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Countdown to Iowa Caucuses; The Biggest Celebration in the World; Verizon To Charge $2 "Convenience" Fee; FHA Extends "Anti- Flipping" Waive; Islamic Group Claims NYPD Spied on Muslims in Wake of 9/11; Cat Euthanized by Humane Society; The Biggest and Weirdest of the Year; New Year's Eve with CNN

Aired December 30, 2011 - 07:59   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Alina Cho. Mitt Romney hunkering down for the home stretch in Iowa. Four days to go because the caucuses and, with Ron Paul right behind him and Rick Santorum surging, the race for the Hawkeye State is wide open.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: And ringing in 2012. I'm Deb Feyerick. Last-minute preps and final touches for the biggest New Year's Eve bash in the world. We are live in Times Square -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.

FEYERICK: Good morning, everyone. It is Friday, December 30th. And you're probably all getting ready for New Year's Eve, either to go out of stay in.


CHO: Right.

FEYERICK: That's right. Personally, I like to stay in and watch the CNN New Year Eve's special with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.

Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING, everybody. I'm Alina Cho, along with Deb Feyerick.

We begin this hour counting down to the Iowa caucuses, with four days to go before the voting begun, Mitt Romney hunkering down in the Hawkeye State after a brief visit to New Hampshire. He'll be spending New Year's Eve, caucus night and the morning after the caucuses right in Des Moines. That's in an attempt to hold off Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

Santorum surging right now. The former Pennsylvania Senator leapfrogging Newt Gingrich into the top three in the latest CNN/"TIME"/ORC poll. And he's sounding more and more confident.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn't my first rodeo. I've been through very, very tough campaign, big national scrutiny types of campaigns in the state of Pennsylvania.

Most of the media says that Mitt Romney is a guy that can beat President Obama, but what history does Mitt Romney have?



CHO: Meanwhile, the Michele Bachmann campaign is in chaos.

FEYERICK: Her Iowa chairman has jumped ship to Ron Paul's camp and another top adviser just stepped down. Bachmann finding it difficult to hide her feelings about the Texas congressman.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I took on Ron Paul over his dangerous position stating that he would do nothing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes him a very dangerous person to be our next president.

It's never going to happen, Wolf. Ron Paul is not getting the nomination.


CHO: Bad blood between Bachmann and Ron Paul.

It is crunch time in Iowa. We don't need to tell you that. Just four days to go before the caucuses there.

FEYERICK: And a lot, as you know, can happen and change in 96 hours because Iowa voters are notoriously hard to pin down and more than half of them say they haven't settled on their final choice yet.

Jim Acosta on the campaign trail. He's joining us live from Des Moines this morning.

Jim, a new poll out this morning. Where is it pointing to?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alina, it's another sign of Mitt-mentum as they're calling it out here in Iowa. There's a new NBC/Marist poll that shows the race essentially where it was earlier this week with that CNN/"TIME"/ORC poll.

But let's show you the numbers because they are pretty dramatic when you consider the fact that Mitt Romney has not spent much time in this state. Take a look at this, Mitt Romney at 23 percent in this new poll from NBC, 21 percent for Ron Paul and then confirming the Rick Santorum surge. There he is at 15 percent.

But there is a bit of a battle of the Ricks going on, because Rick Perry is right behind Rick Santorum at 13 percent, excuse me, 14 percent, and then Newt Gingrich -- wow, what a stunning reversal of fortunes for the former speaker. He is there at 13 percent, in fifth place in this poll. So, not good news for Newt Gingrich.

But Mitt Romney, as I said, you know, for somebody who hasn't spent a lot of time of in this state, this is his eighth trip to Iowa during this campaign. Contrast that with Rick Santorum who has been in every county of the state.

Mitt Romney is going to be going all in. He's just leaving the state briefly this afternoon to go back to New Hampshire, but then he's coming back to Iowa for a big swing through the state for a couple of days and going into the caucuses. He's going to be here later on this morning with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, his top surrogate.

How did all of this happen? Well, basically, he's gotten a bit of a free ride here in Iowa. Newt Gingrich has stayed positive, not really attacking Mitt Romney very much. And the other rivals in this race have been attacking each other.

Just to give you a sense of how easy it's been for Mitt Romney, consider the question he got from an 8-year-old at an event yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED KID: Is it hard running for the president?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. And that's a darn good question and the answer is yes and no. It sounds like a politician, I apologize.


ACOSTA: So, there you go. Yes and no. Mitt Romney trying to have it both ways on whether it's hard running for president. It was actually a lighter moment for the former Massachusetts governor.

But one thing that's going to be interesting to watch, Alina and Deb, is going to be: can Mitt Romney translate this big mode that he has in this state into turnout, because as you know, the Iowa caucuses, they are all about turnout. They're all about getting people to these caucus sites to caucus on behalf of your candidate. And so, it's going to be interesting to watch whether he has the ground forces in place to get all of those folks to these caucus sites to come out and support Mitt Romney. That will be the x-factor, I think, on Tuesday night.

CHO: Well, right. And Ron Paul has such a strong ground campaign, Jim, as you well know. A lot of people have been saying, you know, if the weather is bad, those die-hard Paul supporters are going to get out there and maybe the Romney supporters might not.

Meanwhile, you have been there with Romney and you've noticed a change in terms of the crowds, haven't you, at the Romney events in the past couple of days.

ACOSTA: You know, that's right, Alina. You know, they have gotten bigger. I was at an event yesterday at the Music Man Museum in Mason City. It is the site of basically where the inspiration of that film and that musical came from and Romney sort of bounced in there with a spring in his step.

You know, he does sort of campaign as this optimistic guy out on the trail. This is an even more buoyant Mitt Romney than I think we've seen in recent days. And it shows you just how well they think they're doing in this state. They would not be here, I don't think, on caucus night if they thought they were going to do badly in this state.

I think because he's going to be here on caucus night watching these returns coming in. He's even planning on staying into the morning, we understand, to do the morning TV shows from this state.

And keep in fact this one piece of trivia, Alina. If he wins the Iowa caucuses and then goes on to win the New Hampshire primary, he will have done something that no GOP presidential candidate has done since Gerald Ford.

CHO: Wow.

ACOSTA: That would make him very hard to stop.

CHO: Did I mention that that 8-year-old is going to give you a run for your money, Jim?

ACOSTA: That's right.

FEYERICK: Stand by.

ACOSTA: He was elbowing me out on the rope line later in the day.

CHIO: I bet he was.

ACOSTA: I was like, what is with this kid here. Yes, exactly.

CHO: Jim Acosta live --

ACOSTA: Asking the hard questions.

CHO: All right. Jim, thank you very much. Great to see you, as always.

ACOSTA: You bet.

FEYERICK: All right. At least Romney definitely has the pacing down.

Well, this Tuesday night, the country's first real votes and the candidate's first true test. Special live America's Choice 2012 coverage of the Iowa caucuses begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

CHO: 2012 is almost here. It's the eve of New Year's Eve, right? And 1 million people will jam into New York City's Times Square tomorrow to ring in the New Year tomorrow night. The rest of the world will be watching some 1 billion on television.

So, police, no surprise, will be ramping up security to keep the revelers safe.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly says they're covering all angles and explains some of tomorrow's safety measures.


RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We'll see our most recent Police Academy graduating class. This is their first deployment.

CHO: Just graduated on December 22nd, right?

KELLY: That's right. But they've been training since then. So, this will be their first deployment, about 1,550 of them. As you said, you'll see mounted police officers and helicopters will be up in the air and checking a 200-block area around Times Square.

Everyone that enters the area will have to go through a magnetometer check. Those entry points are along Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue, 16 of them.


FEYERICK: And for a peek at more New Year's Eve preparations, we're going to go straight to Susan Candiotti. She's live in Times Square.

And, Susan, Times Square is like a big bow tie, sort of the crossroads in Manhattan. How close are people actually going to be able to get to the ball drop?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty close. You know, 24 hours from now, you will no longer be able to take a casual stroll like you can right now in the 10 blocks or so area around Times Square, because 24 hours from now, there will be close to a million people already starting to gather here. Police are getting ready now to put together these metal barricades to hold, there will be 65 of them to hold people in, apparently leaving a path for emergency crews to get through here.

And in fact, they are also setting up stages here. You can see they're already in place, where our own Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will be.

We're going to have big name entertainers here, including Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and, of course, confetti. Oh, yes, a ton of it flying down from the tops of these buildings here. And on each one of those fireproof pieces of paper, well wishes on them written by tourists who come to visit New York in the last year. Yes, they even rehearse the confetti drop. Listen.


TIM TOMKINS, PRESIDENT OF TIMES SQUARE ALLIANCE: It's very, very important that the confetti falls, especially because this is confetti that has people's wishes on it. And, of course, we want those wishes to come true on 2012. You don't want in the clump and not flutter, you know, through Times Square. Very important. Very scientifically studied.

CANDIOTTI: So, you can actually make adjustments during the rehearsal if it doesn't work right?

TOMKINS: It's top secret, I can't tell you.


CANDIOTTI: I don't know what the secret is. But, yes, they will be playing with confetti later today and, of course, I have some in my pocket, too. You saw that earlier.

But we're going to be watching that ball drop. Look, now that the sun is coming up, you can make out 2012 at the bottom of the poll. We'll all be watching for it at the stroke of midnight.

Deborah, we'll be here watching.

FEYERICK: That's right. And it's so interesting that you point this out. A lot of people really do love to go into Times Square and the last hour, they do make it exciting.

But it is amazing to me. I don't know if you had a chance to speak to anybody. They will come there and stand there for 12, 13, 14 hours just for that one moment when the ball falls, you know, from 2011 to 2012 -- quite fascinating.

CANDIOTTI: Oh, absolutely. And I guess they better be watching their water intake because once they get inside these pens, if they go out, they cannot get back inside. So, yes. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you even heard Ray Kelly say, the police commissioner, everyone should do it at least once in their lives.

FEYERICK: That's exactly right. That and the New York City marathon. I would probably choose where you are, instead of the marathon. I'm not quite in such good shape.

Susan Candiotti from Times Square -- thanks so much, appreciate you joining us.

CHO: We have this just in to CNN: firefighters in Los Angeles are battling at least a dozen suspected arson fires overnight. Several of them appear to have been started by setting cars on fire in underground parking garages. CNN affiliate KABC is reporting several vehicles, a home and apartment building have been damaged by the flames. Dozens of tenants have been forced out and one firefighter has been injured.

FEYERICK: And a Missouri man arrested after trying to board a Delta flight to Arizona, allegedly with a loaded gun and $26,000 in cash. It happened at the Kansas City airport yesterday. TSA screeners spotted the weapon with an X-ray machine.

Anthony Winn is now charged with possession of a firearm. He claims he was returning the gun to his brother. The police say he later changed his story and denied knowing that the gun was in his bag.

CHO: Police in Minnesota are searching for a groping suspect who was caught on camera. Security video shows the man assaulting a 13-year-old girl. It happened at a Wal-Mart on Monday. The man is seen following the victim for several minutes. She was just steps away from her family at the time of the assault. The suspect vanished just before the girl could tell anyone what happened.

FEYERICK: Well, North Carolina officials have raided a butterball turkey farm. It was sparked by complaints of abuse by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals. They are alleging an ongoing pattern of cruelty to turkeys at the facility and released this video shot by an undercover activist who worked that plant for three weeks.

Just a warning, you may find some of the images disturbing.

Workers can be seen kicking and stomping on turkeys and dragging them by their wings and necks.

Butterball says it has zero tolerance policy for mistreatment of its birds and has launched an investigation.

CHO: Unbelievable.

Just in time, $16.5 million winning lottery ticket was turned in yesterday. Just two hours before it was set to expire. It's a good thing, $16.5 million.

Iowa lottery officials tried for months to get the winner to come forward. There's no word on who won the hot lotto or why they waited so long to claim the prize. The odds of winning by the way were one in nearly 11 million.

FEYERICK: Well, N Korean said it was snubbed by South Korea at the funerals for King Jong Il. Now, the North is threatening violent revenge. Details on that coming up.

CHO: You may have heard of the oldest person in the world or the tallest. Do you know who's got the biggest afro, or which dog has the longest ears? We're going to find out those and other wild records from our friends over at the Guinness Book of World Records a little later on in the program.

FEYERICK: And they are so last year. The list of words that will forever be banished from the English language in 2012. Sorry, guys, your man cave is about to become a basement, again.


FEYERICK: Welcome back. Well, North Korea warning a violent revenge against South Korea. The north is insulted that more South Koreans did not attend the funeral of the late leader Kim Jong-Il. South Korea did allow some citizens to attend.

CHO: That's right. The North Korea is still threatening to, quote, "smash puppet forces in the south. CNNs Paula Hancocks is live from Seoul, South Korea, with more on that. Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Deb. Well, there was a fair bit of debate around as to whether or not this new leader, Kim Jong-Un, who was much younger and had also been educated abroad was actually going to bring some kind of change to North Korea. Now, clearly, we have had our answer just one day after official mourning for Kim Jong-Il has ended.

There will be no change in policy as far as North Korea is concerned. There's a statement today from the National Defense Commission saying, quote, "we solemnly declare with confidence that the South Korean puppets and foolish politicians around the world should not expect any change."

North Korea was also saying that they were furious with the South Korean government for not allowing many delegations to go to Pyongyang and actually pay their respects to Kim Jong-Il. There was only one civilian delegation of 18 people that was actually allowed to make that trip. It is a very clear warning to South Korea.

It's a warning we have heard before for North Korea, but it is a little bit quicker after the mourning period than many analysts were expecting. Obviously, the North Koreans are trying to show their status and how they feel very quickly after Kim Jong-Un has taken power. They're basically saying, it's business as usual and nothing has changed.

It is interesting, though, because the South Korean government had actually (INAUDIBLE) to North Korea by offering condolences to the North Korean people, but, clearly, this wasn't enough for North Korea.

CHO: I think you're right, Paula. It's not entirely unexpected, but the fact that it came out so soon is a little bit surprising. Paula Hancocks live for us from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, thank you very much.

FEYERICK: Well, get them out of your system while you still can. Lake Superior State University, as it does every year at this time, released its list of words and phrases that should be just banned from the English language that have just been overused. Well, they include "occupy," so, sorry about that 99 percent and man cave.

Come on, let's be honest. It's really just a basement with a TV, a recliner, probably from eBay and a mini fridge and an old air Jordan poster. You know, let's call it what it is. Also blowback, ginormous, and baby bump.

CHO: That's right. So, if you have a ginormous baby bump, we're told you're just really pregnant.


CHO: So, stop saying it.

All right. Rob is off this morning. Reynolds Wolf in the Extreme Weather Center with a look at the New Year's Eve weather. Hey, good morning, Reynolds.


CHO: You know, a lot of people, I'm not going to be one of them, but a million people are going to head to Times Square. What's it looking like for New York and the rest of the country?

WOLF: I don't know. I'm not going to go because I've got a ginormous baby bump on the back of my head, because I occupied the man cave. My ginormous man cave weigh too much.

FEYERICK: And you said your man cave is going away. You said that that man cave --


WOLF: -- as much as I possibly can because you gave me only a few more days left in the year. You know, you mention Times Square and people want to know what kind of weather you can have there. It's going to be pretty good. In fact, it's going to be bit more bearable than it was last year.

Forty-three degrees as the ball drops in New York City. A mix of sun and clouds during the day, but by nightfall, most clearly with wind out of the west at seven miles an hour. All things considered, it should be picture perfect. Unfortunately, the travel day, not so much in terms of picture perfect, especially in Chicago and Detroit, you're going to have some delays due to the rain.

In fact, you might be waiting on the ground for over an hour. Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, even in San Francisco, you're going to have all kinds of issues mainly due to a mixture of snow in some places, fog and low clouds in Atlanta and Houston. With Denver, it's the wind. San Francisco, fog. What a surprise.

Out towards the Western Great Lakes, we're seeing a little bit of rain over parts of Chicago, but farther to the west and back to the north, we're going to see a little bit of snow that's going to be piling in especially near the twin cities and no heavy accumulation anticipated, but as this lifts up and makes it way bit more to the east, we're going to see a switch over.

The snowfall we had in upstate New York is going to switch over rain because we've got some warm air actually coming in from the south. That's going to keep the temperatures above the freezing point. We are going to be seeing in terms of delays, we told you about the issues we're going to have in parts of the Great Lakes, but no issues at all in parts of, say, Texas.

Beautiful conditions for Dallas and wrapping up the high today in Dallas is going to go to, 68 degrees, 72 in Houston, 50 in Phillies (ph), and 59 in San Francisco, 33 in Minneapolis, 50 in New York, and 54 in Washington, D.C.

CHO: Did I see 79 in Florida, Reynolds?

WOLF: You saw -- not only 79 in Miami. You saw a 74 in Tampa. I know, it's going to be beautiful. Let me guess, are you heading in that direction, maybe?

CHO: Tomorrow.

WOLF: You lucky devil. You lucky devil. Enjoy both of you. You're both going to be in great spots.

CHO: Happy New Year.

FEYERICK: Happy New Year and enjoy that man cave, while you can.

WOLF: It's ginormous.

FEYERICK: It's ginormous. It's ginormous man cave. That's right.

And coming up, we're looking back at the wildest Guinness World Records of 2011. Who holds the record for the most dogs jumping rope? Find out, that's coming up. Right now, it is about 22 minutes past the hour.


FEYERICK: It's 25 minutes after the hour. Morning, everybody. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

The final trading session of 2011 ready to begin in just over an hour. Encouraging news on home sales and improving prospects for job growth sends stocks higher yesterday with the Dow gaining 138 points and the S&P 500 advancing into the black for the year.

And right now, Wall Street could be closing the curtain on 2011 on an up note. Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 futures all pointing higher this morning, suggesting a possible bounce at the opening bell.

Verizon Wireless confirms it will start charging a $2 convenience fee on January 15th to customers making one-time bill payments online or by telephone using a debit or credit card. The company says it will offer several options to customers who want to avoid paying it.

Real estate flippers who buy cheap homes fix them up and try to quickly resell them for a fast profit, they just got a reprieve from the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA is extending a waiver of its anti-flipping regulations through 2012. That means buyers can still get mortgage insurance even if they flip the home within 90 days of purchasing it.

And if you're in the market for an Apple iPad 2, well, you might just want to hold off buying it for about a month. According to DigiTimes, the Taiwan-based news organization that loves to predict this stuff, Apple is planning to introduce two new high-end versions at the popular tablet at the end of January. The word is, the price of the iPad 2 is going to be lowered to compete with Amazon's Kindle.

Next, some New York City Muslim leaders are boycotting an interface breakfast this morning, this, after reports that police spied on Muslim communities.

AMERICAN MORNING is back, and we will see you right after the break



FEYERICK (voice-over): You know, it seems like just last year that we were standing there, and now, it's this year. The countdown is on. We will soon be ringing in 2012. Celebrations going to take place all over the world, but the biggest bash, at least, we like to think so here in the U.S., will be right here in New York on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It's 30 past the hour. Mitt Romney hunkering down for the home stretch in Iowa with four days to go before the caucuses. The former Massachusetts governor now plans to spend most of the next 96 hours in the state after a quick stop in New Hampshire today. His staff is confirming he will be in Iowa for New Year's Eve as well as caucus night and the morning after.

Al Qaeda building an army in Libya. A source tells CNN the terrorist organization has recruited some 200 jihadists in the country and Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri personally picked one of his experienced fighters to head recruiting efforts in Libya. A source western intelligence agencies are aware of his presence there.

CHO: North Korea saying expect no change and that it will not deal with the South Korean government. The north saying it's insulted that more South Koreans did not attend the funeral of Kim Jong-il. South Korea did allow some of its citizens to travel to the funeral, but did not send an official delegation.

FEYERICK: Some Muslim leaders snubbing the mayor of New York City and skipping his annual year-end interfaith breakfast. They say they're upset over a report that the NYPD spied on Muslim communities after 9/11.

CHO: That's right. The NYPD denied it targeted Muslim's specifically, saying it was only following leads. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING we spoke with Nihan Awad from the Council on American-Islamic Relations who says the Muslim community is shocked.


NIHAD AWAD, NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN- ISLAMIC RELATIONS: They have a unit called, called the Graphics (ph) unit, which means if you're a Muslim you're subject for targeted for spying. Even according to the AP reports, it showed that the prominent figures who are engaged in outreach for the police departments had been spied on. So, how can they deny this? These documents are online. AP revealed them. They're not fabricated and they have to come to reality. They have to admit that it is wrong.


CHO: Also new this morning, the Obama administration has set up a 24-hour telephone hotline for immigrants that have been detained by local police forces. It's designed to ensure the immigrants are being properly informed of their rights. And it can also be used by detainees who believe they may be U.S. citizens or are victims of a crime. The hotline will be staffed 24/7 by immigration and customs enforcement officials.

FEYERICK: And the U.S. has agreed to sell nearly $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. The deal calls for production of up to 84 new jets and the modernization of 70 existing F-15s. With Iran causing tension in the Middle East, State Department official are calling this contract a demonstration of America's commitment to a strong Saudi defense.

CHO: President Obama paid his respects at Pearl Harbor last night. He's in Hawaii, of course, for the holidays. The president and first lady laid a wreath at the USS Arizona memorial to honor the thousands of Americans killed there 70 years ago this month.

FEYERICK: Still the come this morning, the Arizona Humane Society under fire for euthanizing a man's nine-month-old cat after he couldn't come up with $400 in cash. Scruffy's story, next. It is 34 minutes past the hour.


FEYERICK: And welcome back. The Arizona Humane Society has been taking a lot of heat for euthanizing a man's nine-month-old cat after he failed to come up with $400 to pay for the cat's treatment. Humane Society officials have since changed their policies and apologized to Scruffy's owner for failing him. But that hasn't stopped outraged donors from threatening to withdraw their support for the organization.

First of all, let's find out how all this unfolded and where we go from here. Joining us live from Phoenix, this morning, Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for the Arizona Humane Society. And we want to take a listen to what happened here.


DANIEL DOCKERY, OWNER OF EUTHANIZED CAT: They led me to believe that if I couldn't come up with the money right then and there that the only way I was going to get her treated was to sign off on her.


FEYERICK: Now, the cat was injured. The gentleman brought her to the Humane Society. The Humane Society apparently made him sign away his rights to the animal, and then rather than treat the injury, apparently euthanize the cat. What happened? What went wrong?

BRETTA NELSON, PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER, ARIZONA HUMANE SOCIETY: Well, basically, the credit card policy that the Arizona Humane Society had in effect, it failed Mr. Dockery and it failed Scruffy, and we recognize that and we are truly sorry for that. And, you know, and Mr. Dockery's situation is a bit unique. It's playing out in the public eye, but he is just one of thousands of people who come to our shelter each year and have to make that heart-wrenching decision to surrender their pet for a variety of very unfortunate circumstances. And at no time are we ever able to force someone to do so or demand that they do so. We can only offer them their options. And in this case the credit card policy did, in fact, fail Mr. Dockery and it did fail Scruffy.

FEYERICK: Ms. Nelson, because he couldn't pay for the procedure, the cat was injured, but because he didn't have money or couldn't pay by cash, they weren't able to accept a credit card. Why not just wait? Why put the cat down when, in fact, really, he probably could have gotten that credit card within a matter of time? Do people have the expectation their animals will be treated if they come to the Humane Society for help?

NELSON: Well, Scruffy was suffering. She had a laceration from razor wire or barbed wire going from her belly button down her leg, and she had had muscles exposed. So she was in a great deal of pain, she was suffering. We're not able by law to hold a pet for payment. And as much as we would love our reduced cost clinic to be a free clinic, the need in our community for free services is so great that we would not be able to sustain that clinic for even another week.

It is certainly not a matter of not wanting to help Mr. Dockery. The intent is never to put an animal down. But it is just a matter of the dire need eclipsing the resources that are available.

FEYERICK: And you do have so many animals. Do you think that the animal could have, had he taken the cat back and simply waited, would that have been an option, or do the people there on the ground, did they believe the right thing for him to do was surrender the animal, believing that the animal would be fixed?

NELSON: You know, again, we never make that decision for someone. The surrendering of a pet is very emotional, very heart wrenching, and it's very, very personal. And we will never take that upon ourselves to suggest that someone do that. We can provide that option for them, but, we recognize how it is truly heart breaking. And, again, he could have possibly gone elsewhere with Scruffy, but Scruffy was suffering. And I do think Daniel recognized that and I do think that he surrendered her based on that premise.

FEYERICK: All right, now, with the new credit card policy in place, I mean, have other animals been euthanized simply because people didn't have the money? Why wasn't a credit card payment an option in the past?

NELSON: You know, it had been our policy in our public clinics to not accept credit card payment over the telephone due to the fraud that we had encountered as an organization. And we recognize now that that is clearly a flawed policy, and we changed it on December 16th. We will accept credit cards over the telephone, and we have also established a 911 emergency gap fund. You know, this is from our long-time donors, staff, and supporters of the Arizona Humane Society. This gap fund will work for people just like Mr. Dockery. Perhaps they come in on a Tuesday and their pet needs immediate care and they are unable to pay for that service until a few days later. That fund will cover that service for them until they have the opportunity to pay it back. And the fund will replenish itself perpetually so it can work to save so many more animals' lives.

FEYERICK: OK, very quickly, donations are taking a little bit of a hit right now, I think.

NELSON: You know, we definitely have people that are outraged and we understandably recognize that and we recognize the perception. And we also have our long-time supporters that we thank very, very much. But, people, please, know that Scruffy was suffering. We did what was humane for Scruffy.

FEYERICK: All right, Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for the Arizona Humane Society, thank you so much for clearing that up. Thank you.

CHO: Coming up, Anderson Cooper talks candidly about his time co-hosting the New Year's Eve celebration on CNN with that wildcard. We're talking about Kathy Griffin. So what is his biggest fear?


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I try to blank it out as soon as it's done, and I pray that I wake up the next day and it's not the headline in the "Drudge Report."


CHO: We'll have much more insight from Anderson just ahead.

FEYERICK: And we're looking at the wildest world records of 2011 with the guys from the Guinness book. Which dog has the world's longest ears? Find out. That's up next. It is now 44 minutes past the hour.


CHO: Welcome back.

Before tomorrow's New Year's Eve festivities begin, we're celebrating the best, the biggest, the longest, the strongest and the strangest of 2011.

FEYERICK: And you're only going to find them, where else, in the Guinness Book of Records. And here to take us through the most unique of the 40,000 records is Guinness spokesman Stuart Claxton.

So -- so interesting how many records have been set, but the one I like the most is the 91-year-old who is actually still doing yoga.

STUART CLAXTON, U.S. SPOKESMAN, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: Indeed, indeed. Bernice Bates who actually holds the Guinness World Record for the --

FEYERICK: Where is she from?

CLAXTON: She is from Florida -- based out of Florida.

FEYERICK: No surprise, I guess.

CHO: Wow look at her.

CLAXTON: And she is like, she is the oldest yoga teacher. She's been doing it for about 50 years now. So it started as a swimming instructor, but then moved on to yoga.

FEYERICK: Oh my God.

CHO: She did yoga 50 years ago, then she did it well before -- well before the craze.

CLAXTON: The sudden fashion, yes.

FEYERICK: She was the craze.

CLAXTON: She still teaches one class a week in her retirement village in Florida. So yes Namaste as they say to Bernice.

CHO: So, I want to go to Italy now and the world's longest chocolate bar. I mean, this is like a dream come true for me. I saw the photo of it. Just how long is it? How big is it? There it is.

CLAXTON: Yes, I know and you'd raise an eyebrow if you found this in your chocolate stocking that's for sure. This is actually 49 feet long and six feet wide and it's made by a chocolate master, if you will. By the name of Mirco Della Vecchia and he hails from Bologna.

CHO: Well done on the name.

CLAXTON: Actually -- actually holds another couple of Guinness World Records. The largest chocolate sculpture which is a creation of the Doer Moer (ph) in Milan as well as the largest ice cream cone so --

CHO: Where is this in Italy?

CLAXTON: In Bologna.

FEYERICK: I would like to see the world's largest tiramisu -- that I would be interested in.


FEYERICK: Now, what about also the -- this 3D painting that is there which is actually quite magnificent.


FEYERICK: And quite brilliantly done. Talk to us about that.

CLAXTON: Yes certainly this was done actually in celebration of Guinness world Record's day in November of this year and it is called an anamorphic (ph) painting which as you say is three dimensional.

CHO: Do you have to wear glasses to be able get the full effect?

CLAXTON: No, the effect is quite literally, as you see it on your screens, it literally has a three dimensional kind of view and it's over, its 12,490 square feet. It took about a week to create in the center of London and just to give you a sense of that, that's roughly about three NBA basketball courts.


CHO: Is it on display somewhere.

CLAXTON: Well no, unfortunately it's washed away by our wonderful English weather.

CHO: I see.

FEYERICK: But the buildings are real, right? The building on each side those are genuine.

CLAXTON: Those are real. It's just what you see on the floor exactly --

FEYERICK: Remarkable with the waterfall and the man scaffolding over. Incredible.

CLAXTON: Yes, yes, doing the exercises I know it is remarkable.

CHO: You know, every day this week, we've been showing crazy animal video.


CHO: And -- and we don't like to forget the animals on the record, you've got a good one, right?

CLAXTON: Yes exactly we have -- we have several, in fact. The first one I think we're going to be referencing is the dog with the longest ears.


CLAXTON: Is that where we going? So, this is a black and tan -- oh no, sorry this is the --

FEYERICK: Oh the jumping rope dog.

CLAXTON: Oh we have ok.

FEYERICK: Here we go ears and then we'll do rope.

CLAXTON: Ok, so this is a black and tan coon hound and his ears left and right are 12 and a quarter inches and 12 and a half inches respectively. And it's actually a hunting breed traditionally and --


FEYERICK: Does he hear better?

CLAXTON: Well, you know what, they had -- they use their droopy ears to sweep up scent from the ground because they're hunting dogs. So that's where its traditionally comes from but he's --

CHO: How interesting.

CLAXTON: But he -- he stands head and shoulders above the other -- the other breeds. And -- and he actually hails from Boulder, Colorado, and he's 8 years old.

CHO: And you have some jump-roping animals too. What's that about?

CLAXTON: Yes so there is a circus in Japan called the "Super 1-1 Circus" and they actually one day they were skipping rope and a young --

CHO: That's incredible.

CLAXTON: Yes, I know a young poodle by the name of Mayonnaise, if you will, actually joined in and started skipping. So they got all the dogs involved and these are the most dogs simultaneously jumping.

CHO: It's hard enough to get humans to do that.

CLAXTON: Right 13 of them.

CHO: It's dogs.

CLAXTON: All in one go. I know it's quite funny.

Now, they use it as part of their playtime and look at them having a well of a time there.

FEYERICK: Oh that is a riot and look at all of the colors on their ears.

CHO: You've got some 30,000 records, right?


CHO: I mean, you know what are -- what are some of the most memorable for you over the years?

CLAXTON: Well, as you say, we receive around 50,000 inquiries every year from literally all over the world.

CHO: Yes really? Yes.

CLAXTON: They populate our database. So give or take 40,000 records since we started in 1955. And one of the highlights this year would have to be kicking off a record at the White House with the First Lady, Michelle Obama. We joined with National Geographic Kids' magazine and Let's Move Campaign.


CHO: Oh, how was the jumping jacks.

FEYERICK: Right, that's right.

CLAXTON: There we go, yes most people doing jumping jacks in 24 hours. And the record had stood at 20,000 give or take and it was actually set this year, again, at 300,000 people all over the world.

FEYERICK: Amazing, amazing. Kicking off the year in a healthy way, very good.

Well, Stuart Claxton, thank you so much we really appreciate you joining us.

CLAXTON: Thank you for having us.

CHO: Thank you great to see you.

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will host tomorrow's New Year's Eve celebration on CNN for the fifth year in a row. Griffin says she's going to try to pants Anderson this year. We're going to tell you how Anderson responded to that and his favorite New Year's Eve memory so far.

We'll have that next for you, it's 52 minutes after the hour.


CHO: You're looking at a live picture of Times Square where it is 39 and sunny. It will be sunny with a high of 53 a little bit later on. Positively balmy for the New Year's celebration that will be there tomorrow night, a million revelers will be in Times Square to ring in the New Year.

Welcome back everybody.

FEYERICK: That's right and you may be ready and you maybe not but well it's coming anyway. Because tomorrow is New Year's Eve and that could mean only one thing. Here at CNN, it's Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.

CHO: Yes that's right Kathy Griffin says by her estimation she's been fired three times from the job and yet she still comes back. We should tell you that it's Anderson and Kathy's fifth year hosting the CNN New Year's Eve celebration together. It is Anderson's tenth for CNN. He couldn't believe.

I asked him if this was his way of avoiding to have to go out and hit the town on New Year's Eve.


CHO: Watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER, 360": It is, actually. I started doing this because I have never had fun on New Year's Eve. I think it's impossible, especially in New York, there's no cabs, it's freezing cold. And I started -- I guess ten years ago -- God, I didn't know it was that long. I started volunteering for this and I found out I really loved it. It's really great, being actually in Times Square. And --

CHO: Yes, talk about that a little bit. I mean give us sort of a behind the scenes look of what -- where you are -- where is the set?

COOPER: Right. We're on this giant sort of podium of bleachers that all media is on and everybody has like two or three feet of space that they're allowed and you're basically above the TKTS booth around like 46th Street. And you know, there's just a great atmosphere there.

I mean it's nice, I don't think I could do it as a civilian because you're in pens -- like hemmed into pens with thousands of other people and you can't go to the bathroom and that seems very unpleasant to me.

CHO: Let's talk about Kathy Griffin a little bit. By her own estimation, she has been fired three times from this job. Why do you keep inviting her back?

COOPER: It's not me. Well, we've becoming friends over the years. And you know --

CHO: She is like this with your mom.

COOPER: She and my mom have become very good friends as well which is surreal. In fact they see each other more than I see either of them. And they talk about all sorts of stuff that I don't want to know about. And, yes.

CHO: Last year she tried to take your clothes off. I want to play this clip -- watch.


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: I met someone. What? It's New Year's.

COOPER: You're supposed to do that at the stroke of midnight. We're still like four minutes away. And we're going to be live all the way through, all the way through the New Year -- all the traditional stuff that we love. New York, New York. What is going on?

GRIFFIN: I'm taking your clothes off. It's for America. I love America.


COOPER: You know, it's weird because you never actually see the program when you're doing something like this and you don't go back and see it. So it's weird to actually watch it.

CHO: Well, you know what she said she is going to try to do this year, right? She is going to try to pants you.

COOPER: You know she's -- I don't know. I don't know what she's --

CHO: She says that you should probably, just to be safe, duct tape your pants to your body. Is that something you're willing to do?

COOPER: Well, that's interesting. Maybe I will try suspenders or something. She always comes up with some sort of harebrained idea and then we have to sort of talk her down. Last year --

CHO: Yet she still tries.

COOPER: Last year she wanted to throw money into the crowd and I was like, you know, you can't throw money into a --

CHO: In all seriousness, though. Do you have a favorite moment or two over the years? This will be your fifth year with Kathy.

COOPER: That is crazy.

CHO: It is crazy.

COOPER: Wow, a favorite moment. You know, actually no. It's actually just -- there's really --

CHO: It's all bad. It's all bad.

COOPER: Honestly, I try to blank it out as soon as it's done. And I just -- I pray that I wake up the next day and it's not the headline on the Drudge Report. That's basically -- oh, there was the, actually, there was the year she threw stuff at the Jonas Brothers, that was fun. They were performing and she was literally throwing things at them.

CHO: This year, Lady Gaga -- your buddy, Lady Gaga is going to be --

COOPER: I saw her. Yes.

CHO: We have Mayor Bloomberg dropping the ball. That's going to be something, right?

COOPER: We actually had Gaga on the New Year's show years ago before she was huge --

CHO: Before she was Gaga.

COOPER: -- and she was playing and we went to her concert and that was fun. So I really feel we're responsible. I had a little New Year's show with her --


CHO: I think you are.

Anderson, thanks.

COOPER: Thanks.

CHO: I'll be watching.

COOPER: All right.


CHO: Always fun to talk to Anderson and we should mention as a programming note, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will co-host CNN's New Year's Eve celebration live from New York City's Times Square. CNN correspondents will provide reports from celebrations across the country and around the world. The party starts tomorrow, 11:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

FEYERICK: And before we leave, we want to show appreciation to all those who work behind the scenes here at AMERICAN MORNING. These are the folks who get up in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping to bring you this show and they do it with a lot of enthusiasm and love and energy.

CHO: There's the control room. Our producers. These are the people, by the way, who don't often get the credit. We get the credit because we're on television. But these are the people who work behind the scenes tirelessly day and night to make us look good each and every day.

We cannot thank you enough because we're nothing without you guys.

FEYERICK: That's right.

CHO: Thank you very much. Happy New Year. We hope you have a great year.

FEYERICK: Thanks and a Happy New Year to everybody. A great, awesome, New Year filled with joy and love. Happy New Year everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy New Year, everybody.