tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 6, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
but today the u.s. postal service says delivering the mail on saturdays must stop. if they are to survive. it's one of two american institutions in the news tonight for differing reasons in changing times. we want to begin tonight with nbc's tom costello in glen echo, maryland. tom, good evening. >> reporter: hi, brian, no secret the postal service is up to its neck in red ink, handling 30 billion fewer pieces of first class mail today than just four years ago. and guess what? delivery of packages booming because we're all buying stuff online. this action is about just trying to keep the lights on. for people all over america, like 71-year-old lois sexton in tennessee, that mailbox at the end of the driveway has been a reliable connection to the rest of the world. >> that's my communication with the people i have my retirement with, my social security. >> reporter: since 1863, six days a week, rain or shine, letters, bills, government checks, newspapers, even movies, have arrived, even on saturday.
now the 21st century with its e-mail, e-cards and e-pay, has come knocking. >> we cannot put our head in the sand and say, geez, let's hope this problem goes away. hope is not a strategy. >> reporter: calling the financial situation urgent, the postmaster general today announced that starting in early august, six-day service would go to five. saturday mail delivery would end, but packages of all size would still be delivered on saturday, including medicines. post offices would remain open, and post office boxes would still receive mail. >> we have a small business. so, you know, a lot of our packages and first class mail does come on saturdays. >> i think they should have done it a long time ago. >> they are making a difficult decision for their survivability. >> it is all about surviving. the postal service hopes the cuts will help it save some $2 billion annually after losing nearly $16 billion last year. of that, $11 billion went to fund future retiree medical benefits, something that is required of no other government agency.
>> it's time to provide postal reform. the postal service is bleeding red ink. >> reporter: but for years, the service has failed to act. now the postmaster general is using a loophole in the current stopgap funding measure to act on his own. >> i'm concerned that this decision has been taken out of the hands of the congress. >> facing economic realities by the post office is the first step toward delivering a 21st-century product. >> reporter: at the crossroads of tradition, history and technology. the letter carriers' union, as well as some businesses, don't like this plan, but the postal service says that's already cut 28% of its work force, 200 mail processing centers, and 21,000 routes over the last few years. it's not enough. brian? >> tom costello, starting us off in glen echo, maryland tonight. tom, thanks. now to the other american institution facing a very big change. tonight the boy scouts of
america have put off a decision on changing their policy on admitting gay scouts and scout leaders. the organization's board of directors which was set to vote on the issue today instead delayed any consideration of a change for at least three months. an explanation tonight from nbc's pete williams. >> we all need to repent -- >> reporter: outside boy scout headquarters in dallas, scouting parents brought their children, opposing any change and relieved by the delay. >> the membership is very against this. and instead you've got a little group that doesn't really represent us trying to make a decision that's going to affect all of us. >> reporter: scouting's board of directors today put off until may a scheduled vote on a plan to end the national ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders and let individual scout troops decide the issue for themselves. in a written statement, the boy scouts said because of an outpouring of feedback and complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy. scouting insiders say the board did not have the votes to pass it today. with a raging debate inside the boy scout community, both sides
demand a greater voice. today's postponement comes as a new quinnipiac university poll shows 55% of national respondents support a change. 33% oppose. the delay is a disappointment eric andrayson of san francisco, whose son ryan did all the work to make eagle rank, but the scouts denied it to him because he's gay. >> society isn't going to tolerate discrimination anymore. and putting this decision off for three more months isn't going to change the conversation. it isn't going to change the need to change their policy. >> reporter: a very different view from salt lake city, where the mormon church sponsors 99% of local scout troops. parents there, scouting leaders say, overwhelmingly oppose a change. >> and we want to best reflect the feelings of the institutions here locally that sponsor scouting and we need time to put that together. >> reporter: now both sides are hoping that time is on their side. pete williams, nbc news, washington. and we turn now to weather
in the news. a lot of folks on the east coast, especially in new england, are all riled up for the potential arrival of a big snow-making weather system. weather channel meteorologist jim cantore is with us tonight. jim, what's on the way? >> yeah, hey, brian. this on the 35th anniversary of the famous blizzard of '78 which pretty much shut down boston. right now boston under a blizzard watch. i expect others to follow. portland, southern new hampshire, even parts of connecticut i think as confidence grows in the forecast. in play thursday, chicago and atlanta. we will have issues there, obviously, at the airports. by 5:30 friday morning, this model says, hey, it will be snowing to new york. but we expect a changeover. the big question is, how much of a changeover. that makes new york's forecast very, very tricky. by friday night, into saturday morning, blizzard conditions throughout new england. a crippling snowstorm and the impact here. confidence for at least 2 feet there. the big question is, do we see that 6 to 12-inch area come down to new york city. that is a possibility, brian.
>> jim cantore, where they will be busy at weather channel headquarters over the next couple days. jim, thanks. this snowstorm, an important reminder here, is going to fall on parts of a region still torn up from hurricane sandy. tens of thousands of people up and down the shoreline are still forced out of their damaged or destroyed homes. and though new federal aid is about to start flowing, it's been a long, hard, cold and challenging four months. nbc's anne thompson is with us tonight from staten island in new york where they have been waiting for help for a good long time. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. these neighborhoods are effectively construction sites. the rebuilding process is under way, but many residents worry they won't have the money to finish the job. the american red cross still delivers lunches in the new door beach neighborhood, 101 days after sandy ravaged staten island. >> water, sandwiches and snacks. >> reporter: 350 lunches a day
to workmen and residents. it's where david goldberg gets his meals. >> thank you. >> reporter: the computer consultant is a de facto contractor. overseeing the renovations of the home he shares with his elderly parents. they now stay in new jersey, while goldberg camps here, fighting for a $10,000 grant from the state, money he says he needs to rebuild the kitchen. >> that's the difference between doing the kitchen the way that we want to do it and just not doing it at all. >> reporter: stephanie, her two children and husband, are still crammed in a one-bedroom basement apartment. their home is nowhere near habitable. >> when will you get back in? >> once the insurance claims go through, the contractor said he could probably have me back in here by june. >> reporter: turned down for one federal loan, she needs that insurance money. >> i do get breakdowns, but i pick myself back up and i have to keep going. >> reporter: 101 days in, 41,000 people in neighboring new jersey are still displaced.
and some 9,000 in new york, where more than 3,400 residents spent last night in hotels. >> the national flood insurance plan has stunk. >> reporter: while many state politicians blast the federal response, fema says it's closed more than half of 140,000 flood insurance claims. paying out $3.8 billion. along with the frustration, there is also appreciation for the enormity of the task. new york city's rapid repair program has restored water, heat and power to 10,000 homes, including david goldberg's. >> can anybody ever imagine like the government would sponsor a program where they would come into your house, provide you a new boiler, a new water heater? it's remarkable. >> reporter: 101 days after the storm, it is clear that patience, as well as money, is needed to rebuild homes and lives. brian? >> anne thompson, along one part of our torn-up shoreline. thanks. president obama made an interesting choice for interior secretary today, nominating sally jewel to replace the
outgoing ken salazar. jewel is ceo of rei, the outdoor outfitter. she hasn't worked in government but was a chemical engineer for mobile and a banker in her earlier career. she'll oversee half a million federal acres. the president said she once took a month-long hike in the mountains of antarctica. the president confessed as a native hawaiian, given the cold, it's something that would never occur to him. the outgoing defense secretary said to students in a speech to georgetown, today, leon panetta warned of huge budget cuts looming for the pentagon if congress doesn't act. and he had some choice words for both sides blaming each for to reach an agreement to avoid cuts to our military. also generally what's happened lately to washington. >> thank you very much. this is not a game. this is reality. these steps would seriously
damage a fragile american economy, and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis, precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe. >> panetta served for 16 years, 8 terms. today he called the defense spending cuts legislative madness. the use of drones continues to make headlines tonight. after our nbc news report about the obama administration's use of drone strikes to target suspected terrorists overseas. that same technology is being used here at home, a lot. not to launch missile strikes of any kind, but as eyes in the sky for a local law enforcement and a lot of other uses. they've got a lot of folks concerned, and some states are moving to ban drones. our report tonight from nbc's john yang in chicago. >> reporter: while the alabama hostage crisis was under way in an underground bunker, authorities had a bird's-eye
view, an unarmed, remote control drone. but there's a growing backlash to the use of similar devices by law enforcement agencies. this week, virginia lawmakers passed what would be the nation's first restrictions on drones. and today in the florida senate, a ban on drones advanced. >> my view is that the government works for us. the government is there to serve us, to protect us. >> reporter: from california to maine, officials in at least 11 states are considering various restrictions. according to government data, drones are being used by more than 40 public agencies and institutions, including at least 17 federal, state and local law enforcement departments. >> it's smaller, it's more affordable, and it can be used to save lives. >> reporter: since 2005, they have patrolled the mexican border. in 2011, a drone was involved in the arrest of a north dakota man, believed the first time one was used that way. the idea that anyone walking down a street could be tracked by a drone with a camera, facial recognition technology, maybe even eavesdropping equipment alarms privacy advocates.
>> the issue is whether they're using a surveillance drone to monitor a city street for an unlimited amount of time. >> reporter: drones are also being used in other ways. anywhere an overhead view could be useful. farmers checking on crops and scientists studying wildlife. even hollywood uses them for overhead shots, as in last year's "skyfall." outside los angeles, a real estate agent uses a drone to shoot marketing videos. >> this allows a client to walk the entire property from -- really from their computer. >> reporter: a sales tool in realtors' hands, but in other hands, worries about who is watching what, and who. john yang, nbc news, chicago. coming up here, as we continue, why chris christie finds himself in a public fight over a private 30-year battle with weight gain. he fires back tonight at a former white house doctor who said she worries about him dying in office.
the body weight of the governor of new jersey is making national news tonight, in part because he has joked about it. he has talked about his struggle in a forthright way. but now the story also includes a former white house physician who happens to be a fan of the governor and what she said about the governor's weight that got his attention. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> basically, the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life. >> reporter: chris christie has heard it all before. he's overweight. he's heard and seen all the jokes. many on david letterman. >> the only organization to -- >> reporter: so for this week's face-to-face with dave, christie came armed with not one but two jelly doughnuts.
>> i have made jokes about you, not just one or two. not just ongoing here or there, intermittent. but -- >> i didn't know this was going to be this long. >> reporter: it's a constant challenge, the governor acknowledged again yesterday. >> the idea that somehow, you know, i don't care about this. of course i care about it. and i'm making the best effort i can. >> reporter: but then bill clinton's former white house doctor, a retired navy rear admiral weighed in on cnn. >> i'm a republican. so i like chris christie a lot. i want him to run. i just want him to lose weight. i'm a physician more than i'm a democrat or republican and i worry about this man dying in office. >> reporter: to the governor and his familythat was no joke. so he called the doctor today to sound off. >> that a doctor in arizona who has never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history, could make a diagnosis from 2,400 miles away is completely irresponsible. my children saw that last night. and she sat there on tv and said
i'm afraid he's going to die in office. my 12-year-old son comes up to me last night and says, "dad, are you going to die?" >> reporter: like christie, millions of americans, more than one-third of adults in the u.s., struggle with their weight. just look at the popularity of nbc's "biggest loser" and the first lady's "let's move" campaign. >> keep it up! >> reporter: tonight, dr. mariano replied, it doesn't take a physician to look at him to observe he's overweight. a healthy debate the governor seems to enjoy, up to a point. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. up next here tonight, did steven spielberg get something wrong? why a u.s. congressman is asking him to make a change to "lincoln." there's this island -- and it's got super-cute kangaroos.
barrow island has got rare kangaroos. ♪ chevron has been developing energy here for decades. we need to protect their environment. we have a strict quarantine system to protect the integrity of the environment. forty years on, it's still a class-a nature reserve. it's our job to look after them. ...it's my job to look after it. ♪ you are looking at what's the latest piece of debris from the japanese tsunami almost two years ago to wash up on our shores, at least. 30-foot-long boat found bottom-up on the sand at a central oregon beach. scientists say they're not all that worried about environmental
damage from this one. here's a contender for vacation video of the year. an arizona woman sight-seeing off the coast of mexico gets very close to some humpback whales. a female and her calf were playing with some seals, having a close encounter with a small boat, as if to show there was no harm done, the adult breached just feet from the tour boat for the photo of a lifetime. a connecticut congressman is asking steven spielberg for a correction in his movie "lincoln." he points out in the movie as congress voted to ratify the 13th amendment ending slavery, two of connecticut's elected representatives vote no. he says he loved the movie, but that bothered him, and congressman joe courtney checked the record, and, in fact, all of connecticut's representatives back then voted yes. no official reaction as of yet from the legendary director. well, it was put to a national vote on the web and social media and monopoly players have voted and a big
change is coming to the big board. the iron is out as a game piece. the cat is in. as dog-lovers scramble to compose a statement of reaction to the news, hasbro says the cat won out over a diamond ring, a guitar, helicopter and a robot. so there you have it. we're back in a moment with the countdown under way tonight, if you can believe it, for the winter olympic games.
you'll hear those trumpets exactly one year from tomorrow night, the beginning of the next winter olympics, now exactly a year off. we'll be in sochi, russia, a place nobody really knows anything about. so we get a scouting report tonight from nbc's jim maceda in sochi. >> reporter: welcome to sochi, host of the 2014 winter olympics. with a year to go on the countdown clock and temperatures in the mild 50s, citizens of this black sea resort, known more for its spas and palm trees, wonder why it was picked at all. i think it's pure show for putin on the international stage, she says. >> sochi is going to become a new world-class resort for the
new russia and the whole world. >> reporter: russian president vladimir putin has kept that pledge, surprisingly made in english, six years ago. and has turned this into an olympic park. running it like a ceo every step of the way. today, the ice rinks are completed and hosting international events. while in the mountains, just 30 miles away, sochi's ski jump and other alpine runs are primed. putin, an avid skier himself, is pleased. so are u.s. competitors here. >> hopefully a lot of people will make the journey and i think it's going to be an amazing olympics. >> reporter: it's already the most expensive games in olympic history. sochi had only one main road and no winter resort. the overall cost, $51 billion, split between the state and putin's rich friends. >> putin is a believer that we can do it, we can deliver the result, we can be the best place. >> reporter: but ordinary russians, like retired neighbors
aren't feeling the glory. in their village near the olympic park, there's no gas or plumbing, little power or heat. we are worth nothing in our own land, he says. and then there is sochi's location. beyond these mountains just behind me is chechnya, a hot bed of islamist militants, who have threatened to strike during the games. but putin's biggest enemy could be another mild winter. with so much of his and russia's prestige on the line, he has ordered mountains of snow stockpiled, just in case. jim maceda, nbc news, sochi. what could go wrong? sochi, here we come. that's our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. right now at 6:00 a person of interest identified. troubling new information tonight on the man who might be linked to one of the bay area's
most notorious unsolved missing child cases. and good evening. i am chief meteorologist jeff ranieri in the weather center. looks nothing lake winter outside right now with an incredible view from memoriville. when rain returns coming up in a few minutes. and a fiscal standoff in the south bay. how a fight over pay could end up having a big impact on public safety. good wednesday evening. thanks for joining us. i'm janelle wang in for jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. we begin with the biggest city, how much should san jose police officers be paid? the cops want a hefty raise and the city says it does not have the money. but there's more to this story. new details on the tense negotiations between the city and the police union. let's bring in kris sanchez from san jose city hall. kris? >> reporter: hi there, raj.
the union says the city walked away from the negotiating table though the mayor says both sides are talking. he's also already called for an arbitrator and an arbitration date so this could be very tough negotiating. san jose has fewer than 1,000 police officers on the streets, the lowest level of staffing in years, and some might argue the lowest morale. to change that the police union wants the city to turn back the clock on pay in the next contract. >> we're in our third year of getting back money. right now we're getting back 10% of our wages. this offer calls for an end to that starting in july followed a year later by a 3% raise and a year after that for a 3% raise. >> reporter: he says that has to happen if san jose wants to stem the tide of resignations. 139 sjd police officers left in the last 13 months. the mayor says the city can't afford it. >>