tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 30, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
tonight, american boots on ground in syria. a change of course in the fight against isis. the u.s. now deploying troops despite president obama's repeated promises that he wouldn't give that order. historic floods. torrential rains slam central texas. high water rescues as rivers overflow and an airport and major highway shut down and tornados strong enough to toss a trailer up on a roof. riding a surge. our brand new polls showing senators cruz and rubio winning the debate. though carson and trump are on top. and now a new debate controversy erupts. after a student is sentenced in a sexual assault case that gripped the nation, the victim's mother talks exclusively about her daughter's courage to come forward. "nightly news" begins right now.
good evening. the american footprint in the war against isis is about to get bigger. and whether you call it boots on the ground or advisors as the white house is calling it, for the first time ground troops are going to be based inside syria. the americans, all from special operations, are fewer than 50. the mission said the white house, to assist local fighters. it is a major policy shift that has many wondering whether the door has cracked open to an even deeper american ground rule. richard engel has the story tonight. >> reporter: after thousands of air-strikes against isis in iraq and syria and 3000 troops back to iraq, today the white house announced a new step. >> the decision that the president has made is to send fewer than
50 special operations forces to syria. >> reporter: in other words, american boots on the ground in syria. something the president said would never happen. >> i won't commit our troops to fighting another ground war in iraq or in syria. >> reporter: but tonight the white house announced nothing has changed. the troops will stick to an advisory role. >> they will not be in a combat mission. >> that is not the mission but they could find themselves in a combat situation. >> there is no denying the amount of risk they are taking on here and they are equipped to defend themself if necessary. >> reporter: that left some military experts skeptical and angry. >> this is domestic politics. there is an element of alice and wonderland to this press announcement. i think it has been rare in american military history to have seen micro management of military operations on the level of this white house. >> reporter: the announcement came on the same day that talks on syria began in vienna. the u.s., russia, turkey and iran. but the change in military policy has
been in the works a long time. >> the decision to spend u.s. special forces into syria is a recognition that simply what we were doing wasn't working. the situation on the ground was -- was continuing to deteriorate. >> reporter: a u.s. official tells nbc news the new plan is a three-pronged approach. in northern syria, dozens of american special operations forces will deploy alongside kurdish and arab fighters to battle isis. in northern iraq, the u.s. plans to have a rapid reaction force to back up troops and allies. and in turkey, more air-strikes launched by the base by more aircraft. including f-15 bombers and low-flying a-10 warthogs for close air support. although the white house was at pains to admit it, the u.s. is stepping deeper into the war in iraq and syria, even though it insists nothing has changed and no promises were broken. lester. >> richard, thank you. we want you to know i'll sit
know i'll sit down with president obama with a two-part interview, including what he still wants to accomplish as the final year in office approaches. that is monday night here on "nightly news." we're following a major storm emergency happening in texas. one person is confirmed dead as massive flooding overwhelms a huge part of the state. evacuations and roads turning into rivers. look at this. a school in san marcos completely surrounded. there have been three reports of tornados and one county has declared a state of disaster. with this system not expected to let up any time soon. janet shamlian is in the storm zone for us. >> reporter: violent storms battering south central texas. record rain, reports of tornados, flooding and widespread damage. evacuations from san antonio to austin. >> there is one of the vehicles that got washed away. >> reporter: near the town of wimberley, kathleen and her friends were trapped in a bed and breakfast until rescued by the national guard. >> we didn't know
where we were going and the water was rising so fast. >> reporter: sirens warned as the danger as the cypress river spilled over and raced toward homes and businesses. on halloween eve the roads were filled with pumpkins carried away by the storm. in austin, a mess. amid the rising water, this woman helped by passers by. >> i quickly rolled down the window and pulled myself up. >> reporter: a possible tornado left this in its wake. a tractor-trailer like a broken toy on top of a hotel. power lines down everywhere. the roof ripped from a high school. in south texas, a lightning strike knocked out radar at the national weather service in brownsville. rain soaked the state. closing the austin airport which was battered by almost 14 inches in six hours, more than the city received the entire month of may, which was already the second wettest on record. the swollen blanco river cresting more
than 13.5 feet over flood stage. >> i watched it come up. >> reporter: the evacuations along the river bank reminiscent of may when storms claimed 31 lives, including eight people in a home swept down the river. >> it went from nothing to up my driveway. >> reporter: this woman was pregnant then. late today, she was rescued with her 10-day-old baby. >> second time. this is the second time this has happened to us. it is almost unbelievable. >> reporter: all eyes are on the blanco river here tonight. while it has receded from the height of the storm today it is still high. and there is another system out there expected to bring more heavy rain in the next couple of hours. back to you. >> thank you. al roker is here. he is monitoring the system. we all sat up straight when you said this will drop amounts akin to a hurricane. >> that is right. this one has done 13 inches and there is more on the way. tornado watches in
effect this evening and tonight, damaging winds and tornados. two inch hail possible tomorrow. that system moves to the east and now in louisiana, in the gun sights. heavy downpours. one inch hail possible. to give you a sense of all this rain, we're talking upwards of another 5-6 inches locally, could be 5-7 inches of rain in a square mile, you get an inch of rain. that is the equivalent of 17 million gallons of water. well let me put it to you this way, we have flash flood watches and warnings that cover 75,000 square miles and you put that into perspective. lester, that is 1.27 trillion gallons of water, enough to fill 192,000 olympic swimming pools. >> al, thanks very much. turning to the race for 2016. we have a brand new nbc news online poll conducted by survey monkey. the first since wednesday's republican debate showing ben carson in a dead heat with donald trump for
the lead. but as for who actually won the debate, the polls show ted cruz on top followed by marco rubio and then trump and carson. over all jeb bush fared worst in the debate. hallie jackson is on the campaign trail in iowa. >> reporter: for a couple of candidates, a kind of victory lap planned for this weekend in iowa. but it is colorado the focus today after wednesday's debate. multiple campaigns planning to huddle to compare campaigns. >> just a minute. >> let me finish. >> reporter: now the republican party is suspending february's nbc news telemundo debate, the only debate to be aired on spanish language tv, writing the moderators engaged in a series of gotcha questions and petty and mean spirit the in tone and designed to embarrass the candidates. cnbc said people who want to be president of the united states should be able to answer tough questions. nbc news owned by the same parent company as cnbc called it a
disappointing development but promises to work in good faith to resolve this matter with the republican party. more fallout after a debate giving new momentum to ted cruz and marco rubio, who lended a counter-punch against jeb bush. >> the super pac supporting rubio -- previewing the first ad is also highlighting cruz, trump and carson as his biggest competitors. not mentioned, his former mentor, jeb bush. that is even as a leaked memo shows the campaign plan to go after rubio, painting him as a risky bet. >> someone decides they want to do the democrats job for them and make it easier for the democrats to defeat a republican, that is the choice they make in their campaign. but i can't let it change my campaign and i won't. >> tonight signs of a shake up for bush. his chief operating officer leaving the campaign as bush promises to get better as a candidate explaining how to casey hunt. >> we have eight more debates and i'm going to have to do what
other candidates do which is rudely interrupt and not answer the questions that are asked and hopefully the debate moderators will ask more substantive questions as well. it is going fine. >> are you having any fun? >> oh, yeah. you saw it. i had a lot of fun. >> reporter: expect to see a sharper jeb bush on the trail next week in florida. as he looks to boosts had standing to compete with donald trump and ben carson. still the front-runners on the online poll. >> thank you. now a quick program note. chuck todd will have an interview with jeb bush on sunday morning on "meet the press." federal investigators have begun to examine the charred sections of the jet that caught fire on the runway in florida with over 100 people on board. two remain hospitalized and we are learning about the history of the plane as the ntsb tries to figure out what happened. nbc's kerry sanders has the latest. >> reporter: aviation sources tell nbc news the boeing 767 had been in storage for two to three years and recently had its left
engine replaced. the ntsb investigation starts with an eyewitness from yesterday. >> dynamic out of the left engine it looks like it is leaking a lot of -- i don't know if it is fuel. it is fluid leaking out of the left engine. >> the fire burned about 50 gallons of jet fuel before it was put out. on board, more than 24,000 gallons for a flight to venezuela. >> there is a fire. >> do i know what sparked the flame and the answer at this point is no. >> dynamic international airways is a charter airline with only five planes. but like all that operate in the united states they are subject to faa regulations and the same maintenance requirements. the faa tonight has no record of maintenance problems with dynamic. the flames that could have spread to the cabin were extinguished within one minute by the broward sheriff fire department. >> this is an aircraft engine fire.
aircraft engine fire per the battalion. >> reporter: it worked like the textbook. >> it worked better than textbook. >> reporter: tonight some of the passengers boarded a flight to car acus. >> i'm not worried. i just want don't want to think about it. >> the ntsb said a report on the cause could be more than a year away. kerry sanders. nbc news, ft. lauderdale. now to a classroom emergency, two high school students from northern virginia are in a burn unit after a serious fire broke out in their chemistry lab as the teacher was demonstrating various types of chemical fires. and as tom costello reports it is the latest example of how dangerous school labs can be if things don't go right. >> reporter: it happened at one of the top high schools in the country. wt woodson high. fairfax county fire rescue dispatched just after 9:40 this morning. >> building fire at 9525 main street, woodson high school, report of a fire in a
room, k 105. >> k-105, the chemistry classroom. >> result is an ethanol fire. we do have fire in the room. with sprinkler activation. >> reporter: a teacher and five students burned, all taken to area hospitals. two airlifted to d.c. burn units, one in critical condition and rushed to surgery. investigators say it happened during a routine demonstration. >> it was a demonstration on fire and the different colors of fire. >> the school was quickly evacuated with many students concerned about the injured. >> it is kind of scary knowing this could happen to anybody in chemistry class. >> reporter: although high school chemistry accidents are rare, when they occur, the results can be tragic. this boy suffered second degree burns. four years ago. >> i was right front row and fire shot right at me. >> reporter: in denver last month four students were burned during a meth and obviously -- methanol
demonstration. the instructor who didn't have a teacher's license has been criminally charged. and with many high schools now ramping up math and science requirements, and now the risk say experts may also increase. tom costello, nbc news, washington. still ahead tonight, the case that dominated the headlines, a former prep school student convicted in a case that exposed an alleged culture of sex at one of the nation's top prep schools. now in an nbc exclusive the victim's mother breaks her silence. also the huge headache that runaway blimp is still giving the military days after it came back to earth.
tonight an nbc news exclusive. just a day after sentencing in a closely-watched sexual assault trial, the victim's mother is breaking her silence. the case ripped a lid off a sordid tradition alleged at a prep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about sex.prep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about senprep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about se prep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about seeprep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about selprep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about seiprep school and gave us a rare look into teen's attitudes about setprep school and gave us a rteprep at the center, owen labrie, a former student raping a 15-year-old girl whose identity we are concealing. the victim's mom is speaking out now exclusively for the first time. >> when did you first know and when did she tell you what happened to her? >> i'll never forget it. it was at midnight and she called me crying
inconsolably and she said something awful had happened. >> reporter: prosecutors say he lured the girl to a roof where they had sex. they say it was part of a ritual called senior salute. which involved graduating senior boys wooing younger girls. the case went to trial this summer. labrie was acquitted of felony rape charges but found guilty of a lesser felony. using a computer to lure his underage accuser and found guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. the victim testified against labrie. a brutal experience, according to her mom. >> it has been excruciating for her. but being a pretty pure soul, she just wanted to do what was right. >> reporter: yesterday, a judge sentenced labrie to a year in jail and he is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. the victim spoke emotionally in a video played during sentencing. >> without just and right punishment, i really don't know how i'll put one foot in front of the other. i don't want to feel imprisoned for the rest of my life.
>> reporter: labrie once planned to study theology at harvard. >> he is a kind, loving soul that really is a genuine person and to his core he's an incredible person to be around. >> for now he is free while an appeal is pending. natalie morales, nbc news, concord, new hampshire. there will be more of the reporting on the case tonight on "dateline" at 10:00, 9:00 central. we're back in a moment with an amazing sight. one of the driest places on earth suddenly in bloom.
in central pennsylvania they have begun the delicate process of removing the runaway blimp using a chinook helicopter to lift the nose cone. that is the heaviest part. the rest will be extracted sometime tomorrow. in south america, a rare and beautiful sight. normally this desert in chile is one of the
driest places on planet earth but now it is in bloom with purple mellow flowers. as far as the eye can see. it only happens every 5-7 years but heavy rain in maran more in august created the biggest bloom there in decades. incredible picture. and the video of the day comes from peoria, arizona. a frightful driver just in time for halloween as storm gusts blow a giant pumpkin down the street through a busy intersection and it brock free from a business halloween display, bouncing through traffic before finally getting stuck in a neighborhood park. and speaking of pumpkins. when we come back, the amazing creations this year that will have you saying, oh, my gord.
officers stepping up patrols... and sending out warnings. ===take vo raj=== plus, turning fog into water. the different ways tech firms crisis. ng to solve the water finally, you might call tonight the eve of all hallow's eve. soon jack-o-lanterns will greet people around the country and as kevin tibbles tells us, if you want to make your pumpkin stand out this year, you have your work carved out for you. >> reporter: nothing screams halloween like a carved pumpkin. but this year the familiar mugs are getting, well, a face lift.
intricate orange orbs, the handiwork of of the maniac pumpkin carvers, turning the run-of-the-mill jack-o-lantern into a work of art. >> it is a work of art and to see it carved into it is exciting. >> reporter: but the queen of the giant gourd has got to be dublin, ohio's janet paris. she doesn't carve them, she paints them. >> i pumpkin-ize. that is what i do. >> this year's offering, a 374 pound head. >> the trump-kin. >> it goes together. i mean, pumpkin -- trump. pumpkin. trump-kin. >> she's pumpkin-ized everyone from miley cyrus and steve jobs to president obama. she works it all out on paper in her kitchen before taking ten hours to perform the extreme makeover. the trump kin's biggest challenge -- the unmistakable name.
mane.mane. >> 638 inch, of varying color. >> she plans to leave it on display past halloween, no matter what happens to the real donald in the scary world of politics. but the first order of business is trick or treat. kevin tibbles, nbc news, dublin, ohio. that will do it for us on this friday night. remember to set your clocks back an hour before heading to bed on saturday as daylight savings time comes to an end. i hope you have a good halloween. kids be careful out there. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night.
it's very concerning, very concerning. you have too much dumping here. these transients hanging around in the neighborhood. >> it's supposed to be a park but it's been abandoned and abused for years. so what's the holdup with fixing that lock? the first warning about date rape drugs at uc berkeley, the roadblocks from keeping campus police from finding out exactly what happened. good evening. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. a disturbing anonymous tip
prompting uc police to step up patrols on campus and fraternity houses. the tip, a student was given a date rape drug and blacked out. the question is are there more out there? live in berkeley. police are having a hard time figuring out what happened and if anything else is going to happen too. >> reporter: it's because the tip was not terribly specific. it didn't name a fraternity, nor a victim. there's no indication that anyone was assaulted. however, date rape drugs were reportedly given to sorority members at a fraternity last weekend. that was reported and that was enough for cal sororities to put the word out on social media. sorority members said they were glad for the warning they'd received throughout the greek community today. >> i think cal does a really good job there teaching us. we've had a lot of workshops and seminars about these issues. >> reporter: university of cal campus police confirmed someone reported an incint