tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 22, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on our broadcast here tonight, before the storm. projections show a big storm aiming right for the part of the gulf that's full of oil. what does this mean for the oil well effort and the coastline? twilight zone. you are looking at nbc's kerry sanders hundreds of feet under the sea where shortly we will talk to him while he's down there about the spread of that oil. the call from president obama to the woman at the center of the firing drama. tonight, what he hopes she will do next. and making a difference. tonight, we're talking about you. what our viewers did after we aired a story about a way of life going away. also tonight, changing what
we used to think about caffeine and pregnancy. we used to think about caffeine and pregnancy. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the bad news is this. it's now tropical storm bonnie. it's spooling up, gaining power and momentum south of florida. sadly, the latest forecast models show it going in a bad direction -- right toward louisiana, all that oil in the water. and so already tonight the governor of that state has declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm. the good news? while oil cleanup workers will have to get out of there, the cap on that well will stay on unlike the last storm, and it won't mean more oil spewing into the water, or so they tell us. that story is where we begin here tonight with our own anne thompson in venice, louisiana. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this is a big vote of confidence
for the sealing cap and bp and good news for the people here in the gulf who could be in the crosshairs of this storm. boom, the gulf's symbol of defense, is hauled away this morning at mexico beach on florida's panhandle. put out to protect, it can become a danger if picked up and pushed inland in a tropical storm or worse. >> i want to make sure that the boom that is out there is there to protect and not to harm the environment. >> reporter: along the coast, what stays gets tied down and there is plenty of it. some 3.4 million feet of boom have been laid. that translates to about 650 miles, enough to stretch all the way from chicago, illinois, to little rock, arkansas. at the bottom of the gulf, the sealing cap holds back the oil as it has for the past week. now with monitoring and systems in place to respond to leaks and bubbles, the government today said bp can keep the cap closed. even if the remotely operated vehicles and their cameras have to be moved out because of
weather. >> we have made the determination that it is in the best interest to leave the well capped and we will conduct surveillance to the extent we can. but if we cannot, we are prepared to leave the well unattended during this particular event. >> reporter: the cap's success has left little oil for skimmers at the leak site to clean up. >> every day since we have had it on they dropped and yesterday we only skimmed 56 barrels. >> reporter: tonight, more gulf waters are open to fishing. after seeing no oil in the area for the last 30 days, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration re-opened some 26,000 square miles of water off florida's west coast from north of tampa to the florida keys. but off louisiana's southeast coast, the oil keeps coming. four miles from shore the crude grabs onto the sargasso grass polluting food and shelter for some of the ocean's smallest creatures. tonight, officials will decide whether or not to evacuate the
relief wells or the drilling rigs for the relief wells. if they have to do that, it could delay killing the well, brian, for 10 to 12 days. >> last thing we need. anne thompson in venice, louisiana, tonight starting us off gechblt anne, thanks. we want to get more on the story from jim cantore of the weather channel in north miami beach. jim, if we have this right, florida gets brushed and everything kind of mobile bay to the west is vulnerable to the next one, correct? >> reporter: they are, brian. one thing you have to watch out for is, a, does it redevelop further north in its infancy, and does it become a stronger storm? hurricane intensity forecasts are horrible at best. that's what we have to watch out for. we are not out of the woods with this by any stretch of the imagination. let's show it to you. all day this has tried to become bonnie. as you mentioned at the top of the show, that's exactly what it is. all the orange colors indicating huge thunderstorms in and around the center. the forecast track makes for a miserable day in florida as we go through the day on friday. but then saturday -- all day
saturday and even into saturday night, this storm will track along the south and west fringes of that oil slick. now, the big question is does it move in further north? does it become stronger? those pose more problems. but the truth of the matter is by sunday night, everything should be inland. we'll see what this thing becomes whether it's hurricane bonnie or tropical storm. either way, brian, for florida it is a brush and a hint of things to come. perhaps for what has been some great momentum in the oil efforts, it's a disruption. >> it sure is. jim cantore in florida tonight. jim, thanks. we want to let you know later in the broadcast something extraordinary from our kerry sanders. we'll show you his reporting from underwater today. he went looking for the spread of the oil in the so-called loop current. that's coming up in just a few minutes. and the white house has announced the obama family will vacation in the gulf region in florida during a weekend in mid august. the bottom has fallen out of the tourism industry, as you may know, along the coast. some places down 90% or more even though oil has not shown up
everywhere. it's believed but not confirmed that the obamas will still go on their traditional family break on martha's vineyard in massachusetts. now to the fast-moving story of the past 48 hours. shirley sherrod, the government employee who was fired, then vindicated and offered a brand new job with apologies from the white house. if you were watching "today" on nbc this morning you heard her say she would love to have a conversation with president obama. well, a few hours later, that happened. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd in our washington newsroom with the latest on this. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, the president became the latest public official to personally apologize to shirley sherrod today. in a seven-minute phone call this afternoon, the president also encouraged her to take a new agriculture department job that's been specifically designed for her. from his private study just off the oval office, the president phoned shirley sherrod to try to extinguish what's become a fire storm. >> obviously she's got a
remarkable story. he expressed his apologies for the events of the last several days. >> reporter: during their media blitz, the former agriculture department worker has been on tv in back-to-back interviews and the president struggled to get ahold of her. >> the white house operator tried on at least two occasions last night and was both unable to reach her and unable to leave a voicemail. >> reporter: this morning sherrod indicated she wanted to speak to mr. obama, not to receive an apology, but to share her experiences. >> people at the grassroots level, people who live out there in rural america, people who live in the south. i know he does not have that kind of experience. >> reporter: gibbs said the president talked with sherrod about some of the stories he recounts in his book "dreams from my father." >> i know the president believed it was a good call. >> reporter: the president encouraged her to take a job dealing with civil rights in the department of agriculture and told her to stay in touch. >> i can always get to him. you know, share whatever i need
to share and it gets directly to him. >> reporter: in a week filled with mea culpas, there was one other of note. gibbs revealed the apology tom vilsack made to the president. >> i'm sorry. i made a mistake. i acted before i had the full benefit of what had happened. >> reporter: clearly this has been a distraction to the white house this week. they hoped it would have been about the president dealing with the fragile economy and signing into law -- as he did late today -- an extension of unemployment benefits for some 2.5 million americans, brian. >> chuck todd in washington tonight. chuck, thanks. there is new trouble tonight for the former chairman of the house ways & means committee. the long-time new york democratic congressman charlie rangel has been investigated on ethics charges for the last two years. the next committee in the house found he has violated some ethics rules. there will be hearings, we learned today. while he told the media he's happy about the development, our
own luke russert asked if he feared he would lose his job and the following exchange took place. >> are you concerned about losing your job? >> what are you talking about? you're just trying to make copy. how do you think i got my job? i was elected. how do you think i'd lose it? >> there are two ways. you could lose it by your colleagues because of the ethics violations or your constituents could not decide -- >> what station are you from? >> nbc, msnbc. >> well, you're young. i guess you need to make a name for yourself. basically it's a dumb question and i'm not going to answer it. >> mr. rangel -- >> sir, sir, you did not file taxes on properties in the dominican republic. if that's true, isn't that a problem? >> it doesn't -- >> nbc asking these questions. it shows what has really happened to a channel that did
have some respect. >> congressman rangel and luke russert. hearings on the rangel matter will begin next thursday. now to phoenix, arizona, and a big legal showdown over arizona's tough new immigration law. the u.s. justice department is trying to block the new law before it goes into effect next week. today was their first day in court. our own lee cowan is in phoenix covering. lee, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. most people think the federal government does have a pretty good case here. the problem may be the timing. how do you ask a federal judge to quash a state statute even before it goes into effect? arizona today was arguing, at least give us a chance to prove ourselves first. [ chanting ] >> reporter: with just one week to go before arizona's new immigration law is scheduled to take effect, the protests outside the federal courthouse in phoenix today were louder than ever, on both sides of the debate. >> the law is black and white.
you're either breaking the law or not. >> reporter: inside, the federal government was asking a judge to block the law, arguing arizona can't establish its own immigration policy, largely, it says, because it may interfere with federal enforcement of the nation's immigration laws. >> this lawsuit is about power and the allocation of power between the federal government and the state government. >> reporter: the problem, legal scholars say, is that any projected harm from the law is largely speculative. >> it is an enormous assertion of federal power to have a judge, a federal judge overturning a state statute before it even is allowed to go into effect in the state. >> reporter: arizona's law says during an arrest or a traffic stop, police are now required to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, something the bill's sponsor says arizona has every right to do. >> they're illegal. i mean, illegal immigration is illegal. it's disgraceful that the federal government has decided
to adopt a non or near nonenforcement policy. >> reporter: he says arizona is only helping the feds enforce existing law, but the help may lead to more arrests which could clog the system with people like bobbie mays' husband. he's in the country illegally. >> i know it's wrong to be in this country illegally. make it easier for the good people to say. >> reporter: people who tonight are watching and waiting. no decision yet, brian. either way, expect an appeal and most expect this eventually will end up at the u.s. supreme court. >> all right. lee cowan in phoenix tonight. lee, thanks for that. a greyhound bus headed to sacramento from l.a. was involved in an awful accident earlier this morning. six people were killed. nine others seriously injured when the bus hit an suv that had flipped over in front of it. three of the people killed were in that suv. the cause of the crash near downtown fresno, still under investigation. when our broadcast continues
you are about to look at the waters of the gulf. we're back with a truly extraordinary look at the bp oil spill in a way we have never seen it quite before from a submarine, 88 miles west of st. petersburg, florida. that's where we find nbc's kerry sanders tonight right inside the nosecone there. kerry, good evening. >> reporter: well, brian, we're in the sub that we traveled in today. we have come back to the surface here to communicate. there is a scheduled third dive. about 200 to 300 feet below me is an area they call the twilight zone, because sunlight barely penetrates to the corals
there and photosynthesis is so delicate. add in the possibility of oil and it can be a disaster. fortunately scientists say they have found no oil, but there is no cause for celebration. i squeezed into the four-man submersible joining scientists on what is now an urgent exploration of the gulf. here, 88 miles west from st. petersburg, florida, and more than 230 miles from "deepwater horizon" the source of the capped oil gusher we dipped into the gulf waters. and immediately -- >> oh, my god, a dolphin right there. look at that. >> oh, yeah.
>> we have a bunch of dolphins right out in front of us. >> reporter: were welcomed by evidence, at least near the surface, say marine biologists, that the eco-system here is healthy. >> i've got you the same, jim, and my main ballast tank valves are shut. >> reporter: on board the submersible, in a separate rear chamber, marine biologist dr. shirley pomponi and a safety technician. >> that's beautiful. >> reporter: while up front, i joined pilot don liberatore. he's spent 44 years navigating the unknown. are you looking to find it or see whether oil exists? >> of course everybody is looking to see where the oil is or isn't. in this case, we're finding visually, anyway, as everybody's been saying -- we have seen no visual signs of the oil. >> reporter: this is day 13 of their month-long mission. we're on the edge of the so-called loop current, an undersea highway that may carry the oil and dispersants far from the source. >> 219 feet, we are collecting a sample. >> reporter: a morning dive, number 3791, in an area known as "the ledges." the goal, to gather baseline data, like scoops of sediment, corals and sponges, all samples that build snapshots of the before in case later oil shows up. if there is oil here now, they know they are collecting evidence for the federal government that later may be
challenged in court by bp. >> i think the pressure that i feel right now is to make sure we're collecting samples in a way that if we have to legally defend what we have done in the future, we will be able to do that. >> reporter: after today's mission, they are going to bring the sub out and they're going to start moving north. and the idea is to go off the panhandle of florida, brian, where it is likely when they go in they will find oil, because so much of the oil and tar balls has washed ashore on the beaches there. >> but for now, so good to see it's not yet at least in that loop current. kerry sanders in the waters of the gulf tonight. kerry, thanks for being with us. thanks for your reporting from there all day. we'll take a break here. when we come back, the rules on caffeine during pregnancy have just apparently changed.
new guidelines tonight from the nation's ob/gyns who say it's okay to drink moderate amounts of caffeine while pregnant. it won't raise the risk of a miscarriage, they say. by moderate, doctors mean about one cup of coffee a day, but even that reverses what generations of women have believed about caffeine. a lot like last night's reports on c-sections. both of them are on our website.
we are following a number of strange occurrences on beaches in this country and, for that matter, around the world this summer. in the east the problem is the giant so-called lion's mane jellyfish. on a new hampshire beach yesterday, during an attempt to remove a dead one, it rippe apart and then sent barbed tentacles into the water. 100 swimmers were stung, nine treated at a hospital. those tentacles can still live on after the jellyfish dies. these can grow up to six feet across with tentacles up to 100 feet long. they have been found in numbers from delaware to new england. in california, the problem is rays in the water. while in europe there has been an algae bloom in some places. overseas today in vietnam, secretary of state hillary clinton, there to mark the 15-year anniversary of the reconciliation with the u.s., was given a very unique wedding gift from her host for her daughter chelsea who is getting married next weekend. it's a mosaic of gemstones showing mother and daughter it's done from a photo taken during
tonight's making a difference report has to do with many of you, our viewers, who stepped up and made a difference when they saw the reports we aired about folks losing a livelihood, an entire way of life in the gulf because of all that oil. the ameripure oyster company in the tiny town of franklin, louisiana, was the subject of one of our reports. they had to shut down operations a month ago and lay off 43 workers. it's been a tough time, but the response they have received from people, including our viewers, has left them amazed. nbc's michelle kosinski has our making a difference report. >> reporter: it is a strange sort of reunion. >> good luck. please accept my gift. >> reporter: when they hardly expect it in these silent workrooms. >> you lifted a lot of oysters and they're giving you love back. >> reporter: everyone here at ameripure oysters laid off for a month now. today they are celebrating the work of the human heart from
strangers miles away. >> there you go. >> reporter: we told you their story the day they lost their job. we met latoya wilson cutting out the not so little things like her 1-year-old's birthday party. that story did something. the letters started coming. the prayers, donations. >> the enclosed check is to help you in any way you feel the need. >> reporter: for latoya, yes, it was the difference that uncanceled her baby's party. >> i couldn't believe how many people reached out, stepped up. >> putting food on the table, paying for the kids' new school supplies. >> reporter: today, owner pat fahey read a letter from a viewer in virginia. >> to that end, i want to help and make a difference. >> reporter: who sent them all of his overtime pay for the last three months, thousands of dollars. >> it just hit me that that's what i needed to do.
i didn't hesitate for a second. i just did it and i felt every moment since i did it. i honestly did. >> reporter: that means a check for everyone. brenda williams was down to her last $4. >> i almost cried. i don't want to sound like that, but i almost cried. >> reporter: and in rolled a shipment of frozen fish, a gift from one of ameripure's former suppliers. >> a bunch of us decided we needed to help people out in their time of need. >> reporter: these donations will soon become school supplies and baby shoes and tomorrow's dinner. >> the human heart is still alive and beating. >> reporter: and giving, without hesitation. michelle kosinski, nbc news, franklin, louisiana. and a final note. there are many ways to help the good folks at ameripure and elsewhere in the gulf. you can find resources for doing just that on our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com. that, for us, is our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we all hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we all hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com unimaginable to have five pit bulls. >> and it 3r506ed deadly. a being pa of pit bulls versus one toddler.little boy did not stand a chance when the three frenzied dogs, his own family's dogs, turned, attacked and mauled him to death. good evening, everyone. >> tonight
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