tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS May 31, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
today. edwards was acquit of one count of campaign finance fraud in connection with his run for the 2008 democratic presidential nomination. the jury reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked on five other counts, so the judge declared a mistrial on those ending the case. anna werner has been covering the 17 days of testimony and nine days of deliberations, and she joins us now from the courthouse in greensboro, north carolina. anna. >> reporter: scott, as the foreperson told the judge, that the jury had failed to reach a verdict on five of six counts, edwards smiled. then we watched as he hugged his daughter, cate, and his parents, all clearly relieved. then he stepped outside to face everyone else. >> while i do not believe i did anything illegal or ever thought i was doing anything illegal, i did an awful, awful lot that was
wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins. >> reporter: edwards denied he was part of any illegal scheme involving the money used to pay hunter's living expenses and to keep her out of public view while she was pregnant with his daughter. prosecutors introduced evidence that they said proved illegal campaign contributions from two wealthy donors, campaign finance chairman fred baron and heiress, rachel "bunny" mellon, were used to cover up edwardss' affair in violation of federal law. but edwards' defense attorneys argued the donations were not campaign contributions but gifts. none of the witnesses at trial testified that edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws. to win a conviction conviction, the government had to prove edward' criminal intent. edwards' defense attorney abby
noel. young claimed he and edwards worked together to hide the affair and he even at one point falsely claimed paternity of edwards' baby. young, who wrote a book about the edwards affair was granted immunity by the government for his testimony. as he left the courthouse it tonight, edwards expressed hope for his future. >> i don't think god's through with me. i really believe he thinks there's still some good things i can do. >> reporter: now, the jury of eight men and four women spent close to 50 hours trying to reach unanimous verdicts on all those six counts. why they were unable to agree on five of the six, scott, isn't clear. they left the comment-- they left the courthouse tonight without make anything comment. >> pelley: anna, thank you very much. erin moriarty of "48 hours mystery" has been watching the testimony in the courtroom. erin, what appeared to be the central flaw in the government's case? >> reporter: i think simply put it's andrew young, the government's key witness. the government built its case on
his testimony. he's the one who said that john edwards solicited the money from the two wealthy donors, then used it to hide his girlfriend from the american public as part of his campaign. but during cross-examination, andrew young had to admit that he used more than $1 million of that money for his own house, and i think his credibility was sedamage add the that point. >> pelley: he used that money to build his open house. he essentially stole it is what he said. >> reporter: he did. and he was double dealing. he told one donor he owed money and he had already paid that with bunny melon's money. >> pelley: can the prosecutor try again? >> reporter: they can and we saw nathat in the roger clemens case but they are stuck with andrew young. i don't think it's likely they will. >> pelley: erin, thanks very much. in another court today, the federal law that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman was struck down today by one woman and two men on a federal appeals panel. the court in period of time said the 1996 defense of marriage act
discriminate because it prevents same-sex couples from getting federal benefits that other couples enjoy. what happens now? nancy cordes is looking into that. >> reporter: today's decision was a victory for married, same-sex couples who say they're entitled to the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. the first u.s. circuit court of appeals said the 16-year-old defense of marriage act interferes with the rights of states to define marriage themselves. >> it's absolutely wonderful. we are so happy. >> reporter: betty joe green and jo ann whitehead of boston, were two of 17 who sued the government to overturn the law. the couple met in college and have been together since 1981. they were legally wed in massachusetts, but the defense of marriage act prevents them from getting the federal tax benefits or social security benefits that come from being married. >> both of us are cancer survivors, so we know that it's a possibility that one of us
will probably die before the other. she will not be able to get survivors benefits from me through social security. it makes an enormous difference in our planning. >> reporter: since the law passed in 1996, eight states and the district of columbia have approved same-sex marriage. 31 states have banned it. last year, president obama instructed the justice department to stop defending the defense of marriage act in court. >> it violates the constitution. it's time for us to bring it to an end. >> reporter: house republicans have hired a lawyer to defend the law and today he said he always expected that the matter would end up here at the supreme court. until it does, scott, the first circuit has said it will not enforce its ruling, which means for now, nothing changes for same-sex couples. >> pelley: nancy, thank you very much. the united states said today it is reprehensible that a russian ship is unloading a cargo of arms in syria in support of the
dictatorship there. secretary of state hillary clinton warn the russians that they must help remove the dictator bashar al-assad or they will be responsible for the start of a civil war. it was 15 months ago that a popular revolt rose up against assad. and there was fighting again today. assad's army fired shells into several cities. last week, in the rebel town of houla, more than 100 people, mostly women and children, were killed by militias supporting the dictatorship. the assad government insisted today it that it had nothing to do with it. alex thompson is a correspondent with britain's channel 4 news. he's joining us from the syrian capital damascus. alex, you were in houla where the massacre took place. i wonder what the witnesses there told you. >> reporter: well, quite genuinely scott, in 25 years of reporting i've scarcely ever been in a situation where people are so desperate to tell their
stories to the outside world. let me just give you a few very brief examples. a 15-year-old girl was taken into her bedroom, her t-shirt is pulled up to expose her back with a large exit wound from a bullet. she describes how the soldiers came and took her family away. again and again and again on the street, a sort of lonely vigil of despair. those are the kind of things you come across. someone who can't explain what wont. a three-year-old girl who's got an injury to her foot and shrapnel wounds in her legs. someone will have to tell her that her mother was killed on the night she got those injuries. >> pelley: the united nations says there were 108 killed in that massacre, but i wonder how many wounded you found. >> reporter: there are scores and scores of people as you would expect. what you do see an awful lot, though, is people with shrapnel injuries. don't forget, before the massacre, there was a sustained barrage, a bombardment of shells falling upon howdah before the killing squads moved in, if you like, to the southern part of the town.
>> pelley: finally, there are about 300 u.n. observers in the country now. are they having any effect on the ground? >> reporter: every time we moved out of the u.n. base in homes, with one exception, our patrols, clearly u.n. white vehicles mark with the u.n. symbol, every time they were fired on. the one time it didn't happen was when the patrol actually went into powd houla itself. we were told by the united nations there was huge international pressure to get into the town and help those people. it's clear the u.n. can have a short-term peaceful effect but by the time we left town, left howl athe shelling had started again. >> pelley: alex thompson with britain's channel 4 news reporting from damascus, thank you, alex. >> reporter: you're welcome. >> pelley: five weeks ago a blind chinese activist drew the world's attention when he escaped house arrest outside
beijing. today in new york, chen guangcheng did something he could never do back home-- speak freely. speaking in mandarin, chen says that he believes china will become more democratic, but he accused the communist leaders there of being lawless. chen arrived in the u.s. two weeks ago. he said he still fears for family members that he left behind. chen's new hometown was the scene today of a debate over a different kind of freedom it's freedom to buy giant-sized sugary drinks. new york mayor michael bloomberg is propose a ban on the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. it was bloomberg who got cigarettes banned in all buildings, including bars and office. the mayor explained his latest crusade to michelle miller today. >> every study shows that you will eat a very big proportion of whatever is put in front of you. and if you have to make a
conscious effort to go to another cup, you're less likely to do it. >> reporter: mayor bloomberg has waged the most aggressive antiobesity campaign in the nation, in an effort to cinch the wastelines of new yorkers. >> obesity is killing 5,000 people a year in new york city. >> reporter: in 2008, he banned artery-clogging transfats from new york city restaurants and insisted calories be posted on menus before setting his sights on soft drinks. susan neely is with the american beverage association. >> well, the mayor seems to have an obsession with soft drinks. i don't think it's going to solve the obesity crisis by any stretch of the imagination. the problem is what? you're going to be at yankee stadium with your family and you can have as much beer as you want, and you can have as much-- all the food that you want, and then you've got to have a limit on your soft drink? >> reporter: the mayor's ban only applies to restaurants, movie theaters, and concession stands, not to grocery and convenience stores. >> i just heard someone on the
radio say you were legislating the joy out of life for new yorkers. >> oh, come on. we're not taking away anything. you don't have to pay attention to the calorie counts. you don't have to stop buying big bottles of soda or drinking two cups. >> americans consume 200 to 300 more calories a day than they did 30 years ago. that's largely due to sugary drinks that concane high fructose corner syrup. who do you hold accountable for the obesity epidemic? >> in the end it is people buying products. it is companies making products available that people want to to buy. i don't know that you can go and hold either side of the equation responsible. >> reporter: well, scott, in 2003, new york city also banned all sugary drenches from its public schools. and the health commissioner tells us that he saw a 5% reduction in obesity rates of those school kids in the last four years. >> pelley: michelle miller in times square. michelle, thanks very much.
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economic growth in the first quarter of this year was just 1.9%. that's not enough to create a lot of jobs, and it's worse than we first thought. it's down from an earlier estimate of 2.2%. we've been asking the presidential candidates how they would create jobs, and today, our chief political correspondent jan crawford caught up with republican mitt romney, and she joins us this evening from san jose, california. jan. >> reporter: well, scott, we sat down with governor romney in an airplane hangar between campaign stops. it was his first interview since he clinched the nomination and we talked about jobs and also his thoughts on the president's performance. and make no mestake, this is going to be a bruising campaign. has president obama, in your view, done anything will well? >> i'm sure he has. i appreciate, for instance, the decision he made to go after osama bin laden, and to make sure he was executed. >> reporter: what grade would you give president obama? >> oh, an "f."
there's no question about that. >> reporter: across the board. >> across the board. >> reporter: even despite the killing of osama bin laden. >> look at what's happening in the middle east. the arab spring has become the arab winter. that's hardly a success. and of course domestically, it's hard to call what, now, 39, 40 months of unemployment above 8% a success when even he said by now, it would be in the 6% range. and by now it is not. it's over eight. >> reporter: what would do you though, specifically, when you think about the problem of long-term unemployment, what would do you to turn that around in a romney administration? >> you know, one of the things we tried when i was the governor of massachusetts was to create an incentive for employers to actually hire people who had been out of work for a long time. and so we said if you hire someone who has been out of work a year or more, we're going to give you the, the employer, i think it was a $2,000 check to be able to train this person and the job you've hired them for.
>> reporter: right now, as states are starting to cut back on unemployment checks, do you think those checks should be extended or reduced at this point? >> i think it would be a much better system to have folks have a personal account, if you will, where they build up over time an unemployment account. they're able to draw from that, perhaps being matched by the government. they draw from that, so they have an incentive to get back to work. at the same time they have the resources they need during difficult times of unemployment. >> reporter: now, romney also talked about his time in business where he had success. he also had some failures but he said all of that gave him an understanding of how business works, why companies locate one place instead of another, why they hire people. and he said that kind of understanding is something he believes the president lacks. >> pelley: jan, thanks very much. we have an update now on a story that dr. jon lapook has been following about a shortage of cancer trucks. he told us about elena showenfelled, nearly a year old, fighting leukemia. she and hundreds of children are
running out of chemotherapy drugs. bills to help fix that problem had been stalled in congress, so dr. lapook pressed the question with the leaders there, including the house speaker, john boehner. >> so the senate is getting ready to move a bill. the energy and commerce committee is getting ready to mark up a bill. in early may. but i would also ask, where is the administration been? where's the president of the united states been. >> reporter: when we spoke to the legislator, they said to talk to you about the leadership. >> i respect the committee process, and the committees have their work to do to investigate this. >> pelley: things started moving after jon's report and we can tell you the house passed the bill last night. the senate last week. now the two versions have to be reconciled before going to the white house. a day at the beach with a very famous family when we come back. with wholesome noodles and bite sized chicken,
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>> pelley: a remarkable new study today about spinal cord injuries really caught our eye. it features rats with partially severed spinal cords that learn to walk again. the rats had been given a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation, and intense physical training. researchers are now developing a similar study to see if it will work in humans. a history-making space trip ended today. infrared imaging shows the unmanned space-x caps ulas it bill parcells chuted into the
pacific. it was the fistfightly own ship to dock with the space station and deliver supplies. space-x hopes to sendown astronauts into orbit. today we got a speak at some very special home muchs. britain's royal family at the beach in 1957. the film is part of a tv celebration of elizabeth's 60th anniversary as queen. those are two of her children, prince charles and princess anne, buried in the sand, one of their many corgis by their side. george w. bush returns to the white house. coming up next. i got mine in iraq, 2003. usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation. because it offers a superior level of protection, and because usaa's commitment to serve the military, veterans and their families is without equal. begin your legacy, get an auto insurance quote.
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pantene healthier hair in less than 7 days. finally tonight, only 43 people have served as president of the united states. three of them were at the white house today for the unveiling of the official portraits of one member of that club and his first lady, the work of artist john howard sanden. norah o'donnell was there. ( applause ). >> reporter: it was one of those rare occasions in washington where politics gives way to tradition. >> we may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences. >> reporter: those differences disappeared today in the east room of the white house as three of the five living presidents gathered to honor president george w. bush. >> george, i will always
remember the gathering you hosted for all of living former presidents before i took office. your kind words of encouragement, plus you also left me a really good tv sports package. ( laughter ). >> reporter: the unveiling of the portraits was a proud moment for the bush family. president george h.w. bush, who turns 88 next month, arrived in a wheelchair. it was a chance for the 43rd president to honor the 41st. >> i am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible-- unconditional love. and that would be number 41 ( applause ) >> reporter: president bush joked that the exclusive portrait collection now starts and ends with a george w., referencing himself and george washington. >> when the british burned the white house in 1814, dolly madison famously saved this portrait of the first george w. ( laughter ). now, michelle... if anything happens...
( laughter ) there's your man. >> reporter: mrs. obama told him not to worry. >> and i promise you... ( laughter ) i promise i'm going straight for it. ( laughter ) >> reporter: president obama said his time in the white house has given him a deeper understanding for the men who came before him and for today at least, that understanding seemed mutual. norah o'donnell, cbs news, the white house. >> pelley: 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
now, "entertainment tonight," the most watched entertainment newsmagazine in the world. bieber bedlamb around the world. wide, new video out of norway as the mayor threatens a state of an emergency. dozens injured. girls in tears. plus the bieber comparisons to beatlemania as we look back to the craziest fan meltdowns, ever, from michael jackson, to leo. valerie bertinelli's advice to jes can