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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 23, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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"nightly news" is next. >> we'll see you at 6:00. on our broadcast tonight, swiped. after the big hit at target, a huge case of identity theft. questions tonight about how much longer we'll continue to use the current generation of credit cards to make a purchase. on the move, a big ice storm sliding from west to east at the worst time. it's left hundreds of thousands in the dark and cold. it's slow going for families trying to get home. rescue mission. in a new part of the world, americans are trapped and the marines are going in to get them. what are the odds? a big study out tonight about food allergies providing an answer to a question a lot of women have been asking for years. and santa's helpers making a difference this christmas season. "nightly news" begins now. " thi season. "nightly news" begins now. "maki a difference" this christmas season.
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"nightly news" begins now. diffe season. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. millions of people are still out there, and still at it tonight, in stores and malls, and on local main streets all across our country on this eve of christmas eve. and millions are right now, tonight, making credit card purchases, just days after the entire chain of target stores was hit by a massive credit card hack. but given the fact that we're living in the electronic age, the current generation of credit cards dates back to the stone age of technology. and a lot of consumers would like to know how much longer they'll be forced to endure that sinking feeling of handing over a credit card, knowing it can put you at great risk. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: in the wake of one of the largest retail breaches in u.s. history, many customers are changing the way they shop. >> i think i'll start using cash. cash only. >> reporter: even after target offered a 10% discount and free
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credit monitoring, some customers aren't satisfied. to contain the damage jpmorgan chase is now restricting shoppers who use their chase card at target to a $100 limit on withdrawals and a $300 cap on purchases. >> 10% discount, as opposed to identity theft and all the problems involved with that, isn't worth it to me. >> reporter: so far, there are several class action lawsuits against target. and attorneys general in at least four states have asked the retail chain for information about the breach. today target said it's cooperating fully and working around the clock to make things right. but the reporter who broke the story says cloned cards are selling on the black market for $20 to $100. >> we don't know a whole lot about how the bad guys got in. >> reporter: the u.s. relies on magnetic strips to hold account information. essentially the same technology as old cassette tapes. 80 other countries use a more
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secure digital chip that generates a unique code every time it's used. making it harder to reproduce the card. much of europe has used the technology for a decade. >> smartchip cards have proven to be much safer. and other countries that have already adopted this technology, they've seen fraud rates drop by as much as 67%. >> reporter: until recently, u.s. card companies had held off switching to the more expensive chips. but they're now starting to roll the cards out, and we could see all major retailers accepting them by late 2015. still experts say the new cards won't solve every problem. >> the chips will prevent one kind of fraud. card cloning. but they won't prevent online fraud. they won't prevent if someone steals your wallet and steals your card. so they're a good step, but it's just a baby step. >> reporter: and there are some disappointing retail numbers out tonight. although it is unclear how the target security breach impacted the numbers. according to shopper track holiday sales this past week when compared to last year were down 3% and foot traffic in
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stores plummeted by about 21%, brian. >> gabe gutierrez, suburban atlanta to start us off tonight. gabe, thanks. and because it's this time of year, weather is back in the news tonight. another big weather system that includes a little bit of everything. temperatures north of 70 here in new york. and to the west of us, snow and ice, even december tornadoes, at a time when so many people are on the move. nbc's john yang is in the thick of it tonight in bath, michigan, up near lansing. john, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. from here in michigan to northern new york to new england, more than 400,000 homes are like this one. dark. no power. utility crews are working as hard as they can hoping to get the lights on by christmas. but in some places in michigan they say it won't be until saturday. in michigan today, more than a quarter million households woke up to another frigid, and dark morning. utility crews are working as
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fast as they can, but kim and gail avery just can't wait. >> it's too cold. and he uses a breathing machine at night. and no electricity, he can't use his machine. >> start taking this stuff. >> reporter: the averys are packing up a few presents and driving to their daughter's home. it means eight people in a tiny apartment. but at least there's heat. >> we're just thankful we had a place to go. >> reporter: today the storm took aim at the northeast, flooding near buffalo, new york. and in maine, ice-covered roads and just about everything else, from trees and bushes, to christmas lights. nationwide today, more than 5,000 flights delayed. at the detroit airport, a delta plane carrying 180 passengers skidded off the taxiway. extreme weather has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths. in oklahoma, three people died in separate car accidents on slick, icy roads. while no one was hurt, shoppers at this oklahoma city mall had to dodge falling sheets of ice. at the same time, 18 states along the east coast saw record high temperatures yesterday.
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in new york city, skaters at the rockefeller center rink were in shirtsleeves as the mercury hit a balmy 70 degrees. but it's headed back down today. >> there will be much quieting conditions expected throughout the northeast and upper midwest. but that is where there will be some snow, and it will definitely feel like winter once again. >> reporter: and with it, the usual winter hazards. like the icy charles river in massachusetts where a golden retriever was trapped 50 yards from shore. a firefighter was able to pull him to safety. now, because of this storm, more than half the country will have snow on the ground wednesday, which of course means a white christmas. brian? >> john yang in michigan for us tonight. john, thanks. overseas tonight, there is a new crisis spot for the world. that means the u.s., as well. southern sudan is right now in the grip of nonstop violence. there's growing fear there of an all-out civil war.
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over the weekend a u.s. mission to airlift americans out of there had to be aborted when the aircraft came under fire. now u.s. marines are standing by in case they have to evacuate the embassy. for more on this increasingly dangerous state of affairs, we are joined by our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, in our d.c. newsroom. andrea, first of all, what's this conflict about? and second, the stakes for americans there. >> reporter: well, let's talk first about the american lives because senior officials tell me they think they now have evacuated all of the american civilians out of south sudan. but today the pentagon did move 150 troops and ten aircraft to the region from spain, in case they need to evacuate the embassy. why this is precautionary? this is one of the lessons they learned about not having troops close enough during the benghazi disaster. u.s. troops, i'm told, will not take part in a largely african/u.n. peacekeeping force already on the ground. the security council is meeting right now to expand that. now today, state department envoy did meet with south sudan's president kiir.
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he's the man in the black stetson. to tell him he has to talk to his political and ethnic rivals, which could easily turn into civil war along tribal lines. south sudan is the word's newest country, gaining independence only two years ago with help first from president bush and then president obama but now is already becoming a humanitarian crisis, and the challenge now is to stop it from becoming all-out civil war, brian. >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom keeping an eye on this tonight. andrea, thanks. in this country there has been another change to the new health care law. you may recall tonight was supposed to be the deadline for enrolling in a new health insurance plan in order to have coverage by january 1. but due to anticipated heavy volume as they like to say, they have extended this deadline, as well. our white house correspondent peter alexander is with the vacationing president tonight in honolulu. peter, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening to you. to be very clear this is a one-day extension. that means you now have through tomorrow to complete your
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enrollment. administration officials say they did this to accommodate a record number of visitors to healthcare.gov today. more than 1 million today alone. from washington to virginia to miami, a wave of last-minute health care shoppers. trying to get insurance to finally cover surgery for kidney stones. >> the pain is so bad. >> reporter: they found the process difficult. >> i tried to fill out the application online, but it's kind of complicated. >> reporter: administration officials say consumers in the 36 states that make up the federal exchange should think of this one-day grace period, effectively extending today's deadline through tomorrow, like election day. if you're in line when the polls close, a top official told nbc news, you still get to vote. the pace of sign-ups has surged in recent weeks, with barely 100,000 enrollments in all of october. but more than 500,000 in the first few weeks of this month alone. >> how many people signed up by december 23rd will really be the first true test of how well this law is working, and in
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particular how well healthcare.gov the federal website is now functioning. >> reporter: but health industry consultants insist the website's problems remain unresolved. warning more than 5% of the applications insurers receive are still flawed. >> the insurance companies really need two or three weeks to process a normal number of enrollments and they're going to have a week to process an extraordinary number of enrollments, with lots of errors. >> reporter: making the deadline may be particularly critical for some groups. those in high risk insurance plans that end december 31st. others who lost coverage when insurers canceled their existing plans. and people in states where medicaid is being scaled back. the next deadline, december 31st. premiums are due by then for coverage to begin, but many insurers say they'll give consumers until january 10th to pay. and the last date to enroll to avoid paying a penalty? still three months away, march 31st.
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when another significant enrollment surge is expected. and we learned today among those enrolling for health coverage, president obama, of course, he doesn't need it. he gets it anyway through the military, brian, but his white house aides tell us that he signed up to show support for the marketplaces. and if you're wondering, his plan will cost nearly $400 a month. >> peter alexander with the president in honolulu tonight. peter, thanks. tonight, while orbiting earth at 17,000 miles an hour, astronauts are making last-minute preparations for a second spacewalk. the christmas eve edition to repair a broken pump on the international space station. the first one went off without a hitch. the astronauts wore absorbent pads on a snorkel inside their suits in case, just because, after the last time it happened, an astronaut almost drowned in a water leak in his helmet, that was in july. second spacewalk was supposed to take place today. but was delayed a day, because of a different problem with one of the suits. back on erts, we're less than 50 days out until the winter olympics and tonight the host nation of russia is
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continuing a well-timed release of high-profile prisoners. in this case, two young women. it is vladimir putin's attempt to tamp down a few pr problems before the games begin. so far, it seems to be having the opposite effect, as our own jim maceda reports from siberia tonight. >> reporter: they left prison today as global celebrities. maria alyokhina and nadezhda tolokonnikova both members of pussy riot. part punk band, part activist collective convicted of hooliganism last year after this anti-putin performance in moscow's largest cathedral. still defiant and contemptuous of putin's limited party. this is a hoax and a pr move, she said. if i had a chance to turn it down, i would have. in an exclusive interview with nbc news, nadezhda said an extended hunger strike and prison hospitalization hadn't drained her spirits. >> translator: in fact it's the opposite.
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my determination in terms of being engaged in politics and fighting the authoritarian government has only increased. >> reporter: she said her activism now had a new focus. >> translator: now i'm not just an artist but a politician and i feel it's my responsibility to get involved in human rights. >> reporter: nadezhda and maria now say they'll work together on behalf of the dozens of political prisoners still in russian jails. like the celebrities who spoke out for them when they were in jail. including paul mccartney, bono, and madonna. putin also released longtime critic mikhail khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon, after a decade in jail. now in berlin, he says, he, too, will work tirelessly to free political prisoners in russia. vladimir putin may have hoped his amnesty would improve russia's image before the sochi winter olympics, but tonight nadezhda called for a boycott of the games to protest human rights abuses.
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a thorn in putin's side, in or out of prison. jim maceda, nbc news, russia. and still ahead for us tonight, a big study. new data out tonight on food allergies may answer the questions of a lot of expectant mothers.
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we are back tonight with news about food allergies, and a new study that may put a lot of parents' minds at ease. and a new study that may put a lot of parents' minds at ease. as you may know all too well, peanut allergies among children have more than tripled in the last 15 years. and a lot of women have wondered if they have any control over that while pregnant. our report tonight from nbc's katy tur. >> reporter: a little nut causing a lot of worry. the peanut. whether to eat it or avoid it, has been the subject of much debate among pregnant women over the past few years. mom-to-be sterling doneally has been eating nuts her whole pregnancy, and today she's feeling a little relieved. >> i think being exposed to
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nuts while you're pregnant can maybe be a good thing. >> reporter: despite old recommendations a new study released by the journal of the american medical association found that eating peanuts and other tree nuts will not raise the baby's allergy risk. co-author dr. michael young. >> if you're pregnant and you do wish to consume nuts, our data indicates that it will be safe to do so, and it wouldn't lead to any increased risk of a nut allergic baby. >> repter: in fact according to the study done among nonallergic pregnant women those who eat nuts five times a week or more are 31% less likely to see allergies in their children than mothers who eat nuts less than once a month. the authors did not go as far as saying eating nuts prevents a food allergy. but new york ob/gyn dr. jennifer wu welcomes any new insight. >> mothers are very concerned about the foods that they eat during pregnancy, and what it will mean for the child later on. i think peanut allergies are on the rise, and i wish that we knew the exact source of them.
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we don't. but anything that we can do to help decrease the incidence is a good thing. >> reporter: as for sterling, with only weeks to go before her little girl arrives, she's trying to rely more and more on that developing motherly instinct. >> i try to go with my gut, yeah. more and more trusting that. use your best judgment. >> reporter: katy tur, nbc news, new york. and we're back in a moment with the end of an era for a famous name in the world of sports.
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mikhail kalashnikov has died. his name was synonymous with the weapon he invented, universally known as the ak-47. one of the most widely used rifles in all the world. truth be told they've killed a lot of americans in a lot of conflicts over the years. even though the russians commission them as weapons to outshoot the germans. veterans know them well from the sight of their banana shaped clip to the sound they make on the battlefield. mikhail kalashnikov was 94. as you may have heard this weekend, john eisenhower has
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died. son of the great general and former president. he was born in the family business. he followed his dad into west point, in fact graduated on d-day. he worked as an aide to his father and while he yearned for combat generals bradley and patton would have no part of it. he finally saw combat in korea. he was a first rate historian and professor, a white house aide under ike and later u.s. ambassador to belgium and his son david married president nixon's daughter. noted author john s.d. eisenhower was 91 years old. one of the great names in all of sports will be no more after tonight's monday night football game. candlestick park, one of the great old baseball cathedrals is going the way of ebbets field and the polo grounds as soon as the 49ers are done with it tonight. stadium has taken all the weather nature can throw at it. mostly, though, wind and fog and cold. but also the '89 earthquake. mays played there, montana played there, the beatles played their last public concert there. the new stadium will be in santa clara. one sports writer said last night, quote, there's nothing
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better in the nfl than what peyton manning does. that is score touchdowns for the broncos. in addition to winning a lot of games and completing a lot of passes. last night he set a new nfl record, 51 touchdown passes in a single season. he set the record years ago, at 49. then tom brady took it up to 50. now manning has it back. not bad for a 37-year-old consensus hall of famer. when we come back, when they're not helping santa, they're cleaning windows. our "making a difference" report up next.
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time now for our "making a difference" report. this is the holiday version of a similar story that received a huge response when we aired it earlier this year. this is a story about people who go out of their way to cheer up kids who are in the hospital. as you're about to see, the men who dress up as santa's helpers are making a big difference for those kids. the story tonight from nbc's mark potter. >> reporter: for a child there's probably no worse time to be in the hospital. away from home, than over the holidays. unless -- >> ho, ho, ho! >> reporter: -- the hospital and other caring folks bring the
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holidays here. >> oh, my gosh! who is that? it's santa claus! >> reporter: at old children's hospital in st. petersburg, florida, he came from the sky. disguised as a window washer. bringing cheer and a wave to children who could use a smile. >> that is so cool. >> reporter: at the children's hospital in orlando there were four of them. two santas and two elves. scaling the walls. washing the windows. and making new friends. for the kids, it's a magical moment. >> hi, sweetie. >> reporter: for the man from the window washing company playing santa for a day. >> actually i feel like a little bit of a rock star right now. >> reporter: it is so rewarding to make this kind of difference. >> they're very happy to see us. and trust me, i'm happy to see them, too. they're wonderful. >> reporter: around the country, children's hospitals and local
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window washing companies are joining together to help raise children's spirits. we first met them earlier this year dressed as superheroes. and now, as santa and his elves. this time of year. >> it will get kids who are laying in their beds, not feeling well, to kind of forget for a minute and just sit up, and be excited, and have something fun happening in -- right in their room. >> reporter: 6-year-old giovanni hamilton, who just got a new wheelchair, couldn't get to the window fast enough. where he got a personal wave and four hellos, straight from the north pole. what do you think about this giovanni? >> i like it. >> reporter: you like it? in fact, everyone likes it. >> santa's cleaning your window. look at that. >> reporter: that this many people would give their time to make children feel better. mark potter, nbc news, orlando. >> great ending to our broadcast on this monday night. as we start off christmas week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope you'll join us right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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thanks for joining us. >> we begin with a developing story, the bitter battle over pension reform in san jose hit a hurdle today. a judge ruling taxpayers do not have the authority to cut city employee pensions. nearly 70% of san jose voters approved measure "b" last year. it would force employees to pay more money into their health care and pensions.
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stephanie, what happens now? i can't imagine the mayor will let this go. >> that's what both sides are saying right now, jessica. both sides believe they came out as winners today. the unions are saying this decision by the judge protects their vested rights in retirement benefits, protecting what was negotiated at the bargaining table before. but if you ask city hall, that side will say it protects the bottom line, saving about $68 million a year by taking that money out of paychecks instead of pensions. the division between city hall and the union is deeper than ever before. >> they have a history of playing nice on camera playing dirty when the cameras go off. >> they've taken such an aggressive and antagonistic tone with their own employees. >> reporter: the list is apparent in how each side is translating the tentative decision by judge lucas. it says san jose voters do not have the authority to cut

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