tv NBC Nightly News NBC October 17, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
here's what you need to know. bart workers are threatening a strike at midnight as the talks have broken off right now or broken down. we'll continue to follow the story at 6:00. taxpayer money. the big glitch. tonight we look inside to find out what went wrong with the rollout of the new health care law as so many americans still can't sign up. all around us. new evidence that's tough to take. it's because it's about a leading cause of cancer around the world. close calls. dick cheney is out with a surprising story of his own heart history and how close he came how many times, including an undisclosed heart scare he had on 9/11. and a woman who became an inspiration during the shutdown back on the job tonight. "nightly news" begins now.
good evening. the government shutdown ended today, having ended with a whimper in the dark of night with members of congress leaving town to head home and face their constituents. the deal funds the government until january 15. it raises the debt limit until february 7. and the 16-day government shutdown caused grave damage beyond the erosion of remaining faith and elected officials, beyond the damage to u.s. prestige, it hurt a lot of americans, some of whom can't ever recover what they lost. politically, it's widely agreed to have been a big loss and self-inflicted wound mostly for the republican party. we have it all covered tonight, beginning with the cost. our report from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: the barricades that triggered outrage at the world war ii memorial in washington were removed today. combat vets no longer need to
fight to get in. >> it is an experience that every veteran should have. >> i'm proud of you, dad. >> reporter: after 16 days of being shut down, the federal government rumbled back to life. federal agencies, parks and monuments reopened around the country. the cdc in atlanta went back to work, fully tracking flu and other outbreaks. the shutdown went into effect midnight on october 1st. 16 days later standard & poor's roughly estimates the price tag at $24 billion, including $3.1 billion lost in government services. more than $2 billion lost in travel spending, and more than a billion at national parks alone. hardest hit, hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers. >> we say fight back! >> reporter: in chicago we first met epa employee elizabeth leidl as the shutdown began. >> congress needs to be turned over somebody's knee and spanked real hard. >> reporter: today she was
relieved to be back on the job but still worries about making ends meet. >> i'm living on about $150 to the end of the month, and that's not a whole lot of money. >> reporter: while most government workers will get back pay eventually, millions of federal contractors will not. david walden works for the navy. >> i don't have the vocabulary to discuss my anger about it. i'm actually very, very livid that you have representatives that go to washington and they just cannot get things done. >> reporter: but no price can be put on what the mccartons went through. >> we won't stop at anything until we actually get her on the treatment she needs and she deserves. >> reporter: their desperately ill daughter was forced to wait for an nih clinical trial. abby is one of some 200 patients a week involved in last resort federally funded medical treatment. including about 30 children. most of those patients are now waiting for a phone call. and then there are intangible costs. like the country's reputation
with foreign investors. >> america's political system has been exposed to the world once more as both polarized and dysfunctional. >> reporter: the founding fathers signed the constitution in philadelphia, predicting that the government would hit some stumbling blocks down the road, but it's unlikely they ever thought it would turn into this. brian? >> stephanie gosk starting us off tonight in philadelphia. stephanie, thanks. it was damage control for a lot of members of congress. it was also when we learned what more is in this bill. you may recall the terminology we heard all the time, it was supposed to be clean legislation just designed to fix that debt ceiling, get the government up and running again. we get that part of this story from nbc's kelly o'donnell on the hill. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good to see you again, brian. for many republicans they're now at that acceptance phase after a bruising defeat. many are admitting mistakes, assessing some responsibility, and one of the most visible and divisive figures started the
the day trying to create some good will. today senator ted cruz who led the today party during the shutdown greeted visitors and veterans outside the reopened capitol. lawmakers headed out of town after the late-night vote and house speaker john boehner turned up on twitter, his photo snapped at an airport gate today. the shutdown leaves new political baggage for the republican party to carry. >> i think a lot of folks that thought this might be a productive strategy have learned that it's really not. >> reporter: the conservative conflict is over the flawed strategy of making the budget fight about obama care. today the most senior republican senator, utah's orren hatch blamed powerful outside groups and think tanks for stoking internal party battles appearing on "the daily rundown." >> who think they can control the republican party, and some who have been good thing tanks in the past but are now losing their reputation because of this radicalness on the job. tanks
in the past but are now losing their reputation because of this radicalness on the jok tanks in the past but are now losing their reputation because of this radicalness on the job. >> are you referring to heritage? >> well, yeah. of course i am. >> reporter: it opened up a new rash of criticism aimed at congress. >> i want to make a matter of record. i did not ask for that. >> reporter: leaders were defensive about how billions of funding were added for favored projects during closed door negotiations to reopen the government. like this ohio river waterway project dating back to the '80s. nbc's gabe gutierrez was there today. >> reporter: there's been delay after delay, but supporters here insist it needs to be finished to replace two crumbling lochs upstream. >> reporter: henry reid expected the scrutiny. >> i thought this might come. this is not an earmark. it saves the money -- the taxpayers lots of money. >> reporter: today democratic house leader nancy pelosi said she had been kept in the dark. was this crisis really the right time to add things that didn't have anything to do with reopening the government? >> i don't think any of that should be in the bills. i don't know how it got in
there. in fact, i displayed my own dismay at -- only learned of it because i was saying what's holding up the bill? >> reporter: clearly nancy pelosi was frustrated, though she says the list of add ons is small compared to the need to reopen the government. so much of the attention today, brian, focused on that ohio project because it benefits one of the states that is home to leadership. kentucky. that brought to mind mitch mcconnell who said while he has supported in the past said he did not make that special request in this deal. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on all the business of capitol hill tonight. kelly, thanks. also on capitol hill, we have an update tonight on something that became kind of a sad symbol of the government shutdown. it's called the ohio clock. it has stood for almost two centuries outside the entrance to the u.s. senate. well, it stopped running, just stopped on october 9th. there was no one around to wind it because they'd been furloughed. today that changed. you see that man there today. it's running and keeping time.
president obama talked today about the mess we all witnessed unravel for the past two weeks. notably he talked today about the damage it has caused. >> nothing has done more damage to america's credibility in the world, our standing with other countries than the spectacle that we've seen these past several weeks. it's encouraged our enemies, it's emboldened our competitors, and it's depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership. all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict and focus on what the majority of americans sent us here to do. >> the president appearing earlier at the white house today. well, we said it many times. had it not been for the government shutdown becoming our lead story for these past 16 days and nights, it may well have been obama care and the incredibly rocky rollout for the
federal government's health care website. the system is not ready for the volume. some republicans are saying the secretary of health and human services, kathleen sebelius, should be fired as a company's ceo could be fired after any botched rollout like this. our report tonight on what went wrong from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: more than two weeks into the glitch-riddled rollout of the health care rollout, the white house still on the defensive. >> those challenges are being addressed, progress is being made and people are enrolling across the country. >> reporter: who is behind the website? the prime contractor is the u.s. arm of a canadian company, cgi federal. cgi's business with the u.s. government grew dramatically during the bush administration. then on october 4, 2011, it was awarded a $55.7 million contract for computer systems design services to build the website
with a ceiling price tag at $94 million. by may of this year, the contract shows cgi had spent $196 million, and the ceiling price tag had soared to $292 million. >> is this escalation in price due to the fact of the quick turnaround time to get this website up and running? are there technical glitches and bugs that are driving the cost up? >> reporter: the government said the cost went up as more states joined the federal exchange. for weeks cgi has declined to comment to nbc news about the troubled rollout. last year the canadian province fired cgi and canceled its $46 million contract, saying the company failed to build an online registry. cgi tells nbc news it's in talks to resolve the issues. they say the problems with the website are serious. >> it doesn't work. it's supposed to give you a quote. it doesn't work. >> reporter:
luke chung owns a data and software company. if this was your product, what
would you say? >> i'd be embarrassed and i would use language with my development team that couldn't be on the air. this is ridiculous. >> reporter: but a former aide of medicare and medicaid says cgi was forced to deal with late design changes ordered by the government. >> it would back up the ability to test, to see if everything was functioning properly. >> reporter: last june a report foreshadowed these problems, warning that the website may not be ready to go live in part because of all the ordered changes. and there are state web sites that actually got pretty good reviews. brian? >> tom, thanks. speaking of health, health is in the news tonight. we mentioned this earlier. it's about specifically the danger in the air all around us. the world health organization is warning tonight that air pollution is indeed a major cause of cancer. our
report from our chief medical editor dr. nancy sneiderman. >> reporter: from car exhaust
and traffic across the country to industrial stacks spewing smoke and haze halfway around the world, we know air pollution isn't good for us, but today there's more proof of just how bad it is. the world health organization experts now conclude for the first time that exposure to outdoor air pollution and particulate matter caused lung cancer and increased the risk for bladder cancer. >> we can't do very much to change the air we breathe, and we're all responsible for it. and so i think it's important to make the point that this really needs collective public health action to solve the problem. >> reporter: the industrial revolution saw the advent of air pollution. and while the united states has cleaned up its air thanks to environmental regulations, air pollution is still a significant risk factor for respiratory illnesses and heart disease. this united states map shows our
air pollution hot spots. the red dots show air quality changes by climate and season. this shows summer, where the highest level of air pollution is along the eastern part of the country. and in winter, california fares the worst when it comes to air pollution and particulate matter. experts liken the air pollution in some places to secondhand smoke, and it's cutting short lives in the most polluted places on earth, notably places like china and india. and globally, brian, that means more than 200,000 people die every year because of air pollution alone. >> the scariest part where people can't escape it. dr. nancy snyderman, thank you as always. still ahead for vet first time, former vice president dick cheney reveals just how close to death he came in his battle with heart disease and the farewell to his family when he didn't think he'd make it. and later a woman thrilled to be back on the job telling her park visitors a great american story.
cheney's heart problems have been well chronicled, five heart attacks and a heart transplant. but he has never spoken about them in quite this way. he has detailed his history in a new book that talks about just how close he came more than once. the book isn't officially out until next week, but we were able to buy a copy at a bookstore today, and so our report tonight comes from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: it is a dramatic story of a man at the pinnacle of power in the white house bunker on 9/11, facing a possible life and death crisis of his own. the president and his traveling staff were being rushed to a military bunker in nebraska. but at the white house, the vice president's blood tests taken earlier that morning revealed dick cheney could be about to suffer a lethal heart attack. choppering to a secure location, camp david, the white house doctor passes cheney and his wife a note. he needs to be retested urgently. not tonight, cheney replies. you can have it in the morning.
when he is retested, he gets an all clear. but after five heart attacks, that was not the case. >> lots of times all i wanted to do when i got out of bed in the morning is to get to my chair where i can put my feet up and take a nap. >> reporter: in his new book "heart: an american medical odyssey," out next week but obtained by "nightly news," cheney says he met another crisis. every time my heart beat, blood shot in a stream from my nose. when i tried is to stop the pressure, blood ran in the back of my throat. his heart was giving out. he said his goodbyes to his family and writes, if this is dying, i remember thinking, it's not all that bad. he was fitted with an emergency not all that bad. he was fitted with an emergency heart pump to keep him alive pending a possible transplant. >> i wear it on a vest and there is a control knob here and two batteries, one on each side. >> reporter: finally in march 2012, a heart transplant.
>> i wake up every morning with a big smile on my face thankful for a new day i never expected to see. >> reporter: cheney, now 72, has come so close to death so many times, but writes that he was not frightened, at peace, knowing he had already led a remarkable life. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. back in a moment with the improvement that's supposed to solve a big problem at one of this nation's busiest airports. the problem is not everybody likes it.
the veteran character actor ed lauter has died. he was one of those guys who always played one of those guys in the movies, including an occasional starring role. fans of "the longest yard" will remember him as wilhelm kanauer, the mean prison guard whose football team was hell bent on wrecking butter reynolds' guys, the wrecking crew.
he worked for hitchcock. he worked on big budget films like "sea biscuit." played a lot of villains but also did comedy. ed lauter dead at the age of 74. cory booker will be returning to the u.s. senate. he turned away a tea party republican to win the seat of the late senator frank lautenberg. booker becomes just the fourth popularly elected african-american u.s. senator. a new addition may be great for travelers but not for folks who live nearby. chicago o'hare airport has just added a new runway just two miles long. that makes four parallels and one diagonal. they can now handle 144 takeoffs per hour. the new capacity means a new plane taking off or landing every 15 seconds. it will bring noise to a lot of neighborhoods, but it may reduce o'hare's on-time percentage. they now rank last among major airports. the other thing congress agreed to before leaving town
last night was the title ambassador caroline kennedy. the daughter of jfk was confirmed by the u.s. senate to serve as the next u.s. ambassador to japan. it's a vital relationship for this country. japan is our fourth largest trading partner. 50,000 americans are still stationed there, many of them, of course, attached to the home of the navy's seventh fleet. when we come back tonight, an american original. a unique federal employee thrilled to be back at her post this evening.
finally here tonight, of all those federal workers who got dressed for work today and headed back to their jobs for the first time since the government shutdown, perhaps no one was more delighted to be at her post than a woman named betty reed soskin, whose job it is to give a firsthand account of working women during world war ii. she knows the story so well because she lived it. tonight she's telling it once again. her story from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: for most 92-year-olds, work is a thing of the past. >> yes, we're open today. >> reporter: but for betty reed soskin, being back on the job today made her feel like a kid again. >> it was like going to school
for the first day after summer. >> well, let me show you. come on. >> reporter: ranger betty is the world's oldest park ranger. based at the world war ii park in richmond, california, and out of work for the past 16 days. we first caught up with ranger betty as she struggled with the shutdown. >> time for me is precious. my whole identity has become under that hat. >> reporter: but it's not just the hat. ranger betty, whose great-grandmother was born into slavery, lives to teach about the greatest mobilization of workers in u.s. history. women nicknamed rosie the riveters along with workers from the segregated south all coming together to build ships, sometimes launching one a day. >> this park gives us a chance and a way to go back and revisit that era that we moved through too fast to learn from. >> reporter: like lessons in working together that betty says could have come in handy in
washington. >> have you ever in your 92 years seen anything like this? >> no. >> reporter: for more than two weeks, no one was allowed into the park, including surviving rosies here for a reunion last weekend. >> reporter: even the rosies. >> there was an explosion. >> reporter: but today ranger betty is back, welcoming everyone with a smile and the perspective only a 92-year-old can give. >> it was disconcerting because i live with a sense of urgency now. it's a period where if i don't get it right, i don't have time to do it again. >> reporter: a living bridge to history. >> okay, see you. >> reporter: just happy to be back on the job. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, richmond, california. >> here's to ranger betty and all of her colleagues. that's our broadcast on this thursday. thank you for being with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you back here tomorrow evening. good night.
right now at 6:00, we are following multiple breaking news stories. b.a.r.t. negotiations have broken down, a strike is scheduled for midnight. >> but first, police say an out of control driver careened into two young boys on the peninsula. good evening, and thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm raj matthai. a horrible crash in downtown menlo park. twin boys are hospitalized. one in critical condition after they were pinned to a wall by a car. a 90-year-old driver apparently jumped the curb. it happened outside a walgreens store on santa cruz avenue.
it's the main map that goes through downtown menlo park. a block from el camino dey rel. how are the 6-year-old boys doing? >> reporter: we're hearing from police, they're telling us one of the 6-year-old boys, stanford medical hospital, is in critical condition, life threatening injuries. the other boy, his brother, has minor injuries. i'm going to step out of the way here. menlo park investigators still here on scene. they've been out here since about 2:00. and they've been describing this as a gruesome accident. you can see the bmw suv still up against the wall. and just after 2:00 this afternoon, that suv was pinning a pair of 6-year-old twin boys against that wall. and the nanny and their 11-year-old brother were screaming and more than a dozen people ran over to help push the suv off of the boys. we talked to one of those who helped earlier, and he told me it took a few minutes to free the boys from the pinning to that