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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  September 20, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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on this sunday night, crossing the line. the new campaign's uproar, ben carson questions whether a muslim should ever be president. tonight, trump and now carson, caught up in controversy over politics, and religion. the dramatic rescue after a yacht catches fire and four people are plucked from the water by good samaritans. historic visit. the pope in cuba celebrating mass for hundreds of thousands. then, a one-on-one with fidel castro. security threat. why hackers are now targeting university computers. what's being done to stop them? and, best-seller. remembering jackie collins who seduced millions of readers with her tales of power and lust. "nightly news" begins now.
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from nbc world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news." reporting tonight, tamron hall. >> good evening, we begin tonight with yet another controversial comment from a gop candidate for president. and this time it's not donald trump. dr. ben carson is now under fire for comments he made today to our own chuck todd on "meet the press." carson saying he does not believe a muslim should be president. his remarks now another distraction for the republican party. nbc's holly jackson joins us with more. >> good evening, tamron. ben carson's campaign tells me he probably will reach out to members of the muslim community, as tonight there's new fallout from those comments, with one group calling on carson to drop out of this race altogether. from a typically soft-spoken candidate, a response making lots of noise today, after ben carson was asked on "meet the press"
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whether a president's faith should matter to voters? >> if it fits within the realm of america and consistent with the constitution, i have no problem. >> so you believe that islam is consistent with the constitution? >> no, i don't -- i do not. i would not advocate that we put a muslim in charge of this nation. i absolutely would not agree with that. >> the comments, seizing the spotlight in the republican race. >> the constitution provides that there should be no religious test for public office. and i'm a constitutional. >> reporter: article 6 states no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office. that clause cited by muslim american advocates who are now calling on carson to withdraw from the race. >> it shouldn't be just american muslims who are calling for mr. carson to withdraw, or at least to repudiate these kinds of un-american comments. it should be our nation's political and religious leaders,
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from all parts of the political spectrum. >> reporter: carson's campaign today clarifying his remarks. saying, while carson has great respect for the muslim community and believes the muslims should be allowed to run, he just doesn't believe the american people are ready for that. just last week donald trump didn't denounce a questioner who called muslims a problem in the u.s. today elaborating. >> i have friends that are muslims. they're great people, amazing people. but, we certainly do have a problem. i mean you have a problem throughout the world. >> what's the problem? >> well, you have radicals that are doing things. i mean, it wasn't people from sweden that blew up the world trade center, jake. >> reporter: trump, still the gop front-runner after last week's debate, according to an nbc online survey but he didn't pick up much support. carly fiorina did, emerging as the clear winner. and in a different poll taken before he made his controversial remarks today, ben carson dropped five points. these now the top tier stangds. the rest of the field
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barely registering. some republican candidates, when asked about a potential muslim-american president, pointed out it would ultimately be up to the voters to make that decision. and according to a poll out this summer, 60% of americans say they would back a muslim candidate. there's less support among republicans. 45%. tamron? >> all right, hallee, thank you very much. >> in arizona we're learning more about the evidence police say led them to a suspect in custody tonight charged with some of the highway shootings in the phoenix area. this as the man's family says the wrong person is behind bars. we get the latest tonight from nbc. >> reporter: shaking his head as the charges were listed. >> four counts of endangerment -- >> reporter: police say the suspect leslie allen merritt jr. a 21-year-old landscaper terrorized drivers along i-10. he was arrested friday night at this walmart.
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>> all i have to say is that i'm the wrong guy. i tried telling the detectives that. my gun's been in the pawn shop for the last two months. i haven't even had access to a weapon. >> reporter: his bond set at $1 million. >> i could never afford that bond. i got two kids. >> reporter: police say merritt's gun was linked to the first four of the highway shootings. and according to a court document, the gun was not in pawn status during the time of the shootings. >> the crime lab test-fired the firearm pawned by what we believe to be mr. merritt. the test-fired bullets were matched to bullet fragments from four casings over the last weekend in august. >> reporter: investigators say merritt sold the gun to this arizona pawn shop. today the pawn manager didn't want to go on camera, but said they assisted with the investigation. merritt was no stranger to guns. he even posted this video of him shooting on facebook. his father says merritt is innocent. >> my son would honestly, literally, take the shirt off his back and give it to someone if he felt they were in need. >> reporter: meanwhile
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another person of interest, oscar munoz arrested last week on unrelated charges, has been released from jail. his charges dropped. the manhunt began three weeks ago. rob earth mcdonald narrowly missed being struck while driving his bus. >> i want him to know that he almost took me away from my wife and my two kids. >> reporter: but there are still seven other incidents along i-10 that need to be solved, and the $50,000 reward for information and the warning for drivers will remain for now. this week more details are expected to be released in this case, including when this gun may have been pawned. investigators are also still looking into the possibility of copycat shooters. tamron? >> thank you very much for that report. a close call off the coast of texas this weekend after a boat caught fire and four people found themselves in a very dangerous situation. thankfully there were others nearby who came to the rescue. nbc's janet shamlian has that story.
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>> reporter: horrifying moments as cell phone video captures a boat engulfed in flame off the coast of galveston. >> thick, black smoke. the vessel was completely engulfed in flames. by the time we arrived on scene. >> reporter: college student michael marquez was captaining a charter boat nearby. immediately he cut the fishing lines and raced over to the burning vessel. >> i was just praying to god. i was saying blows don't blow up. please don't blow up. >> reporter: on board and among the flames, four people, including a child, unsure of what to do. >> we were screaming, you know, throw the kid. throw the kid. get him in the water. that was my priority was to get him safe and on my boat. >> reporter: the 6-year-old in a life jacket picked up first. then his mom was rescued. a second charter captain also sped to the burning boat, and rescued the father. >> you take a oath as a captain that you're going to help somebody if their lives are in danger. so take that pretty seriously. >> reporter: the captain rescued by a third boat had a few bumps and bruises. >> it's always a big deal to see someone
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with a fire on a boat, so i knew we had to get them off of there quick. >> reporter: with the coast guard now on the scene, everyone was safe. what triggered the fire still unknown. >> with kids aboard the vessel, i felt like that was my goal was to get them to safety. and absolutely, i'd do it again, without any hesitation. >> reporter: good s samaritans who in a frightening life or death moment raced toward danger, instead of away. janet shamlian, nbc news, houston. from california tonight, an update on the battle against wildfires in that state. officials say more than 10,000 firefighters are still battling ten active wildfires. the so-called valley fire in northern california is now half contained. but has consumed more than 75,000 acres, and burned almost 900 homes. and the butte fire has now burned over 70,000 acres and 500 houses. it is now 70% contained. those fires are among the most destructive
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in california's history. as the humanitarian crisis grows on in europe, secretary of state john kerry said today the u.s. will take in more refugees than previously announced. 85,000 next year, and 100,000 in 2017. activists urge the country to accept even more. meanwhile, the struggle by thousands of migrants and refugees trying to make it to western europe continues today along the border between hungary and croatia. nbc's bill neely is there. >> reporter: this is what desperation looks like. trapped for days, migrants storm a train. they've little idea of where it's going but they want to escape to germany. thousands of them. police try to hold them back. there's chaos as a man tries to drag his child on board, and fails. left behind, wives, children. to keep order croatian police have separated
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most men from their families. >> the biggest problem that we have here is that families are being ripped apart. >> reporter: the police simply can't cope. so many refugees are sick. this little girl from syria has a fever. thankfully a father, too. there are just so many. more than 20,000 migrants passing through this one railroad stop alone. the police are here to make sure the migrants get out. they're not wanted here, or in any of the neighboring nations. and they're now in a race to reach any friendly country before the doors close. >> i want to continue my study in germany. >> reporter: most are young men, but so many are children. living outside in plunging temperatures. unfortunately, we sleep here, on the ground. without anything. it was very cold. suddenly the weather has turned to cold, and raining. >> reporter: seranoy, her name means flower,
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was born a refugee on the road three weeks ago. no home, and no country to call her own. yet. on croatia's border with hungary, troops have moved in. the hungarians toughening their hard line, building more fences to keep migrants out. but still they come, every day, finding new escape routes. tonight, like every night, ready for the next train to a new life. some, of course, never make it this far. two boatloads of migrants overturned off greece today. many are missing. many drowned, including four children. europe's leaders are bitterly divided over how to solve this. they failed so far. they will, however, have another emergency summit to try to solve this. but not until wednesday. tamron? >> all right, bill neely, thank you very much. two americans are free tonight after being held for nearly six months in yemen. 45-year-old scott
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darden from louisiana, and 54-year-old sam feron from michigan arrived in oman tonight after that country helped secure their release by rebels fighting yemen's government. a third american is still being held. in cuba today, hundreds of thousands of people came to see and hear pope francis on the second day of his historic visit to that country. and the pope came face to face today with fidel castro. who suppressed religion for decades under the communist revolution. nbc's anne thompson has our report tonight from havana. >> reporter: as the icon to the communist takeover, pope francis rolls into havana's revolution square to celebrate sunday mass. a living symbol of inspiration for many of the cuban people. what is driving that enthusiasm? >> i guess the hope. the hope. we have a lot of hope. >> reporter: and why do you have hope? what makes you hopeful?
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>> it's not only what he's saying, but what he's doing. >> reporter: dora lopez says she's impressed by the pope's efforts to improve relations between cuba and the u.s. >> they're trying to help, that has been affecting the cuban economy. >> reporter: in 90 degree heat and 91% humidity 300,000 listened to francis encourage them to serve others. the mass was not without incident. three protesters rushed the popemobile. they were taken into custody. their leaflets tossed into the sky. and one man thrown to the ground. it is not clear what they were protesting. the relative freedom of the church in this once atheist country has been hard-won. mass is now celebrated openly. and the church is filling the holes in cuba's great social safety net with programs like this. for children with mental and physical challenges. the approach embodied by francis is criticized by some. miriam, a cuban
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dissident and human rights activist calls it why. >> it's the able to be able to exchange views, to get close to the people, to interact and to influence. influence on the people, but influence on the government. >> reporter: today this pastoral visit had its political moment. meeting between raul castro and a half-hour private meeting with his brother, former cuban leader fidel castro. more evidence of how francis' appeal seems to transcend the church. >> the pope of the people. not only catholic, but of the entire world. >> reporter: now, tomorrow, pope francis leaves havana and heads to rural cuba. and one of this country's holiest sites. then he turns his sights to the united states. tamron? >> all right, arne, thank you very much. when "nightly news" continues on this sunday the threat of cyber ataks has america's college campuses beefing up america's college campuses beefing up computer s romantic moments can happen spontaneously,
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when a wildfire raged through elkhorn ranch, the sudden loss of pasture became a serious problem for a family business. faced with horses that needed feeding and a texas drought that sent hay prices soaring, the owners had to act fast. thankfully, mary miller banks with chase for business. and with greater financial clarity and a relationship built for the unexpected, she could control her cash flow, and keep the ranch running. chase for business. so you can own it. chase for business. the possibility of a flare swas almost always on my mind. thinking about what to avoid, where to go... and how to deal with my uc. to me, that was normal. until i talked to my doctor. she told me that humira helps people like me get uc under control and keep it under control when certain medications haven't worked well enough. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened;
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network tying to the its 24 campuses. it's a response to a hacking attack on computers at the engineering school that lasted undetected for more than two years. university officials say the breach exposed student i.d.s and passwords and potentially information on advanced research for the department of defense and other clients. >> we have a lot of really smart people here doing state-of-the-art research. they are making discoveries that have the potential to be transformational. they also have the potential to have great commercial value. >> reporter: the school says the hack attack originated from china. but couldn't say whether it was state sponsored. penn state is by no means alone. the nation's college campuses, especially those doing advanced research, are tempting targets for cyber attackers looking for valuable ideas to steal. how often does this happen? ask a leading cyber detective. >> from 2006 to 2013, 550 universities have reported some type of data breach. >> reporter: michael
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oppenheim is computer security firm fireeye says hackers in china, beyond seeking the latest research, might also be looking for people to spy on. >> could be, you know, used for traditional espionage reasons, you know, human intelligence collection. they might want to try and collect information on students of that university, or possibly faculty or the professors of that university. >> reporter: other recent targets, the universities of virginia and connecticut now among schools spending more to beef up their cyber defenses. at rutgers in new jersey, school officials say they'll spend up to $3 million on computer security, one reason for bumping up tuition. back at penn state students now face a more secure process for logging in to the computer system using two forms of i.d. as universities struggle to keep information open to young minds, but not to prying eyes. pete williams, nbc news, state college, pennsylvania. and when we come back, we pull the curtain back on the lives of rich and famous and gained
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her novels were all about glamour and scandal. selling hundreds of millions of copies. this was the world of jackie collins. the best-selling author who died this weekend. here's nbc's ron allen. >> reporter: jackie collins was a prolific writer, celebrity and hollywood insider who claims her book told the real truths about the lives of the rich and famous and infamous. >> the glamorous, the sexy, the super rich, they're wilder than you can imagine. >> reporter: steamy, scandalous stories, married lovers, lovers and players, confessions of a wild child. 32 best sellers. 500 million copies in 40 countries.
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and hollywood loved it all. turning her work into movies and mini series. like "hollywood wives." >> how can you do that? >> reporter: collins was born in great britain, started writing at age 12. stories so provocative she got kicked out of school. and sent to america to live with her older sister, actress joan collins of "dynasty" fame. farewell to my beautiful, brave sister she tweeted. i will love you and miss you forever. collins was 77 and died of breast cancer. a six-year battle she kept secret. while writing five books and stays in the spotlight. on british tv just last week. >> i think women should have very interesting lives and do everything they want to do before they get married. >> reporter: in what's said to be her final interview with "people" magazine collins said she had no regrets and wanted to be remembered for giving a great deal of people a great deal of pleasure. ron allen, nbc news, new york. and up next, the good dogs making life a lot easier for farmers who could use
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finally tonight, farming is tough work and it can be even more challenging for those with disabilities. but now, some of these farmers are getting a helping hand from some remarkable working dogs. here's nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: it's sunrise over the pastures of maysville, missouri. but to al today owen it looks more like this. he's legally blind. which can make being a farmer pretty tough. >> say there's a dip in the pasture where it's just dirt or sometimes i think that's a cow laying down, and it's not. >> reporter: owen lost her eyesight when she
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was just 10. >> i was a girl that stood in a closet. i hid my disability. >> reporter: in her 50s she got breast cancer and worried she wouldn't be able to help her husband at all around the farm. >> he's always been my caregiver and i wanted to be a partner. i didn't want to be a disabled, handicap. >> reporter: that's when owen met her new best friend. a border collie named sweet baby joe. given to her by farm dog usa. an organization that matches disabled farmers with dogs. >> we call the dogs four legged farm hands. >> reporter: jackie allen started farm dogs when she realized just how much dogs could help. >> retrieving buckets, retrieving tools. helping with mobility. >> reporter: so far farm dogs has helped a dozen farmers in missouri, nebraska, kansas and iowa. including a paraplegic. and another with a traumatic brain injury.
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on the owens farm, joe herds the cattle. giving her husband rick peace of mind. >> protection. i worry about her safety. i worry a lot less now than i did. >> good girl. >> reporter: for alda joe means even more. >> she's just made me open and say, you'll be all right. you can do anything you want to do. don't let your disability hold you back. >> reporter: a farmer, able to continue doing what she loves. and finding a new love in the process. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, maysville, missouri. >> that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. lester holt will be here tomorrow night. i'm tamron hall. for all of us here at nbc news, thank you for watching, good night.
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one of the classic venues in all of sports, lambeau field in green bay, which isconsin. tonight it's the site of "sunday night football" and a rematch of last season's nfc title game. last year's league mvp, aaron rodgers, threw for three touchdowns in the packers' win over chicago at soldier field a week ago. while russell wilson and the seahawks were surprised in their opener at st. louis, losing in overtime to the rams. tonight's week two matchup


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