tv NBC Nightly News NBC April 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
pg&e, kaiser, u.p.s. and waste management. organizers say when they started it four years ago they didn't realize how many oakland families needed to look forward to something like this so now they are committed to making it happen every single year and h were hy ing a a good time. rnado strikes this time at a major airport. what is causing this historic tornado season? a region in conflict. rebels capture another key city in libya, while in syria more deadly protests today. strike three. the owners of the l.a. dodgers lose control of their team as scandal in their personal lives plays out in public. and getting the scoop. how one reporter breaks royal news inside the madness with how one reporter breaks royal news inside the madness with just days to go. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening, it has happened again. for the second weekend in a row, we are talking about widespread damage, homes splinter and quick thinking that saved lives in the face of a fierce tornado. it was the worst storm to hit st. louis in 40 years. just take a look at the radar picture from last night, all that red moving over st. louis. the airport there filled with travelers, was near the bull's eye. it is still closed tonight. tens of thousands are without power, but remarkably few people were injured and no deaths are reported. almost unbelievable when you see what they went through. the weather channel's mike seidel is on the ground at the airport in st. louis for us tonight. mike? >> reporter: good evening, kate. the early call on this tornado was an ef-4, first one of the season. that's the enhanced fujita scale that runs from 1 to 5, a strong tornado, could have had winds as strong as 200 miles an hour. it has been a very busy april. we have not seen this many tornadoes ever in april.
345 and counting. the tornado tore through lambert airport friday evening, sending passengers in the airport terminal scrambling for cover. fierce winds ripped off the roof on concourse c, blew out windows and crushed this jet way. some passengers on an airplane had to ride out the storm parked at the gate. >> we were completely pelted with all kinds of wood and debris and at this point i realized that i was concerned that we would have debris coming through the window in the airplane. and so i ducked for cover. >> reporter: the grounded plane became airborne. >> you could feel the airplane moving under you. we could see that we had been lifted. we were parked at the gate. we had been lifted from the gate. and moved a good 15 to 20 feet from the gate. >> reporter: five were injured at the airport, but remarkably the tornado caused no deaths. today the airport is closed. >> it is stunning. to see the damage that is here
and what is also stunning is that there weren't more people that were hurt. >> reporter: officials hope to restore the airport to 70% capacity by sunday. and be fully operational by next week. throughout st. louis county, the tornado damaged 750 homes and left 47,000 without power. in maryland heights, just west of the airport, some homes were destroyed. >> it seemed to me two or three or five minutes of just pure hell. >> reporter: ron henderson emerged from his basement to find his home gone. >> i'm thinking to myself, i'll go upstairs and see how much damage. well, as i looked upstairs, there was no upstairs. >> reporter: he and his neighbors gathered to check on each other and collect whatever belongings they could salvage from the mounds of debris. this was yet another tornado in a whirlwind spring of destruction. a string of more than 600 tornadoes that have killed at least 40, injured hundreds and
damaged thousands of homes. back out here at st. louis lambert international this evening, the first flights with passengers arrived this evening. we're expecting about eight or nine planes in here. also airlines will bring in planes empty tonight in advance of tomorrow's departures with passengers. they're hoping to get this airport up and running as we mentioned. however, there is going to be an issue with power. they hope to get the power in its entirety by noon tomorrow. >> mike seidel from st. louis, thank you. there is more to come for another round of severe weather expected this weekend. for that, we turn to weather channel meteorologist kelly cass. >> hi, kate. yes, indeed, we are looking at the same setup. we can blame it on the unseasonably warm air we have been experiencing across the eastern half of the country. the jet stream being so active, all these low pressures developing, there has been a lot of warm moist air to work with. you see the southerly flow with the temperatures in the 80s from tennessee to arkansas. a cold front working its way across the middle of the country. fortunately for st. louis, getting a little bit of a break today. we could very heavy rain developing tonight into easter
sunday. there is easter sunday where we're calling for severe storms across portions of oklahoma as well as missouri and stretching all out across the ohio valley and unfortunately there could be more tornadoes with this next outbreak, kate. >> kelly cass at the weather channel. thank you. overseas, some major new developments today as we follow the turmoil in the arab world. in libya, rebels claim they now control another key city while in syria government forces again opened fire on protesters. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is following both stories tonight from benghazi, libya. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, kate. we'll start in libya. after weeks of fighting, hundreds of dead and injured, witnesses and rebels say that gadhafi's forces have pulled out from the center of the city of misrata. rebels claim gadhafi's troops were driven out of misrata, the city liberated, after nato
intensified air strikes this week and washington deployed armed predator drones for the first time. misrata is libya's third largest city, just 120 miles from tripoli. tripoli is now the only major libyan city still fully controlled by gadhafi's government. but with leaving downtown misrata, a new tactic from the libyan colonel. some opposition leaders worry gadhafi forces will simply slip back in, in civilian clothing, making them more difficult to identify, even with predator drones. but even if the games in misrata are real, analysts say the nato mission remains confused and unclear. >> i don't think we have made up our own minds as to what we're trying to achieve. are we trying to bring down a gadhafi regime, which is not difficult to do, we could do that in 90 days. the tough part is what do we do when gadhafi is gone. >> reporter: but the conflict in libya is quickly becoming overshadowed by an explosion of violence in syria. strategically, far more important to stability in the middle east.
on friday, the syrian government unleashed one of the deadliest crackdowns since the arab uprisings began. amateur video shows what happened when syrian security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators, reportedly killing around 100. even now, the death toll remains unclear. today, the security forces opened fire again, shooting into crowds of mourners, killing more than a dozen. al jazeera's rula amin is one of the few reporters still working in syria. >> every day the list of demands by the protesters is getting longer and the goals higher. at the beginning, they were asking for just regular reforms. now you have more people talking about toppling the regime. >> reporter: two members of syria's parliament resigned today in disgust. but so far the government and its security forces appear united, and clearly willing to kill their own citizens to stay in power.
and, kate, there has been a new development in yet another country in the region. a senior yemeni official says that yemen's president of 32 years, ali abdullah saleh, has agreed to step down. in exchange for immunity for himself and his family. that transition would take place in about 30 days. until a transition actually takes place, yemen remains politically very unstable. kate? >> richard engel watching the region for us tonight. thank you. a program note, senator john mccain who was in libya this week will be among david gregory's guests tomorrow on "meet the press." the trouble in the arab world is being felt here at home, most visibly in gasoline prices. the unrest is spooking the markets and gas markets edged up yet again today. aaa says the average price of a gallon of regular is now $3.86. that's up a full dollar from one year ago. nbc's ron mott has more tonight
on the growing pain at the pump. >> reporter: with the nation's average gas price now just 25 cents away from an all time high, many americans are bracing for changes in how they get around. >> that's $81.24 to fill my minivan. that's a lot of money to pay. >> going to fill it up. >> reporter: today in atlanta, smith grubbs paid $4.39 a gallon for premium, saying he might start downgrading future fillups. >> i'm concerned about it. i filled up and it was $62. and i used to fill up for a little over $40. >> reporter: in denver -- >> a great way to save money and stay in shape. >> reporter: -- matt burly is riding out the gas price storm on two wheels rather than four. >> my wife is a teacher and i work for a nonprofit. we have a pretty tight budget. $40 a week is a big deal. >> reporter: in chicago, george cruise only pumped 7 bucks worth of gas. >> if the price goes to 5 bucks, i'm riding my bike every day. >> reporter: in san francisco, home to some of the country's costliest gas, an suv driver
says she might have to lay down her keys as well. >> i'll probably start thinking about public transportation a little bit more. >> reporter: while there aren't many bargains to be found at gas stations these days, some deals can be unearthed with a little bit of digging, especially for those still making vacation plans. in some cases, flying might be a viable option. a round trip ticket this weekend on discount carrier vision airlines from atlanta to destin, florida, is $119, taxes included. how much to drive? at an average $3.73 along the route, in a vehicle getting 20 miles a gallon, the 600 miles there and back costs just about the same. but experts say these surging gas prices could stall whatever economic momentum has been building. >> people cannot afford to pay $50 to fill up their tanks now and that is going to hurt the american consumer and hurt this economic recovery. >> reporter: a recovery, perhaps, with a few more jarring bumps in the road. ron mott, nbc news, atlanta. president obama weighed in
on the price of gas today as the rising numbers at the pump are quickly turning into a political issue. nbc's mike viqueira reports from the white house. >> reporter: just ten blocks from the white house, a sign of political peril for the president. today in his weekly address, mr. obama warned when it comes to a gallon of gas, there is no quick fix. >> the truth is there is no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away. >> reporter: as he kicks off his 2012 run, mr. obama hopes the price at the pump doesn't cost him at the polls. this week he talked tough, appointing a task force to fight fraud and price manipulation in oil markets. >> we're going to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of american consumers for their own short-term gain. >> reporter: but as prices have risen over the last two months, and voters feel more pain at the pump, the president has seen his approval ratings go the other way, dropping from a high of 50% in january. >> higher gas prices unquestionably are a significant contributor to the president's
drop in poll numbers. >> reporter: republicans are again on the attack. just as in 2008. hoping to gain political traction by pushing for more domestic drilling, and insisting on cuts in the president's plan to promote renewable energy sources like wind and solar. with the political battle forming along familiar lines, experts hope this time the result will be different. >> we were at 30% imports in 1973. last year we were at 65% imports. we're going backwards, not forwards. we're not getting the job done through our elected officials. >> reporter: and, kate, another aspect of this that is sure to become a political football comes late next week when the big oil companies report their first quarter profits, sure to be near a record yet again. kate? >> mike viqueira at white house tonight. when "nightly news" continues on this saturday evening, with the guest list now official, an inside look at how london police will protect the city consumed by royal fever.
who served with prince william and was severely injured in afghanistan. and relatives of two of william's friends who were killed in the line of duty. with london about to be loaded with monarchs, politicians, celebrities and throngs of well wishers, security is, of course, a major concern. nbc's keir simmons on the effort to keep london safe. >> reporter: they are almost prepared for the big day. to be in tune and on time, every police horse must be the right shade and shape, every officer ready for anything. because behind the pageantry is a major security operation, estimated to cost up to $30 million. >> we'll have about 5,000 police officers deployed on the day. >> reporter: inside the abbey, there will be dedicated protection officers and as billions watch on tv, the police will be looking more closely the most. this police helicopter is equipped with sophisticated cameras that can shift to infrared or focus on faces from high above.
>> that allows us to sit as we are 1,300 feet above the ground and still deliver very good quality pictures. >> reporter: these helicopters have already been used to survey the routes. now as the day of the royal wedding approaches, they're picking out areas like rooftops, places that are easier to see from up here than they are from down there. the pictures are fed to a central control room, the nerve center of the operation. and even what can't be seen can still be found. >> a lot of venues to be searched by westminster abbey, a lot of cultures, a lot of vehicles, and general patrols to keep everybody happy. >> reporter: the dogs can smell explosives and while the intelligence suggests a terrorist attack is unlikely, there is a long list of other concerns. >> good boy. >> reporter: high among them, worries that the protesters who attacked charles and camilla's car last year may riot again on friday. >> off with their heads! >> reporter: or a repeat of 1981, when a fixated fan fired six blank shots at queen
elizabeth. so as hundreds of thousands if not millions are expected to line the routes, police officers will be looking for troublemakers. >> you will never see them facing the procession, they'll always be facing the crowd. >> reporter: it will cost less than charles and diana's wedding, but the taxpayers will foot most of the bill for a security operation that those in charge hope will not be noticed. because a day without incident -- >> we'll be all be very happy. >> reporter: -- is, the police say, their perfect wedding. keir simmons, nbc news, london. up next, the volatile combination of money, divorce, and baseball.
the los angeles dodgers made big news this week with major league baseball saying essentially the team is unable to manage itself. tonight, nbc's miguel almaguer looks at the demise of a franchise that became mired in problems off the field. >> reporter: the los angeles dodgers are one of the most beloved franchises in all of professional sports. >> rod barajas just tied the game. >> reporter: but this week, the legendary team was taken over by major league baseball, a rare and embarrassing move for the boys in blue, who are swimming in a sea of red. under team owner frank mccourt, the club is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. in a statement, baseball commissioner bud selig wrote, i have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the dodgers.
mccourt, called the league's decision hard to understand. news of the takeover was no doubt a blow for frank mccourt, but certainly not the only piece of bad news for the dodgers' owner. frank mccourt's divorce from wife jamie was public and bitter, even by hollywood standards. frank fired jamie as team ceo in 2009. later claiming in court she slept with one of their employees, an allegation she denied. in testimony, it was revealed the couple withdrew $100 million from the club while maintaining seven luxurious homes. >> the feeling that the dodgers have just become a tainted franchise. their image has been tarnished by a lot of things that the mccourts have done. >> reporter: widely considered a mediocre team on the field, this year most of the dodger problems have come off of it. on opening day, father of two brian stowe was nearly beaten to death in the stadium parking lot, prompting the team to increase spending on security. frank mccourt reportedly needed a $30 million loan just to meet the team's payroll.
>> to see this happen now is an embarrassment. >> reporter: dodgers legend steve garvey would like to buy the team with a group of investors. >> there can only be a dark cloud over a historic franchise for so long. >> reporter: a storied franchise embroiled in drama, right out of a hollywood script. miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles. norio ohga was not a household name in this country, but his death in japan today is worth noting because of his vision. in the 1970s, he believed that something called a compact disc offered better sound quality than old lps. and from there, he developed the cd. he went on to become a president and chairman of sony. when we come back, tricks of the trade, how a royal correspondent gets the scoop.
we learned today that the bells at westminster abbey will ring for three hours after prince william and kate middleton marry, a tidbit of information put out by the royal family which typically keeps things pretty close to the vest. and that can make it tricky to get a royal scoop. but nbc's natalie morales tonight introduces us to one reporter who has managed to do it again and again. >> reporter: robert jobson is considered by many to be king of his world. >> good morning. can we go towards buckingham palace. >> reporter: the world of royal reporting that is. >> i left several messages for
her. >> reporter: the 47-year-old has been keeping tabs on the british monarchy for 20 years. just don't call him a royal watcher. >> words royal watcher make me laugh. it seems like i'm some sort of royal stalker, royal correspondent, royal journalist, you have a specific role, that's to cover the events of the royal family. >> reporter: reporting on the royal family is a competitive business. he spends a good deal of his time at his home away from home, buckingham palace. >> there is no point being stuck in the office on the other side of london, this is where it all happens. >> reporter: not far away is st. james palace, another hot spot on the royal beat. >> this is where the briefings take place, the real action. >> reporter: for jobson, a typical day includes combing the newspapers and websites and most importantly working his contacts the old-fashioned way. >> when it is really important conversation, i always do it face to face. >> reporter: it is here at london's exclusive members only in and out club where those face to face meetings often take place. >> this particular room is a great room for me because i know
it is a very private and quiet room where i can meet people and discuss things completely confidentially. i have to sign the people in who are meeting me. sometimes anonymously. >> reporter: and it is keeping his sources confidential that won jobson the scoop of the year award in 2005. >> i remember when i got a call from the person that saw me that charles was to marry camilla, i broke that story before anybody even knew about it, before the queen told the prime minister. so that was the level of the source and in many ways that put me on the map. >> reporter: jobson clearly found a secret to success, in addition to covering the royals, he's authored several books and even offers up commentary here on nbc. and while all eyes will be on friday's wedding of prince william and kate middleton, this king of royal correspondents will be on the lookout for next big scoop. >> i think it is a great story, yeah. it is a brilliant story. >> reporter: natalie morales, nbc news, london. >> six days and counting. that is "nbc nightly news" for
this saturday. i'm kate snow reporting from new york. for lester holt and for all of us at nbc news, thanks for watching. us at nbc news, thanks for watching. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com good evening. i'm diane dwyer. the giants fan brutally beaten outside dodgers stadium last month remains in critical