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tv   CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell  CBS  September 12, 2010 5:00pm-5:30pm PST

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>> mitchell: tonight, as the death toll in the california gas line blast rises, survivors wonder whether it's safe for anyone to go back. i'm russ mitchell. also tonight, in the spotlight, new york's controversial imam makes the case for not moving the planned islamic center further from ground zero. room for compromise? the top house republican says he may be willing to support a tax cut extension that does not include cuts for the wealthy. and wonder woman. she has won more tennis championships than any other player alive, but you've probably never heard her name. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell. >> mitchell: and good evening. we begin tonight with the latest on the aftermath of that gas line explosion in san bruno,
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california. here's a look at the neighborhood before and after thursday evening's deadly blast. tonight at least four people are confirmed dead and five others are missing, and there are growing questions about what the utility knew of the danger. john blackstone is in san bruno tonight. john, king. >> king, russ. good news for some residents today. officials are giving permits for some people that lived in about 300 homes to return here for the first time since the explosion. for many whose homes were not damaged, the news was painful. >> the news reports didn't do it justice. >> reporter: will it feel good going back to the neighborhood? >> kind of eerie i think with most of the neighborhood gone. >> reporter: it's a scene now seared into the memory of those who lived through it, a wall of flame erupting through the earth, as jim menard took these photos. he thought of war. >> i was thinking of napalm. i was just thinking, this is like a napalm drop, and anybody
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within it is gone. >> reporter: the explosion was so big, the heat so intense, that those who escaped say their only choice was to run for their lives. >> i can't get that roaring sound out of my mind and that big boom and the sight of that enormous blast of fire. >> reporter: those allowed to return home live here, what's called the zone of destruction. dozens of homes were incinerated by the blast and fire. investigators are still searching for evidence of others who may have died if the flames. for days the ruins of many homes remained too hot to be fully searched. it's why officials are still uncertain over the death tolls as san bruno's mayor. >> i. >> reporter: how was it going through that blast zone? >> absolutely horrific. >> reporter: the pipe that exploded was a 30-inch high pressure gas transmission line operated by pacific gas and electric. the utility classified the
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section of a same pipeline as high risk. the utility watchdog worries pg and e didn't move quickly enough on inspection and repairs. >> we have documents going there were false find recordsment we want to know if they did the right thing on this transmission line. >> in san bruno's churches on sunday morning, residents of the shaken city gathered to give each other comfort and support. >> we pray for those who have lost their homes and we pray for the community of san bruno. as we go through this time of pain, this time of suffering. >> reporter: it's likely to be months before the cause of the explosion is known. for many residents here, it will be at least that long before they put their lives back together. russ? >> mitchell: john blackstone in san bruno, california. thanks. the man behind the planned islamic center in lower manhattan spoke out today. other voices were heard, as well, in the ongoing debate over islam in america.
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jim axelrod has more. >> reporter: one day after the protests at the proposed colombiaic culture center near ground zero, it was much quieter, in part due to police barricades that now cordon off the block. the man in the middle of the controversy was speaking about it. >> i'm man of peace dedicated to peace. >> reporter: in an interview with abc news, the imam said a decision on changing the location is complicated. >> my major concern with moving it is the headline in the islamic world will be "islam is under attack in america." this will strengthen radicals in the muslim world. >> reporter: some seven out of ten new yorkers say the center should be moved, far different from when the public learned of plans last summer. the imam was quoted as saying, "we want to push back against the extremeists." a spokesman for the 9/11
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memorial called it positive, and the mother of man killed on 9/11 described the plans as a noble effort. >> well, we certainly had reached out. no one objected. >> he seems by his actions to be more interested in confrontation than in healing. >> reporter: today former new york city mayor rudy guiliano compared the cultural center with the florida minister's plan to burn the koran. >> the imam has the right to put the mosque there. the freedom of religion gives him that right. the florida minister has the right to burn the koran. really you should not do it because you're hurting too many people. >> reporter: tom kean, who chaired the 9/11 commission, says discussion is important, but he's concerned about its tone. >> muslim americans were killed in the world trade center. seven million people are in our country, loyal americans. >> that's gotten lost in this discussion. >> it cannot get lost. when it does, we play into the terrorists hands.
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that's what they want. they want this division and hate. >> reporter: kane says what's needed is more passion and less division. how much of each will mark the debate. >> mitchell: tea party activist have adopted this day, september 12th, as day the rally for their cause. tens of thousands of conservatives held 9/12 demonstrations in cities across the country from sacramento, california, to st. louis, missouri to, washington, d.c. they voiced their anger against what they see as growing big government in washington. stirring things up a bit in the atlantic ocean, hurricane igor. the storm exploded from only a minor one yesterday to massive category four with winds up to 135mph. it is headed westward but pose no, sir immediate threat to land or drilling platforms. in washington it's been political storm over the bush-era tax cuts. but today a key republican signalled a willingness to compromise. chief white house correspondent
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chip reid has the latest. >> reporter: on cbs' "face the nation," john boehner sounded like he was digging in his heels. >> if we're going to cut the tax cuts for some americans, why don't we exthe end these current tax rates to all americans. >> for months, boehner, likely to become speaker of the house if republicans win control, has argued that the bush tax cuts, set to expire at the end of this year, should be extended for everyone, including the wealthiest americans. but after he was pressed repeatedly by bob schieffer, boehner appeared to bend, conceding that he may have to accept an extension only for the middle class. >> if the only option i have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, i'll vote for them. >> boehner says he still wants all the tax cuts extended, but if he's forced to compromise, that would be a victory for president obama, who insists the tax cuts should be extended only for couples making less than $250,000 a year and individuals
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making less than $200,000. anyone making more than that would see their tax rates rise. the president's populist appeal has become a centrepiece of his recent campaign attacks on republicans. >> and what i've got is the republicans holding middle-class tax relief hostage because they're insisting we've got to give tax relief to millionaires and billionaires. >> reporter: the new chairman of the president's council of economic advisers says now that compromise on tax cuts is on the table, congress should move quickly. >> if he's truly saying that we can, as the president called for, get a broad consensus to extend the middle-class tax cuts, we should do it. >> despite today's talk of compromise, any final deal on the bush tax cuts might have to wait until after election day when congress returns to town for what's expected to be a contentious lame duck session. russ? >> reporter: chip reid at the white house, thank you. in iran, one of the american
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hike centers jail may soon be released. sarah short and two friends were arrested as spies at the iran-iraq border more than a year ago. mark phillips now with the latest in this tense situation. >> reporter: iran's state-controlled tv outlets have had as much trouble keeping track of sarah short's status as the rest of the world. >> iran says female detained american citizen sarah short will be released on bail. >> reporter: $500,000 for her release, seen here when the detainees were visited by their mothers in tehran last may. the three have been held in an iranian prison for more than a year, but sarah's bail announcement is only the latest in a series of stops and starts in which the 32-year-old american was first due to be released and then had those hopes dashed. a power struggle between iran's political factions is being played out at her expense. short and the other two
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americans were, according to them, hiking along the iraq-iran border when they were arrested by the iranians and accused of spying. the other two are shane bower and josh fatale. short is said to require medical attention for a suspected precancerous condition. iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad has promised her release, possibly as a public relations gesture ahead of his annual trip to the u.n. in new york. but as ahmadinejad and iran's judiciary and military struggle for control, sarah short and the other detainees have become political footballs. >> they're being held under false pretenses, and they should be released, and we're working very hard to see that that happens. >> swiss diplomats in tehran are set to be arranging sarah short's bail, but her fate and that of the other detainees is still very much in doubt. mark phillips, cbs news, london. >> mitchell: still ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news," a
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controversial pastor's hometown defends his image. >> the threatened burning of the
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koran drew the world's attention to small gainesville community church. most people in gainesville are not pleased with their newfound fame. >> game day program. >> reporter: this is the face of gainesville, a college town known for football championships, gatorade and now a fringe preacher named terry jones. >> just something that i wish didn't happen, and i just hope it goes away quickly. >> it's starting to. jones is out of state and the sign proclaiming his international burn a koran day is finally gone, but this city of 108,000 with an openly gay mayor and highly educated population is still feeling the effects of his threat. from the obvious like the overwhelming security at jones' church to the more subtle. >> to be portrayed nationally and internationally as some sort
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of hateful place was really hard for us all to take. >> joe revels owns a t-shirt printing company. she made church for jones months ago with dove world outreach center on the front. but this week she's printing this, "love, not dove," and she's giving them away, 1,500 so far. >> we can't let him define us any more than we can let the individuals who perpetrated the evil acts on 9/11 define the muslim people. >> reporter: churches and community groups have worked hard to counter jones' message with events like this interfaith service at a church with 4,000 followers as opposed to jones' 50. >> it's important that the country and the world know the true character of gainesville. >> some already see a silver lining. >> i think it's also exposed a really good side of gainesville that our people by in large here are very tolerant. we even tolerate this guy. >> reporter: kelly cobiella, cbs news, gainesville, florida.
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>> mitchell: a report out this week details the extent of poverty in america. the poverty rate of the working poor is expected to jump from 13.2% to 15%, one in seven americans, the largest percentage of poor many america in half a century. and just ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news," as a tower finally rises at ground zero, families rebuild lives by going back.
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from fast, yesterday's 9/11 service in new york was held away from ground zero. the reason, ground zero nowadays is too busy as an active
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construction site. tonight jeff glor gives us an up-close look at the new trade center. >> you're happy with the progress being made now? >> we're extremely happy with the progress. >> reporter: until this year, much of the progress rebuilding the trade center site was invisible to passers-by, undergroundment not anymore. the port authority of new york and new jersey, the agency that owns the land and oversees rebuilding. 80% of the steel of the memorial plaza has been placed. the memorial plaza at street level is largely built and decorated with its first grove of trees. >> we've probably knocked off about 40% to 50% of this project just within this past year. >> reporter: every week another floor of the new 1 world trade center goes up, a building that's also been called the freedom tower. were there times that you wondered if you'd ever see this? >> there are times i wonder that every day. >> reporter: 35 floors so far, on its way to 105.
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by the end of this year, it should be halfway to the iconic 1,776 feet. >> i want you to look at this building over here. >> reporter: this new york city schoolteacher has a stake in all this. her father was a seem fitter on the first trade center. her sean worked in the south tour until 9/11. >> at 9:03, the second plane hit tower two. >> sean was just 28 years old and he did not make it out. the tours eileen leads once a week for the tribute center help her keep her son's memory alive. >> i think they're important because i'm telling a story that must be remembered. >> reporter: remembering, the 2,752 victims of the trade center attack will be the centrepiece of the site. the granite for reflecting pools marking the fingerprints of the twin towers are done. starting next year, water falls will cascade 30 feet into those
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pools. >> it's really this large marker in the sense that something has been removed and cannot be replaced. >> reporter: this week a pair of 70-foot columns salvaged from the ruins were placed on the site. they're so large the 9/11 museum will be built around them. >> this is my family. my children. >> reporter: for eileen logano, honoring sean is her way of rebuilding. ferres her, her four other children and for her seven grandchildren, all born after 9/11. >> life does go on, you know. joy returns. we celebrate everything he was and everything he is to us today. >> reporter: celebrating sean at his school, by donating the rugby practice field to loyola college in maryland and an annual college for a senior attending xavier high school in manhattan. jeff glor, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: and coming up on
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tonight's "cbs evening news," you might not have heard of this tennis ace, but her opponents sure have. >> mitchell: this weekend's
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u.s. open matchups featured some of the best-known names in tennis. tonight tony guida introduces us to the champ of all champ, one you probably never heard of. >> whatever tennis excellence meant before, this woman has redefined it. she's celebrated by legends of the game whose accomplishments she's outstripped. she's simply the best tennis player on the planet over the past ten years. >> she's one of the greatest athletes out there, and i'm very
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tired of her. >> she is esther vergeer, and her game is wheelchair tennis. by now it should be called vergeer tennis, that's how completely she owns this floor. she's won every singles match she's played since 2003, nearly 400 in a row. >> she doesn't bother with losing, so i could take a few pointers and she's amazing. >> no one, man or woman, owns as many championships as vergeer, 101 consecutive titles, four u.s. opens, six australian opens, four french opens, three paraolympic titles. and those are just her singles victoriesment she has plenty more in doubles. sunday yet another title, vergeer's fifth u.s. open. 396 in a row, what do you do for an encore? >> yeah, it's kind of amazing. >> reporter: none of this might have happened except for a
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medical mistake. >> i never played tennis before my accident. i hardly played any sort. >> reporter: at the age of eight, vergeer had an operation that went bad. she was paralyzed. >> that made me sad. i started to ask my mom those questions, why me? >> reporter: four years into rer habilitation, vergeer tried wheelchair tennis. she was 12. she's been close to invincible ever since. >> it's so awesome that venus williams and roger federer say i am a good athlete. they don't talk about my disability at all. >> reporter: what she's done besides win is teach at her foundation back home in holland. vergeer guides disabled youngsters into sports, believing it builds strong bodies and sound minds. 29-year-old esther vergeer is testament to that. tony guida, cbs news at the u.s. open. >> mitchell: and we'll be back. >> mitchell: we end this
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sunday with major birth announcement. a bouncing baby boy elephant is born at the melbourne zoo. it has been or thementing his mom ever since. the pints-sized pachyderm, which tipped the scales at 300 pounds, has yet to be named. zoo officials are encouraging the public to weigh in. and that is the "cbs evening news." later on cbs, "60 minutes." thanks for joining us this sunday evening. i'm russ mitchell, cbs news in new york. katie's here tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> the news reports, news pictures didn't do it justice knowing what we see every day as we come home is totally different. >> the blast zone. what some san bruno neighbors saw for the first time since a natural gas explosion decimated their neighbourhood. looking for answers, new scrutiny in the wake of that disaster >> i couldn't even cry, like the tears wouldn't come out. i was crying before when i heard she was missing. >> how congregations are remembering loved ones lost. a lot my husband's old stuff. fortunately, i got his mercury insurance too. mercury had better coverage, better service and and we saved hundreds of dollars by combining our home and auto insurance policies. and he got miss pookie.


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