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Laid-Off Workers Refuse to Leave Chicago Factory; First Vietnamese-American Elected to Congress

Aired December 7, 2008 - 07:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, and good morning. This is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is December 7th. I'm Betty Nguyen.
RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Richard Lui, in for T.J. Holmes. He's off today.

Thanks for starting your day with us on this Sunday. Let's get you caught up on what's going on today.


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: All the company has to do was 60 days ago, call the workers together...


NGUYEN: Well, it is another day of protests at a Chicago factory where workers are refusing to leave after learning that they will be laid off. Workers say they're not going to go until all their demands are met.

LUI: And then we take you to New Orleans, Louisiana, where voters boot out a long-term Democratic congressman in favor of a newcomer Anh Joseph Cao and the first -- he is now the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress. We'll talk to him live later this morning on the show.

NGUYEN: But first, the nation's struggling Big Three automakers, they could get a jump start this coming week. A White House source confirms that weekend talks have been going on, and under consideration, a deal that would keep the troubled companies out of bankruptcy court for the short-term, perhaps through the early spring.

Now, the loan amount? $15 billion to $17 billion. General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have asked for $34 billion.

A key senator says the nation can't afford to use a major manufacturing sector.


SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) FINANCE CHAIRMAN: Now, the question about the condition of our economy and what's been going on, I don't think you can begin to calibrate the level of frustration people would feel if we -- in the midst of all this -- would end up losing a major manufacturing sector. So, I'm determined to do what I can here to get us to the point, not that we're going to resolve all of these issues in 72 hours, but get us to a point where we have the opportunity for resolving the issues. That's really what this amounts to over the next couple of days.


NGUYEN: And it is expected that the Obama administration will face having to come up with a long-term solution.

LUI: And another sign of our troubled economy -- this is the story we're following for you -- more than 200 laid-off union workers at Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago are still refusing to leave the plant. They're just plain upset. No severance pay, no vacation pay, and no insurance.

Jae Miller of affiliate CLTV has more.



JAE MILLER, CLTV REPORTER (voice-over): In the freezing cold, hundreds of workers, their families, and even strangers, outraged over the raw deal they say employees of Republic Windows & Doors were given, stood on the steps of the plant in solidarity calling for justice.



FRIED: When do we want it?


FRIED: All right.

MILLER: Workers were told Tuesday that the plant was closing its doors Friday because the company's lender, Bank of America, had canceled the company's line of credit. And then yesterday, they were told that the bank would not release funds for severance or vacation pay. And the kicker? Their medical benefits had already expired.

BICENTE RANGEL, LAID-OFF WORKER: The company had told us this morning that we had no insurance since yesterday. So, I was going to take my kids to get their shots tomorrow. I can't do it. I've got no insurance.

MILLER: Under the federal Warren Act, workers are to be notified 60 days prior to any layoffs or closings, or be paid for 60 days in lieu of a notice. These workers got neither.


MILLER: Last night, employees rallied together, getting the attention of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who is now calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: All the company had to do was 60 days ago, call the workers together and have an orderly, right, transparent closing of the plant. That's what the Warren Act says. It didn't say anything other than that. Had they done that, we would not be here right now.

MILLER: Workers plan to occupy the building as long as they have to, making sure that none of the companies' assets are hauled away, assets they say, belong to them as well.

FRIED: Three days' notice, penniless on the street. That's just not acceptable and we can't live in a country that allows that. So, workers are demanding justice now. We're not going to let the Bank of America off the hook. We're not going to let Republic Windows & Doors off the hook. And we're going to fight this to the very end.


NGUYEN: Well, the struggling economy is issue number one for most Americans. So, we are asking you how are you being affected by the news of record job losses in November? E-mail us, let us know. Have you lost your job? Are you on the brink of losing it? Does all of this just have you worried?

Again, that e-mail address: Right there up on the screen. We'll read some of your responses a little bit later this morning.

LUI: Sources tell CNN, a wounded veteran has been tapped for the top job at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This announcement is expected to happen today on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Live now is CNN's deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser, who's in Washington.

Paul, good morning to you. And what do you know about retired Army General Eric Shinseki?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And he made a lot of news about five years ago. He was Army chief of staff at that time. And he testified in front of Congress just about a month before the Iraq war. And he testified that a lot more troops would be needed to pacify Iraq after an initial U.S. victory. And that testimony was said to infuriate Donald Rumsfeld and a lot of top Pentagon and Bush administration brass because they wanted to fight the war with less troops rather than more.

Shinseki retired soon after June of '03. And critics of the way the Bush administration handled the war have always pointed to that testimony and said that, you know, the Bush administration and Donald Rumsfeld didn't listen to Shinseki.

So, that -- the two Democratic sources are telling us that, yes, later today at this news conference, on the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, that Obama will name him as veterans secretary.

One of the thing he has in common with Barack Obama, they were both born in Hawaii.

LUI: OK. And now, we have another name for the inner circle of President-elect Barack Obama. Who is left in terms of what's open right now?

STEINHAUSER: We got a lot left. You know, Barack Obama has named a lot but there's about six or seven cabinet secretaries left and I won't go through the whole list. And he's also got the CIA director, the National Intelligence director, EPA. So, he's got a large list left and expect -- I would assume -- a lot more news conferences in Chicago this week coming up and maybe even a week after.

LUI: To keep you busy just a little, right, Paul? OK.


LUI: Hey, let's talk about the vice president, Biden. And he wants to shake up what has been the definition of the office of the V.P. as of late.

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. As of late, which is a good way to put it, because I think Vice President Cheney has definitely broadened maybe the responsibilities of the vice presidency, at least during his term. One thing Joe Biden won't be doing, that was what Vice President Cheney does now, and that is, Vice President Cheney goes up and meets behind closed doors with the Republican caucus in the Senate.

And that is something that Joe Biden will not be doing, even though he is currently senator, you know, a long-time senator from Delaware. We're hearing Joe Biden will not be going up to the Senate and meeting with the Democratic caucus, which is the Democratic senators meeting behind closed doors. That word coming both from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and also, from Biden's office, from the vice president-elect's office. So, don't expect that.

LUI: All right. Thank you, my friend, for joining us this morning. Paul Steinhauser, CNN's deputy political director, this morning.

And just a reminder, CNN will cover President-elect Obama's news conference on the Veterans Affairs announcement, that Paul was telling was about, live 2:00 o'clock Eastern this afternoon.

NGUYEN: Well, an upset in Louisiana. Republican Joseph Cao, a virtual unknown on the political scene beat out incumbent and indicted Democratic representative, William Jefferson, who is in trouble after FBI agents say they found $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer. Jefferson had pleaded not guilty in what's considered almost a shoe-in for re-election. But it didn't happen that way yesterday. Cao becomes the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.


ANH "JOSEPH" CAO, (R) LOUISIANA REP-ELECT: When I came over here when I was eight years old, I had absolutely nothing, did not speak any English. So never in my life would I feel I could be a future congressman in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does that say about the American Dream?

CAO: You know, the American Dream, I believe, is well and alive.


NGUYEN: Cao who is an attorney and community organizer clinched almost 50 percent of the vote compared to Jefferson's 47.

Well, there was one other House race in Louisiana yesterday. And again, a Republican won. So, if you are following the balance of power here, here's the latest breakdown for you. Take a look. Of course, Democrats still control the House but with 255 seats now, 19 more than they had before November. Republicans now have 178 seats in the House. And there are still two races left to be decided.

Well, coming up in the 9:00 o'clock Eastern hour, we're going to talk to newly-elected congressman, Joseph Cao, about his unprecedented win. Keep it right here on CNN: Your home for politics.

LUI: And, talk about a close encounter here.


TONY SANDLIN, FIGHTS OFF COYOTE: They saw a coyote up there but I didn't. I wasn't screaming really loud. But I was screaming, "Daddy, help me." And he started running circles around me.


LUI: Hear what happens next.

NGUYEN: And why a close-knit family of autoworkers says Congress has it all wrong.


NGUYEN: Well, today is the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. Unaware of the approaching Japanese, 185 U.S. Navy vessels were moored in small groups throughout Pearl Harbor.


LUI: This is quite a story, Betty.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes.

LUI: Yes. A nine-year-old boy from Erie, Colorado, has quite a story to tell his friends now.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. OK. Here's the deal: He came face to face with a coyote while snowboarding, of all things. Reporter Russell Haythorn from affiliate KMGH tells us about their close encounter.


RUSSELL HAYTHORN, KMGH REPORTER (voice-over): Snowboarding on the golf course behind their house is routine for the Sandlin boys. Little did Tony know this past Thursday, he was about to embark -- on his own "Indiana Jones"-like harrowing tale.


HAYTHORN: A run-in with a coyote.

SANDLIN: They saw a coyote up there but I didn't. I wasn't screaming really loud. But I was screaming, "Daddy, help me." And he started running circles around me.

HAYTHORN: Tony kept his snowboard between himself and the coyote.

SANDLIN: And where he went, he went at my back, and then he stopped and then get away and get in (ph).

HAYTHORN: The coyote attacked.

SANDLIN: I pushed him away and then he started circling me again.

HAYTHORN: Tony then got his own lick-in (ph) with his snowboard.

SANDLIN: So then I whacked him like this.

HAYTHORN: The coyote eventually took off.

SANDLIN: And then he just sat here with his head peaking up.

HAYTHORN: Tony's mom, Stacey, rushed him to the hospital.

STACEY SANDLIN, TONY'S MOM: I was worried this might have been a sick animal just because it's unusual behavior for a coyote.

HAYTHORN: The incident has the neighborhood on guard but not paranoid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to fully be very conscientious about not going out in the evening.

HAYTHORN: And the Division of Wildlife is keeping a close eye out here. As for Tony, he's got some nasty bruises. While the coyote may have broken skin, the adventure hasn't broken their playful spirit.

HANDLIN: If you're watching this, peace out. (END VIDEOTAPE)


LUI: Peace.

NGUYEN: That is one great kid. OK. So, the moral to that story is, forget the taser, forget the mace, just carry a snowboard with you, right?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carry a snowboard with you and make sure you place, you know, snowboard places that are sound.

NGUYEN: There is hardly any snow, I believe (ph)...

WOLF: I know.

NGUYEN: ... you could get any kind of movement down that hill.

WOLF: But some have said, what a brave kid. I mean, I'm scared of cows.


WOLF: For him to ward off, you know, a coyote...

NGUYEN: That had to be frightening. (INAUDIBLE) circling around you and you know it's about to attack at any moment.

WOLF: Absolutely. I mean, scary, scary thing to think about.

You know, you're talking about the scary snow, one place where he can actually bring his snowboard and actually some snow to deal with...

NGUYEN: Right.

WOLF: ... would be in parts of the Great Lakes, believe it or not. And I know it's pretty flat in Ohio but they're going to have plenty of snowfall.


WOLF: Let's go right to it and show what's happening out there. We're going right to our weather computer. You can see with the combination of the wind and, of course, the Great Lakes. There it is. Take a look. From Buffalo you can see the snow flying, just the southeast of Detroit, over into the Ohio shores. It continues to sweep across. That is going to continue to be the story for a good part of the morning.

And if you look as far as out as the Appalachians, look right towards I-80, travel your eyes southward into the middle of the screen. We begin to those mountains, that high elevation, especially near places like Charleston, West Virginia, you're going to be dealing with some snow showers this morning. But drier air moving in from Central Ohio will give you a little bit of a break in the action there.

Now, in Boston, a nasty morning for you where you got a combination of rain, sleet, and even some snowfall. If you're taking the Massachusetts turnpike, heading back to the Berkshires, you're going to see just a transformation when you get into this higher elevations going from that rain, to that sleet to the snow. At times, it could be severe, at least, in terms of the roadways, could be kind of icy in places. So, please be careful.

From Schenectady back to Syracuse, you're seeing just that kind of a hotfudge pattern with that snowfall. A little bit of a break that you see the heavier snow bands moving through. Michigan, it's been an interesting story for you where you've seen it's really begin to pile up, especially farther to the north, just the west of I-75. And if you look very carefully, you can see the direction of the snow, coming in from the northwest and moving to the southeast. That is your wind across parts of the Grand Rapids into Kalamazoo.

Temperatures -- yesterday, we were talking about how cold it was out there. Take a look at this. I mean, this is just ridiculous. In Minneapolis, this morning, we've got currently four degrees; three degrees in Green Bay, we're talking subzero conditions, four in Chicago, Sioux Falls with 13, Casper with 45 degrees this time. Later on today, high temperatures going up to 37 degrees in Nashville, right along the banks of the Cumberland back into Atlanta.

It's going to be a chilly day for you outside of CNN Center, about 47 degrees. The wind is going to be kind of on and off. And then back to Minneapolis, about 15 degrees. Remember, the wind there will make you feel subzero for a good part of the day. So, chilly conditions, certainly good times for snowboards if you happen to get to the high elevations and the snow. Again, the combination really makes a difference.

Let's send it back to you, guys.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. We were just talking about the difference between, I don't know, say midwest winters and those ice storms in Texas. He said, what, is it going to last for a couple months? I said, "No, a couple of days maybe."


WOLF: And it knocks all the power lines and all the trees, it's a huge mess.

NGUYEN: You're right.

WOLF: You have a choice. You have a choice (INAUDIBLE).

NGUYEN: It still has its problems, no doubt.

WOLF: Absolutely. You have a choice between the two, you always go to snow. Ice is just always a big messy mess.


NGUYEN: Slipping and sliding on the highways. All right.

WOLF: That's what I'm talking about.

NGUYEN: Yes. Thank you, Reynolds.

All right. So, if you're waiting for the winter, a slow snow year, a real downer in Colville, Washington. One of our CNN iReporters was out there with the gloomy picture. Take a look.


HILARY OHM, IREPORTER: OK. Here is where I am going to get my tires for my car, after getting snow tires put on. I'm going to go in there and ask the guy how his business is doing. As you can see, here on December 5th, not a chunk of snow in sight. So I can almost predict what he's going to say.

I'm in the tire shop. And how is business going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow. We need snow, or we're going to have to lay people off.

OHM: Is that right?


OHM: Oh, man. How many people do you think you'll be laying off?


OHM: OK. Well, thanks for sharing that with us.


LUI: Yes, fewer cars sold.

NGUYEN: Sign of the times. You know, not enough snow, that means you've got to lay people off.

LUI: Right.

NGUYEN: My goodness.

LUI: All right. Well, that was our iReporter who notes many people are not fixing up their homes or their businesses because of the downturn. Send is your iReport at We hope to share for you right here.

A family worried about jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHY NICHOLS, WIFE OF AUTO SUPPLIER: If the industry was just to go under, my husband would lose his job, most of my siblings would lose their jobs.


LUI: Big family, big concerns. Just about everyone here is linked to the fortunes of the nation's auto industry. We'll hear from them.


LUI: December 7th, 1941, 12 U.S. ships were sunk or beached in the attack at Pearl Harbor and 164 U.S. planes were destroyed.

Well, after 28 years in a coma, heiress Martha "Sunny" Von Bulow has died. She was the subject of one of the nation's most sensational criminal cases during the 1980s. Hers husband Claus was accused of trying to kill her with an overdose of insulin which prosecutors believed put her into a coma. He was acquitted. "Sunny" Von Bulow died yesterday at a nursing home, she was 76 years old.

NGUYEN: You know, for one Michigan family, America's auto industry means everything. And, all the talk about a government rescue gets personal very quickly.

Here is CNN's Brooke Baldwin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Larry, I'm number 14.



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's family, and then, there's the Demeniuk -- 20 siblings.

MIKE DEMENIUK, IAC AUTOMOTIVE SUPPLIER EMPLOYEE: Diane, Susie, Larry, Patty, Trisha, Joey, Janice, Risa, Johnny, Greg...

BALDWIN: Mike is number 17. This is his home, his wife and four kids. Twelve of Mike's brothers and sisters rely on the America auto industry to live.

M. DEMENIUK: It's sad to see something like this actually happen. I hope and pray that it turns around and we can, you know, get these people working again.

BALDWIN: People like Kathy's husband, Joe, who was laid off once already.

KATHY NICHOLS, WIFE OF AUTO SUPPLIER: If the industry was just to go under, my husband would lose his job, most of my siblings would lose their jobs and we wouldn't be able to help each other out when needed as families do because we're all in the same situation.

BALDWIN: That is why Susan is watching the Capitol Hill hearings so closely.

BORIS: It's terrible to see how the auto industry is being treated by Congress.

BALDWIN: She says the Big Three CEOs are being humiliated.

BORIS: Well, they're acting like there like they're the bad guys and they've done something terrible and how dare you come here. But the banks were just handed cash. It's terrible.

B. DEMENIUK: They've been discriminated terribly by the Congress and the government.

BALDWIN: Bob, the eldest in the family worked at General Motors for 43 years. His daughter was just laid off from an assembly plant. And this retiree is frustrated to hear some Americans think autoworkers are lazy.

B. DEMENIUK: If the people that say these things and believe that were to take our spot on the line or in the plants for just an hour, they didn't know what it's all about.

BALDWIN: Diane's husband knew. He worked for Chrysler before he died.

DIANE FICA, MIKE'S SISTER: I now am living with my mother-in-law who has Alzheimer's who is retired from Chrysler. And if something happens where she loses her pension, I don't know what's going to happen.

BALDWIN: Uncertainty is running high in Demeniuk family, but these siblings are hopeful the Big Three will survive.

M. DEMENIUK: We're going to rally around each other. And I think we're going to get through the storm.

BALDWIN: Leaning on their faith and family, all 20 siblings for support.

Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Shelby Township, Michigan.


NGUYEN: All right. So, that's one side. Always two sides to a story. And there are those who want to know why taxpayer money should be spent to help the auto industry. That's the sentiment of this CNN iReporter.


SANDRA GARDNER, IREPORTER: My name is Sandy. I live in a small town southeast of Buffalo. And I would like to know why I am responsible for bailing you out. You are the ones who failed. You and your union are the ones who failed your business. What do I get by you bailing you out and paying my taxes so that you can survive? What is it in it for me? Why can't you take your own money and bail your own self out thereby sacrificing instead of me?


NGUYEN: All right. So, here's what we can tell you. Legislation to provide short-term loans to carmakers could be coming up this week in Congress -- Richard?

LUI: Well, Betty, it's a life-long dream for many Muslims. The pilgrimage known as the Hajj.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is in the direction of the Kaaba that Muslims pray wherever are they are, to be physically this close is overwhelming for many.


LUI: CNN's Arwa Damon is there and she takes an up-close look of the rituals of the Hajj in our "Faces of Faith."


LUI: And welcome back. I'm Richard Lui, in for T.J. Holmes who is off today.

NGUYEN: Yes, glad to have you, Richard.

And I'm Betty Nguyen. Here's a quick look at our top stories.

The struggling auto companies -- they may soon get help to keep their motors running. Details of a proposed bailout loan are still being worked out. But, two sources tell CNN, the target is $15 billion to $17 billion. Now, a breakthrough came when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dropped her opposition to using money from a fuel- efficiency program. Congress is expected to vote on the plan this coming week.




LUI: A rally in support of a Big Three bailout. Union electricians, nurses and janitors joined with auto industry employees in Los Angeles yesterday. They carried signs urging Congress to support a bailout loan for the industry.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Create job. Better mileage. I am proud of you UAW. Keep fighting.



LUI: Then, north of L.A., members of the United Auto Workers Union there in San Francisco hold a rally to save the industry and their jobs, too. They demonstrated yesterday outside the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Union members say letting the auto industry go bankrupt will only make the current recession worse.

NGUYEN: let's get you the latest now on the terror attacks in Mumbai. India's foreign minister says he did not call Pakistan's president during the attacks. Someone claiming to be an Indian official called Pakistan reportedly speaking in such a threatening manner. Pakistan put its air force on high alert. India claims the attackers came from Pakistan. But authorities are increasingly looking at a possible home-grown connection as well.

Former GOP presidential nominee John McCain is leading a senate delegation to Pakistan. He met with the country's prime minister. McCain says he warned against letting the Mumbai terrorists succeed by inflaming Pakistan's relations with India. McCain also urged the Pakistani government to act urgently and give India full cooperation.

Also in Pakistan, a guard was killed after an early-morning attack on two critical transport terminals. These terminals near Peshawar supply U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Officials say more than 160 vehicles were torched. The U.S. says the attacks will have only a minimal impact on its operations against the Taliban.

And five former Blackwater security guards charged with shooting and killing 17 Iraqis last year are expected to surrender to authorities on Monday. That sources close to the case that are telling CNN that. Meanwhile, their lawyers are prepping for a big fight. All of the indicted are decorated war veterans. Most of them had served in Iraq. The latest now from CNN Susan Simons who has more on the accused.


SUSAN SIMONS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're the faces of former U.S. servicemen all in their 20s. Donald Ball, 26 from Utah, a former Marine Corps corporal and Eagle Scout. Dustin Heard, 27 from Tennessee, a former U.S. Marine Corps corporal. Evan Liberty, 26 from New Hampshire, a former U.S. Marine second marine division. Paul Slough, 29 from Texas, former U.S. Army third infantry division, and Nick Slatten, 25 from Tennessee, former sergeant in the U.S. army. They're also former Blackwater guards who are expected to turn themselves in to federal authorities on Monday on charges that are expected to include manslaughter, assault and a weapons violation. Though it's not clear which men will face which charges. Sources with knowledge of the case say a sixth contractor is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors. The Iraqi government says 17 civilians were killed in a deadly shooting in a Baghdad traffic circle in September of 2007. No one denies the men were involved. The company they worked for, Blackwater, has said all along that the men were responding to insurgent fire.

A defense attorney for Dustin Heard says that the Blackwater guards "were defending themselves and their comrades who were being shot at and receiving fire from Iraqis they believed to be enemy insurgents in a place where the enemy has made a major city, Baghdad, the battlefield." An attorney for Paul Slough says "we are disappointed that federal prosecutors have taken it on themselves to second-guess how they these brave young men fought for their lives. But it was a very different story from Iraqi witnesses, some of whom told CNN that the men opened fire for no apparent reason. The youngest victim, a nine-year-old boy.

The Iraqi government was outraged and called for Blackwater to be expelled from the country.

NURI AL MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): It cannot be accepted by an American security company to carry out a killing. These are very serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq.

SIMONS: But the U.S. state department intervened insisting it could not do its work without Blackwater guards. And there are no indictments expected against Blackwater itself which says the men haven't been on the payroll since last year. The Justice Department has been debating what charges to bring, in part because there's no clear legal accountability for contractors in Iraq. An order granted by the outgoing head of the coalition provisional authority in 2004 made them immune from Iraqi prosecution. But that's set to change next year under a new agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi authorities. The new deal will make contractors accountable to Iraqi law. Susan Simons, CNN, Atlanta.


NGUYEN: Well it is one of the pillars of the Muslim faith, the pilgrimage known as Hajj.

LUI: That's right. A rare and up close look at the rights and rituals of Hajj, ahead in our "Faces of Faith." These are live pictures coming to us now.


NGUYEN: 67 years ago the "USS Arizona" was sunk on the attack on Pearl Harbor. 1,177 crew members perished, making it the greatest loss of lives on any U.S. warship in American history.


LUI: You'll now look at some amazing live pictures coming from Arafat, Saudi Arabia where millions of Muslims are gathering for the annual ritual called the Hajj. All of that white clothing there. It's an amazing event that happens each and every year. All right. Now, one out of six people in the world is Muslim, and the spiritual pilgrimage that we were showing you there is one of the pillars of the Muslim faith and is the subject of our faces of faith this Sunday. CNN's Arwa Damon is getting an up close, a rare look at one of Islam's holiest sights. And some of the rituals performed there. She joins us from Arafat, Saudi Arabia And Arwa, what a fantastic and amazing visual feast you have there in front of you. What's going on? What are you seeing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is magnificent, Richard. We're at the base of Mount Mercy. And the pilgrims are everywhere here. According to Saudi authorities, three million of them. Mount Mercy significant because it is here where prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon asking God to forgive his followers' sins. The pilgrims have been doing that here as well, beseeching God to essentially give them a clean slate.

But before the pilgrims can get here and perform this part off the pilgrimage they go through a series of rituals back in Mecca. And there we were able to get a first-hand, first-time inside look.


DAMON (voice-over): At the center of the flowing masses stands the Kaaba, the holiest sight in Islam, closer to the sacred sight, a symbol for Muslims of man's encounter with the divine, the pilgrim's pulse for religious fervor. According to the Koran, the Kaaba was built by the prophet Abraham on God's command. It is in the direction of the Kaaba that Muslims pray wherever they are. To be physically this close is overwhelming for many.

The circling of the Kaaba is known as the tawaf. It symbolizes that god is at the center of everything.

The sacred sight is draped in a black silk cloth, embroidered with verses from the Koran in pure gold and silver threads. The pilgrims are following the same rituals the prophet Mohammad performed some 1,400 years ago. Inside the Al Hamra Mosque, another ritual is performed, the sie, a run between two peaks. The peak right here is known as (inaudible), and pilgrims move back and forth between this peak and another one, that's called (inaudible).

DAMON (voice-over): God ordered the prophet Abraham to leave his wife, Hajira, and baby Ismail in the desert and trust that god would protect them. One of many tests of Abraham's devotion. Hajira's supplies ran out.

DAMON (on-camera): So desperate for water, she ran seven times beseeching god to help -- water miraculously sprang up beneath baby Ismail's feet.

DAMON (voice-over): It is called the water of zum zum, offered at stations along the way as pilgrims performed the sie, a reenactment of Hajira's run. There are some concessions to modernity, massive fans to cool the devotees and a wheelchair lane through the middle. This area was expanded this year to accommodate even more of the faithful. Although much has physically changed since prophet Mohammed first performed these rituals on these very grounds. The spiritual journey for Muslims remains eternal.


DAMON: And as you heard right there, the spiritual journey just so critical for Muslims. This moment here at Mount Mercy is what the Hajj is all about. Pilgrims who we spoke to who have been to the Hajj before have said that it is here where they felt closest to god, as if they had a direct channel of communication with him. And when they were done with today's ritual which ends at sunset, they literally felt as if they were being given a second chance at life. Richard.

LUI: Arwa, you have spoken about the masses of pilgrims there, estimated to be around two million annually. When you were walking around the Kaaba, it seemed so calm, so serene. Describe that to us.

DAMON: You know, Richard, that's what's fascinating about this entire pilgrimage. Because you have such a mass of people, you would expect such chaos. And instead there is this sense of serenity. You do have religious fervor, you have people who are very passionate about the religion, about the pilgrimage. We saw them at the Kaaba. We saw them here crying because they were so overcome with emotions. And yet it is so calm for such a massive group of people. And they will tell you that that is because that's what the Hajj is all about. It's about this spiritual well-being. It's about making yourself a better person. The rules here are very simple. No violence, no sex, no raising your voice. It is all about the pilgrimage. And that is why you actually see the pilgrims wearing what is known as the isram, the men will wear two pieces of unstitched white cloth. The women dress simply and cover their hair. And that is essentially to try to erase all differences that exist between people. Because here it doesn't matter if you're rich or if you're poor, or you're young or you're old. Everyone is considered equal before god.

LUI: Truly fantastic. Arwa Damon giving us insight to the Hajj which happens annually. You're going to be there throughout that event. And thank you so much for that insight. Appreciate it. Arwa Damon. Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, we do have ways for you to follow the Hajj online and to learn more about it. Stories about religion on has been getting a whole lot of traffic lately. Our Josh Levs is here to walk us through.

All right. For those interested where do they go?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is really interesting stuff. I mean the first thing to do is go to and search the word Hajj. I want to show you what we've got. First of all, continuously updated photos from the scene. A lot of really beautiful images like what we were seeing from Arwa just now. But check out this special. We first set it up two years ago, all about the Hajj. It tells you the basics, the essential journey, it traces you through the steps, what the steps are all about, the history, where it comes from. And it leads you to this gallery which literally takes you through the steps of it. It tells you why it even exists in the first place, what the key sites are along the way.

All you got to do is point and click, even if you don't have a touch screen like this one, it will trace you through the major steps. It will tell you about security, issues like that. That's just a little piece of what we've got when it comes to religion, If you go to our living page,, or just click the word living at the top of the screen, you're going to see a lot of stories on religion.

Let's zoom back in for a second. Check this out. Our top story right there, right now, and "Atheist sign had been ripped from a nativity scene has been found." When you scroll down, you see a lot more stories, about whether people should shop more or pray more. There's an interview from "Our American Morning." Over here, you got Rick Warren talking about the purpose behind our problems.

Now, one of the most popular videos we've had lately when it comes to religion is actually from this program last weekend. We had the opportunity to speak with two different rabbis about the Mumbai attacks and how to process that. Let's take a look at a clip from that.


RABBI YOSSI LEW, CHABAD OF GEORGIA: If a few dozen people can sit and plan for so many years something as evil, murderous, terrible and terrifying as what they did, then if we could all band together a few dozen, a few hundred, a thousand, million of us and plan to do something good, to take the world over with goodness, I think that would be the perfect answer. Of course, the immediate response would have to be beefed up security and protection. But we really need to figure out a way to respond and to answer this question by flooding the world with goodness.


LEVS: Flooding the world with goodness. We want to thank you all for your response to that, it made it our most e-mailed video after it came out. And we encourage you to check all these different stories about religion. Again, and just click living at the top of the screen. And keep following the steps of the Hajj as well. There you go, Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you. We do appreciate it.

LEVS: Thanks.

LUI: When the going get tough, the tough get going.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

LUI: I mean, up on the roof. Cutting corners this Christmas. We'll tell you.


LUI: All right. We're getting some i-reporter video here. Larry Kitlas shows us this winter wonderland in this holiday season. He's been visiting this house for the past 20 years. You can see the gingerbread men. You can also see all these sorts of decorations, Santa Claus. And what' interesting he's been going here for some 20 years. He looks at figurines, Christmas tress, and angels. He does note the person that puts this together over the last 20 years, his wife recently passed away. He even put in a special part for his wife in this display. So 20 years in the building here, Betty. Just imagine that. And so much work has gone into it, of course, enjoying the holidays.

NGUYEN: Yes. What a sight though.

And a lot more snow and rain for the northern plains. Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is watching that. You've been busy with all this winter mix out there.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know but I'll tell you, this is something as typical for this time of year. It really isn't picking up especially in the Great Lakes. Great lakes snowfall, believe it or not is kind of an early season event. It's more common to see it in late November and December than it is in February or March. And certainly what we're seeing at this time. We get this area of low pressure that's swarming now over Ontario. At the same time farther to the north, just north of Minnesota at this time we've got an area of high pressure. That brings a tight pressure gradient, a wind tunnel effect. So as that wind continues to march across parts of the Great Lakes as where we have the snow falling.

Pittsburgh back over to Buffalo, even into parts of say right along 81. Rockport, you're getting the snow fall this morning. Rochester you've been seeing it for the last couple of days. Michigan has just been especially hammered right along parts of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Grand Rapids, you know what I'm talking about. Same story for you up in parts of the thumb. Now back in Toronto, 21 degrees that is in Fahrenheit. Back to Buffalo, you're lucky to get 24 degrees. And shivering right now in Chicago. You are shivering in Chicago at 24 degrees. This time wind is going to be especially strong into the afternoon. As we head a bit farther to the south to Nashville, and back to Birmingham, mainly 20s, low to mid 20s. If you're in Atlanta with 31 degrees. Little Rock currently 34. Dallas 40 degrees.

Temperatures will be going up especially in places like Florida, rising to 73 degrees in Miami. 69 for Phoenix. 69 for Los Angeles. Salt Lake City will be 47. Chicago with 21 for your high. Washington, D.C. northward to New York and Boston, the temperatures mainly going to be into the 30s. I tell you though for anyone who is going to any of the NFL games today, into the early afternoon, any outdoor stadiums, it is going to be a very damp time, very breezy, very cold. You really want to bundle up and try to enjoy the game. Let's send it back to you guys.

NGUYEN: You're saying what it's like pneumonia weather out there?

WOLF: I see there's a reason why they built domes.

LUI: Exactly. NGUYEN: Right! Enclosed.

WOLF: Precisely.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

NGUYEN: Before you do head out, you may, I don't know, some of that holiday shopping today, one expert says consider putting your money where it might have a chance to actually grow.

LUI: And we are definitely looking for places like that. Christine Romans reports this week's "right on your money."


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Budgets are tight this holiday season. So here's a gift for you that will last for years to come - an I.R.A.

HILARY KRAMER, AUTHOR "AHEAD OF THE CURVE": Contributing money to an I.R.A. may not be a sexy option at present but it makes a lot of sense and there is value over the long term especially if you're younger because you have decades ahead of you for the money to grow.

ROMANS: You have three options for opening an I.R.A. - a bank, a brokerage or a mutual fund company. Most IRAs have a monthly minimum investment. So do your research and choose the one that fits you best. And remember, age is a factor.

KRAMER: The younger you are, the more you want to put in, the more you want to be consistent over the long term with your investing because you're going to see it grow. There is a multiplying effect that takes place and it is unbelievable the kind of money that over 10, 20 and 30 years that you can eventually amass. Now if you're an older investor, it is still always the right time to start saving but you're going to make different choices.

ROMANS: And that's this week's "right on your money."


NGUYEN: He was called an unrepentant terrorist during the presidential campaign with ties to then candidate Barack Obama.

LUI: Well now the election is over and Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers sets the record straight.


NGUYEN: Well the latest unemployment figures show just how the economic crisis is hitting home for millions of Americans.

LUI: Yes, in Washington, in Washington State specifically, a 211 phone system links people who have lost their jobs with government services. And use of the system, well it has skyrocketed. Chad Snell recently lost his job as a car salesman.


CHAD SNELL, UNEMPLOYED: But when it comes to trying to provide for my family, that's where it's affecting me. It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever experienced.

BILL BRAKIN, 211 REGIONAL DIRECTOR: The biggest needs tend to be rent mortgage assistance, emergency shelter, utility bill assistance.


LUI: Officials with the 211 system say the first step for people seeking assistance is to apply for unemployment benefits there.

NGUYEN: Well the economic crisis has many families turning to the state to help them actually put food on the table.

LUI: In Oregon, the growing demand for food stamps has forced the state to hire 60 more workers just to keep up there. And since last October there's been a 13 percent increase in demand for food stamps in Oregon. In some communities it's jumped 25 percent. That's overwhelming the Department of Human Services there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a line out the door. There's only four desks here, so you know we can only do what we can do. But we have a lot of people. We need more workers.


LUI: The new positions will be funded with about $3 million in federal money allocated to the state.

NGUYEN: Well hard times, drastic action. Right?

LUI: That's right. Absolutely. And more than 150 Bridgeport, Connecticut city employees are giving up an entire week's pay here, Betty, to help close a multi-million dollar budget deficit to help save some city jobs.

NGUYEN: And these folks say they love their community and they are afraid though of the unknown.


CARMEN FEBLES, GAVE UP WEEK'S PAY: If it helps avoid more layoffs, then you know no one can afford to lose their job right now.

PRICILLA PABON, TAXPAYER: Wonderful. I believe that we have to do what we have to do.

ANDREW WADE, TAXPAYER: I think it is great. It will give the city added revenue that they needed and hopefully it will turn things around and other people will follow the same way. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: And despite kudos from the taxpayers, the employees who made the sacrifice have been honored with a full-page ad in the "Connecticut Post" newspaper thanking them.

LUI: All right.

NGUYEN: Well the lean economy has many in a do it yourself mode. I know I've taken on some of those projects.

LUI: I make more sandwiches myself. I have to tell you. Instead of paying someone else though to put up Christmas lights, some people here are climbing up on the roof, they're doing it themselves. Be careful of course.


LUI: Reporter Jack Penning of affiliate KGW gets up there and show us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got my light. You know, safety first. If you're going to do it, you got to do it right.

JACK PENNING, REPORTER, KGW: And Mark Young is doing it right. Despite his wife's objection.

MARK YOUNG, PUTTING UP OWN LIGHTS: And she said, yes, you better not go up there. I was like, all right, yes, I'll see you a little bit.

PENNING: It is not an ideal time to be scaling a steep roof.

YOUNG: And I haven't fallen down. Yet.

PENNING: And there's plenty of other things that can go wrong.

YOUNG: Another light down. That's just my luck. Out of staples! That's just bad luck all around.

PENNING: This kind of frustration is why so many hire professionals to put up their lights.

YOUNG: That makes sense.

PENNING: So the roof is steep. It is difficult to climb on. It doesn't matter. People are still trying to save money by doing it themselves. And that means the companies that put up lights for you, they have seen a huge drop in business, as much as 50 percent less than last year.

YOUNG: If i had a lot of money to throw away I would definitely consider it.

PENNING: But if you want to spend that money this year. Mark decided he had no choice.

YOUNG: It is all for my kid. Because this year's the first year that he's noticed the lights.

PENNING: Lights many will avoid putting up to save a little money.


NGUYEN: That's so true. I mean especially in this economy, that's extra money that you could actually use to put food on the table. And a lot of people consider it a luxury and they are cutting out on all of those.

LUI: And of course again though. Be careful if you do that, trying to save a couple of bucks along the way.


LUI: It's slippery up there sometimes.

NGUYEN: Do some research. Maybe the Internet can help you a little bit.

LUI: That's right.

NGUYEN: But, yes, make sure there is a safety net somewhere so you don't fall in and bust your head open.

LUI: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: All right. And we are told, though, this -- that the light installation company in Oregon that usually has about, well, 200 customers, has only 12 so far this year. So, more proof the situations that we're facing with this economy.

Next hour starts right now.

From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is December 7th, 8:00 a.m. here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in the Heartland.

Good morning, everybody, on a Sunday. I'm Betty Nguyen.

LUI: And I'm Richard Lui, in for T.J. Holmes on this Sunday. Thanks for being with us, by the way.

History is made in Louisiana. A major turnaround in the heavily- Democratic district electing a Republican and first-time Vietnamese American to office.


LEAH FRIED, UNITED ELECTRICAL UNION: Three days notice, penniless on the street. That's just not acceptable.


NGUYEN: It's another day of protest at a Chicago factory where workers are refusing to leave after learning that they will be laid off. The workers are saying that they won't go until all of their demands are met.

LUI: Can you name any of the top buzzwords of 2008? Got any?

NGUYEN: A recession?

LUI: Bailout.

NGUYEN: Now, we just officially made recession a word.

LUI: That's right. Exactly.

NGUYEN: Let's say. Bailout. I'm seeing right here Phelpsian?

LUI: Yes, that (INAUDIBLE)

NGUYEN: It has to do with Michael Phelps? Yes, we'll get into that.

LUI: Josh Levs will tell us about that.

NGUYEN: A lot more of those on the table.

OK. In the meantime, though, really, an upset in Louisiana. Listen to this story. Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao, a virtual unknown on the political scene beat incumbent and indicted Democratic representative, William Jefferson. He's in trouble after FBI agents -- they say they found $90,000 in marked bills inside his freezer. Jefferson pleaded not guilty and was considered almost a shoo-in for re-election but it did not happen that way.

Cao becomes the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.


ANH "JOSEPH" CAO, (R) LOUISIANA REP.-ELECT: When I came over here when I was eight years old, I had absolutely nothing, did not speak any English. So never in my life would I be, I thought I could be a future congressman in the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does that say about the American Dream?

CAO: You know, the American Dream, I believe, is well and alive.


NGUYEN: What a remarkable story. Cao who is an attorney and community organizer clinched almost 50 percent of the vote compared to Jefferson's 47 percent.

And there was another House race in Louisiana yesterday. So, let's go live to CNN's deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser.

Paul, what else can you tell us about the races down in Louisiana? Boy, it was exciting in that state.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, a historic there as you can see, because, you know -- and also when Jefferson won office back in 1990, when he won that election, he was the first African-American to represent Louisiana since Reconstruction over 100 years earlier. So, history then, and again, history last night.

Turnout was real low. It was one of these, you know, elections that wasn't held on Election Day because of Hurricane Gustav. That kind of delayed the process in Louisiana.

So, turnout was really low. And may have been one of the reasons Jefferson lost. And you saw, it was just by 2 percent, because the district in New Orleans is heavily Democratic and also heavily African-American. So, that may have contributed to Jefferson losing, as well as his heavy baggage, as you mentioned all his legal troubles. But yes, he's gone.

The other race in the northwestern part of the state, this one looks like the Republicans are going to hold on to this seat as well. Congressman McCrery, a Republican up there who was retiring and the Republican candidate to succeed him is ahead up by 356 votes. The Democrat hasn't conceded yet. They still have more absentees to count but it looks like they will hold on to that seat as well.

So, two more victories for the Republicans. They did not have a good night on November 4th but they did win the Georgia runoff just the other day, and now, these two as well.

NGUYEN: All right. So, two victories for the Republicans as of yesterday. Where does this stand when we look at the balance of power in the House?

STEINHAUSER: Right now, the Democrats have 255 -- will have 255 seats in the new House that comes into effect next month. Republicans, 177. If they get that extra seat that we just talked about in Louisiana, if they win that, it will be 178.

There are two House races left still that are still in dispute. A Republican congressman in Virginia is behind and he has called for a recount. And in Ohio, there was a Republican that retired in that seat, and it was so close. And now, the state Supreme Court is going to have to decide about all these provisional ballots. We're almost done. And then, of course, we got the Minnesota recount.

NGUYEN: I was going to ask you about that. We're still waiting on that one. What do you know?

STEINHAUSER: The initial recount is over. Now, it goes to the canvassing board and they've got a lot to hammer out because they've got to deal with all the votes that were thrown out during the recount. They got all the votes that weren't even counted.

NGUYEN: For how long is this going to take?

STEINHAUSER: You know what? It could go another two weeks. And then, whoever loses -- that's Coleman, the incumbent Republican on the right, versus Al Franken, the Democratic challenger, remember him from "Saturday Night Live" on the left -- whoever lose could take it to court and it could go all the way to next year. And the Senate itself could finally have to get involved.

NGUYEN: Really?

STEINHAUSER: This one is a mess.

NGUYEN: Oh, goodness. It was good thing that we have you here to help sort it out, right?


NGUYEN: OK. Paul Steinhauser, as always, we do appreciate it.


NGUYEN: But you don't want to miss our interview with newly- elected congressman, Anh Joseph Cao. He is live right here on CNN next hour.

LUI: And now, the help for Detroit that could be just around the corner. Congressional aides are working this weekend on legislation to provide a short-term loan to the nation's struggling carmakers. The plan here would keep the companies out of bankruptcy court for the short-term, perhaps through the spring. The loan? $15 billion to $17 billion. General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have asked, though, for $34 billion.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says something has to be done.


SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) FINANCE CHAIRMAN: It is a question about the condition of our economy and what's been going on. I don't think you can begin to calibrate the level of frustration people will feel if we -- in the midst of all this -- would end up losing a major manufacturing sector. And so, I'm determined to do what I can here to get us to the point. Not that we're going to resolve all of these issues in 72 hours, but get us to a point where we have the opportunity for resolving the issues. That's really what this amounts over the next couple of days.


LUI: Now, this is expected. Most of the loan -- that loan amount, rather, that it would come from a fuel efficiency research program that has already passed.

People supporting the government loan to the Big Three, rallying yesterday in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Many of them were waving signs reading "Support the bridge loan" and "All I want for Christmas is a job."

Well, more than 200 union workers refusing to leave the Republic Windows & Doors plant in Chicago. They were told there on Tuesday the plant would close Friday. No severance pay or earned holiday pay. And then yesterday, another blow.


BICENTE RANGEL, LAID-OFF WORKER: The company had told us this morning that we had insurance since yesterday. So, I was going to take my kids to take his shots tomorrow, I can't do it. I've got no insurance.


LUI: The workers blame Bank of America for not letting the company pay benefits. Bank of America says it's not responsible for Republic's financial obligations.

NGUYEN: Well, sources tell CNN that Barack Obama has tapped a wounded veteran to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. That announcement is expected to come today which also happens to be the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The veteran is retired Army General Eric Shinseki. In 2003, Shinseki infuriated some Bush administration officials in the runup to the Iraq war when he told Congress it would take something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers to achieve success in Iraq.

And just a reminder, CNN will cover President-elect Obama's news conference on the Veterans Affairs announcement live at 2:00 o'clock Eastern this afternoon.

LUI: A former '60s radical speaks out about Barack Obama, the presidential campaign and what he calls guilt by association. Now, during the campaign, opponents questioned Obama's ties to William Ayers and accused him of being pals with a terrorist.

Well, in a "New York Times" editorial, Ayers writes, quote, "Now that the election is over, I want to say as plainly as I can that the character invented to serve this drama wasn't me, not even close," end quote. Ayers says he and Obama sat on a board together, but, quote here, "We didn't pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better," end quote.

NGUYEN: Well, Barack Obama's attorney general nominee, Eric Holder, isn't wasting any time. He's already been meeting with retired generals and admirals about the interrogation policy.

CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena gives us a closer look at holder's background.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's certainly got the resume. Supporters say as attorney, Eric Holder can hit the ground running.

ROSCOE HOWARD, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: He knows where the nooks and crannies are. He knows who the people are.

ARENA: Currently, Holder is a partner at a D.C. law firm, Covington and Burling. Before that, he had a long career in public service -- as a judge, a U.S. attorney, and deputy attorney general.

As the nation's top law enforcement officer, he's expected to push for more federal grant money for state and local police.

CHUCK WEXLER, POLICE EXECUTIVE RESEARCH FORUM: He recognizes the importance of partnerships, partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies. And that's what you really need. You need that working relationship.

ARENA: He'll also play a key role if Barack Obama makes good on his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: A great nation should not detain people, military or civilian, in dark places beyond the reach of law.

ARENA: Appointed by both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, he's got fans on both sides of the aisle and is expected to win Senate approval.

TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: If you want a sense of independence of the Justice Department, a Justice Department that abides by the rule of law rather than the "anything goes" attitude of the Clinton years, Eric Holder is not your man.

ARENA: But critics charge, Holder is too close to Obama to remain independent. He helped lead the search for Obama's running mate. As deputy attorney general, Holder did not stop President Clinton in 2001 from pardoning the future financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a big Clinton donor. Holder later acknowledged that he made mistakes.

HOLDER: In hindsight, I wish that I'd done something differently with regard to the Marc Rich matters.

ARENA: Inside the Justice Department, the criticism seems to be falling on deaf ears.

(on camera): Career employees there welcome Holder's return and say it will go a long way toward restoring credibility to a department accused of putting politics above the law.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: All right. So, man's best friend really came through for a toddler in trouble. The role three dogs played to help save this little one. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will lead live in infamy.


NGUYEN: And with those words, America was officially at war. Today marks the 67th anniversary of the invasion on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. Unaware of the approaching Japanese forces roaring towards Hawaii, 185 U.S. navy vessels moored in small groups throughout Pearl Harbor were suddenly under attack.

A 21-gun salute and a special flag raising ceremony in Hawaii -- that we're showing you right now -- it marked the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. And there are more events scheduled throughout the day.

LUI: Five sites at Pearl Harbor are getting official recognition as landmarks in our nation's history. All five, including the USS Arizona memorial and the mooring fees on battleship row are now part of the new Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Now, the monument which was proclaimed by the president at a signing rally -- sights are all connected to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor that brought this country into war. Three sites in Alaska and one in California were also honored.

NGUYEN: We'll take a look at the weather outside and it give you a little idea of what has been happening because of it. Listen to this story. Three dogs -- yes, dogs -- helped save the life of a missing toddler in Virginia. Three-year-old Jalen Thorpe wandered away from his baby-sitter. Hundreds of volunteers searched for him. When temperatures dropped into the 10s they, of course, feared for the worst. Well, 21 hours later, searchers found Jalen lying up against a tree with three dogs.


SHERIFF STANLEY NOBLIN, HALIFAX COUNTY: He told me that he slept in the woods and that the dogs slept up against him and I'm sure their body heat from them helped him.


NGUYEN: Jalen spent the night at the hospital and we are told he is doing great. Can you just imagine?

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: I mean, where did the dogs come from? How did they find him? And, obviously, you know, there was some instinct there. Because of those cute little puppies there, I'd say puppies, I don't know how old they are, that little boy is alive today. Wow, what a story. LUI: Truly man's best friend, right, there?

NGUYEN: Yes, no joke.

LUI: And weather's best friend now, who's we go to now?

NGUYEN: That would be Reynolds Wolf.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: Hey, Reynolds.

WOLF: Yes, wolves, dogs. I mean, there's not a big of a difference.

NGUYEN: Yes, but in the same pack, I get it.

WOLF: Yes, pretty much.


WOLF: Guys, I'll tell you what, that it would not be a bad idea to use dogs, space heaters whatever it takes to stay warm. In parts of the Midwest and into the Great Lakes, the snow continues to fly. If you happen to be in Boston, you've seen a little bit of everything. In fact, across Massachusetts, closer to the coast, you've had some raindrops.

But when you're heading back along parts of the turnpike, it's been switching over to sleet but in the high elevations, let's say the Berkshires, mainly snow story. And that's what we're seeing also along parts of 81, back at Buffalo and Pittsburgh this morning, they're getting some scattered snow showers. And just to the east of Milwaukee, you're seeing snow there, too.

Let's show you what we're going to be seeing later on today. It looks like more of the same for the Great Lakes because we still have that area of low pressure that is forming just over Lake Ontario. And as that drifts eastward and high pressure builds in from the west, we're going to have more wind. In fact, it's going to create what we've often referred to as a "pressure gradient," which is going to continue to march these winds across the northwest to the southeast. High pressure forming into southeast is going to result in very dry conditions.

And back out to the west, we see spattering of snow showers across parts of the north and Central Rockies and into Pacific Northwest, the rain continues. But California looks pretty good, plenty of sunshine for the central valley.

Now, in terms of temperatures today, it's going to be a bit on the mild side if you happen to be in Florida but, virtually, every other place especially in parts of the Great Lakes, it certainly going to be on the chilly side. Washington, D.C. with 34 degrees, 21 in Chicago, 58 in Denver. But for many of you in Wisconsin, it's going to remain chilly for a good part of the day. Up in Green Bay, you can expect temperatures to be near single digits with that windchill.

Speaking of Wisconsin, check out this iReport video that we've got for you. This is great thing to see this morning. This is sent in from, we're going to show it to you in mere moments, Kristina Voeck. Kristina, we've got your contribution coming in just a little bit. It's basically just showing us snow in your yard in Madison, Wisconsin. Here it comes.

Take a look at that. Looking out across the street, people were zipping along with no major problems but there is just snow everywhere. Normally, they say they don't get snow like this until, say, Christmas or even New Year's. Thankfully, there was no damage caused but there were some power outages in the area.

And if you'd like to do, as Kristina has done this morning, send in some iReports. It's really simple. It's really fun to do. Simply go to Send in your contribution. Go out there and take those pictures, but by all means, do not put yourself in danger taking those shots.

NGUYEN: It's not worth it.

LUI: Yes, certainly.

WOLF: A good way to share a story there, though.

LUI: Yes, and so doggone cold, what are you going to do anyway?

WOLF: Exactly. And maybe get three dogs and just stay warm.


NGUYEN: Bundle up.

LUI: It's nicely done, nicely done.

NGUYEN: OK. Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

NGUYEN: So, what's the word, huh? Got it? We're going to tell you coming up. In fact, we have the top 10 words of 2008.


NGUYEN: Many of the millions of Americans who've lost their jobs depend on unemployment benefits. But the system is hardly working for one of our iReporters. Michelle Cruz was laid off back in August, and since then, she has been getting unemployment. But she also had two one-time-only jobs. The result -- her latest unemployment check was for just $2 because she was quote-unquote "working."

You know, we have been asking how are you affected by the news of record job losses in November. Well, more than 500,000, the most since 1974 are on the record books now. LUI: That's right. We'll start with Enzo. Enzo's one of the e- mails we want to share with you. He says, "As a new college grad, I expected to be challenged by this economic downward spiral, I just didn't think it would happen this fast or this hard. I do however have 110 percent faith in our president-elect to fix the mess that we currently call our financial system."

Thanks, Enzo.

NGUYEN: And Lori from Wisconsin writes: "The latest unemployment rate raises big concerns for my family. My husband, a carpenter, has been laid off since January. And with the latest numbers, it just makes more competition for any job."

LUI: Yes, no doubt, huh?

Now, let's go to this latest e-mail. And this comes from C in Virginia. Appreciate it.

"I was hired in April this year as an exec administrative assistant and was a good performer. I've done this type of work for 35 years. I was just laid off though on Thursday with others due to the economy and the company needs to meet their numbers and pay bonuses promised to other employees."

Thirty-five years. That's the difficulty they've been in the industry for so long.

NGUYEN: Yes. Well, and because of that, he's concerned about getting hired because of his age and even getting paid what he is worth.

LUI: Right.

NGUYEN: You know, when you look at that age and that experience and the job market these days, I mean, a lot of people obviously having to take a lot less pay...

LUI: Right.

NGUYEN: ... and doing a job that they might just be well- overqualified for. But hey, it's tough times.

Thank you for those e-mails.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: Of course, we want to continue writing in our e-mail question of the day,

In the meantime, though, we do have a top 10 list for you this morning. You know, it's almost the end of the year.

LUI: Yes, of course.

NGUYEN: So, we're bringing you the top 10 words of 2008. Can you guess what some of them might be?

LUI: Yes. What would a year be without a top 10 list here? Our Josh Levs has that for us.

Josh, do you speak Phelpsian Chinglish?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guys, I need to say (ph)...


NGUYEN: What the heck is that? Can you bail us out from that one? I know bailout is one of the words.

LEVS: That was really good. Yes. Well, I'm going to try to do some Phelpsian bailout Chinglish for you now.

NGUYEN: All right.

LEVS: Let's take a look. This is from global language monitor. And it's really interesting when they put this list every year.

Let's just go to the first graphic because I want you to see what it is that we are starting off with. One to five: change, and then, bailout, Betty, just like you were saying. Three, Obamania. Not much of a surprise since I think we've said that on the air a few hundred times. Green -- well, I was not -- are you guys familiar with greenwashing?


LUI: No.

LEVS: I didn't know greenwashing. Greenwashing is repositioning of products to stress its earth-friendly attributes. Basically trying to sell something claiming that it's green, maybe greener than it is.

NGUYEN: OK. Hold on. Let me ask you this.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: If these are the top 10 words, why aren't these words that we're like, yes, I've heard that several times?

LEVS: I know. And I'll tell you how they go about coming up with the list.


LEVS: I want to show you the other five. This is what they do. They look at -- here I tell you exactly from here -- basically, they look at words and phrases used in media on the Internet and they also look at how often they're used in major news media.

So, for example, I saw that there is greenwashing. So, I wonder, do we use greenwashing a lot? Check it out. I do a search for greenwashing on Apparently, we do. It's one of our stories. LUI: Oh.

NGUYEN: Really?

LEVS: And over here is a video that we have all about greenwashing from our eco-solutions unit.

LUI: Guilty as charged.


LEVS: I guess I'm not watching enough of our stuff.

Let's check out six through 10.


LEVS: I want to show you, guys, the rest of this, it's great stuff. Derivative is at the top.

LUI: Oh, no. I'm going to do use that one.


NGUYEN: Oh, the dreaded subprime, foreclosure, yikes.

LEVS: and this is where we get the Phelpsian and Chinglish. Now, Phelpsian, we know Phelpsian is a huge feat that's never been done before. But Chinglish is, I'll tell you how they define it, the often amusing Chinese-English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began. Apparently, Beijing didn't want people speaking a lot of Chinglish when the world arrived there.

LUI: Yes.

LEVS: So, apparently, they got rid of it.

One more thing to show you, guys. Top phrases of the year.


LEVS: I'll show you this really quick then I'm going to go.

All right. Number one: Financial tsunami. Two: Global warming. Three: Yes we can. No shocker. Four: Lame Duck. And five, working class whites. They say apparently that's been used as a code word for whites who are working class. More information, language monitor...

NGUYEN: How is it a code word because it says working class whites -- it's right there?

LEVS: Exactly, not even a code word.

LUI: I've got one for you, Josh, that you should have put on that list -- fact check.

LEVS: Fact check, reality check.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. Or the truth squad. Any of those.

LEVS: You know, I should have thought of that. I'm calling the language monitor and say it throughout the year. Watch out, buddy.

NGUYEN: All right, get on it.

LUI: Get hopping, my friend.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Josh.


NGUYEN: All right. So, the vision of a religious figure in her head, right? You got it so far. Well, we want you to meet a Florida woman who says the Virgin Mary appeared -- look at that -- on her MRI.

LUI: Yes. Wow. All right. Now, we'll show you the scan itself and you can judge for it yourself.


NGUYEN: Here is a first for our "Watercooler" segment. Listen to this story, folks. A brain scan picked up the image of a religious figure, at least that's what one Florida woman says. And according to her, the Virgin Mary appeared on her x-rays from 2002. Take a listen.


PAMELA LATRIMORE, PATIENT: Oh, my God, you have Mother Mary in your head.


LUI: Pamela Latrimore suffers from several medical conditions and she says she frequently prays for help with her health. She came across this image while looking through some old medical records. And now, she says, she plans to sell it on eBay and hopes it will help pay for her medical bills.

Betty, what do you think?

NGUYEN: There it is. You see it right there in that highlighted portion.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: I don't know. It's kind of similar.

LUI: Oh, no -- yes.

NGUYEN: I mean, I'm not going on eBay to buy it.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: But, wow, say she does get to pay for her medical bills before it. Divine intervention? Who knows.

LUI: That's right. That's possible. You can see the cross perhaps in the middle, the head on top, eyes. Yes, it kind of.

NGUYEN: There is a possibility there. We'll see what kind of bids it gets and if it does it pay for it, wow, what a story.

In the meantime, though, when birds attacked -- we're moving on quickly.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: This sounds like kind of Alfred Hitchcock movie.

LUI: Arizona wildlife official is saying a student was attacked by one of a dozen burrowing owls that have made nests near La Mesa Junior High School. A wildlife official says an out-of-school group was harassing one of the owls.

NGUYEN: All right. Well, he just became the first Vietnamese- American to be elected to Congress. And we are going to talk to Joseph Cao about his unprecedented achievement next hour live.

LUI: But, first, "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts right now.