News Wrap: Severe winter weather prompts multiple states of emergency

In our news wrap Saturday, blizzards and frigid temperatures gripped much of the U.S., Russian shelling killed at least five people in Kherson, China plans to ease border restrictions with Hong Kong despite a wave of COVID infections in the mainland, Kurds protested in Paris after a deadly shooting at a cultural center, and the Taliban has banned women from working for NGOs in Afghanistan.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    Good evening. It's good to be with you on this Christmas Eve. As we come on the air, a massive cold weather system is marching across much of this country. Many Americans will see their coldest Christmas in decades as it falls below 10 degrees in some areas, with wind chills bringing some temperatures below zero.

    At least a dozen states, so far, have declared states of emergency. From upstate New York across the Midwest, blizzard conditions and near-zero visibility have made driving dangerous. Vehicle pileups are responsible for nearly a dozen deaths on the roads.

    With high winds bringing down trees, over 1 million homes and businesses are without power east of the Mississippi. Nearly 6,000 flights were canceled yesterday and thousands more were grounded today.

    In the news overseas, Russian shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson has killed at least five people and left dozens more wounded. Today marks exactly 10 months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started.

    Regional authorities released grisly images from the blast, scorched cars and blown out windows, trails of blood on the streets and sidewalks. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine may experience increased Russian attacks over the Christmas holiday.

    Hong Kong's leader today announced that China has agreed to ease border pandemic restrictions with the mainland starting in mid-January. That's as China grapples with a wave of COVID infections that are leaving many hospitals outside the capital, Beijing, overwhelmed.

    The Chinese government, though, has only reported seven COVID deaths since loosening its restrictive zero COVID policies in the last month. The World Health Organization warns that the Chinese are likely undercounting.

    Thousands gathered on the streets of Paris today, in protests that, at times, turned into violent clashes with police. Many of the protesters were ethnic Kurds, calling for justice after their community was rocked by a shooting at a cultural center yesterday that killed three people.

    Authorities say the accused attacker has a history of racist violence. The clashes are happening at a time of increased concern about hate crimes in France, since a number of far-right voices have gained prominence there.

    In Afghanistan, the Taliban-run government has banned women from working for foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations until further notice. A Taliban spokesperson says it is because some women have been breaking strict dress codes.

    This past week, Taliban rulers banned female students from attending universities, a move that drew protests and criticism.

    Still to come on PBS NEWS WEEKEND, recommendations on which wine and spirits to try out this holiday season. And a grandmother and grandson take on the national parks.

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