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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
New Year Celebrations; Heavy Rains Dampen Festivities in California
Aired January 1, 2006 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From Times Square to Atlanta and Seattle, millions gathered nationwide to ring in the new year.
Good morning and Happy New Year, everyone.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Randi Kaye, in for Tony Harris and Betty Nguyen this morning.
We'll have a complete wrap of the night's festivities. But first, a check of the headlines "Now in the News."
Pope Benedict XVI is calling on everyone from individuals to governments to work together towards peace. His appeal came during his New Year's Day greeting to crowds at St. Peter's Square and those attending mass at St. Peter's Basilica. January 1 is the day which the Catholic Church celebrates World Day of Peace.
President Bush's new year message to America is stay the course. In his weekly radio address yesterday, Mr. Bush touted the democratic advances made in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2005, but noted our duties continue in the new year. Domestically, the president highlighted the need to make tax cuts permanent and improvements in the U.S. economy.
Baby Noor begins the new year in a new country. The 3-month-old Iraqi girl who suffers from Spina Bifida arrived in Atlanta late yesterday afternoon. Pediatric specialists say they'll operate on her sometime within the next 10 days as they determine the best course of action.
We'll have much more on her arrival later in the hour.
Nothing like the morning after a big party. Take a look at these live pictures of Times Square in New York City. Hard to believe just a few hours ago hundreds of thousands of partiers braved the cold to watch the famous ball drop. And you know all those people left behind plenty of trash, of course. The early hours of 2006 brought in the cleanup party.
And from Las Vegas, where everything tries to be bigger, we have a new record for the "Guinness" book: the largest simultaneous toast. To accomplish this milestone, it took 200 cases of Chardonnay and 14,000 plastic glasses. Wow.
While much of the nation enjoyed relatively good weather to ring in the new year, it was hit or miss in California, where heavy rains dampened some festivities. The planned fireworks display went on as scheduled in San Francisco. The pyrotechnics lit up the sky and the city's water front much to the delight of thousands who watched.
But further north, the weather became more problematic. In Napa, roughly a thousand homes are flooded as the river rose five feet above flood stage. The heavy rains are blamed for mudslides that closed major thoroughfares and caused delays and detours for would-be revelers.
More from Nicole Chavez from CNN affiliate KXTV.
NICOLE CHAVEZ, REPORTER, KXTV (voice over): It's a lonely road on an interstate typically buzzing with travelers on New Year's Eve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to see Chris Isaak at the Nugget.
CHAVEZ: Those in search of parties in Tahoe and rock concerts in Reno only got the rock part in rare form.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was quite a mess. We had tons of material on the roadway.
CHAVEZ: California Transit is calling it the largest mudslide this area has seen. Soil, boulders, large and small, tumbled onto the westbound lane of I-80, smashing debris all the way to the center divider and on to the eastbound lane.
Mother Nature's moisture at the center of it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had several lakes of water and basically a big mess on our hands.
CHAVEZ: In fact, it was so big, engineers had to initiate an emergency contract and call in construction crews from Reno and Colfax to help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got some really steep slopes with potential unstable debris on the slopes and up above the slopes. So if we do get more water, there's a potential this could happen again.
CHAVEZ: But what some say won't happen again is a New Year's Eve trip in the midst of a storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I bought the chains, I got the tune-up and did the whole nine yards. New lights. And this is my first and my final time. I think we'll just drive back home and light the fireplace.
KAYE: Bonnie Schneider is here now.
I guess the people there seem to be taking it in stride. BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know.
KAYE: But how worried should we be about that Napa River?
KAYE: Thanks, Bonnie, very much.
A new year brings new laws in 2006. Several states are taking actions to protect you from identity theft from mandatory notification when computer files are stolen, to bans on sharing your Social Security card number. But it's at the grocery store you may see the most changes. Until now, you've practically need a chemistry degree to understand food labels.
CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports.
GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For 13-year-old Sam Gilman, grocery shopping is a matter of life and death.
ANDY GILMAN, SAM'S DAD: You want to do the pasta aisle?
SAM GILMAN, HAS SEVERE FOOD ALLERGIES: Yes.
A. GILMAN: OK, let's do pasta aisle.
NURENBERG: Like an estimated 11 million other Americans, if Sam eats the wrong thing, an allergic reaction could make him so sick he could die.
S. GILMAN: I'm allergic to all nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and shell fish.
NURENBERG: So Sam chooses carefully.
S. GILMAN: It's Magic Brownies with raspberry and vanilla.
NURENBERG: And reads labels with excruciating care.
A. GILMAN: Starting at the back?
S. GILMAN: Yes.
I read the labels from the back to the front one word at a time so that I don't miss anything. And I read it two or three times.
NURENBERG: It's a family ritual.
A. GILMAN: You have to rely upon the labels, because that's the only indication you have. Good labeling can save a life. It's as simple as that.
NURENBERG (on camera): But some food labels use words that are hard to understand. On January 1, new labeling requirements demand simplicity when it comes to the eight ingredients that cause 90 percent of allergic reactions: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, nuts, fish, and shell fish.
ANNE MUNOZ-FURLONG, FOOD ALLERGY NETWORK: So instead of ammonium caseinate, you'll see milk. Instead of albumin, you'll see eggs. It will make label reading easy enough for a 7-year-old.
NURENBERG (voice over): But what about those labels that say the product may contain something on the list? Even if it doesn't specifically include the ingredient, it may have been processed in a plant where that ingredient was present.
MUNOZ-FURLONG: So you might have a candy, for example, that is processed on a machinery that had peanuts on it right before they manufactured your non-peanut candy, or vice versa.
NURENBERG: It raises the possibility of cross-contamination.
STEPHANIE CHILDS, GROCERY MANUFACTURES ASSN.: Companies are using the "may contain" statement because we have had feedback from consumers that even the slightest amount of an allergen can cause very negative reaction in a consumer.
NURENBERG: Sam Gilman's dad worries manufactures might use the "may contain" label to protect themselves at the cost of confusing consumers.
A. GILMAN: They're not sure, but they don't want the liability.
NURENBERG: Congress has ordered a study of "may contain" labels to see if they can be made more effective. In the meantime, Sam's label-reading life is getting easier.
A. GILMAN: Salt, basil, onions, carrots, olive oil, tomatoes.
You can have that.
NURENBERG: Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.
KAYE: If you're like most of the CNN SUNDAY MORNING team and rang in the new year with an alarm clock -- yes, it sounds fun, doesn't it -- well, stick around. Later this hour, we'll have more on the sights and sounds of New Year's celebrations from coast to coast.
But first, to Baghdad, where we'll hear from three Iraqi families on what they hope the new year brings them.
And what are your hopes for 2006? E-mail us your thoughts. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll share them throughout the morning.
CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: The world now knows Baby Noor and the story of her rescue by U.S. troops serving in Iraq. But what do you know about the nonprofit agency that's overseeing her medical mission to America? Next hour, we'll tell you about Child Spring and its mission in our "Faces of Faith."
CNN SUNDAY continues in a moment.
KAYE: Checking our top stories this New Year's Day, the cleanup after the party. Work crews are getting rid of the New Year's Eve confetti and trash left behind in Times Square. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the square to usher in 2006.
A search for a missing snowshoer presumed trapped in a Utah avalanche is put on hold due to bad weather. A friend also caught in the avalanche managed to escape and call for help.
Pulling the plug. Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly began shutting down supplies to Ukraine today. The energy giant says Ukrainian officials rejected a Moscow demand that quadruple prices. The dispute raises concerns that European natural gas supplies would be disrupted, too, but the Russians and Ukrainians say it won't.
In Iraq, the new year began much like 2005 ended: violence and car bombings. A total of eight car bombs exploded across Baghdad today. No one died, but 13 people were hurt in the explosions which police believe were directed at them.
On a much lighter note, American troops stationed there got a New Year's Day treat: a visit and performance by American Idol star Diane DeGarmo.
The tradition of making and all too often breaking New Year's resolutions isn't exclusive to the Western world. In Iraq, an entire nation has designed on how to improve while still gripped in violence and transition.
CNN's Jennifer Eccleston has more from Baghdad.
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Retired manager Thimo George has one wish for 2006: "To leave," he says. "To leave Iraq."
For two years, he and his daughter waited for calm to return to his central Baghdad neighborhood, to his country. After two years of bombs and bullets, two years of fretting every time his daughter leaves home, enough is enough. The Christian family is seeking exile in Sweden.
THIMO GEORGE, IRAQI NATIONAL (through translator): It's not an easy choice, but I must make it for the sake of my daughter. ECCLESTON: Thimo leaves with a heavy heart. This is the country of his ancestors and the country of good friends, like neighbor Hussein Sufyan (ph).
Hussein is a trained hospital administrator, but jobs in that sector are hard to come by these days, especially for Sunnis, he says. So he works as a security guard. His wish for 2006...
GEORGE (through translator): A better job, a better opportunity.
ECCLESTON: His mother, Hannah (ph), a different aspiration. "Hussein (ph) needs to get married," she says, "so he can take his mind off of the troubles."
For Rasha, his sister, a defiant New Year's resolution: a message to those who are trying to tear her country apart. "To the terrorists who don't want Iraq to be stable and secure, in 2006 we will stand against you and we will carry on."
It's just down the road that we find the Al-Issawi family, all 18 of them, the bulk under the age of 10. They are a family of poor Shiites who rely on the donations of neighbors, Shiite, Sunni and Christian, to survive. Abbas is the head of household. An army sergeant for 30 years, he lost his job when the Iraqi military was disbanded in 2003. He's yet to see a pension from the Shiite-led government.
For 2006, a longing for unity and a plea to those who can help make that happen.
ABBAS AL-ISSAWI, IRAQI NATIONAL (through translator): My wish is to live together as Iraqis, not as Sunni or Shiite or whatever. My wish is that our newly elected government will bring this in the coming year.
ECCLESTON: One Baghdad neighborhood, three families, three variations of a universal New Year's wish: that the coming year is better than the last.
Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, Baghdad.
KAYE: And that brings us to our e-mail "Question of the Day." What are your hopes for 2006?
Send us your thoughts to email@example.com, and we'll read your responses throughout the morning.
Well, if it looks like a Rose Bowl and smells like a Rose Bowl, then there must be lots of green cash. We'll go beyond the game for the first time this year with our Rick Harrow when CNN SUNDAY continues.
Good morning, Rick. Happy New Year, buddy.
RICK HARROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Good morning. Happy New Year. Wake up! Wake up!
KAYE: Oh, we're awake. We'll be right back with you.
KAYE: We want to bring you now some news just in to CNN. We have confirmed -- CNN is confirming that Prime Minister -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo a heart procedure coming up on Thursday.
As you may recall, he suffered a minor stroke just a couple weeks ago. He lost consciousness temporarily as he was rushed to a hospital in Israel. He was overnight there in that hospital.
There was some concern about his weight. And we are learning now, and confirming today, that he will undergo a heart procedure likely related to that minor stroke that he suffered a couple of weeks ago on Thursday.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. And, of course, we will keep you updated on that story. So keep it tuned to CNN.
Now let's get a quick check on the weather from Bonnie Schneider.
KAYE: When talking about the biggest sporting events in America, you have to put this year's Rose Bowl right up there with the World Series, the Masters, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. ABC expects more viewers to watch this match-up between number one USC and number two Texas than any other BCS game. The economic impact of Wednesday's game is expected to be tremendous on the southern California area.
We're going to take a look at those numbers this morning with the author of "When The Game Is On The Line" and CNN sports business analyst Rick Horrow, who joins us from West Palm Beach, Florida.
So, is the draw the Rose Bowl, or is it because this whole thing is going to decide a national championship?
HARROW: Well, Randi, Happy New Year again to everybody.
KAYE: Happy New Year.
HARROW: Everybody better wake up and listen to this, because you're going to be thinking about football for the next three days. It's a $4.5 to $5 billion business, this college football. And the 20 bowl games that are behind us are nothing compared to the eight that are coming in the next three days, which includes a $200 million payout to the schools and four BCS games and the national championship on Wednesday in Pasadena, southern California, and Texas, as we know.
The Rose Bowl has been the most financially successful bowl over the last hundred years. But this year, its success depends less on the Southern California Trojans and more on the Texas Longhorns.
HARROW (voice over): It will be the third year in a row that the University of Southern California has played in a national championship game. A fact not lost on the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
USC's success is a big part of the sports industry that accounts for an economic impact of almost $3 billion on the state. But ironically, it's not USC's participation in this year's game that makes the biggest difference.
Most USC fans are what's called day-trippers, people who live in the Pasadena area. And don't expect them to spend tons of money on Rose Bowl activities and hotel rooms.
The real economic boost comes from rabid Longhorns fans. The eyes of Texas, in fact, are on California. And here's why Pasadena loves those loyal Longhorns.
Texas was in the Rose Bowl last year, and more than 40,000 fans made the trip from the Lone Star State. The Longhorns were allotted 20,000 tickets, yet they sold 28,000 last year.
A survey shows 51 percent of the Texas fans have household incomes of $50,000 or more. And 67 percent have college degrees.
The school has an athletic budget of $82 million, and 80 percent of that revenue comes from the University of Texas football team. And just like last year, the request for tickets from the Lone Star's fans far exceeds the Longhorn allotment. Expect the chance of (INAUDIBLE) horns to fill the streets of Pasadena.
HARROW: Well, you know, it's interesting, because you've had 20 bowls already, and more than half have been upsets. So here's the advice: get out of bed, take some Alka-Seltzer, and key up for tomorrow and the next day.
For me, there's been 112 hours of total bowl programming, by the way. And 32 of the best hours are yet to come.
So guess where I'm going?
KAYE: I bet. You're going. Where are you going?
HARROW: I'm going to the Rose Bowl, and I'll be there Wednesday. So I'll report back to you next week.
KAYE: Good for you. Well, Happy New Year, Rick.
HARROW: Happy New Year, Randi. Talk to you soon.
KAYE: Good to see you today. Thousands of miles from home and now in the care of medical specialists. We'll update you on Baby Noor's arrival in the United States.
And later, it's a good bet that you're not thinking about the 2006 midterm elections this morning. But some people are. Really. We'll take a closer look at what's on the line inside the Beltway when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.
KAYE: This just in once again to CNN. We are updating the condition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
We are confirming he is expected to undergo a heart procedure on Thursday. That procedure is known as a heart catheterization, and it is to repair a small hole in his heart. That would be to prevent future blood clots, according to doctors.
You may recall, he suffered a minor stroke back on December 18. This apparently, the hole that needs to be sealed, is measuring about one to two millimeters, and it's a minor birth defect, believe it or not, found in about 15 to 25 percent of the general population.
So, once again, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo that procedure on Thursday to have that hole in his heart sealed.
Californians are bracing for more bad weather today after a strong storm dumped a deluge of rain Saturday. Parts of northern California saw as much as seven inches of rain causing flooding, mudslides, power outages and road closings. One man was killed by a falling tree and authorities rescued several other people from fast- rising waters. Bonnie Schneider has your complete forecast coming up.
Just four months removed from hurricane Katrina, New Orleans celebrates the new year with Arlo Guthrie and company. It was a bit foggy to clearly see the gumbo pot drop, but plenty of people turned out to party in the French quarter. Many in the big easy, including Mayor Ray Nagin are glad to put the year 2005 behind them.
The New Year brings new government policy and frustration for American senior citizens. Many are trying to decipher the new Medicare prescription drug benefits; 42 million seniors are eligible, but few fully understand the entire program. The government subsidized drug plan is Medicare's biggest expansion in its 40 years of existence.
A new year and a new chance at life for a three-month-old Iraqi girl. Baby Noor has arrived in the U.S. and is being evaluated for surgery in Atlanta. Noor suffers from spina bifida, a potentially life threatening birth defect.
Soldiers from the Georgia National Guard discovered the infant in Iraq and undertook a mission of mercy. Chris King has more on baby Noor's journey for survival.
CHRIS KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baby Noor, on the first leg of her journey toward a second chance at life. Her father and grandmother on board the flight with a little girl from Iraq with a life threatening birth defect. Their faces obscured out of fear of retaliation by insurgents once they're back home. As the plane crossed the Atlantic, her family, never before having left their home country, prayed anxiously, awaiting a critical operation that could save her life. Noor and her family arrived at the Hartsfield Jackson international airport in Atlanta.
They were greeted by a sea of journalists and the baby girl was whisked away in an ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation. Doctors say Noor has what appears to be a severe form of spina bifida. Her spinal cord never closed completely. When she was born, doctors in Iraq gave Noor only 45 days to live. She's now three months old. Without surgery, doctors say she would have died. Doctors with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta say if treated in time, Noor has a good chance of survival.
DR. ROGER HUDGINS, CHILDREN'S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA: My hope is that this child will, number one, be intellectually and cognitively normal.
KING: Soldiers with the Georgia National Guard found Noor when they raided her parents' home in Abu Ghraib looking for insurgents. Instead, they found a family pleading for help and the baby girl clinging to life. Lieutenant Jeff Morgan and other members of Charlie company knew they had to act. So Morgan contacted friend in Atlanta, Debbie Stone, for help.
DEBBIE STONE, FRIEND OF LT. JEFF MORGAN: Lieutenant Morgan is a good friend of mine and he had e-mailed me back in the middle of December to let me know about baby Noor and asked me to see what I could do to help.
KING: Stone connected with an organization called Child Spring International, a nonprofit group that transports sick children to the states. With their help, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta offered their facilities. Dr. Roger Hudgins, who specializes in spina bifida, offered to perform surgery on baby Noor for free.
HUDGINS: We just happened to get a phone call from the hospital asking me if I would participate and be involved.
KING: Spina bifida affects nearly 2,000 babies born in the U.S. each year. In Noor's case, doctors say her spinal cord's protective covering and nerves appear to be protruding through an opening. The neurological damage that can come from Noor's disease include paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control, and severe learning disabilities. And those aren't her only challenges. Little Noor's journey has been fraught with danger. Deadly violence surrounded her every day in Iraq as U.S. soldiers battle insurgents. Her family fears reprisal if they're seen getting help from Americans. And getting passports and visas for the family was difficult. Even now, the long-term outlook for Noor is unclear. Doctors tell CNN they'll examine her over the next several days to determine when or if her health is stable enough for surgery. The operation, they say, will take three hours. But the benefits, if she's lucky will pay off for a lifetime. Christopher King, CNN, Atlanta.
KAYE: And we'll have much more on baby Noor's trip to the U.S. in our 9:00 a.m. Eastern hour when we speak with Curtis Compton (ph). He's the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" photographer who's been traveling with the Iraqi girl and her family. Again, that story at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Well, now that it's 2006 and the clock is ticking, consider this. There are just 320 days until the congressional midterm elections. And while we don't usually see fireworks in November, this year we might. We'll explain coming up.
And speaking of fireworks, check these out. This was the great acorn drop from Raleigh, North Carolina. We'll have more of the New Year's Eve festivities just a bit later. Stay tuned to CNN SUNDAY MORNING."
KAYE: And that, of course, brings us our e-mail question of the day, what are your hopes for 2006? Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you and we'll read your responses throughout the morning.
There's our CNN crew, hard at work. We've heard a lot about the Bush administration being under fire for its top secret domestic wire tapping program which isn't so secret anymore. Now the "New York Times"' own public editor is criticizing how the "Times" handled the story, especially the timing of it. On the heels of 9/11, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans in the U.S. without court approved warrants. The "Times" first broke the story last month, but top "Times" editorial people admit they knew about the program a year ago. The "Times" explains the White House pressured them to kill the story because some of the information could be useful to terrorists.
The "Times" public editor Byron Calame writes in today's paper, "the most obvious and troublesome omission in the explanation was the failure to address whether the "Times" knew about the eavesdropping operation before the November 2, 2004, presidential election. That point was hard to ignore when the explanation in the article referred rather vaguely to having delayed publication for a year. To me this language means the article was fully confirmed and ready to publish a year ago, after perhaps weeks of reporting on the initial tip and then was delayed."
With a midterm election on the horizon, 2006 it's going to be a critical year for Republicans and Democrats. But right now, it's anybody's guess which party voters will favor. CNN's Tom Foreman looks ahead.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope the world is more peaceful. I hope democracy continues to take root around the world. I hope people are able to find jobs.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush offering high hopes for the New Year. But many members of his party have been wringing their hands about 2006. They fear Mr. Bush's political problems and slumping poll numbers will bring them down on Election Day. But our new poll suggests at this stage of the game, the two parties are heading into more of a horse race than some might think. Republicans now have a 45 percent approval rating in the CN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. That's actually up five points from October, despite Mr. Bush's fall and early winter blues. And Democrats have lost ground in the last couple of months. The party's approval rating now stands at 46 percent, down six points from October. So much for a Democratic groundswell, amid public concerns about the war in Iraq.
SEN. HARRY REID (D) MINORITY LEADER: The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice.
FOREMAN: Democrats have also been trying to make questions about Republican ethics stick, with indicted Congressman Tom DeLay as their poster boy. Based on our survey, some Americans have yet to focus on the campaign finance allegations against the former House majority leader. While DeLay's favorable and unfavorable ratings fall along lines you might expect, look at this. More than a third of Americans aren't sure what to make of DeLay. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
KAYE: With more on politics past, present and future, we're joined by author and Democratic strategist Victor Kamber and Republican strategist and author, Ron Christie. Christie is a former White House aide. His new book "Black in the White House" hits the shelves this week. Welcome to both of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, happy New Year.
KAYE: Thank you and happy new year to both of you. Victor, let's start with you. What were some of the high points and the low points would you say for the administration this past year?
VICTOR KAMBER, AUTHOR, "POISON POLITICS": The only high point I can think of was his inauguration back in January of '05 and it's been downhill for Americans ever since. We have an administration that I think lost focus, appointed a bunch of cronies to office from the cabinet on down or up, as it may be. We have economic problems, the war in Iraq. On Friday, we hit 841 Americans have lost their lives, just four less than lost their lives in 2004 in a year that we've understood Iraq was back into calmness or some form of stability. We have an administration that has an ethical problem, moral compass problems. Republicans, too much power, frankly, forgot while why they were elected. The Delays, the Cunninghams, the Neys, the Abramoffs. We have an administration that's a rudder. And frankly, I can only hope for the country that 2006 is better. I know for the Democrats, it will be a good year.
KAYE: All right, let's give Ronald a chance here to weigh in. How would you rate the administration's job I guess this past year on a scale of one to five and do you see any high points?
RON CHRISTIE, "BLACK IN THE WHITE HOUSE": Well, Randi, I think the administration had a great 2005. The rudder of the ship is very very firmly putting a steady course for Americans. The American economy right now is the strongest that it's been in decades. The unemployment rate is lower. The homeownership rate is at its highest levels right now. Americans consumer confidence is on the rise and Americans feel that the country is going in the right direction. I think the president of the United States has shown steady leadership. The Iraqis have gone to the polls three times. A year ago, we looked at Saddam Hussein, we looked at uncertainty in Iraq and I think the Iraqis have turned the corner and they now are taking control of their country. So rather than saying that the United States is having problems steering the ship of state, I would say President Bush is doing an excellent job of doing what he said he was going to do, which was to strengthen the American economy, to fight and win the war on terrorism and to make sure that all Americans, regardless of their race, their ethnicity or their income, have the same protections, equal justice under the law for all.
KAYE: And Victor, tell me just briefly, how you think the midterm elections will shake out for both parties.
KAMBER: Well, I think it's much too early. I really do believe that this is going to be much more of a national election than we've seen, much like '94 was for Republicans. I think the American public is going to say enough pox on your house, Republicans. We have a president that is intellectually challenged. He does not want ideas. He wants you to think like he thinks or there's no way to think at all. I think the American public in '06 is going to vote Republicans out of office.
CHRISTIE: And I would say Randi that we have a Democratic party that is intellectually challenged. The Democrats continual to run on no agenda. All they do is attack. All they do is try to put people down. The Republican party and President George W. Bush continue to go to the American people to lay out the stakes, lay out the claims as to why we need to have a strong economy, why we need to win and continue to fight the war on terrorism. And that's why I think the Republicans going into 2006 will do well, because the Republicans continue to lay out a strong message of vision. The Democrats continue to attack and to put people down.
KAYE: Is there anything -- Victor, go ahead.
KAMBER: If I may say, Republicans are going to have to get together. Right now they don't agree with each other. I mean, the Harriet Miers loss of the Supreme Court was not because the Democrats disagreed with her although they did. It's because Republicans disagreed. This whole eavesdropping issue, the civil liberties issues. It's Republicans that are raising as much of a stink as the Democrats are. So it's not a party united. It's a president who believes you have to think like him or you're out of step. I'm saying this president is intellectually challenged. He doesn't understand that there are different thoughts.
CHRISTIE: It's nice to know, Victor, for someone who's never worked for the president of the United States, that you can make such a statement. And that's exactly what I'm talking about. The Democrats -- excuse me, sir, I used to work in the White House for the president of the United States.
KAMBER: I understand that. (INAUDIBLE) He works for us.
CHRISTIE: I didn't cut you off, so thank you. Excuse me, I didn't cut you off. My point being, I just wish that the Democratic Party, a once great party, filled with ideas and hope and optimism, I hope Randi, going into the 2006 election cycle, the Democrats can get their act together and come up with a consistent message and a positive theme for the American people. But yet and still that's what the Republicans have done and that's what the Republican party will continue to do. We must do all that we can to fight and win the war on terrorism while making sure that we have economic security here at home.
KAYE: Do you think there's anything Victor that the president can do to improve his sluggish approval ratings?
KAMBER: Sure. He needs to clean his -- clean out the White House. He needs some new staff around him. He needs new people with ideas and he needs to listen to both parties. He needs to listen to his own party and he needs to listen to Democrats. You know, the biggest fear I have is that not 2005 was a failure, but that we have three more years of this man as president of the United States and because we have three more years, I would hope he does get his act together for the sake of America (INAUDIBLE). Please clean house.
CHRISTIE: My last word is that I'm very confident and I look forward very much to 2006. I think what the president will do is continue to lay out his message of why it's important than we are fighting the war on terrorism, why it's important that we continue to stay in Iraq and we get our job done there, but at the same time the president's is going to continue to reach out to all Americans to get new ideas and make sure that this administration reflects the best of the American society.
KAYE: Thank you Ronald Christie, Victor Kamber for your time this morning and for your thoughts of course on both sides of the issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy New Year.
KAYE: Happy New Year both of you. Still to come on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, oh, yeah and you'll feel good too when we recap the night of music, fireworks and partying in the big apple. Anderson Cooper rings in the New Year on CNN with a little help from his friends.
KAYE: CNN's Anderson Cooper welcomed 2006 with a giant Times Square party. For those of you who slept through it or partied elsewhere or just want to see it all over again, here's a look at the best of how Anderson brought in the New Year right here on CNN.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Times Square, New York City, USA, warming up for tonight's big countdown. We're about to close out one year of our lives and welcome a new one. It may be 33 degrees outside, but we're here for a nice, cozy party with 700,000 of my closest friends to say good bye to 2005. We got celebrations all around the country from Times Square in New in York. Let's head first down south to our first music performance of the night, ladies and gentlemen, Bare Naked Ladies.
Right now, we bring you the godfather of soul, James Brown.
Other cities across the nation have their own, shall we say, special ways of ringing in the New Yea. John Zarrella is standing by in Key West, Florida. John, are they ready for 2006 in Key West?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're ready here, Anderson. Hey, Sushi how are you, Sushi?
COOPER: Michael Bloomberg, Wynton Marsalis, members of the New York City fire department and police department all have their hands. They've begun to lower the ball. Five, four -- Kool and the Gang is standing by ready to celebrate.
It's got to be kind of a bittersweet time for you here to be amidst this celebration and yet to know New Orleans is still so in so much pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know it's your spirit, you don't mind being down.
COOPER: Here's the question. When does a country song turn into rock? The answer, when it comes from Brooks & Dunn. We've been drinking here in the master control. Let's go back to Chicago, let's look at the fireworks there.
KAYE: They had a pretty good party in Times Square last night with Anderson. You and I, I'm glad we got to see it, because we were both asleep long before midnight.
SCHNEIDER: How about that Key West party. That was pretty wild.
KAYE: John Zarrella looked like he was having fun down there. We want to thank you all for writing in to us this morning. We were asking you this morning, what are your hopes for 2006? And we've gotten a bunch of e-mails. Bonnie, want to share one?
SCHNEIDER: This is from Jim A in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My hopes for 2006, bring our men and women home from Iraq. More peace in that region of the world, a more stable U.S. economy, better paying jobs for all Americans and a better united America. Happy New Year to you all. Happy New Year to you too.
KAYE: Very nice and this one is from Dave S. He writes, my biggest hope for 2006 is to see the United States shock the world and win the world cup in Germany this coming summer. That would be awesome - one more.
SCHNEIDER: Right. Tonya, in Maryland, I hope that her boyfriend is not listening to this one. My hopes for 2006 are to tolerate my boyfriend. He's overbearing, but my heart belongs to him.
KAYE: That is a committed woman, right there. Well, thanks again and continue to send us your e-mails. Once again, what are your hopes for 2006? You can e-mail us at email@example.com. So when those folks are e-mailing us leave their computers, they're going to check out outside. What are they going to find?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we're getting ready for another storm coming to the west coast. Let's go take a look at the map. You'll find that that moisture is already working its way in, especially towards Washington and Oregon state. We're watching for some heavy rain for southern California this time actually with the storm. As we look ahead, we're seeing just the rain coming into northern California at this hour.
But later today and into tonight, watch out Los Angeles. You'll be looking at some heavy downpours of rain. This is a future cast and it actually shows you where we're expecting the heaviest rain, this time areas south that really haven't seen the rain. So we'll have some treacherous travel later on tonight and into tomorrow. In the northeast, waking up for this new year to some cold temperatures. It's pretty chilly in Albany at 23 degrees. Boston had some snow yesterday, temperatures there in the 20s as well. New York City waking up or maybe not waking up after a big celebration in Times Square. The current temperature there is 34. We're watching for the precipitation to push off to the northeast. It should be a nice day in parts of the northeast. But the biggest area we're watching for this threat of strong weather system is actually the threat of fire weather into Texas and Oklahoma. Randi, this is going to be a tricky situation because of some strong, gusty winds. We'll be monitoring this throughout the day today.
KAYE: OK, thank you Bonnie. The next hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING begins in a moment.
We now know the day Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo surgery. It's this Thursday. You'll recall last month Sharon suffered a stroke. That's when doctors noticed a small hole in his heart. Doctors hope the Thursday procedure will prevent future blood clots. The New Year started off with more attacks in Baghdad today. A series of eight car bombs exploded, wounding more than a dozen people. The bombs went off within a span of several hours across the city. Most of them detonated when police patrols were nearby.
The pope's appeal to the world in 2006 is to seek peace and truth. This morning in his first New Year's message from the Vatican, Benedict XVI urged the U.N. to promote justice and solidarity across the globe. The pope says many parts of the world are now facing threats to peace, including terrorism and what he calls fanatic fundamentalist.
2006 is starting off wet and dangerous for northern Californians. Forecasters warn another storm will come through today. Thousands have no electricity after yesterday's storm, which also spawned severe flooding and some mudslides. Several people had to be rescued from rushing water. At least one person was killed.
Baby Noor is now in a hospital in Atlanta awaiting potentially life saving surgery for a severe birth defect. The Iraqi child's doctor, who's performing the surgery for free, says an early evaluation shows Noor is in good condition. He says the operation should occur within ten days.
Coming up, we'll talk with the head of the faith-based group that helped get Baby Noor to the United States.
Good-bye 2005 and hello 2006. Celebrations kicked off the New Year all the way from Times Square to Las Vegas, and we've got all the highlights. Good morning. And happy New Year from the CNN Center in Atlanta I'm Randi Kaye in for Tony Harris and Betty Nguyen. Thanks for being with us.
In San Francisco, singer-songwriter John Mayer helped revelers get in the mood for 2006. And in New York City, hundreds of thousands watched the Waterford crystal ball drop while 2,000 pounds of confetti rained from the sky. Here are more sights and sounds from New Year's events across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED REVELERS: Three, two, one. Bust it. Happy New Year.
UNIDENTIFIED REVELERS: Three, two, one. Happy New Year.
UNIDENTIFIED REVELERS: Happy New Year, 2006 in New Orleans.
KAYE: And all that partying and celebrating brings us to our e- mail question of the day. What are your hopes for 2006? Be sure to send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. And throughout the morning, we will read your responses.
Many Californians are ringing in the New Year with sandbags and evacuation notices. In northern California, residents are getting ready for another storm, one day after being hit with more rain than the region can handle.
CNN's Kareen Wynter is in California.
KIM WEIGANT, STORM VICTIM: Are you sure you've got it? That TV's really heavy?
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cleaning up quickly after the storm, before the second one hits.
WEIGANT: It was pretty scary. This is the first time I've been through anything like this.
WYNTER: Kim Weigant had covered her home with tarp, lined the borders with sandbags. It wasn't enough. The first floor was flooded with eight inches of water, but this Napa resident has a bigger headache.
WEIGANT: You know, like I said, big huge plants I had all the way, probably about two blocks up, we're finding stuff in our back yard that doesn't even belong to us.
WYNTER: Irene Ecker and her neighbors were also blasted with the torrential rain that battered Northern California and flooded the Napa River. A Pacific storm that turned streets into streams, stranding motorists who had to get around by boat. Ekker says this is the worst flooding she's seen in decades.
IRENE ECKER, STORM VICTIM: The water kept rising. It was going over four feet out front and we just gave up.
WYNTER: While some residents stayed put at home, despite a voluntary evacuation order, others ventured out and tested the strong currents of the Napa River. Emergency crews had to rescue this stranded biker. To the west in Marin County, a Swift Water Rescue team had to pull an elderly woman from her sunroof. Her vehicle stuck in several feet of water. This resident in Sacramento was also airlifted to safety when the swift current pushed her truck off road.
KAYE: Wow. That is a lot of water out there that those people are dealing with. What is the weather going to be like for them today?
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, currently at this hour, it's not bad. But a second storm is coming through this afternoon and tonight and it's likely to bring a lot of rain. This time a little further south.
Let's go to the radar picture now and we'll show you that so far so good for San Francisco, San Jose this morning. But that doesn't mean we won't see rain later today. You can just see the beginnings of storm number two, or should I say, storm number four. We've had a series of these storms throughout the week. But this one already brings some of the rain as it works its way further into the east. These storms coming right off the Pacific.
As we look in our rainfall forecast, and look into the future, what's interesting this time is, look at this band of heavy rain on its way for Southern California.
And this is an area, especially in Ventura County, which was damaged by the brush fires not too long ago, not that much brush, not that much terrain to go through. So when you get a blast of rain or just heavy amounts of water coming down in a fast period of time, we're likely to see flash flooding.
And there is a flash flood watch right now for Southern California and towards Sacramento. We're looking at flood warnings, especially in the smaller streams and rivers in the area.
KAYE: All right. Thank you, Bonnie.
And let's take a minute to get you caught up on stories making news across America.
The search for a Utah snowshoer lost in an avalanche has been postponed. Searchers say the weather is just awful and conditions are extremely unsafe. Heavy snow is falling, increasing the threat of more snow slides. Another snowshoer rode out the avalanche yesterday and called for help.
Not home yet. That's the word from the Florida parents, whose teenage son ran off to Iraq without their permission. Sixteen-year- old Ferris Hassan was in Kuwait the last time his family talked with him. The teen was apparently unaware he had created such an international stir.
It is the first day of the New Year and one of the first things on President Bush's agenda today, visiting wounded soldiers. Bush arrived at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, the day after Christmas. Later today he will visit Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is also in Crawford. She joins us now with a look ahead.
Happy New Year, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, happy New Year, Randi. And, of course, we're up early. You're up early as is the president.
He is going to be leaving fairly soon. He's going to the Brooke Army -- of course, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. That's where he's going to be visiting with wounded soldiers, as well as awarding Purple Hearts.
The president does this, of course, from time to time. It is typical. But it's particularly important this time of year.
The president setting out his New Year's agenda, his priorities. One of them, of course, being the U.S. mission in Iraq. That critical six-month period after the elections of the Iraqi people to see just how that pans out, how that plays out. The hope is, of course, that they will gain politically and the insurgency will weaken.
This also comes at a time when the president laid out his own New Year's resolution, that resolution being, he says, to continue to work tirelessly for peace abroad and prosperity at home.
That is also another message that you're going to hear, Randi, in the weeks to come. The president talking about the strength of the economy here at home -- Randi.
KAYE: And Suzanne, what else is on tap for the president's New Year's agenda in the more immediate future?
MALVEAUX: Well, sure. This week he has a busy schedule. On Monday, nothing on the public schedule, but after that it is pretty full. And again, it's reflective of his priorities.
On Tuesday, he is meeting with top officials dealing with the Patriot Act. Of course, that has to be renewed in February, so he's meeting with officials at the Roosevelt Room.
On Wednesday, he is making a speech on the global war on terror at the Pentagon.
Then on Thursday, he is actually going to be participating in a meeting with current as well as former defense and state secretaries on the war on terror.
And then Friday, he wraps up the week in Chicago. The Board of Trade talking about the strength, the strong economic numbers. So a busy week ahead for the president, for all of us, of course.
KAYE: Certainly sounds like it. Suzanne Malveaux live in Crawford, Texas for us this morning. Thank you.
MALVEAUX: Thank you.
KAYE: The New Year brings new hope for an Iraqi infant fighting for her life. One group helped make it possible. I'll speak to one of her Guardian Angels coming up.
And words banished from 2006 for misuse, overuse and general uselessness. We'll tell you what you can't say ahead on "CNN SUNDAY MORNING."
KAYE: The little girl, who captured the hearts of U.S. troops, has ended a big journey from Baghdad to Atlanta. But she still has a long road ahead of her. Coming up at 9:00 am eastern, I will speak with the photographer that traveled with Baby Noor on her incredible voyage.
KAYE: If you're just waking up with us, here's a quick look at our top stories. It took nearly a whole day, but finally its 2006 all around the world. Take a look at how some U.S. cities rang in the New Year. There was the ball drop, the peach drop and other creative drops and, of course, the fireworks, the parties and this morning the hangovers.
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Pace, seen in these file pictures, spent New Year's Eve in Iraq. He gave a pep talk to Mosul and Baghdad, thanking them for their service.
Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly began shutting down supplies to Ukraine today. The energy giant says Ukrainian officials rejected a Moscow demand that quadrupled prices. Russia assures Western Europe the obstruction won't affect its supplies.
In our "Faces of Faith" this morning, children who suffer and the people who reach out to help them. Faith-based groups try to get much-needed medical care to kids around the world.
One of them is Childspring International, and this weekend, Childspring is all about Baby Noor. The organization helped get the 3-month-old Iraqi girl to Atlanta this weekend where she will undergo a potentially life-saving operation.
Childspring's Executive Director Rose Emily Bermudez is here to tell us more.
Good to see you. Happy New Year.
ROSE EMILY BERMUDEZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHILDSPRING INTERNATIONAL: Thank you so much. Happy New Year to you.
KAYE: Thank you. And what a wonderful way to start the New Year. First tell us how Baby Noor is doing after her long trip here?
BERMUDEZ: She's doing great. They went home last night and she's resting. So I hope they had a wonderful good night living with the family where they are staying.
KAYE: And the doctor who's performing this surgery for free has looked her over. He says she's doing well.
BERMUDEZ: Yes. Yes.
KAYE: And we may even expect the surgery within about a week or so, is that what you're hearing as well?
BERMUDEZ: We hope so. Yes, we hope so. I think that they're going to do an MRI and just make sure that, you know, what the real problem is and how bad the problem is before they make a decision.
KAYE: Tell us about Childspring International, because it is your group, which you co-created?
KAYE: That actually was working behind the scenes to bring Baby Noor here to Atlanta.
BERMUDEZ: Correct. Correct. Childspring International's vision began out of personal mission work around the world. And we just, you know, as people of faith, we saw the need to help children around the world.
And so with that guide in mind, we resolved to respond to the needs of the children around the world and to offer opportunities for a better life.
KAYE: How does it work exactly? How do you match -- you would find or hear about a sick child, like in the case of Baby Noor, and then match them with a doctor or hospital? How does that work?
BERMUDEZ: We have a process that we follow very carefully. We have our requirements. We begin the process. It's almost like a big puzzle that you take the pieces, and they're all apart, and you don't know how they're going to be put together, you know. But you just begin to find the pieces one by one.
KAYE: How did you hear about Baby Noor?
BERMUDEZ: We found Baby Noor, we found out about her through Jeff's (ph) personal friend from a church in Douglasville, Shepherd of the Hill. She's a member of that church. And she just called and asked me if the organization would be willing to help in this case. And so we began connecting with Children's Health Care of Atlanta with whom we have many other children we partner.
KAYE: And is it also Childspring who arranges for host families? And how does that work, just even given the language barrier and cultural differences?
BERMUDEZ: Yes. We become the legal guardians altogether, financially speaking as well as for the life of the child, and everything that goes with that package. Childspring, our goal is to heal the whole child. We do that physically by medical treatments, emotionally by -- to the host families that we find, and on the unconditional love that they give and also the caring community that is behind all of that.
KAYE: And is everything paid for through donations?
BERMUDEZ: Most of it.
KAYE: We know the surgery is being done for free by the doctor.
BERMUDEZ: The surgeries and the doctors are donated and we support the whole -- the rest of everything.
KAYE: So when you look at the pictures of this darling little baby coming home on the airplane and now in the airport here in the United States, and you think about that, really your group, which you co-created, has given her this second chance at life. How do you feel about that?
BERMUDEZ: You know, I've been doing this for many, many years, and I thought I was a strong person and I have had many very difficult cases, but I think that the emotional aspect of having a child, and our first child from Iraq, was just an addition to the whole puzzle. It was very emotional and very inspiring and just very beautiful, to see all the people that were involved, Senator Chambliss' office, and members of the church in Douglasville, Shepherd of the Hill.
KAYE: And the Georgia National Guard who actually found her.
BERMUDEZ: Exactly. The members of Childspring International, and Dr. Hudgins and Board of Directors from Childspring were there.
KAYE: So many people.
BERMUDEZ: Just to see everybody being a part and really praying, making sure that everything was going to be correct and having the airport and Delta Airline, everybody working with us, was just real important for us to do and do it right.
KAYE: Very special. All right.
BERMUDEZ: Very special.
KAYE: Thank you so much for the work you're doing and bringing Baby Noor here and for starting Childspring International.
BERMUDEZ: Thank you. Well, thank you so much.
KAYE: Good to see you and happy New Year.
BERMUDEZ: I appreciate it very much.
KAYE: Thank you.
And we'll be sure to bring you much more on Baby Noor's long journey. CNN has been showing you the latest photos of Noor and in our next hour, we'll talk with the man behind them, "Atlanta Journal Constitution" photographer Curtis Compton live in our 9:00 eastern hour of CNN "SUNDAY MORNING."
With the New Year comes a new list of words you don't want to hear or ever say again. After this year's war on Christmas was holiday tree on the list?
And on this first day of the New Year, what are your hopes for 2006? Be sure to e-mail us at Weekends@cnn.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'd like to do for my New Year's resolution is to eat better, find more time to do the things that I like, and that will enable me to feel less pressure. I think that will be good for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To spend more time and effort on charity organizations and helping more people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Happy New Year, everyone. Once again, you know how some words get so overused they become annoying, for sure? Well, hunker down for breaking news. Those are just two phrases making the 2006 list of annoying overused, misused or useless words that one university said should be banned.
Also included, had enough with acronyms FEMA. What does that mean? How about holiday tree or is it Christmas or what? And why not say 3 percent fat instead of 97 percent fat free. Who knows? But good question.
And another question we're asking you this morning, what are your hopes for 2006. You've been e-mailing us your thoughts all morning. Once again, if you would like to, our address is email@example.com.
We'd like to share a couple with you here. This one is from Roshin Rowjee from Lufkin, Texas. "I pray 2006 will usher in more global peace and religious tolerance."
And we have another one from Linda Williamson in New York. She writes, "My hope for 2006 is that the US Congress will make New Year's resolution not to spend more money than we take in this year. I'd like to note see our country file bankruptcy anytime soon."
And I love this one. This one is from Scott Duff. And he writes, "I hope for an increase in personal responsibility that will bring America a new greatness, people loving and caring for the neighborhood and communities."
Very nice. We've been asking what are your hopes for 2006, and thanks for sharing them with us.
If you're ringing in the new year with a new resolution, listen up. It usually results in one thing, guilt. Coming up next hour, no more broken promises. Our list of anti-resolutions.
But first, how to quit smoking successfully. "House Call" is helping you kick the habit in 2006. Find out the best ways to stop lighting up and how to survive those cravings and withdrawal symptoms. That's next on "House Call" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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