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AMERICAN MORNING

Thousands March, Defy Tanks in Syria; Iran Strengthening Ties with Iraq; Seven Days to Iowa Caucuses; Up To 120 Sears, Kmart Stores To Close; Countrywide Victim? Step Up To Get Paid; Hydrogen-Powered Apple Products?; Korean Former Pastor Speculates on Future of Korean Peninsula; Police Believe Missing Girl in Maine Kidnapped; Iconic Photo Images of 2011 Reviewed; Thousands March, Defy Tanks in Syria; Kim Jong Il Funeral Tonight; Countdown to Iowa Caucuses; Breast Implant Scandal; Soldier and Dog Overcome Trauma Together

Aired December 27, 2011 - 07:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Alina Cho. Right now, in Syria, people defying tanks, hitting the streets, asking the world for help. Thousands marching as Arab League monitors head to the scene of an alleged slaughter.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Now that the U.S. is out, Iran is moving in. Iran planning to forge a military partnership with Iraq. What will that mean for the U.S.? We'll talk about it in a live report -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Good morning. It's Tuesday, December 27th. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Alina Cho, along with Ali Velshi.

VELSHI: A busy morning for us. There's a lot going on right now in Syria. They've poured into the streets in Syria, as many as 20,000 protesters, pleading for international help for the city of Homs. This is what you're looking at. Where government tanks reportedly killed 42 people yesterday and apparently, have a neighborhood surrounded. Now, Arab League monitors will be there today but there is some feeling that this area that's been cordoned off may be cordoned off so this monitors can't get to it.

Let's find out what's going on there. Mohammed Jamjoom is monitoring the developments live from Cairo this morning.

Mohammed, what do you know about what's going on in Homs?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ali, we spoke to a member of the Arab League delegation. He said that they are in Homs. That the people that are there are more than free to speak to them at anytime, reach out to the Arab League members.

Now, you were talking about that video we saw, that spectacular video of at least 20,000 people demonstrating there. We spoke to opposition activist and residents there and they said that because the tanks had stopped the shelling today in Homs and because protesters weren't being shot at, what started out as a small demonstration grew because demonstrators realize they could come out because the Arab League is there, that they weren't going to be harassed today, they weren't going to be slaughtered, as they said.

Now, in those video that we saw, people were calling for international protection, calling for international help against what they're saying is a massacre that has been occurring the past few days. The Syrian government maintains that they are going to let these observers go to any area that they want to.

But opposition activists we spoke with earlier in the day said that the tanks that had been surrounding Homs and neighborhoods of Homs, it's not that they have been called out of the cities, they're alleging these tanks have been hidden in government buildings in Homs so that the observers won't see them there -- Ali.

VELSHI: All right. We'll keep a close eye on it -- in many cases through you.

Mohammed, thanks very much. Mohammed Jamjoom watching closely what's going on in Syria from Cairo.

CHO: We're also watching another developing story this morning. Iran strengthening its ties with Iraq just a week after U.S. troops left.

So, what would an Iran/Iraq defense partnership mean for the U.S.?

CNN international correspondent Arwa Damon is live from Baghdad with more on that part of the story.

Arwa, good morning. Good to see you.

So, how significant is this partnership?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on what kind of a nature it ends up taking. It is quite natural that the two countries on the one hand should forge some sort of a military partnership given that they share a very lengthy border. There are, however, great concerns, as well, because many will tell you that Iran already has a military presence in Iraq through the Iranian Quds force-backed Shia militant groups that are still operating here.

These are the groups that until the very last moment were still carrying out attacks against the U.S. military. They are groups that are still operating there. They are groups that unless they somehow lay down their weapons are going to continue to pose a challenge, not just for the U.S., but for the Iraqi government itself perhaps down the line, depending, again, how the relationship between the two countries ends up playing out.

But added to this military cooperation, we also have these war games that are taking place close to the Persian Gulf. The Iranian navy out there conducting these war games and one member of parliament has said that these maneuvers are a clear sign to the West, to the United States, that Iran -- and I'm quoting here -- "This should be seen as a serious warning about Iran's capability to the closure of the Strait of Hormuz."

And this, of course, is a critical area when it comes to the exports of oil from the Persian Gulf.

CHO: All right. CNN's Arwa Damon live from Baghdad with that part of the story. Arwa, thank you very much.

VELSHI: Pakistan wants an apology from the Pentagon. Its government is blasting a U.S. report on that November air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Pakistan says NATO shot first and claimed NATO knew its helicopters were firing on troops, but attacked for more than an hour.

The Pentagon claims Pakistani troops fired first at U.S. forces stationed near the border. U.S. officials blame the incident on a breakdown on communication.

CHO: The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will take place tomorrow, with the memorial service planned for Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are expected to pay tribute to the fallen dictator. Pyongyang state media has given out no other details about the event and foreign guests were banned.

VELSHI: Britain's Prince Philip is out of the hospital. He's back with his family this morning. He spent the past four nights recovering in a hospital in London, this after a heart operation to treat a blocked artery. He first complained of chest pains on Friday.

He's joining his family at Sandringham, which is where they typically spend Christmas. And a spokesman says he's in good spirits.

CHO: The Iowa invasion is under way this morning. The Hawkeye State is the place to be for aspiring presidents this week. And with seven days remaining until the Iowa caucuses begin, it's shaping up to be a tight and unpredictable three-way race.

CNN's Joe Johns is live in Des Moines this morning with more on that.

Hey, Joe, good morning to you. Hard to believe it's just a week away.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alina.

It sure is. And, you know, the funny thing is, one of the people we have been talking so much about through this whole campaign season, Mitt Romney -- he actually is not here in Iowa, at least this morning. He starts out the day in New Hampshire, but by later this afternoon, he like so many of the other candidates are expected to be here in the Hawkeye State traveling from place to place.

I guess probably the first thing I have to say about him is that he's got some type of a speech later today and he's also got a bus tour that is going to start on Wednesday that would be tomorrow morning.

Bus tours are very big right now. Michele Bachmann seems to be just all over the state, as it were.

There's another candidate we're watching very closely -- that would be Rick Santorum, who actually gave us a very good photo-op yesterday on what would be a slow news day in Iowa. He went pheasant hunting with Congressman Steve King, the very conservative congressman from this very state, looking, perhaps, to try to get the endorsement of Steve King, though Steve King hasn't said who he's going to support in this race, at least right now.

The one notable exception to the group here in the state is Ron Paul -- congressman who is in the statistical dead heat with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. He's expected here in the state tomorrow.

The one person, of course, we're watching closely here on CNN will be the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who is expected to appear on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer some time this afternoon. A lot of questions have now surfaced about Newt Gingrich and one of his divorces. Some new papers that CNN has unearthed have raised questions about who filed and when.

So, all of that coming up here from Iowa and we'll be watching all of it for you, Alina. Back to you.

CHO: All right, Joe Johns, waking up early for us. Thank you so much, Joe.

VELSHI: All right. Well, in order to get the Republican nomination, the candidates have to first capture the hearts and minds of social conservatives. And with a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, that battle is being fought in a very public way and it's getting personal.

Here's Mary Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newt Gingrich's wife, Callista, is a central part of Gingrich's presidential campaign, campaigning with him in Iowa, even appearing in a recent ad.

CALLISTA GINGRICH, NEWT GINGRICH'S WIFE: From our family to ours, merry Christmas and happy New Year. I'm Callista Gingrich.

SNOW: But a veteran political reporter in Iowa says that among caucus goers its questions about Gingrich's two previous marriages that have come up.

KAY HUTCHINSON, DIRECTOR, RADIO IOWA NEWS: For instance, Mitt Romney had telephone town hall meeting and one woman from Mason City Iowa made a point of thanking him for being married to the same woman for 42 years.

SNOW: This recent ad featuring Romney's wife, Ann, entitled "Character" seems to be a not so subtle dig at Gingrich's multiple marriages.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: If you want to know how a person will operate, look at how they have lived their life.

SNOW: And in this ad, Anita Perry touts her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Gingrich hasn't shied away from addressing his three marriages and past infidelities, on his Web site and in public.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have said upfront openly, I have made mistake as time, I've had to go to God for forgiveness. I've had to seek reconciliation.

But I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather and I think people have to measure who I am now, and whether I'm someone they can trust.

SNOW: In a socially conservatives state of Iowa, political watchers say personal is political.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The personal history does matter. At least in 2008, 60 percent of the participants in the Iowa caucus were evangelical Christians.

SNOW: But a strong tenant for evangelical Christian is forgiveness, making a direct appeal to them earlier this month. Gingrich signed a written pledge to defend and strengthen the family. The evangelical American Family Association endorsed it.

How significant is Gingrich's marital history? An ABC/"Washington Post" poll of Republicans nationwide found 72 percent said it is not a major factor.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll, 24 percent of Republicans found Mitt Romney was most honest and trustworthy compared to 12 percent for Gingrich.

These are national polls, but the question remains whether personal traits will be more of a factor in Iowa.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: And stay with CNN for the best political coverage on television. Today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Newt Gingrich will be live in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with our own Wolf Blitzer.

VELSHI: And then tomorrow, same time, same place, Wolf goes one on one with Mitt Romney in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

CHO: And be sure to join CNN on Tuesday night, January 3rd, for the country's real first votes and the candidates' real first test in the Iowa caucuses, one week from today, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

VELSHI: Still ahead, an all-out brawl at the mall. Police guns drawn, shoppers scrambling for the exits. Chaos after Christmas at the Mall of America. What is going on?

CHO: We're going to tell you about that. It's incredible.

Meanwhile, the lasting images of 2011. The royal couple emerges. They went in as Will and Kate and came out as the duke and duchess of Cambridge. What other defining moments made the list? We're gong to show you the most incredible pictures from the last year.

VELSHI: And the weather is about to get all kind of nasty in some parts of the country. Rainy, snow, windy, severe storms on the move. We're going to give you your forecast for the final week of the year.

It is 10 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Good morning, Chicago.

Showers and 36 degrees. More rain even a little snow going up to a balmy high of 38.

VELSHI: It's not cold in the country. Rob was pointing out earlier that -- I think, he's in Minneapolis.

Rob, are you there?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, hi.

VELSHI: Minneapolis is going to get cold, 32, right?

MARCIANO: Well, 32, but for Minneapolis -- I mean, they're wearing bikinis there.

CHO: You're joining the weather center now?

VELSHI: I'm trying to branch out a little bit, you know? Hedging my bet. I don't know what the future holds.

MARCIANO: I like that. You're welcome to join in, as well. You guys are welcome by any time.

A nasty storm is rolling up the eastern third of the country really, includes Chicago, although they're getting the back side of this thing, and it's rolling up the East Coast with a lot of heavy rain, certainly some wind, threat for severe weather with this as well, some snow as the rain changes over. We're starting to see the change over lower Michigan. It does include Chicago and the back edge of the precip is moving out of there, back in the precip through St. Louis. So, rain changing to wet snow and maybe one to four inches of stuff across parts of Indiana, Illinois and even northwestern Ohio.

That's the track of the system. Notice all the brighter colors, the blues and the yellows and the greens. Rain, Boston back through D.C., and the rain will be heavy at times, but the snow will fall as far north as far as Upstate New York, western parts across the little bit lake-enhanced snow expected in the typical spots, although this year, it's been pretty quite for lake-effect snow, because we haven't had the cold air, have we?

Thunderstorms could be severe across parts of the Carolinas, at least the low country, down across the coastland, Georgia, as well, possibly seeing tornadoes later this afternoon and windy with this storm as it continues to amplify or intensify could gust 40 to 50 miles an hour, and that will slow down some air travel.

We do have delays at the Atlanta airport because of the wind and the rain right now. D.C. will see some delays to a lesser extent because of rain. Also, some afternoon rain in Philadelphia. Chicago and Minneapolis where the high temperature will be 32 degrees will be breezy at times. Here's mild air, 56 in New York City, a little bit cooler once this thing rolls through tomorrow but still above average. Fifty-one degrees, that's kind of chilly for Atlanta. It was cold enough for snow in Idaho, even though a lot of folks didn't see a white Christmas.

This guy just northwest of Boise, where it's been dry, they haven't seen a lot of snow, he was destined to make it for his kids and the entire street. So, he began making snow in October and had enough to build his own little terrain park there. He opened it up to the entire community. That's a feel-good story.

Here's another sort of, kind of feel, this is just video we got to show you, again. Salt lake City, there you go, eight pointer, up on the rooftop, click, click, click.

CHO: Eight-pointer.

MARCIANO: Christmas Eve and a deer comes crashing through the window into the fire side chat and low and behold, venison for Christmas dinner.

CHO: You can't blame -- he just wanted to -- he's been working hard and he wanted a warm, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: He heard there were free cookies and milk.

VELSHI: He looks relatively calm, but he's having trouble getting out of there.

MARCIANO: Wildlife officials came in and escorted him out peacefully.

VELSHI: And you can see that they were taping the whole thing with their appalling (ph) back with this thing.

CHO: I love how he cracks open the door just enough to get his camera in there, but he wants to stay safe. I don't blame him.

VELSHI: Hey, Rob, am I too early in my weather forecasting career to say things like the back end of the precip like you did? MARCIANO: If you say it that way, you know, there's some question mark.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Because that's Chicago, right? Chicago is getting the back end of the precip.

MARCIANO: You can say that because you've worked there. I can't get away with that.

CHO: You don't want to put Ali in front of a map, all right?

VELSHI: No. No.

MARCIANO: Really not his back end.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: That's right. Is that Ali's back end in the precip? All right, Rob, good to se you, my friend.

MARCIANO: See you a bit.

VELSHI: All right. Boxing Day turning ugly in the UK. Police say a teenager was stabbed to death in a crowd of shoppers when a fight erupted between rival gangs over what to steal from a sporting good store on a jam packed Oxford Street. The "Wall Street Journal" says police recovered several weapons from the scene, including a knife and arrested 11 people.

CHO: And there was more chaos on the morning after Christmas here at home, too. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): Police say nine people were arrested during what they call a moving melee yesterday. It happened at the Mall of America in Minnesota, the largest mall in America. Dozens of teens brawling at the food court, and they fanned out going from store to store.

Witnesses told local reporters that the fights started after there were reports that rappers Lil' Wayne and Drake were in the building. So, that's what sparked it all. Now, police are not commenting about that just yet, but scared shoppers, they have plenty of to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are running. Some people are just staying. People are like confronting each other like in the middle of people just walking and like nobody was even around. They were just going at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, like, stores just started closing down and like the gates were going up and, so, we just didn't know what was going on and the cops were like pushing us all away from like Nordstrom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (on-camera): So, I mean, listen, the police aren't commenting on this, but maybe those two rappers were there. It wasn't the 70 percent off shoes at Nordstrom.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Yes. But that would have been -- that sounded upsetting to them that they just wanted to go to Nordstrom.

CHO: I could understand how that might spark a melee.

VELSHI: We're going to take a look at early morning markets, next.

Plus, new battery technology that could make your iPhone or iPad last days, maybe even weeks without a recharge.

CHO: That's incredible.

Also ahead, what was the most searched for term online this year? What about the most searched for person? Is it Ali Velshi? We're "Minding Your Business" next. It's 18 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Twenty-two minutes after the hour. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Sears saying it will close as many as 120 Sears and K-Mart stores. The CEO says the company is trying to reduce expenses after disappointing sales for big-ticket items this year. The locations of the store closures haven't been announced yet.

The final week of trading for 2011 begins just over an hour. The Dow and the S&P 500 are trading lower right now, and NASDAQ futures are up slightly. Two key economic reports are due out this morning at 9:00 a.m. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for October is released.

And one hour later, the consumer confidence numbers come out. Now, most analysts are expecting consumer confidence to hit a five- month high and home prices to be declining at a slower rate.

If Countrywide handled your mortgage, you might have money coming to you. The justice department is trying to track down more than 200,000 victims of Countrywide's bad practices. Last week, Bank of America agreed to a $335 million settlement to resolve charges that its Countrywide unit discriminated against Hispanic and African- American borrowers.

And the wealth gap between Americans and their congressman is growing. The "Washington Post" reports that House members' net worth doubled between 1984 and 2009 to $725,000. Over the same time period, the net worth of the average American family dropped about $100 to less than $21,000.

Loyalty programs, we've seen hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies offering them as incentives to attract customers, but now, airports are adopting the strategy, too. "USA Today" says more than 30 airports across the country have joined the Thanks Again program. It awards flyers airline miles for parking, shopping, or eating at the airports.

Apple working on Smartphones and laptops that would be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and not batteries. The company has already submitted documents to the U.S. patent and trademark office. Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and electrical energy, and they could last weeks before they need recharging.

What was the most searched term on the internet in 2011? Facebook now for the third year in a row. The social media site dominated experienced top ten list of internet searches with terms like Facebook login and Facebook.com also making the top ten. 2011 also the year of Bieber. The young singer was the number one public figure searched for online.

Well, still ahead, a $30,000 reward for a missing Maine toddler, the largest in the state's history for a missing person's case. AMERICAN MORNING is back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know what happened to my dad.

CHO (voice-over): With Kim Jong-Il gone, a North Korean pastor is hoping that his prayers will be answered after a 60-year wait on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Time now for your top stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI (voice-over): Happening right now in Syria. Thousands of protesters you can see here hitting the streets, defying the tanks, putting their lives on the line in Homs, Syria. They're chanting for international protection as the Arab league monitors head to the scene today. The opposition in Syria says 42 people were killed in Homs yesterday alone as government tanks pounded the city.

CHO: Pakistan wants an apology from the Pentagon. Pakistan is blaming a U.S. report on the November airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Pakistan says NATO shot first and claims NATO knew its helicopters were firing on troops but attacked for more than an hour. The Pentagon claims that Pakistani troops fired first at U.S. forces stationed near the border. VELSHI: The embattled president of Yemen may be coming to New York later this week for medical treatment. "The New York Times" reports the Obama administration has agreed in principal to allow Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter the country if certain conditions are met including receiving a proposed itinerary for his visit. President Saleh was badly injured in a near fatal bomb blast in June at his presidential complex.

CNN is conforming that the funeral for North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, will take place some time tonight, New York time, in North Korea with a memorial service planned for Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are expected to pay tribute to their fallen dictator. Jung Yang (ph) State Media has given no other details about the event, and foreign guests are banned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Now, Korean-Americans are keeping a close eye on their homeland this week. Kim Jong-il's death has sparked both optimism and concern. CNN's Casey Wian spoke with a North Korean born pastor who fled the communist regime six decades ago and looking for answers ever since.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Retired pastor Chang Soon Lee fled North Korea in 1950 as his homelands was ripped in half by the Korean War. At age 15, Lee's family also was torn apart.

CHANG SOON LEE, FORMER PASTOR: Because of my dad was a minister, I saw my daddy was prosecuted.

WIAN: Lee eventually emigrated to the United States where he led a Methodist congregation. But he never forgot his homeland. He's returned half a dozen times on humanitarian missions, bringing tons of food to orphanages and building noodle factories in North Korea, where millions of people reportedly starved to death in the 1990s.

LEE: It's a kind of symbolic showing our love for them. We love you. You are all brothers and sisters.

WIAN: During his missions, North Korean authorities visited places from his childhood, which still haunts him six decades later.

(on camera): I can tell you still have a connection or still feel a connection.

LEE: Yes.

WIAN: What is that connection?

LEE: I want to know what happened to my dad. Whether he lives or dies, how?

WIAN (voice-over): As North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, mourns the death of his father, Lee hopes he works towards open towards North Korean democracies.

LEE: There must be change, but we don't know if the change is worse or better. Hopefully the young leader is wise enough.

WIAN: Now retired at 76, Lee says South Korea and the United States also have a responsibility to promote peace.

LEE: We have to give them confidence or trust that we are not taking you. We support you and work together for the better world.

WIAN: And perhaps Lee hopes that will lead to answers about his father.

LEE: I want to know what happened to him.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Roland Heights, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Later today, police are expected to release the names of the seven family members found shot to death in a suburban Dallas apartment on Christmas Day. There are reports that the gunman, dressed as Santa Claus, may have been related to the family by marriage. Police are investigating whether a divorce may have played a part in the shooting.

CHO: Police in Detroit have uncovered new details in the disturbing case of four dead bodies found stuffed in abandon cars. Three of the victims are now linked to ads for adult dating services posted on Backpage.com. All of the victims are black women in their 20s. Two were found Christmas Day inside a burning car. The other two were discovered less than a week before in a car outside of the vacant homes.

VELSHI: And developments in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. Jerry Sandusky's wife, Dottie, reportedly expressed concerns about her husband's behavior long before a grand jury investigation was launched. That is according to local State College radio host and family friend Jeff Buyers. Buyers telling CNN contributor Sara Ganim that Dottie Sandusky feared that her husband he had boundary issues that could lead to accusations against him.

CHO: Police are stepping up their search for a missing toddler from Maine. A $30,000 reward for any information about the disappearance of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds. She was last seen in her bed just days before Christmas. Police say they are now confident that the little girl was abducted. Our Deb Feyerick reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's Friday night, December 16th. And 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds is ready for bed, wearing her green polka dots pajamas with the words "Daddy's Princess" on the front. Her father Justin DiPietro puts her to sleep. He says it's the last time he saw his daughter. The next morning, Ayla was gone, vanished some time during the night. DiPietro had been caring for baby Ayla for weeks after her mother, Trista Reynolds, checked herself into a 10-day rehab program. After completing rehab, Reynolds filed court papers to regain custody of her daughter. The papers were filed the day before Ayla was last seen. Police say both parents are fully cooperating in the case and say they have no suspects yet. But they are certain Ayla was taken from her home on that Friday night.

JOE MASSEY, WATERVILLE POLICE CHIEF: We believe that someone was involved in taking her out of the house, and that's where the focus of this investigation has turned.

FEYERICK: Two days after Ayla's disappearance, Trista Reynolds tells various media outlets, including HLN's Nancy Grace, that she worried her daughter was not safe with her father. The day after Ayla's mother gives these interviews, Justin DiPietro writes a letter to law enforcement. He says he has no idea what happened to his daughter, nor does he know who is responsible for her disappearance, adding, "I will not make accusations or insinuations towards anyone until police have been able to prove who is responsible for this."

Meanwhile, the search for Ayla widens. Police receive nearly 200 tips. Civilian volunteers join state, local and federal authorities in over 80 searches of the area, including a nearby river, a pond, and several hiking trails. Cadaver dogs are brought in. Still, no sign of the missing girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she OK? Is she laying somewhere dead? Is she safe? Is she cold? Is she being fed? Is someone watching her?

RONALD REYNOLDS, AYLA GRANDFATHER: Bring her home. Just bring her home to us. I want my baby home. I want her home.

FEYERICK: And on Christmas Day, prayers instead of presents for Ayla. It's been over a week since the blonde-haired, blue eyed toddler was last seen. In these cases, time is the enemy. The police continue their search, hoping a new $30,000 reward will bring them closer to finding little Ayla.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Coming up, something I'm really looking forward to. We're going to be looking back on some of the most powerful and iconic images of 2011. What photos best captured the photos that mattered most. From camels on the streets of Cairo to tense moments in the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, or something lighter. Was it the royal couple and that gorgeous wedding dress? We're going to talk about it with the founder of one of the biggest photo agencies in the world, next.

It's 37 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHO: It's 8:39, time to wake up, Atlanta, Georgia, where it is cloudy and 46 degrees. High winds expected there later with a high of 49.

Welcome back. The power of photographs that capture our most memorable moments, moments of fear, love, life, and laughter. Right now we want to relive some of the most powerful moments of 2011 through the year's best images, and here to talk about that is Jonathan Klein. He is the co-founder of Getty Images, one of the largest stock photos agencies in the world. Mr. Klein, thank you so much for joining us. Good morning.

You know, one of the biggest stories this year was, of course, the Arab spring that led to the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and also forced Hosni Mubarak to step down in Egypt. I want to talk about two photos that you selected as some of the best of 2011. The first one is from Egypt, and it's a compelling one. I want to talk about it.

JONATHAN KLEIN, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, GETTY IMAGES: Yes, absolutely. Good morning. That photo was taken by one of our long- term and great staff photographers who was unfortunately killed by pro-Gadhafi forces in Libya in April. But Chris took that photo, and Chris has been in many, many warzones and he said he never imagined that he would be charged by a man on a camel. And it shows you quite how unusual and unexpected the Arab spring was and how it started in Egypt and then moved across the region. It's a very powerful photo. I think it captures the energy and, as I said a moment ago, the very unusual nature of the events.

CHO: That's right. I think a lot of people were struck by people riding camels through the streets of Tahrir Square. It was really remarkable.

Meanwhile, the other photo that was taken by the same photographer, who, as you mentioned, died in the crossfire in Libya, was taken just about a week before he died in Libya. This image also became instantly iconic. It was on the cover of "Washington Post" and other publications all over the world, really. It's of a rebel rocket launch. Talk about this photo.

KLEIN: Well, it says a lot of things. The first thing it tells me is these photojournalists get way too close to the action. They take all the precautions, but they have to be very, very close. And, as you can see, Chris was right in the middle of it.

I think the media image also captures almost the fire behind it, behind the whole Arab spring. There seemed to be so much pent up emotion and people were getting their hands on whatever weapons they could to take on long-term repressive regimes and in the case of, of course, both Egypt and Libya, proved successful in removing dictators who would be in power for a very long time. I think the photo has a lot of energy. I like the colors in it, and it shows, to me, what a revolt looks like. And it comes across very well.

CHO: One of the things, and we have the photo up right now. One of the things you're able to do at Getty is really get places and get inside places that Americans can't get inside of, like the Situation Room in the White House. And this one, I remember seeing this for the first time, and it just took my breath away. It is the moments that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, and it was taken, you see, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This photo did become instantly iconic. You see Barack Obama and Joe Biden there.

You know, you do sort of look at this and you wonder what is going through the minds of all these people, don't you?

KLEIN: Well, you look at their faces and, as you said a moment ago, there is no way we can get into the Situation Room, I would say, ever, yet alone at such a key moment. And the White House allowed the White House photographer Pete Souza to be in there with them. I'm sure at that point in time Pete was the last thing they were thinking about. You look at everybody's faces in there and it's become the image of getting Osama bin Laden after a decade, largely because we don't have any others. Of course, had there been images of the burial at sea or the body or anything around the compound in real-time, those might have become the images of that moment. But this one in the Situation Room will always be the moment we got Osama bin Laden.

CHO: So instantly iconic that it's been parodied all over the place.

Meanwhile, this year, also, saw a lot of devastating natural disasters, obviously, one of them being Joplin, Missouri. And one photo here I find so poignant and really incredible. Do you know the story behind this photo?

KLEIN: Well, that case we had long-time photographer who had just come back from Libya and he spent some time over there. And it's really harks back to two very famous photos, the flag at Iwo Jimi, and, again, the flag after 9/11, also 10 years ago. I think you know it shows people in the midst of devastation they turn to symbols and to emotions where they feel they can get some strength and accomplish, in this case --

CHO: And they also -- that also that people are resilient.

KLEIN: Yes the resilience is extraordinary. Over 130 people died at Joplin and people carried on. It was a dreadful year for natural disasters.

CHO: Wow.

KLEIN: And there were -- there were earthquakes and in New Zealand there was the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan. People have forgotten about some of these other events, which were all over the world. Australia, too, suffered. Natural disasters seem to hit pretty much every month during the first half of the year.

CHO: They did.

KLEIN: And that was a very powerful moment. CHO: We want to end with something a little more uplifting and what is more uplifting than the royal wedding? Probably the most uplifting story of the year. And -- and look at that photo there of Prince William and -- and his bride, Catherine. I mean one look at that dress and it kind of says it all. Doesn't it, I mean, it was the dress that the world was waiting to see.

KLEIN: And the world didn't seem to be disappointed with the dress, the bride or the groom or frankly the wedding. For us to cover the wedding was a massive logistical exercise. We had about 100 photographers over all London.

CHO: Wow.

KLEIN: And we had to make sure that we got the iconic images. One the iconic images we're showing now and another one was the kiss. Which -- he didn't kiss her for long enough, so the photographers really had to be very, very ready.

CHO: There's no do over on that, is there?

KLEIN: No do over. You can shout as much as you like out to the balcony, do it again and he either will or won't. We were very pleased to get those images.

It was also extraordinary in the amount of interest. It was the most watched television event, perhaps ever. You would know better than I and the story keeps running. I think I barely pick up a magazine these days without Kate or her sister on the cover. So it's selling magazines too. It's a -- it's a lovely story and it's a nice story to end the year.

CHO: Well and they have brought, that's right, and they brought renewed interest to the royal family and lots of warm feelings towards the royal family because of that wedding.

So, it was extraordinary and 100 photographers covering it, just incredible. Just goes to show you what -- what Getty has in terms of an operation.

Jonathan Klein, I thank you for joining us. Happy holidays.

KLEIN: Thank you. And most welcome.

CHO: Thank you. And thank you for bringing us those iconic images from the last year.

Your "Morning Headlines" are next. It's 47 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Its 49 minutes after the hour. Here are your "Morning Headlines".

Protests swelling in Syria as we speak; tens of thousands are marching in the city of Homs. Police reportedly firing tear gas at them. They are demanding international help as Arab League monitors head to the scene today. The opposition says 42 people were killed in Homs alone yesterday.

The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il will take place tonight in North Korea with a memorial service planned for Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are expected to pay tribute to the former dictator. Pyongyang state media has given no other details about the event.

Markets open in about 45 minutes. It looks like the final trading week of 2011 will be getting off to a sluggish start. Dow and S&P 500 futures are down right now and NASDAQ futures are trading slightly higher.

Nine people arrested in Minnesota for a brawl at the Mall of America. Starting with dozens of teens fighting in a food court and then swarming from store to store. Police say no shoppers were hurt.

One week to go before the Iowa caucuses and according to the polls Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are in a statistical dead heat for the lead.

Be sure to join CNN on Tuesday night January 3rd for the country's first real votes and the candidate's first true test in the Iowa caucuses. It's one week from today, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees now owns the NFL record for the most passing yards in a season. He passed Dan Marino last night on Monday Night Football as New Orleans clobbered the Atlanta Falcons, 45-16. Brees now has 5,087 passing yards on the year and still one game to go.

That's the news you need to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Welcome back.

We want to bring you a developing story now about substandard breast implants sold to nearly 1,000 women in the Netherlands. Now officials say that these dangerous implants were made by a now defunct French company and sold under a different name.

Now, health officials are fearing that it could actually affect 300,000 women worldwide. The implants are filled with an industrial grade silicone instead of a surgical silicone and that means those implant are more likely to rupture or leak.

Britain's Prince Philip released from hospital overnight he spent four nights recovering from a heart operation to threat a blocked coronary artery. A palace spokeswoman says he's in good spirits. Prince Philip is joining his family at Sandringham (ph) where they typically spend Christmas. He's 90 years old. He looks pretty good for 90.

CHO: Yes does and they'll be able to enjoy New Year's now with the family. That will be great.

On today's "Human Factor", one came home from Iraq, the other Afghanistan both overcoming trauma and they find unexpected support in one another. But there is a huge twist here.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta has the story of a soldier and his best friend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The story begins a long time ago with a boy and his mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never expect to have a child and send them to war.

GUPTA: The boy becomes a man and then comes 9/11 and the Army is calling his name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do remember crying, pleading, begging then it got to the point where you have to support what they want to do.

GUPTA: Jeff rolled through Baghdad in 2003. He did two tours of duty, fighting in the desert.

When he comes home, there are violent outbursts. Heavy drinking, a stay in rehab and, finally, a diagnosis. Severe post traumatic stress disorder.

JEFF MITCHELL, ARMY VETERAN WITH PTSD: I never left my room. Drinking the entire time I was awake. So, there wasn't a whole lot there.

Come here.

GUPTA: But here it gets better. You see, this story has a girl. Jeff gets involved with a group called Paws for Vets and he meets Tazzie. She had been picked up running wild in Afghanistan. She was a psychological wreck.

MITCHELL: There's six to eight guys and probably eight dogs. The first thing that she did was find a corner and get as far into that corner as she could. I could sit here and pet a dog all day.

GUPTA: As you could see, in nine months, Tazzie has come a long way. Jeff, too. It's obvious he's still on edge, but Tazzie makes his life easier.

MITCHELL: Go play.

GUPTA: When someone walks up behind them, she'll give Jeff a nudge. And when the dark thoughts start to cascade, Tazzie is there to stem the flow.

(on camera): Can Tazzie tell?

Jeff: It will be something just as simple as, you know, her coming over to me and whatever else may be going through my mind, just, you know, gets knocked down a notch or two.

GUPTA (voice-over): It may not sound like much, but with Tazzie, Jeff gets out of the house. Even to public events like this one with Paws for Vets.

(on camera): You think about all that modern medicine has to offer and in Jeff's case, it wasn't enough, it sounds like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

GUPTA: But then this dog comes into his life and seems to help a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, more than a lot. She has saved him. She absolutely has --

GUPTA: You believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely know that she has saved him.

MITCHELL: You done showing off?

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Brazelton, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: A great story.

CHO: Yes.

VELSHI: It is 56 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Perfect. Let's get the party started because it's going to be New Year's Eve pretty soon. New York, get up please. Get out of bed. 44 and cloudy -- I am usually pretty sympathetic but it 9:00 in the morning. It's time to get out of bed. And by the way, if you don't get out of bed soon, you're going to miss whatever sun is left because it is going to be rainy and windy and 56 degrees.

CHO: Sky looks beautiful though. I hope there is no rain today, but I don't know; it's probably going to happen.

VELSHI: The weather gods aren't supporting you.

CHO: I know.

This Saturday as Ali mentioned is New Year's Eve. The forecast is sunny with temperatures in the mid 40s. So are your plans set yet? Why not grab a bottle of champagne and pull up a chair because the big party kicks off this Saturday night right here on CNN. Our Anderson Cooper and Cathy Griffin back at it. They'll, again, be co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve celebration live from Times Square.

Get ready. CNN correspondents will provide supports from celebrations around the country and around the world. Again, that party starts Saturday night 11:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

VELSHI: And that does it for us. We'll be back here bright and early again tomorrow morning. Actually, I'll be back tonight at 7:00 eastern with "OUT FRONT" but right now we're handing it over to Hala Gorani with the "CNN NEWSROOM". Good morning -- Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Good morning Ali and Alina.