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Saddam Hussein Executed; Thousands Pay Final Respects to President Ford; Goodbye to Godfather of Soul

Aired December 30, 2006 - 22:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: A defiant dictator sentenced to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...where the phone is ringing from Iraq or from Syria, whatever, the people they want to let me know Saddam's going to be killed. It's going to be the best point of my life.


LIN: Full military honors for the so-called accidental president. Thousands paying respects to Gerald R. Ford.

And a final farewell to the godfather of soul.


AL SHARPTON: Judge not the distance of a man by where he is, but where he begins. And nobody started lower and went higher than James Brown did.


LIN: It's Saturday night and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome to the NEWSROOM, your connection to the world, the Web, and what's happening right now. I'm Carol Lin. You've been busy today, so let's get you plugged in.

Saddam Hussein has been buried. That is according to an Arab language news network, reporting tonight at the executed former Iraqi president was buried in his hometown of Tikrit. We're working on our own confirmation. There's also a new video recording of his execution spreading across the Internet. You'll see part of it in just a minute.

In the meantime, the presidential casket lies in the United States Capitol Rotunda tonight. A live picture of the casket there. The body of Gerald R. Ford will remain there under around the clock honor guard until Tuesday, the day of his funeral at the National Cathedral.

And here's a quote. "When I saw him move, I was mesmerized. Michael Jackson speaking today about the musical legend who inspired him." Jackson made a rare public appearance to attend the memorial for James Brown. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: I love you so much and thank you for everything. God bless you and I love you.


LIN: So now we want to hear from you. Tonight's last call, tell us your favorite James Brown moment or song. Give us a call at 1-800- 807-2620. And we'll air some of your responses later this hour.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wedge tornado, rapping rain.


LIN: Definitely what you don't want to see headed your way. Texas sized tornadoes, at least two of them slicing a ten mile swathe of damage near Waco on Friday.

Now the twisters uprooted trees and ripped down power lines and collapsed a retired veteran's home. One person was killed.

It was just 24 hours ago, Saddam Hussein walked to the gallows and defiantly met his death. An Arab language network reports he's been buried in his home town of Tikrit.

Now so far, images of Saddam Hussein's death have been limited to two pieces of silent video. That is until now.


LIN (voice-over): The last moments of Saddam Hussein's life. Witnesses described the death chamber as loud, chaotic, filled with chatter and shouting.

We now know that is true. We've seen a new video of the execution, one that's been popping up on several Internet sites. You're about to see it, too.

It was recorded by hand. Clearly not with a professional camera. Probably a cellphone. We don't know who shot it, who released it, or whether the Iraqi government approves. You'll see and hear Hussein's executioners taunting him, chanting support for Shiite cleric Muqtada all Sadr. And a defiant Hussein, repeating their taunts sarcastically. Our translators provided the subtitles.

SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): Prayers be upon the Prophet Mohammed and on his family and glorify the mighty and curse his enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muqtada. Muqtada. Muqtada.

HUSSEIN: Muqtada? Is this how you show your bravery as men?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight to hell. HUSSEIN: Is this the bravery of Arabs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long live Mohammed Baqir Sadr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight to hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please I am begging you not to, the man is being executed.

HUSSEIN: I bear witness that there is no god but god and that Mohammed is the messenger of god. And I bear witness that...

LIN: We stop the video at the precise moment Saddam drops through a trap door beneath his feet. And the rope around his neck tightens. There's a few more seconds of shouting and chanting, and then a close-up of Saddam Hussein's face.


LIN: Haunting. Haunting images. In Dearborn, Michigan, pictures weren't necessary. Word alone of Saddam Hussein's death had people dancing in the streets. The Detroit suburb is home to one of the largest Shiite Muslim populations in the United States. And many there know the dictator's wrath first hand.

CNN's senior correspondent Alan Chernoff with their story.


ALAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours before Saddam's execution, Dearborn's Iraqi-Americans were already partying.

FARAZDAK AL ASADI, IRAQI-AMERICAN: I feel great. You know, this is my dream. You know, when I grew up I wait Saddam's -- he killed my family. And this moment, like I'm so happy.

CHERNOFF: Word that the death sentence had been carried out took the celebration to new heights.

HAIDAR AL FATLAWI, IRAQI-AMERICAN: It's an awesome feeling. Man, it's like a revenge for all the Iraqi people.

CHERNOFF: And the festivities continued Saturday afternoon.

(on camera): Saddam's execution means more than the death of a tyrant to many of these Iraqi-Americans. They say it's personal because family members were either killed or tortured by Saddam's regime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My uncle (INAUDIBLE) he was just married.

CHERNOFF: Hussein al Fatlawy came to the U.S. as a young boy. His Shiite family fleeing Saddam's Sunni regime. Seeing Saddam hang, says al Fatlawy, makes the war all worthwhile.

HUSSEIN AL FATLAWY, IRAQI-AMERICAN: He executed and a trial like that, my uncles, my grandfathers, my cousins for no reason. Just for that.

CHERNOFF: But among Dearborn's Iraqis are a handful like Omar Jasim, who is a Sunni Muslim, as Saddam was. Jasim disapproves of the celebration, arguing Saddam didn't get a fair trial.

OMAR JASIM, SUNNI IRAQI-AMERICAN: Obviously, it was a biased decision to execute him because it was the judgment that was made was wrong.

CHERNOFF: Iraqi Shiites living in Dearborn predict Saddam's death will bring peace to their homeland. But with little agreement over his execution, even here between Shiite and Sunni, chances of a real peace back home seem a very distant hope.

Allen Chernoff, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.


LIN: There was also elation in parts of Iraq after Saddam Hussein's death. In Karbala, heart felt joy, sounds of celebratory gunfire, and the declaration of a new day.

But it was also another violent day. At least 66 people are dead and more than 100 wounded. This footage was just taken just after a car bomb exploded in northwest Baghdad. Other explosions just hours after Hussein's death targeted Kufa, Baghdad, and Talifar in northern Iraq.

Well, President Bush tonight calling the execution a milestone, but prefacing his words with caution. Mr. Bush says, and I'm quoting here, "Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops. Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course..."

And our other big story today, from Eagle Scout to president, people lined the streets of Washington to bid Gerald Ford good-bye.

From solemn to swing. The father of soul has a farewell only his hometown can deliver.

And don't forget our last call. Tell us your favorite James Brown moment or song. Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620 and we'll air some of your responses later this hour.


LIN: Here's what you're checking out on tonight. Two people are still missing after a bomb explosion at Spain's busiest airport this morning. Spain blames the Basque separatist group Atta and says the blast violates a nine-month cease-fire. The bomb detonated inside a van in a parking lot.

Raging seas are hurting rescue efforts tonight in the Java Sea. It's been more than 24 hours since a crowded Indonesian ferry broke apart and sank. And more than 500 people are still missing. So far, only 66 survivors have been rescued.

And Cuban President Fidel Castro hasn't been seen publicly for months, but the state-run media there says he's giving new year's wishes by phone. The report says he calls China's ambassador to Cuba to wish his president a happy new year and discuss relations between the two communist nations.

Visit for details on these stories and a whole bunch more. The NEWSROOM returns in just a moment.


LIN: It's one of the most solemn scenes peppered through American history. The slow procession of a presidential hearse through the streets of the nation's capital.

We witnessed it again this evening. Let's go to CNN's Gary Nurenberg in Washington, where a former U.S. president lies in state. Gary, what was that experience like?

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many people here lined up not knowing how long it would take to get in, but they were allowed after very formal ceremonies.

It capped the end of an evening where Washington paid tribute.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly coast to coast flight over the country he loved, the plane carrying the 38th president of the United States landed at Andrews Air Force Base Saturday evening.

Gerald Ford's family stood on the tarmac, watching as his casket was carried past honorary pall bearers, including Vice President Cheney to the hearse that would drive by landmarks from his life.

Alexandria, Virginia, where the Ford family lived for 19 years before moving to the White House. A brief pause at the World War II Memorial, acknowledgement of his naval service in that war, acknowledgement of his generation. A wave from Mrs. Ford.

THERON NEWSOME, U.S. NAVY (RET.): He would appreciate what happened here tonight. I know his wife did because she was waving to our ladies.

NURENBERG: Eagle Scouts were there. Gerald Ford was one of them. So were women whose lives were changed when he signed legislation opening American military academies to women.

COL. YVONNE CHILLS, U.S. AIR FORCE: This meant a great deal. I was I applied with the first class of women to the United States Air Force Academy. So it opened up a door for me that I didn't know existed before.

NURENBERG: After the pause at the World War II Memorial, the hearse took Mr. Ford to the capitol, where he began his congressional career in 1949.

The former president was taken to the capitol using the entrance to the House of Representatives, where he became Minority Leader. Mrs. Ford standing at the top of those 45 steps, following the casket to the door of the House Chamber, where it casket briefly rested. Mrs. Ford's composure broke before the casket was carried to the rotunda of the capitol, where it was placed on the (INAUDIBLE) that once bore Abraham Lincoln's remains.

Gerald Ford never realized his dream of becoming Speaker of the House, but was eulogized by a Speaker of the House who praised Ford's leadership of a shaken country in the days following Watergate.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: In the summer of 1974, America didn't need a philosopher king, or a warrior prince, an aloof aristocrat, a populous fire brand. We needed a healer. We needed a rock. We needed honesty, and candor, and courage. We needed Gerald Ford.

NURENBERG: Vice President Cheney remembered those days.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: There is a time to every purpose under heaven. And the years of Gerald Rudolph Ford, it was a time to heal. There is also in life a time to part, when those who are dear to us must go their way. And so for now, Mr. President, farewell.

NURENBERG: The chamber was hushed as Mrs. Ford ended the service kneeling at her husband's casket. Friends, officials, and family members filed by before the public was allowed to enter. Many waiting in the December night for their chance to pay tribute.


NURENBERG: Mr. Ford was not that aloof aristocrat or philosopher king that Speaker Hastert said we didn't need in a post Nixon America. He was instead perhaps more than most, really perceived as a man of the people.

And tonight, some of those people have the opportunity to pay their last respects as Mr. Ford lies in state in the United States Capitol. The building will be open Sunday and Monday as well. The former president's funeral, Carol, will be Tuesday at the National Cathedral.

LIN: Gary, thank you very much for bringing us those grand pictures from the day.

Well, presidential homage of a different flavor, but just as heart felt. On the slopes of Vail, Colorado tonight, Gerald R. Ford was a life long skier and made the Vail area a second home after leaving office. He made no secret of his enduring love for Colorado and the people of Vail.

As one local writer put it, Jerry was one of us. A tribute there on the slopes.

Well, still to come, the life and legacy of James Brown.


JAMES BROWN: Time was telling me that you can't stay here. See, I got about another two years and then I'm going to slow down tremendously and do something more constructive and more longer lasting.

I mean, you're going to people year after year in city after city don't really give me what I'm looking for. I want to leave a kind of legacy. And the only you can do that is in print, whether it's film, or print media, newspapers.


LIN: We're remembering the godfather of soul at the bottom of the hour. Stay for a special report.

And don't forget tonight's last call. Share your favorite James Brown moment or song. Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620 and we'll air some of your comments at the end of the program.


LIN: About 25 hours from now, we'll bid farewell to 2006, but will you be awake for the new year? Well, the Opinion Research Corporation asked Americans if they plan to stay up past midnight. 30 percent said they plan to catch up on their sleep. While most, 68 percent, plan to stay awake for the earliest moments of 2007.

So where will you be on midnight? Well, 36 percent say with close family members. 19 percent at a small gathering. Only nine percent plan to be at a large party. And a sad two percent will actually be working at midnight. Some of them are here right now in the room. 30 percent will already be in bed.

And revelers in Times Square will be picking confetti out of their hair for even longer than last year. Organizers say they've added a couple more tons of it to the celebration.

The flame proof notes will be inscribed with words like "peace", "celebrate" and "hope." They'll rain down from 11 buildings, where workers will toss them from boxes by the fistful.

Now don't worry if you haven't made any big party plans. CNN's Anderson Cooper will take you around the world to help you usher in 2007 from the comfort of your couch tomorrow night. All you need are party favors. Here's a preview.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to be a global new year's spectacular, Carol. That's what I'm calling it myself. That's not the official name of it. I'm not sure what the official name is.

But we're doing new years literally around the globe. We're showing how they're celebrating, ringing in the new year in Sydney in Australia, in Moscow, in Paris, in London. And here in American, obviously in New York and Times Square, but also San Antonio in Texas, they've got great street celebration there. We're going to be in Chicago for a big ball. Going to be in Key West, Florida for the drag queen drop, which is an annual tradition down there.

Also in New Orleans, we're going to be ringing in the new year. So really trying to cover it as a news event and show people, you know, multiple celebrations happening all around the world.

LIN: Homeland Security has already come out with saying that there's no reason to fear a terrorist attack. They don't have any reason to believe it's going to be anything but a safe New Year's Eve. What does the security feel like to you sitting there in Times Square?

COOPER: It feels like an incredibly safe place. I mean, every year since I've been doing this, and we've been doing now - I think this is the fourth year, you know, security has been a topic of conversation.

But I got to tell you, it feels like -- Times Square feels like just about the safest place to be. It is highly controlled by the police. They've got this thing down. They've got it cleaned up by like 12:30. The streets are already clean. They've got cleaning crews there. And the crowd are dispersed.

So it's actually - you know, I grew up in a much different New York where Times Square was kind of dirty and seedy. And we kind of liked it that way.

LIN: Dirty and seedy?

COOPER: But - yes, we kind of liked it that way when I was a kid at least. But you know, and I would have never gone to Times Square as a little kid. Back then, you know, there was beer and alcohol and stuff. This is - you know, there's not alcohol consumed in Times Square.

It's a really - it's become a sort of a family event. And it's this remarkable celebration. And particularly that window from like midnight to 12:10 or 12:15, there's really no place like it in the world. I mean, we've all seen the pictures. And everybody singing "New York, New York" and "Auld Lang Sine."

It's an amazing night. And you know, it's why I keep volunteering to cover it, because it's really there's no place else to be.

LIN: And the music that your show is bringing to the audience around the world this year, it's pretty amazing.

COOPER: Amazing, amazing, amazing. We've got like the B-52s, Nelly Furtado. Who else? We got the Goo Goo Dolls. We've got Scissor sisters. We've got Sister Hazel. James Brown was going to be on the show. Sadly, of course, he will not be, but we have a tribute to James Brown. We also got the Killers. LIN: Short of the midnight feeling, what for you makes it so special? Because you've become our Dick Clark really, Anderson.

COOPER: Well...

LIN: I mean, you've become symbolic of, you know, the turning of the new year and how this network certainly starts off.

COOPER: Besides that window, that 10 minute window when, you know, the place erupts and there's confetti and singing, and it really is kind of a special moment, I like seeing the New Years from around the world. I mean, I like seeing how they're ringing it in Moscow.

And we've asked correspondents to actually file pieces to sort of capture that midnight feeling in various spots around the world. So before we even ring in the new year in New York on the East Coast, we're going to be showing it, you know, how they did it around the world.

And it's cool - you know, I just think it's cool to see not only the fireworks, but all the sort of the different local celebrations. You know, Moscow, obviously, you know, they're all drinking vodka for New Year's. Sydney, I'm not quite sure what they're doing, but we're going to find out.

LIN: Probably on a beach, watching a beautiful view of the harbor.

COOPER: Probably.

LIN: Anderson, looking forward to it. Happy New Year.

COOPER: Hey, thanks. You too, Carol.


LIN: Anderson Cooper's New Year's Eve special will be live from New York Times Square. Coverage begins at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

So what is your New Year's resolution? Tell us on camera. You may see yourself on tomorrow night's show. Just log on to

He coined the phrase, "I'm black and I'm proud." James Brown didn't back down from any circumstance.


JAMES BROWN: Nothing's going to work until you stop the violence. And you got to try and take measures on that. You're going to probably have to put people in the street to clean the street for six or eight months, you know. You got to come with something real drastic. And I know nobody wants to take that step.


LIN: More right here from the NEWSROOM.


LIN: Back in the NEWSROOM with your headlines. Anger, joy and to a certain degree fear. Reaction tonight to Saddam Hussein's daybreak execution. The body already buried in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

Meanwhile, Iraqi-Americans celebrate the news, calling the hanging a New Year's gift.

And a presidential farewell. Gerald Ford, his public viewing now underway at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. The body arrived at Andrews Air Force Base earlier tonight.

The hearse later paused in front of the World War II Memorial to mark the former president's service in the Navy. The public viewing continues tomorrow.

Travelers stranded, thousands in the dark, and up to two feet on it is snow on the ground with more on the way. Western Kansas is digging out from under a slow-moving winter storm tonight. The governor has already declared a disaster emergency to quickly get aid to the 39 counties impacted.


LIN (voice-over): It was an amazing day in Augusta, Georgia, as the world said good-bye to the godfather of soul, James Brown.

JESSE JACKSON: On your feet and show your love for James Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God had a Christmas-birthday concert for Jesus on Christmas Day. And you all know James Brown had the headline, right?


LIN: Michael Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, just three people among more than 8,000 who showed up for a soul celebration, a memorial to James Brown.

Joining me now is CNN Entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas in Augusta, Georgia. Sibila, that - it was just an amazing memorial service this afternoon. They called it a coming home service.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And the love just keeps on coming, Carol. Fans are still gathering behind me at a statue that was dedicated to the music man. Thousands gathered earlier, as you said, at the town's James Brown Arena to give the singer a farewell that was definitely fit for a king.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three, four! SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a packed house for James Brown, as more than 8,000 fans came to their feet to pay their final respects to a music legend.

In a golden gasket, Brown took center stage one last time at the arena that shares his name. Billed a home going celebration, gospel, funk, and soul stars came together to pay tribute to their colleague and friend.

Daughter Denise Brown channeled her father's spirit alongside M.C. Hammer. But it was a surprise appearance by Michael Jackson that nearly brought down the house.

AL SHARPTON: Michael came for you today, Mr. Brown.

VARGAS: The king of pop kept it brief and to the point.

MICHAEL Brown, SINGER: James Brown is my greatest inspiration. James Brown, I shall miss you. And I love you so much. And thank you for everything. God bless you. And I love you.


VARGAS: Long time partner Tomi Rae Hynie serenaded her music man.


VARGAS: Then said an emotional good-bye.

Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke about Brown's passion and determination and implored the crowd to pay Brown honor.

JESSE JACKSON: On your feet and show your love for James Brown. Put your hands together. Show your love for his singing, for his dancing, for his message, for his music, for his generosity.

Put your hands together. Put your hands together. Let me hear you scream. Let me hear you scream. Let me hear you scream! Show your love! Let me hear you scream like you really mean it.

VARGAS: And Reverend Al Sharpton, who led the service, summarized the iconic singer's essence.

SHARPTON: James Brown was a man's man. And he stood up like a man. He lived like a man. And on Christmas Day, he died like a man.

VARGAS: There was one last surprise for James Brown, a man who never graduated from high school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hereby bestow on Mr. James Brown, the degree doctor of humane letters, with all rights, privileges, responsibilities thereto appertaining.

VARGAS: A fitting farewell for the man who came to be known as the hardest working man in show business. SHARPTON: Thank you, Mr. Brown. You can get your rest now. We'll never forget you. And we won't let the world forget you. Sleep on. We'll see you in the morning.



VARGAS: There really was a touching tribute to a man who gave so much to the world. The service even included some footage of Brown's last performance. So until the very end, Carol, he was still entertaining his fans.

And I got to tell you, I got to speak to Reverend Al Sharpton. He was just an amazing man. He tells us so much about him in an interview that I had with him. And that's coming up a little later.

LIN: All right, we're going to be sharing a lot of that, Sibila. It was an amazing afternoon. And we want to share even just a little bit more right now. A quick little tease.

Up next, the godfather of soul takes a young preacher under his wing.


SHARPTON: The whole world changed a beat because of James Brown. Rap started from James Brown. Hip hop started from James Brown. Funk started from James Brown. We got on the good foot because of...


LIN: Sibila talked with the man. Remembering more of James Brown next in the NEWSROOM.



M.C. HAMMER, MUSICIAN: When I first saw him, it was a reaction and not a thought. So when I saw him, my body just reacted. My feet started moving. I started doing the mash potatoes right there in my living room. And when he fell down to his knees, I fell down on my knees and -- because I could feel the spirit of the man coming through that television set. And so I put that -- it became a part of me.


LIN: Yes, rapper M.C. Hammer giving a little bit right there at the memorial service, expressing how he was influenced by the godfather of soul and bringing everyone to their feet today.

The Reverend Al Sharpton was among those paying their respects at James Brown memorial in Augusta, Georgia, which drew more than 8,000 people. We go back now to Sibila Vargas in Augusta. Sibila? VARGAS: That's right, Carol. And I sat down with Al Sharpton to talk about the legendary performer. Nobody knew him best than this man, Reverend Al Sharpton. He really influenced so many things about him. And he also told me that he influenced his hair, if you can believe that. It was just amazing. These are some of the things that he had to say about his icon.


VARGAS: You had a long history with James Brown.

SHARPTON: I went through his ups and his downs with him as he did me, but he would always say that I was like his son. I was like Teddy. And I would say he's like my father.

He would tease me and say I'm not your teacher. I don't know civil rights, he says. And you're not in entertainment. I'm like your father. I'm going to teach you how to be a man. And he did.

VARGAS: His music was all about positivity, but yet his personal life, it was tumultuous.

SHARPTON: The genius of James Brown is no matter where he was in his own life, he would project where life should be. He knew how to live in his personal space and then be the public guy to uplift the world at the same time. It was the most amazing thing that you'd ever see.

VARGAS: Let's talk about what he meant for the black community.

SHARPTON: He erased the word 'Negro' from our vocabulary. We were 'Negro' until James Brown said I'm black and I'm proud. It wasn't just a word. It was we were defining ourselves and probably doing it. That's, I think, began this total love that people have for him.

VARGAS: He always remained humbled.

SHARPTON: Always remained humble. He was a tiger in the boardroom. But in the streets, he was gentle as male. I don't care who it was he had time for, which is why I think the people are turning out by the hundreds of thousands like they are. Because he knew -- they know he was their star.

VARGAS: What do you think James Brown is thinking right now as he sees the number of people that have come to show their respect?

SHARPTON: I think he's humbled and I think at the same time he's vindicated. Because he always told us I'm going to make more impact than even you all think.

And it's funny. I rode all night (INAUDIBLE) to New York. And I told the funeral director when we got to New York and saw the lines. I said, I looked at the casket and I said, well, Mr. Brown, I told you we're going to have the lines one more time. They lined up. And Mr. Reed, the funeral director said, yes, I guess you waited 14, 15 hours of this ride to tell him that. I said yes, but you didn't hear what he answered back.

He said what did he say? I said I told you, reverend. I told you. Why do you keep doubting I'm going to draw the lines. If there's anybody that knew the world would take notice of his leaving, it was James Brown. He always had more confidence in himself than any of us did.


VARGAS: Now when I asked Sharpton where James Brown found that confidence, he told me that Brown believed in God, but that even as important, Brown believed that God believed in him. And he told me also, Carol, that it didn't matter whether he was talking to a president, or whether he was talking to the man on the street, that he was always the same man. He did not compromise his character in any way.

LIN: Right, that he sang and he danced for the people, the common people as Al Sharpton said. He was every man.


LIN: Sibila, amazing.

VARGAS: He was.

LIN: You know, his swagger and his sway. The godfather of soul reached across the sections of the country. Wherever he was, there was usually something to celebrate. More on his life, legacy, and hometown when we come back.



BOOTSY COLLINS, FORMER JAMES BROWN BANDMATE: He really inspired me. And not only me, I think he inspired a lot of -- a lot of artists, a lot of just people. Normal people. You know, because some of the things that he would say. I don't want nobody to give me nothing. I'll get it myself. You don't have to be no singer to get that. You know, that's some powerful stuff.


LIN: That was performer Bootsy Collins, giving tribute to one of his biggest influences, James Brown.

CNN's Sibila Vargas attended Brown's memorial in Augusta, Georgia, where - which actually drew the likes of Michael Jackson to the small southern town, Sibila.

VARGAS: That's right. It was pretty amazing. I mean, the turnout was fantastic. More than 8,000 showed up. Some people had to be turned away. They were trying to get in, but everyone was peaceful about it. They knew they were there to just give - you know, tribute, pay tribute to the iconic legend. It was just amazing. I got to tell you, doing this story and learning so much about James Brown. You know, not my generation, but I knew who the man was. But to think that he impacted so much, so much in the music industry and also the people here in Augusta, Georgia. They really loved him.

LIN: Oh, yes, absolutely. And you're standing in front of the James Brown statue. Talk to us about his hometown city of Augusta.

VARGAS: Well, you know, he came to move out here about four years old. And he lived with his aunt. And the man was abandoned when he was young. His mother left and then his father couldn't take care of him.

But Augusta adopted him. And he adopted Augusta. Augusta, Georgia, I mean like I said, there's people behind me. They're still kind of here to just pay tribute to him. He was just a man -- I spoke to so many people. And they said that they felt like he was really a father to them. I can't even tell you how many stories - personal stories that I got from people who actually met him. And that was because he would come to town all the time.

He would come for his annual toy drive. In fact, three days before he passed away, he was here giving out toys to children, to thousands of children.

And one thing that they told me about James Brown, that he wanted to do it personally. It was very important for him to have that connection.

And like I said, whether he was talking to a president, or whether he was talking to a common man, he was the same man. But again, he loved his town of Augusta, Georgia. That's for sure.

LIN: And they sure love him. Sibila, what a party today. It really was.

You can watch more of the James Brown memorial later tonight at 2:00 a.m. Eastern if you're staying up, and again at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Sunday morning in case you're getting up early.

But now it's time to hear your responses to our last call question. Share your favorite James Brown moment or song. And this is what you had to say.

CALLER: Hi, I'm Keisha from Texas. And one of my favorite James Brown moments was at the 2005 BET Awards when he performed with Michael Jackson. Two legends. It was just phenomenal for the world to see.

CALLER: Julie Jackson from Warren, Ohio. I'm black and I'm proud was my - is my favorite James Brown song.

CALLER: My name is Pam Katown (ph). I'm calling from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And my favorite James Brown song was "Funky President." He really knew how to jam it.

CALLER: My favorite song is "I Feel Good." And I'm Krista Vixen in New York City.

CALLER: Jamie Lopez, Glastenbury (ph), Connecticut. I had the privilege of backing up James Brown for one song. The song was called "Sex Machine," a small paradise in Harlem.

CALLER: My name is (INAUDIBLE) Jefferson. And I live in Darlington, South Carolina. My favorite song from James Brown is "Try Me."

LIN: What a great tribute to James Brown, the godfather of soul.

Now stay tuned to CNN, we'll have complete highlights from the James Brown funeral in just a few hours.

As you might now, this is my last night here on the CNN anchor desk. And I'd like to share some final thoughts with you in just a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now for the unscripted part of the newscast. Tonight is Carol Lin's last night on the anchor set. And from CNN B control, we'd like to say thank you for eight years on the anchor set, five years on the weekend. Here's a look back at your wonderful career here.

LIN: Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM, your connection to the world, the Web, and what's happening right now. I'm Carol Lin. You've been busy today so let's get you plugged in.

The worst of the devastation can be seen in northwestern Nicaragua. A crater lake overflowed the side of a volcano to collapse and bury several villages.

Angry ethnic Albanians try once again to get to their homes on the other side of Ditravitsa (ph). And once again, French K-4 peacekeepers pushed them back.

I'm Carol Lin in what is left of a classroom in Parisha, Kosovo. And this is what much of the public school system looks like in this province, but they're about to rebuild.

Much of this weather slowing down some of the candidates today, including one, Steve Forbes who came into New Hampshire after a second place in the Iowa Republican caucus, making his way to our studio through a snowstorm. We're so happy to see you this morning. Finally made it here to the studio.

STEVE FORBES: Nice to be here.

LIN: This just in. You're looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center.

We've come across so many stories of parents who had to make a dreadful choice, to flee from the hurricane or to stay by the side of a hospitalized child who was deathly ill. CALLER: What is so funny about "N" word? You use it in comedy routines...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's funny...

LIN: What's funny about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's funny because it conjures up demons. That's why I like it.

LIN: But it is a demon. So why did you decide to do this movie?

PAUL NEWMAN, ACTOR: Well, I think the film has a nice message.


LIN: Oh, wow, that's the first time I've seen that. One of the great writers on my team gave me a card tonight with a photo of a ladder reaching for the heavens. And it reads "And the dreamer began to climb."

Nearly four years ago, I just wanted a good war to cover and a chance to tell your story. Well, be careful for what you wish for. I had Kosovo, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and 9/11.

And then there was the unexpected battle and the one that I lost. My husband's cancer.

So many people have asked me what's next? Well, one of projects is a blog book that will serve as an online investigation into our healthcare system. Who gets the cures and who doesn't and the heroes who held our hands.

I hope you're going to Google my name on Valentine's Day. What a great way to celebrate love. To those doctors and nurses and my family, my CNN family, and the Third Street gang out there, a deep and heart felt thank you.

But there's still more stories to tell. A check of the hour's headlines after the break. CNN, the most trusted name in news.