tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 1, 2014 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
on this saturday night, what went wrong? new images of the space plane that exploded mid flight just months before it was to carry paying passengers into near-orbit. tonight, the search for a cause and the future of space tourism. going to extremes. record breaking snow, wild winds and dangerous mudslides affecting millions across the country. the front lines, the u.s. doctors joining the ebola fight in west africa despite an uncertain american homecoming. on the money, some big retailers all of a sudden rolling back prices. but why? and unleashed, the latest trend in fitness has old dogs learning new tricks.
from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. virgin galactic spaceship two lost in a deadly crash yesterday over california's mojave desert was no ordinary space vehicle. it was sent to be the first to carry paying passengers to the edge of space as soon as next year. tonight it's crash is also a first for the ntsb, the folks known for investigating plane, train and bus crashes now for the first time leading the investigation into the crash of a manned spaceship. tonight as experts secure debris scattered on the desert floor, we've learned the identity of a 39-year-old pilot who died in the crash as well as the other who was badly injured. nbc's jacob rascon joins us from mojave now with late details on the investigation. jacob, good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening. tonight we're learning more about the pilots who were onboard, the surviving pilot was
in surgery today. this is a first of its kind investigation with more than a dozen ntsb investigators on the ground. this as the commercial space community is reeling but remains optimistic. the pilot killed when virgin galactic space plane exploded over the mojave desert was identified today. the california resident now the first person ever to die during a commercial space flight. virgin galactic's founder, richard branson. >> in testing the boundaries of human capabilities and technologies, we are standing on the shoulders of -- yesterday we fell short. >> reporter: it was just after 10:00 a.m. friday when first responders learned the flight meant to test a new engine and fuel mixture had gone terribly wrong. at 45,000 feet spaceship two started breaking apart. in a first of its kind investigation the ntsb is analyzing all the debris and data which could lead to recommendations to the federal
aviation administration for new regulations. >> to find out not only what happened but also more importantly why it happened so we can make recommendations to try to prevent it from happening again. >> reporter: the deadly explosion isn't the first tragedy on the road to space tourism. three people working on a rocket meant for a virgin galactic spacecraft died in 2007 after it exploded at the mojave space port. but for those who dedicate their lives to testing the limits of human achievement, the rewards will always be worth the risk. >> accidents do happen and loss of life does happen. and from there we do an investigation, we figure out the root cause, we fix it. >> i truly believe that humanity's greatest achievements come out of our greatest pain. >> reporter: more than 700 people have already paid a quarter million dollars each for a future ride in suborbital space. ken baxter was first in line to get his ticket. >> i did pay $200,000 for my ticket. and i've been offered a million dollars. and i have no intention of selling it or getting a refund.
i'm ready to rocket to outer space. >> reporter: branson still believes his company can take us there. >> all 400 engineers who work here, and i think most people in the world would love to see the dream living on. >> reporter: and nbc news has an agreement with virgin galactic to televise the inaugural flight with paying passengers. the future of that flight, at least it's timing, may depend in part on the findings and potential recommendations of the ntsb. they're expected to talk about what they found today later tonight. lester. >> all right. jacob, thank you. it's just the day after halloween, but we're already getting a real taste of what may be in store this winter. the south is getting hit with early-season snowfall. and elsewhere we're seeing brutal winds and heavy rainstorms. here's nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: call it snowvember. this may look like a mid-winter
scene far up north, but this was today in south carolina, the earliest snow on record in parts of the south. from sugar mountain, north carolina, to parts of georgia. and while chicago is known as the windy city, on friday wind gusts of up to 65 miles an hour took down light poles. and whipped the waves on lake michigan over 20 feet high. winds have been quieting down before nick wallenda's daring highwire attempt in chicago tomorrow. >> my backup plan if anything goes awry, if the wind gusts get strong, i go to the safety of the wire and wrap around and i'll wait for help. >> reporter: in drought-stricken california there was much-needed rain. in some places too much, carrying mud into almost a dozen homes. but as skies cleared over southern california, a more welcome weather phenomenon took shape. social media lighting up with these images of spectacular rainbows. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.
and for more now on what to expect from this winter blast, let's bring in weather channel meteorologist mike seidel in sugar mountain, north carolina. hi, mike. obviously mike not quite ready for us. but let's turn to some other news we're following on this saturday night. in maine five people are dead, one critically injured following a three-alarm fire near the university of southern maine's campus in portland. the blaze broke out early this morning. authorities are unsure if anyone is missing. it was maine's deadliest house fire in 30 years. the pennsylvania community where a suspected cop killer alluded authorities for weeks can finally rest easy this weekend. but despite his capture, people there are still searching for answers as they try to move on. nbc's ron allen has our report tonight. >> i cried. it was the end for me. >> reporter: darla dixon said she never doubted his fellow
troopers would bring eric frein to justice for allegedly killing her son. >> they honored bryon as their brother. he would be very proud of them. >> reporter: now hoping to make sense of all this, investigators can continue digging into frein's past, trying to understand why the 31-year-old unemployed military buff allegedly ambushed the troopers. >> there is no reason that i'm aware of. >> reporter: none at all? >> none at all. >> reporter: police believe he had a grudge against cops, but top state officials say they don't know why. >> my gut tells me he wanted to strike out and we were the most available target because we wear uniforms and primary law enforcement in this area. >> reporter: the impact is still being felt across these resort communities where tourists stayed away as police hunted for frein. how bad has it been? >> it's been awful. >> reporter: elaine says visits at her garden and gift shop has been off by as much as 45%, it's usually packed during the fall foliage season. will you survive this?
>> absolutely. oh, yeah. i've been here for almost 25 years. >> reporter: not far away more signs of endurance, hope to raise $5,000 for a police department hit hard by the costly manhunt. >> amazing what one person can do to a community. >> reporter: and especially one family. now they say relying on their faith. >> he chose that profession. and it was true to the nature of who he was. and we're proud of what he stood for and the job that he did. >> reporter: and as for frein he faces charges that include murder, attempted murder and possession of a weapon of mass destruction. bombs police say he had in the woods. prosecutors said they'll seek the death penalty. frein has not entered a plea nor made a public comment about the case. lester. >> ron allen for us in pennsylvania this evening. thank you. a third victim has died following last week's shooting at a washington state high school. 14-year-old shaylee
chuckulnaskit succumbed to injuries obtained in the shooting. two students remain hospitalized. canada has announced it will stop issuing visas to people from west african countries, at least those at the heart of the ebola outbreak. meanwhile, in this country there is good news for the only u.s. patient still battling the virus, dr. craig spencer who contracted the disease while treating victims in guinea has been upgraded to stable condition. and nina pham was reunited with her dog bent lebentley. the pet had been placed on quarantine when the nurse contracted the virus. here at home the virus is still ravaging parts of west africa. despite the risk u.s. doctors are still heading to the front lines. it's an assignment that means weeks or months away from family and an uncertain welcome when they do return home to the states. here's nbc's joe fryer.
>> reporter: dr. foucle is making the most of his weekend with his 2-year-old daughter. next week he leaves for a month-long trip to liberia to join the fight against ebola. how important is all this equipment? >> this is a matder of life and death. >> reporter: for three days he trained at the centers for disease control. >> i believe i'm well-equipped to go. doesn't mean i'm not scared. >> reporter: when he returns he plans to be quarantined for 21 days, but his wife knows that still may not alleviate some fears. >> i think people will be nervous being around him even after the quarantine. >> reporter: despite the stigma, his employer, the university of california san francisco, wants health care workers to go. the university has set up a system for employees to give their vacation days to those heading to west africa. so far more than 660 hours have been donated. on top of that doctors are
voluntarily picking up shifts for co-workers going overseas. she fears many won't go. >> the stigma and the concerns around quarantine worry me, it worries me partly because we risk the loss of other professionals who choose to go there. >> reporter: he hopes it will reduce the fears around him. >> i don't want the focus to be on me when we come back. i think the surest way to do that is take myself out of the picture. >> reporter: that means he might go a couple months without seeing or hugging his little girl. >> where does this one go? >> it's a big one. >> reporter: it won't be easy but calls it a small price to pay to help stop the deadly outbreak from spreading. joe fryer, nbc news, san francisco. we are just days away from midterm elections that could change the balance of power in washington. it's a high stakes battle with the closest races we've seen in a decade. across the country races that were leaning one way are now too
close to call. for more let's bring in nbc's political director and moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd. good evening, chuck. >> good evening, lester. it is amazing. here we are 72 hours from election day and these are eight of the ten closest senate races. and in these eight neither party believes they have a lead of more than one or two points. this late in the game it's unbelievable. even throw in the two races that we have here, arkansas and kentucky. and while republicans have a lead of maybe four or five points, it's still not out of the woods. but it's even more uncertain in gubernatorial races. 18 different races, there are 36, so one-half of them. right now we don't have a good idea of which party is going to win. it's an uncertain electorate right now. lester, when i was traveling the country it's simply because a whole bunch of voters fed up with both parties and it has them sitting in that undecided column. >> what about folks who are upset with both parties and may want to sit this out? has apathy been factored in
here? >> apathy is there in some of the states, for instance, you haven't had both parties throw in millions of dollars. but in the states where you've had all of these hundreds of millions of dollars spent, there's not apathy. what you're seeing though, the folks that are disliking both parties, they're thinking about going third party. they're using third party candidates to essentially say none of the above. they're becoming protest votes. it's something else i'm going to be watching for on tuesday night. a number of winners won't get 50%. >> fascinating election shaping up. chuck todd, thanks ver decision 2014 tomorrow morning on "meet the press." when "nbc nightly news" continues on this saturday, the fbi's latest tool in the hunt for some of america's most wanted. and later, the exercise trend that has some new faces hitting the gym. [ children yelling ] [ telephone rings ] [ shirley ] edward jones. this is shirley speaking. how may i help you? oh hey, neill, how are you? how was the trip? [ male announcer ] with nearly 7 million investors...
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nation's police a new tool to fight crime, a massive facial recognition program that matches crime scene photos to mugshots. with more here is our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: since the days of john dillinger and al capone, the fbi's used pictures of known-suspects. now it's looking to see if technology can use pictures to identify unknown suspects by checking crime scene photos against a rapidly growing collection of pictures. it's data the fbi's loading onto these computers, a massive collection of criminal records. it's stored deep underground at the fbi's criminal identification center in west virginia where a process that took weeks to identify a suspect now takes a fraction of a second. what was once done in a room full of desks now happens here, an enormous database, more than 120 million fingerprint records checked nearly 300,000 times a day. and now the fbi's adding 20
million pictures. they come from traditional police arrest mugshots. and not from some kind of photo dragnet. >> we don't go out and collect photos from, you know, public cameras or social networking sites. that's just inaccurate. >> reporter: for every search the facial recognition program generates a gallery of possible matches to a crime scene photo. the fbi's nick megna says the process still requires a human touch. >> the system doesn't respond back with a single match. it responds back with a ranked candidate list. >> reporter: examiners then narrow it down by using specific points on the face, the pupils, tip of the nose, corners of the mouth, to compare size and spacing of the features. while the fbi now says its fingerprint checks are 99.6% accurate, it will not tell police it finds a match in a photo database, instead sending back several pictures as investigative leads. the fbi's updated base uses
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liquors and be in bed by 1:00 a.m. bidding is currently above $600,000 and ends tonight. and if you're in the market for something in a bit lower price range, you're in luck. even though it's nearly two months before christmas, retailers are already locked in some fierce competition for holiday shoppers. and that could mean big savings for consumers. our report tonight from nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: as halloween decorations come down, the holiday shopping season is heating up. >> we're ready. it's on. it's that time of the year. >> reporter: that time of year seems to be coming earlier than usual. today, walmart launched price rollbacks on more than 20,000 items, four weeks before black friday, the day after thanksgiving shopping rush. the world's largest retailer wants business now. >> i don't want to do the black friday thing. so if i know it's going to be earlier, i'm more likely to buy early. >> reporter: office depot and office max are also kicking up
holiday sales this weekend. so amazon.com. target offering free shipping on all online purchases and sears planning discounts next weekend. >> you have more things and you get exactly what you want. >> reporter: while retailers are saving the best door buster deals for black friday, experts say they're competing to attract more customers earlier. >> for customers waiting until the last minute does mean they'll get the deeper discount, but it doesn't guarantee they'll get that merchandise. >> reporter: industry wide holiday sales are forecast to rise 4% this year. online purchases expected to grow from 8% to 11%. on its website walmart promises shoppers cyber monday-type deals this monday. >> they can expect 20,000 rollbacks on items across the store. we're rolling back items on toys whether you're in the store or on dot com. >> reporter: procrastinators be ware, less of an excuse to wait
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>> we train more like cross fit. some time on the treadmill, balance equipment and ability ring. >> reporter: kim and her husband came up with the idea for frolic dogs gym. and as expected when first shopped around it was met with some hesitation. >> we got the eye roll, the head smack. it's like, really? a dog gym? >> reporter: but four months in and membership is booming. why? more and more people have dogs these days yet owners have less and less time to properly exercise them. treadmills, balance beams, high bars, even trainers, sort of. go on, shoo. >> good boy. >> reporter: and just like people, dogs have their favorite equipment. reese is a fan of the balance beam. reese, let me see it. >> come on, reese. >> let's see it mary lou retton, i like it. beau is five years old and works out every day. >> gets mental stimulation and exercise. and it will keep him from chewing up the couch. >> reporter: ace is an agility competitor and a little bit of a show-off.
>> i have no backyard. so it's fun for us to come here and practice. say hi to jenna. >> reporter: feels really one-sided. maybe it doesn't come across that way. and like people some dogs just like going to the gym to socialize. >> he loves it. very mindful of their safety. >> reporter: what's next? cat gyms, turtle gyms, goat gyms. >> dogs have the right desire to please. >> reporter: so for now this canine craze is all theirs. jenna wolfe, nbc news, alexandria, virginia. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. don't forget to set your clocks back by one hour later tonight for daylight saving time. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and right back here tomorrow evening. good night.