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tv   NBC Bay Area News at 11  NBC  May 27, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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a waterfall of lights to start a spectacular fireworks show at the golden gate bridge for the 75th anniversary. the investigation raising new questions about construction of the new span of the bay bridge. an emotional vigil tonight for the family of michelle lay one year after her disappearance. good evening. i'm diane dwyer. it was a feast for the eyes in san francisco tonight.
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$ the most-photographed bridge in the world was seen in a whole new light. a spectacular fireworks show lit up the golden gate bridge, which turned 75 today in case you hadn't heard. this was the grand finale of the anniversary celebration that has really been going on for months. we have live team coverage tonight. we want to begin with george kiriyama at the waterfront. hello, george. >> reporter: hello, diane. there are firework shows and then there's tonight's golden gate fireworks show. from start to finish, those who braved the cold were treated to a colorful display of lasers and lights. ♪ >> reporter: an explosion of colors in the sky above the golden gate bridge did not disappoint the thousands who came out. >> it's the best fireworks i've seen here in the united states united states. >> live is always better. at home you can't cap purchase the spirit the way you can live.
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>> reporter: a historic moment. 75 years the golden gate has stood tall and proud in the san francisco bay. >> this is history in the making. 75 years of the golden gate bridge. it's nice to be part of it. >> it's majestic, i love it. we take it for granted but it's a beautiful part of the bay area. what else can you ask for? >> reporter: the bridge has deep symbolism for those who have laid eyes on it. love, prosperity, dedication. the golden gate touches people's hearts in different ways. >> we definitely see our family, it symbolizes an active family. >> my heart is here. it's got a lot of meaning behind it. >> reporter: families, friends, and those who have recently fallen in love. there's something special about this bridge. even a 6-year-old girl can sum up her feelings in one word. >> awesome. >> reporter: awesome is right. as for the 100th anniversary in 2037, i overheard people already making plans for it. a 10-year-old boy told me he
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plans to bring his kids to the event. of course, he'll be 35 at that point. very nice for him. we're live here on the marina green near the golden gate bridge, george kiriyama, nbc news. >> i'll be there for the 100th too, thank you george. a spectacular show for the masses but tonight the celebration means a little bit more for a smaller groupf people. nbc bay area's stephanie chuang has the latest. >> reporter: hi, diane. lots of people, tens of thousands came here to crissy field to watch the show. but again, i spoke with those two people who say the celebration goes beyond history for them and boils down to family and some very special memories. >> i just bought it because i thought it was a beautiful automobile. i wasn't caring much about history in those days. >> reporter: for over 50 years
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robert schultz has been driving a piece of history. this cadillac convertible he calls may flower. >> it was carrying governor merriman in those days. it's held franklin roosevelt in parades. >> reporter: it was the first to cross the golde gate bridge when it opened in 1937. behind the car that day somewhere was baby schultz in his father's arms. ever since, the bridge has transcended local history, an imprint on his family's timeline. >> when i turned 60 i said, dad, i don't feel 60 years old, could there have been a problem on the birth certificate? he said, you were 1 year old when they opened that bridge. >> reporter: apparently it was this car, love at first sight. >> he said, you peed on my harris tweed jacket when that cadillac went by. >> reporter: schultz bought the '36 caddie for $5,800. it was a hit at crissy field where we also saw rosie the riveter and dozens of car classics to accompany all the memories. >> the car and i are the same
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age, 76 and still going. i was a year old then so the brunl is younger than i am. >> reporter: speaking of memories -- >> he did get scared hanging over the side. >> reporter: arlene gordon and her family walked miles along the waterfront in honor of her fire, charles heinbackle, who helped build the bridge. he passed away a few years ago. he would have been 100. >> it was a good job and he brought money home to his family. he said, i was just lucky to have a job. >> reporter: a job that's grown into a legacy. >> too beautiful. it really is. it's very beautiful. i'm glad we can be here to honor my dad. >> reporter: arlene says she remembers walking across the bridge with her father for the 50th anniversary celebration but she actually enjoyed this year's more. the festival with the food and live music and dance. and said, as many have today and tonight, she'll be back for the 100th anniversary celebration. live nearol crissy field,
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stephanie trunk, nbc news. people began making their way to crissy field for the celebrations this morning. there was live music and entertainment all day long. we caught up with one family who came to san francisco from the central coast for the celebrations. >> it's really great. the crowds have been fairly light. there's something to do all along the way. we've just done about a four-mile hike from way down the coast, so it's been really beautiful. >> another popular attraction at crissy field today, the road trip through history. it was a showcase of vintage cars from 1937, the year the bridge first opened, to modern hot rods as well. today's celebration was very different from the 50th anniversary in 1987. if you were around the bay area then you'll remember the massive crowds. a million people showed up to celebrate. when about 300,000 or so crammed onto the bridge, the arch of the span flattened. today, former san francisco mayor willie brown reflected on his experience 25 years ago.
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he was assembly speaker back then and was one of the people who planned to walk across the bridge that day. >> with more than 1 million people on the bridge, it appeared to have flattened out, which frightened me. it took almost four hours for me to get off that bridge. in this celebration, i am going to enjoy every second of it, but it will not be in close proximity to anybody. >> we hope he did. this youtube video shows how packed it was on the bridge that day. the former mayor was right, at one point all the weight actually did cause the bridge to flatn, dropping about seven feet from its normal arch. included in that crowd, my four brothers who almost missed my graduation from cal that day when they ended up trapped in the middle of the masses. our live coverage of the golden gate bridge anniversary continues throughout this newscast with additional video of the fireworks coming up. then at 11:30, our own cheryl hurd shows us the amazing view
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of tonight's fireworks display from a boat in the bay. you can go to nbcbayarea.com for more coverage of today's celebration, as well as more from tonight's fireworks show. nbcbayarea.com. in the east bay, it's been an emotional weekend for the family of michelle le, a nursing student who went missing one year ago today in hayward. family and friends held a prayer vigil for le and the family of another missing girl joined in the prayers as well. kimberly terry has more from mt. eden park. >> reporter: this memorial didn't just bring out friends and family of michelle le but perfect strangers, volunteers who helped in the search to find her. also the fally of sierra lamar who came out to support le's family. exactly one year ago, 26-year-old michelle le disappeared from the kaiser permanente hospital parking lot in hayward.
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after months of searching, her body was found in pleasanton. >> it serves a reminder, it can be anyone's daughter, sister, that can be taken the next day. not to take your loved ones for granted. >> michelle, we love you so much. >> reporter: tonight, loved ones gathered to pay tribute to her life. >> i should have told her i loved her more often because i didn't. because she was my sister and you take advantage of that. because your sister is meant to be in your life forever. you're not supposed to leave. >> reporter: le was last seen alive on 7:00 p.m. on this day last year. at exactly 7:00 p.m. tonight, balloons in le's favorite color with notes written to her were released. prayers were said, not just for le but for the family of missing teen sierra lamar, last seen more than two months ago. >> no matter what happens to us, we haven't given up hope sierra lamar is alive. there's no evidence saying she's dead. and we're with the lamars all the way. >> reporter: the two families have become close ever since the
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les started taking part in the search for sierra. >> they've been good to us. >> we wanted to support her because she's done so much for us. >> reporter: a former high school classmate has been charged with le's death. the 28-year-old has pled not guilty. her trial is scheduled for september 17th, exactly one year to the day when le's body was found. le's family plan on being at the trial beginning to end and they just hope that the community supports them as this case moves through the judicial process. still ahead at 11:00, as the golden gate bridge turns 75 there is new tendconcern over t new bay bridge. the investigation that uncovered a potential construction flaw. cal trans provides an update on work on the dumbarton bridge. will it be ready to open in time for tuesday's morning commute? mark zuckerberg has reportedly set his sights on a new project. the new rumor involving
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facebook and smartphones. i'm ross mayeda live at marina green. we had fantastic weather for the fireworks show. now the fog started to roll in and could drop mist and drizzle for your morning commute. we'll talk about that and a big change.
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another bridge in the bay area is making head lines this weekend but for a very different reason. tonight there are concerns about the safety of the new span of the bay bridge. "the sacramento bee" is reporting it found records of an apparent construction defect in the foundation of the signature tower of the new span. a 19-foot section of concrete apparently had not hardened before tests were conducted on it. the newspaper claims a builder
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never reported that defect, which meant the concrete was not further examined or repaired. "the bee" investigation also uncovered problems with the piles and errors in test data. cal trans officials insist the bridge is sound and say they are extremely confident in the foundation's quality. >> if there was in fact soft concrete it would have been readily evident when people were chipping the top of the concrete down to sound concrete. when they went in there, they did that work, they saw no anomalies, everything was fine. bottom line, across the board, we saw that particular concrete has performed very well. we do cylinder strength tests for the concrete pours that are done and we saw no issues whatsoever during the course of the construction work. >> cal trans told nbc officials are preparing to make a formal response to the newspaper's investigation. now to the dumbarton bridge which just closed this memorial weekend for sues pick upgrades. cal trans says the work weather center one-third of the way done at this point. crews are working around the clock installing a new steel
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plate across the entire deck. that plate should allow the bridge to move and be more flexible during an earthquake. >> so replacing is original with a new expanded seismic joint. that gives the deck an additional 18 inches of movement in a seismic event. >> officials say they will have a better idea tomorrow of when the bridge will reopen to traffic. as of right now the plan is to have the bridge open in time for the morning commute on tuesday. san jose police are investigating a double shooting tonight that killed a 16-year-old boy. it happened around midnight last night at a home on virginia avenue near the interchange of 101 and 680. police say they found two people with gunshot wounds, including a 16-year-old boy who died at the scene. another man was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive. police have not made any arrests but say the killing appears to be gang-related. and aormer stanford university president known for clamping down on student
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protests during the vietnam war s died. the university says richard lyman died of congestive heart failure today at 88. he became stanford's seventh president in 1970. he urged riot police to come to campus in 1969 after students broke into the main administration building and vandalized it. former president and former governor of california ronald reagan could soon have a special place at california's capitol. the state assembly unanimously approved a bill on friday that would allow a statue of the former governor to be placed inside the capitol in sacramento. we're told private donations would pay for construction and maintenance. lawmakers say they want to honor reagan because he is the only california governor to become president. this would be the first statue of a govern ever ever allowed on capitol grounds and the bill still needs to be approved in the senate before the statue can get started. we want to check in with rob mayeda about the weather and the fog. it held off, rob.
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>> it did. boy did i breathe a sigh of relief when we had those clear skies. you notice we had a little bit of a costume change here. it is still quite cold here. the flags from this now-empty pavilion you can see still whipping around pretty good. the difference is in the last hour we're starting to see the fog pass through the san bruno gap, spilling into parts of the bay, right around the golden gate bridge starting to see some of that fog. definitely a cool and breezy night here around marina green in san francisco. we're due for some changes. this is the unofficial start to summer. we call it memorial day weekend. we're probably not going to see a big warmup tomorrow. bu satellite show us we're going to be talking about summer-like temperatures coming our way toward the middle part of the week. the satellite view shows you we've got mainly clear conditions but low clouds again approaching the coast. same low clouds will likely drop drizzle and mist from your clouds around the peninsula and inner bay.
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the trough moving to the east, high pressure building in, and a slight offshore wind pattern we think setting up come wednesday. what this is going to do for our inland valleys, put us back into the 80s, maybe 90 by livermore, areas south of san jose seeing upper 80s for the middle part of the week. cool for now. this will carry into monday and tuesday as low clouds surge back inland. low clouds with mist and. drizze into tomorrow morning. as low clouds break up heading into the afternoon, should be a little warmer tom. today highs in the upper 60s to near 70. d tomorrow will call for mid 70s. that's as much as the warmup's going to be for monday. in the meantime for the morning, areas of low clouds. 40s and 50s your highs. mid 70s around morgan hill and gilroy. that's an improvement from today. san jose low 70s. around the tri-valley and east bay, numbers in the mid 70s as well. san francisco though not much change just yet. we need the sea breeze to back off and we're not seeing that
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tonight. notice there tuesday into wednesday, even the coes starting to warm up a little bit as we get toward thursday and friday. thursday should be the most summer-like day of the week as temperatures start to soar up. as we head toward next weekend, looks like we're going to see cooling as temperatures start to drop. sea breeze will kick in like we're seeing now, cooler temperatures. in the meantime, a fantastic event out here. everyone was bundled up, staying warm. boy, those skies are fantastically clear for one of the best fireworks shows i think i have ever seen right here in our own bay area. i'm glad the weather held up. >> way to rub it in that i didn't get to see it in person too, rob. it was fantastic, thanks a lot. we asked folks to send us their favorite picture of golden gate bridge. boy did people pull through for us. we're posting most of them on ou website. you can see them at nbcbayarea.com. you can also still send us your pictures. use the hash tag ggb.
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believe it or not, there was another major celebration going on in san francisco today. it's carnivale in the mission. the parade made it through the mission district to harrison where there was a festival. carnivale is an annual celebration of latin american and caribbean culture that's been going on more than three decades in the city. organizers claim it is the largest celebration on the west coast. still ahead at 11:00, people in the south bay paid millions for them but years later, they're still coming soon. the investigative unit looks into what's holding up credit card readers. a bay area hospital provides a tribute for veterans for memorial day. i'm scott reiss in the comcast sports news room. the a's still can't figure out the new york yankees. plus giants play for a series split in south florida. how the hottest hitter in the
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national league outdid even himself. gonna be pretty amateur.
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thrive in miami. whether it's the heat, the humidity, the bugs, or the marlins pitchers, the orange and black have dropped 10 of their last 13 games in south florida, including the most recent two. a couple of outstanding individual performances turned things around today. one of them from that guy. wake up, matt cain. melky ka br melky cabrera, awesome. top six, 2-1 san francisco. buster posey. that's going to stay in the yard but not by much. winds up a double over the head of brian peterson. melky in, 3-1 joins. cabrera 4 for 4 with three runs scored, two steals. bottom seven, jose reyes drives home peterson to make it a 3-2 ball game. cain 6 2/3, 5 hits, 1 earned run. casilla, 12 saves in 13 chances. giants win 3-2, they were careful with florida's most
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dangerous hitter. >> i'm wondering on stanton, did you care if you walked him or not? >> no. no, that man, he deserves the respect he's gotten around the league. i went out with my best stuff, i fell behind, definitely didn't want to, you know, lose it for cain. it's important for us as a team to win, it's important for me to back up my starters. the a's just cannot beat the yankees at home, it's a proven fact. top two, andruw jones going yard for the fifth time this season, solo shot, 1-0 yanks. top seven. they call him tex. used to play in texas. now he does his thing for the new yorkers. mark teixeira adding to the a's misery, 2-0. bottom nine, last chance. rafael soriano going to get seth smith to end it. 2-0ke yanes complete the sweep of the a's in oakland. >> pitched great. jones hits a home run off him on a first pitch.
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really, that's all they got. really not even too many great swings after that until teixeira hits the ball in the gap. pitched the way we've seen him pitch all year. we're beyond pressing at this point. we've got to try to relax and try not -- we're trying too hard. got to try a little easier. indy 500. last year's winner dan wheldon passed away last october, honored prior to the race. his car making a slow lap around the track. this is strange. mike conway stopped in pit row, actually runs into several members of his own pit crew. they would be okay. final lap, dario franchitti in the lead, loses control, smashing into the wall. saito gets the worst of that. franchitti hangs on for the win. ashley judd loves it. franchitti gets his third indy 500 victory. that will just about do it from the comcast sports net news room.
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giants back tomorrow, a's on the road in minnesota, and happy memorial day. still ahead at 11:00, facebook and smartphones. the new rumors about what could be mark zuckerberg's next big project. the 75th anniversary of the golden gate bridge went out with a bang. a phenomenal fireworks show for those who came out. [ male announcer ] it would be easy for u.s. olympian meb keflezighi
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it has been a symbol of the bay area and california, and tonight it seemed even more grand than usual. a spectacular fireworks show lit up the golden gate bridge, which turned 75 today. this right here, the grand finale of the anniversary celebration with a waterfall of lights, lasers and traditional fireworks combining for quite the show i have to say. let's go to george kiriyama at the waterfront. hello, george. >> reporter: hello, diane. one interesting thing, we were shivering all night. and then the fireworks started and we forgot it was cold. we were treated to a colorful display of lasers and lights. >> reporter: an explosion of colors in the sky above the golden gate bridge did not disappoint the thousands who came out. >> it's the best fireworks i've seen here in the united states united states. >> live is always better. at home you can't capture the spirit the way you can live. >> reporter: a historic moment.
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75 years the golden gate has stood tall and proud in the san francisco bay. >> this is history in the making. 75 years of the golden gate bridge. it's nice to be part of it. >> it's majestic, i love it. to be honest, i take it for granted too but it's a beautiful part of the bay area. what else can you ask for? >> reporter: the bridge has deep symbolism for those who have laid eyes on it. love, prosperity, dedication. the golden gate touches people's hearts in different ways. >> we definitely see our family, it symbolizes an active family. >> my heart is here. it's got a lot of meaning behind it. >> reporter: families, friends, and those who have recently fallen in love. there's something special about this bridge. even a 6-year-old girl can sum up her feelings in one word. >> awesome. >> reporter: and it was awesome. people are already making plans for 2037, the 100th anniversary of the golden gate bridge. one 10-year-old boy told me he's going to bring his kids in 2037.
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he'll be 35 at that point. george kiriyama live near the golden gate bridge. >> that is planning ahead. thanks a lot, george. it was incredible to watch the fireworks, even on television. but nbc bay area's cheryl hurd had a front row seat on the bay. >> reporter: the fireworks display so spectacular, it took my breath away. the buildup well worth the wait. ♪ >> reporter: the dance floor was packed at the sougausalito cruig club. >> definitely an icon of the united states and it's great they're celebrating and there's so much excitement. >> it's another party in the bay. we party hearty. >> reporter: tonight it was all about the 75th anniversary of the golden gate bridge. >> it's like it brings everybody together. it's like what really the bay is all about. i love the bay, i love the people of the bay, and this is nirvana. this is nirvana.
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sausalito, where the bomb, bomb, bomb. >> reporter: so much buildup for the million-dollar fireworks display. once the sun went down, folks headed out to get a front row seat to celebrate the birthday of the most-recognized bridge in the world. >> when you have people come from out of town coming here, the first thing you want to show them is the golden gate bridge. it's beautiful, it's great to see it every day, just wonderful to live here. >> reporter: those who celebrated tonight can't wait for the centennial celebration. in the bay, cheryl hurd, nbc bay area news. you know thousands of people celebrated the 75th anniversary along the waterfront. it was a little more personal for some. robert schultz of martinez is one of them. he has been driving a piece of history for quite some time. this cadillac convertible was the first to cross the golden gate bridge when it opened way
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back in 1937. schultz was a baby in his father's arms on the bridge that day. and in 1958 he end eed buying tt car for $100. now it's part of his family history. >> when i turned 60 i said, dad, i don't feel 60 years old, could there have been a problem on the birth certificate? he said, you were 1 year old when they opened that bridge. he said, you peed on my harris tweed jacket when that cadillac went by. >> all right, there you go. this woman came with her family to honor her late father charles heinbockle. he spent four years helping to build that bridge. she was crossing the golden gate with her father for the 50th anniversary and says she'll be back for the 100th. 75 years ago, one of the signature parts of the golden gate bridge was that tiny rivet there. there are approximately 600,000 rivets in each tower.
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the now-obsolete technique that was used to build the bridge was on display at the bridge anniversary celebration today and here's how they did it. the rivets were heated to 1,900 degrees give or take, then tossed into a catcher down a tube, put into a hole where a pressurized hammer sealed the rivet in. >> they don't come out with an idea that could revolutionize structural or metal just by walking across and studying. >> finally, the rivets expanded while they cooled, locking the steel together. but the display is nothing compared to the real thing. just imagine drilling the rivets 220 feet above the san francisco bay. we will have more pictures from the golden gate bridge coming up. for more on tonight's 75th anniversary celebration, you can always go to nbcbayarea.com. we have posted extensive video from the fireworks show and from all of the day's events. nbcbayarea.com.
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another bridge in the bay area is making headlines this weekend but for very different reasons. tonight there are concerns about the safety of the new span of the bay bridge "the sacramento bee" is reporting it found reports of apparent construction defect in the foundation of the new span's signature tower. a 19-foot section of the concrete apparently had not hardened before tests were conducted on it. the newspaper claims a builder never reported that defect, which meant the concrete was not further examined or repaired. "the bee" investigation also uncovered problems with the piles and errors in test data. cal trans officials though insist the bridge is sound and told nbc bay area, extremely confident the foundation's quality is sound. >> if there was in fact soft concrete it would have been readily evident when people were chipping the top of the concrete down to sound concrete. when they went in there, they did that work, they saw no anomalies, everything was fine. bottom line, across the board, we saw that particular concrete has performed very well.
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we do cylinder strength tests for the concrete pours that are done and we saw no issues whatsoever during the course of the construction work. >> cal trans told nbc officials are preparing to make a formal response to the newspaper's investigation. and still ahead, coming soon, people in the south bay paid millions for them. years later, they're still coming soon. the investigative unit's tony kovalev ski looks into what's holding up credit card readers. a unique thank you for veterans at a bay area hospital. and facebook reportedly hires several engineers who used to work at apple. the project the social network might just be working on.
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facebook could soon be embarking on a new business venture. the new york times is reporting several facebook employees say the company hopes to release its own smartphone by next year. they say the company has already hired more than half a dozen former apple, software and hardware engineers who worked on the iphone and ipad. one of those engineers say he met directly with facebook ceo mark zuckerberg who asked detailed questions about the inner workings of smart phones. facebook has not yet commented on that report. people at stanford hospital who have served in the military will receive a special honor this memorial day. starting tomorrow, all patients and employees who identify themselves as u.s. veterans will be given this red, white and blue wrist band. the idea is that the wrist bands will publicly identify veterans, giving people a chance to say thank you to those vets and
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perhaps encourage some conversations between patients as well as visitors about their service. a stanford hospital employee came up with the idea. and right now, let's check in with meteorologist rob mayeda in san francisco for a look at what's coming up in weather. hi, rob. >> hi, there. we've been watching the fog which has been slowly pushing away from the coast, now moving into the inner bay. and it's going to have some big changes in our forecast as we go into the work week. one that i think you've been waiting for summer-like temperatures, you might ke.
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in news from around the world, the united nations security council is coming down hard on syria after a massacre that left more than 100 people dead. across syria today, people filled the streets to protest the killings. most of the victims are women and children. today the u.n. council condemned the syrian government for its role in the weekend massacre. syria thug continues to blame others for the killings. back here in the united states, tropical storm beryl has shut down beaches across the southern atlantic coast. the national hurricane center now says beryl is near hurricane strength and the storm is moving across northeastern florida right now, bringing drenching rain, driving winds and the threat of flooding to the southeastern united states. right now we want to check in with rob mayeda in san francisco with the weather, and what a night tonight, rob.
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>> oh, it was just -- really it was just awesome. there's no other way to describe it. the weather held off and the fireworks we saw, really an olympic-caliber fireworks show. even though everyone was shivering around marina green, crissy field, toward the golden gate bridge, it was really quite a show. right now fog spilling in. in fact, i can't see the two towers of the golden gate bridge now. some of that fog will be impacting your morning commute in the form of mist and drizzle as we head toward 7:00 tomorrow morning. as we take a look at the satellite view, what you're going to see is we do have again clear skies except for the low clouds on the coast. high pressure now approaching the west coast. what this is going to do is finally put an end to that cool mainly ocean breeze that has been punching all the way into our inland valleys. instead of this cool dip in the jet stream across the west coast, it's about to be replaced by high pressure as we get into tuesday and wednesday. it's, cool for now but these temperatures what you can expect
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come wednesday and thursday. we'll get 80s and 90s by the tri-valley, around the inner bay quite possibly we could see 70s, much warmer than the highs of 58 around san francisco. so the future cast was spot-on. it pinpointed the fog, holding it off until about 11:00, spilling back in. we'll see more low clouds and drizzle for morning tomorrow. they should retreat back to the coast during the day tomorrow. morning temperatunds, waking up to 40s and low 50s like the weather we've been experiencing here around marina green throughout the evening. as we go through the day, here's a bit of a change. memorial day plans, south bay, more 70s tomorrow. mostly sunny skies. still pretty cool for areas of west of 680, castro valley, danville, temperatures upper 60s, close to 70. another cool day in san francisco with patchy low clouds. the big change in the seven-day forecast will be the return to summer-like temperatures. come wednesday, thursday, friday, we'll get three days of warm temperatures for inland
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valleys. then the sea breeze is going to come back for next weekend. we're due for cooling. the unofficial start to summer has been a cool one so far. middle part of the week, everything changes as temperatures continue to climb up. despite the cool weather, it really was the clear skies that gave us that gorgeous vista to the golden gate bridge 75th anniversary. i hope pictures at home and watching on the screen was as dramatic as what we saw here throughout the evening. >> it was spectacular but it would have been fun to be there and see it in person. thanks a lot, rob. still ahead at 11:00, nbc bay area's chief investigative reporter tony kovaleski exposes the system still off-track and why taxpayers are still paying for it.
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two years and $6 million later, and they're still not working. tonight the nbc area investigative unit is asking why vta credit card readers are still not functional. chief investigative reporter tony kovaleski followed the intriguing paper trail. >> reporter: they're on every platform. big, bold signs reading no cash, no worries, coming soon. a debit/credit card option. when somebody says coming soon, what do you expect? >> i expect it soon. i expect them to follow through. >> reporter: stephanie mccune rides every day. >> soon is not soon enough, in
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my opinion. >> the credit card, they don't have it all installed yet. it's only cash or coins. >> reporter: he's a vta security guard, answering our questions on hidden camera. >> reporter: when do you think it will start working? >> they said they were going to start it last year. but i have no idea. >> reporter: as you're about to see, he's not alone. this contract signed in august of 2009 started the process. >> every time you go to pick a price for a ticket, it says, no debit, no credit available. what if i don't have cash on me? >> reporter: a building frustration that also includes vta's own employees. >> it didn't take my credit card. >> i would not hold my breath. they promised it would be active three years ago, we're still waiting. >> reporter: our investigation discovered a series of delays and management missteps inside vta. in fact, two years ago vta's
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marketing department paid for those signs on machines at every platform, making that bold promise "coming soon." >> it does say coming soon. it's been coming soon for the past three years. >> reporter: internal e-mails point to a series of missed deadlines. february 2010 memo, a vta staff member writes, we are looking to put debit/credit card processing online by may of 2010. they missed that deadline. then in october 2010, this memo reads, is there a definite date when the credit cards will be activated? a ranking vta manager responds simply, no. acceptable? >> no, i don't think so. >> reporter: he advocates for transit riders in the south bay. what's the message there? >> that the agency maybe doesn't have their act together. >> reporter: don't you think they'd make more money if they had credit card machines working? >> of course, more people would be buying tickets. >> reporter: that loss in
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revenue continues. this october 2010 newsletter told riders, working debit/credit card machines were nearing completion. they haven't been able to fix it after three years? >> they should, here in the heart of silicon valley, could that have been available 10, 20 years ago? absolutely. >> reporter: in may 2011, with those signs still in place, what is the eta on accepting credit cards on ticket vending machines? a top vta manager responds, i would still guess nine months. taxpayer money has paid vendors to produce a system that would take credit cards. >> yes. >> reporter: and it's still not working. >> that's correct. >> reporter: general manager michael burns is vta's highest power and hoo highest-paid executive. he's trying to explain after two years and $6 million, vta riders still need cash to ride the light rail. >> you've got two years of memos
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that said this was going to happen and it still hasn't happened. is that a failure? >> well, it's clearly a problem. >> reporter: and this may 2010 memo exposes a clear lack of confidence inside vta during the early stages, referring to the coming soon signs it reads, i don't think we will be accepting credit/debit cards before fall. and in brackets it says, i won't say which year. it concludes, guess it depends upon what your definition of "soon" is. what does coming soon mean to you? >> coming soon -- >> reporter: a month? two months? >> soon. whatever soon is. so if you're saying that it was probably a mistake to put those "coming soon" signs up, i would say you are right. we shouldn't have done that. we should have waited until we were totally sure that it would be coming soon. >> reporter: vta's general manager says problems with software and difficulties in
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meeting credit card security standards are partially to blame for the nearly three years of delays, leaving regular riders pushing for a quicker fix. >> it is a little frustrating. personally, i wish it had happened sooner. i wish we did have it now. >> reporter: ultimately, millions of tax dollars later, vta has failed to meet riders' expectations. the very same riders who can use their credit and debit cards to buy tickets on bart, cal train, and san francisco muni. but i can't at vta. >> you'll be able to. in august. >> reporter: coming soon? >> august. >> reporter: coming soon? >> august. >> as we reported, vta has the highest fare rate in the region. vta inspectors told us they believe the nonfunctional credit card machines are contributing to the increased number of free riders on light rail. also, vta tells us noon of the delays has been caused by the
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private company contracted to install the credit card equipment. the new dead line as you heard is august. if you have a tip for the investigative unit, give us a call. 888-996-tips or send an e-mail to theunit@nbcbayarea.com. [ mechanical humming ] [ male announcer ] we began with the rx. ♪ then we turned the page, creating the rx hybrid. ♪
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thank you for watching nbc bay area news. we have "the chris matthews show" next. right now we want to leave you with one more look at tonight's spectacular fireworks show at the golden gate bridge. enjoy and good night, happy memorial day. [ teen ] times are good, aren't they, kids?
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