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An Act of Terror in Israel; Golden Globe Goes Political; North Korea Says Any Time Anywhere; Russia's Creeping Border. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 9, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: An act of terror. Israel ramps up security after a deadly attack on its soldiers. The prime minister saying ISIS played a role.

Also ahead, disturbing new video, the moment a gunman opened fire on people in an airport in Fort Lauderdale airport.

And a big night for the musical La La Land amid some politics at the Golden Globe Awards.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

It is 3.01 on the U.S. East Coast. It is the kind of attack that we've seen far too often lately. A man rammed a truck through a crowd of people this time in Jerusalem. And now Israeli authorities are trying to figure out if he acted alone.

We're about to show you some surveillance footage of exactly what happened. But I do want to warn you before we show this that it is very disturbing to see.

Right through a group of Israeli soldiers, that cloud right though that group of people. An officer and three cadets, all barely in their 20s, died from this attack.

Israeli police shot and killed the driver of the truck. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he may have been an ISIS supporter.

CNN's Oren Lieberman is following this story live for us in Jerusalem this hour. Oren, good to have you with us. This attack has been called terrorism. What more do we know about the investigation?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Before we get to the investigation let's talk about the funerals of these four soldiers. As you pointed out, in their 20s. Three females and one male all killed in this attack. It will be a day of mourning across Israel as these four soldiers are laid to rest today. They were all posthumously promoted.

As for the investigation, the attacker, the truck driver here was shot and killed at the scene. And that is when the investigation began. Police blocking off a neighborhood very close to where this happened, where the attacker was from. They blocked off entrances and exits as they tried to figure out was this -- was this driver working alone? Where did he gotten the truck, how long had he planned this in advance or was this a sort of spur of the moment-type attack.

Police have taken nine others in the custody. Five of which are family members of the attacker. And again, George, that's what they are trying to figure out. Was this plan was this or was this spur of the moment?

The key is was it a lone wolf attack or should this have been picked up by intelligence services because there was a bigger web here? That will be the focus of the investigation moving forward.

HOWELL: All right. The Prime Minister, Oren, is saying the driver of that truck may have been an ISIS sympathizer. ISIS has not claimed responsibility for this attack. This information has not yet been confirmed officially. Do we know anything more about why the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached that conclusion?

LIBERMANN: Netanyahu didn't expand upon that. He visited the scene just a couple of hours after the attack. And he said from what we understand of the attacker here was an ISIS supporter or an ISIS supporter. But again, he didn't expand there.

And part of that maybe that is so similar to other facts that we've seen carried out by ISIS supporters both in Nice and in Berlin.

Now we spoke with the Israeli police spokesperson who said they are no known ISIS cells in Israel in Jerusalem or in the West Bank. So this isn't some immergence of a new cell here. And that where the investigation, again, focuses on trying to figure out where was the, where was the inspiration come from, where do the motivation from.

One of the other big aspects that we've already heard Israeli leaders talking about is what the education minister here called, quote, "viral terrorism." and that's incitement and propagation of terrorism that that's channeled through social media. That has been a big effort of the Israeli government here and the security forces to crack down on that and to figure out who is posting something as a threat and who is likely to carry out that threat.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann following the story live for us in Jerusalem, Oren, thank you so much for your reporting. We'll stay in touch with you again as these funerals are set for the victims in this attack.

And in just a few minutes we'll talk with a member of the prime minister's cabinet. The Israeli energy ministry will join us for an interview where we'll ask more about the investigation into this attack.

The deadly attacks are of a deal of outrage, but that's not the case in this refugee camp in Gaza. That's where thousands Hamas supporters marched through the streets. They praised the attack. They were yelling out anti-Israeli chants. The group tweeted that it is, quote, "a normal response to the crimes of Israeli occupation. [03:05:12] Now to Florida, the suspect of the Fort Lauderdale Airport

shooting will be formally charge Monday. Just two months ago, officials in Alaska referred Esteban Santiago an Iraq war veteran for psychological evaluation. They took away his gun. Santiago's brother though says, even after that he still didn't get the help he needed.

A month later, Santiago got his gun back. Officials say there was no legal reason for them to keep the gun. They now believe that is the same gun that he used in that airport to kill five people and to wound six others.

There is also some new video that's out there. It appears to show the very moment that Santiago opened fire. I want to show you a still image of the video. You can see the shooter here. He is wearing a blue shirt, his weapon drawn.

Our Boris Sanchez has more. And again, we warn you going into this, the report contains disturbing video.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday, we got an up close look of exactly what unfolded in the baggage claim area of terminal 2 here on Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. In the surveillance video released to TMZ, you see Esteban Santiago walk into frame nondescript.

He is walking casually, and the moment before he reaches into his waistband and pulls out a 9 millimeter pistol. His expression doesn't change. He is emotionless as he opens fire on the people nearest to him. As corroborates a lot of what we've heard from officials.

The fact that this was a planned attack. He bought a one-way ticket from Alaska here to Fort Lauderdale in order to carry out this attack. And he didn't really target anyone specifically. He just opened fire on the people that were closest to him.

In the video after he opens fire, you see him kind of crouch down and then he starts running. And you see the people all around him in horror as they realize what's happening. Many people just throw themselves on the ground.

One woman gets behind a luggage cart trying to do anything that she can to get away from him. The big question that is yet to be answered is why he decided to come here to Fort Lauderdale.

We are hearing from investigators that this is still potentially a terrorist attack. They've not ruled out terrorism as a potential motive. Esteban Santiago is due in court on Monday. He is facing some very serious charges, all of them eligible for the death penalty.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

HOWELL: Following the Trump transition, a senior member of Trump's team says the president-elect accepts the conclusion that Russia hacked political operatives during the presidential campaign.

But Reince Priebus he stopped short of saying what action would actually be taken. Trump received an intelligence briefing on Friday, as you'll remember.


REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING UNITED STATES CHIEF OF STAFF: He accepts the fact that Russia and other entities engage in cyber-attacks in the United States all day long. He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia.

He is going to order the intelligence community to make recommendations and whatever those recommendations are will be discussed and actions may be taken. But I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to have a good relationship with Russia and other countries around the world. And that's what the president is saying.


HOWELL: Reince Priebus there, another top Trump aid acknowledges there were hacks, but Kellyanne Conway insists those hacks did not influence the outcome of the election.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I don't want any of your viewers to thinking that the Kremlin and the Republican Party or that they had, Kremlin was dealing with any of the hackers and bringing that information back to Moscow and somehow anybody who allegedly attempted to influenced that election actually did.


HOWELL: For more on this let's bring in former Moscow bureau chief and contributor, Jill Dougherty, live in Moscow. Jill, it's always a pleasure to have you with us for context on this.

Trump's team is acknowledging the hacking. But seemingly brushing the offense aside in favor of warmer relations with Russia, what do you make of this?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, I think what they are doing number one is they are being very specific in saying that it did not affect the outcome of the election. And actually that's not what the report was trying to do.

In fact, the people who did that report, the intelligence agencies were really saying that's not what we do for a living. That's not the purview of our report. We can say there was hacking. And there went into some detail.

But I mean, in terms of the reaction here in Russia, this all came out just as Russia was going into a very serious holiday season. It was Russian Orthodox Christmas. Everything shut down. New Year's had happened just before that and not a lot happens quite honestly in Russia during that entire period.

[03:10:06] So, what you have not had any reaction directly from President Putin, or let's say senior officials were hoping today that we can talk with the Kremlin and try to get some reaction, but it has in essence been coming out through, you know, tweets by various people and also now this morning in newspapers, et cetera.

But I was just reading one paper. It's kind of like their Wall Street Journal. It's a financial journal Vedomosti and the story is actually on page 3, which gives you the idea that right now essentially the approach is it's not that big. It's not that new. This report didn't have much information to begin with. And so it's really just being kind of downplayed in the popular social media. It's really being mocked. So, you're not getting a lot of really substantive reaction to that report, Victor.

HOWELL: George here with you. And also, just so that you know, Jill, the report, as you pointed out that...


DOUGHERTY: I'm sorry, George.

HOWELL: That's OK. The report pointing out that, you know, there was no hacking of actual machines, but you know, in conclusive, no real, you know, determination as to whether the information that was slowly leaked, what impact that have might have had on the election.

Jill, I'd like to get your feelings on the geo political plus-minus of these two powers coming together, these closer ties that Donald Trump wants. Would it be a formula that would, as the campaign said, make America great again or would this make Russia great again?

DOUGHERTY: You know, it's very hard to say, I think, George. Because on these individual -- let's say the issues that the president will have to deal with when he comes into office, they are really -- they are very complex and very difficult to match with what he is saying in general terms.

I mean, everyone says -- and I think everybody would agree that basically it would be good to have better relations with Russia, if only as President Trump himself or soon to be President Trump says to solve the big issues of the world.

That it's really when you get the specific that it gets complicated. We've been talking about Iran, for instance. You know, the U.S., the Obama administration and Russia helped to work out and negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

And President Trump is saying that he is opposed to it. So that would put him in opposition to Vladimir Putin. And other issues really kind of break down in different ways. So, I think you're going to have to see can he segregate, separate these two issues the hacking, put it aside and say in spite of that we can go on and work with Russia. And that will be the real issue.

HOWELL: Jill is always been a top expert when covering Russia, we always appreciate your context and your insight on the matters. Jill Dougherty, thank you so much for being with us. A big announcement to talk about from car maker Fiat Chrysler. That

company will spend $1 billion expanding its States factory in the states of Ohio and Michigan. Production of the new Jeep Wagoneer, grand wagoneers, and the Jeep pickup trucks will create 2,000 new jobs.

Just last week, Ford cancelled plans to build a plant in Mexico and it announced it would invest $700 million in the state of Michigan instead.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, we will have much more on the terrible attack, a truck in Jerusalem, the attack that killed four soldiers.

Israel's ministry minister and Benjamin Netanyahu adviser will join me for an interview. We'll talk more about the investigation and what they know so far.

Plus, North Korea is blaming the United States for its nuclear development and threatening a new missile launch. The quote says "anytime, anywhere." Stay with us.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT REPORTER: Hi, there. I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN World Sport headlines.

Starting off with the oldest cup competition of all. The England FA Cup where Tottenham are trying to lift the trophy for the first time since 1991. But standing in the way on Sunday, seven-time winner second tier Aston Villa.

First, made to wait until past the 70-minute mark until they get the opening through the young Wales player. Ben Davies his first goal for the club. And then South Korean star Son Heung-min would double their lead, 2-0 Spurs the final score in north London.

Elsewhere, Chelsea cruising to the 4-1 win over third tier Peterborough. While there were frustrations for Premiere League Liverpool who failed to beat Plymouth. There may have been the Reds youngest ever starting line up with an average age just under 22.

But the host failed to break down a plucky (inaudible) who are in the fourth tier of English football. The two sides will play again on January 17th.

The ramifications from that second apparent which came out in late last year into a late sponsored doping. And Russia continues after it was real (Inaudible) of the country's Skeleton athletes have had that provisional suspension lifted despite the fact that an investigation is still ongoing.

The court had which includes Olympic gold medalist Alexander Tretiakov means the four are now able to compete in next month's world championship in Germany.

That' a look at your World Sport headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.

HOWELL: Welcome back. Four soldiers killed in Sunday's truck in Jerusalem. Funerals will take place Monday. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the truck driver may have been a supporter of ISIS. He has been identified as a 28-year-old Fadi Qunbor. He is a Palestinian.

Security forces shot and killed Qunbor after his truck plowed into a group of soldiers near a popular tourist spot. Now authorities are trying to determine if this was a lone wolf attack or something more.

Nine other people are now under arrest. Joining now from Jerusalem, Israeli Energy Minister and a member of Israel's security cabinet, Yuval Steinitz. It's good to have you with us to talk more about this investigation. What more do you know at this point?

YUVAL STEINITZ, ISRAEL'S MINISTER OF NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE, ENERGY AND WATER RESOURCES: We know that the terrorists who carried out this horrible terrorist attack was recently inspired by ISIS. We have some evidence showing that. But of course it was also indoctrinated by the Palestinian government media.

You know, the main message into Palestinian media is that those are horrible creatures that should be exterminated, and Israel should be destroyed. Therefore, you know, incitement, hatred today such terrorism here in Jerusalem and also in Europe and in the United States is the same phenomena.

HOWELL: Well, ISIS at this point has not claimed credit for this attack. Though, you point out the prime minister has stated that he believes this attacker may have been an ISIS sympathizer. Can you elaborate just a bit more on the evidence that you speak of why this claim is being made now?

STEINITZ: We don't claim that he was an official member of ISIS. But the fact that he was inspired by ISIS and identified himself with ISIS causes is very clear.

[03:19:59] I am not going to share the evidence right now but it's very clear. Look, what we see all over the Middle East is a -- and this is an obstacle for peace and the stability in the Middle East. These Islamic ideologies that is shared by ISIS but also by Hezbollah, by Al Qaeda, by Hamas Islamic Jihad actually it boils down to the same ideology.

The Jews and also Christians or infidels in general have no right to exist in the Middle East and then Europe and beyond -- and we are facing this terrible hatred and terrorism for quite long.

Therefore we are sometimes so frustrated that the U.N. Security Council instead of focusing on incitement and hatred and the general refusal to accept Israel's very existence as a Jewish state. The tiny mini school Jewish democracy they are targeting Israel once in a day, and as we saw three weeks ago.

HOWELL: The defense minister, though, has stated that this attack was not fuelled by settlements. That's certainly a hot button issue that, you know, is certainly in focus lately.

I want to focus in though on something that you raise also, the question whether its ISIS inspired or ISIS directed. And this concept of basically the information that's put out there, viral terrorism, how is the government dealing with that and trying to crack down on that whether it's inspired or directed online?

STEINITZ: I don't know if it was directed, but it seems quite evident that it was inspired by ISIS. Inspired by ISIS, but again, you cannot separate. You know, he was inspired recently by ISIS but since Palestinian children from kindergarten are totally exposed as a Palestinian media including children media and through the messages that Jews are horrible creatures, that terrorist are heroes and Jews must die. You cannot really separate.

What we see lately is that more and more Palestinians are inspired by ISIS. This is a new phenomenon. It's not the case that other terrorist organizations are not horrible like Hamas or Islamic Jihad. But this is a new phenomenon and of course we will have to see how we can eliminate or minimize such attacks.

Generally speaking we are very experienced. We have very good intelligence services. Usually we manage to detect and to prevent in advance, to intercept even sometimes lone wolves in advance. But despite our experience we don't have 100 percent success.

And yesterday, this horrible terrorist attacks on young Israeli soldiers, younger soldiers in Jerusalem is in another testimony that hatred and incitement and terrorism exist here in Israel and Jerusalem exactly like it happened with the same tactic of using trucks to drive into the crowd.


STEINITZ: In Berlin or in Nice or elsewhere. And the final conclusion should be that we have all - all the world to unite, to fight and defeat terrorism and Islamic zealots because they are threatening not just Jews but Christians, Yazidis, Houthis, everybody, anybody that is not devoted Muslim according to their interpretation.

HOWELL: And you pointed out, you know, we have seen these terrible attacks, these trucks driven through crowds of people far too often. Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, thank you so much for being with us and sharing your incite on this investigation.

STEINITZ: Welcome.

HOWELL: Again, funerals are set for Monday.

A visit by Taiwan's president to the United States is prompting a warning from a Chinese state run tabloid. The U.S. currently recognizes Taiwan as part of one China. The China Global Times says the mainland is prepared against any moves towards Taiwan independence. Writing this, "If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining." Now to talk about North Korea, that nation claiming to be ready to

launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. The quote says, "anytime, anywhere." It was just last week that the country said it was close to testing that long-range missile.

[03:25:01] Let's go live to South Korea where our Paula Hancocks is following this story live in Seoul this hour. Paula, thank you for being with us.

North Korea saying they are doing this specifically because of the United States. Help explain the context here.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, this is something that North Korea has been claiming for many years if not decades. They say that they need this nuclear and missile program as self-defense. They needed this protection against a hostile policy from Washington. This is nothing new that we are hearing at this point.

But what we have heard on Sunday from North Korea is that they can launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at any time from any location or that. All it depends on is where the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would like it to happen, where and when.

So that is what they are waiting for. They are saying at this point just the green light. Of course it comes just after the New Year's address on January 1st by Kim Jong-un. He said that the test launch of this ICBM which could hit U.S. mainland was close.

And just one day later we heard from President-elect Donald Trump saying it won't happen. So this could be seen as a response to that. But it's not mentioning Donald Trump by name but just mentioning the U.S. hostile policy. George?

HOWELL: Paula Hancoks live in Seoul, South Korea following this latest threat from North Korea. Thank you for your reporting. But we'll stay in touch with you.

Stars of the silver and small screen turned out for the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Golden Globe goes to La La Land.


HOWELL: And La La Land dominated the night winning seven awards and set a record for the Golden Globes. The film won for best actress and the stoned best actor Ryan Gosling and for best movie musical or comedy.

The coming of age story "Moonlight" took home the best, their Golden Globe, rather for the best movie drama. Best actor in a movie drama went to Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, French actress Isabelle Huppert took home the award for best actress in a movie drama for the film "Elle." Netflix has the crown won best TV series drama and best TV series

comedy that went to Atlanta. And the Golden Globe turned a bit political as well.

Ahead, we'll show you what film legend Meryl Streep had to say referring to the President-elect Donald Trump.

We're live in the United States and around the world this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta.


HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It's good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

In Israel, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinian who ran the truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem Sunday may have been an ISIS sympathizer. An officer and three cadets were killed.

Israeli security forces shot and killed the attacker. He has been identified as Fadi Qubor. Nine other suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack. Funerals are set for Monday.

The suspect in the Florida airport shooting, the person you see here will be formally charged on Monday. Esteban Santiago could face the death penalty if he is found guilty of federal charges. Five people were killed in that attack and six others wounded at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

North Korea saying "anytime, anywhere." Its leader Kim Jong-un could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. Just last week, that country said it was close to testing the long-range missile.

North Korea blames the United States for its missile development, citing a quote, "hostile policy" towards Pyongyang.

On Tuesday, confirmation hearings will begin in Washington for the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks. But the office of government ethics says that several nominees still have yet to be properly vetted. That means that they have not completed the ethics review process that's required.

One source telling CNN among those in question is Trump's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Trump's transition team responded to this latest news saying that all of the nominees are qualified.

Donald Trump says that he will seek better ties with Russia but in the wake of the Russia hacking scandal even senior republicans are casting doubt on the president-elect's ambitions.

Here is what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had to say about it all.


MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The best way to look at the president-elect's attitude toward the Russians is to look at incoming national security leaders, General Mattis, General Kelly, Congressman Pompeo, Senator Coates. Now none of these are people who are in any way conflicted about the view that the Russians are not our friends and our big problem.

I don't think it's all that unusual for a new president to want to get along with the Russians. I remember George W. Bush having the same hope. Mass suspicion is he's hope will be dash pretty quickly.


HOWELL: Critics of Donald Trump's proposed policies toward Russia often point to mass go military involvement in Ukraine and Syria. But even before those conflicts residents of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia they say they fell victim to Russia's creeping border.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin explains.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Georgians this is the enduring wounds of the 2008 war. Razor wire fencing scars the landscape, green signs offers up an ominous warning. Just beyond is the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

We're only allowed to get this close in the company of Georgian security forces or E.U. monitors. They say it's for our own protection. After all, the Russians are watching. It's here that we meet him Dato Vanishvili, Georgian. The 82-year-old is the face of this frozen conflict.


DATO VANISHVILI, GEORGIAN RESIDENT (through translator): I am from South Ossetia from Georgia. I am Vanishvili, a Georgian citizen.


MCLAUGHLIN: After he went out one day to an errand he returned to find his home in Russian controlled South Ossetia. The razor wires slicing his land and permanently separating him from the country he calls home.

When you first saw this fence here how did you feel?

VANISHVILI (through translator): I was angry when they came. They said it was Russian territory, so if you don't want to be from Russia, leave. Where should I go? Help me, if you can.

[03:35:08] VANISHVILI: To locals it's known as the creeping border, although Georgian officials are load to use the term. They call it the line of occupation. To the Russians South Ossetia is an independent state and their military is here by invitation.

With each passing year the line steadily moves forward swallowing farmland even entire villages. Independent monitor says each encroachment is a violation of international law and no one on the Georgian controlled sign of the line seems to know exactly where the line is.

This sign is meant to mark the boundary. The problem is looking around it's unclear where the so-called border begins and ends. For all I know I could be standing in South Ossetia.

Locals complain they've been detained and fined for unwittingly crossing over. And then there's the matter of the orchard injury shedding. Earlier this year, Russian forces plowed a 3-mile long furlough straight through it. They claim it's there for fire protection but Georgians who cross it get detained.

The E.U. has the only independent mission monitoring this frozen conflict.


KESTUTIS JANKAUSKAS, HEAD, EUROPEAN UNION MONITORING MISSION IN GEORGIA: On the far left you can see Russian federation border guard base. We don't know where and how far that line can move because it was never recognized. It was never negotiated. It's based on variety trouble of the old Soviet lapse.

MCLAUGHLIN: And what message is that sending?

JANKAUSKAS: That sends the message that we are still living in the past.


MCLAUGHLIN: Near a small agricultural village this Merab Mekarishvili's former home. It was bombed during the 2008 war. Mekarishvili was determined to remain in the house his father built, that is until the Russian fence off the village road and some of his land.

Even though the house is on Georgian controlled side of the wire he says the Russians gave him a choice. The common citizen of South Ossetia were moved. He abandoned his home and lives nearby on what remains of his land.

Are you worried that this border is going to continue moving this way?

MERAB MEKARISHVILI, SOUTH OSSETIAN RESIDENT (through translator): We are afraid they will extend the border. We know what war means. It's better to be like this than in war.

MCLAUGHLIN: Tamara Qoreli and her family fear that one day war will come again. To one side of their home a Russian military base, to the other, a Georgian check point.

TAMARA QORELI, SOUTH OSSETIAN RESIDENT (through translator): How would you feel here? It is scary. Nobody knows what will happen today or tomorrow. MCLAUGHLIN: Qoreli says she no longer has enough land to take her

cows out to pasture and worries they will be blown up by left over land mines.

Meanwhile, at the Russian base overlooking the house men in green go about their business as their children play in the courtyard.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, near South Ossetia.

HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin, thank you. CNN has reached out to officials in South Ossetia and the Kremlin regarding allegations that people are losing their land but has yet to receive a response on that.

Iranians are remembering their former president. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday result of a heart attack. He was 82 years old.

For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Becky Anderson live for us in Abu Dhabi this hour. Becky, thank you for being with us.


HOWELL: Rafsanjani the key figure in the country's moderate movement. Just help our viewers to understand how great of a loss this was and how is he being remembered?

ANDERSON: Yes. Described as one of the pillars of the Islamic republic, his death is being seen by many by both inside and outside of Iran as a blow to the country's reform minded politicians ahead of what our crucial presidential elections later this year possibly may.

An influential voice against hardliners. He will be remembered not least for pushing for that landmark nuclear deal with world powers back in 2015, which brought Iran in from the cold.

The somber announcement former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dead at the age of 82. Known for his political tenacity, Rafsanjani dominated the political landscape in Iran for more than three decades. He was a controversial figure to somebody inside and outside of the country.

A close confidant of Ayatollah Khomeini he shot two political prominence after the 1979 Islamic revolution. He was elected as the first speaker of the newly established Iranian parliament in 1980. A position he held until 1989, a period coinciding the Iran/Iraq war.

[03:40:07] Under Khomeini's direction, Rafsanjani also served as the de facto commander in chief of the Iranian military throughout that eight year conflict. After the war his two consecutive terms as president to the Islamic republic were dubbed by his supporters as the reconstruction period.

Rafsanjani pursued liberal economic policies and tried to rebuild ties with Iran's neighbors. After his presidency, Rafsanjani remained a powerful player in Iranian politics including serving as a close adviser of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who he supported in becoming the country's supreme leader.

Rafsanjani's political leaning so began to diverge from Khomeini a fact that would eventually sideline the old revolutionary. In 2005, Rafsanjani ran for president but to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an opponent he criticized base bombastic foreign policy language and populist ideology.

And after the disputed presidential elections in 2009, Rafsanjani sided with the protesters. While his decision helped his popularity amongst supporters of the green movement it was politically costly, diminishing his influence behind the scenes.

But by 2013, Rafsanjani's moderate vision for Iran put him back in play as his close associate Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran's seventh president. His best friend just months away from Iran's next presidential election will deal a major blow to moderate such as Rouhani who lost both the leader and a mentor in Rafsanjani.

George, his calls for better ties with the west and his cordial ties with countries here in the GCC, specifically Saudi put him at odds with his friend supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. And even though he would sidelined in recent years as an elder statesman of that 1979 revolution he couldn't be silent that it influenced experts say is why he'll be sorely missed not just by this current government in Tehran but in capitals across the world. George?

HOWELL: Becky Anderson, live for us in Abu Dhabi. Becky, thank you so much for your reporting and context. Again, Rafsanjani dead at the age of 82 years old.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


HOWELL: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. It has been very cold here in the southeastern part of the U.S., very cold on the East Coast to the northeast. And now bitter temperatures are also leading to deaths in parts of Europe.

Heavy snow and blistering winds forced roads and railways to be closed in Romania. Dozens of villages were left without power. And many people without power there. Local reports says that four people died because of the extremely cold weather conditions there.

In the United States dangerous winter weather hit multiple sections of this country this weekend. As I mentioned that these deaths that were reported they came from the states of Virginia, Georgia, and California. The storm is now working its way through the northeast.

Let's get the very latest on the cold temperatures. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us in the International Weather Center. Pedram, is there a relief in sight for parts of the United States and Europe?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. It's going to be late week so it is rather a quick warm up. But it will take a couple of days before we get there towards the latter portion of the week.

But I want to start you off with what's happening around the western United States. An incredible pattern here of wet weather streaming right along this the classic pineapple express set up when it comes to moisture originating out of the tropics, gets up into the high Sierra and translates into tremendous snowfall.

And you melt that down 10 inches of precipitation expected across the high Sierra. Four to six inches of rainfall expected near the coastal communities.

But translate this snowfall and of course, we are talking several feet of fresh snow. And this is all wonderful news, 103 percent of their average snow pack in place across the Sierra. Of course, in recent years we failed to get to the normal 100 percent average.

And you melt this down we know that about 30 percent of the state's drinking water comes from the snow pack and Sierra's snow melt. So, certainly excellent news in the forecast there. But we know some travel disruptions already in place. the i-80 westbound and work your way in that direction we have mud slides in place closing down parts of the highway.

East bound on i-80 we have trees and power lines down causing issues across that region. And as George said it is not just across the United States.

How about this. Get into Turkey. Wedding is getting underway. Tremendous snowfall has come down in place. In fact, Istanbul International Airport has had the single most cancellations for any airport on our planet on Saturday, on Sunday and now on Monday, as well.

Hundreds of flights cancelled each and every single day. And notice additional snow fall expected the next couple of days across this region. High pressure is sitting there around the western end of the continent.

So, a lot of cold air beginning to filter in across parts of the east, even parts of the Greek aisles and get into even Cyprus. Some snow showers observed in the high elevation.

We'll have more news with George Howell coming up momentarily.


JAVAHERI: It is the heart of winter. It feels like all across the large area of North America here, a very cold temperature in places like the upper Midwestern U.S. The southeastern United States as well. It all quickly lifts the next couple of days. Although the northern tier of the U.S. does expect to remain cold. We do expect milder temperatures to return down towards the southern tier.

And look at this dramatic rise out of Charlotte, highs at 1 on Monday afternoon, almost 20 come Thursday afternoon in Atlanta. Temperatures comfortably climbed into the 20s over the next couple of days, a quick warm up there.

But notice around the western United States that is where the most active weather is in place. A tremendous atmosphere of river pattern essentially tells you where the water coming down across the lower elevations.

And as much snowfall as you would ever hope for across the Sierra Nevadas in some of these areas as well are potentially another 100 fresh centimeters of snow are coming down of the highest elevation. And we know that some of the highways there have been now closed because of dangers of traveling there whether it be to avalanche threat or mud slides that have been experience across that region.

But how about Vancouver, 5 degrees there. Winnipeg looking at 15 below. You could see some snow showers across that area. And notice in places such as Montreal you could see some temperatures about minus 7 to minus 8.

In Mexico City sunny skies prevail there, a high comfortable 20 degrees. And a few thunderstorms around Manawa. It should keep it dry for the most part towards the latter portion of the week in that region.

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

Meryl Streep was being -- was honored with the lifetime achievement award at Sunday night's Golden Globes. In her nearly six minute acceptance speech the actress got political. She praised diversity in Hollywood. But she wasn't the only one talking politics on stage.

For more I'm joined by film critic Richard Fitzwilliams live in London with us. Good to have you with us. First of all, before we get into the politics of the matter let's talk about the Golden Globes itself. Were there any surprises from your point of view?

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, FILM CRITIC: Well, there most certainly were. First, I simply don't believe that anybody thought La La Land would win seven Globes. That's a record in the history of the ceremony. I mean, it really was remarkable. It was a marvelous and enchanting and colorful will be, but it was fantastic to see it do so well.

The other surprises, I was certainly surprised for Natalie Portman for Jackie it knocked out by Isabelle Huppert, a superb French actress for "Elle," and also Aaron Johnson beating Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor.

I mean, that was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. It was a memorable ceremony and also Casey Affleck, I think people thought would win over Denzel Washington. This was for "Manchester by the Sea" over Washington's performance for "Fences." Both played losers in life very, very well indeed. So, it celebrate and amazing amounts fo talent. Also the night manager's victory I think that too is unexpected to that extent and very well deserved I thought.

HOWELL: Let's talk politics here. And Meryl Streep on stage again praising diversity, also talking at one point about Donald Trump the moment during the campaign that deeply affected her when he was on stage mocking a disabled reporter.

She had this to say about the 2016 election over all. Let's listen. We can talk about it here on the other side.


MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: The same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.


HOWELL: It's a moment a lot of people are talking about on social media online. Very significant moment during the Golden Globes.

FITZWILLIAMS: There is absolutely no doubt that she puts so much power and passion into that speech because I think she articulated what everyone who was listening thought, and she put it so forcefully.

[03:54:58] I mean, this was the most decorated Golden Globe performer she had 30 nominations, eight wins and she really chose her example so well I thought. It was really one of those speeches. There were several moving speeches during the ceremony of Ryan Gosling particularly. But this one really hit its target. It was a bull's eye.

HOWELL: What about Jimmy Fallon his performance? He got a little political as well. How did he do?

FITZWILLIAMS: Well, I thought he did rather well. I mean, I find Ricky Gervais that at four times far too personal to aesthetical. Fallon has a gentle style but there were some very good and very funny knocks at Donald Trump.

I mean, Tina Fay and that they pull away were perfect jewel for me but I thought Fallon did rather well. And also the material, I mean, the style of the work was absolutely excellent. For the crown to do as well as it did I was delighted that that for night manager to do as well as he did. This was super.

And also for the people versus J. Simpson, I mean, this was much praised directly. So, both in the film and the television section that we had a lot to cheer about. And although I think the likes, for example, "Nocturnal Animals" I would have like to have done better and the prizes were shed out between La La Land, which of course of the lands share and the "Manchester by the Sea" and "Moonlight."

"Moonlight" a very important victory. It keeps its hopes alive for the Oscars.

HOWELL: It does.

FITZWILLIAMS: So, winning in the drama category I'm very, very pleased about that. And I thought that was absolutely excellent. We knew...

(CROSSTALK) HOWELL: Richard -- Richard Fitzwilliams, thank you so much for being with us.

And thank you for being with us this hour for CNN NEWSROOM. The news continues right after the break.