tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 26, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, shoppers' delight. after a short breather, millions of americans charge back to the mall, making many happy returns and searching for deep post holiday discounts. they are in the home stretch in iowa. after all the talk, all the debates, all the polls, we are now eight days from the first actual vote. meantime, the president got a mouthful from a constituent on vacation. opposite effect. a woman's intuition led to a life-changing outcome for her fiance and it could be a major wakeup call about a popular prescription drug.
and making a difference for modern brides who have been otherwise engaged. modern brides who have been otherwise engaged. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. i'm lester holt in tonight for brian. the season of giving has given way to the season of giving back and cashing in on the post christmas bargains. retailers who this year have been especially eager to brand every big day on the shopping calendar are calling this one mega monday. no doubt a lot of weary shoppers are sitting it out. you wouldn't know it by the scenes that played out in malls today. asked to list top reasons for wading back into stores this week 82% in a consumer reports poll listed post holiday sales. around half said redeeming gift cards. nearly a third said returning gifts was a top motivating factor, too. all of which explains why nbc's ron mott has got lots of company in new york's herald square tonight.
looks a lot like the day before christmas. >> reporter: indeed it does, lester. good evening. the doors at macy's have gotten a pretty good workout today as re-energized shoppers are back on the hunt tonight hoping to bag the biggest bargains. from the west coast -- >> we look forward to it every year. >> reporter: -- to the nation's capital. >> it's definitely worth going out the day after. >> reporter: on this day after christmas shoppers streamed into stores by the millions to buy. >> the greatest deals. i'm impressed. >> we split up and get stuff before anybody else can grab them. >> reporter: stuffing $8 billion into registers today alone. >> got to exchange it. return it for something you want. >> reporter: and to get retailers to buy back. according to the national retail federation about $46 billion in returns by season's end. with up to 10% of all holiday revenues tallied this week experts say sales floors should stay busy. >> it's about frugal fatigue. the consumer is tired of living
in the no spending bubble they have been forced into. they are now starting to step out and spend. >> reporter: discount was the word of the day. >> good sales. everything is 75% off at least. >> like 60% to 75 which is nice. >> reporter: the deals weren't limited to brick and mortar stores. they were online, too. in charlotte, socks went for a song. >> they said they were $2.99, but when i got to the register she was taking another 20% off. >> reporter: holiday decorations for next year brightened up the savings. >> all the l.e.d. lights. i cleaned them out. >> reporter: along with shoppers, gift cards. an estimated $28 billion in plastic funding many after christmas purchases. a new consumer reports study found of the 113 million americans who got them last year, one in four still hadn't used them. not this couple. they have already swiped up their opportunity. >> you get a chance to use them after christmas. >> reporter: not everyone is in a shopping mood. most americans, 60% will avoid the after christmas crush all together. the number one reason, stores are too crowded. others are sick of shopping or they have simply run out of
money. >> a whole lot of people in there. you can't take your time. >> we saw a couple things that had gone on sale recently. that caught my attention. i wasn't interested in buying any of it. >> reporter: final holiday sales numbers are due out in two weeks. it should determine whether retailers carry aggressive discounts deeper into the new year than they would like. lester? >> ron mott, thanks. >> now to a massive security breach at a security firm whose laundry list of big name clients includes apple and the u.s. military. the hacking group known as anonymous said it's stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to the firm's client. instead of going on a buying binge, you might be surprised by what they have apparently done. we get details from our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: the company called stratfor based in austin, texas, helps clients shield themselves from risk. tonight it's scrambling to protect itself. its website now contains only a
brief corporate understatement that it's, quote, undergoing maintenance. hackers from the group anonymous claim they stole thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information from the company and used it to make donations to charity. some were corporate and government clients but individual subscribers to stratfor were also among the victims including this former employee of the texas department of banking. >> in this instance they are taking from individuals. they could have ruined our christmas. they could have ruined our lives. >> reporter: he said the hackers tried to steal $700 from his account, giving $200 to the red cross. in a widely circulated statement, the group says there is, quote, plenty more havoc in store for the rest of the week and calls for the release of army private bradley manning, accused of passing on thousands
of classified government documents to wikileaks which anonymous has sought to aid in the past. >> the lesson is for companies with sensitive information, now is the time to secure it. it's no longer enough to say, well, it might not happen. >> reporter: tonight stratfor said it is putting systems in place to prevent this from happening again. hackers say the company should have stored the credit card numbers in encrypted files in the first place. pete williams, nbc news, washington. >> to presidential politics now, just eight days from the iowa caucuses. the republican candidates took an ever so brief break to spend christmas with their families. now it's back to slugging it out on the campaign trail. meantime the first family continues their hawaiian holiday. our white house correspondent kristen welker was traveling with the president in honolulu and is covering it all for us tonight. kristen, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, lester. president obama is relaxing in hawaii. it is a stark contrast to the republican presidential candidates who are gearing up for the home stretch in iowa and trying to get their ducks in a row. >> how'd you do? >> i did all right.
>> reporter: fresh from pheasant hunting with the locals, rick santorum is taking aim at iowa's undecided voters, hoping to win them over before next week's republican caucuses. >> i'm someone who's run the kind of campaign you can get behind. someone who's run a very strong, steady campaign, and done it the way that the people of iowa, you know, want to see a campaign run. >> reporter: santorum is not the only candidate banking on last-minute th h e -- theatrics. michele bachmann has then for stops tomorrow in her attempt to visit all 99 iowa counties. >> i want to thank iowa for taking the process so seriously. >> reporter: after months of virtually ignoring the state, mitt romney continues to spend last-minute money here, unveiling this ad today. >> i'm going to do something to government. i'm going to make it simpler and smaller and smarter. >> reporter: romney had struggled to persuade the republican base that turns out
for caucuses and primaries that he is a true conservative. >> i'm going to get rid of obamacare. >> reporter: finally today, rick perry also released a new ad claiming washington is the problem. >> that's the reason i have called for a part-time congress. cut their pay in half. cut their time in washington in half. cut their staff in half. send them home. let them get a job like everybody else at home has. >> reporter: recent iowa polls show ron paul at the top of the heap building on a base of support that's been consistent throughout the volatile polling season. >> there have been lots of ups and downs. there have been six frontrunners over the past year in iowa. there is no clear frontrunner heading into the actual caucus. >> reporter: newt gingrich, the latest national frontrunner before attack ads eroded his position encountered another setback this weekend, failing to get enough signatures needed to qualify for the virginia primary -- the state where he lives. >> look, we're disappointed but it was our fault. >> reporter: gingrich and romney
will both launch bus tours in iowa this week. now president obama ends his year with a temporary victory in the ongoing payroll tax cut fight. today he went hiking on the windward side of oahu which includes several world war ii-style bunkers. lester? kristen, thanks. >> one more word from the president's hawaiian holiday. the president posing for a picture last night at the marine corps base when 8-month-old cooper stole the show. sticking his hand right in the president's mouth while his parents were busy saying cheese. the president joked that he thought cooper liked his, quote, big nose. overseas tonight, violence in two middle east hot spots. in iraq a suicide bomb killed at least seven people, injuring dozens more. it's the latest in a string of attacks since the u.s. pulled out of the country. in syria, at least 20 people are reported dead after coming under attack by government troops. the crackdown comes hours before monitoring teams from the arab league are set to arrive in
damascus. tonight there is a storm brewing in israel. it has to do with seating on public buses and women being told by men where they can and cannot sit. until one woman refused to move. it may remind folks of a woman who took a stand in this country more than 50 years ago. we get the story from nbc's martin fletcher. >> reporter: tanya rosenblit, the new poster child for women's rights. on a bus to jerusalem, an orthodox jew said, you're a woman. go sit at the back of the bus. israel's rosa parks moment. "no," tanya said. >> if i were to go to the back of the bus i would be humiliating myself. >> reporter: a photo shows what happened next. the man stopping the bus. the threatening crowd. >> i was the only woman there. >> reporter: a policeman who came to help. after 30 minutes tanya won and kept her seat. then -- her story took off.
the head of the opposition led a march to parliament. >> it's not only about women. it's about the faith and the nature of israel society. >> reporter: all this began with one woman's comment on her facebook page. tanya rosenblit had no idea what she started. tanya told her friends but all of israel heard. another page in israel's long-running struggle over what kind of country it will be. >> we have a beautiful country. there are extremists here who try to make it something that it's not. >> reporter: religious versus secular. ordinary citizens resent attempts by orthodox jews to influence the way they live. orthodox jews stone shops, deface posters of women. why? the orthodox want more modesty in public. we don't care about the law of israel, she says. all we care about is god's law.
the fight goes all the way to parliament where tanya rosenblit finds herself a star, calling for equal rights everywhere. she says, i didn't ask for this. but if my story can help, so be it. [ applause ] >> reporter: martin fletcher, nbc news, jerusalem. >> across the pond tonight in britain, the queen's husband, prince phillip is spending his fourth night in the hospital after a heart scare, on the mend following treatment for a blocked coronary artery. the festivities went on without him this weekend including kate's royal christmas debut. the queen and six of her grandchildren including princes william and harry paid a visit to the hospital. the 90-year-old duke of edinburgh missed the annual boxing day shooting party which he usually leads. when "nightly news" continues on this monday evening, the little white lie one woman told out of love and desperation to help her fiance and what she did may be a game-changer for a popular prescription drug.
back now with a remarkable health story making headlines. it's about a young man in australia, brain damaged and thought to be unable to understand anything going on around him. but his fiancee had a hunch after something she'd read on the internet about using a popular sleeping pill, ambien, not to help him rest but instead to wake him up. sometimes a woman's intuition is the best medicine. we get more now from nbc's sarah james. >> reporter: sam goddard was an
adventurous young aussie, but in february 2010, sam -- just 23 years old -- suffered from a series of mysterious strokes. his parents john and leslie. how many strokes? >> he had eight strokes. >> reporter: eight strokes. >> two of those were massive ones. >> reporter: doctors said sam's brain damage was so extensive he likely had the mental capacity of a young child. in a minimally conscious state, sam could no longer speak. [ groaning ] >> reporter: his fiancee sally nielsen. >> they said he would be a vegetable. >> reporter: did they use the words "being a vegetable"? >> they did. >> reporter: sally refused to believe there was no hope. that's when she read on the internet that ambien, the sleeping pill, might actually wake sam up. sam's doctors refused to prescribe it because it is an off label use. so sally told doctors he needed ambien to sleep. >> you kind of gave a little -- fib. >> yeah. >> reporter: when sally gave sam the ambien, everything changed. suddenly he could talk, though his speech is slurred. >> hello, sarah. >> reporter: hi, sam. it's great to hear you talk. >> it's good to be talking. >> reporter: he was no longer
trapped in his body. turns out sam's mind was always working. he just couldn't let anyone know. i understand you're good at math. what's 20 times 30? >> 600. >> reporter: very little research has been done to understand why ambien wakes up certain brain injured patients but experts say the active ingredient zolpidem triggers blood flow to certain areas of the brain. yet it appears less than 10% of brain injured patients respond to ambien, and very few as dramatically as sam. no matter. sally nielsen who said she always knew sam was in there is just glad she tried it. sarah james, nbc news, brisbane, australia. >> you can see more of sarah's remarkable report tonight on rock center at 10:00/9:00 central here on nbc. when we come back here tonight after getting a late start he's taking orders from guys nearly half his age far from home.
it has been a season of joyful reunions. thousands of troops returning from war in time to spend the holidays with their families. of course many more troops remain over seas, serving far from home. tonight we are shining the spotlight on one soldier who's fulfilling a lifelong dream. we get his story from jim maceda
in afghanistan's kandahar province. >> all right. let's go. let's move it. let's go, boys. >> reporter: u.s. cavalryman don davenport's world is a 30-mile stretch of taliban, poppy, and danger in the heart of kandahar province. but what d.p. lacks in rank he makes up for in street cred. >> we have to worry about that hole and this tree line right here. >> did you see that? >> reporter: the insurgents got away this time but left behind a slew of bomb-making materials making the mission worth it. are you proud to be a grunt? >> i am. >> reporter: but no ordinary grunt. >> this reminds me of home. >> reporter: at 36, on his first combat tour he's years older than many of his commanders. >> i know about life experience. they know about combat experience. >> reporter: growing up in loganville, georgia, the son of a wounded vietnam war vet he's
already had a lifetime of jobs when the recession struck and pushed him closer to an old dream -- the military. >> i googled the army. i was like, you know what? being 33, this is nothing. i can do this. >> reporter: in fact, there's little d.p. can't do. a specialist, he's also a sniper, a radio expert and if there is anything on this outpost that needs building, say no more than "d.p.," but life as a combat grunt here has not been easy. early on his own mentor, some ten years younger, was killed in a firefight. >> a loving husband, a father, leader and most of all a great friend. i'll give you a call in a day or so. >> reporter: he's barely seen his wife micki and two step-daughters since boot camp. then there is the personal risk. when a taliban rocket slammed
into the motor pool hitting d.p.'s vehicle when he was inside, leaving him dazed with a concussion. davenport is pushing 40. what is he thinking? >> he's no longer wishing he could do something to make his family proud, his dad proud. he's actually doing it now. and for himself. >> reporter: trying, he says, to make afghan safer and so many miles from home it's still the best job he's ever had. jim maceda, nbc news, kandahar. >> we're happy to share that don davenport continues to rise through the ranks. shortly after we left him he was promoted to sergeant davenport, just two years since completing basic training. up next tonight, making a difference for brides to be who have been otherwise engaged.
next at 6:00, the smoggy skies just won't go away. what's behind the unhealthy air quality? >> it's for the environment, but it's kind of a hassle. >> it's not the first in the bay t. tthbut it could be es pewt.gg n the detaonstla a new plastic bag ban. finally tonight it's one of the most important details in one of the most important days in a woman's life -- that fairy tale dress on her wedding day. these days a lot of brides just don't have the time or money to spend on a dress because they
are otherwise occupied -- on the battlefield. that's where a special organization comes in. rehema ellis reports on how it's making a difference for a lot of military couples headed for the aisle. >> reporter: just days ago, army specialist allison shibusawa traveled from iraq to 5th avenue in manhattan. >> congratulations, welcome home. >> reporter: her mission now -- exchange fatigues for a bridal gown. >> i've been wearing boys' clothes for a whole year. i need to show my curves. >> reporter: she got to choose from dozens of brand new designer dresses at bridal reflections, a top new york city salon. >> i like it a lot. >> reporter: instead of paying up to $4,000, way beyond what she and her fiancee can afford her gown will be free. >> really accents the waistline. >> reporter: because of brides across america, a nationwide program that gives wedding dresses to military couples. at least the idea was to donate a handful of bridal gowns to engaged servicewomen, but brides across america grew beyond the
founder's wildest dreams. heidi janssen launched the idea from the bridal salon where she worked in massachusetts. >> when the other salons wanted to do it they asked me to organize it. i said, well, geez, i have never done this before, but i'll give it a shot. >> reporter: five years, 38 salons nationwide and 8,000 dresses later, it's not just active servicewomen who benefit but also fiancees of servicemen. >> it's a great way to say thank you. >> i think it's stunning. >> reporter: her mom found the program online as she was searching for inexpensive wedding ideas while her daughter was still in harm's way in iraq. >> it's been an interesting transition for her. all of the sudden we're rushed off to new york city. she's trying on beautiful dresses. i'm just so grateful. >> i have no words to describe how happy i am to have picked my dress. >> reporter: like most brides to
be, the dress she picked will remain under wraps until her wedding day next may. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. that's our broadcast for this monday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt in for brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. have a good night, everyone. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com thanks for being with us. i'm marla tellez. >> and i'm janelle wang. raj and jessica have the night off. it's mega monday. huge sales all over the bay area on things you might have wanted for christmas but did not get. and despite concerns over the economy, shoppers are out in full force and in the mood to spend. nbc bay area's business and tech reporter scott budmanra