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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  September 24, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> they want to come to the studio and get the tour of the weather center, i have it open. >> really generous. that's a great idea. >> thanks for joining us. lester holt joins us next with nightly news. breaking news tonight -- pope francis arrives in new york city. crowds lining the streets and heavy security as the pope delivers a prayer to the faithful at st. patrick's cathedral after his historic address to a joint meeting of congress. tonight the striking message he delivered. so developing news of a fatal collision on a bridge in seattle. a violent crash involving a packed charter bus and amphibious tour boat. we have late details. stampede horror. staggering toll, at least 700 dead, 800 injured as disaster strikes again in one of the world's holiest places. breaking a scandal. the small teen from an american university that discovered a shocking secret and brought the world's largest automaker to its knees. "nightly news" begins right now.
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pope francis in america, this is nbc "nightly news with lester holt." >> good evening. to our viewers in the west. we are back in new york tonight virtually outside our 30 rock studios and witnessing the massive crowds lining fifth avenue right now outside st. patrick's cathedral, awaiting the arrival of pope francis. many stood for hours with a ring of security. inside the cathedral, 500 people are among those joining francis for an evening vespers service which wrapped up a short time ago. francis landed at kennedy airport to start the second
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airport to start the second leg of his american tour but not before delivering an emotional appeal to the heart for a place better known for bare-knuckled politics. let's begin below us. nbc's anne thompson outside the cathedral where the crowd is finally disbursing. >> reporter: what a night for new york and pope francis. as his pope mobile came down fifth avenue under what was unprecedented security, tens of thousands of people lined one of the country's most famous streets and then he went inside for a service. inside were nuns and brothers and prominent people. new york governor andrew cuomo, former secretary of state henry kissinger, and new york mayor bill de blasio. in a speech, the mope made
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another reference to the sex abuse scandal, saying he accompanies them in their time of pain. he said to the sisters in this country i love you and that meant a lot to them. lester, back to you. >> anne thompson, thanks. let's go 20 blocks north where the pope is staying for the night on manhattan's upper east side. ron allen is there. what's the scene like? >> reporter: it is quite something. there's a huge army of new york city police, you can see behind me there. the townhouse where the pope is staying is down the street 50 yards from where i am standing in the darkness over there. there was a huge police operation a few minutes ago, a large motorcade came up into the area. it is unclear whether the pope is there or not, getting back to this area, there are no crowds here at all, purely a police security operation. crowds were here earlier today. once the prayer service got under way at saint patrick's cathedral not far from here, the crowds moved back.
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the pope came up fifth avenue heading this direction, crowds were moved far back. purely a police operation here. scores upon scores of officers, helicopters overhead. at this point it appears the pope is very near the residence if not there already, hard to see in the darkness what's going on. lester, back to you. >> all right, ron. from our vantage point we believe he made his way to the residence. the day began in the nation's capital, he spoke in washington, then blessed meals for hundreds of the homeless at a catholic charities event. earlier he viewed a statue of the controversial figure the poen canonized at mass yesterday. what may have been the image of the day, emerged from a balcony, offering blessings to a crowd of tens of thousands below. he made history again, becoming the first pope to address a joint meeting of congress. a powerful speech in which he
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essentially challenged our leaders to live up to the values on which this country was built. we asked tom brokaw to take us through this historic day. >> reporter: pope francis wenltd before congress not as a republican or democrat or independent but as a moral authority, the vicker of christ. in our season of discontent, when division riles the landscape, and war and deprivation fill the screens, he brout challenges to america's moral authority. >> we the people of this country are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners. we must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible
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as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our neighbors. >> reporter: congress, the famously contentious body listened respectively as francis turned to global warming. >> the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all. >> reporter: the pope also addressed america's great wealth, the concentration of riches in a small percentage of the population. >> now is the time for courageous action and strategies aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combatting poverty. >> reporter: just when congressional conservatives may have thought there was nothing for them, the family and by
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extension no endorsement of same-sex marriage. >> fundamental relations are being called into question as is the very basis of marriage and the family. i can only reiterate the importance and above all the richness and the beauty of family life. [ applause ] >> reporter: pope francis is the holy father to catholics, the charismatic figure to other faiths and nonbelievers alike, and a humble man with a powerful voice. >> god bless america. >> reporter: tom brokaw reporting for us tonight. our capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell was in the house chamber for the speech. what was it like inside? >> reporter: lester, it was strikingly different than the many speeches i heard from presidents and other world leaders. sure it was history, but it was the pope's presence and message
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that seemed to quiet the usual competition and jump to their feet, compete for points when each party thought they heard something they liked. today it was dignified, respectful, but there was also energy and emotion. some wiping tears, others brought rosaries to be blessed, for john boehner, house speaker, this was the cap of his career. he had been trying 20 years to have a pope come to the capitol. there were several senators running for president who were listening and also a couple of the other candidates, dr. ben carson, chris christie, in cheap seats at the back of the chamber. i talked to them. they said it was good to get away from politics and focus on a message of faith. lester? >> all right, kelly. you think about it, the pope taking the podium, flanked by our first catholic vice president, our catholic speaker of the house, john boehner, who has tried for 20 years to get a pope to visit congress. no surprise that a lawmaker known for showing his emotions found himself wiping away tears.
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for a moment, a law making body known for partisan feuding came together, soon as the pope waded into hot button issues, we saw signs of differences come through. chuck todd watched it closely. what were your take aways? >> on the political front, tom covered it well when he noted there was something for everybody in there, and everybody's ideology. to me, the larger message that i am curious to see if it will last among members of congress was this message that he had of the common good, pragmatism, he was basically lecturing those 535 members of congress on polarization, and he didn't say it that way, he talked about -- he used examples of other americans in our history who have used democracy for good, so he was really sort of preaching to the better angels of everybody in that room, and you can't help but wonder, lester, he's not obviously paying
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attention to our day to day politics, but we are six days away from possible government shutdown. i am wondering if there's enough hangover from the pope in a positive way that it actually makes members of both sides go to their better angels and make sure this doesn't happen. >> interesting thought, chuck todd, thanks. we want to tell you about other news, including a developing situation in seattle. a deadly wreck on a bridge between a packed charter bus and a tour boat vehicle. at least four people are dead. dozens hurt including some in critical condition. nbc's morgan radford has late details. >> reporter: just before noon, a charter tour bus filled with students collided with a popular duck tour vehicle crowded with tourists. nearly 100 first responders rushed to reach the horrific scene on a seattle bridge. a triage was set up to rescue the trapped and treat the injured. at least 50 people were evaluated. the scene so chaotic, one victim rushed to the hospital breaking through an ongoing press conference. >> this is a very fluid situation.
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>> some of the challenges is the fluidity of the incident and amount of people that need our help simultaneously. >> reporter: the open-air vehicle hit the bus reducing it to a twisted chunk of metal. >> full speed hit the side of that bus. people on the bus flew through the front windshield. >> reporter: in a statement from ride the duck seattle, the company expressed condolences, but said the cause of this accident is not known. on the bus, 45 students and employees from a local college. many international students getting ready to start the school year. >> we had a terrible tragedy. there's been a terrible loss of life and injuries. our thoughts, the thoughts and prayers of this city go out to everyone. >> reporter: duck tours is a popular tourist attraction. the boat is designed to travel on the roads as well as water so the hull is stronger than most buses. but without seat belts. this isn't the first time a crash like this has happened.
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a july 2010 duck tour accident in philadelphia sent 37 people into the water. the national transportation safety board is sending in a team to investigate. so far, at least four people are reported dead and eight more are this critical condition. duck tours has since suspended operations. >> thank you. overseas today, a terrible tragedy in saudi arabia where muslims from around the world gathered for the annual pilgrimage known as the hajj a stampede left hundreds crushed to death in mecca. over the years, one of the deadliest. we get details from kelly cobiella. >> reporter: it happened in just a few chaotic moments. massive crowds, confusion, then a stampede that left more than 700 people dead. rescuers struggled to reach hundreds more injured. this woman, still in shock, says
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she thinks her husband is dead. california lawyer and his wife were in a crowd nearby. >> from our perspective, crowd control was almost nonexistent. nobody was telling us anything. >> reporter: two million muslims are in mecca for the hajj, the annual pilgrimage muslims are all expected to make. at least once in their lives. >> we are here to pray for god. >> reporter: it happened near mecca's grand mosque leading to a site known as the pillars where pilgrims throw stone, a symbolic stoning of the devil. eyewitnesses said the crowds tried to leave the way they came. in the crush, people were climbing over one another just to breathe. along with a crane collapse two weeks ago, today's tragedy is the latest in a series of deadly accidents related to the hajj, leaving more than 3,700 dead since 1990. saudi arabia has spent billions
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on security and infrastructure, but the crowds get bigger every year. tonight saudi king solomon expressed condolences and ordered an investition as hundreds of thousands continue their pilgrimage and pray for the injured and dead. kelly cobiella,nbc news, london. a lot more news still ahead tonight. the growing scandal rocking the biggest automaker in the world. we hear from the small team of teachers and students in west virginia that made a shocking discovery about volkswagen.
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we are back with more fallout from the scandal consuming volkswagen. the company announcing today that the head of its porsche unit is replacing the ceo who resigned yesterday, but the world may never have learned of volkswagen's deception if it weren't for a team of researchers who blew the lid off. their leader is speaking out. janet shamlian has our report. >> reporter: at a small lab at west virginia university, a team of just five engineering students and teachers led by dan carter became whistle-blowers. on a shoe string budget, they discovered the emissions cheating that will cost volkswagen billions and could threaten its very survival.
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>> we were surprised to see the numbers after we collected they were so high offcycle emission performance seen in the past and results in a voluntary recall and the situation is corrected. >> reporter: tonight automakers are racing to distance themselves from volkswagen, including mercedes and bmw, which issued this statement. "the bmw group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests." dealerships across the country are being inundated with calls from owners of the affected cars. will their vehicles be recalled or how will they be fixed? for now there are no answers. >> it's a wait-and-see. we are waiting for volkswagen to tell us so we can tell them. >> reporter: the number of lawsuits are growing by the hour as the justice department opens a criminal investigation. the researchers say they're stunned. their findings led to admission of intentional
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cheating by volkswagon. >> no one would consider emissions testing glamorous, but this brought five of us into a spotlight no one would have dreamt of. >> reporter: a small study that uncovered a worldwide deception bringing an automaker to its knees. janet shamlian, nbc news, houston. back in a moment with the latest on donald triumphant is he about to put one of his major feuds to rest, even as another heats up?
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another feud is heating up between donald trump and a republican opponent. this time it's marco rubio. today rubio called trump "insecure" and "touchy" after trump said rubio is like a kid who shouldn't be in the race. on another trump feud front, he and fox news may be on the brink of a truce again over their reignited war. trump spoke with fox news ceo today. the two will meet next week over what trump claims has been unfair coverage. neighbors are out of their homes tonight after a suspected gas explosion tore through half
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a dozen townhouses in columbia, maryland, injuring two people including a gas company employee on the scene trying to fix a leak. flames shot high into the air and took firefighters four hours to get the fire under control. president obama will meet with russian president vladimir putin in new york monday during the u.n. general assembly. the white house says putin requested the meeting. the kremlin says it was a mutual agreement. reportedly, putin wants to talk about syria while president obama wants to address the ukraine crisis. the two haven't come face-to-face since november. about an hour after pope francis left washington today, another world leader arrived. the president of china xi jinping greeted by vice president biden. tomorrow night a state dinner
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with lobster on the menu. >> the act of kindness that brought tears to a man who feared he missed his chance to see the pope. next at 6:a benecia family
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missing for weeks. ===take vo=== the new clues about what happened to them. ===raj/take vo=== plus: the valley fire evacuation center is closing its doors. so where does everyone go now? ===next close=== the news is next. ==take sot== last bite in 5p jodi pkg "they take a little piece of your heart with them."
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a look inside st. patrick's cathedral here in new york city. pope francis took part in a prayer service. they have come from far and wide to be in new york and greet pope francis a trip that has taken many across several states, even several countries. a journey about much more than just getting here. it's about being here, in the moment. nbc's miguel almaguer reports. >> reporter: they have come from around the world, the young and old, catholics and the curious. the pilgrimage is personal. saul came from denver with a dream. >> i was just standing there hoping someone might sell me a ticket or something and he gave to it me. >> and i have one for me and god tell me, no, no, give it to him. >> reporter: the walker family is driven by their faith. they cram their four children
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into this van way back in argentina. >> we are a very common family and we live our faith very naturally. we think it's about being better people. >> reporter: with tickets to see their pope, the pilgrimage took six months, 14,000 miles through 13 different countries. >> we are thankful for that. >> reporter: hosted by strangers, it's been as much about the journey as the destination. >> we are learning a lot. mostly about sharing, about trusting people. it's been a transforming trip. >> reporter: celebrating three birthdays on the road, surviving four breakdowns on the side of it. this has been a life lesson in family and faith. 3-year-old carmine was blessed by the pope when she was a baby. now the walkers are praying for another divine encounter. >> this is the trip of our lives and that the six of us will remember it forever. >> reporter: a journey finding faith, family and friends along the path to the pope.
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miguel almaguer, nbc news. >> that will do it for us on this thursday night. i am lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. victims of the valley fire. but tonight -- no more. an emotional moment as evacuees move one step closer to getting back home. ====short open=== ===2-shot=== thanks for joining us. i'm raj mathai ===2-shot=== and i'm jessica aguirre. ==jess/vo== there's no question, it's going to be a long time before towns ravaged by the valley fire are anywhere closed to being back to normal. hundreds of homes and businesses are gone. and today, a major evacua our anywhere close to being back to normal. hundreds of homes and businesses are gone. today a major e evacuation
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center closed. nbc bay area jodi hernandez is in middletown. some emotional moments even though it's a step forward. >> reporter: jessica, definitely emotion emotional. folks in their incredible time of need rolled up that you are sleeping bag and returned here to middletown. . some are here tonight at a special community meeting where they are getting guidance on what comes next. the journey is far from easy. >> reporter: he escaped while running for his life.

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