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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Saddam Hussein's Death Sentence Upheld; James Brown Remembered; Search Continues For Missing American Mountain Climbers in China

Aired December 26, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Two storms brewing tonight, each one potentially big trouble: a major weather system taking aim at this country; and the makings of a firestorm over the execution of Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Appeal denied, death sentence upheld -- they cheered when Saddam fell. What happens when he really gets to the end of his rope?

No jive. He made the world jump.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: Saying goodbye to the godfather of soul.

And Donald Trump, billionaire, right?

DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: I'm worth many billions of dollars, many billions of dollars.

ANNOUNCER: Not so fast, Mr. Money Bags. New questions about the Donald's wealth, new answers from the experts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And I want to welcome our viewers here in America and watching all around the world on CNN International right now.

We begin tonight with signs that Mother Nature is winding up for another haymaker, the second winter punch in a week.

Tracking it for us tonight, CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, this storm is dangerous for a couple of reasons. One, by the end of the week, we are going to have significant tornadoes across the southeastern part of the United States, but, before that, a bunch of snow for people that are traveling back and forth to home or back from grandma's house or even someplace maybe for the new year.

The storm is now on shore. The snow is coming down through the Sierra. There will be three feet of snow in the ski resorts. That's great news, if you're already there, but not if you're trying to drive there.

Then, we move you a little bit farther to the north and to the east. We're seeing snow across the passes, through Idaho, Montana, and then into Colorado. And here's where it gets really tough.

Colorado, Denver, just smacked last week with 20 to 30 inches of snow. Well, with this next storm, we're looking at 10 to 20 additional inches on top of what you have, and then blowing and drifting conditions.

Here's how it shapes up. Here's tomorrow, heavy mountain snows. If you're traveling through the mountains tomorrow, you need to be prepared. Wouldn't be a bad idea to stop off and get that little set of chains to put on the car as well. You can always use them some other time -- a dangerous storm to drive through the mountain passes without chains tomorrow.

Then, it moves to the east. Denver gets it Thursday morning, and then all day Friday, and blizzard conditions across I-80, I-70, and I- 40, right through the Plains. And here's where the severe weather pops up Friday into Saturday. We will have tornadoes on the ground, damaging tornadoes, a dangerous situation that we hope doesn't turn into a deadly one -- Anderson.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It looks like a bad one.

Chad, thanks very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COOPER: There was breaking news out of Iraq today. An appeals court upheld Saddam Hussein's death sentence, a decision that barely four years ago would have seemed unimaginable to most, if not all, Iraqis.

Under Iraqi law, the execution must be carried out within 30 days, before January 27. Iraq's prime minister has already said he will not stay the execution, which is to say that the former Iraqi leader, found guilty in the killings of 148 people while he was in power, appears to have run out of options.

CNN's Arwa Damon has more now from Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soon, this will be the fate of Saddam Hussein and two of his co-defendants -- this video recorded and distributed by the Iraqi government the final moments of 13 men convicted of murder and kidnapping, and sentenced to death by hanging.

Since the Iraqi government reinstated the death penalty in August of 2004, dozens of Iraqi prisoners have been sentenced to death. Now it is the turn of Iraq's former dictator, whose very image enough to instill fear.

He will now face a fate like many ordinary criminals in Iraq. The decision is final -- the trial court sentence upheld by the appellate chamber.

AREF SHAHEEN, HEAD OF THE IRAQI HIGH TRIBUNAL (through translator): The appeals court has decided to uphold the guilty verdict and sentence against the accused, Saddam Hussein, Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan, and Awad al-Bandar, by hanging them to death for committing crimes against humanity.

DAMON: It was often a chaotic trial, regular outbursts from the defendants, who even appeared in their pajamas, accusations of government interference. Human Rights Watch called the trial fundamentally flawed.

Predictably, Saddam's lawyers said that upholding the sentence was a crazy ruling. But they were in a small minority.

(on camera): As the judge read out the final decision to execute Saddam Hussein, Iraq's former dictator, we saw members of the Iraqi media here giving each other the thumb's up, and smiles on nearly everyone's faces, including representatives of the Iraqi government and members of the Iraqi high tribunal.

(voice-over): And, as one government official put it, it's now game over for Saddam.

MITHAL ALOOSI, MEMBER OF IRAQI PARLIAMENT: This is our Iraqi day. And we ask the government to close the file as soon as possible. We are not ready to hear anybody saying to us, still Saddam alive, and he will come back. He will never come back.

DAMON (voice-over): According to Iraqi law, Saddam's execution will be witnessed by members of the Iraqi judicial system, members of the government, and medical experts.

BASSEM RIDHA, ADVISER TO PRIME MINISTER NOURI AL-MALIKI: Finally, we are seeing an end to this. And, hopefully, the executive branch of the government will take command and in charge of this, and will deliver the execution verdict, just like it's been certified appealed by the appeal chamber.

DAMON: The Iraqi government is discussing the execution details, who will be invited to witness the execution, and whether it will be broadcast on television. The clock for Saddam and two of his co- defendants is ticking. The sentence must be carried out by January 27.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Arwa, I guess they have not decided whether or not they're going to televise his execution.

How -- how closely is this story and has this trial been followed by Iraqi media?

DAMON: Well, by the Iraqi media, very closely. State-owned television tends to broadcast every single court session, obviously broadcast that announcement by the appellate court live. They follow it very closely.

Sunni channels, though, on the other hand -- and this is rather interesting -- do not broadcast the trial. In fact, the day that Saddam's verdict and sentence were announced, on November 5, they barely even covered that story.

In terms of it being televised or not, that is actually what the Iraqi government is currently debating as we speak. On the one hand, they do want to broadcast it live. They do want the entire nation to see that Saddam Hussein has been brought to justice.

There's also the concern that, if it is not televised and broadcast live, that some Iraqis may feel that Saddam Hussein is not actually dead. On the other hand, they fear that, if they do broadcast it live, they will be viewed as a brutal regime, and that that could potentially even increase the violence here -- Anderson.

COOPER: Arwa Damon from Baghdad -- thanks, Arwa.

The final ruling on Saddam's death sentence came on a day as bloody as ever in Iraq. Attacks -- attacks across the nation today killed at least 46 Iraqis and three American soldiers. At least 41 slain bodies were found strewn across Baghdad as well.

It has been three years and eight months since Saddam Hussein's government fell. And, since there, much in Iraq, of course, has changed, not just the explosion of sectarian violence, but also the basics of everyday life, including electricity, which is as scarce as ever.

Here's CNN's Cal Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAL PERRY, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The sounds of Baghdad: helicopters, sirens, and the ever-present sounds of generators. It's one of the hottest items. A new one can go as high as 35,000 U.S. dollars.

Most people share generators, as it's estimated the average Iraqi income is only around 950 U.S. dollars per year. Just less than half of all Iraqis are forced to supplement street power with generators. The average Baghdad resident only sees six hours of government- supplied power per day, making fuel to power the generators a necessity.

As is true with everything in Iraq, power itself has become a power struggle, pitting militias, insurgents and the U.S. military into a game of resources. The Mahdi army uses its control of petrol in Sadr City to soften its image, providing basic services where government cannot.

Residents tell CNN, they protect fuel stations, control distribution. Members of the Mahdi army tell CNN they even have a stamp system which acts as a coupon, 60 liters per stamp to help distribute resources fairly. Unwilling to rely or trust the security forces across the board, protecting electricity has been a virtual failure.

Insurgents seem to be attacking the infrastructure faster than it can be repaired or protected, the U.S. military, faced with the task of providing security to a wide network, vulnerable for guerrilla war.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM MCCOY, U.S. ARMY: As either lines have blown down or been blown down in the areas surrounding Baghdad, which has caused the minister of electricity be unable to get power into the city, and that -- and that's problematic. So -- but, he has rapid- response teams out repairing those lines.

PERRY: A report on the problem presented to the U.S. Congress confirms the desperation of Iraq's electricity minister, quoting him as saying: "Every day, I send repair teams, but they can want get to the area. There are too many insurgents. I have spoken to everyone. No one can help."

Under Saddam, the power situation was better. In Baghdad, for example, residents received up to 16 hours per day. Iraqis just want answers and relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Since the fall of the regime, we have had no electricity. We thought things might change after the fall of the regime. We were hoping that whoever came to power would make things better. I guess we miscalculated.

PERRY (on camera): Public services here in Iraq lack across the board. Security prevents hand mail from even being delivered. And the sewage system is as old and as faulty as the electricity grid.

As more and more Iraqi troops prepare to take over for the U.S. military, they will be judged harshly by an Iraqi public that's now turning to their militias for more than just security.

Cal Perry, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, as big a crisis as Iraq is, it's not the only trouble spot on the map. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are also escalating, with Iran vowing over the weekend to push forward with its own nuclear program. "At full speed" was the way an official put it. Iran also threatened to drop out of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency -- all that a day after the U.N. Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Now, if it sounds like U.S. diplomats and our military have a lot on their plate, they certainly do -- maybe too much.

Here's CNN's Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran is just one of several countries where U.S. diplomatic efforts may be reaching the end of the line and tensions could erupt. But, with the U.S. stretched thin in Iraq, and with few allies around the world, military solutions don't appear on the horizon. Analysts say, Iran is a case in point.

STEPHEN BIDDLE, SENIOR FELLOW IN DEFENSE POLICY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: And I think, at the end of the day, we may very well end up deciding that we would rather live with a nuclear Iran, and deter them from using the things once they get them, than do the things we have to do to prevent them from getting it.

STARR: The limits of diplomacy appear to be growing. Six-party talks with North Korea about their nuclear program have disbanded -- China and South Korea making clear there is a limit to their participation in sanctions to punish North Korea. But there is no thought of attacking either Iran or North Korea.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Autocratic regimes are not fearful of the United States, the way they might have been in 2002, before the Iraq war was prosecuted. North Korea, Sudan, especially Iran, look at the United States and say, well, we don't take these military threats as seriously. You are bogged down in a Vietnam-style conundrum in Iraq.

STARR: And, this week, open warfare between an Islamic militia in Somalia and Ethiopia; 1,800 U.S. troops in the Horn of Africa are doing humanitarian relief work. They hope they can stay out of it, but they boosted their security measures in the last few days.

It is another war that may spread, but one American forces want to avoid. Experts say, diplomacy is still the answer from a Bush administration now exhausted by Iraq.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: When I have talked to former American leaders and asked the general question, what's the main constraint on America's effectiveness abroad during multiple crises? Is it our military? Is it our economic power? They say, no, it is the time and focus of top decision-makers, starting with the president and, of course, the secretary of state and defense and Treasury.

STARR (on camera): The U.S. military likes to say no option is off the table. But, in most hot spots today, the plan mainly appears to be to stay out of the way.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, caution and diplomacy are the order of the day, because, as Barbara mentioned, the U.S. military is stretched thin, especially when it come to forces on the ground.

Here's the "Raw Data."

The U.S. military has nearly 1.4 million active-duty personnel, but as few as 30,000 to 45,000 combat-ready troops now available for action outside of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Iran reportedly has an active force of about half-a-million, with another 350,000 men on reserve. And, according to the State Department, North Korea has an active military force of about 1.2 million.

Iran was certainly one of the big flash points this past year, in a year which has seen many flash points.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: An explosive 2006, when flash points lit up the globe.

Iraq.

LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.

ANNOUNCER: The border.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: That's all we want, comprehensive immigration reform.

ANNOUNCER: Lebanon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More are being killed, more destruction, and more aggression against the civilians in Lebanon.

ANNOUNCER: Washington.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead.

ANNOUNCER: Global terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

ANNOUNCER: Host Tom Foreman and his panel of fearless guests...

LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Our response to stuff is so stupid.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: The kind of rhetoric that Lewis has been talking about has been incredibly damaging.

ANNOUNCER: Examine how the flash points of 2006 will shape your 2007.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: "Flashpoint 360" is a special report starting in our next hour on 360 at 11:00 Eastern time.

Well, a spat between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump certainly doesn't qualify as a global flash point, but it has got -- well, it has got this guy hot under the collar. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I never filed bankruptcy. I never went bankrupt. But she said I went bankrupt. So, probably I will sue her, because it would be fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Because it would be fun, he says.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Coming up, we will look at the many different estimates of the Trump fortune and why he is so quick to threaten a lawsuit to anyone who questions his bottom line.

Also ahead, our series on miracles focuses on a monk who died in 1968. And a woman says he came to her dying son's bedside a few years ago and saved his life.

But next, stories about the godfather of soul from the man who says James Brown was like a father to him -- the Reverend Al Sharpton when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

COOPER: You are looking at why James Brown was indeed the hardest working man in show business. Tonight, we remember this true American original who died of pneumonia yesterday. He was larger than life. But Brown was also very human.

Even though his legacy lives on in so many ways, it is hard to imagine the world without the godfather of soul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): He was the hardest working man in show business up until the end. On Friday, James Brown appeared at this toy giveaway in Georgia. Three days later, he was dead.

CHARLES BOBBITT, FRIEND OF JAMES BROWN: He sighed very, very quietly and very gently three times. Then, he closed his eyes, and he was dead.

COOPER: Born into poverty in 1933, Brown shined shoes for money. When an injury cut short a boxing career, he took a shot at music. It paid off.

In a career spanning half-a-century, Brown sold millions of records and transformed an entire industry. James Brown gave us something new: soul. And he declared himself its godfather.

In the '70s, Brown's grooves created another groundbreaking genre, funk. Brown is also heavily sampled in rap. During the civil rights movement, he was a pioneer and peacemaker, a symbol of pride to African-Americans, and a calming voice in the days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

His music was innovative.

JAMES BROWN, MUSICIAN: I think the most important thing was probably James Brown.

COOPER: So were his moves. His dancing has been copied by everyone from Mick Jagger to Michael Jackson. Brown's unique style, well-coiffed hair and often unintelligible remarks became fodder for comics, most famously, perhaps, Eddie Murphy on "Saturday Night Live."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Brown had plenty of triumphs in his life, and there was plenty of trouble as well. He was arrested several times. In 1988, he led police in South Carolina on a high-speed chase. Brown spent time in prison and drug rehab.

Recently, however, he had been out of the headlines and back headlining, performing about 100 shows a year. In an interview with Larry King, he explained where he drew his energy from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

BROWN: I pray to God. And I thank God. And I trust people. And I draw from good spirits of people that are positive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: James Brown became part of our family at CNN, helping us ring in 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Right now, we bring you the godfather of soul, James Brown.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He was going to return for this New Year's celebration. Tonight, we celebrate his extraordinary life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, James Brown entertained millions over the years.

To the Reverend Al Sharpton, though, he was much more than an entertainer.

I spoke to Sharpton earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, tell me about the first time you met James Brown. What was that like?

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I was awestruck. When I walked in the dressing room, I thought I was in the presence of deity.

I mean, this was James Brown.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: And he said, I want to help you. I want to build you up. He said, if you listen to me, I will make you the biggest civil rights leader in America. He said, but you can't go for nothing small. You have got to go for the whole hog.

COOPER: Who was it like being on the road with him? I understand people used to think you were his tour manager, you guys were so close.

SHARPTON: Right.

I mean, it -- it was like hitting the lotto, I guess.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: I mean, there's no way to describe a 16-year-old kid living in the middle of the hood, in the projects, and you're flying around on a private jet with the most powerful, visible black cultural figure in the world.

And, everywhere he lands, 20,000, 30,000 people there to see him, and him teaching you on his private jet how to fight political causes, how to stand for civil rights. I mean, in '82, he took me to the White House to meet with President Reagan, where he was lobbying for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

So, it was an amazing transformation for me from local street activist to the high echelons of entertainment.

COOPER: He used to flash people on the screen with his hand -- on the stage to his band, like he would flash his fingers, like five, five, five. What was he doing? Do you know?

SHARPTON: If he was dancing and singing and someone in the band hit a band note or missed a note, he flashed. And, every time he did that, they were fined $10.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: And they would have to come off the stage and pay the fine, or it would be deducted from their salary. That was the strict disciplinarian he was. He didn't take any nonsense. He was very strict, even with me.

When I was on the road with him, if he played a nightclub, I had to stay in the dressing room, because you're a minister. You can't be around alcohol.

COOPER: I read, also, that he lost like seven to 10 pounds per performance, because he was -- I mean, he was -- he was just giving it all for the audience.

SHARPTON: No, he would commonly lose seven to 10 pounds dancing.

He would stay on the stage, Anderson -- I have seen this myself -- he would be on stage some nights three or four hours, come off the stage, and say, I don't like the way the band sounded, half-hour rehearsing, and rehearse another three hours.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: We had been there seven, eight hours. Then, he would go in the dressing room and have his hair stylist roll up his hair and sit under the dryer an hour.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: I mean, that was a normal night for James Brown.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: But, now, he gave you your hairstyle.

SHARPTON: That's correct.

When we were going to lobby President Reagan, no one knew who I was. I was just going with James Brown. This is 1982. He brought me by right here in Augusta, Georgia, his hairstylist, and he said, I want you to style Rev's hair like mine.

He called me Rev.

And I want when people see you to see me. I want them to know you're like my son.

And I said, all right. And we did it. And I didn't call home and tell my mother.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: And, then, when we got on the plane headed to Washington, he said, I want you to keep your hair like that as long as I live. So, many people never understood where my hairstyle came from. But it was my bonding with James Brown.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, when you think about it, with soul, funk, I mean, hip-hop, rap, R&B, I mean, James Brown was at the core of all of these.

SHARPTON: He was at the core. And all of them imitated him. And all of them openly had to admit that, I mean, from Michael Jackson to Mick Jagger.

And, again, you have got to remember, I'm a teenager sitting in the dressing room, watching an icon and all these superstars coming to pay homage to him. And then he would lecture me. Reverend, that's what I am telling you. Don't imitate people. If you're an original, people imitate you. You got to believe in what you're doing.

COOPER: If you look at his background, given away, raised by his aunt Honey in -- in -- really, in a brothel, for all intents and purposes. I mean, no one...

SHARPTON: Right.

COOPER: No one gave him anything. He created something out -- out of nothing, and did it over and over, and was such an innovator.

I mean, where does -- where does that come from?

SHARPTON: I don't know.

I used to ask him all the time, what -- you never had music training. You never had voice training. How could you do this?

And he would say that -- he said, it was God giving me a talent, and me believing enough in God and myself to do it.

COOPER: I don't think a lot of people kind of remember or understand the impact he had, you know: "Say it Loud; I'm Black and I'm Proud."

He really changed the way African-Americans viewed themselves in some ways.

SHARPTON: He was a pioneer in black entrepreneurship. He was the first black artist to buy several radio stations.

And then the song in '68, "Say it Loud; I'm Black and I'm Proud," literally changed blacks from calling themselves Negroes to black. James Brown raised the consciousness of a whole downtrodden community. And because he came from nothing, and because he wasn't tall and strapping and light-skinned, which was the -- the accepted tone of black entertainers at the time, people could relate to him, because he was one of us that made it on his own terms.

COOPER: I know you have probably seen this a lot already today, because people are playing it when they talk to you, but I -- I have just got to play it for our audience.

It's you on "Saturday Night Live" recently, your own tribute to James Brown. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

SHARPTON: I feel good. I knew that I would. Hey, so good, so good. I got you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Even you can do a James Brown.

SHARPTON: Well, James Brown -- let me say this -- he loved people.

And I want to say tonight, the first time, we have decided that, because of that love, on Thursday, we're bringing him back to New York. He will lie in state at the Apollo Theater from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m.

I don't think he can rest in peace until he says goodbye to the people that made him what he was.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, if you want to pay your respects to James Brown, you can go to the Apollo Theater from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. And he will be there -- the Reverend Al Sharpton remembering his friend James Brown and mentor.

Next: an exclusive report. Our John Vause goes into the wilderness of China to join the search party for two missing American mountaineers. we will have an update.

Also, he is threatening to sue Rosie O'Donnell for saying he is bankrupt. So, how much money is Donald Trump really worth? He says he's a billionaire.

And, in our series on miracles, one of Catholic -- the Catholic Church's newest saints, more than six million people a year visit his home, and tell some astonishing stories.

First, a bit more of James Brown.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Two American climbers, one distant mountain -- inside the search, a 360 exclusive, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There it is. The sight of another rescue operation for Americans stranded at the top of the world. This time literally halfway around the world.

Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler set out to scale a 20,000- foot peak in China. They are experienced mountaineers. That was back in November. They've been missing now for weeks, but some intriguing clues are turning up.

CNN's John Vause went into the Chinese wilderness for this exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language) America.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For almost two weeks, Ted Callahan has been trying to retrace the last footsteps of his two friends, Americans Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler.

TED CALLAHAN, SEARCH LEADER: We're looking all in here. So it's not a small area.

VAUSE: It's guess work as best.

CALLAHAN: It's not going to sound too hopeful. Originally, we were dealing with, say, thousands of square kilometers, and now we're down to hundreds.

VAUSE: From e-mails they sent, it's known the pair reached the summit of this mountain, Yellow Peak, between October 20 and 22. Two days later, stayed at this hostel in nearby Kungdin (ph). From there, headed further up the mountains to the small frontier town of Litung (ph).

(on camera) This is the only road to the town where Christine and Charlie were last seen, and parts are quite dangerous. In fact, we've been advised by the U.S. consulate that we shouldn't drive on this road at night. We still have many, many hours to go before we get there.

(voice-over) The roads are icy, a light covering of snow on the hills.

CALLAHAN: This is a really hopeful sign, and if there's any -- basically any traces wouldn't have been buried yet by snow.

VAUSE (on camera): In Litung (ph) on November 9, they ate at this restaurant, which is popular with foreign tourists. Christine signed the book here. Friends confirmed this is her handwriting.

The message reads, in part, "Countryside reminds us of home. We'll be back."

Later that night, she went to an Internet cafe, possibly this one, e-mailing friends back home that by morning, she and Charlie planned to go to the Genyin (ph) area, a six-hour drive east. But there is no indication of precisely where.

CALLAHAN: We feel it's pretty unlikely that at the last minute, unless weather or something else came up, that they would change their plans.

VAUSE: Christine Boskoff is considered one of America's best mountaineers, one of the few who have reached the top of Everest. Charlie Fowler, a filmmaker and photographer who's been climbing for 35 years.

Their friends back home are offering a $4,000 reward for any information. That's about four-year wages in these parts.

And over the weekend, Litung (ph) police found the missing pair's luggage, being held by a local man who they have hired as a driver. On November 10, he says, he took them to Yenda, a small village at the base of the peaks.

CALLAHAN: We're going to try to see that -- up, up and away.

VAUSE: And that is where this search is now focused. Callahan and 13 other experienced climbers spread out across hundreds of square miles.

(on camera) Well, we've been trying to keep up with one of the search teams up here, but really it's very difficult. The air is very thin. Very hard to breathe, also. It's very, very cold and windy, as well. The conditions up here are very, very tough.

(voice-over) And so far, no signs of life.

CALLAHAN: We still like to think that they're in a remote valley sitting with some herders, lost, maybe slightly injured.

VAUSE: But with each passing day, the temperature continues the fall, already well below freezing, and with it, Christine's and Charlie's chances of survival.

John Vause, CNN, Szechuan province, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining me now from Medford, Oregon, is Ginny Hicks, the sister of Charlie Fowler.

And Ginny, it's good to see you again. I'm sorry it's under these conditions still. I know you spoke to searchers in China this afternoon. What's the latest you've heard? Anything new?

GINNY HICKS, SISTER OF CHARLIE FOWLER: They didn't have a lot of new information to report today. Just that the search continues, and there are lots of teams on the ground heading toward the mountain.

One letter that we did get from the Chinese consulate said that they have added some Tibetans with horses, who are also walking and combing the area.

COOPER: Well, the fact that they found this driver who took Charlie and Christine to the base of the Genyin (ph) peaks, it's certainly good news. I mean, that certainly narrows the search. And he was holding onto your brother's luggage, waiting for him to get back. What was found inside the luggage?

HICKS: Yes, that was good news, that they found the luggage. Most -- what they noticed was most of their climbing gear was gone. So that meant they took everything with them. So, as they're searching, they will be looking for a large -- a camp that has all of their camping and climbing gear with them.

Also, Charlie's travel journal was in the bag, and he made reference to going to climb Genyin (ph) Peak. So that also confirmed what the driver said and made for a concentrated area where they can search.

COOPER: I was thinking about you and brother over Christmas because, I mean, it's just got to -- it's the worst time of the year. There's no good time of the year for something like this, but around the holidays to not know where he is. How often are you in touch with the searchers? I mean, how often do you get updates from China?

HICKS: Now they have increased. We get a phone call every day at 1 and then a phone call at 5. And the phone call at 5 is more of a conference call with people in Telluride, people in China and the families. I know Christine's family also gets the same conference call.

COOPER: How do you stay positive?

HICKS: Well, we're trying to stay focused on the information that we have, not jump to conclusions. Deal with the facts that are presented to us and, of course, it's helpful to have friends and family and people keeping us in their hearts. So that helps.

COOPER: Well, this is, you know, as you know, has been seen in China and around the world. And a lot of people are thinking and praying for your brother and for Christine, as well. So Ginny, we wish you the best and will continue to follow the story. Thank you.

HICKS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: All right. Stay strong.

One other note: you can find information or more information on the search at a pair of web sites. They are MountainMadness.com and MountainFilm.org. Again, that's MountainMadness.com and MountainFilm.org.

Coming up next, just like the families of Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler, she was clinging to hope and praying for a miracle. Why one mother says that prayer saved her son's life. A modern day miracle that helped turn this man into a saint.

Plus, well, this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I'm worth many billions of dollars. Now, it's not to brag about. I'm worth many billions of dollars. It's very simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: From the saint to the Trump. What the Donald says, is it so simple that he's a billionaire? Well, coming up, we'll try to pin down the Donald's net worth. That's next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That is the flag that flies outside Donald Trump's Mar- a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Town officials say it is too big and violates zoning laws, and now the Donald is suing Palm Beach for $10 million. He says that a smaller flag not only would look silly outside his enormous club, but it would also fail to, quote, "express the magnitude of his patriotism."

It's not the first time the disputes over, well, size have spurned the Donald to sue. Rosie O'Donnell recently questioned the size of his bank account. Here's how that played out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O'DONNELL, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": He had inherited a lot of money. Wait a minute. And he's been bankrupt so many times where he didn't have to pay...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's bankrupt. But he's coming back.

O'DONNELL: People beneath him, who he owed money to, got shorted out of the money. But he got to, again, try again and again. And you know what saved him the second time? After his father died, with that money he paid off all his bankruptcy. This is not a self made man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you talking about?

O'DONNELL: He's going to sue me, but he'll be bankrupt by that time, so I don't have to worry.

TRUMP: I'm worth many billions of dollars. Now, it's not to brag about. I'm worth many billions of dollars. It's very simple.

She said I was bankrupt. Now I never went bankrupt. She said I filed bankruptcy. I never filed bankruptcy. I never went bankrupt. But she said I went bankrupt.

So probably I'll sue her, because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat ass pockets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Man, you know, I've heard it, like, 20 times, and I still -- I can't get enough of it.

Anyway, the obvious question is exactly -- well, it's probably not the obvious question. Many questions I guess one could ask after one watches that. But the question we ask now is exactly how rich is Donald Trump?

We asked CNN's Randi Kaye to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, Donald Trump seemed immune to the endless insults hurled at him. But don't ever question how rich he is.

O'DONNELL: He had inherited a lot of money. Wait a minute. And he's been bankrupt so many times.

TRUMP: Probably I'll sue her, because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat (expletive deleted) pockets.

KAYE: "Businessweek's" Diane Brady has written about Trump and, like many others, has learned...

DIANE BRADY, SENIOR WRITER, "BUSINESSWEEK": There's probably no worse insult in the world than to suggest that Donald Trump is a lot poorer than, in fact, he actually is.

KAYE: That's clear, but the numbers are still fuzzy. Just ask "New York Times" reporter and author Timothy O'Brien. Earlier this year, Trump filed suit against O'Brien and publisher Warner Books. In his book, O'Brien wrote Trump's net worth was no more than $250 million.

The self-proclaimed billionaire fired back with a $5 billion lawsuit, claiming O'Brien and Warner "knowingly made egregiously false and reprehensible statements about Trump, his family, his personal life and his business dealings, including misrepresenting Trump's net worth, business acumen and success."

TRUMP: The reporter is a terrible writer, but he doesn't believe in checking his facts. Or he actually does believe in checking his facts, which is worse, and then he writes whatever he wants to write.

KAYE: O'Brien told CNN he could not comment because the lawsuit is continuing.

"Forbes" magazine recently named Trump one of the world's richest people, concluding Trump's net worth was $2.6 billion, but Trump says he's worth even more than that, maybe as much as $7 billion.

BRADY: I do think that, looking at his business holdings, he's got to be worth probably at least $3 billion. That seems conservative, given the number of projects he has, given the value of his brand itself, and probably worth much more but it's just hard to quantify.

KAYE: Why is it so hard to figure out how rich Trump is? Because the majority of his holdings are private.

BRADY: Why open your books if you don't have to?

KAYE: Here's what we do know. Trump has more than 70 projects under way right now. He owns prime real estate in New York City, including Trump Tower, and he has major developments in Florida and Chicago.

He reportedly makes millions from "The Apprentice". His books are all best sellers. His clothing line is a hit. So is Trump vodka. And he gets more than $1 million every time he gives a speech.

BRADY: This is a man who rakes in a lot of money on a daily basis.

KAYE: Still, that didn't help Trump's casinos avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004 while he restructured their debt, and that may be why some people underestimate the Donald's dollar value. But Brady says the casinos are just a fraction of his net worth.

BRADY: At one point, he was saying 3 percent.

KAYE: Trump's big ticket is his brand. Lending his name to condo developments makes him millions. "Forbes" reports it's brought him more than $562 million.

So why all the fuss? Millions? Billions? Does any of this really matter?

BRADY: Once you have a billion, I think it's all gravy from there.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up on 360, a shift in the series and a glimpse into the future. Trouble spots and tensions that exploded in 2006 and are certain to shape 2007. In our next hour, a special edition of 360, "Flash Points", starting at 11.

Also ahead, though, in this hour, a sick boy, his desperate mom and the miracle that she says saved him and also helped create a saint. That story coming up, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: This is the time of year when millions of Christians celebrate what their faith considers a miracle, the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. Tonight, another story of faith and what many believe are modern day miracles. With that is CNN's Delia Gallagher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine years ago, Maria Lucia Ippolito received the worst news a parent could hear. Her 7-year-old son Matteo was stricken with sudden acute meningitis. His prognosis was poor.

MARIA LUCIA IPPOLITO, MATTEO'S MOTHER (through translator): I was sure my son was going to die. My husband is a doctor, my brother, too. When I saw how desperate they were, I knew there was nothing science could do.

GALLAGHER: The disease rapidly damaged all of Matteo's organs. Doctors gave him only hours to live.

In her desperation, Maria turned from science to prayer. She prayed to this man, Padre Pio, a Cappuchin monk who suffered the stigmata, the bleeding marks of the crucifixion of Jesus, on his palms, chest and sides. Many Catholics believe Padre Pio is quite literally a miracle worker.

(on camera) This is San Giovanni Rotondo, the home of Padre Pio. Six million visitors come through here every year, many to ask for a miracle, others to give thanks for prayers answered. The Vatican has officially recognized two miracles of Padre Pio, but people here will tell you hundreds more have been granted.

(voice-over) The faithful come here from around the world to pray for their miracles. Matteo's mother asked for the miracle of her son's life.

IPPOLITO (through translator): I looked for the rosary in my bag, because I understood that the only thing to do was pray. I found an image of Padre Pio in one of Jesus, and therefore, I prayed to them to help stop this tragedy.

KAYE: And yet, Matteo only got worse. The little boy would remain in a coma for 11 days. He had a heart attack, and doctors feared if he survived, he would suffer brain damage.

By then, his mother believed her son's life was in the hands of this holy man. And then, suddenly, he awoke. This is the story he told his mother.

IPPOLITO (through translator): He told me that he was looking for Padre Pio, because he had helped him. He told me the story, saying that Padre Pio had been there next to his bed and had held the child's hand. Pio had told Matteo to not to worry, because he was going to be better.

KAYE: In fact, Matteo was completely cured. The disease that was killing him had vanished. Padre Pio died here in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1968. Pope John Paul II, who grew up with the legend of the miraculous Padre Pio, took up his cause for canonization.

Padre Pio's beatification in 1999 drew the largest crowd ever to St. Peter's Square. And three years later, in 2002, after the church had investigated what saved Matteo and concluded it could have been only a miracle, Padre Pio was sainted.

But the little boy's mother, like so many others, needed no further proof of the power of prayer.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ahead on 360, points of light in a dark sky. They are not stars, but together, they are the "Shot of the Day". We'll explain that. But first, Randi Kaye with a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.

KAYE: Hi there, Anderson.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's holiday vacation is off to a very rough start. The prime minister and his family were among 343 people on a British Airways 747 that ran off the end of a runway at Miami's airport just a few hours ago. Nobody was hurt. The plane was pushed back onto the runway and then taxied to the terminal to let everyone off.

Today is the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunamis that killed some 230,000 people across Asia. In Bali, Thailand, they marked the anniversary with a tsunami drill. Sirens sounded, and thousands of people stopped whatever they were doing to head for high ground. Emergency workers practiced treating victims.

Ironically, there were two real earthquakes in Asia today, big ones off Taiwan, but they did not produce tsunamis.

The Terminator is now the Bionic Man. Doctors operated on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today, using screws and cables to repair his broken leg.

They say he'll be fine but will probably be on crutches for his inauguration next week. Schwarzenegger broke his right thigh bone on Saturday while skiing in Idaho.

Finally, from Portland, Oregon, get a load of this. A sink hole opened up under a heavy city maintenance truck today and swallowed the whole thing. To make matters worse, it broke water and natural gas lines on the way down.

The two people in the truck were rescued and, luckily, taken safely to a hospital -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi, thanks.

Time now for "The Shot of the Day". It comes from a tsunami memorial service in Thailand.

As night fell at the coastal resort of Pel Lac (ph), mourners gathered at a beach to light candles. Then they released balloons carrying more than 5,000 lanterns into the sky, one for each of Thailand's 5,400 victims. Look at that. Amazing.

Before the lights drifted into the dark sky, a Thai princess who lost her own son to the tsunami urged the mourners to accept the truth of fate and turn their tears into sacred water to bring strength and hope for better lives.

In a moment, a 360 special, "Flash Point", the issues and events that made 2006 such an edgy year and could do the same and more for 2007.

But before we say good-bye to our first hour, we want to say congratulations to a great friend of this program and a new father, Uriah Lieberman.

Shiloh Lieberman, seen there, was born on Christmas day in Paris, France. We're happy to say that he and mother Sarah (ph) are doing fine, and we wish them all a happy and healthy new year. Congratulations to you all.

We'll be right back.

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