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Chinese Lawmakers Approve Two-Child Policy; Pope Celebrates Feast Of The Holy Family; Quest To Recreate Wine That Jesus Drank; Clinton To Unleash Not-So-Secret Campaign Weapon; 2015's Top Ten U.S. Political Stories; Severe Weather Sweeps The Globe. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 27, 2015 - 05:30   ET


[05:31:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Beginning January 1st, China will officially end its decades-old controversial one child policy. Chinese lawmakers approved a new law on Sunday. This law allows couples to have two children. The change comes in response to that country's aging population.

And at the Vatican, Pope Francis, he has wrapped up his homily for the last Sunday mass of 2015, The Feast of the Holy Family. And in fact, family has been a major theme for the Pope with the last two Synods of bishops under his reign devoted to it.

For some context on what's happening in Rome let's go live there to our Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen.

John, good to have you there on what seems to be a beautiful but you say chilly day in Rome. John, let's talk about the issue of the family, a very important issue to the Pope. So, what should we be looking forward here?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, hello there, George. Happy holidays to you. You're right, Pope Francis this morning celebrated the mass for the church's traditional Feast of the Holy Family, meaning Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Pope holds this mass in the context of this special holy year of mercy that he has decreed for the next 12 months.

He talked this morning about the family as the place where one learns mercy, learns how to forget. He said, let us not lose faith in the family and he told the families gathered with him in St. Peter's Basilica that the church and the world needs you today more than ever.

As you say, this theme of the family is incredibly important for Pope Francis having called these two very tumultuous summits of Catholic bishops known as Synods devoted to the issue where they debated matter such as communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, the right kind of language to use about gay and lesbian relationships, what to do about people living outside of marriage. And in fairly short order, perhaps as early as February, we're expecting Francis to issue a major document known as an apostolic exhortation drawing conclusions on those issues. Now, he didn't get into any of that today, George, and in fact, this mass was a chance for the Pope to sort of catch his breath to offer a positive upbeat message about the family ahead of having to make some very tough decisions. George.

HOWELL: John Allen, live for us in Rome. John, thank you so much for the insight in what's happening there at Rome today.

As it goes with the Bible, there are many references to wine. Jesus himself said that he is said to have made wine out of water and winemakers near the birthplace of Jesus are now trying to recreate what he drank. Here's our Oren Liebermann with the story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christmas in Bethlehem, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the beginning of the New Testament. At a monastery nearby, they craft a key component of many of biblical story, wine as made in the time of Jesus.

FADI BATARSEH, WINEMAKER, CREMISAN WINERY: We are concentrating on making the wine and the --

LIEBERMANN (on camera): Hope the history comes with it?

BATARSEH: The history comes with it, of course, yes. And hopefully, God is happy with our wine.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The winemaking process has come a long way since biblical times with stainless steel, fermenting tanks, and oak barrels, which I would describe as epic.

(on camera): I've never sat on top of 4,000 liters of wine before.

(voice-over): Tradition and history out of every bottle.

ZIAD BITAR, MANAGER, CREMISAN WINERY: When you say Jesus drank from this wine, so it means to say a huge thing so you have to continue on making this wine better and better every year.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Cremisan was the first winery in the region to return to making wine from only local grapes, the same used thousands of years ago.

BITAR: And the book is the name of the grape that grows only here in our country.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): After an intro to local grapes, we pour a tasting, I admit not the first or last tasting on the story, then sniff.

(on camera): Smells good, smells fresh, ripe.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Swirl, sip, and enjoy.

(on camera): And has that fresh ripe taste to match.

(voice-over): At Ariel University researchers trace the genetic vine to uncover which grapes are native to the Holy Land, testing ancient seeds preserved in archaeological digs.

ELIYASHIV DRORI, RESEARCHER, ARIEL UNIVERSITY: When finding archeological finding of seeds occurs, 99 percent of the times it's burnt and the seeds are actually charred. This is the reason that they were preserved.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): You can see the right seed is the burnt where it's darker, it's a little more shriveled, and that's on left is a modern day fresh --

DRORI: Exactly.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): -- Merlot seed.

[05:36:00] Off the coast, winemaker Avi Feldstein shows us his vineyards of recently harvested Dabouki grapes. There were heavy restrictions on winemaking in the Holy Land for hundreds of years under the Ottoman Empire.

AVI FELDSTEIN, WINEMAKER: These are falls (ph) away after the season but you can still find a few edible berries.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The grapes that survived were table grapes.

(on camera): And so the wine from this grape could be the wine that Jesus drank.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Turning them into wine is still a new idea.

(on camera): It has tremendous sweetness too but it is --

FELDSTEIN: Yes, it was.

LIEBERMANN (on camera): -- it's overripe now. The French have a word "terroir" which describes the place the wine is from. What does that mean here?

FELDSTEIN: It actually expresses the sense of the wine.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): A sense of people, place, and crucially, of history. There is tremendous marketing potential here. A wine from biblical times, a wine that Jesus drank being bottled once again.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, the Holy Land.


HOWELL: You're watching CNN Newsroom. Still ahead with the first U.S. Democratic primary getting closer. Hillary Clinton looks to cement her lead with her not-so-secret weapon. Details on that ahead.

Plus, 2015, it has been a year, a very busy year of politics in the U.S. But ahead, a look at some of the controversies that made our top 10 list.


HOWELL: As the first U.S. Democratic primary election approaches, Hillary Clinton is starting to use one advantage that none of her Democratic rivals can replicate. It's a person who has been down this road once before, her husband, the former President Bill Clinton. He is now set to join her on the campaign trail and CNN's Joe Johns explains the impact that it could have.


[05:41:10] HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Starting in January, I will have my not-so-secret weapon.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Bill Clinton was a candidate running for the White House, he told voters you get two for the price of one. The only former president to have a spouse running for office is getting ready to join her as she makes her second run.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have noticed and in my studies of history I've noticed that most successful presidents are those who get elected at a time that they are (inaudible) --


B. CLINTON: And she's the best qualified person for the time.


B. CLINTON: Thank you very much.

JOHNS (voice-over): But the last time the former president stunt for his wife, the results were mixed.

B. CLINTON: I highly recommend it.

JOHNS (voice-over): In 2008, amid a tight race with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton played a prominent role, campaigning for Hillary in key early primary states. But along with the large and enthusiastic crowds came a series of verbal miscues including a harsh assessment of Obama.

B CLINTON: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I've ever seen.

JOHNS (voice-over): And days later, an off-the-cuff comment in South Carolina suggesting that skin color was a key factor in winning the primary there.

B. CLINTON: Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in '84 and '88.

JOHNS (voice-over): Questions quickly arose whether Mr. Clinton was doing more harm than good. And though he remained on the trail through the later primaries, he was tightly guarded, kept on script, and away from the media. But how do say no to the man who was revered among Democrats, popular among all Americans, and whose penchant for delivering a memorable line cannot be understated.

B. CLINTON: What new ideas do we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer, arithmetic.

JOHNS (voice-over): A lot has changed since Bill Clinton's successful run more than two decades ago when Hillary was credited for standing by her man as charges of infidelity daunt him. This time, Hillary is the candidate, Bill is the spouse, and Chelsea is the mom.

H. CLINTON: Now, it's a little bit more complicated with him because people still call former presidents, Mr. President.


H. CLINTON: So I have to really work on this.

KIMMEL: I know how difficult. The first president lady would be a nice thing. The first lady visit the --

H. CLINTON: But the first dude, first mate first gentleman. I'm just not sure about it.

KIMMEL: Does the first lady typically pick out a new China pattern in the --

H. CLINTON: Typically, yes.

KIMMEL: So would Bill do that? While you're actually in China, will be he selecting it?


JOHNS (on camera): Bill Clinton has not been invisible during his wife's run, he's attended a handful of campaign events and he's been quietly raising money for the campaign. But now, as we enter the final stretch to Iowa in the primaries you can expect to see the former president back in the spotlight.

Joe Johns, CNN Washington.

HOWELL: Republican candidate Donald Trump shining in, chiming in on this, tweeting his disapproval of Mrs. Clinton's campaign move saying the following quote, "Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out on the campaign but he has demonstrated a penchant for sexism." "So inappropriate," he says. Trump made a point of emphasizing the phrase penchant for sexism after Ms. Clinton said the same of him in a recent interview.

U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both found a spot on this year's top 10 political stories. To tell you who landed at number one as CNN Newsroom continues.


[05:46:16] DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT HOST: I'm Don Riddell with your CNN World Sport headlines. In the build up to Saturday's Premier League game against Turkey, it was obvious that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was feeling the pressure and his team failed to respond. The traditional Boxing Day fixture was a miserable experience for United.

Stoke beat them two-nil leaving van Gaal to field even more uncomfortable questions about his future. They haven't won any of their last seven games. They've now lost their last four no competitions including defeats to Bromwich and Norwich too of the promoted sides.

What's making van Gaal perhaps a bit one of this is the fan of Jose Mourinho who's lurking on the horizon having been relieved of his duties at Chelsea. United's next game, by the way, is against the Blues.

At Chelsea, now Guus Hiddink can charge for the second time and then his first game back, he could only manage a tour draw against Watford at home. Diego Costa scored twice but Oscar missed a penalty and so they are still very much in trouble.

Mixed emotions from Manchester City meanwhile, they were the only top three side to win but victory came with a price. Vincent Kompany's return from injury lasted only nine minutes before he limp off, hurt again. And it was his cuff which has kept him on the sidelines for the last eight games. It is a potentially major blow for City. He need the Belgium captain for defense stability. But they did win the game beating Sunderland four-one.

That is a look at your sport headlines. I'm Don Riddell.


HOWELL: Fans of the rock group Radiohead are getting an unexpected gift to ring in the New Year.

You just heard a split (ph) there of a song the British group wrote for the latest James Bond movie, "Spectre." But, it was never used. Radiohead hasn't said why. Vocalist Thom Yorke tweeted this though, "As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it. Merry Christmas. May the force be with you." The theme was ultimately recorded by British star Sam Smith. It hit number one in the U.K. and has since been nominated for a Golden Globe.

In 2015, U.S. politics ran the gamut from the comical to the outrageous with plenty of surprises in between. And of the many significant political developments, our Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper has a top 10 for the year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAKE TAPPER, CNN WASHINGTO CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Number 10. After a quarter century in Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner declared he was done. Pushed out, many say, by the Tea Partiers and his deeply divided Republican caucus.

JOHN BOHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I leave with no regrets, no burdens.

TAPPER (voice-over): After initially backing, Wisconsin's Congressman Paul Ryan finally accepted the gavel.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Thank you. Thank you.

We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.

TAPPER (voice-over): Number nine. Same sex marriage was deemed legal nationwide. Though in some states, county clerk, such as Kim Davis, refused to give their stamp of approval citing their religious convictions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's authority?


TAPPER (voice-over): Davis spent five days in jail over the divisive issue.

Number eight. An anti-abortion group released videos. They say, showed Planned Parenthood staffers proposing selling fetal tissue for profit. The heavily edited videos were hotly contested and defunding debate was on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Planned Parenthood must be defunded.

H. CLINTON: I will defend Planned Parenthood.

TAPPER (voice-over): In November, three people were killed at a Colorado clinic after this man open fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protect the babies.

TAPPER (voice-over): Planned Parenthood blamed heated political rhetoric for the attack.

[05:51:00] Number seven. The Obama administration negotiated with Iran, ending sanctions in exchange for promises of an Iran free of nuclear weapons. Israel's prime minister was vehemently opposed.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: It doesn't block Iran path to the bomb. It paves Iran's path to the bomb.

TAPPER (voice-over): President Obama vowed to veto any congressional attempt to block the deal.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The majority of members of this Congress do not support this deal.

TAPPER (voice-over): But Secretary of State John Kerry was also adamant.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no alternative.

TAPPER (voice-over): Number six. Hillary Clinton repeatedly defended her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

H. CLINTON: Everything I did was permitted.

TAPPER (voice-over): And FBI investigation into the matter notwithstanding, even her chief Democratic opponent said he had heard enough about the controversy.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

TAPPER (voice-over): Clinton was confronted for hours during a hearing about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and about those e-mails.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It was you and your attorneys who decided what to return and what to delete.

TAPPER (voice-over): Number five. Nine African-Americans, including a state senator, were gunned down at this South Carolina church by a 21-year-old white supremacist.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group.

TAPPER (voice-over): The killer had posed for photographs with the Confederate flag, prompting the question, was it time for the flag to be removed from the state capital? Debate was passionate. And in the end, the flag was history.

Number four. Millions fled war-torn parts of the Middle East into Europe. President Obama vowed to take in up to 10,000 Syrian refugees.

OBAMA: Those countries that can, must do more to accommodate refugees.

TAPPER (voice-over): But when at least one of the Paris terrorists was linked to the masses entering Europe, 31 U.S. governors vowed to shut their doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Embedded in that group are people who are out to destroy us.

TAPPER (voice-over): Then, after terrorist struck California, Donald Trump said all Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S., prompting a fierce backlash.

Number three. The Black Lives Matter movement became ever present in politics. Thousands rallied in Baltimore in Chicago after young black men in each city died during police confrontations. After shocking video emerged of Freddie Gray's arrest in Baltimore and Laquan McDonald's shooting in Chicago, police officers were charged with murder in both cities. And Chicago's mayor came under pressure to step down.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: We got to fight back.

TAPPER (voice-over): Number two. According to President Obama, ISIS rose from a so-called J.V. squad last year to become a "contained threat." But after two massacres in Paris drew world leaders into the fight and an attack in California killed 14 Americans, President Obama was forced to revise his message.

OBAMA: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.

TAPPER (voice-over): And the number one political story of 2015, the Donald.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm at number one by a lot.

TAPPER (voice-over): Donald Trump disrupting politics and redefining what it means to be a Republican presidential candidate.

TRUMP: When Mexico sends his people they're not sending their best.

TAPPER (voice-over): He's blunt, some say, bigoted behavior, was met with outrage and a seemingly unstoppable rise in Republican primary poll numbers.

TRUMP: And frankly, I'm the most solid person up here.

TAPPER (voice-over): Will he win the White House next year, or will America say you're fired?


HOWELL: And that was our Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper with the political top 10.

And now to a recap on our top story this hour. The extreme weather around the world this day from tornadoes to flooding and even wildfires. In Australia, a fire, the fire officials they -- there say a mammoth bushfire might keep burning into the New Year.

For Latin American countries are reeling from the worst flooding they've seen in years. More than 100,000 people have evacuated their homes of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and in Brazil. And in the United States, the state of California, people are being forced to evacuate after what you see there, a very fast-moving wildfire that has burned nearly 500 hectares or some 1,200 acres since Friday.

In the southern state of Alabama, there are fears that some rivers may overflow their levees. And in Texas, eight deaths are now attributed to a very strong storm system, the storm that included at least one powerful tornado.

A lot happening around the world, we will of course continue to follow the latest developments right here on CNN.

And with that, we thank you for watching this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "New Day" is next, and for other viewers around the world, "The Best of Quest" starts next.

Thank you for watching CNN, the world's news leaders.