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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 24, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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it's having across the globe. it all comes as the president lifts those tough travel restrictions on eight african nations put in place to help slow the pandemic's spread. plus, the holiday celebrations scaled way back parts of europe locked down another year without tourists in bethlehem. the queen even skipping her traditional christmas. also, deadly winter weather a massive and fiery pileup on an icy interstate 29 million in the path of torrential rain, flash floods and snow. but is it enough to make a dent in those areas devastated by drought? and weeks after historic tornadoes ripped through the midwest, how the love and kindness of neighbors means new hope in one hard-hit kentucky town. and reaching for the stars like never before the countdown to lift-off for a telescope set to travel a million miles. >> announcer: this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt good evening
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i'm kristen welker, in tonight for lester on this christmas eve americans are preparing to spend yet another holiday against the backdrop of covid-19. and tonight the nation's major airlines announcing that thousands of flights have been canceled around the world, in large part because the fast-spreading omicron variant has prevented some staffers from working, creating shortages. and there is late word that a u.s. navy ship is stuck in port after a portion of the crew tested positive for covid. it comes as the biden administration announced it is lifting travel restrictions initially imposed last month and while the number of cases rises, there are new signs omicron may be less severe than other variants. we are covering all of the latest developments tonight sam brock starts our coverage from miami. >> reporter: with omicron shattering infection records set during the peak of delta, at airports nationwide a christmas curveball. united airlines pre-emptively canceling more than 250 flights through the weekend after omicron sidelined flight crews
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delta canceling nearly 400 this weekend, blaming both covid call-outs and weather. >> that's why it's good to have plan b, c, d, e, f you know, if i'm not able to get into delta i'll go in jetblue >> reporter: days ago delta's ceo called on the cdc to cut quarantine time in half for vaccinated employees from 10 days to 5 it's a move supported by the airlines' trade group in an effort to stem even more flight disruptions. the cdc has shortened quarantine time for vaccinated health care workers who aren't symptomatic from 10 days to 7 as a staff shortage crisis deepens. a move national nurses united calls dangerous. >> it will only further exacerbate this shortage if we bring people back too soon where they can further expose people to the virus >> reporter: the problem, from travel to health care, is the variant is depleting healthy workforces >> this is not a theoretical risk anymore.
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you know, or a far out concept. this is a potential reality. >> reporter: florida today recording a record 32,800 cases as testing lines blanket this park, spilling into streets on the same site there's vaccinations offered in this parking lot, and as you can see, it's empty. five minutes in and out, which is part of the problem. the unwillingness of millions to get the shot, leading frontline workers to witness harrowing last regrets. >> when someone is dying in front of your face and you see in their eyes the guilt, you know, what if, what if i would have gotten the vaccine, that is what we see and that's what's hard to deal with >> and sam joins us. sam, we're also learning about an outbreak on a navy combat ship. what can you tell us about that >> reporter: kristen, that's right the outbreak is on the "uss milwaukee" which remains in port at guantanamo bay tonight after a regularly scheduled port visit the navy right now not specifying how many
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sailors were infected, just that all crew members were vaccinated they are working right now, kristen, to determine the variants >> sam brock starting us off from miami. sam, thank you to the white house now and that decision to lift the travel ban from those eight african countries. monica alba joins us monica, why did the cdc advise the president to lift those restrictions right now? >> reporter: well, kristen, president biden placed restrictions on those countries last month based on recommendations from his medical team to give the u.s. more time to figure out how omicron spreads. now that they understand the variant better, the cdc advised the president to end the travel pause since vaccines are considered the best protection and the strain is already so dominant around the globe. the temporary ban will be lifted december 31st, according to the white house. meanwhile, the president and first lady spent this christmas eve visiting patients at children's national hospital here in washington, stopping by a local tree featuring dr. biden, and calling in
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to a santa tracker to greet families and check on his progress this evening kristen? >> monica alba reporting from the white house. monica, thank you. across the globe now the christmas traditions so many hold dear are on hold once again from windsor castle to the vatican. molly hunter reports >> reporter: in cities across the world the christmas spirit is in high gear. from venice to berlin and to paris, where santa is bubbling away but in thailand a reminder that it's not all that jolly santa coming in on elephants handing out masks and hand sanitizer. in bethlehem, the self-proclaimed capital of christmas, this is the second year without tourists. but locals holding on to the essence of christmas. >> christmas is to think of others. christmas is to love each other >> reporter: and across europe tonight christmas is beginning to look a lot like 2020 omicron is surging in the uk the government estimates 1 in every 45 people were likely
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infected with the strain last week and a new poll estimates 1 in 6 brits have canceled christmas party plans because of the variant. including the queen, skipping her traditional sandringham christmas, instead opting for a quiet day at windsor as cases spike the prime minister encouraging everyone to get boosted >> getting jabbed not just for themselves, for ourselves, but for friends and family >> reporter: and in italy, where cases are also rising, the pope delivered his christmas eve mass to a crowd restricted to 2,000. a fifth of the pre-pandemic gathering. with a message urging the faithful to remember the neediest. molly hunter, nbc news, london well, back here at home 29 million people are in the grip of dangerous weather across the west. heavy snow, mudslides, and deadly flash floods are prompting urgent evacuations in some areas one governor even declaring a state of emergency lasting into the new year steve patterson has the very latest from
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los angeles. >> reporter: the weather outside is frightful, making travel treacherous out west as parts of the region reckon with a deluge of rain and snow in northern california heavy rain spun flash flooding south of san francisco. two died thursday when their car became submerged. >> it's absolutely terrible >> reporter: the nonstop rain sparked mandatory evacuations in parts of burn-scarred southern california a power line toppling, trapping dozens of residents in their homes. >> for folks that want to leave we're going to do our best to get them out >> reporter: mud devouring back yards >> we've got about three or four feet of mud up against the house. >> reporter: in washington and arizona heavy snow roads shut down for hours. thursday in wisconsin twisted metal after a semi trailer slid on ice and burst into flames, causing a massive multivehicle pileup authorities say somehow no one was killed this as the pacific northwest braces for a
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surge of wind, snow, and freezing temperatures the winter storm system could bring two to three feet of snow to the cascades and dump six inches in portland oregon governor kate brown declaring a state of emergency all the way through early january. a storm sparking concern for a dangerous holiday weekend on the road with a little joy sprinkled in >> stay home and enjoy the holiday. >> reporter: steve patterson, nbc news, los angeles. well, all that rain and snow is putting a dent in california's historic drought. it is a welcome relief for farmers. but is it all enough to save california's hard-hit wine industry guad venegas reports from napa valley >> reporter: this is america's premier wine-growing region. famous for its beautiful hillside vineyards and some of the most expensive farmland in the country. but like the rest of california this past
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growing season napa valley suffered through the state's driest rainfall year in more than a century. how serious is this drought compared to other years? >> this is as serious as i've seen it. >> reporter: at beckstoffer vineyards jim lincoln had to run operations with some reservoirs practically empty. dried out. >> it's completely dried out. >> reporter: with record-breaking heat and less water his vines put out less fruit. >> that's a nice cluster, but it should be three times as big. >> reporter: here in napa valley the wine industry is a $9 billion business from the vineyards to the wineries and into the bottle, supporting more than 40,000 jobs. and it all depends on water. to keep these vineyards alive lincoln is irrigating his vines with recycled wastewater from napa. >> this vineyard would essentially be dead without that recycled water. we're using the new tools that we have to adapt to climate change >> reporter: tim healy runs the napasan water
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treatment plant where he says vineyards are his fastest-growing customers. >> it's doubling or more than doubling each year the last three or four years. this year we're going to sell about 1.2 billion gallons of recycled water >> reporter: from water to flames the region is still recovering from a devastating wildfire season last year hundreds of millions worth of grapes ruined wine maker todd graf says the smoke from the fires ruined about 100,000 cases. >> the fires were unprecedented. i've never seen that in my career we've had droughts come and go. mother nature's going to throw us curveballs and we deal with them. >> reporter: these are growing challenges for a wine industry adapting to a new reality. fires, heat, and a drought. forcing growers to make sure no drop goes to waste guad venegas, nbc news well, we will be right back in just 60
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seconds with the $10 billion telescope about to launch and the amazing secrets it could reveal about the universe
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astronomers and people all around the world may get an early morning christmas gift with the launch of the most powerful telescope ever sent into space the massive new telescope is ready to launch nearly a million miles into space, and it could give us a look at the secrets of the universe like never before jake ward has the incredible story >> reporter: holiday memories are filled with lights. the light of the fire. lights on the trees. well, the universe's memories are also captured in light. and on christmas day humanity will launch the greatest scientific instrument ever built to go look at those memories. space is so huge, and the distances are so vast that when light travels through it it actually grows so old it decays and becomes infrared you and i can only see
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fresh light. but the james webb telescope can see this ancient light that began its journey in some cases at the very beginning of the universe we saw this $10 billion space telescope as it was being packed up for launch webb, vastly more powerful than its predecessor hubble, will circle the sun in a yearly orbit a million miles wider than ours. the people who built webb say it could create whole new fields of science. >> hubble basically discovered black holes and proved their existence. so that led to a whole science there. so it can really just keep propagating >> reporter: advance the human race >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: scientists will use the sheer power of webb to zoom in on planets we could not reach before now, look inside their alien atmospheres and search for life thousands of scientists are lined up for the data. it's a miraculous gift the chance to get out beyond our planet, see itime n
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perhaps how all of this came to be. jake ward, nbc news, planet earth >> we will all be watching truly out of this world. well, just ahead, bringing christmas to tornado-ravaged kentucky the acts of love and kindness helping this community heal and inspiring america.
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♪ i see trees of green ♪ ♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) ♪ so i think to myself ♪ ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪ the deadly and historic tornadoes that ripped through kentucky earlier this month put the holidays in doubt for so many
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families who lost everything but as joe fryer tells us in tonight's "inspiring america," there are new signs of hope for christmas >> reporter: this christmas, two weeks after a deadly tornado tore through mayfield, kentucky the community is focusing not on what was swept away but rather on the kindness that's pouring in >> this is how mayfield comes together and we all stick together and we will come back >> reporter: sarah farmer helped organize this massive toy giveaway with help from social media they collected thousands of toys, $400,000 worth, for the children of mayfield you could say santa left the north pole a little early to help make this special delivery >> i buy a bunch of toys, that may not seem like much but that's one less thing that a parent has to worry about paying for >> this is where my stepdad and my mother and my daughter were >> reporter: parents like timothy andreessen, who lost his home and job >> it's hard on me right now. >> reporter: a father of two, his wish list right now is simple.
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>> just my kids to be happy. that's all i want. >> reporter: for his daughter lily these donated toys do help >> it's really nice. >> it showed me that somebody cares i mean, even though i can't do it right now somebody's out there to help them >> reporter: no doubt much of mayfield is grateful for these santa-size sacks of toys, but also something else >> i was blessed to be able to hug these two that night so >> reporter: the gift of family. >> that's perfect. >> reporter: of community. pulling together during the toughest of times. >> it's just a small high school football town that always comes together on friday, but now it's like every single day is friday night here. >> yes >> everybody being good >> reporter: that includes this friday night, christmas eve and beyond joe fryer, nbc news. >> that is the true spirit of this holiday. well, when we come back, a special holiday message of hope and gratitude from lester holt
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hi, everybody, and happy holidays i'm off resting and recharging with my family this week, and i'm grateful to my colleagues who are sitting in for me. a year ago i think many of us were understandably wary of being with family and friends over the holidays happily, vaccines and now boosters are giving many that opportunity, of course with lots of caveats my hope this holiday is that we'll get through this because we have gotten through
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this i know sometimes the world, the issues, the challenges we have to report on can feel overwhelming even discouraging. but i am personally buoyed by the stories we get to tell of people rising through the moment, extending themselves to make their part of the world a better place the people who remind us there is so much good and positivity out there. we'll continue to tell their stories. but in the meantime i want you to know how honored i am to appear in your home each night. i'm backed by an amazing group of journalists located all across the globe you may not see most of them, but you see their work and as you're about to meet many of them, let me urge you once more, take care of yourself and each other ♪ ♪
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garvin thomas: hello, and thank you so much for spending some of your precious time with us as we share with you some of our favorite "bay area proud" stories from 2021. now, to be completely honest, there's a lot about the past couple of years we'd like to forget but not the bravery of those who worked the frontlines of the pandemic. remembering and honoring them is just what one north bay artist vowed to do. john deckert: hmm, here, see, this is the real--artist. look. garvin: when you're an artist like john deckert, working from home is nothing new. john: i'm 72 now, and i've been painting since i was 19, 20 years old. garvin: so, when the pandemic hit, it has, though, changed what--or who he paints.


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