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Will U.S. Troop Levels in Iraq Be Cut by End of 2007?; Maliki Outlines Reconciliation Plan

Aired June 25, 2006 - 07:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. U.S. troop levels in Iraq reportedly could be cut by more than half by the end of 2007. That's according to the "New York Times," based on a classified briefing last week with General George Casey. He is the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. We'll take a closer look at the details in just a moment.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: On the political front, the new Iraqi government is pressing ahead with its National Reconciliation Plan. The Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented his 28-point proposal today to the Iraqi parliament. The details are straight ahead in a live report from Baghdad.

HARRIS: Also in Iraq, the shooting death of an unarmed civilian in February in Ramadi has led to criminal charges against two U.S. soldiers. They're accused of planting an assault rifle next to the man's body after one of them shot him. Both soldiers are with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

LONG: The Israeli military has launched its first major operation into Gaza since last August. It is in response to deadly attacks on Israeli military outposts. The Israeli army says militants tunneled under the border. A live report from Jerusalem is coming up in about five minutes.

HARRIS: In Afghanistan, the U.S. military says more than 100 Taliban fighters have been killed since Friday. The military also says two coalition soldiers died yesterday in fighting in southern Afghanistan.

LONG: And to Sydney, Australia. Actress Nicole Kidman is now Mrs. Keith Urban, or maybe Country Music Star Keith Urban is Mr. Nicole Kidman?

HARRIS: There you go. There you go.

LONG: Well, any way you look at it, they are married, they tied the knot. The ultra-exclusive ceremony took place just hours ago. In about 20 minutes from now we're going to take you live to Sydney to for an inside look at the elegant nuptials.

HARRIS: This looks great.

LONG: Beautiful. But have you ever seen her not look stunning? Ever? HARRIS: Well, I'm not one of those people who believes she's like one of the most ravishing creatures on the planet.

LONG: I do.

HARRIS: But in these pictures, which you will see in just a few minutes, she looks like she stepped right out of one of those catalogs.

LONG: She's glowing.

HARRIS: She really is.

LONG: See, I think she is one of the most beautiful women on the planet.

HARRIS: You do?

LONG: Absolutely.

HARRIS: Well, just for yourself in just a couple minutes. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING, 7:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 3:00 p.m. in Baghdad.

And good morning everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

LONG: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long in for Betty Nguyen. Thanks for being with us on this Sunday.

HARRIS: And coming up this hour on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, Cher might not back the war in Iraq, but she's backing the troops with a rather unique sideline business -- army helmets. Cher tells Anderson Cooper all about it in about 30 minutes.

Can lessons learned centuries ago help us cope with life today? We'll go in search of truth, meaning and happiness with the man who knows about them all, in our Faces of Faith in 40 minutes.

And what's the secret to a lasting, loving marriage? Relationship Guru Susan Paige tells us why couples should stop trying so hard to solve their problems. That's ahead in our final hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

LONG: Bringing the troops home? A new report today from the top U.S. commander in Iraq has drafted a plan to significantly reduce the U.S. military presence there.

The "New York times" says the first cuts could come this September. The paper says the plan by General George Casey projects a sharp reduction in troop levels by the end of 2007. According to the "Times," the number of combat brigades could drop to five or six from the current level of 14. A CNN military analyst says the reductions would come through troop rotations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJOR GENERAL DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The way we would do it is not just withdraw them, but the brigades that are reaching the end of their tour and scheduled to come out will be replaced by troops rotating in from the United States or Europe or other places. We simply would not replace the troops coming out. Now, all of this depends upon the security situation in Iraq itself and how that goes. So there's lots of miles to go.


LONG: As you know, Iraq troop withdrawals have been the focus of fierce debate in Congress. The U.S. currently has about 127,000 troops in Iraq.

HARRIS: No timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq's prime minister today. It's 3:00 p.m. in Baghdad. And the prime minister spoke less than three hours ago. He outlined his plan for reaching out to insurgents who renounce violence and reconciling the country.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins us live from Baghdad with details.

And good day to you, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Tony. And that's right. This long-awaited reconciliation plan announced today by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He presented it to parliament, and saying in his own words that this was intended to bring an end to the ugly state that is Iraq today.

Now he divided that into three main categories. The first of those being the training of Iraqi security forces, emphasizing the need to increase the number of Iraqi security forces, provide them with proper equipment, proper gear, proper training, to be able to handle the insurgency here in Iraq.

However, he did not, as we were expecting, set a specific timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

His second main category was that of reconstruction, providing Iraqis with the basic services they have been waiting for for at least three years now. And also, dealing with unemployment.

And on his last and perhaps main and most important category, that of national reconciliation. They are going to be establishing committees to emphasize national dialogue, to bring more parties, more individuals onto the table. And also, the prime minister extended something of an olive branch.


NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQ PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have extended our hand to all those good people to join us and to work together for a better future. And we say to all those criminals that we will not relent or win in our fight against you.


DAMON: And Tony, also, he addressed the issue of militias, armed militias that operate within Iraq that carry out acts of sectarian violence against the Iraqi people, saying that they needed to be dealt with, both on an economical and on a political level -- Tony.

HARRIS: Arwa, let me ask you to walk us through this. Has this government been releasing -- it's a very pointed question -- has this government been releasing Iraqi prisoners over the last days or weeks? And was there any mention in this talk today about a broader so-called amnesty program for Iraqi prisoners?

DAMON: Well, Tony, the prime minister did mention an amnesty program, saying that detainees would be released from Iraqi prisons. However, those are only detainees who have not committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of violence, detainees who did not have blood on their hands. Now, this part of the reconciliation process, this amnesty for detainees, as you just mentioned, has been going on for some time now. There have been approximately 2,000 detainees released throughout Iraq, but again, as they emphasized today, in this plan only those who do not have blood on their hands.

There are so far approximately 20,000 detainees, both in U.S. and Iraqi custody -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad. Arwa, we appreciate it, thank you.

Iraq, Iran, and North Korea top the agenda today on "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer.

Senators Chuck Hagel and Joseph Biden also discuss the latest on the terror threat targeting the U.S. "LATE EDITION," coming up at 11:00 a.m., Eastern.

Also today, reaction to the deaths of U.S. soldiers at an Iraqi checkpoint, and the U.S. troops charged with killing an civilian. John Roberts hosts "Iraq: A Week at War," today 1:00 p.m., Eastern.

LONG: A pre-dawn attack in the Mid East, with cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza. At this hour the Israeli military is retaliating for an incursion from Gaza. Palestinian militants had tunneled under the border and attacked Israeli army posts.

CNN's Paula Hancock's joining us live now from Jerusalem with the latest.

Hello, Paula.


Well, that's right. Israeli military, the gun ships, the tanks, also helicopters and bulldozers with ground troops are currently inside southern Gaza. Now, this is the first large-scale incursion we've seen of Israel military into Gaza since that unilateral pullout last summer. Now this is all in direct response to a Palestinian militant attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. Seven or eight Palestinian militants, according to Israeli sources, tunneled underneath the border and then attacked an Israeli military post. Now, we know that two Israeli soldiers have been killed in that attack and we know three Palestinian militants were also killed in the gunfire.

But what we also know, and the army is looking into, is one Israeli soldier is missing. Now, we do believe that the Palestinian militants may have that soldier. That's what the sources are reporting, and that is one of the reasons why the Israeli military has gone into Gaza, the entrance of that tunnel, trying to find their missing soldier.

We also know that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is talking to the militants, also talking to the Egyptians, who have been negotiating with them on this particular incident, trying to find out where exactly that soldier is.

So at the moment, two Israeli soldiers killed, one missing. It's not certain if that soldier's dead or alive, and three militants have been killed on the Palestinian side. Interestingly, though, it is the first time since the Israeli pullout from Gaza last summer that Palestinian militants have succeeded in getting into Israel and carrying out an attack from Gaza. Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has blamed the Palestinian leadership.


EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTERS (through translator): We in Israel view the Palestinian authority, headed by Chairman Abu Mazen, and the Palestinian government responsible for this incident.


HANCOCK: Olmert's currently in discussion with his defense chiefs and security chiefs to find out what sort of response they should carry out -- Melissa.

LONG: Paula, you mentioned Abbas negotiating with other leaders in the region. What about the negotiations with the Palestinian prime minister that were supposed to be underway in order to implicitly recognize Israel?

HANCOCK: That's right. These discussions started on Saturday evening; and according to sources overnight, those discussions were actually going fairly well.

The President Mahmoud Abbas wanted Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh to agree to start a truce, a cease-fire, with Israel, that it has had for about 16 months, but it cancelled just a few weeks ago after an attack on a Gaza beach, which killed eight civilians, even though Israel says it was not involved in that. That's when the cease fire was cancelled out. And interestingly, Hamas has admitted that it is part of the attack today, part of the military wave of Hamas has carried out part of this attack, which is why Ehud Olmert has blamed the leadership itself.

So obviously what's happened Sunday morning is going to put discussions between the president and prime minister on hold for the time being -- Melissa.

LONG: Paula Hancock, live from Jerusalem. Paula, thank you.

HARRIS: And other stories across America this morning. Federal officials are looking into this fiery fatal plane crash yesterday in Big Timber, Montana. Both people aboard the plane, a small corporate jet, were killed when it went down shortly after takeoff and burst into flames.

LONG: Nearly two dozen major wildfires continue burning across the U.S. today, mostly in the West. They include this stubborn fire in Arizona, which still threatens a number of homes near Sedona. But an evacuation has been lifted for residents of scenic Oak Creek Canyon.

HARRIS: It is pirate day in Hollywood. Actors Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp were on hand for the premier to the movie to "Pirates of the Caribbean." I guess that's the sequel.

Caribbean or Caribbean? I can't...

LONG: Potato, potato.

HARRIS: Keira Knightley was also there signing autographs. "Dead Man's Chest" opens nationally on July 7th.

LONG: Near San Francisco, an intoxicated bird? Authorities say a disoriented bird that flew into a car windshield on the Pacific Coast highway may have been under the influence. Wildlife experts say a California brown pelican may have been intoxicated by chemicals in the water. What a shame.

HARRIS: Well it sounds kind of humorous until you hear about the chemicals, and that's not good.

LONG: Yes, that's unfortunate. So the question is, can simple padding in a helmet for a Marine save lives? Icon Cher says yes, and you'll be surprised at the cost. Her interview with Anderson Cooper in about 20 minutes.

Plus, a glowing bride, country singer and a cheering crowd. We're live in Sydney, Australia, for the highly anticipated wedding of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. You won't want to miss it.

Good morning, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. And you know, their future home is going to be in Nashville, Tennessee, where today in Nashville we're expecting a chance of a few scattered showers.

But let's take look at Nashville right now, shall we? Hey, doesn't look too bad. They're expecting a high temperature today mainly into the 80s, partly cloudy skies. That is a great shot we have, compliments of WKRN in Nashville, Tennessee.

Your complete forecast, coast to coast, coming up in a just a few moments.


HARRIS: And updating our top stories this morning. A plan for reducing U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Today's "New York Times" says the first cuts could come this September. The paper says the number of combat brigades could drop from 14 to five or six by the end of next year.

More U.S. soldiers facing charges in Iraq. The military says two soldiers have been charged in the killing of an Iraqi civilian near Ramadi.

And we're following this developing story -- a deadly attack on an Israeli army post. Israel says two soldiers were killed and a third is missing. Palestinian militants carried out the attack after tunneling under a border in southern Gaza.

LONG: Floodwaters are receding in Ohio, and residents there are getting a look at the damage from this week's storms. It may be next week before people in New Jersey get around to that. Heavy rain, strong wind gusts and flash flooding forced evacuations in Ohio.

Forecasters say New Jersey is in for another round of soaking rain. Flash flood watches remain in effect for much of the garden state.

HARRIS: And I will tell you, if it's anything...

LONG: Like what we had.

HARRIS: Overnight? Last night?

LONG: Terrifying.

HARRIS: What a light show, Reynolds Wolf.

WOLF: Oh, yes, I know, compliments of Mother Nature. It was great.

LONG: That was like a 4th of July come early.

HARRIS: It really was. It really was.

WOLF: Yes, we didn't have to pay for it or anything. It was great. It was wonderful.

LONG: That's from the weather gentleman, of course, saying that. That was kind of scary.

WOLF: Absolutely. You know, the only good thing about it is -- and you have to look at the positive aspects. Many places in the Deep South have been desperate for rainfall. We certainly got some last night.

However, other places really don't need it at all. We're talking about the Northeast.

We've got some flash flood watches and some warnings that are in effect through the Appalachians, parts of Virginia, North Carolina, as well. We're going to zoom in on a few places.

First and foremost, not too far from our spot in the world would be, of course, in Atlanta, Georgia. We're seeing some showers just to the north, right along I-75. A few thunderstorms, nothing severe at this time.

As we make the trek northward into Washington, D.C., some scattered activity. Heavier rainfall earlier, but that is now moving deeper into parts of Maryland and into the Atlantic.

As we make our way to Philadelphia, all the way down to New Jersey. New Jersey, of course, had a little bit of flooding, southern half of the state back up to New York, most of the activity moving out to the Atlantic.

Also in Boston, some scattered showers.

But Chicago is still under the gun as we speak. Some heavy rainfall from Milwaukee to Chicago, Oak Lawn, Elgin, even in Aurora, a few scattered showers.

Now, we can expect that activity to continue today. We're going to have to monitor that very carefully for you. We're also going to have to monitor the heat, not in places like you'd expect it, in the desert Southwest, but in the Pacific Northwest.

One hundred degrees expected for today in Portland. Normal high this time of the year should be 75. Normal high in Seattle should be around 72. Not the case -- 91 degrees, the expected high. Mainly 80s in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, 90 in Memphis, and 77 in Chicago.

That's the latest on your forecast. Let's send it right back to you.

HARRIS: Melissa was making the point that the thunder, the claps of thunder, so loud it felt like the room was shaking at points last night. I mean, that's intense.


LONG: I thought it was terrifying, but Reynolds, you find this exciting.

(CROSSTALK) WOLF: Well, I'm the weather guy. You know, so you don't get into this if you're not excited about it.

HARRIS: Exactly. OK, Reynolds, appreciate it.

WOLF: I'm a geek.

LONG: Thank you.

HARRIS: Well, last-minute deal makings spares Martin Luther King Jr.'s papers from the auction block in New York. We told you about this yesterday. And preserves his legacy in Atlanta. The handwritten papers were sitting in King's basement since 1968. Many consider the collection some of the most important writings of the 20th century.

Our Carol Lin spoke with King's colleague, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, and King's son, Dexter.


DEXTER SCOTT KING, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S SON: When my mother was living, it was always her dream to see the papers at a place that would be appropriate custodian. In fact, my father, during his lifetime, had talked about Moorehouse being a custodian. But because, you know, the South at that time was very dangerous. It was probably not feasible. So in more recent times, there had been talk. And we were approached by major institutions about acquiring the papers. So we really had to start thinking about it.

ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER ATLANTA MAYOR: The reason these were important to Atlanta is these were ideas that came from Moorehouse College, from Booker T. Washington High School and from Ebeneezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue.

They were ideas that came from his father and his father's relationship with the white business community. And Martin Luther King had a very privileged upbringing. He was exposed to the best that America had to offer, and he gave back America the best.


HARRIS: A group of Atlanta investors will pay a reported $32 million for King's papers. They'll be on display at his alma mater, Moorehouse College.

And still ahead, protecting the troops. Marines suffer lifelong damage because their helmets may be inadequate. Cher -- that's right, Cher, has made it her mission to lend support. Her interview in about 10 minutes.

LONG: Plus...

HARRIS: Look at this. Isn't that right out of the bride and whatever...

LONG: She could be on the cover of "Brides" magazine, exactly. HARRIS: Isn't that something?

LONG: This is the bride this morning. She tied the knot.

HARRIS: Is that what it's called, "Brides" magazine?

LONG: Oh, there are so many.


LONG: But that is the name of one.


LONG: And this just in to us from Sydney, Australia -- the official photograph of the beautiful couple. They just tied the knot a couple of hours ago, and we're going to take you live to Sydney, Coming up on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HARRIS: I just feel like I want to must that picture up.

LONG: You can't.




LONG: Wedding bells were ringing out Down Under, signaling Nicole Kidman is now Mrs. Keith Urban. Security, as you would expect, was tight at the Sydney Harbor Estate, where the movie star married the country singer.

Entertainment Reporter Angela Bishop of Australia's Network 10 is joining us live from Sydney with the latest on the nuptials.

Hello to you.

ANGELA BISHOP, AUSTRALIA'S NETWORK 10 CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Melissa. It's been a very exciting day here in Sydneytown, let me tell you.

When Nicole arrived here at Manly, the seaside suburb of Sydney, her car was mobbed by about 500 well-wishers, as well as international and national media all came to get a shot of her. She was absolutely beaming. She had the window down, so we could get a good look at her face, and she waved to the crowd. She was looking delirious, is the only way I can describe it, as did groom, Keith Urban when he arrived.

It was a very traditional Catholic ceremony, took about 35 minutes. Tears from both the bride and groom, as they pledged eternal love for one another. And the priest didn't even manage to get the words out "Keith, you may kiss your bride," he dived right in and did it, and there was a big round of applause when that happened. Right now they're actually at the reception. The room, as designed by Nicole, has been done in blood red, to signify passion. There's heavy velvet curtains, giant chandeliers, very reminiscent of sort of a Moulin rouge feel. And although (INAUDIBLE) is here and in fact read a lesson in the church, he said he didn't have anything to do with it. It was all Nicole's vision.

Some beautiful moments at the reception already. Hugh Jackman, of course a very good friend of Nicole's and star of "X-Men," and the "Boy from Mars," on Broadway. He performed one of Peter Allen's classic songs, "Tenterfield Sadler," because it is Keith's favorite song.

And then the man himself, Keith got up and performed the wonderful hit "Making Memories of Us," and dedicated it to his bride.

Right now as we speak, Neil Finn from Crowded House is taking the stage to sing a few songs for the crowd there, because of course, Keith was actually born in New Zealand, where Neil Finn is from as well.

LONG: You had mentioned that Baz Luhrmann was attending as a guest, and I had read something about the fact that Baz Luhrmann could have been charged with creating the wedding video, which I'm intrigued by, because of course his very eclectic style.

BISHOP: Yes. We have heard the same thing, and I actually spoke to him last night, and he wasn't going to tell me any more than that he was an active participant in the wedding, which sounds to me like he may well be in charge of the video.

There have been all sorts of little secret things like that going on, and you know, with the French, he has Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts are sitting at the same table at the moment. (inaudible) is holding court at another table. It's a very high-powered wedding we're having going on here.

LONG: Very high powered. Thank you so much, and thank you so much for sharing all those photographs from Sydney, Australia.

That's Angela Bishop of Australia's Network 10.

BISHOP: Thanks, Melissa.

LONG: The power in that room.

HARRIS: Wow! That, that sounds like -- where are our invitations? What happened? Just hung up in the mail or something?

LONG: I don't think they even created one for us. What are you talking about?

And speaking of getting an invitation in the mail, how about email? We don't want an email invitation, but we'd like to know from you today, what do you think is the key to a happy relationship? Send us your comments We will read your responses throughout the morning.

And coming up two hours from now, we'll be talking to a marriage expert about eight things you can start doing right now to improve your relationship.

HARRIS: OK, she is against the war, but fighting for our troops. Cher's message ahead, when she speaks to our Anderson Cooper.

LONG: And a new awakening. We'll tell you why so many people are now embracing Buddhism. Can it help you to find peace in your life?

CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in a moment.


HARRIS: Good morning, everyone; 7:30 a.m. on the East Coast, 3:30 p.m. in Baghdad.

"Now in the News": "The New York Times" is reporting details of a plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. The report says it would start with about 7,000 troops rotating out of Iraq in September, followed by more cuts next year. But it all depends on Iraq's ability to handle its own security.

LONG: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has presented his national reconciliation plan. He offered it during a session of parliament today. It includes amnesty for detainees who have not committed any war crimes.

HARRIS: In Israel just moments ago, an Israeli army chief said a soldier that was missing after a Palestinian attack was kidnapped, but is still alive. A group of Palestinian militants infiltrated Israel through a tunnel. Israeli officials confirm that two of their soldiers were killed. A Palestinian source says three of the attackers were also killed.

LONG: Today, at noon, there will be a gathering at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, a ceremony to remember those who died in attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago. Nineteen U.S. Airmen were killed.

HARRIS: "Operation Helmet", over the past few weeks, superstar Cher has been getting a lot of attention for this cause, from her appearances on Capitol Hill to sitting down with CNN's Anderson Cooper. Cher's using her celebrity to get safer helmets on the heads of U.S. soldiers in combat.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON 360" (voice over): Like so much of what she's done in her life, Cher got into this in her own unpredictable and straight-ahead way. She called into C-Span one night at 4:30 a.m.

CHER: I belong to an organization called Operation Helmet, and these people, the so-called Christian Republicans, have sent the men and women of our armed forces into battle without the proper helmets.

COOPER: With that phone call, Cher put her new passion on center stage. This wasn't the first time that Cher had simply picked up the phone.

(On camera): You sort of have a history of like late-night calls to C-span. You called us during Katrina.

CHER: Sounds a little freaky, doesn't it?

COOPER: No, it's fascinating.

Joining me on the phone now from Los Angeles, Academy Award winning actress and award-winning singer, Cher.

(Voice over): She called us about a woman we profiled, Paige Benson, who had gone to New Orleans to feed hot meals to first responders. The first time they had had hot meals in nearly two weeks since Katrina.

CHER: It never occurred to me that they weren't getting hot meals, and so I thought, you know, when I saw her, I thought what a wonderful thing she was doing. So I called and I said I want to help pay for the food.

COOPER (on camera): You're really involved in monitoring all this stuff. You're sort of a voracious reader and a watcher of news.

CHER: Yeah.

COOPER: And yet you take that step which a lot of people don't take, which is I'm just going to call that person up. I find that sort of fascinating.

CHER: I had a friend, his name was Mitch Schneider, and he was a homeless advocate.

COOPER: Sure, famous.

CHER: And he just said to me once, he said, if you see the thing that you can do now, do it. Like if you see a homeless person, go up and look them in the eye, talk to them, no one ever looks homeless people in the eye. Talk to them, offer your help. And I'm in the position now to be able to do more than just see something. I can really do something about it.

COOPER (voice over): What Cher's done isn't limited to hospital visits. She's helped "Operation Helmet" supply more than 9,000 helmet inserts to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CHER: To be able to use your celebrity for something that you really think is worthwhile, is so rewarding. It just makes you feel like this is the right thing to do. This is the American thing to do. Also, it really pisses me off when people say that if you're not for the war, you don't support the troops. And I'm not for the war, and I really support the troops. COOPER: Cher has received numerous letters from Marines, thanking her for her support.

(On camera): This is from Gary Lee Kirby, Jr.

CHER: Yes.

COOPER: He says "Cher, I'd like to give you my personal thanks and appreciation and extend my gratitude for all you've done in aiding USA armed forces, and what you're doing for us now. I didn't receive a new type of helmet until halfway through a year-long deployment. I saw Jim Carrey win a Golden Popcorn Award for his movie achievements; you, Cher, should be awarded seven Golden Popcorns for all you've done, for you're angel. Thank you, Gary Kirby, Jr.

That's pretty great.

CHER: Yeah, it was cool. But you know, tell the story about the boy who said I need another helmet.

DR. BOB MEADERS, OPERATION HELMET: Yeah, we were -- we got a telephone call from a young Marine corporal, who was in Camp LeJeune Naval Hospital. And he said, Doc, I hate to ask, but can I have another helmet kit?

I said, well, what happened to your old one?

He said, Well, my buddy and I were on patrol and a rocket just slammed by me, almost hit me, but it hit the wall directly behind me. And I'm here, they're pulling all the pieces of fragment out of my neck and my shoulders. And it exploded my helmet.

He said, You know, those pads saved my life. And I would like to have another one before I go back, because I'm willing enough to rejoin my buddies. But when I go back, can you give me a dozen more for my team? I want to make sure everyone's as well protected as I am.

COOPER: That's the thing about soldiers and Marines, is that it's not so much about them, it's about their buddies.

CHER: Yeah.

COOPER: And even people in hospitals you meet --

CHER: Want to go back.

COOPER: Talk about going back, because their buddy's there.

CHER: Or they're disappointed. Yeah, they don't want to let their buddies down. A lot of times when I've talk to people, you know, when no one's around, it's not so much necessarily that they believe what they're doing there is right or wrong, but they believe that what they're doing there with their buddies is the right thing. To be there, to be this band of brothers, which I never realized it's so strong, but it's the thing that keeps them all glued together.


HARRIS: If you would like to send money for "Operation Helmet," visit The money will help buy helmet inserts that are then sent free to Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, the Web site is And join Anderson Cooper for more stories on U.S. troops in Iraq. That's weeknights at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

But first --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They die at the hands of terrorists, they were brutally murdered. It's part of the brutal warfare the U.S. is up against.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Ramadi, people are really wondering what's going to happen next.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was meant to be a message for the entire defense team -- do not come to Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats were for the most part on the defensive.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): The same old thing is part of the problem!


HARRIS: CNN brings you the only in-depth look at major events in the war on terror with our team of global correspondents, Senior National Correspondent John Roberts hosts "Iraq: A Week At War" today, 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

LONG: CNN is your passport into news and events around the world.

First, from Japan's top brass, Japanese troops have begun pulling out of their base in southern Iraq. Japan's prime minister said last week that the country's 550 troops would be leaving. They have been involved mostly in rebuilding work and humanitarian efforts in Iraq.

Some aid is now beginning to reach flood-stricken people in Indonesia, but many other places are still difficult to reach because of washed-out roads. One of the most serious immediate problems is a lack of fresh drinking water.

And in India, villagers facing the opposite problem, not enough rain. So they are resorting to an old tradition of fog weddings.


LONG: Yes, Tony, frog weddings. They believe that the frog marriages will appease the rain gods and end the drought. If it works, OK, frog weddings! We have pictures of a very glamorous wedding to share with everybody later.

HARRIS: You're just making stuff up.

LONG: I don't make it up. CNN reports the facts.

HARRIS: That sounds -- get that frog --

Still ahead, are you searching for truth, meaning and happiness?

LONG: Who isn't?


LONG: Many find it in Buddhism. Could you? We'll examine the philosophy' head in our "Faces of Faith."


LONG: Perhaps this is your scenario, you've been married for a while and you're wondering if there's any zing left. Later this morning, one therapist will share some simple things you can do, today, to strengthen your relationship.

First, are going to test your knowledge with a marriage quiz to test your knowledge. Researchers can now predict which engaged couples will succeed or fail with better than 90 percent accuracy. Mmm, what do you think? True or false? We'll reveal the answer when CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues.


LONG: Now, bringing you up-to-date on our top stories this Sunday morning.

Some U.S. troops reportedly may soon be pulled out of Iraq. "The New York Times" cites a classified briefing with the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. The report says large cuts in American forces will begin in September.

Two American soldiers are charged in the death of an Iraqi civilian in Ramadi back in February. They are also accused of conspiring to plant a gun next to the man's body as he lay dying.

The Israeli military is retaliating for an incursion from Gaza. Palestinian militants had tunneled under the border and attacked an Israeli army post. Two Israeli soldiers and three militants were killed. An Israeli army official also says one soldier was kidnapped.

HARRIS: When you think of Buddhism, you probably think of monks meditating in saffron robes, temples, the Dalai Lama, and maybe Richard Gere, but more and more people are turning to life lessons learned more than 2,000 years ago to find balance in the modern world. So, can Buddha help you in the board room, or even in your own living room? Perry Garfinkel is the author of "Buddha or Bust" and he joins us this morning from Denver.

Perry, good morning.


HARRIS: "Buddha or Bust," first of all, explain the title.

GARFINKEL: Well, the title is kind of a spin on the "moon or bust". And in my mind it meant the truth or nothing but the truth. Whether, whatever you're doing in relationships or in life, or the pursuit of truth, meaning and happiness, settle for nothing less than the truth.

HARRIS: So, Perry, help me with this. Buddhism is not a religion?

GARFINKEL: I am firmly convinced that the Buddha, himself, who founded this tradition 2500 years ago, did not intend it to be a religion. He said, "Don't look to me as some god, or some guru, or somebody to be idolized. There is no other religion that doesn't have God at its center, and Buddhism does not have a god, and it's theology.

HARRIS: So, if it's not a religion, what is it, then?

GARFINKEL: I think it's basically, it's a coping skill. I think it's a psychological tool that's used -- it can be used to reverse the trend, the human trend towards unhappiness.

HARRIS: It's interesting. OK, so you've been practicing for how long? Is it 30 years?

GARFINKEL: I've been following off and on the Kushim (ph) for 30 years, yeah.

HARRIS: For 30 years. And what was your purpose? What was behind the book itself?

GARFINKEL: Well, the purpose of the book was to answer this question -- why is Buddhism growing in popularity today? I found some research that showed that one in eight Americans say they have been influenced significantly by Buddhist readings or studies. The number of Buddhists has tripled in the last, in the decade from 1990 to 2000. And I wanted to know why.

HARRIS: So what did you find?

GARFINKEL: Well, I traveled around the world. I spent about 20 weeks on the road asking people just that, from East to West. And what I found is that because Buddhism is non-dogmatic, because it's a practical and practicable (ph) tradition, that really it is an explanation of how the mind works. And we are in the age of science, and psychology is the kind of, the new god, and Buddhism predicted this 2500 years ago. HARRIS: You know, one of the concepts that you have to embrace, if you start to read, and really are into Buddhism, is this idea of suffering. Talk to us about what the Buddha meant when he talked about suffering and the origins of that suffering.

GARFINKEL: Exactly. Yeah, Tony, a lot of people think Buddhism is very negative and nihilistic because the first truth that the Buddha came to is the thing that keeps us from happiness is this -- is that we all suffer. And this doesn't mean that life is suffering, every day is a pain in the neck. It could be as subtle as, you know, I can't get a mocha cappuccino today.


GARFINKEL: But all the way up to death and old age. But because of our attachment to the outcomes of things, which may not come to pass, we lead ourselves into disappointment.

HARRIS: And it's all kinds of attachments, isn't it? It's not just attachments to outcomes, it's attachments to things, possessions, and even people?

GARFINKEL: Yes, exactly.

HARRIS: So explain that concept, because for most of us, we feel like we need these things. They ground us in the world.

GARFINKEL: Well, this is the kind of, you know, catch-22 of Buddhism. If you desire something too much, then you're attached to it. And some people think that Buddhism is saying, you know, don't pursue your goals, you know, just go whatever, whatever, you know. But it's not -- that's not the case. I think if you pursue something with the understanding that you may not get it, and that will not make you more unhappy, go for it.

HARRIS: Yeah. What do you find? What have you found in your close to 30 years? What works for you?

GARFINKEL: Well, my experience in writing this book and the story for "National Geographic" that I wrote, that it spun off of, was the fact that I think that enlightenment can be, you know, it had in every breath. It's not a 30-year struggle. It's not a 2,000-year struggle. Enlightenment is way off in the distance. But that if you can pay attention, in the moment, to your senses, to what other people are saying, that's half the battle to happiness, I think.

HARRIS: "Buddha or Bust", here's the book. There's the author, Perry Garfinkel.

Perry, thanks for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

GARFINKEL: Thank you very much. You're welcome.

LONG: Thanks, Tony.

Committed to changing the world? has a list of 50 people who matter now, and you may be surprised to find out who's topping the list. The details, when we return.


LONG: There are all sorts of rankings these days for big wigs, but the "Forbes" list, the "Fortune 500", is now out, and we're actually going to talk about a different list that trumps all the others. Nicole Lapin of CNN's Pipeline and desk is here to talk about that.

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN PIPELINE, DESK: Melissa, you know what? We think this one trumps the others, but Trump himself, The Donald, he's not on the list, because we're not just talking about the tycoons here. It's not about how much money somebody has, it's is not about how many yachts they sail, or fame. It's the way we're changing the world, the way we live our lives and who is changing the future. found out, and they put those people on the list. The 50 people who really matter these days.


LAPIN: The test to make the list -- just one question -- what have you done for us lately? With that criteria, it's really no surprise that the Google guys made the cut. And did you ever wonder what the self-professed Stanford geeks, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, actually look like? Click on this gallery. You can see the co-founders and figure out what their next brainchild is.

And get this, we're actually telling you the people who don't matter. Big ouch for those big guys like Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Now, we must admit, Bill Gates did make the list of people who matter, but it didn't have anything to do with Microsoft. Take the quiz to get the real reason.


LAPIN: Now, we know you're curious to see just who made that list, and you know what? I want to congratulate you, because you actually made the list!

LONG: The list is flawed. There's no reason we should be on it.

HARRIS: Meaning you, as in everyone at home, or you as in Anthony?

LAPIN: Well, Anthony Harris and Melissa Long, unfortunately, you guys didn't make the list



LAPIN: But you, the consumer, is actually number one on that list. And if you want to see whose company you're in, just go to

HARRIS: Judging by my bank account, yeah, I'm really on that list. Should be at the top of that list.

LONG: It's not necessarily the power to influence, but the power to create change.

HARRIS: Oh, is that what it is? Oh, that's nice.

LONG: Yeah, right?

LAPIN: Yeah, go team! We're changing the world our own way every Sunday morning, right guys?

HARRIS: Nice little Kum-by-yah sentiment there, Melissa.

Oh, Nicole, thank you.

LAPIN: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Let's get you quickly upstairs now to Reynolds Wolf in the CNN Weather Center.


HARRIS: Our e-mail question of the day: What is your key to a happy relationship? There's the address. Still plenty of time to get your thoughts in,

Mario writes, "My wife Shirley and I have been married for 24 years, and the advice we usually share is, "Keep your family and friends out of your business."

LONG: OK, this one, is this serious or is this a joke? Ivan writes in: "What do I do to keep my relationship happy? The same thing all men do, cheat whenever possible."


"When you say only 40 percent of men cheat, you are off by about 60 percent. Good luck ladies!" Ivan, that's a joke, right?

HARRIS: Slap the hand. Moving on William says

LONG: Gee, ouch!

"Let's try humor, insight, and chemistry, people; humor, insight and chemistry."

LONG: Respect.

HARRIS: Once again, our e-mail question, what is your key to a happy relationship. This is leading up to a special guest you have coming up in the 9:00 hour. You're outraged, aren't you?

LONG: I'm going to share Ivan's comments with our guest.

HARRIS: There's the address for you to weigh in. Ivan, you're no longer allowed to play the field. The next hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING begins in a moment.


LONG: Good morning on this Sunday. A developing story to tell about you from the Middle East. Israel says an Israeli soldier kidnapped during an attack earlier today is alive. The Israeli army says military outposts were attacked after militants tunneled under the border with Gaza. Israel is responding with its first major operation into Gaza in almost a year. We will have a live report from Israel in just a couple of minutes.

"The New York Times" is reporting this morning that plans are being drafted to cut the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by more than half. The cuts would come by the end of next year, but it all depends on Iraq's ability to provide its own security. Live reports from Baghdad and the White House are coming up in about five minutes.

Japanese troops are already pulling out, about 550 of them. The first to leave are now in Kuwait. The Japanese have been on a humanitarian and reconstruction mission in southern Iraq.

HARRIS: The new Iraqi government is pressing ahead with its national reconciliation plan. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented his 48-point proposal today to the Iraqi parliament.

And from the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. military says more than 100 Taliban fighters have been killed since Friday. Two coalition fighters died yesterday in fighting in southern Afghanistan.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Keith Urban are now on their honeymoon. That's a nice picture there.

LONG: Beautiful.

HARRIS: It really is. I just want to muss that perfect hair. Actress Nicole Kidman...

LONG: His hair or her hair?

HARRIS: Both, both. And country singer Keith Urban married in Sydney, Australia, in a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony. The bride wore white. The groom dressed in a black tuxedo with a white rose on his lapel. A live report from Australia is 15 minutes away.

Happening right now, tanks and bulldozers roll into southern Gaza. Israeli forces are on a manhunt for one of their own half two Israeli soldiers die and a half is reported kidnapped after an attack by Palestinian militants.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Israeli view the Palestinian Authority, headed by chairman Abu Mazen, and the Palestinian government responsible for this incident.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LONG: Good morning from the CNN center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is June 25, 8 a.m. here at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 3 in the afternoon in Jerusalem. Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in for Betty Nguyen. And we're going to take you to Jerusalem live in just a moment.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us.

Just to update the story once again, an Israeli soldier kidnapped after a firefight at the Gaza border is still alive but still in the hands of Palestinian militants. That's according to the Israeli army chief of staff.

The Israeli military today is retaliating for an incursion from Gaza. Palestinian militants had tunneled under the border and attacked an Israeli army post. Two Israeli troops and three militants were killed in the skirmish and the one soldier we just mentioned abducted.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Jerusalem with our update.

Paula, good morning.


Well, that's right. This is a serious escalation in violence on the Gaza/Israeli border. We do know that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is currently in negotiations with the Egyptians and also with the Palestinian militants, trying to discover what has happened to that particular soldier. He wants to make sure that the escalating violence does not get any worse. And he's trying to calm the situation down by trying to find that Israeli soldier and give him back to the Israeli military.

Now as you say, this all kicked off very early Sunday morning when seven or eight Palestinian militants emerged from a tunnel which they'd dug under the border between Gaza and Israeli and threw an anti-tank missile at the tank and also hand grenades. And as we know, three -- three Palestinian militants and two Israeli soldiers were killed in that particular attack.

Now, it is significant that this is the first time since the Israeli pullout from Gaza last summer that Palestinian militants have managed to access Israel and carry out an attack from Gaza itself. Now there have been intelligence reports in the past, a few days, that there was going to be an attack of some sort on this particular crossing. It's very close to the Egyptian border, as well, just on the Israeli/Gaza border.

And the crossing itself had been closed for a few days last week. The E.U. monitors that were looking after it had left it closed, as well, as many thought that there was going to be an attack of this kind perform.

Now it comes as the president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister, Ismail Haniyah of Hamas were supposed to be having discussions of how to start the cease fire, once again, between Hamas and Israel. But of course, Hamas has admitted that it is part of this attack so we don't whether those talks are remaining now -- Tony.

HARRIS: Paula, I have to ask you about this tunnel. How long of a tunnel are we talking about here? And maybe this isn't the best way to phrase it. Are we talking about new construction here?

HANCOCKS: Well, this is something the Palestinian militants have done in the past. They've certainly done it between -- between Gaza and Egypt in the past for smuggling. They smuggled weapons through. These tunnels are very manmade tunnels. They're quite crude tunnels. They wouldn't be the tunnels we would expect with construction and with structures actually held up with wood or anything. They are literally tunnels dug under the ground.

The Israeli army isn't giving any indication of how big this particular tunnel is, but the one I saw in Rafa (ph) in southern Gaza last year was particularly deep. It has to go very deep to get underneath the border itself. There's a fence between the Gaza and Israel border, but they are very rudimentary, very manmade -- Tony.

HARRIS: Thanks. CNN's Paula Hancocks for us in Jerusalem. Paula, appreciate it. Thank you.

LONG: Reaching out to the opposition. Iraq's prime minister is outlining a plan to bring the country together, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says insurgent killers will be punished.


NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have extended our hand to all those good people to join us and to work together for a better future. And we say to all those criminals that we will not relent in our fight against you. It is important that people understand the call for reconciliation does not mean we are weak. We will not relent until we bring the serious criminals to justice.


LONG: So let's get more on the prime minister's plan. CNN's Arwa Damon is joining us live now from Baghdad.

Hello, Arwa.


It is the long-awaited plan. The Iraq people have been waiting for their government to provide them with some sort of a plan to end violence for quite some time. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presenting his national reconciliation plan but not going into specifics as to exactly how he planned on solving all of Iraq's problems.

He spoke of a need to train Iraqi security forces but did not set a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal. He spoke of a need to -- to end the problems of reconstruction, to get reconstruction underway to provide Iraqis with basic services, to end unemployment, but did not provide specifics as to how the government was going to accomplish that.

He spoke of a need for national dialogue, of setting up committees to bring all of Iraq's parties to the table, but again, no specific details. Disarming militias, saying this needed to happen on an economic level, but no specific details as to how that was going to happen.

And Melissa, this is a country that has long been awaiting details. It has heard from its government time and time again that it will have security, it will have stability, but it is yet to have a specific plan that the Iraqi people can really rally behind and say, "This is our government and this is how it is going to solve all our problems."

In fact, even as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was presenting this plan to parliament, violence across all of Iraq today. Ten Iraqis have been killed, over 40 wounded and 16 more kidnapped -- Melissa.

LONG: CNN's Arwa Damon live from Baghdad. Arwa, thank you.

HARRIS: So what does the Bush administration think about the Iraq reconciliation plan and what about the issue of amnesty for insurgents?

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

Ed, good morning.


Well, the White House is mostly welcoming this as yet another step in the formation of the new Iraqi government, but of course, the devil will be in the details as to whether or not President Bush and congressional leaders in both parties embrace this entire plan.

As you heard Arwa mention over and over, a lot of the details are still fuzzy, specifically on the issue of amnesty that you mentioned. The president here getting a lot of pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill to make sure this is not amnesty for detainees in Iraq who have attacked U.S. soldiers.

Prime Minister Maliki says that it will not grant -- he will not grant pardons to those who have attacked coalition forces. And in fact that these 2,500 detainees that have started being released in fact are not war criminals.

But "Newsweek" magazine is reporting this morning the plan will grant amnesty for insurgents who attack American and Iraqi soldiers. This follows a similar report in the "Washington Post" about 10 days ago, and that's why today Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has released a blistering statement, declaring, quote, "Despite having received two credible reports that the Iraqi government is actively considering giving amnesty to those who kill American soldiers, President Bush and the Republican Congress have refused to join with Senate Democrats to denounce this terrible policy, proposing instead that we respect Iraqi sovereignty. We call upon President Bush and Republican leaders to join with us immediately to send a clear and unmistakable signal to the Iraqi government that we strongly oppose any effort to provide a get out of jail free card to those who kill or injure our brave troops."

But I can tell you that senior administration officials here insist that their understanding is this will not be amnesty for war criminals and that, essentially, the details of this "Newsweek" report are not true. Obviously, again, the devil will be in the details, how this plays out in coming days, Tony.

HARRIS: That's for sure. White House correspondent Ed Henry. Ed, thank you.

HENRY: Thank you.

HARRIS: Two more U.S. soldiers face charges this morning in connection with an Iraqi civilian killing. The military says the two soldiers are charged in the deaths of an unarmed man near Ramadi in February. One soldier is accused of volunteer manslaughter for allegedly shooting the man. Both are accused of conspiring to plant a gun near the body.

Today on "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER", senators Chuck Hagel and Joseph Biden on Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the latest on the terror threat targeting the U.S. "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER", today three hours from now at 11 a.m. Eastern.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They died at the hands of terrorists. They were brutally murdered, part of the brutal warfare the U.S. is up against.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Ramadi people really are wondering what's going to happen next.

DAMON: This was meant to be a message for the entire defense team. Do not come to Iraq.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Democrats, for the most part, were on the defensive.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The same old thing is part of the problem.


HARRIS: CNN brings you the only in-depth look at major events in the war on terror with our team of global correspondents. Senior national correspondent John Roberts hosts "IRAQ: A WEEK AT WAR" today, 1 Eastern. LONG: Crowds cheering. They were not on the guest list. Bride glowing, oh, so beautiful. The groom all smiles. The wedding bells ringing in Sydney as actress Nicole Kidman and country crooner Keith Urban tie the knot. We're going to take you down under, live in about five minutes. Hope you stay with us.



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): What happens when you serve up a backhand or a volley in a heart pounding aerobics class? You're experiencing cardiovascular tennis, a class designed for beginners as well as advanced tennis players.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It allows to you socialize with your friends. It's designed to get you out of the gym and outside, having a blast. It's designed to keep your heart rate up.

COSTELLO: Cardio tennis combines drills and exercises such as running through ladders, jumping jacks, lunges and squats. Grace Dunn (ph) says she's addicted to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's better than being inside, working in the gym, you know, running the neighborhood. It's a lot more fun.

COSTELLO: Some serious tennis players say it can improve your tennis game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of hitting 50 or 60 balls in a half hour, you'll hit 120.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is moving all the time. There is no stop in cardio tennis.

COSTELLO: And the best part, women can burn up to 300 to 600 calories in an hour-long class. And men can burn upwards of 800 calories.


COSTELLO: Carol Costello, CNN, New York.



LONG: Good morning to you on this Sunday.

Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley all together again on the big screen and on the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean II". Part one, you know, was a huge success. And one reporter tried to get the 411 on part II, but the stars apparently were tight-lipped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Well, you have to watch it, you know. There's a couple of new twists and turns. Well, it's the first time we see Jack in sort of real terror, you know.

Well, some years back he made a little deal with a guy called Davy Jones, and not the one from the Monkees.

ORLANDO BLOOM, ACTOR: Johnny kind of covers all the cool stuff, you know. He's got the earrings, the hair things. He's got everything going on.


HARRIS: Everything going on. That movie out July. July, July.

LONG: I didn't see the first one, did you?

HARRIS: Yes, I did. It's funny; it's good. It's Johnny Depp.

Let's go up you upstairs now to the weather center. Reynolds Wolf is there, following turbulent weather, particularly along the Northeast and still dry conditions out west.


HARRIS: We're going to take you to Australia in just a couple of minutes, and we're going to get an update on the big wedding today. Honeymoon commencing right now. You would agree?

LONG: I don't think it's a secret. Everybody pretty much knew Keith Urban was tying the knot with Nicole Kidman. This is "You're My Better Half" by the country crooner. He sang at the wedding. Isn't that beautiful?

HARRIS: That's just nice. Isn't that sweet?

LONG: We're going to find out more and take you down under, coming up on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.


HARRIS: Let me see if I can get this right here. When it comes to your relationship, is it plenty of talk, but little action? That's a personal question today at 8:21 Eastern.

If your wedded bliss is anything but, don't fret. In our next hour, one expert shows you how to bring back the happiness.

First, though, let's check what you know about marriage. True or false, the 2000 U.S. Census dropped the marriage status question on the universal form. Here's the answer. I forgot the answer. Oh, the answer is true. There it is. The answer is true. The 2000 U.S. Census dropped the question on marital status on the universal form. There you have it.

LONG: Marriage question leads us back to a celebrity wedding a few hours ago. Actress Nicole Kidman said, "I do"; country star Keith Urban said "I do," they kissed.

Angela Bishop is strategically positioned in Sydney to give us the play by play.

Angela, we want the scoop. Good morning. Good evening to you.

BISHOP: Good evening to me. A chilly Sydney evening here, mid- winter here, and good morning to you. It's been the most magical wedding. That's the only way to describe it.

As you said, the bride said "I do," the groom said "I do," both virtually in tears as they did, just tears of joy. She was wearing a full veil over a Balenciaga frock with one sleeve and then off the shoulder on the other side.

Very traditional Catholic ceremony and traditional vows said. And the priest barely got to utter the words "You may kiss the bride" before Keith dove in and did just that. And then the congregation applauded.

The congregation about 200 strong here. Some very powerful players in it. Of course, Rupert Murdoch is here and some Hollywood faces we all recognized: Russell Crow, Naomi Watts. And Hugh Jackman and Baz Luhrmann. Baz Luhrmann read a lesson in the church.

And Hugh Jackman has taken the stage at the beginning of the reception which is going on in a giant marquee attached to the chapel. And he sang the wonderful Peter Allen song "Tenterfield Sadness", which it turns out is Keith's favorite song. Nicole arranged for Hugh to perform this for Keith. And it's a Peter Allen song from his show, "The Boy from Oz".

That was closely followed by the groom himself. Yes, Keith has sung. He sang "Making Memories of Us", and he dedicated it to his new bride.

And then Neil Finn of Crowded House and Split Endz fame took to the stage. And shortly they'll be doing some swing dancing when a big band takes the stage. There's a little bit of everything.

The marquee decked out in red to represent passion. That's how Nicole wanted it. Beautiful red velvet curtains, chandeliers. And they've been dining on salmon and chicken.

LONG: Angela Bishop live with the scoop from the wedding of probably at least this century, at least for Australia. Thank you.

HARRIS: Yes. And may you both live "hoppily" ever after. Now let it rain. Here's the story. In India superstitious villagers believe that frog marriages will appease the rain gods and end a three-year drought. Now, this is serious business. Look, we couldn't make this stuff up even if we wanted to, and we don't.

LONG: And if it works...

HARRIS: And if it works, there you go. LONG: All right. Frogs and all being bringing us to our e-mail question of the day. We'd like to know, what do you think is the key to a happy relationship? Send us your comments,, and we will share your insight, your advice coming up throughout the morning.

HARRIS: And coming up next hour we'll be talking to a marriage expert about eight things you can start doing right now to improve your relationship.

OK. Let's read some of these e-mails. Want to?

LONG: Sure.

HARRIS: How about I start with Gary. Gary says, "I believe the answer is simple: open, honest communication. Respect each other's needs and differences. Honor one another. Take quality time apart and together, and never, ever go to bed mad at each other."

LONG: Bill writes in from New York City, "It's just very simple, if all you give out to your partner is love, it's quite likely that this is all you'll receive back. Give anger, get anger."


LONG: "Give fear, get fear. But wow, give love and love is what you'll find, and that I know." Bill, thank you.

HARRIS: OK. And Nicole says, "Tolerance and patience make for a happy marriage. Your spouse should not assimilate to your way of doing things. You have to tolerate the difference and be patient while they make their mistakes, because they did not do it your way." Tolerance, patience, according to Nicole.

Still time to send in your responses. What is your key to a happy relationship?

Still ahead, Bruce Springsteen takes on New Orleans. What impact did Katrina have on the Boss and his latest album? Answers from a rock superstar in an interview with CNN. That's at 9 a.m. Eastern on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

LONG: But first it's time for "HOUSE CALL", a look at the brain/heart connection. "HOUSE CALL" is next.


LONG: Updating a developing story from the Middle East this morning. Israel says one of its soldiers captured by a Palestinian militant is alive. Officials are trying to get him released. The soldier was kidnapped and two others were killed in an attack on an Israeli army post. Palestinian sources say president -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is involved in talks to free the captured Israeli soldier.

A plan for reducing U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Today's "New York Times" says the first cuts could come this September. The paper says the number of combat brigades could drop from 14 to five or six by the end of next year. That's if Iraq can handle its own security.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military says more than 100 Taliban have been killed since Friday in the latest military offensive. It is called Operation Mountain Thrust, and it is said to be the largest ever aimed at rooting out Taliban fighters. The military says two coalition soldiers died in fighting in southern Afghanistan.

In Sydney, Australia, actress Nicole Kidman and her beau, country star Keith Urban, are now newlyweds. The couple exchanged vows several hours ago in a Roman Catholic ceremony amid tight security.

And now CNN "HOUSE CALL". Host Elizabeth Cohen examines the intimate connection between the heart and the brain. We have more news coming up at the top of the hour.


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