tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 13, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, midwest misery. extreme weather and the worst flooding ever in a community that could be without drinking water for days. what went wrong? as the wreckage of that alaska plane crash is removed from the scene, investigators are zeroing in on possible causes of the fatal accident. new rules for debit cards. what you need to know so you won't get nickeled, dimed and dollared. that was wrong. talk radio's dr. laura apologizes for something she said on the air over and over again. what was she thinking? and making a difference for soldiers in his home state. why one man decided to help them by becoming one of them. why one man decided to help them by becoming one of them. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. i'm ann curry in for brian williams. as a part of america's heartland is struggling against a triple threat -- extreme heat, severe thunderstorm warnings and dangerous flooding. it's happening in ames, iowa, and it's gotten so bad, tens of thousands of people may be without drinking water there for days. our own ron allen has spent the day in the intense weather and joins us now from the soggy grounds of iowa state university. ron? >> reporter: good evening to you, ann. yes, this part of campus is usually dry this time of year, but this water has been standing here now for several days. further back, you can see there are workers inside several buildings trying to pump out water and dry out things to get it ready for school. also here in the town of ames is another big problem, there's an entire community of people who do not have clean water. city crews worked feverishly to repair flood damage today. officials say strict water conservation measures and a boil water alert will likely remain
in place well into next week. >> ames is now a town virtually cut off by floodwaters. >> reporter: several consecutive days of heavy downpours brought ames the worst flooding here ever. hundreds of homes evacuated, businesses shut down, roads closed by rising water, in some cases, with deadly consequences. police released a 911 call from a group of local teens trapped in several cars, swept off a rural road into a flood-swollen creek. >> we're going underwater right now. there's nowhere to go right now. >> reporter: 16-year-old jessica webb did not survive. today, volunteers handed out free bottled water to every ames resident who needs it, a gallon a day each. the traffic steady at makeshift pickup sites. the floods ironically drained the town's proud-looking water towers. the saturated ground so heavy, water mains cracked under the weight, leaving 55,000 residents with no clean water. >> it is a big inconvenience but with everything that's happened,
it's the least i can do to help out with the community. >> reporter: ames is home to iowa state university. what might look like a pretty lake on campus are actually football practice fields covered with water. the residents of this mobile home park say floodwaters rose several feet. today they tried to salvage what they could. >> just laid this down. >> reporter: like everyone here, joshua drake keeps his eyes on the skies. there's supposed to be more rain tonight. >> yeah. and you can see the clouds are coming right now. they're talking another inch and a half, two inches. >> reporter: that's not good at all. >> not good at all. >> reporter: throughout the day, there are indications in a lot of places that the floodwaters are were receding, going down. although forecasters are pretty convinced that more rain is headed this way this weekend. ann? >> all right. ron allen tonight. ron, thank you so much for your reporting tonight. national transportation safety board investigators were finally able to retrieve the wreckage of that plane crash that killed former alaska senator ted stevens and four others on monday.
now comes the painstaking process of trying to reconstruct all the factors and circumstances that led to the crash. nbc's miguel almaguer is in anchorage tonight with the latest on this investigation. miguel, good evening to you. >> reporter: ann, good evening. federal investigators are said to have tentatively ruled out a le potential mechanical problem as the reason for the crash and now investigators are one step closer to figuring out why the plane went down. late this afternoon, using a heavy lift helicopter, investigators from the ntsb brought back pieces from the crash site 20 miles away in the remote mountains of southwest alaska. the wreckage of the float plane will be examined in detail. one question investigators have, why a state-of-the-art emergency beacon like this one failed to send a signal. that would have helped rescuers locate the downed plane sooner. two investigators who hiked to the crash scene combed the debris field which spans 100 yards, looking for clues to the
crash. >> we're gathering information on the operator as well as the pilot, the pilot's records and experience. >> reporter: flying through the fog and rain, the de havilland float plane went down roughly 15 minutes after it was airborne. five of the nine people aboard were killed, likely on impact says the medical examiner. dana tindall took this photograph of former senator ted stevens the day before they both died in the crash. an avid fisherman, stevens and his group were in their element headed to a fishing camp. his daughter, lily, says flying in remote regions of alaska is dangerous, but the former senator enjoyed being in the air. >> i grew up flying on small planes around the state with my dad and i've had some great memories with him in the air, and you know, sometimes i would sit in the co-pilot seat. >> reporter: of the four survivors, willie phillips is the youngest at 13. rescuers found the boy outside the fuselage under a wing, close to his father, bill phillips, who did not survive.
all four survivors are expected to fully recover, and investigators need their account of the crash to help determine what went wrong. as is standard procedure, the ntsb is said to be reviewing the pilot, terry smith's background and his flying experience during his some three decades as a pilot he has had some "minor incidents." the ntsb believes weather played a factor in this crash. ann? >> that's a tragedy. miguel almaguer, thank you so much. now to the gulf of mexico and the latest on bp's attempt to shut down that broken oil well once and for all. nbc's anne thompson is in venice, louisiana, with yet another complication tonight. is that right, anne? >> reporter: it's right. that's very right, ann. tonight the federal science and bp engineers are trying to figure out what the next steps, what the final steps should be to permanently kill this well. you remember that all along the federal government has said it would not consider the well killed until it was cemented from the bottom through the
relief well. well, a pressure test last night revealed another possibility. the static kill, which was a procedure that pumped mud and cement through the well, apparently was so successful that officials now believe the cement went all the way down the well pipe into the reservoir and then up this small space between the outside of the pipe and inside of the casing called the annulus. the problem is they also think it may have trapped 1,000 barrels of oil in the annulus, so if they were to proceed with the relief well as planned and drill into the annulus and then pump mud and cement under heavy pressure, they fear they could send all that oil up the pipe and out the blowout preventer and into the gulf again, and that's what no one wants. what does all this mean? what it means is that officials know the well has been sealed from the top and from the bottom, but they're not sure how solid that seal is on the bottom, and they're trying to figure out the best way to
strengthen that seal in order to keep any more oil from going into the gulf. ann? >> all right, anne thompson reporting once again tonight from this location. we really appreciate your reporting, anne. that suspected serial killer we told you about last night has now agreed to be extradited from georgia to michigan to face charging related with stabbing attacks there. police linked elias abuelazam to as many as 20 stabbings in three states -- michigan, ohio and virginia. he was caught this week as he tried to board a plane to atlanta to take him to his native israel and police say he is a suspect in a stabbing there as well. today president obama signed a new $600 million border enforcement bill that sends 1,500 new agents to the southwest border and pays for more unmanned drones to patrol it. but the new law falls far short of the comprehensive approach to immigration that president obama says he wants, and it does not address what should be done about the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. as nbc's david gregory reported from kabul last night, the
general in charge of afghanistan, general david petraeus, says he is committed to meeting president obama's target of july 2011 for the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. tonight more of that exclusive interview and about that deadline. >> how stifling is the concept of this deadline and this washington debate to what you're trying to do here? >> i don't find it that stifling. i'm not bowed over by, you know, the knowledge that july 2011 is out there. in fact, the president has been very clear, vice president biden has been very clear as well as more recently that this is a date when a process begins, that is conditions-based, and as the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our afghan counterparts and the security forces, and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a "responsible" drawdown of our forces. >> let me just stop you and clarify. could you reach that point and say, i know that the process is
supposed to begin, but my assessment, as the commander here, is that it cannot begin now? >> certainly, yeah, again, the president and i sat down in the oval office and he expressed very clearly that what he wants from me is my best professional military advice. >> and you can see the full interview with general petraeus this sunday on "meet the press" here on nbc. and to america's other war, as the last 10,000 combat troops prepare to leave iraq, our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has returned once again to baghdad to give us a look at the conditions they will leave behind. this is part of our special coverage of "iraq: the long way out." >> reporter: on a base outside baghdad tonight, some american combat troops were bound for home, but what are they leaving, after seven and a half years of war? yesterday, we went to take a look. at 10:00 a.m., traffic was brisk in the ritzy al assad neighborhood. a new furniture store opened here four months ago. this sales clerk's family left
iraq because of the violence and returned a year ago. do you think iraq is ready to stand on its own two feet? >> no, i don't. my opinion, we need u.s. troops. >> reporter: across the street, a new chrysler dealership is opened. how is business? >> it's very good. >> reporter: it's very good? >> yes. >> reporter: business is up 200% this year. the reason, the manager said, security has improved. this is haifa street. a few years ago, it was called the most dangerous street in the world. it was al qaeda's headquarters in baghdad. there were car bombings here almost every day. snipers in these buildings. now, a degree of normal life has returned. the last time i was here in 2006, i was shot at. >> go, go, go, go, go. >> reporter: snipers have just apparently started firing in this area. at 2:00 p.m. just a few blocks from haifa street, we linked up with an old friend, mohammed al rubai, a baghdad councilman.
he showed me his dream project to renovate downtown baghdad into a pedestrian area. for tourists, cafes and movie theaters. he, too, wants u.s. troops to stay to maintain security. at 4:00 p.m., we were down by the tigris. this ferryman told me in the worst days of 2006, he'd find six or seven bodies in the river every day. life is safer now, but still difficult. [ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: the government doesn't do anything, he said. he told me he only has two hours of electricity a day, but it wasn't until i saw a man swim up to the boat that i realized how desperate people feel. "tell the world we are swimming because we have no water or electricity in our houses," he said. by 6:00 p.m., iraqis rush to market to buy food to break the holy ramadan fast, a time of reflection here, but also anxiety, as american combat troops have begun to leave. richard engel, nbc news, baghdad.
today federal health officials approved a new type of morning after contraceptive that reduces the chance of pregnancy for five days. that's two days longer than the emergency contraception known as plan b. the new pill is called ella and it will be available by prescription only. you may have noticed the signs and messages at your bank and your atm, new federal rules on overdraft fees for debit cards take effect this weekend. they're in response to widespread outrage over the old rules that would allow something as simple as a cup of coffee to end up costing consumers a small fortune. our report tonight from nbc's senior investigative
correspondent lisa myers. >> reporter: college student robert daniel racked up 11 overdraft fees in a few days last year on small debit card purchases, he says, because he didn't realize his paycheck hadn't cleared his account. the cost? $385 in overdraft fees. >> it was really infuriating because i, you know, i depended on that money and it was a large chunk of what i had worked a lot over the summer to earn. >> reporter: outraged, daniel protested outside his bank, to no avail. after this weekend, under the new rules, banks can no longer charge overdraft fees on debit card transactions unless you opt in, agree to allow them to do it. if you don't sign up, debit transactions will be rejected if you have no money in your account. daniel's bank, bank of america, has gone further and won't allow overdrafts on debit cards, period. so no more $4 lattes or $5
hamburgers to trigger an overdraft fee and end up costing $40. >> this is a great first step, but there are still many overdraft abuses that remain. >> reporter: banks still can charge overdraft fees on checks and automatic monthly payments. if you opt for overdraft protection on debit cards, there's no limit on how much or how many times you can be charged, and banks still can reorder your transactions to create more overdrafts, and maximize their fees. consumer groups say beware of banks trying to get you to sign up for overdraft protection. >> some banks are trying to trick you into saying yes to a program that enriches the bank and harms you. >> reporter: consumer experts say instead, look for other overdraft coverage, like linking your checking account to your savings account, or to a line of credit. that costs less. a spokesman for the banking industry says overdraft protection helps consumers by saving them the embarrassment of
having their debit card rejected and that more consumers seem to be signing up than expected. lisa myers, nbc news, washington. on wall street today, stocks finished modestly lower on a quiet summer friday. the dow was down almost 17 points, capping its fourth losing session in a row. when we come back, a well-known radio talk show host creates a big stir while trying to make a point about race.
the radio talk show host known as dr. laura says she is now sorry for a tirade on her program this week in which she went off on a woman caller who wanted advice about how she should handle what she felt were racist comments, remarks by her husband's friends and relatives. in the course of her rant, dr. laura, whose real name is laura schlessinger, used a racial slur multiple times. nbc's rehema ellis has more on what was said and the nerve that it touched. >> this is dr. laura -- >> reporter: on the air for more than 30 years, dr. laura schlessinger's radio program on 400 stations reaches more than 8 million listeners weekly. some were outraged that this week, dr. laura repeatedly used
the "n" word on her broadcast while talking to an african-american caller who complained that her white husband's friends frequently made racist remarks. >> caller: how about the "n" the word? the "n" word's been thrown around -- >> black guys use it all the time, turn on hbo, a comic all you hear is [ bleep ]. i don't get it. if anybody without enough melanin says it's a horrible thing, but when black people say it, it's affectionate. it's very confusing. >> reporter: dr. laura said the "n" word 11 times. the next day she apologized. >> i didn't intend to hurt people but i did, and that makes it the wrong thing to have done. i was attempting to make a philosophical point and i articulated the "n" word all the way out, more than one time, and that was wrong. >> reporter: it's not the first time dr. schlessinger has struck a raw nerve. in 2000, she described homosexuality as deviant, a biological error. she lost dozens of sponsors and her television show was canceled the next year. now she's used the "n" word.
david wilson, managing editor of "the grio," an nbc website, focused on topics of interest to african-americans, says reaction was swift. >> a lot of people who posted on our website and facebook page felt that the fact that she used the word so many times showed that this was something done that was calculated and you know, she had some intent behind using it. >> reporter: others say dr. laura's excessive use of the "n" word led to a missed opportunity. >> it overshadowed a legitimate conversation that still needs to be had about individuals who use that word in particular african-americans who use that word. >> reporter: tonight dr. laura at the center of renewed debate about when language offends. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. when we come back, a man on a personal mission to make a difference for citizen soldiers and bring them some peace when they go off to war.
be a grandfather, and his courageous way of making a difference for his fellow soldiers and his country. here's nbc's kevin tibbles. >> get set, begin. >> reporter: it's a morning of physical fitness testing for this medical unit. >> one minute. >> reporter: of the iowa army national guard. >> 30. >> reporter: today counting out reps of push-ups and sit-ups. >> of your state of fitness. >> reporter: among the fresh faces captain dan grinstead. a hospital social worker for the past 35 years, he joined the guard just two years ago at the age of 57. >> i was worried, i had read headlines about behavioral problems, suicide rates, things like that. it just seemed to me like that was something i might have some impact on. the best way to do it, in my mind, and the most respectful way to do it was to join. >> reporter: does it matter that he wears the uniform? >> huge. i think that's a really big part. you know, something that he can do that a civilian couldn't do. >> it means a lot to the
soldiers, i guarantee that. >> reporter: and along with the uniform comes his professional experience. >> captain grinstead is incredibly approachable. it's like having arms wide open all the time that you can walk into if you need to. >> reporter: by the time the whole group of about 2,800 iowa national guard soldiers deploys, captain grinstead will be 60, but don't for a minute think that age is slowing him down. in the two-mile run on this day, he finished second. >> 18, 19, 20. 14:20. that's awesome. >> reporter: captain grinstead's admiration for his younger comrades is mutual. >> they really are a dedicated group of kids who want to go serve their country, and it's remarkable. >> reporter: and his personal mission is to bring them some peace of mind. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. >> that's an inspiration. that's our broadcast for this friday evening. in for brian williams, i'm ann curry. and for all of us here at nbc curry. and for all of us here at nbc news, thank you, and good night.
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com with cutbacks at the police department and countless crime, east bay residents say they are taking matter sboos their own hands. >> i'm tom sinkovitz. odds are you will be on camera when you visit oakland's chinatown district. they are working together to build an outdoor camera network. the cameras will help fill in the gaps where police officers used to be. traci grant is live to
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