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CNN NEWSROOM

James Brown Remembered; Preparations Made for President Ford's State Funeral; Iraq Braces for Saddam's Execution; FDA Debates Allowing Cloned Animals in Food Supply

Aired December 28, 2006 - 13:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Kyra Phillips.

A public good-bye for the Godfather of Soul through the streets of New York to the Apollo Theater. Remembering a legend.

LEMON: And the passing of President Ford. He's remembered as an ordinary man with extraordinary integrity. Today, more on his life and his wife Betty's lifelong love affair.

WHITFIELD: And wicked storms out west. Near hurricane-force winds hitting L.A. And the second blizzard in two weeks bearing down on Denver. The weather is the news, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And live pictures right now. The scene in Harlem, where thousands of people have been waiting for hours right outside the historic Apollo Theater right there, waiting for the moment of the gold casket carrying the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, inside the Apollo, where a viewing will be taking place.

And then later on, he'll be eulogized by, among other, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who will also be joining us here in the NEWSROOM with his thoughts on the legendary Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who passed away on Christmas day at the age of 73.

And there are the pictures, took place just moments ago, before the casket was taken inside. A horse-drawn carriage there, right there, outside the Apollo. Where, then, that gold casket, which is being carried there by the horses, was then taken inside the historic Apollo theater. All afternoon, we'll be paying tribute and paying homage to James Brown.

LEMON: We want to go to other news now. We're expecting a briefing from President Bush, who's at Crawford, at the ranch in Crawford. He's meeting with military and diplomatic advisers at his central Texas ranch to discuss the war in Iraq.

Now, the White House is playing down expectations of a major announcement here. But a new strategy is expected to be announced next month for Iraq, which could be rocked by violence. As you know, the execution of Saddam Hussein is expected to be carried out soon, so there is some concern about that. The president's to meet brief comments after the meetings today. Under review again, the plan to boost the number of troops to stabilize Iraq. And critics say that it would only increase Iraqi dependence on U.S. forces and push it further from taking control of the country.

But again we're waiting on a briefing from the president after he meets -- he's meeting now with those top diplomatic and military advisers.

Well, first this hour, the nation's farewell to Gerald R. Ford. In Washington, preparations are under way for only the third state funeral in 34 years. Tours of the Capitol are on hold, ahead of services to take place Saturday night.

America's 38th president being remembered in death for his decency, common sense and for healing the wounds of Watergate.

CNN's Dan Simon standing by in Palm Desert, California, where the first official tributes will take place tomorrow.

Hello, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don.

Well, the planning and preparation taking place at this hour. The Fords' church directly behind me. An honor guard from Washington, D.C., has been practicing its rituals.

And as you said, Don, the first viewing and service begins tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): President Ford's funeral will have tributes never afforded a former president. To recognize his 24 years in the House of Representatives, the longest tenure of any president, his casket will be placed outside the House chamber on Saturday.

And also outside the Senate chamber on Tuesday, because, as vice president, Ford was also president of the Senate.

GREG WILLARD, ASSISTANT TO FORD: I know personally how much those two tributes themselves meant to President Ford. And to know that this tribute was being planned by those two bodies meant more than, certainly, words that I could have today to describe.

SIMON: Greg Willard, who worked for Ford in the White House, was handpicked by the family to provide details of the former president's funeral and to read a letter written by Mrs. Ford.

WILLARD: "My family and I are touched beyond words by the outpouring of affection and the many wonderful tributes we have received following the death of my husband."

SIMON: The public will have ample opportunity to pay their respects, with a public viewing Friday at the church in Palm Desert, California. His body then flown to Washington. As recognition for his service in World War II, the motorcade will stop briefly in front of the World War II Memorial before heading to the Capitol, his body to lie in state in the rotunda on Sunday and Monday.

Then, on Tuesday, people in Ford's home state of Michigan will be able to pay their respects at the museum at Grand Rapids, where he'll also be laid to rest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: The St. Margaret's Episcopal Church has been the Fords' church for the last 30 years. His daughter Susan was married here in 1979. And in 1998, when the church expanded and built a grand new edition, the Fords helped raised the money for it.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right. Dan Simon, reporting from California. Thank you so much for your report, sir.

WHITFIELD: On to weather now and dangerous winds whipping across the Los Angeles basin. Already, we're seeing damage. This huge sign crashed on top of a building in the Sherman Oaks area. Downed power lines meant, also, about 9,000 people had no electricity.

About half an hour north of L.A., a section of Highway 5 is set to reopen any time now. It has been closed in both directions because of ice.

LEMON: A second blizzard ascending on Denver, a city still digging out from last week's storm. At least a foot of new snow is predicted. It could be another nightmare for holiday travelers. Last week, thousands were stuck for days -- remember that -- at Denver's airport. Some of their bags are still piled up.

More delays and cancellations are expected this weekend. Airport managers and city leaders hope they won't have to shut down that airport again, but say they will if they have to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER, DENVER: Our first priority is always going to be make sure that this airport's completely safe. And we're not going to keep it open longer than what is completely safe. And we're not going to open it sooner than we feel is completely safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And right now, ticket counters are packed with people trying to fly ahead of the storm. Denver's not the only city in the storm's path.

CNN's Bonnie Schneider is tracking it all from our severe weather center. Lots to talk about today, Bonnie.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: All right, Bonnie Schneider, keeping an eye on it. And we'll check back with you. Thank you very much for that.

When weather becomes the news, you can become a CNN correspondent. If you see severe weather happening, send us an I- Report. Go to CNN.com and click on I-Report. Or type in ireport@CNN.com on your cell phone and share your photos and your video.

WHITFIELD: The execution of Saddam Hussein. We're past "if." The issue now is when. It could be today, tomorrow, perhaps even next week, or whenever Iraqi authorities decide. But like most turning points in Iraq, this one will likely turn violent.

CNN's Ryan Chilcote is in Baghdad.

Ryan, how are they bracing?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka -- Fredricka, plenty of violence today in the Iraqi capital. Several bombings. We focus on two, two of the more -- two of the larger bombings.

The first bombing this morning was a twin bombing at a secondhand clothes market. At least seven Iraqis killed there. At least 35 sent to the hospital after that bombing.

Then a second bombing at a gas station. At least 10 Iraqis killed there. At least 25 wounded. And U.S. troops have come under fire as well. One U.S. soldier killed today in the Iraqi capital by a roadside bomb. That brings the total number of troops, U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to 99, making the month of December the second deadliest month this year, the fifth deadliest since the war began.

All this, of course, as Iraq awaits Saddam's execution. It could come any time now. According to Iraqi law it has to happen by January 27. But there are expectations that it could happen much sooner.

The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has said he would like to see Saddam hanged by the end of the year -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so, Ryan, given that many are bracing for any kind of violence or reaction as a result of the execution, how might that involve U.S. troops there?

CHILCOTE: Well, hopefully -- the idea is that the Iraqi government may try to preempt the violence by implementing some kind of curfew or using one of the curfews that already is in place in Iraq.

For example, on Fridays, there's a curfew when Iraqis go to the mosque. So the Iraqi government will do its best to try to preempt any kind of insurgent attacks, attacks that might come from Saddam loyalists that want to express their anger at Saddam's execution. Of course U.S. troops will be out. They are out in various portions of the Iraqi capital. And they will be prone to attacks if they do come. But U.S. commanders say that they will be prepared for that.

The important thing is really where those troops are going to be patrolling. There are some neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital where, undoubtedly, people will celebrate Saddam's execution. There are others where they will be very upset. So it really depends on where those troops are on the day of the execution -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Chilcote, thanks so much for that update from Baghdad -- Don.

LEMON: And as Fredricka told you at the top of the hour, it's show time at the Apollo. Let's take some pictures now at the front of the Apollo, where folks are getting ready to go in and pay their last respects to the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown.

You see that carriage there to left of your screen. That's what they -- there was the procession this morning that went through Harlem. They carried a gold casket out of that. And inside, according to our CNN reporters there, is a flower arrangement that says -- huge flower arrangement that says "godfather." As soon as we get those pictures from inside, we'll bring them to you.

But we'll be following this all day, a live report. Plus, we'll have the Reverend al Sharpton who says James Brown was his mentor. We'll have him live for you.

WHITFIELD: Chaos descends in Mogadishu as Somali troops backed by Ethiopia get the upper hand over Islamists. But it's clear the fight for control is far from over. A live report coming up next in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Scattered, smothered and cloned. No matter how you slice it, genetic copies of your favorite foods may soon be on the menu. That's right. And we'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta with all the details in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Thank you for watching the CNN NEWSROOM. Let's take some pictures now of the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. Live shot of our camera there. That is where they're holding the services for legend, we can call him, James Brown.

James Brown always drew huge crowds to the Apollo Theater. We know that today is no exception, 50 years after Brown's first appearance. It's where he made his first appearance. Legendary.

WHITFIELD: Yes, he did a lot of them there.

LEMON: yes. At the legendary Harlem show place, which is the Apollo, fans are paying their respects.

We want to join our affiliate reporter from New York 1, Roger Clark.

Roger, we understand people were going -- walking behind that procession, chanting, "Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud." What are you finding out there today in New York?

ROGER CLARK, NEW YORK 1 REPORTER: Let me tell you something, it has been quite a morning. We got here at about 6:30 in the morning, and there were people here already waiting online from midnight the night before.

A mother and son were the first two people on the line. The mother insisted, her son said, you have to come see James Brown at the Apollo for the last time.

So really, it's an incredible scene. There are going to be thousands and thousands of people who have been waiting out -- and it's not a really cold day here, but cold enough that if you wait in line for five hours it becomes uncomfortable after a while. And just basically waiting just to catch a glimpse, one last time, of James Brown.

Of course, he had so many nicknames. We know him as the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, Soul Brother No. 1, the hardest working man in show business.

And once again, just like he has in the past, he's filling up the Apollo Theater. Probably could actually today fill it up ten times over. I mean, there's that many people here.

The 120 Fifth Street really is -- this is the main retail strip here in Harlem. And it is just -- there's people both ways, both sides of the Apollo marquee, for blocks. And it just is an incredible scene.

And people are still waiting actually to get in right now. Just about maybe 15 minutes ago that horse drawn carriage you were talking about made its way from about 20 blocks away, from 145th Street, bringing the body of James Brown here to the Apollo.

It was brought in. It will lay in state on the stage throughout the day. And that's when people will have a chance to say their final good-byes here to James Brown.

And you know, it's funny because he made a record here back in 1962, "James Brown Live at the Apollo". And that really -- he'd already had hits on the R&B charts, but that really shot him up to fame.

The Apollo was always like a second home to him. He was from the south, of course. But people here in the Harlem community simply adored James Brown, and they were willing to wait out in the cold for hours and hours and hours just to catch one last glimpse of him.

LEMON: Yes, Harlem, especially, Roger, 125th Street, much different place 50 years ago, much different place now. Probably a lot more diverse than it was then. That procession -- I guess the viewing 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

What kinds of -- what kinds of folks are you seeing showing up there? Diverse crowd? And also, I would imagine, some celebrities, but they may not get there until a little bit later on this evening when the services start.

CLARK: Yes, I got to meet one kind of cool person who was -- it was a surprise, was Iran Barkley who was -- he actually knocked Thomas Hearns out twice. He was a great boxer, in line waiting to come in. But he wanted to pay his respects to James Brown. It was a real shock.

And throughout the day, we're expecting more and more notable names. You talked about Al Sharpton before and so on and so forth.

But there's people from all age groups. There was one interesting -- it was a grandmother, her daughter and then her daughter. So three generations of people, James Brown fans.

And of course, the young girl had her James Brown here and there. But she said she felt she really wanted to come and pay her respects. She'd heard so much about this man from her mother, from her grandmother, and she wanted to come along with them and wait for hours and hours to catch just one last glimpse of this great entertainer.

WHITFIELD: Hey, Roger, this is Fredricka in Atlanta. And I'm wondering what the setup is inside. Folks who are familiar with seeing the Apollo from "Showtime at the Apollo", that television show, but then to set up this casket inside and to allow this procession to file through, do you have any lay of the land?

CLARK: Well, yes, unfortunately, I've been out here all day. I don't know if I can get inside at any point.

But I hope it's -- you know, I hope it's -- however they have it set up, I hope it's, for these folks, the easiest possible way for them to get in, pay their respects, go out, get back home, warm up, get something to eat. Because I would imagine a lot of these folks haven't even had breakfast or lunch yet, they've been here so long.

LEMON: Yes, yes. And we're going to get a look inside just as soon as they allow us. But we know it's going to be beautiful. They'll set it up, in Harlem. This is going to be historic, obviously.

Roger Clark, joining us from CNN affiliate, New York 1. Thank you, sir. Try to get warm and get inside, because you know, you want to see some of it, too. This is history being made. Thank you.

CLARK: Yes, sure.

LEMON: And we want to tell you guys, for continuing coverage of the James Brown funeral at the Apollo, check out CNN Pipeline. Just go to CNN.com/pipeline for live streaming video of the service.

WHITFIELD: Well, get used to it, Denver. The shovel, well, it's your friend this winter. A second storm set to slam the city today. Travelers beware.

And bulldozers are already headed out to man their battle stations. This shot taken just a few minutes ago on one of Denver's major roadways. It looks good now, but something tells me in a few hours, it's not going to look so good. We're live from the Mile High City straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And meat from cloned animals, would you eat it? It may be coming to a restaurant or supermarket near you. Food for thought, straight ahead, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Meat from clones. Is it safe? Will it sell? CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us with more on that.

And I kind of wanted to ask, are you OK with that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this is fascinating. It's intriguing. It's science meets ethics in sort of the wildest way really, talking about cloned animals.

The FDA releasing some recommendations. Nothing is set in stone by any means. But actually talking about the fact that four years worth of data exists now, looking at whether cloned animals, their offspring and the food that they make might be safe.

Specifically, looking at and then saying that the clones' offspring and food they produce presents no additional risk. Doesn't necessarily mean it's safe, but it's as safe as any of the other food that we have out there.

And only -- to put it in perspective, there's only about a few hundred cloned animals out there right now. Cattle, pigs and goats are the only animals they're specifically talking about.

And the interesting thing they did, as well, Fred, is they did a moratorium on this. We're not going to see cloned meat or milk show up on our grocery shelves any time soon. There's a moratorium until April 2, at least, allowing a public discourse on this, because it is controversial.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GUPTA: And they're trying to determine how they're going to proceed from there.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and clearly, people are going to have strong ideas about this. But maybe before they even express that, they want to know, you know, what are the advantages? I mean, why even do this? What's the argument that is the real selling point here?

GUPTA: Well, there are a few arguments. And there's -- again, there's people who weigh very strongly on either side of this issue. But people will talk about the fact that, first of all, cloned animals, they say, are no different than other animals. In fact, after the first 6 to 18 months, when any genetic problem would sort of declare itself typically, it's virtually indistinguishable.

Also, I think the biggest point here is that it allows exceptional animals to be duplicated. So for example, on ranches today, you might have a particularly -- an animal who makes particularly good meat or lots of milk. You want to reproduce that animal.

Here, you can essentially make an identical twin of that animal by cloning and allow that animal to breed, so it can be more profitable.

Also, the meat and milk most likely won't come from the clones themselves, but from the offspring.

WHITFIELD: That's right.

GUPTA: So the cloned animal themselves would just be used to breed more animals. The offspring will be the sort of meat and milk producers.

WHITFIELD: What's the argument against it?

GUPTA: Part of the argument, I think, is sort of your gut reaction you had when you heard this story, which is kind of the ick factor. Wait a second; what am I going to be eating here or drinking here from cloned animals?

People say, look, it should not be in the food supply for lots of different reasons. It hasn't been tested on humans specifically. OK, they've looked at all these studies for four years, but they're looking at the meat or the milk. Until you start actually giving it to humans, you don't really know what that's going to show.

Also, cloned animals are often burned sick or deformed. We know that because there's been a lot of cloning. And that's obviously a problem as well. And the meat and milk from clones is likely to not be labeled.

WHITFIELD: So we're not even going to know. So it doesn't matter what we think.

GUPTA: They haven't reached a final decision, but there's a good chance that it might not be labeled. The argument against labeling, it puts an inherent bias. If you're labeling it as cloned meat, then people are going to say, "I don't want that. I want the other meat."

So it's a fascinating topic. And it's going to go on for a few months now, in terms of this public discourse, which is an interesting way of handling it. No decisions made as of yet, though.

WHITFIELD: I imagine another argument is going to be full disclosure. People want to know what they're buying.

GUPTA: I think -- I think that gets back to the labeling thing. And I think that is going to be -- you know, people are having strong voice about this already, saying, "I want to know what I'm buying." Whether it is cloned, whether it has hormones in it, whether it's made a certain way, which farm it's from.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GUPTA: Full disclosure has been something that people have advocated for a long time. We'll see if we get it.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sanjay. Thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, of course, cloned food is just one topic that will be on our minds in the upcoming year. For a peak at other medical stories Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be pursuing, check out his year- end special, "House Call", "Prognosis '07". You can see it tomorrow at 11 p.m. Eastern. And it airs again on Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. Eastern, 5 a.m. Pacific, right here on CNN.

LEMON: Something else we're waiting on some tape from the president; a meeting this morning with diplomatic and military leaders. We know the president will come out to how he's going to respond to all these reports about the Iraq war, the Iraq Study Group came out with a report, and a number of other reports, the Pentagon report. And talking about what he calls his way forward in Iraq.

Why don't we bring in our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano. She's been traveling with the president. She's in Crawford now.

What should we expect to get from this, Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM: Well, Don, we do have a little bit of readout from the reporters who actually went there, and heard the president's comments in person. And as expected, no major announcements. No major decisions came out of this, as promised by the president's aides.

Instead what we heard is the president talked about how he believes progress is being made in the plan and the crafting of a plan for Iraq. He called this meeting for today with his top national security advisers, an important part, in forming conclusion about what to do next.

The president also signaling more consultations to come; wants to continue talking to the Iraqi government, continue talking to members of Congress, as well. And really make them understand the importance of this mission.

The president also noting the troops, that as we head into the new year, he is keeping them in his thoughts. And the president said when he has asked about his resolutions, he is -- his resolution this year is to partly help this young democracy in Iraq.

LEMON: Elaine, I hate to cut you off. QUIJANO: Here's the president.

LEMON: Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first time we've had a chance to sit down with Secretary Gates since he came back from Iraq. General Pace went with the secretary. They reported firsthand what they saw, what they found. It's an important part of coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq, that will help us achieve our objective, which is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for your timely trip. And thank you for this important briefing.

We've got more consultation to do, until I talk to the country about the plan. Obviously, we'll continue to work with the Iraqi government. The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding. We want to help them succeed.

And so we'll continue to consult with the Iraqis. I'm going to talk to Congress. Not only will I continue to reach out to Congress, but members of my team will do so as well. I fully understand it's important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission.

It's important for the American people to understand. Success in Iraq is vital for our own security. If we were not to succeed in Iraq, the enemy, the extremists, the radicals, would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks. They would be emboldened. They would be in a position to threaten the United States of America. This is an important part of the war on terror.

I'm making good progress toward coming up with a plan that we think will help us make our objective. As I think about this plan, I'm always -- have our troops in mind. Nobody more important in this global war on terror than the men and women who wear the uniform, and their families. As we head into a new year, my thoughts are with them. My thoughts are with the families who have just gone through a holiday season with their loved one overseas. My thoughts are with the troops as we head into 2007.

People always ask me about a new year's resolution. My resolution is that they'll be safe. And that we'll come closer to our objective. That we'll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive. And, therefore, we'll be writing a chapter of peace.

I can't thank our families enough for supporting their loved one who wears the uniform. I can't thank those who -- soldiers and sailors and airmen, Coast Guard, men and women, folks in the Air Force, who represent the United States of America. May God continue to bless them. Thank you, all, very much.

QUESTION: Mr. President what do you think about Saddam Hussein --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And, of course, the president not taking any questions. You saw him with the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he's also with Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs chair, there. Stephen Hadley, there. None of them talking to the media, or either answering question, not even the president.

But what he continued to focus -- also Gates and Cheney, was there -- Vice President Cheney, and also the new Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, also there.

Would he -- Elaine Quijano, what struck me most is he kept referring to this as a young democracy, and that we were going to support a young democracy to make sure that they were going to get on their feet.

And saying that he wanted closure to this situation, right? And more consultation before he talked to the American people.

QUIJANO: Right, exactly, Don. This is a president who is under tremendous political pressure to change course in Iraq. He's not going to have a Republican-led Congress when they come back for the new year, instead it will be Democrats.

And he understands full well that the voices certainly for change have been mounting for sometime. People becoming increasingly critical of his Iraq policies. President Bush acknowledging, certainly, that it is something that people do want to see closure on. But also, at the same time, maintaining that he is committed, in fact, to seeing Iraq survive as a democracy. The president underscoring that with his last comment there, talking about how one of his new year's resolutions really is to see Iraq succeed.

The president also noting that as the pressure continues to build for him to announce some sort of change to his Iraq policy, that more consultations will continue. They want to talk to the Iraqi government. And he said, key in all this is that the Iraqi government will be willing to deal with those elements within Iraqi society that are fomenting this sectarian violence.

Also the president saying he wants to reach out to members of Congress, continue doing so, and have members of his administration do so, as well. Noting for Republicans and Democrats to understand the importance of this mission.

And the president also, as I mentioned earlier, talking about keeping the troops in mind, as they enter into the new year. But, again, Don, as we had been told to expect by the president's aides, there were no decisions out of that. Instead, perhaps, a little bit more of a window into his thinking. And the big question is, when exactly and what exactly will the president be announcing as far as changes to his Iraq policy?

We're still hearing sometime in January. But aides are being very, very careful not to talk about where the president is exactly, Don, when it comes to the decision making process. As you know, they had originally said a few weeks ago it would likely take place before Christmas. That didn't happen. So we'll wait to see as the president continues with his consultations -- Don.

LEMON: I also thought it did say something that he said he would reach across the aisle because he wanted members of Congress, both Republicans -- as you said -- and Democrats, to weigh in on this. Which seems to be, possibly, a bit of a change. As you said, addressing the families there. It's supposed to be before Christmas. But, again, how close to the first of the year do we expect it? If at all, do we know that?

QUIJANO: We have a sense in the early part of the year is what we've been told. You have to keep in mind that one date that is out there is January 23rd is the State of the Union Address. So the thinking -- the conventional thinking -- is that it would happen sometime before that.

But we have not heard anything of a -- in the way of a definitive kind of time frame if you will, when asked about this, when pressed about this. All his aides will say is expect it to happen in January, Don.

LEMON: Elaine Quijano in Crawford, thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Also ahead, something we're watching. The chaos that's descending in Mogadishu, as Ethiopia gets the upper hand over Islamic troops. But it's clear the fight for control is far from over. We'll have a report up next in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And it is show time at the Apollo. You're looking at live pictures, but it's not show time in the usual sense. This time, it's the fans. They're giving it up for the last time for James Brown. More on the funeral in Harlem, just ahead in the NEWSROOM. Also, we'll have the Reverend Al Sharpton to talk about the person he calls his mentor, and the father figure in his life.

You're in the NEWSROOM

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Chaos in Somalia's capital. Islamist fighters in full retreat, ahead of government troops supported by troops from Ethiopia. For latest, let's bring in CNN's Frederick Plakin, who is in the Ethiopian capital -- Frederick.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM: Well, basically what's happening right now is what the Ethiopian government telling us the Islamist fighters are in something like a state of disintegration where what's happening is that warlords that had been supporting the Islamists in Somalia are now switching sides, and joining the government side.

Nevertheless, there is still a lot of looting going on in the Somali capital. We can have a look right now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (voice over): Looting and gunfire in the streets of Somalia's capital Mogadishu. Islamist fighters retreated from the city as troops of Somalia's interim government moved in. But order has yet to be restored.

"Security was tight before, but violence started again today. And I don't know where the Islamic Courts Militia and officials have done," this Mogadishu resident says.

Somali's transitional government fears the situation could get out of hand. It is calling on local warlords and clansmen to help curb the looting and violence. The Islamists have vowed to stay in Mogadishu, now some vowed to fight no, but others concede defeat.

"The Islamic Courts Union will accept and let the Somali people choose whatever administration they want. We are ready to give up power," says the vice chairman of the Islamic Courts Counsel.

The tide turned against the Islamist fighters when Somalia's neighbor Ethiopia entered the conflict with its superior forces. It says about 2,000 Islamist fighters have died, another 5,000 wounded.

MELES ZENAWI, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: I believe something like 5 percent of our mission is complete. But we still have things to do. First of all, there still are remnants of the extremist elements.

PLEITGEN: Ethiopia says it intends to continue tracking down what it calls hard-line jihadists in southern Somalia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Now, what the prime minister also told us is that he's going to keep his troops within Somalia for another several days, if not another couple of weeks. Now that really is a very important issue in all of this. There's a lot of distrust between Ethiopia and Somalia. A lot of wars have been fought between these two countries. Many Somalis are not exactly thrilled about having Ethiopian troops in their country.

So, what's happening right now is the Ethiopian troops, which are really the strong arm of the Somali government, and really helped the Somali government in taking back the country, are staying out of Mogadishu, not moving into Mogadishu, so as not to really make the situation any worse than it already is.

WHITFIELD: Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much.

LEMON: Air travelers, beware. A second blizzard threatening to sock Denver today. Live pictures; you can see it's already starting to come down. It can snarl airports coast to coast. Storm days, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Uh-oh. Ready or not, I should say, here it comes! There it is. A second blizzard bearing down on Denver. That's a live picture right now. That means snow on top of snow, and possibly another shutdown of that airport. That's where CNN's Snow Correspondent -- I'm going to start calling him that -- Jonathan Freed is watching. And he's waiting.

Hello to you, Jonathan.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, Don. I will proudly accept that title, snow correspondent, that sounds great. If it might occasionally comes with skis, on a better news day.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yeah.

LEMON: You'll take that, right?

FREED: That will be all right.

WHITFIELD: Well, you're not far from the resort, so you know, make it happen.

FREED: That's right, that's right.

I will tell you guys, we've been saying all morning it was supposed to start snowing here at around noon Denver time. We're coming up on noon. We are, indeed, seeing the first flakes here at the airport. We have reports it's a little more intense, a little bit further away from where we are right now.

I can tell you, that I just spoke to United Airlines. United says that although it is not anticipating things to get so bad that the airport will actually shut down here. We don't know whether or not that will actually happen. They are not anticipating that yet, based on what they're seeing.

They still made decisions, guys, to go ahead and start canceling some flights in and out of Denver after 6:00 p.m. tonight. They're doing that to try to free up the schedule. And they're asking their customers to check the website, and before you come to the airport, to see whether or not your flight has been affected. They're already working at trying to reroute people around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREED (voice over): You're looking at the last hundred or so bags still sitting at United Airlines baggage claim in Denver after last week's storm. Some 5,000 travelers were stranded here for two days, most sleeping wherever they could.

United alone canceled 1800 Denver flights. And says it managed to reunite most people with their bags. And get them on their way within 24 hours of the airport reopening last Friday.

The question is, have they cleared the place out only to have it happen all over again? Denver's mayor says if it does, despite the inconvenience, the city will not compromise safety.

MAYOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER, DENVER: We're not going to keep it open longer than what is completely safe; and we're not going to open it sooner than we feel is completely safe.

FREED: Plowing this place is no small task.

(on camera): When your crews plow every inch of concrete at this airport, how much have they touched?

CHUCK CANNON, DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: We're talking about 1200 lane miles. That's enough for a single lane road from Denver to San Francisco or Denver to Detroit, depending on which way you want to go.

FREED: Airlines are already waiving restrictions on tickets to help people who want to try to get out ahead of a second storm in a week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREED: OK, so here's the status update, guys. This very unscientific observation of what's going on in this immediate area. While the story was running, a few more flakes have been falling now. I'm looking off to my left here. I'm seeing a little bit of blue off to my right, with the mountains in the background, which I can't see anymore whiteout conditions. So here we go again.

LEMON: All over again. Jonathan Freed, indeed, we're going to call you Jonathan Freeze, you'll be there watching it all --

FREED: I knew you were going to say that. I knew --

LEMON: You gotta do it. We do it every time. But Jonathan, we'll keep checking with you. Let us know what happens. If you hear about anymore flights being canceled or what have you.

Best of luck, my friend.

FREED: Will do.

WHITFIELD: Thanks.

Well, it's a political re-run. He made a pass at the presidential nomination and got the second spot on the Democratic ticket in '04. Now John Edwards decides to try it again. We'll have details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: We're also following this story. We'll look back at the life of legendary performer James Brown. You can see, there, live pictures from Harlem at the famed Apollo Theater.

Fans are gathering there. Look at the crowds. They have been gathering all morning. We heard from the reporter, they've been there early this morning.

WHITFIELD: Midnight.

LEMON: Yeah, since midnight, starting overnight, gathering there to say good-bye to the Godfather at the Apollo. Al Sharpton is one of those mourners. We'll speak to him. You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: You're looking at live pictures of how many people want to pay homage to James Brown, whose body is in an open casket inside that theater. All day long, they are at 125th Street in Harlem. When James Brown's heart gave out on Christmas Day, the curtain fell on a career that spanned half a century. CNN Entertainment Correspondent Sibila Vargas looks back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES BROWN, SINGING: Wow! I feel good!

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM (voice over): He was the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, a performer who lit up the stage with his distinctive voice.

BROWN: I knew that I would!

VARGAS: And endless supply of energy. All James Brown did was change the face of R&B, Soul and Funk music in the '60s and '70s, leaving behind those signature tunes that continue to influence today's generation of musicians.

Growing up poor in the Depression-era South, Brown said he shined shoes and danced for spare change. In spite of a criminal record dating back to an armed robbery conviction in his teens, Brown managed to become a certified musical icon.

He emerged as a standout talent in the R&B group The Famous Flames, in the late '50s. With the hit album "Live at the Apollo" released in 1963, James Brown shined in the national limelight. A year later, he and the Famous Flames performed together for the last time.

BROWN (SINGING): Papa's got a brand-new bag!

VARGAS: Soon after, Brown recorded two of the songs he would be known for the rest of his career. His hits, "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "I Got You", in which he coined his catch phrase --

BROWN (SINGING): I feel good!

VARGAS: Topped both the R&B and Pop charts in 1965.

Brown's style of rhythm and blues with attitude gradually earned its own genre. By the '70s, his music was funk. He led a new group, The James Brown Review, and the performer was now bona fide hit machine, with more than 50 Top 10 R&B songs under his belt by the mid '70s. But in the late '70s, a new musical craze took over the country and the '60s hit maker Soul Brother No. 1, struggled to connect with the disco generation.

Cameo appearances in hit movies of the '80s like "The Blues Brothers" reintroduced Brown and his quirky performance style to younger audiences.

BROWN (SINGING): Find out who you are, wooo! Living in America.

VARGAS: His "Living in America" became a Top 10 hit in 1985, with both the song and singer appearing in "Rocky IV." That success was short-lived. By 1988, Brown, once again, found himself tangling with the law. First came allegations of assault on then-wife Adrian Brown.

And just a year later, after Brown allegedly threatened people with a handgun, he sent police on an interstate car chase with police opening fire on Brown's pickup truck. He was sentenced to six years in prison, paroled after two and a half. Brown had several more brushes with the law through the 1990s, arrested multiple times for drug possession and domestic abuse.

BROWN (SINGING): Back up and do The James Brown.

VARGAS: But that couldn't change what Brown had done for music. The singer received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and inductions to both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2003, Brown was named a Kennedy Center honoree. He continued to work well into his '70s, touring internationally and performing for special events. James Brown, the self-described hardest-working man in show biz lived up to his name.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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