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Investigation into Background of Alleged Truck Driver in Berlin Christmas Market Attack Continues; U.S. Abstains on U.N. Vote Concerning Israeli Settlements; Carrie Fisher Remains in Intensive Care; Political Moments of 2016 Recapped; Palestinian Christian's Brewery Profiled. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 24, 2016 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: -- the mother of the man who authorities say drove that truck into a crowd of people says her son is not a terrorist.


NOUR ELHOUDA HASSANI, ANIS AMRI'S MOTHER (via translator): I want the truth about what happened to my son. I want the Tunisian and German government to tell me what happened to my son. We want the truth about my son who died as a suspect, and the truth died with him. They think he was a terrorist? No. My son was not a terrorist. They should have arrested him and conducted an investigation.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Plus the U.S. is on alert as many prepare for Christmas one day away and Hanukkah beginning tonight. The FBI has issued a new warning about possible ISIS threats to churches and holiday events.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, the State Department is posting a travel warning for citizens traveling to Egypt and Jordan. This comes amid ongoing threats posed by terror groups and recent attacks in those countries. Let's get right to CNN international correspondent Nina dos Santos in Milan where the Berlin attacker was killed. Nina, first, these breaking developments about the three men arrested, calling them 'terrorist elements." What else have you learn?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Tunisian interior ministry is confirming here this afternoon that these three individuals aged between 18 and 27 years old, and they were arrested in various towns south of the capital Tunis. One of them, as you were pointing out, appears to have been a relative, indeed the nephew of Amri. And apparently according to Tunisian interior ministry officials, he had confessed he was in contact with his uncle who was killed here in this parking lot about a day and a half ago. And he via the encrypted messaging app system Telegram, this is a system that's well known by jihadists to communicate in secret to evade security surveillance.

And apparently his uncle had also, according to Tunisian interior military officials, sent money over to this particular nephew of his and asked him to join ISIS. So that's the latest the Tunisians are talking about, a cell that they have apprehended over in Tunisia. Over here in this parking lot where the main suspect in the Berlin truck attack lost his life the night before yesterday evening at 3:00 in the morning after a gunfight with police officers. The question is, was he alone, did he manage to make it through to Italy alone? Those are the kinds of lines of investigation that authorities are looking into. For now, they're saving that they have evidence of him being on his own as he passed through two major Italian train stations on his journey to the parking lot in the northeast of Milan, Victor.

BLACKWELL: So we know that you spoke with this Italian counterterrorism official who said that he had the hallmarks of being on the run alone. What were those hallmarks?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, one of the things that was very interesting is that it was confirmed to me that he was wearing various sets of clothes on top of each other, so three pairs of trousers I was told. And that often is consistent with people who need to get changed very quickly if they need to change their dress to evade security officials. Remember, this is an individual who was wanted. There was an international arrest warrant with his image plastered all over train stations across Europe and also airports by the way. And there was a $100,000 reward for any information that led to his capture.

But despite all of that he seems to have managed to make it by train out of Germany through France and here to northern Italy where really he was apprehended by chance when two police officers decided to do a routine I.D. check. Instead he pulled out a pistol instead of those documents and began firing and he was shot in the subsequent shootout.

So the big question is, why was he in his parking lot? We know that there are buses that leave from here to southern Italy. He spent a lot of time in southern Italy. There are also buses that leave to North Africa near Tunisia as well. So that will be a line of investigation you can bet for territories.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nina dos Santos for us there in Milan, Nina, thank you so much. Let's bring in now CNN contributor and co-author of the book "ISIS, Inside the Army of Terror," Michael Weiss. Michael, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Let's start with this detail that we learned from the Tunisian interior ministry. Not only this app through which the nephew of Amri says he was communicating with the Berlin attacker but also that there was money being sent potentially to the other members of this cell, these terrorist elements, money still being one of the prime lures for people who, I guess, in Tunisia to join is.

WEISS: Absolutely. You know, I've talked to a number of ISIS defectors from Europe, one from France, actually, who said that, look, we were joining up because they had the most discipline, they had the most organization, the most command and control, and most importantly, they pay well. They certainly pay well in comparison to the Free Syria Army or other rival groups in Syria and Iraq. They're still running a gray market and black market economy. They're car dealerships allegedly that are controlled by ISIS.

[10:05:15] A recent defector from the organization is responsible or was responsible for all of their real estate investments in Turkey, buying up apartment blocks, Turks, you know, renting apartments not knowing their landlord is an internationally ascribed terror organization. So there's very elaborate mafia style tactics by which they enrich themselves.

Look, Tunisia has been the number one Middle Eastern feeder country for foreign fighters to ISIS. We tend to think because we live in the west that real boogie man is guys from France and Belgium and Canada and America. But actually the foreign fighters are from other Arab countries in the region.

This attack never, ever struck me as being a lone wolf or ISIS inspired. For one thing we now know that Anis Amri was part of this network that was run by a guy named Abu Walaa, a 32-year-old Iraqi cleric, who was identified by a former agent that he sent into Syria to join ISIS as the number one ISIS recruiter in all of Germany.

So this is a vast network. I think the German security services know the full extent to how many people have passed through it or are paid up member, sleepers lying in wait for other attacks. And the fact he got from Berlin all the way to Milan also suggests he had help. And it's by no means a surprise that members of his own family might be colluding with him. Remember the Paris attackers, Salah Abdeslam and his brother were part of that attack. His brother committed suicide by detonating his vest. Salah Abdeslam is now sitting in a jail cell.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about this bulletin that has been put out by federal authorities here in the states warning about potential threats or attacks at churches, houses of worship, or these public holiday gatherings. This is new for the west, attacking churches. But this is something that's been going on closer to that self- declared state for some time. Is this, as we discussed last hour, a shift toward going toward churches and places of worship here in the west, or is this an expansion from what we've talked about for some time now, the targets of law enforcement and the targets of the military primarily in the west?

WEISS: For ISIS to kill an American soldier is a greater scalp, so to speak, than killing an ordinary civilian. Second to that would be killing a police officer or a member of the intelligence services. But it's becoming increasingly difficult to do that for ISIS because you have to stage and plan these elaborate attacks. Much easier to get into a truck, particularly one loaded with 25 tons of steel, and turn it into a mobile battering-ram and just mow down scores of civilians in a crowded marketplace.

A church, you know, we've seen this in our own country, completely divorced from any notion of Islamic or jihadi terrorism, a church is the softest of soft targets. Dylann Roof just walked right in in Charleston and shot up an entire church. There was no security outside. If he can do it, an ISIS affiliate or an ISIS member can do the same. Now, you're quite right, in the west, we haven't typically associated

ISIS targets with houses of worship, although, in the Middle East, I can tell you, when they took Raqqa, I remember interviewing a Raqqan school teacher who told me that they had burnt down one of the most historic churches in Raqqa City. So this is nothing new for ISIS.

BLACKWELL: All right, Michael Weiss, thanks for being with us this morning. We heard from our contributors, Juliette Kayyem and Phil Mudd, to still go to church and go to these celebrations. Don't let this stop you from enjoying this season. Mike, thank you so much. Alison?

KOSIK: All right, there is new diplomatic fallout this morning after the U.S. refused to veto a highly controversial U.N. resolution defying pressure from Israel and president-elect Trump. Israel says it will not comply with the new resolution which condemned the construction of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The measure passed overwhelmingly after the United States abstained, ending years of protecting Israel from such a rebuke at the U.N.

Here's how the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, explained her vote.


SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It is because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel, because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution, and because the United States does not agree with every word in this text, that the United States did not vote in favor of the resolution. But it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administrations throughout the history of the state of Israel, that the United States did not veto it.


[10:10:00] KOSIK: CNN's Oren Liebermann has the latest from Jerusalem. So Oren, what is the reaction from Israelis? Do they see this as a parting shot from President Obama who has, you know, less than a month to go before he leaves office?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think very much so. And it certainly seems that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees it that way. He made it very clear he's furious with the resolution and President Obama for allowing this to pass. Netanyahu used whatever he could to try to divert this, even calling or having his office call president-elect Trump to see how he could intervene. And it was an unprecedented in which he stepped in. He succeeded in delaying this for 24 hours but it became clear that there was too much of an international consensus on criticism of the settlements and on this resolution. It was reintroduced. It passed, and that led to a furious reaction from Prime Minister Netanyahu, an even unprecedented reaction the likes of which we've never seen in terms of Israeli criticism of the American government. Here is part of that statement, "The Obama administration not only

failed to protect Israel against this gang up at the U.N., it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with president-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution."

Netanyahu making it clear he's done working with Obama and is ready for president-elect Trump. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders welcome this resolution. They say it is long overdue. It reflects international law, they say, and it finally holds, they say, Israel accountable for settlements in the West Bank. Alison?

KOSIK: CNN's Oren Liebermann, thanks so much for your report.

BLACKWELL: So what does this mean for the future of the U.S./Israel relationship? We're going to have a conversation about that. We have got with us our CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and our presidential historian Douglas Brinkley after the break.


BLACKWELL: All right, it is President Obama versus president-elect Trump there, dueling voices some would say, shaking up foreign policy. The most recent hardline divide between them comes after the U.S. refused to veto a highly controversial U.N. resolution, defying pressure from Israel and president-elect Trump. Let's bring in Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor with "The Atlantic," and Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian. Good morning to both of you.


BLACKWELL: So Ron, I want to start with you and what we heard from the deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes in response to questions about if this is the White House showing that they do not have Israel's back. Let's watch.


[10:15:05] BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's just not backed up by the record. We just concluded a $38 billion 10 year MOU for security assistance to Israel. We've had unprecedented security cooperation with Israel under this administration. But the fact of the matter is for years, Jim, and you know from this covering the issue, we have expressed grave concern about continued Israeli settlement construction. And the fact is this settlement construction pushes far outside the boundary of even the security barrier that the Israelis built for themselves. It's deep.


BLACKWELL: We know that that isn't resonating with Netanyahu, but how is that explanation, that characterization resonating here domestically? BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think it accurately reflects the divide.

Certainly the security relationship is strong. But there is a fundamental disagreement between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government as there was between Bill Clinton's government and Benjamin Netanyahu over what is the best long term path for stability and security for Israel.

Under Democratic presidents there is no question that there is a view that there needs to be a real two state solution to provide a lasting stable peace in that part of the world. And it is clear, also, that Benjamin Netanyahu is perfectly comfortable with a stalled peace process in which the Israel government creates facts on the ground in the West Back through the expansion of settlements. That divide is real. I think the way in which this is unfolded, I think, gives you a very clear sense that under Donald Trump there will be more deference to Benjamin Netanyahu's view of how things proceed, which makes it much tougher, I think, for the U.S. to function in the honest broker rule that president-elect Trump also talks about.

BLACKWELL: As the Obama administration ends, Douglas, is this the rhetorical low that many of his critics call -- described, rather, between the U.S. and Israel?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, look, I think all American presidents since the creation of Israel have, you know, been pro-Israel. I think certainly the Obama administration has. But as Ron has alluded to, President Obama does believe in the two state solution. He's been more of the Simon Peres kind of view of how Israel should move into the future.

You have now with Donald Trump a Likud Party rubber stamp almost. Listen to the things Trump said he's going to do. It's Netanyahu's dream. We're going to move the American embassy into Jerusalem. That's a very aggressive act. Donald Trump's going to say, you want to build? I'm a builder, build settlements. And make it -- you want to do security? We're going to build a security wall in Mexico. So I think this relationship between Trump and Netanyahu is going to become exceedingly interested and it's going to be very on the right side of the equation, meaning, hard right.

BLACKWELL: And Ron, we know, that the potential nominee or the nominee in waiting for the next ambassadorship to Israel is not a fan of the two state solution, calling it not a solution but a narrative and a narrative that has to end. How does this, I guess, play up or serve up his term in will it be Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?

BROWNSTEIN: As I said, you know, I think under Barack Obama and certainly Bill Clinton we saw a U.S. government that did not fundamentally accept the same definition as Benjamin Netanyahu's government of how Israel can best secure itself over the long term and had a vision that a genuine peace process leading toward a viable two state solution was the way to go.

Donald Trump through the appointment of David Freidman and his own comments and his intervention here has signaled he is willing, as Douglas said, to much more align himself with the Likud view, the Netanyahu view of the world and how you proceed. And I think the signal that has been sent by this appointment I think is pretty unmistakable.

The other point that's worth noting here is that the Netanyahu government reached out to Donald Trump during the transition, aware, I'm sure, of what a unique and unprecedented thing that is to do. And it is a continuation of the way in which he has aligned himself with one party in the U.S. more than anything foreign leader I have seen in my 35 years of covering American politics.

BLACKWELL: Douglas, let me come to you with the word we've heard a lot since the tweet came out from Donald Trump about the resolution, "unprecedented." You're the person to come to on precedent. Is this indeed unprecedented to have a president-elect try to influence a sitting president's decisions as it relates to the Security Council?

BRINKLEY: Yes, I mean, in every day Donald Trump seems to be wanting to intervene in that way. He has no patience for waiting till he's sworn in. He's trying to undermine all of Barack Obama's initiatives, and that creates a counter-narrative where the Obama administration is now trying to find lawyers to put roadblocks and obstacles into Donald Trump's path.

What's been interesting to me is that Trump and Obama personally aren't really exchanging harsh barbs. It's actually a fairly decent transition.

[10:20:03] I'm told in the White House the transition is going well. But Donald Trump wants to get his policies up and running now and Barack Obama is trying to say slow down, we're still the management for another month. So there's some friction going on this holiday season. And it's sending mixed signals around the world.

BLACKWELL: At least in front of the curtain the state department is saying they didn't feel like their hand was forced by this influence, I should say, from Donald Trump. Ron Brownstein, Douglas Brinkley, thank you both.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

KOSIK: All right, "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher still in ICU after suffering a cardiac arrest event while she was on a flight from London to L.A. last night. We're going to update you on her condition next.


KOSIK: We have been following "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher's condition after she suffered a full cardiac arrest on board a flight from London to Los Angeles last night. Her brother says she's still in the ICU but she's in stable condition. Her co-star in "Star Wars," Mark Hamill tweeted this in support of her recovery, saying "As if 2016 couldn't get any worse, sending our love to Carrie Fisher."

I want to talk more about her. Joining me now, entertainment journalist and co-host of "Jack Diamond Morning Show," Jimmy Alexander. Good morning, Jimmy.


KOSIK: Merry Christmas to you. So what have you heard about Carrie Fisher's trip from London to L.A.?

ALEXANDER: She was filming I guess the third season of an Amazon show "Catastrophe" while she was over there and doing different interview shows. And we've seen Carrie Fisher in the last couple of years more than we have in a very long time. So obviously it's just horrible to hear the news about Carrie Fisher.

If you don't mind, I want to go back, if you think about the 70s when Carrie really became famous on "Star Wars," before you had a James Bond girl, and all she did was go "Oh, James help me." But with Carrie Fisher, before there Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games," before there was Hermione, before there was all the Marvel ladies superheroes, there was one, and that was Princess Leia.

KOSIK: That's right. She was 19 years old when she was princess Leia. I loved watching her as a kid in Star Wars. You know, you look at who you've interviewed. You've interviewed Paul McCartney. You've interview Kim Kardashian. You've followed the ups and downs of the lives of celebrities. But as the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher didn't necessarily have it so easy.

[10:25:06] ALEXANDER: If you think about it, I saw Carrie Fisher's one woman show, "Wishful Drinking." And as she told this story, I think people forget, before TMZ and all the other entertainment shows, her mother was America's sweetheart and her father was a big star too. And Elizabeth Taylor stole her father. And as Carrie Fisher said that night on stage, it's kind of like Brad and Angelina and Jennifer Aniston then. And before there were all the cable networks and all the different magazines, there were only a couple, and it was such huge news and drama filled. And you think about a young lady who was born in Beverly Hills, went to Beverly Hills high school, she knows fame.

KOSIK: We wish her very, very well. Jimmy Alexander, thanks so much for walking us down memory lane.

ALEXANDER: I want to say merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and if you're an atheist, have a good day. Hi, Victor.



BLACKWELL: Jimmy used to be a regular on this show. Good to see him back with us, Jimmy alexander, there.

All right, 2016, a year that turned conventional politics upside down. A year filled with unforgettable moments. Which political moments made the list? We're counting them down ten to one. Stay with us.


KOSIK: Good morning and welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning, to you. Merry Christmas Eve to you as well.

No surprise politics dominated 2016. It was a year of surprises for some, heartbreak for others, excitement for a third group. CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper shows us the most unforgettable political moments.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This year everything we thought we knew about politics was turned on its head.

[10:30:00] Political attacks, e-mail hacks, and several cracks in the glass ceiling made for an unparalleled race between the first female major party nominee and a billionaire political outsider. President- elect Trump will soon take office, but first let's take a look at our top 10 political stories of 2016.

Number ten, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February, and in an unprecedented move Republicans vowed to block any high court appointments until after the presidential election.

JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENT: Simply to turn your back before the president even names a nominee is not an option the constitution leaves open.

TAPPER: Judge Merrick Garland was nominated in March before never had a hearing.

Number nine, in their final presidential year, the Obamas hit the campaign trail.

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: When they go low, we go high.

TAPPER: With more catch phrases.


TAPPER: And less restraint.

OBAMA: Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president.

TAPPER: But a different tone after the Democratic defeat.

Number eight.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: I beat everybody. I beat the hell out of them.

TAPPER: Donald Trump won the Republican nomination but struggled to win over the party. Republican leaders distanced themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you support him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just not ready to do that.

TAPPER: But will the party now unify around president Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hit the ground running.

TAPPER: Number seven, Trump's unvarnished campaign attracted extremist support.

TRUMP: I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy.

TAPPER: He was slow to denounce white supremacists.

TRUMP: David Duke endorsed me? OK, all right. I disavow. OK?

TAPPER: And his controversial rhetoric on race continued.

TRUMP: The judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall.

TAPPER: Even targeting the judge in his university fraud case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: I don't think so at all.

TAPPER: Number six, the conventions.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president.


TAPPER: Hillary Clinton made history in Philadelphia, and a gold star family made Trump an offer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you even red the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.

TAPPER: In Cleveland, Melania Trump's speech was familiar.

MICHELLE OBAMA: You work hard for what you want in life.

MELANIA TRUMP: That you work hard for you want in life.

TAPPER: And Senator Ted Cruz refused to endorse the nominee.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: Vote your conscious.

TAPPER: Number five, Trump's past wept public. There was a former Ms. Universe feud. He responded with a link to her past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sent out a series of tweets including one that told people to check out a sex tape.

TAPPER: Then a crude video of Trump.

TRUMP: Grab them by the --

TAPPER: He brushed it aside.

TRUMP: This was locker room talk.

TAPPER: But nearly a dozen assault accusers said it went further than words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His hands started going towards my knee and up my skirt.

TAPPER: Trump denied the allegations and said he would sue.

Number four, Senator Bernie Sanders build a huge movement.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: We are actually listening to the American people, not the one percent.


TAPPER: But was the system rigged against outsiders?

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton received about 450 super delegates before anybody else was in the race.

TAPPER: Bernie or bust protesters crowded the convention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're being ridiculous.

TAPPER: And refused to vote for Clinton.

Number three, Democrats were hacked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're under attack.

TAPPER: Stolen e-mails from the DNC revealed bias against Sanders, forcing the party chair to resign.

SANDERS: No question to my mind the DNC was in opposition to our campaign.

TAPPER: U.S. intelligence points to Russian cyber-attacks.

OBAMA: Our goal continues to be the send a clear message to Russia for others not to do this to us, because we can do stuff to you.

TAPPER: Number two.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information.

TAPPER: The FBI recommended no charges for Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. Still, the issue was gold for Republicans.

TRUMP: She's guilty as hell.

TAPPER: She tried to quell concerns.

CLINTON: My e-mails are so boring.

TAPPER: But the FBI announced they discovered new ones just before Election Day.

CLINTON: It's imperative the bureau explain this issue.

TAPPER: The trove contained nothing new but the damage was done.

Number one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race.

TAPPER: Donald Trump won the White House.

[10:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The campaign unlike anything we've seen in our lifetime.

TRUMP: I love this country.

TAPPER: As protesters took to the streets, Secretary Clinton bowed out.

CLINTON: We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought.

TAPPER: Now, a cabinet of billionaires, outsiders, and military men will join Trump for an era of who knows what.

Those were our top 10 political stories of this year. The question is who and what will top the list next year?

Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: All right, heads up, a big interview coming up a little later today. Senator Lindsey Graham is weighing in on the fallout after the U.S. refused to veto that highly controversial U.N. resolution. He's calling President Obama's foreign policy flat out reckless. Do not miss his interview when he sits down with Dana Bash this afternoon at 3:00 eastern only on CNN.

And still to come this hour, a jet full of NFL players gets stuck on the runway in Wisconsin and the fire department is called in to get them off that plane.

Also, two winter storms now sweeping across the country. When the snow and ice threat could hit your community.


KOSIK: Welcome back. More than 20 million people could see snow, they could see freezing rain or ice this weekend. A couple storms are sweeping the west and the northeast today just as millions are trying to get home for the holidays. Joining us now to talk about what's ahead, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Good morning, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And good morning, Alison. We're taking a look at the northeast to start where we have some very heavy rain coming into New York and down towards Washington, D.C. It's finally starting to exit or lighten up near Philadelphia. But now we're starting to see some of the heaviest rain move to Boston and snow.

Not too far away from that down south heavy rain moving into Knoxville, Nashville, and even into Memphis. And some heavy rain out to the west too around Las Vegas. This is the system that all eyes are on in terms of what it will do in the future because this is what really going to bring us much of our winter weather forecast for much of the west and also into the Midwest.

[10:40:12] Blizzard warnings in effect for some of those northern states like North Dakota and South Dakota. This system begins to progress east in the next 24 hours, bringing the heavy snow and rain to the Midwest. But then on the south side, we're talking the potential for severe weather as well. And that's going to be a concern going forward. We have a threat not only for damaging winds but also for isolated tornados on Christmas day.

Now we're not the only ones that could be looking at a threat for Christmas day. We're also taking a look at the Pacific Ocean where we have a super typhoon that is expected to make landfall in the Philippines on Christmas day. Winds right now around 150 miles per hour. This makes it equivalent to a category four hurricane only seven miles per hours below the category five threshold, and the winds right now gusting to 185 miles per hour.

Movement is relatively slow out of the west and we do have the track. Now, it's expected to make landfall in the Philippines around 2:00 p.m. Christmas day local time. That would be around 1:00 in the morning Christmas day here eastern time zone. So Alison, Victor, again, unfortunately we've got two different areas looking at two potential hazardous events to happen on Christmas day.

KOSIK: We wish them well. That looks like a monster storm. Allison, thanks very much.

BLACKWELL: All right, a plane carrying the Minnesota Vikings skids off an icy runway. And the airport is forced to use a fire truck ladder to get those players off the plane. This happened at the Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin. No one was hurt, so they had a good time with this. They actually seem to be thrilled by this experience. The team even shared the video on their website.

KOSIK: Taking a look at other stories in the world of sports that we're watching. A college football player makes an emotional apology more than two years after punching a woman in the face. Here's our Coy Wire.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said he wanted to address this issue earlier but his legal team advised him not to do so. The incident happened two years ago, but this disturbing video was released eight days ago. It shows Amelia Molitor shoving and slapping Mixon. But we won't show you what happened next. Mixon punched Molitor so hard he broke her nose and cheek bone, fractured her jaw and orbital bone near her eye. She had her jaw wired shut as well. Mixon issued a formal apology last month but in the wake of the video's release he spoke publicly to say he's sorry.


JOE MIXON: I want to apologize. I apologize to my coach, I apologize to President Warren, my teammates, most of all, my family. I let a lot of people down.

It's never, never, never OK, you know, never, never OK to, you know, retaliate and hit a woman, you know, the way I did.


WIRE: Now, Mixon did not serve any jail time, did not lose his scholarship. He was ordered, though, to serve 100 hours of community service, get counseling, and he was suspended for the team for his freshman year.

But one of the problems many have with this punishment is that most first year football players red shirt anyway, taking a year to acclimate to college life and get bigger and stronger. And also in the wake of the video release, Mixon is as of now still allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl as number seven Oklahoma takes on number 14 Auburn January 2nd.

Let's move to the NFL where the New York Jets may not have their head coach for their game today. The Jets released a statement saying Coach Todd Bowles was in stable condition after he was admitted to the hospital with an undisclosed illness. The team said that if Bowles was unable to make it to the game, assistant head coach Mike Caldwell would take over. We wish the coach well. He is a tough cookie. He played seven years in the NFL himself. His jets are four and 10 and playing against the 12 and two patriots who are playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So it's going to be a tough go for the Jets today.

It's Christmas Eve and the spirit of giving is in the air. But wait till you see what Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott got his offensive line for Christmas. Here it is, $25,000 custom camouflage John Deere ATV's. We've seen it all. That's more than the cost of a brand new Honda Accord. Zeke's offensive line hasn't been naughty to him. He's leading the league in rushing. He made it to the pro bowl so the young rookie wanting to show the big boys some love. The cowboys don't play until Monday night against the Lions in Dallas, so those offensive linemen have a few days to play with their new toys. Alison, Victor, that's exactly what I was going to get you for Christmas, but, Alison, I got you this cool CNN hat. Because Victor that's now really your style, I got you a bunch of razors, my friend.

[10:45:01] BLACKWELL: Always looking out. Coy, thank you very much, merry Christmas to you.

KOSIK: Do you want to feel rejuvenated over the holidays? Feeling a little blah?

BLACKWELL: Always we're looking to feel rejuvenated.

KOSIK: Well, the advice is you may want to take a break from social media, and because for many people that's easier said than done, we're going to give you a step by step of how just to do it, just ahead.


KOSIK: OK, so you say you're feeling stressed out by the holidays. You may want to take a break from social media. OK, there's a study that shows leaving Facebook for a week can improve your emotional well-being and your life satisfaction. Who knew? But in the age of technology it can hard to cut yourself off. So how do you do it? Here to help us get through all that is Brenda Wiederhold. She is editor in chief of the cyber-psychology behavior and social networking journal. Good morning to you, thanks for being here.


KOSIK: So I know that I've taken a Facebook sabbatical over the past six months or so. It felt like it was a time suck. I really wasn't getting much out of it. You know what, I don't miss it. So why do you think it is that taking a break from social media is a good thing for our well-being?

WIEDERHOLD: Sometimes what we're doing on Facebook and other social media is actually comparing ourselves to others and avoiding our real life. And so sometimes it's good to take that break, reconnect in real life with your family and friends, understand that you do have a good life, you're unique, you're special, and you have things that are important to you in the real world setting.

But sometimes after doing that break, it's actually good to get back on Facebook and connect with family and friends again and know you have other people out there that care about you.

KOSIK: So it is this sort of phenomenon when you go on social media, for example, Facebook, it sort of feels like you have to keep up with the Jones. Everybody is smiling, everybody is posting things that are happy, and it may not be perfect in your own world.

WIEDERHOLD: Exactly. And what we realize as adults often is that people post nice things. They don't want to post things about their divorce, the sad things that are going on in your life. So we realize this. Sometimes our teenager and our kids don't understand this, and it's good to start to educate them on that.

[10:50:00] KOSIK: But it's not all bad. Tell me some of the positive effects of social media use?

WIEDERHOLD: Social media use is very, very positive. What we're seeing is that a lot of older people use it as a connection tool so they connect with family and friends, they create communities. They use it to improve their well-being often. Other times disabled people do that. We use it in therapy also. So we have people go on and create support groups so they can be with others that have disorders that are like theirs and get support when they're not with their therapist.

KOSIK: But so many people are addicted to social media, whether they're adults, children, they can't put the phone down. They're checking Instagram every five seconds to see how many likes they have. What's the trick to kind of, you know, making that separation, putting up that wall between you and the social media? It feels like it's running your life.

WIEDERHOLD: Sure. What you have to do is you have to start, number one, engaging less time. So you have to lower your intensity. So if you're using it two hours a day, maybe you slowly wean yourself off and use it an hour and 45 minutes or an hour and a half today and start to realize that you need to do things in the real world. So using some boundaries and setting some limits to how much you're using social media. Also, when you do on, do active things, so post to other people's pages, post to your news feed, don't just lurk on Facebook. That's what really causes the problems.

KOSIK: My kids are addicted to Instagram. I cannot get them off their phone. I take their phones away they're like, mommy, I need to use my phone for homework. It's really hard to extricate them from Instagram.

WIEDERHOLD: Well, and that is true, because we're using it as a tool for education, for therapy, for training, for rehabilitation, so people are using these technologies for a lot of positive things. And so it is difficult to make that distinction. But it's just like food. Some people overeat, especially at the holidays, we all do. You can't quit eating. So you can't quit using social media now.

KOSIK: Exactly. Just find a way to find a balance and use it wisely. Brenda Wiederhold, thanks so much for your perspective on this.

WIEDERHOLD: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

KOSIK: Merry Christmas to you.

BLACKWELL: Live pictures now, we're taking you to Bethlehem. And we've got singing here. We still in Major Square here guys? No one responded. This is Major Square, live pictures here on Christmas Eve as the sun has now gone down before me just hours from, I think it's 5:22, hours from Christmas Day. We'll keep dipping in throughout the day.

There are a lot of, we know, kids who dream of getting their favorite new toys for Christmas. For some of them it's not so easy. So I went to a, let's call it a pretty unique toy shop where some students are working to come in and help out those kids.


BLACKWELL: This is UNF's adaptive toy project. Students are customizing popular kids' rechargeable sports cars and SUVs to suit children with developmental challenges. And Professor Mary Lundy says the toys play two roles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children that have developmental disabilities can't always explore their environment and play. So, you know, that's one piece. At the same time, through this increased mobility, they learn cause and effect, they learn object permanence, they learn balance, they learn mobility.


KOSIK: All right, if you want to see the rest of that story tomorrow, you can see it tomorrow morning during our "NEW DAY" Christmas special. We are on from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. eastern. We're going to have your top headlines, plus tons of holiday stories. And we've got the Spellman College glee club performing some Christmas favorites. That should be good.

The city of Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born is the focus of Christmas celebrations every year. But this year there's a new twist for some revelers.

BLACKWELL: Yes. A Palestinian carpenter is creating craft beer worthy of, well, some pretty worthy folks. CNN correspondent Ian Lee caught up with the brew master.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Something is brewing in the little town of Bethlehem, Not of milk and honey, but barley and hops. A carpenter by trade, Rafat Houary found a higher calling, brew master.

RAFAT HOUARY, BREW MASTER, WISE MEN CHOICE BEER: Chocolate, roasted, coriander, aromatic malt. This will give you the flavor, also the color.

LEE: The woodworker's tools repurposed. Houary's friends were skeptical when he said he wanted to change the beer landscape in the West Bank with his ales.

HOUARY: They start laughing, what you're doing. Usually they drink in the, you know, the lager, the cheap lager.

[10:55:02] LEE: His friends quickly acquired the taste and Wise Men Choice Brewery was created. Some curious neighbors wondered how this carpenter turns water into beer.

HOUARY: They think I'm adding alcohol. I got a bottle of alcohol and added it.

(LAUGHTER) HOUARY: This is funny.

LEE: More of a laboratory than brewery, concocting different flavors into six unique beers, a one man operation in the basement of this Palestinian Christian's house. He learned to brew in the United States and online, mostly self-taught. Every beer crafted by hand, limiting him to less than 1,000 bottles a month. With Christmas almost upon us, Bethlehem pilgrims can try his special brew, deep winter ale. All of Houary's ingredients are imported, except one which we find in his garden.

One of the key ingredients for that local Bethlehem taste is sage, which gives it its signature aroma and taste.

The sage Houary tells me, also gives Bethlehem IPA it's amber color.

You can smell the sage.

HOUARY: You can smell the love.

LEE: You can taste it, too. That's good.

For Houary, it's simple. He brews what he wants to drink.

HOUARY: So use whatever you like, but let the customer like your beer.


LEE: Ultimately, he plans to grow his brewery so he can leave his job as a carpenter to attend to his flock of beer drinkers.

HOUARY: Cheers.

LEE: Ian Lee, CNN, in Bethlehem.


KOSIK: All right, thanks very much. Thanks for watching. Happy Hanukkah starts tonight, and merry Christmas.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of CNN Newsroom with Erica Hill starts after a quick break. Merry Christmas.