tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS August 19, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
"cbs evening news with scott pelley" is next. >> pelley: tonight, a dramatic turn in a notorious murder case. the so-called west memphis three convicted of murdering three cub scouts. "48 hours" erin moriarty on why a judge has set them free. >> it's been an absolute living hell. >> pelley: anthony mason on wall street. a losing day ends another losing week. and we'll have the story of a massive layoff. the texas drought. houston's thirst for drinking water is leaving some businesses high and dry. and steve hartmann with a lesson in how much you can give when you have nothing at all.
captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. 18 years. a long time behind bars, a long time on death row, a long time in and out of solitary. a long time for something that you insist you didn't do. today three men who were supposed to never walk free did just that. they were called the west memphis three, convicted of murdering three cub scouts in west memphis, arkansas, in 1993 despite any physical evidence linking them to the crime. after years of fighting for freedom, they were released today in a very unusual plea deal. erin moriarty of "48 hours mystery" has been on this story for four years. >> my name is damien echols, i am 36 years old and released today from death row for a crime i did not commit. >> reporter: arkansas death row inmate damien echols got his
life back today. as part of an unusual plea agreement, echoles and two other convicted men-- jason baldwin and jessie misskelley-- were released from prison. >> this has been going on for over 18 years and it's been an absolute living hell. >> reporter: 17 years ago, damien echols was sentenced to death. the other two were given life. jason baldwin. >> and we didn't tell nothing but the truth, that we were innocent, and they sent us to prison for the rest of our lives for it. >> reporter: known as the west memphis three, the men were teenagers in 1994 when they were convicted of killing three eight-year-old boys in the town of west memphis, arkansas-- stevie branch, christopher byers and michael moore. investigators in this rural community believed that the teenagers killed the children as part of a satanic ritual. in recent years, though, d.n.a. evidence has been recovered at the scene-- none of it linking the accused to the crime.
their freedom comes at a high price. under the unusual agreement known as an alford plea, the three men who still say they are innocent had to plead guilty to murder. >> the only thing the state would do for us is to say "hey, we'll let you go only if you admit guilt." and that's not justice no matter how you look at it. >> reporter: while the father of one of the victims voiced his support for the three men... >> i'm glad that they're free. >> sir, would you have a seat please? >> reporter: ...another had to be removed to from the court after objecting to the deal. >> this was not justice. >> reporter: a deal that almost didn't happen. jason baldwin, who didn't initially want to make the plea, finally agreed to get damien echols off death row. >> i do not want to take the guilty plea. however, they're trying to kill damien. >> reporter: it's a really sad story and a surprising development, scott. >> pelley: erin, why did the prosecutors go for this deal?
>> reporter: well, the official state position is that these men are guilty but the prosecuting attorney admitted that eventually these three men would have gotten new trials and they were likely to be acquitted during those trials. so this in some ways was a face- saving move for the state. >> pelley: thank you, erin. this story got us wondering about the growing role of d.n.a. in the judicial process. the first time d.n.a. was used to exonerate a convict was back in 1989. since then, it has happened 273 more times, saving the lives of 17 prisoners on death row. the other big story tonight? the angst of august continued on wall street. the dow dropped nearly 173 points today, and have a look at this. since the market plunge began nearly a month ago, the dow is off 15%. we got some more bad news today on jobs. bank of america, the nation's largest lender, says it will lay off 3,500 employees now and may lay off a total of 10,000.
as always, anthony mason has been tracking all of this for us. >> reporter: a beleaguered financial behemoth, bank of america may be too big to fail, but its stock price is faltering-- down 50% just since january. the bank is still reeling from the housing crisis. after buying subprime lending giant countrywide, it's saddled with a trillion dollars in mortgage debt. it's also been hit with billion- dollar lawsuits stemming from the mortgage meltdown. economist mark zandi. >> they are having more legacy problems than other major financial institutions. they're trying to work through a lot of the troubled mortgage loans and other problems in their mortgage business that many of the other banks just don't have. >> reporter: c.e.o. brian moynihan has had to hand out more than 6,000 pink slips so far. he's sold off the bank's canadian credit card business and he's looking to cut billions more in expenses, but analyst paul miller isn't satisfied. >> we don't have a liquidity problem at bank of america, what
we have is a confidence problem in the management team. >> reporter: b. of a. is in no danger of needing a bailout, but losses and cutbacks at america's biggest bank and its biggest lender are another drag on an already anemic economy. >> banks are going to be quite reluctant to extend more credit, to make loans to businesspeople and to consumers and, of course, credit is key to economic activity and without flee- flowing credit, the economy is going to have more difficulty to really get going. >> reporter: already this year, the world's 50 largest banks have announced nearly 60,000 jobs cuts. and scott, that's the fastest rate since 2008. >> pelley: anthony, does this mean american banks are in financial trouble again? >> reporter: no, scott, this is not a systemic problem. this is not 2008 all over again. one reason the banks are lending less is they've been forced to hold more capital, to have more cash on hand in case of a crisis. so we are not in anywhere near the kind of shape we were three years ago. >> pelley: the banks are healthier than 2008? >> reporter: much healthier. >> pelley: thank you, anthony.
in libya, the rebels trying to overthrow dictator moammar qaddafi made a major breakthrough today when they retook the strategic town of zawiyah. the rebels celebrated with gunfire. it was back in march when the american and nato forces joined this fight. tonight it may be reaching a turning point. the rebels are now 30 miles from tripoli, the capital. earlier today, i asked alex crawford of sky news about the importance of zawiyah, where she is tonight. >> well, zawiyah is incredibly symbolic and significant. it's symbolic because this is the town which is an absolute linchpin in terms of supply routes for the qaddafi regime which is based in tripoli, just 30 miles down the road. secondly, it has a very significant oil refinery inside zawiyah. the rebels took control of that oil refinery two days ago. that meant that the rebels in
zawiyah were able to control their own energy supply and cut it off to the qaddafi regime. >> pelley: what is next for the anti-qaddafi forces? >> well, their aim is to move on to the capital and try and take tripoli. one of the rebel commanders who is in charge of the whole western region said they have a deadline to try and finish this off by the end of ramadan and the beginning of eade, which is only less than two weeks away. >> reporter: you've been covering this from very nearly the beginning of this war and, i wonder, do you sense this is a turning point? >> very much a turning point. a real turning point. and what a tremendous difference since the last time i was in zawiyah, which was in march. in those five months they have received training from the international community, they have received an incredible amount of extra ammunition. they've received more military and armory so that they can
fight this battle, and that was how they managed to retake their town. now they can move on to tripoli. that is their aim, and they do so with a renewed confidence and renewed optimism. this is the strongest position they've been in since the start of the uprising in february, there's no doubt. >> pelley: alex crawford, correspondent with britain's sky t.v. thank you very much. another isolated dictator, syria's bashar al-assad, said this week that he had stopped military strikes against his opponents, but today protesters once again filled the streets and human rights groups claim that government soldiers killed at least 20. you'll remember that yesterday president obama said that assad must go. the taliban are not going anywhere, and they made their presence known in afghanistan's capital overnight. suicide bombers attacked a british cultural center on the anniversary of afghanistan's independence from britain. ten people were killed, including a soldier from new zealand. mandy clark is in kabul.
>> reporter: at 5:30, first light in kabul, two car bombs exploded in quick succession. one destroyed the compound fence, allowing attackers with explosive-laden suicide vests, machine guns and rocket- propelled grenades to storm the building. for the next 9.5 hours, afghan security forces battled it out with militants as the casualties mounted. one bomber blew himself up and witnesses saw the police fire rockets and small arms at the insurgents. were you scared? "no, it happens often," he shrugged. just seven weeks ago, the intercontinental hotel-- long considered one of kabul's most secure-- came under another highly coordinated taliban attack. that ended after a five-hour siege, but only after a nato helicopter opened fire on insurgents. weeks later, afghan forces took over responsibility for security
in kabul from nato troops. it was a real battle for the afghan security forces to take out insurgents in this relatively contained attack, raising doubts about their ability to secure the capital in a more widespread assault. mandy clark, cbs news, kabul. >> pelley: and next door in pakistan, there was a suicide bombing at a crowded mosque during friday prayers in the middle of ramadan. at least 48 people were killed, more than 80 others were hurt when the bomber struck in a tribal region near the afghan border. the area is a base for islamic militants, but no one has claimed responsibility for today's attack. a lot of the illegal immigrants are about to get a new chance at the american dream. the texas drought has some businesses struggling to stay afloat. and a wall of dust 1,000 feet high rolls through phoenix when the "cbs evening news" continues.
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>> reporter: andrea garcia was five years old when her mother brought her here illegally from mexico. now she's a college graduate. >> this is my life, this is my culture and i am american. >> reporter: but her life in america is threatened by a pending deportation order. >> it was very surreal. our lawyer calling us and saying, "you know, they might come pick you guys up at 5:00 in the morning." >> reporter: the new policy directing immigration authorities to focus on deporting convicted criminals may mean andrea's family can stay. >> we're just kind of floating there in limbo, we don't know. we don't know what's going to happen. >> reporter: you still can't relax fully about this? >> no. >> reporter: immigrant advocates like attorney mike silverman says the change makes economic sense. each deportation costs an estimated $24,000. >> do we want to spend our money deporting and looking for janitors and college students, or do we want to focus on people who have committed serious crimes? >> reporter: critics like dan stein say the administration move is not about saving money, it's about getting votes. >> this administration is
attitudinally opposed to immigration law enforcement. they think most immigrants are going to vote democrat. it's pure partisan politics. >> reporter: hispanic voters have made it clear they're unhappy with the president's failure to achieve immigration reform. last year, the defeat of the dream act disappointed thousands of young undocumented immigrants. the act would have provided a path to legalization for those brought here as children, like andrea garcia. >> it's just kind of like this emotional roller coaster. there's no real, like, stability in my life because i really don't know what's going to happen. >> reporter: there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants whose life in the shadows may be made easier with this policy change. john blackstone, cbs news, san francisco. >> pelley: america's first baby boomer president is now officially a senior citizen eligible for medicare. bill clinton turned 65 today, but he is still the youngest among the former living presidents. he is 44 days younger than george w. bush.
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delays at the airport and knocked out power to thousands of people. the drought in texas is reaching historic proportions. the record drought has cost state's farmers more than $5 billion in lost crops and livestock, and bigad shaban tells us that houston is tapping into its energy water supply-- even at the risk of sinking local businesses. >> reporter: lamar and kelly anderson's livelihood depends on lake conroe. >> we just ran aground. >> in the middle of the lake. >> reporter: but the worst one-year drought in texas history is drying up the 19-mile lake and the andersons' marina business. >> i have two small children that are nine and 11 and we've got to take care of our kids and what the future holds is so unknown that it's just very scary. >> reporter: water levels are dropping here at the rate of two feet a month-- not just because of the sun.
60 miles away, a thirsty houston has started sipping lake conroe's water. >> 100 million gallons of water pull out through the spillway every day, destined for the taps of houston. that's enough to supply the daily water needs for 750,000 people. lake houston is a main source of water for the area's six million people. the reservoir usually looks like this, but now the water level is critically low. >> this is really a problem. >> reporter: deborah white has walked the shores of lake houston for more than 30 years. she can now a go a half mile into the lake without getting wet. >> we've never really been without water, so we look at water as abundant. now we don't have it, so people are a bit confused. >> reporter: lake conroe was built to supply houston during the water shortage. this is the first time in 23 years it's been tapped. houston's mayor, annise parker, makes no apologies. >> it is what it is. there may be recreational impacts, but we have to provide
necessary water to our population. >> it seems unfair. it seems like an injustice to me. i wish we had the water. we need the water, too. everyone needs the water. it's a drought. >> reporter: a drought that's likely to last through next year. the andersons' business may not last that long. the marina's boat ramp will be dry by september. bigad shaban, cbs news, conroe, texas. >> pelley: in rockford, iowa, today, a funeral was held for navy seal jon tumilson, one of 30 americans killed when their helicopter was shot down in afghanistan two weeks ago. about 1,500 people were at the service for the man friends called j.t. his dog hawkeye lay beside him one last time. a man who has nothing finds out that what he needs more than anything is to help people just like him. his story is next in steve
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the broadcast tonight with the story of a man who has figured out how to rise above adversity and take everyone he touches right along with him. here's steve hartman with "assignment america." >> reporter: far from the daytona beach they put on postcards, inside a soup kitchen, we met one of the sunshine state's brightest points of light-- volunteer brad carter. >> once you get out here and meet them and realize they're human beings, they've got a face, they've got a story, they're people. i've got a lot of good friends out here who are on the wrong side of advantage. >> reporter: broad volunteers a couple hours a day and puts in another at the mission. he publishes a street newspaper and serves on three boards that advocate for the homeless. this one is a nonprofit he started to try and educate people on the new face of homelessness. brad says nowadays anybody you meet could be homeless. and you know what? he has a point. where are you sleeping tonight? >> um...
( laughs ) wherever i can. >> reporter: brad has been homeless for four years. >> i've made some bad decisions and i've ended up here. >> reporter: i just want to run through the usual suspects. drugs? >> no. >> reporter: alcohol? >> no. >> reporter: mental problems? >> no. (laughs) >> reporter: so what could it be? >> i was just wasn't responsible when i was younger. it took me seven years to get through that two-year school. it's ridiculous. >> reporter: brad, now 44, gets his meals from the soup kitchen. he lives on the streets because, unless you have a family or an addiction, there isn't any free shelter in daytona beach. he last worked as a baggage handler, quit that job thinking he had a better one lined up, but the new job fell through and with no savings, no degree and no real marketable skills, he lost everything, although obviously found purpose. >> a lot of people slip through the cracks. this transitional housing program... i his honesty and eloquence have earned him support from all corners of this community. >> did you get that flier made
up yet? >> reporter: on the board of his nonprofit, homeless people serve side by side with city leaders, like former commissioner sheila mckay vaughan. >> what intrigued me about it was that it was the actual homeless people trying to help themselves. i'm for helping anybody that wants to help themselves. >> reporter: in fact, the day we were there we watched brad and a friend spend the only $10 they had to their names... >> i'll fold them. >> reporter: ...on printing up extra copies of a newsletter. >> i appreciate it, sir, thank you very much. >> reporter: like they say, give homeless people money, they're just going to spend it on publishing. if nothing else, brad has certainly succeeded in shattering the stereotype. which makes you wonder... what if it leads to a job and home for you? what happens for the others? >> i'll always be an advocate for the homeless. i won't walk away from that. >> reporter: brad says helping others helps him sleep at night- - wherever that may be. steve hartman, cbs news, daytona beach, florida. >> pelley: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, i'm scott pelley.
i'll see you sunday on "60 minutes." good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. the estimates are that somewhere between one and 30 and one in 500 mosquitos are carrying the virus out there. >> the threat is back. west nile virus in the bay area. what's being done about it starting next week. it seems he knew exactly what he was doing. what a suspected drunk driver was seen doing moments after a 4-year-old was hit and killed. and oakland can sure use some help. tonight how the state is stepping in to fight crime. good evening, i'm elizabeth cook in for dana tonight. >> i'm