tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 18, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
on this saturday night, medicare battleground. the growing fight as paul ryan enlists his mother and the candidates try to win the votes of older americans. west nile emergency. an assault by land and air to stop the spread of the worst outbreak of the deadly virus in years. raging wildfires. hundre of firefighters battle a huge blaze that threatens a thousand homes and has residents preparing for the worst. league of their own. how the boys of one small town rallied their hard-hit community when it needed it most. and making a difference, one man's mission to return lost symbols of sacrifice to the families of those who gave so
symbols of sacrifice to the families of those who gave so much. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. one week after becoming the other half of the mitt romney presidential ticket, congressman paul ryan and his bold plan to transform medicare have tatake en center stage in this campaign. any talk of changes to the critical safety net is sure to get graying americans to sit up and pay close attention. therefore, both sides of the presidential race are trying to define each other's position. being hammered on the topic by democrats, today congressman ryan walked into a sprawling florida retirement community to embrace his plan and say it is president obama who threatens the future of medicare. nbc's ron mott starts us off from the villages in central florida. ron, good evening. >> reporter: hey, lester. good evening the to you. this was perhaps the biggest challenge of paul ryan's
eight-day, seven-state tour of america's political battleground. for good measure today, he brought in some reinforcements. >> say hi to my mom betty. >> reporter: with his 78-year-old mom by his side, paul ryan made the case for sweeping medicare reform in a place touted as the largest retirement community. >> like a lot of americans, when i think about medicare it's not just a program. it's not just a bunch of numbers. it's what my mom relies on. >> reporter: a part-time floridian, her visit helped personalize a heated debate between the campaigns that today got personal among voters on . e >> let's put a few more million in a swiss bank account. >> he made it on his own at least. >> reporter: his first visit here since being named the running mate a week ago was viewed as crucial by the ticket
after assaults by democrats and president obama. >> you would think they would avoid talking about medicare, given the fact that both of them have proposed to voucherize the medicare system. i guess they figure the best defense is to try to go on offense. >> reporter: while there were clear signs of protest at ryan's event, so, too was support by a thousand dollar in the thousands, most of whose benefits would be unchanged under the ryan plan. >> our solution to preserve, protect and save medicare does not affect your benefits. let me repeat that. >> i'm only 60. i don't think i will ever see medicare. >> we are spending money we don't have. it is the kids that have to pick up the bill. my kids, your kids. >> reporter: mitt romney also picked up the charge online. >> we've got to save this critical program.
you paid into it, and you have earned it. >> reporter: in his weekly address president obama knocked congress for sitting on his jobs bill while many americans, like displaced teachers, for example, continue to sit on the unemployment sidelines. he says something has to be done about what and he plans to do something about it. lester? >> we are joined by the moderator of "meet the press," david gregory. is medicare the conversation the romney-ryan ticket wanted to be having now? >> they knew they would face the conversation but picking paul ryan meant they would have to deal with it right away and that's the case. what you have seen and you saw it from paul ryan today and mitt romney and the campaign this week, they have done a couple of things. president obama is right. they have gone on offense. they are trying to argue that there are benefits to their approach to this. it doesn't affect current seniors. they have ways to save the program over the long haul even though there hasn't been evidence to prove putting it to the rigor of the private sector
would do that. they are trying to contrast what they want to do with medicare with the president's health care law. that's an unpopular law whereas medicare is more popular. they have room to run here giving some republicans hope. >> ryan has taken up attention of the last week. he was talked about as a bold choice when romney picked him a week ago. what's the take now? >> well, again, he certainly energized the debate. there is no question that even republicans are worried about this pick. while they think it was a bold stroke by governor romney, they still see all the down sides to this medicare debate. frankly, a shift away from jobs and the economy to talking about the debt and entitlement programs which are difficult debates to have in the middle of a presidential race. >> all right. david gregory, thanks. much more on the campaign tomorrow on "meet the press." david's guests will be maryland governor martin o'malley and virginia governor bob mcdonnell.
to the wildfires in the west where firefighters are battling dozens of blazes tonight. while the threat has receded in washington state, today a huge wildfire is bearing down on two towns in idaho. one of them is featherville. that's where nbc's mike taibbi is following the story for us tonight. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. that's not fog around me. that is smoke. this is right at the line where the huge wildfire that started in the boise national forest will meet civilization meaning houses and humans. the humans have gotten the mandatory evacuation order. we have to leave after this report. as for the houses, they are in imminent danger. idaho's most dangerous wildfire in years has been lurching steadily toward the mountain enclave of featherville. about a thousand homes and other buildings whose owners got straight talk today. >> it will not look the same in the next couple three days as it looks today. we will do everything we can do
out there as firefighters to make sure the community, the hills, the rivers are the same. >> that meant the mandatory evacuations would be soon ordered. a number of emergency shelters were already in place. 63-year-old suzanne durant is ready to leave. the cabin where she lived alone for years since her husband died enveloped in smoke, correctly in the path of the fire spl this whole thing is surrounded by spripg le sprinklers. >> reporter: these are days of reality for kate baldwin, too. she says she'll keep working until she has to leave and hope this fire spares her home. >> the fire will go around us, if it needs to, over us, above us. it will pass us. >> reporter: in an average year there are tens of thousands of western wildfires, but this has been a brutal season.
6.4 million acres destroyed when the ten-year average is around 5 million and it's still mid august. in the past days and weeks the taylor bridge fire in washington has consumed 23,000 acres and 70 homes. the human cost of fighting the fires is ever present. idaho lost 20-year-old firefighter anne vesith this week. she was killed by a falling tree while trying to keep people like suzanne durant from losing so much that matters. >> my husband's ashes are on this mountain. my dogs are buried behind the garage. this is very important to me. >> reporter: this has not been the fastest moving fire. there haven't been fierce winds. yesterday the fire moved only one mile. but it is still moving and growing. this community and down the road a couple of others, pine is down the road, remain in serious peril. lester? >> mike taibbi, thank you. an outbreak of salmonella
has swept across 20 states killing two people and making more than 140 sick. health authorities say it appears to have come from cantaloup cantaloupes grown on a farm in indiana. some 50 people affected in kentucky where the two deaths occurred. overseas, dozens of people reported killed in syria as the war there shows no sign of coming to an end. at the same time, the last group of u.n. observers in syria is leaving this weekend. a sign of frustration after almost 17 months of violence. nbc's eamon mojadin has the latest. >> reporter: the frantic aftermath. a glimpse of what life has become under the regime's daily bombardment. this is where assad's regime has largely been untouchable. the skies above syria. on the ground, his regime has lost control with rebels making gains. caught in the middle are civilians. every day, hundreds more escape to neighboring countries for
help. the rebels say they need the united nations to protect them from assad's superior air power. for now russia reject it is no-fly zone and the u.s. is reluctant to undertake a military operation. the u.n. is resorting to solving the conflict diplomatically. a previous peace plan failed to end the bloodshed. today, the observers part of the plan prepared to leave syria. now the u.n. and arab league have turned to this man, former u.n. diplomat, loknar brahimi to come up with a solution to the war which he said was difficult without a clear mandate from the international community. >> the united nations does not go into a situation like this because it's easy and success is assured. you go into this situation because out's desperately needed. >> reporter: for the people of syria out's a desperation that after 17 months of fighting
still has no end in sight. nbc news, istanbul. there was a big protest in south africa today after the police shot and killed 34 striking mine workers. several thousand people demonstrated peacefully at the site of the shootings in a township northwest of johannesburg. the police opened fire, they say, in self-defense after they came under attack from strikers armed with dangerous weapons. 78 people were injured in the shootings. the deadliest security operation since the end of apartheid. when nbc "nightly news" continues on this saturday evening, history revealed as a drought uncovers a town from the past. later, how one man is making a difference to the families of those who sacrificed so much. hi, i'm phil mickelson. i've been fortunate to win on golf's biggest stages. but when joint pain and stiffness from psoriatic arthritis hit, even the smallest things became difficult. i finally understood what serious joint pain is like.
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43 states. this is the biggest outbreak of west nile virus in eight years. as much of the country continues to suffer through the worst drought in decades, forecasters said those conditions will likely linger in some places through november. as things have dried up, the drought has had an unanticipated side effect -- uncovering long buried pieces of the past. john yang has the story tonight. >> reporter: as the waters recede, the traces of monument city, indiana, reemerge. bricks from demolished buildings and foundations. >> this time of year, it's very rare to see any of the spots where the towns used to be. >> reporter: it's a result of the intensifying drought. the area of extreme or exceptional drought has nearly doubled from 13.5% in may to almost 24% this week. nearly one-quarter of the 48 contiguous states. monument city was one of three
small towns submerged in 1965 when the army corps of engineers create a reservoir. 81-year-old dick roth is one of the class of 1949's six members. >> our school didn't have a gymnasium. our gymnasium was outside. it was a cement slab. >> reporter: he lives half a mile away in a house that was moved from the town when it was flooded. >> i just didn't believe they could put that much water there. but they did. >> reporter: at a visitor's center, other memories are apertured in oral history. mary jo bowl's mother was a teacher. >> for summer it was a bathing suit, coveralls, my fish pole, my bicycle and my dog. i was set for the day. >> we want to keep that story alive for future generations. >> reporter: officials are offering guided tours of the site hoping more former residents will share their
stories just as people today may tell the story of this drought. dropping water levels are baring river bottoms and lake beds and ship wrecks in the mississippi. just like in monument city, mother nature's extremes are providing a peek into the past. john yang, nbc news, chicago. up next here tonight, the little league team that overcame adversity to take its place on a field of dreams. people really love snapshot from progressive, but don't just listen to me. listen to these happy progressive customers.
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michael phelps's agent is saying the swimmer did not violate international olympic committee rules when a set of provocative photographs of him were released during the london games. the pictures were a louis vuitton ad campaign. rule 40 of the ioc prohibits athletes from promoting nonolympic sponsors around the time of the games. his agent says there is no issue because phelps didn't approve
the unauthorized pictures which appeared on several sites on the web. a scene in des moines, iowa today as people came out to see gim gym nast gabby douglas who won two gold medals and lolo jones came home without a medal in her event. she called today's event a light in a dark time for her. 5,000 people attended. the little league world series is going on this weekend. among the teams hoping to go all the way is one from indiana that has overcome tragedy on its way to its field of dreams. we get their story from nbc correspondent michelle franzen. >> reporter: at the little league world series the pride of new castle, indiana, took to the field. cheering them on, family and friends. some who have driven more than 500 miles to see them play. the excitement surrounding the 11 and 12-year-olds started in
their hometown where residents have been struggling since the recession. the team wanted to honor that you are former coach who died of cancer last year. his son caden hit a homerun in the game that sent the team to the world series. >> this was his dream. so all these boys he's coached for many years. so we're doing it for him, too. >> reporter: residents are raising money by selling t-shirts and even doughnuts. the fan frenzy reached a fever pitch all over town. >> everybody's crazy, excited. >> reporter: the boys of summer are giving residents something to rally around. >> since years ago our community has shrunk. this is an awesome opportunity for our community to be in a national spotlight. >> reporter: back at the little league stadium the players beat a team from oregon 4-0. they are gearing up for sunday's game hoping hometown pride and
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antique shops and the hands of collectors. ron allen has the story of one dedicated soldier determined to make a difference by returning those precious honors to where they belong. >> how old is this medal? >> it's from 1932 when the medal was designed. >> reporter: a vermont national guardsman knows what it takes to earn a purple heart. he earned his in afghanistan on september 11, 2010 when shrapnel from a rocket blast left him wounded. he cares more about the purple hearts he's finding. >> each one has identification on the back of it. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: medals that somehow over the years became separated from the men and women who earned them. >> they have been found in nursing homes. >> yes, sir. >> antique shops. >> yes, sir. >> a landfill? >> yes, sir. in the late '50s a gentleman who worked in the sanitation department found it on the ground. >> reporter: mike's mother gave him one she found in an antique
shop as a gift. >> i saw it in the case. i didn't know he would go to the lengths he did to return it to its rightful owner. >> to me they are a symbol of sacrifice. >> reporter: it belonged to a private, just 21 when killed fighting to liberate a french village during world war ii. he believed the family should have the medal and searched every public record available to find them. a year later he located the grave. amazingly, both men were from upstate new york. >> i felt throughout the process he was communicating with me. i consider him a brother in arms. >> reporter: he then found two of piccoli's sisters and presented them along with 50 other piccolis the medal. >> it certainly is an honor. i believe if my brother were still alive he would carry it proudly. >> reporter: the captain's mission continues. he believes there are thousands of purple hearts out there,
lost, forgotten or in the hands of collectors that he wants to find and return to the families of those who sacrificed. >> it symbolizes everything about war. shedding your blood, dying for your country. >> reporter: so far, he's returned half a dozen purple hearts and discovers more every week. >> six more i'm looking to return. >> reporter: giving families very powerful to touch and hold onto. ron allen, nbc news, watertown, new york. >> that's nbc "nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and back here tomorrow evening. "today" and back here tomorrow evening. good night, everyone. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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