For December 9, 2012, NBC
<Show: NBC NIGHTLY NEWS>
<Date: December 9, 2012>
<Head: For December 9, 2012, NBC>
<Sect: News; International>
<Byline: Lester Holt, Miguel Almaguer, Mike Viqueira, John Harwood, Annabel
Roberts, Richard Engel; Katy Tur; Mara Schiavocampo; Mark Potter>
<High: Search for missing Latin singer Jenni Rivera and company after their
plane crashed. President Obama and John Boehner to meet privately in the
White House regarding fiscal cliff. Authorities investigating death of
Kate Middleton`s nurse after receiving prank call. Syrian people showing
resilience over the effects of civil war. Questions about why New York
politicians didn`t heed warnings about what could happen in case of a
superstorm. Some home furniture filled with toxic chemicals. Saving
America`s historic naval ships.>
<Spec: Barack Obama; John Boehner; Congress; Budget; Taxes; Consumers;
Policies; Meeting; Legislation; Military; Economy; Government; Politics;
Elections; Disaster; Police; Storms; Families; Children; Sports; Chemical;
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: On this Sunday night, from Los Angeles. The frantic search for a missing pop star and her entourage after their plane went missing over Mexico. Tonight the race to find them.
The secret meeting at the White House today. What happened behind closed doors when the president met with the speaker?
A new turn in the investigation tonight after the death of Kate Middleton`s nurse.
The warnings issued decades ago, eerily similar to what actually happened when the superstorm came ashore. Why didn`t local leaders act?
And are there hidden dangers in your house? The new report that says certain types of furniture could be making your family sick.
ANNOUNCER: This is NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH LESTER HOLT, reporting tonight from Los Angeles.
HOLT: Good evening. There is late word from Mexico tonight that searchers have found what appears to be plane wreckage where an American registered corporate jet went missing this morning with Latin music superstar Jenni Rivera on board. Tonight from here in her native Southern California to across Latin America fans and colleagues of the three-time Grammy nominee are expressing shock and grief over the fate of Rivera and the six other people who were on board the jet. There were no reported signs of survivors at the apparent crash site.
NBC`s Miguel Almaguer is outside Rivera`s home in Encino, California, with the latest. Miguel?
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lester, good evening.
Jenni Riviera has always maintained a home here in Southern California. She has massive crossover appeal both in the United States and Mexico. And as you mentioned, late word tonight, they may have found the missing star.
ALMAGUER (voice-over): Mexican-American singing sensation, Jenni Rivera, who has sold some 20 million records, is tonight missing. The 43-year-old multi-Grammy nominee was last seen early this morning boarding the Learjet near Monterrey, Mexico. At 3:15 a.m. the plane, with seven believed to be aboard, departed for Toluca International Airport. Ten minutes into the flight, 62 miles after takeoff, the private jet fell off radar.
MARIA CELESTE, TELEMUNDO: No doubt she is one of the biggest stars in the Hispanic community. For years her fans have followed her life like the episodes of a telenovela.
ALMAGUER: A mother of five who recently filed for divorce, Rivera was born in Long Beach, California, to immigrant parents. In the mid `90s she became a breakout crossover star. Her self-titled released "Jenni" became her first number one album in the Billboard Top Latin albums chart. Known as "La Diva de la Vanda" for her style of Mexican music, Rivera`s career has been groundbreaking. Just last year she sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles. The first female Mexican artist to ever do so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love Jenni.
ALMAGUER: A reality TV star with her film debut set for next month. Tonight in Mexico, the search for Rivera`s plane is still under way.
ALMAGUER: Rivera`s flight was scheduled to last about an hour and a half, and although those early reports are vague, some Mexican authorities are reportedly saying that the wreckage has been found and that there are no survivors. Lester?
HOLT: Miguel Almaguer tonight here in Southern California with us. Thank you.
Now to the late word of that private meeting at the White House today between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, trying to strike a deal to avert the looming fiscal cliff.
NBC`s Mike Viqueira is at the White House tonight with more.
Mike, good evening.
MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Lester.
You know, aides are providing no details, real radio silence here, it was all done out of camera range, but you`re right, sometime this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner was here to meet face to face with President Obama. It`s the first glimmer of hope after weeks of stalemates.
VIQUEIRA (voice-over): Today a warning to Republicans from a top Senate Democrat, no hike in taxes on the wealthy, no deal on the debt.
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Even if it means going over the cliff?
DICK DURBIN (D), SENATOR MAJORITY WHIP: I can tell you, I don`t want to do it, the president doesn`t want to do it, but we need to solve the problem. We cannot allow the reckless position to drive this economy into another recession. A recession which the Republicans will own.
VIQUEIRA: This as another Republican says it`s better to cave to the president now and live to fight another day over spending.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: If we were to pass, for instance, raising the top two rates and that`s it, all of a sudden, we do have the leverage of the debt ceiling and we haven`t given that up.
VIQUEIRA: Congress must again vote to raise that debt ceiling early next year, that would mean a replay of last year`s battle and a chance for Republicans to regain the upper hand. The president has laid down an early marker.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not play that game, because we`ve got to -- we`ve got to break that habit before it starts.
VIQUEIRA: Speaker Boehner`s visit today with the president was only the second time since the election the two have met face to face. They met privately, there were no details revealed. Publicly each has been waiting for the other to blink. Republicans want a commitment on entitlement and tax reform from the president. Democrats insist not until the GOP agrees to a tax hike.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: To say they`ll go along with that and then we`ll start negotiating on the other side. It makes no sense for us to negotiate against ourselves.
VIQUEIRA: As the cliff looms, one influential voice says enough is enough.
ALAN SIMPSON, SIMPSON-BOWLES PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION: That`s like betting your country. There`s something terribly bizarre and juvenile about that as to think your party comes ahead of your country. I don`t go for that at all.
VIQUEIRA: Now, Lester, aides do say the lines of communication are open, but even given this development today the president heads out to the Detroit tomorrow to mount that public campaign, keep it going to try to keep the pressure on Republicans to cave on those tax rates. Lester?
HOLT: Mike Viqueira at the White House tonight. Mike, thank you.
And John Harwood is CNBC`s Washington correspondent.
John, what do you make of this get-together today and where do they go from here?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Lester, it`s been clear for some time that Republicans ultimately are going to give ground on tax rates, raise them for some portion of wealthy Americans, perhaps incomes over a million a year. But the question is going to be what -- does President Obama give the Republicans to help John Boehner bring his caucus along on entitlements.
That, I think, is what this week is going to be about figuring out. Two strong bets are the increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and the reduction in the Social Security inflation formula. President Obama agreed to those in -- the mid 2011 grand bargain talks that failed. John Boehner has asked for them again. It`s a good bet that those will happen.
HOLT: John Harwood in Washington. Thank you.
A month after voters went to the polls and approved same-sex marriage, couples across Washington state got married today. The earliest weddings to take place was just after midnight and hundreds of couples stayed up late, picking up their marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m.
Now to new details in the investigation of a death of one of Kate Middleton`s nurses. She apparently took her own life after a prank call by a pair of Australian deejays. And tonight British authorities said they want to talk to them.
NBC`s Annabel Roberts is in London.
Annabel, good evening.
Good evening, Lester.
ANNABEL ROBERTS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Australia broadcaster that owns the radio station has said again how saddened it is by what`s happened. But in a letter released today suggests it`s too early to know the full details that led to this tragic event.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Sidney Radio Station Today FM and its parent company, Southern Cross Stereo, are at the center of a furious storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually this is something that`s close now. And this is private property now.
ROBERTS: The company called an emergency board meeting to respond to the growing public outcry against the broadcasters the prank call received by Jacintha Saldanha, one of Kate Middleton`s nurses who three days later was found dead. It released a letter addressed to the chief executive of the London hospital where she worked. The broadcaster again expressed sympathy calling the event truly tragic, and went on to say, "We assure you we will be fully cooperative with all investigations. We are reviewing the broadcast and processes involved."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you believe what happened tonight?
ROBERTS: The two deejays who made the call are said to be in hiding following personal attacks. It`s understood they`re keen to speak publicly about what happened and may do so tomorrow.
Could they be prosecuted? It`s not clear. Australia has rules about recording and broadcasting a private conversation, but they`re rarely enforced. London police have made contact with their Australia counterparts. Officers say they may want to speak to the deejays.
NICK KALDAS, NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We`ve certainly opened up the lines of communication and obviously we`re happy to assist in any way we can.
ROBERTS: The autopsy on Saldanha`s body will take place in the next few days and an inquest will open soon after. She leaves a husband and two teenaged children. Her daughter left a simple message on Facebook, "I miss you, I love you."
As the family grieves, the radio station and the hospital tread carefully. These events have shocked and saddened many who are now trying to understand the circumstances of her tragic death.
ROBERTS: Today FM has suspended all commercials until Wednesday at least out of respect. There are several major advertisers who were already boycotting the station. Lester?
HOLT: Annabel, thank you.
In Egypt, efforts by that country`s embattled president to tamp down mass protests have failed. Protesters rallied again today outside a presidential palace after Mohamed Morsi refused to cancel a new referendum on a new constitution written by his allies. Last night Morsi took back his controversial decrees that gave him near unrestricted powers that had some there calling him a new dictator.
In Syria tonight, rebel forces in control of large swaths of the countryside tell NBC News they`ve taken aim in a large base full of government forces.
Our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has made his way inside Syria. He filed this report from the outskirts of Syria`s largest city, Aleppo.
RICHARD ENGLE, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: As this conflict drags on, the people are suffering, but also showing a tremendous amount of resilience. This house was bombed by mistake. The people who lived here lived next to a rebel commander. Now they`re homeless. But aside from the damage, and there is extensive damage in this part of Syria, just on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo, there are also tremendous economic difficulties.
The Syrian currency is now worth about half of what it was worth before this war started. A loaf of bread costs 20 times more than it did just a few months to go. Fuel is in very short supply and if you can find it, it is also very expensive. But despite all of that, the rebels are making advances, they are pushing on to President al-Assad`s military bases, surrounding his military bases. There`s no hope here for a diplomatic solution, the rebels don`t want one. They say the only solution they will accept is a military victory.
Richard Engel, NBC News, on the outskirts of Aleppo.
HOLT: Tonight Defense officials tell our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski that a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed during the rescue operation of an American doctor in Afghanistan. His name has not yet been released. It happened during a raid to save Dr. Dilip Joseph who was kidnapped by the Taliban five days ago. The military says the operation was ordered after intelligence showed the doctor`s life was in danger.
Just two months after winning re-election, Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, says his cancer has returned and he`s seeking treatment once again in Cuba what. In a nationally televised speech, Chavez mentioned for the first time a possible successor should his condition worsen. He has not revealed what type of cancer he has.
It`s been six weeks now since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the coast of New York and New Jersey, and tomorrow the first FEMA trailers are expected to roll into New Jersey much needed temporary housing.
And in New York tonight, there are new questions about why politicians for decades didn`t heed warnings about what could happen if a superstorm like Sandy came ashore.
NBC`s Katy Tur is live in Lower Manhattan tonight with more on that. Katie?
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lester. There was a 14- foot storm surge here on lower Manhattan, completely submerging this subway station. It was basically a fish pole. The damage is still so bad down here, they don`t know when or if they`re ever going to be able to open it. Local leaders said they weren`t expecting this sort of damage despite new findings that they had been warned all along.
TUR (voice-over): Swamped subways.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A record storm surge here in the New York City area.
TUR: Massive power outages and beachfront neighborhoods leveled. While officials say Sandy was unprecedented, it wasn`t entirely unexpected. In fact for more than three decades, state legislators were told to prepare for a storm of historic proportions and law passed in 1978 requires a commission to meet at least twice a year about disaster plan.
Former New York Senator Michael Balboni.
SEN. MICHAEL BALBONI (D), NEW YORK STATE: Nobody`s taken the political courage to say, here`s the standard for preparedness, here`s the standard for recovery, we`re going to help you fund it and then we`re going to punish you if you don`t get there.
TUR: Three state reports since 2005 focused on emergency preparedness, one bluntly addressed New York`s vulnerability saying the sea level rise will progress regardless of New York`s response.
(On camera): Many predictions actually played out and officials dealt with problems like housing, gas shortages and fires as they arose.
(Voice-over): Congress even approved an Army Corps of Engineers` Hurricane Protection Study nearly two decades ago, focusing on hard hit Staten Island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe some of these houses would have been saved.
TUR: That report remains unfinished.
REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: We have wasted tax dollars and the government at all levels, the city, state, and the feds, have done this time and time again.
TUR: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says tropical storms last year triggered changes that including a strategist repositioning of equipment and emergency teams, changes that strengthen existing emergency response plans. Leaders say that ultimately saved lives, but with New York now asking for more than $40 billion to recover and prepare, many wonder why this wasn`t done sooner.
TUR: Of course the problem facing preparedness is funding. Politicians say it`s very hard to get the money they need when they`re only talking about a what if. Lester?
HOLT: Katy Tur in New York tonight. Thank you.
Still ahead, as NBC NIGHTLY NEWS continues from Los Angeles, the new warnings about hidden dangers in your house. Could certain types of furniture and clothing be making your children sick?
And later, all hands on deck, making a difference. And helping to preserve history.
HOLT: This week an environmental advocacy group filed legal action against several major retailers after tests found potentially dangerous levels of chemicals in upholstered products for children including sleeper and changing pads. In recent weeks other studies have also found similar chemicals in household furniture.
NBC`s Mara Schiavocampo has our report.
MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Treadway`s living room sofa isn`t something you`d find in a typical furniture store. To find it they turned to the eco-friendly company EcoHome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted something that has fire retardants in it. We read a lot about how they were harmful to your health.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: New research suggests she may have reason for concern. A study in the journal "Environmental Science and Technology" looked at foam stuffing in more than 100 sofas from homes around the country and found 85 percent contained potentially toxic flame retardants.
ARLENE BLUM, GREEN SCIENCE POLICY INSTITUTE: And the chemicals don`t stay in the couches. They`re continually coming out of the couches into air, dropping into dusts.
(On camera): These chemicals were first used to meet requirements in California, stating that upholstered furniture must withstand an open flame for 12 seconds.
(Voice-over): But the study authors argue the chemical carry health risks including possible neurological problem and even cancer. Among the chemicals found were PBDEs, voluntarily phased out in 2004 after the EPA expressed concern they were, quote, "toxic to both humans and the environment."
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We`re going to talk some more this morning about Tris.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: And Tris, a toxin banned from children`s sleepwear in the 1970s and later listed as cancer causing. An environmental advocacy group also reported the tests it commissioned found high levels of Tris in 16 baby and children`s upholstered products. But the chemical industry says the flame retardants don`t pose a significant risk and, quote, "provide valuable escape time in the event of a fire."
Children`s products manufacturers say they adhere to stringent safety requirements and a furniture trade group says it`s not aware of any evidence including in the sofa study linking the level of retardants in home furniture to human health problems but also calls for additional research on the chemicals which it says are used for the sole purpose of meeting California`s strict standards.
The Treadways say for them finding this eco-friendly couch was worth it. Calming fears about hidden dangers in the home.
Maria Schiavocampo, NBC News, New York.
HOLT: We`re back in a moment with a Santa sighting tonight, half a world away.
HOLT: Just call him Johnny Heisman. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel who Aggies fans called Johnny Football, because the first freshman to win college football`s most prized award last night, just a few days after turning 20. Manziel led the team to 10-2 season including an upset of national title contender Alabama.
A big winter storm is wreaking havoc across the nation`s upper Midwest tonight. The heaviest snow of the season is falling in parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Authorities in Minnesota say there have been more than 300 car accidents in the past 24 hours.
And about that Santa sighting we mentioned before the break. It was actually a whole lot of Santas. About 800 of them. Not the real guy, of course, he`s busy, but just like some folks -- just some folks who like to dress up and run around in the snow at the Fourth Annual Santa Claus running competition in Germany.
When we come back, some of our nation`s bravest making a difference and still serving our country well past active duty.
HOLT: Our final story tonight is about a group of American veterans who have found a way to continue serving their country long after their active duty days have passed. All hands on deck, helping to preserve historic American ships.
Here`s NBC`s Mark Potter.
MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum near Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. Navy veterans, now in their 70s, have volunteered to help preserve the USS Laffey, a destroyer built during World War II. In 1945, the Laffey was hit by five kamikazes and three bombs killing 31 crewmembers. To the men who served afford the Laffey, saving her is personal.
SONNY WALKER, USS LAFFEY ASSOCIATION: This is hollowed ground, when we come aboard this ship, you can feel her come alive.
POTTER: Also at Patriot`s Point is the carrier USS Yorktown known as the fighting lady which served in World War II and Vietnam, and also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts before being decommissioned in 1970.
RICH DUNN, USS YORKTOWN MAINTENANCE MANAGER: The steel is also rusting from the inside.
POTTER: But like scores of other historic ships and museums around the country, the Yorktown is in need of costly repairs.
DUNN: The wear and tear from the salt water.
POTTER: Mac Burdette runs Patriots Point and says raising repair money for these privately run museum ships is a huge challenge.
MAC BURDETTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PATRIOTS POINT: When you`re looking at tens of millions of dollars that it will take to restore the USS Yorktown, you can`t sell enough t-shirts and sell enough tickets to make that happen.
POTTER: Already a dozen historic ships have been lost.
(On camera): An example of a museum ship in trouble is this one. The USS Clamagore, a Cold War era submarine now in danger of toppling over.
(Voice-over): Repairing it will cost more than $3 million. So chances are unless there`s a big donation, the Clamagore will be sunk at sea, closing another chapter in U.S. history.
JOHN HUDAK, USS LAFFEY VETERAN: If they did away with all the museums, it would be like getting rid of the battlefields, whether, you know, like Gettysburg, Vicksburg.
POTTER: For now the Laffey has been spared, as other storied American ships face the ravages of time.
Mark Potter, NBC News, Charleston.
HOLT: That`s NBC NIGHTLY NEWS for this Sunday. Brian Williams will be here tomorrow. Up next "Football Night in America," followed by "Sunday Night Football," the Lions and Packers.
I`m Lester Holt reporting from Los Angeles. For all of us at NBC News, good night.
(Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 NBCUniversal. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.)