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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 20, 2016 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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>> i don't think, so double checked it. >> thank you so much, bryan. our keith cate is in cuba and at 11:00 tonight he'll be covering cuba and the president's historic visit. the president landed in cuba a few hours ago. we'll keep you up to date. on nightly news they'll be covering it as well. on this sunday night, historic visit. president obama in havana symbolically opening anigh era in u.s. relations with cuba as some carry on the fight against a still repressive regime. trail of violence at donald trump's campaign events. we speak to a protester who found himself being punched and kicked. distracted driving may have caused a crash that toppled a school bus carrying a high school basketball team. remarkably everyone survived. and, dear, mr. president, one woman's letter from havana gets a response from president
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now, she hopes he will stop by for a thank you and a coffee. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from havana. good evening from a rainy havana, behind me the museum of the revolution. just a few hours ago this communist nation welcomed president obama who is stepping on to cuban soil under a falling rain became the first american president to visit here in 88 years. as part of his two-day trip, the president will meet with cuban leader raul castro and make an address to the cuban people hoping to further nudge open doors of travel and commerce eight months after the two nations re-established diplomatic ties. there are years of mistrust to unravel and an american economic embar go in place. chief foreign affairs
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joins me with more on today. >> good evening, lester. what a day it has been. president obama has been working towards date for years, an historic presidential visit he hopes will make his opening to cuba a major part of his legacy. >> reporter: in driving rain, president obama touched down in havana, hoping to cement his high-stakes cuba diplomacy with a rare personal touch. bringing the entire first family. michelle obama, the obama daughters, and his mother-in-law. he immediately tweeted in local slang, how is it going, cuba. que bola, cuba. just touched down looking forward to meeting and hearing from the cuban people. cuba has been painting, primping, repaving roads for weeks. security is intense. on this palm sunday the president is visiting the cathedral in old havana, thanking the country's cardinal ortega with pope francis brokered secret talks bre tween president obama and raul cass troechlt also coming here, ceo's to sign deals for hotels,
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to boost biz not the president lifted restrictions so americans can travel here easily. to reach millions of cuban tv fans he retaped a routine with cuba's biggest comedy star. >> this is president obama. >> reporter: times are changing since a young fidel castro launched his revolution. the u.s. retaliated with an economic boycott. more than a half century of suspicion dies slowly. a weekly silent women's protest against rat sheem was disrupted by counterprotesters. arrests on both sides. the u.s. and scuba still disagree over free elections and free speech. some cubans have moved to canada but now see business opportunities. i've may ask, why did you leave cuba? >> it was more about the way the country works and the way the country is run. it was more about the limitations and the loss.
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internet, a young blogger is hopeful. >> the fights between our countries many are not relevant anymore. and my generation doesn't have to pay for old grudges. >> reporter: overshadowing this visit, cuba's frustration with the u.s. economic embargo which congress refuses to lift. and worry that if a republican is i elected all president obama's changes will be reversed a reason the president will press cuba hard this week to spiepd the pace of change. lester. >> good to have you here. upon arrival here in cuba i spoke with washington's top diplomat in havana, at the u.s. embassy for decades known as the u.s. intrasection which many saw as symbol of american resolve to undermine the communist government. i asked the ambassador what it stands for now. >> i would like to think it stands for the beacon of hope, a beacon of opportunity, the american way of life. it is about reconciliation,
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and looking to the future with a much more productive relationship but also one where we can have frank discussion as but ideas and issues where we do not agree such as, such as human rights. >> do you have any disappointment in the skew ban government's pace of change -- there is still a lot of iesh us in terms of private investment, private sector here? >> we would like to see them move faster. in a variety of different areas. but i think we have to be patient again where, where changing relationship that had gone in one direction for a long time. >> then there is the issue of the dissidents which continue to be jailed. many people think that, having the president come here is almost a reward, an undeserved reward for the cuban government. how do you respond to that? >> well, re-establishing diplomatic relations is not a reward. we feel strongly that advocating
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and values scan be best achieved through engagement. >> as some one who has deep experience in this country do you ever find yourself looking past the castros and -- what the future of this country might be? >> there will be a leadership change in february of 2018. president castro said he will step down. and so we'll see in the upcoming party congress next month if there is any hint to what the transition might look like. but things are moving on. >> are you optimistic? >> i'm optimistic that we can make this relationship a more productive one that benefits americans and benefits cubans alike. >> ambassador jeffrey delaurentis. despite improving relations some are trying to leave their country, some are dying in the process. the u.s. coast guard says nine
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18 rescued by a cruise ship. found on a boat friday. 130 miles west of marco island, southwest, florida. many cubans are making the journey now out of fear that the u.s. law that for years has given cubans special immigration status will change as relations with scuba improve. new concerns were raised this weekend about violence at donald trump's campaign events. specifically how his campaign and security staff are responding to protesters. the latest incident came last night and today, trump defended what took place. our gabe gutierrez has our report. >> reporter: this weekend the anger boiled over. in tucson, a protester in a white hood escorted out by police. another one behind him repeatedly punched and kicked by men in the crowd. that protester, brian sanders, spoke with nbc's jacob rascone. >> because this political movement has gotten to the point where you may get beat to death inside of a rally.
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>> reporter: it is this video raising even more questions. trump's campaign manager, appears to grab the collar of another protester yanked away by a member of trump's private security. today trump strongly defending him. >> security at the arena, the police were alittle bit lax. he had, they had signs up in the area that were horrendous. i will give him credit. >> reporter: last week, a reporter from breitbart, filed a complaint accusing him off salt. he has not been charged. the long time gop rop atiff took a break to work as a new hampshire state police officer. >> it is very unusual. unprecedented for a campaign manager to be out in the crowd being involved in security. >> ted cruz campaigning in arizona. >> there is now only one campaign in a position to beat donald trump and win the republican nomination. polls show he trails trump there but leads in utah getting unlikely support from the
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john kasich betting on a contested convention. >> listen nobody is going to the convention with enough delegates. at the end i will get picked i can win in the fall. >> amid reports of a 100 day stop trump campaign in the works here in florida the front-runner its set to speak to local gop leaders. tomorrow, trump will leave here and head to washington to speak at the apac conference. some of those attending planning to walk out. because of trump's previous controversial comments about immigration and the israeli palestinian conflict. lester. all right, gabe gutierrez, tonight. thank you. officials in belgium said today the newly captured suspect in the paris terrorist attacks may have been planning more violence. hope to learn from him what happened in paris and the broader threat from isis inside of europe. our keir simmons reports from brussels. >> reporter: salah abdeslam arrested made gunfire and
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may have been planning another attack. >> he was ready to restart something from brussels. it maze in the is maybe the reality. we have found weapons. heavy weapons. >> reporter: his knowledge of the paris massacre last november that may be crucial. since salah abdeslam was discovered in this building in brussels he has been talking and there are many questions surrounding the attacks in paris that he could answer. the explosives used in the paris attacks, tatp, require an experienced bomb maker. where is he? according to "the new york times," which says it has seen a police report, french investigators describe salah abdeslam as the logistics guy. so can he detail the original plan? while reports confirmed by nbc news reveal the suspected ringleader, adbelhamid abaaoud hid in bushes three nights after the attacks.
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ultimately he died during a paris police raid, leaving abdeslam as the only known living member of the paris cell. how much does he know? >> >> extremely proficient at it. i don't see those people sharing old information. >> reporter: abdeslam relied on a large network of friends to stay hidden, the belgian prosecutor says. the continuing and most urgent question tonight how many more isis operatives are on the run in europe? keir simmons, nbc news, brussels. officials in indiana are investigating whether a distraction caused a woman to drive her car into a school bus carrying a high school basketball team this weekend. the bus rolled over, but remarkably everyone survived. steve patterson has details. >> reporter: a startling scene that seemed tragic. >> oh, sweet jesus. >> reporter: a school bus on its back half crushed.
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of the griffith high school basketball team, heading to the big state tournament. their hoop dreams side swiped by a seemingly distracted driver. police say in the next lane, a 23-year-old driver lost the lid on her drink, spilling it losing control of her car swerving it into the side of the bus. >> my buddies on the ground, can't move, can't walk. it really hurt. >> reporter: a surgeon from north carolina who happened to be driving by stopped to help. >> honestly, even as a trained health professional, you see upside down school bus it's, every parent's worst nightmare. and you fear goes through you, horror. >> reporter: police are investigating the crash and no one has been charged. remarkably no one suffered life threatening injuries. today, a prayer service in thank thanks instead of mourning. >> the prayers have been answered, obviously. because we are all walking. we are all talk which matters. >> reporter: not exactly the
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but one they will gladly accept. >> we are going to try to recuperate to bring a state ring possibly back here. that that's the main goal. >> reporter: with big dreams still to strive for. steve patterson, nbc news. what an awful sight to see a crumpled school bus like that. a close call on the road today. this one at 200 miles an hour. spanish driver clipped the end of another car at australian grand prix in melbourne. his car careened off the track, flipped twice, went airborne and broke apart before coming to a stop at a safety barrier. the driver shaken up, but amazingly able to walk away from the crash. incredible. on this first day of spring, we are watching a winter storm as it brings snow to the northeast tomorrow and into this evening. let's get the latest. we have winter weather advisories and warnings across the northeast, especially across new england.
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higher snowfall totals. the storm will strengthen out over the water overnight. the mid atlantic brushed by the western side of the storm. we go through the morning. southern new england will see heavy pockets of snow. moves up into maine by early afternoon monday. new york area, just about an inch on grassy surfaces. farther east, higher the snowfall totals will be. 6 to 10 inches, southeastern mississippi. up into down east maine. washington, d.c., new york, i don't see a lot of travel troubles early tomorrow morning. head into new england, could see troubles until noontime. then this whole storm system will race away by the time we go into sunday afternoon. lester. >> all right, suddenly this rain doesn't seem so bad around us. >> when nightly news continues on this sunday, they made it to italy. we will tell you why the migrants still feel dangerous close by. later from here in havana, meet a wom why do some cash back cards keep throwing obstacles at you? first - they limit where you
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some street scenes here in havana earlier today before the rain moved in. overseas, as the migrant crisis plays out in europe, some of those who have come in search of a better life and often to escape violence have found refuge and work in the fields of italy, working lands and it turns out have a notorious violent connection of their own. we get more from sicily and bill nealy. >> reporter: in the dark heart
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stronghold of corleone, new muscle works the land. migrants have taken over vineyards confiscated from jailed mafia bosses. they fled violence and poverty at home, to work in a place that is known for both. but here they are paid, fed, and clothed. many though were afraid to be identified, afraid of mafia vengeance. from time to time you feel a bit scared? >> some times i feel scared. >> you are looking over your shoulder? >> i am alone here, maybe, maybe sometimes we fear. >> reporter: many migrants already know mafia or at least the word. it is originally arabic, meaning "a place of refuge" which is what they have here. safety in mafia country. for now. hired from refugee camps, they now live in houses once owned by mafia leaders. like toto "the beast" rena. jailed for dozens of murders.
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land back. >> corleone. >> i tried to protect the guys. i tried to protect myself. >> reporter: in corleone, they sell the wine from the migrants' vineyard. but not everyone is buying. mafia ties run deep here and sicily's war against the mob is far from won. the mayor of the capital, compares the mafia to isis. he is heavily guarded, supports the migrants, loathes the mafia. >> i am the boss against the boss of the mafia. >> reporter: the mafia is not dead. hundreds more migrants landed in sicily in recent days. authorities want more of them in the mafia's old killing fields. the godfather is behind bars can do little as the migrants work their land and watch their backs. bill nealy, nbc news, sicily.
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stars are very far away in a cluster known as r-136. nasa says they're also far brighter than the sun. and two emerald green comets are expected to make relatively close encounters with our planet. the first will fly within 3.3 morning. the second will be just 2.2 million miles away on tuesday. while that may seem still far off, we are told it will be the closest a comet has come to our world since 1770. pope francis celebrated palm sunday mass today before tens of thousands in st. peter's square. he highlighted the plight of refugees flooding into europe. a picture of the pope carrying a woven palm branch appeared on his new instagram account. since joining this weekend, the pope has become an instant instagram star with 1.4 million followers. and when we come back here tonight, we'll visit it a woman here in havana who would just with advil liqui-gels, you'll ask
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classic cars. some of the moving tourist attractions here in havana. finally tonight, president obama's visit to this island has deep meaning to many ordinary cubans who until now could only dream of an historic changes unfolding before them. they include a woman in havana who has exchanged letters with the president. and is hoping to thank him personally. >> reporter: in the well used kitchen our her home, she honors cuban tradition making a strong, rich cup of cafe cubano for visitors. a practice run perhaps in case her dream guest ever comes. how many letters have you
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>> five. >> reporter: starting in 2008 when barack obama was first running for president. iliana sat down at her computer to write. >> i just want to ask you to please lift the embargo. >> reporter: then on election night, 2008. a real rarity in cuba, iliana was able to watch results on television and report back to her family. i heard you opened a very expensive bottle of champagne? is it true? >> it is. >> reporter: and she wrote more letters. >> mr. president -- >> reporter: in her last one a thank you for opening the diplomatic door to cuba and invitation to open her own. >> please, please, to visit me. give this 76 years old cuban lady the gift of meeting you personally. >> reporter: like the other letters she never expected president obama to read it. but he did. >> oh, my god. i can't believe it. >> reporter: a response came, hand delivered. as an official white house photo
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he wrote, i hope this note which will reach you by way of the first direct mail flight between the united states and cuba in over 50 years, serves as a reminder of a bright new chapter in the relationship between our two nations. no mention though of iliana's other request. >> i insist that if you ever come to cuba please do come and have coffee. >> reporter: if he does come he will find her cafe cubano is like she is, delightful, sweet and good. oh, wow. that's good coffee. >> that's good coffee. >> reporter: by the way, she says he should bring his family. >> my heart is open. my heart is always very optimistic. perhaps my brain is not, but the heart is. a cup sound real good right about now. that is "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. i'm lester holt. reporting from cuba. i will be right back here
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welcome to "little big shots." you have ner seen kids like the ones who are coming out here today. one, two, three come on, girl they are talented, they are fun, they are funny, and they come from everywhere across this country and all around the world. i was doing gymnastics when i was 2 could i go to the baby class -no. they have to do a cartwheel, and i don't know if you can do one yourself. [ cheers and applause ] you will not believe your eyes or your ears. this boy! he feels me better when my daddy or my mama whoop me.

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