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NEWSROOM for May 1, 2001

Aired May 1, 2001 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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: It's Tuesday, May 1, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott. Here's what's ahead.

The game of politics tops our news segment today. At issue, the Bush administration's nuclear strategy. Then, in "Health Desk," selling junk food in high school, why the health of students could be compromised for the sake of the bottom line. Next in "Worldview," fond memories in the Middle East, why some Israelis are longing for the days of colonial rule. And in "Chronicle," a report card on the president, a look back at Mr. Bush's first 100 days.

United States President George W. Bush wants to move ahead with his multi-billion dollar global missile defense system. He'll outline his proposal in a speech today. On Monday, he spoke about his initiative with U.S. allies from Germany, France, Canada and Britain. Mr. Bush also spoke with the NATO secretary general. So far, the allied countries and China have not been particularly receptive to the president's plan because Russia considers it an attempt by the United States to have complete military supremacy.

President Bush's plan is a lot like the one his father wanted to put in place during his administration. The former President Bush thought once the Soviet Union dismantled, the missile defense should shift from protection of the United States to protection of the U.S. and its allies. That initiative was killed by President Clinton's administration in favor of a less expensive and less expansive plan.

There are concerns about the new president's proposition even from within his own administration.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor has primarily details of the defense plan and the internal debate surrounding it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's speech will highlight sweeping changes he plans in the way the U.S. defends itself, and announce that he is sending a team to hear allied concerns before he spells out the specific details later this spring. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further.

ENSOR: The final decisions are not made yet, but officials are preparing proposals for dramatic unilateral cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, taking it from over 7,000 weapons down to as low as 1,500; slashing the number of bombing targets in Russia in the event of war; adding a small number of new targets in China; increasing by as much as $7 billion research and development of strategic and theater ballistic missile defense systems; adding sea-based and space-based systems to the land-based plan already in testing under the Clinton administration.

BUSH: At the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy anti-ballistic missile systems.

ENSOR: The problem for Mr. Bush: the earliest possible date for missile defense may well be after he leaves office.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: We have years to go just in testing and research to find out if there is anything worth deploying.

ENSOR: What's more, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty clearly forbids any kind of national missile defense. So, kill the treaty now? A debate is raging within the administration. Secretary of State Powell and his aides favor going slow.

CIRINCIONE: I think withdrawal from the ABM treaty would cause a major international crisis at this point. It could dominate the president's first year in office, and he doesn't need that.

ENSOR: On the other side, administration hawks, like Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and their aides, are pushing hard for Mr. Bush to abrogate the ABM treaty this spring and go it alone on nuclear weapons.

RICHARD PERLE, FORMER ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: We should decide what we need, keep only what we need and no more than that, and then proceed to shape our strategic forces consistent with what we judge our requirements to be. There's no reason to ask the Russians for their approval any more than we should be asking anyone else for their approval.

ENSOR (on camera): Some within the Bush administration also argue for developing new nuclear weapons capable of penetrating deep into the Earth to reach chemical or biological weapons facilities, or leadership bunkers.

But still others argue that Mr. Bush will have quite enough to do convincing wary allies to accept missile defense, without asking them to accept new nuclear weapons as well.

David Ensor, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: With all this talk about building missile defense systems and the exorbitant amounts of money they'll cost, those in the business of making the weapons may feel as if they're about to win the lottery.

As Allan Dodds Frank reports, it might not be as big a business boom as they're hoping.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLAN DODDS FRANK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House says the president will be fulfilling a campaign promise when he unveils a new plan for national missile defense.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president views this as a new way of thinking in the protection of our nation, reflecting the fact that the Cold War is over and the threat to peace comes mostly from rogue nation missile launches.

FRANK: The new programs are expected to emphasize development of a wide array of missile defense, ranging from air-based systems with lasers mounted on airplanes to land-based interceptor missiles and radars, similar platforms at sea, aboard ships, and even space-based laser-equipped satellites. The president's plan could give a boost to defense contractors.

CHRIS MECRAY, DEUTSCHE BANC ALEX BROWN: It's good for the defense industry, because it creates a program and formalizes it. That could be tens of billions of dollars over the course of years. In the first decade, it could be as much as much as $20 billion.

FRANK: Some of the probable winners are already working on more limited missile defense systems: they include Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and TRW. But so far, no missile defense system has really worked.

BOB SHERMAN, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: We are talking about pushing on the absolute edge of technology. We are talking about doing things that have never been done before. And to some extent, just throwing more money at them doesn't make them come sooner.

FRANK: Another issue: will the defense budget rise or will other weapons programs be cut?

ROBERT FRIEDMAN, STANDARD & POOR'S: The overall defense budget is projected to grow only really -- only about 2.5 percent on a compounded growth basis, so money could be diverted from higher margin production contracts, which could hurt the earnings and returns of defense contractors long-term.

FRANK (on camera): Politically, the president's plan is not a done deal. Not only is it likely to set off a fight in Congress, European nations as well as China and Russia may view the president's proposal as an abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Allan Dodds Frank, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: Let's talk lunch. In the U.S., the federal government has established standards for school food. However, many soft drink companies get around those standards by letting schools keep the profits made selling sodas from vending machines. Critics argue that the money to pay for extracurricular activities is coming at the cost of your health.

Kathy Slobogin has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN EDUCATION AND FAMILY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's lunch time at Blair High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the vending machines are humming.

PHILLIP GAINOUS, PRINCIPAL, BLAIR HIGH SCHOOL: The more you sell, the more you make.

SLOBOGIN: Principal Phillip Gainous is unapologetic about his exclusive contract with Pepsi. With more than 30 vending machines plugged in at his school, the money is pouring in.

And it's bought a lot for the school: three computer labs, $60,000 worth of athletic scoreboards, school maintenance equipment, even a state-of-the-art television studio for young journalists, all from a Pepsi contract that nets the school over $100,000 a year from soda sales.

GAINOUS: This is a -- for example, this is over $200,000, it's going to be...

SLOBOGIN (on camera): All paid for by Pepsi money?

GAINOUS: All paid for by Pepsi money.

Schools that are in neighborhoods of wealth, parents generally provide these kinds of extras. We don't, unfortunately, have that kind of resource, so this is a way that can help us close the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

SLOBOGIN (voice-over): Gainous says it was he, not the soft drink companies, that pushed for an exclusive deal. In 1997, he pitted Coke and Pepsi against each other, and negotiated the largest high school soft drink contract in the country at that time.

(on camera): Soda sales may be good for the bottom line, but health experts warn they are bad for the students. Although the soda industry disputes that, recent health studies have linked soft drinks and Colas to obesity, tooth decay and an increased bone fractures in adolescents girls.

ANDREW HAGELSHAW, CENTER FOR COMMERCIAL-FREE EDUCATION: These exclusive contracts force schools to promote an unhealthy product to their students in exchange for relatively small amounts of money.

SLOBOGIN (voice-over): Andrew Hagelshaw of the Center for Commercial-Free Education says soft drink companies began offering exclusive contracts to schools in exchange for higher revenue in 1997.

Since then, 240 schools have signed on, he says creating pressure on schools to sell. Hagelshaw cites a Colorado school district which fell behind in its soda sales, prompting an administrator to send a letter to district principals.

HAGELSHAW: It basically said, "Come on, guys, we can do it, we just need the kids to drink two Cokes a day, and we'll make our quota, and that's not very much. So if we all pull together, we can do it!" And of course, he signed the letter "The Coke Dude."

SLOBOGIN: Hagelshaw says there's a growing backlash against vending machines in schools. His organization has tracked more than 40 schools that have recently turned down contracts.

Last week, Coke announced it was changing its ways, no longer seeking exclusive contracts, offering a wider array of healthier drinks, and toning down its promotional images in the schools.

HAGELSHAW: I think that Coke sees the writing on the wall.

SLOBOGIN: As for Pepsi, it says Coke's new policy is similar to what it's been doing all along, and that it's principals like Gainous who push for exclusive contracts.

(on camera): Are you worried that the food sold in these vending machines is encouraging kids to have worse eating habits?

GAINOUS: No. I think when the kids come to high school, their eating habits have already been established.

What do you think are the highest-selling items in a typical cafeteria? French fries, chicken nuggets and pizza.

SLOBOGIN: Coke has a new policy to discourage these kinds of exclusive contracts. What do you think of that?

GAINOUS: Great for them, bad for us.

SLOBOGIN (voice-over): In fact, Gainous doubts Coke's new policy will make much of a difference. As long as schools remain underfunded, he says, for school principals, soda contracts are the goose that lays the golden egg.

Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: In today's "Health Desk" extra, medicine and the World Wide Web. It seems like you can get just about anything you need on the Internet these days, even medical care. But a major drawback for doctors who want to help patients via e-mail is they don't get paid for it. But now there are several new programs in the works to reimburse these doctors.

Mason Essif has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MASON ESSIF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a wife, four kids and a busy sales job, Frank Carfioli is always on the go. He says he couldn't manage without e-mail.

FRANK CARFIOLI, PATIENT: It's my best way and favorite way to communicate effectively.

ESSIF: But until recently, Frank couldn't get an e-mail address for his physician. Dr. Mark Schafer didn't think it was safe, that is, until he found out about one Internet company based in northern California.

DR. MARK SCHAFER, BRISTOL PARK MEDICAL GROUP: Healinx is a secure system and has password protection. So it's much safer than general e-mail.

ESSIF: Secure or not, physicians just haven't been embracing the new technology. One survey found that for the last two years only about 13 percent of all doctors used e-mail with their patients.

SCHAFER: Doctors are afraid that they will have to spend too much time answering lengthy e-mails.

ESSIF: So insurance company Blue Shield of California is trying to compensate for that. In a just launched pilot study, some 200 physicians will get paid $20 for every e-mail consult.

DR. DONALD WENTZEL, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD: The reimbursement for the Web visit, I think, is a way to get physicians to explore this and to check it out and that's what we hope is going to happen through this pilot launch.

DR. RICHARD PARKER, BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS MEDICAL CENTER: I don't even think doctors need a financial incentive to use e-mail. I think just the reduction in the day to day workload by using it is an adequate incentive.

ESSIF: Dr. Richard Parker oversees the use of new technologies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and has been a long time advocate of doctor-patient e-mail, but not for a fee.

PARKER: Doctors don't charge for phone calls, so to start charging for e-mails doesn't make sense for me.

ESSIF: While it may save money by reducing unnecessary office visits, it may also make Blue Shield more competitive.

CARIOLI: I believe a Web visit would be an enhancement to any insurance policy and I would choose that insurance policy over another if I had the option to do so. ESSIF (on camera): Blue Shield isn't alone. First Health Group near Chicago is paying for some e-mail management of its chronically ill patients. If proven successful, more people may find their doctor is just a mouse click away.

Mason Essif for CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we travel to Africa and the Mideast. We'll look at famine threatening Sudan. It's a land hard hit by conflict and natural disaster. And we'll also examine a long running conflict between Jews and Arabs. Our focus, Palestine, a historic region that now consists of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Muslims, Christians and Jews all consider the region a sacred place. Did you know that there's never been an independent state of Palestine?

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: The political landscape of the land of Palestine has changed considerably over the past hundred years or so. From 1920 until 1947, the entire area known as Palestine was under British mandate, or administration, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during WWI. It was a period of relative peace.

Today, of course, the situation is much different. Palestine is divided between the nation of Israel, which gained its independence in 1948, and the Arab areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The ongoing conflict between the two groups has some Jews, at least, longing for the good old days. Jerrold Kessel explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five o'clock tea on the terrace, once it could have been quintessentially British, but the British quit the old walls of Jerusalem 53 years ago and now Israelis are looking back at the legacy of British rule here during the first half of the last century, the time of the British mandate in Palestine.

TOM SEGEV, ISRAELI AUTHOR, "ONE PALESTINE, COMPLETE": It's, of course, very strange that after 53 years of independence, we are longing to a colonial period but in a way we are longing to the ideal, you know, the ideal of having independence. Once you have it, it's OK. But it was beautiful to hope for and to wait for and to fight for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a new Jerusalem.

KESSEL: There seems to be even an element of hankering after those remote days, perhaps because Israel now appears to have run out of ideas about how to handle the present painful confrontation with the Palestinians within the very same borders that Britain's mandate covered.

SEGEV: People are longing for the illusion that prevailed under the British, the illusion that Jews and Arabs can live in peace in this country.

KESSEL: The notion of a rosy past is not confined to Jews.

NASSER ALDEEN NASHASHIHI, PALESTINIAN HISTORIAN: Radicalism spoiled everything in the Jewish camp and in the Arab camp. When you have radicals, you distort truth and you spoil life. So during the British mandate, everybody was happy and everybody was just and fair and civilized.

KESSEL: In 1917, British forces under General Lord Allenby took possession of Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turkish rulers. This, a memorial to the British soldiers who died in that campaign on the spot where power was yielded.

(on camera): Even though during the mandate period, Palestinians and Jews battled the colonial power fiercely while they were battling each other for supremacy in the land, the mandate is also engraved in political memory because, for the first time in 1,000 years, it gave defined and recognized boundaries to Palestine, and used Jerusalem as its capital.

(voice-over): In the words of the last Turkish governor, he handed over to the British conquerors one Palestine complete, leaving today's one Palestine complete with a primary lesson to be learned, says one Israeli political radical.

URI AVNERY, ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVIST: You can have independence without freedom, In many places of the world that is the rule. But you can't really have freedom without independence. It's a natural human instinct wanting to be independent, to have, to be ruled, for better or for worse, from your own, by your own people in your own language and your own culture. And therefore we could not remain under British rule and the Palestinians could not remain under our rule in the same way.

KESSEL: The conference about the legacy of the mandate was in the King David Hotel, a city landmark and a major symbol in the battles for the land. Members of one of the Jewish underground movements blew up the British headquarters that were located in part of the hotel. Right opposite, another Jerusalem landmark, the YMCA, dedicated, slightly wishfully, in 1933, a place whose atmosphere is peace, where political and religious jealousies can be forgotten. Out of kilter with the battles ongoing since the British departed between the two peoples who are still struggling for control of the land.

SEGEV: It's a conflict that can be managed but it's not a conflict that can be solved and I think this is something the British have realized 52 years ago and this is why they left. But it's much more difficult for Israel to get out than it was for Britain because the British just went home. For us, this is home. So it's very, very difficult to go anywhere.

WILLIAM SQUIRE, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, the British struggled with the issue for 30 years without finding a solution. Maybe people should look and realize that the reasons the British left was because only the two peoples themselves can settle these matters.

KESSEL: If they don't, history may teach them a lesson.

BERNARD LEWIS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: They can go on fighting each other and quarreling, in which case this region will sink lower and lower. It's already fallen behind most other parts of the world and sooner or later it will fall under another imperial domination, I don't know from where.

KESSEL: It's unlikely to be the British.

NASHASHIHI: I don't think the British would love to come back again here because it will add to their own troubles. They have enough island. One island is enough for the British and they don't need another island in Jerusalem.

KESSEL: A problematic legacy of a still unresolved conflict.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Sudan is a nation in crisis. Already racked by civil war, Africa's largest country by size is on the verge of yet another famine. About 32 million people live in Sudan, maybe three fourths in the country, many of them highly dependent on local agriculture for work and food. With parts of the country experiencing the driest season in living memory, officials around the world are concerned, and for good reason. An estimated two million people have already died from war and famine since 1983. That's when fighting broke out between the Muslim north and the Christian south.

As Amanda Kibel reports, international aid officials fear the number could go much higher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Kerbon (ph), northern Sudan, workers dig into the dry ground. They are part of the United Nations Food for Work Programme, building a water catchment for when the rainy season starts. But rain in Sudan is a long way off. For now, the country is gripped by what some say is the direst season in memory and what aid agencies fear could soon become a devastating drought and famine.

MASOOD HYDER, DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: I see a disaster unless the government appeals to the international community for assistance and cooperation. I see a disaster unless the donors respond to the needs of the people in Sudan. And I see a disaster unless the food arrives now and the clock is ticking.

KIBEL: Sudanese say there are no local crops to rely on. The situation this year, says this man, is very different from previous years. Families have not been able to get a good harvest, he says. The situation is very bad and they don't know what they will do. Sudan has been fighting a civil war for 18 years and the fighting continues, exacerbating the drought and making it impossible for the government to deal with. More than two million Sudanese victims of war rely directly on aid for survival. Over half a million others are affected by drought, the last serious drought less than three years ago. Aid agencies fear these numbers could soon soar.

HYDER: War continues. Fighting continues. The ability of the people to cope with this situation, to fend for themselves, has been seriously eroded.

KIBEL: Drought, famine and war have already displaced more than four million Sudanese. As this drought worsens and food becomes scarce, deserted huts and barred front doors signal more Sudanese on the move.

HYDER: They will add to the huge number of displaced persons in Sudan. Their nutritional status will drop dramatically and people will die.

KIBEL: The World Food Programme is asking the international community for $135 million to restock its food supplies and get it to the people. WPF says if it waits any longer it may be too late. Even if the money is there for food aid, it will take months to get it from the donors to the people in need.

Amanda Kibel, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: President Bush has completed his first 100 days in office and reviews of his performance so far are, well, as different as Democrats and Republicans themselves. The majority of conservatives are giving him a thumbs up, while many liberals say Mr. Bush just isn't making the grade.

CNN's senior White House correspondent John King has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: From the beginning, he promised to bring a different tone to Washington.

BUSH: We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos.

KING: One hundred days later, the White House view is mission accomplished.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Bush has created this new environment, this new atmosphere in Washington, which makes it harder for people to engage in such naked partisanship, harder for them to take the gloves off.

KING: But Democrats say it is mostly a mirage, all this talk of bipartisanship just that.

KEN DUBERSTEIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If you define bipartisanship as surrendering, then they have a point. But nobody's saying that the president, George W. Bush, should sacrifice his principles. There are places to hold firm. There are also places to compromise.

KING: Early on, Mr. Bush called the Congressional Black Caucus in for a meeting. But its leaders say he has done little to follow up. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle had a one-on-one lunch, as did the House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt. But the White House relied on Republicans to advance the president's tax cut plan.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: He has a lot of meetings, but it is all show and no go. It is, it seems, at least up until now, to be for the cosmetics of changing the tone but not really changing the result.

KING: But the tone is different. President Clinton rarely consulted with congressional Republicans and frequently took after them.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their way is the wrong way for America.

KING: Mr. Bush takes a kinder, gentler approach.

PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Certainly in setting the right tone, the president's done an excellent job. The American public was looking to turn the page and he has delivered on that.

LINDA DUVALL, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: The most interesting thing to me is that for eight years it seemed that conservative meant that you had to be intolerant and rude, and now George Bush is conservative and people are surprised that you can be optimistic, happy, a pleasant person to be with and still be a conservative.

KING: But a more civil tone goes only so far in healing the wounds of a bitterly-contested election.

HART: We are still very split as an electorate, that is, Republicans like George Bush very well. Democrats and independents are much more divided and negative. He really hasn't been able to reach across the aisle and corral many Democrats.

KING: Broadening the president's political base is a challenge for the second hundred days and beyond.

John King, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: And he has several hundred more days to go. That wraps up today's show. We'll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM is part of Cable in the Classroom, a service of the cable television industry and your local cable company.

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