, says she doesn't miss TV at all.

"I have a headache," she says, "and I'm not listening to anything."

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: If space is the final frontier, it looks like people could be about to conquer it. A team of space travelers, one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, are the pioneers of an expedition to the International Space Station.

Miles O'Brien reflects on an odyssey that aims to keep some representatives of humanity in space at all times.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the misty moments just before dawn, the Soyuz rocket that will carry the first space station crew to their home far away from home backed down the tracks to the launch pad where it all began. Forty years ago next April, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave the planet from this very site.

At the base of the historic path, they smiled and posed, the rocket pointed toward the heavens a little more than an hour after it left its hangar, all of it a study in contrast to the slow, sterile space shuttle crawl at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

BETH SHEPHERD, WIFE OF FIRST NASA STATION COMMANDER: This would never happen at Kennedy. But I think it's really great that you can come out here and watch them do that. And just with the speed and efficiency that they do this is just incredible. I just can't believe it.

O'BRIEN: Seeing is believing for Beth Shepherd, wife of the first station commander, NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd. He and his crewmates, cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, are here, reported in good spirits, on the cusp of their space odyssey.

They followed in the tradition-mandated footsteps of their predecessors, laying flowers at Gagarin's Red Square tomb, checking suits and seats for the proper fit, bearing witness as they raise the flags of Russia, the U.S. and Kazakhstan.

At the launch pad, the ritual of preparation played out with equal familiarity. The 163-foot Soyuz rocket has now flown more than 1,600 times, counting unmanned missions. It is a venerable design.

"The fundamentals of this rocket are the same they were back then in the mid '50s when it was designed," he says, "and it has proven its reliability." (on camera): At the top of the launch pad underneath this protective covering is the Soyuz capsule. "Soyuz" in Russian means "union," an appropriate name for a spacecraft that will take this unlikely partnership to new heights.

(voice-over): The vanguard crew will spend four months on a shakedown cruise of the $100 billion International Space Station. NASA, the Russians and the 14 other nations in the partnership hope it is the beginning of at least 15 years of continuous occupation at the outpost.

(on camera): Does it get easier at this moment, or in a way does it get harder?

KEN BOWERSOX, BACKUP COMMANDER: Well, I'd say that now we have to start really working together. We don't have a choice. We've got our people living and working together, and we have to support them.

O'BRIEN: It is a tense moment for the far-flung partnership and for those who are more personally involved.

SHEPHERD: The first eight minutes is -- what can you say? It's a serious thing that they're doing. And, yes, I'm going to be nervous, but I'm excited at the same time. So -- and I'm not really -- I'm nervous, but I'm not really worried.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: And that wraps up today's odyssey on NEWSROOM. We'll see you tomorrow from the planet Earth. Bye-bye.

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