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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for March 20, 2001

Aired March 20, 2001 - 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: Call us your window to the world.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM gets started for Tuesday. Hi, I'm Shelley Walcott.

BAKHTIAR: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's today's rundown.

WALCOTT: First: U.S. politicians debate the way in which their campaigns are financed.

BAKHTIAR: Next: A report from "Health Desk" makes the connection between volunteering and your health.

WALCOTT: Then, your health in "Worldview": We'll talk about the serious risks that can be associated with world travel.

BAKHTIAR: And bridging the digital divide in "Chronicle": Some less fortunate kids are making the most of their good fortune.

The issue of campaign finance reform goes before the United States Senate. Under debate: a bill proposing major changes in federal election financing. It's been about 25 years since campaign finance laws were last revised. And many U.S. senators agree that it is time to improve them. The Question is: Exactly what changes must be made?

A bill introduced to the Senate Monday proposes to ban all so- called soft money: the unregulated and unlimited money given to political parties for party-building activities. Campaign reform supporters say it often goes toward helping individual candidates. The current limit for direct donations to specific candidates is $1,000. That money is referred to as hard money.

Some senators say they would support a limit, but not a ban, on soft money contributions. The debate over campaign finance reform is being shaped mostly by the two men who proposed the reform bill: Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russell Feingold.

WALCOTT: The push for campaign finance reform in the United States is getting mixed reviews on Capitol Hill. While some senators give the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill a thumbs up, others would like to see a modified version or no version at all.

Jonathan Karl looks at the main issues being debated and the heated fight that's ensuing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before the debate hit the Senate floor, senators John McCain and Russ Feingold brought the case for campaign finance reform to the steps of the Republican and Democratic Party headquarters.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: The party of the people is now engaged in raising 100,000, 500,000, million-dollar contributions from corporations, unions and individuals. This is not why I became a Democrat, and it is not the future of the Democratic Party.

KARL: Granny D, the 90-year-old activist who finished a cross- country walk for campaign finance reform last year, started walking again, this time in circles outside of the Capitol. Inside, the Republican leader predicted the kind of free-for-all rarely seen on the Senate floor.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: In this case we agreed that we'd have a jump ball, to put it in basketball terminology, and let the game begin.

KARL: Senator Chuck Hagel was among the first to leap in opposition to the McCain-Feingold approach to campaign finance reform.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Why do we want to ban soft money to political parties, that funding which is now accountable and reportable? This ban would weaken the parties, and put more money and control in the hands of wealthy individuals and independent groups who are accountable to no one.

KARL: Where McCain-Feingold bans soft money, which can now be given in unlimited amounts to political parties, Hagel's alternative would limit it to $60,000 a year from corporations, unions and individuals.

FEINGOLD: We cannot pick up the phone to raise soft money with one hand and cast our votes with the other hand for much longer. The harm to the reputation of the Congress is simply too great.

If we fail to pass real reform, we choose soft money over the public trust. That's a risk we cannot afford to take.

KARL: As it now stands, strategists on both sides believe McCain and Feingold have more than 50 votes for their bill. Far less certain is whether they will still have enough votes after the Senate concludes two weeks of free-wheeling debate, including votes on dozens of competing amendments.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Here at the beginning of two weeks of a wild ride, I think it's probably easier to predict who's going to win the NCAA tournament. KARL (on camera): Labor unions have been among those concerned with aspects of the McCain-Feingold bill. Senator McCain will get a chance to hear some of those concerns firsthand. On Tuesday, he is having a private meeting in his Senate office with John Sweeney, the head of the AFL-CIO.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Opponents of campaign finance reform say restrictions on contributions are unconstitutional. They say restrictions inhibit free speech, thereby violating the First Amendment. Experts say that's one reason any campaign finance bill would probably wind up in the courts.

Charles Bierbauer looks at the legal aspects of campaign finance law.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCONNELL: We have an obligation not to pass laws that are clearly unconstitutional.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That will likely be up to the Supreme Court, as it was in the benchmark 1976 campaign finance case, Buckley versus Valeo. The court ruled then "Limits on campaign contributions are constitutional, but limits on campaign spending violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech."

Federal limits were enacted in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The court reasoned a $1,000 limit on individual contributions to a political candidate was "only a marginal restriction upon the contributor's ability to engage in free communication." But any restriction spending, the court said, "reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration and the size of the audience reached."

Since that ruling, campaign limits have been circumvented.

ROY SCHOTLAND, GEORGETOWN LAW CENTER: Our experience has been that when you build dams to try to stop the flows of funds in politics, the dams turn out to be sham dams. The money just flows around it like water around dams.

BIERBAUER: That's what soft money does. Banning soft money is at the core of McCain-Feingold. The Supreme Court has not addressed soft money, the vast amounts that go to political parties, not candidates.

Independent issue ads, sometimes openly targeting a candidate, raise another free speech problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NARAL AD)

NARRATOR: Get the picture? George W. Bush is anti-choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NRA AD)

NARRATOR: Al Gore wants you to believe he supports the Second Amendment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BIERBAUER: McCain-Feingold would ban issue ads in the last 60 days of a campaign. How the court reacts depends on what the final language says and how it is tied together.

SCHOTLAND: Since there will be some parts that are at least problematic, if they do end up in -- on the cutting-room floor when the court is finished, that would take down the whole bill.

BIERBAUER (on camera): That's why McCain-Feingold opponents want an all-or-nothing law. They call it nonseverability, hoping it will leave the court little option but to strike it down.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: A CNN viewer wants to know "Why are third parties so hard to establish and maintain, and would campaign finance reform change this?"

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If they vote for a third party, they're probably helping to elect the candidate they like least. If they voted for, say, Ralph Nader last year, the candidate of the Green Party, they were taking votes away from the candidate likely to be their second choice, Al Gore, and helping to elect George W. Bush. If conservatives voted for Pat Buchanan, they were taking the votes away from Bush and helping to elect Gore.

The only rational way to vote for a third party is if you believe that it really doesn't make any difference whether the Democrat or the Republican -- Bush or Gore -- wins, that one is just as bad as the other. And very few voters believe that they're exactly the same.

Would campaign finance reform make a difference? Well, it would take money away from both major parties, and that might help third parties, but more likely, the result would be that the money would end up going to single-issue groups, religious groups, environmental groups, activist groups, and all of them would have a louder voice, and the party's voice --all parties' voices -- would be diminished.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: The lights are out in California again. Rolling blackouts were ordered Monday, affecting a million homes and businesses. It's the first time since January rolling blackouts have been needed in California. Officials are blaming higher demand and a lack of electricity from the Northwest.

Wolf Blitzer now on what this could mean for the rest of the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unable to meet peak demand, the managers of California's power grid began the rolling blackouts for the first time since January. Households in Northern and now Southern California are affected: this as President Bush talks of more energy shortages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The intersection is not working at all right now -- not flashing -- no lights at all.

BLITZER: This, as President Bush talks of more energy shortages.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are no short-term fixes, that the solution for our energy shortage requires long-term thinking and a plan that we will implement that will take time to bring to fruition.

BLITZER: Mr. Bush wants the U.S. to become more energy independent by expanding domestic drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, increasing conservation, and finding more diverse energy sources such as coal and even windmills. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says demand for oil is expected to increase by a third over the next 20 years. He points out the last three recessions have all been linked to rising energy prices and sees danger ahead unless a solution is found.

SPENCER ABRAHAM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: America's energy supply will be continually at risk, our citizens will encounter blackouts and other lifestyle-altering disruptions, and our economy will be hobbled by rising energy prices.

BLITZER: This dire talk comes only two days after OPEC announced a million barrel a day cut in oil production, something that's likely to increase the price of gasoline.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Last week, we told you how stress can affect your health. According to the American Institute of Stress, 75-90 percent of all visits to primary health care physicians are for stress-related disorders. There are ways to reduce stress.

Here's Eileen O'Connor with a suggestion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 6:00 a.m. and Miriam's Kitchen is open for business: over 200 cups of juice to pour, about 30 pounds of pasta to cook. It takes some work, work that goes without pay, but volunteers say not without benefits.

PAUL SEEHAVER, VOLUNTEER: It just feels good. I feel lifted for the whole day.

O'CONNOR: Paul Seehaver, a Postal Service executive, has been volunteering a couple of times a month for the last three years. With him is Jack Toner, a volunteer for 15 years. He also works for the federal government. He says the instant satisfaction a person gets from helping others reduces stress.

JACK TONER, VOLUNTEER, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD: Here you see the results. And I think getting that sense of self-satisfaction probably does reduce the stress.

O'CONNOR: Studies show that human involvement and interaction that comes from volunteering have positive health benefits for mind and body.

BOB GOODWIN, PRESIDENT, POINTS OF LIGHT FOUNDATION: Well, if you are thinking about how to have greater meaning in your life, how to make important connections in the community, how to feel as though you're being on this Earth is doing more than taking up time and space, you should get involved in the lives of others through your volunteering effort.

Joanne Watson is retired. She says working at Miriam's Kitchen gives her purpose.

JOANNE WATSON, VOLUNTEER: I feel like I'm serving, which is rewarding.

O'CONNOR: Here, they truly believe to give is to receive.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: In "Worldview," health and environment issues take the spotlight. We'll also look at a business boom, as we head to Harlem. Find out why longtime residents are being pushed out. And we'll get some tips to stay safe when we travel through the global village. We also discover how the war on drugs could be hurting health in Colombia.

Perhaps few countries in South America cause as much concern for U.S. officials as Colombia. President George W. Bush and Colombian President Andres Pastrana have already held talks in Washington. Among other things, they discussed Colombia's ongoing civil war, its massive cocaine trade, and alleged human rights violations on the part of the government.

Just last year, Congress approved more than $1 billion to fight drug-trafficking in Colombia, despite concerns that could lead to U.S. intervention in the country's guerrilla conflict. American money is already helping fund aerial spraying of Colombian coca plants, the raw material for cocaine.

But, as Harris Whitbeck reports, some of that herbicide is apparently missing its target.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The coca fields in the Putumayo province of Southern Colombia, the frontline in the battle against drug-trafficking, financed by Plan Colombia, a $7.5 billion scheme paid for in part by the United States.

One of the cornerstones of the plan is the use of a potent herbicide called glyfosate to defoliate thousands of hectares of coca from the air with army support on the ground. But the effort to safeguard those who defoliate is having a devastating effect on the hundreds of peasants who work in and among the coca fields of Putumayo.

Abelardo Perera is the mayor of the small town of Orito, close to the fields being sprayed.

"When they spray from the air, the winds carry the herbicide to fields where food crops are being raised" he said.

Agricultural-extension workers say the herbicide meant for illegal coca crops has also destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of yucca, corn, onion and rice fields. And over 9,000 farm animals have died or are sick.

"Everybody wants to leave their fields," he says, "because everything has been burned up."

Gerardo Maje, his wife and four children have been living as refugees since they fled their small farm after being sprayed the day before Christmas last year. They lost all their food crops and about 3,000 fish they were raising to sell. The four children, who their parents say were working the fields when the spraying took place, are suffering from skin rashes and irritated eyes.

"It is worse than if the government had sent in the army," he says, "because, if the army had come in, they would have killed us off immediately. But that poison is making us suffer a slow death from starvation. Where spraying takes place, everything dies."

(on camera): It takes between three and six months for the Earth to become fertile again once the herbicide is sprayed. If the defoliation program continues for five years, as Plan Colombia calls for, people here fear it could be at least a decade before they can grow anything on their lands.

(voice-over): The problem is: Many farmers cultivate both food crops and coca leaves. In one of Colombia's poorest regions, the lure of the big money drug cartels pay for the coca is too strong to resist.

Samuel Maya used to cultivate a small amount of coca alongside the plantain trees he also raised. A bunch of bananas would fetch about $8 at the market, a kilo of coca leaves about $400, enough to lift his family from poverty.

"Here in the Putumayo, we all worked with Coca," he says." "We didn't want to be left behind."

The government insists 80 percent of the funds from Plan Colombia are destined for social programs rather than defoliation.

"It is a program that is unique in the world," he says, "because it is not only about giving money to the farmers so they stop planting coca; we give them additional funds so they can find other economic activities."

The government says the farmers have always known it is illegal to grow coca. The farmers say no one has received compensation for the food crops they have lost.

With their land unable to grow anything, Gerardo Maje's wife if bitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government must think we're some kind of poisonous insect, spraying us like that.

WHITBECK: Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Putumayo, Southern Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: These days, the world truly is a global village. People travel around the world for both business and pleasure. And while it's commonplace, some people are wondering if it's really safe. Health experts say global transmission of disease is a growing concern as more people take trips to developing countries.

Rhonda Rowland has more and some tips to help keep you healthier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Craig Oliver (ph) is preparing to travel to Kenya to do missionary work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it would be prudent for you to consider a typhoid vaccine. I'm concerned that living in this area, this very rural area, that you may not have complete control over your food and water.

ROWLAND: He'll also need a yellow fever and polio vaccine, and he's warned there are a number of ways he can pick up infectious diseases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to make sure while you're there that you don't have contact with any animals, not even puppies or kittens. So not only would you not want to get bitten, you don't even want to get licked or scratched.

ROWLAND: But doctors say it's the common infections travelers need to be most wary of.

DR. PHYLLIS KOZARSKY, TRAVELWELL CLINIC, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Influenza, as it has occurred in the last two summers here in Alaska and the Yukon, affected more travelers than any other travel-related illness in American history.

ROWLAND (on camera): Just how common are travel-related illnesses? Health experts are not sure. But a study led by Emory doctors is now under way to answer the question. It involves 25 clinics around the world, which are tracking people who become sick after traveling.

(voice-over): Researchers are looking for diseases in places they don't normally appear and for new emerging illnesses. But the threat of disease spread is greater if patients don't tell about recent travel and health experts don't ask.

KOZARSKY: Unfortunately, when you're home in the United States and seek medical attention, either through a primary care physician or through an emergency room and go in and say, I have a little fever, I don't feel well, many times the health-care providers here do not ask, do now know to ask where have you been.

ROWLAND: If a traveler brings home an exotic illness, such as the Ebola virus, what is the real threat to others?

DR. JAY STEINBERG, CRAWFORD LONG HOSPITAL: It's possible for there to be a few secondary cases if a case of Ebola does get to the United States, but is very unlikely to have an outbreak.

ROWLAND: And chances of an outbreak are limited if the illness is quickly identified.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: Next stop in our world travels: New York City and a section known as Harlem. Originally established by the Dutch in 1658, Harlem became one of the largest black communities in the United States in the early 1900s. In the 1920s, it became a center of art and literature. But it deteriorated after World War II.

Harlem is enjoying a second renaissance of sorts these days, becoming increasingly popular as a place of business. But that's a problem for longtime residents, as Deborah Feyerick explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA GILLIM, APARTMENT TENANT: By next week we should be going back to court.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura Gillim and her two daughters are fighting eviction, trying to stay in the Harlem apartment they've long called home. GILLIM: I feel comfortable here. I've lived in this neighborhood now for about 40 years, before my kids were born, so it's a place where everybody practically know me.

FEYERICK: The Gillims pay $600 a month for a three-bedroom apartment. Were it not rent-controlled, the landlord could charge three times that in today's market -- an economic reality that's changing the face of Harlem.

(on camera): Rents throughout Manhattan are shooting through the roof. People in Harlem and low-income neighborhoods are feeling the squeeze. Even dilapidated buildings have now become prime real estate.

(voice-over): Harlem residents who suffered through decades of crime and decay are, in good times now, being pushed out.

KENNY SCHAEFFER, LEGAL AID SOCIETY: We're seeing new owners, speculators, buying buildings and trying to evict long-term tenants on all sorts of pretexts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an open house.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But long-time property owners like Maurice Grey say buildings can't survive if landlords don't earn enough to cover their own bills for fuel, electricity, and repairs.

MAURICE GREY, PROPERTY OWNER: Their income has to be equal to the expenses, and maybe a small profit for the landlord, and then you can survive. But if you don't meet the expenses, then the properties are doomed, like any business.

FEYERICK: Part of the problem, experts say: not enough housing or subsidies for low-income families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shifted the priorities to a market-driven land value, which causes problems, because here we have a population who can't compete in the market.

FEYERICK: And changes in rent regulation mean more evictions.

NELLIE BAILEY, HARLEM TENANTS COUNCIL: The combination of all of these things, much easier to get people out and to displace people in numbers that we can't even begin to imagine, because there is no one who is tracking that number.

FEYERICK: Harlem has seen an amazing boom in new homes and stores -- there's even a Disney and Old Navy. The downside, say long- time residents:

KIMBERLY WIGGINS, HARLEM RESIDENT: Everything is business -- move, move, move. It totally has changed the atmosphere, which I think changes people also. It destroys communities.

FEYERICK: The Gillims say their landlord offered them money to leave. For now, they're staying right where they are, on a street where people still smile hello.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BAKHTIAR: We'll have more on Harlem tomorrow, as we look at this historic district and its promising future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Once a man hits the top, he's a slave to the bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: For America's most famous black neighborhood, these are promising days. Once described as an urban hell, with gutted, bordered-up tenements, a dangerous place where drugs were openly sold and used, today, Harlem's historic brownstone townhouses are being restored to their former glory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKHTIAR: The glory of Harlem, past and present, tomorrow right here on NEWSROOM.

Technology has worked its way into just about every corner of the United States. And now, thanks to a man whose name has become synonymous with technology, Bill Gates, thousands of kids who normally wouldn't have access to computers do -- at the Boys & Girls Club of America.

And as CNN Student Bureau reporter Allison Walker tells us, the kids are loving it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLISON WALKER, CNN STUDENT BUREAU REPORTER (voice-over): The atmosphere at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is charged with energy. But many of these children are victims of the digital divide. That's the invisible line that separates those families with computers and those without.

Boys & Girls Club officials say what the children need to give them an edge in life is more access to technology. So the organization is providing it.

MAJOR LARRY BROOME, SALVATION ARMY: In order to be successful in the future, they're going to have to know something about computers: how to deal and use the different types of software, and how to obtain the job skills that are going to help them in their future as adults. So we feel this is critical for their development.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to get on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbie.com.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite thing to do is just play on computers.

WALKER (on camera): The Boys & Girls Club of America is a home away from home for more than three million underprivileged children and teens. Now an important benefactor will make it possible for many of them to explore the world of technology with the click of a mouse.

(voice-over): Microsoft Corporation president Bill Gates has donated $100 million to the Boys & Girls Club to help narrow the digital divide. The program, called Club Tech, is the largest grant ever given by the software giant.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: Every single kid, no matter where they live, regardless of their income level, no matter what, that they've got access.

WALKER: The Boys & Girls Club will get $12.3 million in cash and $88 million in software to develop centers like this all over the country. With the help of Boys & Girls Club instructors, students are already learning. They know how to type letters using word processing programs. They even publish a daily newsletter.

CARTER CLARK, ATLANTA BOYS & GIRLS CLUB: We'll instruct on how to use some of the basics, like Word and Excel and PowerPoint, etcetera, but also how to develop Web pages, how to surf the Internet, how to navigate through Windows, just the basics of how to use the computers. The donation from Bill Gates will help us replicate the computer lab that we have downstairs into every community that we serve.

WALKER: And how can this exposure to information and technology help inspire our nation's youth?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told my mom I wanted to be a policeman. Now I want to be a president.

WALKER: Whether playing their favorite computer games or experimenting with Print Shop, these computer novices say they are at least having fun.

Allison Walker, CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: That's great. And that wraps up today's show.

BAKHTIAR: We'll see you all tomorrow. Bye.

WALCOTT: Bye.

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