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Back in New York

by Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor

When we say that air travel into and out of New Orleans is at "73% of its pre-Katrina capacity," here's what we mean: there is no way to fly from New Orleans to anywhere in the New York region after we get off the air at 6 p.m. local time -- so that means staying overnight, and that meant the available flights to New York this morning were full of journalists who'd been there to cover the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I arrived just as our editorial meeting had gotten underway and am catching up on what is a changing broadcast for tonight.

MSNBC just played the Sen. Larry Craig arrest tapes, and my friend Ken Walsh of U.S. News just said Senator Craig is in "very serious political trouble." We'll have some of that audio on the broadcast tonight. We'll also report on the Virginia Tech investigation, the tremendous heat wave out West (new Arizona record: 29 days of temperatures over 110), domestic politics, Iraq and a major anniversary worldwide.

40 years ago today
On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed by the Senate as the 96th Justice -- and the first African-American Justice -- of the United States Supreme Court. The vote was 69-11. Among those voting against confirmation: Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who remains a Senator to this day, and Sam Ervin of North Carolina, who became a national figure six years later as chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee.

Marshall, whose great-grandfather was a slave, had argued and won dozens of civil rights cases before the Supreme Court in the years prior to his nomination -- most notably Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. He served as a Supreme Court Justice for almost a quarter-century. When Justice Marshall retired in 1991, President George H.W. Bush chose to replace him with Clarence Thomas.

44 years ago today
On August 30, 1963, the famous "Hot Line" between Washington and Moscow became operational. The link was not the "red phone on the president's desk" of popular imagination, but rather a teletype machine located in the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon (with its counterpart located somewhere in the Kremlin). The hotline, intended to help prevent accidental nuclear war, was a direct result of the Cuban Missile Crisis the previous year -- a crisis made more acute by inadequate communications capability between Washington and Moscow. The link -- which signalled a small but significant warming trend in the Cold War -- was established without ceremony or fanfare. A Defense Department statement simply said, "The direct communication link between Washington and Moscow is now operational."

Please take a moment to read about the great Medal of Honor recipient Ola Mize.

We're back in our New York studios tonight, and we sure hope you can join us for NBC Nightly News.