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CNN Sunday Morning

American Terror Suspects Moved; Small Business Money Woes

Aired December 13, 2009 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It's December 13th. Good morning, everybody.

Eight a.m. at CNN world headquarters right here in Atlanta, 7:00 in Chicago, 5:00 in Portland, Oregon.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could be here with us.

Five Americans have been arrested in Pakistan for alleged ties with a terror network, but security experts say we can't afford to ignore the threats here at home either.

NGUYEN: Yes, you may not know their names or even recognize their faces. But their alleged crimes throughout the world, some of the so-called terrorist among us are American citizens. We have those details coming up.

HOLMES: Also this morning, gay rights breakthrough took place, while a lot of you were sleeping. Houston becoming the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor.

NGUYEN: All right. Let's get right to our top stories right now.

Security concerns over the five American terror suspects in Pakistan. Authorities moved in from a small town jail to a more secure location, in a larger city of Lahore. A sixth man, the father of one of the suspects, has been questioned.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins us now live from Islamabad, Pakistan.

What's the latest that you know, so far, in this investigation, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, the authorities here are not disclosing the details as to exactly where the investigation stands, only to say that the five have not yet been charged even though they were taken in quite sometime ago. They are saying that if they are not charged, they will, in that case, be deported back to the United States. And, of course, security has become something of a concern since -- as you did just mention there -- the authorities decided to move them to a safer location in the city of Lahore. And as you also said, one of those men released as well. The sixth man, who is the father, in fact, of one of the young men, the authorities saying that they never believed that he was directly involved in any sort of terror plot but that they wanted to interrogate him as well -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, Arwa, I want to know if there has indeed been a definite link been these five and a terror network? There's a lot of speculation around this. But has a definite link been made?

DAMON: There is a lot of speculation, Betty, and we have not had a chance to see any of the direct evidence that the Pakistani authorities say they have. But if you speak to the Pakistanis, they will tell you that there is most definitely a link. They believe that a trail began back in August when these men made contact with militant groups over the Internet, on YouTube, in fact, posting comments under videos showing attacks against the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

Pakistanis also believe that the men made contact with at least two Pakistani militant networks when they arrived in Pakistan, and that they were in contact with another individual as well who is meant to be facilitating their movements to their final destination of Afghanistan.

NGUYEN: OK. Got you on that.

The FBI -- any activity on the ground from that group?

DAMON: Well, the Pakistanis are saying that the FBI has full access to the five and has been interrogating them and launching their own investigation as well.

The Pakistanis point to this case as being an example of how cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan authorities can help in the fight on terror, because the Pakistanis are saying that it was, in fact, the FBI that alerted them that these five men had gone missing from America and that they could perhaps be showing up here in Pakistan. A joint investigation is going on right now -- Betty.

NGUYEN: OK. CNN's Arwa Damon is joining us live from Islamabad, thank you -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, Betty, al Qaeda showing a softer side, actually offering condolences to the families of innocent people -- but get this -- these are same innocent people killed in their own attacks. Yes, they offered an apology to those folks. This message comes out just, of course, after the president's announcement of the troop surge in Afghanistan.

And the man delivering the message for al Qaeda, American-born Adam Pearlman, who now goes by a different name, Adam Gadahn -- but again, with al Qaeda now. He is not the only American in al Qaeda's fold.

Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado resident believed to be among the first al Qaeda recruits, discovered living in the U.S. since 9/11. Also, Shirwa Ahmed, once from Minneapolis, now known as the first American suicide attacker ever. And also, David Headley, a Chicago man accused of playing a key role in the Mumbai attacks.

And the list actually goes on and on.

I want to bring in now, CNN security analyst Peter Bergen, also a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING.

Peter, always good to have you. Always good to see you.

So, we've been worried. It seems like we're still long trying to make sure we protect our borders and protect who comes in here, try to keep certain people out. But it looks like we need to be worried who we're sending out as well.


I mean, the David Headley case, you mentioned, is fascinating. If the allegations are true, this guys seems to have been a principle planner of the Mumbai attacks which happened just over a year ago, that killed more than 165 people, including, by the way, six Americans. In the indictment against him, they are mentioned by name. They were at the Jewish American center, you may remember...


BERGEN: ... T.J., that was attacked in Mumbai.

HOLMES: So, actually, what is happening here, Peter? Is this a matter of these terror groups actually actively recruiting and seeking out Americans? Or is this a matter showing that the propaganda of a lot of these terror groups around the world is working and American citizens on their own are just kind of buying into it?

BERGEN: Well, yes, it's usually self-recruited. I mean, al Qaeda, of course, is very happy when Americans show up.

I mean, this guy, Adam Gadahn, you mentioned earlier, who, by the way, is the first American who has been charged with treason in a very long time. He has played a pretty important role in al Qaeda's propaganda operations. Obviously, he speaks very good English. So, al Qaeda doesn't need to recruit. It's very happy when it does get Americans who show up in their training camps.

Najibullah Zazi, you mentioned, was training there last year. Another guy called Bryan Neal Vinas, who's now cooperating with American investigators, a kid from Long Island who showed up in an al Qaeda training camp a year ago.

And the list, unfortunately, is long. On the other hand, you know, it's not like, you know, this is a tiny minority of Americans who are doing this. Most American Muslims are very opposed to the al Qaeda ideology. But the number is growing. Two years ago, we would have had a different conversation. HOLMES: Yes, and you said a tiny minority there. So, I guess, what is -- I guess -- how high on the list of priorities is this for American security officials? How worried should we be about this, quite frankly, if, you know -- in a lot of peoples' minds, they aren't attacking the homeland?

BERGEN: Well, some of these cases are -- do involve cases of people who plan to do attacks in the homeland. Just to give you -- just a quick couple of examples, there is an allegation that a group in North Carolina were planning to attack or casing out for an attack Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. That's a recent case. The -- you know, there are other cases -- I mean, Najibullah Zazi, who we talked about earlier, he was surveying (ph) out targets in Manhattan.

So, you've got both phenomenons. You got people planning attacks in the United States, for Americans, and also, people who are sort of exporting in the jihad overseas, whether to Somalia or Afghanistan or Pakistan or India.

HOLMES: And last thing here, Peter, it's interesting -- to think how the world is going to deal with these citizens. And that everybody around the world seems to have a different definition of exactly what terrorism is.

BERGEN: Well, yes, and there is sort of whole range of legal statutes. The five American Pakistanis, the five Americans who showed up in Pakistan, you know, which crime what they might be charged with. My guess is that, if they are charged with a crime in the States, it would be conspiring to provide material support to a terrorists group. That's, you know, not a -- it's a charge -- normally a serious charge. They may never hook up with a terrorists group, but they certainly were trying to provide themselves as recruits, it seems, to groups fighting in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan.

HOLMES: All right. CNN security analyst and, again, friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING -- Peter, always good to see you, thank you so much.

BERGEN: Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. And CNN tonight, more than 170 people killed in a series of attacks. Go inside the Mumbai massacre as told by the terrorists themselves. "Terror in Mumbai," tonight, 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: Well, history has been made in Houston as the city elects its first openly gay mayor. Annise Parker won the runoff there with 53 percent of the vote. Houston is the largest American city to ever elect an openly gay mayor.

Parker called in to talk with our Don Lemon last night.


ANNISE PARKER, HOUSTON MAYOR-ELECT: There is a certain segment of Houston, there is a certain segment of society that has problems with the issues around sexual orientation. But the citizens of Houston have elected me six consecutive times to public office. They know me, they trust me, and I think it's a small and shrinking minority of Houstonians who have that attitude, I look forward, as you said, being mayor of all of Houston.


NGUYEN: Well, Parker, a Democrat, was the city's controller for five years.

HOLMES: And we got a bit of a mess in San Francisco going right now. A huge water main break overnight. It causes a soggy mess. They got a lot to be cleaning up. We'll tell you exactly what kind of damage they have to deal with.

NGUYEN: Yes. And as the world leaders prepare to debate climate change, we're having a CNN YouTube debate, your questions or comments can be seen by people all over the world. Our Josh Levs will be along to explain that.


NGUYEN: Well, when we talk about severe weather, if you live on either coast, you could be in for it.

HOLMES: Yes, Karen Maginnis with us this weekend.

Go ahead and pull that map up. We've got to start on the west coast, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. We do, because this is where we're going to see a big impact with a very vigorous storm system. Snowfall across Sierra Nevada, pushing all the way across to Rockies, to San Juan, and Sangre de Cristo, the Wasatch, Uinta.

We've got some pictures of right around Lake Tahoe, the snowfall there yesterday. For today, the snow levels are dropping. We could see several feet across those higher peaks.

A little bit of messy weather in the L.A. basin. We could see about a half an inch of rainfall there. And some of those burn areas, it's going to be another big problem as well.

Take a look at the forecast here: messy weather along the eastern seaboard, heavy rainfall. I want to show you something fairly interesting. We are expecting some very icy weather along the spine of the Appalachians, freezing rain for Cleveland, also Lynchburg as well. As well as the potential for this big winter storm, for the interior west, Salt Lake and Denver, Idaho Falls, Great Falls, Montana, some of the areas affected by this huge winter storm system across the west.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: All right. We don't have long to go. Hours, really, before -- a lot of hours, but still, hours before an international event, the CNN YouTube debate on climate change.

NGUYEN: Yes, it is taking place in Copenhagen, where world leaders and activists have gathered for U.N. conference.

Our Josh Levs is here to show you how you can actually get involved.

Hey, Josh.


Yes, there's still little time of sending your videos. And you're right, we're doing the countdown in hours. In fact, you can see the countdown clock right here. The reason is, it's taking place all over the world. We're going to have viewers all over the world, it will be different days, different times for people, but it's all going to be taking place Tuesday morning. So, we're down to two days and five hours before it all begins.

Now, let me tell you the basics about what it is and what's going to be happening here. We have a video that helps show that. Take a look.



ANNOUNCER: What's your question for world climate leaders?

UNIDENTIFIED KID: I want to know what you plan on leaving for my generation.

ANNOUNCER: Submit it now through video at


LEVS: And that's what's happening, it's at And you're able to send in your own videos with your own questions and you might be seen at the debate. It's going to be a bunch of climate experts airing some of your questions, also, some of your comments and responding to them.

Let's go into the screen behind me here. Quickly, I want you to see how this is working. This is the Web page we were showing you. And what you can do, even if you don't want to submit a question, you can actually decide which ones get asked.

Here are some examples and just scroll over, you're able to see some people have put videos over here, and then you can say, if you like the questions or not, and you can decide if they are inappropriate, if they're good or they're bad. You do a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, that will help to determine. I pulled down an example of a video that I find particularly interesting. This is from someone in Thailand who says we're always being told that we should drive less and walk instead. Well, she went out and she showed how tough that can be. Take a look.


LEVS: It's just one of the many examples of the videos that we have there. We posted links to all these for you, up at the blog, take a look at, and also, Facebook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN. We look forward to seeing what you have, and it's all going to be taking place Tuesday morning.

It's actually about 48 hours from now, 8:00 Eastern will be the first time and then it will air again at noon Eastern on Tuesday, but it's all going to be online, it's all at So, that is where you tune in. All the infos for you right there.

So, Betty and T.J. certainly look forward to see what questions get chosen at the big international debate.

NGUYEN: I know it's going to be good stuff, can't wait.

LEVS: You got it.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, we got a quick check of our top stories coming up in just a couple of minutes.

NGUYEN: But first, take look at this video. Four San Francisco intersections closed after a huge water main break.


HOLMES: Checking some of our top stories this morning. Rescuers returning to Oregon's Mount Hood at dawn to resume that search for two missing climbers. The body of a third climber found yesterday. All three went missing Thursday after setting out to scale the west side of that mountain.

NGUYEN: Crews in San Francisco have repaired a broken down water main that shut down a freeway on a ramp there last night. Now, investigators want to know what caused this.

I want to take a look at it though, kind of live waves breaking onshore. The bursts pipe caused a sinkhole and quite a bit of flooding, two feet in some places. Four intersections are closed this morning so the area can be cleaned up. At least one building was damaged.

HOLMES: And the U.S. Department -- U.S. State Department wants to know why one of its contract employees has been detained in Cuba. The man was taken into custody December 5th. But because of privacy laws, few facts are known about the case. "The New York Times" reporting he was distributing cell phones, laptop and other communication equipment.

NGUYEN: Well, let's get to the "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING," that's coming up at the top of the hour. And we have John with us now live.

We got a lot coming up on the show, John. One of the big things, too, is President Obama. He's got money on the mind, meaning job creation and bankers.

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": He's going to meet with -- good morning, Betty and T.J. -- let me start with good morning and show my manners.

The president does have a big meeting with bankers tomorrow. And he says in a "60 Minutes" interview tonight, they still don't get it. He says some of these banks took, you know, the big bailout money. And yes, a lot of them have paid it back. But now, he says, they want to give out big bonuses and the president says, you know, small businesses and American homeowners trying to get loans, trying to refinance, can't get help.

So, he's going to have the bankers in tomorrow night, and you wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall in that meeting. The president sounds like he's going to read them the riot act. We're going to talk to his top economic advisor, Larry Summers, here on the program. We'll get a sense of what the president will say in that meeting and what's most important to him.

But also, the question many people are asking as they watch this morning over their coffee: when are the jobs coming back in this economy. We want to talk about that, too.

HOLMES: Yes, that's a big concern, it seems. That is everyone -- on everybody's mind, jobs. And when, a lot of people are just waiting on some action, quite frankly, seen a lot of meetings, seen a lot of speeches by the president as well, but that's the big concern.

So, how desperately, given all that, does the president need some kind of health care reform, some kind of a win that he can point to that he's gotten something accomplished?

KING: There's a big debate about that, because certainly, the White House and the Democrats who run Congress say they need that big win. They want to pass health care reform. They want to get it to the president, hopefully, by the end of the year, and if not very early in January. They think that would be a big victory and essentially give people more faith in the Democratic majority and in the Democratic president.

A lot of people say, though, that the cost of that bill might actually end up hurting the Democrats. That's the big political debate right now on the politics of health care reform.

Now, most people watching at home care about the policy of health care reform: will it deal with preexisting conditions? Will their cost go up or will they come down? Will they have more choices or fewer choices? Will they be able to find a doctor even if Washington does everything right? When they go looking in their community, can they find a primary care physician?

So, there's a political debate here. There's a more realistic policy discussion around the breakfast table around the country. And we'll keep that at.

But politically, the president wants that victory. The question is: at what price? And can they cut the deal?

NGUYEN: Hey. And speaking of money. A trillion dollars is on the table, that's what they're discussing as they work in the Senate on this Sunday morning. You expect much will be accomplished this afternoon?

KING: The Senate is going to vote on this catch-all spending bill to keep the government running. And, of course, we want to keep the government running.

But again, we come back to how many Americans watching at home right now have a 9 percent or 10 percent or 12 percent increase in their family budget next year. I would guess almost nobody. And yet, that's most of the departments in Washington, they get those big spending increases.

And the president's critics are saying, come on now, everyone is having to crimp and cringe, why can't we cut federal spending a little bit? About $4 billion in earmarks in that legislation, another big debating point here.

A lot of the spending is important -- don't get me wrong -- but some of it, a lot of people are saying is just unnecessary. When you're in a tight budget, you have to cut something.

HOLMES: Boy, that's just how Washington works. John, you've been around it a long time, but this -- they will...

KING: Some would say too long.

HOLMES: Too long.


HOLMES: No, not too long enough just yet. You still got some work to do up there.

John, always good to see you, kind sir. You have a good show, of course. We will be watching...

KING: Thanks.

HOLMES: ... in about 30 minutes, at top of the hour, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING."

John, we'll see you here shortly.

NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, parents, school officials, politicians -- they all tried to stop teen violence.

HOLMES: Yes, but it might not be up to them, maybe some pastors, some priests, some ministers. They say it's actually in their hands. I'm sitting down with the men of God in our "Faces of Faith" today. They say they maybe the key to stopping teen violence.


HOLMES: Hello, again, everybody. Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm T.J. Homes.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.

All right. Small businesses, they play a crucial role in building the economy. But, business owners complain that they can't get a loan from the same banks that they help bailout with billions in taxes.

HOLMES: Yes, well, that ain't right. So, why aren't the banks giving back?

CNN's Kate Bolduan takes a look at how the president could be planning a showdown with bank executives to fix this problem as early as tomorrow.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Betty and T.J., by government estimates, small businesses have created 65 percent of new jobs in the past 15 years, but this sector has been hit hard by the economy and President Obama is trying to show he's on their side, taking the message directly to the banks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you soon. Take care. Bye.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Andy Shallal has a rare story and tough economic times. His businesses, bookstore restaurants around Washington, are thriving.

ANDY SHALLAL, OWNER, BUSBOYS AND POETS: Washington is a political town, it's a literary town. That's a town that really needs this kind of a place, and I think it's been very successful because of that.

BOLDUAN: Shallal is looking to expand and add about 40 employees. But despite good business, the economy is still holding him back. He can't get a loan.

SHALLAL: I am a growing business. I have a track record. I've been in this business for a long time. I have good assets, great cash flow, great credit, and yet, I still have a hard time trying to get enough money to be able to grow my business.

BOLDUAN: The harsh reality many small businesses face -- and something President Obama is now promising to tackle. White House officials tell CNN, Mr. Obama will meet Monday with chief executives of some of the nation's biggest banks, including Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. His message...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, you have a responsibility now -- now that we have pulled you back from the brink -- to help make sure that Main Street is actually getting the kinds of loans that it needs.

BOLDUAN: But the banks say it's much more complicated than that at a time when Congress is considering sweeping changes to the banking regulatory system.

Scott Talbott represents some of the country's largest financial firms.

SCOTT TALBOTT, THE FINANCIAL SERVICES ROUNDTABLE: Banks are lending to small businesses but there's two challenges here. One is the small businesses aren't borrowing as much as they used to, they are holding back. Second of all you've seen an increase or a tightening of the credit standards. So banks are cautious now about lending in terms of who the borrowers were looking to make good solid loans that can be repaid.

BOLDUAN: The Obama administration has also proposed redirecting unused TARP funds to help increase lending to small businesses.

Andy Shallal says whatever the solution he just hopes to start feeling the ripple effect soon.

ANDY SHALLAL, OWNER, BUSBOYS AND POETS: You need to really give that money back to that -- the source that's going to provide the most amount of jobs and the most amount of economic stimulus for the economy, which is small businesses.


BOLDUAN: When the president meets with bank executives on Monday the official White House schedule says they will discuss their shared interest and economic recovery, the need to increase lending to small business and financial regulatory reform. White House officials though, are more blunt telling CNN the president will pretty much lay it out saying that the banks were saved for the greater good, not their own profit margins and it's time to pitch in.

HOLMES: Well, we have recently seen a number of cases of gun violence and other violence involving teenagers. In particular, we've seen several cases in Chicago.

I recently went to Chicago to talk to men of faith, a Muslim and Catholic father and two Baptist ministers. They are all angry that their homes are broken, educational system is broken. And some parents need to step up, but they also say they need to step up, the faith-based community as well.

Here now our conversation in this morning's "Faces of Faith." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: What's wrong with these kids?

REV. STEPHEN THURSTON, NEW COVENANT M.B. CHURCH: I think there is a lack of parental development in many of our kids and also a lack of focus for African-American men.

MINISTER ISHMAEL MUHAMMAD, MOSQUE MARVAM: We're in error to look at our children and our young as the problem. For in that term, when we say the young or the youth, it's you, it's you, it's me and it's us.

REV. MICHAEL PFLEGER, ST. SABINA CATHOLIC CHURCH: When you take broken family structure and broken community structure, we disconnect it from one another and you take an influx of guns all around this country, you take poor education, you take unemployment, and you put all this together, plus we teach violence in the country.

HOLMES: Now, what do you mean when you say we are teaching them violence?

PFLEGER: We teach that when we are mad at somebody, we bomb you. We teach how we treat one another. Look at talk shows and the meanness and look at the health care meetings.



PFLEGER: When you have adults, 50 and 60-year-olds pushing each other and calling each other names and we have video games, we glorify it in the music and in games and in videos and you see all of this and we taught them well how to be mean to each other.

HOLMES: And Rev. Meeks, this sounds like we have a breakdown of morality?

REV. JAMES MEEKS, SALEM BAPTIST CHURCH: Yes, we have a breakdown in morality and so you couple everything that has been said with the fact that 85 percent of the schools that have produced all of the violence, these kids come from schools where there is the worse teacher quality.

HOLMES: Well and Father, you have a quote out there, I guess it got some attention. I think you made it at a rally where you said parents need to get a hold of their children?

PFLEGER: Parents have to get hold of their children and they have to know where their children at. They have to be responsible to their children. We have no communication down the streets and their homes are broken down, and so we live in -- in little bubbles in our own little rooms.

So we have to hold parents accountable but we also have to hold communities accountable again for what happens and how we take care of each other.

HOLMES: Ishmael, that sounds huge. That sounds like a big -- how do you change that culture?

MUHAMMAD: We have lost that connection to God and thereby the family has broken up. And so if the church can take their ministries, which we are attempting to do in making that effort every day, take the gospel, take the ministry, take the word of God from the four walls of a mosque or a church and take it into the streets.

HOLMES: You mention there a loss of connection to God.


HOLMES: When did that happen and why did that happen?

MUHAMMAD: Over the last 30, 40, 50 years, we see a further departure from God.

CHILDREN: We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

MUHAMMAD: I think that it is a crime that our children are forbidden to lift God in the school and to say prayer yet we allow them or permit them to pledge an allegiance to a flag where the name of God is invoked. They, of course, are chasing after money that has God's name printed on it.

HOLMES: Father, you famously put up -- put up a billboard and essentially issued a challenge out there to folks, telling them, you're not going to be shooting at our kids, you're not going to be shooting on our streets, we will put a bounty on your head?

PFLEGER: You have to send a message that you cannot shoot children and kill children, go home and turn on the TV and go to McDonald's and kick it home and everything's fine like that's normal. That is not normal. One of the things as faith do is we've got do is wake up the conscience of America.

THURSTON: We have a right to live in peace without fear. We have a right to raise African-American young men to be productive and to be heads of households.

MEEKS: God does not call us all to the same vision.

Father Pfleger has a vision, he's dealing with the guns, he's dealing with the billboards, while Thurston says, look, I think the family is what's wrong, so he puts together a campaign and me and Father Pfleger and Minister Ishmael join him in that campaign.

I think it's the educational system. I think the state is not doing its part. All of us don't have to work on the same thing. All of us sitting work on the same thing.

HOLMES: Right. And certainly can't have this conversation with you guys without bringing up Derrion Albert. That's his video of it. But when you saw it, you've been here all of this time and seen a lot of things. But we're you surprised or even shocked?

PFLEGER: I was shocked and saddened to see it, but I was not shocked to see -- to realize that this can take place. Until that faith community puts back that moral compass and we address again the spirit and the soul of our people that we're going to continue to see outbreaks. And Derrion Albert will be one more.

HOLMES: Give me the good news?

MUHAMMAD: This is the best generation that we have produced and it's a generation of promise, but it's also a generation of prophetic fulfillment. That's the good news.

THURSTON: The good news is change and the possibility of change. It's what has presented us with the first African-American President of the United States and I believe it's what undergirds us as a people and as a faith people.


HOLMES: Well and as you know, I spent a lot of time in Chicago for the past and we have covered stories there and it seems like forever, unfortunately.

NGUYEN: Especially with violence unfortunately.

HOLMES: Horrible stories. It's been several -- a lot of time over the past couple of months talking to the teenager about what they're going through and students and finally next week or all this week for the next four days, it's going to be able to highlight the work we got to do there and talk to students there about what's happening and why they fight and even talked to Vashion Bullock who's brother right now is in jail charged in the murder of Derrion Albert.

Now Vashion Bullock says his brother should not be in jail even though he admits and shows, yes, that's my brother right there with that board hitting Derrion Albert, he says, "But I still don't think my brother should be in jail for that."


HOLMES: He explains, now, this happens every single day. We fight like this every day. It's just so happens somebody got killed this time.

NGUYEN: Are you serious?

HOLMES: Some shocking stuffs you'll hear.

NGUYEN: That is the level of violence that they deal with on a daily basis. And you also talked to some kids who are just afraid to get up, I mean, that walk to school is so fearful for many of them.

HOLMES: People are calling it the first test of the day is getting to and from school. Kids, that they change their bus routes, the streets they walk down. Over a year, they have to, well, it's getting too dangerous there, I've got to try another way. And they go out of their way sometimes, just to try to get to school safety. It is amazing some of things you'll hear.

And we're also taking a look at the teenage brain. Just what is it about that mind, that development, quite frankly, to have -- one doctor says they have a gas pedal and no break at that age. And you surround them with that kind of environment and yes you're just asking for disaster.

So starting that series tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING"; it goes through the week for four days so interesting stuff.

NGUYEN: I'm looking forward to that.

HOLMES: Interesting stuff.

NGUYEN: Yes, all right.


NGUYEN: Well, the holidays, they are difficult for the children of Americans who have lost loved ones in war.

HOLMES: Yes, we're going to bring you a story, coming up next, of one family that is among the many being helped out right now. Stay with us.


KAREN MCGUINESS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And good morning, everyone. I am CNN meteorologist, Karen McGuiness. And we are looking at a huge storm, very vigorous affecting much of the west all the way from California through the Great Basin and across the Four Corners.

Already yesterday we saw the heavy downpours in southern California produce rock slides, debris on the roads, and did some damage along some of those major roads headed out towards the mountains. There were cars that were forced just to stay in traffic on the roads for a while until they could clear those roads off.

Now there's an update for the Sierra Nevada. They're saying there's a high avalanche danger. They could see several feet of additional snowfall. We're expecting that snow to sweep all the way into Utah and for Colorado from the Wasatch and (INAUDIBLE) down across the front range of the Rockies.

This is what we're looking at some of the heaviest snowfall associated with this very vigorous system.

Now, this is what's happening in our forecast that area of low pressure trekking across the southeast and secondary low, moves across the Appalachians, icy mixture from Lynchburg, Virginia up into West Virginia. It looks like Pittsburgh may dodge a bullet with this one. Cleveland could see an icy mix. Those roads are very, very treacherous. Sweeping back across the Great Lakes region single digits and teens with wind-chill factors in the Dakotas; double digit below zero overnight. We'll keep you updated throughout the rest of the morning.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues right after this.


NGUYEN: All right.

Time for a little "Extra Credit"; Carl Azuz...


NGUYEN: ... in the house with us this morning stirring up a little controversy.

AZUZ: Oh, yes, every chance I get.

HOLMES: You can really tell boys and girls learn differently. All right. That is ...

AZUZ: Some say so.

HOLMES: Some say -- all right -- there's the controversy.

AZUZ: Some say so.


AZUZ: There is a school in Virginia, a middle school that is splitting students up by gender to try to improve test scores. Supporters of this whole idea are saying they do learn differently. And boys like environments where there is more competition, more movement, more things going on. And the girls do better in an environment of cooperation.

And this is how the school has grouped them up. It's put the girls in rooms with soft lighting and their desks are close together to talk.

This one school says, the test scores are improving.

HOLMES: So what is the boy's room like, if the girls have soft lighting, what is going on in there?

AZUZ: They're throwing a ball, they're running up and down to the chalkboard. They're sort of -- it's almost like team learning.


AZUZ: So there's a lot more competition going on but there are critics who are saying, "Look, you are reinforcing stereotypes."

NGUYEN: I was about to say... AZUZ: This is not the way. If you expect boys to learn in a certain way, you are limiting their ability to learn outside the box, outside their comfort zone. So there is definitely room for discussion.

HOLMES: How are the students? Your audience? How are they discussing it?

NGUYEN: Yes, how are they reacting?

AZUZ: I have a few comments for you. We asked students both on Facebook and in our blog, "What do you think about this?"

Samantha wrote in, "I think that dividing by gender really it limits growth for students. Part of the public schooling system is to be exposed to people that aren't like you."

But then on the other side, Chelsea says, "Sometimes the interaction between boys and girls is just too much of an educational and discipline problem to deal with." That's from a student.

Thirdly, we have from Jesse. "They have been doing this at my middle school for years in the eighth grade. It always seemed to work well. The mixed class seems to be the one that gets in trouble the most because there are boy-girl conflicts in it."

NGUYEN: I see.

AZUZ: So I mean it's really up for debate with them. And there's no -- we are trying to tell them there is no right answer here per se, but it is interesting to see like what those students who are raised in coed environments like I was were educated in those environments.

NGUYEN: That is very interesting.

And here's something else. You know, here at CNN we have a little pool. We have our sources. We have a way to get to people. But your student audience actually got a direct line to the education secretary. Are we talking mobile phone -- what -- you know, cell?

AZUZ: Not quite. Not quite. They went through us. So we kind of channeled it through CNN reporter Ed Henry. He recently had a meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. And our students had a chance to ask him their questions.

I don't really want to paraphrase it too much here because it doesn't do it justice. The top question I will say was what about this year-round schooling? Students who do not go to school year- round are wondering, you are not going to make us do this, are you?


AZUZ: You want to see the whole thing, we've put a link to it at It's in the spotlight section of our Web site. It's a really great interview. NGUYEN: For the most part, though, are they against that?

AZUZ: A lot -- yes. Those that do not have it, no way.

NGUYEN: Yes, I would understand.

AZUZ: If you did not have year-round schooling, it's not a popular idea to say, "Yes, let's get 12 months a year. I'm ready to rock."

HOLMES: The idea is a timely debate though. Some say that kids need to be in class a little longer.

NGUYEN: Yes, they do that.


AZUZ: Sometimes they do and the education secretary. He says so.

HOLMES: Carl, great stuff as always.

AZUZ: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

HOLMES: Good to see you this weekend. Have a good week.

NGUYEN: Yes. We always enjoy "Extra Credit" with you. Thanks, Carl.

AZUZ: Good to see you. See you all next week.

NGUYEN: Children of the fallen soldiers get a touching holiday tribute.

HOLMES: We will tell you what one nonprofit group is doing to help them look forward to the holidays.


NGUYEN: A somber holiday tradition at Arlington National Cemetery. Yesterday, volunteers laid wreaths at the graves of 6,000 of our fallen veterans.

The tradition was started back in 1992 by a husband and wife team. It's now organized by the nonprofit Wreaths Across America. The group is also laying wreaths at other cemeteries across the country this holiday season.

HOLMES: Well, in Texas a group is honoring the families of those that who have died serving this country.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's called "Snowball Express". And what it's doing is helping to make the holidays a little bit brighter for 1,300 children who lost a military parent to war by sending them on a trip, all expenses paid.

Here is Shelly Slater (ph) with CNN affiliate, WFAA.


SHELLY SLATER, REPORTER, WFAA: "America the Beautiful", this was fallen staff sergeant Brian Mintzlaff's favorite song. And now the snow globe is his daughter's most prized possession.

BRAELYN MINTZLAFF, LOST FATHER IN IRAQ: He still loves us and that he is always with us. And that he is in heaven right now, and that we will see him again one day.

SLATER: Braelyn Mintzlaff is only 10 and yet wise beyond her years. She grew up fast after her dad died three years ago in Iraq. It happened the week before Christmas.

For Braelyn's mom, Monica, it hurts that she cannot take away her daughter's pain.

MONICA MINTZLAFF, LOST HUSBAND IN IRAQ: I can't do anything. My hands are 100 percent tied behind my back.

B. MINTZLAFF: On the day that my dad passed away last year, I was sitting on a bench staring at fireworks down in Disneyland.

SLATER: That moment is thanks to "Snowball Express", the nonprofit helping children whose parents have died in war. Braelyn helped welcome 1,300 military family members in town for a "Snowball Express" weekend of fun and entertainment.

B. MINTZLAFF: No matter what, they always have someone who knows what they are going through, and if they ever want to talk to me, I am arms wide open.

SLATER: Having lost her dad in December, "Snowball Express" gives hope in what could be a dark time.

M. MINTZLAFF: She has December to look forward to versus December to dread.

SLATER: Does that make you feel awesome to know that your dad is a hero?

B MINTZLAFF: Yes. But see, when I think of hero, most kids -- when most kids think of hero, they would think Superman or Batman or something, but I just think of people who are out there dying right now.


NGUYEN: What a great program. American Airlines helps to sponsor the holiday weekend.

HOLMES: And this year, donated eight jets to bring families to Texas from all over the country. The airline says, of course, it's important to honor those who sacrifice for the country.

Another check of our top stories is a couple minutes away.


Plus, the Obama administration is demanding Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai tackle corruption head on. President Karzai's critics say he isn't, and the proof is in their capital city.


NGUYEN: There is no way around it. This has just got to be tough. Christmas less than two weeks away and these soldiers are saying good-bye to their family and friends. So much for "there is no place like home for the holidays"; this was a farewell party for some of the 315 members of the Vermont National Guard bound for Afghanistan for a year.

HOLMES: Americans going to Afghanistan to fight extremists, but when it comes to fighting corruption there, that's an Afghan fight.

NGUYEN: If you don't know how big of a problem it is, all you have to do is look at the mayor's office in the capital of Kabul.

CNN Frederick Pleitgen is there.


FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Kabul's mayor at work. That might not seem like news, except that Abdul Ahad Sahebi has just been convicted for corruption.

ABDUL AHAD SAHEBI, MAYOR, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: It's baseless without any foundation, and without any evidence.

PLEITGEN: Sahebi was sentenced to four years in prison after being judged guilty of awarding a city construction contract without bidding.

But the mayor is not in jail. And he still running the city. That makes Afghanistan's deputy attorney general angry.

FAZIL AHMAD FAQEER YAR, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL AFGHANISTAN: The court has ordered his dismissal, he says, so everything he is doing now is illegal.

The matter goes to the heart of NATO's new strategy in Afghanistan. Additional soldiers can bring short-term security, but the U.S. said Afghanistan's government needs to crack down on rampant corruption as well.

In his inaugural address, Afghanistan's president says he would make it a top priority. He created a new anti-corruption task force.

Their first high-profile case, the mayor of Kabul.

This case was investigated and then forwarded to the attorney general and then to the court and then the court issued its verdict, the chairman says, "and still you take our action as a show."

"Both a show and a farce," says Kabul's mayor. He shows me documents he says prove Afghanistan's attorney general was trying to get him to illegally evict people from land plots in the city. When he refused he was busted on what he says are totally baseless claims.

SAHEBI: It's clear there are some people, some groups, who their personal benefit is in danger.

PLEITGEN: The U.N. envoy to Afghanistan seems unimpressed with the Karzai government's efforts to clamp down on corruption.

KAI EIDE, U.N. REPRESENTATIVE IN AFGHANISTAN: I fear a situation where the discussion of new commissions and new structures will lead to postponement of actually addressing the problems that exist.

PLEITGEN: Afghanistan's government says it's trying to address those problems. The result so far: a mayor convicted of corruption -- still in office, accusing the country's anti-corruption body of being corrupt.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kabul.


NGUYEN: "STATE OF THE UNION" is coming up at the top of the hour. But first here's a check of our morning headlines.

HOLMES: President Obama meeting tomorrow with CEOs of several big banks. He was expected to encourage them to boost lending to small businesses. They're also expected to discuss economic recovery as well as financial regulatory reform.

We turn to Oregon, and now rescue crews have found the body of one of the three missing climbers who set out to scale Mount. Hood on Friday. The search resumes at down this morning for the other two climbers. The search is still being called a rescue operation at this point and some family members also have joined in.

Those five American terror suspects arrested in Pakistan, they have been transferred to a larger place. They were in a small-town jail, but going to a more secure location in the larger city of Lahore. FBI agents are in Pakistan and have been interviewing the Washington D.C. area men.

Also, big night for the city of Houston electing its first openly gay mayor; Annise Parker won the runoff there with 53 percent of the vote. Houston now the largest city to ever elect an openly gay mayor.

And also in D.C. at the Senate, having another Sunday session; a crucial vote just a few hours away. There is a picture of Washington, D.C. right now. It's a huge $1.1 trillion spending plan, with emotions running high over so-called pork projects. This bill bundles 6 of the government's 12 annual budget and provides funding for more than 5,000 Congressional pet projects.

Now time to hand it over to "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING".