tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 29, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
holiday weekend. >> thanks for joining us. nightly news is next. more local news at 6:00. we'll see you then. good night. the stores. the question is are the deals as good as they seem and are they worth the fight? ready or not. on this night before the newest deadline for the government's health care website, what the administration is saying to all those who might try to log on. the longest war. richard engel tonight with u.s. troops in afghanistan where a much-needed holiday break didn't last long and came to a sudden end. and those who serve. for a job that requires heavy lifting, employers are finding it pays to turn to those who carried the load in the past. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. in some places across this
country tonight it's as if someone announced we are in danger of running out of stuff and those who need stuff better buy it now because it is going away forever. it is that day on the yearly calendar when people in recovery from thanksgiving head out to be part of a massive crowd streaming through malls and stores, in some cases whipped into a crazed, violent frenzy. however much web retailing has taken hold in this country forever, today was devoted to old-fashioned shopping from one end of the country to the other. here is the scene live at the mall of america in minnesota and the park meadows mall outside of denver. then there is john yang in chicago to start us off. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. early indications are that the big box store strategy of opening earlier on thursday may have paid off for them. but is it working out for shoppers? [ cheers ] >> reporter: this year, the
bargain hunters came in waves, starting thursday. >> happy thanksgiving! >> reporter: into today leaving some shoppers exhausted, others invigorated. >> keep calm and go shopping. >> yeah! >> reporter: on youtube amateur videos show black friday shopping can be a contact sport. >> this idea that other consumers might be getting a deal or getting a sale or paying less money for something we also want to buy is a very motivating factor. >> reporter: early numbers suggest a strong start. 97 million americans said they planned to shop today, up from 89 million last year. between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. last night walmart said it had more than 10 million cash register transactions. 2.8 million towels, 2 million televisions, 1.9 million dolls. >> it seems like the shoppers started with electronics at the big box stores, moved to apparel at the department stores as the day wore from thursday to friday.
>> the deals were good. i had 50% off of everything i bought. you can't get these deals anywhere except for black friday. >> reporter: analysts say, buyer beware. were these products designed to sell at this price? >> absolutely. retailers are planning year round what to sell, working with manufacturers. >> reporter: according to nerdwallet.com macy's is promoting a blender for $26.94. it sold for almost $7 less during their veterans day sale. kmart is advertising a 60-inch tv for $799.99, the same price as the labor day sale. in response, macy's says it has compelling promotions throughout the year. kmart says they offer great deals not just on one day. for some it is as much about excitement as deals. outside miami, 18-year-old amanda lopez hit the mall with friends. >> i got mama's credit card. i'm going to rack it up.
this is the first time i do this. so it should be a great experience. >> reporter: analysts say in-store deals are also available online without the crowds and without the temptation of impulse buys that the aren't on sale. brian? >> john yang starting us off in chicago tonight. john, thanks. now to the ongoing troubles of the obama care website and the ongoing effort to get it running better and at greater capacity. that deadline is tomorrow. today the administration was trying to limit expectations once again. we get the latest from white house correspondent kristen welker. kristen, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. with just hours before the administration's self-imposed deadline of having its health care website working for most americans by the end of tomorrow, top officials were hedging their bets today. health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius today blogged that people should
shop healthcare.gov during off-peak hours, morning, nights, weekends. not a vote of confidence says luke chung. >> it tells me the system isn't fully baked. this system should be able to accommodate as many people that want to get on as possible. >> what i'm going to do is make sure we get it fixed. >> reporter: chung says the administration's goal of making sure the website can support 50,000 users at one time by the end of saturday is not the best way to measure success. >> 50,000 is not a number that is unheard of for websites to be able to support at one time. so i think the challenge is not just the number of users but whether there are still bugs in the system that will prevent the process from running smoothly. >> reporter: late this afternoon a health care official said the site can support close to 50,000 users now and cited other
progress, the error rate once 6% has dropped to less than 1%. the website now operates much more quickly. the website used to take eight seconds for a page to load. now just milliseconds. >> what do they want to talk to me about? >> reporter: meanwhile, today the white house tweeted a video encouraging an adult son to sign up. >> we love you, but it's the time to get covered. >> that's it? health insurance. >> reporter: part of the plan to get young healthy people to enroll. but if the website doesn't work soon, that critical group used to getting whatever it wants with a click could be dissuaded. one more reason this administration is trying to keep the anticipation for tomorrow's deadline in check. >> one reason they have kept it nebulous enough that they will say, yes, we did meet the goals. >> reporter: the administration declined today to say exactly how many users the website can support now.
to put into context the goal of 50,000 users at once, that's the size of floyd casey stadium in waco, texas, where the baylor bears play football. brian? >> all comes down to sports thanksgiving weekend. kristen welker from the white house north lawn. kristen, thanks. another issue the u.s. is watching closely tonight is playing out half a world away and has echoes of another era, something closer to the cold war. it's a dispute between china and japan over ownership of a group of islands in the east china sea. china recently announced it would restrict the air space over them. since then tensions have been rising as the u.s. continues to fly military aircraft over the islands. our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski watching from our d.c. bureau tonight. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. for now both sides are drawing lines in the sky. but tensions could rapidly spin out of control. china scrambled fighter jets to intercept japanese war planes
which had flown into china's self-declared air defense zone. china set up the zone in international air space in an ongoing dispute with japan over ownership rights to a pair of contested islands. no american aircraft were involved today. but earlier this week the u.s. ignored china's self-imposed defense zone and flew two b-52 bombers right through it unchallenged without incident. the pentagon announced today the flights would continue. so far there's been no direct provocation or confrontation. but the fear is that as tensions escalate, somebody's going to fly too close or pull the trigger and a plane goes down. all this could come to a head next week when vice president joe biden travels to china. he's expected to raise the issue with chinese leaders. the white house refuses to say if biden will demand that china take down the defense zone. if china outright refused that
could only back the white house into a corner and raise the stakes even higher. >> our pentagon corrpondent jim miklaszewski tonight. jim, thanks. as the civil war in syria grinds on a new report from the u.n. says at least half the refugees, more than a million of them, are children with three-quarters under the anyone of 12. as for the children who remained in syria, their plight was shown in a video from a rebel group shot in the suburb of damascus that includes an incredible moment, a part of life in a dangerous place. [ speaking in foreign language ] [ explosion ] >> happened during the interview. the children, two boys and a girl, were thrown to the ground but were apparently unharmed by the incoming shell. they were seen smiling in the video a short time later. in afghanistan today, a close call for members of a u.s. ar my unit. it brought a sudden and violent end to their brief thanksgiving break.
it's a real reminder of the danger facing u.s. forces. as their military campaign winds down and they prepare to make their exit, in some cases under incoming fire. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel was there at forward operating base torcom in eastern afghanistan. >> reporter: thanksgiving felt long over this morning for third platoon chaos company. 10th mountain division. blacks on, weapons ready, radios checked. >> the mission is always priority. >> reporter: today the job was a pral by the pakistani border. gabriel was the platoon sergeant. >> you see different people. [ shouting ] >> get down. >> go, go, go! >> reporter: incoming. the men sprinted to a bunker. first priority, roll call. >> here, sir. >> reporter: make sure nobody still out there exposed or worse. >> you got your people?
>> reporter: some soldiers were sleeping and showed up shirts off. flak jackets thrown on, in flip-flops. the soldiers think that was an incoming rocket. they've all been accounted for, now they're just waiting for the all clear. >> all clear! >> reporter: they filed out. the patrol was still a go. u.s. troops are still under fire here as the united states draws down from this war. a chinook arrived on base while third platoon was out. it spun expertly into position, hovered, and lifted away old weapons. they will head back to the states. specialist paul catern will head hope, too, this winter back to his two boys. ♪ >> reporter: his wife ali in indiana sends lots of pictures of them. >> they're goofballs, but great kids. >> reporter: third platoon returned. their patrol was quiet. >> another day. another mission down. >> reporter: but soon they're back in the bunker. another rocket.
to ease tension they played the squad fight song. ♪ take me home tonight >> reporter: but what the troops here don't do much anymore is head out and chase down their attackers. >> would we want to? maybe. that's not our mission. >> reporter: this is supposed to be a training mission now. but evidently nobody has told that to the enemy. richard engel, nbc news, fire base torcom, afghanistan. breaking situation we're watching overseas tonight. the crash of a police helicopter into a crowded pub in scotland. joe fryer is watching this for us tonight. good evening. >> reporter: there is a likelihood of fatalities although no word on casualties. it crashed into the pub on a busy friday night. two police officers and a civilian pilot were on the helicopter. now a rescue operation is
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clues to an epidemic affecting waters from alaska to southern california causing millions of starfish to fall apart and melt away. >> our group is looking to try to map the timing of the onset of the disease and locations of the disease up and down the coast so it will help us point to causes. >> reporter: the die-off decimated the starfish population in this cove. two species that used to thrive here have now vanished. sea stars, commonly known as starfish, are natural predators feeding on mussels and clams that can tip this fragile eco-system out of balance. >> are you worried this could be the canary in the coal mine? >> absolutely. >> reporter: dr. michael murray says the disease penetrated the filtration system at the monterrey bay aquarium. >> we draw the water from the bay. whatever is in the water is affecting our animals as well. >> reporter: it's happened before. in the '80s and '90s starfish
wasting disease knocked out pockets of these creatures in these very waters. nothing has been seen like this. now scientists are focused on warmer water, lower oxygen levels and ocean acidification as possible causes. nothing is off the table. >> i have had probably a hundred e-mails saying what about fukushima because of radiation? we haven't ruled it out. but we are clearly not ruling that in ft. >> reporter: the mysterious disease has now spread to at least ten species spread to at >> reporter: the mysterious disease has now spread to at least ten species spread to a. >> reporter: the mysterious disease has now spread to at least ten species spread to at >> reporter: the mysterious disease has now spread to at least ten species spread to at least ten species of starfish and is threatening more every day. miguel almaguer, nbc news, monterrey, california. and we're back in a moment with a damage report from the sun. you really love, what would you do?" ♪ [ woman ] i'd be a yoga teacher. [ man ] i'd be a baker. [ man ] i would be an activist for causes i believe in. [ man ] i wanna be a pilot. [ woman ] i wanna be a pie maker.
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they flew close to the ground. had the winds been higher they would have been grounded. there was one casualty. spider-man had an encounter with a tree, lost some of his usual arm strength in that left arm. we are happy to report he's resting comfortably in a warehouse in new jersey. astronomers' hopes have been so high lately because it looked like the comet ison would give us something special to see as christmas approaches. the caveat was the comet had to survive its slingshot route around the sun. after ison obituaries were written yesterday when it didn't look like it survived astronomers now say they see something. a bright spot, a as much visible indicating something survived. but perhaps not the show we were hoping for. that old chestnut from the world of sports goes like this. if you're not cheating, you're not trying. well, there sure is a lot of evidence from the world of sports lately that some head coaches are trying real hard. jason kidd, coach of the
brooklyn nets was fined $50,000 for this collision with one of his player. he spills his drink on the court. that needed to be cleaned up which took time, the time he needed to brief the team on a play he designed for the final seconds. what's worse, when you look at it real close, he sure appears to be saying "hit me." . about last night, jay koe by jones of the ravens reached cruising altitude on the sidelines where he's all but unstoppable. but there's mike tomlin watching the play on the jumbotron. he shouldn't be standing there. he steps on the field and off again. jones had to swerve, slow down, he was tackled. no touchdown and no penalty for tomlin so far. his steelers lost to the ravens last night. the first family today took delivery of the white house christmas tree. the traditional horse drawn wagon welcomed by the first lady, both daughters and both dogs. we learned of all the obamas it may be daughter sasha who will
have the most sway in the decision where the family will live when they leave the white house. the president told barbara walters because malia will be at college by then and because sasha will be in the midst of high school, that may keep them in washington after the presidency. the last president to do that was woodrow wilson. most first families can't wait to get out of town. when we come back here tonight, hiring those who already know what it means to serve. what it means to serve. she's always been able to brighten your day. it's just her way. but your erectile dysfunction - that could be a question of blood flow. cialis tadalafil for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet approved to treat ed and symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently or urgently. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure.
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finally tonight, think about how many times you have heard the message "hire a veteran." tonight we'll show you what that means. hiring somebody who knows how to get things done, respects the chain of command, doesn't scare easily. one community realized those are ideal characteristics for the job of firefighter. now when there is help wanted, they know who to turn to. our report tonight from nbc's katie tur. >> reporter: for most probationary firefighters or probies as the rookies are called, training to jump out of a window can be intimidating. for scott, this is nothing. >> when i went down i wanted to pack it up and go again.
it's fun. that's a parallel this job has to the military. >> reporter: he would know. army staff sergeant and his fellow probies are veterans of iraq and afghanistan. philip johnny was in the air force. what was it like when you found out you got this job? >> i was ecstatic. when he heard i was a firefighter he was jealous. >> reporter: i thought cops don't like firefighters? >> that's why he was jealous. >> reporter: new jersey's north hudson fire department brought on 11 vets in 2012. it was such a success it hired 32 this year and hopes to hire as many as 20 more before the year's out. the chief says putting vets on top of the hiring list was a no-brainer. >> they are very disciplined, young, aggressive, energetic men. they have been working out well. >> reporter: so well, in fact, it's hard to believe any of these guys would have had trouble finding work.
that's what happened to lance corporal frank phillips after a tour as a marine corps gunner in baghdad, he was turned away from at least ten jobs. >> they would hire, you know, joe schmo off the street. here i am. a disabled veteran, trying to get a job and they turn you away. >> reporter: for phillips and the rest, the department is more than just a reliable paycheck. >> we're tight. i have 32 other brothers with the academy. if i have a problem i know one of them would be at my door, pounding it down if i have a problem. >> reporter: from serving our country to our communities. >> instead of taking lives, we're saving them now. and they pay me for it. i don't know. that's all i can say. >> reporter: for them it's a chance to do what they do best. >> i'm a firefighter now. i will be until they won't let me do it anymore. >> reporter: katie tur, nbc news, north hudson, new jersey. >> that's why they say hire a veteran. and that's our broadcast on
this post-thanksgiving friday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be with you this weekend. we, of course, hope to see you right back here on monday night. in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. nbc bay area news starts now. >> right now at 6:00, a wage protest on black friday led to arrests and a chaotic scene in the east bay. and similar situations are being reported at walmart stores nationwide. i'm diane dwyer. raj and jessica are off tonight. tonight, walmart employees joined forces with workers rights groups at 1500 walmart locations nationwide. they are trying to call attention to what they say is a policy of poverty for tens of thousands of employees. happening now, there are arrests and traffic delays near walmart in san leandro and nbc's bay
area kimberly tere joins us with the latest from there. >> hi, diane. that protest is just wrapping up here at the walmart in san leandro. this is just one of many protests going on today at an estimated 1500 walmart locations across the nation. and some of these protests including this one in san leandro resulted in arrests. walmart workers and supporters are taking advantage of black friday and the crowds hoping to bring attention to what they say are unfair labor practices. >> this is our country's largest employer and about two-thirds of the workers make less than $25,000 a year. and that's just not enough to put food on the table. >> reporter: protesters are demanding what they call a living wage. >> walmart needs someone to come in here and police them evidently because they -- we're not all on the same page. they say one thing. we say another. we say they pay