tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 3, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, will it work? the final kill is underway on the leaky oil well in the gulf. and kids talk about the impact this disaster has had on them. out of nowhere, an employee's deadly rampage at work. what made him snap. heat wave, millions sweltering and for six teenagers trying to cool off, a tragic end. startling new proof tonight that america is losing the battle against weight. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening everyone, i'm lester holt in for brian williams. we begin with a developing story from the gulf of mexico where just a few hours ago, the process to kill the oil well got underway. it seems hard to believe that after 105 days billions of barrels of oil leaked into the sea and engineers are counting on mud to do the trick. anne thompson joins us from louisiana with late details, anne. >> reporter: the news fishermen here in the marina wanted to hear came late this afternoon, the static kill is underway, and it could take two and a half days to complete. it's been a 106-day journey from explosion to death to disaster. the three-month assault of oil in the gulf destroying wildlife and livelihood. bp attempted many different solutions. >> trouble in the gulf as the
latest attempt to stop the oil leak fails. >> reporter: a frustrating, strange string of names. >> for days, crews have been pumping heavy fluids into the leaking well in an operation called top kill. >> reporter: outlandish devices like this four-story containment dome that never worked. tonight, perhaps static kill is the beginning of the end. here's how the static kill works. from the q-4000 on the surface, crews pumped drilling mud a mile down to the gulf floor. the mud travels up the manifold, up the chokehold and down into the pipe. it should force the crude back down into its reservoir. retired general thad allen says static kill is the ultimate diagnostic test. >> we all need to understand that the quicker we can get this done, the quicker we can reduce risk of any type of internal
failure we're not aware of right now. >> reporter: allen is emphatic static kill is not the final step to prevent oil from coming out of that drill pipe and the large pipe that surrounds it. that will only happen with the relief well, when a cement plug is put into the bottom of that well, and bp says that procedure should resume on thursday. lester? >> anne, i know they have shied away from exact timetables here, assuming all goes well with this first part, how long to completely seal it off? >> reporter: to completely kill the well, they hope to have that done by the middle of august. that timetable is still on track, lester. >> anne thompson tonight, thank you. a bit later in the broadcast, the youngest victims of the bp oil spill, the kids of the gulf open up about the deep impact it's having on them. earlier this morning outside a connecticut town outside hartford, a driver for a beer distributorship opened fire on his co-workers.
when the shooting ended, nine people were dead. now everyone in the community including the gunman's family is trying to figure out what happened. peter alexander joins us now from manchester, connecticut. peter? >> reporter: lester, good evening to you. that staggering death toll stands at nine this evening, including the shooter, and at least two people are still recovering from their injuries. police are keeping reporters away from the crime scene. for this small connecticut community, the news was shocking. >> we've had a tragedy in the state this morning. >> reporter: the shooting happened just after 7:00 this morning, a family-owned beer and wine manufacturer. 34-year-old omar thornton had just finished a disciplinary hearing with company management. >> at the conclusion of that interview, he was given an option to either resign or be terminated. he was being escorted from the building when the shots rang out. >> reporter: he saved the last
shot from his handgun for himself. a teamsters official described thornton as a recent hire. >> it couldn't have happened at a worse time of day, have you the third shift going off, the first shift coming on, the office staff there, the sales staff there. it couldn't happen at a worse time. >> reporter: joanna claims her daughter dated thornton for eight years. >> not much i know about him, he was a down to earth, very nice guy, hard worker. >> reporter: fellow employees were also stunned. >> i'm trying not to cry. it's shocking especially omar, i mean, he just went -- i didn't know there was a problem. >> reporter: among the victims, victor james, a grandfather of four who would have turned 60 this month, and was planning to retire after 30 years as a driver. >> everyone at hartford distributors is devastated by this morning's tragic and senseless act. right now our focus is on the families. >> reporter: clearly omar thornton was a troubled man, but
lester, tonight police are just trying to figure out exactly what it was that set him off. >> peter, thank you. turning now to some extreme weather, and it's been a very hot summer across much of this country. but in the words of one meteorologist today, the heat index, what it feels like is getting pretty outrageous. that combo of temperature and humidity can make it seem much hotter than the number on the thermometer. it could hit 113 degrees in some places. now, this searing heat turned to tragedy for some teenagers in louisiana. ron mott joins me now from new orleans. ron? >> reporter: lester, good evening to you. the high here in new orleans got into the 90s, but could have been much worse if not for the cloud cover we saw most of the day. elsewhere around this state, sadly, a worse possible scenario. >> the river's a dangerous place. >> reporter: the pictures of shock and grief clearly display the pain. six teens ages 13 to 18 drowned
in the red river trying to get a break from the heat. >> in addition to the children not being able to swim, they themselves could not swim and so you can imagine watching your child drown and not being able to do anything. >> reporter: it was another day of sweltering temperatures across the midwest and south. >> there's no keeping cool. it's hot. >> reporter: road crews laying asphalt in dallas. >> it's just hot out here. >> reporter: nfl players hitting each other at training camp in atlanta. in memphis, at least nine have died, including a 66-year-old man cutting his grass. temperatures climbed again to triple digits in places like wichita and memphis and little rock. it reached a stifling 118 in jackson, mississippi. >> we are still baking in the south and lower midwest, and we only have limited relief on the
way for the northern locations by the end of the week. >> reporter: back in louisiana, where streets have buckled, cooling centers have opened to offer residents a break, and farmers throughout the region are watching the skies for rain and relief. they're especially looking for relief in the state of kansas where formers report some 2,000 to 3,000 cattle have perished in this relentless heat and humidity. >> lester? >> ron mott in new orleans, thank you. overseas tonight, there are fears there are simply not enough firefighters to get control of the many wildfires sweeping across western russia. some 250 of them now across 300,000 acres. so far these fires have killed 40 people and destroyed 2,000 homes. from fire to water, and the devastating floods in pakistan, where some 1,400 have died, and the u.n. says millions more are in harm's way. martin fletcher reports on this crisis that right now seems to have no end in sight. >> reporter: it's monsoon misery, the worst floods in a
century, unrelenting rain, devastating large areas of an already fragile pakistan. fighting insurgents on the afghan border, now fighting for every life, including the most fragile. entire regions and villages submerged, dozens of roads and bridges washed away. at least 1,400 dead so far. the u.n. says 3 million affected. 1.8 million in desperate need of clean water, food and shelter, and it's getting worse. floodwaters surging into the farm fields, ruining crops, threatening hunger. major rivers on the edge of breaking their banks, extending the floods south. and with an unknown number of dead cattle and rotting carcasses, the next great fear, cholera. >> my worst fear is that there will be an outbreak of epidemic and diseases. >> reporter: with victims angry
at the government for slow response, bands of islamic militant aide groups are stepping in. this humanitarian tragedy is just beginning. here thousands of refugees are trying to escape from a dam threatened by swollen waters that could break at any moment. but the road to safety is blocked. a bottleneck the government is racing to open before it's too late. martin fletcher, nbc news, london. there is news tonight about what's become a national battle over a plan here in new york city to build a muslim center and mosque a few blocks away from ground zero. nbc's ron allen has the latest on an emotional debate over relynchous freedom, tolerance and the memories of 9/11. >> all in favor? >> aye. >> reporter: with that unanimous vote, new york city took another step paving the way for a
contentious project to build a mosque near ground zero. >> shame on you. >> reporter: the city refused to designate this warehouse a historic site, clearing the last hurdle to demolition. the debate is so heated there's even debate over what to call it. some see a community center with an auditorium, restaurant, a swimming pool and a prayer space for 2,000. >> i think the idea that this is sensitive is ignorant. >> reporter: opponents see an iconic mosque and rallying symbol for extremists, just 2.5 blocks from ground zero. >> it looks to me as a victory mosque. >> reporter: we're at the corner of west broadway and park place, about 75 yards from the entrance of the building. if you look down there, you can see a great structure that says t.a.t. and some cranes behind it. that's the edge of ground zero. total distance, 250 yards. the argument has echoed nationally.
on twitter, sarah palin said it stabs hearts. newt gingrich on new york one cable. >> this is a political act to establish a 13-story building, two blocks from the world trade center for the purpose of saying worldwide, we're wing, the americans are losing >> reporter: even the anti-defamation league says the center will cause more pain unnecessarily. however, a local community board approved the project by a vote of 29-1. many leaders like new york's mayor are steadfast supporters. >> should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property -- that may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. >> reporter: the developers say they will add a memorial to those who died on september 11th. all of that will probably not sway those who insist all of this is just too close to sacred ground. ron allen, nbc news, new york. we've got a lot more to tell you about, when "nightly news" continues in a moment. the high cost of america's love
affair with food and too much of it. how the children of the gulf coast are coping as a long, hard summer winds down. copd makes it hard for me to breathe. but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now, i can join the fun and games with my grandchildren. great news! for people with copd, including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both, advair helps significantly improve lung function. while nothing can reverse copd, advair is different from most other copd medications because it contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator, working together to help you breathe better. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking advair. i had fun today, grandpa. you and me both. if copd is still making it hard to breathe, ask your doctor if including advair
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a new government report released today says more than a quarter of american adults are obese. not just overweight, but dangerously so. we get more now from robert bazell. >> reporter: one way to look at obesity, in ten years the number of americans who undergo obesity surgeries has skyrocketed almost tenfold to a current 220,000 a year. there's no mystery why. the report out from the centers for disease control finds that an additional 2.4 million americans became obese between 2007 and 2009. almost a third of americans are obese. with all the problems of heart disease, type ii diabetes and other health conditions that go with it, and the costs. >> we also know that obesity accounted for 10% of all medical costs in 2008. or about $150 billion a year, we can't afford not to come to
terms with this problem. >> reporter: obesity is a body mass index of 30 or more. for example, a 5'9" person weighing 203 pounds or more, or a 5'4" person weighing 173 pounds. the study is based on telephone surveys, it's likely an underestimate by at least 7%. dr. erica labeckin measures the eknechts of obesity on both life span and the quality of life. >> it not only shortens your life, but shortens the amount of healthy life. >> reporter: an obese person on average loses about 64 days of life, about the same as a heavy smoker. you. >> multiply that by the u.s. population, the number is astounding.asdaq were
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it happened on sunday, and it's on its way here now. a huge solar flare, scientists call a coronal mass ejection happened on a part of the sun directly facing earth. that means a huge release of charged particles is charging toward us right now. there's nothing to worry about. and if you live in the northern part of the world and you're a night owl you may get to see a spectacular display of red and green lights over the next 48 hours. if you have a sister, you may want to call her and say thanks. according to a new study, having
a sister can help young teens ward off depression, protecting adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved or self-conscious. it doesn't matter if the sister is older or younger. having a brother doesn't help as much, sisters are better at talking about problems and caring about a sibling's well being. smart phone maker rim is out with its next generation blackberry tonight. the blackberry torch has a touch screen and slideout keyboard. it will only be available from at&t at least initially, as rim tries to take on all those iphone junkies head on. the singer and songwriter who wrote one of the biggest pop hits of the '60s has died. you may not recognize his name, but we bet you'll know his hit song. listen. ♪ runnin' yesterday my life was filled with rain ♪ ♪ sunnen >> he recorded that song in
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plus, specialized skimmers from around the world. we've skimmed over 27 million gallons of oil/water mixture and removed millions more with other methods. we've set out more than 8 million feet of boom to protect the shoreline. i grew up on the gulf coast and i love these waters. we can't keep all the oil from coming ashore, but i'm gonna do everything i can to stop it, and we'll be here as long as it takes to clean up the gulf.
finally tonight, back to the gulf, where the process to finally kill that leaky well has started. most of the children there are probably thinking about the start of something else, school. just two weeks away in many places in that region. so many kids there are coping with drastic changes to their lives, yet again. in fact, a columbia university study of 1,200 gulf coast families, finds that kids exposed to the oil spill are twice as likely as other children to report mental or physical health problems. kate snow talked with some of the youngest victims of this spill in southern louisiana to see how they're coping. >> when you say oil spill, i think disaster. it's killing the birds and fish. >> reporter: they've seen enough disaster to last a lifetime. >> katrina, rita, the oil spill. other than that, it's a great place. >> reporter: especially down in the fishing towns of plaquemines parish.
the kids play with their toys while their parents play a kind of grim lottery. >> 662. >> reporter: 200 people and just 125 gift cards to give out today, each worth $100 in groceries. >> you tell the kids not to worry? >> yeah. >> reporter: van tries to shield her kids from the financial strain, but her son knows why they didn't go on vacation this summer like they had planned. >> my mom doesn't have a job, and my dad is a fisherman, and it's going to affect how much money we have. >> reporter: after katrina, many groups came down to the gulf to help children cope with that massive devastation. this disaster is different. the impact on kids more disguised but very real. at clinics first set up to deal with mental health effects of katrina -- >> does your mom have a doctor to take you to when you feel sick? >> reporter: -- this social worker looks for new signs of distress.
>> if they were initially sleeping through the night and now they're not. if they were initially playing with their kids but now they won't leave the house. >> reporter: so much anxiety is caused by everything going on in their lives right now. joseph has been helping out in the seafood store started by his great grandparents when he was three. >> i hope hoping he would be the fourth generation. at this point we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. >> reporter: kids will tell you their family traditions are slipping away. >> i love to eat seafood. now we're getting less of it. >> i'm wondering if there will be fish around when i grow up and have kids. >> reporter: grown-up worries -- >> i pray every night so he can get his job back. >> reporter: -- from some of the youngest along the gulf. kate snow, nbc news, port sulfur, louisiana. that's our broadcast for