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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 19, 2010 3:30pm-4:00pm PST

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getting it done on this sunday before christmas. congress is all business as the president scores some big wins. one-two punch. wild weather slams the american west while europe staggers under the worst winter wallop in memory. attention shoppers. cash registers ring as gift seekers come out in droves raising hopes there will be something under the tree this christmas for the u.s. economy. and making a difference. what do you do to help bring toys and tots together this holiday season? send in the marines. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this
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is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. with midterm elections behind them and christmas less than a week away, this outgoing congress is certainly not acting like a lame duck. as we come on the air, the senate is still at work in a rare sunday session having handed the president two important votes in the last week on taxes and gays in the military, they now seem poised to possibly grant one more big item on barack obama's wish list, ratification of the nuclear arms treaty with the russians. this sudden flurry of bipartisan good cheer has caused the president to delay his christmas trip to hawaii as he remains in washington hoping to end the year on a political high note. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening. after the two big victories on domestic issues he's pushing for a one on one more thing in congress on what he calls a
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priority. today on "meet the press" confidence from the vice president that s.t.a.r.t. will ab proved by christmas. >> do you have the votes to get that ratified? >> i believe we do. >> reporter: others are not as sure. this morning the top republican announced he's a no. >> i decided i cannot support the treaty. >> reporter: the agreement signed by president obama and russian leader medvedev in april would allow monitors from each nation to inspect the other's nuclear sites and reduce strategic nuclear warheads on both sides from 2200 to 1550. opponents virtually all republican argue with the reduction a nato missile defense system in europe must go forward, and say the treaty could weaken that effort. >> if either party pushes the button at 6,000 or at 1,550 the world is over as we know it. >> reporter: mr. obama pledged
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as long as i'm president the united states will deploy effective missile defenses to protect the united states. ratification of the treaty, though not yet certain, would cap an extraordinary stretch for mr. obama and the lame duck congress. friday the president signed a tax cut package negotiated with republicans. >> house resolution 2965 is adopted. yesterd >> reporter: yesterday the gridlock was broken on don't ask don't tell. >> i'm proud we stood up and said we'll join you. this smub bipartisan. it is beyond a question of fairness. these are men and women willing to risk their lives in defense of their country. >> reporter: lester, with two-thirds of the snats needed to ratify the s.t.a.r.t. treaty or any treaty the outcome of the vote is still very much in doubt. whatever the case, aides say the president will stay on here in washington until the outcome is known, even though his family
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has gone on ahead as scheduled for that hawaiian holiday. lester. >> john harwood is chief washington correspondent for cnbc. what do you make of this? a tax deal and a repeal of don't ask don't tell and clearly a break in the gridlock. what does it mean? >> some of the credit goes to the calendar because that deadline spurred action on the tax cuts. some goes to the voters who told congress and the president they wanted action on the economy and they wanted the two parties to work together. some of it goes to both the president and republican leader who is agreed on that tax cut package to give in on some things that they wanted in order to get a larger. on don't ask don't tell you had republicans as well as democrats who felt the urgency of doing this before the democratic strength is diminished in congress and odds of approval would be less likely then. >> still maybe more on the plate republicans and democrats have been at odds over a 9/11 bill to help those sickened by the toxic
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dust at ground zero. there is a renewed sense that bill could be worked out in this session? >> more difficult but still possible. we seen in the collapse of the omnibus spending bill last week that spending is the most difficult thing to get bipartisan agreement on. there's still hope that before christmas they will. >> john, thanks. that "meet the press" appearance by joe biden earlier made news on another subject as well. asked about the war in afghanistan, the vice president was unequivocal about how long u.s. troops would remain, saying, quote, we will totally out of there come hell or high water by 2014. the u.n. security council held an emergency meeting this morning to discuss growing tensions on the korean peninsula. at issue is south korea's plans to conduct live fire exercises on tuesday on the same island attacked by north korea last month. the north has warned of a catastrophe if the south goes
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ahead with the drill as planned. in this country nasty weather continues to be a big story, especially on the west coast where rain is inundating parts of california for days. raising fears of mudslides, as nbc's miguel almagare reports, rt worst may be yet to to come. clrp the cleanup in hollywood hills is under way, but the wet weather and threat to homes is far from over. no serious damage from mudslides yet, but a series of powerful storms may be the largest the region has seen in a decade. heavier rain is on the way. >> the wife takes the night shift and i get up early. >> reporter: he fortified his home. the only protection he has from the soaked hillside above his backyard. the largest wildfire in state history char this had area last year, and now mud threatens the homes below. the area outside the burn zone looks like a war zone. residents are prepared for the
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worst. the rain caused havoc on the roads. 349 car crashes were reported on southern california freeways in 12 hours. to the north in washington state, wind was the problem. more than 100,000 people lost power in seattle. >> it kind of like was a locomotive hitting your house. >> reporter: in spokane snow and ice led to a series of pileups, residents shut down their own roads. back in southern california up to 12 feet of snow could blanket ski resorts, but in the foothills la quinata rain and mud keep many awake tonight. nbc news, los angeles. >> for more on what to expect from this relentless weather system we turn to chris warren who joins us from truckee, california west of lake tahoe. >> reporter: it will go op and
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on for the west coast, but if you live on the east coast pay attention to what's happening on the west coast because some of this energy from this steady stream of moisture from the west will be heading east. as it it does it will bring snow to the rockies and eventually we could see accumulating snow throughout parts of the northern plains, could see several inches there. as we get into monday night into tuesday, chicago could see four inches and into cincinnati we could see a few inches of snow as well. we are also here at the weather channel watching a potential storm lester for next weekend for the northeast. so this is far from over. >> chris, thank you very much. wild weather also a big concern for anyone contemplating a trip to europe tonight. not to mention europeans trying to get around themselves. heavy snow has turned the region into a winter wonderland with travelers wondering when this will all end. jenny wivvell reports from london. >> reporter: bedding down under a foil blanket is no way to start or end your vacation, but
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for thousands at health row a shortage of accommodations is the only option. >> we've supposed to be married on the 27th of december. we've been stuck here. not leaving now until tuesday. no offer of a hotel, taxi, no way home. so we're going to wait it out and see what happens. >> reporter: john and his sister were on their way from dallas to italy for christmas when their journey ground to a halt in london yesterday. >> we had to rebook for this morning, so we spent last night in the airport. then the flight this morning was canceled, so we had to rebook a second time. >> reporter: so far heathrow airport is only using one of the two runways, and what many passengers are struggling to understand is how a few inches of snow can cause so much trouble. >> i'm used to flying in and out of new york and chicago o'hare and so forth, and they do a very good job of removing snow and keeping the airlines moving. that seems to be a problem here. they just don't have the
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equipment to keep the runways clear. >> reporter: this is part of a record-breaking winter storm moving across europe coasting roads and railways and monuments in snow and ice and grounding flights from paris to belgium. >> i don't know what i'm going to do for my food for my kids and my wife. i don't know. >> reporter: with a backlog of hundreds of thousands of travelers and more snow forecasted many fear they will still be here at christmas. nbc news, london. from chaos at the airport to the shopping malls here at home, the the holiday rush is on. shoppers were out in force this last weekend before christmas. that may be good news for a fragile economy. our report from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: if you notice the main streets and the malls are busier this holiday season, you're not alone. >> there's good store deals out there, so you can get a little bit more for your money. >> reporter: across the country shoppers are out in droves.
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>> i'm using cash, so i'm spending what i anticipated on spending. >> reporter: at the tyson's corner mall outside washington, d.c., they're buying but they're buying smart. >> i don't think i'll buy a lot of nonsense. i'll personalize them or buy one big gift or something personal. >> in the prior years consumers were more need based and reserved and cautious with the shopping. people are having fun again this year. it's nice to see. >> reporter: retail sales this season have exceeded expectations so much so the national retail federation has increased its forecast to 3.3%, and they say it's being driven by consumer confidence. the federation says the the floodgates have opened at least a little and consumers are once again opening their wallets. what are they buying? clothing. sale of apparel is up for the season. jewelry sales are up 2.6%. sporting goods, hobby, book and music sales have increased 2.3%
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and many are foregoing the mall for online shopping. e-mer e-commerce is up 13.5%. >> inventories need to be replaced next year. retailers doing relatively well might be more likely to keep on the seasonal hires that they did. >> reporter: even on a chilly sunday in the windy city, there are plenty of shoppers and shopping bags along michigan avenue's magnificent mile. >> it feels like more people than last year. >> reporter: after a hard recession that put the american consumer on the endangered species list, this christmas the shopper appears to be back. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. when "nbc nightly news" continues this sunday night, the army private authorities say is one of the biggest leakers of all time. who is he? was he hiding secrets of his own? a murder mystery in the holy land tonight after an american woman is found dead. look who is helping santa
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case of bradley manning. >> reporter: in grammar school bradley manning was the undersized sax player in the band and a straight a student. >> he made people feel a little stupid because he used big words. >> reporter: now he's the alleged source at the heart of the wikileaks firestorm. he delivered classified videos and documents made public by wikileaks. manning was arrested after he contacted a notorious computer hacker. after hearing his story, he turned him in. >> that was the most difficult decision that i've ever made. >> reporter: he said manning sought him out because of his reputation as an accomplished computer hacker. manning complained he was never noticed and regularly ignored and abused and said he became the wikileaks source because serving in iraq he was actively involved in something he was
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completely against. he contacted army counterintelligence when he became convinced he was in it for attention and it would put lives at risk. >> i regret i had no other choice going forward. i wish that bradley manning had talked to me when i was planning it. >> reporter: back in manning's hometown they wonder if his troubled home life and his service in an army that would not allow him to be openly gay had an impact on his decision. some were already judging him like form erma reason roger campbell. >> i think he should be executed for doing what he did. >> and even his former principal. >> if found guilty, he deserves all he gets. >> reporter: no comment from manning's attorneys. given the current charges against he could face 52 years in prison. there is more ahead here on a sunday night. the first day of winter, and this year it arrives as something extra in the nighttime sky, something we haven't seen
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among the dead at least a dozen children. a grim discovery by police today in israel. the body of an american woman, a tourist brutally murdered not far from jerusalem. tonight the hunt is on for her killers. martin fletcher has more. >> reporter: it began as a sabbath hike in the jerusalem woods and ended in a brutal slaying. an american woman found hidden under bushes, her hands tied behind her back stabbed to death. a friend also bound and stabbed multiple times escaped only by pretending to be dead. she told rescuers two arab men asked for water and she thought something was wrong. her friend was scared so she told her to be quiet, the men may attack. they did with what looked like a bread knife. they tore the star david from her neck and stabbed her in her neck. i saw it didn't end my heart. i played dead but heard my
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friend die. they identified the dead woman at 40-year-old christine logan. they sealed off the area and launched a massive manhunt. their suspicious is it was an attack against jews. >> forensics are working on the scene at the moment and the investigation is continuing. >> reporter: israeli troops vournded a nearby arab hospital and checked the emergency room in indication one of the attackers was hurt in the attack. doctors showed them the patie s patients' list. >> they picked up a few names and asked about i.d.s. >> reporter: no arrests so far. as israelis hunt the killer abbas said he opposes violence and is committed to peace with israel. martin fletcher, nbc news, london. our solar system is putting on a show to mark the first day of winter, the shortest day and longest night of the year. this year there's a payoff, a
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total lunar eclipse as the earth casts its shadow early tuesday morning. that hasn't happened on a solstice for more than 450 years. tonight the mighty uconn huskies hopeclipse of their own. today here in new york the huskies beat ohio state 81-50 bringing their streak to 88 games tieing the men's record set by ucla 36 years ago. uconn could pass ucla tuesday night when they play florida state becoming the winningest college basketball team in history. when we come back, our "making a difference" report bringing toys to tots this holiday season. you take once-monthly boniva, check out the myboniva program. it's free to join, and it shows you lots of ways to help improve your bone strength. like bone-healthy exercises that are easy to do. boniva works with your body to help stop and reverse bone loss. and myboniva gives you calcium-rich recipes...
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finally tonight we begin a special week-long series of holiday "making a difference "the reports. tonight toys for tots. with the struggling economy this year, they're once again in high demand. our report from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: across the country millions of toys are on the move towards the marines. >> there you go, gentlemen. >> reporter: filling donation boxes, trucking to warehouses, eventually ended up in the hands of families with children who might otherwise go giftless dpurg the holidays. if not for this cartful of
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goodies. >> a toy story for landon. >> reporter: they're both unemployed and say there would be little under the tree for their two kids. >> we were left without any way to provide for our kids this year, and they've just come out and helped us in more ways than we could ever possibly be able to acknowledge. >> reporter: it's what the marines have done since 1947, distributing 400 million toys, though this year comes with challenges. a down economy leading to empty toy bins, all this while the country fights two wars. >> over the last eight years in particular the marine corps and reserves have been incredibly busy, but they find time to make the program work. >> reporter: while an army of volunteers is the driving force for toys for tots, over the years big names are out front. stars like marilyn monroe, danny thomas and walt disney who designed the toys for tots logo. it's it is generosity of average
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people and organizations like the can you be scouts and delta air lines that bring it alive this year. >> it's the personification of christmas. it's the definition of santa cla claus. there's something magical about it. the magic is in the hard work, the feelings and emotions that goes into giving to people. >> reporter: giving all it's got. >> i appreciate toys for tots. >> reporter: offering hope for a brighter new year. ron mott, nbc news, lawrenceville, georgia. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. coming up next, "football night in america" followed by nbc's "sunday night football," the packers versus the patriots. brian williams is here tomorrow. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. for all of us here at nbc news, new york. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac --
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