tv NBC Nightly News NBC January 16, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
>> whenever i have anyone here visiting, they always want to see the seals. >> too cute. >> thienks thanks for joining us at 5:00. >> bye. on our broadcast tonight, blockbuster caanks for joining us at 5:00. >> bye. the justices agree to settle the issue once and for all. it's a showdown over one of the biggest cultural issues of our time. this flu epidemic underway far more lethal in children this year than in years past. some hospitals have been overrun as an alarming situation now takes hold across the country. the hottest year ever in recorded history. a shocking new picture tonight of what's happening to our planet. and the parenting debate that has erupted with people taking sides. the question is how young is too young for kids to go off without adult supervision? "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian
williams. good evening. late today we learned the u.s. supreme court has agreed to take on and likely decide the issue of same-sex marriage in this country once and for all. few issues have ever moved this fast in the history of our american society. just over a decade ago gay couples could not get married anywhere in the u.s. now it's legal in over two-thirds of the country. as the "new york times" put it late today "the pace of change on same-sex marriage and both popular opinion and in the court has no parallel in our nation's history." our justice correspondent pete williams starts us off with late details from the court building tonight. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. this is the first big showdown of its kind since the supreme court banned laws against interracial marriage almost 50 years ago. now it will decide whether same-sex marriage will be the law of the land. the court agreed to answer two questions, does the constitution
require states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and do states have to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed somewhere else? >> there aren't that many uncharted areas of the constitution when it comes to just the core question of what's discrimination, what's fairness, what's equality in the country, and how much are we going to rely on tradition? >> reporter: among the cases granted today a challenge to michigan's ban on same-sex marriage brought by april dubor and jane rous. each has adopted two special needs children. they want to be married so both can be parents of all the children. >> we saw something that was wrong and we decided we needed to make it right. and, you know, to anybody else what i'll say to you is stand up for what you believe in because that's what we're doing. >> reporter: 36 states now permit gay couples to get married covering roughly 70% of the u.s. population. the courts ruling the other way have upheld bans on gay marriage in five other states.
a split the supreme court will now resolve. groups defending the state ban says the big question is who gets to decide. >> is it a handful of federal judges that get to decide this important policy question of marriage, or is it the american people at the ballot box and to our democratic institutions? >> reporter: the court will hear the case in april and decide it by late june. and tonight the obama administration says it will urge the court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. brian. >> big development late today out of washington. pete williams starting us off tonight. pete, thanks. topping our other news tonight, as we mentioned alarming news from the cdc that's about this flu season reaching epidemic levels and particularly how it's been hitting children. the latest figures show widespread flu in almost every state. 45 children have now died of the flu during just this flu season 19 of them in the last week's time. all across the country a much more lethal pace than in years past and doctors say it has to
do with this particularly aggressive flu strain this year and a vaccine that didn't live up to expectations. our report tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman. >> reporter: 16-month-old angel was rushed to the hospital yesterday by his mom jamie. >> he would get up and start crying and not breathing. hearing your kid like that, it's like you got to take him to the hospital. >> reporter: on the front lines of the epidemic this doctor at the hospital in new york treating angel and other children. the number of pediatric deaths is four times higher than last year at this time. >> about 70% of the strains that we're seeing circulate this season have drifted, meaning they've changed a little bit and sort of outsmarted our vaccine this season. >> reporter: that's frustrating. >> yes, very. >> reporter: even though angel was vaccinated in october, he still got the flu.
>> him not getting sick or we're not in the hospital for those reasons. >> reporter: this year's strain causing otherwise healthy people to get really sick. adults too. across the country some of those who've died, a 40-year-old mother of two in new york, a 26-year-old newlywed and health care worker, 23-year-old young man from massachusetts and a 12-year-old in wisconsin. >> emergency rooms are turning away ambulances because there is no room for new patients. >> reporter: in las vegas four area hospitals have been overrun with flu patients. one hospital declaring an internal disaster. and while the vaccine is weak, health officials say it's better than nothing and vital for protecting those who can't be vaccinated. >> i strongly encourage parents to receive the influ wendz za vaccine, especially if they have children who are too young, because they need to have any protection they can. >> reporter: within 48 hours of the first sign of the flu the cdc says doctors should prescribe an antiviral like tamiflu even over the phone not even having to see the doctor.
and this year, good news, manufacturers say there's plenty of antivirals like tamiflu to go around, brian. >> very vital information tonight, nancy, thank you as always. overseas now, authorities across europe have launched new raids hitting alleged terror cells in france, belgium and germany now. all of it triggered, of course by last week's massacre in paris as the u.s. now tries to mend fences after the white house failed to send a top official to that huge anti-terrorism rally in paris last weekend. nbc's bill neely is in belgium tonight, the scene of last night's deadly shootout. bill, good evening. >> reporter: yes, good evening, brian. two dead here and dozens of raids and arrests across europe where police are warning that up to 5,000 europeans may be fighting in syria and may pose a risk back home but here it's not just a risk, it's a reality.
in paris where gunmen took 17 lives, john kerry paid tribute to dead journalists, jewish hostages and police and offered emotional support to france and its president. >> i really wanted to come here and share a hug with all of paris. >> reporter: france needs more than that. it's at war and on edge. this the response to a deranged man in a post office. in belgium the terrorist threat was real. police killing two gunmen just back from syria who were, say police, about to launch a major terrorist attack. they sifted through evidence today and arrested more suspects in a dozen raids. police say they found four assault rifles here, explosives, police uniforms and radios. they've been listening to the men's phone calls and say they would have been the prime target of the planned attack. in germany more raids and arrests.
the 9/11 terrorists found their attack in germany where police are now tracking hundreds of islamic radicals. in britain, security was stepped up outside synagogues and jewish schools. the prime minister with president obama talking tough. >> the world is sickened by this terrorism, so we will not be standing alone in this fight. we know what we're up against. >> reporter: john kerry presented james taylor to the french -- ♪ you've got a friend ♪ >> reporter: -- striking a sentimental chord at a time of deep national trauma. well, u.s. officials say they were aware of the terror cell here in belgium, and they are promising more intelligence and expertise to europe, but it will be in david cameron's words, a long, hard struggle. brian. >> bill neely in belgium tonight after another eventful week in europe. much more on all of this sunday morning on "meet the press." among chuck todd's guests will
be the new editor in chief of "charlie hebdo," the first american television interview since the massacre that claimed all of his friends. there is a religious controversy tonight on the campus of one of the great universities in the u.s. this started when officials at duke university said they would allow muslim students to use the bell tower on campus at the chapel for a call to prayer. that idea did not go over well on or off campus. our report tonight from nbc's kate snow. >> reporter: this afternoon outside the iconic chapel on duke university's campus, hundreds came for the muslim call to prayer but it wasn't exactly what they'd hoped for. on tuesday, responding to a request last semester, duke announced a change. it would broadcast the students chanting that call to prayer every friday over speakers on top of the bell tower, similar to what mosques do. the director of the duke islamic study center. >> today would have been a day
to honor both the presence of a large and thriving muslim population here and also duke's commitment to pluralism. >> reporter: but the idea of using the tower, a campus institution built back when duke was founded as a methodist university, prompted debate among students, faculty and alumni. yesterday the reverend franklin graham called on donors to duke to withhold their support until the policy was reversed. >> what i have the problem is using the chapel that was built to be a house of worship that worshiped jesus christ as the son of god. >> it goes viral, and we received many death threats against the members of the muslim community. real, credible security risks. >> reporter: scary. >> very scary, very disappointing and very un-duke. >> reporter: on thursday the university canceled plans to broadcast the call to prayer. >> they apparently bent to pressure and that is a slap in the face to muslims.
>> i think it was a real lost opportunity to start some dialogue between faith communities. >> reporter: a university spokesman says they made a mistake by not involving the whole duke community in a decision about such an important symbol. >> we have to think very carefully and deliberately and thoughtfully about how the chapel is used in new and different ways. >> reporter: for 20 years now muslim students have been worshipping inside the chapel behind me. duke is known for its acceptance of religious diversity. and, brian, everyone we talked to here today hopes that at least won't change. brian. >> kate snow on the duke campus durham, north carolina. kate, thanks. a striking new report is out tonight about our planet, and it does not bode well for our future. while this may be difficult to reconcile in the dead of winter, the data are showing 2014 was the hottest year for the earth in recorded history. our own miguel almaguer is following the story for us tonight in los angeles. >> reporter: today, nasa and noaa made it official, 2014 was the warmest year in the earth's
recorded history, and it's only getting hotter. our planet has continued to heat up over the last 135 years. this is what scientists call a crisis. >> this is confirmation of global warming. any time you have a run of warm temperature, warm temperature, warm temperature 15 of the past 17 years being the warmest temperatures on record that shows you the planet is unequivocally warming. >> reporter: scientists say we're to blame. greenhouse gases, the burning of fossil fuels are driving the spike in temperatures. >> changing, altering our climate significantly which alters our life and alters the possibility of our future and our future generation. >> reporter: our oceans are getting warmer. typhoons and hurricanes are getting stronger. flooding is more persistent. while wildfires have never been this explosive much of the west is crippled by drought.
for many in porterville, california, the tap has gone dry. if the drought continues, and there's no end in sight, it could cost many the farm. in some communities water isn't just scarce, it's completely run out. there is no water to irrigate these fields. dairy farmers like eric borva can't afford to keep their herd. >> those triplets need water, our cows need water, our mother needs water, everybody needs water. >> reporter: from drought to flood our planet is changing. and the forecast calls for another hot year. today in los angeles where we're in an extreme drought and under the threat of fire danger, it was 77 degrees on this winter day. the scientists at nasa say we can slow the earth's warming if we cut pollution and have higher carbon emission standards. brian. >> miguel almaguer in los angeles tonight, miguel, thanks. still ahead for us on a friday evening, parents under investigation for letting their kids as young as 6 walk through the neighborhood all alone.
a family in suburban maryland is reigniting the debate over how much freedom children should have and at what age. some may view what these parents have done as neglectful, others think they're drawing a line on how much say the government can have about the way we raise our kids. our report tonight from nbc's
kristen welker. >> reporter: danielle says part of growing up is learning how to do things on their own, that's why they allow their son raffi and daughter devora to walk short distances around their suburban maryland neighborhood by themself. >> they need to learn that, you know, intangible thing we call street smarts. and the only place you can learn that is outside. >> reporter: it's a theory called free-range parenting, a rejection of the overprotective helicopter parent. >> i feel safe because i know my parents have confidence in us. >> reporter: but now this family is being investigated by child protective services because last month police found rafi and devora walking home from a park a mile away from their home. some of the roads they walk along get a lot of traffic. does that concern you? >> well, if my children didn't know how to cross streets and we hadn't spent time that would be a concern, but my kids know. >> reporter: cps didn't comment specifically on this case but points to maryland law, a child
under the age of 8 cannot be left alone in a building, enclosure or motor vehicle. they say they didn't break that law since their kids were walking outside. >> i don't know. i would probably be a little bit more concerned about safety. >> reporter: lenore is the founder of the free-range kids. >> our parents did it and nobody blinked an eye. and the crime rate was higher when we were growing up. >> reporter: according to the fbi's latest study, more than 58,000 kids were abducted by non-relatives in one year. >> what we're asking parents to do is to talk to their children and have them know about safety. >> reporter: the family will meet with child protective services next week with no plans to back down. kristen welker, nbc news, silver spring, maryland. back in a moment with something that's being outlawed tonight ahead of a major showdown this weekend.
case the unmanned barge landing went spectacularly wrong. that's the rocket business. meantime high above mars a mystery's been solved. the brits long ago sent a landing craft to the martian surface called beagle 2. after not hearing anything from it for over a decade, a nasa orbiter saw a reflection on the surface. sure enough a small dot on high resolution photos. it's believed to be beagle 2 in its final resting place. the late joe paterno now once again the winningest coach in college football history. the ncaa announced a settlement with penn state today that restores 112 wins, which had been vacated after the sex abuse scandal surrounding former penn state defensive coach jerry sandusky. another big nfl weekend upon us and by sunday night we will know who's going to the super bowl. colts play the pats, the packers visit the seahawks in seattle where the bainbridge island city hall near seattle has banned cheese possession and
consumption all day today by municipal order. as a slap at the packers. and a brilliant singer by any other name. we learned today idina menzel will sing the national anthem at the super bowl. even a casual viewer of this broadcast and network has heard us say nbc's jim maceda has our report. we won't get to say that anymore after tonight. after almost 35 years with this network jim maceda's hanging up his spurs and heading for an undisclosed farmhouse in portugal with his wife cindy. jim covered it all, from tel aviv to tiananmen, marcos to moscow. in northern ireland and an all-out war in a lot of places most recently afghanistan. he's been shot at without success while enjoying great success as a reporter. he's been a great friend to all and we wish our friend jim all the best and a long life ahead. up next here tonight, a big surprise from the pope brings joy to a lot of kids.
brought his motorcade a short distance from a children's shelter where the excited boys and girls were hoping just to catch a glimpse of him as he passed by. then something unexpected happened. the kids learned the pope was taking a detour and coming right for them. we get the report from nbc's anne thompson in manila. >> reporter: every time pope francis moves, manila is transfixed. but today the people he wanted to see are those the city's forgotten. street children abandoned, abused the youngest victims of what francis called our throwaway culture. thrilled by his unexpected visit. >> just approach him, embrace him. >> reporter: 6-year-old shara got a hug. she says the pope told her it makes him happy when she's happy. angel wore the rosary he gave her. and alvin addis, well, he says it's the first time he's met such a kind pope.
the visit lasted just 15 minutes, but the father who runs the shelter says it meant the world to these children. >> it means that they are not of age, they are the children of the world. >> reporter: he estimates there are 6,000 to 10,000 hard core street children in manila, children with no homes to go to and parents who can't or won't take care of them. volunteer alexandra says the pope didn't say much while he was there, but it wasn't about his words. what did his visit do for them? >> hope. it's hope. >> reporter: now because the pope did, perhaps the world will take a second look. anne thompson, nbc news, manila. that's our broadcast on a friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with you this weekend. we of course hope to see you right back here on monday night.
in the meantime, have a great weekend. good night. nbc bay area news begins with breaking news. >> breaking news in the east bay. a heavy police presence in a typically quiet neighborhood of fremont. late this afternoon a fremont police officer opened fire killing a man at a local park. the investigation still very active at this hour. good evening and thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. we begin with that breaking news. it started with reports of a man weaving a knife in a park and it ended with a deadly confrontation between police and that man. the map shows with the park. it's harvey park near the intersection of great salt lake
drive and lake arrowhead avenue. michelle roberts is there right now to give us more details on what happened. >> reporter: well police are still trying to figure out exactly what happened. they say right now, they're talking to the officers that were involved in this shooting, and also witnesses in the area who may have seen something. that all started at about 2:15 this afternoon. police say they got a call. somebody was threatening two kids with a large knife. when police arrived one officer tased the suspect and another shot and killed the man. this all happened just feet from the jungle gym in harvey park. the suspect's name has not been released, and police are not saying what led up to this incident. alameda county d.a. investigators along with fremont police are investigating. >> are the officers involved as with any officer-involved shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave following their interview. >> pretty shocking pretty scary being so close to home.