tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 11, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
it alyzes your facebook activity and measures your rating on a big green and red scale. friends can check it out and decide whether you deserve a present this year. >> they should know that because they know you. "nbc nightew madoff's suicide. what drove bernie madoff's son to take his own life two years after turning his father in. saying good-bye to elizabeth edwards. friends and family remember. >> she was always a source of strength, a source of wisdom, a source of grace. snowed in. a fierce blast of winter and where it's headed next. and child's play. are parents pushing their kids into sports too hard and too soon? captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. another stunning and dark chapter to the bernie madoff saga was written today when the oldest son of the disgraced financier who first alerted police to his father's multibillion dollar ponzi scheme committed suicide. the body of mark madoff was found in his new york city apartment this morning exactly two years after his father was arrested in a massive swindle, one that upended the live of thousands of investors and costing them tens of billions of dollars. cnbc's scott cohn has been covering this story. he joins us tonight here in new york. >> reporter: mark madoff always denied any knowledge of his father's scheme but the clouds of rumor and innuendo kept growing and early this morning they burst. sources say 46-year-old mark madoff was increasingly distraught as the two-year
anniversary of the scandal approached. early saturday morning, his father-in-law found madoff hanged with a dog leash in his new york city apartment. madoff's 2-year-old son sleeping in the next room. >> mark madoff was found hanging from a pipe in the living room of the apartment. >> reporter: madoff and his younger brother andrew turned their father in to authorities after he confessed, but the sons were never able to escape suspicion that they too were in on the scam, which they denied. a year ago the bankruptcy trustee in the case sued, demanding mark madoff return some $66 million in illegal payments to the victims saying madoff knew, should have known or deliberately disregarded the fraud. then just days ago the trustee filed another suit naming madoff's wife, ex-wife and their two children. while mark madoff was never charged with criminal wrongdoing, speculation continued to grow. including a "wall street journal" article posted online friday night.
overnight madoff began sending e-mails to his wife who was vacationing with their 4-year-old daughter in florida saying he loved her and asking her to take care of the children. the last e-mail came around 4:00 a.m. ronnie sue ambricino, who along with her husband lost $1.7 million in the madoff fraud says she's sad. >> when everything you've worked for is taken away just like that, it's very -- on top of the financial loss, it's really frustrating to not know who, how, why, how long, and in two years, victims haven't heard of those answers. >> reporter: the death comes on the final day to file claims in the case. >> he's facing pressures on all sides, on the civil arena and the criminal side. and obviously it's not easy having the last name madoff. >> reporter: ruth madoff reportedly living in florida is
said to be heartbroken over her son's death. bernard madoff, serving a 150-year sentence in north carolina was notified of the death saturday morning. his attorney would not say whether madoff would seek to attend his son's funeral. mark madoff's attorney called his client an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime. and in fact mark madoff is the third suicide linked to the scandal. a new york investment advisor who lost millions of his clients' money and a british soldier who lost all of these savings, both took their own lives. lester. >> scott cohn here in new york tonight, thanks. this was a day of remembrance in raleigh, north carolina, for elizabeth edwards who died this week of breast cancer. much of her public life over the years was framed by the career of her husband john edwards, a former senator and presidential candidate. but it was how elizabeth edwards publicly navigated a series of personal challenges that in the end allowed her to define her legacy on her own terms.
nbc's michelle kosinski reports. >> reporter: peaceful was the overwhelming feeling here, in the same place where elizabeth edwards herself came for comfort after losing her teenage son wade in a car accident years ago. now her husband, former senator john edwards comforted their children, emma claire, jack and cate, who is an attorney like her parents. she spoke for the family. >> when she could barely speak anymore, my dad and i sat at her bedside and held each of her hands. and she just kept looking at each of us back and forth saying, "i'm okay, i'm okay." she was way more worried about us than we were about her. >> reporter: the death of a child, cancer, her husband's infidelity. >> a pro at staying true. and looking on the bright side. >> reporter: in attendance, senator john kerry who chose john edwards as his running mate in the 2004 presidential election. long-time friend glen bergenfield who knew elizabeth
and john back in law school remembered her humor and fierce competitive streak that at times drew criticism and that she fully acknowledged. >> elizabeth said, i don't want to debate laura bush, but i would love to take a piece out of lynne cheney. >> reporter: he also spoke of his family's future. >> jack and emma have their dad and i can tell you from very close they adore and love and trust him, just as cate does and wade did. he is a loving and very attentive dad and despite his grief over elizabeth's death, he is strong and will take great care of these kids. >> reporter: cate read a letter that elizabeth had left for them. >> for all i have said about life, i want you to know that all i ever really needed was you, wherever i am, wherever you are, i have my arms wrapped around you. >> reporter: and in turn, she spoke to her mother. >> emma, jack and i ended every conversation with our mom saying, "i love you more." and she always responded, "no, i love you more."
and as you can imagine, none of us ever won that battle. but today i have the honor of being the last to say, mom, i really, really love you more. >> reporter: some here were surprised to learn that elizabeth always a careful organizer had been actively planning for her children's futures without her, but planned none of her own funeral. today she was buried next to her son, wade. left officer. >> michelle kosinski in raleigh for us tonight, thank you. we want to turn now to the storm that has blanketed parts of the nation's midsection with heavy snow today, snarling traffic on the ground and in the air. on its heels, frigid air that will put a lot of us on ice before the week is out. here's nbc's michelle franzen. >> reporter: whiteouts and wipeouts as a wintry blast barrelled across the upper midwest and plains this weekend. in minneapolis, many snowbound drivers ended up spinning their wheels. for the twin cities, it is the
snowiest december day on record. nearly 14 inches and still counting. early on, transportation officials urged residents to stay home, and many stocked up on food and supplies before getting snowed in. >> i don't think we're going to leave the house. >> reporter: blowing snow closed airports and slowed the new york giants travel plans to the twin cities for sunday's game against the vikings. giants spokesman pat hanlin posted a photo on twitter showing players stuck in kansas city for the night. this major storm is expected to leave its mark as it moves east. >> this storm is basically going to be moving its way from the midwest all the way through the great lakes and eventually into the northeast. wide ranging impacts from snow to rain. >> reporter: it is the latest sign winter is here in a big way. near hagerstown, maryland on friday, snowy conditions triggered a multivehicle crash on i-70 injuring seven including children. and in the pacific northwest, a massive snowstorm in washington state closed parts of i-90 as
snowplows tried to keep up. and it seems mother nature is just getting started. another system is moving in on the west coast. and in the midwest and northeast, residents are bracing for bitter cold conditions in the coming days. michelle franzen, nbc news, new york. >> the weather channel's scott williams has been watching the snow pile up in minneapolis. he joins us there. he's telling us what's following all of this. scott, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. certainly i can tell you firsthand that conditions are deteriorating rapidly here in the twin cities and in the midwest. the snow is blowing and drifting and visibilities have been reduced. this is a potent storm system packing a triple threat, looking at the heavy snow, the bitter cold and the wind, feels like temperatures will be well below zero as we move in thie evening and during the latter part of the weeken t the radar shows this potent ekstm system -- snow, wind, rain, even a threat for
tornadoes in the deep south. it will move into the great lakes tomorrow and along the east coast as we move into the day sunday, bringing heavy rain, that rain will ultimately change over to some snowfall for several of the major cities as we move into monday. and also, looking for another arctic blast as really, lester, you know, winter doesn't officially begin for another ten days, but we are already feeling mother nature's punch. back to you. >> scott williams in minneapolis. thanks. american diplomat richard holbrooke is in critical condition in a washington hospital tonight after surgery to repair a torn aorta that lasted more than 20 hours. holbrooke is the president's special envoy for afghanistan and pakistan, and he brokered the 1995 dayton accords that ended the war in bosnia. holbrooke fell ill at the state department yesterday. with the clock ticking for a lame duck congress, president obama's plan to extend bush era tax cuts to high earners has run
into strong opposition from his own party, so he's looking for a little help with a hard sell. nbc's norah o'donnell is at the white house with that. >> reporter: president obama argued the tax cut deal that he negotiated with republicans is a good deal for the american people. but the president faces an uphill battle, and that's why he's calling in the reinforcements. that's why bill clinton was here at the white house yesterday in a very unusual visit. >> so i'm going to take off. >> reporter: it was a big surprise at the white house. >> you're in good hands. >> reporter: bill clinton taking a handoff from president obama to help sell his controversial tax cut deal. >> the agreement taken as a whole is, i believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach. >> reporter: the fact that mr. obama turned to the popular former president shows just how fragile this deal is. clinton friday lectured some reluctant democrats who feel
president obama has abandoned his campaign promise to end tax cuts for the rich. >> look, if we had 5% growth and unemployment was dropping like a rock, maybe you could have this so-called mexican standoff. >> i'm sure it didn't take the current president long to swallow whatever objections he might have to giving the stage to bill clinton because this president needs that president right now. >> reporter: today mr. obama in his weekly web address acknowledged members of his own party are uncomfortable with the plan. >> but at the same time, we can't allow the middle class in this country to be caught in the political crossfire of washington. >> it doesn't make sense. >> reporter: but some aren't just uncomfortable, they are downright angry. >> the agreement that they reached is a bad deal. >> reporter: independent senator bernie sanders spent over eight hours blasting the deal. >> i do not want to see my kids and grandchildren pay more in taxes because we borrowed money from china to increase the national debt.
>> reporter: intended to boost the economy the final package would cost $801 billion for tax cuts. plus $57 billion for a total of $858 billion. the giant price tag is one more reason mr. obama may soon tackle an overhaul of the tax code. and the president told npr that could start next year. >> i think we could get broad bipartisan agreement it needs to be done but it's going to require a lot of hard work to actually make it happen. >> reporter: the president could use his state of the union address or his budget next year to make the case that we need to overhaul the tax cut -- tax code rather. i think it's worth noting, lester, that the deficit commission report calls for raising tax collection by $1 trillion, in large part by eliminating or reducing many of
those loopholes that are in the tax code. >> norah. thank you. the tax deal a topic on "meet the press." austan goolsbee. when "nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, they are in the game. but are very young children being exposed to sports too soon? celebrating a wonderful life. why a museum dedicated to jimmy stewart needs a miracle of its own. st
we're back with a story sure to have a lot of parents asking how soon is too soon when it comes to giving children an added edge. we all heard of the early reading and music courses. now the focus is on the playing field. getting toddlers trained sometimes even before they're out of diapers. northbound's rehema ellis has our story. >> reporter: this looks like a typical mommy and me class with kids who are barely walking, but already they're goal oriented. >> he learns definitely specific soccer skills. >> reporter: from soccer to gymnastics. tee ball, even ice skating more and more toddlers are getting an early edge in sports instruction, as early as 18 months. >> my man. >> reporter: parents are
convinced it's good for their child's development and no age is too young to start. >> the earlier you start anything, whether it's sports, music, art, anything, the earlier you start, the better the foundation is. >> reporter: for all the excitement around introducing sports to toddlers, there's also concern that so much instruction at such an early age could backfire. >> toddlers at this stage need to be encouraged in their creativity, their imagination, and the problem with this early instruction is it just smothers that creativity and curiosity. >> reporter: but it's already turning into a business. places like super soccer stars which opened with just two dozen kids in new york, has grown to 2,000 kids in seven different cities. there are also dvds popping up. some geared to children as young as 3 months old. >> if we start them at preschool and we're teaching them how to spell and to count, why not
start them now at learning how to win, how to lose? >> reporter: 2-year-old solei has been taking gymnastics for the past two months. >> she can actually do a handstand without her head touching the floor. >> reporter: while some parents would love it if this turned into a career. >> his daddy would really love for him to be a big football player like he was. >> reporter: many others say they just hope their kids develop enough skills to enjoy the game. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. when we come back here tonight, pleading for her freedom. convicted murder amanda knox takes the stand in an italian court.
another blast occurred about 200 yards away in a busy shopping area, in the center of stockholm. a swedish news agency says it received a warning threatening retaliation for sweden's role in the afghan war. emotions were high in an italian courtroom today as foreign exchange student amanda knox tearfully told the court she did not murder her roommate more than three years ago. knox is appealing her conviction and 26-year sentence. nbc's keith miller now with more from the italian city of perugia. >> reporter: amanda knox entered court today appearing pale and withdrawn. three years in prison, she says, have broken her. in an unexpected plea to the court, knox delivered a tear-filled declaration of innocence. speaking fluent italian, knox said she is the innocent victim of an enormous mistake. knox and her former boyfriend, raffaele sollecito were convicted of the murder and
violent sexual assault in 2007 of her roommate meredith kercher, an exchange student from england. to the kercher family she expressed her remorse today at the loss of a friend, but says no justice is served to meredith and her family if the wrong people are convicted. back in her hometown seattle, knox's parents said on the "today" show they understand their daughter's fear. >> she's scared, because, you know, the justice system there has failed her so far. she was found guilty of a crime she didn't commit. she wants the truth to come out and she wants to be freed. >> reporter: many in the courtroom were struck by the passion of the 23-year-old student. >> i'm sure that when the jury retires to the deliberating room in a few weeks' time to consider this verdict, they will be thinking long and hard about what amanda said in her statement today. >> reporter: but the prosecution is also appealing. it argues the 26-year prison sentence handed
down to knox is not harsh enough for what it describes as a brutal murder, and is asking for a life sentence. tonight knox was brought back to prison where she will spend her fourth christmas behind bars. keith miller, nbc news, italy. up next, jimmy stewart's hometown, hoping life imitates art this christmas.
generosity of spirit inspires a town. now a hometown tribute to stewart could use a little help too and folks there are hoping life imitates art. nbc's john yang explains. >> reporter: this holiday season timothy harley is hoping for a miracle, like jimmy stewart's character in the frank cappa classic, "it's a wonderful life." harley runs a humble museum to the humble star in stewart's hometown of indiana, pennsylvania. >> when he gave permission to the museum, i think his words were that he didn't want a taj mahal. >> reporter: the town's a lot like bedford falls, the fictional hometown in "it's a wonderful life." the museum opened in 1995 when stewart was 87. officials say the first five years were the busiest. most visitors have been senior citizens who grew up watching stewart on the silver screen. but attendance has dropped
dramatically, and like george bailey in the movie, the museum needs money bad. >> please help me, mr. potter. help me, won't you, please? >> were there a vilt lan in the story -- >> the vilt lan would be time. it's the pro greption of the generations that are no longer with us that supported the museum. >> reporter: and so like stewart's character in the movie, the museum is looking for help. maybe even a little help from above. >> who are you then? >> as2. >> what's as2? >> angel second class. >> we are welcoming any and all clearances, john. >> reporter: harley is hoping for a hollywood happy ending. >> it would be gratd fig to mr. stewart and his family that many people contributed what they could. >> to my big brother george, the richest man in town. >> reporter: john yang, nbc news, indiana, pennsylvania.
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