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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  November 21, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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droop dropped in and had chinese food. >> good night. flight plan. first it was electronics, now the feds appear ready to go a step further allowing passengers to use cell phones while in the air. also the giant mistake. a jumbo jet, the freakishly large kind, lands at the wrong airport leaving pilots confused and wondering if they had enough runway to take off again. reversal of fortune. a stunning turn of events as kennedy cousin michael skakel walks out of prison. the latest chapter in a longtime murder mystery. high stakes negotiations tonight to free an 85-year-old american veteran, a grandfather detained on a tourist flight to north korea. and the final journey for jfk. and jackie kennedy. the trip to texas that started 50 years ago today. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. flying on planes in this country may never be the same again. the federal communications commission is considering allowing the use of cell phones on planes above 10,000 feet. it is safe to anticipate passenger opinions may be split on this between those who want to talk and need to talk and those who don't necessarily need to hear the intricate details of their lives, say, all the way from new york to los angeles. while it's early yet in this process, the new head of the fcc said this is just keeping up with the times. he says they're reviewing their outdated and restricted rules. the story where we begin tonight is with nbc's tom costello. he's at national airport in washington. tom, good evening. >> reporter: good evening. this is still far from reality, but it could be soon you'll be able to hear everything your seatmate says, in fact, everybody on the plane says the
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length of your entire trip. for many it's that last refuge from ringing cell phones and text messages. but now what may be the first sign that could change. the fcc says it will soon propose allowing passengers to talk on their phones in their seats above 10,000 feet. something already aloud in europe and asia but not in the u.s. in a statement the fcc commissioner said today the time is right to review our outdated and restricted rules. a public comment period would come first. >> this idea is every frequent flyer's worst nightmare, to be stuck in a tube flying 30,000 feet with people making unnecessary calls for six hours or more. >> reporter: we asked travelers for their reactions today at reagan national airport. >> way too disruptive. i like my peace. >> most of my travel is work, so it's very difficult to unplug, so i need to be connected. >> reporter: last month the faa eased restrictions on most
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portable electronic devices in flight after researchers determined they were safe. >> the policy that we put out today, i think, strikes the appropriate balance between responding to what customers want but first and foremost ensuring we have a safe environment. >> reporter: experts say the technology also exists to allow a phone call from your seat to 35,000 feet below. it would be up to the airline to decide whether to go along, but flight attendants have already made it clear they don't like the idea. >> no. we've done surveys about the use of cellular telephones, and by far passengers do not want that. passengers don't want the cell phones, and i can tell you flight attendants don't either. >> reporter: this is only a proposal and the entire rule making process takes a long time. and remember, we did used to have phones on planes, but when people realized what they were paying for the roaming charges, they kind of went away. brian? >> at least noise canceling headphones have come down in price. while we have you, there was another aviation story having to
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do with another freakishly large as we said, jumbo jet. the cargo type, landing in the wrong place. >> reporter: this was a whopper of a pilot's mistake, and it involved the 757, the dream lifter. this plane arrived from new york into kansas last night, and here's what happened. apparently the pilot got confused. they were supposed to be landing at mcconnell air force base on the outskirts of wichita. instead the plane ended up nine miles north at a tiny jabarra airport, and the crew had no idea where they were. listen to the conversation between the atlas air pilot and the tower. >> it appears that you are at jabarra airport. >> say the name it have again? >> jabarra. >> jabaro? >> j-a-b-a-r-r-a. >> reporter: the problem is getting out of there. the dream lifter generally needs
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9,000 feet for takeoff and land bing. the jabarra has 6,000 feet. they got it up after losing some fuel and lightening the load. local roads were closed just in case the dream lifter didn't get up as quickly as they hoped. they are now investigating how does this happen. you type in, you punch in your airport destination code into the cockpit computer. then you're pretty much on autopilot. then when you descend from the clouds, it is all too easy to not be paying attention. you see the first runway and you end up at the wrong airport. that seems to be what happened here. >> unbelievable turn of events. we're happy it all ended safely. tom costello, washington national forest tonight, thanks. we all heard the majority rule that that hasn't always been the rule in the u.s. senate. for about a generation, in fact, 51 out of 100 votes doesn't win all votes. when the president is trying to get a nominee through, it takes
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60, or at least it used to. today the democrats who control the senate changed the rules of the senate, and in the near future it will allow more obama nominees for things like federal judgeships to get through without a fight. both parties have complained about the 60-vote rule, and while this change doesn't mean bills will pass because the gop controls the house, it is called the nuclear option for good reason and feelings are hot once again beneath the capitol dome tonight. to our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd. and chuck, people are asking, they didn't know it could actually get worse in washington. it appears to today. >> reporter: it has. and look, this has been brewing for a decade. there was a time when a senator obama objected to republican plans to change the rules to help president bush get nominees through without a filibuster. now it's president obama praising senate democrats for doing this, and it's now senate republicans complaining.
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but as you just spelled out very well, the senate democrats changed these rules, and what it's going to lead to now is probably more acrimony. essentially what senate republicans said today to harry reid, it's okay. congratulations you changed the rules. wait until there's a republican president and that republicans become in charge in the senate. guess what. they may change the rules on legislation, and they may change the rules on supreme court nominees. and there will be a whole lot of people like clarence thomas and more clarence thomases on there. so, brian, this is going to lead to more partisan fighting. >> just what we needed to washington. chuck todd from the white house lawn tonight. chuck, thanks. tonight the obama administration is pushing back hard on reports that thousands of u.s. troops could remain in afghanistan for another decade or more as part of a deal now being debated in that country. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has that report tonight from kabul. >> reporter: on patrol over
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kabul with the afghan air force. security tight. more than 2,000 tribal elders gathered today to debate a deal that could cost the u.s. billions and leave thousands of american troops here for years. president karzai asked them to accept the deal, assuring them that american soldiers won't be doing combat missions anymore. karzai also referenced a letter from president obama confirmed by the white house, promising the u.s. will, quote, make every effort to respect the sanctity and dignity of afghans in their homes just as we do for our own citizens. if approved, the deal would commit the u.s. to support and pay for afghan security forces, allow the u.s. to keep bases with troops, weapons, and aircraft valid to 2024. president karsai today told his people 15,000 troops mostly
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american will remain in afghanistan for another ten years and then gradually draw down. they'd be operating from at least nine bases nationwide as trainers mostly. but this is a hostile environment that effectively tacks on another decade to america's longest war. the white house has a different take as secretary of state kerry told andrea mitchell today. >> let me state this very clearly. >> please. >> we are not talking about years and years. that is not what is contemplated. >> that's what the afghans say and the nfc confirmed the letter from the president. >> that is not what is contemplated, years and years. it is way shorter than any kind of years and years. >> when he tells me he's ready -- >> reporter: american troops here already train and advise afghan forces. >> they are here to prove to everybody that they can do this, and they're on their way. >> reporter: but ten more years? >> it sure sounds like a commitment to an endless war. 2024 is a long, long time from now.
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>> reporter: afghans say without u.s. support, the taliban grows, civil war returns. they are counting on the u.s. for the long haul. richard engel, nbc news, kabul. now to the other story that our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has been following for us today. an elderly american veteran, an 85-year-old man, detained on a tourist trip to north korea. and as andrea reports for us tonight, there are tense negotiations underway to set him free. >> reporter: merrill newman fought as an infantry officer for three years during the korean war. the retired teacher's life dream was to go to north korea, say family members. after nine days on a tour of the world's most isolated nation, newman and a friend were about to leave when a military officer boarded their plane taking newman away. he hasn't been seen since. alarming family and friends from his retirement home. >> i think they're all worried.
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>> reporter: now it's a matter of high-stakes diplomacy. what can you say to pyongyang, to the north koreans about the american being held? >> well, north korea really needs to recognize the dangerous steps it has been taking on many fronts. this is obviously one of those moments where north korea needs to figure out where it's heading -- and among others. and they have other people too. so these are all very, very disturbing choices by the north koreans, this kind of behavior. >> reporter: are the chinese being helpful? >> yes. >> reporter: another american, kenneth bay, has been held for more than a year and has been forced to perform hard labor for three months. his sister says he's diabetic and now hospitalized. >> we just beg for the mercy and for them to grant him amnesty.
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>> reporter: dennis rodman visited north korea to rescue bay, even called kim jong un his friend for life. but no luck bringing bay home. >> reporter: kim's father got two tv reporters who walked had wandered across the border. that is the type of succeful outcomes these families pray for. andr andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. in this country as his family members correctly predicted, reverend billy graham has been released from the hospital. he's back home in north carolina after what was a two-day hospital stay, this time for treatment of respiratory issues. graham has been in generally failing health of late. he turned 95 early this month. news about american jobs set a new record on wall street. the dough hit above 16,000 for the first time ever. applications for unemployment benefits are now close to where they were before the great recession. that was the news that helped push the dow up 109 points. nasdaq and s&p up as well.
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still ahead for us on a thursday night, a new chapter in one of this nation's most sensational outstanding murder mysteries as the man convicted from a powerful family walks out of prison. later, history waited at the other end in texas.
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as we mentioned, a stunning reversal of fortune for kennedy cousin michael skakel, ethel kennedy's nephew, who was convicted for decades after one of this country's most famous murder mysteries. tonight he walks out of prison. we get our report from nbc's rod motte in connecticut. >> reporter: 15 minutes ago, michael skakel walked out into the fall air libertied but not yet free after 27 years of a
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murder he said he didn't commit. skakel posted $1.2 million cash bail while he awaits a possible retrial of the 1975 bludgeoning death of a 15-year-old connecticut school girl. it's a saga nearly 40 years long. on halloween in 1975, martha moxley's body was found in the yard of her family's home in greenwich, connecticut. police believed she was beaten with a club found nearby. skakel's ties to the kennedy family kept him in the spotlight with books and interviews proclaiming his guilt. but it would be 25 years before skakel was indicted for the murder. >> day one in the trial of michael skakel -- >> reporter: and his trial became a cable tv event with his attorney mickey sherman taking the spotlight. but since then, the skakel family has reportedly spared no expense, spending millions on lawyers and private investigators to prove his innocence. it paid off.
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last month skakel's conviction was overturned with the appellate judge fighting an ineffective defense. the state is appealing the decision. >> michael skakel still faces murder charges and if an appeals court agrees he shouldn't get a new trial, then he will be back in prison. >> reporter: now with skakel home for the holidays, the victims mother and brother are hopeful the killer will be brought to justice. with an appeals court decision pending after nearly 40 years, the murder of martha moxley is unresolved yet again. ron mott, nbc news, stanford, connecticut. when we come back here tonight, what can happen at 200 miles an hour both good and bad.
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watch the wood frame house right there across the street. new surveillance video from a gas station camera showing just one of the tornadoes that tore up the midwest last sunday. this was diamond, illinois.
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they now believe a total of 1500 homes were lost in one day's worth of violent weather across 12 states. the scene looked like a movie set in japan. an off-shore, underwater volcano. it blew rocks about a third of a mile into the air. results in a new volcanic island now. not for nothing. that area of the ocean is known ad as the ring of fire. at the bonneville salt flats, the idea is you can drive as fast as you want to without wrecking anything. he came close to a very bad result during a recent run in a highly modified honda. he suffered a collapsed lung, was brused and cut up. but he's going to be okay. because the safety equipment in the car did its job along with the medical personnel on site. not a good outing for the seattle area chamber of commerce. as you may know, boeing plans to build and roll out a new
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building called the 777-x. the word is its wings are going to fold up. the seattle chamber badly wants it to be built out there. they took out a full page ad in the paper urging lawmakers to pass a big transportation measure. but there's a problem. the aircraft there in the graphic, that would be an air bus, and that would be boeing's european arch enemy. when we come back here tonight, the president and first lady left on a trip 50 years ago today that would end up changing the country forever.
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finally here tonight, the eve of tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the assassination of john f. kennedy. few people remember the president's trip to texas started 50 years ago today, it was a political trip. four stops. and for it the president brought along a shining star. >> reporter: 50 years ago today the president and first lady boarded air force one at andrews air force base for the flight west to texas. it was a significant trip for jackie kennedy because of the death of their infant son patrick just months earlier. and so upon arrival in texas and san antonio and again in
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houston, mrs. kennedy received much of the attention. >> the first lady of our land, mrs. john f. kennedy. [ applause ] >> reporter: at their third texas stop in fort worth, even though it was late and it was raining, people lined the streets to see them. the kennedys spent their last night together at the hotel texas. the next morning, november 22nd, the president emerged to greet a crowd of 5,000 gathered outside. >> i appreciate your being here this morning. mrs. kennedy is organizing herself. takes longer. but of course she looks better than we do. >> reporter: and when she appeared, mrs. kennedy made a stunning entrance wearing the now-famous pink chanel suit, white gloves, and box hat. >> three years ago i said i'd introduce myself by saying i was the man who would accompany mrs. kennedy to paris.
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i'm getting somewhat that same sensation as i travel around texas. nobody wondered what lyndon and i wear. >> reporter: president kennedy almost never wore hats. in fact, the hat industry complained he was turning other men against them. but that day, he was given a stetson. >> we can't have you leave fort worth without something to protect against the rain. [ applause ] >> i'll put it on in the white house on monday if you'll come up there you'll have a chance to see it there. >> reporter: that last flight from fort worth to neighboring
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dallas took just 13 minutes. and the first couple emerges into bright sunshine. the crowds were big and the president and first lady headed over to the fence line to shake as many hands as possible. from there it was into an open car. and his drive into downtown dallas where sadly history was waiting just ten miles away. that stetson hat he was given that day is now in the jfk library in boston along with a copy of the speech he was never able to deliver. hours earlier we'll come on the air live with a moment of silence. that will be at 1:28 p.m. eastern time on most of these nbc stations. that is our broadcast on a thursday night, however. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. again, we hope to see you tomorrow evening from dallas, texas. good night.
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good evening. thanks for joining us on this thursday. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. embarrassing and appalling, that's what san jose state said about the case of three white students accused of hate crimes, tormenting and assaulting their african-american roommate. the school suspended the accused students. prosecutors believe it went on almost three months. damian trujillo tells us what the university told him when he asked them how this could happen right under their noses. >> reporter: well, jessica, those suspensions are in effect
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until several investigations are complete. when i asked administrators what several students had been asking, how can this happen under your nose, the reply was i don't have an answer to that. >> no justice -- >> reporter: hundreds of angry students marched through the spartans campus, demanding to know how the school is responding to allegations that a black student was tormented for months inside a campus dorm room by fellow students. the march ended with the rally in front of the statues of olympians tommy smith and john carlos, two civil rights heroes. >> most students are outraged on the events that have taken place on our campus. >> reporter: prosecutors say three white students spent the first several months of the school year harassing, intimidating and bullying their black roommate on campus. >> if this would have been switched, so you had three african-americans or latino


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