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Pope Francis Makes Plea For Migrants; Trump Celebrates Christmas With A Tweet; Aftermath Of The Grenfell Tower Fire. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired December 25, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:04] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: As Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve Mass, he makes a plea for the world's migrants. Your money in 2017, we take a look back at the top stories affecting your wallet. And later the magic behind the classic holiday tale Christmas Carol.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. Christians around the world are gathering to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

Earlier, Pope Francis led the Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican. In just a few hours time, he will deliver his traditional address. This is his fifth Christmas as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He focused on the plight of immigrants in his Sunday message, listen.


POPE FRANCIS, 266TH POPE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, (Through translator): So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but driven from their land leave behind their dear ones.


HOWELL: West Bank City is the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem is a popular destination for visitors during the holiday season. But political fallout is affecting tourism this year. Our Oren Liebermann explains.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A cold and rainy Christmas Eve here in Bethlehem. We're standing above Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity, the biblical site where Jesus was born. All building up towards not only the most special moment of the day here but arguably the most special moment of the year here in Bethlehem, midnight mass led by the Latin patriarch of the holy land.

And for those who have come out. It has been a festive Christmas Eve with a beautifully decorated Manger Square here. But the crowds simply haven't been there this year. And that's because of the consequences of President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And that has very much effected Christmas Eve here.

First, politically, there are signs around Major Square that say Jerusalem will always be the eternal capital of Palestine. That is a shot right back at President Trump. And it is a symbol of the anger here that many still feels at his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But it's also affected people in a very concrete financial way. And that's because, with the expectation of demonstrations, the State Department issued a travel warning here for fear of those demonstrations. That means tourists cancel their hotel reservations. And they're not here for the shops.

You can feel it, the emptiness in the Square. That being said as I pointed out, it has still been a festive eve for the faithful that have come out here to enjoy Christmas Eve in its most special places in Bethlehem.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Bethlehem.


HOWELL: Oren, thank you. Now, let us give you look at Christmas celebrations around the globe in Iraq. You take a look here. What we see here the faithful, they are celebrating Christmas for the first time in four years after ISIS was driven out earlier this year.

U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan gathered for a festive show at Bagram Airbase, singing and dancing were part of the Christmas Eve celebrations there.

In Beijing, hundreds of people came together for Christmas Eve mass, despite reported restrictions on festivities. According to state media, the ruling Communist Party warned against celebrating Christmas and the influence of quote, Western religious culture.

The U.S. president is taking part in Christmas festivities from his Florida resort just a few hours ago. President Trump attended mass in the same church where he and Melania Trump were married. Unsurprisingly, the president's Christmas Eve activities included a tweet.

Sara Murray reports.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump spent the day before Christmas engaged in some of the traditional activities. He would expect from a sitting president. Now, because it's Trump, he couldn't resist a few Twitter feuds as well. The president began with a video conference speaking to U.S. troops that were deployed. He and the First Lady went on to speak to some children about where Santa was at any given time during the day through the Santa tracker. But Trump also took aim at one of the nation's top law enforcement officials, having a tweet going after Andrea McCabe who's the deputy director of the FBI, someone who's expected to retire in the coming months.

Now, Trump has made no secret of his displeasure with the Justice Department, as well as with the FBI specifically. Still the White House insists Trump does have confidence in this law enforcement agency and the FBI in particular, now that he has picked the man who's in the lead there.

[00:05:07] Sara Murray, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


HOWELL: Sara Murray, thank you.

The King of Spain is calling for peace and unity after a year of political turmoil. He uses annual Christmas message to speak directly to the Catalan Independence Movement. Just days ago Catalan separatist group, one groups rather, one a parliamentary majority in regional elections.

King Felipe says that keeping Spain together is the most important thing, listen.


FELIPE VI, KING OF SPAIN: The road must lead to coexistence in the core of Catalan society as diverse and pluralistic as it is so that it recovers at serenity, instability and mutual respect in such a way that ideas do not put distance between or breakup families and friends.


HOWELL: As you'll remember in October, Catalonia held an independence referendum with an overwhelming result to leave.

In the United Kingdom now, it has been a painful six months for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire that took place in West London, 71 people died in that fire. So as Christmas arrives, our Phil Black checked in with those who lost their homes and also lost loved ones.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christmas in London is for most people a truly joyful time, but not here.

In this pocket of west London, you'll find some efforts to mark the season but they're rare and overwhelmed by a monstrous dark presence.

The black husk of Grenfell Tower looms over streets where there are no decorations, just memorials to 71 people, suddenly taken in one horrific night six months ago.

Photos, messages and tributes to people whose families must endure their first Christmas without them.

The Tabernacle Christian Church is one of the places the fire's survivors come to collect donated clothes. Volunteers here are making a real effort with the decorations. They haven't given up on trying to make people feel some happiness, but their expectations are modest.

CLARRIE MENDY: A lot of parents will try and make Christmas for the sake of their children. But the elders, like me, I ain't got no Christmas -- I forget Christmas this year or anything.

BLACK: Clarrie Mendy lost two cousins in the fire, Mary Mendy and her daughter Khadija Saye.

MENDY: I miss -- I miss the gentleness, the smile, and the warmness.

BLACK: For the Jafari family Christmas is special, but it's never been about faith. They're devout Muslims who fled Afghanistan and lived in Grenfell for more than 15 years. Fatima (ph) escaped the fire and she's cried every day since. Her husband Ali (ph), was overcome by smoke as the family fled.

HAMID ALI JAFARI: An ambulance (ph) couldn't save him. He passed away next to the Tower. My mom and my dad used to celebrate my birthday on the Christmas because I'm born on Christmas.

BLACK: You were born on Christmas?

JAFARI: Yes. And then my dad was born on the 1st of January, so we still celebrate.

BLACK: Elise (ph) and Hamid stood outside as the fire consumed the building. Helpless, desperate, knowing his father was somewhere inside.

This 33-year-old man is now too traumatized to sleep in the dark. His mother is terrified of tall buildings. His young son is scared of birthday candles.

For the Jafari's there is some solace in community. On the 14th of every month, the day of the fire, crowds walk silently through the streets surrounding Grenfell. December's turnout was the biggest yet.

The event's quite power is a demand for justice from ongoing investigations. It's a respectful tribute and an active mutual support. Hamid Jafari is grateful, but it can't fill the absence left by his father.

JAFARI: You know, one hour, two hour, 24 hours, I just miss him.

Phil Black, CNN, London.


HOWELL: The pain for so many still lingers after that terrible tragedy.

Moving on now to Peru, the former authoritarian president of that nation, Alberto Fujimori is now a free man. Late Sunday, the current president issued a humanitarian pardon to the 79-year-old who suffers from ill health.

Fujimori had been serving a 25 year sentence for human rights abuses and corruption during his presidency in the 1990s. He was convicted of authorizing the death squad that killed civilians. Fujimori supporters gathered outside the clinic where he is being treated.

[00:09:59] Guatemala is again backing President Trump over his policy on Jerusalem. President Jimmy Morales, says that his country will also move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. U.S. assistance is key for Guatemala. President Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to U.N. members voting against his Jerusalem decision only nine countries did not did not explicitly condemned the U.S. move.

The deadly tropical storm that slammed the Philippines has now strengthened to a typhoon. Tendon has killed more than 160 people. It is devastated that nation with floods and landslides, more than 170 people in the southern part of the nation are missing. Tendon is now approaching Vietnam as you see here on the radar. It's expected to weaken to a tropical storm in the coming hours.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, we take a look back at the biggest money stories that hit news and to hit your wallet in 2017. Plus, we'll explore the rich life of one of Britain's finest writers, Charles Dickens and his much love, a Christmas Carol. Stay with us.


[00:15:04] HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. In less than a week, the year 2017 comes to an end. And fair to say, the years have been a roller coaster ride for the financial world full of changes, both good and bad changes. CNNMoney's Richard Quest and Christine Romans take a look back at the most important stories of the year.




QUEST: CEOs revolt.

ROMANS: And investors cheer.

QUEST: Here are the top seven money stories in 2017.

ROMANS: Number seven, brick and mortar's retail apocalypse. A record 6,700-plus locations shuttered in 2017, a stunning list of bankruptcies, more than 70,000 retail jobs lost. But online sales are soaring. Walmart's pivot to e-commerce pays off. Online sales skyrocketed. And Amazon, the king of digital shopping, saw its stock price cross $1,000 a share making CEO Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world.

Amazon has so much cash it actually bought a brick and mortar chain bringing us to our next story.

QUEST: Number six, mega mergers. Amazon's $13 billion purchase of Whole Foods. It was one of the splashiest deals of the year and in true Amazon style, the retail juggernaut immediately dropped prices.

Verizon, yes, closed its purchase of Yahoo! and as the year came to an end, CVS plans to buy Aetna. It's an eye-popping $69 billion. If approved, it will rank as the largest healthcare merger in history. It all relies on the regulators. Will they sign off on these deals?

Just before Thanksgiving, the Justice Department sued to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, parent company of CNN. And that's causing uncertainty for future deals that could put a chill on M&A next year.

ROMANS: Number five, the Bitcoin craze. The virtual currency started the year below $1,000, then a speculative frenzy to Bitcoin from $6,000 to $16,000 in less than a month. Driving it all, an expectation that this speculative investment will someday be mainstreamed and the rally sparking a get rich quick fever in retail investors.

So is Bitcoin a bubble and made-up Internet money or a profound shift to a viable digital currency? Nobody knows for sure, so buyer beware.

QUEST: And so to number four, your data that's under attack. In September, credit reporting agency Equifax disclosed a colossal breach on a monumental scale. The data of 143 million Americans, nearly half the country, had been exposed.

Chief executive Richard Smith resigned, although he still got a tongue-lashing from lawmakers in the U.S.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Equifax did a terrible job of protecting our data.

QUEST: The lesson for corporate America, hacks are a threat to your brand. Prioritize cyber security or be prepared to pay the price.

ROMANS: Number three, chief executives bail on the Trump administration. The CEO president made a big show of bringing business leaders to the White House, but his handpicked jobs and manufacturing councils started to unravel. And then eventually imploded.

In January, several high-profile CEOs criticized Trump's travel ban. In June, Tesla's Elon Musk and Disney's Bob Iger both quit the group after the administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.

Then came Charlottesville. One CEO after the next resigned from the councils until the president had no choice but to disband them altogether.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just in, two of the president's CEO Groups for Jobs now totally gone, disbanding.

ROMANS: It was stunning reversal considering the euphoria among many business leaders following Trump's election.

QUEST: Number two, the most sweeping tax reform in decades. It will touch nearly every American citizen and it's billed as a middle class tax cut.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing. Believe me, believe -- this is not good for me.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The bigger relief goes to those who need it most.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: The middle class are the biggest winners in the Senate's tax plan.

QUEST: The government's own analysis tells a different story. It finds the rich and corporations benefit the most at a cost of $1 trillion added to the deficit. Republicans insist tax cuts will ignite explosive economic growth benefiting everyone.

[00:20:08] RYAN: The conference report is adopted, without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Trump administration and the Republican Congress on the brink of their first major legislative victory of 2017.

TRUMP: It's the largest tax cut in the history of our country and reform, but tax cut.

ROMANS: And number one, the Trump bump takes off.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: 20,000 is a historic moment.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We've gone right through 20,000, 21,000, 22,000, just another day at work.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We do have breaking news, look at that number right there, 24,000.

ROMANS: It seems nothing could stop this rally, not a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, not the Russia investigation, not the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. President Trump delights in praising the market's rise.

TRUMP: We have a stock market that has hit record highs 81 times since our election victory.

ROMANS: And he often touts the strong economy.

TRUMP: Total unemployment is now at a 17-year low, think of it, not bad. QUEST: Every president takes credit for a booming economy, but cheering on the stock market, that's risky. Just think about it. After all what goes up sometimes, perhaps usually in the fullness of time, might go down. And the second strongest bull market in history could be over due for a serious pullback.

So the question now, will it happen in 2018 or will the bulls continue to run?


HOWELL: Richard Quest and Christine Romans with the money headlines there.

A Christmas Carol is one of the world's most loved stories of fest -- the festive season. And Charles Dickens is the literary master brought the tale of ghost gifts and generosity of spirit of life.

Nick Glass takes a look at how Dickens did that in only six weeks.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a gilded frame, three little photographs of the grizzled old literally lion, this is Dickens as we remember him looking older than his years, simply worn out and probably conscious of it. He died at just 58.

The Dickens Museum in London is in the Georgian Terrace in Bloomsbury with a requisite blue plaque. This is 48 Doughty Street, the house he rented as a young married man. Here on display are some of his writing tools, his quill ink well, his magnifying glass, his cigar box, and something that went with him every time he moved home.

It's naturally sharing its age but this is Charles Dickens's actual writing desk, its where he wrote Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and this rather handsome little volume, this is a proof copy of Christmas Carol published on December 19th, 1843, 6,000 copies, they sold out on Christmas Eve.

It's a beautiful object finally bound, gold lettering on the front and spine, the first story that Dickens ever published directly as a book rather than in serial form and a periodical illustration is by John Leech, a young caricaturist with Punch Magazine, four in color.

The museum is currently showing Leech's initial pencil sketches, the first faint apparition that that wonderfully named, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Being Dickens, our story is naturally a tale of two cities. New York is celebrating in this Christmas too with this special exhibition at the Morgan Library.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol and you see these very cotted pages where they're heavily revised, he's changing his mind, he's going back. But it's all pouring out of him. The level of artistic energy there I think is almost sort of bouncing off the page when you look at it. GLASS: It's somehow thrilling to see the names in Dickens's own almost illegible hand, Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and, of course, Tiny Tim.

Now, would you have recognized Dickens from this, the earliest known photograph, a daguerreotype from 1850, he was then 38. In his 40s and 50s, A Christmas Carol became one of his favorite readings in his celebrated tours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were like rock concerts, his readings. I mean people just were so thrilled to be in his actual physical presence. The fact that he was also a brilliant actor was such a huge bonus. People could scarcely believe their luck.

[00:24:58] GLASS: Dickens's Farewell American Tour in the late 1860s earned him the modern equivalent of $1.5 million. Poignantly, a ticket stub for a reading in London on February the 1st, 1870, this to be among his last, a mere four months later the great writer, the great performer of his own works was dead leaving an empty chair by his writing desk. This engraving became a Christmas bestseller that year.

Nick Glass, CNN in London.


HOWELL: All right and for all the kiddos an update on where Santa Claus is at this hour, the U.S. military and command of protecting U.S. airspace, American airspace NORAD it is tracking Santa's movements take a look there, in his reindeer on the last leg of their adventure making their way across North America. Right now, it is like in Guatemala, headed toward Mexico.

Now, According to NORAD they have already delivered more than 5 billion gifts you see right behind Santa, all those stars, looks like those of the gifts that are being delivered. You can track all of this at And kids go to sleep, go to sleep before Santa comes through.

Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell. Iconic Hong Kong is next. But first, a world headlines after the break.