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Beaches Make Serious Waves in Politics; Middle East Crisis Hits Home

Aired August 1, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. As many Americans head to the coast to beat the heat of August, the sand and the surf are making serious waves in American politics.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bill Schneider in Malibu, California. Is private beach an oxymoron? We'll let you know. Stay tuned, dudes.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bruce Morton at the waterfront in Washington. Are presidents often drawn to the sand and surf? A look at the history of beach goers.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, a look at America's eroding beaches. Are they eroding seriously, and will the water make you sick?

Thank you for joining us on this August 1. We are not only outside the Beltway, we have come to the beach because the shore is where many Americans will be heading during the coming months. Coastal tourism, believe it or not, is the fastest growing industry in the world. And here in the United States, 90 percent of all tourist dollars are being plumped down in coastal states by people who are mainly headed to the beach.

The popularity of the shore is raising a lot of tough political questions about property rights, about erosion, and about pollution. We are going to focus in those issues in the next hour and we'll try to have to little fun in the hot sun.

But first, the crisis in the Middle East is hitting close to home this day. And for the very latest from that region, let's turn to my colleague Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, Judy.

Later this hour, two of the five Americans killed in yesterday's bombing in Jerusalem begin the final journey home. A ceremony will be held just outside Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airport before their coffins are flown back to the United States. CNN will carry it live. Israeli police meanwhile now believe a cell phone triggered the bomb that was planted in the handbag at a cafeteria at Hebrew University.

Two Israelis were killed along with the five Americans, and more than 80 others were injured. A leader of Hamas, the group that claimed responsibility for the attack, said Americans were not being targeted. Nonetheless, President Bush said he's outraged.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just as angry as Israel is right now. I'm furious when innocent lives are lost. However, through my fury, even though I am mad, I still believe peace is possible.


BLITZER: Mr. Bush spoke to reporters during a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah on middle east issues. The White House press secretary Ari Fleischer says the king did not press his opposition to a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq. The president says the two have discussed the issue before and he hasn't changed his mind about Saddam Hussein.


BUSH: The policy of my government, our government, this administration, is regime change for a reason. Saddam Hussein is a man who poisons his own people, who threatens his neighbors, who develops weapons of mass destruction. And I will assure his majesty like I have in the past, we are looking at all options, use of all tools. I'm a patient man, but I haven't changed my opinion since the last time he was in the oval office.


BLITZER: Today, the president issued an order extending the sanctions against Iraq for another year, saying Saddam Hussein's government has continued to engage in activities hostile to U.S. interests.

On Capitol Hill, Iraqi experts told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States must follow through if it attacks Iraq and tries to topple Saddam Hussein. Meantime, sources tell CNN Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is very unhappy with the types of military plans and options he's getting on how to deal with Iraq. Sources say Rumsfeld has told the Pentagon he wants a plan developed for lightning quick attacks that he can present to the president in the next few weeks.

I'll be back later this hour with live coverage as the bodies of two Americans bombing victims start their trip, their very sad trip home from Israel. Right now though, let's go back to Judy Woodruff. She's at the beach and she's got more of "Inside Politics." Judy?

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Wolf and of course we'll be coming back to you if there are any news developments that break during this hour.

Many members of Congress are heading home for their August recess. It's an opportunity for some government workers in Washington it take a little time off. We are at, as we have been telling you, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. It is a popular vacation destination for people in the nation's capitol, about a three-hour drive from there. Here and at other beaches across the country, many Americans are trying to get away from it all. But are they?


(voice-over): The summer beach trip, a familiar ritual for just about every American within a day's drive of the ocean. And that's most of us. Kids play, teenagers hang out. Adults try to relax.


WOODRUFF: But life at the beach isn't all sun, surf and sand. There's traffic, exploding growth, skyrocketing housing costs, all the problems of the crowded suburbs, transplanted to the increasingly crowded coastlines.

(on-camera): Fifty years ago, the first Chesapeake Bay bridge opened, a 4.5-mile engineering marvel which transformed this part of the world. A second span was added in the '70s. In its first year a million cars crossed the bridge. This year, it'll be 25 million.

(voice-over): Same story, around the nation. New highways open, the old life gets swept away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me it is too much development too fast.

WOODRUFF: In the 1990s, the beach boom really took off, illustrated in the staggering rise in house prices. Back in the 1970s, houses on the water here in Rehoboth would sell for about $300,000.

By the mid 1990s, a cool million. Today this house, which needs work, has been on the market for $2.5 million. Same story in North Carolina, California, Maine, just about every state with a coastline. Not surprisingly, growth is the single biggest political issue in beach communities. Many have tried to slow it but even here in Rehoboth, where high rises are banned, the restaurants are opened year round and the shopping centers are typical American sprawl. Welcome to the beach, welcome to the burbs.


(on camera): Now we take a closer look at the beach environment. For that let's turn to CNN science correspondent, Ann Kellan. She's in Atlanta. Hi, Ann.

ANN KELLAN, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. State of beaches, let's take a look and see how they are doing.


KELLAN: With fewer shark attacks reported this year compared to last, you would think it was safe to go into the water. But a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council indicates that increased water pollution is causing more beach closings.

SARAH CHASIS, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: The principal cause of these were elevated bacteria levels in the water which are associated with the presence of human or animal waste.

KELLAN: NRDC reports 20 percent more closings last year compared to the previous year, meaning one of two things. Either the states are doing a better job monitoring the waters for pollution, or there is more pollution.

CHASIS: Until we have a comprehensive monitoring program around the country, that's consistent, year to year, community to community, it is very difficult to say whether the pollution problem is getting worse or better.

KELLAN: Pollution from sewage and runoff is just one of the problems gripping U.S. beaches. Erosion is another. While flooding and fierce storms wreak obvious and dramatic havoc to property on the coast, small changes and sifting sands and sea levels can also destroy valuable real estate along the shore.

An analysis by the Heinz (ph) Center for Science, Economics and the Environment found erosion could claim one in four houses within 500 feet of the shore over the next 60 years, about a half billion dollars of property loss a year. That's why the U.S. Geological Survey is involved in mapping every nook and cranny of the U.S. coast. Once complete, it will provide a baseline so slight changes along the coast can be monitored to determine erosion zones where builders and future home owners should avoid.


KELLAN: Now, this is not to stop you from going to the beach or buying homes, but to take extra precautions. If you want to head to a web site before you go to the beach, you check to see if they are doing any monitoring for pollution. is a good place to go. You can click on the individual state and what we did, we checked Florida and Delaware, since you're there, Judy. On the little dark spots that you see there, show that they are not monitoring. Where the white spots show that there is testing going on. Now to get the test results, past test results, you can go to There you can do a search on beaches and then look. We went to California because we heard that there are some beach closings there due it runoff pollution, clicked on L.A., and found the specific beach and found in fact, yes, they had tested in the past for bacteria.

And as you see, we can scroll through. You can you pop on the map there, and go to any state or any beach you want. But it is good to check and see what the past record, the past test results are, just to get a feeling if there is a problem with pollution. Now, to get the day of, you have to go or call the local park or health department. Unfortunately, they do not tend to post that on a major web site. So before you head to the beach, you want it probably check out and know a little bit about the beach before you go, because you wouldn't want to find, when you get there, that the beach is closed. Back to you, Judy. WOODRUFF: Ann, just quickly, were scientists caught off guard by some of these changes and problems at the beaches or have they been looking for this and ready for it?

KELLAN: I think it's such a new thing right now of analyzing beaches, I don't think they're caught off guard. I think they have been suspicious that there is pollution. And as we mentioned, that the monitoring is getting better now, so I think they are more aware of what's going on. Whether it's worse now, that they still can't say.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ann Kellan, our science correspondent in Atlanta. Thanks.

KELLAN: You're welcome.

WOODRUFF: Coming up next, is there a prescription for fixing America's beaches? My conversation with Dr. Beach. He's a professor campaigning to keep America's coastlines healthy. Also ahead,


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody would knock on your door as an apartment dweller or home owner and say that, you know, it is a really pretty view over there. We would love to set up some picnic place.


WOODRUFF: Who owns the beach? That is a heated question in Malibu for homeowners, including a Hollywood mogul and public activist.

And what can a political junky do at the beach on a rainy day? We sent our intrepid researcher Robert Mune (ph) to find out.




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