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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  November 24, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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2,000. we can get there. >> thank you for joining us. "nightly news" is next. on our broadcast tonight, breaking news, the grand jury's decision in ferguson, missouri, about to be revealed as a community now waits on high alert. forced out. secretary of defense resigns under pressure, we're told. tonight, the fallout and what it means for our future war plans. travel nightmare. a huge storm about to hit on the busiest travel day of the year. there are already predictions of transportation chaos for millions. and the highest honor this nation bestows on civilians today at the white house, a slew of notables -- kennedy, street, stevie, and someone pretty well-known around here. "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening.
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the grand jury in ferguson, missouri has reached a decision. and in about 30 minutes from now, give or take, we will learn what they have decided. we'll be back on the air with that decision. their job, though, is now done. they've been deciding whether or not there is enough evidence to charge a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager. there is great caution surrounding tonight's announcement because of the violence that exploded in ferguson in the heat of this past summer while the whole world was watching, as they will be again tonight when this decision is announced. it's where we begin this evening high above ferguson. crowds are already gathered. hard to tell if it's all the hubbub of news crews and helicopters above that makes for more hubbub on the ground. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's ron allen. ron, good evening.
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>> reporter: good evening to you, brian. this decision has been a long time in coming, some three months, it's finally here in about 30 minutes. there are already protesters gathering outside the ferguson police headquarters, the scene of so many demonstrations. we will finally learn whether officer darren wilson will be char charged with a crime in the death of michael brown. >> it happened on a hot saturday, august 9, very close to high noon, an encounter between a police officer and a teenager that left the 18-year-old unarmed young man dead and ferguson, missouri, in an uproar. >> i got my hands on my head! >> reporter: as word spread, unconfirmed brown had his hands up surrendering. police have said the teenager physically assaulted the officer who acted in self-defense. now, here, a state of emergency. >> whatever the decision comes
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out, we'll be ready to keep the peace and allow people to have their constitutional rights. >> reporter: the seven men and five women of the grand jury convened this morning. nine white, three black, mirroring st. louis county's demographic. nine votes needed to agree on a decision to indict, possible charges range from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter to no charge at all. the grand jury has not been sequestered. >> they've got to be overwhelmed. they're subject to the same media onslaught everybody else in st. louis has been living under. >> reporter: the grand jury process kept secret to protect witnesses and the rights of the accused. a process criticized by many who demand that the local prosecutor, seen as too close to the police, step aside, and let the governor name an independent prosecutor. and many want the facts of what happened publicly revealed. >> i'm asking simply that
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michael brown jr's life be found valuable enough in this society that it warrants a trial. that it warrants an account that is public that speaks to what happened on that day. >> reporter: through it all michael brown's family asked for peace. >> hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. no matter what the grand jury decides, i do not want my son's death to be in vain. >> reporter: just about every business and shop in the area that has seen large protest is closed, boarded up. many schools have cancelled events for the evening. some have cancelled classes for tomorrow, tuesday. as missouri's governor and many leaders here call for peace and restrint. brian? >> ron allen starting us off and i understand you have to leave your position is go inside the courtroom to get the judgment of this grand jury. let's talk to miguel almaguer. my inartful point about hubbub. there's always going to be some
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motivated, committed protesters and a percentage of people who are there because it's an increasingly large outdoor happening and there's so much tension and excitement surrounding this ruling. >> yeah, brian, good evening. i think we're seeing a combination of those two right now. in a word, the atmosphere out here is tense. there's a tense of growing anxiety in the air. those are live pictures you're looking at above the ferguson police department where protesters are spilling into the streets. we've not seen crowds like this in months. we're told the scene down there is getting tense. protesters are feet away from officers yelling at them. we've seen scenes like this over and over over the last several nights. we're just a few blocks away from where michael brown was killed. this was the epicenter of protest back in august. tonight dozens of businesses have boarded up windows and shut down early, fearing this area will again be home to looting and rioting. the shooting in august triggered
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immediate violence. the police are on standby, on alert, for massive crowds to return. more and more crowds spilling into the street. certainly some tense moments lie ahead, brian. >> and peace-loving people are glad that it's cold to keep the crowds low. and as we await the announcement of this decision biy the grand jury, let's bring in our legal correspondent cynthia mcfadden. 12 citizens, need nine for a majority. talk about the range of their possible findings. >> first off, let's remember, they're charged not with being a trial jury, but a grand jury. they have to find reason to indict. they can go from first-degree murder, to second-degree murder, from intentionally killing, and unintentionally killing. that's the range. >> that's the start of the possible range that all of the things that could have happened
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during that traffic stop. >> and the law gives wide berth to police officers who have to make live or death sentences in a flash. so the question is going to be, did the police officer have reasonable fear for his life, for his safety in these circumstances? >> cynthia mcfadden, you'll be part of our large coverage tonight when this happens. cynthia, thank you. in washington, a shake-up at the pentagon, the civilian boss of all the men and women in uniform. defense secretary chuck hagel, a decorated combat veteran himself, made a surprise announcement that he is stepping down. while it was called mutual, word around the pentagon resignation was not his idea. our report tonight from nbc correspondent jim miklaszewski. >> reporter: less than two years on the job, a somber chuck hagel flanked by president obama and vice president biden, announced
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today he was calling it quits. >> i have today submitted my resignation as secretary of defense. it's been the greatest privilege of my life. >> reporter: the white house and pentagon claim after a series of three recent meetings with the president, it was hagel who offered to step aside. but senior defense officials tell nbc news hagel was forced to resign. as the war with isis exploded in iraq and syria, the white house appeared to lose confidence in hagel as he questioned the administration's strategy. after president obama called isis the junior varsity of terrorists, hagel warned the militant force was a potential serious threat to the u.s. >> they're beyond just a terrorist group. this is beyond anything that we've seen. so we must prepare for everything. >> reporter: if the white house is frustrated with hagel, the feeling is apparently mutual. republican senator john mccain said today hagel was shut out of the white house inner circle and critical foreign policy decisions. >> i can tell you he was in my office last week and very frustrated. >> reporter: critics claim hagel
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is being made a scapegoat for the administration's foreign policy shortfalls and blamed the white house for micromanaging the war. >> well, i think the national security council around the president has micromanaged badly i might add, these wars. hagel was out of the loop. >> reporter: as hagel prepares to leave, former pentagon undersecretary, michelle flournoy, carter and jack reed are considered the front runners for his job. white house officials claim they lost confidence in hagel from the very beginning after disastrous senate confirmation hearings. but officials worry that if white house officials persist in micromanaging every aspect of the pentagon and military, nothing will change. no matter who gets the top job, brian. >> our man at the pentagon, jim miklaszewski, thanks. now to what is a huge priority for a lot of folks this week, either getting somewhere or hoping our loved ones can get home for thanksgiving. with that in mind, a major storm is about to hit parts of this
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country just as an estimated 46 million of us are going to hit the road or head to the airport. as you can imagine, chaos is in the forecast. and in buffalo, remember they're bracing for a flood emergency as all that snow has to go somewhere. our report on all of it tonight from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: still digging out from seven feet of snow, buffalo today dodged the worst predictions of mass flooding caused by higher temps and melting. from washington up i-95 to philly, new york and onto boston, weather whiplash. a record warm day, but it's the calm before another storm. >> snow, sleet and freezing rain could impact holiday travel this year. >> reporter: wind, cold, rain and even snow are taking aim at a big section of the country from tuesday night through thursday. just in time for the great thanksgiving day escape. >> can you believe how low gasoline prices are? >> reporter: gas below $3 a gallon is a big reason 41 million americans are expected to drive this thanksgiving.
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in the midwest and east they could be making their way through sloppy, slippery roads. meanwhile, another 5 million americans are flying between wednesday and sunday. some of the nation's busiest airports could be choke points. airports to watch include washington, baltimore, philly, new york, boston, cleveland, detroit and chicago. the airline advice, check your e-mail and download your airline's app for the latest delays or cancellations. >> we'd rather have people wait out storms at their homes as opposed to being stuck at the airport. >> reporter: and be warned, even if your flight is in the west, a major storm's ripple effect can reach all the way to the pacific. already today more than 100 flights canceled at o'hare because of weather. and now with this new storm inbound, american airlines is allowing passengers to change their tickets without a change fee, brian. >> tom costello, washington national for us in d.c. tom, thanks.
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>> still tonight, a scandal rocks one of the most prestigious universities in this country. what happened when a young woman there reported a brutal attack? and later, an unbelievable journey. a group on the venture of a lifetime make a new friend along the way, through thick and thin.
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a major american university tonight has a lot to answer for now, the claims of a particularly shocking sexual assault have been made public.
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as a result of the allegations, the university of virginia has suspended all fraternities for the rest of the year. but many students say, that's not nearly enough. we get our report tonight from our national correspondent, peter alexander. >> reporter: a chorus of outrage this weekend. angry students march through the manicured grounds of the university of virginia. >> the protests, a response to this lengthy "rolling stone" investigation into the alleged gang rape of a freshman at a fraternity house two years ago. an assault lasting three hours with seven attackers, leaving her beaten and bloody. yet the victim told the magazine her friends discouraged her from reporting it. >> they told her that she would be black balled from uva social life. that her reputation would be ruined as the person who cried rape. >> when she did come forward several months later, the article says the administration gave her options but failed her.
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by insisting she not go to the police. >> i think when i first read the article i was simply sick to my stomach. there was much more information in "rolling stone" than we had. >> reporter: tomorrow the university's board will meet to discuss its sexual assault policies. police have been asked to investigate the case. the house is vowing to cooperate saying the acts depicted in the article are beyond unacceptable, vile and intolerable. uva is one of 88 schools under investigation by the federal government for its handling of sexual assault complaints. >> it's not just a uva issue. this is a pervasive national epidemic that we are hoping to continue to fight here at uva. the place that we call home. and spread this message nationally. >> reporter: this case is brought to light a staggering statistic, more than 180 students here who have been expelled for honor code violations like cheating since 1998, but not one kicked out for sexual assault. as for the alleged victim, jackie remains a uva student. >> she has already come a long way. and i have a lot of hope for her. >> reporter: and hope her story will provoke real change.
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peter alexander, nbc news, charlottesville, virginia. we're back in a moment with a mystery solved. who was that man in uniform, who at times brought highway traffic to a halt?
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being a private banking client isn't what it used to be. from san francisco to silicon valley, boston private bank works with all kinds of people who are innovating, building, contributing --
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individuals, business owners, private partnerships, non-profits, families planning their financial futures. people like you. if you want the individual attention and expertise your financial needs deserve, this is your time. this is your private bank. this was last night early on in the giants/cowboys game. they showed us the pregame ritual of new york giants odell beckham jr. he practices one-hand catches in the end zone while wearing headphones. it's become his pregame thing. then they switched us back to the game. four minutes later this happened. and in short order chris collingsworth summed up what he had just seen. >> that may be the greatest catch i've ever seen. you have to be kidding me. that is absolutely impossible
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what he just did. that may be the greatest catch i've ever seen in my life. >> millions of us watching last night from fans to journalists to fellow athletes called it the greatest catch of all time. but there's also this one catch. the nfl has this quirky rule, you need to win the game to advance in the standings. so it will be known forever as the game with that great catch, that the giants lost at home to the cowboys. tonight, the rare confluence of two monday night games because one of them was snowed out of buffalo. there was big news 53 stories above us here today. the rockefellers are leaving 30 rock. the family that built this building and transformed midtown manhattan in the middle of the depression is leaving their long-time perch to move to one rockefeller plaza across the plaza, where, according to one member of the rockefeller family, they got a deal. they didn't get to be rockefellers by throwing money around. their current 56 floor offices are so lofty, years ago the new yorker magazine wrote that because of the earth's rotation
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the folks who work way up there would travel more than a mile farther each day than the man on the street. it was a moment on veterans day that was striking in its simple patriotism. an army veteran in full military dress saluting a flag on a highway overpass in utah. he stood there for one hour. people driving by honked their horns. some of them parked their car and shook his hand. but we didn't know who he was until now. he's identified himself as 43-year-old jonathan walker, a retired army helicopter pilot from the third armored cav. he said he did what he did to call attention to all veterans in his own way. a story of perseverance making the rounds on the web. when a group of swedish adventurers went on a 430-mile trek through ecuador. they met a dog along the way, fed him a meatball at first. right then he was their friend for life. he walked with them, swam alongside them in the dark, he walked some more before sleeping
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alongside them at night. they adopted him, named him arthur. when it was all over they got him checked out. he had to wear the cone of shame for a while as not to lick his wounds, but now he's officially a swede with a loving family to return all of his kindness. when we come back, a near and dear member of the nbc family among those awarded a high honor at the white house today.
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finally tonight, a slew of remarkable americans in one room. they come from all walks of life, the achievements that brought them together at the white house today as distinct as they are all diverse people. but they all now share one thing in common, the presidential medal of freedom. and the recipients include a very familiar face around here. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: the nation's highest civilian honor awarded today to 18 great americans including the man who coined the phrase, the greatest generation, nbc's tom brokaw. >> on the night the berlin wall fell, only one american network anchor was there reporting live. he reported on watergate. snuck a camera in to tiananmen square. sat down for the first
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one-on-one with mikhail gorbachev by an american tv reporter. >> reporter: the greatest generation now part of a lexicon. >> i never thought i would coin a phrase that would have that kind of enduring appeal. >> reporter: others honored included three civil rights workers slain in 1964. record setting oscar nominee meryl streep. >> there's so many things you don't understand. >> wore a nun's habot. faced down a charging lion. mastered every accent under the sun. >> reporter: stevie wonder, his classic "talking book" was the first album a young barack obama ever bought. >> that thing got so worn out. had all scratches. >> reporter: and for her life's devotion to human rights, ethel kennedy. grandmother of 40. including congressman joe kennedy. she marched with farm workers in florida only a year ago today receiving the award first created by president kennedy months before he was assassinated. in the same room where his casket was brought to lie in repose.
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what inspires you to keep up this work? >> you know, when you see somebody in trouble, your natural feeling is, is there something i can do? and really everybody can do it. >> including helping to raise money for als research this summer by pouring a bucket of ice water over her head. as you may know she nominated me to do it as well. and as you may know i chose to write a check instead. >> reporter: a journalist, artist, freedom fighter, heroes all, andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. >> congratulations to all. special congrats to one in particular. that's our broadcast for this monday night as we start a new week. thank you for being here with us. we're back on the air tonight the moment they announce the grand jury decision in ferguson. i'm brian williams. and, of course, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. goodnight.
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ferguson, missouri. the grand jury has reached a decision in the michael brown shooting. this is an issue that sparked a national debate about race an police force. you see the podium there. the grand jury announcement is expected within minutes. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. the grand jury is deciding whether there is enough evidence to charge the 28-year-old darren wilson with a crime. missouri governor jay nixon issued a call for peace.
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>> the shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint. >> we want to take you to ferguson right now and give you a live look at ferguson, missouri. it's 8:00 right there right now. pe people have been gathering for hours. they're also gathering in clayton. more than 20 missouri state troopers are assembled outside that courthouse. in ferguson itself, lots of businesses have been boarded up and you can see about 300 people are outside of that police department waiting to hear word of what the grand jury has decided. nbc bay area's jodi hernandez joins us live from oakland and that is one of the cities, as well as you can see mark matthews is live in san francisco. both cities where protests are planned for this evening once that grand jury announcement is made. let's start with jodi. >> reporter: jessica, i'm here outside


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