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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Rash of Iraq Violence; FedEx Advises Mailing Packages Before 23rd

Aired December 19, 2004 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning. This is CNN SUNDAY MORNING, December 19th. I'm Betty Nguyen.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. It is 9:00 a.m. on the East Coast and 6:00 a.m. out west.

We begin with breaking news this morning out of Iraq.

(BREAKING NEWS)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

HARRIS: Again, we begin with breaking news this hour in coverage of what has become a breathtaking spike in violence today throughout Iraq. Car bombings, kidnappings, ambushes, brutal attacks have erupted across the country with various targets and techniques and a growing death toll.

Just minutes ago, we received these startling images from Najaf, the site of the most recent attack. A massive car bomb exploded next to a holy shrine.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Baghdad to bring us up to the minute -- Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you say, Tony, very dramatic pictures coming in now from that attack in Najaf. That's a city just south of Baghdad, the holiest city in Iraq for Iraq's Shia Muslim majority.

It was a car bomb that exploded. It exploded about an hour and a half ago. The car bomber drove into a funeral procession during the burial ceremony of one of the prominent tribal leaders in the district. That we were told by security forces there.

Initially, security forces have told us that they have at least ten people confirmed dead but now there are multiple wire reports suggesting that that death toll has risen dramatically, according to hospital officials.

They're speaking now of at least 30 people killed and at least 65 other people wounded, a mixture of civilians, a mixture of mourners, a mixture of security forces amongst the casualties.

But, as I say, very difficult at this stage to get an exact handle on the number of dead because as we can see from a lot of those pictures there the scene is still absolute chaos.

A CNN journalist on the ground has also said that, very difficult to get accurate information as to who may have been behind this explosion because the immediate task now is getting the dead and wounded to hospitals for treatment and then they will concentrate on investigating who was responsible for this explosion.

Now that explosion in Najaf came about two hours after another explosion in Najaf's sister city of Karbala, a city a few miles away also a holy site for Iraq's Shia majority. A car bomb there exploded by the main bus station and police are told ten people there were killed and 37 others wounded.

And this morning in Baghdad a bloody morning in Baghdad. Election officials were driving through one of Baghdad's main thoroughfares known as Haifa Street. That lies just a few blocks from the Green Zone, which is the headquarters for the U.S. administration and the Iraqi interim government.

Insurgent gunmen dragged those electoral officials from their vehicle and, as we've seen from some very dramatic and disturbing pictures from the Associated Press, these gunmen forced these election officials to kneel in the middle of the street, put guns to their head and then put a bullet through their heads.

In the last few moments, coalition military authorities have said that they believe that one of those dead is a senior electoral commission official and the other two were his bodyguards -- Tony.

HARRIS: Karl, I know you've been asking this question of security officials in Iraq but can you give us any kind of a sense, we know it's Monday there in the country, can you give us any kind of a sense as to why so much violence, why this spike in violence today and over the last couple of days?

PENHAUL: In general terms, Iraqi and U.S. military officials have been warning of a spike in violence as insurgents try to derail preparations for the January 30th elections. I think, though, we are taking a closer look at the situation in Karbala and Najaf, those Shia holy cities, and to see exactly what's going on there.

What we do know in general terms is that Sunni-based resistance groups have accused the Shias of cooperating, collaborating with the coalition by joining in preparations for the elections.

What we also know is that there is group rivalry within the Shia majority because certain factions are supporting the elections and other factions are calling for a boycott of the elections.

So not clear precisely what went on in those two Shia holy cities but in general terms officials here have been warning of a spike in violence to derail the January 30th elections.

What I can also tell you just now, Tony, is that we do have confirmation, CNN has just confirmed from hospital officials in Najaf that we have confirmation of at least 30 people killed in that massive car bomb there about an hour and a half ago.

HARRIS: OK, Karl Penhaul reporting for us this morning from Baghdad on a very, very bloody day throughout the countryside of Iraq, Carl thank you.

NGUYEN: In other news today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that from now on he will personally sign every letter to the family of a service member killed in action. Rumsfeld says he has written and approved more than 1,000 such letters but has not signed each of them individually. During Rumsfeld's tenure 1,308 Americans have been killed in Iraq, 153 were killed in other countries, including Afghanistan.

HARRIS: President Bush's second inauguration will cost at least $30 million and will have a military theme celebrating freedom, honoring service. One new feature will be a commander-in-chief's ball for troops returning from the Mideast. The Pentagon will pass out about 2,000 tickets.

NGUYEN: Losing troops in Iraq is heart-wrenching anytime of year, especially for families and particularly this time of year but there are many stories about U.S. troops coming back with serious and life- altering wounds. The soldiers and Marines are wearing body armor but that still leaves extremities exposed.

And, as Brian Todd reports, armored vehicles are still too far and few between.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From their hospital beds at the National Naval Medical Center, two badly-wounded servicemen lend new perspective in the political battles over body armor and vehicle protection.

Marine Corporal Ryan Groves, 24 years old, his left leg amputated above the knee, just about every bone in his right leg broken.

CPL. RYAN GROVES, U.S. MARINE CORPS: In the blink of an eye, I saw the flash and it hit right behind me.

TODD: October, 17th at a Marine camp outside Falluja, Corporal Groves, a squad leader, is getting ready to greet some newly-arrived Marines. A rocket explodes right next to him. Recalling the attack, he keeps his emotions level until he relates how close he came to dying.

GROVES: Five or ten seconds, you know, later I would have dropped gear and put it in my seat and turned around and walked right toward where the rocket came from, you know.

TODD: So, you came pretty close, you think?

GROVES: Very close.

TODD: A lot of guys like Corporal Groves were treated by Navy Corpsman Joseph Worley. For seven and a half months his job was to patch up and evacuate wounded Marines from the battlefield until one chaotic day in September on a bridge outside Falluja.

Worley is running toward an exploded Humvee. In the span of less than a minute, a roadside bomb explodes next to him, a rocket- propelled grenade tears through his left leg but doesn't explode. He hits the ground and immediately takes five gunshots to both legs. Then he takes over.

CORPSMAN JOSEPH WORLEY, U.S. NAVY: I rolled over and I put a tourniquet on my leg because I was bleeding so bad and I shot myself up with morphine.

TODD: As he shows us a left leg, amputated above the knee, this 23-year-old also shows an incomprehensible spirit.

WORLEY: I realize how close I came to dying and knowing that, you know, if it wasn't for having the presence of God there giving me the strength to do what I needed to do to survive, I wouldn't have been able to come back and be with my wife, my beautiful wife and my daughter that I've not even met yet.

TODD (on camera): Corpsman Worley and Corporal Groves were both wearing body armor at the time they were wounded. Both say they couldn't have survived without it. One of their doctors agrees but says the wounds these servicemen get in their extremities as a result present their own unique problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the wounds are so heavily contaminated usually and there is such massive tissue damage they have to go to the operating room almost immediately after they arrive and then they go back every two to three days for dressing changes and for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) until we think the wound is clean enough to close.

TODD (voice-over): Both these men say their units had plenty of body armor. When we asked if they had enough vehicle armor, a hospital official interrupted each time and wouldn't let them answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I prefer, you know, as far (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to talk about your incident and what happened to you.

TODD: When I asked one wounded serviceman on the ward if his unit had enough vehicle armor he said, "Not even close," meanwhile, just a couple of rooms apart two young men who can't move grateful for what armor they did have.

Brian Todd CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: We've brought you many hero stories from Iraq and we've got an update on one Marine whose story touched a lot of hearts. Remember the Marine who told the military to cut off his finger rather than destroy his wedding ring, only to have the ring lost?

Well, a Los Angeles jewelry store offered Lance Corporal Lance Battle and his wife any ring in their store for free. The Marine is now wearing his new ring on his right hand. NGUYEN: Stories across America now.

A soldier serving in Iraq took time out from his duties clearing roadside bombs to graduate from college. Keith Lucas was part of the ceremony yesterday with his classmates graduating from the University of Missouri St. Louis thanks to a live satellite feed that you see here. Lucas spent his free time in Iraq finishing his last college course. He is scheduled to return home in February.

Scott Peterson's defense attorney has set up a new Web site for his client. Peterson was condemned to die for the deaths of his wife Laci and unborn son Conner. Attorney Mark Geragos is asking for donations to help find the real killers.

And, in central Florida, a sink hole is growing in Deltona. Look at this. It's already gobbled up four lanes of a road and now measures 150-feet wide, yikes. Now it's threatening to swallow up 20 nearby homes and a power line that services some 2,000 more homes.

HARRIS: TIME magazine names its "Person of the Year" and he's certainly a familiar face. Here's a sneak peak at the cover. That's right, the "Person of the Year" is none other than President Bush.

And why the president? TIME says he won a tough reelection campaign despite lower approval ratings and the messy war in Iraq and the magazine says the president stuck to his guns in convincing voters to give him a second term.

NGUYEN: OK. TIME has made its choice. Now it is time for you to make your choice. Our e-mail question of the day, "Who is your personal pick for "Person of the Year"?" Let us know at wam@cnn.com. We'll read those choices on the air.

HARRIS: All right.

You've done the shopping, wrapping and everything in between, so now how you can get your gift to where it's supposed to go on time. We go live to FedEx's super hub in Memphis.

NGUYEN: Plus, it is not too late to buy that last minute present. You may even get a good deal without ever having to hit the mall. Boy, I like the sound of that. We'll tell you how in today's "Best of the Web."

(WEATHER FORECAST)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: He may not be TIME's "Person of the Year" but for children around the world Santa is the man of the hour. We'll take you to the village that receives thousands of letters to the big guy. We'll even read some of them for you. That's coming up on CNN LIVE SUNDAY at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NGUYEN: But first, one of the busiest places south of the north pole on this weekend before Christmas. This holiday nerve center rivals the bustling pace of Santa's workshop. It's the shipping super hub of FedEx, which is in Memphis, Tennessee and it's where we find CNN's Sara Dorsey.

Sara, you wouldn't be trying to slip in any of those packages yourself this morning, would you?

SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I've been taking a look at some of them, haven't seen my name just yet so it's hands off but this is a very, very busy place this morning, Betty, but it's going to be more busy tomorrow even, 4.6 million packages is what FedEx Express is planning on handling tomorrow alone. That's going to be the busiest day for the express unit here.

This is a very impressive facility, very large, 400 acres here and you can see a lot of movement now behind me, many of the people waiting for the planes to come in. There are 600 planes in the FedEx fleet. Many of those are beginning to arrive here at the super hub.

As those come in, packages are unloaded. It takes about only 20 minutes to get those packages off the airplane and then they go inside for sorting so they can make it to their destination by the Christmas holiday, which is what most people are looking at right now.

This is the very first time in many, many years that FedEx has allowed a national broadcast live out of this location and I am here live with Adam Psarianos, also known as Diamond, the vice president here of FedEx.

And we want to first thank you for allowing us here live today and showing us your operations. But, as we're standing out here we've been seeing some snow flurries and we hear that there's going to be storms in the northeast. Tell us how the weather element affects what you all do each day.

ADAM PSARIANOS, FEDEX WORLD HUB: The weather does have a huge impact on our operations. We have our own meteorology department that constantly monitors and updates the weather situation and we have our, what's known as GOC, global operations control. They make the last minute decisions on where and when we route our aircraft.

Bottom line is we always operate under the most safe conditions for our employees. That's the number one priority for our company. Then we will do whatever it takes to get our packages delivered.

DORSEY: OK. So, you'll be keeping an eye on that.

And also what tips can you give to customers in order to get their packages through your process and to the destination on time?

PSARIANOS: My greatest advice would be to ship it as early as possible. We have an extensive portfolio of services that our customers can use. We have a large -- now with our acquisition of Kinko's retail where people can drop off packages but ship it as early as you possibly can to ensure on time arrival.

DORSEY: Great, very good advice, Adam Psarianos, the vice president of FedEx. Thank you for having us again today.

PSARIANOS: Thank you, Sara.

DORSEY: And, Betty, just again to let our audience know, if you are shipping domestically here in the United States, you can have your packages out as late as December 23rd for those to arrive on Christmas; however, if you're going to be sending internationally you need to get those packages to FedEx by tomorrow.

NGUYEN: Tomorrow, OK, send them now.

DORSEY: Right.

NGUYEN: Sara Dorsey in Memphis, Tennessee thanks Sara -- Tony.

HARRIS: Well, here's the question. Is it still called a catwalk if it's elephants that are showing off the latest styles?

NGUYEN: Look at that. What is that? A (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for an elephant?

HARRIS: We'll give you a front row seat to the elephants on parade when CNN SUNDAY MORNING -- oh my.

NGUYEN: Oh, no, look at that shot. Yikes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Oh, look at that shot. Good morning Los Angeles. Angelinos are getting into the spirit at Griffith (ph) Park's light festival. More than 300,000 people attend this annual mile long holiday light display.

HARRIS: What is that music again? That's the Berlin?

NGUYEN: It's Christmas music.

HARRIS: The Berlin Symphony? That's symphonic music. It's the Nutcracker, yes, but it sounds like Manheim, what is it the steamroller people?

NGUYEN: Yes.

HARRIS: OK.

Moving on the world's best known designers usually dress some of the world's best known women but now some of the biggest names in fashion are dressing some of the biggest creatures on earth.

As Jeannie Moos reports, these girls won't be asking does this make me look fat?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNIE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These aren't Christmas balls. They're earrings for an elephant, Chanel earrings. Anyone who's ever tried to dress up a dog will tip their hat to elephants dressed head-to-toe in Chanel or Isaac Mizrahi or Balenciaga, some of the world's top designers. This is sort of like chain.

DENNIS FRIEDMAN, CREATIVE DIR., "W" MAGAZINE: These are chain (UNINTELLIGIBLE) oh yes.

MOOS: Plus size has never been this plus. And the elephants didn't mind?

FRIEDMAN: They had the best time.

MOOS: It was a shoot for a layout called Trump Show in "W" magazine. Photographer and elephant lover Bruce Webber (ph) dreamed up the idea. All the designers got was a set of measurements to work from.

FRIEDMAN: Which was basically the circumference all around the elephant.

MOOS: Dixie here ended up squeezing into a Dolce and Gabbana corset. Women all know how those pesky straps slide off. But the Chanel hat stayed on, even if Rosie dropped her parasol. Their behinds may not have the same appeal as say J.Lo's but Ty (ph) here knows how to shake it.

None of the clothes were eaten?

FRIEDMAN: None of the clothes were eaten.

MOOS: Actually, Ty tried but ended up spitting out here Balenciaga chains opting instead to swing them. Not since Dumbo donned hat and collar have elephants looked so fashionable. Even their feet shod in Manolo Blahniks, "W's" creative director called the shoot a nice break from humans.

FRIEDMAN: Because no one talked back.

MOOS: Mark Jacobs even took the same dress a model wore for his spring collection and expanded it. For a sportier look there was Ralph Lauren.

FRIEDMAN: This was the wet tee shirt shot.

MOOS: A tee shirt featuring the couture-clad elephants is for sale at elephantfamily.org to raise money for elephant conservation. But one thing that wasn't conserved was this pink corset.

FRIEDMAN: And when she took it off it was a sort of striptease.

MOOS: More strip, less tease.

Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Who blames her. Those corsets are too tight anyways.

HARRIS: Where are you going to take this, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: I don't know, Tony, you want to tell me about your corset.

HARRIS: You know stop asking (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MARCIANO: Hey, speaking of big animals.

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: Want to talk about a donkey.

MARCIANO: No.

NGUYEN: The donkey song, there we go. (UNINTELLIGIBLE.)

MARCIANO: Tony, you should know the words by now.

HARRIS: Well, if not, we have a lyrics sheet here.

MARCIANO: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: You do.

HARRIS: I've got a lyric sheet.

NGUYEN: Sing the song. Do the donkey sound.

MARCIANO: I got to do weather.

HARRIS: You got -- exactly.

NGUYEN: When we come back you have to do the donkey sound.

MARCIANO: We'll move on to something better.

(WEATHER FORECAST)

HARRIS: Thirties here you got to shut down the school system and everything else. I mean they freak out.

NGUYEN: No driving on the roadways.

MARCIANO: And if we see a flake of snow I'm curious to see what local news will do with that.

HARRIS: Exactly. All right, we've got something a little added bonus for you here, Rob. Here we go.

NGUYEN: All for you, Rob. HARRIS: The idea was that it was the cue for you to make -- everybody wants to hear you do the -- I tried to spare you but they want to hear you do. Right.

MARCIANO: Right, OK. I don't think it takes much talent to say, to give a donkey sound.

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: But you do it so well.

MARCIANO: Thank you.

NGUYEN: So well (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MARCIANO: Award winning. This will all be submitted to the Emmys.

NGUYEN: We're keeping it real folks, keeping it real.

HARRIS: We are going to check today's headlines and more when CNN SUNDAY MORNING gets its bearings and returns after the break.

NGUYEN: Pull it together.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Firehouses closing across the nation because they're under-staffed. Are budget cutbacks affecting your safety? Welcome back everyone, to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen, that story is coming, but first here's a look at what's happening now the news:

Widespread violence this morning, in Iraq, first in the south central city of Karbala, a car bomb killed at least 10 and wounded 37 others. Hospital sources have just confirmed those figures. The car blew up near the bus station in Karbala.

Two hours later and 50 miles to the south, a suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into a funeral profession in Najaf and blew it up. At least 30 people were killed. The blast was near the Imam Ali Mosque, Shia Islam's holiest shrine.

In downtown Baghdad, near the green zone, gunmen took a car on Haifa Street, dragged the survivors from it, and shot them execution style. It's believed the three victims were election workers preparing for the voting next month.

HARRIS: Lisa Montgomery is expected to make her first of appearance tomorrow in federal court. Montgomery is accused of killing a pregnant Missouri woman and taking her unborn child. The baby girl is said to be in good condition. Sandra Olivas of KCTV has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE WHEATLEY, PASTOR: She was a precious, you know, one of the prettiest babies I've seen for a long time. They always look a little smooshed up and wrinkled and stuff, when they're first born, but -- and all bright red and everything, she was -- this baby was beautiful.

SANDRA OLIVAS, KCTV REPORTER: Pastor Mike Wheatley and his wife are used to welcoming families and their new babies into the church so it wasn't unusual when they got a call yesterday morning from Lisa Montgomery and her husband about stopping by to show off their new baby girl they had named Abigail.

WHEATLEY: We got to hold the baby and just love on it, and she sat there, and just watched us, and commented about the delivery and about how her water broke and my wife asked her where she had it and she said at the birthing center in Topeka and...

OLIVAS: Pastor wheatley says for months, Lisa had everyone including her own husband convinced she was pregnant.

WHEATLEY: She was pretty small and I commented about it and I asked her if she was due -- when she was due and she said she was due in December, and I said well, you're kind of small to be having a baby that soon and she said I always had small babies and so I just let it go at that.

OLIVAS: Investigators say Lisa confessed she went to the home of Bobby Jo Stinnett in Skidmore, Missouri, strangled her from behind and cut the fetus from her womb. Within an hour of the gruesome crime, pastor now says that Lisa's web of deceit was unraveling.

WHEATLEY: She called me at 3:15 in the afternoon on Thursday and wanted to talk to my wife and tell her about baby, and I said, "Well did you have -- do we have a baby yet?" And she said, "CJ's holding it right now."

OLIVAS: The pastor says Montgomery's husband had no idea the baby wasn't his wives. He even brought the newborn here to the town cafe to show her off to friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going around town flaunting a baby to everyone.

OLIVAS: She was known as a good neighboring, a nurturing mother, and a caring Christian woman, now the towns people of Melbourne say it was all a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very psychotic. Just completely insane.

WHEATLEY: We felt betrayed, we were angry, but most of all we're very, very, very are sad.

OLIVAS (on camera): Lisa Montgomery is in the custody of federal authorities in Leavenworth, Kansas, and could face the death penalty.

Reporting for CNN, I'm Sandra Olivas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: The federal prosecutor handling the case tells CNN that his office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. But Todd Graves also says his office has successfully sought death sentences on the same charge facing Montgomery twice in the past three years.

NGUYEN: Now to Maryland and more arrests in the state's biggest residential arson case. First, authorities arrested a security guard, now they've arrested three more men including a volunteer firefighter. They where accused of house fires earlier this month that cost millions of dollars in damage at a newly built subdivision. No word yet on a motive.

HARRIS: Today on "CNN Security Watch": When your life depends on a firefighter will there be one around to rescue you? That question may draw an unnerving answer because several big cities are being hit with huge budget cutbacks. CNN's Alina Cho has the view from Jersey City, New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A normal day for Jersey City firefighters. Engine Company Six responds to a chemical spill. Nothing serious, but the big call could come at any time. Fire chief, Fred Eggers, says that's a problem.

FRED EGGERS, CITY JERSEY FIRE CHIEF: The city of Jersey City was forced to close two companies a day because of a short damage of staffing.

CHO: Jersey City isn't alone. The National Fire Protection Association says two-thirds of the nation's fire departments are understaffed. Places like Cleveland where seven percent of the city's firefighters were laid off this year. Houston, where several fire houses shut down temporarily, and New York City where six fire companies have closed permanently since 2001. Eggers says it's like playing Russian roulette.

EGGERS: It's never a crisis until an incident happens, but the incident can happen at any moment and at any place.

CHO (on camera):: Fire fighters don't just fight fires, they're also first responders, like on September 11, and that only amplifies the problem.

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, INTL. ASSN. OF FIRE FIGHTERS: It's a crisis for them personally, endangering them unnecessarily, and it certainly is affecting the capacity for them to deliver an efficient and effective level of protection for their community.

CHO (voice-over): Take the high-rise fire in Chicago earlier this month, 450 firefighters responded. The windy city was lucky it has full staffing.

SCHAITBERGER: If that fire occurred in another major city in this country where the equipment was only staffed with three firefighters or less, that fire would have been much more difficult to bring under control.

CHO: Congress passed the "Safer Act" in 2003, pledging $7.6 billion over seven years to hire more firefighters, but very little of this money has yet been distributed.

TIM RADUCHA-GRACE, NYU CTR. FOR PREPAREDNESS: Cities, states, counties across the United States, are facing significant budget shortfalls. At the same time they have a significant homeland security burden placed on them, so put them in a tough spot to make some very tough decisions.

CHO: So fire departments, including Jersey City, across the river from "ground zero," will continue to do more with less.

Alina Cho, CNN, Jersey City, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Time now to look ahead at some of the stories that will be making news this week:

On Monday, opening statements in the trial for actor Robert Blake are scheduled to start. He is accused of murdering his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley. The trial has been delayed a number of times and Blake has changed lawyers four times.

In Wednesday, San Francisco's superior court holds a hearing on the constitutionality of a state law that bans same-sex marriage. The suit was filed by the city of San Francisco and gay couples who were denied marriage licenses.

And Friday, Europe's Cassini Spacecraft sends a probe on a 21-day journey toward Jupiter's largest moon, that's Titan. Titan is a major focus of the U.S. and European mission to explore Saturn, among other things. Scientists are trying to figure out if Titan has a solid surface.

NGUYEN: We all want to know that. Well, procrastinators listen up, it is not too late to start your on-line shopping, that is our "Best of the Web" segment coming up.

HARRIS: And, good morning Seattle. Rob will be back with the rest of your weekend forecast coming up this last half hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN SUNDAY MORNING with Betty Nguyen and Tony Harris.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: Checking our top stories now, deadly violence across Iraq. A car bomb in the Iraqi city of Karbala leaves at least ten dead, nearly 40 others were wounded. In the latest attack, a huge car bomb explodes within yards of the holy Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf. At least 30 people were killed in that attack.

Meanwhile, three election workers shot dead by insurgents on Baghdad's Haifa Street in Baghdad. Police say they were killed after gunmen opened fire on their vehicle.

And TIME magazine has chosen President George W. Bush as 2004's ""Person of the Year"." Editors say he reshaped the rules of politics to fit his, quote "10 gallon hat leadership style."

And, we are asking you this morning, who's your pick for "Person of the Year"? We'll read your e-mails a little later this hour, but send them in now to wam@cnn.com

HARRIS: All right, I've been waiting for this segment all morning long. Holiday shopping procrastinators take heart there are, we're told, some great last-minute gifts still out there. And we get that word from Rebecca Hurd of "Wired" magazine. Rebecca joins us live from San Francisco this morning.

Rebecca, good morning.

REBECCA HURD, "WIRED": Good morning, Tony. It sounds like you have's been procrastinating.

HARRIS: I have. So, I'm going to need you to walk me all the way through this process. OK?

HURD: All right, I'll do my best.

HARRIS: All right, let's start with the first site. It's a -- upresents.com (sic).

HURD: That's right. That is an on-line gift delivery notification service, and what that means is that even if you bought your gift late and it's going to arrive a little bit late because you ordered in the mail, you can still send a personalized greeting with it, so that all of the caring that you would have put into a gift you delivered by hand is there. So, you know how when you order on-line, it tends to come in one of those brown paper packages.

HARRIS: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) personal. Maybe your personal note got spit out on a mailing label and it suddenly lost a little bit of its, you know, oomph. This is a way that you can buy through a lot of the partner retailers with Upresent, and then when you're done, you click on the banner ad and go back and you create a little flash animation -- a little e-card that kind of gets your personality back into the gift-giving.

HARRIS: OK, who are some of the retailers that are a part of Upresents (sic)?

HURD: They have quite a few, everything from Home Depot to Hickory Farms, so...

HARRIS: So you can send plywood and some ham.

HURD: Exactly.

HARRIS: If you want to.

HURD: Yes. Beef stick and a chain saw to cut it with.

HARRIS: OK. giftcertificates.com, this is kind of a subtle site. It walks you gently through the gift-giving and buying process. What do you like about this site?

HURD: What I like is -- you know, gift cards, and gift certificates seem to be the rage this year.

HARRIS: Yeah, that's true.

HURD: And at giftcertificates.com, it's sort of a portal to just hundreds of retailers out there, everything from the airlines to individual retail stores. They also have this thing called a "Super Certificate" which is a gift certificate issued by that site and when you buy that, you can use it with any of their retailers, there's no expiration date and choose electronic delivery. So if you are buying in the 11th hour like you, like it sounds like you might be, there, Tony, you can send the gift certificate electronically, so it arrives in their e-mail inbox instead of having to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

HARRIS: Hey, that sounds really good. That sound like a ticket. OK. Is this a -- do I have to join or anything? You know how some of these sites they have these members ship (SIC) fees and you got to join...

HURD: Right, right. Well, you usually do have to give up your name and e-mail address, but there aren't any fees associated with joining the site itself.

HARRIS: Good. Well, there's a fee associated if you want to join this next site, this is californiawineclub.com. It's been around for about 15 years.

HURD: That's true.

HARRIS: What do you like about this site?

HURD: What I like is -- you know, there are gifts that if you are a procrastinator and you're buying at the last minute one of the best ways to not let the person receiving the gift to know you're procrastinating is to buy something that's supposed to arrive later, like, oh say, a magazine subscription or in this case, a wine club. And, what I like about this particular site is that not only do they specialize in California wines, and offer three levels of membership, but they also have one that, even though they're called California Wine Club, it's international and it's small mostly family-run wineries. You can also send one month or 12 months, so you can make the gift as small or as large as you'd like it to be.

HARRIS: OK, Rebecca, tell us about bluefly.com. This thing really looks like a mall on the web.

HURD: It is. It's an outlet store for high-end designers. They claim that they have more than 375 designers at up to 75 percent off. So, if you would rather, say, have red cashmere than a bottle of wine.

HARRIS: Of course I would.

HURD: Then you can go -- well, you know, the men's Helmut Lang sweaters that are normally $750, you can get as low as $300 on this site and if you're sending it as a gift, you can have the price withheld so they'll never know that you saved a bundle and bought it at the last minute. And you can order up to about 6:00 a.m. on the 23rd, which is about as late as most of the on-line retailers are pushing in this year.

HARRIS: So, you can get it done. You can your holiday shopping done. Betty, stop procrastinating, go on-line. Rebecca's given you some great ideas and some great sites that you can visit. Rebecca, good to see you.

NGUYEN: Don't you look at me, you're the one who's procrastinating.

HARRIS: Well, yeah. That's true.

NGUYEN: Yes, save those notes.

HARRIS: I am.

NGUYEN: Well, being Scrooge, no one wants to be accused of that this time of year, but we will introduce you to one man with lots of firsthand experience. You might even call him Ebenezer, when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Hey, good morning Seattle. Get your shopping done and then go catch the musical the "Lion King" on tour at the Paramount Theatre. Rob Marciano is coming up with your Sunday forecast in just about six minutes.

NGUYEN: But right now...

(MUSIC)

NGUYEN: Along with the music, guess who's here? Kelly Wallace is here to give us a preview of what's coming in "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY."

Good morning, Kelly, KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": Good morning, Betty. Coming up here on "Inside Politics Sunday." Can't republicans and democrats just get along? Top message makers from both national committees face-off on the war on terror, Social Security reform and more. Plus President Bush has signed the intelligence reform bill into law, so what's next for the families who lost loved ones on September 11. We'll hear one mother's personal story and her new goals in the year ahead. That's all at the top of the hour. So, Tony, Betty, we hope you watch. And then, of course, you can go do your holiday shopping.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, on-line, as we've learned. Thanks Kelly.

WALLACE: Sure.

HARRIS: Thanks Kelly, see you at the top of the hour.

OK, it's time to get to our e-mail questions, quickly as we can. All morning long we've been asking for your thoughts on the e-mail question: Who would you name? Who is your personal pick for "Person of the Year"? This first e-mail comes from Sandy:

"My pick? The 9/11 Commission. The only people who could stand up to the current administration (and the "Person of the Year".) and win!

NGUYEN: Iris writes: "No matter what your stance on the war in Iraq, I don't think I am mistaken in stating that there isn't a day that goes by in which we don't think about, worry about, weep for and cheer for THE AMERICA SOLDIER."

And, of course, we thank you for all your responses today.

HARRIS: OK, this time of year, it's a sure thing. You will see poinsettias, striped candy canes, fragrant wreaths and decorated trees, it's also certain you can see live on TV or at a movies, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." CNN's Miguel Marquez saw this version of the famed story in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A merry Christmas, Uncle. God save you.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been said countless times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bah, humbug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humbug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humbug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humbug.

MARQUEZ: Stars have done it, cartoon dogs have done it, it's been done on film since 1908; the first talky was in 1938.

(SINGING)

MARQUEZ: Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" in 1843 and perhaps no one knows its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, better than Hal Landon, Jr.

HAL LANDON, JR., ACTOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

Underneath that, you know, is a guy who, as a child -- you know, loved Christmas.

MARQUEZ: For the past 25 years, Landon has played Scrooge for California's South Coast Repertory Theatre.

LANDON: There's lots of ways to play him. And you know, there's the crotchety curmudgeon and the colder, harder, flintier, kind of businessman.

MARQUEZ: However one plays Scrooge, the character and a play hit a cultural chord that has never stopped resonating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No joke, Frank. This is your last chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right I could squeeze you in for a breakfast.

MARQUEZ: Part ghost story morality message. Landon says, what makes "A Christmas Carol" work year after year, is the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge.

LANDON: Absolutely reprehensible, the worst possible miser in the world totally transformed into this kind, loving person.

MARQUEZ: In playing scrooge for a quarter century, Landon has seen his own transformation. Today he needs less makeup.

LANDON: Now, a little whiter on the eyebrows and the temples and a shade or two here and there.

MARQUEZ: Hal Landon, Jr. aging into a part written over 160 years ago. But Dickens' word still able to stir emotions, today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless us all everyone.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: All right, well here's one guy who's never been accused of being a Scrooge. I'm just trying to butter him up, you know

HARRIS: All right, there you go. There you go.

NGUYEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) next weekend. Hey Rob!

MARCIANO: Hey the only time I've never been accused of being a Scrooge is when I'm asleep. HARRIS: That's bad.

(WEATHER REPORT)

MARCIANO: That's the latest from here, Betty and Tony back over to you.

NGUYEN: All right.

HARRIS: You have a good day there, Rob.

MARCIANO: See you guys.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

HARRIS: That's it for us this morning. Thanks for watching. What you say we bring in Christmas together?

NGUYEN: OK. Let's do it.

HARRIS: See you back here next weekend.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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