tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS August 5, 2009 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
>> couric: good evening, everyone. it was the reunion they could only dream about during the 140 days they spent behind bars in communist north korea. today, free and back home, laura ling and euna lee cried tears of joy and they hugged their families in burbank, california. their release came after a face-to-face meeting between former president bill clinton and north korean leader kim jong il. the white house today described it as a private humanitarian mission for mr. clinton and secretary of state hillary clinton insisted u.s. policy on north korea and its nuclear program will not change. bill whitaker begins our coverage tonight. >> reporter: as the plane carrying journalists laura ling and euna lee and former president bill clinton approached the airport in burbank, anticipation was obvious on the faces in the gestures of the women's family members. as the plane taxied into the hangar in the golden light of dawn, the excitement was best summed up by lee's four-year-old daughter hannah, holding her
father's hand, skiping to the stairway for the moment they had waited almost five months to see. >> ladies and gentlemen, please help me in welcoming home laura ling and euna lee. >> reporter: hannah hugged her mother and wouldn't let go. the two journalists, isolated for 140 days suddenly thrust before a throng of cameras. >> 30 hours ago, euna lee and i were prisoners in north korea. we feared that at any moment we could be sent to a hard labor camp. >> reporter: which made them all the more anxious when they were suddenly called into a meeting by their captors, not knowing what to expect. >> and when we walked in through the doors, we saw standing before us president bill clinton. (applause) >> reporter: bill clinton said nothing today.
he didn't have to. the journalists praised his deeds. with his help, they are pardoned for their conviction for illegally entering north korea and their sentence to 12 years hard labor. then bill clinton brought them home. after the emotional reunion, ling and lee left quickly with their families. to follow: official government debriefings, including by the state department and what the women say they long for most: some quiet time with their families. their families were grateful, relieved, overjoyed. >> i think the first thing i said was, you know, wow, i can't believe this is. this is amazing. >> i think they saw each other very early on for a couple days in the beginning and then they were separated for the duration of the four and a half months. >> reporter: as for euna lee and hannah? how does it feel to be home? >> feels so good. >> reporter: today president barack obama said he, too, was relieved. >> we are very pleased with the outcome and i'm hopeful that the
families are going to be able to get some good time together in the next few days. >> reporter: for four and a half months the nation watched as the families walked a tightrope, trying to keep the journalists' plight before the public eye with candlelight vigils, trying not to say anything to inflame the north koreans. the women were captured on assignment for former vice president al gore's current t.v. >> but i want you all to know, your families have been unbelievable. >> we could feel your love all the way in north korea. it is what kept us going in the darkest of hours. >> reporter: for euna lee, laura ling, and their families, this must surely be their brightest day. bill whitaker, cbs news, burbank >> couric: the clinton mission to north korea may have come as a surprise, but the planning had been going on for weeks. the arrests of the two
journalists on march 17 set off a flurry of back-channel diplomacy. the urgency only grew greater on june 8 when ling and lee were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a north korean prison. after months of requests by intermediaries, the north koreans allowed the two women to call their families. it was these phone calls that started a delicate negotiation that led to their freedom. >> they did not want this issue to start to blend into the broader geopolitical issues that we have with north korea. >> couric: the north koreans told the prisoners they could be granted amnesty and released if president clinton came to pyongyang. in mid-july, the two journalists passed the message to their families. jack pritchard is a former envoy to north korea. >> he was a safe choice. and what i mean by that is president clinton would not go off the reservation. >> reporter: within days of hearing the north korean request former vice president gore asked
former president clinton if he would be willing to travel and obtain their release. and just days later, on the weekend of july 24, national security advisor james jones approached mr. clinton with the same request. the former and current presidents had no direct conversation before the trip. but the white house did impose conditions on mr. clinton's visit, only the second by a former u.s. president. one, he would travel as a private citizen and not a representative of the obama administration. two, that no other negotiations take place, including topics like north korea's nuclear weapons program and controversial missile tests in april and may. but given the former president's interest in the issue, most experts say it's likely the subject came up. >> to have president clinton in pyongyang, the first high-level visit in a decade and not raise some of these issues, i think, is a little bit beyond belief.
>> reporter: while the 20-hour visit proved successful in winning the release of ling and lee, major questions remain as to whether this will lead to more direct talks with the nation the bush administration had frozen out. >> the north koreans had a terrific face-saving opportunity. and if they didn't take advantage of this to send positive signals to president clinton, then there's really no hope for them. >> couric: north korea rejected the administration's first choice for the mission, former vice president al gore. mr. clinton agreed to go only after north korea provided assurances the reporters would, in fact, be released. now to that shooting rampage near pittsburgh. police say the motive was hatred. the gunman apparently hated women, often complaining they ignored him for much of his life. last night, he opened fire at a health club, killing three women and wounding nine more before taking his own life. susan koeppen reports from bridgeville, pennsylvania. >> reporter: the man who turned
a simple aerobics class into a massacre was 48-year-old george sodini. a loaner who had been planning his attack at a health club in pittsburgh for months. >> he had no relationship with anybody in that club that we know of. >> reporter: shortly after 9:00 p.m., sodini walked into the aerobics classroom, he didn't say a word. he placed a duffel bag on the floor, shut off the lights and opened fire. >> there was four handguns he had on his person. >> she was in the front because she was teaching. >> reporter: alex primis's wife, mary, who is ten weeks pregnant, was leading the class when she was shot twice. >> she said that she held her breath so that if he came around again it would look like she was dead. >> reporter: primis should be okay and her pregnancy unaffected. police say sodini fired more than 30 shots before killing himself. in a note left at the scene, sodini complains he never spent a weekend with a girl, never lived with a woman, and only had
sex a few times. in an online diary, he began last year, sodini planned his rampage for january but changed his mind writing "i chickened out, i brought the loaded guns, everything." then on monday, a final entry. "tomorrow is the big day, last time i tried this in january i chickened out. let's see how this new approach works." >> he just had a lot of hatred in him and he was hell bent on commiting this act. >> reporter: i will say sodini, who was a member here, came to the club twice on tuesday before returning a third and final time to go on that rampage, katie? >> couric: susan koeppen in bridgeville, pennsylvania. thanks very much. meanwhile in washington the post office delivered some bad news today. it's continuing to lose money. nearly $2.5 billion in the second quarter. now, to stop the bleeding the postal service is considering drastic cuts in service. nancy cordes has more about one
of the oldest institutions in america struggling to survive. >> reporter: in his 14 years as a postal worker in springfield, virginia, jerry seybold's mail bag has never been this empty. >> the biggest change is the volume of mail that we're receiving. >> reporter: blame higher rates or business belt tightening. either way, the postal service,& which made a $900 million profit in 2006, is on track to lose $7 billion this year. that's despite shedding 25,000 career employees. >> it's clear that weakness in the overall economy is continuing to have a profound negative affect on our finances. >> reporter: especially in an internet age. like so many companies, elite occasions, a specialty gift store, has gone online to communicate with customers. saving $10,000 to $20,000 by e-mailing fliers,
catalogs, and invoices. >> not only is it the cost of the postage but it's also the cost of the printing we have to take into consideration. >> reporter: desperate, the postal service would like to close some post offices. >> in cases where we have facilities that are blocks apart we may not need two retail outlets. >> reporter: but congress does not allow the postal service to simply shutter locations in bad times or to reduce deliveries from six days to five, another move it's been pushing for months. but postal unions are pushing right back, even though their deliveries are down. >> businesses in america operate six days a week, they need six days a week. >> reporter: still, the postal service says if something doesn't change, it could run out of cash come fall. nancy cordes, cbs news, washington. >> couric: and coming up next on the "cbs evening news," she thought a popular procedure for back pain was the answer to her prayers. now researchers say it doesn't
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♪ and wearing some of that dinner on you. ♪ >> couric: as congress and the president try to cut health care costs, here's something for them to consider. about three quarters of a million americans suffer back fractures every year, mostly the result of osteoporosis, and a third of them get treated, often with a popular procedure to
cement the cracks. the treatment's expensive, and now new research finds it doesn't work. here's dr. jon lapook. >> reporter: 81-year-old sister rogene fox was suffering from severe back pain until she agreed to test a popular treatment. she believed it worked. >> i just thought thank god, i don't care what i received, i feel good, i don't have pain. >> reporter: but it turns out she got relief without getting the procedure, called vertebral a common treatment for patients with common back fractures from osteoporosis. today, two separate studies in the "new england journal of medicine" reports there was no difference up to six months later for patients who actually had the procedure and those who had a fake or placebo treatment instead. >> i thought, wow, we're on to something. so we saw many play pla see bow patients get full pain relief. i have no idea why. >> reporter: during vertebroplasty, doctors inject cement into the bone in the back
to reduce pain. the placebo is a shot to temporarily numb the area. vertebroplasty is endorsed by many medical societies but the surprising findings may force doctors to rethink the treatment. >> i was quite amazed. vertebroplasty is one of the most rewarding procedures i do and to take that and say that it doesn't work, to me i just have a hard time digesting that. >> reporter: it's a money maker for specialists. in recent years, the number of these procedures has doubled to at least 40,000 annually. each one costing $2,000 to $5,000. >> patients must be empowered to make decisions based on best evidence. >> reporter: these results point to the kind of savings president obama has said can be achieved when there are well-designed studies on whether expensive treatments really work. >> there's a whole lot of care that's not improving health. and my main focus is on how we can stop putting money into things that aren't making people
healthier. >> reporter: >> these two studies i think represent great examples of what the president is looking for. >> reporter: but it remains to be seen whether physicians will change their behavior based on this new evidence. >> everybody says they want evidence-based medicine. sometimes the evidence is not what you asked for. >> reporter: it's one thing for patients and doctors to believe a treatment works. it's another to know the facts. that's why congress has earmarked a billion dollars to study the effectiveness of many different treatments. katie? >> couric: dr. jon lapook. jon, thanks very much. and we'll be right back. this is one way of getting vitamins and minerals. this is another. new total blueberry pomegranate cereal gives you 100% of the daily value of 12 essential vitamins and minerals. plus the bold new taste of blueberries and pomegranate with crispy whole grain flakes and crunchy oat clusters.
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>> couric: now to an american tragedy: homelessness. the government says the number of homeless nationwide tops 1.5 million, and that includes many more families. tonight, seth doane has the story of where one desperate family ended up living. >> reporter: julie barnes gets dressed in the same uniform for the same steady job at fedex she's held for three years. but what's different is what she notices on her way to work. >> i just see homeless people, but it didn't connect in here. >> reporter: it sure connects now. >> that's me. >> reporter: because when her ex-husband lost his job, julie and her three kids lost their
house with weeks of school still to go. >> i wanted them to stay and finish the year. >> reporter: so what'd you do? >> we ended up living in the car. >> reporter: the trunk became their closet. how many nights was it you actually had to sleep in the car? >> i don't want to talk about it. please. >> reporter: the family kept its secret, even driving to the same bus stop each morning. but 17-year-old maya's falling grades were starting to give them away. >> it was hard to focus on school and home work and projects when you're... you don't even have a house to do the home work in. >> we werejust crumbling. and i had to do something. and i didn't know what to do or where to go. >> reporter: in toledo, where julielys, with its 1% unemployment rate, they've seen a 5% increase in requests for emergency shelter over the last year. >> right now we do not have any openings, i'm sorry.
>> reporter: requests for housing at this family shelter are at an all-time high. >> i believe it's almost 4:00 and we've already turned away 25 households. >> reporter: todayd? >> today. >> you don't have your own bed. >> reporter: but there was room for the barnes-- just a room. >> my little sister sleeps here, my mom sleeps over there and my brother sleeps there. >> reporter: it's called the beach house family shelter. it looks and sounds more like a bed and breakfast. the idea is to offer dignity to those with little left. >> i was so ashamed that i ended up there. i felt so bad for my kids. >> reporter: but getting into the shelter got the barnes family in touch with resources that helped get them back out. >> i think it's important to share my story to give someone else hope. the hope that's been given to me. >> reporter: hope and the news they'd been waiting for-- a new
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>> couric: finally tonight, giants quarter back eli manning agreed today to a six-year deal for $97 million, making time highest paid player ever in the n.f.l. at 8, he's set for life. other athletes, of course, have to get a new job when their playing days are over. some, jeff glor tells us, attend a special training camp to prepare for the day the stadium lights go dim. >> reporter: they are monstrous men. modern-day warriors. showing off for millions on t.v. every sunday. but they're... there's suiting up and then there's suiting up. the n.f.l. calls it broadcast boot camp. >> defensive back of the new england... oh! >> that's all right! >> reporter: an intense four day training program that includes
current or former players all hoping to make the leap from n.f.l. athlete to big-time broadcaster. >> i just hope the commissioner's office understands that. >> there is this perception by some that n.f.l. players are set for life. that's not true. >> you know, for a select few, maybe that is. for a guy like me, i'm not going to be able to rest on my financial laurels. >> reporter: players like buffalo bills backup quarter back gigran hamdan are coached by a special team. >> producers aren't paying attention to what you're saying. >> is make up part of what you do when you get ready? >> war paint. >> when you're pulling this down create that nice dimple effect. >> reporter: you clearly have the right tie-suit combo here. i'm wondering about the socks. are those camera ready? it's not always pretty and it's never easy. >> you know, i can think back on my problems when i first came on t.v. looking at the wrong camera
and saying the wrong thing. >> reporter: matt stanford that recent... trans... transaction. >> a lot of good stuff happens along the way, but it happens to everybody. >> reporter: which is why these players are getting respect for stepping out of their comfort zone. >> they're so accustomed to being cheered and applauded an getting kudos. they are literally exposing themselves to a brand new venture. >> reporter: and with the average n.f.l. career just shorter than a presidential term... what's tougher, playing football or broadcasting? >> wow, that's a tough question. >> reporter: being a monday morning quarterback doesn't look so bad after all. >> mama that wraps it up from here. >> reporter: jeff glor, cbs news mount laurel, new jersey. >> couric: that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric, thanks for watching. i'll see you tomorrow.