tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 13, 2016 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
b breaking news tonight. a dangerously close encounter as russian fighter jets launch a simulated attack at a u.s. navy warship. high drama on the high seas. the u.s. alarmed. trump at war with the republican party. what the front-runner is calling a disgrace as the head of the party says give us all a break. heated standoff as tens of thousands of verizon workers walk off the job. the impact for millions of customers. robert de niro vaccines and autism. the hollywood superstar and father of an autistic child says there is a link despite that claim being widely discredited. and a big move for a paralyzed man unable to use his arms and legs. now able to play video games, a medical breakthrough with the power to change lives. "nightly news" begin
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. we begin with a chilling echo of the cold war. u.s. officials expressing deep concern tonight over a dangerously close encounter caught on tape between an american navy destroyer and russian fighter jets. the navy says its vessel was operating in international waters of the baltic sea when the russian warplanes made simulated attack passes. what's being described as one of the most aggressive acts in a growing pattern of muscle-flexing by russia. nbc's peter alexander has details. >> bloat bridge brink. below the bridge link. >> reporter: a pair of russian fighter jets busing the "uss donald cooke."
claims one stricken within 30 feet and so low that the plane caused a wake in the water. these photos revealing how close they came. the fly-bis, more than 30 in all between monday and tuesday. u.s. officials say the "cook" was in international waters 70 miles off the russian coast. the ship's commanding officer condemning russia's behavior as unsafe and unprofessional. watch the jets aggressively swooping in over the deck, simulating a maneuver that would be used in an attack. earlier a russian helicopter made seven passes above the "cook" photographing the ship. the department of defense officials taking note. >> i hear the russians are up to their old tricks again. >> reporter: the white house, too. >> the russian military, including russian military aircraft, have come close enough to each other or have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns. >> reporter: the u.s. european command today warned the russian jet actions could unnecessarily increase tensions or cause serious injury or
just last october two u.s. navy jets intercepted a pair of russian planes flying near a u.s. ship in the pacific ocean. four months earlier a russian jet buzzing a uss destroyer in the back sea. it's happened before, but never like this. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. there's late word tonight of another big shake-up in the trump campaign bringing on a heavy hitter, a veteran gop strategist as the front-runner steps up his attacks on his own party, calling the primary rules a disgrace. nbc's katy tur has new details on trump's war. >> reporter: the gop front-runner openly at war with the gop itself. >> the system, folks, is rigged. it's a rigged system. now you have to understand i'm not complaining about the states that i won. those are okay. >> reporter: trump angry that ted cruz was able to out-negotiate him in louisiana and colorado by convincing more unbound delegates to support cruz. trump focusing on party rules under
necessarily equal winning the most delegates, and now he's placing blame right at the top with the rnc chairman telling "the hill" it's a disgrace for the party, and reince priebus should be ashamed of himself. priebus responding on twitter nomination process known for a year and beyond. it's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. complaints now? give us all a break. trump trying to blame the system and galvanize his supporters, many of whom say they feel alienated by washington. >> if the rnc were to be perceived by the millions of trump supporters as somehow not supporting him fully, it would permanently damage the gop. >> reporter: right now trump needs to win 61% of the remaining delegates to get to 1,237 and lock up the nomination on the first ballot, but at least one rnc rules committee member suggests the rules won't be so stringent. >> if donald trump exceeds 1,100 votes, he will become the nominee even though he
>> reporter: after campaign infighting donald trump announced another big hire, rick wiley, governor scott walker's former campaign manager, another sign that the campaign is trying to get serious about this delegate hunt. tonight here in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, with 71 delegates up for grabs. lester? >> katy tur, thank you. there are even more new twists tonight in the shooting death of former nfl star will smith. for the first time we're hearing his wife's account of the fatedful night her husband was killed and she was left badly wounded. nbc's gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: today three her attorney raquel smith, still recovering in the hospital from two gunshot wounds to her legs, gave her first public account of the shooting death of her husband, former nfl star wil smith. >> that night, as he always does, was protecting her. >> reporter: he says saturday night the hummer driven by smith's alleged killer
suddenly. >> they slammed on their brakes on magazine street, did not believe they even hit the hummer. >> reporter: so they drove off. >> suddenly this hummer drove up up at great speed behind them and rammed the back of their car. >> reporter: police say an argument between the two men escalated, and hayes opened fire. >> we have evidence that showed no remorse whatsoever, that he actually stood over will smith's dead body. >> reporter: did mr. smith ever threaten to go get his gun inside the car? >> i'm not aware of any threats by mr. smith to go get a gun. >> reporter: but on tuesday police confirmed they discovered a fully loaded gun in smith's car raising a number of questions, including why it took investigators more than two days to find it. police say they needed time to methodically execute a search warrant. the coroner said today smith was shot eight times, seven times in the back and once in the left side of his chest. and for the first time we're hearing from the attorney of hayes' passenger who calls this justifiable homicide.
smith had a gun and was going to shoot it and cardell may have saved boast their lives, the attorney tells nbc news. we assume will smith is a saint, but he's not. a public viewing for smith now scheduled for friday as the investigation into his final moments intensifies. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, new orleans. the teen known for his so-called affluenza defense is back in the headlines. ethan couch face d a judge once again today judge once again today in adult court, and this time he did receive prison time, nearly two years or 180 days for each of the four people he killed in a drunk driving crash. nbc's miguel almaguer has more. >> reporter: ethan couch, better known as the affluenza teens, was in adult court today ordered to stay in jail for nearly two years. the 19-year-old who was at the center of an international manhunt saying little in court as the judge imposed his sentence. >> you will remain in the county jail at this time. i want you to
of jail today. >> reporter: in 2013 couch received ten years probation after a drunk driving accident that left four dead and nine others injured. the defense argued his life of privilege left him with no sense of responsibility. last december after this video surfaced which was said to show couch partying, he was accused of violating his probation. he fled to mexico with his mom, evading authorities for weeks. today tonya couch watched her son sentenced. >> we've all wanted justice for this, and i, you know, i'm certainly glad to see that his -- you know, his confinement is going to continue. >> reporter: ethan couch ordered to stay in jail. >> is 180 days enough? i don't think it is, but that's the limb nations of the hybrid case that we're at. >> for families looking for justice a small victory but still not enough. miguel almaguer, nbc news. tonight a heated standoff is under way after tens of thousands of verizon workers walked off the
will potentially impact millions of customers. nbc's stephanie gosk has details. >> reporter: from boston to new york to arlington, tens of thousands of verizon workers took their grievances to the street. contract negotiations over health care, pensions and outsourcing are at a standstill. >> the goal is to hurt verizon and to compel them to come to the table and settle. >> reporter: the strike affects verizon's telephone, internet and tv business on the east coast separate from verizon's much larger and more profitable wireless business. the workers out here are the technicians, the people that take calls in the call centers or fix the telephone line. verizon says they have trained 10,000 people to take over for them. the problem is there are 36,000 workers on strike. >> i think if the strike goes on for several months, the questions will be about customer loyalty, customer satisfaction. >> reporter: in new york today, it was an irresistible campaign stop.
sanders in brooklyn. >> who is with me? >> reporter: verizon's ceo blasted back. when rhetoric becomes disconnected from reality, we've crossed a dangerous line. verizon, which made a profit more than $18 billion in 2015, says the company's proposals are both fair and necessary to stay competitive, but union leaders refuse to go into mediation. >> this company has no boundaries at all when it comes to greed. >> reporter: today at least compromise is not on the table. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. a scathing new report is calling out the chicago police department for long-standing systematic racism in its ranks. now the task force behind the report is demanding sweeping changes. we get more from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: tonight a task force appointed by chicago he's mayor revealing its blunt findings, that the police department has a history of racism and must address it head on.
>> i think where there's no doubt that we have a lot of work to do in the sense of not only restoring trust but building what i think are essential values of transparency. >> reporter: the report cited the 2014 death of laquan mcdonald, an unarmed black man shot 16 times by police, calling it the tipping point for community anger. the task force found police here have shot blacks at an alarming disproportionate percentage over the years, nearly three-quarter of police shooting victims from 2008 to 2014 were african-american, compared to 14% hispanic and 8% white and the report also finding black drivers were stopped by police more often than white or hispanics and subjected to vehicle searches at a rate nearly that four times of whites. the man now directly tasked with guiding chicago's police department into the future, eddie johnson, was unanimously approved by the city council today. a rebuke of chicago police culture and practices with a federal investigation of the department still under way. ron mott, nbc news, chicago. we have a story now of a breakthrough that sounds like something out of a science fiction magazine or novel. a man paralyzed for
move his hand, even playing games all thanks to a chip implanted by doctors in his brain. nbc's joe fryar on this new medical hope. >> reporter: these may look like mindless hand movements, but they are the product of six years of research in one paralyzed man's hard fought quest to move his own hand using his own thoughts. >> i really hope that this is going to be something that will give people movement back that they thought was lost forever. >> reporter: five years ago when ian burkhart was a college freshman he dove into an ocean wave and was slammed into a sandbar breaking his neck. the freak accident left him paralyzed from the middle of his chest down. while his brain can while burkhart's brain can still send signals, they are blocked by his spinal cord injury and can't get to his muscles, so doctors at ohio state implanted a chip in his brain. a computer then decodes all the signals and sends that informn
arm, a bypass around his damaged nerves. >> it wasn't something that was completely natural because i lost all the sensation in my arms, so i had to rely hon my eyes to really know that my hand was opening and closing. >> reporter: like a child learning to walk, burkhart's progress was gradual. at first any movement was an accomplishment, but after months of grueling work he can now swipe a credit card and even play the guitar, sort of. for now all of this is only possible when he's in the lab hooked up to the computers. >> the goal is to make this simple and routine so patients can use it like ian at home with his family. >> reporter: it's still early, but the research holds promise for those with stroke and traumatic brain injuries, ground breaking technology reconnecting the brain with the body. joe fryar, nbc news. >> exciting possibilities. still ahead tonight, actor robert de niro like you've never heard him before opening up to nbc news about his son's autism and defending a highly
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vaccines and autism are connected. nbc's kate snow has more. >> reporter: in a candid interview on "today," robert de niro says he believes there's a link between vaccines and autism. >> i as the parent of a child who has autism, i'm concerned, and i want to know the truth, and i'm not anti-vaccine. i want safe vaccines. >> reporter: just two weeks ago, de niro and his tribeca film festival pulled a controversial new documentary on that very topic because other film-makers were threatening to back out, but today de niro said he still wants people to see the film "vaxxed." >> there are many people who come out and say, no, i saw my kid like change overnight. >> reporter: is that the experience you had, robert, something changed overnight? >> my wife says that. i don't remember, but my child is autistic, and every kid is different, but there is something there. there's something there that people rjt addressing, and for me to get so upset here today on the "today" shoit
something there. >> reporter: dr. paul offit heads a prominent vaccine education center. >> it saddens me to think that someone as intelligent as robert de niro could possibly believe there's a vast international conspiracy involving hundreds of researchers and academicina? and health officials to hide the truth. >> reporter: at least 15 studies have not no relation shen between vaccines and autism and vaccine speaks >> the fact that vaccines don't cause autism is a fact. >> reporter: scientists worry de niro's words will create unnecessary fear and confusion for parents. kate snow, nbc news. we're back in a moment with why steph curry and the golden state warriors have a date with destiny tonight. (burke) at farmers, we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. even a stag pool party. (party music)
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you're a woman. so why does congress think it's ok that women get paid 20% less than a man for doing the same job? i'll fight for pay equity, to protect planned parenthood, choice for women, and expand paid and family leave. now some politicians will belittle this as a women's agenda. more proof that we just need more women in congress. i'm kathleen mathews and i approve this message. it's the final night of the nba regular season, and the golden state warriors have a shot at making history. steph curry and
regular season wins which is 72 set by michael jordan and the chicago bulls 20 years ago. and after 20 seasons, kobe bryant takes the court tonight for the final time. a big farewell planned for the superstar who earned five championship rings with the lakers. if you've been to the airport lately, then you're likely well aware that lines are swelling, overwhelmed by an increase in passengers and not enough people on the job. there are growing calls for the tsa to fix it. the head of charlotte's airport saying today they are dealing with lines up to three hours. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: pick your airport, atlanta, minneapolis, newark. the tsa's security checkpoints are looking more like choke points. in some cases security lines closed because there aren't enough screeners. among the worst in the country, seattle. waits as long as 90 minutes. >> better be there an hour and a half before
instances that's barely going to get you there in time. >> reporter: sea tack says the tsa only has staffing of 19 of the 32 lanes so the airport is hiring private contractors to help load bins and guide passengers. >> transportation security officers will now have time to focus on actually screening and x-raying bags. >> reporter: mitch brenner was waiting at newark. >> i'm really hoping that i can even make my flight at this point. you can see the line behind me. >> reporter: the tsa admits it's simply struggling with attrition and understaffed having underestimated the sudden surge in passenger volume nationwide. passenger volume now averaging 2.2 billion a day. on sundays 3 million. the choke points are causing passengers to miss flights. on a recent spring break week nearly 6,800 american airlines passengers never made it on board >> the tsa says be prepared for high volumes at the airport it's because there are justha
>> reporter: to speed things up the tsa is hiring 200 new officers each week and moving dog teams from slow to busy airports to screen passengers standing in line. if the dogs or officers don't detect explosives, passengers could move to expedited screening lanes. tom costello, nbc news, chicago o'hare airport. when we come back, a rock star of the tech world. sean parker on his multi-million moon shot to wipe out cancer. daughter. for the little things. and the big milestones. and just like i'm there for her, pacific life is there to help protect me and my family so i can enjoy all life's moments. pacific life. helping families for over 145 years achieve long-term financial security with lifelong retirement income. talk to a financial advisor today to grow your future with confidence. don't let dust and allergies get and life's beautiful moments. with flonase allergy relief, they wont. most allergy pills only control one inflammatory substance.
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finally tonight, we want to tell you about the launch of an ambitious new moon shot of sorts to end cancer. it comes through famed tech billionaire sean parker who announced a huge $250 million donation for cutting-edge research, and tonight he's speaking about it exclusively with nbc's keith morrison. >> reporter: at 19, he was a disrupter. he co-funded napster, and at 24 he was a president of facebook. >> i'm sean parker. how do you do? >> reporter: though the parker played by justin timberlake in "the social network" was not him at all, he says, but he is a billionaire with a huge ambition to cure cancer. well, not him, of course, but the unique band of world class scientists he's brought together to fix a systemt
has my background as an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to change lives, to change the world and it's not being funded. >> reporter: why can't i do it? >> yeah. it's actually kind of in my dna to go after those sorts of opportunities. >> reporter: how? unprecedented collaboration mostly and a way to break through red tape. >> what if the breakthroughs and data at one institution could be used by anyone at the other? >> reporter: today parker announced that 40 cancer labs and more than 300 researchers have signed on. their focus, immunotherapy which tries to turn a patient's own immune system against his or her cancer. parker is a believer in immunotherapy. and so is fifth grader emily whitehead. when we met her three years ago, she was struggling with leukemia, and after experimental immunotherapy. >> she's cancer-free, and i couldn't believe it. i just -- i thought it was a dream. >> reporter: parker wants more emilys. >> it's a manhattan project for curing cancer with the immune
>> reporter: too ambitious? maybe, and maybe not. >> this is what cures look like. >> reporter: maybe a disruption that saves lives. keith morrison, nbc news, los angeles. >> that's going to do it for us on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good nigh t.