tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC January 7, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
family autos and that is going to do it for us. >> have tonight on "world news," on edge. one day after two packages ignite at government offices in maryland, another ignites in washington. this one, addressed to the homeland security secretary. who's behind these attacks? job hunt. payrolls are up. the unemployment rate down. new signs of recovery. but the economic hole is deep and the climb is slow. water warning. there really can be too much of a good thing. the tap water staple that may be hurting your teeth. and, towering achievement. a mighty milestone for a trail-blazing woman, every inch a fighter. diane sawyer with our "person of the week."
good evening. as we come on the air tonight, we've learned that america's top homeland security official has been the target of an explosive package. just about 24 hours after two parcels ignited at government offices in maryland, another one went off at a federal post office in washington, d.c. it was addressed to the secretary of homeland security, janet napolitano. pierre thomas is on the story again tonight. and pierre, this really raises the stakes for security officials. >> reporter: george, it really does. the device was sent to a postal facility not far from where i'm standing. as you can see, police have sealed off the area. the devices, as you said, are similar in nature to two devices sent to maryland officials yesterday. the device was sent, as you said, to homeland security secretary janet napolitano. she and her team have been informed and now officials across this region are on high alert. >> you say that her team has been informed, but has there been a change in her security? >> reporter: no change.
one official told me, this device did not have a prayer of getting anywhere near homeland security secretary napolitano. >> last night, you reported as the fear security officials had about copy cats. are they any closer to figuring out who might be behind this? >> reporter: george, a profile is developing. this is someone very angry at the government. in particular, very upset and frustrated about the notion of public awareness, raising public awareness about terrorism. but the person, officials say, appears to want to maim and scare, but not to kill. >> okay, pierre thomas, thank you very much. also in washington today, the government reported the biggest drop in unemployment in more than a decade. and for the 12th straight month, private employers hired more workers than they let go. but the 103,000 new jobs added in december was not as many as economists expected, and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4%, mostly because so many americans just stopped looking for work. shortly after those numbers came out, the president announced the newest recruits to his economic team. jake tapper is at the white house.
and jake, not surprisingly, the president stressed what he called the positive news in today's report. >> reporter: that's exactly right, george. these numbers released today mean that last year, the nation added 1.1 million jobs, but the economy still has some fundamental weaknesses that mean we may not be fully out of the woods for at least another half decade. >> reporter: the president chose to accentuate the positive. 2010 showed job growth. >> each quarter was stronger than the previous quarter, which means that the pace of hiring is beginning to pick up. >> reporter: visiting the thompson creek window factory in maryland this morning, the president heralded a brand new 100% tax write-off for businesses to make new investments. >> that's going to help thompson creek renovate, expand and add another 100 new employees right here. >> reporter: today's report showed the most growth in the leisure and hospitality industry. health care. and temp work. the job growth is real for this
woman. unemployed for the last 14 months, she just, this week, started a new administrative job. >> day five, new job, loving every second of it. >> reporter: but federal reserve chairman ben bernanke on capitol hill today underlined that the current pace of job growth means high unemployment will continue. >> it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully. >> reporter: the fact that the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% last month is deceptive. some of the drop occurred because half a million workers stopped looking for work. some joining the ranks of the millions of so-called 99ers. unemployed for more than 99 weeks and no longer able to collect unemployment insurance. >> even with extensions that were made in december, that doesn't help someone who has been unemployed for 99 weeks. >> reporter: if you add the number of unemployed to those who are underemployed, part-time workers who can't find full-time work or those who are vastly
overqualified, the total is 25.7 million americans looking for work. or, 1 in 6 workers. among them, laid-off defense analyst ruth berg, who took a job selling shoes, making a third of her previous salary. >> i thought i could weather this, but now i've gone through the savings and i'm somewhat dependent on the charity of my family. >> reporter: all of this, george, while u.s. corporations are prepared to report their most profitable fourth quarter in 19 years while they sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash. george? >> and they have to invest that cash if the jobs are going to come back. jake tapper, thank you. in mississippi today, two sisters walked out of prison after 16 years. their life sentences for a petty robbery set aside under unusual circumstances. the governor, haley barbour, agreed to the release only if the healthy sister donates a kidney to the other. steve osunsami was there. >> reporter: after 16 years in a mississippi prison --
>> we're free! we're free! >> reporter: today, gladys and jamie scott walked outside, smelled the fresh air and felt the sunshine as free women. >> it's a great day that justice has finally come to a place where it seldom comes. >> i haven't woke up, it's been a dream. it's been a dream to me and i'm so grateful. god knows i am so grateful. >> reporter: they were serving double life sentences, extra hard time, for their role in a robbery that yielded just $11. the three others who actually stole the money testified against them and served less than three years. >> they did their time. more than their time. >> reporter: the governor, whose office did not return phone calls today, has explained that he's only releasing the two sisters to save the state money. the older sister needs a new kidney. the governor has agreed to release them if the younger sister will give her one. >> you know it costs us $190,000 a year for dialysis for just one patient? >> reporter: the president of
the naacp and supporters who marched outside the governor's office for months believe he's hiding a heart. >> i have no doubt that the reason that the governor let them out is that this is a grave injustice. >> reporter: the mother of the two sisters, who, tonight, we hear, is already braising the collard greens, doesn't give the governor so much credit. >> the governor of mississippi did this for political reasons. i heard he was running for president, and that is why he did it. i don't think the governor did it because he opened his heart to do it. >> reporter: the sisters are now on their way to family in florida where they will meet with doctors. >> it was times when we want to give up, but i told my sister, i say, we're going to make it. we're coming up out of here. we're not going to die. >> reporter: they say the world has changed so much since 1994, and they're trying to soak it in. >> thank y'all so much for everything. >> reporter: steve osunsami, abc news, jackson, mississippi. generals often get caught fighting the last war. well, it turns out it happens to politicians, too. after many here in the northeast were caught flat-footed by that post-christmas blizzard,
officials pulled out all the stops to be ready for the storm headed here today. it just wasn't much of a storm. sharyn alfonsi is in manhattan. where, as "the new york times" observed, there seemed to be a truck for every snowflake. >> reporter: truck-mounted cameras feeding live video to city haul. gps to track plows. 365 salt spreaders and 1,700 pl plows standing by. there's just one problem. it's hardly snowpocalypse 2011. the city really feels more like a snow globe today. the snow is barely even sticking, even my boots feel like overkill. >> i'll leave it to the pundits to talk about overdone or whatever. >> reporter: new york mayor mike bloomberg now facing criticism that today's massive effort is really just about digging out his political career. 71% of new yorkers say he did a bad job handling the holiday blizzard. streets went unplowed for days. trash piled up. and some still hasn't been picked up. the city, the mayor, once
thought to be a possible presidential contender, now, a running joke. >> to be fair, the plows couldn't get out there and clean up the snow because of all the snow. >> reporter: but it's not just bloomberg deking out today. new jersey governor chris christie, a rising star in the republican party, was reportedly in disney world during the blizzard. his plan today? >> i'm going to be out shoveling myself. that's the state's plan. i'll be on the turnpike, mile marker 78. >> reporter: an aide says he actually spent the day in the office. and now, another storm, like the one that left the south reeling a few weeks ago, is expected to bring snow and ice saturday night into sunday across the deep south. politicians, take notice. sharyn alfonsi, abc news, new york. >> they will. american automakers are bouncing back and gas prices are climbing, as one of the biggest car events of the year begins this weekend. two reasons the atmosphere at the detroit auto show is electric, as in electric cars.
today, ford unveiled its entry, promising the car will be rolling off the assembly line by year's end. here's chris bury. >> reporter: this afternoon in new york and las vegas, ford made its modern electric debut. >> presenting the all-new ford focus electric. >> reporter: for ford, it's back to the future. in 1914, henry ford's wife drove this electric car. now, their great-grandson, bill, in an exclusive interview, says such cars are critical to ford. >> to me, these are very much about signaling where this company is heading and where this country ought to be headed. >> reporter: we got a chance to test drive the new model. the electric focus is far more than a glorified golf cart. it accelerates quickly and quietly. 0 to 60 in less than ten seconds. unlike gm's volt, ford's electric car has no gasoline engine to back up the battery. its range? 80 to 100 miles. and a smart phone app talks to
the car. you can call up your car and tell it to charge. >> charge now or wait to charge until the utility rate goes down. >> reporter: ford is just the latest automaker to mass produce plug-in cars. electrics and hybrids are still a tiny sliver of the market, but they could make up 10% by 2020, depending on how many charging stations are built across the country. you're talking about hundreds of thousands of charging stations. >> yes, absolutely. and i believe that's going to be necessary in this country. >> reporter: nearly 100 years after ford's experiment with electric cars, the company says this time, they are here to stay. chris bury, abc news, beardearb, michigan. and, still ahead on "world news," too much of a good thing? why your drinking water could be hurting your teeth. a lesson in how to play well with others, from an unlikely source. and, how a tiny titan steamrolled her way into the history books. one step stool at a time. diane sawyer with our "person of
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most of us grew up with the idea that more fluoride meant better teeth. and health officials believe putting fluoride in water is one of the top ten public health accomplishments of the century. but a new study says too much fluoride is damaging the teeth of more than 1 in 3 teens. so, for the first time in 50 years, the federal government is reversing course and recommending less fluoride in water. here's ron claiborne. >> reporter: ever since the 1940s, fluoride has been artificially added to drinking water to help fight tooth decay. it's been credited with reducing cavities by up to 50%. but even then, there were critics that complained about injecting a chemical into drinking water. a view satirized in the 1960s movie "dr. strange love." >> do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we've ever had to face? >> reporter: but today, the federal government called for reducing the amount of fluoride
in water, to protect children from a tooth disease called flor fluorisis. >> making this adjustment now will promote public health, improve oral health and reduce rates of fluorisis. >> reporter: for years, fluoride has been added to toothpaste and is in other products we eat and drink. the government says americans are now ingesting too much fluoride. its new recommendation, no more than .7 milligrams for every liter of drinking water. down from 1.2 milligrams a liter. new york, chicago and minneapolis, along with many others, whose water has higher numbers of fluoride, will have to reduce their levels to meet the new recommendations. this doctor says he's treated some severe cases of fluorisis in children. >> the teeth become brittle and weak. you have to treat them with either crowns or new facings and it can be costly.
>> reporter: critics say fluoride can cause greater damage than just brittle teeth. even the national research council, whose 2006 was cited today by the epa, linked it to bone damage and increased risk of fractures. the government says there's no evidence fluoride causes serious illness. the only concern for now, the potentially serious damage to children's teeth. and the president of the american academy of pediatric dentistry says parents need to be vigilant about all the wakes children can ingest fluoride, including swallowing toothpaste. give them only a pea-sized amount on the toothbrush so they're much less likely to eat a big glob of toothpaste with fluoride on it. >> okay, ron, thank you. we have a brief clarification from last night, when we reported on the pentagon's plan for steep budget cuts, including cuts to ground forces. we told you the cuts included higher health insurance premiums for active soldiers. in fact, the higher premiums would only apply to working-age retirees. and coming up, animal kingdom odd couples.
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>> reporter: this baby leopard lives with john and jenny on their sprawling 1,500 acres in south africa. her best friend is tommy -- the golden retriever. >> just thinks it's natural to have a leopard as a sister. >> there's your friend. >> reporter: it does carry risks. leopards are predators. but nature does give us other examples. the canadian polar bears that visit these huskies every year. the baby elephant and the sheep. they ate together, played together and slept together. and, yes, even a lion and tiger and bear. these three now live on a refuge outside atlanta, together, as friends. for some reason, it just works. >> you have animals who would probably never have a reason to even know that each other exists. >> reporter: lions and tigers and bears. sometimes there's nothing left to say but -- oh, my. john berman, abc news, new york.
and, you can see a lot more of these oh my friendships tonight on the national geographic channel. how is this for a comeback? eric legrand, a 20-year-old football star at rutgers university, was paralyzed from the waste down during a game last october. doctors put his chances of a full recovery between 0% and 5%. today, legrand told our sister network espn he's regained sensation in his body, can even move his shoulders. and that's not all. >> i believe that i will walk again one day. i believe it. god has a plan for me, and i know it's not to be sitting here all the time. >> reporter: the rutgers community adopted a one-word slogan to spur him on. believe. and legrand says that's made all the difference. and coming up, the scrappy fighter maker history. our "person of the week."
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the 74-year-old told diane sawyer that working in the senate makes her feel 15 years younger on the inside. >> the history of the women in the senate is short. i might add, 4'11" short. >> reporter: through 35 years on capitol hill, barbara mikulski's size never diminished her towering presence. >> you might not be able to see me over the microphone, but i hope that you can hear me. >> reporter: fearless -- >> get ready to fight. >> reporter: direct -- >> i will not vote for something that is a gamble. >> reporter: and now, as she enters her fifth term in the senate, she says, she is humbled. >> i never thought of myself as a historical figure. to me, history is powdered wigs and jane adams and abigail adams. dad, i know you're watching, and your daughter is now a united states senator. >> reporter: your dad was a grocer?
>> yeah, my father was a grocer. but politicians were a political machine, old games who smoked cigars with pot bellies. and this table was my mother's dining room table. it was a small table. this is where, as a girl, i did my homework. >> reporter: also fresh in her memory, that first day in the senate. >> i was absolutely awestruck. these big pillars and these big guys. we believe in nonviolent protest. >> reporter: but this small fighter was not intimidated. with some help, she cleared those microphones, showing the men she would stand just as tall. a quarter of a century later, the scrappy spirit, just as strong as ever. >> i caught this fish. i named it newt gingrich during that time. because i wanted people to know i've gotten my hooks into him. >> reporter: do you have a very best day in these years? >> when i stood on the senate floor during the health care debate. >> reporter: mikulski pushed
through an amendment requiring free mammograms and other preventative services for women. >> women wore pink jackets, the men pink ties. that was a day when we knew we were making history and helping save lives. >> reporter: and what was her worst day? september 11th. >> it was a terrible day. but that day, when we stood on the capitol steps -- ♪ god bless america >> i would never want to go back to that day, but i would go back that feeling of togetherness. >> reporter: and for a moment this week, mikulski's colleagues did come together again, both parties, to honor her achievement for america's mothers, sisters, daughters. a place in the record books. >> this is a very special time, because we've made history. wouldn't eleanor roosevelt be proud? that women in high office will never be a novelty again. i'm so proud that there are more women here, including from the other party.
every time a new one of us comes, they bring new ideas, new energy and gives a lot of other young girls the belief that they can do it, too. >> and so we choose barbara mikulski. she says it's not about how long she's served, but how well. congratulations, senator. that's all for us tonight. david muir will be here tomorrow. diane's back monday, and i'll see you that morning on "gma." have a great weekend. a light earthquake shakes up nearly the entire bay area, we're going to have latest information for you san francisco appears to have a new mayor in a vote late today. >> and plus, everyone wanted him but 49ers got him.
jim harbaugh taking talents north. >> and the smashing success of a project by a singing duo and a teacher to increase literacy in richmond. >> good evening, everyone. a magnitude 4.1 earthquake rattled the bay area. and widely that it struck a 4:10 in the afternoon centered east of san jose city hall. it hit 4.4 miles underground and there is a no reports of injuries or damage autos this is what it looked like on the seismograph. two after shocks, including one had a magnitude of 2.6. and