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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for November 29, 2000

Aired November 29, 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: Hello, everyone. Welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's a look at the rundown.

Leading today's news, the legal wrangling continues in the U.S. presidential race. And we'll get the results of the Canadian national election.

Then, from casting ballots to taking swings, our "Biz Desk" tees off with golfer Tiger Woods.

Next, hold onto your harmonica. "Worldview" has the business blues.

And finally, in "Chronicle" we introduce you to a woman with a heart of a hero.

The legal battle over the United States presidential election rages on as Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore prepare to take their arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gore's lawyers are asking Florida courts for quick action in the disputed presidential election. Gore's team wanted a Florida judge Tuesday to order an immediate hand recount of thousands of disputed ballots in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. The judge denied the immediate count but ordered the ballots, a voting machine and lawyers be in his courtroom for a Saturday hearing. That doesn't mean the ballots will be counted. The judge simply said he'd like to have them on hand in case the court decides they should be.

Now, the Bush campaign wants to know if the recounts were legal in the first place and bring an end to election 2000. Friday, the U.S. Supreme court will begin hearing argument related to that. Bush lawyers want the justices to overturn a Florida Supreme Court ruling that allowed the recounts. The Gore team says the Florida court should have the final say, not the Supreme Court.

A number of courts are involved in the Florida vote dispute. It's still uncertain which one will have the final say.

Now Bruce Morton looks at the Supreme Court's role in the presidential dispute and its struggle with states' rights. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Earlier Supreme Courts struck down state laws imposing racial segregation, finding them to be unconstitutional. But this Supreme Court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist's court, has ruled for the states on a series of issues; ruled that states couldn't be sued for failing to pay overtime required by federal law; ruled states couldn't be sued by workers claiming age discrimination, so a state policeman could be forced to retire at 60; ruled that rape victims couldn't be sued in federal court under the Violence Against Women Act.

Yet now the court is stepping into a state dispute about elections. Why?

FATHER ROBERT DRINAN, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW CENTER: They have been, if you will, antifederalist and pro states' rights, but I think this may be different. Assuming that this goes through the oral argument and that they put out an opinion, they have asked the basic question, does the procedure endorsed by the Supreme Court of Florida violate the due process clause right there in the U.S. Constitution?

MORTON: The Constitution says electors shall be appointed "in such manner as the legislature may direct." Maybe the court thinks the Florida Supreme Court is interfering with that. We don't know.

KENNETH GROSS, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Virtually every expert on the Supreme Court that examined this and commented on it before this case came before them said, there's no way they're going to take this case. This is not a case involving a sufficient federal question, particularly this court, which has shown a reluctance. I guess the stakes are too big and it's involving who the next president is going to be, and it's become an irresistible case.

MORTON: The court through the years has weighed in on the big issues. Not much is bigger than the right to vote.

DRINAN: There's a body of opinion from the Supreme Court cherishing the right to vote. That's a very sacred thing in American law.

MORTON: The Supreme Court remains the most private part of the U.S. government. We'll know what the justices rule when they announce it. We may never know exactly why they chose to hear this case.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Both George W. Bush and Al Gore have a team of lawyers fighting the battle over Florida's electoral votes. At what price does victory come? And who's paying for this legal fight?

Brooks Jackson has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some of these lawyers are being paid and some are not. We may never know which ones or how much. Neither the Bush nor the Gore teams are saying. The Bush has raised $6 million in private donations to pay for the recount legal fight. They say it's all being disclosed on their Web site, but only $3 million has showed up there so far. It's dull reading. Bush says he won't take more than $5,000 per person.

Gore has raised only $3 million he isn't setting limits, so there could some very large gifts. We may know soon. His team now says it will disclose everything over $200 starting December 7.

(on camera): Both sides say there's nothing wrong with high- priced lawyers volunteering their time for a recount fight, even if their legal work might determine who wins the White House. They say, legally, it's the same thing as somebody volunteering their time to knock on doors or hand out campaign literature for a candidate.

(voice-over): Other volunteers, hundreds of party workers, Capitol Hill aides and others have flown from out of state to work as observers and media spinners, expenses paid by the parties or recount funds. Some of those Republican volunteers took part in demonstrations, including this one, according to the "Wall Street Journal." But a spokesman for the RNC says nobody was paid expense money specifically to be a demonstrator.

And besides the recount, now there's transition money, too. Papers were filed Monday night in Texas to create the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation, a tax exempt group that will raise more private millions to finance Bush transition expenses. The General Services Administration has refuse to release $5 million in federal transition funds to Bush.

(on camera): There's a precedent here. Eight years ago, the Clinton team raised more than $5 million in private donations in addition to $3 million in federal transition funds.

(voice-over): Federal law limits private donations to presidential transitions to $5,000 per individual or $5,000 from a business corporation. But, oddly, it puts no limit on so-called "in- kind" donations -- gifts of goods or services. The Bush team says it will accept only donations from individuals, subject to the $5,000 limit; no corporate donations of any kind, and no "in-kind" gifts from individuals beyond the $5,000 limit.

They say they'll disclose all donations on a new transition Web site which is in the works. The law requires full disclosure to the General Services Administration, but not until 30 days after the inauguration.

(on camera): So far, the vice president has not set up any formal transition organization or raised any private funds for a transition either.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Americans aren't the only ones facing the transition of political power. In Haiti, voters went to the polls Sunday. The ballots are still being counted, but former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is widely expected to win. Haiti's opposition groups boycotted the vote, accusing Aristide of plotting a dictatorship, an allegation Aristide strongly denies.

Meantime in the Middle East, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak surprised many by calling for new elections early next year. Analysts say the move was a preemptive strike against rivals who want to oust Barak from power. His government has been shaken by two months of deadly conflict with the Palestinians.

Back in North America, Canadians cast their vote for a new prime minister Monday in a decidedly low-tech election. Voters used paper and pencil, marking an "X" against the name of a candidate. The results were announced just hours after the polls closed. And it was a hefty victory to veteran Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who was awarded a third term in office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 66-year-old leader took the biggest chance of his political life by calling elections 18 months early, and that gamble for a place in history paid off. Jean Chretien has now become the first Canadian leader since World War II to win three consecutive majorities in Parliament. A triumphant Chretien thanked his supporters, promising to move ahead with his programs.

JEAN CHRETIEN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Tonight, the people of Canada have renewed their confidence in our program, in our team, and in my leadership.

HOLMES: And during the victory speech, he urged his opponents to work together to build a stronger country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: The world of technology has helped create the richest American under the age of 40. He's Michael Dell of Dell Computer, with an estimated net worth of $17 billion, according to "Forbes" magazine. Net worth is an individual's total assets minus total liabilities. In other words, the value of everything you own minus everything you owe.

While Internet pioneers are leading the pack, there are other fields represented on the list too. Take Michael Jordan, the former pro basketball player, worth an estimate $431 million.

Now another young athlete is about to increase his net worth dramatically.

Greg Clarkin has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CASH REGISTER BELL RINGING)

GREG CLARKIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That`s the sound Nike is after. They`re betting it will come from this man, Tiger Woods, only 24, but already a legend, and now owner of what`s believed to be the richest endorsement deal in sports history, one that could top $100 million over five years.

Golf retailers say it doesn`t matter whether it`s balls, clubs, clothing. Everyone wants to be like Tiger.

BARRY ZAMER, SALES MANATER, NEW YORK GOLF CENTER: People come in, they want to know what clubs he`s playing. They want to know the specifications of the equipment that he`s playing. And most of the equipment that he uses, or a lot of the equipment he uses, is custom. In other words, you can`t buy it. But they still want to be sort of aware of what he`s playing, and they want to try and get in on that Tiger vibe.

CLARKIN: Woods already has a $40 million deal with Nike. There`s a line of clothing and shoes, and he uses a Nike golf ball. This deal locks him up for Nike through 2006.

MARC GANIS, PRESIDENT, SPORTSCORP: Nike golf didn`t exist before Tiger Woods. They literally created an entire division when they signed Tiger Woods as their spokesman. It`s now one of their fastest growing divisions, and they`ve tapped into a market they hadn`t tapped into before.

CLARKIN: Woods burst onto the scene just in time for Nike. A winning smile and a golf game to match, he`s someone who could fill the endorsement shoes Michael Jordan left behind.

BOB WOOD, PRESIDENT, NIKE GOLF: And there`s no question that we feel that Tiger casts a positive halo over the entire Nike brand, and we definitely consider him to be a brand athlete for Nike.

CLARKIN (on-camera): And unlike basketball players and athletes in other sports, golfers often play into their 40s, 50s and even beyond. And that has Nike hoping this will be a relationship that spans decades.

Greg Clarkin, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Time to spin the globe in "Worldview." We'll take you off the coast of Israel to meet unusual underwater creatures. As we turn to China, we'll learn about a material that's a major munch choice of pandas. Plus, a trip to the United States where singing the blues has benefits.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Walk down the hallways of your school and you're bound to hear people complaining about one thing or another. It could be a test or something related to work. We've all done it before at one time or another. But how do you turn griping in hallways into something a little more productive?

Well, Susan Lisovicz has the story of a group of entrepreneurs who are turning a love of the blues into a burgeoning business.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITCH DITKOFF, CO-FOUNDER, FACE THE MUSIC: I don't think that everybody has the blues, I know that everybody has the blues.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Friday at Orange & Rockland Utilities just outside New York City, and its employees are singing the blues -- their corporate blues.

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: This isn't a paid gig. This is part of a unique program called Face the Music, which is the brainchild of corporate consultant and blues lover Mitch Ditkoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What blues have you got tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Office politics.

DITKOFF: I was in a blues club with my wife one night listening to a local blues band. And about the third song, it dawned on me that all my corporate clients have the blues, but they don't have a really powerful, simple way to express the blues.

PAUL DUFFY, CO-FOUNDER: First I thought, that's nutty. And then I thought, wow, what a cool idea.

PAUL KWIECINSKI, CO-FOUNDER, FACE THE MUSIC: I remember going to the first gig and everybody was a little bit like, is this going to really happen? And I thought, no problem, this is going to work.

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: The Face the Music band kicks off its show by singing some of its original tunes, like the "Business Communication Blues."

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: But the meat of the program is when employees break up into small groups to write their own songs about what's bugging them at work.

(MUSIC)

DITKOFF: It builds teamwork, it enhances collaboration, it definitely sparks risk-taking behavior, and it gets people thinking about what needs fixing, what needs improving.

KWIECINSKI: If you don't know anything, I can get you to write a blues song.

We need two more lines. I can get three verses out of you. So there's no one that can't do it.

DITKOFF: It's not about just complaint and a lynch mob, it's about expressing what's true and then figuring out how to go beyond that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they opened up their energy bills and found...

(CROSSTALK)

LISOVICZ: The groups get about 45 minutes to write and rehearse their songs...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voodoo Lulu (ph).

LISOVICZ: ... before show time.

DITKOFF: We're trying to get people off of their day-to-day regular personality, their little job identity, their position, their title, get into a totally different mindset in order for them to accomplish an extraordinary result and to do something different.

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: Their singing might be a little off key...

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: ... but Ditkoff says the real value is just being able to verbalize these verses.

DITKOFF: To vent, to cathart, to get it out and to accelerate the process of going beyond the blues so that next year they're not singing the same old blues.

LORRAINE PAPENBERG, ORANGE & ROCKLAND UTILITIES: I think Face the Music gives them an opportunity to express themselves and express their frustrations that any business or corporation is going to go through.

JOHN FERRARO, ORANGE & ROCKLAND UTILITIES: We've learned to identify what gets to us at work, what gives us the corporate blues. And maybe by first identifying them will give us the step towards solving them.

LISOVICZ: The corporate world seems to be listening. Started in 1999, Face the Music has already worked with a number of big-time companies like GE, Panasonic, and Con Edison.

PAPENBERG: I think it's very important in today's corporate business world that we have fun and we do our jobs the best we can, and we have the tools necessary in order to do them differently, creatively and out of the box. And using Face the Music is definitely a great idea. (MUSIC)

DITKOFF: It's bottom-line focused in that we're saying that your workforce, the morale will be higher, the collaboration will be deeper, the ability for people to team and to get things done will increase, and you'll get off of the junk that people have been obsessing about.

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: This band doesn't plan on breaking up anytime soon. In fact, it's looking to play on a bigger stage.

DITKOFF: Tons of applications, not just in business, but in any organization where there's some challenge and difficulty and some friction.

(MUSIC)

KWIECINSKI: No matter how serious our jobs are, what's at stake, there's something funny about the whole thing. And if we bring that spirit to what we're doing, we're going to get a lot further.

(MUSIC)

LISOVICZ: For "ENTREPRENEURS ONLY," I'm Susan Lisovicz, CNN Financial News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Now to China to explore the many uses of bamboo. Bamboo is a giant grass famous for it's hollow, woody stem. There are more than 700 species of bamboos. Some bamboos stand as high as 120 feet, or 37 meters, and have stems as large as one foot in diameter.

Bamboo provides many essential articles for people who live in tropical countries, especially Asian lands. Asian farmers may live in bamboo houses, sit on bamboo chairs, eat food prepared in bamboo containers or sleep on bamboo mats. They wear sandals woven from bamboo strips and they eat young bamboo shoots as vegetables, and the list goes on and on.

Bamboo is also used in cities. In fact, it's an important building material

Phil O'Sullivan takes us to Hong Kong, China to give us a closer look at just how useful bamboo can be.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks precarious, even downright dangerous, but almost every building in Hong Kong has been constructed with the help of bamboo scaffolding. With a ready supply of renewable bamboo from southern China, this ancient industry is still far more popular than steel in Hong Kong. It's high-rise success is dictated by the bottom line. JAMES GRAHAM, GAMMON CONSTRUCTION: Bamboo probably costs, in terms of the life of a project, probably costs a little over half of the cost of an equivalent steel scaffold.

O'SULLIVAN: Bamboo scaffolders outnumber their colleagues who work with steel scaffolding by 5-1. And if anything, there aren't enough scaffolders to keep up with demand. Company owners say parents don't want their sons in such an old and dangerous looking occupation. But there's much method in this apparent construction madness, with traditions still handed on to around 200 young students a year, taught by master scaffolders like Choi Keung, who's been putting up bamboo for more than 50 years.

CHOI KEUNG, MASTER BAMBOO SCAFFOLDER (through translator): I feel that I have these skills that are very useful to our society, so I want to pass them on to the young generation to carry on.

O'SULLIVAN: And it's a changing industry. Safety's improved, with new laws making safety lines and helmets mandatory, although it's not always enforced. And nylon straps have replaced the strips of bamboo that are used for the hundreds of thousands of knots that tie the whole structure together. Along with its cheaper cost, bamboo is quicker to put up and get down. And it's more flexible than steel, able to withstand the regular typhoons blowing through Hong Kong.

FREDERICK SOH, WORLD PACIFIC SCAFFOLDER: We erect scaffolding at the top roof of the 73-story-high building. So it's old, but still can match with the modern society.

O'SULLIVAN: More than 100 Hong Kong scaffolding companies chase the $50 million U.S. contracts to sheath the growing buildings in bamboo and safety netting. These young men will carry on an ancient profession. And years in Hong Kong, it's still able to hold its own against progress. And on a good day, it's an industry where, with a strong arm, a sure foot and a good head for heights, you can quite literally feel as if you're on top of the world.

Phil O'Sullivan, CNN Financial News, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: We journey into the wild kingdom to learn about seahorses. Seahorses are actually small fish that live in shallow tropical waters. There are about 25 species. They have an usual method of reproducing. The female lays her eggs in the male's pouch and he carries them for 10 to 45 days, finally releasing tiny, live, young seahorses.

We head to Israel where hundreds of baby seahorses were released off the coast, part of a marine park breeding program. The tiny, delicate creatures face a desperate fight for survival. A special seaweed which forms their ideal habitat is fast disappearing from the sea bed. To help preserve and protect these special fish, diving teams searched out areas where the seaweed thrives and then released the seahorses. BAKHTIAR: In "Chronicle," "Faces of a Hero." What sets heroes apart? Are they mighty, or can they be humble? Whatever the answer, heroes are real to many, and sometimes they're inconspicuous, as our Andy Jordan discovered when he came face-to-face with the one and only Oral Lee Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JORDAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may sound like a mother's rebuke.

ORAL LEE BROWN: Did you get my page?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

BROWN: I paged you twice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My pager -- I swear, my pager's been broke for the past two months. I haven't...

BROWN: You call me this evening. I'm not playing, Tracy (ph).

JORDAN: Oral Lee Brown calls them her babies, but the bond is not one of parent and child.

JEFF TONEY, AGE 18: She's the best woman on this planet next to my mom.

LATOSHA HUNTER, AGE 19: I can go to Ms. Brown for anything. And then, like, sometimes I forget to call her at school because I go away. I play volleyball for my school and I go away, and she call and check up on me. When I forget to call, she's like, why you haven't called? Are you OK? Are you sick? Do you need money?

JORDAN: Latosha is one of 23 students Oral Lee Brown adopted in 1987. It happened after she encountered a little girl on a street corner in this tough East Oakland, California community of Brookfield. The girl was asking for money so she could buy bread for her family. The sight so moved her, she made a promise to the first graders at Brookfield Elementary: if they stayed on the straight and narrow, she would guide their path all the way to college, which she would pay for.

(on camera): How did you choose this school after you encountered the girl asking for a quarter? How did you choose Brookfield?

BROWN: This is the school that she would have gone to. This would have been the school. If she was in school, this would have been the school that she would have gone to.

JORDAN (voice-over): Brown has never been able to find the girl after parting ways that one day. Instead, she decided to devote a third of her $45,000-a-year salary as a realtor to the first graders, a decision she admits made her lose sleep the night she made it. BROWN: There was no way that I was going to do this. What was wrong with me? And I must have sat up two or three hours, you know, saying, fool, you are crazy.

Good morning.

JORDAN: The next morning, the second-guessing ended and a hero's journey began. Her motivation: a realization that if a child is hungry, he or she cannot learn. And a childhood spent in a racially divided 1950s Mississippi, after seeing her brother beaten, she spoke out to her parents.

BROWN: And I can just remember saying, well, then, if you don't stand up, then all of you need to be dead. And That's when they said, you know, we need to get this gal away from here.

JORDAN: Her parents moved her to a safer part of the United States, an odyssey that led her to Oakland. Her roots gave her a keen understanding of how the fundamental need for survival can hamper the fundamental need to learn.

BROWN: The most important thing for human beings are survival, and you're going to put that as your No. 1 priority. Education is very important. I think it's the key to the success of any child. But if I'm the one that is having to work at McDonald's for $5.75 and another part-time job for $5.75, I have no time, honestly, to really be concerned about a PTA meeting.

We owe every one of those kids an education.

JORDAN: So Oral Lee Brown went to those PTA meetings and acted as a surrogate mother and instilled a sense of purpose.

TONEY: I had plans on just turning my whole life the other way to try to help my mom, like quit school, get a job or whatever I had to do to make sure that my mom was OK and that we had a house to live in. And she just broke the whole story down to me. She told me how your mom already lived her life. What's going to happen is going to happen. It's OK to be there for her, but I'm pretty sure your mom wants you to go to college and go to school.

JORDAN: Which is what he is doing, along with 18 of those original 23 students. When they graduated last summer, their path was a given.

HUNTER: She brought up college at such a young age so that we can look forward to something.

BROWN: I should get the dictionary and look up the definition of hero and I'm sure Oral Brown would not be there. I just consider myself as that, basically, someone that love my kids. Just that simple.

HUNTER: Ms. Brown defines a hero, because she will never admit it. She'll say, I'm not a hero, the students are heroes. BROWN: I'm just a little old woman, five 5'6" normal. And when they looked at me if they said, if Oral Brown can do it, then I can do it. I didn't take the tests, I didn't study for the exam, I'm not in college now. I may have taken them to the water, but they did the drinking. So it's them. They are truly the heroes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Oral Lee Brown, a hero's hero.

Well, tomorrow we'll introduce you to yet another hero: a man who faced the odds and came out a conqueror. That's tomorrow's NEWSROOM. We'll see you then.

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