tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC May 21, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight on "world news," pilot meltdown. authorities stop a depressed, suicidal pilot, scheduled to fly a plane. raising questions about thousands of pilots now carrying guns. text book showdown. texas debates changing history books. more religion, more conservative thought. will the nation follow? oil spill behemoth. we investigate all the surprising ways bp is behind its own investigation. tea party hot water. brand new star rand paul raises even more controversy today. and, amazon warrior. children everywhere raises money to keep a hero walking. why? our "person of the week." and good evening.
breaking news out of texas tonight, and one of the most closely watched stories by teachers, parents and politicians across the nation. the texas state board of education today made a decision that will make history. by rewriting the books on it for nearly 5 million texas school children. but texas is such a force in the purchase of text books. where texas goes, the nation usually follows. here's dan harris on the big controversy and the big vote tonight. >> reporter: the texas state board of education opened its meeting this morning with a prayer describing america like this. >> a christian land, governed by christian principles. >> reporter: and the members went on to pass a new curriculum with a controversy that goes well beyond religion. for example, the new standards require that text books mention pillars of the conservative movement, like the moral majority the national rifle association, and the contract with america -- >> god bless america. >> reporter: with no liberal counter balance.
and, they insist that the words of jefferson davis, president of the confederacy during the civil war, be considered alongside those of abraham lincoln. what do you say to people who say you are imposing your political and religious views on school children? >> we're a political body. we have to make those decisions. >> reporter: one of the leaders in all of this is don mcleroy, a suburban den test and self-described christian fundamentalist. if the founding fathers wanted this a christian nation, why is there no mention of jesus in the constitution? >> they wanted it to be a secular state. however, we can still refer to it as a christian nation. >> reporter: here are some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to have. have the president called by his full name, barack hussein obama, which some called an attempt to raise questions about his faith. and even rename the slave trade as the atlantic triangular trade.
>> so dan, now the decision's been made, how many years will these rules govern? >> reporter: for a long time, a decade. don mcleroy, he was recently voted out of office. but he gets to keep his office until the end of the year so his work is going to have a lasting impact. >> for this year that he got to vote. thank you, dan harris. and we really want to know what you think about this. is texas going too far? do you agree with it? weigh in at abcnews.com. and we turn next to a strange story which unfolded throughout the day. it raises a new question about the decision to let airline pilots take guns on planes. the plan, you may remember, was implemented after 9/11, for security in the cockpit. authorities stopped a pilot at logan airport with a gun, and threatening to harm himself in a, quote, spectacular way. here's lisa stark. >> reporter: the jet blue pilot was in the airlines crew lounge
waiting for his flight when law enforcement authorities approached him. the pilot was apparently distressed over a breakdown with his girlfriend. >> the person was so distraught, he was threatening to harm himself in a spectacular fashion. >> reporter: he was carrying a gun. forces say he is a federal flight deck officer, trained and allowed to carry a firearm into the cockpit. the flight attendant sounded an alarm after receiving the pilot's message. >> this is tough to do, but a high level of duty and responsibility, and that should be a comforting thing. >> reporter: the move to arm commercial pilots began after 9/11. it's believed about 10,000 pilots are in the program. they must pass psychological screening before being accepted as federal flight deck officers. >> some people seem to be really concerned here that this was a federal flight deck officer and had a gun. but he's already in the cockpit and control of the airplane, so having a gun is completely
inconsequential. >> reporter: so far, pilots have never had to use their guns. in 2008, an armed pilot accidently shot a hole in his jet while on approach for landing. the plane landed safely. there were early reports that the depressed jet blue pilot threatened to take down a plane. in a statement, the airline insisted reports that a jet blue pilot threatened to crash a plane are unsubstantiated. and aviation sources agree that this pilot did not threaten to take down a jetliner. and the pilot did agree to seek medical help. >> you mention there's screening to become a pilot. is there followup screening? >> reporter: all commercial pilots are screened at least once a year by faa-approved doctors. they get medical checkups and at that time there is some informal psychological screening, as well. >> lisa stark in washington. and we move on now to day 32 of the oil spill in the gulf. authorities closed a popular public beach in louisiana today
as thick globs of oil spread on it like melted chocolate on the sand. meanwhile, bp has said it is not capturing as much oil from that one pipe as it thought. not the 5,000 gallons, but about after that. and on tuesday, the company try a plan to seal the well entirely, another plan, pumping mud and concrete into the leaking equipment. and today, matt gutman has been investigating another question. how much control does bp have over the investigation? matt? >> reporter: and tonight, diane, we also learned that the epa is weighing a ban against bp, against all offshore and any drilling on federal land, and that including the gulf of mexico. seen from space, the tent kms of bp's oil spill coil around the gulf coast. here on the ground, almost everything seems to be in the company's grip. with an army of 20,000 employees working on the response, some are questioning if bp is exerting too much influence on everything, including the
information flowing out of the gulf. the labs being used to test everything from water to wild life are paid for by bp. something met with resistance from scientists. >> the federal agencies that have been tasked with protecting the environment have sent their duties to bp. >> reporter: bp has powerful influence all over this operation. >> bp still has control over where that information goes, what information is gathered. that sort of thing. it needs to be completely independent. >> reporter: the world's fourth largest company shelled out $20 million on washington lobbying in 2009, and has some big political guns. former white house majority leader tom daschle and former epa director christine whitman. less than a year ago, a former bp exec was appointed to head a division of the minerals management service, meant to police oil drilling.
>> the oil and gas industry has had an extraordinary power over particularly the department of interior. but the government in general, and you've seen it across agencies and in the congress and now we're seeing the impact of that. >> reporter: bp controls the cleanup and taken the lead in deploying skimmers, methods to cap the well, and until today had sole discretion of dumping dispersants on the oil. why did they choose that chemical? >> we're following through unified command of what dispersants are believed to be the best to use. >> reporter: and the company has effective veto power on the information released about the spill until congress strongarmed it to release this live video. and it should be mentioned, and bp has said all along, that every decision it has made was in collaboration with the u.s. government and other federal authorities, diane. >> and thank you, matt. and we will move on now to the man who is the toast of the tea party, and politics. he's in more hot water tonight. rand paul, who won the
republican senate nomination in kentucky, scrambling to explain his comments about civil rights, today, created a new barrage of headlines, and here's jon karl. >> reporter: once again, rand paul showed the world today he is an unconventional politician. this time, the issue was bp and the gulf oil disaster. >> what i don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, you know, i'll put my boot heel on the throat of bp. i think that sounds really un-american in his criticism of business. >> reporter: virtually everybody else in politics is condemning bp, but paul suggested it's time to cut the company some slack. >> i think it's part of this blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be somebody's fault, instead of the fact that accidents happen. >> reporter: paul is a candidate of the tea party movement, but almost immediately after his victory in the kentucky gop primary, he's been mired in controversy over his criticism of the 1964 civil rights act. today, rush limbaugh said paul
has been unfairly attacked. >> believe me, this is an attempt to tar and feather the entire tea party movement. >> reporter: michael graham says paul has played right into the hands of tea party critics. >> unfortunately, he gave people who want to tell that story more ammunition with which to tell that story though it's unfair to him because he clearly didn't say anything racist. >> reporter: republican leaders have urged paul to be more careful with his words. he's now backed off his criticism of the civil rights act and just canceled a national television appearance scheduled for this weekend. jonathan karl, abc news, capitol hill. and more on politics. after american taxpayers, suffering so much from the high risk behavior of the banks, as we said last night, a new bill has been designed to police the banks. it's heading towards the president. it's being touted as the most extensive challenge since the great depression, and we asked david muir for a fact check
tonight. who won? the consumers or the banks? >> reporter: diane, chalk one up for the tax payers tonight. no bill is ever perfect, but this will go a long way toward preventing the quote, abuse, that brought our economy to its knees. they're calling it a financial overhaul. but just how far does it go to help the taxpayer? we all remember lehman brothers collapse and aig, and tax payers came to the rescue. so, the first thing we wanted to know, will those wall street banks no longer be too big to fail? >> i've got to say, no, because we're still going to have large institutions. >> reporter: the legislation does nothing to make those banks any smaller. but what those large banks will have to do is simply have more money on hand, in case they do run into trouble. >> more protection against losses. >> reporter: more of a buffer? >> more of a buffer. >> reporter: and we wondered, what about the consumer in all of this? the legislation called for a new independent agency, whose sole
focus will be make sure the consumer is not being taken advantage of. >> are consumers and being tricked or cheats, and the agency takes action. >> reporter: against credit card economies, protecting the home buyer from risky mortgages. and lastly, what about those risky bets? those derivatives we heard so much about that helped bring down the economy? will those risky deals be prevented? >> no, it's not going to eliminate them. but it will make it much harder. >> reporter: harder, because those bets will now have to be made on some sort of public exchange. the same way every day americans have to invest, out in the open, in the stock market. >> it's going to bring a lot more sunshine, a lot more daylight to the derivative. >> so david, you mentioned those credit card fees. what about the ban on atm fees, which was another provision at one point. >> reporter: you mentioned that. the amendment, supposed to make ath fees 50 cents. they turned it down. made a lot of talk this week because one of the senators, ben
nelson, was asked about this and his response to the newspaper was that he never used an atm before so he didn't know what one of the atm fees were, the ones that are listed on our receipts. >> wish we could poll, find out how have used atm machines. david muir reporting tonight. and on wall street, by the way, stocks rebounded, gaining back a third of what they lost yesterday. for the week, the dow down more than 400 points. and ahead on "world news," why is congress spending billions of dollars for military equipment the pentagon says it doesn't even want? brian ross, watching out for your money. and deep in the danger zone, a bold adventurer with a message for the world. our "person of the week." hey what'sng on? doing the shipping. man, it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to weigh 'em aoi. 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
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engine that the military says it doesn't want. can the waste be stopped? or is this a kind of congressional craziness? brian ross, as we said, watching out for your money. >> reporter: it's called the joint strike fighter, the f-35, build by lockheed, powered by pratt and whitney engines. the u.s. war plane of the future. but now, even though the military is perfectly happy with the engines it has, some in congress want another company to keep building a second engine, a pork barrel project the military seeps as a $3 billion boondoggle. >> we have recommended for several years now against funding this engine, considering it a waste of money. >> reporter: but that has not stopped congress. just this week, the house armed services committee voted to put more money in the budget for the second engine. >> mr. smith votes aye. are you saying congress knows better than the military? >> i'll tell you this money.
d.o.d. has been wrong about many programs. >> reporter: the alternative engine would be built by general electric, which lost out in the initial competition and since mounted a million-million dollar lobbying campaign to get a piece of the f-35 action. >> this is a $100 billion business over the next 30-plus years and we plan capturing half of that. >> reporter: as part of its lobbying effort, ge hired three former senators. the company promised new jobs in eight states, including michigan. home state for the chairman of the senate armed services committee, carl levin, who fay vorps the extra ge engine. >> we are taking money we could use for capabilities that we really need and spending it on something we don't need. >> reporter: ge and its supporters in congress say a second engine would create co competition and result in long-term savings. >> only in washington does a proposal where everybody wins
get considered a competition. >> reporter: secretary gates says he will strongly recommend that president obama veto the entire defense spending bill if congress continues to insist on building this unwanted second engine. and diane, it looks like that's what it might take to stop congress. >> bold stand by secretary gates. brian ross reporting tonight. and coming up, some of the day's top stories, including a big birthday for an icon chomping away after all these years. ♪ so sensory ♪ so satisfying ♪ the discovery ♪ never seems to stop ♪ ♪ it's the magic friskies ♪ ♪ makes happen ♪ every day ♪ in so many ways ♪ friskies ♪ feed the senses
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for the 20 million americans taking statins to lower their cholesterol, tonight, new information to consider. a british study finds patients on statins do have a higher risk of liver problems, kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts. researchers say benefits usually outweigh the side effects but emphasize that users must monitor side effects with doctors. the giant star of u2, bono, just had emergency back surgery at a hospital in germany. bono who just celebrated his 50th birthday, was injured while rehearsing in munich. and, since this is friday, we're going to check back on some of the stories in the news this week. do you remember the little girl who told michelle obama that her
mother doesn't have papers? she was so worried. well, immigration officials say the little girl can rest easy. quote, our investigations are based on solid law enforcement work and not classroom q and as. and it was 1980 all over again today. maybe you got in on the action. you could hear that sound in offices everywhere. pacman, the 30th anniversary of the classic, and google created a miniature version in its logo. all the munches and mazes and bleeps that obsessed us years ago. and coming up next, our ago. and coming up next, our "person of the week." ♪ travelin♪ ♪ what we'll see will defy ♪ explanation [ male announcer ] remember when you were five and anything was possible. ♪ happy 5th birthday again. ♪ come with me and you'll be
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and finally tonight, our "person of the week." on the adventure of a lifetime, a 4,000-mile journey, which almost collapsed until school children rallied for their wilderness hero. who is he? bill weir has the story. >> reporter: with every machete whack, every soggy step, ed stafford gets closer to history's elite. sure the great ones relied on
the stars, while ed has google earth. but even in 2010, the amazon is still a steaming, stinging -- >> ow. >> reporter: slithering test of will. >> it's great fun for two days. for two years, it's ridiculous. >> reporter: that's right. two years. he thought it would onto take one. back in those giddy days at the rier's source. >> everybody is waving enthusiastically, saying adios los locos. good-bye stupid people. >> reporter: a friendly peruvian offered to join him, and never left. together, they have survived foot rot and dysentery, cocaine smugglers and hostile tribes. >> half of them are bows and arrows drawn, half of them with shotguns and all the women had ma sheet deeps and they were absolutely livid. they were furious. >> reporter: since danger brings
adrenaline, it is the clothes that never dry, mos key taupes that never quit -- >> ow, ow! >> reporter: the jungle that never quiets. right over there -- that's where the jaguars live. >> as much as i wanted at times to be at home i've never actually wanted to quit. >> reporter: he stays sane by blogging to school children around the world. >> people here do understand how precious the rain forest is, but there's no doubt that it's still going on and still going on at a rate that isn't yet sustainable. >> reporter: are you thinking about the next great adventure after this one? >> i am. the feedback from teachers is so positive that i think that there's a need for education through expeditions, and i think it's a lovely way to make a subject interesting. >> reporter: but first, there's the little business of finishing this one. how many miles to go? >> 700. >> reporter: best of luck, man.
>> cheers, bill. take care. >> reporter: good luck. see you on the other side. >> and so we choose ed stafford. he's so sure he'll finish by august, he's already bought his ticket home. and that's "world news" for this friday. david muir will be here tomorrow night. jake tapper on sunday morning, and we hope to see you right back here on monday. have a great spring weekend. we'll see you then. good night.