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Russian Malware Targets Vermont Utility; U.S.-Russia Relations During Trump Presidency; Putin Congratulates Trump, Not Obama In Statement; Colder Weather Heading Into 2017; Times Square Security for New Year's Eve; 2016 Sports Highlights; Update on Case of Michael Skakel; Supreme Court Justices; Police Shooting in Pennsylvania; Report on Climate Change; Report on Hong Kong in the 21st Century. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 31, 2016 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: -- Mr. Martin, OK, the countdown, here it is, Sydney, Australia, ringing in the New Year. There they go, folks, live to Sydney Harbor.


PAUL: It's very intense music they have going on with that.

SAVIDGE: Nice fireworks going on. Sydney, one of my favorite cities in all of the world. Let's go live now to Sky News reporter, Amy Greenbank. She's there and hopefully able to hear us and talk about what she's seeing -- Amy.

AMY GREENBANK, SKY NEWS REPORTER: Well, happy 2017 to you in the U.S. Sydney is the first major city to ring in the New Year or at least we would like to think we lead the world in the celebrations. Of course, we're doing it in style.

This year we're bringing it to you live from the top of the Sydney Skyscraper, just take a look at this bird's eye view. Now the harbor is being lit up with 30 tons of fireworks that are now exploding in the skies above.

The pyrotechnics display has honored and music entertainment legends we lost this year, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Prince. And what we are about to see on the bridge is a golden sunlight up to honor the world's (inaudible) indigenous people paying tribute to aboriginals.

That golden sun will be the center piece of the bridge which you will see shortly. Around 1.5 million people are here. Security has been extra tight this year as the threat level, the terror threat level remains probable.

There are around 2,000 extra police officers patrolling the waterways and the streets to keep Australians safe this New Year's Eve and right now just look at this. Isn't it spectacular? Not just the bridge fireworks being lit from barges underneath, exploding across the skyline.

It is the biggest and the brightest light display they're telling us yet, so record crowds and a record light display to match. They're saying it's going to be so bright it will be reflected right down the harbor.

SAVIDGE: Wow. That is spectacular. Amy Greenbank, thank you very much as she is reporting to us from the future. It's already 2017 there. We are still waiting back here in the past.

PAUL: Pretty good point.

SAVIDGE: Yes, well. Let's move along.

National outrage now after a Vermont utility company found Russian hacking malware on one of its computers. This after officials confirmed that a code used with the Russian hacking operation was protected.

And although this was not connected to the company's electrical grid system, it still does expose the nation's vulnerability to foreign threats. What were the Russians intending to do? CNN's Polo Sandoval has more on the details -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guys, good morning. You know, this move shows that the Russians are trying to penetrate our grid and carry out an attack. Vermont utility company, Burlington Electric, now reporting that it found malware on one of its laptops after similar companies received a nationwide alert from the Department of Homeland Security.

The warning was specifically cyber threats, what the federal government refers to as grizzly was on the computer here in question. This is the same malware that was used to influence the election in November. The company saying that the laptop was not connected to the power grid that serves close to 20,000 customers. Had it been this could have been potentially catastrophic.

But nonetheless, it is concerting for officials including the governor of Vermont responding in a statement. I want to read you a portion of that statement in which he is clearly expressing some outrage here.

He says, quote, "This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put to an end the sort of Russian meddling. I call upon the federal government to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure this never happens again."

This government warning that initially led to the big red flag and the discovery of this vulnerability. Again, this is all part of a massive about 13-page report that was issued by the Obama administration to utility companies and similar entities.

[08:05:09]The recommendation here, Martin and Christi, is for some of these organizations, companies to take a hard look at some of their network security systems -- guys.

SAVIDGE: Polo, real quick, beyond that, though, anything else that they recommend they should do? I mean, is the U.S. government actively going to help -- try to help them protect this infrastructure?

SANDOVAL: We do that federal officials have been involved and recommending some of these private companies and also public companies to try to really close in on some of their network security because they are very familiar with what's happened.

For example, in Ukraine in December of 2015, when a fairly similar cyber-attack that crippled hundreds of towns there, many towns, many homes losing power. Officials here in the U.S. are very familiar with what can happen particularly here in the winter.

So I think to answer your question, we could see a revamped effort by the feds to try to make sure these organizations are aware that the threat is very real.

SAVIDGE: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much for that report -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, I want to talk about what is happening with Vladimir Putin because he is congratulating Donald Trump. The question is what will Donald Trump do beyond this? He is getting President Obama the cold shoulder, Vladimir Putin is, in this year's statement, his New Year's statement.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, as you just heard, he is praising Putin's decision not to expel American diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia. I want to read the tweet to you here. He said "Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew that he was very smart."

I want to point out Senator John McCain is calling the cyber- attacks a war, so to speak, and he wants to see something more happen. He supports the -- he supports what President Obama has administered with the sanctions.

He thinks more need to be done -- more needs to be done and there's a hearing coming up this week to discuss how to handle Russia and these cyber-attacks. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty takes a look for us here.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT: Good morning, Martin and Christi. President-elect Trump has not yet said what he will do with the U.S. sanctions on Russia whether once he takes office, he'll reverse them or keep them in place. But the tone of the statement and the tweets coming from the president-elect is certainly sending a very distinct message.


SERFATY: President-elect Donald Trump is out with new phrase for Vladimir Putin applauding the Russian president for withholding retaliatory sanctions on the U.S. Trump tweeting "Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart." But as the president-elect determined his next move responding

further to Russia and the new U.S. sanctions, his advisers are calling out the Obama administration for what they see as politics at play.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP TRANSITION SENIOR ADVISER: We've been talking about this for a while. I think that, you know, all we heard through the election was Russia, Russia, Russia, whenever it came to anything Donald Trump said or did it seemed most days. Now since the election, it's a fever pitch of accusations and insinuations.

SERFATY: Trump transition officials are speculating that the administration sanctions against Russia are a distraction to undermine his win and tie his hands on Russia before he becomes president.

CONWAY: I will tell you that even on those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did that today was to, quote, "box in President-elect Trump." That would be very unfortunate if that were the moti -- if politics were the motivating factor here.

SERFATY: Since the sanctions were announced Trump himself has only issued a blunt two-line statement Thursday night saying in part, quote, "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things." A posture he has taken publicly in recent days.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on.

SERFATY: But the president-elect has now agreed to sit down with the intelligence community.

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING CHIEF OF STAFF: We just need to get to a point ourselves where we can talk to all of these intelligence agencies and find out once and for all, what evidence is there, how bad is it.

SERFATY: That closed-door meeting will likely take place in New York next week where Trump will be presented with the evidence the intel community says points a finger at Russia for the hacks.

PRIEBUS: Maybe at that time or maybe later, he'll have a response. But right now, we're just not in a position to sit here and respond to all of these details before we have a full blown intelligence report on this particular matter.

SERFATY: In the past, Trump and his aides have publicly been skeptical of the intelligence community's conclusions.

TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

[08:10:09]SERFATY: And have attempted to deflect blame away from the Russians vowing during the campaign to improve the relationship with Russia.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia and these other countries? Wouldn't that be a positive thing?

SERFATY: Once sworn into office in January, Trump has the power to reverse the sanctions or keep them in place. That decision still hanging in the balance.


SERFATY: And all of this continues to play out over Twitter after Trump posted that tweet last night. It was only a matter of minutes before the Russian Embassy and the U.S. retweeted that tweet, of course, that being praise of the Russian president -- Martin and Christi.

PAUL: All right, let's talk more about Vladimir Putin's New Year's speech. We want to bring in CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, who is live with us from Moscow.

Matthew, what specifically -- catch us up on what President Putin had to say about President-elect Trump specifically?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, when it comes to his New Year's speech, there's a couple of speeches that have been had. There's a lot of diplomatic activity. When it comes to his New Year's speech to Russia which just started to air on Russian television. It's a vast country, of course, with nine time zones.

And already in the far east of Russia, it's past midnight and Vladimir Putin's speech which is a pre-recorded event has been broadcast there. So we've got text copy of it. He doesn't actually talk about Donald Trump in this speech.

He doesn't mention the U.S. elections. He doesn't mention Syria. It's just a general congratulations to the people of Russia for what has been in his words a challenging year in 2016.

But of course, throughout the past, you know, couple of days, past 24 hours there's been this flurry of diplomatic activity, a flurry of speeches from Vladimir Putin and comments. He talked about how when Donald Trump he spoke about on his website, the kremlin website when he was congratulating world leaders.

He notably left out President Obama from that congratulations on the New Year, but did congratulate Donald Trump and said when Donald Trump is sworn in as U.S. president, the two states, Russia and the United States will act in a constructive and pragmatic manner and be able to take real steps towards restoring bilateral cooperation in various areas.

And so, Putin and the kremlin are looking forward, cutting paths, reaching across the last few weeks of the Obama administration and looking forward to doing business with the Trump administration when it takes office. PAUL: You know, there's been a lot of conversations about Donald Trump and the fact that he does not have political experience and because of that it's hard to prognosticate what he's going to do, where he's going to go. Is Donald Trump a risk to Putin in some manner because Putin doesn't necessarily know what Donald Trump will do? He is not familiar the way perhaps a regular politician would be.

CHANCE: Yes. I think, you know, on the one hand there's a lot of hope and expectation that Putin is going to get a lot from Donald Trump. They're going to come together on a whole range of issues like Syria, NATO expansion, like Ukraine, but it could all go very badly wrong.

Russians are aware of this, the officials I've spoken to, ordinary people as well, Donald Trump is an unpredictable character, that's how he's perceived here in Russia. You know, where as they may not have liked President Obama, but they kind of knew how he was going to act and the same with Hillary Clinton.

They didn't like her here, but they knew she was kind of consistent in many ways. But with Donald Trump, they don't know where he's going to go, and so I think that does pose a real danger for the future of relationships between the United States and Russia.

PAUL: All right. Very interesting. Matthew Chance, we appreciate your insight. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: And still to come, a utility company in Vermont as we've been reporting says that it found Russian hacking malware on one of its computers. What that hack tells us about the nation's readiness to combat cyber warfare. Expert analysis just ahead.



PAUL: It's 17 minutes past the hour. New this morning, U.S. officials confirmed Russian malware was found on a computer belonging to a utility company in Vermont. Now the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt any operations. The breach however does highlight the vulnerability of the nation's power grid.

SAVIDGE: It was discovered a day after President Obama issued a retaliatory sanctions that is against Russia for meddling in the elections. That included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. Two compounds located in New York and Maryland have been shuttered and its residents have until tomorrow to leave the country.

So let's bring in the director of the Kennan Institute, Matthew Rojansky, and political analyst, Ellis Henican. Gentlemen, welcome to both of you this morning. I'll give you a happy New Year. I know I'm early but here we go.

Matthew, we don't really know when the Russians may have put this malware or how it was placed or the timing exactly of when that malware got on.

But in light of these new sanctions, it does sort of take what had been theory and brings it to the forefront that this was really happening here. I'm wondering do you think the sanctions the U.S. has now put in place will deter these kind of future attacks.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY, DIRECTOR, KENNAN INSTITUTE, WILSON CENTER: No, I don't think that's going to happen. The challenge is -- by the way, I should note it is complete coincidence that I'm talking to you from Vermont right now. I had no idea that this particular -- but family vacation New Year's.

But look, this stuff is going on around the country, around the world all the time and it's not just the Russians targeting America targets it's vice versa. It engages the Chinese and other global actors.

Remember earlier in the Iran nuclear crisis, there was malware installed on Iranian computer controlling centrifuges that later we found out the Israelis and perhaps the United States were responsible for. This is the new weapon of choice.

In some ways it's like we're at the beginning stages of the nuclear weapons era after World War II. The thing is we know that these weapons are incredibly powerful. We were talking earlier about how the affect this might have had had the Russians pulled the trigger and tried to derail electrical power in Vermont or in other parts of the United States.

There have been mysterious power outages in parts of Russia as well. We don't know what's responsible for those. These are incredibly powerful weapons, but the thing is, we don't know what the rules of the game are for deterring the use of those weapons. So these sanctions are an attempt to sort of send a signal to the Russians, we the United States, we won't tolerate this behavior.

Yet we don't know if that will cause the Russians at this point to retaliate and, in fact, exacerbate the conflict or to back down and say, oh, no, what you've done to us is unacceptable. The evidence so far is that there's going to be more escalation before deterrence actually takes effect. So that's very scary. We're at the beginning of a new age with new weapons without clear rules of the game.

SAVIDGE: Let me bring in Ellis now to join this conversation and in response to Obama's decision to expel the Russian diplomats, Russia chose as we know famously now to wait and to respond after President- elect Trump takes office.

[08:20:13]Trump tweeted the famous quote that says, "Boy, Putin was very smart." What do we make of the relationship, the new relationship, as this new president comes to power here?

ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: That's an easy one, Victor. The decision is made in Moscow that the new president will be a whole lot more compliant than the current president. So let's ignore the guy who's there now. Let's place our bets on the guy who is coming and we don't know exactly what he'll do. But every single sign, every tweet day after day suggests that he's in a much more generous mood when it comes to Russia.

SAVIDGE: And Matthew, back to the point that you made regarding the seriousness and this kind of new world and this kind of scary new world in that we don't essentially have the ground rules now yet between countries. I think we could get really out of control with this, couldn't we, quickly?

ROJANSKY: We absolutely could. By the way, I would point out it's not only that from the kremlin's perspective, you know, they've only got to wait a couple of weeks and they get to deal with a new president who maybe is going to be more open to compromise or cooperation with Moscow.

They have not foresworn retaliatory measures. Remember when Putin says he's not going to expel 35 American diplomats in its tit for tat. He doesn't say he's not going to retaliate in other ways. The entire premise of this conflict has been that we only learn overtime in some respects arguably after November 8th, after the election, when it's already too late we learn what has been done because it's been done covertly.

And so I fully expect there are going to be retaliatory covert Russian measures and let's not forget that a part of the White House announcement several days ago about the nature of these sanctions was to that we will respond in ways and at a time of our choosing which we will not necessarily make public.

So there's a whole dimension of the conflict that is escalating now -- albeit continuing conflict that's been going on for years, which is spy versus spy stuff, very reminiscent of the cold war.

SAVIDGE: Let me just stop you there, Matthew, because I want to bring in Ellis for at least the last word. Ellis, it looks like rite now the Russians are winning in all of this.

HENICAN: Well, they are. Let me push back a second against some of this hand ringing. There's lot of stuff we could do. I mean, even if we don't know exactly the Russian intentions the concept of retaliation is something that all nations understand.

And you know what, we could do more than toss their diplomats out or shut down their summer homes. There's all kind of things we could reveal about the business dealings of the leaders of Russia. We can impose additional sanctions.

What will be interesting going forward is let's watch how the Republicans in the Senate push Trump on this. That's really the fight to come and that's going to tell whether we're going to get more of it, none of, it or somewhere in between.

SAVIDGE: All right, Matthew Rojansky and Ellis Henican, thank you both for joining us this morning.

ROJANSKY: Happy New Year, guys.

SAVIDGE: And to you. Thank you. PAUL: And to you, Gentlemen, thank you.

This weekend, I know a lot of you are cleaning up some ice storm remnants, a blanket of snow, took a building out in Maine, and now we are hearing rumors of some pretty serious rain. Jennifer Gray has been looking at all of this for us. Hi, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Christi. We could see another round of snow for northern portions of New England tonight into tomorrow and could also see storms in the south. We'll talk about all those trouble spots for your New Year's Eve plans after the break.



PAUL: A couple of snow, thunderstorms, just cloudy skies, take a pick, it could be anything for some of you this New Year.

SAVIDGE: It could be. And Jennifer Gray has been peering into the future. Not that hard to do, it's less than 12 hours -- a little more than 12 hours.

GRAY: Yes. We can pinpoint this one a little bit easier. We are going to get a little bit of everything on this New Year's Eve. We're going to have snow for northern portions of New England, actually already got snow over the past couple of days.

Another very fast moving system is going to dump a little bit more. We're not talking about huge amounts. We're talking anywhere from 2 inches to 4 inches, maybe up to 8 inches in those higher elevations, but we do have some video from Maine, the university there, and actually the sports dome collapsed due to the snow.

So you can see it right there, very heavy snow over the last couple of days caused that. Unfortunately, more snow on the way. But the good news is it's not going to be quite as much. So, you could have a little bit on your plans this weekend.

We're also going to see some rainfall down in the south. We could even see thunderstorms for places like New Orleans, Birmingham and that rain is going to push even into the Atlanta area as we get into Sunday morning, could also see more snow for the west, the Rockies, even the Pacific Northwest.

So if you are in New York watching the ball drop, the temperatures is not all that bad. They'll be in the 40s feeling like the 30s, but it is going to be windy so prepare for that. That will cause the wind chill to be in the mid-30s, 20 to 25 miles per hour winds around midnight.

A couple of hours leading to, though, we'll see those winds even stronger at 30 to 35 miles per hour. So guys, you know, in New York, those wind tunnels that go through the city, it may be a little bit brutal with that wind.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it will make it hard to hold on your funny hat.

GRAY: Yes, exactly. Sunglasses and all that.

SAVIDGE: Yes, Jennifer Gray, thank you.

PAUL: Ronda Rousey back in the octagon after 13 months and it wasn't pretty.

SAVIDGE: No, it wasn't. Let's say if she drove herself she could have double parked and made it back to her car without a ticket.

PAUL: Andy Scholes has the blow by blow.


[08:31:10] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: So good to have you with us. Thirty-one minutes past the hour. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell. And it's already 2017 down under. It is a celebration so nice, it's worth looking at twice. So, here it is again in that beautiful harbor.


SAVIDGE: (Inaudible) the best fireworks so far of 2017.

PAUL: Oh, very nice.

SAVIDGE: The best -- not going t0o far out on that limb.

PAUL: Since they're the first, but they are going to be hard to counter, certainly, when you look at that show. We want (inaudible) some of the recent terror attacks in Germany and France right now. They have New York City, obviously, on high alert as we head into New Year's Eve celebrations because there are so many people that are going to be down there.

SAVIDGE: Two million people, I believe is what they are projecting, or at least expected to fill Times Square for that big countdown. And that's where we find Correspondent Jessica Schneider. And, Jessica, what's the beefed-up security measures that you're seeing down there, so far?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin, the NYPD stresses that this -- Times Square -- will be the safest place in the city to be tonight, and that's because of those increased security measures. The NYPD has the numbers to prove it. In fact, take a look at these states: new this year, there will be 65 sanitation trucks in the perimeter of Times Square. They'll be filled with sand, and that's all to prevent any sort of truck-style ISIS-inspired attack like we saw overseas. The NYPD does stress, though, no credible threat here in New York City or Times Square.

Also, 100 blocker vehicles -- that's double the number from years past. Seven thousand NYPD officers will be around the city; that includes 550 new graduates. And, in addition, 65 viewing pens. NYPD hopes to actually fill those pens -- each one of them with 3000 spectators. So, you can see things back here in Times Square, still a bit empty out here. The crowds start arriving in probably the next hour or two. And, yes, they do arrive that early, even though the ball drop, of course, isn't until midnight.

But, when they do get here, they'll be going through bag searches; they'll be going through security screening; also, radiation screening. There will be very visible heavy weapons team here and, throughout the night, we'll see helicopters up above; watercraft is patrolling the waterways around Manhattan. And, in addition, just downtown at 1PP, the headquarters for NYPD, there will be 30 representatives from various city and state and federal agencies. They'll be keeping an eye on all the cameras here that will be watching all of the spectators that will be flooding in here to Times Square -- one of the -- one of the best places in the world to watch the ball drop and see -- ring in the new year. Martin and Christi?

SAVIDGE: Yes, it absolutely is. We hope it's a safe, wonderful, healthy and prosperous new year for all. Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

PAUL: That included you too, Jessica. Thank you.

You do not want to miss our CNN special tonight either, because you know who else is going to be down there. Our New Year's Eve extravaganza. (Inaudible). You can expect the unexpected from Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. New Year's Eve live, beginning at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.


PAUL: (Inaudible) Rhonda Rousey's UFC comeback.

SAVIDGE: Yeah, Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report", although it's really less of more.

PAUL: Did my face give it away too?

SCHOLES: Yeah, well, you know what guys? We hadn't seen Rhonda Rousey in the octagon in more than a year. She lost to Holly Holm last November. And, you know, after last night, we might not ever see her in the octagon again. You know, leading up to this fight, Rousey -- she did not speak with the media at all. Instead, she said she was spending all of her time training for this comeback. But, this comeback was short-lived. Rousey got pummeled by Amanda Nunes from the start in this one, just taking multiple shots right to the face. The ref had to jump in and stop the fight just 48 seconds in.

[08:35:09] Rousey -- she was guaranteed $3 million for this fight, compared to just $200,000 for Nunes. So, for Rousey, that means she made about $63,000 a second to stand there and get punched in the face. And Rousey, once again, not speaking with the media after the fight. UFC President Dana White said he doesn't know if Rousey will ever get in the octagon again.

All right, unless you're Rhonda Rousey, 2016 was an amazing year in sports and here's a look at our top 10 moments from this year.


SCHOLES: Basketball's March Madness living up to its name and then some, this year. The final coming down to Villanova and North Carolina. They're championship game coming down to the final seconds.

UNKNOWN MALE SPORTS ANNOUNCER: Two seconds to go. Jenkins, three, right wing to win it -- he made it. He made the three for the right wing at the buzzer. Cats win it all! Cats win it all! Cats win it all.

SCHOLES: Chris Jenkins the hero as the Wildcats win their first championship in 31 years. In 2016, we saw one of the biggest underdog stories of all time.

UNKNOWN FEMALE REPORTER: We are in the heart of the storm here, in the very middle of Leicester City, and you can see behind me that hundreds of fans have congregated here.

SCHOLES: The Soccer Club Leicester City's odds of winning the premier league was 5000-to-one when the season started. And they not only won it, they won it easily, being called the greatest sports upset of all time and a movie is currently in the works to tell the story of Leicester City's incredible championship season.

Team USA had an amazing run at the Rio Olympics, but it was nearly overshadowed by Lochte-gate.

UNKNOWN FEMALE REPORTER: The story of a gun-point robbery that police there in Brazil say was a lie, made up by Ryan Lochte and three other of his swimmers.

RYAN LOCHTE, OLYMPIC SWIMMER: The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead.

LOCHTE (LATER INTERVIEW): I overexaggerated that story.

SCHOLES: And Lochte lost many of his endorsement deals and was suspended 10 months by U.S Swimming, but he did compete on season 23 of "Dancing With the Stars", finishing in seventh place.

2016 finally saw the end of deflate-gate. New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season and decided against appealing his case any further. Brady's suspension not slowing the Patriots down. They are, once again, the favorites in the AFC and Brady seems to be over deflate-gate, having some fun with the whole thing in a recent Foot Locker commercial.

TOM BRADY, NFL QUARTERBACK: Just because something's great year- after-year doesn't mean anything's going on. Why can't some things just be great?

UNKNOWN MALE: It's just a question.

BRADY: It starts with questions, and then questions turn into assumptions, and then assumptions turn into vacations.

SCHOLES: In 2016, we saw the final chapter of the Brady/Manning rivalry. Manning's Denver Broncos beating Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. It reached Super Bowl 50. The Broncos beat league MVP, Cam Newton, and the Carolina Panthers 24-to-10. And Manning would do what few quarterbacks have been able to do -- go out on top.

PEYTON MANNING, NFL QUARTERBACK: I fought a good fight. I've finished my football race. And after 18 years, it's time.

SCHOLES: San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, began a nationwide discussion by kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest social injustice in the U.S.

KAEPERNICK: People are realizing the injustices and the oppression that's taking place in this country and it's something that needs to be addressed.

SCHOLES: Some NFL players and other athletes, like U.S. Women's National Team star, Megan Rapinoe, joined Kaepernick in his protest. And Kaepernick captured attention again in November when he revealed that he didn't vote in the Presidential election, saying it would have been hypocritical.

Leading up to the Rio Olympic Games, much of the talk was about security concerns, dirty water and the Zika virus, but the attention quickly turned to the dominant performance by the United States. Gymnast Simone Biles living up to the hype, winning four gold medals, including one with her teammates dubbed "the Final Five". In the pool, the U.S. was unstoppable. Nineteen-year-old Katie Ledecky blowing away the competition, winning five medals. And the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, rode off into the sunset with five more gold medals.

In June, we lost the greatest of all time. Muhammad Ali passing away after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. And, unfortunately, he was not the only sports legend to pass away in 2016. Golfing great, Arnold Palmer, died at the age of 87; Mr. Hockey, Gordy Howe, passed away at the age of 88; and legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach, Pat Summitt, died after a battle with early-onset dementia. She was 64-years-old.

In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors breaking a record few thought would ever fall. The team going 73-and-9 in the regular season, topping Michael Jordan's '96 Bulls record of 72-and-10. The Warriors, then, had a 3-1 lead in the final over LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers, but LeBron and Kyrie Irving would lead the Cavs to three straight wins, becoming the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.

UNKNOWN MALE SPORTSCASTER: Believe it, Cleveland. Savor it. Soak it in. The kid from Akron has come home. The Cavaliers are NBA champions and the impossible dream has come true.

[08:40:10] SCHOLES: LeBron making good on his promise to deliver Cleveland its first championship in 52 years.

LEBRON JAMES, NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: My one mission was to bring a championship back to Ohio, back to Cleveland and back to Akron. And look up there -- it's right there.

SCHOLES (VIDEO CLIP): This is what a what a 108-year drought celebration looks like and for the first time in a lifetime, the Cubs can call themselves champions.

UNKNOWN MALE: It's unbelievable. Go Cubbies. Go Cubbies. Let's go.

UNKNOWN MALE 2: It's the best. I can't even move, but I don't care. This is unbelievable. This is what you dream for as a kid.



SCHOLES: And you know what, guys? I don't want to be a downer, or anything, but 2017's going to have a hard time living up to 2016 sports-wise. I mean, with the Cubs drought going away, the Cleveland winning a championship.

PAUL: Yes.


SCHOLES: I don't see it happening. I --

PAUL: Pretty extraordinary.

SCHOLES: 2016 is going to go down as one of the best sports years ever.

PAUL: That means all you athletes -- you've just got to --

SCHOLES: Step it up, right?

PAUL: -- step it up a notch.

SAVIDGE: Bring it up.

PAUL: We're counting on you. Andy Scholes, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

PAUL: All right.

SAVIDGE: On a more serious note, a member of the Kennedy family could be headed back to prison. The Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the murder conviction of Michael Skakel. The question we look at is what has changed?


SAVIDGE: A Kennedy cousin could be headed back to prison for murder after a Connecticut judge overturned an earlier ruling that freed him. In 2002, Michael Skakel was convicted of killing Martha Moxley, a 15- year-old neighbor, back in 1975. Skakel is the nephew of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. He was released in 2013 when a judge ordered a new trial. The ruling said Skakel's lawyer had not represented him well. Now, that decision has been overturned by a judge who disagreed. Mr. Skakel has always maintained his innocence.

His current lawyer sent this statement to CNN:

"We haven't fully had time to fully digest the opinion at this juncture; but, of course, it's a setback. We're going to be dealing with other legal procedure that are available to avail Michael of any and all his constitutional rights."

[08:45:01] PAUL: So, let's talk about it with criminal defense attorney Page Pate. He is the forensic -- we're talking about the forensic evidence here; first of all, because there was a lot of it, Page, but none of it pointed to Skakel in the first place. It was all witness testimony, right -- that convicted him?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Exactly. It was a very circumstantial case; yes.

PAUL: So, were you surprised that he was convicted or surprised that he was let go in 2013?

PATE: Well, it's a great question. I was a little surprised at the conviction, because it was all based on testimony -- no solid, hard evidence that linked him to the crime. But, I was also surprised that it was overturned. When you overturn a conviction based on ineffective assistance of your lawyer, you don't just have to show that your lawyer made mistake, or even a really ridiculous mistake. You have to show that the lawyer did something that no reasonable lawyer would have done and that that made significant difference to the verdict. And, so, it took many, many years, but, eventually, his lawyers proved to a judge in Connecticut that his lawyer was ineffective, he set aside the conviction, and released him from prison.

PAUL: So, what do you think will happen from this point on? If you were his defense attorney, what would your strategy be?

PATE: I think the first thing I would do is ask the Connecticut Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. It was a close call. It was a 4-3 decision just -- overturning the judge's decision, which overturned the conviction. So, I would ask them to reconsider, number one. Number two, they still have a federal claim that they can pursue. They put that to the side while they focused on this appeal, so their appeals process is not done. There's still a lot more they can challenge.

PAUL: Can that -- can that appeals process be exhausted, though? Can they go too far with it?

PATE: Well, eventually, yes. The case has already been to the United States Supreme Court once. They turned it down. They had the opportunity to ask again if that court will accept it. But, eventually -- perhaps 50, 60 years down the road -- the case will finally be over.

PAUL: Oh my goodness. All right, I want to move on to the Supreme Court as we look ahead to 2017. They are at reduced strength. You know how --

PATE: Oh, yeah.

PAUL: In a sense. I mean, there's eight of them. Based on what we know and the political landscape, how expeditious do you think the confirmation process could be?

PATE: I think we're going to see something very shortly after inauguration. We know that President-Elect Trump has been thinking about this, even during the campaign. He released a list of about 21 people that he thought would make good Supreme Court Justices. That list -- I think the Federalist Society, a very conservative legal organization, helped him put it together. We see some names coming to the top -- Judge William Prior, who practices here in Atlanta on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- I think well-connected to the Trump administration. So, I think we're going to see an appointment very soon after the new year.

PAUL: There are a lot of things on the docket that are very sensitive. We've got immigration they're going to be dealing with, transgender issues. They're going to be dealing with a lot of things that revolve around race that are just very delicate. How do you anticipate that's going to move further without dividing this country more? Is that even possible?

PATE: I don't know that it is possible, but I think we see the same divisions now at the Supreme Court that we do among everyone else -- among politicians, among congress -- even the voters. Right now, as you mentioned, not only are they short staffed, they're at a deadlock. They literally have four that were appointed by a democratic president, four appointed by a republican president. They have been turning down the more -- the higher profile cases because they were concerned they couldn't reach a decision.

PAUL: And they're waiting.

PATE: Absolutely.

PAUL: They're waiting for a new colleague.

PATE: They're waiting on that next vote. They're waiting on that next vote. So, this next person -- the next justice will make a tremendous difference in how they look at the cases that are currently before them, the cases they decide to accept. And that's going to continue on, not just during the Trump administration, but for a generation or more.

PAUL: What -- is there any one particular case that you're looking forward to seeing them adjudicated this year. PATE: Well, on this term, in 2017, they're going to be looking at

voting rights cases, which are very important -- usually very politicized because, obviously, one side is trying to gain an advantage over the other. They've handled some of those cases last term, but they've really kept them sitting in the background; you know, on the table, waiting for the next Justice. We're also going to see issues about transgender rights. And I also expect some religious liberty cases that are percolating their way up there. I doubt we're going to see much on the abortion front. I mean, we can remember Trump saying "it's automatically gone -- we're going to overturn Roe v. Wade." That's not going to happen, because even with another conservative Justice, you have enough votes to preserve Roe v. Wade and abortion rights.

PAUL: All right. Good to know. Page Pate, always appreciate your insight. Thanks for coming in.

PATE: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Day before New Year's -- Happy New Year to you.

PATE: Happy New Year to you.

PAUL: Absolutely; thank you. Martin?

SAVIDGE: Let's take a look at some of the other news today. A massive manhunt underway in Pennsylvania this morning after a state trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty. Authorities are searching for this man, Jason Robison. He is considered to be armed and dangerous. State Trooper Landon Weaver was responding to a domestic-related incident when the suspect opened fire. Pennsylvania's governor issued a statement saying, in part, "I have full confidence that the person who committed this senseless act of violence will be captured and brought to justice."

[08:50:00] Two people were shot and killed this morning after Meek Meek's (sic) concert -- Meek Mill's, excuse me -- concert in Connecticut. Two other people were injured. It happened in the parking lot outside the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. That's Connecticut. Police are still investigating. The victims have not been identified as yet.

And ISIS claiming responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings in Baghdad in a statement that was posted on Twitter. At least 28 people are dead, more than 50 others injured. Police say two bombers detonated their vests on busy street near a market earlier today. The blast destroyed business in a historic part of that Iraqi capital.

PAUL: Well, you know, millions of people are already ringing in the new year. We're behind the times here, so to speak. 2017 kicking off first in New Zealand. Fireworks there at the sky tower in Auckland -- there they are. And down under, an incredible show over the Sydney Harbor Bridge as a centerpiece -- that was just a few minutes ago.


SAVIDGE: I don't know if you felt it, but it's true. 2016 has been the hottest year on record.

PAUL: Yes, CNN's John Sutter with -- in Alaska to take a look at how climate change has affected the world this year.


JOHN SUTTER, CNN REPORTER: In 2016, it became stunningly clear that we are warming the climate and there are dire consequences. I'm in a tiny village in Alaska, about 30 miles from the arctic circle, and I'm sure it looks cold out here, but locals are actually complaining about the heat. The arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And, in mid-November, this entire region was 35 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. It's not just here. This is happening all around the world and 2016 is actually expected to be the hottest year on record.

[08:55:03] This spring, a drought in India was so intense that it reportedly led some farmers to commit suicide. In May, monster wildfires forced 88,000 people in Canada to flee. In July, a city in Kuwait hit a stunning 129 degrees Fahrenheit, or 54 degrees Celsius. That month was named the hottest ever, until August tied it. Scientists are getting better at tying these events to us. A flood in Louisiana killed 13 people in August. Scientists say that event was made 40% more likely because of climate change.

Here, in Shishmaref, locals voted that same month to abandon their village, which their ancestors have lived in for 400 years. The permafrost is melting and the coast is crumbling. Are we causing all of the bad weather? No, but we are burning fossil fuels, which is heating up the planet and that puts our fingerprints on the extreme weather more ever before.


PAUL: All right. Well, Hong Kong -- it's changed in the 21st century. They've got the skyscrapers, the high-end stores. But there are some parts of the city that are still unchanged and they're quite unique.

SAVIDGE: Alan Lowe is a restaurant entrepreneur and art supporter. He takes a look at the past and the future of the city in this week's edition of "Around the World".


ALAN LO, RESTAURANT ENTREPRENEUR: Welcome to Hong Kong. So, we're in the M+ Pavilion. The art scene in Hong Kong is changing so rapidly. It's amazing to see how, in a short four years, how M+ has, you know, accumulated such an amazing collection. It's practically the one major institution that kind of encompasses art and design from all of Asia. It's almost like Tate and Pompidou combined, but very much set in the Asian context.


So, we are in the fabric market in the heart of Sham Shui Po. As you walk down these streets, it feels like nothing has change in the last 30-40 years and Sham Shui Po is probably one of the last remaining neighborhood that still has kind of that old Hong Kong quality that is still largely untouched.


We are in Wanchai Market, one of the best wet markets in Hong Kong. As much as we are living in the 21st century, I think that there's still kind of that tradition going where there's -- there's still kind of that joy of -- like, that routine of going to the market and buying your food. You still have this kind of crazy food street, but in the middle of this whole urban gentrification with, like, luxury apartments a block away. I think that's part of the charm of Wanchai.


SAVIDGE: That is another city I love.

Well, don't you go anywhere -- and I don't mean that as threatening.


PAUL: He's got that voice, doesn't he? It sounds like it, but Newsroom is going to start right after this short break. Have a lot to talk to you about in terms of politics, what's happening with Russia and the U.S. Do stay close.