tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS June 17, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
decide what you can take pictures of. we'll have that and more at 6:00. >> see you at 6:00. >> caption colorado, llc firstname.lastname@example.org >> pelley: tonight, a.a.r.p. kicks a hornet's nest. the nation's most powerful lobby for seniors admits publicly social security must change. a terror plot in a dead man's pocket. the top al qaeda leader and how the u.s. knows what he was up to. it's america's longest conflict. after 40 years, who's winning the war on drugs? >> crystal meth is just one of the most horrible things that people can ever try. >> pelley: and for father's day, a story of a dad lost in war and cierra becker's question: how to keep him in her heart. >> whether to just gloss over what happened or act like daddy's there every day.
captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. there was quite a tremor in washington today when it appeared the a.a.r.p. acknowledged that cuts in social security benefits are inevitable to ensuring the long-term health of the system. a.a.r.p. lobbies for seniors and has always held social security sacred. in fact, just last month it said making political deals that cut hard-earned benefits is the wrong way to address these challenges. but today a subtle change in language may have profound effects on the future of the national pension plan. here's our congressional correspondent, nancy cordes. >> reporter: washington woke up to a new political reality this morning: the nation's most powerful seniors' group telling the "wall street journal" it was ready to deal on cutting social security benefits. the a.a.r.p.'s policy chief,
john rother, admitting "some of our members will no doubt be upset." so upset that within hours the a.a.r.p. was insisting this was always their position. >> we can make changes that are modest and we can make changes with a great deal of lead time so that we don't need to affect anybody who's currently retired today or near retirement. >> reporter: but the group has long opposed such cuts. >> a.a.r.p. has been working to preserve social security for 50 years. >> reporter: politicians on both sides were stunned. >> i think it's a very good thing. i think they recognize reality that the trust fund is, is operating in a substantial cash- negative position. >> reporter: erskine bowles cochaired president bush's fiscal commission which proposed trimming social security benefits for wealthy seniors and slowly increasing the retirement age to 69 by the year 2075, incremental changes many lawmakers, like georgia senator johnny isaacson, support.
>> we could fix social security tomorrow just like they did in 1983 and not take a penny away from anybody, but move the eligibility out to be more reflective of life expectancy. >> reporter: both parties have been reluctant to make those changes and risk angering the nation's most consistent voting block, seniors. >> social security is an insurance. it's not a gift. it's not welfare. >> reporter: and that's where the a.a.r.p. comes in. its support for modest cuts could give lawmakers the political cover they need to fix social security at long last. scott? >> pelley: nancy, why is a.a.r.p. doing this now? >> reporter: well, essentially it's because of the debt cutting talks that are going on right now on capitol hill led by vice president biden. some proposals had been floated to bring social security into those talks to cut it as a way to bring down the debt, and the a.a.r.p. insists that social security should not be raided-- that it didn't cause the debt and that it shouldn't be used to lower it. >> pelley: thanks, nancy.
social security consumes 20% of the federal budget, so it's part of the debate over how the manage america's $14 trillion debt. when countries don't manage debt, the trouble reaches far and wide. and that's what's happening now with greece. anthony mason reports that the government replaced its finance minister today to stave off a modern greek tragedy. >> reporter: greece's cabinet reshuffle was a desperate effort to restore confidence after a week of turbulence on the streets of athens as protesters balked at proposed austerity measures in this debt-ridden country. the white house welcomed to replacement of the greek finance minister. >> we support the government and the people of greece in their efforts to get through these current difficulties. >> reporter: but greece has a long way to go. with a population of 11 million, it has a debt of nearly half a trillion dollars. and investors worry if greece defaults, that could be the first domino to fall in a new global debt crisis.
>> it's not just greece but also ireland, portugal, spain. spain's economy is in deep trouble. >> reporter: the unemployment rate in spain has soared to 21%. tiny portugal also has a debt of nearly half a trillion dollars. and ireland's debt is almost equal to its annual economic output. >> and the banks in europe own that debt and the banks globally are all interconnected. >> reporter: the biggest holders of that debt are german and french banks. president sarkozy of france and chancellor merkel of germany met today to discuss releasing more bailout money to greece. but in the worst-case scenario, economists say, the greek debt crisis could become europe's lehman brothers-- a catastrophic failure that freezes the credit markets and infects the u.s. economy. >> the stock market would likely fall. the credit markets would tighten up. the economy slows. job creation slows. so it would not be a happy scenario. >> reporter: european leaders will meet through the weekend,
scott, to try to buy time. but as one greek economist put it, at this point not even god almighty as finance minister can save the greek economy. >> pelley: thank you, anthony. if there is any doubt that al qaeda wants to attack the west again, intelligence sources told our david martin today about a plot that was found after the death of a top al qaeda leader. >> reporter: the violent death of harun fazul in somalia last week was more than long-overdue justice. the head of al qaeda in east africa was carrying a laptop when he was gunned down at a checkpoint outside the somali capital of mogadishu. on that laptop were documents outlining a potential plot to attack luxury hotels in london and europe. inspired by the spectacular 2008 mumbai attacks which killed 164 in india's largest city, the plan called for al qaeda operatives to check into guest rooms on various floors of
upscale hotels and then set the rooms ablaze. one of the hotels was the ritz- carlton in london. storied eton college was also on the list. mumbai was the work of a different terrorist group, but al qaeda had been impressed that a handful of dedicated fighters could cause mass terror and grab worldwide attention by attacking lightly-guarded targets in a major city. security forces throughout europe were on high alert last winter against the threat of just such an attack run out of pakistan. it does not appear the plot run by harun got very far before he was killed, but there was no doubt he was capable of murdering large numbers of people. he had been the ground commander of the 1998 suicide bombing of the american embassy in nairobi where 213 people-- including 12 americans-- died. killing a high-level terrorist gets the headlines, but it is the intelligence bonanza they
leave behind often turns out to be more important. >> pelley: thank you, david. as syria's president continues his crackdown on antigovernment protests, human rights groups reported today that more than 1,400 people have been killed so far and 10,000 arrested. but that didn't stop syrians today from demanding again that bashar al-assad step down. wyatt andrews is just over the border in turkey. >> reporter: if the assad regime thought that last week's brutal killing of protesters would somehow kill the protest, today came the people's defiant answer. anti-assad demonstrations broke out in cities nationwide. more than 10,000 people marched in hama, a city with a history of rebellion, with every protester facing the risk the army could shoot at any time. in the coastal city of homs, the army did shoot and hospitals were filled with the injured. unconfirmed reports said at least 19 were killed and the regime's brutality stayed very much alive.
to learn the extent of the violence, cbs news asked syrian refugees now sheltered in camps in turkey to tell us their stories by cell phone video. they asked not to be identified because they fear reprisals, including this woman, who said soldiers terrorized her village last week by raping the women. "we saw the horrible and shameless things the army did" she told us. "so i ran away to protect my honor. the soldiers burned our home and killed our livestock." this woman says "we don't want assad anymore. he has spilled blood everywhere." there are 10,000 refugees now in camps inside turkey, but 10,000 more live outdoors in the forests and olive groves on the syrian side of the border. when we tried to approach the refugees in the groves... >> get in the car. >> reporter: ...we were detained by turkish soldiers. we were released after around
seven hours but, scott, this shows you how tense the border region has become. the turks are under increasing pressure to take care of all of these syrians, and they simply do not want pictures made of refugees living under trees. >> pelley: wyatt, i wonder why the turks are so sensitive about that. what do they fear? >> reporter: scott, the only thing i can think of is that the turks are frightened. they're frightened that if assad does not stop all this brutality, they won't be looking at 10,000 people up in those mountains, they'll be looking at a half million syrians wanting to overrun the border. and they simply want less publicity at this point, not more publicity. >> pelley: thank you, wyatt. fathers lost in war and children searching for answers. the link between education and cancer deaths. and 40 years after america declared war on drugs, the enemy is winning-- when the "cbs evening news" continues. [ male announcer ] germs in your mouth build up
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the american cancer society said today that better prevention and treatments have helped save nearly 900,000 lives between 1990 and 2007. but there's an education gap. people who have only a high school diploma are 2.5 times more likely to die of cancer than those with graduate degrees. 40 years ago today, this country started a war. the enemy? illegal drugs. and the war is still going on. we asked sharyl attkisson to tell us if we're making any progress. >> reporter: gina is in a treatment center on long island for opiates and crack. her addictions have landed her in jail and nearly killed her. she even used drugs while pregnant. >> it ruins my life pretty much. >> reporter: her parents are heroin addicts who met at rehab. dad ralph is currently clean. >> we have to stop this cycle. it's insanity.
>> reporter: two generations-- casualties, long after president nixon declared the war on drugs 40 years ago. >> we must wage what i have called total war against public enemy number one. >> reporter: we set out to find just how much has been spent on that war-- and the results. >> this is your brain on drugs. >> reporter: back in 1971, the federal drug control budget was $155 million. today it's more than $15 billion a year or, after inflation, 17 times higher than 1971. there have been peaks and valleys in drug use over the years, but in recent decades as the drug-fighting budget has ballooned, drug use hasn't gone down-- it's gone up. many groups call for decriminalizing drugs and putting more emphasis on treatment. one of them is the global commission on drug policy made up of international politicians and business leaders. it claims the war on drugs has failed. it estimates cocaine use is up 27%, opiates up 34%. in 1989, the first president
bush named bill bennett the first so-called drug czar. today he told us fighting the war is worth it. >> it's like the war against ignorance or barbarism or anything else that's horrible and persistent. when you let up the pressure, things get worse. when you keep the pressure on, often things can get better. >> this war on drugs, when i look at from a civilian's point like, "okay, there's still a lot of heroin, still a lot of drugs on the street, what did it do?" and the second question is, "well if there wasn't a war on drugs, how much more drugs would there have been in here?" >> reporter: he also worries it could claim a third generation, like his granddaughter. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, washington. >> pelley: no illegal drug worries law enforcement more than crystal meth. but the federal government is stepping back from that fight. that story is next. ext. çó
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>> pelley: after 40 years of the war on drugs, most any cop will tell you that methamphetamine is the biggest challenge today. but chief investigative correspondent armen keteyian has found that the federal government is cutting funds to fight the meth labs. >> reporter: in memphis, the war on drugs is a door-to-door battle. increasingly, the enemy is the devil drug, methamphetamine. >> crystal meth is just one of the most horrible things that
people can ever try. and it breaks up a family. it breaks up a home. >> reporter: kim is an innocent victim. on wednesday, crystal meth took away the father of her two-year- old daughter. marcus pritchett was arrested on a felony drug charge. >> i do coke and i sell dope, of course there's people that come to me to buy dope, of course. i mean, come on now, fella. >> reporter: tennessee is on its way to becoming the number-one state for meth use in the nation. >> it's a scourge. it's an epidemic. >> reporter: tommy farmer is head of the tennessee methamphetamine task force. >> it's the worst drug that i've witnessed come down the pipe in terms of a drain on society, a drain on all resources. >> reporter: making matters worse, the one-pot or shake-and- bake method. it requires fewer steps and a simple soda bottle mix the key ingredient-- pseudoephedrine found in common cold medicines. yet shake, as it's known, is just as addictive and explosive. however it's made, it leaves behind a toxic mess law
enforcement must clean up-- at an average cost of $2,500 per lab. as part of its war on drugs, for the last decade the d.e.a. has passed out as much as $20 million a year in federal funds to help states clean up meth labs. but in late february, those funds suddenly dried up. that money, just $8.3 million this year, will be reduced to nothing next year if the current white house budget remains intact. since the funds ran out, lab seizures have dropped as much as 50% in tennessee. farmer says it's no coincidence. >> reporter: is there a mindset, "well, unless we really have to bust them, we don't have the money to clean them up." >> there's no doubt that that's... that's definitely happened. >> all this is household chemicals, man. >> when the federal funds were exhausted, it sent folks into a spin. it's a scramble. >> reporter: meanwhile, the collateral damage keeps spreading. homes so contaminated they're quarantined.
families like pritchett's ripped apart. >> meth has taken away the past three years-- long, depressing three years of my life that i won't get back. >> reporter: more casualties in the war on meth. armen keteyian, cbs news, chattanooga. >> pelley: here's something we found amazing about the war on drugs. in the last 30 years, the number of people jailed in this country for drug offenses has increased more than 1,400%. look at this. in 1980, more than 23,000 drug convicts were behind bars, but by 2008 it was more than 346,000. some of the most striking images we've seen today came from argentina-- a resort town is buried under a foot of ash from an erupting volcano in chile. people are using wheelbarrows to clean it up. it's all happening at the start of argentina's ski season and tourists are staying away.
all the children at one camp have lost parents. how they're helping each other, next in steve hartman's "assignment america." [ waves crashing ] ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] and just like that, it's here. a new chance for all of us: people, companies, communities to face the challenges yesterday left behind and the ones tomorrow will bring. prudential. bring your challenges. and the ones tomorrow will bring. hey! hey! hey! that's our snack machine. you should try something new. activia parfait crunch! crunchy granola you mix right in to creamy and delicious activia yogurt. mmm! crunchy!
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>> pelley: we talked a lot in the newsroom this week about finding a story to honor father's day, and steve hartman came back with something special. in this time of war, steve has found a story of love, loss, and longing for dad in tonight's "assignment america." >> reporter: in war-- any war-- the only thing more tragic than the body count is the daddy count. in vietnam, for example, about 20,000 american kids lost their fathers. and of those casualties, one of the most heartbreaking stories belongs to now 41-year-old mitty mirrer of rhode island, who lost her dad when she was just 16-- hours old. her mom was still recovering from childbirth. >> they actually came to the hospital and went right into her room and notified her, and she screamed. >> reporter: in the years
following the funeral, mitty says her mother hardly ever talked about her dad and didn't really want mitty asking about him, either, even though mitty felt she needed to. and that's why a few years ago this mother of two took it upon herself to dig into something much deeper than dirt. it's a documentary she produced to give a voice to those kids who've lost a parent to war. a voice like they've never had-- and we've never heard. it's called "gold star children." the name goes back to world war i when, if someone lost a son, they used to put a gold star in the window. >> a gold star child would be a kid who had lost their loved one that was in the military. like i lost my dad. i'm a gold star child. >> reporter: cierra becker lives with her mom and baby sister outside corpus christi, texas. since her dad died in iraq fourd years ago, cierra has been trying to figure out where his death leaves her.
>> whether to completely change my personality or just gloss over what happened or just act like daddy's there every day. >> i want to personally welcome you to washington, d.c. >> reporter: cierra found some answers at a camp for kids who also lost parents to war. >> he's going to go out to iraq for the second time. >> oh, my dad goes there! >> reporter: just being able to talk about it seemed to do wonders. >> by them being able to share the stories, it validates that experience, and they don't have to wait 25, 30 years to do it. >> reporter: the project has also had a big affect on mitty. >> i was that seven-year-old kid! >> reporter: eventually she realized her camera was a mirror, too. steve hartman, cbs news, providence, rhode island. >> pelley: that's the "cbs evening news." i'm scott pelley. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night and happy father's day.
captioning sponsored by cbs your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. a massive snowpack on top of unsurpassed natural beauty for anybody ready to hit yosemite, the effort it took to clear the road for you and the epic season that's waiting when you get there. >> they were served to dogs, only the meatballs were poisoned. the neighborhood dispute that has killed two pets. amid more bad unemployment news for california, a bright spot. and it is right here in the bay area. good evening, i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. it may be mid-june, but only now is it finally cleared of snow. tioga road in yosemite national park will open to traffic tomorrow. the road is