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CNN Sunday Morning

Gaza City Explosions; Mideast Protests; Inauguration Dress Rehearsal; Obama Job Creating; Israeli Reservists Duty; Golden Globe Picks

Aired January 11, 2009 - 9:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: He is facing one of the worse financial crises in generations, now the president-elect admits that he may not be able to deliver on all of his campaign promises, at least not right away.
TJ HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: But first, this is happening right now, explosions in Gaza City. We have pictures here to show you, live pictures of the fighting that has been intense, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the city.

NGUYEN: Get straight to our Paula Hancocks. She is on the Israeli/Gaza border joining us live.

Paula, we have been watching smoke billow into the air. What do you know about the fighting that is taking place in Gaza?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well Betty, from our sources on the ground, we do understand that there is heavy fighting just on the outskirts of Gaza City. And also within the last hour, we have heard very heavy fighting in the northeast of Gaza, itself. Now the area where they appear to be targeting the Israeli military was the same area that, just 15 minutes earlier, we've seen two rockets being launched from.

Now, certainly there was heavy machinegun fire and the Israeli military was also dropping what appear to be smoke bombs. It's not entirely clear what these -- what this military material is, but certainly it obscures much of the area and military experts would say that would give troops cover to be able to move position or to move further into an area.

So, certainly in the past couple of hours we've seen fairly expensive military action and heard a fair bit of the -- of two and fro, we could hear the machinegun fire appearing to come from both sides. But still, the rockets are managing to be launched. About five minutes ago, we saw them being launched in the area Ashkelon. A couple came over our heads an hour before. So, it's about 20 rockets still coming into Israel today -- Betty.

NGUYEN: What do you know about this talk of a cease-fire? I know there's a lot been done to try to find a way to stop this fighting, any word on your end?

HANCOCKS: Well, we do understand that Israeli officials will be heading back to Cairo, possibly tomorrow, possibly later in the week to try and hammer out a cease-fire. But the fact is the different parties all want very different things. Israel wants an end to the rocket attacks and they want to make sure that Hamas does not have the opportunity to rearm, which is why we've seen them targing the Rafah area, the southern area of Gaza so heavily because that is where the tunnels are that go from Gaza into Egypt which is where Hamas and other militants are believed to have been able to restock themselves with weaponry.

Now, what Hamas wants is for this violence to stop immediately and for all of the crossings to be opened between Egypt and Gaza and between Israel and Gaza. So, of course, that's a very different thing to what the Israelis would like to see. So, these are the details hammered out at this point. But, the facts on the ground have not changed in the slightest. Talk of cease-fire is making no difference to the progression of this operation -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right, CNN's Paula Hancocks, joining us live. Thank you, Paula.

President Bush talking about this conflict with leaders all around the world. The White House says Mr. Bush spoke with the president of Turkey yesterday to thank him for supporting the cease-fire efforts by Egypt and France. The president also talked to leaders in the Czech Republic and Bangladesh.

HOLMES: Well, people around the world, as we have been watching, have been protesting on really both sides of this Mideast conflict. We've seen these happen all over the world. We've seen some in the United States; certainly we'll show you some those here in just a second.

But also, London, Berlin, Madrid -- you're seeing some of the video of those right now in Berlin specifically. Police say about 1,000 people police say showed up there, today. They are calling on the international community to do more to stop what they call Hamas terror attacks.

In London, meanwhile, the crowd was mostly people from the Jewish community. Some were supporters of the Palestinians in Gaza who said they don't approve of Israeli's actions. And again, in Madrid, demonstrators there said they want an end to what they call genocide in Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call upon the Arab (INAUDIBLE) to open the door to Jihad.


HOLMES: Yeah, like I mentioned, this is here in the U.S. This is a pro-Palestinian demonstration in San Francisco. Protesters said they want Israel to end the assault on Gaza. Riot police were there for this demonstration, however, this was peaceful.

NGUYEN: So, let's get you to the No. 1 issue facing Americans, of course being the fragile economy. Barack Obama's economic team is meeting today with some key Senate Democrats. Our Elaine Quijano is in D.C. this morning, she joins us live.

Elaine, can we expect anything out of this meeting?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, we'll see, Betty, but it's interesting. He is not in office yet, but President-elect Barack Obama continues trying to send the message that he is taking the reins when it comes to the U.S. economy.

In his radio address this weekend, Mr. Obama said his stimulus plan could create or save up to four million jobs. He said 90 percent would be in the private sector and the remaining 10 percent in the public sector, like teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

But, in an exclusive interview with ABC News this week with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Obama was asked about the country's long-term financial picture and whether it would require painful cuts in programs like Social Security and Medicare.


BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT-ELECT: Right now, I'm focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure we get the reinvestment and recovery package in place. But, what you describe is exactly what we're going to have to do. What we have to do is take a look at our structural deficit, how were we paying for government, what are we getting for it, and how do we make the system more efficient.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: And eventually, sacrifice from everyone?

OBAMA: Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.


QUIJANO: Now, as for the economic stimulus plan, negotiations are continuing and in a rare Sunday event, the president-elect's advisers will be meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill today -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right, Elaine, thank you for that.

Well, the president-elect put aside his worries about the economy last night for a short family trip. The incoming first family visited one of Washington's most cherished shrines, that being the Lincoln Memorial. When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, he will place his hand on the same bible used by President Lincoln.

HOLMES: Well, dress rehearsals are going on right now in Washington for the January 20 inauguration. CNN's Kate Bolduan is on the National Mall to tell us about the dress rehearsal.

It looks like they planned just about everything. This is a dress rehearsal, except, OK, Obama doesn't have to be there for this one?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: One minor detail missing, YEAH, exactly, T.J.

This is a dress rehearsal and it is a full dress rehearsal. As you can see, we are expecting it to be cold on Inauguration Day and it is cold today and we are dressed for it.

They are running through the program. It's a full dress rehearsal, the pomp and circumstance, the songs, the bands. I've heard "Hail to the Chief, "I've heard the Star-Spangled Banner, many of the songs that you know so well when it comes to these kind of big celebrations.

They're really putting everyone where they need to be, standing up, sitting down, introductions, making sure people know where they're supposed to be and when. This is complete with stand-ins for the president-elect as well as the vice president-elect, Joe Biden, and their families, right down to Sasha and Malia, they're said to have stand-ins for even for those two, as well. They're really not wanting to leave anything to chance. And that's understandable, considering how historic event this event is, now only because it is such a historic swearing in, but it's also potentially historic in size, the sheer number of people that could be here.

What we're talking about, there are 240,000 ticketed guests that are going to be here for the swearing in. But listen to this, there could be up to two million people that could be coming here, many to the National Mall to try to catch a glimpse on probably some of the Jumbotrons they're planning on having here.

That's what D.C. officials are planning for. What does that mean? Well, it also means hyped-up security -- 58 law enforcement agencies, local, state, and federal, all coming together to try to make this run as smoothly as possible. D.C.'s mayor, Adrian Fenty, he spoke to CNN yesterday talking about the challenges that come with hosting such a huge event. Listen here.


MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY, D.C.: We think is there a lot of room the mall for people to stand, but getting them to the mall is the biggest logistical challenge. We're just encouraging people to take metro, encouraging them not to drive in their personal vehicles into the city, but to take these coach buses that we have 10,000 parking spaces for. That's the biggest thing going right now.


BOLDUAN: Now, another big thing that's going right now is really trying to get the word out to anyone who is planning on coming and really the do's and don'ts that come along with such a massive security operation to this inauguration. Everyone that's coming is going to have to go through a security screening and they're also putting out lists of prohibited items of what not to bring if you plan on coming down to the mall.

Some of the obvious items, I'm sure you can guess without even me telling you: Firearms, ammunition, fireworks, mace and pepper spray. There are also some items that you may not think of that people should be aware of: packages, backpacks, duffel bags, thermoses, coolers, even strollers, baby strollers, as well as umbrellas, even if there is inclement weather and it's wet.

So, they are really trying to getting the word out to plan ahead and get here early and really be ready for long lines, because, as you can see, if you're coming down here, so are about two million other people that are probably trying to get here.

But today, T.J., that's all in a week or so. Today, it's about practice, practice, practice.

HOLMES: OK, that practice, are they also practicing the security situation? I know they're going to have to close down a lot of areas. Is it not really that kind of headache for people to practice, today?

BOLDUAN: There's a little. I mean, I can see there are some roads that are open that would definitely be closed right now. They will be closing that down, because we're told they're going to be practicing the inauguration parade route, as well, after they finish up with the swearing-in ceremony practice.

But it's, I mean, large portions of the city are going to be closed down, too, pretty much all personal car traffic, come that weekend and Inauguration Day, so, it's not nearly up to that, as well. But I should tell you, a funny moment, T.J. I've seen people walk by here and you can hear on the loud speaker, you know, "President-elect Barack Obama, former President Jimmy Carter," they're announcing these names and everyone's jerking their heads around.


Did I have the date wrong? It's pretty funny.

HOLMES: Psych. Yeah, always looking forward to really use that word. All right.

BOLDUAN: I'm going right along with it. I'm like you missed it!


HOLMES: Well, that's good stuff. Kate Bolduan for us. They got stand-ins for the president-elect, but no stand-ins for our reporters, today, the real thing there, doing her job. Kate, we appreciate you this morning.

Well, we got others who are rehearsing, as well, for the big day, among them, the queen of soul. Take a listen.




HOLMES: That is Aretha -- Aretha Franklin. She will be performing at the inauguration, also cellist, Yoyo Ma. Also performing will be, classical violinist . Itzhak Perlman, also slated to perform. And the January 20 inauguration program begins at 10:00 Eastern on the west front of the Capital. Again, that's on January 2. It's not today, folks, if you happen to be there.

NGUYEN: Well, former attorney general, Roland Burris, could soon be seated as Illinois's junior senator. Illinois secretary of state, Jessie White, stamped a certificate of appointment which could make way for Burris.

Now, some Senate Democrats maintain Burris should not be seated because he was appointed by embattled Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. Lawmakers spent the weekend examining the law and the Senate rules.

HOLMES: Well, now that I have my tie straight, I can tell you about Caroline Kennedy. I wanted to make sure I look good for the people who start this story. Yes.

She had her job interview, yesterday. She met with New York governor, David Paterson. Now, of course, this daughter of the late JFK, she wants, and making no secret about it, wants to replace Senator Hillary Clinton. The governor, there in New York, he has the sole power to name the replacement for Clinton, but says he actually won't do it until Clinton is confirmed as the next secretary of state. Several others are said to be interested in that appointment, as well.

Well, coming up here, we've been covering the story about Caylee Anthony, a little girl. They know how she died, now, but a big part of it is when she died. They have an idea of when she died, but now, does that help the prosecution or the defense? Stay tuned.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, trusted by more Americans than any other news channel. Now, back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HOLMES: Forensic experts believe they have narrow down the month that Caylee Anthony was killed.

NGUYEN: Yeah, but they can't pinpoint an exact day and that could open up a window of opportunity for the defense. Some experts say defense lawyers could argue the Orlando toddler may have died in July when her mother reported her missing. Either way, though, they say the timeframe may end up deciding this case.


JASON BYRD, PH.D., FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGIST: It certainly answers the question if that timeframe dates back to June, it answers the question whether, you know, the remains had been dumped after July 15 which is when the child was reported missing.


NGUYEN: In another twist, police say the man who found Caylee's body had been arrested year ago for kidnapping. HOLMES: Going out to Oakland now, a story that a lot of people who have their eyes on and one that sparked ro protests and riots out in that city after some video was taken which appeared to show a police officer shooting a young African-American man who was laying unarmed on the ground.

Well, others are now joining this investigation. Attorney general's office is sending out an independent observer to work with the district attorney's, there. This is video we're showing you. The shooting was of a 22-year-old, his name was Oscar Grant. Sparked outrage and riots all across Oakland that we've been watching over the past several days. The district attorney office barred police and Oakland police are all separately investigating the shooting. The officer involved resigned last week.

Take you to Albany, New York now, a routine traffic stop in turned out to be anything but, it turned into a shootout. Police arrested a man accused of firing shots at a state trooper who pulled him over on Interstate 90, yesterday. The man was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Not clear yet if state troopers shot him or if he shot himself. No officers injured.

NGUYEN: Well, the gay community in Seattle takes a stand against threatening letters sent to 11 gay bars and a newspaper. The letters threatened to target the establishment with the poison Ricin. And in response the bars held a public crawl as a show of solidarity.


TIM WAGNER, BAR EMPLOYEE: It's really galvanized the gay community and supporters of the gay community. We have proven that we will now succumb to terrorism, threats, hatred fear. People are coming out in droves to show their support to the gay businesses and the bars that have been targeted.

ALLISON, EVENT ORGANIZER: People who send these kinds of letters are often more interested in the response, you know, disrupting things, seeing people, you know, fearful, seeing businesses impacted...


NGUYEN: Seattle police are investigating the letters which were sent Tuesday and some bars posted signs warning patrons not to leave their drinks unattended.

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

HOLMES: Yes, and we are working it in the severe weather headquarters about now. Look at that stuff.

NGUYEN: Those folks are working it, trying to get the snow off the sidewalks.

HOLMES: Yes. Oh, this is in Cleveland. They got about 10 inches. That's almost a foot of snow, there. Now, of course, this naturally causes some problems for people in their yards. You see there, people trying to just dig out, but of course at the airports, as well. A lot of planes had to be grounded and hundreds, that we understand.

And you, always, it's common sense, but, still, you got to tell people, slow down out there on the roads. Some people just have to get out there and refuse to stay at home. You've got to see these fender-benders, these accidents and stuff like that, those spin-outs, people getting stuck. But still, they did issue some warnings out there.

We'll take you to Chicago, they also got 10 inches of snow there, as well. This is just one picture. I wonder if he's going to make it out with that van.

NGUYEN: I don't know, his back wheels are spinning, the back wheels. There they go.

HOLMES: Wheels just spin. I feel like that every day sometimes. But, yeah...

NGUYEN: It's not snowing here today in Atlanta, folks.

HOLMES: They're digging out, as well. You see, again, these familiar scenes. Also, O'Hare, airports in Chicago, you know, one drop of rain and good gust of wind and you got a flight delay in Chicago a lot of times. So, this isn't helping. But also, sad to report at least one person has died, according to officials, as a result of a lot of this bad weather.

NGUYEN: Well, Reynolds Wolf has been watching all of this play out and the big question is when is all that snow going to just move out of there?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it looks like the heavy snowfall now, in parts of the northeast, but in places like Chicago, as you shared just moments ago in that video, they're going to be digging out that for a good part today, because temperatures today, in Chicago, is still below the point freezing point, so it looks like the snow is not going to be going anywhere.

Plus, we got a major cool down that is going to be moving through parts of the Midwest, so that is certainly something that they're going to be dealing with.

Let's try to show you some of the snowfall totals. These are actually 24-hour snowfall totals. Now, T.J. and Betty mentioned that Chicago O'Hare only had about 10 inches of snow. They're absolutely right. When you look, though, at the overall total, two-day total, it is over a foot of snowfall. Litchfield, Michigan, just about 10 inches or so, just right at 10 for Cleveland and Toledo. Again, your two-day total. Some places right along the lake, a lot heavier than that.

Let's show you what else we have, as we take a look at the regional radar, we're seeing some snowfall in parts of -- see the northeast, this is going to last a few more hours. They continue from say four to even seven inches of snowfall. West of Boston, you have your watches, your warnings that are posted and indicated by the green and even by the reds, the areas that are shaded. That is going to be a big area for you, but again that is improving as we go minute by minute, hour by hour.

And in part of the Southwest, the big story is going to be not the snow, but the wind. Wind really kicking in, some gusts, right near 70 miles-per-hour, tropical storm force Santa Ana winds moving through the mountain passes. We've got red flag warnings, fire dangers in effect for parts of southern California, through the L.A. basin and into San Diego.

Let's show you a quick shot of Boston. We've got Boston for you popping up, again other side of the coin, you see the lens here shaking a little bit due to the wind, but ice all over this spot. It looks like a big chunk of ice is about to take out one of those buildings. Trust me, that is not the case, that is just close to the lens. A little bit of trickery there with the old camera.

NGUYEN: That is crazy-looking shot, though, isn't it?

WOLF: Yeah. Feel sorry for the poor guys who got to go up there and scrape that off. I think Mother Nature is going to take care of that itself, though.

NGUYEN: I would think so. OK.

WOLF: Good deal.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds.

HOLMES: Thanks, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet, guys.

NGUYEN: Listen to this. It sounds a little icky, probably smelly, too -- a coal sludge spill in Tennessee. Who are you going to call for that?

HOLMES: Sludge-busters, of course.

NGUYEN: Of course.

HOLMES: No, Erin Brockovich? We'll tell but the environmentalist's interest in Tennessee's big spill.


HOLMES: Well, last month a dyke burst at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant causing a massive spill of coal sludge. And, now, neighbors say that TVA is not listening to their complainants.

NGUYEN: Yeah, the one billion gallon spill damaged several homes and even destroyed three of those homes. Some of the plant's neighbors in Kingston have called in an environmental activist and our Brooke Baldwin has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It isn't often Erin Brockovich is speechless.


BALDWIN: But this tough talking environmental activist is nearly at a loss for words after seeing this sea of sludge for the first time.

BROCKOVICH: It's a huge mess. And I don't think that I can describe it because I think so many things: Tornado, volcano, mudslide, tsunami and my first impression is, I'm surprised nobody was killed.

BALDWIN: That's the sludge spill's silver lining, but 42 properties were damaged after the retention pond wall collapsed at TVA's Kingston steam plant three days before Christmas. Three houses, completely wiped out.


BALDWIN: This mangled mess is the only evidence Holly Schean's family home ever sat here. Unsatisfied by TVA's response, she and dozens of others contacted Erin Brockovich to help.

SCHEAN: To have her voice speak for us is just -- it's amazing.

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: Why are there medical records and blood samples in real estate files?

Would you mind if I investigate this a little further?

BALDWIN: Brockovich gained nationwide fame after her real-life investigation inspired a hit Hollywood movie starring Julia Roberts.


ROBERTS: Hell no. I hate lawyers, I just work for them.

BALDWIN: The same spunky Brockovich flanked by a team of engineers, health experts and attorneys plans to get answers in Kingston, too. Question No. 1, is the drinking water really safe?

BROCKOVICH: Poison is a poison is a poison is a poison. Jees, doesn't look clean to me.

BALDWIN: On Capitol Hill Thursday, TVA's president faced some tough questions about previous leaks at the same plant.

TOM KILGORE, CEO, TENNESSEE VALUE AUTHORITY: We had outside experts help us with those fixes. The most expensive solution wasn't chosen, obviously that looks bad for us. BALDWIN: As a result of this disaster, Congress may push for mandatory federal oversight of the storage of coal ash.

BROCKOVICH: Common sense tells you at some point it's going to give way and I...

BALDWIN: Brockovich believes change must come. She will provide a loud voice, so there won't be a next time.

BROCKOVICH: And where is the preventive measure going to come? We have the opportunity to do that right now and if we regulate and we monitor, we should be able to prevent.

BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Kingston, Tennessee.


NGUYEN: Well, the new administration coming into the White House is drawing a whole lot of attention from people eager to work for Barack Obama.

HOLMES: He said he wanted to create jobs.

NGUYEN: Yep, and he's doing it.

HOLMES: He's giving people some jobs. But you know, with 350,000 job applicants out there? We're going to hear from two who are pretty hopeful that they'll be working for the new president.


NGUYEN: Well, good morning, everybody and.welcome back on this Sunday,. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And Hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes. And we are here at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

This is what we're following this morning, Barack Obama's economic team meeting with some key Democratic senators, those senators balking a bit at the incoming president's incoming economic stimulus plan. They want more money for things like: Bridges, highways, schools and other maybe infrastructure projects that maybe not so much could go toward tax cuts.

Well, a big part of Obama's plan is to create a lot of jobs. Well, a lot of people want jobs in his administration. About 300,000 people want jobs. They put in their applications to work for Barack Obama. However, only about 3,000 to 4,000 jobs are available. Those aren't good odds. Meanwhile, our Kate Bolduan spoke with two of the applicants.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fidel Amin (ph), a seasoned professional specializing in Middle East affairs.


BOLDUAN: And Lauren Wilson (ph), a recent college graduate and former Obama campaign volunteer.

LAUREN WILSON, FMR OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Being a part of a new wave of leadership in this country.

BOLDUAN: Two people at very different places personally, but they share a similar professional goal today.

WILSON: Ideally, I would be working with either on the White House side or maybe working for Michelle Obama in her communication shop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either at the State Department where we deal with diplomacy, international politics and also at the White House where somebody can provide the right advice.

BOLDUAN: They're in good company. Two of the more than 350,000 people the transition says are crossing their fingers, hoping to land a job in the Obama administration.

According to a transition spokesperson, "there was an incredible amount of enthusiasm in the campaign, and people all across the country are carrying that same energy into the transition."

An energy, Federal employment specialist Kathryn Troutman says, she hasn't seen in years.

KATHRYN TROUTMAN, FED EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST: I had a lot of experience right after 9/11, also with people who wanted to come into government. We were getting calls then from people who wanted to give up on the private industry work and work for the government and it was exciting to them and we have the same thing happening right now with Mr. Obama, people are excited about government.

BOLDUAN: When George Bush became president eight years ago, about 90,000 people applied for jobs according to an official who handled that transition. That's about a quarter of the number applying for the incoming administration. And with only about an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 total positions to fill, applicants like Fidel Amin and Lauren Wilson know, it's nothing short of a long shot.

WILSON: God, wouldn't it be great to open up that letter and they're telling you congratulations, you've been selected to work in x, y, z office. That would be fantastic, but I also know that it may not happen and that's fine.

BOLDUAN (on camera): A transition spokesperson says they have a team of about 50 people dedicated to dealing with the flood of job interests. Applications are put into a database allowing the team to search by specific experience, expertise, and qualification for a particular position. The lesson here, if you want a job, be thorough in filling out that application form.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: Israel's prime minister says the country is close to reaching its goals in the Gaza offense, but he says further patience is need. Here's the latest on what we know this morning and some live pictures from the region, as well. This is day 15 of the operation and Israeli soldiers moved further into Gaza with heavy shelling, today. You see that black smoke billowing out of Gaza. Well, Palestinian medical sources report four people killed today bringing the death toll to at least 828. Thirteen Israelis have died and overnight Israeli aircraft attacked at least 60 targets and among them a mosque allegedly used to store Hamas weapons.

Thousands more Israeli reservists are reporting for duty preparing for the possibility Israel may expand its offensive into Gaza. Senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, reports from the Israeli/Gaza border.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside an Israeli army base, an emotional goodbye. "I'm worried he may be sent to Gaza," Mia tells me. "I want peace. I don't want suffering on either side."

Her husband, a reservist, says goodbye to his 6-week-old daughter. He is not alone. Thousands of reservists are reporting for duty, ready should Israel escalate the war in Gaza.

YEROHAM LOFSKY, ARMY RESERVIST: I think of the things I need to do, I think of the necessary things I need to take with me.

ROBERTSON: Yeroham Lofsky, a telecom salesman, tells me he was preparing to go to India when he got the call.

LOFSKY: I have 8-1/2-years-old daughter. Surprised, she asked questions, "Do you going to Gaza? When do you going to Gaza?"

ROBERTSON: The army selected Lofsky to talk to us. He tells me what we hear from many soldiers. They must fight to stop Hamas firing of rockets into Israel. I asked about the high Palestinian civilian casualties.

LOFSKY: We practice for this, and we know how to try to avoid the civilian casualties. It costs us, many times, injuries on our side, and I -- we do the best we can to be as much as human as we can.

ROBERTSON: In Gaza, where Israel and Egypt prevent us going to report independently, the perception emerging among civilians is the opposite, increasingly, they feel they are the victims. "They were all family members," she says, talking about the dead she has just seen. "Little kids, children. I didn't see anyone with weapons. It's just families being hit."

Hamas leaders are calling the civilian deaths "genocide," but give the impression they are not worried Israel could escalate attacks. KHALED MESHAAL, HAMAS LEADER (through translator): They failed tremendously. They didn't accomplish anything. They say they don't want resistance in Gaza, but I assure you, the resistance is good.

ROBERTSON: Along the border with Egypt, Israel gave the strongest warning yet it was ready to widen the fight, dropping leaflets, warning civilians to move away, as Israel may ratchet up the fight with Hamas, and the strike will be, quote, "exceptionally painful."

(on camera): If Israel does go for a big military push, many tens of thousands of reservists put on standby could find themselves in the fight in Gaza, maintaining popular support at home could be critical for the government.

(voice-over): Which may explain why we were allowed to film troops preparing for war, but not on the battlefield.

Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Israel-Gaza border.


HOLMES: And while Israel battles Hamas, militants in Gaza, a report out today describes Israeli plans for a potential strike inside Iran. This is from a "New York Times" article, the reporter on it, David Sanger, says Israeli asked the U.S. for specialized bunker busting bombs for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex.

You may remember the name of those bombs, they got a lot of play back when the war with Iraq started, the U.S. was using those to get into some of those bunkers in Iraq. Well, the article says that President Bush rejected Israel's request. The report is from research for Sanger's book, "The inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power." He talked about the article with our Don Lemon, last night.


DON LEMON, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Most of the sources you quoted, if not all of them, are unnamed sources. How do you back this information up?

DAVID SANGER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I wish in a perfect world that we would have everybody on the record on issues like this, but that is not what happens in intelligence reporting. This was an extraordinarily sensitive set of interchanges between Israeli and the United States.

President Bush persuaded the Israelis not to go ahead, in part, by describing to them a new or expanded covert operations that the United States is trying to accomplish the same goal and it's simply not a subject, given the sensitive and fairly classified nature, that senior officials are going to discuss on the record.

LEMON: And you reached out to the Bush administration, I'm sure.

SANGER: We did. We did, indeed. LEMON: What did the Bush administration say?

SANGER: As you'll see in the sorry, the Bush administration and the intelligence community asked us to omit some details that would affect operational events. We agreed to do that. And I suspect that the Bush administration probably isn't going to comment very much on the details of this story, given the nature of this kind of intelligence operation and the sensitivity of the relationship with Israel.


HOLMES: The "Times" article does go into further detail about new U.S. covert operation to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, weighed in on past efforts to undermine Iran's past ambitions.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We know the U.S. has been trying to conduct covert industrial espionage, if you will against, Iran's nuclear program for many years. Going to the suppliers, going other plays, trying to make sure that things get messed up, if you will, hat parts may not be what they should be, that certain processes may not work right, anything that they can do to jam the works.


HOLMES: Iran, of course, has said repeatedly that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and for producing energy only.

NGUYEN: Meanwhile, a massive water rescue mission is underway after a ferry carrying about 250 passengers capsized in central Indonesia in a severe storm. Local rescue agencies say only 18 passengers have been rescued. Indonesian navy and police and local search and rescue agencies are working together searching for other survivors.

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

HOLMES: Well, that little graphic there that we showed you, that snow swirling around is awfully appropriate right about now.

NGUYEN: Oh, yeah.

HOLMES: Our meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, yeah, that's the fake stuff we had there.

WOLF: Well, it looks a lot better than the old one. You know, when we use to have that snow globe and use to like hold it up to the screen and just shake it and say, look, guys, it's snowing.

HOLMES: But, you know what, it's tough economic times. We might have to go back to that.

NGUYEN: That's true.

WOLF: You never know. And I'll tell you what. That's pretty much, art imitates life.


NGUYEN: All right, awfully cold out there, especially in D.C. you know, a lot of people say practice makes perfect, that's what they are trying to do today.

HOLMES: They want to get this one perfect. This inauguration is one for the history books, coming up in nine days. We will take you behind the scenes of practice or as Allen Iverson would say, "Practice? We talking about practice, Betty?"

NGUYEN: Yes, we are.


HOLMES: Welcome back here, folks. We're going to be checking in up there in D.C. on what is happening with the inaugural celebration coming up in about nine days, but also the practice has to take place right now. We will let you know about that. WE'll let you know about those dress rehearsals in just a moment, but first we're going to check in with Howard Kurtz, he's in Washington, as well, to see what's coming up on CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES.

Good morning to you, Howard.


Coming up, Sarah Palin starts firing and she's not shooting at caribou. Is the governor on target as ripping journalists as hypocritical rumor mongerers (sic). Obama taps SanjayGupta as his choice for the surgeon general. How did CNN fair covering the choice of it's very own doctor?

The press goes crazy over the first daughters and their first day of school. Come on, shouldn't we be leaving these young girls alone? That plus a former Israeli soldier now writing about the war in Gaza for the "Atlantic," ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.

HOLMES: All right, we will see you in just a matter of minutes, kind sir. Thank you so much.

And, there's a big, big party going on tonight. Got the famous people there, you got a lot of awards being handed out and you got an open bar. The Golden Globes -- the party is back and the part is on tonight. Who's up for a big win? Stay with us.


NGUYEN: All right T.J., come on, admit it, you really missed the Golden Globes.

HOLMES: I will admit it.


HOLMES: Yeah, it's a big party. You know, not stuff at this one.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, and there's food. You know, last year we didn't see it because of the writer's strike, but it is back tonight.

HOLMES: Last night they stepped up and read the -- read who won, there was no party. But there's a party tonight CNN entertainment correspondent, Brooke Anderson, has her party dress ready.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: The Golden Globes show will go this year after the writer's strike released last year's ceremony to a press conference. So, who are the front-runners in this race for gold? The Hollywood reporters Andrew Wallenstein gives us his picks.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: The best picture category in drama is really so wide open, an underdog like "Slumdog Millionaire" can walk away with these thing. The movie is a true original, this sort of merger of Bollywood and Hollywood.

In a year where Prop-8, in particular, was such a politically-charged headline, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Sean Penn in "Milk" take advantage of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the batman.

WALLENSTEIN: I think Heath Ledger is pretty much a lock to win for the best supporting for drama. Not only was he a truly great performer, but his passing this past year, it does give him an advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who made these rules?

WALLENSTEIN: There's a certain air of inevitability this year about Kate Winslet who was nominated not only in best actress, but in best supporting actress. I would not be surprised for her to pull off a double win for "Revolutionary Road" and "The Reader."

Best picture comedy is not a strong category when you have movies like "In Bruge" and "Burn After Reading," I mean, these were not memorable pictures, therefore, I think something like "Mamma Mia," which is both a musical and a big crowd pleaser will stand out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody's having fun already.

WALLENSTEIN: It's very interesting to note that Meryl Streep is nominated both for comedy and drama, "Mamma Mia" and "Doubt," however, look for someone named Sally Hawkens in a movie most people haven't seen called "Happy Go Lucky," that was supposedly such a breakthrough performance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, before you leave tonight...

WALLENSTEIN: TV, like film, is also pretty wide open at this Golden Globes. "Madmen" I think, is still coasting on such a wave critical of acclaim and buzz. On the comedy side, I think it's more competitive, "30 Rock" has got to be a favorite coming in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you do it.

ANDERSON: You might also see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon "Frost/Nixon," and "Doubt" walk away a few statues. Each has a leading five nominations.

What you might not see are all those celebrity gift baskets and countless after parties. The economy has forced some to scale back and we're hearing that many celebrities are planning to tone things down, as well.

Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


NGUYEN: I don't know if that party is going to compare to the inauguration, a lot of people getting ready for that. But at the same time, President Bush saying his final goodbyes. Boy, it's going to be tough not to be able to catch a flight on Air Force One anymore.

HOLMES: So, you got to give up the White House, you have to give up your plane. We'll tell you about his final voyage on Air Force One.


NGUYEN: The Inauguration Days away, so let's get more details on the plans for the big party. Linda Douglas is a spokeswoman for the Inaugural Committee; she joins us now from Washington.

Miss Douglas, so happy to talk to you. There's a lot lined up, so let's just get right to it. On the eve of the inauguration, there's a great concert, a free concert, for the young people who are attending. Tell us about that.

LINDA DOUGLAS, INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: Well, it is to honor the children of military families. It's going to be a terrific concert. We haven't released the details about the talent yet, but it's going to be very, very exciting. It's going to be broadcast...

NGUYEN: Give us one person. Come on, Linda.

DOUGLAS: I can't tell you any names. We want to surprise you right at the end and it's going to be a terrific concert.

NGUYEN: I bet. You know, 5,000 thoughts tickets for those bleacher seats on Inauguration Day, sold out within minutes, I understand, on Friday. So, for those who don't have a ticket, who don't have a seat, and want to watch the parade go by, where's the best place to go?

DOUGLAS: Well, you know, all along the parade route, first, they sold out in one minute -- but all along the parade route many, many more opportunities for people to stand for free and watch this great inaugural parade. In the past there have been more bleachers on the side of the road where people -- made it less possible for people to stand and watch the parade. But there will be many, many opportunities for people to stand all the way along the route and watch the parade for free.

NGUYEN: OK, so if I'm standing along the parade route and I'm far down and I want to see Obama take the oath of office, how do I get a glimpse of that? Are there big Jumbotron televisions out there?

DOUGLAS: Well, you know, our intention here is to make this the most open and accessible and inclusive inauguration in history, we're doing that in many, many ways. One of those is for the first time ever, we are opening the National Mall, that is, the end of the capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, for people to come without tickets, for free, and stand and watch the swearing in on jumbo TV screens with, of course, a big audio system and a vantage point that is right within the sight of the Capital.

So, there will be many, many more opportunities for people who don't have tickets to come to Washington if they want to brave the cold and go through the line, people are very determined because they're very excited to watch it that way.

NGUYEN: And we cannot forget those inaugural balls. There's a whole bunch of them lined up. One in particular, though, I find interesting it is the first-ever neighborhood ball. Tell us about that.

DOUGLAS: It is the first ever. This is going to be a ball that is available for free tickets or low-cost tickets. You have to have tickets, but it will be available to people from the grassroots for residents of Washington, D.C., to come to a ball and participate just as everybody else who comes to an inaugural ball does. We're calling this the premiere ball, this is the first ball that the Obama's will be attending, and this will be -- this will be broadcast all around and, you know, both through Internet and broadcast on television around the country and we're encouraging people to have balls within their own communities, so that they can feel that they're part of this and participate in their own way.

The goal here is to connect people in as many ways as possible because this really is a time to celebrate our common values and our shared aspirations in this country. This is a moment of unity.

NGUYEN: So, if you have a ball and one of your hometowns then you can actually say, thanks to technology, Obama was there. Thanks so much, Linda. We do appreciate your time, today.

DOUGLAS: Thank you.

NGUYEN: So, are you going to the inauguration? Send us your iReports at We want to see the events through your eyes. Next week, don't forget to send us those photos and videos. Here's the address:

HOLMES: So, President Bush going to have to go back to flying Delta, maybe Air Tran, maybe take a flight on Southwest. His last scheduled wheel down for the president as aboard Air Force One, was yesterday when he and the first lady returned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. They were coming back from Virginia. They were Virginia to attend commissioning of a navy carrier named for the president's father.

NGUYEN: Well, thanks for join us. There's much more to come right here on CNN.