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Powell at World Economic Forum; Same-Sex Marriages Become Legal in Massachusetts Monday

Aired May 16, 2004 - 07:30   ET


WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Walter Rodgers at the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell finds Arab audiences almost totally unpersuaded by his efforts to sell the Bush administration's Middle East policies.
ROBERTS: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Thomas Roberts.

CHOI: And I'm Sophia Choi. We'll take you live to Jordan in a minute. But first, headlines at this hour.

Three people are dead following the collapse of an overpass near Denver, Colorado. An investigation into the cause of this collapse is now underway. The 40 ton support girder sagged down in front of traffic, crushing the victim's car. No other motorists were injured by this collapse.

At midnight tonight, Massachusetts will begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Cities in Oregon and New York and California allowed the marriages for a short time earlier this year. The move comes six months after the state supreme court ruled in favor of the marriages.

A policy change is expected to be announced today that could allow for lower cost AIDS treatment in hard hit places like Africa. New FDA procedures could permit faster reviews of AIDS drugs combinations. Approvals that now take six months will be cut down to six weeks.

Well, the second day of the World Economic Forum in Jordan brings an apology to Arab leaders from top U.S. officials. For details, we go live now to CNN's senior international correspondent Walter Rodgers, who's there live -- Walter?

RODGERS: The Bush administration, through Secretary of State Colin Powell, labored mightily to reverse the White House's overwhelmingly negative image in the Arab world. After the war in Iraq, after the abusive prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and more importantly, after allowing three years of stagnation in the Israeli- Palestinian peace talks.

Secretary of State Colin Powell blamed the lack of progress on none other than Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Still, this was largely an Arab audience. They were less than convinced. Most people in the Arab world believed the lack of progress stems from Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. And about the nicest thing that was said about Secretary Powell here was he's a good listener.


POWELL: I understand the frustration of the region. I understand the need for us to be seen as taking action. And I think we're taking action with respect to Iraq. And I think we are taking action to respect to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And we're certainly helping our friends as they move forward on reform.


RODGERS: One Arab analyst said the Americans now find themselves in a deep hole in the Middle East. And all they seem to be able to do is dig themselves deeper and deeper into it.

So while Secretary of State Powell came to this conference, which is dominated by Arab officials, seeking reconciliation and rapprochement, he seems to have left the Middle East pretty much as he found it.

Back to you.

CHOI: Walter with the violence in various parts of the world. The security there with those world leaders there must be immense.

RODGERS: It's supposed to be, but I found that I could walk in with a cell phone in my pocket. No one even bothered to check it. And I'm not sure it's all that secure. That was just my personal experience.

It's supposed to be immense, but it -- it's porous.

CHOI: Man, that is shocking. Walter, thank you for that. Amazing.

Well, the World Economic Forum wraps up tomorrow.

ROBERTS: Fifty years ago in its Brown versus the Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court ruled that having separate schools for white and black children was unconstitutional and inherently unequal.

Since then, African-Americans have made great strides. But as CNN Dan Lothian reports, there's still a troubling education gap between black and white students.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Juwan Miter gets ready for school, his single mother is already working a 4:30 a.m. shift at the post office.

Juwan, a star athlete, will soon graduate with a B+ average. Twice a month, he dresses up to help lead the minority achievement committee, the MAC scholars.

The Mac scholars are high achieving black seniors, who mentor younger peers.

JUWAN MITER, STUDENT: Yes, I just want to know from your point of view, what is average mean?

LOTHIAN: They are fighting a national problem.

The national average SAT score for black students is more than 200 points below the average for white students. And even where the parents make $100,000 and finish graduate school, the gap is still 141 points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going to close the earnings gap in America. We're not going to have racial equality without closing the educational gap. It really is that simple.

LOTHIAN: Every day the Mac scholars see black adolescents facing the same teenage turbulence as their white classmates, but with an added twist.

For those who think getting good grades means they're acting white, rap music's gangsters and thugs offer an alternative to be authentically black.

JOCK WILLIAMS, SHAKER HEIGHTS SENIOR: A lot of black students, we want to be athletes and rappers because we only see that sweet part. We're seeing the cars, the houses, the girls, the money, the clothes. We're seeing all that good stuff.

LOTHIAN: The Mac scholars are trying to change the mindset of fellow students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of times African-Americans don't -- they don't see school as a means to an end to success. They don't take it as seriously. And they might think, oh, white -- they're going to be smarter than me.

LOTHIAN: Ironically, a generation of parents raised on the optimism of the Civil Rights movement, may inadvertently be raising their children with pessimism.

SAM FULLWOOD, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: We have seen among middle class blacks what I described as integration fatigue. A family will come home for dinner and sit around the dinner table and talk about how tough it was at work, how the man was keeping them from being able to get ahead and work.

Well, junior's sitting there or Missy is sitting there, listening to this kind of conversation, and can draw some conclusions that will say why would I want to do that? I'm going to become a rapper. And rappers don't have to study.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHOI: Tonight, CNN PRESENTS looks deeper into the education gap in a special report called "The Gap: Fifty Years After Brown v. the Board of Education."

Tune in at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for that.

The Supreme Court banned segregation in public schools where the Brown versus Board of Education. In the five decades since, society as a whole has changed.

So why are many African-Americans now choosing to live separately from whites? Coming up next hour, you will meet members of a segregated community. Find out why they made the choice and what some of them say they would not do it again on CNN SUNDAY MORNING at 8:00 Eastern.

ROBERTS: Then at 9:00 Eastern for you, the first court martial related to the alleged torture of Iraqi prisoners is set to begin on Wednesday. Military attorney is going to join us live to examine the high profile case.

Then at 9:30, a family takes a bold move. They pack up their belongings, stuff them in an RV, and escape the rat race and search of a quieter, friendlier place to live. We're going to talk to them live on CNN SUNDAY at 9:00.

But first, you can't vote if you aren't registered. And the clock is ticking. So where do you go? And how do you get your neighbor to sign up? News you can use next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.


CHOI: Well, it may seem like the November election is a long way off, but if you're not a registered voter, the deadline to get signed up is creeping up on you.

We have some tips now on how to register and when to do it, so your voice and your choice will count come election day.

Here to talk about that is David Moon of the Center for Voting and Democracy.

So David, take us through the registration process. What do you need to do? And what should you take into consideration at this point?

DAVID MOON, CENTER FOR VOTING AND DEMOCRACY: Well, I guess the first thing that you have to consider is timelines. Now every state sets its own timelines for registration, as well as identification requirements. So you've got to make sure that you get your registration form, as well as any absentee requests in on time.

Now the window ranges from generally about five weeks in advance to same day registration in some states, but same day registration is the exception to the rule. There are only about six states that allow that. And in terms of identification, states range from anything they're requiring a Social Security number, to a driver's license. And then others will allow you to track none of the above if you don't have that.

But again, every state has its own requirements. So you've got to check with your local state board of elections to figure out what your particular state requires.

CHOI: And David, I know these days, you can actually register in many states, just like getting a driver's license. But where else can you register?

MOON: Well, you know, the -- I guess the traditional way. You can go to the post office, most public libraries. But increasingly, there -- a lot of state board of elections have all this information on -- and forms on the Internet. And so, and one of the greatest things to happen, actually, is that there's now a national voter registration application that's used in all but maybe three states or so.

And so you can just go type in your information, print it out, and mail it. Now the important thing to remember is if you're going to be mailing in your voter registration, when you go to the poll to vote for the first time, you need to bring with you an identification. So driver's license or a utility bill, a paycheck, or a government check will do.

CHOI: What about if you move or, you know, change your name or address?

MOON: Yes, I mean, the general rule of thumb here is if you have some sort of change like that, you have to notify your board of elections pretty promptly. If you're moving to a different state, for example, you're going to have to re-register to vote in that new state.

If you're moving within states, you know, address change form should be sufficient. I mean, actually, the National Voter Registration Form allows you to do that.

But again, you're still subject to time and reporting requirements. So please make sure to follow all the time requirements, because we don't want you to go to the polls and then be turned away.

CHOI: Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to vote?

MOON: Well, you know, I think most people in the country don't realize that there's no national right to vote. And we -- you know, probably the constitution should be amended to add that.

That being said, none of the 50 states allows non-citizens to vote. But there are seven cities that allow non-citizen voting. Usually in local or school board elections. And actually, Takoma Park, Maryland, where the Center for Voting and Democracy is located, is one of those jurisdictions. And Chicago, and a couple in Maryland.

CHOI: What about naturalized citizens?

MOON: Naturalized citizens can vote. Yes, that is the case. So shouldn't have any problems with that.

CHOI: All right, what if an absentee ballot is needed? Where do I go? What then?

MOON: Actually, on the Center's Web site,, we have voter information center where we have links to all these requirements, including absentee forms.

Now if you're overseas, for example, there's a federal post card application that you use to vote absentee. And that's available through consular offices, as well as through your office on a military base.

If you're within the United States, you're going to have to get that from your local state board of elections. But again, you can do that in person at the board of elections office or on the Internet.

CHOI: David Moon from the Center for Voting and Democracy, thank you so much. It's been truly educational.

MOON: Thanks for having me.

CHOI: Sure. Thomas?

ROBERTS: Sophia, we move on now to a different kind of vote. And you don't need to register for this one. Can America fairly elect its idol? You know, it's down now to the final three, but if you think you know which one is the clear winner, you might want to think again.


LATOYA LONDON, FINALIST: The public has their opinion of me. And you just can't predict anything.



ROBERTS: Some people are crying foul over this week's "American Idol" results, but the show says no rules have been broken.

CNN's Sibila Vargas reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, leaving the competition will be Latoya London.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An idol went down. And the ire went up. RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE: I think it's crazy.

PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE: America got this wrong.

VARGAS: Even caddy judge Simon Cowell seemed at a loss for words.

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE: You know, it's...

MICHAEL AUSIELLO, TV GUIDE: Latoya was clearly the frontrunner to win this thing. And the fact that she got voted out is just shocking.

VARGAS: Latoya London's exit left just three potential idols in the finals. Fantasia Burino of North Carolina, Georgia's Diana Degarmo, and Hawaiian Jasmine Trias.

AUSIELLO: I thought for sure Jasmine was going to be sent home packing. How could they possibly pick her over someone like Latoya London?

VARGAS: That was a question many of the more than 20 million viewers tuned into "American Idol" Wednesday wanted answers.

COWELL: Jasmine, you have a lot of thank you letters to write to Hawaii.

VARGAS: In the hometowns of both Degarmo and Trias, locals are rallying. And get out the vote efforts rival political campaigns.

Votes are cast through phone calls. And there is no limit to the number of times an individual can call in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are organized groups rooting for Jasmine. We actually have online communities that encourage people to call in. Call in for the Hawaii girl.

VARGAS: And call in they did, at least according to one phone company. Verizon says of all calls not just to "American Idol," in their 29 state region, only New York and California logged more calls than Hawaii.

And of course, California and New York have many more people than Hawaii.

COWELL: America will decide who the winners of this competition are. That's the nature of this show.

VARGAS: Fox won't reveal exactly how many votes are cast each week, but the network and "Idol" producers issued a statement Thursday saying, "The producers and network have gone to great lengths to ensure the integrity of the voting process on American Idol. America votes, an independent company calculates the tally, and the show reports those results."

LATOYA LONDON, FMR. FINALIST: Their public their opinion of me. And you just can't predict anything.

AUSIELLO: You don't have to win "American Idol" in order to be a super star. I mean, look at Clay Aiken. He is like a phenomenon right now. And Ruben Studdard is sort of below the radar.

VARGAS: Sibila Vargas, CNN, Hollywood.


ROBERTS: Were you surprised?

CHOI: You know, I don't really watch that show.

ROBERTS: You don't, no?

CHOI: But I have to say I wonder if you can vote more than once.


CHOI: I mean, do you they allow you call like repeatedly?

ROBERTS: You can call as many times as you want. I think the -- you know, Fox, the show, it weights itself on the fact that people can call in and that you have the power to say who the American Idol is. So I don't they're going to go ahead and try and script it to boot Latoya off. She just didn't get the votes.

CHOI: But I think she will get a record deal in the end.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. She's not going anywhere. We're going to hear her for a long time to come.

CHOI: I think this is what they call idol chit chat, don't you?

ROBERTS: Idol chit chat, exactly. Moving on.

CHOI: Yes.

Are you scared of heights or spiders or anything? 12 percent of Americans struggle with phobias. But relief is on the way. In case you missed it yesterday, tune in today. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell you how to fight off nightmares this morning on "House Call" at 8:30 Eastern.

ROBERTS: But first, next time you shop at Target, take a good look around. That's right. Look left and right. The richest of the rich might be browsing the aisles right beside you.

CHOI: And don't forget your assignment this morning. We are asking you to come up with a caption for this chase. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you go. We'll read some of them next.


ROBERTS: Well, if you ever wonder why rich people have money to burn, here's one reason for you. A survey of some high income households shows the wealth field may be wearing down their heels running for that blue light special, just like everybody else.

The American Affluence Research Center says that 69 percent of rich men like to save by shopping at Home Depot. 49 percent of them cut costs at Costco. And 46 percent tally up their totals at Target.

The numbers are similar for well to do women. 61 percent target Target. 60 percent hit the Home Depot. And 54 percent buy big at Costco.

CHOI: Well, I have to say I love all three of those stores.

ROBERTS: Costco, I've been to Costco many times whenever you're out of like 40 gallon olive oil...

CHOI: Yes.

ROBERTS: go to Costco. You get it on the cheap.

CHOI: Well, you cannot beat Target, I'm telling you.

ROBERTS: It's good stuff. Who doesn't like a bargain?


CHOI: Well, here's a quick update now on our top stories. A damning accusation, a story in "The New Yorker" magazine says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized a secret program to encourage the humiliation and abuse of Iraqi prisoners to obtain intelligence. The Pentagon strongly denies it.

Secretary of State Colin Powell apologized for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American soldiers. He did so in Jordan, while attending the World's Economic Forum. The scandal has hurt U.S.-Arab relations.

ROBERTS: Want to lighten things up here a touch now, talk about our caption contest for you this Sunday morning.

Take a peek at this picture. A police on motor scooters were attempting to pull over an ostrich, who escaped from a children's petting zoo. This happening in Taiwan. So we wanted to find out from you what you think would look good, your caption under here.

This first one coming into us from Mark in Virginia, saying, "Pull over, Lady." I think it's a girl, maybe.

CHOI: And we have another e-mail from Vicky in White Plains, New York. "What's all the flap about, officer, I was only doing 45?"

So funny. And by the way, that's about as fast as an ostrich can run, yes.

ROBERTS: It's so funny -- you can see in the picture that the officer there really is -- with his left arm, he's trying to reach out, grab a hold of the ostrich. But what do you think? Your caption here. You can e-mail us, Coming up in the next hour and throughout the morning. We'll talk about the captions.

CHOI: And by the way, the ostrich the heaviest and largest bird in the world.

ROBERTS: A little fast fact for you.


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