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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  December 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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the cbs evening news is next. see you in 30. >> caption colorado, llc >> pelley: tonight, the deal is done. congress votes to prevent a tax increase. the president signs it, but sharyl attkisson reports the deal won't last long. the syrian uprising takes an ominous turn with deadly car bombings in damascus. clarissa ward goes inside syria oed meets the rebels plotting to overthrow the regime. mark strassmann on today's new smart cars that can stop themselves to prevent crashes. and steve hartman's "on the road" with santa's toughest challenge. >> santa, for christmas i want my dad to come home. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. th
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>> pelley: good evening. no holiday tax increase. after a week-long standoff, the senate, house, and president came together on a two-month extension of the temporary cut in social security payroll sexes. a year ago, that tax rate was lowered from 6.2% to 4.2%. and for a lot of families, that comes to about $80 a month. house republicans wanted a longer extension and they threatened to let the tax cut expire if they didn't get their way. but today they backed down and the president was quick to grab his pen. sharyl attkisson has been covering from the capitol to the white house. >> i said it was critical for congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working americans and i'm pleased to say that they've got it done. >> reporter: the president touldn't have asked for a better sendoff for his hawaii holiday. a week ago, nobody predicted democrats would win such a decisive p.r. victory as tax
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astters looking out for middle- class workers while republicans stood in the way. house republicans failed at their attempt to hold out for a olll one-year extension of the payroll tax cut. instead, it's renewed for just two months. it saves $1,000 a year for a worker earning a $50 salary. the deal was sealed today in a remarkable session of the house and senate which had basically ioosed up shop. >> the house stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tuesday, december 27. >> reporter: leaders were able to use rules to expedite the tax cut extension as long as not one single member objected. nobody did. >> happy new year as well. >> reporter: the democrats' leader in the senate, harry reid, took the chance to lecture hause republicans, whom he blamed for all the trouble. blicverything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight. that isn't the way things need he be. >> reporter: reid specifically directed his remarks to house freshmen, and said that he hoped they'd learned a lesson. >> pelley: well, sharyl, a lot of those freshmen are tea party
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members. i wonder what they said today. >> reporter: well, if the paper statements that some of them released today are any indication, they are not happy. one of them, for example, released a statement that called the two-month extension a bad deal-- "a gimmick"-- and said dee house caved yet again to president obama and senate democrats. >> pelley: sharyl, thanks very much. the bill signed today also mutends unemployment benefits for nearly two million americans whose unemployment checks would have stopped in january. the president is asking congress to come back after the holiday r d extend the tax cut and benefits for a full year. yesyria, a troubling escalation in the uprising against the assad dictatorship. today, car bombs were used for the first time since the protests began nine months ago. the government says at least 44 people were killed. the two powerful bombs exploded moments apart. outside the offices of government intelligence in damascus.
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the cars were ripped apart and windows blown out blocks away. .he assad dictatorship quickly blamed al qaeda, and that would fit the government's contention that the uprising against assad is led by terrorists, but one rebel group claimed claimthat it's more likely that the government bombed its own buildings to discredit the rebellion. it was in march that the protests began, and assad met that opposition with troops and tanks. the assad family has ruled syria for 41 years. first hafez al-assad and now his son bashar. they have suppressed all opposition and in 1982, the regime killed tens of thousands of civilians. ossad has been under growing pressure since the roansformation known as the arab spring. dictators have fallen in egypt, tunisia, and libya. president obama has called on assad to step down and syria's
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neighbors, turkey and jordan, are also calling for an end to ahe regime. while the assad government blamed al qaeda, our independent reporting shows that opponents ed assad are not islamic terrorists. syria does not allow reporters to work freely, but recently cbs news correspondent clarissa ward slipped into the country and met the rebels. we can't show you their faces, they risked their lives to talk to us. >> reporter: late one night we were blindfolded and taken to meet members of the free syrian army, soldiers who have defected from syria's feared military. hey say because they refused to fire on protesters. they admit to carrying out attacks on government security forces. "our military operations are well organized," the leader told me, "but our main essential task is to protect civilians." today the free syrian army denied any connection to the bombings. the regime has called syria's pro-democracy activists
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terrorists and thugs, but in a damascus apartment, we met young men and women fueled by caffeine and cigarettes and a thirst for freedom. >> i dream about a country where >> reporter: it may sound simple, but many have paid a high price for speaking out against the regime. the u.n. estimates that at least 5,000 people have been killed during the nine-month crackdown and many more have been wounded. this man told us he was shot four times by security forces at a protest he attended in july. s has suffered from serious medical problems ever since. his mother wept. "i pray to god to relieve us of the regime," she said. driving around the capital, the regime still looms large. the driver regularly told me to d t the camera down, warning of the all-seeing eye of pro- government militants who wear no uniform, known as the shabiha.
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but just outside damascus the unrest is spreading. we were taken to a protest in the suburb of arbeen. a military checkpoint stood just 300 yards away, but the protesters kept chanting "hey, we will be victorious. hey, we fear no one but allah." we next day we attended the funeral of a 16-year-old boy who locals said had been killed by security forces at a protest the aty before. ste crowd called for international military intervention in a conflict the united nations fears is sliding into civil war. >> pelley: clarissa filed her report on syria from afghanistan today where she is on assignment. tau.s. official tells us tonight that the united states is offering to help libya buy back
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sophisticated missiles from the militias that overthrew dictator moammar qaddafi. the missiles were unguarded, and now there's worry they could fall into the wrong hands. elizabeth palmer found out just how easy those missiles are to come by. >> reporter: wherever the libyan government does get hold of a ertch of shoulder-launched anti- aircraft missiles, defense technicians systematically disable the guidance systems. but programs like this one are a drop in the bucket. 170 were destroyed here, but s ousands are believed missing. the fear is they're finding their way into the hands of smugglers. as this al qaeda training video shows, they are a weapon of choice for terrorists. we went to visit a bunker this fall outside tripoli where explosives experts did recover seven vehicle-mounted surface- to-air missiles. but they had to leave at least two behind, wedged under
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concrete at an unguarded site. everyone wants these missiles secured, but libya's government is not enthusiastic about a u.s. plan under consideration to buy them back. a libyan military source tells cbs news the government doesn't want to create a black market esr these weapons. it's just launched its own program to reintegrate the rebel fighters who toppled colonel qaddafi. turn in your weapons, these men are being told, and in return you can have a job, interest- free loans or education. a buyback program might threaten spese efforts, especially if rebels believe there's more money to be made selling deadly missiles. elizabeth palmer, cbs news, london. >> pelley: u.s. defense secretary leon panetta was in tripoli last week to see whether p e u.s. can help the new government form a professional army. britain's prince phillip was hospitalized this evening after suffering chest pains. buckingham palace says the bueen's 90-year-old husband
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underwent minor surgery to open a blocked coronary artery. he is expected to remain in the maspital for a few days. world leaders gathered in prague today for the funeral of vaclav havel, the anti-communist dissident who became the czech president. secretary of state hillary clinton led the american delegation, which included her husband. former secretary of state madeleine albright spoke in her native czech, calling havel a citizen of the world who brought light to the darkest places. winter is here, but where's all the snow? a dazzling light snow from a aewly discovered comet. and huge crowds storm the stores just to buy basketball shoes. when the "cbs evening news" continues.
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i've learned that when you ask someone in texas if they want "big" savings on car insurance, it's a bit like asking if they want a big hat... ...'scuse me... ...or a big steak... ...or big hair... i think we have our answer. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. >> pelley: most americans dreaming of a white christmas will have to go on dreaming. snowfall will be limited to just a little bit here and there, and a lot of people who make a living on snow are worried. we asked michelle miller to find out what's driving our unusual uoliday weather. >> reporter: the grand opening at the bear creek mountain ski resort was anything but grand. it was a balmy 42 degrees and just one of the 21 trails was
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open for snowboarders like haley schulz. l the conditions are really rough. there's not much snow. r: reporter: last december, nature provided 20 inches of snow here. all of this snow was man made, thanks to snow-making machines owich cost nearly $5,000 an hour. nark schroetel is the bear creek general manager. >> our groomers were out. they said that they could literally watch the snow melt as they were pushing it up the tuntain. >> reporter: much of the station he ss in a snow drought. just 29.7% of the country is blanketed by snow. last december it was 44.8%. amarillo, texas, has had more snow this season than fargo, chicago, buffalo, and green bay. but the northeast has seen the biggest climate change. meteorologist mike halpert points to the weather phenomenon called the north atlantic atcillation, a mass of air over greenland which controls wind pattern and storm tracks.
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when it's in its positive phase- - as it is now-- the jet stream is high, keeping the cold air north, preventing that air from velling south into the united thetes. only 32% of the northeast is covered by snow. last year was just the opposite. 84% of the northeast was a ofanket of snow because the north atlantic oscillation was in the negative phase. >> when it's in the positive phase, more often than not we'll have milder-than-average days. it certainly doesn't rule out some briefer periods of cold weather. >> reporter: if skiers stay away christmas week, schroetel estimates his resort could lose t2 million and his losses could deepen. forecasts indicate warmer-than- usual temperatures east of the rockies through march. michelle miller, cbs news, macungie, pennsylvania. >> pelley: we're used to seeing frantic shoppers this time of year, but not like this. hundreds surged into a mall in indianapolis.
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they pushed so hard they ripped a door off. thisof this to buy the latest pair of nike air jordan shoes, which go for $180. the hype around the shoes and their scarcity triggered mob scenes across the country. one man was stabbed in new jersey. police used pepper spray on ppoppers outside seattle. lenight, nike says it is "extremely concerned." the latest feature on some new cars? autobrakes that stop before it's soo late. that's next.
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is under way tonight. between now and january 2, a.a.a. expects nearly 92 million nearlyto be on the go. the vast majority, more than 83 million, will hit the roads. those roads are safer thanks to technology, and now a new generation of cars may save even more lives. they automatically take over for the driver to stop short of a crash. we asked mark strassmann to show us how it works. >> reporter: today's cars are ars safest ever, but on average, 90 people die in crashes day. every day. volvo's xc60 is part of the latest generation in auto safety, a car that can prevent a crash from happening at all. sa tested it on the track of the ensurance institute for highway tafety in virginia.
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adrian lund heads the institute. >> if, for some reason, you don't see traffic stopping in front of you it will bring this car to a complete stop, no crash. >> reporter: watch. i drove the volvo 15 miles per hour right at a mock car made of foam rubber, never taking my foot off the gas. you can see it pulls right here. radar in the volvo's grill scans 500 feet ahead and activates its u.v.speed auto braking system, standard on this $32,000 s.u.v. at 19 mile per hour or less, the car can stop itself from hitting another vehicle. another optional system uses a ptmera to stop the car from hitting pedestrians. that's impressive. eight car makers also have
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optional high-speed auto brake systems. even at highway speeds. in less than a second, the system can slow the car as much as ten miles per hour. the low-speed systems limit damage and injury. the high-speed systems save lives. >> when they scrub off some of that speed, that can be the difference between surviving the crash and dying in the crash. >> reporter: big difference. >> big difference. >> reporter: other safety postems already on the market include blind spot monitors and lane departure systems, which help guide a car back on course if the driver accidentally veers ato another lane. if you put all the systems in every vehicle, the insurance institute estimates they could heve as many as one-third of the 33,000 people killed in crashes every year. can you envision, if not a crash-proof car, a fatality- proof car in the not-too-distant future? >> i think we can envision a fatality-proof car. it's not to say we will actually
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get to zero deaths, but we're going to get very close to zero. >> reporter: how soon? >> i think we can be there in decanext decade. >> reporter: by that time, lund says, the automatic braking system on the volvo today will probably be standard equipment on all cars. mark strassmann, cbs news, ruckersville, virginia. >> pelley: the most remarkable picture that came into the newsroom today was of a newly discovered comet photographed from the space station. great picture! that's the earth at night below with lightning flashing in the inouds. now, look left. rising over the horizon, that's comet lovejoy, named for the amateur astronomer who discovered it. it was spotted for the first time last month. comets are made of ice and dust, their tails blown behind them by rolar radiation, and that one is a beauty. santa's got a tall order.
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>> pelley: finally tonight, the best presents don't come with price tags and they don't require batteries. steve hartman with a lesson in the holiday spirit "on the road." >> ho, ho, ho! >> reporter: when santa showed >> at tar river elementary near raleigh, north carolina, he not only brought gifts, he brought hery second grader the exact toy they'd asked for in their letters. >> did everybody get what they wantd? >> reporter: yeah, obviously. every kid, that is, but bethany arnold, who refused to ask him for a single toy. >> "dear santa, my daddy is in iraq. could you bring him home for christmas?" >> that would be the best gift of all. >> reporter: did you know you were asking for something that was kind of tough? >> yes, but... well, it's tough to go around the world in one toght.
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>> reporter: that's true. >> and i never wanted anything more than that. >> reporter: bethany's dad, wyndal arnold, is a contractor in iraq. he's been working on that country's much-needed electrical infrastructure. >> i understand that he has to stay and help people... >> reporter: she's only seen him two weeks in the last two years. >> ...but i do miss him a lot. >> reporter: last time they saw each other, while he was on leave in germany, they exchanged these keychains. s> this is his heart. >> reporter: she carries his while he holds on to hers. >> i told her, i said the next time i see you i'll give your heart back. >> reporter: unfortunately, bringing two hearts together at christmas isn't always a government priority. which is why this year bethany decided to appeal to a higher utthority, santa. she even asked him again at evhool. >> santa, for christmas, i want my dad to come home.
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>> reporter: and that's when her wish began coming true. that's when she got her heart back. and that's when this santa revealed to all of us the true meaning of christmas. >> daddy! >> reporter: there's not a toy in the workshop that ever got this kind of reaction. re you sure you don't want something else? >> just so happy you're home. >> reporter: not a bow big enough to wrap the joy. steve hartman "on the road" near raleigh, north carolina.
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no ordinary doctor. patients say he was smoking a cigar - while performing surgeries. tonight a san francisco man is in. good evening. i'm allen martin. >> i'm elizabeth cook. no ordinary doctor. patients say he was smoking a cigar while performing certainlyel surgery. tonight a san francisco man is charged with impersonating a doc -- impersonating a doctor. joe vazquez reports. reporter: he is not a doctor but he is in big trouble for acting like one. the district attorney says carlos guzman garza was running a clinic in the 2500 block of mission. while he never said he was a doctor he pretended to be working for one as a physician's assistant when he included two procedures including a liposuction on a woman who was later severely infected. >> he administered anesthesia and then while they were waiting for it to take, to start working, he


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