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Kremlin critic calls for boycott of March election; Tourism on the decline in North Korea; Trump's Christmas: family, friends and Twitter; Scare for travelers as place skids off taxiway; iPhones Apple slows down; Clothing worn by Meghan Markle has sold out in minutes; Vatican discovers two lost paintings from Maestro Raphael. Aired at 8-9a ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 08:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zain Asher, coming to you live from New York. Welcome to News Stream.


ASHER: He wants to be Russia's next president but Kremlin elected him only has been barred from running. We are live to you in Moscow at this hour.

And Apple take with lawsuit after admitting it has been slowing down iPhones.

We'll explain why. Plus, capturing Markle's sparkle -- women around the world want to dress like this particular woman. We'll have a live report

on how Prince Harry's fiance is impacting the fashion industry.


ASHER: All right. I want to start with our top story now. One of the Kremlin's biggest critics has been barred from entering the presidential

race and now he's calling for a boycott of the election next year.

In the meantime, the Kremlin says it is willing to mediate talks between Pyongyang and Washington hoping to kick start negotiations. I want to

bring CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He joins us live now from Moscow.

So, Fred, Alexei Navalny expected this could happen -- this idea that he could be barred from standing in next year's election. So he's trying to

encourage supporters to boycott the election. What are the likely legal repercussions for him in doing that?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be several legal repercussions for him but first of all, yes, a two-pronged strategy, Zain.

On the one hand, yes, he's calling for that boycott of the election.

On the other hand, he does say that he wants to appeal that decision by the Russian electoral commission. He says he believes it's unfair, it's

politically motivated, and of course, all of that happened.

He was barred from running after handing all his documents because in his past, he was convicted of embezzlement, a charge which he said was

politically motivated in order to keep him out of life here in politics.

Now, he make some scathing remarks towards Vladimir Putin after he was barred from running saying that Putin was afraid of him, that he could beat

Vladimir Putin if the election were fair. I want to listen in real quick to some of the things that he said. Let's listen to that.


ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through a translator): We are announcing a boulder strike, the procedure in which we are invited to

participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates who he personally chose who do not pose a slightest threat to



PLEITGEN: So there you have, Alexei Navalny with some scathing remarks. The Kremlin for its part is saying look, we have nothing to do with this.

All of this was the electoral commission. They took a look at this and the Kremlin didn't want to comment on that part of it.

However, on the boycott itself and this is what you were getting, too, with those legal repercussions, the Kremlin says yes, there might actually be


Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin on the call and answering the question of that CNN posed to him. He said look, the authorities are

going to take a look at whether calling for this boycott was illegal in itself.

So Alexei Navalny, not only might be barred from running for office but he also might get into legal trouble for calling for that boycott as well.

This goes to show how difficult things are here for many of the opposition figures here in this country. Zain.

ASHER: And, Fred, another line that we're getting out of Moscow is this idea that Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is calling on the U.S. and

North Korea -- the U.S. and Pyongyang to basically start talks. Just explain to our audience who ,ight not be familiar. What Russia's best --

best of interest is in all of this.

PLEITGEN: You know, I think Russia has several interest in all this. On the one hand, the Russians really don't want this conflict to get out of

hand. North Korea does have a border with the Russian Federation.

It is only about 17 kilometers or about 12 miles long but it is still a fairly significant border and certainly one that could cause a lot of

trouble if there were any sort of destabilizing element like a conflict with the U.S. going on, on the other side of that borders.

So the Russian certainly have an interest there. They also have some economic ties to North Korea. But what was especially important is that

the Russians actually hold some sway with Kim Jong-un.

So they believe that they could be a mediator in some of this. At the same time of course in all this, there is always a little bit of an element of

them, you know, sort of poking the United States a bit with this.

Vladimir Putin was heavily critical of the Trump administration said look, what they're doing -- the rhetoric that's coming out of the Trump

administration really isn't very helpful because they believe that Kim Jong-un feels like he's being pushed into a corner with this.

And that Kim Jong-un believe that only having weapons of mass destruction which means intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver nuclear warheads

and miniaturized nuclear warheads will stop the U.S. from putting in place some sort of scheme for regime change.

[08:05:00] Vladimir Putin always brings out the example of Saddam Hussein, who obviously gave up weapons of mass destruction and then had regime

change in force against him.

And he said look, Kim Jong-un probably feels the same way. So that's what the Russians are saying which I think really holds two things to it.

On the one hand, they are trying to poke the U.S. a little bit but they do have a very real vested interest in things not getting out of control there

on the Korean Peninsula.

And obviously, they also do have some sway with Kim Jong-un and they believe that they could play a very constructive role in trying to mediate

all this if that's what both sides wants to do. Zain.

ASHER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, live for us there in Moscow. Thank you so much. And speaking all the threats from North Korea, there are actually

new developments from South Korea as it moves to deal with the difficulties and the tensions from the north.

Seoul's Defense Ministry has created the North Korean nuclear deterrence division. It is designed to monitor and counter any nuclear or missile

threat from the North, as well as any cross-border provocations.

Now it's no surprise that a nuclear stand-off with North Korea testing companies that operate towards in the Hermit Kingdom. Here is Sherisse

Pham with more.


SHERISSE PHAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Visiting North Korea is for some travelers irresistible. Seeing Pyongyang interacting with North Koreans

getting into one of the most isolated countries in the world can be the trip of a lifetime.

Nic Bonner's been taken tours to North Korea for nearly 25 years. Since 2013, about 4000 Western tourist have visited the country every year, but

not anymore. There's a lot of hypertension. There's a lot of inflammatory rhetoric from -- coming from the U.S. and North Korea.


PHAM: Much more frequent missile and nuclear tests going on. How is that affect the tourism industry?

BONNER: Very significantly, I mean stand at least 50 percent but bizarrely, it's also at the same time -- you think it will be more but a

lot of people are still fascinated by what is going on the country.

PHAM: Bonner's business took a hit when American tourist Otto Warmbier died after being detained in North Korea for 17 months. The U.S.

government later banned Americans from traveling to the country. But Bonner says it's still safe to go in, as long as you follow the rules.

BONNER: Nothing has changed. It's being the same as it has been. It's -- you know, with tour guides all, time you, you are well looked after. It's

safe. Provided you stunned by the rules.

We give everyone briefing before they come to countries. We go with them around the country and providing you -- that you understand that this --

you know, it's not a holiday. It's an experience. In that way, we -- you can avoid any problems.

PHAM: But when it comes to tourist into North Korea, it's not just about safety, it's also about the money and where it goes. Western travelers

often pay a lot for packaged tours. Prices are set by the North Koreans and foreign tour operators determine the markup.

A seven night stay can cost around $2000. What do you say to critics who say look, bringing tourist into North Korea funds the regime and could even

fund the nuclear program. What do you say to those critics?

BONNER: We run a company of 12 people. We're taking half of tourists going in and we survive just, you know, with none of us is sort of running

around. Tourism isn't sinking it up. It's tough business.

We're in it because we find it fascinating. I believe very strong in engagement. I think tourism not only opens your eyes, it certainly opens

the North Koreans eyes.

PHAM: But if tensions between North Korea and the international community continue to grow, opportunities for engagement are only shrinking.

Sherisse Pham, CNN, Hong Kong.


ASHER: All right, we're going to turn now to the United States. President Trump maybe taking a break from Washington for the Christmas holiday but as

one thing he certainly did not leave behind -- of curse I'm talking about Twitter.

I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Sarah Murray who is traveling with the president. So, Sarah, of course you can always count on

the president to tweet even when he's on vacation.

What could we -- I guess over the Christmas holidays, what could we glean from his tweets about where he's headed that going into the New Year.

SARAH MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the president has said he is back to work today. That was after a few days of taking part in Christmas

activity and likely would expect and I guess likely would expect from this president taking part in some Twitter odd shots. He took aim at the media,

as well as the FBI.


MURRAY: After a quiet Christmas at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump promising to get back to work, touting his make America great again agenda, this

after repeatedly complaining that he's not getting the credit he deserves after his accomplishments.

Trump marking his first Christmas in office with traditional presidential tact, attending a late-night church service on Christmas Eve, taking calls

with young children on the Santa-tracking hotline.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What do you think Santa's going to you gifts?

MURRAY: And teleconferencing with the troops.

TRUMP: I just wanted to wish everybody a very, very Merry Christmas. We say Christmas again very proudly.

[08:10:00] MURRAY: Trump claiming he has led the charge for Americans to say merry Christmas instead of happy holidays.

TRUMP: It's my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very merry Christmas.

MURRAY: Despite the fact that President Obama used the phrase repeatedly while in office.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everyone, and merry Christmas. So merry Christmas, everybody. Merry Christmas,


MURRAY: Trump also spent the holiday weekend lashing out again at the country's top law enforcement agency, attacking FBI deputy director Andrew

McCabe, former FBI director James Comey, and FBI lawyer James Baker.

The president pouncing on reports that McCabe is planning on retiring in March, going after the FBI deputy over donations his wife's campaign

received from a Super PAC connected to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons.

The president hasn't shied away from attacks on the Justice Department or the FBI since taking office. Still the White House insists Trump has more

confidence in the FBI now that he has hand-selected the man in charge.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: I think he's very pleased to have Chris Wray now running the FBI. He's very pleased with the

changes that are taking place. He's making the point that we need to make sure there's no bias.

MURRAY: The criticism coming amid growing questions from Republicans over the credibility of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If the president continues to try to, you know, undermine the legitimacy of the investigation, and if Republicans

continue to try and help with that, I think that puts us in peril.


MURRAY: Yet the president has no events on his public schedule today but no surprise, he is already taking to Twitter here to what he has to say

based on the fact that the very unfair and unpopular individual mandate has been terminated as part of our tax cyst bill which essentially repealed

over time, Obamacare.

The Democrats and Republicans will eventually come together and develop a great new healthcare plan. Apparently, the president is predicting a

little bit of bipartisanship for 2018. We will see if that come to fruition. Zain.

ASHER: Yes, Sarah, we will see if comes to a fruition and what is his plan to get Democrats on board with his agenda next year then.

MURRAY: That's an excellent question. We haven't really seen much for Democrats in terms of being willing to cooperate with this president or

many overtures from this president. So might fruition is pending.

ASHER: All right, Sarah Murray, live for us there, thank you so much. Pools are open in Liberia right now for long-awaited presidential runoff

election. Delegates from the National Democratic Institute are at polling stations to observe.

The candidates on the ballot are current vice president and a former soccer star. The election was delayed for weeks by a court challenge from the

candidate who came in third in the first round of voting.

And Peru's president is telling his country to turn the page and accept his decision to pardon ex-leader Alberto Fujimori. The pardon has triggered

two days of protest. Take a look.


ASHER: What we're looking at here is basically crowds facing off against riot police. Protesters taking place in Lima on Monday. Fujimori was

serving a 25-year sentence of human rights abuses.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski says the release was justified because Fujimori is sick but the president is facing his own political crisis.

Last week, Congress nearly removed him over a corruption stand-off.


ASHER: All right, still to come here on News Stream. It's been less than a merry holiday season to Apple, where iPhones both old and new are causing

major problems for the tech giant. Plus, as Meghan Markle wears it, chances are, everyone is going to buy it. We'll look at how Markle is

making a mark this day.


ASHER: All right, there was certainly quite a scare for holiday travelers on Christmas night in Boston. The Jetblue Airways' flight did off the

taxiway after landing at Logan Airport in very icy conditions.

Passengers say, the plane actually started spinning after hitting a patch of ice. The mishap is taking place after a winter storm dumped several

inches of snow in the area.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight and then all of the sudden, we start of dish tailing and, it sort of getting rough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I realize we are going off the runway, I was like, oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden we started sliding and then we start spinning and spinning, and spinning, and ended up in a snow bag.


ASHER: Sliding and spinning on a plane. And then plane ended up finally coming to a stop between two taxiways. Passengers are certainly shaken and

taken aback but luckily though nobody was hurt.

All right, here is certainly something that will make iPhone users happy. Last week Apple admitted it slows down some of its older iPhones. And now,

the lawsuits are coming. Samuel Burke joins us live now from London.

Samuel, people are upset because the software essentially made some iPhone slow down and then people actually ended up buying newer models. They say

otherwise wouldn't have. What is Apple saying about this?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: well, I think what is interesting here is Apple is trying to make the point that they were trying to help people,

help the consumers, that's what they're saying.

They say the reason we slow down these phones and I just want to put up a list of people who can see if one of their phones was affected by this, it

was the iPhone six, six S, SE and the relatively new iPhone seven.

So what they're saying is that on those phones, there was a problem with the battery that would cause them to basically surgeon power after a lot of

use and that would cause the phone to shut down.

Apple said that they sent out this update on IOS. So when you upgrade to new IOS, it would make your phone go slower but stop the battery from

surging and shutting down all of the sudden.

There are now five lawsuits that we've counted, Zain. Two in California, one in Chicago, another one in New York and even reports in local media in

Israel about a $125 million class action lawsuit, certainly not a very Merry Christmas for Apple.

ASHER: I have been reading reports about this so called, lump of coal for Apple is getting this holiday season. So what can people do to actually

stop the phones from slowing down, for people who might have been aiming to get a new iPhone instead of going to all that trouble. iPhones can be

expensive, can be actually do to stop these phones in slowing down?

BURKE: Zain, this is the most frustrating part because on the one hand, people say, well, I just won't update IOS but as CNN's tech correspondent,

I have got to tell you, it has a lot of important security updates in there.

So I can't recommend that but then you're stuck with a slow phone. Now some experts say updating to a new battery which cost about $80 could be

fixed but I think what's so frustrating here is that Apple won't confirm that.

We've asked them many times, some experts say a battery which may not happen. So I think what this all comes down to and what we've seen in

these lawsuits is they're talking about a lack of transparency.

Apple knew this but they weren't telling people. In fact, let me just put up what one of the lawsuits says. We have a lawyer from the Chicago case

telling us the following quote.

[08:20:00] Apple's failure to inform -- inform consumers about these updates would wreak havoc on the phone's performance is being deemed

purposeful and if proving constitutes the unlawful and decisive withholding of material information, so I think a lack of transparency from the

beginning and even now as we try to sort this out has really come back to bite Apple in the Big Apple.

ASHER: That's a good line. Samuel Burke, live for us, thank you so much. Merry Christmas. Today is boxing day at one of the major shopping holiday

in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Prince Harry's fiance, Meghan Markle appears to have the Midas touch when it comes to retail.

Everything this girl touches, turns to gold. When she wears something, sales jump. Sales certainly spike. I want to bring in Anna Stewart, who

joins us live now from London.

So, Anna, I looked up that coat -- that sort of white beige coat that she was wearing Christmas day, and I have to say, as much as I admire Meghan

Markle, her fashion sense is a little bit pricey.

That coat was about $1,295. I think dollars, not pounds. Certainly quite expensive but people are still flocking to the stores nonetheless for that

very coat.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Zain. I might be flocking to it, that coat, the (Inaudible) coat, a Canadian brand has sold out online.

She was also wearing some boots by Stuart Weitzman.

They were about $650 in the sale but they have sold out now, too. So you are absolutely right about the Meghan Markle effects. Everything she

touches, sales out. But one thing she wore which hasn't got a hit, the bag. But that's $1,400, again, really pricey, Zain.

So maybe, it's not quite as pricey as that dress. I don't know if you remember but her engagement photo last week, she wore a dress by Ralph &

Russo -- a British couture couple that make beautiful dresses but that one apparently was at price at $75,000. That's double the average salary of

average Brits here.

ASHER: That is incredible. Yes, and I saw that -- I saw that dress she wore on her engagement. It was actually very stunning. So Meghan Markle,

what can she actually do for British designers?

Because part of her job -- aside from her charity roles, part of the job is actually have a platform and create a platform for British designer as


STEWART: Absolutely. And this is a Kate Middleton's gown, too, wearing British designs, giving them a really good view. And Meghan is still

wearing the Canadian brands as well and I thin British brands will hope that she wear more of them in the months ahead.

So they can all get a little Markle sparkle in the lead up to the wedding. But she is -- but she is wearing some British brands. You know, she wore,

as I said, the (Inaudible), when she came by here in the U.K. and the Ralph & Russo is a very British makes. She also wore a Strathberry bag which is

not well known but Scottish designer and that bag sold out in, you know, hours.

ASHER: Anna, do we have any idea who she's wearing for her wedding. I think that is what everybody wants to know. Who designed Meghan Markel

wedding dress?

STEWART: Well, I wouldn't give you the answer to that question. Nobody knows but there is going to be so much speculation in the months ahead.

Looking at who is a designer it will end up, who she wants so far -- you know, for reason, there may be engagement dress. You know, could they make

the wedding dress. Honestly, Zain, I think it will be such a (Inaudible). All we can do is guess.

ASHER: Yes, but I have to say, I do love her fashion sense. She is very, very good with what she wears. All right, Anna Stewart, live for us there.

Thank you so much.

All right, we are seeing for the first time, two paintings from renaissance maestro, Raphael, after 500 years. The Vatican discovered them by pure


Experts believe the oil paintings are Raphael's last works. CNN's Delia Gallagher got access to these rare works. Take a look.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A 500-year- old mystery at the Vatican has just been solved. The Renaissance painter Raphael who painted these

famous frescos in three rooms at the Vatican began work on another room before his death. But those paintings had never been found until now.

So, coming from the three rooms that Raphael painted, we're now in the Hall of Constantine. This room was used for lavish banquets by Renaissance

popes and right now, they're cleaning and restoring its frescoed walls and they've made a once in a lifetime discovery.

Two paintings by the master Raphael, depicting the female figures justice and friendship. Raphael planned to paint the whole wall in oil, instead of

the traditional fresco technique, but died before he could finish.

And the figures were lost amidst the fresco paintings done after him. One of the Vatican's chief restorers Fabio Piacentini explains the thrill of

their rediscovery.

[08:25:00] FABIO PIACENTINI, VATICAN CHIEF RESTORER (through translator): It's an amazing feeling, knowing these were probably the last things he

painted. You almost feel the real presence of the maestro.

GALLAGHER: A first clue to the existence of these paintings is found in this book from the 15th century written by a historian who said that

Raphael had begun to paint two figures in a new experiment with oil.

But for centuries, they remained unidentified in the Vatican, until they began cleaning these walls. To the expert eye, it was clear that these two

figures were not like the others.

PIACENTINI (through a translator): The way the paint brush moves, even the subtlety of the point of the brushes used to create this (Inaudible).

GALLAGHER: He says that clues that this is a genuine Raphael are seen in the confidence of the brush work, the unusual shades of color and the fact

that there are no signs on these two figures of a preparatory drawing underneath.

This infrared photo confirmed to the restorers that these two figures were not like the rest, the oil paintings clearly showing through in this

advanced technology.

For the head of the Vatican museum, Barbara Jatta, the discovery is a major one. Restoring the Raphel's in the whole room will take until the year at

least 2022.

DR. BARBARA JATTA, DIRECTOR, VATICAN MUSEUMS: It is probably one of the most important projects that never done in the last decade in -- apart from

the Sistine Chapel, done in the Vatican Museums.

GALLAGHER: With so much history and artwork here, could there be yet other major discoveries?

JATTA: This is the beautiful thing of projects -- of different projects. So, we are still working on that. We are still searching. I mean, we're

researching. That's the good point of the research. It never ends.

GALLAGHER: Delia Gallagher, CNN, Vatican City.


ASHER: All right. And that is News Stream for this hour. I am Zain Asher. Don't go anywhere, World Sport with Rhiannon Jones is up next. You

are watching CNN.