tonight on "nightline," state of emergency. deadly, unexpected tornadoes hit the east coast, downing trees, flipping cars. with severe storm warnings right across the region. will the catastrophic weather ever let up? wiener-gate. he's one of the democrats rising young stars, but now congressman anthony weiner has spent the day explaining how one very lewd picture ended up posted to his twitter account. >> i'm reluctant to say anything about this. >> is it his or hackers? abc's jonthan karl puts him on the spot. cancer calling? so, do they cause cancer or don't they? the controversy over cell phones being put on an official list of possible carcinogens heats up.
does that mean it's time to hang up? we look at the research behind the headlines. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," june 1st, 2011. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. well, today marks the start of the atlantic hurricane season. but it was tornadoes, not hurricanes, that wreaked havoc in massachusetts tonight. at least two confirmed tornadoes touched down there, with four reported deaths so far. the first fatal tornado in that state in 16 years. it didn't look like a massachusetts storm. it looked like a prairie twister, except this one was blowing right up the connecticut river. one of at least two tornadoes spotted in western massachusetts this evening, followed the river right into the town of west springfield, carrying with it a debris field hundreds of feet high and turning the water into
a giant swirling caldron. at least four were reported killed in the storms. governor deval patrick appeared tonight to declare a state of emergency. >> we'll do whatever we have to do to meet the needs of people, to protect public safety and to help people get back on their feet. >> reporter: the governor said about 1,000 national guard troops are being deployed to help with search and rescue and debris removal. 19 communities were affected. fema was on the ground in west springfield, where some roofs were completely torn off and other buildings reduced to piles of bricks. boston, meanwhile, found itself in the middle of a lightning storm. and abc's sharyn alfonsi has arrived in springfield. she joins us now. sharyn, what is the scene there tonight? what have you learned? >> reporter: terry, just to give you an idea of what this tornado did, this is concrete cinder blocks, destroyed this building.
this was an auto body shop. as you can see, there's not a whole lot left of it. the amazing thing is, there were people inside when the tornado struck. they said they saw it coming through town. they took cover, everybody inside okay. and there are scenes like this all through town. we made our way through town, we could see all kinds of downed trees. we you a apartment buildings with the sides ripped off with the couch and the coffee table still in perfect place. it's really quite a scene. and right now the real focus is getting emergency vehicles through these towns to do any kind of search and rescue so they can get an idea how big this tornado was and how many more victims may or may not be out here. that's what they're trying to assess. it's an eerie feeling here tonight, terry, because all you can hear are alarms going off and people walking down the streets, asking, are you okay, is everybody okay? >> and sharyn, you're in western massachusetts. is that unprecedented for that
area? >> reporter: well, it's unusual, but it has happened before. in 1953, there was a giant tornado that came through worchester. everybody is still talking about that today, saying, it's amazing, based on what they saw, the size of this tornado coming down. that more people weren't injured and that's what they're thinking about tonight. >> all right, sharyn alfonsi, thank you so much. and there will be much more on the tornado tomorrow on "good morning america." turning the page now to the internet. which has revolutionized politics. and it every once in awhile leaves a politician dearly wishing they hadn't posted that photo or sent that e-mail. well, it's unclear what role congressman anthony weiner played in the scandal that surrounds him. what is clear is that it's not very safe for c-span. here's jonathan karl. >> reporter: this is the picture that started the controversy. tweeted from the account of one
of congress's brightest democratic stars and directed to the twitter name of this 21-year-old college student. but it was the congressman's response that created the fire storm. >> i am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer. >> answer the question. was it from you or not? >> sir. permit me -- do you guys want me to finish my answer? you do the questions, i do the answers and this jack ass interrupts me? >> reporter: at the end of that disaster, he insisted he wasn't going to talk about it anymore. but today, with a growing media circus outside his office, congressman weiner, a little calmer, decided to talk some more. this whole thing would go away if you answer a couple of basic questions. did you send the tweet, is that a photograph of you and why not call for an investigation? >> the answer is, i did not send that tweet. my system was hacked. i was pranked. it was a fairly common one, people make fun of my name all the name. when you are named weiner, you
kind of get that. i asked a firm to take a look at this. they are hiring an internet security operation. make sure it doesn't happen again. >> reporter: weiner is a genuine power player. considered a top candidate to be the next mayor of new york, he's married to one of hillary clinton's closest friends and advisers. bill clinton presided over their wedding. he is one of the most colorful and loudest members of congress. >> the gentlemen will observe regular order and sit down. i will not. >> reporter: with a wicked sense of humor. >> i do the weiner jokes around here, guys, and -- and really, like, who is boehner fooling? what am i, like, anthony wooein? but he says there is one question he cannot answer. is that photograph of you? >> we are trying to find out where that photograph came from. >> reporter: this is kind of strange. you can't tell me definitively that is a photo of you or not?
>> i'm reluctant to say to you definitively anything about that -- >> reporter: if somebody had a picture of my underwear i would think -- >> what if it was a picture of you that was manipulated, wasn't a picture of you, put into your account? >> reporter: yeah, but -- >> here's all that i can do. i said, let's try to figure out who, how, what this prank went down. let's make sure it doesn't happen again. >> reporter: . >> the only thing that anthony weiner and this gentleman here have in common is that they seem to lean to the hard left. >> reporter: weiner is one of the most active tweeters in congress. but these days most members of congress have twitter accounts. today, in an exclusive
interview, we asked democratic leader nancy pelosi about the alleged breach of weiner's account. do you think this issue should be investigated to see if there was a hack? >> i'm a late-comer to the issue. but i'm sure, i have confidence in anthony weiner that if an investigation is in order, that will take place. >> reporter: five days after the alleged hack, weiner hasn't even reported it to law enforcement. >> it was a hoax. it was someone sending a picture of a weiner on winer's account. it's one of the jokes i've been getting since i was 5 years old. this was a joke that someone committed on me. and you can say, all right, let's have more and more investigations, let's call the fbi, the cia -- >> reporter: you could call twitter and ask them, right? >> one of the things that we've asked this firm to do is going to have an internet privacy firm kind of come in and figure out what happened. but let's see what they come up with. if they come back to me, say, oh, yes, this rises to the level of national security, or, this was, no, this was you being
sloppy with a password or this was you being sloppy with your cell phone, do we want to have the tax payers pay for that? i think not. let's let the chips fall where they may and i'm prepared to. >> reporter: wherever those chips fall, weiner hopes that now he's done talking about it. for real. for "nightline," i'm jonathan karl in washington. >> he talked a lot today about it. thanks to jonathan karl for that interview. just ahead, cellular danger. plus, it's a swimmer's nightmare. imagine jumping into the water and being surrounded by this. progressive makes it easy because we give you choices. you can pick where to get your car fixed. we can cut you a check. or, at our service center, we take care of everything for you. ♪
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that's the question raised by yesterday's announcement that they had been added to a list of possible carcinogens. dan harris investigates. >> reporter: by now we've all heard cell phones possibly cause cancer. but there is nothing like seeing this machine measure the actual radio waves during a phone call to drive the point home. >> this will measure the radio transmission. >> reporter: that's mike knox, an electrical engineer, running some tests with his fancy machine at the home of steve and elizabeth howard, who graciously allowed us over tonight because theirs is a house with five cell phones and two rambunctious children who love to play with those phones. in fact, their 3-year-old, graham, has his own phone, though it's not set up to make any phone calls. but is having all these phones around safe? like many americans, steve and elizabeth had very different reactions to the news that the world health organization now says phones might cause cancer. >> like caffeine, i think. every other study is a good
thing or bad thing and most of them are inconclusive. so, i kind of let it go in one ear and out the other. >> i sit and e-mail everything right next to his head with my iphone. i would want to know if that was a dangerous thing to do. >> reporter: so who's right? well, the radio waves were definitely measurable when we checked the phone. so, she's connected now. >> right. >> you can see some energy is popping up. it boosted it a little but not -- >> but not off the charts. >> reporter: ditto when she downloaded a video through her wi-fi-enabled laptop. >> if i bring it close, i'm still, you know, not seeing much from the wifi signal. >> reporter: and check out what happened when they fired up the microwave. >> we are seeing more energy out of the microwave. >> it's gone up there. >> reporter: but are these levels dangerous? we asked mike knox, who is not a medical doctor, but studies radiation. did you see anything in the house that makes you worried? >> no. >> do you think people should be
careful around phones? >> again, i -- i can look at the literature, i've been doing this for a while, and i can find just as many articles that say, you know, there may be some connection to some health standards, and i can find just as many that say there's not. >> reporter: and though there's real disagreement in the medical community tonight, most doctors we spoke with told us that the recent ruling on cell phones from the world health organization is a cause for caution, but not outright alarm. >> i don't think people should be freaking out about it. we happen to live in an environment that has a lot of this form of microwave radiation around us. microwave ovens, telephones, cordless phones. so, this is not something that's unusual. >> reporter: radiation is all around us. the last time there was a major radiation scare, after the japanese earthquake and tsunami damaged that nuclear power plant, i took a geiger around new york city. check this out, we're at a food stand and we're going to put the
geiger counter on some bananas, which contain potassium which you need to live but also radiation. and check out how the needle pins when we went in grand central station. this place is made from granite. which emits radiation. we should say, the radiation from granite or bananas or the sun or airport scanners or x-rays is very different from the radio waves that come from phones. those radio waves are much weaker, and there's still no proof that that kind of radiation can penetrate our bodies and make us sick. the w.h.o. now puts cell phones in the same category as some scary stuff like pesticides and gasoline engine exhaust, but also some everyday stuff like coffee and pickled vegetables. >> it is a wide-ranging category and it reflects the uncertainty of the evidence. >> reporter: so, what should the howards do? well, experts say they can talk less and text more. they can use blue tooth-enabled headsets, which emit much less radiation, or wired headphones, which emit none at all. >> is there a takeaway for you?
>> everything in moderation. they love them. even the baby loves to look at pictures of himself or video clips of himself. >> reporter: until there is something much more definitive from the medical community, this modern family says it cannot completely drop the phone, which would mean essentially dropping out of modern life. for "nightline," this is dan harris in new york city. ♪ [ male announcer ] and just like that, it's here. a new chance for all of us: people, companies, communities to face the challenges yesterday left behind and the ones tomorrow will bring. prudential. bring your challenges.
it's like nature's very own blob. the alien jelly that almost gobbles a whole town in that classic film. but it's real. jelly fish, thousands, millions of them proliferating the world's oceans like never before. stinging swimmers and foiling fishermen. here's yunji de nies. >> reporter: in 2002, millions of these jelly fish, the giants of the species, starred washing up on japan's shores.
and they have bloomed almost every year since. they can weigh up to 450 pounds and be more than six feet wide, as tall as a man. >> it's very difficult to stop this jelly fish. they can survive forever. >> reporter: in fact, so-called blooms of jelly fish and jelly fish stings are increasing worldwide, from new york's hudson river to the warm seas of the mediterranean. along the coast in central florida, they are filling the water, thousands of small dark venomous creatures. >> we're having a jellyfish infestation. >> reporter: they cover the shore and they have stung more than 1800 people here in the last few days. they are called mauve jelly fish. named for their purple pigment. voracious hunters, they sting to capture their prey. >> they have evolved this very clever way to use venom to immobilize their prey. then they pull it up and they eat it with their mouth, which
is suspended under the bell. >> reporter: the mauve jellyfish are rare here. scientists believe they washed up from a population bloom deep in the gulf of mexico hundreds of miles away. meanwhile, japanese fishermen are netting huge hauls. a serious threat to the country's multibillion dollar fishing industry. a single giant jelly fish lays over a billion eggs and it multiplies exponentially. this professor hopes to find the key to controlling the population in his lab. >> this jelly fish become very large. but their food is very tiny. >> reporter: jelly fish are highly efficient eaters, increasing their body weight by 10% every day by gorging on zooplank tons. controlling their growing numbers won't be easy. the rate of production increases with higher temperatures. the professor and many other scientists believe climate change is a major factor.
>> as ocean temperatures warm, i wouldn't be at all surprised if we see many of these jellies that normally occur only in southern oceans actually work their way farther north. heck, i think it was the last couple of years they actually found more stingers in ireland. which is really bizarre. >> reporter: while the doctor hunts for a scientific solution, kanyo fukota has a simpler approach to the problem. just eat them. but even if he could single handedly start a national craze for jelly fish cuisine, it would be unlikely to make a dent. we on shore are outnumbered. so, if you see them the best advice may be simply to stay out of the water and out of their way. i'm yunji de nies for "nightline" in cocoa beach, florida. >> going to need the right sauce for that. "monster jelly fish" airs on natgeo wild on thursday, june 9th. that's all for the program tonight. on the ground now in massachusetts withul