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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 14, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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40s and 50s and close to 80 tomorrow. >> wow. >> "nbc nightly news" is next. more news at 6:00. hope to see you then. on this sunday night, the high stakes battle. the unexpected death of u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia is reshaping the 2016 race for the white house. southern brawl, trump endures the harshest criticism yet and counterattackes at last night's south carolina debate. the interrogation. the surprising number of people who confess to crimes they did not commit. tonight, we look at the reasons why. back to nature. schools without walls. the growing trend and why some say it's the best way for children to learn. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. the unexpected death of u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia is reshaping the 2016 race for the white house. only three supreme court justices have died in office in more than 60 years, and only one has been confirmed during an election year since 1940. some gop presidential hopefuls are questioning president obama's established executive authority to nominate a replacement during this election season. however, the president has already said it will happen but in due time. what about cases the supreme court has heard or has agreed to
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hear this term? our pete williams will have more on that, but first to our kelly o'donnell at the white house. kelly. >> reporter: white house advisers tell me at least for the next week the president will not have a decision on a successor to justice scalia. but tonight, the urgency of the presidential campaign season is firing up passions over the future of the court even before any funeral plans for justice scalia are made public. >> reporter: today the silent display of respect across washington. but no pause before the clash of politics. >> there is no way the senate should confirm anyone that barack obama tries to appoint in his last year in office to a lifetime appointment. [ applause ] >> reporter: an instant power struggle over a successor to justice scalia. >> let me just make one point. barack obama is president of the united states until january 20th, 2017. >> good evening, everybody --
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>> reporter: president obama made clear he will nominate a new justice and expects the senate to consider his choice fairly. >> these are responsibilities that i take seriously, as should everyone. they're bigger than any one party. they are about our democracy. >> reporter: if the president gets to seat his third justice, that change would make the court more liberal, compounding the shock of scalia's sudden passing is the timing. a campaign year. >> we ought to make the 2016 election a referendum on the supreme court. >> reporter: republican candidate ted cruz had been a law clerk for chief justice rehnquist. now as a senator, he intends to block any obama nominee. >> we're advising that a lame duck president in an election year is not going to be able to tip the balance of the supreme court. >> reporter: democrats are already calling out cruz. >> ted cruz holds the constitution when he walks through the halls of congress. let him show me the clause that says the president's only president for three years. >> reporter: with
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fewer senate votes, democrats may have to take their fight for an obama court pick to the campaign trail as well. >> i just don't think it looks good that for very overtly political reasons that the republicans would deny this president the right to exercise his constitutional responsibility which is to appoint members to the supreme court. >> reporter: for some gop candidates and republican senators, their opposition goes beyond just the idea of voting down anyone the president might choose. they say there should be no confirmation process, no vetting, no hearing, no vote at all. thomas? >> kelly o'donnell at the white house. thank you. and the death of just scalia also raises questions about how the court might decide a number of key cases this term from abortion rights to affirmative action. we get more on scalia's death and its impact from our justice correspondent, pete williams. >> reporter: as in the rest of the nation, justice scalia's death is being mourned in texas where he died saturday at this guest ranch popular with
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fellow bird hunters of an apparent heart attack. >> he had obviously passed away with no difficulty at all, middle of the night. it was -- that was our first message for the family. >> reporter: a catholic priest from a nearby church was summoned to administer last rites. justice scalia's former colleagues on the court today praised a towering intellect. ruth bader ginsburg said, "we were best buddies," adding, "he had a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh." clarence thomas said, "it is hard to imagine court without my friend. i will miss him beyond all measure." the court often divided 5-4 along ideological lines on big cases, justice scalia's death leaves eight justices and the possibility of tie votes 4-4. >> if there's a tie, there's no outcome at the supreme court. the lower court ruling stands. it's as if the supreme court never heard the case. >> reporter: a tie vote would leave rulings intact that block president obama's plan to let five million
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undocumented migrants stay here. a tie would mean the tough new texas restrictions on abortion would remain, possibly inspiring other states to enact similar laws. a tie would be a boost to the financial strength of unions representing teachers and other public employees. if a democratic president appointed a successor to the conservative scalia, that would tilt the court the other way to a majority of liberal justices. >> if president obama were able to put another justice on the court, he would cement a leftist majority on the court for the next generation or so. >> reporter: among potential nominees mentioned in legal circles, sri srinivasan, indian american, patricia millet on the d.c. court of appeals, and paul wattford african-american ninth circuit court of appeals from california. the justices will be
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back on the bench for a week and will face the prospect of finishing without a full court for the first time in more than 50 years. peter? >> pete williams reporting for us at the supreme court. thank you. the death of scalia and emerging battle over choosing and confirming the next justice, the republican presidential candidates were questioned about a number of other key and divisive issues in their debate last night in south carolina. as gabe gutierrez reports, it was their most combative debate so far. >> justice antonin scalia -- >> reporter: after a moment of silence for justice scalia came the most contentious gop debate so far. >> they lied. >> just been telling lies -- >> why do you lie? >> liar, liar, liar. >> reporter: the words "liar" or some variation were used at least 22 times. 13 by front-runner donald trump. and yet -- >> didn't call anybody a liar -- >> you called ted cruz a liar. >> reporter: slammed by jeb bush over foreign policy and how to fight isis in syria. >> it is ludicrous to suggest that russia could be a partner in this. >> jeb is so wrong. >> while donald trump was building a reality tv show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe.
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>> the world trade center came down during your brother's reign. remember that. [ boos ] >> reporter: marco rubio trying to rebound from his last debate came to bush's defense today blaming 9/11 on bill clinton's decision not to take out bin laden. >> that's what allowed al qaeda to cry and to continue to prosper and in 2001 have the ability to strike america. >> reporter: they clashed over immigration. at one point cruz took question with something rubio had said in a spanish language interview. >> i don't know how he knows what i said on univision because he doesn't speak spanish. second of all -- [ speaking spanish ] >> reporter: cruz also pounced on trump for what he called the billionaire's past liberal positions. >> you are the single biggest liar. you probably are worse than jeb bush. you are the single biggest liar. >> donald has this weird pattern. when you point to his own record, he screams, liar, liar, liar. >> reporter: striking
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a different tone, john kasich. >> i got to tell you, this is just crazy. this is just nuts, okay. [ applause ] >> geez, oh man. >> i think we're fixing to lose the election to hillary clinton if we don't stop this. [ applause ] >> reporter: tonight, there seems to be no stopping trump. >> i think it was probably my best performance. >> reporter: in a state where politics is a contact sport. the gop primary here is just six days away. hoping to capitalize on his family's popularity in south carolina, jeb bush will be joined by his brother, president george w. bush and the former first lady on the campaign trail tomorrow. >> gabe gutierrez reporting from south carolina. thank you. parts of the country waking up to record-breaking cold temperatures this morning. a warming trend is coming quickly. >> good evening, thomas. it is the coldest weather we have seen so far this season. in fact, the coldest valentine's day on record.
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it's all thanks to the polar vortex. we are going to see things turn the corner as we go into tomorrow, but this morning we broke records in new york city with a temperature of minus 1. the old record in boston was minus 3. watertown, new york started off at 37 degrees below zero. monday temperatures will get above freezing in new york. boston about 30 degrees. buffalo should make it up to 35. then watch what happens on tuesday. temperatures will soar back up into the mid 50s. that's about 15 degrees above average for the northeast. pittsburgh should hit 41 degrees. with this next storm moving in, while it will start as snow, it will turn to rain. lighter snow showers back through west virginia. heavier snow across virginia and washington, d.c. a quick 1 to 3 inches possible in washington monday morning. new york city will also see some light
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accumulatio accumulations, about 1 to 2 inches. then things will turn over to rain through the afternoon and evening on tuesday here in new york city. thomas? >> thank you very much. we turn our attention now overseas to the civil war in syria. president obama and russian president vladimir putin spoke by telephone this weekend. the white house said mr. obama stressed the importance of implementing a temporary cease-fire. russia said it did not apply to its air strikes. >> the u.s. accuses them of bombing those backed by america. >> reporter: the syrian government is allowing aid to some
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cutoff communities like here in duma, a suburb of damascus, but this video shot by an opposition group shows barrel bombs in the capital and the president has vowed to take back all of syria. everywhere there are slogans "let's rebuild," "restore national unity." but president assad says that will not happen through peace right now. >> we will building syria to be the best. >> you believe your generation will rebuild the country? >> yes. >> reporter: the saudis and their allies opposed to president assad are fueling the fighting, a mother from aleppo tells me. while this weekend the saudis and turkey are threatening to enter the ground war after
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turkey shelled parts of northern syria for a second day. syria, broken and divided, seems as far as ever from peace. damascus. pope francis ventured into a crime-ridden suburb of mexico city today leading a huge outdoor mass with a message of hope. ann thompson was there. >> reporter: today, pope francis went to mexico city. francis drove through the graffiti covered streets given a makeover by reformed criminals. home to 1.6 million people, it has one of the highest murder and disappearance rates of women in mexico, but police have solved few of the cases. it's such a dangerous place ms. vasquez
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tells me today's mass is one of the rare times she can bring her children to a public event. more than 300,000 people filled the dusty field to hear the pope warn of the temptations of wealth, vani vanity, and crime, emphatically telling them there could be no dialogue with the devil. for this nation, francis is asking these people, many of them poor and powerless, to join the front lines of making mexico a land of opportunity. urging them to create a country where no one has to leave to find a better life. a challenge a college student is ready to accept. >> mexico can be a better country. >> reporter: today, for a moment, one of its most dangerous cities was a better place. ann thompson, nbc news. when "nightly news" continues on this sunday, we're going to look at why so many young people
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confess to crimes they didn't commit.
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we're back with a problem in our criminal justice system that is getting increasing tension. interrogation techniques that result in confessions that police and prosecutors seek, but are often not true. keith morrison looks at the case of one young man who confessed. >> you stabbed her, didn't you? >> uh-huh. one or two times. >> reporter: a phenomenon as strange
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and counterintuitive as anything in law enforcement. >> everything you've told me is true, correct? >> true. [ siren ] >> reporter: the apparent decision, especially by the young, to confess to crimes they did not commit. even murder. >> i hit her two times. >> reporter: and yet, 18-year-old robert davis of virginia did. admitted to taking part in a brutal murders and arson and agreed to take a plea that resulted in a 23-year prison sentence. even though, as laura nyrider, of the innocence project said -- >> this is one of most intense interrogations i've ever seen. >> you were there! >> reporter: the thing is robert davis is far from alone. research produced by nyrider and others revealed that something like 25% of the thousands of people whose convictions were later overturned by dna evidence actually confessed falsely. why? according to nyrider, interrogation techniques used in the u.s. but now banned in many other countries are clearly to blame. >> when these kids go into that
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interrogation room and they come out, all they heard was "if i do what this authority figure wants me to do, i get to go home. i get to go to my own bed. i get to see my mom." >> reporter: instead, they go to prison. a confession being perhaps the most powerful evidence in many american courtrooms. >> what confessions tend to do is they shape this confirmation bias. >> reporter: britain among other countries has put in place rules that have virtually eliminated false confessions while increasing the percentage of crimes solved. >> we would not prosecute somebody solely on a confession. >> reporter: but though american interrogation techniques are slowly changing, there are no standardized rules. practices vary from county to county. and thus, in the now-famous "making a murderer" documentary, the disturbing interview with brendan dasey. >> all right. i'm just going to come out and ask you, who shot her in the head? >> he did. >> reporter: and in the case of robert davis. >> i know what took place.
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>> reporter: a long night with a man he thought was his police officer friend. >> i was young. i didn't know. i was naive, you know. i was scared. >> reporter: which has led to a remarkable saga and a conclusion now being noticed that just might make a difference. keith morrison, nbc news. >> an amazing report. you can watch the entire story coming up tonight on "dateline." when we come back in just a moment, a tribute to those who made a perilous journey. how a symbol of their adversity became art.
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the scene in new zealand today as a strong earthquake struck near near christ church on
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the south island. the quake had a magnitude of 5.8. the plight of migrants and refugees crossing into europe is dramatically illustrated in a new exhibit. in berlin a raft is on display. it's the work of a chinese dissident artist. more than 3,700 migrants died last year trying to cross the mediterranean to europe. and on this valentine's day, it's a love story for the ages. he's 104. she's his younger wife at just 100. john and ann batar of fairfield, connecticut, are said to be the longest married couple in the united states -- 83 years. today, through the twitter account of a company that has embraced their story, they offered some advice to questions like how do they keep thing fresh and new. said ann, "we hang on to one another, just a few little hugs, and we're fine." when we come back, a new generation and a new approach to learning.
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finally, tonight it's no secret that young children love to be outdoors. with that in mind, more and more schools in this country are embracing learning outside the traditional classroom. they're called nature schools or forest schools, and as we hear, they give new meaning to the basics. >> i caught a fish. >> reporter: at
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wildflowers nature preschool in northern california, this is math class. >> one, two, three, four. >> reporter: and the abcs, it's not a field trip -- >> look for worms. >> reporter: -- this is every day, start to finish, spent outside from the forest to the garden to the barnyard. >> how many babies do you think she has? >> a lot. >> reporter: for founder bev buswell, it's all about taking learning beyond a building. >> you look at the average school, the idea is that you work inside and go out for a break. we need the reverse. >> they get to run around, explore, and i think really learn some foundational life concepts. >> reporter: children connecting to the environment instead of electronics. >> when he and i go hiking, he'll stop for like four minutes or five minutes and just listen and point at birds. >> angela, can you cover it with dirt? >> reporter: so-called nature schools are spreading across the country. it's not just private schools embracing the outdoors. >> this in the
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summertime, the third graders are growing corn, beans, and squash -- >> reporter: at this public school in brooklyn, what used to be a parking lot has been transformed into a garden complete with a hen house. >> we're getting kids who might not have a chance to be outside and get their hands in the dirt to get to really do that. >> reporter: in the dead of winter, classes meet in the greenhouse for a lesson that can even make kids cheer for broccoli. >> broccoli! >> reporter: it seems learning where their food comes from -- >> what about carrots, where do they grow? >> in the ground. >> reporter: can make veggies more fun. >> tasty. >> reporter: a new take on the traditional classroom that has these kids begging for more. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, brooklyn. >> don't hear much about begging for broccoli. there we have it. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. lester holt will be here tomorrow. i'm thomas roberts reporting from new york. thank you for watching, and good night. a traffic accident turns into a
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homicide investigation. the troubling scene deputies found after a car crashed into pole in the south bay. but first: a traffic accident turns into a homicide investigation. the troubling scene that the deputies found many the south bay. >> but first -- >> we lost our identity. so we're all through a number. >> a somber remembrance for japanese americans, dozens of people coming together to reflect on the impact of interment camp in the bay area. thank you for joining us. i'm peg by bunker. right now people are coming together for the remembrance of a dark

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