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CNN NEWSROOM

3,000 U.S. Troops Dead in Iraq Since Start of War; Thousands Line Up to Pay Final Respects to Gerald Ford

Aired January 1, 2007 - 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.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: And hello I'm Melissa Long in today for Kyra Phillips.

LEMON: A terrible milestone reached in Iraq, more than 3,000 U.S. military deaths, brothers, sons, sisters, mothers and fathers. A closer look at some of those people ahead.

LONG: Honoring President Ford... thousands to line up to pay respects at the U.S. Capitol.

LEMON: And an NFL player shot and killed in an early-morning drive-by shooting. Was it a random crime that took the life of Denver cornerback Darrent Williams? You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin this hour with a number written boldly in the headlines and marked in blood on the battlefield. More than 3,000 American troops killed in the fight for Iraq. CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us. Hello Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you Don. Well, as the United States military now begins what will be its fifth year of war in Iraq, as you say, a milestone, more than 3,000 U.S. troops now having lost their lives in Iraq since the invasion in March of 2003. More than 111 U.S. troops losing their lives in the month of December 2006, the deadliest month of this year. This comes of course as President Bush is contemplating what the White House calls "the way forward in Iraq." Contemplating a new strategy and the possibility of sending even more troops to the battle zone, boosting the levels from the current 134,000 U.S. troops on the front line. But of course, a good deal of concern that more troops might mean just more targets and as the Pentagon likes to remind us, each and every one of these people leaves a family behind. Don?

LEMON: You know, the military always supported the president -- what the president was doing in Iraq but as the number of U.S. casualties reaches this latest milestone, a new poll shows a decrease in support for the war among military personnel. What can you tell us about that, Barbara?

STARR: Well, there is a poll out now and it is just one poll, published by "The Military Times," which is a private newspaper but nonetheless, is widely read by military audiences. Is the fourth annual poll that they have conducted and it shows 35 percent of service members polled say they approve of the way the president is handling the war, but 42 percent, the majority, disapprove. Only 41 percent of military members now say the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq. That 41 percent down from 65 percent in the year 2003. And now just about half say success is likely in Iraq. In 2004, some 83 percent of those surveyed thought there would be a successful outcome. This is a survey of 945 active duty members of the United States military. And now the fourth year of this survey, there's some indication that some of these people of course have already served a tour in Iraq, so these views perhaps reflecting their experiences. Don?

LEMON: All right Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much for that.

LONG: For troops on the front lines, every single one of those 3,002 deaths means a lost comrade and a stark reminder that they could be next. Let's get more on this story with CNN's Ryan Chilcote who is in Baghdad for more on the milestone. Ryan?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know if you talk to the troops and you ask them what this means, the number of 3,000, a lot of the troops quite frankly will tell you yes it's a measurement of the sacrifices that the troops are making. Just like the number of more than 22,000 troops wounded since the beginning of the war is a measurement of sacrifice. But no one here on the ground in the U.S. military really looks at it as a fair way to measure the success or failure of the war effort. They have a lot of other criteria that they use to measure, whether they think they're winning. They don't necessarily think that they're winning but they don't think that using that number of 3,000 deaths is a fair way to look at what's going on here in Iraq.

Keep in mind that the troops, by in large, are very dedicated. They want to see this through. They think that this can be won and they think that, if they get, a lot of the troops on the ground when you talk to them, if they do get that increased number of troops with a very focused mission here, here in the Iraqi capital and in the west of Iraq in the Ramadi province, where the violence is really up in both places. Then they think that they could win this. What they don't want people back home to do is, they don't want them to hear that number of 3,000, and feel that it's anything more than just a really measurement of their sacrifice. They want to keep fighting here. They think this is winnable. They do say that, sure, there are some questions about whether we should have gotten in or out. But a lot of soldiers will tell you, we broke it, we need to be here to fix it. Melissa?

LONG: Ryan Chilcote live from Baghdad. Ryan, thank you.

LEMON: The well-known and unknown alike are filing through the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, as many as 2500 an hour. They're paying their respects to Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States. A little later the 43rd U.S. president will join them. Our Gary Nuremberg is there. Hello to you, Gary. GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. There has been a steady stream of visitors standing in Washington's January rain, waiting for the opportunity to enter the historic capitol rotunda to pay their respects to America's 38th president, something they will have the chance to do until 6:00 this evening. Shortly before 9:30 this morning, two of Mr. Ford's children, Michael and Susan, accompanied by her husband, stopped for a reflective moment at his flag-draped coffin. And then surprised members of the public by staying in the chamber and personally greeting, saying "thank you," shaking hands with these complete strangers who had stopped by to pay their respects to their dad. These gracious children of gracious parents made the visit a memorable one for one man from Catonsville, Maryland, Carl Gilbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was moved and touched. We've lost a great American. President Ford helped heal our nation and the family is still helping to heal our nation.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NURENBERG: In his Saturday radio address, President Bush called Gerald Ford one of the finest public servants America has ever known, returning from Crawford, Texas later this afternoon, the president is expected to stop by the rotunda to pay his respects. He, of course, will be at the National Cathedral tomorrow for the funeral service. I was wondering today what motivated people to come actually stand in the rain, take the time and make the effort to pay their respects. And as I was doing that, read in the paper this morning in "The New York Times," a letter written by a man who was killed in Iraq to his son. A kind of guide for the life of a seven month old son that this man will never see grow up. And in that letter he said to his boy, quote, "Always pay your respects for the way people lived and what they stood for. It is the honorable thing to do." The words of 1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King to his son Jordan. Perhaps part of the motivating factor for the many who are standing in line in the rain today to do exactly the same thing.

LEMON: Gary Nurenberg, very well put, thank you so much for that.

The president and Mrs. Bush are on their way back to Washington from their Texas ranch. As we mentioned, they'll head straight to the capitol to pay their respects to former President Ford. Our Kathleen Koch has more from the White House. Hello Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is the plan, President Bush and the first lady will be arriving back at the White House in less than an hour and then will be immediately heading up to the capitol rotunda to pay their respects to former President Gerald Ford. Mr. Bush certainly was not age to be present for the state funeral on Saturday. He and Mrs. Bush still at their ranch outside Crawford, Texas for their weeklong holiday break. But the president will, as Gary Nurenberg just mentioned, be present at the funeral tomorrow morning at the National Cathedral, where he'll be delivering a eulogy. President Bush certainly did have a great deal of respect for former President Gerald Ford. In remarks after his death, remarks before the nation, calling him a great man, a true gentleman and saying, "For a nation that needed healing, for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came long when we needed him most."

And certainly everyone is very aware of the fact that President Bush drew a number of the top members in his team in his administration from the Ford administration. Vice President Dick Cheney was chief of staff to Gerald Ford. The defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was likewise, defense secretary under President Ford. Though it's important to point out the men certainly did not see eye to eye on every issue as was revealed very recently this week in a series of interviews. President Ford did not agree with President Bush's decision to take the U.S. to war in Iraq. He did not agree with making suspected weapons of mass destruction the primary justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But he kept those concerns to himself because as many people said that was the kind of president he was. Now the two men last visited together in April, when President Bush was in California for a series of fundraisers. He stopped by President Ford's home in Rancho Mirage. Had a very nice visit, a very cordial visit, the two men shaking hands, appearing very comfortable with one another. But I think it's interesting that there was really a sense at that time because of President Ford's age and his health that this would likely be their last visit and that certainly did turn out to be the case. Back to you.

LEMON: All right Kathleen Koch, thank you so much for that. CNN will be there tomorrow for Mr. Ford's funeral at the National Cathedral. Our live coverage begins at 9:00 a.m. eastern with a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM."

LONG: Hours after his season ended, violence took his life. A Denver Broncos player was shot to death today. We have the details and a live report from Denver ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And from pistol-packing judges to a provision making it illegal for teens to catch a ride in the trunk of a car. New laws now in effect in this New Year. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: Early this morning a drive-by shooting in downtown Denver and an NFL cornerback is dead. It is Darrent Williams, a Denver Bronco and reporter Greg Nieto of CNN affiliate KWGN joins us now live with the latest. Greg?

GREG NIETO, KWGN: Melissa, Bronco fans thought this morning, they would be waking up with a hangover of knowing the Broncos failed to make the playoffs, instead they wake up with this tragedy here behind me. We are just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Denver and this is the end result of a drive-by shooting that leaves a Denver Bronco football player, cornerback Darrent Williams dead. He was one of three people that were shot in that drive-by shooting very early this morning, actually 2:00 local time. Denver police say that this all started perhaps as the result of an altercation at a local nightclub. I don't know how well you can make out this H2 stretch limousine but there are a number of bullet holes in a couple of the doors there toward the back. We see one window that was completely shot out. Two of the people were taken to local hospitals, their conditions unknown at this point. Unfortunately Mr. Williams died as a result of his injuries at a local hospital. Of course Denver Police at this point simply trying to put the pieces together to this puzzle to find out who was responsible for shooting and killing Denver Bronco player Darrent Williams. Of course the search for the suspect or suspects does continue. The mourning though in the Mile High city has just begun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult, man, to wake up to a situation like this. I'm a football coach and unfortunately I had to bring a little buddy here, Kevon to see this but it's a sad reality of how society is and how life is on a whole where you just can't get along with people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a really good player.

NIETO: What did you like about him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked how he kept on picking the ball every play.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NIETO: We're hearing word this morning at least local time that Bronco player Darrent Williams perhaps was out and about ushering in the New Year with fellow Bronco teammate Javon Walker and some other folks, again late last night into the early morning hours. Again, as for the hummer here behind me, we're being told, that actually some 16 people were actually packed inside of that limousine at the time of the shooting. Again, three people were hit including Denver Bronco cornerback Darrent Williams. He was a second round draft pick of the Broncos last year from Oklahoma State University and had shown flashes of brilliance. Of course the biggest news we all got this morning was going to be how the Broncos blew their playoff chance. Of course that pales in comparison to the loss of life. Melissa?

LONG: Greg, you showed some of the comments from fans. I was on Williams' website earlier today reading some of the comments and prayers coming in for his family. What have we heard from the players themselves or the Denver Broncos organization itself?

NIETO: Yeah, there were a number of Broncos including some of his backfield mates like Dominic Foxworth and Champ Bailey who actually arrived at the hospital overnight to check in on their fallen teammate. As you can imagine, the Broncos were already kind of going through a tough time after losing yesterday and now to know that they lost one of their brothers, if you will, on the football field and the locker room obviously devastating, for the Broncos' part owner Pat Bolen, Broncos' coach Mike Shanahan. They have refrained from saying anything at this point until Denver Police are able to actually go to coroner's office and notify next of kin. LONG: Oh, ok, next of kin have yet to be notified, obviously personally from the authorities there. Reporter Greg Nieto from CNN affiliate in Denver KWGN. Thank you Greg.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LONG: Coming up, we're going to talk about a huge chunk of ice falling off of a remote Canadian island. And why should you care? Miles O'Brien joins us next in the NEWSROOM to lay it all out.

LEMON: And New Year, new laws, from pistol-packing judges to a provision making it illegal for teens to catch a ride in the trunk of a car. We're not making this up, stick around for details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: For many Muslim pilgrims this is the last day of the hajj, a final day of the stoning the devil ritual that often ended in deadly stampedes. Now this year though, Saudi authorities have gone through great pains to avoid another tragedy. For an update we are joined by CNN's Zain Verjee in Mecca. Hello Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Don. We met pilgrims from different conflict zones around the world, from places like Iraq, Sudan, Somalia. We met one man whose name is Mohammed Abed, he's from Gaza and he told us why he really needed to be here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): He's looking at a breathtaking image he's just made where the whole Muslim world is represented. But Palestinian photographer Mohammed Abed is between two worlds. Here in Mecca he's both journalist and pilgrim. His life and livelihood is Gaza. He says he's had enough.

MOHAMMED ABED, PHOTOGRAPHER: I need to change my mood. Every time I shoot the blood, it stretches between Israeli and Arab and Palestinian and Gaza. Ok, I should be upset but this makes a problem for me in my mind, in my emotions you know.

VERJEE: He's emotional in Mecca, too, he says. But the difference is he's anxious to cover this story and be a part of it.

ABED: I saw millions of people going around the Kaaba with the same clothes, the same chants, men and women together. It stopped me in my tracks, he says. Seeing the people circling the Kaaba really moved me. He says he was so awestruck at first, he couldn't even shoot. When he finally did, his pictures of the Kaaba ended up in the paper.

VERJEE: Out on the streets and on the marble of the grand mosque, Mohammed aims his camera at the faces he rarely gets to shoot. Like this old man. Or these women who wanted to pose. But it's not all smooth outside the grand mosque. He runs into police, ever-ready to pounce on photographers who aren't allowed near the Kaaba. A few feet away, he sees fellow Palestinians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know me?

VERJEE: Taking pictures of them makes him smile. The holiest day of the hajj pilgrimage is day two, the day of Arafat. Mohammed puts down his camera and utters a silent prayer alongside almost 3 million Muslims. He has a special plea.

ABED: I want to pray to the Palestinian people to finish the occupation and finish the clashes with Israel. This is the important thing I like.

VERJEE: Mohammed tries to cleanse his spirit here and erase the images of loss and pain in Gaza and replace them with this.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Pilgrims today are saying an emotional farewell both to the old oasis city of Mecca as well as to the Kaaba, the black cube like structure that you see behind me at the center of the grand mosque. At the end of this day of the hajj pilgrimage, they say that they have a real sense of spiritual renewal and rebirth. Don?

LEMON: Zain, there is always some concern about stampedes there. What measures have authorities taken to reduce the ever-present threat of stampedes at this year's hajj?

VERJEE: This is a real major concern of Saudi authorities. More than 300 people were killed in a stampede last year. I mean just imagine this Don, you're moving, something like almost 3 million people through the area, a size probably of a football stadium. You have to move them within a certain frame of time and they all have to do a certain set of rituals all in the same place and time out in the desert. So that's really tough. They've taken a numerous -- a number of different measures here to make sure that stampedes don't happen. They've invested in a $1.5 billion construction project and they basically made the bridge where pilgrims have to go through a lot wider. They've also built two stories so far. It's actually going to be built to five stories and there are two separate entry points for pilgrims to enter. Also crowd control measures really, really key here, have really been implemented well. What they've done is they have moved crowds, section by section, block by block. They make sure the crowds don't stop at all because that could be problematic. One other important thing they have done is they've tried to prevent pilgrims from bringing their luggage along with them. Because bringing their luggage creates congestion, people could trip over the luggage and that could be a trigger for a stampede as it was last year. Don?

LEMON: All right, Zain Verjee in Mecca, thank you so much.

LONG: The death a dictator uncensored. Iraqis are getting a glimpse of Saddam Hussein's final moments all captured on a camera phone, ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LONG: For the first time in decades, Iraqis are beginning a year without the specter of Saddam Hussein. The former dictator was buried yesterday near Tikrit, near his hometown, a day after his execution in Baghdad. CNN's Arwa Damon reports video of Hussein's final moment is gripping Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a Bluetooth frenzy. Iraqis in this cell phone shop in Sadr City pass on the uncensored video of Saddam Hussein's execution.

ABBAS MANSOUR, MOBILE STORE OWNER (through translator): It's something amazing. No one really believed that Saddam would be executed, because the people were so scared of him and his regime. So anything of him on TV or on mobile phones, they want to see it. It's like a thirst that cannot be quenched. Even little kids are looking for it.

DAMON: And not just on cell phones. It's also being dumped onto thumb drives, and this man is taking the distribution one step further. "We are going to copy it onto CD or tape and put it in the marketplaces," he says. "Because there is demand for it."

In the footage that the Iraqi government released, the video ends after the noose is placed around Saddam's neck. The concern among some officials was that if the government releases the execution in full, it will be viewed as being a brutal regime.

(on camera): But then, the unedited cell phone footage appeared on the Internet. Obviously shot in plain view of the authorities who were in attendance. Its distribution has preempted any rumors that Saddam Hussein might not be dead.

(voice-over): At Mahmoud Askar's home, a triple celebration. His nephew's engagement, the religious holiday of Eid, and Saddam's death. Even though these Kurdish family believes that Saddam deserved to be hanged for his crimes, they don't agree with the way that the execution was allowed to be shot and circulated.

MAHMOUD ASKAR, IRAQI RESIDENT (through translator): The way the whole thing was filmed was a bad decision by the government and ultimately helped Saddam because the people sympathize with him.

DAMON: But sympathy was hard to find among those who found satisfaction in the brutal images of their former dictator falling to his death.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: To millions he was a dictator, and to one man he was a patient. We'll speak with the Army sergeant who served as Hussein's nurse when he was first captured and held in U.S. custody. That's in the 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour right here in the NEWSROOM. LEMON: America's support for the war in Iraq has been on the slide for months. But this -- that's just civilian, right? Well, apparently not, a new poll in The Military Times newspaper finds only 35 percent of service members say they approve of President Bush's handling of the war, 42 percent disapprove. Only 41 percent say the U.S. should have gone to war in the first place. That's down from 65 percent in 2003. And now only half the respondents say success in Iraq is likely. In 2004, 83 percent predicted a successful outcome. The Times covers military issues but is not affiliated with armed forces.

Three thousands deaths in Iraq, countless tears at home. The headline from The New York Times when the U.S. military death toll in Iraq hit 3,000. The Times also has this special gallery. It's about three pages right here of fallen heroes in the paper. That all the troops that have died have been since late October of 2005. They come from all over, from big cities and from small towns. And newspapers across the nation are picking up their stories.

Now here's the headline in The Arizona Republic. "Brutal Year, Grim Milestone." For California's Orange County Register, the number speaks volumes. A headline simply reads "3,000." The same for Colorado's Rocky Mountain News. A pair of empty boots underscores a death toll. You can learn more about all the fallen heroes from Iraq. Just log onto our Web site NBC 5 -- NBC 5, excuse me, cnn.com/wariniraq.

LONG: It is of course the New Year. A grim number to have as we begin the New Year. And in the New Year many people resolve to improve their health. You make a resolution, you break a resolution, sometimes in the very same day. It doesn't have to be that way, though. New Year's resolutions, we have a survival guide coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: Important new advice for mothers to be. Pregnant women of all ages, not just over the age of 35, are being urged to get tested for Down syndrome. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points to the wide availability of tests that are far less invasive than the long-used but risky amniocentesis. About one in 800 babies is born with the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. But the risk goes up with the mother's age.

LEMON: A New Year, a fresh start, a good time to kick bad habits. New Year's resolutions are nothing new, but most are forgotten by Groundhog Day. CNN's Judy Fortin reports the key is to be realistic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Want to lose weight? Start exercising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Halfway there.

FORTIN: Or stop smoking? Experts agree it's easier said than done.

NADINE KASLOW, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: People take the behaviors about themselves that are most difficult to change, and then they say, they're going to stop them. And it's a failure.

FORTIN: Psychologist Nadine Kaslow advises her patients to come up with a realistic plan.

KASLOW: You can have a big goal you're reaching towards, but small goals along the way that are realistic, attainable, measurable. You know if you've done it. And it's very reasonable for you to try to do it.

FORTIN: She says it's important to enlist a buddy for support, and set a reasonable timetable to accomplish the goal.

KASLOW: I really think it's important, just like with any goal in life, to not give up. You'll have some setbacks. Maybe you'll accomplish two of your goals and not the third.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Left leg, walk, walk back, back, forward, forward.

FORTIN: Dr. Kaslow says resolutions don't have to be frustrating and stressful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are we doing?

FORTIN: They can add structure and organization to a daily schedule and a fresh start to the New Year.

With today's "Health Minute," I'm Judy Fortin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: A New Year, a new era for the State of New York. Democrat Eliot Spitzer was sworn in as the Empire State's 54th governor. Officially took the oath of office at midnight, succeeding Republican George Pataki, who chose to not seek a fourth term. Six hours later, Spitzer was off and running through the chilly rain, two miles around Albany's Washington Park. Quite an athlete. It took him less than 14 minutes, not bad.

LEMON: Cloudy and drizzling in Lansing as well, as Jennifer Granholm launches her second term as governor of Michigan. She and other state leaders are taking their oaths of office on the Capitol steps. Granholm cancelled several events out of respect for the late President and Michigan native Gerald Ford, who'll be laid to rest in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

LONG: What is so earth-shattering about some ice breaking loose in the Arctic? For one thing it's a lot of ice, 41 square miles. CNN's Miles O'Brien looks at why the experts are concerned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Another piece of evidence global warming may be real and may be happening faster than we first thought. Let's go right up to the top of the Earth here, this is Ellesmere Island. It is the northernmost island in Canada. The 10th-largest island in the world. Not much up there except an awful lot of ice. And in particular, the Ayles Ice Shelf.

About 16 months ago scientists were taking a close look at this ice shelf as we zoom in on it. And their attention was on this northern part of the ice shelf where they saw a big piece, 11,000 football fields in size, which broke off and headed off into the Beaufort Sea.

The scientist who discovered this is with the Canadian Ice Service. Her name is Laurie Weir. The Ice Service is there to look at satellite charts to make sure that ships can safely navigate through this treacherous part of the world. She was looking at this and saw this huge piece of ice that broke away inside that red circle there.

Let's go to a close-up now and you can see what we're talking about. I'll highlight it right in here. It dropped off in the matter of an hour and made its way out. Right now it's packed in with other ice over the winter. But it'll be interesting to see what happens to it in the spring. It is a possible threat to navigation at the very least, and of course a concern for those who are worried about climate change.

What is an ice shelf? We're not talking about sea ice here. We're talking about fresh water ice. Comes from glaciers which sit on the land. This yellow portion of this graphic right here is the land and the continental shelf. This is the sea out here. And the blue part is this ice sheet that we're talking about.

Glacier on the land, fresh water. The ice tends to stream out this way. And you see what's called caving, as huge pieces of it come off into the sea. But these big pieces that that are coming off, apparently because of the warm temperatures are becoming more and more common (ph) as scientists take a look at this.

Now why should we be concerned about this? Well, an awful lot of the world's fresh water is bottled up in these glaciers and ice shelves. In particular, let's go to other end of the Earth, Antarctica, where 70 percent the world's fresh water is in the ice which sits on top the Antarctic continent and is a part of these ice shelves. The Ross Ice Shelf is one the biggest ones. And there -- that also is a concern there as pieces of it drop off into the ocean. And as that ice shelf melts, that is when you begin to see sea level rise.

The sea ice that's currently in the ocean, as it melts, it doesn't rise sea level at all. It's just like ice in water, and as it melts in your drink, it doesn't change the level. But the ice which sits on these continents and is in these ice shelves which is cantilevered off across the water itself, as it melts and as it falls in, then we begin to see the sea levels rise. And that is why scientists are concerned. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: Miles O'Brien, thank you. Now the skiers are there. Resorts are ready. The only thing missing, the snow? Oh, to be in Colorado, right? We're going to take you to the snowless slopes of Europe ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Hundreds of storm troopers take to the streets in California, along with a Ewoks, so not to worry, and Darth Vader. It's the Tournament of Roses Parade, of course.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE LUCAS, DIRECTOR, "STAR WARS": And it's the way of saying, hey, we've been here 30 years and we're still going strong isn't this great?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We'll hear more from the grand marshal, guess who that is? Ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: New York City, by far the biggest New Year's celebration in the U.S., more than a million people packed Times Square, kissed in Times Square as they ushered in 2007. And it was a scene repeated all across the globe. Revelers in London cheered as Big Ben rang in '07. It was followed by a fireworks display, big enough to be seen throughout the city. In Rio de Janeiro, millions of people flocked to the beach to watch the annual fireworks show and ring in 2007.

LEMON: And of course the new year brings new laws. And for some workers in some states, more money. That's good news. Minimum wage is going up in Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. The state increases go as high as $7.50.

In Illinois, a new law goes after copycat music groups, tribute acts must make it clear in advertising that they're not the actual band. Alaska and South Carolina have new laws to curb school bullies. And in Wisconsin police now have to tape interrogations of felony suspects. Video or audio will do, and that is designed to prevent wrongful convictions.

LONG: Some of the new laws are conventional, some of them are kind of off the law. For example, legislators in California decided it was high-time beer samples were allowed in bars and restaurants.

Senior correspondent Allan Chernoff takes a look at some of the other sobering statutes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Happy New Year from Times Square. People do some pretty crazy things for the New Year. But then it is not just at the parties for New Year's Eve. If you consider some of the new laws, they seem a little wacky, too.

(voice-over): Pistol-packing judges could become the norm in Kansas. A new state law permits judges to carry concealed weapons into their courtrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have no problem with that. I would have no problem with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like that.

CHERNOFF (on camera): You wouldn't trust a judge to be a good shot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. I wouldn't trust anybody with a gun. No.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): California is cracking down on pranksters. It's now illegal to ride in the trunk of a car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead or alive.

CHERNOFF: Some live-wire teens apparently have been doing it. Now it will cost them $100 if caught.

And anyone taking more than 25 copies of a complimentary newspaper in California could be subject to a $250 fine and jail time for a second offense.

It's no longer a legal offense to take home a half-empty bottle of wine from a restaurant in Illinois. Patrons now get to drink every drop they paid for, perfect for New Year's Eve.

2007 rings in new rights for animals. In California, it's now illegal to keep a dog tethered for more than three hours. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the offender could be jailed for up to six months.

(on camera): A person could actually be sent to prison for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. I'm an animal lover, you know.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Pet owners can now show their love under a new law in Ohio by setting up a trust fund for their pooch.

(on camera): In Ohio, you're going to be allowed to set up a trust fund for your pet. Would you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure, why not?

CHERNOFF: You already have one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk to my kids. Everybody likes dogs, yes.

CHERNOFF: Wait a minute. You're losing your trust fund to your dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. That's not good.

CHERNOFF: More than two dozen states now have such a law permitting trust funds for pets. Could be a very happy New Year for them.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

LONG: What the plains have far too much of, Europe could use a bit more of -- a lot of, actually, snow. From the Alps to the Pyrenees, ski resorts are wondering where winter is?

CNN's Al Goodman has more from the French-Spanish border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Spain's oldest ski resort, Candanchu. It's too warm, which means not enough snow here and at ski resorts across Europe.

EDUARDO ROLDAN, SKI RESORT OWNER: We are in trouble.

GOODMAN: Eduardo Roldan heads Spain's Winter Sports Federation and also runs this resort.

(on camera): How high would the snow usually be right where we are?

ROLDAN: Normally one meter.

GOODMAN: So up to your waist.

(voice-over): Blame it on global warming, says a new report from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. French resorts recently canceled World Cup ski competitions, and here in the Spanish Pyrenees, only 20 percent of Candanchu's the ski runs are operating.

(on camera): This is the highest point of the resort that is open today for skiing, 2,020 meters, about 6,400 feet. But up there is the very highest point, which is closed today because there's not enough snow.

(voice-over): The expected holiday crowds are down, hurting business not just on the slopes, but at the resort's oldest hotel. Javier Landa's (ph) family has run it for three decades. He's not convinced that global warming is the culprit.

"In the last 30 years," he says, "this is the third time we've had little or no snow during the Christmas holidays. It's not so unusual." But some skiers beg to differ. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's global warming, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not normal that -- in this time. It is so less snow here.

GOODMAN: There's still enough to run a school for the next generation. But by the time they grow up, some experts warn, a fourth of the ski resorts in the Alps may not have enough snow. Still, many resort owners are optimistic.

ROLDAN: I am concerned, of course, but I'm not convinced that, that will be definitively the situation. I think that winter can come, can arrive.

GOODMAN: In the meantime, this resort turns on the slender snow- making machines at night so there will be powder by day, at least enough for a few more runs before the next snow falls.

Al Goodman, CNN, Candanchu, Spain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And new information just into CNN on the death of a Denver Broncos player just hours after his season ended. We'll bring that to you coming up at the top of the hour. You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.

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