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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 30, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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ll of that coming up at 6:00. >> thanks for watching. nightly news is next. >> good night folks. on the broadcast tonight, wreckage recovered. the worst fears now confirmed about that passenger plane that disappeared three days ago. now investigators try to close in on what caused it to drop out of the sky. line of duty. a dramatic increase in the number of cops killed on the job this year. and police advocates worry it's part of growing animosity towards the gornment. the big plunge. just before the ball drops, so are temperatures drastically throughout the nation. but would you believe this is the warmest year on record? and peace and quiet. grades are up, suspensions are down, and this school district credits a technique that goes back thousands of years. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york,
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this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. >> good evening. i'm lester holt sitting in tonight for brian. there's such deep anguish for families of those aboard airasia flight 8501. debris and even bodies of some of the victims themselves retrieved from the java sea today left little doubt about the fate of the plane and the 162 people on board. a blue suitcase, an oxygen tank, what appears to be an undeployed emergency slide are some of the items officials have now confirmed came from the jet. the debris from the airbus was discovered off the west coast of borneo, roughly in line with the plane's flight path from surabaya to singapore. with help of the united states standing by to help find and recover the jet's flight recorders, early indications suggest the flight met a sudden end as the crew tried to negotiate around violent thunderstorm cells in their path. once again tonight we're covering several angles of this story. let's start with katy tur in singapore with the latest on the
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search. katy? >> reporter: lester, it is now day four of this search and rescue. they're going to be looking for more wreckage, more debris, more bodies, potentially even survivors. it was a tough day yesterday. it's going to be a tough day again today, but a lot of relatives say they're not going to give up hope that somebody might be found alive. at surabaya airport, all-consuming grief. indonesian officials confirming they found the wreckage of airasia flight 8501. life vests and luggage floating alongside bodies as well as a shadow that could be a large part of the fuselage. some debris may have drifted as much as 60 miles from the aircraft's last known location. the news only made worse as relatives found out while watching local news where bodies were shown without warning on live tv. airasia's ceo tony fernandes called the discovery heartbreaking.
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>> this is a horrible, horrible experience. but we will try to do our best. that's our focus right now. >> reporter: among the 162 passengers and crew on board, there were 17 children and 1 infant. 26-year-old tina marie widodo was a biology teacher. her father and boyfriend were overcome with grief. while a friend of these passengers wrote, i hope this is just a nightmare that i can end by simply waking up. the pilot was captain irianto, a man with more than 20,000 hours in the cockpit. his daughter took to social media during the search pleading with her dad to come home writing, papa, come back. i still need you. return my papa to me. today his wife said, i must be strong and tough and i'm here for my children and their future. still, some weren't ready to give up hope. this woman saying, from the bottom of my heart, i want them to still be alive. as for that charter flight that airasia was going to give family members so that they could pray for their loved ones over the last known location of the
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plane, that has been postponed, lester, so that they can focus on the search. >> katy, thanks. a lot of the questions about what happened to flight 8501 including how the crew planned to circumvent those storm cells will be answered once the cockpit and flight data recorders, the so-called black boxes, are recovered. with more on that and what investigators will be paying very close attention to, is nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: if flight 8501 is resting at the bottom of the java sea, a priority for search teams will be finding the tail section that holds the plane's cockpit voice and flight data recorders. while the flight was thought to be at 32,000 feet, flightaware's radar image shows it at 36,300. the pilot had asked to climb to 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather but air traffic control denied the request because of other air traffic in the area. those planes managed to navigate around the storm and land safely. but at its last known location, airasia may have been near stall speed. the question -- why?
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>> whatever occurred occurred quickly and resulted in the crew not being able to successfully deal with it, and as a result the airplane's at the bottom of the ocean. >> reporter: investigators will likely look at the plane's pitot tubes that help calculate its air speed. if the tubes iced over in severe weather, the plane's flight computers may have displayed bad data, confusing the pilots. that's what happened with air france 447 flying through a bad storm in 2009. the pilots panicked, grabbed the controls, then stalled and crashed the plane into the atlantic. former ntsb board member -- >> if they just taken their hands off of it, it would have flown okay they would have come out the other side got their air speed indicators back, and put it back on auto pilot, and they would have been fine. >> reporter: investigators learned what happened only after retrieving the black boxes which took more than two years. search teams will begin listening for the underwater pings coming from airasia's black boxes. the u.s. navy already in the
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area is offering listening technology. >> once you can detect the sound, then you can triangulate and fix the location of those black boxes on the ocean floor then figure out how you're going to go get them and recover them. >> reporter: we talked about the concern about the pitot tube icing event. heavy icing and hail at high altitude can also pose a risk to the engines themselves. they'll be inspecting the flight data recorder looking for any signs of that and those engines if they're ever able to pull them off the floor of the sea. lester? >> tom, thanks. we're joined now by greg feith, he's our nbc news aviation analyst and a former ntsb investigator. greg, a lot of the focus right now on whether this was a struggle to the end for the pilots to keep the plane in the air or if it broke up. i recognize probably not enough wreckage to conclude that question right now. but is the fact that there was no mayday, no declaration of an emergency, tell you anything? >> yes, lester, it really does. it indicates that the pilots were consumed with either maintaining or regaining control of the airplane and that that
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was their primary task and that was the center of their attention. and that the old adage in aviation is aviate, navigate, communicate. your primary responsibility is maintaining control of the airplane, communicating what happened and what you desire is the last thing on the priority list. >> tom mentioned this possibility of a pitot tube freezing up like we saw on flight 447. will this again focus questions on the amount of automation in today's airplanes? >> i think it will bring up a debate with regard to the actions that the pilot took or didn't take. it's all going to be dependent on what's on the flight data recorder. and if the airplane did get into some sort of unusual attitude that the pilot either lost control or couldn't regain control, there could be a debate about how much automation we depend on as pilots in flying in conditions where the airplane becomes upset and the recovery techniques that are used by crews. >> greg feith, good to have you with us tonight. thank you. former president george h.w.
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bush is resting at home in texas after spending a week in the hospital. he was admitted last tuesday with shortness of breath and spent the christmas holiday under medical care. at age 90, he's our oldest living former president. one of the most powerful men in congress today said he made a regretful mistake when he spoke before a white supremacist group more than a decade ago. congressman steve scalise of louisiana, the third ranking republican in the house, claims he did not know what the group stood for when he spoke at their gathering in 2002. it's only coming to light now after a blogger dug up old postings online. separately another republican, new york congressman michael grimm announced he is resigning. this after grimm pleaded guilty a week ago to felony tax evasion. grimm had won re-election in november when the case was pending against him. some encouraging news tonight from the american cancer society. a new report says there's been a 22% drop in the death rate from cancer over the past two decades, which means 1.5 million
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cancer deaths have been averted over that time. the report credits fewer americans smoking as well as medical advancements, but it also says we'll see over 1.6 million new cancer cases in the new year and close to 600,000 deaths. an alarming report starkly lays out the dangers faced day in and day out by those responsible for serving and protecting us. it shows an enormous jump from last year in the number of police killed in shooting incidents. the police advocacy group that put out this report fears that what it is seeing on the streets lately is having an influence. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: just this week two officers were caught in gunfire in los angeles, and in florida a gunman fired on two sheriff deputies sitting in their squad cars. the motives are still unknown. a report out today says 126 in law enforcement lost their lives on the job in 2014, with a 56% increase in the number of police
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officers killed by gunfire in the last year. of those, 15 were killed in ambush attacks. the total number of deaths is still below the decade average, but the head of the law enforcement group that conducted the report is concerned a growing anti-government sentiment may be triggering attacks. there have been months of nationwide protests calling for police reform. after the deaths of unarmed black men in what some call persistent mistreatment by cops. are protests to blame for increased violence against police officers? >> no. these protests have been centered around respect for human life, dignity for human life. >> reporter: but many in law enforcement worry about isolated messages like this one in new york earlier this month. >> what do we want? >> dead cops. >> when do we want it? >> now! >> reporter: some officials in new york blame protests in part for the murder of two nypd officers. at the funeral for officer rafael ramos, 19-year-old justin
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ramos wore his father's uniform, the same uniform that made his dad a target. >> every time i attend a police officer's funeral, i always pray that it will be the last. but i know it won't. >> reporter: that same day in florida, another teenager said goodbye to her father, police officer charlie kondeck. >> my dad died as a hero, but he he was my hero before any of yours. >> reporter: families in mourning, stark examples of what police officers put on the line every day. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. a frigid blast of arctic cold is descending on most of the nation and it is already putting the freeze on some new year's eve plans in many cities. nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer is out on rockefeller plaza with our forecast. dylan, good evening. >> good evening, lester. it is going to be a very cold end to 2014. take a look at the jet stream and see just how far south that cold air is stretching. we're going to be waking up to lows tomorrow morning and wind
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chills 20 to 40 degrees below zero across the plains and upper midwest. austin, texas, will top out at 42 degrees. they're even considering postponing outdoor new year's eve plans because of the cold. by midnight tomorrow night we're looking at most of the country below freezing, 5 in denver, 28 in times square for all the folks watching the ball drop. we'll even see snow across the southern rockies and 44 for a high on new year's day in las vegas. most of the country still below average for new year's day. in pasadena, california, home of the rose parade, we could break a record morning low and temperatures, windchills throughout the parade will only be in the 20s. and speaking of wind, the bay area in california is under a high wind warning. through the day tomorrow we could see wind gusts as high as 65 miles per hour even higher in the highest elevations than down in the valleys, lester. everyone will be bundled up for sure as we ring in the new year. >> dylan dreyer and friends on the plaza tonight. it may be hard to believe after hearing that frosty forecast, but this year is on
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track to break records for heat. also the school district that says it's unlocking powers within students, through the power of meditation.
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i recognize this may be hard to believe considering the cold that's gripping so many of us around the nation. maybe it will help if you think back to the summer when we were all cranking up the ac. because 2014 will go down as the warmest year around the globe in recorded history.
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nbc's anne thompson explains. >> reporter: for many americans, 2014 will be remembered as the year of digging out. >> i'm done with winter. officially. >> reporter: beginning and ending under a pile of white. >> i'm ready to move. >> reporter: but for the planet as a whole, 2014 is set to be the warmest year on record. continuing a century-long trend from cooler than average temperatures in 1913, to a predominance of above average temperatures in 2013. this year's record fueled by the warming oceans with seven consecutive months of new high temperatures. while yearly changes may play a role, noaa says the prime suspect is climate change. >> greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. that atmospheric temperature increase, then penetrates into the ocean as well. >> reporter: on land, australia sweltered through its hottest spring on record with temperatures topping 100 degrees. researchers say this was europe's hottest year in 500
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years. even siberia felt the heat. the coldest town in the world, oymyakon, averaged a record 9 1/2 degrees in february. usually it's 51 below. all in stark contrast to much of the u.s. >> this year the west was very warm, the central and eastern parts were average to below average. >> reporter: in fact, january to november were the coldest in the lower 48 since 1997, despite record warmth in arizona and california, making it a small cold spot in a record warm year. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we're back in a moment with cars trapped under an avalanche of white in chicago, but we're not talking about snow.
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♪ one last trial run before the big night. organizers tested the famous waterford crystal ball in times square today to make sure the official drop goes smoothly. at midnight tomorrow the ball will drop 128 feet in 60
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seconds, and when it reaches the bottom, those of us in the east will be in 2015. the ball is 12 feet in diameter and cover with about 32,000 l.e.d. lights. if the uk still had a roundtable, it would need a few more seats today. the queen announced a number of knighthoods and other honors. actor john hurt will now be sir john hurt now that he's becoming a knight. joan collins and kristin scott thomas will become dames, the knighthood equivalent for women. and paul cummins and tom piper, the men behind the ceramic poppy display at the tower of london earlier this year, honoring britain's dead from world war i, they have been declared members of the british empire. we're getting a rare glimpse at some of the more candid moments involving our commander in chief now that official white house photographer pete souza has released his annual year in photographs. they include snaps like this one from march, showing the president getting a checkup from a little boy at a d.c. classroom.
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souza says the president joked that these are the two most famous sets of ears in washington when he saw this shot of him standing next to the white house easter bunny. here he is holding a koala when he was in australia for the g-20 in november. and this shot that proves that no matter how powerful you are, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. this is the president swatting a fly with a rolled-up magazine in the oval office. no word if he was successful. it's the time of year when lots of cars suffer salt damage, but not quite like this. a wall collapsed at the morton salt building on chicago's north side brought an avalanche of salt down right on to the acura dealership next door. about 11 cars were buried or partially buried. fortunately, no injuries were reported. when we come back, it's not a new idea. in fact, it goes back thousands of years, but school leaders say it's turning their problem classrooms around.
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we send our kids off to school each day so their minds can be filled with knowledge, but clearing the mind, that's the practice one school district is preaching. it's taking time out of the day for meditation. and by looking inward these students are finding outward success. the story tonight from nbc's cynthia mcfadden.
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>> reporter: at first glance, visitacion valley school in san francisco looks like an ordinary chaotic middle school, but twice a day something out of the ordinary happens that has changed everything. it is the sound of silence. eight years ago in the heart of one of the city's poorest and most violent neighborhoods, the school was spiraling out of control. >> there would be fights here three to five times a week. the kids see guns on a daily basis. they see all sorts of weaponry. they have that baggage with them. >> reporter: desperate, the district tried a pioneering program called quiet time. >> ignore the sounds you hear outside, upstairs in the hallway. >> reporter: the idea, teach students transcendental meditation and give them two 15-minute periods a day to close their eyes and let go of the stresses in their lives. so did you buy into this at the beginning or were you a little like hold it a minute, meditation?
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>> i thought it was a joke. i thought this was iffy stuff that didn't work in the '70s so how agency -- how's it going to work now? >> reporter: but four years later some startling results made the skeptical coach a true believer. a 79% decrease in suspensions. an increase in attendance to 98% and a clear rise in academic performance. more than 1500 students and 170 staffers have now been trained to meditate in four of the district's schools. including burton high. once known as fight school. this is burton high today, where meditation has replaced mayhem. there are people who will say, hold it a second. you're taking a precious half an hour out of the school day. >> i actually was in the same boat, and i was like there's no way i'm going to steal time from english instruction or math instruction in order to do that. >> reporter: instead he agreed to extend the school day. now the results are as dramatic as in the middle school.
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a 75% reduction in suspensions and a move from the bottom of california's academic ladder to the upper middle rungs. school officials say that's because students now feel safe, relaxed and ready to learn. >> it makes you more conscious of your actions. >> it brings you down to a calmness. >> reporter: before tobias started meditating, he says he was an angry kid. >> i always want to fight everybody for some reason. >> reporter: you remember. >> yeah. >> reporter: did you see a change in him? >> yeah, tremendously compared to from sixth grade to now. >> reporter: you can't change the violence and the stress that happens outside these walls. >> i cannot, but i can help our students find ways to deal with the violence, the trauma and the stress of everyday life. >> reporter: tools they can use with their eyes closed. cynthia mcfadden, nbc news, san francisco. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt in for brian. for all of us at nbc news, goodnight.
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right now at 6:00 p.m. strong winds barrelling through the bay area tearing down power lines and trees blocking roadways. thanks for joining us, everyone. >> if you've been outside, you know. it is windy. take a live look at freemont where you can see the flags whipping out there and things are just getting started. the strong winds have created problems all over the bay area knocking down trees, toppling power poles and causing bart to stop in its tracks. we are at the trouble spots but
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begin with chief meteorology jeff who is tracking these winds. jeff? >> the thing that's different with this storm system from all of our other storms we typically see it move in and out. but the way this storm system is moving in from the north way up across canada to now on top of the bay area it's creating a long duration wind event. we've already had four to six hours of gusty winds for the greater bay area and it's likely to continue for the next 24 hours. that's where our major concern comes in right now. check out our reports coming in of downed trees reported into the national weather service. the north bay, east bay south bay, peninsula and the coastline all having reports of downed trees. again, with this wind event continuing it likely could get worse. we're now getting new information coming in from berkeley that was 62 miles per hour at 2:33 this afternoon. it did happen up in higher elevation of

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