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Protestors Take to Streets in Iran; Russia and China Accused of Secretly Selling Oil to North Korea; President Trump Tweets about Global Warming and Weather; SWAT Team Shoots Man after False Report of Hostage Situation; Report Indicates Pregnant Women Using Marijuana in California; Serena Williams Returns to Tennis after Having First Child; Top Economic Stories of 2017 Reviewed. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 30, 2017 - 10:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We always appreciate you spending some time with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning. CNN Newsroom begins right now.

PAUL: So after meddling in the 2016 election and being sanctioned, Russia is now calling for cooperation with the U.S.

BLACKWELL: So this is in the New Year message for President Trump. President Vladimir Putin says he wants both nations to engage in long- term, constructive dialogue. But in the same speech Putin was quick to remind the world that Russia continues to back the Syrian dictator, President Bashar al Assad, who has in the past called all Americans in Syria illegal invader forces.

PAUL: And this just adding to a long list of foreign policy challenges for President Trump as we head into 2018. North Korea's resolution, more nukes. The regime is vowing it will not back down from building its nuclear arsenal. This, of course, as U.S. officials predict another ballistic missile test sometime after New Year's Day.

BLACKWELL: Plus, President Trump is warning Iran the world is watching after many peaceful antigovernment protesters were hauled away for reportedly chanting harsh slogans. Iran is responding, releasing a strongly worded statement last hour, saying that President Trump is the main source of ill will toward Iran.

PAUL: Arwa Damon joins us live from Istanbul with reaction from Iran. What are you hearing from the statement, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iranian government is really not putting much value on the U.S. president's words, calling them interventionist and cheap. Effectively, the U.S. does not really have much of a moral leg to stand on. The statement goes on to say that the people of Iran give no value or credibility to such opportunistic expressions by the government or the person of Mr. Trump. American officials through their conduct have not earned a place from which they can express masked sentiments as sympathies for the aware and engaged people of Iran.

Now, that goes to a broader issue that America faces when it comes to its credibility across the entire region. That being said, the demonstrations that took place in Iran began on Thursday. They then really began spreading on Friday. People initially coming out expressing their grievances with the economic situation. Many had hoped that with the nuclear deal and easing of sanctions that was meant to come along with that the economy would be on the rise. Quite the contrary. Instead, they have been seeing and experiencing an increase in things like food and basic food supplies.

We've also been hearing some pretty harsh rhetoric directed right at the Iranian president Rouhani and also something that is not quite so common, some pretty strong words directed Ayatollah Khamenei. Now, the Iranian government has had and supported its own demonstrations that took place today. There have been detentions when it comes to the antigovernment camp, as Tehran says. Those demonstrations were without permits and, therefore, in its eyes illegal. It's also warning people against taking to the streets if they don't have the proper paperwork in hand.

Another key thing to point out, too, is that there is a growing frustration amongst the Iranian population when it comes to Iran's foreign policy versus its domestic policy. There's a sense that Iran, the government, is too focused on supporting its proxies, whether in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, to name a few, as opposed to really trying to focus on the welfare of its own nationals.

PAUL: Arwa Damon, thank you so much for walking us through what's happening there today.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles. He joins us live from West Palm Beach near where the president is vacationing, his resort there on Palm Beach island. Ryan, what's the White House response to the clashes in Iran and now this back and forth rhetorically between the governments?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point they've not responded to Iran's harsh criticism of the president's tweet from last night, but we should point out this is a bit of a departure from past administrations, where the president himself is speaking out and showing support for those protesters. Let's take a look at what he tweeted last night, this coming from the president's official Twitter feed. He said, quote, "Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime's corruption and its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people's right, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching, #Iranprotests."

And the president's statement comes after a statement from the State Department earlier in the day where they also expressed support for those protesters, saying that they have a right to demand basic human rights and also they should have the right to demand an end to corruption by their government. [10:05:11] This just adds to a long list of growing tensions between

the United States and Iran. The United States government, the Trump administration in particular has long believed that Iran has been meddling in the conflicts in both Yemen and Syria. And, of course, President Trump even before he was elected was very critical of the Iran nuclear deal, thought that the Obama administration made a mistake in that regard, and has even suggested that Iran has operated outside of the confines of that agreement and has suggested that the U.S. should perhaps pull out.

So this is not a surprise that the White House has taken this stance, but it is a bold one. It is one where they are clearly on the side of the protesters who have taken to the streets. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right, Ryan Nobles for us there in West Palm Beach, thank you very much. Joining us now, Daniel Lippman, reporter for "Politico" and coauthor of "Politico's" playbook, and Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic." Gentlemen, good morning to you. Ron, I will start with you with the question of why is the White House weighing in on these protests they are seeing in Iran? The White House doesn't weigh in on every protest they see, especially in some of these adversarial governments. Why this one?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First, real quick, Victor, note your map at the beginning of this segment where you highlighted North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia. You could add economic challenges with China. You could have that same map in the Barack Obama administration. It's a reminder that foreign policy problems are rarely solved. They are more often managed. The world is not the caucus of the House of Representatives. It's hard for a president to impose their will on it, and we tend to be dealing with these things in different variations for quite some time.

And Iran is, you know, certainly an expression of that. We have been struggling really since 1979 to figure out how to leverage, exert leverage on this new administration. So here you have the president being willing to use the moral authority of the United States against a regime that we oppose their geopolitical role. He's been much more hesitant about applying that same standard to those which we are allied. And in fact, he has rather kind of unreservedly put our chips on Saudi Arabia in what amounts to an undeclared regional civil war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Shia and Sunni struggle for influence.

But our position in Iran is always very complicated. Demonstrators do not want to be identified I'm sure in any way as advancing U.S. interests, and if there is one thing that could unite the country and does unite the country, it is rejecting the idea of any kind of U.S. military intervention, which some have offered as the alternative to continuing to enforce the nuclear deal.

BLACKWELL: So that's what I want to get to, Daniel. The reports are that several dozen of the protesters, several dozens of them, have been hauled away for reportedly chanting, quote, harsh slogans. If the U.S., if the White House is unhappy with how some of these protesters have been treated, is there any indication this will go beyond just a rhetorical admonishment of what they see?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, REPORTER, "POLITICO": I think Trump has his hands full with North Korea, and so he doesn't want to get in a new Middle Eastern war. Remember, he ran against the Iraq war. He doesn't like the U.S. intervening abroad. But he has to walk a fine line, also with the nuclear deal that he promised to rip up during his campaign. He faces several deadlines in January for whether to impose new sanctions or whether to let Congress do so.

And the Iranian protesters in the streets, they are usually pro American, and so it's kind of an interesting side note to see that they don't want Trump to rip up that Iran deal because that's opened up their country for new economic deals with Europe and trying to revitalize the moribund Iranian economy.

BLACKWELL: Let's stay with the issue of nuclear but move to North Korea. North Korea's state news agency saying that they will stay focused in 2018 on broadening its nuclear arsenal, aiming for that intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States, that nuclear warhead.

I want to go back to a tweet almost a year ago back from then- president-elect Donald Trump, and it was January 2nd of 2017. He tweeted "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen." Ron, North Korea is farther along that road than it was a year ago. This issue, this strategy of strategic pressure appears not to be as effective as the president wants, and we're hearing and seeing that frustration.

[10:10:00] BROWNSTEIN: That's right. I think it goes back to the point that I started with, that problems like North Korea more often are managed by successive administrations than they are solved by any one administration. You know, there is a reason that every president from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump has been dealing with this issue, and it's not because all of his predecessors were feckless and weak. It is because there is not necessarily a good solution at an acceptable price.

The president has expressed increasing frustration over the limits of Chinese either willingness or capacity to leverage change in North Korea. The military option that is held out more assertively by this administration than others remains beyond problematic in terms of the collateral damage that would be visited on South Korea and perhaps Japan. And although we are very reluctant to debate this, there may not be a set of diplomatic and/or military options at an acceptable cost that can stop them from developing the weapon, and we may be looking at a long-term situation of deterrence, which is what we lived through during the cold war.

BLACKWELL: Moving to a strategy of nonproliferation instead of trying to stop them from actually getting nuclear weapons that can reach the U.S.

Daniel, to you. One of the challenges in 2018 will be getting on the same page, reconciling what we heard from the president sporadically about -- we saw it through Twitter several months ago, that there's only one way to deal with North Korea, and what we read from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week in that "New York Times" op-ed which he wrote that the door to dialogue remains open for North Korea. The president and the secretary of state have to get on the same page, or at least the world has to believe that Rex Tillerson speaks for the president when he speaks about North Korea.

LIPPMAN: Yes, and that problem might be solved pretty soon in the next few months. Everyone in Washington is expecting that Rex Tillerson will depart. And so the hope is that a new secretary of state would be more on Trump's side in terms of having one message of dealing with North Korea and other foreign policy issues. So far there's no trust between the State Department and the White House. It's a pretty unprecedented situation. And so the hope is that any new secretary of state, maybe Mike Pompeo, whose actually birthday is today, maybe he's going to celebrate with a new job next year, and, you know, get to work with a unified, one-government position on dealing with North Korea.

BLACKWELL: All right, happy birthday, Mike Pompeo. Ron, to you.

BROWNSTEIN: A classic playbook moment.


BLACKWELL: Those little tidbits that we rely on. Ron, let me come to you with what we're seeing in this telegram, interestingly, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to President Trump, and hoping for pragmatic cooperation in 2018 with the U.S. Another challenge, we talked this morning about Syria as it relates to Putin, but one of the things that still has to be settled, has to be worked on moving into 2018, especially looking into the midterms, is Russian meddling. And we saw that op-ed this week that was co-authored by the former acting director of the CIA and former chair of House intelligence saying that Russia never stopped meddling. And as we go into the New Year, how does one reconcile the president's rhetoric about calling this Russia investigation and the Russian meddling a hoax and the flag that's being raised by former intelligence officials and those still in the government?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, the problem has been from the beginning, Victor, that the president has conflated any attempt to deal with the unequivocal evidence of Russian attempted meddling here and elsewhere in 21st century cyber warfare with an attack on the legitimacy of his own election. He's been unable to disentangle his personal interests, and for that frankly I think is personal ego from the national security threat that Russia poses in their willingness to stir up division and to try to put a cloud over our elections and again, as we have seen, the elections in other countries, as well.

You know, the reporting, the great reporting from "The Washington Post" and others has been that the Obama administration struggled, as well, with how to respond to this. Now you have the added cloud of, you know, the experts up and down the national security bureaucracy facing the reality that their boss, the president, simply doesn't want to acknowledge the whole threat to begin with. So I think it is extremely problematic and urgent for the people with the leverage, Republicans in Congress, to demand that whatever the president thinks about the investigation into the alleged collusion or the Russian role in 2016, that we need to protect ourselves against what I'm sure Vladimir Putin thinks is a pretty high return on investment in the meddling that he did and thus more likely to do it again in the future.

BLACKWELL: Ron Brownstein, Daniel Lippman, thank you both.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

[10:15:00] PAUL: Well, I spy some snowflakes.


PAUL: In New York, yes, I do. If you look closely enough, they are starting to come down, and it's going to be packed tomorrow night there in Times Square. Live look for you here, obviously. If you're planning to be there, bring your gloves, your hat, your scarf, your layers, bring it all.

BLACKWELL: Private heater if you have, I know you can't take it in, but whatever you can bring to keep yourself warm, do that. It's said to be one of the coldest on record, wind chill pushing temps below zero.

PAUL: Never good, never good. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar with us now. Not just the freezing cold is the problem in New York, because it's much more widespread than that, much more expansive, yes?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, yes. And you want to pay attention to that cold air in the Midwest because that's what's going to be moving into the northeast going into Sunday and Monday. So take a look. Over 70 million people under some type of wind chill advisory, watch, or warning at this moment.

The first wave of cold air moving through, the second wave pushing in Sunday, into Monday, and then we have another wave of cold air that will be pushing in as we get, say, Wednesday and Thursday of the upcoming week. And those are going to push pretty far south in terms of the overall temperatures that we expect to get. In fact, Monday morning, over 25 cities could potentially break some record lows.

Here's why this is important, OK. You naturally have a layer of heat just on the surface of your skin on the exterior of your body when you are outside. It helps to insulate you and keep you warm. When you have a strong wind out there, that wind blows away that layer of heat that sits on the exterior of your body. This makes it very difficult for you to understand how quickly your body loses internal temperature. And as much as just, say, two to four degrees of a drop in your body temperature is enough to trigger hypothermia.

Victor, Christi, the other thing I want to point out for a lot of Midwestern cities today and tomorrow, frostbite could set in as early as 10 to 15 minutes. That's the same amount of time it would take to walk your dog. So please be careful out there.

PAUL: Careful with the dogs at that point, too.

BLACKWELL: Yes, be careful with your pets, take them in.

So President Trump tweeted on Friday that the east could use some good old global warming. Here's the tweet, conflating, obviously, climate and weather. Please explain the difference for us.

CHINCHAR: Yes, because you have to understand there is a huge difference. We talked about this earlier. Think of it like this analogy. Weather is the outfit you are wearing today. You wore that based off what the weather was going to be just for today. Climate is your entire wardrobe. It deals with patterns, trends, and evolves over time. So there's a difference between the right-now weather and the long-term weather.

This is a map of North America right now. The blue indicates areas that are below average temperatures. The orange and red areas indicate above average. Yes, it's been really cold, but it's called global warming for a reason. We look at it on a global scale.

Take a look at this. This region of North America is the only region right now that is well below normal, and the other thing to put in perspective, Victor and Christi. We talk about the cold because it's affecting so many people right now, but we also broke over a dozen record, high temperatures yesterday across areas of the southwest.

PAUL: All righty, Allison Chinchar, thanks for the big picture.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, new developments following an online gaming prank that went terribly wrong. Now a man who had nothing to do with this is dead. We'll tell you what happened and why the family is outraged.


[10:21:40] PAUL: I want to share with you something we're just getting into CNN. Erica Garner, a prominent social justice activist who spearheaded protests against police brutality, has died this morning.

BLACKWELL: She had been in a coma after suffering a massive heart attack last week, left her with severe brain damage. She was 27 years old.

PAUL: Erica is the eldest daughter of Eric Garner. Remember he was killed in 2014 after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. That's a move that NYPD had banned. Garner was selling loose cigarettes at the time, but his death helped later spark the Black Lives Matter movement.

Erica's family just tweeted this from her official account, "When you report this, you remember she was human, mother, daughter, sister, aunt. Her heart was bigger than the world. It really, really was. She cared when most people wouldn't have. She was good, she only pursued right no matter what. No one gave her justice."

PAUL: Thoughts and prayers go to her family today.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's turn to this online gaming dispute between two gamers. It turned deadly after what's called swatting. This was a prank. Our affiliate KWCH is reporting Los Angeles police have made an arrest. If you've never heard of swatting, honestly I hadn't until this story happened. It's when someone makes a prank call about a bogus crime to get the SWAT team, to get police to go to someone's house.

PAUL: In this case a man in Los Angeles allegedly called police in Kansas and told dispatchers that he was there in Kansas, that he shot his father and was holding his mother and sibling hostage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just pointing the gun at them, making sure they stay in the closet, my mom and my little brother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, is there any way you can put the gun up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Are you guys sending someone over here, because I'm definitely not going to put it away?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I'm just going to go ahead and stay on the phone with you, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's fine. Until they get here, or?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as you need me to, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm thinking about -- I already poured gasoline all over the house. I might just set it on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, well, we don't need to do that, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a little bit I might.


BLACKWELL: Well, police showed up at the address that the suspect gave them. This was in Kansas. But when they got there, 28-year-old Andrew Finch came to the door. Police say he moved suddenly and an officer fired. Now, Finch had no weapon. Not only was he unarmed, he had nothing to do with the online gaming dispute.

PAUL: And now his family, obviously, is outraged. Reporter Angela Monroe from our affiliate KWCH talked to them. Here's more.


ANGELA MONROE, KWCH REPORTER: Andrew Finch's family is angry. He was shot by a Wichita police officer as they responded to a call on false information.

LISA FINCH, ANDREW FINCH'S MOTHER: They did not warn him. They did not say anything to him. He opened the door and they shot him.

MONROE: Andrew Finch's mother was in the house when her son was shot. We sat with her as she watched the conference and disagreed with parts of what they said.

FINCH: And I'm not letting go until I have justice.

[10:25:00] MONROE: Lisa Finch says her son was never given a chance before police shot him.

FINCH: This is his blood. They were given the story that there were hostages being held here and people were in here dead.

MONROE: It was a swatting call, a false call meant to bring SWAT to a scene, all because of a video game dispute that had nothing to do with Finch. The family has a message for whoever made that call, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a murder, an accomplice, and you killed a wonderful man. This whole family has lost a wonderful person because of your selfish --

MONROE: Finch had two young children, and we're told he was all about his family.

JEROME FINCH, ANDREW FINCH'S BROTHER: I would like them to remember that he was very loyal. He was faithful. And he was caring.

MONROE: The Finch family continues to want answers after the unarmed man was shot by police on a bogus call.


PAUL: New this morning, police also have released the names of two men that were arrested in connection with that horrific quadruple homicide in upstate New York. James White and Justin Mann now are scheduled to be arraigned this morning after four people, including two children, were found dead in a basement apartment in Troy earlier this week. More details about the suspects' charges are expected later today, and that investigation is ongoing.

Well, a family is demanding answers after their son was allegedly beaten by a police officer in Troy, Alabama. I just want to give you a heads-up here, the images here are very disturbing, so I don't want you to be caught off guard.

BLACKWELL: The police say they used reasonable and necessary force. Look at this. This is after 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson resisted arrest, they say, and reached for his waist band. Now, Wilkerson's parents say he was so badly disfigured they barely recognized him. Now they want to see the police body cam and the dash cam footage of the arrest.

PAUL: CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in Troy with more. What are you learning this hour? Have you been able to talk to the family? DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, I did

speak with the family. You know, obviously, their first concern is making sure that Ulysses heals from this, that he gets better. He's home from the hospital, he will likely have surgery next week on his eye.

But then they have a lot of questions here. There isn't much information from the very beginning. They don't really know why police stopped him in the first place the night of December 23rd. All that's been said is that he was walking, came out from behind a closed building in downtown troy, and when police attempted to stop him, he ran. But they don't really know why they were trying to stop him or talk to him. They don't know much about the charges. This 17-year- old boy is facing two misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstruction, and the family says the police haven't really told them anything except a phone call to let them know he was in the hospital.


ANGELA WILLIAMS, MOTHER OF ULYSSES WILKERSON: As a mother, I was shocked, horrified, and devastated to see my son this way, a victim of police brutality. While I'm hopeful that the state bureau investigation will uncover the truth, I still call on the community to take a stand. We will not settle until we know the truth behind the brutal beating of my dear son and until these police officers are held accountable for their crimes.


GALLAGHER: Now, the police may have initially said it was reasonable and necessary force, but the chief here did ask the state bureau of investigations to look into the use of force, so that is now in the state's hands. There is body cam video, according to the district attorney, but he has not viewed it yet, and we don't know when we'll get a chance to see it.

In about an hour and a half right where I'm standing people in the community are going to gather for a peaceful protest to let the police department know they want some answers in this particular case. They want to know what happened, and they would like the video released. Christi, Victor?

PAUL: Dianne Gallagher, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A new study shows that more and more pregnant women are using marijuana in California.

PAUL: On Monday it will be even more readily available there because it becomes legal to use and sell pot recreationally. We're going to talk to a doctor about what that means for pregnant women when we come back.


[10:33:25] BLACKWELL: The New Year is an especially big deal in California because marijuana, recreational pot sales, become legal in the nation's most populous state. That's on Monday. Adults, we're talking 21 and up, will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and they may have up to six plants at their home.

PAUL: And listen to this, according to "The Washington Post," more pregnant women who live in northern California have been testing positive for marijuana. "The Post" cites a study from the American Medical Association which saw the number of pregnant pot users climb between 2009 and 2016. So, Dr. Sujatha Reddy is with us now, an obstetrician gynecologist. And this was something I've spoken to you on a lot of different subjects. This was not one I thought we would be discussing. But let's clear something up here. Cigarettes contain nicotine. We know, the CDC asserts that it can cause birth defects, premature births, it can interfere with a healthy placenta. There's no nicotine in marijuana, so is it really dangerous?

DR. SUJATHA REDDY, OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST, PREMIER CARE FOR WOMEN: You know, again, the same CDC tells us that the major chemical in marijuana, the THC, can cross the placenta from the mom's blood and get to the baby, and because of that they say there have been cases of low birth weights associated with smoking marijuana in pregnancy, or eating it, for that matter, however you ingest, and also developmental delays. So while there is no nicotine, you are correct, the CDC, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all recommend women that are pregnant, breastfeeding, or thinking of becoming pregnant, not eat or smoke or use any kind of marijuana in any way.

[10:35:06] PAUL: Are you confident with the studies that have been done about this, or are we kind of entering a new era here?

REDDY: You know, we have limited data. That's a great question, but what pregnant woman is going to subject their baby to the chemicals in marijuana just to do the research? We just don't have enough information. But what we have really is telling us right now this is not a good idea.

And I think we're seeing this because women are using marijuana before they become pregnant because it is legal, and because it's legal they think this is probably OK, and the answer is it is not. We know tobacco is legal, alcohol is legal, and we say do not do those two things while pregnant, so I think this is in the same category.

PAUL: Is the primary enticement to use it morning sickness? Because I had read that nausea is one of the reasons people were, they were trying to combat that.

REDDY: Correct, I've heard that, as well, anxiety of pregnancy, morning sickness of pregnancy. The good news here is I would not suggest marijuana be used for that treatment because we have other treatments, herbal remedies, lifestyle modifications, so we have prescription medications that have been proven safe that are effective at alleviating morning sickness and pregnancy, so it's not like you should reach for marijuana as your first go to because we know it's not safe and we have other treatments. So I think that's a little bit of a bad argument.

PAUL: So if somebody comes to you and says, you know what, this is what I do, now I'm pregnant, do I really have to stop, with the limited amount of research that we have, what do you tell them?

REDDY: I tell them categorically do not use marijuana while you're pregnant. I have pregnant women come to me when they're pregnant asking things like can I get my nails done, can I get my hair colored? Pregnant women want to do always what's the best, safest thing for your child, and in this case that is not using marijuana.

PAUL: So what is your reaction to that study or to "The Post" report that more women are doing this, and that they seem to be younger? I believe it was 24 and younger was the category by which they were using marijuana while they were pregnant.

REDDY: Yes, I think we're seeing this in a generation of people who have been brought up thinking that marijuana is OK to use, and there are a lot of things that are OK for adults to use that are not OK for pregnant, you know, women to use. They are not OK for children. You're not going to give your child alcohol, but you may have a drink every now and then as an adult.

But I think this younger group of women is thinking that this is all right, it's a natural product, it's a natural remedy. But again, nicotine, tobacco, is a natural product, as well, and we know that is harmful to your health in a myriad of ways. I think this is the same thing, but I think that's why we're seeing it in younger people. They probably are the ones who were brought up using marijuana recreationally because it is legal in some states. And now they just are taking that to their pregnancy, and I think we have to let them know as we're trying to do right now that it is not a good idea.

PAUL: And real quickly, just to clarify, doesn't matter whether you're smoking it or getting it in some other fashion, is that right?

REDDY: Correct. Whether you're eating it or smoking it, it is not a good idea. But there are chemicals in the smoke so even being around marijuana smoke is not safe for you and your baby.

PAUL: Good to point out. Thank you so much, Dr. Reddy.

REDDY: Thank you.

PAUL: Glad to have you here. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Thank you both.

Serena Williams back on the court this morning. I'm looking forward to it. Andy Scholes here with more.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor. This is Serena's first match since taking nearly all of 2017 off to have her first child. We'll show you how she did and hear what she thought about it coming up next.


[10:42:02] BLACKWELL: She took almost all of 2017 off to have her first child. PAUL: And she should.

BLACKWELL: Hey, I'm just pointing out a fact. I'm not saying it was a bad thing.


PAUL: Just kidding you.

BLACKWELL: But this morning Serena Williams made her return to tennis.

PAUL: Andy Scholes is here with this morning's Bleacher Report. How'd she do?

SCHOLES: You know what, pretty good, but as expected after taking that amount of time off from the game of tennis, a little rusty after giving birth, especially to her first daughter roughly just, what, three months ago? She was playing French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi this morning. This is her first match in nearly a year, and after dropping the first set, Serena, she came back and she won the second set. The two then did play a tie breaker, which Serena lost, but the result didn't really matter here. This was a tune-up for Serena to get ready to play in the Australian Open in two weeks. After the match Serena talked about having to flip the switch from mom back to world class tennis player.


SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER: Middle of the match, I looked over and I was like is Olympia OK? Because usually I'm always with her. So I don't know how I'm going to be able to manage that, but maybe I'll just always look over in the middle of a Grand Slam and be like, is Olympia OK? But when she gets older, she'll be able to actually come out to the matches.


SCHOLES: A much different Serena there in the post-match press conference.

The best non-playoff game this year, fifth ranked Ohio State taking on eight ranked USC in the Cotton Bowl. This is Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold's last game before he's expected to declare for the NFL draft, and it was a rough game for him. The Buckeyes all over him, sacking him eight times in this game.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, meanwhile, he had a nice farewell game. He ran for two touchdowns, including a 28 yarder, as the Buckeyes won the Cotton Bowl rather easily, 24-7 the final there.

It has not been a good week for NBA officials. First LeBron was not happy after that big Christmas Day showdown with the warriors, then James Harden criticized the refs after his game with the Celtics. Now the Thunder have a legit beef with the officiating. They were tied at the buzzer, closing seconds last night. Giannis Antetokounmpo gets the ball, goes baseline and scores. But if you watch the replay, he clearly steps out of bounds. The official was right there standing above it, didn't call it out of bounds. The Thunder players and Coach Bill Donovan all wanted the play to be reviewed, but because there was no whistle or stoppage in play they couldn't review it. The Bucks just steal a win in Oklahoma City 97-95.

Guys, throughout the entire week, NBA fans have been left saying why can we review certain things but not others when it would clearly change the outcome of the game? This happened in the Christmas Day game with LeBron, like I said, the Rockets game, and now this. I think the NBA is going to do a complete overhaul of the review system pretty soon.

PAUL: You can't catch everything.

BLACKWELL: That's the NBA what-about-ism. Well, what about that? What about it? Andy Scholes, thank you.

PAUL: So, despite closing lower on Friday, Wall Street capped one of its best years in an awful long time. Not all the big business stories were cause to celebrate, though.

[10:45:04] BLACKWELL: A look at the top money stories of 2017.


PAUL: What a strong year for U.S. stocks. Even though they closed lower yesterday, Wall Street had its best year since 2013.

BLACKWELL: Stocks have seen a 25 percent bump since President Trump took office, but you see here this is the run over the last eight or nine years. CNN's Christine Romans and Richard Quest have the top seven money stories of 2017.




QUEST: CEOs revolt.

ROMANS: And investors cheer.

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

ROMANS: Number seven, brick and mortars retail apocalypse. A record 6,700 locations shuttered in 2017, a stunning list of bankruptcies. More than 70,000 retail jobs lost, but online sales are soaring. Wal- Mart'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.

[10:50:03] 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 health care 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 and A next year.

ROMANS: Number five, the Bitcoin craze. The virtual currency started the year below $1,000, then a speculative frenzy took Bitcoin from $6,000 to $16,000 in less than a month. Driving it all, an expectation that this speculative investment will someday be mainstream. And the rally sparking a get rich quick fever in retail investors. So is Bitcoin a bubble in 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, have been exposed. Key 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 council until the president had no choice but to disband them altogether.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just in, two of the presidents' CEO groups for jobs now totally gone, disbanding.

ROMANS: It was a 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, but it's billed as a middle-class tax cut.

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

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

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The middle class are the biggest winners in the Senate 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 a trillion dollars added to the deficit. Republicans insist tax cuts will ignite explosive economic growth, benefiting everyone.

RYAN: The conference report is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump administration and 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 20,000. It's a historic moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've gone right through 20,000, 21,000, 22,000, just another day at work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 about it.

[10:55:00] 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 overdue for a serious pullback. So the question now, will it happen in 2018 or will the bulls continue to run?


PAUL: Speaking of 2018, I spy some snow. Live from Times Square there right now, and in just a little while Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen are going to be hosting CNN's New Year's Eve special starting tomorrow, 8:00 p.m. eastern. The bleep machine will be ready, I'm sure.

BLACKWELL: And the margarita machine, too.

PAUL: Absolutely. Thank you so much for watching and hope you make some good memories this weekend.

BLACKWELL: Much more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom. We turn it over to our colleague Boris Sanchez in for Fredricka Whitfield after a break.