tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 10, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, surprise appearance. will two presidents do the trick in selling congress on a tax deal that the current president agreed to? justice. a long-time drama has come to an end. elizabeth smart, kidnapped from her bed. tonight, her reaction to a jury's final verdict in her case. that royal attack on prince charles and camilla. how could it have happened and where was british security? the fillings, the silver kind. are they safe or harmful? why the government is asking this question again. nixon like you have never heard him before tonight on newly released tapes.
how he spoke to his own daughter when he thought no one was listening. and our friday "making a difference" report. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. put it this way. you're president barack obama, you're fighting with congress over a tax deal, and some of your own people are defecting, so who do you call when you call out the reinforcements? the answer is, you call the last democratic president. the two men burst through the door and into the white house briefing room before cameras today. once bill clinton started talking, as one former aide put it, it was like 1995 all over again. another said it was as if clinton was president for about half hour today. we begin tonight with our chief white house correspondent chuck todd who witnessed all this in the briefing room. chuck, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. look, for most of the day today, the tax debate had been dominated by verdict's independent self-described socialist senator bernie sanders, who had been speaking on the floor of the united states senate by himself continuously since about 10:30 this morning. about 4:00 today, clearly the white house had had enough. so instead of briefing reporters about president obama's private meeting with president clinton, president obama decided to trot out president clib himself to brief reporters. it turned into a de facto ex-president conference. >> the agreement taken as a whole is, i believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs, and to minimize the chances that it will slip back. there's never a perfect bipartisan bill in the eyes of a
partisan. i also think that in general, a lot of people are giving a sigh of relief that's been some agreement on something. >> reporter: naturally, president clinton was asked to compare his situation in 1994 to what president obama faces today. >> the story line is how well we worked with the republicans and all that. you know, we played political kabuki for a year. we had two government shutdowns. we can't afford that now. i had quite a good time governing. i am happy to be here, i suppose, when the bullets that are fired are unlikely to hit me, unless they're just ricocheting. no, i'm glad to be here because i -- i think the president made a good decision. and because i want my country to do well. after the '94 election, i said the american people, in their
infinite wisdom, had put us in the same boat, so we're going to either row or sink. and i want us to row. >> reporter: president clinton held court for just over 30 minutes, talked about japan, talked about haiti. and it was vintage clinton. there was some lip biting, hand gestures, even poetic license of his own biography where he referred to himself as a depressionary kid. he was america's first baby boomer president. the basic message was this, this is a good deal on substance, he said, and he said it will just make the american public feel better that members of both parties can somehow vote for the same bill. >> two presidents in the same room and the other end a genuine mr. smith goes to washington moment on capitol hill. chuck todd witnessing all of it for us and starting us off tonight. chuck, thanks. now to other news from today. almost nine years ago, the kidnapping of 14-year-old elizabeth smart from her home in salt lake city, riveted this country.
tonight, the case is finally over. and tonight we finally get to hear her voice. our own kristen welker is at the courthouse in salt lake city tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. elizabeth smart smiled today in court when that guilty verdict was read. this is the moment she's been waiting for, for nearly nine years. >> today is a wonderful day and i'm thrilled to be here. i'm so thrilled with the verdict. >> reporter: victory for elizabeth smart. >> i hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in america, but it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened. >> reporter: after deliberating for only five hours, jurors found brian david mitchell, the man who kidnapped smart and stole her innocence, guilty. >> this is an exceptionally victorious day for us all. as mothers, women, daughters, that we can go forward and these things don't have to happen to us. >> reporter: prosecutors say the verdict is a tribute to smart
herself. the now 23-year-old took the stand and testified about her terrifying nine months in captivity when she was just 14 years old. she described a living hell, what it was like to be abducted at knifepoint, raped almost every day. >> he is a liar. he is a predator, and he is a sex offender. >> reporter: at issue for the jurors, whether mitchell was mentally stable enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. the prosecution called him a master manipulator. the defense argued he was delusional. but jurors didn't buy the insanity defense. >> when you sit for hours at a time and listen to incredibly unbelievable things that happened to a young lady like elizabeth smart, you've got to be pretty calloused to walk away without having something tug at your heart. >> reporter: while the verdict was read today, mitchell was singing hymns.
a ritual he's done every day since the trial began. after court, mitchell was led back to jail. elizabeth smart now finally free. and smart plans to travel to paris to finish a religious mission, but she will be back for the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for may. brian? >> kristen welker in salt lake for us tonight. thanks. now we head overseas to the big story there. anybody who saw the look of abject horror on the face of prince charles' wife, camilla, will not be surprised to learn there's fallout tonight over the attack on their rolls-royce as they rolled through london. british police say they will investigate how it is thousands of furious demonstrators got so close to the next king of england and his wife. stephanie gosk is live tonight in london. hey, stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. a major criminal investigation has been launched into what is being called the worst security failure in this country in a
decade. just moments before the attack, the royal couple were doing what they normally do. waving and smiling, windows open. until a violent group of protestors who, moments before smashed shop windows, surrounded the vintage rolls-royce. >> off with their heads! >> reporter: when the crowd turned, photographer matt dunham was there. dunham captured what has now become the definitive photo of the attack. >> the first thing i could see was camilla clearly terrified. >> reporter: today, charles was pinning medals on royal navy pilots, as scheduled. camilla, the future king says, is fine, and so is he. but the london police are under fire. some are calling the failure in security an embarrassment. >> the unpredictability on how they moved about the couple yesterday meant that the
protection officers were placed in a very difficult position. >> reporter: it was not an isolated act of violence. government buildings were damaged. a statue of winston churchill vandalized. some students swung from the tomb of the unknown soldier. >> what we saw on the streets of london yesterday was completely unacceptable. >> reporter: there's some concern that these scenes are signs of what's to come, as the government enacts some of the most painful budget cuts in this country's history. the anger is growing. >> i actually feel there's such a disconnect between politics and young people that it will take a generation to heal this rift. >> reporter: the fear is that it could turn into this. the poll tax riots in the early '90s. >> there is a feeling that the squeezed middle, as it's now called, are paying a for too heavy a price for what were economic and political mistakes made by governments. >> reporter: student protestors
are angry as well, over what they're calling unnecessarily harsh police tactics. but they are undeterred. there is another protest scheduled for monday, brian. >> stephanie gosk in london for us car. stephanie, thanks. another big story despite fury from china, the nobel committee honored a chinese activist with the nobel peace prize and his absence spoke louder than words. ian williams has our report from beijing. >> reporter: this year's nobel peace prize winner was celebrated with an empty chair. instead, chinese dissident liu xiaobo is in this chinese prison, serving 11 years for submersion, for promoting democracy. his wife is under house arrest in this apartment complex, silenced with dozens of associates. the crackdown has had one simple objective, to prevent anybody, his wife here or other family, friends or supporters from getting to oslo to receive the prize on his behalf.
>> the controversy surrounding this year's nobel peace prize is growing. >> reporter: the government has blocked websites, even some references this evening to empty chairs. the authorities have condemned the award and called the nobel jury anti-china clowns. though more clownish was china's alternative. the hastily confucius peace prize, it was awarded to a little girl on behalf of a former taiwanese vice president. though it turned out he knew nothing about it. which has triggered an outpouring of scorn in taiwan, including this animated satire aimed at china's heavy handedness. in spite of china's best efforts, students at liu xiaobo's old university today knew about the award,al be it warily so. >> some think it's good, but some think it's bad. >> reporter: while angry petitioners chose the day of the
nobel prize, international human rights day to protest over land grabs and official brutality, knowing the international spotlight was on beijing. "where are our human rights" they demanded. the police soon providing an answer. the empty chair provides another. ian williams, nbc news, beijing. in this country, the faa is acknowledging it's lost track of key information needed to identify about a third of the private aircraft in this country. there are worries inside the agency that the mess of paperwork for more than 100,000 planes could lead to aircraft being used perhaps by terrorists or drug traffickers. officials are ordering private plane owners to reregister, while their trade association reminded everyone today that at least all pilots are licensed and registered. when our broadcast continues on a friday night, remember the safety questions a while back about the fillings most of us have?
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but many people believe the mercury can lead to serious health problems. our own tom costello has the latest on this car. >> reporter: at first, doctors thought she might have lupus or ms. her face was drooping, double vision, was exhausted and losing her balance. after a doctor suspected acute mercury toxicity, her dentist removed all 12 mercury fillings. slowly her symptoms began to disappear. >> there is absolutely no question i was mercury poisoned. i had never had those symptoms before in my life. >> reporter: mercury is a known neurotoxin linked to brain, liver and kidney damage and some researchers believe alzheimer's. yet it's a component in silver amalgam fillings since before the civil war. today, it remains a durable, affordable alternative to more expensive fillings. in 2008, the fda warned pregnant women and children to avoid exposure to amalgam. last year it offered a new mixed
message. raising the risk from low to moderate, but stating the levels released by dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients. now the fda is asking an outside panel to assess how much mercury dental patients are exposed to now and how much exposure is acceptable. the american dental association insists mercury amalgam fillings are safe. >> it's effective in being placed in areas difficult to keep clean in back teeth that have to withstand a lot of force and wear. >> reporter: the cdc and american cancer society have all said amalgam fillings appear to be safe. >> this is an amalgam filling right here. >> reporter: in connecticut, dr. mark briner is taking mercury out of his patient's mouths. >> for over 30 years i've been treating patients. we remove their fillings and many, many symptoms disappear. >> reporter: now the fda will
again look at the hard science and safety of amalgam. tom costello, nbc news, washington. when we come back here tonight, richard nixon's fascinating and once private father-daughter phone call. [ coughing ] [ tea kettle whistle ] [ water pouring ] [ punches ] [ male announcer ] beat your worst flu symptoms. new theraflu max d contains the most powerful medicine allowable without a prescription to fight your worst flu symptoms. theraflu max d. serious power. take the power of theraflu in warming caplets or warming syrup.
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>> a new music machine. just a slice of life in the nixon white house. you may be surprised to learn, as we were, julie nixon was 24 and married at the time of that telephone call. if you would like to hear more of these newly released conversations, follow the link on our website, nightly.msnbc.com. when we come back here tonight, lots of helping hands making a difference close to home. and the bourgeoi-sie ♪ ♪ but i really love my bank ♪ i hate-- didn't quite catch that last bit. i said i really love my bank.
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finally tonight, a man on a mission to make a difference for the less fortunate where he lives. people who need work done around the house but can't do it, can't afford it. it was a "nightly news" viewer who brought this story to our attention. we hear about it tonight from nbc's peter alexander in brookfield, connecticut. >> reporter: on a saturday morning as most people in this
quiet community are still rustling awake, pete brady, proudly known around here as the handy dandy handy man, is greeting a swelling crowd of volunteers. >> we will, we will, we will rake you! >> reporter: more than 1,100 people, one shared mission. raking leaves for neighbors who can't do it themselves. >> people just want to help other people. >> reporter: shortly before retiring a decade ago, brady came up with the idea of the annual rake and bake. his clients include 70-year-old ann, who brady met through church. if not for pete brady and his friends, what would your yard look like? >> a mess. >> reporter: for the volunteers, it's become a beloved tradition. >> we've got christmas, easter and rake and bake. >> reporter: they're all holidays in your family? >> that's right. >> reporter: the brookfield high school bobcats call it team building. >> it's like a family, so we decided we would help everyone out. >> reporter: they all agree pete brady's project strengthens
their community. >> everybody looks out for each other. >> reporter: as it turns out, he would be the first to tell you he's not all that handy at all. but what he is is a good organizer. and he's been bringing people together for the last 13 years. and it's not just raking. brady's core of volunteers does carpentry. electrical work. anything the 500 plus families they've helped might need. >> to know that there's someone there like him in his organization to help you out, it gives you hope, it gives you faith. >> reporter: as pete brady as learned -- >> i started with ten volunteers and here we are with over a thousand. it's amazing. >> reporter: sometimes the biggest rewards come from offering a simple chore. peter alexander, nbc news, brookfield, connecticut. there you go. that's our broadcast for this friday night and this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with
you this weekend. we hope to see you right back here on monday. in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com . a week long cross-country search for a missing 12-year-old girl ends in the bay area tonight. good evening, everyone. i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm tom sinkovitz. police say the girl disappeared from her roanoke, virginia home last week the tonight britney may smith is safe here in the