tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 21, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
the next couple days. saturday and sunday, a lot hotter. more at 6:00. demanding answers. president obama promises swift action amid this growing scandal at the va. and tonight, our nbc news investigation uncovering serious problems at another va facility. rescue mission. late word tonight of u.s. troops on the move joining the hunt to find hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapd by terrorists. security breach. another major cyber attack on another american company. more than 100 million customers at risk being warned to take action. and fair warning. news tonight about some of the biggest frustrations for fliers and new rules announced for everyone who buys airline tickets online. "nightly news" begins now.
from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. i'm lester holt sitting in for brian who remains on assignment one more night. he hasn't spoken publicly about it in over three weeks, but today amid a highly charged political environment, president obama responded with outrage to the growing scandal at va hospitals, calling allegations of misconduct that left seriously ill veterans waiting for care dishonorable and promising those found guilty will be held accountable. the president spoke after meeting with the va secretary and a day after the va inspector general's office acknowledged that the number of hospitals under investigation has expanded to 26. our political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd starts us off here tonight with more. chuck? >> reporter: good evening, lester. amid the growing political pressure over allegations involving falsifications of patient wait times at va medical
centers, the president displayed annoyance and frustration as he finally addressed the scandal, but for many, his words of outrage were not enough. >> today, i want every veteran to know, we are going to fix whatever is wrong. >> reporter: following his close-door meeting with eric shinseki, the president tried to reassure veterans. >> if these allegations turn out to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and i will not tolerate it, period. >> reporter: the president ordered preliminary results next week, and while standing by shinseki, there were no long-term promises of job security. >> but i have said to rick and i said it to him today, i want to see, you know, what the results of these reports are, and there is going to be accountability. >> reporter: today at american legion post 67 north of miami, veterans had mixed opinions. >> he had nothing to do with it, he can't control 500 veterans
hospitals. how can he? >> he puts these people in office, evidently he doesn't know what's going on, or he knows what's going on and turns a blind eye. >> reporter: many veterans had high hopes from the obama administration after hearing this from candidate obama in 2007. >> when i become president, equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. >> reporter: while well received then, veterans groups are frustrated with president obama today. what about the president's remarks today made you think he's not on top of this? >> first of all, the fact it took him this long to come out and speak about it. we needed something from the president that says he's on it, he's taking it seriously, he's going to do something about it, and it's more of the same. >> reporter: in washington, republicans agreed. >> this va situation is a national embarrassment and the president's response to it is an embarrassment. >> reporter: other local va facilities come under scrutiny all over the country. >> growing outrage involving the
scandal at the phoenix va. >> they include the va hospital here in san antonio. >> reporter: also in that closed-door meeting with the president and shinseki was deputy chief of staff rob nabs, who's been dispatched to phoenix, ground zero where this scandal first erupted. neighbors' job is to find out firsthand what happened and report back to the president in a week, lester. >> thanks, and as this scandal gets deeper, more stories about those who found themselves caught in the va bureaucracy and face potentially life threatening delays in their treatment. as part of an investigation, john yang has one of those stories about a retired air force officer in new mexico. >> reporter: when doctors discovered a small spot on her breast in 2011 and diagnosed early stage cancer, the registered nurse knew quick treatment was vital, but then she endured a two-month delay,
and, she says, rude treatment from a va pathologist. >> his answer to me was to call the president and then he hung up on me. >> reporter: then another delay. a va surgeon recommended a mastectomy. a private surgeon said a lumpectomy would be enough, advice she followed. today she's cancer free and out of the va system. >> because i didn't get a response and they didn't seem to care, i really wasn't comfortable going there. >> reporter: we came to the albuquerque va, where current and former nurses tell nbc news of chronic understaffing and management intimidation. the results, they say, delays and compromised patient care. we were shown how albuquerque's electronic appointment system can mask delays. whistle-blowers say clerks are instructed to falsify records to reflect two wait times. nbc news was shown an example. the fake wait time of zero days and the real wait time of 81 days. what's more, this current health
care worker who doesn't want to be identified for fear of retaliation, says some patients are assigned to doctors who don't ever see them. >> those are doctors who are either in administration or are gone. >> reporter: no longer working there? >> right. >> reporter: but still listed as having patients? >> yes. >> reporter: in an april complaint, a staff physician called it a climate of deceit. it breaks my heart and makes me so furious that these veterans get bad care. the statement the new mexico va said, we take all allegations about improper patient care very seriously and are now in the process of ordering an external review. all this has left her frustrated. >> i know how it should work. and it wasn't working. >> reporter: an increasingly common complaint that's now gotten the attention of the commander in chief. john yang, nbc news.
albuquerque, new mexico. there's late word tonight the u.s. military is getting more deeply involved in the effort to find hundreds of nigerian schoolgirls more than five weeks after they were kidnapped by terrorists. nbc's correspondent jim miklaszewski has more. jim? >> 80 u.s. military forces are already on the ground in chad. their mission, fly an unmanned drone over neighboring nigeria in a desperate search for those missing girls. all the americans are combat armed for protection, but officials here stress they will not be involved in any combat operations or even any possible rescue missions in nigeria. the predator at another u.s. drone, the global hawk, have been flying surveillance missions over the dense jungles of nigeria since last week but have so far found no signs of the missing girls. defense officials tell us that the terrorist group holding the girls, boko haram, has now split them up into many smaller groups
and scattered them throughout the jungle. and in a somewhat somber assessment tonight, one senior defense official tells us, we have no clear idea where these girls are, lester. >> all right, jim miklaszewski at the pentagon, thanks. we're keeping a close eye on severe weather as a giant system moves across the country tonight. a tornado touched down near the airport in denver. large hail blanketing much of the state of colorado. our partners at the weather channel report the biggest threat tonight is in the indianapolis and cincinnati areas, where they are forecasting more large hail and damaging winds up to 60 miles an hour. meantime, in the west tonight, hundreds of firefighters are heading to northern arizona to try to contain a large and growing wildfire that's already forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and businesses near flagstaff. nbc's miguel almaguer is near the site of the fire tonight. miguel?
>> reporter: lester, good evening. tonight authorities have pushed us far back from the fronts of the fire. they are concerned about erratic winds. that it will suddenly shift this fire in any direction at a moment's notice. that's not cloud cover behind me. that's a huge plume of smoke so crews are throwing every resource they can at the blaze. feeding on bone dry forest land, explosive because of the wind, it's called the slide fire and it's on the move near arizona's popular slide rock state park. the blaze shooting up steep canyon walls with plenty of fuel to burn. >> the winds have continued to grow and pick up and it's really pushing it quite a bit. >> reporter: with evacuations ordered, a hundred homes, cabins and businesses are threatened. >> you need to grab that picture. >> reporter: the hyde family is scrambling to get out, packing only what can fit in their car. >> how scary is that? >> it's scary. >> reporter: newlyweds had to
evacuate quickly, leaving their camping gear behind. they spent their honeymoon in a red cross shelter. >> we spent all of our wedding money buying new camping gear and stuff like that. and then not even a day old, we bought it all last night. >> reporter: with 200 firefighters on the ground and 20 hot shot teams moving in, the best way to hit this forest fire is from the air. the state park with its natural stone water slides and winding streams is now closed. the fire fight to save this majestic land will likely go through the memorial day weekend. tonight, this blaze has charred nearly a thousand acres, it is zero percent contained and growing. and despite the erratic winds, the one piece of good news here, lester, the blaze at this hour is not closing in on any large communities. >> all right, miguel, thank you. there is word tonight of another major security breach involving a big american company.
this time it's ebay which is urging 145 million customers to take action in order to protect themselves from identity thieves. we get our report tonight from our national correspondent peter alexander. >> reporter: with 145 million active users, ebay is one of the most popular ecommerce sites in the world. but tonight, they say hackers have infiltrated a database of customer information and is urging their users to change passwords immediately. it contains customer names, encrypted passwords, e-mail and home addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth. the breach first occurred in late february but was only discovered two weeks ago. ebay says there is no evidence that any financial information was accessed or compromised. however, we are taking every precaution to protect our customers. former federal prosecutor mark rash. >> the hacker only needs to find one way in and the defender has to defend against every possible attack. so we play a game called whack-a-mole.
they pop up, we knock them down. >> how are we doing, are we keeping up? >> we're not keeping up. hackers always have the advantage. >> reporter: even without financial information, hackers could be looking to take advantage by selling data. like e-mails and birthdays to criminals who can use them to try to steal your identity. >> reporter: sarah shops on ebay every month. >> a lot of information is connected to ebay. there's a lot to
be concerned about. >> reporter: ebay also owns paypal. but says those accounts were not affected. cyber crime experts say it's not enough to simply change your e-bay password if you use the same password on multiple sites, including e-mail, you should change all of them. >> we're racing to change passwords before the bad guys can use them. >> reporter: another breach that could create problems for consumers. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. there is word of yet another recall today by gm. this time it's more than 218,000 small cars. most of them chevy aveos from
the model years 2004 to 2008. gm says a faulty part of the daytime running lights could overheat and cause a fire. since mid-february, gm has recalled on average almost 1 million cars a week. still ahead tonight, hidden
fees, extra charges, cancellations. new rules announced to tackle some of the biggest complaints for air travelers. and later, a song that has so many people getting happy. yet a group of young men and women are arrested for dancing to pharrell, leading to backlash around the world.
an airline ticket online, only to be hit later with all the additional fees that can add big money to the price of a trip. the government today proposed requiring airlines and travel sites to be much more up front about the fees they charge. it comes as the airlines are lobbying congress for approval to advertise airfares without mentioning those fees. our report from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: talk to airline passengers at chicago o'hare, they'll tell you what they don't like about flying these days. >> when you get duped into feeling like it never ends with all the fees and costs. >> they nickel and dime you, they charge you for everything. >> reporter: it's also a top complaint to the department of transportation, which today proposed new rules to give airline passengers a better idea of how much their trip will really cost. among the new rules, airlines would be required to disclose up front any extra charges, including fees for checked luggage, carry-on bags, early boarding, and seat selection. they'd have to disclose whether
a partner airline is flying the route and allow passengers to cancel a reservation within 24 hours of making it without penalty if the flight is still at least a week away. and for the first time, online booking sites would also be treated as ticket agents, requiring them to also disclose all of their fees up front. >> people understand that knowledge is power. they understand that when they are armed with the information that they can use that information in order to make good choices for themselves. >> reporter: but the ceo of faircompare.com says all of that data from hundreds of airlines worldwide would make his site unmanageable. >> if i start to add that kind of content on every price when i do a quote on my phone, i'll be scrolling with carpal tunnel syndrome in less than five minutes. >> reporter: the airline industry is already fighting existing rules requiring them to disclose fees and taxes. today it said even more rules would force airlines to pass on the additional costs to customers. a new fight shaping up over how much information passengers
it is a vast and beautiful land, and today, president obama designated nearly half a million acres in southern new mexico as the country's newest national monument. it's called the organ mountains desert peaks region. today's designation means that it will be protected from development. these days going viral can mean going global. take the hit song "happy" by pharrell williams. since the video came out last year, versions have turned up everywhere, including of all places iran. the difference is the people who made that video were arrested. the surprise is who came to their defense. here's nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: it is not what you'd expect out of iran.
♪ because i'm happy ♪ clap along if you feel like a room without a roof ♪ >> reporter: six young iranians creating a fan video to pharrell's "happy," just as millions of others have danced to the viral hit online, from beijing to tokyo. to civil rights icon john louis on his birthday. but in tehran, dancing without an islamic head scarf got them arrested, setting off a social media storm, #freehappyiranians. pharrell himself tweeted, it's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness. the biggest surprise was iran's president rouhani, we shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy. young iranians have been pushing the envelope like this facebook page, stealthy freedoms of iranian women, but conservative authorities are still trying to keep control. earlier this week, iran's most
famous actress was criticized for shaking hands with the president of the cannes film festival, calling it a violation of religious beliefs. >> oftentimes they take steps to try to curtail people's freedoms, when in reality it focuses the world's attention on iran. >> reporter: in the end, iran relented, releasing the six, but not the video's director. one of the dancers wrote on instagram, "hi, i'm back, thank you, pharrell, and everyone who cared about us." for now, they can be happy. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. when we come back, a vital military mission and just the right recruit for the job.
finally tonight, for all the advanced equipment and technologies needed to keep the planes flying in and out of a busy u.s. air force base, they found that enlisting something quite basic was the best way of dealing with the persistent and potentially dangerous problem. it, or shall we say she, has been on duty ever since. nbc's janet sham lee yan has the story for us from florida. >> reporter: as tranquil as the
view is, this is the scene of a turf war. big jets are flying in and out, so are dozens of species of birds, drawn to an airstrip in the midst of a coastal wetland. >> they can come through a wind screen, go into an engine. >> reporter: macdill recorded 64 bird strikes just last year. and is battling the problem with a decidedly low tech weapon. sonic is a shelter dog, a 9-year-old border collie who has no leg, but is as important as any four-star general. >> the work is terribly important, especially for flight safety on the base. >> reporter: life and death? >> yeah, absolutely. >> reporter: linda garvin is sonic's partner. a burst of speed and off she goes. sonic rarely catches anything, but her prey gets the message. the work is critical. just one bird strike to one of these refuelling planes could damage the aircraft and endanger the crew. a crew was endanger two years
ago when a vulture hit a jet on final approach here, punching a hole in the fuselage, but the plane landed safely. pilots say sonic is better than those loud booms used to scare birds away. >> yeah, that little border collie can cover a lot of ground, also a natural predator to the birds. >> reporter: she loves it, even look at her now. >> she's searching, she's scanning. >> reporter: sunrise to sunset, the hours are long and the pain comes in kibble, then again, for sonic, doing what comes naturally is all in a day's work. janet sham len, nbc news, tampa. that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being with us, i'm lester holt. brian will be back tomorrow. for all of us at nbc news, good night.
nbc bay area news starts now. there's three of us who have taken the position that we will not sign onto this. >> right now at 6:00, they love what they do, but these tach teachers say the school is stepping too far into their brief at lives. >> new at 6:00 tonight, contract or commandment? a teacher at an east bay catholic school says she is losing her job for refusing to go along with a more aae aality.
it requires them to abide by all catholic teachings at home and at school. >> i work here. i love the kids. >> reporter: this why this teacher is grief stricken that she won't be teaching at the catholic school next year. purcell refused to sign onto the morality clause they added to teachers' contracts. crossing out wording she didn't agree with. >> people's private life has no lace in an employment contract. >> reporter: man owe parents say they're outraged. today they delivered a petition to the diocese asking this emto hold off on implementing the through contract until everyone can agree on the new language. >> it just makes me so sad that good teacher also choose to leave. good teachers will choose not to come. parents and students will choose not to come in the future. >> i can mak