tv NBC Nightly News NBC June 21, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
in arizona where 60 homes are smoldering rubble. this spared their lives. >> after it jumped the highway we saw a lot of smoke. >> james tunstel watches the fires follow his family home. >> it's sad and it happened but, you know, life goes on, though. >> reporter: with 42 square miles charred, a moonscape the size of san francisco, the fire was relentless and random. >> when it hit the home, there's no words. >> reporter: dora's home is standing. her neighbor's is not. >> i feel for my neighbors. >> reporter: churning through acres of bone-dry brush the monument fire is still a threat. thousands remain evacuated and some shelters are full. yesterday, we met barbara reeves. >> i just want to know if my house burned down. >> reporter: today, she returned home. >> oh, my god, it looks fine.
>> reporter: for at least this desert resident, a happy ending. the monument fire is now 40% contained. later tonight, crews will use fire to fight fire after another round of evacuations backfires will be used to clear vegetation and the hope, brian, is to prevent more scenes like the one behind me. >> miguel almaguer on if fire line in arizona. and mark potter before that from florida, thanks. some of the images you're about to see in our next report may be disturbing and even disgusting and that's exactly the point. the images have been mandated by your government and they will soon be prominently featured on all packages of cigarettes sold in this country. they're the first changes in 25 years to the warning labels that are routinely ignored by those who choose to smoke. smoking-related diseases kill under just half a million americans every year and experts say these are the most preventible kinds of deaths. nbc's tom costello reports on the government's latest step to
bring the numbers down. >> reporter: the new graphic warning labels depicting diseased lungs, gums and teeth, a smoking tracheotomy patient, a corpse, will make up the top half of cigarette packs and 20% of advertisements. two years ago, congress ordered the new labels as it gave the fda new authority to regulate tobacco. >> with these warnings, every person who picks up a pack of cigarettes is going to know exactly what risk they're taking. >> reporter: it was 1964 when surgeon general luther terry warned of a link between smoking and lung cancer. >> cigarette smoking is related to higher death rates in a number of diseased categories. >> reporter: the first label, warning that smoking may be hazardous to your health appeared in 1966. in 1970, the label warned, cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health. in 1986, four rotating labels warning of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and pregnancy complications.
now the first change in 25 years. roughly 20% of the adult population smokes today, down from 40% in the early '70s. but 4,000 teenagers still light their first cigarette every day. these new warning labels are largely aimed at them. >> kids who are under the impression that smoking is cool or glamorous will be confronted by a very different reality. >> i didn't know that that's what my lungs could look like. >> and you smoke. >> yeah. >> i smoked for 50 years and i know darn well that it wasn't good for me. >> reporter: several tobacco companies are suing to block the new labels arguing even on acute poisons, the warnings are not of this size and character. but starting in september, 2012, a pack-a-day smoker will be confronted with the new warnings, 7,000 times a year. tom costello, nbc news, washington. and here in washington, as the senate just today unanimously confirmed leon panetta as the new defense
secretary, president obama is preparing to reveal some important news tomorrow night. the details of american troop withdrawals from afghanistan. a primetime speech tomorrow evening, but tonight, already our chief white house correspondent chuck todd, already has some details of his own. he's with us from across town at the white house, chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. in primetime tomorrow night the president will detail and fulfill a pledge he made in december of 2009, that some troop withdrawals would begin in july of 2011. july starts next week. so here's what the president is going to lay out. there were three measures of success that he laid out in december of 2009. to deny al qaeda a safe haven. to reverse the taliban's momentum and stand up to afghanistan forces. the president will say progress has been made on all three fronts and go as far as to say the operational capability of al qaeda is now been defeated or destroyed. essentially victory over al
qaeda in afghanistan and pakistan. on the other two fronts that's not necessarily mission accomplished just yet so the number of troops anywhere from 10 to 30,000, will be removed in the next 18 months but keep this in mind, brian, over 50,000 american troop will still be there in 2013 and maybe even well into 2014, so still a long way to go but a significant number of american military coming home in the next 18 months. >> okay, chuck, chuck todd at the white house goes without saying, nbc will have live coverage of the speech tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern time. now we switch over to presidential politics. and another official entry into the republican field. jon huntsman who left his job as president obama's ambassador in china to try to replace president obama, which brings us to andrea mitchell and another one joins the fray. >> jon huntsman is harley-loving mormon, a former utah governor
who is modeling his campaign on ronald reagan's but his kickoff didn't go quite as he expected. >> i'm jon huntsman and i'm running for president of the united states, thank you all. >> reporter: until recently, president obama's ambassador to china. father of seven, including two adopted children. son of a billionaire. hoping to become the alternative to presume front-runner mitt romney, also a mormon. >> he's pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business, pro- civil unions and pro immigration, it's an interesting mix and people are ready for something different. >> reporter: with the statue of liberty behind him he channelled ronald reagan's 1980's campaign without the polish. before he was introduced a faulty sound system. >> we just came from new york where we announced in front of the statue of liberty --
>> reporter: except he wasn't in new york, it was new jersey. in a tumultuous tea party area he appealed for old-fashioned civility. >> but the question each of us want the voters to answer is who will be the better president? not who's the better american. >> reporter: but civility can be hard to find. after posting this web video, by the way the rider was not the candidate, huntsman was blindsided by this response. from republican rival rick santorum, attacking huntsman to ban abortions, and more likely to back michele bachmann or texas governor rick perry, a possible candidate. >> if huntsman were to get the republican nomination he could be the strongest one of the whole bunch. i think the bigger challenge is
getting that nomination. >> and as huntsman joined the fray, newt gingrich's campaign continued to implode. today, two top fundraisers quit joining the staff exodus. and there was also an iconic moment as occurs on these campaigns. mitt romney in colorado in a mexican restaurant trying to trade a dollar bill with a young boy, all he could find in his wallet first were $100 bills. brian? can't make it up. >> these little moments from the campaign, seemingly inconsequential can sometimes be indelible or when they're president, both bushes had theirs. the supermarket scanner and george w. bush saying "the googles" about the internet era. i understand there's yet another from the campaign trail? >> there is. not yet a candidate. rick perry, very likely to get in, the governor of texas, today, trying to show that he is down with social media. >> until then, if you've had
enough, take out your phone and text "fed up" to 95613. and you can always follow me on tweeter at governor perry. thanks for this award. god bless you. >> you can always find him on tweeter. >> i think tweeter is destined to find its way into the language. andrea, thanks. we turn to news overseas. breaking news about the financial crisis we've been following in greece. the whole world is watching as the greek government's struggling to get its house in order. survived a big hurdle today despite protests outside parliament. the government got the vote of confidence it needed to stay in power but it was a narrow victory. this vote doesn't do anything to solve the financial mess, but it does give the government the go-ahead to vote on austerity measures necessary to avoid total default. in russia, 44 people, including four with duel u.s./russian citizenship died when a 31-year-old russian
tupolev 134 passenger jet crashed in heavy fog, burst into flames near finland. eight people survived including a 9-year-old boy. they say pilot error appears to be the cause. when we come back here tonight, first lady michelle obama and family in south africa for a face-to-face meeting. and later, for kids in a tough environment a teacher making a sacrifice, making music and making a difference.
when they spent some time at the home of one of the true living icons of the modern world. nelson mandela, traveling with them and reporting again tonight from johannesberg, kristen welker. >> reporter: good evening. nelson mandela hadn't been in the greatest health so we didn't know if this meeting would happen. earlier today he invited mrs. obama to his johannesberg home and the result? some iconic images. the meeting was brief, but historic. america's first african-american first lady and her daughters, with south africa's freedom fighting, nelson mandela. >> whatever the political differences between these two countries they share a bond, a really painful racial history, and people here would have seen today's meeting as a particularly special moment. >> reporter: 92 years old and in frail health, he spent 20 minutes with the first lady, also showing her his new book. >> i'm very happy that she saw
him and that that is indicative, i think, to his state of health. >> he spent 18 years as a political prisoner alongside nelson mandela at robben island which mrs. obama will tour later this week. he gave then senator barack obama, a tour of the prison in 2006, shared his impression of mandela today. >> the outstanding qualities are, of course, his foresight and courage and care and compassion for all people. >> reporter: mrs. obama also spent time touring the offices of the nelson mandela foundation with mandela's wife, including a museum dedicated to preserving his personal records from the apartheid era. and outside the city of johannesberg was abuzz. this local radio station was flooded with calls. >> i've got alex on the line. you've seen the obama convoy, have you, alex? >> yes, david. >> reporter: mrs. obama ended the day playing with kids at a daycare center and reading an american favorite.
>> "the cat in the hat" i used to read this book to malia and sash all the time when they were little. >> reporter: spending time with those that inherited freedom that nelson mandela fought so hard to win. now, tomorrow mrs. obama will deliver the keynote speech of this trip to 75 young women in soweta. the message will be one of youth leadership and empowerment, brian? >> kristen, traveling with the first lady and party in johannesburg tonight, thanks. up next here for us, it's been so long. can you even remember anymore which airline was the first to charge for carry-on bags? wait until you hear the next thing they're going to charge us for.
spirit airlines is going to start charging $5 to print out a boarding pass at the counter. but the discount carrier which is known for its spirited press releases is advertising this as a new fare discount, $5 off all of your fares if you print your own boarding pass at home. starting in 2012, they're going to charge $1 to use the kiosk at the airport. mark kelly retires after 25 years of service. the astronaut and u.s. navy captain was commander as you know, of the last mission of the space shuttle "endeavor's" last mission and he announced he's retiring to spend more time with his wife congresswoman gabby giffords. and they say they are writing a
book about their relationship and the ordeal they've been through since her shooting in january. and the white house would probably love to believe this next piece of videotape as evidence of special healing powers. it isn't but it is amusing, especially if you've raised kids or held one before. so michelle obama and her husband, the president, were handed a screaming baby during a recent white house picnic gathering. the child was inconsolable until the president picked him up, whatever he did, it worked. whatever it was we sure could have used that in our house a few years back. when we come back here tonight, making beautiful music and making a difference in young lives in the process.
these are tough times for teachers across this country, despite all of the talk over education, budget cuts have led to layoffs. and then programs get dropped. we'll never know why it happens. when money gets tight, education gets hurt. but, of course, it could be very tough on the students, most of all. especially in struggling communities. like paterson, new jersey. one determined teacher there
isn't giving up. he's actually "making a difference" in the process. his story from nbc's ron allen. >> reporter: the violin has taken nathan thomas around the world, performing and studying music. these days, his passion is teaching in a place with a more urban than classical beat. paterson, new jersey. saturday morning, thomas tunes up the paterson strings ensemble, practicing for their annual recital. >> it's been a real joy for me to watch them go from learning how to hold the instrument to creating beautiful music. >> reporter: and what's more, thomas teaches these students without getting paid. he's unemployed. laid off from this middle school, after ten award-winning years, including "teacher of the year." hard times have forced the school system to lay off about 10% of its staff in recent years. hundreds of teachers and virtually eliminate programs in music and fine arts.
so thomas bought the violins and drives about 80 miles round trip to this church that lets the ensemble use the sanctuary. >> everybody asks me why and the honest answer is because i know it's the right thing to do. one, two, three. >> mr. thomas is one of the best teachers i've ever met. he's one of the best people i've ever met. he knows what he's doing. >> welcome to our annual spring concert. >> reporter: this year's recital they say was the biggest and best yet. >> my ultimate hope is to see them have a complete education. to see them develop into noble adults who can give back to society in their own way. >> reporter: even though thomas lost his job, he still has a mission -- to teach with compassion and a song in his heart. ron allen, nbc news, paterson, new jersey. >> good note to end on. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night.
thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we're reporting tonight from our nbc news washington bureau. we'll look for you back in new york tomorrow night. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> good evening and thanks for being with us tonight. >> and i'm raj matha sgli not so fast. that's the word from state controller john chung who is holding the paychecks of california lawmakers who thought they had agreed to a new budget last week.