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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 3, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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then more local news at 6:00. right now we leave you with a look at the 12th annual comcast holiday parade in oakland. out of the race. herman cain drops his bid for president after a string of scandals. tonight reaction from the campaign trail and which candidate could benefit most. sandusky speaks. the disgraced former coach gives a revealing on-camera interview that legal experts say could come back to haunt him. mystery solved. after more than three decades, tonight the effort that cracked the case involving one of america's most infamous serial killers. and all that jazz. well into their golden years, they're still booking gigs, playing the standards and keeping the crowds playing the standards and keeping the crowds entertained.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. tonight herman cain is out of the race for president with his wife standing behind him the republican candidate told supporters in atlanta today that unproved accusations of office sexual harassment and an extramarital affair have exacted a painful price on his family. as recently as this summer, cain was considered a real long shot, only to suddenly surge to near the front of the pack. a change in status that left him open to some harsh scrutiny. and tonight as he throws in the towel, suspending his campaign, cain remains steadfast in his denial of the allegations that have derailed his dream. our coverage begins with nbc's peter alexander outside the cain headquarters in atlanta. peter? >> reporter: lester, good evening to you. today's announcement had a lot of the same political fever that has defined herman cain's
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unconventional campaign. there was barbecue served, music played, and cain even quoted the animated movie "pokemon". up until the last minute, cain's closest advisers were still in the dark about what decision he would make. it was supposed to be a new beginning, the grand opening of herman cain's georgia state headquarters. but when cain and his wife of 43 years gloria stepped off the campaign bus even his supporters didn't know what he would say. >> i am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family. >> reporter: cain acknowledged the painful impact of allegations of sexual
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harassment and, more recently, claims by an atlanta woman, ginger white, of a 13-year extramarital affair. >> it wasn't a love affair. it was a sexual affair. >> reporter: still, cain remained defiant. >> my wife, my family and i, we know that those false and unproved allegations are not true! i am at peace with my god. i am at peace with my wife. and she is at peace with me. >> reporter: cain supporters were stunned and saddened. >> i really thought he was going to come out fighting. and i'm disappointed that he's not. >> reporter: the former godfather's pizza ceo who rose to prominence marketing his catchy 9-9-9 tax reform plan ran into financial challenges in the waning days of his campaign. and with his poll numbers plummeting in iowa just last week cain unveiled this new ad. >> we can do this.
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>> reporter: after promising to endorse one of his former gop opponents soon, the rest of the republican field quickly expressed their gratitude for what the novice politician brought to the 2012 field. >> he was always good-humored. he was always optimistic. and we'll miss him on the campaign trail. >> reporter: and, to be very clear, by officially suspending his campaign, herman cain is no longer an active candidate. but he can continue raising money, and, if something were to change, lester, it leaves open the possibility of him getting back into the 2012 race. >> peter alexander, thanks. and joining us now is david gregory, moderator of "meet the press". david, what was the landscape that cain had to look at, the reality of the situation, in coming to this decision? >> his family situation as he talked about today was really what pushed him out of the race. i was told that cain told people in the last couple of days that the toll was simply too high because of the allegations. look, let's take this out of the political realm and put it inside a person's marriage.
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he had a relationship with someone for 13 years, whether it was a friendship or something more, in which he was trying to help her financially, talking about ginger white, and his wife didn't know. cain said this publicly. and, as i was told in the last couple of days and we first reported last night, he has a lot of work to do at home. that's what he cited publicly here. the other important piece of the landscape, of course, politically. in iowa his support had plummeted. 22% in the polls. the latest des moines register poll had him at 8%. he had simply lost support, lost the ability to raise money. >> he plans to endorse, and while we wouldn't suggest any other candidate would take some joy in his personal problems, one of them is likely to benefit. who might that be? >> i think newt gingrich thus far has been inheriting that support. you see it in his own poll numbers in new hampshire -- excuse me, in iowa, in other early states as well. and he's been working, gingrich has, quietly to get more of that support. so i think that's an early
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potential for him in terms of endorsements. >> david gregory here in new york with us. thanks very much. >> thanks, lester. >> a program note, obama campaign senior adviser david axelrod and reince preibus will be david's guests on "meet the press" tomorrow. in a lengthy revealing interview about sandusky's contact with young boys, he spoke and denial. michael isikoff has our report. >> reporter: jerry sandusky again denied charges that he sexually molested children. but has he also given prosecutors fresh ammunition that they can use against him? >> these allegations are false. i didn't do those things. i don't know what else to say. >> reporter: the former penn state defensive coordinator spoke for nearly four hours to the "new york times," his most detailed explanation yet of the conduct that had led prosecutors
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to file 40 criminal charges against him for allegedly abusing eight children over 13 years. sandusky provided his version of a crucial moment when penn state's then athletic director, tim curley, confronted him about a 2002 allegation involving a 10-year-old boy in the shower in the school's locker room. >> he was coming to me with a concern because i guess in his words, somebody had talked to him about inappropriate behavior in the shower. i told him that it didn't happen and there wasn't -- in my mind there wasn't inappropriate behavior. >> reporter: sandusky said that coach joe paterno never talked to him about any of this. >> i don't know that he didn't know. i know that he never said anything to me. i know that. >> reporter: sandusky also tried to explain his response last month when nbc's bob costas asked him a question that appeared to throw him. >> are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?
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>> am i sexually attracted to underage boys? >> yes. >> sexually attracted? you know, i enjoy young people. i love to be around them. i -- i -- but, no, i'm not sexually attracted to young boys. >> i was saying, what in the world is this question? if i say, no, i'm not attracted to boys, that's not the truth because i'm attracted to young people, boys, girls. >> yeah, but not sexually. you're attracted because -- >> yeah. i enjoy -- that's what i was trying to say. i enjoy spending time with young people. i enjoy spending time with people. >> reporter: for his part, paterno who is undergoing cancer treatments, still wasn't talking about the case today. but a lawyer for one of the alleged victims said sandusky's continued public denials are painful for his client. >> that felt like a punch in the
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stomach to me, just knowing victim one and his mother. >> reporter: lester, some legal analysts are wondering why sandusky is speaking to the press at all, saying all of this could come back to haunt him if in fact the case does proceed to trial. lester? >> michael isikoff in pennsylvania tonight. thank you. now to wind-swept southern california where tonight there are warnings of high fire danger and more than 100,000 homes and businesses are still without power as the big cleanup kicks into high gear. nbc's george lewis has this report. >> reporter: thousands of people in southern california woke up to the sound of chainsaws this morning, crews cutting up the trees brought down by near-hurricane-force winds, one of them it landing in rob stafford's backyard. >> it was pretty scary. the winds were howling pretty good and the house was whistling. and then when it crashed. >> reporter: across the west,
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the unusually high winds that started wednesday night have left a trail of destruction in their wake. trees tumbling into homes, parts of roofs ripped off, power lines downed affecting hundreds of thousands of customers. the question on the minds of a lot of people in these neighborhoods is, when will this mess be cleaned up? that's a hard one to answer, especially because there's more high wind in the forecast. and that's the last thing they need around here. one big concern is the risk of brush fires whipped up by the winds. to head off problems, extra crews have been moved into fire-prone areas. >> as we head into late sunday overnight monday, we'll find another round of some strong gusty winds coming right back on into southern california, nevada, even into portions of arizona. >> reporter: on the california/nevada border, these surfers took advantage of the wind to ride the waves in normally placid lake tahoe. the folks in this altadena, california, neighborhood say the winds bonded them closer together. >> everyone's kind of helping each other out.
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that's the name of the game. >> reporter: and, in the midst of the destruction, many are counting their blessings. >> it could be so much worse, right? i mean, the roof didn't get touched. we have a tree that could have easily come down on the house. >> reporter: as the rou round-the-clock cleanup continues this weekend. george lewis, nbc news, pasadena, california. there is news tonight about a former u.s. senator and democratic presidential candidate. george mcgovern is being treated in a south dakota hospital after falling and hitting his head. doctors say the 89-year-old mcgovern is alert and resting comfortably after taking a tumble on his way to a television interview. now to a remarkable discovery and a record pot bust along the nation's border with mexico. federal agents have found a massive secret passage, an elaborate tunnel equipped with a rail system and an elevator used to smuggle drugs into the u.s. tonight nbc's mark potter takes us inside. >> reporter: federal agents say it's the most elaborate
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smuggling tunnel they've seen in years. more than 600 yards long with wooden walls and floors. >> the tunnel has lighting. it does have good air flow indicating there's some type of ventilation system forcing air in from mexico. >> reporter: the tunnel begins on the mexican side of the border in a warehouse at the tijuana airport. to lower drugs into the tunnel, there is a hydraulic elevator which leads to a rail system where an electric cart waits to carry marijuana to the u.s. side. on steps leading upward, the tunnel emerges inside another warehouse in otay mesa, california. this enhanced aerial photograph shows the tunnel going beneath a runway, roads, a big parking lot and the border fence. all considered, a highly efficient mechanism to move narcotics in an underground environment. >> reporter: police say they seized 32 tons of marijuana, a record for a single tunnel. much of it was hidden in pumpkin boxes. federal agents suspect it's the work of mexico's powerful
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sinaloa drug cartel, currently harvesting its ever increasing fall marijuana crop. authorities say, especially this time of year, traffickers need tunnels to smuggle huge drug loads to the u.s. >> if they can't cross the border above ground, they attempt to tunnel underneath it. >> reporter: the sinaloa cartel is headed by joaquin guzman, known as el choppo or shorty since his daring escape from prison ten years ago, mexican authorities have been unable to touch him. >> he has the police under his thumb. he controls much of the judicial system in his state and neighboring states. and he's virtually an untouchable. >> reporter: in the last four years, american agents have found more than 75 illegal tunnels crossing from mexico to the u.s. but say this one is the most sophisticated. mark potter, nbc news, miami. when "nbc nightly news" continues, hazing scandal.
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what happened aboard a bus that ended in a student's death. and later, they're playing the standards for a whole new generation.
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there are multiple investigations under way in the state of florida after the suspected hazing death of a drum major at a university long known for its famed marching band. tonight, as his family grieves, questions remain about what happened to that student aboard a bus and if there was a pattern of behavior that went unchecked.
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nbc's thanh truong has more. >> reporter: with pageantry, precision and percussion, the florida a&m marching band has played in front of presidents and sports fans alike. but the alleged hazing scandal that left 26-year-old drum major robert champion dead this week prompted florida's governor to have all state universities review their anti-hazing policies. >> our children go to our universities, and we expect them to come back home. >> reporter: champion was found unconscious, apparently beaten on the band's bus, shortly after performing at a football game in orlando two weeks ago. this week, 911 recordings from that night were released. >> is he breathing or is he not breathing? >> we don't know if he's breathing or not. but we need an ambulance asap. >> the exact cause of champion's death is still unknown, and details of the hazing are unclear. multiple investigations are under way. the university has expelled four students for their alleged roles, and now more accusations of abuse are emerging. just days before champion died,
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an 18-year-old female band member filed a police report saying she was beaten during a hazing. the university has not responded. and a former band member who sued and settled with the university describes how he was hit with a wooden paddle. >> after the paddling stopped, it was actually physical blows, face slapping. eating strange things. >> reporter: the university fired its longtime band director. julian white acknowledges there was a pattern of hazing but says he reported it to proper authorities. >> in all cases where i suspect there's hazing involved i take immediate action. >> reporter: with their son laid to rest, champion's parents plan to sue the university. >> no one wants to be standing in our shoes. no one wants to hear on a phone call that your son collapsed and died. >> reporter: the school's president vows to eliminate hazing at the campus. a pledge that may have come too late for one student.
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thanh truong, nbc news, atlanta. there is more ahead. when we come back, we'll tell you about the rocks that had them lined up today here at rock center.
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we're back now with new developments about a story we first told you aboweeks ago. the new effort to identify victims of serial killer john wayne gacy. tonight there's answers for a family left wondering for decades what happened to their son and brother after he walked out the door one night and never returned. more now from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: after more than 30 long years, a break in the case involving one of america's most notorious mass murderers. >> victim number 19 is never going to be known by a number anymore. >> reporter: when chicago police
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uncovered the horrors hidden in the crawl space of john wayne gacy, eight of the brutal killer's 33 victims remained unidentified. until now. thanks to advancements in dna technology, investigators have determined one of them, victim number 19, was a 19-year-old young man who disappeared in the fall of 1976 by the name of william bundy. >> all my girlfriends wanted to date him. they didn't ever come over for me, only for him. >> reporter: laura o'leary is bundy's sister. >> i remember him leaving that one night saying he was going to go to a party, and that was the last time i saw him. >> reporter: gacy lured his young victims, young men between 14 and 22, to his home where they were sexually assaulted and murdered. authorities in chicago sent the remains of those still unidentified to this lab in texas in hopes that they could be named. >> back in the '80s, everything was dental. that was about it. with dna now we have so much more that we can do. >> reporter: there is also a
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hotline for families of the missing. they are being asked to give samples of their dna to assist in the investigation. for the sister of william bundy, who heard of the investigation and gave her dna, the discovery has brought closure. >> i know that -- that the sorrow will eventually go away and i'll have a place to visit him. >> reporter: ironically, other family members are buried in the same cemetery as bundy. the family has visited several times over the years, not knowing their brother was just a short distance away. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. here in new york today they were lined up outside christie's auction house for a look at elizabeth taylor's jewels. she's acquired a formidable collection over her 79 years, an array of diamonds, sapphires and emeralds, all now on display before they're sold at auction later this month. as you can see, they're spectacular.
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and at 30 bucks a ticket, i guess they better be. up next here tonight, why there's still jazzed after all these years.
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finally tonight, more proof that just because you've entered your golden years you don't have to give up your passion. there's a special organization that's helping musicians who've still got it keep the music going. here's nbc's mara schiavocampo and "all that jazz."
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>> reporter: in the shadow of a new york subway line, an ode to the "a" train. a jazz quartet playing the duke ellington classic for teens who have probably never heard it before. but just minutes into the hour-long performance, this audience develops a new appreciation of these old tunes. >> it was very lively. >> the music made me feel really good. >> reporter: the performance was organized by the jazz foundation of america, a nonprofit that pays jazz and blues greats for gigs at schools and nursing homes, providing them a much-needed source of income. would you have fallen through the cracks without them? >> for sure, yeah. >> reporter: 75-year-old bertha hope has been tickling the ivory since she was a kid. she has no plans to stop. >> jazz musicians do not retire. they just fall to the wayside.
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>> reporter: hope's bandmates on this day include tenor sax fred staten who at 96 was born before the jazz age. the jazz foundation doesn't only pay for play. it helps musicians with just about anything from rent to groceries to arranging free medical care, crucial support for a group often paid little over the years with no safety net as they aged. >> the jazz foundation is like the rescuer, like the fire department. >> reporter: funding comes from private donations. >> this is repayment. this is the one charity i know where you're giving back to people who made the world beautiful. ♪ >> reporter: giving musicians a new life and keeping an american art form alive. mara schiavocampo, nbc news, new york. >> very nice. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on
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"today" and right back here tomorrow evening. we leave you tonight with a live look at the rockefeller center christmas tree. lots of crowds packed into the plaza to see it all lit up. we hope you have a good night, everyone. we hope you have a good night, everyone. we'll see you tomorrow. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com good saturday evening. the 49ers are one step closer to

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