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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  September 22, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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the division title we are routing for them tonight in a big way. that's going to do it for us. >> we're going to be back at 6:00. see you then. tonight, mccain's bombshell. the senator deals another major blow to his own party's efforts to repeal obamacare. is this newest gop plan doomed? breaking point. heart-pounding rescues and new evacuations as floodwaters rise in puerto rico. the entire island still without power. tonight the urgent relief mission under way. race against time. survivors pulled from the rubble three days after mexico's earthquake. but the clock is ticking to save others still trapped. war of words. president trump calls kim jong-un a madman after kim labeled him mentally deranged, while north korea threatens to detonate another h-bomb. 911 emergency. when no one answers your call for help. the life-threatening problem plaguing communities. and top cops. the women taking
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command in one major american city. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening to our viewers in the west. thank you for being here tonight. senate republicans may feel like they've seen this movie before, the one about a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace obamacare doomed by a key defection in their own party. once again its star senator john mccain who announced today he will not support the latest repeal and replace plan. it was mccain who doomed the previous gop healthcare bill. and now history may be repeating itself. nbc news capitol hill correspondent kasie hunt starts us off tonight. >> reporter: maverick senator john mccain all but sinking the republican plan to repeal and replace obamacare again. in july he cast the deciding vote against repeal. and today he said he'll vote no on the
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new version of the plan backed by senators bill cassidy and lindsey graham, who is one of mccain's best friends in the senate. "i cannot in good conscience vote for the graham-cassidy proposal," mccain wrote in a lengthy statement. "we should not be content to pass healthcare legislation on a party-line basis." comedian jimmy kimmel, who jumped into the debate after his son was born with a pre-existing condition, this week targeting senator cassidy. >> bill cassidy just lied right to my face. >> reporter: tonight cheering mccain. "thank you, senator john mccain, for being a hero again and again and now again," he tweeted. republicans are rushing to pass a repeal bill before september 30th so they'll only need 50 votes to get it done. with 52 republicans in the senate and mccain and rand paul now in the no column, republicans can't lose another vote. in the spotlight, undecided senator lisa murkowski. vice president mike pence going on alaska radio to keep up the pressure. >> i probably don't need to tell the people of alaska about
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the failings of national socialized healthcare. >> reporter: and senator susan collins of maine who told reporters today -- >> i obviously have very serious reservations about the bill. >> reporter: pence pressing hard for a vote next week. >> a vote against graham-cassidy is a vote to save obamacare. >> reporter: the congressional budget office, which is nonpartisan, still hasn't given a score for this bill that would give senators some idea of how many people might lose their coverage, and tonight the question whether republican leaders will even put it on the floor for a vote. lester? >> kasie hunt at the capitol tonight. thanks. now to puerto rico where a failing dam pushed past the limit by hurricane maria is triggering new flash floods and evacuations tonight. while power outages have crippled communications, hampering search and rescue efforts across the battered american territory. our gabe gutierrez is there. gabe, good evening. >> reporter: lester, in many places the floodwaters are receding, but many
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communities are still inundated. throughout puerto rico there is no power, no communication and no idea how long it will take to recover. tonight, puerto rico is exhausted. town after town under water and under pressure. maria may have passed but the storm's aftermath is overwhelming. in the northwest part of the island an extremely dangerous dam failure is forcing more frantic evacuations. >> it's devastating because you lose everything. you lose everything. you have to start from zero. >> reporter: in toa baja, 30 miles west of san juan, christoph anador is desperate. the water flooded her entire first floor and she says the local shelter has run out of food. >> we need gas, food. i don't know. someone to help us. >> reporter: the town's mayor tells us at least eight people drowned here and authorities have rescued 4,000 to 5,000 trapped by floodwaters. without working cell phones he's coordinating with rescue crews from florida and virginia by word of mouth. it's chaos.
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>> it's chaos. >> reporter: new video released by the u.s. coast guard shows a woman and two children being hoisted to safety after they were stranded on a capsized boat off the coast. power is out to the entire island and 95% of cell service is down. the government has now hired more than 50 small contractors to help get things up and running. electrical crews clearing debris but not fixing lines yet because they say they can't even communicate with headquarters. >> it's a new experience for us. i'm working in george and i'm working in hugo and i never see something like this. >> reporter: you worked many hurricanes before but you've never seen something like this. >> i've never seen it. >> reporter: rosa avilas rode out the storm in old san juan while a building in this historic neighborhood crumbled next to her. >> i said to myself and to my son, we have to leave the house. this is going to collapse. >> reporter: for many in puerto rico more help can't come soon enough. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, toa baja, puerto rico. i'm gadi schwartz
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in puerto rico, where this hotel lobby is mission control for hundreds of rescuers. >> so this area is still somewhat dark? >> correct. yeah. >> reporter: for many of them, like this crew from virginia, hurricane maria is yet another disaster in what seems like an unrelenting season of catastrophe. >> folks here have taken a pretty big hit with these storms. we're going to do whatever we can to help them. >> reporter: so many organizations have been stretched thin. fema supporting more than 30,000 people in disaster zones. the red cross deploying more than 5,000 workers and nearly its entire vehicle fleet. samaritan's purse, a north carolina nonprofit, responding to their third hurricane in the last few weeks with 50,000 pounds of emergency supplies to puerto rico. the scenes of devastation and suffering stir an overwhelming need to help. this crew in san juan are headed to check on a family who hasn't been heard from since the storm. but then contact. and a satellite phone call back home. >> lisa?
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i'm okay. >> reporter: through the strain of back-to-back calamities -- >> they came, all right? >> reporter: it's these moments of humanity -- >> okay, i love you. >> reporter: -- that help them persevere. >> i'm glad we're alive. >> reporter: gadi schwartz, nbc news, luquillo, puerto rico. the desperate search for buried survivors is running up against the clock in mexico tonight. but miracle rescues in the rubble are fueling searchers with hope more than 72 hours after the deadly quake hit. nbc's miguel almaguer is with the search teams. >> reporter: tonight, desperation and determination. this is the frantic race to bring the buried back to life. it happens again and again. more than 100 rescued. many still missing. >> we need information. any type of information but we need real information. >> reporter: maria mendoza is looking for ivan fernandez, buried
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under six stories of steel, concrete and rebar. >> my cousin's there. he's 27 years old. >> reporter: at the elementary school where the search gripped a nation, authorities apologize for earlier reports that a girl was trapped but say they still believe there could be a survivor in the rubble. it's all hands on deck including frieda, the lab working with the mexican navy, sniffing for the missing. and then there's the search and rescue crew los topos. chief hector mendes formed his team after the 1985 quake. now needed more than ever before. >> we are the people with the heart to support all these kind of situations. >> reporter: at the largest rescue sites across mexico, this is the scramble. hundreds are working around the clock and they won't give up hope. many who survived have little left. christian claps and
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wendy alvarez live in a building that no longer stands. "our worst nightmare has come true," she says. tonight this broken country fighting to get back on its feet. the search for the missing only pauses for the national anthem. ♪ a country that has lost so much working around the clock to save what matters most. as search teams enter another night of rescues, they say surviving beyond four days in the rubble is incredibly difficult, but in some cases victims have made it a month. lester? >> miguel almaguer, as the work goes on in mexico, thank you. the war of words between president trump and kim jong-un has taken a very personal turn as north korea threatens to test another hydrogen bomb, this time over the pacific. here's nbc white house correspondent kristen welker. >> reporter: president trump prompting a new level of brinksmanship with north korea today tweeting "kim jong un of north korea, who is
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obviously a madman, who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before." the president talking tough at a rally in alabama tonight. >> rocket man should have been handled a long time ago. >> he may be smart. he may be strategic. and he may be totally crazy. but you know what? no matter what he is we're going to handle it, folks. >> reporter: last night north korea's leader took aim at the president personally warning "i will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged u.s. dotard with fire." dotard a disparaging term for a senile senior. still, it's not those words but north korea's threat to test a hydrogen bomb over the pacific that's raising alarm bells. >> all of our military options, as the president has said, is on the table. >> reporter: so far north korea has conducted all its nuclear tests in underground tunnels. the last time a nuclear weapon was tested in the earth's atmosphere was in 1980 when china fired a ballistic missile into a desert. experts say if north korea were to take
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such an action now, the results could be catastrophic. >> the north koreans are playing with fire here. the danger is if north korea misfires, if they can't control the test, they kill thousands of people. >> reporter: if north korea launched a bomb, pentagon officials say under one scenario advanced radars and satellites all over the world would detect the launch, giving the u.s. the military options to intercept it or shoot it down before any radioactive material could do harm. but there are no guarantees. kristen welker, nbc news, the white house. the trump administration today reversed a key policy on sexual assaults on college campuses, rolling back another obama-era rule. education secretary betsy devos issued new interim guidelines that will allow colleges to use a higher standard of evidence when handling complaints. devos said that while schools must continue to confront these crimes head on, too many students had been unfairly charged with sexual misconduct. another trump
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official is facing criticism tonight for his style of travel. health and human services secretary tom price is being investigated for reportedly taking dozens of private planes for government work at taxpayers' expense. chief white house correspondent hallie jackson has more on that for us tonight. >> reporter: the head of the health agency hitting turbulence with the price of his private travel for government business now under review by federal investigators. hhs secretary tom price racked up a bill of more than $300,000 on at least two dozen charter flights this year, according to politico, including one trip from d.c. to philadelphia for a conference on opioids. that's about 300 miles round trip, roughly 90 bucks by car, 550 for the train and up to $725 on a commercial flight. but price picked the private option, hopping a charter for an estimated $25,000. >> he's wasting taxpayer money. and for a group of people who call
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themselves fiscal conservatives, this is an embarrassment. >> reporter: an hhs spokesperson defended price's use of private planes as more efficient and effective given his busy schedule. telling nbc news, "the demands on his time are tremendous." in 2009 when price was a member of congress he railed against the use of private flights by other lawmakers. >> this is just another example of fiscal irresponsibility run amok in congress right now. >> reporter: just last month another cabinet member also faced questions about his travel habits after the treasury secretary explored using a government plane for his honeymoon trip to europe, he says for security reasons. for the administration, all part of a bumpy ride. hallie jackson, nbc news, the white house. bob dole has been hospitalized. the former republican presidential candidate was admitted to walter reed medical center last week for low blood pressure. a spokeswoman says his condition is being corrected with medication. in a tweet, the
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94-year-old dole thanked people for their prayers and said he hopes to be home sipping a cosmo in a few days. still ahead tonight, what happens when the emergency is with 911 itself? we're going to take you to a big city where desperate calls for help have gone unanswered. also, the driver hailed as a hero after a school bus erupts in flames.
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we're back now with a critical problem plaguing a major american city. in cincinnati a series of 911 outages have left callers to fend
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for themselves. so why is it happening? nbc news national investigative correspondent jeff rossen is getting answers in tonight's "rossen reports." >> reporter: in cincinnati a public safety crisis. callers unable to get through to 911. >> i was driving home, and i saw a car smash up against a pole. >> reporter: wow. >> so i called 911 two, three times and they never answered. it just rang and rang. >> reporter: you're trying to help that driver who may have needed immediate medical attention? >> correct. >> reporter: and countless others. >> we called them three times and no response. >> it rang and rang and rang. no one answered. >> reporter: 911 operators eventually called back, but in an emergency it could be the difference between life and death. according to an internal city document obtained by nbc news, there have been ten 911 outages since june of 2016. the latest one just this summer lasting 3 hours and 30 minutes. city officials say the
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system can't handle the volume of wireless calls, putting most of the blame on a private company called comtech that runs cincinnati's 911 system. >> we've got a service provider at that level who has not been as reliable and dependable as we needed them to be. >> reporter: you're getting rid of comtech? >> basically. >> reporter: the city is now taking over 911 operations itself, but turns out comtech is a major player in the nation's 911 system. according to the company's s.e.c. filings, they are utilized by literally millions of people in more than 30 states. and cincinnati isn't the only place experiencing problems. in connecticut, officials replaced comtech's system with a new company after a three-hour 911 outage hit 52 call-taking sites. and in south dakota this year officials temporarily suspended payments to comtech saying the company was slow to fix several recurring problems found within the system. comtech didn't respond
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to multiple calls and e-mails from nbc news. so i paid them a visit at their new york headquarters, and we see the company's cfo. we're from nbc news doing a story about the 911 system. >> let me just get -- >> reporter: outages in cincinnati. we haven't had any of our calls or e-mails returned. we just wanted to get some answers. we wait and wait for more than 15 minutes, but he never re-emerges. instead, sending out the receptionist. >> they're not coming out. >> reporter: they're not going to come out? >> no. >> reporter: as for cincinnati, it will take months to get the new system up and running, leaving locals to wonder what happens during an emergency tonight. jeff rossen, nbc news, cincinnati. there's more to tell you about tonight. we're back in a moment with why one major city is putting the brakes on uber.
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how much money do you think you'll need in retirement? then we found out how many years that money would last them. how long do you think we'll keep -- oooooohhh! you stopped! you're gonna leave me back here at year 9? how did this happen? it turned out, a lot of people fell short, of even the average length of retirement. we have to think about not when we expect to live to, but when we could live to. let's plan for income that lasts all our years in retirement. prudential. bring your challenges. this is the scary scene in kansas city. a school bus engulfed in flames after its engine caught fire.
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fortunately, the driver quickly got all the kids off the bus through the rear door, and no one was injured. a witness said it was a miracle that everyone escaped in time. the school district is calling that driver a hero. if you're planning a trip to london, you may not be able to count on uber to get around. uber is losing its license to operate in london next month. city officials declared the ride sharing giant unfit to run a taxi service, claiming a lack of corporate responsibility. uber can still operate in london while it appeals that ruling. she was one of three african-american women whose little-known work crunching numbers for nasa helped early space missions succeed and inspired the book and movie "hidden figures." today in virginia 99-year-old katherine johnson helped open a new nasa building named in her honor, the katherine g. johnson computation research facility. today she gave credit to everyone who helped in her mathematical mission. when we come back, we'll meet some women who have risen to the top in law enforcement
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and are inspiring america. next at 6: will the warriors go
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to the white house? ===jess vo=== hear what steph curry thinks and how the final decision will be made. ===raj /take vo=== plus, "feel the bern". senator sanders comes to the bay area. the change he )s pushing for... to save countless lives. ===next close=== finally tonight, while the number of women who are police officers has grown, they're still a small minority in this
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country and even fewer women are in leadership roles. but in dallas that's changing, especially at the top. rehema ellis has tonight's "inspiring america" report. >> so i did talk to -- >> reporter: renee hall is taking charge in dallas like no woman has ever done before. she's the city's first female police chief, commanding a force that's 80% male, making her likely to face unprecedented scrutiny. do you see a double standard? >> i think it's a double standard, but i don't think we have to accept it. you can't judge every woman by me no more than i can judge every man by you. >> reporter: the 18-year veteran of the detroit police department is taking over in dallas at a tough time. five officers were gunned down last year. >> we have to be okay with being emotional about the things that we see. >> reporter: she's not alone. dallas now has three women at the top law enforcement agencies, a first in the city and rare nationwide. >> so how is it going down here? >> reporter: faith johnson is the dallas county district
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attorney. >> we are not here because we're women. we are here because we are capable, qualified, educated, trained to do an outstanding job. >> and just happen to be women. >> reporter: lupe valdez is the county sheriff. and the first openly gay latina sheriff ever elected in texas. >> it's lonely at the top. that's why we have to make a path easier for others to come up. >> reporter: girls couldn't be more proud. >> it means that we're becoming represented, especially women but also people of color, and that's amazing. >> we can be what they are. we can be in the top just as they are. >> we don't want them to stop just there. you need to go beyond from where we are and go to the top. >> reporter: three extraordinary women bringing a new look to law enforcement and changing the culture of expectations. rehema ellis, nbc news, dallas. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that is "nightly news" for this friday night. i'm lester holt.
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for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. the mixed messages about free speech we a if the speakers come we'll be ready. >> right now at 6:00, is it on or off? the mixed messages about free speech week at cal. high level conservatives making last minute decisions. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening and thanks for being with us on this friday. raj mathai. >> jessica aguirre. confusion tonight over free speech week at cal. here is what we know. all right proskt fewer milo yiannopoulos is in the bay area. he landed today and will holdz news conference tomorrow at treasure island ann coulter. she is out. conservative commentator sent an email to the associated press
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saying she is not coming to cal. but what about steve bannon? former white house chief strategist has not confirmed nor denied his participation. nbc bay area jodi hernandez joins us live with the latest reaction from the free speech week organizers and the university this this just goes on and on jodi. >> reporter: it does. berkeley patriot members tell me they are finalizing the list of speakers. but they insist the event will take place and the university says they'll be ready. as cal students gear up for tomorrow's big football game against usc they are also bracing for what's expected to be an bigger event on campus. four days of controversial ultraconservative speakers, including milo yiannopoulos. >> we have a lot of outside organizations from our school coming in. and they're disrupting

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