Tonight the top of the broadcast will focus on two stories. One domestic and one foreign -- the announcement today of big cuts in production by Ford Motor Co.; and Hezbollah handing out bags of cash to war victims in Southern Lebanon. They are stories that on the surface seem unrelated, yet are inextricably linked (see Tom Friedman's column today in The New York Times for the best explanation).
First to Detroit. Ford says it is cutting production by 21 percent or 168,000 vehicles. That puts production at its lowest level in more than 20 years. Ford has been struggling, with year-to-date sales down nearly 10 percent over last year. The Ford brass say they are not happy about the cuts but have no choice. The main reason? You probably guessed it -- high gas prices. Ford is taking a real hit on gas guzzling trucks and SUVs. Chief Financial Correspondent Anne Thompson will have all the details for us tonight.
On the flip side... high oil prices have meant plenty of extra spending money in oil-producing countries (think Iran), which may explain how Hezbollah got wads of cash to hand out to people who are trying to rebuild their homes in Southern Lebanon. As Richard Engel will tell us tonight, the Lebanese government is not providing much help and the international community isn't coming through either. Hezbollah is looking like a savior of sorts to a lot of desperate people right now... and hardly like the big "loser" in this conflict. U.S. and Israeli officials are voicing concerns, and privately many fear the group has strengthened its hand.
There are also new developments in the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. A better portrait of the suspect is emerging, but there were also new questions raised today about whether he could have committed the crime. We'll wrap up all the latest details. Plus a special report tonight from Dateline's Stone Phillips. He has a rare interview with the COO of McDonald's. He talks about the high profile lawsuit against the fast food chain in which the plaintiffs have blamed McDonald's for their obesity. This is a preview of Stone's report airing on Dateline NBC tonight. See you in a bit.