tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS September 14, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
jerry brown the knowledge and know-how to get california working again. >> couric: tonight, an american held by iran for more than a year is finally released for health reasons, but her two friends, including her fiance, remain in custody, accused of spying. i'm katie couric. also tonight, a life insurance giant profiting from the death benefits of fallen heroes. now it turns out the v.a. not only knew about it but agreed to it. the other oil spill. michigan homeowners say the owner of a ruptured pipeline deceived them into signing away their rights. and a photographer who won the trust of civil rights leaders is exposed as a paid f.b.i. informant. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric.
>> couric: good evening, everyone. for three american families there was joy mixed with heart break today. iran finally released sarah shourd, a native of los angeles, who had been held for more than a year on spy charges. she was freed for medical reasons after $500,000 in bail money was deposited in an iranian bank. it's not clear who paid. but iran continues to hold two of her friends, including her fiance. in a moment we'll hear from a family member. but first, elizabeth palmer on the latest turn in this long- running drama. >> reporter: free at last. after 410 days of imprisonment, sarah shourd arrived in the gulf state of oman, safely back in the arms of her mother. in iran just hours before, shourd had left prison with a police escort to face one last hurdle before her flight out. staying on message with the local media. >> i especially and particularly
want to address president ahmadinejad and all of the iranian officials, the religious leaders and thank them for this humanitarian gesture. >> reporter: then a bittersweet good-bye since shourd leaves behind in jail her two fellow americans. >> my first priority is to help my fiance shane bauer and my friend josh fattal to gain their freedom because they don't deserve to be in prison anymore. >> reporter: all three were last seen together in may when they were allowed a short visit withi their mothers who had traveled to iran from the united states. during that visit, shourd announced she would marry bauer who, while in jail, had made an engagement ring with threads from his shirt.ñi it was in july, 2009, when the three americans on a tour of the middle east went hiking near a waterfall on the iran/iraq border. they were arrested for crossing into iran illegally and sent to jail accused of spying. a year later, sarah shourd's mother made a special appeal for her daughter's release.
>> she has a precancerous condition and i'm actually worried this young woman is going to get cancer for real. >> reporter: iran's president, mahmoud ahmadinejad, may have heard that plea. he announced he'd free shourd on saturday. but the plan was delayed by his political enemies wanting to embarrass him. they insisted in the end on half a million dollars bail. sarah shourd and her family know they're the lucky ones. there is no talk of bail or freedom for the other two american prisoners tonight still in jail in iran. as for that half a million dollars bail, well, the shourd family says they didn't put up the money and the u.s. government didn't, either. so who really did remains a mystery. katie? >> couric: elizabeth palmer, thank you. alex fattal is the brother of josh fattal, one of the two hikers still being held in iran. alex, what is your reaction to sarah's release? i know all the families are very close. >> yeah.
well, we're overjoyed to see her out. she's had a long and difficult detention, 14 months solitary confinement so it's wonderful she is free. of course we wish she was out with josh and shane. >> couric: i know that it's been reported that the iranians asked for $500,000 in bail for her release and that money was deposited in an iranian bank. do you know who paid for this, if money exchanged hands? >> we really don't have any information about that. >> couric: we see josh in this photograph wearing the green t- shirt. have you heard anything from iranian officials about his possible release? >> no, we haven't heard anything about that. the last thing he said to sarah's mother nora when the mothers were leaving iran was "we're all brothers and sisters, our families are all connected." and that is certainly true. we share in nora's joy and sarah's joy and the fact that they can finally be in their embrace and we just yearn for that as well. >> couric: your mom last saw josh in may.
any news about his condition? how is he doing then and do you know anything about how he's doing now? >> we have not heard from sarah as to the latest on josh and shane. we're worried about the psychological condition. so long not knowing about their case is very difficult, the isolation they've experienced. so we're worried about them. we continue to worry about their emotional well-being and we really don't have any information. >> couric: alex fattal, alex, thank you so much. meanwhile, in this country, it is seven weeks till the midterm elections with control of congress at stake and the primary season coming to a close with contests today in seven states as well as the district of columbia. in one key race, delaware's republican senate primary pits congressman mike castle against christine o'donnell who is backed by sarah palin and the tea party. the republican establishment fears a victory by o'donnell would jeopardize the g.o.p.'s chances of winning back vice
president biden's old seat and control of the senate. and in new york city, 20-term democratic congressman charles rangel facing ethics charges is being challenged by adam clayton powell, iv. now a major development in a story we first reported earlier this summer about life insurance policies for members of the u.s. military and the company that provides them. prudential has sold six million of the policies, but as bloomberg markets magazine revealed in its september issue, when a claim is filed, the money goes into a prudential account and the insurance company continues to collect interest on it. and now bloomberg has discovered the government was aware of this and, in fact, signed off on it. revelations that the country's second-largest life insurer was profiting from the death benefits of fallen soldiers was news to almost everyone-- from military family members... >> i was stunned to realize that i had been duped. >> couric: ...to the secretary of defense.
>> i actually believed that the families of our fallen heroes got a check for the full amount. >> couric: but it wasn't news to the u.s. department of veterans affairs. in fact, in september of last year the v.a. amended its contract with prudential, contract with prudential, ratifying what had been a ten-year-long verbal agreement: to allow the insurance company to retain lump sum death benefits of soldiers and deposit that money into its own accounts >> the v.a. has a very solemn obligation to make sure that for-profit companies do not take advantage of the government or grieving families. >> couric: some beneficiaries who checked "lump sum" on this v.a. claim form expected to receive a check. instead, they received a checkbook and a packet from prudential saying the money has been placed in a secure interest-bearing alliance account. but the funds are held in the company's own general corporate account. some years prudential earned
almost 5% interest while paying survivors less than 1%. >> so from 1999 until 2009-- a ten-year period-- prudential was sending out checkbooks holding on to billions of dollars of survivors' money, even though the contract required them to send out checks. >> couric: which may make the insurance giant vulnerable to lawsuits according to at least one legal professor. >> i think the policyholders have a great legal claim to get back the difference in the interest and they may have a claim for punitive damages as well. >> couric: but prudential insists an alliance account is a lump sum distribution permitted under the contract, pointing out that beneficiaries can withdraw their money at any time. and at least one federal judge agreed, dismissing a claim last december. nevertheless, the department of veterans affairs today announced a list of reforms to its group life insurance programs vowing to provide better clarity of payment options to the families of fallen soldiers.
and for a list of the policy changes the v.a. is putting in place, you can go to our web site, cbsnews.com. in other news, it's that time of year when kids get their pencils sharpened, shoes shined and head back to school. and today part of their curriculum was a pep talk from president obama. the venue, the masterman school in philadelphia, ranked one of the top high schools in the country. his message: your future is in your hands. >> and nothing-- absolutely nothing-- is beyond your reach. so long as you're willing to dream big, so long as you're willing to work hard, so long as you're willing to stay focused on your education, there's not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish. >> couric: the president said the success of our students will help determine the success of the country. now, if that's the case, we have plenty of home work to do if we want american schools to compete with others all around the world. tonight, national correspondent jim axelrod launches our new series of education "reading,
writing and reform." >> let's go, let's go! >> reporter: in every town in america, the back-to-school rush is on. in croton, new york, the arturo brothers are already cracking the books. >> for three children for the amount of taxes we pay i think we're getting a very good deal. >> reporter: the public schools have done right by the arturos. but that's not the case across the board says education consultant mark schneider. >> our top students are just not world class anymore. >> reporter: that's right. of 30 comparable countries, we rank near the bottom. take math. finland is first followed by south korea, and there we are, number 25. same story in science. finland number one again, the u.s., number 21. where do we outrank the other countries? the amount we spend per student, just over $129,000 from k to 12, the others average $95,000. >> we have world-class
expenditures and not world-class results. >> reporter: for instance, when it comes to high school graduation rates, the u.s. is 20th on the list. germany, japan, south korea, the u.k. all do better with graduation rates of 90% or more. here? it's 75%. it's not so much that we slowed down during the last half a century, it's more that other countries sped up. >> we need more octane now. the rest of the world is running faster than we are because they looked at what we did, they took what was good about us and added to it. >> reporter: education experts like amy wilkins say top- performing countries recruit teachers from the top of their college classes. south korea number two in math gets teachers from the top 5% of graduating college seniors. finland, number one in math and science, the top 10%. >> the consensus is that the most important ingredient in what works is the quality of the student's teacher. >> reporter: the u.s. has one of the shorter school years, 180
days versus 220 for south korea. research shows teachers spend up to six weeks re-teaching what kids forgot over the summer. so a shorter break may be better. >> we've gotten stuck in the old norms-- the world has changed, and our schools have not kept up. >> reporter: now the numbers suggest might be the time for a new lesson plan. jim axelrod, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and one more note about education. a real milestone for women in this country, last year for the first time women earned more doctorates than men did. just over half of all ph.d.s went to women, so did 60% of master's degrees. women were more likely to get advanced degrees in education and health sciences while men were dominant in engineering, math, and computer science. still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," a renown photographer who got up close and personal with the leaders of the civil rights movement was actually an informant for the
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there was another oil spill that got far less attention. a pipeline rupture in michigan caused the biggest spill the midwest has ever seen. fish died, birds were covered in oil and residents worried about their own health. now those same residents are complaining about questionable tactics by the company that owns the pipeline. our chief investigative correspondent armen keteyian has this exclusive report. >> reporter: historic marshall, michigan, has long been known as a fountain of old-world charm. but now it's stuck in a river of trouble. >> the whole creek was solid packed full of oil. >> reporter: solid? >> solid. >> reporter: on the morning of july 26, part of the world's longest petroleum pipeline, stretching 1,900 miles between the u.s. and canada ruptured, pouring at least 800,000 gallons of crude in the waterway surrounding this town. fouling the air with a noxious
odor, threatening the water and, as seen in this home video, drenching local wildlife. now, that mess has turned into another one. the canadian energy giant that owns the pipeline, enbridge, is accused of deceptive tactics by dozens of homeowners affected by the spill. >> they don't know what they're signing, and they sign a lot of their rights if they don't know what they're signing. >> reporter: in a giant investigation with the center for public integrity, cbs news obtained these two documents. one is this settlement form. some residents claim the company coerced them to sign it for a $300 air purifier and some evacuation expenses. in exchange releasing enbridge from and against all liability, claims and actions. the company disputes that. the other document was this release form, allowing enbridge access to any and all medical records, one that had to be signed, residents claim, before enbridge would pay for a visit to a clinic. residents in this mobile home
park charge they were deceived by enbridge. >> it was more or less sign your name here and, you know, you're done. >> reporter: now the company's alleged actions have the head of a powerful congressional committee, outraged. >> this is exploitation of unknowing and unskilled people who've never had to face a situation like this before. >> reporter: terri larson is a spokesperson for enbridge. why in the world would you ask people of this community to sign those forms? >> they're standard forms. there is nothing abnormal about the forms. >> reporter: but the federal government says there's nothing standard about them. expressing concern in this letter that enbridge's medical form authorized the disclosure of an inappropriately broad amount of medical information. are you familiar with the word that the department of health and human services used in conjunction with that form? >> no. >> reporter: "deplorable." that's the word they used. what do you say to that? >> again, it's a standard form. i mean, we're... our... our
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most famous landmarks. the eiffel tower in paris was evacuated after someone phoned in a bomb threat. 2,000 people were cleared out while police checked the tower. later across town a metro station was evacuated because of a second bomb threat. but no devices were found at either location. in amsterdam today, police arrested an airline pilot from the united states. they say he was drunk in the cockpit. he'd already pulled away from the gate with a jet full of passengers when the police, acting on a tip, intercepted the plane. the police did not identify the airline but delta canceled a flight from amsterdam to newark saying a member of the crew was "unfit for duty." for a college football player, nothing compares to winning the heisman trophy, but reggie bush said today he's giving his back. no one has ever done that before. now an n.f.l. star, bush won the 2005 heisman while playing at u.s.c. investigators later found he
accepted improper gifts from agents while at the school. this past june, the n.c.a.a. stripped u.s.c. of 14 victories, games that bush played in, including a national championship. president obama has already authored two best-sellers, now he's coming out with a children's book. it's called "of thee i sing, a letter to my daughters" and it tells the stories of 13 ground- breaking americans including george washington and jackie robinson. the book is due out in november and if you're wondering when the president found time to write it, the publisher says he finished the manuscript before he took office. we'll be right back. ♪ [ male announcer ] ever have morning pain slow you down? ♪ introducing bayer am, an extra strenength pain relier with alertness aid, specially formulated to fight morning pain and fatigue. ♪ so get up and get goin'! with new bayer am. the morning pain reliever.
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you can stop that heartburn cold: (sssssssss!!!) zantac. minutes. next on cbs 5. why is it so hard to find the gas pipeline maps? at 6 >> couric: we end tonight with a surprising postscript to history. mark strassmann tells us a photographer who documented the civil rights movement and won the trust of its leaders was also apparently spying on them for the f.b.i. >> reporter: in the 1960s fight for civil rights, images like these helped doctor martin luther king win his movement. powerful images, poignant images and others intimate. all the work of the late ernest withers, considered the original civil rights photographer. >> well, he was a... one of the best photographers that you want to know. and loved the movement. >> reporter: or did he? the memphis "commercial appeal"
has unearthed secret f.b.i. files. withers was also a paid snitch, selling information and photographs to the feds. one entry "dr. king checked into the lorraine motel prior to going to a strategy meeting." it was april 3, 1968, the day before king was murdered. the files refer to withers as "m.e.338-r." the "r" stood for "racial informant. >> it's an act of betrayal to even let the f.b.i. think that they could get someone from among us to do us harm. >> reporter: in the late '60s, f.b.i. director j. edgar hoover seemed determined to destroy dr. king. everyone in the within the movement's leadership knew it. >> we always operated under the assumption that we were under the microscope and that our telephones were tapped. >> reporter: withers marched
with dr. king, ate with him, sat in on strategy sessions with leaders of the movement. a known and trusted face, he had access and a camera. withers' daughter is as shocked as everyone. >> out of character for my father. that's not a representative of who he was as a man and what he stood for. >> reporter: memphis planned to open an earnest withers museum next month. his photos so powerfully clear but not his motives. mark strassmann, cbs news, atlanta. >> couric: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. firstname.lastname@example.org there is a plane down. we're setting up multiple responses. >> go to a third alarm. we have multiple houses. we are trying to get close. we have possible several blocks fire at this time. >> call for fourth alarm. it appears we have a plane down in a neighborhood. multiple structures on fire and we have a fireball still coming out. >> cut that engine! we have no water at the hydrant. we need to have it fed into us. >> severe third-degree burns at the 1500 block of claire months. we will require an ambulance at that location. >> from engine 51 we're going to disconnect hose lines and back up into a