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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  April 16, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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pretty happy about it would be my guess. >> amazing pictures. >> yes. sunshine tomorrow and then rain tomorrow night. >> during the day tomorrow fine but tomorrow night we will see some rain coming back to the bay area. >> all right. nbc nightly news is next and then more local news on the bay area at 6:00. we'll see you then. good night! tornado emergency. >> oh, my gosh, this is not good. >> three days of violent, deadly storms take a terrible toll in the south, and it's not over yet. dozing off. yet another air traffic controller is caught sleeping today on the job. how the faa is responding after this latest problem. listening in. the scandal that stretches from hollywood all the way to buckingham palace. how private lives became so public. and making a difference. one man's crusade against parkinson's disease and those one man's crusade against parkinson's disease and those banding together to help.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. here we go again. the same weather system that has already killed at least 17 people in the south this week moved up the east coast today, spawning more destructive tornadoes this afternoon. in the raleigh, north carolina, area, fallen debris and flooding have left tens of thousands without power tonight. there are reports of widespread tornado damage in central north carolina. tornado watches along the mid-atlantic today have extended as far north as pennsylvania. this after two days of violent storms left a trail of death and destruction from oklahoma on through alabama. and tuscaloosa, alabama, is where the weather channel's jim cantore begins our coverage tonight. jim? >> reporter: good evening, lester. so much destruction across much of alabama, scenes like this where trees have been uprooted by the wind, just pushed over, sitting on top of this house right here.
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amazing, one tree down, another left standing. but you don't have to look too far to see tarps on rooftops and power poles just snapped in half. this same storm system has just shifted to the east and north tonight, continues to cause tornadic destruction. >> that's a tornado, man. >> reporter: as a huge tornado swept through raleigh, north carolina, the storm was captured by an amateur photographer. the destructive winds damaged homes and businesses and destroyed a lowe's store in nearby sanford. the tornado was so massive that it sent debris falling miles from where it struck. at least 150 tornadoes have been reported in the last three days, and counting. by far the biggest outbreak this spring. in sandy springs, georgia, the cleanup began from severe winds that battered the town overnight. >> one power pole was actually snapped like a toothpick littering this road right here. >> oh, my god, this is not good. >> reporter: since thursday, the twisters and strong winds have
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ripped across the south, killing two people in oklahoma, seven in arkansas, seven in alabama, one in mississippi, and fears of fatalities in north carolina. dozens have been injured across several states as the tornadoes have demolished dozens of homes and left tens of thousands without power. >> multivortex. >> reporter: in tushka, oklahoma, a multivortex tornado with at least two funnels tore through the town of 350, killing two. it left a path of destroyed homes right next to the others left untouched. the local school reduced to rubble. >> most of my classmates have been here since preschool, and it's -- they're never going to be here again as students. >> reporter: in alabama, it was the worst outbreak in five years. >> i felt the house tremble, felt a strong wind. i told everybody it's time to get downstairs. >> i saw the wind pick up this big oak tree, sort of just pick it up and tosses it on top of the power lines. >> reporter: today crews work to
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destroy power, but the destruction is so extensive national weather survey teams will have to assess the damage by flying from one end of the state to the other. >> i want to say probably 15 to 20 tornadoes that occurred throughout the state, and that's just preliminary. we might find a lot more after that. >> reporter: as this dangerous storm system makes its way north and east, the impacts are far from over. lester, an average april usually yields about 150 tornadoes. we've seen more than that in just three days. back to you. >> jim cantore in alabama. let's go north now. the weather channel's jeff morrow is in raleigh, as we noted, one of several cities in central north carolina struck by tornadoes today. jeff, what's the latest from there? >> reporter: lester, it's being called the worst severe weather outbreak around the raleigh area since 1988. that goes back a long way and a lot of severe weather seasons. today was the third day in a row that severe thunderstorms have raked across the south. today was north carolina's turn. as a big tornado developed to
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the southwest of raleigh, it skipped along and moved to the northeast and moved right over the downtown area, which is where i'm at. you can see some of the damage here behind me, a lot of tree damage across the city, down on cars, blocking roadways. nearby shaw university also sustaining some major damage, parts of roofs coming off, some windows shattered. it's just a real mess here, a lot of emergency vehicles moving about. but from what we understand so far, there hasn't been any fatalities. now, this was not the only tornado to occur across north carolina. also, numerous tornadoes down toward the dunn area and wilson area as well, lester. a lot of cleanup ahead here. >> jeff morrow in raleigh, thank you. news tonight of yet another air traffic controller falling asleep on the job. this time in miami. the faa quickly announced it's going to be changing the work schedules in towers and radar centers as soon as this weekend in an effort to end this problem. nbc's michelle franzen reports.
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>> reporter: here we go again. another air traffic controller asleep on the job. this time during the midnight shift saturday at the miami air route traffic control center. and now the federal aviation administration is planning to make changes to air traffic controllers' work schedules to combat fatigue, long overdue says one former faa administrator. >> the fatigue we're seeing in the control tower is the result of too few qualified controllers in the nation that can fill in. so they're working double shifts, four or five nights in a row. >> reporter: the reports started coming in last month when two passenger planes landed on their own at washington's reagan national after a controller fell asleep. then a string of more reports of sleeping controllers, in knoxville, lubbock, outside seattle, then a case of a medevac plane unable to wake a sleeping controller in reno. miami, the faa suspended the air traffic controller in saturday's case.
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transportation secretary ray lahood saying, there is no excuse for air traffic controllers to be sleeping on the job. we will do everything we can to put an end to this. evidence goldfarb says the federal government sees this as a systemwide problem. >> there's no short-term fix for a chronic long-term problem. >> the faa's preliminary report in miami shows, unlike other incidents, where the controller was in the tower alone, there were 12 controllers on duty at the time and the controller who fell asleep did not miss any calls from pilots. lester? >> michelle franzen, thank you stories of sleeping controllers are just some of the unsettling headlines we've been reading lately about air safety. but aviation experts say the latest headlines mask the real story, that safety in the skies on many counts s is is actuall improving. nbc's tom costello takes a closer look. >> reporter: it's been an unsettling few weeks for aviation, air traffic
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controllers sleeping on the job while pilots circled. >> we may just have to land. >> reporter: multiple controllers accused of falling asleep in various towers. >> this is ridiculous, and i'm not going to sit by and let it happen. >> reporter: then there was a 737's emergency landing after a five-foot hole opened up in the roof and the world's biggest commercial plane, the a-380 clipping and tossing aside one of the smallest airplanes at jfk. >> the emergency trucks has been hit by an airplane. >> reporter: so many close calls and incidents travelers might think flying has suddenly become increasingly dangerous. but in fact experts say taking to the skies has never been safer. the last fatal u.s. airline crash occurred more than two years ago when 50 people died in a regional airline accident in buffalo. in 2006, 49 people died when a regional jet crashed in lexington, kentucky. but there have also been great success stories. december 2008, everyone survived
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this crash on the runway in denver, despite intense smoke and fire. as well as this american airlines crash-landing in jamaica. and captain sully's miracle on the hudson landing in new york. >> the possibility of an accident is extremely remote, less than 1 in 2 million. >> reporter: safety experts like bill voss credit high-tech systems and cockpits in towers, better training, tougher safety protocols and better built aircraft. >> the industry and the regulator no longer wait for accidents to occur before they start doing things. >> reporter: veteran airline safety consultant captain john cox. >> we've built in more redundancies, more checks. we build better airplanes. we operate them more not only efficiently but in a safer manner. >> reporter: today two-thirds of people involved in plane accidents survive. proving that statistically the most dangerous part of any trip is the car ride to the airport. tom costello, nbc news, washington.
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a rescue operation is under way tonight for a missing miner after a mine collapse in northern idaho. the accident occurred yesterday at the lucky friday silver mine in mullan. about 50 people were in the mine when a tunnel collapsed more than a mile underground. mine officials say they don't know what caused the accident. one miner remains missing. moving on to politics now and the race for the white house. there's no clear political front-runner to challenge president obama, but the gop race is at last heating up. nbc's mike viqueira joins us from the white house. >> reporter: lester, you're right. this time around it's taken longer than usual to stop, but with top-tier candidates finally getting in, including the president, himself, the race to sit here in the west wing come 2012 is finally on. with tax day looming on monday, this weekend tea party-backed anti-tax rallies were held across the country, with some drawing possible gop white house hopefuls from sarah palin in rainy wisconsin -- >> these are the front lines in
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the battle for the future of our country! >> reporter: -- to donald trump in sunny south florida. >> if i run and win, our country will be respected again. >> reporter: with his built-in celebrity and controversial views on president obama's birth, trump has surprised many by showing early strength in polls. former minnesota governor tim pawlenty is also now raising money for a run. >> have you had enough of $4 a gallon gas? >> yes. >> have you had enough of a federal government that is out of control? >> reporter: and mitt romney, a veteran of the 2008 race, went to the web monday to take his first formal steps towards a run. >> i'd like to ask you to join with us, volunteer, donate, or just pass this message along to a friend. >> reporter: still others are all but running visiting early battlegrounds like iowa and new hampshire. the sudden activity comes after a slow start to the campaign. when then-senator barack obama jumped in four years ago in february, there were already 16 candidates in the race.
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now, with the democratic field so far to himself, president obama kicked off his run this week in chicago. putting the first millions into what many expect will be a billion-dollar war chest. >> we came here tonight because we know that for all the progress we've made we've still got business to do. we are not finished. >> reporter: even as the race takes shape, republicans are pushing deep cuts to democratic priorities, and the first battle lines of the contest are already forming. >> it's about priorities, spending, deficit, debt, and possibly tax policy. that appears to be where we are as a country as everybody is focused on the economy. >> reporter: and, lester, this coming week the president plans no fewer than three trips to different states around the country for town halls to tout his debt and deficit reduction plan and continue to slam the republican plan that passed just yesterday. also in california next week, there will be some fund raising for the 2012 race.
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>> mike, thanks. when "nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, the big scandal in london. a tabloid accused of spying on royalty and the stars and how hugh grant turns the tables. you'll hear the tapes when we come back.
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the british tabloids are known for being some of the most competitive and at times sensational newspapers in publishing. now the investigative techniques of one of those papers has come under new scrutiny in a trial
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that involves the worlds of media, power and celebrity. nbc's george lewis has our story. >> reporter: britain's sunday paper "news of the world" sells 3 million copies a week, dishing the dirt on celebrities. but now authorities are questioning how the paper got that dirt. those targeted include prince william, his brother prince harry, actress elle macpherson, actor jude law and hundreds of others. allegations that reporters were accessing voice mail messages by and about them. five years ago when the reporter who covered the royal family and a private investigator working with him were arrested and charged with illegal eavesdropping, the paper said that was the end of it. but it wasn't. this week a former assistant news editor was arrested and earlier this month the paper's chief reporter and another former assistant editor turned themselves in to police. >> i didn't accept for a moment the murdock press telling me this was a rogue operation. >> reporter: actor hugh grant who claims his phone was hacked did a sting of his own wearing a
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recording advice as he chatted with former "news of the world" reporter paul mcmullen in a pub about how frequently the papers listened in on celebrity voice mail. >> reporter: amid questions about why the police didn't pursue the phone hacking investigation harder, rebecca brooks, chief executive of news international, publisher of the paper, told a parliamentary hearing that some cops were getting paid for news tips. >> we have paid the police for information in the past. >> reporter: the newspaper has issued an apology and offered to compensate people who can prove their voice mail was hacked. there was no response to our requests for interviews. all of this is a huge headache for rupert murdock, the head of news corporation, owner of "news of the world" and fox tv. murdock's company is seeking
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government permission to buy a british pay tv network. that deal could be held up as the investigation into the phone hacking scandal moves forward and as the number of lawsuits against the paper just keeps growing. george lewis, nbc news, london. and some royal news tonight. just 13 days before the wedding of prince william and kate middleton, the british government said today it has started discussions to change the rules for royal succession. the changes would give girls an equal chance at the throne, allowing them to become queen even if they have younger brothers. up next here tonight -- the bay of pigs 50 years later. we're live tonight in havana when we come back.
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it's been 50 years since the
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bay of pigs invasion, one of the most infamous events in american history. but in cuba it's seen far differently. nbc's mark potter joins us now from havana with more. mark, good evening. >> reporter: and good evening to you, lester. this weekend cuba is remembering a critical moment in history still felt today. huge crowds have come out to celebrate in ways not seen here for years. ♪ in the plaza of the revolution, a massive display of military might and a celebration of cuba's victory 50 years ago at the bay of pigs, the failed invasion planned by the cia and backed by the u.s. military is seen as a historic turning point for fidel castro. >> this is a watershed event for cuba that put cuba in the track in alliance with the soviet union and in the role to a hardcore communism. >> reporter: on april 17, 1961,
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1,400 cia-trained cuban exiles made landfall in southern cuba. the u.s. supplied them with planes, ships and armament. but in an attempt to hide its involvement, the kennedy administration withheld air support when the invasion began to fail. >> we made it repeatedly clear that the armed forces of this country would not intervene in any way. >> reporter: in just three days, fidel castro's massive defense force crushed the invaders, killing more than a hundred, capturing more than a thousand. this now-tranquil area is where the main invasion force came ashore and was confronted by cuban fighters. in the history of the cuban revolution, this is a very important place. 70-year-old domingo rodriguez still remembers how invaders opened fire on his militia platoon. this cuban radio host helped capture the attackers and says the cuban victory was a worldwide embarrassment for the
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u.s. >> i was the first defeat of the u.s. military action of america. >> reporter: on the other side, in a bay of pigs museum in miami, cuban exile veterans mourn the anniversary. this man who flew a bomber in support of the invasion says the u.s. refusal to save the exiles still hurts. >> we were promised something that wasn't delivered so that's betrayal. wouldn't like to say, but i felt betrayed at that time. >> reporter: but here at their war museum, the solemn remembrance is for cuban lives lost defending the revolution in a battle that forever changed u.s./cuban relations. and on a day of history, there is concern here for the future. earlier today the communist party congress convened here to address new ways to fix cuba's deeply troubled economy. lester? >> mark potter in havana for us tonight, thanks. when "nightly news" returns here in a moment, using the music of youth to make a
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difference against disease.
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finally tonight, rock 'n' roll is all about teenage vitality, but for one rock band manager, the music of youth has become an anthem in his fight for a cure. nbc's peter alexander has our "making a difference" report for
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tonight. >> reporter: if good old fashioned rock 'n' roll had an address, it might be right here in asbury park. music still echos through the streets of this proud city along the jersey shore that first introduced the world to bruce springsteen. but visit asbury park and you'll learn there's an unlikely man behind the music. ben benjamin started managing bands in 1995, but one year later he was diagnosed with parkinson's, a brain disease that's slowly breaking his body down. >> i try to stay positive all the time. i look at what i can do, not what i can't do. >> reporter: in fact, benjamin's busier than ever. he's become a leading figure in the battle against parkinson's, tapping into a network of rock 'n' rollers eager to help a friend in need. >> you don't want one of your own to go down. this is an industry that there's no health benefits or you don't get your golden watch retire
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after 35 years doing it. >> reporter: a new documentary celebrates benjamin and his charity concerts where some of the area's greats, including springsteen, form a chorus behind the cause. ♪ his light of day concert series has raised more than $1 million for parkinson's research. >> he's done this without drama. he's done this without press releases. he's done this by being who he is, by inspiring people around him. >> reporter: still, there is no cure for benjamin's cruel disease. at home, he stops to take medication ten times each day. >> how do you feel today? >> pretty good. >> reporter: this morning benjamin was back at it in new york's central park among several thousand people walk ing for a cure. >> he has so many friends and so many people that love him, and he loves them. >> reporter: with the friends and the determination to find a cure for himself and so many others.
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peter alexander, nbc news, new york. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. you can follow us on twitter and facebook. we'd love to hear from you. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today," then right back here tomorrow evening. "today," then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac --


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