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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  December 27, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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remember, the latest news and whether is on have a great day. >> smith: tonight, buried, a monster blizzard slams the east coast, leaving snow everywhere and millions of people with nowhere to go. i'm harry smith. also tonight, stranded. >> cha everybody wants to go home. >> smith: an endless day for travelers stuck in trains, plays and automobiles. then, the battle of the budget, how cutting red tape at the pentagon may be the key to saving billions. and "assignment america." he inherited his grandfather's trunk, his letters, and an assumed name and a legacy of giving. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> smith: good evening, katie is off tonight.
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some are calling it a hurricane with snow. a final storm for 2010 and one for the record books. it dumped 32 inches of snow in some places, and concealed cars under drifts five feet high. all of it delivered by fierce wind, some gusts topped 80 miles an hour. the snow and wind made travel difficult and dangerous, blamed for at least a dozen deaths on the road. air travel stopped. about 6,000 flights have been canceled turning airport terminals into makeshift dormitories. states of emergency have now been declared by seven governors and a look at where this storm has been over the last 24 hours explains why. from virginia to maine, snow and more snow. since christmas eve, tens of millions of people snowbound or close to it. we have several reports on the storm and we begin with national correspondent jim axelrod in new york's midtown manhattan. >> reporter: it was a nasty one, harry, and while it's clear now,
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as you can tell from the looks of things behind me, it's going to be several days until life returns entirely to normal around here. plows were getting stuck. at the storm's peak, 68 mile per hour winds left 43,000 without power in new york. the city's 911 service had a backlog of 1,300 calls and left the mayor pleading for emergency calls only. >> 911 has to be free for the genuine emergencies. people's lives depend on it. >> reporter: the three major metropolitan airports were closed. 2,000 flights were canceled and tens of thousands of travelers were stranded. american airlines has already canceled all of its flights for tomorrow at laguardia airport. many new yorkers started this past holiday weekend disappointed there was no white christmas. they ended the weekend reminded of the old saying "be careful what you wish for." the 20 inches of snow makes it the fifth-snowiest storm ever
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here. in less than 24 hours, new york city got nearly four times the amount of snow it usually sees the entire month of december. the winds howled up and down the eastern sea board. in philadelphia, the eagles game was postponed until tomorrow, setting up the first n.f.l. game on a tuesday since 1946. wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour knocked out power to 30,000 customers in rhode island and massachusetts. four people died in weather- related traffic accidents in north carolina. this was a storm of rare intensity. the barometric pressure similar to a category two hurricane and packing enough energy to produce thunder and lightning-- called thunder snow. >> there are meteorologists who >> reporter: but new yorkers have a way of shrugging off even the toughest obstacles. how long do you think you could stay out in the snow until your
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fingers felt like they were so cold they were going to freeze together? >> um... ten. >> reporter: ten minutes or ten hours? >> ten hours. >> reporter: five-year-old francesca dicurtis wasn't exaggerating. endlessly dragging her mother up and down the snow-covered hill and turning a city's brutal blizzard into a child's perfect play day. who gets colder first-- you or mommy? >> um... mom. >> reporter: the rough rule of thumb is that it costs about a million dollars an inch to clean up after new york city snowstorms. the price tag for this blizzard? $20 million. jim axelrod, cbs news, new york. >> smith: now to the travel nightmare brought on by this storm. >> smith: now to the travel nightmare brought on by this storm. whether going by plain, train, or automobile, many travelers in the blizzard zone ended up stranded. it was one long day of hurry up and wait. michelle miller is at new york's laguardia airport. michelle, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, harry
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here at laguardia there are just ten flights on the arrival board and with just two departures set to go out tonight, it isn't likely this many travelers waiting here will be flying out. at new york city's laguardia airport, stranded passengers could do nothing but watch as plows worked late into the day to clear off more than a foot of snow. so far, only one of laguardia's two runways has been reopened. >> thank you. >> reporter: tanya myck was headed back to bozeman, montana, with her dog charlie but they've been stuck here for the last 24 hours. myck was among the 250 people who toughed it out overnight on cots, chairs, even the marble floor. >> you just make your peace with it. all right, i'm stuck here for 24 okay. >> reporter: so how many nights have you been stranded? >> four nights in total. >> reporter: london native antonio christopher began his journey to the caribbean last week just as a blizzard socked london. he spent two nights stuck at heathrow airport, another at jfk
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and he hopes tonight's stay at laguardia will be his last. if that flight doesn't leave tomorrow... >> if it doesn't leave tomorrow i'll have to give some serious consideration whether i'm going to continue the leg of the race. >> reporter: passengers on flight 002 to tel aviv thought they were going to escape the winter blitz, but their plane never made it off the tarmac at j.f.k. airport. they were stuck on the runway for nearly nine hours. >> well, they gave us full dinner and entertainment. fortunately, i have nothing to complain about. >> reporter: it was a different story for passengers trying to leave kennedy by subway. >> nine hours. we're not going nowhere. nine hours on one damn train with no heat. >> reporter: susan judd spent the night on the train, describing conditions in a phone call to wcbs t.v. >> we're doing okay. most of the people are just waking up now and there's no water and bathroom so it's a little difficult. just about everybody on this train was coming from kennedy airport. there was no other way to get out of the airport. >> reporter: amtrak canceled 21 trains yesterday and today.
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as service resumed this morning, stranded air travelers from new york's airports came to manhattan to see if they could get out by other means. >> i'm trying to get to d.c. and give up on my travel plans. >> reporter: authorities worked around the clock to rescue hundreds of trapped motorists. across the region, station stations were held in an icy grip with service only returning slowly as the sun came out. and airport officials are warning passengers to call ahead and check on those flight times. they say keep in mind just because one airline is canceled the full flight schedule doesn't mean that they all have. harry? >> smith: how many days do you think it will take the folks at laguardia to compensate for all of these days of backlogged flights? >> reporter: we spoke with the general manager here and he says it will take at least one full day if not two. keeping in mind that the airlines are on a completely different schedule and program.
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>> smith: all right, michelle miller at laguardia tonight. thanks. this blizzard was a big one, but luckily it moved through the northeast at a pretty good clip. tonight, what's left of it is centered over northern new england and it is beginning to dissipate. but even in its waning hours, the storm still left a mighty big mess. seth doane is in boston tonight. seth, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, harry. as you can see, the snow has tapered off here in boston, but the wind is continuing to kick it up into two to three-foot snowdrifts. you know, there's been a lot of attention paid to the snow totals in this blizzard, but the real story here in massachusetts is the wind and the waves. in the coastal town of scituate, even the national guard was called in to assist with evacuations. >> during the high tide last night, i stayed up to keep an eye on the tide and it just... the water came up really fast. >> reporter: more than 80 people from one neighborhood were helped to safety by troops working with local firefighters and police. all trudged through the icy
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water. >> they tried their hardest as ever to get down there. we saw them wade through chest- deep water. >> reporter: high winds fanned the flames of two homes that caught fire. flooding made it much more difficult for firefighters to do anything about it. the town of quincy was waterlogged as well. >> i've never seen the water like this before. ever. it's like a river. that's crazy! >> my electronic system, i guess failed and it just stopped on me and i couldn't go any further. >> reporter: along the new england coast, the hurricane- force wind pushed waves as high as 30 feet. at boston's airport, more than a foot of snow blanketed runways. logan reopened late this afternoon, but it will likely be days before the airport can operate normally. >> trying to get to new orleans. unfortunately i don't think it's going to happen for me today. they said they can book me on a thursday flight. i'm supposed to come back on thursday.
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>> reporter: the roads were as quiet as the runways as many heeded official warnings to stay put. >> this is horrible. >> reporter: horrible? >> horrible. >> reporter: you're a bostonian. aren't you guys used to this stuff? >> no, not this much. a little bit's okay. this is too much. >> reporter: the city of boston received 16 and a half inches of snow, but it's expected to get warmer here later in the week and that should aid the cleanup effort. harry? >> smith: seth doane in boston. thanks. here's your chance to witness the blizzard of 2010 in fast- forward. this took 20 hours in realtime starting yesterday afternoon in belmar, new jersey. using time-lapse photography, it takes only seconds. inch by inch, hour by hour. by the time it was over, almost three feet of snow was piled on a backyard table and umbrella. this monday after christmas was expected to give retailers one final sales boost for the year, but here on the east coast, the big storm kept a lot of shoppers home. however, this 2010 holiday shopping season has already been
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a good one. spending was up 5.5% over last year. that makes it the best since 2007, which was a record year. coming up next on the "cbs evening news," it gets marines into the fight on a cushion of air. but why should a new one cost so much? the pentagon's war on red tape when we come back. and reaching into the past to create a new tradition of giving.
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>> smith: when the 112th u.s. congress convenes for the first time in washington next week, budget issues will top the agenda. and since the pentagon gets $721 billion, 19% of the 2011 federal budget, defense spend willing been part of the conversation. but cutting into the military bureaucracy will require some imagination and an incredibly sharp knife. david martin explains why. >> reporter: at $50 million a copy, this air-cushioned vehicle is barely a decimal point in the pentagon budget. called the landing craft air cushion, it hauls marines and their equipment from ship to shore. it's been around for 25 years and when time came to buy new ones, the chief of naval operations set out to cut away some of the red tape that ensnarls almost every new
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program. >> testing requirements in my mind, were very excessive. >> reporter: how much would that have added to the cost? >> our estimate in the navy was that it would have added $100 million. >> $100? >> yes. >> reporter: this incomprehensible chart is the pentagon's outline of all the steps any new program must go through before it begins production. it practically guarantees a new weapon will take longer and cost more than it should. in the case of the l.c.a.c., the red tape would have required an extra three years to test a vehicle which deputy program director tom rivers says has the same basic design and dimensions as the old l.c.a.c.. >> we look at this as a replacement craft versus a brand new state-of-the-art design. this is something we think we have a lot of experience with. >> reporter: this is basically what the new l.c.a.c. will look like. pretty much the same as the old l.c.a.c. the navy has been operating for last quarter century. yet the rules say it has to go through testing as if it were the first of a kind.
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take a look around. all that's changed are some of the components. a new shroud for the propellers made out of a single piece of composite material which will be easier to maintain than the old one. how fast can this go? >> this craft can reach speeds of 50 knots. >> reporter: senior chief michael macdonald took it out for a test flight. that's right, flight. beneath that skirt, it's flying about five feet above the water. >> the skirt is amazing i could tell as soon as it came uncushioned it was a lot more responsive. >> reporter: how long would it take him to get up to speed on the new l.c.a.c. >> i would imagine ten hours. >> reporter: but it will take years to get there. even after shaving off $100 million and three years years of testing, the new streamlined l.c.a.c. will be ready in... >> the 2019 time frame. >> reporter: so basically nine years from now? >> that's true. >> reporter: and this is streamlined? >> (laughs) i understand. >> reporter: but the taxpayer might not understand why that amounts to a success story in
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the tortured annals of pentagon spending. david martin, cbs news, panama city, florida. th: missile apparently fired by the u.s. drone aircraft hit a taliban stronghold in pakistan today reportedly killing 18 militants. the attack was in pakistan's north waziristan tribal area near the afghanistan border. at least 110 such missile strikes have been launched this year-- that's twice as many as in 2009. we'll be right back. for the smaller low-fat one, latte and ot you'll cut about 12 grams of fat. then take alli with it to help boost your weight loss. so for every 2 pounds you work to lose, alli can help you lose 1 more. alli. how healthy works. alli can help you lose 1 more. sometimes life can be, well, a little uncomfortable, but when it's hard or hurts to go to the bathroom, there's dulcolax stool softener. dulcolax stool softener doesn't make you go... it just makes it easier to go. dulcolax stool softener. make yourself comfortable.
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>> smith: the hunters became the hunted in northeastern india when they used fire to force a leopard out of hiding. it darted out of the bushes and into a crowd then it attacked and injured a man holding a torch. the leopard, which had already attacked at least seven people in a nearby village, is still on the loose. the battle of vicksburg was a turning point in the war between the states, but after 147 years, a mystery remained-- literally a message in a bottle. a coded note in a sealed vial sent to confederate general john pemberton who was holding out in vicksburg waiting for reinforcements. today, thanks to a retired c.i.a. code breaker, we know it said "you can expect no help from this side of the river." it was dated july 4, 1863. vicksburg fell to the union army the same day. so welcome news on the crime front in los angeles. the city may end 2010 its fewest
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homicides in more than 40 years. the "l.a. times" reports that as of sunday afternoon, police had reported 291 killings, putting the city on track with the fewest since 1967. that's also down 75% from 1992. l.a. police credit factors like reduced drug and gang-related street crime. singer teena marie, who called herself the ivory queen of soul, has died at her home in southern california. ♪ i just want to rock your world... ♪ >> ed: teena marie had a string of funky hits in the 1980s including "lover girl" and "i need your loving" often collaborating with rick james. the first white performer ever signed to the motown label, she often said she was a black artist with white skin. she was found sunday apparently dead of natural causes. teena marie was 54. had a heart attack caused by a completely blocked artery,
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>> smith: an update now on this late december blizzard. the christmas weekend storm dumped 32 inches of snow in some places, there was wind sometimes gusting to hurricane strength at 80 miles an hour or more, at least a dozen highway deaths are blamed on the storm and more than 6,000 airline flights were canceled leaving thousands trapped at airports. we end tonight with a ghost story, but the spirit in this tale is all about the spirit of giving, steve hartman has tonight's "assignment america." >> reporter: the newspaper here in canton, ohio, is a respectable publication. so when someone called the "repository" last month to try and buy their way on to the front page, editor jeff gauger says he didn't have to think twice. >> this was not a hard decision to make. of course we said yes. >> reporter: for two reasons. first, the caller wanted to give money to the people of canton,
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$100 to $150 needy residents. second, this caller was a ghost. >> b. virdot has come back to life. >> reporter: last time the mysterious b. virdot contacted the newspaper was in december, 1933, during the depression. he wrote a letter offering noun offering money to anyone in need so they will be able to spend a merry and joyful christmas. all people had to do was send a letter to general delivery in care of that name "b. virdot" which, as it turns out, wasn't his name at all. his real name was sam stone, a successful canton businessman. >> b. virdot was an invention of his, an amalgam of his three daughter's name "barbara, virginia and dottsie." >> reporter: stone's grandson only learned of his grandfather's charitable at ego when he opened up this suitcase that had a couple hundred letters addressed to b. virdot.
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>> they were from the same week in december of 1933. >> reporter: the discovery led him to write a book called "a secret gift." >> "it looks pretty dark sometimes but we still hold on to that ray of hope." >> reporter: ted said his grandfather answered that letter with a $5 check, which would be like $100 today." >> so that's where we picked up. we said let's make this guy live again. >> reporter: after hearing the story, a small group of local businessmen stepped into the shadows and up to the plate. >> the generosity of that man sparked us about how neat it would be to reenact it, to get it going again. >> reporter: the new b. virdots pledged $15,000, which resulted in 800 letters. >> "i have no job, no money." >> reporter: to select the neediest, the paper brought in members of the local clergy. >> i look everyday for work. >> i have exhausted my unemployment. >> we have lost our house. >> reporter: in some ways not much as changed since the first time b. virdot asked for letters. really the biggest difference is that not everyone wrote to ask for money.
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this time many wrote to give it. giving money? >> giving money. >> reporter: editor jeff gauger said the paper never asked for donations but since the article came out it has received $35,000 worth from hundredsover self- proclaimed b. virdots. >> to have that many people step up has really made this thing so much fun for you we can't hardly stand it. ( laughs ) >> reporter: that's why, although sam stone has long since passed... >> i don't think it's anything we went to let die. >> reporter: ...the spirit of b. virdot now seems poised for immortality. steve hartman, cbs news, canton, ohio. >> smith: that's the "cbs evening news." for katie couric, i'm harry smith. thanks for watching. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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didn't get a chance to bring it." the monday morning you're watching cbs5 "eyewitness news." >> i understand, it's about winning, and -- but, umm, i'm just really, umm, sorry i didn't get a chance to bring it. >> the monday morning quarterbacking begins. an exclusive interview with coach single terry and what fans think of the sunday night sacking. >> what do you think of mike singletary? >> a valiant attempt. >> and a house fire claims an elderly man's life. what investigators are focusing on as they search for a cause. >> i think about 6, 7 times, everything looks good to about an hour before off the. >> holiday travel travails. thousands still stranded and the timetable for getting back home. allen has the day off.


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