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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 18, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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tonight at 6:00 p.m.ok . on our broadcast tonight, dangerous mission. tonight we're learning just how high risk it will be for astronauts to fix the international space station after the last one almost drowned in his own helmet. sending a message. news tonight about who will be representing the u.s. at the olympic, and who won't be there in russia. pressure point, controversy over new recommendations for tens of millions of americans who take meds to keep their blood pressure under control. and man's best friend, a huge outpouring for two
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companions. neat nightly news begins now. it's been a long time, and it's a far cry from the speech by president john f. kennedy challenging americans to conquer space, which we did by the way in short order. these days our astronauts ride to space on board russian spacecraft. and they make up part of the crew of the space station. there's a problem on board. one of two crucial pumps has blown. they're running on backup. it will take three spacewalks to fix it. the problem is, during the last spacewalk, an astronaut's helmet filled with water. so today, nasa said the astronauts will wear snorkels
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along with exor ents pads to make sure they don't drown. >> they think they know why the astronaut's helmet filled with water last july. now they've cut some rubber tubing to make sure and have snorkels for astronauts. on board today, they were inspecting the space suits they'll be wearing for saturday's mission. one of those suits will be the one worn by the italian astronaut last july when he nearly drowned after his helmet suddenly filled with water. >> water is in his eyes now, and it seems to be increasing. we think we're going to terminate. >> reporter: he later talked about the scare. fellow astronauts were able to get him inside and remove his helmet just as the water was preventing him from talking. >> they took off my helmet.
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wiped my face from all the water. about 3 pounds of water, i would say, and that was the end of it. >> reporter: but it was a very close call. now two astronauts are going back out on an urgent mission. >> the 23rd, and on christmas day if we need that. >> reporter: the movie gravity has helped fuel the public's fascination with the real space station, the size of a football field. now the real crew must remove and replace two ammonia pumps. nasa has spent months inspecting the suit and helmet and replacing internal components. but just in case, nasa has returned to the in-house ingenuity made famous in apollo 13. >> we've got to find a way to
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make this fit in the hole for this using nothing but that. >> reporter: on saturday, the astronauts will wear a pad and a snorkel. >> if water is encroaching your face, the crew member can lean down and use this to breathe. >> reporter: an urgent mission and a lingering fear after a very close call. each spacewalk will last six and a half hours. replacing that failed cooling pump is urgent, because if the second pump goes down, they'll have to abandon the station. they'll get two more walks scheduled for monday and then wednesday. >> tom, thanks. it has been almost five years now since the official end of the great recession, but the lingering question has been, is the economy now strong enough to grow on its open without help from the federal reserve. today the fed said it's finally ready to start pulling back a bit on what's known at stimulus,
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injecting money into the system. wall street liked this news. dow and s&p were up. but what about american families? sue herrera is with us tonight. how will people feel this initially? >> i think initially, we may see interest rates go up a little bit as the fed takes some of that money out of the system. interest rates on credit cards and mortgages and maybe student loans. credit cards are the highest rate vehicle that americans carry. >> now a loaded question here. what does this do to address the income gap, the americans who have stopped looking for work. the jobs that have gone away, the salaries that have never caught up? >> a lot of people on wall street think the fed was a little premature, that the economy as wall street sees it
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and as washington sees it may look pretty healthy or at least healthier than it was before. but if you're on main street, it's very iffy. we still have a record number unemployed. we have people looking for work so long that they're now discouraged and they've stopped looking for work. we know people who are working several jobs, probably low-paying job, just to make ends meet. i think this is a little premature by the fed, but the fed made it very clear that if the economy starts to wobble again, they will come back in with more money to pump it back up. now to a surprising decision by the white house about who's going to represent the u.s. at the winter olympic games. starting with the president and first lady. they're not going.
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our political director, chief white house correspondent chuck todd with details on this. >> reporter: you know, it's no secret that relations between russia and the united states and specifically president obama and vladimir putin are not good. a post-cold war low. and it appears those hard feelings are now spilling over into the upcoming winter olympics. for the first time since twourks the u.s. delegation to the olympic also not include a member of the first family, a vice president or a former president. instead it will be led by a former cabinet secretary and feature two openly gay athletes. this is the second time in four months the president has snubbed putin. earlier this year he canceled a summit, upset over edward snowden. now the white house seeps to be sending a message about russia's
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anti-gay laws. >> i think this delegation brings attention to the remarkable diversity of the united states. >> every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam. and people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it. >> reporter: but america's ambassador told me that america will walk a diplomatic line on these issue when the games begin. >> it's not our job. athletes are athletes. they're not diplomats. that's for me to do. but we want to protect their right to express their views while they're there. >> reporter: caitlin cahow hopes that it will help with her
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message. >> i will go to russia gladly. where are some believe they inadvertently snubbed the olympic committee. >> you could make the argument that president obama is des respecting the athletes by himself not going. it would and very different signal if he had gone himself and sent billie jean king with him. >> reporter: while this is a diplomatic poke in the eye, the u.s. could take things a step further and scare tourists away if it issues a travel alert for sochi. it takes place not far from one of the terrorist hot zones. but as of today, the government has no plan to issue that alert. there was news regarding the nsa data mining?
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>> reporter: they are trying to reform the collection activities. they made a bunch of recommendations. they would like to see that no longer the government would house this meta phone and internet data. let the phone and companies do it themselves. no more blanket orders. instead, force the government to show legal cause for every instance when they need specific data. allow these phone companies to make public anytime it is asked to turn over data. and take it away from the control of the military and have a civilian put in charge who is subject to senate confirmation and more congressional oversight. but the president hasn't decided whether he's going to accept any of these recommendations, but we will find this out after the new year. thanks. tonight across town the u.s. senate has joined the house to
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complete something congress hasn't done in a couple of years. they passed a budget to fund the federal government. the vote was 64-36. lawmakers on both sides say they hope it will avert another government shutdown for at least another two years. there's already one problem tonight, senators are scrambling to restore money cut from disabled veterans after a public outcry from veterans groups. the civil war between the assad regime and the rebels, now over 1,000 days long. it has meant that almost 9 million people, almost a third of syria's population, have been driven from their homes because of the fighting. many have fled the country, but that still leaves millions more inside syria, and they are increasingly desperate. many have found their way to damascus. nbc is there tonight. >> reporter: children wait for food to bring their families.
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this 7 year old has 11 bros. th and sister, all hungry. and even as these families register for help, gunfire. this 4 year old helps his family carry away basic provisions. this 4 month old's father says they fled when his town was shelled. outside, people search a list to see if they're eligible for help. every name on these lists is a hungry family. look at how many there are. this war started almost three years ago as a popular uprising against president assad. it's turned syria into a slaughterhouse. even more deadly as outsiders come in to fight on both sides and terrified syrians flee their homes. many are now starving. the world food program is
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feeding millions. >> we have to have some kind of solution politically because the humanitarian crisis is getting to a point i've never seen in any other country i've worked in. >> reporter: this soccer coach tries to distract the children from the misery around them, but it's not easy. he says mortars are landed here before. this is it. this is where it landed. near the soccer field, those children waiting for food are given noodle soup, this child struggles to carry the heavy pot back to her hungry family. no time for a normal childhood here. nbc new, damascus. and still ahead for us tonight, a health update about treating high blood pressure. new recommendations for tens of millions of americans, but not
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without controversy. and later, the good news about two close skpanions after we heard from so many viewers who wanted to help.
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as we mentioned before the break, the health news tonight is about treating high blood pressure, and it's controversy. there are new guidelines out tonight. they could mean fewer americans will be taking meds to get their numbers down. that's if their doctors go along and follow these guidelines. a report from all of it from dr. nancy sneiderman. >> reporter: it's the most common kron eck medical condition in the united states. leading to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. one in three americans has high blood pressure. right now, doctors prescribe
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medication if blood pressure exceeds 140/90. but the new guidelines give people over 60 a little leeway with no reason to treat until that number is 150/90. the old threshold of 140/90 stands for others. the new guidelines may reduce the burden on older americans who already take a lot of pills for a variety of ailments. >> patients may get side effects from different medicines. there may be drug/drug interactions. and the complexity of taking so many different drugs really makes it difficult for many patients to adhere to the regimen that their doctors prescribe. >> reporter: also blood pressure medicine has side effects. the most common, dizziness, dry mouth, fainting and falls. >> the american heart association has a simple message to patients. this is not the time to relax
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about this silent killer. get your blood pressure checked. get it treated. get it treated enough. the target that the american heart association recommends is less than 140/90. >> reporter: if you're already on high brood pressure medicines and tolerating them well, well, today's recommendations don't change anything for you. and if you're borderline hyperten sieve, and you don't want to take medication yet, then make some changes like reducing salt, getting exercise. but if they're recommended, people are still better on them. another break, we're back in a moment with a mystery that had folks talking from coast-to-coast today.
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tonight, we know the identity of one of the two winners who will split one of the largest jackpots in history. $636 million. ms. ira curry of stone mountain,
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georgia bought one megamillioning ticket. that's all it took. she did not attend today's news conference, but lottery officials said she has chosen to take the lump-sum payment of $123 million. the other ticket was sold in california. that owner has yet to come forward publicly. netflix has put out a movie trailer saying that a filmmaker spent six years behind the scenes with mitt romney. the resulting documentary is an intimate look at the candidate and his family, including a painful attempt to iron the sleeve of a tux while wearing the tux. it will begin streaming on january 24. the library of congress has
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add movies to the archives. a couple of the big ones from modern times include the magnificent seven, mary poppins, pulp fiction, and the right stuff. this photo was taken out back behind our building here on monday night. a proposal on the ice beneath the tree. the photographer knew he had captured a lovely moment, yet didn't know the identity of the couple and wanted them to see the picture. social media stepped up and solved the problem. it bass posted on red-it yesterday. the couple was located this afternoon. when we come back, how so many americans came to the rescue of a man and his dog after a rescue of their open on the tracks.
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finally tonight, a story about two close companions and the generosity of a lot of people. last night we told you about cecil williams, a blind man who fainted and the dog he credits for saving his life. hundreds of you responded after
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we went off the air, wanting to help cecil keep his companion. and today he talked about his closest friend and what happens for the both of them next. our story from stephanie. >> reporter: orlando the black lab proved that a dog can be more than a friend. to his blind owner, this dog is a lifesaver. >> when i fell over, i think i was out, and i was out on the tracks, and the train came. >> reporter: when williams stumbled off a new york city subway platform, orlando jumped right in after him, rousing him just in time. >> he was there for me. >> reporter: the two managed to wedge into a safe gap in the tracks as subway cars barrelled on top of them.
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>> when i looked down, i saw mr. bms. ancouldn't believe what i saw. >> reporter: williams was only slightly banged up but still needed some help. orlando has worked as his seeing eye dog for eight years. >> he's about 77 years old. >> reporter:s with thought he would soon have to say good-bye. but after the miracle rescue, donations poured in to pay for orlando's expenses. >> there's still good people in this world. >> reporter: good people who understand good dogs. orlando may be one of the best. stephanie gosk nbc news new york. great story to end on, on this wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. goodnight.
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>> good evening. thank you for joining us. right now, family and friends are gathering for a vigil for 13-year-old jahai. even strangers are joining them toll pray. nbc bay area's jean elie jiens us. >> the family last night fall called for a prayer meeting and
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tonight they're getting quite a response. there are people here still filing into the church. and the service is getting under w way. he had surgery at children's hospital oakland december 9. she had her tonsils removed. something went wrong and she was pronounced brain dead days later. the family says a second test completed yesterday also showed no brain activity. she's still at the family on a vept lay tor. they fought for more time and the hospital has agreed. now they are paying for a miraculous recovery. minutes ago, her mother says she believes in the power of prayer. i don't care where it's coming from, isle accept it. i just want to just pray for her. she's a really sweet girl. and she's a big part of my heart, and i won't give up.