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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 11, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on our broadcast tonight, raging river. the race against time as the mighty mississippi roars south and the flooding heads to new orleans. bin laden's journal written by hand. what might be the biggest find from that secret hideout. silent no more. women with a harrowing secret of what happened to them in the peace corps and what happened when they tried to tell about it. and making a difference by helping young people find their voice. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. we're in the midst of some awful flooding along the mississippi
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river right now. the worst part is ahead, according to a lot of the experts. surging, unpredictable water flowing toward the mississippi delta now. the river is taking aim at one of the most poverty stricken parts of our country, after laying waste to a big chunk of the gambling industry up river, hundreds of homes, and just about touching a record on its way through memphis, tennessee, and it's not too early to say this, new orleans and the surrounding region could be in flood trouble as this flows south, on top of all the troubles they've had. we want to start off our coverage tonight with nbc's anne thompson in butte larose, louisiana. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. louisianians are busy tonight, preparing for this historic flood which has already done so much damage upriver. as the mississippi river barrels south, satellite images reveal its relentless and destructive
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impact. this was memphis on april 21st before the flood, and this was memphis yesterday. much of the city underwater as the mississippi reclaims its territory. the damage here pegged at $320 million. the swamped casinos in tunica mississippi, could lose up to $87 million just this month. overall, one economist estimates the flood's toll could reach $4 billion. up and down the raging river, people race against the clock, filling sandbags in yazoo city, mississippi. crews built this temporary levee in the shadow of louisiana's i-10e that crosses the atchafalaya river basin. >> it will be the back-up of the water from the mississippi trying to get out from the river into the gulf. it backed up on us. >> reporter: that's if officials open the morganza spillway, a relief valve for the mississippi river but a potential disaster for part of southwestern louisiana. the morganza could impact 13,000
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buildings, 25,000 people, and 3 million acres of land. >> put it back up here. >> reporter: 2 1/2 acres belong to john menard. he's packing up his butte larose home and heading for higher ground. leaving his cypress clad home shattered, this big tough oil worker. what is it like to think about losing your house? >> the words -- no words. because i built this myself. >> reporter: the atchafalaya river is already above 19 feet. the national weather service's jonathan bryzell marked a telephone pole to show residents what could happen. >> if they open the spillway gates at 50%, so half are open, we're expecting the level to get to 29. >> john menard is resigned. >> mother nature is mother nature, and there's not much you can do about it, you know. >> reporter: few here are willing to take a chance on
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mother nature. even though the flood is not expected to hit here until next week, today, we already found nurses moving homebound patients out of harm's way. brian? >> its 'tough to watch, anne, and we have to talk about new orleans. a city, when you mention it, you of katrina, the oil spill, a city kind of in recovery, continuing to shine, and what's in it for them in this flood? >> reporter: well, they're watching the river levels very carefully, as you can imagine, brian. city officials met with the army corps of engineers today, and they decided that if the river levels rise one more foot, then they're going to have to close the flood gates, and that means closing the port of new orleans. and that is bad news. brian? >> anne thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent, starting us off tonight from louisiana. anne, thanks as always. we have news tonight from
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overseas, resulting from the death of osama bin laden. of all the material those navy s.e.a.l.s grabbed on their way out of that house in pakistan, one item is paying off in terms of intelligence. it's a private journal, we're told, and it's now increasingly public. nbc's jim miklaszewski is on duty at the pentagon tonight. jim, good evening. >> good evening, brian. u.s. senior military intelligence officials tell us those navy s.e.a.l.s found so much intelligence at that compound, that they didn't have the time to gather it all up and take it, but what they did grab is that handwritten journal you talked about, and in it, bin laden talks about attacking the united states and creating mass casualties and intact, trying to find ways to insert secret operatives, al qaeda operatives, into the united states. according to one u.s. official, bin laden woke up every morning and tried to come up with new ways to attack the united states. bin laden, however, at one point
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sounds frustrated when he says that the only way to get the attention of the u.s. government is by killing large numbers of americans. at the same time, the u.s. recovered direct correspondence between bin laden and some of the other al qaeda operatives about possible plots. most of this material was found in what appeared to be bin laden's office, the computers, the hard drive and the journals, but according to u.s. officials, what the navy s.e.a.l.s left behind may have been of very high value, detailed logs of al qaeda's and bin laden's movements and activities, the kind of information that could lead to the identities of operatives and possible plots. the problem here, however, is all that material has been gathered up by pakistani intelligence. now, the u.s. has asked, but so far, the pakistanis have not agreed to share it, brian. >> we continue to learn more from this raid in pack stanley. jim miklaszewski at the pentagon
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tonight, jim, thanks for that. this has been another awful day in syria. the continuing government crackdown on protesters there who want president assad out. our chief foreign correspondent richard engle tracking it all again tonight from his post in benghazi, libya. richard, i understand the problem today was again, syrians firing on their own people. >> reporter: it was, and that has been the problem from the start. the syrian government has denied entry visas to foreign journalists. it clearly doesn't want the world to see what it is doing, which is a systematic city by city sweep against protesters. overnight, syria deployed tanks in the city of homs. witnesses say dozens of tanks have set up checkpoints and shelled the city earlier today. even as funerals were held for pro testers killed in this seven-week crackdown. human rights groups say they have documented more than 700
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killings since unrest began. many more, perhaps 10,000, have been arrested. and there are no signs of foreign intervention coming, or that the syrian government has any intention of stopping. syrian president bashar assad said he's fighting an armed insurrection instigated from outside the country. the european unit has imposed an arms embargo on syria. and travel bans on some of its key officials, but outside pressure isn't working. the assad regime believes it's in a fight for its survival. human rights groups in syria, brian, say at least 18 people were killed today alone. >> richard, before you go, about libya, where you are, a lot of talk about gadhafi. nato says they're not trying to kill him, but they killed his son, they hit his house in that last raid. the problem is it's been a long time since we have seen moammar gadhafi alive. >> reporter: well, we have seen
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him, according to libyan state television tonight, the state television broadcast pictures without any date, showing gadhafi, apparently greeting tribal elders. he was wearing sunglasses. he expressed absolutely no emotion as he greeted the elders who seemed very unenthusiastic about the meeting. what's key to note is he wasn't outside. he was inside, in a building that appears to be a luxury hotel in tripoli. brian? >> richard engel in benghazi, libya, tonight, richard, thanks for all of that. and now to an awful story that was revealed today about the tragic cost of good intentions. it's about young american women who followed the call of john f. kennedy and many others since and join the peace corps to make the world better. today, they testified about being brutally attacked while on assignment and what happened when they spoke out about it. the story from nbc news capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell. >> reporter: their faces, once
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filled with wide-eyed optimism about changing the world. today before congress -- >> i'm a former peace corps volunteer and a peace corps rape survivor. >> reporter: -- their hearts were heavy. chilling accounts of rape, beating, and mistreatment while overseas in the peace corps. jessica smochik volunteered in bangladesh in 2004. she says she reported to peace corps officials there and in washington that local men terrorized her. they were not prosecuted. >> the men dragged me into an abandoned courtyard, and the violence began. they started by raping me, and they forced other objects inside of my body. >> reporter: carol clark served in nepal in the late '80s and reported being repeatedly raped by a supervisor from nepal who was never charged. >> for the next 15 hours, he raped and beat me. for a long time, i prayed to live, and after that, i prayed to die. >> reporter: catherine's daughter, kate, a peace corps volunteer, was killed in west africa. >> kate was the heart of our
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family. and our lives have been shattered. >> reporter: in 2009, kate reported sexual assault to a local peace corps official who tipped off the suspect. >> within a few days, she was murdered. >> reporter: that official was fired, suspects are in custody. the most recent figures, 129 sexual assaults reported in 2008. about 1,000 attacks reported in the past ten years. >> the peace corps staff instructed us not to tell our families about the attacks. >> and this is the bridge in -- >> reporter: now in its 50th year, today, the peace corps has 8,600 volunteers in 77 countries promising to take action, director aaron williams said the peace corps regrets not doing a better job and is working with host countries to seek justice and protect volunteers. >> this type of thing of blaming the victim will not continue in the peace corps today. >> reporter: it's striking, these women say they still believe in the peace corps but
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they want congress to step in for better protection for future volunteers. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, the capitol. a pair of earthquakes about two hours apart has rattled southeastern spain today. at least ten people are dead. the worst of it seems to be in the town of lorca. there's a lot of damage, buildings, even a church steeple seen crumbling and toppling over into the streets. one witness who posted on the web called the scene absolute chaos. here in new york today the billionaire founder of a major hedge fund was convicted of all counts against him at an insider trading trial. he was found guilty of 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy after fbi wire taps revealed he traded on nonpublic inside information brought to him by a network of corporate insiders at blue chip firms like goldman sachs and mckenzie. he could face what amounts to life in prison. his lawyer said today he will appeal. when we come back here
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tonight, more from the big mississippi flood and what it's doing to those who make their living on that river. and later, helping kids master a skill they really need. it's a job that calls, really, for a pirate.
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big light show on the ground in ft. worth last night, after a lightning storm struck, that set off a chain reaction of transformers and substations. the blue arc light danced across
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the skyline, interrupted by that orange, when something caught fire on the ground. it was scary and costly while it lasted. it left thousands of people in the ft. worth area without power. we want to go back now to the flooding along the mississippi and the toll this crisis is taking on the people who support their families by moving commerce up and down that waterway, the most vital in the united states. nbc's thanh truong reports tonight from historic vicksburg, mississippi. >> reporter: at the junction of the mississippi and yazoo rivers, golden barge line has been in business close to 50 years. a river company now on an island because of severe flooding. >> we knew it was going to be bad. >> reporter: austin golding now navigates his boat across what used to be the parking lot of his family's business in vicksburg, mississippi. >> it is pretty surreal. i never thought i would see water this high. i don't think anybody in this town thought they would see water this high. >> reporter: golding is a third-generation river rider.
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his grandfather started the barge company in the 1960s with just a handful of boats. today, golding moves millions of barrels of gas and diesel up and down the mississippi. >> not many people wake up and want to be a tow-boaters. it's a 24/7 job. you have to know what you're getting into. >> reporter: golding knows what he's getting in. relying on the river has its rewards and risks. >> it's just a way of life. this river gives a lot of people their living and it's an honest living, and i tell you, this is really a struggle for people who make their living on the water, especially a family-owned business, whose whole livelihood depends on what you see behind us. >> reporter: the predicted flooding here would top the record set in 1927. if that happened, golding said the family will have to put the faith in the strength of the levees. >> it would absolutely be catastrophic. this is a flood of a generation. nobody's ever seen water this high and it's likely nobody ever will again. >> reporter: for decades, the
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goldings have lived off this river. now, they hope they can live through what it's about to unleash. thanh truong, nbc, vicksburg, mississippi. we learned this afternoon reverend billy graham was admitted to a hospital near his north carolina home. he was found to be suffering from pneumonia but is said to be alert and doing well. we'll keep tabs on his condition. he is 92 years old. up next here tonight, it might be the most famous hat in the world right now, and you now have a chance to own it.
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as we've been reporting, there hasn't been a whole lot of good news in memphis this week, but they got some last night when the white house told the city's booker t. washington high school they won the nationwide race to the top challenge. they showcased their accomplishments including increasing their graduation rate
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from 55% to 82% in just three years. now, wait until you hear their reward. president obama will speak at commencement there this coming monday. the head of philip morris is getting a lot of attention tonight for saying cigarettes are not that hard to quit. while he conceded they are harmful and addictive, he might get an argument from the millions of folks wearing patches and chewing nicotine gum to try to stop the cravings that have been compared to coming off of heroin. the ceo made the annual remarks at the annual shareholder meeting in response to a cancer nurse who is also an anti-tobacco activist. it was the hat seen around the world, the one atop the head of princess beatrice at the royal wedding right there on the right. the brits call this a fascinator. in this case, it's a front mount. as you may have seen, it quickly made its way into popular culture.
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now she's getting to sell it to the highest bidder on ebay. the money will go to unicef, and that's a good thing. when we come back here tonight, teaching kids to tell tall tales for the right reason.
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we're back, and it's time for today's making a difference report. tonight, an enthusiastic group of talented folks who go school to school, helping young people find their voice. first on the page, and then on the stage. our report from nbc's peter alexander. >> hi, megan. >> hi, megan. >> reporter: this is a story about writing stories. a challenge that for many kids can be as intimidating as it is basic. that is until the story pirates arrive. these young actors visit element schools like the bronx charter school for the arts, and lead high-energy writing workshops. their goal, to help students like third grader jada alamar, discover their writing voices. >> lucy is a friendly girl. >> hi bobo. >> reporter: and then to make their tales unforgettable, the story pirates take the students'
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words and a few weeks later, perform them as a show. from new york to l.a., the story pirates visit more than 150 schools each year, helping students see that their words and ideas matter. >> that's right, pete, they do matter, and it's fun. >> you're right, rolo, it is fun. the teachers say it's working. >> they're so engaged and that's so important in school, in learning to be engaged and interacting with what you're doing. >> putting writing into something you can share with people and they can read it and they can see how you write. >> reporter: the story pirates view the students not as kids but as collaborators. >> it's life changing. it's validating that their ideas are good, people care about them. they'll remember it forever, even if they don't become an writer. >> reporter: including the six young authors whose stories the pirates performed during their visit. among them, jay ling.
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>> i was so happy because everybody will hear my story. >> reporter: a story that has come alive, teaching these kids a love of writing. peter alexander, nbc news, new york. before we go, a quick update on the making a difference report we brought you here last night. detroit dog rescue, the folks working to save strays in detroit. as of yesterday, they were down to their last $43 after paying some vet bills. since our story aired last night, they have received nearly $30,000 in contributions from generous viewers of ours. the funny thing is we never mentioned the possibility of donations but we will now. if you would like to help, you can find the information on our website, that's our broadcast for tonight. thank you, as always, for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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-- captions by vitac -- right now at 6:00, deep impact and concerns about how strong earthquakes half a world away are impacting bay area fault lines. i'm damian trujillo. students claim they were left in the dark about a double murder suicide. that's coming up next. also ahead, charges that new surveillance video shows more misconduct by san francisco's police officers. the news at 6:00


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