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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  August 2, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST

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>> couric: day 105, getting ready for the kill. if tests tonight go well, b.p. could start killing off the well tomorrow. i'm katie couric. also tonight after more than seven years the end is in sight. >> our commitment in iraq is changing from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats. >> couric: fewer seats and more fees have the airlines turning a profit again as the cost for passengers soars. and the children behind these faces. and the story behind these portraits in steve hartman's assignment america. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone.
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people on the gulf coast and all over the country have their fingers crossed after 105 days, believe it or not, the crisis may be coming to an end. tomorrow b.p. plans to start killing off the ruptured well by pumping mud into it first through the cap, a so-called static kill, and later through a relief well. meantime the s.e.c. is reportedly investigating possible insider trading in b.p. stock in the weeks following the spill. as for the oil, the latest map shows it's rapidly breaking up in the gulf. don teague is in grand isle louisiana tonight. don, they've tried to kill the well before. what is different this time. >> good evening, katie. the static kill is similar to the failed earlier attempt at a top kill but engineers have a better chance of success this time because the well is capped and they don't have to try to overcome the force of gushing oil. three-and-a-half months after b.p.'s well blew out and began spewing oil into the gulf of
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mexico, engineers are on the verge of sealing it for good. >> i think everybody would like to have this thing ended as soon as possible. we don't know the condition of the well until we start to put mud in it. >> reporter: after final tests tonight, heavy mud will be pumped from a surface ship down a drill pipe through the blow- out preventer and into the well. if the static kill works as planned, the mud will push the oil back into the underground reservoir, allowing engineers to then pump cement into the well, sealing it from the top. later this month, more mud and cement may be pumped in from a relief well almost 18,000 feet below the surface. permanently killing the well. >> we in the coast guard would love to see the kill work and the gulf coast return to normal. >> reporter: also today researchers reported the dead zone which forms in the gulf every summer as a result of run- off from the mississippi river is one of the largest ever. the area of ocean which lacks proper oxygen to sustain life is now almost 8,000 square miles,
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roughly the size of massachusetts. however, researchers did not find a link to the spilled oil. >> it's very difficult to assign any oil spill effect, positive or negative, on this map for this year. it's pretty typical map. it was right dead on to the estimate. >> reporter: and a new epa analysis shows chemical dispersants used to break up the oil are no more toxic to life than the oil alone. strengthening b.p.'s claim that bombarding the oil with up two million gallons of dispersant was the best option. b.p.'s c.o.o. said on sunday he believes seafood from the gulf is safe to eat. >> i would eat their food. the seafood out of the gulf here and i would feed it to my family. >> reporter: still fishermen and others who rely on gulf seafood aren't entirely convinced. they are looking for assurance that no dispersants or oil are getting into seafood being sold to the public. >> couric: don, i know b.p. is
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taking another p.r. hit tonight with an investigation of possible insider trading. what can you tell us about that? >> well, according to news agency reports there were certain individuals within the company who may have made trades when the spill first happened based on information that the general public didn't have. therefore profiting illegally from those trades. we're still waiting on official comment from b.p. >> couric: don, thanks so much. meanwhile overseas a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in northwest pakistan. monsoon rains have caused the worst flooding there in more than 80 years. entire villages are underwater. bridges washed away. at least 1200 people have died and two million are homeless in a region already battered by the ongoing conflict between the government and the taliban. pakistan's army has rescued thousands, and the u.s. has flown in nearly 200,000 meals while pledging $10 million in additional aid. in other news just as the war in afghanistan is heating up the
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war in iraq is winding down. president obama said today u.s. combat operations will be over in a matter of weeks. chip reid is our chief white house correspondent. chip, i know this is something the president vowed to do when he was on the campaign trail. >> reporter: katie, the president is the president today in large part because of his pledge to bring troops home from iraq. today he said he is on track to bring all combat forces home by the end of this month. >> by august 31, 2010, our combat mission in iraq will end. >> reporter: that was president obama shortly after being sworn in last year. today he told an audience of disabled american veterans he's keeping his promise. >> our commitment in iraq is changing from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats. >> reporter: when he came in to office, there were 144,000 u.s. troops in iraq. today there are 81,000. by the end of this month there will be 50,000. officially they'll be designated
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as non-combat forces but that may be misleading because the troops will still be in harm's way and will continue to support iraqi combat forces. they also can engage in targeted counterterrorism operations. and while the u.s. troop reduction is on schedule, iraq's transition to a stable nation is not. the president today said violence is near the lowest level in years but the iraq government disagrees. they say july was the most violent month in more than two years. and the political in-fighting is so intense that five months after national elections they still don't have a functioning government. >> it certainly is not the stability that we had envisioned when president obama rolled out his strategy for iraq. >> reporter: despite all those difficulties the white house says it is still their goal to get all troops out of iraq by the end of next year. katie. >> couric: chip, thanks very much. meanwhile it's the last thing the president needs heading into the congressional elections. two prominent democrats facing
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possible trials in the house. an ethics panel today accused california congresswoman maxine waters of rules violations. at issue, she requested federal help for a bank in which her husband owned stock. but she denies the charges. charges against charles rangel of new york including failing to report rental incomes from his villa in the dominican republic. now to bell california where city officials gave themselves huge salaries and pensions to match. tonight john blackstone tells us the anger is spreading because it's not just the tax payers of bell who will be picking up the pension tab. >> reporter: when the angry citizens of bell, california, forced their city manager and police chief to resign it may be the best thing that ever happened to the two. consider the pensions now due city manager robert rizzo.... >> lifetime pension will be roughly $30 million. >> reporter: and police chief randy adams. >> his lifetime pension will be
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more like $15 million to $17 million. >> reporter: it's actually tax payers in other cities who will have to shell out. in california every city an employee works for has to pay a share of the pension which is based on the final salary. so police chief randy adams, who worked just one year in bell at a salary of $457,000, now qualifies for an annual pension of about $448,000. but bell will pay less than $ 13,000 a year. glendale where adams worked for five years will contribute more than $62,000. simi valley, more than $85,000. and ventura where he worked for 20 years will pay more than $286,000 annually. >> it's just wrong. he took advantage of the system. now everyone is going to have to take cutbacks. all of ventura will have to pay for it. >> reporter: for city manager robert rizzo's potential $890,000 annual pension the city of rancho cucumonga where he worked more than 20 years ago
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will have to pay $185,000. and another city more than $74,000. >> there's no control. they don't even know it's hitting them until it hits them. >> shame on you. >> reporter: the only good news for all those angered by this, california's attorney general is investigating whether the exorbitant salaries can be excluded from their pensions. john blackstone, cbs news, san francisco. >> couric: more money news now. spirit airlines this week began charging a fee for putting carry-ons in the overhead. $30 if you check it on the airlines web site, $45 at the gate. peter greenberg tells us a fee for all has helped the struggling airline industry turn a profit again. >> reporter: it's been a hot summer for the airlines. even though passengers are feeling burned by climbing fares to go just about anywhere. >> it's discouraging. it makes you not really want to fly. >> there's not a whole lot of bargains to be found. >> i'm already booked for next march.
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>> reporter: domestic fares have climbed 22% from last year in the most popular travel markets. >> we've gotten rid of all the junk fares and filling planes full of people paying more make an enormous difference. >> reporter: for years successful airlines in america were defined by which could lose money longer. not this summer. many airlines concerned about the potential spike in fuel prices parked hundreds of planes in the desert. fewer planes meant fewer flights. that meant fewer seats. that meant air fares had nowhere to go but up, up and away. the result-- soaring profits for eight of the nine major airlines totaling nearly $2 billion. for one airline, delta, its best earnings in ten years. one major reason for the airlines' success, all those additional charges we've now come to expect on checked bags, even pillows. it's turned the flying experience into nothing less than a fee-for-all. according to one new study, worldwide carriers took in $13.5 billion from fees in 2009.
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a 43% jump. u.s. airways has been very aggressive implementing those new fees. and told cbs it expects to earn more than $500 million this year. >> those fees have made a difference with the turn-around. without them, the industry likely would not have been profitable. >> reporter: a turn-around for airlines. that's packing a punch to consumers. with the pending merger of united and continental and more consolidation in the airline industry expected in the months ahead the cost of air travel may have only one way to go: higher. peter greenberg, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news", childhood memories created on canvas in steve hartman's "assignment america." but up next new york's fire department accused of racial discrimination. granola nut clusters from nature valley.
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other rare but serious side effects may occur. so, we set out to discover the nutritional science at purina one, we want your cat to be as healthy as possible in some of nature's best ingredients. that's how we created purina one with smartblend. nutritionally optimized with real salmon, wholesome grains and essential antioxidants, for strong muscles, vital energy, a healthy immune system, and a real difference in your cat. purina one improved with smartblend. discover what one can do. >> couric: it was a terror plot meant to outdo the september 11 attacks, blowing up massive fuel tanks at kennedy airport here in new york but it never happened. but today two men were convicted of planning it and trying to al qaeda's help pulling it off. one of the men had been a cargo handler at j.f.k., and the other was a politician in guyana. an informant recorded them discussing the plot. both could face life in prison.
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the fire department here in new york city is one of the most respected in the world and second only to tokyo in size. the company has well over 11,000 officers and firefighters and their heroism is legendary but as jim axelrod reports a federal judge said something is missing in their ranks: diversity. >> reporter: new york city fire captain paul washington has a big problem with his department. >> this fire department has been all white, lily white, for almost 150 years now. i mean it has to end. >> reporter: eight years ago the fire department was 92% white and only 2.8% black. in a city that was 24% black. a disparity that remains largely unchanged. a group of african-american firefighters sued. >> the fire department in new york on the one hand is tremendously heroic and the whole world knows about its heroism. on the other hand, we have this singular embarrassment.
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>> reporter: last january a federal judge agreed ruling the hiring test to become one of new york's bravest was not just discriminatory but illegal. he ordered the city to fix it. >> blacks don't fare as well as whites on this test probably due to the disparity in education. >> reporter: now the judge said the city has been dragging its feet and tightened the screws appointing a special master to ensure new york does what big cities like los angeles, philadelphia, boston, and miami did long ago when they were sued. they now have much greater diversity. but fdny deputy chief paul mannix doesn't think new york needs to follow their example. look at los angeles. look at philadelphia. look at boston. >> quotas. >> reporter: whatever your method, they corrected the racial imbalance. >> by using quotas and we are against quotas. >> reporter: miami in particular expanded recruitment by targeting young minors still in public schools with high school emt training classes.
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today they have firefighters like maurice kemp to show for it. that's chief maurice kemp, the department's first african- american in charge. >> like all of the major city departments, it doesn't come without a struggle. i mean we have to be conscious of the fact that we need to be diverse. >> reporter: mannix believes the current fdny test focuses too much on producing a racially diverse department and not enough on identifying the strongest candidates regardless of race. >> you're asking me to make my job more dangerous to satisfy a social engineering experiment. >> reporter: mannix doesn't officially speak for the city but both the fire department and the mayor declined our request for an interview. in a statement, the city said that it disagrees with the court's findings that these tests were discriminatory and intends to appeal. the city says next time it hires the incoming class will be one- third minority. but no new firefighters have been hired in the last two
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years. no one knows when the city will hire again. >> i find it shocking that the fire department looks like it does today. and the city is fighting the decision and threatening appeal rather than going ahead and giving the city the fire department that it deserves. >> i want to see black new yorkers share in this job because, as i say, it's not a good job. it's a great job. >> reporter: the only thing paul washington wants to change about this great job is the way new york city decides who gets it. jim axelrod, cbs news, new york.
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log on. learn more. >> couric: overseas there's a crackdown coming on black berries. saudi arabia says it will block instant messaging on them while the united arab emirates will block messaging, email and internet browsing. why? black berries use encrypted data that is hard to monitor. the two persian gulf states called that a security threat, but u.s. officials call the ban a dangerous precedent. speaking of on-line activity, bosses take note. a survey out today says nearly a quarter of the time americans are online they're visiting social networking sites like facebook. on-line games are moving ahead of email to become the second most popular on-line activity. too much time online may not help you get into a good college. we have a princeton review survey tonight of what makes a college good. brown university has the happiest students while one
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bryn mawr outside philadelphia has the nicest dorms. cheers to the university of georgia ranked-- and i'm sure parents will be very proud-- as the top party school. in other news one of the most unlikely of tv stars has died. in the early 1960s when kids were listening to rock'n'roll, their parents were singing along with mitch miller. >> now we want you to take the lead. ♪ mary lou >> couric: long before the karaoke craze the former record producer invited his audience to join him in songs as the lyrics of popular standards flashed on the screen. the show was popular but the music had it critics. in fact in 1993, the f.b.i. used it as a weapon to try to force members of the branch davidian sect out of their waco compound. mitch miller was 99. and coming up next, every picture tells a story. the story of a child. at purina one, we want your dog to be as healthy as possible.
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i'm from the gulf coast. my family spends a lot of time here. i have a personal interest in ensuring that we get this job done right. i'm keith seilhan. i'm in charge of bp's clean up on the gulf coast. bp's taken full responsibility for the clean up, and that includes keeping you informed. over 25,000 people are included in the clean up operation. our crews are cleaning the gulf beaches 24/7. we're going to be here as long as it takes to make this right.
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this is derek whitaker, he's a first time home buyer. he came to quicken loans, asking for a little bit of help on how to go about buying a home. david gave me all kinds of support. what i need to look for in a house, setting me up with a realtor, ways to get the house inspected. everything you could want to know and more. i just kind of walked him through the process... at 23, i was just trying to find somebody who would have confidence in me. everyone at quicken loans made things amazingly simple for me. that's why i love quicken loans! ♪ next on cbs 5 no id's monday >> couric: we end tonight with an update on a story we brought you nearly four years ago. in fact, it was on my first evening news broadcast. steve hartman has a portrait of
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some high school artists and their very special subjects in tonight's "assignment: america." >> reporter: in washington d.c., in the exhibit hall that the u.s. state department, there's a new art exhibit that paints foreign relations in a whole new light. the subjects are orphan children from thailand. the artists are high school students from new hampshire. >> she said to give you a kiss in front of everybody. >> reporter: the students painted the orphans from photos supplied by this man, ben shumaker. >> to see the portraits here at the state department makes me feel honored to have been part of this. >> reporter: us too. we first met ben four years ago at the base of this volcano in nicaragua. he had come to an orphanage here with a suitcase full of portraits just like the ones on display at the state department. paintings that were never meant for anyone's eyes except the children in them.
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ben got a high school art class in the states to do the portraits because he thought the orphans would really appreciate them. he was right. remember, these kids didn't have parents snapping baby pictures. most don't even have a single photo let alone a precious painting. >> that's nice. >> that is nice. >> reporter: ben called it the memory project. when we first met him he was running the project out of a spare bedroom at his parents' house. today it's a full-time job. >> it's much bigger. it's gone to many more countries than i ever would have imagined. >> reporter: after our story, ben says art classes signed up in droves. as a result, he's now delivered about 25,000 portraits to orphans in 31 different countries around the world. it's not just those orphans who benefited. >> that student right there who made it. the artist said she liked painting your eyes because they're so expressive. every day they come into the art classroom and there it is looking right into the eyes.
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bam. i think the artist comes to know them and does form a connection. >> reporter: no doubt. >> this little boy really reminded me of my brother. >> you can just tell by looking at their faces what they've been through sometimes. >> reporter: compassion. to ben, that's a word worth a thousand pictures. or 25,000 pictures to be exact. if you'd like your school to join the effort, we have a link to ben's website on our website. >> couric: what a brilliant idea and a great lesson for these young artists who are all very talented. >> reporter: they are really good. >> couric: and that is the cbs evening news for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. i'll see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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your realtime captioner is your realtime captioner is your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. comments@captioncolorado.com i look at this as sort of the northern california version of the city of bell. a hefty salary for the manager of a regularrively small city. why the mayor says he is worth every penny and how you can find out what kind of salaries are paid in your town. a judge rules. who is declaring victory in the a.c. transit dispute and what it means for parents. >> and what it means for bay area jails emptying out not necessarily because of a drop in crime. good evening, i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. tonight new questions about how much money top city leaders are making in the bay area. it comes on the heels of a salary scandal in the southern california california town of bell. the city manager there was making $800,000 a year. we wanted to know what city managers ar

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