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

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leagues. he will get a check for more than $11,000. thanks for watching. nbc nightly news is next. firestorat 6:00. thousands more evacuated overnight as a huge wildfire spreads near a resort town in idaho, consuming more than 150 square miles. tonight, the latest from the frontlines. egypt on edge. a new warning from the military against more violence as the death toll rises. plus, egypt's christian communitpaying a heavy price. the death of princess diana, the latest on new allegations over how she died being examined by scotland yard, 16 years after that tragic night in paris. wrongful conviction? why is this man still behind bars when even his accusers now insist he did not do it? and message in a bottle, tossed into the sea, uncovered by sandy, and now returned to
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the man who wrote it half a century ago. good evening. there are few more dangerous places in america right now than on the fire lines out west, both for those fighting the fires and those trying to flee them. there are dozens of wild fires on the move tonight, but the most dangerous is in idaho, the so-called beaver creek fire, where thousands more have been ordered to grab what they can and get out. crews from around the country have been brought in to battle it, attacking from the air and from the ground. but conditions couldn't be worse as mountaintops virtually explode with fire before their eyes. nbc's miguel almaguer is covering the story for us. he is in haley, idaho, tonight. miguel?
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>> reporter: lester, good evening. that plume of smoke behind me about mile away is the heart of the fire. just in front of me is a sprawling community. what worries firefighters so much tonight is what is in between these two, acres and acres of dry fuel. explosive, out of control and now closing in on 2300 homes. the beaver creek fire is a monster, moving in multiple directions. >> this is an extremely fast and dangerous fire. >> reporter: feeding on forest land, dry trees are blow torches, shooting flames and hot embers 100 feet into the air. >> right now, it's, you know, looks like a bomb went off over there. trees are down and gone. >> reporter: thick, choking smoke is smothering three resort communities, thousands warned fire could be next. >> this is craziness. i mean, our life is in our vehicles right now. >> reporter: a region that depends on tourism is tonight a ghost town. greg loomis is a fly fishing guide. >> my business has fallen off by about 90%. it's just basically fallen off a cliff. >> reporter: with 150 square miles burned so far, the beaver
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creek fire is bigger than the city of philadelphia, detroit or denver. more than 1,000 firefighters are attacking the blaze, but for now, losing the battle. conditions are grueling, teams are fatigued. days are long. this hotshot crew from salt lake city has been on the front lines for 16 hours. their work here is backbreaking. their packs are full of gear, weighing over 40 pounds. the beaver creek fire may be the most dangerous blaze in the country, but it's not the only inferno threatening homes. from california to colorado, 34 major wildfires are scorching the west, the region a tinderbox, a perfect recipe for fire. >> three things affect how a wildfire burns, weather, the topography and the fuels. so, in this case, all the factors are against us. >> reporter: tonight in idaho, against the odds, firefighters battle an unrelenting blaze, one that shows little sign of slowing down.
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as this fire chews through forest land, crews are making progress, the blaze is 9% contained and despite the massive size of this fire, lester, only one home has been destroyed. >> miguel almaguer tonight. thank you. now to egypt, which remains on edge tonight after days of bloody protests, and a vow today by the head of the military that further violence will not be tolerated. some of that violence has been aimed in recent days at egypt's minority christian community. nbc's amman mohyeldin is in cairo for us tonight. amman, what's the latest? >> reporter: good evening, lester. the egyptian government announced today that 79 people were killed in violence on saturday, and this evening, more than 35 people were killed when they were suffocated to death after police fired tear gas into a police van to thwart an alleged prison break. an uneasy calm on the streets of cairo today, the country's military standing watch.
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today, the general speaking for the first time since a bloody crackdown began this week said the military would not stand by and watch violence rip the country apart. the muslim brotherhood isn't backing down either, calling for more protest. when police launched their bloody assault on morsi supporters, they turned their anger on the country's christians. at the church of the angel michael in giza, this is all that remains, sacred texts, destroyed icons, rows of charred pews. rida gabala showed me where the altar once stood. since wednesday, more than 60 churches have been attacked, cristyans killed, businesses and homes vandalized. "we lived here for years and this never happened until morsi was removed from power," he tells me. egypt's christians welcome morsi's ouster. that made them a target. on the church's walls, attackers
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wrote general sisi is a murderer and egypt is an islamic state. despite the risks of violence, protests and curfews, the flock at st. mark's church still came to pray today. >> this is not egypt and these are not egyptians. >> reporter: christianity's roots here date back millennia. and no matter how challenging christianity here may be, the father and the congregation has not lost faith. >> i have faith in this country. i have faith in the people. i believe in the people. >> reporter: this evening, the interior ministry is calling on citizens to put an end to their neighborhood checkpoints. it's a sign that the police are trying to regain control of the security situation here in cairo. lester? >> ayman mohyeldin in cairo tonight. the ruthless crackdown in egypt has presented some tough choices for the obama administration, given egypt's close ties with this country and its pivotal role in the middle east. and there was more debate today on a central question, should the u.s. suspend military and economic aid to egypt?
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nbc's kristen welker is with the president on martha's vineyard. >> reporter: as president obama wrapped up his vacation on martha's vineyard today, his policy toward egypt came under sharp criticism in washington. >> we have no credibility. >> reporter: senator john mccain, who recently traveled to egypt at the request of president obama and who initially opposed cutting off the $1.3 billion in u.s. military aid to the country, now argues that given the ongoing violence, aid should end. >> when we threaten something, as we did that we would cut off aid, the administration did, and then not do it, then you lose your credibility and your influence. >> reporter: and while some fellow republicans disagreed -- >> i would be reluctant to cut off aid. obviously, we should use it as a bargaining wedge. >> reporter: there was also mounting bipartisan support for holding back u.s. dollars. >> the recent violent crackdown, i do not see how we can continue aid. i believe it must be suspended. >> there's no way to say this is not a coup. it is. we should say so, and we should
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follow our own law, which says we can't -- we cannot fund the coup leaders. >> reporter: administration officials wouldn't respond to today's attacks, except to say the president continues to review his egypt policy. u.s. officials tell nbc news, among the options under consideration, withholding several apache helicopters sold to egypt four years ago and set to be delivered this fall. this past week, the president announced he would suspend upcoming joint military exercises, both moves largely symbolic, and not nearly as consequential as ending aid. >> it's really easy to take the step at one level of cutting the assistance, but then you have to live with the consequences of it. we may find it difficult to re-establish a connection with the egyptian military. >> reporter: analysts say another consideration, america's key ally, israel, believes funding the egyptian military is necessary to maintain stability in the region. lester? >> all right, kristen, thanks. in britain, as you may have heard, scotland yard sent the media into a frenzy mode this weekend with a surprising
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disclosure it was studying new information about the death of princess diana. nbc's mandy clark has that story for us. >> reporter: controversy surrounded princess diana's death on august 31, 1997, nearly 16 years ago, and still grabs the headlines today. dramatic new claims splashed across the british papers, allegations that diana and her boyfriend, dodi al fiyad, were murdered by an sas soldier, a member of britain's elite special forces. the new information was reportedly brought forward by family members of another sas soldier and passed on to police. scotland yard confirmed it received this new tip and is now assessing its relevance and credibility. it also stressed it has not reopened the investigation. skeptics question the claims and the timing. >> every year at the time of the anniversary of princess diana's death, there seems to be fresh allegations that resurface, new revelations about how she was
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so-called murdered. but the problem is there is no evidence. >> reporter: meanwhile, prince harry's back after spending last week in angola, visiting landmine clearing projects, walking in his mother's footsteps, his way of carrying on her charity work, perhaps her greatest legacy. princess diana visited the country in 1997. the iconic images of her wearing protective gear in a minefield drew the world's attention to the suffering caused by landmines. it was one of her last big charity trips before her sudden death. conspiracy theories have continually surrounded the deaths of the princess and her boyfriend but repeated investigations have been consistent, that their driver, henri paul, was drunk when he lost control of the car and hit the cement pillar in a paris underpass at 80 miles per hour while trying to lose the chasing paparazzi. mandy clark, nbc news, london. in this country, word this weekend of the first settlement between penn state university
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and one of the young men who accused jerry sandusky of sexual abuse. the "philadelphia inquirer" reported he will receive a multimillion dollar payout from penn state. a petition drive to remove the mayor of this country's eighth largest city got under way today. mayor bob filner of san diego has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women. our report tonight from nbc's joe fryer. >> help recall bob filner. >> reporter: with the clock ticking on the grassroots effort to oust mayor bob filner, a half-marathon seemed like the perfect setting for organizers to start their petition drive. >> i'm a native san diegan. this is huge embarrassment for me. >> reporter: today, they kicked off their campaign with a rally, knowing they have less than six weeks to collect more than 100,000 signatures and put filner's future on the ballot. >> best for our city if bob filner were to move on. >> reporter: so far, 16 women have come forward, accusing the 70-year-old mayor of inappropriate comments and gestures.
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most recently, a 67-year-old great-grandmother who works part time helping senior citizens at city hall. >> on the day that mayor filner grabbed me and kissed me, i was so surprised. i went home and cried. >> reporter: filner's last public appearance came in late july. >> let me be absolutely clear. the behavior i have engaged in over many years is wrong. >> if this were sherlock holmes, this would certainly be the case of the missing mayor. >> reporter: on monday i filner filed a response to the recall effort, highlighting his accomplishments and making no mention of the allegations, but now, the city could try to remove him without a recall by investigating whether he misused his city-issued credit card. >> he better show up at the office on monday because at this point in time, silence is not golden. >> reporter: filner is supposed to return to work this week, but the city attorney could seek a restraining order barring him from city hall, as the san diego saga moves from rehab to recall.
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joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. when nightly news continues on this sunday, getting free meals to all the kids entitled to them and why it's a big challenge during the summer. and later, he finally gets his answer, half a century after putting a message in a bottle.
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we're back tonight with a program that provides subsidized meals to tense of millions of children in this country, at least that's what happens in the school year. in summertime, that is just a fraction of that number because it's much harder to get the meals to those who need them. our report is part of the nbc news project "in plain sight," focusing on poverty in america, supported by the ford foundation.
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here is nbc's rehema ellis. >> reporter: in santa rosa southwest community park, children don't just line up for lunch, they race to get it. and it's free. it's an unsettling truth in the midst of california's wine country charm. during the school year, nearly half of the children in sonoma county qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches. for elie silva, a single mother of three who lost her full-time job, feeding her kids in the summer has been challenging. >> we only have two meals. we would skip lunch. >> reporter: now, she drives them 12 miles to the park, where hundreds of free lunches are served. getting the meals to the kids entitled to them is a massive effort in communities all across the country, working with school districts and food banks, non-profit organizations and lots of volunteers. even when schools close, the main district kitchen in santa rosa stays open. it's a huge operation, cooking,
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packaging, and getting the meals to about 3,000 people every day. but that's just a fraction of those in need. across america, the summer food gap is startling. during the school year about 21 million students receive free or reduced-priced lunches. over the summer, that number drops dramatically, even though they are all still eligible. >> really focused on trying to shrink that gap. >> reporter: it's major concern for secretary of agriculture tom vilsack, the man in charge of the school lunch program. >> part of the challenge for the summer feeding program is we have to figure out where the kids are and oftentimes, we have to encourage kids to come to where the meals are being given. >> reporter: some places are getting creative n rural areas, school buses become mobile cafeterias over the summer, driving long distances to deliver what, for many children is their only reliable meal of the day. >> that was good. >> reporter: some of the poorest neighborhoods in chicago, a food bank on wheels brings free meals and fun.
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a national challenge. how is it? is it thumbs up? feeding kids in the summer so that they are better prepared to learn as school starts again. rehema ellis, nbc news, santa rosa, california. when we come back, even his accusers now say he didn't do it, and still, a man remains behind bars.
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for more than a dozen years a young woman has been trying to take back the words she spoke as a child, the word that sent a newburgh, new york, man, accused of sexually molesting her to prison. recanting her story and getting authorities to believe her has proved far more difficult than she imagined. but now, after all these years, prosecutors in upstate new york are actively reviewing the entire case, as a man who has long claimed his innocence awaits the outcome, still behind bars. shenae kelly is on a mission. >> i'm 24 years old.
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i made this mistake when i was 9 years old. >> reporter: she wants the world to know that 15 years ago she falsely accused this man of raping her. >> came as a total shock to me. >> reporter: his name is daryl kelly. he's her father. did your father rape you? >> no. >> reporter: her story begins in the family's home in newburgh, new york, when shenae was 8. she remembers using the bathroom, then hearing her mother, who was hooked on trucks, call for her. >> she asked me did my father touch me. i was like what do you mean? she was like, you know, did he touch you in your no-no spot? i would repeatedly say no. >> reporter: but shenae says her mother was irrational and irate. >> she told me if you don't tell met answer i want to hear, i'm gonna beat you. >> reporter: so shenae says she lied and said her father molested her and within a year, she was on the witness stand, repeating the story. >> i felt like if i kept telling the lie, eventually this whole thing will blow over. >> reporter: there was no conclusive physical evidence presented that a rape even
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occurred and no prior accusations against kelly, yet he was found guilty of rape and sodomy and sentenced to 20 to 40 years. six months after his conviction, shenae, now removed from her mother's custody, came forward with her grandmother on videotape to say a crime never happened. >> that occur? >> no. >> reporter: and her mother submitted this affidavit to the court, admitting shenae initially denied any actions by my husband, but after i threatened her with the belt, she changed her statements. a judge didn't buy it. kelly would remain in prison. did you ever have any reason to suspect that daryl was molesting the kids at all? >> not at all. >> reporter: this is shenae's mother who says today, she is drug free, and 15 years later, she still insists the rape allegation was her idea. >> until this day, i really have no idea why the thought popped in my head. like i say, at that time, i
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wasn't in my right frame of mind. >> reporter: still behind bars, daryl kelly believes that, in the end, he will be vindicated. >> one day, the truth will set me free. all i have to do is hold on. >> investigators who are re-examining the case for orange county, new york, prosecutors tell nbc news they expect to complete their work within a month. their recommendations will follow. when we come back, a message of hope from a long time ago.
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it's a timeless summer ritual, perhaps you were one of those kids who put a message in a bolt, hoping someone would find it and write you back. fair to say that most of them are lost to the sea, but on the jersey shore, one of those bottles, actually a jar, washed up during hurricane sandy, half a century after a young boy tossed it in the ocean. nbc's michelle franzen with what happened next. >> reporter: dennis combza waited nearly a lifetime to see this mason jar again and the note tucked inside. >> fragile. >> amazing, isn't it? >> reporter: amazing because it's been half a century since he cast the jar and letter into the ocean during a family vacation to new jersey's seaside heights. >> reminds me a lot about the time i spent at the shore. every august, we would go down there and remind you of all the things, all these things flash through your head. >> reporter: then just 12 years old, combza and his father wrote the note.
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>> "enclosed is 5 cents for the stamp." i said, "where did you find the bottle, date when found, how did you find it anything else which might help me?" >> reporter: nickel was included for the return stamp for the stranger who would find it. >> this is where the bottle was found. >> reporter: that stranger, norman stanton. he found the jar while sifting through piles of debris from superstorm sandy at his sister's home in seaside heights. >> finding and being a part of the history of seaside, i just feel privileged. >> reporter: pushed ashore by sandy's force and just a stone's throw away from where combza had thrown it out to sea all those years ago. >> if it wasn't for super storm sandy, the bottle wouldn't have been recovered. >> reporter: stanton and his sister, sharon, had a chance to meet combza this weekend and return the jar. >> this is, to me, memories of my childhood. >> reporter: much has changed since that august of 1963. >> did you think you'd have to wait 50 years?
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>> when you're a kid, you think anything's possible. >> reporter: a belief and a jar that holds a much bigger message for the jersey shore. >> to me, i think this is a message to seaside that the town can come back, if this can happen, anything can happen. >> reporter: new memories that have yet to be tossed and found. michelle franzen, nbc news, hillsborough, new jersey. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. look at 'em.
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good evening, i'm diane dwyer. terry mcsweeney is off tonight. police are looking for a pickup truck that was involved in a deadly hit-and-run last night. it was their alum avenue and hillary. >> the vick time is a 61-year-old man also seen in the neighborhood sitting at a bus stop. it happened just before 9:00


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