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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 21, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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meanwhile, as it has for 100 years the population continues to move out of the northeast and midwest with the west and south each growing by about 14%. nevada's population surged by 35%. texas, by 20%. >> we have consistently seen the midwest and northeast declining in relative size and the south and the west increasing. >> reporter: here's where the population shift will really matter. while the senate composition won't change at all on the house side, 435 seats will change. ten states are about to lose one or more representatives, eight states will gain representation. illinois, iowa, louisiana, massachusetts, michigan, missouri, new jersey, new york, ohio and pennsylvania all lose seats.
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while arizona, florida, georgia, nevada, south carolina, utah, washington and texas win. texas, alone, picks up four seats. the population growth in the south and west traditionally republican strongholds could be a win for republicans. >> if this count were applied to the 2008 presidential race, president obama would have won with six fewer electoral college votes so he has a higher hurdle to clear in 2012. >> reporter: now states will redraw congressional districts and republicans appear to have an advantage. the country has been counting the population since 1790 when george washington was president and 3.9 million people lived in the 13 original colonies. in 1940, fdr was president with 132 million people living in 48 states. by 1960, with eisenhower in the white house, baby-boomers had surged the population to 179 million. when reagan was elected in 1980, there were 226 million of us. 281 million by 2000. and 308 million today, bigger
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than ever but the slowest growth rate in 60 years. tom costello, nbc news, washington. to something a bit more basic. the weather, especially we go to southern california now, day six of the torrential rain that's turned huge areas into a flooded dangerous mess. our own miguel almaguer is in l.a. for us. good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. river banks across california are on the rise and here in los angeles the l.a. river which snakes through so much of the city is also on the rise. earlier today, water threatened lives. now it's threatening homeless. raging waters and flash flooding in orange county four hikers were rescued after being trapped
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and in orange county, four hikers were rescued after they were trapped by a swollen creek overnight. >> they're cold, they're wet. >> near san diego, three men were pulled to safety from rising rapids below a bridge. but in northern california, a 62-year-old woman died after she drove into the rushing river. >> stay on high grounds. stay in a safe place and have communications available if possible. >> reporter: few areas are safe. heavy rain pounded the west all night. hundreds of toppled trees destroyed property and knocked out power. by morning, homes in san diego were taking in water. >> we've been bouncing from flooding call to flooding call so, it's not isolated to one portion of the city. >> reporter: in los angeles, the freeway was a crawl. timing couldn't have been worse. statewide, 11.6 million californians are expected to travel this holiday. >> good morning, thank you for choosing aaa. >> reporter: aaa set a record
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responding to 25,000 calls in one day. southern california is on pace for the wettest december in history. in the sierra nevada mammoth smashed a 40-year record. 10 feet of snow in four days. a weather system like no other on the move. >> it's going to go east and south and become the problem of the rockies and the plain states and parts east. >> reporter: already in utah, the virgin river is raging. xion national park is closed and a small dam could fail and evaluations have been ordered. forecasters have said all along that wednesday may bring the biggest punch. tomorrow at 4:00 a.m. we're expecting driving rain, pounding wind and potentially, tornados in this area. brian, for the folks that live along this river they're watching the water levels. >> all right. thanks so much. that's miguel almaguer. as for the weather disaster overseas we've been talking about here this week it's still a mess.
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heathrow airport in london still at least partly paralyzed. hundreds of flights have been cancelled. holiday travelers are told it won't be back to normal until thursday at the very earliest. in germany, heavy snow caused airport a big hub in frankfurt for three hours today. now to washington, the waning days of this congress, a fight has broken out over a bill to provide health care to thousands of first responders who worked at the site of the 9/11 attacks in manhattan. some of them went to washington today in a final effort to get this bill passed. our own kelly o'donnell reports. >> reporter: loading up in new york city today, headed for washington and a passionate fight. first responders and their families with stories of heartbreak. >> lieutenant tommy roberts. 58 years old.
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estof jeel cancer. >> lieutenant tommy robertsing with 58 years old. >> reporter: and anger. >> most appalling is we have people dying and we have politics here playing "let's make a deal" with american lives. >> reporter: here to urge congress to pass the 9/11 health and compensation act that would provide $6 billion for medical care and support. 36,000 survivors and workers who spent months at ground zero are currently being treated for illnesses linked to toxins at the site. >> enough, enough, enough with the delays. these are american heroes. this is a matter of life and death. >> reporter: and politics. congress is almost out of time for this year. >> i know that if people of good will could come together for this vote, we can pass this vote and it will be a christmas miracle. >> reporter: some republicans are reluctant to support the 9/11 bill because of questions about funding and how the program would work. but advocates accuse congress of letting its own memory fade. >> i pay special tribute. >> firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel
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responded. >> to give aid to those in distress at the risk of their lives. >> reporter: today first responders called been both parties for action. >> to my fellow republicans, tear down this wall. between patriotism and party and pass this bill. >> reporter: with frustration also directed towards the white house. >> where's the rest of the senate and the rest of the congress? what happened that our president can't come out and support heroes? >> reporter: senate democrats hope they can get going on the tomorrow and it could take days to get through congress and that's the trouble. even one republican could slow it down and that means democrats would not make their goal of getting this done this year, brian? >> we'll keep watching on capitol hill. kelly o'donnell for us. thanks. there's some apparent big news for the white house tonight coming from capitol hill. something the white house badly wanted.
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the new s.t.a.r.t. nuclear arms control treaty with russia cleared a key obstacle in the senate. 11 republicans joined every democrat present to support ratification. that clears the way, we're told, for the final vote tomorrow. there's every indication the treaty will be approved before the senate closes up shop for the christmas break. the white house has been repeating over and over, the treaty has the support of every living republican secretary of state. now to the big story in new england. big days at uconn. the university of connecticut. at last night's men's basketball game, the new president of the university, the first woman to be appointed to the job, susan herbst got a big welcome. tonight the women's basketball team could set a record as winningest team ever. men or women in college basketball. ron allen is there. >> reporter: practice before a game is usually closed. but this morning, the university of connecticut wanted everyone to have a good look at its
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women's basketball team winning their 88th straight game on sunday tying record sent by ucla's men's team and their coach back in the 1970s. tonight uconn goes for 89, led by maya moore whose mother put a basketball in her hands when she was just 3 years old. >> it's been the hardest thing i've ever done in my life but it's been so rewarding. >> reporter: the last time they lost was in april of 2008. and during that winning streak, they've dominated. beating their opponents by an average of about 33 points a game. they're champions. their president is a fan. >> back-to-back national championship ball. >> reporter: but they are still a team fighting for respect. >> if we were breaking a woman's record everybody would say, aren't they nice and give them one line on the bottom of espn and send them back. send them where they belong, in the kitchen. >> reporter: "new york times" sports writer has heard similar whispers about women's
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basketball. >> women are not supposedly as skilled as men and, two, the competition is not sufficient. but neither one of those arguments really hold up. >> reporter: uconn plays in packed arenas. every game is on television. dozens of stars like rebecca lobo have played in the olympics or the women's pro league and supporters ask, when is the last time anyone did anything 80 times straight? >> to win 89 games just proves a toughness. and a determination and a work ethic. not many people have that. >> reporter: the uconn women have all that. and hope they'll soon have their own unique place in sports history. ron allen, nbc news, hartford. and when our broadcast continues in just a moment, they're calling it the next big financial meltdown for a lot of american families. question is -- how did it get out of control? and later, a holiday story helping sick kids at christmastime. and making a difference in the process.
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we're back with what some say is the next financial crisis waiting to hit a lot of american households. it sounds familiar. where have we heard this? easy money offered to people who can't always afford to borrow it but this time it's not a house or a car or a mortgage. it's a shot and an education. the subject of a documentary premiering tonight on cnbc, senior correspondent scott senior correspondent scott kohn reports on the price of admission. >> reporter: nick and emily of round lake heights, illinois thought they were making a wise investment. >> we believed that when we graduated we would get jobs that would be worthy of the debt. >> reporter: the couple married
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young and started a family but they were determined to continue their educations. now, they have $250,000 in student loans. >> it's like, we're not going on vacation, fixing the house. we're not -- i didn't even get to put her in ccd this year. it sounds silly. it's a communion year. she's going to miss it. >> reporter: america's student debt is approaching $880 billion! that's more than we owe on our credit cards. student loan defaults have doubled in the last five years and half of those defaults are its so-called for-profit colleges, schools that operate as a business like the university of phoenix. the largest university in the country.
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$3.8 billion in revenue in 2009 and 86% of that came from government financial aid. senate education committee chairman tom harkin said the for-profit schools are pushing the system to the breaking point. >> the for-profit schools are really inflating this bubble. >> no one here has not gone to school because of financial aid. don't you be the first. >> reporter: the government accountability office sent undercover students to 15 for-profit colleges and found recruiters making wild promises to attract students and student loans. >> we have some students making six, seven, $800 a day. >> reporter: leaving students saddled with debt when they can't make the money. schools say they are expanding access to education to students who need it. >> we're actually fulfilling that need that's imperative in this economy to give students more skills, more marketable skills. >> reporter: others compare student loans to the mortgage crisis and warn of another
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bubble ready to burst. cnbc, washington. college debt crisis" tonight at 9:00 eastern time on cnbc. up next, the increasing talk on broadway that a show about a spider might be a snakepit.
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the show did not go on last night on broadway, though some of the people in the audience, for spiderman on broadway thought what happened was part of the show. amateur video shows the stunt
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man spiderman falling 30 feet into the pit after a tether broke. the broadway extravaganza has been plagued by problems from the start, eight years in the making at a cost of $65 million. the biggest production ever staged. the show includes 27 aerial stunts. government safety inspectors ordered some changes today. tomorrow's matinee has been postponed but the producers say tomorrow night's show will go on. did you set your alarm to drag yourself or a loved one outside to see the total lunar eclipse? turns out a lot of people did including a viewer of ours in brisbane, australia, who captured the image as an aircraft streaked across the sky. the first time since 1638 that a lunar eclipse has happened on the same day as the winter solstice and it won't happen again until 2094. our resident astronomy expert, dr. tyson of the planetarium was
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intrigued by the dark amber color of the moon. steve landesberg has died. going back to seeing his face is to remember his work. he was best remembered for "barney miller" which aired from 1975 to '82. later, "the golden girls" and other tv shows and films. he made his comedy debut on "the tonight's show." he was 74. "making a difference" a gift of generosity at holiday time for those who need it.
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our "making a difference" report tonight is the story of a boy who knew all too well how hard it is for a kid to be sick at christmastime and wanted to make sure other kids going through what he did were remembered during the holidays. "making a difference" in the true christmas spirit, kevin tibbles has our report from chicago tonight. >> reporter: chicago and cold! it's like the north pole and these are elves. >> thank you. >> reporter: yet, on this day they're not here for santa, but for a boy naked mark. >> he had a compassion and a
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love for people like i've never seen in my life. >> reporter: mark stayly spent six years in and out of chicago's children's hospital battling cancer and he knew all too well no child wants to be sick, ever, let alone at christmas. so ten years ago with help from family and friends mark started a toy drive, handing out toys to fellow patients. when he died in 2006, he made his mom, sue, promise to carry on. >> we hand out hope. >> there's the smile. >> reporter: from 150 toys a decade ago to more than 30,000 this year! >> mark would love this. >> reporter: all donated and then sorted at the new firehouse in mark's hometown of sherwood, illinois. >> this is all from the generosity of a little boy that thought of others. when we see the babies' faces it makes up for all the hard work we do. >> reporter: the toys are hand-delivered with love at children's and two other hospitals.
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>> oh, yeah, that's what i want. >> reporter: this 6-year-old connor is awaiting a bone marrow transplant. >> what did you get? >> what i wanted. >> reporter: this 9-year-old has krohn's disease. >> did you say "wow?" >> yes. >> his eyes got huge. very huge. >> whenever i see a kid smile i know mark's with us and mission accomplished. >> reporter: and what does sue think mark would say about all this? >> he'd be like, yeah, she's doing what i asked her to do and she kept her promise to me. >> merry christmas. >> reporter: from a boy's whose own spirit couldn't be broken, the spirit of christmas lives on. >> merry christmas! >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. there's more on the story on our new "making a difference" website. you'll see a link that takes you right there on our website for now that's our broadcast for this tuesday night.
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thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. as always, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- well, anothno round of wicked weather is working its twayhrough the bay area right now. the rain should pick up in the north bay any mine now and in the next few hours, you can expect lightning to join the mix. good evening, everybody, thanks for being with us. >> from flooding to mudslides, icy roads, most of the country gripped by


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