tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS December 17, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
>> couric: tonight, wikileaks founder julian assange out of jail and defiant. >> no doubt some prosecutors are seeking to gain a bit of fame and reputation by taking us on. but they're going to lose. >> couric: i'm katie couric. also tonight, a major tax deal is signed by the president. republicans are elated, but many democrats are deflated. google tells us how words have changed through the ages, giving us a window on the world. and a football player plays secret santa and gives the gift of life. 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. the founder of wikileaks is threatening to post still more secret documents. julian assange reported today to a police station outside london as part of his bail agreement. he's wanted in sweden on sexual assault charges, allegations he says are part of a smear campaign. by his biggest risk, he says, is getting extradited to the u.s. where a criminal investigation is under way into the leak of secret government documents. meanwhile, u.s. army private bradley manning is facing a possible court-martial. he's suspected of giving state secrets to wikileaks. but when i spoke with assange earlier today, he denied that he had had any contact with manning >> our technology means we don't know who is submitting us material. the name "bradley manning" was first heard by us when we read an article about his arrest in "wired" magazine. >> couric: mr. assange, so
neither you nor wikileaks provided by any thys to private... technical assistance to private manning before he exfill traited this information? >> well, i assume that is correct. remember, we've never heard the name of bradley manning before. but it's interesting you're raising that particular question because it's something that appears to be coming out of attempts to conflate media activities with espionage. that's a serious business. no doubt some prosecutors are seeking to gain a fair bit of fame and reputation by taking us on, but they're going to lose. >> couric: can you explain, mr. assange, to people who may not understand your motives or agree with you why you've done this, what you hope to accomplish? >> katie, we have a four-year publishing history. we have published materials provided by to us by whistle-blowers from 110
countries across the world. we simply have a very easily understood promise, unlike most media organizations. we don't arbitrarily choose what to publish or not to publish based upon a political or personal whim. we have a publicly stated policy that, like lawyers, we are journalists that will assist sources getting out certain information to the public. it is information that is of diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance. and this material is clearly of great human rights and political significance, clearly of ethical and historical significance. >> couric: some of the documents released, mr. assange, contained highly sensitive information, for example, about sites around the world particularly vulnerable to terrorism. what good comes from releasing that kind of information that could, in fact, cost lives? >> well, the facts are
important, katie. so you mentioned a specific incident, so let's get past the spin and look at the facts. that particular cable was one of a series of instructions give on the diplomats to engage in espionage activities in their country and said explicitly to not consult the host nations, not consult the governments responsible for actually secreting these facilities or the people around them. it didn't contain any information about g.p.s. coordinates or security procedures used. just the base names of some of these things. and it's really of significant interest, for example, that the center of u.s. power in the government believes that a particular plant for producing iodine in sweden in case the u.s. goes to a nuclear war is important. >> couric: are there certain secrets, classified government information, that you believe
should, in fact, remain secret? because you do redact some material from what you publish. >> we're an organization that attempts to promote human rights by revealing abuses that are concealed. so, of course, we never want to be in the position where through our releases we are actually causing harm to individuals, or at least more harm than the good we are causing. and through our four-year publishing history there has never been an example of any individual coming to any sort of physical harm at all that has been alleged. the u.s. government has made it clear that when it has been asked it has not been aware of any single incident. >> couric: julian assange, thank you very, very much for your time tonight. >> thank you, katie. good night. >> couric: and about reports that wikileaks will soon be publishing documents damaging to bank of america and the leadership of russia, assange said cryptically "it will become
clear next year." now to a story that will affect virtually everyone in the country. late last night, the house gave final congressional approval to the tax cut deal, a vote of 277-148. and today president obama signed it into law. chip reid has more about what's in the law and who wasn't in the room for the signing. >> reporter: the president today called the tax package a victory for middle-class families. >> three there we go. (applause). >> reporter: at its heart, the bipartisan compromise mandates that the bush-era tax cuts will remain in place for all income groups for the next two years. >> this is real money that's going to make a real difference in people's lives. >> reporter: but for millions of americans, there's much more in the package than low-income tax rates. the bill also contains a one year two percentage point payroll tax cut, about a thousand dollars for the average family. for wealthy americans, there's a cut in the inheritance tax for business there's a 100%
deduction for investments in equipment next year. for out-of-work americans, a 13-month extension of jobless benefits and for low and middle-income earners, there's an extension of the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit and a credit to help pay for college tuition. after almost two years of fierce partisan warfare-- who didn't and didn't attend the signing ceremony showed how much things changed for this bill. senate republican leader mitch mcconnell, one of the president's fiercest critics, got a warm greeting for his role in the compromise. but conspicuously absent were congress' top two democrats, nancy pelosi and harry reid, revealing the strain this is compromise created in the president's party. >> that's the nature of compromise: yielding on something each of us cares about to move forward on what all of us care about. >> reporter: the president said he understands compromise may be more difficult next year when republicans take over the house and increase their margin in the senate, but he also made clear he's hopeful that the
parties will find common ground again. katie? >> couric: chip reid reporting from the white house. thank you, chip. now to congressional correspondent nancy cordes on capitol hill. and, nancy, is it safe to say even the democrats who voted for this bill were not that happy about it? >> reporter: it is safe to say, katie. in fact, many of them didn't vote for it. at best, democrats viewed this as a necessary compromise and at worst as a sellout. >> the motion is adopted. >> reporter: house members passed the bill moments before midnight. tonight republican leaders declared victory. >> congress has acted to stop all of the tax hikes that were scheduled to go into effect january 1. >> reporter: g.o.p. support was critical. >> mr. chairman, i rise in opposition to the bill. >> reporter: with nearly half of all house democrats voting against the deal their own president had brokered. >> $1.7 trillion! >> reporter: even speaker pelosi railed against it. >> we just don't see why we have to give an extra tax cut to the wealthiest and then an
extra-extra estate tax ben pitt to the top one quarter percent. >> reporter: liberals tried to strike those inheritance tax cuts from the bill last night with no success. >> i don't believe this is any more efficient on many of the provisions than if we stood at the front of the capitol and shoveled money out into the snow. >> reporter: the tax deal's swift passage does give democrats time to try to pass some of their other priorities before republicans take control of the house in january. the senate will vote tomorrow on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. >> i'm confident... let's say for now i'm confident we've got more than 60 votes. >> reporter: one thing that won't pass is that funding bill that was laden with billions in earmarks from both parties. republicans who recently swore off earmarks, withdrew their support for the bill after being accused in some quarters of hypocrisy. katie? >> couric: nancy cordes on capitol hill. thanks, nancy. in other news, it's been two years since bernard madoff 'fessed up to his ponzi scheme as it was collapsing around him.
since then, more than 16,000 claims have been filed and so far the court-appointed trustee has allowed more than 2,300 to go forward. one madoff client, though, who did not lose money was the late jeffrey picower. today his family agreed to give billions back to madoff's victims. here's our chief investigative correspondent armen keteyian. >> >> reporter: what do you have to say to the public? of all the investors tied to the epic fraud, philanthropist jeffrey picower may have been bernard madoff's single biggest beneficiary, reaping some $7 billion in profit over the years. >> so many assets if for madoff victims. >> reporter: today, however, it was thousands of those madoff victims who benefited. federal prosecutors announcing a deal to recover all of that money, $7.2 billion, from picower's estate and holdings, the largest single civil settlement in u.s. history. >> the agreement resolves a complaint we filed this morning seeking to recover the profits
that the picowers received over the course of 35 years from bernard madoff. >> reporter: in may, 2009, irving picard, the trustee in charge of recovering money lost in the scheme, sued the publicity-shy picower and his wife citing outrageous annual returns as high as 950% on madoff investments. at a time, average returns on the market were only about 9%. >> we are hopeful that positive and fair outcomes like this of the picower negotiations and several of our other settlements can and will be repeated. >> reporter: today picard set his sights on others. in october, 2009, picower was found dead of a heart attack in a swimming pool in his palm beach, florida, mansion at the age of 67. today his widow issued a statement saying in part: >> i think it's great that picard has gotten back the kind of money he's gotten back.
it's my hope that all of the investors will ultimately benefit from the kind of money that he can recover. >> reporter: the settlement more than triples the money available to repay victims to about $10 billion, about half of what is estimated to have been lost in this historic fraud. armen keteyian, cbs news, new york. >> couric: to money matters of a very different kind. tomorrow is the saturday before christmas. traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. business correspondent anthony mason reports retailers appear to be getting what they wanted most this year. >> reporter: it's the home stretch for holiday shopping. >> the prices are so good. everybody's got sales. >> reporter: and for retailers, it's already looking like the best season in years. >> the american consumer is back. >> reporter: americans are hitting the malls to shop for gifts. >> but because the sales are so good i bought mostly for myself. >> we've seen an increase in self-gifting, and this kick k make the difference between a
good holiday season and a great holiday season. >> reporter: a recent survey showed shoppers plan to spend an average of $107 on themselves this is year. that's $6 more than last year. in terms of customer attitude, what are you seeing? >> they're not afraid anymore. >> reporter: last night's holiday shopping party at d'errico jewelers in scarsdale, new york, was mobbed and owner sal d'errico says sales are up in every price range. >> there's a pulse out there, it's picking up. >> reporter: are we watching the turn in confidence in front of our eyes here? >> yes. >> reporter: economist lakshman achuthan. >> it begins to feed on itself also. the confidence that you see with one person purchasing feeds off on another. >> reporter: that's important because consumers drive 70% of the u.s. economy. the national retail federation is forecasting more than $450 billion in sales. >> it's the probably strongest holiday since 2006. >> reporter: that would take sales back to prerecession
levels. >> it's in sight. >> reporter: and make the holiday season glitter again for retailers. anthony mason, cbs news, scarsdale, new york. >> couric: and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," one man saved the other's life yet they never even met-- until now. but up next, the world according to google. a story told by 500 billion words. mmmm. you don't love me anymore do you billy? what? i didn't buy this cereal to sweet talk your taste buds it's for my heart health. good speech dad. [ whimper ] [ male announcer ] honey nut cheerios tastes great and its whole grain oats can help lower cholesterol. bee happy. bee healthy. and the life you want to live. with rheumatoid arthritis,ol. there's the life you live... fortunately there's enbrel, the #1 most doctor-prescribed biologic medicine for ra. enbrel can help relieve pain, stiffness, fatigue,
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>> couric: imagine having every word from more than five million books at your fingertips. well, now you do. google has rolled out the world's biggest database of works published over the last 500 years. and john blackstone tells us it's full of surprising discoveries. >> reporter: for centuries, people have been searching for knowledge in books, but never before in a way that google has now made possible. the search giant has digitally copied 5.2 million books published since 1500. from those, they built a database of 500 billion words and made it available for all to search. the result? a new google tool that provides instant insight into language, culture, and trends over time. ♪ this little girl of mine... >> reporter: here's how it works. put in a word like "teenager" and discover the word was almost
unused until the 1950s. put in two words "men" and "women" and discover while men dominated for centuries, they've been in sharp decline since the 1940s while women have come on strong. put in saving and spending and discover that in literature-- as in life-- spending shot up from the 1980s while saving went nowhere. >> and you can go on to the system and see these phrases wax and wayne. i think that's fabulous. >> reporter: for linguist geoff nunberg, google is serving up a feast. >> >> when did people start talking about arugula? that goes back to the '60s and you see the curve go straight up. at the same time you can see things like pork and beans going down. >> reporter: it may not be news that "groovy" peaked in 1972. but guess what? it's been making a steady comeback for more than a decade. history is reflected in war and peace.
"war" has always been on top, getting understandably big bumps during the two world wars. but for all the information that google is processing, linguist nunberg reminds us that it all begins on the printed page. >> this is a really great technology. it's lasted about 1, 500 years and it will be around for another 1, 500 years. >> reporter: you can spend plenty of time for this discovering, for example, that dogs have been way ahead of cats since the 1740s. john blackstone, cbs news, san francisco. >> couric: and coming up next, when a political battle is more than a figure of speech. it's that time of year. time for campbell's green bean casserole. you'll find the recipe at campbellskitchen.com. campbell's.® it's amazing what soup can do.™
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>> couric: the highest-ranking american spy in pakistan was rushed back to the u.s. today after his cover was blown. the identity of the c.i.a. station chief was revealed in a lawsuit accusing him of orchestrating drone missile strikes that killed pakistani civilians. meanwhile, north korea said today another war with the south is only a matter of time. a war it predicted would go nuclear. the threat comes as the south prepares a live fire artillery drill on an island near the north. tonight u.s. envoy bill richardson is in north korea and calls the situation "a tinderbox." a political tinderbox of a different kind in ukraine. members of parliament started throwing punches and furniture after rival party leaders accused each other of political corruption. at least six lawmakers ended up in the hospital.
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this was. last year, matt donated his bone stem cells after his football team had mounted a registration drive. his cells were matched and transplanted into cancer patient warren sallach, who now, thanks to matt, is cancer-free. how. >> how are you feeling? >> better now. >> good. >> reporter: so outside the award ceremony, the donor from new jersey and the patient from texas met for the first time with families. both men said they needed to meet but worried about what to say. there's nothing you can say except thank you, and that doesn't cover it. >> reporter: is it too strong to say matt saved your life? >> no. >> the only thing he can do for me after me donating is for him to feel better. >> great job from matt off man, the leader of this team. >> reporter: in division 3 football, matt hoffman was the fearless star of the rowen university team. but doctors warned the drugs matt needed to even donate stem
cells would force an end to his junior year season. it was no contest. >> it's a football game, you know? they come and go. you have a man's life. it was very, very easy for me to choose. >> reporter: matt also chose to have warren's family sit at the center table during the awards. with warren's wife becky saying she was grateful not just for this but for every second. >> with the disease, your hope is shattered. >> reporter: and now? >> and now we have hope. >> reporter: in the end, the coveted trophy went to another worthy finalist, eric watt. matt hoffman did not win a football award, but the larger prize, the gift of life award, he'd won that already. wyatt andrews, cbs news, salem, virginia. >> couric: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric, thanks for watching this week.