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CNN Sunday Morning

Denver Plane Accident; Winter Weather; Obama Stimulus Plan; Caylee Memorial; Zimbabwe Crisis;, Global Medical Relief Fund; More Troops Afghanistan Bound; Habitat for Humanity; Holiday Game Dangers

Aired December 21, 2008 - 9:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Take a look, another snowstorm slams into parts of the U.S., all adding up to trouble on the roads and in the airports for holiday travelers.
TJ HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And passengers have a story to tell after making it through a fiery jet accident on the runway.


RICK WARREN, EVANGELICAL PASTOR: And for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights.


NGUYEN: Popular Pastor Rick Warren uses his speech before a Muslim convention to fire back at those criticizing his invitation to the inauguration. From the CNN Center, right here in Atlanta, bringing you news from all around the world. Hello everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And good morning to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes. It is Sunday, December the 21st. Thanks for being here.

NGUYEN: Start with this, terrifying moments at a Denver airport. A commercial jet skids off the runway and catches fire. Passengers, crewmembers, they escaped using emergency slides. Here now is CNN's Randi Kaye with more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Continental flight 1404 was bound for Houston when something went wrong -- fire. One passenger says the nose lifted up, then suddenly came back down. She says the 737 veered off the runway coming to rest in a small ravine. The accident was near one of the airport's fire department, and emergency crews were on the scene almost immediately. The scene could have been catastrophic.

CHIEF PATRICK HYNES, DENVER FIRE DEPT: They described a surreal when they pulled up, heavy fire on the right side of the aircraft, and all shoots were deployed from both sides of the aircraft, people evacuating and walking up the hillside towards them. They had to drive off road to get to the aircraft, but were able to distinguish the fire rather quickly.

It was described as heck of a firefight from the commanding officer on scene.

KAYE: All 107 passengers and five crew were safely evacuated. At least 38 people were transported to local hospitals. None of the injuries appears to be life-threatening. And the airport is still open, but flight delays are expected through Sunday.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


NGUYEN: Well, Continental Airlines has issued this statement regarding yesterday's accident, saying: "Continental and Denver International Airport are providing assistance to the passengers. The company is in the process of collecting additional information and will communicate additional information once it is known."

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN, your severe weather headquarters.

HOLMES: It has been cold, snowy and wintry for several weeks, now. But, would you believe that winter only officially started a couple hours ago? Seriously. I'll have Reynolds explain that to you, here, in just a second.

Well, right now, we are watching a eastbound storm systems wreaking havoc across the Midwest. It actually wreaked havoc there yesterday, creating blizzard-like conditions.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, so bad there that officials had to pull some snowplows, even, off the roads.

Also, in neighboring Iowa, services there, some of the tow services were banned and people were warned to stay off I-35, north of Des Moines. That same system, forecasters say, now moving toward the northeast, expected to dump as much as 11 inches in some spots. That's in addition to the mounds of snow leftover from Friday's nasty storm.


HOLMES: What people can't believe is that you geniuses, you meteorologists, break it up and say winter started, what was it, two hours ago, now?

WOLF: Yeah, we're just a few hours into it. We have makeshift confetti. Yay, wintertime! There we go.

HOLMES: You're going to celebrate.

WOLF: Yeah, exactly.

HOLMES: But no, this is one of those things, I better not give you a hard time, but there is a reason winter officially started...

WOLF: Absolutely. I mean, we split the year up in four seasons, and this is the winter season. I'll tell you what, though, I mean, you take away the calendar, I mean, winter officially began, I mean, you can say forget about the calendar, I mean, it's here, it's been here for awhile. And many people are catching the full brunt of it.

The problem is we've got that -- the issue of people trying to get to visit their loved ones, the holidays, and you have some of the worse weather that we've seen in quite a while from many places, including the Northeast, the Northwest and the center of the United States.

Let's go right to the weather computer, if we can for a moment, and show you some of the pending delays we're going to have. These are the expected delays for both the airports in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, expecting delays upwards of an hour. Same deal in Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit.

Milwaukee, by the way, remember Milwaukee, Mitchell Airport was actually shutdown just a few days ago, completely closed for service, that could happen again today if the weather, certainly, calls for that. And Cleveland back to Pittsburgh and Seattle and Portland, same story, winter weather.

Let's get right to it and show you some of the issues that we're dealing with, starting off in the Northeast, then we're going to push our way back towards the West. In the Northeast, it is mainly a -- we've had winter advisories and we've got some heavy snow right along parts of 81.

If you're traveling from Burlington, you're trying to make your way down to the big city, be careful. This high mountain passes, that snow is going to continue just to pour on down. We're going to be seeing up to a foot in some places in the highest peaks. But, when you have the wind pushing through, again, just the highest passes, you're going to have a lot of issues. If you happen to be in a Winnebago, high profile vehicle, certainly not good for you.

In Boston, three to six inches of snowfall, possible. In parts of Michigan, not so much in Detroit, but into parts of northern Michigan, including the U.P., you could see anywhere from four to eight inches of snowfall. Six to 10 in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, Minneapolis, southward into places like Sioux Falls and Cedar Rapids, the wind is going to be gusting like crazy. You're going to have some wind gusts topping 30, 40 and 50 miles-an-hour.

And we have temperatures that are already below zero in places like Fargo and Minneapolis, where it's 12 below, currently. And up in Winnipeg, you've got eight, minus eight. At this time, Rapid City, one degree below zero. Then you bring in the wind. Take a look, that's what it feels like right now to the exposed skin. And if you happen to be in Sioux Falls, you're 36 degrees below zero, that's your wind-chill factor.

Des Moines, 28. In Chicago, 32 along Michigan Avenue, so rough times for you, to say the least.

As we make our way back out to parts of the Pacific Northwest, snow is going to be a tremendous issue for parts of the Cascades, anywhere from eight to 18 inches of snowfall. Meanwhile, back in parts of Sierra, Nevada, anywhere from 18 to 28 inches of snowfall along portions of 80. For Boise, seven to 14, and parts of Salt Lake City, up near Snowbird, great times to you, up to a foot of snow, possible. Certainly a rough time. People catching the full brunt of winter on this is the first official day of winter. Actually a few hours old, seven-something-or-other. T.J., let's send it back to you.

HOLMES: Just a few hours. Whoa, winter just started.

NGUYEN: Yeah, it feels like it has been around for weeks, though, Reynolds.

WOLF: It really does.

HOLMES: All right, Renny,(ph) thanks, buddy.

WOLF: See you guys.

NGUYEN: OK, so we are watching our affiliates across the northeast. Want to give alive picture from WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire. You can see a little grainy in those pictures there because it's awfully cold outside from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Here's a look, as well, in front of Lambeau Field. That is from WLUK. And you can see folks trying to clear away some of the snow. CNN, of course, monitoring the weather, and we will bring you the latest.

HOLMES: All right, he already promised a lot, now he's promising more. President-elect Barack Obama now upgrading his plans, saying he wants to create three million jobs over the next two years, that's up from 2.5 million. Our political director, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now live from Washington.

And I said he wants to create three million. Create or save. We need to get the language right. Create or save, is what he's saying, three million jobs. So, tell us why he's upping the number and what that means by create or save?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah well, Democratic officials telling our Ed Henry that this all happened after Tuesday, that's when Barack Obama received some new reports on the recession. And you know what? It's worse than expected. And as you just mentioned, create or save, economic forecasters are saying there could be a million or maybe more jobs lost in the upcoming year, ahead.

So, that's what he wants to do. The president-elect wants to create or save jobs, up to three million over his first two years in office, T.J.

And Democratic officials are also telling us that Obama challenged his transition economic team to think bolder, think bolder in how in having to tackle these tough economic times. Obama said, after meeting with economists from the left and right, that strong action was need. Here's what he said on Friday when he spoke to reporters, T.J.


BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT-ELECT: With credit freezing up, with businesses laying off workers, with a continued weakness in the housing market, and escalating foreclosures, that unless you had a bold approach you could see the economy continuing to decline at a pretty rapid clip. That is not acceptable to me. And I don't think it's acceptable to the American people.


STEINHAUSER: So, how's he going to do all this? He's going to spend money, that's how. He's going spend money to get out to jumpstart the economy. He's going to -- proposing to spend money on the nation's infrastructure, roads, bridges, tunnels, schools, healthcare systems, money for states that are having tough times right now balancing their budgets and paying for basic services for citizens.

T.J., what we have not heard, though, is the price tag. Obama did not talk about that or did not give a number when he was asked by reporters on Friday. We're hearing that it could be at least a half a billion dollars. And when would this all happen? After he takes office on January 20 -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, you know, coming up with a plan to create all these jobs, that's tough work. You can use vacation, maybe. Hawaii sounds good. Barack Obama, yes, heading out to Hawaii. He made it out there. Now, I mean, many wouldn't argue he has work to do, but still, the man could use a little R&R, but is it going to be all R&Rr over the holidays for the president-elect?

STEINHAUSER: Not all R&R, 12 days there in Hawaii. Why Hawaii? Remember he spent much of his childhood, there, went to high school there, still has family there, but not all R&R. He's going to spend some time working on transition, of course, and we're hearing that he will attend a memorial for his grandmother who died just before the election. He'll do that, as well, while he is out there -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Paul Steinhauser, our deputy political director. Always, good to have you, thank you so much, buddy.


NGUYEN: Well, there has been a lot of talk about California pastor, Rick Warren. President-elect Barack Obama has been drawing some criticism, in fact, for inviting him, Warren, to speak at the inauguration. And last night Warren was the keynote speaker at the Muslim Public Affairs Council's annual convention in California. Take a listen.


WARREN: I love Muslims.


I also happen to love Hindus, and Jews, and Buddhists. Now, this one will shock you. I happen to love Democrats and Republicans. And for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: Warren is known for his outspoken views against gay marriage. He is a public supporter of California's Proposition 8. Obama has defended the choice saying that the country needs to come together, even if we don't agree on every issue.

And for all the latest news and notes from the world of politics, be sure to check out all you have to do is log on for news and analysis from the best political team on television.

HOLMES: Well, a big part of the day, big part of our coverage has been about the weather, and for good reason. A big storm has been making its way across the country, really, blanketing many parts of it. Detroit not immune to it, still trying to dig out from its first big snowstorm. Reporter Silvia or Silva, rather, Haropetian, from our affiliate, WDIV, is Detroit, joining us there now live.

We see you in that dark clothing and all that white around you. We see that's certainly a stark contrast, there, and we also see cars moving. So, give us the situation.

SILVA HAROPETIAN, WDIV REPORTER: Yeah, you know, a lot of us have done a lot of shoveling in the past few days, and take a look, the wind, a huge problem, today. We've got gusts of about 30-25 miles-an-hour, and I want you to look at that flag over there. That is a pretty good indication of what we've been seeing, today.

The problem, we had about three inches of snow, yesterday, and it's the fluffy snow, and with the wind blowing, it's causing a huge visibility problem here, for drivers. Also, this new coat of snow is covering everything that we had yesterday, and although crews were trying to plow and salt yesterday, it doesn't matter, because when the temperatures drop as far as they have, yesterday and today, all of this turns into ice, then you have the new coat of snow on top, well, that becomes problematic, with people taking it a little bit too fast on the roadways.

We had a lot of spinouts and crashes. In fact, we had really, an amazing close-call, yesterday, a five-crash accident on one of the highways, fortunately, nobody was hurt. But, I think people are starting to figuring out that winter is finally here, and taking it slow on the highways.

But again, we've got snow coming in, still today. The wind a problem, today. Five degrees of temperate drop, every hour, today, so you can tell, about 22 degrees where I am, but it definitely feels like 10. So, terrible conditions and disastrous driving conditions here in Detroit, and we're trying to dig ourselves out of it and hopefully we won't get any more.

HOLMES: Well, good luck digging yourselves out of it. Yes, winter has made it and officially, just two hours ago, if we can believe that. But Silva Haropetian of WDIVR (sic), affiliate there in Denver -- excuse me, in Detroit. Thank you so much.

NGUYEN: And speaking of Denver, T.J., we want to take you there live, now. because we are getting our first daylight aerial pictures. This courtesy of KUSA and that is that Continental Flight 1404 that we understand had an accident there on the runway, last night. Thirty- eight people suffered broken bones and bruises.

What happened, is it veered off the runway and then caught fire as it was attempting to take off Denver International Airport. We understand, from witnesses, that the entire right side of the jet was on fire at one moment. But, you see it there, sitting off of the runway, at this hour. Obviously, an investigation is underway.

There was one person, though, of those 38 people who are injured, that one person still in serious condition this morning, although we are told that it appears that none of the victims have burns. So, that is good news, considering the fire that engulfed part of the plane, yesterday.

Also want to let you know that this flight was bound from Denver to Houston, yesterday evening. Continental issued a statement saying it's collecting information about the accident and as always, the investigators are on scene and they'll be determining exactly what went wrong.

There were 112 people onboard at the time, five crew members and once again, 38 people suffered broken bones or bruises because of that accident there off the runway in Denver.

HOLMES: Yeah, kind of a surreal and almost sad picture there to tell the story. Those are the first daylight pictures of it. But that's it, kind of sitting there off alone by itself. No real word on what caused the accident, because, yes, it was cold, and we've seen bad weather happening across the country, but in Denver, in just so happened to be not any precipitation coming, wasn't having any bad snow or any bad sleet or rain or anything else, so no word on why it might have happened. But the word was from passengers and witnesses that, in fact, the right side of that plane was what caught on fire and ended up in the position it's in, right there, But everybody got off there, 38, like Betty mentioned, injured. We will continue to follow the story throughout the morning. Stay here, a lot more to come on the CNN SUNDAY MORNING, on this story and much more.


HOLMES: Well, the search for toddler Caylee Anthony is over. Remains that were found earlier in the week or last, have been identified as the toddler. But the search continues now for evidence and that search continues inside her grandparents' home.

Investigators served Cindy and George Anthony a third warrant, yesterday, to comb the place for possible clues. Both grandparents were present during that search.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's never a good time for anybody that lost their granddaughter and they have that information that they've just received. It's devastating information to them. Obviously we've going to treat this -- them with respect as well, due to the fact that the pain that they are going through. But, we also have an investigation to continue to process, evidence that needs to be recovered, and we will continue to do that in the coming days and weeks as is necessary.

HOLMES: Caylee and her mother lived in the house before Caylee disappeared last summer. Her mother, Casey, facing murder charges right now, among other things.

Investigators searched the Anthony home. Sympathizers, meanwhile, continue to gather to a memorial close to where Caylee's remains were found. People affected by the little girl's tragic story left flowers, notes, stuffed animals and their prayers.

Eric von Ancken, from CNN affiliate, WKMG in Orlando, for us now.


KATHERINE CUBANO, MEMORIAL VISITOR: Dear sweet, precious Caylee...

ERIC VON AKEN, WKMG REPORTER: A note for a little girl Katherine Cubano (ph) never knew, but wished she had.

CUBANO: I am a 45-year-old women who could not bear a child. I would have been extremely blessed to have had a beautiful little girl like you. I want you to know that I am sad and hurt with how your life was abruptly ended without even yet beginning.

VON AKEN: Her note is neatly nestled where others mementos, where the hope has now left Hopespring Drive. Never before has this has this corner seen so much grief, so many people, all day, with so much hurt.

This little girl could not help from being drawn in. The resemblance is heart wrenching.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy, I want a balloon.

THERESA DAVIDSON, MEMORIAL VISITOR: Those are Caylee's balloons.

She would see the pictures of Caylee on the news, and would scream, that's me. I guess just because of her age and how she looked similar to Caylee, and a lot of things that she would do at home was similar to Caylee, and playing house, and watching "SpongeBob squarepants." I just couldn't see where somebody could take a child like this and harm it. When I got to the corner, and it's just emotional.

VON AKEN: Caylee's memory lives on in so many other's memories.

CUBANO: Although we never met, I love you and I will forever miss you and your sweet smile, and your big precious brown eyes of innocence. I am very sorry this has happened to you.


HOLMES: Well, after 10 days of searching the site where Caylee's remains were discovered, investigators removed the crime scene tape yesterday, that is allowing now people can to pay their respects at the site where Caylee was found.

NGUYEN: Want to take you know to the site in Denver where Continental Flight 1404 landed right off the runway after an accident, there last night. Thirty-eight people suffered broken bones and bruises. We're told that the entire right side of the jet was on fire at one time during that accident. No word on exactly what caused it at this time, but of course, investigators are on the scene. Again, some live pictures coming to us right now from Denver, Colorado, as we look at what is left of Flight 1404. We're going to stay on the story and bring you the latest just as soon as we get it.


NGUYEN: Well, thousands of people are fleeing Zimbabwe's borders, afraid of the political situation, there and the ongoing outbreak of cholera. More than 1,000 people have died, thousands more are sick, yet President Robert Mugabe has said that there is no outbreak, completely denies it. Well, CNN's Tim Lister has more on the growing pressure for Mugabe to leave power and his defiant stance on staying put.


TIM LISTER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From crisis to disaster, and now to the verge of catastrophe, Zimbabwe is stalked by cholera and malnutrition, its infrastructure has collapsed. Its currency is worth nothing. This week, the central bank issued one, five and $10 billion notes, the five billion is worth less than $10.

It's a nation that was once the hope of southern Africa, a food exporter with inflation in single digits, a robust health system. Now the plight of its people is drowned out by the slings and arrows of President Mugabe and his enemies in the impearlists West.

PRES ROBERT MUGABE, ZIMBABWE: I will never, never fail my country. I will never, never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine. I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe never for the British.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT SPOKESMAN: Well, last time the world checked Zimbabwe belonged to the people of Zimbabwe.

LISTER: It's a dialogue of the death. And three months ago Mugabe agreed to a National Unity Government after disputed elections. On and off negotiations now threaten to collapse completely.

In Harare and the headlines in the state-run paper continue to defy gravity. The faces, resignation, exhaustion tell a different story.

And to the West, the European Union, the United States, even to others in Africa, that story will only begin to change when Harare goes.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We support those who have been democratically elected politicians of Zimbabwe and not those who remain in power simply because they have held on to power when the electorate has not supported them. LISTER: But, Mugabe has a loyal inner circle including the military brass. Removing him would require the active support of Zimbabwe's neighbors, something Washington badly wants.

MCCORMACK: And we think that it's time for all countries who have, what I refer to as unused leverage, to use that leverage.

LISTER: A jab at south Africa. United Nations secretary general is also critical of the way Zimbabwe's neighbors have resisted a role in the U.N. in resolving the political stalemate. But for now, U.N. and other agencies try to bandage Zimbabwe's gaping wounds, while argument is rages over who should run the country.

Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Well, Iraqi lawmakers have rejected the first draft of a bill that would extend the stay of foreign troops in Iraq after December 31. The bill does not apply, however, to U.S. troops. This cause a few issues for Britain who has the second largest of troops in Iraq. Iraqi cabinet members will now rework the bill before resubmitting it to lawmakers.

NGUYEN: A Nobel Prize winner taken by police in Iran. Authorities raided Shirin Ebadi's office in Tehran and she tells CNN that she was also taken into custody, but hasn't given many more details. Ebadi is a noted human rights activist in Iran. She actually won the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2003. She also runs a human rights center in Iran's capital.

And another live look here. You can't make it out too well in this picture, but what you're seeing right there, in the middle, you can see it there, now, that is the plane, Continental Flight 1404 that was headed to Houston, that had an issue last night in Denver. Thirty- eight people were injured, one of them we know of is seriously. This thing skidded off the runway. Don't know why, what happened, but reportedly the plane, the right side of it, caught on fire. We continue to follow developments i9n this story and many more this morning. Stay with us here on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING.


NGUYEN: Hello everybody, good morning on this Sunday. Welcome back. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes. Investigators still searching for what caused Continental Flight 1404 to skid off the run off the runway and catch fire. You're looking at a live picture of it, the first daylight pictures, we are getting live there out of KUSA. Passengers have been describing a terrifying scene.


GABRIEL TREJOS, PASSENGER: On my side of the plane, I could see the engine. I noticed it was on fire. I could feel the heat coming from the window, because I was on the window side of the plane. I could feel the heat, and I started to smelling the smoke from the engine that was on fire. You could smell the plastic and the gas -- whatever what was burning.


NGUYEN: The 112 people onboard escaped using the emergency slides. At least 38 were hurt, though, and one of them seriously injured. Continental Airlines issued this statement regarding yesterday's accident, saying: "Continental and Denver International Airport are providing assistance to the passengers. The company is in the process of collecting additional information and will communicate additional information once it is known."

HOLMES: All right. Seriously, Winter officially started today. Actually started just over two hours ago, officially, however snowstorms expected to dump 11 inches in some northeastern spots, that's on top of the snowy and icy mix left over from Friday's deep freeze.

There's been at least one weather-related death to report, this was in Massachusetts. A man there was killed when a tree limb fell on him. The weather also making driving a bit treacherous and tricky, as you can imagine.

Frustration also, in parts of New Hampshire, thousands of people are still without power and they will do whatever it takes to get out of the dark. Reporter Cria Sakakini (ph) from our affiliate WMUR explains.


CRIA SAKAKINI WMUR REPORTER: It's a sight that is supposed to bring joy to folks without power, but some are so desperate for help, they're taking desperate measures.

BOB SCHOENBERGER, UNI-TEL: We have actually had a citizen drive one of our crews off the road to stop them. We've actually had someone climb on to the back of one of our bucket trucks and refuse to get off.

SAKAKINI: Bob Shoenberger or Uni-Tel met Sea Coast police chiefs about the growing threat to line crews. They've even placed a police officer outside their Kensington operations center where angry customers have come demanding power.

CHIEF WAYNE SHEEHAN, KENSINGTON POLICE DEPT: It was pounding on the door, and really, really angry and upset, and the officer that I had on duty at that particular time called for a back up unit.

SAKAKINI: The anger loud and clear from these signs in Exodor (ph) where residents have gone eight days in the dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people are frustrated and angry and impatient and they want answers.

SAKAKINI: Uni-Tel has 35 trucks out there up from the normal seven, and crews are working around-the-clock shifts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're work for 17 hours and then you get seven hours rest.

SAKAKINI: Uni-Tel says their goal now and in the future is to make sure towns are better informed about when and where crews will be working. As Kensington's police chief found, information and lending an ear are the best solutions.

SHEEHAN: And near the end of the conversation, the general was near tears, and you can't blame him because he wants to get his life back to normal.


HOLMES: Yeah, don't know how quickly that's going to happen. Reynolds, still a few issues happening out there and certainly the airports not getting back to normal anytime soon.

WOLF: No. No, absolutely now. I mean, things are going to start building up. This is really the best part of the day in terms of your travel. What's going to happen later on today, the sheer volume of people with the weather really intensifying, the storm is intensifying. That's a double dose that's going to give you all kinds of problems like places in your New York metro airports, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia. The combination of snow, freezing rain, low clouds of wind are going cause some backups, there. And also in Chicago, parts of the Midwest.

Back into Cleveland, Pittsburgh, you might see anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour delay and back into the Pacific Northwest, hey, you've got some issues there too. So the northern half of the continent all dealing with all kinds of weather problems.

Here's one of the big issues that we're dealing with. Issue for parts of you in the northern Plains, parts of the Midwest, you've got an area of low pressure that's moving right across the Great Lakes. Wind spins around this in a counter clockwise fashion. But this area of high pressure is a clockwise fashion. So think of this as being almost like a conveyor belt pulling in a lot of cold air. Not just cold, but downright frigid.

Take a look at some of these temperatures that we have behind me. Two degrees right now in Fargo, heavens help you. If you happen to be in Bismarck, it's nine below, Sioux Falls, eight below, Minneapolis, let's see, 12 below, you're double digits there, in Chicago, same thing. But that's only part of the story, those are just the temperatures. When you bring in the wind, and that wind is going to be just brutal today, in many places.

Here's what it feels like outside. Fargo, 26 degrees below zero. Duluth, there you go, look at this, Minneapolis, about 36 below, Chicago, 30 below along Michigan Avenue. Denver about 14 below. Your daytime high temperatures, this is how it's going to be, again, this is not your wind chill, here, this is just your basic surface temperatures. And look at the difference, St. Louis, six degrees. In Atlanta, you're currently at 45, what a difference you have, there. That's that funnel boundary coming through, the contrast of it, the air mass is really mild conditions, all things considered, in parts of the Southeast. That colder air is just going to stay locked in place for today. It's going to be there for tomorrow, also. That area of high pressure giving you beautiful conditions across much of Missouri, but that cold air is going nowhere, it's going to remain right in that area.

So, brutal times ahead. Certainly, if you don't have to go outside, don't. And as we have been telling you all day long, if you don't have to get out there and drive on those icy roadways, stay home. Watch us here on CNN. Betty, T.J.

NGUYEN: And thank goodness for online shopping, right?

WOLF: Exactly.

NGUYEN: That'll help out tremendously with the roadways as treacherous as they are. Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: Anytime, guys.

NGUYEN: Speaking of helping out, especially when it comes to children badly injured in the warzone. One woman making a difference any way that you can. CNN's Melissa Long has more on her attempts to make kids whole again.


MELISSA LONG, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ellisa Montanti's mission began when she saw a letter from a boy in Bosnia who was badly injured in a landmine explosion during the war. Kenan Malkic (ph) was 11 years old when he lost both of his arms and one leg.

ELISSA MONTANTI, GLOBAL MEDICAL RELIEF FUND: I read the letter and saw the picture, and my whole life changed.

LONG: Montanti brought Malkic and his mother to the U.S.

MONTANTI: They lived with me for four months, and Kenan received prosthetics, two arms and a leg and new life.

LONG: She didn't stop there.

MONTANTI: I started to bring children. At first we stayed in my home and then it evolved.

LONG: Montanti founded the nonprofit, Global Medical Relief Fund, it provides surgeries and prosthetics to children injured in wars or natural disasters, like the recent earthquake in China.

Places like the Shiners Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, have donate medical care and funding from private donors allows patients to come back in a few years to fit their growing bodies with new prosthetics.

Montanti's helped more than 70 children since Kenan Malkic's letter first touched her heart in 1996. He's all grown up now, and is helping Montanti.

MONTANTI: In a lot of ways the charity has become much, much more than prosthetics. We're giving back a child their youth and their dignity that has been so unfairly taken away from them.


HOLMES: Well, the U.S. could be sending more troops in Afghanistan. The military says that the 30,000 more beginning next year. CNN's Atia Abawi, live in Kabul for us with this report.

Atia, tell us about it.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi T.J. Well, yes, 30,000 is a new number we have heard. For the past few months we've heard 20,000, that's with four extra brigades that General McKiernan, the commander in Afghanistan, has asked for.

The 10 extra thousand -- I've talked to Colonel Greg Julian, here in Kabul, he's a spokesperson for the U.S. forces, he tells us that's support personnel, such as helicopters engineer, and MedeVac doctors, military police. Colonel Greg Julian says that new brigade -- that first brigade are supposed to show up in January, then that's going to be about 3,500 to 4,000 new troops. And they're followed by an aviation brigade.

Colonel Julian also told us that he has heard reports that the Taliban say that it doesn't matter how many brigades come to Afghanistan, they're still going to fight the fight and they see that they're still going to win. And Colonel Julian says, "They know it will lead to their defeat" -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yeah, well, you're talking about lead to their defeat and the fight continuing, but how quickly could these more troops -- how quickly could we see them there?

ABAWI: Well, that first brigade will be coming in January. It's going to be about 3,500 to 4,000 troops. They should be arriving mid to late January, following, as I said, an aviation brigade, brining in helicopters, MedeVac copters.

They need these helicopters because the terrain is hard terrain to cover, particularly by ground. They need to fly over, they need those MedeVacs, they need the helicopters to help the ground troops defeat the Taliban at the moment.

Right now, it's a hard battle, and they are asking for four new brigades, that's 20,000 troops. That's going to make a tremendous effort for the U.S. troops, and they're hoping that their NATO allies will also follow-through and bring in U.S. troops, particularly with the British troops, as well as the other (INAUDIBLE) forces -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Atia Abawi for us in Kabul. Atia, thank you so much.

NGUYEN: And back in Denver, we want to give you another look at the plane Flight 1404 from Continental Airlines. Kind of hard to see in this picture, but you look in the middle of the screen, right there, you see the tail end of that plane sticking up in the air and you can see a little bit of a glare off the sun from it.

That is the flight that injured 38 people as it skidded off the runway, last night. The right side of that jet actually caught fire. But, we are told that of those 38 injured, none of them appear to be burn victims. So, that is good news. Still looking for more information as to exactly what happened. We're on the story and we'll bring you the latest.


NGUYEN: Well, the uncertainty of the economy is making first-time and even long-time homeowners very nervous about keeping a roof over their head.

HOLMES: Yeah, but as CNN's Ted Rowlands explains, there is a group of homeowners out there who rarely lose their homes to foreclosure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's your key.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were plenty of tears this weekend as the Gaxiola family received a key to a brand new Habitat for Humanity house in Los Angeles.

VERONICA GAXIOLA, RECEIVED HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HOME: It's a beautiful house, and thanks to every one of you guys (INAUDIBLE) to help us to get our dream-come-true house.

ROWLANDS: The family of five, including father, Jose, who is legally blind, are going from an apartment in a crime-ridden area to this three-bedroom, two-bath home complete with an elevator for Jose and a much safer neighborhood for the kids.

CARLOS GAXIOLA, RECEIVED HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HOME: The most I go outside is to go to school or church and come back home.

ROWLANDS: The Gaxiola's don't get this house for free, they do have a mortgage, like anybody else. Given Habitat for Humanity's track record, odds are they'll be able to live here as long as they'd like. Of the more than 250,000 homes built by Habitat for Humanity , less than one percent have ended up in foreclosure.

JO AN TURMAN, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: That family that worked so hard all these years to become homeowners and finally have obtained the homeownership, they usually try to do whatever they have to do to keep their homes with us.

ROWLANDS: The reason for Habitat's success can be traced back to the lending system. The Gaxiola's, for example, will be paying $750 a month, about 35 percent of their income. The mortgage is no interest for $135,000 over 20 years.

There was no down payment required, but Gaxiola's, like every family, put in 500 hours of work during construction. They also took classes in basic finance and home repair.

But most importantly, organizers say, the lender is Habitat for Humanity, so if a payment is missed or job is lost, there's an open line of communication to help keep them in the house.

TURMAN: We have worked with a lot of people, especially in the past two years, who have been late on their payments and almost near default, but somehow they have been able to come back through.

ROWLANDS: Although Jose Gaxiola was hospitalized this week, the family is looking forward to spending their first Christmas of many together in their new house.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


NGUYEN: Well, this weekend, find out how to recover from this current financial crisis. Ali Velshi leads you down the path toward taking control of your finances and learning to grow your money. Don't miss it, it's called "Gimme Me My Money Back," CNN, tonight, 8:00 Eastern.

HOLMES: All right, almost 10:00, time for us to check in, in Washington, with Howard Kurtz to see what we got coming up on RELIABLE SOURCES.

Good morning to you, Howard.


Coming up, Rod Blagojevich comes out swinging, "poetry," and says absolutely about the charges against him. How do journalists deal with an embattled governor who won't take questions?

She's always been treated as royalty, now she wants to be a senator. But Caroline Kennedy gets thrown for a loss by New York's tabloid press. Plus, an exclusive sit-down with Whoopi Goldberg, and the new moderator has got plenty to say about the media, politics, racial issues and an incident of what she calls "sloppy reporting" that really hurt her career. I had a fascinating time talking to her in New York. Here's a brief taste of her talking about her role on the "View."


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ENTERTAINER: Well, I don't like to argue, I like to talk about stuff. I like to have lots of great discussions, and better they should pay me well and do it on television.


KURTZ: Whoopi and a lot more, coming up on RELIABLE SOURCES. Back to you, T.J.

HOLMES: We, of course, will be turned in. Howie, it's always good to see you. Thank you so much. See you here shortly.

NGUYEN: Also, watching this very closely, of course, that plane accident there in Denver, Colorado, Continental Flight 1404. Thirty- eight people injured. Today investigators will be on the scene to determine exactly what happened.


HOLMES: All right, time to get our game on, as they say. It is one of the biggest risks a parent takes when they purchase their young one's video games or Internet games. Dan Rauzi is the senior director of technology of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and he joins us now to explain where parents are simply dropping the ball when it comes to their child's safety.

Really dropping the ball? Is it just because a lot of parents don't know about these games, they've never played them, they're just trusting that their kids are picking the right ones?

DAN RAUZI, BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA: Our kids today are growing up in a technological world that many of us didn't have to deal with. And so, it really is important that parents educate themselves about the different things their children are doing with electronic media, whether it's games, whether they're on the Internet, whether it's with their cell phone. There's all different ways that our kids today are connected.

NGUYEN: Yeah. Well, but if you don't play these games, they can be a little intimidating. But you say, it's as easy as just looking at the package because you'll know how it's rated. Correct?

RAUZI: Sure, correct. The Electronic Software Ratings Board has created ratings for all of the games that are out there. And if you look on the front cover of the game, you'll see a letter. Like this one's rated "M" which means mature. That means you want to keep this for 17 and older adults, et cetera.

NGUYEN: And this one says "T" for teens.

RAUZI: "T" for teens. And you not only want to look at the cover rating, but you actually want to take the back of the game and look, because it will not only give you the rating, but it will say why that game was rated the way it was.

NGUYEN: Gotcha, but let's look this one called "Call of Duty II." It's "T" for teens, right?

RAUZI: Yeah.

NGUYEN: So, you're thinking this is OK for my teenage daughter or son. But, I have to ask you about this. I've watched my little sister play these games and there are lots of tricks and little hidden things inside the games that you don't really know about. So, how can you trust it?

RAUZI: Well, one best things to do is actually play the game with your child. Sit down with them, talk through the game. That way, not only are you having fun with your son or daughter, but you're also giving a chance to infuse your values into the game. So, that you're helping them distinguish what's going on the screen from real life, you're starting that conversation.

NGUYEN: Yeah, creating that dialogue.

RAUZI: And it's really the most important thing is talking with your son or daughter about how they're using games, how they're using the Internet, how they're using their cell phones.

NGUYEN: And like you said, it's a great opportunity for them to actually beat you at a game, which they're going to love, without a doubt.

RAUZI: That's right.

NGUYEN: One more thing I want to ask you about very quickly : the Internet. We talked about video games, now when it comes to the Internet, instant messages, chat rooms, Web sites, things like that. How do you protect your kids?

RAUZI: First of all, most important thing is talk with your kids about how they're using the Internet. You can take the computer out of the bedroom, put it in a public place so that you can wander by and just see what's going on. If they're on a social networking, make sure you set up a profile and that you made sure that your son or daughter has made you one of their friends, so you can check what they're putting up on their profile.

NGUYEN: Do you get all their passwords and all of that so you can monitor, or is that stepping across the bounds?

RAUZI: Again, you want to talk with your child and figure out what works for you. You certainly can do that. You can also, as I said, if you set yourself up as a friend, you see what they're putting out for the rest of the world to see.

NGUYEN: That's the FaceBooks and MySpace and all that stuff of the world. Thank you so much for your time today, we do appreciate it. Good information.

RAUZI: Thank you.

NGUYEN: T.J., I know you're gamer.

HOLMES: Not so much.

NGUYEN: No? You have the Wii a little bit, right?

HOLMES: HOLOK, I've got the Wii in the bedroom. Sorry.

NGUYEN: Go ahead and admit it. HOLMES: You had to put me out there like that. But, thank you, Betty.

But, we will turn now back to this live picture we have been keeping an eye on, in Denver. Right in the middle of your screen, daylight, first daylight pictures, we're getting, live. These ones from KUSA, our affiliate out there. And what you're seeing there is that plane, Continental Flight 1404, which ran off the runway last night. Thirty- eight people aboard were injured, no deaths to report, but one serious injury among those 38, mostly bumps and bruises, but we don't exactly know what happened. Right side of the plane, apparently, reportedly, caught on fire. We will continue to follow that and much more here on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING.


HOLMES: Well, exactly how is the economy affecting your holiday plans? We've been hearing from you all that this morning.

NGUYEN: Yeah, our Josh Levs has been looking at your e-mails that you've been sending in. So, what are people saying -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they're writing to us like crazy. I'm want to bang through a bunch of them. It's interesting, you know, some people happy, some people, some sad stories. Let's start off with this one.

Gail: "I'm 64 years old and this is the first time in my life there are no presents under the tree. If you can call a small 6-year-old artificial plant a tree."

But then Brent Nelson says things aren't different for him. "I have the ultimate in job security, U.S. military." He's in the U.S. Navy.

"We were forced financially to give up the commercialization of Christmas, as we once knew it. I do have my family and a couple of close friends and their families to share love. I'm a single man, yet very blessed this holiday season. Thanks, and be blessed," from Robert. That's a nice e-mail.

This one, Alan in Ohio, "I spent more because I have more friends in need and I felt like giving."

How about this from LouAann, "We've been fortunate, thus far, but I find myself cutting back this year about 50 percent in anticipation of continued economic downturns."

And I think we got time for two more quickies, "Honestly, this has been a great year with all the sales and zero percent financing, I have been able to buy larger ticket items," from Bill in Pittsburgh.

And let's end with this, "Our Christmas is no different than it ever has been, we have never bought big luxury items." Thanks to Marilyn in Kansas.

Folks, you can keep them coming, You can also go to, send your videos, your photos, your stories about what your holidays are going to be like. We'll keep an eye on those, bring some to you, right here, on TV.

NGUYEN: All right, thank you, Josh.

HOLMES: Betty, you and I have been going back and forth with shopping, trying to figure out what to get for me. Do not get me anything like this.

NGUYEN: You don't want an ugly sweater?

HOLMES: A lot of people have these ugly sweaters, unfortunately. Danielle Sedouski (ph) shot this photo of her friends Jamie and Piper modeling, if you can call it that, their Christmas sweatshirts.

NGUYEN: Well, listen to this. Actually more so, look at this.

HOLMES: Oh my word.

NGUYEN: It even has the turtleneck to go with it. Jason Tarman (ph) found his sparkly sequin sweater at Goodwill, but he wasn't quite happy enough, so he added a Christmas tree ornament of a fake bird -- oh, really -- he added that on the shoulder.

HOLMES: Nice touch.

NGUYEN: Yeah, creative, there.

HOLMES: Well, if you have a photo or video of an ugly holiday sweater, send it to us at

Do you have one?

NGUYEN: The photo, not the sweater, please.

HOLMES: Do you have a sweater? Do you have ugly...

NGUYEN: No, I don't -- well, I don't have any Christmas sweaters. I'm sure I have plenty of ugly sweaters, they just don't have Christmas trees and ornaments on them.

HOLMES: I want to talk to you about the...

NGUYEN: Coming up next on RELIABLE SOURCES, comedian Whoopi Goldberg shares her view on the president-elect and the upcoming historic inauguration.

HOLMES: Also, 11:00 Eastern, LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer, economy in crisis. Could the president's $17 billion auto bailout loan save America's car industry and help create some jobs? We'll check into that at 11:00 with LATE EDITION, but well, we got some headlines for you.

In Denver, we've been showing you this picture here, that horrible accident at the Denver airport. A Continental Airlines jet veered off the runway last night, caught fire. These are the first daylight pictures we've seen. Nobody killed here, but at least 38 people suffered broken bones and bruises.

Also the weather. The Northeast, the Northwest, everybody's bracing for another major winter storm just a day after being hit by heavy snow and bone chilling temperatures. One death to report in all this weather.

Also, the U.S. could send more troops to Afghanistan, up to 30,000 more, that's according to the military. Two-thirds of that number would be ground forces used to join the fight against the Taliban.

We'll have more top stories coming your way in 30 minutes, but RELIABLE SOURCES begins right now.