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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  April 5, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast here tonight, deal or no deal? tonight, what are the chances the government's going to shut down, and what happens if federal money gets shut off? tonight, the effect on everything from social security to air traffic control. deadly weather rips through the american south. tonight, the death toll and destruction in the tornadoes' wake. high risk. are too many kids being exposed to too much radiation when they go to the hospital? tonight there's information for parents. and back to basics. a family business that's very yesterday, and that's just the way they like it. yesterday, and that's just the way they like it. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. tonight no one can say for sure whether the federal government will shut down by the end of this week. if that happens, money stops flowing, and if that happens americans will start feeling it by monday. and while a lot of it can be attributed to politics as usual in washington, there are real disagreements behind this. the threat of a shutdown is real, and the republicans say so is what they proposed today for future years, starting in 2012. massive cuts in spending. and while none of that is real yet, it's already getting fought over as the clock ticks down to this weekend's potential shutdown. we have two reports on all of this tonight. we want to begin with nbc news chief white house correspondent chuck todd. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, look, that government shutdown grew more likely today as house republicans and the white house failed to agree on a
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budget for this year. it's an ongoing fight over a mere .83% of all government spending. a visibly frustrated president turned up the heat on congressional leaders, who have put off adopting a budget since last year. >> if that issue does not get resolved and we don't start seeing progress, i want a meeting again tomorrow here at the white house. and if that doesn't work, we'll invite them again the day after that. >> reporter: the president warned the fragile economic recovery is at stake. >> we're just starting to see a pickup in employment. the last thing we need is a disruption that's caused by a government shutdown. >> reporter: congress has kept the government going through a series of temporary measures. but now the white house and republicans can't even agree on doing that. >> i hope the republicans do what the country needs, not what they believe the tea party wants. >> we're not going to allow the
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senate, nor the white house to put us in a box where we have to make a choice between two bad options. >> reporter: it's been 15 years since the last government shutdown, when 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home. so what could happen friday if the current funding agreement isn't extended? government employees deemed non-essential would be furloughed. as a result, museums and all national parks will close. social security applications would be delayed. but checks would still be mailed. and passports and visas wouldn't be processed. but vital services would continue, including air traffic controllers, airport screeners, and the thousands of u.s. troops fighting overseas. and with tax day less than two weeks away, the irs says americans still must file on time, but refunds could be delayed. if the government did shut down, a recent pew research poll shows americans evenly divided on which party to blame. but some senate republicans want to force a deal now because they fear a shutdown will hurt their party more. chuck todd, nbc news, the white house.
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>> reporter: i'm kelly o'donnell on capitol hill, where the house republicans' budget man called for dramatic cuts and changes. >> we put the nation on the path to actually pay off our national debt. >> reporter: 41-year-old wisconsin congressman paul ryan is going big. compared to the white house budget laid out in february, the republican plan over the next decade would cut government spending by $6 trillion, reduce the federal deficit by $4.4 trillion compared to the president's budget, according to the congressional budget office. both parties and the president's own bipartisan debt commission say the federal debt is a national emergency. >> this is the most predictable economic crisis in our history. and what are we doing, playing politics? >> reporter: the biggest flash point is altering medicare, where health care costs have soared. >> we propose that we support people more if they're low income, more as they get sick,
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and wealthy seniors don't get as much support. >> reporter: for anyone 55 and older, no change. but when younger workers reach retirement, they would choose private health insurance like federal workers and get a government subsidy to help pay for it. and medicaid for the poor would be controlled by states. democrats call the republican plan too severe, saying it would hurt the most vulnerable. >> no longer would medicare be a guarantee of health insurance coverage. instead, medicare would become little more than a discount card. this plan would literally be a death trap for some seniors. >> reporter: on taxes republicans propose lowering the top tax rates for individuals and corporations to 25%. so this boils down to republicans got a big spotlight today to argue their case. but many of the specific ideas face real resistance politically. still, republicans say this was a starting point. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on the hill. and chuck todd at the white house before that starting us off tonight. thanks to you both. one more note on politics.
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florida democratic congresswoman debra wasserman schultz, who we saw right toward the end of kelly's reporting there, was named the new head of the democratic national committee today. and she will keep her day job in congress at the same time. last night into this morning as a violent weather front moved to the northeast across parts of the american south, nine americans lost their lives. they had no time to run as the fierce embedded storms that dropped down in the form of tornadoes took hold on several places. nbc's ron mott is two hours north of atlanta tonight in ellijay, georgia. ron, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening to you. as you mentioned, at least nine people have died in these storms, most in georgia. amazingly, no one here. this was a big, powerful, fast-moving storm that needed little time to cause a whole lot of damage. >> wow. >> reporter: from kansas to texas, missouri to arkansas,
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monday was a mess, as a powerful storm system churned across the midwest and south, destroying property and claiming lives. among those killed, the driver of this car in atlanta. and an hour south of the city, a 28-year-old man and his 3-year-old son, who died when a tree crashed into the bedroom where they slept. >> it don't feel real. >> reporter: his fiancee, the child's mother, escaped unharmed with the couple's other toddler. >> i was in my pajamas. i just had to run, to get there. when i got there, it was too late. >> reporter: in kentucky melvin daughtry's mobile home was tossed on its side. >> just fortunate that nobody was seriously hurt here. >> reporter: golf ball-size hail fell in iowa as did trees just about everywhere the severe weather passed. in waverly, tennessee a likely tornado ripped through the town's square. >> we had a lot of roofs blown off of buildings. power was interrupted to downtown. >> reporter: in dallas lightning filled the sky. heavy rain filled streets. >> the deadliest storm in georgia in more than a decade rolled through last night. >> reporter: a lightning bolt hit a tower in atlanta, while another is suspected of sparking
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a fire that burned an entire block of businesses in south georgia. near the small town of ellijay -- >> come on, babies. >> reporter: -- a barn housing 64 animals was leveled. >> look at you. >> reporter: they and three people with them all survived. >> and my son went with my arm and i'm hanging and i was off the ground about like that. >> reporter: tonight this system has moved off the east coast. it's now out over the atlantic but not before prompting a record number of severe weather reports. brian? >> ron mott in ellijay, georgia tonight for us. ron, thanks. now we turn to these multiple crises we've been covering overseas. first, in the ivory coast it appears the bloody civil war may be over. after months of fighting, hundreds dead there, tonight the former president is reportedly in his basement bunker, negotiating his own surrender, one day after the united nations and french helicopters intervened, firing on his presidential residence and military sites. he had refused to give up power,
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even after losing national elections there in november. in libya tonight one of the rebel leaders is complaining that nato isn't doing enough to fulfill its mission and protect civilians. nato officials did report today that in the last 24 hours warplanes have launched only 14 strike missions against libyan military targets. that's way down from just a week ago, when the u.s. was in command of the air missions. nato says it's because gadhafi forces are now keeping their tanks and heavy armor dug in in populated areas, in effect using the local population as human shields. meanwhile, defense secretary robert gates is on his way to the middle east for a tour of u.s. military operations there. tom brokaw is in the region tonight doing some reporting for a primetime special to air at a later date. tonight tom's in baghdad, where the u.s. has expended so much
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blood and treasure and where there's been a real spike in violence in recent weeks. and tom, it's true, it has fallen from the news because of everything going on elsewhere in the region. >> reporter: brian, it has been a violent week here in iraq. in baghdad alone on monday there were three ied explosions. north of baghdad gunmen stormed a home and killed six people. a police officer was shot at a security checkpoint. and over the weekend two more american soldiers were killed, presumably by enemy fire. american forces are scheduled to leave this country by the end of the year, but this week the american ambassador said that the embassy staff will more than double, from about 8,000 personnel to about 20,000. so iraq is a reminder of just how difficult it is to establish a democracy in this part of the world. after all, we've been at war here for eight years now. hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, and thousands and thousands of lives have been
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lost on both sides. so secretary gates will face some tough questions in this region about the american intentions going on now with all this new turmoil, especially in an area where the united states has such big stakes politically and economically. and a lot of those questions presumably will come from king abdullah of saudi arabia. i was told on the way in here that the saudis are so unhappy with the obama administration for the way it pushed out president mubarak of egypt that it sent high-level emissaries to china and russia to tell those two countries that saudi arabia now is prepared to do more business with them. back here in iraq, the political and the economic situation remains fragile, so fragile that the u.n. secretary-general is worried that this country could now see massive protests in the streets once again. one sign of good news, however, brian, on the way in from the airport today we went through several security checkpoints. they were all manned entirely by iraqis. no americans in sight. brian? >> that is a big change. tom brokaw back in a familiar
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spot for a lot of us tonight in baghdad, iraq. tom, thanks. turning now to japan, where this was another day of thousands of gallons of radioactive water openly flowing into the ocean near that damaged nuke plant. engineers still haven't been able to find the leak. measurements taken there yesterday showed the radiation levels near the leak were millions of times the legal limit. our report tonight from nbc's lee cowan. he's in tokyo. >> reporter: at its peak the radioactive water gushing out of reactor number 2 was pouring into the ocean at a rate of 30 gallons a minute. on saturday radiation levels were measured at 7.5 million times the legal limit. on monday it was 5 million times the legal limit. fish caught last week south of the fukushima plant contained levels of radioactive iodine high enough to cause concern. so much so the japanese
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government hastily announced today that it would be setting a nationwide standard for an allowable limit. at least 25 countries have already restricted imports of japanese milk and produce. india is banning virtually all food from japan for the next three months. for yukiko matsumoto all those headlines make it sound like she'll never be able to go home. she lived just 12 miles from the troubled plant. the only thing residing there now, she says, is the one neighbor everyone fears. "radiation is something we cannot see in our eyes," she says. "i don't want my children to go anywhere near it." so she's trying to help her kids settle in to a new life in tokyo, just in case. they're getting used to this new environment, and they started smiling again, she says. she's hoping, though, that all of this is temporary. the new school for her kids. the apartment that's been donated for her to live in. but she knows with radiation leaking into the water and into
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the soil her home may be poisoned for years to come. there's no point, though, in telling her children that yet, she says. they've been through enough already. lee cowan, nbc news, tokyo. >> by the way, we wanted to let you know that tomorrow night here we're going to ask the experts about all the damage that contaminated radioactive water might be doing in the pacific ocean despite the fact that we're being told it will dissipate in the open water. we will have that for you again tomorrow night here on the broadcast. first, when we come back tonight, another risk of radiation having nothing at all to do with japan. this story is about our children and hospital visits. and later, satisfying a big craving in this country for products that take us back in time.
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there are some new numbers out tonight that parents should be aware of. the staggering increase in the
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number of powerful x-rays, in particular cat scans, given to children who are brought to emergency rooms in this country. and the numbers have to do with the potential risk to children. our report from our chief science correspondent, robert bazell. >> reporter: it has become a routine part of medicine, the ct, or cat scan, that generates complex computer x-ray images. now experts say that it is far too routine, especially for many younger patients, because it exposes them to a lot of radiation. >> nowadays it's outdated. >> reporter: dr. david larson and his team at cincinnati children's hospital published the study, out today in the journal "radiology." >> what we found was from 1995 to 2008 the number of ct scans that were done in children who visited the emergency department increased fivefold, essentially, from 330,000 per year to 1.65 million per year. >> reporter: to get those images the ct scan takes multiple x-rays. and that has consequences. a typical ct scan exposes a
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child to about 100 times as much radiation as a conventional x-ray. experts say this can present a danger to adults but it is far more of a problem for children. >> radiation in children scares us. it's the fact that they're small little creatures and they have a long life to live. and the chance of them getting cancer from that increases exponentially. >> reporter: but doctors emphasize there is a risk-benefit ratio, that sometimes the ct scan is definitely called for and can be an enormously helpful tool. general electric, part owner of nbc universal, is one of the biggest manufacturers of ct scanners. often, doctors say, using the device is a balancing act between what the patient needs and what is safe. and with children the parents often play a role. >> parents come in, they demand cat scans. they want to know what's wrong with their child. they want to make sure they're able to sleep at night and be able to rest and know their child is safe. >> reporter: but increasingly, experts agree that because of the radiation risk this useful
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tool needs to be used the minimum amount possible. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. federal safety investigators today showed us the actual piece of that southwest airlines 737 involved in the incident friday, when a split opened up in a section of the fuselage and it peeled back the aircraft's skin and depressurized the cabin at 36,000 feet. southwest said it has inspected the 79 aircraft it took out of service. by the way, five of those 737-300 series were found to have small cracks. up next, if you're among those who've been saying that working long hours is killing you, something you'll want to hear. also, why astronauts in space today were told to take cover.
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we mentioned this earlier. for a time today the three astronauts on board the international space station were told to seek shelter. there aren't too many places you can go on board the space station. and this unusual warning had to do with a piece of space junk from an old chinese satellite that appeared to be headed their way. they ended up crawling into the soyuz return to earth capsule. but as the afternoon wore on, the debris changed course and steered well clear of any collision. tonight they are rethinking the phrase "hard work never killed anyone" after a new study
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that shows people who regularly work long hours are indeed at higher risk of heart disease. in fact, working 11-hour days increased heart disease risk by 67% for those who work seven to eight hours a day -- i should say compared to those. heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. a lot of strange and mysterious things have happened at chicago's wrigley field over the years. there was another one yesterday. a flock of gulls flew over from nearby lake michigan in the third inning and they had no plans to leave. they were dive-bombing and circling the field. they even rattled the cubs' center fielder, making the game-ending catch. oddly enough, his name, marlon byrd. up next here tonight, back to basics at a place that makes what's old new again.
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if you watch us even a few nights a week, you know the world is changing quickly, and some places the violence has been unrelenting. so perhaps it's no wonder that something simple like nostalgia is making a big comeback these days. anything to get us out of today and transport us to another
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time. nbc's anne thompson tonight looks at one store that's making a lot of americans very happy by taking them back to basics. >> reporter: tradition marks vermont's landscape. people take pride that life moves a little slower here. trendy is taboo. what's time-tested is treasured. no place more than at the vermont country store. a centuries-old tradition. and the orton family business for 55 years. >> my grandfather was a wonderful marketer. and he really understood that even in 1946 people were yearning for simpler times. >> reporter: simpler times defined by everyday products bearing brand names from long ago. >> gee, your hair smells terrific. >> i remember that. >> reporter: gardner orton is in charge of modern-day wellness with products grandma used to use. >> you know, i think people are frustrated. they're going to their doctors, they're getting prescribed more and more medications. they're looking for something that perhaps is another route from that.
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>> reporter: eliot orton rescues brands from history's trash heap. like tangee lipstick, a depression-era favorite. >> we went out and bought it and worked with some of the original manufacturers to get the formulation right and bring it back to the market. >> reporter: so you actually own this now? >> we actually do. >> reporter: with cabot the three brothers run today's business. >> what color would you like in those? >> reporter: there are two call centers for catalog orders. >> there you go. >> reporter: and two stores offering comfort consumerism, including comfort food sold with the brothers' childhood photos. >> which picture embarrasses you guys the most? >> maybe the picture on the top with cabot screaming. >> reporter: this is no mom-and-pop operation. these simple products high in sentimental value now generate $100 million in sales each year. some of the most popular items, the distinctive fringe-edged table linens of mountain weavers. finished at a factory down the road. >> certainly we've seen a nice uptick in business over the last
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two years, contrary to what the economy's been doing. >> reporter: the quest for value and nostalgia driving demand as america seeks a balance in this modern day and age. anne thompson, nbc news, weston, vermont. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams, and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac --


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