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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 16, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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on this saturday night, u.s. forces enter syria and take out a senior member of isis. >> at risk millions under threat of tornados as violent weather tears the middle of the country. >> new twist in the amtrak investigation. the fbi examines whether multiple trains were hit by objects before the deadly derailment. >> right hook former republican presidential candidate mitt romney throws his hat into another ring. >> and true colors the elephant making a name for herself, a portrait of the most unusual artist.
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good evening. the white house tonight says it has dealt the islamic state a blow, killing a senior isis leaded in a dramatic operation overnight. delta force commandos flew from iraq into eastern syria, the heart of isis territory, and killed a man identified as abu sayyat, identified as the isis chief financial officer. nbc's richard engel is in turkey tonight and has more on this daring raid. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, carl. this was incredibly risky. it's only the second time u.s. special operations forces have launched a raid in isis territory in syria. a u.s. official said he was on pins and needles until the commandos were out. u.s. military officials say american delta force commandos took off from northern iraq in black hawk helicopters and osprey aircraft like these. and flew deep into isis-controlled
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territory in eastern syria, into deir al-zour. no allies on the ground. if the u.s. forces were captured they risked unimaginable horrors. a jordanian pilot captured by isis was burned alive. u.s. officials say the american's target, abu sayyat, was a top isis money man, managed isis' oil and gas income and was close personally close to the isis leader al baghdadi. >> he did not go quietly. there was a gunfight and hand-to-hand fighting. abu sayyat was killed along with a dozen other fighters. >> the fact the united states was willing to mount a skap chur -- capture mission to grab him shows he was important in the infrastructure itself. >> reporter: the u.s. commandos left unharmed, take with them abu sayyat's wife known as umm sayyat. u.s. officials allege she helped manage hostages taken by isis. the delta forces also
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freed an ethnic yazidi woman held by the couple as a slave. the raid was bold and risky. it could yield intelligence, but it's unlikely to change the overall battle. isis this week pushed further into the iraq city of ramadi and then partially withdrew. isis is now also fighting its way into the ancient syrian city of palmyra, threatening to destroy it. this operation sent a very clear message to isis that even its safe havens, the places where its leaders can hide inside syria, aren't completely secure. and we're told that woman who is now in u.s. custody, the wife, she is talking. she's being debriefed by u.s. military and u.s. intelligence officials. >> richard engel in istanbul tonight, richard, thanks. an egyptian court sentenced former president mohamed morsi to death today for escaping from prison during the 2011 arab spring uprising.
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more than a hundred others were sentenced to the same fate. morsi egypt's first freely elected leader, was ousted by the military in 2013 following days of mass protests. back in this country, millions in the south and midwest are under the threat of tornadoes and thunderstorms tonight. it's yet another round of severe weather for part of the country that's already had its fair share over the past few days. nbc's john yang reports. >> reporter: overnight, flashes of lightning in southwest nebraska as torrential rain and hail pummelled the area. in neighboring states, tornadoes were reported in colorado. >> yeah, that's a tornado right there. >> reporter: and in wyoming where this mobile home was completely destroyed. a tornado also touched down in south texas. parts of that drought-ridden state experiencing a week of heavy rain that overflowed swimming pools and left some drivers stranded. in northern texas, crews have been working to contain this massive sink hole in granbury. it opened up after a storm drain collapsed a week ago. heavy rains are blamed for opening up this
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sink hole which has now grown to more than 40 feet wide and more than 40 feet deep, with more heavy rain forecast for tonight. officials fear it could grow even bigger. crews are racing the clock. >> it's so unusual for us, because we don't have these kinds of disasters. to have this much rain is really out of the ordinary. >> reporter: rain has also been affecting lake levels. more than 10 inches at lake ray roberts in just two weeks. >> if you were standing anywhere in that basin you would be standing in about 10 inches of water. that of course runs off and we capture that in this reservoir. >> reporter: the floodgates are open to alleviate the pressure as residents are being warned of possible evacuations. >> without this project you would have had serious flooding in the dallas-fort worth area. >> reporter: tonight from texas to the plains, millions are bracing for more severe weather. john yang, nbc news, granbury, texas.
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for more on what we can expect from here on out let's bring in weather channel meteorologist kelly cass. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, carl. we're looking at more than 20 million americans under the threat of severe weather tonight, including the possibility of dangerous long-lived tornados. all the ingredients coming in, the moisture from the gulf of mexico, strong disturbance coming in out of the rockies as well. and with that, we'll have large hail, damaging winds or even the possibility of long-track tornados. we're looking at the plains where the storms have been breaking out today from nebraska, through oklahoma and texas. our tornado chances are running pretty high, especially across central oklahoma as we go through later on tonight. so if you live in the red zone, anywhere from the dakotas and minnesota all the way down into texas, you need to be on high alert tonight for the possibility of tornadoes. you could certainly lose your power. then that threat shifts toward the east tomorrow. so sunday looks to be a very active day. minneapolis, chicago, st. louis and still dallas not out of the threat yet as we head into the second half
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of the weekend. so have a way to get those warnings. back to you, carl. >> good advice. kelly cass with the weather channel. thanks. officials in nepal have found the bodies of six u.s. marines and two nepali soldiers who were killed when their military helicopter crashed during an earthquake relief mission. the crew had reported a fuel problem but it remains unclear what caused the crash. as u.s. investigators study that deadly amtrak derailment in philadelphia, forensic teams are looking at the train's windshield to determine if it was hit by a projectile just before the crash. amtrak says it's not uncommon for trains to be hit by people throwing rocks. nbc's tom costello has the latest. >> reporter: the question investigators are asking tonight, were multiple trains hit by projectiles just before amtrak 188 derailed tuesday night. at 9:10 p.m., septa regional train 769's engineer reported something had hit his train.
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>> -- put out a text saying that train was shot at so use caution. >> reporter: septa now says it probably wasn't a gunshot. five minutes earlier another incident on southbound train coming through that same area, a car window shattered. >> there was a -- the window had shattered. apparently there was a rock thrown at our car. >> reporter: now the fbi is looking at this fist-sized impact on the windshield of the derailed amtrak train. the possibility the train 188 was targeted, perhaps by rock throwers, not surprising says a former ntsb chairman. >> unfortunately, we're familiar through previous accident investigations with potential sabotage of various types of transportation activity. >> reporter: engineer brandon bostian told investigators he doesn't know what happened just before his train derailed. >> he reported he does not have any recollection of anything past north philadelphia. >> reporter: that's when the train began
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speeding up to 106 miles per hour. a close friend for 20 years talked to bostian while he was still in the e.r. >> he sounded like he was in shock. and he didn't understand. and his memory was very fuzzy. he was having a hard time remembering things. >> reporter: meanwhile today, services in new york for 39-year-old rachel jacobs, a ceo, a wife and mother. and a wake for 47-year-old real estate executive laura finamore who was on her way home to new york from washington. also tonight, the federal railroad administration is ordering amtrak to take immediate steps to improve safety along the northeast corridor, especially they're looking for technology that will automatically slow speeding trains. the technology exists. it was not in place on this stretch of northeast corridor. and also more speed limit signs up and down the corridor. they're not as common as you might think. back to you, carl. >> tom costello in philadelphia tonight, tom, thank you. tonight marathon bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev is back at a federal detention facility outside of
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boston where he'll be held until a formal sentencing hearing in a few months. the sentence of death penalty is not legally binding until a judge officially orders it. at that time victims and their families will be able to address tsarnaev directly. he'll then be moved to another prison and his lawyers will begin an appeal process that could last more than a decade. most of the republican presidential contenders are in iowa today for one of the party's biggest gatherings so far this election season. despite the wide field, attention remains focused on jeb bush after a week in which he could not escape the spotlight. nbc's senior correspondent chris jansing is in des moines for us tonight. chris, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, carl, this is a big deal for the iowa republican party. it's a major fundraiser but also a major opportunity for the presidential candidates to make their case in a room full of 1300 political activists. on the stage behind me tonight, ten men, one woman. they'll each get ten minutes to make their case at the end of
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what for many has been a very long day on the campaign trail. jeb bush arrived in iowa in full campaign mode. speaking to a generally friendly crowd at a catholic college. following a week of stumbling over questions about the war in iraq. >> governor bush, are you concerned that we have a bad name? >> we'll talk afterwards. i'm not concerned. did you have a bad week? i didn't. >> reporter: in an hour-long town haul in dubuque, the iraq controversy was the first question from the audience. >> i misstepped for sure. i answered a question that wasn't asked. >> reporter: the question tonight is, will any of the ten other hopefuls on stage at the lincoln dinner bring it up? >> politics is a contact sport and it is a full contact sport. obviously there'll be elbows thrown. will there be tonight? i don't know. >> reporter: bush has been reserving his own fire for the democratic frontrunner. >> hillary clinton has been a presidential candidate now for a month and she's had 13 questions asked by the press. >> reporter: he claims he's answered as many as 800 or 900. those here are feeling neglected by bush. iowans are very much down to -- they like authenticity. they like to be able to know, get to know,
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to touch, be close to the people and do i like this person. >> reporter: of the other hopefuls on stage tonight, rick perry has come to iowa the most this election cycle. 27 days according "the des moines register". scott walker had two events today. this is his eighth visit. even perennial tease donald trump has been to iowa a few times. and until now, jeb bush has been here twice. the but he doesn't seem worried. >> how do you distinguish yourself? >> i don't know. haven't given it any thought yet. >> not a thought to tonight at all? >> no, i will do that in the afternoon. it will be fun. >> reporter: but standing out is the central challenge for republicans in the race where by the time of the first debate in august there could be 20 candidates. already this weekend, the republican national committee is talking about how many they'll allow to participate in those debates. carl?
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>> chris jansing in des moines tonight, chris, thanks so much. tonight those republican candidates have launched a new line of attack against democratic frontrunner hillary clinton. a report filed by the clinton campaign shows that she and her husband have made tens of millions of dollars since the beginning of 2014. nbc white house correspondent kristen welker has more. >> reporter: hillary clinton's cash is coming under fresh scrutiny today after she filed her federal campaign financial disclosure late yesterday showing she and husband bill clinton earned more than $30 million over the past 16 months. her book "hard choices" netted more than $5 million. but the bulk of the money, $25 million, came from paid speeches to dozens of large corporations. among them xerox, deutsche bank and g.e. republicans charged the hefty sums and special interests raise troubling questions. >> you're looking at companies that know that she's going to run for president and are still paying her to give these speeches. >> reporter: the
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clinton campaign says everything was done by the books and the charge of favoritism is unfounded. still, the disclosures complicate the candidate's attempt to cast herself as a champion for working class americans. it's something she struggled with before. last year, clinton was heavily criticized for saying this. >> we came out of the white house not only dead broke but in debt. >> reporter: and bill clinton hasn't exactly helped. recently raising eyebrows in an interview with nbc's cynthia mcfadden. >> she's now running for president. will you continue to give speeches? >> oh, yeah. i got to pay our bills. >> reporter: campaign officials note that clintons paid federal tax at a 30% rate last year and argue hillary clinton's policy positions favor working class americans. a message she'll try to focus on instead of her finances when she campaigns in iowa next week. kristen welker, nbc news, washington. >> and this will no doubt be a big topic tomorrow morning on "meet the press "when chuck todd speaks to republican presidential candidate senator rand paul.
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when "nightly news" continues on this saturday, mitt romney is no stranger to bruising battles. but his latest opponent is a real heavy hitter. up next, how luck lucky the elephant is living up to her name.
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we're back with an elephant named lucky overcoming obstacles.
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her story from cambodia. >> reporter: slowly but surely lucky the elephant is striding back to fitness, though nick marks had feared for the worst. >> the really bad times i was thinking she's going to die. >> reporter: she's been battling a rare and usually fatal elephant virus supported by passionate keepers for whom she has been a symbol for conservation. >> she's kind of the iconic animal of the rescue center, the star of the show really. everybody loves lucky and was asking about her every day. >> reporter: now 15 years old she was found abandoned at six months, her mother likely killed by poachers. she was reared by keepers at this cambodian wildlife rescue center, home to 1200 animals rescued from illegal wildlife traders. lucky grew into a gentle giant, acting at times as a surrogate mother to other injured elephants. her keepers were devastated when she fell ill earlier this year. >> i was sleeping in a hammock along with keepers beside lucky every night. >> reporter: she stopped eating.
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and the $40,000 cost of her treatment quickly drained the resources of the rescue center and savings. but lucky has another rare skill as an artist. she's been taught to paint. as money ran low, the new york-based wildlife alliance which supports the center raised money for her treatment by auctioning two of her paintings. early this month, the first signs of recovery flapping her ears, throwing dust an eating again. >> we're just happy that there's progress at last we look like we're winning. >> reporter: during our visit, she raised a paint brush for the first time in weeks, slapping on the paint. >> this is a sign that lucky really is on the mend. this is it. >> reporter: marks cautions there have been ups and downs before. but for now -- >> there's a smile on everybody's face again and on lucky's face as you can see. >> reporter: ian williams, nbc news, cambodia. still ahead, a group of u.s. sailors who are making history today.
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it wasn't exactly mayweather versus pacquiao in salt lake city last night when former republican presidential candidate mitt romney faced off against evander holyfield in a charity boxing match. romney even knocked the five-time heavyweight champion to the mat at one point. although it was more show than sport, they went two rounds with the bout raising more than $1 million for an organization benefitting the blind.
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former president george w. bush gave the commencement speech at southern methodist university in texas this afternoon. it was his first graduation address since leaving the white house. the 43rd president had some words of wisdom for the class of 2015. >> those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions, i say well done. and as i like to tell the c students, you too can be president. [ cheers and applause ] today yet another sign of improved relations between the u.s. and cuba. a group of u.s. sailors boarded their catamarans and left key west, florida this morning on a 90-mile journey to havana. next week they'll take part in the first sailing race between the u.s. and cuba in more than 50 years. just a short time ago, kentucky derby winner american pharoah won the preakness stakes, keeping alive his bid for the triple crown. despite driving rain and a sloppy track, the colt cruised to victory. if american pharoah
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pulls out a win at the belmont, he'll become the first triple crown winner since 1978. up next, an alternative to mars that's much closer to home.
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we end tonight with an ad campaign that's really down to earth. by now you may have heard that thousands of people have volunteered for a one-way trip to mars, despite the lack of survivable conditions. that has the people of one state asking, why travel to mars when you can do the
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midwest? here's nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: south dakota's a roomy place. more cows than people, according to the census bureau. >> we need more south dakota citizens. we need to grow our population base. we need people. >> reporter: to attract them and the economic boost they bring, a new ad campaign pits the state against the final frontier. >> progressive, productive, and abundant in oxygen. why die on mars? when you can live in south dakota? >> reporter: it's a tongue in cheek play at the private mars one project proposed trip to the red planet with no chance of return. 200,000 have already signed up. jimmy fallon found the state's strategy funny. >> you know you're struggling when your slogan says, "south dakota slightly better than dead." >> reporter: mars mania is mixed in the
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southwest pavilions. >> i'm looking forward to seeing if there's any aliens. >> what do you think they'd look like? >> green with only one eye or three eyes. >> does anything about mars intrigue you? >> no. >> what do you think the food's like on mars? >> kind of like slimy. >> reporter: who needs to go to mars when you can go cosmic bowling right here in south dakota? and hold the red planet in the palm of your hands. ooh! >> why would you move to mars and not south dakota? >> you're not expecting any little green men? >> no. although some of our employers would take just about anything at this point. >> reporter: south dakota's motto is great faces, great places. these days, they just want more faces. kevin tibbles, nbc news, sioux falls. >> that is ""nbc nightly news"" for this saturday. i'm carl quintanilla reporting from new york. for all of us here at "nbc nightly news," good night.
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right now at 6:00 tens of thousands of people and the city of san francisco getting ready for beta breakers. and the traffic problems are already popping up. good evening, everyone.
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i'm terry mcsweeney. >> i'm peggy bunker. ready or not, here they come. a big race across san francisco. beta breakers kicks off in 14 hours. christy is live at fort mason. you have already seen a lot of traffic out there. people can expect a hole lot more. >> that's right. it took us quite a while to cross town. you'll find many of the participants here long-time runners and folks who say, look they have never done it before. it was on their bucket list. they wanted to try it. and this was their year. runners were able to pick up their race tickets at the zap poepos.com. organizers are expecting 50,000 people. it's wacky, colorful with costumes or not. this year they expect to set the most records like the longest single handed conga line. alcohol is not allowed on the

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