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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  February 24, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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>> pelley: tonight the v.a. secretary answers for falsely saying that he served in special forces. >> that was wrong and i have no excuse. >> pelley: dozens are injured when a commuter train hits an abandoned truck. cbs news investigates-- is safety compromised when some airline pilots fly longer hours than a federal limit allows? and senior power. meet one gold medal grandmawith a message-- >> i'm old. if i can do it, get with it. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: today, the man brought in to restore credibility to the department of veterans affairs had some explaining of his own to do. secretary bob mcdonald
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corrected a misstatement that he made last month on this broadcast about his own military record after the statement was questioned by several retired officers. this comes, of course, at a time of controversy around prominent journalists who have been accused of inflating their war records. here's wyatt andrews. >> that was wrong and i have no excuse. >> reporter: the secretary apologized for what was said during this encounter when he falsely told a homeless veteran in los angeles that he had served in the special forces. the comment was captured by cbs news last month for a segment on this broadcast. >> what unit? >> special forces. >> special forces. what years? i was in special forces. >> reporter: the fact that mcdonald was not in the special forces was first reported in the huffington post last night. the secretary explained that when he saw the veteran, he was attempting to find common ground but got it wrong. >> and so what i was trying to do is find a way to connect with that veteran, and as i said, i
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made a misstatement. i apologize for that. >> reporter: mcdonald, a west point graduate was trained as an elite soldier. he was an 82nd airborne paratrooper who also completed army ranger training but he never formally joined the special forces. he says he's never claimed to be special forces before. last november, speaking to "60 minutes," mcdonald said this: >> i never served in combat. it wasn't my choice. i tried to be in combat. i was in the 82nd airborne division. i was an army ranger, but we all feel inadequate because there's always someone else who has done something more. >> reporter: taished the question of why mcdonald misspoke rocked the veteran community. the american legion, the nation's largest veterans group expressed disappointment, but a lie is a lie a statement said. national commander mark helm says sade to many veterans mcdonald's claims was upsetting. >> he would try even on a short
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notice like he did to say that word "special forces." >> reporter: but other veterans groups, along with the president, accepted the secretary's apologize saying the job he is doing is more important. mcdonald gets credit for several v.a. reforms including, scott, his outreach to homeless veterans. >> pelley: he is in the middle of a major reorganization of the v.a. wyatt andrews, thank you. there will be no federal civil rights prosecution of george zimmerman in the shooting death of trayvon martin. zimmerman, you'll recall was acquitted of murder charges. the department of justice said it's dropping its case and michelle miller has more. >> reporter: the news was delivered to trayvon martin's parents by prosecutors from the department of justice. the family's attorney, benjamin crump, was in the room. how did the family take the news? >> they were heartbroken even though they expected that it was going to happen. it was just hard, actually, hearing it and knowing that the
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killer of your unarmed child was never going to be held criminally liable. >> reporter: on february 26 2012, george zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old after an altercation. the teen was walking home from a convenience store to his father's home when zimmerman acting as a neighborhood watchman confronted him. zimmerman said he acted in self-defense. in a statement, the justice department said there was insufficient evidence to prove zimmerman willfully caused bodily injury because of martin's race or that zimmerman committed those acts in open defiance of the law. it is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law. our decision not to persue federal charges does not condone the shooting and is based solely on the high legal standard. brad brown is vice president of miami-dade's branch of the n.a.a.c.p. in your mind, has there been justice in this case? >> i don't think there's been
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justice in this case at all. now, that doesn't mean that the legal system didn't work as it is designed to work but it doesn't always bring justice. >> reporter: trayvon martin's parents haven't decided if they'll sue george zimmerman in civil court but they say they will focus on his foundation to ensure his legacy remains alive. scott, he would have turned 20 years old this month. >> pelley: michelle miller reporting for us tonight. michelle, thanks. early this morning in southern california near oxnard, a commuter train hit a truck that was stuck at a crossing and abandoned. no one was killed but 28 of the 51 people on the train were taken to the hospital, and four of them, including the engineer, are now in critical condition. omar villafranca is at the scene. >> reporter: the explosion and flames lit up the sky after the metrolink train struck the truck just before dawn. by daylight, you could see three of the five of the 7.5-ton rail
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cars toppled over like toys. the truck drierveg a 54 man from arizona, got stuck on the traction and jumped out when he saw the train coming. he was found walking about two miles away from the crash. was the driver under the influence of anything, according to your officers? >> he appeared to be very unsettled, and so the extent or the cause of that is actually yet to be determined. >> reporter: officials here say today's crash would have been much worse if not for new rail cars designed and purchased after a 2008 metrolink commuter crash which killed 25 people. the new commuter rail cars are built to direct the impact away from riders when the collision hits. enhanced bumpers and coupler systems create a crumple zone where the energy is absorbed, protecting the passengers and crew. keith millhouse helped implement the new safety features. >> these are the safest rail cars and the most technologically advanced in the united states. and i believe they probably prevented more significant
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injuries today. >> reporter: scott the national transportation safety board is sending a team here to california to investigate the crash. >> pelley: omar, thank you very much. tonight, the south is bracing for another one-two punch-- freezing temperatures are expected overnight and snow tomorrow. 3-6 inches from texas to georgia and the carolinas. a driver was killed today in north carolina when an s.u.v. slid off an icy highway and into a tree. we have more tonight on a story that we broke last night about americans receiving medications that they didn't order, racking up millions of dollars in bills to their insurance companies. one of the companies we mentioned is downing labs, a compounding pharmacy that makes custom drugs. well tonight, jim axelrod tells us about an f.d.a. inspection of downing, part of a national investigation after tainted drugs from a different pharmacy called n.e.c.c. killed more than 60 people. >> reporter: the f.d.a.'s inspection of downing labs in
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july found sterility failures in 19 lots of drug products. ashley downing is the co-owner of downing labs. they asked you to recall your sterile products. >> that's correct. >> reporter: and you decided what? >> no. >> reporter: why? >> because we are compliant with every state guideline. we actually have a sterile compounding license with the state. and we've met all of their guidelines and with no problems. >> reporter: did any parent of you think, given the n.e.c.c. story, why don't we be safe here and let's avoid even the appearance of a problem and recall all of our sterile product? >> we were confident in what we were shipping out. >> reporter: the downings may have been confident that no tainted drugs made it to patients, but the f.d.a. was not. in september the agency issued this press release warning consumers not to use downing labs' sterile products as they may pose serious risk to patients. >> pelley: you know, jim, it raises the question why didn't the f.d.a. force downing to
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recall those products? >> reporter: well because oversight of the compounding farmalcies falls primarily to the states. the f.d.a. told us compliance with their requests is actually voluntary, and that under current law, the f.d.a. cannot require a company to recall drug products. however, the agency also told us scott, they are actively investigating downing labs. >> pelley: did other compounding pharmacies that received that request recall their drugs? >> reporter: well, since that n.e.c.c. tragedy, more than 50 compounders have voluntarily recalled products. only pharmacy to refuse a formal f.d.a. request downing labs. >> pelley: fascinating, jim thanks very much. we got word today that the islamic terrorist group known as isis has kidnapped at least 70 christians in northern syria. their fate is not known but an isis affiliate beheaded another group of christians earlier this month. in the u.s.-led war against isis, there were 16 airstrikes in syria overnight mostly
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against vehicles in fighting position of isis which now occupies about a third of syria and iraq. there were five strikes in iraq, some around al-assad, once a major u.s. airbase. the military says all american and allied aircraft returned safely. testimony wrapped up today at the "american sniper" murder trial. former marine eddie ray routh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting death of two men, including former navy seal chris kyle portrayed by bradley cooper in the blockbuster movie. manuel bojorquez is covering the trial in stephenville, texas. manuel. >> reporter: scott, the issue before jurors is not whether eddie routh killed two men. it's whether he knew what he did was wrong, and this afternoon in closing arguments prosecutors say he did. they reminded jurors of a dash-cam video which shows routh leading police on a high-speed chase after the killings two years ago. prosecutors say he fled because
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he knew he'd committed murder. his behavior sparked pie a morning of drinking and smoking marijuana. but routh's attorneys say the veteran was battling p.t.s.d. and schizophrenia. they argue he was having a delusion when he thought kyle and his friend, chad littlefield, uponned to kill him at a shooting range and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. scott, the judge has asked jurors to begin their initial deliberations tonight. >> pelley: manuel, thanks very much. today, in the biggest showdown yet with the new republican-led congress, president obama vetoed a bill to clear the keystone xl oil pipeline between canada and texas. the president said he's still considering the environmental impact. the republicans do not appear to have the votes to over-ride the veto, only the third in mr. obama's presidency. now, have a look at this. police video shows a natural gas explosion today. man. it leveled a home in stafford
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township, new jersey. 15 people were hurt, two critically. some of the injured were gas company workers trying to locate the source of a leak. six years after a deadly crash are tired pilots still putting the public in danger? we'll have that story when the cbs evening news continues. protect you from cancer? what if one push up could prevent heart disease? [man grunts] one wishful thinking, right? but there is one step you can take to help prevent another serious disease- pneumococcal pneumonia. one dose of the prevnar 13® vaccine can help protect you ... from pneumococcal pneumonia, an illness that can cause coughing, chest pain difficulty breathing and may even put you in the hospital. prevnar 13 ® is used in adults 50 and older to help prevent infections from 13 strains of the bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia. you should not receive prevnar 13 ® if you've had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or its ingredients if you have a weakened immune system, you may have a lower response to the vaccine.
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hours, but oddly the rules don't apply to all pilots, raising questions about safety. jeff pegues has been investigating this. >> we got our tragic news at 1:00 in the morning. >> reporter: scott maurer lost his only daughter lauren, when continental connection flight 3407 crashed into a buffalo home in 2009, killing 50 people. after pilot fatigue was cited as one of the causes maurer and other victims' families petitioned congress to establish safe flight hours for pilots. >> f.a.a. rules and regulations, unfortunately, are typically written in blood, and 3407 was no different. >> reporter: in 2010 the federal aviation administration proposed new mandatory rest rules for all commercial pilots, but suddenly in 2011 cargo pilots were excluded. under the new rules, passenger pilots can only work nine hours if any of their flights are at night. but cargo pilots can work 16
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hours. bob travis flies for united parles service and is president of the pilots' union. >> it doesn't make any sense. it's just dumb is what it is. and if we don't reverse this two-tier lel of safety, tragedy is potentially looming. >> reporter: since 1990 there have been 14 u.s. cargo plane crashes involving fatigue. a year and a half ago, ups airlines flight 1354 crashed in birmingham alabama. both pilots were killed. the plane narrowly miss aid neighborhood. flight 1354's captain, cerea beal, told a colleague that his flight schedule was killing him. weren't those words enough to change the rules in this industry? >> no. >> reporter: no? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: why not? >> because that's just union talk and that's just conversational union talk. >> reporter: steve altman is president of the cargo airline
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association which represents companies like ups fedex and dhl. he argues the fatigue cited in the crash wasn't because of scheduling. he said it's up to pilots to get enough rest in their off time. >> fatigue is an issue. i never said it wasn't an issue. what i've said is that the current rules are adequate to manage that fatigue. >> reporter: cbs news has obtained documents shoaght decision to exclude cargo pilots from the new rest rules came from a white house budget agency which held meetings, including one with the cargo airline association. the cargo carriers warned the ruled would cost 7,000 jobs and nearly $13 billion. >> we do not want our pilots to fly fatigued. that's unsafe. >> reporter: but you've also said that rest rules are not good for business, essentially, right? >> no, i've never said that. >> reporter: could lose 7,000 jobs, $14 billion in economic activity. these are documents that were submitted. >> no, what we-- no -- >> reporter: that's not true? >> no. what we said is we were asked
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what the cost would be. >> you can't really find anybody except industry, the companies that want to put profit before safety, that are saying this makes any sense. >> what would happen if a cargo plane, you know, went into an office building? >> reporter: six years after losing his daughter, scott maurer remains an advocate for rest rules for all pilots. >> my wife and i we lost our daughter. that's not going to change. how many more lives have to be lost before you do the right thing? >> reporter: representatives of the white house budget agency that made the decision to exclude cargo pilots would not go on camera, but in a statement told us that the decision was part of an inter-agency process. that statement did not go into dwe tail about who was involved in that process. scott, ups' pilots' union is suing the f.a.a. to change the rules. >> pelley: eye-opening story. jeff pegues, thank you very much. a banker showed up at work with what looked like a bomb strapped to his body. we'll have that story next.
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in a case that is equal parts bizarre and mysterious. early monday morning the chief financial officer of the credit union told police that two masked gunmen entered his home. he says the men, who spoke with accents, restrained him and his 70-year-old mother for eight hours. uous man told police the men strapped what looked to be an explosive device underneath his shirt. new britain police chief james wardell. >> we claimed if they didn't follow through with his demands they would detonate the device. >> reporter: he said the masked men made sure he had a phone on him. one of the reports said he contacted an employee at the bank who alerted you. is that what happened? >> he contacted another employee of the bank, who was out of town, and requested his assistance with this plan to steal money. >> reporter: by the time yussman pulled into the credit union to get the money a team of officers was ready and waiting. they kept him in his car for
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four hours dismantling the device. the f.b.i. is trying to determine whether it's real. how are you looking at the c.f.o.? is he a suspect? is he a victim? do you know yet? >> well, at this time he's a victim certainly. we don't rule out any possibilities. >> reporter: agnes has been a neighbor for seven years. do you think there is any chance he was involved in what happened? >> i would be shocked if he was. >> reporter: why? >> he's such a wonderful person. >> reporter: after police took the bank executive into custody police went to his home. there, they found his mother had freed herself and the two suspects had fled. scott, tonight, they are still searching for those two suspects. >> pelley: vinita nair reporting for us tonight. vinita thanks. our next story is guaranteed to give you a lift coming up. in fact, they depend on a unique set of nutrients. that's why there's ocuvite to help protect your eye health. as you age your eyes can lose vital nutrients.
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77-year-old willie murphy. >> her age is no barrier to anything. >> she's older than we are. it's just amazing. >> reporter: at five feet tall, she's a 105-pound powerhouse who can deadlift more than twice her own weight, bench press 125 pounds-- shouldn't i be spotting you? and run through pushups like there's no tomorrow. her secret? >> i'm old. if i can do it, get with it. it's not that hard. i'm the new senior, and i got it going on. >> reporter: she earned first-place awards in her division at the world natural powered lifting federation's championships. she took home gold in the deadlift, power curl, and bench press and was named the 2014 lifter of the year. she rarely gives up any edge. >> ready set go! >> reporter: maybe to her fan club of five-year-olds at the "y," but anyone half her age-- >> i need help!
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>> reporter: can forget about it. >> push, push, push! >> reporter: holding back isn't in willie's vocabulary. >> push, push, push. >> reporter: neither is quitting, which is why she's such a motivating presence here. >> excellent! >> reporter: encouraging workout buddy jim marren to cross off sky diving from his bucket list by going with him. >> i wish you could bottle it. she is the most inspiring person i know. >> what goes around comes around. and it makes us all better people to be on the planet. 7. >> reporter: for willie murphy, age isn't a number. >> nine. >> reporter: it's an attitude. >> 10. >> reporter: michelle miller, cbs news, rochester, new york. can you help me up now? >> sure. >> pelley: and that's the cbs evening news for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. ca
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new oscar controversies. why some famous women are going after lady gaga. and patricia arquette. >> see how your life changes after winning an oscar. eddie faces the paparazzi as the fox news contributor slams patricia's equal pay speech. >> i was appalled. i didn't get the memo that i didn't have any rights. >> plus, melissa rivers speaks out about her mother's absence from the oscar in memoriam tribute. >> then, we're with the new dancing stars. >> demi's daughter is one of them. rumor willis is right here. see what got this reaction. >> oh, my god. >> also, we have honey boo boo's

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