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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 10, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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on ourbroadcast here tonight, the nominee, president obama's choice for the supreme court. deep trouble in the gulf as the latest attempt to stop the oil leak fails. now what? the fight of her life. a doctor battles a killer that runs in the family and finally there is a ray of hope. legendary lena. lena horne leaves the stage after a life that truly made a difference. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. she was the first woman to serve as dean of harvard law school and first woman solicitor
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general. the governor's lawyer at the supreme court. if president obama has her way she will be the fourth woman in u.s. history to take a seat on the supreme court. she is elena kagan. she is from new york. while she has never been a judge, she has that in common with a host of justices on the court through history. today the president praised her legal minute. we wait to see what a tough fight this will be. we begin with pete williams at the supreme court. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, the president called her a woman of many firsts. one thing she's never been is a judge. that lack of experience is already becoming an issue even though roughly 1/3 of supreme court justices were not judges when they got here either. mr. obama called elena kagan someone who can bring people together. >> elena is respected and admired not for her intellect and record of achievement, but
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her temperment, her openness to a broad array of viewpoints. >> my parents lives and their memory reminds me every day of the impact public service can have. i pray every day that i live up to the example they set. >> reporter: judging from her high school yearbook, she hads yield a gavel. >> she would speak up and talk to the teachers as if she was much older. she knew far more history and news events that the rest of us had not started paying attention to. >> reporter: she clerked for thurgood marshall. she taught law at the university of chicago where she met a young barack obama, a part time faculty member. she served president clint and later became the first woman dean of harvard law.
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she diversified the faculty. her tenure included controversy. she enforced a long standing anti-discrimination policy, blocking military recruiters because of the pentagon's ban of gays in the military. last year president obama appointed her solicitor general, responsible for arguing the government's opinions before the court. >> i have three very quick points to make. >> reporter: some republicans say her lack of experience as a judge clouds her nomination. >> the life time position on the supreme court does not lend itself to on-the-job training. >> reporter: some senate democrats consider her background a plus. >> i worry when you are in a judicial monastery you don't have the real world experience you might have otherwise. she brings a breadth of experience. >> reporter: a supreme court expert says her lack of experience as a judge leaves a scant paper trail. >> no track record when it comes
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to abortion, affirmative action, a lot of hot button issues that could give rise to a huge nomination fight. >> reporter: accomplished poker player, opera lover, given the nickname justice marshall gave to her, she is 5'3". >> pete williams at the supreme court. more on this choice from our nbc political director chuck todd. simple question, why kagan? >> reporter: well, i'll give you one word. the word comfortable. for the president she was the comfortable choice among the other folks he was interviewing. on the professional front her resume is impeccable. the most important part of recent is her time as solicitor general. when you talk to folks here they admit it has been a yearlong job interview process and the president has been impressed
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with her time as solicitor general, with the way she has argued the government's case in front of the supreme court. the tipping point for him, i'm told, had to do with the fact he believes she will bring intellectual energy to the supreme court in combating the roberts, alito, scalia wing and bring more energy compared to the other folks he was talking about. on the political front, the reason she is the comfortable choice, she has been through a confirmation process as solicitor general. she met a lot of republicans. she has already gotten republican votes. >> chuck todd at the white house. we'll see how big a fight this is. kagan's nomination comes at a time of real political turmoil in this country. there is a wave sweeping across the land, the kind of wave that is bad news for incumbents. a lot of them are on the endangered list and in some cases you can't be conservative enough for voters. kelly o'donnell with us from
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capitol hill in washington with more on this tonight. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. we've got new evidence of just how real and powerful the feeling among voters is, to throw them all out. take arlen specter in pennsylvania, he is in trouble. a republican who has served here for 18 years lost his job this weekend. at a state party convention -- >> i'd like to introduce to you a fighter. >> reporter: utah republicans did something not seen in 70 years. they fired a republican senator. robert bennett failed to win his party's nomination for a fourth term. >> the political atmosphere obviously has been toxic and it's very clear that some of the votes that i have cast have added to the toxic environment. >> reporter: the first incumbent knocked out. bennett was aggressively targeted by the tea party and conservative groups. >> he voted to bail out wall
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street. >> for the moment the anger is directed at incumbents in both parties. >> reporter: government spending, health care reform and bailouts, in eight days pennsylvania voters decide. five-term senator arlen specter who switched parties last year convinced he could not win the republican party has seen a double-digit lead shrink. >> he is an underdog to win the democratic primary. this race has turned on a dime with one add, with sestak reminding voters that arlen specter was a republican. >> i can count on this man. >> reporter: first term congressman joe sestak hit specter hard. >> arlen specter switched parties to save one job, his, not yours. >> reporter: in arkansas early voting is under way for one of the most watched races in the country. senator blanch lincoln is trying
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to hold on against a fellow democrat. incumbents everywhere are nervous. in arkansas and pennsylvania are considered nationalized, big implications, among several going to the polls on may 18th. brian, they are calling that super tuesday. >> kelly o'donnell on the hill. we turn to the economy. the financial markets. last night europe decided to bail itself out promising $1 trillion to countries like greece who are drowning in greece. that sent stock markets around the world including our soaring. the dow rocketed more than 400 points at the opening bell, pretty much stayed there, closing up 405. maria bartiromo is at the nyse. the last time we spoke was the day of the thousand-point dive. is it better? >> reporter: it certainly felt better. it was another wild one.
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this time the dow jones industrial average saw its best gain in more than a year. investors reacted to the big bailout package coming out of europe as officials got together with the international monetary fund and put the $1 trillion fund together to make sure the debt crisis in europe stays contained. there is debate because the money is on the table but not actually delivered to the heavily debted nations until they make real reform, structural changes to their economy and cut spending. investors saw this as a commitment and bought stocks in a big way. >> maria bartiromo, thanks. we have an update on iraq where the american presence is now winding down. but as we saw dramatically today the violence isn't. quite the opposite. some two dozen attacks across that country left more than 90 people dead, hundreds more injured. coordinated attacks by suicide car bombers targeted workers at
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a textile plant. the emergency workers who showed up and came to their aid were targeted. it was the bloodiest day so far all year. we have the latest on the mess in the gulf where oil has been spewing into the water uncontrolled for just about three weeks now. here is a look at the slick over the past 48 hours. it is getting bigger, obviously and moving slightly. hopes of containing it any time soon were dashed over the weekend when the latest attempt failed. bad news for the region. bad news for bp, the oil company responsible. our chief environmental affairs correspondent ann thompson remains in venice, louisiana. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. three top louisiana state officials are demanding what bp reveal what is in the chemical dispersants as the fight to stop the crude becomes more desperate. from alabama's white sandy beaches to the mississippi
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delta, the impact of the oil spill grows. while the odds shrink bp can find a way to stop the leak. >> clearly, there is no substitute other than the relief well. >> reporter: with the containment dome made useless, bp will use the top hat. four feet wide, five feet tall, weighing two tons. >> this dome is built such we can hopefully exclude much of the water that caused the difficulty with the hydrates. >> reporter: the ongoing spill is the latest attempt bp as environmentally aware. the british petroleum became just bp. >> bp is a high ranked company when it comes to environmental and social metrics. however, when one looks in islation at health and safety, bp is a low ranked company.
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>> reporter: 15 workers perished at texas city oil refinery. bp paid $370 million in fines. in 2006 a bp pipeline ruptured spilling 212,000 gallons of crude on alaska's north slope. last october osha hit bp with a record $87 million fine for failing to correct problems at the texas city refinery. and they were slapped with $3 million fines for willful safety violations in toledo, ohio. now venice, louisiana, is at an eerie stand still. usually buzzing with people fishing for fun and profit, it is increasingly empty. now tomorrow the heads of bp, the oil rig owner transocean and halliburton responsible for casing the well before it went into production head to capitol
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hill. advance copies of their testimony suggest each man will say that his company was not responsible for this horrific accident. brian? >> ann thompson, southern louisiana for us tonight, thanks. as this oil slick grows by the day and when we are getting close to running out of ways to describing its size, the folks at google maps have found a way to show how big it is. superimposing the slick on several metro areas. here is the new york city region. you can plug in your own city. we linked to this on our website, when we continue on a monday night, how a woman puzzled by her own mother's illness is helping unlock the mystery of a terrible disease. later, remembering the great lena horne, talented, beautiful, principled, determined to take a stand and make a difference.
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how would anyone react when a loved one is diagnosed with a devastating incurable disease? for one woman helping unlock the mystery of the genetic condition that took her mother's life became her life's calling. that work is paying off that could help thousands of families facing the same challenge. our report tonight from our chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> reporter: dr. nancy wexler has had an obsession for 40 years, huntington's disease, a horrible and inherited brain disorder that destroyed the mind and the body. in 1968 her mother was diagnosed meaning she and her sister alice have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. her father milton, a psychoanalyst started a foundation to try to find a
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cure. now good news from foundation supported researcher dr. william yang at ucla. >> as far as we can tell they are free of. >> reporter: the mouse with huntington's are not able to hold on to wheel and are afraid to come out of the dark. yang discovered how to shut down the disease so the huntington is cured and the mice behaved normally. >> for me this is ecstacy because it means we have a chance to make a big difference. >> reporter: it can be a long journey from results in mice to successful treatment in humans. it has taken dr. wexler to venezuela to a poor village where many families have huntington's. she has grown close to the villagers. >> the families are very loving. they are devastatingly poor but they have a sense that science
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is going to bring the answer. >> reporter: with blood samples from the families dr. wexler and a team of scientists isolated the gene and learned how it destroys the brain. >> it dramatically cures the mice and gives us a lead about new therapy. so that is fantastic. it is like a one-two punch. >> reporter: not a big enough punch to treat the disease yet but a major step closer as the journey continues. robert bazell, nbc news, los angeles. when we come back here tonight, a lesson from the master. betty white this weekend showed everybody how it's done. transitions lenses adapt to changing light to help you stay comfortable and in the zone... in all light conditions. both on...and off the course. kenny perry and trevor immelman have made transitions part of their game. ask your eyecare professional today which transitions lenses are right
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astrazeneca may be able to help. barbara walters announced she will be off the air and out of sight as she goes for heart surgery. she is having a valve replaced. she is 80 and warns everyone don't confuse this with retirement but adds she is looking for a brief vacation. it happened again. a perfect game in baseball. the 19th in the sport. dallas braden did it against tampa bay. 27 up, 27 down. he lacks an overall winning record. he was known lately for criticizing a-rod for walking over his pitching mound. as one writer put it today dallas braden came out of the blue and into perfection. afterwards he had a hug for his
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grandmother who raised him after the death of his mother. the pitcher who took the mound for the houston astros aaa affiliate team was introduced as rojo johnson, reemerging into baseball after serving jail time for the illegal sale of iguanas. he cracked open a beer, threw wild, got into a spot with the batter. we learned it was will ferrell with a stick-on mustache which explains everything. what a performance by betty white this weekend on "snl" a tour deforce at 88 1/2. the show posted best overnight ratings in 18 months. st of the sketches were too blue to repeat in the dinner hour. her monologue was not, she credited facebook for the national campaign to get her to host. >> when i first heard about the campaign to get me to host
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"saturday night live" i didn't know what facebook was, and now i do know what it is, i have to say it sounds like a huge waste of time. >> that was 11:30 eastern time saturday night and betty white was just getting started. according to witnesses at a certain manhattan watering hole she was partying with the cast until 3:00 a.m., plenty of time to make her 6:30 a.m. flight to l.a. sunday morning and that's the way you do it. back in a moment with memories of a legend and a life spent making a difference. ♪ stormy weather no. so, doc, i've got this friend... [ male announcer ] talking to your doctor about erectile dysfunction isn't easy. actually, doc, there is something i want to talk to you about. [ male announcer ] but it's definitely a conversation worth having. twenty million men have had their viagra talk. when you're ready for yours, visit
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defend what's yours. tonight the president of the united states called lena horne one of the most cherished performers in the united states. the great lena horne has died at age 92. she entertained generations of americans after overcoming rampant bigotry and making a difference for all those who follow. a look back at her life from rehema ellis. ♪ there's no sun up in the sky stormy weather ♪
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>> reporter: "stormy weather" was her signature song and she kicked up a storm as a performer and civil rights activist. born in brooklyn in 1917, lena horne took the stage at the famed together con club in h harlem at 16. nine years later she eped break the stereotype of casts black actresses as maids. >> she would sing a song or two and disappear. the studio could cut those scenes out if they felt audiences in the south might object to that. >> reporter: a beloved heroine in the african-american community she stood up for black soldiers in world war ii after they were forced to send behind german pows. she sued restaurants and
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theaters and in 1963 she marched on washington. >> racism kept me running to the back door when i could have come in the front. >> reporter: she enjoyed a resurgence on broadway that earned her a grammy and tony. with appearances on st sesame street," "the whiz" and "the cosby show." lena horne who stood alone in the spotlight but shared her stage and success with generations. reheema ellis, nbc news. >> that is our broadcast for this monday night. thank you for being with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac --
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