tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS February 8, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
>> see you at 6:00. >> couric: tonight, it wasn't electronics. a government investigation finds sudden unintentional acceleration in toyotas was not caused by any electronic flaw. i'm katie couric. also tonight, stepping up the pressure in cairo. anti-mubarak protesters hold their biggest rally yet and hear from their hero, the man who helped start an online revolution. how a luxury hotel got tax dollars meant to help poor neighborhoods. we'll follow the money. and thieves never had a chance-- not against granny and her handbag. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric.
>> couric: good evening, everyone. they asked for it, they got it. toyota today got a clean bill of health for the electronics in its cars. after a ten-month investigation, the federal government found no electronic flaw that could have caused toyotas to suddenly accelerate. safety regulators had received more than 3,000 reports of unintended acceleration on toyotas linked to 93 deaths, though only five were confirmed. but it all led to a massive recall. national correspondent dean reynolds has more on the government's findings. >> reporter: for toyota, having weathered eight million recalled cars... >> what is the last name? >> reporter: ...a record $33 million in fines plus months of bad publicity and increasingly vigilant regulators, today's report could not have ended on a better note. >> the jury is back, the verdict is in. there is no electronic-based
cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in toyotas. period. i told my daughter that she should buy the toyota sienna, which she did. >> reporter: it all fits like a well-oiled hinge with what toyota's been saying for a year- - that there's nothing wrong with its high-tech electronics, its multitude of mini processors that control the throttle and that the unintended acceleration was more a humdrum mechanical issue involving floor mats that bunched and gas pedals that stuck. problems the transportation department said today are the only known causes for what were many admittedly terrifying and even fatal drives. >> reporter: the acceleration problem is real, as government testing showed and as complaints to the government as recently as last month suggest.
but engineers from nasa could find no electronic culprit, even after combing 280,000 lines of toyota software code and bombarding cars with electromagnetic radiation. indeed, today's panel said the mats and pedals were easily fixed during the mass recalls and that in any case the vast majority of reported incidents involved driver error. >> what most likely happened was pedal misapplication. >> reporter: but critics scoffed at the findings, noting that hundreds of complaints about unintended acceleration have come in after cars were supposedly repaired and thousands have involved vehicles toyota never recalled. >> this agency is not known for its scientific rigor and this is just another example. >> reporter: the damage to toyota from all of this has been significant. profits are off 39% in the last quarter and the company has slipped from number two in sales in the u.s. market to number three. katie? >> couric: and, dean, did any
safety recommendations come out of this whole thing? >> they would very much like to see standardized what's called a brake override in which the brake is always more powerful than the accelerator. they want that across the industry. they believe that will help drivers bring a car to a halt. >> couric: all right. dean reynolds in chicago. dean, thank you. turning to egypt now. if the mubarak regime expected protesters to lose interest after two weeks of antigovernment demonstrations, it was badly mistaken. they once again jammed the main square in cairo today demanding the president step down now. but tonight his vice president insisted mubarak is not leaving any time soon, and warned the protests won't be allowed to continue for long. more now from elizabeth palmer in cairo. >> reporter: it was the biggest crowd yet, but while thousands of protesters committed to a new egypt flooded into tahrir square one more time, the old regime
proved it remains tone deaf. egyptian vice president omar suleiman, who has washington's backing in this crisis, said egypt wasn't ready for democracy. the white house called that statement unhelpful. out here it sounded plain unbelievable. we pushed our way through the crush of people jostling to join the protest. once you pass the checkpoint, a welcoming committee chants "come on down to the square." and come they did. first-timers, families with newborns and even a man in a wheelchair. two weeks into these protests and i've never seen such an enormous crowd trying to get into the square. just when some observers were saying this movement was losing steam, it's been re-energized in part by the release of the google executive wael ghonim who was one of the initial online activists of the movement. ghonim is a google executive and one of the original organizers of these protests. he was arrested and held for ten days.
today on a makeshift platform in the square, he had a message of solidarity. "this is a time for all of us," he tells the adoring crowd. "egypt above all." over in the tent city where the herd core protesters are camping, ghonim is a role model. "he's selfless, he's the man we all want to be" said this protester. tonight ghonim sent out a message on twitter that read: no one knows that better than these exhausted demonstrators. do you think if you gave up the government would come after you and you would all be in danger of being tortured or arrested? "oh, definitely," they say. and maybe now more than ever, because the government has seen what they can do. vice president suleiman has said the government's formed a
committee to look at redrafting the constitution and offered some other concessions like press freedom, but these are very vague proposals and there is no sign that they cut any ice at all with the opposition. katie? >> couric: and, liz, how long will the government of egypt tolerate these protesters? and if they don't, how will they break up these demonstrations? >> well, the vice president has just said through the state news agency that these protests can't be tolerated for much longer and then he warned they don't want to use police action but we know perfectly well from what's just happened that if they try to do anything violent, this thing will get unacceptably ugly in a heartbeat. >> couric: liz palmer in cairo tonight. liz, thank you. from cairo, we turn to one of the most dangerous cities in this part of the world-- juarez, mexico, ground zero in the drug war. murder is an everyday occurrence, but bill whitaker reports what happened there over the weekend was especially
upsetting. >> reporter: even in this border city where violent death is so common, this hit home. three teenaged boys gunned down in a hail of bullets as they looked at cars at a dealership in juarez, mexico. two of them american citizens. 16-year-old carlos mario gonzalez bermudez and juan carlos echeverri, 15. both had attended cathedral high right across the border in el paso, texas. >> we always think that bad things only happen to bad guys but it's right there on the streets. >> i can't imagine that there's a single family on either side of the border who has not been affected by the violence in juarez. >> reporter: and the violence in juarez is breathtaking. more than 3,000 people killed last year, 253 so far this year. almost seven a day in an escalating turf war turned death match between two rival drug cartels. >> if you're looking at this from a pure body count
perspective, the trending indicates that we should have more killings in mexico this year than last year. >> reporter: no place is safe. american citizenship is no shield. two american college students were ambushed and murdered as they drove through juarez last november. youth and innocence are no protection. 18 teenagers have been killed since january 1. gonzalez bermudez and echeverri just the latest. >> 60 rounds were exchanged at the scene. that's usually very indicative of some sort of narco hit or gang retaliation violence. >> reporter: investigators say they know of no motive. juan carlos wanted to go to harvard. young life, young dreams snuffed out; an all too common occurrence in juarez. bill whitaker, cbs news, los angeles. >> couric: in washington today, the house opened hearings on the controversial subject of abortion. house republicans have proposed two bills that would add
restrictions to federal funding of abortions. senate democrats today called the bills a distraction from their top priority, the economy, and they vowed to defeat the bills if they pass in the house. planned parenthood has long been criticized by abortion rights opponents. the organization has more than 800 clinics across the country. recently, activists targeted some of them with a video sting. and chief legal correspondent jan crawford reports the f.b.i. is now investigating. >> reporter: the videos are troubling-- actors portraying a pimp and a prostitute seeking abortions for young sex workers. the target? planned parenthood, the nation's leading provider of reproductive services, counseling, contraception and abortion. >> reporter: in the past week,
antiabortion group live action has released undercover videos showing planned parenthood staffers all too eager to help purported teenage sex workers get abortions and contraception. >> reporter: planned parenthood has fired one worker in the videos and said it will restrain its staff. it reported the incidents to attorney general eric holder and cbs news has learned the f.b.i. is now investigating. >> live action is a political operation. its goal is to make abortion illegal in the united states. it's an extreme group. >> reporter: live action's leader is 22-year-old lila rose who founded the group when she was 15. she once went to planned parenthood posing as a 13-year- old girl who said she was pregnant by a 31-year-old man. the latest undercover sting is being made public as congress takes up the no taxpayer funding for abortion act.
republicans in the house want to cut planned parenthood's $300 million in federal funding. >> the time has come to deny all federal funding to planned parenthood of america. >> reporter: rose has worked with the organization whose undercover videos helped bring down the community organizing group acorn. she hopes her videos will end federal funding for planned parenthood, but her ultimate goal is to see abortion outlawed. katie? >> couric: jan crawford in washington. jan, thanks so much. and some changes are coming here at cbs. president and c.e.o. leslie moonves announced today that jeff fager, the executive producer of "60 minutes," has been promoted to the newly created position of chairman of cbs news. and david rhodes will be the new president of the news division, succeeding sean mcmanus who was promoted to chairman of cbs sports. david rhodes comes to us from bloomberg, where he headed up its u.s. tv operations. we welcome him to cbs and wish jeff, david, and shawn all the best. and still ahead here on the "cbs
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today it will ask congress to dedicate $53 billion over the next six years to build a national high speed rail network. the president's goal is to give 80% of americans access to high- speed rail within 25 years. the goal of another government program is to revitalize poor neighborhoods by giving companies an incentive to invest in them. as you might have guessed, you provide the incentive with your tax dollars. and where are those dollars going? some not where you might not expect. sharyl attkisson tonight follows the money. >> reporter: this education center is an oasis in a needy washington, d.c. neighborhood. treasury official don graves says it's possible only through a government program called new markets. you think it's helped change the whole character of the neighborhood? >> absolutely. >> reporter: new markets encourages private companies to invest in low-income communities. what do the companies get? hefty tax breaks.
for every dollar they commit, they get back 39 cents. but you might be surprised at just what qualifies as help for the poor. right now we're inside the luxurious blackstone hotel in downtown chicago, a favorite of royalty, movie stars and presidents. believe it or not, the blackstone's pricey renovations were funded with the help of your tax dollars through the new markets program intended for poor communities. the government won't tell us who's getting new market money, saying that's protected by privacy law, even though it's your tax dollars. city records show the companies that benefited from the blackstone's opulent makeover include some of the biggest names on wall street-- prudential financial invested $40 million and received a $15.6 million tax credit. so how does a swank hotel qualify as a project to help the poor? it boils down to how you define "poor" in this pricey area near popular tourist attractions. the poverty rate among families in the blackstone area is far
too low to be considered distressed-- just 3.9%. but new markets looks at the poverty rate among individuals and here it's 26%, largely because of a vary high number of college students in the area. on paper, at least, it's needy. when you heard the blackstone hotel got redevelopment help with taxpayer dollars, what did you think? >> i was very upset, actually. >> reporter: three miles from the lavish blackstone hotel, father dowling ministers the north lawndayle community. here 45% live in poverty and there's been no help from the new markets program. dowling can't figure out why the blackstone hotel got it. >> it can not be argued, and that's the insanity of it, is it can not be argued in any way it helps the underserved. >> reporter: how can it be said that a project like the blackstone hotel benefits the needy? >> the blackstone project itself was catalyzing development in a community that needed it. it creates hundreds of new jobs and meets the specific needs there.
>> reporter: in fact, graves insists 90% of the tax dollars have helped severely distressed communities. david dietz paints a different picture. >> it's kind of a bait-and- switch. >> reporter: he dug up the blackstone and other questionable projects for "bloomberg markets" magazine. an antique car museum in tacoma, the georgia aquarium in atlanta. he says they have little to do with helping the poor. >> 46% of the $16 billion that have been spent, according to treasury records, have gone to census tracts with a poverty... family poverty rate of less than 20%. and in some cases as low as zero. >> reporter: meanwhile, in west chicago, father dowling waits as his impoverished neighborhood gets nothing at all. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, chicago. >> couric: an update now on one of sharyl's earlier "follow the money" investigation about abuses by court-appointed guardians. sun valley group was assigned to look after the affairs of 89- year-old marie long, but in just four years her life savings of
$1.3 million was wiped out. now sun valley says it will get out of the guardianship business at the end of the month. and coming up next, an apologetic thief who is very sorry now. to stay fit, you might also want to try lifting one of these. a unique sea salt added to over 40 campbell's condensed soups. it helps us reduce sodium, but not flavor. so do a few lifts. campbell's.® it's amazing what soup can do.™ hey what's going on? doing the shipping. man, it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to weigh 'em all. if those boxes are under 70 lbs. you don't have to weigh 'em. with these priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. no weigh? nope.
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offered him $40 to go away. sorry, the gunman said, but he needed the whole till, about $300, to pay his rent and feed his kids. >> couric: tips led the police to 65-year-old gregory hess, and yesterday he was arrested. a man with good manners and a prior conviction for armed robbery. in illinois, state law requires truck drivers to sweep the snow off the top of their vehicles and here's why. watch as that truck approaches an overpass in university park. an explosion of snow enveloped the highway, momentarily blinding other drivers. amazingly, no cars crashed and no one was hurt. despite the health warnings, 46 million americans still smoke, but president obama is not among them. mrs. obama revealed today that after years of trying, he has kicked the habit. she didn't say when or how but
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a bay area city moves to recall two of its leaders... at 6 >> couric: and finally tonight, we take you to northampton, england. a town abuzz about a local crime fighter who ranks right up there with the caped crusader and the man of steel. here's mark phillips with the handbag heroine. >> reporter: it seemed like a well-planned smash-and-grab job. six thieves, three waiting getaway motorbikes, two sledgehammers and a window full of bling. but they hadn't planned on one granny with an attitude. ann timson is the name of the lady in the red coat. 70-plus years of petulant pensioner charging into the would-be robbers like an avenging angel with a handbag. they never stood a chance. >> it's amazing. it mean, it's very courageous what she's done. but that's six very dangerous men out there with hammers and she's made a beeline for them and put them off what they were doing. >> reporter: she says she first
thought it was a gang beating somebody up. when she realized it was a robbery, she really got mad. two sledgehammers versus one grumpy granny's handbag? no contest. two of the robbers fled in such panic they fell off their bike. finally, onlookers who had stood by in shock moved in. four of the six were arrested and the handbag heroine was led away for a cup of tea. >> we were all shaken from head to foot. she was more concerned whether we were okay more than the other way around. >> reporter: ann timson was fine and wants nothing more, she says, than her quiet life back. no interviews, no fame. although she did tell a local paper she'd do the same thing again. mark phillips, cbs news, london. >> couric: go granny, go. and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight, i'm katie couric. thanks for watching. see you back here tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs
captioned by media access you're watching cbs5 eyewitness news. "this broadcast realtime captioned by becky lyon." all new at 6:00 p.m. tonight. 5800 signed petitions about to land at city hall. the bay area city that is descending into a nasty and costly power struggle. how would you describe san francisco's mid-market street in 140 characters or less. how about in need of help from twitter. why the bay area's most famous cold case is about to heat up again, at least on television. i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. in one hour bay area politicians and people that want to oust them will come face-to-face. the meeting comes on the day a community group's recall effort cleared a big hurdle. ann notarangelo reports this afternoon the campaign turned in the petition signatures that it says it needs to move