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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for February 14, 2000

Aired February 14, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM kicks off a brand new week. I'm Shelley Walcott, flying solo today. Here's a look at our lineup.

In today's top story, the cartoon strip "Peanuts" and its creator both gone on the same weekend. We'll give you a sketch of the man behind the comics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like the end of an era.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to hand it to him, he drew it right up until the end of his life. Guy loved his comics.


WALCOTT: Then, in our "Environment Desk," endangered species up for sale on the Web. Why conservationists are cracking down on the sale of animal products.


GARY APPELSON, CARIBBEAU CONSERVATION CORP.: We were actually appalled at how easy it was to list things and illegally sell them on the Internet.


WALCOTT: From threatened animals to a threatened resource, today's "Worldview" examines the effort to preserve water.


WILLIAM COSGROVE, WORLD WATER COUNCIL: Every individual needs really to be sensitive to the value of water and to start to treat it with respect.


WALCOTT: Then in "Chronicle," the latest installment of our series for Black History Month. Our Joel Hochmuch examines the underrepresentation of African Americans in the fields of math and science.


MARSHALL SHEPHERD, RESEARCH METEOROLOGIST: The way we really glorify some athletes and entertainers, I tihkn we're going to have to start glorifying, you know, the neighborhood bus driver or the scientist or the engineer to make these kids say: Wow, you know, that's really neat to be a scientist. I want to be that way too.


WALCOTT: His comic strips coined the phrase "Good Grief." Well, today, it's just grief. Just hours before his final "Peanuts" comic strip hit Sunday newspapers around the world, legendary American cartoonist Charles Schulz died in his sleep.

He had been diagnosed with colon cancer last fall. His "Peanuts" comic strip has been part of the fabric of American culture for 50 years.

U.S. President Clinton paid tribute saying "For 50 years, Charles Schulz's keen eye, good and generous heart, and active brush and pen have given life to the most memorable cast of characters ever to enliven our daily papers."

Don Knapp is here with a final adieu to Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and the man who was Charlie Brown.


DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a half century, the characters of the "Peanuts" comic strip have dispensed wit and wisdom from the fresh and uncluttered perspective of children, the cartoon children of artist Charles Schulz. His strip runs in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and is seen by an estimated 350 million people.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Good grief, what a dog.


KNAPP: Millions more have watched an animated Charlie Brown and his friends on TV. Schulz's art imitates his own life.


CHARLES SCHULZ, "PEANUTS" CREATOR: I think if you're going to draw a comic strip every day, you have to draw upon every experience in your own life. I don't see any other way of doing it.


KNAPP: The Peanuts characters popularized words and phrases now common -- good grief, security blanket, happiness is a warm puppy. Peanuts made Schulz one of the best known and most successful cartoonists in the world.


SCHULZ: Those of us who are cartoonists, of course, are not used to this kind of attention.


KNAPP: He wrote he could not have known Snoopy would go to the moon.


UNIDENTIFIED ASTRONAUT: Here you go, Houston, we're all go.


KNAPP: Before Apollo 11 reached the moon, a lunar module named Snoopy dipped to within 50,000 feet of the moon's surface while a command module NASA called Charlie Brown remained in orbit. Those close enough to call Charles Schulz "Sparky" describe a shy homebody.

GAYE LEBARON, SCHULZ'S FRIEND: He took a vacation two years ago when he was, turned 75. He took five weeks off and I think it darned near killed him. I think he hung around the ice arena watching the ice show rehearsals and just, you know.

KNAPP: Schulz built the ice rink not just for his kids or because of his fondness for hockey, but because his friends said Santa Rosa needed an ice rink. He funded a number of charities and recently gave Sonoma State University $5 million for a library.

LEBARON: The ice rink is, in a way, his gift to the community, too. He laughs and says he loses a million dollars a year on it.

KNAPP: His family agreed long ago that Charles Schulz would be the only artist for the comic strip. So while his Peanuts characters may live forever, his contract says there will be no ghost written sequels after he's gone.

Don Knapp, CNN, Santa Rosa, California.


ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Smile, you're on camera. Space shuttle Endeavour astronauts are in the middle of mapping the Earth's surface. The topographical data is expected to be 30-times better than existing whole-Earth maps. The mapping follows Friday's launch.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: And lift off of space shuttle Endeavour.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a picture perfect launch but NASA and the six person multinational crew of Endeavour had little time to savor the moment. Once in orbit, they got right to work, preparing to extend a 200 foot boom off the side of the shuttle's payload bay.

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: In Houston we're showing movement of the mass.


O'BRIEN: The unprecedented operation went off without a hitch, ending some anxious moments for engineers and scientists on the ground and the crew in orbit.

KEVIN KREGEL, ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER: Any time you have something that we've not done before -- and we haven't done a mission like this before -- you have to have concerns on what may happen. You don't expect them but you have to expect the unexpected.

O'BRIEN: NASA and the Pentagon's National Imagery and Mapping Agency are expecting to create a digital three dimensional map of 70 percent of the Earth's surface. The huge database would fill up 15,000 CDs.

DOM GORIE, ENDEAVOUR PILOT: But the analogy I heard about was if you had 144 Pentium computers running at 12 hours a day it's going to take you 140 days to process all that data.

O'BRIEN: Geologists, ecologists and geographers see it as a scientific treasure trove. The Pentagon sees the maps as a better way to guide war planes and ground troops. Originally, NASA planned to spend 10 days mapping the Earth, but last month the agency abruptly shortened the mapping run to nine days to allow the crew time to troubleshoot if the boom won't retract.

ERNIE PAYLOR, PROGRAM SCIENTIST: There will be areas of the world that aren't covered at all so it's important and if everything is going well, we hope to get that 10th day.


WALCOTT: While the Internet opens our world and provides us with a source of far-reaching and instant communication, it can also a source of controversy. One problem that crops up from time to time: controversial Internet auctions. Last September, a human kidney went up for sale, It turned out to be a prank, but the bidding rose to nearly $6 million before eBay shut the auction down.

And now another controversy, this time over the sale of endangered species items. Rick Lockridge explains.


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Florida conservationist group says it was outraged to find dozens of sea turtle products for sale on eBay, the online auction house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it says genuine tortoise shell, so they are admitting that it is.

LOCKRIDGE: A lady's clutch. An ornamental comb. Guitar picks and more.

GARY APPELSON, CARIBBEAU CONSERVATION CORP.: A cigarette case made out of hawksbill sea turtle shell, selling for almost $200.

We were actually appalled at how easy it was to list things and illegally sell them on the Internet, and we were equally appalled at the number of items, not just hawksbill sea turtles, but a whole array of endangered and threatened species products were illegally being sold on eBay.

ROB CHESNUTT, EBAY GENERAL COUNSEL: We have over a half million items that are placed directly onto our site every day.

EBay's Rob Chesnutt says the Web site's huge volume makes it impossible to monitor every sale. And he says tricky laws and vague definitions make the job even tougher when it comes to animal products.

CHESNUTT: Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, when they were trying to find some unlawful tortoise shell items mistakenly thought that a couple of plastic items were in fact real tortoise shell. So it is not easy to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took us no effort at all to find these things.

LOCKRIDGE: But the Caribbean Conservation Corporation wants eBay to do a better job of enforcing its own rules.

APPELSON: Their own policy clearly states that they will not list sea turtle products, they will not list ivory, they will not list leopard skins, and yet they list them all in abundance. Why have a policy if they can't control it?

LOCKRIDGE (on camera): The turtles appear to have won; eBay says it will be more vigilant. And Chesnutt, a former federal prosecutor, says he will turn flagrant offenders over to police. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is, quote, "satisfied with the progress eBay is making in educating its customers on this issue." And the Florida sea turtle activists have offered to work with eBay to catch future offenders.

Rick Lockridge, CNN, Atlanta.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops and neither does the news.

WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, we zero in our environment. We'll span the globe to check out some endangered species: primates, primarily. But first, we wade in with another report on a crucial and dwindling resource. JORDAN: Water is the most common substance on Earth. But its very abundance is an illusion. Only a tiny fraction of the planet's water is drinkable. Yet from the time our ancestors evolved from hunters and gatherers to farmers, water has decided their success or failure.

Water is more precious than ever to a growing global population. And to make the most of this critical resource, farmers are growing more resourceful, as Siobhan Darrow reports.


SIOBHAN DARROW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, most of the world's farmers still irrigate the way their ancestors did 5,000 years ago, flooding their fields, wasting the bulk of water meant to benefit crops. To ensure safe water as the Earth moves into the next century, we must look first to agriculture, which uses two-thirds of all the water taken from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

Israel has developed a method called drip irrigation. It's 95 percent efficient. Half the country's farms now use it. So do some in Southern California, but it is an expensive technique; too expensive for most farmers in developing countries. Worldwide, less than one percent of irrigated land uses drip irrigation.

While new technologies are too costly for poorer countries to adopt, many experts complain that water is generally too cheap in industrialized nations.

ISMAIL SERAGELDIN, WORLD WATER COUNCIL: We need to price water to ensure the adoption of adequate technologies and to avoid waste.

DARROW: In California, industrial use dropped 30 percent between 1980 and 1990 because of laws requiring companies to reuse their waste water. The treatment process is costly enough that it forced business to conserve water. Some countries are relying on desalinization plants that can turn salt water into drinking water, but they, too, are expensive.

WILLIAM COSGROVE, WORLD WATER COUNCIL: It's not just enough to apply technical solutions any more, it requires a change in the way of life.

DARROW: Many of those changes are relatively easy. Toilets are the biggest water guzzlers in the home. Installing low-flush versions saves gallons daily; or stopping water loss through leaky pipes. In Britain, almost half of drinking water is lost to Victorian-era plumbing.

For parts of the world that don't even have plumbing, where diseases are spread by poor sanitation, simple hygiene practices could make a huge difference.

RICHARD JOLLY, U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: Until we, dare I say it, take sanitation out of the closet and talk about it, people will not get the -- realize the importance and get the lessons that need to be pursued.

DARROW: Jolly says it would cost an extra $10 billion a year for 10 years to provide water and sanitation worldwide.

JOLLY: That's about what Europe spends on alcohol in one year. It's about the same amount as the U.S. spends on perfume in a year.

DARROW: Water supply experts say we must look at the needs of aquatic life as well.

JASON MORRISON, PACIFIC INSTITUTE: There is a growing understanding that natural systems have been neglected over the history of water development of this century. And unless fundamental changes are made and a higher priority is given to those systems, we will loose them in their entirety.

DARROW: Like the Cienega de Santa Clara Marsh in Mexico, a habitat supporting not only birds and fish, but people as well. Mexico and the U.S. are working to reverse the damage done to this part of the Colorado River delta. Now the marsh, 60 miles south of the U.S. border, is being replenished with recycled agricultural water from Yuma, Arizona. The effort has temporarily restored the marsh, but it's future is in doubt.

BILL SNAPE, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE: We need to commit, relatively speaking, a very small amount of water to allow it flow into Mexico for ecological reasons. We're not talking about a major undertaking. We're talking about a little bit of commitment to do the right thing.

DARROW: Because of competition for every drop of water from growing populations on both sides of the border, there's no guarantee water will continue to be delivered -- a scenario played out around the world as agriculture, industry, and residential populations all vie for the same water. International agreements, new technologies and more efficiency are all important aspects of preserving our water supply, but it could take more profound changes.

COSGROVE: Every individual needs, really, to be sensitive to the value of water and to start to treat it with respect.

DARROW: Not merely as a resource to be managed, but as a force of nature whose destiny is interwoven with our own.

Siobhan Darrow, CNN, reporting.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: For more on water, check your NEWSROOM archives for February 7. You'll visit some of the world's most famous and troubled rivers.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: The Earth loses one or more species of plants or animals every 20 minutes. That adds up to at least 27,000 species a year. Today, we pinpoint primates. Primates are members of the highest order of mammals, including apes, monkeys and man.

But there are many more, and many of them are in trouble, as Natalie Pawelski explains.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From tiny golden lion tamarins to the world's largest living primate, the mountain gorilla, many of humanity's closest cousins are in trouble. A new study identifies 25 of the world's most endangered primates, including the Sumatran orangutan, the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, and several kinds of lemur.

ROSS MITTERMEIER, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: We have identified here the top 25 that are considered critically endangered. And these are really the tip of the iceberg. These are the animals that are down to a few hundred, at most a few thousand individuals. And in a few cases, we're down probably to a few dozen individuals.

PAWELSKI: The main threat to these species: the destruction of tropical forests cut for timber or cleared for settlement.

Another problem: the growing bush meat trade where wild animals, even endangered ones, are sold for food.

Despite these pressures, researchers say, not one species of primate went extinct in the 20th century. But at the dawn of the 21st century, about one in five primate species is in danger of dying out.

MITTERMEIER: About 20 percent are in some danger of going extinct over the next two to three decades. So this is a significant amount. One in five species could disappear in our lifetimes.

PAWELSKI: Most of the endangered apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates are found in hot spots of biodiversity, ecosystems around the globe that harbor more than their share of plant and animal species.

Many of these places, from the Amazon rain forest to the African island of Madagascar, are themselves endangered. The next century could see the survival of these places and the species that live there either safeguarded or doomed.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


WALCOTT: Today, we continue our look at Black History Month and the issues and issues and topics of special interest to African Americans. History is full of prominent blacks in the fields of math and science. Names like George Washington Carver and Ben Carson come to mind, for starters. Still, today blacks are vastly under- represented in these fields.

Our Joel Hochmuth examines some of the reasons why.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ignition, liftoff. JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a launch that went largely unnoticed in many parts of the world. This joint American and Japanese mission two years ago put a new satellite in orbit to measure tropical rainfall. It's providing critical information to NASA research meteorologist Marshall Shepherd. For the first time, he and other scientists are getting a 3-D look inside hurricanes.

MARSHALL SHEPHERD, RESEARCH METEOROLOGIST: Now, what you see. for instance, here is a towering -- what we call a chimney cloud. And we've notice that whenever we see these towering chimney clouds sticking up in the eye wall of the hurricane, that may be a signal of an intensification phase in the hurricane. So this is a very good example of how a new technological development at NASA on a NASA satellite system can enable or provide, really, a new perspective on old problems.

HOCHMUTH: Marshall works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C. He remembers first getting interested in weather research back in sixth grade.

SHEPHERD: I did always know that I wanted to be some type of scientist, though. Just in high school, I realized that NASA was really where I wanted to be.

HOCHMUTH (on camera): So this is like a dream come true?

SHEPHERD: It really is, it really is. I'm still like a kid in a candy store. I'm just getting paid for it now.

On the boards now is a new mission called the Global Precipitation Mission.

HOCHMUTH (voice-over): As an African American in his field, Marshall remains an exception to the rule. He's the only black in his group of about 400 weather scientists at Goddard. Nationwide, less than one percent of meteorologists are black.

SHEPHERD: The field is not exposed to a student, maybe, in the inner cities or -- they just -- they never would see meteorology or climate studies in course work. And if they don't have someone coming to talk to them in school, they won't even know about it, and so that cuts the pool off, or the pipeline.

HOCHMUTH: The picture for African Americans is only slightly better in other fields involving math and science. While blacks make up about 12 percent of the general American population, they make up only about seven percent of all math and computer scientists, about five percent of all physicians, and only about four percent of all engineers.

SHEPHERD: The way we really, you know, glorify some athletes and entertainers, I think we're going to have to start glorifying, you know, the neighborhood bus driver or the scientists or the engineers to make these kids say, wow, you know, I -- that's really neat to be a scientist. I want to be that way, too. HOCHMUTH: Just why do so few African American kids seem interested in math and science careers? We asked a group of middle school students in Atlanta.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There might be like a confidence thing because people think -- or they might think that, like, just because they're black, they might not be able to be accepted or be able to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nowadays, black children, they don't like to learn, they don't think they can -- they don't have the ability to do the same thing as white people, and they feel that they can't do math. They think that they're just going to fail math.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you keep on hearing stuff over and over, you're going to be bound to accept it.

HOCHMUTH: Their responses don't surprise Marshall. He credits his mother and an elementary teacher with giving him the confidence to pursue postgraduate degrees in his field. He says an active curiosity is the most important qualification for anyone studying for a career like his.

SHEPHERD: I always liked to read the encyclopedia. I read "World Book Encyclopedia" cover to cover. And that may seem a bit extreme, but my point in saying that is that, you know, if you really have an interest and a keen interest in wanting to find knowledge out, I think you can always set yourself on that path.

HOCHMUTH (on camera): If the situation for African Americans in the workplace is to change anytime soon, that change will have to show up first on college campuses. While the number black graduates in math and science is creeping up, there's still a long way to go. For example, in engineering, the latest figures still show that only about five percent of all four-year degrees in the U.S. go to African Americans.

GARY MAY, GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSITY: Basically, we're talking about diffusion. Rather than through a gas through the atmosphere, we're talking about diffusion through a solid.

HOCHMUTH (voice-over): Gary May is an electrical engineering professor at Georgia Tech, which turns out more black engineering graduates than just about any school in the U.S. He says even here it's not always easy finding enough qualified applicants.

MAY: We have some students -- some black students that come here and have never seen a computer, whereas students that come from affluent or majority communities have quite a bit of experience with computers by the time they arrive.

HOCHMUTH: Another problem is SAT scores. Math scores for African American high school students average about 100 points less than white students. To some experts, that's a civil rights issue.

VERNON ALLWOOD, MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The African American student is not as well-prepared for the SAT as the white student, meaning at the high school level, they don't have the same access to AP courses. And most of those problems are occurring in your inner city schools. In the affluent, white suburbs, the private schools, we're doing a pretty good job educating children, but we're not doing a good job with poor children.

HOCHMUTH: While this news may be discouraging, for African Americans who can make it through college, the future looks bright.

MAY: Our students, when they graduate from Georgia Tech, have five or six job offers with a bachelors degree, you know, starting salaries of $40,000 to $50,000, you know, masters degrees, you know, another 20, and PhDs, add another 20.

SHERLON KAUFFMAN, GRADUATE STUDENT, GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSITY: Coming out of a high-ranking institution and getting a masters degree kind of creates a free agency for you where you can control where you want to go and how much you want to make.

HOCHMUTH: But for scientists like Marshall Shepherd, there's more than a paycheck to think about. He hopes more and more African Americans will experience the other rewards of careers like his.

SHEPHERD: What I like most about my work is that I'm able to continue to do science projects, but now I work with multi-million and billion dollar satellites, and I get to do the same thing, basically: ask questions, ask why, and then use all of NASA's neat toys at its disposal to find the answers. But, in a sense, I feel not like a pioneer, but I feel like I'm kind of the hand opening the doors and I'm trying to, hopefully, usher in others behind me. I don't necessarily feel like a pioneer, I just feel like I'm the first and hopefully won't be the last.


WALCOTT: Just what is the key to getting more African Americans interested in math and science careers? Some experts say it's getting kids excited about these subjects at an early age.

Our Joel Hochmuth continues with a look at one young woman who's doing just that.


HOCHMUTH (voice-over): Amy Snipes is exactly where she always thought she'd be. This college senior at Atlanta's Emory University is majoring in anthropology and human biology.

AMY SNIPES, COLLEGE STUDENT: I just always wanted to prove, even though I'm from a single parent home, I'm a black female, I can do whatever I want. I'm going to succeed no matter what.

Now, what do you remember about the water cycle?

HOCHMUTH: Now, Amy is trying to instill that same confidence in others. Twice a week, she teaches science to second graders at an elementary school in Atlanta as part of a federally funded program. Though she gets college credit for her time, that's not her main motivation.

SNIPES: I like the fact that I can bring a child who's very withdrawn, not very confident in themselves, in their learning style, and teach them that you can do whatever you want to do, you can ask your own questions.

HOCHMUTH: Amy sees a lot of herself in these kids. A native of Savannah, Georgia, she, too, grew up in a poor neighborhood.

SNIPES: But if I can show them that I went to the same schools that you did, and I went through the same kind of education that you're going through now, if I can improve that in any kind of way, shape or form and make you feel good about your education, then that's what I want to do. I did have that. I had good teachers that got me excited about learning. And it's all about teachers getting the children excited. You need someone in the classroom excited about learning so that you can get the children excited about learning.

Who thinks it's a solid?

HOCHMUTH: The point of this lesson is to show the difference between a solid, liquid and gas, and that in the case of silly putty, things can take on two properties at once.

SNIPES: The children are learning, the children are doing hands- on science, the children are asking questions. They're becoming more confident, they're becoming scientists themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: She teaches us about spinning and central axis, and how do you make formulas like this and stuff.

HOCHMUTH (on camera): Do you want to be a scientist now?


HOCHMUTH: Do you think you might want to be a scientist now?


HOCHMUTH: What do you think about Miss Amy? Is she fun?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes. She's cool, too. She's nice, and she's cool, yes.

HOCHMUTH (voice-over): It's that kind of appreciation that will keep Amy coming back to this classroom until she graduates this spring.

SNIPES: I hope to show them that, yes, I am a positive role model because I'm you. I'm you when I was young, and you're me a couple years from now; to show them, yes, we don't have to live up to what people think that we are. We can be so much better.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALCOTT: And we wish Amy well. She's planning to pursue a PhD and ultimately a career in women's health research.

Next week in "Chronicle," the third installment of our black history month series. This time, I'll be taking a look at the effect the mass media has had on the African American woman's beauty ideal.

And that's it for us today. From all of us here at NEWSROOM, have a great day.


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