tv NBC Nightly News NBC September 29, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
what we saw. also what the jackson children went through. crackdown. the toughest new immigration law in america. even questioning the status of school children. tonight opponents say they will fight it. the risk. as we continue to cover this deadliest food outbreak of its kind in over a decade, do you remember everything you ate this summer? you may have to. and paying it forward. help for those who can't pay for what they need in this economy, but it turns out they give back even more than they get.
plus here tonight after one of the most spectacular falls in modern history, a wicked bad day in boston. "nightly news" begins now. 23478 stop captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. it may say a lot about health care for rich folks in america. michael jackson hired his personal physician for a flat fee, $150,000 a month to care for him. it's now pretty clear that as a celebrity patient he expected a certain kind of medical treatment. some contend that meant whatever he wanted. his former doctor is in trial in california following the death of michael jackson. and, today, jurors and viewers
around the world heard from a man who was there in the room when michael jackson died, ending a life that was more troubled than we all first thought, if that's possible. nbc's jeff rossen starts us off from the courthouse in l.a. tonight. jeff, good evening. >> reporter: hey, brian. prosecutors in los angeles say dr. conrad murray was negligent by pumping michael jackson with drugs that ultimately killed him back on june 25, 2009. years later, dr. conrad murray is now on trial and prosecutors called their key witness to the stand, michael's own body guard who says after michael jackson stopped breathing, dr. murray made a stunning request. >> does this appear to be the bottle that you saw on june 25, 2009? >> it appears to be, yes, sir. >> reporter: alberto alvarez says he and dr. conrad murray were the only people there as michael jackson died inside the pop star's bedroom. alvarez told the jury when jackson stopped breathing, murray wanted to clean up. >> he reached over and grabbed a
handful of vials. then he reached out to me and said, here, put these in a bag. >> reporter: prosecutors say dr. murray was trying to hide the medication before calling 911. >> at the bottom of the bag there was what appeared to me like a milky white substance, sir. >> reporter: prosecutors say it was propofol, a powerful anesthetic. dr. murray is accused of administering a lethal dose to jackson to help him sleep. >> this is clearly the most damning evidence so far. the intent is to show the jury that he had consciousness of guilt. this is something the defense will have to deal with. >> reporter: and they did. on cross-examination saying murray did ask him to call 911 immediately. >> is it possible, mr. alvarez, that you are confused about the timing of these particular events? is that possible? >> no, sir. >> reporter: the defense argument that michael jackson was desperate for sleep. ♪ >> reporter: desperate to make his comeback tour work. >> he was apparently willing to
do whatever he needed to do to find rest. >> reporter: and your contention is he would have done anything including giving himself propofol and lorazepan. >> without question. that's why michael jackson isn't here today,. >> reporter: there was an emotional moment late in the day in court. alvarez was talking about michael jackson's kids as michael was dying in his bedroom. alvarez said he looked up and saw paris and prince in the doorway looking on. he said paris was crying and simply screamed, daddy. >> jeff rossen starting us off in l.a. tonight. thanks. nbc's savannah guthrie is a lawyer who has covered a lot of criminal cases. these days our legal analyst. savannah, we should probably point out that the burden of proof convicting this doctor is very high in this case. >> it's the highest we have in our legal system -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- because this is a criminal case. for a lot of viewers it may sound like the typical medical malpractice case. that's a civil case about money
damages. this is conrad murray, michael jackson's doctor, on trial facing prison time of up to four years. the issue is whether he committed involuntary manslaughter, gross negligence, something so far outside the standard of care that any doctor would provide as to be criminally punishable. >> so the jury usually in a civil case, as you talk about the other option, is beyond a preponderance of the evidence. >> right. it's a much lower standard. preponderance of the evidence, could be something like 50/50. beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that goes into 80, 90% certainty although it is not scientific that jurors would have here. here, prosecutors are setting out a set of facts they say show dr. murray far deviated from the standard of care that a doctor should provided a ministering a powerful sedative at all outside a hospital setting. then leaving the patient unattended as prosecutors allege. the 20 minutes before dr. murray asked anyone to call 911.
the fact that he told e.r. doctors as well as first responding paramedics about anti-anxiety medicine but didn't mention propofol. these are the facts prosecutors have started to lay out in court. >> all right. savannah guthrie. thanks. now to alabama where a federal judge upheld the toughest immigration law in the country. a law that tells elementary schools to investigate their kids. one commentator today called this arizona on steroids in terms of immigration. opponents of the law are promising a fight. nbc's kerry sanders in birmingham, alabama, for us tonight. kerry, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the state immigration law is now on the books here. but those who will have to enforce it are yet to figure out just how they will do that. today, police in alabama have new power. teachers have new responsibilities -- to check
people's birth certificates and to enforce what, until now, was federal immigration law. not everyone welcomes the new authority. >> we don't believe that teachers in alabama public schools should be converted to immigration officers. it's not our job to police the children that come to public school every day. it is our job to teach. >> reporter: it is estimated more than 120,000 alabama citizens are here illegally. the cost to taxpayers, $290 million. >> it would not have been necessary to address this problem if the federal government would have done its job and enforced the laws dealing with this problem. [ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: 39-year-old amanda said she left el salvador and illegally entered the u.s. four years ago. in alabama she cleans houses and babysits. >> translator: i'm afraid that i will go to work and i don't know if i'm ever going to return to my house. >> reporter: that's the goal, in part, say alabama lawmakers, to scare undocumented immigrants like amanda so she deports herself.
>> that's what it is really about. trying to get the illegal workforce to move out and letting alabamaians plug into those jobs. >> reporter: americans won't take jobs picking crops. this mexican-american says in this southern state with the ugly history she sees something else in the law. >> i think it's just hate, not really about jobs. >> reporter: alabama joins four other states with similar state immigration laws. >> this is too delicious an issue for politicians not to exploit and that's what's going on. exploiting the public's fear that jobs are being taken away. the borders are being overrun. >> reporter: officials in alabama say no roadblocks or round-ups are planned but school officials say they will begin implementing this law by checking the birth certificates of new students enrolling in schools here. brian? >> kerry sanders in birmingham for us tonight. kerry, thanks.
there are new questions this evening about the largest food outbreak of its kind in over a decade in this country, this deadly outbreak of listeria being linked to fresh cantaloupe. our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman here in studio tonight. i learned two things today. how virulent it is and how far back this summer this goes and still being within the possibility of getting people infected. first week of july. >> that's exactly what has federal officials warning people. we are now looking at a third of the country. 16 people dead, 78 people affected. exactly at issue that this listeria can last some time. a lot of people get it and don't get ill. it can linger up to 70 days after being ingested. it's a reminder that if you're not sure where your cantaloupe has come from, or any other melon, get rid of it. and treat it like chicken. scrub it, wash it and then scrub surfaces in the kitchen. if you have eaten cantaloupe and you start to get symptoms, and
they are usually fever, aches and pains and some g.i. upset, let your doctor know. this can be a risk to you. for pregnant women it can be a risk to the fetus and it must be treated by i.v. antibiotics. so oh -- a reminder that if you really think you have symptoms and you're hazy, try to remember what you have eaten, play it safe, call your doctor. >> a lot of people thinking back to what they had all summer long. >> which is a hard thing to do. >> thank you, nancy, as always. tonight we want to show you what a solid week of weather looks like. if you live from the upper midwest to the northeast you have been living this one massive swirling weather system churning, twirling, spewing out waves of rain from lake michigan east to the atlantic ocean. our friends the forecasters at the weather channel tell us after being parked like a car tire for a week now, it will finally be pushed out by the
first big real cold air mass of the season from our neighbors to the north. bank of america announced today it will start charging customers a $5 a month fee to use a debit card. the new financial reform law lowered the amount banks get each time a debit card is swiped at a store. banks are having trouble because interest rates are low and so is demand for loans. the fee will not apply if the card is only used to get cash from an atm and not for purchases. there are fascinating numbers out tonight from the brand new census. they tell us a lot about who we are and how much life in america has changed in just the space of one generation including what we all look like these days. nbc's tom costello has our report. >> reporter: the latest snapshot of america shows a population that is quickly becoming much more multi racial with the percentage of nonhispanic whites declining in 15 states from 75% of the population in 2000 to 72%
in 2010. >> we are finding tremendous diversity within the united states. >> reporter: there is even more evidence that strict racial lines are blurring. the mixed race white population rose by 2 million or 37%. people identifying themselves as mixed race, black and white, more than doubled, up 133% in ten years from 785,000 people in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2010. for proof that the country is far more comfortable with interracial marriages and families, look no further than power couples heidi klum and seal, david bowie and iman, william and janet cohen. heidi durro is the product of a mixed race family and talks about it on her award-winning podcast. >> it not only shows that we are stronger as human beings, but as a society. that the fabric of our culture holds itself together better. >> reporter: sociologists say what's striking is how the nation's attitudes on race seem to have changed so profoundly in 45 years since the civil rights
movement. >> this is a world that's becoming much more open to people of different backgrounds, different races. >> reporter: the shift in attitudes in the deep south. of the ten states showing the largest increase in multi race white populations. nine were in the south. south carolina alone saw a 112% increase in the mixed race white population. meanwhile whites who identify themselves as being ethnically his ta pick also rose by 56% as america's melting pot continues to bubble. tom costello, nbc news, washington. when we come back, in this economy free groceries for families who are struggling. but they have to pay it forward. we'll show you how that works. and later, what might have been the most bizarre, electrifying, agonizing night in the history of america's past time.
food banks have been stretched to the limit, but portland, oregon, has what might be a new model for neighbors helping each other. in order to get you have to give. it's a formulation that appears to be working well. our report tonight from nbc's lee cowan. >> reporter: sometimes a grocery store is more than just a place to shop. at birch community services, it's a place to survive. >> it's helped feed my family. >> reporter: the average family who shops here has five kids and earns just $40,000 a year. but every item -- from the bread to the boots -- is free. >> thank you so much. >> i can't imagine anything more fulfilling than getting free stuff and giving it away. >> reporter: barry and his wife suzanne run birch community services. their goal is to help the working poor. while the clothes and food is
free, there is a price to pay. >> step up or step out. that simple. >> reporter: that means no free lunch. to shop here families pay $50 a month for a membership. sort of like costco. they have to volunteer in the warehouse twice a month. and they have homework. families are required to attend at least one home finance class as well. >> they don't say, hey, come in, shop, pay us your dues. okay, bye. they say, no, let's help you. >> reporter: leeanne johnson is a stay at home mom with three kids. her husband, ben, had a steady job but when the economy dipped so did his hours. >> i thought we'd lose the house. >> reporter: with the hundreds they are saving on food and clothes, not to mention the budget tips they are getting in class, may make a dent in their debt. >> stepping up, taking accountability and saying, okay, i need help, but i'm not going to just take. i want to give. >> reporter: there are 600 other families just like them, getting a hand up, not a handout. it is a remarkable story of success. made even more remarkable by the fact that it was borne of
personal failure. >> when i was 40 i lost everything i had. i was actually eating out of a dumpster. >> reporter: years of alcoholism and gambling had taken their toll. a handout wouldn't have helped. accountability did. and a business model was born. >> bless you. >> this program is 90% about people and 10% about food. most of the other programs are the reverse. >> reporter: it's not for everybody. tough love hurts sometimes. it can't be quite as tough as the times. lee cowan, nbc news, portland. >> by the way, there is a way you can link to them on our website tonight. up next, as we continue, the woman who may have had the best view on earth for a few minutes at least.
that would be the first lady in the checkout lane in the target. the white house politely told us tonight they routinely don't comment on the private lives of first families but they also added the first lady sneaks out from time to time to do all sorts of things, as people like to do. not far away in d.c. today this was going on. the rappelling team inspecting every inch of the washington monument for earthquake damage. they were back at it 500 feet above the ground. they removed big chunks of loose stone which could have caused big problems if it fell. all of this from that earthquake. katie francis who is part of what they call the difficult access rappelling team was savoring the moment. >> it's a fun part of the job. we want to make sure we get an accurate record of how the monument is doing. i was shocked to hear that they used this as a means of access and they asked me if i would be interested. i said, absolutely, i would love
to be involved in the team that does that kind of work. >> she was up for it. what a job they have. keep those helmets handy. while we all survived the school bus-sized satellite that crashed into the pacific last weekend, here comes another one. next up on deck, a german satellite slated to make a flaming reentry in november. behind that one, the folks at space command -- and you have to love the fact that there is a place called space command -- are tracking close to 20,000 other orbiting objects and they can't stay up there forever. a lot of people nominated this for the coziest scene they had seen in a long time. 12 pandas, all born this year, on display for the first time at the giant panda breeding center in southwest china. cuteness aside, this facility is playing such an important role in increasing the panda population. there are 108 of the endangered animals there now. that's up from six rescued wild
atd lmwhinllg. and what this fish did that has scientists stunned. baseball veteran barry larkin said on espn last night it was the most exciting night of baseball in his lifetime. that's saying a lot. it was the first of its kind confluence. and at no other time in the modern era has one team, the boston red sox, in this case, blown a save quite like this or blown a season quite like this. in short, what a night. nbc's peter alexander was up late watching, just like all the rest of us. >> the red sox lose. >> reporter: you will excuse fans in boston today if they are suffering from an unpleasant bout of nostalgia. >> rich in waltham wants to blow the whole thing up. >> reporter: for the days not too long ago when their beloved red sox were known for epic collapses like this. >> the orioles walk off with the win. >> reporter: boston fans, seldom ones for keeping things in perspective are already drawing other historical comparisons. >> oh, the humanity. >> reporter: it all capped off a
chain of events that's already being called one of the greatest nights in baseball history. it was hard to know where to look. from houston to atlanta to baltimore to tampa bay. >> it is a homerun! >> reporter: statistically speaking this never should have happened. never mind that the red sox were one strike away from victory last night or that the tampa bay rays were down 7-0 before this game-winning homerun. >> the rays are going to the playoffs! >> reporter: but remarkably boston, the same city that 25 years ago watched its world series hopes dribble through bill buckner's legs, lost 20 games this month. >> this is a cold, hard slap in the face. no team has ever had a collapse this bad. >> reporter: even for the casual fan, last night was a water cooler moment. if you were up for it, you're still talking about it. if you were asleep, you can't believe what you missed. boston is not alone. the atlanta braves choked, too, completing their own epic collapse last night. >> and the phillies have taken the lead. >> disappointed. but we love the braves.
we'll be pulling for them. >> being a red sox fan, you almost expect it sometimes. >> reporter: it's not even october yet, but for millions of baseball fans it feels like a long winter. peter alexander, nbc news, new york. >> don't ever want to hear baseball isn't exciting. that's our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com good evening and thanks for joining us on this thursday. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. an afternoon of breaking news. three major stories to tell you about. a gas leak, a fire at a recycling plant, and a massive protest inside a bay area bank. >> now, the gas leak in pleasant hill put the neighborhood around viking and ruth streets on edge. this is right near