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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  June 25, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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mike inouye and christina lauren were out there pulling weeds and helping others. they took out some nonnative plants to help restore the natural habitat there. we'll see you back here tonight at 6:00. same-sex marriage. what both sides are saying now. sudden impact. that deadly collision between a big rig and amtrak train. just whatt wrong. high alert. a critical moment in the flood zone tonight as the river reaches historic heights. and to the rescue. an incredible outpouring for the other victims of one of the worst tornados on record. tonight, they're going home. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. the state of new york is bracing for an expected marriage boom following last night's historic vote by law makers to legalize same-sex marriage here. by this time next month, gay couples will be free to wed in new york, something they are unable legally to do in all but five other states in the nation's capitol. the bill's passage reflected the national debate that still rages over same-sex marriage. peter alexander is in greenwich village tonight with reaction. >> reporter: good evening. this is where the gay rights movement was born. right outside the stone wall inn. that was 1969. it was the home of violent demonstrations. today, it's simply a place of euphoria as new york becomes the latest and largest state to give gay and lesbian couples the right to wed.
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in the streets of manhattan's greenwich village last night, celebrations and overflowing pride. >> tonight is our night to say, hey, we can do whatever we want. we can get married or not get married and it's not up to you any more. >> reporter: following year of debate, the bill passed new york state's republican-led senate friday. among those voting yes, a republican senator mark asante who ran for office vowing to oppose same-sex marriage before having a change of heart. >> who am i to say that someone does not have the same rights that i have with my wife who i love or they have the 1,300 plus rights i share with her? >> reporter: the bill marks a major victory for democratic governor andrew cuomo who signed it into law before midnight. >> we have reached a new level of social justice this evening.
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marriage equality. i said to the legislatures, you look at the first word marriage, it's really about the second word equality. >> reporter: the new law is not without opponents, including tim dolan, who said he was deeply disappointed and troubled by a measure that will alter radically humanity's historic understanding of marriage. new york joins five other states and the district of columbia allowing same-sex marriage. it's specifically banned in 41 states. today, new york's vote was celebrated across the atlantic from paris to berlin. recent polls suggest americans are still divided over same-sex marriage, but support has been steadily increasing, forcing some republicans to reconsider long-held positions. >> the politicians realize, well, we're on the losing side of this. we're losing on the 30s by something like 3-1. and if we stick our heels in, we're going to look as if we were resistant to the forces of history. >> reporter: in new york city,
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nick and rick, together for the last ten years, are the parents of 3-year-old twins. >> ours is a different family, but it should have the same rights as any other family. >> reporter: they are already making plans to marry late next month. when the law goes into effect. >> i think it will just sort of be nice to finally say, i'm married. >> reporter: and the celebrations here in new york city are expected to last well through the weekend, lester. tomorrow, coincidentally, is the annual gay pride parade. >> it wasn't talked about during the debate, but i understand there's an economic payoff to this. >> reporter: that is exactly right. new york state is expecting a surge of gay couples to come to this state to wed. a recent survey estimated roughly $184 million would come in over the next three years if this law was passed, as it's been. also, new york city has come to an agreement that there will be more state judges available to perform these same-sex marriages.
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>> peter alexander here in new york, thank you. it's going to be a long, tense night in flood ravaged minot, north dakota, where all eyes are fixed on the souris river, which is now expected to crest overnight. janel klein joins us from minot. good evening. >> reporter: the souris river is still on the rise. expected to crest tonight, but already, a quarter of the population here in minot is under water. tonight, crews are working furiously, desperate to save the neighborhoods that haven't yet been destroyed. the souris river is still climbing to levels never before seen, already breaking a record set in the 1880s. with much of minot under water, all eyes remain on broadway bridge, the last main artery linking the two sides of the city. if it goes under, minot will be cut in half. new forecasts put the crest two feet lower than expected, but the city remains on edge.
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>> tonight and the next several days are going to be critical and give it the highest level of risk. >> across town, national guard bulldozers rip down another bridge. this one in danger of being swept away by the rushing water. it swamped 4,000 homes and businesses so far and both are boats are the only way in to most neighborhoods. dean anderson's job is to rescue those still trapped in their homes, but like so many helping here, his own house is under water. >> our first call happened to be in the neighborhood write live. i did have the opportunity to see my home and that was good to see it. and i'm not alone. there's several thousand others dealing with the same thing that i'm dealing with. >> even the head of the local red cross is homeless, with a quarter of the town forced to evacuate. >> i looked at my house, under about nine feet of water. it's right to the top. >> volunteers from as far as california are scrambling to set
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up shelters for 12,000 people. it could be weeks before it's safe for them to go back. almost none have flood insurance. >> they are referring to it as a 500-year event. something absolutely off the charts. something that you would never plan for. >> reporter: the river is flowing right now at 170 times its normal rate, astounding even the national weather service. one forecaster compares it to a feather on your face. tonight, he's calling it a mike tyson punch. >> thank you. and there is more flooding and extreme weather to talk about tonight. for that, we are joined by the weather channel's samantha mohr. good evening. >> can't hold another drop here, lester. along the missouri river, six times what we would normally see in an average year, we're seeing scenes like this along the missouri river with flooded communities and farmland. and sioux city in omaha are
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going to be in flood stage through thursday on the missouri river. we're going to be watching that carefully. and to too little rain, extreme drought from arizona all the way over to the coast of florida and georgia and look at this smoke from the resulting wildfires. the drought situation not helping here. the governor of north carolina has declared a state of emergency in the eastern portions of the state due to 07,000 acres being consumed. we've seen 4.6 million acres so far this year consumed across this country. that is more than twice the ten-year average. we need a really good soaker, lester, to put an end to this. we turn to the nevada desert where investigators are looking into the cause of a deadly accident that left an amtrak train engulfed in smoke. and sent almost 100 people to the hospital. miguel almaguer is on the scene. >> reporter: tonight, we know at least two people are dead, although that number could climb and as investigators comb through the wreckage, they believe the tractor trailer
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driver tried to slam on his brakes, but there so many unanswered questions. with federal investigators now on scene, the search for additional bodies was underway this afternoon. the whole of the amtrak train so badly damaged, investigators couldn't quickly confirm the number of dead. >> she's out there! >> reporter: the chaos and confusion of friday's catch was captured by cell phone. fire and smoke billowed from the train as survivors scrambled to safety. >> i heard a big bump and a big, old large scrape and it shook out and hit something. >> reporter: a tractor trailer slammed into the side of the number four passenger car as the barrelled through the nevada desert. 218 people were aboard. the collision, followed by an explosion and sheer panic. >> slid across, like i'm in the pit of hell. >> reporter: the westbound california zephyr was in route to emeryville, california, when
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it was struck outside of nevada. as flames ripped through the train, passengers dove to safety. >> spread quickly to the second carriage. >> reporter: passengers spilled into the desert. it took paramedics almost 20 minutes to reach the rural area. >> doesn't feel like it's really real. watching a flaming train burn. >> reporter: with those critically injured, air-lifted to local hospitals, nearly 100 would be treated for injuries. back at the crash site, investigators focused not only on the train, but the tractor trailer driver. the highway patrol said railroad warning lights and gates were working correctly. so today as investigators look for bodies, they also search for answers. although the full ntsb investigation will take months, investigators hope to know more about the big rig's driver condition including his medical history and what he was like when he was behind the wheel on friday.
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>> miguel, thanks. the capture this week of the boston gangster james "white any" bulger has brought renewed attention to an icon of the fbi. the most wanted list. it was also a reminder in this digital age, old fashioned mug shots are not enough. we have more from pete williams. >> reporter: what was it that the fbi says led agents to the california apartment where whitey bulger was living? publicity. >> this is an announcement by the fbi. have you seen this woman? >> reporter: the day after this tv ad began running seeking help in finding bulger's girlfriend, the fbi got a tip leading them to her and bulger at their apartment in santa monica, though the ad itself did not run in the los angeles area. >> about how they are trying to catch whitey bulger -- >> reporter: stories were seen. in local and national media. >> of their current strategy to find whitey by finding catherine. >> reporter: attention is also the goal behind placing someone on the fbi's time-honored ten
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most wanted list. when bulger was added in 1999, he was 69, the oldest person ever put on the list. >> today's announcement is to put on to the fbi's top ten list, two crime fugitives. >> reporter: the purpose, to enlist public help in locating fugitives who are hard to catch. the top ten was the idea of j. edgar hoover, who liked the attention generated by his newspaper story about the top toughest guys the fbi were trying to catch. the current list includes four fugitives wanted for murder, one for a financial scam and victor gerena, wanted for taking $7 million from a security company. 60 years ago, posters went up in post offices. now, it's on the web and on social networks, facebook and twitter. top tenners are also rotated among the ads on digital billboards from times square to busy highways nationwide.
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that bulger tv ad was born of the same idea. >> we knew a lot about the girlfriend. we knew about what she looked like. we knew some of her interests. we thought perhaps if we targeted a certain audience and tried to get this information out to the right people, perhaps someone my have seen her. >> reporter: who gets the fbi's attention has also changed. the top ten list was once bank robbers and kidnappers. now, it includes international criminals and terrorists. osama bin laden was on the list, too. but throughout the fbi's history, one thing has remained a top ten staple. fugitive mob bosses like whitey bulger. pete williams, nbc news, washington. when "nightly news" continues this saturday night, an unexpected turn in the blockbuster case that has viewer hooked on every word. and later, welcome to the family. hundreds come to hard-hit job lynn, missouri, to take on some new best friends.
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there was supposed to be more testimony today in the sensational murder trial of casey anthony who was accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, but there was an unexpected turn as we hear from nbc's kerry sanders. >> reporter: before the jury entered the courtroom today -- >> he doesn't even know if this is new or tonight. >> reporter: jose baez and jeff ashton were at it again. this time, openly sparring over an expert with it's witness'
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expected testimony. >> i'm afraid once again, we are in the position of experts having accept supplemented their opinions without notice to the state. >> reporter: accused murderer casey anthony stared emotionless, as the prosecutor ranted again the defense again broke florida court rules, trying to bring in surprise testimony at the last minute. then without explanation, the judge abruptly adjourned what was to be five hours of testimony today. a mysterious end to the day that won't be explained until at least monday. this after a week that had another jaw-dropping twist. >> i found out my granddaughter has been taken. >> reporter: almost four weeks ago, casey anthony's mother cindy testified for the state and was overcome with emotion as she listened with the jury to her 911 call. that her daughter's car had the stench of death, appearing to support the state's claim that caylee's lifeless body had been stowed in the trunk for several days before being dumped in the woods.
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but this week, both cindy and casey's brother, lee, delivered powerful testimony that appeared to contradict that claim with pictures of caylee opening the door to the backyard all alone, then photos of her in the swimming pool. cindy anthony, now seeming to support what the judge calls the defense theory of an accidental drowning. >> do you know what that photograph is of? >> yes. >> would you like to take a break? >> no, i'm okay. >> learning from cindy anthony how much caylee loved to swim and then seeing the photographs of her climbing up the ladder in the pool is a first step toward proving accidental drowning, but the defense still has to connect the dots. >> reporter: for 28 days now, casey anthony, at times in tears when the jury is in the room, and when they're out, rarely shedding a tear, facing a potential death penalty if convicted of murder. kerry sanders, nbc news, orlando. up next, into the wild.
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the first lady and her daughters on safari. taking in some of africa's incredible sights.
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some important health news to tell you about tonight. diabetes is far more widespread than previously thought. a study found that over the last three decades, the number of adults with diabetes more than doubled to 347 million. in almost every part of the world, diabetes rates rose or
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at best remained the same. in southern africa, first lady michelle obama and her family got a taste of where wild things are today. they went on safari at a game reserve in botswana. kristen welker is there for us tonight. >> reporter: a wild end to the first lady's week-long trip in africa. michelle obama and daughters, malia and sasha on a saturday safari. a moment of fun after a trip filled with messages of hope. >> we will be looking to all of you, our young people, to lead the way. >> reporter: the week also marked by iconic moments. the obamas met nelson mandela and together, reached out to south africa's youth. >> you will have to get rid of thing 1 and thing 2 -- >> as fast as i could i went after neigh net. >> reporter: the first daughters seemed to be in the spotlight this week more than ever. >> our overall goal is to make sure that our girls are not in the public eye. this is a rare and important trip and experience for them.
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>> reporter: prior to this trip, some officials here in africa critiqued the president for not paying enough attention to this region. white house officials say that's unfounded, by they hope the first lady's trip will help advance the president's fricke policies, aimed at promoting stable governments and healthy societies. and reaching out to young women. from johannesburg to cape town, to botswana, where she spoke at a women's leadership conference. >> it is a pleasure to be in this beautiful country that embodies what my husband has called a vision of africa on the move. >> reporter: a message that resonated for the young women in the audience. >> just felt that it's possible. it's possible to -- to realize your dreams. >> reporter: only her second solo official overseas trip, but clearly, the first lady's biggest moment on the world stage. kristen welker, nbc news, botswana. when we come back, new best friends, together at last in
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joplin, missouri.
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tonight, a survivor's story. one month after the deadly tornado that ripped apart much of joplin, missouri, folks from far and wide came to the city today for a chance to adopt
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hundreds of pets, orphaned by the tornado. tom llamas is there tonight. >> reporter: like many joplin residents, janice prior lost her home, her neighborhood and one of her pets. when the twister touched down, she scrambled to save her family, not her animals. >> i just told my family that i loved them and that was all i could really think about at that time. >> reporter: for 16 days, she couldn't find her cat, gus, until she turned on the local news. >> i shot up, oh, my goodness, there's my cat. you're such a good boy. >> reporter: since the tornado hit, nearly 500 pets have been reunited with their owners. but now, four weeks later, 600 pets remain orphaned by the tornado. >> for me, the toughest part is seeing these guys having to stay here for such an extended period of time. before he was displaced, he had a family that loved him.
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>> reporter: so this weekend, the aspca is hosting an adopt-a-thon, in hopes of placing all of joplin's neediest cats and dogs in new homes. >> new mexico. >> kansas. >> illinois. >> we're here to adopt a dog. >> reporter: on day one, crowds of animal lovers showed up for a chance to take home a piece of joplin. >> i like that one. >> reporter: the puppies were popular, but the first to get a new home was this collie mix. even though the cats and dogs injured in the tornado, like this older gal, will get a second chance, as long as her new owners agree to therapy and making sure she's taken care of while she recovers. >> if they are not adopted, we will still continue to find homes for them. >> reporter: for the pattersons, adopting two huskies was more for their son. >> my son is still shaken a little bit when the dog hits and the dog will give him someone to cuddle up with at night.
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>> reporter: residents now finding a reason to smile and howl. tom llamas, nbc news, joplin, missouri. >> and we hope that gives you a reason to smile tonight. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- good evening. we're learning more tonight about that deadly train acct


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