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tv   ABC World News With Diane Sawyer  ABC  October 26, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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this is "world news." tonight, the pact. the biggest ponzi scheme in american history. and tonight, ruth madoff says she and her husband bernie were looking for a way out and tried to take their own lives. showdown. police unleash tear gas on the demonstrators taking to the streets to protest the wealth gap in america. saving students. will the president's new plan help college grads drowning under those crushing loans? the doctor's defense. michael jackson's doctor breaks down as his friend and former patients plead his innocence. and the secrets of smiling. can we tell you something that might make you happier, right now, tonight?
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good evening. it was the crime that shattered so many lives, robbed people of their life savings and turned bernie madoff into one of the most reviled names in america. and late today, we learned bernie madoff's wife, ruth, says she and her husband were so crushed by the scandal, they tried to take their own lives. it's a statement that's provoked a turbulent reaction from those who know a lot about the biggest ponzi scheme in american history. and abc's chief investigative correspondent brian ross has been on this story from the very beginning, he wrote the book on the madoffs, and he begins our news cast tonight. >> reporter: according to her interview, ruth and bernie madoff tried to kill themselves on christmas eve, in this new york city penthouse apartment. it was just two weeks after madoff had been arrested and his thousands of victims realized he had cheated them out of billions of dollars. he and she both faced death threats and hate mail. according to cbs news, ruth
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madoff told "60 minutes," i don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves, because it was so horrendous what was happening. i said, i just can't go on anymore. ruth and bernie had been married 50 years. and she told cbs they decided together to swallow pills. "i to "i took what we had." but it was not enough. i am glad we woke up, ruth told cbs. but her account of the christmas eve suicide is questioned by the head of the private security firm hired to guard them, who was inside the apartment that night until about 7:00 p.m. >> sitting there with them, talkital talking, i didn't see unusual. >> reporter: nothing that would suggest they were about to take pills and kill themselves? >> that's correct. >> reporter: it was last year that madoff's eldest son mark did take his life, hanging himself in his new york
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apartment on the second anniversary of his father's arrest. mark's wife stephanie told abc's chris cuomo that mark felt ruth was wrong to stand by bernie after the arrest. >> he could not understand how she could stand by this man, how she could stand by a monster. he was very conflicted over that. >> reporter: ruth went into hiding in florida after madoff went to prison, even dying her hair red in an effort to avoid being recognized. ruth has been allowed by federal authorities to keep more than $2 million and now lives in boca raton, florida. she's denied knowing anything about her husband's massive scheme, saying her own friends and even her own sister were among the victims, diane. >> thank you brian, so much, for reporting in tonight. and we turn now to that showdown, protesters and police clashing in oakland, california, overnight. tear gas, chaos in the streets. both sides bracing for another round tonight. and here's abc's abbie boudreau.
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>> reporter: oakland's city center was empty today. just hours after police were battling with protesters, who are still threatening to regroup tonight. >> you must leave now. >> reporter: last night erupted, when police wearing full riot gear moved in using rounds of tear gas to break up crowds. this protester overwhelmed by the smoke. police arrested 100 of the 1,000 protesters, including this young woman who was tossed to the ground and cuffed on the spot. the protesters fighting back and refusing to budge. >> they show tear gas into the crowd. flash bangs. >> reporter: one of those injured, a marine, and two-time iraq war veteran, who sustained a skull fracture after being hit in the head. police say it was all in self-defense. >> we were in a position where we had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd, people from
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pelting us with bottles and rocks. >> reporter: the situation escalated quickly after police tore down a tent city outside city hall. oakland officials say that after nearly three weeks of protesting, the site was dangerous an unsanitary a recent poll shows less than half of americans support the protesters, who largely believe money and wealth should be more evenly distributed. but does last night mark a turning point? weeks after new york police stopped short of clearing out the epicenter of the protest, atlanta cracked down last night, too. police on horseback, s.w.a.t. teams in riot gear, 50 protesters arrested, some dragged out in plastic handcuffs. the campsite, cleared within hours. but just across the bay bridge, occupy san francisco shows no signs of slowing down. many of the protesters here tell us they are not afraid of the police and will do whatever they have to do to protect themselves, even if it means repeating a scene like last
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night. diane? >> okay, abbie, thank you. one of the things inflaming the protesters, a lot of other people in this country, as well, student loans. today, we learned that tuition and fees at public colleges have just this year increased more than 8%, just this year. and that's twice the rate of inflation. at private colleges, 4%. and so many of you have been writing us about the mountain of debt that you have acquired, just to get a college education. so steep, you've said you can't breathe. and one mother pointed out that it will take her until 2031 to pay off her college loan, just as her toddler starts college in 2032. and tonight, abc's david muir tells us about a new plan announced by the president and whether it will help. >> reporter: drowning in debt and so many middle class parents once again providing that roof over their heads. new numbers tonight show that in the last decade alone, with
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skyrocketing tuition costs, the amount of undergraduate borrowing has increased by 57%. two-thirds of graduates now owe an average of $28,000 when they leave. and many owe far more. today, president obama signaled he knows that. now fast-tracking a move by congress to allow borrowers to adjust their monthly payments based on what they earn. paying no more than 10% of their discretionary income, that money left over after shelter and food on those college loans. the president speaking of his and the first lady's own college debt, paid off just a few years before he was president. >> so by the time we both graduated from law school, we had between us about $120,000 worth of debt. you know, we combined and got poorer together. >> reporter: say a teacher making $30,000 a year who opens $60,000 in federal loans. his or her monthly payment would be reduced by more than $500.
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from $690 a month to $113 a month. but what about some of the students who reached out to us with those three worlds? one saying "high monthly payment." the other, "going nowhere fast." >> this is my room. >> reporter: ashley meyer in dallas, back in her childhood bed, one of the 6 million who have moved back home. she has four student loans and owing nearly $70,000. the president's new numbers don't help her. they only apply to borrowers starting next year. and there's something else. of ashley's four student loans, three are private loans, also very common. and the president's plan does nothing to rang in the rates on those loans. >> they're underregulated and very risky, particularly the variable rate loans which like so sub-prime mortgages can spike in cost at a moments notice. >> reporter: and millions of students hold those my vat leans, too. this private generation just starting out, deep in debt. and with few jobs available to pay for that education. >> as this downturn continues, you are seeing the potential of
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an economically lost generation. young people who are taking years to get on the escalator to move into stable employment. >> reporter: now, those private college loans, so many experts say, are the next shoe to drop for parents and students who took them out. you heard them compared to sub-prime mortgages, only they are worse. you can't walk away. and diane, you heard the president talking about consolidating federal loans to bring the interest rate down. we learned today that you can do that already and many students and parents out there don't know they can do that with their children. so, we put tips online to get them going right away. >> those are staggering things people are writing us and writing you in particular, david. thank you. and in a related issue, we had confirmation today of the huge gap in this country between the middle class and the richest people. the 1%, the richest americans, have seen their income grow, a staggering 275%, in the past 30 years. the middle class, lagging behind. and lower income people lagging
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even more, raising questions about how you strengthen america's middle class. and abc's john berman explores it. >> reporter: over the last 30 years, the richest of the rich have been rifding a rocket ship. everyone else is on a slow climb uphill. the top 1% seeing their incomes shoot up more than six times the rate of the middle class. in minnesota, bonnie and declan cannon, a meteorologist and a school volunteer, say they may have to rely on their kids in retirement. >> we toed the line, we did all the right things, followed the guidelines and we're in this position because of nothing we ourselves did. >> reporter: the cbo study says this income gap is partially the result of big-time salaries and bow numss rising since 1979 and taxes on the rich falling. the economic result? if you think of america's total income as one giant pie, the richest 1% have seen the size of their piece double over the last 30 years. and everyone else?
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their piece gets smaller. but the social result might be bigger. >> first question that comes to my mind is, are we all still in the same boat together? >> reporter: the middle class, for so long, the great engine of our economy, seems to be gasping. over the last two decades, the cost of health insurance, up more than 150%. the cost of housing, up 56%. the cost of a college education, up 43%. no wonder 94% of america's middle class no longer believes they can get ahead. >> what they're frustrated about is that they think that the rich and the wealthy are playing by an entirely different set of rules. >> reporter: while they balance checkbooks, they see banks get bailouts and ceos pocket multi-million dollar bonuses. starbucks ceo howard schultz is trying to show we're all climbing this hill together, providing small loans to small businesses that prove they will hire. >> i think it's about americans helping americans to bring back the self-esteem of those
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individuals who have been left behind. >> reporter: now starbucks is putting $5 million of its own money into this effort and starting next tuesday, they'll be selling wristbands in stores for $5 apiece, that money going to help create jobs and schultz says creating self-esteem, diane. >> john, thank you. and we want everyone at home to keep writing us, as well as our partners, yahoo! we're listening now at abcnews.com. we want your thoughts about this. and moving across the country tonight, residents of one american city have a kind of weather whiplash. 48 hours after record-breaking heat, denver was walloped by six inches of snow. abc's clayton sandell givens us a quick tour. >> reporter: good evening, diane. if you can believe it, it was 80 degrees only two dames ago here, and now look. the snow has been falling since midnight and it is still coming down. many of the trees here have still not lost their leaves. so, when all of this wet, heavy snow comes down, it collects on
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the branches, it is too heavy and the branches snap off. now, the problem is, when they come down, often times they are coming down on power lines and the local power company items us across the region, at least 100,000 people are without electricity. they brought in crews from all over the country to try to fix the damage, but it could be a day or two before that happens. diane? >> it is tough, as we said, a whiplash, one day to the next. and still ahead on "world news," a dramatic day in the trial of michael jackson's doctor. why was he moved to tears? and the best route to happiness. is there something simple you can do? woman: day care can be expensive. so to save some money, i found one that uses robots instead of real people. 'cuz robots work for free. robot 1: robot 1: sfx: modem dial-up noise woman: are there flaws? eah, um, maybe.
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tears. abc's jim avila is in los angeles. >> reporter: she came to court on a mission. her best red satin blazer, every hair in place, chanel-styled handbag in one hand and cane in the other. 82-year-old ruby moseley, character witness, friend and patient of dr. conrad murray, and the shining moment of his defense case so far. >> you did not see a sign when you walked in that said "pay at the time service is rendered." you saw the doctor first. >> reporter: testimony that made conrad murray try, the jury soaked in and stopped the judge in his tracks. >> do you think dr. murray is greedy? >> do i think? >> yes, ma'am. >> no. if this man had been greedy -- excuse me, judge -- if this man had been greedy, he never would have come to an area 75% of them poor.
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>> reporter: ruby was the highlight of five character witnesses in a row. each taking over where the other left off in their praises for their dr. murray. >> that man sitting there -- >> best doctor i've been to. >> i've got to a lot of doctors. >> i have never had a doctor that was more caring. never. >> reporter: conrad murray had mixed success as a houston and las vegas doctor before meeting michael jackson in las vegas. a cardiologist, not board certified, born in grenada. six children from six partners including two wives. found not guilty of domestic ail abuse in 1994. but today, the jury saw a conrad more i ray who certainly would not put money ahead of his care for michael jackson, as prosecutors allege. >> prosecution spent one month demonizing conrad murray. you have to do something, anything, to try to humanize him in return. >> reporter: one other significant development today,
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outside the presence of the jury and away from cameras, the judge told conrad murray that he and he alone has the right to decide if he'll take the witness stand. murray said he understood those rights, his attorneys have said he will not testify. diane? >> will not tough. okay, thank you, jim avila, reporting from california. and still ahead, are we looking at a day in which there will be a whole new way of fighting breast cancer, without surgery? [ male announcer ] humana and walmart have teamed up
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sometimes, i worry my pipes might leak. but i learned there's something more i can do. now, i take care with vesicare. once-daily vesicare can help control your bladder muscle and is proven to treat overactive bladder with symptoms of frequent urges and leaks day and night. if you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems, or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take vesicare. vesicare may cause allergic reactions that may be serious. if you experience swelling of the face, lips, throat or tongue, stop taking vesicare and get emergency help. tell your doctor right away if you have severe abdominal pain, or become constipated for three or more days. vesicare may cause blurred vision, so use caution while driving or doing unsafe tasks. common side effects are dry mouth, constipation, and indigestion. so why wait ? ask your doctor today... ... about taking care with vesicare. we learned today a british
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coroner has determined that the troubled singer amy winehouse died from drinking too much alcohol. she had more than five times the legal driving limit in her body, enough to stop her breathing. and one expert we spoke to said it would take 16 shots of vodka over six hours to achieve that reading. the official cause of death was listed as, quote, death by misadventure. and a tantalizing new possibility in the fight against breast cancer. researchers at johns hopkins have found pumping medicine right into the tumor in the breast could eliminate the need for more radical treatment in some women, such as ma stektmy. the official results are encouraging, they say. the approach is working to knock out the cancer in animals and showing no major side effects in people so far. and we want to note the loss of someone wonderful. someone who helped build abc into the company it is today. daniel burke and his friend, tom murphy, acquired newspapers and
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broadcasting properties, transforming capital cities into a national media powerhouse, and they company was known for vision and values. after they bought abc in 1984, dan burke serves at president of the combined company and spoke often about the responsibility of broadcasters. >> there must be more time for us to address ourselves to the problems of this society and to apply television and radio to the greater good of our country. >> he was steel trapped, smart, funny, hated pretense and believed in his heart that quality is the north star that guides everyone to success. daniel burke was 82. and on a personal note, he was one of those bosses you're just lucky to have in your life. when we return, a secret path to happiness. ah looks like somebody's a winner. ha, not me! cause shipping is a hassle. different states, different rates. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate.
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and here in new york, a kind of mystery solved. a woman flying to los angeles with her cat, jack, lost him at jfk airport in a crate headed into animal cargo. the search went global there was even a facebook page. and shazam.
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yesterday, jack suddenly fell through the ceiling tiles at an airport office at jfk, hungry and scared. tonight, getting medical care. but tonight, his owner has been notified. and we're going to let you know what happens in the days ahead to jack. and finally tonight, a small secret of happiness. sometimes it turns out you don't need to spend money or go on vacation to achieve it. and here's abc's scecilia vega. >> reporter: the economy's in the tank. winter's on its way. it might seem easy to walk around with a frown these days, but there's actually a reason you should be smiling. ♪ when you're smiling it turns out frank sinatra had the right idea. and no matter what kind of mood you're in, the act of smiling makes you happier. charles darwin was one of the first to study it. today, scientists know that when you smile, your muscles send a signal to the part of your brain that controls emotion. it makes you feel better and
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maybe even live better. psychologists from the university of virginia are looking at facebook pages to study smiling. they rated facebook smiles of first-semester students and found those with "intense" smiles were happier in their senior year. of course, there are those smiles we all know. george clooney, julia roberts, even that famous cheshire cat grin. >> he went that way. >> reporter: but what about the rest of us? are we willing to take a break from a busy day to smile? what makes you smile? >> i wake up every morning of my life. >> reporter: what makes him happy? >> oh, everything. >> reporter: is it tougher to smile in this day and age with the economy and everything that's going on? >> yeah. but again, it's also easy to smile and it costs nothing. >> reporter: so easy, and who knows? it may add a few years to your life. cecilia vega, abc news, new
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york. and here's something that caused us to smile today. a glorious image. it's the arc of a double rainbow over london, england. and thank you for watching, that makes us smile, too. we're always on at abcnews.com. don't forget "nightline" later. and of course we will see you right back here tomorrow night. until then, good night.
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