tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS September 22, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
half a billion eggs last month after they were linked to a salmonella outbreak that made about 1,600 people sick. today the owners of those farms were called to capitol hill to explain some frankly disgusting safety violations. here's congressional correspondent nancy cordes. >> reporter: for the first time since americans started falling ill four months ago, the father and son who run iowa's right county egg said they were sorry. >> we apologize to everyone who may have been sickened by eating our eggs. >> reporter: but the apology fell flat with lawmakers. >> you are ah-ha bitch wall violator of basic safety standards. >> reporter: who came armed with revolting new photos of the family's filthy rodent and bug-filled henhouses. >> how do you explain dead chickens in your hen-laying houses, the mice along the conveyor belt for the eggs? >> this here would not be acceptable. >> reporter: they tried to pin the salmonella outbreak on feed
coming into their farms but the f.d.a. says the facilities were so unsanitary the contamination could have come from anywhere. >> we are currently in the process of completely cleaning and disinfecting the entire mill from top to bottom. >> reporter: and because right county egg produces 2.4 million eggs a week, americans are still getting sick a month after the massive recall. >> your whole body head to toe is in agony. >> reporter: 30-year-old sara lewis was in and out of the hospital for weeks after eating a custard tart. >> i was in fetal position for i don't know how long. >> reporter: 77-year-old carol lobato-- who nearly died-- was unmoved by the decosters' rehabilitated apology. >> well, i would think with his past history it probably doesn't mean very much. >> reporter: she's referring to another salmonella outbreak that killed nine people back in 1987. remarkably, the decosters argued today that their operation is much cleaner now than it was
back then, katie. >> couric: all right. nancy cordes on capitol hill. nancy, thank you. and later in this broadcast, we'll have a special investigation you won't want to miss. we'll show you the huge holes in the government's food safety net. also on capitol hill, the last time republicans took control of the house in 1994, they did it with their so-called contract with america. now they're trying to take control again with some they're calling a pledge to america. it calls the present government "arrogant and out of touch." they're pledging, among other things, to reduce the size of government, stop what they call job-killing tax hikes and repeal and replace what they see as the government takeover of health care. chip reid is our white house correspondent, he's here in new york for a change tonight. chip, the republicans are really throwing down the gauntlet on this. what are administration officials saying about it? >> well, katie, the white house is calling it "the same old failed special interest policies that created the economic crisis in the first place." if the republicans were to take
control of congress and if they were able to pass this kind of plan-- and this is a huge if-- president obama would veto it. but this republican plan, we've got to understand, is really a campaign document. no one's really expecting it to become law as a total plan. >> couric: i know earlier today the president was in northern virginia talking about health care reform which, as you mentioned, the republicans are threatening to repeal. why was he revisiting this topic today when he's been so criticized for initially not focusing on the economy? >> well, katie, he's trying to help democrats who are being just hammered out on the campaign trail on health care reform. so today he highlighted a number of popular provisions of the bill that take effect tomorrow. for example, starting tomorrow insurance companies will be barred from denying coverage to children because of preexisting conditions. insurance companies will also no longer be allowed to put a lifetime limit on the amount of coverage and children will be allowed to stay on their parents' insurance plans until their 26th birthday. katie, when he signed the bill six months ago, approval of
health care reform was 37%. after talking about it a lot, it's still at 37%. hasn't gone up a bit. >> couric: all right. chip reid. chip, thank you, nice to have you in new york. and it didn't take long. the insurance industry has already found a way around that preexisting condition provision for children's policies. don't sell any. and that could affect a half million americans under the age of 18. sharyl attkisson has that story. >> reporter: auto technician toby serrano hoped health care reform would cure his family's insurance ills. daughter maria has a history of brain procedures as a young child, a preexisting condition that's keeping her from getting affordable health insurance. but the family was filled with hope by this unqualified promise. >> starting in september some of the worst abuses will be banned forever. no more discriminating against children with preexisting conditions. those days are over. >> when health reform passed, you know, it definitely saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
>> reporter: now reality has set in. insurers may be bard from refusing kids like maria with preexisting conditions, but some have found a way around that-- stop offering certain policies in the first place. the ones that cover a child instead of the whole family. aetna, anthem blue cross and cigna are among the companies announcing that as early as tomorrow they'll stop selling child-only policies in many states. that's the very type of policy the serranos were hoping to buy for maria. >> i feel bad for myself but then i also think about everyone else. >> reporter: it doesn't affect anyone who now has insurance, but it does impact the families of an estimated half million children who might have wanted child-only policies. now nonprofits like this one in the serrano's home state of colorado worry they'll have to pick up the slack. >> a new stress, i guess, from the more demand out there for those that are uninsured. we could find ourselves in trouble. >> reporter: some insurers say they'd rather lose the small market of child-only policies
all together than be forced to cover kids with preexisting conditions. >> they're going to have very, very high health care costs that are going to have to be borne out by everybody else who has health insurance. and that's a system that's simply not sustainable. >> reporter: we asked the insurance lobby to provide their numbers and projections as to just how expensive it can be to cover children with preexisting conditions but they declined to provide any figures. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, washington. >> couric: for more on the story, you can go to our partner in health news webmd.com and search health care reform. while the president initiated health care reform, he inherited the war in afghanistan, but now it's become his after making the decision to send thousands of addition a troops with the ultimate goal of ending it. but according to a new book but journalist bob woodward, another battle has been raging behind the scenes. david martin got an advanced copy and has some of the highlights. >> reporter: the title
"obama's wars" seems to refer as much to the infighting among the president's closest advisors to the fighting on the battlefield. national security advisor jim jones refers to political advisors like david axelrod as "the politburo" and "the mafia." >> i think the frustration that everybody's feeling that there's no easy winning formula in afghanistan is spreading in a negative way in the white house. people are sniping at each other, who's to blame, who's wrong? >> reporter: the strategy review that resulted in sending 30,000 more troops to afghanistan pitted a military which wanted more troops and more time against a commander-in-chief who wanted a speedy exit. general petraeus is quoted as calling it a war we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives. while the president tells defense secretary gates and secretary of state clinton "i'm not doing ten years." frustrated with the pentagon's rad vice, the president turned to the continue country's most famous military figure, former joint chiefs chairman and secretary of state colin powell
who told him "just because the generals are unanimous doesn't make them right." even after the 30,000 number was agreed upon, the pentagon came back for more. gates persuade it had president to give him authority to send in an additional 3,000 troops for critical missions such as medevac. the president insisted the surge troops start withdrawing by july, 2011, saying "we need to show some light at the end of the tunnel." the president told his military advisors "we will not be having a conversation about how to do more in afghanistan unless we're talking about how to draw down faster." katie? >> couric: david martin at the pentagon. david, thanks very much. 41 days now till the mid-material elections and we want to take a look at some of the critical contests in the battle for control of the senate, races in which the tea party movement could have a big impact. seven candidates backeded be by the tea party won the republican nominations and a cbs news election team analysis finds
most of them have an even or better chance of winning in november. the nominees in alaska and utah are likely to keep the seats republican. rand paul has the edge in kentucky. it's a tossup in colorado, florida, and nevada. and right now, christine o'donnell is the underdog in a race that is still competitive in delaware. here in new york, the tea party helped political novice carl paladino win the republican nomination for governor and now it's put him within striking distance of democrat andrew cuomo. in a new poll out today, paladino trails cuomo among likely voters by just six points. and tea partiers pick paladino over cuomo 4-1. now, keep in mind, the tea party is not actually a political party, it's a movement with any number of leaders, including people like sal russo. ben tracy now on the man who's helped brew a revolution. >> reporter: the tea party prides itself on its grass roots
a movement with no master. but when it comes to winning, 63-year-old sal russo may be the man behind the curtain. >> we've got to get everybody on the right page that growing the government, spending money that we don't have is the wrong answer. >> reporter: russo has been a republican strategist since the 1970s. now he heads the tea party express, run out of this office in sacramento, california. >> the tea party express and mark levin support common sense conservative christine o'donnell. >> reporter: russo's group has produced more than 24 t.v. ads, joined forces with tea party favorite sarah palin and organized 200 rallies. >> they're the ones who have managed to seize on the tea party momentum for the most fund-raising success and political success. >> reporter: in alaska, tea party express spent $600,000 to help unknown joe miller knock off incumbent republican senator lisa murkowski. in nevada, they took sharron angle from 5% in the polls to a now neck-in-neck race with senate majority leader harry
reid. and last week almost single-handedly helped christine o'donnell pull off an upset in delaware, defeating the moderate republican. >> nobody gave any of these candidates a chance. zero chance. and we turned them all into winners. >> reporter: but in delaware, o'donnell is now trailing the democrat by 16 points, a loss there in november could prevent republicans from taking back the senate. 60% of the people in the state don't think she's qualified to be their senator. did you back the wrong candidate? >> no, i think... i don't think so. i think she's great. >> reporter: that's because she calls herself a fiscal conservative. the only issue russo says he cares about. but now his own spending is being questioned. his group has doled out more than $8 million and more than half of that has gone to reimburse the political consulting firms run by russo and his wife-- not uncommon in politics, but more fuel for an ugly rift with other tea partiers. they worry the express is the republican party's attempt to co-opt their movement. >> they're a top-down organization designed to make
political expenditures based on what a small elite leadership team based out of a republican consulting firm in sacramento decides. >> reporter: what do you make of the criticisms? >> well, i would put in the one of three categories. it's either ignorant, stupidity or malice. >> reporter: but as a proven winner, russo no longer needs an invitation to the tea party-- he's already crashed it. ben tracy, cbs news, los angeles. >> couric: still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," the american spirit. she's out to change the shape of an entire city. but up next, food safety. slipping through the cracks. a special cbs news investigation. [ robin ] my name is robin. and i was a pack-a-day smoker for 25 years. i do remember sitting down with my boys, and i'm like, "oh, promise mommy you'll never ever pick up a cigarette." and brian looked at me at eight years old and said, "promise me you'll quit."
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as a matter of fact, people like what we're saying so much, ford fusion is now the 2010 motor trend car of the year. the fusion, from ford. get in . . . and drive one. >> c ouric: those tainted eggs we mentioned earlier have a lot of people asking "now do i know my food is safe?" government agencies are supposed to be regulating the food supply, but taken together, they make up an alphabet soup of oversight, a recipe chief investigative correspondent armen keteyian reports that can lead to confusion and contamination. >> reporter: estimates are 76 million americans get sick from food-borne illnesses every year. 325,000 sick enough to end up in the hospital. last year, the number of salmonella cases for one strain was one-third higher than a decade ago.
>> it's so frustrating to know that nothing ever gets done. >> reporter: jeff's mother died two years ago after getting salmonella poisoning from peanut butter. >> to find out it was smag that could have been prevented, it just... you feel cheated, angry. >> reporter: angry at a bewildering food safety system filled with gaps and overlaps. 15 federal agencies spending more than $2 billion a year to enforce at least 30 different laws. the key agencies-- the u.s.d.a., which oversees meat and poultry, and the f.d.a., everything else. >> it seems nobody bears any responsibility when things go bad. >> reporter: just check out a local grocery store where logic seems in short supply. take a look at this. beef broth made in a plant regulated by the u.s.d.a. which inspects everyday. but chicken broth made in a plant regulated by the f.d.a. which is inspected once every five years. in the frozen food aisle, cheese pizza is regulated by the f.d.a.
pepperoni pizza? well, that's the u.s.d.a. the fish? well, that's f.d.a.-- except one, catfish, that's u.s.d.a. and that u.s.d.a. seal on a carton of eggs doesn't mean they're safe, it means they've been checked for size and shape. the result-- contaminated spinach from california, peanuts from georgia, and last month, eggs from iowa that sickened more than 1,600 people. >> multiple agencies really just pointing fingers at each other rather than actually providing consumer protections. >> reporter: here's how that protection failed in iowa. the f.d.a. was supposed to inspect the henhouses but never did. 50 feet away, the u.s.d.a. inspected the packing facility everyday but was not allowed inside the henhouse where outside investigators later discovered an eight-foot pile of manure. the u.s.d.a. refused to speak to
us on camera but in a statement said: this incident exemplifies the critical need to make improvements in the food safety system. a bill to overhaul the food safety system has been held up by partisan bickering in the senate for over a year. >> how does that make any sense? >> reporter: only adding to almer's pain. >> people's lives hang in the balance on this bill. >> reporter: as questions about the safety of what we eat only grow. armen keteyian, cbs news, new york. >> couric: there's a new food recall today, the makers of sim lack are voluntarily recalling five million containers of powdered baby formula across the u.s., guam and the caribbean. some were found to contain insects. we'll be right back. if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. no weigh? nope. no way. yeah.
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>> couric: 98 years after the "titanic" disaster, we're still learning more about it. in a new book, the granddaughter of the ship's second officer claims two key blunders were to blame. louise patten writes that a crew member misunderstood a command and steered into the iceberg instead of away from it. then the chairman of the white star line insisted the "titanic" keep sailing instead of waiting for rescue ship which is may have caused it to sink faster, killing 1,500 people. patten says her grandfather told no one but his family, fearing the information would ruin the company. there may also be a new take on a biblical story. >> behold his mighty hand! >> couric: who can forget
charlton heston's portrayal of moses leading the israel lights out of slavery in egypt by parting the read sea. new research suggests that could have happened naturally-- not in the red sea but delta. scientists have developed a computer model showing a 60 miles an hour wind blowing from the east could actually push back enough water to create a dry passage. and coming up next, she's leading the battle over vicksburg-- a battle of the bulge. want to transform dinner from blah to oh la la?
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>> couric: finally tonight, it is no secret this country has a weight problem and mississippi has the dubious distinction of being the fastest state of all. one out of three adults who live there is obese. but a woman name advocate linda is out to change that-- one step at a time. kelly cobiella has her story in tonight's "american spirit." >> reporter: one saturday a month just after sunrise in vicksburg, mississippi... >> let's go! >> reporter: linda fondren gets ready for a walk and nearly 100 friend, neighbors, and perfect strangers tag along. >> thank you for walking with us today. >> reporter: linda is on a mission to slim down her entire hometown. >> people want to do better so the challenge for them is get out there and do it. you take the lead! you go!
>> reporter: linda never struggled with her weight but her sister mary did. when she died of cancer, linda vowed to help others like her sister to lead healthier lives. she began by opening a gym just for women. last fall she challenged them and the rest of the community of nearly 25,000 to lose weight together. she began organizing walks and exercise classes. >> you get to come together in an environment where people look like you, have the same problem as you, so you begin to not feel so bad about yourself and you think there's hope. >> reporter: in the past year, the city of vicksburg has lost a combined 15,000 pounds! and there's no stopping them. angie wilkin son has dropped nearly 30 pounds. she now walks for her brother who died of heart failure in march. >> the day he died he told me how proud he was because i stuck
with it. >> reporter: for linda, the walks are just a warmup. >> good job! >> reporter: every saturday, entrance to her gym is free. she also leads a nutrition class complete with a dietitian and a field trip to the grocery store. >> that's where you're going to get a lot of different nutrients. >> we're going to be an example. from the fattest to the fittest. i like that! >> reporter: and while this town has already lost thousands of pounds, they've gained a lot more in return. >> you're great for continuing on. >> reporter: kelly cobiella, cbs news, vicksburg, mississippi >> couric: and that's the "cbs evening news," i'm katie couric. thanks for watching. good night.