tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC December 23, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
>> for lisa argen and all of us here, we'll see you at 6:00. tonight on "world news," double trouble. first, the weather, now, high gas prices. why you could be in for some wild and wildly expensive holiday travel this year. embassy alert. two bombs explode in embassies across rome. is al qaeda behind it? how serious is the holiday threat? we ask the vice president. checkpoint confidential. one fed up pilot captures a potentially dangerous gap in airport security on his cell phone and pays a steep price. soldiers' sacrifice. three military families face christmas far from their loved ones. but one marine creates a virtual delivery room just off the battlefield to watch his little girl's birth.
good evening. anyone driving home for christmas and so many more of us are this year, is in for sticker shock. the most expensive gas prices in more than two years. look at this. the price of gas inching up, penny by penny. a sneak attack. many drivers may have not noticed, but that's about to end. the average price of gas, now $3.01. the first time in history it's topped $3 a gallon at christmas time. linsey davis starts us off in new york tonight. and this is a big change, prices normally drop during the holidays. >> reporter: you're exactly right, and good evening to you, george. you know, here in new york you'll find some of the highest gas prices across the country. but the pain at the pump is starting to spread. and many americans this holiday, they're not just dealing with gas prices going up, but snow coming down. getting to grandma's house for the holidays has never been so expensive.
>> on a national average basis we have never paid $3 a gallon on christmas eve or on christmas. >> reporter: according to aaa, today, the national average for a regular gallon of gas crossed the milestone $3 mark for the first time in more than two years. that's up more than 13% from last december and 76% higher from december 2008. >> this is the only time we really travel. you can't afford gas and everything else. just makes it ridiculous. >> we want to travel. we know we have to pay for it. >> reporter: the rise in gas prices is most apparent in the west coast and the northeast. drivers can largely blame the rise in crude oil, which passed the $90 a barrel mark yesterday. >> it's very much a world demand phenomenon, and demand is growing at a healthy pace. >> reporter: while the increase in oil prices is an encouraging sign of growth, it could also slow down the recovery. but it doesn't seem to be putting the brakes on holiday travel. >> during challenging economic times, there's a battle between
the heartstrings and the pursestrings and usually the heartstrings will win out. >> reporter: aaa estimates more than 92 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holidays. that's more than a 3% increase from last year. 9 out of 10 of them will travel by car. almost 3 million will fly. a wintry mix is moving through the plains today and snow and ice are expected to wallop the nation's heartland tomorrow. that same storm will arrive in the mid-atlantic, just in time for a white christmas. so, george, the real travel nightmare may come actually the day after christmas. a major snowstorm is expected to develop off the coast, off the east coast, so, that means the trip back home for millions could be a mess. >> that's right. they've got it in the west, now it could be coming to the east. and we're going to go to california now. the rains have stopped, but the threat of mudslides has not. authorities warn they could be a worry for weeks to come. residents will barely be able to
clean up from this storm before the next one strikes. mike von fremd is in highland, california, tonight, and mike, you've got a sense of just how hard that cleanup is going to be. >> reporter: we really do, george. it's staggering to see this entire neighborhood just buried in mud. and look what's happening. it's beginning to harden. and officials say just trying to clean up the outside of this community could take weeks. after a week of torrential rain, biblical flooding and noxious mudslides, california's beaches are now contaminated with debris, pest side pesticides and bacteria that gushed into the pacific. inland, no place was hit harder than here in highland, where the storm creek burst and people could not even open their doors. >> we stepped onto the window into the water and the water went up to here. >> reporter: just sounds horrifying. >> it was. i thought we were going to die. >> just get your stuff and get out. >> reporter: tell me the thing you lost that hurts the most. >> my home. i've been here 30-some years and
i paid for my house. >> reporter: many do not yet know if they're be allowed to rebuild. in fact, when this family came home today to try to salvage their christmas presents, officials had some tough news. >> this is a mandatory evac. please stay out of your homes. the sheriffs are coming. >> reporter: people cannot even check on their animals. prison work crews are trying to dig out all the trapped vehicles, but it will take time to see if they're salvageable. the bottom line here is that people escaped with just the clothes on their back and say they're grateful. this is going to be a pretty tough christmas. >> yeah. but it can all be replaced, so -- >> reporter: you've got a strong attitude. >> it will be okay. as long as we're all safe. >> reporter: now, state officials say it's too soon to determine just how much monetary damage this storm has done. unfortunately, as you said, george, there's another pacific storm on the way. >> okay, mike, thanks. there was a scare in europe today when small package bombs exploded at two foreign embassies. first, the swiss, then the
chilean. and while some italian anarchists have claimed responsibility for these attacks, miguel marquez reports they come during a holiday season when security officials around the world are on high alert for an al qaeda attack. >> reporter: the first bomb exploded around noon. an embassy employee opening a small package, about the size of a videocassette. the bomb detonated in his hands, badly injuring him. the second bomb, a couple hours later, a similar package. this time, the chilean embassy. again, the only person injured, the mailroom worker opening it. u.s. authorities say no suspicious packages were found at its embassy in rome, but today's bombings are similar to others across europe. last month, in athens, greece, crude package bombs were sent to the swiss, russian, german, bulgarian and chilean embassies. none of those bombs caused injury or major damage. but these package bombs come at a sensitive time for authorities here. like the u.s., countries across europe have remained on high alert, concerned about suicide
or mumbai-style attacks on busy holiday streets. this week, british police arrested 12 men suspected of planning a major attack and earlier this month, two simultaneous explosions rocked downtown stockholm, sweden. a car bomb and suicide bomber. only the bomber was killed but two people were injured. a lucky break. with countries across europe on high alert, officials are counting on more than luck to thwart any large-scale terror attacks. miguel marquez, abc news, rome. homeland security officials here in the u.s. are working overtime, too, but when i spoke with vice president biden earlier today, he told me that today's attacks didn't seem to be the work of islamic militants and he offered some reinsurance to americans worried about the al qaeda threat this christmas. i was really struck this week when the attorney general eric holder was talking to our pierre thomas. he seemed as concerned about a possible strike as i've ever seen him.
have you seen a threat level like this since you've been vice president? >> well, yes, but look george. i like to put this in perspective. i don't want the american people starting off on their holiday, thinking, oh, my god, i can't travel to mom's or i shouldn't be doing this. i think they should go about their business in the way they've been doing it. it's not as though there's some massive strike that we think is imminent. >> you can watch much more of my interview with the vice president tomorrow on "gma," including his take on the bipartisan cooperation in the lame duck session of congress that just ended will continue in the new year. the president called that progress proof we're not doomed to endless grid lock. but for a somewhat more down beat analysis, listen to what four members of congress, who won't be returning to capitol hill, told jonathan karl. >> reporter: they come from different parts of the country and have vastly different political views, but this group, two republicans, two democrats, has a stark warning for the new congress. >> congress is more dysfunctional today than when i
got here 16 years ago, and probably more dysfunctional than at any time in the 53 years i've been alive. >> reporter: but that's an amazing statement. you say that this congress is more dysfunctional than any you've seen in your whole -- entire life. >> yeah, i think so. yeah. >> reporter: how so? >> well, we're not passing budgets. we've not moving appropriations bills, we're not blocking and tackling, because the division is so great, it doesn't do them any good to bring it up. and therefore, we're not even rubbing the trains on time. the last four years have been pretty ugly. >> reporter: do you agree with that? >> it's very difficult. you know? my background's a social worker. and i thought, "well, i have pretty good people skills." well, it's run up against a wall. a wall of people refusing to even sit down and start to talk about an issue. >> reporter: they say hyper-partisan news has fueled hyper-partisan politics. >> 24/7 news has not helped, either. i mean, all these talking heads that appear to be experts, you know, this is dumbing down america to the lowest common
denominator. >> people are basically getting the news they want to hear. the stove piping of news is making it hard to elect centrists, who i think are critical of the functioning of our checks and balances form of democracy. >> reporter: it's almost like each side can work with their own set of facts. >> i worry about what is going to happen when new members of congress come with a very inflammatory point of view in terms of how we have to change everything, not speak to each other or whatever, i mean, i know i suffered in my primary defeat on the basis that i had supported some democratic legislation, supported the president from time to time, and that was treated as a great sin. >> thanks to jon karl for that roundtable, even though the message was a bit bleak. and with congress adjourned, president obama touched down in hawaii today for his annual vacation with the first family, including bo. he also leaked a preview of his beach reading. it's a biography of the republican president he said transformed america.
"ronald reagan, role of a lifetime," by lou cannon. and still ahead on "world news," the pilot who exposed a huge flaw in airport security with his cell phone. now the tsa is going after him. our reporter takes the top road trip songs ever for a spin. is your favorite on the list? and, the view of war you'll never forget. marines at war, still connecting any way they can with their families back home. could switching to geico really save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance? does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist? patient: and that's why yellowmakes me sad. i think. sarge: that's interesting. you know what makes me sad? you do! maybe we should chug on overto mambie pambie land where maybe we can find some self-confidence for you. ya jackwagon! tissue? crybaby. geico.
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and save on refills. grainy videos exposing a potentially dangerous flaw in airport security have prompted the tsa to take action -- against the whistle blower who made them. a pilot used his cell phone camera to document the security lapse, but now he's the one in hot water. david muir joins us now. on the face of it, this doesn't seem fair, but what's going on here? >> reporter: yeah, it would seem that way to a lot of people, george. this pilot is under fire, as you know, with the transportation security administration, because the videos he did postonline, he'd actually been one of the pil pilots the tsa chose to arm with a gun in the cockpit to help secure the skies. but the cell phone videos, the tsa clearly believes, went too far. >> this is obviously san francisco. >> reporter: the 50-year-old california pilot, who has asked that his name and airline not be identified, took these pictures. >> airport security is kind of a farce. it's only smoke and mirrors. >> reporter: to make his case,
he compared this security checkpoint, the one we all go through, pilots and crew included, with this one, for the airport ground crew. >> this is their screen, as you can see, there's only a card slide and one door. >> reporter: that system, a swipe of an i.d. card, has been reported on before in the wake of 9/11, and it continues. but this pilot was hoping his videos would call attention to what he considered a huge disparity in security. three days after he posted them, four federal air marshals showed up at his house. they confiscated his federally issued gun. today, he decided to explain himself to us and our abc affiliate wxtv. >> i just saw the whole fallacy of the whole system. you know, people don't understand that when they walk through the tsa checkpoints, all those people that you see outside, all the ground personnel, you get virtually nothing. >> reporter: aviation expert john nance is not comfortable with what this pilot did. i know you think the judgment is questionable, but as a pilot
yourself, you can sense a similar frustration when you see the disparity? >> you've got folks that can just swipe a card and go in or out. but what we don't want to do is wave a red flag to the enemies. and say, hey, take a look at this vulnerability. >> reporter: he suggests the pilot might have done this on his own instead of so publicly. the pilot himself is in trouble with the tsa and the tsa tells us that the pilot must be able to maintain sensitive security information and that's as far as they would go with this case. >> and that's a fair point and that's what john nance is saying, as well. but do the ground crews have less security screening than the pilots? less security screening than the pilots? >> reporter: it would seem that way with the cell phone video, but the tsa said, they are confident in the tools the airport implemented, saying there are security measures in place both seen and unseen. so, they stand by that swipe card technique. >> they don't want to reveal what those measures are. okay, david muir, thanks very much. when we return, a little traveling music. our reporter tallies the all-time top road trip songs.
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there was a royal controversy in britain today over, of all things, a new coin honoring prince william's engagement. check it out. does that look like his bride to be kate middleton? critics say it makes her seem older and chunkier. but the royal mint says both william and the queen signed off on the design. they didn't mention kate. all of you find yourself traveling this holiday will likely turn on some music at some point to smooth over the hassles. what's a road trip without road music? and, since just about everything is polled these days, we now know which songs get our motors running more than others. john berman rocks along with the results. >> reporter: the holiday getaway. yes, it can sound like this -- but it can also sound like this, if you're almost famous. ♪ hold me closer >> reporter: this in "wayne's world." ♪ >> reporter: and this is "a sure
thing." ♪ you belong to me >> come on, everybody. >> reporter: but what is our absolutely favorite road trip song? ♪ on the road again. >> reporter: according to a poll by pioneer electronics, it is "on the road again. also on the list, "free falling." ♪ i'm free >> reporter: hopefully sung better than jerry maguire. the poll does have some interesting tidbits. for instance, here in the northeast, our favorite song is -- ♪ born to be wild >> reporter: because what's more wild than this? ♪ born to be wild >> reporter: my friends from kiss make the list. ♪ i want to rock and roll all night ♪ >> reporter: yes, a good road song can make all the differences. ♪ maybe too much of a difference. just ask gayle king. ♪ because you love me
>> when you get somewhere, you're about to get out of the car and they're about to play a song you really like, i can't leave. >> reporter: remember, it may take awhile to get to your christmas vacation. so, on behalf of abc news and clark griswold, happy holidays, and safe travels. ♪ fa la la la la la la la la take it, russ! >> reporter: john berman, abc news, new york. and when we come back, unforgettable images. what happened when our cameras followed three marines at war and their families back home. c. and when it does, men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use. ♪ cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day so you can be ready anytime the moment's right. ♪ tell your doctor about your medical condition and all medications, and ask if you're healthy enough for sexual activity.
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bob woodruff tells their story. >> reporter: this is the bokros family living just outside of columbus, ohio. >> you're my special guy. >> reporter: they had almost no experience with the military until their 21-year-old son, dan, joined lima company, and got the word he was heading to afghanistan. >> my child's going to war. i'm not okay. it's just a little knot that's in your stomach, and i don't think it's going to go away until you come home. >> reporter: it's what we heard over and over from these families. after all, lima company was the hardest hit unit in the iraq war five years ago. 23 killed, 40 injured. >> am i going to get a phone call next week, next month? is there going to be two marines knock on my door? you never know. >> reporter: staff sergeant dan blackwell and his wife jackie have three young children. is your daddy in the army or the marines? >> the marines. >> reporter: you like the marines? >> they're the good ones. >> reporter: they're the good ones. in afghanistan, staff sergeant bla blackwell told us his biggest
concern is his 3-year-old son logan, born with a rare disease that required a transplant of his intestines. >> my son's in the hospital, and that bothers me. i would much rather be with him. >> reporter: now logan is in serious condition at a hospital in cincinnati. >> oh. this is why i hate seeing you like this. >> reporter: when's he going to come out? >> i'm hoping before christmas, but i'm not sure. he's having a little bit of a setback again. you look so tired. >> reporter: then there is sergeant ken pompilli and his wife melanie, expecting their first child. >> i'll be due during the middle of his deployment. we actually had to set up the crib before he left so -- i'm sorry. >> reporter: so he sets up a mobile command center inside his armored vehicle to witness the birth via skype. >> you're doing good, baby. she sounds like she's in a lot of pain. it's hard for me to be here and not be able to be there for her
and comfort her. >> reporter: and then, 17 hours later, the final push. >> she's so beautiful. she's beautiful, ken, just beautiful. >> just like her mom. >> that's a pretty baby. >> she's adorable, daddy. >> hi, riley. >> reporter: at opposite ends of the earth -- >> i just can't wait to get out of here. i want to go home to her. i want to see her. >> reporter: life -- >> happy new year, i love you. >> reporter: -- just goes on, until the day they come home. what are you going to say to him when he comes back from afghanistan? >> welcome home, daddy. >> reporter: "welcome home, daddy." bob woodruff, abc news, columbus, ohio. >> how grateful we all should be for their sacrifice. that's our show for tonight. for dian next at 6:00 a show of simpopathy at napa state hospital for a murdered employee who showed up in search for answers. >> massive sewage spill in marin county. new evidence into what may have caused it. >> and who is demanding
surveillance cameras be installed on a campus? >> anniversary of a holiday trang di. after 6:30 the deadly plane crash into a bay area mall and the wounds that still haven't healed. tonight there is new scrutiny of napa state hospital after a deadly attack there. >> a harsh assessment from two lawmaker who's tour that had facility today. the hospital has been on lock down since the murder of donna gross in october. the patient has been charged in this case. wayne freedman is live with the results of the visit. wayne? >> abc 7 news has been documenting problems and complaints for years now. and this hospital has not always been forth coming but today had a visit from two