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At Least 40 Dead in Tower Platform Collapse in China; Trump Nominates First Two Women to Cabinet; U.S. Officials Sound Alarm Over North Korea; Urban Warfare Underway in Mosul; UK Economy to See Slower Growth; Greece and Croatia Pledge Help to Fight Israel Fires; Political Activists Urge Voting Review. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 24, 2016 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:09] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Search and rescue efforts underway after deadly construction accident in China.

Cabinet choice. Donald Trump picks a former critic for a top diplomatic post.

And ISIS besieged. The Iraqi troops say they've now completely surrounded the city of Mosul.

Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

Rescue workers and firefighters in southern China are searching for survivors of a platform collapse at a power plant. Chinese news agency Xinhua reports the platform was on a cooling tower that was undergoing repairs. At least 40 are dead and a number of others are still trapped.

Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing with the latest. Matt, what more can you tell us?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This accident happened around 7:00 a.m. at an inland southern part of China where apparently there were 68 workers, according to Chinese state media that were on scaffolding, a work platform, working on this cooler tower as part of a large construction project in this area building a new power plant. And what apparently happened, again according to state media, is that a crane on site collapsed and when it fell it took that platform down with it.

And you can see in these pictures really quite the scene of destruction there. We know according to state media at least 40 people have been killed so far. Five are in the hospital. But rescuers are still looking for the two dozen or so remaining people that are yet to be accounted for. And we have heard media reports that suggest that as these rescue efforts go on the casualty numbers are certainly expected to rise.

We know that there's about 200 firefighters there looking through the rubble, trying to find any survivors using dogs and life-detecting equipment to do their best, but unfortunately, Isha, they have their work cut out for them and this is just the kind of thing that we do see happen in China quite often unfortunately.

SESAY: Yes. And to that point, why is that?

RIVERS: Well, workplace safety is not given much of a premium here. It's really not something that you see. Anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that we go into factories all the time and it would shock some of our viewers I think to see the conditions on which these factory workers work in, using heavy machinery, with no safety gear, you regularly see people welding with any -- without masks on.

Workplace safety just not a high priority and there's numbers to back that up in the first half of 2016, according to China's state administration of work safety there were 14,1036 deaths on work sites across the country. And that's just from January to June. So you can imagine what those numbers will be for the rest of the year. This is an ongoing issue here in China.

SESAY: Frightening. Matt Rivers joining us there from Beijing. Matt, appreciate it. Thank you.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is spending the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. But his transition team announced two new Cabinet picks Wednesday, both women.

CNN's Jason Carroll reports.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President- elect Donald Trump is bolstering his Cabinet by turning to a one-time critic.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When a bully hits you, you hit that bully right back.

CARROLL: Trump today announcing South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his choice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants, became the first woman and the first person of color elected as governor of the Palmetto State. She has not significant foreign policy experience. Haley endorsed Marco Rubio during the GOP primary and was a vocal Trump critic during the campaign.

HALEY: I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That's not who we want as president.

CARROLL: Trump today also naming Betsy DeVos, a top GOP donor and proponent of school choice, as his pick to head the Department of Education, calling her a brilliant and passionate education advocate. DeVos was also critical of Trump and never an enthusiastic during the campaign. Trump pledged throughout the campaign to do away with the Common Core education standards to huge cheers.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: And we are going to end Common Core. Education is going to be brought local. CARROLL: DeVos previously served on the board of an education group

led by Jeb Bush that supports Common Core, but in a statement she says, "I am not a supporter, period. It got turned into a federalized boondoggle."

[02:05:11] But it is the selection of Haley that raises the question, could another Trump rival be next? Transition sources tell CNN Mitt Romney is a leading contender for secretary of state.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance.

CARROLL: The 2012 Republican nominee was one of Trump's fiercest critics during the primary, blasting Trump's foreign policy credentials.

ROMNEY: Mr. Trump's bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies.

CARROLL: Some Trump loyalists are lambasting a potential Romney pick.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Political infighting is part of the game. But when you go after a person who was the nominee of your party, who has been duly nominated by the voters, and then you are savaging the voters. You're not just savaging Donald Trump.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I can think of 20 other people who would be more naturally compatible with the Trump vision of foreign policy.

CARROLL: Trump taking to Twitter to announce that he is considering another rival for HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carson tweeting an ambiguous follow-up, saying, "An announcement is forthcoming about his role in helping to make America great again."

As Trump opens his Cabinet to one-time opponents he's also showing an openness to reconsider core positions from the campaign. Indicating in an interview with the "New York Times" on Tuesday, that General James Mattis, a contender for Defense secretary, helped change his mind about waterboarding.

TRUMP: He said I've never found it to be useful. He said I've always found give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do better with that than I do with torture.

CARROLL (on camera): The transition team says that Thanksgiving is going to be a down day for the president-elect and his family and not to expect any announcements until after the holiday.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.


SESAY: Well, Iran's supreme leader is vowing to take action if the U.S. renews sanctions against the Islamic republic. Ayatollah Al- Khomeini said Wednesday that if sanctions are implemented that would violate the Iran nuclear agreement. He did not specify what steps Iran could take. U.S. Congress voted to extend the Iran sanctions act last week for 10 years. The Obama administration is trying to prevent any additional sanctions.

Another ominous threat to the U.S. is coming from North Korea where dictator Kim Jong-un is flaunting his country's nuclear capability.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New information that Donald Trump got a dire warning about a major national security threat he'll face when he enters the Oval Office, a threat that comes from a young, impetuous dictator who executed his own uncle. U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN the White House is conveying that North Korea is a grave near-term threat to America.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the Obama team viewed North Korea as Trump's top national security priority and warned the Trump transition team about the threat.

MICHAEL GREEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ASIA AND JAPAN CHAIR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Once the president-elect got the detailed briefings on the state of the North Korea nuclear and missile programs, I imagine it was new information and rather jarring.

TODD: U.S. officials and weapons experts say Kim Jong-un's regime probably has the ability already to put nuclear weapons on medium range missiles which could hit Japan and South Korea. And they're improving their longer range intercontinental ballistic missiles. One is called the KN-14.

RICHARD FISHER, SENIOR FELLOW ON ASIAN MILITARY AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY CENTER: They've tested the ICBM engine. It may have new fuels that give it far greater energy and range. And with that range, the KN-14 can possibly reach Washington, D.C.

TODD: Those missiles haven't yet been tested to be able to reenter the atmosphere, but experts say the North Koreans could be able to fire those missiles at the U.S. during Trump's administration. There are also new concerns about Kim's violent tendencies and how President Trump will deal with him personally.

(On camera): What should Donald Trump know about Kim Jong-un as an adversary?

GREEN: Kim Jong-un is a dangerous man. He has grown up around violence. He seems to even enjoy violence. He has brutally killed dozens of his generals, and he is a leader without legitimacy. He needs to prove to the Korean People's Army that he is a tough guy.

TODD (voice-over): On the campaign trail, Trump alternated between saying it's possible he could meet with Kim and saying he wanted to push him out of power. TRUMP: He's like a maniac. OK? And you got to give him credit. How

many young guys -- he was like 26 or 25 when his father died -- take over these tough generals?

TODD: Now analysts have a serious question. Are the two leaders will act rationally toward each other or impulsively?

BRUCE KLINGNER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Kim takes any insult very personally.

[02:10:02] We've seen that threats of 9/11-style attacks after the movie "The Interview" was released and perhaps Mr. Trump is very amenable to responding strongly to any kind of criticism.

TODD (on camera): We pressed the Trump transition team for a response to that and for specifics on how they will handle Kim Jong-un. We haven't gotten a response.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SESAY: Well, Donald Trump maybe preparing for his move to the White House. But some Democrats and computer scientists are saying not so fast. That story is coming up in our next half hour.

Well, activists and doctors in eastern Aleppo are begging the international community for help to end bombardment of their city by the Syrian regime and Russia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wonder why do we have United Nations. Why do we have human rights laws. This has been a slow motion train wreck. And this message is from the people who lasted in Aleppo to the world. Don't look back years from now and wish that you can do something. You can still do.

We ask you to ground Assad air force that is killing us or least have some diplomatic leverage to force the Syrian regime and Russia's bombardment of the city of Aleppo to be stopped.


SESAY: Well, those who remain in Aleppo risk dangers like this. You are watching a young girl being rescued from the rubble of a bombed building. These images captured by the Syria Civil Defense Volunteer Group also called the White Helmet. The girl had reportedly been trapped more five hours before she was saved.

Well, in neighboring Iraq ISIS fighters in Mosul are now fully surrounded by Iraqi forces and a key ISIS supply route has been shut down but as Phil Black reports there's a lot of fighting ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For some time now, various Iraqi forces have been at the gates of Mosul from the north to south and the east. Now they say they have closed the circle on the west, as well.

It's a significant development because it means ISIS is effectively trapped within the city. They can't escape across the border into Syria and the territory there nor can they call for backup or resupply.

But it does not mean the Iraqi forces expect victory in Mosul imminently. There is still a lot of fighting to do and especially a lot of work to do in the city itself. Iraqi forces have only penetrated the built-up area of the city around its eastern neighborhoods. And that was some weeks ago. And the fighting there has been incredibly difficult.

It's a sign of what is still to come on an even greater scale. It is urban warfare. House to house, street to street, in an environment that the ISIS fighters know very well and one they have been preparing, they have been digging in, fortifying, they have been building car bombs, they're using sniper positions, they are using mortar fire in this incredibly built-up, populated area. So what that means is that the population of Mosul is suffering and so are the Iraqi forces that are trying to advance and take ground.

Now the Iraqi government says it will not reveal official casualty figures while the operation is still underway. But we know what we've seen on the ground ourselves. At very forward medical positions. Essentially makeshift triage posts. We have seen a steady stream of women, children, men, and, of course soldiers as well, coming in injured before they are dispatched in ambulances to hospitals elsewhere.

Hospitals here in Irbil tell us they've received around 90 injured people from Mosul a day. Now this is not an accurate tally by any means, but it all together paints a picture, along with anecdotal stories of just how tough the fighting is in the city that this is not going to go quickly. That Mosul will not be taken from ISIS easily.

Phil Black, CNN, Irbil, northern Iraq.


SESAY: Well, earlier I asked CNN's military analyst Rick Francona for his take on the battle for Mosul and the strategy of the Iraqi forces.


LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That they dropped almost all the bridges over the Tigris inside the city therefore complicating movement inside the city. And the Iraqis are doing a really good job on the ground going through areas, neighborhood by neighborhood, pausing to consolidate their gains, make sure that there's no booby traps and there's no chance of counter attacks. And actually, I think, Isha, they're doing a really good job of taking

the city. Unfortunately we're not able to use as much air power. So the going is very, very slow. I saw some of the footage this is going block by block, house by house, even door by door.

SESAY: Let me ask you about the taking out of those bridges, Colonel Francona. I understand what that means for restricting the movement of ISIS fighters but what does that mean for civilians who are trying to flee? I mean, how much does that complicate that effort or that desire to get out of harm's way?

[02:15:01] FRANCONA: Yes, exactly. That makes it that much harder. And this is something that you have to really consider when you're deciding to take out these bridges. Not only does it complicate civilians trying to flee, it also damages the infrastructure that's going to have to be considered when you rebuild the city. Bridges are very sometimes hard to replace. These are large bridges. And if you drop two or three spans of them, very, very difficult to replace.

And the Tigris River is not something that you can just ford easily. It's a major river. It flows right through the city. There are five major bridges. There's only one left standing. So I remember when we were bombing the Iraqi cities during the invasion and even back in Desert Storm, bridges were always the target of last resort.


SESAY: Our thanks to our military analyst Rick Francona for his insight.

Meantime, as fighting intensifies, CNN has repeatedly asked Iraq's Joint Operations Command about military casualty numbers. It is said that it will only give a death toll of the soldiers once the operation is over.

A far-right extremist has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of British member of Parliament, Jo Cox. Prosecutors say Mair committed acts of terrorism motivated by hate. Afterwards Cox's widower gave a moving statement.


BRANDON COX, JO COX'S HUSBAND: For the person who did this, we have nothing but pity that his life was so devoid of love, consumed with hatred that this became his desperate and cowardly attempt to find meaning.

We hope the country will also take something from this. That Jo's death will have meaning. That those in politics, the media and our own communities who seek to divide us will face an unassailable wall of British tolerance and the articulation of Jo's believe that we hold more in common than that which divides us.


SESAY: Well, Thomas Mair stabbed and shot Cox days before the Brexit vote in June. Cox has campaigned for Britain's stay in the EU.

Time for quick break. In the wake of Brexit, the UK economy is slowing and the government will have to borrow money to cover the shortfall. More on the UK's financial forecast coming up.

Plus Otto is heading to east and central America. A region not accustomed to hurricane landfalls. We'll have all details.



SESAY: Welcome back, everyone.

[02:20:01] Due to an economic slowdown caused by the Brexit vote the UK will be forced to borrow an extra $72 billion over the next five years.

Nina Dos Santos has more on the financial challenges that lie ahead.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): The autumn leaves may be falling in Westminster, but inside the Houses of Parliament the government was keen to talk up the prospects for Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chancellor Philip Hammond.

DOS SANTOS: Delivering his first economic report since June's Brexit vote, Chancellor Philip Hammond had a clear message.

PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: The OBR report today confirms the underlying strength and resilience of the British economy. This autumn statement responds to the challenge of building on that strength while also heeding the warnings in the OBR's figures as we begin writing this new chapter in our country's history. It restates our commitment to living within our means and it sets out our choice to invest in our future. It sends a clear message to the world that Britain is open for business.

DOS SANTOS: But when it came to the details of how Brexit might work it seems the protesters outside were more vocal in their opinions than the chancellor. The government has been clear that it won't reveal too much until Brexit negotiations start in earnest and Mr. Hammond stuck to the script.

(On camera): The dire predictions of recession and an economic collapse after the Brexit vote may not have happened, but that doesn't mean that the chancellor has an easy job. The UK economy is shrinking. Growth forecast was slashed by a third to 1.4 percent. And the government will have to borrow more money to make up the shortfall. All that means that in this budget, there was little room for giveaways.

(Voice-over): The chancellor did manage some headline-grabbing initiatives. More than $28 billion on infrastructure and a new fund for research and development. More money was allocated to build affordable new homes. And extra help was granted for the so-called jams, the just about managing families in the form of tax changes and a boost to the national wage.

HAMMOND: Mr. Speaker, the announcements I have made today, lower taxes on working people, boost wages, back savers and bear down on bills.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): So in his first autumn statement, Philip Hammond struck a reassuring tone on the state of the UK economy and offered help for those on low incomes. But with uncertain times ahead and a lack of clarity on how exactly Brexit will pan out, he knows that he's probably got plenty more work do.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN Money, London.


SESAY: Time for more work indeed. Well, away from the UK economy now, everyone's heard of a tornado but you may not have heard of its gusty cousin. That's a gust-nado. It's a relatively rare sighting of plumes of swelling wind. This was filmed in Qatar. Although it looks a lot like a tornado, the short-lived twirl is not considered one because it's not connected to a cloud. Now you know.

Well, Hurricane Otto is barreling toward eastern Central America bringing heavy rain and wind with it. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with the very latest.

And Derek, where is it now? How's it looking?


VAN DAM: So heavy rainfall when they start to harvest this coffee bean this time of the year means it could have detrimental impacts for the plantations there, something that we'll have to keep in mind buying your next cup of Joe -- Isha.

SESAY: Yes, we will, as I'm a coffee drinker, just like you.

Derek, appreciate it. Thank you, Derek.

VAN DAM: All right.

SESAY: Now, dry and windy conditions are fanning the flames in northern and central parts of Israel.

[02:25:04] Greece and Croatia are sending crews to help battle the wildfires.

Oren Liebermann has the details off Nataf.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the town of Nataf just outside of Jerusalem and this is the area where firefighters are focusing their efforts now. This is where the fire remains out of control in the hills and the valleys around us. The fire swept through here earlier today. You can see this home behind was damaged as well as the home behind that. Scorched dirt all along this hill here on the ground burning the greenery and melting just about anything that is plastic, like what appears to be a pottery bowl right here behind me.

The fire has then spread from this hill across the valley to the other hills and that's because of the conditions here. It's supposed to be the rainy season and yet we haven't seen rain in more than two weeks. It's dry. In addition to that we've seen very windy conditions throughout the last couple of days and those are expected to continue into the next couple of days.

The dryness, plus that wind, is causing the fire to jump from one hill to another and that is where firefighters are trying to stop the fire. We've seen a number four, five of different times of firefighting planes dumping chemical retardants on the fire trying to stop it and yet it still spreads. That is where firefighters are focusing their efforts now.

This is the central Israel. In northern Israel there is a town called Zichron Yaakov. That's where we've seen some 750 families that remain evacuated. 20 homes damaged because of the fire there. Firefighters have that fire under control but have not completely put it out yet.

As for what started these fires, at least for the fire in this case, that is to say the fire in Nataf, police are questioning four workers who were in the area. Police say they may have started the fire out of negligence. But as for exactly what started that will be the focus of the investigation after the fires are out.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Nataf:


SESAY: Well, an electronic cigarette is being blamed for injuring a man at New York's Grand Central Terminal. The explosion was captured by security cameras. The 31-year-old man was talking to his co- workers, as you see here, at a wine shop when that happened. Yes, that is an e-cigarette that exploded in his pants pocket. He was taken to the hospital with burns to his leg, thigh and hand. He was really quite injured. He's scheduled now for surgery. Very frightening indeed.

Time for a quick break. "STATE OF AMERICA WITH KATE BOLDUAN" is coming up next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, more than two weeks after the U.S. election, growing push for a recount. What's behind it just ahead.


[02:30:16] SESAY: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Rescue workers and firefighters are searching for survivors of an

accident at a Chinese power plant. The Xinhua news agency reports at least 40 people were killed when a construction platform at a cooling tower collapsed. A number of others are trapped under scaffolding.

Iraqi forces say they've now completely encircled the ISIS held city of Mosul and a key ISIS supply route has been shut down. The terror group is now effectively trapped inside the city which it captured back in 2014.

Turkish media reports two people are dead and 16 others are wounded in a car bomb explosion in the southern city of Adana. The blast happened in a parking lot near the government office during morning rush hour. Authorities have not said who was responsible.

Colombia's government and the Marxist rebel group FARC are set to sign a new peace agreement Thursday in Bogota. The deal will then go to lawmakers for a ratification vote since Colombians rejected the deal in a referendum. The accord is expected to pass it and would end Colombia's 52-year civil war.

Well, Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote in the U.S. presidential election is growing. She now leads President-elect Trump by nearly two million votes. According to the Associated Press, Clinton has nearly 64 million votes compared to just over 62 million for Donald Trump. Though Trump won the electoral college, Clinton supporters point to the popular vote to question Trump's mandate.

And now there are calls for recounts in areas that were critical to Clinton's loss. Green Party nominee Jill Stein has raised more than $2 million for the effort. Her push is fueled by top computer scientists and others raising questions about the possibility of hacks in key counties in three states.

Tom Foreman looks at their theories and runs down the numbers.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Wisconsin with almost three million votes cast, Donald Trump edged Hillary Clinton by less than 28,000. In Pennsylvania, out of almost six million votes, his advantage was 60,000. And the count in Michigan still remains too close for CNN to call the race.

But now some political activists say in counties using electronic voting, Hillary Clinton appears to have mysteriously underperformed compared to areas with paper ballots by as much as 7 percent, according to what they told top Clinton aides in a call urging an official review. They have not released their analysis nor provided proof of hacking. But that margin could have tipped Wisconsin, and if the others went her way too, she would have won.

So who's leading the charge?

JOHN BONIFAZ, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: Our democracy is under attack.

FOREMAN: John Bonifaz is a Democratic activist who ran for office a few years ago.

BONIFAZ: This is a story of where the Democratic Party needs to be.

FOREMAN: He's a big proponent of voting rights and he tried to get President Bush impeached over the Iraq war.

BONIFAZ: The United States House of Representatives has a constitutional duty to investigate fully and comprehensively.

FOREMAN: But at the University of Michigan, the chief computer scientist behind the discovery of these alleged voting oddities seems to be on a different page. J. Alex Halderman is concerned about the risk of American elections being hacked. He talked about it on C-SPAN before this vote.

J. ALEX HALDERMAN, PROFESSOR, COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: A realistic attack on the election is probably going to be homing in on whichever states end up having the closest margins.

FOREMAN: But he wants an investigation because he thinks any questions about voting security ought to be addressed. Not because he's convinced it would necessarily change the result nor prove anyone tried to rig the vote. He's posted online, quote, "Were this year's deviations from pre-election polls the result of a cyber attack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong."

As for election officials, some certainly went into the balloting pretty confident.

JERRY FEASER, PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION OFFICIAL: I could set one of these machines in the middle of Red Square in Moscow and the Russians couldn't hack into it.

FOREMAN (on camera): We reached out to folks behind this effort. They don't really want to talk about it more in case there is legal action. But the Clinton camp has shown very little interest in pursuing it. The White House is focused on a smooth transition to the Trump administration and that likely means this political conspiracy theory will just drift off into the electoral wilderness.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


SESAY: Now a sixth child has died from injuries sustained in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Keonte Wilson's brother described him as a tough little boy.

[02:35:02] He's one of 37 young students on the bus on Monday when officials say the driver plowed into a tree.


CHRISTOPHER A. HART, NTSB CHAIRMAN: In the course of looking at the history of Tally Road we just ascertained that Tally Road was not designated on the designated route for that school bus. We were investigating why it was not on the designated route and also why he was going a way that was not on the designated route. We don't know the answer to that yet.


SESAY: Well, police say the driver will likely face a sixth charge of vehicular homicide. His first court appearance is set for next week.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For one Chinese pie maker it means the busiest time of the year plus a newfound confidence and hope.


SESAY: People in Florida, Georgia and Alabama caught a glimpse of a natural light show when a fireball streaked across the sky. This footage shows the moment, you can see as it approached earth and exploded with a fiery flash. The American Meteor Society says a fireball is an extremely bright meteor. They've got more than 150 calls about this one.

Scary stuff, though.

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday gives people a chance to take a step back and appreciate what life has offered them. For one bakery worker in China, growing up wasn't easy, but during the busiest week of the year, Grace Yang is truly grateful for the opportunity to start afresh.


[02:40:00] GRACE YANG, BAKERY WORKER: My name is Grace Yang. I've been working at the bakery for five years. I have polio and cannot walk. When I was little I couldn't understand why my parents would abandon me. Perhaps they were facing tough choices.

Before I came here, I was lost and confused. I don't know what to expect for the future. In the bakery, I learned to be independent.

I grew up without parents, so I want to give my future children the love that I never had. As long as you have hope for the future you will have the courage to keep moving forward.


SESAY: Story of hope for the future.

In another corner of Asia, Thanksgiving celebrations are already in full swing. This was the scene a little earlier, just north of Seoul in South Korea as U.S. troops from the 210th Field Artillery Brigade tucked into a holiday meal with all the trimmings. Almost 30,000 American military personnel are based in the country. Good stuff.

Now if you aren't a fan of turkey pardons, let me just tell you, you might want to turn down the volume down for just a moment. But here in NEWSROOM L.A. we're happy to forgive the outgoing U.S. president one last appearance as Thanksgiving comedian-in-chief. And if you sense something lacking as you take a look at this year's footage, yes, you're very, very observant.

Because yes, as sure as Barack Obama every year pardons poultry, every November you see right there with him his visibly uncomfortable daughters Sasha and Malia who were dragged along to hear their father's attempts at seasonal humor. They look very, very pained. This year the tolerant twosome were nowhere, nowhere to be seen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one. So for the past seven years, I've established another tradition. Embarrassing my daughters with a corny-copia of dad jokes about turkeys. Malia and Sasha, by the way, are thankful that this is my final presidential turkey pardon. What I haven't told them yet is that we are going to do this every year from now on.


OBAMA: No way I'm cutting this habit cold turkey. I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren't so lucky, who didn't get to ride the gravy train to freedom, who met their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they weren't chicken.

It's not that bad, now. Come on.


SESAY: Are you sure? I don't know. Might have been that bad. We'll let you be the judge of that.

Thank you for watching. I am Isha Sesay. "WORLD SPORTS" is up next. You're watching CNN.