tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 2, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, in for the kill. bp prepares to try again. will this finally be the final fix for the oil disaster? keeping a promise. president obama says the u.s. will leave iraq on schedule. meantime, he's got other challenges where domestic politics are concerned. seeing the future. reconnecting with a young girl we first met in afghanistan, and how the world looks to her these days. and sing along. before there was karaoke or even "american idol" there was mitch miller. tonight, we remember the man who started it all. tonight, we remember the man who started it all. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. we have been through this before. every time it's been given a catchy name like top hat or top kill. and all previous attempts to kill this oil well in the gulf have failed. the cap on it now is temporary, but this next mission is designed to plug it and kill it, even before those relief wells bore all the way through. and while it would only be good news to stop it for good, the folks in the gulf want everybody to remember that water is still full of oil. we begin tonight, again, with nbc's anne thompson in venice, louisiana. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this well has one more test to pass -- an injection test. crews are going to try to see if they can force the oil back down through the well pipe and into the reservoir.
and if the answer is "yes," then static kill should begin tomorrow. at the leak site, preparations are under way to kill the macondo well. the rig that once burned off the oil tomorrow will try to force it deep under the sea floor. >> that's the q-4000. so they will deliver the lethal injection, if you will, the static kill. it's heavy mud that will be pumped down into the "deepwater horizon" well casing. >> reporter: once again, the pressure inside the well is crucial. >> what you want is the pressure to slowly decrease until it becomes zero in the well. that means the amount of mud is equal to the pressure being pushed up, but if it stops somewhere short of that, that means we may have a problem with the integrity of the casing of the wellbore. >> reporter: and that would mean big trouble again for the gulf. although there is almost no oil visible on the surface, out here at the leak site, no one is resting easy until that relief well is finished. >> so they have been trying to pick up all these small tar balls in here. >> reporter: over the weekend, touring oil-stained plaquemines
parish, bp's doug suttles defended the unprecedented amount of dispersant used to break up the oil. >> the epa and others asked us to do everything we could to minimize the volumes. we worked closely with them to do it, and the volumes did go down. >> reporter: today the epa released a study showing dispersants mixed with louisiana crude so far are no more toxic than the oil itself, oil that has traumatized much of this region's economy and much of its wildlife. >> i have not seen any evidence, any data that has shown wildlife sickened or killed because of dispersants. >> reporter: short-term good news, but the long-term impacts, like so much in this crisis, are still unknown. now, just a few minutes ago, the federal government released the latest flow rate estimate and it says that when this spill happened way back on april 20th, the well started leaking at a rate of 62,000 barrels of oil a day. by the time the well was capped
on july 15th, it was down to 53,000 barrels a day. and, brian, overall, that means 4.9 million barrels of oil flowed into the gulf. brian? >> continues to be an unbelievable disaster. anne thompson in venice, louisiana, tonight. we'll stay on it. president obama spent part of this day speaking to a conference of the disabled american veterans about his plan to end the u.s. combat mission in iraq. the plan, he says, is on track, even as his approval numbers on the wars there and in afghanistan has taken a hit. this is happening with congressional elections coming up fast. we get the story tonight from our chief white house correspondent chuck todd. >> reporter: focusing on november today, an animated president obama urged supporters at an atlanta fund-raiser to ignore republican efforts to make this election about him. >> they don't have a single idea that's different from george bush's ideas, not one.
they're bidding on amnesia. [ laughter ] >> that's what they're counting on. they're counting on that you all forgot. >> reporter: the president began the day addressing the annual convention of the disabled american veterans where he touted his planned drawdown of troops in iraq. >> as a candidate for president, i pledged to bring the war in iraq to a responsible end. and that is exactly what we are doing, as promised and on schedule. >> reporter: the speeches begin a two-week stretch where the president will either campaign or raise money in at least eight states, from florida to california. but not every democrat wants to be seen with the president. here in georgia, democratic nominee for governor roy barnes claimed scheduling conflicts and managed to avoid being photographed with his party's leader. >> this happens when presidents have become controversial, polarizing. their numbers dip and candidates want to keep a little bit of distance. >> reporter: further complicating the democratic party's efforts to stay in power
are high profile ethics cases against two long-time democratic house members. charlie rangel of new york and maxine waters of california. waters was charged today by congressional colleagues for improper use of her office to aid her husband's bank during the financial crisis. she and rangel deny wrongdoing and have set the course for public trial in the fall. >> if mr. rangel feels that the party -- or more importantly that the country and the institution are being hurt, i think he'll do the right thing and work out some kind of an agreement. i feel the same thing about maxine. >> reporter: the president stopped short of saying "mission accomplished" in his description of the iraq drawdown and emphasized that he thinks the critical fight is in afghanistan. >> if afghanistan were to be engulfed by an even wider insurgency, al qaeda and its terrorist affiliates would have even more space to plan their next attack. >> reporter: the president is already back from atlanta. he hits the road again wednesday
for chicago where he's going to celebrate his 49th birthday but also use the occasion to do some fund-raising, brian. let the campaign season begin. >> chuck todd at the white house tonight. chuck, thanks. our nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel is back in iraq tonight, a place where he spent much of the last eight years. he's with us from baghdad for a closer look at the fragile state of things, again, after seven or so years of war. richard, i talked to you today and you had the rare distinction of hearing the president's speech from baghdad. what is the state of life there these days? >> reporter: many people here don't share the same kind of optimism that was expressed not only by the president but by analysts across the united states today. life in baghdad right now is very difficult. this is not what you could consider a normal or a stable city. just coming in from the airport this morning and driving to our bureau, it's about a 12-mile
journey along a short stretch of road. we had to pass through six different checkpoints. there is a curfew in place tonight, as there is every single night. that gives you an idea of how much stability there is here -- not very much at all. also, iraqis only have about three hours of power every single day. they had 24 hours of power here in baghdad under saddam hussein. while the united states may want to close the door on the conflict, many iraqis aren't able to turn on the lights in their own homes. many couldn't even watch the speech today because they didn't have power. >> richard engel, our veteran of that conflict, back in baghdad for us tonight. richard, thank you for your reporting. weather is making news tonight all over the world. in pakistan, the death toll continues to climb from the worst flooding ever seen in that nation.
more than 1,200 people have now been reported killed in epic flooding and more than a million have been forced to leave their homes. in russia, a state of emergency has been declared due to wildfires fuelled by record heat and drought. the fires are blamed for 40 deaths and the destruction of more than 1,000 homes there. dramatic video shows how close four young russians came to being counted as victims of the fires. they found themselves surrounded by flames while trying to escape a blazing village. back in this country, parts of the nation are in for more severe heat. the south is suffering from triple digit heat with temperatures more than a dozen degrees higher than normal in areas. in gulf shores, alabama, the heat index hit 125, while water temperatures in the gulf are hovering around 90 these days raising concerns about a new tropical depression moving ever so slowly across the atlantic, tropical depression 4 is
expected to strengthen into tropical storm colin which could mean trouble if it makes it into the gulf. luckily, current projections keep the storm in the western atlantic. but we'll keep an eye on it. when the "deepwater horizon" drilling rig blew up three and a half months ago now, 11 crewmen were killed. for some of their families grief has been compounded by a battle over whether they are being fairly compensated, simply because the men did their work at sea. our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers has our report. >> reporter: since their husbands were killed aboard the "deepwater horizon," shelly anderson and courtney kemp have come to washington five times to plead with politicians. >> and help us pass this bill. thank you. >> reporter: to change an archaic law that severely limits what families can recover from bp and other countries. because the workers died on the water on an off-shore rig a 90-year-old maritime law says
families are only entitled to lost future wages minus taxes minus the worker's personal expenses. that's far less than families could otherwise receive. >> i don't think that it's fair. it's saying that jason is not worth what somebody else would be worth if they had died in the air or if they had died on land. >> reporter: house speaker nancy pelosi promised the families she'd help and the house quickly passed a bill to change the law retroactively. >> the bill is passed. >> reporter: but that's now stuck in the senate, tangled in a long standing battle between trial lawyers, who want to broaden potential litigation at sea, and maritime interests like cruise ship operators, which oppose changes beyond what's needed for "deepwater horizon" families. another hurdle, the family's bill was bundled into a politically charged and largely unrelated energy package. politics as usual for washington, but wrenching to these women. >> heart-crushing.
it feels heart-crushing to be -- to just come to a halt and to feel like nobody wants us to move forward. >> we don't care if you're a democrat. we don't care if you're a republican. we need you to do the right thing and to help us get justice for our husbands. >> reporter: their message to the senate -- please stop the politics and just vote. lisa myers, nbc news, houston. on wall street today here in new york, investors started the week and the month on an up note. the dow gained more than 208 points on the day's trading. when our broadcast continues here on a monday night, a young girl we met in afghanistan. she stayed with us long afterward and now we learned she's staying with an american family this summer. we'll reconnect. and later, saying good-bye to the man who, for years, had america singing along.
the i-280 bridge over the mississippi river in rock island, illinois, has a new name. this weekend it was dedicated in the name of john baker, a medal of honor recipient from the vietnam war. baker was able to be there for the honor. he's one of 88 living recipients of the medal of honor. during our last trip to afghanistan, as we mentioned earlier, we visited an orphanage. it's heroically run by a woman named andeisha farid. it houses children of the war in a healthy, very happy
environment. our visit has stayed with us ever since, along with every child we met there. we were surprised to learn that one of them, a girl named shagofa was here in the u.s. this summer. she had been a special part to our trip to afghanistan because of the memorable way we met. >> oh, you want me to put on your glasses and you're going to put on my glasses? >> reporter: it was a truly wonderful, genuine moment from our last trip to afghanistan. >> you look good in my glasses actually. i'm not sure i look so great in yours. >> reporter: shagofa was a young girl we met in a kabul orphanage just about a year ago. well, she's here in the u.s. this summer with a group of afghan girls spending six weeks in southern california. sponsored by the group solace for the children, each girl is here for medical care. shagofa for her eyes, lita to get cavities fixed and surgery to save a leg, infected from a
mortar attack. >> we take them to doctors' appointments. doctors donate time pro bono to see them. it's all about promoting peace between our country and afghanistan. >> reporter: even from a distance via skype, shagofa's charm comes right through the screen. hey, look what i brought. remember these? remember how silly i looked in my glasses and then i wore your glasses and i looked even sillier. [ girls giggling ] >> how are your eyes? good? >> yeah. >> good. >> reporter: nancy and matt, her host parents in the u.s., take comfort knowing she'll go back to a nurturing place to live, but it will be hard to let go. >> when we heard she was coming to the orphanage after she came here, we were a little bit nervous wondering how we were going to send her back. once we saw the footage from what "nightly news" had shown it seems like a loving and great
environment. we're happy for her. >> reporter: until that time when she has to return, the family's making sure she enjoys a typical california summer, at the beach and on the water and that rite of passage for so many american kids -- disneyland. >> for us, she's going back with a better picture of america, a better picture of the world. >> reporter: the girls and shagofa will return soon, healthy, happy and changed by what they have seen in the u.s. changed as well by the generosity of their american hosts who have been changed themselves. she's a special friend of ours. just a note here, while afghanistan doesn't allow foreign adoptions and, goodness knows, a lot of you have expressed an interest, there are ways you can help nonetheless. you can see our original report from the orphanage and get more on the agency by logging onto our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com. when we come back here tonight, the wedding everybody was waiting for and now the millions
one of the great names in news, "newsweek" magazine, has been sold. it has been owned all these years by the washington post. they sold to 91-year-old sydney harman of harman stereo fame who's the husband of democratic congresswoman jane harman. "newsweek" lost $44 million in recent years. "newsweek"'s editor jon meacham is leaving. he's a pulitzer-prize winning historian and author. when nba superstar lebron james decided to sign with the miami heat it was seen as a huge plus for the local economy, you will recall. that may be true, but for those whose job it was to sell the team's season tickets, it's turned into a ticket to the unemployment line. the miami heat fired their 3 30-person sales staff because season tickets sold out so fast
there was nothing left for them to do. there were millions of people on the internet this weekend searching for photos and information on the wedding of chelsea clinton and marc mezvinsky. the proud father-of-the-bride walking down the aisle, the former president -- who, by the way, lost 20 pounds for the occasion. there was the bride herself in a vera wang gown at the interfaith ceremony and a family portrait on the banks of the hudson river in late afternoon. the couple said to be planning a honeymoon of more than two weeks. the location, as secret as the wedding location had been. when "nightly news" continues this monday night, the tv show that was once pretty much mandatory in a lot of american homes.
finally tonight, a lot of baby boomers in this country will remember the tv show as almost required viewing. the family was seated and everybody watched the nbc show "sing along with mitch" where they were told to follow the bouncing ball to keep up with the lyrics on the screen. it was corny when it was in its prime, but americans seemed to love mitch miller. he was an accomplished record
producer who launched a lot of talent in his time. he was born on the 4th of july and he died this past weekend at age 99. nbc's george lewis has our look back. >> reporter: long before there was karaoke, there was this -- >> please, don't just sit there. come on and sing. ♪ i've got two ♪ eyes of blue ♪ >> reporter: mitch miller was the sing along guy. for five years in the early '60s on nbc where he even got johnny carson to sing along, and on 17 record albums that sold in the millions. >> they are songs people knew. it didn't look slick. i don't know what else to say. there was something infectious and pleasing and enjoyable about it. >> reporter: when miller himself was asked to describe his career, he had this to say -- >> you don't realize that you're making history. it's only when you look back. >> hello, mitch. >> hello, george.
>> reporter: mitch miller's real legacy may be the artists he discovered and nurtured at columbia records. artists like rosemary clooney and tony bennett. today bennett released this statement. "mitch miller was a great friend and a magnificent musician and he put me on the map." >> open the windows and let the neighbors hear you loud and clear. >> reporter: miller, who hated rock and roll calling it musical baby food, passed up the opportunity to sign early rock icon buddy holly and another buy -- guy named elvis. >> his tastes were definitely established. he was a man of strong opinions. not always in harmony with the times. ♪ oh, the times ♪ they are a-changing >> reporter: and those times were a-changing. mitch miller added a young bob dylan to columbia's line-up of artists. in an era when the boomers were grooving to the beatles, mitch miller was selling millions of records to their parents and
leaving a lasting impact on the recording industry. george lewis, nbc news, los angeles. and that's our broadcast for this monday night. thank you as always 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 we begin with breaking news tonight. i'm lisa kim. >> i'm tom sinkovits. moments ago a judge ruled in favor of the ac transit bus drivers union in a months long labor dispute. the judge decided the contract that ac transit imposed on its drivers is not valid. that contract increased health insurance costs for workers and created new work rules to try to make up for a $56 million deficit. bus drivers have