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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 24, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

5:30 pm have a good evening. on the broadcast tonight, ebola scare. breaking news tonight, scientists inside the cdc may have been exposed to the lethal virus. how did it happen? now playing, a christmas eve surprise. the movie that sparked an international incident available a day early for the world to see. path of destruction, from a deadly outbreak of tornadoes and tonight, flooding, wind, fog and major delays at the airport. hospitalized, the latest on the condition of former president george h.w. bush. and here comes santa claus. we'll show you how to track his every move. we are hot on his trail. "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian
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williams. good evening. i'm tamron hall in for brian on this christmas eve. we begin with breaking news from atlanta. inside a secure laboratory may have exposed a technician to ebola and other staff who may have had contact with that lab are being identified. it's the latest in a series of embarrassing errors for the cdc. the agency's director tonight saying he's troubled by this incident. an investigation is now underway. we get late details tonight from nbc's gabe gutierrez in atlanta. >> reporter: tonight, an internal investigation is underway at the centers for disease control to find out how one of their workers and possibly more could have been exposed to the deadly ebola virus. the exposure took place monday when scientists researching the virus mistakenly sent a sample from a high-level security lab to a lower level lab at the cdc. the technician has no symptoms and is being monitored for 21 days. >> you have to get ebola into
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your body to be infected, so it's likely that the risk to the technician was very low. >> reporter: this year the cdc has been under fire. in june more than 80 workers were potentially exposed to anthrax by mistake. the head of that bioterrorism lab later resigned. then u.s. hospitals said the agency's recommended protocols for dealing with the ebola virus were unclear. in congressional hearings cdc director tom frieden admitted the agency made mistakes. tonight in response to the potential ebola exposure frieden says i am troubled by the incident and i have directed that there be a full review of every aspect of the incident and that the cdc take all necessary measures. >> dr. frieden's come under criticism for the way he's handled the ebola crisis. some critics said he came across as too confident that ebola wouldn't spread in the united states and then it did. >> reporter: the worst ebola outbreak on record has devastated west africa, killing more than 7,500 people.
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but the cdc says the risk from this latest mistake is low, and there is no public threat. cdc officials here say that other workers who entered that lab have been contacted, but so far it's unlikely anyone else was exposed. >> gabe, thank you. one of the most hard to get items to buy today was not a hot new toy, it was a movie ticket to sony's film "the interview," the one that launched an international incident. while hundreds of theaters say they will show it, it's also now available online. we get the latest tonight from our justice correspondent pete william who's in our washington newsroom. pete, good evening. >> reporter: tamron, good evening. this is a first newly released hollywood movie showing up in theaters and online at the same time. but sony entertainment says it's the best way to demonstrate that a cyber attack did not end up silencing the studio. first it was impossible to find, now it's almost impossible to miss. >> hello north korea! >> reporter: comedy about
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journalists on a cia mission to kill the leader of north korea. >> you want us to assassinate the leader of north korea? >> yes. >> what? >> reporter: today it became available online through google play, youtube, microsoft xbox and a dedicated website set up by sony entertainment. the move lit up twitter, this man saying watching "the interview" a day early and from the comfort of my home. thanks, north korea. sony says it began talking with online providers a week ago, two days before president obama criticized the studio. >> yes, i think they made a mistake. >> reporter: the big movie theater chains are taking a pass on the film, but hundreds of independents are stepping up in nearly every state. this one in new mexico is owned by "game of thrones" creator james r.r. martin who worries about self-censorship. >> if you make a movie and it's not going to be shown, then the next guy may not push the envelope. he may not make a movie that's going to be controversial or break taboos or anger people. >> reporter: ticket sales have been brisk.
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some theaters are sold out. >> we as americans don't give-in to terrorist demand. >> i'm so excited to see it. >> reporter: theaters say they're mindful of the vague attack threats earlier this month before sony pulled the film. >> we'll have extra security, perhaps few extra rules entering the theater what you're allowed to carry in. a few other small details. >> reporter: early reviews of the film are not kind, but with all the attention that may not matter. >> this is not the kind of movie that depends on critical reviews to be successful. and now i think there's a whole class of people out there who are going to go see this movie on principle who wouldn't have seen it otherwise. >> reporter: computer security experts say the real north korea has suffered seven internet outages in the past two days, but they say its internet presence is so small, virtually any hacker could do it. tamron. tonight, pete, thank you. we continue to keep a close eye on the weather tonight. a rough go for a lot of last-minute travelers. we'll have a check on that in a moment, but first to the outbreak of tornadoes that swept across the south.
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four people were killed in mississippi, many more injured and homes and businesses leveled in an instant, nbc's jacob rascon is in columbia, mississippi for us tonight. jacob, good evening. >> reporter: tamron, good evening. the national weather service tonight says the tornado that tore through columbia might have been as strong as an ef-3 cutting a path three and a half miles long and leaving behind scenes like this. this is easily the worst day of martha hall's 84-year life. not even her cane survived. she was about to deliver christmas pies when her suv took a direct hit. >> everything hit. looked like it was trying to take it up off the ground and everything rumbled and shake. i bowed down, i remember that, my head like this. i was just saying take care of
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us. take care of us. and he did. >> reporter: all six homes and three businesses on martha's block are no more. >> i was standing right over here. >> reporter: across the street jeff pennington and seven co-workers had just finished eating dinner at their christmas party when they spotted the tornado. >> there was just no time to do anything really. just hit the floor. everything seemed like it was about to blow and it literally did. the roof came off. the ceiling came off. >> reporter: more than 100 homes and businesses now damaged or destroyed. the collapsing structures killed four adults, injuring many others and declaring states of emergency in two counties. >> our hearts go out to the families of these particularly at this time of year. >> reporter: it's not new for mississippi, but it's new for martha. >> i don't have no plans at all. nothing. i don't know what's going to happen. >> reporter: despite losing
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everything just before christmas found a reason to give thanks. >> thank you, god, you spared our lives. cause ain't no way we could have made it without him to protect. >> reporter: and martha's one of dozens of people treated and released in the aftermath of the tornado. the mayor of this small city tells me people from outside communities started coming here to help before dawn, many of them planning on sticking around helping people like martha feel like it's christmas after all. tamron. >> all right, jacob rascon on the ground in columbia, mississippi, jacob, thank you. this storm continues to push across the country this christmas eve. slow going for a lot of last-minute travelers. nbc's ron mott is at new york's laguardia airport, ron, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you. good things didn't necessarily come to those who waited until today to travel. fortunately aaa says a vast majority of americans drove to their destination. but folks trying to get out by
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air was a day of disruptions. look at the scene today earlier at laguardia. despite the heavy fog, you see low visibility and persistent rain. flight disruptions were pretty mellow, five dozen or so. but elsewhere across the country, especially out west, long lines. very long lines. weather at l.a.x. was not a factor, crowding was the issue there. take a look in living color at this misery map. you've seen this map before. there's a lot of green there, which is good. but there's also a lot of red, which means problems. we've seen big problems at chicago's o'hare, dallas-ft. worth and san francisco. in all the weather contributing to some 2,400 flight delays, more than 300 cancellations. but a little good news for the procrastinators trying to get out of laguardia, as you see it's pretty wide open. so they can slow their roll just a little bit. >> ron, thank you. so the question a lot of people are asking tonight, what will the weather look like on christmas? our friend meteorologist janice huff is in the weather center with the forecast. janice, how's it looking? >> it's looking better for
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christmas day, tamron, but right now seeing severe thunderstorms move through portions of ohio. earlier today thunderstorms reported south of jacksonville, but no damage reported there from those, no touchdowns. this severe weather now stretches if cleveland to akron towards parkersburg. and that's moving towards western pennsylvania and eventually new york city may hear rumbles of thunder. in terms of snowfall there will be some snow falling on the backside of that in colder air over parts of southern michigan. as you go through time here in our futurecast, you'll notice things start to clear out on christmas morning across parts of the northeast. some areas have snow on the ground still in some of the northern sections of new england, so you'll have a white christmas. this is what's on the ground right now stretching back through the upper peninsula of michigan, the northern plains and the usual places over the peaks of the rockies and sierra nevada. one location you don't think about snow at all is hawaii, but there are blizzard warnings in effect for the highest peaks of the big island, up to eight inches of snow and possibly wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour
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above 11,500 feet. but at the beaches, tamron, sunshine and warm temperatures. >> janice, thank you so much. there are renewed calls for calm in ferguson, missouri after a white police officer shot and killed a black teenager after authorities say the teen pointed a gun at the officer at an incident at a gas station. john yang is in berkeley, missouri tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, tamron. the shooting at this gas station and convenience store brought up memories of many people of the shooting of michael brown just five miles from here in ferguson, missouri. but tonight officials here in berkeley are quick to say that the two cases are very different. today, officials were quick to release security video of the incident showing different angles. a berkeley, missouri police officer investigating a shoplifting report encounters
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two men. less than a minute later one of them, identified as 18-year-old antonio martin, raises his arm pointing a gun, officials say, at the officer who quickly backs up. >> the officer produced his service weapon and fired what we think at this point is three shots. >> reporter: one struck martin killing him. police say they recovered a loaded .9 millimeter at the scene and martin has a criminal record. as social media spread word of the shooting, a crowd gathered. a firecracker was thrown. there were four arrests. >> he gone. he gone. >> reporter: martin's girlfriend and his mother were there. >> try to get him back in school and stuff. >> reporter: today, berkeley mayor conceded emphatically this is not ferguson. >> here in berkeley if you review the video, you'll see that the aggressor was not the
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police. it was the victim. >> reporter: other officials agree the two cases are very different, but acknowledge there may be anger and skepticism. >> and i'm angry too, but i have to tell the truth. in this situation there is a young man who illegally possessed a gun. >> reporter: marcus nevels works at a restaurant across the street and doesn't expect large ferguson-like protests. >> it will be done and over with. >> reporter: tonight, there are two investigations, one by the st. louis county police department, one by the local berkeley police department. and berkeley mayor hoskins is pledging an open and transparent investigation. tamron. >> john yang in berkeley, missouri tonight, thank you. the family of slain nypd officer wenjian liu visited a growing memorial. he was shot while sitting in a patrol car along with officer rafael ramos.
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and we heard today from the airline jetblue offering to fly officer liu's family members in from overseas for his funeral. the airline is also offering to fly two police officers from each department across the country who wish to attend the funerals. former president george h.w. bush remains hospitalized tonight in houston a day after he was brought there in an ambulance after experiencing shortness of breath. nbc's charles hadlock is at houston methodist hospital with the latest. charles, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, tamron. doctors at methodist hospital decided to keep the president overnight after he arrived with shortness of breath. mr. bush is facing yet another christmas in the hospital. two years ago the 41st president spent the holidays in the intensive care unit with bronchitis and a cough that kept him in the hospital for two months. he eventually recovered. and although parkinson's disease makes it now difficult for him to walk, the former president has stayed active, even sky diving for his 90th birthday last summer.
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tonight though mr. bush is watching his christmas unfold once again from a hospital room. tamron. >> charles, thank you so much. still ahead tonight, christmas in the holyland. celebrations in bethlehem, midnight mass at the vatican, tonight's message from the pope. also, what goes up must come down, right? tell that to bao bao the giant panda. high drama tonight at the national zoo.
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around the world tonight the
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christmas spirit is taking hold bringing comfort and joy to millions at gatherings large and small at celebrations at the vatican and at bethlehem itself. nbc's jim maceda has our report. >> reporter: at the vatican a solemn midnight mass. pope francis ushering in the holiday that marks the birth of christ for more than 2 billion worshippers worldwide. many in conflict zones. u.s. troops in afghanistan singing by candlelight. and pilgrims to christ's birthplace, bethlehem in the west bank. >> merry christmas. >> reporter: american david bogeri came from iowa. >> to proclaim the name of jesus, not to talk politics. >> reporter: but there are tensions here even at christmas. palestinians in santa costumes protested israeli occupation and scuffled with police. elsewhere santas were making
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friends and spreading joy. >> it brought a little bit of christmas to thailand. >> reporter: in baghdad, bringing presents to christian children who fled isis with their families. in france scene of recent attacks by suspected militants police tightened security, so has the vatican. at christmastime there's perhaps no more symbolic target for islamist militants than here at st. peter's square, so security is on a heightened state of alert given that pope francis himself has been specifically threatened by isis. ♪ but the pope gave no sign of that tonight. his christmas eve message was one of hope, joy and peace. jim maceda, nbc news, the vatican. we're back in a moment with drivers shocked to see loads of cash in the middle of the road and a big mystery tonight.
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he's off delivering presents to good boys and girls around the world right now, but before santa took off on his journey, he took part in an annual tradition water skiing on the potomac in washington. and from the looks of it the big guy is pretty good at it. there is high drama tonight at the national zoo in washington. the giant panda cub bao bao spent tuesday night and all day today up a tree refusing to come down after apparently touching a hot wire used to keep her in the panda house. zookeepers say her reaction is perfectly normal and perfectly normal and predictable while she learns the boundaries of her habitat. and this video caught our eye from the south china morning post. a traffic jam in hong kong after drivers made a mad dash for millions of dollars spilled into the road. it happened when a truck transporting about $4.5 million suddenly began spilling crates of cash. local reports say while half of
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the money was recovered, about $2 million is still missing tonight. and authorities are asking people to return it. good luck with that one. we'll see what happens. when we come back, where's santa right now? and when will he get to you? we are on his trail.
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tonight's the night santa is coming to town, to a lot of towns all over the world. that's a lot of flight time. the folks at norad are doing their part. tracking santa's progress as he makes his way to a chimney near you. the story from nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: twas the night before christmas. at the north pole, santa's gone. santa and his elves won't be back until dawn. his biggest night as he takes to the sky to deliver all of our presents in the blink of an eye. it can be dark up there for the reindeer pulling santa and his sleigh, but they can find streets like this one all lit up, even from far away. they land on our rooftops without making a peep. >> i always try to hear him but i always somehow fall asleep. >> reporter: so how are kids supposed to know just where to find santa? he could be in australia, he could be in atlanta.
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well, lucky for us the folks at norad are here. >> today is one of the most important days out of the year. >> reporter: they have 1,200 volunteers to track santa's flight as he takes rudolph and the gang around the world all night. it all happens at headquarters in colorado springs where they get hundreds of phone calls asking all kinds of things, like how can santa hit every town in a world that's so vast? >> i think he has super fast reindeers that go very fast. >> reporter: that's a really good guess. and he's actually right. the experts here say. >> santa travels faster than starlight. >> reporter: so how did norad get its start watching santa through the night? blame a phone number in an old ad that wasn't quite right. instead of calling santa, kids got the government instead. so the good folks at norad figured why not track big red. right now santa's making his way to our nation. all that's left now is the anticipation. it's almost that time to get to bed. and no peeking, after all -- >> santa doesn't come if we're not sleeping.
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>> reporter: so get the cookies and milk because st. nick's on his way, merry christmas to all from nbc news in l.a. >> ho ho ho, merry christmas. >> that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being with us. i'm tamron hall in for brian. we'll see you right back here tomorrow evening. ♪ nbc bay area news starts now. right now at 6:00, a slick and blustery trip home as a fast-moving cold front whips through the bay area. the rains moved out, but chilling winds are just getting started. good evening and thanks for joining us, i'm scott budman. raj and jessica have the night off. drivers at a standstill on many bay area roads. you see the backup along 880 and the san mateo bridge. team coverage tonight, jodi hernandez tracking the big get-away and rob mayeda with the latest on what's out there. good evening, rob.
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>> good evening. the umbrellas can be put away and you want to keep a nice winter coat nearby. we have some wind chill temperatures, winds 15 to 25 miles per hour, and our rain totals from the fast-moving storm, just under .10 and more in the santa cruz mountains, and east bay hills, fast-moving system, not a lot, enough to wet the grounds in 580, and san jose, less than .10. still seeing travel impacts in the sierra with heavy snow and gusty winds at times and strong winds moving into southern california as this cooler, drier air sweeps into the bay area, it will remain gusty during the day tomorrow with saturated soil, and the recent rains over the last two or three weeks, downed trees responsible, especially in the hilltops and along the coast. high temperatures tomorrow, similar to what we have outside right now. mid 50s for the next few days and as the winds back off overnight, we're goingo


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