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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 27, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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"nightly news" is next. we'll be back at 6:00. on the broadcast tonight, swiped. a big admission tonight from target. pin numbers were taken in the massive security breach. why the company still insists the information is safe, and why some experts aren't so sure. cut off. more than a million americans facing a tough deadline hitting home. out of work, now out of time. assassination. a key american ally in the middle east killed by a car bomb as syria's bloody civil war spills over into its neighbors. and polar express. a rescue mission at the bottom of the world. people trapped on a big ship at sea. tonight the rescue team is trapped as well. also, our look back at some of the famous names we lost in 2013.
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"nightly news" begins now. good evening. i'm natalie morales in for brian williams. tonight the target debit and credit card security breach affecting an estimated 40 million customers is once again our lead story. as we heard from the company today that, in fact, customers' encrypted pin numbers were stolen along with their names and card numbers. but target is still assuring the pin codes can't be cracked. while there is no evidence yet to suggest the cyber criminals have managed to do that, many tech experts say there is reason to worry. nbc's gabe gutierrez joins us from atlanta with the latest. good evening, gabe. >> reporter: natalie, good evening. target had initially said that no pin data had been stolen. but today that changed. the retailer is now insisting that the pin data was strongly encrypted and can't be unlocked. but tonight there are new
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concerns that these hackers may have been more sophisticated than we first thought. the theft was already one of the largest data breaches in u.s. history, under investigation by the secret service and the u.s. department of justice. but today target revealed hackers had also stolen its customers' encrypted personal identification numbers, but the retailer says the thieves can't crack the code and actually use the pins. >> it makes me leery about going there. >> reporter: we remain confident, target says, that pin numbers are safe and secure. here's how the process works. when the customer swipes a debit card and enters a pin, it is encrypted in the key pad at the store. it is then sent to an outside company which unlocks it with a digital key to process payment. target says since the digital key is not within its system, the hackers could not steal it
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or unscramble stolen pins. >> that would take decades for them to crack each pin independently. it's not worth their time to go after the encrypted pins. >> reporter: other security experts aren't sure. >> target may be understating the significance. in the past the criminals have actually decrypted the pins and used it to steal cash from consumers. >> reporter: also, even if the thieves don't have the key required to unlock someone's pin, many debit card holders use easy to guess numbers like 1234. >> about 20 years i've had the same pin number. >> i do think someone could figure it out if they're really smart. >> reporter: jpmorgan chase are replacing all 2 million of the debit cards used at target during the breach. many customers are nervous whether they used a debit or credit card. carol wickender in portland says days after buying a dvd at target someone charged airline tickets in africa on one of his cards. >> two charges that totaled $1300. >> reporter: tonight while the nation's third largest retailer is assuring customers their debit card accounts haven't been
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compromised it is the target of more than a dozen class action lawsuits. bottom line, if you shopped at target in late november or early december and you suspect your credit or debit card may have been compromised, experts say you should ask your bank for a new card number. natalie? >> gabe gutierrez in atlanta tonight. thank you, gabe. a federal judge in new york ruled today that the nsa's vast collection of telephone records is legal. that contrasts with a ruling two weeks ago from a judge in washington who said the nsa program likely violates the constitution. this latest decision is a legal victory for the obama administration with the judge saying the nsa's program is valuable and only a minimal intrusion. we get our report tonight from our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: today's ruling says the program is the government's counterpunch to the 9/11 attacks and al qaeda's ability to conceal communications. only by scooping up all the records of telephone calls, the ruling says, can the nsa find
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and follow the stream of terrorist contacts in an ocean of data. the cost of missing such a thread can be horrific, says federal judge william pauley of new york. he says the effectiveness of collecting bulk telephone data cannot be seriously disputed citing examples of disrupted plots. it's true, he says, that telephones are a much bigger part of our lives than ever before. but many of those uses, he says, have nothing to do with making calls. he said lower courts aren't free to overrule the u.s. supreme court's finding of 34 years ago that people have no expectation of privacy in the call records their phone companies keep. besides, the judge says, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly private information to transnational corporations who exploit that data for profit, something far more intrusive than the government's phone record collections. so now we have a ruling by a judge appointed by president clinton upholding the nsa program.
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two weeks ago, a judge appointed by president george w. bush said it was illegal. now the appeals courts and perhaps ultimately the supreme court will decide who is right. pete williams, nbc news, washington. now to a deadline that's really hitting home for more than a million americans who will lose their long-term unemployment benefits this weekend, which will mean some major belt tightening for many families already struggling to make ends meet. nbc's joe fryer has our report. >> reporter: for nancy conley-cumming, a single mother of three, the first round of bad news came last year when she lost herb job. >> i didn't think for a minute i would be sitting here today, a year later, no job. job. >> i didn't think for a minute i would be sitting here today, a year later, no job. >> reporter: the scottish-born american citizen received her second round of bad news this month when she learned her unemployment insurance was exhausted. now she's trying to sell her car to save her house. >> i want to have another job so that i can go back to work and have medical benefits and not
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have to worry about what i'm going to do next month for my mortgage payment. >> reporter: more than 4 million americans have been out of work six months or longer. tomorrow, 1.3 million of them will lose their long-term unemployment benefits, including 215,000 in california, 125,000 in new york, and 90,000 in new jersey, 1% of that state's population. some in congress want to renew the program but critics say they must find a way to pay for it, arguing long-term benefits can hurt job seekers. >> the longer they are unemployed the less likely they are to ever get a job again. >> reporter: dale sexton lost his job in june and said it is hard to find a job within six months. >> seems to be the impression ha the people on unemployment benefits are just kind of sitting around, enjoying the money. nothing could be farther from the truth. >> reporter: a federal reserve study found long-term impacts for the long-term unemployed. ten years down the road they earned 30% less than their peers.
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>> while everyone is adversely affected in terms of their future earnings over time by unemployment, the long-term unemployed are substantially worse off. >> reporter: desperate for any job, conley-cummings spent two hours last week at a grocery store. >> to try to see a manager to say, hey, i'm looking for work, i'm willing to work, can you help me? >> reporter: she's still waiting for someone to answer "yes." joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. tonight, tens of thousands of families are still in the dark and cold. for some of them it's been six days since the power went out during a big ice storm. and as nbc's kevin tibbles reports tonight from charlotte, michigan, power crews are racing to get the lights and heat back on. >> reporter: the sun barely shows itself, but crews are already in the sky. how come you're still smiling? >> happy to be out here getting people's power back on for them. >> reporter: they have come from
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as far away as wisconsin, ohio, and maryland. putting in 18-hour days away from their own families at christmas. >> we had various wire-downs and our number one priority is customer safety and employee safety. so we have to make sure we keep the public safe. >> reporter: it's freezing cold down here on the ground where i am. so where he's working, it's probably 15 to 20 degrees colder in the wind. here heavy ice buckled power lines. the crew is efficient and fast. residents, very thankful. >> we've got so many christmas cookies that i don't think me or dave would care to have another one. they've all been appreciative. we haven't had one bad thing said to us. >> reporter: some will have to wait awhile longer. >> unfortunately the power company at this time have run out of the meter boxes they need to reinstall here so we can get hooked back up. >> reporter: in maine, compounding headaches for those in the dark. >> i think it's pretty, but it's
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causing a lot of damage. >> reporter: still, a thank you from residents here too. back in michigan with the line repaired, dave fletcher hoists a pole finally restoring power. >> essentially just flicking the switch? >> yep. just close it in. >> reporter: homeowner tom nickett breathes a sigh of relief. >> my christmas tree lights are on. that's a good sign. >> reporter: he then quickly heads to the thermostat. his house got down to 37 degrees. >> the furnace is on. >> reporter: he returns back outside to catch the crew before they leave. >> thanks a lot, guys. i appreciate it. >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, charlotte, michigan. >> and for more now on what we can expect from the weather as millions of americans continue their holiday travel this weekend, we turn to weather channel meteorologist chris wairn. chris, what does it look like? >> reporter: natalie, there will be health cares on the way for those without power. this weekend starting off quiet and mild in the northeast. keep in mind this is winter, so mild is relative.
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that all changes on sunday. sunday into monday, more snow on the way for northern new england and for parts of maine. in fact, most of maine will see some snow out of this. for those without power, that's bad news. behind that snow will come much colder air. monday afternoon, most areas below freezing. and then on tuesday morning, some areas now will be below zero. and many spots through next week throughout the midwest including michigan and into the northeast will stay below freezing in the morning and in the afternoon. natalie, if there is good news it looks like new year's eve and new year's day, travel should be relatively quiet as far as the weather goes for most of the country. >> we'll look for the silver lining. chris warren at the weather channel, thank you. overseas today there was a huge explosion in lebanon. a deadly car bomb killed a former lebanese ambassador to the u.s. and a critic to the assad regime in syria. further proof that the syrian
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civil war is now spilling over to its neighbors. ayman mohyeldin is in beirut tonight. >> reporter: natalie, i'm standing just a few meters away from the scene of that explosion here in downtown beirut surrounded by luxury hotels and modern office buildings. today it was a scene of carnage and horror. the car bomb killed a respected lebanese politician, a former ambassador to washington, but more importantly an outspoken critic of the syrian regime and its lebanese ally hezbollah, the powerful militia and party in lebanon that's been sending fighters to battle the regime. today's has been the latest of the tensions rising over the conflicts. regardless of the motivation behind the attack, many lebanese feel the war in neighboring syria is being fought right here at home. natalie? >> ayman mohyeldin in beirut. thank you. back in this country, authorities in connecticut have released their full report from the tragedy at sandy hook elementary school in newtown,
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connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. it contains thousands of documents, photos, and videos. much of it heavily redacted. the report quotes an unnamed witness who said the shooter, adam lanza, may have targeted the school because his mother had once worked there. and a letter found in the lanza home thanked nancy lanza for her volunteer service at the school in 1999. still ahead tonight, big problems with the rescue mission at sea. a race to the bottom of the world, and the rescue team is now trapped as well. and later, an incredible discovery more than three decades after a mass ifr volcanic eruption.
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we are back with an update on the rescue mission to help research ship trapped in thick ice in antarctica. tonight we have learned that the chinese vessel that was on its way to the rescue now also cannot break through. nbc's martin fletcher has the latest.
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>> reporter: help is on the horizon for the trapped research ship, but not getting any closer. "snow dragon," the chinese ice breaker has been brought to a halt five miles away. this evening the chinese captain told the chinese news agency the ice is beyond the capability of his ship. it's too thick. 9 to 12 feet. to make matters worse, he expects a cyclone tonight. wind is driving the ice pack so quickly that the stuck ship which two days ago was two miles from the open sea is now blocked by 13 miles of ice. scientists and passengers aboard the trapped ship may have celebrated too early today, tweeting this afternoon, "great news, ice breaker snow dragon on horizon with penguins, everyone very happy." however, ice is pushing into the trapped ship. the expedition leader reported on youtube. >> ice has built up. the captain adjusted the ballast
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so we readjusted the level. >> reporter: on his ship professor turney said he couldn't help thinking of "endurance" which was crushed by ice near here a hundred years ago. the famous explorer shackleton led the great escape across the ice without losing a life. not that the crew is worried yet. the scientists are continuing their experiments, counting birds in the sea, and probing the seabed 1200 feet below. >> we have lots of food and energy. we have about two week's worth of fresh food. >> reporter: even the "snow dragon" helicopter can't reach the trapped ship because heavy snow stopped it from taking off. meanwhile, another ice breaker from australia is joining a french vessel headed for the area. all waiting for a break in the weather to reach the stranded ship. martin fletcher, nbc news, london. we're back in a moment with an out-of-this-world selfie and an amazing discovery so many years later.
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an amazing discovery more than 33 years since the eruption of mount st. helens in washington state in may of 1980. an archivist at the columbian newspaper found an undeveloped roll of film containing aerial photos days before the eruption taken by a photographer from the paper in the airplane.
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a week later the photographer, reed blackburn, was killed while covering the eruption. his film was never developed until now. also tonight, we're getting a look at an incredible image from above. a spectacular selfie in space of astronaut mike hopkins during that christmas eve spacewalk outside the international space station. the earth, as you see there, big and blue and just beautiful behind him. and the folks at nasa have put together a collection of the most amazing images of the year taken by satellites orbiting the earth. some incredible sights including typhoon haiyan before it made land fall in the philippines, and a volcano erupting in alaska. all is ready to go in times square here in new york on new year's eve. the last of the 2,688 waterford crystals that light up the ball were put in place today. this year's design features a special crystal with a rose based on a drawing from a 12-year-old cancer patient at st. jude children's research hospital in memphis. the rose is said to represent the gift of imagination. when we come back, our tribute to some of the famous
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names we loved and lost in the year that was. >> some day soon, you will have families of your own.
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finally tonight our annual tradition, looking back at the year that was. as we close out this last full week of 2013, tonight we remember some of the notable names who departed. ♪ >> no prisoners! >> "lawrence of arabia," the fact that it had the patience to tell the story without having to blow something up every five seconds. it's a masterpiece.
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>> we're happy, aren't we? terribly happy? ♪ yeah, let's give it a whirl ♪ beach blanket bingo ♪ that's the name of the game >> both teams have been playing outstanding football. ♪ we're heart aches are going to the inside ♪ ♪ my tears are holding back ♪ they're trying not to fall ♪ my heart's out to the running ♪ ♪ race is on and it looks like heart ache ♪ ♪ and the winner loses on ♪ i was dancing with my darling ♪ ♪ to the tennessee waltz ♪ when an old friend i happened to see ♪
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♪ boy, the way glen miller plays ♪ ♪ songs that made the hit parade ♪ ♪ guys like us, we had it made ♪ those were the days ♪ one day at a time ♪ one day at a time ♪ one day at a time ♪ different strokes to rule the world ♪ ♪ yes, it does ♪ it takes different strokes to move the world ♪ ♪ singing freedom ♪ freedom ♪ freedom >> three, two, one, zero. ♪
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♪ >> if you're lucky, you'll remember the little moments like this that were good. cheers. ♪ ♪ hey babe ♪ take a walk on the wild side i said, hey, honey ♪ ♪ take a walk on the wild side ♪
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>> you said it would be wrong to pay hush money to silence the watergate defendants. >> there are certain situations where the president can decide that it's in the best interest of the nation and do something illegal. >> free enterprise and competition are the engines of prosperity and the guardians of liberty. >> to deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. >> and our thanks to producer katie ewe and editor barry silverman for their hard work
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putting together that beautiful piece. to share that with others we put it on our website, nbcnightlynews.com. and that's our broadcast for this friday night. thank you for being with us. i'm natalie morales in for brian. lester holt will be with you this weekend. we hope to see you right back here monday night. good night. good evening, and thanks for joining us. i'm diane dwyer. >> i'm jessica aguirre. raj has the night off. happening again, tomorrow will be the 21st spare the air day in the past two months and here's what the pollution looked like from our cameras throughout the bay area. smog just looming over us. it did make for some beautiful sunsets, though. meteorologist rob mayeda is tracking the air quality but we begin with sam brock in san jose with how people are feeling outside. >> reporter: good evening, jessica. we join you live from the guadeloupe river park. a cyclist stopped me not too
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long ago to tell me she needs to take deaccongestants to make it through the week. the poor quality of air is having an effect on everybody from those seeking physical activity to couples who just want to take in a view. on a winter day, karen castillo powers through a run but it's not the cold she's fighting. >> you get like, your chest tightens up then you try, like, slowing down, but you have to keep running. >> reporter: even some casual strollers felt it today. allergies and bad asthma triggered by thick, smoggy chemically baked air. >> it was difficult to walk the dog. yeah, it was really hard to breathe. i could definitely feel it in my lungs. >> there's not much of a view. all you see, is it smog or what that you have here? >> reporter: yes, smog. and an elevated level of particulates that allergists say have been fueled by a spate of

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