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ANNOUNCER: It's Thursday, February 10, 2000. Tonight on CNN NEWSSTAND, more than 150 people held hostage for four days.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've recovered four handguns, five knives, one knuckle duster, two detonators and two grenades.
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ANNOUNCER: A minute-by-minute account of a siege that ended, but a story that isn't over.
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ANNOUNCER: No undertakings of any kind concerning asylum or any other matter were given by representatives of the British government.
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ANNOUNCER: John Rocker faces the music. The man who went to far with his mouth now says baseball went too far with its punishment.
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JOHN ROCKER, ATLANTA BRAVES PITCHER: Read it in the papers like everybody else.
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ANNOUNCER: What happened during two days behind closed doors. Rich in imagination, rich in creativity, and all they needed to unlock it was a computer.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody looks at a community like East Harlem, or Central Harlem and says, "This is a rich poor community."
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ANNOUNCER: Click by click, there's a new renaissance in the inner city. CNN NEWSSTAND, with anchors Judd Rose and Willow Bay in New York.
WILLOW BAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSSTAND. Judd is off tonight. Frank Sesno is with us from Washington -- Frank.
FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Willow.
Our top story: worries about the safety in the skies prompts a sweeping inspection order on the ground. These are mandatory inspections for all airlines in the United States, an emergency order by the Federal Aviation Administration involving some of the most popular aircraft ever built. The MD-80 series includes the MD-83, the kind of plane involved in the Alaska Airlines crash, as well as MD- 90s, DC-9s and Boeing 717s. The series first went into service almost 20 years ago. Today, there are about 1,100 in the U.S. alone.
The FAA order comes after a voluntary inspection by Alaska Airlines found part of the horizontal stabilizer on two of its planes damaged. That same part, a jackscrew recovered from the crash site of flight 261, was also damaged, raising concern there may -- may -- be a connection. Late word from the crash site is that a nut that worked with the jackscrew has been recovered as well. Both pieces are being sent to Washington for analysis.
Well joining me now to talk more about emergency orders from the FAA is Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff of that agency.
First, how serious an order such is this? What's the signal?
MICHAEL GOLDFARB, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF FAA: Very serious. When the FAA acts in an emergency manner, it in effect says that the MD-80 series of aircraft would not be deemed airworthy, in word that immediate inspection of the tail section, of the stabilizer before those planes can safely can go back into regular service.
SESNO: All right, now what is involved in that inspection? How time-consuming? How thorough?
GOLDFARB: Well, quite thorough. Boeing yesterday, as you remember, Frank, issued a voluntary request that all airlines doing their maintenance do a five-step process of literally looking at that jackscrew assembly, the lubrication of it, the controls in it. The FAA ordered today, based on two other Alaska Airline planes. Finding problems with the jackscrews similar to what was found on the Alaska Air crash led the agency pretty much to remove the benefit of doubt now and say we want an immediate inspection of that tail section to make sure there's no problem systemic to that series of aircraft.
SESNO: Word from the crash site recovery now of this nut that we just talked about as well as the jackscrew itself. This analysis that's going to take place, the key is to determine whether the damage was caused by the crash or preceded the crash. How is that determined? GOLDFARB: Well actually, the board up until this afternoon, the NTSB was divided on the issue. Many thought that, in fact, that damage was caused by the crash itself. They will do metal tests, very sophisticated tests on that jackscrew to figure out, did that casing or that filing come from the nut that held it, and was that prior to and a cause of the crash, or did it result from the impact on the water?
SESNO: What does this suggest about the safety of these planes?
GOLDFARB: Well, I think it calls into question right now the planes themselves. Aircraft are built with an enormous amount of redundancy in them. Many planes have parts that have problems. This is a puzzling crash, quite frankly. We haven't had a stabilizer or a trim, a small piece of the stabilizer, bring down an aircraft before, which is why early on, some experts thought that the pilots may have exacerbated this problem in setting the flaps and preparing for landing.
So it's a significant thing, a crash, and in fact, a first of its kind. The plane itself has been a workhorse of the industry, it's a very good, well-manufactured plane, but this problem doesn't leave much room for doubt right now.
SESNO: And Alaska Air has inspected 34 of these MD-80s, and as you've noted, and as we've noted, two of them showed some signs of concern or problem. Is that number, two of 34, a worrying number?
GOLDFARB: One of 34 is a worrisome number, so that's not -- the fact that's it's only two and I think American, Delta and others found no problems isn't really relevant. What's relevant is that the same jackscrew manufactured, I believe, in this aircraft in '97, as opposed to the 1991 manufacture of the of the plane that crashed had the same characteristics. That's relevant enough for the government to say, let's take a step back, let's have an immediate inspection and make sure we're not dealing with jackscrews.
SESNO: How should the flying public respond to all of this?
GOLDFARB: Well, you know, we've had a lot of high-profile crashes lately, and I mean, statistically, we can tell you how safe it is, and you can fly thousands of years, nothing's going to happen, it's the safest mode of transportation, but then you see planes crashing in the ocean, and you begin to say, what's going on here?
The good news is nothing systemic has come out of these crashes that would imply we have a serious problem, but I think it's reason for pause, and certainly on this series and until these inspections are complete, the public has reason, as do anybody else, to, you know, wonder whether or not these planes have a problem with their stabilizer.
SESNO: The investigation will continue.
Michael Goldfarb, thanks you very much.
BAY: Thanks, Frank. Hostages freed from that hijacked Afghan plane are spending the first night of freedom in England. Nearly half of them are hoping to stay. Seventy-four of the freed hostages requested asylum in Britain. The hijacking still remains a mystery. Among unanswered questions: Why the plane touched down at Stansted Airport near London after a three-day odyssey? How did we get to this point?
Turn back the clock to half-past midnight, Sunday. The Ariana Airlines plane takes off from Kabul, Afghanistan, for Mazar-e Sharif, then, a change of itinerary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have confirmed that the plane has gone missing.
BAY (voice-over): Sunday, 3:15 a.m. Eastern time, the plane lands in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent. Ten people are released, and less than four hours later, it is airborne again.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN ANCHOR: This just in to CNN: A hijacked Afghan 727 carrying at least 166 people has landed once again, this time in Kazakhstan.
BAY: Three more passengers are released. But at 9:15 a.m., the refueled plane is off again, this time heading for Moscow.
GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: There is a tense hostage situation in Moscow. Russian security forces have surrounded a hijacked Afghan airliner with at least 140 people onboard.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest here in Moscow is that security officials now say the hijackers of this Afghan Ariana Air Boeing 727 have now released nine passengers. The hijackers have been in constant touch with negotiators since they landed in Moscow, and with Russian authorities, demanding food be brought to the aircraft to feed the remaining passengers.
BAY: At 5:25 p.m., the 727 departs from Moscow.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: A hijacked Afghan airliner is flying toward Western Europe, but it's is not clear where the plane will land next.
BAY: At 9:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, the answer, as the plane arrives at Stansted Airport, just outside London.
KELLEY: The Afghan media is speculating that the hijackers want the release of a former regional governor who was being held by the ruling Taliban. CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, talks are under way with hijackers on that airplane, which is right now parked at London's Stansted Airport.
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police have confirmed, as you've just reported, that two men, one woman and two children, among the hostages, have now left the airplane
BAY: The remainder of Monday was quiet, as officials continued to talk with the hijackers, believed to be armed with grenades, pistols and daggers, their motives still unclear
JOHN BROUGHTON, ESSEX POLICE: We must continue to talk, and you know, it has been our stated intention right from the beginning of this incident to bring it to a successful and safe conclusion without injury.
BAY: Tuesday began calmly. 9:30 a.m.: A single passenger complaining of health problems is released. But the calm would not last long.
Tuesday, 5:45 p.m.: In the most dramatic moment to date in the crisis, four crew members stage a daring escape through a cockpit window,
More activity later that evening. 10 p.m.: Another crew member is pushed down the steps from the rear of the aircraft.
Calm was eventually restored, but only for a time.
Wednesday, 10:18 p.m.:
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Now you can see by these pictures -- again, these are nightscope pictures, so it's not a very clear image -- many, many of the passengers appear to be coming down the stairs and leaving the aircraft.
BAY: 10:50 p.m.: 85 more hostages are released from the plane.
1:16 a.m. Eastern Time, Thursday: All known passengers had been released from the plane. And in the wake of the crisis, authorities were left to speculate why?
JACK STRAW, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Of the 165 persons aboard, 60 have so far told immigration officers that they wish to apply for asylum, together with an additional 14 dependents. Most of the remainder have yet to make their wishes known.
BAY: As for those 74 people seeking asylum, Home Secretary Jack Straw, from whom we just heard, said he plans a personal review of every asylum request arising from this week's hijacking. Straw is not ready to put out the welcome mat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STRAW: I'm determined that nobody should consider that there can be any benefit to be obtained by hijacking.
Subject to compliance with all legal requirements, I would wish to see removed from this country all those from the plane as soon as reasonably practical.
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BAY: The aftermath of another British hijacking, this one involving a Sudanese airliner, raises questions about whether Straw can make his tough line stick. The six Iraqis at the center of the 1996 incident were convicted and sentenced to prison. They were freed on appeal. They are still in Britain asking for asylum.
We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: On deck: Braves' pitcher John Rocker goes to bat for his career.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a chilling effect in America that racism, homophobia and bigotry is tolerated, and it's tolerated by Major League Baseball.
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ANNOUNCER: The play by play, when CNN NEWSSTAND continues.
SESNO: An update now on our top story of the past two nights. The FBI is pursuing leads that this week's series of attacks on popular computer Web sites were launched from high-capacity university or business computer systems. According to government sources, the attackers infected those computer systems with programs, which in turn, forced the university or business systems to send out millions of messages to overload the affected Web sites. The overload forced the Web sites to shut down or greatly curtail service.
In other top stories, Jesse Ventura apparently has had it with the Reform Party. Officials close to him tell CNN the Minnesota governor will announce he's quitting the party at a news conference tomorrow. There's talk of setting up a new party, tentatively called the "Independence Party."
A new political ad starts running tomorrow, with one former basketball superstar endorsing another for president. Michael Jordan, who's never publicly supported a candidate before, says he's backing Bill Bradley because of his positions on health care and gun control.
Actor Jim Varney is dead, 50 years old, a victim of lung cancer. To many, he'll always be Ernest, that know-it-all, good old boy in TV's commercials, who became such a cult figure, he ended up in movies. BAY: Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker has spent the last two days here in New York meeting with league officials. The reliever is trying to overturn a decision by the baseball commissioner to suspend him until May 1 for his comments in a "Sports Illustrated" article. A ruling is not likely to come before spring training begins next week.
CNN/"Sports Illustrated's" Nick Charles shares his thoughts on the case in this "Reporter's Notebook."
NICK CHARLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): John Rocker's comments offended a large portion of society, specifically New Yorkers, and I thought, well, maybe they have better things to do. This is a city that's constantly on the move. But one of the unions, I think the Asbestos Union came up and blew up this inflatable rat, and said that immigrants against John Rocker, because he did offend immigrants with one of his statements.
Again, this is a city that moves, and it sort of stopped a little bit are for Rocker, though. You could see that people were taken up in it, and everybody seemed to know who he was.
Two days of arbitration hearings, and on the first day, Bud Selig, the commissioner, spend nearly six hours justifying his position why he fined and suspended John Rocker.
BUD SELIG, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: I did what I thought I had to do and what was right, and that's as far as I -- you know, I'm very comfortable in this position.
CHARLES: The arbitrator listens to this and has as much time as he wants to decide one way or the other. There's really -- he could either overrule Bud Selig did, he could endorse it, or he could modify Rocker's suspension. And I think the union is going to argue for haste in this matter because they feel Rocker has to get on with his career, and if you waffle on this too much and then you uphold a month's decision, he's sort of suspended in limbo, because spring training is starting next week. Braves pitchers report next week to spring training, and Rocker won't be one of them.
I interviewed Stan Kasten, the president of the Braves last week, and he told me that Rocker still has redeeming value as a person and certainly as a pitcher. It's a nice way of saying, he's got a 95- mile-an-hour fastball, of course, and he throws left-handed. And those guys are very much at a premium, so you don't dump a guy that easily.
But Kasten made the point it would have been easier to just dump him and look valiant in the whole deal. But he also said that he faces a colossal hurdle going into that clubhouse and looking into the eyes of his teammates, and apologizing an making things right with them. And then not only when he goes on the on the road he'll hear some about vociferous boos and he'll be subject to a the lot of abuse, I would think, verbal abuse, but when he comes home, even pitching in Atlanta, it's not going to be a 100 percent endorsement by any means just because he's pitching for the home club.
Because as baseball said and Kasten admitted, he offended a lot of people, but I don't think anybody hates him enough to make him pay for the rest of his life. And I think what's going to overrule it all is his ability to help the home team win.
BAY: Coming up: a big name in entertainment tries bringing its core audience to a place many have never been: online. Details next, in our "MONEYLINE" update.
BAY: The Nasdaq resumed its march into record territory today. But tomorrow's report from the Commerce Department could shake things up.
Tony Guida has all the details in our "MONEYLINE" update.
TONY GUIDA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
You'll want to pay special attention to the markets tomorrow if you're a consumer. And who among us isn't? Your spending has been the jet fuel that has fired this economy for the last nine years. And tomorrow we get a new read on one important aspect of consumer spending. We'll have more about that in a minute. Today's markets were driven once again by the two primal forces of Wall Street: fear and greed. The Nasdaq cornered the greed, as investors drove tech stocks up 122 points. That's a gain of nearly 3 percent, and another record for that composite. Fear of interest rate hikes dominated the Dow again. Blue chips lost 55 points to 10643.
And the same fears, plus a poor auction of Treasury notes, drove the 30-year bond down more than 1 1/2 points. The yield up now to 6.42 percent.
One of America's richest and most well-known African-American entrepreneurs is betting the farm on a new Web site. Robert Johnson, CEO of BET Holdings, launched BET.com this week. The clout of African-Americans in cyberspace continues to grow, and Bob Beard knows why.
BOB BEARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Johnson is brashly confident content will make BET.com a first-stop Web portal for African-American households.
ROBERT JOHNSON, CEO, BET HOLDINGS: Information, from an entertainment, from a cultural from a finance, health, family, the whole gamut of content that African-Americans are looking for will be on BET.com.
BEARD: BET.com has already raised $35 million in private funding. Johnson's success in cable television has attracted major advertisers and heavyweight venture capital. Microsoft, USA Networks, News Corp. and Liberty Media are all minority partners in the Web site.
(on camera): BET.com will eventually include shopping, an auction site, business-to-business services, and if Johnson can sell Wall Street an IPO within a year.
(voice-over): Johnson is betting BET's strong brand will overcome some stiff competition, African-American Web sites like Netnoir.com and Blackvoices.com.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want something that's for us, that's targeted to our interest, and the people who frequent our site are looking for that.
BEARD: Still, African-American Web sites face a challenge in helping to bridge the so-called digital divide. According to the Commerce Department, only 11 percent of African-American households had access to the Internet in 1998, compared with 30 percent of white households.
TONY WILHELM, BENTON FOUNDATION: One act can't do it alone. It's really going to take an effort across the private sector, government and the non-profit philanthropic sector to really bridge the digital divide.
BEARD: Experts say sites like BET.com and Blackvoice.com are a start, given African-American GDP totals about $500 billion, equal to that of Mexico or Australia.
Bob Beard, for CNN Financial News, Washington.
VARNEY: We told you about a key measure of consumer spending coming out tomorrow. That is the Commerce Department's report on retail sales. Also, watch the stocks of three major high tech companies: Yahoo!, Real Networks and Broadcom are splitting their shares, effective with the close of trading on Friday.
That is our "MONEYLINE" update. For a complete look at all the day's business news, watch "AHEAD OF THE CURVE" every weekday morning at 5:00 Eastern time. And be sure to catch "MONEYLINE," nightly at 6:30 Eastern, all right here on CNN.
"NEWSSTAND" will return in just a moment with the stock of the week.
SESNO: Back when CNN NEWSSTAND first started, we solemnly pledged on the air to make no bad puns about Viagra, the anti- impotence pill released by Pfizer. Well, the pledge still holds. But in light of the news this week, we are going to take another look at the company. It's our stock of the week.
SESNO (voice-over): Persistence pays off for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. After a three-month battle to take over its competitor Warner-Lambert, Pfizer finally sealed the deal on Monday. The multibillion-dollar stock deal between Pfizer and Warner-Lambert creates the world's second largest drug company with a combined market cap of $230 billion. Pfizer outbid American Home Products, which proposed a merger with Warner-Lambert back in November. AHP now walks away with a hefty $1.8 billion breakup fee, the largest in history.
So our first question: What were Pfizer's motives for merging?
ALEX ZISSON, CHASE H&Q: Pfizer looked at their pipeline, and realized they had had a bunch of failures. They had a migraine drug that was delayed, a schizophrenia drug that was delayed, a diabetes drug that failed in trials, a breast cancer drug that failed in trials, and an antibiotic called Trovan that was basically taken off the market. Pfizer really needed to do something one way or another to keep earnings in the top tier.
CARL SEIDEN, J.P. MORGAN: I think one of the reasons that certain people think that this was a move out of weakness is because Pfizer's recent track record has been stunning. For three years in a row, they've launched the most successfully launched product ever. Investors have gotten so used to that success, we expect to see one of these every year. And the reality is there is no second act in the year 2000 and in the year 2001. But to look at that observation and to say that Pfizer's pipeline is dry, I think is a little bit of an overstatement.
SESNO: Analysts say questions surrounding the takeover led to a poor performance of Pfizer's stock in recent months.
So we asked our analysts: Is now the time to buy into Pfizer?
SEIDEN: We think right now is a good time to be investing in either Pfizer or Warner-Lambert. We're optimistic that the company will be able to deliver on their promise of 25 percent earnings growth. And even though the evaluation on the stock is relatively high, we think it deserves to be trading where it is right now.
ZISSON: There are a couple of other drug stocks that we think are a little bit more attractive right here, especially over the short run. In the long run, it's not a bad strategy to just buy one of the top one or two companies in the field. It is expensive, but it's not outrageously expensive.
SESNO: Recent changes within the health care industry, such as the growth of managed care, less drug development and proposed health care legislation have put pressure on pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, resulting in more than two dozen mergers.
And with no blockbuster drug, like Viagra or Lipitor, in Pfizer's current pipeline, we wondered, where does Pfizer go from here?
ZISSON: We're just on the verge of the human genetic code being cracked, and the ability to really ramp up R&D right now is probably important, and Pfizer, because of this merger, is in great opportunity to do that. They'll spend almost $5 billion this year on R&D, which is about twice what their average competitor is spending.
SEIDEN: There are many challenges in the pharmaceutical industry for Pfizer and for all the companies involved. All eyes right now are really on Washington and trying to get a sense for whether or not there will be some kind of meaningful Medicare reform that might include a prescription drug benefit for the elderly, and whether or not, with that, we would get government control of pharmaceutical prices.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: the Internet meets the inner city, a unique experiment goes online, when CNN NEWSSTAND returns.
BAY: Earlier, our "MONEYLINE Update" looked at how BET and other deep-pocketed businesses are trying to attract minorities onto the World Wide Web.
"NEWSSTAND's" Perri Peltz recently found another kind of bridge across the so-called "digital divide": not a splashy dot.com, but a bridge built especially for children.
PERRI PELTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Monday morning at a Harlem apartment building and children are waking up early to get ready for school. This is Miracle. That's her name. Miracle Jackson. She's 12 years old, and she's on her way to school with her friend Jessica.
Some say Miracle lives on the wrong side of the digital tracks in a community where many people can't even afford to buy a computer. Miracle is lucky. After school, she and her friends can take advantage of a tech center right in the middle of Harlem called Playing to Win.
MIRACLE JACKSON, STUDENT: There's classes where a lot of girls are in that we're making games, like our own. We're making our own games that actually work that we can put on our Web sites.
PELTZ: Here, anyone from Harlem can use a computer at a nominal charge.
Mara Rose is director of Playing to Win.
MARA ROSE, DIRECTOR, PLAYING TO WIN: Miracle's wonderful. She comes here every single day after school, and she is incredibly savvy with the technology. She picks things up really quickly. She knows how to make Web sites now. She knows how to use Photoshop. She knows how to use Illustrator.
PELTZ: Miracle is not alone. This is Melvin Johnson.
MELVIN JOHNSON, STUDENT: This is my baby right here.
PELTZ: He's part of a group of teenagers at Playing to Win, which publishes an online newspaper called "Harlem Live."
JOHNSON: This kid that learned HTML -- he was only like 19. He was saying how he had a good job. He was on his way to NYU. And I figured why can't I do that.
PELTZ (on camera): Show your "Harlem Live" page.
JOHNSON: My profile?
JOHNSON: I'm liking it. I like working on computers, using video camera, and going out on stories. You meet a lot of people that can benefit you later on in life, too.
PELTZ (voice-over): Rahsaan Harris and Richard Calton direct the "Harlem Live" program, one of the most popular at Playing to Win. They believe computer access is everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the modern world, to be able to have access to everything that's out there, you need to know where that information is. A lot of that information right now is on the Internet. .
PELTZ: When Antonia Stone founded Playing to Win in 1983, she had a dream.
ANTONIA STONE, FOUNDER, PLAYING TO WIN: A dream of having a center in some kind of low-income neighborhood where people could just drop in, put their hands on a computer, learn something about the technology, learn what it would be for them so that -- what it would mean for their lives.
PELTZ: Back in the late 1970s, Stone quite her job as a math teacher at a prestigious Manhattan prep school to develop the idea of community technology centers. At that time, it was by no means obvious that low-income neighborhoods would need or even want computers.
STONE: The Macintosh wasn't a saleable item. Bill Gates was in college. It was the very dawn of individualized technology.
PELTZ: But she was convince that computers were going to make a difference for every one and she worried about who would get to use them.
STONE: If computers are expensive and nobody has them at home and they're only in independent schools and in rich school district like Scarsdale and various places, what's going to happen to the rest of the world? PELTZ: And now today there is CTCNet, a group of over 350 community technology centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods across the country. They're all based on the model of Playing to Win. And they're all the tools of opportunity, helping people shift careers into the new digital economy.
Before he arrived at Playing to Win, Baheem Abdur Razak (ph) had a career as a boiler mechanic.
BAHEEM ABDUR RAZAK: I got hurt, and they said, you can't do this work anymore, no more physical work. So I learned Web development here, and I'm teaching it now. And I'm like I never even imagined being in Web development.
PELTZ (on camera): How does that feel?
RAZAK: When you actually work doing something you love, it's totally different. I mean, I love computers. I do this at home. I go home, I'm on my computer. So I get paid to do this.
PELTZ (voice-over): Playing to Win is not just about helping adults enter the computer economy. It's also finding creative ways to introduce everyone to computers.
ROSE: We realized that there weren't a lot of girls coming here. We have a lot of women who come, but in terms of girls and boys, there's a lot more boys. And we tried to figure out what we could do to recruit more girls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that girls can do better with computers than boys.
JACKSON: Boys use them for games. Girls most of the time use them for more intelligent, and you know, intellectual things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We made a quilt (ph).
JACKSON: The quilt itself wasn't made on the computer, but a lot of things came from the computer.
ROSE: They scanned in pictures of themselves and images that meant something to them, and they put them into Photoshop and they used Illustrator to write about themselves. And I'm excited that we found a way to bring the girls in and that they now feel comfortable here and feel like it's their community too.
PELTZ: But not everyone believes that computer access is what children like Miracle and her friends need most to get ahead in life.
David Gelerntner is a professor at Yale University. He teaches computer science, but warns that computers will not fix societal problems.
DAVID GELERNTNER, YALE UNIVERSITY: I think computers is the absolute last thing they need. They need to learn reading and writing and his history and arithmetic. That's what will turn them into educated citizens. That's what will make them economically productive and vastly more important. That's what will make them capable citizens and productive human beings. That's what they need.
PELTZ (on camera): Why not use the money, the time, the resources, and really focus on teaching these kids how to read and write? Aren't computers the icing on the cake?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they are reading and writing. I mean, and they're given a reason to read and ride. I mean, it's not just a hand-in to the teacher who will grade it. This is something that goes out on a worldwide audience, so they're motivated to learn.
PELTZ (voice-over): Fifteen-year-old Shem Rajoon is one of those who became highly motivated.
SHEM RAJOON, STUDENT: I'm not a writer. I'm a photographer. But I've been around a lot of writers, and like some of the stuff that they do pushed off on me a little. And like I just have like better writing skills now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't performing well in classes, and here we'd go back over to the school, and like, this kid is incredible. He learns software like that. And now he's going to another school. And he's reading more. He's into the classrooms. He's into the discussions. The teachers love him.
PELTZ: And educators around the country seem to be in love with computers. The U.S. Department of Education says increasing numbers of studies show that computer access for kids pays off with improved academic performance, higher attendance and more real-world skills.
And Congress is now spending millions of dollars to support computer education. But experts like Gelerntner have their doubts about those studies and the money being spent on computers.
GELERNTNER: All right, you spent a billion dollars on computers. What good have they done? It's a hard question to answer. The data are not available. But certainly we don't have the data that says it's worth the money.
PELTZ: While some experts disagree about the benefits, the kids are hard at work, using their computers and asking questions of their advisers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids are producing, and like their story will get e-mail replies from folks from all over.
And all of a sudden, they don't see themselves as like a failure or someone who's not really good at communicating or writing. They're somebody who is proud of their work.
JACKSON: What did you think about all the hype of Y2K? Was it justified?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then they take more risks, and they take more risks. And that snowballs into like a lot of different opportunities that they might not have even ventured into in the first place.
But it is caring and getting involved with people that really makes a difference.
PELTZ: And it seems that the critics such as Gelerntner at Yale might agree that engaging the kids is really what matters most.
GELERNTNER: There is no substitute for parents, a relative, somebody, an adult who takes a personal interest in the child. We all know that.
PELTZ (on camera): Is playing to win a miracle?
ROSE: It's funny, because people love the fact that there's a "Miracle" here, because it's, you know, it's fun to talk about it that way. I don't -- I'm -- I can't answer that. I mean, I think it's wonderful. I don't know that it's a miracle.
BAY: If you want to check out the work done by some of the teens wee just met, you can head for their Web site. It's harlemlive.org, as in non-profit organization rather than a commercial dot.com.
SESNO: And then coming up on NEWSSTAND, it's his first major role since "Titanic." Will it be sink or swim for Leonardo DiCaprio at "The Beach"?
BAY: It's Harlemlive.org, as in non-profit organization, rather than a commercial dot-com.
SESNO: And coming up on NEWSSTAND, it's his first major role since "Titanic." Will it be sink or swim for Leonardo DiCaprio at "The Beach."
BAY: He had girls swooning as the romantic Jack Dawson in the megahit "Titanic," but it appears Leonardo DiCaprio is looking to remake his pretty boy image. He takes on a much more sinister role in his new film, "The Beach."
Here again, NEWSSTAND's Perri Peltz with "Entertainment Weekly" critic Lisa Schwarzbaum on DiCaprio's first big test since "Titanic."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEACH")
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: How to we get from there to there?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: We swim.
DICAPRIO: We swim?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes.
We leave our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rafts on this island and then we swim. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You can swim, can't you, Richard?
DICAPRIO: Of course I can swim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PELTZ: Lisa, "The Beach," another adaptation of a book.
LISA SCHWARZBAUM, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY" CRITIC: I know we always open like this, but I think the think you're supposed to open with: Leo DiCaprio finally. Where has he been? This is the question everybody has been asking since "Titanic."
PELTZ: Where has he been?
SCHWARZBAUM: Well, he has been dithering and partying I think is what had happened. It took him -- he's a young man, and I don't know who his guidance is, but he was really concerned that his "Titanic" image was too teeny-bopper and too romantic, so he was looking for something that was going to get him out of that.
PELTZ: And did this work?
SCHWARZBAUM: This certainly gets him out of being, you know, the wonderful guy from "Titanic." He is playing a character who's a hitchhiker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEACH")
DICAPRIO: Look, we're not going jump, all right. So just can it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZBAUM: We should say actually that this is based on the book "The Beach" by Alex Garland, which was a huge bestseller when it came out a couple of years ago, written by a young man, his first book, really kind of cool. It's about a backpacker who goes Thailand, and he and a couple of friends discover this hidden beach where there is a civilization of sort of Gen X dropouts. It's sort of like "Lord of the Flies," but not like "Lord of the Flies" in that they all get together and it looks like paradise, but beneath the paradise, there's trouble.
The book develops this strange kind of creepy undertone of menace and what's happening as the civilization is falling apart, as their moral values are falling apart. Here, it's mostly Leo with his nice little, kind of birdy shoulders, running around without his shirt on.
PELTZ: But does he look cute? SCHWARZBAUM: He looks skinny, and he looks young, and he looks young like a guy who really needs to be doing some more acting, get this out of your system, and let's move on to the next thing. The other thing that I need to say is that it was directed by Danny Boyle.
SCHWARZBAUM: The "Trainspotting" guy, who has a wonderfully innovative visual sense, and so there are moments in this movie that look kind of cool, that give you the sense of the video, MTV, pinball kind of Gameboy generation that this is aimed at.
PELTZ: I have to ask the question, Lisa, because every time I want to go to a movie, it looks like these movies are three hours long. Where's "The Beach" on that?
SCHWARZBAUM: I think this comes in -- it's under two, so if that works for your sitting-in-a-chair time, that's OK. I think that we need to grade it, though. You know, this beach, the sands are nice; the action isn't so much. I think is coming in at C+.
SCHWARZBAUM: It's sort of satisfactory. It's not as ouch as a D, but it's satisfactory, but let's see what he does next.
PELTZ: OK, great.
Lisa, thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEACH")
DICAPRIO: I will not die today!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Up next: He played on a world championship team. What happened to the man who went from the hardwood to hard times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People tell you, when you die, you go to hell. This is hell right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: When CNN NEWSSTAND returns.
SESNO: Well, the parents among us say it all the time, hoping our children will actually listen: stay in school, get a good education, no matter what. No matter if you play sports, make the big leagues, or even play on a championship team, someday, we say, you'll wish you'd stayed in school, just like the man CNN's Aram Roston recently came across.
JOE PACE, FMR. NBA PLAYER: You ever hear of raw talent? It was there. It just had to come out.
ARAM ROSTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When he was 23, Joe Pace was all raw talent. Those were his glory days. He was signed by the NBA's Washington Bullets as a back-up center in 1976. The next season the team won the championship title. Those days, it seemed he could fly.
PACE: I just jumped like I had wings on my back.
ROSTON: He stood out when the team was honored at the White House. At six foot eleven, he still stands out, but now he's homeless and unemployed in Atlanta. Most days are spent walking the streets in his size eighteen sneakers. He remembers driving a Jaguar and a Lincoln. Now he doesn't even have a driver's license. The day we talked to him, Joe took public transportation to pick up a paycheck for work as a day laborer.
PACE: Thank you very much.
ROSTON: He came away with a check for $41.
REV. CAROL JEAN MILLER, SHELTER DIRECTOR: Joe was a success by any standard. He had it all, and now he's homeless, and how could someone possibly come from that situation, total success, to being homeless on the streets no resources? That is a farther fall than most have.
PACE: A lot of people say, you played NBA, what did you do with your money? I ain't never made a half million, because if I did I wouldn't be in this position now.
ROSTON: He blames his slide on putting basketball ahead of education, and on his resentment that the NBA offers were never as good as he wanted. He got into college without even graduating from high school and then he didn't graduate from college either.
As a second-round draft pick for the Bullets, he wasn't earning a superstar salary, only $30,000 a year, and he admits to a fierce resentment that he was not paid what he thought he was worth, but Joe also admits there were drugs and and alcohol in those years.
PACE: They just tore my whole dream up, but I'm trying to tell you it wasn't the drugs what ended my career. It was my judgment.
ROSTON: There were also job offers and opportunities he didn't take advantage of. A job with the Celtics that he quit before the season even started. He played internationally and then left basketball entirely in 1993 and drifted from city to city. With no degree and no marketable skills, he's unable to support himself.
PACE: Working these jobs $7 an hour, something like that, can't afford -- have an apartment like $600, $700.
Here they come, all right.
ROSTON: He spends a lot of time at a park downtown. He has an 8-year-old daughter in Argentina he hasn't seen since she was 2, and a 20-year-old son he hasn't seen for three years. He feels like he's let down his mother.
PACE: I told her I was going to get her anything she wanted in the world. It didn't come true.
ROSTON: The job search is endless. At a sports bar, he was turned down for a cooking job. At night, he checks into the homeless shelter downtown.
MILLER: If someone like Joe can become homeless, then that might happen to me, and I think Joe in a sense is a mirror to the rest of us.
ROSTON: He has worked coaching children in the past, and that's what he wants to do again. He wants them not to make the mistakes that he did.
PACE: People say when you die you go to hell. This is hell right here, trying to survive in this jungle.
ROSTON: Aram Roston, CNN, Atlanta.
SESNO: A story and a lesson.
"SPORTS TONIGHT" is coming up next. Vince Cellini joins us now from the CNN "Sports Illustrated" newsroom with a preview -- Vince.
VINCE CELLINI, CNNSI "SPORTS TONIGHT": Frank, coming up on "SPORTS TONIGHT," only a baseball deal for the ages, Griffey Jr. is growing home. It's official. We have details. And the John Rocker hearing moves to day two, a complete report from New York. And from Atlanta, more warrants issued in the murder case involving Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. All this and future NFL Hall of Famers like Dan Marino and Bruce Smith saying good bye to their teams. "SPORTS TONIGHT" -- oh, yes, we'll have some games, too -- Willow.
BAY: Thanks, Vince.
Tomorrow, a tribute to a good man. Yes, Charlie Brown. And, especially, his creator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHY GUISEWITE, "CATHY" CREATOR: He's such a handsome man and he has such a gentle, generous presence about him.
MORT WALKER, "BEETLE BAILEY" CREATOR: Sparky and I -- we call him Sparky because he's named after a comic character called Sparkplug.
PATRICK MCDONNELL, "MUTTS" CREATOR: I tell everyone that it's the reason I became a cartoonist, again I grew up with "Peanuts," there wasn't a time for me that there wasn't "Peanuts."
JIM DAVIS, "GARFIELD" CREATOR: For me, every time -- my heart skips a beat when I see Sparky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESNO: Good grief, no more "Peanuts," tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
From Washington -- what will we read, Willow -- I'm Frank Sesno.
BAY: And I'm Willow Bay in New York. Good night from the NEWSSTAND.
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