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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 20, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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at 6:00 along with the republican rebuttal. our coverage begins again, at 6:00 and will be anchored by brian williams. have a goodnight. on our broadcast tonight, on the offensive. the president in primetime, a showdown with the new republican congress over taxes and a whole lot more. and the question is, can anything get done here in washington. the final moments of airasia flight 8501. what the black boxes have revealed happened just before that aircraft plunged into the sea with 162 souls onboard. money problems. the new warning from the irs about why your tax refunds could be delayed this year. and where the wild things are. the big city invasion happening all across our country. "nightly news," from washington tonight, begins now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams reporting tonight from washington. and good evening from capitol hill.
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it's exactly six years since a million americans stood in the cold for president obama's first inaugural and exactly two years from now a new president will be taking the oath of office on the steps of the u.s. capitol there behind us. by then, the scaffolding will be down, the repairs will be made, and by then we will know which of the promises and proposals in tonight's speech came true. tonight in his state of the union address, the president looks out over a new congress, heavily republican, with the clock ticking down on his own second term and an american television audience watching at home and wanting results. we begin our preview coverage here tonight with our senior white house correspondent, chris jansing. chris, good evening. >> good evening, brian. tonight is president obama's sixth state of the union speech, his first time before a republican-led congress, and the first time aides say he can argue the state of the economy is strong. those improving economic numbers, more jobs, a robust
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stock market, lower gas prices, have given the administration confidence the president can use his biggest tv audience of the year to show he won't settle for being a lame duck. on the afternoon of the state of the union, president obama was in the oval office with americans who had written him letters over the past year, who motivated him, aides say, to focus tonight on the millions of middle class americans he hasn't met. people like the hidalgo family. two years into the obama presidency, both parents had lost their jobs and health insurance. their house was in foreclosure, and 15-year-old gabe couldn't sleep from the stress. >> how can a 15-year-old deal with this? it's really hard. >> reporter: the early obama years were a snapshot of a devastated economy. >> there are now more poor people in america than any time since census records started 52 years ago. >> reporter: today angel and annalise have health n and jobs
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through obamacare and gabe is in community college. >> my future is pretty bright. >> i'm doing pretty well. i think i'm going to do better. >> reporter: tonight the president will make a case that the economic rebound is real, and lay out his plan to build on that momentum. he's previewed it all in recent weeks. free community college tuition, paid leave for parents, tax breaks for families and a tax hike on the wealthy to pay for it. but it could be a tough sell to nearly 9 million people still without jobs. and those who are working now make on average less than when the president took office. republicans have already dismissed his proposal as dead on arrival, and small business groups argue less spending not more taxes is the answer. >> is every dollar we spend right now sacrosanct, it can't be touched? i mean there's no programs that we can find savings in? no one believes that. >> reporter: those policy differences make compromise unlikely, as most americans agree with angel hidalgo's message for the president and congress. >> they should be working together, not for one party or the other.
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they should be working for the whole nation. >> both sides do talk compromise, but recent history suggests confrontation. what tonight will do is start a debate that will also help frame the 2016 campaign for the president's successor. brian? >> chris jansing, across town at the white house. we'll see you over here later tonight with the motorcade. and now to the mood of the electorate who, after all, make up tonight's television audience. our political director and moderator of "meet the press" chuck todd is here with us tonight. what are the numbers going into tonight? >> the president, for the first time since he delivered a state of the union, actually has an american public optimistic about the economy. look at this number. 45% said they're satisfied with the state of the u.s. economy today. that is the highest satisfaction number we've recorded in over a decade. that, of course, is something we do expect the president to do a little victory lap about the state of the economy. also it appears he's got a little bit of a -- he got the post-election honeymoon, not the republicans. his executive actions on
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immigration and on cuba both enjoy majority support, 52% on the immigration front, 60% on what he unilaterally decided to do with cuba. what will be a challenge for him tonight, brian, is whether he's talking about the issues that the country has prioritized. the five issues they prioritized to us were to create jobs defeat isis reduce the deficit, secure the southern border and deal with iranian nukes. >> no problem. >> no problem at all. the president, we know what he's doing tonight, which is to focus on the wage issue of the middle class. >> that's a heck of a list. coming up during our coverage later, we have new numbers on how people feel about divided government these days. chuck, we'll see you for part of that as well. our primetime coverage begins at 9:00 eastern on this nbc station. and 15 minutes prior to the speech tonight, at 8:45 eastern time, we will offer a live preview show on our website tonight, nbcnews.com. and during the president's address, live realtime analysis from our nbc news team, both on twitter and on the "meet the press" facebook page which means chuck is going to be a busy man tonight.
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the president will talk about foreign affairs tonight, and it's an active front. just today, isis issued another hostage threat demanding a ransom for two men from japan. and yemen, a u.s. ally in a dangerous neighborhood appears to be on the brink of a coup. our report on that tonight from our chief foreign correspondent richard engel. >> reporter: in the new isis video, the group's beheader threatens in english to kill two japanese hostages unless japan pays $200 million, the same amount isis says japan has committed to fighting the group. japan said it won't bow to terrorist demands, but it's a reminder that isis remains a dangerous force to be reckoned with. four months ago the president launched a u.s.-led war against isis, or isil, and laid out his goals. >> to take out terrorist targets, to train and equip iraqi and syrian opposition fighters who are going up against isil on the ground to
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cut off isil's financing, to counter its hateful ideology and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region. >> reporter: but little has worked out of according to plan. experts say being attacked by the u.s. has raised isis' profile, making it easier to recruit and raise money. and isis is making progress in battle. a senior u.s. military official with personal knowledge of events tells nbc news that the u.s.-led air war kills about 1,000 isis fighters a month, many of them are in and around the city of kobany. but they are being replaced each month with 1500 new recruits. and isis is holding the territory it controls, vast stretches of syriand most of central iraq. it may even be taking new ground. the iraqi army now helped by 2,000 american advisers, is still on the defensive. the senior military official says a much-anticipated iraqi
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offensive will not be happening anytime soon. once again, brian, tonight we are closely watching events in yemen. the u.s.-backed government in yemen is teetering on the brink of collapse. this is the government that allows the u.s. military and the cia to carry out drone strikes against al qaeda. in fact, cooperates very closely with u.s. intelligence in counterterrorism efforts. well, today anti-government rebels stormed the presidential palace. the president, however, doesn't work out of the presidential palace, he works from his own residence. there was also gun fights at the residency, but for now the president is still holding on to power. it's unclear how much longer he can do that. frankly, brian, from a foreign policy perspective, there haven't been very many big american success stories. >> part of the backdrop for tonight's speech. richard engel reporting on all of it tonight. richard, thanks. this evening, we have
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learned a lot more about the final minutes of that airasia flight that crashed with 162 people on board. investigators are now zeroing in on what the aircraft did just moments before it disappeared from radar screens. our report on that tonight from nbc's katy tur. >> reporter: investigators have a clearer picture tonight of why airasia flight 8501 ended up a ghostly skeleton at the bottom of the java sea. officials now say radar data shows the airbus a-320-a was pushed beyond its limits in its last seconds. behaving more like a fighter jet than a passenger plane, when it suddenly accelerated and ascended, steeply climbing at 6,000 feet a minute, three times the average speed of a commercial aircraft before it likely stalled and plummeted into the java sea. >> it was either in a severe updraft and/or there was a command to the flight controls to pitch the nose up. climb rates of this magnitude at
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this altitude are extremely rare. >> reporter: now that they have the black boxes, investigators have logged half of the cockpit voice recorders. they've heard only crew member voices but why did they make that deadly climb? with severe weather in the region, the pilots had asked to fly 38,000 feet to avoid the storm, but controllers said no, too many planes in the area. just minutes later, 8501 disappeared from radar. >> anyone in their seat would feel very heavy as their weight would be probably at least twice of what normal would be. >> reporter: in surabaya where loved ones continue to wait only 53 of the 162 passengers have been brought back to land. the rest likely on the sea floor still within the fuselage. katy tur, nbc news, london. in our country, there were in desperate moments in cincinnati overnight when part of an out-of-commission highway
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overpass suddenly collapsed into traffic below on i-75. one construction worker is dead. and local officials there have released the call for help as it came in to 911 operators. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> just heard a loud thud, and the house shook. it felt like an earthquake. >> real big boom as if something like maybe had exploded. >> reporter: the 911 call came in at 10:30 at night, a distraught construction worker. >> listen ma'am, listen. send the cops now. the bridge has collapsed all along the expressway. >> reporter: the overpass crashed down on to i-75 southbound in ohio. >> are there any vehicles that have been -- have any vehicles been hit? >> yes. yes. >> how many? >> i don't know. it looks like a semiand some cars. >> reporter: the driver of the semi narrowly escaped with minor injuries. 35-year-old construction worker and father of four, brandon carl, was crushed and killed. >> after they completed their
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investigation, their on-scene investigation, we used air bags to basically lift the backhoe up and remove the victim at that time. >> reporter: dozens of emergency vehicles responded including nearly 50 firefighters, but it could have been much worse. just a few hours earlier, this stretch of road would have been packed with rush hour traffic. while the cause is under investigation, the $91 million construction project meant to improve traffic is on hold. the crumbling overpass was scheduled to come down. just not like this. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. and just as the president prepares to talk about his recent opening to cuba in tonight's state of the union address and just as the first diplomatic normalization talks with the u.s. are about to get under way with cuba the russians have sent a large and seemingly unmistakable message right into har vanna harbor. it's the electronic surveillance ship "victor leonov" and it's notable for its large radar dome
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at midships. the ship has been seen in international waters just off our east coast for some time, and while russian vessels are not an unusual sight in havana harbor, the timing on this remains interesting. something the pope said on his flight back to rome from the philippines is causing quite a stir especially for all those from big catholic families. the pope told reporters that just because the church bans contraception, it doesn't mean followers should breed, quote, like rabbits. he called for responsible parenting and alluded to church-approved methods of family planning. our first break here tonight, and still ahead, as tax season begins, there's a new warning you should know about from the irs. why the head of the agency says your tax refund might be delayed this year. and later, the platinum blond. the new record tonight from one of the greatest voices of all time.
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tonight you'll be happy to know tax season is officially under way with the irs accepting returns both electronically and the old-fashioned way. but this year the commissioner of the irs is oddly warning that things might be even more frustrating than usual for all of us who have to file tax returns, and the tax refunds that so many american families count on might be delayed. and he says it all has to do with money. we get our report on this tonight from our national correspondent, peter alexander.
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>> reporter: sheila is already fed up with the irs. the victim of tax refund fraud twice. she spent years trying to get her money back and her identity restored. >> frustrating, scary, aggravating and time consuming. i was constantly on the phone, here at work, at home. >> reporter: frustrations like hers will likely get worse this year. in this alarming e-mail, the irs commissioner recently warned five straight years of budget cuts will leave more americans at risk because new taxpayer protections against identity theft will be delayed. the irs also predicts it will only be able to answer half of the 100 million calls it expects from taxpayers this year. and those who do get through could wait 30 minutes or more to talk to a real person. the agency insists fewer staff members means fewer audits that could cost the government at least $2 billion in revenue. and tax refunds for paper filers could be delayed. skeptics will suggest you're
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raising alarm bells because you don't want further budget cuts, because it may not go well. >> we've had budget cuts for five years in a row, which will soon be a new american record. we're doing our best. >> who can help me figure this out? we can. >> reporter: tax firms may capitalize on the confusion created by new obamacare rules in effect for the first time. for example, people who received health insurance subsidies will need to fill out extra forms. what's a taxpayer to do? go online to irs.gov for free advice. experts say to avoid becoming a tax fraud victim, file sooner than later. >> crooks will try to beat you to the punch. so the secret is to simply file ahead of them. >> reporter: before scam artists steal your identity and your refund. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. and we are back in a moment with the new list out tonight you don't want any part of. something millions of americans are doing wrong on a daily basis.
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terrible news out of pennsylvania where a college student was found dead in her dorm room this weekend, and this could be a warning to us all. the initial evidence indicates she fell asleep with chewing gum in her mouth and died after aspirating it. 21-year-old chenise clark was a native of toronto, college basketball player, 6-foot forward. her death has officially been ruled an accident. while the damage continues from the electronic attack on sony pictures, the film that apparently sparked the whole thing has at least made back the money it cost sony to make it. the seth rogen comedy "the interview" has made $46 million so far, mostly via online pay-per-view. production costs were $44 million. the damage to the studio, however, is a harder number to calculate. the folks who complete the yearly list of the worst computer passwords are out with their picks for 2014, and the top three are really perennial
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bad passwords. they are 123456. the word "password," and that old standby, 12345. further down the list of the top 20 worst passwords, baseball, football, batman, and 111-111. fresh proof today of why in the modern history of female recording artists there's barbra streisand and there's everyone else. she was today awarded her 31st platinum album. it's for her latest effort called "parners." her nearest competitor for platinum is reba mcentire who has 19 of her own. barbra is the only artist to have a number one album in each of the past six decades. there are two oscars, five emmys, ten golden globes, ten grammys and a tony for good measure. when we come back tonight, the call of the wild right smack
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in the middle of the concrete jungle.
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in the modern american city, the concrete canyon surrounded by steel and glass, the last thing you're normally looking out for is a coyote, customarily associated with the american
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west. they are increasingly being spotted in the east, the midwest, in a lot of population centers that never had to deal with coyotes before. we get the story tonight from nbc's john yang. >> reporter: suburban life often means gate crashers. bears in the backyard, deer in the snack food aisle, now coyotes are calling urban jungles home. an estimated 2,000 in chicago alone. >> the first time it was very exciting and then the second time, it was interesting. now we say, oh, coyote. >> reporter: this morning researchers trapped this guy on chicago's south side, another suburban refugee. so they're thriving in the suburbs and they're running out of space. >> exactly. they're running out of space. so this is what's left. >> reporter: he's now part of the first-ever study of urban coyotes, a phenomenon scientists say, that's spread to virtually every north american
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metropolitan area. after weighing in at 33 pounds, the sedated coyote, the 867th to be studied since 2000, is put on the exam table. >> look at these nails. does it look like they're filed down? that's an urban coyote right there. >> reporter: because it's constantly on concrete and pavement. he's fitted with a first of its kind national geographic critter cam to learn more about his big city life. critter cams show how street smart they are, waiting for traffic before crossing intersections. it shows them foraging for food. this lucky one even finding dog kibble. soldier field, usually home to the bears, now home to the coyotes, the first documented urban litter. >> a pair of coyotes, male and female raised five pups in this small little gap. >> reporter: researchers say it's an example of the remarkable adaptability of this wily specie one of the latest to call the streets of the windy city home. john yang, nbc news, chicago.
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and that is our broadcast on this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. a reminder we're right back on the air our live coverage of the president's state of the union address. until then, good night from washington.
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from nbc news, the state of from nbc news the state of the union address live from washington. here's brian williams. >> good evening from capitol hill in washington where the most obvious feature behind us is the scaffolding covering the iconic capitol dome. the clock has started on a huge restoration project to have it up and ready for the inauguration of the next president exactly two years from now. and tonight the clock starts on the final two years of the obama presidency. it was exactly six years ago that over a million people filled the mall in the cold to hear the president's words. so m

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