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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 26, 2017 6:30pm-7:00pm EST

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. on this sunday night, collision course. the terrifying moments as a pickup truck plows into a mardi gras parade in new orleans, injuring dozens. police say the driver was drunk. great divide. how americans view the president in our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll and the point debate over appointing a special officer. remembering bill paxton. the sudden death of the actor who had so many memorable roles over a career that spanned four decades. what a buy. finding the house of your dreams and getting your student loans paid off in the process. inspiring moment. her reunion years later with the man who helped save her after
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new role >> announcer: from nbc news world headquartehead quaur headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with kate snow. mardi gras sell brags are in full swing in new orleans 24 hours after a terrifying scene as a driver lost control and veered into a crowd injuring dozens. the new orleans police superintendent says the truck driver appeared to be highly intoxicated. he faces multiple charges tonight. some local residents have complained for years about traffic being allowed so near to that parade route. our report tonight from new orleans. >> reporter: fear, chaos and confusion in the middle of a mardi gras celebration. >> everybody was trying to help one another, trying to get them to make sure if i was all right. something like you would have seen in a movie. >> reporter: one of new orleans' famed
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when a pickup truck plowed into a crowd after hitting several vehicles, including a dump truck. station wvue recorded this as the driver of the truck was taken into custody. >> it appears it's a subject who was highly intoxicated, who struck a number of vehicles and veered off hitting a number of innocent people. >> reporter: 25-year-old neilson rizzoto had a blood who will level three times the level. among the 28 people hurt, authorities say a 1-year-old child and a female police officer. tonight neighbors and business owners along the parade route say it's time to increase security. do you think it's time to close off roads to traffic during parades? >> right now is the time. this sends a clear message this has to be done. you've got a parade going on a few feet from families and you've got active traffic there immediately adjacent to a parade route. r
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police were ready to handle an emergency like yesterday's. >> when you have this many people gathered, you're trying to protect against a terrorist attack. this goes to the issue of how prepared cities are now for massive events like this. >> reporter: and officials tonight emphasizing that every available city police officer supplemented by law enforcement from neighboring agencies is on the street tonight protecting crowds. meanwhile, three of the injured remain hospitalized. this as suspect nielsen rizzuto is ready to make his appearance before a judge. >> thank you. there is growing debate tonight over whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate possible ties between trump campaign officials and russia after one prominent republican in congress called for an outside investigation. the president and his aides were pushing back on that today, at the same time a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll finds
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44%. that's a record low for a new president. kelly o'donnell is at the white house tonight. >> reporter: for the trump white house one word is an instant flash point -- russia. >> russia is fake news. this is fake news put out by the media. >> reporter: today the president lamented again. russia talk is fake news put out by the dems and played up by the media. at issue the intelligence community already determined russian hackers did interfere with the 2016 campaign. still under investigation, did trump campaign associates have improper contacts with figures in russia? today the white house said no. >> i think the real easy answer here is that the fbi has already said this story is bs. those are their words. >> reporter: on friday california congressman darrell issa said a special counsel should
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oversee the russia investigation. >> you can't have a friend an appointee up. need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office. >> reporter: other republicans disagreed and said a special prosecutor is a step too far. >> the justice department over the course of time has shown itself with the professionals that are there to have the ability to investigate these type of things. >> reporter: senator tom cotton says the bureau's work on this is counterintelligence, not a criminal probe. >> there's no allegations of any crime occurring. there's not even indication there is criminal investigations under way by the fbi. >> reporter: after the white house acknowledged it urged the fbi to discredit news reports and chairman of the intelligence committees, democrats insist that crosses a line. >> you have seen a flurry of activities that are completely inappropriate. let's have the investigation and find out the truth. >> reporter: while questions about russia are a
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thisesidt of the weekend working on a draft of a high profile speech. they say he'll talk about what he's done in the first five weeks and look ahead for the next year, including ideas like tax reform. kate? >> kelly o'donnell for us at the white house. thanks. our new poll also reinforces just how divided americans are as the trump presidency starts to take shape. we're joined by our senior political editor mark murray. what do we see in these numbers? >> we're seeing perfect polarization. 86% of republicans approve president trump's job performance and compare that to 86% of democrats who disapprove. independents are slightly more negative than positive which explains trump's overall approval nbdz. you can take solace that his base is sticking with him. baraba
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nbc/"wall street journal" poll until august 2011 after that debt ceiling standoff. george w. bush didn't hit that number until after hurricane katrina. as the president continues his attacks on news organizations, one is using this highly visible oscar night to fight back on the issue of truth. "the new york times" is running a 30-second commercial tonight. its first ever during the academy awards with a series of contradictory statements on various issues. it ends with the statements that the truth is hard. hard to know and, more important now than ever. for his part, the president tweeted about that ad today with more criticism of "the new york times." that is just one example of how politics and controversy will likely share the spotlight tonight at the academy awards. steve patterson takes a look. >> reporter: it's oscar night. meryl streep at the golden g
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out president trump without ever saying his name for seemingly mocking a reporter with a disability. >> this instinct to humiliate when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone platform. it filters down into everyone's life. >> reporter: the president repeatedly denied fired back on twitter, calling streep overrated. streep could be back on stage tonight. she's nominated for her role in "florence foster jenkins." also nom named ali for his role in "moonlight", who is muslim, talked about inclusion at the screen actor guild awards. >> the opportunity to see the texture of the person, the characteristics that neighboring them unique. there's an opportunity to go to war. >> hollywood celebrities, filmmakers, all the nominees this year feel they're speaking for the world not just the hollywo
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>> reporter: all directors in foreign film category issued a statement saying regardless of the winner, they would dedicate the award to global unity. iranian director of "the salesman" is boycotting the oscars after president trump's temporary travel ban tar getting predominantly muslim countries. he issueded a video statement during the screening of his film in london. >> and i will try to protect and spread this unity. >> reporter: tonight this hollywood with the best of the silver screen. expect the big moments to go a bit off-script with speaking out taking once again center stage. the president will likely not watch the oscars, at least not live. the press secretary says the first family is instead focused on hosting the governors' dinner. >> steve patterson, thanks. among those who will be remembered at the oscars tonight,
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whose sudden death was announced today in a career that lasted four decades. he played so many memorable roles. jacob rascon takes a look back. >> reporter: whether he was playing a bit part or the leading role, bill paxton left a mark on hollywood. in the 1980s playing characters killed by a terminator and an alien, rising to fame in the '90s as passionate storm chaser in the film "twister." and the greedy fortune hunter in "titanic". >> it's payday, boys. >> reporter: paxton also had memorable tv roles as bill henrikson in the hbo series "big love." in real life the texas native witnessed history among the crowd watching jfk give a speech in ft. worth the day the president was assassinated. paxton later narrated a documentary about kennedy's final hours. today his family revealed the 61-year-old actor
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after an operation, saying it is with rt we share the news that bill paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. the family didn't specify the type of surgery or any health problems. >> for someone in their early 60s it's very uncommon for them to die because of surgical complications but that depending on what type of surgery they're going in for, that puts them at a higher risk of dying or complications. >> reporter: two weeks ago paxton was full of energy on nbc's "last call with carson daly" calling himself a working actor. >> you see stars all the time. i've never had that one movie that really put it all together for me. >> reporter: paxton leaves behind two children and his wife of 30 years. jacob rascon, nbc news, dallas. another familiar face on television died today. judge joseph wapner the star of "the people's court."
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2500 episodes. judge wapner was 97 years old. the trump administration is planning to issue an executive order aimed at helping historically black colleges and universities, who are in a fight for survival now. a report from nbc's ron allen. >> reporter: amidall those abandoned buildings in atlanta is morris brown college, struggling to recover after a financial scandal, lost accreditation a decade ago. just 40 students enrolled. >> this building was built in 1860s. >> reporter: college president shows us where activist work. >> i don't see this as a disaster. i see this as an opportunity for us to be a game-changer. >> reporter: in its heyday, thousands of now an extreme example of the challenges facing america's 100 or so historically black colleges and universities.
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150-year anniversaries. iconic grads from oprah winfrey to martin luther king. most are little known. bluefield state. with many academically and financially disadvantaged students. yet still ladders to the middle class. just 3% of all colleges producing 17% of african-americans with bachelor's degrees. 24% of scientists and engineers. now looking forward to upcoming meeting with president trump who said he wants to help. >> we have a few bright spots in the community but by and large the overall sector is struggling. the underfunding problem cannot be understated. >> reporter: that includes even prestigious schools like morehouse. >> enrollment was down yes. >> >> reporter: the president says schools need to focus on preparing students for the new economy, technology, engineering, and step up alumni fund-raising. you think some are going to disaappear? >>
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make sure morehouse is one that's around. >> reporter: students insist hbus are still necessary. you left harvard to come here. >> i wanted to come to a school more suitable to me. >> in 2017 we still need this safe space. >> reporter: those at morris brown say it fits their needs. >> they want to see you grow, they're trying their best, pushing forward. >> reporter: hoping for new support to continue educating another generation of leaders. ron allen, nbc news, atlanta. a state knowing where you stand. it's never been easier. except when it comes to your retirement plan. but at fidelity, we're making retirement planning clearer. and it all starts with getting your fidelity retirement score. in 60 seconds, you'll know where you stand.
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nded and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. toujeo® helps me stay on track with my blood sugar. ask your doctor about toujeo®. it has been a championship season for a young wrestler in texas who won a state title this weekend and happens to be transgender. but he was forced to compete as a member of the girls' wrestling team. we get details tonight from morgan radford. >> reporter: in with the cheers, a chorus of boos. 17-year-old mack beggs won the texas state championships for girls wrestling in the 110-pound class but he's a transgender boy. >> we train hard every single day. every single day. >> reporter: the spotlight is on him. mack is taking testosterone as part of his hormone therapy which some say gives him an unfair adva
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doesn't mayor. it they're huge and it's not fair. >> reporter: a father of one of the female wrestlers filed an injunction to keep mack from competing with the girls but it was denied. the university interscholastic league in texas says the state allows steroid use for a valid medical purpose and says that each wrestler's gender will be determined based on a student's birth certificate. a rule some say is outdated, especially since mack wants to compete in the boys' competition. >> it's not fair for that individual that wants to transition and wrestle boys. it's not fair for the female wrestlers. >> reporter: this comes as transgender rights have been getting more national attention. just last week the trump administration reversed federal protections for transgender students in public schools that had allowed them to choose bathrooms that match their gender identities. when it comes to gender, who has the right to choose and who should protect that choice? >> in the ideal world, every athlete should be able to compete
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which they identify. when a sporting body does not have trans-inclusive policies, it creates a really unfortunate dynamic. >> reporter: back in texas, many of mack's classmates are rallying behind him. >> it shouldn't matter what gender you are. it should matter how much you are willing to work for it. >> i think he should do whatever he wants to do and be whatever he wants to be. >> reporter: what he wants is to be recognized for who he is. morgan radford, nbc news, new york. when we come back, how buying a home is helping some get rid of the
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the number is staggering. americans are carrying $1.3 trillion in student loans. for some it could mean they have to delay buying a home for years. but one state has come up with an innovative
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>> reporter: when newly engaged couple set out to buy their first home, balancing their budget was the top priority. >> my main concern about getting married was bringing in tons of student loan debt to the marriage. >> reporter: she had $37,000 in student loan debt. >> so, i'm like, we have to get a cheaper home because i don't want to, you know, put more onus on you to pay. >> reporter: when they found a listing for their dream town house in maryland, it came with an unlikely surprise. if they bought it, the state of maryland would pay off her student loans. >> definitely convinced us that we really could afford a house. >> reporter: the new maryland program is called smartbuy. >> to millenials, they're not buying homes. we thought, there's a way we can address this. >> reporter: the state sells renovated foreclosed homes it took on during the mortgage crisis. if you buy one, maryland pays off student loan debt of up to 15% of the home's value. >> we sort of created a discount on the pricing of the home so when the student debt
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would be at the market value. >> reporter: they home cost $205,000. maryland paid off 30 grand of her loans, the couple paid off the remaining $7,000 and then put up a $10,000 down payment. what is the catch, then? >> there really is no catch. they can't dispose of the property in five months and sort of flip it. because we're paying off a significant amount of money, we want to make sure they're here for a certain duration and five years is that time period. >> reporter: meaning fewer foreclosed homes maintained by the government and an incentive for graduates to stay in state. >> it's hard to save for a down payment when home prices are increasing. >> reporter: today they pay their mortgage with the money once budgeted for her student loan. when you saw that zero, how did it feel? >> it was great. it was really exciting. >> reporter: financial freedom to start their next chapter under a new roof. jo ling kent, nbc news, maryland. >> we all know that
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finally tonight, a positive life-changing experience that began in tragedy for a woman who survived a terrible car crash and is now walking in the foot steps of the man who helped save her. from alabama, tammy leitner on how they would meet again 15 years later. >> it was horrific. >> reporter: erica samuels have never spoken about that day, when a drunk driver
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>> he's dead. he's dead. >> reporter: she watched that driver die as medics rushed to save her life. >> the glass was everywhere. all i can recall is the pain, thinge ing agony. i just wanted someone to make it stop. >> reporter: the nurse remembers the injured young woman he took care of almost 15 years ago. >> i have a handful of patients that just really stick out. >> reporter: recently while attending an event at his alma mater, he saw this. >> i stand by -- >> everything came rushing back. the whole night, the details from the night, and i just -- i knew that was her. >> reporter: their emotional reunion caught on camera. >> i almost lost my life that night and to have someone who cared about me, he gave me life. >> it was just a lot of raw emotion at that point. i remember exactly where your bruises were from the wr
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glass. i remember holding your hand. >> reporter: the accident in that time in the hospital changed erica. >> for someone to care about me, a complete stranger, that changed me. and it impacted me so much that i decided to take a new career path. i decided to go back to school. >> reporter: now just months away from graduating nursing school, she hopes to get a job at the same hospital as phillip. >> you were more than a nurse that night. had you not been my nurse, don't know where you would be today. >> reporter: and maybe change a life the way he changed her. tammy leitner, nbc news, mobile, alabama. that is "nbc nightly news" for this sunday night. lester holt will be in tomorrow. i'm kate snow reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow on msnbc from washington. for all of us here at nbc news, have a great night.
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her husband, horrified. >> my wife made a phone call to me to say that she was held by gunpoint. >> her mother, terrified. >> it's your worst nightmare imagining what's happening to your child. >> a note with big demands left by mysterious kidnapper who is seem to know all, see all. >> they are watching the house? >> they are watching the house. >> and then the victim herself calling. her mom jumping in to work with police would hand over the ransom herself. >> if i didn't drop the money properly, that would be the end for quinn. >> she dropped the cash all right, but who picked it up? >> and that's where everything


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