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NEWSROOM for May 31, 2001

Aired May 31, 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.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: It is the final day of May 2001, and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome, everyone. I'm Tom Haynes.

And here's what's coming up.

In "Today's News," the 40th anniversary of Amnesty International -- how this global group is trying to make the world a better place. Then, in "Science Desk," advances in technology and changes to existing laws, all in the name of helping the disabled. In "Worldview," a stop in Africa and teenagers bordering the fine line between hard labor and slavery. Finally, in "Chronicle," military- style high schools -- a profile of an institution that looks a lot like the Army.

Amnesty International marks its 40th anniversary. The group, which aims to improve human rights worldwide, released its annual report Wednesday. Repression, poverty and war are listed as major problems in several nations. Amnesty cites one of its main achievements as holding international leaders accountable for human rights abuses they commit.

Margaret Lowrie has more on some of the group's global accomplishments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed.

MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Peter Benenson wrote those words 40 years ago in a British newspaper after reading about two Portuguese students arrested for toasting liberty in a Lisbon restaurant. With that, Amnesty International was born, a campaign to rally public opinion against human rights abuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We continue to receive letters from all over the world.

LOWRIE: Within a year, Amnesty would be active in seven countries, adopting 210 prisoners of conscience and documented 1200 other cases.

JONATHAN POWER, AUTHOR, "LIKE WATER ON STONE": You have the civil rights movement in America, you have the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa; these were kind of big things. But what Benenson did, what his brain wave was, was to take the idea of the lone, solitary political prisoner, and say, let's just campaign for this individual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amnesty International's fight is your fight.

LOWRIE: Today, Amnesty's fight takes place in more than 100 countries. It's taken up 47,000 cases since 1961 and has more than a million members and supporters.

BEN OKRI, NIGERIAN WRITER AND POET: I see them as one of the great vocal forces in the world for human freedom. They've not only glamorized this fight, they've made it into a real force that nations have to deal with.

LOWRIE: A force raised in support of the alleged victims of former Chilean military ruler, Augusto Pinochet or for lesser known cases such as that of Michael Gayle, who Amnesty insists was murdered at a Jamaican security checkpoint in 1999. Amnesty says it is not anti-government, rather it tries to work with authorities.

PIERS BANNISTER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: So, in many times, Amnesty is accused of being -- they say: You're asking us to do that. Why should we do it because you say so? And our reply is, actually, what we're asking to do is what you've already agreed to do by your participation in the United Nations and no more.

LOWRIE: Amnesty's logo, a candle with barbed wire, inspired by a Chinese proverb: Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. And that, its supporters say, is what Amnesty International has been for the last four decades, a flicker of hope in the shadow of man's inhumanity to man.

Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: The Supreme Court ruled, Tuesday, that disabled golfer Casey Martin may use a cart in professional golf tournaments. It's only the latest in a string of cases that have helped shape the boundaries of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Charles Bierbauer has details on where the ADA stands now and where it may be headed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Casey Martin's biggest victory came in court, not on the course.

CASEY MARTIN, PRO GOLFER: If this can open doors for people in sport, in golf, or just in life in general, then I think that's great. BIERBAUER: But the Supreme Court plays on narrow fairways, assessing each case individually.

CHAI FELDBLUM, GEORGETOWN LAW CENTER: There won't be a flood of lawsuits. The people who need to get in to where they need to get into will be helped by this decision.

BIERBAUER: If they, like Martin, can prove a restrictive rule is not essential. Previous cases have not always helped those who thought they were covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. The justices decided the law covers a person with the HIV virus, but not high blood pressure that's treatable with medication.

It covers state prisoners but not state employees seeking to sue the state. Advocates for the disabled say there's public backlash when the court broadens the law.

ANDY IMPARATO, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: They'll say it should just be about people in wheelchairs, blind people and deaf people. And clearly that was not Congress's intention.

FELDBLUM: When we worked on passage of ADA in Congress, people with epilepsy, people with diabetes, people with prosthetic legs were all assumed to be people with disabilities.

BIERBAUER: Feldblum says now that Congress knows the court's parameters, it should amend the 1990 law to include, for example, impairments that can be treated or corrected, such as cancer and eyesight. But some of the disabled community want encouraging signals from Congress and the Bush Administration before risking what they've already gained.

IMPARATO: We were worried that we might end up with amendments to the law that would make it worse or weaker, not stronger.

BIERBAUER (on camera): Meanwhile, more ADA cases are coming. May an airline employee with back problems buck the seniority system to claim a different job? Must an assembly worker with carpal tunnel syndrome be accommodated because she can't do all her required tasks? Both cases are on the court's fall calendar.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Be sure to stay put, there's more to come. Our next report focuses on technological advances for the disabled. That's coming your way next in "Science Desk" right now.

We want to continue talking about the Supreme Court decision giving professional golfer Casey Martin the right to use a golf cart in tournaments. The big question: What is the long-term impact of the court's decision.

Rea Blakey reports on the advances in technology and changes in the laws that are allowing the disabled to become more, well, able.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REA BLAKEY, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may not consider a golf cart to be assistive technology, but the Supreme Court does. The court's decision allowing professional golfer Casey Martin to ride in a golf cart between holes, as opposed to walking the course, is considered a major victory by advocates for people with disabilities.

PAUL STEVEN MILLER, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION COMMISSIONER: As long as people with disabilities can do the core functions of a job or the sport, then peripheral functions can be accommodated.

BLAKEY: Another major milestone occurred when Erik Weihenmayer recently became the first blind person to climb Mount Everest. He utilized a rather low-level technology to accomplish his spectacular feat: He followed the sounds of bells tied to the jackets of other climbers and guides.

Advanced technology is also helping people with disabilities reach new heights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, it just told us that the National Air and Space Museum was where?

MATT ATER: Behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's on our left, and it's 87 feet to our left.

BLAKEY: Global positioning systems, which are basically talking city maps, are helping the visually-impaired better navigate the world.

ATER: It's a good device to have when you don't have somebody walking with you, you're walking by yourself.

BLAKEY: CyberLink, a system that translates the slightest body movements into voltage, provides computer access to people who otherwise would not be able to move a mouse. It's another way technology can translate into employment. Recent surveys indicate only about half of the people with disabilities who can work actually get jobs.

MILLER: As technology becomes more integrated in how we work and how we play and the cost of technology comes down, people with disabilities are going to be able to be integrated in an easier fashion.

BLAKEY (on camera): Computers, golf carts, even ringing bells, all represent technologies that enable people who otherwise be left out.

Rea Blakey, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA MARSLAND, ORLANDO, FLORIDA: My name is Jessica Marsland. And I'm from Orlando, Florida. And my question is: Why do we only use a small percentage of our brain?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You may have heard that we only use as little as 15 percent of our brain. But what does that really mean?

There are certain areas of the brain that we call the eloquent areas. They give us the ability to speak, move, remember, use judgment, in addition to controlling our basic life functions such as heart rate and breathing.

These areas make up a surprisingly small part of the brain. The rest of the brain, in some way, supports the more important areas of the brain by providing connections between them and also supplying them with nutrients.

So, in reality, as you'd expect, all of the brain is used, just some parts more than others.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: In "Worldview," more on working conditions, but this time they have nothing to do with the disabled. Our stories take us to the United States where domestic workers are sometimes underpaid and to the Ivory Coast where child laborers are often overworked. We'll also find out about a growing global problem: identity theft.

But first, we head to Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban are still refusing to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. This, even after four alleged bin Laden associates were found guilty of bombing two U.S. embassies in 1998.

With more on why the Taliban continue to treat bin Laden as an honored guest, Satinder Bindra has this exclusive report from Kandahar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even after a U.S. court has found four alleged associates of Osama bin Laden guilty in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, the Taliban government continues to assert his innocence.

REHMATULLAH HASHMI, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR AT LARGE: We don't condone the attacks on the embassies of the United States in Kenya and Tanzania. They were also acts of terrorism. But how do we know that bin Laden is behind them?

BINDRA: Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime, which controls 95 percent of the country, says bin Laden will remain their honored guest because in 1998, Washington tried to kill him.

HASHMI: They just striked Afghanistan with 75 cruise missiles and announced that they wanted to kill bin Laden. So they missed bin Laden, and they killed 19 other innocent Afghans.

BINDRA: Washington remains unmoved by Taliban claims of bin Laden's innocence. U.S. authority suspect the exile Saudi of masterminding this attack on the USS Cole in Yemen last year, which killed several sailors.

The U.S. government is now offering a $5-million award for information leading to bin Laden's arrest. But it's unlikely anyone in Afghanistan will turn him in. Here, bin Laden is a hero transformed into a pitchman for selling traditional Afghan products like this turbine. Many also remember bin Laden fondly for fighting in the 1980s against the invading Soviet forces.

Now, as the U.N. has imposed sanctions against the Taliban for refusing to hand over bin Laden, the Taliban government says it will not be intimidated. Senior leaders say they can cope with economic pain, but they'll never compromise their honor.

HASHMI: They want to resolve this problem, they have to talk to us. They have to see us as a responsible government of Afghanistan.

BINDRA: Many here are also bitter because they believe Washington's Afghan policy is driven by just one factor: bin Laden.

(on camera): The Taliban says it's time the American people convinced their government to pour more aid to help millions of Afghans fighting a drought the United Nations describes as Afghanistan's worst crisis in recent memory.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: In the African nation of Ivory Coast, there is a fine line between hard labor and slavery. Just ask many of the teenagers recruited to work in the coffee fields. Ivory Coast's economy is heavily dependent on the two crops and farmers are heavily dependent on young labor to harvest them. Of course what those young workers make in a year, many teens could probably make in less than a week working part-time at a local fast food restaurant. Worse yet, many laborers in the Ivory Coast never see the cash they've earned.

Alfonso Van Marsh looks at a system that is, at best, unfair and at worst, abusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALFONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's off to the fields for these African children. They are a few of an estimated 15,000 youths from the world's poorest nations working cocoa farms across the Ivory Coast. Exposed to tropical heat, hacking away at weeds with machetes that leave their skin blistered and scared. Seventeen-year-old Abel Kora from Burkina Faso has been working the farm for almost a year. He's one of 29 children.

ABEL KORA, CHILD LABORER (translated by Van Marsh): I graduated from primary school, he says, but my father didn't have the money to send me to high school.

VAN MARSH: The Ivory Coast produces 40 percent of the world's cocoa and is Africa's largest coffee producer. Children who work the farms, like Kora, are in high demand and earn about $100 per year.

Child labor recruiter Roger Kabore says that's a considerable amount of money, but the children rarely see the cash.

ROGER KABORE, FARMER/RECRUITER (translated by Van Marsh): I don't give money to boys. I go to see the parents, he says, and I give the money to them. They can buy a cow, and they can keep some of the money for the boy.

VAN MARSH: But the practice of recruiting youth is seen by some as a modern form of slavery. The U.N. says child traffickers smuggle some 200,000 children across western and central African borders each year.

Kabore says he pays families about $1.50 per child, something he sees as a gift -- a gesture of respect. Farmers pay him $20 to cover transportation costs, and Kabore says he sometimes accepts gifts, as well, of around $30 from the farmers upon delivery.

Many families send off their children believing they'll learn a new skill or trade for a better life. Once away from a parent's watchful eye, children like Abel Kora run the risk of learning nothing more than a life of hard labor.

Alfonso Van Marsh, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More on the labor force as we head to the United States. More and more working families across the country depend on domestic workers to help take care of their kids and clean their homes while they head off to work. It's a lifestyle no longer limited to the wealthy. The problem is, as some domestic workers say, they've been exploited by employers who pay them less than minimum wage.

Minimum wage is the smallest amount of money per hour that an employer may legally pay a worker. Minimum wage in the U.S. varies from state to state. Some states have no minimum wage rate at all.

Thelma Gutierrez has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a typical morning in Los Angeles. Professional moms like Gina Monaci scramble to feed her family and get to work on time. Something, she says, she couldn't do without the help of Aldomel Garr (ph), her son's nanny.

GINA MONACI, WORKING MOTHER: Because I'm a working mom, a lot of times when I come home I can't just be like there for them.

GUTIERREZ: This relationship between working woman and nanny is a growing trend in areas where there are Latin American immigrants. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the heart of downtown. Women hop trains down to more affluent areas where they will work as nannies and housekeepers.

(on camera): They leave at the break of dawn. Oftentimes, the commute can take an hour one way.

(voice-over): Some of the women told us they have kids of their own; but with few skills and limited English, domestic work is one of the only ways to make a living.

PIERRETTE HONDAGNEU-SOTELO, SOCIOLOGIST: Paid domestic work is a job and it's covered by minimum wage laws. Many Americans are not aware of that.

GUTIERREZ: Sociologist Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo estimates, in Los Angeles Country alone, there are 100,000 domestic workers. Women, she says, who are often exploited, paid in cash too little too often.

With no real enforcement of current labor laws, Rossana Perez, an activist for immigrant's rights, rides trains and buses each and every morning to educate women about minimum wage and their rights as workers.

ROSSANA PEREZ, IMMIGRANT'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It is important for them to know what their rights are so then they can protect themselves.

GUTIERREZ: Gina says it's also up to the employers, like herself, to follow the rules. After all, she says, it's the women like Outa (ph) who make it possible for professional women in this country to go to work knowing their kids are in safe hands.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CO-HOST: The Internet has revolutionized how we communicate and do business. It links people all around the world and has established itself as part of the new economy. But with all the excitement over the relatively new found medium comes the challenge of making the Internet a safe and secure place to interact.

The Internet is open and available to as many people who want to use it so the risk of bad guys or thieves prowling the Net is real. And as the number of intruders who can access the Net grows, so does the threat to your security. Did you know that each year hundreds of thousands of people become victims of identity theft where a hacker gets access to personal information and in some cases, even access to bank accounts and Social Security numbers?

Kelli Arena has examples of how this crime is carried out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ladeene Freimuth's nightmare started when she got a call from the Detroit Police Department.

LADEENE FREIMUTH, IDENTITY THEFT VICTIM: My identity had been discovered in a fraud case, and that my name and social security number had been used to purchase a number of products and opened a number of accounts.

ARENA: Unfortunately, her troubles are far from over.

FREIMUTH: Some of my own credit cards that I've had for years have not been sending me new credit cards because of the damage that's been done.

ARENA: It's estimated about half a million people fall prey to identity theft each year. Examples include criminals obtaining credit cards and loans in someone else's name, opening utility accounts, even purchasing a home.

Gathering someone's private information is easier than you might think.

Take, for example, this Web site, www.infoseekers.net, where for just $26 you can obtain someone's social security number.

BETSY BRODER, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: Now, it's entirely legal to go online and purchase someone's social security number.

ARENA: The Federal Trade Commission is pushing tougher online privacy laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for calling the FTC ID theft hot line.

ARENA: And it's created a hot line, so victims can report identity theft.

The FBI now has 200 agents who conduct computer intrusion investigations. And it's helping out on the local level.

RON DICK, DIRECTOR, NIPC: We have trained in fiscal year 2000 over 2,000 state, local, federal and foreign investigators how to conduct cyber crime investigations.

ARENA: Despite increased law enforcement, officials say there's no sure fire way to completely protect your private information. Just ask Ladeene Freimuth. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: During the 2000 U.S. presidential race, we heard a lot about the need to improve the condition of public schools, and President Bush has said education remains his top priority. Well, today we focus on a cluster of schools in Chicago that appear to be winning a crucial battle in education.

Kathy Slobogin gives us a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may look like the Army and sound like the Army, but it's a public school, one of eight such schools in the city of Chicago.

Chicago has the largest military buildup of any school system in the country: 10 percent of its high school students are now in uniform.

An assistant says it's making a difference.

SUPT. PAUL VALLAS, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Students in those military schools have stronger attendance than students as a whole and higher grade point averages than students as a whole.

SLOBOGIN: Superintendent Paul Vallas says most of the military- style high schools don't have academic entrance requirements, but they do require the student to make a commitment.

VALLAS: What gives the military academy programs the edge is this contractual commitment to meeting certain behavioral standards: I will show up at school, I will not have bad attendance, I will not be a disciplinary problem, and I will follow the classroom rules.

SLOBOGIN: Bronzeville Academy was the first military-style school in Chicago. It's housed in a World War I armory in the heart of the city's notorious Robert Taylor Homes.

The uniforms are provided by the U.S. Army. Socks must be black. Nails must be clean. Uniforms must be perfect. Students without them are sent home.

Although this cadet is merely demonstrating his skill, pushups are used as discipline here.

(on camera): Behind all the spit and polish, there are solid academic gains. More than half the students here test at or above national norms in reading and math, and their scores are 40 percent higher than the citywide average.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you fumble, you get to start over one time. SLOBOGIN (voice-over): Except for the daily military drills, the curriculum is standard for Chicago schools. What stands out here is an insistence on presentation.

This teacher is judging not just content, but verbal stumbles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You had four.

LAVIN CURRY, CADET: I was an out-of-control student. I was getting in trouble.

SLOBOGIN: Today, Lavin Curry is being promoted to sergeant first class, for academic achievement. A 16-year-old who has never known his father and whose mother was unable to raise him, Lavin was getting C's and D's when he came here -- now it's A's and B's.

CURRY: I march so much now I can find myself just walking down the street marching by accident, swinging my arms -- and I look and think, what am I doing -- I'm not in school? I mean, it helps, it carries with you; what you do here carries to the outside.

SLOBOGIN: Retired Brigadier General Frank Bacon, who runs Bronzeville, says, like many students, Lavin Curry has been changed by the school.

BRIG. GEN. FRANK BACON, RET.: We had our difficulty with him the first year, and we did some behavior modification on him, and he tells me that he's happy that we did.

CURRY: I actually saw that they were fighting for me and they wanted me to stay, so if they really wanted me to stay that much, then there must be something that they see in me.

SLOBOGIN: Now Lavin plans to go to college. Superintendent Vallas says the military model goes beyond uniforms and drills to reach the students.

VALLAS: I really think that the military academies create a sense of family. There's a real emphasis on looking out for your other student.

CURRY: I think that's more than just the military, the saluting, and the uniform: It's a lot of love, too.

SLOBOGIN: Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Well, here's something a whole lot of college grads have in common: huge debt. But now there's a new option for students facing massive monthly payments on their student loans.

Wolf Blitzer reports on a new idea in gift giving.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as you seek out the bridal registry for the right gift for the bride-to-be, and the baby registry for expectant mothers, now a new registry to help find that perfect gift for your favorite graduate. Gradfree.com is an on-line registry for students and graduates who recruit friends and relatives to help pay off their college loans.

ADAM LLOYD, FOUNDER, GRADFREE.COM: The gift-giver gets to find a gift that's really meaningful, that has -- it acknowledges the commitment that the students made, the commitment they have made to their education, to their future and the financial obligation that comes along with that.

BLITZER: Founder Adam Lloyd has relied on technology for most of his life, since an accident in the eighth grade left him paralyzed. A recent graduate himself, Lloyd got the idea when friends couldn't afford to travel to a bachelor party, citing the burden of college loans.

How does it work? Students click on and register their loan information on the database. For their part, the gift-givers use the search engine to find the student. Credit card payment goes directly to the student's loan account.

LLOYD: If you get three day planners, it's completely redundant. You get three gifts of loan repayment, well, it's triple the benefit.

BLITZER: And it's something university financial aid offices support, since many former students default on their loans.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: Well, I know you want us to stick around, but you know what, that's all the time we have. We got to go. That's CNN NEWSROOM for Thursday. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.

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