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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  December 3, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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>> wake up! >> reporter: we pick up our bedding and hurry to the relative safety of the basement. >> pelley: children under the gun in syria's civil war. jim axelrod on new research that reveals brain damage among athletes in many sports not just football. and rumors have swirled around kate middleton. mark phillips with an announcement today from the palace. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. president obama sent a sharp warning today to bashar al-assad the syrian dictator who is fighting a rebellion by his own people. assad has not used his chemical weapons, including nerve gas, but the possibility that he might threatens to pull the united states into that middle east conflict. here's how mr. obama put it. >> i want to make it absolutely clear to assad and those under
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his command. the world is watching. the use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable. >> pelley: so why did the president say it today? david martin hat the pentagon has been talking to his sources. >> reporter: this is a commercial satellite photo of a syrian chemical weapons base. u.s. monitoring of roughly two dozen bases like this indicates the assad regime has begun preparing its chemical weapons for use. orders have been issued to bring together chemical ingredients which are normally stored separately for safety, but when combined form a deadly nerve agent sarin. throughout months of heavy fighting, intelligence analysts said assad remained confident he would defeat the uprising. now the fighting has crept so close to damascus that airliners are refusing to land and syria
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experts say the regime may have pushed the panic button. although the syrian foreign ministry repeated today that the assad dictatorship would never use such weapons against its own people. secretary of state clinton said this about the possible use of e emical weapons. >> this is a red line for the united states. i'm not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people but suffice it to say we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur. >> reporter: seizing the chemical weapons and agents would require putting up to 75,000 troops on the ground. a massive operation that u.s. officials say is only likely to happen if and when assad falls.
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preventing assad from using his weapons would require air strikes against sights defended by russian-made anti-aircraft missiles. for now, the obama administration is backing up its public warnings by sending private messages to assad through one of his few remaining allies, russia. >> pelley: david, thank you. the assad dictatorship has ruled syria for more than 40 years. the syrian people rebelled last year and it's been open warfare ever since. it's extremely hazardous for reporters to get into the war zone, but elizabeth palmer managed to reach a neighborhood under siege on the outskirts of the capital city, damascus. >> reporter: it's 6:00 p.m. the heavy shelling doesn't usually start until 9:00, so it's safe to go for a tour of this wrecked and virtually deserted neighborhood. this was one of the first neighborhoods to rise up against president bashar al-assad and for almost two years it's been
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punished. now 80% of the residents have been driven out. our guide was 21-year-old sara. the few people who remain here are too poor to leave or, like sara, too committed to the anti- regime fight. you're among the 20% who stayed. why? better to live here and die with dignity than go to a refugee camp? >> yes, die and we will be proud. >> reporter: at home, most days there is enough to eat for three generations of this family. but only sporadic electricity and the children haven't been to school for two months. most of the men are stuck here, unable to get through the military checkpoints that ring the neighborhood, so instead they've joined the local free syrian army defense force. on guard night after night since
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april. >> i'm so tired. look at me. i'm so tired right now. >> reporter: but the hardship and stress haven't sacked their resolve to fight assad's soldiers who are manning a checkpoint just a few hundred yards away in the dark. >> they are doing this every night and every hour, shooting at the cars, at the civilians. >> reporter: are you willing to make peace with them? >> absolutely not. i will kill them, every one of them. >> reporter: back at sara's house, it's almost bedtime. the shelling this evening is not very heavy so far. >> no, not yet. (bomb explodes) >> reporter: let's go. it doesn't take long. it's too dangerous to stay above ground. we pick up our bedding and hurry to the relative safety of the basement. it's very difficult to
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understand what the syrian army thinks it could accomplish firing in the pitch black in a residential area. it feels very much as if they're simply trying to terrorize people. the mortars and rockets continue to fall. not on us this time but on other families in suburbs around the capital everyday and every night elizabeth palmer, cbs news, on the outskirts of damascus. >> pelley: in medical news, we got new research today on just how dangerous repetitive head injuries are. scientists studied 85 brains, most from professional athletes and 68 of them showed signs of damage. here's jim axelrod. >> reporter: hall of fame tight end john mackey achieved glory on the football field, including this super bowl touchdown in 1971. but he was a shell of himself at the end of his life. this was mackey in 2007. dementia had left him unable to
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care for himself or understand what was happening to him. >> who's coming to get us? >> reporter: he died four years later at the age of 69. mackey's brain was one of 85 examined in the study by researchers at boston university and the boston v.a. hospital. dr. ann mckee is the lead a vthor. she studied the long term consequences of repetitive injuries to the brain caused by concussion. >> this is something that happens down the road. the acute trauma is a different injury. >> reporter: there's no fresh incident of trauma, but this disease is already under way? >> right. the disease is triggered and then the longer you survive, the more and more the disease progresses and the more impaired you become. >> reporter: while more than half of those studied were athletes, the research also looked at veterans of war. >> it doesn't matter how the brain trauma occurs: athletic field, battlefield, accident. it's just the fact that they had these injuries. >> reporter: 20-year-old rigo saenz served in iraq.
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he survived a half dozen i.e.d. blasts, which have the same effect on the brain as a concussion. brain damage has left him 100% disabled according to the government. >> like, i know the word but i cannot say it. and things like that, that happens to me everyday and it gets me mad. >> reporter: what you're doing, would it hold any hope for rigo saenz? >> we can't make rigo saenz better if we don't know what's contributing to his problems, what is making him disabled. if we can understand those little changes that lead to problems then we can interrupt them, we can intercept them with different therapeutic agents. >> reporter: the big hope here is for researchers to find a way to identify c.t.e. in those who are still alive. right now the only way to diagnosis it, scott, is to examine the brain issue of those who've already died. >> pelley: fascinating, jim, thank you very much. in washington today, the
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republicans responded to the white house budget plan with a proposal of their own. it would raise the eligibility age for medicare and people on social security would get smaller cost of living increases. unless there's a compromise by the end of this month, taxes will go up automatically for nearly every american. there is a lot at stake. so we asked wyatt andrews to make sense of how these budget plans compare. wyatt? >> reporter: scott, this republican counterproposal today is long on reducing the deficit and saving big on medicare, but it leaves the two sides still hundreds of billions of dollars apart and they are not close on the basic approach to solve the fiscal cliff. in a letter to the president, house republicans called their offer a fair middle ground. it's a ten-year framework that cuts the deficit by $2.2 trillion. it includes $600 billion in health care cuts-- mostly medicare and medicaid-- $300 billion in other mandatory
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spending and $300 billion in cuts to all other federal spending. by contrast, the president has proposed around $600 billion in cuts to all entitlements, including medicare and he'd reduce other federal spending by $100 billion a year. the president has also proposed spending $50 billion in new stimulus and republicans have refused to consider it. the biggest difference by far is in how to raise new revenues. republicans would raise $800 billion by reducing tax loopholes, not with a tax rate increase. the president would double new revenues to $1.6 trillion, with most of that coming from higher taxes on households making more than $250,000. the president and his negotiators have told republicans there won't be a fiscal cliff deal without that tax increase. the white house today dismissed that counteroffer as nothing new and urged republicans to "get serious about the fiscal cliff
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negotiations." but, scott, that's exactly what republicans were saying about the president on friday. >> pelley: wyatt, thank you. the president has not decided whether to order an end to a strike that has crippled traffic at the nation's two busiest seaports. the ports of los angeles and long beach shut down after a few dozen clerical workers walked off the job and dock workers refused to cross their picket line. bill whitaker has the latest. >> reporter: 11 huge cargo ships are stuck offshore, piled high with containers of food, toys, lumber. 14 others sit untouched at the docks. >> if you guys could start handing the fliers out. >> reporter: transporters, wholesalers and retailers are growing angst. ingrid lazcano, owner of andean dream, imports quinoa, popular right now in the u.s. her last shipment was diverted to mexico, another was diverted to chile. >> we have about $400,000 worth
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of merchandise at stake and our factory workers in bolivia can't make new merchandise until we figure out how we're going to handle the problem with getting these two containers in. >> reporter: fred johring owns golden state express trucking. his lot, usually empty, is filled with 20 parked trucks. each usually earns $500 to $600 a day at the ports. everyday you're losing how much? >> at least $4,000. >> reporter: a day? >> per day. >> reporter: scott, negotiations are still going on this evening. with as many as 900,000 jobs here in southern california tied to these ports, the mayor of los angeles is calling for round- the-clock talks with a mediator. >> pelley: thanks, bill. looks like flu season will be early this year. we'll show you what "curiosity" discovered on mars. and a giant gem gets a new setting when the "cbs evening news" continues.
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>> pelley: the c.d.c. said today that the flu season is off to the earliest start in nearly ten years, with cases in all but two states: vermont and delaware. it's worse in the five southern states that you see in red. dr. jon lapook is with us now.
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jon, what's going on? >> reporter: scott, we don't know why it's here so soon, but this could be a bad flu season and not just because it's here earlier than usual but the strain that's causing most of the cases is especially nasty. >> pelley: how do you protect yourself? >> definitely the flu vaccine. it's recommended for most people over the age of six months. 112 million americans have already gotten it. here's the good news. the vaccine out there this year is well matched to the strains of influenza virus causing most of the illness. it should be pretty protective. >> pelley: jon, thanks very much. the economy got some vital signs that are improving today. a report says that builders increased their spending in october by the biggest amount in five months, a sign of the housing recovery. and detroit's big three are putting more cars in american driveways. g.m. says its sales were up 3% last month, ford's were up 6% and chrysler sales were up 14%. there's a vehicle on mars that's revealing secrets from the
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>> pelley: for weeks now, word has been that nasa will be making a big announcement about its new mars rover. kurs's mission is to look for signs that the red planet could have supported life, and today we got another clue. here's john blackstone. >> reporter: the pictures of martian rocks, ridges, and sand drifts are among 11,000 images, including this self-portrait that the rover "curiosity" has sent back to earth in just four months. but what fueled rumors of a big discovery was the collection of a few scoops of martian soil. "curiosity" "curiosity's" on board chemical lab found a trace of carbon, an essential building block of life. "curiosity" lead scientist john grot singer. >> okay, it's on mars but maybe it didn't come from mars.
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>> reporter: it could be material that came from somewhere else in the universe. or it may have traveled to mars on board "curiosity" itself. michael meyer leads nasa's mars exploration programs. >> so what you have to do now is figure out did we carry these organic compounds to mars with us? >> not only did we carry these organic compounds but also then sort out where they -- which ones are they exactly? >> pelley: while "curiosity's" two year mission has just begun, scientists say it's already providing exciting insight. the well-worn pebbles near the landing site show this is an ancient riverbed. >> we're rolling on a surface that at one point in time water flowed ankle to hip deep. that's fantastic. >> reporter: the rover's main target is still on the horizon, 3.4 mile high mount sharp. its layers are a geological history book of the planet, but it will take "curiosity" a year to get there. john blackstone, cbs news, san francisco. >> pelley: now a curiosity among
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earth rocks. this is the largest-known cut aqua marine. it's going on display in its new home at the smithsonian in washington. 14 inches all the, five pounds. the gem comes from brazil. it was donated by a florida couple. the duchess of cambridge is in a royal family way. her story is next.
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next on cbs 5 finally tonight, ever since william and kate said "i will," everyone has been wondering when they would -- have a baby, that is. mark phillips is in london with great expectations.
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>> reporter: judging from the way she was hopping around playing field hockey at her old school last week, kate the duchess of cambridge did not seem either pregnant or unwell. but now it's official. she's both. the royal family was forced to announce the pregnancy earlier than it would have liked because kate at less than 12 weeks pregnant has been admitted to this london hospital with an acute form of morning sickness, a condition obstetricians like daghni rajasinghm say is uncomfortable but not at this stage worrying. >> she can become dehydrated, and the admission is to rehydrate through intravenous fluids. >> reporter: the great unasked question in the year and a half since the wedding has always been when the pitter-patter of little royal feet would arrive. timing was everything. no baby, royal watchers said, until after the queen's 60 years on the throne jubilee was over.
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and right on cue lately, the signs have been there. william was given a baby outfit during a recent outing and said he would keep it. >> love that. >> reporter: kate recently declined to taste a peanut butter-based sauce for fear perhaps of an allergic reaction. and lately, she's been choosing water, not wine, for royal toasts. clearly, children have been part of the plan ever since the engagement. >> i think we'll take it one step at a time, but obviously, you know, we want a family. so, you know, we'll have to start thinking about that. >> reporter: all being well, a child for william and kate will not only be a happy occasion; it will make history. for the first time, the gender of this child won't matter. the old law giving preference to male heirs is being thrown out the royal window. this child, whether boy or girl, is destined to be king or queen one day.
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the betting, by the way, is on a june baby. mark phillips, cbs news, london. >> and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. good evening. those soaking storms may have moved on but across the bay area, problems persist. in lafayette it may take months to repair a section of roadway swallowed up by a massive sinkhole. and all over hundreds of homeowners found out the hard way their roofs leak. local roofers say they have been flooded with calls. many are already booked up well into january. >> we have live team coverage of the clean-up and what what's next. we start with linda yee. one of the nastiest problems wasn't on land. it's hard to believe but
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partially treated sewage is purposely spilled into the bay. part of the reason is aging pipes and infrastructure that caused problems this weekend including those sinkholes you mentioned. children play near it pet dogs actually swim in it. here at point isabel in richmond. bay waters polluted with partially treated sewage. >> i personally wouldn't be swimming in the water right around point isabel and my dog wouldn't be. >> reporter: citizen watchdog group san francisco baykeeper says after every major storm this happens. rainwater falls into city sewage lines and treatment plants can't store all the extra runoff so this last storm forced them to release 77 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the bay. it's a practice not widely known but acceptable while bay area cities that have been deferring repair work catch up. >> the new standard is that all water being released into


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