Nightly News Netcast | January 18, 2014
>>> on this saturday night, new allegations. a new jersey mayor charges governor chris christie 's administration tried to strong arm her as the governor makes a high profile visit to florida .
>>> deadly attack. american civilians are among those killed in what's being called the deadliest assault on foreigners since the afghan war began.
>>> buyer beware . a warning that at least six retailers are at risk for data breaches similar to target and nieman marcus .
>>> doctors on buses. the massive effort rolling through communities delivering critical health care to some of our nations neediest children.
>>> and she's got game. the 9-year-old fourth grader who is a high school varsity basketball star.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york , this is " nbc nightly news" with lester holt .
>>> good evening. the mayor of a small new jersey suburb is making big news tonight with new charges of political strong arming against the embattled office of governor chris christie . just a day after a flurry of subpoenas went out seeking to determine whether christie 's office orchestrated that now infamous bridge traffic jam in an act of political retribution against one mayor, the mayor of nearby hoboken said she, too, was threatened with pay back by the christie administration with sandy storm-related funds held hostage. she is a democrat, governor christie is a republican who's widely believed to be eyeing a run for president. tonight charges of political motivation are flying both ways. nbc national investigative correspondent michael isakoff has new details tonight.
>> reporter: a new charge of political retribution from a gov leading mayor in his state.
>> i remember telling my inner circle , i can't believe this. i just received a direct threat from the governor of the state of new jersey.
>> reporter: dawn zimmer , democratic mayor of hoboken , a city of 50,000 across from new york , says last may christie 's lieutenant governor, kim gudano, made the threat in a parking lot telling her it was very important to the governor that she back a billion dollar development project or we are not going to be able to help you with funds to rebuild from hurricane sandy.
>> she said i know these things are not right, these things should not be connected but they are and if you tell anybody, i'll deny it.
>> reporter: zimmer says she couldn't believe it.
>> i'm stunned that he would use the sandy funds and hold those sandy funds over my head when you consider what happened to hoboken , we were devastated.
>> reporter: zimmer says another message came a few days later from richard constable, christie 's community affairs commissioner.
>> if you move ahead with that project, money will flow.
>> reporter: e-mails show the project is represented by the law firm of david sampson , one of christie 's top political advisors who chairs the port authority and who this week was subpoenaed by a legislative panel investigating the george washington traffic jams .
>> the connection that we can make is that the project is represented by wolf and sampson and dave sampson is very close to chris christie but there's no evidence to suggest that sampson and christie are conspiring on this.
>> reporter: zimmer said she wrote a reaction at the time in her personal diary. i thought he was moral, it reads. this week i found out he's cut from the same corrupt cloth that i was fighting for the last four years. it literally brings tears to my eyes. zimmer who refused to back the project said hoboken received only $342,000 of the $100 million of the sandy funding it requested but zimmer did not speak out at the time.
>> i probably should have come forward.
>> reporter: today christie aids shot back calling the charges outlandishly false and noting zimmer praised the governor last august writing in this tweet, to be clear, i am very glad governor christie has been our gov. it's very clear partisan politics are at play here as democratic mayors with a political axe to grind are out. christie is now facing three investigations into charges that his office engaged in political pay back against another democratic mayor by creating those massive traffic jams . legislative leaders who served 20 subpoenas yesterday said they may expand their probe to look at zimmer 's allegations. in his response today christie 's spokesman said governor christie and his entire administration have been helping hoboken to get the help they need. the city is already approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid and it's targeted to get even more when the obama administration approves the next round of funding. and a spokesman for david sampson 's law firm said in a statement its conduct in representing that development project was appropriate in all respects. lester ?
>> michael, thanks. governor christie is making a high profile visit to florida this weekend in his new role as head of the republican governor's association. let's bring in nbc 's kelly o'donnell now traveling with the governor. kelly .
>> reporter: good evening, lester . there's a string of fundraisers. they were set before the bridge scandal erupted. he's keeping that schedule in that new national role. we spotted governor christie arriving here in this gated community , home of a florida lobbiest. i'm told by sources that some gop donors did not want christie to come to florida now. other insiders said he was very well received today at a country club in orlando. he is here to give money to republican governor rick scott from the rga $2.5 million. however, scott and christie are not being seen in public together. lester ?
>> thank you very much, kelly .
>>> now to that devastating attack in afghanistan. the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the afghan war began. officials say three americans are among 21 people killed when a suicide bomber and gunman struck at a restaurant just as people were sitting down to dinner. the white house is condemning the attack which happened in the heart of kabul. our report tonight from nbc 's annabel roberts.
>> reporter: a deadly bold attack by the taliban in a part of the city people hoped they were safe, protected by afghan police . 21 people died including three u.s. citizens .
>> this was a very good restaurant where many foreign nationals go to this restaurant. it was very unfortunate and very -- very, very extreme act of violence against humanity.
>> reporter: one of the americans killed worked for the u.n.
>> this is totally unacceptable and this is a violation of international humanitarian law .
>> reporter: the two other u.s. citizens worked here at the co-ed american university of afghanistan . they have not been named but their families have been notified. today the white house condemned the attack saying there is no possible justification for this attack which has killed innocent civilians working every day to help the afghan people achieve a better future. and afghan president karzai spoke out late today calling it a brutal attack. a number of foreign embassies are based in this district and it's considered reasonably safe. the attack demonstrates the taliban 's reach just as the u.s. and other countries prepare to withdraw troops later this year.
>> there have been attacks of this kind for years. they all send a message that we can find you. we know where you are. don't ever feel like you're safe because you're not. i don't think it scores a huge victory but it's a visible one.
>> reporter: the afghan government insists the taliban is diminished. this attack suggests otherwise. annabel roberts, nbc news, london.
>>> in california a state of emergency is now in effect because of the extreme drought there, and those drought conditions are fueling a destructive wild fire that's been burning for days northeast of los angeles . we've got the latest from nbc 's joe fryer.
>> reporter: the fiery images coming out of california this week seem to defy the calendar. this winter wildfire east of los angeles is a symptom of the draw drought that covers parts of 11 states including a majority of california seeing the least amount of rainfall in more than a century.
>> it shouldn't be this dry.
>> reporter: for farmer joe delbosce, concern is growing that many of his crops won't be growing.
>> we're looking over here at our proposed cantelope field.
>> reporter: in a normal year he would start planting in late march, early april. this year he's in limbo.
>> makes no sense to plant it if you don't have water.
>> reporter: the impact of that decision would be great during the 2009 dry spell. his payroll shriveled by 35%. just now getting back on his feet, here comes another drought.
>> it will hurt us economically. if we have another drought the next year, it will be the end of my farm, it could be.
>> reporter: california governor jerry brown has declared a drought emergency and he's asking residents to cut back on their water use by 20%.
>> this is somewhat of a zero sum game . the more water we use, the less water we have.
>> reporter: some cities have already placed restrictions on water use, others are considering it. all of this happening during a time when california typically catches up on rain.
>> the drought is bad here in california and throughout the west and we are not seeing any significant changes coming this way for several months.
>> the message on his license plate is a reminder that the impact stretches beyond california .
>> if the ground is idol there won't be those fruits and vegetables in the produce section.
>> reporter: tonight the hills are still smoldering with hot spots east of los angeles . firefighters say they are gaining control and hope to have this fire fully contained as early as tomorrow. the governor's drought declaration means more seasonal firefighters will be haired to help with this extended wild fire season. lester .
>> joe fryer in southern california . thank you, joe .
>>> a 17-year-old suspect surrendered today in connection with yesterday's shooting at a high school gym in philadelphia. meantime, another suspect was cleared and released. authorities say two students were wounded, both shot in the arm by the same bullet when someone fired a handgun in the gym. still unclear whether the shooting was accidental or intentional.
>>> there is now a warning that cyber attacks like the ones that used to steal personal data from 100 million target and nieman marcus customers are ongoing. a big cyber security firm says at least six other security firms are currently under attack. we'll get the latest on what is known from nbc 's stephanie gosk.
>> reporter: the virus to steal data from 110 million target shoppers is infecting other shoppers. nieman marcus says it went undetected for nearly 6 months. now a cyber security company intel crawler says at least six other retailers are under attack by hackers.
>> it's highly probable that more merchants have to come forward and let their consumers know that there's been a problem.
>> they don't name the other businesses but it does identify an alleged mastermind behind the virus, a 17-year-old from st. petersburg, russia. a separate report by another security firm confirms target's system was attacked using a virus. the agency eyesight which is working with the secret service does not reveal how infiltrators attacked target's network but describes how the virus works secretly siphoning off personal data at point of sale. as soon as customers use swipe machines, card numbers, pins, phone numbers , e-mails were ripped off. some shoppers are only now finding out that their information has been compromised. this is an e-mail from the usaa savings bank to one of their customers letting her know that to avoid unauthorized transactions they're sending her a new card. target's vice advice for customers? customers?
>> if you're concerned, change your pin. if you want a new card, we'll get you a new card.
>> hackers are sending a new message, for today, stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york .
>> president obama sought to assure one of america's closest allies that the u.s. is not interested in spying on its friends. the president spoke to german tv after his speech where he banned the type of nsa eavesdropping that once targeted german chancellor angela merkel 's phone.
>> reporter: in an attempt to reassure key u.s. allies, president obama spoke exclusively to german tv network bbs after outlining plans to curb mass collection of phone records.
>> a lot of suspicion had been built up in germany and around the world in the wake of the snowden disclosures. it's going to take time to win back trust.
>> reporter: on friday mr. obama announced the government will no longer hold on to telephone records and he tapped the attorney general's office to find a different way to get the information. the u.s. will no longer spy on its allies.
>> we do not listen to people's phone calls or read their e-mails if there are no national security threats involved.
>> reporter: the interview, a clear attempt to repair her his relationship with angela merkel . damage i by edward snowden's leaks.
>> what i can say is as long as i'm president of the united states , the chancellor of germany will not have to worry about this.
>> reporter: in washington, mixed reaction. house speaker john boehner accusing the president of failing to adequately explain the necessity of these programs. in an interview that will air on "meet the press" tomorrow dianne feinstein and mike rogers were both largely supportive.
>> i think that what the president has said is that he wanted to maintain the capability of the program.
>> some of the suggestions on how to move forward, i have some concerns with, but i thought it was really an important role for the president to play.
>> reporter: privacy advocates say that the nsa needs to be reined in more. they also argue that the president left some of the hardest questions unanswered, like who will store the data. some changes require congressional approval which means the process could be extensive. lester ?
>> kristen welker, thanks. we saw a reminder that david gregory will have much more tomorrow on the fallout to the president's questions on "meet the press."
>>> when " nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, the big blue buses and the much needed help that's being delivered to children nationwide.
>>> later, the 9-year-old basketball phenom already dreaming big.
>>> you now see them in 16 different states and the district of columbia . big blue buses that deliver health care to children who need it most. it all started with the flagship program here in new york . our dr. nancy snyderman has more on the need that's driving the program and the doctors behind it.
>> reporter: the legrand family is going to the doctor, but they don't have far to walk, just to the big blue bus . two-year-old yarianna and baby sister scarlet get free checkups. that brings dr. alan shapiro to new york 's homeless and uninsured kids. he first rolled into this neighborhood 25 years ago. one of the country's poorest.
>> it's hard for people to remember what the south bronx looked like. but to say a war zone is not an exaggeration.
>> not at all. there were empty lots.
>> while the bronx has improved over the years, it still remains a tough place to grow up. one out of two kids lives below the poverty line.
>> i would have never thought in my wildest dreams i would end up being homeless and ending up in a shelter with my kids.
>> reporter: as many as 22,000 kids sleep in shelters on any given night.
>> watch yourself.
>> reporter: the big blue bus sponsored by the children's health fund is there to service their basic health needs.
>> i would assume the parents feel a phenomenal burden and responsibility to get their kids health care .
>> they're very focused on trying to make things happen for their children under circumstances that would challenge most average americans .
>> we were in hurricane andrew and katrina.
>> so you really take this places.
>> we have taken our mobile unit to disasters around the country.
>> reporter: there are now 50 big blue buses answering calls for help.
>> you take one spray --
>> reporter: shapiro has treated thousands of kids and he's proud of one of his patients, juan roblus. he moved to the south bronx 20 years ago. juan carries this photo on his cell phone .
>> there are lots of tears that day.
>> reporter: the day juan graduated medical school .
>> would you be here if it weren't for him?
>> not at all.
>> we connected from the first minute.
>> from that moment we became friends.
>> reporter: juan is back on the big blue bus as a pediatric resident helping kids in need.
>> we give treatment. we give out prescriptions, but i think we give out kindness. i think we give out hope.
>> reporter: a proven prescription block by block. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york .
>>> coming up, the pint size but giant panda cub debut you're not going to want to miss.
>>> the metrodome in minneapolis is now a shelf its former self. kind of a letdown. today crews deflated the roof by turning off fans providing the air that supports the roof. the deflation pays the way for the building of a new billion dollar home for the minnesota vikings at that same site.
>>> it's a big night for "saturday night live." she makes her debut tonight. she's the first african- american woman in the snl ensemble for six years. she's not for her spot on portrayals of beyonce, nikki a minaj and michelle obama .
>>> today at the national stoo in washington bao bao greeted the crowd for the first time with a huge yawn. but thrilling the crowd, nonetheless. some had driven hundreds of miles to see the panda cub who sleeps about 20 hours a day.
>>> still ahead, meet the 9-year-old basketball star already schooling the varsity team , really.
>>> finally tonight, she's just 9 years old, but you know what, college basketball recruiters may want to keep their eye on her. nbc 's gabe gutierrez introduces us to the florida fourth grader who's already a star on the high school varsity team .
>> reporter: at a high school gym in orlando, one player is not like the others. jayden newman is only 9, yes, 9, and she's playing on her private school 's varsity team .
>> i feel like i'm better.
>> reporter: at 4'5" this point guard is tiny but tough.
>> they thought i wasn't good but when they saw me play they were like, wow.
>> reporter: wow is a common reaction when you watch jayden 's highlight reel. amazingly she's been dribbling sings she was 3, sometimes along kobe bryant and the harlem globetrotters .
>> my name is jayden newman and i'm 6 years old.
>> at first i was nervous that she was so small but with her speed and her going by, she's just so talented, i just let her fly.
>> reporter: and she has soared. at 8 she once scored 63 points in one game against 12-year-olds. this season she's averaging 15 points, 7 assists and 3 steals a game.
>> you look at this little 9-year-old, what did she just say? she knows the game better than most men.
>> reporter: her dad is also her coach. her mom plays too. you could say basketball runs in the family.
>> it's in the bloodline.
>> reporter: but that would be a huge understatement. last year jayden 's brother, j umar farouk lian, drew national attention for his moves on the court. he's not shy about who's better, him or his little sister .
>> i think me.
>> reporter: sibling rivalry aside, it's a family with high hopes for hoops.
>> i'd like to go to college and then after that i want to go to the wnba and play for the l.a. sparks .
>> reporter: proving sometimes the best things really do come in small packages. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta.
>>> that's " nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york . i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and right back here tomorrow evening. good night.