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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 29, 2013 3:30pm-4:01pm PST

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on this sunday night, terror attack. a suicide bomber strikes at a packed train station in russia, killing at least 16 people and raising security concerns with less than six weeks until the winter games in sochi. the benghazi attack, a "new york times" report reignites a fierce debatever whether al qaeda was involved in the deadly september 11th assault on the american compound in libya. calorie count, the new regulations coming to a vending machine near you, but will it really guide your snack choices? and year of the selfie. memorable images from what became one of the 2013's hottest trends.
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>> from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. the death toll is now 16 in the deadly bombing of a busy train station in russia today. an attack that tonight has security concerns reverberating across that country now just 39 days before russia hosts the 2014 winter olympics. officials say a lone suicide bomber detonated inside the entrance of the rail station in the city of volgograd, formerly known as stalin grad. it's just 400 miles northeast of sochi, and tonight security experts are raising concerns the attack could be part of a broader terror campaign aimed at disrupting the olympics themselves. we begin our coverage with nbc's jim meseda in moscow. jim? >> reporter: hi, lester. well, the suicide bomber struck at that strain station just as it was at its busiest, full of russians going home for their
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new year's holidays. the moment the bomber set off a suicide vest with more than 20 pounds of dynamite caught on a security camera. filled with shrapnel, it killed at least 16 and injured dozens more just inside the train station in volgograd a key hub in southern russia. all hell broke loose, said this eyewitness. i came through the metal detectors, took my luggage. there was a lot of people. they pushed me forward and suddenly a pop sounded. i felt a kick and had a fall. inside the train station itself, everything is destroyed, said this woman. this policeman apparently stopped to question the nervous looking bomber and died the instant the suicide vest was triggered. police say the death toll could have been much higher, but a metal detector blocked the bomber's path. it's part of the beefed up security across russia just 39 days before the start of the winter olympics in sochi.
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no one's yet claimed responsibility for this attack, the third in just two months, including a suicide attack on a bus in the same city. while today's suicide bombing only 400 miles from the olympic venue. counterterrorism experts say this has all the signs of islamist militant tactics, keeping russian security guessing. >> the most important thing is to show them something might happen, not in the immediate area, but also in central russia and moscow and some other cities or towns. >> reporter: led most likely, say investigators, by this man, a chechen war lord, who just months ago called for attacks on civilians and the olympics. he's launched other deadly attacks. the most dramatic the bombing four years ago of the moscow subway, killing 40 and a year later at moscow's international airport, killing 37. russian president vladimir putin meanwhile is deploying some 40,000 special forces, police, and agents to make sure his pet
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olympics project is 100% safe, but russia experts say nothing is that safe. >> it's a nightmare. how do you stop a single islamist bomber, a single suicide bomber who's determined to blow himself up or herself up? >> reporter: and how tight will olympic security be? well, there's going to be a 1500-mile security zone around sochi. no vehicles will be allowed inside. and nor will you unless you have a special sochi olympics passport, just like a new country. but will it be enough? lester? >> jim meseda in moscow tonight. let's bring in nbc counterterrorism analyst michael leiter. if this was related to the olympics, it would be an a-symmetric attack. is that the kind of thing security experts have been concerned about? >> it really is, lester. since these games were first awarded to russia several years back, people were worried because of the long-standing
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conflicts in the north caucasus. and this type of mass transit is what officials are most concerned with. >> given the nature of the olympics, the international nature, would the russians be working with their counterparts, for example, in the u.s., intelligence experts here? >> lester, i ran for the u.s. intelligence community coordination with other nations on the olympics, and it's always a very lengthy process. but frankly, the u.s.-russian relationship has made that very hard. although there were improved relations after the boston bombing, specific to that event, u.s. and russian officials really aren't sharing the way we have in past olympics. now, the u.s. can only help so much, especially on these domestic issues, but we have to hope after this bombing so close to the games it will reinvigorate some of that sharing that needs to occur to make these games as safe as possible. >> all right. michael leiter, we appreciate
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your analysis. thanks. a "new york times" report today has reignited a long-running battle between the white house and republicans over the circumstances surrounding last year's attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya, that killed four americans, including ambassador christopher stevens. our white house correspondent kristen welker is here with details. >> good evening. the report is significant because it is the first to suggest that al qaeda did not play a role in the attack and that an american-made video which many perceived as anti-muslim may have sparked the unrest. republican congressman darryl issa, one of the most outspoken critics of the white house's handling of the benghazi attack, stood by his version of the september 11 events on "meet the press" today. >> al qaeda is not decimated, and there was a group there that was involved that is linked to al qaeda. >> issa has long asserted the administration lied about what led to the 2012 attack. four americans were killed, including ambassador christopher stevens. >> so we have seen no evidence
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that the video was widely seen in benghazi. a very isolated area. or that it was a leading cause. >> "the new york times" david kirkpatrick, who spent months interviewing libyans on the ground, tells a different story, writing that an american-made anti-muslim tape fueled the incident, and benghazi was not infiltrated by al qaeda but nonetheless contained grave local threats to american interests. >> the people who attacked the compound were members of the militia the u.s. expected to protect the same mission. >> white house officials say they don't dispute "the times" report. the administration has pill laired by republicans who accused president obama of trying to down play a link to al qaeda for political purposes and his entire administration was on defense. >> i take responsibility. >> but it was susan rice, the u.n. ambassador at the time, who took the most heat after making this now infamous comment. >> what happened in benghazi was, in fact, officially a spontaneous reaction to what had
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just transpired hours before in cairo. almost a copy cat of the demonstrations against our facility in cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. >> today kirkpatrick said his report wasn't bolstering the original assessment. >> in fact, she made some clear misstatements there. this was not a street protest, and it was not a copy cat of what happened in cairo. that was an unarmed street protest. this is a group of armed men who inspired by a video deliberately attacked the compound. >> foreign policy expert david rode said politics are overshadowing the continuing threat. >> what's frustrating is we're missing the real lessons here, which there are other threats in the middle east that aren't members of al qaeda. >> now, the administration has vowed to prosecute those responsible for the benghazi attack, but so far no one has been brought to justice. lester? >> kristen welker tonight, thanks. more violent protests in cairo, egypt, today, by islamic university students demanding the return of muslim brotherhood president mohamed morsi, who was
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removed by the military in july. it was the second straight day of clashes between students and egyptian security forces. at least one student was killed yesterday. back in this country, a nationwide man hunt for an alleged cop killer an bank robber appears to be over. the fbi says the suspect was killed today in a shootout with police in phoenix. here's nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: a phoenix detective is being hailed as a hero tonight for jumping in when he heard a fellow officer under fire, not knowing the suspect was the same man wanted in a brazen cop killing just days before. >> because he responded, we have two officers that were involved in this ordeal and they're both alive. >> reporter: according to officials, the suspect's deadly crime spree started two days before christmas in atlanta when the man with a black mask, pattern jacket and semiautomatic handgun made off with money from a customer at an atm. that same day 300 miles away in
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mississippi, officials say the suspect hit another bank then ambushed responding officers. >> when he engaged those officers, he seemed to have gotten into a firing position or firing stance similar to someone that has a background in tactics. >> reporter: a 38-year-old husband and father was killed. his partner severely wounded. and a massive man hunt began. then saturday more than 1500 miles away in phoenix, arizona, authorities say a man who fit the description of the suspect robbed a third bank, shooting at responding police before he was shot and killed. >> similarities included the clothing worn by the subject, the object the subject utilized to prop open the door, statements the bank robber uttered during the robberies. >> reporter: authorities also traced the suspect's cell phone to the three locations. they still have not released his identify. for the widow of the officer in
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mississippi, the end of the coast-to-coast man hunt -- >> thank you from the bottom of our hearts for shining your light in this time of darkness. >> reporter: is the beginning of the healing. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. the obama administration today relesioned new numbers showing a december surge in sign ups through the government's rehabilitated health care website. total enrollment now tops 1.1 million. that's after 975,000 americans signed up this month alone. meantime, for a lot of americans, including those working for small businesses, there is still uncertainty and often sticker shock over their health choices. nbc news senior investigative correspondent lisa meyers reports from michigan. >> reporter: 40 employees of extreme dodge in jackson, michigan, just came face to face with the new realities of health care, and most did not like what they see. >> how is this helping the average american that works 40 to 50 hours a week?
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how are we supposed to live? >> reporter: at their annual benefits meeting, they were told their current insurance was canceled because it doesn't comply with the new health care law and that the dealership had decided to take things in a new direction. >> it doesn't add up. >> reporter: the company is changing how it handles health insurance this year. instead of actually providing a company health plan as it has for 35 years, the business now will give each worker $2400 to buy insurance or spend on something else. that $2400 is slightly more than the company spent per worker on health insurance this year, the owner says. the change is to control future costs. and is it a step back in your commitment to provide health care? >> as a business owner, you know, we have to be viable first and then provide services. >> reporter: the owner brought in an insurance broker to help his workers figure out if they'd be better off buying insurance elsewhere. there were a handful of winners, mostly low-income workers who can get insurance for very
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little through the new government health care exchange. you excited? >> oh, yeah. anything that can help me and my family out, that's what we're going to do. >> reporter: others make a little too much for a government subsidy and will use the $2400 from the company to buy a group plan it has recommended. but under that new group plan, they face much higher out-of-pocket costs. the deductible will go from $1125 this year to $3,000 next year. and maximum out-of-pocket costs jump from $2250 to $6350. and for families, those numbers double. >> you don't make that much money to begin with. and the prescriptions are going to kill me. >> reporter: while employees here are used to their costs going up every year, it's never before been this dramatic. most of this group count themselves as losers under the new law. many feel they're paying too much to help others get insurance. >> there's nothing wrong with trying to help people, but
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there's a better way. this isn't the way. >> reporter: a veteran mechanic said he hoped the new law would help his family. now he's upset. >> the days of low deductibles and all that stuff are gone. so it's not going to get any better. it's just going to get worse. >> reporter: lisa meyers, nbc news, jackson, michigan. when "nbc nugtly news" continues on this sunday, something new coming to the vending machine. will you get your favorite snack? some food for thought. and later, new hope for some food for thought. and later, new hope for american express credit card, every purchase earns you 2% cash back, which is deposited in your fidelity account. is that it? actually... there's no annual fee and no limits on rewards. and with the fidelity cash management account debit card, you get reimbursed for all atm fees. is that it? oh, this guy, too. turn more of the money you spend into money you invest. it's everyday reinvesting for your personal economy.
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it's one of the lesser known requirements under the new health care law. calorie counts are soon to be posted on vending machines nationwide. the goal is to help you make healthier choices, but will it work? our report from nbc ease joe fryer. >> reporter: a4, b6, c7. these are the letters and numbers we're used to seeing on vending machines but soon a new crop of information will appear, the calorie count. >> for me, i think it's a great idea. i would definitely use it. >> i think it's kind of silly, being that it's a vending machine and most people don't really go to a vending machine for a nutritious snack. >> reporter: as part of the health care overhaul, calorie information will soon be required on about 5 million vending machines nationwide. >> some regulations make sense. this is one of the ones that are really a flop. >> reporter: allen's company, absolute vending, as hundreds of
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machines. he says the cost will be hard for smaller companies to absorb. >> it equates to cutting down on jobs and other things. >> reporter: the fda estimates this change will cost the vending machine industry $25.8 million up front and $24 million a year after that. but that is how much the health care system could save the fda says if just 0.02% of obese adults ate 100 fewer calories a week. >> on the upside of this, saving just 100 calories a day can help you lose ten pounds in a year. >> reporter: inside a single vending machine, there's a wide range of options from a bag of chips that has 100 calories to a pack of cookies that totals 650 calories. some vending machines already highlight healthier options and many restaurant chains now post calorie information, although early research shows most customers don't pay attention. >> but because some people will find this useful, there's no downside to using this kind of information. >> reporter: once the fda
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releases the new rules early next year, vending machine companies will have a year to comply and make sure every code comes with a calorie count. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. up next, why what happened in the broadcast booth at yesterday's pinstripe bowl is maki mine was earned orbiting the moon in 1971. afghanistan in 2009. on the u.s.s. saratoga in 1982. [ male announcer ] once it's earned, usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation because it offers a superior level of protection and because usaa's commitment to serve current and former military members and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve. [ male announcer ] what kind of energy is so abundant, it can help provide the power for all this? natural gas. ♪ more than ever before, america's electricity is generated by it.
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cold medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip, and pow! it instantly opens your nose up to 38% more so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do. sleep. add breathe right to your cold medicine. shut your mouth and sleep right. breathe right. a 900-foot long section of a scenic highway in northwestern mexico collapsed and fell about 100 feel following a series of small earthquakes yesterday. no injuries are reported. it happened about 60 miles south of the border city of tijuana. the rescue of those 74 people trapped aboard a research ship stuck in the ice in antarctica may now be just hours away. the team leader aboard the ship tells nbc news that approaching australian ice breaker is now making good progress. we get the latest from nbc's duncan goel stonny. >> reporter: after seven days trapped at the bottom of the
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earth, these stranded scientists may soon be rescued. the australian ice breaker is pushing its way to the russian research ship, hoping to sail where others have not been able, into the thick, compacted ice. >> that's what we aim to do, see if we can break them out. >> reporter: the 74 team members are still collecting data and making the most of the situation, exploring the icy waters, getting to know their penguin neighbors, and taking selfies. >> hi, everybody. it's mary from antarctica. having a wonderful time. you can see we have this wonderful snowy wonderland. it's my birthday today. couldn't be a better day. >> it's absolutely spectacular here. >> reporter: there is also hope that even if the australian ship fails to breakthrough the ice, which in some places is ten feet thick, the passengers can still be air lifted off. this helicopter belongs to a nearby chinese ship. its crew reported earlier today that ice conditions appear to be improving. and the team leader posted a
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photo of the ice cracking. >> alternatives to the ice breakers are things like the helicopter evacuation. that's the last measure, really. the first priority is to see if we can get the vessel out with everyone on board. >> reporter: this expedition began at the end of november and was to conclude on january 4th in new zealand. they should still make it on time. today the team was briefed on the possibility that journey could begin with a helicopter rescue. amid the laugher this, they had just one concern. how would they get their luggage back? >> see you soon! >> reporter: nbc news. it turns out the most critical play in yesterday's pinstripe bowl at yankees stadium came during halftime. that's when former nfl quarterback jesse palmer leapt into action using the heimlich maneuver to help his espn broadcasting partner chris fowler. fowler later tweeted, never before needed a heimlich at halftime or any time. thanks, jesse palmer, he saved me from death by dry chicken
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or difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis for daily use and a 30-tablet free trial. finally tonight, why 2013 may go down as the year of the selfie. as our jenna wolf reports, it's a fad no one seems to be able to resist. >> reporter: call it the digital answer to the self-portrait. the selfie, an empowering act where you control your own image. what is a selfie? >> when you take a picture of yourself and then you post it. >> sometimes people take a selfie to show where they are. like, look, i'm on a lake.
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but one thing they always have in common is a lot of posing. >> reporter: who's taking selfies? it's not just your kids. the pope has posed, as did the president this year. most of hollywood snapped selfies. it was oxford dictionary's 2013 word of the year. >> we really are looking inward. it's something that everyone can engage in. all you need is a phone. >> reporter: the phone and a good high angle, apparently. >> you want to get it up like this. >> why? >> that way your arm's not in the picture. >> reporter: the advent of the front-facing camera in 2010 suddenly put the power and creativity of self-snaps directly in our hands. but it's not enough to just take a selfie. posting them on social media sites like twitter, facebook, and instagram has become part of our digital identities. and for celebrities, that's key. >> by posting selfies of
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themselves all over the place, they're actually connecting with their fans in an authentic, real way. >> reporter: but does this obsession with the selfie make us a selfish culture? >> the more social media platforms we have, we're going to keep posting. >> reporter: bottom line, if this scene is all too familiar -- >> hi, excuse me. can you take a picture for me? can you get the tree in the background? and can you get me from like here up? is it perfect? and that's why we take selfies. jenna wolf, nbc news, new york. here's looking at us. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. stay tuned for sunday night football night in america for the eagles versus the cowboys. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. see you here tomorrow evening. for all of us her
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television >> announcer: nbc sports, exclusive home of the nhl, premier league. the sochi olympic winter games and primetime number one show, "sunday night football." a look at the dallas skyline and tonight, in nearby arlington, at at&t stadium, it's the final game of the nfl regular season. and essentially, it's a playoff game. the eagles and the cowboys for the nfc east title on "sunday night football." the cowboys have been in this exact position and lost each of the past two seasons. and tonight, they're without their starting quarterback, that guy, kyle orton, who has started 69 nfl games since 2005, but


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