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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 17, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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green when it gets wet. a second boat follows up to churn up the water and spreaded green color. >> very cool. happy st. patrick's day, lester holt joins us next. tonight, water wars. fireworks and finger-pointing over who is to blame for the toxic crisis that has poisoned an american city. tonight angry calls for an embattled governor and the epa head to resign. sea change. as a storm of controversy forces the end of an era at seaworld. what it means for the killer whales that de the theme parks famous. hitting the brakes. a major announcement about life-life-saving technology. your car taking control, stopping a crash before it happens. sounding the alarm about a surge in kids rushed to the e.r. after swallowing adult medications. one every nine minutes. a new warning for parents. and found alive. after five weeks missing at sea, you won't believe where they found one amazing puppy. "nightly news" begins
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right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. what we witnessed in washington today was nothing short of a public shaming of two high-powered officials as they were held accountable for the systematic failures that have virtually poisoned the water for thousands in flinlt, michigan. michigan's governor and the head of the epa were called on to resign as they appeared before a congressional committee today to answer for the crisis. it made for some uncomfortable moments. in fact, rarely has the hot seat been hotter. nbc's stephanie gosk shows us. >> reporter: with the children of flint still unable to drink the water -- >> so you solemnly swear -- >> reporter: blame on the hill today. >> if you want to do the courageous thing, then you too should resign. >> people who put dollars over the fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government, and you need to resign too, governor snyder.
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>> reporter: the republican governor from michigan and the head of the epa were hammered today on the hill over the lead in flint's water. >> you need to take some responsibility because you screwed up and you messed up 100,000 people's lives. >> reporter: every resident of flint, including more than 8,000 children, was exposed to dangerous levels of lead for over a year while officials insisted the water was safe. >> this was a failure of government at all levels. we all failed the families of flint. >> reporter: but the democrat from pennsylvania hit back hard. >> you were not in a medically induced coma for a year, and i've had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. >> reporter: epa head gina mccarthy says her agency relied on michigan water officials. >> i wish we had yelled from the tree tops, but there is no way that my agency created this problem. >> reporter: more than 150 residents from
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flint bused in overnight for the hearing. >> we can't just use the faucet like we do here in washington. >> reporter: but they hope congress will hear their voices. >> when i look at the building behind me, i look at hope. >> reporter: for some, faith in the government still lingers even after they were so badly let down. stephanie gosk, nbc news, washington. >> what continues to be an american traj. now to that major announcement from seaworld. after years of controversy, the company says it's making big changes in its killer whale program immediately. the orcas are a trademark of the theme parks but after a devastating documentary, attendance and revenue both took a hit. nbc's miguel almaguer has details. >> reporter: seaworld's announcement signals the end of an era. it's killer whale breeding program, which produced the theme park's biggest draws, is over. 24 whales in three parks, the last generation of orcas seaworld will display in captivity.
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>> the reason we think we need to do them now is society is changing, and if you look at people's general comfort level with orcas under human care, i've seen a real shift in society. >> reporter: that shift picked up momentum after the critical documentary "blackfish." citing the mistreatment of orcas and the death of trainer dawn brancheau, seaworld faced protests. attendance drops, revenue plunged nearly $100 million, their stock price cut in half. seaworld partnered with the humane society to find a solution. >> the real priority has been no animals from the wild into seaworld. no new captive breeding, bringing additional animals into that population. >> reporter: reacting to today's announcement, peta says it's not enough. >> we are pushing for them to release these orcas to coastal sanctuaries so they can live out some semblance of an actual life for the rest of their days.
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>> reporter: last year, seaworld decided to end its trademark killer whale shows, planning for a larger, more natural setting for its orcas. >> the new encounters will highlight the plight of orcas in the wild. >> reporter: once the pride of seaworld, the parks are now saying good-bye to the whales that made its famous, and the show millions came to see. seaworld says it won't release its whales into the wild because they would not be able to survive on their own. on average, in captivity, those orcas could live about 30 years, so they'll be on display at those three seaworld facilities, including the one behind me, for quite some time. but tonight many are asking what will seaworld be without its whales? the company simply saying it's moving in a new direction. lester. >> all right,my gel. thank you. >> the nation's biggest carmakers could save some of the 100 people who die in car accidents every day. the automakers have agreed to make life life-saving technology that can automatically apply the brakes in an emergency standard on all models.
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experts believe it could cut rear-end collisions by 40%, life-saving thousands of lives. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: it's technology that's proven to save lives. uk emergency braking, also known as aeb, applies the brakes when a car or object is approaching fast and the driver isn't reacting. today government regulators announced the biggest automakers have pledged to make aeb standard equipment in all cars in six years, covering 99% of the new cars on the market. >> this means that soon, life life-saving aeb systems will be not just a pricey option on top of the line models but a given for any american consumer in the new car market. >> reporter: technology that's badly need. estimates sag 35,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year alone. one person every 16 minutes. safety experts believe automatic braking
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systems could have saved 12,000 of those lives. the technology uses forward facing radars, lasers, or cameras to watch for objects that are approaching rapidly. if the driver doesn't hit the brakes, aeb kicks in. it can really catch the driver by surprise because if you're not paying attention, the brakes will slam on for you. >> this technology, if implemented across the fleet, could prevent 28,000 crashes from occurring every year. that's not just about inconvenience or injury. it's about lives saved. >> reporter: and today safety sells. >> it brakes when you don't. >> reporter: many cars already come with automatic braking and a different approach to auto safety. while 20 years ago, it was all about surviving a crash, today it's about preventing one. tom costello, nbc news, mclean, virginia. in the battle for the white house, donald trump was the subject of a closed-door meeting today in washington called by anxious conservative leaders.
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the purpose, building a strategy to block his path to the nomination. nbc's hallie jackson takes us inside the effort to derail trump. >> reporter: today two blocks from the white house, a secret huddle on how to stop donald trump from moving in. a frustrated group led by influential conservative erick erickson emerging with a call for a unity ticket for the gop and looking ahead to a contested convention. the stop-trump movement regrouping to reassess how to slow him down. two roadblocks slowing them down. first, trump could still lock up the nomination before the convention. ads against him not doing much as he more than doubled his delegate lead this week, even after outside groups spent $13 million. >> now we're having conversations with donors, you know, gauging the interest in moving ahead. >> reporter: anti-trump activists hint at starting a pressure campaign to convince delegates to fight their front-runner at a contested convention. >> the real people with lives and schedules and vacations and cell phones and twitter accounts and facebook
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pages, they all have to be found, cataloged, and wooed. >> reporter: the message to them, in the words of unactivist, the people who built this party have been here longer than the newcomers who are threatening to burn the whole thing down. >> some days that may be good, and some days that may not be good. >> reporter: the second issue for the stop-trump movement, calling for unity without specifying who the party should unify behind. today new signs cruz may have the edge. marco rubio praising him as conservative though ruling out a v.p. run, and senator lindsey graham planning to raise money for his colleague just a few weeks after this joke. >> if you killed ted cruz on the floor of the senate and the trial was in the senate, nobody could convict you. >> reporter: the unlikeliest of pairings in an unlikely race, one the stop trump movement never saw coming. and late tonight, a hacker group trying to
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stop trump is reportedly taking credit for the release of his personal information online, his phone and social security numbers. the trump campaign tells nbc law enforcement authorities are seeking the arrest of the individuals responsible for attempting to illegally hack the candidate's account. lester. >> okay. hallie jackson, thank you. the u.s. has now officially declared isis guilty of genocide. secretary of state john kerry today formally accused isis of the crime of trying to exterminate entire peoples, including christians and shiite muslims. congress has been pushing for this designation, but it is now not expected, we should say, to change the current u.s. strategy against isis. for the first time we're hearing from the man that kurdish television says is that alleged american isis fighter who suddenly surrendered last week. he's revealing details about the dark path that led him from virginia all the way to the heart of jihadist-controlled territory in iraq. nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel has more. >> reporter: he's the
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first known alleged american isis fighter to surrender on the battlefield. >> my name is mohammed jamal khweis. >> reporter: the 26-year-old virginia native was captured this week in iraq. today his kurdish captors released video of his confession. >> i was with a lot of foreigners, a lot of asians, russians, and people from the surrounding area. >> reporter: he describes how he traveled to turkey and over the course of a few months, entered syria to join isis. his statements were made while he's still in captivity. khweis claimed he tried to leave isis from where he was stationed in the iraqi city of mosul and surrendered to kurdish forces. >> i didn't really support their ideology, and at that point, that's when i decided i needed to escape. i wanted to go back to
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america. my message to the american people is the life in mosul, it's really, really bad. >> reporter: khweis said he realized his mistake in joining isis. u.s. officials say the group is having trouble keeping its recruits and that khweis could be of intelligence value. lester. >> it's amazing to see him speaking so openly. richard, thank you very much. president obama's nominee for the supreme court, merrick garland, made his first visit to capitol hill today, hoping to meet with as many senators as he can, but he's had no meetings with republicans yet. though some now say they're open to the idea. but the gop appears to be standing firm on denying him a vote. nbc's pete williams went to get answers on the hill. >> reporter: they're known as courtesy calls, though merrick garland may find courtesy in short supply at the senate. so far, only democrats have formally agreed to meet with him,
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including minority leader harry reid and patrick leahy. democrats are highlighting their meetings to push for a hearing and a vote though republicans say neither will happen. >> do you think that could be changed? >> i hope that will be changed because i cannot imagine any senator standing up and saying, i'm not going to do my duty. >> reporter: of the senate's 54 republicans, eight have said they're open to at least meeting with garland, though some say that may not be productive. >> i'm not going to change my position because it's based on the principle of this nominee having the possibility of reshaping the court for generations, and i think it's best to allow the american people to weigh in on that. >> reporter: no commitment yet from other republicans who voted 19 years ago to confirm garland as an appeals court judge. one of them, utah's orrin hatch, at first raised the possibility of a vote after the presidential election but no longer now in line wh his party.
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>> we've taken the position that the right thing to do is to put this over to the next president. >> reporter: the real concern, antonin scalia's death leaves the supreme court ideologically split, so any obama nominee would move the court to the left. even a moderate like merrick garland, who hopes he's doing more than going through the motions. the white house hopes to keep the pressure on with pro-confirmation rallies in dozens of cities and a push on social media. in a conference call today with supporters, president obama said make yourselves heard. lester. >> pete williams at the supreme court, thank you. still ahead tonight, accidental poisonings in children. stunning new warnings about a danger in so many homes that's sending kids to the emergency room every nine minutes. also a stunt to try and fire up a crowd at a pep rally goes terribly wrong.
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a new warning every parent must hear. it's about the risk of accidental poisoning for children. almost every minute of every day in the u.s., a call is made to poison control because a child got into medicine they shouldn't be taking. as nbc's erica hill expla explains, the rate of kids being rushed to the e.r. is staggering. >> reporter: robert lee has called 911 just once in his life, for his daughter, katherine. >> i heard a crunching sound, and i heard her say, ew, like she had tasted something bad. i knew she had accidentally gotten one of my pills. >> robert takes several heart and blood pressure pills each day. it's still not clear
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which one katherine ate. >> i was scared and kind of felt guilty all at the same time. >> reporter: every nine minutes, a child is rushed to the e.r. for an accidental medicine poisoning according to a new report. a key factor, nearly 50% of adults take at least one prescription drug. almost 80% use yoenk medicines. >> kids have more exposure, particularly in multi generation al families. 48% of the time, a child who is treated in an emergency room has gotten into a grandparent's medication. >> easy open pill boxes like these are convenient for adults and a major hazard for children. of children brought to the e.r. for possible medicine poisoning, safe kids worldwide reports most found that medicine in a pill box on the floor, in a purse, or right on the counter. experts say controlling access is key. >> all medications should be stored out of sight of children and out of reach of children. >> reporter: katherine wasn't hurt, but learned a lesson.
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>> so now when you see something like this, do you eat it right away? >> no. >> what do you do? >> i -- you think about it and like turn away if it looks like medicine. >> reporter: a reminder for families everywhere. erica hill, nbc news, columbus, ohio. when we come back here tonight, the new claim that a drug many take for a common ailment may not actually provide any relief.
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a new study finds that the main ingredient in many popular pain relievers like tylenol may not help at all when it comes to relieving arthritis. over-the-counter aacetaminophen was not found at any dose for common arthritis pain including in the knee, hip and back. the study found that anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen worked better but should only be used short term. the makers of tylenol disagree with the study citing previous research that the drug is safe and effective.
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trank sinatra jr. has died. he followed his father into the music business, working for him as his musical direct tore and conductor and carrying on his legacy. he made international headlines in 1963 when at 19 years old, he was kidnapped for two days until his father paid a $240,000 ransom for his safe release. family says he dies of cardiac arrest while on tour in florida. frank sinatra jr. was 72. a scary scene caught on camera today at a high school pep rally in florida. it happened when a seasoned stunt performer, a fire breather, was hired to blow fire at the rally, accidentally caught fire himself, and suffered first-degree burns to his face. he is expected to be hospitalized overnight. several students were treated for breathing issues from the smoke. the wait is almost over for two expectant parents at the national arboretum in washington, d.c. a pair of bald eagles are waiting in their
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nest for two eggs to hatch. it won't be long now. a tiny break has started cracking through one of the shells. it promises to be quite an amazing sight for all those who will be watching the live nest cam feed. and, yes, there is such a thing. when we come back, dog overboard. she was lost at sea five weeks ago, but her incredible story of survival has one happy ending. >> announcer: "nbc nightly news" is brought to you by pacific life. for life insurance, annuities and investments, choose pacific life, the power to help you succeed. the confrontationetwn two
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drivers that ended outside a soutbay home. =y ===next close=== fromusing it? we're going to leave you tonight with a story of survival against all odds. a beloved friend lost at sea more than a month ago and feared dead. but she must have one heck of a dog paddle going on because amazingly this dog lived to see another day. nbc's gadi schwartz has the details. >> reporter: it's a sea dog's tale of survival. a wagging tail of survival. >> i was blown away. i still get the chills just looking at her. >> reporter: this is 1-year-old luna fresh off a plane after being found on an island five weeks after being lost at sea. >> i'm just mind blown. i can't believe it's her in the flesh. >> reporter: friends of luna's owner say luna was on a fishing
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boat a couple miles of san clemente island in february when she disappeared. after a desperate two-day search, her owners and the navy finally assumed the worst. >> most of the shoreline looks brown and tan, so you can imagine trying to search for a brown and tan dog would not be an easy thing. >> reporter: her owner posting a good-bye on facebook until the call that she was found safe on an island used by the military for live-fire training. surviving on rain water, fish, and rodents. >> she's thin but she's not emaciated. when we got her, she wasn't even that dehydrated. >> reporter: she was spotted sitting on the side of a desserted road. her ocean blue eyes made her an instant favorite among the sailors. >> i can't believe she's back. >> reporter: the navy making luna an honorary dog tag inscribed with a lesson usually taught to navy s.e.a.l.s in a special survival course. the tag reads, luna, keep the faith. gadi schwartz, nbc news, los angeles. >> looks like a shepherd but
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apparently swims like a retriever. that's going to do it for us on this thursday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. homeowner. driver neay slams into his he - and the csh spked a right now at 6:00, a close call for a san jose homeowner. a driver nearly slams into his house, and the crash starts a small fire. i'm vicky nguyen in for jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. this is happening neither the san jose state campus on san antonio street. not just the end result here but what led to this crash. nbc bay area's damian trujillo is on the scene with the very latest. damian. >> reporter: well, raj, the site of the home is slightly charred by the near hit. that's the white home behind me.
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police say the suspect was speeding possibly about 60 miles per hour here at the scene, and he didn't quite make the turn here on san antonio and 16th streets in san jose. sources tell me the car matches the description of another car that was reported in the west part of town. in that incident, sources tell me the driver pulled out a gun on another driver. police did not find a weapon here at the scene, but they did arrest the driver who is a minor for a hit-and-run and driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. the house that was nearly hit belongs to platen. he told me no one was home at the time only his daulgs but he says it could have been much worse. >> it's typical. if it wasn't for the brave police officers and exceptionally brave firefighters by could have had a disaster here today. thankfully they were both able to make arrest. as you can see from the condition they were able to save the house from massive damage. i'm very thankful. >> police right now are testing


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