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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 4, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight, new in town and fixing for a fight with the president of the united states, fired tonight, the wave of reaction to the videotape scandal that brought down a promising navy captain. it happened again. more dead birds falling out of the sky and now the mystery deepens. and free at last. the remarkable story of a man who spent decades behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. tonight he's free to go. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. it was as if he knew the fun was going to be over when he got
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home and the final hours of his hawaii vacation, president obama took his family to the zoo. they went to the beach. they went out to dinner and then they boarded the plane for the long flight home. to a city that has changed since he's been away there's a new party in power in the house. a new house speaker. a new political reality and now it gets interesting for both the democrats and the republicans at both ends of the spectrum in washington. we begin here tonight with our white house correspondent savannah guthrie. >> good evening, brian. the president spent the day behind closed doors. aides know this is largely the republican's week and the president is keeping a low profile so far. there are going to be a lot of new faces at the capital tomorrow and before long, new faces here at the white house as well. leaving hawaii behind and coming back to washington, aboard air force one, the president said he hoped to return to republicans ready to work together. >> my expectation and my hope is that john boehner and mitch
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mcconnell will realize that there will be plenty for them to campaign for 2012 in 2012. and that our job this year is to make sure that we build up on the recovery. >> reporter: republicans take control of the house tomorrow. ohio congressman john boehner will take back the speaker's gavel from the democrats. on her final full day in the job, speaker nancy pelosi said she had no regrets. >> i don't really look back. i look forward and we look forward to, as i said before, being a willing partner and solving the problems of the american people. >> reporter: house republicans are already looking to make their mark and gearing up for battle. a vote next week to repeal the president's health care law. a message to cut congress's operating budget by 5%. and about to slash the federal budget by tens of billions of dollars, back to 2008 levels. but a showdown is increasing over the amount of money the federal government can borrow.
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the so-called debt sealing. with a host of incoming election freshman on anti-spending platforms it will be an early test of speaker to-be's boehner's ability to satisfy the base and keep the government running. >> he's at the head of new troops, many of whom are fired with zeal, reflecting their constituent's wishes to execute a change but a u-turn in washington. and he's going to have to try to satisfy them and restrain them at the same time. >> reporter: tomorrow, the new congress gets under way officially with that swearing in of the new speaker, john boehner, expected sometime mid-afternoon. >> savannah back to what you mentioned, top, the rumored changes coming where you are at the white house including one or two big names? >> reporter: absolutely. we've learned the white house is seriously considering a new chief of staff, bill daily, the former commerce secretary under president clinton. but he's willing to accept the job if offered.
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we learned today that ron claim, the vice president's chief of staff is leaving the white house to return to the private sector and two recognizable faces around here, david axelrod, he's expected to leave in a few weeks and perhaps not far behind him, the white house press secretary, robert gibbs so changes could be coming soon. >> thank you, savannah. and as savannah mentioned a lot of the freshmen republicans arriving in washington, rode into town on a tea party wave and determined now to shake things up beginning with the federal budget. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: mike kerry is used to throwing out the first pitch when the blue sox take on the slippery rock sliders than arguing over the debt sealing. >> we had a great day up here where we had a dinner and talking about sporting issues. >> reporter: now the one-time defensive tackle for notre dame has left his chevy dealership behind in pennsylvania to drive the 269 miles to washington
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facing culture shock and sticker shock. >> can you imagine being maxed out on your credit card and not being able to make payments and you call the bank and say, i need more money. i need to buy more stuff and just raise the debt sealing. it ends up with them saying cut it up and send it back. i think we've been so irresponsible with our spending. >> reporter: at 62, kerry is the oldest of the 87 new republicans. the majority, like this pizza shop owner, bobby schilling, elected with tea party support. >> if you're asking me if i believe we're taxed enough already, i would say "yes." do i believe in a smaller limited government giving power back to the people? yes. less spending? yes. so i line right up with the tea party folks, yes. >> reporter: and what happens when they're bottom line collides with the status quo? right now they've got the energy and the numbers. >> they have a greater opportunity to make a change. just because they're more of them in total, they have a
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chance to persuade the rest of us. >> it's not washington. it was car guys talking. >> reporter: as mike kelly moves in he says the key is not becoming part of washington. >> i don't want to become isolated and get inside this belt and start to think like this is my home. it's not my home. it's a place i come to work. >> reporter: andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. we return now to the story that started off our broadcast last night. we reported the captain of the aircraft carrier in the u.s. navy had been temporarily relieved of his command because those on dashboard ship videos that have surfaced that the navy is not happy about. tonight, temporary has become permanent. our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski is here with the update. good evening. >> reporter: good evening. by all accounts, captain owen honors was still a rising star in the navy but only three days after the public release of the controversial videos, it all came crashing down today.
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after a 28-year navy career, captain owen honors was informed only minutes before the navy announced he was relieved of his command of the uss enterprise. in a punishing public statement, admiral john harvey said he lost confidence in honor's ability to lead. >> his profound lack of good judgment and professionalism, while previously serving as executive officer in enterprise, calls into question his character and undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command. >> there's a really good chance you're going to be offended tonight. >> reporter: it was this series of videos containing simulated sex acts and gay bashing, shot aboard the enterprise, four to five years ago, that brought captain honors down. >> he's being held accountable for the poor judgment and inappropriate actions repeatedly demonstrated in those videos. >> reporter: honors was replaced immediately by captain dee mewbourne.
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he will now command the enterprise on its upcoming mission in the war in afghanistan in a couple weeks. despite the firing thousands of supporters are lighting up facebook and many sailors saying these videos offer a much-needed break from the war. but navy officers past and present say the issue here is all about judgment than leadership. >> it's not about being the crew's pal. it's about motivating the crew. this xo clearly has a great sense of humor and folks can relate to that. but his principle job is not to be the ship's comedian, it's to be the ship's executive officer. >> reporter: the navy's investigation doesn't stop here. investigators want to know why honors' senior commanders who knew about the videos four years ago didn't take formal disciplinary action against him at the time. instead, honors was eventually promoted to the ship's commander. captain honors has been temporarily assigned to a desk job pending the outcome of the navy's investigation. navy officials say today's
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action mark the beginning of the end to an otherwise stellar career, brian? >> thanks, jim. people around the country are still talking about what's going on in arkansas. the massive bird kill and fish kill. thousands of each found dead in separate incidents. birds falling out of the sky. fish dead in the water. and today, more dead birds, hundreds of them, were discovered just to the south in adjacent louisiana. our own janet shamlian is in beebe, arkansas. >> reporter: a grisly event believed to be an isolated event has happened again. some 300 miles south of here in louisiana. some 500 red wing blackbirds were found dead littering a quarter-mile stretch of highway outside of baton rouge and discovered yesterday and they are the same species found in arkansas.
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they say they may never know for certain what caused 5,000 birds to fall from the sky new year's eve but they do believe the birds were shocked by fireworks and then literally flew into homes, trees and each other. as of this evening, birds from both states are at a federal laboratory for testing. they say mass kills like this are not unheard of but insist that they are highly unusual, especially happening within days of each other. >> just such a bizarre story, janet covering this in beebe, arkansas. overseas in australia, it's snakes that are part of the problem for people with enough to worry about already. their city is soaked. the floodwaters in their neighborhoods are infested with snakes. even some crocodiles as people evacuate their homes ahead of the river's peak. flooding across the state of queensland affected an area larger than the state of texas and authorities warn it could be another two weeks before it's all over. in pakistan, an
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assassination in cold blood today. the governor was shot and killed by one of his own guards who was apparently enraged over the governor's very public campaign against pakistan's blasphemy law. the governor's campaign against pakistan's religious conservatives included a recent update on twitter in which he said he would not give in to the pressure, quote, even if i'm the last man standing. a family photograph is getting a lot of attention around the world tonight. here's how it appeared on the newspaper front page in the philippines today. the photo was shot by a filipino politician showing his family. they're posing outside their home on new year's eve, while a man in the background circled at left there, is brandishing a gun. moments after taking the photo, the photographer was shot and killed. his family showed the photo to police who say it helped them track down the gunman. a car thief who was out on bail. he's now under arrest tonight.
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when our broadcast continues this evening, in just a moment, congress spending billions of dollars on all kinds of special projects, but you might be surprised by what happens to some of the money. and later, in jail since 1979 for something he didn't do. and what happened today to right that wrong. ♪ i was diagnosed with copd. i could not take a deep breath i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs, working in the garden, painting. my doctor suggested spiriva right then. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for copd, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. i love what it does. it opens up the airways. announcer: spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. stop taking spiriva and call your doctor right away if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, have vision changes or eye pain, or have problems passing urine.
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tonight, a new nbc news "usa today" investigation found billions of dollars set aside for those projects over the past two decades and it hadn't even been spent. they are tax dollars just sitting there unused. our report tonight from nbc. >> reporter: nearly 100 years it stood down the road from the pittsburgh zoo, crumbling, patched-up and rusted, this bridge buckles under the weight of 13,000 cars that cross it every day. >> i try not to think about it. if my number is up, it's up, i guess. >> reporter: just one of 4500 pennsylvania bridges in desperate need of repair, but not designated for renovation. for years, congress has earmarked billions of dollars for highway projects. but an nbc news "usa today" investigation found many have become orphaned earmarks. money that's never been used because of red tape, cancelled projects and typos. >> right now it remains unspent and it's money that the states
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then can't use to do the highway priorities that they might have in their state. >> reporter: in indiana, congress set aside $375,000 13 years ago to improve state road 31. but there's no state road 31, but u.s. 31. a simple mistake. so for years the money sat there. a "usa today" analysis found more than 7300 congressionally directed highway projects with many going nowhere fast. a total of $13 billion set aside for those projects remains unspent. and because many earmarks are deducted from the state's share of federal highway money, cash-strapped states have lost at least $7.5 billion over the past 20 years. money states could have used on road and bridge repair. pennsylvania alone lost nearly $400 million in an earmark black hole, the outgoing governor says congress must fix. >> the money should be essentially use it or loose it. you have a two-year period.
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if you don't use it, it reverts back to the federal treasury. >> reporter: $13 billion set aside, yet never used. with the nation's highways and bridges desperate for some tlc. nbc news, washington. we want to let you know there's a lot more on all of this including more on the states this are missing out on the most highway money at "usa today" and in tomorrow's edition of the newspaper. while we're on the subject of government spending, tax time approaches but this year you have an extra three days to file your federal tax return because washington, d.c. observed emancipation day on friday, april 15th. that means your tax return doesn't have to be in the mail until midnight on monday, april 18th this year. up next as we continue here tonight, a staple of the american home that's going away quickly. i have asthma. and when my symptoms came back
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as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or with some other medicines, including aspirin, may increase bleeding risk, so tell your doctor when planning surgery. tell your doctor all medicines you take, including aspirin, especially if you've had a stroke. if fever, unexplained weakness or confusion develops, tell your doctor promptly. these may be signs of ttp, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, reported sometimes less than 2 weeks after starting plavix. other rare but serious side effects may occur. ♪ everybody alive at the time knew his music, "stuck in the
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middle with you" and later, "baker street" in 1978, which sold millions of copies. the singer-songwriter, gerry rafferty has died. he was born to an irish-born coalminer father. he lived in california but settled in the uk where tonight, "the guardian" newspaper says that alcohol dominated this creative and intelligent man's life. gerry rafferty was just 63 years old. as someone in our newsroom said today, they're coming for our light bulbs. as you may know, we're supposed to stop using regular incandescent light bulbs in 2012 and switch over entirely to those energy-saving bulbs by 2014. well, the big box retailer ikea is speeding up the transition announcing they will no longer carry regular light bulbs as of today. by the way, a harris poll
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commissioned by ikea shows over half of americans have no idea regular bulbs are supposed to be phased out. the giant mega-millions jackpot that was supposed to give someone a really happy new year and it is up for grabs tonight still. it's grown to $355 million! that's the second-largest pot in the multistate game's history. the huge prize has brought out the gambler in just about everybody. in nevada, perhaps not surprisingly, hundreds of people lined up for a shot at it. the odds of winning are pretty steep, even for vegas, 1 in 176 million. you may have heard of the term "presidential scholar" but the following piece of video, which got very big on the web today, brings new meaning to that term. 2-year-old charlotte english of wayne, new jersey, got a placemat showing the u.s. presidents on it as a gift from her trivia-buff dad who bought it for her at k-mart. check out her knowledge.
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>> can you show me where richard nixon is? what does he say? very good. what does ronald reagan say? >> tear down that wall! >> that's right. >> by the way, charlotte also quotes democratic presidents in case you were wondering. you can see the entire video on our website, when we come back, the extraordinary thing that happened today in dallas, texas. [ male announcer ] when you eat kashi golean,
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his story tonight from nbc's lee cowan. >> reporter: somewhere in a long-forgotten police file, yellowed by time and grey with dust, sat a single microscopic detail that could have saved cornelius dupree the prime of his life, but no one looked. instead, he was wrongly convicted of rape and robbery. he was 20. but today, at age 51, a judgment told dupree justice made a mistake. >> he's free to go. >> words really won't make up for what i've done lost. you know? i lost both my parents. i just feel that the system needs to be fixed. so this won't happen to anyone else. >> reporter: in 1979 when he was arrested on his way to a party for simply looking like the rape suspect, that was it. physical evidence existed but at the time, there was no test for it. >> it was only by the grace of god that i was able to, you know, sustain the long way. >> reporter: the texas court of criminal appeals turned him down
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three times. finally, the "innocence project" pushed for the dna test that made all the difference. >> it could happen to anybody and that's whether you're white, black, brown, rich or poor. anybody can be mistakenly identified. >> reporter: barry schek of the "innocence project" said texas has released more than 40 wrongly-convicted inmates in the last ten years. >> how many here were wrongly convicted based on eyewitness identification raise your hand. >> reporter: and yet, dupree insists there's no bitterness. >> being held in a cage for 30 years for a crime you didn't commit, words can't express. >> reporter: a triumph of the human spirit and of science. the righted of a wrong that only his heart could have proved true before. lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles.
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incredible story to end our broadcast here on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams and we'll look for you right back here tomorrow night. guide good night. -- captions by vitac -- right now at 6:00, get ready to pull out your wallet because potholes on our roads and highways are acting like land mines on our cars. good evening, everyone, i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm tom cinco visit. two weeks of stormy weather turned bay area roads into battle fields and the potholes are winning right now. a huge crater in oakland caused some lane closings on 880 for most of the day and


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