Full broadcast | September 10, 2013
>>> on our broadcast tonight, high drama after a wild 24-hours. the president speaks to the nation tonight on syria , but with the story changing so fast, what exactly is he going to say tonight. and what can he say?
>>> pushed out by more and more american employers, tonight, the dramatic shift in health care , creating a frightening unknown for millions of retirees. our nbc news investigation that has struck a chord. a secret under world , passing off adopted children when no one is watching. tonight, the parents who say they had no other choice.
>>> and what happens in the water, after diane nyad 's powerful swimming achievement at the age of 64, the critics who say she might have had some help. nightly news begins now.
>>> good evening, the president will address the nation from the white house tonight. this speech was supposed to rally support for a military strike against syria . but this story has changed so much in the past 24 hours , it is now not clear how much he can say or how much he will say, or if there will ever be a military strike against syria over their use of chemical weapons . the polls show americans think what happened in syria is awful. and the polls also show most americans do not think the u.s. should attack. so with that all as the backdrop, the president takes to the air waves tonight. we get a preview to start off from our chief white house correspondent, chuck todd , chuck good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian , ever since the president announced last friday that he would speak to the public, a lot has changed, so many twists and turns diplomatly, has a lot of people wondering what he will say tonight that will give the public clarity. nothing about the president's plans in syria has gone according to script, and today is no different. the appeal he will make tonight is very different from the one he thought he would be asking the public about just yesterday. the syrian's suggestions about turning over their weapons, the foreign minister in moscow today.
>> we believe that when we accept this proposal, this means we put an end to the war. and we would -- urge a peaceful solution.
>> reporter: the president will condemn the assad regime's chemical weapon attacks, specifically addressing the dead children, but it will no longer be a call to arms . the president brought his message to capitol hill today, explaining to senators that he still needs congressional approval, although he is willing to wait for the diplomacy to play out. but secretary of state john kerry also lobbying on the hill told a house committee today that the u.s. will not allow diplomacy to become a smoke screen.
>> it has to be swift. it has to be real. it has to be verifiable. it cannot be a delay tactic.
>> reporter: the administration believes that the president's play is what brought syria around. senators are now drafting a new resolution to combine the diplomatic approach with a new but delayed threat of meanwhile action if syria fails to deliver. but a war-weary america needs convincing, in a poll taken today, only a third said the president had made his case on the strike. it is a question he was asked by savannah guthrie .
>> somebody asked michelle, do we want to be involved in another war? the answer is no.
>> reporter: this speech was to be before the big conventional vote. well, guess what, brian ? all votes have been delayed on syrian action.
>> okay, chuck todd starting us off tonight on the action. and let's bring in our other members of the team covering this at home, andrea mitchell , david gregory , andrea starting with you. on the diplomacy of this, considering that everybody was so anxious for a way out. everyone pounced on this idea of a world community having some say over the chemical weapons in syria , where does that stand?
>> reporter: well, first of all, secretary kerry is now going to go back to europe on thursday to meet with his russian counterpart to find out just how real is this? are they really serious to try to hammer out the details? we learned today that the syrians said they will finally join the chemical weapons treaty . that remains to be seen. how serious is that? and we've also learned today there is a lot more to this. vladimir putin is saying it will only work if the threat of war is taken off the table. but as you just heard, the president says the threat has to remain on the table. so there is a lot of confusion until to be determined.
>> and let'sngel, how is this being viewed in that part of the world ?
>> reporter: well, very badly, brian , syrian rebels tell us they believe that assad has gotten away with killing hundreds of syrians with chemical weapons without so much as a slap on the wrist, gotten away with a promise to hand over his chemical weapons , a promise which is effectively unverifiable. in the early days of the war, the intelligence was the syrian regime had about a thousand tons of chemical weapons , the sarin gas , and that they were held in five separate locations, but since then they were moved out to front locations. and right now, the syrian body alone knows where they are, let alone getting the inspectors into the country to actually look for the weapons during the active war.
>> now to david gregory , moderator, "meet the press." now, david what has the president gotten himself into?
>> reporter: a real mess, bad organization, bad strategy for what the u.s. wants to do in the world . he has got to use that tonight to try to spell it out to the world at a time where he is also buying some time. the diplomacy could work, and maybe the goal of deterring and degrading the use of chemical weapons could be achieved with the proposal, and maybe it won't work. but he has to address this to the congress, he has a lot of work to do.
>> all right, thank you all. one last reminder, the president's address to the nation, 9:00 eastern, 6 pacific, and the nbc web will conduct a virtual town hall during the president's address.
>>> to other news and once again, we're watching a gathering storm in the eastern atlantic. tropical storm humberto , now expected to be a hurricane at some point tonight or tomorrow. making it the first hurricane of the season. it is still early but at this point, forecasters do not expect it to pose a threat to the u.s. there is also tropical storm gabrielle about to move over ber mri uda, it is expected to dissipate. if hurricane humberto does not become a hurricane, we would set a record without a hurricane storm reaching official status .
>>> and in california tonight, a mixed bag of news on the wildfire front. near san francisco , firefighters got some help from the weather today. they're not making significant progress, thanks to cooling winds. containing a fire that could be seen from the heart of the city and has affected the air quality across a wide area. but to the north near redding, california, a new fire has now burned dozens of homes. and it is threatening tonight 300 more of them. we learned today that a dangerous devastating and paralyzing trend in the u.s. economy . the wealth gap is getting worse. a new analysis shows the richest americans , the top 1%, made nearly 20% of all the available income in america last year. that is the widest income gap since the roaring 20s . economists say the threshold for qualifying as a member of the top 1% is now a gross income of $394,000 or more. of course, for generations in this country, it used to be americans worked hard all their lives and could count on pensions and health care . but now, a growing number of americans are in for a shock from many companies, told they will have to buy their own insurance. and many people are now adjusting to this new normal. our report tonight from nbc 's tom costello.
>> reporter: the juke box sitting in jack cohen 's living room is filled with his favorites. memories going back 50 years.
>> the earliest days when i joined ibm and -- all of these songs in here were so popular.
>> reporter: 31 years at ibm , retiring with health benefits , but last week, ibm notified its retirees that it will out-source its retiree medical benefits coverage.
>> that was a surprise, it really bothered us.
>> reporter: the problem? kate cohen is suffering from stage 4 breast cancer that has spread to her bones, lungs and brain. and her current doctors are not in the new plan.
>> earth-shattering. i mean, beyond earth-shattering, to go out and have to find doctors and take all of my medical records of which there are many.
>> reporter: in a youtube message to retirees, ibm 's chief health director said the company had to act.
>> we projected health care costs in the current ibm plan will triple in the next few years.
>> reporter: ibm is the latest big company acting to contain skyrocketing medical costs for retirees, in 1993 , federal employees were offered insurance. by 2011 , that had dropped to just 16%. now, ibm is turning its health care coverage for 110,000 retirees over to a private medicare exchange in which insurers compete for the retiree's business.
>> they get more choice and better buying power using a medicare exchange.
>> reporter: by 2014 it is predicted millions of americans could be on similar plans, choosing their options.
>> most of us who are younger than 50 will probably not see companies paying for our retiree benefits.
>> reporter: but for jack and kate cohen.
>> it is terminal, but you know it is not going to stop me. i'm just going to keep moving forward.
>> reporter: push the reset button is not so easy. tom costello, nbc news, tacoma park, maryland.
>>> still ahead for us here tonight. the fallout from our special nbc news investigation into the hidden network, handing off adopted children with no one there to protect them.
>>> and later the woman who made history on the high seas , inspiring millions, now forced to defend herself against those who are raising doubts about how she did it.
>>> we have more tonight on a topic that received a lot of attention after our initial report aired here last night about a disturbing practice involving adopted children, mostly from overseas, whose parent parents say they can't care for them. some of these parents look on the web for new homes for their kids with strangers. tonight, we continue our report with reuters and kate snow , in a seldom seen world where nobody is watching out for the kids.
>> reporter: gary and lisa barnes adopted anna , it was harder than they expected.
>> i was a handful, to say the least, i was.
>> reporter: anna had already been through two american homes after leaving a russian orphanage, she had been diagnosed with psychological problems.
>> i was the kind of person who thought you could fix things.
>> reporter: they made a controversial choice to find her new parents to deal with her behavior.
>> but if she is your biological daughter you have to deal with it somehow.
>> it is different, i have a biological child, and i have anna , and they are different.
>> reporter: they didn't want to call texas authorities because they were afraid they might be deemed unfit parents, unable to adopt again. and forced to pay child support . so they turned to an underground internet forum offering anna to strangers. it is called rehoming. a woman named nicole eason reached out and said she could provide anna what she needs, mentally. you're a god send , lisa wrote back.
>> she pulled up the picture of the easons, and said this is basically your new family, who you will go to.
>> reporter: the obvious from the outside looking in question is, why did you let her go?
>> police we were desperate.
>> all of our avenues and all of our continual trying was exhausted.
>> reporter: nicole eason had a troubling history. reuters reporter found she jumped from state to state, taking in four internationally adopted children and two american kids. in may, she told reuters it is easy and fast.
>> weeks, couple of hours, couple of days.
>> reporter: according to police records and court filings, nicole eason lost custody of her two biological children due to abuse and neglect. not knowing any of that history, the barnes signed over temporary guardianship to eason at a restaurant in texas . they were free to take her to this trailer in illinois.
>> the first night i have to sleep with the woman in the same bed with her. and that was weird. that was -- and she was not clothed.
>> reporter: the barnes were e-mailing with anna and realized their mistake. within a week, gary brought anna back to texas .
>> i told you --
>> reporter: we found nicole eason three weeks ago at a motel in tucson, she said she never slept naked, and despite allegations her biological children were removed she denied that. did you ever hurt any children?
>> oh, no.
>> reporter: did you ever lie to any parents who were rehoming to you?
>> reporter: anna is 18 now, and living near the barnes again. they're trying to mend her relationship.
>> being passed around so many times.
>> reporter: if people judge you now if they hear you made this choice, what would you say?
>> walk a mile in my shoes.
>> reporter: the barnes say they notified texas authorities about the reasons, they themselves were never investigated regarding anna . they have never been stopped taking in more kids. reuters tried to talk to a government official to hold somebody accountable. but the sad truth is no one agency has no authority over this issue. and brian , too often, children are simply falling through the cracks .
>> we're happy to shed light on this, in many times for the first time. kate snow .
>>> and we'll be right back with the big reveal that may explain why a lot of people were distracted for a time today.
>>> the new apple iphones were unveiled today, and in the blistering pace of of the phone business where your new device can become outdated so fast, nothing new, but the iphone c, they hope will be a big hit , particularly in the chinese market, the 5 s starts at 599, much faster than the current version, there is a new print to mark your phone. apple says it is struggling in the post-job era.
>>> and the associated press says that 89 people have reported getting sick with cramps and sickness after eating mold-contaminated yogurt, the company says it has all been pulled from the shelves, most of the inventory destroyed.
>>> today, the congressional gold medal was awarded to the four girls who had been killed in the bombing in the 16th street baptist church in birmingham, alabama, back in 1963 , just 15 days after the march on washington . it was forever remembered as a grim turning point in the civil rights struggle.
>>> on friday night it was the east coast that got a spectacular sky show as a space craft launched en route to the moon and was visible to millions. sure could see it from our house. last night, it was georgia and alabama's turn. a fireball lit up the skies, they say it was a small by potent meteor. while it was probably only the size of a baseball, it came in at a low altitude at 73,000 miles an hour.
>>> and the united nations world happiness report is out. they report the world is a happier place than it was last year, only by a fraction. the happiest nations are all in the same general region, denmark, norway, switzerland, the netherlands and sweden. the u.s., these days, ranked 17th in happiness, slightly happier than ireland, the unhappiest place on earth is togo, in africa.
>>> when we come back, the questions being asked about diane nyad 's big swim, is it just water under the bridge, however, at this point?
>>> finally tonight, it was a towering achievement, and it was cheered around the world when 64-year-old diana nyad came out of the water after that epic swim from cuba to key west , florida, her inspiring message to the world was never give up. but as the celebration has died down, some questions have come around about whether or not her herculean effort received a boost of any kind over 110 miles of open water . tonight, diana nyad is confronting the sceptics. nbc 's mark potter has our report.
>> reporter: when 64-year-old diana nyad waded onto the beach at key west last week after completing the 110-record breaking swim from cuba, she faces sceptics who wonder how she actually made the trip in just 53 hours. on her first day in the water, they say nyad swam at a pace at about a mile and a half per hour. but on the second day she sped up dramatically, raising suspicions she might have clung to or even gotten aboard one of the boats accompanying her.
>> she went a six mile stretch, that is faster than the gold medal olympics.
>> reporter: but her navigator insists she never grabbed onto a boat, much less boarded one.
>> diana did not cheat in any way, shape or form, and diana is the type of person who would never cheat at anything.
>> reporter: on the day diana arrived in key west , he explained she had help with the currents. an independent oceanographer agrees, saying that the data showed that during nyad 's swim, the currents spun counter clock-wise, pushing her at a fast three to five miles an hour pace.
>> she hit the jackpot getting in that current at the right time and place and it took her right into key west .
>> reporter: tonight, nyad and her team are presenting data to three swimming organizations, hoping the science behind her achievement will finally silence the sceptics. mark potter , nbc news, miami.
>> and that is our broadcast on a tuesday night, thank you for joining us, a final reminder, we're back on the air 9 eastern time with the president's address to the nation. until then, i'm brian williams , we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.