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CNN Newsnight Aaron Brown
Saudis, U.S. Continue to Disagree on War Against Iraq; Unexpected Optimism Felt Following Baseball Labor Negotiations
Aired August 27, 2002 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, GUEST HOST: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper in for Aaron Brown, who is still on assignment -- golfing. He'll be back next week -- not over my dead body. It's summer, August, and who can blame me for having fantasies of shirking my duties here and going for a road trip?
The car: a '79 black Camaro, silver interior. Lance Bass would be in the back with one Olsen twin on each arm. And, of course, Charles Nelson Reilly would be riding shotgun with a cold 40 in his hand, singing along in that raspy voice way of his to the Judas Priest blaring from the eight track.
I bring up all these names because they all somehow make it into tonight's program. The last Camaro rolled off into car history today, and Camaros are near and dear to my heart because my family's first car was a Camaro.
I know, you are probably thinking why wasn't I removed by child welfare right then and there? My mom bought the car. Why? I'm still not sure. We will talk to her at the end of the program. And, yes, I do still talk to her.
There there's Lance Bass of 'NSync. Nickname: scoop. Favorite colors: red and blue. Favorite food: French toast. And, childhood ambition: to be the first astronaut who can make 13-year-olds faint on cue. NASA gave him the OK today.
We'll also have an alarming report on national security. And, the Olsen twins. They'll be presenters at the MTV music video awards. Their ruthless quest for global domination one step closer to completion. Be very afraid; be very afraid.
And then, of course, there's Charles Nelson Reilly, who still hasn't called us back. Last night, we extended a hand in friendship, inviting him on the program, but we are not giving up. We've enlisted the help of the "Wall Street Journal," reporter Jeffrey Zaslow, who placed a direct call to CNR's home today on our behalf. Still haven't heard back, however. Do you think Charles Nelson Reilly could be on assignment with Aaron Brown? Nevertheless, please call us.
The news, as always, comes first tonight. We begin The Whip with the president's meeting today with Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia. Kelly Wallace is in Crawford, Texas, tonight -- Kelly, the headline. KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the White House trying to highlight the areas of agreement, saying the president and the prince both believe Saddam Hussein is a threat, but the two men still don't see eye to eye on what to do about it.
COOPER: Iraq responds to the tough talk yesterday from the Vice President. James Martone is in Baghdad for us tonight -- James, your headline.
JAMES MARTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein says that any attack on Iraq would be an attack on the entire Arab nation.
COOPER: All right. Well time is running out for major league baseball. Keith Olbermann is following that tonight -- Keith, the headline.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, on the record, nothing happened today at two bargaining sessions. Off the record, the players have moved closer to the owners in the crucial luxury tax issue, and unexpectedly optimism has broken out at the baseball negotiations.
COOPER: All right. We will be back with all of you in a moment. Also coming up tonight, great news for two great cities: San Francisco and New York were chosen as the finalists to be the U.S. candidate for the 2012 summer Olympic games. We will talk with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Wendy Hilliard from the New York Committee.
The latest of our vanishing breed: Serena Altschul tonight, on the neighborhood bookstore, disappearing faster than you can say: Kelly Ripa's book club.
And not just my mom tonight on the Camaro's ride off into the sun, a moving obituary for a beloved car from Dwight, the senior videotape playback operator, and NEWSNIGHT's car guy.
All that to come in the hour ahead.
We begin, however, with the president and the prince. Prince Bandar's visit to the ranch in Crawford comes at a very delicate moment between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Over the war with Iraq, the Saudis oppose it, over the Palestinian issue, the Saudis think that's the bigger problem in the region. And over accusations that Saudi Arabia, far from being an ally, is more like an obstacle in the war on terror.
Here again, CNN's Kelly Wallace.
WALLACE, (voice-over): The Saudi ambassador in Washington heads to President Bush's dusty Texas getaway, where Mr. Bush makes the case about why he believes Saddam Hussein must go, but says he has not settled on a course of action.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president stressed that he has made no decisions, that he will continue to engage in consultations with Saudi Arabia and other nations about steps in the Middle East, steps in Iraq.
WALLACE: The president never mentions a possible military attack against Iraq, aides say. The meeting, though, doing little to change Saudi Arabia's strong opposition to any preemptive strike to oust Saddam.
ADEL AL-JUBIER, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: There is no country that I know of that supports military action against Iraq at this time. Why is that such a surprise to people? The reason that's the case is because people believe that every option should be exhausted before the military option is used.
WALLACE: The Saudis believe getting weapons inspectors back inside the country is the way to deal with the threat posed by the Iraqi leader. And they've declared Saudi soil off limits, unlike the Persian Gulf War, when Saudi Arabia hosted half a million U.S. ground troops. Meantime, Bush advisers try to tamp down any suggestion military action is imminent.
RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The White House has made clear the president has not decide. So there is no option to enlist people's support for it. There's no war drum to beat. There's no particular course of action we're trying to sell right now.
WALLACE: On Monday, Vice President Cheney made the administration's strongest case yet for preemptive action against Iraq, but just looking at the immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia shows how difficult it will be for this White House to get allied support for any possible attack -- Anderson.
COOPER: Kelly, any word from insiders on what the tone of the meeting was today? I mean how it went?
WALLACE: The sense is it was friendly. And you know diplomacy. You look at the words officials use. They said it was friendly, they said it was constructive that the two men again do agree that Saddam Hussein is a menace, that he must be dealt with. And the sense is perhaps that the Saudis more publicly are expressing their opposition to a military attack and they're not as strong inside the meeting with that opposition. But still, Anderson, this administration has a long way to go to get Saudi support for any military campaign.
COOPER: All right. And the diplomatic dance goes on. Thanks very much, Kelly.
All this comes the day after the vice-president laid out the strongest case yet for going to war with Iraq, as Kelly mentioned. Today Iraq's answer. CNN's James Martone has that.
MARTONE (voice-over): President Saddam Hussein's response to the latest U.S. calls for a preemptive strike came on national television. "The threats target not only Iraq, but the whole Arab nation, as well," the television quoted Saddam Hussein in meetings with Qatar's visiting foreign minister. Continuing, "Any solution should be based on international legitimacy."
Iraq has been working toward a diplomatic solution to its standoff with the U.S., even before the latest U.S. calls to take action against Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq's vice president is off to Syria and Lebanon on a regional tour aimed at pulling together Arab support against a U.S. Attack. Mr. Tayasim Ramadan (ph) told reporters there his visit, "was to define a joint position in the face of challenges."
And, Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri (ph), is off to China, and then Russia, for consultations with those two nations, both permanent members of the security council and able to veto any would- be attempt of the U.S. to get UN backing for an attack on Baghdad. Such diplomacy appears to be paying off. Even Qatar, whose country houses U.S. military bases that are reportedly being upgraded, says it would be opposed to any strike on Iraq.
The country's foreign minister says an attack would "be a tragedy for the region." And, Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, says that although some Arab countries have reservations about the Iraqi regime, strikes against it would be disastrous.
HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): I said to the U.S. administration, "If you harm the Iraqi people, while the Palestinians are still suffering, it would only fuel the anger of the Arabs." No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.
MARTONE: That's very much a question in the Arab world as to what will happen now. Arab countries opposed to the statements out of Washington that Iraq would be hit, they say it's not a time, while there are reservations that the regime here is not one appeasing all Arab governments. They say people already seen in the Arab world as suffering and the Iraqis under sanctions at a time when there's problems in Palestine. Arabs looking at Palestine as persecution against Arabs as well. It would be a disaster, some Arab nations are saying, were the United States to strike Iraq under sanctions at this time -- Anderson.
COOPER: James, I'm not sure how free you are to walk around in Baghdad, but what is the sense on the streets there? I mean does it feel like a place about to go to war?
MARTONE: We are allowed to walk around and to speak to people. Now their response is it must be taken, one would say, into consideration the fact that we're accompanied when we walk around. However, there is a sense of, let's say, anxiousness. People in the markets buying a little bit more than they would be usually more so, more flour.
Vendors saying the sales are down because some people choose to save their money for darker days ahead. People in general say that while they're worried, it's something they're used to. Don't forget they say we've been at war first with Iran in the '80s then with the United States and continuing warfare since then in the no-fly zones. It's something Iraqis say unfortunately they're used to -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. James Martone in Baghdad, thanks very much tonight.
We have a late development to report in the case of Jose Padilla. He, of course, the suspected dirty bomber. Government lawyers tonight filed court papers explaining why he's being held as an enemy combatant. The documents allege that Padilla met with an al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan last year who sent him to a safe house in Pakistan, where he and a partner worked on how to combine high explosives with Uranium to make a radioactive bomb. Now the allegation he had a partner is new, so is the allegation that the two were targeting the bomb for Washington D.C.
Other news now. Two items on anthrax, one real, the other perhaps a hoax. In Boca Raton, Florida today FBI agents went back into the offices of American Media, which has been quarantined, you may remember, since the anthrax outbreak last October. The agents walked around, took pictures and double-checked the layout in preparation for a new search of the building, which is to occur tomorrow.
Now officials need more samples because they've come up with newer and better lab techniques they hope -- and I say hope -- will lead to a suspect.
HAZMAT crews in moon suits as well, as at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee at the offices of former Vice President Al Gore. They were called there after his office manager opened a letter containing some sort of white powder. Mr. Gore was not there at the time, but about 25 other people were. Now an FBI source tells us investigators think the letter and powder are part of the hoax. We will know for sure when tests on the powder are complete. Until then, the offices are to be closed.
Coming up ahead on NEWSNIGHT, the Olsen twins and why you should be as afraid of them as I am. And when we come back, owners play hardball with the players' union. Keith Olbermann and the pending baseball strike.
COOPER: Well there are about two days to go until the deadline for a major league baseball players' strike, and you are probably already sick of hearing about the proposals and the counter proposals. So we thought it would be better to find someone with the ability to foretell what is going to happen. A man with the ability to predict the sports future. A man like Olbermann -- Keith Olbermann, that is -- Keith.
OLBERMANN: If I could do that I would be at the betting parlor right now (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But there is, by using history and by also talking to people who are close to the negotiations, a way to tell what's going on and thus extrapolating from that. Because there have been so many baseball labor disputes that we pretty much know what's going to happen in advance.
One thing before we look at what's going to happen tomorrow, something that has happened this evening. It's been quiet all day at the baseball talks. The players and the owners coming in and out of a series of meetings -- one this morning, one this evening -- have said almost nothing. They haven't even yelled at each other.
That is always a certain sign that they're getting serious in the negotiations. And a source close to and familiar with what went on in the negotiations in New York tonight has told me there has in fact been a new proposal by the players that moves the issue of the luxury tax much closer to where the owners want it to be. And that will not yet be officially acknowledged, which is bringing us then to the predictions for the future, which we have helped you along with by presenting them in a kind of graphic form.
That was a nice subtle cue.
COOPER: Olbermann predicts.
OLBERMANN: Olbermann predicts -- nice picture. Tomorrow there will again be very little officially said. There may not even be a lot of meetings because the players will have officially proposed a closer luxury tax proposal. And, also, the owners will be too busy sitting at their desks getting called by bankers, advertisers and television executives, who will be screaming at them, saying what do you mean it's 24 hours or 36 hours to a strike? We have all this money invested in you, stay on the field.
So that's what they'll be getting tomorrow.
Now, how well they get that we move to Thursday. How well they get that message affects what happens on Thursday. The owners will come back with their own luxury tax proposal. If the owners are really scared by what the banks and the TV networks say to them, the proposal will be good enough for the players to accept it on the spot and there will be no seasonal interruption.
We should know by 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The union has to let to (ph) know is members. They have to know whether or not to travel to Friday's ball games. So you hear a deadline of after the games Thursday. In fact, it's early Thursday night we'll know.
And if that proposal is not good enough for the players, the strike will have begun late Thursday night. And over the weekend, while negotiations will continue over the back channels, it's Labor Day. Nobody will officially be negotiating, and this is something that they really haven't anticipated. They've never been in that kind of situation before, so very little will get done until the beginning of next week. Next Tuesday the banks will no longer be yelling at the owners, they'll be talking quietly to them the way that Richard Burton talked in the movie "1984" to John Hurt just before he strapped the rat cage on his head. That will be Tuesday. On Wednesday, if it's still going on, the New York Yankees, who had retained David Boies, the attorney who was a veteran of the Clinton investigation and the Microsoft case, they will probably make some sort of hint one way or the other about a lawsuit against commissioner Bud Selig and baseball, because the luxury tax would be too severe against the Yankees. Those kinds of pressures will mount towards Thursday. There will also will be some rain on Thursday. I just wanted to drop that in there.
ANDERSON: Wow. You can predict that well?
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Well it's all coming to me completely. The hard line owners last stand is essentially Thursday. And then late Friday of next week, if there has been a strike, that is when it will end. The owners will accept the players best offer on the table and both sides will say, as they announce it on Saturday, that play will resume on Monday. That they're doing this because they are cognizant of the importance of the anniversary of September 11.
Of course, that will have nothing to do with the solution. The end result: we go back to the field if there has indeed been a strike on Monday, September 9, and those will be your total losses for a 10- day strike, $120 million for the players, and the owners $170 million. Obviously a lot of variables affecting the legitimacy of these news analyses, we like to call them, instead of forecasts. But it sounds better when you say forecast.
COOPER: So if you had to predict, will there be a strike?
OLBERMANN: I just changed. I just changed based on this information. But it was a 50/50 bet one way or the other, and it's been that way for a long time, because of the client today because of what the players have done off the record tonight. It's probably 60/40 against a strike, but of course that could swing back the other way within 24 hours. But looks better than it did 24 hours ago.
COOPER: All right. And you did all that without a swami hat. We appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: I have a very big head. We don't have a swami hat that fits.
COOPER: We'll search out one. Thanks for coming.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
COOPER: A few stories from around the nation tonight. Fighter jets today escorted a US Airways flight to Baltimore Washington Airport, after what's being called a "miscommunication between the pilot and the ground." The FAA says the pilot mistakenly used the code word for hijacking. The flight had taken off from Charlotte, North Carolina and landed without any other problems.
And because we know so many NEWSNIGHT viewers are 'NSync fans, an update on singer Lance Bass. He's the shy one, in case you didn't know. we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Bass has now won NASA's endorsement in his bid to fly to the international space station this fall. Now he has to work out the finances for the trip with the Russian space program who would give him the ride. That ride could cost as much as $20 million, and they won't accept payment in rubles.
Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, more news. Stay with us.
COOPER: A secretary from Queens, New York said this today: She said, "The city can handle anything. We handled the 11th, we can handle this, too." "This" would be the 2012 summer Olympics. And today, New York and San Francisco were picked as the U.S. finalists to host the 2012 games. The winner gets picked in November, and then the world competition will be decided in 2005.
Joining us from San Francisco, Mayor Willie Brown, as well as a member of the New York committee right here in New York, Wendy Hilliard. Thank you both very much for being with us.
Mayor Brown, let me start off with you. I'm going to give you kind of a freebie here. Why should San Francisco host the games?
WILLIE BROWN, SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: Well, San Francisco put in a bid, as did many other major American cities. We put it in for an entire region. We demonstrated that about 80-85 percent of all the venues where the games would be played are already in place. We demonstrated clearly that we can do an Olympic village.
We have a superior transportation system capable of reaching either one of the venues with very little difficulty. We will have a magnificent stadium at Stanford for the opening and closing ceremony. This is a world-class region. Every language in the world is spoken here. Four hundred Olympians are part of our bid in terms of being supportive of it, simply because they prefer to train, they prefer to perform, they prefer to compete right here in this region. And it's August, and it's the best time of the year for this region of America.
COOPER: All right. Now, Wendy, why do you think New York should be? You could probably say the exact same things, I suppose. But I mean there are those who say that New York is kind of getting a sympathy bid given what's happened here in the last year. And a lot of people really ask seriously, you know, is New York capable of hosting these games and is it safe and wise?
WENDY HILLIARD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPORTS NYC2012 TEAM: Well I'd first like to say, of course, congratulations to San Francisco. This was a very difficult process, and the other cities, Washington and HHouston, really put together wonderful, technical bids. And we wouldn't be at this point if we couldn't handle the Olympic games. And you have to remember we've been working on this before this past year.
I think what New York has more than anything is that it's an international city and the world comes to New York. But also the infrastructure that we have in New York, the ability to ride in subways to get to any of the venues. Our plan called the Olympic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) very compact. And so what you have in New York is you have the world's second home, the most international city in the world.
And you have for (ph) places -- and I think when you talk about the sympathy vote, that's not what it's based on. I think what September 11 showed is the strength of New Yorkers, there's no doubt about that. But I think what it also showed is that we have a superior security system here, we're able to handle the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) events and we're a very resilient people.
COOPER: As I'm sure Mayor Brown would point out, that New York is probably the most expensive of all the bids. And Mayor Brown, am I correct in saying that San Francisco's bid is actually the most profitable bid for the U.S. that was put out there?
BROWN: Very easily the most profitable and the most cost effective. The business of putting together an Olympics, as was done in Los Angeles by Peter Ubarov (ph) in 1984, where when that game was over there were hundreds of millions of dollars left for purposes of the charities and other kinds of youth programs. San Francisco's bid is similarly situated. We need not to raise any money whatsoever.
Most of the money is already pledged and already in place. And come 2012, it will be a different environment and a different time. And it's clear that the other cities that were in were magnificent places and spaces. But on balance, San Francisco has a better shot at convincing the internationals against cities like Rome and Toronto and others that will be part of the competition in 2005. We will just be the best candidate America could offer.
COOPER: Well let's talk about that, because that is -- I mean after the city here in the United States is picked, the battle then becomes trying to get the International Olympic Committee to agree to that. Why would the International Olympic Committee agree to have another Olympics in the U.S.? We've had four Olympics here in the last 22 years, more than any country in the world?
Wendy why should it be in the U.S. now?
HILLIARD: I think especially talking about New York as having a compelling story to be back in the United States. A lot of the support for the international Olympic movement comes from a lot of the sponsors that are here in the United States. And so every so often, when you have the games here with the television revenue money, things like that, it tends to come back to the U.S. more often.
The benefit about having it in New York is it's the world's media capital. And so when the other international sports look at New York and are able to showcase their sports -- not only the U.S. sports, but the international sports -- there's no bigger stage. And that's why New York is really ready to host this kind of Olympic games.
COOPER: OK. Mayor Brown, we're going to give you the final thought tonight. We only have about 30 seconds left. From my understanding, there's one report that three IOC members have already said the Bay area is the U.S.' best chance to win. In your gut, do you think that San Francisco is going to get it?
BROWN: I don't know who has said what to whom. All I know is that when it comes time for international to bid, San Francisco, I think, will prevail. And that's what we will be attempting to convince the site selection committee for the USOC.
COOPER: All right. Mayor Willie Brown, Wendy Hilliard, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
HILLIARD: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Good luck to both of you.
BROWN: Thank you.
COOPER: Whichever city, either city would be a great city to have it. Thanks very much.
HILLIARD: New York would be especially.
COOPER: OK. The final word.
COOPER: Well, September 11, 2002 is coming up fast, and it is probably inevitable that we'll spend most of the time looking back.
But we're trying to look forward here as well. Today there was good news for New York about the competition to host the 2012 Olympics.
A smaller story, but another sign of moving forward came earlier this week, when St. Paul's chapel, a haven for recovery workers, reopened to the public.
And we here at NEWSNIGHT are trying to look to the future as well, taking your ideas for Ground Zero. You can go to our Web site: cnn.com/NEWSNIGHT, follow the links and send them in. You can also take a look at other proposals.
We're going to look at a few of them right now.
Ed in Atlanta sent us this one: Four glass buildings, triangles. Around the buildings would be a pool outlined by a ring of green space.
This one from Michiel in Chicago: A twisted design, not much of an explanation as to what the thinking behind it is. We thought it was a pretty cool structure, however.
And from Marian in Calgary: Four hands of steel and glass holding up our globe, which includes a museum and an observation deck.
Keep your ideas coming.
The medical examiner here in New York recently released a revised list of the people killed in 9/11, and some pretty unsettling statistics we hadn't really seen before.
The largest number of victims were between 30 and 42 years old. The zip code with the most victims turns out to be 10021, Manhattan's Upper East Side. And the town with the most killed, per capita, was Hoboken, New Jersey.
Statistics are one way to tell a story, I suppose, but of course, the people behind those numbers have the most compelling story to tell.
And tonight, in our "Remembering" segment, a husband recalls the life of Felicia Bass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a great mom. She really devoted a lot of attention to Sebastian (ph). Any time anyone would sort of like come near or talk about Sebastian, she would like light up. I mean Sebastian really started becoming her world. It was a difficult delivery and stuff because we almost lost Sebastian.
And I think that added to Felicia's like, really intense desire to be the best mom she could be.
She's taught me how to be a better man, and definitely how to be a great human being because she was really a great human being.
I'm going to miss -- you know, having her there as we grow up, as he grows up, and I miss my friend. I used to come home and talk about everything, even sometimes not talking, just having her there, just -- that's what I'm going miss a lot.
COOPER: We have an occasional segment here on NEWSNIGHT: "Vanishing Breed": great old professions and institutions that are disappearing before our eyes.
Tonight, the place that might be a little dusty and a little musty, that won't have a Starbucks inside pushing a grande double latte frappucino on you. Maybe just the guy that knows exactly what you like to read, the stuff you will not find on Reading With Ripa.
Serena Altschul hits the independent bookstore.
SERENA ALTSCHUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where do you shop for books? Do you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Generally, Barnes & Noble.
ALTSCHUL: Have you ever had like a neighborhood bookshop that you like that you saw close? Or do you worry about some of the little ones around here that will close? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess there should be a concern, but I'm not really concerned because I can go to Barnes & Noble, and then NYU always has it's own bookstore, so I can go there.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): Despite competition from the big chains and pressure to meet rising rents, these stores have somehow held on.
We stopped in on a few to learn how they've survived.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: St. Mark's Book Shop.
ALTSCHUL: Bob and Terry's (ph) store has been in the neighborhood for 25 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're appealing to the general public, and you've got a bookstore that is selling the best sellers, and you're a small store and a Barnes & Noble opens up nearby, you're going to be in trouble.
ALTSCHUL: For St. Mark's, success comes by carrying some unusual topics.
ALTSCHUL (on camera): So is there a big anarchism section, do you think, at the big chains?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh, no.
ALTSCHUL: You know for a fact it doesn't exist?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they don't have anything to the extent that we do.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): In the poetry section I began a hunt for my favorite little-known author.
(on camera): Yes, that's my mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh really?
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): Just three blocks away, I found The Strand, an independent that's been around since 1927. It claims 22 miles of books.
(on camera): I love this, people literally up on ladders.
(voice-over): It's been passed down through three generations to Nancy Bass (ph).
(on camera): How unusual is it that you have a third-generation business that's now is, you know, still flourishing? That's got to be pretty unusual.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that's so rare. And I can go to any party and I can meet anybody and I can say, I'm the only one in this room that does what I do. Guess what it is?
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): The Strand is known for discounting almost everything, and a staff that lives for books.
(on camera): How much do you read?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About five books a week.
ALTSCHUL: Do you really?
What brings you in here, into The Strand?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think The Strand is the greatest place to find a book that you want.
ALTSCHUL: It's pretty special here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's exceptionally special. I've been coming here for years. Even though I'm 80 years old, I still come back.
ALTSCHUL: Oh no, really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): Part of what keeps people coming back to this shop is its small, neighborhood charm.
(on camera): I promise we didn't put the kitty in the window, but this bookstore has been here for 25 years-plus. It's the Corner Bookstore, independent bookstore. We're going to go talk to these guys.
Look at this.
And this is what you use.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This actually works. You punch in the amount. But it only goes up to 99.99, because in those days nobody would ever spend more than that. And you turn the crank, and the money pops out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to sit for me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the most interesting things about this bookstore that we're sort of infamous for is the dogs. We welcome dogs.
ALTSCHUL: Did you come in for books today, or did you come in for a treat?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came in for a treat today.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): Even with such loyal customers, owner Lenny Lettieri (ph) says the Corner Bookshop wouldn't be here if she hadn't bought the building 25 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major issue is rent. I mean, that is absolutely what's killed so many stores.
ALTSCHUL: Rent and the big chains are still a problem for Tom Cushman (ph), whose store, Murder, Inc., is the oldest murder mystery store in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the Barnes & Noble opened up down from us about eight years ago, we sort of hard to change a bit what we do. I mean, now, we sort of specialize in the things that they don't do, in terms of harder to find books and signed books.
ALTSCHUL (on camera): You should know a lot about the books that you have in your store, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to think so.
ALTSCHUL: So, my question then is, there's a wocket in my pocket? What's a wocket?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one, I can no more answer that than I can what an ink in the sink is, but there is apparently a wocket in his pocket.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): Our last stop brought us to Three Lives, a very small shop owner by Toby Cox (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a three-part relationship, the people who work here, the customers and the books. And the three of us together make this place special, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I try to use the small book stores because I really feel like I have an investment in keeping them in business.
ALTSCHUL (on camera): You do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They're very precious to me here.
ALTSCHUL (voice-over): So each bookshop we visited prides itself on its individuality, they do share one thing, a commitment to staying independent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bookstore should reflect its neighborhood, a place that is there for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess it's hard not to call it a vanishing breed, seeing how many have closed recently. But I think there is a place for the small, independent bookstore.
ALTSCHUL: In the words of William Butler Yeats, "Man is in love, and love's what vanishes."
Serena Altschul, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT, my mom and our car guy Dwight, yes, you remember him from the auto show in Indy. Will he join us to talk about their mutual love, mommy?
COOPER: So it was announced today that the Olsen twins will be presenters at the MTV Music Video Awards. Now, like many in my generation, I have something of an obsession with Mary-Kate and Ashley. I first came to know these beguiling minx when back in 1987 they first showed up in that "Full House" with Bob Saget, John Stamos, and that blond guy. I was a young sophomore in college then, and on wintry nights, my friends and I would gather round the phosphorescent warmth of the flickering TV, laughing, pondering, and yes, sometimes crying, at the lovable pixies who so bewitched us.
Sure, they were only nine months old at the time, but oh, how they lit up the screen. Now, of course, I look back with regret. Because I missed the early clues to the dark forces that some believe were at work even then. That's right. Like many of us who troll the Web for days, I've come to believe that the Olsens are part of a twin- based conspiracy that goes back generations.
Now hear me out.
It started with the Siamese connection, Chang and Eng, yes, then the Bobbsey (ph) twins, cunning operatives who lulled the readers into believing they were using their powers for good. Remember the Wonder Twins? Did we really believe they were out to save the world in the form of an eagle, shape of an ice bridge? And as for their sidekick Gleek, cute psuedo-symian? or hideous, unholy hybrid of man and monkey? I ask you. Most recently, the "Playboy" twins. I believe the Olsen twins are the last step, the completion of the cycle if you will.
The Olsen twins are the most financially successful child stars ever. To put this in perspective, to match their success, Dana Plato would have had to hold up 1.8 million convenience stores. Impossible. How else can you explain the Olsen phenomenon if it isn't some sort of diabolical plot? They have appeared in 40 videos which have sold more than 30 million copies. That's a lot considering they're not doing porn, yet. They've sold 1.5 million records, and appear on TV about 30 times a week, not counting the subliminal messages, yes, that's right, I see you, Ashley.
Earlier this summer, the Olsen twins announced they were introducing a line of junior clothing for sale at Wal-Mart, this year they project sales of up to $1 billion. I am not kidding. They are advancing into Wal-Marts across the country, and have we heard nothing from Tom Ridge? No. That's the genius of the Olsens. Their campaign has been waged slowly, meticulously, and in the public eye from day one. It started with the acting, then singing, a little tap, soon the inevitable shimmying, and now we are drowning in Olsen products.
Now I know you may scoff, you may say, how can Mary-Kate and Ashley be a threat to our great land, but scoff all you want, when your kids are singing Olsen songs, wearing Olsen clothes, and bowing down to Olsen reliquaries, you won't be allowed to scoff unless Mary- Kate and Ashley say it's OK. And believe me, they won't. You think its a coincidence Kmart has gone bust, and Martha's on the rocks, I warn you MTV, today they are presenting an award, tomorrow, it's Mary-Kate and Ashley Living Omnimedia.
Finally tonight, I'm glad I got that off my chest. I didn't always have gray hair, and I didn't always drive a minivan. My ride was hot, hot as that summer back in '79, a summer of black lacquer and silver vinyl and T-bar tops that just wouldn't stay on. A summer of curving steel and burning rubber and young hearts beating fast. My summer, my Camaro. Well, mom's Camaro, actually, she let me drive it Sundays and Tuesdays, and sure she wrote down the mileage, but I'll never forget it. And I'm not the only one. I'm not the only one who's a little sad tonight. Pretty soon there won't be pale skinny gray-haired guys with sweet summer Camaro memories, because pretty soon there won't be any more Camaros.
After more than 35 years, GM is actually shutting down the line, stopping production at this factory in Quebec. Along with me, no one is as distraught as Dwight, our senior videotape playback operator, and NEWSNIGHT's car guy.
Take a look.
DWIGHT COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today is a sad day in motor history, today is the last day that the Chevy Camaro is being made. So we are going in search of one or two. So let's go.
The last day of the Camaro, my friend. The last day. Do you have anything to say, anything? Do you like Camaros? Did you ever have a Camaro? Do you know what a Camaro is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand too much English.
COLLINS: Ah, can you smell the rubber? Can you hear the horsepower?
Well, we're here today at Future Classics to look at some old vintage Camaros. This is nothing but pure American muscle, and I mean look at the lines on it. It's like, shaped right. You can tell the difference. You know, it stands out. It's shapely. It's sexy. It's gorgeous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to look at the quality, see, that's what sells these cars. They're done so fine, you know.
I think it's a 396 or a 350 horsepower, power brakes and power steering.
COLLINS (voice-over): See the difference in this? (on camera): This right here happened to be a '96. The engine department, it's just cluttered. And there's no way you could take this motor out and fit in a big 427.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have the privilege of driving this beautiful Camaro.
COLLINS: See you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's cool.
COOPER: All right, so back in 1979, my mom announced she was buying a car. It a first for our family. My brother and I had visions of a BMW, you know, maybe a cool Toyota Land Cruiser, something like that.
Now, stupidly, we let my mom go car shopping all by herself. The Chevy dealer was her first stop; sadly, it was also her last. She bought a Camaro. As mentioned, it was black, it had silver vinyl interior, and a T-bar roof, I kid you not.
So tonight we though, who better to talk about the end of the Camaro than my muscle car momma.
Mom, thanks for coming in.
ANDERSON'S MOM: I wouldn't miss it for anything because the Camaro, I really just feel very sad.
COOPER: When I called you today and told you that the production line had stopped today, you were very upset?
ANDERSON'S MOM: I was very upset, really.
COOPER: Now when you think of Camaro, what goes through your mind? Because most people, when they think of Camaro, they think musclecar. Do you know what a musclecar is?
ANDERSON'S MOM: No, what is that? I know nothing, really, about cars.
COOPER: A musclecar is like a car from that era with like a big engine and like, you know, guy's named Vinny would drive it and cruise around in it.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, it wasn't like that at all. I saw it, and it had a magical, like a silver lining. Well, it was magical to me. And it was like aluminum foil. It was just beautiful.
But what really -- I related to it when I opened the door and got in, it was very low, the car. It was down...
COOPER: Very low to the ground. Was it sexy? You thought it was a sexy car? ANDERSON'S MOM: I don't think of cars in that way.
But I thought it was like an extension of myself, and I felt like I was sitting in a chair in my own living room at home when I sunk into the, you know -- and then when I took the controls.
COOPER: Right. And it was an automatic, so there wasn't gear shifting or anything, but you felt very much in control of it?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, absolutely. And it never fought me. It just sort of went with, you know...
COOPER: Right. Did it alarm you that the interior, you could peel it off like skin off a grape?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well, that did happen quite soon.
COOPER: Like in a week after, we were peeling off the interior.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Yes, but no, that sort of gave it an extra patina.
COOPER: Uh-huh. Now, did you ever see other, like, Camaro owners? Did you go to, like, Camaro shows or anything?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh no, that I didn't do.
You know, women really relate to cars in a totally different way than men do. And I don't know, there was just something -- there was nothing threatening about the car, it was something I could handle easily, and so...
COOPER: We've got a picture of a car right up here. And this is not our Camaro that we had. We couldn't actually find a picture of our Camaro, but this is a model very similar. It was black, and this one, I think, has the T-bar roof, although it's sort of hard to see.
ANDERSON'S MOM: And you see how who low it is...
COOPER: Yes, it was very low to the ground.
ANDERSON'S MOM: ... when you opened the door and you sort of sink into it. You know, I really can't -- I'm just very sad.
COOPER: Yes, well it is the end of an era, they say.
What kind of -- do you, I mean if you could get another Camaro, would you?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, yes. I mean, the minute they come on they surely will bring them back.
COOPER: I don't think so, I think that's going to be it.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, yes.
COOPER: No, I think that's it.
ANDERSON'S MOM: I think there'll be a demand, you know.
COOPER: You think there's going to be a groundswell of support?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, absolutely.
COOPER: Well, this is something maybe you could spearhead, a petition drive.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, I would do it in a minute.
COOPER: Oh, yes?
What -- you know, when you bought the -- I should probably just tell the story a little. When you bought this Camaro we will expected, you know, like, as I said, a BMW or something cool. And when you drove in the driveway in this musclecar, I mean, I thought it was a joke. I thought you were kidding. But you took it all very seriously.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well, you never really approved of the car.
COOPER: No, I didn't.
ANDERSON'S MOM: You used to say when I would drive it in, oh mom, park it in the back.
COOPER: Yes, well, you know, because all your friends were like driving around in these ritzy automobiles, and there you were with, like, the V-8 engine Camaro, you know.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well, I felt totally comfortable. It was just like an extension of...
COOPER: What was the -- did you ever go on a road trip? Did you ever go cross-country, just driving cross-country?
ANDERSON'S MOM: No, really back and forth from Southampton to New York.
COOPER: So just short hops?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well yes; sort of, yes.
COOPER: There was a time when I remember you talking about getting a Camaro tattoo.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well...
COOPER: No, you never went that far. Just kidding.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Well actually, I haven't shown it to you, but I...
COOPER: You did get one? ANDERSON'S MOM: I do.
COOPER: What happened to the car? Where is the car today, do we know?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Oh, it's long gone. Long gone.
COOPER: It sort of fell apart toward the end.
ANDERSON'S MOM: It did fall apart.
ANDERSON'S MOM: And the peeling kept coming off the car.
COOPER: Did you ever breakdown?
ANDERSON'S MOM: Yes.
COOPER: Actually, I remember one time my mom brokedown in the Camaro...
ANDERSON'S MOM: I was going to meet you coming in the plane.
COOPER: Right, and you called the housekeeper and had her come in her car.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Yes.
COOPER: And you got in her car and left her to deal with the Camaro.
ANDERSON'S MOM: And I actually put on some sort of slip as in a robe just to go and pick you up.
COOPER: Right, so you were, like, on the side of the highway with your broken-down Camaro in your slippers.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Yes, yes.
COOPER: I remember that, actually.
But you called the housekeeper, she came in her car, you jumped in her car and took off because she had to go with it.
ANDERSON'S MOM: Yes, and then somebody had to come to, you know, get the Camaro.
But that was the only time it ever really gave us any trouble.
Oh, farewell Camaro. I'll be the first in line if it comes back.
COOPER: All right, thanks mom, for coming in.
That's is it for NEWSNIGHT. I think a first here on NEWSNIGHT.
Good night everyone.
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