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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  July 18, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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they should have a contest. >> a contest. >> i'm sure they will. thanks for joining us at 5:00. >> see you at 6:00. on our broadcast tonight, deadly heat now as new records are set and emergency rooms are filling up. and out west tonight, evacuations are under way in the path of an exploding wildfire. bankrupt. an entire american city collapses financially under the weight of billions in debt. tonight, the sad news from detroit, the largest u.s. city to file for bankruptcy. found dead. a mob story continues to unfold in boston, as a long-time rival and a potential witness against whitey bulger may have been murdered while the trial is under way. and making a difference, a big loud difference, which has made one nurse so popular with patients, they request him by name and by song. nightly news begins now.
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good evening. and now this heat wave we have been covering turns fatal. that makes what is even traditionally the hottest week of summer in some very big u.s. cities a very different matter. now, half the country, 24 states, are under heat advisories and warnings. it's just plain brutal from the population centers in the east to the fires burning in the west. we have all of it covered tonight. we want to begin with nbc's stephanie gosk in brooklyn, new york, on a hot thursday night in the city. stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, this is a pretty good place to cool off if you are a kid in new york. today was actually the hottest day so far. jfk airport hit 100 degrees. that's a record for july 18, but it was rough all over. enough is enough. all along the east coast and stretching through the plains, people are crying uncle. already tough, hot jobs are
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nearly unbearable. early this morning, engine 221 was called to a three-alarm blaze in brooklyn. in heat like this, a fire like that needs more firefighters. >> need to rotate them more frequently. >> reporter: 85 pounds of gear. joe decker was sweating bullets just showing it to us. gear in here, too? >> yeah, we have tools in here too, a flashlight. >> reporter: adding to the misery, air quality warnings along the east coast. officials warned people sensitive to ozone to spend less time outdoors. the dogs can suffer, too. in chicago, lake michigan is an irresistible draw. >> he usually doesn't like the beach, but with this hot weather, even he is going in the water. >> reporter: and emergency rooms in multiple cities, including
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st. barnabas in the bronx, doctors are seeing the compound effect of five days of 90-plus temperatures. more than half of the calls these paramedics get in the bronx are heat related. >> your body isn't used to the 100-degree weather. it comes out of nowhere and you just pass out. >> reporter: in alabama, a 1-year-old died after being left in the car by his mother. emergency responders couldn't save him. >> what's remarkable about this heat wave is how long it's lasting. for example, in new york city, you look at 150 summers, and we have only had a stretch of heat like this 20 times. >> reporter: mark thompson feels like he's fighting a losing battle, trying to keep his freezers running at the brooklyn ice cream factory. >> it's kind of a love/hate relationship with heat. the ice cream business needs the warm weather, but when it's this hot, nobody even wants to come outside. >> reporter: for now, the ice cream is still frozen, and the good news is the worst of the heat may soon be over. only one day of this weather lasting, it breaks on saturday. i will probably be standing right here until then.
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brian? >> stephanie gosk in brooklyn for us tonight. thanks. now to where it turns serious again today, extreme heat adding to the fuel for this big and growing wildfire outside palm springs, california. and tonight, evacuations are under way as this fire is now burning toward a highly populated community that has its own sad history with wildfire. that's where the crews are digging in. that's where we find nbc's miguel almaguer tonight. miguel, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. an eerie scene here in idyllwild. this area is usually bustling with tourists and locals this time of year, but today, it looks much more like a ghost town, this as firefighters prepare for the worst. on the frontlines today, a race against time to protect the resort town of idyllwild. crews carving a fire break between 2200 homes and a wall of fire that's on the move. >> this morning watching what was going on and it didn't look good. >> reporter: ron korman is among the 6,000 ordered to evacuate. he rounded up his horses and packed what he could from his dream home, a cabin he built with his own hands. >> if we were to get an easterly
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wind, we would be toast down here. >> reporter: wind is the biggest fear today. the so-called mountain fire is blowing in multiple directions, feeding on bone-dry brush. this 35-square-mile monster can be seen from space. there are smoke advisories for unhealthy air. six miles away in palm springs, it was raining ash. >> it is a very high level of fine particulate in the air and this is very serious for people with respiratory complications. >> reporter: from the air, 17 helicopters continue to pound this remote fire. while on the ground, now 3,000 fire personnel. >> we are just checking everything out. >> reporter: going door to door to clear out those who wanted to stay behind. this is the last line of defense for firefighters, with flames in that direction and homes in that direction, this fire break will
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run for miles. >> we are very concerned. we don't want to lose the sound. everywhere that we protect here, we don't want to lose any of it. >> reporter: this community knows fire and heartbreak well. in 2006, five firefighters lost their lives fighting the esperanza blaze that threatened the town. tonight, crews are once again working to protect the community of idyllwild and its residents. making matters worse for firefighters heron the ground, they are battling this blaze in near triple-digit heat. the good news, the fire from this town, brian, is about two miles away. >> miguel almaguer, idyllwild, california, tonight. miguel, thanks. the other big story we are covering this evening broke late today. it involves a great american city, once the engine of prosperity, but now detroit has fallen on such hard times, the city is filing for bankruptcy, becoming the largest u.s. city to do so. it is the latest chapter in what's been a slow-moving
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tragedy of decline. our report tonight from nbc's john yang. >> reporter: the move is unprecedented, the biggest municipal bankruptcy in american history, a major u.s. city officially declaring it cannot pay its debts, estimated at $18 billion, or meet its basic obligations to its citizens. >> this was a very difficult and painful decision, but if you look at it, there's no other viable option. >> reporter: it represents the failure of nearly a month of negotiations between detroit emergency manager, kevin orr, and the city's more than 100,000 creditors. >> they are stating that they see no other way out. they have admitted they can't do it by their own, that they need the federal bankruptcy court's assistance to come to a resolution. >> reporter: a judge will now oversee the process to resolve the city's debts, including about $3.5 billion owed to pension funds. cynthia and her husband are retired detroit police officers. >> we would lose everything. we owe more on our house than it's worth. >> reporter: some say the city has been running on empty for
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years. detroit's tax base evaporated as the population plummeted from a peak of about 2 million in the 1950s to just 700,000 today. >> you have police cars that are broken down, fire trucks that don't work, ems runs that don't come on time, garbage that doesn't get picked up. >> reporter: average police response time for highest priority calls? 58 minutes. city buses are unreliable. >> sometimes i come out here, i wait two, three hours for the bus. >> reporter: lately, high-tech entrepreneurs have breathed life into downtown detroit. analysts wonder about the impact of today's filing. >> the stigma or pale of bankruptcy may cause people who were thinking of expanding business or moving business to detroit to rethink that. >> reporter: late today, the emergency manager, kevin orr, and detroit mayor dave ding reassured citizens that for them, nothing would change. services will keep going and
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bills will be paid. brian? >> john yang, who is our chicago-based correspondent. back in chicago tonight, john, what was the financial news out of the city of chicago today? >> reporter: well, moody's gave a big hit to the city's credit rating, knocking it down three pegs. moody's mentioned not only a $36 billion unfunded pension obligation that the city has, but interestingly, they also mentioned the gun violence that's been plaguing this city. chicago, from the beginning of the year through may, has paid $40 million in police overtime. brian? >> john yang on the news from chicago today and of course, the very bad news out of detroit. john, thanks. in texas today, governor rick perry signed into law some of the nation's toughest restrictions on abortion. the new law bans abortions after 20 weeks and requires clinics to make big upgrades. already, planned parenthood says it will close three of its clinics in texas. the law takes effect in about 90 days.
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and in the meantime, opponents say they will challenge it in court. a great deal of frustration heard today about the civil war in syria, as u.s. military leaders told congress and washington the assad regime is now winning. syrian refugees were asking secretary of state john kerry on a visit to jordan where is the help? our report on all of it tonight from our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, in our d.c. bureau. >> reporter: touring a sprawling refugee camp eight miles from the syrian border, john kerry got an earful. more than a month after president obama promised to arm the opposition, no weapons have been sent. refugees pleaded with kerry, what are you waiting for, demanding a no-fly zone to stop assad's fighter jets and scud missiles. >> i think they are frustrated and angry at the world for not stepping in and helping. >> reporter: why the delay? as rebel factions fight each other and al qaeda gains influence, congress is afraid the weapons will get into the wrong hands. >> if you're going to put the
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good name of the united states at risk, you better do it right. again, i was arguing for something earlier to prevent what we now know is a rising al qaeda membership, some 6,000 in the country. >> reporter: as the rebels falter, assad has cemented his control over central syria, with weapons from russia and iran and hezbollah fighters. >> it is the nation's policy that assad must go. >> if nothing changes, if we don't change our game, will they be in power a year from now? >> i think likely so. >> reporter: and this makeshift camp is now semipermanent, jordan's fifth largest city, population 120,000, 30,000 of them children, light years from the debates in washington. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. nelson mandela turned 95 years old today. it is a huge milestone for this man the world has been worrying about and wondering about and praying for. he has now been hospitalized in critical condition for just
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short of six weeks. and while it has looked awfully grim at times, there were celebrations today, especially when word came forth from his family that he is making, in their words, remarkable progress. we get our report tonight from nbc's ron allen in pretoria, south africa. ♪ >> reporter: today in south africa, celebration after weeks of worry. nelson mandela, his health now said to be improve willing, has reached his 95th birth day. students across the country, like these at a school mandela himself attended, began their day in song. ♪ >> we all praying for you to get better soon. >> reporter: outside the hospital, thousands of well wishers, family members gathered in his hospital room. former wife, winnie mandela. >> thank you for showing how much you love your country. >> reporter: throughout the
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celebrations, encouraging word is reaching the crowd about mandela's help. his family continues to insist his overall condition is getting better day by day. mandela remains in critical condition, battling a lung infection, but well enough to watch tv, smile at birthday wishes, perhaps even leave the hospital soon says his daughter. >> i'm not a medical doctor, the one who determines whether he goes back home. i'm confident it will be some time soon. >> reporter: this was also a day of giving. south africans asked to give 67 minutes of volunteer work to honor mandela's 67 years of service. president zuma opening low-income housing for pretoria's poor. nelson mandela, who has survived so much, honored today for reaching another milestone. ron allen, nbc news, pretoria. and still ahead for us tonight from new york, it sounds like something out of a mob movie, a potential witness found dead while a trial is under way. it sounds like a mob story. and tonight in boston, it is. and later, history at the
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emmys, big names in hollywood accomplishing something we've never seen before.
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we are back, as promised, with the boston mob trial that unfolded today, just like a classic mob story. whitey bulger is on trial in boston. he's a notorious figure in that city. and while there was more colorful language in court today, it was a find elsewhere in the city that got most of the attention. nbc's kristen dahlgren is in boston for us tonight. >> it was quite a day in court. >> reporter: in boston today, shock surrounding a trial many thought couldn't possibly pack in more drama. >> what was the nature of your relationship with whitey -- with mr. bulger? and he says,"strictly criminal." >> reporter: steven "stippo" rakes, a fixture at the trial of suspected mob boss and fbi informant whitey bulger was found dead wednesday, one day after prosecutors told him he
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wouldn't have to testify. >> my liquor store was never for sale. never, never, never. >> reporter: rakes accused bulger of forcing the sale of his liquor store at gunpoint. he says he couldn't wait to take the stand here against the 83-year-old now on trial for racketeering and 19 murders after more than a decade on the run. >> that night haunts me every night, that night. >> reporter: the 59-year-old was found on the side of the road in the tony boston suburb of lincoln. police say there was no sign of trauma, but an autopsy and investigation are under way. steven davis, whose sister was allegedly strangled by bulger, was a friend of rake's. >> no car. no automobile. no i.d. steve carried his i.d. right here all the time in his pocket. >> do you think he was murdered? >> me? of course. because of how everything's falling into play here now. >> reporter: it's one more twist surrounding a trial full of accused mobsters with names like the executioner and the rifleman, who today had an outburst in the courtroom.
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>> looked at whitey when he stood up, he called him a [ bleep ], you know? >> it's absolutely riveting. you've got aging gangsters in court seeing each other for the first time in like 15, 18, 20 years, staring each other down. it's been phenomenal. >> reporter: a trial that may be far from over. >> i don't want to go back and live the day to have to keep looking over my shoulder. >> reporter: leaving some wondering what could possibly happen next? kristen dahlgren, nbc news, boston. we are back in a moment with the new enforcers at the beach with the authority to ruin your day in a hurry.
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the emmy nominations are out. and while we have put the whole list on our website for you tonight, they include a changing of the guard. 14 nominations for netflix, not a network mind you, but netflix, purveyor and now producer of streaming programming, including their own original series,
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"house of cards," nominated for top drama. 15 nominations went to hbo's liberace biopic "behind the candelabra" with michael douglas and matt damon. and where the home team is concerned, "snl" received 15 nominations for a total of 171 during its history. and that's a new record. joe biden is the subject of a revealing new profile in "gq" magazine. among a ton of notable stories, quotes and vignettes from the vice president, which won't do anything to quiet speculation about 2016. he says, "i can die a happy man never having been president of the united states of america, but it doesn't mean i won't run." speculation is flying as the rumored due date flies by and the wait goes on for the arrival of the next member of the royal family in london. today's rumor was that kate
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middleton had opted to have the baby somewhere other than the london hospital where hoards of cameras and media are already staked out in front. and while no one would blame her for that, and while speculation today zeroed in on a suburban hospital instead, still no confirmation tonight. here's just what we need, volunteers handing out actual parking tickets. the city of malibu in california is going to allow volunteers, volunteers on patrol, as they call them, to assist with directing traffic, monitoring parking and handing out real tickets. they receive a half-day's training by the sheriff's department, which is saying this will save $50,000 worth of their officers' valuable time. when we come back tonight, our making a difference report this evening on the combination of bedside care and song that seems to work. ♪
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finally here tonight, our making a difference report isn't so much about the heroic role that nurses play in our health care every day, but it is about one nurse in valencia, california, who does something that is decidedly not by the book every day. his story tonight from nbc's
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mike taibbi. >> how are you doing, gloria? >> reporter: start with this, 27-year-old jared axon is a top-flight nurse at valencia's henry mayo hospital. but while all good nurses make their patients feel better in a setting that, by definition, is distressing and frightening, axon makes them smile. ♪ smile though your heart is aching ♪ ♪ smile even though it's breaking ♪ >> reporter: patients like marilyn, hospitalized after a series of seizures. how does he help you? >> his talent is wonderful and the love he has for people. >> reporter: and gloria, recovering from hip surgery. ♪ i'll be seeing you in all the familiar places ♪ >> reporter: and valentina, russian-born and with little english, forgetting her chest pains. ♪ amazing grace >> reporter: always a music lover, axon started singing like most of us.
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>> of course it always starts out in the shower. >> reporter: though his pure tenor's voice took him to a half dozen countries as a performer, he chose nursing as a career. but even there, he couldn't keep quiet. >> i would be preparing medication and singing. >> reporter: his parents heard him and so did his managers. >> got to where people were requesting the singing nurse when they came into the e.r. >> reporter: it became part of his routine, a health benefit and kind of a genuine intimacy between strangers. >> i love you. like my son. >> i love you, too. >> reporter: now, axon does have musical ambitions beyond the hospital floor, for example to sing the anthem at dodgers stadium. ♪ of the free and the home of the brave ♪ >> reporter: it's good medicine, if the dodgers are listening. ask marilyn and valentina and gloria. mike taibbi, nbc news, valencia, california. >> and that's the spoken word version of "nbc nightly news"
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for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. nbc bay area news starts now. right now at 6:00. a controversial arrest. >> high profile and highly paid. today uc regions voted to approve janet napolitano. the confrontation as you just saw all caught on camera. let's bring in scott budman with the new details. >> reporter: well, the scene
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outside is quiet now. but it was loud both inside and outside this afternoon as protesters interrupted the confirmation of janet napolitano who makes a big move from a high-level in the obama administration to the first female president in academia. protesters made their presence known in front of the uc regents, briefly marring the naming of janet napolitano as the newest uc president. several arrests were made inside and then the protests continued outside. largely focused on immigration concerns, napolitano has been the head of the department of homeland security. >> i am concerned that some of that will transfer over. her mind


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