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More Troops to South Sudan; Holiday Trends and Traditions; Deck The Halls With Gadgets!

Aired December 25, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(CHOIR SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Very nice.

Good morning to you. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's December 25th, 8:00 in the East.

Merry Christmas to all of you joining us at this hour. The special sound you were hearing is our very own group of Christmas carolers, the Young People's Chorus of New York City, under the direction of Mr. Francisco Nunez. They have a new album, "Coolside of Yuletide," and they're here to sing to you on this great holiday morning.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, we're examining the real reason why today means so much to so many, a discussion of faith and Christmas tradition. We have assembled a religious round table to be joining us this morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Do me a favor, look underneath you right now. How many things require batteries or need to be plugged in or charged? There's a lot of new technology out there this year. We're going to help you sort it all out, what you may be heading back out to the store to buy, with our very own Brett Larsen.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I love it. I need it.

PEREIRA: And what else?

PETERSONS: And you answered the crazy gift reactions sent in by our viewers, the agony and the ecstasy all caught on tape. Look at that right there.

CUOMO: What's in the box? What could be in the box? I have to know.

BOLDUAN: But first let's head over to the news desk for a quick check of the news today.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Very merry Christmas, I'm Miguel Marquez, it's the first Christmas as leader of the world's Catholics for Pope Francis and he celebrated the holiday today with a holiday mass where he preached love and forgiveness over hatred and darkness. And he delivered his first message today in St. Peter Square. The pope saying war has shattered too many lives and calling for peace. Tens of thousands packed the square to hear the pope's address.

For the first family, it's Christmas in Hawaii, celebrating in a place where the president grew up as they have since he was elected. The president and first lady did issue a video message marking the holiday. They talked about being kind to our loved ones and neighbors and about those sacrificing their holiday to make us safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So many people all across the country are helping out at soup kitchens, buying gifts for children in need, organizing food or clothing drives for their neighbors. For families like ours, service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what he taught us, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to feed the hungry and look after the sick, to be our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: The first couple saying we should all pledge to help each other in the New Year.

In Afghanistan, officials at the U.S. embassy are still assessing the damage from a pair of rockets that hit the compound this morning. It happened just before dawn, sending workers and diplomats scrambling into bunkers, but there were no deaths or injuries reported. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack.

And a car bombing outside a church in southern Baghdad has left at least 14 people dead and dozens more injured. It happened just as worshipers were leaving a Christmas mass. No one yet has claimed responsibility.

Now to South Sudan, where a civil war is growing more violent. There is growing evidence of atrocities there and more international forces are now a arriving, including U.S. marines.

Arwa Damon has the latest from nearby Uganda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Miguel, the U.S. has stationed 50 marines here in Uganda, just down the road from where we are as a precautionary measure. The U.N. voting unanimously to send in an additional 5,500 troops to try to protect the civilian population. There's been various reports of mass killings along ethnic lines, mass graves being reported as well. And a widespread fear that if the violence is not brought under control, we could see killings on the scale of the Rwanda genocide -- Miguel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Many thanks to you, Arwa. Gay marriages will continue in Utah. A federal appeals court has stepped in to halt the nuptials, that after court state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Get ready to pay more for your mail, the postal regulator has approved a 6 percent increase to take effect the end of January. That means a first class stamp will go up three cents. The commission thinks it should end in less than two years, the post office says it was disappointed. It wanted the increase to be permanent.

If you think your information was stolen after shopping at Target, be on the lookout for suspicious e-mails. The retailer is warning customers someone is sending out fake e-mails. Target says it will post official news to its website so you can verify what you received in your inbox.

And taking a quick look at the forecast, it's going to be pretty nice out there, the Christmas weather calling for partly cloudy skies in most areas, temperatures are going to be cool, that is pretty normal for December 25th. A few flurries in the Great Lakes area, and possibly some showers in South Texas and Florida.

But that is it for now. Those are your headlines. Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: Now to the meaning of holiday tradition. For many Christmas is all about Santa and presents. But for Christians worldwide, the day's true focus is supposed to be, of course, faith. We have assembled our own group of wise people to give us their take on the spiritual side of the holiday.

CNN faith and religion commentator, Father Edward Beck, Pastor Michel Faulkner of Harlem's New Horizon Church of New York, and Christine Lee, assistant director for All Angels Church.

Merry Christmas to all of you again. Great to have you here.

Let's start with Santa, what go you think the proper meaning, role of Santa should be in the holiday? What do you think, Christine?

CHRISTINE LEE, ALL ANGELS CHURCH: Well, if you think about who Santa was, it was based on St. Nicholas.

CUOMO: And Italian, not kidding.

LEE: And I think that the tradition goes that he was someone who did have a heart for the poor, who really did see the meaning of Christmas and being able to giving to those who are most vulnerable, most marginalized. And I think that unfortunately, we have gotten very far from that.

CUOMO: Yes, that's why I ask, that's -- what does Santa represent? What we are supposed to get from the meaning of this jolly, well-fed fellow?

MICHEL FAULKNER, NEW HORIZON CHURCH OF NEW YORK: I can't associate Santa with the kind of traditions that we do. My kids are all grown now, so I no longer have to fight those battles. But even when they were younger, we just didn't, in our family, we just did not include that as part of the things that we did.

But you live in a greater world in which that is the discussion.

CUOMO: So you went straight to the birth of Christ?

FAULKNER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You kept as much of the more secularization of it, of that aspect out?

FAULKNER: Jesus is the reason for the season? And that's what we have --

CUOMO: What did you tell your kids about what everybody else was feeling?

FAULKNER: Well, we told them the story of the origins of where Santa started and the fact that it's gotten away from that and the fact that this is not something that we do, and that we celebrate in our home and -- or in our church. And so we just didn't propagate it.

And it was fine. They were really, really fine with that, understanding that mommy and daddy were the ones who basically, who put everything together and who got them the things that they wanted or needed and so forth.

CUOMO: Father Beck, you lived in Brooklyn, so Santa usually skips over the entire borough, nobody nice lives there.

But what do you think?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN FAITH AND RELIGION COMMENTATOR: You know, we did one Christmas we had a Christmas pageant for a midnight mass, and it was kids. We did a mass at midnight.

We had Santa come in the procession before the priest, before the lector, and Santa went to the manger and knelt down and gave homage to the child Jesus. So, we -- the kids were all excited that Santa was there, yet the focus was where it needed to be on Jesus. So I think it's a great use of the cultural symbol and putting it in service of the religion.

CUOMO: You start to have to figure out as we develop more as people, you're all Christians here, at this table. But the sense of the ecumenical is growing. It seems to be somewhat the salvation of faith, excuse the phrase, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, that there has to be some type of melding for spirituality to survive.

I feel like I sense that in reporting around the world and just living here.

Christine, what do you think?

LEE: I think what's really important is that when you talk about an interfaith dialogue, there can be a sense of watering down to distinctions of each of the religions. You feel like sort in a similar way that America is called a melting pot, and kind of a better metaphor would be a tossed salad, where you can have the distinctions, but with a very sense of respect and tolerance, rather each other's very clear distinctions, but with a sense of respect and tolerance rather than judgment of the other.

CUOMO: Because the need is so great, Michel. I mean, we see it expanding need, not just to feed the sense of self, for someone where everything's OK in their life. But there's so much need and so many reaches. In this own country, you don't even need to go abroad anymore to find extreme need.

And, really, if you're going to fight it, if you're going to fight it with virtue, everything's got to come together, no?

FAULKNER: Oh, absolutely. We do have to come together. We have to come together for all the reasons that you mentioned. But the message of Christmas, the message of Christ is inclusive. Because, you know, the Hebrew Scriptures, I tell everybody the road to salvation was paved through a Hebrew highway.

So, we definitely have to -- you have to recognize Jesus' Jewishness in this dialogue. But as you look at who he was, where he was in the world, it was an inclusive time in which all people, the wise men who came to worship Christ, were not of the Jewish faith. They were from outside the Jewish traditions.

And so, it was -- it's very much an ecumenical cataclysmic event which all humanity pivots on, where are we now? You know, coming back to that now, can we all come to that?

You know, the Bible says that one day, every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is lord.

So, we as Christians look at this as not conquest, because that's the wrong, wrong message, but inclusion of everyone who would believe.

CUOMO: So the challenge is, how do you include those who would not believe? Those who come and say I believe in good things, this season is relevant to me because of the need, I'm just not dogmatic, I'm not theological in it. What is the message to them?

BECK: Well, there are universal themes. You like etymology of words. You know, the world?

CUOMO: Which is come from?

BECK: It means to tie one back to, because nothing theological about the world religion means to tie people back to what really matters. What matters? Mercy, compassion, forgiveness, these are universal themes. Christians do not have a corner on any of those themes. When we get that in our heads that we're about the same mission, a and I think we all are, all the fundamental faiths are, if we live religion to what it's supposed to be, it's about tying back to what matters. And I think we all try to do that in our ways.

CUOMO: And I know small irony, Christine, the idea that Pope Francis seems to be doing exactly that, the Catholic Church, one of the things it has been culturally guilty of is separating itself. And now it seems you have this man here at the head of the church saying focus on what matters most, a welcome message for all people of faith.

LEE: Yes, no, absolutely. I mean, I think one of those powerful images of Pope Francis was when he was embracing the man who was deformed and disfigured.

And I think by doing that, he was showing us, this is what God is like. And even though we may not be deformed or disfigured ourselves, I think each of us feel some kind of shame or some way that we don't feel worthy on the inside, and by seeing him embrace him, it's in a sense like God is embracing us. It's a powerful message.

FAULKNER: It's been a long time since we actually had a Christian leader that demonstrated that with his live, not just his message, not just his words, but his live. The history of his life and how, you know, it really makes honestly makes me proud to be a Christian, to say, okay, now we don't want to elevate him to the level of rock star, he is a spiritual leader. He would not let it -- he would not let it happen.

But it feels good to be able to say, wow, this is a guy -- and he's bringing young people to the table and so his writings, his -- the things that he's saying and doing, they're going to last for a lifetime for those people.

BECK: I'm hearing you all have pope envy, is that true?

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: Just a little bit.

BECK: You want religious leaders like --

CUOMO: Well, I have to tell you, I have to give Father Beck a little pat on the back, we covered the conclave. Part of that was because we had a lot of time on CNN broadcast, but also because of how he meant to the people in the conclave, he was the real deal in terms of how he lives his faith. And sure enough, he went on to be who we now know as Pope Francis.

Thank you so much for spreading the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Chris, thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Black Friday is long gone. We know that. But the savings are just getting started, so make the most of after holiday sales.

PEREIRA: And remember that kid doe? That reaction became a viral sensation. Well, we have got your videos that just might have him beat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This Christmas, you can expect at least one family member, I'd probably argue, every family member in some families to open a new holiday gadget. So, what can you expect under the tree today, and if you are not even nice, what should you be buying online right now for yourself? Brett Larson is the host of Techbytes and you can --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BRETT LARSON, HOST, TECHBYTES: Short sell them after Christmas.

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: Make some money off you guys.

BOLDUAN: Any more, Brett?

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Let's start with some good tech suggestions.

LARSON: Yes.

BOLDUAN: You said before, this is the year of the tablet.

LARSON: This is definitely the year of the tablet. We've got the surface there. I've got my iPad here with a picture of my cute dog.

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: He's on the bed like, "why do you have to go to work again?" And I say, "why are you on the bed?"

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: This is definitely the year of the tablet. They've gotten thinner. The battery life has gotten better. They're connected to everything. They've got 4G LTE connections in them. So, you literally have high-speed internet wherever you go. Yes. They really have.

Shockingly led by Microsoft with the Surface and Amazon with the Kindle Fire. They're really -- Amazon is really pushing the whole tablet, and it makes sense because they want you to have their tablet so you can access their content. So, they're willing to take a little off the top.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And it's OK to be a multi-tablet household so you don't all have to have the same genre. LARSON: that's absolutely true. In fact, I think that's actually the best way to do it, because different tablets have different benefits to them.

PEREIRA: Sure.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, can they then interact?

LARSON: I mean, they can all surf the web --

CUOMO: No, but I'm saying like, you know, it's not as easy then to bluetooth share with each other, is it?

LARSON: That's correct.

PEREIRA: That's true.

LARSON: Things like that you kind of lose.

PEREIRA: I'm a selfish tablet --

CUOMO: Which is the strongest having --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Which one would you recommend off the top of your head?

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: You know, they're all kind of made the same. They all use the same --

CUOMO: They all break.

LARSON: They do break, and that's just par for the course.

CUOMO: If you throw them at someone else.

LARSON: If you use them to swat a fly, too. That's definitely --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: All right. We also have gaming systems. You watch TV. You see almost every other commercial is about another videogame, right?

LARSON: And the graphics on these things, I've been playing with the Xbox one here for a while. The graphics are crazy. It is like being in a movie. It's surround sound. It's like, what happened to Pac- Man?

PEREIRA: I know.

LARSON: You know, Pac-Man like sprouted legs and started walking around. It's the really the graphics are great. And this year, we've got new Xbox one. We've got the PlayStation 4 now which are both selling pretty well. The (INAUDIBLE) is doing a little better than Microsoft's Xbox (ph). But I mean, definitely, this morning and tomorrow, the kids are going to be rushing out to buy more games.

CUOMO: When they showed a picture of the PlayStation there, you heard a tweak. Those were my son's head hitting the screen.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: They're all HD now too, which is nice, making it a lot better.

BOLDUAN: And we'll talk about the digital camera, because I'll tell you --

LARSON: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Everyone will say, you don't need a digital camera anymore. Everyone's got an iPhone or an Android or whatever, but I've argued you do. But, it is overwhelming the options out there, I think.

LARSON: There are so many digital cameras.

PEREIRA: Those have come down --

LARSON: Prices are crazy where digital cameras are. Nikon has got above and below 1,000 that are great cameras and these are SLR cameras. So, that's like closer to a film camera. It's going to take great photos. Canon's got some great photo cameras that are shooting HD video that people are doing amazing things with. The go pro, this little -- it's this big. 300 bucks comes in a kit.

You can take it under water. I mean, the videos that are -- that are popping like look at this stuff. This is great!

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: It's the best $300 you're going to spend on a digital camera, especially for teenagers because the stuff you can do with it is just --

PEREIRA: And the money you save, you can put towards health insurance --

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: If you like taking video of yourself. Everybody has --

LARSON: Right. Everybody's big on the selfies. So, now, you can do HD movie selfies. I literally watched a video of a guy who had it on his hand and walked around Manhattan all day.

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: And like made it into a four-minute video.

BOLDUAN: And watch the entire thing.

LARSON: It's a whole four minutes. It's fascinating.

(LAUGHTER)

PEREIRA: You showed a picture of your dog. This is another gratuitous shot. You can show your dog. They're like tech gadgets for pets?

LARSON: There are tech gadgets for pets.

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: There's Tag, the pet tracker, which Dexter wears. It's a little GPS dog collar, which is great because then if you travel with your pet, if you live in an area that's more suburban, you can set up a GPS fence and you'll get alerts.

CUOMO: -- no more friendly shock collar for your Chihuahua?

(LAUGHTER)

LARSON: There's bark fox, which is amazing, started by these two guys here in New York because they had a hard time finding treats and toys for their giant Doberman dog. And it's so great. You sign up. It's a monthly fee, and every month, you get a box of goodies for your pet. I did it a couple of months for my dog. I put the box down on the floor. He ripped it open, got the treats.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Live and let live.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: I don't know if the variety is that important.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: That's OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- a bone at the end of the day.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: And I have actually gotten really into the subscriptions for people. You can get subscriptions for everything. Make-up to --

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: That's kind of passe now.

CUOMO: What?

LARSON: It's been replaced. We've got Kraft coffee where they send you a little bag of coffee every month. And it's like, you know, these taste makers go out and find this amazing coffee.

BOLDUAN: So you have the freshness quality.

LARSON: Right. There's also -- this I think is hysterical. Manpacks.com, which sends you things for guys, underwear, undershirts, socks, things that guys never tend to replace in time and need a lot.

BOLDUAN: You know, around this time of year is when you do stock up on socks and things and you can make it --

LARSON: Imagine if like every month, you got a fresh pack --

PEREIRA: Sock of the month club.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's been set up so that all this stuff that the guy now has to put into the box and is thrown out.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Now we know we have to go out and get something really nice.

LARSON: I know, true.

BOLDUAN: What's on the top of your list?

LARSON: Top of my list? I want a new TV.

BOLDUAN: Christine Romans --

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: I'm definitely going to buy one, because the prices are low. The quality is the best they're going to be for several more years.

CUOMO: These are next year.

BOLDUAN: Until next year. We'll remember that. Great to see you, Brett.

CUOMO: Good to see you.

PEREIRA: Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.

LARSON: Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: Coming up on new day, what could help a deaf father hear his daughter sing for the very first time? The power of the good stuff. That's right. A very special holiday edition for you coming up.

Also, why is this kid so angry?

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: The answer and more priceless present reactions coming up. That's not even my house.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

PEREIRA: Wow.

CUOMO: Right. Who needs presents when we have this (ph) what's going on here?

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, December 25th. Merry Christmas. If you're waking up with the kids and heading down to check out what Santa put under the tree, you might want to have your cell phone rolling, because kids say the darnedest things, especially when they get the gift they really want or really don't want. We're going to have some of the best reactions and some of -- priceless --

BOLDUAN: Are you excited? We're going to find out.

Plus, a very special edition of the good stuff. Today, a Christmas wish comes true for a dad and daughter as he hears her voice sing to him for the very first time. We'll tell you how it happened. That's all coming out.

CUOMO: But first, let's get a check of your headlines this Christmas morning over at the news desk.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning and merry Christmas to you and yours. I'm Miguel Marquez.

A judge says the California girl who had complications following tonsil surgery is legally brain dead. Thirteen-year-old Jehi McMath (ph) will remain on life support until at least Monday. An attorney for her family says they haven't decided yet whether to appeal the decision. They've been pushing for more time to see if there are signs of recovery.

Eliot Spitzer and his wife are divorcing. The former New York governor and his wife, Silda, putting out a statement saying their marital relationship has come to an end after 26 years. Spitzer and his wife have been living in separate apartments for months. He had to resign the governorship in disgrace five years ago in a prostitution scandal. The couple has three daughters.