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CNN NEWSROOM

Israel Fuming Over U.N. Security Council Resolution; Historic Visit to Pearl Harbor; Fans and Celebrities Remember Carrie Fisher; Bombing in Afghan Capital Wounds Member of Parliament; Largest Filipino Drug Bust. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 28, 2016 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:46] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And ahead this hour, japans' prime minister at pearl Harbor, offering condolences 75 years after the surprise attack on the United States.

CHURCH: John Kerry prepares to deliver a speech on Middle East peace as Israel accuses the Obama administration of shady moves at the U.N.

HOWELL: And she was born into Hollywood royalty. She reigned as a princess in a galaxy far, far away. We remember the life and the legacy of Carrie Fisher.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

HOWELL: It is 2:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. A symbol of reconciliation. That is how the prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe described Pearl Harbor.

CHURCH: Mr. Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama stood together in Hawaii, paying tribute to those who died in the Japanese attack 75 years ago. Both leaders asserted their nation's alliance.

CNN's Athena Jones reports.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. A historic day here at Pearl Harbor, a moment 75 years in the making, and pictures and videos the likes of which we've never seen before.

These two leaders, a U.S. president and a Japanese prime minister, are going together to the USS Arizona Memorial to pay their respects to the fallen. Both leaders later delivering emotional moving remarks. Both leaders evoking the sights and sounds of that day in 1941 when more than 2400 people never made it home.

President Obama saying that Abe's presence here shows what is possible between nations and how two former foes can become the closest of allies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As nations and as people we cannot choose the history that we inherit. But we can choose what lessons to draw from it. And use those lessons to chart our own futures.

Wars can end. The most bitter of adversaries can become the strongest of allies. The fruits of peace always outweigh the plunder of war. This is the enduring truth of this hallowed harbor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Prime Minister Abe saying that his visit to the USS Arizona left him speechless. Here's more of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (Through Translator): As the prime minister of Japan I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place. And also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And so there you heard the Japanese prime minister offering his sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here but not offering an apology for the actions his nation took here 75 years ago. But it's important to note that President Obama speaking at Hiroshima in May also declined to offer an apology for the U.S. action there, the dropping of the atomic bomb. Both leaders choosing instead to deliver forward-looking messages focusing on the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Athena Jones, CNN, Pearl Harbor.

CHURCH: Meanwhile, U.S.-Israeli relations are fraying over a U.N. resolution calling for Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.

HOWELL: The United States abstained on that vote and that allowed the measure to pass. Israel says that it has evidence that the White House pushed for the resolution. The United States denies that claim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: We reject the notion that the United States was a driving force behind this resolution. That's just not true. The United States did not draft this resolution. Nor did it put it forward. It was drafted and initially introduced, as we all know, by Egypt in coordination with the Palestinians and others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Israel says it will advance its plans to build hundreds of new homes in east Jerusalem despite the resolution.

[02:05:01] HOWELL: Just a couple of hours from now the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will give a speech on peace in the Middle East.

CHURCH: He plans to talk about the way ahead. But in less than a month he and his boss, President Barack Obama, will be out of office.

Oren Liebermann has more details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was very much aware that Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to give a speech laying out the vision of the Obama administration for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And yet the way things stand right with how bad relations are and how much worse they have gotten in the last few days between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, this speech and the inevitable Netanyahu response is likely just to become another step, another stage of the ongoing fight between these two that we've seen in recent days. It's certainly not likely to endear Obama to Netanyahu any more over these last few days.

Netanyahu has already made it very clear that Israel has no intention of abiding by the Security Council resolution that Netanyahu blames squarely on President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. In fact, when it came to building in east Jerusalem, the city -- that is to say the city of Jerusalem has plans to build hundreds of more units in east Jerusalem.

It's important to note those plans were on the books even before the Security Council vote. And yet that's exactly the point. The city of Jerusalem, the deputy mayor who we spoke with says they're not changing any of their plans because of the Security Council resolution. And the response both from Netanyahu and from the Israeli government is likely to be the same to the Kerry speech.

Both sides here, that is to say the Israelis and the Palestinians, will wait and see what it is that Kerry lays out, what is the vision and how will the Obama administration handle some of the most sensitive and complex issues of the conflict. That is to say, the status of Jerusalem borders, the Palestinian refugees and more.

And yet depending on what Kerry calls for, this might be a very difficult speech for either Israelis or Palestinians to accept because I suspect he'll call on both sides to make difficult concessions on their way to what the Obama administration says would be a peace plan and a Palestinian state living by an Israeli state.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Donald Trump is congratulating himself with some positive economic news. On Tuesday he tweeted, "The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points. The highest level in more than 15 years. Thanks Donald."

HOWELL: In the meantime, the president-elect has selected another top adviser. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight Donald Trump is filling a critical West Wing position, tapping a veteran of the George W. Bush administration to oversee homeland security, counterterrorism, and cyber threats.

Thomas Bossert, a deputy homeland security adviser in the Bush White House, will have an expanded role in Trump's.

TOM BOSSERT, INCOMING DEPUTY HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The government in the United States on a federal level needs to do something to address the threat.

ZELENY: Bossert, seen here at a 2013 cybersecurity conference, will work alongside retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who Trump already named as national security adviser. Trump aides tell CNN Bossert will be on equal footing with Flynn, whose portfolio is primarily international threats.

BOSSERT: There's nobody out there that can't be penetrated. If there's not -- if there is, I'd like to know about them.

ZELENY: The choice has some establishment Republicans and Trump critics breathing a sigh of relief after Flynn's appointment stirred controversy. Yet it's an interesting selection for Trump, who became a sharp critic of the Iraq war after initially supporting it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look at the war in Iraq and the mess we're in. I would never have handled it that way.

ZELENY: Ten years ago this week Saddam Hussein was executed. For his part Bossert was a proponent of the Iraq war. As he wrote last year in the "Washington Times," "To be clear, the use of military force against Iraq and Afghanistan was and remains just. Hussein's behavior and the intelligence at the time led Mr. Bush to conclude the use of military force to remove him was not only just but necessary."

TRUMP: These are great people. And they're amazing people.

ZELENY: All this as Trump is rounding out his team during his working holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Two Cabinet positions remain. Veterans Affairs and Agriculture. CNN has learned both posts could be filled this week.

Tonight Trump also still coming to terms with unwinding his business interests and dissolving his foundation before taking office. Amid questions about potential conflicts of interest. He defended his philanthropy on Twitter,. "I gave millions of dollars to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, raised or received millions more, all of which is given to charity and media won't report." Yet tax records show Trump has not personally donated to his

foundation since 2008. The foundation is under investigation by the New York attorney general's office.

Twenty-four days until Trump takes office, his inaugural committee is bracing for protesters. A spokesman says Trump will hear the concerns of those demonstrating at the Women's March on Washington.

[02:10:02] BORIS EPSHTEYN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION COMMITTEE: We're here to hear their concerns and we understand that people have concerns but we welcome them to our side as well. We hope some of those who come to D.C. change their mind, instead of protesting come celebrate with us.

ZELENY (on camera): Of course it's an open question whether any of the protesters expected to gather in Washington over the inauguration weekend will actually end up celebrating Donald Trump. It's highly doubtful. But as Donald Trump looks forward to creating his own administration, he's still spending at least some time in the waning days of this year looking back, firing off one more tweet at President Obama, reminding him that he campaigned across the country for Hillary Clinton and in Donald Trump's words, "he lost."

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

Two leading Senate Republicans are criticizing President-elect Trump for his dismissal of Russian hacking allegations.

CHURCH: John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on a trip to the Baltics right now, in fact, and they spoke with CNN's Jim Sciutto during a stop in Estonia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Committee that Russia, led by Putin, the dictator and the thug as you describe him, that Russia hacked the U.S. election. Senator Graham, are you concerned that Trump is in effect siding with a dangerous adversary of the United States against his own intelligence agencies?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, when I heard that President-elect Trump basically dismissed the intelligence, I was very shocked because I've been briefed by the FBI. There's no doubt in my mind that Russia hacked into our political systems, that it was Russian groups that hacked into Podesta's e-mail at the DNC, they hacked into my campaign account.

Reince Priebus said that the president-elect would accept the results if all the intelligence communities on the same sheet of music. Well, now the FBI and the CIA and the -- director of National Intelligence all are saying the same thing, that the Russians tried to influence our elections.

SCIUTTO: Do you have any explanation for why the president-elect still refuses to then accept that assessment? Particularly know that he's being briefed presumably on the classified intelligence that led to that assessment.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, Jim, I think he will be when presented with the overwhelming evidence change his view. And he has said some things like he wants to spend more money on Defense. He has said some favorable things about NATO. But on the issue of the Russians, I mean, there is no doubt about it, and we have to act and we have to have a policy, which this administration does not have. And a strategy which this administration does not have. And address this threat to our national security. If they're able to undermine an election, they're able then to undermine democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: All right. We'll take a break here. But coming up, a bright light of the "Star Wars" galaxy goes out much too soon. We will look back at Carrie Fisher's life and legacy. That's next.

HOWELL: Plus, a look at mayhem and violence at U.S. shopping malls. Why investigators are looking into the impact of social media. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SPORTS HEADLINES)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The princess is gone. There will be nobody like her ever again. Leia lives in everybody's hearts. And everybody's soul and has taken us into the future and beyond. She will be missed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Lovely words there.

HOWELL: Indeed.

CHURCH: Tributes pouring in from celebrities and fans around the world remembering beloved icon Carrie Fisher. The actress best known for her role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" films died on Tuesday. She was 60 years old.

HOWELL: Long-time friend and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas issued this statement, "In 'Star Wars' she was our great and powerful princess. Feisty, wise, and fulfill hope in a role that was more difficult than most people think."

CHURCH: Fisher's "Star Wars" co-star Harrison Ford says, "Carrie was one of a kind, brilliant, original, funny, and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely. We will all miss her."

HOWELL: Now for a look back at the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher, here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS/AUTHOR: I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carrie Fisher won the hearts of generations as Princess Leia in arguably the most beloved movie franchise ever, "Star Wars." Princess on screen, Hollywood royalty off it, with a sharp wit and sharper pen. Fisher was born in Beverly Hills. Mother actress Debbie Reynolds, father singer Eddie Fisher.

FISHER: I was primarily brought up by my mother, but I saw my father.

ELAM: Fisher deftly wove her experiences as a show business kid who struggled with addiction into the best-selling comedic novel "Postcards from the Edge."

FISHER: I was writing different takes on obsession. So I think of that as sort of the edge, and I thought of it in the car one day driving back from Palm Springs with the music up loud.

ELAM: Fisher turned her acclaimed book into a movie starring Meryl Streep as a recovering addict embroiled in constant, often funny mother-daughter drama.

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Remember my 17th birthday party when you lifted your skirt up in front of all those people? Including my guy Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not lift my skirt. It swirled up.

ELAM: Fisher poked fun at the absurdities of showbiz life and all manner of self-medication, including taking pills to control her emotions.

FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer. So whether -- you feel better, but then you're fat. So what you gain is a loss. It's not a good situation.

ELAM: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turned pain into humor, also writing "Wishful Drinking" and "Shockaholic."

There seemed no lack of material, after all, Elizabeth Taylor became her stepmother when Eddie Fisher remarried. Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon in the 1980s. Years later she gave birth to a daughter Billie Catherine from her relationship with agent Brian Lourd. She debuted in the acclaimed film, "Shampoo."

FISHER: I am nothing like my mother.

ELAM: In between the "Star Wars" movies, Fisher landed a mishmash of movie roles, some stinkers, "Under the Rainbow," "Hollywood Vice Squad."

[02:20:08] FISHER: If you want names for every part of your body.

ELAM: Received praise for "Soap Dish."

FISHER: I think we found our waiter.

ELAM: And played Meg Ryan's wisecracking friend in when "When Harry Met Sally."

FISHER: Someone is staring at you in the first --

ELAM: But nothing could, would or perhaps should loom larger on screen than Fisher in "Star Wars."

FISHER: It transported you. It was extraordinarily entertainment filmmaking.

LARRY KING, TV HOST: Do you like the princess?

FISHER: I have her over sometimes. She is a little bitchy, you know.

ELAM: Nearly 40 years after making "Star Wars," she wrote a book based on her diaries, and for the first time revealed an intense affair with the real Han Solo, Harrison Ford. "It was Han and Leia during the week and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend," she wrote. Ford has not commented.

Fisher spent a lifetime trying to separate the princess from the person, one wisecrack at a time.

FISHER: I always felt like I was restricted because I was bigger than life and twice as unpleasant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Incredible life there. And CNN media critic Brian Lowry joins us again live from Los Angeles.

As we heard there, Carrie Fisher recently revealed that romance between herself and Harrison Ford. Let's take a quick look if we can at the chemistry between the two of them on screen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FISHER: Stop that.

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: Stop what?

FISHER: Stop that. My hands are dirty.

FORD: My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?

FISHER: Afraid?

FORD: You're trembling. FISHER: I'm not trembling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And Brian, interestingly Harrison Ford hasn't commented on the revelation of this affair between the two of them. But they were clearly very close, weren't they? Let's talk about that and her incredible talent as both an actress and an author.

BRIAN LOWRY, CNN MEDIA CRITIC: Well, yes. I mean, that was really in a way the sort of soul of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, was that relationship. And you know, there's -- it got much richer, actually, with the "Empire Strikes Back," which was the scene we just saw where that relationship took root and grew. But Carrie Fisher was a -- you know, a talented actress but really made a name for herself in a number of different areas. She was an extremely accomplished writer, wrote a number of books about her life, some semi-autobiographical, some fully autobiographical. And she was a well-known script doctor who was sought after to do punch-up and rewrites on a number of films including films like "Sister Act" and "Hook."

HOWELL: She had a self-deprecating sense of humor. People who knew her, they say that she was tough. She'd been through a lot in her life. Some issues very near and dear to her heart like her advocacy for mental illness and for drug addiction. Fisher even talked openly about this. Her own struggles. Listen here to this clip from 1990 with Larry King on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FISHER: I liked -- I didn't like illegal drugs. I liked legal drugs. So I liked medicine. Because I liked the philosophy of it. You're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these. And I always wanted to feel better. And one of the side effects of Percodan is euphoria, and I thought that was a side effect that I could easily live with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So look, I mean, she was remembered as Princess Leia. Obviously "Star Wars." But she was also remembered for this as well and really speaking out about it.

LOWRY: She was. And she was very adept at it. I mean, there are ways you can do that and it can make people uncomfortable. And she was extremely funny about it. She was someone who grew up in Hollywood, was raised by Hollywood parents, but who could look at the town from a distance and write about it in a very honest, open, and often very funny way. And she turned that into books. She turned that into her one-woman show which became an HBO special which was in places riotously funny. She talked about being born to simple folk and thanked George Lucas for her stalkers. So she was --

(LAUGHTER)

HOWELL: Her stalkers. Wow. LOWRY: Someone who really -- you know, who really saw the sort of

absurdity of the fame she enjoyed and the life that she had lived.

CHURCH: Yes. It's an incredible loss, isn't it? And much as she tried to pull herself away from that role, it is really Princess Leia in "Star Wars" that defines her to this day, isn't it?

LOWRY: Well, it is. You know, and a lot of actors deal with that in different ways. Some completely embrace it and others sort of shy away from it. And I think in an interesting way she was able to do a little bit of both. She could enjoy "Star Wars" and sort of come back to it.

You know, we have to remember that the last movie of the original trilogy was in 1983. It took a long time for them to get back.

[02:25:03] But the franchise has been so popular and been introduced to new generations and parents introducing it to their kids that -- which will go on forever. That Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia will be a part of people's lives for years and years to come.

HOWELL: Indeed. In the movies but certainly in the legacy. You know, the things that she did in her life. The impact that she had on so many people.

Brian Lowry, CNN media critic, thank you so much for being with us.

CHURCH: Thank you.

LOWRY: Thank you.

HOWELL: Well, the holiday season draws huge crowds to U.S. shopping malls, of course. I'm sure you've been out to those malls, and it can be a mess out there. And it can get ugly at times.

CHURCH: It can. But this year a string of similar brawls is raising questions about whether they were linked nationwide.

Our Jean Casarez looks at the rash of mass panic attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At shopping malls around the country day after Christmas crowds trying to find the best bargains of the year turned shopping adventures into a mass exodus fearing the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About three ladies came running in our direction and screaming.

CASAREZ: The incidents all occurring within hours of each other. The facts seem to play out in the same way at every mall. Tweets show that as the events were unfolding initial reports at a majority of malls were shots fired. Reports of weapons were false but instilled that initial fear for holiday shoppers, who were scared for their life and just trying to get to safety. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly assumed they were going to be followed

by a guy with an automatic weapon ready to, you know, just mass casualties.

CASAREZ: This is cell phone video in Aurora, Illinois, people rushing down the escalators to find an exit. The same thing in Long Island, New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was with my son and my wife, and my son fell down. They almost ran over him. It was pretty intense.

CASAREZ: While this is happening fights break out in mall food courts. Fayetteville, North Carolina. And in Aurora, Colorado, large numbers of people seem to already know what is going to happen.

SGT. CHRIS AMSLER, AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT: One of our officers was attempting to make an arrest of two people that were fighting. The crowd began to circle our officers.

CASAREZ: Aurora, Colorado, investigators believe there was a social media nexus.

AMSLER: There was something that was going around on social media about a fight that was going to take place here.

CASAREZ: As police across the country look to see if these cases are connected, one law enforcement expert says if anything these incidents show how easy it is to create mass panic.

STEVEN ROGERS, FORMER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Certainly it was what we call targets of opportunity. Whoever's responsible for this, and we don't know if they're all tied in, that's being investigated, but they knew there would be crowds. They knew that they could create a lot of havoc.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: President Barack Obama has handled many global crises during his two terms in office. Next here on NEWSROOM the latest challenge that he will hand off to the president-elect.

CHURCH: Plus North Korea races to complete its nuclear weapons program. A live report later this hour. Do stay with us.

[02:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to you all, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. 2:31 in the morning here on the U.S. east coast, the headlines are following for you this hour.

(HEADLINES) HOWELL: The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor Tuesday, offering (ph) condolences to the many lives lost in the Japanese attack on America 75 years ago. Mr. Abe and the U.S. President Barak Obama spoke of reconciliation and affirmed their nations alliance.

CHURCH: Fans and celebrities around the world are remembering Carrie Fisher. The iconic actress, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies died on Tuesday. Fisher suffered and apparent heart attack during a flight on Friday, she was 60 years old.

HOWELL: In the Afghan capital, a bombing there (ph) wounded a member of Parliament, his son and wounded three other people Wednesday. The attack targeted their vehicle in Kabul. No one has claimed responsibility at that point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (voice-over): This is the haul (ph) from the biggest drug bust in the Philippines' history. Police seized more than 890 kilos of methamphetamine, known locally as Shabu. The justice secretary says the drugs have a street value of about $121 million. 10 people were arrested in the raid

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Just weeks before he leaves office and foreign policy is at the forefront for the U.S. President Barak Obama and for his critics. The president is facing major international challenges including the latest U.N. security council vote that has Israeli leaders fuming.

CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight Israel announced plans to build hundreds of knew settlement units in east Jerusalem in defiance of a U.N. vote calling them illegal; and sharpened attacks on the U.S., accusing the White House of orchestrating the vote.

UNKNOWN MALE (on camera): It's deeply, deeply disappointing to the state of Israel.

LABOTT (voice-over): As President Obama deals with the fallout, new (ph) questions about the world he is leaving to his successor, something he reflected on in his last press conference.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (on camera): There're places around the world where horrible things are happening. And because of my office, because I'm president of the United States, I feel responsible.

LABOTT (voice-over): Take Syria; after calling for President Assad's (ph) ouster (ph) six years ago, the civil war wages on. A political vacuum in Syria and neighboring Iraq paved (ph) the way for ISIS to rise. President Obama's reluctance to go, what he called, all in meant he only offered limited support to moderate rebels.

OBAMA (on camera): We wanted to do something and it sounded like the right thing to do. But it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap.

LABOTT (voice-over): Meanwhile, Russian airstrikes helped regime forces tighten their grip. Now, Aleppo in ruins, a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds. Russian President Putin also on the march in Europe.

Seizing Crimea from Ukraine and moving nuclear-capable missiles to NATO's doorstep. While an aggressive china expands its reach in the South China Sea. Experts say president Obama's restraint emboldened America's adversaries.

UNKNOWN MALE (on camera): He's made clear that he does not see the United States leading a global security system against those predator states; be it China, be it Iran, North Korea, be it Russia; that are challenging the status quo.

OBAMA: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

LABOTT (voice-over): An early offer to engage with America's foes led to a landmark nuclear deal with Iran. But it didn't stop Iranian aggression. President-Elect Donald Trump has threatened to tear up that deal or renegotiate it.

With three weeks to go until Trump takes over, world leaders are watching with hope and concern about this promise from the new commander in chief.

[02:35:15] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT (on camera): It's time to shake the rust off America's foreign policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's nothing wrong with unorthodox approaches. The question is what is the basic bottom line? Is Vladimir Putin; are the Chinese people who we can share an orderly world with? The jury is out on both of those.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LABOTT: Secretary of State Kerry will deliver a major speech Wednesday at the state Department; laying out a vision for how he believes the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved. And then it will be up to the Trump administration to decide whether to take that advice or go its own route.

Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Joining us now is David Rohde, a CNN global affairs analyst and national security investigations editor for Reuters. He is in New York. Thank you so much for being with us.

So it appears Israel is now thumbing its nose at the U.N. security council by advancing plans to build hundreds of new homes in east Jerusalem despite the

U.N. security council passing that resolution demanding an end to these settlements. What does this signal, do you think?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think a (ph) determination by Prime Minister Netanyahu to push ahead with these settlements. He's clearly extremely angry at the United States and the Obama administration in particular for not vetoing this resolution.

He argues that it would lead to less chances for peace and these new settlements do endanger the peace process. So it's an escalation from the Israeli side.

CHURCH: And Israel is still insisting it has evidence to prove the U.S. was pushing for this resolution, even orchestrated it apparently; that according to Israel. The U.S. denies that claim. What do you think? What proof do you think Israel has on this?

ROHDE: It's hard for me to say, I don't know. You know, again, the Israelis say they have this evidence. There was a trip where Secretary of State John Kerry was in New Zealand. That's where some Israeli officials have alleged there were some talks possibly about this resolution.

The U.S., the Obama administration, flatly denies that. Other diplomats from the security council say the U.S. never made its position clear on the resolution until the vote itself. So again, a very, very bitter fallout between the Netanyahu cabinet and administration and the Obama administration, and it's unprecedented.

It will all change in a few weeks with Donald Trump taking office. But there expects to be -- there'll be more of this in the coming days I think.

CHURCH: Indeed. And I wanted to ask you about that. Because I wonder how different will U.S.-Israeli relations likely be once the Trump administration is sworn in? And what do you expect Mr. Trump to do about this U.N security council resolution that was passed Friday?

ROHDE: He's dismissed the U.N. as a body and he's criticized this resolution. He lobbied against it; he made a call to Egypt to ask them not to introduce the resolution. Four other countries went ahead and did that.

And he's appointed an ambassador that supports -- a new U.S. ambassador to Israel that supports more settlements. You know, the direct opposite of the Obama administration's position. So it will be a very different situation on January 20th.

There is now news that tomorrow the current secretary of state, John Kerry will give a speech outlining the Obama administration's vision for a two state settlement. This close to the end of their term it's hard to see what impact that would have.

But, you know, if Kerry gives this speech as planned, that will just add to more recriminations between Netanyahu and Obama as the end of Obama's term approaches.

CHURCH: And I have to ask, of course, where does this all leave efforts for peace in the Middle East?

ROHDE: It doesn't appear to be improving them. George Mitchell, a former U.S. envoy on the Mideast Peace, he has said this resolution and the fallout politically is pushing peace farther away. The danger is that this is popular to the pro-settlement sort of base that supports Netanyahu.

Will that lead to, you know, more radical elements that oppose a peace deal and the Palestinians? You know, will (ph) you see protests there? And so, if you're feeling the extremes on either side, that does make a peace less likely. It's a very unusual situation and we'll see what John Kerry says tomorrow.

CHURCH: All right, we'll have to just do that indeed. David Rohde, thank you so much for being with us, appreciate it.

ROHDE: Thank you.

HOWELL: A former North Korean diplomat has a dire warning about Kim Jong Un's nuclear weapons program. We have a live report ahead.

[02:40:10] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: And welcome back to all. It appears that Pyongyang is rushing to complete its nuclear weapons program. A high-profile defector from North Korea says Kim Jong Un wants it developed by the end of next year at all costs.

HOWELL: CNN's Saima Mohsin is following this story live this hour in Seoul, South Korea. Saima, good to have you with us. Thae Yong-ho was a top diplomat at the North Korean embassy in London and he does have (ph) a stark message for the world.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDANT: Yes, that's exactly, George. And that's why his words come with so much weight. He was deputy ambassador of North Korea's embassy in London. He defected in (ph) the summer and made his first social -- sorry, his first media briefing with South Korean local media yesterday.

And in (ph) speaking to them he said he believes that Kim Jong Un will follow his nuclear development program at all costs and is determined to complete it by the end of 2017. Now, this means that it's a race against time as far as North Korea is concerned to complete its nuclear development ambitions.

Thae Yong-ho also told local media it doesn't really matter what North Korea or Kim Jong Un is offered in return; whether it be $1 trillion or $10 trillion. He won't stop his nuclear ambitions. As long as Kim Jong Un is in power, North Korea will complete its nuclear development program, he said.

He said it's not about economic incentives. And crucially, why 2017? Well, George, that's because we're going to have, of course, now President-Elect Trump, then President Trump in the White House in 2017.

Here in South Korea, of course, you know that I've been following the protests against President Park Geun-hye. She will leave, as we're seeing now unfold, be impeached or step down and there will be a presidential election.

[02:45:13] So more transition time here in Seoul. So apparently, Pyongyang is now counting on this transition period. Counting on two new Administrations in Washington, D.C. and Seoul to be in place; unable to take military action against North Korea.

And so they feel this is the ideal time to make some progress on their nuclear ambitions. Simultaneously, apparently Kim Jong Un believes that he will come to the table for dialogue but only once he's redressed that balance of power.

Once North Korea is a nuclear state, it's then that he would be willing to approach some kind of dialogue with Washington and Seoul. And, by the way, North Korea hasn't made any response to these statements from Thae Yong-ho over the last few days.

But when he defected in the summer they called him a criminal and said that he was under investigation, and that's probably why he escaped. That was at the time. No update on that.

But Thae Yong-ho is actually under the protection of the South Korean government now. And he says that he won't stop until he helps dismantle Kim Jong Un's regime to save his people from approaching nuclear disaster. George, Rosemary?

HOWELL: No doubt there are some alarming concerns being raised by this top diplomat. CNN international correspondent Saima Mohsin live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Saima, thank you for the reporting.

CHURCH: Well 2016 has been tough for the entertainment industry. We've seen so much political division around the globe and devastating images of war. We will talk to a sociologist about coping with the pain. That's up next.

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(WEATHER REPORT)

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HOWELL: The Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday. She was 60 years old, and her colleagues from that movie are sharing their memories of the person that so many people knew as Princess Leia.

Fisher of course was best known for that role; a galactic princess and diplomat on screen, an actress taking on a revolutionary role in real life. Billy Dee Williams said in a tweet, "the force is dark today." Mark Hamill says that he will miss Fisher's laughter, her wisdom and her kindness.

CHURCH: Fisher is just the latest artistic loss of 2016. Here's a look back at some of the actors we've lost this year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABE BIGODA: Tell Mike it was it was only business. I always liked him.

GARRY SHANDLING: I think he means mink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she (ph) was from Minsk (ph).

UNKNOWN FEMALE (off screen): She was so filled with pain and the need to be perfect.

DORIS ROBERTS: She's everybody's pain in the neck, you know. She is a mother-in-law from hell.

FLORENCE HENDERSON: I created the kind of mother that I wished I'd had.

ALAN THICKE (on camera): Your sister is not the type who flirts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all are, dad.

GENE WILDER: Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.

PETER OSTRUM: What happened?

GENE WILDER: He lived happily ever after.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Wow. So many lost (ph).

HOWELL: So many indeed.

CHURCH: And of course coping with the grief of 2016 has not been easy. Besides all the celebrities we lost, the year was marked by a (ph) war in Syria, the migrant crisis in Europe, and deep political division over Brexit, and of course the U.S. election.

HOWELL: We spoke earlier with sociologist Anna Akbari. Her book, Start Up Your Life, Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness, just released on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA AKIBARI, SOCIOLOGIST: As we were just reflecting on all the great artists that we've lost, and I think we're feeling that in particular more acutely right now because of all the other atrocities that are going on. Anytime we're at a moment where there's unrest and a time of great transformation, that's when we need our entertainers the most.

Because they're so much more than entertainers; they're the people that give us guidance, that give us emotional support, that help us to make sense of the world. But I think what we can remember at a time like this is that creativity loves a void. And so I think the space, the emptiness that we're feeling is really an opportunity for new voices to rise up and to create and express and to contribute.

HOWELL: You know, as a journalist I'm used to seeing so many different things. I'm a new parent and now certain images just hit me a lot harder than maybe they did before.

CHURCH: Yes.

HOWELL: You're a mother, I'm a father. But even if you're not a parent, just simply humanity makes you really think about this image -- if we can show it. I'm sure the world remembers little Umran (ph).

These are the images of war; this is what happened after a home was bombed in Aleppo. And these images, they're heartbreaking and they are constantly, you know, at our fingertips. These images of war, the questions about politics in the United States and around the world.

That stream is right here at your fingertips. You just scroll through your social media platform and there it is. Maybe you're not prepared for it, but you see it and you feel the emotions there. How do people deal with that?

AKIBARI: Well, it certainly weighs heavily. And as the new year rolls around, unfortunately, there is no single new year's resolution that's going to make it all better. But I'm reminded of the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, that we

don't have to become heroes overnight.

[02:55:25] And so I think if we remember that and we think about what 2016 has given us -- because it's given us a platform for growth and change. Because, you know, greatness doesn't come from perfection; it comes from adversity. And certainly 2016 has dished up plenty of that.

So if we really reflect on this year, we can see it as nudging us from our complacency and giving us a call to action. From which we can really spring forward and grow in ways perhaps we didn't think were previously imaginable.

HOWELL: That's a great point.

CHURCH: Of course we saw -- in Britain, the United States, and across Europe, we're seeing politics divide people in extreme ways. Political differences even putting strain on families over the holidays.

What do you say to people about those divides we see? And just how unusual is this? And maybe if we can work in the title of your book here, how you hack your way to happiness.

HOWELL: Yes (ph).

CHURCH: I love the title. What is the key here? AKIBARI: Well, you know, one of the concepts that I talk about in the book, that's something that start-ups use all the time is a pivot. And essentially a pivot is just a euphemism for failure.

But what start-ups do is they take those failures, they take those mistakes and those challenges, they reflect on them and they repackage it into something new and different and better. And I --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: A little optimism there with just a few days to go in (ph) 2016.

CHURCH: Yes (ph), on (ph) that) --

HOWELL: Thank you for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news after this short break. And you're getting out of here.

HOWELL: I'll take a break. Thank (ph) you (ph).

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