tv NBC Nightly News NBC September 24, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
bought a million dollar yacht. and five corporate jets. i'm proud of what i did at hp. [ male announcer ] carly fiorina. outsourcing jobs. out for herself. [ barbara boxer ] i'm barbara boxer and i approve this message. on our broadcast tonight, on on our broadcast tonight, on stage. what a comedian was doing before a committee of congress today. and how was his accused received at the end of an angry week in politics? the gift to a public school system in shambles. we're learning more about what a young billionaire's money is supposed to buy. desperate hours underground. for those trapped chilean miners. tonight from the scene we learn more about how they are killing time until their rescue. caught on tape. what were these navy pilots up to that has them in hot water tonight? and dirty work. a woman making a difference by taking on trash and teaching kids her own secret. also tonight, another hollywood icon is gone. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. a lot of people weren't quite sure to make of it when they saw it and then some decided it was an example of what government isn't doing quite right these days. on capitol hill today, a very serious political issue, immigration, was turned over, intentionally, to a scripted farce, to make a point as the comedian stephen colbert brought his fictionalized late-night tv character to an actual congressional hearing where he had been invited to testify about a single day he spent on a farm courtesy of the farm workers union. he was hardly the first celebrity to testify before congress, but nobody had seen anything quite like this before, and there's never been a climate quite like this one before. our white house correspondent savannah guthrie is here with us
in our new york studios with more on this to start us off. >> reporter: as is customary in washington, colbert submitted prepared written remarking before his testimony, and they looked straightforward enough. when he sat down to testify, he went off script and into his comedy routine. and not everyone is laughing tonight. on capitol hill today, more evidence of why some americans think washington is a joke. the comedian stephen colbert, was billed as an expert witness on farm labor. and testified in character. >> congresswoman asked me to share my vast experience, spending one day as a migrant farm worker. i'm happy to use my celebrity to draw attention to this important complicated issue, and i certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to c-span1. >> reporter: one congressman initially asked him to leave. >> you run your show, we run the committee. but what do you say to that, stephen?
>> reporter: but the testimony went on for several uncomfortable minutes. though not every member gave him undivided attention. >> this is america. i don't want a tomato picked by a mexican. i want it picked by an american, then sliced by a guatemalan and served by a venezuelan in a spa where a chilean gives me a brazilian. >> reporter: asked about it later, nancy pelosi saw no problem with the stunt. >> he has a point of view, he can bring attention to important issues like immigration. >> reporter: republicans said colbert mocked the process. >> if you don't know they were illegal, they might have been legal workers there, is that correct? >> i don't know. i have no idea. >> reporter: privately, some democrats worried the whole spectacle would fan the flames of voter disgust with washington at a time when the electorate is already on edge. >> whatever the spanish word for mono is. >> reporter: on thursday night, what should have been a stayed
candidate debate turned into fight night in vegas. audience members broke into a physical scuffle trading punches. while the senate candidates were repeatedly booed and heckled. just the latest sign of america the angry. >> see you back here at 5:00. >> reporter: the president, even among supporters wednesday night in new york, was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers. >> we listen to you. we heard your point. >> reporter: and at a town hall this week, he got something of a talking to. >> quite frankly i'm exhausted. i'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that i voted for. >> reporter: with unemployment not budging, wall street enjoys profits while main street struggles, voters are fed up, ready to take out their frustrations at the ballot box. >> some people are angry, some people are scared because of the economic conditions, some people are disillusioned who invested hope in president obama.
some people are turned off in a way that they don't believe any party is going to make a difference. >> reporter: analysts say the only issue is how much that voter anger and discontent drives them to the polls, whether they'll turn out or whether in disillusionment stay home. that could be the difference between some losses for democrats or big losses for democrats. >> you look at just today, we still got a ways to go yet before the election. savannah guthrie, nice having you here in new york. a controversial week here in new york city ended today with a last-minute surprise from iran's president, mahmoud ahmadinejad, on his way out of town. after yesterday's remarks at the u.n., claiming most people believed the u.s. government was behind the attacks of september 11th, ahmadinejad today met with that young american woman hiker recently released from an iranian prison. earlier on the "today" show, sarah shourd asked for the meeting and this afternoon she got it. >> the president was very gracious.
he was happy to meet my mother and asked many questions about our family and her grandchildren. we talked about my fiance. he was very positive, and for me it was a very human encounter. >> our tehran bureau chief is here with us in new york this week, and in our studios with us tonight. ali, you study this man, you've covered him a lot. what do you think is going on with ahmadinejad? >> i think today he wanted to play to two different sides. there's a faction in iran that expect him to be controversial and have a rant against the united states. and there are other people that expect him to be softer, a little more compassionate and he was able to do exactly those two things here. he had his 9/11 round and then he was able to be compassionate and human as sarah shourd called him today. >> meantime, where does he fit and what's going on back in tehran where he'll now return? >> well, it's all hanging in the balance there.
after the elections there, we've seen a deep rift amongst the government and that was highlighted in sarah shourd's case here. he intervened, the judiciary stepped in and said you can't let her go. we're going to set bail and other conditions and it was embarrassing for him. so he's come back here and got the upper hand amongst the judiciary. we'll see what he can do with the two other boys still in prison in iran. >> ali here with us in new york for this u.n. meeting. thanks, always a pleasure. now to education. we told you about this story last night. today it became a reality. the 26-year-old founder of facebook, mark zuckerberg, gave a $100 million gift to the city of newark, new jersey public school system, and now the questions start about what happens next, where the money goes. all this happening, by the way, as nbc news gets ready to launch "education nation" here at 30 rockefeller plaza, shining a spotlight on education issues nationwide.
our education correspondent, rehema ellis, with us tonight from newark with more. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. for months, the mayor of newark has been working on a plan to improve his city's schools which have some of the worst graduation rates in the nation. today his not so secret secret plan was made public. >> ceo and founder of facebook, come on out here, guys. come on out. >> reporter: the official announcement came on one of tv's biggest stages, the oprah winfrey show. >> his first project will be a $100 million challenge grant. >> reporter: mark zuckerberg, founder of facebook, announced a grant to help newark's struggling schools. the shy, 26-year-old billionaire wanted to make an anonymous gift but was convinced to change his mind. >> every child deserves a good education. and right now that's not happening. >> reporter: new jersey's republican governor chris christie and nooshg's democratic mayor cory booker joined forces to make a bold agreement on how to use the funds.
the governor will turn over some control of newark's state-run schools to the mayor, who scored a coup in getting zuckerberg's donation. >> it's about the children. >> reporter: some of the project details include setting up a $100 million education foundation. newark must raise $100 million in matching funds. the city must also raise another $50 million to serve disadvantaged kids. in newark, 150 teachers have high hopes for the project. >> i'm so excited for what that could mean for the children and families. i could think of a billion stories in my head right now. >> reporter: in a city where 45% of the students do not graduate from high school, education experts say newark is now taking on another enormous challenge. >> if they fail, every foundation, every mayor and governor is going to look at this as proof of why this will not work and may never happen again. >> reporter: but they're determined to make newark a
model for success. oprah asked if zuckerberg was doing this in an effort to improve his image considering a new movie is coming out in the social network, that casts him in a negative light. his reply -- no. he says it's just a movie and his real life is nowhere near that dramatic. brian? >> rehema ellis on this big story in newark, new jersey. thanks. now to a drama we've been following in south america. there's some encouraging news to report tonight about the effort to rescue those 33 chilean miners who have now been trapped below ground for 51 days. we're also learning more about how they've been passing the time. our own natalie morales traveled to the site of the mine. she's with us from there live tonight. hey natalie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. this is a 24-7 rescue operation with drill teams working around the clock, trying to dig tunnels to the trapped miners and officials say they're on track
and making good progress for an earlier than expected rescue. nearly half mile below ground, the 33 miners are trying to get on with their subterranean existence, now in its seventh week. their lifeline till now has been a three-inch shaft bringing them delivery tubes of food, water, medicine and vitamins. they survive on a 2,500 calorie diet high in protein. to maintain some normalcy, they mimic a routine of day and night with lamps. physically, though thinner, all are reportedly in good condition. they're in good health and have no illnesses related to being under ground, says the doctor who treats them. they have been able to shower with fresh water in the mine and are even exercising with a personal trainer via a video teleconference hookup. work also keeps them busy. they've been clearing rock in shifts from the drilling site, even alerting the rescue team when their drill bits fell through this week. >> the miners have been a help
to our operation, giving us tips on what they're seeing down there versus what we're seeing on the surface. >> reporter: there have been moments of joy, celebrating birthdays, even watching soccer and movies on a projector screen. psychologists work with them daily. "some are worried about their kids, others are just more tired now," he says. "it's up and down." the miners are getting ready for the next phase for the reunions with their family members keeping vigil here and returning to life once again in the real world. "it's been emotionally draining" says lily, waiting for her husband, mario gomez. but the families say nothing can be more difficult than what the miners are going through. with each passing day, there was hope that they are one day closer to coming home. and officials now say that
rescue could happy the the first week in november. one of the other things the miners are doing to get ready here, apparently they're going to be undergoing media training to get ready for the press attention here. brian? >> our own natalie morales in chile. thank you very much for your reporting from there tonight. when our broadcast continues in a moment on this friday night, at a checkout near you, another sign of our economic times. and later, hunting for treasure in the school's trash bin and making a difference for kids and the environment along the way. difference for kids and the environment along the way. frequent heartburn? heartburn that keeps coming back? then you're ready for new zegerid otc. zegerid otc is the first 24-hour treatment ever with two active ingredients: . just one zegerid otc capsule a day can relieve your heartburn all day and all night. if you have frequent heartburn, try dual-ingredient zegerid otc. heartburn solved.
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take pictures of each other's helicopter. $33 million helicopters hovering just above the lake surface on their way home from an air show, when something went wrong, as you see one of the choppers apparently misjudged the proper hover altitude. what they didn't know, a tourist was rolling on all of it, took the videotape, posted it on youtube. that got both pilots grounded. now to the economy and a big sign of the times. consumer borrowing, buying things on credit. we learned earlier this month it's down for the 23rd month in a row. and even as interest rates have fallen nearly everywhere, credit card rates are still sky high. it's led a lot of people to believe it or not, pay cash. nbc's kristen welker has our report from glendale, california. >> oh, my gosh, the grapes are expensive. >> reporter: every cent counts when sarah and david go shopping. >> $3.54 for 18 ounces. >> reporter: the young parents are always looking for discounts
and learning to live within their means. >> we stopped using credit cards fairly recently. dave lost his job and we realized with our reduced income, we weren't sure we could pay the balance off every month. >> reporter: they could be called cautious consumers. americans who are now more frequently opting to swipe their debit cards instead of their credit card. >> if you're using your debit card, you have to think do i have the money to cover this purchase? >> reporter: according to a recent study, credit card use dropped by nearly a third in a two-year period. >> i'm paying off my credit cards, and so i don't sweat as much every month. >> reporter: financial analysts say consumer caution is paying off. credit card debt is on a downward spiral overall. dipping to its lowest level in eight years. >> what we're seeing is consumers, either by choice or force, are paying off their credit cards. >> reporter: analysts caution
some americans have less debt because they have foreclosed on their homes or have filed for bankruptcy. still, consumers are finding ways to cut back, a trend that is playing out in places like walmart, where credit card purchases now only make up about 15% of total sales, a big dip from last year. >> retailers are going to have to fight harder and they are going to have to lure those dollars that are actual hard dollars, not plastic, out of those consumers. >> reporter: a tough sell when families are holding tight. >> we want to make sure we have money for her to go to school. >> reporter: many americans now making tough choices as a matter of dollars and common sense. kristen welker, nbc news, glendale, california. when we come back here tonight, we'll remember a singer who was an early tabloid sensation. sensation. look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, expresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated.
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an american hero was laid to rest today with full military honors at arlington national cemetery. vernon baker was a recipient of the medal of honor. he joined the army when it was still segregated and served in the first all-black unit to enter come ball in world war ii. he died back on july 13th at the age of 90. there will be a change at the top at this company we learned today. jeff zucker, the ceo of nbc universal, a former executive producer of this broadcast and the "today" show announced he'll be leaving his post pending comcast assuming control of the company with regulatory approval. he's a 24-year veteran of the company, or as he put it in a note to all of us employees today, that would also be all his entire adult life. word has arrived from california that eddie fisher has died. ♪ i believe for every drop of rain that falls ♪
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mckeen t little kids are pretty routinely taught not to dig around in the trash. but now even that rule has been turned on its head at a school district in illinois where one woman is on a campaign to teach children they can help save the planet by cutting down on waste. and her mantra is, they don't need to look any further than their own trash cans in fact. our own kevin tibbles has our friday night "making a difference" report. >> reporter: kay mckeen admits it, she's a dumpster diver. >> anything that's not minerals here. >> reporter: now she wants future generations to take the plunge, too. >> we are dumper divers, miners, we've been called all kinds of things.
but we're valuing what we have on our planet. >> reporter: on this day, kay is teaching middle school students outside chicago to mine the lunch hour trash for anything that can be reused, recycled, or composted. you don't call it garbage? >> no, sir. possibilities, resources. >> reporter: kay founded school and community assistance for recycling and composting education, or s.c.a.r.c.e. taking in what people and businesses toss out and finding a new home for it. sometimes in other states, even other countries. think about it, research shows the average american throws out just under five pounds of garbage every day. so what if some of that garbage could have another life? from filing cabinets to retooled crayons to thousands of school books, new and used. in 20 years, s.c.a.r.c.e. has saved 4 million
books from american land fills. >> this is like christmas out here. >> reporter: research shows most teachers spend about $450 of their own money on supplies, possibly more this year because school budgets are down 10% to 25%. erin hit the mother lode, saving their school more than $9,000. >> without places like this, we would be teaching off of copy machines and notes, because so many of the schools are underfunded. >> if i can get a book rescued, that's our favorite. if it's a book that can help another teacher help another child, then the value of that tree has gone way up. >> reporter: or a disposable society, a warehouse filled with castaways, where the only dirty word is waste. kevin tibbles, nbc news, glenn ellen, illinois. that's our broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. my colleague, lester holt, will be here this weekend. and we want to show you what's going on outside this building because we want to remind you
starting sunday, our special series "education nation" an indepth conversation about improving education in america, begins across the networks of nbc and continues on monday when we hope to see you right back here. that means they have just a few hours left to finish all that construction out on the plaza. in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now at 6:00, a developing story as the judge clears the way for executions to resume in california. >> inside the blast zone. we get an indepth look at the clean up in san bruno as reports surface as a possible cause to the explosion. >> good evening. >> we begin in san bruno where people gathered for a