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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  June 24, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> we'll keep streaming this chopper footage on our website and get back to you at 6:00 with our next local newscast. >> hope to see you then. tonight, the boston bomber speaks. his apology to the survivors he maimed and the families of the people he murdered. tonight, what he said back including the father of the youngest victim as a judge condemns his killer to death. heartbreak in south carolina as a beloved pastor is honored at the state capitol. a sea of mourners in the shadow of that polarizing flag. it's cald the silent killer, taking the lives of patrick swayze, michael landon, and so many more. by the time it's found it's usually too late. tonight there's new hope in detecting pancreatic cancer. and sleepless in america. millions tossing and turning and surfing in bed. we'll show you what staring at those screens is doing to your brain and why they're keeping you from a good night's sleep. "nightly news" begins right now.
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>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. we begin with an apology today from the boston marathon bomber. dzhokhar tsarnaev breaking his silence more than two years after the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. "i am sorry for the lives that i've taken," he told a courtroom filled with survivors and families of victims. his words, however, too little too late for the judge, who following a jury's verdict formally sentenced the 21-year-old to death. pete williams has covered the story since that awful april day in 2013 and was inside the courtroom today for the trial's emotional end. >> reporter: some of those most affected by the marathon bombings came to court for an opportunity they'd waited two years for. telling dzhokhar tsarnaev the pain he caused. bill richard, the father of 8-year-old martin, the youngest to die in the bombing, stood with his wife,
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denise, as tsarnaev sat 20 feet away. richard said tsarnaev could have stopped his older brother tamerlan who planned the bombings. he chose to do nothing, said richard. "he chose hate, destruction, and death." heather abbott, who lost a leg after the bombing, said the jury had a hard time deciding between life and death. "i can't understand," she said, "how he made the decision about who would live and who would die." one of the most forceful many statements came from rebecca gregory, who also lost a leg from the bombing. "i'm not somebody's victim," she told tsarnaev. "not yours, not your brother's." referring to the video shown in court of his gesture to a surveillance camera, she said, "that is so funny that you smirk. that's what we do to you every day." the response to the bombing she said unified the city and the nation and brought out the best in people. "we are boston strong and america strong," she said. "choosing to mess with us was a terrible idea." how's that for a victim impact statement?" finally, tsarnaev himself stood, choking up when he said, "i am
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sorry for the lives i have taken," adding "i'd like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors." he asked for allah's mercy. many survivors said it was too late. >> i regret having ever wanted to hear him speak because what he said showed no remorse, no regret, and no empathy for what he's done to our lives. >> and at no point during his statement did he renounce the reasons for which he committed this act. he never renounced terrorism. he did not repudiate violent extremism. >> reporter: but liz norton, whose two sons each lost a leg, said it was helpful. >> i really feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders, and i honestly can say my sons will probably be happy that i found out what i needed to find and i think we can really close the chapter. >> pete williams, you've spent a lot of time in that courtroom. you were there for the days of gut-wrenching testimony, of horrible graphic pieces of evidence. what was the difference? what was it like to hear him speak in that courtroom?
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>> reporter: well, today, lester, what struck me is that most of those who spoke were not people who had lost limbs or loved ones. they suffer from post-traumatic stress. they have panic attacks and flashbacks. they're in constant pain. they can't sleep. they have trouble holding a job. they don't want to go out in crowds. it was a reminder that hundreds of people with no visible injuries still had their lives shattered. now, as for tsarnaev, he's off to a federal prison while years of legal appeals now begin. >> all right. pete williams in boston tonight. thank you. we're learning that federal hate crime charges will likely be filed against dylann roof. he's the man accused of carrying out the racially motivated massacre at a historic black church in charleston a week ago. the feds are considering bringing charges to back up south carolina's prosecution. that state does not have its own hate crime law. meantime, the people of charleston have begun formally paying their last respects to the nine victims of that massacre. a moving memorial today at the south carolina state house
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taking place just yards from the confederate flag that has provoked so much controversy in the wake of this tragedy. ron allen continues to lead our coverage from there. >> reporter: today a very solemn public tribute to a native son whose death along with his fellow worshippers has south carolina searching its soul. as the reverend clementa pinckney's bottle arrived at the capitol, passing under the confederate flag, the late state senator then lying in a place of honor in the capitol rotunda. a black drape blocking the view of the flag outside but not the anger. >> yeah, the flag. it's time for it to come down. we need to put an end to it. >> reporter: the line of mourners under a blazing sun stretched around the capitol. >> he fought in the lord's army. he fought in a political army. and to see this end this way because of
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hatred, it hurts. >> reporter: while the capitol's flag flew, the state's prestigious military academy, the citadel, removed the confederate naval jack from its main chapel as more leaders said they could no longer defend the rebel banner. senator thurmond son of the late segregationist strom thurmond. >> i'm proud to be on the right side of history regarding the removal of the symbol of racism and bigotry. >> reporter: today alabama's governor ordered the confederate battle flag and four other banners removed from the capitol grounds. and virginia's governor has recalled license plates bearing the image. some 2,000 of them. jeff o'kane of the sons of confederate veterans says he worries this won't stop at the flag. >> then it will be this statue, that statue. we're on a slippery slope here. you're going to try to eradicate history so it doesn't offend anybody. it already happened. we can't change history.
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>> reporter: and this evening friends and relatives are paying their last respects to ethel lance, 70, a retired mother and grandmother and for 30 years a custodian at mother emanuel where she died. reverend pinckney will be laid to rest on friday with president obama here to deliver the eulogy. >> ron allen from columbia tonight. thanks. a stunning reveal from the white house today that over 30 americans are being held hostage abroad. we've never heard that particular number. that information coming out as president obama announced a major change to the u.s. policy on families paying out ransom in the hopes of bringing their captive loved ones back home. we get the details from our national correspondent peter alexander. >> reporter: today's policy shift could give new hope to caitlyn coleman of pennsylvania kidnapped by the taliban in afghanistan. she's one of 30
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americans being held hostage overseas. this afternoon a contrite president obama conceded the u.s. government at times has failed the families of hostages held by terrorists. >> these families have already suffered enough and they should never feel ignored or victimized by their own government. >> reporter: today he vowed to do better. >> we're not going to abandon you. we will stand by you. >> reporter: while the president insisted the u.s. will not make concessions including paying ransom, the u.s. is willing to communicate with terrorist groups, and families won't face prosecution if they want to pay in hopes of bringing their loved ones. >> doesn't that ultimately put a price tag on americans' heads overseas? >> there's no doubt that the payment of ransoms fuels the very activity that we are trying to stop. >> reporter: critics on capitol hill argue it'll put more american lives at risk. >> if you reward hostage-taking behavior, you're going to get more hostage taking. >> reporter: the family of journalist james foley killed by isis last summer applauded today's announcement calling it an awakening to make kidnapped americans a priority. before they killed him foley's kidnappers
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were demanding more than $5 million ransom and today foley's former boss expressed concerns the new policy puts the burden squarely on families. >> that is a great deal of money for any average person or maybe any person to raise. >> reporter: and earlier today the president met privately with the families of current and former hostages. he said it was an emotional meeting. tonight one family who was there reacted to the policy changes, and while nothing of course will bring their son back they said his death made a difference. lester? >> peter alexander, thank you. tonight, 29 million people in 12 states are at risk for severe storms. a dangerous system bringing the threat of even more tornadoes, strong winds, flash floods, and hail. some areas in the danger zone are still reeling from storms this week. the weather channel's mike seidel is in hard-hit coal city, illinois. >> reporter: violent weather swept across the country, leaving more than 800,000 without power. 70-mile-per-hour wind
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gusts from ohio to maine splintered and uprooted trees. a tornado touched near boston and after the storm a kaleidoscope sky over fenway and a scare of those in washington as lightning hit a crane. in sheffield, pennsylvania 15-year-old alexis turner was killed while camping in the allegheny national forest with 25 other teens and counselors. >> there is a number of trees down and came and fell into the camp site. >> three others hurt. in new jersey just across the bridge from philadelphia a possible tornado flipped cars at this mall parking lot. >> it was scary. the rain just came in. >> tonight much of the midwest including chicago is bracing for more severe storms after getting slammed by at least 17 tornados the past two days. >> all right, mike seidel from the weather channel, thank you. a developing situation we're monitoring in southern california. a brush fire burning dangerously close to
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homes near santa clorita. late details for us rehemaellis. >> more than 1,000 people have been evacuated. intense flames fueled by dry areas and heavy brush created thick smoke that covered more than 100 acres. authorities fighting the blaze from the air with water-dropping helicopters and air tanks and with more than 400 firefighters on the ground. they are trying to save about 500 homes. tonight, one firefighter was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and authorities are still investigating how the fire began. lester? >> rehema ellis in the los angeles newsroom tonight, thanks. >> authorities in upstate new york said the search area for the escaped killers is 75 square miles, an area larger than washington d.c. the hunter that
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surprised sweat sweatand matt saturday gave them the best chance yet of capturing them but the killers may have slipped through the dragnet around the cabin. there are 13 republican candidate os officially running for president obama as louisiana governor bobby jindal jumped into the race today. the conservative lawmaker released an announcement showing jindal and his wife speaking to their three young children about their decision. there is new hope tonight in the battle against one of the deadliest forms of cancer. nearly 49,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in this country, often by the time it's caught it's too late because there is no way to detect it early but today we got word of a new test that could change that in the future. ann thompson has more on that. >> reporter: actor patrick swayze, michael landon, opera singer luciano pavarotti, these are some of the high-profile faces of pancreatic cancer.
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most patients die within the first year of diagnosis. five-year survival is just 7%. today a study in the journal "nature" says a blood test may be the answer to identifying this disease in its early stages. the test looks for a single molecule, a protein produced by cancer cells that researchers say is a potential bio marker for pancreatic cancer. >> they found that normal people don't have it, people with pancreas cancer do have it in high levels. >> reporter: the test could be used to screen people with high-risk factors including a family history of pancreatic cancer, smoking and pancreatitis. and symptoms such as stomach pain, jaundice, and loss of appetite. >> is this blood test ready for general use? >> this blood test is not ready for general use. it's a very promising bio marker that needs further study. >> reporter: there's enthusiasm tonight to do more studies on this test for a disease that kills 40,000 americans a year. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. there's a lot more
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to tell you about here tonight. still ahead, sleepless in america. the habit so many americans just can't seem to break. phones and tablet's in bed. those glowing screens keeping us up all night. what doctors say you should do if you just can't turn them off. and later, a little boy with big moves and a big fan base even though he can't hear them cheering on him. how he and his teammates developed a winning game plan, coming up.
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tonight we begin a special series we're calling "sleepless in america," and here's an eye opener. the cdc has called lack of sleep a public health epidemic, and most sleep experts say all our digital devices we're taking into the bedroom are taking a toll on getting a good night's rest. nbc's hallie jackson now on kicking the habit. >> reporter: at 10:00 p.m. bedtime's just beginning for danny fulton. tonight like every night he turns to his tablet, then his phone, some tv and the phone again. >> you watch 1:00 a.m. go and then 2:00 a.m. go and then 3:00 a.m. >> reporter: scrolling and squirming. >> i reach for the phone. that can start with a simple work e-mail or a skype message, and it may end with youtube videos or a wikipedia page. you just never know. >> reporter: after just four hours of sleep dan is up again for good. >> ended up dozing off about 3:00 a.m. >> reporter: he heads to work, functioning but barely. >> i'm addicted to the device at some point. >> reporter: why not put it in a drawer or in another room when you go to bed? >> i can't break free from it. >> reporter: experts
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say it's no coincidence 95% of us look at some kind of screen within an hour of bedtime and 85% have trouble falling asleep. >> with all the devices that we carry around, hold right next to our face and check our e-mails or watch movies or whatever it is delaying what our brain interprets as sunset. >> reporter: the blue light from those screens send a signal it's still daylight, triggering a surge of energy and blocking the melatonin that makes us sleepy. no wonder then that with the device on nearly every nightstand one in three people sleeps less than six hours a day, raising the risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. danny knows the risk. after a lifetime of struggling to sleep. >> i know that long term it's going to have -- it would have the potential for grave consequences. it's shortening my life. >> the solution seems obvious. get more sleep. but how? >> get the electronics out of the bedroom. the bedroom should be reserved for sleep and sex. that's about it. >> reporter: doctors
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recommend shutting off all your screens an hour before bed. but if that feels impossible, at least use an app to flip the background so it's black with white letters. that'll have less of an effect on your system. and start good habits early. >> meanwhile, the -- >> reporter: like the stevensons. 11-year-old raphael can only use his phone and play video games downstairs. >> we made this a complete electronic-free zone. >> reporter: the bedroom is for books only. >> it really helps me a lot. >> reporter: it works for kids and adults. so don't just dream of disconnecting. better sleep for most of us is just a click away. hallie jackson, nbc news, lexington, kentucky. >> tomorrow night we're going to look at so-called sleep divorce. this is happily married couples forced to sleep in separate rooms. coming up here next tonight, late word from the family of whitney houston about the condition of her daughter, bobbi kristina.
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tonight after
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months in the hospital bobbi kristina brown is moved to hospice care. her aunt pat houston says she's in god's hands now revealing her condition continuesed to deteriorate since she was found unhave responsive in a bathtub in january, similar to the way her mother died three years ago. he had close to a dozen albums in the top ten but nearly after half a century of making music, james taylor hit number one. the 67-year-old singer's topped all others. it took him 45 years to reach the top spot. that length of time is second only tony bennett who waited 54 years after his debut to have a number one album. how sweet it is indeed. when we come back the eight-year-old who won't let anything hold him back from achieving his hoop dreams.
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area homes. ===take vo=== we'll have a live report as crews fight for control of the fireline. ===take vo raj=== plus, a local 6 year old goes to the capitol... to save his own life. ===next close=== next. ==raj/take live== right now at 6: our breaking finally tonight, we want you to meet a young basketball player with his sights set on the nba. he's taking on a challenge that sets him apart from most. but with the help of his team and a dedicated dad, he's out to prove he can accomplish anything. nbc's jenna wolfe spent some time with him. >> reporter: there's one thing everybody knows about zeke ortiz. he loves basketball.
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from shooting hoops in his back yard to competing with the maryland playmakers. but for this 8-year-old the palpable excitement of the game is experienced like this. [ no sound ] zeke and his brother and parents and much of his extended family are deaf. his aunt, who can hear, interpreted for us. >> what do you want to be when you grow up, zeke? >> a pro basketball player. >> reporter: earlier this year this little kid made a big decision. he left his deaf team to join a more competitive league where he's the only deaf player. >> at the very first practice zeke kept looking at us saying i don't understand, i don't understand. and we said it's okay, just watch, just try to figure it out. >> reporter: having spent most of his life among deaf people, for the first time he felt lost. >> everybody was talking, and i didn't know what they were saying or what to do. >> reporter: so his dad started coming to every practice, giving up the stands for the sidelines. >> i watched what was going on. i knew what the
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practice plays were. i would essentially interpret that for zeke. >> reporter: the coaches got creative, drawing plays on boards and using gestures to communicate. as the players got to know zeke, the dynamic on the court started to change. >> they'll use their own little sign language, but somehow they know how to communicate amongst each other. >> i point at him, then i point at the shooter. >> how do you say like okay, there's a time out, come over here? >> reporter: on the day we joined zeke at practice, i put his fearless shooting style to the test in a game of horse. refusing to take it easy on someone far shorter than i am, i offered up this. only to be schooled with this. >> no! >> reporter: this team of ten has come a long way together. >> is he a good basketball player? >> yeah. >> the best. >> reporter: with the help of his team, this new kid who at first struggled to find his place is now exactly where he belongs. jenna wolfe, nbc news, frederick, maryland. >> and good luck to zeke and his team in the national
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championship this weekend. go get 'em, guys. that's going to do it for us on a wednesday night. i'm lester holt. thanks for watching, and have a good night, everyone. right now at 6: our breaking nbc 11 bay area news begins with breaking news. >> 6:00 breaking news in antioch, live pictures from our nbc 11 chopper. this is a grass fire moving dangerously close to a neighborhood. good evening. thank you for being with us. >> let's take you outside, so you can see it. our chopper over the contra lomas regional park. the fire started at 4:00 in the afternoon, burned 100 acres so far and is already threatening homes. 30 homes along grimsby have been evacuated now. we're talking about two dozen homes along grimsby drive.
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an evacuation center has been set up on mira vista park. which is north of that reservoir. >> at times, the flames have been intense. dangerous mix out there, dry grass, heat and wind we have been going over it for several months now. the real dangers, as we said those homes along grimsby drive were 30 homes have been evacuated. the facility is at the contra lomas reservoir have been cleared. jeff ranieri, we have been watching this burn since our 5:00 newscast. in terms of wind direction, it looks moderate but you tell us which direction the winds are going, where the smoke is going and how visible we can see it because we have seen reports now from people on highway 4, 680 and all the way across in san francisco, you can barely see it as well. >> the winds now really aren't helping the situation at all. they're coming out of the west and moving towards the east 10 to 20 miles per hour. flames directly towards ss