tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 29, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
breaking news tonight. health secretary tom price is out, under fire for his use of private jets, resigning after promising to repay a fraction of taxpayer money. lashing out. growing anger over the puerto rico disaster response. >> we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency. >> local officials furious. president trump insisting his administration is doing an incredible job. tonight millions desperate for help. cuba travel alert. americans warned not to visit cuba. embassy staff ordered out after mystery attacks on diplomats. another violent collapse in yosemite's el capitan. why are climbers not being kept away? and hidden hotel fees. if you're off for a
billhidden "nightly news" begins right now. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. apologies and reimbursements were not enough to save president trump's embattled health and human services secretary who a short time ago resigned over his high-flying travel ways at taxpayers' expense. we'll get to those breaking details shortly, but we want to start with the incredibly emotional plea today from the mayor of san juan, puerto rico. a cry for help. we are dying, she said, as she angrily demanded washington untangle the bottleneck that has prevented aid from reaching so many puerto ricans suffering from the aftermath of hurricane maria. the dark picture she painted this afternoon in sharp contrast to the rosy assessment being put forward by
nbc's gabe gutierrez has late details. >> i'm done being polite. i am done being politically correct. i am mad as hell. >> reporter: san juan's mayor this afternoon making an emotional plea directly to the president. >> i beg you to take charge and save lives. we are dying here. and i cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island. >> reporter: ripping into fema for not distributing aid fast enough. >> if we don't get the food and the water into people's hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide. >> reporter: representative enrique melendez agrees even though he supported president trump during the election. >> where is the navy? where is the army? we need them right now. not next week. >>ep
ricardo rossello is still in charge of the recovery efforts but is now getting more support from the military. >> we've been getting more assets, and we're showing it. >> reporter: fema says the island's geography is complicating the relief effort. but today president trump again praised the federal response. >> it's been incredible the results that we've had with respect to loss of life. people can't believe how successful that has been relatively speaking. >> i respectfully disagree with president trump. and i am sure that he is not getting the data that we are seeing in the streets. >> reporter: today acting homeland security secretary elaine duke visited the island. >> clearly, the situation here in puerto rico, after the devastating hurricane, is not satisfactory, but together we are getting there. >> reporter: but just outside san juan elizabeth reyes stood in the blazing sun with her 2-month-old daughter for hours. >> everyone is desperate. everyone wts
everyone wants got a few supplies. but then there's tomorrow. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, catania, puerto rico. this is tammy leitner with the marines on a critical mission. vieques, just eight miles off the eastern coast of puerto rico, is still desperate for aid. we flew in on a marine chopper filled with food, water and medical supplies. this is one of many trips they'll be making to this island. food is dwindling, water is scarce. there is no fuel. nathan parents has flown 45 people off the island. >> a lot of people want to get off. >> reporter: rebecca anderson has lived here for nine years. >> we want to stay. but there's no work here for us. we work in tourism, and there's not going to be any tourism for a while. it's heartbreaking. >> reporter: one family getting out. so many others wait at the airport desperate for news. >> we need fuel. we need water. >> reporr:
the ground for first time >> the situation naturally is bad. >> reporter: fear setting in. the future unknown. tammy leitner, nbc news, vieques, puerto rico. let's turn to that other major story we're following. health and human services secretary tom price resigning late today after a firestorm erupted over his use of private planes on the taxpayers' dime. now another cabinet member is under scrutiny for his travel, too. nbc news chief white house correspondent hallie jackson has the late details. >> reporter: tonight tom price's bumpy ride now ending at the health and human services agency after a growing controversy over his pricey trips on private jets. president trump first leaving his secretary in suspense. >> he's a very fine man, but we're going to make a decision some time tonight. >> reporter: an hour later making it official. accepting price's resignation. >> i think he's a very fine person.
the optics. the cost of his seat on those private planes, $51,000. with taxpayers on the hook for the rest of that reported $400,000 total. >> clearly we got -- weren't sensitive to the taxpayer on these instances. >> reporter: that damage control too little too late. >> taxpayers are outraged by this use of their money especially when they see budgets being cut. >> reporter: price, a doctor and former georgia congressman, led the health agency through a rocky summer that saw healthcare reform fail repeatedly. >> he better get them. oh, he better. otherwise i'll say, tom, you're fired! >> reporter: now, the travel scrutiny's spreading to price's cabinet colleagues. treasury secretary steven mnuchin is under review after making then dropping a request to use a government jet for his european honeymoon, he says for secure communications. and today interior secretary ryan zinke --
>> reporter: he's now acknowledging three private charter flights he's taken this year including to the virgin islands and one trip from vegas to montana that cost taxpayers $12,000. >> every time i travel, i submit the travel plan to the ethics department. they evaluate it line by line. >> reporter: and in this new letter tonight, the budget director reminds all agencies every penny they spend comes from the taxpayers. price yet another high profile departure for this administration along with sean spicer, reince priebus, steve bannon, all leaving right before a weekend. call it farewell fridays around here, lester. >> hallie jackson at the white house tonight, thank you. the united states today ordered a drastic reduction of its diplomatic staff in cuba after a series of strange attacks against americans working at the embassy there. at the same time all americans were warned against traveling to cuba. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has the latest.
thordering most of the american staff at the u.s. embassy in cuba home, and secretary of state rex tillerson advising u.s. citizens to avoid travel to cuba. a major blow to the new u.s./cuba relationship. >> some very bad things happened in cuba. very bad things. >> reporter: the rare move in response to mysterious attacks against 21 u.s. diplomats. tillerson tonight describing their injuries. hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. earlier this week cuba's foreign minister rushing to washington, telling tillerson cuba was not behind it. the fbi and cia in havana now investigating what experts are calling targeted attacks from small sonic devices. how do these devices work, these acoustic devices? >> we're likely talking about something where you have no idea it's happening. it's beneath your ability to hear or actually above the sound frequency that you would hear it audibly. >> reporter: the bizarre attacks coming two years after
ng half century cold war. supporters of diplomatic relations suggest russia could be to blame, trying to break up havana's fledgling relationship with the u.s. >> if we were suddenly to leave, russia benefits by that a great deal. >> reporter: today's travel warning could hurt cruise ships and airlines, but although some of the attacks took place in hotels, american tourists tonight were unfazed. >> everything is safe. nobody is trying to hurt us or get us or threaten us or anything. >> reporter: and tonight still no idea who is behind the attacks. cuba calling the u.s. decision hasty, even as florida senator marco rubio, a cuban american, says the state department was not tough enough. lester? >> all right, andrea, thank you. here in california, there's been a second massive rock slide in as many days at yosemite's famed el capitan. falling boulders have killed one tourist and injured others, but climbers are not being kept away.
there tonight. >> reporter: when el capitan began to suddenly crumble, massive sheets of granite rattled, then dropped 1800 feet. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: a towering wall of boulders and dust thundering into the yosemite valley, pushing some cars off the road. many visitors caught in the plume. some hit by rocks. >> relax. it's a cut. >> this is the day i die. >> no, it's not. it's not the day you die. >> reporter: incredibly no fatalities. one victim airlifted to a regional hospital. this is where rock climber peter zabrok watched it all. >> absolutely unbelievable. we were on the summit. we are all safe. >> reporter: thursday's massive slide, officials say, is 22 times larger than the one just the day before when a slab of rock the size of an apartment building camesh
one british tourist was killed. his wifeioly injured. there's no clear reason why el cap is crumbling. eight major rock slides in just two days. >> yosemite national park, by definition, is a wild place. ultimately, these climbers need to make decisions on their own and good decisions. >> reporter: tonight clear signs of danger in all of this beauty. a sight to behold and beware. >> miguel, you mentioned eight slides here in the last couple of days. why are they not pulling climbers off the mountain, closing it for the time being? >> reporter: lester, rangers say the park is safe, but what has happened behind me is part of the natural process here in yosemite park. they say this happens every day though usually not in this size. and as you mentioned right now, more than two dozen climbers are scaling that huge
mountain behind me, lester. >> miguel almaguer at yosemite, thank you. now to a disturbing story at one of america's elite military academies. this month there had been a number of reported racial slurs and incidents cropping up on college campuses nationwide. the latest at the u.s. air force academy where the commander's response was so powerful it has been seen and shared across the country today. nbc's peter alexander has details. >> reporter: at one of america's premier service academies, a powerful lesson in leadership. >> you should be outraged not only as an airman but as a human being. >> reporter: the head of the air force academy lieutenant general jay silveria summoning 4,000 cadets after five black students at the academy's prep school this week found the words "go home" and a racial slur on their doors. >> this is our institution, and no one can take away our values. >> reporter: silveria imploring his cadets not to be tone deaf to the racial tensions in the country. >> like charlottesville and ferguson, the protests in the nfl. becawh
have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues. >> reporter: among the students targeted, jason bland's son. his father telling nbc news the real victim is the person raised with that kind of hatred. adding, americans should boycott hate. >> the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, we come from all backgrounds, the power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. >> reporter: then this unusual request. >> reach for your phones. i'm serious. reach for your phones. >> reporter: so his words would be indelible. >> and you use them and you remember them and you share them and you talk about them. if you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out. >> reporter: a message delivered loud and clear. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. still ahead tonight, what's behind all those hidden new fees that show up on your hotel bill? they may be covering
also, the big win north korea, and why some think it could go beyond just sports. and w whoa. this looks worse than i thought. mike and jen doyle? yeah. time for medicare, huh. i have no idea how we're going to get through this. follow me. choosing a plan can be super-complicated. but it doesn't have to be. unitedhealthcare can guide you through the confusion, with helpful people, tools and plans. including the only plans with the aarp name. well that wasn't so bad at all. that's how we like it. aarp medicare plans, from unitedhealthcare. my shoulders carry some i deserve others i don't but in the end only one name really matters because shoulders were made for greatness, not dandruff ♪ stare with me into the abyss ( ♪ )
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even without methotrexate, and is also available back now with something that frustrates so many travelers. have you ever gotten your hotel bill and been shocked by unexpected charges? so-called resort fees are being charged at some hotels that many wouldn't consider resorts at all. nbc's tom costello has more. >> reporter: how often has it happene
you check out of a usa, and there on your bill is an unexpected charge.town, usa, and there on your bill is an unexpected charge. when wisconsin dr. ajit pillai and his family went to new york he expected the charge for the crown plaza in times square but not the extra $30 a night resort fee in the fine print on the internet. >> i think it's a bait and switch. i think they hook you with the lower fee, then they add this to make up for it. >> reporter: resort fees, service fees, urban destination fees. hotels say they cover amenities like wifi, a newspaper, pool access, turndown service and so-called complimentary drinks. but 47 state attorneys general are now investigating whether hotels are being transparent and honest about adding the fees. >> we don't think it's fair to consumers that they're going in thinking they're paying one rate and they're coming out paying another. >> reporter: crown plaza didn't respond to our request for comment. marriott is among the hotels named in the investigation though it a t
industry tell nbc news those fees remain transparwhine or with the hotel directly. if unexpected fees sound familiar, experts say the hotels got the idea from the airlines which now charge for everything from luggage to leg room. >> the airlines have proved that it is very, very profitable to charge extra fees. they're making billions of dollars in extra fees. now the hotels are, too. >> reporter: dr. pillai says loyalty goes both ways. >> it's not like staying at epcot or disneyworld where it truly is a resort. >> reporter: he's pledging never to return to hotels that don't disclose all their fees before he checks in. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we'll take a short break and be back in a moment with a bold new plan for a mission to mars at high speed rocket travel right here on earth.
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at a competition in germany, a pair of north korean figure skaters earned their country's first spots at the winter olympics next year in south korea. whether they'll participate remains to be seen. we get more from nbc's jo ling kent. >> reporter: for four minutes a performance that moved a crowd and lifted hopes. 18-year-old tae-ok ryum and ju-sik kim earned the first spot for north korea at next year's olympics. ryum saying despite the different nationalities that i could make our supporters happy brought me the greatest happiness. south korea's president saying if the north participates it will be a great opportunity to send a message of peace to the world. but security concerns loom over these games. last week france suggested that, without assurances that their athletes was be safe, it may skip the olympics. american figure skater ashley wagner, who won bronze in sochi, is
[000:22:59;00] >> i would never do anything that i felt would threaten my life, but this is the olympics. this is where the world comes together to celebrate sport and hard work and people's dreams being accomplished. >> reporter: during the rio olympics, this photo of north and south korean gymnasts went viral. north korea has until october 30th to decide whether to use the spot. today ryum saying, we want to become world champions. it's a common dream that connects athletes across countries in a world where so much else divides. jo ling kent, nbc news, los angeles. how would you like to get anywhere on earth in under an hour? spacex ceo elon musk has a plan to do it unveiling video that features a rocket taking people to shanghai in 30 minutes. musk claims that eventually a seat would cost about the same as an economy plane ticket, but the rocket, which is also intended for missions
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injured while serving their tr the invictus games have been going on all week in toronto, championed by britain's prince harry. and for one american veteran, it was a remarkable run as she racked up a string of medals. nbc's kevin tibbles tonight on how she is inspiring america. >> and they are off. >> reporter: they are competitors but also soldiers and survivors. >> you are all winners. >> reporter: the invictus games are the passion of britain's prince harry. >> let's get started. >> reporter: this year his first public outing with girlfriend meghan markle created a buzz. but they want the focus to be on the field where the real heroes shine. athletes like sara rudder, a fierce competitor and proud marine. she copes every day with the loss of her leg. >> i look at this wall, and i tell myself no more excuses. let's go. how many oceans are there? >> reporter: when she is not in training,
she's a mom and a neighborhood coach. she was injured after 9/11 whe falling slab of concrete crushed her ankle. what bothers her most -- not being able to fight in the war on terror. >> that anger inside of me still haunts me daily, that i couldn't go and serve with them. >> reporter: so instead she serves as an example. >> can she catch rudder? >> reporter: while leading the 200 meters last year she stumbled and fell, but she did not stay down. >> i was like, i got to finish this. so i got up and i finished and finished in second. >> reporter: that superhuman will comes from her superhuman hero, wonder woman. >> we still need to rise every single day, no matter how much we're pounded down. >> reporter: at this year's games, sara won seven medals, five of them gold. overcoming constant pain to reach the top and embody the spirit of the invictus games. kevin tibbles, nbc news, temecula, california. we appreciate you
news, thank you for watching and good night. how could you? >> what? >> after all the anticipation and all that hype was the new "will & grace" a hit-or-miss? >> no. no, no, no. oprah for president? that's what she said before, but wait until you hear what she is saying today. hey, tyra, are you a little