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CNN Newsroom

NEWSROOM for August 14, 2001

Aired August 14, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone, welcome to NEWSROOM for Tuesday. I'm Tom Haynes.

First things first today, a look at what's ahead.

In "Today's News," wiping the disease polio off the face of the Earth for good, what will it take? News about health in the "Daily Desk." Today we go on the job with firefighters, a risky profession many say is in need of change. In "Worldview," what's going on inside this classroom could help reduce school violence. Then, families grieving over missing loved ones find comfort helping others in the same situation. The story coming up in "Chronicle."

But first today, our "Top Story." Thanks to massive vaccination campaigns, polio has become a topic for history books in many nations. But in small pockets of the world in very poor nations, children are still contracting the disease and dying. Polio is caused by a viral infection that affects nerves and muscles. It can lead to paralysis and even death.

There are two types of polio vaccines: one that is injected and was developed by Jonas Salk in the 1950s and one that's taken orally. It was developed by Albert Sabin and was approved for use in 1960. With these vaccines, UNICEF hopes to wipe the crippling malady off the face of the Earth by the year 2005. In an effort to eradicate the virus from some of its last bastions in Africa, vaccinators have been travelling from village to village in several African nations.

CNN's Cynde Strand followed them and has this report.


CYNDE STRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A site hard to bear: polio victims condemned to dragging themselves along African streets. But now, a war is underway to kick polio out of Africa. Armed with cooler boxes to keep their precious cargo cold, 100,000 volunteers fanned out across Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon. During five days of synchronized immunizations, more than 16 million children in these war weary and remote places received the two drops of vaccine that will protect them from polio. Some children wore their finest clothes and some were forced to wear clothes as the head of UNICEF participated in the second round of an unprecedented operation of cooperation and organization.

CAROL BELLAMY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: There's not electricity. You can't travel over the roads in many of the parts of the country. And in Congo, again, you have to go in by plane so that is more money and there's a war going on.

STRAND: Though days of tranquility were declared, front lines in Angola could not be crossed. Just one infected child puts all children at risk.

(on camera): Unimmunized children crossing borders to safety can reintroduce the virus to their polio-free neighbors, igniting outbreaks of the crippling and deadly disease.

(voice-over): Because people here live in fearful, uneasy times, awareness campaigns began months ago. Boy Scout Francisco Musala (ph) helped spread the word.

"My condition," he says, "convinces the people. Parents don't want their children to look like me."

For a lucky few, rehabilitation is a long, painful process with the legs encased in plaster, followed by leg braces.

CELESTIN MPAKA MAKING, DIRECTOR, POLIO REHABILITATION CENTER (through translator): I deeply regret what I see here everyday, the suffering, physically, morally and psychologically. They feel so inferior and just a few drops would have made it possible to avoid all this.

STRAND: Pedro Ramundo (ph) says his legs became twisted after his uncle hexed him. The real curse here, though, is poverty and war, but polio will soon be nothing to fear.

Cynde Strand, CNN, Litombe Island on the Congo River.


HAYNES: So far, more than 15 million children under the age of five have been immunized in Africa. Along with vaccinations, volunteers are giving children Vitamin A. Experts say it can reduce the number of childhood deaths by 23 percent.

While polio is just one of many infectious diseases that can kill, scientists work fervently to find cures for meningitis, malaria and AIDS. But even as new cures come, signs of new diseases do too. Global travel is partly to blame. If people are not vaccinated properly, they can pick up a disease in one nation and take it right to another.

Holly Firfer reports now on fighting disease.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HOLLY FIRFER, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We have known infectious diseases since recorded history. In 212 B.C. historians first noted an illness that scientists believe was influenza, or the flu; 200 years later, Hippocrates documented the first influenza outbreak in history. Jump to 1300 and to China where the deadly bubonic plague was festering.

(voice-over): At the time, China was a major trading post. Merchant ships from Asia traveled across the seas to Europe, carrying imports, exports and this deadly disease.

Within five years, the bubonic plague, also called the "Black Death," had spread throughout the European continent taking the lives of 25 million people, and soon one-third of all of Europe was gone, a turning point in medical history.

DR. SUE BINDER, CDC: It took months to years to spread across the world. Today, an epidemic could potentially spread in days to weeks.

FIRFER: Throughout the centuries, history has continued to record the battles against infectious disease. In fact, your great grandparents might have remembered 1918, when the flu killed more people than World War I. Your parents might even recall the 1968 Hong Kong flu epidemic, which claimed 700,000 lives worldwide.

But we haven't been sitting back and watching nature take over. Armies of doctors and scientists have marched into labs to develop vaccines and antibiotics to fight these deadly diseases.

A great example is one of the most remarkable medical discoveries of our time. It was 1921, polio, a virus that attacks the nervous system and leaves its victims paralyzed, was racing through America, affecting young and old; even one of our presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Then a breakthrough: In 1952, Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine. And now, today, in the Western world it's practically non- existent. But scientists warn it's just a plane ride away.

DR. DAVID HEYMAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The only infectious disease that has really been wiped out has been small pox. Through a global effort between 1967 and 1980, the vaccine that was very effective was used effectively and the disease is now eradicated from the world.

FIRFER (on camera): As quickly as we stop some diseases, new ones develop. In the past 20 years, 30 new infectious agents have been identified.

BINDER: There are a lot of reasons that infectious diseases emerge. Some of them relate to things that we do and ways that we alter the ecology around the world so that we change the habitats in which organisms are living.

FIRFER (voice-over): In 1999, 65-year-old Robert Benson (ph) learned that the hard way. After a month in the hospital with a 105 degree temperature and two weeks on a respirator, doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went to Africa, you know, several months ago and they thought it might have be a latent case of malaria.

FIRFER: Turns out Robert was suffering from West Nile virus, an entirely new strain of disease for the Western Hemisphere, working its way across America.

DR. BETH LEVINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: We don't know exactly what this strain is.

FIRFER: Childhood immunizations have effectively protected children in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia from diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, among others. But just when scientists began to feel triumphant over these infectious diseases in the industrialized world...

DR. DONALD GAMEN, HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE: In 1981-82, a new disease arrived virtually simultaneously in America, in Europe and throughout Africa; a terrifying disease characterized by immune deficiency, opportunistic infection, and even tumors occurring in young men.

FIRFER: Doctors realized that people, no matter who, how healthy or where they lived, were not safe. There was a new disease, one they knew very little about, and one they could not stop from spreading.


MAGIC JOHNSON: Because of the HIV virus that I have obtained, I will have to retire from the Lakers.


FIRFER: Today, doctors know more about AIDS, but they still do not know how to stop it. Although messages of healthy living have helped slow the progression of the disease in the U.S. and Europe, AIDS has already left more than 10 million orphans in Africa behind.

GAMEN: We can never get away from infectious disease. We can triumph over individual infections diseases, but the concept that we're going to be free of infection as a species is a ridiculous one.

FIRFER: Most scientists say we are actually as vulnerable as those who lived in the 14th century. They predict the future.

DR. STEVEN MOSTOW, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: We're very worried that we'll have what's known as a worldwide pandemic of influenza that will effect, probably, 40 percent of the world's population and could lead to epidemics of mortality that occurred in 1918.

FIRFER: But experts can't predict exactly when this or other disease outbreaks might occur. They sum up the problem this way: The clock is ticking, but we don't know what time it is. That's why scientists are constantly working on new vaccines, and antibiotics to protect us wherever we are.


HAYNES: In today's "Health Desk," we step right into the boots of firefighters, considered by many to be heroes. That's because their job is a dangerous one. Fighting fires carries significant health risks, among them, chemical contamination, inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, exposure to fire and extreme heat and injury from explosions and falling debris. In addition, about 100 U.S. firefighters are killed in the line of duty each year. The risks involved have led to changes within some fire departments.

And Frank Buckley tells us about a safety trend that's spreading like wildfire across the U.S.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): L.A. city fire engine 25 is first on scene at a structure fire in Hollywood. This is a drill, but a smoke machine helps to simulate the zero-visibility conditions firefighters can experience inside a burning building. The firefighters begin their attack. The command post receives a distressing call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an emergency traffic, clear the air, emergency traffic, firefighter missing.

BUCKLEY: An already charged situation inside the building could be made worse. Firefighters attacking the blaze lose their focus on the fire, directing it instead on the firefighter.

ASSISTANT CHIEF CURTIS JAMES, L.A. CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: It makes you feel that one of your comrades needs your assistance, and I need to go help. You have to control that.

BUCKLEY: One reason why in Los Angeles and a growing number of cities across the U.S. fire departments respond to major fires with some firefighters whose sole purpose is to rescue other firefighters. They call them rapid intervention crews, or RICs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which basically is rescue for downed firefighters, taking care of our own.

BUCKLEY: Captain Chuck Butler's nine-member task force takes the duty in this simulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the basement, he's on the -- he's on the engine three quarter.

BUCKLEY: Firefighters here having to crawl through the dark to find the missing victim, a job made more difficult in the knowledge that he is a member of their firefighting family.

(on camera): Rescuing a fellow firefighter can be also be a more physically demanding job, because the firefighter is heavy. He is likely wearing standard turnout gear, a jacket, helmet, pants and boots, adding 40 pounds. Breathing apparatus can add another 40. Additional gear can add more weight to that. Suddenly, a 185-pound firefighter weighs 265 pounds.

(voice-over): In this drill, the eerie sound of the down firefighter's sensor alarm, which rings which he doesn't move for more than 30 seconds, indicates his location. The captain weighed down by his gear and clothing is dragged from the building alive. The missing captain in this simulations says knowing the RIC team was looking for him helped as he lay in the darkness alone.

CAPTAIN TOM SAMMARTANO, L.A. CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: You know that somebody's dedicated to one sole function, to come in and get me out of there before the worst happens.

BUCKLEY: Danger every firefighter faces every time he or she enters a burning building.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.


HAYNES: And speaking of safety on the job, we'll tell you about a way to stay safer in the classroom coming up in "Worldview." We'll also take you to a city long plagued by problems: Belfast in Northern Ireland. It's seen rioting in recent weeks, part of ongoing tensions between Protestants and Catholics in that area. But in one spot, at least children from both sides are learning about teamwork and science is the catalyst of all things. More teamwork as we turn to the U.S. where teaching empathy is getting high marks in one classroom program.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We look now at a program designed to emphasize interaction in schools. The idea is to cut down on violence by getting kids to cooperate. School violence has been in the news a lot lately. Is it something you worry about?

Bob Winstead has this report on a special classroom concept.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't forget, test on Friday.

BOB WINSTEAD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This may look like a normal classroom, but it's psychology in action. It's called the jigsaw classroom, and it's designed to foster cooperation, reduce bullying and help socially isolated students fit in. It was created 30 years ago to halt violence in the desegregated schools of Austin, Texas. Its architect is social psychologist Dr. Elliot Aronson.

DR. ELLIOT ARONSON, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST: When schools were integrated, these kids were at each other's throats within a couple of weeks. All hell broke lose. There were fistfights in the corridors and schoolyards between black kids, white kids and Mexican-American kids. WINSTEAD: Aronson's team noticed classrooms were highly competitive with teachers asking questions and student's hands going up competing for the right to answer. Other students felt left out so Aronson devised a strategy for peer participation in groups.

ARONSON: What we found, and I've been doing this research for 30 years, we find that when kids work together in small groups, they begin to see the humanity in each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's some more pictures that I printed out.

WINSTEAD: In a jigsaw, students become teachers. First, the class is separated into small expert groups, students gather information, then share it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can get it from the computer and highlight it and I let them know like about the papyrus plant or like about the pharaohs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We learn that you need to cooperate. You can like test each other on the questions and everything like that. It's kind of fun.

HEATHER NIELSON, CORPORATE PARTNER, INTERACT: From day one to day four, they made huge strides. There was just chaos and fighting and disagreement and kids weren't listening to each other. By day four, I saw the students working pretty well together.

WINSTEAD: The experts then move like pieces of a puzzle into jigsaw groups.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to teach them what we learned in our expert group.

WINSTEAD: One of the benefits of the jigsaw method is that test scores are higher.

TANYA FREDRICK, TEACHER: When they have to teach it to one another, they know it in and out. And suddenly, it actually elevates that child's status that they are good at something, they've accomplished something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, it was actually fun.

ARONSON: What the teachers see, much to their astonishment, actually is an atmosphere changing from one of tension and stress to one of inclusion, to one of pleasantness.

CHERYL RITTER, TEACHER: I thought it was amazing. I thought they were very engaged and really listening. It was very impressive to me how well they worked together.

WINSTEAD: But few schools are currently using jigsaw today, partly because teachers must be trained in the method.

RITTER: It does take work to prepare ahead of time, but the kids really need to have some sort of focal point for their group work.

WINSTEAD: And partly because schools have been slow to admit having social problems.

PATTY LADD, PEER COACH/STAFF DEVELOPMENT: Most teachers really do feel like their eyes are everywhere and that we can avert any kind of, you know, teasing or taunting. That's not necessarily true and that was confirmed by the students who in a very candid conversation said, yes, but this goes on in the bathrooms and the teachers aren't in the bathrooms. This goes on in a foursquare game and the teacher can be 10 feet away but it's subtle.

WINSTEAD: Patty Ladd brought jigsaw to Dana Middle, a racially and economically diverse school in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood. She became interested in jigsaw after reading Dr. Aronson's book "Nobody Left To Hate, Teaching Compassion After Columbine." In the book, Aronson, the only psychologist to have won all three of the American Psychological Association's highest honors, claims jigsaw will reduce the root cause of social isolation and bullying suspected to be a major factor in recent high profile school rampage killings. Ladd contacted Aronson.

LADD: Well, the very next morning we had Santana. That just motivated me even more to go ahead and implement the jigsaw programs in the classrooms.

WINSTEAD: Santana High School, across town from Dana, was the scene of yet another school shooting where a student, who later claimed he had been taunted and bullied, opened fire on classmates. For years, alarmed parents at the school had asked for help to curtail, as Attorney General John Ashcroft characterized,...

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This onerous culture of bullying and we provided some resource to get that done and they work to get that done and yet you still have an outcome. It takes more than what the government can do; it's going to take some response on the part of our culture.

ARONSON: What we can do to stop school violence is to make the classroom a much friendly, much more compassionate place by having kids work together cooperatively. The social atmosphere in most schools is so poisonous that there are a great many kids who suffer in silence but they suffer.

LADD: We can teach empathy just like we can teach children how to read. And I think that's our charge. We've had a few letters come back, notes from parents saying whatever you're doing in the classroom, my kid is really engaged right now and really happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So do you think, though, for your test purposes that Albert's taught you well enough to where you're ready to go for your test on Friday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fine. OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just all sit down and do the work, and if they start to goof off, I just tell them stop goofing off and do the work because I'm getting graded on this, too.

ARONSON: Jigsaw works really well if it's only done for one hour a day. Kids like it. They get along with each other better, they look at each other with respect, friendships develop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm meeting a lot of people that I never knew before.

ARONSON: And they do better on objective exams. What more could you ask?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found out that she wanted to be my friend as much as I wanted to be her friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that's how we became friends.

WINSTEAD: Bob Winstead, CNN, San Diego, California.


HAYNES: Irish history is often synonymous with religious hatred and conflict. Ever since Henry VIII brought Catholic Ireland under the rule of Protestant England back in the 1500s, the two faiths have been at odds on the island.

For the past three decades, Northern Ireland, in particular, has endured a period of ongoing violence known simply as the troubles. Since 1966, more than 3,600 people have been killed as extremists within Northern Ireland's minority Catholic population have fought for independence from British rule. Most of the Protestant majority would prefer to remain part of the U.K., and after decades of fighting, there are signs of hope. A fragile cease-fire with some exceptions has held since 1997 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 set up a power sharing government in which Catholics and Protestant representatives actually sit together.

And while Catholic and Protestant children have for years grown up suspicious of each other, there is now a place in the city of Belfast where they can put their animosities aside, at least for a while.

Rick Lockridge has the story.


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How recently did this seem impossible, the sight of blue-clad Protestant school children and their green-clad Catholic counterparts playing together and learning together at a shining new science and technology museum in Belfast. Belfast: the epicenter of Northern Ireland's 20th century problems, the hub of its political and religious unrest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was growing up, we didn't even have picture hikes. Everything was bombed-out or burned down.

LOCKRIDGE: But three years after the Good Friday Peace Accords, Belfast is a city on the rise: Plaza are full of shoppers, construction cranes abound, at the center of the renaissance is W5, The Who, What, When Where, Why Museum. Funded by the UK's landmark millennium project, W5 is Belfast's $40 million statement about what kind of city it wants to be.

SALLY MONTGOMERY, W5 DIRECTOR: I mean, I think this is very much part of Northern Ireland and putting a new face to the future.

LOCKRIDGE: Each exhibit at W5 is meant to inspire curiosity, like the laser harp with strings made of light. But many exhibits are also intended to inspire teamwork and togetherness, like the tug-of- war that teaches how pulleys and levers can enable a few lasses to beat several much stronger lads. Visitors here must often collaborate to complete a task and that is no accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're just using science as an excuse, really.

LOCKRIDGE: Young visitors on a recent morning learned how to build robots and race cars.


LOCKRIDGE: They learned how lie detectors work, what sound waves look like. They learned how to make clouds.

MONTGOMERY: It's clearly a place where everybody can come.

LOCKRIDGE: Built at the end of a shipyard, the museum complex, which includes a 10,000-seat arena and shopping mall, is called The Odyssey, as if in recognition of the long, dangerous journey this city has undertaken and has yet to complete.

Rick Lockridge, CNN, Belfast.


HAYNES: The case of Chandra Levy, who has been missing now for more than a hundred days, has brought the former Washington intern's parents into the media spotlight. Sadly, they are not alone. Families from across the nation and the world are missing loved ones. When a crisis like this strikes, many families turn to support groups for comfort.

Rusty Dornin has more on that.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not knowing, families and loved ones of the missing describe it as torture.

DONNA HALEY, STEPMOTHER OF MISSING WOMAN: If you haven't been in our shoes, you don't understand what we're going through. It is -- it is a black hole in the middle of your heart.

DORNIN: A black hole that drove Susan Levy and two other families of missing women to create a support group for the families and friends of the missing.

(on camera): In missing person cases, it is often those left behind feel compelled to do something, anything to keep the memories of their loved ones alive and help others in their same situation.

LES WEIDMAN, STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFF: I think for a lot of the, I think it's desperation. I mean, they, they're feeling frustrated because they're not getting the kind of information that they're hoping for. A lot of these cases are protracted. They go on for months and months and these poor people, they just live this pure hell where they're just looking for any opportunity that might finally bring them the kind of news that they're hoping for.

DORNIN (voice-over): When the three Yosemite tourists disappeared and were found murdered, their loved ones started the Sund/Carrington Foundation. It helped Chandra Levy's family put up part of the reward.

KIM PETERSON, SUND CARRINGTON FOUNDATION: Our organization puts up reward money for families who have missing or murdered loved ones, but don't have the resources to put up a reward.

DORNIN: When his daughter, Polly Klaas, was kidnapped and then found murdered, Marc Klaas also felt compelled to do something.

PETERSON: The KlaasKids Foundation by Marc Klaas helps get the word out and fingerprints kids and he's travelled all over the nation bringing this to the forefront.

The Amber Foundation by Kim Swartz -- there are several organizations that have been founded.

DORNIN: One of the most famous advocates of the missing and other crime victims, John Walsh, not only started his own TV show, he also founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

His son Adam was abducted in 1981 and later found murdered.

Along with the high profile organizations, there are many groups most people never hear about.

PETERSON: I know families whose faces haven't been profile and have started their own search groups and things that they need to do. It helps in their healing, as well as feeling like they're doing something in honor of their loved one.

DORNIN: The need to reach out to others, others going through similar anguish.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Modesto, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HAYNES: That kind of support can be a comfort to those in very difficult situations.

And that is CNN NEWSROOM for Tuesday. Thanks for watching. We're going to see you back here tomorrow.

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