Sunday's Making a Difference report was on the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund.
To learn more about the college fundraiser for the children of fallen Massachusetts service members in Iraq and Afghanistan click here.
Yesterday afternoon, NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel called into the newsroom from Afghanistan where he is embedded with a unit of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. He told us the outpost they are at came under a Taliban attack and that there had been an intense firefight. A number of US soldiers were wounded. He said he would have a spot in time for the broadcast. Richard's story didn't feed into the newsroom over the satellite until late, just minutes in fact before I was to walk into the studio. As we all stood around the monitor and watched it play, our collective jaws dropped. We were spellbound at the sight and sounds of war as real and as intense as it gets. A terrifying snapshot of what American troops face there everyday.
I just came out of a screening of Richard's follow up story for tonight. It is even more riveting. And through one soldier, we get a raw, emotionally charged and telling glimpse into how they manage to handle the constant danger and the loss of their comrades.
Americans have a lot on their minds here at home these days. The oil crisis in the Gulf, and lingering high unemployment to name a few. After almost 9 years, the war in Afghanistan may seem like background noise to some of us. It is certainly not to those who are fighting it. I hope you'll watch Richard's reporting from the front lines this evening on NBC Nightly News.
According to the National Weather Service in most years flooding accounts for more weather-related deaths than lightning, tornados and hurricanes. Only heat kills more. The thinking is that most of us underestimate the power of water. The experts say just six inches of rapidly moving water can generate enough force to knock a person off their feet. Now consider the fact that the flash flood that swept away campers along Arkansas' Caddo and Little Missouri River early yesterday may have generated a wall of water over 23 feet high. On NOAA's flood safety web page , among the flash flood precautions it suggests is to "be familiar with the surrounding land features and be prepared to head for higher ground if necessary." Though a late night flash flood warning was apparently issued, the danger built so quickly many believe the sleeping campers in the Albert Pike recreation area stood little chance of evacuating the site in time. Few in the area can remember a rainstorm as intense as the one that triggered the flood.
Today as the death toll reached 17, a grim search is underway in the area for the dozens of people who still haven't been accounted for. We'll have live coverage from the scene this evening and hear from survivors on NBC Nightly News.
David Gregory writes: For a Friday when there is still so much focus on developments in the Gulf, we have all been completely absorbed in the emerging details of this deadly storm in Arkansas which has killed at least 20 people at a remote campsite. As much warning as there may have been about the weather moving in, no one appeared prepared for what happened: a flash flood that caused the Caddo and Missouri rivers to rise some 20 feet overnight. We will have the latest on this story tonight.
We have also learned this afternoon that President Obama will speak with British Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow to discuss criticism of BP. I can't imagine this will be a pleasant conversation after the President indicated this week he's trying to learn more from scientists about whose butt he can kick at the company. Anne Thompson continues her reporting tonight on what more we know about how much oil is spewing from the out of control well.
The story that has generated the most discussion today is about this 16-year-old girl who went missing during her attempt to sail around the world. Even as rescue crews attempt to reach her, more people are asking why the parents would allow their daughter to attempt such a voyage. Is it fair to ask, can't such an adventure wait until she's an adult?
Brian is away tonight so I will be filling in from Washington.
I will also see you Sunday on Meet the Press. My exclusive guest: the President's senior adviser, David Axelrod.
"You've wrecked the country...we need you to plug the hole, write the checks and shut up." -- James Carville on BP
A friend of mine became an American citizen today—and after the ceremony, he promptly went back to work for his American television network. Canadian-born Kevin Tibbles is now officially an American citizen. He enjoys all the same rights and privileges we all do. He can now worry like a citizen over this oil spill, he can make the transition from Molson to Budweiser. Our country got better today by at least one new member in our ranks.
Veteran viewers will remember Kevin's treatise on what hockey means to Canadians. You'll also perhaps recall our story on the USA Olympic men's hockey team from 1960. Our own Clare Duffy has posted a similar story—an interview with 83-year-old Walter Bahr of the 1950 men's soccer team, which nicely sets up the World Cup soccer rivalry between the U.S. and England that will be decided this coming Saturday.
We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast
Have questions about the Gulf oil spill and its aftermath? Submit them here -- we'll be answering selected questions on the broadcast.
Watch previous FAQ segments here:
I keep reflecting on the fact that John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in 1962. He said we were going to the moon by the end of the decade, and we were standing on the moon by the summer of '69. We could use a little bit of that right now.
Our News Division President, Steve Capus, said in a staff meeting this morning that we almost need a separate department—for all of our broadcasts—to deal with the daily developments in the Gulf and the ideas that are floating around as to how to fix it. It should also be noted that the members of our team down there have been warriors. Anne Thompson has been there for the majority of these 51 days. Mark Potter and Kerry Sanders are residents of the region. Every piece, every night, has been exemplary. And for each of them, it takes an army of producers and camera crews to put them on the air each night. Like with war coverage, we have employees down there who haven't seen their families for weeks. We have rented houses for our folks to stay in and we have hired local boat captains to help us get around (at least we're putting money into the struggling local economy).
I just wanted to take a moment to recognize some of what you DON'T see on TV—which is the work and dedication that goes into what you DO see.
We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.
Sign posted on Louisiana Avenue in New Orleans
I just learned today that I made an error when we did our last live broadcast from the Gulf, on Wednesday of last week. We invited John Hofmeister (former Shell Oil President, author of "Why We Hate The Oil Companies") back on the broadcast -- and in the build-up to a question I indicated that he had expressed doubts that supertankers could be effective in corralling this spill. That was wrong. In fact, Mr. Hofmeister had been an advocate of such a thing, early on. He heard me make the error, and as he explained to me today, he let it go by, thinking: It was an honest mistake made on live television. That's exactly what it was. I had written an item for the broadcast that I didn't get to air that night -- on this very subject of supertankers -- something we've discussed before (weeks ago, we aired a story including the supertanker idea, including an interview with a gentleman named Nick Pozzi who had employed them in the Persian Gulf following a spill) and I must have momentarily mixed John up with the dozens of interviews on the subject that I've seen and read -- or the people I've talked to off the air who are experts in the field.
At any rate: I was just made aware of my error today, and I apologize for the mistake. I called John Hofmeister today, who kindly brushed it off, and chose instead to vent some of the anger and frustration that we share on the topic of this spill. We will have him on again soon, as I think he adds to this conversation. I regret that my mistake got some traction on the web before I knew to correct it, but there's nothing more to it than my screw-up while anchoring a live broadcast.
Right now on my desktop in my office, I'm watching the live underwater camera and listening to WWL Radio in New Orleans. It's a powerful combination, and it can be thoroughly depressing if you devote too much time to either one. Our coverage continues tonight, and I hope you'll join us.
Sean Gardner / Reuters
Oiled pelicans sit in a pen waiting to be cleaned at a rescue center facility in Fort Jackson, La., on June 7. Over the past six weeks, 292 birds have been brought to the center -- 196 were brown pelicans.
Click here to view more images of the oil spill and its aftermath.
Monday on NBC Nightly News, we discuss two new drugs: Crizotinib for certain patients with lung cancer, and Ipilimumab, for advanced melanoma, the potentially deadly skin cancer. Both drugs will get simpler names when they win commercial approval.
The drugs are at very different stages of development. The lung cancer drug has been tested in only one small, uncontrolled trial. Pfizer is undertaking a much larger trial to find out if it will prove appropriate for submission to the Food and Drug Administration. The melanoma drug has completed a trial large enough for submission to the FDA. Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to submit it by the FDA by the end of the year, and it is available now for those who might benefit from it, before it wins approval, through what is known as "a compassionate access trials.”
For more information about the lung cancer drug Crizotini, viewers can call: (1-877-369-9753 (US and Canada) or 1-646-277-4066 (outside the US). Or they find more information at the Pfizer website here.
For more information regarding the melanoma drug Ipilimumab, click here.
We also included much more information on this drug in our Saturday report, "Melanoma drug a seismic shift"
People interested in finding more information about clinical trials for any disease, whether sponsored by the government or by private companies, can visit http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/search and type in the name of the condition to find out what trials are available and where.
Keeping in mind that the victims of the spill—the people and the animals—have done nothing to deserve this, it was clear listening to the callers to New Orleans radio station WWL today that the anger level is rising. For all of us who automatically harken back to Katrina in terms of recovery from devastation, this document today was devastating. And while television, especially in high definition, does a good job of conveying the horrible scene, sometimes a still photo (or several) can be more effective. The New York Times has an especially good collection. It’s grim, but it’s important that you see how bad it is.
We'll continue our reporting tonight. We hope you can join us.
It's that time of year again, when NBC Nightly News honors college graduates across the country with our commencement round-up. It's an annual tradition, and also a labor of love: Producer Victor Limjoco, editor Bev Chase, and associate producer Clare Kim spent hundreds of hours searching for the moments that best captured the sentiments of The Class of 2010.
NBC Nightly News worked with 291 schools and received 308 tapes this year. We also worked with several bands that you'll hear in the piece, and we'd like to offer them special thanks:
My colleague Kerry Sanders has checked in from Louisiana after going up in a Coast Guard helicopter above the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He told us the oil sheen extends for "as far as you can see," and that at an altitude of 500 feet "you can smell the oil." Kerry will show us what he saw including the rigs bore into those all important relief wells.
It's hot and steamy here along the east coast, and the radar images indicate we could be in for much of the same rough weather that hammered parts of the Midwest overnight, killing 5 people in Ohio. At this writing tornado watches cover an area from Washington D.C., up to to New York City, and as far north as Boston. We'll be keeping tabs throughout the afternoon and have the latest on tonight's broadcast.
Anyone convinced Americans just aren't into soccer may want to take a trip to South Africa. Our Ian Williams will report from the site of the World Cup on the big presence of "football" fans from the states.
I hope you'll join me tonight for NBC Nightly News.
There's been a dramatic breakthrough in the fight against the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to our Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell, it's the kind of advance in cancer treatment we may see only every 5 or 10 years. Bob will be on the program tonight to tell us exactly what it is, and to introduce a man who got a new lease on life because of it.
Here on day 47 of the oil crisis, BP says that funnel device they put over the leak is diverting some of the oil to surface ships, but in relative terms it's a virtual trickle. Meantime we'll share new pictures of more birds caught up in the spill.
Tonight we'll also remember legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and the three rules he insisted his players live by. They may seem old school by today's standards, but the payoff was one of the most remarkable records in college sports history.
Thanks for checking in. I hope you can tune in tonight for NBC Nightly News.
I was interviewed by a media columnist this afternoon who asked if BP had interfered with our travels or coverage in Louisiana in any way. I told him something that I should have said on the air, and will: I wish that had been the case. I wish our boat had been stopped as we hopped from island to island across open waters...I wish we'd been told that our travels were "interfering with recovery operations." No such luck. Instead, we didn't see a soul anywhere we went. There was no one working. We saw boom (much of it tangled, unmoored, twisted and un-maintained) and we saw Tyvek suits, plastic bags and rakes, but no one was working. That's what I told the columnist.
Many of the callers to WWL Radio in New Orleans today are raising the perverse notion that big pools of oil on Florida's pristine white beaches might just supply the political pressure needed to shut down the spill. The callers are angry and desperate. They have reason to be.
Tonight we'll bring a sad week of coverage to a close.
Links and information and how you can help
International Bird Rescue Research Center
The International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) lets you support the 16 members of their Oil Spill Response Team, as well as other non-profit organizations working in the region, by "donating, becoming a member or adopting a bird."
IBRRC's blog: Documenting their work with injured birds
National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with its colleagues in the Gulf states, is recruiting volunteers for an "extensive volunteer wildlife surveillance network."
Click here for more information on joining the effort.
The National Wildlife Federation is now accepting pledges via your mobile device. Text "WILDLIFE" to 20222 to donate $10 to the organization's "on-the-ground volunteer and restoration efforts."
Seabird Sanctuary has 300 volunteers on "stand-by" to assist with the Gulf Oil Spill if it impacts Florida.
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade's Oil Spill Crisis Map lets Gulf Coast residents report "sightings of fishermen out or work, endangered wildlife, oil on shore, oil sheens, health impacts and other problems." Information can be submitted in a variety of ways.
"Reports can be made and viewed at http://oilspill.labucketbrigade.org. Mobile phone users can text or call in reports to (504) 27 27 OIL. Reports can also be sent to email@example.com and through Twitter with the hashtag #BPspillmap. Eyewitness reports for the map require a description, and location information such as address, city and state, zip-code or coordinates. Citizen reporters can remain anonymous or disclose their contact information. Photos and video can be uploaded via the web."
To report injured or oiled wildlife, call 1-866-557-1401. To report spill-related damage, call 1-800,440-0858, and to inquire about volunteering, or to report oil on the shore, call 1-866-448-5816.
To submit alternative response technology, services or products: 281.366.5511
To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system: 281.366.5511
Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command
Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command is urging the public to report any breaks in the nearly 1.2 million feet of boom that have been placed throughout the Gulf of Mexico. To report an incident, call 1-866-448-5816.
In addition, the group is soliciting the public's ideas for "stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf, containing or recovering it, or
cleaning it up." Click here to submit your suggestion, or alternatively, call 281-366-5511.
Related link: BP's suggestion box is spilling over
Mobile Baykeeper is raising money in response to the oil spill in order to protect "the beauty, health, and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed."
OilSpillVolunteers.com also provides the opportunity sign up and assist with the cleanup.
Greater New Orleans Foundation
The Greater New Orleans Foundation has set up a fund to help some communities that will be affected by the oil spill.
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is looking for volunteers to "fill a variety of needs." Pre-veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and anyone with HAZWOPER training (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard) are "strongly encouraged" to register.
Have we missed any opportunities that you've noticed? Leave a comment below.
It’s always sad to leave Louisiana (Rodney Crowell sings beautifully about the same thing) and last night was no exception. After sampling the warmth of the neighbors at the house where we borrowed an overhang and a dock for our live broadcast, it was time to leave. As we left the house, I turned and saw, along the beach in Grand Isle, the most unbelievable sight: a beautiful rainbow out over the Gulf that seemed to separate the sky into good and evil. I grabbed my phone and took the photo. I sent it to a few friends last night—sent it home—and then decided to share it with you and our on-air audience tonight. I very badly wanted it to be an omen. I wanted to wake up this morning and learn that the spill had been capped. No such luck. No such skill. Even more oil is spewing out now.
We had to drive north last night, several hours, the length of the Delta and up through the bayou to New Orleans, so we could be closer to the airport for our flight to New York this morning. It was one of the most beautiful drives I've ever taken—I'm sure the sadness over the spill contributed to how striking it looked as sunset gave way to dusk and then total darkness. New Orleans seemed especially thriving and vibrant last night. Then I met my seatmate on Jet Blue, a woman from Biloxi who is so upset about the spill that she found the live television coverage in the seat back TV too upsetting to watch. She literally turned away. I understand her motives, but we can't do that—and we'll be back at the story tonight. We'll be covering this for years.
We hope you can join us tonight.
BP’s PR battle rivals the spill itself in scope: Online, the fake BP Public Relations Twitter Account continues to be a viral hit, and Facebook is now teeming with altered BP logos substituting for profile pictures, a sample of which you can see at right.
Photo by Subrata De
Brian Williams reports from the Gulf waters off the shore of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Photo by Subrata De
Helen Drury, head of a fifth-generation family of shrimpers, talks to Brian about what's at stake in Grand Isle, Louisiana in the face of the oil spill crisis.
Photo by Subrata De
Many shrimp boats have been retrofitted to serve as oil-containment vessels.
More images from the field
Photo by Subrata De
A Western Union sign thanks Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser for his outspoken leadership during the oil spill crisis.
Photo by Subrata De
Oil containment booms imported from China underscore the global significance of the oil spill in the Gulf.
Photo by Subrata De
A sign at a Sno-Ball stand in Plaquemines Parish offers "prayers, clean-up and recovery."
Photos from the road
Patrick Shay, a seafood business owner, dug grave sites "In Memory of all that is lost courtesy of BP and our Federal Government" at his fish camp in Grand Isle, Louisiana on Memorial Day. View more images of the impact of the Gulf oil spill here.