tv CBS Evening News CBS December 18, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
>> tonight, a landmark vote. the senate repeals don't ask, don't tell, clearing the way for gaygays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. >> the yas are 65, the nays 31. >> i'm anthony mason. also tonight, shoppers are in a holiday mood, with just a week to go until christmas, signs of strong sales at the mall. fraud alert it's government warns of a telephone scam that offers phony government grants. and simple gifts-- americans open their wallets and their hearts to help people in need thousands of miles away captioning sponsored by cbs
this is the "cbs evening news" >> the united states senate made history this afternoon voting to overturn the don't ask, don't tell law that prevented open military service by gays and lesbians. the new policy does not go into effect immediately and opponents of the change fought it until the very end. whit johnson is in washington tonight with the latest. whit. >> reporter: anthony, good evening. not long ago it looked like the repeal of don't ask, don't tell could be left on the floor of this lame duck congress, but today the 17-year-old policy fought its last battle in the senate. >> 2965 is adopted. >> reporter: with 65 votes, eight of them republican, the senate voted to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. >> they want to put their lives on the line for our security and our freedom. does it make any sense to say no to them? >> some have said this is not the time to repeal this policy. and they're right. it should have been yesterday. >> reporter: the democratic
argument to strike don't ask, don't tell got a boost from a recent pentagon study in which two-third of american troops said changing the law would have little impact. vocal opponents led by senator john mccain pleaded against making such a dramatic change during two wars. >> i've heard from thousands, thousands of active-duty and retired military personnel. i've heard from them. and they're saying, "senator mccain, it isn't broke. and don't fix it." >> reporter: today's vote is seen as a major victory for democrats who are still reilling from a painful november electi election. the bill cleared the house with a strong majority wednesday and president obama is expected to sign it into law next week. in a statement, the president said, "no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the thi they love." >> wow, what a day. >> reporter: a number of those servicemen and women were on hand at the capitol for the historic moment. more than 13, 000 have been
kicked out of the military since the law was enacted in 1993, but this afternoon, they got the last word. >> soon we can serve in the military without having to sacrifice our honor, our integrity, without having to lie every day about who we are. >> reporter: but change won't come overnight. following the president's signature, the pentagon will begin an implementation plan followed by a 60-day wait period. the defense secretary has said it could take up to a year before don't ask, don't tell is officially history. anthony. >> whit johnson in washington, thanks, whit. on another issue, senate republicans today blocked consideration of the so-called dream act which would have offered a path to legal status for illegal imgrants who were brought to america as children. to help us put today's senate votes and the rest of the week in focus we're joined in washington by political analyst john dickerson. good evening, john. >> reporter: good evening, anthony. >> john, how does today's vote on don't ask, don't tell, how do
you think it's going to affect the perception of the president? can we call this a win? >> it's definitely a civil rights win for him and a win with the liberals in his party who have been angry with him. they were angry on this issue in particular because they felt they weren't pushing hard enough. but the president's view was his calm deliberate effort worked. the white house is feeling like that strategy worked this time. >> reporter: earlier in the week, the president signed an extension of the bush-era tax cuts. he appears to be positions him as a champion of compromise. is there any evidence it's working? >> reporter: in this case, he put together an agreement with republicans, said he wanted congress to come along and they did. so in this case it works but one of the reasons it worked is is because they decided to forget about the budget deficit and they won't be able to do that next year. that will make a lot of the deals much harder because they will have to find a way to pay
for them making the kind of agreement that happened this time much, much harder. >> reporter: is it a reelection strategy judge it's a part reelection strategy because the president is looking for those in the middle and independents who want to see the president build consensus and that's what he did in this case. >> usually in lame duck session like this we see congress paralyzed. why has it been so productive this session? >> they had to pass of tax cuts. if there wasn't an agreement on the tax cuts everybody's taxes would have gone up and that would have been a disaster and you had things democrats wanted to bring up that actually delete sly had bipartisan support like don't ask, don't tell, and we're pretty far away from the next election so that makes politicians a little bit less nervous about the verdict from the voters. all of that may give some momentum to the last remaining issuees that will be brought up next week, the start treating looking like it might have a shot to go through, and then there's the bill that has to do with 9/11 first responders. that looks like it might have a more difficult time but there's
a little glimmer of hope that even that might make it through. >> all right, john dickerson in washington, thanks. >> reporter: thanks, anthony. >> it's the weekend before christmas, and all through the retailing world, there's growing confidence americans are finally willing to spend again. elaine quijano is watching shoppers rush home with their treasures in times square tonight. hi, elaine. >> reporter: hello to you, anthony. here in new york and across the country, retailers are making their big bush delete s-- push to lure last-minute shoppers and experts say this holiday season people are in a buying mood. with t-minus one week left until christmas, walter ho is just beginning to shop. he acknowledges he's cutting things close this year. you admit, you're kind of a procrastinator. >> i definitely am. >> do you want to see it. >> reporter: he's hard let's only one waiting until the final days. experts say at this point, most people still have half their holiday shopping lists left and retailers are responding with
promoigzs and-- promotions and discounts. analysts say consumer consumerse starting to give in to pent-up demand after years of economic uncertainty. >> last year there was a much greater sense of doom and gloom than we're seeing this year. >> reporter: and that consumer optimism could help boost bottom lines. the national retail federation recently revised its holiday sales forecast upwards from a 2.3% increase over last year to 3.3%. helping to drive those sales, technology like smart phones which allow shoppers to scan bar codes for instantaneous price comparisons. of the people who use mobile devices to shop this year, more than one out of four bought something using a smart phone. also driving consumption-- online sales which experts predict will jump this holiday shopping season. >> we expect internet sales to be up roughly 15% or 16% this year. clearly, consumers love using the internet.
>> reporter: yet consumer caution remains. experts say most shoppers will use cash or debit cards, not credit, to make their purchases. still, even the cautious are showing signs of confidence. you have one more purchase? >> one more. >> reporter: and what is that? >> a tv and that's a president for me. >> reporter: analysts say the big sellers are clothing, electronics and jewelry this year and demand for that merchandise is at all price points from discount throafl luxury. anthony. >> elaine quijano in times square, thanks, elaine. overseas, millions in britain and across europe had their christmas shopping and travel plans upset this weekend by an unusually heavy snowstorm. elizabeth palmer in london has more. >> reporter: now this is winter weather as europe seldom sees it. heavy snow has blanketed italy, belgium, germany, scandinavia, northern france and the u . k ., throwing people's travel plans into chaos. britain's major airports were
closed on and off all day saturday while staff battled to keep runways clear. london's heathrow is now closed and will remain that way at least until tomorrow. this is the weekend many passengers were hoping to fly home for the holidays. >> i'm a bit anxious but who will be will be. if it's canceled it's canceled. >> pretty frustrating at this point. just trying to get home before christmas. >> reporter: for many areas, it's the heaviest snowfall in decades, between eight and 10 inches in just a few hours. >> we were just outside of gatwick and there was nothing, and five minutes in it's a nightmare. >> reporter: of course, by the standards of the northern states or the midwest, this is nothing. and while most britons can rummage around in the closet and find matz and mitts, it's the local governments who cannot get enough sand and salt for the roads and of course they don't have the snow plows. as a result, in england traffic was snarled up for miles along major highways with cars in the ditch and several serious
accidents. anyone dreaming of a white christmas may be having second thoughts. elizabeth palmer, cbs news, london. >> he were at home, the obama administration plans to issue a fraud alert monday warning consumers to beware of scam artists offering fake federal grandz. delete s delete s delete s. >> you see right here-- >> delete s. >> reporter: it started with a phone call. alison and butch leckey couldn't believe their luck when they got a call last moch saying they had won a grant from the federal government. >> we were guaranteed a government brandt we would not have to pay back. it could be used for education-- basically whatever we need. >> reporter: all they had to do to collect their grant money was send a $99 donation to india. the washington state couple says it sounded like a good deal until the caller demand they
also wire a bank transfer fee and security deposit totaling almost $1650, 000. the leckeys were suspicious, but faced with expenses caring for a new grandchild, they sent the money. >> i kept telling him, this had better be true because we cannot afford to lose this money. i mean i was in there just really crying, you know, and he kept reassuring me. "it's okay, mrs. leckey. everything is going to be fine." >> reporter: the leckeys say the caller claimed to be working for the u.s. department of health and human services but that's not true and it angers hhs inspector general gerald roy. >> the scammers prey on a very, very vulnerable portion of our society and i more than willing to do something about that. >> reporter: the i . g .'s fraud hot line is tracking complaints from across the country about phony government grants. investigators say it's an old scam with a new tryst.
criminals are taking advantage of a down economy and government stimulus efforts to lure victims into thinking they can cash in. >> individuals have to recognize that no one from the federal government will be calling them and offering them a grant. that's not the way the grants presidency works. >> reporter: the i . g .s office is warning consumers to beware of grant officers. real government grants are typically awarded in a lengthy application process, to organizations, not individuals, with no fees. too late for the leckeys. they didn't get the grant lost all the money they sent up front putting them further behind on their bills and at risk for losing their home. >> and still ahead on tonight's cbs evening news, this boy was crippled by a gunman, so why won't the witnesses come forward
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>> bank of america announced today that it will no longer process payments for wick leaks. the bank joins paster card and paypal in shutting out the web site behind the release of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents. wickyleaks is preparing to release potentially damaging internal bank documents next year, possibly including some from bank of america. with just days to go, twen is on track to be another violent year in chicago. 412 murders were reported as of november, and if past is prologue, fewer than half of them will ever be solved. as cynthia bowers tells us, eyewitness silence is prustraighting the prosecution of a whole range of crimes. >> reporter: si six-year-old matrell stevens is adjusting to a different world, one in which he depends upon the strength of others and is still coming to grips with what happened to him. >> i got shot. >> reporter: the bullet punctured a lung and injured his
spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waste delete s waist down at the age of four. >> sometimes i have bad dreams. >> reporter: what do you dream about when it's bad? >> some people get shot on the street and they not be running. >> reporter: in may 2008 lakeesha rucker was leaving her mother's home in chicago's engelwood neighborhood. little matrell was asleep in the front seat of the car when the man opened fire. did you think you had lost him? >> yes, i didn't know what to do. >> reporter: today matrell has recovered some strength in his legs ( applause ) last year he even got the chance to participate in his kindergarten graduation. even, 000 the ruckers know who shot matrell the suspect has not been charged and even bragged about putting a child in a wheelchair. unless attempted murder charges are filed soon, the three-year statute of limitations expires this coming may. >> it don't make no sense because our own kids are getting hurt and no one is doing nothing
about it. >> reporter: key witnesses refused to cooperate, another example of a code of silence based on fear of retribution, distrust of the police or complete disengagement from the community. >> a lot of people just don't care. people don't care until it hits their front steps. >> reporter: in 2004, the police department solved 61% of all murders. in 2009, just 37%. the year matrell was shot, arrests were made in fiewrg than 200 of 511 murders. ronald holt heads the department's community initiative. his own son, blair, was gunned down in 2007 and he uses his loss to encourage others to keep their neighborhood safe. >> you have to be the one that says, "no person will be shot or killed on my block, in my alley, where i live." >> reporter: in an effort to slow the violence, police have moved 200 officers to high-crime areas, but that does little for
the rucker family. >> i want to put this behind me, and i can't put it behind me unless justice is served. >> reporter: before time and the chance for justice run out. cynthia bowers, cbs news, chicago. >> and we'll be back. and this life was made easier...healing ♪ making smiles appear again because of this life. nursing. at johnson & johnson, we salute all those who choose the life... that makes a difference. ♪ you're a nurse ♪ you make a difference
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>> the united nations security council has scheduled an emergency session tomorrow to discuss tensions between north and south korea. the meeting was "by russia, whose envoy said he is, "seriously concerned about possible further escalation on the peninsula." a legal victory for american amanda knox who is appealing her murder conviction in italy. the appeals court gave the go-ahead for an independent review of crucial d.n.a. evidence. knox was convicted of murdering her roommate and is serving a 26-year term in prison. in britain, prince william and his fiance, kate middleton, stepped out together in public tonight for the first time since announcing their engagement last month. the two attended a christmas variety show for a cancer charity. they'll be married next april. and this is the way millions of visitors view the majestic niagara falls but few have seen them this way. recently uncovered pictures show how the american side of the falls looked 41 years ago when
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season of giving, a few americans are going to extraordinary lengths to help people in a faraway country that you might think wouldn't even need our aid. celia hatten has their story. >> reporter: china's inner mongolia province hasn't seen a good harvest in years, but a local farmer is surviving after switching from crops to livestock. i can afford my daughter's tuition now, she says. she borrowed $750 through a microfinance charity run by 26-year-old american casey wilson. wokai matches online donors with aspiring chinese entrepreneurs from a tailor sewing traditional clothing in northern inner mongolia to dump ling makers in sichuan. >> you get to repay the capital and support someone new. >> reporter: while studying chinese in beijing, casey was inspired by a friend, a
restaurant worker trapped in poverty, earning $100 a month. >> the only difference between her and i is i was born in oakland, california, and she was worn delete s born in rural china. >> reporter: casey's inability to help her friend led her to launch wokai when just 23. china's economy is booming, but there's still plenty of poverty in a country where 470 million exist on less than $2 a day. so casey wilson and other young americans operating their own nonprofits in china have a huge need to fill. yoors native tom stader started his nonprofit, the library project, with just $500 in donations soon after moving to china in 2006. >> thank you. >> we almost went broke four fiems in the first two years. our donors just to the challenge, and they-- they saved us. >> reporter: using old and new books, tom's teams built 320
libraries in rural classrooms like this one in central china's province and underfunded schools like this on the fringes of beijing. "we can see the outside world via books" explains this boy. an entire listen, costing just $1500, can be a life changer. some children here have never seen a book with color pictures before. "sometimes i don't even feel hungry, as long as i'm reading," says this girl. an encouragement for tom. >> i think we're at 75, 000 children right now that have access to books. >> reporter: while many come to china to take advantage of its growing wealth, young americans like tom and casey are wear that not everyone's getting rich. they're eager to help those people to bloom as well. celia hatten, cbs news, beijing. >> and that's the cbs evening news. later on cbs "48 hours mystery." i'm anthony mason in new york. thanks for watching. good night.