tv NBC Nightly News NBC January 3, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
on the broadcast tonight, shipshape. the video the u.s. navy is not proud of. and tonight, a late development on what's going to happen to the man in the center of the picture. murder mystery. a gruesome discovery and now the question, who killed a prominent veteran's advocate and former pentagon official and why? the test that some say could revolutionize the way doctors find and treat cancer. out of the blue. what is killing thousands of birds and thousands of fish in separate incidents in the same state? a rare opportunity to buy an american food landmark. but it turns out flipping this property isn't so easy. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. tonight, nbc news has learned what the punishment will be for the captain of an aircraft carrier in the u.s. navy who has been caught as the on-air host of some onboard ship videotapes that are not suitable for a family audience. while the modern military is not necessarily modern family, times have changed. though some old habits, customs and traditions of life in the military have not. while this is one incident, its roots go very deep in the armed forces, and it's likely to open up a much wider conversation following this incident on the small screen. we begin tonight with our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. nave officials told nbc news that captain owen honors would
be temporarily relieved of his command of the aircraft carrier enterprise as early as tomorrow pending the navy's investigation into those controversial videos. that means he would not be in command of the ship when it sails off to afghanistan in a couple of weeks. this is what landed captain honors in all this trouble. a series of raunchy videos laced with profanity and gay bashing. they were produced aboard the enterprise four to five years ago when he was the ship's executive officer's second in command. >> i guess we won't be showing this to the kids at home, will we? [ bleep ]>> reporter: not only did he condone the videos, he took center stage, appearing in one edited shot as three different people. in flip-flops and a shower cap, he plays to the camera, revealing both men and women supposedly showering together. >> [ bleep ] you. >> reporter: in another segment, honors unleashes a barrage of hard-core profanity. at one point, honors and others engage in simulated sex acts,
unconcerned any of his crew may be offended. >> just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's a really good chance you're going to be offended tonight. >> reporter: while videos like this are not uncommon in the military, navy officials say these videos have crossed the line, calling them unappropriate and unacceptable in today's navy. investigators also want to find out how he was promoted to top commander of the enterprise, even after these videos were first discovered four years ago. >> his chain of command must have thought his benefit to the navy far outweighed the stupid things he was doing. >> he takes me to an intelligence briefing. >> reporter: he was known as a serious minded aviator and commander of an f-14 squadron. when he took tom brokaw over afghanistan in 2002. and more than 1,500 fellow sailors took to facebook to
express their admiration and support for honors. >> i've never heard a crew of a ship love their xo and a captain more than opie honors. >> reporter: but officials say these videos raise serious questions about honors' judgment and leadership. in fact, one of honors' former commanders told nbc news today that being a leader does not mean being an entertainer. otherwise, he said, you're just another guy on youtube. pentagon officials also predict that even temporarily relieving honors of his command will almost certainly signal an end to his career. brian? >> jim miklaszewski at the pentagon where this story will go on tomorrow. jim, thanks. now we turn to a just discovered murder that's stunned a lot of this nation's veterans and those who knew the victim, his name was john wheeler. he was a west point graduate who served three different republican presidents and was one of the original driving forces behind the vietnam veterans memorial in washington. on new year's eve, police discovered his body at a land
fill in delaware. our justice correspondent pete williams is with us with more on this discovery tonight. pete, good evening. >> reporter: delaware police are working now to reconstruct the last few days of john wheeler's life, hoping that will help them solve the mystery of who killed this prominent advocate for veterans and why. police discovered the body last friday morning at a land fill and over the weekend officially identified the victim as john wheeler, age 66, resident of northern delaware. but best known as the chairman of the vietnam veterans memorial fund, raising the money to build the wall. >> do our lives reflect the best that was in the lives of those whose names are on the walls of this memorial? >> reporter: police in newark, delaware are asking for public help in reconstructing his movements since december 28th. when he was last seen getting off an amtrak train to wilmington from washington, d.c. investigators say his body was apparently dumped into one of ten trash receptacles somewhere
along this route in newark. they're checking the locations where is the collection trucks stopped. john wheeler, a 19676 west point graduate, served in vietnam and became determined to hop nor the service of veterans after returning home to find a country turned against the war, as he would later recall. >> i felt like i had come back -- i might as well had gone to france. i did not feel part of our culture. i felt isolated. >> reporter: the founder of the group responsible for the vietnam memorial in washington says wheeler was passionate. >> many of his friends got killed during his military tour. he was a man who had a lot of pain, but he took his pain and he put it to good use. >> reporter: wheeler was involved in a recent controversy in court trying to block construction of a house across the street from his, that he claimed would block his view of the delaware river. tonight, police are declining to speculate on a possible motive or the cause of death. they're hoping that public tips
will help them come up with some of the answers to that. >> pete williams in our washington newsroom tonight. pete, thanks. there is health news tonight that's getting a lot of attention. it concerns a new blood test for cancer and the big question, of course, can it revolutionize both the detection and treatment of several different kinds of cancer. our chief science correspondent robert bazell has more on why this new test may or may not become a game changer. >> reporter: it is an impressive feat, extracting a few cancer cells out of a solid cancer tumor out of the billions of healthy cells in a simple blood sample. it's already working in early tests. the goal is to see how the cancer treatment is working and to test the cancer cells to see if other treatments might work better. >> so it would be a way of just with a blood sample, without having to biopsy a tumor, follow a tumor in real time. >> reporter: the charity, stand
up to cancer, which has aired star-studded telethons -- >> at some point in time cancer has touched someone in our lives. >> reporter: -- considers this effort one of its main priorities. >> reporter: today, pharmaceutical giant johnson&johnson, which owns the technology, announced it is sponsoring a research center to try to advance it quickly. >> now a large company is willing to develop the next generation of technology and bring it to the point where it can become a commercial product and start impacting patients everywhere. >> reporter: the key word is could. it will likely take several years to know if the technology can help patients. in a statement today, the american cancer society said today's news is an impressive step. but added our real hope is that the excitement we feel today translates into genuine impact and success in cancer treatment tomorrow. and brian, i think that sums it up. >> we always say we'll take our hope where we can get it. bob bazell, thanks as always.
president obama is counting down the final hours of his family vacation in hawaii. he returns tomorrow morning to a different washington than the city he left. our white house correspondent savannah guthrie with us tonight with a preview of what's to come in washington and savannah, starting with this, a lot of people have heard the republicans say they want to bring up obama's health care plan, bring it back up for a vote to defeat it. even though it's been signed, sealed and delivered. so how exactly will that work? >> reporter: house republicans say not so fast. they intend to hold a vote next week they've announced to repeal the health care law outright. now, this will likely pass the house because republicans now control the house starting this week. it will not pass the senate, of course, the president has his veto pen. and you get the feeling here at the white house they're relishing this debate, because they think the health care law, now that it's gone into effect, has proved itself to be beneficial and a lot of people don't want to see those benefits go. nevertheless, this is the new reality that the president faces.
he returns tonight from hawaii. republicans will seize control of the house on wednesday and john boehner will be sworn in, and there will be some symbolic gestures, planning, house republicans are, to read the constitution aloud on the house floor. some senior adviser also be leaving. there's a possibility of a new press secretary and the former commerce secretary under clinton, bill daley, is being considered for a possible chief of staff role here at the white house. and there is a state of the union to write, probably going to be later this month. >> savannah guthrie at the very busy white house prior to the president's return from vacation. savannah, as always, thanks. five new governors were sworn in today. among them an ex-governor jerry brown, california democrat, taking over for arnold schwarzenegger. brown returns to the job he left 28 years ago. he was first sworn in for the first time back in 1975.
today, he spoke of dire financial challenges. and it seems as though he might have been considering the challenges he's facing when he seemed to reassure the crowd that he really wants the job. >> i take this obligation freely -- >> without any mental reservation. >> without any mental reservation. >> or -- >> really, no mental reservation. >> no reservations. jerry brown starting the serious business of governing california with that light moment. and by the way, it's not only the second go-around for him in office. his father, of course, pat brown, was governor from 1959 to 1967. elsewhere in california tonight, 2011 is starting off the way 2010 ended, with bad weather. hundreds of motorists were stranded for almost 24 hours by an ice storm that closed interstate 5 in the mountains north of l.a. the road has reopened tonight but it's been a tough trip home from new year's weekend for a
lot of people in the state of california. and in australia, one woman whose hometown has been swamped by torrential floods over the past three days, says being there is like living in the middle of the ocean. the area affected by these floods, larger than the state of texas. especially hard hit, the city of rock hampton, about 400 miles north of brisbon on australia's east coast. that is where reporter taletha cumins of australia's channel 7 news is live for us tonight. taletha, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. we're in the city of rockhampton, which is almost completely isolated by flood water. the river behind me is due to peak tomorrow, forcing hundreds more people to evacuate their homes. it extends as far as the eye can see. australia's worst flooding in nearly a century. the military is delivering
emergency supplies and temporary shelter to people in the flood zone. more than 200,000 have been affected in nearly a dozen cities and towns across queensland after rainfall four times normal for this time of year. at least ten people are dead. the city of rockhampton is especially hard hit. its main highway cut off. its flood barrier no match for the swollen fitzroy river. >> we have massive community impacts. what's happening here in rockhampton is, well, i don't think we're going to see it for another 50 to 100 years. that's the nature of this event. >> reporter: thousands of homes are threatened with residents struggling to evacuate. the airport is closed, rail links cut, and power disrupted. and it's a disaster for the economy. the last flood, ago cull -- agriculture brought to a standstill. and the pain is also personal. >> all the electrical goods are
gone, everything. everything. it's sad. >> reporter: and the water is still rising. 150 homes here are already under water. that's before this river has even peaked. authorities say that could quickly climb to 400, so it's going to be a nervous 24 hours ahead for these residents. brian? >> what an awful scene there. taletha cumins, our thanks for that live report from down under tonight. when our broadcast continues on this first monday night of the new year, thousands of birds falling from the sky. thousands of dead fish floating in the water. what is killing the wildlife in arkansas? and later, how hard it is to hang up your spatula when you make the best burger in town. when you make the best burger in town. [ sneezes ] [ male announcer ] got a cold? [ coughs ] ♪ [ male announcer ] confused what to get? now robitussin makes it simple.
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birds falling out of the sky, the result of some sort of trauma. and fish found dead in the water, thousands of them in separate incidents in the same state. we get our report tonight from nbc's janet shamlian. >> reporter: they rained down on a small arkansas town like a scene from a horror movie. thousands of dead black birds. on front lawns, and so many in the street, drivers could barely avoid them. >> i went out to get the paper and i looked and i said, wait a minute, what is this? we probably had 14 or 15 just in the front yard. >> reporter: as many as 5,000 bird carcasses littered across a one-mile radius after dropping from the sky on new year's eve. you had them just about everywhere? >> oh, my goodness, they were all over the place. >> reporter: what could have caused it? as a state veterinarian examined the birds today, theories have run the gamete. from their being hit by lightning or hail, to being spooked to death by new year's eve fireworks.
>> they do have a lot of trauma. i mean, they were -- like they were hit by something. >> reporter: beyond the birds and adding to the mystery, a massive fish kill also here in arkansas. just one day earlier. as many as 100,000 drum fish dead along a 20-mile stretch of the arkansas river. it's 100 miles from the dead birds but the internet was rife with conspiracy theories. one writing, 5,000 dead birds, now 100,000 dead fish. definitely an alien invasion happening in arkansas. the experts call it coincidence. >> extremely unusual. having two events like this at practically the same time, we don't think there's any connection whatsoever. >> reporter: wildlife officials say the fish likely died of disease, not pollutants. too alarming that have many wondering what's next? janet sham lee nap, nbc news,
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we learned today that goldman sachs has invested $500 million in facebook, and given the company a valuation of $50 billion in advance of an eventual initial public offering of facebook stock. for now, only goldman's high net worth clients, individuals with at least $10 million to invest, will have a chance to buy equity in the company without it going public. if you use your iphone as your alarm clock, you may already know without us telling you that the alarm clock function failed yet again today, even after apple said that a bug that failed to activate the phone's built-in alarm for the new year would fix itself by this morning in all their phones.
it prompted a comedian to say on twitter, steve jobs was set to hold a press conference on the iphone alarm glitch, but he instead overslept. the man steven spielberg called probably the best actor in the world has died. if you're a fan of modern cinema, you found the oscar nominated pete postlethwaite's face impossible to forget, just as his name was tough to pronounce. he started acting at 24. shakespeare mostly. he was discovered as an enormously talt enlted film actor and turned in indellable performances in "in the name of the father" and most recently as a tying man in "inception" and in "the town." pete postlethwaite died of cancer. he was 64 years old. when we come back here tonight, the woman who put a tiny burger joint on the map now struggling to get it off her plate. now
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we now take you to an icon in the burger business, to sell some of the best burgers in the business for the past four decades now. the woman in charge of the place is now trying to cash in on what she's built. but as nbc's ron mott reports from atlanta tonight, while she has no problem selling what she makes, she just can't seem to sell her place. >> reporter: her number one creation is a sizzling american success story. thick, meaty, juicy. >> i'll have a ghetto burger, everything. >> reporter: something she affectionally calls the ghetto burger, which draws large crowds to her small atlanta snack shop. but 67-year-old ann price has discovered that flipping her 38-year-old restaurant to a new owner in this economy is a much tougher sell. >> at my age, i need some rest. i haven't had a vacation in 38 years. >> reporter: for as much as she wants to hang up her spatula, and secret seasoning, price hasn't found the price she would like for the restaurant, seeking
$1.5 million a year ago, getting offers for less than half that today. >> all my money is -- all of my savings are tied up in this building. so i need to get enough money to retire on or i keep the business. >> reporter: a business she runs pretty much all by herself. from sun-up to sundown and when the smoke clears, a picture is revealed. from hand pressed patty to hand cut flavor boosters to mouth watering masterpiece. the burgers aren't for the faint of heart and neither is the wait to get inside. customers have been known to stand outside for hours trying to get one of these eight coveted seats. they say the food is well worth the time. >> this is kind of americana laid out right in front of us. >> the other say, she says i haven't seen you lately. i said you've gotten so popular, i can't get in here. >> reporter: though more than ready to get out of the kitchen, ms. ann plans to keep on grilling until an order comes in for a burger joint to go.
ron mott, nbc news, atlanta. nothing wrong with that at all. that's our broadcast for this monday night as we begin a new week and new year. thank you for being here with us, and happy new year to all. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. now we eat. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com the budget i present next week will be painful. >> a straight-talking jerry brown gets down to business on the first day of his new term as governor. good evening, i'm tom cinco visit. >> i'm jessica agearry. he was the youngest governor in california history when he served two terms from 1975 to 1983. now, newly inaugurated governor jerry brown starts his third term as