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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  November 25, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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fruit, wine, formal setting wine glasses but obviously the table manners optional. see you at 6:00. >> glor: tonight, turkey, parades, football, and the controversial new thanksgiving day tradition-- christmas shopping. i'm jeff glor. also tonight, fading away. the color-coded terror alert system will soon be history. plus an army of american farmers heading to afghanistan, not to the front lines, but the backfields. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> glor: good evening. and happy thanksgiving. katie's off tonight. there was a time when stores were closed this day, and holiday shopping began at a reasonable hour the next day. that is a ghost of christmas past.
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thanksgiving day is now the starting line for the holiday shopping rush. last thanksgiving, 18 million americans went shopping. and the number's expected to be even higher this year. sears, wal-mart, k-mart-- you name it-- it was open. seth doane is out among the holiday shoppers on the streets of new york tonight. seth, good evening to you. >> reporter: good evening, jeff. happy thanksgiving. yes the stores behind me here at bryant park are open and across the country at major retailers some traded food, family, and football for the chance to beat that black friday crush. sears opened its doors on thanksgiving for the first time in its 124-year history. >> i'm avoiding the crowds. >> reporter: shoppers beat the rush and sears got a head start on this high-stakes season. >> we have to do a lot of new things these days to kind of stay competitive and really provide what the customers are looking for. >> reporter: sears makes 57% of its profit in the last three months of the year.
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best buy, 56%. discount chain big lots brings in as much as 70% during this critical period. >> the mood around black friday for the retailers is tempered. i think the mood around consumers given all the advertisements and e-mails they're getting is creating a greater sense of urgency. >> reporter: this season, consumers are expected to open their wallets a bit. after a dismal 2008, sales improved marginally last year. and this holiday they're expected to inch up again. >> hi, how are you? >> reporter: it's gifts at the high end which are fueling the increase. >> you can only feel so bad so long. after a while you need to go out there and say, "okay, i'm going to go out and to do something special for myself." >> reporter: mash tapper's jewelry store has seen double- digit growth and is opening new stores in all of places detroit. >> i'm super jazzed for the holidays. people seem excited to come back and shop. >> reporter: while households earning more than $100,000 a
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year make up just 21% of the population, they're expected to drive almost 40% of consumer spending, up from 34% in 2006. luxury items will do better this year. why? >> you have a solid stock market. it's not as volatile as it's been in past years. people are more confident in their income potential. and you have newness in the product. >> the customer who maybe loves luxury is coming back. >> reporter: bloomingdale's is confident enough to stay closed today, thanks to their higher income customers. but tomorrow is show time. >> i think there's definitely buzz in the air and i feel like the customer's excited to shop at all price points. >> reporter: amid all of that retail excitement is also some grumbling, too. one company took out this full- page ad saying it was disrespectful to be open during thanksgiving. so that competition for those holiday dollars has begun. jeff. >> glor: seth doane in new york tonight. seth, thank you very much, and happy thanksgiving.
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>> glor: it does remain a very difficult holiday season for many americans tonight. with unemployment running 9.6%, nearly 15 million are out of work. national correspondent ben tracy tells us retailers, america's biggest employers, are hiring more temporary workers this season than they did in the past two years. >> hello. how are you? >> good. >> finding everything okay? >> reporter: victoria morales had been out of work for four months. then she landed a temporary holiday job at the pumpkin patch, a clothing store in the glendale galleria near los angeles. it's the best christmas present she and her three kids could ask for. >> it's like mommy's going to do a good job, so i can take you to chuck "e" cheese. i can take you wherever you want. we're going to go to disneyland. >> reporter: this 20-store kids' clothing chain hired 163 temporary workers 16% more than last year. retailers think consumers are finally ready to dust off their wallets and spend again.
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>> stock market is up. house prices have stabilized. i think people are feeling much better than they were last year or the year before. >> reporter: overall, retailers are adding between 550,000 and 650,000 holiday jobs, more than last year, but still well below the more than 720,000 added in 2007 just as the recession began. so who's hiring? toys "r" us is bringing on 45,000 holiday employees, a 30% jump over last year. hired more than 15,000 people to fill orders at its shipping centers, and to deliver those packages, ups is bringing in 50,000 more workers. and with the unemployment rate at nearly 10%, employers have a lot of choices. the labor pool is full of highly experienced and highly educated job seekers. >> even though we're seeing more retail jobs created this year, competition is very stiff. college kids are competing with out-of-work adults. >> right now the whole entire store is 40% off. >> reporter: the good news for people like victoria is 40% of employers hiring holiday workers plan to make some of them full-
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time employees. that's up from 31% last year. >> i need the money. i need the time. so... >> reporter: and you want to be here long term. >> exactly. >> reporter: but in the short term, she's simply hoping shoppers are ready to buy. ben tracy, cbs news, los angeles. >> glor: bad weather made getting to the stores or anywhere else a challenge in some states today. in new mexico, ice on the roads led to dozens of spinouts and crashes that left at least three people critically hurt. in north dakota snow and wind combined to create white-out conditions there. in minneapolis the temperatures were in the teens. with the wind it felt below zero. there's more fallout from the latest crisis in korea. it began earlier this week when north korea shelled a south korean island, killing four people. today south korea's defense minister resigned and the government said it will change the rules of engagement to make it easier to strike back against any future attacks. ceila hatton was among the first journalists to visit the
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battered island. >> reporter: hundreds of protesters showed their hatred for north korean leader kim jong il today, but south korea's government also faced tough criticism. it was unprepared to handle an ambush by its northern rival. the country's defense minister, kim tae-young, resigned after allegations surfaced the south korean military base waited 13 minutes before responding to north korea's first round of fire. naval officials admit the island garrison didn't have enough weapons on hand. for the first time, reporters were allowed to see for themselves what the hour-long bombardment of artillery fire did to yeonpyeong. abandoned houses, total devastation. residents returned as well, though few stayed long.
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south korea's president has said he will strengthen defenses on the island but many of the locals we've spoken to say they're scared to return for any length of time. they say they're feeling vulnerable to further attacks. "all you reporters come here and live in yeonpyeong," says this man. "you live here. then you will see the artillery fall. then you will know whether this is a place where one can live." as islanders leave, soldiers will take their place, reversing a 2006 government decision to cut back on troops. despite warnings from the north, the u.s. and south korea are pushing ahead with naval exercises sunday featuring a nuclear aircraft carrier the nuclear aircraft carrier the uss "george washington." it's a display of force that carries a clear message. >> to prevent north korea from being tempted to make another armed provocation against us. >> reporter: leaders in seoul are under intense pressure to avoid more scenes like this. here, the bodies of the two civilians killed in tuesday's gun battle arrived on the mainland, a brutal reminder that sometimes pyongyang makes good on its threat.
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>> a soldier was killed in afghanistan. it did not give the soldier's nationality. the death toll for this year is 660. before sitting down to his own thanksgiving dinner, president obama phoned his best wishing to service men and women in afghanistan and iraq today. the military flew in 50 tons of turkey for u.s. troops in afghanistan. and tonight cbs news correspondent mandy clark reports from bagram airfield. >> happy thanksgiving! >> reporter: a freezing 10k turkey trot at 5:00 a.m. that's how hundreds of american troops decided to kick off thanksgiving day celebrations in afghanistan. >> i do a turkey trot every year with my kids and my wife. and i couldn't be there, so i wanted to do it here. >> we were doing the turkey trot 10k because that's all there is to do in afghanistan on thanksgiving. >> reporter: then, and only only-in-afghanistan moment-- a
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thanksgiving parade with a twist-- pilgrims carrying guns. yes, even penguins were armed. and there was a lot of christmas mixed in to the floats. u.s. ambassador karl eikenberry was also on hand to personally thank the troops. >> thank you for your service. thank you for being away from your home right now. >> reporter: this year's celebrations have a serious side 2010 has been the deadliest for american troops since the nine- year war began and part of giving thanks is recognizing the sacrifices on the battlefield. >> what happened? >> stepped on an ied, sir. >> reporter: eikenberry also spent time with the wounded. one soldier gave him his combat patch, a sign of respect. >> obviously it would be nice to be home on thanksgiving, but at the same time, i'd rather be back with my friends. >> reporter: but they made the best of thanksgiving under the circumstances. >> my platoon had a good idea of
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having everyone come in and we all sat down together and ate. this is our family while we're deployed so we eat as a family. >> i had turkey and ham and also finished it off with some pecan pie. >> reporter: it's hard being away for the holidays, but organizers here hope today's celebrations made troops feel a little closer to home. mandy clark, cbs news, bagram airfield, afghanistan. >> glor: the u.s. invasion of afghanistan came, of course, in response to the 9/11 attacks and so did the color-coded terror alert system. the alert level moved up and down about a dozen times but many people were never sure what to do about it. it's been four years since the level was last changed, and tonight, sharyl attkisson tells us the system's days are numbered. >> reporter: ten years after it was introduced, the befuddling system of color-coded terror alerts is about to get scrapped. since march 2002, the five- colored palette has attempted to guide americans on the likelihood of a terror attack from low-risk green to severe- risk red.
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the problem, is too many have found it meaningless. >> well, i don't think anybody really pays attention to it anyways. >> it's always what, orange, elevated? >> where are we at color chart- wise right now? ( laughter ) we're yellow. >> we're yellow. yes. >> reporter: in fact, the national threat level has been stuck at yellow since 2006. that translates to significant, somewhere above guarded and below high, stuck at yellow before, during, and even after the underwear bomber attempt last christmas. >> it seems like it has been the same for a very long time. >> it's not really clear, you know, what orange is versus yellow. like, i mean, i don't know. >> critics say that it doesn't convey any real information to the public or to first responders who have to use that information. >> reporter: it's much the same in great britain where their system uses words like "low risk" to "critical." >> i don't really pay much attention to it. >> reporter: the question is what system would be better? >> i think an old-fashioned bell, to be honest with you. then all of a sudden knows there's a terror problem.
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>> reporter: the "washington post" quotes u.s. officials saying the new u.s. system could have just two threat categories, elevated and imminent, that would last no more than a week at a time. when possible the alerts would come with specific information on the nature of the threats. today, homeland security would only tell us it's reviewing new recommendations with the goal of providing more clarity. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, at regan national airport. >> glor: up next on the cbs evening news, the latest recruits for the afghan war-- american farmers. and later, ashley judd on a mission. tonight's american spirit. ♪ ♪ ( cheers )
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>> glor: when the u.s. sent 30,000 more troops to afghanistan earlier this year, it also beefed up another front in the war against the taliban. american farmers are trying to persuade their afghan counter- parts to grow something other than poppy, the source of the opium that finances insurgents. but terry mccarthy reports tonight it's a tough sell. >> reporter: for horse and cotton farmers david and donna mull, the chance to go from the green fields of georgia to the arid lands of afghanistan was a calling of sorts. >> i look at it as an opportunity to not only serve my country but help some people that are probably in need worse than i am in afghanistan. >> i think growing up on a farm,
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taking that experience over with me, will help them, help me, even. >> reporter: so far, more than 60 american farmers have been sent by the u.s. department of agriculture to afghanistan as part of president obama's civilian surge. their mission: to wean afghan farmers off opium poppy by showing them how to grow alternative crops like wheat, apples, rice, and melons. michigan farmer gary tietz, part of the same usda program, is already at work in this remote corner of southeastern afghanistan in a job so dangerous, he can't leave his base without heavy military protection. >> these experiences, you know... >> reporter: they change you? >> yeah, they change you. >> reporter: daily he faces skeptical farmers and corrupt officials in an area where 90% of the world's opium is grown. last year, according to u.s. government figures, the taliban made about $100 million from opium. fueling the insurgency and its war against the west.
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once or twice a week, tietz visits villages to check on their livestock. >> do a lot of other damage to the utter. >> reporter: and on their fields to ensure farmers aren't growing poppy. this farm has been poppy free for two years, but opium is worth $1,500 per acre, three times more than wheat. tietz is trying to ensure farmers like this don't give into the temptation of going back to poppy. >> by teaching them important soil and water conservation techniques and how to get their new crops to market with the hopes they'll make more money and be able to feed the village. >> i hope i represent an option for farmers to choose not to do illegal actions. if i can work myself out of a job, that would be the highlight of my... my career. >> if what good we'll do over there helps anyone or anybody or any country, afghanistan, our nation, then i'm all for it and i feel like i'll make a difference there, and i know
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donna will, too. >> reporter: terry mccarthy, cbs news, spin boldak, afghanistan. >> glor: students in italy targeted world famous landmarks to propose government spending cuts. they stormed and occupied the roman coliseum. others formed a human chain around the leaning tower of pisa and unfolded a banner from the top. coming up next, survival at sea: three teens are found alive after drifting in the south pacific for nearly two months.
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>> glor: there is new evidence tonight of the health damage inflicted by smokers on the people around them. a first-ever global study says secondhand smoke kills an estimated 600,000 people every year, and more than a quarter of the victims are children. the findings are in the british medical journal "lancet." in cambodia this was a national day of mourning. the prime minister wept at a memorial service near the site of monday's deadly stampede.
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graphic video shows the horror of what happened. police say people leaving a festival panicked when a bridge began to sway. more than 350 people were trampled to death, nearly 400 others were hurt. the crew of a fishing boat has made the catch of the day in the south pacific picking up three teenagers who were assumed lost at sea. they were discovered drifting in a small aluminum boat near fiji, 800 miles from the new zealand island they'd left 50 days earlier. the first mate of the fishing boat spoke by phone to the bbc. >> glor: teens are described as dehydrated and severely sunburned. they survived, they say, on a small supply of coconuts, rainwater and a seagull they caught. up next here, ashley judd's role of a lifetime. ?
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football field. at six. >> glor: there are two parts to this uniquely american holiday. there's the thanking, showing gratitude for all we have, and the giving, sharing our good fortune with others. for some, giving is not limited
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to one day. it's a way of life. michelle miller has tonight's example of the american spirit. >> don't you ever let me ever hear you utter those words again. >> reporter: you may recognize ashley judd from her movies. >> i broke your rules. >> reporter: or from her musical family half-sister wynonna and mother, naomi. but ashley wants to be known for something else-- helping the less fortunate. >> people sometimes say, "do you feel you have a responsibility as a well-known public figure to use your voice? i have a responsibility to use my voice because i breathe the air of humanity. >> reporter: since 2002, judd has embraced the people she's met in more than 13 countries where she works with population services international, a global health organization. >> when i go, for example, to eastern congo, and sit with
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women who have recently been not just gang raped by armed militia but gang raped multiple times, i got really emotionally and physically and spiritually sick. >> reporter: judd distributes medication and products to prevent aids, malaria, and unwanted pregnancies. when she returns to america, she shares the stories of those she meets hoping to spur change. >> last year, p.s.i. prevented 3.5 million unintended pregnancies, and we've also inserted over a million i.u.d.s in 22 countries. >> reporter: and in may, she lived out her lifelong dream earning a master's degree from harvard university. she has two new films in production, but... >> i have choices, and i can choose to stay in the problem because inaction is contributing to the problem, or i can choose to be a part of the solution. >> reporter: she says her acting will never be more important than her activism. michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> glor: that is the "cbs evening news" tonight. for katie couric, i'm jeff glor. thanks for joining us. happy thanksgiving. good night.
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captioning sponsored by cbs your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. the holiday season officially upon us. when the cold snap might break. >> sometimes you see people going through things and that means something to them. >> not content to just feed themselves, the small army of your neighbors who made sure everyone had a meal today. and yes, a whole lot of people have set aside the turkey to get ready for some serious shopping. happy thanksgiving. i'm allen martin. dana has the night off tonight. on on this thanksgiving, be grateful if you have a means to stay warm. it will be very cold. most of the bay area will reach near