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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 28, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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and carrying giant ice cube looking things. >> every year we look and we say wow, we're out of shape. >> i would at least try it for charity, even if i couldn't. on this thursday night, breaking news. the former speaker of the house dennis hastert indicted for lying to the fbi. secret cash payments, millions of dollars to cover up past misconduct. who was he paying off and why? new evacuations and new rescues in texas as we see for ourselves the relentless force of the water tearing through homes and hear from a father about the heartbreaking final phone call from his daughter trapped in rising water. anthrax scare and what we have learned about other lethal parcels being routinely shipped across the country. and the hacking of america. when you're on a plane and you log on to the wi-fi, who else is seeing your private information? "nightly news" begins right now. >> from nbc news world
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headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news." reporting tonight, lester holt. >> good evening. we begin with breaking news of the federal indictment announced late this afternoon of a man who was once one of the most powerful politicians in this country. former speaker of the house dennis hastert charged tonight in connection with the scheme to pay more than $3 million of apparent hush money to someone and then lying to the fbi about the cash. the burning questions tonight are who is he paying and why? our justice correspondent pete williams has late details. >> reporter: the charges are a bolt from the blue involving dennis hastert, a public official for more than 25 years and house speaker from 1999 to 2007. the longest serving republican in that post. >> it stands approved. >> since 2008 he's been a lobbyist here in washington, but prosecutors say for the past four years he
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has paid $1.7 million in apparent hush money. court papers say the payments went to someone identified only as individual "a" from yorkville, illinois. the papers say he agreed to pay that person $3.5 million, quote, to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against individual "a" that occurred years earlier. the documents do not say what the prior misconduct was or whether individual "a" is a man or a woman. prosecutors say he started making withdrawals of $50,000 at a time, then cut them to $10,000 when questioned by the bank. prosecutors say when asked about whether he was trying to evade federal currency reporting requirements or cover something up, he denied having any improper purpose and suggested he didn't feel safe with the banking system. court papers say he told the fbi, quote, i kept the cash. that's what i'm doing. hastert faces two charges trying to evade federal requirements that banks report any transactions over $10,000 and lying to the fbi. as for yorkville, illinois, that's where he was a high school
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teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981. no comment tonight from him. lester. ness. >> pete williams tonight in washington thanks. unless you lived through it's so hard to imagine the amount, the speed and power of all of that water that tore through central texas communities and upended lives over the holiday weekend. but tonight as more severe thunderstorm and flood watches are posted in parts of that state, we're getting our best look yet at what it was like as floodwaters rushed into homes. nine of those people washed away that night are yet to be found. the death toll from oklahoma into central texas and as far south as houston is at least 23. nbc's gabe gutierrez reports tonight from wimberley, texas. >> oh, no! >> reporter: it was unstoppable. the wall of water bursting through the door. gushing into a living room. upending furniture, rising in seconds. while incredibly a terrified woman keeps recording with her
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cell phone. >> we could actually see what looked like barges going down the river. it was people's homes. >> reporter: chuck criswell lived in another home along the blanco river. >> looks like the water was going 500 miles an hour with debris flying by. >> reporter: today throughout texas, wild weather. near houston a family had to be rescued by boat. >> i have never seen it like this. >> reporter: in nearby wharton, texas, hundreds of residents evacuated, fearing more storms through the weekend. >> my light switch in my home, so when they say flood, i know to go. >> reporter: so much rain has drenched texas over the past month that it would be enough to flood all of rhode island under ten feet of water. it's taking a toll in tightknit design texas, where the family of alyssa ramirez just held her funeral. the homecoming queen and cheerleader was on
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her way back from prom when her car was swept away. >> i got a phone call from her at 2:45 in the morning when i'm asleep. and she wakes me up. and i say, honey, what's going on? dad, what do i do, my car -- my car has been hit with water. what do i do, what do i do? i said back the car up. i can't, the car is tipping. i said, i'm on my way. that's the last i got to speak to her. >> reporter: sadly, there is so much devastation across parts of texas tonight. authorities here in hays county say they have recovered the body of a young child, but it has not been identified. more rain is expected to slow the search effort through the weekend, lester. >> all right, gabe, thank you. the relentless rain while enormously destructive seemed to have helped reverse years of drought in texas. now the people of drought-stricken california are wondering are they in for an abrupt weather whiplash of their open from dry to deluge? our national correspondent miguel almaguer has more on
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what we learned today. >> stop, stop, stop. >> reporter: they call it weather whiplash. a year of historic floods, fires, tornados, snow and ice. now whipping from one wild extreme to another. in wichita falls, texas, it felt like the drought ended overnight. in just three weeks, much of the state has gone from extreme drought to crippling flood. lakes are fuller than they have been in five years. this was lake wichita just a few months ago. here it is again today. scientists say climate change is exacerbating the wild swings. >> the swings are getting wilder. climate change is stretching out the variability. >> reporter: in the last 30 days, 2.6 trillion gallons of water have filled texas reservoirs enough water to serve california for at least a year and a half. but still only a quarter of what california needs to end its drought. the golden state parched like never before.
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take this reservoir, for example. here atorville, the water level has dipped so low this hill and many others like it are no longer submerged, and that bring you see behind me, it used to be suspended just behind the water line. now it soars 200 feet above it. the governor says this is just the beginning. >> we are in a more severe drought, and severe drought, and it will get more severe. we can expect very severe flooding. >> reporter: with the powerful el nino suspected of bringing heavy rain to texas, experts say it could do the same to california. now bracing for fires and mudslides later this year. the weather whiplash, promising to bring even more dangerous and wild extremes. miguel almaguer, nbc news. there are some fast moving developments in the anthrax scare, lethal bacteria fedexed to labs in at least nine states and overseas. it's a shocking mistake.
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tonight more than two dozen people in the labs are taking drugs to protect themselves after potentially being exposed to live anthrax. and now we're learning about just how many dangerous agents are routinely being shipped across our nation. our national correspondent kate snow reports. >> reporter: anthrax is hard to kill. the pentagon tonight is focused on how the process of inactivating the anthrax at a utah facility may have gone wrong before it was shipped out to 19 labs in nine states using fedex. >> i can't believe that anthrax is being sent by fedex. >> reporter: but shipping dangerous biological agents is actually very common. so scientists can study disease and how to protect against a biological weapons attack. there are nearly 1,500 labs around the country allowed to handle active deadly microbes. nbc news has learned there were 300 shipments of live agents last year. usually via fedex. fedex says it has a flawless record in following all applicable regulations for shipping this sort of material. the cdc is leading the investigation into the army's error, but the
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cdc itself has come under fire from mishandling hazardous substances including anthrax, ebola and a deadly bird flu virus. >> i'm disappointed by what happened and frankly i'm angry about it. >> that volume of activity needs to be rolled back. >> reporter: a microbiologist told a congressional committee that there are too many labs handling this deadly material. today he told nbc news shipments of supposedly inactivated samples should be ended. the good news is no one has gotten sick from the army's shipments. the anthrax sent out was not as dangerous as the powdered anthrax sent through the mail in 2001, killing five people. >> this is very different from what happened in 2001 when an individual or more than one individual perhaps stuffed floatable, powdered anthrax into envelopes. >> reporter: this isn't the same thing? >> it is anthrax but in a different form. and it is less likely
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by far -- less likely to cause large-scale damage. >> reporter: the cdc is now asking the 19 labs that received shipments from utah to send them to atlanta for analysis using fedex. kate snow, nbc news, new york. let's turn now to the scandal shaking the world's most popular sport. the powerful head of the organization that controls international soccer defiant today, firing back after american authorities accused his top lieutenants of mafia-like corruption spanning decades. and he had a high-profile defender. peter alexander reports. >> reporter: under fire as never before. his top lieutenants indicted and facing calls for his resignation, sepp blatter deflected the responsibility. >> we or i cannot monitor everyone all of the time. if people want to do wrong, they will also
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try to hide it. >> reporter: blatter has not been indicted and is favored to win an unprecedented fifth term tomorrow, extending the 17-year reign and reputation as a survivor. >> in the past when there's been controversies or there's been investigations, many in fifa have fallen those of enemies, like a stalin istist purge. >> reporter: coming to his side today, vladimir putin. accusing america of meddling and trying to wrest away the 2018 world cup from russia. today the u.s. officials dismissed those allegations. >> reporter: federal authorities said executives pocketed at least $15,000 million in prescribes and kickbacks. fifa takes in billions in soccer revenue worldwide. sponsors and commercial partners paid fifa more than $1.6 billion and among them big household names. visa which signed a $170 million deal to
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sponsor the world cup through 2022 is demanding fifa take swift and immediate steps to address the issues. threatening to reassess its sponsorship if fifa doesn't clean up its act. money drying up would hit fifa where it hurts and tonight federal authorities tell nbc news there are more indictments coming. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. there is a big mystery unfolding tonight on the beach in some of the most popular surf cities in america. beaches shut down for miles in southern california. hermosa beach, manhattan beach and redondo beach where balls of tar, some the size of footballs, are washing ashore and nobody knows why or where it's coming from. nbc's hallie jackson is there. >> reporter: six patties of oily tar line some of southern california's most popular beaches. 6 1/2 miles of shoreline closed to sunbathers and surfers. >> this is our beach. we spend a huge amount of time out here and to see our backyards
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get fouled like this is really heartbreaking. >> reporter: clean-up crews are collecting the clumps. enough to fill ten pickup trucks. holding the tar balls feels like holding dough or putty. people around here say when they wash up typically they're the size of a quarter, but you can see how much bigger these are. >> this is just a tragedy to see this much oil washing ashore. i have never seen a dense combination of oil balls on the beach. >> reporter: the question is why, and where are they coming from? could be part of the leak coming off the ships or refineries along the coast. officials say it's possible but not probable the clumps are coming from last week's 100,000-gallon oil spill in santa barbara where they're racing to save animals caught up in the slick. more than 50 birds and sea lions so far. down the coast, the tar balls haven't hurt any wildlife where on the beach, cleanup continues, the mystery
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still unsolved. testing samples of the tar balls could take a few days or a few weeks. workers here say they haven't noticed any new clumps washed ashore late this afternoon, so if the beaches do reopen lester in, time for the weekend, can you bet they look a lot busier than they do right now. >> all right, hallie jackson, thank you. on the campaign trail the crowded race for the republican nomination grew even larger today with former new york governor george pataki formally announcing his candidacy. that brings the number of declared contenders on the gop side to eight with several more still expected to jump in, including well-known names like jeb bush. still ahead tonight, the hacking of america. even on a plane. you log in to the wi-fi potentially giving other people access to everything that's private on your computer or phone. how to protect yourself before your next flight coming up.
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we are back now with our series the hacking of america. we reported in the past on the dangers of logging in to public wi-fi systems that could be set up by hackers and cyber crooks, but security experts are starting to sound a warning about accessing it through the plane's wi-fi system. who else can see your information on your phone or computer? here's tom costello. >> reporter: if you have flown at all over the past several years there's a good chance you have gone surfing at 30,000 feet. you may have assumed that the plane's wi-fi is safe and secure,
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but is it really? sophos security chief james line says treat it like any other public wi-fi. >> it doesn't matter if they're encrypted or not. when you connect to them you're handing over your destiny of the internet connection to some unknown stranger. >> reporter: because that airline wi-fi is usually being offered by a third party through which anyone can gain access to your phone or computer. even someone sitting next to you. >> this is the first screen i noticed that something was out of the ordinary. >> reporter: it was a red alert like this one that greeted shawn murphy on a recent flight, his computer warning him the plane's wi-fi connection wasn't secure. >> if i were to access my e-mail or if i were to access pictures, they would have gotten all that information. they would have gotten my user name and password potentially and then the data coming back from there. >> reporter: one of largest inflight wi-fi providers gogo
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inflight, they say it's secure. but once you're surfing the web that connection is not encrypted. past the purchase point, gogo operates similar to any hot spot on the ground. in other words, you may be as vulnerable to hackers in the air as you are on land. you could protect yourself on public wi-fis, say the pros, by using something called a vpn. a virtual private network that takes your information, puts it into a bubble and encrypts it. experts say when you're using public wi-fi on a plane or a coffee shop, avoid accessing your bank account information and sensitive e-mails and for that matter any social media sites with your private information and your photos. >> the reality is that cybercrime is entirely opportunistic. every time you connect to the internet you're a target. >> reporter: even at 30,000 feet it's best to assume you're always being watched. tom costello, nbc news, somewhere over the east coast. up next tonight, hundreds of students that took the s.a.t.s are now told they have to take them all over again. you're not going to believe why.
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of 100 high school students in virginia who are being told they have to take the s.a.t.s all over again. not because of a cheating allegation, but because school officials say the tests are missing. lost in the mail when they were shipped to be graded. as you can imagine, students and parents are not happy. the s.a.t.s are going to be no match for this group of kids when they're old enough to take them. ten of the smartest kids in the country are competing this evening in the final round of the scripps national spelling bee outside of washington, d.c. see which one of them can spell "v-i-c-t-o-r-y. and for first time in 40 years the golden state warriors are going to the nba finals. they will face the cleveland cavaliers. that means we'll get to keep watching one of the biggest stars in action. we don't mean mvp steph curry, but his
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2-year-old daughter riley who keeps stealing the post-game shows. great deals on everything from clothes to ipads but the catch is it might already be your stuff.
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finally tonight,
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the summer travel season is traditionally when airlines lose luggage. most often. nearly all of it is returned eventually, but the rest of it once it disappears into the baggage bermuda triangle could still turn up later for a price. nbc's janet shamlian has the story. >> reporter: it's like a well-stocked department store. designer clothing, cases of jewelry. and from iphones to headphones, every model made. >> it's the best thing ever. >> reporter: best of all, bargain prices. >> $164 it would be probably $600. >> reporter: but one person's deal is another's loss. >> maybe some of my things are in here somewhere. hopefully not. >> reporter: in rural alabama, hours from any major airport, this tourist destination is the last stop for lost luggage. >> we actually buy unclaimed baggage from planes, trains, automobiles, sight unseen.
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>> reporter: airlines say 99% of the bags like these are returned, and the rest with no identification end up here. so do the glasses or ipad you left in the seat back pocket. last year they sold 3,400 forgotten ipads, 5,000 cameras, 40,000 pair of shoes. >> it's always interesting to see what they have here. >> reporter: shoppers like jerry brown can't stay away. how often do you come? >> just about every day. everything i got on comes from here. >> reporter: you could supply an orchestra with musical instruments. several tennis teams with these racquets. how long will you spend in here today? >> well, we allotted ourselves an hour. >> reporter: is that going to do it? >> no. >> reporter: from wedding gowns to the bridesmaid dresses that might not be as missed, to the what is it category, more than just a bargain, it's a slice of current culture through the lens of our luggage. janet shamlian, nbc news, scottboro, alabama. that'll do it for
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this us on this thursday night. i'm lester holt. from all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. it's a basic human right. you should have x-amount of water. >> a new battleground in the fight over water, as the south bay's largest water supplier begins mandatory rationing. some are crying foul. good evening, thanks for being with us i'm raj mathai. >> i'm janelle wang in for jessica aguirre. after backlash from customers on a one-size-fits-all washington rationing plan the largest water company in the south bay has changed its tune. the new plan bigger families will be given more water. but our water worries could soon
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be easing a bit. we have team coverage tonight. team meteorologist jeff ranieri is looking at the possibility of an el nino. we begin with kimberly tere live in san jose with more on these water rationing rules for south bay families. kimberly? >> reporter: the san jose water company says during a drought, everyone needs to do their fair share but also make sure that everyone is getting a fair shake. so, they are holding a hearing in less than an hour for the public to make sure that they are on the right track. starting in mid-june san jose residents can expect some changes on their water bill. >> everybody is going to have one number that is going to be their target their allocation. should they go over that there will be some surcharges they will have to pay. >> reporter: the san jose water company's program sets a monthly target based on a family of four, since that's the average size household in its service area but many complain that larger families were being unfairly targeted so the water company decided that households of more than four people can petition for more

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