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Frantic Search for Istanbul Gunman; More on Victims Killed in Istanbul; U.S. Sends Warning to North Korea on Missiles; Trump to Reveal Inside Information on Alleged Russian Hack; Covert Ops Always in Play Between U.S., Russia; Ill Queen Elizabeth Misses 2nd Holiday Service; Choir Member Quits over Trump Inauguration Performance; Trump Mania Sweeps Kurdistan in Iraq; Company Discovers New Power Source; Drought-Stricken Bolivia Experiencing Floods; Amazon Echo at Center of Murder Mystery. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 02:00   ET




[02:00:26] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: On CNN NEWSROOM, we're live from Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Thank you for joining us.

39 people in Turkey started the New Year celebrating, and that turned out to be their last hour. Turkey is now promising to find the shooter who killed them at a popular nightclub in Istanbul. The gunman has not been identified. This security footage appears to show the attacker shooting as he enters the club.

In his first statement as the new attorney general, Antonio Gutierrez, condemned the attack as despicable. A spokesman for Gutierrez hopes the organizers and perpetrators of the heinous act will be identified and brought to justice swiftly.

And we are just learning that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, of PKK, is condemning the attacks saying they were not behind the shooting.

CNN's Ian Lee joins us from Istanbul.

And with that statement, it's looking more and more like this is pointing to ISIS. What are you hearing, Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. It does seem to be whittling down who is responsible for this act. All the experts we've been talking to have been saying it does bear the hallmark of an ISIS attack, mainly because in the past ISIS looks for these soft targets full of civilians to carry out their attacks. The PKK coming out today strongly condemning this attack and saying they didn't have any responsibility. That does leave ISIS. There is also the probability it could be another group or a lone wolf that is responsible for this attack. No one has claimed responsibility and the government hasn't yet placed responsibility. ALLEN: Right, because there is much to do to find this gunman. Do we

even know if this was a gunman? Have they identified him at all? Are there any leads as far as his whereabouts?

LEE: Well, we haven't heard of any leads from the government so far, but they are saying that he will be caught soon and that there is strong coordination between the security services. But there is a nationwide manhunt underway, and they are very keen to find out who he is. We haven't heard a name. We've seen a picture from the security footage that has been running. That is a crucial piece of evidence of trying to identify who he is. But the police haven't released his name. They do not know if there was anyone helping him, but that is also going to be something they're going to be looking for. If it is ISIS who helped him, or if it was another group, where did he have any help carrying out this attack? But when you watch the video of the person doing this attack at the club that is just right behind me, he was actually walking on this street. You can see those bullets ricocheting. And he walked to the door, just right there, and that's where they also had that surveillance footage that captured his face. Again, these are crucial things they'll be looking into going forward.

ALLEN: Yeah, and any ideas? Are people saying -- how did he slip out? You know, we see him with certain clothes on and somehow someone with a gun gets back out. I guess it has to do with the mayhem inside.

LEE: What we're hearing, after the shooting took place, the gun was left behind and he was able to flee in the chaos of the situation. The attack on this nightclub was -- there was a lot of security here. There was a police officer out front. There is a police station about 250 meters down the road. The whole city of Istanbul had increased security leading up to the New Year's Eve celebration. So, it is something that they're going to look into as how this lone gunman was able to carry out this attack so close to a police station and also then sneak away.

[02:05:53] ALLEN: Absolutely.

Ian Lee there for us once again. Thank you for explaining to us, Ian.

We're learning more about the victims. At least 27 of the 39 killed were foreign nationals, including, from top left, a film producer from India, a 19-year-old woman from Israel, a dual Belgian-Turkish woman. At least 29 Turkish people were killed, including the young man on the bottom right. There was one American among the 69 people wounded. The U.S. has identified him as William Jacob Brock.

For more on the shooting, Journalist Andrew Finkel joins me now from Belgium. He's been reporting from Turkey for more than 20 years.

Thanks so much for joining us.

I have to ask, first of all, what's your reaction to hearing that, yet again, Turkey, that saw a horrible 2016, got hit again so horribly?

ANDREW FINKEL, JOURNALIST: Yes. Of course, we thought with the end of the last year, the practice would bring an end to the tourist incidents which have really made us very anxious in Turkey. But, of course, the New Year began with this horrendous attack. And I'm sure what's going through people's minds is that this isn't the last attack for the year, that we're in for a rocky ride in the year ahead.

ALLEN: No one points to responsibility, though it points to tactics by ISIS. It is believed this person may have acted alone, but we just don't know. One of the reporters I talked with yesterday in Istanbul said Turkey has really been encroaching on one town over the border in Syria, and that's an important town for ISIS, kind of a gateway for them, so they're being pushed out elsewhere. It looks like this is just more coming in to get even.

FINKEL: Well, yes. The prelude to this attack was the deal that was done at the very end of last year, a treaty, a ceasefire which was arranged between Russia, Turkey and Iran and some other Syrian opposition forces. Well, what that treaty was really all about was giving Turkey a freeish hand to move into northern Syria, to move against ISIS strongholds, really to move against the Kurds, the Syrian Kurds, who were operating from the other side of the border, and trying to take those same strongholds as well. Turkey was clearly making its mark, putting down a stake, saying that they were definitely going against ISIS. Of course, this can certainly be interpreted as a retaliation for that move.

ALLEN: All the security right now in front of the club. We were just seeing, a few moments ago, pictures of the club from the back. It's on the Bosporus and there were people jumping into the river to try to save themselves, and they likely did.

But let's talk about security forces, because I've been on the anchor desk when many of these terrorist incidents have happened, and we've always heard about increased security, increased police presence. But here you have a very popular nightclub -- yes, it's a club -- but still, reports that security was kind of light around the club.

FINKEL: Most fancy places, nightclubs, hotels in Turkey, have metal detectors at the door. They have bouncers. This is the sort of club you can't just walk in off the street. There are bodyguards outside and people's chauffeured cars. As you said, it's on the side. A lot of wealthy people arrive to this club by boat. It's a clear and obvious target. And apparently, there were some warnings ahead of time that it might be targeted. But I guess there's not that much you can do against a man who walks into your front door with a rifle. That's what we saw today.

Of course, the other thing you have to remember is that Turkey has been under a form of emergency law since July when there was an attempted coup. Security couldn't be any tougher in Turkey. The security forces couldn't have any more powers than they enjoy already to detain, to arrest. There have been, you know, crackdowns on journalists, on academics, on all sorts of people in Turkey who the government accuses of siding with the coup makers. I guess people might begin to suspect that security forces have been going after the wrong people. But really, they're not doing their job properly and have been distracted by the events of July. [02:10:01] ALLEN: Right. Well, it is so sad because we've seen all

the posts from people in Turkey hoping to put 2016 behind them, and then 2017 starts like this. It's just a heinous, heinous thing, and I'm sure it's wearing on people there.

But thank you so much, Andrew Finkel, for talking with us. Appreciate it.

Another story we're following. The U.S. is cautioning North Korea after leader, Kim Jong-Un, claimed the country is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. The State Department issued a statement reminding Pyongyang of U.N. resolutions banning those tests and calling on the country, quote, "to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric that threaten international peace and stability."

But will North Korea listen to that?

Saima Mohsin joins us from Seoul, North Korea, with more.

Saima, what would this indicate if North Korea takes this next step in testing?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It would be a huge concern, Natalie, because until now they've been successfully testing short range and mid-range missiles. I can tell you spirits believe the majority of their long-range missile tests have been failures. But if they do, indeed, have even an intercontinental ballistic missile and then manage to successfully test fire it, it would be a huge concern, of course. It is, of course, another question whether they intend to use it in any kind of aggressive way against another state or country, but the fact that they have it would be of huge concern. North Korea the first and only country in the 21st century to test-fire a new clear missile.

What we do know, Natalie, is that they have nuclear weapons. We've seen the fifth and largest nuclear test conducted as recently as September 2016, which resulted, of course, in more sanctions. And crucially another piece in the jigsaw puzzle was that they launched a satellite in February of last year, which would indicate that they do have the kind of technology to launch a long-range missile. Whether they then have the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and attach that to such a missile, we don't know, but Kim Jong-Un is saying that he does -- Natalie?

ALLEN: We've had this comment from the United States for them to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric, but it seems every time the United States reminds North Korea of U.N. rules and sanctions, they just kind of slough it off and go on.

MOHSIN: Exactly, Natalie. In effect, any kind of action to be taken against North Korea really is limited to sanctions, and this strongly worded condemnation. We've had condemnation from the South Korean government as well. Their hands are tied. They can't really take any kind of military action. That's what he's also counting on heading into 2017 with a new administration, a new president in the White House in Washington, D.C. A presidential election here in Seoul as well. Kim Jong-Un, according to the most recent very high-level diplomatic defector, who spoke just a few days ago, saying this is exactly the time that Kim Jong-Un is preparing and pushing forward for his nuclear ambition. He said that was supposed to be by the end of 2017. Some others argue that it may well happen soon, within the next few months -- Natalie?

ALLEN: Finally, Saima, we know South Korea is going through some changes with leadership. Is anyone feeling a little more eerie about the usual from North Korea because it comes at a time of instability for South Korea?

MOHSIN: This really does play into the hands of Kim Jong-Un, Natalie. I'm sorry, I only got part of your question there. But in terms of what's happening in South Korea here, there have been protests for nine or 10 weeks for Park Geun-hye to step down. She hasn't yet. Parliament voted to impeach her last month, and now that impeachment vote has gone to the constitutional court. So, there is a lot of political turmoil here. And regardless of the impeachment or if she'll step down, there was due to be a presidential election here in South Korea this year. So, all of this turmoil plays well into Kim Jong-Un's hands. He's not going to likely do anything provocative towards South Korea or to tip the boat right now, because it's all working for him. He doesn't like conservative governments in South Korea, Natalie. They are anti-North Korea. Any liberal government that comes in here with a liberal president is likely to reach out for dialogue to the North, and that's what Kim wants, once he's redressed the balance of being a nuclear state.

[02:15:31] ALLEN: Added to the mix, of course, the United States is about to get a new president, so we'll have to wait and see what Donald Trump's tactics are toward the North.

Saima Mohsin for us there in Seoul. Thank you so much, Saima.

Indian police had to detain a captain of a ferry that caught fire killing at least 23 people. This comes amid allegations that he was the first to jump ship. The boat reportedly caught fire after a sort circuit in the generator. Hundreds of people were heading to an island in north Jakarta at the time. Rescue workers saved most of the passengers.

Here's how one survivor described the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED FERRY FIRE SURVIVOR (through translation): Thick smoke suddenly emerged, blanketing the cabin. All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats in the water. In a split second, the fire became bigger. It was coming from where the fuel is stored.


ALLEN: Authorities say 17 people are still missing.

And still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, more than two dozen Russian diplomats are back home after being expelled from the United States.

And Donald Trump promises to reveal the inside information he knows. The latest in the Russia hacking controversy, straight ahead.




[02:20:44] ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

39 Russian diplomats and their families are back in Russia now. U.S. President Barack Obama expelled them and imposed sanctions on Russia for the hacking of political groups during the presidential campaign. U.S. intelligence officials said Moscow was behind the hacking, but Russia denies it. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not taking any action yet. Instead, waiting to see what will happen when President- elect Donald Trump takes office.

Trump, meantime, is not fully on board with the intelligence community's conclusion. The hacking will be the focus of a briefing he is set to receive, as well as a congressional committee hearing later this week.

Ryan Nobles has more on the week ahead.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President-elect Donald Trump will have a busy start to the New Year. This week will be filled with meetings at Trump Tower, including a high-level intelligence briefing where the president-elect is expected to learn more about the Russian hack of U.S. interests.

Trump continues to downplay the significance of the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government is behind the hack. This, despite statements from members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who have been briefed on the matter and described the evidence as overwhelming.

During Trump's posh New Year's Eve gathering at his Mar-a-Lago estate, the president-elect told reporters that he remains skeptical of their overall assessment.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. And so, I want them to be sure. I think it's unfair if they don't know. And I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So, it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don't know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you know that other people don't know?

TRUMP: You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.

NOBLES: In addition to Trump's private intelligence briefing, we could learn more about this alleged hack during a highly anticipated hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republican Senator John McCain, who has a much different view of the alleged hack, called for the briefing.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has just a few weeks to go to round out staff. A few major cabinet positions are still open, including the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the secretary of agriculture.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: The hacking controversy is the latest strain in a relationship marked by distrust.

Barbara Starr has more on the decades of espionage between Washington and Moscow.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FBI cameras captured Russian operative, Anna Chapman, and a federal undercover agent meeting in a New York coffee shop in June 2010. 17 days later, Chapman and nine other Russian sleeper agents were arrested in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, charged with conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of Russia. Spies, who had burrowed deep into American society for years trying to steal secrets and recruit agents.


STARR: The FBI had watched Chapman and the others for months, recording drop-offs of packages, meetings on staircases, even one meeting just yards from CNN's offices in New York. The U.S. believes the group never got its hands on classified information. But the Russian infiltration into the U.S., a classic Moscow move.

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA AGENT: What they do is more than collect, they actually try to influence events to the benefit of Russia, all over the world. And this is something that they have done for decades.

STARR: Within days, at the airport in Vienna, an elaborate choreographed transfer. The 10 Russians traded back for four other Russians charged with being in touch with Western intelligence services.

Now, the State Department is expelling 35 Russian officials it says violated their diplomatic status. This, after the U.S. claim of interference in the presidential election and harassment of U.S. diplomats overseas.


STARR: Vladimir Putin, of course, a former Russian intelligence officer, well-acquainted with the so-called illegals program, putting agents into U.S. society.

[02:25:05] HALL: The fact they would continue to do that to establish these American legends and cover story for the people that were trying to pose as Americans in the United States shows how serious they are.

STARR: But the U.S. has also been caught in the act. In 2013, Ryan Fogle (ph), a political secretary at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, was arrested. The Russians claim they caught him with wigs, dark glasses and cash, trying to recruit a Russian agent. He was expelled. It was never clear if he was set up by the Russians.

Earlier this year, a U.S. diplomat was tackled and beaten by a uniformed Russian police officer as he tried to enter the American embassy in Moscow.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The action was unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee.

STARR (on camera): And in that latest incident, the U.S. wound up expelling two Russian diplomats.

This type of cat-and-mouse spy activity has been immortalized in TV and movies for years, but the reality can be vicious and very dangerous.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


ALLEN: A top aide says Donald Trump will repeal a lot of President Barack Obama's executive actions on his first day in office. It's not clear which policies the president-elect will change, but Trump has been critical of Mr. Obama's moves on immigration, energy regulation and foreign policy.

Concerns are growing over Queen Elizabeth after the 90-year-old monarch missed another holiday church service. We'll have the latest on the queen's health, coming up.

Plus, why a member of a famed choir is not only refusing to sing for Donald Trump, she's quitting the group altogether.


[02:30:01] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.

Let's update you on the top stories this hour.


ALLEN: Britain's Queen Elizabeth has missed a second holiday service due to a heavy and lingering cold. The 90-year-old monarch decided to skip the annual New Year's church service on Sunday after missing the Christmas service a week before. Phil Black has the latest on the queen's health from London.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A nasty, persistent cold but nothing to worry about. That's what we're being told about the queen's health after she missed the traditional New Year's Day church service. Other royals did attend, including Prince Philip, her husband. He was also struck down by a cold around the same time, but he appears to have bounced back, while the queen is still recovering after almost two weeks indoors, out of sight. The same cold, of course, forced her to miss the Christmas Day church service.

These absences are not insignificant. She is the head of the Church of England, something she takes very seriously. So, we can only assume she has been feeling terrible.

But her advisers at Buckingham Palace is going out of their way to assure journalists that she is OK. They're stressing that she is still in residence at the Sandringham estate. She hasn't been moved for medical or any other reason, and they say she's up and around. She's still working, receiving the documents, the briefing papers she has to stay on top of as part of her official role as Britain's head of state.

Now, they're doing this to ensure there isn't any speculation or exaggerated concern about the queen's health. They want everyone to know that it just an awful cold but she is battling through it.

Phil Black, CNN, London.


ALLEN: We'll talk to a royal analyst about her condition in the next hour here on CNN NEWSROOM.

With less than three weeks left in his term, U.S. President Barack Obama took to Twitter Sunday to reflect on his legacy. He wrote, "From realizing marriage equality to removing barriers to opportunity, we've made history in our work to reaffirm that all are created equal." He continues, "It's been the privilege of my life to serve as your president. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year, everybody."

Donald Trump's inauguration is less than three weeks away. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has signed on to perform, but the attention is now on one member, who not only refused to sing for Trump, but quit.

Jean Casarez has that.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marching bands across the country are going to Washington for Donald Trump's inaugural festivities. 40 organizations will be in the parade, 8,000 participants. (SINGING)

CASAREZ: But a new controversy surrounding those performers. Jan Chamberlain, a four-year member of Utah's Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a state Trump won handily, has written a lengthy public Facebook posting that she is quitting the choir because it agreed to sing for the president-elect.

"It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to choir. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look at myself in the mirror again with self- respect. I also know, looking from the outside, in, it will appear the choir is endorsing tyranny and Fascism by singing for this man."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir said the performance is voluntary, and the choir's participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. presidents of both parties at inaugurations and at other settings.

Late Friday, Chamberlain responded to criticism.

JAN CHAMBERLAIN, FORMER MEMBER, MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR: I value that in our country we have freedom of speech under the First Amendment. For me, this is not a political issue. For me, this is a moral issue where I'm concerned about our freedoms being in danger.


CASAREZ: This coming just days after it was announced the legendary New York City Rockettes would be performing at the inauguration.

In an interview with, one Rockette spoke out about the decision, "The majority of us said no immediately. Then there's the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason."

The dancers' union ultimately deciding that participations in the inauguration will be voluntary. Madison Square Gardens, which employs the dancers, adding, "We had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available."

[02:35:20] BORIS EPSHTEYN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: It's not about the big names. It's about the American people. And that's who will be represented all over this inaugural. And we've gotten such an outpouring of support, of positivity from all the country. It's been truly humbling.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: The president-elect may have a hard time filling out his inauguration lineup. But he's gaining fans in an unlikely place, Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At three weeks old, little Trump isn't bothered by his pesky brother, Rasheed. Yes, you heard right. This is baby Trump. Trump Hassan Jamiel (ph), to be precise, born in Kyrgyzstan.

The father explains what's in a name.

"I called him Trump," he says, "because Trump is charismatic and has clear policies. That's why he won the election."

This man heard Trump say he was a big fan of Kurdish forces calling for the fight against ISIS. In his honor, he named his recently opened fish restaurant in the city of Dohuk after the Donald and even designed the catchy logo.

In Iraq's murky waters, Trump has inspired some here to hope he'll also make Kyrgyzstan great again.

(on camera): This fish is your standard carp. It's the way it's cooked, it's called mezguf (ph) here in Iraq. It is big-league popular. And this is a catch fit for a president.

(voice-over): There's no flip-flopping here. It takes just 45 minutes for the carp, a bottom feeder, to go from the tank to cutting board to grill to plate. No time wasted.

"What I admire about Trump's personality," he says, "is that he's decisive, tough, and hopefully, with that toughness, he'll finish off ISIS."

This man shrugs off as mere campaign rhetoric Trump's pledge to cast a wide net banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

He even wants to open a branch of his restaurant near the White House, Maybe Trump will invite him in.

Here's one man ready to serve the incoming administration.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Dohuk, northern Iraq.


ALLEN: A U.S. company claims the light this machine makes is equal to 10,000 suns in a coffee cup and it could replace electricity. But some say, not so fast. Is this a clean-energy breakthrough for the New Year? We'll show you next.


[02:41:39] ALLEN: A U.S. company says it has developed a revolutionary new power source, one that could wean the world off fossil fuels and provide an endless supply of clean, safe, cheap energy. Take a look.


ALLEN (voice-over): Depending on who you ask, this is either a monumental, clean power breakthrough, or it's all flash and no substance.

Randall Mills, a Harvard-trained doctor who also studied at MIT, said he and his team of scientists have done something remarkable, inventing a small machine that can create light so brilliant that it's equal to 10,000 suns in the volume of a coffee cup. That's one Million watts of power.

DR. RANDALL MILLS, CEO & FOUNDER, BRILLANT LIGHT POWER, INC: It's incredibly compelling. Just on inspection, you can tell it's making an enormous amount of power.

ALLEN: This process is a result of two decades of research in atomic theory and the search for a new source of power.

CNN first featured Mills in 2008 when the company was called Black Light Power, and claiming it could make cheap power from water in a chemical reaction that halts hydrogen atoms. But his fuel cells never made it to market.

Recently, the company developed a more powerful device. That single flash of light has now been captured in this sun cell, which the company claims can keep a coffee-sized version of the sun burning continuously.

Photovoltaic cells, encased in the dome, then convert that light into cheap, pollution-free electricity.

MILLS: It's extremely compact, extremely light weight. And the fuel can be pulled from the atmosphere.

ALLEN (on camera): This can replace nuclear power?

MILLS: It can replace very form of power, coal, oil, gas, solar, wind, bio, geothermal. It could help replace the utility grid.

ALLEN (voice-over): How it works is the tricky part. The sun cell It puts the sun's rays into a lower-energy form, which Mills has dubbed the hydrino.

MILLS: The atom has an electron that travels around the proton. From that solution, there is the mechanism that came out of the physics where you can make the electron go closer to the proton and release vast amounts of energy. That new state of matter is, from measurements and analytics tests we've done over the years, has shown it's the identity of dark matter, which makes up most of the mass of the universe.

ALLEN: Yes, he said dark matter. But mainstream science says that hydrino state doesn't exist. Over the years, his theory has been called nonsense, even a hoax.

But the stakes are high. If Mills is right, quantum mechanics is wrong.

MILLS: I applied the physical laws that is the foundation of our society to solving the structure of the electron based on my work at MIT on free-electron laser solutions. And it predicted the hydrogen atom could have a more stable physical form, and that matches the spectral characteristics signature of dark matter.

ALLEN: Despite his detractors, Mills has tens of millions of dollars in private investment, and some 50 scientific validators, some compensated, others not, like Engineer Orrick Swaa (ph). He told CNN, " From what I've seen, there is something very novel going on here. The data I've seen has always seemed to point at that being the case."

Mills also has contracts with companies in South Korea and in Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was skeptical. I just don't believe that electrons can be in two places at the same time. I'm not positive. The way I see it is, starting with my skepticism, I did my due diligence and, over time, I became convinced.

ALLEN: 2017 will be significant. Brilliant Light Power will field- test different versions of the sun cell with plans to go to market in 2018.

If Mills is right, the sun cell could become a revolutionary global power source and, perhaps, help solve climate change.


ALLEN: Quite a discovery.


ALLEN: Indeed, it happened. Pedram, not only can one cell this big store be powered off the grid, thousands of homes, but they have ambitious plans to put them in airplanes.


ALLEN: -- and military ships and in cars.

JAVAHERI: This is incredible. We were geeking out over this story. This is absolutely incredible. You think about other forms of alternative fuel, there's large in nature, whether it be a windmill or a panel, yeah.

ALLEN: A solar farm and this --

JAVAHERI: Absolutely incredible.

ALLEN: We'll wait and see if this will be a pivotal year.

But, right now, we're talking about floods. We've got extreme weather in this world.


JAVAHERI: Absolutely. Bolivia is one of them.

Some images to show you. They've been experiencing a drought that's been in place over the past 25 years. If we have the footage, we'll share it with you, show you what's going on across Bolivia. The flooding potential has been significant over this region. There it is right there, with the heavy rainfall that's come down in recent days. But a 25-year draught across the area and that's the concern. People think, when it comes to flooding, rainfall is certainly beneficial in a drought situation. Not the case in portions of Bolivia.

I want to show you why. Put the map in motion. Because if you have vegetative landscape there, rain has been coming down for a long period, you can begin to saturate that moisture, and that becomes a beneficial set up. But when you take that away and you have extreme drought like they're experiencing across Bolivia, all of that rainfall will now become runoff because the ground is harden and the moisture is not able to be readily absorbed into the soil. So, you get this tremendous rainfall, all of it sits on the surface. Take a look. Extreme exceptional drought, much like what we're seeing in the southwestern United States, in parts of the southeastern United States as well. This is the time of year you typically do begin to see the rain come in place, as we were talking about in an area just south of the equator. So, the convergence of our northern hemisphere and our southern hemisphere do spark some heavy rainfall this time of year. Speaking of which, there it is, across a large area of the southeastern United States. In fact, this is an area that for up to two months some regions did not see rainfall across the state, say, Alabama into George. Now we have over three million people under flood watches as multiple days of heavy rainfall have been in store. The next line of active weather coming in on Monday afternoon, the first Monday of 2017, could spark severe weather. 20 million people at risk for some severe weather, large hail and some strong winds. But even isolated tornadoes possible. Not excluding cities such as Jackson, Mobile, Pensacola and New Orleans as well. In fact, climatologically speaking, this is supposed to be the quietest time of year, January and February. Just about a couple dozen tornadoes in the months ahead of us, but notice it picks up in intensity. The next 24 hours, we could see some active weather rolling across the area. Some very beneficial rainfall also coming down.

And, Natalie, when you think about the southeast, it has been so dry, so initially the rainfall was a little problematic. There's been fires as well. But now that we've seen multiple days of rainfall, now the soil is able to take that in and it's a lot easier to absorb than, say, what's happening in parts of South America.

ALLEN: Thankful for it, I guess.


JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

ALLEN: All right, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, Amazon Echo's Alexa can help users with daily tasks, such as ordering things or playing their favorite music, but can it help authorities solve a murder case? That's coming up here. We'll see you in the NEWSROOM.




[02:52:56] ALLEN: One of the hottest gifts this holiday season was the Amazon Echo, a voice-activated speaker that can answer questions, read news aloud, or order products. But the digital assistant is at the center of a murder mystery in Arkansas and an ongoing debate over privacy rights.

CNN's Martin Savidge has our story.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alexa, what did you hear?

ALEXA: Hi, there.

SAVIDGE: Is it possible the digital assistant in Amazon's popular Echo device witnessed a murder inside this Arkansas home? That's what police in Bentonville are wondering.

But they're not asking the device. They're asking Echo's maker, Amazon. So far, the tech giant is saying no to a police warrant seeking data and recordings the always-on gadget may have picked up.

NATHAN SMITH, BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, PROSECUTOR: It was a lawfully issued search warrant by a judge. Amazon's position, they simply don't have to comply.

SAVIDGE: 47-year-old Victor Collins was found dead face down in a hot tub late year. Authorities say there were indications of possible foul play, arresting 31-year-old James Bates on suspicion of murder.

Bates' attorney says the death was nothing more than a tragic accident, and her client is innocent. She applauds Amazon's refusal to comply with police demands, calling it chilling that a Christmas gift could be used against people.

KIMBERLY WEBER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR VICTOR COLLINS: It scares me, our criminal system is coming down to technology that's supposed to help our daily lives, and now used against us for an innocent crime.

SAVIDGE: In a statement provided to CNN, Amazon seemed to imply it could change its willingness to cooperate, saying, "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us." The company went on, "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

Amazon did give police Bates' subscriber information and authorities have analyzed the information contained on the device itself but believe more Echo evidence is stored in the Cloud, controlled by Amazon.

The case calls to mind the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, pitting Apple against the FBI, as authorities wanting to access information contained in the locked iPhone of one of the shooters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, what time it is?

ALEXA: It's 1:56.

SAVIDGE: The always-on voice-activated technology is showing up more and more in our lives, from thermometers to cameras, even toys. But the modern wonders are also creating some modern worries over privacy, suggesting what happens at home may no longer stay at home.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


[02:55:40] ALLEN: Singer Mariah Carey is ready to move on with it in 2017. Perhaps you heard about it. Technical difficulties appear to throw her off in the middle of the New Year's Eve show in New York's Times Square.



MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: Happy New Year. All right.


ALLEN: Looks like her earpiece came out there. Don't know what happened. Her dancers kept going, as you see, but the pop star apparently couldn't hear the track. At one point, she called out for help. And she asked the audience to singe. She never really sang. Carey later tweeted about it, "Blank happens. Have a happy and healthy New Year, everybody. And here's to making more headlines in 2017"

Well, that is this hour. But we have another hour of CNN NEWSROOM just ahead. Hope you stay with us. We're live in Atlanta.

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