Return to Transcripts main page


Israeli Military Launches More Air Strikes in Gaza

Aired December 28, 2008 - 07:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for this December 28th. I'm T.J. Holmes.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Abbie Boudreau. Betty Nguyen is off today.

Breaking news out of Gaza: The Israeli military is on the attack, launching more air strikes while Hamas militants fight back. Stunning images from the ground in Gaza, the devastation is widespread. The number of people killed is now up to 275.

HOLMES: Also, we got some wind to talk about, some rain, and some power lines? Not really a good combination. A fiery scene this is caught on camera alongside a Kansas City street. Weather is causing issues in several parts of the country this morning. We'll get into that.

BOUDREAU: From flooding in Chicago to five feet of snow in Utah.

HOLMES: Yes, we've got a lot to talk about. And that's why you don't see as much of us. We've got a smaller screen of Abbie and I this morning because we need to put this other stuff up. We've got some temperatures there that we're going to be showing you at the bottom of the screen. The forecast there for a lot of cities and also some travel information on the side of the screen as well that you need to see. A lot of people are still trying to get home right now on this Sunday. So, important information you need to see. We're going to keep that up during the entire newscast.

But let's start in Gaza.

BOUDREAU: OK. No let up and no end in sight.

HOLMES: Yes. No end, and that's exactly what the Israeli side had told us yesterday that this would not be a short incursion, if you will. Israeli warplanes continue to hit their targets for a second day. The death toll now is up to 275 and one of the bloodiest attacks in decades in the Mideast conflict.

Some of the new picture we have been seeing. We're showing to you now. Cameras capturing three large blasts followed by plumes of smoke as you see there in Gaza. This is near the Israeli border. Air strikes causing widespread panic and a lot of confusion. People are running in the streets. People are running for cover.

U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session, they finished that meeting early this morning. They called for an end to the violence without exactly pointing the finger, pointing blame at either side. Here's what the U.N. Palestinian envoy said about the crisis.


AMBASSADOR RIYAD MANSOUR, U.N. PERMANENT OBSERVER OF PALESTINE: We are against the killing and harming of civilians regardless of which side of the aisle they stand, whether they are in the Palestinian side or the Israeli side, but this collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is inhumane, is immoral, and it should be stopped immediately.


HOLMES: And we do have our team of reporters following this escalating violence. CNN's Richard Roth is covering the U.N. Security Council's emergency meeting. Also, Paula Hancocks -- she's on the right side of your screen. They're doing a report for CNN International right now. She's along the Israeli-Gaza border. We'll hear from her in just a minute.

BOUDREAU: For four hours, the U.N. held emergency meetings about the violence. And that's where we begin with our senior United Nations correspondent, Richard Roth.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The late-night U.N. session turned into early morning before the Security Council agreed on a statement which is not that easy when it comes to the Middle East.

VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think the bottom line was obvious to everybody, and that was that the situation has been slipping into the vicious circle of violence once again and that was extremely dangerous.

ROTH: A message was delivered to both sides.

NEVEN JURICA, CROATIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The members of the Security Council express serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, and called for an immediate halt to all violence.

ROTH: The United States, Israel's staunch supporter at the U.N., stood ready to block any statement that would have specifically criticized Israel for the Gaza air assaults.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The key issue here was not to point finger at Israel.

ROTH: Well aware of the western opposition, the Palestinian settled for the statement praising a Security Council call for an opening of Gaza border crossings for humanitarian supplies. Arabs blame Israel for choking off food and fuel supplies to Gaza residents. But there was a warning if Israel failed to stop its attacks. MANSOUR: I can assure you that we, the Arab nations, and our friends in the Security Council and international community, we will come back knocking on the door of the Security Council in order to bring Israel into compliance.

ROTH: Israel said it was forced to attack after days of rocket assaults by Hamas.

GABRIELA SHALEV, ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The last days were so bad that we had to say and we did say enough is enough. We had no choice but to go on the military operation. And the only party to blame is the Hamas.

ROTH: The Security Council acted much faster than usual in uniting behind a statement of reaction to more death and destruction in the Middle East, but that unity will be tested if Israel or Palestinian militants or both choose to respond with more violence.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


BOUDREAU: While Palestinian officials criticized the attacks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is justifying them.


EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: We will use our force as forcefully as needed against the Hamas in order to achieve a change in its behavior. It's like having an entity of al Qaeda at the backyard of your kind of country or state. That's something that we just cannot afford.

We have tried. I have tried. I convinced other members of the cabinet to give it a chance. We gave it. They broke it. Now, it's time to pay the price for it.

VOICE OF SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: We are calling upon Israel to stop their attack and to adhere to the Egyptian efforts in order to maintain a mutual ceasefire. I'm not saying that we have an army or a navy or an (INAUDIBLE) in Gaza. All I'm saying is that Gaza is the most densely populated area on earth, six persons per square meter. I'm afraid that if we don't begin de-escalation and de- confliction process immediately, the net results of the continuation of such Israeli aggression would be disastrous.


BOUDREAU: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is urging Israel and Hamas to agree to another ceasefire. Abbas' government is locked in a power struggle with the Hamas movement.

HOLMES: All right. Let's take a live picture here now. It certainly looks calm right now. This is the calm we are seeing. This is a look from the Israeli side looking into Gaza right now. This is not the picture -- we have actually seen a whole lot over the past couple of days. The past of couple of days, we have seen many parts -- at least 200 targets, according to Israeli officials they have targeted, 200 Hamas targets that they have gone after with these air strikes. But right now, relatively calm.

We want to turn to our Paula Hancocks who is standing by along that Israeli-Gaza border.

Paula, we know this bombardment continues, but how frequent are you seeing some of this pounding by these Israeli air strikes?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., we heard a couple of explosions possibly just one reverberating about five minutes ago, and that was looking like it was northern Gaza City and northern Gaza (INAUDIBLE). It's suspected Israeli air strike. We've been seeing these air strikes all morning.

There was a little bit of a lull about two hours or so, but certainly, this operation is very much ongoing. The air operation is ongoing and the ground operation behind me looks like it is in preparation. Now, you can see these tanks that just rolled in about two or three hours ago. We're only 2.5 kilometers away from the Gaza border here. You can see the working on the tanks making sure that they are battle fit.

And if you just look to the other side of me as well, you can see there is a fairly long line of them. They started rolling in, as I say, a couple of hours ago. This doesn't mean that there's going to be a ground operation. This means there is preparations under way for a possible ground operation and certainly we don't know at this point whether or not there will be.

Barak said, the defense minister, "If we need one, then, we will go ahead with one." But, of course, what he needs to remember and what Israel will remember is a ground operation will probably lead to some Israeli soldier deaths.

Now, of course, from the other side of that border, in Gaza, there is still a tremendous amount of people injured. We have more than 275 Palestinians killed at this point according to Palestinian medical sources, and hundreds still needing medical attention. Whether they are Hamas operatives or whether they are civilians, they still need that medical attention.

And we do know that this morning, this Sunday morning, they did actually allow, Israel allowed about 16 trucks in. These were taking some medical supplies which are desperately needed in these Gaza hospitals and also some basic supply of food and water -- T.J.?

HOLMES: And, Paula, you talked about -- we don't know if a ground incursion could happen, but it certainly looks like they are getting ready for one or at least taking some steps that they believe is prudent to be ready in case they want to -- give us an idea of the real possibility of that? What would need to happen? What are they waiting on to happen that would be a signal to them that they need to go in?

And also, as these air strikes continue, we get to report that at least 200 Hamas targets have been hit. What else are they going after? Certainly, some military targets, but are there that many more prime targets that Israel thinks they can go after?

HANCOCKS: Well, let me take the second question first. Hamas completely controls Gaza. Hamas is all over Gaza. There are endless Hamas targets for Israel to go after.

And even though they've got pretty much all the security compounds, we expect they've got most of the police stations that are Hamas-manned. Israel certainly doesn't show any signs of letting up. So, it still has targets to go for. It went for Hamas mosque overnight. It went for Hamas TV station overnight. It's gone for the Gazan central jail which houses some Hamas installations as well.

So, Israel is showing no signs of letting up. It still has targets to take out. Now, as for the ground operation, they are definitely preparing for a ground operation. These soldiers would have been told, "Assume that you're going in, assume you need to be absolutely ready. We will give you the green light."

Now, that green light could only come from the defense minister and, of course, the chief of staff of the Israeli defense forces, and they're going to see how much rocket action there is. What is the retaliation from Hamas, from the other militant groups, and how many rockets do they manage to fire from Gaza into Israel, and how many casualties could that possibly be? These are the crucial questions that they're going to be looking at -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. Paula Hancocks for us, again, on the Israeli-Gaza border. Thank you so much.

We also want to add, we're just getting words that the Israeli cabinet has also approved a call-up of reserve soldiers. So, like she just mentioned there, the possibility of a ground incursion, but it certainly looks like Israel is preparing itself for possibly an incursion but certainly, a conflict that they don't believe is going to be short-lived.

BOUDREAU: Aides to President-elect Barack Obama say he's closely monitoring the situation in Gaza, and he's been briefed on the violence by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She's issued this statement: "The United States is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza. We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there. The ceasefire must be restored immediately and fully respected. The United States calls on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza."

CNN's Elaine Quijano is at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. She'll have a live report on this crisis in the Middle East next hour. HOLMES: All right. We've been dealing with snow, ice, and rain, and -- well -- throw some wind in there now. Missouri is getting ripped by some pretty heavy winds there, causing some fire hazards and also tossing planes around like toys. We'll be taking a look at some damage there. And also, is your flight running on time? We'll check on that as well.


BOUDREAU: Here's a live picture of the Gaza-Israel border right now. This is on Israel side looking into Gaza. You can see plumes of smoke and, obviously, no end in sight here. We'll be watching this all morning long. We'll pass it over to T.J. -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. We are going back to some weather now. Some severe weather, they're going from one extreme to another in the Midwest. They had ice storms to deal with over the past week or so.

Well, now we have an unseasonable warm front that has moved in. So, now, the concern is a lot of that ice is melting a little too quickly. Homeowners are being warned about overflowing rivers and flooded basements.

Yes, all of this is in Missouri now to tell you about with the flurry of winds they got there. Seventy-mile-per-hour winds actually shattered glass, ripped up some trees, snapped some power lines. More than 40,000 people lost power. You're looking at a downed power line there that's putting on a bit of a show.

Most of the power is back on right now, we do understand. Now, the winds were so strong -- take a look at what they did to a plane. That's not supposed to happen. A plane turned upside down. Also, toppled a lot of trees, and trees fell on homes and on cars, so just causing quite a mess.

Now, ice and rain -- that's keeping a lot of folks in Chicago a little worried. A lot of homeowners there are worried. They're trying to protect their homes from heavy flooding. That's a huge priority right now.

Ashley Yarchin (ph) from our affiliate, CLTV, with the story for us.


ASHLEY YARCHIN (ph), REPORTER: The work is tough.

MICHAEL BURNS, HOMEOWNER: But first of all, let's address one thing at a time. I'm really tired right now because I'm out of shape.

YARCHIN (ph): But Michael Burns knows it has to be done.

BURNS: When it's not being flooded, it's beautiful. You get a view of the river. You can see the deer going by. It's quite a sight. YARCHIN (ph): This (ph) September, his home here on the Des Plaines River flooded just before he was supposed to move in, before they had time to set up sandbags --and believe it or not -- renovations from that flood just finished.

PAT LEONE, HOME BUILDER: It got to about right here, right below these windows last time. And if it gets above, you know, that much again, there could be a problem. We're going to try to prevent, you know, some long-term damage by sandbagging around this lower area in front here.

YARCHIN (ph): Pat Leone is Michael's brother and builder, and has heard that the National Weather Service is predicting water levels to be about the same, cresting at over 9 1/2 feet when the flood stage is at just seven.

LEONE: We're just trying to do the best we can. And, you know, with everyone helping, it's worked out pretty well.

YARCHIN (ph): And some neighbors have done the same, though, none they know have plans to evacuate.

BURNS: We saw a shipment of food and beverages coming in to some of the places around here. People are saying they will not leave. I heard that story before but I will leave quickly -- as soon as I'm done trying to protect.


HOLMES: All right. Let's turn it over yonder, over here. Bonnie Schneider, where do we even start? We got so much going on. You tell us where we need to start.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're going to start off right in Chicago, because we don't have rain falling there right now, but the runoff and all the streams from yesterday's heavy rain, you combine that plus the snow melt that you saw from that report, the threat from flooding continues. Flood warnings will continue straight for today.

And then, when the air is colder, just to the north in Wisconsin, we have another one to two inches of snow falling. How is that going to affect your travel? Just be careful. That snow is going to come down mostly this morning in the next two hours.

We're also watching runoff from heavy rain in the St. Louis area. There was a lot of rain that swept through Missouri and strong winds. We have tornado warnings at one point.

We're also tracking thunderstorms in Cleveland. This squall line has already pushed through. It's a fast-mover but it did produce some heavy rain. Heavy rain this area into these early hours of Alabama. We're getting into Alabama, moving into Atlanta, Georgia, where it's very overcast. It's also overcast in the New York City metropolitan area. In Manhattan, we just had this fog advisory lifted but you'll see the surrounding areas as far to the west as Pennsylvania, and then you head further to the east, right along Fairfield County in Connecticut; Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island, we have a dense fog advisory that will persist until 10:00 a.m., very difficult to see in terms of visibility. High temperatures for today show the mark of that cold front coming through, much colder to the north, much milder to the south.

And we're also tracking your holiday travel here on CNN. You can see the information on the bottom inside of your screen. The planes are already in the air. We have 1,500 of them in the air right now, mostly in the eastern half of the country. Day is just getting started with the fog and the rain and the ice, we're likely to see more delays later on. No delays just yet, though.

Back to you.

HOLMES: Yes. But as you always say, it's early.

SCHNEIDER: They're coming.

HOLMES: They're coming. All right. Bonnie, thank you so much. We'll see you again here soon.

BOUDREAU: Well, when times are tough, most people like to try their luck. That's usually the logic. But what's happening these days has lottery officials around the country nervous.


HOLMES: All right. Well, those strikes continue today in Gaza. Those air strikes are being done by the Israeli side. But Israeli still opened the border today and allowed limited supply of food, fuel, and medicine, to enter Gaza.

Joining us now from Jerusalem, Christopher Gunness, with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

Sir, we appreciate your time. I mean, the situation for the Palestinians, you know, in any given day isn't that great -- humanitarian needs there day in and day out. Now, given what we've been seeing the past couple of days with these air strikes, tell us how dire is the situation for the Palestinians right now?

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, U.N. RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES: The situation is absolutely disastrous. Your viewers must realize that for over a year and a half now, there's been a blockade, strangulation -- if you like -- of Gaza. So, we, as the largest humanitarian agency working on the ground in Gaza have been unable to get the sorts of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid in. So, long, long lists of drugs and other medical supplies which in the U.S. would be considered standard in any hospital, they are just not available in Gaza.

So, when people have been turning up for treatment following this massive attack, they are simply being turned away. If you got things like shattered limbs, broken arms, broken legs, feet blown off, that kind of thing, you're simply not being seen. If you got very light injuries and you need bandages or aspirins, you'll get seen. If you are very severely, critically ill, you might get seen.

Huge numbers of people are simply being turned away, which is why UNWRA in Gaza has opened 18 of its health centers in the hope that we can help relieve the burden on a health service which, quite frankly, is collapsing fast.

HOLMES: Sir, you said you opened up those 18 centers. Is that nearly enough and is Israel doing enough, in your opinion, to allow this humanitarian aid in to so many of the civilians who, no doubt, have been affected by what's going on?

GUNNESS: Well, it's interesting. I mean, the Israelis, on one hand, are being cooperative with us as a humanitarian organization in helping us get things in. On the other hand, it's ironic that it mustn't be forgotten that it's because of this huge Israeli air bombardment of Gaza that we need to get these supplies in. So, yes, of course, we need to get supplies in.

We needed to get supplies in for months. Even when there was a ceasefire on the ground for five months following the third week of June, we were not able to get materials, aids and medical assistance into Gaza. So, yes, there is a degree of cooperation from Israelis but, of course, it mustn't be forgotten that all these material is needed because of this aerial bombardment.

And although, various politicians in Israel is saying we must be very careful to avoid civilians casualties, it's a bit like saying, "Let's have an air strike against Manhattan and be very careful to avoid civilian casualties." Most Americans I know would simply laugh at that situation, and see it as, frankly, absurd. So, any military planner in Israel would have known very well that is an absolute certainty that civilians will get killed in an aerial bombardment this sort.

Seven UNWRA students were killed in a matter of seconds when shrapnel and other debris flew through the air because there was an air strike near them. We need to investigate this. If civilians are killed, in this one instance, it needs to be properly investigated. The facts must speak for themselves, there has to be accountability.

HOLMES: OK. I think I heard you right there, sir. It sounds like seven of your own people and you say students were killed. Of course, CNN can't confirm that. But I'll take you at your word that that's what happened, and certainly, our condolences to you. And it sounds like you lost some people. So, sorry to hear that news.

Sir, tell me, again, even before these air strikes and this bombardment started, we know -- as you explaining there -- that it's tough to get humanitarian aid in there. What is your challenge? I guess, are there ongoing negotiations and conversations with the Israeli side and is there much cooperation, I guess, on a day-to-day basis in trying to open it up a little more? GUNNESS: That's a really excellent question, because it's easy to see this in black and white terms, if you forgive the expression, but actually it's not that simple. We have a good working relationship with Israelis on the ground, but at the political level, it seems that there is some kind of determination that there should be no development, there should be no prosperity inside Gaza. And because of that, many officials inside the United Nations and outside have said that this amounts to a collective punishment of 1.5 million people living in terrible circumstances.

And what we say is to have tens of thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands of angry, hungry, desperate people on the borders of Israel is not in Israel's interest. It's only the militants, it's only the extremists who benefit from the situation in Gaza.

As United Nations Relief and Work Agency's spokesperson, we say let's talk. What we need is to sit down and talk. As Churchill said, "Jaw-jaw-jaw, not war-war-war." What we need is to sit down and talk. The differences are clear.

We condemn the rockets in the United Nations. No government in this world should have its citizens attacked in this way. On the other hand, we also say, let's talk because peace, frankly, is the only strategic option now.

HOLMES: You know, I think, no one, no matter which side they're on, would argue that nobody wants war, nobody wants violence, and nobody wants death.

Christopher Gunness with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian Refugees, kind sir, I appreciate your taking the time out and sharing with us what's going on there and your challenges. Thank you for your time, sir.

GUNNESS: Thank you very much, indeed. Great to be here. Thank you. Bye.

HOLMES: All right. And we will continue to follow this breaking news. Again, another picture here -- a live look at what's happening right now. You can't see that bombardment, you can't see those plumes of smoke, but that is and just very much in stark contrast to many of the pictures we've been seeing out of Gaza over the past couple days where Israeli air strikes continue. At least 275, according to Palestinian sources, have been killed in these attacks.

Stay with CNN.


HOLMES: The New Year is upon us. A lot of people are going through tough economic times right now, but hey, are you pessimistic right now? No, nobody wants to be that. Hopefully, you're optimistic. So, that's our email question: How optimistic are you about the New Year? Email us at

BOUDREAU: Getting credit is more difficult than ever. Christine Romans takes a look at how to maintain your credit-worthiness and keep your finances "Right on Your Money."


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lenders are raising the bar on their credit score requirements. And that's leading many people out in the cold.

JULIE WOODING, SR. CONSULTANT, FAIR ISAAC: Economy like today where the risk makeup of today's consumers is different, smart lenders are going to be evaluating their customers (ph), the scores that they're using and making sure that they're still approving credit to a qualified set of consumers.

ROMANS: If you're denied credit, you could always shop around. There's not credit score that's considered good by all lenders. But bigger is always better.

WOODING: You want to have the highest score possible. Scores range generally from 300 to 850. Most consumers actually have a credit score of 700 or better.

ROMANS: So, check your credit score and try to improve it.

WOODING: The best way to repair your credit history is to, first of all, most importantly, pay all your bills on time. If you are delinquent on any of your payments at this point, it's important to get those accounts current and keep them current. It's important not to go and seek new credit accounts unless you really truly need it.

As you go forward in time and as the delinquency gets older and older, it's going to impact their view of you as a credit risk class (ph).

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Hello there, everybody. And thank you for being with us on the CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BOUDREAU: And I'm Abbie Boudreau. Betty Nguyen is on vacation.

Here are some of the top stories we're following right now. Some other top stories of the day: Tennessee sludge is a whole lot worse than officials originally thought. Coal waste leaks from a power plant, and now, officials say more than a billion gallons of this coal ash has flooded parts of the state. That's three times more than what was initially reported. The sludge has damaged a dozen homes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water is not supposed to look like that. I lived here my whole life. I've never seen anything like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOUDREAU: Officials assured people in the area that the runoff does not cause health problems unless it's ingested but an environmental group says that warning is not strong enough.

HOLMES: Well police in Covina, California have found a second rental car that's involved in that so-called Santa shooting that killed nine people. The car is believed to have been rented by Bruce Jeffrey Pardo. He's the man that police say is the man behind that Christmas eve rampage. That rampage happened and then he killed himself. He also set fire to the home where the shooting happened. No word yet if the car was booby-trapped or carrying explosives like the other car they found that he was in.

You're looking at dash cam video of the get-away car used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. This shows a state trooper searching Timothy McVeigh's car almost an hour and a half after the bombing. The car did not have a license plate which was why it got pulled over in the first place. The trooper found a loaded gun hidden inside. The video will be used in a documentary about the bombing.

HOLMES: Well, just a short time ago the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to call up reserved soldiers. This is the second day that Israel has launched air strikes against Hamas. We've been keeping an eye on this breaking story. Hamas meanwhile is firing back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Israeli jets pounded Hamas targets in Gaza again this morning, second straight day of that. And Israel police now say a missile from Gaza hit deeper into Israel.

BOUDREAU: As you can see, there's no letup in the violence. Here's the latest, a U.N. security council ended a four-hour emergency meeting early this morning calling for an immediate end to the violence. The death toll from the Israeli raids has risen to 275. 600 more were wounded. Israeli tanks have gathered at the border at Gaza and just a short while ago the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to call up thousands of reservists. Israel also has a message for the people of Gaza.


EHUD OLMERT, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTERS: You the citizens of Gaza are not our enemies. Hamas, jihad, and other terrorists organizations are your enemies as they are our enemies.


HOLMES: And the Palestinian U.N. observer calls the Israeli pounding inhumane and immoral. And says they should be stopped immediately.


AMBASSADOR RIYAD MANSOUR, U.N. PERMANENT OBSERVER TO PALESTINE: There is no justification to slaughtering hundreds of Palestinian civilians and injuring close to 1,000 people.


HOLMES: One of the rockets that Hamas fired into Israel today reached farther than previous ones.

BOUDREAU: And Israeli officials say it was fired northward in the Israeli city. Josh Levs is here to show us a little bit more of that area and help us explain exactly what is going on.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'll do my best. Good morning to you, guys. Let's take a look at this. I got a map from the U.S. government, really good to - a visual of Israel. Let's zoom in on it. I'm going to talk to you about what we're seeing today and what's different today. Everything you see on light beige is Israel. This little tiny section down here is Gaza. I told you this once yesterday. It's about twice the size of Washington, D.C. packed with people. 1.5 million people.

Now, in general when Hamas militants have been firing rockets into Israel. They are shooting north and they have previously hit a city here called Askaban. They've also shot eastward and hit this area before call (inaudible). Now, this is what's new today. We're told by Israeli officials, people on the ground are reporting this. Hamas militants in Gaza managed to get a rocket farther up, close to this city here which is called Ashdod. Now that is one of Israel's fastest growing cities that suggest the rockets are reaching farther and to give you a sense of perspective - if we zoom upwards just a little bit farther north, you got Tel Aviv which everyone is familiar with, one of the major cities of Israel which means rockets are getting further able to reach areas that can obviously, you know, impact more people.

Now let's zoom out a bit so people can see the entire area here. Israel about the size of New Jersey. So when you talk about different cities, everything is very close to everything else. For this rocket fired from Gaza to manage to reach farther is a significant new development in this back and forth, guys.

BOUDREAU: And Josh, can you talk us through some of the history of this region that led up to today?

LEVS: Sure. Let's do this. Let's zoom back to 1920. there's always more to say, we could go back to the Ottoman empire. We're not going to. Let's start in 1920. I want to give you guys some of the recent things. We have a graphic for this. Let's start off -- that's the point that it was part of the British rule mandate of Palestine. Then in 1948 Egypt actually gained control of Gaza. That was during the Arab-Israeli war. The war that led to Israel's own independence, as its own state.

In 1956 Israel actually briefly took Gaza but then it was in 1967, on this next screen, that Israel took control of it after that six-day war. In 1994, most Israeli troops were gone after an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization. And in 2005, as what we reported here, guys, it ended the occupation but as you know we've had this back and forth and lots of rockets shot out of that area and Israel taking military action, which is what we're seeing today. There you go.

BOUDREAU: Thank you so much, Josh.

LEVS: You got it.

BOUDREAU: We really appreciate it.

HOLMES: We turn back to the Hawaiian islands of Oahu. Most of the power is back on. And of course, that's where the president-elect and his family have been vacationing. They along with more than 900,000 other people lost power during a thunderstorm on Friday. Officials say they're not yet sure exactly what caused the power outage but they suspect that it might have been lightning that caused the problem.

So how is the president to be looking in the latest polls? Our deputy political director Paul Steinhauser in Boston today. All right. He's not the president yet so we can't give him job approval ratings on being president but still there are some poll numbers that suggest how people feel about what he's doing. And this stimulus package that we're hearing so much about could turn out to be a big one, people want it, people don't want it.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, they want it, T.J. They want it. According to our polls from CNN opinion research corporation. We asked about this plan. Because this is really the first thing on his to-do list and 56 percent of those polled say they think it's a good idea. So a majority thinks it's a good idea. Why? Because they realize the economy is not doing well at all and they think this plan can help. But even though a majority like this plan, T.J., it doesn't mean they kind of thinking differently about the government getting involved.

Take a look at this. We asked what do you think about government getting involved in business and industry. And they're pretty much split. 39 percent say too much government involvement. 39 percent say too little. But regardless this is really one of the first big things he wants to do - Barack Obama wants to do to jump-start the economy and he says once he takes office on January 20th, he wants to work with Congress and get this plan passed immediately. T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Well, something that other people would like to see happen immediately according to this next poll is President Bush being out of office. These are some nasty numbers here.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. I guess, it's really no surprise but we did ask. You know, President Bush getting ready to leave office on January 20th. Well do you want to see him go. Are you going to miss him or not? Three out of four Americans say hey get out of dodge. It's time to go. We are glad he is going. Only less than a quarter think they are going to miss him. Compare this to President Clinton eight years ago. Remember there was a lot of Bill Clinton fatigue but you can see right here, 24 points higher for Bush. They want to see him go more than Bill Clinton eight years ago. So you can really see the difference right there.

Now also we asked what do you think about President Bush? Do you think he was a good president or poor president or the worst ever. Well you can see these numbers right here. 28 percent saying he is the worst president ever when compared to his predecessors, 31 percent say good and about 40 percent say he as a poor president. T.J.

HOLMES: Goodness. All right. Well, let's move on to something else and certainly not on a lighter note at all. This is really kind of an outrage story that has people scratching their heads, could not believe what they were hearing. Let's take a quick listen to it and see if our viewers can believe what they're about to hear. Let's listen in and we'll talk about it with Paul.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack the magic Negro lives in D.C.. Many times they call him that because he's not authentic like me.


HOLMES: All right. Yes, folks, what you did hear was a song called "Barack the magic Negro." That song is on a CD that is sent out by Chip Saltsman who is a candidate for the RNC chairmanship. Paul, explain this one.

STEINHAUSER: Yes and he is defending this. He sent the CD out to the RNC members, republican members who will vote for the new chairman. He is running for the new chairmanship position. And he sent this out. He says it's a parody and he says that people should understand the joke. This song first came about a year and a half ago. It was penned by a friend of his. And it got a lot of rounds on conservative talk radio. Rush Limbaugh played it. He has put it on this new CD that he's put out to RNC members who will vote in this election. He is defending it. The head of the RNC right now who will be running against Saltsman called this - really slammed this and said this was a horrible thing that he did. Even Newt Gingrich who is a kind of a neutral arbiter here has also criticized this move as well. It's probably not the smartest thing to do when you're running for the RNC chairmanship because it just brings controversy on you that you probably don't need.

HOLMES: All right. Maybe you can come back next time with some poll numbers on Chip Saltsman and this move he made.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. We'll work on that one.

HOLMES: All right. Paul, always good to see you. Glad you had a good Christmas. See you again soon, buddy.


BOUDREAU: When the spirit is willing but the clock is ticking, religious downloads straight to your iphone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: All right. You do everything else on this thing here. You might as well get yourself a little religion on your iphone as well. Yes, there's some faith for your iPhone out there. A Catholic priest in Rome has developed the download that will deliver prayers and scriptures directly to your iPhone. CNN's Alessio Vinci taking a look for us.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 2008 has been the year of the app, mobile phone application whether it is rolling dice, thinking the virtual ivory or keeping up with comics. And now you can even address the all-mighty. Yes, Italian priest Padre Paolo Padrini has a knack for the faithful on a schedule.

REV. DON PAOLO PADRINI, WEB PRAYER DESIGNER (through translator): She pulls out it. You can use your iPhone to pray, he says.

VINCI: Concern that in today's fast paced world good Catholics can't find the time to step inside the church, the Father Paolo, a self described Mac fan, designed iBreviary, the application for devotees who need to commune with the Lord while on the go. It contains a collection of the most important prayers and readings of the Catholic Church, known among the clergy as the Breviary. It's one of thousands of applications available on iTunes at the same price as the latest from Britney and Beyonce.

PADRINI (through translator): The new media are not all evil or all angels, he says. It's good that on a website like this one, visited by both believers and those who don't believe you can find rock stars and prayers together.

VINCI: Do you expect that people will one day go to church and instead of using Breviary, using an iPhone?


No, I don't think so, he laughs. It's not meant to replace prayer in church. It is just a tool, a convenient tool to help you pray anywhere, whether on a train, in a car or on a bus. The application is available in many languages, including Latin, English and Spanish. Vatican officials says the modern missionary needs to conquer the digital world.

MONSIGNOR PAUL TIGHE, COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS: Traditionally people talk about the continents that had to be evangelized. There's no doubt that the digital world is a new continent that is need of evangelization.

VINCI: It is also a world often criticized by Pope Benedict for leading the young down the dead end street of consumerism and to be sure there are plenty of consumer goodies packed into ever smaller, ever smarter, ever faster hand helds but if you pray, Father Paolo says, the Lord can always forgive. Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BOUDREAU: Take a look at these photos taken by i-reporter Liza Pace. It's not a rainbow but it's a snow-bow over Lake Placid, New York. Liza is traveling from Oswego county, New York to North Pole, New York to get her Christmas card post marked there. What a pretty sight. We'll have more I-reports and weather after the break.


BOUDREAU: OK. Let me introduce you to the Morrie, that's the sled dog. After riding with his human companion a couple of times. Morrie decided to take the sled for a joyride by himself. Look at that. He's doing a really good job, too. This video is sent to us by i-reporter Teri Anderson. You like that, T.J.?

HOLMES: Why are you all messing with me right now?

BOUDREAU: You like dogs?

HOLMES: I'm not a huge dog fan. I mean -

BOUDREAU: But you have to respect that talent there. That's pretty impressive.


BOUDREAU: I mean the balance is good.

HOLMES: OK. I will take your word. I know you have a dog, you'll be getting a dog and so knock yourself out. Bonnie, sorry, I'm just not a big dog fan.

BOUDREAU: I know Bonnie likes dogs.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I like sledding. That looks like fun.

HOLMES: So you love that video then. It reminds you of your favorite things.

SCHNEIDER: I want to take the dog off and jump on. Just kidding! All right. Let's talk about travel. Because we don't have any airport delays just yet. But we do have 1997, that's the amount of planes in the sky. 1,997 planes that are up there right now. So a lot of flights taking off on time early this morning which is great news. Notice the activities in the eastern half of the country because it is still pretty early out in the west but we are starting to get some planes in and around San Diego, Los Angeles and certainly through southern Texas getting going. But the weather is going to pose problems once again today just like yesterday.

In fact, let's take a walk over here, and I'll show we've got snow, we got rain, fog, pretty much everything. A mixed bag of weather. You can see there is a lot of snow passing through areas into northern Michigan right now, well into Wisconsin. The snow has been coming down pretty heavy in Green Bay. It is starting to taper off. So we'll still see about accumulations of one to two inches of snow.

In Chicago, the run-off from yesterday's heavy rain combined with snow melts will make a big difference causing the threat for flooding, that holds true for St. Louis as well, not as much snow on the ground here but runoff from heavy rains certainly is going to be a problem, something we're watching as well as the fog and some strong thunderstorms. T.J. and Abbie we'll be watching for those airport delays to build throughout the day. But so far, so good. None yet.

HOLMES: So yes, it is just 7:50.

SCHNEIDER: That's true.

HOLMES Yes. We know they're coming. Thank you so much. We'll see you again here soon.


BOUDREAU: All right. When times are tough, most people like to try their luck. Right? That's usually the logic. But what's happening these days has lottery official around the country pretty nervous.



HOLMES: I love that music. I love that song. If anybody knows the words, follow me along. No one knew how to sing that song exactly.

BOUDREAU: It's a humming song.

HOLMES: Oh, my goodness. Our director is singing it in my ear right now. Please stop! OK. We know lot of people right now going through tough times, been a tough year for a lot of folks, tough year for the economy overall in the U.S and world economy but still are you optimistic? What are you optimistic about? Tell us what you are looking forward to in the new year. E-mail us at

BOUDREAU: When the economy is in a recession it often means booming lottery sales but experts say that's not the case this time around and the big losers could be the states that run the lotteries. Here's CNN's Brooke Baldwin.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In these tough economic times where many Americans are spending less and saving more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel lucky?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel lucky all the time.

BALDWIN: Edgell Groves opens his wallet every day in hopes of hitting the jackpot. EDGELL GROVES, LOTTERY PLAYER: Yes, I cut down a little bit on it. Still, you know, you have to play to win.

BALDWIN: (inaudible) plays four times a week even though he admits work is hard to come by lately. So just because the economy is bad, that doesn't stop you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's not stopping me.

BALDWIN: The economy hasn't stopped many millionaire hopefuls here. Employees at this Atlanta Shell station say lottery sales haven't hit a slump - yet.

DENES PELASTER, RUBY SHELL GAS STATION: This is the time people try to win money.

BALDWIN: The Christmas spirit.

PELASTER: Yes, that's correct.

BALDWIN: So once we see January -

PELASTER: Yes, maybe a slow down.

BALDWIN: Nationwide, contrary to popular opinion, state lotteries are not recession-proof. According to the "Wall Street Journal," lottery ticket sales fell two percent in the third quarter of this year compared to last year. A portion of proceeds from state lotteries helps fund public services, like education. Fewer sales may mean fewer funds. That report cites sales in California fell 10 percent and four percent in Texas in just the last couple months. But in New York, home to North America's largest lottery, officials report a 3.2 overall increase as compared to this time last year. That state's lottery contributed nearly $2.6 billion to help support public education last year. While the smart plan may be a conservative approach with his paycheck, this Georgia businessman still can't resist the lure of quick cash.

GROVES: I think it's good to playing 401(k)s and I.R.A.s. I think that's important. But still, yet, you know, I think the opportunity to win a lot of money for a little bit of an investment is good.

BALDWIN: New York lotto officials told us the economy is not the entire reason why some of these sales are slumping nationwide. They say it is also gas prices and it's also a lot of the size of the jackpot, two big factors here in sales. But given the fact that gas prices are at least lower for now. They're anticipating lottery sales to rebound. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. This is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for this December 28th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BOUDREAU: And I'm Abbie Boudreau. Betty Nguyen is off. The big story this morning: The air raids in Gaza City. Now, new this morning, Israeli tanks are lining up along the Israeli-Gaza border. The latest in a live report.

HOLMES: Also, in the Midwest, the snow just too much in some places, too much for some buildings, too much for some people. We'll get the latest on what's happening there with some nasty weather.

Also, you can keep up with that weather. We're keeping this bar up on the side of the screen, also on the bottom here, give you some forecast and updates, and also, some updates on your travel. Lot of people are still trying to get home still on their holiday.

BOUDREAU: OK. Well, Israeli jets pounded Hamas targets in Gaza, again, this morning. And Israel police say a missile from Gaza hit deeper into Israel.

HOLMES: And there's no letup in the violence right now. The latest that we have for you, the U.N. Security Council has ended a four-hour emergency meeting, they ended up early this morning, and they called for an immediate end to the violence, also, calls for some opening of the border so that they can get humanitarian aid into the people in Gaza. The death toll, also, from the Israeli raids, up to 275, according to Palestinian sources, also saying more than 600 have been wounded.

Israeli tanks, meanwhile, have gathered at the border with Gaza. And just a short while ago, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to call up thousands of reservists.

BOUDREAU: Despite U.N. calls to end the violence, Israel says, "Don't count on it." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says it could take some time to improve security and defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza.


EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Israel is now seeking to wipe out the terrorism which is trying to undermine the whole area. And I trust that no leader in the area will consider that now that Israel is acting against the Hamas in Gaza, it can seek to strike elsewhere. We will not hesitate to strike anywhere where we attack. We have stated robustly that the situation cannot continue and that we would take action in order to put an end to the attacks on our population.


BOUDREAU: Israel says Hamas has launched more than 110 rockets from Gaza into Israel since Saturday morning.

HOLMES: Close aides to President-elect Barack Obama say he is closely monitoring the situation in Gaza. They say Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave him a call and briefed him on the violence. That phone call, we understand, went about eight minutes or so. We want to head now down to Crawford, Texas. The White House is keeping an eye on the situation there, blaming the escalation and the conflict in the Middle East on Hamas. Elaine Quijano is there for us at the president's ranch.

Elaine, what is the White House saying? How closely are they keeping an eye on things? And right now, is it still a hand-off approach or are they trying to step in and be a mediator here?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, they're just trying to keep a very close eye -- as you noted -- monitoring the events on the ground, seeing what unfolds over the next 24, 48 hours or so. President Bush has been briefed about this -- certainly, being updated regularly on this.

We should tell you, of course, the White House, as you noted, is placing the blame squarely on Hamas for this latest round of violence. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe really, basically didn't mince words yesterday, saying Hamas is a group of thugs and that Israel is doing what it must in order to defend its people against Hamas and its terrorist activities. At the same time, though, Johndroe said the United States is concerned about the plight of Palestinian civilians caught in the cross fire.


GORDON JOHNDROE, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Hamas must stop launching rockets into Israel. United States holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire. Now, the ceasefire should be restored immediately. United States is also very concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and want all parties involved to work to get the people of Gaza the humanitarian supplies that they need.


QUIJANO: Now, President Bush was briefed by his national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, yesterday via secure video. He also conferred with the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, by phone. But certainly again, T.J., right now, what the White House is doing is really trying to see what happens over the next 24, 48 hours or so, but making very clear it views this action by Israel as necessary step in order to defend the Israeli people against attacks by Hamas -- T.J.?

HOLMES: And, you say, they're kind of waiting to see what happens. But in the meantime, is there a coordinated effort among President Bush and other leaders of the world?

QUIJANO: We have not heard of any other phone calls except for one, actually, the king of Saudi Arabia called President Bush yesterday, expressing his concern about the situation. The Saudi news agency basically laying out the king's view that this is something that Saudi Arabia sees as an act of aggression on the part of Israel. So, certainly this is a very tense situation right now.

We will see whether or not the president himself feels compelled to weigh in to perhaps make an appearance on camera. At this point, again, they are just trying to figure out what exactly is going to happen next before deciding what the next move on the U.S.' part should be -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. Elaine Quijano for us in Crawford, Texas -- Elaine, we appreciate you this morning.

BOUDREAU: Now to our Paula Hancocks along the Israeli-Gaza border. She joins us now via phone. She's been doing some terrific reporting the last couple of days in this conflict.

Paula, can you tell us more about what's happening right now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (through phone): Well, Abbie, at this point, I'm standing next to about seven Israeli tanks which have arrived here on the Israeli-Gaza border in just the last few hours. We are about 2 1/2 kilometers, maybe a mile and a half from the border itself. And we're definitely seeing an increase in the amount of soldiers, the amount of army personnel that are heading to the border.

Now, of course, this doesn't necessarily mean there will be a ground operation at this point. Those working on the tanks are just trying to do some maintenance on the tanks. They're actually building a camp, suggesting, they believe, that they could be here overnight.

At this point, it looks like no ground operation is imminent. But certainly, the air operation is still ongoing. Just -- we haven't really had anything for about an hour, but there have been fairly consistent air strikes across Gaza that we've been hearing, targeting Hamas installations and also targeting the likes of Hamas TV, and also, there was a mosque that was targeted. So, certainly, Israel does not believe that this operation is ended yet -- Abbie?

BOUDREAU: Do you happen to know if any humanitarian supplies are on the way?

HANCOCKS: We have heard, yes, that there is one crossing that has been opened (INAUDIBLE) right down near the south, almost close to Egypt. And we understand from Israel that they have allowed some humanitarian assistance in, at least 20 trucks, we understand, have gone in. Some of the things in those trucks are the absolute basics, like food and water.

We also know that some medical supplies have been allowed in this Sunday. Those are crucial. Because according to Palestinian medical sources, the number of injured from these air strikes is in its hundreds. And of course, any normal American or British hospital would struggle to cope with a sudden influx of hundreds of serious injuries from air strikes.

But Gaza -- it doesn't have normal hospitals. It's woefully short on medical supplies. Its medical equipment is very unsophisticated, and it doesn't even have enough qualified doctors. So, certainly the medical supplies being allowed in this Sunday are vital for Gaza -- Abbie? BOUDREAU: What's happening then to the people that are wounded? Are they being turned away from the hospitals?

HANCOCKS: Well, as far as we can tell, from our sources on ground, they're not actually being turned away but we've certainly seen on Saturday and many people being driven to the hospital in any means possible, really, a taxi or even on a shopping trolley that we've seen. People there were injured and obviously there aren't enough ambulances. Now, there have been chaotic scenes inside the hospital. There had been corridors filled with people lying on the floor, waiting for attention.

CNN has spoken to a couple of hospital workers who have said that, quite frankly, they could have saved more people if they had a decent hospital, if they had the medical supplies they need. But the hospitals here are woefully short on medical supplies, the basics, and forgetting the fact that they're having to deal with hundreds of extra people.

BOUDREAU: All right. Paula Hancocks, please be safe, and thank you for that great report. Thank you very much.

HOLMES: We will turn our attention to some weather now, and they've got some severe weather and severe changes in the weather. We go from ice one day to an unseasonable warm-up the next day, and that causes a bit of a tricky situation. All that ice melting, all that snow melting, and it caused some flooding concerns. Homeowners in Chicago are being warned about overflowing rivers and flooded basements. Many people there are laying out sandbags, as you can see, trying to protect their property.

Also, in Missouri, heavy winds the problem there. A lot of those heavy winds took out some power lines and you can see that downed power line causing a bit of a sparkle and a show. And then, this happens, you could see a plane was upside down. A lot of homes were damaged as well. Also, that melting snow is being blamed for a roof collapse at a store in Oregon. None of the employees were injured, however.

BOUDREAU: It is a busy travel day today. So let's get to meteorologist Bonnie Schneider on the travel conditions -- Bonnie?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we are tracking the travel conditions across the country. And I can tell that almost 2,000 planes are already up and at'em in the air, heading maybe back home after Christmas holiday, or maybe you're getting a head start on where you want to spend your New Year's. But no delays, so far, none so far, but it's still pretty early in the morning. Notice that the activity is pretty minimal when you start heading out west because of the early hour. That's likely to change, though, as we go throughout the day.

Take a look at the snow falling in Wisconsin this morning. It's sweeping right across the Great Lakes. We're getting into Michigan as well. And it could be a couple inches before it's all said and done. So, if you want to stay inside before the storm passes, it might be a good idea. The roads are reportedly slick.

We also have runoff from heavy rain combined with snow melt in Chicago. Let's take a live look at Chicago this morning and show you what's happening there. Overcast skies, it's not raining right now but that doesn't mean we don't see the threat for flooding. We do because of the melting snow, a lot of snow in the city of Chicago.

So, we'll watch and see if the runoff does create a flooding problem. We had reports of heavy rain in some city streets yesterday, several inches of water. I think as we go through the next day or so, think that will improve, conditions will get better. Runoff from heavy rain could be a concern as well for St. Louis, into areas in the suburbs as well, Maryland Heights, Chesterfield, watch out for that.

And as we travel to the south, we are tracking rain, not intense in terms tornadic thunderstorms like we saw yesterday but there is rain working its way into Georgia right now, into the Atlanta metropolitan area. And I have a feeling that's going to cause some delays as we go through the morning.

Another big delay-maker for travel is dense fog. So, we have a dense fog advisory for Upstate New York, back out through Fairfield County in Connecticut, and Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island. But so far, no delays just yet due to fog or rain yet, it's still early.

Back to you.

HOLMES: All right, we appreciate you. And we'll be talking to you soon and see if some of those delays are still not happening. Bonnie, talk to you soon.


BOUDREAU: All right. Take a look at some of these iReports that we're sent to us by Marilyne Shcoma (ph). She says she took these photos at her Seattle house, just right outside her house where a neighbor in the little blue bug over there, she says couldn't get up that snowy hill. I mean, these pictures are great. I love getting iReport pictures because we use a lot of them. I mean, we really do.

HOLMES: They are necessary sometimes. A lot of these folks can get to places and see things that we don't see.

BOUDREAU: When we don't have reporters out there.

HOLMES: We don't have one on that particular street.

BOUDREAU: No, we don't.

HOLMES: So, they helped us a lot of times. We always appreciate it, keep those coming.

We will turn to, you know, the year end. There are a lot of lists out there, the top this, the top that. Well, we've got the top sports stories coming up. The Giants, the New York football Giants -- that was a huge story, not just because another team won the Super Bowl but because of who they beat in the Super Bowl. But which story was the number one sports story of the year? Stay here.


HOLMES: All right.

BOUDREAU: Well, we seem to all be going through tough economic times, but are you planning on your resolutions yet? I know I'm making my resolutions.

HOLMES: Yes. A lot of people are making their resolutions.


HOLMES: What you have so far?

BOUDREAU: Well, I'm working on my listing.


BOUDREAU: But I'm thinking I want to have a little bit, of just a little bit more fun.

HOLMES: Little bit more fun?

BOUDREAU: Yes, you know?


BOUDREAU: I get a little stressed out sometimes. Let me try to have fun just a little bit more.

HOLMES: I'm just the opposite. I need to have not as much fun and I need to get a little more serious.

BOUDREAU: All right.

HOLMES: But Josh is here -- Josh Levs looking at, you know, a lot of celebrities, a lot of political figures. They're putting out their New Year's resolutions as well.

Josh, what you got?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's interesting. The "Wall Street Journal" talks with some these big wigs out there. And so, they wanted to know a few things and what they had in mind for the next year. But it's making me upset but I only have a few days left, I don't have any of my own yet.

Let me show you some of what "Wall Street Journal" got going. And we're going to start off with Martha Stewart. A lot of people are curious about her. But she says is that she almost never makes any New Year's resolutions. She says she believes in constant evolution. And, basically, she says that she thinks just like contracts, these things need constant tweaking. So, as a rule, she just doesn't go there.

But Wolfgang Puck, guys, on the next one. Take a look at his. He says he wants to spend more weekends with his family instead of working. He points out that he's turning 60 next year, and he thinks that will be a good place to start.

Up next: Mike Huckabee. He's been on the show, right? T.J., you talked to him.

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

LEVS: He says he has a plan for next year. He wants to train for another marathon. Not bad.

HOLMES: He did one back in Little Rock. Remember, he lost like 100 pound and ran a marathon.

LEVS: Yes. And that was a big deal. So, he's getting a lot of praise for that. So now, he wants to run another one. Not bad.


LEVS: We got time? Let's see a couple more. We got time. Let's go to this one. All right. Mitt Romney -- now, tell me what he is talking about? He wants to stop wearing a suit and tie to bed. I bet he's poking fun at his image of always being so buttoned-up.

HOLMES: I can totally see that, though.

LEVS: Yes, I know, me, too. I just -- maybe that means he passes out when he's still at work? I don't know what's going on there.

All right. Donna Brazile right here -- cook more but eat less of what I stir up for others. And finally, Katie Perry, young singer, 24 years old, she tells the "Wall Street Journal" she's going to stop reading her own press.

So, there you go. That's just a handful of what they got right here, 2009 resolutions at "Wall Street Journal" today. You can tell us your resolutions, guys. Don't afraid to email them to us or check out "Year in Review."

And, I don't know, I'm inspired. I've got just a few more days to figure out what I'm going to do.

BOUDREAU: I'm sure you'll figure it out.

LEVS: I'll figure it out.

BOUDREAU: You have a little time.

LEVS: I'll work on it.

BOUDREAU: Well, we want to know if you are optimistic. That's our e-mail question. Are you more or less optimistic about the New Year? E-mail us at

HOLMES: All right. Well, a lot of folks this week -- you may have had a visitor to your house, maybe came through the chimney, you know, last week. But what about a visitor in the attic?


STACEY FERRANCE, RESIDENT: He ate the same food we ate. He was wearing, you know, some of our clothing which is a little bit disturbing.


HOLMES: A little bit disturbing? Kind of freaky. A stranger hides out in the family's attic for a week and he was not wearing a red suit.


BOUDREAU: Now, here's a story out of Pennsylvania to keep you up at night. A stranger living in your attic, eating your food, wearing your clothes, all without you even knowing. But the 21-year-old -


STACEY FERRANCE, RESIDENT: I just glanced over at the side wall and there was a perfect footprint right there at eye level. That was it. Once (INAUDIBLE) got here with the dog is when he started saying, "I'm coming out, I'm coming out."

It's absolutely bizarre but it's just -- I'm glad that everybody is safe.


BOUDREAU: Stanley Carter had been staying with friends next door but then he apparently gained access to the house through a shared attic. During his week-long stay in the attic, he took a laptop, a blanket, clothes and other items. Carter now has a more long-term living arrangement at the local jail.

HOLMES: Well, all right. That's a little freaky, isn't it, Larry?


HOLMES: A Little strange. I guess it could have been worse. It wasn't exactly.

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Squirrels in the attic, never a person up there.

HOLMES: Never a grown man.

All right. This is a year end, always good to have you on these sports stories. But a lot of this list people are putting together. So, a list of the top sports stories. There were some good ones. This was an amazing -- like the first part of the year, we had some of the biggest sports stories and it's fun time to the sports fans.

SMITH: It was, and it's really fun because last year was all about the scandals, you know?


SMITH: So, in trying to make a top five, I got to admit, T.J., I cheated.

HOLMES: OK. At least you admit it.

SMITH: I did, I do admit.

HOLMES: All right.

SMITH: Making a list of just five was really difficult because there is -- you have Jimmy Johnson winning his third straight Nextel Cup title. First time in 30 years that's happened. The Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer Wimbledon thriller -- that was fantastic. The point-shaving scandal involving the former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy.

So, indulge me while I throw in some honorable mentions for 2008. How about Yankee Stadium closing its doors? It has been to us what the Coliseum was to ancient Rome, not just to host all those Yankee teams, but NFL championships, heavyweight boxing title fights, even the Pope spoke there.

The Celtics returning to championship glory for the first time since 1986 as they beat the Lakers in the most watched NBA finals in years. Their 17 titles ranks number one in NBA history.

Danica Patrick breaking through the gender barrier, a victory for women worldwide. The 26-year-old winning her first Indy car race. So, Danica didn't quite make the top five. Those are the "almost."

HOLMES: All right.

SMITH: But here's a list of my top five sports stories of the year, if you will. OK. Big Brown's quest for horseracing's Triple Crown comes in at number five. The 3-year-old captivated the world's attention by dominating the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, only to come up well short in the Belmont in June, leaving the sport still without a Triple Crown winner since 1978.

At number four, Roger Clemens testifying on Capitol Hill. The legendary pitcher becoming the face of the Mitchell report which was released in December of 2007, and detailed steroid use in Major League Baseball. Clemens was the biggest name listed and federal prosecutors are still investigating whether he perjured himself before a congressional committee in February.

HOLMES: It's been pretty lately. We haven't heard from him lately.

SMITH: You haven't, except for once -- it was daily denials there for a while for Roger.


SMITH: Yes, just, you know, let it go. Well, it could come up again (INAUDIBLE).

How about number three, Super Bowl XLII, the incredible victory by the Giants.


SMITH: This was something else. Rarely does the word upset apply in pro sports. But the Patriots had just completed the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history and were staring a perfect 19-0 record in the face when New York pulled off the upset of a New England team they had lost to just a month early. HOLMES: And that's amazing. Now, nobody remembers that. You know, we will remember it, that undefeated season, but everybody talks about the Giants. You see how that happens.


HOLMES: If you don't win at all, then, it doesn't even matter.

SMITH: Yes. You were at that game? Well, I didn't realize that. I remember the Giants.

Yes, well, remember, Tiger Woods at number two. Not just a playoff victory over a determined journeyman, Rocco Mediate, at our nation's championship, the U.S. Open. But the superstar golfer added to his legend by winning his 14th career Major on one good leg. Woods announced two days later that he would need reconstructive knee surgery and he hasn't played since.

And, T.J., when interviewed Tiger after the win, he never bent his left leg during the entire interview. He politely avoided any questions about it. Even off the record. So, I really wasn't surprise by that news.

No surprise, though, at number one: Michael Phelps winning a record eight gold medals in the pool at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. It wasn't without drama. One of them was earned when Jason Lezak rallied from behind to win a relay race. And in another, Phelps out-touched his opponent by 0.001 of a second to win his seventh gold before the history-making relay a day later.

Not only the story of the year but quite possibly, that of the decade.

HOLMES: Yes. And it did come with drama. It wasn't like he's just blowing everybody out of the water. I mean, he had some blowouts but there were some drama there.


HOLMES: Good list. Always good to have you with us. I guess it would our last time with you for the year.

SMITH: Well, Happy New Year.

HOLMES: It's been good. See you next year, man.

SMITH: (INAUDIBLE). All right.

BOUDREAU: All right. This is a good story. She's finding ways to help them unwind. One woman's mission to get female troops returning from Iraq the "movie star" treatment.


BOUDREAU: It's called a "Military Mission Makeover" and it rewards female troops returning from Iraq with a day of beauty. A Maryland hairstylist made it her mission to match soldiers with salons willing to donate their services.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has the story.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kristina Moffett is a wife and mother of three young boys. At home in Maryland, she does playground duty and referees her kids' dance contests.

It's a departure from the role she's played the last 16 months. Captain Moffett, army nurse stationed in Baghdad.

CAPT. KRISTINA MOFFETT, ARMY NURSE: I really can't imagine not taking care of them. Being over there though, it was -- you kind of forgot. You kind of just put it aside. It was hard, I was the only female, I was the only mom.

KEILAR: As Kristina adjusts to home life, she's reporting for another mission: a makeover at the hands of Evangelin Pesci, the local hairstylist and makeup artist who offers up her talents free of charge to veterans returning from war.

EVANGELIN PESCI, HAIRSTYLIST: They're sort of thrown back into that life where overseas they are, you know, they're not mothers, they're not daughters, they're not anything but soldiers. And they kind of lose that identity. So, me having them in my chair and saying that "What do you want? What's going to make you feel beautiful?" It's all about them at that moment.

KEILAR: Pesci launched the program "Military Mission Makeover" earlier this year, recruiting dozens of salons across the country.

Today, Kristina is getting the works at the Renaissance Salon and Spa in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Manicure and pedicure, makeup, hair color and a haircut as her husband and sons await the big reveal.


MOFFETT: I'm still a soldier. I put my uniform on tomorrow and go to work. But I'll feel pretty.

KEILAR: It's just a few hours at the salon, what some might call frivolous pampering. But after living in a war zone for more than a year, Captain Moffett's new look is a new beginning. And for Eva Pesci, it's a way to say "Thank You."

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: And she looks fantastic. Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "HOUSE CALL," starts right now.