tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS May 15, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
>> pelley: t a spreading inferno. wildfires tear through southern california. thousands flee as firefighters attack. >> firefighters are right down here now, trying to protect this home. >> pelley: carter evans and ben tracy are there. did veterans die on the waiting list at v.a. hospitals? today, we heard from the man in charge. wyatt andrews reports. rgrenn questions the secretary of defense on the hunt for more than 200 school girls held hostage. >> reporter: you think it's possible to bring them all home? >> pelley: and michelle miller on a tattered symbol of resolve, restored to glory with the threads of american history. >> that's what i want this flag to be, a symbol unbroken. we are whole. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news"
with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. this is our western edition. it is all-out war tonight, and the enemy is fire. firefighters in southern california are battling nine major wildfires burning out of control in and around san diego county. this one in san marcos is their top priority. high temperatures and strong winds are feeding the fires, and steep terrain is making it difficult to contain them. we have two reports tonight. first, carter evans. >> reporter: wind gusts as high as 45 miles per hour pushed the fire up steep hills and into this affluent section of san marcos. the fire burned so hot in some places, it pulled in a rush of cooler air. that circulation created a tornado of fire. at one point, the flames were moving in two different directions. firefighter nick najera.
>> we got winds picking up, change directions. so we always have to be on our feet. >> reporter: wave after wave of helicopters and planes dropped water and flame retardant on the fire.qñ@v commanders allowed operations last night in the hopes it would help them get ahead of the flames. it didn't. smoke from this fire is simply intense. it is enveloping this neighborhood as the fire makes a run up the hillside. firefighters are right down here now, trying to protect this home. the fire, 15 miles west in carlsbad, has subsided enough today for sophie and bob pain to get a look at what's left of their home. do you think there's anything you can salvage? >> not really. it's gone. it's gone. i mean, we only left with the clothes on our backs. it's a total disaster, you know. it's like, is it a nightmare here or what? you know, pinch me or something, you know. and then, i keep looking out there, and everything's singed and everything's gone. >> reporter: in the last 48 hours, the six wildfires burning here in san diego have scorched more than 10,000 acres combined,
and it could be months before investigators know what started them. they say arson is one possibility that they're looking into, but they also say that in this hot, dry weather, a blowing ember in the wind can spark a fire more than a mile away. scene00 homes and businesses received evacuation orders tase. that pringz the total to 45,000 since these fires began. >> pelley: carter, thanks. california has fought 1,400 wildfires so far this year. that is double what they would normally expect. ben tracy now on the firefighters' extraordinary battle. >> reporter: 2,000 firefighters are now on the front lines in san diego county. hundreds had been pre-positioned based on the forecast of high winds and extreme heat. mike mohler is a fire captain with cal fire, the state's fire- fighting agency. it seems like you're not just playing defense anymore. this has really become an offensive game. >> that's exactly what it is. it is an offensive game.
we need to plan ahead. it's not reactive. we're proactive. >> reporter: in the past two weeks, cal fire called up an additional 25 engines and 100 firefighters. they were moved from central and northern california down to southern california. was there a discernible different outcome because of that? >> absolutely. there was still destruction, but we were able to hit it faster and harder. >> reporter: less than three hours after the san marcos blaze broke out, this dc-10 tanker was dropping 12,000 gallons of flame retardant. it had been loaded, fueled, and was waiting on a runway about 100 miles away. 22 military water-dropping helicopters flew in from nearby camp pendleton. the aircraft do not actually put out fires, but they slow down the flames so ground crews can move in and extinguish them. >> we have to be ready for a wildfire anywhere in the state of california 365 days a year. >> reporter: now, the state just hired 300 new firefighters. they started on monday, and many of them are already here fighting these fires. scott, of course, none of this is cheap.
cal fire tells us they expect to spend $240 million this year fighting wildfires. >> pelley: a long season ahead. ben, thanks very much. in another important story tonight, the secretary of veterans affairs, eric shinseki, was asked in congress today whether he will resign after allegations that veterans died while languishing on wait lists at v.a. hospitals. wyatt andrews was in the hearing. >> reporter: the secretary faced dozens of tough questions, but his answers came down to this one-- there are two formal investigations underway, he said, and no one wants the results more than he does. >> any adverse incident like this makes me as... makes mad as hell. i am committed to taking all actions necessary to strengthen veterans' trust in v.a. health care. >> reporter: the v.a. is facing multiple allegations that local officials have covered up reports of veterans waiting months for health care. in phoenix, the delays may have
led to dozens of deaths. cindy bordeaux lost her husband, jerry, an army veteran, to liver cancer last year. after the v.a. first missed his diagnosis, she said, it still took six weeks to get an appointment. >> and my husband's last call to his v.a. doctor was-- and i quote him-- "i just want to know am i going to die today or am i going to die tomorrow?" that was his last call to his v.a. doctor. >> reporter: several senators told secretary shinseki he needed to act sooner. republican senator richard burr laid out a list of seven investigations and one internal memo exposing what were called "gaming strategies" in the appointment system-- inaccurate reporting of clinic wait times, and how patients were suffering unnecessary delays. the secretary said he responded to each report individually. then came this question from republican senator dean heller: >> would you explain to me, after knowing all this information, why you should not resign?
>> i came here to make things better for veterans. this is not a job. i'm here to accomplish a mission that i think they critically deserve and need. we're not done yet. >> reporter: the office of inspector general at the v.a. says that, so far, none of the deaths in phoenix is connected to those long wait times. shinseki told the senators they could expect more action from him within three weeks, but, scott, what we're hearing from senators is frustration that he's not cracking down now. >> pelley: wyatt andrews on capitol hill. wyatt, thank you. today, the death toll in turkey's mine disaster grew to 283, with maybe 100 more still missing. the miners were trapped tuesday by an explosion and fire. protesters blamed the government for poor safety, and police blasted them today with water cannons. in soma, they began to bury the dead, and holly williams is there.
>> reporter: fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons-- they all lost their lives to turkey's worst-ever mining accident. this small town is stricken by its grief. some here seem unable to bear the anguish of their loss. but with more than 100 miners still unaccounted for and little hope they'll be found alive, they're already preparing for more funerals. we still don't know what the final death toll will be here in soma. every new body discovered in the mine means another fresh grave and another devastated family. at the mouth of the mine, sevim goskun told us her son, ishmael, is one of those trapped underground. "i haven't slept for three days," she said. "the mine company told me he's dead, but i want to see his body."
and now, turkey's agony has turned to anger. many here accuse their government of being too lax on safety standards and are demanding better working conditions in the country's mines. after visiting soma yesterday, the turkish prime minister, tayyip erdogan, was heckled by an irate crowd who called him a murderer and a thief before he was driven off. and these photos, which show one of the prime minister's aides kicking a protester during the same episode, have sparked outrage in turkey. the government has promised a full investigation into what caused this disaster, but that won't bring back the men they're grieving in soma. this accident and its aftermath have sparked protests in several turkish cities, and, scott, the government here has responded by using water cannons to try to
force the demonstrators off the street. >> pelley: holly williams covering in western turkey for us tonight. holly, thank you. it's been more than a month since islamic terrorists kidnapped more than 200 school girls in nigeria. tomorrow, nigeria's president will make his first visit to chibok, the scene of the crime. the girls haven't been seen since this hostage video. u.s. spy planes have joined the search, and the pentagon has sent advisers to nigeria. today, at an israeli military base, margaret brennan asked defense secretary chuck hagel if u.s. special forces might be used in a rescue. >> we just don't know enough yet to be able to assess what we will recommend to the nigerians, where they need to go, what they need to do to get those girls back. so i don't think we're at that stage yet. >> reporter: but in that next stage, that search-and-rescue, and the u.s. has raised so many questions about the nigerian military's record-- are they
even capable of hostage rescue? >> well, that's an open question. and this is nigeria. this is a sovereign nation. this is their country. we had to wait to be invited in. so we've got to work with the nigerian government, with the nigerian military. we'll do everything we can to help the nigerian military and their capabilities and in their efforts. >> reporter: you think it's possible to bring them all home? >> we're going to try. that's the objective is to get all of them. you start out that way, and i think that's the way we've got to look at it, and that's the way we have to stay committed. >> pelley: defense officials also told margaret today that the girls may be held in small groups in neighboring countries. in new york today, president obama helped open the new national september 11 memorial museum, saying that it will be a sacred place of healing and hope.
here's don dahler. >> ♪ there's a place for us... ♪ >> reporter: this is a place built to symbolize renewal and present the historical record of what happened here 13 years ago. president obama toured the museum before the ceremony began. >> like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us. >> where? >> oh! >> reporter: the images and sounds and raw memories were almost too much for some in the audience to bear. >> you can be so proud of your daughter. >> look at all these faces. >> reporter: some of those tears came during videos, such as this one, featuring the widow of port authority officer uhuru houston, talking to their son. >> this was a couple of weeks before 9/11 actually happened, so this is our last family picture. that's you. that's your smile.
you act just like him. >> reporter: charles g. wolf toured the museum for the first time today. his wife, katherine's, remains have never been found. >> unless you have a heart of stone... you will shed tears. unless you have a heart of stone, you will shed tears. >> those we lost live on in us, in the families who love them still, in the friends who remember them always, and in a nation that will honor them now and forever. >> reporter: a thought echoed by this quote on one of the museum walls. "no day shall erase you from the memory of time." don dahler, cbs news, new york. >> pelley: the museum will be home to this american flag. there is quite a story behind it, when the cbs evening news
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brakes, and airbags. >> reporter: at latest 13 deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to g.m.'s ignition switch recall that began february 10. since then, there have been a string of other fixes announced. the biggest today is for faulty wiring-- chevy malibus, pontiac g-6s, and saturn auras, which could keep brake lights from working properly. 13 crashes are linked, but no deaths. g.m. has now recalled 11.2 million vehicles in the u.s. this year. more than ten times as many as they recalled all of last year. joe weisenfelder is executive editor of cars.com. >> the numbers are extraordinary, and they suggest two things-- it's possible that g.m. was not doing as much recalling as it should have, and that certainly seems to be the case with the ignition switches. and they are probably also doing more recalling now, both because of perhaps a backlog, and also because they're trying to be proactive now. >> reporter: while g.m. has the highest number of recalls this
year by far, more than 90 different manufacturers have recalled a total of 17.3 million vehicles in the u.s. this year. that's on pace to break the record number of more than 37 million vehicles recalled in 2000. >> any manufacturer should be looking at this and saying they can invest now or pay later. the problem with paying later is, damage is done. it's bad p.r. you've got unhappy customers. >> reporter: g.m. says its recalls are a result of them redoubling efforts to resolve current issues. so far this year, recalls have cost the company $1.3 billion. scott, they say today's actions will cost them an extra $200 million. >> pelley: jeff, thanks very much. the biggest storm in the solar system may be letting up. a mystery on jupiter next. a mystery on jupiter next. honestly, the off-season isn't really off for me.
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>> the cleanup continues in los angeles after a faulty valve caused an oil pipeline to burst overnight. oil gushed under 45 minutes. 10,000 gallons of crude oil covered a a half-mile section of an industrial area. several businesses were evacuated but the fire department tells us it doesn't seem like any of it got into the l.a. river. there's a mystery on jupiter. today, astronomers said that the
planet's great red spot is shrinking. no one's sure why. the spot is a giant storm on jupiter's surface, 10,000 miles across. 100 years ago, it was twice as big. photos show it narrowing from 1995 to 2009 to 2014. at this rate, the spot could disappear within 17 years. rare film surfaced today of president franklin roosevelt walking. as you know, his legs were paralyzed by polio, though he did his best to conceal that from the public. in the film, never before seen, f.d.r. walks up a ramp to his seat at the 1937 all-star game. the president, wearing leg braces, had taught himself to maneuver his hips and swing his legs while holding on to the arm of an aide. the film was taken by one of the ballplayers, and it was just donated by his family to a museum. this flag is headed to a museum
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now, as michelle miller tells us, a flag at the scene of another attack on america is inspiring a new wave of patriotism across the land of the free and the home of the brave. >> reporter: the stars and stripes stood as a symbol in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. crews working on the cleanup at ground zero flew an american flag on a burned out building adjacent to the twin towers. by the time they took it down, it was tattered and torn. >> the souls of all the people who died that day are in the ash that settled in the fabric of the flag. >> reporter: jeff parness is now the flag's caretaker. he started "new york says thank you," which pays forward the worldwide outpouring of generosity new yorkers received after 9/11. in 2008, parness decided to share the battered flag with the community of greensburg, kansas. volunteers were helping victims dig out from a devastating tornado. sandra jungemann was one of the
first to see the flag. >> it just seemed like it was almost hopeless because there were so many holes and so many pieces of the flag missing. >> reporter: like modern day betsy rosses, jungemann and her friends used flags that survived the tornado as patches to repair the stars and stripes. parness then brought the flag to a 9/11 dedication at the uss "new york," where he met elsie cintron-rosado. her daughter, maria ramirez, died on 9/11 in the building where the flag once waved. >> a flag is something powerful, something tangible, something i said, "okay, i could touch." >> reporter: parness asked her to place a stitch in the flag, and so began a journey that would take it to all 50 states. it was sewn by school children, veterans, survivors of columbine. it has a piece of a flag that flew over martin luther king's grave site, threads from the flag that draped abraham lincoln's body. >> this has never been done before, where so many artifacts
of historical significance have been brought together and created what has become the modern day star spangled banner. >> reporter: more than 30,000 people have restored the national 9/11 flag to its old glory. >> and that's what i want this flag to be, a symbol unbroken, we are new. we are whole. >> reporter: a tapestry of american humanity that continues to mend a nation. michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> pelley: long may it wave. and 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
your realtime captioner is linda macdonald. now at 6:00, the stowaway survivor raising serious concerns at our airports. tonight, what could be a high- tech solution to preventing another security scare. good evening, i'm ken bastida. >> i'm elizabeth cook. tonight we can share with you new technology designed to dramatically improve airport security. kpix 5 reporter ryan takeo tells us one answer could be from a bay area startup run out of owner's garage. >> reporter: we're right outside the garage. we'll show you the g pack system. it connects sensors and gives you realtime alerts. i tripped the motion sensor and it turned on that camera. alex will pan over to. we're also smoke you a live
stream. it's on a three-second delay. but the system does more than this automatically. the owner says having the layered security would have stopped the stowaway. >> if my system was up there in san jose, that teen would be exposed. >> reporter: that teen exposed major security flaws. the airport perimeter wall is eight feet tall and eight square miles a lot of ground covered and not watched closely. the airport never knew anything was wrong until the teen jumped out in hawaii. >> these security systems are for after the fact. what you really want is a system like this. >> reporter: he owns the system that connects camera, lasers and motion detectors into a network. he says his sensors were placed outside the mineta san jose fence it would have alerted airport security. he runs the company out