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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  April 26, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight, it's not over yet. after devastating entire communities with twisters and water, it's on the move tonight, and we're on top of the storm. packing them in. the man a lot of voters are coming out to see and hear. and what he's trying to tell them about the future of the country. chopping block. the new money crisis in america's schools. some worry it will hurt our children even before they can get started. there in spirit. the looming presence behind the royal wedding, now just three days away. also tonight, the loss of one of the great american voices. one of the great american voices. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. it has already flattened and flooded several communities. last night here we said it would go on causing damage for the next three days. and tonight a monster storm system continues its slow churn across the united states. this has fired off some intense cells of tornadoes and flooding rains and has already left behind a lot of destruction. and when you look at where it's been, where it's headed, and who is still at risk to feel the effects of at least part of this storm, you see its true reach in size from west to east. tonight there are six tornado watches in effect in 13 separate states. and again, before this is all over, 150 million americans will experience this weather system. we have it all covered tonight. we'll start off with mike seidel from the weather channel. he's in arkansas this evening. mike, good evening. >> reporter: and good evening, brian. 24 hours ago this small community was bracing for some
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bad spring weather, battening down the hatches for a rough night. but no one could have foreseen what could change this weather pattern, what happened here, and what changed lives forever. >> there it is. massive. massive wedge tornado. coming over the hill. >> reporter: storm chaser video captures the enormous tornado that swept through arkansas last night. >> oh, my goodness. this thing is huge. >> reporter: just 25 miles north of little rock in the small town of vilonia more than a dozen homes were destroyed. >> it got pretty rough for a few minutes. >> reporter: officials say the tornado, called a wedge because of its shape and large width, had wind speeds as high as 135 miles per hour. >> the wind just started howling. >> reporter: in this town of 3,800 there was little time to take cover. >> then all heck broke loose and something come crashing through the front door, and it just -- you know, we just thought the house was going to explode any second. >> reporter: today residents
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awoke to find neighbors missing and homes flattened and began to try to pick up the pieces. >> just dropped everything out there. >> heartbreaking. everything you've worked for all these years just gone. >> reporter: with the forecast warning of more bad weather, officials worry they may not be able to help everyone who's been affected before the next storm hits. >> we're just going to take it one step at a time and just do the best we can. that's all we can do. >> reporter: brian, this same storm system with its damaging wind and heavy rain now threatens other communities. my colleague julie martin is north of here in poplar bluff, missouri, where they've already evacuated 1,000 residents because the levee on the black river had been breached. julie? >> reporter: they are roads turned into rivers. >> this is bad. >> reporter: since friday more than a foot of rain has saturated this small ozark community, flooding farm land and neighborhood streets, stranding people and their pets. >> we went down 53 highway on a
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boat to get louisiana. >> the dog? >> yes. she was scared. >> reporter: amid the saves, a sinking fear. the earthen levee lining the black river, a barrier pushed to its limits and breaking. >> it's at the point now with these levees failing that we're looking at more rescue situations than we are people able to leave. >> reporter: missouri is under a state of emergency. hundreds are spending the night at the red cross shelter here. for the osborne family there's simply nowhere else to go. >> i want to get out of the -- >> reporter: but some won't leave until it gets worse. >> when you've worked hard to maintain everything you've got, it's just hard to just give it up to mother nature without a fight. >> reporter: and it could be at least another day of touch and go here in southeast missouri. expecting to pick up another three to four inches, which would only further weaken that failing levee, brian. >> all right. julie martin in poplar bluff, missouri. mike seidel before that. and we want to go now to their
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colleague, weather channel meteorologist jim cantore. he's in arkadelphia, arkansas tonight, where it got sporty a little while ago. jim, we were watching your incoming feed. >> reporter: yeah, brian. the savage april continues here. and what makes tonight really interesting is the fact that yes, we've dealt with one round of storms. some of them have gone tornado off to our east. but the atmosphere is just so perfect and conditioned for tornadoes, another punch of the atmosphere is going to come in through here and we will have more storms that will possibly produce tornadoes here. probably a couple of times as we go on through the night tonight. so much real estate. as we move into tomorrow, too, you can see huge areas, especially from tupelo into huntsville, up into nashville, we'll be under that high risk for these long track and deadly tornadoes. and then as we get into thursday as these storms track overnight on wednesday it's the i-95 corridor. so as you mentioned, some 150 million people will be affected. when it's all over and we get a chance to breathe, 300 gauges will be in flood and hundreds of thousands of acres will still be underwater. brian? >> all right. jim cantore in arkadelphia,
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arkansas. jim, we hope you and your team stay as safe as possible as we go on into the night covering all of this. now we turn to news from overseas, to the rapidly deteriorating crisis in syria, with the bloody government crackdown on protesters escalating there. the u.s. state department is telling american citizens now to leave the country. others are wondering how long the u.s. can stay out of the fray. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, reports tonight on what may be another no-win situation for america. >> reporter: human rights groups say hundreds of protesters have been killed in the last few days. some gunned down in the streets. and today more than 2,000 security police reportedly fanned out across a damascus suburb. but this is what syrian government tv showed tonight. a funeral, it claimed of 15 soldiers killed by demonstrators. in daraa the situation is desperate, says al jazeera's
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rula amin, one of the few reporters in syria. >> anyone who dares to get onto the streets is risking to be shot because the army is deployed heavily and is shooting at anyone who's on the street. people are scared. they are panicking. they want to try to flee town, but there's no way out. >> reporter: in addition to those killed, hundreds more have gone missing, taken from their homes. >> just in the last couple of days security forces have been going from house to house, arresting people and taking them into detention. >> reporter: the ruthless crackdown and reports of iranian involvement put more pressure on the white house and the rest of the world to do something. >> we're pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions to respond to the crackdown and make clear that this behavior by the syrian government is unacceptable. >> reporter: president obama met today with the crown prince of the united arab emirates. as the arab league issued a statement without mentioning syria specifically, saying the protesters deserve support, not bullets. mr. obama also talked yesterday
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to turkey's prime minister erdogan, who today urged syria's president assad to move toward democracy. >> we could end up seeing in one of the syrian or more of the syrian cities the massacre that we feared would happen in benghazi, libya. >> reporter: but unlike libya, so far the arab league, the u.s., and even israel prefer assad, the devil they know, to whatever might replace him in a country with no organized opposition, just a courageous but unpredictable protest movement. brian? >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight. andrea, thanks. and we have an update on the situation in libya tonight. nato is saying, and our own richard engel confirms, it's stepping up its air attacks on high-value gadhafi targets to cripple his ability to command his own military and to protect civilians. meanwhile, the gadhafi regime is trying to rally other african nations against these western air strikes, saying the west is trying to "colonize africa once again."
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in the world of domestic politics tonight, texas congressman ron paul announced today he is forming at least an exploratory committee for what would be his third run for the republican presidential nomination. paul, who is 76 years of age, is the senior statesman of what you could call the libertarian wing of the party and is expected to do well with the tea party and raise some money because of his support for budget cutting and small government. meanwhile, the young republican congressman who has become the party's point person on the federal budget took his plan on the road today, directly to the people in his home state of wisconsin. nbc's kelly o'donnell was on the trail along with him. she's with us tonight from kenosha. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: hi there, brian. well, from town to town we saw paul ryan get an earful from voters here. the powerful house budget committee chairman is fighting for his plan to reduce the country's debt. during this visit he's got 19 meetings. four of them just today. >> hey, everybody. >> reporter: he's the republican
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number cruncher. >> we put our budget on a path to not only balance but to pay off the debt. >> reporter: 41-year-old father of three paul ryan has represented wisconsin more than a dozen years. suddenly he's a lightning rod. >> paul ryan looks like a nice young man. >> reporter: targeted by liberal groups. >> ending medicare so millionaires can get another tax break? >> reporter: a laugh line on cable. >> we do tax the top. the top -- [ boos ]. >> that is paul ryan, the architect of the plan, being booed! >> reporter: today ryan claimed his critics don't get it. >> it's people who don't understand what we're doing with medicare. what i find is there's a lot of demagoguery and distortion occurring. >> reporter: armed with a powerpoint sales pitch, ryan is traveling his district to explain and defend his controversial budget overhaul. >> we say leave medicare intact for current seniors as it is today, reform it for the next generation so that it doesn't go bankrupt --
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>> reporter: under his plan those under 55 would shop for private health insurance and get federal money to pay part of the premium based on financial need, a drastic change. >> my concern is that my 48-year-old son is not going to have medicare. >> reporter: that scares and angers many voters in ryan's back yard. >> do not renew the bush tax credit for the wealthy. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: ryan is strongly backed by republican leaders, and many here say ryan is right and the political risk he's taking is worth it. >> i admire what he's doing because he's taking it on. >> i can go do something else with my life. i sleep very soundly knowing that what i'm trying to do is help fix this country's problems. >> reporter: and at one of the stops there was a standing ovation for ryan. at a couple of the events today there were so many people who wanted to get in but not enough room. fire marshals had to turn them away. brian? >> kelly o'donnell in kenosha tonight. kelly, thanks for that. and when we come back here this evening, more on these tough budget times and our kids, about to be forced to pay a
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heavy price. and she won't be present for it, but her presence will be felt during every moment of friday's royal wedding.
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we're back now with what a lot of people see as a big problem in this country. when money gets tight, education gets cut and kids pay for it. today the secretary of education warned that cutting spending on early childhood education isn't smart. but a new report from rutgers in new jersey says a lot of states are choosing to do just that. and spending on pre-k is getting cut. nbc's tom costello has our "education nation" report tonight. >> [ speaking spanish ]. >> reporter: in washington, d.c. oyster adams is the immersion school that hundreds of parents, rich and poor, want for their kids. starting in preschool, half the
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day is spent in spanish, half in english. the principal says she's seen firsthand the difference pre-k can make, especially for underprivileged kids. >> you absolutely need a rigorous school experience before kindergarten to be on the same playing field as your peers. >> reporter: but research out today suggests that state funding for preschool education is on the decline. nationwide, state per-student spending for preschoolers averaged $4,028 in 2010. $114 less than 2009. $700 less than in 2001. today the education secretary argued we're shortchanging our kids. >> i simply think we can't win the future by cheating children at the starting line. >> reporter: without preschool researchers say the most at-risk kids enter kindergarten already 12 months behind. the social and academic delays can snowball. >> if you get to third grade and you're a year behind, if you get to sixth grade and you're a year or two years behind, you're going to be a dropout. >> reporter: but there are budget realities.
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last year states cut their pre-k funding by $30 million. of the 40 states that fund preschool education, 19 cut spending in 2010. 9 states cut by more than 10%. they're not easy choices. nearly every state is facing hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in budget shortfalls. now even congress is considering cuts to early education programs. pre-k advocates insist it's an investment in the next generation. pay now, they say, or pay the consequences later. tom costello, nbc news, washington. also on the education front, we learned today that for the first time in our history more american women than men have completed college. new data from the census bureau showing that among what's being called the employed population, age 25 and older, 37% of women have attained at least a bachelor's degree compared to 35% of men. there's business news tonight. ford announced today it had the highest first-quarter profit since 1998.
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$2.5 billion. the company, as you'll recall, didn't take bailout money. they have sold a lot of small high-mileage cars, raised prices on average $250. up next here tonight, remembering a man who invented a way of making people look better than they really are.
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♪ you're the poetry man ♪ you make things all right radio stations across the country have been playing that song all day following the sad news this morning that phoebe snow had died. "poetry man" back in 1975 was really her only big song. it was long rumored to be written about jackson browne. but she vehemently denied it. she was a superb musician, folk guitarist and collaborator. she recorded ten albums. she joined paul simon on the duet "gone at last." she appeared on "snl." she did a lot of commercial jingles over the years. but she left public life to care for her severely brain-damaged daughter. she told an interviewer a few years back, "my life was her, completely about her from the moment i woke up to the moment i
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went to bed at night." her daughter died four years ago at the age of 31. phoebe snow died from complications of a brain hemorrhage. she was just 60 years old. it's been long rumored, but today it was made official. after five years as anchor of the cbs evening news, our friend and nbc news alum katie couric will be leaving the anchor chair. she is reportedly close to announcing a deal for a daily talk show to air on stations around the country. no word yet on katie's successor officially. and that brings us to a tool of the trade that all of us employ. it's in the news because the inventor of the teleprompter has died. his name was hubert schlafly. and there's no way he could have known back in 1950 how much his invention would change communication. he made the first one for use in a soap opera in lieu of a human verbal prompter. but then presidents discovered the device, starting with ike. and few of them will give a major speech without it. and then there are the
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television anchors. you see, the teleprompter makes it possible for someone as dumb as a box of rocks to seem well-spoken and informed. hubert schlafly went on to cable business and satellites, even radar. he was 91 years old. and last night here something i wrote for the teleprompter turned out not to be true. we told you about a report in the "atlantic" saying the last typewriter manufacturer had shut down. and we might have killed off the typewriter too quickly. it turns out just like white-out they still make typewriters. we found at least one manufacturer today. so the old-schoolers need not be alarmed. up next here tonight, the figure in the background of the royal wedding this week in london. at one time the most recognized woman in the world.
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♪ and finally tonight, as we look at westminster abbey, three days to go until the royal wedding in london, and reports from there indicate american media way outnumber british media right in their own back yard. americans have had a long-time
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obsession with that family. and much of the interest in this wedding stems from the fact that the young groom, the future king of england, radiates his late mother in his face and in his smile and will forever seem that way. and then of course there's about to be a new princess as well. our report tonight from nbc's kate snow in london. >> reporter: it was william who ensured his mother would be a part of the big day. >> she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement, but this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all. >> you look at william, you see diana. >> reporter: author christopher anderson says the two had an exceptional bond. >> she sought his advice about much of everything. she called william her -- "my little old wise man." >> reporter: and so the inevitable comparisons. no one expects this wedding to be as over the top as 1981, with diana's 25-foot train.
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>> there's clearly a move afoot to try to steer away from a charles and diana wedding, to be more following the lead of the queen and prince philip, who after all have had a long and faithful marriage and have been the bedrocks of a modern monarchy and the survival of the modern monarchy. >> reporter: and what about these two women? pick the right photos and they can look so similar, like they're playing the same part in a play, both nervous in their first on-camera interviews. but they are very different people. kate, a country girl with working-class roots. >> how would you describe kate middleton? >> well balanced would be the first thing i'd say about kate middleton. i think there's nothing fraught about her. there's no hidden turmoil there in the way that there was with diana. >> reporter: and she's had more time to get used to the role. william and kate were friends first, built a relationship over many years. kate has reportedly studied videos of diana and received training from the palace on how to cope with the constant scrutiny. >> i would love to have met her,
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and she's obviously -- she's an inspirational woman to look up to. >> reporter: diana would embrace a child with aids or walk among land mines to make a point. >> she was a darling of millions of people. i think that kate and william will be slightly more careful. they will try to present, if you like, a dream double act rather than two solo superstars like charles and diana presented themselves. >> reporter: the memory of diana can't help but shape their future. the altar where william and kate marry is the very place he walked to behind his mother's casket. >> hello. >> reporter: friends say he's very protective of kate, that he learned from his mother kindness, the ability to love. william once said not a day goes by that he doesn't think about his mother. on his wedding day the world will be thinking about her, too. kate snow, nbc news, london. >> and a reminder. nbc news live coverage of the
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royal wedding begins at 4:00 a.m. eastern time, 3:00 a.m. central, and for the west coast hardcore diehards that would be 1:00 a.m. pacific time. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- right now at 6:00, a flag flight. the gay pride flag and the connection to the death of a hollywood legend. >> tonight, a local man says his man was bullied at this high school. i'm live in walnut creek. why he says school officials did little about it. it's a story you will only see on nbc bay area. >> an explosion leaves three people injured. the news at 6:00


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