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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  May 25, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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remember her is always on c good night. >> smith: tonight, more tornadoes in the heart of america. this time, oklahoma takes the biggest hit. it's the deadliest tornado season in more than 50 years. i'm harry smith. also tonight, democrats hope it's a preview of the 2012 elections. they score an upset win in a special congressional race that came down to a battle over changing medicare. an ohio auto factory revs up as general motors starts hiring again. and from local tv star to media mogul, 25 years of oprah. >> i won't say good-bye. i'll just say until we meet again. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news"
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>> smith: good evening. this tornado season has been both relentless and ruthless. a new line of twisters swept across the middle of the country today ripping apart homes and flipping school buses in sedalia, missouri. there are no reports of any serious injuries there. this comes a day after nearly 50 tornadoes were reported across five states, leaving at least 15 people dead, nine of them in oklahoma. since the beginning of april, tornadoes in this country have killed more than 500 people. the average number of deaths for an entire tornado season is about 60. rebecca jarvis is in piedmont, oklahoma tonight with the latest. rebecca, good evening. >> reporter: harry, good evening. this is the hardest hit town in oklahoma. as many as 100 homes look like the one behind me after a tornado tore through town last night. >> oh, no, what did it destroy? it's a trailer house!
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>> reporter: with winds up to 150 miles per hour... >> what's behind it? >> reporter: ...the tornado that tore through piedmont, oklahoma destroyed jamey zimmerman's dream house in just 15 seconds. >> i know it's going to be a year before i get to live in it again. >> reporter: zimmerman had heard the advanced warnings on his local newscast, so he knew he had minutes to take shelter. >> that thing it a bull's eye on me. it was coming right at me. as it came over the hill i said it's time to get into the safe room. watch for glass! >> reporter: he came here to this small fortified room he built in the back of his bedroom. >> i was in the safe room back in here. >> reporter: where he found refuge as the tornado tore the rest of his house to shreds. >> this worked, and that was a massive tornado, and it survived it. >> reporter: in total, four separate tornadoes touched down across the state late yesterday. >> i believe we've got debris on the ground, guys. we've got a tornado on the ground.
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>> yeah, that's a tornado on the ground. >> if you know someone traveling i-44 south towards chickashee, get them off. >> reporter: in fact, the interstate was the deadly evidence area of this storm. at least four people inside cars were killed there. the storms carved a 50-mile-long path of destruction. >> that's just a massive damage path. >> reporter: ...leaving behind the splintered remains of factories, homes, and farms. oklahoma was not alone. high-powered tornadoes tore through part of southeastern kansas and western arkansas, killing at least six and leveling towns. >> if you find my coffee pot... >> reporter: and back in piedmont, oklahoma, like so many survivors, jamey zimmerman refuses to lose hope that things will be better tomorrow. >> because this... this was my dream house. and it will be again. ( swirling winds ) >> reporter: the search-and- rescue efforts are continuing across the state this evening as more storms are predicted on the horizon. harry. >> smith: rebecca jarvis in
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oklahoma, thank you. tornado sirens in joplin, missouri last night sent people running for cover but cover is hard to come by since sunday when a monster tornado flattened entire blocks of the city of 50,000. no new tornado came through last night, but the death toll from the weekend twister climbed to 125 today. don teague in joplin tonight. >> reporter: for residents of joplin, the shock is finally wearing off, and the work of moving on is on the way. an army of utility crews is working to restore electricity, the water system, and remove a mountain of debris. but what about st. john's medical center? today we saw the first pictures from inside the ruined facility. >> it truly was like a bomb went off inside, almost on every floor. >> reporter: the photos show the grim reality-- waiting areas, patient rooms, the main reception area, demolished. >> we're not certain of the structure, if the structure is going to be able to support
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another facility here or if we'll need to rebuild. >> reporter: all across joplin search crews continued to scour ruined buildings for possible victims or survivors. >> there's always hope you can find somebody alive, so it's all you can do is hope and pray. >> i love you. >> reporter: cell phones are finally working here, and may dramatically lower the number of missing, which for now, is in the hundreds. at what's left of margaret row's house, members of her family searched for valuables while she recovers in a hospital burn unit 70 miles away. >> we're just trying to find what belongs to her and save it for her. >> reporter: jack row says his sister will survive, and so will the city. for proof, look no further than st. mary's church. the building is gone, but the church members are ministering to the community with money. >> could you use $100? >> oh, man, you wouldn't believe it. >> okay, who do you make it out to? >> doug keeney. >> spell your last name k-e-e.
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>> n? >> reporter: this community takes pride in faith and family as doug keeney, an unemployed construction worker, who lost everything, can attest. >> that's from a church down here and they don't have a church left but yet they're out handing out money. >> reporter: that man doug keeney said his family nearly reported him missing and it took him 24 hours to let them know he was alive. they hope the communication problems are to blame for the hundreds of cases of people still reported missing. harry. >> smith: for the youngest survivors in joplin, the scope of this disaster may be difficult to understand. much of what they've ever known has been turned upside down. cynthia bowers is in joplin with that story tonight. cynthia, good evening.
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>> reporter: good evening, harry. and, you know, usually in times of turmoil, kids find safety in the sanctuary of school, but in joplin, that is no longer an option. on a chilly gray evening, margaret tripp shows her two grandsons the place where she and her grandpa nearly lost their lives. >> i want them to remember this. this is tragic. mien, this is something... this has messed with people's lives. >> reporter: but for thousands of joplin children who lived through the killer storm, it's a history lesson that hits too close to home. >> there's no way that it cannot affect the children for a long time to come. this is a life-altering event. this is something that war survivors, holocaust survivors see. >> reporter: have you learned a life lesson with this? >> yes. >> reporter: what is that? >> probably the biggest thing i learned is nobody has promised tomorrow so you just like need to treasure every moment you have and the people that you're with. >> reporter: but just a stone's throw from all the death and destruction, there are smiles and signs of life. >> life needs to go back to normal, and those kids being out in that rubble is not normal. that's normal.
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>> reporter: cookie estrada runs the y.m.c.a., which is now offering a free and safe haven for kids while their parents deal with devastating reality. >> they're making lists for the insurance company to give us back stuff like that. >> reporter: five-year-old ethan bard's dad, josh, has been fighting to protect his little boy physically and emotionally. but little ethan knows very well what happened here. >> all the houses and the building got tore down. >> reporter: fifth grader austin ideker's family lost everything they owned. >> everything that i worked for, like, you know, how you have an allowance? i worked so hard to get my video games and they're all gone. >> reporter: four of ten city schools were destroyed. the cost to rebuild-- $100 million. even so, the superintendent vows, harry, he will have schools opened as planned august 11. >> smith: cynthia bowers, joplin
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tonight, thanks. in tucson, arizona, today a federal judge found jared loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial for the assassination attempt on congresswoman gabrielle giffords. during the hearing, loughner caused an uproar. bob orr is in washington and has that story. >> reporter: harry, i have to tell you this is yet another bizarre chapter in the case of jared loughner. as you mentioned, he was in the arizona courtroom today for a hearing to determine if he's mentally competent to stand trial in the shooting of congresswoman gabrielle giffords of arizona and 18 others. as the hearing proceeded, loughner apparently lowered his head. then he raised it briefly and started mumbling in kind of an angry outburst. those in court said it was difficult to make out exactly what he was saying but it sounded like he was say, "thank you for the freak show. she died in front of me." two deputy marshals dragged loughner from the courtroom and the judge later ruled he was not competent at this time to face a
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trial. we should tell you loughner has pleaded not guilty in the case but it's not clear at all that there ever will be a trial. as you probably know, six people were killed during that shooting spree that happened in tucson back on january 8. harry. >> smith: bob orr in washington tonight, bob, thank you very much. we have very different news tonight about two of america's better known political figures. our political and chief legal correspondent jan crawford joins us from chicago with news, first, of former democratic senator john edwards. jan, good evening. >> reporter: well, good evening, harry. this has really been a two-year investigation by a federal grand jury on whether john edwards violated finance campaign laws during his 2008 presidential bid. the allegations prosecutors have been looking at is whether he took about $1 million from two big donors and used that to keep secret his mistress and then the baby girl that they had together. you can't use campaign contributions for your personal use. and as one lawyer told me today, the prosecutors must believe that hiding your mistress counts as a personal use.
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but now, his lawyer has issued a very strong statement this afternoon just moments ago saying they think this is unprecedented, wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, suggesting they are going to fight this. >> smith: all right, and, jan, there are new rumblings of a possible run for the white house for former alaska governor, sarah palin. what can you tell us about that? >> reporter: really since november 2008, people have been speculating on whether or not sarah palin was going to run for president. most people thought she had probably ruled it out. she's got a very lucrative speaking career. she endorses candidates. they thought she would not be one herself. now there is reports that there will be a movie about her life and leadership released next month and in iowa, the big first state for presidential nominees. she's also bought a house in arizona. people think that might be a launching pad for her campaign. the speculation now has turned. sarah palin could get in the race, people are suggesting. that would be huge, a game changer for the republicans. >> smith: indeed, jan crawford with us tonight from chicago. thanks. coming up next on the cbs evening news, it was seen as a
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referendum on medicare, and the win goes to the democrats.
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>> smith: an election yesterday to fill a vacant congressional seat in new york turned into a referendum on republican plans to change medicare for future generations. nancy cordes tells us that in this heavily republican district, the democratic candidate pulled off a surprise. >> we had the issues on our side, did we not have the right issues on our side?
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>> reporter: democrat kathy hochul and her supporters on capitol hill left no doubt today what they thought was the key to her upset victory. >> the republican plan to kill medicare was the number one issue. it was the number two issue. >> would essentially end medicare. >> reporter: in ad after ad. >> while cutting benefits for seniors. >> reporter: hochul tied her republican opponent to the house g.o.p. plan to privatize america's most popular entitlement program. >> and now, she wants to cut medicare. >> reporter: this district outside buffalo is normally so reliably red that republican chris lee won reelection last november with 74% of the vote before stepping down over shirtless photos he posted online. in this race, republicans outspent democrats by more than 2:1. >> it's a preview of scare tactics, distortion...
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>> reporter: in interviews today, congressman paul ryan blamed the new york loss not on his plan but on the demonization of it. >> if you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that's going to have an effect. >> reporter: under ryan's proposal, today's seniors would see no changes. but for americans under 55, medicare would pay a set amount for private coverage with the average senior paying nearly $6,400 more in 2022 than they would today. >> we served notice on the republicans last night that where there's a democrat who will defend medicare against the republican who will terminate medicare, we will take that fight. >> reporter: but republicans are sticking together. they say their plan saves medicare, and when senate majority leader harry reid forced a vote on the matter late this afternoon, only five senate republicans defected and voted no. harry. >> smith: nancy cordes in washington tonight. thanks. president obama made history today. he became the first american president to address both houses of the british parliament. speaking in westminster hall, the president defended the nato airstrikes on libya.
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he said they'd stopped a massacre of libyan people by moammar qaddafi. coming up next, the road back. new life for a factory and a town. ,,,,
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>> smith: earlier this year, general motors announced expansion plans that would create or save about 4,000 jobs around the country. today, g.m. said 2,500 of them will be at a plant in the detroit area. all the this is part of g.m.'s comeback. seth doane, who visited a plant
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in lordstown, ohio as workers were being laid off there two years ago returned to find thousands were being hired back. >> reporter: this is the sound of an entire town being jolted back to life by 4,000 pounds of steel. >> my heart could burst that i'm just that excited to be here. >> reporter: just to have a job? >> just to have a job. >> reporter: bobby marsh had been unemployed for a year and a half. we first met her back in january 2009 one month after being laid off, like 2,200 others, when g.m. cut production of the now- defunct cobalt. >> i want to be able to provide on my own. >> reporter: it's tough. >> very tough. >> reporter: she tightened her budget and used her mother's piano lesson money to help save her house. all the time anxious about the stress on her son. >> i love you. >> love you, too.
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>> big squeeze. >> reporter: how about with you and your son, what's changed at home? >> i feel like i'm a better mom. >> reporter: why? >> because i'm not worried about where my paycheck's coming. >> reporter: for a good month, not a single car rolled off this line. now this plant is up and running at capacity, employing about 4,500 people and turning out a car a minute. >> going from telling people they're "laid off" to telling people, "hey, we're hiring, come back in." that gives you a sense of gratification right there. >> reporter: plant manager bob parcell is proud of the new car coming off the line now, the fuel-efficient chevy cruise. introduced in september, by april it had outsold every other g.m. vehicle. >> how the plant goes is really how this community goes and really how northeast ohio goes. >> reporter: mayor michael chaffee says 75% of his town's revenue comes from the plant. >> it was hard to turn a
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television on and see u.s. senators talking about letting the industry go away. >> i have to think about it a lot. >> reporter: when we first met john tarcheck he had just been furloughed and was fill time with house chores. he was laid off for four months, just as his son was heading to college. >> we were really scraping together in order just to make ends meet because we didn't know what the future was going to be. >> reporter: but now he's working again not far from bobby marsh. >> it feels like that i've conquered something by overcoming being on... being laid off, and being able to survive because it makes me feel like i'm a winner. >> reporter: that's the way the whole town feels. seth doane, cbs news, lordstown, ohio. >> smith: elizabeth smart waited a long time for this day. she faced the man who nine years ago kidnapped and raped her as he held her captive. smart, now 23, was 14 when brian david mitchell took her at knife point from her home in salt lake city. today at his sentencing, she
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told him he took away nine months of her life that she will never get back. the judge sentenced mitchell to life in prison. still ahead, 25 years and one final hour. ,,
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guy? who claims they can give him an alibi next on cbs 5 >> smith: when her show premiered in 1986, one reviewer said the host was overweight, loud, and boisterous, throws her arms around people, and is, in a word, terrific. nothing changed in 25 years, and today, michelle miller reports, oprah's reign as the queen of daytime tv came to an end. >> reporter: after months of anticipation, the final guest of the oprah winfrey show was revealed-- it was oprah herself. >> thank you, america. thank you so much. >> reporter: the woman who for millions of viewers is more than a talk show host...
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>> you are responsible for your life. >> reporter: ...she's a life coach... >> love somebody. >> reporter: ...teacher. >> no one completes you. >> reporter: even pop culture preacher. >> god is love. >> reporter: oprah has interviewed 30,000 guests, turned some into top tv stars themselves. >> for open the game is the talk show but it's much bigger than that. i mean, she's a whole industry. >> she gave me great advice about being in television. she said don't take any advice. be yourself. because they know if you're not. >> reporter: oprah let it all hang out and frequently her guests... >> have you ever felt this way before? >> reporter: and her audience the same. >> everything gets a car! >> reporter: after 25 years her final show wasn't go car giveaways or celebrity guests. it was about oprah's viewers, her fans, and what she says they've given to her. >> you and this show have been the great love of my life. >> reporter: the love had begun to fade. since 1991, at the show's peak,
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oprah has lost half her audience. some critics blame the ratings drop on oprah's frequent focus on spirituality, and her venture into politics. >> when she decided to start campaigning for the obamas, some people think that might have whittled away at her audience. >> this is going to be good. >> reporter: tomorrow she'll try to work some oprah magic on her fledgling cable channel which has struggled to find an audience in its first year, but today was about the audience in front of her as she put a long- running show behind her. >> i won't say good-bye. i'll just say until we meet again. >> reporter: michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> smith: that is the cbs evening news. i'm harry smith. i'll see you tomorrow night. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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price. "this has been going on unfortun you're watching cbs5 eyewitness news in high- definition. we go undercover exposing the black market where people buy bus and train tickets for half the price. >> this has been going on unfortunately for years. >> a critical moment happening in the dodger attack case. we will know more possibly within the hour. why there may be a better alternative if you're looking to help the environment than solar. good evening, i'm dana king. >> i'm allen martin. starting with breaking news as this house fire is burning right now in east oakland. this is in the 9800 block of burr street. captured this pictures


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