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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  July 20, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST

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see you in 30 minutes. "cbs evening news with katie couric" is next. >> couric: tonight, mr. cameron comes to washington. the british prime minister says it was wrong to release the lockerbie bomber, but he rejects calls for an investigation into whether b.p. played a role. i'm katie couric. on day 92, a new plan for the ruptured well. kill it now by pumping mud and cement through the containment cap. the heated debate over plans to build a mosque in the shadows of the world trade center site. and why was a black official from the department of agriculture ousted by the obama administration? the strange tale of shirley sherrod. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric.
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>> couric: good evening, everyone, president obama welcomed britain's new prime minister to the white house today, but there wasn't much time for pleasantries. there's a bit of tension between the two allies, in part because of the b.p. oil spill, but also because of the decision last year by a scottish court to release a libyan terrorist. and questions about the role b.p. might have played in that. chip reid is our chief white house correspondent. chip, the president and the prime minister are off to a bit of a rocky start. >> reporter: well, katie, the plan was for president obama and prime minister cameron to focus on the special relationship between america and great britain. instead, they focused on the not-so-special relationship between america and b.p. british prime minister david cameron came to the white house to find common ground with president obama on issues from afghanistan to the global economy. it was, though, the american furor over british oil giant b.p. that overshadowed everything else. >> i completely understand the
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anger that exists right across america. the oil spill in the gulf of mexico is a catastrophe. >> reporter: but it's not just the oil spill. b.p. is now at the center of a second explosive controversy-- the release last year from a scottish prison of convicted terrorist abdelbaset al megrahi who was serving a life sentence for his role in bringing down pan am flight 103 over lockerbie scotland in 1988. 270 people were killed, 189 were americans. today, cameron strongly condemned the release of al megrahi who was allowed to return to libya on the basis of compassion. he was supposedly near death from cancer but a year later he's still alive. >> releasing the lockerbie bomber and mass murderer of 270 people, the largest act of terrorism ever committed in the united kingdom, was completely wrong. he showed his victims no compassion. >> reporter: democrats on capitol hill are calling for an investigation into claims that b.p. lobbied the british
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government to release megrahi in return for a multibillion dollar oil deal with libya. today, cameron defended his decision not to open an inquiry and he evaded the question of whether b.p. had a role in al megrahi's release. >> the role of b.p. and any lobbying they might have done is an issue for b.p. and an issue that they should explain themselves. >> reporter: b.p. has denied the allegations, but secretary of state hillary clinton traveling overseas called for an investigation of b.p.'s possible role in al megrahi's release. today president obama agreed but picked his words carefully to avoid public disagreement with cameron. >> we should have all the facts, they should be laid out there. >> reporter: the two leaders also found time to discuss the u.s.-british special relationship and even took a long tour of the white house. >> i was most impressed by how tidy your children's bedrooms were. >> reporter: now, a senior administration official tells me that the president is not upset that cameron said no to a formal inquiry because the president in
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their conversation in the oval office formally asked cameron for the facts and he is confident that with or without an inquiry he will get them. katie? >> couric: all right. chip reid reporting from the white house tonight. thank you. now turning to the disaster in the gulf. it began three months ago tonight with a deadly explosion on the deepwater horizon. and on day 92, b.p. and the federal government are considering yet another plan for sealing the blown out well. this one is called static kill. it would involve pumping mud and cement through the new well cap that's now in place. tonight, that cap is still holding. the government's point man, thad allen, says five leaks around the well are just drips and nothing to worry about. meanwhile, b.p. says it's selling off several major assets to raise billions to help compensate the victims. hundreds of skimmer ships are still out on the gulf, but some are not finding much oil anymore. kelly cobiella is in grand isle, louisiana tonight. and kelly, once again the play
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book is changing. >> reporter: that's right, the government is giving b.p. another 24 hours to keep its well closed, more time for the company to draw up yet another untested plan to kill the well. with the well holding and the pressure rising, the government is considering b.p.'s request to turn their temporary solution into a permanent one-- filling the well with mud from above to kill it. >> with the pressure on top now we could probably overcome the hydrocarbons that are in there and have the mud defeat the oil in the wellbore. >> reporter: b.p. tried pumping heavy mud into the well back in may. that was a top kill. a static kill is the same concept only now the oil is contained in the new cap. drilling mud would be pumped through the cab to choke the oil. b.p. would still finish the relief well pumping mud to the bottom of the reservoir to finally plug it. yet, there's still disagreement on why the well pressure was
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lower than expected or what to do if there's a problem. along the gulf coast, skimmer boats are still trolling for oil but not finding much. after months of trying to stay ahead of the spill, finally a chance to step back and assess progress. the edge of this marsh used to be covered in oil, you can still see the black stains on the grass. but a month later signs of life. these green shoots are new growth. >> that tip was almost... you could see it was completely slicked over. >> reporter: laura wyness is in charge of protecting the marshes around grand isle, louisiana, crews don't touch them, just circle them with boom to absorb the oil. she's seen the grasses go from this to this, and it's happening all across the bay. >> for it to be growing back even with the presence of oil there is, i think, a great accomplishment for mother nature herself. >> reporter: scientists say they've seen green shoots on other gulf marshes swamped with oil, but experts warn the
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effects on this complex ecosystem could last for years. katie? >> couric: thanks very much, kelly cobiella in grand isle, louisiana. meanwhile, in washington today, agriculture secretary tom vilsack defended his decision to fire a black official who was accused of discriminating against a white farmer. but the ousted official denies the allegation and so does a farmer. here's our chief legal correspondent jan crawford. >> reporter: it started with a speech by u.s.d.a. official shirley sherrod describing her attitude 24 years ago toward a white farmer. >> reporter: that comment in a
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speech to the n.a.a.c.p. lit up the blogosphere after a conservative web site aired it and suggested the reverse racism in the administration. agriculture secretary tom vilsack reacted swiftly. he said today the u.s.d.a. had zero tolerance for discrimination and fired her for the comments. >> when i saw statements in the context of the statements i determined it would make it difficult for her to job do a job. >> reporter: but as with so many issues of race, there is a lot more to this story. sherrod said later in the same speech she was wrong and ultimately helped the man save his farm. but that statement didn't get out on the internet. and when the farmer and his wife heard the charges against the woman who helped them 24 years ago, they were shocked. >> she was just as nice as she could be. as far as racism, i think that's somebody who just wants to start something. >> reporter: sherrod then angrily answered. she told cnn she was unfairly forced out by a white house skittish about issues of race. >> i had at least three calls telling me the white house wanted me to resign. >> reporter: vilsack said the decision was his alone. >> so i made this decision.
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it's my decision. nobody from the white house contacted me about this at all. >> reporter: but in this growing controversy, this much is clear: shirley sherrod, now out of a job, helped roger and eloise spoonier. >> she saved our farm, 400 something acres, almost 500 acres. she saved our farm. >> reporter: while secretary vilsack said this issue is closed, the cable is having a field day and the blogs anything but done, the secretary may be in for a surprise. katie? >> couric: jan, i know the n.a.a.c.p. initially condemned sherrod's remarks but now that organization has put out a new statement. >> reporter: katie, they just released a statement. they said they were snookered by these initial reports, they were completely changing course on this. they're urging the secretary to reconsider firing her and they said the speech was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias. >> couric: all right, jan crawford in washington. jan, thanks very much. in other news, the meltdown in the housing market and the financial crisis that followed. congress is slowly peeling back the layers as it investigates
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who's to blame. new documents reveal a cozy tie between two key players that cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. sharyl attkisson tonight follows the money. >> reporter: the partnership between countrywide and government-backed fannie mae is partly to blame for the housing crisis. they made billions buying and selling each other's toxic loans. but as they were sending american's housing market down the tubes, new documents show countrywide and fannie mae were quietly scratching each other's backs. >> we make bad loans, you take them, we're off the hook. it's that simple. >> reporter: issa says to sweeten the deal, countrywide gave dozens of top fannie mae officials v.i.p. loans and special treatment that often included discounts worth many thousands of dollars. taxpayers lost out, they've kicked in $84 billion to far for fannie mae's bad decisions, but for the well-paid executives, things turned out okay. documents provided to congress
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under subpoena showed jim johnson, who made $21 billion as fannie mae's c.e.o., took $10 million in countrywide loans. other fannie mae executives who got v.i.p. loans from countrywide include then vice chair jamie gorelick who earned $26 million over four years at fannie mae and now represents b.p. and former c.e.o. franklin raines, who earned $90 million in his five years at fannie mae. the amounts of their loans aren't known. but gorelick, raines, and others have said they would haven't taken any loans if they thought they were getting a special deal. >> i am unaware of preferential treatment given to me by countrywide. >> reporter: in all, documents show at least 42 fannie mae officials took 153 v.i.p. loans from countrywide, sometimes three and four loans per person. in this 2001 e-mail, countrywide officials talk about giving a below-market loan to fannie mae's then-c.o.o. dan mudd.
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>> on top of giving a loan below cost, they wanted to make sure he was very pleased with the service. no question at all, they knew they were losing money and they knew they were currying favor that would be valuable. >> reporter: mudd says he did not seek any preferential treatment. congressman issa wants authorities to investigate and determine whether the executives who took those countrywide loans violated any ethics codes or criminal laws. katie? >> couric: sharyl attkisson. sharyl, thanks very much. also in washington, elena kagan is a step closer to becoming a newest supreme court justice. the senate judiciary committee voted 13-6 today to approve her nomination. lindsey graham of south carolina the only republican to vote yes. a vote by the full senate is expected before the august recess. and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," turn down and
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smack down. a new book full of the ultimate rejection letters. but up next, emotions are running high over a plan to build a mosque just blocks from ground zero. captioning sponsored by cbs things with my friends even with an overactive bladder. i don't always let the worry my pipes might leak compromise what i like to do. i take care with vesicare. because i have better places to visit than just the bathroom. (announcer) once-daily vesicare can help control your bladder muscle, and is proven to reduce frequent, sudden urges and leaks, day and night. if you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take vesicare. tell your doctor right away if you have a serious allergic reaction, severe abdominal pain, or become constipated for three or more days.
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the world trade center site and as national correspondent jeff glor report, just about everyone is weighing in. >> i speak before you as a concerned citizen of new york. >> reporter: opponents call it a mosque in the worst possible place. >> this building in particular should be turned into a museum. >> reporter: supporters call it a cultural center in the best spot to encourage understanding. >> if a mosque were built, then you guys would know what islam was about. >> reporter: at issue: this building in lower manhattan, the proposed site of a 13-story community center and islamic prayer space. >> this is the muslim community's effort to rebuild lower manhattan. >> reporter: the controversy? it's only two blocks from ground zero. this week, sarah palin upped an already raucous debate when on twitter she called on peaceful muslims to "refudiate" the plan calling it a stab in the heart for america. >> they have power in their words.
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they could refudiate what it is that this group is saying. >> reporter: liberal bloggers pounced on the made-up word and palin retracted her tweet but not her sentiment saying shakespeare liked to coin new words, too. grammatical debates aside, new york city mayor michael bloomberg has come out firmly in support of the plan. >> everything the united states stands for and new york stands for is tolerance and openness. what is it you're hoping this center will do? >> my hope is that this center will attract a lot of people who don't know about islam. >> reporter: do you feel like the debate is shifting at all? >> yeah. it's on a national stage now. >> reporter: but tim brown, a former new york city firefighter who lost 93 colleagues on september 11 calls the proposal a slap in the face. your message today to the developers behind this? >> stop it. stop hurting the families. everyday there's stories in the newspaper, they're hurting the families again.
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they don't deserve it. these american families have paid too much. >> reporter: brown and others, including new york gubernatorial candidate rick lazio, are calling for an investigation into the financing behind the $4.8 million building purchase. their concerns spurred in part by comments it is center's imam made to "60 minutes" in 2001 just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. >> i wouldn't say that the united states deserved what happened. but the united states' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. >> reporter: citing anti- americanism, opponents are pushing to have the building declared a landmark which would make it far more difficult for any muslim center construction to begin. jeff glor, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and we'll be right back.
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serving a 90-day jail sentence. her parole was revoked after she failed to complete alcohol education classes following a drunk driving conviction. now back to a time long before twitter or the internet. 41 years ago tonight, 600 million people were glued to their tv sets. one-fifth of the world's population at the time. they witnessed one of man's greatest achievements, the first moon walk. among those who sat spell bound, our own walter cronkite as neil armstrong spoke his famous words. >> that's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind. >> well, for thousands of years now it's been man's dream to walk on the moon. right now after seeing it happen, knowing that it happened, it still seems like a dream.
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almost 6,000 vessels. these are thousands of local shrimp and fishing boats organized into task forces and strike teams. plus, specialized skimmers from around the world. we've skimmed over 27 million gallons of oil/water mixture and removed millions more with other methods. we've set out more than 8 million feet of boom to protect the shoreline. i grew up on the gulf coast and i love these waters. we can't keep all the oil from coming ashore, but i'm gonna do everything i can to stop it, and we'll be here as long as it takes to clean up the gulf. and my dog bailey and i love to hang out in the kitchen. you love the aroma of beef tenderloin, don't you? you inspired a very special dog food. [ female announcer ] chef michael's canine creations. chef inspired. dog desired. we've got a way for you to check the status of your loan online... securely, any time, anywhere. our e signature technology makes it really easy... for you to sign your documents from home.
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and as richard schlesinger reports, somebody did. >> reporter: what if you got a letter like this? "the work you sent us is quite terrible, please forgive the form rejection, but it would take too much of my time to tell you exactly how terrible it was." >> that's horrid! at least have the guts to look at the person in the face and reject them. that's just my opinion. >> reporter: would you ever in a million years want it in a book? >> i think i would be devastated. >> reporter: whether by e-mail or tweet, snail mail or text, everyone has gotten rejected. >> i've never written one but i've received some. >> reporter: bill shapiro has just released a book full of rejection letters. page after page of thanks but no thanks. photographer tony stamolis got one of the meanest letters in the book and was eager to share it. >> "i don't even know who you are or what you do. remove me from your e-mail list please." >> reporter: shapiro says brushoffs are turn-ons in prime
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time. carrie bradshaw got rejected by post-it note. >> "i'm sorry, i can't, don't hate me." >> reporter: tv shows like "the apprentice"... >> you're fired. >> reporter: ...are built on rejection and apparently people are now more willing to share. >> i think there's something happening where there's no expectation of privacy you know? you sneeze into the wind and ten minutes later it's on youtube. >> reporter: shapiro learned a lot while writing his book, about rejection and about himself. >> i saw that i didn't have rejection letters of my own that matched these and it came to me at some point that i hadn't taken enough chances, perhaps, with my own life. >> reporter: there are letters that seemed laughable now. in 1956, the museum of modern
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art wrote andy warhol saying a committee decided they ought not accept his donation of a drawing. but there are more private letters here, letters jilting lovers. >> "stop calling and e-mailing me, let this go and let me go on with my life." >> reporter: naomi wax wrote several of the letters. >> i think it helps people to have a window into other people's relationships and see the kind of things that you can say. >> reporter: naomi and bill shapiro know each other pretty well. >> yes, he is my boyfriend. >> reporter: she's got a lot of practice writing rejection letters. are you worried what she'd say to you? >> i think she'd just say "look at page 88." >> reporter: richard schlesinger, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric, thanks for watching, see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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that suspect may have been sunday night shootout with police in oakland. now the first reports on where that suspect may have been headed. police say he wanted a shootout in the presidio. in the first 30 commute days, i had been overcharged 14 times. >> it is supposed to make your commute easier. the wide range of complaints about those new clipper cards. and the latest complaint about those pg&e smart meters. it has nothing to do with the bill. good evening, i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. the news... starts now. your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. [ sound of gunfire ] he opened fire on police on an east bay freeway last weekend. but now investigators say that was not the intended target. they say byron williams was headed to specific locations in the bay


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