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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  November 29, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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the cdc showing a new alert to all adults. get a booster shot as soon as possible but questions mounting how soon until omicron is discovered in the u.s. and can it evade the vaccine? also tonight opening statements in the sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell, long-time confidant of jeffrey epstein. who is the first witness to take the stand? jury selection on the trial of jussie smollett, the actor accused of staging a hate crime attack on himself. new video of former new york governor andrew cuomo testifying in his sexual harassment allegations. the tense exchanges and what documents reveal about news anchor chris cuomo's role in defending his brother. cyber monday is here our exclusive inside amazon for the biggest online shopping day of the year will it shatter records after a disappointing black friday and how is amazon keeping up with demand celebrating a golf
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legend who broke barriers and tributes pouring in after a fashion icon's tragic death. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening with the world health organization warning of a very high global risk, president biden tonight says the omicron covid variant is cause for concern and not a cause for panic. here's what we know as we come on the air tonight. the variant first identified in south africa has now been discovered in more than a dozen countries, including canada, raising concerns about the speed of its transmission late today the cdc recommending booster shots for everyone 18 and over who is beyond six months of their initial doses. white house officials say it may be two weeks before key questions are answered, including whether the omicron variant can evade vaccines the president tonight reassuring americans that new lockdowns are off the table. our team is in place with the very latest, starting with gabe
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gutierrez. >> reporter: tonight, with the new covid variant omicron spreading around the world, president biden says he's not considering any widespread u.s. lockdown. >> this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. >> reporter: the president, after huddling with public health advisers over the weekend now says the white house is working with vaccine manufacturers to develop vaccine boosters against omicron if needed. >> the best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we have been dealing with already is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot. >> reporter: tonight the cdc is stressing that people 18 and older should get a booster. it comes as the biden administration's new travel restrictions for 8 south african countries take effect. they bar foreign visitors to the u.s. but not american citizens trying to get home other countries such as israel, morocco and japan are launching
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even more drastic steps, banning all travelers as a growing list of countries confirm omicron cases, including canada today new york city reinstituted its indoor mask advisory, regardless of vaccination status. >> we have notification it arrived in ontario, which is literally across the bridge from where i live. i can see canada from my house >> reporter: but with stranded passengers, at johannesburg airport, south africa's president says the global travel restrictions are an over reaction. some doctors there saying the variant symptoms are mild. >> our symptoms are well known >> reporter: but there are mounting questions about omicron's transmissibility, resistance to vaccines and severity of symptoms here is what we know so far based on very limited evidence from south africa, this new strain appears to be highly contagious. here's what we don't know whether the variant is more deadly than previous ones and if our existing vaccines
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work as well against it all three manufacturers in the u.s. are testing them right now. >> it's highly likely that there will be loss of vaccine efficacy and effectiveness. but whether we will really have to tweak the current vaccines, we just don't know we have to wait a couple weeks before we get the key data. >> reporter: moderna's chief medical officer says that omicron's specific vaccine could take months to manufacture. should americans start getting used to the idea that they may need a covid vaccine or covid booster perhaps every year, much like the flu shot >> i think so. these beta coronavirus viruses, we see this they become endemic. they just remain in societies. >> gabe, realistically, how soon can we expect to see a confirmed omicron case here in the u.s. >> reporter: very quickly, lester. the white house says the u.s. is sequencing nearly 80,000 samples per week, more than any other country, so it is only a matter of time, lester. >> all right
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gabe gutierrez in new york tonight thank you. as you heard some of the first alarm bells about this new variant came from south africa where scientists quickly identified it after seeing a covid surge in an area where cases dropped off. richard engel spoke with one of those scientists. >> reporter: gauteng province which surrounds johannesburg is south africa's most populus district and it's what's happening here that's triggered alarm in south africa and now around the world we have been following gauteng for over a year, a district of poor townships only 24% of south africa's population is fully vaccinated gauteng has been hit by wave after wave of covid. cases had dropped off recently because people had already been infected or been vaccinated then along came omicron. dr. richard lessels is one of the first scientists to study the new variant's genetics. >> this is all happening very recently three weeks ago in gauteng province, the case numbers were
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around 100 now they're 2,000, 3,000. we have seen this very rapid rise. >> reporter: what is it about this variant >> whan is this kind of very rapid rise in infection. and we have seen that in a part of the country in a population where we thought that people had a lot of immunity. and the fact that this virus is now spreading so rapidly and so evenly it seems, it is a highly transmissible variant, but also that it may well be able to better get around some of the levels of our immune protection. >> reporter: cases across south africa are up 63% since the start of november. omicron, it seems, is a bee that can sting twice. we still don't know how badly. anecdotally, doctors and nurses describe symptoms as flu-like but many of the cases detected so far here are in young people, expected to be mild anyway, and they have been found early and there is also a lag for symptoms to begin. that lag could mean as
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quickly as this variant was spotted it could already be everywhere >> i expect over the course of this week we're just going to see the number of cases rising. >> reporter: how likely would you say it is that there are already cases in the united states? >> very likely. >> richard, i'm curious what the experience there has been with pcr testing. are they detecting the omicron variant? >> yes, they are, positive so it is not invisible, but with the pcr, which is the more elaborate test, it can take up to 24 hours to get a result. those work they are now checking to see how effective the rapid antigen tests are. what you can get in your pharmacy that give you results in just a few minutes they're still checking on those. >> richard, thank you. we all have so many questions about this, so i spoke with the dean of the brown university school of public health and i asked him what the worst case scenario
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could mean when it comes to this variant. >> i think the worst case scenario is a real substantial hit to our vaccine efficacy, that our vaccines end up working a lot less well than they have so far. i think it is unlikely i think our vaccines will largely hold up, but that is something we're all worried about. >> i know the president, many health experts right now are putting faith and bullish on this idea of booster shots, but is that -- the thought they could work, is that based on theory or actual science? >> boosters generate a really high level of antibodies and even if you have mutations in the virus, the boosters -- the antibody levels should be able to help overcome it. it is not going to be perfect. even boosters might take a little bit of uneffectiveness, but i do think they will help a lot. >> how much more will the unvaccinated be at risk if this thing turns out to be as bad as you fear?
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>> yeah. it's going to be really tough if it turns out to be more contagious than delta. basically every unvaccinated person will end up encountering this virus. that is going to be a very risky situation so if you have not even started getting vaccinated, it is critical people do that now >> the administration for now has taken off the idea of further lockdowns. that said, what should we be thinking individually or as communities in terms of practices that may give us a fighting edge >> yeah. first of all, i totally agree. i think lockdowns are not going to be necessary unless this thing turns out to be way worse than anybody is expecting wear your mask indoors, especially when you are around unvaccinated people and just being a bit careful until we have more information >> thanks to dr. jaw for being with us. opening statements began today in the sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell. a federal prosecutor saying she and jeffrey epstein were partners in crime stephanie gosk has details. >> reporter: facing the jury for the first time, ghislaine maxwell sat listening as a prosecutor accused her of setting
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up young girls for jeffrey epstein. the assistant u.s. attorney telling the court the defendant was trafficking kids for sex. that is what this trial is all about maxwell's lawyers say their client is being blamed for epstein's crimes after the accused sex trafficker took his own life. she is not jeffrey epstein, her defense attorney said. she is a convenient stand in maxwell pleaded not guilty to 6 counts of sex trafficking. over the course of the trial, four accusers will take the stand. one of the women was only 14 the prosecution said when she was approached by epstein and maxwell at a summer camp, which eventually led to her being sexually abused. while the accusers' identities will be kept under seal, others have come forward in recent years, including jennifer, who sued maxwell for playing a role in her alleged abuse. did jeffrey epstein rape you >> yeah. no he raped me, forcefully raped me, knew exactly what he was doing and i don't
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think cared. >> reporter: maxwell denies the lawsuit's allegations. at court today, her family made a public show of support. sister isabelle arrived to a crush of cameras this morning maxwell's siblings have publically lobbied for her to be released on bail. >> the court is starting to feel under the pressure either their own pressure because they lost the man and they're feeling under the public's pressure. >> reporter: the judge denied multiple requests for maxwell to be released the trial now underway is expected to last six weeks. >> stephanie, the prosecution has their first witness a pilot who flew epstein's plane. what did he say? >> reporter: well, lester, he worked for epstein for over a decade he said maxwell was often on epstein's private jet. look, this is someone who got a close look behind the scenes. his testimony has only begun. he'll be taking the stand again tomorrow, lester. >> all right stephanie, thank you
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in chicago, a jury was picked in the trial of actor jussie smollett he is charged with 6 counts of felony disorderly conduct, accused of falsely telling police in 2019 that he was assaulted in a hate crime. in a controversial decision earlier similar charges were dropped. smollett has pleaded not guilty. in just 60 seconds former new york governor cuomo being questioned on allegations of sexual harassment what newly released video show and with empty shelves and high prices, what the government is doing to get answers from big retailers.
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tonight newly released video show former new york governor andrew cuomo being questioned about those allegations of sexual harassment. here's anne thompson. >> reporter: over nearly 11 hours of questioning under oath. >> yes, i do. >> reporter: about allegations of sexual harassment. >> if somebody would have sat on my lap, you know, i wouldn't -- i wouldn't push them off. you know but as a general rule, no.
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>> reporter: then new york governor andrew cuomo was at times testy with investigators. >> you understand what a girlfriend is? >> girlfriend means different things to different people. >> reporter: denying claims by former administration official lindsey boylan that he asked her to play strip poker. >> never happened. >> reporter: disputing that he made an unwanted advance to anna ruch at a wedding. the photo published in "the new york times" >> do you remember asking her on any occasion, can i kiss you? may i kiss you >> no. i don't remember that. >> reporter: videos of cuomo and six of his accusers released today by the new york attorney general's office cuomo will be arraigned in january for allegedly groping an aid's breast at the mansion in december 2020 though not named in the complaint, the story mirrors that of executive assistant brittany commisso. >> i remember his hands just sliding
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right up my blouse. >> reporter: cuomo insists that never happened. >> it would be an act of insanity to touch a woman's breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation. >> reporter: today's release also includes an interview with his brother cnn's chris cuomo and text messages showing he tried to help the governor's staff by checking his sources about new accusers tonight cnn says it will review the attorney general's documents and have conversations over the next few days about how they relate to cnn. lester >> anne thompson, thank you. also tonight just hours left for cyber monday deals it is a big day for amazon, as you can imagine. how is the online retailer keeping up with demand? jo ling kent with an exclusive inside look, and it comes as the feds call for more answers in the supply chain crisis >> reporter: tonight, the fcc ordering major retailers and grocery
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chains to turnover new information on supply chain problems the biden administration seeking data from amazon, walmart, tyson, kroger and others to investigate the, quote, causes of empty shelves and sky high prizes the inquiry following a lackluster black friday both in person and online consumers expected to spend up to $11.3 billion online today, which would shatter records. the online deal frenzy comes after disappointing turnout on black friday. in person shopping down nearly 30%. experts blaming the weak numbers on discounts that kicked off in october shoppers making purchasers earlier than usual to avoid delays in the supply chain. in a supply chain crisis, being big has its advantages amazon has its own plane. this one headed to miami. this is amazon's busiest air hub in the country.
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the company says the fulfillment center process over half a million packages every day. workers sorting alongside robots that zoom across the warehouse. is amazon able to hire enough people to meet demand >> we're set for the holidays we would hire more if we could, but we hired 45,000 people last week it's a tight market. we're seeing unprecedented wage rates and incentives that are necessary to get people onboard for the holidays >> reporter: as companies pay more to staff up, discounts will continue to be shallower. and with so much already sold out, gift cards are rising to the top of many lists. >> they're opting for gift cards to provide some options for future purchasing when the supply chain issues are resolved.
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and up next for us tonight, small as holiday shopping season gets into full swing, stores are seeing a dangerous spike in those smash and grab robberies. we get more from miguel almaguer. >> reporter: the chaotic and increasingly dangerous crime sprees are now unfolding in more cities, san francisco, los angeles, chicago and minneapolis. on some of the busiest shopping days of the year, flash mobs with upwards of 80 people armed with hammers and crowbars are smashing and grabbing their way through high-end retailers as terrified shoppers and employees are threatens with their lives. >> we build this thing with our hands this is our baby and, so, just to see it violated is just -- it's crazy. >> reporter: while well-known luxury retailers are often
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targeted, including those here on rodeo drive, it's often small businesses paying the highest price. union square, a mom and pop jeweler was robbed of $250,000 of goods in three minutes. another retailer nearby is spending $30,000 a month on 24/7 security. the cost of doing business could put many out of business >> it is absolutely organized crime. it does look like chaos, but it is really very, very organized and choreographed. >> reporter: in oakland, their while a news crew covered smash and grab crimes, their security guard was shot and killed. to prevent another disaster, some are reducing hours and allowing fewer people inside for far too many, the most joyful time of the year is quickly becoming more dangerous. miguel almaguer, nbc news up next for us tonight, remembering a man who redefined fashion and inspired so many others
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a golfing trailblazer has died lee elder made history as the first black golfer to play at the masters in 1975. the native texan honed his talent while caddying during segregation. the masters honored elder alongside jack nicklaus and gary player he was 87. tonight the worlds of fashion and design are mourning the loss
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of another trailblazer, virgil abloh who came an inspiring culture force. here's morgan radford. >> reporter: virgil abloh, the barrier breaking fashion superstar died this week at the age of 41 after privately battling a rare form of heart cancer. the first black artistic director of louis vuitton men's wear, bringing contemporary street ware to the most exclusive runways. >> hip hop is just as important as fine art. why is it different. >> reporter: the son of immigrants whose mother taught him to sew, abloh also made his name as a dj and furniture maker with degrees in civil engineering and architecture what do you think his legacy will be >> he was a black man who was at the top of the creative pyramid a lot of younger black designers felt that it was not just his walking through those spaces but he was making room for all of them to do that. >> reporter: abloh's
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career took off when he collaborated with kanye west and later partnered with brands like nike, ikea and evian survived by his wife and two children, tributes for the creator are now pouring in famed harlem designer dapper dan saying his life was a testament to how much black lives matter by showing what black lives are capable of >> who can we empower next >> reporter: capable of and celebrated for. >> life is so short that you can't waste a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do, versus knowing what you can do >> reporter: morgan radford, nbc news new york that's "nightly news" for this monday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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doing to get answers from big retailers. next on nbc bay area news tonight, what are we doing about it locally? the omicron variant, scientists say it has the potential to be the most contagious strain yet. our covid expert joins us to break down what you need to know and how the bay area is prepping for the potential spread. also, elizabeth holmes on the stand and in tears. what she said today about being raped at stanford and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her long-time boyfriend and theranos sfo sunny balwani. also, twitter founder jack dorsey is out, stepping down. why he says it's time to move on. plus -- >> around 11:00 p.m. we heard growling. >> not one, but two mountain lions on one city in the peninsula.

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