tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC February 15, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
>> what a temperature difference. >> yes. >> i'm jack rosenfield. >> i'm jackie london. and we will see you back here tonight. tice 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 hit the south. and heartburn alert. new concerns about prescription meds millions take to treat it linked to kidney disease, now linked to an increase risk of
dementia. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this the "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 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 and his criticism could be stinging, even for ruth bader ginsburg, his ideological opposite and traveling xansions. she said sunday we're best buddies. how is it that you're able to zing somebody, your friend ruth bader ginsburg and the next day go to the opera? >> because the next day she will be zinging me. equal opportunity zingers. >> reporter: among possibilities to succeed him, esvein vasan and jane kelly and merrick garlanded a patricia millett. for now the supreme court is evenly split between conservatives and liberals without antonini scalia so some of the big cases
could end in 4-4 ties. on immigration a tie would block president obama from enforcing his plan to allow up to 5 million people here illegally to stay on on abortion a tie would restrict restrictions on abortion in texas to remain in force or in the case of a force 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 when there's a tie and put it on a shelf and come back it a year later, conceivably even two years late sneer in modern 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 and will be back on the bench a year ago today. leftner. >> 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 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: 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 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, 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 aim at 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. >> thanks to brother for giving us something to do today, something important. i'm proud of his candidacy, and i'm really proud to have been invited. >> reporter: but on 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 so it's like, you know, he was the top. >> reporter: and for invading iraq. >> you had him on the aircraft carrier saying all sorts of wonderful things. the war was essentially over, guess what, not over. >> reporter: punctuating the fiery debate. george bush made a mistake. we can make mistakes that. one was a bite. we never should have been in iraq. >> i'm 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 primacy. 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.
>> he doesn't even have the right to serve of 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, his press conference today where he stood and vented. i guess the only planks one can have is that his poll numbers in south carolina must be plummeting. >> reporter: and 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, a glass half full man. in five days the bush family will find out if the there's still reason for optimism. lester. >> peter, thank you. an unexpected battleground has opened up in the democratic race between hillary clinton and bernie sanders. with just five days to go until the nevada caucus eds clinton is hitting the trail hard there. for months many believed she would win the state, but now as our kristen welker reports, that's a big
question mark. >> reporter: after losing new hampshire, second clinton is trying to come back with a win in nevada. >> i hope you'll come out and caucus on saturday. >> reporter: today she again tried to paint senator sanders as a candidate solei focused on wall street. >> i am not a single-issue candidate because this is not a single-issue country. >> reporter: sanders has dismissed that criticism, and today before a raucous crowd of 9,000 in michigan said he'd met with the families impact 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: 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 analyst john rosten 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 millen yell effect, young voters deciding to register on saturday to support bernie sanders. >> reporter: nevada was supposed to be part of clinton's firewall and now that's in play, voters in reno understanding the divide. >> we've got a big uprising. >> reporter: what are you planning for this weekend? >> hillary clinton. >> reporter: why? >> i want to see a woman handle the office. >> reporter: secretary clinton was initially planning to campaign in florida. instead, she sent her husbanding there so she could focus on courting voters here. meanwhile late tonight her campaign officials announced they are opening an office in flint, michigan. lester. >> kristen, 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 the same weather system. nbc's kristen dahlgren has details. >> president's day brought a fresh coat of snow to the nation's capital as a colossal storm system spread misery from the south to the midwest and northeast today. this twister was spotted in alabama. in louisiana this afternoon another tornado touched down damaging a pizza hut and injuring two. >> the car was shaking. >> i seen it like coming at me. it was scarey. >> in mississippi a high school nearly crushed when a twister toppled this will tree, and mother nature wreaking havoc in kentucky where even snow applause couldn't stay on slick roads. major highways finally did reopen after two massive pileups in pennsylvania and indiana this weekend. >> it's been 30 years. probably one of the worst crashes that i've ever seen. >> the east still hasn't thawed out after record low temperatures. on sunday boston hit
minus 9. watertown, new york, saw 37 below and new york city was the coldest it's been in 100 years. >> i've never known cold like that, ever? >> a warmup is expected. >> by tomorrow we're looking at temperatures that are anywhere from 5 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 reli relief. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. >> we turn overseas now where dozens of civilians including children have been reported in 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 3 hospitals and a school hit. wards wrecked. an estimated 50 dead,
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. >> we have seen many children, and i have seen many, many women, they were injured and they were dead. >> reporter: hospitals were a deliberate target. doctors without borders claim, accusing russia or syria. >> to be today a doctor or a nurse in -- in the area controlled by the opposition, it's 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. seaterian ambassador to russia claim u.s. strikes destroyed one hospital today, an acquisition the u.s.-led coalition denied. just days ago a partial cease-fire was anoujsed by secretary of state john kerry and u.s. allies meeting in germany. >> this has been a period of intensified
bombing, particularly in the north of syria. we have condemned that in the strongest terms. >> reporter: today syrian president bashar al assad says 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. thousand flocked to see pope francis today at a stadium in mexico's poorest state. he met with families at the event which followed an enorm open-air mass that he presided over earlier. and a moving moment from his visit yesterday to a children's hospital when a teenage patient sang "ava 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 mid-air
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. we're back now with the new concerns about the prescription meds that so many people take to treat heartbeat and acid reflux. 15 million americans take them to block stomach acid and researchers suggested last week that the medications may be linked to kids kidney disease and bone fractures. now another concern being raised, that
there is a link to dementia. nbc's tom costello has the information you 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 relief in a medication to block stomach acid, a proton pump inhibitor, among the most common members nexium, prilosec and prevacid but the drugs have been recently been linked to an increased risk of kidney damage. 75% of those who took the medication regularly had a 75% risk of dementia, 4u7 4 boston and women taking the medication for at least 18 months were most at risk. >> i mean, being 34 years old, even if dementia wouldn't hit me for another 40 or 50 years, it definitely concerns me that that -- that that could be part of my future. >> reporter: the sigh effects may occur, say
doctors, because we actually need stomach acid to digest our food, ward off infection and to absorb essential nutrients. today two of the drug-makers told nbc news the medicines are generally safe and effective when used in accordance with the label and to avoid drug interactions, but many doctors are concerned too many patients stay on the drug too long. >> if you have heartburn that is mild and it's mob to come off the drugs it's probably fwoest do so at this point. >> reporter: before today's study tara decided to stop taking all acid reflex medication. instead, she's changed her diet. the result, no more acid reflux and no side effect from the meds. tom costello, nbc news, washington. when we come barks you won't believe who (ray) i'd like to see more of the old lady. i'd like to see her go back to her more you know social side.
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finally tonight, we were talking a moment ago about another winter blast hilgt millions of americans, but the brothers we're about to meet don't see the snow as a nuisancech 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 octopus, and it's taken over the bart's family front yard. >> a lot of kids driving by and the parents will drive by and they will be in the back seat and they are like mom, stop. >> reporter: for five years the 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 the sculpture. >> reporter: don't you ever get cold? >> never. >> reporter: these hardy boys have created everything from a puffer fish and
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 tentacle that winds over mom and dad's front steps. >> it's really, really, really, really, really, really, really cool. >> reporter: folks come from miles around for a peek and a pic. this is a group of exchange students all the way from china. >> it's wonderful. >> it's marvelous. >> reporter: how many legs does an octopus have? >> one, two, three, four, five. >> reporter: six, seven, eight. >> six, seven, eight. >> reporter: many visitors leave donations and so far they have raised $8,000 to help provide clean drinking water in hait. >> you don't make life memories playing video games. >> reporter: nobody. >> make them doing stuff like that,. >> reporter: that's something parents everywhere could wrap their arms around. >> three, two, one. >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, new brighton, minnesota. >> so much fun. that's going to do it for us on a monday
night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. good evening. quick update for you. because we have some freezing rain across the area, given some icy conditions on some roadways - have lightened up a lot, but areas like bucs and montgomery county, also near trenton, that
pink color, that's show youg where we could have freezing rain or drizzle. same thing upper montgomery county, but snow up through the lehigh valley. also towards northern delaware. chester county, light freezing drizzle there and in southi ies >> jerry: jersey, most of delaware kind of seeing that changeover now occurring, but we have this in store for the rest of this evening. we could see another wave of this moving in tonight, so snow changing to ice changing to rain for most of the area. temperatures will be rising through tonight, so we'll see a lot of areas changing to rain closer to midnight. temperatures are well above freezing more most of new jersey, but we're still below treezing, so that's going to get problems on the roadway. this is future weather, so it continues with some icy threat by 9:00 p.m., where you see the