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Puerto Ricans Turn To Their Faith For Hope In 2018; At Least 12 Killed In Anti-Government Protest In Iran; Trump Threatens To Cut All U.S. Aid To Pakistan. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, amid sometimes fiery protests across Iran, President Rouhani describes the unrest as nothing, but calls for calm nonetheless.

Meantime, U.S. diplomacy back at work on Twitter in 2018. The president's first tweet of the year slams Pakistan as a terrorist safe haven.

And it could be the greatest single step to reducing elephant poaching. We are live in China where a new plan is going into action. Hello, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

Iran could be facing another day of unrest; anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in major cities for the past five days now. A senior Iranian security official, though, has accused the U.S., the U.K., and Saudi Arabia, of inciting the demonstrations via social media, and he insists calm will return in just a few days.




VAUSE: These images are from Western Iran on Monday. The crowd is chanting "death to Khomeini". That would be the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's Supreme Leader. Probably defiance like that, in the face of the supreme leader, is stunning and rare. Many are angry, not just at the weak economy in Iran, but also high unemployment, especially among young people. There's also anger at what's seen as widespread corruption. During a meeting with lawmakers on Monday, Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, conceded the protesters have some genuine concerns.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): In my opinion, what happened within the past few days on the surface, it looked like a threat, but we need to turn it into an opportunity. We should see what the problem is.


VAUSE: Well, President Rouhani has said Iranians are free to protest. Iran's intelligence ministry says, so-called provocateurs will be targeted. Ramin Mostaghim is the Tehran Correspondent for the L.A. Times. He joins us now from Tehran. Rahim, thank you for being with us. At this point, watching though about a possible sixth day of protest, are there protests already underway? Any word on how widespread these demonstrations could actually be, if at all?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, TEHRAN CORRESPONDENT FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: So far, we can say that in the remote areas, in the border areas, and also in the south walls, Izeh, and many cities, provincial towns. Still, there is tension and confrontations between the long and but maybe (INAUDIBLE) young with the anti-riot police and security agents. I can say the tension is high.

JOHN: OK. We are also -- we're hearing from Britain's Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson; he issued a statement on Facebook in the past few hours, this is part of what it says: "We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising, and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this. We also believe that people should be able to have freedom of expression and to demonstrate peacefully within the law." You know, Rahim, is it safe to say that right now, President Rouhani seems to agree with the protesters, that, yes, maybe they do have a point, they should be listened to, but on the other hand, it's the security chiefs who are not prepared to allow these protests to take place at all?

MOSTAGHIM: Actually, from the government's angle, the protests should be peaceful and they are entitled to take to the streets. But at the same time, they ask the protesters to take distance from the people that (INAUDIBLE) Saudi Arabia, or U.K. or America, they just want to categorize and divide the protester between good protesters and innocent protesters are venting out their anger against unemployment, hardship, and also soaring prices, with what they call and categorize as this foreign countries and enemies.

[01:05:10] VAUSE: You know, we've also heard from the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; he's spoken publicly about the protest. He's denying any Israeli involvement, any Israeli incitement. And then, he added this; listen to Benjamin Netanyahu.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Iran's cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people.


VAUSE: I'm not too sure how happy Iranians will be, you know, to hear that message from the Israeli prime minister. But, you know, to a degree, how right is he? How unhappy are Iranians with the regime bankrolling Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, just to give two examples? How unhappy are they with a lack of services in their own country?

MOSTAGHIM: Personally, let me give you one official figure announced by the police in Tehran. It says that the 90 percent of the protesters, 90 percent of the protesters, are under 25 years of age. It means there are the people who are not entitled, eligible, to vote in the last presidential election in 2009. (INAUDIBLE) and they are venting out their frustrations. So, they don't care about anything of their own future -- seemed feasible. (INAUDIBLE) they don't about, even they go talk about (INAUDIBLE) so-called Green Movement, on their house. They just want to have their own agenda that is a job, (INAUDIBLE), and also, so called social freedoms. These are young, 90 percent, according to police, 90 percent of them are under 25. So, they have nothing to do with politics, foreign policy.

VAUSE: Just that number alone, Rahim, it seems to indicate that the protests that we're seeing now, not just in Tehran, but in major cities across the country, are very different in their makeup, in their ages, to the 2009 election -- 2009 protests, rather, which were in response to the disputed presidential election. So, is that where you put the difference? Because you've seen both now. You were there for 2009, and you're now witnessing these protests.

MOSTAGHIM: Yes. Actually, I've talked with many activists who were involved in 2009. They say we are -- we are small fish; it's fishy for them. They say we don't want to participate. So, it's absolutely different makeup, the makeup of the 2009 participants in the unrest. There are new generations with new agenda, which is not clear for themselves. They are young people who are agitated for many reasons. They can be agitated for fighting for something else.

These are absolutely different makeup with 2009 participant, and 2009 participants are taking distance from them, and are trying to say that they are not from us, we are not from them, they are different, and they are not media-class sitting social freedom for democracy, they are anti-democracy. That's what the 2009 activists say now. But these young people don't care about it. They are a handful, but agile, detriment, and very mobile.

VAUSE: Ramin, we'll leave it there, but it's good to talk with you. I'm sure we'll check in with you as the story develops in the coming hours and the coming days. Ramin Mostaghim, the Tehran Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Tehran for us, thanks so much.

MOSTAGHIM: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, U.S. President Donald Trump is back at the White House after spending a few days at his resort in Mar-a-Lago. And his Twitter account is busy; it's focused on world affairs. Donald Trump has already weighed in the situation in Iran. He's also put out another tweet on Monday, which caught a lot of people off guard. CNN's Abbey Philip has our report.


wrapped up his ten-day Christmas vacation here in South Florida, where he spent most of that time on his golf course. And last night, celebrating New Year's Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort with guests and supporters, telling them a little bit of his hopefulness for 2018. He believes is going to be a big year for his presidential agenda. Take a listen.

[01:10:14] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a great 2018. It going to be something very, very special. It's all kicking in. Everybody's going to love what's happening with our country because we're taking this big beautiful ship, and we're slowly turning it around. I'd like to do it faster.

PHILIP: The president also started New Year's Day with a series of tweets about some foreign policy issues, tweeting about those protests in the streets of Iran, and offering some support to the protesters who've been out there for several days now. He wrote, "Iran is failing at every level, despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama administration. The great people of Iran have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and freedom, along with human rights. The wealth of Iran is being looted. Time for change." In all caps.

On another matter, he talked a little bit also about Pakistan, raising the issue of U.S. Aid to that country, and suggesting that Pakistan had simply not done enough to combat terror. He wrote, "The United States is foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they've given us nothing but lies and deceit. Thinking of our leaders as fools. They've given safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan. With little help. No more." Now, the White House is saying this afternoon that the president is still evaluating Pakistan's cooperation on terror issues and that they're going to continue to withhold about $255 billion that's been appropriated as foreign aid to Pakistan until further notice.


VAUSE: OK. CNN's Abbey Philips reporting there. And Pakistan has now summoned the U.S. ambassador in response to President Trump's tweet. CNN Producer, Sophia Saifi joins us now from Islamabad. So, Sophia, we are still waiting, I guess, for this official government response from Islamabad. But many officials in Pakistan, they've been out there, they made it very much known that they are not happy with President Trump.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Yes. You know, it's just a regurgitation of the kind of state of affairs that's existing in Pakistan ever since President Trump announced his Afghanistan policy back in August. There's been a constant heating up of words, you know, back and forth between military officials and U.S. officials, and the Pakistani political establishment.

Now, just after the tweet yesterday, just late last night, even Pakistan's foreign minister sent out a tweet, saying that they will be putting together a statement, which will separate fact from fiction. Khawaja Asif, the Foreign Minister, then appeared to local T.V. last night in which he made statements criticizing President Trump's tweet, saying that if it comes to the president saying that Pakistan -- that there will be no more patience, that Pakistan has already said that they will do no more.

He's also said that when it comes to aid given to Pakistan, all of that aid is accountable, and that it can be checked with Pakistan, and that they're going to answer that as well. Now, if you look at it on a broader range, when it comes to the wider region here in South Asia, you've got Afghanistan, and, of course, this -- of words is all to do with the Haqqani network and what's happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.

You've got President Karzai, the Former President of Afghanistan, saying that Trump's tweet is a vindication of what he's been saying for a while, that this war cannot be fought by bombing the villages of Afghanistan, but has to be seen in the other sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan. And those sanctuaries, according to both Afghanistan and the United States, happened to be in Pakistan. John.

VAUSE: OK. Sophia, thank you for the update there from Islamabad. We appreciate it.

Well, take a short break here NEWSROOM L.A. We come back, President Donald Trump returns to Washington after his Mar-a-Lago escape. He says, the year ahead will be fantastic, but will it?



LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He says the new year is just another year in which he's waiting for someone to come and help him.


[01:14:15] VAUSE: No roof, no electricity, why Puerto Ricans hit hard by Hurricane Maria are turning to a higher power?


VAUSE: Well, it was just ten nights at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and now the U.S. President has returned to Washington. And fresh off his tax reform victory, he's upbeat about his administration going into this midterm election year.

Jessica Levinson joins us now here in Los Angeles, she Professor of Law and Governance at Loyola Law School. Jessica, good to see you. We'll get to Donald Trump in the midterms in a moment, but on the issue of, like, internationally and diplomatically, right now it seems Iran is watching how the U.S. president deals with North Korea.

The North Koreans also watching out. He deals with the Iranians, and this seems like something's going to happen, and it could all actually work out incredibly well, or it could all be a catastrophic failure. And there doesn't seem to be any middle ground here at the moment, is that, sort of, a fair assessment?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW AND GOVERNANCE PROFESSOR AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I think when you're talking about nuclear powers and you're talking about a president who has very little foreign policy experience, and you're talking about a president who doesn't seem to have a guiding principle, then yes, it could be absolutely catastrophic. And I think that the issue that a lot of people are looking at in terms of what Iran is looking at North Korea, and North Korea is looking Iran.

President Trump basically speaks very loudly and carries a very little stick, and the question people are trying to size up: is there something that we can see from how he treats one country? And you know, can we see will he make good on his kind of very brash rhetoric, or is he really just the Twitter in chief where he's going to say a lot but there's actually nothing really behind it.

VAUSE: Nothing to back it up. So, maybe we came up to crunch time, perhaps, in all of this. OK. Well the U.S. President predicted that 2018 would be a fantastic year, but he also welcomed in the new year with some combative words as well. Listen to this.


TRUMP: We have some pretty good enemies out there, but step by step, they're being defeated. They're some bad people. Bad people. But that's OK. Someday, maybe, they'll love us.


VAUSE: You know, that is typical Donald Trump, you know. He's tweeted out a very similar message year after year, when he wasn't president when he was, you know, a candidate, or a real estate developer. You know, and while it's typical Donald Trump, it also seems to indicate to me that 2018 is going to be a lot like 2017 in terms of the president's style, his tweets, the controversies, you know, the culture wars that we're going to have; not much is going to change by the way the president does business.

LEVINSON: You know, I feel like we've seen this story before. So, when President Trump first came out as Candidate Trump, everybody said, well, he's not going to be the reality star that we used to see. So, he's going to grow into the role of being a presidential candidate.


LEVINSON: That he was exactly who he was. Then, when candidate Trump became Nominee Trump -- and he actually won the Republican nomination -- and it was just him versus Hillary Clinton, people said, this is a really solemn moment, he's going to become serious, and he's going to become more nuanced, and complex.


LEVINSON: That didn't happen. And then people said, well, you know, once he actually takes that oath of office, we're going to see a different person. Let's finally believe that President Trump is exactly who he's been since before he became a candidate, since he was a candidate since he was a nominee. So, this is going to be more of the same, because I think that he is physically and mentally incapable of being anyone other than who he is. And we're going to see more of this brash, strongman rhetoric.

VAUSE: Always emboldened by the fact that he actually has, you know, he has this tax victory under his belt, and he's looking to get, you know, infrastructure on the table.

[01:20:12] LEVINSON: Well, I think that's right. So, now what he can point to is a specific legislative victory; and that's what's been missing from the Trump administration. So, they tried to repeal health care. That didn't work. And then, they tried to overhaul immigration, and that didn't work. And now, this tax bill is really a sea change for Americans that we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax bill. So, I think in many ways, he's emboldened but that doesn't mean that there's anything coming before the midterms. Most of the political oxygen is completely sucked up by the midterm elections starting from May.

VAUSE: Yes. Last year, there was a reporter in the Washington Post, they took a close look at Iowa, what could be the start of a democrat comeback. Iowa was at the epicenter of a Republican wave -- not just in 2016, but at 2014. A state with record low on unemployment, strong economy. But Donald Trump gets now the credit. This is part of the reporting: "The discrepancy between the rosy economic picture and the public's distaste to Trump in Iowa has confounded both parties and complicated one of the major political stories of the decade. The Republican rocked through the Midwest. Why Iowa has turned against Trump? And Republicans is a mystery that both parties are eager to figure out ahead of the 2018 midterms, looking to understand whether aberration or a sign of a greater political trend. OK. So, how do you see this trend or aberration?

LEVINSON: So, this is everybody's favorite game, starting January 1st on, which is let's just get out the tea leaves because that's going to tell us almost as much as what's happening in Ohio.

VAUSE: Just like spring collaboration.

LEVINSON: Yes, and I'll get my tarot cards out. But, what's happening in Iowa is something that we need to look at with respect to. I actually think that -- the thing that's interesting is that the economy is doing so well, unemployment is so low, but it's not directly translating into support for those in power. But there was a few polls that came out a couple weeks ago, and they actually indicated that there may be something a little deeper going on, which is that there's just huge turn-off to politics in general, and it's happening not just for Republicans, but also for Democrats, where what you would expect is to see Democrats may be a bit more energized and may be turned off by President Trump -- or excuse me, kind of turned off by President Trump and excited about their candidates.

VAUSE: Right. LEVINSON: In fact, what's happening is that people kind of across the board are saying, I'm actually more turned off by politics than I was with respect to the 2016 election.

VAUSE: Right.

LEVINSON: So, you know, in terms of a trend, if the trend is political apathy and anger, that's not something either party is really going to want to see as we go into the 2018 elections.

VAUSE: It is interesting. I often wonder if that 30 percent Donald Trump has is because of the economy. And if the economy was terrible, if it would be below, you know, below 10, anyway, but that's for another time. Jesse, good to see you. Thank you.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the new year brings some old challenges for the Puerto Ricans struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Roughly 45 percent of the island remains without power. And as CNN's Leila Santiago reports, many who feel forgotten by Washington are turning to their faith for hope.


SANTIAGO: Even in the holiest of places, where prayers for 2018 are sent to a higher power, it's hard to escape the realities of life after Maria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problems, the needs, the sorrows, the hopes.

SANTIAGO: Father Colacho sees it every day in the streets he's walked for 20 years in the community that has relied on his guidance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They come to church to charge their heart, or to charge the cell phones.

SANTIAGO: Before math, on New Year's Eve, Jorge plugs in his phone, a tablet, and a lamp that will get him through another lamp in the place he's called home for decades. Now...


SANTIAGO: So, no power, no water, no roof? Much progress has been made here in San Juan, the capital, the tourist areas, even the financial district, moving forward right now. But in its shadow, Cantera, it is an area where people feel forgotten, want more help, still no power. And for 2018, high hopes can be hard to find.


SANTIAGO: He says the new year is just another year in which he's waiting for someone to come and help him.

Jorge doesn't expect help anytime soon. He says, FEMA told him, he doesn't qualify for a temporary roof, his home is too damaged. I'm asking him when it rains here, they get wet. It's that simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep fighting. Keep trying. Start again. We're with you. You are not alone.

SANTIAGO: Words of comfort the Father Colacho knows will only go so far for Jorge and Cantera. What will new year's look like here?

[01:25:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New year? They say new life. It's not a new life. It's a new fight.

SANTIAGO: And so here, where they've made the town of Bethlehem look like their own, blue tarps and all, they pray. Pray for the miracles they believe in, pray for the strength to rebuild in the new year. Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


VAUSE: Staying in the U.S., the new year marked the first day of a new market for legal, recreational marijuana. California has now regulated the sale of cannabis, and as Miguel Marquez reports, there's big money in taking 420 mainstream.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The brave new world of legal recreational marijuana in California is underway. What changes here from Colorado and Washington State, is the size of the industry. Altogether, the legal industry across the country is about a billion dollars now. It will be in the $7 billion range by the time California's done. And the black market here in California, if you add that in, it's about 20 to $30 billion. So, just an enormous market.

We're in San Jose because it's only a handful of recreational sellers open today and we're at this particular place, Buddy's Cannabis, for one reason. This guy has the very first license for medicinal and adult-use marijuana, license: 0000001. And it's made at the behest of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, that's an actual state department with the California government. It is a brand-new day. So how much can you actually buy? It depends on whether you are buying recreationally, or whether you are buying medicinally. Pardon me, so excuse me.

If you're buying recreationally, you can buy up to an ounce. Each of those is a half-ounce each. Each of those buds in there are for this particular brand, which is homemade cherry pie. That would probably cost you around $35, just for that little one. Marijuana running anywhere from 130 bucks for a half-ounce to up to 250, 260 for the better stuff. If you're buying medicinally, you can buy this much. This is a half-pound of marijuana, in these containers. It's a much greater amount you can buy. Taxes are also different here. The marijuana in the state will be taxed up to 45 percent. If you're buying recreationally, you get a break. If you are buying medicinally, you have your medical card. I want to speak to Matt Lucero, who is the owner of Buddy's Cannabis. MATT LUCERO, OWNER, BUDDY'S CANNABIS: Yes, sir.

MARQUEZ: How busy is it today?

LUCERO: It is probably our busiest day in our seven-year history.

MARQUEZ: You already see that?

LUCERO: Yes, absolutely. I'm looking around. We have folks outside. Every chair in the building is filled right now.

MARQUEZ: You've been planning for this for some time. You were a corporate lawyer that went into the marijuana business. You've been planning for this like you would at a corporate, how much more marijuana did you bring in to the system? How much are you expecting business to improve?

LUCERO: We're expecting business, I would say conservatively, about a 30 percent bump in sales just overnight. It looks -- looking around this room, more like 50 to 60 percent. And as far as the amount of cannabis, we had been selling about 300 pounds per month. We just accumulated about another quarter-million-dollars-worth in anticipation of this huge rush. So, we've got plenty of product.

MARQUEZ: The bottom line is that legal marijuana is going to change the landscape here. In certain towns you can do everything from -- you'll be able to go to restaurants and to different businesses where you can consume on site; other towns aren't allowing it all; some towns are saying, you can only deliver. The wild west of California is finally coming into the legal world.


VAUSE: Miguel Marquez there reporting. And California is now the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize recreational marijuana use. 18 other states allow the use of pot for medicinal purposes only. Some states allow only the sale of CBD, which a non-psycho active cannabis extract. In most states, pot is not legal and it's important to know that cannabis is still illegal under U.S. Federal Law. But this is how prohibition ended and alcohol became legal, state by state.

[01:29:42] Still to come, President Trump's first tweet of the year is a scathing rebuke of Pakistan; a reality check on the president's tweet is next. Also, ahead, how China is trying to end its significant role in the ivory trade.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. At least 12 people have been killed in the anti-government protests in Iran. It's the biggest challenge to the Iranian government since mass demonstrations nine years ago. Iran's president says the country does have problems which should be addressed, but an Iranian official claims the U.S., U.K. and Saudi Arabia are using social media to incite the protests.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he wants swift measures to ensure North Korea, can take part in the 2018 winter games. His gesture comes after a new year's address from Kim Jong-un. The North Korean Leader offered to hold talks with South Korea about sending a delegation to the PyeongChang Games. South Korea's Unification Minister has proposed January 9th as a date for talks.

The U.S. is refusing to release $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, claiming the country is not doing enough to fight terrorism. President Trump wrote on Twitter, the U.S. has given Pakistan billions in aid only to get lies and deceit in return. Pakistan has summoned the U.S. Ambassador over that tweet (INAUDIBLE). Steve Erlanger is the Chief Diplomatic Correspondent for the New York Times. He is with us via Skype from Brussels. Steve, good to see you.


VAUSE: Happy New Year! I'm sick so I'm glad you're with us. Stay with us. I got the flu. OK. On this issue with Pakistan and Donald Trump, would this be a good moment to say, Mr. President, congratulations, and welcome to the real world of dealing with Pakistan? You know, for decades, this relationship has been difficult. Every American President has had problems with this relationship.

ERLANGER: Well, you and I both know it is intensely complicated and it has to do with relations with India, relations with Afghanistan, relations with Iran. It's no mistake that Richard Holbrooke, the late Richard Holbrooke wanted to put all of them together into one bureau at the State Department, and he was told not to do that. So AFPAC became his job. Pakistan has always followed its own interests in Afghanistan. It has co-religionists, it has ethnic groups that travel across the border. It has never really believed that the United States is going to stay in Afghanistan and it has always worked, as I said, to protect its interests. Now, sometimes it has done that very cynically, and the Pakistani military has always been much more important in Pakistani policy toward Afghanistan, and sometimes toward the United States than any elected government.

And there is no question on a particular group of people that the United States considers terrorists, the Haqqani clan that Pakistan has had very close ties with. So it is always been a complicated relationship, a very frustrating relationship. But the United States, as long as it's going to be in Afghanistan, it needs Pakistan. It's a bordering country, it needs Pakistan's intelligence, which whatever Pakistan chooses to give, it needs transit, and it needs all kinds of support. So complicated, you know, the whole Presidency of Donald Trump has been, to some degree, a confrontation with reality against these fixed ideas he's always had in his head. He clearly believes that the U.S. is being messed about by all of its allies, and with Pakistan, there are reasons to think that's true, at least a good part of the time. But --

[01:36:14] VAUSE: Within different parts of the Pakistani government too. I mean, the whole thing is stove piped and you know, works independently of the other part in many occasions. But back in October, President Trump had nothing but praise for Pakistan. He was -- it was around the same time -- or it was part of Pakistan's role, though, in the release of an American-Canadian family which has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for a number of years. Listen to the President. This is in October.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I want to thank the Pakistani government, and I want to thank Pakistan. They worked very hard on this, and I believe they're starting to respect the United States again.


VAUSE: You know, he believes that the Pakistani government is respecting the United States again. He was praising them. It's a dubious you know, analysis, but you know, it's a 180 to what we're hearing now, calling their leaders deceitful liars. So what's the impact of this you know, inconsistency in terms of the U.S.-Pakistan policy?

ERLANGER: Well, part of the problem is the tweets, right? The tweets don't always reflect the policy. Though this clearly was an indication that this aid which was -- had been blocked for some time, was not going to be delivered. Now it's only a small portion of American aid to Pakistan, but it's an important message. I mean, Trump is a negotiator, and he believes sometimes you flatter people, as people often flatter him. And sometimes you try to hit them over the head. And in the end, you want them to take you seriously. And so I think this is really true. Now, did Pakistan ever not take the United States seriously? Well, that's probably not true. But there have been times where Pakistan has worked around the United States to get what it wants. Just think of the Osama bin Laden case where Osama bin Laden was, you know, had a house very close to a Pakistani military academy, and the Pakistanis claim they didn't even know he was there, which no one really believes.

So I mean, they've always followed their own interests, but they have also been helpful. The problem I think that really annoyed the Trump people was that not very long ago, the Pakistani let out of jail someone that the United States felt had, you know, belong, in jail, who had -- who had strong Americanized terrorist ties and that was a source -- the most recent source of anger. But as long as we're in Afghanistan, we're going to have this complicated, up and down relationship with Pakistan. And of course the Pakistani is -- are, you know, paranoid that we're really on the side of India, that somehow we're going to support India over Kashmir. It's a very, you know, it's always been a hotbed of resentments and suspicions and being in the middle means everybody kind of tries to use you for their own purposes.

VAUSE: Yes, I mean, it's kind of, you know, a hallmark of that part of the world. We're out of time, Steve. I'm just wondering if you know, if this is now the right time and the right place that maybe a get-tough strategy with Pakistan actually might produce results because you know, the conditions have changed to some degree. But I guess we'll have that discussion another time. But as always, it's great to see you. Happy New Year!

ERLANGER: Thanks, John. All the best! Cheers!

VAUSE: Thank you. Well, China, the world's largest consumer of ivory is ending its legal ivory trade. Carvers and retailers across the country will have to shut down. The ban went into place Sunday more than two years after President Xi Jinping agreed to it, with then U.S. President Barack Obama. Alexandra Field joins us now live from Beijing. So, Alexandra, the ban targets legal trade of old ivory. How does this protects elephants from you know, being slaughtered today or put to an end the illegal trade?

[01:40:16] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, conservationists are saying that this is a major boon to the effort to protect those elephants. And John, you do point out that this has to do with old ivory, of course, but the idea is that if there was a flourishing legal trade of ivory here in China, it would provide a front and it did provide a front for the illegal trade of ivory, which was, of course, endangering those hunted African elephants. So this is concept, the ban that has as you point out again, long been in the works, but it has finally fully taken effect. It was announced a year ago that China would begin to shut down its processing centers for ivory.

As of Sunday, all retail sites had to be shut down, all processing centers had to be shut down. The message would become clear to the public that you could not legally purchase ivory in this country. Of course, you know that China has this major market for ivory, has had a major market for ivory, given the fact that it is such a status symbol here. So it was a very much coveted item here in China. This seeks to put an end to that. It was an idea that was put together by President Xi Jinping and former U.S. President Barack Obama who both decided to make moves together to shut down the illegal and legal trades of ivory in the world's two largest ivory markets, the U.S., those steps went into effect in 2016 and then China joined in those efforts in 2017. John?

VAUSE: OK, Alexandra, I guess you know, the proof of the commitment will be to see how many stores are closed down, and all these illegal ones, you know, if they are closed down as well. I guess watch this space. Alexandra Fields, live in Beijing. Thank you.

A short break. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., Pope Francis calling for compassion for the refugees and he finds a powerful way to share his message of peace.


VAUSE: Well, Pope Francis is pleading with world leaders to do more to help migrants and refugees, calling them the weakest and most needy people anywhere. The Pope marked the church's world day of peace on Monday and also talked about the horrors of war. CNN's Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen has more now from Rome. And a warning, some images in this report are disturbing.


JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: From the beginning, some five years ago, Pope Francis has aspired to be a peace pope, working hard to end what he has described as a third world war being fought in piecemeal fashion around the globe today. And that was definitely the peace pope that we saw on New Year's day 2018 here in Rome. January 1st is marked on the Catholic calendar as the world day of peace. Pope Francis had already issued a written message for the day, identifying migrants and refugees, many of whom these days are fleeing conflict situations, as an object of special concern.

Today, on New Year's, Pope Francis speaking from the window of the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square, insisted that the world must not extinguish the hope of migrants and refugees. It must not suffocate their expectations of peace. This holiday season, Pope Francis has found a way to move the ball on his peace message, not merely through words but also with pictures. Taking the unusual step of having printed and distributed here at the Vatican, a card with a picture of a young boy immediately after the Nagasaki atomic bomb blast, who has his younger brother on his shoulder, standing in line at a crematorium, under the heading, the fruit of war, written in Francis's own hand. And on the back side of the card, you see an explanation that this shot was taken by an American Marine photographer, and that the only sign of anguish on the boy's face, and it's hard to see, is that he's biting his lips, and you can see blood oozing from them.

[01:46:14] Obviously, 2017 was a year in which there were fears of a nuclear conflict, centered on the Korean Peninsula. Pope Francis clearly felt that in that context, this message was more timely than ever. So the verdict on New Year's Day would be that in 2018 this peace pope is not taking his foot off the gas in his quest to try to end conflict. For CNN, in Rome, I'm John Allen.


VAUSE: Well, throughout 2017, CNN followed the stories and path of migrants and refugees and one report in particular sparked fiery protests in Paris and calls for action from world leaders. That report uncovered a modern-day slave auction in Libya, which targeted migrants trying to reach Europe. CNN's Nima Elbagir has to look back in her 2017 reporting and reflect on what still needs to be done.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a story that we actually had been working on for quite some time. About a year ago, it became obvious to us that the traffickers were looking around and seeing these warehouses full of migrants and deciding, well, how can I make money off them? And the answer was, selling them. When we received that first video that depicted people being auctioned off, it depicted men being auctioned off, it just seemed so inexplicable that this could be slavery in 2017, that we could be witnessing human beings being auctioned off. And we spoke to a number of legal experts. (INAUDIBLE) is the exploitation and it actually took one expert to go, this is slavery. This is slavery.

It's been really incredible to see that there has been such a human, really visceral reaction to this. You've had President Obama, you've had Emmanuel Macron in France, but it's not just been across the political spectrum. In the entertainment spheres, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, T.I., LL Cool J, Naomi Campbell. Every day average people on the street protesting and making sure that global leaders understand that this is something that people don't want to stand for. I don't know how to feel, honestly. You know, there have been real tangible results. There has been a huge leap in terms of the migrants that have been stuck in Libya and their repatriation to their home countries, but more needs to be done. We need to remind those kids trying to chase their dreams in Europe, that their dreams are worthwhile and they are worthwhile and that the world cares. And I don't know that we're there yet.


VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., from politics to weather to sports, a look at the stories we'll all be talking about in the coming year.


[01:50:00] VAUSE: Well, another arctic blast is gripping the U.S. with dangerously cold temperatures. On the bright side, the first supermoon of the year is on display. Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joins us now with more. So, how super is a supermoon? Is it really super at all? Because I heard it's only seven percent brighter, that doesn't sound super. That kind of sounds like a really good moon or like a really cool kind of moon.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes, I know it takes a lot more to impress you. But for the rest of us, seven percent is going to be good enough.


CABRERA: Yes. Actually, and there will be a second supermoon at the end of the month. Maybe that will excite you even more. And because it's two supermoons, or full moons in one month, we'll call it the blue moon, A month that has so much going on. We'll talk about the moon in a second here. (INAUDIBLE) bring it to a window. It's going to be spectacular. So frigid across the U.S. That was the story, continues to be the story, will be the story for some time of memorial. This sounds like you know, this is incredible stuff. The temperatures have been incredibly low. In fact 25 -- as low as 40 below zero, you imagine that. That's the way it has been feeling. Current temperature, of course, Fargo, you would expect it to be cold but not this cold. That's ridiculous, minus 31, minus 24 in Duluth.

And in the big cities across east coast as well. Look at Boston there, minus eight at Logan Airport. So if you were flying into the Northeastern United States, brace yourself for record cold temperatures. The likes of which we'll be seeing at the potential for 31 possible record lows that either be tied or broken through the early part of the morning. And this is the way it will go as far as the temperatures in New York City, minus 4, minus 2. And then by the time we get into Friday, it will be minus 11. But at least we do have the super moon. Let's talk about that as we step into my living room here. I'll try to pull in the moon. And if Isha was here, of course, I'd lasso it in, but I want to just let it kind of just pop out of the window here. There it is, 2018 supermoon. Everyone always asks, well, what is it?

Well, it's when the full moon coincides with its closest path to earth, right? We call it the perigee, the rest of us call it beautiful. We step out, gaze out into the sky. Of course, I'd rather do it from this window here because of the cold temperatures, but basically, that is going to be happening for your sunrise. So just before sunrise today, you have one more chance to be able to see our super moon of 2018. And if you miss it, as I mentioned at the end of the month, 31st of January, we'll have another one, John.

VAUSE: Yes, but this was the best one though, right? Because after this, they're all, like, downhill?

CABRERA: No, it will be -- it will still be super.


CABRERA: Not good enough for you, of course.

VAUSE: Not good enough for me.

CABRERA: But, it will be blue. There is that.

VAUSE: Thanks. Happy New Year!

CABRERA: I'll get you more cough syrup. Happy New Year!

VAUSE: Bye. 2017, it was notable for political upheaval, resistance movement, tragic weather events, and it's over. So what's in store for 2018?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's what we're looking forward to in politics in 2018. Well, it's an even-numbered year, which means midterm elections. And midterm elections are almost always bad for the president's party. They almost always lose seats in the House and in the Senate. That goes double when the president's approval rating is under 50 percent and Donald Trump's is way under 50 percent now. The House is absolutely in play. Republicans hold the majority, but there are enough Democratic opportunities out there to make it a real possibility Democrats retake the house come November 2018. The Senate, a tougher thing for Democrats. There are 26 Democratic seats up to just 9 for Republicans. But Democrats have oddly a little bit of a chance here. They've gotten a lot of good breaks, and remember, Donald Trump is not very popular, which makes taking over the Senate a very slight, but still a real possibility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: La Nina is expected to continue through the rest of the winter, which typically brings warmer and dry conditions to the Southeast. It also normally means a wetter than normal pattern in the Pacific Northwest. But if it hangs on through spring and even summer, hurricane season could be interesting. La Nina usually means above- normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

[01:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2018 is going to be a big year for the British royal family, not least because we'll have a blockbuster royal wedding. Prince Harry will marry the American Actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in May. She's divorced, she's biracial, she's a vocal women's rights campaigner, three first for a senior royal so expect a fairy tale to play out, but also a debate on how the British Monarchy is gaining relevance in new areas. Also in the spring, royal baby number three for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And in November, Prince Charles, Britain's longest serving heir to the throne will turn 17.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea is really at a crossroads as we move into 2018. Most experts agree they're on the verge of finalizing their nuclear program. They've threatened more missile launches, possibly in above-ground nuclear test and there are security concerns ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Pyongyang wants to be recognized as a nuclear power. Washington has said, that won't happen. So the question, will 2018 be a year for diplomacy or something else? The answer lies largely with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2018 will be highlighted by two high profile global sporting events, the Winter Olympics in South Korea and the FIFA World Cup. With the Winter Games being held approximately 50 miles from (INAUDIBLE) North Korea and with Russia banned from competition, these Olympics already have plenty of off-the-ice intrigues ahead of February 9th iconic lighting of the Olympic flame. In June, fans from around the globe will descend on 11 Russian cities to witness the passion and pride of the FIFA World Cup, with Italy, United States, and the Netherlands failing to qualify, debutantes like Iceland, with their fan's infectious Viking Thunder Clap, will aim to disrupt cup titans like Brazil and Germany this summer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2018 will likely bring some big changes to our health care system. On one hand, President Trump has renewed his vow to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act, possibly leaving millions without health care insurance, but we're also on the verge of major developments with new gene therapies to treat cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimer's, bringing new hope to many patients. And we're getting serious about an American-made problem, the opioid epidemic. One of the leading causes of death in the United States today.


VAUSE: Buckle up, here we go again. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause and I will be back with more news after a short break.