tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 16, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
tomorrow. quarter to half inch. dry weather by friday and saturday. >> that's going to do for us at 5:00. as a reminder, lester holt is next with "nightly news." breaking news tonight. at least four americans killed and three other americans wounded in a horrific attack in syria. a suicide bomber striking at a restaurant popular with u.s. soldiers. now isis claiming responsibility. the attack coming after president trump announced troops were pulling out. richard engel is in syria for us tonight. also breakin the feds arrest a man accused of plotting an attack on the white house. our pete williams has late details. an american among the dead in that massacre at a luxury hotel overseas. he was a young ceo who helped with rescue efforts on 9/11. we're at the scene. storm brewing from coast to coast. erupts over the state a foot of snow in n ad ess. parts of the northeast. another major
al roker is here. it changed this teenager's life. but it's the most expensive drug in america. >> $850,000. how do you justify that? >> how could one treatment cost that much? families demanding answers as a doctor is accused of giving their loved ones fatal doses to hasten their deaths. the hospital says there could be dozens of cases. and a big change on the american road. what's in, what's out, and why more people are ditching their sedans. good evening, everyone. a deadly terror attack has taken the lives of four americans, injuring three others in syria. tonight isis is claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing at a restaurant. the blast coming soon after president trump declared isis had been defeated and ordered a u.s. pullout from syria. the casualties include u.s. troops and civilians. nbc's richard engel is in syria tonight with new
details on this stunning attack. >> reporter: multiple witnesses tell nbc news u.s. troops were at a restaurant halfway down this street, and then this happened when a man in civilian clothing approached the door. a suicide bomber apparently lying in wait with a powerful explosive vest. four americans were killed. two u.s. service members, a civilian working for the defense department, and a contractor. as rescue helicopters came in, witnesses told nbc news u.s. forces may have set a dangerous pattern coming to this same restaurant repeatedly. isis almost immediately claimed responsibility. the group, it seems, trying to show the world president trump is wrong. >> we've beaten them badly, we've taken back the land, and now it's time for our troops to come back home. >> reporter: but u.s. troops are still here in syria for now. and their allies,
kurdish forces, who took us into the battle zone, say the u.s. is leaving a war that's not finished. these areas here on the front line are completely devastated, and u.s. and kurdish-led forces are still fighting against isis. there are as many as 4,000 isis fighters still in this area. hardly mission accomplished. vice president pence today sees it differently. >> the caliphate has crumbled and isis has been defeated. we'll stay in the fight to ensure that isis does not rear its ugly head again. >> reporter: but one of president trump's allies is warning about pulling out the 2,000 u.s. troops in syria too soon. >> it's set in motion enthusiasm . you make people who are trying to help wonder about us. i saw this in iraq. and i'm now seeing it in syria. >> reporter: the trump administration says it will leave the fighting on the ground here in syria to the kurds. but it's hard to see how they'll be able to do that after u.s.
troops pull out, because they have no planes, no helicopters, and almost no heavy weapons. lester? >> richard engel in syria tonight, thank you. there are tragic new developments in another terror attack overseas. the young american ceo is among the dead in that massacre at a luxury hotel in kenya. nbc's kelly cobiella has made her way to the scene. >> reporter: american jason spindler, a ceo who helped with rescue efforts on 9/11, was living in kenya and having lunch at a hotel when five suspected terrorists launched their deadly attack. it sent people running, scrambling out windows. spindler's parents in texas desperately waiting for word. >> later in the afternoon, i got the call from the embassy. letting us know that he had been identified. and he was at the morgue. >> reporter: most of the victims were kenyan. today ci on a morgue. this woman told me she lost her
sister. the hotel is just at the end of that road, and more than 24 hours after the attack began police were still trying to clear it of explosives. back in texas, spindler's parents say he would have turned 41 next monday. >> we were getting ready to get together with him for his birthday. he was going to come back to the states. unfortunately it's not going to happen. we have to go and bring him home now. >> he's just my baby. and i miss him. >> reporter: the al qaeda-linked terror group al shabaab has claimed responsibility. the country still on toght. le>> kelly cobiella, thanks. there's breaking news about the threat of terrorism tonight this time at home. feds making an arrest, they say the suspect wanted to attack the white house. pete williams is in washington. pete, what are you learning about this? >> reporter: lester, the fbi says it was alerted to
this 21-year-old man, hasher taheb, by somebody in the atlanta area. last september fbi undercover operatives began meeting with him. court documents say he told them he wanted to attack the white house with guns and explosives but he didn't have any of his own. he was arrested today after receiving them from the undercover operatives. authorities are searching his house tonight, but there never was any threat. he was under close surveillance. despite the government shutdown, fbi agents are still working cases even though they're not getting paid. lester? >> and pete, as that shutdown continues, some federal workers are now lining up at soup kitchens to feed their families. meantime in washington a new fight erupting over the shutdown and president trump's state of the union address. peter alexander with details on speaker pelosi's new power play. >> mr. speaker, the president of the united states! >> reporter: one of the biggest nights of the year for president trump may be off, possibly shutting down the state of the union. speaker nancy pelosi urging the president to postpone his annual address or deliver it in writing. in this new letter
citing security concerns, noting that due to the shutdown, the department of homeland security and secret service have been hamstrung by furloughs. >> he can make it from the oval office if he wants. >> reporter: pelosi's deputy more definitive. >> the state of the union is off? >> the state of the union is off. >> reporter: steny hoyer's aides later insisting he misspoke. the white house tonight not responding. but homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen challenged pelosi's claim, tweeting dhs and the secret service are fully prepared to support and secure the state of the union. even though agents and dhs staff aren't presently being paid. the white house now acknowledges the shutdown that's dragged into its fourth week is taking a much bigger toll on the economy than first estimated. the trump administration, anxious to avoid alienating the president's base, is looking to help hard-hit farmers, temporarily reopening some usda offices to clear the backlog of farmers waiting for federal payments and loans. peter alexander, nbc news, the white house.
this is tom costello. across the country, the faces of the shutdown. hundreds of thousands struggling without a paycheck. >> would you like any soup? >> yes, please. >> reporter: in the nation's capital, at world central kitchen, thousands showed up for a free meal in the shadow of the buildings where they normally work. among them anita gonzales evans, who works at department of interior. >> i never thought i'd have to come get a free lunch like this, but i am really trying to save my money. >> reporter: there's an unintended symbolism here. the food bank sits right here on pennsylvania avenue, exactly the halfway point between capitol hill and the white house. the trump administration has now selectively recalled 50,000 workers and high-profile agencies, though still working without pay. faa aircraft inspectors, fda food inspectors, and irs tax collectors. including nic trujillo in utah, going back to work on friday. >> they get to continue to receive their paychecks. and what are they doing to me? they're, you know -- i'm two
weeks away from living on the street. they're not. >> reporter: meanwhile, tonight the tsa chief says more of his officers are not coming to work, citing financial hardship. tom costello, nbc news, washington. let's take a turn to shocking e-mails involving the makers of the powerful painkiller oxycontin. prosecutors say the messages show they help fuel the opioid crisis by deceiving doctors and patients and try to blame users who got addicted. with more on that, here's kate snow. >> reporter: the sackler family is so wealthy there's new york's metropolitan museum of art named after them. they own purdue most widely in 2001 when richard sackler was head of the company, he wrote this e-mail. "we have to hammer on abusers in every way possible, they are the culprits and the problem, they are reckless criminals." the e-mails part of a court filing by the massachusetts attorney general. the filing alleges richard sackler directed
purdue staff not to tell doctors the truth about how powerful oxycontin was. >> we now know that purdue and sackler family were pushing for the strongest possible dosage to be prescribed. because they made more money. the stronger the dosage, the more money they made. but the stronger the dosage, the more people died. >> reporter: when oxycontin was first released, the massachusetts filing says richard sackler told the crowd, the launch of oxycontin tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions. the sackler family referred nbc news to purdue which said in part, the attorney general cherry-picked e-mails and the complaint is littered with biased and inaccurate characterizations of these documents. but debbie boris is furious. we followed her family for years. her son danny started on painkillers including oxycontin in high school, then turned to heroin. >> they pushed a product, they pushed a drug they knew would hurt people. i had a good boy who had a future. and he doesn't right now.
>> reporter: their life, she says, will never be the same. kate snow, nbc news, new york. tonight we're looking at yet another major storm taking aim from coast to coast. get ready for rain, slush, and snow in a lot of parts. al roker with the latest forecast. al, where's it headed? >> lester, a quick hit with this first storm system. it drops about maybe 1 to 2 inches of snow through the midwest, northeast, into new england. the second storm coming out from the west brings heavy snow from the rockies making its way thursday into friday. as it moves across the rockies, on friday that snow is into the plains with an icy mix and heavy rain down to the south. as we move into saturday, sunday, gusty winds blowing snow. snow from the plains to the northeast. totals anywhere from 3 to 6 inches through the midwest, but as you get into the northeast and new england, we're looking at anywhere from 9 to 18 inches of snow. moves out quickly sunday, then some lake effect on monday. lester? >> all right, al, we'll get the shovels ready, thanks. tonight a major safety
recall to tell you about. hyundai and kia are going ahead with a recall of nearly 170,000 vehicles due to fire risks though the government agency that oversees recalls is mostly closed due to the shutdown. for a list of the models affected, visit our facebook page. that news comes as carmakers show off their newest models at the detroit auto show. but this year it's what they're not rolling out that has a lot of people talking. here's nbc's morgan chesky. >> reporter: they're the newest rides turning heads in motor city. now turning the page on an entire industry. >> our job is to give the customers what they want. >> reporter: at ford, that means more suvs, crossovers, and pickup trucks. the car company one of many now ditching sedans in this era of low gas prices. the very vehicle once defining american drivers. >> they still get the great performance, the great fuel efficiency. this is why we're so bullish about utility vehicles. >> reporter: the sedan slump has been anything but subtle. in the past four years, sales plunged by 30%. the cause?
millions of american drivers flocking to new and improved suvs. as a result, chevrolet says its impala, now extinct. also gone, the electric volt and smaller cruz. ford phasing out all sedans from its lineup, saving only its iconic mustang. recent college grad britney rankin made the swap today. >> it was perfect to go from a sedan to the suv just because of the size. >> reporter: the consumer switch hitting companies hard. gm closing five car plants completely to focus on the new market. >> it's easier to close those down and make greater use of the assembly lines that are already in production. >> reporter: a bet by automakers hoping these head-turning cars turn a profit too. morgan chesky, nbc news, det. we're going to talk about a gut-wrenching question. is a drug worth $850,000 if it could save a child from blindness? it's the most expensive drug in america. our kristen dahlgren has more in our ongoing coverage of the high cost of drugs, "your money, your
life." >> oh, you got it -- >> reporter: a year ago this scene would have been impossible. >> where would you have to sit before to see the tv? >> normally i would be right in front of the tv. >> reporter: 14-year-old jack hogan's vision today is a scientific breakthrough. >> he walked into walls. he fell down a flight of stairs a couple of times. >> reporter: jack was born with a rare genetic disorder causing blindness, retinitis pigmentosa. >> they told us that he will probably lose his sight by the time he's 20 or 30 years old. >> reporter: last march he was the first person in the united states to receive an fda-approved gene therapy. a new drug, luxturna, was injected into his eye. jack's vision improved dramatically. while the treatment is groundbreaking, so is the price, $850,000. jeff marrazzo is ceo of spark therapeutics which makes luxturna. >> $850,000. how do you justify that?
>> we tried to take into account what is it worth to restore sight in an individual? there are institutions that have worked to try to answer that question, including the judicial system. >> reporter: marrazzo explains they looked at what juries awarded people who had been blinded to determine how much eyesight is worth. he says insurance covers the cost and that the gene therapy is a one-time treatment. but an independent watchdog group which studies drug costs says luxturna is overpriced. >> we arrived at a figure of approximately $400,000 to 50 >> reporter: marrazzo says it cost $500 million to build his company to where it is today. has spark been profitable or at what point did you turn profitable? >> we are not profitable, no. >> reporter: for families like jack's, though, the science isn't about price or profits. >> is this treatment a miracle for you? >> absolutely, 100%. he's a different child.t's about a boy
who used to walk into walls, now able to play on a basketball team. >> so really effective, but really, really expensive. we're going to be seeing more high-priced drugs? >> yeah, we are, there are dozens of them. some expected to cost in the millions of dollars which impacts all of us and our insurance. that has many calling for a new pricing system based on how well these drugs work. >> all right, kristen, thanks very much. also ahead tonight, lethal doses. we're going to talk about the doctor accused of giving patients deadly prescriptions. then the birdbox, tide pod, and more dangerous challenges. youtube now cracking down.
next tonight, the doctor accused of giving lethal doses to more than two dozen patients to hasten their deaths. here's anne thompson. >> reporter: david austin is heartbroken. >> i've had her since '82. >> reporter: missing his wife bonnie of 36 years. she died in september shortly after being rushed to mt. carmel west hospital in columbus, ohio, for shortness of
breath. >> out comes that doctor and he says, she's brain dead. then i went berserk. >> reporter: austin agreed to withdraw life support, but in a lawsuit says he didn't know dr. william husel had already administered an excessive dose of pain medication, including the opioid fentanyl, for the purpose of ending bonnie's life. >> any reasonably careful doctor would know that would cause death. >> we apologize for this tragedy. >> reporter: now in a video statement, hospital officials are apologizing, saying they found at least 27 patients near death for whom dr. husel ordered potentially fatal doses of pain medication over five years. >> the actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of mt. carmel. >> reporter: the hospital fired dr. husel, who could not be reached for comment, and suspended 20 staffmembers pending review. columbus police are investigating, while david austin seeks a legal remedy to make sure health care providers do no harm. anne thompson, nbc news. we'll take a short break. up next, youtube's new crackdown.
we've all seen them. videos of stunts like the birdbox, or tide pod challenge. now youtube is drawing a line. here's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: they're the cringe-worthy challenges deemed dangerous. potentially deadly. or just downright stupid. tonight youtube says it's banning or restricting all vil pranks and challenges, like biting into tide pods, that could result in physical harm. it comes after the explosion of birdbox challenge, where participants blindfold themselves and perform everyday tasks. but in utah, a teenager was nearly killed while driving during the birdbox challenge. >> this is one thing we never thought we'd have to say. don't drive blindfolded. >> youtube says when a questionable video is
flagged, their editors can immediately pull the clip. but the company promises this isn't the end of viral videos. so tonight, no need to worry. the "i ate all your halloween candy challenge" is here to stay. miguel almaguer, nbc news. >> got to draw the line somewhere. up next, a landmark moment in american history. we'll be right back. trees and e
locations tonight. i )m tracking it on stormranger. i )ll show you when the worst hits and the biggest flood danger. next at 6. finally tonight, when booze was banned. nbc's kevin tibbles on the landmark event of 100 years ago. ♪ >> the eagle flies at night. >> reporter: a century ago, a secret password would get you a drink in the big apple. speakeasies like chumley's were all the rage.
>> everyone from ernest hemingway to criminals. it was hustling and it was bustling. >> reporter: on this day in 1919, congress banned booze. forcing it a year later underground and into the hands of the underworld. gangsters like al capone made a killing in more ways than one. >> today i'm going to make you a gin rickey. >> reporter: jordan whips up a prohibition-era cocktail from a time when the '20s roared. ♪ >> good on a hot day. >> definitely. >> or when you're hiding out from the cops. >> exactly. >> repor thete phrase "86," which means to disappear, was coined at chumley's, located at 86 bedford street. when cops on the take would tip off the bar. >> they'd call a half hour before saying, guys, there's a raid coming, 86. everybody would go out the door. >> reporter: when prohibition ended in 1933, the suds flowed legally once again. >> if these walls
could talk, who knows what they would say. >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, new york. >> cheers. that's "nightlnow: and begin w/ a microclimate weather alert. good evening and thanks for joining us. i )m raj mathai. and i )m jessica aguirre. right on cue... the big storm is slamming the bay area ri we begin with a weather alert. >> the big storm slamming the bay area. lots and lots of green. all across the region. >> this rain and wind causing a will the of problems. we have a mud slide on highway 17. just passed. this is making the edge commute problemic for a will the of people. from the silicon valley even more sluggish. >> and strong winds knocked off trees which knocked down power lines. more than 20,000 pg&e customers without power this evening. >> in san francisco the whipping winds turned into a bumpy ferry rides. the lines there. and flooding caused a bart
station to close for a short time. >> we have teams of reporters fanned out. let's begin with chief meteorologist. >> right now what we're seeing is the worst part of the storm system moving into the north bay. approaching san francisco. and the peninsula. we have a flash flood watch in effect. up in to the north bay. picking up again. this is the worst of it right now. it will continue here. through 6:30. glen ellen through 6:41. off to the south. it's increasing as