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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 24, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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bank. >> 70s tomorrow. >> thanks for joining us. on the broadcast tonight, high drama, hundreds of miles above the earth, a mini blizzard of poisonous liquid, dicey moments for astronauts during a risky repair mission in space. in the dark, and ice cold this christmas eve, hundreds of thousands of families left powerless after a big storm hit hard. i already won, nsa leaker edward snowden gives a surprise interview in moscow, why he says he has already accomplished what he set out to do. and midnight mass, the message from pope francis tonight, leading his first christmas at the vatican. we'll go live to st. peters. nightly news begins now.
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good evening, i'm tamron hall, in tonight for brian, and tonight, after seven and a half hours with some touch and go moments for two american astronauts, a risky and difficult space walk is over in time for christmas. the two americans had to make a critical repair to the international space station, and nbc's kerry sanders has been monitoring their space walk step by step from our miami bureau, kerry, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, tamron, a replacement pump is now in place on the international space station. the space walk to position that pump is really only the second space walk ever on a christmas eve. the last one was 14 years ago. >> and our first view of mike hopkins. >> reporter: astronauts mike hopkins and rick mastracchio floated outside the international space station. >> that's a beautiful view.
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>> reporter: the americans operating in concert with the japanese astronaut, operating the robotic arm to install a new cooling pump. >> go ahead and remove it from bolt two. >> reporter: from command mission, step by step instructions. >> and we'll install the pump module in this order, bolt one, four, three, two. >> reporter: the biggest challenge say those who have done space construction before? >> it was kind of like putting on your scuba gear and then putting on the sleeping bag and then the snow jacket and snow boots and the biggest, thickest gloves you have ever worn, and then going up on your roof at night in the winter and trying to fix a watch while everybody watches on national tv. >> reporter: 45 years ago on christmas eve eve, apollo 8 circumnavigated the moon. it was a first for mankind. >> we close with good night, good luck, a merry christmas, and god bless all of you.
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>> reporter: today? >> mike hopkins taking a special sleigh ride on this christmas eve. >> reporter: was the second spacewalk since the pump failed 13 days ago. the motion difficult hurdle, the lines that field ammonia into the pump, the danger? poisonous ammonia escaping. and it did. >> big chunks. >> reporter: the ammonia snowflakes peppered their space suits but didn't stick. >> i could see no indications of ammonia. >> reporter: ammonia is a dangerous contaminant if it re-enters the space station. five hours, 52 minutes into the mission, orbiting over the pacific, christmas came early. >> you got yourself a new pump module. >> we have a pump that is alive and well. >> reporter: the good news? no more problems with the space suits. a small amount of water had entered one of the space suits which caused the delay of the space walk to today. as for christmas, the astronauts
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will have it off. but clearly with today's success, they have already opened their presents. tamron. >> kerry sanders, thank you. back here on planet earth, more than 300,000 people from michigan to maine are still without power this christmas eve after storms this past weekend. and weather is making it difficult and dangerous for others to get where they're going. our story tonight from nbc's john yang. >> reporter: icy roads made the day before christmas travel treacherous in the northeast. near buffalo, new york, a tractor-trailer flipped over, snarling traffic. in northern ohio, a morning pileup involving more than 25 vehicles closed interstate 90, a major east-west link, with temperatures forecast to stay below freezing the rest of the week, dangerous travel conditions are likely to persist. in maine, tree limbs and power lines were downed. crews were working around the
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clock. >> we work 17 on, seven at night. i go home at 6:00 at night and back at 1:00 in the morning. >> reporter: they're expected to be on the job the rest of the week, working to restore power, and temperatures making things worse. here in michigan, more than 200,000 homes and businesses have been without power for three straight days. despite crews coming from 11 states and the district of columbia to help, there are still neighborhoods like this one that have yet to be touched. many families are waiting in packed hotels if they can find rooms. a hampton inn has become a gathering spot for displaced families like this couple and their dog, shep. so this is where you're going to spend christmas? >> yeah, we'll spend christmas, we spent our anniversary here yesterday, 23 years, we got to spend it in a motel. >> reporter: this family is making the best of it. >> everybody is having a really tough time. we still don't have any power. but we don't care.
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we're together! >> reporter: grateful to have some place warm to stay, even if it is not home. john yang, nbc news, east lansing, michigan. tonight, edward snowden, the nsa leaker who set off a worldwide debate about government surveillance says he considers his mission accomplished. snowden, who now lives in russia is speaking out in a rare interview with "washington post." we have more from the justice correspondent, pete williams, who joins us from our washington bureau, pete, good evening. >> reporter: tamron, good evening. snowden talked from moscow to a washington post contributor and one of three journalists who have received his leaks of classified nsa documents. snowden says in the interview that he has no regrets. they met somewhere in moscow, the story doesn't reveal the location in a room where edward snowden kept the curtains closed. according to today's "washington post," snowden said, "i already won."
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in terms of personal s satisfacti satisfaction, the mission is already splished. snowden spoke for hours to the reporter for the washington post. >> he is very much at peace with his choices. he wanted to provoke and inspire and galvanize a public debate. he has succeeded in that beyond any reasonable ambition. >> reporter: snowden claimed that he first raised his concerns about the reach of government surveillance to nsa co-workers and supervisors more than a year ago. >> almost recklessly, if you don't want to get caught, he was asking them about what he called the front page test. what do you think the american people would think if they knew about this? >> reporter: but the nsa says the investigation turned up no evidence that he brought his concerns to anyone's attention. in the interview, snowden said i'm working to improve the nsa, saying he is in effect still working for the nsa right now. they're the only ones who don't realize it. as for who elected him to spill
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so many highly classified secrets, snowden said he was prodded by the lack of oversight, questions from congress, and too much acquiescence from the courts. but others say he is a defector or traitor or both. >> edward snowden has delusions of grandeur. unfortunately he has caused tremendous damage. but for him to see himself as a sort of patriot or prophet or whatever, he imagines himself to be, he is totally wrong. >> reporter: as for his life now in moscow, snowden says he is living like an indoor cat. >> he is essentially sitting somewhere in rushsa eating ray men noodles and chips and living the life like he lived it before. >> tomorrow, snowden will be on british television and ends it with this, together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always
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cheaper than spying. tamron? >> pete, thank you, tonight hours ahead of the midnight deadline, our white house correspondent, kristen welker is reporting the obama administration is providing more time for some people to sign up for health insurance. this extension is on a case by case basis which only applies to people who can show they have technical problems with the website left them unable to sign up in time to be covered by juni january 1st. washington officials say they have highlighted it for weeks and it has always been a large part of their plan, for the majority of people, the deadline remains midnight tonight. and a new warning tonight from target. beware of scam e-mail that may look like it's from target but it is really not. and it is designed to steal your personal information. it is part of the continuing fallout after data from some 40 million debit and credit cards were stolen. all of this comes as a lot of people are taking their christmas shopping down to the wire tonight. nbc's gabe gutierrez is at a
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k-mart store outside of atlanta. >> reporter: tamron, good evening. many retailers were offering extended hours tonight. this k-mart will stay open until about 10:00 tonight. and last minute christmas shoppers have never had so many options. tonight, the procrastinators are out. and the deals are drafting. >> everything we got was on sale. >> reporter: near atlanta, katie shownfelt had just started her christmas shopping this morning. so she is glad many retailers extended their christmas eve hours. >> i think it is great for people who work a lot and have odd hours and don't have a 9:00 to 5:00 job, so definitely it came in handy for us. >> reporter: some k-mart, macy's and kohl's stores are staying open later. one survey found nearly a quarter of last minute shoppers were waiting for better deals,
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more like 60 or 70% off. >> at the malls we've been reporting from this week, it is striking how many stores are promoting deep discounts, the kind of discounts you expect to see after christmas. >> reporter: amazon.com is already rolling out their after-christmas sale, with 70% off of some items, so is old navy, with mark downs up to 50%. and 75%. >> as gift cards are redeemed the week after christmas can be up to 50% of holiday season sales. >> reporter: the traffic at the brick and mortar stores is down 20%, but on line sales are soaring, boosted by free shipping and easier returns. bloomingdales is promote iing a pro-trast naters have all the fun at this site. at this best buy, we found several customers tied to their smartphone apps. >> that's the new age. it helped me to save about $30 over at macy's. they had a coupon. >> reporter: a good deal for
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customers. but what about the employees who have to work longer hours? >> well, if you're in the retail, you know this is the super bowl. >> reporter: and tonight, the play clock is running out. just a few hours to go at this k-mart, but don't worry, tamron, the day after tomorrow these check lines will reopen at 8:00 in the morning. >> all right, gabe, thank you very much. well, then there is this lump of coal on christmas eve. we learned late today it will cost a little more to mail a letter in the new year. beginning january 26th, a first class stamp will cost 49 cents. still ahead tonight, excitement at st. peters as pope francis leads his first christmas at the vatican. we'll go there live up next. and later, making a difference for american heroes serving far from home on the front lines this christmas season.
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a live picture of bethlehem tonight, and the church of the nativity, believed to be the birthplace of jesus where thousands of christian pilgrims from around the world gather for celebrations tonight. the turnout is the highest in years. and at the vatican, this is an historic christmas eve, the first for pope francis. nbc's martin fletcher is there tonight. good evening, martin. >> reporter: tamron, good evening, and merry christmas to you.
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pope francis's message tonight, god loves us, he gave us his son to be a light in our darkness. tonight, the traditional christmas message from a most untraditional pope. midnight mass in st. peter's basilica in the vatican. it didn't take long for pope francis to break with tradition. placing the statue of baby jesus in the manger himself, instead of an aide doing it, in keeping with his theme of humility. god loves us. he gave us his son to be light in our darkness. the traditional christmas lesson of light and love from a most untraditional pope. in just nine months, pope francis has charmed the world. >> his message of hope and love translates into every language. he is humble, he is definitely a people's pope. >> reporter: the leader of 1.2 billion catholics, he still comes across as a kindly grandfather, not standing on ceremony. reaching out to all, especially
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children, the poor and the abandoned, and the afflicted. opening the doors of the church. on gay priests, he says, who am i to judge? on women in the church, he says they are essential. a change in catholic dogma, or just a change in style? >> there is certainly a style change which is simplicity. but he is not going to throw out core doctrine. >> reporter: his message to the church is harsher. clean up your act on corruption and abusive priests. >> if you're going to teach as a church you want to be able to give an example of honesty. >> reporter: and he is setting an example, he swapped the papal limb mo -- limb mohsine for a ford focus. and he lives in a two room apartment. he left to pray with pope benedict in his retirement home. francis said to him, pray for me.
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tonight, it was pope francis in the splendor of the basilica, leading the catholic world in prayer. as for the new year, he has already served notice that it may be a time of change. he has brought in outside analysts like mckenzie and ernt and young to recommend ways to improve the running of the catholic church. tamron? >> martin fletcher, thank you. up next, one man's unusual find in a taxi's back seat and what he did next that is getting a lot of attention.
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some good news tonight for all the kids out there. the folks at norad are keeping close track on santa, and they're reporting he is well on his way around the world, and that he has already delivered billions of presents. they say he should be making his way to this country in just a few hours, but not before all good little girls and boys go to bed. in fact, this afternoon, first lady michelle obama took time to answer questions from some lucky kids calling the norad santa tracker hot line. and before santa took off on his journey around the world, he took part in the annual tradition, waterskiing on the potomac in washington. from the looks of it, the big guy is good at it.
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a cab driver on the las vegas strip got the surprise of a lifetime this week when he peek into a bag a passenger accidentally left in the back seat and found $300,000 in cash. but rather keeping the money, cab driver, gerardo gamboa did a good deed, and helped to track down te gambler who had just won big and then left his wins in the cab. he was named driver of the year and given a thousand dollar reward from his cab company. and who knows maybe another reward from the grateful guy who got his money back. and you got to feel for this guy. take a look at what has to be one of the strangest game winning goals ever. phoenix coyote mike smith got all turned around last night against the buffalo sabres when the puck went up in the air and then went down his pants. take a look again. with so much padding, he never felt it.
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then he went back in his pants and he score the goal for the other team, helping them win the game. and when we come back, making a difference for americans very far from home.
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finally tonight, spreading holiday cheer to america's men and women in uniform who can't make it home for christmas with their families. there are 47,000 soldiers and marines in afghanistan tonight, and as the u.s. winds down operations there, this may be the last year for this particular christmas tradition. our making a difference report tonight from our correspondent, jim miklaszewski, inside afghanistan. >> reporter: amid the soaring snow-capped mountains in eastern afghanistan, santa claus is already going to town. it is the uso's annual cheer, and christmas convoy to the u.s. boots on the battlefield. led by santa herself, regina wages, the uso director here. >> i love these guys, they need a little piece of home and i love providing it for them. >> reporter: volunteers pitch in on behalf of their fellow soldiers. >> it is just creating a smile, putting it on somebody's faces. >> reporter: they're the only
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santa's helpers carrying sidearms. all gifts are donated. flat screen tvs and an x-box and a bicycle. >> you don't have any parts left over, do you? >> i don't think we do. >> i always did. >> reporter: the gifts are tossed onto helicopters for delivery. this time to the base. the soldiers here are preparing for a mission outside the wire. only days before christmas. the uso invasion provides a welcome break from the war. even seasoned combat veterans get a lift. >> i love it, too. i like being a kid every once in a while. >> reporter: the uso convoy delivers the holiday packages to some of the most isolated and dangerous bases in afghanistan, where the only outside contact may be the enemy. but as the war winds down, these christmas convoys will come to an end, that is bitter sweet for regina wages. >> you know, i've been out here serving these guys since 2009.
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i mean, to think that -- i'm glad they're going home, but i'm kind of sad. >> reporter: and while war has a way of turning young soldiers into men, these brief moments allow them to be kids again. >> man, you guys will do anything. >> reporter: receiving what may be the most precious gift of all. >> merry christmas! >> reporter: jim miklaszewski, nbc news, afghanistan. that is our broadcast for this christmas eve. thank you for being with us. i'm tamron hall in for brian. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. merry christmas, good night.
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good evening, thanks for joining us. i'm terry mcsweeney. raj and jess have the night off. a san jose family was having a christmas eve breakfast when they received an unwelcomed surprise. a car slamming into their living room at the intersection of cropley avenue in east san jose. police say the drivers were street racing. nbc bay area's sam brock joins us now live from outside the east san jose home. sam? >> reporter: the family members
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who live here popped their head out. in better spirits than they were earlier today. understandably. behind me you have the collateral damage from earlier in the day. the street race. videotape evidence shows there were young drivers, two 16 or 17-year-old drivers swerving out of the lanes on cropley avenue, got tangled up ending up in this house adding another chapter of misfortune to a home that's seen plenty of it. when carollers sing of a white christmas, this is probably not what one san jose family had in mind. whitish chalky debris that only this morning looked more like a wall, protectsing the trove of gifts. this affable gentleman is bill who seems to live on some kind of cursed lot. >> even the house -- >> reporter: this home burned down eight years ago around the time of his daughter's high school graduation and

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