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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  April 14, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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6:00. >> see you at 6:00. "cbs evening news with katie couric" is next. >> caption colorado, llc internet >> couri >> couric: tonight, over and out. the man in charge takes the fall for air traffic controllers sleeping on the job. but they're not the only napping workers putting public safety at risk. i'm katie couric. also tonight, the most popular vehicle in america. ford recalls more than a million f-150 pickups to fix defective air bags. they came to congress full of hope and energy, and after their first 100 days... >> it's a frustrating process. >> couric: and the l.a.p.d. out in force for the first time at dodger stadium since a giant fan was nearly beaten to death. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world
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headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. he was america's top air traffic cop, but that is over. he is out. hank krakowski was forced to resign today as head of the air traffic organization after a number of controllers were caught sleeping on the job. not only embarrassing but, of course, dangerous. f.a.a. administrator randy babbitt said today this conduct must stop immediately. but wyatt andrews reports that might not be as simple as it sounds for the men and women with one of the highest pressure jobs around. >> reporter: with the f.a.a. deeply embarrassed by the sleeping epidemic, it's trying to assure the public of safety. the five air traffic controllers and one supervisor suspected of napping have all been suspended. the chief of air traffic control, hank krakowski, abruptly resigned this morning. at 27 airports where the
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midnight shift used to have one controller, airports as large as fort lauderdale and as small as fargo, north dakota, will now have two on duty in the name of safety. >> so that people have the assurance that these towers are safe and the controllers can guide planes in and out of airports. >> reporter: but experts tell cbs news that doubling down in the towers won't fix the larger safety problem, which is air traffic controller fatigue. too many controllers work rotating shifts, mixing early and late shifts in the same week without getting proper rest in between. >> these people are being scheduled to a point where they are really getting fatigued by virtue of their schedule. >> reporter: in fact, for more than a year, the f.a.a. and the air traffic controllers' union have worked on a joint study on fatigue, with the union freely admitting there's a problem. >> we have a fatigue issue and we want to address the fatigue issue. >> reporter: one focus of the coming investigation is why the sleeping controllers were so out of it.
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they did not respond to the radio or to ringing telephones. >> reporter: how is it that the controller isn't even answering the phone? >> we don't know. we need to look at each one of these instances and see exactly what happened. >> reporter: most air traffic controllers do perform at a very high level every day, but cbs news has learned that at least three of the sleeping controllers were there after midnight alone, were relatively new at the job, and lacked the professional training and mindset that frowns at sleeping on the job. katie? >> couric: wyatt andrews. wyatt, thank you. let's face it, lots of people doze off at work, especially with so many of them working longer hours. at the office, it's usually not a problem. but at a control panel or behind the wheel? that can cost lives. and as armen keteyian discovered, it happens all too often.
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>> reporter: an early morning bus crash; late night silence from air traffic control; commercial pilots nodding off in the sky; security guards caught snoozing at a nuclear power plant; t.s.a. agents catching 40 winks while on duty. not just isolated incidents of employee fatigue, but arguably the sign of a troubling trend: people in critical positions falling asleep on the job. >> this is showing up in a lot of industries, not just the airline industry. we're seeing it in truckers, we're seeing it in bus drivers and other mission-critical sorts of job opportunities. >> reporter: a cbs news review found five government reports from recent years highlighting the dangers of key employees nodding off while at work. like this massive 2004 train crash in texas that killed three and released poisonous gas into the air. investigators found the engineer and conductor were likely asleep at the controls, identifying employee fatigue as a
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significant factor in many train accidents. and then we discovered this post from last june into a federal aviation safety database by an anonymous pilot who wrote: overall, the national transportation safety board says operator fatigue has been tied to 39 major accidents involving planes, trains, buses and big rigs in the last 15 years, killing or injuring more than a thousand people. >> right now between 25% and 35% of american workers do shift work, which has them trying to stay awake during periods their body is telling them to stay asleep. >> reporter: an alarming wakeup call growing louder by the day. armen keteyian, cbs news, new york. >> couric: safety concerns drove ford to announce today it's recalling more than a million f- 150 pickup trucks, model years
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2004 through 2006. the air bags in the trucks may deploy accidentally. the government says 122 people have been hurt, some escaped with cuts and bruises, but two lost consciousness. here's dean reynolds. >> reporter: it's been two years since the air bag on her ford truck deployed for no apparent reason, but jacqueline reimel is still hurting. >> physically i still have aches and pains because of the injuries. >> reporter: the memory still lingers, along with the recovery from neck and wrist surgery. >> i was going about five miles an hour and my air bag just went off for no reason. like, i just remember a flash and a lot of powder. >> reporter: nationally, the transportation department says it's aware of 318 similar faulty air bag complaints about the poplar ford f-150 involving the 2004, 2005, and 2006 model years. even though most incidents occurred at low speed and right after ignition, regulators said they posed an unreasonable risk to safety.
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>> trucks are built ford tough... >> reporter: ford says the problem involves the protective covering around the electrical wires inside the bag. if improperly installed, the covering can wear off over time, exposing the wiring, causing a short and triggering the bag's deployment. in february, ford announced a recall of only 144,000 of the trucks, but government regulators demanded that it put an additional 1.2 million on the list, and today it agreed. ford said it was complying now to reassure its customers of the company's commitment to safety. while the company said the air bag repair will take less than half a day, the repair to the image of ford's best-selling vehicle may take longer. dean reynolds, cbs news, chicago. >> couric: in libya today, nato kept up the pressure on moammar qaddafi, bombing military facilities around the capital. while that was happening, state t.v. showed qaddafi taking what
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seemed to be a victory lap, defiantly pumping his fists as he stood up through an open sunroof while leading a motorcade through tripoli. his forces, meanwhile, continued attacking civilians in misurata, the only city in the west still controlled by rebels. at least 13 were reportedly killed there today. in the east, the rebels are gearing up for their next battle, but as allen pizzey reports, they are a long way from being an effective fighting force. >> reporter: the rebels mustered their biggest concentration of weaponry yet outside ajdabiya today. they were preparing, one officer said, for nato to hit qaddafi's tanks and armor further up the coastal road. while they wait, their political leaders are lobbying for exemption from the u.n. arms embargo. the ragtag rebels have begun to organize a semblance of command and control, and were even briefed on what to do. what the rebels want most are heavy weapons to counter qaddafi's tanks and artillery that nato can't or won't take out.
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at the moment, all they have are some rocket launchers and homemade contraptions like this mounted on the backs of pickup trucks. the pod is from a russian attack helicopter. it has a range of about three miles and there's no way to aim it properly. former history teacher majdi al- zweih claims it only took him half an hour to learn how to use it. he'd like a real weapon along with a proper pair of boots. the only ones who have them are defectors from qaddafi's army, like sergeant hussein al-obeidi. "these weapons are weak" he says, adding that he believes qaddafi is using what he calls forbidden weapons. on available evidence, rebels ought to be forbidden from having any weapons until they learn basic rules. that was a rebel setting off his rocket-propelled grenade in the back of a pickup truck. the homegrown version of friendly fire wounded the rebel in the leg. a misadventure his embarrassed comrades did not want shown on t.v.
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neither would the politicians who are asking for frozen libyan funds to be released to them so they can buy food and, of course, more weapons. allen pizzey, cbs news, ajdabiya. >> couric: in japan today, the first imperial visit to the disaster zone. emperor akihito and empress mecheka saw for themselves the damage done by last month's earthquake and tsunami and spoke with survivors at two evacuation shelters. also today, the search began for as many as a thousand victims of that damaged nuclear plant. an area that had been off limits. and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," the other team in blue suiting up to keep baseball fans in line. but up next, hitting the ceiling. what happens if congress takes away america's credit card? bonnie, turn up the volume. your baby sister has something to say.
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$14.29 trillion, but he's already borrowed $14.22 trillion-- meaning he's just $70 billion away from having his credit cut off. and if that happens? here's anthony mason. >> reporter: this is the control room of the american debt machine. the u.s. treasury's auction room where it borrows billions every week from investors here and around the world to keep the u.s. government running. but if congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the treasury's credit card would hit its limit. this room would shut down and the u.s. government could go into default. >> the consequences of that would be catastrophic to the united states. >> reporter: treasury secretary tim geithner before congress and in an interview again today warned those consequences would be worse than the financial crisis we just went through. what's the risk if we hit the ceiling? >> it would shake the basic foundation of the entire global financial system. >> reporter: because america's debt is the gold standard of the world.
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the u.s. has always paid back with interest. >> if you default on the debt-- which has never happened in our history-- we now have a whole different world. if you can't trust u.s. treasury securities, what can you trust? >> reporter: ric mishkin is a former governor of the federal reserve. >> this is what they do in countries like argentina. this is not what we do in this country. >> reporter: interest rates would soar, the stock market would plummet. geithner estimates at the current rate of spending, we'll hit the debt ceiling-- $14.29 trillion-- about may 16. >> starting in the end of may, we start to run on fumes. and that's not something you want to do for an economy that's coming out of this traumatic a crisis. >> reporter: the treasury can buy about eight weeks through accounting measures, but by early july it will run out of options. >> then we have to stop paying benefits to veterans, recipients of social security, medicare. >> reporter: are you expecting this to get pushed right up to the brink? >> there are some people who
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want to take it right up to the brink, but that would be deeply irresponsible. you can't let it get too close to that. >> reporter: because? >> because again if you take it too far, then people will start to wonder whether we're going to make it. >> reporter: so how much does the debt ceiling need to be raised? the treasury secretary says that depends on how soon congress wants to come back and vote on it again. it's been raised five times over the last three years-- on average, $900 billion each time. katie? >> couric: anthony mason reporting from washington tonight. in a moment, some of those involved in the debt ceiling debate, freshmen members of the house marking their first 100 days. >> couric: they were out to change the world or at least the country and the congress. yeah right! i'm a working woman. and i'm busy. jgng why should osteoporosis therapy disrupt my morning routine? with new atelvia there's no wait. unlike other osteoporosis medicines... atelvia has a delayed- release formulation...
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you could buy a whole heap of grapes. how's that? vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. >> couric: they were out to change the world, or at least the country and the congress. the 96 freshmen members of the house-- 87 republicans and nine democrats. how are they doing as they complete their first 100 days? we've been following a group of them since day one, listening to their congressional voices. >> it definitely has not been an easy time, but it's been a good time. >> couric: back in his home state of michigan, republican bill huizenga owns a gravel company and served as a state legislator. now three months into his first term in congress, he says life in washington is a whole new ball game. >> to use a baseball analogy, they're pitching at your head. i mean, they're coming at you. it's a big stage and things are moving very, very fast. >> couric: how fast?
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in its first 100 days, the freshman class has navigated a national tragedy, military intervention in libya and narrowly averted a government shutdown. just days after taking their oaths of office, and while many were still learning the capitol's maze of tunnels, a gunman opened fire at a tucson, arizona, shopping center, killing six and wounding a fellow member of congress, gabrielle giffords. when you heard this, you're a freshman, did you think, "oh, my gosh, what have i gotten myself into?" >> my first reaction was pure shock. the fact that we had just been sworn in. that there's so much hope and optimism about this congress and the awesome responsibility that we all share. >> reporter: many on capitol hill hoped the tragedy would usher in a new era of bipartisanship and civility. >> i think the tone changed for about two weeks, and then i think after that we went back to the partisanship. >> reporter: karen bass, who went from speaker of the california house to the lone
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democratic freshman on the budget committee, says the feelings of unity after the tucson shooting are long gone. >> the tea party on your side-- as so often is the case... >> ( boos ) >> couric: efforts to tone down the rhetoric soon ran head first into a bitter fight over federal spending. >> we're not there yet. >> i think that's part of the combat that takes place in a legislative process. >> this is my life. this is my schedule. >> couric: florida's alan west, an iraq war veteran, walks the halls of congress with his trademark military satchel. he campaigned on the g.o.p.'s pledge to america, which included a promise of $100 billion in spending cuts this year. when the republican leadership wavered on that amount, west and many of his tea party compatriots demanded it stand firm. >> you can't, you know, right out the gate lose your credibility. and i think that they understood that, because we really need the american people to know that
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they sent the right people up here to start taking care of the business of spending in washington, d.c. >> shame on a senate who said we will not take up the bill! >> couric: the 87 new republicans kept the pressure on, rallying on the senate steps almost every day leading up to last friday's spending deal. >> that's why this place is open today. >> reporter: with that battle behind them, they've turned to next year's budget, voicing their support for a plan that would cut taxes and drastically reform medicare. >> this is probably one of the most engaged budgets that has been produced by the house. at least in the last decade. and i'm proud of that. >> couric: and what about the mighty nine, as the small group of democratic freshman call themselves? >> it's a frustrating process. >> couric: they've had to face the reality of having considerably less clout than their conservative classmates. >> i sort of expected when i got here everyone would be focused on jobs. and that the jobs agenda would
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be articulated by our republican leadership in the house. there's been no jobs bill, no jobs agenda. we did npr, we did planned parenthood, we did virtually everything but talk about jobs in the congress of the united states. >> couric: and while some democrats may think they have no clout, speaker boehner needed dozens of them today to pass the budget compromise. that's because 59 republicans-- including freshmen west and huizenga-- voted no because the cuts were not big enough. from the soap opera on capitol hill to the ones that air on television everyday, ratings have been dropping, and today abc announced it is dropping "all my children" and "one life to live." "life" has been on since 1968, "children" since 1970. with their departure, there will be just four soaps left. there were once 19. meanwhile, baseball hopes to turn the page on an ugly chapter. when we come back, what one team is doing to stop violence at the stadium. stadium. [ male announcer ] if you've been to the hospital
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bill whitaker's at the stadium. bill, how is the victim doing? >> reporter: katie, doctors treating bryan stow have reduced his medication, hoping he will wake from his coma, but tonight he remains in a coma. his attack certainly has changed things here at dodger stadium. the l.a.p.d. started arriving early at dodger stadium for the first home game since the horrendous attack on giants fan bryan stow. the first day of their promised robust response as stow-- beaten by two still-unidentified dodger fans-- spends day 13 in a coma. to beef up security, the dodgers have stopped a planned promotion offering half-priced beer. they've put up more lights in the parking lot and, most of all, they plan to flood the stadium with a sea of blue-- 200 l.a.p.d. officers being added to the security force. >> i have a lot of cops out there, i have undercover officers throughout the state
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yum. you never know who's listening to you so everybody should act accordingly. >> reporter: it's all a bit like deja vu for alan antenocruz. >> it's sad. it's sad not only for our family but all the families that have been affected by this. >> reporter: his son mark, a proud giants fan, was shot and killed in the parking lot at dodger stadium in 2003, his casket draped in a giants banner. the dodgers promised alan they'd increase security after mark's murder. >> i refuse to go. it's not the dodgers, it's the stadium and what happened there. that's a bad memory. >> they got to have protection. >> reporter: long-time dodger manager tommy lasorda admits the beefed-up security is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, but he hopes this time the dodgers are getting ahead of the violence curve. >> we want to beat them on the baseball field not off the baseball field. >> reporter: fans here tell us they like seeing this police presence, it makes them feel safe and they're looking forward to enjoying a good game tonight. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker. bill, thank you. and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thanks for watching. i'll see you back here tomorrow.
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good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh be gone. the bay area county looking to balance its you're watching cbs5 eyewitness news in high- definition. "this broadcast realtime captioned by becky lyon." >> i don't know of these people who are waiting until that 11th hour to come up with the funds. >> if they don't, their homes will be gone. the bay area county looking to balance its own books by selling the property of delinquent taxpayers. is this bay area school doing enough to prevent violence? the youtube videos that have parents asking tough questions. nine months after the oscar grant rally turned to a riot what two men will be asked to pay for their role. >> i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. for years dozens of homeowners avoided the tax man bu


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