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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  August 17, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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area. >> giants night. begins at 7:00. tune in. tonight, deadly terror attack. isis claims responsibility after a van plows into pedestrians killing over a dozen in a popular tourist destination. suspects now under arrest. tonight, the latest from barcelona. ripped apart. the warning from president trump. removing confederate statues is damaging american culture, he says. but it comes amid growing calls for more to go including in the halls of congress. also, the online hate crackdown. can tech giants win their growing war to stop white supremacists from spreading their message on the internet? eclipse fever. the last-minute dash to find the one thing you and your family need to see the event of the
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summer. and making a splash. a grieving man brought joy back into his home by making it the place to be this summer. "nightly news" begins right now. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening to our viewers in the west as we join you again from los angeles. it has become a rurg nightmare, a vehicle being driven through crowds of pedestrians in a murderous rampage. barcelona today becoming the latest western city to be targeted by such an attack, this time leaving more than a dozen people dead. video from the scene show people running in panic after a white van drove into crowds along that city's most popular boulevard, aiming for pedestrians and leaving a trail of carnage in its wake. in addition to at least 13 confirmed deaths, spanish authorities say more than 100 people were injured. two possible suspects are in custody in the attack that isis this evening claims as its work. and there are some late breaking
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details in this story now as we hear from chief foreign correspondent richard engel. >> reporter: screams and panic tonight on barcelona's most famous pedestrian street. >> they're shooting. they're shooting at me. >> reporter: an american tourist, jaq davy from los angeles, recorded as she ran for her life. >> we heard what sounded like gunshots. and we saw hundreds of people rushing towards us. >> reporter: they were running from a van that plowed into crowds on the street. police responded quickly and in force. evacuating nearby buildings, shutting down the entire neighborhood. >> all of a sudden i heard a lot of, you know, noise, and people screaming, so like everyone was just running away. >> reporter: witnesses captured the aftermath. we blurred some of the images. they were too horrific. bodies strewn on the sidewalk, many young. crowds huddled around the victims trying to assist.
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this newsstand was nearly knocked over during the attack which took place along the historic las ramblas, very popular with tourists. the van reportedly jumped the curb and accelerated, traveled over 600 yards and zigzagged as it went. tonight authorities are calling it an act of terrorism, and a manhunt is under way for the driver. at least two people were arrested, but police say neither was behind the wheel. isis is now claiming responsibility saying it was carried out by one of its soldiers, but it offered no evidence. but it is only the latest example of the group's supporters using vehicles as weapons. in nice, where a truck mowed down dozens. in berlin, crashing through a christmas market. and in london, where attackers drove across london bridge and then jumped out with knives. >> the use of vehicles is now the low-tech high-impact option for terrorists. it's demonstrated value in jihadi circles.
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>> reporter: spanish investigators are looking at this as part of a wider plot. they say it's related to an explosion in a house in spain yesterday. u.s. officials tell nbc news that house may have been a bomb factory. so what happened today doesn't look like it was the work of some lone actor with a van. lester? >> all right, richard engel tonight. thank you. we want to turn to nbc news national security analyst michael leiter. he's the former director of the national counterterrorism center. michael, as we heard vehicles now an easy weapon of choice for terrorists, but how do authorities stop them? >> it is very difficult, obviously. because these are widely available. anybody can drive a car, lester. but officials throughout the world and the united states included will have to look at these high traffic areas which attract lots of tourists and the like and may have to erect more vehicle barriers than people are used to. that's one of the last lines of defenses. and obviously, you want to find the terrorists before they get that far, but those defenses may
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well be necessary. >> as we reported, isis claiming responsibility here, we keep seeing evidence that the military effort against isis in places like western iraq is working. is that translating, though, to these cities where these actors continue to stage these attacks? >> well, i think that is an important strategic step, to disrupt the organization and ultimately take some of the wind out of their sails, but that doesn't really help in these tactical situations because the fact is isis has launched a message and that network of people, even if not connected and speaking to individuals in syria and iraq, are still taking steps like this to be soldiers in isis' army. so although we may see gains over the long term in syria and iraq, that really doesn't provide quick results here. >> michael leiter, good to have you on tonight, thank you. president trump denounced the barcelona attack from his working vacation in bedminster, new jersey, but he's also under
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fire for following that up with a tweet reviving a debunked myth that many muslims find inflammatory. all this as the backlash grows to his response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in charlottesville. and the president today warning that removing confederate monuments has, quote, ripped apart our country. let's get more on it all from chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: within three hours of the attack in barcelona, president trump condemned it as terror, tweeting the u.s. will do whatever is necessary to help. be tough and strong. we love you. then, as an example of how to get tough on what he called radical islamic terror, he cited a debunked violent anti-muslim myth about u.s. general john pershing cracking down on unrest in the philippines a century ago, something that set off a firestorm when he first said it on the campaign trail. >> and he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in
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pig's blood. you heard that, right? >> reporter: the islamic faith prohibits pork. as the president's reference to that inflammatory story becomes part of his quick response to an attack overseas. here at home his response to the domestic attack in charlottesville is still generating fallout as the president now laments the removal of confederate monuments. quote, sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart, adding, you can't change history, but you can learn from it. robert e. lee, stonewall jackson, who is next, washington, jefferson? so foolish. >> i think there's blame on both sides. >> reporter: the country's only republican african-american senator interviewed by vice news about the president's performance this week. >> what we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority and that moral authority is compromised when tuesday happens. >> reporter: and another republican senator, who campaigned for the president, now excoriating him. >> the president has not yet -- has not yet been able to
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demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. and we need for him to be successful. >> reporter: the commander in chief also countered by the leaders of five military branches, who sent a strong signal without mentioning the president by name by publicly condemning extremist elements. >> they were simply emphasizing on the battlefield we're one team. and that's the way we stay. >> reporter: but someone who does seem buoyed by this culture controversy, steve bannon, viewing it as a fight the president will win, as he told "the new york times." quote, the race identity politics of the left wants to say it's all racist. just give me more. tear down more statues. say the revolution is coming. i can't get enough of it. tonight, the american cancer society is pulling out of a planned gala at mar-a-lago because of what it calls
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challenges to its values, and the president is scrapping plans for an infrastructure council even before it got off the ground one day after disbanding two business advisory boards. another tumultuous week for donald trump, lester, increasingly isolated here in bedminster. as the nation confronts the questions raised by the violence in charlottesville, it is worth noting many of the groups promoting hate have drawn support from the internet. their message is finding homes on websites and platforms that have long considered themselves pillars of free expression, but now that seems to be changing as the companies try to make it harder for these groups to reach online audience. let's get more from nbc's jo ling kent. >> reporter: before violence spilled on to the streets of charlottesville, the white supremacist groups behind the rally were organizing across the internet in public view. now silicon valley is kicking them offline and it's stirring up a constitutional debate. platforms like google and go fund me are now cutting off hate groups, banning sites like the
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daily stormer from using their services to communicate and fund-raise. apple has blacklisted known hate sites from its payment platforms. paypal one of the largest payment processors in the world now canceling accounts. even dating site okcupid today banning white supremacist chris cantwell for life tweeting there's no room for hate in a place where you're looking for love. the internet blockade has forced some groups to search for new homes online. many on the right are turning to new social media site gab which allows controversial discussions with limits. >> so long as they're not inciting violence, so long as they're not advocating for criminality, so long as they're not doing any harm to the public in regards to the law, they're allowed to speak. >> reporter: as hate groups are booted from popular online tools, first amendment scholars say tech companies are navigating a fine line on what can be said and done on the internet. >> they have a right to police themselves. they have a right to decide who their users are.
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we urge them to do so in a way which is transparent, in which they are accountable. >> reporter: but with billions of users, it's a difficult if not impossible task for tech companies to monitor every single one. jo ling kent, nbc news, san francisco. the displays of hate and the violence in charlottesville have amplified attention to confederate monuments and generated more calls for their removal. house democratic leader nancy pelosi has joined other democrats who want these statues taken down in the u.s. capitol. and as nbc's stephanie gosk reports, the calls go far beyond washington. >> reporter: outside the old courthouse in lexington, kentucky, stand the statues of two confederate generals. mayor jim gray wants them moved. the city council votes on the measure tonight. >> these are statues designed to glorify and honor men, confederates, who fought to preserve slavery. >> reporter: since the violence in charlottesville, confederate monuments have become flashpoints around the country. >> these were real people. they lived. they did what they thought was
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right. it's history. >> reporter: in leesburg, virginia, a confederate soldier was spraypainted with "you lost." durham, north carolina, a monument was toppled. in baltimore crews worked in the dead of night removing four statues without notice. in the last two years more than a dozen confederate monuments have been taken down. with other cities still fighting over whether to remove them. in kentucky, the process is not so simple. if the vote passes tonight, a state commission will still have to approve the decision. debraun thomas leads a group fighting for the statues to be taken down. >> we're not asking for the statues to be destroyed. we're just asking for them to be relocated to a more appropriate space. >> reporter: this square sits on a market where slaves were sold. >> this is a place where people were bought and sold. families were ripped apart. >> reporter: a self-described white nationalist group has already promised to come here. following charlottesville, mr. mayor, this is a volatile moment. why do this now?
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>> you know, there's no perfect time to stand up for american values. it's all the time. we must stand up. even in the face of threats. >> reporter: there's so many people here tonight at city hall, they're actually turning them away at the door. the city council is expected to approve this measure to move the statues, but the decision from the state commission where this gets kicked next is far from certain. lester? >> all right, stephanie gosk, thank you. an update this evening on the deadly collision between a u.s. navy destroyer and a container ship off the coast of japan. the navy is punishing the leadership of the "uss fitzgerald" relieving the commanding officer and two others from their duties. the navy said the officers had lost situational awareness in the hours before the accident. seven sailors were killed. the "fitzgerald" was heavily damaged but managed to limp back to port. in minneapolis, a major headache for the evening commute after a massive fire forced police to close a major freeway. it began earlier in the day when
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a semi truck overturned and burst into flames, but police say the driver made it out okay and only one person was transported from the scene with minor injuries. the cause of the crash is under investigation. it was a tough day on wall street. the dow posting its biggest one-day drop in three months, closing over 270 points down after some disappointing earnings reports in the tech and retail sectors and growing concerns over whether the president will be able to achieve his economic agenda. still ahead here tonight, as the solar eclipse approaches, millions are spellbound already. some waiting on huge lines for a precious commodity, those protective glasses. also, he hit the strike zone, but it wasn't the one he intended. the embarrassing moment during the ceremonial first pitch last night in boston.
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we're back now with a growing anticipation for monday's total eclipse of the sun that will cut across the country. 200 million people are said to be within a day's drive of the eclipse zone, but tonight there's a run on those special sunglasses that experts say you really do need to safely see it. nbc's tom costello has the story. >> reporter: t-minus four days till the great solar eclipse of 2017, and it's a mad dash to get those special eclipse shades. today in chicago the line wrapped around the block. >> how many? >> we got here at 7:00 and we went through about 9,000 pairs. >> reporter: sure enough, they
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ran out. >> worked out well for us, but i feel bad for everyone else. >> reporter: and look at the line stretching down the block in indianapolis, knoxville, huntsville and nashville. online some people are paying extreme amounts for a dollar pair of glasses. on ebay we found a pair for $999. meanwhile, vanderbilt university is recalling 8,000 pair that may not have the necessary iso certification logo, number and manufacturer. if it doesn't have that iso label and the manufacturer, don't take a chance? >> we don't recommend you take a chance. >> reporter: in all, 88 million people live within 200 miles of the so-called path of totality. the last time a total eclipse of the sun occurred coast to coast across the united states was in 1918. and it turns out generally a single spot on the planet only experiences an eclipse once every 375 years. >> it is an event. it is a human experience.
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it is a chance for us to connect with the cosmos in a way we normally can't do. >> reporter: depoe bay, oregon, will be the first to go dark. >> this is our adventure for the year, actually maybe for the millennia. >> reporter: carbondale, illinois, will be dark the longest, 2 minutes and 38 seconds. hotels sold out for 200 miles. >> very exciting. >> reporter: one big concern is that drivers will be distracted by a once in a blue moon eclipse and accidents could spike. the advice, pull off the road if you want to peek. tom costello, nbc news, at the nasa goddard space center. back in a moment with real diamond in the rough.
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the ceremonial first pitch in baseball is supposed to be a fun occasion, but when a high school baseball player went to the mound last night at fenway park in boston, the pitch was not exactly the kind of strike he intended, hitting a
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photographer where -- well, let's say it could really hurt. you can also see the pain, by the way on jordan leandre's face. the childhood cancer survivor later spoke with a photographer who told him it could have been worse. now to something you have to see to believe. talk about a one carat diamond. by carrot we mean the orange kind. a canadian woman says she lost her engagement ring in 2004 while pulling weeds in a garden. 13 years later she says her daughter-in-law found it in the ground wrapped around a carrot that had sprouted through it. the woman says she secretly replaced the ring so her husband wouldn't know, but now she'll wear the real deal again. once again, no big winner in the powerball lottery in the latest drawing last night, so the jackpot has surged to more than a half a billion dollars, $510 billion to be precise. the drawing is saturday and if the jackpot doesn't go up before then, the prize would be the eight largest in u.s. lottery history. when we come back, inspiring america. how a man moved on after a loss by bringing the whole
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neighborhood into his life.
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finally tonight, the kids in one neighborhood in minnesota are having a great time this summer thanks to the generous spirit of a man who decided he
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wanted to do something for them and for himself after his life took a tragic turn. boyd huppert of our minneapolis station kare tv with tonight's "inspiring america" report. >> reporter: the home on riverview drive is now quieter. >> you just can't imagine what it's like. >> reporter: last year keith davison, retired district court judge, lost evy, his wife of 66 years. >> you cry a lot. that's just the way it is. you know? because she's not here. >> reporter: now, at 94, the judge has reached a decision. >> 16 by 32, the pool itself. >> reporter: deep into missing his evy, the judge had had enough silence. >> going to the judge's pool. >> i knew they'd come. >> reporter: plenty of people thought the judge was joking when he first floated this idea. >> it was spring when i saw him
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marking the yard. i told my husband, he's really going to do it. he's really going to put a pool in his backyard. >> reporter: hard to be lonely, he reckoned if he surrounded himself with kids. >> it's awesome and fun. >> now we're going to be here every day. >> i'm not sitting by myself looking at the walls. >> it's him spreading joy throughout our neighborhood for these kids. you get to know him and talk to him, that's one of the things we talked about. i never had any grandkids. in a way, well, you kind of adopted our whole neighborhood of kids. these are your grandkids. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. come again. >> reporter: grief can be a deep, lonely place. judge davison took another step out the day the neighborhood dove in. boyd huppert, nbc news, morris, minnesota. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that is "nightly news" for this thursday night. i'm lester holt.
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for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night from los angeles. just very lewd and lascivious conduct was taking place. >> sex parties, harassment and underage check. the allegations against the south bay police department. i am jessica aguirre. >> and i am raj mathai. 90 pages of details. a lawsuit filed by a long time police dispatcher paints a scandalous picture. is it true?
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and has the community lost faith. robert handa here. >> reporter: this lawsuit filed for a veteran police dispatcher has a lot of people consulting lawyers. the gilroy is in a scandal. she is suing the police department, and police union. >> she was essentially black balled, retaliated against and eventually pushed out. >> reporter: the 90 page document cites names and

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