tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, on the brink. tonight the big effort to get americans out of libya and fast, while gadhafi loses control. our own richard engel reports again tonight from inside libya. the domino effect from the showdown in wisconsin, and the prank call that fooled the governor and is now all over the web. hitting hard at home. it took the death of a veteran o football player, but now concussions are front and center with a lot of parents of athletes. the brotherhood, one man helping boys become men and recruiting as many others as he can to follow his lead. and after 26 long years, a losing streak has come to an end. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. cities and towns are falling in libya, falling from moammar gadhafi's control, but not the big one, not yet. his headquarters of tripoli being controlled by forces loyal to him in what increasingly looks like a violent civil war. the american effort tonight is this, get u.s. citizens out of there by ferry boat and get out ahead of what's happening. we heard from the president a short time ago. >> the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. so are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of libya. these actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. this violence must stop. >> the president at the white house tonight. and while the world watches this
fight, gadhafi still has a lot of power in reserve still should he choose to use it, but he'd be battling a tide against him and it may be closing in. leading off our coverage once again tonight, our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, in libya. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. as you mentioned, people are now trying to leave this country. the state department says that hundreds of americans are safely aboard a ferry for evacuation, but evacuations have been complicated as what started as a pro-democracy movement has descended into war. gadhafi loyalists today were reportedly firing at random. in the libyan capital, now a war zone. thousands of foreigners are struggling to leave tripoli. the airport is crowded, but flights are few. it's unclear how many have been killed in the fighting in libya so far, but mass graves are already being dug.
moammar gadhafi is still believed to be in tripoli but he hasn't been seen since his rambling, angry speech last night, but gadhafi's world is shrinking. there's now another libya, firmly in rebel hands. we drove 300 miles into libya today, a journey through rebel territory. we have now left and are on the highway heading west. most of the cars are going in the opposite direction, toward the egyptian border. clearly people leaving and taking everything with them. the terrain is harsh, mostly scrub and desert, but the highway was new. we were able to move fast. we quickly reached a city on the mediterranean coast. suddenly, we drove into a protest. children were up front. they shouted "free libya" as men behind them cheered "the people want to topple the regime." the demonstrators are all chanting the same thing. gadhafi must go. >> reporter: the demonstrators
covered our car with a libyan flag, the old one flown before gadhafi took power. the protesters were mostly friendly. they believe media coverage helped overthrow the government in tunisia and egypt, but there were a few hard stares in this city with the reputation for islamic militants. we left the city at dusk, still heading west. in the next town, we were surprised again by demonstrators on top of an armored personnel carrier, a war trophy. protesters say this armored vehicle was being used by gadhafi forces to shoot on the people. now they have taken control of it and are driving it themselves. the rebels are now armed with heavy weapons. to show they're prepared to use them, some fired guns in the air. nearby we were taken to a house to see a half dozen men, prisoners, captured three days ago during a previously unreported major battle. the prisoners, all libyans, surrendered to save their lives. they looked despondent and
understandably nervous. they told us they had been fighting alongside foreign mercenaries who were summarily executed by the rebels. rebel-controlled libya is leaderless, chaotic and harsh but also determined to advance to capture tripoli. rebels tell us that the oil fields in eastern libya are now being protected and controlled by army units that defected from gadhafi. >> richard, we know that some in the libyan military are leaving the job, two of them parachuted off the job today and let their jets crash rather than bomb fellow libyans. but gadhafi still has some power to bring to bear. he could ask or order his navy to strike, his air force. this calls for speculation, but how and when do you see this ending? >> reporter: when is very difficult to know. but both people -- people on both sides, pro gadhafi and anti-gadhafi think this will end badly.
the protesters say the only way for this to end is for gadhafi to be killed. he says he won't leave the country. people close to gadhafi believe he is capable of carrying out a massive kind of attack against civilians in order to try to force them to give up this rebellion. >> richard engel after another harrowing day of travels across libya. richard, you and your teams continue to stay safe. we have a closer look tonight at gadhafi and his family. the father has ruled for over four decades. the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. our look at what has been the ruling family name in libya for four decades from our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell. >> reporter: their wealth is exceeded only by their extravagance. according to wikileaks cables, one son, his father's national security adviser, hired beyonce and usher to entertain at a new year's bash on st. bart's a year ago. so over the top videos were posted on youtube.
diplomatic cables say the year before, he paid mariah carey $1 million to sing four songs on new year's eve. lavish parties, an oil fortune, blood feuds among siblings. think the carringtons of "dynasty" or the ewings of "dallas." add a billion two for a private army that diplomats called a regime protection unit and reports a third son brutally abused his wife in london, and you get the gadhafis of tripoli. steven clemons visited last year. >> saif gadhafi when we were at his house, it's a very nice house, but he owned a tiger. not everyone has a tiger. it was not a normal thing to see. but it's clearly a family with resources. >> reporter: the sons' outrageous behavior comes naturally. their father's excesses are legend, including the requirement that his platoon of 40 female bodyguards all be virgins. under the threat of losing power, saif gadhafi went on
television and threatened rivers of blood against the protesters. now u.s. officials want to track and possibly freeze the gadhafi oil fortune, estimated at $32 billion. according to u.s. diplomatic cables hidden in american banks in london, canada and other financial capitals, if they can find it. >> that certainly includes looking at sanctions that could be imposed either bilaterally or multilaterally. >> reporter: but it may not be easy to track the fortune. diplomats call gadhafi, incorporated. in fact the family's money managers have been smarter than many of their american counterparts. wikileaks cables show bernie madoff tried to get them to invest in his ponzi scheme. the libyans didn't bite. >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom with the rest of this story tonight. thanks. we'll be watching oil prices here each night with all this ongoing turmoil in libya. for a brief while today oil hit $100 a barrel before falling back a bit. at the end of the day closing
above $98 a barrel. highest it's been, by the way, since the oil price spike back in '08. now we switch to the disaster zone in new zealand where it's already thursday and chances of finding survivors in the rubble of that devastating earthquake are fading by the hour. the death toll is now more than 70. it will almost certainly climb, sadly, given the number of those believed to be trapped. our own george lewis is with us live from the city of christchurch tonight. george, good evening. >> reporter: brian, it's a city of frayed nerves tonight. we've been feeling aftershocks all day long as the effort to rescue people trapped beneath the quake rubble continues around the clock. as they survey the damage, many people in christchurch compare their city to a war zone. search and rescue crews say they have cleared about 40% of the collapsed buildings here. they're still pulling people out of the rubble. rosalind chapman ducked under her desk when the quake hit.
she was rescued 12 hours later. anne bodkin got out with barely a scratch after 25 hours, her rescuers braving aftershocks to save her. >> in the midst of what is by and large one of the bleakest days in the story of our city, the sun came out at the same moment as they removed ann from that building. >> reporter: in the canterbury television office building, authorities fear as many as 100 dead could be buried beneath the rubble. they have given up hope finding anyone else alive here. >> i don't believe it. why this building? >> reporter: 80% of christchurch is without water. people scrambling for emergency supplies. deputy fema administrator tim manning was in christchurch for a conference. a former firefighter, he joined in the rescue effort. >> eventually came back over here to a pancaked building where we worked in the rubble for a while trying to retrieve
some people that were calling for help. >> reporter: this is the second big quake here within a five-month period. as was the case with new orleans after katrina, some are talking about leaving christchurch and not coming back. christchurch officials have two words for people who want to help out, send money. they have got plenty of blankets, plenty of clothing, what they need now is cold, hard cash. brian. >> george lewis with the unbelievable situation in new zealand tonight. george, thanks. and in this country, another day of protests in madison, wisconsin, as the battle over stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights continues, and the protests and clashes are spreading now. some state lawmakers in indiana left the state to protest an anti-union bill that republicans have now dropped. but the focus today was in madison where the new governor of wisconsin did run on a promise of what he's trying to bring about now, but where today a prank phone call put a spotlight on ties between the governor and a billionaire
backer. our report from our national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff. >> reporter: publicly governor scott walker has insisted the standoff over union rights in wisconsin is all about saving money. >> we're going to balance the budget the right way. we're not going to push it off to the next generation of taxpayers. >> reporter: but yesterday in a phone call he thought he was having with a major campaign donor, walker provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they have been saying all along, to crush public unions. >> this is about public sector unions. essentially having taxpayers money be used to pay to lobby for spending more of taxpayers money. it's absolutely ridiculous. >> reporter: governor walker believed the caller was david koch, a billionaire oil man, conservative activist and philanthropist. in fact he was talking to a left-leaning journalist posing as koch. >> this is our moment. this is our time to change the course of history. >> reporter: the governor's plan would force government workers to contribute more for pension and health benefits, severely limit their rights to collective
bargaining and make it more difficult to collect union dues. if he succeeds, it could dry up a major source of campaign cash for democrats. for unions like the wisconsin education association council or weac, the teachers union. >> union money is a huge factor for democratic candidates and weac stands above all the rest. >> reporter: it's pumped more than $10 million into state races over the past decade. almost all of it for democrats. >> this is really about shifting the landscape in wisconsin, tilting the balance of power in favor of governor walker's party. >> reporter: critics charge walker's plan advances the conservative agenda of david koch and his brother, charles, who own koch industries, a huge energy firm with nearly 3,000 workers in wisconsin. last year koch industries pac gave $43,000 to walker's campaign, the maximum under state law. a little noticed provision in walker's budget would allow the sale of state-owned power plants without bids which could benefit companies like koch industries.
the company told nbc it has no interest in purchasing wisconsin power plants and insisted walker's plan wouldn't benefit koch more than any other business in wisconsin. at the end of the call the impersonator makes an invitation. >> i tell you what, scott, once you crush these bastards, i'll fly you out to cali and really show you a good time. >> all right, that would be outstanding. >> reporter: michael isikoff, nbc news, washington. and in this country tonight, big news about the often controversial issue of gay marriage. president obama said today he now believes the law which blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and government lawyers will no longer defend it in court. the law does, however, remain in effect and will remain unless it's struck down. chicagoans have a new mayor-elect tonight. rahm emanuel, the former white house chief of staff, former congressman, emerged from a field of six contenders to replace the legendary richard
daley, racking up 55% of the vote and avoiding a runoff. he faces some major challenges there, including a big budget deficit and spiraling public pension costs. when we come back here tonight, a story in the news, a tragedy in fact, now has a lot of parents of athletes worried about concussions and long-term effects. later, a man who owes his success to the generosity of others is making a difference in his own right.
funeral services will be held saturday for an nfl veteran, dave duerson of the chicago bears, a super bowl champion, who committed suicide last week, leaving behind notes and text messages to his family as a last request that his brain be examined after his death. duerson suspected he suffered from brain damage from his football years, and his death sends another warning to athletes of all ages, including parents of young ones, that
sports and brain injury risks need to be taken seriously. our report from our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman. >> reporter: hockey, football, even downhill. >> her head whips back and hits that hard snow. >> reporter: in almost every sport, professional athletes face a threat that for years has been minimized and sometimes ignored, concussions. the same holds true for college and high school athletes too. >> my head took the entire blow. >> reporter: 15-year-old nick white suffered a concussion three days ago while playing hockey. today he is a patient at the university of pittsburgh concussion clinic. >> we absolutely have had an increase in numbers of concussions referred to us. i see between 15 to 25 cases a day, five days a week. >> reporter: a better understanding of concussive injuries has been the goal of research at the university of ottawa. in just seven milliseconds the head can whip around with the brain bouncing back and forth within the skull. that means getting hit in one spot can cause injuries in another part of the brain.
until recently doctors have only been able to rely on what an athlete tells them and observing soft signs of concussion, such as loss of balance, slurred speech and blurry vision. >> if you're having any of these symptoms -- >> reporter: but now there are scientific ways of looking for brain injury using computer models and other objective tests. >> when i can actually show the child today that his data is impaired compared to where his baseline was, it's a case closed conversation. >> reporter: for nick white, today's results are sobering. he scores in the 18th to 19th percentiles for response time. >> how many pens do you see? >> two. we're making a change in the awareness of this injury and kids are starting to get it. >> i was really looking at my future. >> reporter: the results will keep nick sidelined but may just save his life. dr. nancy snyderman, nbc news, new york. and up next as we continue here, an epic sports streak that
how bad? they hadn't won a conference game since january of 1985. since reagan was president. that is until last night. they beat occidental 46-45. now there's no turning back for the division 3 caltech beavers. the beavers are on fire. it took just 26 years. and a dream come true for a baseball trail blazer. justine siegel already owns a lot of firsts. first woman to coach a professional baseball team, the minor league brockton rocks. four years as a college level men's assistant coach. and now a new achievement, becoming the first woman to pitch batting practice for a major league team. the cleveland indians allowed her the honor of throwing bp and in turn siegel, a huge indians fan, wore a patch honoring christina taylor green, the little girl killed in tucson, who was the granddaughter of baseball's dallas green and the only girl on her arizona little league team. up next here tonight, a man
its list of 100 history makers in the making. one of the names on the list is a man who has devoted a lot of time and energy to helping young african-american boys become successful men. our report tonight from dallas, texas, and nbc's ron mott. >> he was a wonderful guy. and i had no idea that he did work like this. >> reporter: at 58, dale long is old enough to be 7-year-old montell's grand dad but he's actually his big brother. >> how about that, give me five. >> reporter: not in the traditional sense, of course. >> it sort of has a biblical touch to it, right? >> reporter: for more than 40 years, long has mentored boys for big brothers big sisters of america. pulling them away from the lure of the streets with positive food for thought, with results to match. >> he can be a very great influence to montell. you know, especially later in life and even now in life. >> reporter: why did you decide to make this part of your life, this service that you have to kids? >> somebody was there for me. there was always someone outside
of my father and my mother and my family who was there for me. >> you remember this? >> reporter: long was there for michael johnson too, earning both a trip to the white house in 1989 when long was named national big brother of the year. today johnson is a successful barber and big brother himself. >> i don't mind passing it along. that's what it is for me and the men today is stepping up to the plate and passing it on. >> reporter: but long says far too few black men are stepping up to guide black boys in the trials of growing up. >> in order to be men, you've got to see men. simple as that. >> reporter: so he's turned to fraternity brothers in a cultural hot spot hoping to recruit 10,000 men around the country to lead. what makes the barbershop the best place to try to recruit guys? >> you can see it right here. i mean that's where men gather on saturday morning. >> we've got some material. >> reporter: a big brother, rounding up others who can make the cut as role models.
ron mott, nbc news, dallas. and that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com making sense and seeking closure. friends and family of teens killed rafting are gathering right now to honor their memory and how bay area leaders are hoping to turn the tragedy in to a call for safety. good evening and thanks for joining us. >> as we speak, people are pausing to remember those two high schoolers who drowned in walnut creek.