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tv   CBS Overnight News  CBS  December 17, 2015 3:07am-4:00am EST

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x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x= homeland security was the focus last night at the republican presidential debate in las vegas. 18 million people watched it on tv, and major garrett was there. >> marco knows what he's saying isn't true. >> reporter: first-term senators marco rubio and ted cruz sparred over congress' decision toned the government's bulk collection and storage of phone records. rubio opposed ending the program, and cruz supported it. >> that tool we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal. >> the old program covered 20% to 30% of phone numbers to search for terrorists. the new program covers nearly 100%. that gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism and he knows that that's the case. >> i don't think national television in front of 15
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discuss classified information. >> reporter: the spat signaled rising tensions between the two as they vie to challenge gop front-runner donald trump. today, cruz rebutted rubio's implication that he revealed classified information. >> what i said last night has been widely reported. it's been saturated in the public sphere. this is another example of the rubio campaign trying to spread misinformation. >> one of the most important things a president has to do is be able to handle both the role as the bully pulpit of the white house, but do so in a way that doesn't compromise our national security. >> reporter: after the debate, we asked trump how he would balance privacy and security. >> i have always come down on the side of security. to me it's the most important. >> reporter: even if it means doing something to encroach on the bill of rights? >> i hate it, i hate the concept of it, but we're dealing with some very, very bad dudes. >> reporter: jeb bush said trump's foreign policy proposals were not serious. >> he's a chaos candidate. and he'd be a chaos president. he would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our
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country safe. >> reporter: rubio did not accuse cruz of releasing classified information. he said he would leave that determination to the senate intelligence committee. scott, the committee said there was nothing to investigate. >> major garrett covering the campaign. major, thanks. tonight, we have a rare look at the battlefield in syria, where u.s. special operations forces are now on the ground fighting isis. the americans are supporting allied militias, including kurdish forces, that our charlie d'agata linked up with near the isis capital city. >> reporter: the thick fog meant the drive to the front line inside syria was slow. we were about 40 miles from raqqah, the headquarters of isis, but their fighters were just a few miles away and no one wanted to make a wrong turn. past deserted villages, we finally reached their line of defense. it wasn't much.
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he was barely into his teens. these are the syrian rebels the u.s. is training and equipping. until a few months ago, this whole area was controlled by isis. gloomy days like these are a nightmare for rebel forces guarding the front lines. isis militants use the fog as cover to launch sneak attacks. they can't see them coming until it's too late to stop them. the group leader told us u.s. warplanes can't see them, either. and while he said he was grateful for american support, he hadn't actually seen any of the u.s. special forces now on the ground. but commander lewland rojava had. we met him at his base camp deep inside syria. what types of things are you discussing? "mainly coordination on the ground," he told us, "weapons and ammunition and who gets them, and they also wanted to see how successful we are in fighting isis on the ground." we also asked villagers what
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inside syria. "if they bring peace and stability" he said," they're welcome." when you found out u.s. troops were coming here, what did you think? 16-year-old omar told us he was simply happy. the commander told us, scott, once u.s. forces see for themselves what they're up against, they'll realize they need things like armored vehicles and heavy weapons, in addition to guns and ammunition. he also said, depending on how things go, maybe america will send even more forces. >> charlie d'agata with a report from america's new battlefield in syria. charlie, thank you. now the u.s. has also sent hundreds of troops to west africa, where islamic militants linked to isis are terrorizing villages in a campaign of murder and kidnapping. the americans are there to support cameroon's army, and debora patta went along.
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counterterrorism soldiers gear up for the day's patrol to the nigerian border. balaclavas provide scant relief against the choking dust. they're searching for boko haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with isis and killed more than 20,000 in the past six years. border towns like kolofata have suffered a string of attacks by suicide bombers recently. boko haram fighters frequently hide weapons and ammunitions in villages. sniffer dogs look for explosives as soldiers go from hut to hut. the belief is boko haram could be in any of these homes and not even children are immune from security checks because in the past few months, the suicide bombs in this area have all been delivered by children. the new face of war. but today, they find nothing. major beltus kwene tells the
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the soldiers' base is just a few miles from the border. and you've been attacked here at this base. >> we underwent a massive attack at this base. >> reporter: kwene told us since boko haram has pledged allegiance to isis, their tactics have changed. their bombs are more sophisticated and deployed with deadly frequency. >> when i see how horrible they can be, i think i will never, ever feel tired to fight against them. >> reporter: now cameroon is getting help from the u.s. military that is setting up its first drone base in africa. here, cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own drones for surveillance. the u.s. base won't be fully
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captain victor guzman-- >> the united states forces is providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to the cameroon forces to take the lead, fight the local threat, and not only is it local, but it's grown to a global threat. >> reporter: the u.s. will have as many as 300 troops on the ground in cameroon by the time it's fully operational. they're also training the soldiers to prevent suicide attacks. it's critically important, scott, just 12 hours after we left kolofata, it was hit by a suicide bomber killing nine people. >> debora patta, remarkable reporting from the heart of africa. debora, thank you. an attempt to save coral reefs creates an underwater wasteland. and preserving movie classics the "cbs overnight news" will be let's get these dayquil liquid gels and go. but these liquid gels are new. mucinex fast max. it's the same difference. this one is max strength and fights mucus. mucinex fast max. the only cold and flu liquid gel
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an attempt to save florida coral is wrecking the reef instead. apparently they didn't think through what sea water does to metal. here's barry petersen. >> reporter: they're off before dawn. diver thomas pennypacker is on a rescue mission off the coast of ft. lauderdale, saving a piece of florida's natural coral reef, from this, a massive 35-acre
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graveyard of old tires. it started as a way to get rid of tires plugging up landfills back in 1970. up to two million tires bundled by metal clips were dumped here to create an artificial reef. the hope was that they would spur coral growth and attract fish, all good for the environment. really good idea? really bad outcome. the clips rusted away. the tires broke free. storms and constant ocean currents keep the tires moving, dragging across and damaging the fragile living reef nearby, says alex delgado, the dive coordinator. >> right now, it's just a wasteland. it's tires everywhere. and now we need to correct it before it does additional damage. >> reporter: down below here is the priority zone, where they had as many as 300,000 tires, but the tires have really spread throughout this area, all the way as far as the beaches of ft. lauderdale.
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>> how you doing down there? >> now, we're in a pretty good spot. >> reporter: surrounded by a seemingly endless mound of tires, pennypacker slings them onto lines to be hauled up by a crane. until he and his team fetch as many as 600 on a good day. it's a race against time. pat quinn is the natural resources specialist for broward county. >> they won't break apart in our lifetime. >> reporter: so if you don't get them out of there, they're just going to be there. >> forever. >> reporter: so far, florida state funding will bring the number of recovered tires to about 160,000. not enough, say experts, to protect a reef 7,000 years in the making. barry petersen, cbs news, off the coast of ft. lauderdale. still ahead, years after his
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setting records.
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see you on the other side, ray. >> nice working with you, dr. venkman. >> bill murray and dan aykroyd in "ghostbusters," one of 20 classic movies added today at the film registry at the library of congress, films preserved due to their cultural importance. the list includes "top gun," "l.a. confidential," and "the shawshank redemption" with tim robbins and morgan freeman. >> i guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. get busy living...or get busy dying. >> fans of michael jackson got busy buying his 1982 masterpiece. today, "thriller" became the first album to go platinum 30 times over. 30 million sold in the u.s., more than a million since jackson died in 2009.
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national zoo. the new baby at the national zoo, a baby panda, made its public debut today, so we sent cub reporter chip reid for a look. >> reporter: getting introduced to the media at four months old is something usually reserved for royalty. well, that's exactly what bei bei is, the prince of cute. millions of panda lovers have watched him grow up on the national zoo's panda-cam, from birth when he was completely helpless to where he is today, which is just mostly helpless. doctors say he's in perfect health and give much of the credit to mom, who endlessly plays with him, carries him over
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floor, and nuzzles him to sleep. brandie smith is in charge of animal care at the zoo. >> right now, he is entirely dependent upon her, so he's not eating any solid food. she's nursing him. that's where he gets all of his nutrients. everything comes from mom right now. >> reporter: today mom, or may shong, spent much of her time outside, leaving bei bei in the media glare with his keeper, juan roddriguez, known to bei bei's adoring fans as the luckiest man in the world. do a lot of people tell you, "i want your job"? >> yeah, yeah. pretty much every day. being able to work with these guys, it just puts a smile on your face. i mean, you just can't get enough of it. >> reporter: the public will get to see bei bei in person starting next month. today, after most of the media throng left, may shong finally returned and those remaining were treated to this-- the soft embrace of a mother's love. chip reid, cbs news, washington. >> and that's the "overnight news" for this thursday. for some of you, the news continues.
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just a little bit later for the morning news and, of course, "cbs this morning." from the broadcast center in new
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this is the "cbs overnight news." >> hi, everyone, and welcome to the "overnight news." public school students in los angeles are back in class after the entire school system was shut down for a day because of a fake terror threat. the high school kids will be wrapping up their finals with the holiday recess start thing weekend. and the threat of a terror strike took center stage in las vegas, as the gop presidential candidates squared off for their final debate of the year. major garrett has the story. >> reporter: the debate was an instant capsule. a primetime event which the specter of terrorism and the nation's fears about it overshadowed every other topic. the leading voices in the opposition party clashed over the details to be sure. in the end, offered an anxious nation a promise, one that could be distilled into one word, or phrase. >> we will keep america safe. >> safe.
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>> safe. >> your safety and securitiy. >> we're talking about security. >> reporter: the competition to be tougher on national security never ended, and jeb bush, running in low single digits, forced his way back into the conversation by repeatedly challenging donald trump. >> this is a tough business -- >> you're a tough guy, jeb. >> and we need to have a leader -- you're never going to be president of the united states by insulting your way. >> let's see, i'm at 43%, you're at 3%. so far i'm doing better. >> reporter: ted cruz and marco rubio clashed over national security and border control. cruz accused rubio for supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, branding it amnesty. >> does ted cruz rule out legalizing people in this country illegally now? >> i've never supported legalization, and i do not intend to support legalization. >> reporter: calling the senator's fights irrelevant, chris christie said his experience as a post 9/11 u.s. attorney and new jersey governor makes him best prepared to be
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commander in chief. >> this is what it's like to be on the floor of the united states senate. i mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin for people that have never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position. >> reporter: after the debate, rand paul said trump's calls to shut down the internet and to target the families of terrorists were radical and ridiculous. >> i think when people discover he wants to get rid of the first amendment to the constitution, they might say, oh, my god. >> reporter: we asked trump what he valued more, security or the bill of rights. >> i've always come down on the side of security. to me it's the most important. >> reporter: even if it means doing something to encroach on the bill of rights? >> i hate it, i hate the concept of it, but we are dealing with some very bad dudes. >> reporter: trump also ended months of speculation about a possible third party candidacy if he doesn't win the gop nomination. >> i am totally committed to the republican party.
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i feel honored to be the front-runner. >> reporter: trump senior advisers said trump had always been clear he would run as a republican, not consider a third party race. trump made the announcement tonight after reviewing polling data nationally. he now sees a clear path to the nomination. the city of flint, michigan is in a state of emergency. high levels of lead were found in the tap water. this week, foam -- fema sent more than 7,000 gallons of bottled water to the city residents. adriana diaz has a report on how this crisis unfolded. >> reporter: when officials tapped into the flint river here for the city's drinking water, the strong chemicals needed to clean the water corroded the pipes, contaminating the water with lead. by the time the city switched back to the original water source, families said the damage was already done. >> when i hear my son give up at night and cry because his bones hurt, and there's nothing i can give him, there's nothing i can do for him to take away his
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helpless. >> reporter: for nearly five months, melissa maze and her family drank the water from their tap, unaware there was lead in it. maze says she noticed a change in her three children. convulsions, skin lesions, memory and hair loss. >> my heartbreaks, because i handed them the water. >> reporter: last month, maze and other residents filed a class action lawsuit, accusing officials of not proper monitoring or sampling the flint river water and delaying and notifying the publish of serious safety and health risks. they called the city's false denials about the safety of the water deadly and arrogant. >> they continually said the water is safe to drink. >> reporter: the water problems started in the spring of 2014 when flint moved its water supply from a source in detroit to the flint river. the switch was supposed to save the city about $15 million a year.
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but the lead levels detected in flint's children under the age of 5 nearly doubled, according to a study by a local medical center. in october, officials declared unfiltered water unsafe to drink. shortly after, flint had to switch back to the original detroit water supply. >> damage from lead is irreversible. we made the switch back to detroit water supply. there was no corrosion control in place. >> reporter: the world health organization declares any lead in the body unsafe. and particularly toxic to young children. severe cases of exposure may cause mental disabilities and behavior difficulties. with irreversible neurological effects. do you feel helpless in this situation? >> i can make nightmares go away
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and i can make speeders go away. i can't fix this and i can't make this go away. >> reporter: the mayor says fixing the city's water system could cost $1 billion. she hopes declaring a state of emergency will unlock state and federal funding, but it's not her call. the cash strapped state and federal government have to approve her request. president obama has been telling people to enjoy the holidays and not to worry about a possible terror attack. experts say fear can have a real effect on your health, and our doctor, jon lapook, got the lowdown from a clinical psychologist, dr. justin sinclair. >> one of the things that is different about this, you know, this threat, is that, again, it's ongoing. people can't know when and where or how it's going to happen. it's this thing that never ends, it's everywhere. >> reporter: how does that affect their lives? >> they tend to avoid different aspects of their lives. they fly less, they ride on public transportation less. they go into public settings less. there's been research that's shown that they have a tendency
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cultural backgrounds less. they even consume media less, ironically. >> reporter: what have you learned over the last ten years of studying this that might surprise people? >> how potent fear can be in terms of altering people's lives. and the impact that it can have in different aspects of life, whether it's making decisions supporting different policies that are important socially, or even down to sort of how people live their everyday lives. >> reporter: is there a danger of people in society changing their behavior because of terrorism? >> yeah, it changes the structure of our country. it changes the structure of our government. fear can maybe even change things in ways that weren't consistent how the country was founded originally. >> reporter: as a psychologist, is there some insight into that? >> i think fear moves people to become much more polarized in their viewpoints, and i think fear motivates people to go to
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be right back. well, the wait is nearly over for "star wars" fans. "the force awakens" opens nationwide tomorrow. it's the first new "star wars" film in a decade and it's got a new director, j.j. abrams. as bill whitaker reports, abrams is under enormous pressure to make sure the movie hits all the right notes. >> reporter: six weeks before the premiere, we dropped in on a hollywood scoring session for "the force awakens." the composer, who won an academy award for the first film, was back. along with the iconic refrain he wrote 38 years ago. take a look behind williams. that's not some awe-struck
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abrams. i saw you up here with your video camera. >> this is momentous. john williams conducting his "star wars" music. as a fan, i can't believe i get to be here. >> reporter: abrams saw "star wars" when he was 11. and he never outgrew his passion for the film. on this day, he was racing around the sound stage. here the fan -- >> it's incredible. >> reporter: there the director. >> we may need to make the -- repeat those bars just because it might be a little longer before we get into the interior of the transport. >> reporter: i see you running around. you're very -- >> really?
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>> yeah. >> reporter: is it intimidating in any way? >> oh, yeah. oh, yeah. [ laughter ] it's moments of just abject terror as to what we're all taking on. >> reporter: what he's taking on is this, "the force awakens." disney is counting on him to expand the universe of "star wars" fans while staying true to george lucas' original vision. and the die hard fans, their expectations are out of this world. >> the force, it's calling to you. >> reporter: when the official trailer was posted online, it was viewed 112 million times in just 24 hours. >> nothing can stand in our way. >> talk about the force. the fans are a force to be reckoned with. it's intense. >> it is.
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>> reporter: it's not just the fans here, this is global. >> it's not the movie. it's bigger than all of us. it's almost a religion for people. >> reporter: what grabbed you about "star wars?" >> the experience of it was so profound and so moving, and so funny and so sweet, that for me, as a kid, it blew my mind, and it was just -- it said anything is possible. >> reporter: abrams has been working on "the force awakens" nonstop for three years. he's managed to keep a tight lid on it. this is one of the few clips disney has released. he told us his movie is set about 30 years after "return of the jedi," the final film in the first trilogy. at the end of that movie, the good guys had vanquished the empire and subdued the dark side. or so it seemed. what has been going on in that galaxy?
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to end happily. but the walkoff to the sunset is always misleading, because then what? so one of the things you see in this movie is things didn't just end happily. and that the idea of the force, the dark and the light side, are at a classic "star wars" place, which is in a desperate moment. >> reporter: a moment which forces a new generation to step up. >> we can't outrun them. >> reporter: stepping into a new lead role, 23-year-old newcomer daisy. her character is rave, a desert scavenger. and john is another new face. he plays a disillusioned storm trooper. >> i've got nothing to fight for. >> reporter: your universe seems to be a more diverse place, by gender, by race. what do you think the impact of that is going to be? >> when we started casting the movie, it felt incredibly important to me that the movie
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look like the world in which this movie is being released. >> reporter: abrams didn't just direct the movie, he wrote it with lawrence casden, who wrote two of the original "star wars" with lucas. he knew from the start he would tell a story that blended the new with the old. taking his cue from the first trilogy, he made authenticity paramount. the sets were built from scratch. the explosions were real. were there times when you stepped back from being the director and you were just the fan on the set? >> it was very hard to be in the 125 degree heat in abu dhabi with actual storm troopers running through this village we had built, and not have moments constantly of "holy, what the -- i can't believe i'm here." it was constantly happening.
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okay, let's do it and put that away, because the job was not to be a wide-eyed fan boy. the job was to be director of the movie. and action. >> reporter: as the director, he managed to cast a crew of almost a thousand. he set limits on computer generated imagery. most of abrams' creatures, like the new droid, bb-8, were crafted by hand, including his own. >> we knew we had to have a hero droid that was not a familiar one. >> reporter: you came up with the concept by sketching it out? >> i drew the dumbest little thing. i just drew something like this. >> reporter: he gave his sketch to the creature department, a group of about 100 artist and designers. they made a puppet. >> the puppeteer came out and i was like, oh, my god, it lives. >> where do you come from? [ robot noises ] >> reporter: we watched as
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first time. >> maybe we could connect them so they're not so separate. >> reporter: so he's going to fit the pantheon of r2-d2. >> reporter: only a handful of people have seen the finished film. one of them is abrams' wife of 19 years, katie. they have three children, a charitable foundation she oversees, and a harry met sally rapport. >> i love the movie, i really love the movie. and i'm sort of picky and i'm a little, you know -- >> be honest. >> i'm honest. at the end of the day, this is a movie. this is not curing cancer or eradicating poverty. this is making a movie, right? right? that's what you believe, right? >> i'm sorry, she lost me after
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>> reporter: jeffrey jacob abrams grew up in hollywood's backyard, not far from the big studios. but when he took a tour of a movie back lot at age 8, he knew he had found his calling. what in particular drew you to it? >> i think the thing that was so cool is it felt like a magic trick. it was every aspect of illusion, of creating something that seemed like it was actually happening and real. >> reporter: he picked up the family's home movie camera and tried his own slight of hand. >> now we seek revenge. >> reporter: he admits his earliest works weren't that good. but he got better. he won a teen film festival and got written up in "the los angeles times." that's him in the middle. the article caught the eye of steven spielberg. he reached out to the young filmmaker who reminded him of himself. >> you can see bill whitaker's full report on cbsnews.com.
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the airline industry has been having trouble finding new pilots. mostly because of the high cost of flight school. another problem -- kids don't know how much fun it can be to fly a plane. but this flight team is on a nation wide tour working to entice new recruits. john blackstone has this report. >> reporter: lifting off in formation, my life was in the
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hands of the pilot. >> it's okay. i had my two coffees in the morning. perfect. >> reporter: flying at speeds up to 565 miles an hour. at times, just ten feet apart, the seven powerful l-39 albatross jets. marshon has flown with the team for 12 years. >> i began flying gliders when i was 15 years old. >> reporter: air shows helped inspire you to fly? >> yeah, i began to attend air shows when i was a kid. >> reporter: with their brand prominently displayed, the company is spreading the word. but the president of the company says there's another mission here. you also want them to discover aviation? >> that's actually probably our number one goal. and when you see these pilots flying those planes at air shows all over the country, you inspire people. >> reporter: and that
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critical. some in the aviation industry are predicting a pilot shortage in america within the next ten years. so recruiting young people to the profession has been paramount. >> we would like aviation to flourish and be a little more popular. >> reporter: it's estimated some 21,000 pilots will be turning 65 and face mandatory retirement from the four major airlines. those jobs are often filled by military flyers or younger regional pilots moving up. but these days, fewer people are pursuing careers in the cockpit. in part, because of the increasing cost of education and flight time. an investment of up to $200,000 to qualify to become a commercial pilot. cbs news aviation and safety expert captain sully sullenberger says what's really needed is raising pilot wages at regional airlines. >> it really doesn't make sense for entry level jobs in aviation
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$20,000 a year or just over $20,000 a year when it requires a lot of training. the major airlines must bear some responsibility for this current situation. >> reporter: what's on display here is the joy of flight. thomas, 17, and his 14-year-old sister cindy have their hearts set on becoming pilots. is this any part of what made you want to fly? >> yes. >> seeing them, maybe that can be me one day up there. >> reporter: and for one show i am part of the jet team, surviving tight turns, and loops. we're all upside down together. discovering that pulling 4 or 5 gs causes the blood in your head to rush south. >> we are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. >> reporter: hoping those extraordinary things makes someone else want to reach for the sky.
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john blackstone, above ventura, california.ng pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 67890 cbs caption test !!! maint. testing pc-17 f1 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 12345 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuv 678 . it's ryan's cell phone. gibbs: isolate calls from psy-ops, government-issued lines. there's five or six different numbers here. cross-reference with incoming calls to banks over the past month.
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when the engines failed on the plane i was flying, i knew what to do to save my passengers. but when my father sank into depression, i didn't know how to help him. when he ultimately shot himself, he left our family devastated. don't let this happen to you. if you or a loved one is suicidal, call the national suicide prevention lifeline. no matter how hopeless or helpless you feel, with the right help, you can get well. (franklin d. roosevelt) the inherent right to work is one of the elemental privileges of a free people. endowed, as our nation is, with abundant physical resources... ...and inspired as it should be to make those resources and opportunities available for the enjoyment of all... ...we approach reemployment with real hope of finding a better answer than we have now. narrator: donate to goodwill where your donations help fund
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the dream of visiting mars could soon become a reality. nasa is planning a manned mission to the red planet sometime in the 2030s, and the space agency has started recruiting youngsters who might want to take the trip. jan crawford reports from the national air and space museum in washington. >> reporter: we're inside a model of the discovery shuttle. where touristks get a foal of what it's like to be an astronaut. if they like it, they may be able to apply. start thing week, nasa is opening up the application process for the next generation of space travel. >> going to mars, the human journey to mars is a renaissance. i think we've captivated not just the u.s., but the world. >> reporter: david newman hopes a record breaking number of qualified americans apply to nasa's astronaut class of 2017.
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astronaut? >> the background is really important. how are they as leaders? how are they on a team? we have a rigorous applicant board. >> reporter: applicants must be a u.s. citizen with a bachelor's degree in engineering or physical science and math. they should also have three years of experience, or 1,000 hours piloting a jet and the physical is another hurdle. is it a combination of highly intellectual but intensely physical? >> and also operational, and how you make decisions and work in teams. you're making critical decisions and if you're in space flight, you're making life and death decisions. >> reporter: there have been 338 nasa astronauts ranging in age from 26 to 46. of the 6300 who applied for the last class, only eight, four men, four women were chosen. that's about a 0.01% chance. pilot and nasa applicant melissa
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>> for a pilot and someone that has a passion for travel in aviation, i can't imagine a better job than being an astronaut. >> reporter: candidates will spend one year training for space walks, undergoing mission simulations and operating robotics, all with the possibility of one day going to mars. >> it will take us about eight months to get there. it's round trip, so just under a couple years round trip and we'll be on the surface of mars for about 500 days searching for evidence of life, of past life. >> reporter: newman says a lot of the applicants grew up dreaming about being an astronaut. they got advanced degrees, they flew jets in the military. if you think you've got the right stuff, nasa is taking applications till february 18th.
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