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tv   News 4 at 4  NBC  December 24, 2009 4:00pm-5:00pm EST

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show host has died. >> he was a pivotal member of the nbc4 family and the washington region. this afternoon, the world of sports is in mourning as family and friends pay tribute to his life and the legacy he left behind. good afternoon, everyone, on a sad day here at nbc4. >> george michael worked in radio and television for more than four decades. george died this morning after losing his battle with cancer. he was best known not only for his time as sports director here at nbc4, but also for his nationally syndicated program called "the sports machine." the show stayed on the air from 1984 to 2007. >> this sad news has the entire washington region talking today. pat collins spoke with a very close friend to george michael. but we begin with lindsay
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czarniak. everybody is sad around here today, lindsay. >> they certainly are. i just came from redskins park, and it was interesting talking to the players because many of them, even the newer players that have come in, were devastated because of the impact that george has had on them as well. he's really taken the time joke with them, to get to know them. and george basically prepared like the most professiol athletes around, the most successful ones. when he hired me, he said this job, this work, is a lifestyle. he loved absolutely everything about his job. he lived it. he earned the utmost respect of almost every athlete, coach, owner because he was real. he was not afraid to make fun of his subjects but he treated them with respect. it's impossible to find a sports journalist more loved by the people that he covered. he's most well-known for changing the face of sports broadcasting. he came to news4 in march of 1980. in september of 1984, he went
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national. his show ran across the nation for 23 years. he also was the host and creator of programs like "redskins report" and also "full court press." today i was able to talk to sonny jurgenson. >> you know, i've known how hard he's been fighting. and he fought for life a long time. >> what -- >> and he -- i could tell when we talked every day, i could tell, lindsay, when he had good days or bad days because when -- when he would call or i would call him he'd say, jurgenson! and i'd say, oh, you're having a good day, huh? and if he didn't, he was very weak and down. but he was something else. >> just shock.
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just the loss of a great friend. feel bad for the family and pat. and just -- some sadness and emptiness. wa we're going to miss george. i told my wife this morning. we're going to miss him. i mean, george was irreplaceable. he was a guy that would light up the room and he was -- he was -- he was a big personality. he was a great guy. >> dan snyder, redskins owner, told me that when he first met george, he was being interviewed by george after just taking over ownership of the redskins. he said george looked add him and he goes, you're so young. you're so young. and it was cool. dan was telling me today that that's the kind of thing that really made him respect george. he said every time he'd be interviewed by him, it turned into such an entertaining, fun experience. and i think that's the bottom line.
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>> and you mentioned entertaining and fun. we all know people who are not real sports fans or they have their favorite sports. no matter the sport, he would draw you in. and you were a fan. because of the way he told the story. >> that was -- when he hired me here five years ago, that's the way he pitched it. he said we're going to make it so that you -- people want to pay attention to your sports kst. he changed the entire way that i looked at reporting stuff. he said you've got to keep it simple, stupid. tell the story but make people out there care and everything that he did that he really lived by made a difference. it made him the success that he was. >> couldn't have said it better. that's exactly what he did. thank you, lindsay. when local tv news was the only show in town, sports casters took center stage. george certainly took center stage whenever he walked into a room. >> no one quite ran the show like our own george michael. pat collins is here now with more on that part of his legacy. pat? >> jim, in the city of washington, in the world of sports, george michael was a
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giant. and tonight, we have some expert advice on that. i was with michael as he watched reports on the death of george michael. a respected sports columnist and espn commentator worked with george michael many years. he knows sports. he knows washington. he knows george michael. >> it always got me the level of sort of reverence that big people had for george. i remember the first time i sat on the set of "redskins report" and george was telling john to shut up. i'm like, oh, my god, he's telling hall of famers to shut up. i was young. i didn't know. george -- you know, that was avenue d every day of his life. you know, just can't imagine him not being there.
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>> joining us live on the set now, tony cornhisser. i know you did a two-hour special show today about george. tell us how george michael impacted the sports world here. >> well, he was, you know, larger than life in many, many ways. for people of a certain age that go back with sports in washington, there were two giant guys. there was glenn brenner who was a comedic genius and there was george michael who outworked everybody in the room. when glenn passed away at a young age, the entire marketplace fell to george. and george never stopped running. he never took it easy. he never said i'm the king of the town. well, he did say i'm the king of the town, but he never said i'm the king of the town so i don't have to work hard. he had a great eye for talent. he was able to successfully convince channel 4 to put him on
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for like ten or 11 or 12 minutes a night. so if you wanted sports, you always knew you could look at george michael. and he also worked hard enough that he showed up at all events. a lot of guys would have sat in the studio and never left the room, but georg went to all the live events and broadcast from everywhere all the time. >> he got out there. you know, there is good tv and there is great tv. you do tv, you do print, you do radio. what was it about george michael that made great entertaining tv just come right through the screen every night? >> he understood the marriage of sports and entertainment. he wasn't afraid to be the butt of the joke. i mean, he was also louder than everybody else. he'd pick out the most famous guy in the room and start screaming at him. and everybody else would turn around. who is this guy? who is this guy coming into a black-tie event wearing cowboy boots? but george got that. that was george's move. the attention went to george and then when you were just about to say, he's completely out of place, george would turn the joke an himself and make everybody comfortable.
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there was just great comfort in being around this very loud, carnival barker of a man. what you didn't know, he was backgrounded better than everybody. he had all the facts that were necessary and other guys in the room didn't know that. >> talk about the impact of "the sports machine." that was a big step forward. that was cutting-edge. >> we did 2 1/2 hours on the radio today. one of the things that everybody understands is that george michael was espn before there was espn. george michael married tape to voice. he pressed that button nothing happened when he pressed that button. the thing was cued up long before that and he went national. he went national with a show that was in every major market in the country. wherever i went around the country, when i said i was from washington, people said, do you know george michael? there's never been a local sports caster who stayed local, stayed true to a market, who had the impact around the country
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that george had. >> every sunday night he'd wrap up the weekend like nobody else could. you talked to him just a few short weeks ago, right? >> he sounded great. i mean, he -- i subsequently found out from friends of him that he wasn't that great, but he sounded great. he had all the vim and vigor that you would expect. he was screaming at me that i still didn't learn how to get out of the segment on radio on time. i said we could do a radio show together, but i want more money than you. he said, that is not going to happen. >> never lost his sense of humor. >> never. >> i went to a number of super bowls with him. he would do the sports things. i was soimpressed with his work ethic. i have never seen anybody work as hard as george michael did on stories to get things right on the air. >> he didn't want you to think he was working hard. but you were astonished by all the layers of the work that went into everything he had. and he also -- he broke stories. a lot of tv sports people just do highlights. george went out and broke stories. that always meant something to him, that he kept contacts
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around in every sport in the city. >> do you think there will ever be another sports caster in the same kindness as george michael? >> he's the last dinosaur out there. the last guy that was a colossus in his own market. because now with espn and with blogs and websites, you can't wait until 5:00 or 6:00 or 11:00. it doesn't work that way anymore. and no guy can stand on top of a local market and be that big anymore. they can't demand 10 or 11 minutes. i think you've seen the last great giant in loc sports. >> and we're worse off for it? >> absolutely. absolutely. >> all right. tony, thank you so much for coming in today. >> my pleasure. >> he was your friend and he was ours. thank you, tony. news4 will have continuing coverage of the death of george
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michael throughout the evening. also turn to and leave a comment. we'll share some of your thoughts throughout this newscast. and turning now to our other big story of the day. a live look outside now, but there's some big changes headed this way for christmas. veronica johnson is in the storm center with what we can expect in the forecast. >> thanks a lot, jim and pat. yeah, we're looking at what it is looking more and more like an unfriendly weather system for christmas day. for the first half of christmas dareally. after midnight we could see a little bit of freezing drizzle setting up. for anyone getting on the road early, 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., there could be a light icing on the roadways even locally here, especially in the counties where the national weather service has issued a winter storm watch. those are the counties that are filled in. howard county, baltimore county, most of northern maryland, rappahannock and culpepper county. l the way off to the west. it's the valleys west that could
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have the icing setting up for a little longer. digital doppler xt, it is dry across the area. it's really the east wind and drizzle that we'll have coming in after midnight. the bulk of the rain comes our way i think really during the afternoon tomorrow. and there is a lot of moisture, again, with this weather system. you can see the snow there in areas up through the high plains. and also a flood watch. so we've got rapid melting snow to deal with and a lot of rain. so flood watch already up for the area. it starts friday afternoon and goes through friday night. more details in a few minutes. >> thanks, veronica. "news4 at 4" is just getting started with you this afternoon. one step closer. >> up next at 4:15, the senate passes health care reform. but the move only sets up another struggle among the democrats. then at 4:30, what police are now doing in hopes of finding a utah mom missing for nearly three weeks. and at 4:45, the pope is
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stirring up controversy today making big changes to an annual historic event.
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the senate came together early this morning for a rare holiday vote on the historic health care reform bill. the bill passed, and now the real negotiations begin. steve handelsman is live on capitol hill with the very latest on this christmas eve vote. >> thanks. good evening. there was no suspense here on the hill today. this was final passage. democrats only needed 51 vos. but there was drama nonetheless. a major legislative move on an unusual day. instead of being back at home with their families, lawmakers came here. every senate democrat and independent showed up for the rare christmas eve vote. the first since 1895. bernie sanders of vermont ran in at the last minute.
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>> mr. sanders. >> this is just the beginning. with ted kennedy's voice booming in our ears. >> reporter: democrats remembered their champion of health care reform, and the late senator's widdy, vicky kennedy, celebrated the vote. it's a big win for president obama. >> the reform bill that passed the senate this morning, like the house bill, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. >> reporter: republicans disagree. >> the one test for any bill was whether it would lower costs. this bill fails that test. >> reporter: but democrats say millions of americans will now get health care coverage. >> on this christmas eve, i can't think of a better gift that the united states senate could give to our fellow citizens than lifting the burden of fear from their shoulders. >> when people learn what's actually in the bill and all the good it does, it is going to
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become more and more popular. >> reporter: recent polls show the plan losing public support. republicans still hope to defeat it. >> frankly, this is just step one. it's not passed yet. it's got a long way to go. >> a couple of votes in the house or one vote in the senate and this bill does not become law. >> reporter: that's true. president obama heads to hawaii with health care reform still unfinished. merging the house and senate bills into one will be tricky. the big issues are sure to be the public option, abortion, and how to pay for all of this. itill be a struggle mostly among democrats because if they can stay united, which will be tough, they can roll over republicans like they have so far. this could drag out into february. back to you. >> all right. we'll stay tuned. steve handelsman live on the hill. the black box from that american airlines jet that crash landed in jamaica is back in washington. now investigators will try to figure out what happened.
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officials returned the black box to reagan national airport where flight 331 originated on tuesday. it stopped in miami, then continued to kingston, jamaica, where it slid off the runway and cracked into several pces. investigators are looking at the several factors that may have contributed to the crash. >> the air traffic control tapes are going to play a very important role here as well. and then finally, maybe most importantly, the interview with the cockpit crew themselves so that they can get in their heads to try to understand why they were landing in those conditions and what decisions they were making to make sure that they could do it safely. >> the boeing 737 skidded off the runway, stopping at the edge of the caribbean sea. all 154 people on board survived. ahead on "news4 at 4" this afternoon, christmas savings. >> some helpful tips about ways to take advange of those popular holiday gift cards. plus, how residents in thailand are coping five years
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after one of the worst disasters in the world's history. and news4 viewers continue to pay their respects after learning of the death of george michael today. b. perry wrote to us and said, mr. michael was one wof a kind. he was and is a washington institution. he will be missed. my condolences to his family and many, many friends.
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tonight, millions of children around the world are anticipating his arrival. santa's arrival. the people who monitor air and space threats are taking time out to help track santa'soute tonight. it's a christmas mission that started nearly 60 years ago. th aerial surveillance attracts millions through phone calls and e-mails and the internet. the mission helps kids track santa's worldwide journey. what's that we hear? >> right. well, santa likes snow. he doesn't like rain, but kids don't worry because he's still going to come. >> he's coming despite this weather that we're expecting. >> right. >> the one -- the two of the one-two punch? >> exactly. we're dealing with ice and light glazing on roadways. and then flooding will be part two, the problems with this weather system coming in. outside right now, we have a few clouds that have started moving
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in, but for the most part a good deal of sunshine today. temperatures in the 30s. right now, it's dry. not a drop. meanwhile, closest rain to us right now around south bend, indiana. around chicago, conditions have changed to mostly rain. in fact, through most of illinois and some heavy rain down south, from arkansas through mississippi, big-time rain here and severe thunderstorms. a little bit of everything with this system from blizzard conditions to thunderstorms and still snow continues to accumulate with travel troubles through here. winter storm warnings remain up all the way down to areas of western missouri. a tornado watch until 6:00 p.m. central standard time for mississippi. so there's the low. this low will be tracking west of our area. it heads northeastward up towards the midwest. here you go. your futurecast, what you can expect for the next 48 hours. i think with the east wind we'll see drizzle setting up after
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midnight. then the bulk of the rain comes friday night into saturday morning. as much as 3/4 to an inch of rain. here's the timing for frozen precip around here, especially in the valleys west. about 7:00 a.m., about 10:00 a.m. here, is where we could see just a little bit of icing, some of the more moisture heads in. cumberland up to state college, maybe some problems there as well. 35 to 27, temperatures drop down to tonight. freezing drizzle. a light glazing on area roadways. for tomorrow, rain becomes more widespread and flooding being the second problem with this weather system. back to you. >> all right, thanks, veronica. don't forget "news4 at 4" is on facebook and twitter. we're always posting breaking news, weather, and traffic reports. you can find us on both social networking sites by searching "news4 at 4." there is much more ahead. new at 4:30, home for the holidays. >> a christmas miracle for an american child at the center of
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an international custody battle. plus, the new move by the police as the search intensifies for that missing utah mother. and remembering the life of legendary sportscaster george michael.
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and welcome back, everyone, to "news4 at 4." i'm jim hanley. >> i'm pat lawson muse. we wibegin this half hour remembering george michael. george was a dynamic force around the news4 newsroom. he was a pioneer in sports broadcasting. he spent 27 years here as sports director. >> george also created the nationally syndicated "george michael sports machine" which aired for more than two decades. here's a look back now at some of his memorable moments.
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♪ >> my first guest was named last year's sportscaster of the year. he's host of a show called "sports machine." it's now carried on the nbc networks. would you welcome george michael. george? ♪ >> this is rather unusual, isn't it, for a local sports show to become a national -- to go nationally? >> it usually doesn't happen. when i was in new york, we had this idea and the folks at nbc said let's test it first. obviously they didn't make you do that with the monologue tonight. they made me test it, and it went fairly well. >> yeah. >> i knew this was coming! ♪
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>> oh! >> i'm trying to get a nice interview. do you like jim vance? >> i used to know him as freddy blassy. he's now -- the new name is what, sir? >> listen, you pencil-necked geek! >> a cool night tonight with some high clouds. >> everybody else said tha it would rain tomorrow. he said that it would not rain, and it ain't going to rain tomorrow. i'll go with bob. >> you said if it did rain, we're in big trouble, right? >> if it rains, you'll be on the floor. >> the final will then pit them against sweden which beat russia 4-3. >> what? what did you say? let me see that. what did you say? >> hey, man. go ahead and kick it. i want to watch your foot. go ahead. >> oh! >> that's what happens out there. >> oh!
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>> you son of a gun. let me show you something. help me out. >> give me a kiss. give me a kiss. one more kiss and we'll get out of here. come here, baby. come on. >> i'm george michael. there is nothing like friday night rodeo and, folks, that's no bull. ♪ >> well, today is the day he arrives. and it's the bull that jim vance is going to ride. the legend of mesquite. would you say that -- and joe will spend very little time wasting time. you know what he wants to do. jim, you ready to ride him? >> huh-uh. i'd rather get in the ring with larry holmes, man. >> is that your final word? >> i'd rather rwrestle superman.
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> george michael was 70 years old. he'd been battling cancer for two years. mayor adrian fenty is also remembering george today. in a statement released, the mayor says michael was a prominent fixture providing the most accurate and spirited sports news and highlights. he truly captured the hearts and minds of sports fans in washington and all over the country. although he will be greatly missed, his legacy will live in with millions of fans and sportscasters inspired by his enduring career. news4 will have continuing coverage of the death of george michael throughout the evening. you can also turn to our website,, and share your thoughts. we'll share your comments throughout this newscast. police in utah are still searching for a woman who's been missing for weeks now. and they want to question her husband again.
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susan powell, the mother of two, disappeared earlier this month. police have not named her husband as a suspect, but they say he is a person of interest. josh powell had already given police a dna sample. now police want to interview him again. susan powell's friends say the couple had a troubled marriage and they want him to cooperate with the police. >> there something that josh knows and he needs to at least talk to the police. if he's innocent, give them the information so they can stop looking at him. >> investigators have not been able to verify powell's story that he took his boys camping the morning his wife disappeared. police have not named powell as a suspect, but he has retained a lawyer. after five years apart, a new jersey man and his young son are spending the holidays together now. it's the culmination of a long custody battle for david goldman. he lost his son, sean, five years ago after his wife brought
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their son to her native brazil. she remarried and died last year. sean's step-family handed him over today under the court order from brazil's supreme court. and now he and his father are landing back in the u.s. soon. just ahead on "news4 at 4," what you didn't know about those holiday gift cards that could save you a lot of money. plus, what doctors are saying about vitamin c and its effects on the human body. and all day, viewers have been reacting to the death of george michael. one viewer writes in, i, too, grew up watching george. he will forever be a part of my memories of sports in the washington area. jim and george had such incredible chemistry, and they would make each other lose their serious news faces in a heartbeat.
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they are the popular gift this holiday season, gift cards. and you may get more than one this year. we have some suggestions about the best way to use them. treat your gift cards like cash. spend it on somhing you really need or want and be sure to keep that card in a safe place. you can also swap gift cards with a friend or online at
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plast and you can always regift a gift card. we've got tricky travel weather. if you're heading out, we've got a dicy night and morning tomorrow. >> veronica, give us the good and the bad of this. >> the good? let's see, the good will be that when the realeavy rain gets here, temperatures will be warm enough. the bad is for anyone that has to get on the road late tonight, early part of the day tomorrow. there will be major slowdowns on the roadways, especially heading up into pennsylvania or down south. temperatures right now are in the 30s. mid and upper 30s, increasing cloud cover for the next couple of hours. remaining dry until midnight as temperatures drop below freezing. after midnight we get the freezing drizzle. there could be 3/4 of an in of ice and light enough on area roads here, a trace of accumulation. could be just enough to make for slick conditions on any of the untreated roads. again, it's heavy rain friday night. and temperatures by that time should be about 35 to 40. should be okay.
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but heavy rain and that means potential for flooding. jim, pat? >> thanks, veronica. when we come back on "news4 at 4", midnight mass. >> how the pope is changing this annual holiday tradition, and why it's stirring up controversy. and a look back othat how residents are recovering after a killing tsunami in thailand.
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it is a few minutes after 10:00 p.m. in rome now, and midnight mass is getting under way at the vatican. this year, the pope decided to hold the mass two hours earlier than usual. the departure from tradition is generating some controversy. martin fletcher explains. ♪ >> reporter: it was seasonal cheer during the pope's general audience wednesday. benedict the 16th message was traditional enough.
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>> god conquers our hearts not by force but by love. >> reporter: but the pope overturned tradition by moving midnight mass up two hours early. why did he do that? is pope benedict sick? the short answer, no. at 83 years old, pope benedict is simply an elderly man with a busy schedule who just wants to pace himself. >> i really don't think that there are any major problems with his health. otherwise, we would have seen something. he gave anddress yesterday. he is basically on tv nearly evy day. and he seems to be quite okay. >> reporter: today, the tourists and residents filling the streets of rome weren't talking about the pope's health. >> ho ho ho! >> reporter: it's just good old
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family fun. martin fletcher, nbc news in rome. >> the vatican is fending off criticism about another issue. the pope signed a decree that moved pope pious closer to sainthood. the vatican insists pious used quiet diplomacy instead and that speaking out more forcefully would have resulted in more deaths. there will be christmas mass at midnight near the church of the nivity in bethlehem. thousands of christian pilgrims have arrived in the small town. the weather is unseasonably wild there this year, with temperatures approaching 70 degrees. bethlehem is in t central west bank in palestinian territory. ism tourism has recently picked up in the last few years
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the government of thailand is getting ready to mark the five-year anniversary of that terrible tsunami. it was december 26th, 2004, when giant waves destroyed entire villages along the indian ocean coast in southeast asia. about 230,000 people in 11 countries were killed. foreign tourists are now arriving to take part in memorials to mark the somber anniversary. still ahead on "news4 at 4," your health. >> the unexpected new benefit of vitamin c. plus, all the hot shots of the year 2009. and comments continue to pour in to our newsroom this afternoon following the death of george michael. doris writes, i am shocked and so sad to hear of his passing. as i sit here with tears running down my cheeks, i feel as though i've lost a family member. i will miss you. rest in peace, friend.
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many of us take vitamin c in hopes it will ward off illness. now researchers have found a new benefit. it may help review the body's damaged cells. a new study suggests that vitamin c helped generate
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embryonic stem cells. it speeds up cell changes in mice and humans. the reprogrammed cells could have huge potential to help people suffering from degenerative diseases. >> another good reason to drink your oj. turning to the weather, let's get the latest on it, veronica. >> thanks a lot, jim and pat. we are not going to be slowed by any big paralyzing snowstorm across the area, but we are going to be slowed down on area roads with a little bit of icing. here's what's going on. outside right now as we look there, the capital in the distance, increaser cloud cover the next couple of hours. we'll remain dry unt we get to about midnight. and temperatures drop below freezing after midnight. i think locally we'll see a little bit of drizzle setting up. and there might be trace acc accumulation by the time we get the sunrise friday. that could be just enough to put down a light coat of ice on any untreated roads by 6:00, 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. because of that, the national weather service has issued a
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winter storm watch that covers the area there with the possibility of, again, some icing on any untreated roads. so travel will be slowed tomorrow morning. we've got 37 degrees for a temperature. 36 in manassas. same thing down in quantico. pax river at 34 degrees. by tomorrow we'll drop down into the teens to low and mid-20s right in d.c. again, the bigger problems will be west. that's where the cold air could stay trapped, especially in the valleys off to the west. maybe 3/4 inch of ice in some locations there through the valleys. and with that could be some power lines being weighted. we will see a high temperature of 40 degrees tomorrow. and know that for tomorrow evening, temperatures will likely stay between about 34 and 38 degrees. so i'm not worried so much about tomorrow night and the temperatures as i am about tomorrow morning. 40 is our high. again, with the fact that we've got a lot of meltingnow tomorrow and an inch of rain comi in here, there could be some minor flooding taking
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place. because of that, we have a flood watch that covers much of the viewing area. here's a look at your four-day forecast. saturday up to 50 with rain ending. 52 on sunday. right now, new year's eve is looking dry. back to you. >> thanks confetti there coming down. >> is that what that was? >> yeah. after the break on "news4 at 4," the video that had the whole nation talking. >> all the hot shots of 2009 that y don't want to miss.
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from cars spinning out of control to criminals caught on tape and, of course, the miracle on the hudson, they are all pictures that captured our attention. many of the images stopped us in our tracks. here now are some of the most memorable shots of 2009. ♪ >> oh, god, please hurry. ♪
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>> you can look right inside the tornado. that is unbelievable. look at that! >> i'm really sorry i yelled at him. ♪ >> he said, look, we're going down. brace for impact. and everyone kind of looked at each other and said some prayers, you know. i said about five hail marys. and we did the water. >> daddy!
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>> how are you doing? i missed you. you okay? ♪ ♪
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and that's "news4 at 4." "news4 at 5" starts right now. tonight, we are mourning the loss and celebrating the irrepressable life of our friend and colleague, george michael. i'm wendy rieger. >> good evening. i'm jim hanley. george died this morning from leukemia at the age of 70. >> george was big and bold and bombastic. the quintessence of a sportscaster. he was a showman and a fan who knew how to seize the stage and make sports the highlight of every newscast. he was a broadcast pioneer who brought passion and exuberance and the best sports video to our tv screens. and he knew that sports had to be a joyful mix of humor and drama. and then he took it one step further and made it as dazzling as a vegas show. george was more than a friend and a


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