tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS October 20, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
>> couric: tonight, as america's biggest bank gets ready to start seizing homes again, the obama administration vows to crack down on any lender violating foreclosure rules. i'm katie couric. also tonight, reopening an old wound-- a surprise phone call from the wife of supreme court justice clarence thomas to his old nemesis, anita hill, is not well received. six months after the b.p. spill, many have already forgotten, but they can't. and for victims of gay bullying, a message from people who have been there. 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. after a moratorium on foreclosures, bank of america and g.m.a.c. are about to begin repossessing homes again. "b" of "a" insists, despite paperwork errors no one lost a home wrongfully, but an investigation by 50 state attorneys general is just getting under way. the obama administration warned lenders today they'll be held accountable for any violations of the law, and new york became the first state to require lawyers representing banks in foreclosures to sign a form verifying all the paperwork is accurate. all this bill whitaker reports against the backdrop of a growing backlash against the banks. >> reporter: around chicago, where foreclosures have mushroomed in two years, the county sheriff today refused to act on bank's orders to put 1,500 homeowners out of their homes, reviewing almost 400 foreclosures, he found only 17
with proper paperwork. >> before i am asked to put more families out on the streets, i am going to require the banks to tell me one basic thing: that it is all legal. >> reporter: in newport beach, california, renee zapeta was arrested trying to break back into his house after the bank evicted his family. he's still fighting the bank. >> i feel like it still is my house because it is my house. >> reporter: across the country, the foreclosure mess is sparking a consumer backlash. >> illegal procedures must be stopped today. >> reporter: not only was paperwork unreliable, but homeowners attorney dustin zacks says mortgages were bundled, sold and resold so many times during the housing bubble, not even the banks know who owns millions of mortgages. he says it's too soon to lift the foreclosure suspension. >> it's surprising that a bank would think in two weeks they can review all the ownership
documents and all the proprietary information to prove that they own these loans in just a couple of weeks. >> reporter: now, bank investors are crying foul, too. a growing number who bought mortgage-backed securities is complaining the securities were full of bad loans to homeowners who couldn't afford them, made by bankers who should have known better. investors holding $50 billion of securities told bank of america this week they intend to get their money back. >> what the investor is saying, look, i bought this loan from you in good faith, but you cheated me. >> reporter: now a slew of federal agencies are investigating the crisis. the f.b.i. is checking whether banks' actions were criminal. that's why federal officials involved in housing met at the white house today. >> there are law enforcement agencies that are involved, but they are looking at allegations of fraud. and that is part of the review, but that's only one part of it. >> reporter: and analysts say this crisis probably won't peak until some time next year, which
means this foreclosure mess is likely to get messier still. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker, bill, thanks very much. it was the mortgage meltdown that touched off the worldwide economic crisis and many countries are still struggling to recover. today britain's new conservative government outlined the sharpest cuts in public spending in six decades, the equivalent of $135 billion over the next five years. experts on both sides of the atlantic will be watching carefully to see if that kind of severe belt tightening can cure an ailing economy. from london, here's mark phillips. >> reporter: it's a high-stakes roll of the economic dice involving massive spending cuts and huge job losses, necessary cuts, the government says. >> and we've taken our country back from the brink of bankruptcy. >> reporter: a brink approach because of britain's huge public deficit. more than 12% of its total economy, compared to a u.s. deficit of about 9.5%.
the cuts: britain's home office which oversees police and prisons, will see its budget slashed 24%. education, down 3%. transport, down 15%. defense, down 8%. a cut so serious, 42,000 soldiers and civilians that prime minister david cameron called president obama to assure him britain could continue its war effort in afghanistan. the projected government job losses-- 490,000, about one in 10 government workers. the british government is gambling that as the economy improves, the private business will grow to make up for the government job losses. but critics say it's a risky bet and that the cuts could force a second recessionary dip and that the british pound may start to look like this. >> the deepest cuts to public spending in living memory.
>> reporter: britain has now become a test case as to whether cutting a country's deficit fixes its economy or makes it worse. mark phillips, cbs news, london. >> couric: in other news, anyone who sat through the confirmation hearings for clarence thomas back in 1991 will remember it was one of the stranger episodes in american history. now all these years later, what some would call an equally strange sequel. a phone call from justice thomas' wife to the woman who accused him at those hearings of sexual harassment, anita hill. here's chief legal correspondent jan crawford. >> reporter: anita hill was back in the spotlight today. surrounded by reporters asking if she would apologize to clarence thomas and his wife. >> i need for you to get out the street. i don't have any comment right now. >> reporter: 19 years ago, anita hill first stepped into the media spotlight when she accused supreme court nominee clarence thomas, her former boss, of
sexual harassment. >> he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters. >> reporter: hill's sensational charges captivated the country, and nearly derailed his nomination to the supreme court. thomas flatly denied the allegations. >> it is a high-tech lynching. >> reporter: the senate went on to confirm him, but the scars remained, proving that time does not heal all wounds, last week, mrs. thomas called anita hill, now a professor at brandeis university, to ask for an apology. mrs. thomas said in a voice mail, "i would love you to consider an apology some time and some full explanation of why you did what you did to my husband." in an interview three years ago, ginni thomas told me a similar wish. >> i think she owes us an apology, and i look forward to receiving that phone call or that visit one day. >> reporter: but since that interview, ginni thomas, once the silent spouse, has come under scrutiny. she formed a grass-roots
conservative group and speaks at tea party conventions. her call to anita hill came the same morning the "new york times" published a story questioning her political activities as the wife of a supreme court justice. now, a week after she got that call, hill contacted local police and asked them to alert the f.b.i., she said yesterday in a statement that she thought the call was inappropriate and that she was not going to apologize because she had nothing to apology for. katie? >> couric: jan crawford, jan, thank you. now to the battle over the fate of don't ask, don't tell, the law that prevented gays from serving openly in the military. today, the obama administration asked a federal appeals court for permission to resume enforcing the law, at least for now. the president does want the law repealed, but he wants it done gradually, and according to a cbs poll, most americans have no problem with gays serving openly. as david martin reports, these are confusing times for military recruiters and those who want to serve.
>> reporter: recruiting stations suddenly became ground zero in the battle over gays in uniform as, like it or not, they began processing applications from gay recruits. but gay advocate aaron belkin warns it won't last long. the don't ask, don't tell law, which bars gays from serving openly, will be back. >> for any gay or lesbian person who decides to enlist in the military right now, there's a likelihood that don't ask, don't tell will be reinstated and that probably means that the individual would not be able to enlist. >> reporter: obama administration lawyers asked an appeals court to suspend the ruling that declared don't ask, don't tell unconstitutional saying it would cause significant immediate harm to the military. for gays like this air force officer who calls himself j.d. smith, it's still not safe to come out. >> i think what needs to happen is someone like secretary gates or high-level leadership has to say it's okay to come out now. >> reporter: former army lieutenant dan choi, who was discharged for being gay, applied to rejoin the army. >> i talked about being gay.
i said i'm gay, and i was kicked out under don't ask, don't tell, and they said it was great to have you and it's wonderful that you're here, and they were absolutely professional. >> reporter: except choi has an arrest record for chaining himself to the white house fence to protest don't ask, don't tell and would need a waiver. enlisting is a process that can take days, weeks, even months to complete the physical and mental exams before recruits actually take the oath as they did at this public swearing in at a rodeo. >> couric: david martin reporting from the pentagon tonight, thank you. now, turning to campaign 2010, for his first two years in the white house, president obama has had the advantage of a house and senate controlled by his own party. but with that now in jeopardy, the president hit the campaign trail in an effort to save as many democratic seats as possible.
five states in four days, beginning tonight in oregon and ending saturday in minnesota. control of congress will be decided by dozens of house and senate races we've identified as critical contests. in the house, republicans need to pick up 39 seats now held by democrats to reach the 218 it takes to become the majority. and they have a good shot at that; they're favored or have an even shot at winning at least that many democratic seats. meanwhile, in the senate, the republicans would need a net gain of 10 seats to reach the magic number of 51, and they're targeting 12 democratic seats currently in jeopardy. three are in states where hispanics will be a key factor, california, colorado and nevada. two years ago, hispanics helped president obama win all three of those states. john blackstone reports now on the growing political clout of latinos. >> reporter: with a mariachi band and a tequila toast, an hispanic business group welcomed
california's two top republican candidates, meg whitman for governor and carly fiorina for the u.s. senate. >> i think every speech should begin with a shot of tequila. >> reporter: for fiorina, trying to unseat senator barbara boxer... attracting the latino vote is crucial. it's equally important for meg whitman and her race against democrat jerry brown for governor. >> i cannot win this election without the latino vote. >> reporter: latinos make up this country's biggest and fastest growing minority, numbering more than 48 million, some 19 million eligible to vote. >> whether it's in california, whether it's in nevada, or other states, latinos are looking for a reason to come out and vote. >> reporter: in nine states, latino voters make up more than 10% of the electorate. they favor democrats over republicans 62%-25%. president obama is urging them to get out and vote. >> don't forget who your friends
are! >> reporter: but in nevada, latinos were urged not to vote in a controversial ad now pulled from tv stations. >> don't vote. >> reporter: the ad, created by a conservative latino group, seemed designed to help republican senate candidate sharron angle in her close race with senate majority leader harry reed. >> illegals sneaking across our border... >> reporter: in ads promising to get tough on illegal aliens, angle told hispanic students some of them looked asian. >> some of you look a little more asian to me. >> reporter: in california's governor's race, immigration became an issue when meg whitman's undocumented housekeeper went public about being fired after working nine years for whitman. >> she said, "i cannot help you." >> reporter: whitman has spent about $140 million, a record for a non-presidential campaign.
among non-latino voters she's in a dead heat with jerry brown at 48% each. but add in latinos, and brown has a five-point edge, 49% to 44%. while latino voters potentially have significant influence, it will count only if they actually cast ballots. a poll by the pew hispanic center shows only 51% of registered latinos say they are certain they will vote in this election. john blackstone, cbs news, san francisco. >> couric: and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news." >> it gets better. >> it does get better. >> couric: words to live by for gay teens targeted by bullies. but up next, six months later, most of the oil is gone, but it's far too soon to declare the b.p. disaster over. did you know vitamin d helps our bones absorb calcium
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>> reporter: six months later, cleanup crews were still sucking up oil today in bay jimmy louisiana, proof the b.p. spill is still news to ron price a charter fishing boat captain here. >> my big worry is, you know, when they do leave, and we're sitting here with no customers coming in, where is my next check coming from? >> reporter: back in april, no one could have predicted an oil spill 19 times worse than the "exxon valdez." but by june 2-- this oil this is so heavy, i can barely lift it-- is part of a 16-mile slick that currents out here in the gulf are now pushing to land. to date, more than 154 million gallons have been burned, skimmed, captured or disburses on their own, about 75% of the total spill. >> the entire gulf of mexico was a hot spot so now we're dealing with what i call hot spots where we have heavy oil, moderate oil, and light oil.
>> reporter: pockets like gulf shore's alabama. the mayor's given b.p. until february to clean up the beaches but to whose satisfaction? >> we're not capable of deciding that and neither is b.p. >> reporter: conflicting standards-- it's the issue with this continuing cleanup and six months later, with this region's economic recovery. who deserves b.p. compensation and how much? still shut down, new deep water oil and gas exploration, more than 16,000 square miles of federal fishing waters, and gulf seafood has a lingering stigma. >> shrimp is hard to move right now. the prices are not good. >> reporter: back in may, ron price predicted this spill would be his doomsday. >> this is like someone slicing your throat. >> reporter: today he admits doomsday was an exaggeration. >> six months later, it's just so different than i think we all forecasted. >> reporter: here in the gulf, the spill's economic and environmental impact is still unfolding. >> we've taken a serious hit. we will not know for a few years exactly how deep or how long that damage will run. >> reporter: on most of this
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minutes and been able to tell him it gets better before he commits suicide. >> reporter: so the gay advice columnist spoke out on this video and posted it online. >> your life can be amazing. >> reporter: one month later... >> and i can tell that you it gets better. >> reporter: ...there are thousands of them, all part of his "it gets better" project. >> in the era of youtube, twitter, and facebook, i could make a video and encourage other adults gays and lesbians, to do the same. >> reporter: and they have. in addition to gays and lesbians offering support... >> not every place is as big as the place you live in. >> reporter: ...everyone from employees of google. >> i was a token computer nerd and got picked on all the time. >> reporter: to celebrities. >> i'm very happy today. >> reporter: to the secretary of state. >> and it will get better for you. >> reporter: has signed on.
>> every who has taken part has volunteered to get in there and be the shoulder to cry on. >> i have never told this story to anyone. >> reporter: and one fort worth city councilman's "it gets better" speech already has two million views. >> you will have a lifetime of happy memories. >> reporter: so far there had been more than 10 million hits. >> our call volume has skyrocketed. >> reporter: now that the web site has linked to california suicide prevention hot line trevor project, calls have nearly tripled. the counseling center averaged 400 calls a week. now they're getting 1,000. their hope is that the message of hope spreads. >> yes, we want all people to feel safe, to feel secure with who they are, to not feel afraid. >> reporter: a simple message. >> i promise it gets so much better. >> reporter: empowering words for those who need to hear them and those who choose to say them. >> everything's going to be okay. >> reporter: michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and that is the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching, i'll see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs