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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  August 21, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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plenty of sunshine, temperatures near 90 for the interior valleys. looks great. >> ready for a hot weekend? >> i'm always ready for a hot weekend. on our broadcast tonight, inside story. the failed rescue attempt to save an american hostage before he was executed by isis. and tonight, a man held captive with james foley now speaks out. the survivor. the american doctor we watched come home and enter the hospit who was once near death from ebola, today he walked out of quarantine. tonight we hear his story for the first time. vanishing. an icon for the american west. the fears for its continued survival as a favorite vacation spot is disappearing before our very eyes. and for love of the game. the team giving chicago's south side a big reason to cheer tonight. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. the question was raised at the pentagon today at the very top, the secretary of defense, if this terrorist group isis is capable of what we have seen so far, the rampant violence and gruesome killings, most recently the awful execution of an american journalist carried out on camera, then what risk does isis perhaps pose to the united states? the answer from the boss at the pentagon today indicates it's a question the u.s. is concerned about. and in a violent world for good reason. it's where we begin tonight with white house correspondent kristen welker traveling with the vacationing president tonight in martha's vineyard. kristen, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. today the secretary of defense spoke to reporters for the first time since james foley was executed. and he didn't mince his words about the immediate threat that isis poses. the secretary of defense acknowledged today what armies
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in syria and iraq already knew, isis is a force to be reckoned with. >> they're beyond just a terrorist group. they marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. >> reporter: and they force the pentagon to react. >> oh, this is beyond anything that we've seen. so we must prepare for everything. and the only way you do that is you take a cold steely hard look at it and get ready. >> reporter: it's not just on the battlefield, the isis pr machine is sophisticated. its technology up-to-date. videos to instill fear, a tweet taunting the president with a photo of an isis flag in the shadow of the white house. and most recently the video of james foley's execution on youtube prompting fear that foley's death is only the beginning. >> i don't think we've seen a more significant threat to american security since the early days of 9/11. >> reporter: increasing pressure on the president who adopted a
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defiant tone yesterday. >> the united states of america will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. >> reporter: but after those remarks mr. obama went back to balancing vacation with work as some critics questioned whether he should have cut his vacation short. and while the white house continues to rule out boots on the ground, the state department wants 300 more security personnel in baghdad. and air strikes were increased after foley was killed. >> clearly if we're going to use military action to fight these folks, it's going to have to be more aggressive than what we have done heretofore. >> reporter: polls consistently show majority of americans oppose u.s. intervention militarily. still experts say isis has changed the calculation fus for president. >> mr. obama i think he realized he can't use this narrative any longer how he's ending two wars on his watch. and we're going to have to settle in for a long effort. >> reporter: the joint chiefs
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chairman general martin dempsey had a blunt assessment of what it would take to defeat isis. he said the u.s. and its allies would have to attack the terrorist group on syrian soil. a senior administration official told me this afternoon the president is weighing a range of options, but there are no immediate plans to go that far. brian. >> kristen welker covering the vacationing president tonight, martha's vineyard, massachusetts. kristen, thanks. also tonight we are learning more about that failed u.s. rescue attempt to try to save james foley and other americans being held by isis. and we're hearing from a man once held captive alongside him. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is tonight on the turkey/syria border for us. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. u.s. commandos tell us that the rescue mission was one of the most risky operations they've ever tried to carry out. and now we're learning new details about what happened and why. isis shocked the world and
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washington when its fighters rampaged through the city of mosul in northern iraq last june. isis, the world's most brutal terrorist group had broken out of syria pouring into iraq. u.s. military officials expected american air strikes against isis would be coming soon and that isis would likely take its revenge on its american hostages, at least four of them including reporter james foley. the president authorized a rescue mission. the white house said the hostages were in danger with each passing day in custody. in early july with an unspecified number of u.s. war planes providing cover, radar resistant helicopters crossed into syrian air space. they headed north of the city of the isis stronghold landing by an oil refinery. delta force commandos killed several isis fighters in a gunfight. but the hostages were gone. the military had just missed
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them officials say. the u.s. began air strikes making it far more dangerous for the hostages. french reporter nicolas henin released in april shared a cell with foley. for a week he says they were handcuffed together. >> james foley was my main cellmate during our months of captivity together. james was just great. he was always supporting everyone. always there to help. and to share. >> reporter: isis executed james foley saying it was revenge for the u.s. air strikes in iraq and threatened to kill another american reporter steven sotloff unless the air strikes stop. and, brian, just a week before foley was executed his family received an e-mail. it was from isis. it was full of rage. and it said foley would pay the price for those air strikes. brian. >> richard engel along the turkish border for us tonight. richard, thanks. late today we learned from the vatican pope francis called
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the foley family at their home in new hampshire to offer, quote, comfort, consolation, and prayers. the vatican says the family was deeply moved and grateful for his call and kindness. by the way, the foley family will speak about their son tomorrow morning on "today." in atlanta today something a lot of people never thought they'd see, an american doctor once near death from ebola. the man we all watched as he was flown back to this country. today he walked out of the hospital isolation unit and told his own story for the first time. our report tonight from nbc's gabe gutierrez in atlanta. >> today is a miraculous day. i am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. >> reporter: dr. kent brantly discharged today from emory
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university hospital nearly three weeks after walking into an isolation unit gravely ill with the ebola virus he contracted while treating patients in liberia. he says he got sick right after sending his family home to protect them. >> as i lie in my bed in liberia for the following nine days getting sicker and weaker each day, i prayed that god would help me be faithful even in my illness. i did not know then but have learned since that there were thousands, maybe even millions of people around the world praying for me throughout that week and even still today. i cannot thank you enough for your prayers and your support. >> reporter: we also learned today the other missionary diagnosed with ebola, nancy writebol, was quietly discharged on tuesday and is now spending time with her husband. the cdc and emory physicians say these patients no longer have the ebola virus in their blood and pose no health risk. both have been given doses of an experimental drug. the survivors and their doctors are now urging the world to turn its attention to the outbreak in west africa where ebola has infected some 2,500 people,
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killing more than 1,300. in liberia neighborhoods are now blocked off to prevent the disease from spreading, causing violent clashes between desperate residents and police. how dire is the situation over there? >> we spoke via skype with american dr. dan kelly in sierra leone. >> what we really need is people to get on a plane like they did for haiti and really support us out here. >> reporter: back in the u.s. dr. brantly hugged the physicians and nurses responsible for his care. the first ebola patient ever treated on american soil, now a survivor. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta. the situation in ferguson, missouri, got a big assist from mother nature last night. it rained. and a line of thunderstorms and downpours served to keep a lot of people off the streets.
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the tensions are showing some slow signs of easing, enough so that the governor of the state has ordered the national guard to leave town. and tonight we're learning more about the officer involved in the shooting that started it all. nbc's ron allen remains in ferguson for us again tonight. >> reporter: missouri's national guard is pulling out. brought in by the governor earlier this week to protect the police command post after violent protests and confrontations. they're withdrawing after two straight nights of calm. few arrests, small crowds. many here reassured justice will prevail after attorney general eric holder's visit. he promised a thorough investigation into whether officer darren wilson violated michael brown's civil rights when the teenager was shot and killed. >> i've seen a lot in my time as attorney general, but few things have affected me as greatly as my visit to ferguson. >> reporter: police have claimed wilson was assaulted before the shooting. today, a senior official familiar with the investigation told nbc news wilson was taken to a hospital for treatment. now attention turns to the grand jury proceeding.
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>> how dare you tell me i can't go up -- >> reporter: protesters tried to present 70,000 petition signatures calling for the removal of st. louis county prosecutor robert mcculloch. despite 24 years on the job, his critics claim he's biased toward police. his mother and numerous relatives work for the police. his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. >> it made me a very fierce advocate for victims of violence. regardless of the circumstances, regardless of their status in life. >> reporter: also today ferguson's determination to win. high school football teams back on the field. but schools here still closed because of the unrest. the nfl st. louis rams opened up their practice field. >> there's strength in community. and when people come together, everything's possible. >> reporter: the season kicks off friday night. michael brown's high school team will hold a moment of silence before their game on monday. the hope here of course is that everyone in this community comes together and roots for the home team. brian.
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>> ron allen tonight as the national guard pulling out of ferguson, missouri, behind him there. ron, thanks. there was news today regarding the huge summer trend that has rocked the charity world and chilled many a spine. this als ice bucket challenge, new figures out just today show it has raised at least $42 million for lou gehrig's disease. but today the united states reminded its diplomats they are officially barred from taking part, as are members of congress, because they're not allowed to use public office for private gain no matter how good the cause. also today it turned mighty serious in campbellsville, kentucky, when two firefighters were injured, one of them critically. they were just trying to help a group of students take part. their aerial ladder got too close to live power lines while it was being put up. beyond the two firefighters who took and survived the jolt of current, power was knocked out across a huge area. none of the participating students was injured. still ahead for us on a thursday night, the astonishing
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view showing the scale of devastation from the history-making drought emergency. it's crippled one of the largest single water supplies in our country as cities and towns run dry. and later, a close encounter at the aquarium. a remarkable surprise caught on camera.
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a new study out tonight from researchers at the university of san diego estimates that 63 trillion gallons of groundwater have been lost since the beginning of just last year in this history making drought in the american west. tonight, we're going to show you how this emergency is causing a popular landmark vacation spot to quite literally disappear before our eyes while drying up a major source of water for several states. our report tonight from nbc's harry smith. >> reporter: lake meade, take water as blue as the caribbean
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and place it in the craggy mountains of the desert southwest and you have the largest reservoir in america. but it doesn't take long to notice what locals call the bathtub ring, the line that shows how high the water used to be. just to illustrate how far the water has dropped, that red triangle up on a hill up there, that's a navigational marker. we're more than 100 feet below that. fourteen years of drought have lake meade at its lowest level since the hoover dam was built in the 1930s. and if the drought continues, there's a good chance big water consumers like california will find its supply rationed. and a low water level has meant moving marinas, sometimes hundreds of yards. the adjustment isn't always pretty. but out on the lake it's very much business as usual. nick marietta pilots his 75-foot houseboat as far from civilization as possible. >> your phone quits working in about three minutes and it just gets better. >> reporter: nick and his friends spend most every weekend on lake meade.
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he says they've grown accustom to the lake's ups and downs. >> reporter: you must feel like you're on a yo-yo sometimes. >> sometimes it goes down so fast you can almost feel it. >> reporter: while the lake is down there's been above average moisture this year upstream in colorado. in the fall they expect lake meade to go up some, but just some. what's your best day out here? >> about a five-mile-an-hour wind, a hundred degrees, barbecue, have fun, all of our friends just have a ball. >> reporter: and that's really the message lake meade lovers want to pass along. the lake is not what it once was, but they're more than happy to make the best of what's left. harry smith, nbc news, lake meade. and we're back in a moment with what we're learning tonight about sleep, specifically who's getting the most of it and a big surprise about the city that never sleeps.
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♪ i want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep ♪ unaccustomed as we are with disagreeing with frances albert, it turns out new york, new york isn't what it's cracked up to be. turns out those data bracelets more and more people are wearing to record their daily habits in distance walked and sleep patterns, among major world capitals they show new yorkers are among the earliest to bed. the folks in moscow and dubai like to sleep in. tokyo residents average just five hours, 46 minutes of sleep. and afternoon naps are really big in madrid and beijing. on the upside new yorkers get up before most others in most other big cities. one reason to always be alert in new york, if you look away for just a second you could miss this, the photo that made the rounds on social media today. believed to be just as you see it here, and it sure appears to show a cloud in the shape of a running dog rushing somewhere no doubt in the skies above the city that almost never sleeps.
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on the subject of dogs and because it's summer after all, we really ought to mention the video of the day. a day care facility for dogs in michigan. we've posted the full thing on the web tonight. suffice to say it was pool time for a passel of mostly golden retrievers and labs and pool toys. and this one has been forwarded for ab use reasons a ton over the last 24 hours. if you're on the east coast ocean waterways this weekend and you see a huge gray presence just off the coast, you are witnessing the final good-bye, the final voyage of the great u.s. aircraft carrier saratoga. it has departed newport, rhode island, en route to texas where it will be scrapped. it was commissioned back in '52. president eisenhower once walked on that flight deck. it saw heavy service during vietnam. and aircraft from the saratoga dropped 4 million pounds of bombs during operation desert shield in iraq. it was a floating home for thousands who served on board during its 38 proud years of active duty at sea.
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then there's this recorded at the mystic aquarium, connecticut, last year but just now getting attention on the web. it's benign at first. kids admiring the passing beluga whales and then in seconds it goes from did that really happen to well, look, it just happened again. the kids are briefly scared to death but keep coming back for more as it's clear the beluga whale has made a game of it. and amid peals of laughter, kids follow right in. when we come back, the boys of summer from chicago's south side now on the verge of greatness on a very big stage.
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finally here tonight, we check back in on a beautiful spot where they're playing baseball as it was meant to be played. when we left you here last night the phenom pitcher, mo'ne davis, was on the mound. a record crowd was there to see her pitch against the boys of the little league world series. her team lost last night, but they're still alive and able to get to the u.s. championship game. and the team they will face to get there also has a lot of folks cheering for them, especially on chicago's south side where the news is so often bad and where this team has become a welcome reason to cheer.
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nbc's katy tur has our report again tonight from south williamsport, p.a. >> reporter: tonight, all eyes will be here on this small stadium in the pennsylvania wild. taking the field, giants among little leaguers. mo'ne davis and the philadelphia taney dragons versus chicago's jackie robinson's west. >> 7-4 chicago. >> you're a confident man. >> i'm confident because the kids are confident. >> reporter: is anyone better than you? >> sorry, but nobody. >> reporter: not philly? >> sorry philly, but no. >> reporter: coach darrell butler and his son d.j. are chicago's best little league hope in 31 years. >> just have fun with it, okay? >> okay. >> reporter: an all african-american team of 13 boys from chicago's south side. >> south side of chicago is
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tough. so seeing what these kids are doing is showing the other side of chicago that you might not hear about. >> reporter: why don't you think baseball is a big deal in the african-american community anymore? >> baseball to me is a sport that fathers pass down to their kids. my father taught me the game. so i teach my son the game. with no fathers in the home, it's kind of hard to teach this game of baseball. >> reporter: just one reason it caught the attention of major leaguer carl crawford. the dodgers outfielder is picking up part of the tab for the team's trip. the last time jackie robinson west made it this far was in 1983, the first all-african-american team to make it here. today, they're in williamsport again reminiscing about the good old days and rooting for the new kids. >> every little kid dream to play in williamsport. >> unbelievable feeling. we're proud of these guys. we know it take a lot of hard work to get here. >> reporter: as for the new kids, they say they're ready. >> very excited to play here and play in this stadium. >> reporter: win or lose, it's a memory that's sure to last a lifetime. katy tur, nbc news,
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williamsport, pennsylvania. >> what a great place that is this time of year every year. good luck to all of them. that's our broadcast on a thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. it's a really bad sign. and it's going to be another big hit for morale. >> a department struggling with budget cuts and a loss of officers. tonight how a decision by this commander has the rank and file reeling. good evening. thanks for joining us. >> it's been a problem for years, the exodus from san jose, hundreds of police officers have left after voters approved a measure that would slash officers' pension. nbc bay area learned the next officer to leave the department
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will be a notable loss. the department's poster boy, literally, seen here is resigning. this comes on a historic day for sjpd. robert handa explains the impact. >> it was a his tory day, a day to celebrate adding officers, but much of that celebration has been huh set by lieutenant bowers leaving the force. san jose police today graduates the first class of community service officers. 25 new csos will handle lower level calls for a severely understaffed police force which has been desperately recruiting and training. nbc bay area has learned the department's training commander is leaving to join piedmont police. that lieutenant was also heavily involved in recruiting efforts including these training video, 20-year veteran has literally been the poster child for


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