tv AB Cs World News With Charles Gibson ABC September 30, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
welcome to " welcome to "world news." tonight, paradise lost. that south pacific tsunami has caused more than 100 deaths and major damage. utter devastation on paradise islands. shutting down. gm pulls the plug on saturn after an effort to save the car division hits a dead end. game on. michelle obama and the city of chicago begin to make their pitch for the olympics. and, our chief medical editor learns just how extraordinary is the level of editor learns just how extraordinary is the level of health care for the congress.
captions paid for by abc, inc. ingly good evening. major earthquakes are like no other force of nature. in the past 24 hours, we have seen how destructive they can be. yesterday, an 8.0 earthquake struck the south pacific between samoa and american samoa, triggering a tsunami. residents said they had little or no warning to escape the waves and the death toll tops 100. hours later, and 6,000 miles away, an earthquake struck off the coast of sumatra. scores are dead there. but we begin with the tsunami. abc's neal karlinsky is in samoa. >> reporter: charlie, good evening. the ocean, so beautiful right now, hard to imagine the force that came through yesterday. so many villages on the south side of samoa, just like this one. boats strewn about, cars, entire villages swept clean.
in the village of seeoomoo, the coconut beach resort and spa looks more like a garbage dump. tania penny was here, home with her two children, when the ground started shaking. you were in here? >> in here, which was over there, like, 500 meter that way. >> reporter: she made it out before the waves hit. the quake, she says, was the longest and worst she's ever been through. >> it went forever. everything went flying everywhere. >> reporter: people here say the waves hit so fast, they had little time to reach higher ground. in all, four waves as high as 15 to 20 feet slammed coastal villages and resorts. >> the wave was coming from that side. >> reporter: this man's father was washed away in his car, but he escaped between waves. >> lucky the window was up. and -- >> reporter: so they were floating in their car like it was a boat? >> yeah. >> reporter: on neighboring american samoa,
dozens of park workers were reported missing. power outages and poor communications have made it difficult to assess the hardest hit areas. we witnessed people digging out under piles of rubble, looking for belongings with nothing but their bare hands. even so, the word most often heard around here today was "lucky." people feeling lucky to be alive and thankful the quake didn't strike at night, when scores would have been washed away in their beds. recovery efforts are well under way. most foreign relief still hasn't arrived here, and there is a lot of work left to do. charlie? >> neal karlinsky reporting from samoa. to get an idea of the size of this tsunami the u.s. geological survey produced annen make showing the waves reaching as far as the west coast of the united states, within hours of the initial earthquake. joey comings is the general manager of a local radio station in the capital of american samoa, and he witnessed the tsunami when it hit.
here he is in "the first person." >> the harbor area where the radio station is located looked like a bomb went off. so, everything's pretty much flat, and so far, i'm just seeing mountains of rubble, people with construction equipment have been doing overtime this water was 15 feet high in the harbor area and it was full of cars and boulders and boats. if your building wasn't made out of concrete, it doesn't exist anymore. and i'm not telling you that there's buildings damaged. these buildings aren't there anymore. things are completely gone. there are boats on dry land and there are cars in the harbor. something like this, on a very small, isolated island, it's going to have repercussions well beyond people losing their car or their home or their job. this is going to ravage our economy. >> joey comings, a resident of american samoa. in southeast asia, typhoon
ketsana has been downgraded to a tropical depression. the death toll has climbed above 300. tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed by mudslides in vietnam. strong winds have blown down entire villages. in this country late today, gm announced it is going to get rid of the saturn brand. talks to sell the division have collapsed. the penske group, headed by the racing legend roger penske, was in negotiations to buy the brand. with the talks broken down, the brand, once touted as the future of gm, is dead. here's chris bury. >> reporter: for more than 300 saturn dealers and 13,000 gm employees, this is the end of the road. for gm, saturn had become an unwanted, unprofitable step-child. >> general motors ignored saturn. they launched it strong. they brought it out and let the product age and become uncompetitive without putting more money into it when they needed to.
>> reporter: saturn debuted 20 years ago. gm's long awaited answer to japanese imports. >> going to be a great feeling. >> reporter: saturn pioneered no haggle pricing. management and union boasted of a team approach. but sales peaked in 1994. it never made a profit. >> it looked good and well marketed, but it slid downhill. >> reporter: automotive tycoon roger penske, a potential savior, hoped to sell saturns, not make them. today, the deal collapsed when he couldn't find a manufacturer who would. so the car that once seemed the future of gm now joins the scrap heap of its past. chris bury, abc news, chicago. bank of american announced today that ken lewis is stepping down as ceo at the end of the year. lewis has come under fire for the marriager with merrill lynch and big bonuses paid to executives at the same time bank of america was getting taxpayer funds. the head of the national counterterrorism center told congress today that the core of
al qaeda in afghanistan, and pakistan, remains intent on attacking the u.s. eight years after the war began, against al qaeda, in afghanistan, new meetings began at the white house today on how to fight it and how many troops to commit to it. jake tapper is there this evening. jake? >> reporter: good evening, charlie. white house says say in the meet, a candid assessment was given of the situations. some things have gone better than expected in the last few months, in pakistan, the pakistani government has been cooperating. and some things have gone worse than experted, such as the flawed election in afghanistan, and the security situation there. it was a crowded white house situation room this afternoon, as president obama debated with his war council, what to do next in afghanistan and pakistan. charm of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen and others from the pentagon are backing recommendations by the commander in afghanistan, general stanley mcchrystal.
he's pushing for more than 40,000 troops for a counter-insurgency strategy to secure the country from al qaeda and the taliban. >> they have all stated publicly their view of counter-insurgency as the preferred method of dealing with the threat we face in afghanistan. >> reporter: with secretary of state clinton and special representative to afghanistan and pakistan holbrooke said to be leaning that way. vice president biden, general jim jones and chief of staff rahm emanuel are said to be skeptical of that proposal. with biden pushing a narrower foe kur on counterterrorism, just al qaeda, with likely fewer troops. others in the room have yet to decide. among the questions they're debating -- does providing security for afghanistan against the taliban make sense if most of al qaeda is in pakistan? does the taliban pose a threat to the u.s.? if not, need they be defeated? does nation-building in afghanistan make sense if it's
not clear that nation can be built? and -- >> if we take the risk of failing in afghanistan, what happens then to pakistan? >> reporter: a book being devoured right now in the west wing is "lessons in disaster," about the build-up to vietnam, written by gordon goldstein. >> the number one lesson in disaster for the president is a lesson kennedy learned in 1961, counselors advise but presidents decide. >> reporter: presidents decide meaning president obama should be prepared to say no to his commanders. the next meeting will be one week from today, charlie. >> jake tapper at the white house tonight, thanks to you. and the commander of u.s. forces in iraq, general ray odierno says 4,000 troops are going to be withdrawn in october, ahead of schedule. that's going to leave 120,000 forces there, compared to the 66,000 now in afghanistan. next, to the h1n1 swine flu, and growing skepticism among health care professionals about taking the vaccine. today, the california nurses association, the nation's largest, said vaccination for
its members should be encouraged, but not mandatory. so, our senior medical editor, dr. besser is joining us. a lot of jurisdictions are saying health care workers have to get vaccinated, and a lot of them are balking. how big a problem? >> the last thing that people expect when they go to the hospital is to get the flu. yet, each year, fewer than half of all health care workers get the flu vaccine. yesterday, the head of the cdc, at a congressional hearing, said the evidence is clear that many patients get the flu from health care workers. and, so, the responsibility is there on health care workers to protect their patients. >> but there are numbers that non-vaccinated health care workers will pass on more flu than health care workers who have been vaccinated? >> there are data that hospitals and nursing homes that have high rates of vags nations have fewer people that die each year from the flu. there is protection. the big question is, do you require this of health care
workers or do you encourage it? >> and the second issue i want to talk about is interesting, people are skittish these days about taking vaccines. if something, if there's a mishap, something bad happens to somebody who has been vac nated, how do you tell if the vaccine was responsible or it was going to happen anyway? >> it is a critical question. next week the campaigns are going to start, and people are going to want to attribute every bad outcome to the vaccine. unfortunately, every day, 2400 women have a miscarriage. it's going to be very difficult to tease out when a woman has a miscarriage following a vaccine, would this have occurred anyway or possibly related to the vaccine? government officials will try to address those questions. >> and pregnant women should get vaccinated? >> they are at greater risk of having a bad outcome from the flu. >> all right, dr. besser, thank you. and still ahead on "world news," the first lady's olympic task. michelle obama in copenhagen,
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cheering on the u.s. effort to bring the 2016 summer games to chicago. the international olympic committee cast its deciding votes this friday, deciding which city will get the games. the president joins the first lady in denmark on friday, but she's gotten things going on her own. abc's yunji de nies is in copenhagen. >> reporter: from the moment her feet touched the ground, the first lady was in campaign mode. >> we're so happy to be here. i am so excited, we've got a lot of work to do. so, we're not taking anything for granted, so i'm going to talk to some voters. >> reporter: on her team, chicago's mayor. >> this is a very tough campaign, these are very competitive cities. tokyo, rio, madrid, they're fantastic cities. >> reporter: brazil's president lula da silva brought soccer star pele to woo the voters, but chicago does have glamour of its own. >> hi, everybody. it really is a campaign, not even of sorts, it is.
i don't think people are as mean and ugly. >> reporter: most of the campaigning is happening behind the scenes. the first lady is meeting one-on-one with ioc members. there are more than 100 members and she's reaching out to every single one. >> there's nothing like making the pitch in person. >> it will be an athletes paradise. >> reporter: this contest is going down to the wire. many of the ioc members are power players themselves. even the prospect of meeting president obama on friday leaves some of them unfazed. so, you're not impressed by the president? >> never, never. >> reporter: this is a crowd accustomed by being smooched by european royalty, and dream team royalty too. in the shadow of all this glitz, albeit with a much lower profile. >> it feels quite intimidating. >> reporter: tom tresser runs "no games chicago." >> we think the bills are going to go through the roof and the
taxpayers will be soaked. >> reporter: but for michelle obama's team chicago, right now, it's not about money, it's about votes. they have less than 48 hours to bring home the gold. yunji denies, abc news, copenhagen. the death rate from breast cancer continues to decline. new numbers show another 2% drop this year. about 15,000 more lives saved. but the death rate for african-american women remains about 40% higher than for whites. and captain sully sullenberger, who splash landed u.s. airlines flight 1549 in the hudson river is set to return to the cockpit tomorrow. he'll be reunited with first officer jeffrey skiles flying from laguardia to charlotte, north carolina the same route as that flight back in january. and coming up, the little known health care privileges that go with being in congress. they make little hearts happy...
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the office of the attending physician. >> they have a very small pharmacy. they have physicians and nurses that will see you on the spot, on the beck and call. >> reporter: congressman steve kagen, a medical doctor turned down the health insurance options offered to congress, but this winter, even he used the office. >> they also have physical therapy available, which i took advantage of when i had my knee surgery. it's one of the quote, benefits of being a member of congress. >> reporter: how much of a benefit? for a flat $503 yearly fee, members have access to almost all of the primary care they could ever need, from exams and x-rays to minor surgeries. last year, about half of congress paid the fee. and sources say if a specialist is needed, one will be brought to the capitol. all of this for no additional charge. >> cardiologists, dermatologists, a gastroenterologist, rheumatologists, just a wealth of specialists that support the office. >> reporter: the office of the attending physician does serve a
broader public purpose, providing emergency care to anyone on capitol hill. but few people know about the first items listed in its mission statement, providing "primary care" to congress. we asked repeatedly for an interview or a tour, but were denied and when we tried to visit, we were asked to leave. representative lee terry of nebraska does not use the office. this thing called the office of the attending physician. >> oh yes. >> reporter: which you smile and say, "oh, yes." why do you do -- why do you do that? >> well, it's a great asset. somebody passes out on a tour, it's our attending physicians that are there right then, but there's an option, you could use them as your, in essence, family practitioner while you're here. >> reporter: terry is introducing a bill to offer the same type of health insurance options provided to congress to all americans. i'm sitting here thinking, "if you're going to introduce this bill for the federal health plan, why not throw in something like this office that is provide
primary care?" if congress can have those kinds of things, why can't we? >> that's a fair question. and they should have that. because frankly, having a physician that you can call and contact actually helps drive down the costs. >> reporter: good primary care, an ingredient everyone cares is necessary for true health care reform. dr. timothy johnson, abc news, washington. >> our "a closer look" for tonight. and when we come back, big changes in the new list of america's richest people. my parents all smoked. my grandparents smoked. i've been a long-time smoker. you know, discouragement is a big thing in quitting smoking. i'm a guy who had given up quitting. what caused me to be interested was, chantix is not a nicotine product
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(announcer) talk to your doctor to find out finally tonight, tough times for the richest of the rich. relatively speaking. forbes has just released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest americans. it is a ranking that always sparks curiosity, and envy. but this year, the richest 400 among us have lost a total of $300 billion in a year. here's bill weir. >> reporter: in the last year, bill gates and warren buffett together lost close to $2 million an hour. think about that for a second -- a second that would have cost them another $500. yet once again, the philanthropic friends are one and two on the list of america's richest. and enviable perch, but not quite what it used to be. >> last year, you needed
$1.3 billion to make it, this year only $950 million -- so big decline in the price of admission. >> reporter: with his oracle stock flat, yachting mogul larry ellison broke even at $27 billion, but everyone else in the top ten sank, from wall marlt's waltons to new york's mayor. so when the winfreys, trumps, and jobs of america are losing hundreds of millions, who could possibly be up? well, there's jerry jones, further enriched by selling out his new cowboys stadium, and facebook founder mark zuckerberg, worth $2 billion at age 25, and texas banker andrew beal, who tripled his worth by bottom-feeding on cheap loans from desperate banks after the crash. >> he's done a tremendous job of making his fortune out of other's misfortune. >> reporter: all millionaires are smart, they say, but billionaires are smart and lucky. that may apply to all of the forbes 400, but one new member also carries the label of
"suspicious." jeffry picower is worth at least $1 billion after investing with bernard madoff, and cashing out right before the ponzi scheme collapsed. a lawsuit may knock him off of next year's list, but either way, the 2008 red ink bloodbath makes this list one to forget. even for those who can afford to lose $1 million an hour. bill weir, abc news, new york. >> $950 million and you're on the list. that is "world news" for this wednesday. i'm charlie gibson, and i hope you had a good day. for all of us at abc news, have you had a good day. for all of us at abc news, have a good night. captions by vitac ypypypypypypypypypypypypypypypyp