tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 21, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
hope to see you then. on this saturday night, high drama as two astronauts take a walk in space on an urgent mission to fix a vital piece of the international space station. extreme weather. a huge and dangerous storm brings everything from snow and ice to severe flooding and tornado risks while some bass being in record high temperatures on this first day of winter. downhill struggle. a bad day and a new setback for lindsey vonn less than seven weeks before the start of the winter olympics. and he'll shoot your eye out, kid. 30 years after the making of a holiday comedy classic, we'll take you inside the house where "a christmas story" still comes alive. >> announcer: from nbc news
world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. working in the most unforgiving environment known to man, two american astronauts spent part of this day performing a dramatic emergency repair job outside the international space station. the pictures of a space walk were stunning. the task itself, critical. replacing a piece of hardware that could prove vital to keeping the space station livable. all with people around the planet looking over their shoulders via a live nasa video stream. the job isn't finished yet and there are more space walks to come. meantime adding more drama to the day was the fact that this was the first space walk since a pretty close call for another astronaut last july. nbc's tom costello reports. >> go to egress. >> reporter: 230 miles above the earth today a high stakes space walk at 17,000 miles per hour.
>> safety cover and i see mike hanging out and i've got a good visual on you. >> reporter: almost immediately the walk went better than anyone had hoped. >> i don't know if you guys believe in miracles but i got the hitch pin on the first try. >> that's awesome, rick. >> reporter: the job, disconnect and remove a cooling pump that failed ten days ago, leaving just one cooling pump for the entire space station. >> that makes me nervous. see how loose it is. >> reporter: without that cooling pump the space station crew has been forced to turn off nonessential systems. >> we powered down things. we tried to preserve a lot of our science. and, of course, equipment that the life support systems that the crew has to operate, of course, to keep oxygen in the cabin and pressurization. >> reporter: if all goes well, astronauts will slip a spare pump into position. the pump is massive and difficult to maneuver, 780 pounds, about the size of a double door refrigerator, with internal plumbing that is full of toxic ammonia. >> reporter: the space walk is
considered risky because an astronaut almost drowned. when his helmet filled with water. they feel they fixed the problem with homemade snorkels just in case but today there was no need. >> good news from both crew members. everything is still dry. >> reporter: the water never returned. >> you guys have a go for gca to remove the pump module. >> the astronauts worked quickly to remove the pump on the side placing it on a storage platform and leaving behind the empty slot for its repcement in all wrapping up the walk a full hour early. >> a good stopping point and you will be well rested to come out monday and finish with the spare and get it connected. >> reporter: space walks have become so routine the public rarely notices anymore when astronauts step outside the station. but last july, nasa came very close to losing an astronaut. for many it drove home the
message that stakes on space walks are very high. lester. >> tom costello, the next space walk will happen on christmas eve. we're joined by steven robinson now, former astronaut and veteran of three space walks who retired last year from nasa after 36 years. thanks so much for being here. help me understand the urgency of this mission. if you lose all of your cooling on the space station, what happens? >> it's not good at all to lose the cooling an a space station because everything on the space station runs with electrical power. electricity running in an engine or computer generates heat. one of the critical elements is the ability to get rid of the heat. if you can't get rid of the heat you have to stop generating heat which means you have to turn everything off which means you have to go home. >> take me up there. give me an idea what it's like. you're doing this highly technical mission. you're going through a lot of physical stress. you have the earth spinning right below you and you have people watching you on video. tell me what that's like.
>> that last part is the hardest part to get used to. everybody is looking at your hands as you do it. every little boo boo you do people see and all the wonderful things you do, of course they don't notice, but it's a tremendous amount of training to get ready. and when you finally go outside, you finally after years of training, you get put on your space suit, go outside, and you work harder than you ever have in your life. it's like going to the gym all day long at the same time you're in a chess tournament. simultaneously. >> that's why only a few of you do this for a living. stephen robinson, thanks for coming on. appreciate it. turn to another story we're following. severe weather. that has a big part of the country in its grip tonight. we have the latest from meteorologist mike bettis. he's watching it all from greenville, mississippi. mike, good evening. >> good evening, lester. a footprint that spans much of the country. this storm is dishing out everything from flooding rain to ice to snow to tornadoes. all to a nation that would much rather focus on the upcoming
holiday, a task that has proven to be very difficult today. the first day of winter arrived with a little bit of everything. the massive patch work storm slammed the northern plains and midwest with ice and heavy snow. in oklahoma, black ice on the roads made for treacherous driving. in washington, one reported death on i-90 after a ten-vehicle pile up crushed an suv between two semis. >> i'm at that site which happened along i-90 west as washington state patrol put it, it is one tangled mess. >> reporter: delaying traffic for hours. in arkansas and southern oklahoma, power lines knocked out leaving more than 140,000 customers in the dark. with 68 million people in the path of this storm, holiday travel has been difficult. more than 400 flights canceled just today and another 6200 delayed with half flying through chicago and dallas. >> we were going to see family but we'll have to reschedule. >> reporter: conditions couldn't
be any more different in the northeast and south where cities registered record highs this afternoon. atlantic city, new jersey, hit 67 up from the previous record of 63. savannah, georgia, 81, up from 79 degrees. >> it's so not what i'm used to for christmas. >> the extreme cold and warm fronts make for a dangerous division that has the region between election degreea, louisiana on high alert for tornadoes. >> some could come at night. there could be strong tornadoes. it's a situation that's ripe for danger. i hope people are paying attention to the weather. >> reporter: tornado watches and warnings continue true the overnight. all of this, lester, for a storm that's affecting 35 different states. >> mike bettes, thank you. >> no doubt some of that weather is interfering with holiday shopping plans on this last weekend before christmas. just one more thing to worry about in a season that was already shorter than usual, and marked by a big security breach at one major retailer.
our reporter on this, kerry sanders, in south florida. >> reporter: for some entering this frey is like a sport. >> a little stressful. >> i'm a procrastinator at heart and i do everything last minute. >> reporter: the last-minute rush is on. in part, because even those who don't procrastinate had less time to buy this year. because thanksgiving fell later this this year's calendar, there were six fewer shopping days. forrester estimation 167 million americans will shop online. the average person will spend $472. if you waited until now, you missed most free shipping offers. amazon, the largest online retailer, will still ship overnight, but now you have to pay for it. >> consumers are more likely to shop in store this weekend simply because they don't want to have to worry that their packages won't arrive on time. >> reporter: struggling retailers sears has tried to keep pace with internet sales. but analysts estimate sears
still only gets 3% of its $40 billion in revenues online. traditional brick and mortar stores say they offer an advantage this close to christmas. shop online and pick it up at the store. no overnight shipping costs involved. >> so we're prepared to actually process orders pretty much every hour that the store is open. >> reporter: meantime, at target everything in the store was discounted 10% today, an attempt by the company to win back customers. target disclosed someone hacked its computers and stole credit and debit card information belonging to some 40 million customers. card information that some security firms report is now being sold on the black market. >> it's easy to get your bill and pay it but you have to pay attention to the bills that you're getting. >> reporter: some banks report that they have now increased the monitoring of credit card and debit card transactions so if
you go to use your card and it doesn't work, it may be that they've spotted your information was cloned and they've turned off your card discovering that before you even know your information was stolen. lester. >> kerry, thank you. want to turn to the harrowing moments of the african nation of south sudan where three u.s. military aircraft came under fire while they tried to rescue american civilians caught up in a growing conflict between government and rebel forces in the world's newest independent nation. nbc's ron allen has more on this tonight. >> reporter: today south sudan's government sent hundreds of troops to the region where the u.s. aircraft were attacked as the conflict with rebel forces escalates. three aircrafts were hit by small arms fire in bor. u.s. military members says four military members were wounded, the aircraft damaged. they diverted to uganda. the wounded were put on a plane to kenya for treatment.
all said to be in stable condition. analysts say it's unclear why the americans were targeted. >> this is an urban area. there's a lot of people there. it's difficult to know who is friend and who is foe. there's a lot of weapons floating around. a lot of damage can be caused. >> reporter: the rebels control the area. on friday a united nations helicopter came under attack. on thursday two u.n. troops and dozens of civilians were killed when a compound was stormed. all total ohhed, perhaps 500 people have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced after an unsuccessful coup attempt. >> all of the properties are being bombed. >> the u.s. has advised all american citizens in south sudan to depart immediately. so far, some 450 have been evacuated. it's unclear how many remain.
south sudan's president now says he's willing to talk to the rebels. u.s. has sent envoy to help and dozens of u.s. troops to rescue americans caught up in the conflict. ron allen, nbc news. it was 25 years ago today pan am flight 103 exploded over lockerb lockerbie, scotland. families gathering in lockerbie and also at skier accuse, university, in new york. which lost 35 students. tonight we'll look at one of the families and how the greatest sources of strength comes from lockerby itself. here's nbc's erica hill. >> reporter: families gathered today at arlington national cemetery to pay tribute to their loved ones killed in the 1988 bombing. >> we dated since we were 15. he was very funny and a family
man. enjoyed his family. >> reporter: 45-year-old frank chula was on the plane. he was on his way home for christmas. >> the crash of the pan am airline flight -- the father of three was one of 270 people killed in the attack. >> we had the news reports and we saw the plane and we saw the cockpit and we saw the crater. >> we were hurting too much we didn't want to know too much. >> reporter: it wasn't until mary lou and her children visit visited scotland four years later just outside lockerbie to the place on this hillside. >> it helped us a lot knowing people cared. people cared. people found him. he wasn't alone. >> reporter: daughter laurie visited in 1994. >> i never felt any connection to the cemetery where my father's body is. but there was something about going to mensca farm. the farm is a precious, precious location. >> reporter: the chula's continue to celebrate frank's life creating a book about him
for his grandchildren, a book testify decided to donate to the pan am flight 103 archive at syracuse university. it's a vast collection of family memories, documents and key moments like the conviction and release of the pan am bomber. >> what sticks with me is him images of him leaving the plane to a sea of flying scottish flags. >> it is a wound that is being consistently able to help. >> it brought back so much hope and faith in mankind that we had really lost because of the tragedy. it was a life-changing experience. >> reporter: erica hill, nbc news, new york. when "nbc nightly news" continues on this saturday, a tough day on the downhill for lindsey vonn. what she's saying now about the olympics. later, when holiday memories are still being made three decades after "a christmas story" came out.
a new setback today for lindsey vonn, the american skiing champion who's hoping for more olympic gold in this winter's sochi games in less than 50 days. it happened in a world cup downhill race in france when her troublesome right knee gave way and forced her to ski off the course. here's nbc's mike tahiti. >> reporter: in the middle of the race skiing well, lindsey vonn's surgically repaired right knee suddenly buckled.
she lifted her left leg and glided past the gate. headed for the nearest safety net and with boyfriend tiger woods looking on pulled herself upright in obvious pain. >> my right knee just didn't hold up. just gave out. >> reporter: and then something ominous. >> am i suffering? well, i mean, i have no acl, so, you know, it's -- yes, i am. i guess i'm suffering a little bit. >> reporter: no acl, not just a partial tear as had been reported following her wipeout ten months ago in austria. the acl, the anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the four main cables needed to stabilize the knee. especially a knee traveling down icy slopes at 80 miles per hour. >> we all thought before there was some acl left. so we now know that there wasn't. >> reporter: it's seven weeks to sochi now. vonn's plan is to return with woods to her colorado home base and hope the diagnosis allows her to resume her olympic preps.
she had been doing well drawing lock stock support as she always does and in canada two weeks ago logging finishes, 40th, 11th. then 5th. instead progress toward the podium again. she has the will. >> short of anything being damaged further, she's going to compete. >> reporter: but even vonn concedes luck will have to bail her out posting on her facebook page, i'm fighting as hard as i can but skiing with no acl is harder than i expected. fingers crossed. >> my knee just gave out, that's all. >> reporter: it was a tough day in value de sayer for the entire american woman's team. four racers didn't finish. one who did came in dead last and their leader, their gold-plated champion, may have seen her own dreams of repeat glory collapse. mike taibi, nbc news, los angeles. up next here tonight, fashion statement. costumes from the original "sound of music" up for sale.
here's a clue. collection boxes with tiny numbers invented 100 weeks ago this weekend. time's up. answer, crossword puzzle. as you can see then, it was a word cross puzzle. the first one contained 30 clues. and appeared in the "new york world" newspaper. since then the puzzles have been the source of endless triumph and tribulation. costumes worn in the original "sound of music." they're from the collection of one of the world's biggest costume companies. and include the jacket and pants worn by christopher plummer, as captain von trap and five
outfits worn by the von trapp children. an estimated price of $150,000 to $200,000. in case you haven't realized it, the winter solstice arrived today bringing winter officially with it. with all of the severe weather we have been seeing, it might have felt like winter some time ago. this is the day the sun was lowest in the hemisphere, bringing with it the shortest day or longest night, depending how you like to think about it. when we come back, inside a christmas classic for kids and grownups alike.
before we go tonight, many of us have a cherished childhood memory of receiving that one christmas gift you absolutely yearn for and spent countless hours dreaming of, and that's probably why a little film about a little boy and the air rifle he had to have has endured and become a christmas classic. tonight, kevin tibbles takes us to the home where "a christmas story" comes to life every day. >> reporter: this time of year they line up down the street to visit this sweet old house in cleveland, ohio. >> i've been bugging him to go for weeks. >> reporter: and i double dog dare you to get through the holidays without seeing it at least once on the tv. >> the star is crooked. >> that star is perfectly straight. >> reporter: "a christmas story" was filmed here and released 30 years ago. >> it cannot be christmas without "a christmas story." >> reporter: how many times have
you seen the film? >> probably 50. maybe? >> reporter: set in the fictional town of homan, where tongues freeze to poles, snow suits are giant marshmallows. >> i can't feel my arms. >> and bullies lurk in alley ways. >> reporter: where a lamp is shaped like a leg and is a major award. >> fabulous glory. >> reporter: where everybody will hear ralphy parker is constantly warned -- >> you'll shoot your eye out, kid. >> it captures the essence of what christmas is. the family chaos, the food, the presents. >> i was ralphy. >> reporter: you were ralphy. >> without the little brother. but i was the ralphy, yeah. >> brian jones loved it so much he bought the house and turned it into a museum. >> i think everybody can relate. it's christmas from a kid's perspective. >> there he is! >> yeah!
>> reporter: to mark the 30th anniversary, a giant leg lamp glows high in the cleveland sky, and the christmas story convention brings them out in all shapes and sizes. it's also brought a couple of grownup actors. that bully was played by zack ward. >> we have met men and women in their 70s, 50s, 30s, 40s and 5-year-olds and 10-year-olds who all identify with the movie. >> ian played little brother randy in the snow suit. >> you had this scarf wrapped around you. you felt like an astronaut. >> for everyone else it's a christmas classic that keeps on giving. >> every year on christmas eve we watch it. >> ho ho ho. >> reporter: times may change but a kid's wonderment is forever. kevin tibbles, nbc news, cleveland that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and then right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
b.a.r.t. to get around are breathing a sigh of relief. they have ended a dispute on a contract provision overpaid medical leave. we have the details and reaction from riders. monte? >> reporter: terry, good evening. it appears this long fight, which has gone on for months, can finally be at an end and that is music to the ears of b.a.r.t. riders. a tentative deal was reached in october but then there was a dispute of a provision that b.a.r.t. never wanted to put in the contract, and that gave employees six weeks of paid leave. now that provision is gone, but b.a.r.t. will extend its bough ravement leave policy to allow paid time off in the death of a family member. the deal gives them more