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Isa Soares Tonight

Emmanuel Macron Says France's Kurdish Community Was Targeted; Arctic Blast Sweeps Across Much Of The U.S.; Georgia's Former President Saakashvili Poisoned In Prison; U.S. House Approves $1.7 Trillion Funding Bill; Committee: Trump Should Be Permanently Banned From Office; Parkour Athletes Turn Off Lights In The City Of Lights. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello and welcome to the show, I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Emmanuel Macron

says France's Kurdish community was targeted today. We're live in Paris with the latest on the shooting that left three people dead.

Then, temperatures across the U.S. dropped to deadly lows as a massive Winter storm hits almost every corner of the lower 48. And later, Santa

Claus is coming to town, and Norad is looking out for him. I'll speak with the deputy Commander of the Annual Holiday Mission.

A heinous attack on the Kurdish community in the heart of Paris. Those words from French President Emmanuel Macron after a deadly shooting in the

French capital left three people dead, and at least four others wounded.

The shock, dismay and anger on the streets of Paris right now. Furious demonstrators are clashing with police, setting fires and damaging

buildings. The police have pushed back the crowds with tear gas. These protests erupted hours ago after a gunman opened fire at a Kurdish

community center.

The suspected killers under arrest with Paris prosecutors saying he has a history of racist violence. Well, CNN's Jim Bittermann is standing by for

us, live in Paris. Jim, I know you were down on the streets earlier, as those protests broke out. Just bring us up to speed of what the situation

is now on the ground, and what more you are learning about the attacker and his motive.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, based -- basically, Christina, calm has returned to the neighborhood. This is a very

tense neighborhood in the best of times, because it's -- there's -- it's a very tough racial mix in the neighborhood. Sometimes folks get along,

sometimes they don't. And the police are never very welcome there.

So when the police struck up accord this afternoon, in terms of investigating the murders, the crowds gathered almost immediately. And they

began throwing objects at the police. The police responded with tear gas. And then it was this kind of cat-and-mouse game, up and down the streets as

the protesters continue their violence towards the police, and even towards firemen.

And there were some firemen that were called in to put out street fires that had been set and garbage piles and things, and as a consequence, the

police had to intervene to protect the firemen. In any case, this attack is pretty much assured that -- we were assured by officials that it's pretty

much racially-motivated. The interior minister who went to the scene almost said as much this afternoon when he was there. Here's what he said.


GERALD DARMANIN, INTERIOR MINISTER, FRANCE (through translator): It is not certain that the killer who wanted to assassinate these people, and there

is little doubt that he wanted to assassinate people here in Paris, was specifically targeting the Kurds. He was clearly targeting foreigners.


BITTERMANN: And in fact, at a news conference, the Kurdish community said that the people that were killed were in fact Kurdish activists. Something

about the shooter though, that's amazing or rather sort of interesting and kind of dreadful as well, and that is that he was only released from prison

11 days ago.

He had been serving in preventative custody, he had been serving time in preventative custody for the last year because of a racially-motivated

attack a year ago, almost at this time of year. So in fact, it was somebody that was known to the police, they say that he did not have any known

connections to any right-wing groups. So they're not classifying it as a terrorist attack.

But nonetheless, he was -- it was racially-motivated as was his attack a year ago. Christina.

MACFARLANE: And Jim, it was interesting to hear the interior minister say that it's not certain the killer was targeting the Kurdish community. I'm

sure it doesn't feel that way to the Kurdish community tonight. Tell me a bit about where this attack took place. The neighborhood there, the mix,

the ethnic mix there. And did you manage to speak to anyone about why they were coming out to protest.

BITTERMANN: Well, I think, you know, the why is something that I think we see often times. When Paris police, the GENDARME are on the streets in

their battle outfits, it often is the case that there will be -- crowds that throw things at them, and you know, they're not widely accepted

especially in a neighborhood like this one.


Which in fact, it's impoverished neighborhood. There are a lot of people out on the streets anyway. It's Friday night. So I think, you know, it was

the kind of thing that, one, the police presence on its own can often times bring about this kind of consequence, and I think that's kind of what

happened today when the police started showing up to investigate the murder, and try and to set up a corridor around the -- a cordon around the

sites where it took place.

That was enough to stir up crowds, and I think after that, it was -- it sort of escalated after that with rocks and then tear gas and the kind of

thing we've seen before in Paris.

MACFARLANE: Well, I know Jim, you will continue to follow this story as it evolves. But for now, Jim Bittermann there live from Paris. Thanks very

much Jim. Now, CNN investigation done in collaboration with an Iranian activist group has found that 43 detained protesters in Iran could be

facing imminent execution. Iranian authorities have been brutally cracking down on dissent after thousands began protesting the death of a young woman

in police custody in September.

Those who have been arrested are languishing in jails or suffering torture. Now the families of dozens of detainees fear their loved ones may be facing

an even worse fate. Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My son has been sentenced to execution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Mohammed Gubalu(ph) is only 22.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My son is innocent. For the love of God, help him.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (voice-over): Desperate families in Iran, risking it all with a plea to the world to save

their loved ones from execution. Fearing that detainees in Iran are set to face a wave of executions in an accelerated judicial process, while holiday

celebrations have the world's attention elsewhere.

(on camera): In collaboration with Iranian activist group 1500Tasvir, we worked to verify court documents which show that dozens of Iranians,

including high-profile Iranian athletes face execution. We also work to verify video pleas like this one. From this 81-year-old mother of one of

the detainees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We don't know his whereabouts, no information about him, nor do we even know where he is.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): This document from inside the Isfahan regional court shows that at least ten people have been charged with moharebeh, war

against God, spreading corruption on earth, and other charges, all which carry the possibility of the death penalty.

(on camera): Through obtaining and verifying court documents and witness testimony, we have evidence which supports a rush-through judicial process.

Defendants having court-appointed counsel forced on them. Many defendants having their right to appeal refused. Some defendants faced with charges

which could carry the death sentence been handed down in a single sitting.

Terrified Iranian families believe that while the world is busy celebrating the holiday season, busy with their families, that they, in Iran, face

imminent execution of their loved ones.

(voice-over): CNN has confirmed that Iranian footballer, Amir Azadani is among those facing execution. Here he is, training ahead of match day. Now,

he is on death row waiting. This is social media video from the night of his arrest. CNN made contact with someone close to Nasr-Azadani Iran. We

are not disclosing their identity.

They told us that in the days after his arrest, they were unable to get word from him or about him, from authorities. Even as the Iranian

authorities denied his arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was one month and 19 days, I think maybe, even perhaps longer since the security forces came and wanted

to see Amir's home.

ELBAGIR: And despite being told he would be freed --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They would tell us in the first few weeks, that they will release Amir and Amir will be released by the end

of the week.

ELBAGIR: Then came a charge of the crime of moharebeh, war against God. Which Nasr-Azadani and nine other people have been accused of, relating to

involvement in the killing of two Basij militia operatives, and one policeman during protests in late November. A charge they deny. Now,

sources close to Nasr-Azadani say he and four others have had their charges upgraded by the Isfahan court to Bari.

A charge punishable only by execution. There is more. In the regional court of Khuzestan, west of Isfahan, CNN has confirmed with 1500Tasvir, the court

documents that 23 more people have been charged with the same crime punishable by death. We're redacting their names out of fears for their



There is still more. In Karaj, CNN and 1500Tasvir have confirmed that at least five more Iranians are facing execution, including 21-year-old

Iranian-Kurdish karate champion, Mohammad Mahdi Karami whose parents have also gone public with their pleas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Please, I beg you to please lift the execution over from my son's life.

ELBAGIR: In messages shared with CNN, his family say Karami was not only sentenced to death, but he's also being tortured in prison. In another

message shared with CNN, they said Karami was somehow in good spirits, but physically damaged having suffered torture on his head and body.

(on camera): Including those whose families recorded public pleas for help. That brings the total of those verified by CNN as facing execution to

at least 43. And that's in addition to the two executed by Iran amid the excitement of the World Cup.

(voice-over): Just this week, 27-year-old Iranian-Kurdish rapper Saman Yasin attempted suicide whilst in detention, according to a source from the

prison. Yasin tried to end his life, sources say with pills, after enduring extreme psychological torture in the harsh prison conditions in northern

Iran. As much of the world gets absorbed with their festivities, Iranian families have one message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Please save them. For the love of God, save my sons.

ELBAGIR: Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


MACFARLANE: Ukraine's president says his country cannot afford vacation days or time off from the war. Speaking to a conference in Kyiv after his

trip to the U.S., Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his forces won't rest until they defeat Russia. Meanwhile, the Kremlin says it's making progress in the,

quote, "demilitarization of Ukraine".

Even though President Vladimir Putin is meeting with defense industry officials to discuss problems with weapons supplies. Will Ripley brings us

the latest now from Kyiv.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Here in Kyiv, they're certainly listening very carefully to those words out of the

Kremlin, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, for the first time, calling what he did call a special military operation, a war. Now, the

question is, was that a slip of the tongue or did he do it deliberately?

And that's very important to figure out what the reality is. Because if it was an accident, if Putin essentially broke his own ban on uttering the

word, "war" for the last 10 months, and if he actually does believe that what he is doing to Ukraine is now a war, that would potentially allow him

to declare martial law and pour even more resources into his military.

Which has certainly been struggling on the front lines. Putin had a military modernization meeting, saying that the mobilization process needs

to be upgraded, saying that the military needs to get every single resource it needs, even send his defense minister, supposedly, to the frontlines. In

a Russian propaganda video that was released this week, the defense minister telling everybody to keep calm and everything was going to be

fine, he said.

But of course, Russian troops, according to intercepted telephone calls, don't necessarily think that things are fine. The Ukrainian military

occasionally releases these things, and even though we can't verify their authenticity, they seem to indicate a sense of frustration among a lot of

Russian troops on the ground, fighting against Ukrainians, who have been able to hold the lines despite relentless bombardment in places like


Of course, there's also been a Russian assault on the liberated southern city of Kherson. You know, in a lot of these frontline cities, people

barely have the basics to survive. They barely have electricity or running water. Sometimes the only way they can get Wi-Fi or heat or even a hot cup

of coffee is to go to an underground bomb shelter.

Here in the capital, Kyiv, the situation is slightly better. But people are still struggling right now. The water service here has been disrupted. And

a lot of people say they have power for maybe an hour a day in the capital city. That's why Ukraine says they're so grateful for these Patriot missile

defense systems from the United States.

But of course, there's a lot of training, months of training that has to happen between now and the time that those systems are actually deployed.

Which means it could be a very long and difficult Winter ahead here in Ukraine. Will Ripley, CNN, Kyiv.


MACFARLANE: All right, still to come tonight, a once in a generational Winter storm is now gripping the whole of the U.S. We are live as people

face chaos just two days before Christmas. Plus, health experts are warning about new potential COVID variants now that China is reopening and seeing a




MACFARLANE: To the U.S. now where hundreds of millions of people across the country are facing Winter peril as the nation is being plunged into

conditions rarely seen in people's life times. High winds and blizzard conditions have knocked out power for almost a million and a half customers

across the country. Over a dozen U.S. governors are now drawing up emergency response plans.

And make no mistake, these temperatures are nothing short of life- threatening. The cold is pushing all the way to the Gulf Coast and the Mexican border. Even places that would normally feel relatively mild at

this time of year are being gripped by below zero wind chill. Like Atlanta, Georgia, which is also bearing the brunt of a major travel chaos as

thousands of flights are grounded.

Well, Polo Sandoval is in Buffalo, New York for us where the extreme cold is closing in. And my goodness, Polo, you're a brave man to be out there

for us today. I know Buffalo, New York, has seen snow, but nothing like this. Look at that wind.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's like a snow globe, Christina. And what's interesting is earlier this morning, I'm talking about like 8 or 9

hours ago, it was barely drizzling. It was a very comfortable temperature. And just like that, the conditions really began to deteriorate. And this is

perhaps the worst that we've seen all day.

And the thing, it's not over yet, far from it, in fact, according to authorities. As I step out, so you can see what this -- if you can see what

the situation looks like, and we're not far from downtown Buffalo, not far from where we're standing is Lake Erie. That is what's fueling the concerns

of potential coastal flooding in some of the communities.

But that's also where so much of the snow is coming from. And here is the thing, this is not the massive snow event that we experienced here last

month. This is a flash freezing event. So all of that rain that we received overnight, some of the drizzle that we had before this turned to snow. As

those temperatures began to plummet, that froze, and then add to that the wind.

And it just been howling. We're talking about category one hurricane level wind gusts that we've experienced here in the city of Buffalo according to

the National Weather Service. Add it all up, and you have a tremendous potential for many power outages -- in fact, some of the warming centers

that have been set up by authorities here in Erie County, New York, they've actually lost power.

So they're in the process of relocating some of the families that were just trying to keep warm to other facilities. So it really speaks to the

challenges that some of the local authorities here are experiencing. But there is perhaps some good news to report, Christina. We have seen very few

people out and about.

There is one person that you can see here. But honestly, this is the first person I see out and about walking in the last several hours. In terms of

vehicles, a couple of vehicles we've seen drive-by. But very few individuals. So, it does suggest that they are largely heeding those

warnings, except for as you just saw an occasional individual. But mostly, folks, have been staying home from our vantage points.


And authorities are recommending that people do so since this weather is likely to continue into tonight, into tomorrow, and power and utility crews

may not be able to get out there to start repairs until possibly Sunday morning. Christina?

MACFARLANE: Polo, where is -- where is that person going? Why would you be going outside at this time? We're going to let you go back, of course, Polo


SANDOVAL: You can kind of make a mount --

MACFARLANE: Yes, I mean --

SANDOVAL: Thank you, Christina, appreciate it --

MACFARLANE: Someone needs to turn him around and send him home. Thanks so much, Polo. Cheers. All right, now, hundreds of health professionals from

across China are traveling to Beijing to help deal with a wave of coronavirus infections. The government rushed to ease its zero COVID policy

earlier this month.

But now health experts are concerned about new variants that could be more dangerous than previous ones. Kristie Lu Stout is in Hong Kong.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Concern is growing about the scale of COVID-19 infections in China. Official figures are unreliable, especially

now as less testing is taking place across the country as it winds from its tough zero COVID policy, and after China has narrowed its definition of

COVID-related deaths to only patients who died of respiratory failure directly caused by the virus.

Now, this month, China reported only eight COVID-19 deaths, a remarkably low number given the mounting evidence of a surge in cases and deaths. Now,

in Beijing, our colleagues there have filmed evidence of a crowded crematorium, it's parking lot is completely packed, smoke constantly

billowed from the furnaces and yellow body bags are seen piled up inside metal containers.

Hospitals there in the city are also under pressure. Health professionals across China are traveling to Beijing to help out. Cold and fever meds are

running out and people are desperate. Now, one resident tells CNN this, quote, "in the past five days, I had many symptoms, but couldn't buy any

medication to treat sore throat, coughing or fever. None of the medicines are available", unquote.

How the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken is now calling on all countries including China to share information about the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a press conference, he cited a number of concerns including the possibility of a new variant emerging, saying this, quote, "anytime the

virus is spreading or is moving around, there's the possibility that a new variant develops.

That variant spreads even further, and it comes and hits us and other countries around the world." Now Secretary Blinken also spoke to Chinese

Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, to discuss several issues including the importance of transparency. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says China

has always shared relevant information with the international community and will continue to cooperate. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


MACFARLANE: Now North Korea has launched two short-range ballistic missiles, that's according to South Korea. It landed in the water between

the Korean Peninsula and Japan. And as you can see here, it comes amid a flurry of missile activities by Pyongyang. This marks the 36th day this

year that North Korea has launched at least one missile, and experts warn the North may be preparing for its first nuclear weapons test in more than

5 years.

Now, there are growing fears about the health of a man who has been a major player in eastern European politics. Mikheil Saakashvili; the former

president of Georgia, he's currently serving a prison sentence for abuse of power. His lawyers now making claims that there's evidence he's been

poisoned and needs urgent help from the international community. Nick Paton Walsh has more.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): This is what's become of one of the most influential men in the post-Soviet world,

Mikheil Saakashvili, allegedly throwing things and an unidentified figure in a clinic, in his native Georgia. He's in prison there on charges he says

are trumped up.

The authorities released these pictures to show what they call his, quote, "abuse and aggressive behavior". The trail blazing former president has

been on and off hunger strike, demanding better medical care. This week, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Georgia to give him

just that. "Please, make a decision that can save his life", the president said. Transfer Mikheil Saakashvili to one of the clinics in Ukraine,

another European country, America."

The new thorn in Putin's side, standing up for the first. The young American trained lawyer led street protests to unseat Georgia's long-

serving President, former Soviet, Eduard Shevardnadze back in 2003. The so- called Rose Revolution was a shot of freedom in the region's arm where similar protests were followed.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER GEORGIAN PRESIDENT: They will stay here all night and for as long as it's possible -- as it's necessary to stop mass

scale fraud and rigging of elections.

WALSH: He was the face of liberty, fluent in many languages and caused panic in the Kremlin.


The darling of U.S. neo-cons, Saakashvili soon found himself at war with Russia in 2008. A brief conflict in which Putin said he would hang him by

his balls. He didn't. And Georgia and its president survived. But by 2013, Saakashvili left office unpopular, and protested against, despite the

widespread reform he had imposed on Georgia.

He got a second lease of life when he left for Ukraine, but it was sweet, then suddenly sour. Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko in 2015 gave him

Ukrainian citizenship so he could govern the region around Odessa. But they quickly fell out when Saakashvili accused Poroshenko of corruption, then

began an ugly series of scenes, arrests, protests, leading to Saakashvili's return to Georgia to face trial for abuse of power and hospitalization

after hunger strikes. His rise and fall, a parable of Russia's continued grip over its empire. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


MACFARLANE: Now, as we head into the depths of Winter, imagine for a moment a world without penguins. A study released just minutes ago says

that could actually happen by the end of this century. The report says that 65 percent of all the plants and animals that live in the Antarctic could

be wiped out in the next 80 years if we fail to rein in fossil fuel emissions.

The report specifically says, Emperor penguins and Adelie penguins are among the most threatened species in the Antarctic. They both rely on ice

shells to nest and raise their babies. Even a small shift in when and where those ice sheets form could decimate the population. The study is from the

"Journal PLOS Biology".

An incredibly sad it is to look at those images. All right, still to come tonight, hours of witness testimony in almost 900-page report and a damning

conclusion. Up next, we'll look at the January 6th Committee's findings. Plus, the young athletes who are using their agility to save energy. We'll

take you to Paris, next.



SOARES: This just in to CNN, the U.S. House has just approved a $1.7 trillion measure to fund critical government operations. It also includes

$45 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine and NATO allies. The Senate already has passed the bill. So now, it's up to President Biden who is expected to

sign it.

Now Donald Trump should be barred from ever holding public office again. That's one of the major conclusions of the U.S. House Committee

investigating the January 6th insurrection. Its final reports, which is some 845 pages long explains that Trump and his allies were involved in a

scheme to overturn the presidential election. The committee says that included encouraging a far-right militia to lead a mob into the Capitol to

disrupt the transfer of power.

CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paul Reid joins me now live from Washington. This is a bold conclusion from the committee, laying the blame

for the insurrection squarely at the feet of Donald Trump. Just talk us through some of the recommendations that came out of this report.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The committee made multiple recommendations, including, of course, that Trump should be barred

from ever holding office again. They also want to see the attorneys that were advising him and involved in this campaign are pushing these false

allegations of voter fraud, they want to see them held accountable. But they also want to see legislative reforms to the Electoral Count Act. Now

interestingly, that is something that has a support, that is something that is expected to pass. So, that will be one legislative victory as a result

of this investigation.

Now this investigation has been going on for over a year and a half. And I was actually pretty surprised by how much new information there was in this

report. We had, of course, these blockbuster hearings with high profile witnesses over the summer. There was a hearing earlier this week and

executive summary. So it was interesting to see the new evidence that they laid out in support of this conclusion that January 6 would not have

happened without the Former President.

This revealed new details about how it was always the plan, it was premeditated to declare victory no matter what the election outcome was. We

got new details about over 120 -- excuse me, over 200 attempts to press state officials to overturn election results and new details about what was

going on in the White House while the Capitol was attacked. Former aides of the president testifying that he watched this unfold on TV made no calls to

get help for those on Capitol Hill, and that they were disgusted and surprised really that he would use his time and energy to tweet attacks on

his own vice president while this violence was being carried out.

And we do expect the committee will be releasing additional transcripts of interviews that is conducted with witnesses, many people in Trump's orbit,

so likely more to come over the next weeks. But now, this is all in the hands of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is looking at possible criminal


SOARES: Yes, so much to digest here. You said over 200 new details. And to your point, the DOJ, they're going to have to make their own assessments on

this. So how do you think the special counsel will move, you know, in the days and weeks to come?

REID: So we know the Special Counsel Jack Smith, he's been working from Europe after a bicycle accident. He's been working remotely. He's expected

to be back here physically in the United States by early January. And that's when he'll be able to set up his office. And the expectation is move

these investigations into January 6 and potential mishandling of classified information at Mar-a-Lago along pretty quickly now the fact that they have

all this evidence from the January 6th committee that will help them likely make their charging decisions.

They've been asking for a lot of these transcripts. They've wanted this information. CNN has learned that earlier this month, the Special Counsel

requested from the committee in a letter, all of the evidence that it has gathered, they're finally getting more of these transcripts. So that will

help them move along more quickly. It's unclear if any criminal charges will be brought just because there's a recommendation from Congress to

criminally charge. That doesn't mean that there will be an indictment in this case or any other.

But Jack Smith, he's got a lot of work to do with his crew. And time is of the essence, because there are concerns that the Attorney General even has

outlined about how far these investigations will go into the presidential cycle now that former President Trump is making another run for the White


SOARES: Paula, thank you so much for breaking this down. Not an easy task to do. And, of course, there's still so much more to come. We will check

back in with you as this evolves. Thank you very much now live from Washington.


Our parkour athletes scale walls and jump over staircases, and some in Paris are using those talents to keep businesses from wasting energy.

Saskya Vandoorne reports.


SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Once a month, Kevin Ha and his friends take small steps to save energy in France through the unusual sport of

parkour. By day, you'll find them jumping, running, climbing and somersaulting over obstacles across Paris. So that by night, using the wall

run technique, they turn off outdoor lights that have been left on.


KEVIN HA, PARKOUR ATHLETE: Seeing those lights turned on all the night is such an absurdity in a world with limited resources. So the best way to

save energy is actually to consume less.


VANDOORNE: The Lights-Off movement, started about two years ago, went viral and has been spreading beyond Paris to cities including Marseille, Rennes,

Dijon, and Tours. The group can get through 60 lights a night. They say they are just enforcing a long forgotten law. That stalls should turn off

window displays between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. or face a fine of up to $1,600.


HA: But the real question is what we can leave for the next generations. We can just send a larger message and tell them to be careful. We need

everyone to take part of the movement in order to have a real impact.


VANDOORNE: Their actions have also caught the public's imagination, because of Europe's energy crisis with the French government asking households and

businesses to make real changes this winter.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): They don't move on. Don't be afraid of the times we live in. They are tough. I don't know what

will happen in the next few weeks. So we have to be prepared for anything. But we are a strong nation and we are here. But it is in this moment that

the most daring win.


VANDOORNE: Across Europe, Christmas lights will be dimmed this year to send a message of energy conservation and solidarity with the people already

feeling the pinch of high utility bills and inflation.

When people think of Christmas lights in Paris, they picture the Champs Elysees. But this year, in a bid to save electricity, the lights wrapped

around this 400 trees will be switched off two hours early.


DAN LERT, DEPUTY MAYOR OF PARIS (through translator): Our goal is to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent this winter, and we're going to take

several measures to achieve that. We are going to lower the temperature in our schools, our municipal facilities, our gymnasiums, and our colleges by

one degree. We will also lower the temperature in our municipal swimming pools.


VANDOORNE: Despite these energy saving measures, the threat of blackouts loom, as does the prospect that even the City of Light may have to go dark.

Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.


SOARES: Now Santa Claus is coming to town and while you wait for the jingle of bells, that means he's near and you can track his progress. The North

American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, will activate its Santa tracking system at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Eve. They've even

given us the details of Santa's sleigh. It will travel around the world faster than starlight and weighs more than 75,000 gumdrops. And that's

before all the milk and cookies.

We are very lucky to be joined via Skype by one of Santa's own trackers, Deputy NORAD Commander Lieutenant General Alain Pelletier to give us an

update before Santa takes to the skies. Thank you so much for joining us. A very important update. First of all, just begin by telling us what NORAD

does and how your command center are able to track Tranter Santa on his route.

LT. GEN. ALAIN PELLETIER, DEPUTY COMMANDER, NORAD: So on a daily basis, actually, NORAD is involved in monitoring the North American airspace for

Canada and the U.S. to ensure safety and security of the airspace about both of our countries. But on the 24th, we pick up a very special mission

that is actually still using the same enterprise, the same people, same systems that we use on a daily basis, but this time, to track Santa and

we've been doing this for the last 67 years.

SOARES: That's a long time. And, you know, we know of course that Santa has a lot of ground to cover in one night globally, of course. Can you give us

any insight into the technical sort of capabilities of his sleigh and how fast he can move?

PELLETIER: Well, fast, the speed that I believe is classified only as elf and Santa knows really. And I know that having been on the sleigh during my

previous time as a pilot and he has to actually slow down in order to enable us to actually intercept, come on board on his sleigh, and make sure

that everything is all right.


SOARES: You --

PELLETIER: So, he's extremely fast. He relies on a couple of systems. I believe that he has upgraded the sleigh slowly over the years and decades

that he's been on this mission. But his key ingredients to success is Rudolph with his red nose that is able to actually guide him through

storms, and dark skies, and winds, and get into destination so that he is able to actually deliver his presents to every one of the kids around the


SOARES: So you -- I think you've already buried the lede there, you just said that you have been a guest on his sleigh. What was that experience


PELLETIER: Well, it's exciting, but part of our job is to be on the standby. We have fighter pilots and controllers, ground controllers that

are on the watch 24/7, 365 days a year. And this time, during that night, we're on the standby to be able to actually pay visit, but also be able to

actually assist in any event that he would require assistance. And so excitement because we launch with the fighter jet very quickly, get on the

vector, get airborne, and get above the cloud and meet with Santa. And it's just an amazing sight to actually be able to see the sleighs and the

reindeer but also get to wave at Santa by rocking our wings and e-wave at him with this big white glove there, so.

SOARES: Really sounds like you have the best job in the world, I have to say. Thank you so much for bringing us your insight. And we know, of

course, that we can track Santa from 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. And, of course, people can call NORAD to find out more about Santa but for now,

Lieutenant, best of luck on your travels. And we hope, of course, it's a smooth sail for Santa himself. Appreciate you being with us.

PELLETIER: Thank you. And we invite everyone to follow Santa on or to call us at 1-877-HI-NORAD.

SOARES: You heard it here first. All right. Thank you so much. And as Santa --

PELLETIER: Thank you

SOARES: -- prepares to set off on his world-famous delivery round, he's already been spotted in a few unusual places. He's been riding the back of

a camel through the streets of Jerusalem before heading underwater and delighting audiences in Rio by taking a dip in the city's aquarium.

He's also been seen up in the sky spreading Christmas cheer in a hot air balloon. I wonder what his reindeer had to say about that one. Quite a busy

48 hours obviously ahead. And look, it has begun to snow and sparkle here in the studio. So with that, I will say from my team myself a very happy

Christmas. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. And stay with CNN. "LIVING GOLF" is up next.