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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 18, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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that at 6 p.m. >> happy new year. >> lester holt is next. >> see you at 6:00. >> good night. on the broadcast tonight, polar express. dangerous subzero temperatures across a huge part of the country. so many roofs collapsing crews can barely keep up. also tonight, losing control on icy roads from north to south. what to do and what not to do in that moment of paninic. sudden blast of explosion tears through a california oil refinery. residents from miles away say it felt like an earthquake. tonight, the tangled mess of wreckage and the investigation. what happened? and new revelations as the defense lays out its case of the american sniper trial in texas. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york this is "nbc nightly news."
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reporting tonight, lester holt. good evening. it just keeps coming. winter's parade of misery from snow bound new englanders at their wit's end to snow and ice in the normally mild south. and now the next shoe, or should we say snowshoe to drop. the rush of arctic cold sweeping from the other side of the north pole through the great lakes. tonight, places like chicago and milwaukee are already in the single digits. and the northeast and south won't be far behind with temperatures 25 to 35 degrees below average tomorrow. in so many places life as people know it is frozen in time. paralyzed transportation, it's knocked out power and put a lot of people in some very real danger. nbc's tom costello is on it for us tonight. >> reporter: from a frozen niagra falls and lake erie in the north to snow in the south, the eastern third of the country is locked in the deep freeze with even colder temps on the way. in eastport, maine, they've had a record of 109 inches of snow
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in just 23 days. >> it's pretty much overwhelming. and we have another storm coming soon. it's going to be difficult. it's going to be tough to handle. >> reporter: all of that snow is pulling down roofs and flooding homes. outside of boston, roofer rich mellow's phone is ringing every three to five minutes. >> and you're running the gamut of people suffering a little leak to severe leaks all throughout their homes. >> reporter: in baltimore today, a water main break froze a car to the street. in chicago where they're shivering through the coldest february since 1875. >> black ice very dangerous. >> reporter: letter carrier nicole easter is still on her appointed rounds. >> it's a nuisance sometimes trying to maneuver this cart through the snow and ice like this. >> reporter: meanwhile, more than 100 record lows forecast for the morning. minus 15 in marquette, michigan. minus 12 in lexington, kentucky. even minus 2 in nashville where ice has been pulling down power lines and shutting down much of the deep south. >> the last 60 hours it's been chaotic. >> reporter: the weather channel's mike bettes. >> the frigid air comes courtesy of siberian express. cold arctic air from russia
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traveling 5,000 miles over the north pole, over cold snow pack and going as far south as the gulf coast. >> reporter: for millions of americans snowed in, something called snow stress depression can set in. >> day after day after day it becomes chronic stress. and it begins to deplete the body's resources. we're not as strong. the immune system begins to fail a little bit, and we get sick. >> reporter: one warning tonight from the mayor of boston. there may be record amounts of snow on the ground, but don't try this at home. here in washington we're going down to 10 degrees tonight and then the bottom falls out. overnight with windchill 10 below zero. and then friday 20 below zero. we're also expecting dangerous conditions on the road. by the way, amtrack has already modified service in the northeast because of the extreme cold, lester. >> tom, thanks very much. bottom falls out. al roker, that doesn't sound good. >> no, it doesn't, lester. it's not going to get better for a while. temperatures 50 below in siberia
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where this cold air is banked up. what happens between low pressure up at the pole, a high strong western high that will pump in that air, that frigid bitterly cold air makes its way, the siberian air, funneled into the u.s. so for tomorrow morning, we've got windchill warnings, windchill watches from the dakotas all the way down into florida. detroit will get down to 4 below, probably tie a record. louisville will break a record most likely. philly, washington, d.c., down in the mid-atlantic states. as far south friday morning as florida, miami will see a low of 39 breaking an old record of 42 degrees. clipper coming across now bringing some light snow. more misery to new england. by tonight, between bangor and portland we could see a foot to a foot and a half of snow, lester. and there's another big storm developing saturday night into sunday with severe weather and heavy snow possible. >> see you in the morning on
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"wake up with al" and on "today." investigators on the scene of a massive explosion at an oil refinery in southern california. it happened just before 9:00 this morning in torrance south of l.a. smoke and ash could be seen for miles. joe fryer is working the story for us tonight. >> reporter: the thunderous explosion at the exxon mobil refinery was so strong. >> my house shook. >> reporter: many thought they were in an earthquake. >> you could just feel the vibration. it literally felt like just a pulse going through your body. a sonic boom going. >> reporter: the blast ripped apart buildings and damaged cars on refinery grounds. four workers received minor injuries. >> it was a gasoline processing unit where the explosion occurred. >> reporter: but it's unclear why it happened. exxon mobil says we will conduct a thorough investigation of the cause of this event. >> it's pretty good size flare-up there. >> reporter: after the explosion a giant flame burned atop the
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refinery's flare stack. it's like a safety valve releasing pressure when there's a problem. neighbors see the flares on occasion but say this was bigger than normal. >> i just saw the flames going up in the refinery. and i saw some ash starting to drop. >> reporter: many noticed the ash falling from the sky. this car coated in soot was 2 1/2 miles from the refinery. no harmful air emissions have been detected, but officials did issue a smoke advisory. >> you can see the big clouds in the air and i thought, yeah, this is a good time to come in and close the doors and windows. >> reporter: students at 13 schools were initially told to stay inside, but that order was lifted within three hours of the blast. tonight, the refinery is still operating, but state investigators have shut down the unit where the explosion happened until a cause is determined. right now it is unclear whether this will have a big impact on production and gas prices in this part of the country. lester? >> all right, joe. thank you. fire continues to burn at the site of that train derailment in west virginia.
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over 48 hours since it happened. the train was carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil when it flew off the tracks on monday. initial tests do not show any water contamination, but some people remain under a boil water advisory just in case. turning overseas to iraq where isis launched another wave of attacks only to be met with fierce resistance on the ground. but isis is relentless both on the battlefield and in the atrocities it commits on videotape for the world to see. we get the latest tonight from our chief foreign correspondent richard engel. >> reporter: isis is spreading like a virus. and months of u.s.-led air strikes don't seem to be containing it. in libya, isis has been showing its strength. the group beheaded 21 egyptian christians. one of the executioners speaking in english with an american accent. >> recently seen us -- >> reporter: egypt hit back with its own air strikes. isis says italy will be next. security's already been beefed up at st. peters.
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but the biggest advances and reportedly the worst atrocities have come where washington claims to be making the most progress, in iraq, which is starting to look like a failed state. in the north we saw firsthand last week how kurdish forces have been under attack. today, near the city of erbil, they turned back a major isis assault. in central iraq, where isis captured the town of al baghdadi, iraqi officials claim as many as 48 of their fighters were burned alive by militants. it's unconfirmed by u.s. officials, but it reportedly happened just five miles from a base where hundreds of u.s. marines are deployed as advisers. but why the spread? isis is moving into all the cracks in the middle east, the unresolved conflicts in iraq,
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libya, the sinai, syria and gaza. this is not a problem that can be droned away. the isis virus is consuming the middle east, infecting europe and showing no sign of stopping there. richard engel, nbc news. >> the threat from this type of violent extremism has prompted officials from 60 countries to gather at the white house for a three-day summit. and in his remarks today, president obama appeared to choose his words very carefully. our chris jansing is at the white house for us tonight. chris, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. late today the president announced an extensive defense at linking terrorism to the muslim faith. he does not use the term islamic extremism, even though critics say that's at odds with reality. >> al qaeda and isil and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. they try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of islam. they are not religious leaders. they're terrorists.
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[ applause ] and we are not at war with islam. we are at war with people who have perverted islam. >> reporter: the president also acknowledged the success terrorists have had in recruiting including here in the u.s. he used the term brainwashing. today, community leaders from minneapolis, boston and los angeles talked about their pilot programs to intervene before young people are radicalized. some muslims, though say they are being unfairly stigmatized and they suspect the program could be just a cover to spy on them. one example of the complexity of fighting this war even in american cities. lester. >> chris jansing tonight, thank you. one more note from washington, the president has picked interim secret service director joseph clancy to lead the service exclusively. he was selected despite the recommendation of an independent panel that the president choose someone from outside the agency. following a series of embarrassing security breaches in recent years including an armed intruder who got over the
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fence and deep into the white house. despite a fragile cease-fire in ukraine, a violent struggle over a key railroad hub has forced ukrainian defenders to retreat, leaving the city in the hands of pro-russian rebels. fighting has raged in that city even after the truce agreement was supposed to go into effect at midnight monday. now to the "american sniper" trial and the first full day for the defense to lay out its side of the case. trying to convince the jury that the man accused of gunning down chris kyle was legally insane at the time of the shooting. nbc's jacob rascon is covering the trial for us in stephenville, texas. >> reporter: the days leading up to the crime were bizarre. eddie ray routh's former girlfriend told the jury he threatened her with a ninja sword and called her a demon. he heard voices and saw things and even asked her to marry him the night before the killings. in the morning, they fought and routh smoked pot with his uncle until chris kyle showed up. routh shot kyle and chad
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littlefield at a texas gun range and drove to his sister's. the person who came to my house, his sister told the jury, was not who i know is my brother. routh told her, "he killed two guys" and "sold his soul for a pickup." before routh drove away leading police on a chase, his sister told him "i love you, but i hate your demons." all evidence the defense hopes will convince the jury routh is not guilty by reason of insanity. >> the standard is high and it should be if you think about it. there's really no issue about whether routh murdered these two young men or not. it's whether he was insane or not at the time of the offense. >> reporter: routh's sister also told the jury she begged her brother to turn himself in, but he had other plans telling her he wanted to escape to oklahoma. next up the jury will hear testimony from mental health experts. and closing arguments are expected to be given as early as monday, lester.
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>> all right, jacob, thanks. in yet another hint he's going to run for president in 20106, jeb bush gave a major speech about the dangers confronting america around the world. but it wasn't just about that. it was also an attempt to set himself apart from two other men named bush who have served in the oval office. nbc's peter alexander with more now. >> reporter: in chicago today jeb bush juggled dueling themes on foreign policy and family legacy, blasting president obama's leadership. >> under this administration we are inconsistent and indecisive. >> reporter: and trying to distance himself from bushes before him. >> i love my brother. i love my dad. i actually love my mother as well. i hope that's okay. but i'm my own man. and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences. >> reporter: but it's george w. bush's experience invading iraq more than a decade ago that still casts a long shadow. aides say jeb bush is consulting with 20 veterans of past bush
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administrations, among them james baker and paul wolfowitz. jeb bush outlined a muscular foreign policy including a fight against isis. >> taking them out is the strategy. there's no talking about this. that's just not going to work for terrorism. >> reporter: until now the former florida governor's been mostly on board with his brother's policies. >> i'm the only republican that was in office when he was in office as president that never disagreed with him. and i'm not going to start now. >> reporter: the bush bloodlines run deep. after barbara bush said this to nbc news two years ago. >> there's other people out there that are very qualified. and we've had enough bushes. >> reporter: last week she insisted she changed her mind, skyping into an event while her son was speaking. [ inaudible ] >> reporter: today jeb bush acknowledged mistakes with his brother's iraq policy, but he credited his brother for the surge in iraq calling it one of
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the most heroic acts of political courage by any president. peter alexander, nbc news, chicago. there is a lot more ahead here tonight. cars flying off the road all over the place as tens of millions deal with conditions they rarely encounter. we're behind the wheel with the surprising things you should and shouldn't do when you lose control. and later, we're along for the victory lap today after an upset victory. the new queen of westminster takes new york.
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when so much of the country is sitting at below freezing as we mentioned earlier, getting , as we mentioned earlier, getting from point a to point b can suddenly become a death defying feat. you may only have a split second to react when your car skids on an icy road. but your first instinct isn't necessarily the right one as nbc's jeff rossen is about to demonstrate. >> reporter: frightening moments behind the wheel, fishtailing, no control. just as scary, when the wreck is coming right toward you. from sedans to semis, this truck skidding out. missing other cars by just feet. and that's the danger too. swerving into traffic. look at this car spinning all over the road. seconds later an oncoming car smashes into it. this week icy roads are wreaking havoc again. >> we're driving, the car starts spinning out of control.
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>> reporter: so what do you do if you're caught in a skid? we're in maryland at the specially designed ice driving course. >> whoa. >> our instructor, tom pecoraro, a former police officer and certified driving instructor. >> oh, boy. we're spinning right now. >> yeah. so that was 16 miles per hour. >> reporter: when we start driving again, i hit another patch of ice and make a classic mistake. >> two worst things you can do. you jammed on the brake and you jerked the wheel. >> what am i supposed to do? >> get off the brake, get off the accelerator, straighten the wheel and ride it out. >> it goes against conventional wisdom, i want to stop the car. >> that's what everybody wants to do but that's the worst thing you can do. >> reporter: flat roadways are dangerous enough covered in ice, but how about when you're on a hill. what happens if my car starts sliding down backwards? >> stay off the brake. >> reporter: stay off the brake? >> stay off the brake. roll back, look over your shoulder and steer to a safe location.
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>> reporter: important tips especially this winter when the ice and snow just won't stop. whoa. whoa. jeff rossen, nbc news, germantown, maryland. when we come back, caught on camera. what was that fire in the sky so many people reported seeing?
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there is news tonight in the fight against breast cancer. a new cocktail of drugs is proving successful at buying patients with a hard to treat deadly form an extra 16 months of life on average. doctors now rushing to make the combination standard therapy for that breast cancer. we put much more information on our website. the university of massachusetts amherst is changing a controversial decision of banning iranian nationals from entering science programs. by law they were not permitted to study here if they plan to work in iran and in nuclear related fields. amherst claims following the law
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on a case-by-case basis was too complicated and issued a blanket ban which drew accusations of discrimination. an amazing sight in the skies over pennsylvania, new york and ohio when suddenly night turned into day at about 4:50 tuesday morning. nasa says this fireball flying at 45,000 miles an hour is a meteor, about 500 pounds from the asteroid belt between jupiter and mars flaring brighter than a full moon. when we come back, forget snoopy for now. this is now the most famous beagle in america.
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a 4-year-old beagle named miss p won best in show at westminster last night. only the second beagle ever to take the title. she's had a busy victory lap today. nbc's rehema ellis caught up with her. >> reporter: she entered as the underdog in a crowded field of 2,700 competitors. but in a stunning upset. >> my choice for the best in show is the beagle. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: the 4-year-old miss p comes from regal stock. she's the grand niece of the only other beagle to win at the
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annual westminster dog show. her official name, a mouthful. >> grand champion cashish looking for trouble. >> reporter: will alexander, her handler, says simply known as miss p, she's now the talk of the town. >> e-mail, messages, everything. it's overwhelming how much we're getting. my phone keeps dying. >> reporter: today, a winner's tour of new york city from the top of the empire state building, to tv appearances. even a brief encounter with the "today" show pup wrangler. >> maybe there will be a love connection in the orange room with wrangler. >> reporter: and lunch at world famous sar -- she faced the paparazzi with patience. until it was chow time, steak on a silver platter. >> she always thought she was the one, but she didn't know she was a star. >> reporter: i think she knows it now.
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>> oh, she knows it. >> reporter: next miss p heads home to british columbia, retirement and mother hood and a chance to breed another best in show. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. that will do it for us tonight on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. i was just so happy to get it back. >> right now at 6:00, a spike in stolen cars in san jose but it's what criminals are doing with the cars that has police on alert. good evening, thank for joining us. >> in the last three days there have been roughly 90 cars stole nn san jose. that's just the beginning. we're in one of the hot spots along story road. damien what did you see today? >> reporter: five of the car
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threats happened right here in joets over the last three days as you mentioned. these cars are just one of several examples of the spike in burglary in san jose. san jose place stormed the avenue today, arresting one man, charge him with stealing this white honda accord. >> i was so happy to get it back. >> reporter: the car's owner showed up 20 minutes later after getting a call from police. his honda was taken on friday. >> i woke up one morning to go to the store and my car was stolen. there was no broke. glass. i called the police and they said that hondas like that are easy to steal. >> reporter: this was the fifth stolen car recovered in san jose today. police say the crooks are using the stolen cars primarily for one thing. >> what we've seen recently is a little bit of an uptick in the vehicles being used for residential burglaries commercial burglaries. >>