Good day from New York. I hope you are enjoying a safe and healthy weekend. Tonight on Nightly News we are taking a closer look at reports the White House may be looking to actually reduce the number of troops in Iraq beginning next year. The White House reminds us that not all the reinforcements identified as part of the troop surge have even arrived in Iraq. Still, if you listen carefully to the President's remarks from this week's news conference he may have opened the door to some kind of a troop draw down. A New York Times report today suggests such discussions are in fact underway. Our John Yang is working the story and will have more on the broadcast this evening.
Also on Nightly News, how much would you spend for a vehicle that breaks down every four-and-a-half hours? The US Marine Corps spent over 1.5 billion on a new amphibious assault vehicle that is apparently spending way too much time in the garage. Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers has the story.
So I just scanned the big Internet stories today, and they include Senator Schumer getting treated for a tick bite, Senator McCain's swipe at Senator Obama, the President getting hit by bird poop during yesterday's Rose Garden news conference, and a Brit who has set the record for going without sleep.
It must be the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
In the broadcast tonight, the Iraq war intel, last night's Senate vote, the weekend getaway (bring your wallet), immigration and more.
Also tonight we will feature an interview I conducted with Lee Iacocca this week. The Chrysler sale had us thinking of him -- you may be interested to see this icon in winter on our broadcast tonight.
Editor's note: Janet reported this story tonight as part of our continuing series on immigration, "Whose America?" Click here to watch the video.
Gabriella is like many 5-year-olds who walk to school every day. One hand clutches a furry frog backpack, the other clings tightly to her mother. But that's where the similarities seem to end. For Gabriela, a U.S. citizen, the trip to kindergarten starts in Juarez, Mexico, and ends at her elementary school in El Paso, Texas.
More than 1,000 students make a similar trek across the Santa Fe Bridge every day in a dedicated "fast lane." Some are in private school. Their parents pay tuition. Others are college students. Hundreds of others are, like Gabriella, attending public school. To do this, parents need proof they live in or are property owners in the El Paso district.
Photo caption: Two girls cross the border on the Santa Fe Bridge. Photo by NBC News.
Every weekday for 110 straight days we will feature a different living recipient of the Medal of Honor. These are the men who have received their nation's highest military honor. We are archiving all the stories here. Brian is a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The words and photos are courtesy of Artisan Books, publishers of "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty" by Peter Collier with photographs by Nick Del Calzo.
JOHN F. BAKER, JR.
Private First Class, U.S. Army Company A, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division
Private First Class John Baker had been in several small actions in Vietnam, but they were nothing like that what he saw on November 5, 1966, in Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border. Part of the 27th Infantry, his Company A had been ordered to assist another company that was pinned down by the Vietcong, whose numbers had been growing throughout the battle. By the time Company A arrived late on November 4, and set up for the night, there were 3,000 enemy soldiers in the area.
Baker's unit moved out at dawn to relieve its embattled sister company. As he entered the dense jungle, Baker couldn't see the enemy but knew they were near. Then machine-gun and mortar fire broke out from Vietcong soldiers who had tied themselves onto the limbs of trees and hidden in a concrete bunker complex in the thick undergrowth. When Baker saw the lead man in his column go down, he immediately moved up and with another soldier, charged two of the bunkers where the heaviest fire was coming from. The man with him was shot, his arm hanging by a shred of flesh. In an effort to protect him, Baker killed four enemy snipers, then dragged his mortally wounded comrade to safety.
Brian gives blog readers a tour of the construction site that will be the new global headquarters of NBC News when the dust clears later this year. Be sure to watch long enough for what Brian calls a "bubble wrap incident!"
Click here or on the image to watch.
Editor's note: Michelle took viewers inside Chimp Haven on tonight's broadcast. Click here to watch the video.
The primatologists at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., the first federally-funded refuge for chimpanzees used in government and medical research, say every single one of us has benefited from the work done with these majestic, intelligent animals. Virtually any vaccination we get has been first tried out on a chimpanzee, our closest genetic cousins.
Dr. Linda Brent, who runs the refuge, says you need only look in one of these animal's eyes for a moment, and you know that there is a sentient, sensitive creature inside. We tended to agree after two days spent watching them -- some of whom have spent 40 years in a lab -- climb and swing and hoot through the Louisiana forest. Some were part of the space program. Some remember one another, even when they are reunited after decades in different facilities. They are curious and smart. When they reach a hand out toward a human it is striking how much it looks and moves like a human hand.
Photo caption: Two residents of Chimp Haven inspect an orange. Photo by NBC News.
Back from South Carolina -- a great time spent with some great folks. I returned to New York to have my first meeting -- as a co-worker -- with a guy I've known and admired and respected for a long while: the former editor of Newsweek Magazine, Mark Whitaker. Mark is one of the biggest names in contemporary journalism, and he is our new Senior Vice President here at NBC News. Our "meeting" took the form of a walk to Bryant Park on a bustling and sparkling New York afternoon. We're all so glad Mark is among us... and I would have given anything to read his mind as he took in his first 2:30pm Nightly News editorial meeting this afternoon.
Now it can be told that while we were on the air last night, we heard a boom... a concussion of some sort. Because the pier was behind us (the site of last night's Medal of Honor gala) we thought it must be a ceremonial cannon blast of some sort. We later learned a plane had crashed no more than 8,000 yards or so from where we were broadcasting. Not just any plane: it was a Stearman biplane, WWII vintage, operated by a local pilot who used to charge for rides. It was sobering, spooky and sad as the news trickled in during the evening that it had been a double-fatal.
Every weekday for 110 straight days we will feature a different living recipient of the Medal of Honor. These are the men who have received their nation's highest military honor. Brian is a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The words and photos are courtesy of Artisan Books, publishers of "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty" by Peter Collier with photographs by Nick Del Calzo.
NICKY D. BACON
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division
The son of an Arkansas sharecropper, Nicky Bacon grew up working on farms. After serving in the Arizona National Guard, he volunteered for active duty in Vietnam in 1964. He ended his first tour in 1967, after having fought mainly in small unit engagements against the Vietcong.
Early the next year, he was sent to Hawaii to help train the 21st Infantry -- the "jungle warriors" -- of the Americal Division. That fall, Bacon, now a staff sergeant, returned with the 21st to Vietnam for his second tour. But the war had changed. Well-supplied and disciplined units of the North Vietnamese Army, filtering into the Republic of Vietnam down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, had begun to take over the brunt of the fighting from the Vietcong. The engagements were larger and far bloodier, particularly during and after the Tet Offensive early in 1968.
Editor's note: NBC's Don Teague reports tonight from Uvalde, Texas, where he and Bethany met J. Carnes and heard about the hardship on his onion farm. Update: If you missed the story, watch the video here.
It's summertime for freshman college student Jessica Ramirez and she's out making money to pay for books and school clothes. But not the way most college students are this summer. She's in a Texas onion field 60 miles north of the Mexico border picking onions alongside her mother and father. Her family is from Mexico and has crossed the border for years to work in the fields. She's been picking onions since she was 9 years old, but knows it's not a job she plans to do forever. Like her three brothers, she goes to college in hopes of making a new path.
Hi. A lot of today's stuff reflects the fact that the Left Blogosphere is livid over the Iraq war supplemental.
Greg Sargent at TPMCafe sums up the state of play for the Democrats. And John Aravosis is not happy after watching the President's news conference this morning. But Jeffrey Feldman at Frameshop argues that the Democrats are not making a mistake with the war bill.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann isn't buying it though. And neither is Kos.
Ed Morrissey, blogging at Heading Right, says the U.N. bears responsibility for the outbreak of violence in Lebanon. But RawStory picks up on Sy Hersh, who sees U.S. blowback.
Real Clear politics links to John Edwards's foreign policy speech from yesterday, in which he argues that the Global War on Terror has backfired on the U.S. -- and the White House response to Edwards's argument.