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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  October 17, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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and going strong. >> that's the broadcast for now. "nightly news" coming up next. >> we hope to see you at 11:00. in the meantime, have a good evening. on the broadcast tonight, in an instant. a champion race car driver, a husband and father killed in an awful crash. tonight, what went wrong? and the question, should all of those cars have been on that track? sticker shock. if you know the feeling when your cell phone bill arrives there is news tonight that could make you feel better. critical condition, a li-threatening shortage of life-saving cream they were drugs. tonight are some companies making the shortage worse to rack up bigger profits? and how young is too young to medicate children for hyperactivity? a controversial recommendation
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tonight from the nation's pediatricians. also the south pole rescue. an american woman stranded at the end of the earth in need of medical help finally makes it out. medical help finally makes it out. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the photo of him along with his wife and two small children is heartbreaking. the picture of the perfect-seeming family, but tonight dad is gone from the picture because dad raced cars for a living and there was a tragedy in las vegas yesterday. if you're not a race fan it may all look the same, cars going way too fast, making only left turns and taking too big of a risk for a trophy and some prize money. if you're a fan you get it. if you are among racing's interconnected families you understand it as well. at any level, however, the death of champion driver dan wheldon is just sad. before it's over it may have ramifications for an entire sport.
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we want to begin with nbc's george lewis who's in las vegas. just to set the scene here, while nascar uses sedans that look roughly like the cars we all drive, these indy cars are spindly hybrids with exposed wheels and they go very fast. >> reporter: yeah. they're about one-third the weight of a nascar automobile, brian. when you've got a pack of them racing at more than 200 miles an hour separated by just feet there is always the potential for disaster. some race veterans say this was one of the worst pileups they had ever seen. >> oh, here he goes. >> the contact and a huge crash. >> reporter: it happened on the 12th lap of a 300-mile race when the tires of two cars touched, sending them out of control. what followed was a chain reaction of collisions. 15 cars in all. >> looks like dan wheldon may be involved in it. >> reporter: wheldon's car launched into the air, hitting the wall in a fiery crash along with several other race cars.
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>> indy car is very sad to announce that dan wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries. >> reporter: a two-time winner of the indianapolis 500, wheldon, 33 years old, leaves behind a wife and two small sons. his family, friends and colleagues in racing were stunned by the news of his death. >> daniel was born to be a racer and yesterday left us doing what he loved to do. he was a true champion and a gentleman off and on the track. >> he was a friend of all of us. he'll be missed. i just feel for his family. >> one minute you're joking around before driver intros and -- the next -- dan's gone. >> reporter: a few days before the race, wheldon spoke to the cable network versus. >> we're certainly up to the challenge. you know, these racetracks are tracks i normally go very, very well at. >> reporter: in an appearance in
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june with david letterman, wheldon talked about safety improvements to future indy cars. >> you don't want the wheels climbing over each other. that's when unpleasant things happen. >> exactly. i don't want any part of that. >> reporter: there are questions about whether indy cars belong at tracks like las vegas. a mile and a half banked oval designed for the nascar circuit. by contrast the indianapolis motor speedway is a two and a half-mile course, kind of a rectangle with rounded corners and long, flat straightaways. five-time defending nascar champion jimmy johnson called for an end to racing on oval tracks. >> the cars are going so fast and get airborne that i wouldn't run them on ovals. there is just no need to. >> when there is a wreck that transpires in front of you, you don't have time to react to brake or even steer away from the wreck. that's precisely what happened to dan wheldon. >> reporter: and he paid for it with his life. now, tonight indy car usa, the
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organization that had this race here, had no comment to the critics who say that machines built for the indianapolis 500 have no business racing on tracks like this one. brian? >> george lewis tonight. obviously our thoughts are with members of his family. in other news tonight, president obama's jobs bill may have been blocked in the senate, but he was back out on the road today pushing for it, campaigning for it in another form in some key political states. nbc's kristen welker with us from millers creek, north carolina, traveling with the president tonight. kristen, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. president obama will spend three days here in north carolina and virginia pushing his jobs policy. but earlier today it sure seemed a lot like politics. president obama sounded a lot like a candidate on the campaign trail in north carolina today. >> i love ashville. in fact, i think i should be on the tourism promotion bureau of ashville. >> reporter: the official reason
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for the trip, to sell the american jobs act. but with almost every phrase, the president took direct aim at republicans. >> they want to gut regulations. they want to let wall street do whatever it wants. >> reporter: the line seemed like an attempt to tap into the occupy wall street populist anger that's swept the country. and mr. obama railed against republicans for voting against his jobs bill. >> we're going to break up the jobs bill. maybe they couldn't understand the whole thing all at once. so we're going to break it up into bite-sized pieces. >> reporter: the president stopped to take in some north carolina barbecue along the way -- an image that fuelled the charge that this is about getting re-elected. >> on the taxpayer's dime the president is now traveling attacking the republican plan. >> reporter: today is the first day of a three-day presidential trip to virginia and north carolina -- states that
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candidate obama won in 2008, states that had been safe for republicans before that. but the economy has sent his approval ratings here tumbling. >> his real challenge though is winning back those moderate swing voters in north carolina and virginia that provided the decisive margin for him to win in those two states. >> reporter: republicans have done the math and karl rove's super pac, american crossroads, is running this attack ad in both states. >> president obama's latest way is still the wrong way. >> reporter: now, brian, under one scenario, president obama could lose florida, indiana, new hampshire and ohio and win just one of these bus tour states to get the 270 electoral votes he needs for re-election. brian? >> here we are talking 270 electoral votes already. kristen welker, thanks. the occupy wall street protesters have been camped out in lower manhattan for one month now.
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from its very simple beginnings, the movement has lately been seeing its impact felt around the globe. many around the world are asking what the next move is here. nbc's mara schiavocampo is with us from lower manhattan tonight. mara, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. organizers here at zuccotti park released a statement saying while they are grateful to reach the one-month milestone there is a lot of work to be done. this weekend the occupy wall street movement had its biggest events yet. tens of thousands gathered for a global day of protest including in new york's times square and in london. while the protests were mostly peaceful, there was some violence. groups in rome burned cars and smashed window. in chicago, 175 were arrested when police dismantled a tent camp. here in new york, support continues to pour in. organizers get up to 400 boxes of donated supplies every day and they have received $300,000 in cash. as for what's next, the group here has started holding daily
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think tank meetings for a better sense of what protesters want. brian? >> mara schiavocampo in lower manhattan tonight. thanks. now to a story about what we pay for the privilege of being in touch and owning a cell phone. under pressure from the federal government the wireless industry has agreed to warn you before you have exceeded the monthly limits on minutes or text messages, among other things. nbc's tom costello has more on this new fine print. >> reporter: for christina cayoza, it was a wakeup call her freshman year in college. with a boyfriend in another city her first cell phone bill was $360, $300 more than normal. >> for someone in college especially it was so much money that i didn't have. >> reporter: in wyoming, the chris tofr -- christofferson's
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family bill was nearly $800 after 13-year-old dina sent out 10,000 text messages. her father reacted by taking a hammer to the phone. >> i felt really bad. i have learned my lesson. >> reporter: they are not alone. nationwide there are 300 million wireless users. in the past year, consumer reports magazine has conducted two surveys and found that 20% of those asked experienced cell phone bill shock. the fcc found 23% of those had unexpected charges of $100 or more. today, with the fcc considering regulations against excessive charges the wireless companies announced they are acting on their own. >> the solution will give consumers the information they need to save money on their monthly wireless bills. >> reporter: the carriers agreed that within 12 months they must warn customers by voice, text, data or roaming alert if they are about to exceed their plan and rack up extra charges. within 18 months they must use all four alerts to warn customers. consumer advocates are applauding. >> to now have free tools and free alerts to let them know when they are about to go over is a great step forward for consumers.
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>> reporter: christina's college cell phone bill went to dad. >> he called me right quick to tell me how much i owed him and how quickly it had to be in his account. >> reporter: call it econ 101. tom costello, nbc news, washington. now we turn to the drama that's been playing out at the south pole where an american woman had to wait seven weeks to get out to get medical care for an apparent stroke she suffered while on the job. tonight, she is out. nbc's anne thompson picks up the story. >> reporter: the final taxi of the military plane ended renee-nicole douceur's struggle to get proper treatment for a suspected stroke. >> i had lost half my vision and that was with both eyes. it's come back now. but i have difficulty reading. talking, i tend to jumble words sometimes. >> reporter: the 58-year-old's calm demeanor after landing
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masked her fear during weeks isolated at the south pole. she ran the base for the ratheon polar services and the national science foundation. she fell ill at the end of august and asked to be airlifted out but they refused climbing her condition wasn't life threatening after consulting with doctors and that the extreme cold posed too great a risk to the rescue crew. instead, she had to wait for the first regularly scheduled cargo flight of the warming season to drop off supplies and take her out in an unpressurized plane. >> they kept the plane at low altitudes so the crew knew what to do if something happened to me. luckily, nothing. it was a fantastic flight. >> reporter: her journey from the bottom of the earth started at 4:16 sunday afternoon new york time. taking off for the four-hour flight to the mcmurdo station. she switched planes and was on her way to christchurch for seven hours, landing at 4:55 this morning. now in new zealand, an mri will
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help determine if she had a stroke or if her symptoms were a result of something else -- such as a tumor or multiple sclerosis. one doctor she consulted in the u.s. is optimistic. >> i think the fact that her symptoms haven't progressed over six weeks is the best sign for her. >> reporter: hoping the adventure at the south pole leaves her with memories and nothing else. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. still ahead here on the broadcast tonight, news about critical shortages of life-saving cancer drugs. are some companies trying to profit on the misery of others? and later, ritalin for preschoolers perhaps? a new recommendation that could very well surprise you. preschoolers perhaps? a new recommendation that could very well surprise you. a totally different way to save on car insurance. the better you drive, the more you can save.
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found some companies are making the situation worse in the name of profits. the story from our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers. >> reporter: 13-year-old joey norris who's been battling leukemia for three years was back at children's national medical center today for more chemotherapy. his mom margaret says a critical shortage of drugs to fight this disease frightens her. >> to find out you may not have access to the drug you're looking for that you have to have is terrifying. >> reporter: so far joey has gotten what he needs. she says other moms had to drive hours to find drugs for their children. dr. jeffrey dome said the unprecedented shortage threatens to roll back years of progress in increasing survival rates. >> children's lives could be lost if they don't have the drugs available to treat their cancer. >> reporter: it's that serious? >> yes. >> yes. >> reporter: doctors at other hospitals say they have had to delay or reorder treatments.
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now a congressional staff investigation has found that some companies acting as middlemen are actually making the shortage worse, buying drugs for everything from cancer to infections, then selling them for astronomical prices. >> exacerbating the shortage and they are prof tiering big time. >> reporter: congress found a miami-based company offering a leukemia drug that sells to hospitals for $12 a vile for $990 a vilal. and another company selling a breast cancer and ovarian cancer drug, typically $65 for $500. the average markup for drugs in short supply was 650%. >> this is the epitome of greed. >> reporter: we reached out to the companies accused of profiteering. they deny the allegations, say they are cooperating with with
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the investigation and say they are helping by getting drugs to patients who need them. but several hospitals say price gouging is happening. >> it's outrageous, immoral. >> reporter: joey faces three more years of treatment. so you're a tough guy? >> yeah, a little bit. >> reporter: lisa myers, nbc news, washington. >> coming up tonight, news about treating hyper active children. how young is too young? and a firefighter who made the save of his life. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief for many with arthritis pain and inflammation. plus, in clinical studies,
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there are new guidelines out tonight from pediatricians and the recommendation for treating adhd, attention hyperactivity disorder. what's this all about? >> it's about really expanding the age at which kids can be diagnosed and treated. it's now between 6 and 12.
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pediatricians are urging we expand it to kids between 4 and 18. the question -- why? well, not to scramble to get more kids diagnosed but to allow pediatricians, teach rs and parents to all be on the same page. the idea is that if we diagnose kids earlier and we believe that those signs many times show up earlier that everyone can frankly intervene. a lot of people will raise the question, well, does that mean treating more children with hyper activity medications? right now it's a $3 billion industry. it's expected to rise significantly by the year 2015, maybe significantly higher. but the pediatricians say, not so fast. we are not talking about necessarily medicating kids but making sure we are interceding early. some kids need medications and it works well. other kids just behavioral therapy. but i think this is going to destigmatize add in a way we have tried to do with autism. intercede early, broaden the
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horizons, treat appropriately and understand that this which affects 8% of our kids is something we have to be on the same page about. >> we'll follow this as it plays out. nancy snyderman, thanks. new study from gallup is out. one in seven american workers are normal weight without a chronic health issue. told the other way, 86% of us have either weight or chronic health problems or both which leads to an estimated 450 million missed work days per year at a cost of $150 billion in lost productivity to the u.s. by the way, in case you didn't hear it was a weird weekend in pro football, not for anything the players did on the field. it was the head coaches who made news on sunday. beginning with this moment. 49ers had just beaten the lions. 49ers head coach jim harbaugh got into the grill of lions coach jim schwartz who said, wait a minute, and got in his face and then they had to be
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separated. as one sports writer put it today, instead of robot head coaches they reminded us they are human, too. saints' head coach was taken out. broken leg. surgery today. he stayed in the game, calling plays from the bench. folks on the sidelines will tell you nfl players move so fast there is no getting out of their way whether you are a photographer, cheerleader or in this case head coach. up next as we continue tonight, a little boy survives against all odds thanks to a hero firefighter who says he was just doing his job. my retirement plan at work is a big deal... thanks... so i'm glad it's with fidelity. they offer me one-on-one guidance to help me choose my investments. not just with my savings plan here at work. they help me with all of my financial goals. looking good, irene. thanks to fidelity, i can stay on top of my financial future, huh? good one. why, thank you.
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♪ finally tonight, this next story was almost very bad news. it started with a fire alarm in boston last night. it ended with an act of heroism that defines what it means to be a first responder -- to protect and serve your fellow citizens instinctively and how a split second life and death decision is just part of another night on the job. the story from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: firefighters are trained to stand and deliver in the flaming heat of battle. but after midnight, one of boston's bravest essentially did the opposite. he stood and received.
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his catch -- a terrified 6-year-old boy hurled from a burning apartment building. >> i was thanking my lucky stars. i was just -- happened to be in the right place at the right time. that's what we're here for. >> reporter: the veteran and his crew were called out on a six alarm blaze. more than a dozen people trapped. all were rescued. the boy's grandmother confronted with an impossible life and death decision. wait for help or drop him three stories down. >> i thank god. i don't know what i would have done. i thought that was the end. i thought we were going to die in that fire. it was so bad. it was so scary. >> reporter: it was a frantic scene when firefighters arrived. little xavier dangling from a window. firefighters rushed to get a ladder extended when his grandmother couldn't hang on any longer. tonight, 75 people are homeless, thankful fire crews got to them in time.
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>> i think they did their job so well. well done. even though i lost everything i have. i have the greatest thing that can't be replaced. my life, my family's life. i thank god for that. >> reporter: a fine example of bravery under fire and a well deserved pat on the back from a hero just doing his job. ron mott, nbc news, boston. >> modest man thanking his lucky stahs. thanks for being with us. i'm brian williams. we


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