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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  December 4, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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>> pelley: tonight, calm in a crisis. just released 911 tapes give us new insight into the sandy hook elementary shootings. they reveal ordinary people and their disciplined action to protect children. more than 40 million americans face severe winter weather. we'll look at where it's hitting and where it's going. a cbs news investigation exposes lethalrend in recreational drugs. holly williams on a threat most of just never heard of. >> it's too risky. it's literally playing russian roulette. >> pelley: and the light's fantastic. ben tracy shows us the aurora borealis as we've never seen it before. >> it's so powerful it's beyond your imagination. imagination. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news"
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with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. we learned something new today about one of the most heinous crimes in american history-- the fatal shooting of 20 first graders and six adults at sandy hook elementary school. newtown, connecticut, released audio recordings of some of the 911 calls and what struck us as we heard them is that while the gunman was doing what no one could have imagined, police dispatchers and others were doing all anyone could have hoped for to try to save lives. here's jim axelrod with the story that the tapes tell. >> reporter: from the moment the shooter fired his way through the front door the courage and professionalism of those on both ends of the emergency calls are unmistakable. school secretary barbara hallstead made the first call at 9:35:39. 9:35
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>> reporter: 34 seconds later, a custodian named rick thorne made the second call to 911. custodian ed rick made all to >> reporter: thorne would stay on the phone for nearly ten minutes even with gunshots going off in the background. the dispatcher probing for information and coaching him on what to do. coach o do. >> reporter: 8:16 at the first call from the school, thorne was approached by police officers and identified himself. w ap y police ers and i d self. >> reporter: what's striking is
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the tone of calm. even from a teacher who's been shot in the foot. in the >> reporter: there are o calls but they were routed to state police dispatchers and are not among the ones released by the newtown p.d. today. they're the subject of another freedom of information request filed by the associated press and, scott, that request is still pending. >> pelley: impressive how the dispatchers tried to help over the phone. jim, thanks very much. many sandy hook families objected to the release of the 911 recordings. a suit was filed, but the judge ruled in favor of news organization which is argued that the tapes were records that belonged to the public. elaine quijano spoke with bill sherlach, whose wife mary was
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the school psychologist, nicole hockley, who lost her son dylan and nelba marquez-greene who lost her daughter anna. >> i'm disappointed in the decision because i don't feel that the actual audiotapes serve any public interest, necessarily. they don't teach us anything new. i have no intention of ever listening to it myself. i don't need to hear that. it's a disappointing decision but it's gone through due process and i have to recognize and respect that. >> we're not going to win every battle along the way, but we're going to continue to effort what we think is the right thing to do. >> reporter: what about the need to hear the audiotapes in order to evaluate the response of law enforcement. >> i don't need to hear the tapes to know that the men and women in our local and state police did everything they could that day in order to help protect our children and the staff at sandy hook elementary school. >> pelley: a few of the families from newtown, connecticut.
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there's another big story we're following tonight. it's a storm that's dumping snow from the rockies to the northern plains. it's blamed for at least eight deaths and conditions are getting worse as frigid air blows in from the north. winter weather advisories and warnings are up in parts of 27 states where 41 million people live. jamie yuccas is with our cbs station in minneapolis, wcco. jamie. >> reporter: more than six inches is forecast to fall in minneapolis. in northern minnesota, though, more than three feet of snow has fallen and in the northern plains windchills are already well below zero. snow and ice has made travel treacherous-- at least five people have died in weather- related accidents in minnesota since monday. state patrol today responded to more than 175 crashes. we found erin zellner in minneapolis. >> people seem to be driving respectfully but you always see people going too fast for the condition and then there's an accident that clogs everything
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up. >> reporter: two feet of snow swallowed this car in duluth with another foot on the way. >> unknown vehicle spun around in traffic. >> reporter: heavy snow closed roads in colorado where there's a risk of avalanches. and what didn't pile up blew around by gusts that reduced visibility and dropped the windchill to 30 below in montana and 20 below in nebraska. scott, the cold air here is moving east and south. in dallas today it was 72 degrees. by tomorrow night it will only be in the 20s. >> pelley: jamie yuccas of wcco. thank you very much. the next few days could be rough as severe weather moves east. snow, ice and freezing rain are expected. in the west, citrus farmers are doing everything they can to keep their crops from freezing. bill whitaker is in bakersfield, california for us this evening. bill? >> reporter: scott, california's san joaquin valley is the largest fresh citrus growing region in the country.
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a $1.5 billion industry. temperatures here dropped to the high 20s last night and are expected to go even lower tonight and tomorrow night and growers here fear this cold snap could make their fruit unsellable. while the sun was out today, citrus growers rushed to pick as much fruit as possible before the cold canadian air descends on these grovings again tonight. if temperatures drop as low for as long as predicted they could lose half their fruit. >> if we lose 40% or 50% of our crop we won't have any crop. >> reporter: al bates is general manager of sun pacific, the second-largest citrus grower in the state. >> we can use our wind machines to push the warm air down to the ground and that along with the irrigation water can improve the temperatures anywhere from five to seven degrees if all the circumstances are right. >> reporter: scott, there are 130,000 acres just of navel oranges in this valley. a loss of that crop alone could cost growers almost $400
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million. >> pelley: we'll be following up. bill, thank you very much. according to a state report out today, protecting property was put ahead of the safety of 19 firefighters who were killed in an arizona wildfire. all but one member of the granite mountain hot shot team died in june. this evening, a state agency fined arizona's forestry division more than half a million dollars for mistakes that led to the deadliest wildfire incident in 80 years. john blackstone covered the disaster and has today's developments. >> reporter: today's report says the dangerous conditions of the yarnell fire were made worse because fire managers were fatigued and short of personnel. the report, by arizona's division of occupational safety and health, contains the last photos of the granite mountain hot shots before they were killed. it says the state forestry
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division knew that wind would push active fire towards non- defensible structures but that firefighters working downwind were not promptly removed. this report goes further than one in september that cited only a failure of communications. at that time, we spoke to julie ann ashcraft whose husband andrew was killed. >> what this has done is exposed they are not mitigating risks the way they should for such a dangerous job. there should have been things to mitigate these risks before because this could have been prevented. >> reporter: today's report says the 19 who died were not the only ones put at risk that day. there were multiple incidents of firefighters being unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wild land firefighting. the $559,000 fine includes $25,000 for each of the firefighters killed. that money, scott, will be paid directly to the firefighters' families. >> pelley: john blackstone in our los angeles newsroom
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tonight. john, thank you. today the white house said the president's health insurance web site is working much better. this week 29,000 americans enrolled on the obamacare site in the first 24 hours after it was repaired. that is more than signed up in the entire month of october when flopped in its debut. major garrett is following this. >> reporter: dawn erin of austin, texas, is one of the americans who signed up for health care this week. it's the first health insurance the self-employed musician and massage therapist has had in 20 years. >> this is obviously a massive undertaking and it's just started so it's a beautiful idea in theory. we'll see as the year progresses if it works out in practice. but i have my fingers crossed. i'm hopeful about it. >> reporter: erin tried to enroll in october but web site problems bogged her down. this time, an enroll. counselor helped heifer settle on a plan with a $89 premium.
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she qualifies for a subsidy of $162 a month. >> i was surprised at the prices, actually. we entered all my tax info and income and stuff and i was pleasantly surprised. >> reporter: erin is 43 and has had some recent health issues. for obamacare to succeed, millions of young healthy americans will need to enroll to offset the costs of consumers like erin. president obama asks for help today at a white house youth summit. >> i'm going to need you all to spread the world about how the affordable care act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up. >> reporter: one lingering and significant problem with obamacare remains: accurate consumer data in many cases is not reaching insurance companies. late today, scott, the administration and top figures in the insurance industry said they are working together on a technological fix. >> pelley: major, thank you. the numbers are improving for home sales again. the government reported today
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that sales of new homes in october jumped more than 25%. that was the biggest monthly gain since 1980. thieves stole a truck carrying radioactive material. how can it be? synthetic forms of illegal drugs are coming into this country legally. and can rescuers save dozens of whales stranded in shallow water? when the "cbs evening news" continues. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief
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>> pelley: tonight we have a holly williams investigation into an epidemic of recreational drugs being cooked up in labs overseas. since 2005, emergency room cases are up 128% for just one of these drugs known on the street as molly. molly caused more than 10,000 e.r. admissions in 2011 and you may be as surprised as we were that many of these so-called designer drugs are being imported legally in amazing quantities. >> reporter: so this is all from the same operation? >> same case. all the same thing. >> reporter: all the way up to the krael ceiling? >> all the way up and down. >> reporter: it's the biggest haul of agent drug coleman's career, worth millions of dollars on the street. >> this is a huge volume. we seize over 2,200 pounds.
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>> reporter: it's known as spice, a synthetic form of marijuana originally developed by medical researchers and now sold by drug dealers. it's one of a new generation of synthetic drugs made from chemical compounds and designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine, or methamphetamine. but because many of the ingredients are legal they can be freely imported into the u.s. where are these synthetic drugs coming from? >> for the most part china is the main source. they were probably the first ones to start it. once they saw there was a big demand for it they ramped it up. >> reporter: posing as buyers, we found a chinese manufacturer within minutes. the web site looks like a legitimate business selling chemical compounds, but they offered to ship us two pounds of synthetic marijuana for $2,500. u.s. customs authorities are powerless. >> they can't do anything if it's a legal substance coming in. there's nothing they can do. >> reporter: spice and several other synthetic drugs were finally outlawed last year, but
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the manufacturers are outsmarting the government. as soon as one drug is banned they change their chemical formula and create a new drug that's still legal. >> it's like whack-a-mole. they pop their head up, we hit them, they go down and pop their head up another spot. >> reporter: do you think a lot of young people think legal means safe? >> absolutely. >> reporter: as police videos show the new drugs are dangerous and sometimes tedly. >> (screaming) >> you can't even imagine the horror of hearing that news. >> reporter: susan wadsworth's son noah was an honor student and a talented musician. ♪ sailing around the world -- >> reporter: on a night out with friends in january he took a drug which mimics lsd and quickly lost consciousness.
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what did you think when you discovered that this drug that killed your son was legal? >> i was shocked. before this happened i didn't know anything about synthetic drugs. it's too risky. it's literally playing russian roulette. >> reporter: the drug was so new it took toxicologists three months to work out what killed noah. >> it's always a cat-and-mouse game. this is just a more advanced type of cat-and-mouse because now we have chemists manufacturing synthetic drugs as opposed to cartel members trafficking heroin or coke or methamphetamine. >> reporter: the chinese manufacturer told us he's already switched to making new drugs that are legal in the u.s. and selling well. holly williams, cbs news, phoenix. >> pelley: in mexico today a truck carrying radioactive material used in medical equipment was recovered. it had been stolen on monday. well, near mexico city, the truck and its cargo of cobalt 60
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was found. whoever stole it had removed the cobalt 60 from its lead case, exposing him or them to dangerous levels of radiation. the area around the stolen truck has been cordoned off. mexican officials say no one in the area has been hurt. a painting that appeared on the cover of a 15-cent magazine sold for millions today. that's next. millions next. it's a stationery and gi anything we purchase for the paper cottage goes on our ink card. so you can manage your business expenses and access them online instantly with the game changing app from ink. we didn't get into business to spend time managing receipts, that's why we have ink. we like being in business because we like being creative, we like interacting with people. so you have time to focus on the things you love. ink from chase. so you can.
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>> pelley: the los angeles county coroner's office said today that an autopsy on the body of actor paul walker found he died of traumatic injuries and burns in that car crash on saturday. his friend, roger rodas, who was driving the porsche, died of traumatic injuries. they're not sure what caused the crash, but the sheriff's department has said that speed was a factor. tonight, rescuers in florida are trying to save a huge pod of whales. this is everglades national park. nearly four dozen pilot whales have been stranded in three feet of water. some have beached themselves. at least ten have died. the rescuers have been trying to coax the whales into deeper water without a lot of success. norman rockwell was paid $3,500 for a painting that appeared on the cover of the saturday evening post in 1951. today, "saying grace" which depicts a woman and her grandson praying in a crowded restaurant sold for $46 million.
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that is a record for an american art auction. another rockwell, "the gossips" went for $8.5 million. a third "walking to church" sold for $3.2 million. some of the most spectacular images, though, don't come from an artist's brush. we'll show you nature's pallet next. pallet ne of it is it africa? the middle east? canada? or the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. this is a map of the pressure points on my feet. i have flat feet. rgy quiz. i learned where the stress was at the dr.scholl's foot mapping center. then i got my number, which matched the custom fit orthotic inserts with the right support.
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now, an east bay city has decided to crack down on e- cigarettes next at six. weather talent appears at wx center with generic pinpoint filling monitor then we take
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>> pelley: well, this time of year it's neighbor versus neighbor to see who can put up the most dazzling display of lights. but no one comes close to the show nature puts on with the phenomenon known as the northern lights. here's ben tracy. >> reporter: dave parkhurst carries his camera into some of the most remote places in alaska. he waits for the sun to go down and the lights to come on. he's captured some of the most stunning images of the northern lights. >> well, the scientific term is aurora borealis which is the goddess of light. it's totally spiritual because it's so powerful it's beyond your imagination. >> reporter: when parkhurst moved to alaska in 1981 people told him about these light shows. they also said "don't bother trying to photograph it." when people said "this is isn't something you can capture on film" did it become a challenge for you to say "yeah, it is." >> it was the challenge, yes.
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it's kind of a fickle light. film got better and is better than it's ever been now. you only have seconds. when they explode they can cover, you know, 180 degrees of the sky in a few seconds. >> reporter: nice warm night in alaska. (laughs) it was three below zero when we visited parkhurst at his home in anchorage. even when it was 58 below he still went out to see the lights. how do you describe this, what it looks like. >> i tell people it's angelic. it's something that is indescribable to some point unless you're underneath them and experience them. >> reporter: the aurora appears when highly charged solar winds strike particles on the edge of space. alaska is the best place in the u.s. to see the northern lights. but even hear what 20 hours of dark winter skies there is no guarantee. >> it makes for a long work shift. sometimes you're paid early, sometimes you're paid late or
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not at all. >> reporter: green auroras are the most common. red are the rarest, seen just six to ten times each decade. this is one of parkhurst's favorite shots. >> the entire sky was red prior to this and it looked like you were on mars. it never gets old. every show is like a fingerprint. you're experiencing that moment and it's over. >> reporter: then he waits until the next time nature's night light returns. ben tracy, cbs news, anchorage, alaska. >> pelley: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs capt captioned by media access group at wgbh
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your realtime captioner is mrs. linda m. macdonald eye view of the bay area's future. good evening, i'm you ever wonder what it will look like after the dust from the construction boom clears? well, tonight a bird's-eye view of the bay area's future. >> good evening, i'm ken bastida. >> i'm elizabeth cook. new at 6:00 tonight our phil matier says if you think san francisco is too crewed and expensive already? just wait. >> reporter: that's right. san francisco from coit tower to the transamerica building has always had an iconic skyline. but keep your eyes open because in the next couple of years it's going to be changing fast. let's take a look. san francisco's skyline is exploding. this animation shows the actual buildings that will be coming online in the coming years to handle the estimated 200,000 new people and 190,000 jobs
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that are expected to pour into the city. transforming the entire skyline. and this is ground zero first in mission street san francisco. home of the future transbay tower which could be the tallest building on the west coast. >> it's coming whether we prepare for it or not. and so we need to prepare for it. >> reporter: are we prepared for it? >> no. we're not prepared for it. >> reporter: signs of the strain are already on the rise with rocketing rents causing more and more evictions. >> the city an economy are blooming for people with access to greater education, more experience in high-tech industry, and not necessarily people who are in our neighborhoods. >> reporter: gabriel metcalf of the san francisco planning and research association understands the apprehension. >> people are really afraid especially renters like me if you lose your apartment, you have to move out of the city most likely. >> reporter: speaking of moving, st