tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 29, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
on the broadcast tonight, not again. a major new storm system slams the soaked west coast and heads towards the still buried east as some fed-up airline passengers take matters into their own hands. fined. brett favre gets a slap on the wrist in the case of those very inappropriate text messages. the serious death at the home of a man with one of coorate america's most famous names. and warming up. florida's favorite manatees finding shelter from the frigid temperatures that threaten their lives. plus, one of the greats in american music is gone. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening to our viewers on the west coast. i'm lester holt in tonight for brian williams. while here in new york we're digging out from a blizzard and florida is thawing out from a deep freeze, it's the west in nature's sights tonight. from washington state to southern california, many folks still recovering from last week's storm are now getting hit again with heavy rain and snow. and all eyes tonight are on some of those soggy, fragile hillsides. it's a late december storm system that forecasters expect to head east, making for a rough start to the new year for a lot of americans. we'll begin our coverage in highland, california, with nbc's kristen welker. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. residents are still cleaning up and digging out after that last storm system. this community, like other parts of the west, spent the day bracing for the worst. heavy rain pounded southern california's already saturated
streets, this after a week of wet weather that caused mudslides, so damaging about 100 residents had to be evacuated in the highland area. some homes completely destroyed. >> never seen it do anything like this before. >> reporter: maria ledford worries this latest system could cause the huge hill next to her house to collapse. >> i'm afraid. everyone here is keeping their fingers crossed and their toes. hoping that we won't get too much more rain. >> reporter: crews shored up homes like the ledfords, placing 150,000 sandbags throughout the area. and they cleaned out the debris from storm basins. some parts are expected to get as much as three inches of rain. >> the biggest concern right now is keeping the debris basins low enough to handle whatever flows out of the mountain so that it doesn't come down into the city. >> reporter: a rock slide rattled nerves and closed part of highway 99 in oregon city. in jackson hole, wyoming, visibility was just over a mile, when an american airlines flight
slid off the runway. there were no injuries according to the faa. but there is desperation in lake tahoe, where a blizzard is hampering the search for a missing snowboarder. >> it's been very difficult. like i said earlier, the blizzard conditions, the heavy snow, the heavy winds. there are no tracks that we can find. >> reporter: some areas could see whiteout conditions with heavy snow totals bringing a mountain of headaches. major roads were brought to a stand still during the morning commune in washington state. the weather dominating local news casts. >> the second winter storm in a week. >> reporter: forecasters predict it could get worse. especially in southern california, where heavy winds are on the horizon. >> i think the worst may be yet to come, because we could have 65 to 75-mile-an-hour winds tonight in some very vulnerable spots and a dropping snow level. >> reporter: forecasters also say temperatures will drop overnight. they now expect this storm to head eastward and bring heavy
snowfalls to areas like colorado, utah, and arizona. lester? >> kristen welker in california. here in new york, new problems from the blizzard that hit three days ago as tourists are pouring into the big apple for new year's eve, locals are struggling to get back to normal. and there are a lot of complaints about how the city has handled this snow emergency. nbc's jeff rossen is in brooklyn for us. jeff? >> reporter: hi, lester. good evening to you. as you pointed out a couple nights ago, new york city prides itself on a great response to emergencies. and normally they are. even the mayor admitted today, they made some mistakes. take a look around, the evidence is here. this street is a mess, many streets around here are a mess. and now two people are dead, including a newborn, because the ambulances simply couldn't get to them. tens of thousands of new yorkers woke up to this today. untouched, unplowed side streets three days after the storm. buses, ambulances, even plows themselves stuck.
>> not even a fire truck could get through here. there's an old age home right down there. they never cleaned the streets. >> reporter: these impassable streets have already seen tragedy. unable to leave home, a woman gave birth in the lobby of her building. it took paramedics nine hours to show up and her newborn died. an elderly woman had trouble breathing. help didn't arrive for three hours but too late to help. >> i miss her. she's my life. the snow will melt, but this will never fade from my memory, ever. >> reporter: new york's mayor could only apologize. >> my heart goes out to those who experienced trauma and tragedy during the storm. we take our emergency life saving responsibilities very seriously. and i'm extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency response systems performed. >> reporter: monday, new york's 911 system received 49,478 calls. the mayor admits dispatchers were overwhelmed.
angry neighbors don't understand why plows have been mia for more than 50 hours. >> we shouldn't have to be out here shoveling ourself. >> reporter: air travel is still a mess, as well. there was some improvement today fewer cancellations, but some 3,400 stranded passengers are still waiting for flights. >> there may be a chance i'll never get out. that's the frustrating part about it. >> reporter: even when you do fly, it's not always over. an nbc producer shot this cell phone video onboard a turkish airlines flight, stuck on the tarmac at jfk for over six hours. >> the water bottles that you see behind me are some of the last water bottles available on the plane. passengers are getting pretty irritated. >> reporter: analysts say this could cost the airlines as much as $150 million. but lester, clearly here on the streets, these neighbors that we've been talking to are just focused on getting these roads cleaned. plows have been driving by, but clearly a lot of work left to do. >> jeff rossen for us in
brooklyn tonight. jeff, thanks. the scenes of the airports could be just about anywhere. there are severe weather delays, provoking universal anger and frustration. turns out something similar has been going on this week in moscow, where the anger took on a whole different dimension prompting prime minister vladamir putin himself to weigh in today. nbc's martin fletcher has more tonight. [ speaking russian ] >> reporter: prime minister putin has taken over. today, he demanded airport officials "stop whining and start working." a bit late, though. airport chaos began sunday and is smoother today. moscow's two biggest airports mostly shut for two days after neck snapping changes in temperature. warmer weather melted snow, then cold weather froze the water. planes and tarmac covered in a sheet of ice. 20,000 passengers were stranded. shouting "shame, shame," they called tuesday for information, food, water, transport home. instead, food venders jacked up
prices up to 300%. cab drivers tripled the price of a ride back to town. and more than 10,000 people, he says, some are about to faint. she says the toilets aren't working. there's no water in the sinks. no coffee, no tea. passengers are beating up airline staff and now the prime minister is catching up. responding to furious passenger complaints, he banned vacations for ministers and governors in case of more weather crises. although airport officials say everything is now under control. >> translator: the overall situation has stabilized. all airline flights are operating on schedule, despite the harsh weather conditions. >> reporter: tonight, many of the delayed flights are taking off. but there's every sign the problem isn't over. power lines are down. roads blocked and traffic backed up for miles. and winter has hardly begun. but prime minister putin is determined to have seen the last of this. martin fletcher, nbc news,
london. back in the country, a followup tonight on that ski lift accident in maine. investigators say high winds played a role but are not ruling out mechanical problems. maintenance workers had noticed the cable was out of place, and were preparing to shut down the lift when the cable jumped its tracks. five chairs fell, eight people were injured and dozened has to be rescued from the lift. now to the text messaging scandal that's rocked the career of quarterback brett favre. the nfl fined him today for not cooperating with their investigation into nasty messages sent to a new york jets employee. our justice correspondent pete williams joins us from our washington bureau tonight with more on this. pete? >> reporter: lester, the allegations against brett favre surfaced two months ago, potential violations of the nfl's strict rules governing player conduct. but tonight, the league says the fine is for his failure to be completely responsive during its investigation, not for misconduct.
the trouble for brett favre, now a quarterback for the minnesota vikings, began brewing in october. that's when a website claimed that during the one season he played for the new york jets in 2008, he sent suggestive voice mails and revealing pictures of himself to this woman, jen sterger, described as a game hostess for the jets, and a former sideline reporter and model. favre refused to talk about it. >> that's a league issue that i just have to leave at that. >> reporter: today, 2 1/2 months later, the nfl fined him $50,000. the nfl said commissioner roger goodell could not conclude that favre violated workplace conduct rules. it was impossible, the league said, to tell whether favre sent the revealing pictures. but the nfl said favre was not candid, making the investigation and the negative publicity last even longer. cnbc's reporter darren ravell says that's not much for someone making $16 million a year. >> if brett favre got suspended for a game, one game, he would have lost $683,000.
so $50,000 seems relatively small. >> reporter: jen sterger and her lawyer called the fine extremely disappointing. in a written statement, they said the evidence showed a pattern of lewd and offensive behavior. the nfl's action, they said, is an affront to all females and shows that despite the tough talk, the nfl remains a good ole boys league. favre's career may be about over. he was sidelined in last night's game against the eagles after suffering a series of injuries this season, most recently a concussion on december 20th against the bears. here's another way to look at the size of today's penalty. it would be the same percentage if a person making $42,000, the median in the u.s., was fined $130. lester? >> pete williams tonight, thanks. we learned that the fbi is investigating complaints that former delaware senate candidate christine o'donnell used campaign funds for personal expenses.
she raised a record $7.3 million with tea party backing and she was dogged by allegations that she used campaign funds to pay her rent, among other things. she called the investigation phony and based on unsubstantiated rumors. overseas, police in denmark and sweden said today they stopped an imminent terrorist attack with the arrest of five people. authorities said the five planned to attack the office of a newspaper in copenhagen that had published cartoons of the prophet muhammad and to shoot as many people as possible in the newsroom. when "nightly news" continues in a moment, a family with an iconic american name, an heir with a past, now a mysterious death at his home. and later, florida's beloved manatees having weather problems of their own. the struggle to stay warm in some record-breaking cold.
the sudden and mysterious death of a young woman has put the spotlight on a storied american family, the busches of st. louis. for more than a century, five generations of busches owned anheuser-busch, the brewers of budweiser. nbc's john yang has the latest tale of intrigue. >> reporter: the busch family name casts a long shadow over st. louis. it's on city's baseball stadium, as well as on the historic brewery, a major employer. so the 911 call from the gated mansion two sundays ago was sure to get attention. >> emergency 911. >> yeah, we need an ambulance. >> okay, what's the problem? >> this girl is just not waking up. >> reporter: paramedics found 27-year-old adrienne nicole marten, dead. an official cause won't be known until toxicology results come back, which could take weeks. in a statement, busch's lawyer said there was absolutely no indication of any suspicious
circumstances. martin and the 46-year-old busch, both divorced, had been dating for about a year. >> according to her family, august busch was the love of her life. >> reporter: it's the latest chapter in the saga of this prominent but troubled family. there have been personal scandals. one of busch's half uncles shot shot a friend and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. another half uncle allegedly bit off part of a man's ear. and when he was 19, busch crashed his car. his female passenger died. no charges were filed. >> somebody said this is sort of like our kennedy family. >> reporter: there's been corporate intrigue. in 1975, busch's father, august busch iii, staged a board room coup to replace his father as ceo and only reluctantly handed the job to his son. august bush iv was the sixth member of his family to run the brewery that bears their name, and he's likely to have been the last. >> the king of beers. >> reporter: soon after he took
over, belgium based imbev brought anheuser-busch for a record $52 billion. busch's father, still on the board, supported the deal, despite busch's vow that it would never happen on his watch. it ended 156 years of family control and put an iconic american brand in foreign hands. >> august iv was absolutely absolutely devastated when the company was sold. because he knew he had made a promise. >> reporter: since then, busch has stayed out of the headlines until that 911 call from his mansion ten days ago. john yang, nbc news, st. louis. on wall street today, stocks continued to drift higher in very light holiday week trading. the dow finished the day up just under ten points. up next, saying goodbye to one of the greats in american music.
2011 could get off to a very good start for a lucky lottery ticket buyer. the multistate mega millions jackpot is up to $237 million, and the drawing happens new year's eve, this friday night at 11:00 eastern. so here's the deal. the winner buys the midnight champagne, okay? the british media are reporting that prince william and his fiance, kate middleton, will depart from tradition in at least one respect, they will not have any butlers or servants living with them, at least for now. this is in stark contrast to william's father, prince charles, who reportedly employs 149 people on his staff. including butlers, chauffeurs, valets and chefs. the daily telegraph says the couple believe that sharing their home with servants would ruin the intimacy of their marriage.
a member of the real 46 life family that inspired "the sound of music" has died. she played the guitar and was more reserved in real life than her movie character. she also said she cried the first time she saw the film because it portrayed her father as strict and cold. which she said was inaccurate. she was 97 years old. also tonight, jazz legend pianist billy taylor has died. ♪ over six decades, he composed hundreds of songs and recorded with some of the giants of jazz. but he'll be best remembered as an ambassador of the music, both at the piano and on television, including the 1958 show "the subject is jazz." he spoke about it to gene shallot back in 1990. >> you also think of jazz as the american classical music, is that right? >> that's right. it takes all the elements of our culture, and puts them in one perspective, which is unique to us, and speaks about the idea of personal freedom, which is very
big these days around the world. >> more recently, billy taylor was a familiar face to "sunday morning." tonight, the show's host is remembering billy taylor as the heart, soul and brain of jazz. taylor died tuesday of heart failure. he was 89. when we come back here tonight, how do you keep a thousand-pound sea cow warm when the water turns dangerously cold?
we're not sure why this video went viral but who can resist a dancing penguin? though the music playing in the background is a laconic version of "auld lang syne," this little guy's happy feet were certainly dancing to his own tune. this harsh winter has brought penguin style temperatures all the way to south florida, presenting a problem for the manatees who live in the normally warm waters. nbc's kerry sanders reports on the effort to help keep these gentle sea creatures safe and warm. >> reporter: beneath the steamy waters here in florida, a migration is under way. herds of endangered manatees in
search of warmth. this week, the weather in parts of the state dipped into the teens, turning their watery homes frigid. >> manatees are actually a very temperature sensitive species. they're subtropical. so any water temperatures below 68 degrees fahrenheit, they can become susceptible to cold stress syndrome. >> reporter: in florida where it's been below freezing 25 days so far this year, scientists blame cold stress syndrome for 263 manatee deaths, almost five times as many as last year, and more than nine times as the year before. >> there you go. keep eating all your food. >> reporter: at the miami seaquarium, pig pen, a 350-pound manatee, is now in recovery, after he was pound floating listless near ft. pierce, a victim of the cold. >> pig pen's prognosis is good, but there are so many out there trying to deal with what mother nature has dealt them this year, and they're just not making it.
>> reporter: near tampa today, to the delight of spectators, hundreds of manatees gathered in the warm waters created by the power plant. same thing on florida's east coast, but with several power plants off line and under construction, the warm water in some spots only exists this year because of state law. at a cost of more than $4 million, lawmakers require the electric company set up temporary heaters to keep the manatees warm. and who pays? customers. >> we really haven't heard complaints to protect the manatees. this is costing customers just a few cents. >> reporter: florida manatees. just trying to escape the weather like so many others this week. kerry sanders, nbc news, ft. lauderdale. >> that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt in for brian williams. hope to see you back here tomorrow evening. good night, everyone. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com .