tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 10, 2009 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
on the broadcast tonight -- back on track. a new general motors is out of bankruptcy in record time. but there are speed bumps ahead. world stage -- from an audience with the pope to a heroes' welcome in africa, president obama stays in the spotlight. but what has been accomplished? dismal discovery -- grief and disbelief as the original coffin of a civil rights icon is found rotted in ruins. and making a difference -- finding a peaceful haven after war with an activity that fits these wounded warriors to a tee. plus, what do you do when your state pays you with an icht ou and your bank says "no thanks." ou and your bank says "no thanks." "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. i'm lester holt in tonht for brian williams. less than two months ago there was a virtual deathwatch over general motors. but billions of government dollars later after what amounts to a pit stop in bankruptcy, gm is tonight free from court supervision. a new gm, if you will, tried to move back into the fast lane with a slimmer look and new ways of selling cars. the reinvigorated company is even talking about repaying the massive government loans ahead of the 2015 deadline. but no matter what road gm travels going forward, it will be looking out of the same rocky economic landscape. so, what's the strategy? phil lebeau covers the auto industry for cnbc, he joins us from detroit with more. phil, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. strange as it sounds, going through bankruptcy may have been the easy part of fixing gm. now comes the tough part. winning over skeptical american car buyers. >> an exciting day for general motors.
>> reporter: 40 days after declaring bankruptcy, general motors emerges from court protection leaner promising to be a greener company focused on the customer. >> we know we have to change. today is about beginning the change. >> reporter: backed by $33 billion in federal money, gm used bankruptcy to shed $40 billion in debt, start closing 13 plants and cutting 27,000 jobs, including 35% of its u.s. executives. a massive restructuring that ran through the courts with incredible speed. >> this is basically michael phelps in beijing. it's that fast. it's that remarkable. there are almost no words to describe it. >> reporter: downsizing from eight brands to four, chevy, cadillac, gmc and buick, gm is dropping 2,400 dealers across the country. while it still sells one out of every five cars in the u.s., gm has yet to find a way to stop losing market share. >> they have got to talk t customers the way customers are used to being talked to.
if that is twitter for some that's what it will be. >> reporter: gm started using twitter and facebook to reach younger buyers and the bigger challenge is changing the perceptions of americans who think gm models are lackluster and poorly built. enter gm veteran bob lutz, now in charge of marketing the automaker, colorful, candid, and some times controversial, lutz once called the role of cars in global warming a crock. >> look it is immaterial. >> reporter: lutz now has to find the right message to convince skeptics who have written off gm. >> i think there is a desire to see general motors succeed. and, my job, is to translate that desire to succeed into a desire to, for more people to buy our cars and trucks. >> reporter: there are still a number of americans willing to give general motors a second chance. in fact a recent nbc news poll found that 75% of ose surveyed might consider buying a big three model as a way to help out
the struggling automakers. lester. phil lebeau, thanks. turning to president obama's trip overseas where he wrapped up the g-8 summit capped off his last day in italy with an audience with the pope. then it was on to africa where the first family has just arrived in ghana, their last stop before returning home. we begin our coverage, where the day began, nbc's chief white house correspondent chuck todd reports from rome. >> reporter: the final summit gathering included more than two dozen leaders in addition to the g-8 powers. suggesting this group has outgrown itself. >> everybody wants the smallest possible group, smallest possible organization, that includes them. >> reporter: mr. obama's fifth summit and his presidency isn't even 6 months old. he says they're still necessary because the united nations has dropped the ball. >> there is a sense that when it comes to big, tough problems, the u.n. general assembly is not always working as effectively and rapidly as it needs to. >> reporter: the president called the summit highly
productive despite the fact that most accomplishments were simply pledges on climate change, iran, nuclear proliferation, securing loose nuclears, economic stimulus. finally the president credited his own personal intervention for the member nations decision to increase food aid for poorer nations mostly in africa from $15 billion to $20 billion. >> when my father traveled to the united states from kenya to study, at that time the per capita income and gross domestic product of kenya was higher than south korea's. today, obviously, south korea is a highly developed and relatively wealthy country and kenya is still struggling. >> reporter: he said with comprehensive planning, african countries can match the prosperity but didn't shy away from gently admonishing african leaders on what needs to change. >> in many african countries if you want to start a business or get a job you still have to pay a bribe.
>> reporter: it was not quite good-bye from italy. he had one final stop, the vatican. for any president, meeting the pope is one of those when in rome opportunities. politically though for mr. obama it is a chance for him to connect to the one in four americans who are catholic. >> it is a great honor for me. >> thank you so much. >> repter: they began with a face to face conversation in their official role. then the first family and senior staff members joined the president. for a traditional audience and blessing from pope benedict xvi. chuck todd, nbc news, traveling with the president in rome. in ghana, anticipati of the obamas visit has gripped the west african nation for weeks. our own mara schiavocampo is in the capital city of accra, where
the locals are celebrating president obama's arrival. mara, good evening. good eveng, lester. president obama's arrival ends weeks of eager anticipation, and it was more than apparent in the days leading up to his visit. on the streets of accra, and the party started long before the guest of honor arrived. members of this fan club, friends of obama, have been celebrating all week. >> translator: welcome home. welcome to africa. welcome to ghana. >> reporter: this man believes president obama's visit will inspire the entire nation. what does this torch represent? >> we are lighting this torch because president obama is coming to ghana to signify that from this time on we will change the way we think and go about everything we do. >> reporter: ghanaians are
welcoming obama like a native son. for vendors selling souvenirs, it makes no difference that president obama's family is from an entireldifferent country. >> barack obama is kenyan, but ghanans are proud of him. >> he is african. we are proud of him. >> reporter: the anticipation isn't just on the streets it is pervasive. you can see today the front page of almost every local paper has obama on it. the streets are full of billboards and signs, and the radios are even playing obama music. ♪ people are coming from all over the country to do just that. this 12-year-old and his dad traveled from 160 miles away. why did you come here to accra this week? >> i came to meet obama. >> reporter: the man everyone says he resembles. >> they call me, obama, obama, obama every time. >> reporter: what part of you do you think looks most like barack? >> everywhere. >> reporter: felix sees himself
in obama and he is not the only one. obama has changed how many people here see themselves. >> the flame of change that we are lighting today and it is going to burn for the rest of our lives. >> reporter: now along with the excitement is a little bit of disappointment that the president won't be holding a large public event as so many people are hoping to catch just a glimpse of him in person. lester. >> mara, thank you. we turn now back to this country and to fri. and a double-murder that has stunned a community just outside pensacola. a couple killed in what was apparently a home invasion while eight of their children were also inside. nbc's mark potter is miami with the latest. mark. >> reporter: good evening, lester. police say they're looking for three suspects seen leaving the crime scene in a red van. the murders occurred after a break-in at a large rural home west of pensacola, florida. the ctims, burt anmelanie billings were shot multiple times while in their bedroom
around 7:00 thursday night. the billings were well known and well regarded locally because they had 16 children. 12 of whom they adopted. >> burt and melanie billings, i believe, exemplified what is good and decent in society. they have been prominently mentioned in the local media on numerous occasions for outreach and humanitarian efforts and assisting children with autism and downs syndrome. >> now, authorities say eight of the children ranging 8 to 14 were in the house at the time of the murders but none of them was hurt. police say they do not have a motive for the killings. and would not say if anything was taken from the home. lester. mark potter in miami tonight. mark, thank you for that. in suburban chicago, t scandal at an historic cemetery got even worse today. in a story we first told you about last night. cemetery workers are charged with digging up bodies to re-sell gravesites.
now another disturbing discovery involving emmett till, the teenager whose murder galvanized the civil rights movement. kevin tibbles has more on the investigation from illinois. >> reporter: again today, hundreds came to the burr oaks cemetery trying to locate loved ones they thought had been laid to rest. >> what do you do when you come out here and you can't find your family? >> reporter: it is here that emmett till, an icon of the civil rights movement, is buried. till was 14 in 1955, when he was brutally murdered in mississippi. his mother so angered by the mutilated state of her son's body insisted on an open casket so the world could see. this week in the back of a run-down cemetery garage, authorities discovered his original glass-covered casket, rotted and ruined. his body, buried elsewhere in the cemetery, had not been disturbed. >> let's walk over there. >> today the reverend jesse jackson who says the till murder changed his life looked on in horror.
>> boundless grief, the disregard for all that matters is what we see here today. >> reporter: this must break your heart? >> it is heartbreaking. it is painful to see. >> reporter: emmett till's body was exhumed during a 2005 re-examination into his death and reburied in another coffin. to find the original in such a state compounds his family's anguish. >> this is another atrocity in his life. >> reporter: for many this derelict coffin should be a museum piece, a symbol of the civil rights movement. >> this is a pivotal point. >> to see this here today? >> it hurts. >> reporter: tonight the investigation continues into how many hundreds of other families have suffered similar outrage. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. when "nightly news" continues on this friday evening -- california's budget mess. the state gives out ious, but the people receiving them feel like they're the ones paying the price. later, wounded veterans getting back into the swing of things thanks to onef their
own who is making a difference. later, wounded veterans getting back into the swing of things thanks to one of their own who is making a difference. . doctor says it's p.a.d. peripheral artery disease? hmmm. more than doubles your risk for a heart attack or stroke. so i hear. better ask your doctor about plavix. plavix can help protect you from a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes. my cousin the m.d. call your doctor about plavix. (male announcer) if you have a stomach ulcer or other condition that causes bleeding, you should not use plavix. when taking plavix alone or with some other medicines including aspirin, the risk of bleeding may increase so tell your doctor before planning surgery. and, always talk to your doctor before taking aspirin or other medicines with plavix, especially if you've had a stroke. if you develop fever, unexplained weakness or confusion, tell your doctor promptly as these may be signs of a rare bupotentially life-threatening condition called ttp, which has been reported rarely, sometimes in less than two weeks after starting therapy. other rare but serious side effects may occur.
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♪ now to california's now to california's budget crisis. as lawmakers and governor arnold schwarzenegger fight over the state's $26 billion deficit. the state's been paying its bills with ious. as of today the big banks are saying don't bring them in here. nbc's george lewis reports from los angeles. >> reporter: the state of california has been running the printing presses like crazy. sending creditors these ious. that's because the governor and the legislature can't agree on a budget. so there is no real money to pay bills. >> this is the harsh reality in the crisis that we face. >> it's stupidity at a level that i have not seen in government since i arrived in california 15 years ago. >> reporter: liz forer runs this medical clinic in los angeles, the clinic depends on state
funds and while it is not in imminent danger of closing down, forer, says it is irresponsible for the state to operate without a budget. >> we're expected to manage our business every day. the state has the same responsibility. they failed. >> reporter: the state controller issued 102,000 ious, taling $390 million. by the end of the month it could go up to $3 billion. >> this is the worst fiscal times in california history since the great depression. >> reporter: so far, banks have been redeeming the ious for cash. that is about to end. after today, many major banks including bank of america say they will stop honoring the ious. and say they don't want to give the state any incentives to keep dragging out its budget problems. that touched off an explosion of online offers by entrepreneurs willing to buy the ious at a discount. the securities and exchange commission is trying to stop anyone but licensed brokers from doing this.
and back at the medical clinic, as the patients wait to be treated, the clinic waits for the governor and the legislature to act. >> essentially they're in a stalemate at this point. and it is not acceptable. >> reporter: a stalemate that could have a huge negative impact not only california's economy but the nation's as well. george lewis, nbc news, los angeles. on wall street today, a mixed finish -- the dow was down almost 37 points. finishing its fourth down week in a row. the nasdaq managed to gain 3 1/2 points. the s & p lost 3 1/2. in suburban philadelphia, the head of a swim club spoke out today against charges of racism after the cancellation of memberships offered to camps that include dozens of minority children. one day camp director said her campers heard club members come -- complain because visiting kids were black. the president of the valley club insists the organization was simply overwhelmed by the number of kids who showed up. >> inviting a number of camps to
our pool was an error in judgment by our part. we underestimated our capacity to handle this many children in a safe environment. pennsylvania senator arlen specter says he is opening an investigation into the incide. when we come back, prayer and protest. a police crackdown on rship.trators near a place of i was in the grocery store when i had a heart attack.
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officials say the death toll is rising following ethnic riots in the western chinese city of urumqi. at least 184 people died in street battles that raged between vighur and han ethnic groups. prayers were canceled by city officials. as we hear from nbc's ian williams, the faithful ignored those orders. >> reporter: no call for prayer rching riot police.ants of minarets were used for surveillance, the muslim vighurs told to stay away and pray at home. they gathered all the same. as tension rose, word spread at one mosque at least the authorities had backed down. so they ran towards the sound of prayer. hundreds crowding the courtyard and surrounding alleyways of the mosque. a moment of prayer, an act of defiance.
it was a short friday prayer, 10 to 15 minutes. the atmosphere outside here remains extremely tense. there was anger and frustration as they poured out of the mosque. >> translator: this is our land, but we can't survive in our own land, this man said. >> reporter: the vighur's grievances run deep and they make up less than half the population of their home region because of massive migration of han chinese the country's dominant ethnic group. both communities blame each other for this week's violence. this vighur woman showed me photos of her 15-year-old daughter missing since armed police swept the area monday. the han chinese can't understand why the vighurs rioted against them and their businesses. for this man who arrived here four months ago to sell auto supplies this is the land of economic opportunity. it's easy to make money here he told me. to the han, china is bringing prosperity to its fastest
growing region. this evening, the arrests continue. in a city tense but subdued, the two communities, more apart than ever. ian williams, nbc news, urumqi. when "nightly news" returns this friday. making a difference. a unique golf course that is helping injured veterans get back into the game. helping injured veterans get back into the game. yes, we do. and we can say 700 miles on a single tank and epa estimated 41 mpg city and all the words stick because they're true. we speak the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in america. we speak the all-new 2010 ford fusion hybrid. get in... and drive one. we speak the all-new discover a smoothieybrid. like no other! new activia smoothies. creamy, delicious, and above all, it contains bifidus regularis and is clinically proven to help regulate yourigestive system.
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now to our regular friday making a difference report. tonight the story of some war veterans linking up on the links and finding a fairway to recovery. nbc's chris jansen reports. >> reporter: he looks every inch the all-around athlete he once was until you glance down. >> i got wounded by an ied in northern iraq in '05. >> reporter: at 29 he lost his lower right leg and his sense of self. >> in your mind you think you are able to get up and do things
but your body iselling you no. you make it look easy, pepper. >> reporter: his world seemingly in tatters, he was convinced to take up golf at the american lakes veterans course. much more than a place to play, it has become a haven for wounded warriors. a saving grace delivered by other veterans. who repair clubs, man the kitchen, and tend the ground. every dollar used to run american lakes is raised by volunteers. every job done by vonteers. when they needed a new sprinkler system, volunteers dug the ditches. their average age, 72. >> it took us a little over a year. we could only work them every other day. then they would have to rest. korea veten pepper roberts is chief organizer and golf pro. his latest student, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the general is facing the toughest battle of his life, recovering from a stroke. >> it is an excellent opportunity to show that because you have a physical or emotional jury doesn't mean your life
has to come to an end. >> come on. come on. come on. come on. >> reporter: from his wheelchair, he is leadina new fund-raising campaign for american lakes. to help vets like joe gerber. >> nice to meet you. >> hi, i'm john shali. >> reporter: he suffered traumatic brain injuries in iraq. >> when you meet someone that has gone through what you have gone through. you build a bond that can't be built by anything else. >> reporter: helping to restore health and hope -- >> there you go! >> reporter: -- one friendship, one helping hand, one drive at a time. chris jansing, lakeland, washington. >> there you go! that is our broadcast for this friday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt. i will see you tomorrow morning on "today" and back here tomorrow night. for brian williams and all of us tomorrow night. for brian williams and all of us at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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