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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  October 12, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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stamp. nbc knightly news is next. more local news at 6:00. hope to see you then. on this saturday night, super cyclone. the potentially catastrophic storm that's coming ashore threatening 12 million living in its path as powerful as hurricane katrina and twice as wide as superstorm sandy. missed opportunity to end the government shutdown and avoid default. hopes were high this was the day they'd get it done. so what went wrong? and what will it take to make a deal before we bump into the debt ceiling next thursday? hidden danger. the deadly bacteria found in salt water that's killed ten people this year. the real captain phillips. what he thinks of a new movie version of his harrowing capture and rescue at sea. and a special breed. dogs trained to sniff out illnesses and save lives.
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good evening. we may be witnessing a humanitarian disaster in the making as a massive cyclone as powerful and broad as hurricane katrina has come ashore on india's densely populated coast. on the radar, it's a swirling mass of bright colors. its footprint roughly the size of france is clearly visible from space. but on the ground, the storm is whipping wind gusts of up to 150 miles per hour, swamping low-lying villages and driving a towering storm surge well inland from the bay of bengal. and we are already getting reports of the first deaths. nbc's keir simmons is monitoring it. >> reporter: shivering, praying for protection, children among the 12 million facing this
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monster cyclone as it made landfall just hours ago. violent seas and winds gusting up to 150 miles per hour are battering the eastern coast of india, expected to bring with it a devastating storm surge of up to 20 feet. thatched homes exposed and vulnerable in low-lying ground, all relatives back home in the states can do is pray. >> my hometown is also on the path. >> reporter: roads flooded, trees downed. 800,000 residents were evacuating the area as the cyclone swept across the bay of bengal, people fleeing this force of nature. >> the cloud pattern associated with cyclone phailin extended over many hundreds of miles like the distance between new york and chicago, about 750 miles. >> reporter: residents race to fill food bags before the storm. >> we expect a massive storm surge along the coast. anything that was along that
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eastern indian coast where the core of phailin came ashore is no doubt gone tonight. >> reporter: fishermen faced crashing waves. others were stranded at sea. a rescue operation halted by worsening conditions. 14 years ago in 1999, this same area was hit by a strong cyclone, killing 10,000 people. >> this area of the tropics actually is capable of supporting some of the strongest storms on the planet based on the water temperatures and the atmospheric conditions around it. >> reporter: officials say india is better prepared. already a disaster operation has been launched. the people are hoping they are right. but it will be hours before we know the damage done and lives lost. keir simmons, nbc news. >> what can we expect from this cyclone. kim cunningham joins us from weather channel headquarters. >> thank you, lester. when it makes landfall, surge is
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really no longer a threat. so now the threat is going to be the heavy rain with this and still some very strong winds. here on satellite, we're still showing a pretty massive cyclone. it's actually been downgraded to a cyclonic storm versus a very severe one. moving inland. we're losing a lot of the reds right there in the middle. that means this thing is beginning to weaken a little bit. but it was maybe a cat 3 at landfall, winds of 120 to 130 miles per hour. it's going to take a while for it to wind down. there's still the threat of wind damage with this as it moves northwesternward slowly. 12 to 15 inches of rain possible. and flooding possible in the himalayas. for a while today, things seemed to be moving towards a resolution. but it was fool's gold. and so tonight congress and the white house are once again each looking for a way out of this mess before the country bumps up against the debt ceiling next thursday. we have full coverage tonight.
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and we begin with nbc's kristen welker at the white house. kristen? >> reporter: lester, good evening. president obama huddled with senate democrats here at the white house for more than an hour late this afternoon but still no deal. polls show a majority of americans blame republicans for the shutdown, giving democrats the upper hand. still, the public's patience with all of washington is running out. with senate leaders now heading the effort to fix washington stalemate, top democrats were called to the white house late today to update president obama. majority leader harry reid expressing measured optimism about his discussions with republican mitch mcconnell. >> the conversations were extremely cordial but very preliminary, of course. nothing conclusive. >> reporter: this after a flurry of activity on capitol hill. this morning, house speaker john boehner told the gop conference the president had rejected his latest offer. >> we went to negotiate and he took no offer. >> reporter: shifting the focus to the senate where moderate
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republican susan collins' plan fell flat after democrats complained it would only reopen the government through march, too short, some say, with no deal in sight, the partisan bickering continued. >> the president has rejected every offer we've made. so we're going to wait to see what the senate comes up with. >> there is a real question as to if a small group of republicans in the house understand how high this cliff is and how close we are to it. >> reporter: and while some national sites such as the grand canyon, mt. rushmore and the statue of liberty are reopening this weekend, thanks to state and private funding, many americans are hurting, like this kansas business owner. >> it really is hurting small business and costing us an enormous amount of money. >> reporter: economists warn it could get far worse if lawmakers fail to extend the country's borrowing limit known as the debt ceiling which expires this coming thursday. if that happens, the nation will default on its loans.
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>> it will be very hairy next week if we don't have a deal over the weekend or some sense that a deal a coming very quickly. markets are very fickle things. >> reporter: democrats in the white house say any deal has to increase the debt limit and reopen the government. but republicans say they want some concessions, like spending cuts. >> kristen welker from the white house. to the other end of pennsylvania avenue, nbc's kelly o'donnell joins us from capitol hill. any optimism there? >> reporter: signs of it. there are some things to watch. first, where the action is. and it is not in the gop-run house. senators tell me they will keep talking tomorrow and hope maybe they can come together by monday or tuesday. if they get a deal that gets big support from both parties, that could be a game changer. how much money the government spends on everything is a major sticking point. but the health care law, obama care, is not a part of these conversations anymore. senators tell me they think if they can agree, that would put
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big pressure on house speaker john boehner and house republicans to do something before that next crisis point, which comes thursday, which is when the government borrowing authority runs out. one more note, the name-calling was toned down today. and that is critical for these conversations. lester? >> kelly, thanks. the effort to end the government shutdown and avoid a default is going to be the focus of "meet the press" tomorrow. among david gregory's guests, senate democratic whip dick durbin and republican senator rob portman. a glitch today involving food stamp debit style cards is being blamed on a computer system failure and not the government shutdown. a spokeswoman for xerox said it was affecting people in 17 states. the problem forced many shoppers to abandon groceries at the check out counters because their cards wouldn't work. now to new mexico where
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investigators issued an amber alert as they try to figure out what happened to a group of nine boys who went missing from a ranch for at-risk youth. some of the boys are now back in the custody of their parents. but investigators are still looking for others and a long history of abuse allegations now has a lot of people asking questions about just what happened at that ranch located in southwestern new mexico. nbc's kristen dahlgren has our report. >> reporter: in the remote scrub of new mexico's wilderness, investigators found tierra blanca ranch totally vacant friday. >> when you show up to the place and everybody's gone, it's a huge concern to us. >> reporter: authorities issued an am beber alert for nine boys. an air and ground search of the 30,000-acre ranch began. the last person seen with the boys, scott chandler, was also missing. on friday, authorities were attempting to serve a search
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warrant and court order to send the boys back to their parents after dozens of police reports detailing years of abuse accusations by boys at the ranch. like ryan morgan who was too emotional to tell the story of his alleged beating. so his friend did. >> knuckling him right in the forehead repetitively. it went on for a couple of hours. >> reporter: and barbara holler who sent her son there for treatment. >> their concept of counseling at the ranch is to make them work. that was it. >> reporter: chandler was recently the focus of an extensive investigation by nbc affiliate kob. >> they were tortured, beat, shackled, deprived of food, threatened that they would be castrated if they didn't complete the work they were assigned to do. >> reporter: chandler adamantly denied the charges. >> it's all blown out of proportion. >> reporter: two of the missing boys have been returned to their families.
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chandler's announced he is suing new mexico's child services department to try to halt its interference. but the investigation continues. authorities faced now with the most immediate question, where are the still-missing youth and are they okay? kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles. there is serious concern in florida and the gulf coast about a deadly bacteria found in warm salt water. officials say it has killed ten people this year and infected more than 20 others. we get more from nbc's mark potter. >> reporter: henry used to love to fish and wade for crabs and was doing just that last month in florida. but after he got home, his wife, patty, saw something wrong. >> during the night, he woke up, there was a small abrasion on his ankle. we thought it was a spider bite. >> reporter: by morning, he was in terrible pain and was rushed to the hospital as the infection
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spread. >> it just ravaged his body so fast. >> reporter: two days later, he died. the victim of a flesh-eating bacter bacteria, commonly found in warm salt water. doctors say there are two ways to be infected by it. >> one is from an open sore on the body. typically the legs where you walk into the warm, salty water, bay water or in the gulf. >> reporter: infection can also happen by eating tainted uncooked shellfish, especially oysters. so far this year, 32 known infections in florida and ten deaths. last year, nine florida deaths. the year before, 13. the cases of infection this year were reported in 22 florida counties. the deaths occurred in nine of those counties. but the centers for disease control says the threat extends from florida all along the gulf coast to texas. doctors say this bacteria can be especially dangerous for people with already compromised immune
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systems. but for most people, there's little to worry about. experts caution swimmers and fishermen with cuts or sores to stay out of the water and urge people, especially those who are already unhealthy, to took their shellfish to avoid this warm water threat. mark potter, nbc news, miami. when "nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, new questions being raised in the mysterious death of a georgia teenager found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his high school gym. and later, what the real captain phillips thinks of the new film depicting his terror on the high seas.
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kendrick johnson was only 17 years old when he died in january. his body was found inrolled up in a gym mat at his high school in georgia. the sheriff's office said it was a freak accident. the boy's parents say it was murder. tonight there are calls for action. gabe gutierrez reports. >> reporter: whether this school gym in georgia is a crime scene depends on who you ask. it's where 17-year-old kendrick johnson, a three-sport athlete, was found dead in january. >> every parent deserves to know what happened to their child. >> reporter: jacquelyn and kenneth johnson believe their son was murdered by a group of students, then stuffed in this rolled-up wrestling mat. >> why did this happen to kendrick at school? why? >> reporter: but lowndes county
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sheriff's deputies and the georgia bureau of investigation say he died in a tragic accident. that he fell head first into the upright mat reaching for a shoe, got trapped and couldn't breathe. >> reporter: based on the information we know now, the autopsy findings, our investigative findings, our case is closed. >> reporter: the official autopsy did rule the death an accident. but five months later, johnson's family exhumed his body. a second autopsy by a private pathologist determined his death was due to blunt force trauma to his right neck. >> we found the trauma in an area that was not previously looked at in the first autopsy. >> reporter: in an odd twist dr. bill anderson discovered johnson's organs were missing and his body was filled with newspapers. a spokesperson for the georgia bureau of investigation said the agency stands by its team of medical examiners 100%. but other experts wonder whether the initial scene could have been more thoroughly investigated. >> i think the case has to be reopened.
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there are too many questions being raised. >> reporter: this week on what would have been johnson's 18 persistent birthday, his parents hired the same civil rights attorney who represented the family of trayvon martin. >> these parents sent their child to school with his book bag and he was returned to them in a body bag. >> reporter: they are pushing for the school to release more images from gym surveillance cameras. so far the only angle made public doesn't show how johnson ended up in the mat leaving the family with more questions. >> we're going to fight to the end. until we get justice for kendrick. >> reporter: for many, a death so strange it's proving hard to let go. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, georgia. coming up next here tonight, spectacular pictures of what the astronauts witnessed from a window of the international space station.
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♪ a sure sign of the season outside our nbc news headquarters here in new york, the rockefeller center ice skating rink opened today with temperatures around 70 degrees. skaters took to the rink regardless perhaps wondering if the ice would melt below their feet. a look at some out-of-this world pictures from the international space station. the astronauts saw a strange and unexpected view out their windows. american astronaut mike hopkins tweeted, saw something launch into space today. not sure what it was. but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing. boy, is he right. turns out, it was a plume from a russian military missile test. new at the movies this weekend, "captain phillips" tells the story of an american cargo ship captain taken hostage
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by somali pirates before being rescued by navy s.e.a.l.s. played in the movie by tom hanks, the film's release has put the real-life captain back in the spotlight. he sat down with janet shamlian. >> an american ship captain remains a hostage to pirates -- >> reporter: it was a drama that played out on the high seas over five days in 2009. >> we are obviously looking at our options. but foremost in our minds is the safety of the captain. >> reporter: somali pirates stormed toward the "maersk alabama" then kidnapped captain richard phillips. fleeing in a lifeboat before a daring rescue by navy s.e.a.l.s. three of the four kidnappers were killed. >> the navy is not going to let you win. they can't let you win. >> reporter: with tom hanks in the title role, the real captain richard phillips is now reliving his story. >> i thought it was a very good portrayal of the tenseness and
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the stress that was going on, especially on the ship. if you look in tom hanks' eyes, you can see the fear which was definitely there with me. >> look at me. >> sure. >> look at me. >> sure. >> i'm the captain now. >> reporter: phillips says this scene of the pirates taking control hit almost too close to home. >> it was actually more intense than the movie plays out, i think. >> reporter: some crew members say phillips was no hero claiming in lawsuit he endangered their lives by ignoring warnings to keep at least 600 miles off the coast of somalia. the ship was 200 miles from the coast when attacked. the captain said they were always sailing in dangerous waters. >> for the four-plus years i was in that area, i'd always told my crew, it's a matter of when, not if. >> reporter: today phillips is still a merchant marine. back to his routine of three months at sea, three months at home. >> i thought we had a great life before all this happened. we made the decision, that's the life we wanted and that's the life we're more or less going to keep.
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i don't feel it has changed my life that much. i don't think it has changed me that much. >> four pirates on board. >> reporter: a captain's story of survival from the headlines to hollywood. janet shamlian, nbc news, new york. still ahead, dogs with an extraordinary sense -- trained to detect people's illnesses and alert before trouble strikes.
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finally tonight we all know dogs can be trained to do amazing things, but playing doctor?
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nbc's jill rappaport now with the story of medical alert dogs and how they're saving lives. >> reporter: k.k. and her dog j.j. are inseparable, but j.j. is more than just a pet. >> good girl. kick! >> reporter: she's trained to be on alert and protect k.k. the 7-year-old has a rare disease called mastocytosis a condition that causes dizziness, drop in blood pressure and a myriad of other symptoms that mimic a severe allergic reaction. >> when k.k. starts to have a reaction j.j. smells the chemical change in her body and will alert us. >> reporter: j.j. never leaves k.k.'s side, even when she goes to school. >> j.j. gives us a freedom, one extra thing looking after k.k. and her senses are well beyond what we're capable of. >> reporter: medical alert or service dogs are used to detect everything from cancer to diabetes. like with k.k.'s friend diane.
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>> she lets me know by touching my leg with her nose if my blood sugar is too low or if it's getting too high. >> you have animals that can sense things from so far away that we have no idea they are going on. >> reporter: the canine sense goes far beyond a human's reach. this fur angel saved your life. >> absolutely. i had a seizure. >> reporter: curtis and his partner jim were home when one of their rescue dogs alerted jim that something was wrong. >> she grabbed my pant leg, ripped my pants, pulled me out of the chair. i get back to the bedroom. she's up on the bed guarding him. he's having a seizure. >> i never had a seizure in my life. never had warning signs. >> reporter: curtis was diagnosed with brain cancer. he's now in remission and says isabelle is still watching out for him. >> she's a good watch dog. untrained but meant to be in our lives. >> reporter: true companions on
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alert and saving lives across the country. >> she truly is k.k.'s guardian angel at all times. she knows her job. >> reporter: jill rappaport, nbc news. that's "nbc nightly news." i'm lester holt from new york. see you tomorrow on "today" and right back here tomorrow evening. good night. right now at 6:00 the clock is ticking toward another b.a.r.t. strike. just 30 hours until the deadline and still no deal. i'm terry mcsweeney. they're back at the bargaining
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table tonight. b.a.r.t. and the union trying to eke out a new contract to avert a strike that could kriep l the morning monday commute. chase cain joins us now with the latest. >> reporter: that is the good news that they are meeting in person face to face. the executive director of b.a.r.t. with the representatives of the union. they are inside and talking. of course that is getting everyone's hopes up that they may hack chully find an agreement that they may avoid a strike because we are now inside that 30-hour mark before the sunday at midnight deadline. and of course bay area b.a.r.t. riders anxious aboutfacing a strike come monday morning. they will have 130 buses at the station to shuttle people into thety. b.a.r.t. leaders tell us that they do not expect managers to operate any of the trains unless there is a strike and unless that strike goes for some time. most of the day the


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