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American Morning

Red Cross Calls for Israel to Allow More Humanitarian Aid in Gaza; Obama Fills CIA, National Intelligence Posts; N.Y. Prosecutors Want Madoff Behind Bars Until Trial; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Discusses Challenges of Quitting Smoking

Aired January 06, 2009 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: More calls today for Israel to allow even more humanitarian aid into Gaza. The international Red Cross calls the situation a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Well, he's never been a spy and he's never worked in the Intelligence field, but Leon Panetta is Barack Obama's choice to run the CIA. Panetta is a former congressman. He also served as chief of staff in the Clinton White House. Democratic sources also say that President-elect Obama has tapped retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.

Prosecutors in New York want accused Wall Street's swindler Bernard Madoff behind bars until his trial on charges that he scammed investors out of $50 billion in a Ponzi scheme. They claim that Madoff violated his bail agreement by mailing about a million dollars worth of jewelry and other assets to relative. Madoff's attorneys claim that the items were, quote, "heirlooms", not significant asset, and that Madoff is not a flight risk.

Well, returning now to our breaking news in the Middle East. And you can see columns of thick smoke rising over Gaza. Israel taking aim at Hamas. Troops and tanks surrounding Gaza City right now, but unfortunately civilians getting caught in the cross-fire this morning. A United Nations elementary school came under attack. So far more than 550 Palestinians have been killed.

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Jerusalem. Anderson Cooper is on the Israeli-Gaza border.

And Anderson, let's start with you. The situation at this Asma Elementary School in Gaza City a direct hit, at least that's what the director of the U.N. program is claiming this morning. What are you hearing about what happened?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yes, this was a school where a number of people had actually sought refuge. The school had given GPS coordinates, two Israeli defense forces. So why an air strike took place at this school is not at this point known. Israel isn't really commenting on it, but three Palestinians are known to have been killed in that strike.

But, clearly, this is an indication of just the intense nature of the fighting that is taking place. We've been hearing just over the last 40 minutes or so, increased number of strikes over my shoulder. Actually, one just went off right there.

At this point, Israel is saying that in the last four days of this ground operation, they have killed more than 130 Hamas militants. They also said that they have captured anywhere -- numbers differ from 70 to 100 Hamas militants, but we can't independently confirm that.

A number of those militants have been taken in for further questioning. There's also eyewitness accounts further south in Gaza around Khan Yunis. The Israeli forces are on the move there.

Essentially, as we've been saying over the last several days, though, Gaza has been cut in two that they move further south, though. They could try to cut it off into smaller pieces as well. It's all an attempt to stop some of the smuggling of Hamas rockets from these underground tunnels from Egypt. That is one of the biggest targets that Israel has been hitting, trying to strike at these tunnels. And Israel has made very clear that in any peace negotiations, in any cease-fire negotiations that ultimately take place, and ultimately some sort of negotiations will have to take place. The status of these tunnels is going to be a key point.

But at this point, diplomatic efforts have not born fruit. They are still underway. High level talks are under way. Christiane, we'll talk about that in a moment. But at this point, the battle is still raging especially around Gaza City and areas around it.

CHETRY: Anderson, thank you for that. Let's bring in Christiane right now, who is at our Jerusalem Bureau.

You know, Israel says that, you know, its intentions certainly is not to harm civilians but that Hamas basically operates in the midst of civilians and this is the type of thing that happens. And of course, the pressure, when we hear about things like is increased from the international community on Israel to stop the fighting. What's going on right now with that?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Well, I mean, clearly, Hamas is in areas that are densely populated, and there are many who believe that they are actually, because of the very nature of that terrain there, hiding in and out of those populated areas, which of course puts civilians under direct threat.

But, on the other hand, there are also situations where more care could be taken. For instance, this U.N. elementary school where the coordinates were given well before the fighting began. So there's a bit of an element of both going on there, and at the same time, these civilian casualties putting increasing pressure on Israel.

Now, we spoke to Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, who has been re-negotiating and talking and trying to be a broker between Israeli leaders, talking to the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the actual players here, the Palestinian authority and Egypt.

The idea is for Israel to feel that it has achieved something tangible from these ten days of air and ground assault on Gaza. And that would be to see whether they could close down the cash and weapon smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. If that could be achieved then a cease-fire could be achieved according to what Tony Blair told us. And if it can't be achieved, then this is going to go on for some more time.

But Israel making it plain that it needs to have something to show for what's been going on. Plus, it wants to significantly degrade the capacity and the motivation of Hamas to fire rockets into Israel. And of course, today, despite the ongoing air strikes, despite the ground offensive, Hamas did, again, send rockets into Israel, and this time, one came the furthest inside Israel that it has yet. A small child of 3 months old was slightly wounded. So this is going to go on until Israeli has, quote, "something" to show for it, and that is to close down those smuggling routes -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Christiane Amanpour for us in the Jerusalem Bureau this morning. And Anderson Cooper there along the Gaza-Israel border. Thanks to both of you.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Barack Obama is pushing his massive $775 billion stimulus plan this week. 40 percent of that would go into tax cuts. It's big, it's bold and it could be in your pocket soon. But as our Christine Romans reports, there could be ramifications later on.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, John, it's an emergency stimulus that will, without a doubt, explode the budget deficit and add to a staggering national debt. But ask just about anyone, and they'll tell you there's no other choice.


ROMANS (voice-over): The President-elect and Congress must act quickly and spend big to rescue the economy.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The situation is getting worse. We've got to act boldly and we've got to act swiftly. We cannot delay.

ROMANS: Tax cuts, about 40 percent of this evolving emergency stimulus. $300 billion worth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tax cuts in the first two years would be larger than the tax cuts in either of the first two years of the major Bush tax cuts.

ROMANS: A $500 individual tax credit. A thousand dollars for couples. Not rebates like the checks taxpayers got last year, but maybe money in your pocket immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama team is looking very hard at putting it into people's paychecks right away. By our estimate it suggests that about $25 per paycheck for each worker. And the reason for that is it gets into the economy much faster. ROMANS: Businesses would also see huge tax relief. Small businesses would have more generous provisions to write off their losses. Also, new tax credits for hiring new workers or for not laying them off. The idea instant money to credit-starve companies so they can grow and hopefully create jobs. Business breaks may help bring Republicans on board. But economists caution there must be an exit strategy from this spree of tax cutting and big spending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we need to cut taxes to stimulate the economy, but as soon as the economy turns around, we're going to be facing a massive long-term budget shortfall that will have to be addressed at that point.

ROMANS: At that point, a very big bill comes due.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very clear, doing a package of this size in the range of roughly $1 trillion with an already growing budget deficit and the retirement of the baby boomers is going to lead to tax increases in the next two years.


ROMANS: For now, it's important to get the economy back on track. To counter this crisis, President-elect Obama is expanding on his tax cut promises from the campaign. How to pay for it, that comes later. John? Kiran?

CHETRY: Christine Romans for us this morning, thanks.

And we're continuing to follow breaking news out of the Middle East. Right now, the fighting is furious. Casualties are mounting. And still to come, we're going to take you inside of Gaza's hospitals now struggling to cope.

Welcome to the neighborhood. Barack Obama's new neighbors can't wait for a peek at the First Family.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hoping that maybe when he comes, we'll just see a finger or a glance.


CHETRY: We found the hotspots where the president-elect could do lunch, pray or just hang out with his little girls.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any arugula in any of your restaurants?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have arugula in all of my restaurants.


CHETRY: You're watching the Most News in the Morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

By every measure, 2008 was one of the worst years on record for Detroit automakers Ford and GM. Say the December sales were down 30 percent. Chrysler reporting its sales fell by more than half last month. Chrysler also said it sold 30 percent fewer vehicles in 2008 than it did the year before.

ROBERTS: Well, Hyundai is offering buyers a way out. The South Korean automaker says people who finance or lease a new Hyundai during the next 12 months can return the car if they, quote, "experience" an involuntary loss of income within one year of the purchase date. Basically, if you lose your job, you can take the car back. Hyundai said it would absorb as much as $7500 of negative equity. But customers who pay cash for their vehicle do not qualify for the program. So that's how you can get some of your money back from Hyundai now.


ROBERTS: Ali Velshi here "Minding Your Business" --

VELSHI: That's some tip.

ROBERTS: With more tips on how to give me my money back. That's right. That's the name of my new book, and I wanted to share it with people. It's an easy read, and I wanted to explain that this is based on phone calls and e-mails that we've gotten from people about what they don't understand about the markets or their own portfolios. People who are otherwise smart in their lives. You got to spend a few hours dealing with your money. But the number one thing you have to do -- I discussed this yesterday -- before you invest is to understand your risk profile.

You can be anywhere from ultra high risk if you're young and have all the time in the world to ultra low risk if you're in retirement. In the book -- I pulled this right out of the book, and I want to show it to you on TV right now. It's a risk tolerance test. You can go to and take the test. And basically it's a number of questions. The first one -- this is Hussein, my producer, doing it.

You know you're answering questions about your age. What portfolio is right for you? How much time do you have until retirement? How would you tolerate various market losses in a particular period of time? It's just seven questions. It asks you things like if the stock market performs unusually poorly over the next decade, what would happen to your portfolio. And I give you five options in each one. Once you do all five of them, you hit the submit button and it should come up with a portfolio that is designed to match your risk tolerance. And I've got five portfolios.

Pretty much everybody falls into one of those five categories, from very high risk all the way to very low risk. And it's the kind of thing that once you've done, you know, you've read it, you've gone through the risk tolerance test. I wouldn't do it just based on what you see on the Internet there. But you do it. You can go right to your 401(k) or your IRA, and you can change your portfolio mix to reflect exactly what you should be investing in.

And so what happens next is that you get a pie chart. So that's what Hussein's pie chart should look like. It's got eight different asset groups and it tells you the percentages that each one should be in. You then go to your 401(k) and you look at it and say, all right, I want large cap U.S. stocks fund. What have I got in my 401(k) that matches that? And that's the first step in getting your money back in the markets.

ROBERTS: Wow. I didn't know that you knew so much about the Internet and you know were such a Webmiester (ph), (INAUDIBLE).


VELSHI: Stealth. You like to under promise and over deliver.

ROBERTS: It's great stuff.


ROBERTS: What's the guarantee on investment here?

VELSHI: Well, what I will tell you --


ROBERTS: My portfolio according to your calculations --


VELSHI: In the book, you get these little pie charts and at the bottom here it says based on historical averages this portfolio has an expected annual rate of return of 11.5 percent. No guarantee -- there's never a guarantee about what's going to happen. We'll tell you over history how well it's done.

ROBERTS: Dude, you're the man. Excellent.

VELSHI: There we go.

ROBERTS: Thank you for being with us.

VELSHI: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: It's great to see you.

VELSHI: All right. You, too.

CHETRY: Well, he's going to be president in just 14 days. But still Barack Obama and his family are new in town. And we're going to help them get to know their new D.C. neighborhood. Also when Barack Obama rides through the streets on his way to his history-making inaugural, how will he be protected? It may look like he's riding in a limo, really though, it's a fortress on wheels. Why the new first car is being called "The Beast". It's 15 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Well, these are happy days for the Obamas. They are beginning a new life in Washington and preparing for an historic inauguration just two weeks from now. As the president-elect and his family settle into their new D.C. neighborhood, CNN's Jim Acosta looks at some of the neighborhood hot spots for the soon-to-be First Family. He's live in Washington.

And maybe they should be watching right now, because you have some good advice for them about restaurants and other things.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're like a Zagat for the Obama family.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ACOSTA: If only they had time to take in the new sights in this town. But he may have just moved in to his new hometown, but Barack Obama does have options if he feels like stretching his legs in getting to know the new neighborhood.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The Kelly family just had to take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know you're on the cusp. It's coming. Whatever way it's going to turn out, it's just beginning.

ACOSTA: They're just a few of the Obama onlookers outside the temporary residence of the next first family, the Hay-Adams Hotel.

DANIELLE LATIMORE, LOCAL WORKER: Hoping that maybe when he comes, we'll just see a finger or a glance.

ACOSTA: That's enough for you.

LATIMORE: That's enough.

ACOSTA: While he's waiting to check into the Oval Office, Mr. Obama may want to check out The Oval Room, a D.C. power restaurant, one block from the White House. Owner Ashok Bajaj has welcomed Presidents Clinton and Bush senior.

ASHOK BAJAJ, OWNER, THE OVAL ROOM: Security arrived four, five hours before and, you know, they secured the street. They secured the entrances of the restaurants.

ACOSTA: It's no simple thing.

BAJAJ: No. There's no simple thing, but it's a lot of fun. You know, when the president comes to your restaurant, it's a great honor.

ACOSTA: He says he's ready for change. And apparently he's a big fan of arugula.


ACOSTA: Do you have any arugula at your restaurants?

BAJAJ: We have arugula in all of my restaurants.

ACOSTA: For a place to reflect on the nation's struggles, St. John's Episcopal Church is just steps away. Franklin Roosevelt prayed here before his first inauguration, and church leaders say Abraham Lincoln secretly worshipped in the sanctuary, ducking in and out during services. Like those presidents, Mr. Obama may not have much time on his social calendar.

OBAMA: Because the people's business can't wait.

ACOSTA: And unlike most presidents, he has little kids.

SALLY QUINN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": People have to realize that they have these two young children that they want to get them acclimated.

ACOSTA: When the Obamas do venture out, Washington writer and socialite Sally Quinn believes they will see a different side of the city.

QUINN: One of the things that's interesting is that Washington is a largely black community, and no president I know of has ever actually gotten involved in that part of the community.


ACOSTA: And the president's schedule is already filling up fast. Just this week, he is slated to meet with former presidents at the White House and deliver a major speech on the economy. Good thing he's got room service. Kiran, he is going to need it.

CHETRY: Exactly. Now, what about some fun stuff for the girls to do? You know, the two little girls in Washington. Hopefully, they'll be able to find some activities.

ACOSTA: Well, there is that park right across from the White House -- Lafayette Park. Unfortunately, there's a lot of construction going on there right now for daddy's inaugural. So, they can't go there but there are lots of museums, lots of places to go. Some good deep dish Chicago pizza at Armand's Pizza. I grew up outside Washington, D.C.

CHETRY: I remember Armand's well.

ACOSTA: I can personally say -- you know it well.

CHETRY: And then, there is always the astronaut ice cream at the Air and Space Museum, always a blast as well.

ACOSTA: That's right. And the zoo is free. So, you know, there's lots to take in.

CHETRY: Jim Acosta for us, thanks.

ACOSTA: You got it.

ROBERTS: Showdown in the Senate. Defiant Roland Burris says he's not going anywhere. We're live as he shows up to take what he calls his rightful place.

And the "Ragin' Cajun" James Carville live, making some political predictions for 2009. Why he says the party he loves could see more scandal. Twenty-one and a half minutes now after the hour.


ROBERTS: First, the Illinois governor and his list of problems, now, New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson giving back an invitation to join the Obama administration. And my next guest is making more painful predictions for the Democratic Party in 2009.

Joining us now, CNN political contributor James Carville.

You're a prescient man, Mr. Carville. On Friday, you predicted that the Rob Blagojevich thing was just a tip of the iceberg, that there was a lot underneath the seat. A couple of days later, Bill Richardson says I've got to pull out. What else is going on?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know I said mathematicians say that (INAUDIBLE) streaks don't count, meaning that the next event has nothing to do with the last event. And I said, you know, Bob, crap shooters and political consultants don't believe that. We believe things come in streaks.

ROBERTS: And you're both, right?

CARVILLE: Yes, I'm both. I'm both. And -- you know, there's a lot more Democrats, so there's a lot more opportunity for shenanigans. I don't think it's going to be awful or anything like that. But I think the Republicans had a streak of scandals and I think we're probably in the middle of one of our streaks right now.

ROBERTS: Anything out there looming that you kind of think that's going under?

CARVILLE: I don't know. There's always something looming. Anytime you have human beings, you have potential problems. And the thing is there are many more Democrats in power now than there were two years ago. So, the odds go up. I guess I'm just playing the percentages here.

But I think that -- look, the administration, I mean, I don't think it's going to like -- they're totally above board, which is a really good place to start. And, you know, these things run in cycles, and I think we're probably in the middle of a little cycle now.

ROBERTS: We're going to see a lot of new members of Congress sworn in today as the new Congress takes its seat. Roland Burris will be among them, the senator-designate, the appointed senator from the great state of Illinois. What do you think is going to happen here, James? Will he be sworn in? What about this potential compromise -- yes, let him have the seat until 2010 if he promises not to run?

CARVILLE: Look, let's be honest, we've got a well of a mess here. I mean, with Blagojevich, if the guy had anything, he should have resigned. I know, he's -- let me say this up front, he's innocent until he's proven guilty. But this whole thing is -- it doesn't look good.

They're going to resolve it some kind of way. And then the resolution is going to be criticized. I mean, there's not a lot of good options. The best thing to do is get some kind of resolution, figure this thing out and move on to the next story. This is not a good story.

ROBERTS: Do you expect he will or won't be seated today? Because the Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson says, hey, his appointment -- the certificate of appointment -- has not been co- signed by Illinois secretary of state. That has to happen before he can be sworn in.

CARVILLE: You know, I don't know about today. But, you know, and I guess somebody would ask the question -- does the secretary of state have veto power over the governor's appointment? It's a legal question. You have to ask Jeffrey Toobin who knows about these things much more than I do.

My sense in politics is I can't tell you if it gets resolved today but they're not going to have a side show like that to go on much longer than a day. They'll resolve it. Then, somebody will get criticized for it. And some other big story will come and we'll move on to that.

ROBERTS: Leon Panetta, a guy, you know, former congressman, former White House chief of staff heads up the Panetta organization up there on the West Coast. Should he be the director of the CIA?

CARVILLE: Sure. First of all, he is probably the finest citizen in this country. I was actually before thought that Al Gore should have picked him as his vice president in 2000. So if I thought he could be vice president.

ROBERTS: So, you don't agree with Dianne Feinstein?

CARVILLE: Well, I -- maybe they could have done a better job of him. For Senator Feinstein -- I think it's a very legitimate position to take that you need an intelligence professional. But I think what Leon brings is he has certainly a background in intelligence and he's just a person -- he's just such a good citizen. I can't imagine that he would do a bang-up job. Now, he's got to do some repair work on The Hill, but, you know, that's part of Washington. You have to do that.

And by the way, who's to say that, you know, the CIA professionals, they've had their share like professionals everywhere, you know, their share of botching things up. Maybe somebody from outside would be good for them.

ROBERTS: History would agree with you. James, it's great to see you. Exciting couple of weeks ahead.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it.

ROBERTS: We'll be following it all with you. Thanks very much.


CHETRY: All right. It's 27-1/2 minutes past the hour. A look at the top stories this morning.

President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Leon Panetta to run the CIA, as we just heard James talking about, raising some eyebrows in Washington. Panetta has no hands-on intelligence experience. He is a former congressman and served as chief of staff in the Clinton White House. Mr. Obama has also tapped retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of National Intelligence.

John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston are expected to return to Florida today with their son's ashes. Officials at a funeral home in the Bahamas say Jett Travolta's body showed no sign of head trauma. According to the death certificate, he died from a seizure.

ROBERTS: Updating you now on breaking news in the situation on the ground in Gaza becoming more dangerous now. We've got some live pictures looking at Gaza at the moment. The smoke -- please get these pictures up -- rising as Israel continues its relentless air and artillery pounding.

What you're looking at is a picture of Beit Lahia, which is just over the border between Israel and Gaza. It's just on the northern outskirts there of Gaza City. Unfortunately, we lost the picture there. All of this aimed at destroying Hamas and its ability to fire rockets into southern Israel.

There's also a growing humanitarian concern in Gaza as the numbers of dead and injured pile up at overwhelmed hospitals. Here's CNN's Christiane Amanpour with more on that. And we want to warn viewers, this piece contains graphic images that some of you may find very disturbing.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ambulances pull up around the clock at Gaza's main Shifa Hospital off-loading their casualties. Today and over the weekend, many of them have been the very young.

Norwegian doctor Erik Foss (ph), who is volunteering at Shifa, says that in the past 24 hours, he's seen more women and children among the casualties than on any other day since the Israeli offensive began. He says most of the injured men he is seeing are civilians.

"We were hit with a rocket, here's my brother," says this little boy, as his brother wanders dazed and nursing an injury to his ear.

Another child sheds tears nearby.

A Palestinian doctor at Shifa Hospital says that when the Israeli air strikes began last week, the first casualties they saw were fighters in a military uniform. But after that day, until this day, he says, "We didn't receive any men from the resistance or anyone in the military. All of them were civilians."

It's not clear whether Hamas, dead and wounded, are being taken to a different hospital. The Israeli government claims that Hamas are hiding fighters and weapons at hospitals. But on this day, here in Sheeba's emergency ward, the images are heartbreaking.

A young girl moans for her mother as she lies in pain. Doctors trying to treat her injured limb. While a woman wails, "Where are our leaders? Can they have mercy on our children? All the dead are just lying around."

This injured mother weeps for her 6-month-old baby. She says that he died after four days without food or water. A nurse trying to set up an IV in another ward says that they are treating five people from one family alone.

Amid the chaos and the confusion and the shortages of medicine, electricity, and water, the stench of death hovers. The morgue is overflowing. Two bodies now crammed into each drawer. Not even the very youngest are immune shoved into refrigerated storage until they can be claimed and buried.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Jerusalem.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So we just saw some of those very disturbing pictures.

Another dire warning is also coming out this morning. The International Red Cross saying there's a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Joining me now from Jerusalem is spokesman, Israeli Foreign -- of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yigal Palmor.

Thank you for joining us this morning. I know that it's difficult for everybody to see these pictures and this type of civilian casualties, and the suffering is not your intent, but what do you think when you see those pictures -- and you see those mothers crying for their children that are laying in hospitals, some of them dead and others who can't get access to even basic necessities?

YIGAL PALMOR, SPOKESMAN ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: Well, these are horrible pictures. There's no doubt. When I see this, personally, it tears my heart. No one can remain indifferent in front of such pictures, that's obvious.

But if we want to take this conversation to a political level, one has to say what is happening on the ground and what is happening on the ground is that Hamas has been systemically taking civilians as human shields.

This is a method used by Hamas and this is a method in which Hamas takes great pride. You can see it in all Hamas publications. You can hear it in all Hamas official speeches. They are now preventing people from fleeing the combat zone. They want to keep them inside.

They have exerted enormous pressures on hospitals and on humanitarian organizations. They are taking, stashing away part of the humanitarian aid and selling it on the black market or keeping it for themselves. They're hiding weapons and gunmen in the hospitals and they've replaced hospital staffs and doctors over the year with Hamas loyalists, with Hamas members.

All the doctors who were loyal to the Fatahs, who were members, who were affiliated with Fatah were expelled to be replaced by exclusively Hamas members of doctors and staffs.

So we really have an iron hand control of the humanitarian situation there by Hamas and politically, I have no doubt that beyond the truth of the images, the truth of the pictures which we see, there is a clear will to manipulate and to hide the stark realities of Hamas, of Hamas gun dictatorship.

CHETRY: And let me ask you about this situation, though, because when things like what happened today, at least according to the United Nations, Israel -- an Israeli missile hit a school, Osma Elementary School in Gaza City.

They say that the school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation that refugees had gone there to seek shelter and that three men were killed.

Do you know anything about that and what happened in that situation?

PALMOR: We're looking into that information. We have no information about any sort of similar incident or skirmish taking place in that vicinity, so we don't know anything about a specific incidence so far.

But I will say this, we have seen in the past Hamas shoot rockets from within schools, from within the playground of the school or from the roof of the school or from, from the immediate vicinity of the school. This has been taped...

CHETRY: No, I understand.

PALMOR: ... and these things are available on the Internet. This is...

CHETRY: I understand. Just quickly before --

PALMOR: This has been a Hamas method. But on that specific incident, I have no information. Sure.

CHETRY: What is the objective now for Israel or what is -- the extent of the progress in terms of trying to stop the rocket fire and in terms of trying to stop the smuggling routes?

PALMOR: The objective is still the same. Restore security and bring back normal life through the south of Israel, which will immediately entail restoration of security and normal life for Palestinians in Gaza.

We are engaged in discussions parallel to the advance of the thrust forward of troops on the ground. We're engaged in discussions with several international actors who have made concrete suggestions and concrete plans on how to bring about a durable and sustainable cease-fire which will prevent Hamas from renewing the shootings and the attacks and which will prevent Hamas to rearm -- from rearming itself and launching a second round.

CHETRY: Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem this morning, thank you.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Beauty and the beast.

KEN LUCCI, AMBASSADOR LIMO: It's a rolling tank with windows.

ROBERTS: A sneak peek at the president-elect's luxury new ride and the muscle it's packing inside.

LUCCI: That door probably weighs as much as a 757 aircraft door and the inside of that cab is as sealed as a jet plane.

ROBERTS: Forget horse-drawn carriages and convertibles. Shifting security into overdrive for the new first car.

You're watching the most news in the morning.



CHETRY: It's 39 minutes past the hour. Time to fast forward to see what stories will be making news later today.

The 111th Congress will be convening at noon under highly unusual circumstances when the gavel comes down on the Senate. Only 98 of the 100 seats will be filled. That's because of a legal challenge to Al Franken's Senate win in Minnesota and to Roland Burris's appointment in Illinois.

And Vice President-elect Joe Biden is in Washington as well. He'll be sworn in as a senator at noon. That's because he's not giving up his seat until the inauguration.

And the union representing Alaska's state troopers backing off allegations of political meddling in a drug case involving Sherri Johnston. She is the mother of Bristol Palin's fiance.

The "Anchorage Daily News" reporting officials found no evidence the investigation was delayed to shield Governor Sarah Palin during the presidential campaign.

Sherri Johnston was arrested last month pleading not guilty to charges of selling the prescription painkiller Oxycontin.


ROBERTS: Exactly two weeks now until Barack Obama takes the oath of office. In presidential years, though, that could feel like a month.

Some new research suggests that Oval Office stress can really accelerate the graying process for presidents of the United States.

Our Alina Cho joins us now. We've heard...



ROBERTS: We've heard of human years versus dog years. You know, it's seven dog years for every human year. It's a similar process.

CHO: It is. There's a fascinating formula, John.

Good morning, everybody. You know, U.S. presidents seem to age right before our eyes. It's really remarkable. There is the stress of it all, of course, a few real confidants, and all of those state dinners, not exactly healthy food. A lot of factors. And according to one doctor, for every year of president serves in office, he ages two years.


CHO (voice-over): Barack Obama is about to become leader of the free world. But that job comes with a hefty price.

DR. MICHAEL ROIZEN, CHIEF WELLNESS OFFICER, CLEVELAND CLINIC: The typical person who lives one year ages one year. The typical president ages two years for every year they're in office.

CHO: Two years for every year as president? Dr. Michael Roizen, best-selling author, has studied the relationship between stress and aging -- particularly in presidents.

ROIZEN: You're alone and you're relatively isolated so you don't see any poker games in the White House. Everything is formal, everything is on the record. CHO: Take Bill Clinton. Good habit, running. Bad one, fast food. One thing that changed -- the stress. And eight years later, it showed.

Despite 9/11, Roizen says George W. Bush fared well during his first term but made up for it in his second. A troubled war and economy, bad poll numbers have taken a toll. Yet some say gray hair or not, Bush is nothing, if not fit.

DAVID ZINCZENKO, MEN'S HEALTH MAGAZINE: I mean, did you see him dodge that shoe?

CHO: So how will Barack Obama fare? The admitted gym rat is also a foodie, and the cover story of "Men's Health" magazine.

ZINCZENKO: This is not a broccoli-shunning, pork-rein eating, McDonald's popping into guy.

CHO: Another point in his favor, besides the basketball, the president-elect is known to be calm. No drama Obama.

ZINCZENKO: He's better suited than any former president, than any predecessor to weather it emotionally and physically.

CHO (on camera): But there's only so much you can do.

ZINCZENKO: I know, I know.


ZINCZENKO: And if the worse, and if the worse that happens is your hair goes a little gray, so be it.


CHO: That's not so bad, right? The price you pay for being president.

Now why do presidents age so much? Well, no surprise. Stress is said to be the number one factor, diet is next. And interestingly enough, the number three factor is the loss of friends.

When you become president, friendships do change because everything is on the record. And remember, Obama probably won't be able to use his BlackBerry when he's in office. There's that isolation factor.

So Dr. Roizen says -- his advice to Obama is try to keep your basketball buddies. You're not just going to work out, you want to be able to vent when you're stressed out, too.

But another thing that the doctor told me, you guys have any guesses on what the most stressful job it is?

ROBERTS: What, besides being president?

CHO: Just -- yes. One of the most stressful jobs.

ROBERTS: I think emergency room physician, police officer, firefighter.


CHETRY: What about people who have to evict or collect from people.

CHO: He said TV hosts.


CHO: And I asked him why. I swear, I asked him why. He said there's a constant fear of losing your job.


CHO: And then he said the least stressful job, successful small business owners.

ROBERTS: Really?

CHO: You control your own destiny.

ROBERTS: Goodness, you would think it would be the other way around, although I do have a lot of gray hair, I have to say.

CHO: I think it's distinguished.

ROBERTS: It's more extinguished than distinguished, I think, but thanks for that.

CHETRY: You have it. You should be happy for that.

ROBERTS: For the moment, yes.

CHETRY: Like a full head of hair. All right. Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Well, it used to be a president-elect road to his swearing in in open horse and carriage. How things have changed. Check that out. This is Cadillac One. They actually call it "The Beast." It's a high-tech fortress on wheels that will be protecting Obama on his history-making inauguration day.

It's 44 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Well, it's hard to believe but on the way to the inaugural, a president-elect used to be driven in an open horse-drawn carriage and later a bullet-proof sedan. But Barack Obama's new wheels may be the most secure vehicle on earth.

Jeanne Meserve is live in Clearwater, Florida, with an insider's look at what they call "The Beast."

Hi, Jeanne.


Flashing lights on this 1975 limousine used by presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan and sirens, too. Let me fire that up. But all this is going to look antique next to the bells and whistles on Barack Obama's limousine. It's going to be unveiled on inauguration day, but we've got an early look.


MESERVE (voice-over): Secret Service agents call the presidential limousine the beast and if spy photos are any indication, President Obama's new ride lives up to the name.

LUCCI: It's a rolling tank with windows.

MESERVE: At the turn of the last century when President McKinley was inaugurated, he relied on an entirely different kind of horsepower. President Harding's inaugural parade in 1920 was the first to use a car.

President Franklin Roosevelt used the first bullet-proof ride, one seized from mobster Al Capone. President Johnson's limo was armored and enclosed, a byproduct of the Kennedy assassination.

Ted Lucci owns a limousine used by presidents Ford and Carter and another that carried President Reagan.

LUCCI: This is a 1975 --

MESERVE: Though its doors and undercarriage are armored, it seems quaint next to the high-tech limousine President Obama will use.

(On camera): I like this. No campaign, no election, instant president. Great.

(Voice-over): Lucci notes the new limo's windows are smaller to make it less vulnerable. Some of the body appears to be built of a different material. He speculates it's a tougher composite.

Lucci says rubber gaskets could protect against chemical weapons and he guesses the holes in the door are for a mechanism to lock it like a bank vault.

LUCCI: That door probably weighs as much as a 757's aircraft door, and the inside of that cab is as sealed as a jet plane.

MESERVE: And that may surprise Obama, says Joe Funk, a former Secret Service agent who drove President Clinton's limo.

JOE FUNK, U.S. SECRET SERVICE (RET.): It's a cocoon. And the everyday noises will be -- will be gone and he will be totally isolated in this protective envelope. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Now most of the communications gear has been stripped out of this limo and of course, the technology has change a lot. Barack Obama will be able to talk to anyone all across the world from inside his new car.

Joe Funk calls it a rolling White House.

Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: Wow. Pretty neat. Great that we got a look from you this morning, Jeanne, about that. Wow. Times have changed. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: Forty-nine minutes now after the hour and "CNN NEWSROOM" just 11 minutes away. Heidi Collins at the CNN center for us with a look of what's ahead.

Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning to you, John. That's right, a whole lot of news going on this morning.

First off, Gaza. The death toll climbs. The crisis deepens. A missile slams into a school where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge.

And the Barack Obama White House, more names emerge for his inner circle. A look at one selection that may be in trouble even before it's officially announced.

And the man named to succeed Obama in the Senate today. He goes to the Hill and faces an ugly welcome.

We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN. John?

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it, Heidi. Thanks. See you soon.


ROBERTS: Are you trying to quit smoking but worried that you'll pack on the pounds without the cigarettes? We'll show you how to keep off the dreaded weight gain.

You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Well, you've heard of the dangers of smoking and also second-hand smoke but now doctors are warning of a new danger, third- hand smoke.

It's actually the toxic residue that's left on clothing, furniture and in your hair that lingers after someone smoked a cigarette. Researchers warned that these harmful pollutants can actually be congested and they can prove to be harmful to children and infant.

Well, if your resolution this year is to quit smoking and to lose weight, you may be in for a bit of a challenge.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta for this week's "Fit Nation."

A lot of people that try to quit smoking for their health gain a little bit of weight and so they say, hey, wait a minute, which is better? What should I do?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, the odds are stacked against you, there's no question about that. If you want to attach some numbers to it, about 50 percent of the people who quit smoking are going to gain, on average, 4 to 10 pounds so it is a tough balance for a lot of people.

Obviously, smoking is very hazardous to your health so a lot of good reasons to quit. What happens? I think to try to avoid this, avoid this happening to you, is let's figure out what's actually happening.

Smoking, when you smoke, it does increase your metabolism. It tends to increase your heart rate, for example, your blood pressure. That all -- it makes you lose weight, not in a healthy way but it does.

It can also decrease your appetite and specifically decrease your taste for sweets. So when you quit, the inverse of all that is true. You might imagine, your metabolism starts to slow, you may develop a good addiction as you're trying to substitute things for those cigarettes, and also an oral fixation just because you're used to having those cigarettes in your month.

Unfortunately, oral fixation is often satisfied by eating a lot of sweety, fatty foods. That's where the weight gain comes. That's part of the explanation. You got to try and avoid that, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. So what do you do?

GUPTA: Well, you know, first of all, keep in mind that smoking is so hazardous to your health. I think just reminding people that even up to 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and your blood pressure start to come down.

Five years, your stroke rate is no different than a nonsmoker. 15 years all the heart disease risks go away so there's a lot of good reasons to smoke. Another -- you got to look for things that do the same thing smoking does but in healthy ways.

For example, exercise, exercise can help. Try and exercise in those times. Also replacing what normally you put in your mouth with healthy things like vegetables. If you're trying to -- quit smoking, talk to your doctor about it. There are certain medications like Chantix or Nicorette gum. And there's a lot of help out there as well. This time of year, in particular, a lot of people trying to do the same thing you're trying to do. is a Web site that we found that could help you.

Kiran, we're devoting a half an hour -- on our show this week, and a show I know you watch all the time, "HOUSE CALL". We're talking about how to specifically quit smoking, talking to people who've had success and experts who can help you get there as well, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. And of course, I watch, Sanjay.

GUPTA: I know you do.

CHETRY: Thank you. I've gotten a lot of good tips from you guys for sure, and from you especially.

All right. Thanks so much, Sanjay. See you later.

GUPTA: Thank you. All right.


CHETRY (voice-over): Sasha Obama's first day of school. Kissed by the president-elect. Whisked away in a motorcade. And then there's the big guy with the ear piece.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was petrified and I missed my mom.

CHETRY: Jeanne Moos remembers first day traumas.

You're watching the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: They are the new kids on the block. This morning 7- year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia Obama are starting day two at Sidwell Friends School in Washington. And everyone is taking notice.

It's the most news in the morning. And here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Saying good-bye to dad at a luxury hotel, hopping in the motorcade with mom for the ride to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh there's that girl.

MOOS: You know, that girl who belongs to this guy. Sure, they can try to make things seem --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Normal, normal, normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh the quest for a normal life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to be normal at all.

MOOS: You'd think all the attention could turn a kid into a basket case.

NBC made a public virtue of having its reporter vamoos right before the kids arrived at school.

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Now the last thing they need is for a camera crew to stand outside their school. So we are leaving. Back to you.

MATT LAUER, HOST, NBC'S "TODAY SHOW": Not a bad idea. Tom Costello, thank you very much.

MOOS: But it was hard to resist replaying that motorcade footage, say, oh, five times?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we roll it back and see it one more time, because you can see -- I think you can see Sasha's little head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is an adorable shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I would have liked to have gone to school in a motorcade.

MOOS: Watching the Obama daughters had us out dredging up memories of first days in school.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember being dropped off and finding out that my nickname was not my real name. I had always been called Bobby and then I found out that my real name was Roberta.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember I was chewing gum and I had to take it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was big enough for wearing a blazer.

MOOS: That would never have happened to him if the guys with the ear pieces accompanying Sasha Obama had been around.

Back when Amy Carter was the kid under the microscope, "Saturday Night Live" parodied her Secret Service protectors.





MOOS: But whether you arrive by motorcade or school bus --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was scared. I was crying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was petrified and I missed my mom.

MOOS (on camera): I missed my mom so badly that I threw up on my outfit and she had to come with a new dress for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See? I don't feel so alone now.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ROBERTS: That's a sure-fire way to get mom come to the school, throw up on your dress.

CHETRY: Yes. Poor little Jeanne. That was a picture of her.

ROBERTS: I did the same thing.


ROBERTS: Cute little sundress I was wearing that day.

CHETRY: Thank goodness your mom had a backup.

ROBERTS: Thank goodness.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning on AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here again bright and early tomorrow.