tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 7, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast here tonight, elizabeth edwards has lost her six-year battle. breast cancer. tonight we have a look back at a woman who became a political and inspirational force. damage control, the president summoned some passion to defend a deal he made and he fires a warning shot at both political parties. under arrest and behind bars. tonight, what's next for the mysterious wikileaks founder, julian assange. and making a difference, three cousins bringing their gifts to other kids and hoping to change lives one note at a time. "nightly news" begins
now. now captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. elizabeth edwards has died at the age of good evening. elizabeth edwards has died at the age of 61. she had more than her share of suffering in her lifetime. she buried a child. she bravely fought breast cancer. and she had to live through her husband's spectacularly public infidelity. all along as recently as last night, she tried to emphasize the positive, emphasize others who admired her as a lifeforce, and as a formidable figure in american politics and in life these past several years. in the end she was surrounded by her family at her home in north carolina. >> i'm elizabeth edwards -- >> she became a role model for thousands of women. >> it's actually good to feel like you can be an inspiration to people. i want to be part of the sisterhood. >> a sisterhood united by her very public battle with cancer.
when years earlier the couple had already buried their son, wade, who died in a car accident. >> today the surprise announcement that elizabeth edwards, wife of the vice-presidential democratic nominee, john edwards has been diagnosed with breast cancer. >> elizabeth edwards was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer the day of the 2004 election. the day the kerry-edwards team conceded. she had discovered a lump in her breast while on the campaign trail but kept it a secret for fear it would affect the race. >> i can see it in my mind exactly where i stood. the hotel room and i see the union hall where i went afterwards. >> when breast cancer came along, were you thinking -- you you you're not going to hurt me. i've been through the greatest challenge anyone can face? >> i had did think that. it kept it in perspective but on the other hand, it can kill you.
so you need to sort of give it its due and say, i'm going to fight with everything that i know how to because this is serious. and i'm less afraid of death since wade died for myself. but i have young children. and i'm just as afraid of it as i was before for them. >> wade edwards was 16 when he died. he was a constant presence in her life. >> the first thing that comes to mind is if i have a picture of him in my head. i have a picture of his freckles. this was a righteous boy. >> elizabeth edwards was born 61 years ago, the daughter of a decorated navy pilot who spent part of her childhood in japan. she met her husband, john edwards, while a law student at university of north carolina. >> i married him because he was the single-most optimistic person that i have ever known. >> they had four children, kate, wade and then later, emma claire and jack.
her husband stayed by her side as her emergence as a public figure in her own right as author and advocate for universal health care. >> this issue doesn't know political boundaries it knows moral boundaries. >> but the cancer came back, this time during her husband's bid for president. but elizabeth edwards decided to live with cancer and not give in. >> we'll always look for the silver lining. it's who we are as people. >> and then this. the public humiliation and private agony of learning her husband of 30 plus years, had not only had an affair, but that he had fathered a child outside of their marriage during the campaign. still, elizabeth edwards stood by john edwards until recently. she says -- for her children. >> finally, i realized that we'd come so far down this road that i wasn't go to ever find a place where, i hate to talk about myself in the third person, but where elizabeth existed anymore.
i was going to be entirely reactive and i wanted to be present in the remainder of my life. >> in her political life, as a powerful spouse, she was a formidable presence in her husband's campaign. and when she got tough, she was often criticized for it. as late as yesterday, elizabeth edwards always maintained that she was grateful. a lasting legacy that, despite all of the adversity, private and public pain, she left this life happy and grateful for what she could do. and for the precious time she was able to have with her friends and most important, her children. we are told john edwards was with elizabeth and their children when she passed away late today. and we have more coverage of the life of elizabeth edwards. it is on our website this evening. that's nightly.msnbc.com
we turn to the rest of the news of the day. this one from washington. president obama called a news conference on short notice this afternoon and he went before cameras in the west wing briefing room and a deal he made to support a tax cut for the richest americans that dates back to the bush presidency. it hadn't been sitting well with some of his supporters on the left. he made it clear today in washington you've often got to give to get. and he said that's the way he intends to govern. the president was energized when forced to defend the deal he'd done. >> this is a big diverse country. not everyone agrees with us. i know that shocks people. "the new york times" editorial page does not permeate across all of america. neither does the "wall street journal" editorial page. most americans are just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us?
if this was just a matter of my politics, or being able to persuade the american people to my side, then i would just stick to my guns. because the fact of the matter is, the american people already agree with me. on the republican side, this is their holy grail. these tax cuts for the wealthy. this is -- seems to be their central economic doctrine. i've said before, i felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. i think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers. unless the hostage gets harmed. then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. in this case, the hostage was the american people and i was not willing to see them get harmed. i am happy to be tested over the next several months about our ability to negotiate with the
republicans. so this notion that somehow, you know, we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate we had during health care. this is the public option debate all over again. even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise. this country was founded on compromise. i couldn't go through the front door of this country's founding and if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn't have a union. so my job is to make sure that we have a north star out there. what is helping the american people live out their lives.
and so, then my question is, does it make sense for me to attack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way because i'm keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight? not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am i going over the long term? >> that was what the president was like today in the white house briefing room there in the west wing. perhaps you saw there about ten feet in front of him our chief white house correspondent, chuck todd, who was among the questioners in the room. chuck, on behalf of all those watching trying to understand this tenor, tone, substance, what's going on here? >> reporter: as you know over the past couple of days a lot of democrats have said -- hey, the president is lacking some fight. why won't he take the fight at the republicans? he sort of received the message and he took the fight but he took it to democrats who have been grouchy about this. the bottom line is this. he doesn't yet have the support among the lame duck congress, the outgoing democratic majority
in particular, in the house, doesn't have the support for this tax-cut compromise. so he needed to go out here and sell it hard and in many ways, frankly, guilt the left into supporting him for this deal. it's unclear whether this is going to do it. you hear a lot of grumbling among the opinion left about this. but, brian, i'll tell you this. this is also a preview of what you're going to see of the president going forward dealing with a republican house. he's what some back to the campaign, a radical pragmatist. not necessarily a centrist, but a pragmatist. that's what you saw today and it sounds like you'll see more of this from the president when negotiating with a split majority come january 5st, brian. >> chuck todd who was among the questions there today in the briefing room. going overseas, a new day and a new development in wikileaks investigation. tonight a big one. often-mysterious founder of wikileaks has given up his life on the run and surrendered to british authorities and tonight, he is behind bars. not because of these leaks, but
because of allegations of sexual misconduct. our own peter alexander is outside wandsworth prison in london for us tonight. peter, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening to you. this is the biggest prison in all of britain and tonight, inside julian assange is being kept separate from the other inmates. for months the focus here has been on a wave of leaked documents. but today all eyes centered on a legal fight that the prosecutors say is not related to wikileaks. a crush of cameras chased julian assange as the police took him into a london courthouse. this is the first image of assange in public in more than a month. inside the courtroom, witnesses say he appeared subdued, isolated in a glassed-in defendant's box without handcuffs. >> i thought of this. he was caught in a snare. perhaps he was reckoning the price that he may now have to pay for all that wikileaks has done. >> reporter: during a nearly
hour-long hearing assange said he would fight extradition to sweden for allegations of sexual misconduct. prosecutors say he refused to give british police a dna sample or fingerprints and in court, asked his address, he gave a po box in australia, before the judge called him a flight risk and denied bail. >> this is going to go viral. many people will come forward to stand as sureities for mr. is sang. mr. assange. >> reporter: swedish authorities want to question assange about claims by two women who met him in stockholm for a wikileaks' seminar in august, claiming that sex with assange was ultimately not consensual and unprotected. allegations assange denies. >> the european arrest warrant works and that doesn't dependent on who the person is, but what sort of crime a person is discussed to have been done. >> reporter: wikileaks is not
backing down declaring on twitter that their editor and chief's arrest won't affect our operations and we'll release more cables tonight as normal. but the group refrained from releasing a huge cache of documents that assange said would be exposed if he was arrested or harmed. while he said little in court assange differed his own defense through an op-ed piece headlining "don't shoot the messenger for revealing uncourtsable truths." the highly charged circumstances around his arrest on full display when an armored police van with assange inside left the courthouse for prison. assange is due back in court for another hearing next tuesday. his lawyer says he will fight vigorously to have bail set for his release and tonight, legal experts tell nbc news the extradition process could take several months. >> unbelievable scene there in london. all of it. peter alexander on the story. thanks. when we continue here in just a moment, what we learned today about education in america and why some are comparing it to a scare our nation received from
the soviets decades ago. and later, making some beautiful music and making a difference in ways that are too many to measure. so frustrating. the middle of this special moment and i need to run off to the bathroom. i'm fed up with always having to put my bladder's needs ahead of my daughter. so today i'm finally talking to my doctor about overactive bladder. [ female announcer ] if you're suffering, today is the day to talk to your doctor and ask about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces sudden urges and accidents all day and all night. plus, toviaz comes with a simple plan with tips on food and drink choices. if you have certain stomach problems or glaucoma or cannot empty your bladder, you should not take toviaz. toviaz can cause blurred vision and drowsiness, so use caution when driving or doing unsafe tasks. the most common side effects are dry mouth and constipation. [ jackie ] i asked my doctor about toviaz.
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now to the news today on our schools. part of o now to the news today on our schools. part of our continuing coverage of "education nation." every three years, 15 year olds all over the planet take a standardized test that has become a respected benchmark measure of student achievement. well, students in shanghai in china took the test for the first time and the results they got are raising new questions about the schools in this country. our report tonight from our education correspondent rahema ellis. >> we'll start now with -- >> reporter: for american students, the writing is on the wall and it's not good. the latest results from pisa, the international test of 15 year olds in 65 countries, shows among the 34 top-developed nations american kids are average.
the u.s. scored 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. slightly higher than the last time the test were given. but the really stunning news comes from china, and the province of shanghai, where students scored better than anyone else in the world after taking the test for the first time. overall, of the top six performers, asia dominates. >> two generations ago you knew if a nation was rich it was well educated but today that doesn't work. >> reporter: how is asia getting better results? longer school days, better educated teachers and a culture that values education. the obama administration has put billions of dollars to ward education reform but these test results, officials say, are yet another wake-up call. >> other countries are investing more. they are investing smarter and putting more resources behind the children in the community that need the most help and they are outeducating us today. that's the brutal truth. >> reporter: education analysts
stress the scores are not just a measure of learning by rote. instead, the pisa tests imagination, creativity and thinking outside the box and experts say it could take less than a decade for shanghai's success to be replicated across china. >> the rest of the world had better be aware that china in the future is not just going to be producing cheap plastic toys. they are going to be outcompeting us in everything that requires brain power. >> and one analyst says china's results on these tests could be likened to the russians launching sputnik in 1957. that was a wake-up call to the united states and a call to action. >> i'm tempted to ask how many wake-up calls we need but we'll leave that for your next visit. scary story but a good story tonight, thank you. when we come back, we get it. it's supposed to snow in december. but tonight, some folks are already saying -- okay, this is ridiculous!
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this is just this is just one of the sadder sights you're going to see during this holiday season, in part because the good people of richmond, virginia, were so excited to see the highlight of this year's christmas parade the rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, but there was one problem. despite all the handlers and all their mighting with a stoplight. the crowd was rooting for rudolph to make it but the damage was too great to our deflated hero. he was quietly carted off. santa needs him, of course. he'll be patched up good as new for next year's outing. if you were with us here last night you saw the story about what they call lake effect snow and how this has been a banner year for it already. tonight, the small town of randolph, new york, outside of buffalo, has set a new bar for an early-december lake effect snow. they have four feet of it! in florida, they are bracing for another cold night after temperatures broke all kinds of record there is this morning. farmers are struggling to save crops. but we don't know yet how much damage has been done. across this country today,
americans marked the 69th anniversary of the japanese attack on pearl harbor. 120 survivors were among those who gathered at pearl harbor today where japanese aircraft attacked the u.s. navy base before 8:00 a.m. hawaii time on december 7th, 1941, killing more than 2400 americans, sinking five battleships, jolting our country to its core, and, of course, drawing the u.s. into world war ii. here in new york, veterans gathered aboard the "uss intrepid" and tossed a wreath into the cold, hudson river. up next, three talented young women making a difference for a new generation. and wait until you hear them. new generation. and wait until you hear them. t'. a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult.
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report tonight. >> reporter: meet the sugar strings, sounding as sweet as their name implied. 13, violin. 12, viola. and the 18-year-old, cello. they are playing a free concert at a local library, for many kids, a rare event. >> they were really good. >> reporter: according to a recent government report, fewer than half the nation's public school children receive a credible music education. >> music is important for brain development. social development. it makes them happy. it makes the families more peaceful. >> reporter: so the three cousins make a point of performing for children. >> you don't see our african-american playing the cello these days. >> the williams' cousins have been together for six years rehearsing between music lessons, concerts and, of course, homework. at this day on chicago's overton elementary school, a surprise, a
classical medley of michael jackson tunes. and words simply can't describe the reaction. you were really enjoying yourself during that? >> yes, i was. i think they were really good. it was really catchy. >> i never saw nobody play one of those. only on tv when they jam. >> i don't think i can pick that up. >> but, of course, that's what the sugar strings want these kids to do. pick up an instrument. >> i think it was absolutely fabulous. it allows the students to say -- all things are possible. >> the music was very soothing. >> one of the students said your music was very soothing. >> reporter: three young musicians transforming the way children appreciate classical music, one beautiful note at a time. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. and that's our broadcast on this tuesday night.
thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening and we'll leave you with what it looks like at the white house on this winter night. the flag at half staff to commemorate this pearl harbor day. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com a rare look inside a quiet center. the scene of a terrifying attack. tonight only on nbc bay area news we go behind close doors. doors some say are protecting pedophiles. >> it's a crime story with a back