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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  August 30, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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he comes to work. why is that? we are going to have that and more at 6:00. >> got to figure that out. >> he has the right recipe. >> a burger the other week and -- nice. i'm hungry. >> i know. >> grilled cheese perfect for labor day. >> see you at 6:00. "cbs evening news with scott pelley" is next. >> caption colorado, llc comments@captioncolorado.com >> pelley: tonight, floodwaters show no mercy. the remnants of irene leave entire towns stranded. homeowners see everything they had washed away. >> you can sit down and cry about it or you can just, you know, hold your chin up and move forward. >> pelley: top-ranking law enforcement officials resign after a botched sting operation exposed by cbs news correspondent sharyl attkisson. home prices are falling. so why is to one buying? chip reid got some answers. and bob orr has turned up pictures that few have ever
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seen. images of the desperate search for survivors in the days after 9/11. >> this opens up into a large space. we may want to take a look! captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. imagine waking up to find yourself stranded on an island with no way off. that is, in effect, what's happened in vermont where floodwaters brought by irene have left 13 towns cut off from the rest of the world. and their water treatment plants have failed. 13 towns where people have no water and no escape. elsewhere in the storm zone, 2.8 million homes and businesses in 13 states and the district of columbia still have no electricity. the death toll so far this evening is 44. and have a look at this.
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this is patterson, new jersey. patterson is a city of 146,000 west of new york. nearly a thousand people were rescued there today by water craft as the passaic river keeps on rising. it's not expected to crest until this evening. we have two reports tonight beginning with wyatt andrews in brattleboro, vermont. >> reporter: as impressive as the damage has been here in vermont, today the response got more impressive. 500 road crews got very quickly to work and emergency teams combed these hillsides in all terrain vehicles looking for residents who had been stranded. >> reporter: in the town of jamaica, catherine hatinguais and suzanna maggi were rescued after the road and two bridges that led to their hillside home washed out. you would have had to walk? >> yes.
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>> exactly. >> reporter: for all supplies? >> yes. and it was not walkable. the bridges there are gone. >> reporter: there's only one road into jamaica now. the road leading out of town sits at the bottom of the ball mountain creek. the creek rose so violently on sunday it destroyed six houses, including what's left of david kaneshiro's home. the creek moved over and took out your house? >> took out everything, the front porch and the front house. >> reporter: at least 260 roads in vermont now look like something like this: washed out from the side or sliced in two. to give you an idea of the scale of work involved just in jamaica, vermont, i'm standing where a row of houses used to be. this is an emergency road they built in eight hours and that creek-- the ball mountain creek- - engineers plan to move that. the man redirecting the creek is emergency management director paul fraser. fair to say you are moving this creek from there to there?
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>> i like the word returning it to where it came from, yeah. >> reporter: returning it to where it came from? >> that's right. >> reporter: this immediate all- out effort is what residents call the vermont way. in jamaica, they moved quickly, properly asked permission to move the river, they just didn't wait for an answer. >> reporter: you didn't ask permission? >> we'll apologize later. this had to be done. >> reporter: another homeowner we spoke to who lost his back deck and his barn simply shrugged it off saying "that's mother nature, this is vermont, we roll with it." >> pelley: thanks, wyatt. a moment ago we showed you aerials of patterson, new jersey. michelle miller has been on the ground there all day long. >> reporter: there have been rescues here all day long and that's because no one expected the water to rise as fast as it did. the banks of the passaic river are about a half mile back, well beyond that auto parts store there. this is the worst flooding in this part of new jersey since
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1903. here in patterson, new jersey, the passaic river has turned the streets of this working-class city into canals. this family waited out on their own when water filled their basement and kept rising. they snapped this photo of their home before they left. they came to this relief center looking for baby supplies for six-month-old maya. >> we lost everything. we lost everything. >> reporter: everything? >> yeah. that's why we came here. >> reporter: so you walked out without... everything you have on? >> yeah. that's all what i have right now. >> reporter: sean mix says search-and-rescue teams have been crisscrossing the town all day. people here are used to flooding, but nothing like this. >> this is record tide right now and it's at record levels and they're used to walking out their front door and now it's just too deep. >> reporter: that's hat happened to this woman named emily and her two children. she was grateful for a ride out
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of her flooded neighborhood. >> it scared me. reality really hit me in my face. >> reporter: you see this white line here? that's where the water stood when the river... or actually the waters crested about 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. it's gone down about a foot since then, but won't completely retreat to its banks until the end of this week. >> pelley: thank you, michelle. we just had to check back on one of yesterday's most interesting pictures. remember the two national guard trucks that rolled into and under the floodwaters in new jersey? the soldiers escaped, we checked with the guard today and they told us that the trucks have been recovered. a guard spokesman told us that the soldiers involved were apparently "overcome by confidence." there has been a big development today in a cbs news investigation. the nation's top law enforcement official in charge of gun crimes resigned. other officials have been reassigned. they were in charge when a federal investigation into gun
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trafficking went very wrong. sharyl attkisson first broke this story last spring. >> reporter: in the end, it was impossible for a.t.f.'s stop man kenneth melson to distance himself from the fast and furious scandal which allegedly allowed thousands of high- powered assault weapons to fall into the hands of mexican drug cartels. internal e-mails showed melson was routinely informed of the operation in his phoenix division. he even went online to watch surveillance cameras of the case. two other top officials are also out. u.s. attorney for arizona dennis burke who oversaw prosecution of the case and burke's top deputy in phoenix, emory hurley, who's been reassigned. the key changes by the justice department are an answer to months of criticism and congressional hearings that started after a cbs news investigation. some of the sharpest criticism came from insiders like it a.t.f. special agent john dodson. you were intentionally letting guns go to mexico? >> yes, ma'am.
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i mean, the agency was. >> reporter: dodson went public at a time when his superiors were denying they ever let guns on the street. >> i have boots on the ground here in phoenix. they tell me, we've been doing it everyday since i've been here. >> reporter: dodson led a parade of whistle-blowers who told congress a.t.f. pursued a policy that let guns walk into criminal hands. the idea was to get to the kingpins of mexican drug cartels. instead, the guns have shown up at a dozen violent crime scenes in the u.s., including the murder of border patrol agent brian terry last december. and administration sources tell cbs news "nobody is naive enough to think these changes end the controversy but the department of justice does believe a.t.f. has been bogged down because of mistakes made over the past couple of months and desperately needed fresh air and a new start. >> pelley: thank you, sharyl. there are new numbers out today on home prices. they rose 3.6% in the second quarter of this year compared to the first, but they are still 5.9% lower than a year ago.
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and here's what's so puzzling: despite lower prices, homes are not selling. we asked chip reid to find out why. >> this is one of our two bedroom bungalows. >> reporter: in south end, indiana, real estate agent peggy north can hardly believe this house hasn't sold for. $51,000, about $10,000 less than it sold for eight years ago. >> in 21 years i have never seen this market. >> reporter: overall, home prices in south bend are down 10% from a year ago and sales are down 17%. nationally, it's the same story. home prices are down to 2003 levels but sales are on track to be the lowest in 14 years. which raises the question: with mortgage rates at 50 year lows and home prices so low, why aren't people buying? one reason is that after the housing bubble burst, banks put in place stringent new standards for getting a loan. in 2007, the average credit
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score for a home buyer obtaining a federal housing administration loan was 630. today it's 700-- higher than the national average of 692. lawrence yuan is with the national association of realtors. >> i believe there are about 750,000 to up to one million people who could potentially enter the market, yet because of the overly stringent underwriting standards, that they are being denied a mortgage. >> reporter: but economist karen dynan says fear also plays a big role. >> they don't want to take on mortgage commitments and then end up not being able to meet those commitments and not being able to sustain homeownership. >> reporter: but for those willing to take the risk... this is your dream house? >> definitely. >> reporter: ...this can be a good time to buy. marlando ruhle bought his dream house in silver-spring maryland for $284,000 after the price dropped from $346,000. he admits loan approval isn't as simple as it was ten years ago, the last time he bought a house.
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>> the process took about a month and a half to close on this house. >> reporter: last time? >> last time it took probably about a week. ( laughs ) >> reporter: washington, d.c. is one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation, but, scott, even here houses with these out front have been on the market for an average of 126 days. >> pelley: chip, thanks very much. chip tells us that high unemployment is another reason that homes aren't selling. it is also a big reason that, according to a survey out today, consumer confidence in the economy has fallen to the lowest level since the great recession. next week, president obama will announce a new plan to put americans back to work. chief white house correspondent norah o'donnell tells us how that plan is coming along. >> reporter: scott, the president says his number-one priority is jobs and the economy. but just days before he is set to deliver this major speech, advisors admit that the plan is still not finalized. now, president obama has said
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that he's going to lay out a series of steps that congress can take immediately and that his plan will include some bipartisan ideas. but, remember that the republican ruled house of representatives has so far been unwilling to work with the president on his past job initiatives. now i talked to a number of officials today who say that the president's new plan is going to include a mix of both old and new proposals. including a major school project to refurbish and renovate schools at a cost of up to $50 billion. an extension of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits cost $175 billion. and new incentives for businesses to grow their work force with up to $5,000 per person tax credits for each new hire. this is a plan that some economists think could add hundreds of thousands of jobs. the cost, about $30 billion. i should also note that the president is getting a lot of pressure from liberals in his
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own party who want him to go big with billions of dollars in additional stimulus. that is not likely. instead, scott, a senior advisor tells me tonight that the president's new plan on jobs will be paid for with additional deficit reduction. >> pelley: norah, thank you very much. a libyan soldier tells a story of qaddafi's last minutes in power and how he escaped. remembering delta blues man "honeyboy" edwards. and rare new video of 9/11 when the cbs news continues.
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>> pelley: there may be an important clue today in the hunt for ousted libyan dictator moammar qaddafi. the rebels have captured a soldier who says he saw qaddafi say good-bye to his family. barry petersen is our man in libya. >> reporter: it was friday and libyan government soldiers commanded by qaddafi's son khamis had retreated to this base in tripoli where qaddafi's last frantic moments in power may have played out. 17-year-old soldier abu salim's job was protected by khamis while traveling in convoys. now a prisoner, abu salim says he was just yards away from khamis when a dictatorship ended. about 1:30 in the afternoon, an
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ordinary car pulls up, nothing fancy that would attract attention. inside: moammar qaddafi joined shortly after by his heavily pregnant daughter aisha. "qaddafi" said abu salim "looked calm." >> reporter: during a 15 minute meeting qaddafi hands over the army to khamis, then there's an intense family farewell. a sister to her brother, a father to his son. from here, qaddafi with his daughter at his side became a deposed tyrant on the run. they left the compound in a group of suvs while the fighting was still going on and headed south. abu salim's commander told him qaddafi was headed for sabha where he can use strong tribal ties and the vast desert for protection. it is a familiar hideout for him. it's where he fled after the u.s. bombing in 1986. on saturday, abu salim said he held the door open as khamis got into an armored car. minutes later it was blown apart by an apparent missile strike and based on the young soldier's
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information rebels announced that khamis was dead. if qaddafi is holed up in sabha it will be hard for the rebels to get him but be he's a master of disinformation, likely to say he's going in one direction then heading off another to elude the rebels out to capture or kill him. >> pelley: thank you, barry. blues great david "honeyboy" edwards has died at his home in chicago. ♪ i'm a country man, i'm a country man ♪ lord, i just don't know right from wrong ♪ >> pelley: edwards was believed to be the last of the original delta bluesmen. he played guitar and sang with nearly all of the legends. edwards, who was 96 years old, was fond of saying "the world don't owe me nothing." we might just disagree. president obama explains to veterans why he changed a long- standing policy on presidential condolence letters. that story when we come back.
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>> pelley: the united states has been at war if afghanistan for nearly a decade and this month has become the deadliest yet. at least 67 americans died in august. in all, more than 1,700 u.s. troops have died in the afghan war. president obama sends condolence letters to the families of fallen troops. until last month, that did not include the families of service
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members who take their own lives. but after our elaine quijano reported on the case of army specialist chance keisling who committed suicide during his second tour in iraq, the president changed the policy. today at the american legion convention in minneapolis, he explained his decision. >> these americans did not die because they were weak. they were warriors. they deserve our respect. every man and woman in uniform, every veteran needs to know that your nation will be there to help you stay strong. it's the right thing to do. >> pelley: the president told the legionnaires it is time to remove the stigma attached to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. when there is a disaster, fema photographers routinely document the scene. but 9/11 was anything but routine. you will see their extraordinary video for the first time next.
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opera is now bringing his story to life. next on cbs 5 one man's >> pelley: as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, you'll no doubt be seeing familiar images. but tonight some pictures you probably haven't seen. bob orr tells us they were captured by photographers for fema. they had exclusive access to ground zero and spent eight
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months documenting the scene-- beginning with the desperate search for survivors. >> i need a bucket line! >> reporter: as firefighters dug through the debris and cadaver dogs were ferried on zip lines in and out of narrow pockets inside the wreckage, this first cut of history was recorded. on the surface, searchers faced a seemingly insurmountable task: picking through 1.5 million tons of twisted steel and broken concrete. but an equally daunting challenge loomed below. the six stories beneath the collapsed twin towers were pitch black. guided by periodic shafts of light, this rescue team from miami carefully tracked subway lines looking for people who might have taken refuge when the twin towers were hit. a group of fellow searchers from washington state inches towards
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another possible shelter. >> we're in office depot over here! this opens up into a large space. we may want to take a look! >> reporter: while some stairwells remained accessible, many pathways and escalators were cut off by immovable rubble. often, rescue crews had to travel along pipes and then squeeze through narrow conduits. the subterranean search turned up no miracles, no survivors. but there were so many strange, even haunting discoveries. newspapers were found untouched on their stands. trumpeting the big stories from the morning of september 11. an arrest in a bank heist topped the "new york daily news." an election story headlined the "new york post." searchers also found dusty merchandise stacked on store shelves right where it was when the clerks ran to safety. and at least one subway train was found crushed in the cave-
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in, along with parked cars that had been tossed around their underground garage. and then there were the clocks, frozen just before 10:00 a.m. back above ground, the fema cameras captured more memorable scenes. a rescue dog fitted with a camera on its collar. a crushed fire truck someone identified by writing e-34, for engine 34. flags planted amid the wreckage and small pieces from the first jet liner to hit the twin towers. this section of windows came from american airlines flight 11. but perhaps the most defining image was the panorama of destruction and the last skeletal remains of the world trade center being brought down. bob orr, cbs news, washington. >> pelley: the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is just 12 days away.
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that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org after the san bruno blast: now your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. to. it was compounded over the years by a litany of failures. >> almost a year after the san bruno blast, now we know the cause and why pg&e's pipeline was doomed from the start. >> do you feel safer here? >> yeah, a lot safer. >> criminals taking advantage of fewer officers. now some local police

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