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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 15, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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70s for tuesday's forecast but rain is set to return on wednesday and instead of upper 70s, how does low to mid-60s sound? >> more normal. tonight, supreme war. the death of justice scalia prompting a high-stakes showdown. the president vows to nominate a successor. republicans refuse to even consider it. major issues left hanging in the balance. facing trump's fury. the front-runner again threatening to sue ted cruz and taking aim at george w. bush over 9/11. trump's risky attack as the former president hits the trail. hospital bombing. a new horror in syria. medical facilities and schools are hit. children are killed. a massive storm from louisiana to maine. snow and ice in the north. a tornado outbreak hits the south. and heartburn alert. new concerns about prescription meds millions take to treat it linked to kidney disease, now linked to an increased risk of
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dementia. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. in an election year already fraught with improbable plot twists and drama, now this. the ideological balance of the u.s. supreme court suddenly in limbo. tonight there's late word on who president obama might be considering to replace the late justice scalia as lines are drawn for an epic battle between democrats and senate republicans, who are determined to leave the choice up to the next president. tonight, the current president is suggesting republicans are full of bluster, but they, not democrats, hold the power to control the process. our justice correspondent pete williams begins our coverage. >> reporter: the body of antonin scalia arrived overnight, the casket draped in an american flag, flown from texas where he died in his sleep at a private guest ranch. >> the judge, when i
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found him saturday morning, was in complete repose. >> reporter: on the court, scalia was one of the most influential conservatives in more than a generation. in dissent, his criticism could be stinging, even for ruth bader ginsburg, his ideological opposite but close friend and traveling companion. >> how is it that you're able to zing somebody, especially your dear friend, ruth bader ginsburg and the next day still be pals and go to the opera? >> because the next day she'll be zinging me. it's equal opportunity zingers. >> reporter: among possible nominees, sri srinivasan and jane kelly of iowa, confirmed as federal judges unanimously. also washington appeals court judges merrick garland, considered a moderate, and patricia ma let. for now, the supreme court is evenly split between conservatives and liberals without antonin scalia. so some of the big cases could end in 4-4
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ties. on immigration, a tie would block president obama from enforcing his plan to allow up to 5 million people here illegally to stay. and on abortion, a tie would allow tough new restrictions on access to abortion clinics in texas to remain in force. or in case of a tie, the court could choose to withhold its decision and order the case to be reargued when there's a ninth justice. >> the justices have the ability to take a case in which there's a tie and just put it on a shelf and come back to it a year later. conceivably even two years later. >> reporter: in modern ti times, the longest stretch the supreme court has gone without all nine justices is just over a year, and that was nearly 50 years ago. the justices are now in their mid-winter break. they'll be back on the bench a week from today. >> as we said, no matter who it is the president picks, the republican leader in the senate and many of the leading gop candidates say no one should get a vote, and the seat should remain empty until the next president nominates a successor. that could leave this
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battle raging for well over a year as nbc's andrea mitchell reports. >> reporter: the battle over the supreme court instantly redefining the presidential race. republicans on the trail today. >> i intend to make 2016 a referendum on the u.s. supreme court. >> we're not moving forward on a nominee until after the election. >> the republicans should not allow it to happen. >> reporter: the political wars exploded within hours of antonin scalia's death. playing to the republican base, senate leader mitch mcconnell vowing to block any obama nominee, saying the next president should fill the vacancy. president obama quickly pushing back. >> i plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. >> reporter: democrats today arguing there is plenty of time to confirm a nominee. >> i think we ought to talk about this, the constitution of the united states. >> reporter: and no excuse to leave the court gridlocked, potentially for another year. >> it would be the
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height of irresponsibility for the republican leadership not to have a vote on a nominee from the president. >> reporter: so who will the president choose? the smart political bet, a moderate federal judge supported in the past by republicans. much harder for them to reject. so far, most republicans up for re-election in swing states seem to be following their leader. but depending on whom the president picks, could it backfire? even helping democrats retake the senate. still in the presidential race, it's a rallying cry for republicans, especially ted cruz, a former supreme court clerk. >> we're not going to give up the u.s. supreme court for a generation by allowing barack obama to make one more liberal appointee. >> reporter: and senator leahy told nbc that president obama already has his list. in fact, the president is likely to consult republicans as well as democrats to see if any potential nominee has a chance of getting a vote despite the pressure from republican leaders to block any action. lester. >> andrea mitchell,
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thank you. as the fight over the court plays out on the campaign trail, there are also new fights exploding within the republican party as donald trump launches multiple attacks, threatening to once again sue ted cruz and taking on george w. bush over 9/11 right as the former president hits the campaign trail in support of his brother. we get the latest from nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: he's back. former president george w. bush on the campaign trail. this time for jeb in south carolina. >> thank you for your hard work for jeb. thank you for what you're going to do, which is to vote for him on saturday here in the great state of south carolina. >> reporter: 43 aiming to make his younger brother, 45, rise to the white house, appearing together for the first time since jeb announced. >> strength is not empty rhetoric. >> reporter: the former president dismissing donald trump without ever naming him. >> we do not need someone in the oval office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration. >> reporter: but on
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this president's day, donald trump is trying to crash the party, attacking w. today over 9/11. >> the world trade center came down during his reign. it's like he was the top. >> reporter: and for invading iraq. >> you had him on the aircraft carrier saying all sorts of wonderful things, howl the war was essentially over. guess what, not over. >> reporter: punctuating the fiery feud at saturday's debate. >> george bush made a mistake. we can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty. we should have never been in iraq. >> i am sick and tired of him going after my family. >> reporter: will trump's attacks against the bushes backfire? george h.w. bush and george w. bush both carried south carolina in their presidential primaries. jeb is betting his brother, the former commander-in-chief, can still bring in voters. here the military community is a key constituent, generating more than 150,000 jobs and nearly $20 billion for the state's economy. today, trump is again threatening to sue ted cruz, calling him unstable and the biggest liar he's ever come across.
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>> he doesn't even have the right to serve as president or even run as president. he was born in canada. so i will bring that lawsuit if he doesn't apologize. >> reporter: cruz brushing off the threat, saying trump has lost it. >> this is the most rattled i've ever seen donald, this press conference today, where he kind of stood and vented. i guess the only explanation one can have is that his poll numbers in south carolina must be plummeting. >> reporter: tonight's crowd by far the biggest that jeb bush has seen all campaign season. earlier today his brother reflecting on his past presidential primaries, says he prefers to focus on the wins than the losses, i'm a glass half full man, he said. in five days, the bush family will find out if there's still reason for optimism. >> peter, thank you. an unexpected battleground has opened in the democratic race between bernie sanders and hillary clinton. with just five days to go until the nevada caucuses, clinton is hitting the trail hard there. for months, many believed she would win the state. as kristen welker
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reports, that's now a big question mark. >> reporter: after losing new hampshire, secretary clinton is trying to come back with a win in nevada. >> i hope you will come out and caucus on saturday. >> reporter: today she again tried to paint senator sanders as a candidate solely focused on wall street. sanders has dismissed that criticism and today before a raucous crowd of 9,000 in michigan, said he'd met with the families impacted by the flint water crisis. >> i've just come from a meeting which was one of the more difficult meetings that i have ever attended. >> reporter: the clinton campaign answering, releasing a video touting an endorsement from a group of flint ministers, praising her for highlighting the problem. >> they need to fix flint. >> reporter: it's an issue that resonates with african-americans, including in states like nevada, where in 2012, roughly 15% of voters were black and another 15%, hispanic. nbc news political
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analyst john ralston says it's hard to get accurate polling, but he believes clinton has a slim lead. >> the clinton campaign has to be worried about the whole millennial effect, all these young voters deciding to register on saturday to go support bernie sanders. >> reporter: nevada was supposed to be a part of clinton's western firewall, but now it's in play. voters in reno underscoring the divide. >> we've got a big uprising for sanders here. >> who do you plan to vote for this weekend? >> hillary clinton. >> why? >> i just want to see a woman handle the office. >> reporter: further highlighting the importance of nevada, secretary clinton was initially planning to campaign in florida. instead, she sent her husband there so she could focus on courting voters here. meanwhile, late tonight, her campaign officials announced they're opening an office in flint, michigan. lester. >> thank you. tonight, a massive storm is moving across a huge part of the country. it's being felt from the gulf coast all the way up to maine. snow and ice in the north and tornadoes ripping off roofs in the south. a huge mess all from
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the same weather system. nbc's kristen dahlgren has details. >> reporter: president's day brought a fresh coat of snow to the nation's capital, as a clos sal storm system spread misery today. this twister was spotted in alabama. in louisiana this afternoon, another tornado touched down, damaging a pizza hut and injuring two. >> my car was shaking. i seen it like coming at me. it's scary. >> reporter: in mississippi, a high school nearly crushed when a twister toppled this tree. and mother nature wreaking havoc in kentucky where even snowplows couldn't stay on roads. major highways did finally open after two massive pileups this weekend. >> in 32 years, this is probably one of the worst crashes i've ever seen. >> reporter: the east still hasn't thawed out after record low temperatures. on sunday, boston hit minus 9. watertown, new york,
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saw 37 below. and new york city was the coldest it's been in 100 years. >> i've never known cold like that, ever. >> reporter: a warm-up is expected. >> by tomorrow, we are looking at temperatures that are anywhere from five to almost 20 degrees above average. lots of rain, airport delays. we go from frost to flooding. >> reporter: an upcoming thaw that may bring everything but relief. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. we turn overseas now where dozens of civilians, including children, have been killed in reported air strikes in syria. multiple hospitals and a school were hit. nbc's keir simmons has gotten rare access inside syria, and as he reports this all comes the same week that a tentative cease fire is supposed to take effect. >> reporter: a desperate search for survivors. at least three hospitals and a school hit. wards wrecked. an estimated 50 dead,
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the u.n. says. babies had to be rescued. this video from opposition activists of a newborn in the arms of a firefighter. we don't know the baby's name or who the mother is. >> i have seen many children, and i have seen many, many women that were injured, and they were dead. >> reporter: the hospitals were a deliberate target dorkts without borders claim, accusing russia or syria. >> to be today a doctor or a nurse in the area controlled by the opposition is equal to being a criminal. >> reporter: 700 health care workers have been injured or killed in the syrian conflict. 112 medical facilities were hit in 2015. the syrian ambassador to russia claims u.s. strikes destroys one hospital today. an accusation the u.s. led coalition denies. just days ago, a partial cease fire was announced by john kerry and u.s. allies meeting in germany. >> this has been a period of intensified
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bombing, particularly in the north of syria. we have condemned that in the strongest terms. >> reporter: today, syrian president bashar al assad said he believes the cease fire will be difficult to implement. just days from the deadline for a cessation in hostilities announced by secretary kerry last week, and there is little sign the fighting will end. keir simmons, nbc news, damascus. thousands flocked to see pope francis today at a stadium in mexico's poorest state. he met with families at the event which followed an enormous open air mass he presided over earlier. and a moving moment from his visit yesterday, to a children's hospital when a teenage patient sang "ave maria" for him, earning a kiss from the pope and bringing those around him to tears. still ahead here tonight, another new warning about common heartburn medications. why the millions of americans who take them could be at risk of memory loss. also the dangerous midair incident that shook up one of the
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pilots aboard an international flight.
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we're back now with those new concerns about the prescription meds that so many people take to treat heartburn and acid reflux. 15 million americans take them to block stomach acid, and as we reported last week, researchers suggest the medications may be linked to kidney disease and bone fractures. now another concern being raised that there may also be a link to dementia. nbc's tom costello has the information you
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should hear. >> reporter: 34-year-old tara had acid reflux so bad, it made her job as a speech therapist nearly impossible. >> i actually got vocal fold ulcers and vocal fold nodules from it. >> reporter: she found immediate relief in a very common medication to block the stomach acid, a so-called proton pump inhibitor. among the most common brand names, nexium, prilosec, and prevacid. but recent studies have linked the drugs to an increased risk of kidney damage and bone loss. and now a large new study finds patients 75 and older who took the medication regularly had a significantly increased risk of dementia, 44%. women taking the medication for at least 18 months were most at risk. >> me being 34 years old, even if dementia wouldn't hit me for another 40 or 50 years, it definitely concerns me that that could be part of my future. >> reporter: the side effects may occur, say doctors, because we
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actually need stomach acid to digest food, to ward off infection, and to absorb essential nutrients. today, two of the drug makers told nbc news these medicines are generally safe and effective when used in ak0rdance with the label. but many doctors are concerned that too many patients stay on the drugs too long. >> if you have heartburn that is mild and it's possible to come off these drugs, then it's probably best to do so at this point. >> reporter: before today's study, tara decided to stop taking all asity reflux medications. instead, she's changed her diet. the result, no more acid reflux and no side effects from the meds. tom costello, nbc news, washington. when we come back, you won't believe who's already won a grammy tonight. but here's a hint. it's not for his singing.
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a laser aimed into the cockpit of a flight from london to new york forced the flight to turn around.
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one of the pilots aboard the virgin atlantic flight was reportedly struck in the eye and felt sick afterwards. the plane with 252 passengers and 15 crew landed safely back at heathrow. investigators are working to find the source of the laser. such incidents are troubling certainly, but as it turns out shlths 2015 was one of the safest years on records for airlines. four commercial planes did crash last year. that's one in every 3.1 million flights. but the five years previous averaged over 17 fatal crashes. not factored in for 2015, the german wings or metrojet crashes because the international air transport association says they were deliberate. move over, taylor swift. an early grammy winner today is stealing the spotlight on this president's day. jimmy carter snagged his second grammy in the spoken word album category for the recording of his book, "a full life: reflections at ninety." the 91-year-old former president beat out other nominees that include amy poehler, patti smith, and dick
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cavett. when we come back, when life gives them snow, these brothers make snow art. the heartwarming story when we come back. next at 6: a brutal beating in
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it may lead tohanges forpeople g rentintheir homes o"air b and b." revolt. o=== and renter's fight to city hall. take their ===next close=== the news is next. ==take sot== you hear things on airbnb anyou hr 99 perct of the te they are ay but def ma finally tonight,
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we're talking a moment ago about another winter blast hitting millions of americans. but the brothers we're about to meet don't see the snow as a nuisance. they see it as an inspiration to make something amazing for a good cause. as our kevin tibbles explains, their creations, like each snowflake, are one of a kind. >> reporter: from the depths of the frigid vortex that is a minnesota winter, comes the giant snow octop octopus. and it's taken over the barts' families front yard. >> a lot of kids driving by and they'll be in the back seat, like, mom, stop. >> reporter: for five years, the barts brothers have been turning the fluffy white stuff many of us dread into wintry works of art. always with a watery theme because they love to fish. >> when we're not ice fishing, we're out here working on a sculpture. >> don't you ever get cold? >> never. >> reporter: these hardy boys have creatated everything from a puffer fish and
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walrus to a sea turtle and a shark, although this year's octopus is the most ambitious yet. 500 hours to complete. 150 tons of snow. and a tent acle that winds over mom's and dad's front steps. >> it's really, really, really, really cool. >> reporter: folks come from miles around for a skpeek a pic. this is a group of exchange students all the way from china. >> it's wonderful. >> how many legs does an octopus have. >> one, two, three, four, five. >> six, seven, eight. >> six, seven, eight. >> reporter: many visitors leave donations and so far they've raised almost $8,000 to help provide clean drinking water in haiti. >> you don't make life memories playing video games. >> reporter: that's something parents everywhere could wrap their arms around. >> three, two, one. >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, new brighten, minnesota. that's going to do it for us on a monday
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night. i'm lester holt o for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. 99% of the time things are okay. definitely makes you wonder. >> right now at 6:00 a brutal beating at an east bay party thrown by people who rented the home. good evening and thanks for being with us on this monday. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica. a man is severely beaten at a forty. tonight the mayor is taking a
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hard look at the rentals. we are joined live with more, elyce. >> reporter: this party started right here behind me in the district. you can see the front entrance here and it is spilled out into the street and when police arrived, she found a man unconscious, sever veerly beaten and the city is looking at an ordinance to see how they should deal with the rental property. the five bedroom four bath 4,000 square feet home was listed on air b and b for $875 a night. you can enjoy the property used for hosting and filming music stars. joe gordon a neighbor had no idea it has been rented out. when he heard and saw party goers at the home. he assumed his neighbor was having friends over. >> horrible that something

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