tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS February 18, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
wisconsin state capital has been the scene of rowdy protests against the governor's plan. again today demonstrators announced their intention that they are not backing down. in madison today, protesters upped the ante in numbers and in noise. and what began at as a battle over one state budget is now being billed as a national assault on unions. at issue is new republican governor scott 300,000 public workers. what has public sectors workers at a fever pitch, i think, is one of the last strong states >> a lot of blood swett and tears went into where we're at now and we don't want to let that go. >> reporter: what they say they'd lose is the ability to negotiate as a group over wages and working conditions.
for a second straight day, senate democrats refused to show up to work in in order to delaya vote on the proposal, and state troopers made a show of looking for them. teachers, too were playing hooky, for a third day now, like milwaukee schoolteacher mary ellen sheehan. >> wisconsin is one of the last strong state left in the country and that's why this is so important. >> reporter: this is ground cyr roy. >> this is ground zero, yes. >> reporter: the battle against the bill has also been joined by police and firefighters whose unions are not even affected by the bill as well as private sector unions. >> this is a taxpayer issue, right? >> no, it's workers' rights issue. >> reporter: republican lawmakers say they hear the protests but are not going to change their vote. >> we told people they were going to pay for their pensions and their health care and they overwhelmingly voted for the republicans and conservatives across our state. >> reporter: more protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their
supporters-- including tea party groups-- to hold rallies of their own. erica? >> hill: that means members will grow. cynthia, thanks. as we mentioned, it's not just wisconsin. republican governors in other states are also targeting public workers and their unions. more about that now from national correspondent jim axelrod. >> we will not be denied our rights to collectively bargain! ( cheers and applause). >> reporter: for some, what's going on in wisconsin is the opening bell. but for others, like ohio's governor john kasich... >> if they want to strike, they should be fired. >> reporter: ...it's a death knell for public unions. >> i report to the people. >> reporter: kasich, a republican, thinks he'll help close an estimated $8 billion budget gap in ohio by limiting the bargaining rights for public employees. >> kill the bill! >> this is a budget fight and in that way it's like all other states trying to balance their budget, but this has a charged ideological element. >> reporter: and governor kasich isn't alone. nine other republican governors
from nevada to new jersey are also targeting unions with various proposals, decreasing wages and bargaining power in some cases, increasing what workers contribute to pensions and benefits in others. >> the public sector union members do have a target on their back. they're the peg that's standing higher, and that's where the hammer is going to come down. >> republican governors see pushback from unions as a badge of honor. for democratic governors, they need unions. >> reporter: unions are a strong part of the democratic base, so pushing to roll back union member rights to bargain creates political risk. >> we're at an unprecedented moment of reckoning. this perfect storm, i think, is the worst it's ever been. >> reporter: and unions don't have any sort of upper hand when it comes to public opinion these days. according to one poll, the favorability for labor unions is at nearly its lowest level in a quarter century with less than 45% expressing a positive view.
erica? >> hill: quite a number, jim, thanks. turning our attention now to overseas and the wave of antigovernment protests. they started in the middle east, they have now spread to djibouti in east africa where thousands are calling for the president to step down. in bahrain today, soldiers opened fire on protesters, mostly shiites, who've been shut out of top jobs in government, a government dominated by the sunni minority. in jordan, fights broke out between supporters of king abdullah and protesters calling for democratic reforms. while in washington, the white house urged governments to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests. we have two reports from the middle east tonight, and two very different situations. we begin with allen pizzey in bahrain. >> reporter: the protesters made another attempt to take back bahrain's main square today. police and soldiers fired antiaircraft guns in the air and rubber bullets and bird shot at anyone who approached. but the bravest, or the craziest, refused to be intimidated. >> (translated): the bullets hit
him in the head. there was a fountain of blood coming out of his head. >> reporter: the question is, how much bloodier can it get? the stretchers kept rolling in. this is the casualty center in bahrain's main hospital. ten minutes before we got here, shots rang out in pearl square as protesters tried to get there. live ammunition was fired and doctors are telling us there have been many, many people injured. the triage was desperate and doctors said several of the wounded were in serious condition. doctors also accused security forces of blocking access to the wounded. >> the policemen, they take us from the ambulance, put us on our faces on the ground and start beating us. >> reporter: but rather than suppressing dissent, each crackdown seems to add fuel to the anger. today's rally began with several thousand people turning out for the funeral of two men killed in fighting in the central square on thursday into yet another
rally. a leading shiite cleric upped the rhetoric by terming yesterday's violence a massacre. and the chants escalated, from demands for political reform to calls for the ouster of the ruling al-khalifa family, sunnis who rule over a kingdom where 70% of the population is shiite. in a sign of how deep divisions are here, government supporters staged their own rally from the country's main sunni mosque, linked to the ruling family-- a 200-year-old dynasty teetering on the brink of chaos. reporting from indoors and over skype, and it's an indication of how tense things are here. authorities are seizing equipment from us. they don't want these pictures going out, and one reason is this situation has not yet been resolved. more demonstrations are planned for tomorrow and if any of the protesters shot today died, there will be funerals tomorrow and that's another possibility of violence. >> hill: allen, the white house has repeatedly told bahrain's rulers to show restraint in dealing with protesters. but just how far can washington
actually push for that? >> reporter: erica, the u.s. can't push bahrain too hard and too far because they need this place as a base for the fifth fleet. but there are indications that there is some movement. the king tonight said he appointed the crown prince to negotiate with all parties in bahrain with a view to ending the crisis. so perhaps there was a little u.s. pressure in there. it certainly shows the bahrainis would like to do this by dialogue and not by violence if that's at all possible. >> hill: allen pizzey in bahrain tonight. allen, thanks. in egypt, the military government repeated its call for workers to end their strikes, but it didn't happen today. terry mccarthy is in cairo. terry? >> reporter: that's right, erica. it's becoming clear the entire middle east is being affected by what began here in cairo when president mubarak stepped down just seven days ago. in cairo, it was victory friday as hundreds of thousands of egyptians converged on tahrir square. once a battlefield, now a monument to their one-week-old freedom.
first they prayed. then they partied. i'm standing here in tahrir square amidst a sea of egyptian flags and tens of thousands of people. they're chanting "hold your head high, you're egyptian." these people are not here to protest anymore, they're here to celebrate-- in stark contrast to many other parts of the middle east. in libya, as many as 46 people are thought to have been killed in the last two days by security forces. this morgue was full. opposition forces ran riot through the streets of the eastern city of benghazi and toppled a statue of moammar qaddafi's iconic green book, which contains his political theories. in yemen, at least four people were killed and 12 wounded as protests continued against president saleh. t.v. journalists were beaten and lost their equipment and in tightly controlled syria, protests beak out after traffic police yesterday viciously beat
a man in the streets of damascus. but in tahrir square, egyptians continued to celebrate. the party is still going on behind me here as you can see, but many people we have spoken to are only too well aware that tonight in the rest of the middle east there's cause for concern, not celebration. >> hill: terry mccarthy in cairo tonight. terry, thanks. one more note from the middle east. egypt's military gave iran the go-ahead today to send navy ships through the suez canal to get to syria, the first time that has happened since the 1979 iranian revolution. israel's foreign minister calls it a provocation. israel, of course, is a bitter enemy of both iran and syria. still ahead on the "cbs evening news," the on-air meltdown. the video went viral. tonight you'll hear from the reporter about what happened. but up next, fraud at work. delivering the mail and collecting a disability check. ♪
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here's investigative correspondent sharyl attkisson. >> reporter: it's always good to see federal employees hard at work. that is, unless they're collecting a check for being totally disabled at the same time. that's fraud. in this case, the double-dipper is the california t.s.a. screener behind the blurred image. federal disability is intended for those with medical conditions so severe they can't work at any job. today so many people claim to fit that definition, 18 million people are getting checks. >> i will just tell you, i'm biased when we have one in 20 people in this country on disability. i don't believe it. as a practicing physician in a poor area of the country with lots of problems, i don't buy it. >> reporter: by the government's own estimate, fraud and other improper payments ate up $25 billion in disability payments in recent years. senators from both parties asked the general accountability office to investigate. the g.a.o. started with the
obvious. they cross-referenced federal paychecks with names on federal disability. in just three agencies alone, 1,500 federal employees were found getting disability they probably didn't deserve. like this michigan woman. she qualified for disability because of mood and personality disorders. seven months later, she found work as a letter carrier but kept on taking disability checks-- a total of $37,000. this pennsylvania woman collected disability checks even as surveillance video showed her working as a mail clerk-- $19,000 in fraudulent payments. adding insult to supposed injury, nearly all the people the g.a.o. tracked down had gotten a little extra bonus-- $250 in stimulus money intended for disabled people. the social security administration is supposed to do periodic reviews to see if beneficiaries are still disabled, but there's such a backlog the government relies heavily on the honor system, where recipients report their
own health as better, worse, or the same. the head of social security, michael astrue, wouldn't agree to an interview. instead of explaining how he's fighting fraud, he criticized the g.a.o. last year he told congress that the screening tool that detects when someone's gone back to work generates too much information. >> we can't possibly follow up on the "leads" that would come from that in any... certainly not in my professional lifetime in the agency. >> reporter: still looking for answers, we went to the white house budget office. they wouldn't agree to an interview, either. but they showed us new technology they're trying out to fight fraud at other government agencies. the president's new budget calls for more money to review cases and save hundreds of billions of dollars. due to privacy protections, we haven't been told the ultimate fate of that t.s.a. agent in california, but by the time investigators caught up with her, she'd defrauded taxpayers out of $108,000. all while earning $50,000 a year at her federal job, collecting a
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live report on the grammy awards just after the show. but something is clearly wrong. she's speaking, but not making any sense. earlier today, branson told me exactly what happened. >> we had a very... dare... dare (gibberish) as soon as i opened my mouth i knew "this is not what i'm intending to say and something is wrong." >> it's been exciting out here on the red carpet. >> hill: serene branson's earlier t.v. appearances that night had gone well, but about an hour before her last shot she developed a severe headache and then suddenly struggled to form words. >> immediately i started crying, i was confused. i was afraid. i was embarrassed. i didn't know what had happened. >> hill: the video quickly went viral, prompting concern branson had suffered a stroke. when serene relayed the incident to her mom, however, the symptoms sounded very familiar. >> did your face go numb? did your hand go numb? did your arm go numb? this could be the same thing
that i had, a migraine. >> hill: serene's doctors concluded mom was right. and experts say migraines can be hereditary. >> genetic factors play a major role, and for some rare forms of migraine, we know the specific genes that cause the disorder. >> hill: an estimated 10% of the population suffers from migraines, but women are three times more likely to have them than men, and women in their 30s are most likely to experience them. once a migraine is triggered, an electrical wave travels across the brain. as it activates senses, a migraine sufferer can experience something called aura-- blurred vision, nausea, sensitivity to light and even slurred speech or partial paralysis. >> almost any neurologic symptom can be part of aura. >> reporter: but if the symptoms begin again, serene is ready with a prescription from her doctor. >> i'm a little nervous to go back on air for the first time.
i think i have to get that first one under my belt. but if i had that feeling again i would know immediately, "slow down, stop, this is not a headache, you're not just tired, you can't push through this, this is a migraine." >> hill: for more information, log on to our partner in health news, webmd.com, and search "migraines." in oklahoma, they're fond of the saying "if you don't like the weather, stick around and it will change." well, did it ever. last week on thursday in a town north of tulsa, they had a record low temperature of 31 below zero. then yesterday a record high of 79 degrees. that's a 110-degree swing in one week. coming up next, a cop and a filmmaker team up to search for justice long delayed. delayed. ♪
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>> reporter: he started his career directing music videos, but this award-winning filmmaker long believed he had a higher calling. >> i've always wanted to have a voice. i always wanted to give back to my community and make a difference. >> reporter: in 2004, beauchamp made a difference with his acclaimed documentary, "the untold story of emmett louis till." in 1955, 14-year-old emmett till was kidnapped and beaten to death for supposedly whistling at a white woman in mississippi. >> i grew up in the deep south, i grew up learning about these murders, this is why i take on this task. >> reporter: that work caught the attention of cynthia deedle, then unit chief of the f.b.i.'s civil rights division. what could a filmmaker help you bring to the table to help you do your work? >> he's not an f.b.i. agent in a blue suit. (laughs) he gives a different perspective. he can talk to families. >> you're gonna be next. >> he can talk to a suspect. he can talk to a witness.
>> reporter: beauchamp and deedle's investigative work will be the focus of a new three-part series called "the injustice files" produced by cbs news and starting tonight. beauchamp interviews family members and even confronts potential suspects. were you ever a member of the ku klux klan? >> i'm not going to sit here and answer a whole lot of questions. >> reporter: the series highlights unsolved murder cases across the deep south during the turbulent '60s. decades later, many of the victim's families still grieve. >> i didn't know people were so brutal. i didn't know people were so vicious. >> reporter: deedle says they're investigating about 110 f.b.i. civil rights era cold cases. her job, with beauchamp's help, she says, is to solve them all. >> i don't think that the bureau will ever give up hope. i certainly won't give up hope. i know keith won't give up hope. >> reporter: hope. it's what a cop and a filmmaker
now give families who for too long believed justice delayed was justice denied. byron pitts, cbs news, new york. >> hill: that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. russ mitchell will be here tomorrow. for katie couric, i'm erica hill. thanks for joining us. i'll see you monday morning on the "early show". have a great holiday weekend. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.w you're watching cbs5 eyewitness news. "this broadcast realtime captioned by becky lyon." the price tag for the san bruno explosion just doubled. does that mean you, the pg&e customer, will be picking up the tab? a narcotics cop and a private investigator go before the judge. the unusual admission as to why the officer says he needed the money. take a good look. you know what this man is
pumping into a bay area lake? 18,000 pounds of it? it could make for a very fun weekend. and the rain and snow just keeps coming. good evening, i'm dana king. >> i'm allen martin. the cost of dealing with september's fatal san bruno pipeline disaster has gone up dramatically by hundreds of millions of dollars. what's more, pg&e may ask rate payers to foot some of the bill. len ramirez with how they are crunching the numbers. >> reporter: no one ever expected the bill for the disaster to be cheap but pg&e said it was surprised by how much it is going to cost and surprisingly as well, the rate payers will be the ones footing the bill. you can't put a price tag on the loss of life and human suffering caused by the san bruno pipeline disaster but pg&e's parent company is calculating the financial cost.
>> we also expect to incur substantial legal costs related to the investigation. third party claims. and so forth. >> reporter: the companies' chief financial officer said lawsuits are just the beginning. the cost of safeguarding the system are going to be double previous estimates. >> the nature of the work we will undertake is not clearly known. we do know it is work that must get done. >> reporter: pg&e said it expects to pay between 200 and $300 million this year to pay for pipeline tests and other inspections of its system. plus 220 million for lawsuits last year and another $180 million for losses this year. it adds up to $763 million, a cost the utility spokesman could be passed on to consumers. >> to the extent new policies and mandates come into effect, it will result in an increase of costs. we would seek to recover those costs through the regulatory process just as