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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  December 28, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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off the coast of perth. the great white circled a group of boaters for 5 minutes. thanks for watching. >> smith: tonight, the nightmare after christmas. stranded in the airport and on planes, passengers running out of patience. i'm harry smith. also tonight, high drama in the high country. >> i heard people screaming, and then i saw the chairs just drop. >> smith: a chair lift derails in maine, sending skiers plummeting to the ground. taking it to the taliban: hard- fought success in afghanistan has come at a steep price for the marines of the thundering 3rd. and when she started flying, they really were the friendly skies. 26 million miles later, she's still smiling. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric.
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>> smith: good evening, katie is off tonight. we begin once again with a blizzard that has paralyzed the east coast. in the aftermath today, strained backs for those still digging out and frayed nerves among stranded travelers, especially at the airports. in boston, they dumped 25,000 tons of salt on the roads. and across the northeast, commuter trains slowly got up and running again, but many with very limited service. the real pain is being felt by those still waiting to fly. michelle miller is at laguardia airport with the latest. michelle, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, harry. well, activity has picked up at all three new york city airports. but with more than 500 flight cancellations today, for every plane that took off two more never made it off the ground. for 12 frustrating hours, passengers on a cafe pacific flight from vancouver to new york were stuck on the tarmac at kennedy airport today. officials say there just wasn't
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any space at the gates. slowly but surely, more planes are taking off, struggling to make up for the more than 6,500 flights canceled since sunday >> i told my daughter i wouldn't leave until i saw the plane take off. >> reporter: it was another rough night for some 200 travelers at laguardia. some have been told they could be stuck here through the weekend. >> take it one day at a time and pretend like it's some expedition, like you're going on a camping trip. >> reporter: the problem? once a flight has been canceled, it takes 36 to 72 hours to match crews with planes again. >> they're all out of sequence because once you cancel flights, planes are grounded wherever they happen to be. >> reporter: take this delta plane. it was supposed to fly from orlando to laguardia on sunday the 26th but was canceled because of the storm. that forced the cancellation of at least four other flights scheduled for that one plane. monday's flight from laguardia to orlando? canceled. the subsequent flight from orlando to boston? canceled. with no plane in boston,
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monday's flight from boston to orlando also had to be canceled. now without the right crew in place, the orlando to laguardia flight was canceled, too. what's the best strategy to get you where you're going? first, know the tail number of the plane you're booked on so you can track its actual location. second, don't try to fix the problem online. >> have a conversation with a real human being. the internet doesn't think creatively; it only thinks linearly, and you will be stuck at the airport if you follow the internet. >> reporter: this woman talked with agents directly to get her and her husband back home to miami. they weren't scheduled to leave laguardia until friday, but her persistence with a ticket agent got her on a flight out of newark airport this afternoon. >> i stood in the long line, and a miracle happened and i got on. i not only did not get a standby ticket, but i got two tickets out of newark. >> reporter: but anger is boiling over here, too. one passenger just told us he was a passenger on a jetblue
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flight to west palm beach, that security was called to a gate full of frustrated travelers. he said they were angry because the flight was canceled. harry? >> smith: michelle miller at laguardia tonight, thank you. while travelers may curse it, all that snow has been a godsend for ski resorts. but today, there was a serious accident at sugarloaf in maine. one moment, skiers, including children, were riding to the top of the mountain on a chair lift. the next, they were tumbling through the air and on to the slope. more now from seth doane. >> reporter: the serenity of maine's premier ski resort was shattered today when a chair lift suddenly derailed in high winds, causing dozens of skiers to plummet 30 feet to the snowy trail below. >> i just realized we're dropping. and then i... and then i slammed into the ground. >> reporter: eight skiers, including children, were taken to local hospitals with injuries. at the time, an estimated 220
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skiers were on the spillway east lift making their way up the 2,800-foot peak. workers used a pulley-like system to lower the skiers who were stuck on the lift. sugarloaf authorities say that the high winds may have been a contributing factor to the derailment, but the incident is still under investigation. they insist that their lifts are routinely inspected for safety, but eyewitness accounts point to possible equipment failure not the weather. >> it seemed as though the wheels bent so the wire came off and that's what caused the chair lifts to drop. >> reporter: the 35-year-old lift relies on clusters of wheels to move the chairs along a 4,000 foot cable at a speed of 500 feet per minute. skiers say one of those wheels broke causing the cable holding up a section of ten to 12 chairs to suddenly drop. according to sugarloaf's web site, the 35-year-old spillway east chair lift was set to be the first priority in a ten-year lift replacement plan because the spillway trail is a high
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traffic lift and a critical highway for skiers. it could be weeks before they know whether that modernization plan could have prevented today's mountainside drama. seth doane, cbs news, new york. >> smith: now to the economy. the recession started when the housing bubble burst and the market for homes in many parts of the country is still shaky. a report out today shows home prices fell by more than 1% in america's biggest cities in october, making four straight monthly declines. national correspondent jim axelrod tells us now that the economy's slow rebound is still filled with plenty of ups and downs. >> thank you for calling. >> reporter: at this toyota dealership? >> what kind of car are we buying? >> reporter: car sales are up 15% over same time last year.
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>> we get to sit down and talk to our customers, they've got a smile on their faces. they do see the economy turning around. >> reporter: but in our two steps forward, one step back economy, troubling signs are just as easy to find. also in houston... >> anything in the house is for sale. >> reporter: scotty baldwin has had his house on the market for three months without so much as a sniff. >> nobody's talked to us about it and nobody's contacted our realtor about it. >> reporter: home prices in dallas, portland, oregon, charlotte, tampa, and denver have fallen for four straight months. >> i'll be in touch. >> reporter: and while businesses are starting to hire- - like this new york restaurant. >> this year was better than last year and we're not complaining. >> reporter: much of it is temporary. in november, 80% of the 5,000 jobs added by private-sector employers were temp jobs. for every bit of good news, it seems, such as the biggest holiday shopping season since 2007... >> we were concerned consumers were just going to stay home, basically watch t.v. instead of go to the mall and it does look
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like they got out there. >> reporter: ...there's an offsetting piece of bad news. like gas prices climbing back over $3. the economy's not great, says economist dan greenhouse, but not terrible, either. >> these days not a terrible economy is as good as you're going to get. >> reporter: the latest survey of consumer confidence is trending down heading into the new year. experts say until the job picture improves, there will be limits to americans' optimism. harry? >> smith: jim axelrod in midtown tonight. thank you. a new report shows a sharp jump this year in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty. nationwide, 160 officers have died from gunfire, auto crashes, and other causes. compared with 117 in 2009. texas had the most police deaths followed by california and illinois. firefighters also assumed plenty of risk when they answer the alarm. some situations make it even more dangerous, like when squatters occupy a vacant building. cynthia bowers reports two
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deadly fires, one early today, the other last week, illustrate the terrible danger. >> reporter: surrounded by thousands of mourners, the casket of chicago firefighter edward stringer was carried to his funeral atop engine 63. the same truck he road to the fire that claimed his life. >> mayday, mayday... >> reporter: stringer was one of two firefighters killed when the roof of an abandoned building collapsed on them. 17 firefighters were injured. they were inside searching for homeless men and women. >> there were some squatters in there trying to keep warm and the place caught afire. >> reporter: in a similar tragedy in new orleans early today, eight homeless residents died when a fire they set in a steel drum to keep warm spread through an abandoned warehouse. fire officials there are urging the homeless to use city shelters. >> it's a lot safer in a city shelter than it is in an abandoned building. >> reporter: but not according to the thousands living on the streets in big cities like chicago. advocates for the homeless say
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folks tell them they actually feel safer squatting in alleys and abandoned buildings than they do in the city's 1,500 emergency shelter beds. >> they're afraid. they don't feel safe. they do not feel safe. they can get robbed. they can get beat up. there's drugs. all kinds of drugs, there's fighting. >> reporter: those fears not only increase the risk for the homeless but for the men and women often charged with protecting them. cynthia bowers, cbs news, chicago. >> smith: coming up next on the "cbs evening news," marines take the battle to the taliban in the deadliest year of the war in afghanistan. and later, many travelers put flying right up there with root canal surgery, but for her, it's heaven. [ coughing ] [ male announcer ] got a cold? [ sniffles ] [ male announcer ] not sure what to take? now click on the robitussin relief finder
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out of a 5 x 3 mile strip of poppy and wheat fields. in the seven months of fighting, 13 were seriously injured, three died. we followed one nine-man squad, crusher one. they saw some of the heaviest fighting-- it would change them forever. the taliban threw everything they had at these marines, never letting up. in may, sergeant jim morse had to break off an interview with us when the taliban attacked just outside his base. >> sounds like our patrol is taking contact. >> reporter: bad guys. you need to leave? >> i do. i do. >> original shots were west. >> reporter: the marines on the roof quickly squared them off. but in june, crusher one outnumbered 4-1 by the taliban almost got overrun on a patrol that turned into a four-day fire fight. >> there was a few times where i was wondering if, you know, too many of us were going to get out safely. i had my doubts a couple times.
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>> reporter: the taliban fighters came so close to the unit that corporal jacob schmitt had to toss grenades at them just a few yards from his position. ( explosions ) >> if you can get through this, what else can life throw at you, really? >> reporter: the marines fought them off. nobody was killed but five men were medevaced, including the squad leader, staff sergeant paul worley, who was shot in the leg. >> i guess when it first happened i didn't realize what happened. i knew my leg got taken out from under me. >> reporter: after his leg wound, worley, a former tobacco farmer from north carolina, was told he could fly back to the u.s. to recover. he refused, insisting on returning to his squad after a week. >> the fact of the matter is that, you know, i love the guys that i work with. i mean love them, and i'm not going to let them go through trials and tribulations without me. >> reporter: when we caught up with these men again in october, they'd pushed the taliban back and spent more time talking than shooting.
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>> monday morning i'm trying to start the temporary school... >> reporter: six months ago when we first came here this road was controlled by the taliban. marines took fire every time they came here. today the marines drive up and down this road everyday. but that progress has come at considerable cost. in may, corporal jeffrey johnson and sergeant kenneth may were killed by an i.e.d. that left a waist-deep crater in the road. in july, corporal larry harris from the mortars platoon was killed as he carried another wounded marine on his back to a medevac helicopter. he's been nominated for a silver star for his bravery. >> when you're back in the states, everything's, like... a lot of it's like given to you. >> reporter: lance corporal joshua echelson from florida is just 20 years old. he's learned to fight for his life. >> you come out here and it's about survival, it really is. and that definitely changes you. >> reporter: schmitt, from belleville, wisconsin, was on his first combat deployment.
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like the other young marines, he's become a bit wiser, a bit humbler, and a lot closer to his buddies. >> you train for it, you prepare all you can mentally, physically. you come here and just one day it actually ow... how short life is, how delicate it is. >> reporter: as peaceful as their territory is now, the marines of weapons company will never forget the fights they got in. nor the friends they lost. >> break out! >> reporter: after that four-day fire fight when they were nearly overrun, the marines left standing had this picture taken. >> the picture doesn't convey the intense fatigue. most of us were swaying as the picture was taken, having a hard time standing up at that point. a lot of them went in boys and came out men, that's for sure. >> reporter: the war that changed them all. terry mccarthy, cbs news, southern afghanistan. news, southern afghanistan.
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bags of lay's potato chips are nowhere to be seen, but that could change. frito-lay, the world's largest maker of sna snack foods, is going natural-- sort of. beginning in 2007, half of its products including lay's potato chips, tostitos and sun chips will be made entirely with natural ingredients. >> this is probably one of the most evolutionary things we've done at frito-lay to really bring the right products to our consumers. >> reporter: that's good news for gonzalez, but... >> i will compare the ingredients to see really what's in there and is it better. >> reporter: what won't be on the labels? artificial flavors, preservatives, and the flavor enhancer m.s.g., but many frito's brands will still be high in fat and sodium. >> these were pretty bad for us, now they're less bad for us. >> reporter: one reason companies are using more natural ingredients is because that's what consumers are asking for. according to some surveys, as many as 70% of customers want natural products. which is why major fast food chains have all rolled out healthier menu items in recent
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years, so why isn't frito-lay going natural with all of its products? the company says it just can't make cheetos or doritos without artificial flavors. but in this test kitchen, they're working on it. don teague, cbs news, dallas. >> smith: popcorn always goes well with a movie and today the library of congress selected 25 more films to be preserved in the national film registry. >> surely you can't be serious. >> i am serious, and don't call me surely. >> smith: "airplane" is on board one month after the death of leslie nielsen. so is "star wars, the empire strikes back" with its big paternal twist. >> i am your father. >> smith: also on the list, denzel washington as the slain civil rights leader malcolm-x. >> we didn't land on plymouth rock! plymouth rock landed on us! >> smith: and the movie that that put john travolta and disco on the map: "saturday night fever." ♪ dancing, yeah...
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from the new healthcare law. yeah, and most people will get free cancer screenings and 50 percent off of brand name prescription drugs if you're in the donut hole. [ chuckles ] you read my paper. i went to it's open enrollment, you know. so i checked out all the options and found a better plan to fit my budget. well, you know what they say. oh! "knowledge is power." whew! [ male announcer ] visit or call 1-800-medicare. just got more powerful. introducing precise pain relieving heat patch. it blocks pain signals for deep relief precisely where you need it most. precise. only from the makers of tylenol. area storm expected to slow the evening commute. next on cbs 5 >> smith: we began this broadcast with people stranded at the airport, frustrated and angry.
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view of air travel from someone who's been flying since the days when an airplane trip was rare and luxurious. peter greenberg has her story. ♪ come fly with me... >> reporter: remember when it was about the joy of air travel, not the ordeal of transportation norma heape does. she's been flying 53 years, longer than any other flight attendant at continental airlines. >> you want know hang up your coat for you? i'm just fortunate i chose something i enjoy doing and i've never lost the love for flying or traveling or serving people. >> reporter: norma began flying for continental in 1957 when she was 20, before they were even flying jets. they were called hostesses, required to be single and slender. >> they would put us on a scale before each flight to make sure we were in compliance with our weight; everyone wore a girdle. >> reporter: they were the original jet-setters with style and service with a smile.
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passengers were on our best behavior. we even dressed up for our flights because for us half the fun of the trip-- thanks-- was just getting there. >> times change. when i first started flying, we served coffee out of a metal jug. now we are doing capachinos and espressos. so you tell me what's glamorous. >> reporter: in her long and illustrious career, norma's logged more than 63,000 in- flight hours and traveled more than 26 million miles. that's the equivalent of about 50 round-trip excursions to the moon. >> one minute to roll. >> reporter: and if you think that's impressive. wait until you hear what other records she holds. >> i have perfect attendance at continental. i have never called in sick a day of my life. >> reporter: in an industry where the fleet is aging, captain juan ruth says this 74- year-old is still very fit to fly. >> i hope when i'm at her age that i'm in that good a shape as she is. i'm falling apart already. >> reporter: and while many of
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us think experience in the cockpit makes the difference, norma says there's no substitute for experience in the cabin. >> just like when that airplane of captain sullenberg went into the drink, i mean who got the passengers out? it wasn't the pilots, it was the flight attendance and they were all over 15 years in seniority. >> reporter: you might say norma heape is top of the heap. out of 9,500 flight attendance at continental, she holds seniority number one which means she get hearse pick of destinations. today it's a 15-hour flight to hong kong. >> you want to go? we have five open seats? >> reporter: and while she's probably asked "how long until we land" almost as often as "how long until you retire?" the answer in both cases is "not any time soon." >> the day that i can't be the on-board leader or perform what the company wants, then i think it's time to step down. not today. >> reporter: peter greenberg, cbs news, newark. >> smith: that's the "cbs evening news." for katie couric, i'm harvey smith. thanks for watching. good night.
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captioning spo your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. a big storm now pounding the bay area. expect heavy rain, gusty winds the possibility of flooding, details coming up. all i wanted to outline was the disparity between the screening upstairs and the lack of screening downstairs. the pilot who revealed what he called lapses in security at sfo comes forward. what he says was his motivation for posting his videos on youtube. a shortage of shelter space leads to an unusual offer. the latest appeal to find homes forabandoned animals. a strong pacific storm is moving onshore. several inches of rain are expected in a short time. people in the north


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