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U.N. Condemns Trump's Decision; Catalan Separatists Celebrate; UN Condemns Trump's Jerusalem Decision 128-9; President Trump Threatens To Withdraw U.S. Aid; Children Suffering In Damascus Suburb Under Siege. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 22, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, ignoring threats and defying Donald Trump. More than 100 countries condemn Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (INAUDIBLE), Catalan's separatists find reason to celebrate. And the desperate need for speed if you have a slugging iPhone, you're not alone. And Apple, trying to try to explain what's going on. Hello, everybody, thank you for being with us. Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A.

The general assembly has overwhelmingly condemned the decision by the Trump's administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 128 nations voted to denounce the move; then, nine countries, including the U.S. and Israel voted against this non-binding resolution. 35 nations abstained, and 21 just simply didn't show up. Before the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, warned voting against the U.S. would come with consequences.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for the attack in the general assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's large contributions to the United Nations. And we'll remember it when so many countries come calling on us as they so often do to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit. This vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N., and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N., and this vote will be remembered.


VAUSE: Journalist Haviv Gur is a Political Analyst with the Times of Israel. He's with us from Jerusalem. So, Haviv, the Israeli prime minister, the U.S., they want to try and spin this as a bit of a win. It's wasn't as bad they thought it would be. In some ways, it has actually been successful, because countries -- especially in African and Latin American, which in the past, they sided with the Palestinians, they've abstained, although didn't show up. But is a concern that that support was won because of maybe, because of the threat from the American president? HAVIV GUR, POLITICAL ANALYST, THE TIMES OF ISRAEL: It certainly is

possible. I think that from the Israeli perspective, and I think you hear this across the political spectrum in Israel, this is considered something of a win, only in a sense that past are much worse in Israel. The Palestinians have been losing grounds and support, even (INAUDIBLE). Countries are not necessarily like Mexico, countries like Honduras. They're not taking the Israel sign and the conflict. What they seem to are doing is a little bit checking out of the conflict entire, because they don't see it moving anywhere and they don't understand why their interests are served by continuing to take sides at the U.N.

So, Israel sees this as sort of a moderate win in that sense. I've stated, from the Israeli perspective, there's also a sense that the Palestinians have very few other places where they can really take Israel, so to speak. Where they can really pressure Israel and denying them the United Nations, and international, and things like that is a much greater blow to the Palestinians than a victory to Israel. And so, there is a sense that they are a shift, of course, it is 128-9 for the Palestinians, so it's a in which world opinion is still very much on the Palestinian side.

VAUSE: Two countries, which in the past have supported the Palestinians -- Myanmar and the Philippines. Myanmar simply skipped the vote. The Philippines abstained. That's being whether to show a support for Israel. But, does Israel want support from two countries, which have, you know, an atrocious human rights record?

GUR: At the U.N.? You know, the country who supported the Palestinians, countries like Yemen which is only barely held together as a state. It's a completely failed state. The Syrian, the Assad regime supported the Palestinians. I will tell you, in the Israel media, I did not hear any concerns about which countries have the right concern, they're not voting on which side. There are some terrible, terrible regimes on both sides of that vote, and that's not something that was discussed here.

And I'll just say tell you, you know, the countries that Israel is very eager to get on its side like India, which, of course, is a democracy; and China, which is, of course, not, would really make a dent in what's happening in international institutions from Israel's perspective. And that he's courting them very actively. So, I don't think questions of domestic politics or the regime or human rights are entering into this on either side. There's just a race for votes and that's really been ignored by both Israelis and Palestinians.

[01:05:17] VAUSE: It's all -- at the end of the day, it's all about the numbers. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, she made it clear, there's non-binding resolution, it just meant nothing. Here's what she said.


HALEY: America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people wanted us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United States will make any difference of that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GUR: Are there consequences for the Israel and the United States that they both continue to push on like this, continue to be isolated from the international community. Both -- have they simply given up on the U.N.?

GUR: I don't know if it's a question of -- Israel is really politic -- Israel is a political class. It doesn't feel that it's been isolated from the international community. It feels like there's a dynamic that happens an international diplomatic institution like the U.N. that doesn't really reflect the reality on the ground. So, you know, ties with China are exploded.

There is a tremendous amount of anti-Israel activism in places like the United Kingdom, but trades with the United Kingdom has grown year on year for the last decade. So, there's a sense that at the U.N., there are votes against Israel, because there are many, many Muslims in Arab countries there, so why not with the majority. And there's no cost to voting against Israel.

It's not as though Israel is not going to sanction you, you know, little Israel. And so, there's -- Israelis believe and have believed for decades, it's one of the sorts of main days of Israeli foreign policy, that places like the U.N. are more mirage than reality. And the reality is when there's something that happens on the ground, and things like trade and military corporation, and hard things like that. And the Palestinians, of course, disagreed.

They viewed things -- places like the U.N. as fundamental to international foreign -- trade foreign policy, into what may free them from Israel. And that really put all their eggs in that basket. So, this -- it's a difference in the strategic evaluation, and I suspect that the Israelis are right, and I suspect the Palestinians are not going to achieve independence at the U.N.

VAUSE: Yes. Well, so far, that's the case. Haviv, thanks so much for some good insights. I appreciate you being with us. (INAUDIBLE) there in Jerusalem. Thank you.

Well, let's go to our political panel now, Democratic Strategist Robin Swanson, Republican Strategist Charles Moran, and David Siders, Senior Reporter at Politico.

OK. So, along with Israel and the United States, seven countries voted against this resolution: Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. Charles, not exactly international heavy-weights. You can see, all small vulnerable countries. All of them, except Nauru, received millions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States. So, is this essentially what U.S. foreign policy looks in this point of it?

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, just looking at that, the list of people who voted with the United States, there were, you know, dozens, and dozens, and dozens, and dozens of other countries that abstained and did not vote. So, that in of itself is showing that there's a victory. But the use of foreign aid in of itself is something that is there to project American influences.

Of the countries that voted against the United States, there's about $20 billion that the United States spends on those countries. And again, the purpose of that money is to project American influence, so there really is a reason to call into question the money that we are spending if that interest that we are paying essentially is not being met.

VAUSE: Robin, U.S. allies in Europe, as well as the Arab world, they all voted against this resolution, and that's despite President Trump, you know, being told by Nikki Haley that the president will take their vote personally. What do they think about President Trump?

ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Looks like they're not so worried about him taking it personally. And I think there will be time and a place when the United States of America and these United Nations to coalesce behind a policy that we need, and having a history of trying to bully foreign countries into submission to get them to do what we want, isn't going to help our case. And so, this isn't a productive diplomacy strategy, it's not a diplomacy strategy at all. And that may be how he wants to campaign but this isn't how you work with the United Nations and work with other sovereign countries.

VAUSE: And David, this does fit in with the sort of the overall ideology of Donald Trump in the sense of, you know, a lack of faith in the international institutions like the U.N., like the WHO, like the international trade deals.

DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: I think so. And he campaigned on this, and his base supports this kind of posture internationally. And this follows right along with -- think about climate change, and the U.S. stands alone. You see, the president and the United States really, increasingly isolated, and this just follows that thing.

[01:10:07] VAUSE: You know, there's some reporting that the Canadian government was originally a "no" vote on this resolution, supporting the U.S. position. But and came the threats from President Trump, and that "no" vote changed to abstention because there was fear that, you know, Canada would be seen as an American puppet. So, Charles, you know, on some levels, you know, this seems to have backfired on the president; other countries digging in and wanted to be seen to stand up to the United States basically.

MORAN: As it was said in the setup, this was a non-binding resolution, this was something that really doesn't have any teeth. You know, president and the Ambassador Haley made the United States' position very clear. And there wasn't a lot that these countries necessarily had to give up to be able to vote with the United States here. Once again, this was not going to change anything, and there's a lot of things going on in the world that does need the United Nations' attention, this is not necessarily one of them.

But as it pertains to the, you know, American influence abroad, we've had eight years under President Obama, we've had a very weaker, a very standoff-ish American posture on the global state. It's going to take some time for America to, again, reassert itself, and to reintroduce the international community into what it means on to have a true American leadership abroad versus eight years of diminished leadership under President Obama.

SWANSON: But you know what the problem with all of this is, you know, that was an empty threat from Nikki Haley. And I think Nikki Haley probably garners more respect in the international community than Donald Trump does in my humble opinion. But for her to level a threat like that, that she can't really backup because our foreign policy is not based on, you know, who were giving money to. We give money to countries that we get things back from, and, you know, it's saying -- making, leveling empty threats like that does not help the United States in the long run.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) a billion dollars of military aid back from Egypt, because of it has consequences throughout the entire region, security, and everything else. But David, I'm wondering, you know, in terms of domestic politics, this ticks all the boxes for Donald Trump. You know you get to keep the U.N., you get to show everyone your support Israel, and you maybe get to cut the foreign budget at the same time.

SIDERS: Kind of. I mean, this clearly has support among Evangelicals in the United States, which is a big part of, you know, the president's base. But the majority of Americans are not supportive. And so, while he does get to tick that box and claim campaign promises fulfilled, which he needs some -- now coming to the end of the year. He has a shrinking base. And I'm not sure that his best avenue, politically, heading into the midterms next year is to constantly, you know, to drive for those folks alone. This isn't the people in the suburbs, by and large, the well-educated suburban voters, he needs to worry about next.

SWANSON: This is a really good point. And the real question is, why is he still reaching out to his base? He really should have that base shorten up. He has done everything to make the rest of the world and most moderate people in our country mad, why is he still trying to appeal to his base?

VAUSE: I think there's a concern that he thinks that basically if he loses his base, then everything is lost. He's got to cement that base and make sure that they are with him --

SWANSON: But he's already --

MORAN: This has been a banner week for the president with so many achievements. And let's also not forget that the promise to move the capital, Jerusalem, was something that President William Jefferson Clinton, President Barack Obama, they all promised to do. So, once again, this is just fulfilling a promise that Democrats have evidently supported in the past that many still do today.

VAUSE: OK. Well, there is full vote already, because Ambassador Nikki Haley said that's her invitation to her party next year. It saves the date, Wednesday, January 3rd. But only to 65 countries who either abstain, didn't show up, or voted no have actually been invited -- MORAN: A vacation in Palau. A vacation in Palau.

VAUSE: -- to Nikki's party. So, Charles, and so it begins.

MORAN: Seriously? I mean, once again, the United States is going start holding countries responsible for their votes. The United Nations is not actually a place that you can, you know, take American cash on one side, and then go out and then disrespect us, and then vote against some of the important things in our interest. Especially, with all of the pressing issues in the Middle East -- the civil wars, that is just on two fronts, Syria, the crop up of radical Islamic terrorism domestically amongst some of these other nations. You know, this is not one of the things that this international body needs to be spending time saber-rattling just to continue an ages old debate.

SIDERS: I think the take away is less than this administration is going hold other nations speed to the fire by actually withholding money. And the away is rather that they're going to invite you to a party.


VAUSE: Yes. You get invited to Nikki Haley's party. Also, the other big headline today is the president --regarding the president, rather, is testimony from the Deputy FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, to the House Intelligence Committee. A number of sources have told CNN, he's told lawmakers that James Comey, his former boss, the fired FBI Director, had these conversations with James Comey, where Comey talked about the conversations he had with Donald Trump around the same time. All of those is being seen as backing up James Comey's claim that the president had demanded a loyalty oath from James Comey, as explained, the president has vehemently denied to. David, explain why this is important, where does it fit into the scheme of things with the Russia investigation?

SIDERS: That's the significance of it. It's just what you said at the end, which is that the president has vehemently denied this and that the whole entirety and complexity of the Russia investigation, and obstruction of justice probe. What matters is, is the president telling truth? And this evidence, at least, is partial evidence would point to the idea that he's not. And there was plenty -- you know, back up the other side as well, but today's news is about that.

SWANSON: And President Trump has been shown how a very loose relationship with the truth, whether it's, you know, looking at a picture, and saying that the crowd was much bigger than the picture shows. So, you know, the fact that this is now something that could border on criminal, is now making people taking a second look.

MORAN: And we know that President Trump has generally been right about some of the conclusions he's made. I mean, looking at the involvement of Democrats in, you know, the Fusion GPS files, and in terms of providing all the influence, you know, the fact that Russia, you know, meddling in our affairs was something, you know, again, was -- SWANSON: No. In fact, they're still investigating that.


SWANSON: Yes. No, no. They're still investigating.

VAUSE: I'm not so sure that they've proved that stuff too, Charles, but let's move on. OK. Finally, after President Trump, could we be getting ready to a President Bannon? According to Vanity Fair, in October, Bannon called an adviser and said he would consider running for president if Trump doesn't run for re-election in 2020. Which Bannon has told people, is a realistic possibility in private conversations since leaving the White House. Bannon said, Trump only has a 30 percent chance of surviving out his term, whether he's impeached or removed by the cabinet invoking the 25th amendment -- which is incapable of executing the duties of the office. Charles, I want this for you, putting aside the fact that Bannon failed to get a Republicans elected in Alabama, does this actually ring true? Could Bannon actually be the heir to the Trump's presidency?

MORAN: No, no. I think the Republican Party learned its lesson after the 2010 elections where we had extreme candidates, Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, and win in the primary and actually gets traction. We learned. We got drums when we have extreme candidates. Roy Moore was an extreme candidate, I did not support him going into that election. And I'm glad that he lost coming on the backside of it. But I think the Republicans really do understand that we can't have a situation like 2010 all over again. And you saw, you know, again, very, very diminished Republican institutional support for somebody like Roy Moore.

SWANSON: I think extremism has one. And I think he should pick Roy Moore as his running mate. I think that's a brilliant idea and he should run with that.

VAUSE: David, last word.

SIDERS: Clearly, a joy is a stage, but I think his approval or possibility of influencing us about where Mitch McConnell is --

VAUSE: It feels like his moment has passed.

SIDERS: Just hopeful.

VAUSE: OK. Robin, Charles, and David, again thank you so much. Good to see you all. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, see you next year.

SWANSON: Thank you.

VAUSE: All right. It was a gamble by Spain's Prime Minister snap elections in the Catalan region to end the political aspirations of the independence move -- an infamous movement I should. But someone forgot to tell the voters, and the outcome is likely to revive the push to break away from Spain. Also, what you may have always suspected your iPhone, yes, it is

getting slow, and yes, Apple has finally come out a way to tell us why. More on that, later at this hour.


[01:21:10] VAUSE: Spain's prime minister has been dealt a political blow after voters in Catalonia narrowly backed the pro-independence party in new elections. It was a moment of celebration for the supporters of the secessionist movement. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the regional elections "hoping to end the political crisis". Former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont says, the result sent a strong message to Madrid. He watched all of this from Brussels, where he's in exile. Since Spanish announced he would be arrested for calling an independence referendum back in October.


CARLES PUIGDEMONT, FORMER PRESIDENT, CATALONIA (through translator): The Spanish state has been defeated. Rajoy and his allies have lost and have received a slap in the face from the Catalan people. They have a (INAUDIBLE) through which they wanted to legalize the coup d'etat of the 155. And Catalonia has not helped them to make that possible. Rajoy has sunk in Catalonia.


VAUSE: European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas. Dominic, good to see you. You know, looks like, we're all back to square one. The separatists are in power thereby Puigdemont, a mildly with slightly thinner margin than before. The election did nothing to his conflicts. (INAUDIBLE) that the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has been left significantly weakened.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. It's absolutely a remarkable situation. I mean, you know, went ahead because Rajoy imposed on his region, the snap election. Which, essentially, we often forget was a new regional election for the parliament and not a referendum. Although, of course, it pitted the constitutionist and the unionist, against the separatist.

The separatist parties were able -- if indeed they're able to form a coalition to have the 70 out of the 135 seats available. So, in other words, they have the majority. But the unionists are claiming exactly as they have in 2015 with the spread that they won the popular voted of 51.49, as opposed to the parliamentary vote at about 52.48. Absolutely, nothing has changed the.

The thing that's absolutely remarkable about it though is the turnout. 82 percent of people participated in this election. This is the highest turnout, and this the twelfth times it is taken place since the 1980s, and I think really sends a strong message to Rajoy and to Madrid that the folks in Catalonia can handle the question of Democratic transition and so on without intervention from Madrid. And so, that was something interesting about this. VAUSE: You know, this is almost the worst of all worlds because there

were no overwhelming results in one way or the other. And again, I think we're talking about this a few weeks ago, rather, that another European leader has taken a gamble on the outcome of an election and has been burnt badly.

THOMAS: Right. And it's extraordinary. You know, how it is going the leave, you know, of course. You know, he will argue that the popular vote and made a powerful statement. But, of course, if the union is in the constitution that have come out ahead in the parliament vote and having the greatest number of seats, he would have claimed the victory.

And I think on that principle one, it is a glaring defeat from him and a gross miscalculation that further reinforces the perception that he mishandled this from the word go. And he's certainly not going to back down on his claim backed from constitutional texts that he's sticking to that Spain is governed by this soluble a unity.

And so, it's very difficult to see where we go from here, and of course the candidates, whose party scored the second and large figures, not in terms of the parliament vote, but Puigdemont and Juncker are. One of them is in prison, and as you mentioned earlier, one of them is still in self-exile in Belguim.

VAUSE: You know, we did hear from the leader, the pro-unity party in Catalan. Yes, like, many losing politicians, he's claiming the system was rigged. Listen to this.


[01:25:04] INES ARRIMADAS, MEMBER OF SPANISH PARLIAMENT (through translator): If we knew yesterday, the independence process had no future, it is even clearer today that it does not represent a future for all Catalans. And we will continue to fight even with that unfair electoral law that gives more seats to those who have less vote. We will continue to fight for all of you and for all Catalans.


VAUSE: You know, in the sense, you know, this being kind of the fix was in with the allocation of seats, does she make a -- did she have a good argument? Does she make a point?

THOMAS: Well, let's just look at, for example, the U.S. election and the whole question of the electoral college. I mean, you know, this is something -- the fact is, it's a system that's in place. If they don't like it, then they need to talk about changing it. But currently, it's this parliamentary, you know, regional electoral system.

The parties that get the most seats through whatever the mechanism is in place have an opportunity to try and create a coalition. And right now, the three political parties that are in the independent separatist camp have an opportunity to do that. And the seats are not there in any other real configuration --- so, you know, of course, you know, they want to argue for the popular vote, you know, that argument will, you know, will take them a certain distance.

Now, of course, this was not a referendum. And I think this is where Rajoy gets himself in this complicated argument is that he's trying to adhere to the constitution, and to this -- as we've said, this indissolubility of Spain, so he can't call a referendum. And of course, this was not a referendum, but the outcome of a referendum, of course, would be hard to predict because of this question of the popular vote.

VAUSE: OK. Very quickly, we're almost out of time, how long can Puigdemont remain leader of the pro-independence movement? There's a little bit of bitterness going on with his own party. You mentioned this, he fled off to Brussels, you know, beer and chocolate, while others stayed behind, and we're locked up and spending time in Spanish jails.

THOMAS: Well, there's a split between him and Junqueras, his former Vice President. But of course, this didn't really pan out in terms of the votes. Many people thought that his Vice President Junqueras and the ERC would either come in second or first. They didn't, they came in third. And they certainly got a lot of grounds to make up in order to determine whether or not they are going to be able to form a coalition that will push for independence. And so, that remains to be seen.

Of course, many people are joining analogies, going all the way back to dictatorship, and to the way in which the Republic was governed -- and from France, initially, and then Mexico. These situations are slightly different, but, of course, this is the big dilemma that Rajoy faces right now, is that he called a snap election, people voted democratically, and it's going to be very difficult for him to argue that both Puigdemont and Junqueras decide to remain elsewhere, subject to arrest or in prison in Spain.

VAUSE: OK. Dominic, we'll leave it there. But always good to see you, we appreciate it. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, next here in NEWSROOM L.A., the U.S. will hand out more than $25 million in foreign aid next year, but that might just change if President Trump follows through on his threats at the U.N.

Plus, haunting images of war all around the world, many are showing a photo of themselves with one eye covered. We'll tell you why.


[01:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I am John Vause, the headline is hour. Voters in the Spanish region of Catalonia have given pro-independence parties a slim electoral majority is the major blow to the central government in Madrid. Catalonia's ousted president celebrated in Brussels. He's been an exile there since Spanish authority denounce they would arrest him leading the independence movement. Australia's second biggest city, Melbourne is slowly returning to

normal a day after a horrific vehicle attack. 18 people were injured Thursday when car plowed into a crowd of Christmas shoppers. Police say the driver had a history of drug use and mental health issues.

President Donald Trump's decision to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was denounced Thursday (INAUDIBLE) vote at the United Nations. 128 countries condemn the move earning nine including U.S. and Israel voted against the non-binding resolution. 35 nations abstain. To the last point, 38 (INAUDIBLE) is getting the most attention in Israel by not counting this country which helps block out the outcome of this. Here's CNN's Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even if the results of the United Nations General Assembly vote were very much what we expected to see, an overwhelming rejections of U.S. foreign policy and President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it's still a very public reminder of how alone the U.S. stands with its foreign policy on this one. Palestinians hailed the vote as reaffirming the cause in the international community and a step forward to the establishment of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital 128 states voted for the general resolution trying to nullify the U.S.'s recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. It was introduced by Yemen, nine countries voted against and 35 countries abstained.

But because of the results of the votes, specifically the number of abstentions, Israel is also hailing this as a bit of a victory as well. The vote was certain in the past and even by a large majority. But the fact that nearly three dozen countries abstained is a diplomatic victory from Israel's perspective which lobbied hard in the last 48 hours to get countries to stay out of the vote. The notable abstentions, Argentina and Columbia in South America and the Czech Republic and Hungary in Europe is it breaks the consensus of the European Union. At the end of the day, very little if anything changes here because the vote itself was nonbinding even if it came under a U.N. General assembly emergency session and is, therefore, a very powerful rebuke of U.S. foreign policy. Oren Liebermann CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Well, the American Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley threatened outright nations would possibly lose foreign aid. She did this in the lead up to the vote and then after the vote, she promised payback.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way. But we'll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the U.N., we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack on this organization, that nation is disrespected. What's more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege.


VAUSE: Well, the U.S. State Department says that officials are already looking at how to roll back some of this foreign aid but they did say the vote would not be the only factor which will be considered. They say there are a lot of other options on the table.


[01:35:08] The U.N. vote is really not the only factor that the administration would take, into consideration and dealing with our foreign relations and countries who have chosen to vote one way or the other. The President's foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward with other nations however new decisions have been made.


VAUSE: Well, for more on foreign aid, the United States and what comes next we're joined by Lisa Daftari. She's an Investigative Journalist and Editor in Chief of the Foreign Desk. Good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, I guess the question is what does the retaliation in terms of foreign aid? What does that look like? How does the President follow through on this threat? And if he doesn't, what does that mean?

DAFTARI: It's not a threat. It's more a warning. And this is something that Donald Trump, then-candidate Trump was very, very, very strong about saying that if we're going to dole out the money, that there has to be the leverage that's attached to that money. We can't just keep writing checks to actor such as Pakistan or to -- now you see the countries have voted now against what were -- are interest in the area. Basically, it's not charity. This is meant to echo the foreign policy of the United States. And this is one instance where that warning was served.

VAUSE: It's not charity but many people see it as charity especially in the United States, especially people who support Donald Trump and Republicans especially. So this is sort of a domestically a win politically for Donald Trump. The problem is that you know, foreign aid actually is not a one-way street. You know, donating countries get something back. And there are many examples that countries have been stabilized like Indonesia receive a lot of foreign aid was politically stabilized and basically ended or reducing merely the threat from terrorism. There was one saying which (INAUDIBLE) investing one dollar in prevention saves the world $10.00 post- conflict recovery costs. And preventing a war is 60 times cheaper than fighting one. But selling prevention is really hard. It's like what we stop happening.

DAFTARI: Yes, but at the same time, you have countries such as Turkey, such as Yemen, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia who are given the slower adding institutions like the U.N. where we're putting all of this money in. These countries back at home have growth human rights violations. They're abusing women, they're abusing children. They have you know a long list of violations but they use that podium call off the United States on something that's what, calling Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which is something that's established already? So I think what Donald Trump is meaning to do, and this is a nonpartisan move for any Americans. This is not Donald Trump's piggy bank money.

This is not Democratic or Republican money, this is the U.S. taxpayer money. And there should be a leverage and there should be an outcome. I think you are absolutely right to say that there are many instances where that aid is meant in the long run to benefit the world community and the United States security as well. But I think that when we're seeing these actors come out and do things that are against U.S. interest, that's where you have to pull the plug or at least deliver a stern warning that you will pull the plug.

VAUSE: I think you know, there has been criticism of countries receiving U.S. foreign aid in the past, how it's going to (INAUDIBLE), who got what and that criticism is fair. And I guess that's for another conversation but what has been talked about in the last 24 hours is using foreign aid as an instrument to threaten countries, to bully countries if you like to support U.S. position which is against their own position. Because you know, back in what, February when Donald Trump was the administration, (INAUDIBLE) administration was proposing big cuts to the foreign aid budget. You know, every went and run (INAUDIBLE) of playing this sound bite for the Defense Secretary James Mattis. This is in 2013, his last year in the Marine Corp. Here's what he said.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If you don't fund the State Department fully then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think the -- it's a cost-benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department's diplomacy, hopefully, the less we have to put into a military budget if we deal the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.


VAUSE: And also this year, we heard from about 100 retired Generals and Admirals. They wrote to Congress denouncing cuts to foreign aid's budget. This is part of what they wrote. "We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone." So again, is there complications if you are throwing another level onto who gets what foreign aid. And that comes out to do you support the United States in the U.N. and not just on this issue. All I'm saying is pretty much on every issue you're going to support the United States or you don't get the money?

[01:40:01] DAFTARI: Well, yes. I think we are saying the same thing in the sense that we're controlling the outcome to whatever extent we can. And I think that the positive thing here is that whether it's Nikki Haley or Donald Trump, were pulling the reigns in it saying we're giving out the allowance. You need to do your chores. You need to pay back, whether it is the NATO countries, whether it's the U.N. nation, whether it's -- whatever we're putting our money in. We have to see that the interest are at least echoed.

VAUSE: Russia and China have made no secret of effects. Or they actually have secret of effects but, it's no secret that Russian and China used their foreign aid and influence to get what they want.

DAFTARI: Absolutely.

VAUSE: It's just that they do keep it a secret. This was just so avert and so shocking. I think that's why a lot of the people found it quite stunning.

DAFTARI: You know, it's stunning because it's Donald Trump. And let's just -- I think there's two elephants in the room. One is to say that there is a known bias at the U.N. against Israel. That's one thing, we put it aside. There's also this allergic and sensitive, over-reactive reaction to whatever Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE). Now, let's talk about how Egypt's aid was cut under President Obama. Why? Because of hum rights abuses. So that aid hasn't fully been reinstated yet. So we're talking about further cuts to countries that are undermining. We cannot have countries at the U.N. deciding our own foreign policy based on bogus votes. It's irrelevant.

VAUSE: All right. We are out of time. I was going to say the cuts to Egypt's aid because of human rights abuses because the aid was tied to improvement to human rights abuses which --

DAFTARI: Exactly. Well, that's the same thing, controlling the outcome. I think we both agreeing to what we're saying.

VAUSE: Wait, we're talking about each other. It's good to see you. Thank you.

DAFTARI: Absolutely.

VAUSE: I appreciate it. Well, on the Japanese case. A wave of ghost ships from North Korea. We'll hear from local authorities and fishermen that like so many boats are washing out on the beach, more on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Well now to Syria and even though Russia has declared victory in the six-year civil war. The fight there continues and that's painfully clear in one Damascus suburb where life has become inseparable for so many children. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh reports but there is a warning, the images you are about to see in Nick's report are disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the edge of existence in a war you may have thought was over, the siege by Russian air power and the Syrian regime. Another headlong dash into dust and rubble become something routine. There are still children mostly forgotten and yet here feeling the things they will never forget. This is childhood in Eastern Ghouta, Syria where Moscow has declared victory. Tiny bodies are abandoned anonymous. No parents at hand to whisper their names. Some must urgently get out. (INAUDIBLE) lost a chance of a normal life and his mother in shelling on December 3rd intensive care under intensive bombardment, one of the grotesque norms of this war. He is among the 137 children who the U. N. said this week, urgently need evacuating for medical treatment.

Another is Kareem, he lost an eye in another bombardment and his mother, too. His injuries look half of his sight yet drew the attention of the international community. The outside world, powerless and exhausted by this war. Now reduced to a hashtag gesture. This, at the U.N. Security Council, is pretty much all they can do.

DR. AMANI BALOUR, PEDIATRICIAN IN EAST GHOUTA (through translator): We see many respiratory and intestinal problems in children due to lack of hygiene and clean drinking water, unclean air from cooking smoke. We also see children with signs of mental illness but we can't offer them anything.

WALSH: Bombs are not the only weapon. Amira is age 1 yet only five kilos in weight. Nur is 4 but only 10 kilos. The U.N. in a rare new superlative in this war said child malnutrition here is the worst it has ever been in the war. And they are not starving from air or poverty but from the siege. Food purposely denied the defenseless by the regime. Here a time of shared plenty elsewhere does not spell even a pause in this war. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Almost 100 North Korean boats have been found washed up on Japan's shores. That's a record number for this year. And these ghost ships are often found with the bodies of North Korean fishermen inside. CNN, Ivan Watson, explains what's going on.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Japan's northwestern coast, winter is harsh, and the sea unforgiving. This wild shoreline is also the scene of a disturbing mystery. North Korean boats sometimes called ghost ships keep washing up on these beaches.

Look at this, a little fishing boat like this has no business being out in these stormy seas. And the men on board, they paid the ultimate price. The authorities say they found the bodies of four men on this wreck and on a similar fishing boat which both washed up here on the same day.

Hours after we filmed here, Japanese authorities found two more bodies buried under this second wooden boat when they tried to drag it off the beach. The Japanese Coast Guards detected a record number of close to 100 North Korean ghost ships in 2017. They've also found dozens of bodies aboard these drifting vessels. Their appearance all the more striking when you considered Japan is around 1,000 kilometers, more than 600 miles from North Korea.

Japan's Coast Guard accuses North Korean fishermen of poaching in Japanese waters, sparking hundreds of confrontations like this, this year alone. Sometimes Japanese authorities find surviving North Korean fishermen on the drifting boat. But in November, police accused 10 men on this boat of looting a fishing station on a Japanese island. They arrested three North Koreans. In a small fishing port along the Oga Peninsula, veteran fishermen say it's madness to take such small vessels so far out to sea.

"Only an idiot would fish like this," says Akira Funatsu. "The North Korean government must be forcing them." Aboard this ghost ship, we find fishing nets, a radio, a flashlight, and a cupboard. On the day this boat washed up, police also found two bodies nearby.

Locals deal with the dead as best they can. They had a priest at this Zen Buddhist temple praise before the cremated ashes of 15 unidentified North Koreans brought here by the new municipality. "They'll be buried without a funeral and not according to their religion," he says. "I feel so sorry for them." The sad fact is that for every dead North Korean who washes up here, there are probably many more sailors never make it to dry land. Something must be terribly wrong in North Korea to make a fisherman's catch one worth dying for. Ivan Watson, CNN, Akita, Japan.


[01:50:00] VAUSE: Well, if you have an older iPhone, maybe you won't be too happy with Apple. The company now admits it's actually slowing down those older phones, but there is a good reason, apparently.


VAUSE: Well, if you have an older iPhone, you may have noticed it isn't quite as fast as it used to be, and there is a reason for that. Apple has admitted to slowing down performance of some older phones with, yes, those cellphone updates that's meant to smooth out power (INAUDIBLE) prevent surprised shutdown and save battery life. Right! OK. CNNMoney's Heather Kelly is with us from San Francisco. OK.

So, we did actually get a rare statement from Apple trying to clarify on what this is all about, this is part of it. "Lithium batteries (INAUDIBLE) become less capable of supplying peak current demands in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components. Last year we released a feature to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during those conditions."

You know, I read that as translation, we slowed down your old iPhone so you'd buy a new one.

HEATHER KELLY, CNNMONEY TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: That is the conspiracy theory that's been floating around even before this was an issue for a couple of years that Apple makes older iPhone slower so that you'll have to go buy the shiny new iPhone or the thousand-dollar iPhone X. But the statement is actually saying, no, we didn't do it to force you to upgrade, we did it so your phone would stop shutting down suddenly when it says it has 30 percent power left.

VAUSE: Yes, we did it out of love, it wasn't a conspiracy, but you know, does it ring true to you because if it's a problem with the batteries, why can't you just go to a third party and buy a new one?

KELLY: I mean, you can -- you can absolutely do that and you can also go to Apple and get a new battery for $79. The problem is most iPhones use Lithium-Ion batteries, and they are -- not really the greatest technology. If you recall a few years ago, a year ago, when the Samsung phones were catching fire suddenly, that was Lithium-Ion battery problem. Anyway, so, the thing is as they get older, they tend to lose their charge, they're sensitive to cold and heat and it can be harder for them to keep up with the Apple, you know, system, the processing power requires. And so, hey kind of roll out this update to older iPhones that have older batteries to help them get more life out of those batteries without actually having to swap out for a new one.

VAUSE: Was there any transparency here? I mean, do they actually tell people about doing this? And I don't mean like that long thing that no one ever reads, you know, before you click yes?

KELLY: Well, it wasn't there anyway, so --


VAUSE: Oh, good.

KELLY: No, they didn't. They did say that they released an update about a year ago for the error where people's phones were shutting down suddenly but they didn't actually say what they did and they definitely did not mention the fact that it was going to be slowing down phones. It wasn't until it kind of popped up on Reddit recently and a guy named John Poole over at Gekkbench kind of looked into it and did some number crunching that Apple was sort of forced to respond this week.

VAUSE: You know, the Chicago something has reported to Illinois residents have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple has acted in deceptive and immoral and unethical ways. There's another lawsuit which has been filed in California alleging the same thing. Could this actually end up being a costly problem for Apple or do -- this will go away, no one's going to care? [01:55:02] KELLY: I mean, they've got a lot of lawyers. And a lot of money for lawyers. I mean, it could be more of a P.R. issue than a costly issue for them. I mean, this whole problem is kind of a P.R. problem that they weren't upfront about it, to begin with. I mean, at the very least, it should inform how they communicate things going forward. I'm not sure if those lawsuits will work out for the people but we'll definitely see.

VAUSE: Did they not learn anything from Samsung and the exploding Galaxy phone?

KELLY: I mean, they learned to take measures to prevent batteries from exploding, so I think that's good.

VAUSE: A good point. But -- I mean, will this in any way be of an advantage to Samsung? No, no, they've sorted out, we think, their battery problems. The new Galaxy phones are pretty how so to speak. And you know, it's pretty intense competition right now between these two carriers to (INAUDIBLE) I should say.

KELLY: It really depends. If you -- if, you know, we got to compare the battery life. Like, is this actually still making the iPhone battery last longer than Samsung. It could -- it could end up just making, you know, iPhones look better. And also, I mean, if I were Samsung, I'd wait a little while before really, you know, competing with Apple over battery issues. The wound is still fresh.

VAUSE: Well, you know, at least they came clean. It took a while but they fessed up, sort of.

KELLY: In a very dry statement that you read that not a lot of people will read or really understand, but they fessed up, yes.

VAUSE: Exactly. OK. Well, Heather, good to see you. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

KELLY: You, too. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Well, it's almost Christmas, the season to be merry. You know, ask Santa for toys, ask him to stage a kidnapping if you want. Like 9-year-old Jennifer Murphy from Eastern Canada. She went outside her home, she painted a message in the show for the jolly, Santa, stop here, leave presents, take brother.

She came up with the idea while playing outdoors. Jennifer's mother says it was a prank on her. The girl's 13-year-old brother, Ryan. So, big brothers be warned, don't bug your little sister because she will -- she will throw you under Santa's sleigh. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. Please follow us on Twitter @cnnnewsroomla for highlights and clips from the show. I'll be back with more news after a short break.


VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the United Nations, stares down threat from Donald Trump, voting overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. President's decision about Jerusalem. Plus, Catalonia's exiled former leader calls it a slap in the face to Spain.