tv NBC Nightly News NBC January 6, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
when you drive by 101, you should be able to see that sign at the stadium. >> exciting. >> nightly news is next. we hope to see you back at 6:00. temperatures in decades sweeping across this country, even in the deep south where schools are closing because of it. and tonight it is colder in chicago than it is at the south pole. also tonight, grounded. at least one big name airline shutting down operations at at least one big airport because of the cold. and losing ground in iraq after the u.s. lost so much blood and treasure on the battlefield. now the u.s. watches as the al qaeda fighters appear to seize control of a big iraqi city. and can you hear me now? a long distance chat with two americans currently in space. who made that risky space walk tonight, the view from many 260 miles up. "nightly news" begins now.
good evening. every state with the exception of hawaii is forecast to experience freezing temperatures over the next 24 hours. schools in atlanta, georgia, have been cancelled for tomorrow because of the cold. a major airline is going to shut down operations at some big u.s. airports to give its system and its employees a chance to keep up with the cold. and that is just the start of the impact of what the weather folks are calling a polar vortex. a large sprawling counterclockwise weather system spreading record cold and reaching far to the south. up north it is possible to live your whole life in minnesota and never see temperatures this cold. and a lot of folks in nashville thought they would never see 11 degrees. oddly, it is colder in atlanta than it is in parts of maine tonight. we have it all covered, and we begin with nbc's kevin tibbles
in minneapolis. temperatures 15 below, windchill, minus 39. kevin, good evening. >> reporter: brian, this is the coldest weather many parts of this country have seen in 20 years. and even though the hearty folks here in the twin cities are used to sub zero temperatures, this could be a cold snap for the weather books. it is a brutal, biting and dangerous cold. >> stay home, don't come out. it's very, very, very cold. >> reporter: a frigid combination of arctic air and high winds brought wind chills of minus 56 degrees in places. schools in parts of 13 midwest states shut to keep students home and safe. many say they will remain closed tuesday. all this as much of the midwest digs out from under several feet of snow. chicago has had twice as much snow to date than it usually gets. here, commuter chaos, with frozen switches stopping trains in their tracks.
in indiana, overnight whiteouts responsible for dozens of pileups. today a long line of traffic sat for hours, waiting for the reopening of 65. as cold as ice in cleveland, the rock and roll hall of fame did not open. neither did the city's casino. and many ski areas decided it was too dangerous and halted the lifts. overnight, in st. paul, the firefighters braved minus 20 degree temperatures fighting a house fire. today, this firefighter suits up in the heavy gear he and others wear to reduce the risk of frost bite and hypothermia. what is your main concern? >> look out for one another, work together as a team. >> reporter: even the southern states are shivering. mississippi has had 60 straight hours of subfreezing temperatures. parts of georgia covered in snow. >> everyone is worried about the dropping temperatures. >> reporter: and a particularly
perilous time for the homeless. >> not very big. but this is our heater. >> reporter: this couple was found living next to the mississippi river, in minus 24 degree weather. >> i won't go stay in the shelter if i can't stay with him. >> reporter: the st. stevens shelter managed to find them a room in a local motel, but only until the latest blast of arctic air passes. and tonight, the twin city, brian, forecasting once again the temperatures could drop to about 19 or 20 degrees below zero, and that is dangerously cold. brian? >> all right, friend, inside for you. kevin tibbles starting us off from the twin cities. kevin, thanks. and this cold air has really messed up the air travel, not the grounding of planes post-9/11, or the grounding of planes following the european volcano, but it's bad nonetheless. 200,000 passengers had their plans changed by force today. 3500 flights were cancelled.
now jetblue says they will not fly in this cold at some of their bigger airports. anne thompson has more on all of it tonight from jfk here in new york. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. you know, this really is a miserable time to travel. almost every major domestic airline experienced cancellations or delays because of the polar vortex. and this evening, at new york's three major airports and boston logan, jetblue says it won't fly at all. the news that jetblue would not fly again in new york and boston until tomorrow morning is trying the patience of already weary travellers. >> everything was cancelled from here to jfk, nothing leaving jfk nothing leaving here. >> reporter: jetblue promises to be 100% operational by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, but says the overnight break will let them catch up, giving the crews badly needed rest after the weather turned the situation upside down.
>> this is the second time i've flown jetblue, and it will be the last. >> it is a little stressful. i'm going back into philly, i don't know when i will get out of here. >> reporter: across the country, flightaware report morse than 3700 flights were canceled by 5:00 p.m. tonight, impacting some 213,000 passengers. at chicago's o'hare airport, help is as rare as an on-time flight. >> a line which is about a mile long. can't get any information from anybody. the airlines basically won't even answer the phone anymore. >> i've been cancelled twice. and honestly, i mean, i have no idea when i will be able to get out of here. i just want to get back. i mean, i've been out in this airport for about 12 hours. exhausted. >> reporter: the situation is no better at the nation's smaller airports. hartford's bradley international does not expect improvement any time soon. >> if our arrivals do not come in late tonight which are our terminating flights we don't have the equipment here at the airport to make up the departures tomorrow.
>> reporter: now adding to the chaos, they're new rules that took effect saturday that require pilots to fly shorter periods of times and get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. add to that a little bad weather, and you can easily see how the careful choreography of airline schedules can get disrupted. brian? >> anne thompson from jfk in new york tonight, anne, thanks. as we said, part of why this news is how far south is stretching. schools closed in atlanta tomorrow. in nashville, the temperature has dropped more than 50 degrees since just last night. al roker is here in the studio with how bad this gets and how far south. al? >> well, brian, i've been doing it for 35 years, i don't ever remember something this widespread this far south. and it's not going to get better for at least the next 24 hours. this arctic outbreak of brutally
cold air is all due to the phrase we've all come to know and love over the last 24 hours, the polar vortex. it usually is up over the north pole. a weakening jet has let it break loose and come down to the south. it's basically an arctic hurricane funneling the clockwise winds. here's what we're looking for tonight. as the system makes its way down to the south, dangerously cold air all the way down into southern georgia and parts of northern florida. marquette tonight will feel like 35 degrees. 16 below in roanoke. 13 in new york city. chicago, 35 below. tomorrow morning's lows, wednesday's morning lows, look at this. it will feel like 3 below in new york city. roanoke, 10. 11 below in chicago. do we get some relief? well, here is what happens, by late in the week this polar vortex backward up to the north. and what that will allow is for it to finally break its grip. you will start to see the winds
come more zonal, from west to east. the pacific, the temperatures should get back to where they should be, upper 40s along the coast. the next thing we worry about is the major outbreak of lake-effect snow over the next 24 hours, brian. we're talking about snowfall amounts that are going to exceed three to four feet of snow between syracuse, new york, and watertown, my alma mater, oswego. right there in the middle of it. it is going to be rough. >> thankfully, we'll have good weather for college football in california, but that's about it as you look at the map. al roker, thank you, as always. and among those struggling to get flights, members of congress coming back to work in washington after a two-week break. first on the agenda for the senate, the confirmation of a new federal reserve chair, janet yellin by a vote of 56-26, she is the first woman to lead the fed in its 100-year history. tonight the supreme court has put a stop to same-sex marriages in utah, at least until a federal appeals court can decide this case. what is not known is the exact
legal status of almost a thousand gay and lesbian couples who have married just since mid-december in that state. liz cheney announced today she is dropping out of the race for a u.s. senate seat from wyoming. she says family health reasons are the reason she is giving up the bid against fellow republican mike enzi, and her campaign was fraught with problems almost from the start, including a very public argument with her sister who is gay over her opposition to same-sex marriage. overseas tonight, after almost nine years of fighting, over 4400 americans dead in iraq, more than 32,000 came home wounded, and so many will bear the scars of that war for the rest of their lives. u.s. fighting forces are gone from iraq, but as so many predicted when president bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again. we all learned about the city of fallujah during the war. well, now there are reports that
al-qaeda forces may have seized control of that city while threatening another. our report on all of it tonight from nbc's ayman mohyeldin. >> reporter: in broad daylight on the streets of fallujah, fighters linked to al-qaeda brazenly brandish their weapons, vowing to control iraq's sunni heartland, and warning they will punish anyone who sides with iraq's shiite-dominated government. for days, government forces have been fighting the sunni militants, killing them in forces as they flee in terror, not far from fallujah, iqi military convoys are taking up position, preparing for a major offensive against al qaeda militants who now control much of the city. fallujah, the same city u.s. troops fought and died to control in 2004. seven years after that battle, the last u.s. combat troops left iraq. >> this is an historic moment. a war is ending, a new day is
upon us. >> reporter: but some warned the u.s. withdrawal left a security vacuum. >> the united states shed great blood and treasure to secure iraq. to basically get rid of al qaeda. and almost now, two years, al qaeda is back. >> reporter: back and gaining momentum. the u.s. says it won't be sending in troops again. >> this is their fight, but we're going to help them in their fight. >> reporter: help in the form of military hardware, drones and missiles. >> we're accelerating our foreign military sales, deliveries, and looking to provide an additional shipment of hell fire missiles as early as this spring. >> reporter: hoping that will be enough to turn the tide. now, the conflict is not just about the battle inside iraq, this is obviously really focused on the conflict in neighboring syria, and what happens in syria is already spilling into across the region to neighboring countries such as lebanon and turkey. and at the core of it are two regional major powers, iran and
saudi arabia, and we're seeing them fighting in every one of these countries. >> increasingly dangerous, ayman mohyeldin back from the field. appreciate it as always. and still ahead, one month to go until the olympic games in sochi, russia, and today, more one of the biggest nonathletic controversies facing athletes and visitors alike.
a month to go until the winter olympics in sochi, russia, and as you are about to see, some of the drama surrounding some of the games has nothing to do with winter sports and everything to do with the host nation. tonight, we hear from people in russia who are at the center of this. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: even if the sochi games are a glowing success, russia's chance to shine on the world stage could already be tarnished. six months after the government passed a law on what it calls homosexual propaganda,
international outcry from activists and athletes grows. gold medal winner brian boitano is one of the three openly gay athletes in president obama's olympic delegation. >> i wanted to represent the country. and so part of that and part of that commitment to doing that is speaking about my sexuality when i get there. >> reporter: doing that comes with a certain level of risk. the russian government has said the law will stay on the books. in his state of the union address last month, russian president vladimir putin called the ban a defense against the genderless and infertile western intolerance. international pressure only seems to strengthen the russian leader's resolve. >> president putin does not recognize the right of any outside actors to analyze, criticize, and tell russia what is right or wrong in its domestic affairs. >> reporter: to the relatively few russians who are openly homosexual, life in that socially conservative country can be difficult. a recent study showed that 74%
of russians think homosexuality is not acceptable. 17-year-old slovski left high school after being bullied. he believes the new law is fuelling the hatred. >> now, our national tv channels openly portray gays as enemies of the state. >> reporter: the human rights watch says the international olympic committee is in a unique position to pressure the russian government. >> the ioc has been absolutely disappointing. the olympic charter describes the olympic movement as something that supports human dignity, equality. >> reporter: the ioc says it is not their role to question the domestic laws of the host nation, and has reminded athletes that political demonstrations are banned by the olympic charter. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. back in a moment with the new hire on one of the most popular and enduring shows on television that is getting a lot of attention tonight.
bush thankfully home from the hospital and just in time to celebrate her wedding anniversary, mrs. bush and her husband, the former president, hold the record for the longest married first couple in u.s. history, 69 years. barbara pierce bush, a descendant of president franklin pierce, married navy veteran george h.w. bush not knowing some day he would be known as 41. jimmy and rosalynn carter are in second place, celebrating their 68th anniversary in july. if you're a 20-year-old in boston, the mayor, during your lifetime, has always been named tom menino until today. marty walsh has taken office as the 48th mayor of boston, kicking off what promises to be an era of sweeping change after two decades of mayor menino. as the boston globe put it today, nothing happened in boston without menino's approval. and about the future for boston, the paper went on to say, quote,
a city long set in its ways may just let loose. and some news on this network today with the announcement by "saturday night live" of a new addition to the cast. her name is sasheer zamata. she is the first black woman to join "snl" since maya rudolph departed in '07. the announcement comes after criticism last fall for lack of diversity among the cast members. she will make her snl debut as a featured player january 18th. when we come back, what we all look like at 17,000 miles an hour.
finally here tonight, it is not easy to conduct an interview with somebody moving over 17,000 miles an hour, but that is exactly what we did earlier today. we talked to the two americans who are currently on board the international space station. veteran nasa astronaut rick mastracchio, and air force colonel mike hopkins. both americans were the space walkers recently in the mission to repair an on-board pump. and with that behind them we talked about life on space today, especially with the space station getting so much attention as of late. first off, what is it like
working with sandra bullock? >> we have yet to see her up here, but we continue to look for her. >> houston, do you copy? >> what has the movie "gravity" done to the astronaut business and to the understanding of the international space station? >> i think any time you bring attention to the space program, i know i personally get very excited about it. because we really enjoy what we do up here and we think it is great when the american public pays attention and understands exactly what we're doing up here. >> you orbit roughly every 90 minutes and travel the distance from the earth to the moon on a daily basis. there is no sense of speed or motion at 17,000-plus miles an hour? >> yeah, that is correct, you really don't get the sense of the speed until you look out the windows and see just how fast the earth is going by below you. >> home sickness can't be an option for people in your line of work, but what is it like
being up there for the holidays? some terrific college football games, the nfl playoffs? >> the way we think about it, if you have to be away from home during the holidays there are not too many places better to be than here. we have good connectivity with our families. we can call home almost any time of the day. we have videoconferencing with our families about once a week. and of course we have e-mail. and as far as football goes, we both enjoy football, and the ground is very happy to send us up a football game every now and then. >> you guys had had commander chris hadfield of canada up there, who famously recorded space odyssey, ground control to major tom, from space. it's the first time that has ever been done. ♪ this is ground control from major tom, you really made the grade ♪ >> i don't know what you plan to
top that, whether there is a spring production of "hello dolly" in the works. >> well, it would be hard to top commander hadfield, chris hadfield. and really, to be honest, you don't want to hear rick or i sing, it wouldn't be very good. >> what is it that you would like people to know and understand about the international space station? >> i think the most important thing to know is nasa never went out of business. the shuttle program ended but the space station program is going strong. we're up here doing research 365 days a year, and have been doing so for many, many years and nasa has a bright future ahead of it. >> good sports and great guys, our thanks to nasa astronauts, mike hopkins and rick mastracchio. veteran space travelers. and it turns out, "nightly news" viewers. they told us this broadcast is part of their lunch time routine every day in space, making them our most distant viewers, certainly. gentlemen, safe flying. thank you both again.
that is our broadcast on a monday night as we start off a week here on earth. thank you for joining us, i'm brian williams, of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. good skpirchg thanks for being with us. >> we begin with new details less than a week after someone set the entrance to the chinese consulate on fire. tonight the fbi says it doesn't appear the suspect was fueled by politics or terrorism. jody hernandez is live with what court documents say may have been behind that attack, jodi?
according to the court documents, the suspect admits he did it. according to the documents, he said it was voices that led him to the steps of the chinese consulate here in san francisco where the torching took place. >> right now it is -- we're looking at it and have looked at this purely as a criminal matter, an isolated incident. >> reporter: with a suspect new in custody, that's how the fbi is describing last week's arson fire at the chinese consulate in san francisco. five days after the attack, the fbi has identified the man seen in this surveillance video as 39-year-old yan phnang. he turned himself into police on friday. >> my understanding is that he called the daily city police department advised them of what had occurred, and they of course, responded very quickly. >> reporter: while the fbi wouldn't talk about a possible motive, according to court documents phang said h