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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 20, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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for him. thanks for joining us at 5:00. lester holt joins us next with nightly news. >> hope you join us at 6:00. on this wednesday night, bin laden's secrets taken from inside his hideout during that daring u.s. raid. what they tell us about his focus on killing americans and the rise of what would become isis. the oil emergency along the california coast. a major spill stretching for miles in pristine waters. tonight, the race to save wildlife. the dramatic call for help from a road rage attack that shocked the nation. a family swarmed by bikers on the highway. a mother pleading for police to protect her child in the car. hidden family history. what if you're at high risk of certain types of cancer and you don't even know it? how one mother stumbled on to lifesaving information. and saying good-bye. david letterman marks the end of an era. "nightly news" begins right now.
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a special good evening to our viewers in the west. we begin tonight with that oil spill stretching for miles along the picturesque southern california coastline. crews racing to contain the environmental damage from the pipeline, which may have spilled up to 105,000 gallons of oil into the ocean. that's far more than first thought. and officials have just shut down a second beach near santa barbara. headed into the memorial day weekend nbc's hallie jackson starts us off from there. >> reporter: two slicks now stretch nine miles down the santa barbara coast, both with booms trying to contain the crude oil. and on the normally pristine beach, workers meticulously rake slick sludge, suited up in hazmat gear.
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a mile down the shoreline, volunteers use bare hands. some volunteers are using shovels to try to get this oil into buckets. others say it's actually easier to use their hands to scoop up this oil from the stand and take it off the beach. some came hoping to help wildlife only finding there is nothing to save. >> everything is either dead, gone, and a mess. miles and miles of oil. >> reporter: kristina guerrero's 16-year-old daughter scooped oil into bucket, each wave washing up more. >> this is a lesson we should have learned in 1969. >> reporter: the 1969 oil spill which started the modern day environmental movement still feels fresh in the minds of folks who live here that offshore leak dumped 4.2 million gallons of crude oil into the pacific and spread some 300 miles along the coast. this spill by comparison stretches just nine miles with estimates that more than 100,000 gallons flowed from a broken pipe. linda cropp at the environmental defense center says it's too soon to tell how badly the spill is hurting birds and other animals here.
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>> i know everybody says there is no good place for an oil spill. but this is one of the worst places to have an oil spill. >> reporter: the company that owns the pipeline says it hopes to minimize the impact on the environment. >> we're exited for this accident. we're sorry for the inconvenience experienced by the community. >> reporter: with the memorial day weekend around the corner, campers at a nearby state beach have been forced to leaf this popular playground for whale watchers and sunbathers. the concern now the slick will spread farther, a coastal paradise under threat. the smell of the oil here is like burning rubber. but officials monitoring air quality say the vapors aren't dangerous for the people and crews on the beach. we also learn late tonight about 6,000 gallons have been recovered so far. progress, lester but still a long way to go. >> hallie, thanks. tonight four years after the u.s. military raid that took his life, we are getting our closest look yet into the mind of osama bin laden. the government has just released a stunning trove of
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documents taken from inside the hideout where he was killed. from messages about al qaeda strategy and his focus on killing americans to the american books he chose to read, even messages he sent to his wife, and thoughts about leaving his hideout. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, has been pouring over the documents. >> reporter: from the grave, a new portrait of osama bin laden revealed in hundreds of document, letters, books, video games, found by s.e.a.l. team 6 at his compound. the al qaeda leader telling followers not to grab territory, to keep going after american targets. "you should ask them to avoid insisting on the formation of an islamic state for the time being, to work on breaking the power of our main enemy by attacking the american embassies in sierra leone, togo, and to mainly attack the american oil companies." then his bookshelf, a digital library. everything from bob woodward's "obama's wars" to classics like paul kennedy's "the
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rise and fall of great powers." and the "delta force extreme 2" video game. most likely for his children. the treasure trove offers new insights into bin laden, the ceo of al qaeda central, a bureaucracy complete with a lengthy online application. questions like -- what is your favorite material? science or literature? the final question -- who should we contact in case you become a martyr? >> these documents show that bin laden of was very much in command, that he was on his game, that he was focused, that he was totally dedicated to making sure al qaeda had the capabilities to continue to attack america and the west. >> reporter: and bin laden closely tracked the u.s. when the pentagon warned that wikileaks' document dump could cost lives -- >> the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an afghan family. >> reporter: an al qaeda operative writes bin laden, "please dedicate some brothers to translate the documents on afghanistan and pakistan that were leaked from the
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pentagon because these documents contain the strategy of the enemy in the area." the biggest surprise, bin laden the family man. affectionate letters to a wife then in iran. but warning her to remove fillings from her teeth before she comes to his hideout in case the iranians inserted a tracking device. bin laden also reveals taliban opposition to 9/11 and the attack on the "uss kohl." divisions in the ranks. what has not been released yet by the u.s. are other documents still being examined for intelligence about any future attacks. lester? >> andrea mitchell, thank you. it's been a wild 24 hours under the stormy skies of the southwest. more than two dozen reported tornadoes, many of them in texas, while oklahoma is
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investigators say it's going to take weeks if not months to clean up this damage. and it's bad news for folks here who are trying to clean up more rain headed in this direction soon. lester? >> what we didn't want to hear.
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thank you. across the country today, auto dealers have been flooded with questions from anxious customers concerned about the biggest consumer recall in u.s. history. we're of course talking about the defective airbags that the government says could total 34 million, affecting one out of every four cars on the road. as nbc's tom costello reports, there are new questions about how all of those repairs will get done. >> reporter: at auto nation honda in miami today, mechanics were once again swapping out defective airbag inflators for new ones. >> you should have no problems with it. nothing out of pocket. >> reporter: after months of worrying that her airbag could explode, today, viscella of getting a replacement. >> even if you survive the accident, you could get killed by the airbag. i was very concerned about that. >> reporter: it's happening at dealerships nationwide. as the airbag recall grows from 17 million to 34 million, 11 different makes on the list. dozens of models. to learn if your car is included, the national highway traffic safety
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administration is directing motorists to type in your vin, and any recall affecting your car should pop up, though the latest airbag recall may not appear for a week or more. mark rosekind is the chief government enforcer. for people who are really concerned, should they have airbags disconnected? >> absolutely not. we know that seat belts and airbags save lives. >> reporter: more than 32,000 people die in car accidents every year. while so far, only six are believed to have died in airbag accidents. it's also illegal for a dealer to disconnect an airbag without special government permission. this airbag recall could take years due to a shortage of new airbag inflators. in the priority zone of hot, humid miami, they have the parts. >> we really encourage customers to make an appointment. the parts are readily available. >> reporter: for viscella demerit -- >> very, very happy and pleased that i can think about something else beside airbags. >> reporter: -- the wait is finally over. but downtown be
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fooled. it can take years to come up with all these replacement parts. takata expected to take 2.5 years to produce all of them. lester? >> tom costello, thank you very much. also in the nation's capitol now, take a look. live on the senate floor where senator and presidential candidate rand paul has been speaking for hours against the government's bulk collection of phone records allowed under the patriot act. paul and other senators including some democrats plan to control debates throughout the night which could delay action on a vital trade bill. in 2013, paul filibustered for nearly 13 hours on the issue of drone strikes. tonight, the feds have made hundreds of arrests in a major crackdown on the illegal distribution of powerful prescription painkillers. surprise raids on doctors and pharmacies in several states being called the largest pill bust in dea history. nbc's mark potter was there for one of the takedowns. >> reporter: the raids began with a convoy of dea agents and local police surrounding an office building in little rock, arkansas.
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their target -- the k.j. medical center, which agents say profited by illegally supplying drug addicts with prescriptions for pain pills. almost all those prescriptions, agents say, were then filled at this nearby pharmacy which was also raided today. the four-state arrest sweep in arkansas, alabama, louisiana, and mississippi is the biggest pharmaceutical case in dea history with 280 arrests. focusing on unscrupulous doctors, pharmacists, and staffers. >> a profit, greed-driven business just like regular drug dealers are. this is sort of professional drug dealers. >> reporter: among those arrested in little rock today, dr. jerry rifis. >> sometimes life is rather difficult. it will be straightened out. >> reporter: agents say what's happening in little rock actually mirrors a nationwide epidemic in prescription drug abuse with a steady rise in overdoses and pill-related deaths. agents say prescription abuse also fuels the current heroin epidemic, adding even more, officials say, to a
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growing public health threat. mark potter, nbc news, little rock, arkansas. it was a case of road rage here in new york that stunned the nation. a horde of bikers who claimed they'd been provoked, caught on camera surrounding and pounding on an suv before attacking the family inside. now with a trial underway, we're hearing new details including a frantic call for help. here's nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: the moment angry bikers pulled alex lien out of his suv, his wife, rosalind ng, office was on with 911. >> oh, my god! stop! we have a baby in the car! stop! >> reporter: with her 2-year-old daughter in the back seat, lein was brutally beaten and left on the street. the attack took place in 2013 in new york. 11 bikers were indicted. nine pled guilty to assault and riot charges. two pled not guilty and are on trial this week. one of them, an undercover police officer who was off duty at the time.
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the couple says the bikers surrounded their suv. ng threw a piece of fruit and then a water bottle at them. >> there's like 100 motorcycles. they're all attacking us, on our car. >> reporter: stopped on the highway, lein felt their lives were in danger. his wife told him to just go. lein said he knew he hit someone. biker edwin mieses was left paralyzed. the fear in the suv was growing. >> we're on 178th! >> west 28th? >> help! 178th. >> reporter: ng testified that bikers couldn't pull her from the suv because she was wearing a seat belt. the 2-year-old was unhurt but covered in broken glass. for weeks, ng says, her daughter had nightmares. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. still ahead here tonight, it's one of the most common questions of the doctor, and knowing the right answer could save your life. what if your family's history of cancer is hidden? you don't even know about it. we'll be back.
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it's a question doctors always ask -- do you have a family history of cancer? you might say no. but what if there are cancer genes hidden in your dna? tonight, our national correspondent, kate snow, has the story of a woman who accidentally discovered her risk, raising a debate over whether more people should be tested even without a family history. >> reporter: robin carlin never thought she had to worry about her dna. >> i thought his great genes. >> reporter: she was
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active, healthy, had no known family history of cancer. but five years ago, her tech-savvy 22-year-old son, eli, got the results of a consumer dna test he'd ordered on line. they were shocked to learn eli had an abnormality usually associated with women -- a brca 1 mutation -- which dramatically increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. robin got tested and learned she had the mutation, too. her family history had been hidden. she got the mutation from her father and had passed it on to her son. would your insurance company have covered the test if your son hadn't already taken one? >> no. they would not. there's strict criteria for what family history qualifies you. and i did not have that family history. >> reporter: robin is not alone. half the women with brca mutations would not meet insurance criteria. >> if we only offer testing to women who have a family history, we'll miss half of the women with mutations. >> reporter: dr. mary claire king thinks every woman over 30 who wants a cancer risk test should be able to get one.
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until now, those tests have cost thousands. but a new company called color genomics has just begun selling a test for breast and ovarian cancer risk for just $249 which includes genetic counseling. dr. king is an unpaid adviser. >> what we're doing is offering women information that empowers them to save their own lives. >> reporter: some experts worry the genetic testing business may be growing too fast. >> i think it's going to be a bit of the wild west in the coming years. >> reporter: dr. robert greene says even specialists don't know what every mutation they find means. >> we're talking about things which make you a little more likely or sometimes a lot more likely to get a disease, but not necessarily for sure. >> reporter: robin carlin says for her the risks were clear. up to 65% of women with a mutation like hers will get breast cancer, and 39% will get ovarian cancer by the time they're 70. robin made the difficult decision to
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have a double mastectomy and remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes, all because her son took that genetic test. >> i think perhaps he felt guilty because i went through so much. and i kept telling him over and over again, you know, don't feel guilty because you've really potentially saved my life. i am incredibly thankful to my son. >> reporter: kate snow, nbc news, pittsburgh. up next, new clues in that shocking murder mystery in washington. there's word tonight of a secret big money delivery.
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we're back now with the new information in the murder mystery just blocks from the vice president's home in washington. a family held hostage, then found dead inside their burning mansion. we're learning about a secret money delivery before they were killed. our national correspondent, peter alexander, reports. >> reporter: as one or more intruders held the savopoulos family and their housekeeper
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hostage inside this multimillion-dollar mansion last week, at least two people made separate deliveries to the home. one on thursday morning. a $40,000 cash drop-off from salve op salve vop louis's assistant. to sources familiar with the situation. the other, domino's pizza. the cash had been with drawn from the account at american iron works, where savopoulos was ceo. the housekeeper's husband reportedly also showed up at the home looking for his wife that morning. so were the visit and deliveries all missed opportunities to alert police and end the terrifying ordeal? authorities say the four hostages were viciously murdered inside, the house set on fire. when firefighters arrived thursday afternoon, the cash was gone. so of the family's porsche. later found abandoned and torched 15 miles away where police have intensified their search for this person of interest. investigators say the murders do not appear to be random. the reward for information has grown to $100,000. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. when we come back, it's our last chance to stay up late with david letterman.
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tonight a moment that will go down in tv history. david letterman is ending the late night run he began in this very building 33 years ago after more than 6,000 shows across two
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different networks. a look now at the ed sullivan theater where letterman is signing off for the last time. nbc's harry smith says good-bye. >> reporter: many of us have been in a state of mourning since david letterman announced he would be leaving the "late show." >> in fact, paul and i will be wrapping things up and taking a hike. [ applause ] >> is this something left over from the bachelor days? >> reporter: for the last several weeks, star after star and presidents, too, have stopped by to pay homage. all expressing their gratitude to dave for being dave. >> despite your best efforts probably the most distinguished man on late night. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: there are nights we'll never forget. his first show after 9/11. >> it's very simple. there is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior. >> reporter: or when
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he returned from a five-month absence. >> while i was gone, i had quintuple bypass surgery on my heart! plus, i got a haircut. [ laughter ] >> hi. >> reporter: his was a new york show, and manhattan was the stage. top ten, stupid pet tricks, stupid human tricks, rupert g., larry bud melman, chris elliot, dave's mom. >> ladies and gentlemen, paul schaefer! >> reporter: paul schaefer rocked the house night after night. so much more than a sidekick. letterman was an acquired taste. you either got him or you didn't. >> joaquin, i'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight. [ laughter ] >> reporter: and letterman being letterman, he wouldn't sell out to get a bigger audience. a rare thing, especially in show business. so on this last night, many of his fans have but one thought -- don't go. harry smith, nbc news,
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new york. that will do it for us on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching. good night.
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it smells like gasoline. it's really intense. you can smell it from miles away and when you look out to the ocean you can understand why there are clumps of black sludge out there. the most heartbreaking part is when you see birds diving for fish in the water. crews have been out here cleaning but a long way to go. >> heard the news and went here we go again. >> reporter: what is normally a scenic ocean look out point along highway 101. >> it's too bad. >> reporter: offers a different perspective. connected by a boon trying to gather the oil from a cliff overlooking the shoreline. the nine mile oil slick is easy to spot. >> it doesn't belong. >> reporter: dwayne