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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 27, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on our broadcast tonight, rising toll. the death toll went up today in joplin, missouri, while still they look for the missing. and then there's the rebuilding. flying blind. the cause of a crash of an air france jet liner is revealed, and now we know what the passengers experienced as it plunged to the sea. no fly zone. a big tradition missing today from comentment at annapolis. we later found out it was in the name of safety. and later, a blast from the past in the woodstock days working to make things better for the new generation. plus, we'll finally get to the news we didn't get to during this busy week. "nightly news" this friday night begins now.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. as this country begins to wind down for the long memorial day weekend ahead, joplin in the sad process of remembering over 130 lost souls is just now getting under way. the death toll in joplin was adjusted upwards today. the list of the missing continues to agonize families wondering about a loved one and adding further insult to injury, it rained and stormed hard there today, and remember, shelter is still hard to come by. we want to begin again with nbc's ron allen who is in joplin for us. ron, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. yes, today, the number of missing and unaccounted fell just a bit to 160. at the same time, the number of confirmed dead rose above 130. this is the first day of as many funerals that are going to take place in this town, and we begin
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to learn about some of the people the community lost. they celebrated the loss of adam dwayne darnathy, a joplin electrician who would have turned 28 this week. also services for ray trip miller, 49, a sports enthusiast and longtime participant in the special olympics. not far away, rescuers scoured the six-mile zone of destruction, going over some places for a fifth time. >> as the days go on, it gets a little tougher, but we're holding strong, and we're still hopeful. >> reporter: finding and identifying the dead has been slow. only 19 identified so far. worried families are not allowed to view the remains. one woman mistakenly identified one victim as her son. so the painstaking forensics are under way at this makeshift morgue outside of joplin. >> they go through a very specific process to identify the
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bodies, using medical records and printings. >> there's frustration and we understand that. >> reporter: the mayor sees daunting problems everywhere. thousands still without power. phone service spotty. only bottled water is safe to drink. and some 4,000 jobs lost. >> as we do continue to search and unfortunately find fatalities, i think we go into a second phase of shock, realizing the folks we have lost. >> reporter: despite all the pain, something is happening here that is hard not to notice. american flags all across joplin. they seem to be rising everywhere in the rubble, along with the resolve of the people. >> we will survive. we're americans, after all. we're missourians. we're joplinites. we will survive. >> reporter: state officials say they're bringing in extra staff and working around the clock to speed up the process of identifying victims and notifying families, trying to
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give them at least some measure of peace. it's going to be a very emotional weekend this holiday weekend. a huge memorial plans and president obama is coming here as well to pay his respects. >> what incredible spirit after what they have been through. ron allen, thanks for your coverage from joplin so far this week. we mentioned the storm in joplin, today. most of that bad weather system is moving to the east as millions, of course, plan to head out for ball games and air shows and picnics. though there will be isolated severe thunderstorms in the northern plains and midwest, there's nothing in the forecast that will come close to the violent weather we have seen, and the midsouth that has taken so much punishment of late, should be all quiet. now we move to europe where president obama traveled today from the g-8 summit in france to poland. it's his first visit there as u.s. commander in chief, and nato security happened to be the topic. nbc's kristen welker is traveling with the president. is with us tonight from warsaw. good evening. nato security was a big
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issue in warsaw, and so was the arab spring. president obama met with 17 leaders from central and eastern europe to discuss ways to bring about democracy in the region. earlier today, he wrapped up the g-8 summit and posed for the traditional class photo with other leaders. libya dominated the discussions. the u.s. and allis reiterating removing gadhafi from power is now part of the mission. he also met with dmitry medvedev who had been critical of the strikes but he's now willing to serve as a mediator. saying he'll use his contacts with the government to try to negotiate an end to the conflict there. the president heads back tomorrow. >> kristen welker traveling with the president. again tonight in warsaw, poland. thanks. back in d.c., a four-year extension of the revised patriot act was signed into law minutes before midnight last night.
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you would be correct to act, with the president overseas, how exactly did he sign the bill in washington? by machine. the so-called auto pen used by about the last dozen presidents. they sign their name initially by hand onto a template, and the machine re-creates it countless number of times, exactly. and in this case, the signature had the force of law. back now to the business of foreign policy and the president's overseas trip. while world leaders were laying out their position on libya, things in tripoli have changed dramatically in the past few weeks. richard engle has made his way back to tripoli to bring us an update of what life is like there. >> reporter: tripoli seems sad than defeated. different in subtle but profound ways from the last visit. six weeks ago in tripoli, every time we took out a camera, crowds rushed up to show their loyalty to colonel moammar
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gadhafi. back then in green square, there were pep rallies for the cult of gadhafi every day. now in green square, the platform where the rallies were held is empty, the bandstand broken. even gadhafi's giant portrait doesn't hang straight anymore. gadhafi himself hasn't been seen in public in weeks, only making rare television appearances from undisclosed locations. the area around gadhafi's compound was bombed three times just this week, a sharp increase. british intelligence officials say gadhafi may be hiding in hospitals. libyans who oppose the regime are generally too scared to speak on camera, but one man said he believes 90% of the people in the city are against the government. and every time nato bombs, the
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people on his neighborhood go on the roof to whistle and cheer. but across tripoli, there's little sign of the bomb damage. markets are full. there's still plenty to buy. customers are few. so many shops are closed. economic sanctions are having a major impact here. perhaps even more than the bombing campaign itself. fuel shortages are now so severe, it can take up to four days waiting in line to fill up your car. we have been told banks will only distribute up to $600 a month no matter how much money is in the account, and inflation is driving up prices at least 50%. but the regime remains in control here. as we filmed, security stopped us. not wanting the world to see that tripoli, gadhafi's stronghold, is hurting. richard engle, nbc news, tripoli. secretary of state hillary clinton and joint chiefs chairman admiral mike mullen were in pakistan today. first visit by senior u.s. officials since the raid on bin laden's hideout.
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secretary clinton said there's no evident evidence that the country's senior leadership, at least, knew he was in the house, and it was a watershed moment for pakistan. she urged the people there to take decisive steps to fight terrorism. in france, safety investigators have released the initial widely awaited findings from the black boxes of an air france flight that plunged into the atlantic almost two years ago now. 228 people died in that crash during the flight from rio to paris. nbc's tom costello has details, what we know about the final moments of the flight 447. >> reporter: it was a cockpit voice and data recorders discovered in the wreckage amid 13,000 feet of water that have given investigators their best clues into the disaster. the air bus was flying through heavy turbulence when its sensors iced over and failed. without those, the auto pilot and auto thrust system disengaged. amid the chaos, with the captain on a routine rest break, the first pilots in the plane began
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a pitch up, beginning a dramatic climb from 30,000 feet to 38,000 feet. soon, the plane lost lift and went into an aerodynamic stall. >> there's a lot of confusion because the airplane isn't doing what it was doing just seconds ago. it's not doing what you expect it to, so why not. >> reporter: with the plane violently rolling frahm side to side, both pilots called out they had no indications or speed readings. they also may have been spatially disoriented, not knowing up from down, left from right. the pilot raced back to the cockpit, but apparently never took control of the plane. >> you have the airplane not only pitching up and down dramatically, but left and right dramatically, and it became a high level of confusion for them. >> reporter: for the next 3:30,
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the plane plunges from 38,000 feet to the water below, slamming into the ocean's surface belly first. it's possible the passengers never knew how serious the trouble was. even before the crash, air france knew the sensors were defective. it's since replaced the sensors on all of its planes. tom costello, nbc news, washington. >> unbelievable story. we'll take a break. when we come back on this friday night, the close call that has some of the navy's top aviators stuck on the ground for now. and later, he may look familiar, at least if you go back to the woodstock days. even after all these years, he's still "making a difference."
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you know it right away, the iconic scene repeated every year at the military academy, the tossing of hats into the air. at today's u.s. naval commencement in annapolis, the class of 2011, something else
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was conspicuously missing from the skies above them. jim miklaszewski reports on why the top flight u.s. navy blue angels were barred from flight on this graduation day. >> reporter: they're the u.s. military's premier precision flying team, the blue angels. thrilling crowds for more than 60 years, but it came close to crashing down this week. it happened at an air show this sunday in lynchburg, virginia. in perfect formation, the wing tips of the faa jets appeared to almost touch. at 600 miles per hour, the slightest mistake could be catastrophic. at this point, four of the angels planned to execute a crowd pleaser, the diamond barrel roll break, as they have done hundreds of times before, the naval aviators enter a steep dive. as they pull up, the commander in the first plane realizes they're too low to the ground and they're forced to break off the maneuver.
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this is what the barrel roll is supposed to look like. as the jets separate in what looks like a starburst formation. in the incident this week, as the blue angels come out of their dive, navy officials say they're dangerously close to the ground. only 130 feet, when the absolute minimum is more than three times that at 500 feet. only two of the jets appear to break off in the normal maneuver. the other two fly out of the formation, straight and level. one navy official said they almost followed their leader straight into the ground. that leader, dave cox, was voluntarily relieved of his command of the blue angels squadron today. and in a statement he said, this incident along with other instances of not meeting the airborne standard, led to my decision to step down. upcoming blue angel air shows have been canceled. but practice flights resume next week. the actor jeff conaway has died, best known for the role of kenickie in "grease," and later
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in "taxi." sadly, he was last known on "celebrity rehab." he was a serial substance abuser, and it ultimately cost him his life at the age of 60. up next here tonight, what a week it's been here with grim news out of the midwest. tonight, we'll back up a bit, catch you up on some of the things you might have missed as a result.
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for our team here, this sunday started with a flight to joplin, missouri, and you saw our live coverage of what we saw when we got there, and what the good people in that great town are going through right now. as a result, it was an awful week, dominated by the relentlessly sad coverage and the loss of life. because we had to devote so much coverage to it, a lot of other news happened that we didn't have time to mention. when we talk about the website
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or the new ipad app we talk of, this is what we mean, the stories we run out of time to air. tonight, in short order, we thought we would catch up with the stories that got away from all of us this week. first up, the presidential limousine in ireland. it's bullet proof and bomb proof, but it's no match for irish speed bumps. luckily, he wasn't in it, but it was the first of two limo embarrassments on the trip. he was seen filling up at bp, the folks who brought us the oil spill. he drank guinness in ireland, flipped burgers, and high-fived the prime minister. speaking of presidents, you rarely get to here them in moments. like bill clinton talking with paul ryan.
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another former president was in the news this week for an unguarded moment. george w. bush was unguarded when a foul ball and the catcher chasing after it almost took him out. and in rough and tumble politics, cathy hoppel won an election to the seat vacated by a man who sent a picture to a woman other than his wife. in california, a judge ruled the prisons are so overcrowded it's unconstitutional so they'll release 300,000 over the next two years. another reason to love dogs. mason the terrier came over this week after missing for three weeks in tuscaloosa. he made it home with two broken front legs because he needed to
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get home to his owner. and that's why we love dogs. the nation lost a medal of honor recipient this week. paul weederdorf was awarded in for what high did in belgium in christmas day in 1944. running under fire for 50 yards in the open and destroying two german machine gun nests. he received a ticker tape parade at home after which he worked for the electric company for 40 years. he was 90, and his death leaves 80 veterans left. climate news. chicago was in the news because scientists have warned the city that due to changing climate patterns its climate will become like baton rouge in the years, a lot wetter and milder than normal. we chose not to show you the cute youtube video of the mother cat hugging her kitten having a nightmare, or the guy practicing a speech ruined by his cat, or
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the beagle catching a ball, because this is a serious broadcast, after all. and we're back in a moment with the "making a difference" report.
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nice to see you, wavy. do i call you wavy or mr. gravy, or what do i call you? >> mr. gravy if you're from the "new york times." >> that nose comes off, by the way. if you caught him on jimmy fallon earlier this week, yes, that was wavy gravy on the couch. tough name to forget if you go back to the woodstock era. he was one of the hosts of the crucible of rock in 1979. now he's going strong and putting good use to the energy. our report from george lewis. >> reporter: the many faces of wavy gravy. always the consummate clown. >> a clown is a poet who is also an orangutan. >> reporter: but behind the funny face paint, there's a man serious about being a good samaritan.
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and why? >> for the buzz. i'm in it for the buzz. it makes me feel good. >> reporter: the movie "woodstock" documented how wavy gained pr minceenc'ing the legendary festival while his hog farm fed the crowd. >> what we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000. >> reporter: and he's been providing for others ever since. >> breakfast! >> reporter: every summer, kids, many living in poverty, come to his camp, rainbow, to learn juggling and trap ease work. there's a point to it, building self-esteem. >> when you're the best, you want to make other people the best. >> you want to, like, make other happy. >> it's something magical, and you can see it in a child's eyes while they're at camp. >> reporter: at wavy gravy foundation, the "save it"
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foundation, combats blindness in other countries. >> 80% of people who are blind don't need to be blind and can get their sight back with a simple 15-minute surgery. >> so far, his foundation has paid for about 3 million of those procedures. to raise money, the foundation throws benefit concerts featuring wavy's all-star friends from the world of rock. this one celebrating wavy's 70th birthday. >> this is a wonderful thing. you need more wavies in the world. >> reporter: he may be 75, but he says he still gets a thrill from performing acts of kindness. >> it's a high that is not available in the pharmaceutical compartment. >> kindness and compassion. and that's our broadcast for this friday night and this week. thank you for being here with us through all of it. lester holt will be with you this weekend. i'm brian williams. we'll see you here next week.
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as we leave you here with pictures from arlington tonight, please take time over the holiday to remember all of them. have a good and safe memorial day weekend. good night. ce we begin tonight with some developing news in a rape and home invasion case in the east bay. good evening, everyone. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm garvin thomas in for raj mathai. the crime happened in the oakland hills early this morning but late today a possible break in the case. we'll hear more about the crime in a moment but first let's go nbc bay area's cheryl hurd, who's getting new information from police. cheryl, this story is changing by the minute. >> reporter: it is indeed, garvin. investigators involved in that home invasion sexual

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