tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 23, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
fueling outrage. the disaster in the gulf grows. our extraordinary trip to the scene of the spill. tonight, a look at its impact on shore. while in washington, disagreement. is bp up to the task? caught on tape. sarah ferguson, the duchess of york, appearing to cash in on her royal family. what she said while an undercover camera rolled. and what she's saying tonight. and, out of order. after 20 years, the final case and, out of order. after 20 years, the final case closed.
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening, everyone. the unrelenting flow of oil and bubbling anger over the massive spill reached a kind of critical mass today with both bp and the obama administration facing a new level of outrage. a lot of it coming from the oil-stained shore of louisiana, where that state's governor today blasted washington and demanded a greater sense of urgency and action. but even the federal government seems divided tonight on who best can handle the disaster. with one hand defending bp, the other condemning its response. but none of the finger-pointing has stopped the oil or the slow-motion destruction of the gulf coast. we have reports from louisiana and washington tonight, starting with our chief environmental affairs correspondent, anne thompson in venice. anne? >> reporter: good evening, lester.
what i'm about to tell you isn't going to help. coast guard officials say bp's attempt to cap that well may slide until wednesday. and as you could imagine, that's only ratcheting up the anger here at bp's inability to halt this disaster and sparking a whole new round of frustration at the federal government. this brown pelican, louisiana's state bird, is now black with oil on one of louisiana's barrier islands. as state wildlife officials try unsuccessfully to rescue the board, louisiana governor bobby jindal pleased with the federal government to let him build new barrier islands, sand berms to do what booms clearly can't. >> one of the answers may be just coming in and burn the marsh afterwards, that's not enough of a plan. we need a better -- we need more urgency. we need a better plan. >> reporter: today governor jindal took the media on a tour of the coastal wetlands he is desperately trying to protect from the onslaught of oil. >> you can see the reality is,
just going in here to try to clean this up will cause damage to this area, and the birds. >> reporter: the governor wants more help from washington. >> bp needs to pay for this, but absolutely the government needs to be in charge. >> reporter: plaquemines parish president, billy nungesser, says it's time for president obama to take control. >> he seems to care, but he needs to put his foot down and demand someone take charge. >> reporter: and this is what's headed louisiana's way. out in the gulf, we found even more massive slicks of oil and dispersant, thick on the water 16 miles from the coast. the once glistening ocean now a flat, reddish brown color, coated with crude. 26 miles out, the gulf is a toxic soup with a vile aroma. the oil is everywhere. even three miles from the leak site, you can see the natural gas being burned off as it comes up with some of the oil, siphoned in the broken pipe a mile beneath the surface. today, governor jindal says louisiana has 7,000 miles of
coastline. it supports the state's $3 billion a year fishing industry that deploys 60,000 people. much of it is in limbo, shut down or on the verge of being closed by the oil. for the past month, david blai has tried to cheerlead the charter boat captains at the marina he built in venice. but today, even he is out of hope. >> what are they going to do if this stays shut down like this? that's what i'm worried about. two of those captains are my sons. so i can really relate. >> reporter: the oil spill is personal here. the coast provides jobs, food, and culture. and the people here are determined to do everything they can to save it. lester? >> anne thompson in venice, louisiana, thank you. every day engineers fail to cap the leak is another day closer to ruin for those who depend on the gulf waters. as nbc's michelle cozinky reports, all they can do now is
watch as the encroaching oil slowly strangles their way of life. >> this is like a six-week katrina. there's no end in sight. >> reporter: in the bayou village of myrtle grove, they donate make their living on the water, but their lives. >> i'm looking at my entire life savings and i'm looking at my retirement home that could very well be in just a big puddle of oil in the next couple of weeks. >> reporter: and this, the first day they've seen that oil, now inside the endless rich estuaries of the baretarya bay. >> it's inconceivable that something like this could happen and nothing happens about it. >> reporter: so surgeon glenn swartzberg and others who hadn't seen it yet set out. it didn't take long. oil-soaked booms, teaming pelican grounds, almost too much to bare. >> as you can see out here at this beautiful god-given -- god-given --
>> reporter: and then the reddish chunks everywhere in the water. >> look at that. i'm not even going to be able to get it off. >> this is oshl. this is going to kill everything around here. >> reporter: shrimpers out in closed waters trying for a last catch were shut down. >> are they shutting them down? >> this could do us in. >> reporter: through the now-empty fishing shacks that survived katrina -- >> this rips my heart up. >> reporter: they wonder how life here will come through the man-made disaster. >> they're talking about now pumping -- drilling mud and cement down into the pipe, okay. you mean to tell me four weeks ago they didn't think about that? >> we have the most brilliant minds in the world. get them together and let's fix this thing. >> reporter: the baretarya bay is this big body of water with countless fingers of land all around it. as you can imagine, those are breeding grounds full of life. that's why people have been so worried that oil would get in there and now it has. lester? >> michelle, thanks. at the center of today's spillover of anger, is bp up to the task of fixing this mess?
tonight, one obama administration is warning the oil giant, either fix it or get out of the way. >> reporter: good evening, lester. it was a day of anger and mixed messages from the administration, both over what kind of job bp is doing and who is ultimately in charge of stopping that leak. today the president's point man in the gulf gave bp and its ceo a full vote of confidence. >> when i give them direction, i've got a cell phone number and i have a problem, i call them. >> reporter: but after meeting with bp officials at their command center today in houston, interior secretary ken salazar blasted the company for its failure to stop the leak. >> i am angry and i am frustrated that bp has been unable to stop this oil from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading. we are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed.
>> reporter: critics now accuse the white house of ceding too much power to bp, but salazar insists the government is running the show. >> if we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way. >> reporter: the tough talk comes after days of mounting political fallout over the spill. >> the federal government should have stepped into this thing immediately to help make sure that the appropriate steps were being taken by bp. >> reporter: today, sarah palin implied that president obama is dragging his feet as a political favor to the oil giant. >> if this were a republican in office who hadn't received as much support, even, as president obama has from bp and other oil companies, you know the mainstream media would be all over his case. >> reporter: the president's spokesman was quick to hit back. >> my suggestion to sarah palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what's going on in and around oil drilling in this country. >> reporter: officials contend that much of the know-how and equipment, like the submersibles working a mile below the surface, rest with the oil industry, not the government.
>> they have the eyes and ears that are down there. they are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved. >> reporter: and lester, as the administration struggles to contain both the criticism and the spill, there are no fewer than three cabinet officials who are either already in the gulf or on their way there. lester? >> mike viqueira at the white house, thanks. investigators from the united states are in india tonight to help find what caused the crash of an air india jet. it broke up after landing yesterday, killing most of the 166 people on board. nbc's rahema ellis has the latest. >> reporter: sifting through the twisted, charred wreckage of the air india plane crash scattered across the hillside, investigators say they found the flight recorder. saturday, the boeing 737 overshot the hilltop runway, plunged into a valley, then burst into flames. hard to imagine that any one of the 166 on board could come out of this alive, but eight did. >> translator: the plane deviated and hit something.
it caught fire and we fell out. we looked up and saw some opening and came out through that route. >> reporter: for a while, there was hope for this little girl, who was pulled from the mangled debris with severe burns and covered with flame-dousing foam. but overnight, she died. now, ntsb investigators are in india to help figure out what went wrong with the flight, while early reports point to pilot error, aviation experts say there's more to learn. >> the flight data recorder is going to give key information to positions of the throttle, positions of the landing gear, the flaps. all kinds of data, which is critical to understanding what happened in those last moments. >> reporter: today, funerals began for victims. this man says his relatives were going to a wedding. >> i lost them in this tragedy. three of them in the fire, three of them yesterday. and we found the fourth body.
>> reporter: meanwhile, other families continue the painful task of trying to identify the dead. grieving for loved ones and searching for answers to the cause of india's worst air disaster in more than a decade. rahema ellis, nbc news, new york. landslides caused a train in china to derail today, killing at least 19 people. the train was headed towards a tourist destination in eastern china when it slammed into mud and debris that had buried the tracks. more than 70 people were injured. and back in this country, a huge tornado touched down last night near bowdle, south dakota, as a storm system moved across the northeastern part of the state. the storm downed power lines and destroyed farm buildings, but no injuries have been reported. when "nightly news" continues this sunday, sarah ferguson arrives in los angeles. what she's saying tonight about that undercover video showing what she calls a serious lapse of judgment. the latest royal scandal, a major story in london tonight. we'll tell you more when we come back.
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ask your eyecare professional which transitions lenses are right for you. the duchess of york, sarah ferguson, is no stranger to scandal, but the news that broke early this morning was a stunner. a british tabloid caught her on an undercover videotape appearing to sell access to her former husband, prince andrew, the queen's son. tonight, ferguson, who just arrived in the united states, says she's devastated and regrets the impairmeembarrassme caused. >> 500,000 pounds when you can,
to me, open doors. >> prince andrew? >> yeah. >> reporter: with a simple handshake, sarah ferguson appears to broker access to the royal family for dollars. >> i'll give you $40,000. >> yeah. >> which is in my safe. >> reporter: give me the money, her gesture implies. sarah ferguson, the duchess of york, was the queen's daughter-in-law. her marriage to prince andrew failed, but they are still close friends. you can be his friend too, she tells an undercover reporter from britain's news of the world for a mere 500,000 british pounds, some $700,000. >> if you want to do a big deal with andrew. >> of course. so 500,000. >> a wire transfer. >> has to be wire transfer. >> reporter: the reporter is posing as a businessman. he offers a deposit of $40,000
in cash. a while later, she rubs her eyes, stacks of bills laid out in front of her. sarah ferguson has seen scandal before. photographs emerged of her topless with another man sucking her toes while she and andrew were still married, though separated. for a while, she moved to america to improve her image, so some irony in the fact that one of the secret meetings took place in new york. the truth is, she traded on her name, her royal connections, she became very, very wealthy with big, big brands in weight watchers backing her. she made millions. now that money has run out. and now she's doing this, and it's wrong. >> reporter: the newspaper says it set up the sting after hearing rumors about her selling access to andrew. though she seems to make clear, he is not involved. >> he does not meet magazine
people. he does not. >> reporter: and with that, she carries away a bag full of money. after many difficult years, sarah ferguson was just repairing her relationship with the queen. after all, the queen is grandmother to her children. but tonight, buckingham palace is refusing to comment. scotland yard has told nbc news, no long appears to have been broken, but royal etiquette has been shattered. >> are the queen and prince philip going to be happy about this? goodness me, no. this is their n. this is the reputation of their entire family. and this is somebody, a former daughter-in-law, who, let's face it, has got history. >> reporter: tonight, sarah ferguson arrived in los angeles, at one point biting her nails. she might well feel nervous. she is in l.a. to receive an award for charity work, but all the attention will be on how she appears to have been trying to raise money for herself. and lester, she wouldn't say anything arriving in l.a. there, but she has issued a statement
tonight. she says, "i very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused. it is true that my financial situation is under stress. however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and i am very sorry that this has happened. i can confirm that the duke of york was not aware or involved in any of the discussions that occurred. i am, sincerely, sorry for my actions, she says. and she says the duke has made a significant contribution to his business role over the last ten years and has always acted with complete integrity." lester? when we come back tonight, a memorable catch of the day from florida. that was pretty sweet. ha ha. but you did have eight layers of sweet crunchy back up. what can i say? you're the man. or -- you know, the little dude. ha. that's me. [ female announcer ] stay on your game by stopping mid-morning hunger with kellogg's® frosted mini-wheats® cereal. an excellent source of fiber from 100% whole grain that helps you stay full, so you can stay focused. uh, he's a little focused right now. can i take a message?
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the iceland volcano that erupted last month for the first time in 200 years is finally quiet tonight. the eruption quite possibly over. at its height, volcanic ash closed air space throughout northern europe and grounded flights for almost a week, but now officials say only steam is coming out and volcanic activity is minimal.
in recent years, the most dangerous predator in the ocean has increasingly been the prey, but now in florida, shark fisherman are joining forces with scientists in an effort to track the populations of these magnificent fish. nbc's kerry sanders has our story. >> reporter: motoring to an early morning ritual, and then -- >> three, two, one -- good luck, guys! >> reporter: the race is on. like so many fishing tournaments these days, they're after the same big prize money target -- sharks. the u.s. government estimates a half million sharks are caught and killed in u.s. waters every year by sport fishermen. but this year, off the sarasota, florida, coast, after decades of contention between angulares and scientists, cooperation. after the catch, the shark is transferred to a waiting boat, where a team of shark experts from marine laboratories begin to gather data. >> tl is 226.
>> reporter: carefully, they drill holes, and then attach a satellite tag. >> this fin doesn't have any blood supply or much in the way of nerves, so it doesn't really bother him. it's like clipping a fingernail, to go through there. >> reporter: for the next year -- >> a great hammerhead shark, female. >> reporter: -- they'll track this 7'6" hammerhead. the biologists in time in the water with the just-caught sharks, and now even more curious with the growing oil spill in the gulf. >> we may see her change her direction. and i certainly hope she does avoid the oil, because oil is not good for sharks. >> dr. bob huder is one of the nation's leading shark experts. >> unfortunately, we are fishing these animals to death. >> reporter: it wasn't always like this. sport fishermen didn't target sharks until 1975. that's when everything changed. when a highly popular book was turned into a movie. "jaws" was a game changer.
nationwide, shark tournaments exploded. with some competitions today netting the winners $400,000, conservations hope to erase the need for those money shots. >> the guy harvey ultimate shark challenge -- >> reporter: by streaming shark tournaments live to dockside crowds. >> reporter: sharks, the hunter, now the hunted. but at least here, released. kerry sanders, nbc news, sarasota, florida. and up next, the end of an era. one of television's longest-running shows signs off. hoo? omnaris. [ men ] omnaris -- to the nose! [ man ] did you know nasal symptoms like congestion can be caused by allergic inflammation? omnaris relieves your symptoms by fighting inflammation. side effects may include headache, nosebleed, and sore throat. [ inhales deeply ] i told my allergy symptoms to take a hike. omnaris. ask your doctor. battling nasal allergy symptoms? omnaris combats the cause. get omnaris for $11 at omnaris.com.
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tomorrow night on this network, the end of a television era. "law & order," the gritty police and legal drama will wrap after an incredible 20-year run. the show's success has generated three successful spin-offs, with another coming in the fall and its familiar format made a star out of new york city itself. here's nbc's mike taibbi. >> a guy comes in and he fires. is he sending a message? >> reporter: there's the clang -- ♪ a reminder that it's a show about cops and d.a.s, and then the crime. almost always a murder. >> what kind of mugger strangles? >> reporter: examined with typical new york attitude.
>> unless they knew each other. smell romance? >> love at last sight. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: viewers always know what they're getting. >> you hear anything last night? >> reporter: the cops trying to solve the case in the first half hour, and in the second -- >> if i don't listen to my -- >> reporter: the d.a.'s trying to prove it with surprises and moral dilemmas along the way. sam waterston as prosecutor jack mccoy said "law & order" succeeded where other crime shows failed. >> i didn't realize that going to the newspapers was in an exhaustible source of stories. >> reporter: the original "ripped from the headline" show and its spin-offs became a $1 billion juggernaut and an endless casting call that in two decades handed out nearly 6,000 speaking parts and more than twice as many shots as extras. >> we'd like to help, but you have to help too. >> they're uniformed policemen, there are the ladies on the street corner, there are nurses, there are doctors.
there's every conceivable kind of new yorker. >> reporter: some in featured roles were already famous, like julia roberts. but for most, "l&o" was an early stepping stone. samuel jackson, cynthia nixon, veteran new york film and television actor john korks was a defense attorney in the first of three "l&o" roles. >> there's an order to l"law & order" and you sensed that. >> reporter: new york city itself became a familiar character. even these courthouse steps became a touchstone for fans. it's where mccoy would scowl after a tough day or a wrongly exonerated defendant would gloat for the media before being arrested by lenny briscoe, or in one episode i remember, being gunned down by the enraged relative of a victim. for two decades, it thrived on the crime of the day and by the beauty and ugliness of human behavior. >> it's all messed and you loved the mess and that's what it communicated to us. >> reporter: and it repeated its gritty lessons, that jus i