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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 30, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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forecast coming up. >> "nightly news" coming up next. >> thanks for joining us. remember you can find us online at nbcbayarea.com. tonight, praising putin. president-elect trump calls russia's leader, quote, very smart, for defying calls to retaliate against the u.s., shrugging off punishments from president obama. and inside the secretive russian compounds, shut down today by u.s. authorities. breaking news, after three years of freedom, will kennedy cousin michael skakel be sent back to prison for a four-decade-old murder? snow emergency. as much as two feet of snow, burying a wide swath of the country, turning roads treacherous. will it impact new year's plans? mystery flight. a plane over the great lakes suddenly disappears. what happened to the six people on board? and uber rescue. what an uber driver overheard from the back seat that launched him into action to save a teenage girl.
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"nightly news" begins right now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. i'm peter alexander, in for lester. tonight, donald trump is once again raising eyebrows for his glowing words about russian president vladimir putin. it comes just hours after the russian leader announced he would not retaliate against the u.s. for imposing new sanctions following russia's attempts to interfere with the election. trump's response, great move on delay by vladimir putin. i always knew he was very smart. also tonight, our first look inside one of those luxurious compounds the russians are being forced to leave. we begin tonight with nbc's hans nichols. >> reporter: tonight, president-elect trump, tweeting more praise for vladimir putin. after putin's unexpected move not to expel any u.s. diplomats from russia.
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putin, holding fire after president obama ordered 35 suspected spies out of america and sanctioned top russian officials for hacks aimed at influencing the election. putin writing, we will not create any problems for u.s. diplomats, but insisting that we are keeping the right to retaliate. >> trump's response, great move on delay by v. putin. i always knew he was very smart. putin's decision, surprising administration officials and coming just moments after his own foreign minister publicly called for american diplomats to be kicked out. but the former kgb colonel, instead, personally inviting the diplomats' children to a new year's eve celebration. nbc's lucy kafanov is in moscow. >> reporter: the holiday parties that the american children were invited to will take place behind me at the kremlin palace. the move comes as putin's spokesman seemed to dismiss president obama's actions, saying, in three weeks, there will be a new american president. >> reporter: but trump's move today, not as surprising as
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putin's. despite assessments by 17 intelligence agencies that russia was behind the attack, the president-elect has never been convinced russia was to blame. >> it could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. >> reporter: trump has said he'll meet with the intel community to see the fresh evidence against russia, but his approach carries risks. >> i would hope that he wouldn't give away the farm just for a good photo-op. we have real concrete interests that need to be pursued with russia. >> reporter: and here at the russian embassy in washington, they retweeted trump's praise for putin. but a u.s. official tells nbc news, that putin's decision not to retaliate may be an acknowledgement they crossed the line. peter? >> hans nichols reporting in washington tonight. as part of the punishments leveled at russia, the u.s. closed down two exclusive properties used by the russians here in the states. the u.s. government believes those sites may have been involved in espionage. tonight nbc's gabe gutierrez has an inside look at these
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compounds that have stood in plain sight for decades. >> reporter: tonight outside this compound, in maryland, a rush to pack up and get out. a day after the u.s. has said it was shutting down the home, and another one on new york island as part of its retaliation against russia. the obama administration has not detailed what type of intelligence took place in these buildings, but an official said they were not part of a cyber campaign against the u.s. instead, they were secure facilities where the russians could hold secret meetings. >> they've been quiet neighbors. >> reporter: across the bay from washington, the maryland compound is 63 miles from the white house and near nsa headquarters. these pictures from inside show massive dining rooms and luxurious lounges. the sprawling 45-acre estate known for diplomatic parties where the vodka flowed. closing the compound now, perhaps more symbolic than operational.
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>> it is possible that this is more of sending a message, almost an annoyance to the russians, saying, look, you had these nice facilities and we're no longer going to give you access to them. >> reporter: the properties were on the u.s. radar for decades, but even the reagan administration at the height of the cold war let them stay. >> if we arrested every person we suspected to be a spy and kicked them out of the country, they would do the same to us. >> reporter: tonight the two russian retreats, now under the control of the u.s. state department. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. with three weeks left in office and his legacy on the line, president obama will gather with congressional democrats next week to strategize ways to protect obamacare from republicans who want to repeal it just as soon as the president is out of office. for more on that, we turn to nbc's kelly o'donnell tonight. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, peter. meetings where we see president obama go directly to capitol hill have been infrequent and saved for urgent business.
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this time he'll make that trip with two weeks and two days left in his term. advisers say the president wants to meet, not only with leaders but all the democrats who will serve in the house and senate after the obama era ends. he wants to strategize about how they can fight for his signature health care law, but also open to making changes that could improve it, like attempts to reduce costs. all of this comes as republicans are planning to repeal it, delivering on a campaign pledge. democrats are bracing for that. the only thing that has stopped it has been the obama veto pen. without that, they are looking for any attempts to adjust their fight to try to preserve the best parts of the health care law with republicans in charge. peter? >> kelly o'donnell, thank you. breaking news tonight from connecticut. that state's highest court has reinstated the murder conviction of michael skakel, a kennedy cousin, a ruling that could send him back to prison for the killing of his 15-year-old neighbor four decades ago.
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>> reporter: at issue, whether kennedy cousin michael skakel received an adequate defense when he was convicted 14 years ago of martha moxley's murder. >> this is martha's day. >> reporter: skakel served time until 2013, 11 years of his 20-to-life sentence. when a judge ruled that mistakes by his attorney, mickey sherman, cost skakel a fair trial. moxley was beaten and stabbed to death with a golf club. today the connecticut supreme court split 4-3 on the issue. reinstating skakel's conviction, saying skakel's defense attorney did provide constitutionally adequate representation. this could mean skakel will have to return to prison to finish his sentence. skakel's attorney declined to comment. skakel is the nephew senator robert kennedy's widow ethel. the case and the trial attracted national attention, opening the door into privileged lives, a fascination that endures.
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anne thompson, nbc news, new york. parts of the northeast are still digging out tonight after the first big snowstorm of the season that caused numerous accidents and left thousands without power. morgan radford reports on the challenges going into this year's new year's weekend. >> reporter: tonight, millions of americans, scrambling to clear the streets. >> unless you have to go out, don't bother going out. it makes life easier for us. >> reporter: in upstate new york, plows clearing up to eight inches of snow. after the first major storm of the season clobbered the northeast. >> it's coming down pretty hard. it's very difficult to see. >> reporter: almost 100,000 people in maine without power which officials say may not come back for days. parts of that state saw more than two feet of snow. more than a foot in parts of new hampshire. tonight responders trying to prevent this. the aftermath of a forceful 24 hours. here in new hampshire, you can see melting snow still covering the streets. this is something officials warn
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can quickly turn to ice as soon as the temperature drops. dangerous streets, under harsh conditions. >> such low visibility, that it's very, very hard to even tell what lanes you're supposed to be driving in. >> reporter: residents hoping to end the year with a different type of bang. [ thunder rolls ] morgan radford, nbc news, concord, new hampshire. a frantic search is under way for a small plane that vanished shortly after takeoff from cleveland. officials fear it may have plunged into lake erie last night with six people on board. nbc's ron mott has the latest. >> reporter: a race against time and frigid waters of lake erie as the coast guard leads the search for a missing plane with six people aboard, feared lost. >> they lost radio contact as the plane was departing. >> reporter: officials say they're picking up a faint emergency signal activated after a crash. >> there's several faint hits of an elt, but we've not received a strong steady pulse of an elt signal at this time.
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>> reporter: the plane took off from burke lakefront airport with light snow falling and strong winds gusting to 36 miles an hour. it made two turns toward the north before disappearing from radar. john t. fleming, ceo of a columbus ohio beverage company was piloting. he was joined by his wife suzanne, their two teen sons, and two others. an adult and child. neighbors of both families expressed hope. >> let's hope a miracle happens. >> reporter: rough lake conditions hampered the search overnight. additional search teams from canada are aiding the effort. >> we'll be hopeful up until the point we have to turn the search off and we switch over to assisting with recovery. >> reporter: the group flew to cleveland to attend the cavaliers basketball game. records indicate they were flying back to the columbus area. tonight investigators still don't know why the plane disappeared as concerns grow for the families. ron mott, nbc news. and still ahead right here tonight, how an uber ride saved
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a young girl from suspected sex traffickers. thanks to a driver who sensed something was wrong. also the lives they lived. our annual look back at some of those who left us this year and their lasting impact.
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back now with an uber driver being hailed as a hero after he overheard something disturbing from his back seat. rather than simply moving on to the next fare, he launched into action, and now police are praising him for helping save a 16-year-old girl from alleged sex traffickers.
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we get the details tonight from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: it was just a 13-minute ride, an $8 fare, but in that time, california uber driver keith avila could sense something wrong. he said the girl in his passenger seat wore a surprisingly short skirt. >> it struck me as odd because she was so young and dressing like that. >> reporter: he said the two women in the back seat were giving the girl strange instructions, like this. >> when you're hugging him, just ask, do you have any weapons, pat him down. >> reporter: so after dropping off the trio at a hotel, he called police. >> there's a police officer. >> reporter: during a facebook live stream, he described what happened next. officers arrived and arrested the two women, saying they arranged for the girl to have sex with a man. the girl was a 16-year-old runaway, a common target for traffickers. >> i think this is a perfect example of the community coming together and recognizing that something is not right.
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>> reporter: in the u.s., more than 4,000 sex trafficking cases have been reported to the national human trafficking hotline this year. experts say education is key to addressing the problem. >> it really is getting the service industry and corporations trained to be able to recognize this, because this is a crime that is out in the open. >> reporter: uber says it does send drivers up to date information about spotting the signs of human trafficking. tonight the company is grateful for avila's quick response in a tough situation. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. >> hats off to that driver. in a moment, the growing concern about the health and environmental impact of a big business in los angeles. and we're not talking about entertainment.
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the city of los angeles is synonymous with hollywood, but it's also an unlikely source of oil production, and that's led to growing health and environmental concerns. those concerns were heightened
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by a state audit that called safety tests at oil sites inadequate and found more than half of the inspection records were missing or incomplete. we get more on this from nbc's gadi schwartz. >> reporter: long before los angeles was the entertainment capital of the world, it was one of the largest oil producers in the country. today, it still is. los angeles county has more than 5,000 active oil well sites, 1,071 in the city. sometimes they're disguised as art or behind high walls, or even hidden in towers like this building in beverly hills. but most can be seen throughout l.a. neighborhoods, not hidden at all. >> we don't have to be doing this. >> reporter: after an environmental activist, mark ruffalo, led a toxic tour around oil sites in l.a., he said he's shocked by what he's seen. >> i want to wake up los angeles here. and start to envision a california that isn't so cozy with the oil and gas industry.
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>> reporter: gladys is part of a group suing the city, alleging lack of safety measures have forced residents to bear environmental and health burdens. >> it's permissible by law, which is astounding. >> reporter: one concern is about a technique used to extract oil from depleted reserves using acid to dissolve rock and release new oil. >> unfortunately, the operators are allowed to use the acid and the chemical cocktails. >> reporter: one of the biggest concerns here in los angeles is that many of these sites are literally right next door to people's homes, but across the country, many cities are now starting to restrict oil pumping in neighborhoods. l.a. city officials say they are taking action. >> you will see the city move very, very, very quickly. because we recognize we need to get a handle on these things. >> reporter: but until any new changes are put into place, oil pumping in the neighborhood continues. gadi schwartz, nbc news, los angeles.
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and when we come back, the legacy they leave behind. a fond farewell to the famous faces we lost this last year. amnesty program.
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==terry/vo== the deadline that could mean the difference between jail time and freedom for some minor offenders. ==vicky/vo== and nbc bay area responds to a mystery over missing airline miles. ===vicky/next close=== next at 6. finally tonight, as we say farewell to 2016, we remember
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some of those who left us this past year. so many notable people from all walks of life, who had an impact on our lives, each one of them leaving a remarkable legacy. ♪ there is no life i know to compare with pure imagination ♪ ♪ living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be ♪ ♪ ♪ these days are happy and free ♪ ♪ oh happy days these are days are ♪ >> what kind of a name is ed for a horse? >> what kind of a name is wilbur for a man? ♪ lighten up while you still can ♪ ♪ don't even try to understand ♪ just find a place and play your hand ♪ ♪ and take it easy ♪ ♪ here's a story of a lovely lady ♪ ♪
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♪ show me that smile again ♪ ooh show me that smile ♪ if we don't have hope and faith, we have nothing. ♪ there are places i remember ♪ all my life though some have changed ♪ ♪ some forever, not for better ♪ some have gone and some remain ♪ ♪ all these places have their moments ♪ ♪ with lovers and friends i still can recall ♪ ♪ some are dead and some are living ♪ ♪ in my life, i loved them all ♪ >> i can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. ♪ ♪ let's dance
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♪ put on your red shoes and dance the blues ♪ ♪ let's dance ♪ to the song they're playing on the radio ♪ >> excuse me, miss lane. ♪ let's sway ♪ while color lights up your face ♪ >> god speed, john glenn. ♪ there's a star man waiting in the sky ♪ ♪ >> may the force be with you. ♪ >> tell mike it was only business. i always liked him. ♪ because i gotta have faith
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♪ i gotta have faith because i gotta have faith ♪ ♪ i gotta have faith, faith, faith ♪ >> we've had a great life, a great life. ♪ dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life >> ali's legend didn't fade, it became undefeated. >> i am the greatest. what are we gonna do? >> you gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. ♪ so tonight i'm gonna party like it's 1999 ♪ ♪ ♪ life is just a party and parties aren't meant to last ♪
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>> so many remarkable lives. our thanks to producer katie reimchen and editor barry silverman for that remembrance. before we go, we do have an announcement for our viewers in new england. starting this sunday, january 1st, there will be a new nbc station in boston. if you're looking for "nightly news" or any other nbc programs, you'll find them on channel 10 on most cable providers in boston. again, starting this sunday, new-year's day. that will do it for us on this friday night. i'm peter alexander in for lester. for all of us at nbc news, we thank you for watching. have a good night. ompletely unsubstantiated trt:
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6 ==vicky/take vo== right now at 6: russia offers a sharp, and slighty snarky response to president obama's sanctions... as alleged spies pack up and prepare to leave san francisco. ==vicky/2-shot== the news at 6 starts now. thanks for joining us. i'm vicky nguyen. ==terry/2-shot== and i'm terry mcsweeney. raj and jess have the night off. terry/1xvid tonight - russian president vladimir putin is condemning u-s sanctions against russia, but says he won't retaliate. instead.. he says he'll essentially wait for donald trump to take office in january. president obama ordered what the u-s describes as 35 russian "intellingence agents" to leave the u-s, following
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allegations of russian meddling in the american presidential election. today the russians responded... with some sharp comments and a new year's invitation. nbc bay area's scott budman is live outside the russian consulate in san francisco. scott -- yesterday -- they didn't want reporters around. today -- they invited everyone in. =terry/cg= apparently the sudden press conference wasn't enough...

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