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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 4, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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on the broadcast tonight, outbreak. the flu hitting early and hard, coast to coast. news tonight about a surge of sick patients. and it could get worse. will the flu shot help now? damage control. more than two months after superstorm sandy, billions of dollars of help for the victims who lost so much. some say it's too little, too late. remarkable recovery. malala leaving the hospital after nearly being killed by the taliban. tonight she's walking and inspiring people around the world. and what's wrong with this picture? what happened after the women of the hill posed for a photo and why it's getting so much attention tonight. "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this
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is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. >> good evening, i'm lester holt in tonight for brian, who will be back monday. a lot of americans are spending this first week of the new year flat on their backs, taken down by the flu in numbers we typically wouldn't see until much later in the winter. and according to the centers for disease control, those numbers are rapidly climbing with a peak nowhere in sight. the government reports as of a week ago, flu cases were widespread in 41 states. that's 10 more states and a week earlier. what's more, this flu strain appears to be a particularly nasty one. it's even proven deadly in a handful of cases involving the young. nbc's chief science correspondent robert bazell starts us off tonight with more. >> have you had the flu shot before? >> reporter: packed clinics across the country and the cdcs numbers confirm what was already a bad flu season is getting worse. >> we have seen high fever, severe body aches, nasal congestion, cough.
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>> reporter: doctors say the major strain circulating this year is making its victims especially sick. and in some cases, it's proven deadly. high school senior max showorth died the day after christmas. >> it started out as the flu and turned into pneumonia and had a staph infection on top of that. so those three things combined took over very quickly. >> reporter: he was one of 18 deaths in children and teens so far this year. such rare cases show just how dangerous flu can be. doctors say the best defense remains the flu vaccine. it's not perfect, but it's the best we've got. and there's still plenty of time and vaccine left. they also urge people who are sick to stay away from work to avoid infecting others. the flu virus is often transmitted with coughs and sneezes. but it can live on all the surfaces we touch, and think how many there are. for up to eight hours. that's why frequent hand-washing is so important. and increasingly, hospitals are taking a big step. requiring health care workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. until recently, fewer than half
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got the vaccine. experts say that puts patients at risk, and sets a very bad example. >> it's a perfectly reasonable thing for the public to say, goodness, if my doctor or nurse don't get vaccinated, why should i? >> reporter: sue and joyce are among eight nurses fired from iu health in indiana for refusing to get vaccinated. >> i have the right to put in my body what i feel is right for me under god. and it's wrong, i believe, for employers to take away my rights. >> reporter: for the hospital says the nurses don't have the right to be around patients unless they are vaccinated. this clash may ultimately be decided by the courts, as one of the worst flu epidemics in many years continues to grow. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. >> more than two months after superstorm sandy, congress has taken the first step to give financial help to the many families and businesses in the storm zone that are still suffering and increasingly frustrated.
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they don't understand why they, unlike katrina victims, have had to wait. nbc's kelly o'donnell joins us tonight from capitol hill with more on that. kelly? >> reporter: good evening, lester. when you look at the people who are in the ravaged areas hit so hard by sandy, they are saying this is a bit of a breakthrough, but it's only a start. many complain the delays and politics have compounded their misery. for hurricane sandy victims, a down payment on health is on the way. jack lanceman has lost his coney island home, and his patience. >> well, it's about time that we get some help we really need here. it's really necessary. times are real tough. and i'm not getting any younger. >> reporter: today congress gave the okay after delays and politics slowed down emergency aid. >> they've been suffering! they have suffered long enough. they need to hear from their government. >> reporter: approved today, $9.7 billion for the financially strapped national flood
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insurance program, already drained by 140,000 flood damage claims. federal emergency management officials say most, 115,000, are still pending. and the money to pay them was expected to run out next week. >> this is not a handout. this is not something we're looking for as a favor. what we're asking for is to be treated the same as victims in all other storms. >> reporter: that first installment passed by a huge margin, in part a reaction to the uproar when house speaker john boehner cancelled the vote for a much bigger, $16 billion package earlier this week. >> we will not rest until the full $60 billion is sent to new york and new jersey to provide the relief that our homeowners, our businesses, our communities so desperately need. >> reporter: but opposition came from conservatives who wanted other spending cuts so that sandy relief would not add even more to the deficit. one republican called that a tragic choice between sandy needs and --
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>> insane national debt that threatens our national security, our economic well-being and our children's future. >> reporter: waiting for help, jack lanceman is keeping his expectation in check. >> it still doesn't mean anything, because now they're going to have to start breaking it up, figuring out how they're going to do it. >> reporter: they've got some things to figure out on this end, too. they're trying to put together a package of the big second installment, roughly $50 billion. and lawmakers say they promise to scrub it to make sure there isn't anything extra added in, only essential aid for those victims of this storm. lester? >> all right, kelly, thank you. also on the hill today, it became official. president obama won the election back on november 6th. but it wasn't until today that a joint session of congress counted the electoral votes and confirmed the result. obama 332, mitt romney 206. our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd is reporting tonight that the president is expected to nominate chuck hagel
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for defense secretary early next week after his return from vacation in hawaii. he also reports the white house knows it's going to have a confirmation fight on its hands if hagel gets the nod to replace leon panetta. hagel has strong supporters in the senate. there has also been strong opposition to him on both sides of the aisle. the senior senator from idaho, mike crapo is losing his license for a year after pleading guilty today to a charge of drunk driving in virginia. two days the arrest two days before christmas surprised a lot of people because crapo is a mormon and had said he didn't drink. today he apologized, admitted he drank occasionally and said he had been drinking vodka and tonic at home on the night of the arrest and got restless and went out for a drive. there is news tonight about american jobs. the labor department says the economy added 155,000 jobs in december, pretty much what was expected. and that kept the unemployment rate at 7.8%. that's the same as the revised number for november. so no surprises, but there may
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be some encouraging signs embedded in all of this. nbc's tom costello joins us now from our washington bureau to tell us more. tom? >> reporter: hi there, lester. kind of a ho-hum report, but many economists say there are several indicators the economy is poised to pick up steam. the question is how much steam. the latest snapshot of the american jobs market suggest the country treaded water in december. adding nearly the same number of jobs that were added in november. the unemployment rate, unchanged. not good enough, say economists. >> we need to see much more robust job growth to really whittle away at the unemployment rate in a more meaningful way and have more fundamental improvements out there in the labor market. >> reporter: through all of 2012, 1.8 million jobs were created. where are the jobs? in december, the health care field added 45,000. construction added 30,000 with hurricane sandy rebuilding and new home construction helping out. manufacturers added 25,000.
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the most in nine months. but retailers cut more than 11,000 jobs and assigned the holiday shopping season may have been weak. delta air lines is hiring up to 400 new flight attendants, already 43,000 people have applied. >> it means they have to stand out. they have to really have a passion for this and it ought to come through in their interviews. >> reporter: 23-year-old cameron brown was hired two years ago when 100,000 people applied for just 1,000 jobs. >> it's very tough. i have a lot of friends who are still looking for jobs. >> reporter: in fact, 12.2 million people remain out of work. many have simply given up looking. but economists say there is reason for optimism in 2013 with signs of continued improvement in home construction and manufacturing. state and local government layoffs are leveling off. and all of the uncertainty surrounding the showdown in washington over taxes and the fiscal cliff seems to have had a minimal impact. cnbc's steve liesman.
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>> if we were to turn down the volume on all of the in fighting in washington as possible, that businesses could turn up the pace of hiring throughout the country. >> reporter: now, for the first time in this recession, the unemployment rate for women has inched above the rate for men. economists believe that's because of the big cuts in city, state and local governments so far, and women make up many of those positions. lester? >> and tom, while we have you, i know you also keep an eye on things for us at the fda. there's news tonight concerning food safety. what is going on? >> reporter: the fda is proposing new rules tonight to proactively ensure the safety of the food supply. it wants to require makers to identify and take steps to reduce the risk of contamination in foods like eggs and peanut butter, which both had salmonella scares. and wants to require that fruits and vegetables do not come in contact with contaminated water from livestock or sewage systems. once finalized, those new rules could take up to two years to implement. >> tom costello in our washington studios, thanks.
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overseas, the war in syria has resulted in the deployment of u.s. troops, though not in a combat role. a small force arrived in southern turkey today to help protect that country from any attack from syria. 27 americans, the first of 400, were deployed to man patriot missile defense batteries put in place by nato to protect against possible syrian missile strikes. the syrian military has been using scud missiles in recent weeks against rebel forces, and some have been fired at cities near the turkish border. in england, the 15-year-old pakistani girl who was shot and almost killed by the taliban for promoting girls' education was released from the hospital today. the attack in october led to worldwide condemnation, and an outpouring of sympathy for her cause. nbc's keir simmons has more tonight. >> reporter: malala walking from the hospital today. a strong woman, her doctors say, making excellent progress.
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in pictures released by the hospital, the affection of her nurses is evident. >> i think it's fantastic news she has come out of the hospital. and it's actually particularly a relief to her family. >> reporter: family members in the uk have visited regularly but doctors decided living with them would help her recovery. >> they were finding it difficult to properly educate her in the hospital. so they wanted her to be even more with the family, because only father and mother were allowed every day. >> reporter: just three months ago in pakistan, malala was near death, shot in the head by the taliban. they were angered by her campaign for women's education. >> if you can help us, please help. >> reporter: instead of killing her, they made this teenage girl a household name and inspired support for her cause around the world. in pakistan, malala's school is now under armed guards. i really want her to come home, says her friend.
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but the taliban says it would shoot her again. now her father, who runs a school in pakistan, has been given a job in the uk, promoting education so the family can stay here. at least for a while. nbc has followed this story from the beginning. >> we're told by a source close that malala and her family are enjoying finally being together again and she and her father are as committed to ever as their advocacy work, not just in pakistan but around the world. right now their priority is malala's full recovery. >> reporter: malala will undergo reconstructive surgery in a few weeks, facing her recovery with the same courage and determination that has the world rooting for her. keir simmons, nbc news, london. and still ahead as "nbc nightly news" continues, the mountains of california, a different kind of gold rush, and not a moment too soon. and later, one man is making a difference for some americans in uniform.
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putting their lives on the line, half a world away.
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we've done a lot of reporting lately about the drought that's left much of this nation way too dry. tonight there's some potentially good news to report in a part of the west where an early flurry of winter snow may be a welcome sign for the water supply. nbc's miguel almaguer reports from california, sierra nevada mountains. >> reporter: in the mountains of california's gold country, this
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season, a different kind of boom. >> the amount of snowpack determines how much water we're going to have next summer. >> reporter: the sierra nevada snowpack sits at 134% of normal. early snowstorms have dumped half a typical winter's snowfall in just two weeks. >> that's a huge turnaround from last year. >> reporter: the change in just 12 months is dramatic. last year on this day in squaw valley. this year. but chris field and his team who won a nobel prize for their work on climate change warn snow is melting faster than ever before. >> we have been seeing earlier snowmelt, and we have been seeing this in a consistent way, and it's something we expect to continue as the climate warms. >> reporter: for now, reservoirs are filling fast, a lifeline for the nation's largest agriculture-producing state, which uses 75% of its water for irrigation. the snowpack here in the
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california sierras should help ease a drought that's crippled this area. but while there's plenty of powder here, there is troubling signs elsewhere. in colorado and wyoming, the snowpack is 15% below normal. 60% of the country remains in drought. >> it's almost certain that 2012 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, and the combination of the high temperatures with the variability that you get from random, chaotic parts of the climate system really set us up for the kinds of extremes that we're seeing. >> reporter: right now, they like what they see in snow country. but to make a real difference, more steady powder must fall here for the next three months. miguel almaguer, nbc news, along the california sierra nevada. there's more to tell you about. coming up next, the class photo of american women who just made history, and the fix that had a lot of people saying something is wrong with this picture.
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it's one of the rituals of every new congress. class photos. and outside the capitol yesterday, democratic women in the house were assembled for a photo of their own. and there it was. a snapshot of history. but just one problem. four of the women arrived late, and so a separate picture was taken of those four, then photo shopped into the original. you can see them in the back row. today democratic leader nancy pelosi defended the altered photo as an accurate historical record of the 61 women democrats, and said it was also accurate that it was freezing out there, and the women had to get back to work. another photo caught our attention today, this one also a part of history. just who is the woman reclining with the young man beside her? it turns out this is a newly revealed photo of the late princess diana when she was 18 or 19 years old.
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the picture was sold to a british newspaper back in 1981, just after diana's engagement to prince charles. the man with her is not identified. another part of the mystery is who wrote on it "not to be published." and a belated christmas feast today at the berlin zoo. on the menu for the elephants, and some of the other animals, donated pine trees. the elephants, we're told, are attracted to their strong smell. in case you're wondering as we were if this would be a good way to recycle your old christmas trees, the zoo says no because they might contain chemicals or leftover decorations. so please don't feed your elephants pine trees. for the elephants, only the freshest will do. and up next, "making a difference." one man's remarkable effort to get our troops some of the vital things they need, pronto.
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finally tonight, one man's mission to make a big difference in the lives of tens of thousands of american troops in afghanistan and other conflict zones. this former mortgage broker from oakland, california, has found a way to get them equipment and other things they need quickly and directly without going through the military. nbc's mike taibbi has his story tonight. >> reporter: you won't see aaron
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nearborn featured in one of the pentagon's recruiting commercials. >> boxing those up, getting those out today. >> reporter: but what he has been doing for two years in this vast, unheated warehouse in oakland, california, has provided crucial supplies for thousands of men and women in uniform and in harm's way. trauma kits and stretchers. ballistic eye protection. and tarps to repair ripped tents. spare parts for a failing generator that would have taken months for the regular supply chain to provide. >> this generator powers their communications, their intelligence, their daily operations, everything. we're literally able to ship it to them within 72 hours. >> reporter: it all started when one of nearborn's marine pals deployed to afghanistan and asked for some needed items. nearborn sent them. word got around through e-mails and a new website there was an outfit called troops direct that could bypass the usual military red tape and get you what you and your unit needed pronto. like this sergeant who told us via skype from afghanistan that
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nearborn had shipped plumbing supplies for clothes washers and hot showers. >> it's really nice to be able to take a hot shower, especially with the weather here. >> reporter: there have been scores of thank you e-mails saying the volunteer workers and suppliers had saved lives. but in a way, he has been a sort of don't ask, don't tell, corner master. >> we have never picked up the phone and called the pentagon and said hey, here's what we're doing and how we're doing it. >> reporter: and they have never picked up the phone and called you. >> no, they have not. >> reporter: in the meantime, nearborn is on duty, 24/7. >> we don't know what the next request is going to be. >> reporter: 15 tons of supplies already shipped. more on the way. mike taibbi, nbc news, oakland. >> that's our broadcast for this friday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt. brian williams will be back on monday. in the meantime, i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." have a great weekend, everyone, and good night.
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a great person. she just was a great girl. and she'll be really missed. >> right now at 6:00, a devastating ending, a family grieves at the discovery that no one wanted. we're following the trail of clues as to how a 19-year-old died in tahoe. and he tried to do the right thing in the wrong way. the family of a man who tried to fight back against crime with deadly consequences speaks out for 0 the first time. >> and it is the end of an era. legendary lead


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