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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  September 29, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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samoa. tsunami warnings, deaths and damage. saying no to a public insurance plan. the public option in today's mar vote in health care reform. a death in texas focuses the worst fears of parents about swine flu and the vaccine to prevent it. >> and road hazard, are the feds fixing to crack down on distracted drivers? "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. a bp a big and powerful ea hp hit thit the sout hit t touchptouched off warnings y over a human arpover a hum. an underwater event this large touches off an awful kind of waitiwaiting peter where man k
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powerlepowerless over the forc nature. hehere is where it hit. sour south p south of amerisou of about washington, d.c. ttthr the shop the shothe overp er a vast area of th. off george, good we >> reporter: good evening. ththey are counting the dead a injured. thethere are at least 14 dead. ththat number is expected to g much higher as >> the islands of samoa and america samoa are home to about 300,000 people. immediately the alert went out to flee to higher ground. a businessman talked of losing one of his employees. >> a night watchman in one of my stores has died.
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he got caught in the water. >> reporter: from washington, america samoa's representative said he had been in touch with constituents at home. >> we do have fatalities and severe damages to the main town. >> reporter: for a time places as far away as the hawaiian islands were put on tsunami watch. >> we are warning anyone around the beaches at 1:00 hawaii time to stay away from the coast. >> reporter: officials feared a repeat of the indian ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 11 countries. that was from a magnitude nine earthquake. today's resulted in the magnitude eight range. a big difference according to scientist. >> it produces 32 times energy of a magnitude eighth. >> reporter: the quake went on
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for three to five minutes followed by a sequence of five big ocean waves. dr. steve lyons is the tropical weather expert at the weather channel. that is his title. he is generally our go-to guy on natural disasters. steve, how long is the lapsed time between the event and the formation of a tsunami or the all clear? >> it's almost instantaneous. the tsunami forms as soon as the earthquake occurs and the wave starts propagating out like a pebble in a pond, brian. it spreads farther away from the epicenter of the earthquake the wave gets lower in height. it can be devastating far, far away. >> we arrived in indonesia not long after the disaster hit there. the whole world swore up and down they would have better notification systems after that. are we better off in terms of triggering, knowing if one is
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coming than we were then? >> we are in the pacific ocean. we have a lot of buoys out there. hawaii knows they are not going get a major tsunami there. they have a tsunami advisory which means there could be rises and falls that could provide dangerous currents. that advisory is all the way to the west coast including california and oregon. all sides of the hawaiian islands can be affected and portions of the west coast up to oregon. people should stay out of the water, too, tomorrow. >> we will keep watching it and you. steve lyons at the weather channel. thanks, as always. we shift our focus to washington. on capitol hill tonight, a significant test for a big piece of president obama's health care reform plan. it is known as the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would operate alongside private insurance. nbc's kelly o'donnell has been watching this all day.
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kelly what is the status tonight? >> reporter: brian, had you noticed the public option had fallen off the radar a bit? today it was front and center and back. most democrats want some kind of government-backed insurance plan. today a happenedful of democrats blocked it. with the fate of a government-run health insurance plan on the line -- >> we need a public option to create competition and to bring costs down. >> reporter: today the democrats' more liberal members fiercely argued the government should provide health insurance with affordable premiums as an alternative to private insurance. >> i feel so strongly because it makes so much sense. the pop i represent need this. >> reporter: no surprise. republicans completely oppose a public option. >> a government-run plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business. >> reporter: the pivotal opposition came from fellow
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democrats on the senate finance committee. >> i favor what i would call the public interest option but not one that is run by a government agency. >> reporter: two public option proposals fail and key democrats argued practical politics that the full senate will not pass health care reform that includes government-backed insurance. >> i can count. no one can show me how to count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill. >> reporter: republicans seized on the democrats' internal struggle. >> if it is so popular, why do so many democrats have a problem with it? why is it causing your side so much consternation? i think the reason is it is not popular. >> reporter: the public option is not officially dead, today's vote is telling. now it goes to the full senate to weigh in and more pressure on the president to say whether he
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will sign a health care bill that doesn't have a public option. >> now it gets interesting. kelly o'donnell with another chapter on the hill. now we shift our focus to the latest on the swine flu and the death of a young teenager with no underlying health problems in texas. it has rattled some parents from coast-to-coast. here is sour chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> 14-year-old chloe lindsay of fort worth got swine flu. friday her mother took her to a doctor. the doctor gave her no anti-viral drugs because she had been healthy. over the next few days she had increasing difficulty breathing. >> she said mom it hurts. >> reporter: sunday her mom rushed to her to the hospital but doctors couldn't save her. >> she had the flu and now she's gone. i can't fathom this could happen to me. >> reporter: such cases are
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extremely rare by why officials worry so much about swine flu. testimony on capitol hill today, the cdc director repeated that most cases are moderate or mild. >> this is uncharted territory for influenza season. we've had already many millions of cases and we will have many millions of cases more. >> reporter: the severe cases are why officials are so eager to get a vaccine out. the big part of the debate involves health care workers. today on the steps of the state capitol a group rallied against the law. >> enforced medical treatment is an assault and violation of the 14th amendment. >> reporter: some health experts say whether the law requires it or not, health care workers should be among the first to get the seasonal flu vaccine and swine flu vaccine when it is available. >> i want to say one important message, i'm sorry, but it's not about you. it is about the patients that
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you are privileged to care for and it is about protecting them. >> reporter: beginning to night we'll be asking your help in telling us what is going on with this new flu strain. things like how much flu is in your area? how are schools and hospitals coping? and what is the availability of vaccine? you can post on and we will follow up. you can tell from this tragic case it is a rapidly changing situation. >> it has people's attention. bob, thanks. president obama goes into crucial meetings on afghanistan strategy and policy with an endorsement today with the new chief of nato. at the white house nato secretary general rasmussen said the president was right to hold off on additional troop deployment until strategy revisions are determined. the president will meet with senior military and diplomatic advisers tomorrow. he is considering shifting course in the now eight-year-old afghan war.
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suspect terrorist najibullah zazi appeared in a new york court today. the man at the center of this al qaeda plot to set off bombs in the u.s. pleaded not guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges. prosecutors say he received training in pakistan and was going to make explosive devices. if the feds wanted to do something about distracting driving other than driving in can car with us, what could they do? questions about where the stimulus money went. what some are calling a net gain. you've wanted to quit smoking so many times, but those days came and went, and the cigarettes remained. but today's a new day. and a few simple steps can make a real difference in your next quit...
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really bad. then we learned that a flu shot can reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 70%. we got our flu shots at cvs pharmacy. best thing we ever did. yes, indeed. [ laughs ] come in to get a flu shot today and get a $100 coupon book just for stopping by. go to to find a flu shot location near you. cvs pharmacy.
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toyota is issuing the largest u.s. recall in its history. it affects 3.8 million lexus, camry, prius and other models because of a floor mat problem that could cause the accelerator to stick. the national highway traffic safety administration advises taking out removable floor mats as a safety measure. to find out if your car is involved log on tonig witnesses are gathering for a summit of what the transportation secretary calls an epidemic of distracted
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driving. this use of cell phones, blackberries, ipods, gps units now thought to be responsible for up to a quarter of all vehicle accidents every year in this country. nbc's tom costello has our report tonight from salt lake city. >> reporter: it was the tragedy that convinced utah to adopt some of the toughest distrated driver laws in the country. 17-year-old lauren was as funny and sweet as she was beautiful. her picture wasn't supposed to end up on a bumper sticker. >> i'll never have anyone call me mom again. she was my only child. that is a hard thing to think about. i miss that. >> reporter: on this street in salt lake city lauren's life came to a horrific end. lauren was traveling through a green light when a teenager looking up an address on a cell phone ran his red light.
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the impact flipped lauren's suv. she died in the intersection. 19-year-old theodore jorgensen pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. at the university of utah researchers determined the crash risk could be double driving with the legal definition of drunk driving. you call this an impairment? absolutely. you are impaired when you are talking on the phone or text messaging. >> reporter: professor strayer put me in the simulator. hands free conversations cause drivers to lose focus and texting, the crash risk jumps 23 times. >> there's no way to be safe while you're texting. none. >> reporter: now in washington an urgent summit to address all forms of distracted driving.
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18 states ban texting while driving congress is considering a federal ban. >> it is not worth risking someone's life. >> reporter: lauren's mom asked theodore to be sentenced to community service not prison. it made no sense to lose two lives. we have your first look at your new supreme court. new because one of the nine justices are new, justice sotomayor. the justices will tell you with so tight a group just one makes for a new court. the justices gather for a fresh photo each time there is a new member. when "nightly news" continues in just a moment, checking in with a chicago man we met a year ago who is trying to stop the exact kind of violence that has shocked everybody this week.
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. four chicago teenagers are being held without bail in kwex the stomach turning beating death of a 16-year-old honor student in an out-of-control
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street fight caught on videotape. nbc's kevin tibbles reports on a man who was the subject of one of our make a difference report a year ago. then and now he is trying to stop this science. >> reporter: they come to the makeshift memorial to the southside chicago spot where 16-year-old derrion albert was beaten to death, caught on video, he was punch, kicked and pummelled. >> they had railroad ties and two by fours. think if they had guns. >> reporter: harold davis is a local contractor we met a year ago at the same high school. running a program that pays students to restore and repair buildings. >> a weapon of mass destruction is an 18-year-old child with no education with a gun. there is something mad going on in our community.
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>> reporter: he isn't into excuses. >> why is it we are allowing our children to be out here in this madness as parents and don't know where your child is? >> reporter: davis says a mix of anger, gangs and a lack of opportunity is boiling over in a city that has seen 13 children shot since the start of the school year. >> you see gobs of them, mobs of them walking and hanging in the streets. not going home after school. >> reporter: why? >> why go home? there is nothing at home. >> reporter: fourteens have been charged with den on's murder, one a juvenile. a vigil ended with techers flaring. >> we are marching to tell young people to stop killing each other. that is against everything martin king fought for. you become immune and numb and
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today is a funeral not a future. >> reporter: just another boy? >> just another boy. that is the order of the day. >> reporter: and for harold davis another funeral too soon. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. when we come back tonight, we take you to a place where that federal stimulus money we heard so much about is at work. it also happens to be underwater. ( coughs ) ♪ ( sneezes ) we're making it easy for everyone to get their flu shot, no matter how small their motivation may be. ♪ come get yours for just $24.99. walgreens. there's a way to stay well.
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when president obama signed that huge economic stimulus package earlier this year we heard a lot about the jobs it would create, what were called shovel-ready projects like highway and bridge repair. while some of it hasn't been spent, while some of it is not yet visible, some of the money and work wound up in places you might not have expected including the bottom of puget sound near seattle. the story from lee cowan. >> reporter: ppeugot sound is a surprising place for the government to sink money. beneath these frigid waves lies a project so enticing noaa
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granted $5 million in stimulus funds to put it in high gear. the money goes to the northwest straits foundation that hires local fishermen and divers to retrieve abandoned fishing nets. it is dangerous work but important. lost fishing gear are an environmental disaster. >> they smother habitats more importantly they catch indiscriminately all kinds of species. >> reporter: it is called ghost fishing. >> only a few divers ever see it. it is hard to convince people there really is a problem. >> reporter: so we decided to join those divers. 60 feet down in 45-degree water. on this net the size of a football field kenny shows me hundreds of trapped animals.
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he cuts the netting and sends it to the surface one piece at a time. >> it is going to take a long time to get that out. it is a lot of work. >> reporter: on deck the nets are bagged and survivors are freed like this king crab, a protected species. >> this is the reason we are out here, to save little guys like this. >> reporter: the cleanup might have taken 15 years but with the stimulus money the cleanup would be 18 months. an economic and environmentally friendly solution to a problem as hold as the sea. lee cowan, nbc news, along the bottom of the pugot sound. without showing team favoritism for a sensitive time of year for all baseball fans. there was a great moment during
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last night's yankee game everyone can enjoy. it needs to be said for the record yankees having won the al east benched $66 million worth of talent to give guys a rest which allowed a new guy, ramiro pena to play. he promptly hits his first big league home run. if you know baseball the fix was in. watch him return to the dugout. stone silence at a-rod's urging. not a glimmer of organization or recognition. wait for it. then they pounced on him. all is forgiven. welcome to the big show. a hazing big league tradition continues. that is "nightly news" for this tuesday. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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