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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 27, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EST

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the investigation. how did a man on the government's radar get on a plane with dangerous explosives? flight rules. a new reality for millions of travelers after a christmas day terror scare in deoit. what you need to know before you take your next flight. > decoding cops. why this -- >> echo 1. >> -- may be a thing of the past. and making a difference. one man dishing out a very special kind of support this one man dishing out a very special kind of support this holiday season. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. if you fly and you thought getting up to use the restroom or reaching into the overhead bin for a pillow or a blanket was a given, think again. for millions of americans traveling home tonight from their holiday break there are new rules in the air and on the ground after a foiled attempt to bring down a delta northwest flight over detroit on christmas day. also tonight, the obama administration has ordered a thorough review of security procedures. and incredibly, there has been a new security alert at that same airport on that same flight. we've got all the angles covered, beginning with john yang at the detroit metro airport. john, good evening. >> reporter: goo evening, amy. the suspect in that christmas day attack has now been released from the hospital. tonight he's being held at a federal detention center in milin, michigan, which is about 50 miles south of here. meanwhile, here at the detroit airport there was a fresh reminder today of the high anxiety over airline security.
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today another emergency call from delta-northwest flight 253 from amsterdam to detroit. the very same flight umar farouk abdulmutallab is charged with trying to destroy on christmas day. this time a passenger locked himself in the restroom. it turned out to be a nigerian businessman who'd become ill, but authorities took no chances, using bomb-sniffing dogs to check every piece of luggage. today's incident happened just hours after administration officials said even though there's no indication of a wider plot president obama's ordered a full review of how the government tracks people like abdulmutallab, who may have ties to terrorism. >> what we are looking at is literally how he got on the plane to make sure that screening procedures were followed and if they were followed whether they need to be changed. >> reporter: the review will include how agencies share information and how names are added to watch lists. nigerian officials say abdulmutallab spent less than a day in lagos before flying to amsterdam aboard a klm flight
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and then boarding northwest 253 for detroit. federal prosecutors say that flight was minutes from landing when abdulmutallab tried to detonate a device he'd smuggled on board, setting part of the cabin wall on fire before passengers could restrain him and put out the flames. >> you could smell the burning. it wasn't just coming from his clothes. there was definitely damage to the plane. >> reporter: when the tsa cleared northwest 253's passenger list, abdulmutallab was only on the first and largest of four databases. with more than 500,000 names, getting on that first list requires only that someone raise concern, as the suspect's father had recently done with the u.s. embassy. being on that list doesn't trigger any further action or investigation. to be prevented from flying, there would have to be several pieces of evidence that someone poses an actual threat. less than 1% of individuals on any list ever makes ito the no-fly list. so abdulmutallab was allowed to fly without special scrutiny. but how did he get past security with the high explosive petn,
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the very same material shoe bomber richard reid tried to light aboard a paris to miami flight eight years ago this month? >> explosive detection is still very difficult. in this particular case a substance like petn, when it's sewn into your undergarments, it's almost impossible to detect. >> reporter: analysts say technology does exist to detect explosives but it's not more widely used because it's expensive and it can add time to the screening process. amy? >> nbc's john yang. thank you. and for those traveling over this very busy weekend, tighter security procedures have made it slow going at airports. while in the air passengers are getting some unwelcome surprises. nbc's kerry sanders joins us from miami international airport with that part of the story. kerry, good evening. >> reporter: well, good evening, amy. if you're traveling domestically or internationally, the rules have changed again. that means for passengers there's going to be more inconvenience, more delays. but the hope is it will also
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mean more security. international flights are running an hour or more behind schedule here in miami and several other cities, as travelers now face new security procedures. passengers complain to them some of the directives make no sense, like the new requirement they must remain in their seats for the final hour of the flight. >> i thought it was ridiculous. i couldn't -- i thought, okay, so -- okay. if somebody's going to do something to the plane, are they only going to do it the last hour of the flight? >> reporter: not only do passengers have to remain seated. that means no going to the bathroom in the final hour. they also may not reach into the overhead or have a blanket or pillow on their laps. >> when i found out, okay, you can't even go up to go to the bathroom i'm thinking, okay, that's interesting. >> reporter: all 10-year-old edbrindell wanted was his ipod. >> could you get your ipod out? >> nop p because it was in the overhead bin. >> were you angry about that or
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frustrated? >> yeah. i was really frustrated. >> reporter: security experts say the new one-hour rules for international flights are designed to prevent a plane from blowing up and then showering debris over a u.s. city rather than the ocean. >> they made certain if you get up to try to walk around in the aisle you're going to have a problem. they made that clear over and over. >> reporter: also new on international flights, the internet and the seatback map systems telling you where you are minute by minute are now disabled, preventing travelers from pinpointing a city or landmark. bill sandman from atlanta, landing in london today. >> they explained that was no longer possible because of new tsa rules. so we were not able to follow our flight on the monitors. >> reporter: on some planes the gps system is integrated into the entertainment system, meaning the tvs have also been turned off. 9, 12, 16-hour flights without a movie. around the world, security is visibly beefed up. and for all flights to the u.s., passengers are now being
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frisked. and all hand-carried luggage is screened twice -- once by x-ray and once by hand at the gate. former government aviation experts say these new cumbersome rules ignore the security failure. >> this person was already singled out. and his name appeared on lists that we had prior to his attack. and yet weere unable to use this information and stop him. this is where the problem lies. >> reporter: domestically, as folks are flying home from their holiday, the tsa says security is beefed up but it's not uniform from airport to airport. so what you see here at miami international airport will be different, say, in oakland. the idea, they say, is to be unpredictable. amy? >> kerry sanders, thank you. the president has been monitoring the situation while on vacation in hawaii, and that's where we find nbc's chief white house correspondent, chuck todd. chuck, good evening.
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>> reporter: good evening, amy. well, the president, as youe noted, is being -- being very low-key, keeping a low profile in hawaii. the only pictures today, for instance, were the president and his family on the beach. and some have been critical of, that saying why hasn't the president spoken out sooner about the situation in detroit and the situation overall when it comes to the issue of how to deal with this investigation, for instance, int the terrorism watch list. aides tell me we should expect to hear from the president possibly as early as tomorrow but sometime in the next week on this issue and on the ongoing situation when it comes to this investigation. but people that aren't being very silent are some republican critics. i was talking to congressman peter king of new york today. and he was very critical, for instance, of secretary napolitano saying that the system worked this morning, for instance, on "meet the press." he says the system didn't work. while the response worked after the fact when the suspect was
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detained and other airliners were notified of the potential threat and the new security measures were put into place, that the real issue is that there was a system that didn't work and that is this terrorist watch list, that it's not working, that it's too cumbersome. another critique that's coming at the administration is this idea that maybe they have too politically correct of a policy when it comes to the issue of terrorism, and that's where you're going to see now ideological fights between republicans and the obama administration on this ise, amy. >> chuck todd, traveling with the president. thank you, chuck. for a second day investigators in london were back at the apartment that the terror spect is said to have shared with his family while attending university college london. scotland yard would say only that their searches were continuing. and as officials we looking for clues in london, there were also searches under way in the suspect's home country of nigeria. that's where cnbc's erin burnett is tonight, joining us from the capital city of abuja with the latest. good evening, erin. >> reporter: here in abuja, amy,
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tonight it was actually fairly quiet at the family compound. i actually visited there. it was pretty quiet on the street. there were many people coming, actually, to pay their respects to the family. people in this country overwhelmingly have talked to me about a sense of shame and anger about what happened and about how this could have happened to that family. keep in mind that this family is one of the wealthiest and most prominenhere in nigeria. the father, in fact, for ten years was the chairman of the oldest bank in the country, and he is one of the wealthiest people here. now, what i hear from srces close to the family continues to be that in that letter he submitted to nigerian and american officials he said that his son had spoken of sacrificing himself. and that was one of the examples he gave as to why he was worried about his son being a danger potentially to the united states. now, i was at one of the governor's mansions after i visited the family compound here in abuja, amy, and the talk there was pretty heated and passionate about what role being muslim has to play in this and whether there could have been links to other countries. the headline here in one of the major papers that i'm holding
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up, a classic. mutallab, "the man who shamed nigeria." that's what you're hearing about. and there's a big argument about whether it is tension in the muslim north of this country, where there has been violence against christians, whether that is something that is a broader story here. keep in mind that 12 of the 36 states in this country are ruled by sharia, or muslim law, and more than half of the population in this country is muslim. so that is a key issue for them. but again, what i'm hearing fm many of the wealthy people i've spoken to, amy, is look, we have sent our children overseas to school, we send them to the united kingdom, it is there that they're radicalized, not here, and nigeria frankly is terrified, to use the word, that they could be judged by one person in the united states. back to you. >> cnbc's erin burnett in nigeria. thank you. another location mentioned in connection with the suspect is yemen, where he told investigators he has contacts in al qaeda. nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel is with us tonight. you've spent a lot of time in
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yemen. is it a perhaps new and growing threat to the united states? >> reporter: it is certainly not a new threat. of course the "uss cole" was attacked in yemen. the majority of detainees at guantanamo bay are yemenis. but i would agree with you it is a growing threat. we've heard about yemen over the last several weeks and months in particular with the connection to the ft. hood attacker. he was linked to a cleric in yemen. al qaeda now has a very strong base in yemen. some say it rivals even pakistan. that said, there is one positive note. the government of yemen has been very cooperative, working closely with u.s. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and just over the last week or so yemen launched two major air strikes against suspected al qaeda targets, killing about 60 suspected al qaeda suspects, militants. the problem is the government of yemen doesn't have control over all of its territory. so there is a good possibility that if somebody went there to be radicalized they could hide
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in a town or village and never be found. >> richard engel, as always, thank you. >> weather delays are adding to the headaches for travelers. the last gat gasp of the blizzard caused flight cancellations. while hardest hit areas of the midwest were struggling with icy conditions that made roadways treacherous and there may be a new storm gearing up for the new year. we're joined by the weather channel's samantha mohr. a lot to talk about, samantha. >> boy, you're not kidding, amy. and the storm system we're still dealing with across the great lakes tonight has had quite a legacy. part of it forming here across the southern part of the country. in arizona we had three fatalities from a dust storm as this system moved on through. then it made tracks into the dallas-ft. worth area. and then we saw some problems with the snowfall coming on down there. in fact, three inches of snow in the dallas area. oklahoma city saw 14 inches. we had drifts up to 10 feet in places like hastings and minot. then the snow dumped in on
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chicago. and boy, did it dump in. we saw some 6 to 12 inches here. and the snow is still coming down. columbus now has half-mile visibility with the fog and the snow that's coming down. so we have our first frontal system moving through as we speak. a cold arctic system moving in behind it. we're going to be shivering all across the great lakes and into the northeast with this system, and we have to be concerned about the heavy snowfall accumulations in ashtabula and erie. 8 to 14 inches. the next system it may take a similar track to the system we had last weekend. remember all the snow we saw across the northeast? we may be seeing that once again, amy, just in time to ring in the new year. >> all right, samantha mohr. thanks so much. and when "nightly news" continues this sunday, deadly confrontations in iran between police and opposition protesters. and later, from the heart. making a difference to the
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anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. in iran today protests by opposition supporters turned into deadly clashes with riot squads. the on couldn'trationations in iran began as hundreds of thousands turned out on the streets at the close of a religious holiday. nbc news iran bureau chief ali aruzi has the latest. >> reporter: government forces used batons, tear gas, and live ammunition to beat back thousands of protesters that had surged onto the streets of iran today in some of the most violent unrest we've seen since the disputed presidential elections in june. opposition websites claim that eight people have been killed across the country today, four people in tehran and four people in the northwest. they claim amongst the dead was the nephew of opposition leader
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mir hossain mousavi, who was apparently shot in the heart during clashes in tehran earlier today. tehran's police chief said that nobody had been shot dead in today's clashes, but he later changed his report, saying that four people had been killed in the city today but they fell off bridges and that they had been hit by cars. he said one person had been shot but not by government security forces. tensions have been simmering over the last week after the death of dissident cleric ayatollah montazeri. with pockets of violence and unrest breaking out throughout the country over the last few days, culminating in the chaos that swept through the country today. ali arouzi, nbc news, tehran. pope benedict left the vatican today for the first time since a woman knocked him down during christmas eve mass. security was heavy as the pope moved through a cwd shaking hands and greeting well-wishers. he also traveled to a soup kitchen to share a meal. when we come back, making
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new year's eve is just four days away, and there is a new look for the new year's eve ball in times square. nearly 300 waterford crystal triangles with a special celtic pattern are being installed, each built to withstand any high winds or cold temperatures during the countdown to the new year. one thing that may be disappearing in the new year is the kind of code now so familiar on police calls and scanners, that 1080 for explosion or 1071 for a shooting, is giving way to a new type of communication. here's nbc's thanh truong. >> reporter: rewind to the 1960s. >> one adam 12, a 211 in progress. >> reporter: on "adam 12" a 211 was police code for a burglary. here's ponch from the 1970s series "chips." >> 1198 at the fashion fashion in one hour. >> reporter: 1198 meant meet at a designated place.
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in real life emerncy personnel still use what are known as 10 codes, but they're not all the same. >> ours is what we call a 400 series. so it would be 411, 425. >> reporter: but that is history. following federal recommendations chattanooga police now communicate in what's called plain talk. so instead of a 413 the call for this accident came across as an suv versus a pole. 19 states are planning to switch to plain talk. why? mainly to avoid confusion. during 9/11 and hurricane katrina multiple agencies converged to help, but many relied on their own codes. >> you have people speaking different 10 codes coming into an area. it would be like you speaking german, me speaking french. >> reporter: plain talk tries to get first responders on the se page. >> dealing with plain talk, people know right away what's being said and what needs to be
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done. >> reporter:his is where plain talk is most evident. here at the 911 center dispatchers are constantly communicating with officers in the field. >> second copy. shots fired. person shot. >> reporter: as more departments adopt plain talk -- >> one adam 12. a 415 fight. >> reporter: you may in the near future only hear police code in reruns. >> 1 adam 12, p.m. watch, clear. >> reporter: thanh truong, nbc news, chattanooga, tennessee. this was a big holiday for hollywood, setting a record for the best weekend box office ever. the blockbuster "avatar" held the top spot, taking in $75 million, helping to pus the holiday weekend total to a record $278 million. when "nightly news" returns this sunday, our "making a difference" report. that's why i book with expedia. so i can find someplace familiar... or somewhere more distinctive... nice! then i can compare dates to find out when i can save the
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finally, we close this holiday weekend with our series on people making a difference during this holiday season. tonight we introduce you to a man who has dedicated himself to the homeless, adding his own special warmth to the hot meals he dishes out. nbc's peter alexander has our story. >> reporter: preparing 400 meals a day at the salvation army in mobile, alabama. >> that's good. good food. >> reporter: cecil morris jr. says cooking isn't just a job. it's a calling. >> everybody deserves a chance. everybody. >> reporter: no one knows that better than morris himself. for years this 47-year-old chef was homeless, living on the
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streets of mobile, battling addiction and diving into dumpsters to find his next meal. >> i know how it is to be hungry. it feels like your ribs and your back are having a conversation with one another. >> reporter: his life became so desperate he nearly ended it. >> if not for thealvation army, i'd be dead. it was here. >> ain't nothing left on the plate. >> reporter: morris entered the shelter's drug rehab program, began washing dishes in the kitchen, and worked his way up, the director of culinary arts. >> you ain't focusing on the things you need to be focusing on. >> reporter: today he mentors other recovering addicts. >> he's got like a tough love attitude. he's very stern and he's very do this and this, but he wants me to make it. >> reporter: what do you hope these young men most take away from your kitchen? >> they leave here a different person. i always tell them, we ain't come here to leave here as the same person. >> he has a way of touching the
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lives ofhe people. and his work in the kitchen is a ministry to him. it's not just a paycheck. it's not just work. >> it's easier to chop. >> reporter: the holiday season is morris's busiest time of the year and he says his most rewarding. >> what's the biggest compliment that someone could give you? >> oh, that's easy. when they rub their stomach. when a person leaves here saying cecil, everything was good and they rub their stomach, i know they're full. >> reporter: one man making a difference, offering food and hope. peter alexander, nbc news, mobile, alabama. and that's nbc "nightly news" for this sunday. stay tuned for "football night in america" followed by "sunday night football." the cowboys take on the redskins. i'm amy robach reporting from new york. brian williams will be here tomorrow. and for lester holt and all of us at nbc news, have a great and for lester holt and all of us at nbc news, have a great night. -- captions by vitac --
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