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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  August 12, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST

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on the broadcast tonight, hard times. what recovery? more signs tonight that it's going to be a long road back. also tonight, gm turns the corner, but the man in charge is leaving. >> busted. a dramatic story about how police caught an accused serial killer in the nick of time, but not before stabbings in several states. extreme weather across the nation. heat, humidity and a storm so severe you could hardly see that famous house. taking the hit. how some schools are tackling one of the biggest risks on the football field. and small wonder. ♪ >> introducing that little girl with the very big voice. >> introducing that little girl with the very big voice. "nightly news" begins now.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. i'm ann curry, in for brian williams, as yet more numbers on the economy came out today that help explain why so many americans feel this recovery is not all it's cracked up to be. for example, we learned that the number of people who asked for unemployment benefits for the first time rose significantly last week, surprising economists who expected that number to drop. but at the same time, one of america's biggest corporations which got a huge and controversial government bailout, did report some big gains today. making sense of all of this at the white house is nbc's savannah guthrie. savannah, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, ann. it does seem to be the pattern of this recovery -- one step forward, one step back. here at the white house the view is that the economy is slowly digging itself out of a hole, but there is frustration that
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it's not happening faster. back from the brink of death general motors today announced its biggest quarterly profit in six years -- $1.3 billion. even that good news was overshadowed by a surprise change at the top. ceo edward whitaker, jr., out, board member daniel akerson in, at a crucial moment, just as the company prepares to sell its stock to the public. the rest of the economy is also on a bumpy ride. on wall street, the dow was down 59 points, failing to recover after yesterday's precipitous drop. new jobless figures showed the number of workers filing claims for unemployment rose to the highest level in almost six months. 484,000 claims last week. on the front lines in atlanta, this job placement specialist says it's the worst job market she's seen in 30 years.
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>> the last two years have been devastating. however, we are definitely seeing a surge in hiring. we are definitely seeing unemployed candidates return to the workforce. >> reporter: the economy is growing, but now much more slowly than even nine months ago, a trend so worrisome the federal reserve this week downgraded its estimate of the strength of the recovery. >> the rate of economic growth right now is definitely slower than many people were expecting six months ago. >> reporter: the signs of uncertainty are everywhere. mortgage rates are at record lows, but the housing market is still shaky. corporate profits are high, but businesses are still reluctant to hire. and once mighty american consumers have closed their pocketbooks. until they spend, the economy can't fully heal. >> the fact that consumers are paying down debt and saving more is not great for our economy. it's not great for the economy particularly in the shape that it's in right now. >> reporter: experts like jean
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chatzky says there is a bit of an irony here saying on the one hand saving is not good for the economy at large, but it is good for individual consumers to save and plan for emergencies. ann? >> all right. savannah guthrie tonight. savannah, thanks. there is also breaking news in california. the federal judge who ruled last week that proposition 8 is unconstitutional said this afternoon that same-sex couples can, again, begin to marry beginning next week. but opponents of same-sex marriage tonight say, "not so fast." nbc's mara schiavocampo has more on this from los angeles tonight. mara? >> reporter: good evening, ann. well, judge walker's ruling essentially paves the way for same-sex marriage to resume in california on wednesday. supporters outside san francisco's city hall cheered the announcement this afternoon though that excitement was tempered a bit when they realized the stay would not be lifted immediately.
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now, on august 4th, judge walker over turned proposition 8. that's the 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in california. fighting that measure is unconstitutional. now at the same time he also issued a temporary stay on that ruling to give proponents of prop-8 time to appeal. today, he announced they have until august 18th to do that. otherwise the stay will be lifted and same-sex marriages will resume. now, in his decision, judge walker found that proponents of prop-8 hadn't shown that any harm would come to them if the stay were to be lifted. opponents say they are prepared to take the case to the supreme court if that's what it takes to keep same-sex marriages from continuing in california. ann? >> all right. mara schiavocampo. mara, thanks. also breaking today, an arrest in a serial killer case police have been trying to crack for three months. it involves stabbings in several states. the prime suspect was captured just as he was trying to flee the country. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams has details. >> reporter: just 45 minutes
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before a delta flight was due to leave atlanta for tel aviv last night an urgent call to police and customs and border patrol. waiting to board the flight was an israeli man, elias abuelazam, a palestinian christian suspected in a series of brutal stabbing attacks in michigan, virginia, and ohio. the airline was ordered to page him to the counter at the gate. >> he was taken into custody without incident. when he approached the ticket counter in response to the page. >> reporter: police suspect him of stabbing 18 people since may. 14 around flint, michigan, five of them died. >> could have been me. could have been somebody in my family. real scary. >> reporter: surviving victims described a muscular man who sometimes wore a t-shirt advertising a brand of gin. abuelazam, police discovered, had been given just such a shirt. three more stabbings in virginia last week where abuelazam has relatives. and a big break -- surveillance video of the attacker's suv matched descriptions from victims in michigan. the fbi was able to retrace
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abuelazam's steps showing when he was in each of the places in three states where the stabbings took place. michigan police declined to speculate on a motive, but investigators in virginia believe it was race. >> my belief is he selected the victims in leesburg based upon the color of their skin. >> reporter: abuelazam, a legal, permanent resident, worked at this michigan liquor store. the manager said he did not seem prone to violence. >> just very polite. no kind of hostility. no kind of -- no signs, you know. when i heard about it, i was in very big shock. >> reporter: the fbi said he tried to make a run for it, but was caught in an air security system already on high alert. pete williams, nbc news, washington. turning now to the weather and another day of extremes. from heat and humidity across the midwest to a fast and violent storm that brought flash
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floods and a mass of power outages to the washington, d.c., area. nbc's tom costello is in washington tonight. >> reporter: ann, good evening. it's going to take some time to clean this region up. we've got power lines down, trees uprooted. the governor of maryland wants an investigation. why is it the region loses power for prolonged periods of time after virtually every storm? but across much of the country, it's been a week of heat, humidity, and bugs. the morning rush hour had just begun in washington when a massive storm rolled in from the north, bringing with it more than 800 lightning strikes. at one point the white house was lost in thick fog and heavy rain. when the storm finally moved out, it left behind a trail of destruction -- flooded-out roads, roofs peeled off, downed trees and power lines, and 100,000 without power. in suburban maryland, a 100-foot tree sliced this apartment building in half, trapping people inside. >> all you could hear were kids screaming and crying and everybody thought we were going
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to die. it was terrible. >> reporter: amazingly, everyone got out alive. in d.c.'s rock creek park, one driver barely escaped as a wall of water carried his car into the river, wedging it underneath a bridge. >> i got up on high ground, held onto the fence and watched my car float away. >> reporter: from des moines to milwaukee, indianapolis to chicago, it's been a week of heat, humidity and heavy rain. >> you can call this the summer of the heat wave. outside of southern california this could go down as the top five hottest summer for many cities. >> reporter: in ames, iowa, the entire city is without clean running water after heavy flooding. >> thank you. >> yep. >> reporter: the weather channel's janelle cline is there. >> much of iowa is damaged after three days of relentless rain. massive flooding closed interstates, swept cars off roads, even killed a 16-year-old girl. >> reporter: while in chicago, another problem -- a mosquito population explosion. and the dragonflies that eat them. >> they're all over.
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just like a swarm of what you would imagine locusts. >> reporter: back here in d.c., forecasters say this is likely to go down as one of the hottest summers on record, following record snowfall over the winter. climatologists say it is linked to global warming. the hotter it gets, the wetter it gets, the more violent the storms are and the more moisture we have. ann, back to you. >> all right. tom costello, thanks. now to the war in afghanistan. in our new poll, nearly 7 of 10 people think the war will not end successfully for the united states. that stunning number presents a major challenge for general david petraeus, the new u.s. commander in afghanistan. today, he gave his first interview since taking control to nbc's david gregory, the moderator of "meet the press." david joins us from kabul. what did general petraeus have to say? >> reporter: well, ann, i think general petraeus understands two things very well. one, which you just mentioned, dwindling support at home for the war, and the results problem
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that he has on the ground here with an insurgency that has gotten stronger with corruption in the afghan government. in the first part of my conversation with general petraeus today, he made the case for more space and more time to demonstrate the kind of progress that he believes is possible with the surge strategy. and now with him in place. but he understands that the clock is ticking. after all, next july, u.s. forces are supposed to begin their withdrawal. is your job now here as commander to try to slow down that washington cause? >> i think our job, again, is to show those in washington that there is progress being made. to do that, we have to build on the progress that has been established so far, because there is certainly nothing like irreversible momentum. >> reporter: are you in lockstep with the president who will still stick to a july 2011 deadline to begin the transition? >> yeah, absolutely. he has been very clear on this, i think. i think there was greater
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clarity even after the replacement and so forth. what the president very much wants from me and what we talked about in the oval office is the responsibility of a military commander on the ground to provide his best professional military advice. leave the politics to him. certainly i'm aware of the context within which i offer that advice. but that just informs the advice. it doesn't drive it. the situation on the ground drives it. >> reporter: i think that last point is very important. general petraeus stressed today that it is too early to make an assessment about which forces can and cannot begin to withdraw next summer. he said unequivocally that it's got to be conditions-based. that's a significant statement. i can also report tonight that while many republicans have faulted president obama for setting that timeline for withdrawal of u.s. troops, south carolina republican senator lindsay graham tells me he now
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thinks it is possible for that july 2011 withdrawal timeline to actually work. it would be possible to begin that withdrawal. that's a new position for him, ann. >> all right. nbc's david gregory. thank you so much, david, for that report. and david's full interview with general petraeus airs this sunday on "meet the press" here on nbc. a ship full of u.s. marines has arrived in pakistan to help with one of the worst natural disasters in that country's history. the devastating floods have killed at least 1,500 people and left millions homeless and hungry. pakistan's president zardari, who went ahead with a trip to europe when the disaster began, made his first visit to victims today. when "nightly news" continues in just a moment, kids headed into football season. how facing the problem of concussions is now happening head on. and later, the little girl whose singing voice is so big, some people don't believe it is hers.
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in the next week or so, thousands of young people all across this country will be suiting up for practice in that game so loved in america -- football. but this season, there is a real effort to tackle one of the serious risks of the game, and that is concussions. our dr. nancy snyderman reports there is a new message for players, coaches and parents. >> that a boy! >> reporter: head football coach rodney webb remembers taking a hit as a high school football player. >> we referred to it as having your bell rung. i had my bell rung several times. >> reporter: the mantra back then -- no pain, no gain, and no talk of concussions.
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a policy he's changing for his kids now. >> oftentimes, kids don't want to admit they have a concussion. we have some rough and tumble football players that want to think that they're superheroes. >> a concussion is not visible. it's something on the inside of your head. it's something you have to try and explain. during the time you're injured you really can't explain it. >> reporter: mesquite high school is one of the first in texas to have a comprehensive concussion policy. students take a baseline neurological test at the beginning of the season and after any impact. they are tested and retested repeatedly, and can only be cleared by a trainer -- not a coach. and now the nfl is stepping in. for the first time there will be posters hanging in nfl locker rooms that are directed at players and the message is very blunt -- repeated concussions can hurt your life and your family's life, too. >> it's not just loss of consciousness, but anything that could be a dinger, feeling woozy, dizzy, severe headache.
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>> reporter: this doctor helped draft the new poster which reminds players other athletes are watching, hoping this will signal a culture change in the game. >> it's going to be an incremental process over time. that's one of the reasons we're reaching out to the youth athletes to educate them early in the potential long-term implications of these types of injuries. >> reporter: a process that's starting to take hold in mesquite. >> there is a time to man up and there is a time to be smart. >> reporter: a serious step to keep players on the field and healthy. >> go win it! >> reporter: dr. nancy snyderman, nbc news, new york. and when we come back, a spectacular show tonight that you will have to step outside to see.
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the federal government announced today that bp will pay a record fine related to a disaster that happened five years ago -- an explosion at the company's texas city oil refinery that left 15 people dead. the company will pay $50.6 million for failing to fix safety violations after the accident. bp is working with the government to settle the charges of even more safety violations, and could end up paying another $30 million in fines. there was surprising news
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out of the gulf today. commander thad allen said the so-called bottom kill that bp has been working toward as a final step in shutting down the leaky well may have already happened. there is a chance, he said -- though he called it a low probability -- that all the mud and cement pumped into the well last week essentially accomplished the bottom kill. bp is currently conducting a test that will figure it out for sure. it was day 12 of jury deliberations today in the corruption trial of former illinois governor rod blagojevich, and things don't seem to be going very smoothly. the jury said it has reached agreement on two of 24 counts and hasn't started considering the 11 counts involving wire fraud. there is no indication of which way the jury voted on the two counts that they did agree on. the judge responded to a note from the jury by telling them to go back to work which they will do on monday. and if you feel like staying up late tonight, you could treat yourself to one of the greatest shows on earth just by looking up in the sky. tonight and tomorrow night will be the peak viewing times for
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the annual perseid meteor shower. you should be able to see the light show after 10:00 p.m. local time. peak viewing is between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. nasa says you may be able to see 100 meteors an hour streak through the sky. well, coming up next, speaking of stars, we're going to meet the new one that's been thrilling the world with her voice. ♪
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and finally tonight that little girl behind that astonishing voice that has people shaking their heads in wonder all over the world. though she's just 10 years old she's gone viral. her face is everywhere, yet we know little about jackie evancho or how she got that voice. nbc's kristen welker is now filling in the blanks for us tonight. ♪ >> reporter: america couldn't believe its ears when this very big and seemingly seasoned soprano voice came out of a very small girl on nbc's "america's got talent." 10-year-old jackie evancho
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performing puccini. ♪ >> i can't believe that from this tiny body this huge mature voice. >> i can't put her talent into any context. it's so unexpected and so unique. >> reporter: her youtube audition video which has gotten more than a million hits landed the 5th grader from the suburbs of pittsburgh on the national stage. >> i started singing when i was 8 years old because we went to see "phantom of the opera" so i started singing around the house. >> reporter: there were questions. is her talent too good to be real? >> no contestant is allowed to lip synch. it doesn't happen, but i want to prove it. is there any way you could just sing a note right now? [ applause ] ♪ >> reporter: the draw to compete on this stage is huge. on any given night, there are 12 million people watching, a live studio audience, it is a very bright spotlight and the
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pressure to perform is just as intense. ♪ when i was young and unafraid ♪ >> reporter: no one knows that better than susan boyle who reportedly had a breakdown after she became an overnight sensation. >> the smartest thing jackie evancho's family can do is make sure her life stays as normal as it possibly can. >> reporter: but staying normal could be a challenge for a little girl who's a big sensation. >> it feels so amazing, especially when america's picked me to go through to follow my dream. it's just so amazing to me. >> reporter: and even more so to the world that's watching and listening in amazement. kristen welker, nbc news, hollywood. and that's our broadcast for this thursday evening. in for brian williams, i'm ann curry. and for all of us at nbc news, curry. and for all of us at nbc news, thank you and good night. -- captions by vitac --
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it is the loolg these couples have waited for for years. they'll have to wait another six days apparently. good evening. a federal judge today lifted his stay on gay marriages. he also ruled though that the order won't take effect for almost a week.


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