tv ABC World News With David Muir ABC September 1, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
this is "world news." tonight, the poison revealed. the obama administration now saying it was sarin gas that killed more than 1,000 in syria, hundreds of children. where this new evidence comes from. and tonight, inside the white house, the moment the president surprised his team. and will the president act even if congress votes not to? flash floods. the dangerous storms hitting both coasts. and why millions of americans driving home tomorrow will find themselves in the middle of it. deadly levels. the stunning headline this sunday from the crippled fukushima plant. radiation levels 18 times higher than anyone thought. it can kill in hours. and tonight, what does it mean for america's shoreline? and a consumer alert tonight for the millions of americans who take acetaminophen. the new warning about to appear on bottles of tylenol. "world news" starts now.
good evening and thanks for being here on a sunday night. and we begin with that new evidence on the type of poison gas used to kill in syria. and a clearer portrait tonight of that moment, the president surprised his own team by putting any action against syria on hold, asking instead for a vote from congress. right here on abc's "this week," secretary of state john kerry now saying lab tests have shown conclusive proof that it was sarin gas used in that attack in damascus. and tonight, we're learning more about the president's bombshell decision, to put military action on hold, surprising even his closest national security advisers. the president now trying to convince members of congress, on the phone there with the speaker of the house. tonight, we have our team on all of this and the question, doesn't this simply give syria a lot more time to prepare? we begin here with our chief white house correspondent jon karl. jon, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, david. stunning is the only way to describe events this weekend.
now, the new white house mission is to convince a skeptical nation and a skeptical congress that it's time to act. trying to convince the public and congress to support military action, secretary of state kerry went on five talk shows, presenting dramatic new details on the evidence poison gas was used in syria. >> from first responders in east damascus, we have signatures of sarin in their hair and blood samples. >> reporter: kerry told george stephanopoulos he's confident congress will approve the president's plan for a limited military strike. >> we cannot allow assad to be able to gas people with impunity. and i believe the congress of the united states will understand that and do the right thing. >> but what if the votes aren't there? will the president act anyway? >> the president of the united states has the right to take this action. doesn't have to go to congress. >> but if i hear you correctly, you're saying that the president is going to act no matter what. >> no, i said the president has the right to act. >> so, will he?
>> george, we are not going to lose this vote. >> reporter: but how did we get from this -- >> i have decided that the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. >> reporter: to this -- >> i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people's representatives in congress. >> reporter: the move surprised even the president's top aides. they expected an order to attack would come over the weekend. but at 6:00 p.m. friday, president obama took a 45-minute walk around the south lawn of the white house, with his chief of staff. telling him, for the first time, that he had decided to go to congress. the photos tell the story. informing aides in the oval office friday night. then talking it over saturday with his national security team. some who expressed concerns about going to congress first. the biggest concern expressed by several members of the president's team was that congress could severely weaken and embarrass the president by voting no.
but david, as you heard from secretary kerry, the team now says they are convinced that congress will ultimately approve the resolution. >> jon karl leading us off. jon, thank you. as jon pointed out there, secretary kerry sounding very confident that they will get the votes they need for action in syria, getting congress on the president's side. but we wanted to know, what would happen if that vote were held right now? here's abc's senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny tonight. >> reporter: the skepticism runs deep in congress. >> the united states went to war in iraq based on the false claim. >> reporter: a rare sunday briefing at the capitol. more than 100 lawmakers, some still dressed for summer vacation, opened the syria debate. congress won't vote on the war resolution until next week, giving the white house time to build its argument against the syrian government. if the vote was taken today, several lawmakers told abc news they believe it would fail. >> if congress acts like the british parliament, i don't think we have done or responsibility. >> reporter: the outcome depends
on unusual alliances. some of the president's democratic allies are opposed to military action, saying they don't dispute chemical weapons, but are weary of another war. >> is there another way to hold assad accountable? >> reporter: and some of the president's republican rivals support military strikes. but hope he goes even further. >> the consequences of the congress of the united states overriding a decision of the president of the united states of this magnitude are really very, very serious. >> and jeff's back with us now. and jeff, we heard senator mccain there, but we also heard from republican senator mitch mcconnell who said president obama's role as commander in chief always strengthened when he enjoys the expless support of congress. unlikely allies here, as well. >> reporter: that's right, david. senator mcconnell did say that he's happy that president obama came to congress, but he did not say if congress would give the white house what it wants. david? >> jeff zeleny tonight, thank you. meanwhile, in syria tonight, anger from rebel groups, some of whom were counting on the u.s. to help weaken president assad's
hand. and from president assad himself, confidence tonight, on the phone with iran. as many who support him think they've won. abc's chief foreign correspondent terry moran is in our beirut bureau tonight. terry? >> reporter: david, there was relief, astonishment and a sense of triumph in the air in syria and right across this region in response to president obama's decision to delay that military strike until after he gets congressional approval, if he gets it. syrian government leaders crowed that they had intimidated the president into backing down. and arab social media was on fire with jokes and mocking what was perceived as the president's indecision and hesitation. in israel, worry and concern at the american commitment to this region. and among the syrian rebel forces, there was despair. smoke billowed from shelling in the damascus suburbs today. business as usual in the syrian civil war. president assad went back to work, meeting with an official from his powerful ally, iran.
>> it has become very clear for the american people and for the international public opinion that the allegations made by obama and his foreign secretary are incorrect and absolutely big lie. >> reporter: the syrian rebel forces and everyone else is going to have to wait longer for that strike. and it is impossible to describe how changed the perceptions of president obama and president bashar al assad are. there is nothing that millions of people in this region like better than seeing an arab leader stand up and defy the united states of america, even a leader who has made such a ruthless war on his own people. david? >> abc's terry moran tonight. terry, thank you. i want to bring in retired colonel steve ganyard, abc news military analyst. great to have you with us. and now that the president has put this to a vote in congress, put this off, have we just given the world and syria in particular the game plan here? will it be any different two weeks from now? >> david, i think the white
house has been very clear today that the strike that was ready to go last night or the night before, the one that was approved by the president, is the same strike we're going to execute two, three weeks from now, when the congress gives its assent. >> but steve, doesn't this give syria similarly more time to prepare? >> david, it does. and that's a risk, that the syrians could come in and harden some of those targets, move them around, but general dempsey has been very clear with the president. he believes that the military might of the five destroyers that we have out in the mediterranean will be able to take care of whatever changes on the ground the syrians may undertake. >> all right, steve ganyard, thanks to you and our entire team on this tonight. we do move on now, and to the weather this evening. massive storms on both coasts, flash flooding trapping drivers. abc meteorologist ginger zee with the pictures and the forecast for the millions hitting the roads to return home after the holiday weekend tomorrow. >> reporter: holiday weekend washout. in boston, flash flooding closing highways. up to three inches of rain falling in less than two hours.
and more than 2,500 miles west, at least a dozen water rescues. watch as this car plows into the muddy flood water in california. the driver getting out just in time as wave after wave buries his car. severe storms smothering the midwest. dropping tennis ball-sized hail in south dakota and a tornado in north dakota. >> and meteorologist ginger zee is with us now. and ginger, tomorrow millions will be back on the road returning home from their labor day weekend, and it's going to be very dangerous. >> reporter: right. unsettled for so many. i want to show you who and how much. we're talking rain, and it will be scattered, so, this is not an all-day rain everywhere. but in blue, that's up to a half inch of rain and some of the areas in new england getting more than an inch. so, something to watch for. >> so, give yourself a lot of time to get to where you are going. out west, the danger remains, too, with the flash flooding there which has been deadly. >> reporter: right. and this has been weeks on end that we've had this. very different for them. we still have flood watches and warnings for several states out
in the west and even close to the pacific northwest. i also want to tell you why this is happening. and why it's not going to stop. you have that high pressure system, it's pumping moisture, it rotates clockwise, so the back side pumps moisture right up against that stationary front. it gets stuck and you get flash flooding. >> all right, ginger zee, great to have you here. one more weather note tonight. this image out of taiwan. the driver caught in the blinding rains here and then watch this. a massive landslide sending an enormous boulder tumbling down right there, coming just inches away from crushing the car. the driver survived unscathed. back here at home and in the west tonight, firefighters are counting on the rain now to help fight that fire in yosemite national park. the fire now spreading across 348 square miles. tonight, there is progress. now 40% contained. but the thick smoke is now impacting air quality as far away as reno, nevada. authorities on the west coast tonight, also concerned with the stunning headline out of japan, where today, they revealed radioactive levels at the crippled fukushima nuclear
power plant are higher than first thought, much higher. and can kill within hours. what does that mean for the 72,000 gallons of water pouring out every day and headed our way? so much degree arriving already? and here's abc's aditi roy. >> reporter: it has been a two-year battle to clean up the toqfukushima daiichi nuclear po plant, after the unforgettable and devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled the country in march 2011. the japanese have been struggling with leak after leak. this being the fourth and worst from the plant. today, japanese authorities found that radiation levels surrounding the plant are 18 times higher than previously thought. enough to prove lethal within just four hours of exposure. while authorities struggle to stop the leaks, there are fears that the contaminated water could reach the u.s. in less than a year. some debris has already made its way to the west coast. battered fishing boats, appliances and other garbage. even fish. researchers who have been monitoring the water say the
radioactive material will be diluted enough to safe levels. good news for those who love coming here to the beach. david? >> that's reassuring, aditi, thank you. and to word tonight about a beloved leader. nelson mandela. he went home from the hospital in south africa today, brought by ambulance, where he will be watched very closely. abc's rob nelson is in johannesburg tonight. rob? >> reporter: good evening, david. after 86 days in the hospital, nelson mandela is back here in his home behind me tonight. he was released in the wee hours of sunday morning and brought here to his private home in a wealthy suburb of johannesburg. the government says his home has now been reconfigured to accommodate mandela's medical needs and that the same personnel from the hospital will be the ones monitoring his health while hall's here. mandela, of course, turned 95 years old back in july. at this point, he remains in critical but stable condition after first going to the hospital back on june 8th. doctors say his condition at times does become unstable but that overall, he has remained resilient throughout this ordeal
and has responded well to his treatment. family members we spoke to tonight said they are happy and relieved he is finally back home, but of course, the big question still remains. has mandela come home because he's actually doing better, or has he come home to live out his last days? david? >> all right, rob nelson there in south africa. rob, thank you. and to a loss tonight in britain. a famous journalist has died. and he was well known here in america, as well, because of the nearly 30 hours he spent sitting across from an american president, grilling richard nixon. >> hello, good evening and welcome. >> reporter: by his own assessment, david frost interviewed 10,000 people. athletes, entertainers, world leaders. and most famously, an american president. >> so, that is obstruction of justice? >> now, just a moment. >> period. >> that's your conclusion. >> it is. >> but now let's look at the facts. >> reporter: those interviews with richard nixon were what made david frost famous. for 29 hours, facing off in front of the cameras, after nixon left office. >> the president can decide that
it's in the best interest of the nation, or something, and do something illegal. >> or when the president does it, that means it is not illegal. >> reporter: with frost, nixon came very close to apologizing to the american people. >> i let the american people down. and i have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life. my political life is over. >> reporter: 45 million watched. the interview so dramatic -- >> one, you could get $1 million and you could get it in cash -- >> reporter: it was turned into a 2008 hollywood movie, "frost/nixon." >> one, you could get $1 million and you could get it in cash. i know where it can be gotten. two, your major guy to keep under control is -- >> stop you now right there, because you're quoting me out of context, out of order. and, i might add, i have participated in all these interviews without a single note in front of me. >> well, it is your life, mr. president. >> reporter: david frost was also a pioneer in satire, poking fun at the news long before "snl" or jon stewart.
hosting programs in england, australia, even here in the u.s. filling in right here on "good morning america." >> good morning, america, indeed, i'm david frost with joan london. >> yeah, david hartman is off today. >> reporter: and though he sat in our studio, it was that other moment, in that chair across from richard nixon that he'll be most remembered for. frost never stopped working. in fact, he was scheduled to interview britain's prime minister just this week. and one more image tonight from washington, and a first for a sitting supreme court justice. ruth bader ginsburg officiated a same sex wedding. at the kennedy center in washington. in a statement, she said one of the men is a long-time friend and, quote, someone i much admire. there is still much more ahead on "world news" this sunday night. word this evening of a brand new warning coming and it affects millions of americans who take acetaminophen. we'll tell you what's behind the warning tonight in a moment. and later, the big headline out of london this evening. many said she stole the show at the royal wedding, so, why is duchess kate's sister pippa
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tough on pain, easy on your stomach. but it's what tylenol might do to your liver that has the manufacturer issuing the new warnings. johnson & johnson says starting in october, the caps of new bottles of extra strength tylenol will have this message in big red print -- "contains acetaminophen" and "always read the label." >> extra strength tylenol tablet is 500 milligrams. so, you could take eight of those every day, spaced out properly, and you'd still be within the safe range. >> reporter: the pain relieving ingredient is the nation's leading cause of sudden liver failure. and as 33-year-old riley mcdermott learned first hand, it isn't just found in tylenol. >> if my fiance gotten me to the e.r. maybe half an hour later, i would be dead. >> reporter: after inadvertently overdosing on a combination of prescription codeine for an ankle injury and another medicine to help her sleep, she ultimately ended up on the liver transplant list. >> you're in pain and you take something and you just don't even think about it building up in your body. >> reporter: liver damage is extremely rare.
the more common problem is people overdosing on the drug, which sends as many as 80,000 people in the u.s. to the e.r. each year. in a statement to abc news, johnson & johnson said, "the new cap message is designed to help encourage appropriate acetaminophen use." riley would agree. in addition to reading the label, it's critical to follow the dosage. linsey davis, abc news, new york. >> linsey, thank you. when we come back tonight, another fairy tale wedding? is the big secret out? ♪ the middle of this special moment and i need to run off to the bathroom. ♪ i'm fed up with always having to put my bladder's needs ahead of my daughter. ♪ so today, i'm finally talking to my doctor about overactive bladder symptoms. [ female announcer ] know that gotta go feeling? ask your doctor about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces
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our "instant index" and the big secret buzzing in the uk is over duchess kate middleton's sister. the papers there asking, is pippa middleton secretly engaged to the man she's smiling with in this picture, stockbroker nico jackson? "sunday people" reporting that the announcement will be made after her 30th birthday, which comes on friday. we shall see. well, she's determine and braving the atlantic again, swimming toward florida tonight. diana nyad hoping to make history, her fifth and final try. she's passed the 63,000 mile mark tonight, the farthest she's ever been. nyad is trying to become the first person to swim from cuba to florida without a shark cage. we're rooting for you. and it never hurts to use spell-check even if you are at one of the most prestigious universities. the proud fighting irish of notre dame because the "figthin irish." thanks to a spelling mistake on the cups this weekend. fans tweeting about it all weekend long. and when we come back here tonight, for a time, he was the face of football. but are his fans everywhere suddenly praying themselves tonight?
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biggest name in all of sports. now, tim tebow is a man without a team. cut during the preseason by the new england patriots. even after two national championships and a heisman trophy. the florida native's trademark pose, tebowing, spread like wildfire across social media and late night comedy. >> hey, everybody. >> oh! jesus! >> reporter: we saw him on the covers of magazines like "gq," becoming a national heartthrob. but it was the humility so many came to love, captured right here on abc, in an interview with "gma's" robin roberts, talking about his mother. >> it's a key. what does it symbolize? >> i gave it to her because she was the key to my success. >> reporter: and with espn's hannah storm, describing that moment on bended knee. >> it's a great opportunity in a public platform to get on a knee and humble myself and thank the lord. >> reporter: after nine wins with the denver broncos, he was traded to the new york jets, only to have his rising career knocked down again.
>> ama: next at 6:00. what construction crews need to finish to the get the bay bridge open on time. also, how commuters got around the bay area today while the brim was closed. how two hunters helped capture a man suspected of starting brush fires in wine country. abc7 news at 6:00 starts now. >> all work is on target. we're still showing a 5:00 a.m. opening on tuesday. >> ama: right on schedule, work on the bay bridge is going according to plan, there's still one more day deal with congestion. the new eastern span of the bay bridge is expected to open for the tuesday morning community. here's the immense project that came together after years of planning and construction. john alston has a closer look at
what is being done this weekend and is live from the toll plaza. >> right now the to-do list is getting shorter and shorterment we're live near the bay bridge toll plaza and workers are putting finishing touches, screwing the flexible barriers into the pavement. some of the last-minute work. right reasonable doubt around the toll plaza workers are putting in lane striping and paving. >> out with the old. in with the new. workers finish hacking apart a section of the old fan to install the new bike and pedestrian path. it should be open to cyclist tuesday at noon and runs to emeryville. anne discovered the path by accident and left because she didn't want to get into trouble but she'll be back. >> i'll be happy to go on the bay bridge, just to see how spectacular the new bridge and is to see the view. it's really going to be exciting. i can't wait to go. >> workers finished sand-blasting and power wa