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New Year's Eve Celebrations Around the Globe; New Year's Eve in Times Square; Pot Sellers Expecting Big Sales in Colorado; NTSB Investigates Oil Train Explosion; North Korean Leader Hits the Slopes; Countdown to Legal Pot in Colorado; MSNBC Host Sorry for Mocking Romney Photo

Aired December 31, 2013 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, New Year's Eve.

The world ushers in 2014. We're going to take you to parties all around the world. Plus, the latest from North Dakota, where a fiery train collision forced town officials to issue an evacuation order. Federal investigators are on the scene now.

And the hosts of MSNBC show says she is sorry for comments about Mitt Romney's black grandson. Did her apology go far enough?

Let's go OUTFRONT.


LEMON: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, in for Erin Burnett.

It is party time, America. Happy New Year's Eve.

Tonight, the world welcomes 2014 and bids farewell to 2013.

Here in New York City, we're less than five hours away from the ball drop in Times Square. We're going to take you there shortly.

But, first, let's look live. This is London where it just struck midnight and the party is underway looking at the fireworks live between the London eye and the Queen Elizabeth Tower.

Happy New Year, London. Just an hour ago the skies over Berlin lit one the 60's fireworks display over the historic Brandenburg Gate and there's Dubai, you guessed it, more fireworks but not just any fireworks, a world record display, the first world record of 2014, 400,000 fireworks in 6 minutes at 400 locations along a 100-kilometer stretch of shoreline.

That is Hongkong, a pyrotechnic musical was staged over Victoria Harbor. You recognize that bridge. That's the bridge above Sydney Harbor, also ablaze as fireworks lit up the Australian sky. Outside Beijing, a colorful light show spanned one of the most colorful sections of the Great Wall of China and spectators danced and celebrated.

But folks in Auckland, New Zealand, may already be breaking their New Year's resolutions. They're among the first in the world to ring in 2014. We're going to start our coverage right here in New York City in Times Square.

CNN's Isha Sesay is out there trying to withstand the next 5 hours of freezing temperatures to make it to the big ball drop. Isha, there were flurries earlier. It is freezing out there. What's going on?

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, my friend, it is freezing. I'm not going to lie. People are in good spirits here in Times Square. Are you having fun? Yay! You can hear it from the folks themselves. They are in good spirits. They've been here since 3:00 today, Don. They don't care about the cold. They all wanted to be here to see the famous Times Square ball drop.

And also take in the unique atmosphere that goes on here in Times Square. This is my fourth year covering this event and it never fails to amaze me how people come from far and wide to be part of this. I wanted to introduce to you two very special characters that have come all the way from Texas. You might be able to spot them. What's your name and where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe David, from Amarillo, Texas.

SESAY: What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Antonio from Amarillo, Texas, also.

SESAY: Explain to our viewers why you decided to make the long journey from Texas to be here in Times Square?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've never been to New York before. We wanted to see it for the first time and watch the ball drop.

SESAY: What about you? There are other places you could have been.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I wanted to pick the one place, the most exciting in the entire world for New Year's and New York is it, no doubt.

SESAY: What's the best part about being here in Times Square?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the size, the big buildings, everything here, the people, it is real nice, USA, the best country in the world.

SESAY: It is living up to your expectations being here in Times Square?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the culture is beautiful, nothing like it. It is entertaining. It is fast pace. I love it.

SESAY: And everyone is being nice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's New York. You're going to run into few people.

SESAY: Tell us about the coats. Everyone wants to know about the outfits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just -- we're just trying to stay warm really, trying to stay warm here. It is cold here. I'm not cold. It is real warm.

SESAY: You're all having fun, right? You heard what they said. The coats, they just want to stay warm, they say.

LEMON: I am so glad you asked about those coats. If you didn't, I was going to ask you to ask them about it. Listen, they may be from Texas, a warm place but they know how to dress on a night like tonight. Isha, happy New Year, my friend. Have a great time. I'll see knew 2014. Bye, my dear.

We'll head off to London now where Matthew Chance is out among the locals who's just rang in 2014. Matthew, happy New Year.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Happy New Year to you as well, Don. I don't know if you can even hear me. The fireworks in Central London are so incredibly loud. They're so spectacular. They really excel, very special this year. Not just the visual. It is a multisensory experience. In the air they're filling in matching fire work with the smells and the flavors of fresh fruitful so the tens of thousands of people that have gathered here to watch this, they can smell it. They're calling it a multisensory fireworks display. I can smell something like bananas. It is all mixed up. It is pretty amazing.

LEMON: Matthew Chance and rightly so being drowned out by the fireworks. We appreciate you, Matthew Chance. Thank you and happy New Year to you.

Another countdown to tell but happening in Colorado tonight. The state will be the first in the country to allow sales of marijuana for recreational use. Sales start first thing tomorrow morning. Miguel Marquez in Garden City, Colorado right now. Miguel, what are the expectations for tomorrow?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the expectations are huge, another night, another sea of pot that I'm standing in. We are in the appropriate named Garden City. This is nature's herbs and wellness center. They will not be open for recreational marijuana sales tomorrow, but they are preparing for it very soon. At 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, about three dozen stores or so across the state of Colorado will be open for retail sales tomorrow.

They expect the crowds to be enormous. Some of them, crowds lines forming overnight. They expect hundreds of people to go into their stores to purchase marijuana and police say that they will be on hand as well keeping track of all of those stores, making sure that everything goes fine there.

They also say if there are spontaneous outbursts of people smoking marijuana tonight at midnight that it sounds like they're not going to get involved unless they feel like they have to get involved. Keep in mind that it is fine to smoke in it private in Colorado. They want to keep in it private and they don't want people smoking in public. That is another issue to come here. At the moment, all of the marijuana stores across the state are preparing either to start sales tomorrow or very soon -- Don.

LEMON: We're going to check back in with Miguel Marquez in just a little bit. Miguel, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Still to come tonight on CNN, more of our coverage of the world's New Year's Eve celebrations, we take you live to celebrations across the country and across the world. That's London you're looking at right now.

Plus a new photograph of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un just released. It is one of the first public images since he had his uncle executed.

And a train collision led to an evacuation in North Dakota. Residents concerned about their health.


LEMON: Tonight emergency crews are working to clear the massive wreckage in North Dakota where two trains crashed and burned yesterday afternoon. One of the trains was carrying crude oil and as you can see in this video, it created huge flames and dangerous smoke. The National Transportation Safety Board on the scene investigating the cause of the crash. CNN's Chris Lawrence has the latest now.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This oil train derailment near Fargo, North Dakota triggered a massive fire ball. It spewed thick black smoke over families' homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was scary too because you don't know if it will affect the kids.

LAWRENCE: Officials evacuated nearly the entire town of Casselton as they tested the air. NTSB investigators have now arrived on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our biggest challenge right now is that the fire is still burning and we're not able to get up close and personal to the wreckage.

LAWRENCE: Crashes like this are calling attention to overall rail safety, 79 people died this summer when a passenger train slammed into a concrete wall in Spain. And in early December, New York's Metro North Train derailed killing four. In North Dakota some of the rail cars may be the type the NTSB has sounded the alarm over saying they are more vulnerable to being breached in a crash.

ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB: But there are different types of DOT 111 cars so we will want to be confirming that.

LAWRENCE: Critics say oil companies have been slow to upgrade the cars, the kind that derailed in Quebec this summer killing 47 people. Tank cars can withstand impacts at 18 miles an hour, but some say even improvements wouldn't protect them going 60, 70, 80.

SUMWALT: You can't physically build a tank that can withstand that kind of impact speed.

LAWRENCE: Gary Wolf said trains are far safer than trucks, right now the only alternative to shipping crude oil across the country.

SUMWALT: I don't think the average person wants to be driving next to a 75-mile-an-hour rig carrying crude oil down the highway 12 feet away from your automobile.


LAWRENCE: Certainly not. In the last few hours we learned that emergency responders had lifted that evacuation order in North Dakota. It's now safe for families to go back to their homes. Really, Don, when you peel back the numbers, they tell a very different story than some of the graphic video that we just saw.

For example, about five, six years ago there were fewer than 50,000 crude oil shipments a year in the U.S. Now that number is up to 400,000, but in that same time frame, the number of accidents has actually dropped about 50 percent so more shipments and actually fewer accidents.

LEMON: Chris Lawrence, thank you. Happy New Year to you.

The master of the photo op, new pictures of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, on a ski lift looking incredibly relaxed and carefree. This is the same guy who just a few weeks ago had his uncle executed and these are some of the first public images we're seeing since that announcement.

What are these pictures telling us? Gordon Chang is here. He is the author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes on The World" and he joins me now. Gordon, Kim Jong-Un on a ski lift. Is this masking what's really going on inside the country?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, it certainly is, Don, because Kim Jong-un, as you point out just had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed. And it's not only him but perhaps five to seven other people, maybe 10 people.

Right now you have a purge where North Korean diplomats and officials are being recalled from Europe, recalled from Asia, going back. They don't know what's going to happen to them because they could be executed or sent to the camps with their families.

LEMON: Look at these pictures. He is in a supermarket, in the store. The shelves are stocked. He's on the ski lift. This is a country that is rolling in money. It's very much the opposite.

We hear of food shortages, the desperate plight of average North Koreans. Is this what they need? A ski resort?

CHANG: They don't need a ski resort and they don't need the equestrian club or the dolphinariums that they have gotten.

The one thing that's important to notice that you got two North Koreas. You have the very wealthy who are the regime elements. They're doing pretty well. They have all these facilities including this ski resort you showed.

But also for your average North Korean, many of them are still on the verge of starvation and it is just a very, very different country. So you've got very wealthy, very poor.

LEMON: Gordon Chang, Happy New Year to you.

Happy New Year, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

Still to come, animal rights group PETA takes on SeaWorld, planning a demonstration for tomorrow's Rose Parade.

Plus the host of an MSNBC program forced to apologize for controversial comments about Mitt Romney's grandson.

But did her apology go far enough?

And more headaches for Target customers.


LEMON: More backlash against SeaWorld over the documentary film "Black Fish." With PETA planning a protest during tomorrow's Rose Parade in Pasadena.

SeaWorld's float in the parade will depict a family of killer whales swimming freely in the ocean. A far cry from the way "Black Fish" portrays the park's treatment of killer whales in captivity.

Stephanie Elam has more for you.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) : As the rocket ship explodes, the Rose Parade, America's New Year's Day tradition. Along with the flowers, the floats and the bands, there will also be controversy this year. The target: SeaWorld.

ROSE MCCOY, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: I want every family to know the amount of suffering in just one tank at SeaWorld.

ELAM (voice-over): Rose McCoy is an animal activist. The 12-year old took it upon herself to hop the barricade at the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York to protest in front of SeaWorld's float. MCCOY: When I saw the parade float coming and it was a depiction of orcas in their natural habitat, it just made me all the more angry. We really were, it was a massive crowd. So I felt like the right thing to do was to get out where it was more visible, so I could be seen.

ELAM (voice-over): McCoy, along with other protesters affiliated with PETA, are already in Pasadena, California, ready to protest.

LISA LANGE, SVP, PETA: If SeaWorld will have a presence at this iconic parade, then of course the largest animal rights organization in the world also has to have a presence.

ELAM (voice-over): Presence in the form of protests, where the float was being built. And as it makes its way through Pasadena on New Year's Day, PETA says it will be there as well. All in an effort to make sure SeaWorld doesn't make up from its PR nightmare that followed the airing of the documentary "Black Fish" on CNN in October.

ELAM: What change have you seen as far as the efforts that PETA has been fighting for because of the film "Black Fish"?

LANGE: "Black Fish" really catapulted the issue of SeaWorld animal abuse into the mainstream worldwide which has made things a lot easier for us, of course.

ELAM (voice-over): "Black Fish" looks at the history of killer whales in captivity leading up to the 2010 killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau (ph) by an orca that was already associated with the death of two other people. SeaWorld did not respond to our request for an interview but did respond to petitions on and took out a full page ad in several newspapers to say it takes care of its animals and it no longer takes whales from the wild.

But several big names like Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson and Heart have canceled performances at SeaWorld park since "Black Fish." Some schools have also canceled trips to SeaWorld while other children have posted messages on social media, saying they will no longer support SeaWorld until the company changes its ways.

PETA also hopes to change SeaWorld from within.

LANGE: We buy enough shares to be able to have a say at shareholder meetings. What we want to see SeaWorld do, and what they can and should do, is move all the animals in their amusement parks to seaside sanctuaries where these animals will have freedom to swim.

ELAM: And out here along the parade route, you can see it is already starting to get busy. Families are out here camping out, and that's what PETA wants to spread their message. They won't tell us exactly how they plan on getting the message out. They said they will be putting out leaflets, but the bigger plan to protest, Don, we'll have to wait and see how that hams in the morning.

LEMON: Stephanie Elam, appreciate your reporting.

Happy New Year to you.

And still to come, more of our continuing coverage of New Years Eve celebrations from across the world. Is this times square? I believe it is. And it is a live picture looking at -- look at all the people out there. We'll take you to parties all across America. There is the big ball that will drop. We'll go to New Orleans, Nashville, to Key West, we'll go everywhere.

So sit right there.

Plus another countdown we're watching tonight, the countdown to pot. Legal pot. Recreational pot. At the stroke of midnight, Colorado becomes the first state to allow it.

And 74 people remain stranded off the coast of Antarctica tonight. It has been several days. Time is running out.



LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. More than 2.1 million Americans have signed up for ObamaCare through federal and state exchanges. Those are the new numbers from the administration just today. Those numbers are well below the target of 3 million originally set by the Obama administration. But it is an improvement since the early troubled weeks of the rollout.

Still we have no idea how many people have actually paid their premiums which could pose a problem for those who walk into an emergency room in the new year. If they haven't paid, they will likely not be covered.

In Antarctica, 74 people remain stranded on a ship in ice six days after sending out a distress signal. The crew has its hopes pinned on a plan to helicopter 12 passengers off the ship at a time. But that can only happen when the weather clears.

Treacherous conditions have stalled other efforts to reach the ship. In the meantime, expedition leader Chris Turney says dozens of members are doing what they can to speed up their rescue.


CHRIS TURNEY, AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION LEADER: It is the 31st of December at 3:00 pm. We've just learned the Aurora (ph) can't reach us so (INAUDIBLE) preparing the helipad by getting the team to stomp down on the snow and ice so the Chinese helicopter and snow trackers can reach us when the weather improves.


LEMON: Those conditions are not expected to get better for at least one more day. Fingers crossed.

So expect more, pay less. That's Target. Again they're having trouble living up to its slogan after confirming to CNN today that some customers are having problems using their Target gift cards.

A spokesman said some gift cards were not fully activated and apologize for the inconvenience. Target would not provide a tally of the number affected but insists less than 0.1 percent of gift cards sold during the holidays were affected. This come days after Target admitted that debit card PIN data was in fact stolen in a massive credit card hack that affected 40 million customers.

Back now to our big celebration tonight. Here in New York and all along the East Coast, we've got less than four and a half hours to go in 2013. That's in the Eastern time zone.

Let's check in with two of biggest cities in America, the parties there, John Zarrella is in Key West. We're going to get to New Orleans in just a bit. First to Key West.

Let me guess, John Zarrella. As someone -- I have to tell you I go to Key West every Memorial Day weekend. Right? Let me see. You're near Deval (ph) Street if not on Deval (ph) Street and sushi is the big attraction.


Oh, yes, no question about it. If you haven't been a part of this, the viewers out there of this celebration every year in Key West, you need to make sure you watch tonight, because if you look up there, there is a red stiletto. And in that red stiletto, in a couple of hours will be sushi, the queen of all drag queens down here in Key West. One of the many celebrations they have down here every New Years eve. There's sushi, there's the (INAUDIBLE) drop, there's the pirate winch, there's even a piece of key lime pie and a margarita glass this year.

But you've got to watch this. This is the blast down here.

Now, I want to bring in the mayor of all of the Florida Keys, right? Mayor, and -- Sylvia Murphy.

And, Mayor, all right. This is 20 seconds, your shameless plug after what I just said about how spectacular it is down here.

SYLVIA MURPHY, MAYOR OF MONROE COUNTY: Absolutely. It is more spectacular than you know because we're here 364 days that you're not here. And it is wonderful every single day.

ZARRELLA: I'm here a lot more than that, Mayor.

MURPHY: Are you? Oh, OK. The Florida Keys are great.

ZARRELLA: This is just one of the many, many great events you have down here. What is this you've got?

MURPHY: Well, we have a choice. We can present this to you or we can hit you with it. And we decided to present it.

ZARRELLA: What is it? MURPHY: It is a conch certificate. I won't read it.

ZARRELLA: OK, we'll you it over here. I am what? An honorary member of, what is it?

MURPHY: This makes you one of us.

ZARRELLA: Wow! That's huge. You know that, Mayor.

MURPHY: It is huge.

ZARRELLA: The only question I have is what took you so long? I've been doing this 11 years down here. And now you choose on the 11th year to do it.

MURPHY: It is given to people who do something to make Monroe County a better place and you've been doing it for more than 10 years.

ZARRELLA: Well, thank you, Mayor, very much. I do appreciate it.

LEMON: John, that's a big deal.

ZARRELLA: Don, the crowd here is great. Look at this.

LEMON: That's a big deal. You're an honorary conch. It doesn't get any better than that.

ZARRELLA: I was going to ask the mayor if -- does that honorary conch, does that come with any perks? Like do I get like free parking?


LEMON: That's nice. Tell the mayor to meet me at Alexander's for Memorial Day weekend and have a cocktail with me for happy hour. We'll be happy to see her there.

ZARRELLA: You've got it. I'll do it, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, John. Appreciate it. See you soon. Happy New Year, my friend.

ZARRELLA: You got it. Sure.

LEMON: Miss Brooke Baldwin down in New Orleans. And, Brooke, are you there? Just a little bit.


LEMON: Are you in Bourbon Street.

BALDWIN: I'm just on New Orleans time.

LEMON: Where are you hanging out? Are you in the corridor?

BALDWIN: Not yet, not yet. Yes, we're at Jackson Square. You know, pinch my arm, twist my arm. Send me to New Orleans for New Year's Eve for the second year in a row. This is amazing. So, we just set the scene for you. The big show is at 9:00 Eastern.

Behind me, of course, Jackson Square. The party will begin with a bunch of different bands. Folks will be lining. It's a little, it's kind of icky weather-wise but knowing the New Orleans, I've been here a whole week. They're going to come out to party.

This is Tariq Hanna, with which restaurant?


BALDWIN: Sucre. And so, Don, you know, as a Louisiana boy, you know a thing or two about king cake, don't you?

LEMON: Absolutely. I get a king cake every Mardi Gras. And I get one for the first time for the holidays. It was great. I got the baby on the first try.

BALDWIN: So here's the baby. The baby is in the center. You have the baby. And, Tariq, will you just explain? I was tweeting a lot this afternoon about king cakes. And people were like you're early, you're early with the king cake.


HANNA: A few days.

BALDWIN: A few days early. I'm all about the sweet 365 days a year but in New Orleans, when does it officially begin?

HANNA: Well, officially kings day is the sixth of January. So in six days, six and a half days from now is the first time it will be consumed. And it marks the epiphany.

BALDWIN: It marks the epiphany. So, explain to people who are not familiar with the baby tradition. This baby is hidden somewhere in the cake.

HANNA: The baby, it used to be a bean that was baked into the cake. And whoever found the bean in the cake would have luck for the year and it would be a blessing and as tradition has evolved through the years interesting commercialism, shall we say of king cakes, and the festivities, if you find a baby --

BALDWIN: You have to buy the next king cake.

HANNA: You bring the next king cake to the party.

BALDWIN: So, that's how it works. Again, the party here, Tariq, thank you very much. We'll be eating much king cake later tonight. I have a feeling.

But join us tonight, Don, and everyone else, starting at 9:00 Eastern. You'll see Kathy, you'll see Anderson in Times Square. We'll hold down the fort here in Jackson Square, New Orleans and then they'll toss it to me. We've got the floor over here atop the Jackson brewery. So, we're rocking this thing through, 1:00 Eastern, midnight here in New Orleans.

LEMON: Let the good times roll. Hey, Brooke, good luck getting around in the quarter. It is tough tonight. It's going to be tough.

BALDWIN: Tell me about it.

LEMON: Happy New Year, my dear. I'll talk to you soon.

The countdown to legal pot is on in Colorado. But when the clock strikes midnight, not everyone in the state will be looking to light up. Some towns in Colorado fighting back, outlawing recreational marijuana sales within their boundaries.

So, who is rejecting the budding pot business? Miguel Marquez with the story now.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you think of Colorado, you think skiing, charming western towns and now, of course, legal recreational pot.

No surprise, not everyone is thrilled.

(on camera): So, marijuana is coming to Colorado. What does Greeley think about that?

MAYOR TOM NORTON, GREELEY, COLORADO: Well the voters at Greeley turned it down when they had an opportunity to vote on it.

MARQUEZ (on camera): It's still legal to possess it in places like Greeley, but you can't buy it here at all.

Greeley survives on farming, ranching and oil just north of Denver. It's the biggest town in Weld County.

(on camera): What's the concern?

SEAN CONWAY, WELD COUNTY COMMISSIONER: We're a guinea pig. Colorado and the state of Washington are guinea pigs.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Recreational sales in Washington start later in 2014. The concerns can, increased crime, more pot use by kids, and uncertainty about whether the federal government will change its tune.

CONWAY: I still think until the federal government decides to solve this issue, states like Colorado and Washington out on their own are really out on a limb.

MARQUEZ: Weld County may have said no but there's a tiny holdout. A tiny place called Garden City, sitting just on the border of Greeley, Garden City only a few blocks big, expects recreational pot to be huge. (on camera): What is it like to be the only place in Weld County where this is allowed?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Lucky to be one of four pot shops here. Rotherham who expects to triple his bit next year won't sell recreational pot for a few months yet, but the customers are already there.

(on camera): How big is this?

JOHN ROTHERHAM: Oh, it's really big. We're averaging 50 to 75 phone calls a day from people out of state wanting to know if we're going to ready to sell recreational tomorrow.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And this is a family business. That's dad and mom both in their 70s, trimming pot. They first told their son he was crazy. Then they changed.

MARY ROTHERHAM: He's my son. And I'll do anything for him. So he needed help and here we are.

MARQUEZ: But it's not just Weld County wrestling with the potification of Colorado. Ski areas, often a tradition of lighting up on the lifts, are turning a blind eye anymore.

(on camera): If I'm caught smoking pot on a chair lift, will my pass be yanked?

MELANIE MILLS, CEO, COLORADO SKI COUNTRY USA: I think there's a high likelihood of that. You can come to Colorado and expect a family friendly atmosphere. You go expect safe slopes and you can expect to have your ski vacation here and not be smelling marijuana smoke or seeing consumption and use in public spots.


LEMON: All right. Miguel, there is a little irony here. Colorado legalizing marijuana sales but they're also cracking down on using it in public. What gives?

MARQUEZ: Yes, this is the very big next fight here. You know, this stuff here in Garden City. How will it be used privately? Will it only be in houses? Will they allow in it private restaurants? Private clubs that open up? Other sorts of facilities that open up in Colorado?

At the moment, it is no. But that is something that everybody is going to go for into this new experiment that Colorado starts tomorrow. Everybody watching very carefully, and in future days and months, those issues will work their way out -- Don.

LEMON: Well, it's going to happen very soon, in just a couple hours.

So, Miguel, get ready.


LEMON: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Happy New Year to you.

MARQUEZ: You got it.

LEMON: And still to come, an MSNBC host apologizing for comments made about Mitt Romney's grandson. Did her apology go far enough?


LEMON: A heartfelt apology or just another tweet.

We talked last night about a segment from MSNBC that poked fun at Mitt Romney's family Christmas card, focusing on his adopted African- American grandson. Take a look.


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Everybody loves a baby picture and this was one that really, a lot of people had emotions about this baby picture this year. This is the Romney family.


HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, there on Governor Romney's knee is his adopted grandson who is an African-American, adopted African-American child, Kieran Romney.

Any captions for this one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of these things --



LEMON: The song you hear in the segment is one of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn't the same.

And today, well, the host, Melissa Harris-Perry, apologized on Twitter, writing, "I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family. #MHPapology."

Does her apology go far enough?

Joe Concha is a TV critic from Mediaite. Marc Lamont Hill is a CNN political contributor, and we talk about it last night. And then Michael Medved is a conservative talk show host.

OK. Good to see all of you. Happy New Year in advance, by the way.


MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Happy New Year. LEMON: Joe, I'm going to start with you. Is an apology over Twitter sincere enough?

CONCHA: I find it, Don, cheap. I find it cheesy. Quite frankly, can you really say something poignant and heartfelt in 140 characters or less?

I say you had the resources of NBC News, if you're Melissa Harris- Perry. I'm pretty sure you could get the Romneys' number, or somebody close to them, pick up a phone, attempt to apologize verbally. I think doing it by Twitter and particularly with #MHPapology -- it's almost like you're sponsoring an apology -- I'm sorry, it just doesn't cut it for me, Don.

LEMON: Well, the hashtag thing was a little weird, but that's what people to on Twitter.

But how do you know that she did not reach out to the Romney family?

CONCHA: We haven't heard anything that would indicate that as of now.

LEMON: Maybe she would say I've reached out to the Romney family personally.

So, anyway, you say this is overblown, Marc. Harris-Perry tries to put this into context. And here's what she writes, she says, "As black child born into large white Mormon family, I feel familiarity with Romney family pic and never meant to suggest otherwise."

I mean, that context would have helped on Sunday during the segment.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Perhaps, it would have been.

And just to be clear, contrary to what Joe just said, it wasn't 140 characters. She sent out about six tweets, which is about the length of any normal public apology.

CONCHA: Oh, 720 characters.


HILL: Well, no, but that's about the length, if you saw how many sentences in her message, it's about the same as any sort of public apology from a public figure. It wasn't as if she sent a want 140 character apology. That's just not fair or accurate.

But to your point, yes, I mean, context always matters. I think it always does. Knowing that she was born into a largely white family, knowing that she has a white mother, those things probably would have been relevant and mitigating factors. Again, I already knew that. I understood the context and that's why I was very comfortable saying yesterday, I still maintain that her intention was not mean-spirited. At least not she was attempting to make fun of a baby. It was very much about making fun of Mitt Romney.

And whether we like the joke or not, whether we like the segment or not, there is a difference between making a stupid yoke and being mean. And I don't think it was the later.

LEMON: Michael, you're sitting there very patiently.


LEMON: Go ahead, Michael.

MEDVED: Yes, how can you not think it is the latter? It was an attempt to be mean.

Here's the question that I would ask. Mitt Romney has been blessed with 18 grandchildren. What if he had left out his one black adopted grandchild? Then, he would have been ripped and criticize asked rightly so.

But here is somebody actually representing exactly what we want from America. Don't we? Which is to look beyond race and to have bonds of love. There are so many interracial families right now.

Why would she even focus on this and ask for a caption? I mean, it was a terrible mistake. And I'll tell what you she could have done. You know, it's New Year's Eve. Come out and say, my New Years resolution for next year is when criticizing politicians or even mocking politicians, to focus on the political candidate, the person himself, the public figure and leave children and wives out of it. Which is a good rule for conservatives, liberals and everybody in between.

LEMON: Marc, I want to get back to something that you talk about. You said that you did not think it was big deal. So, she could not have apologized.

But yet the person who did it thinks it is a big deal. She apologized. She said, you know, I just apologize. She didn't have a caveat about it or what-have-you. Yet, you're still defending her.

HILL: No, I think it's -- well, I think you're mixing apples and oranges. I think what Melissa said, if you read the tweet, what she said is I apologize. She understands that sometimes when you offend or hurt people, that's all that matters. Whether my intention was one thing or another is immaterial. It's ultimately, did you hurt someone. And she's saying, I clearly hurt someone.

MEDVED: What do you think her intention was?

HILL: Let me finish.

MEDVED: Marc, what do you think her intention was?

HILL: Let me finish the thought though because this is really important. My point yesterday and my point today was always, speaking to Melissa's intent, not whether or not people were offend or whether or not it was appropriate.

CONCHA: How do you know her intent?

HILL: Well, for one, I saw the context of the segment. For two, I know Melissa. And for three, she said it herself today.


CONCHA: What's the context, though? Wait, wait, wait, what's the context, Marc? I need to understand. Is that it white folks can only -- is that it white folks can only adopt white babies and black folks can only adopt black babies? Because that seems to be what the message was.

LEMON: I think the intent was things that cause controversy. And there was this photograph she said created a stir. That was sort of the context of it. And she was providing captions.

HILL: That's all it was. This whole argument has been going around. I've been hearing it all day on Internet. That somehow someone is saying that black people shouldn't be adopted by white people and vice versa. No one is saying that.

I'm happy Mitt Romney's family has opened his arms and his family adopted a black baby. No one is saying anything about race with regard to adoption. This was a stupid joke and an opportunity to make fun of Mitt Romney and poke fun at the lack of diversity in the Republican Party.

CONCHA: It's just that -- you know, white people have been adopting black children since, I believe there's a show called "Different Strokes" that was in the '70s, where we saw --

LEMON: Well, that was a television show.

CONCHA: I get it.


LEMON: Joe, finish your point. Guys, please don't talk over each other. It's disrespectful to the viewer. Finish your thought, Joe, and then, Michael.

CONCHA: It was a top five show. Clearly why this suddenly would stir emotions if the Romneys would have the audacity to adopt a black child, I just don't get it. I saw this as a very normal thing.

And quite frankly we should be applauding the Romneys for doing something like that, getting past skin color and saying, you know what? We're going to give this kid a good home. Good for them. They should be applauded, not ridiculed.

And, by the way, no one on that panel stepped up and said --


CONCHA: -- this is irresponsible, guys, I don't agree with this at all. All four were an echo chamber. That's what I found as pathetic.

LEMON: Michael, get in there. MEDVED: And the other question is, if you are going to run this photograph at all, if you're going to show this photograph during a segment where you're basically making fun of things, what is it she was trying to mock? What was the point of the photograph? Is that Mitt Romney has a beautiful family? Why is that appropriate in any context to make fun of?

I mean, it's one of those things -- if people did this to the president of the United States and made fun of his daughters which, by the way, conservatives have pretty much not done -- I think it would be outrageous. And this is outrageous and she is right to apologize. She should have apologized far more fulsomely and in person and on air and called the Romneys.

LEMON: Yes, that's a very good point to each of you. Why even bring up the picture? What is so unusual and so odd about a white family adopting a black baby? And just so, I understand, that it happens to be Mitt Romney.

And, by the way, I think her apology was -- I appreciated her apology and I think it was heartfelt. I'm not sure, I'm not her. But when someone says, "I apologize just because I hurt you," and not, you know, "I apologizes if I hurt someone or for the people's feelings I hurt," she just said I'm sorry.

It takes a big person to do that. Do you disagree?

CONCHA: It's the New Year, Don.

HILL: I agree 100 percent.

CONCHA: It's a happy time. Sure. We agree.

Thanks, Don. Happy New Year, everybody.

MEDVED: Thank you, happy New Year.

HILL: Happy New Year.

LEMON: You know, after "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts came out publicly, I talked about the importance of coming out on the show last night and the reaction was unbelievable, just like the reaction from the previous segment.

So, if you'd indulge me, I'd like to recognize a few of you by reading some of the responses we received. Here's what Lois Clark Gillette tweeted. She said, "@DonLemon, thank you for the eloquent comments tonight on how wrong it is to use religion as a mask of bigotry."

We heard from John Arbacle (ph) who wrote this. I give CNN two thumbs up for airing this empowering and healthy advice.

And Brian1356 tweeted, "Don Lemon, as long as you are happy, that's great. Didn't realize how people could be gay until my brother came out. Now, I understand." In capital letters and an exclamation point. You know, it wasn't just Twitter, though. A friend Katherine emailed me this saying, "I am sure it helped more people than you will ever know. Happy New Year's Eve. Xo."

Xo to you, Katherine, enjoy your time off.

And, of course, not everyone agreed gay people have to make a declaration and come out.

Debbie on Facebook wrote this, "Not necessary. Heterosexual people don't make a point to go around announcing they are straight."

To that I say not true. Straight people talk about their families, their husbands, their wives, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their children all the time. They talk about their weddings and their family vacations and they display photos of it on their desks at work and on and on and on.

Straight people declare heterosexuality every single day in a myriad of ways and they should continue to do it. This is America and there is room for everyone to be proud of who they are, which brings me to my very favorite response.

A tweet from Tanya Weldon who wrote, "Don, I love you. Yep, said in my best mom voice. Can't help it. You are my fave CNN anchor and the last few minutes of OUTFRONT tonight prove why."

I selfishly put that one in there because that was my favorite. That meant the world to me because telling my mother was the toughest thing I ever did. Everything after that was cake, kind of.

So, thank you for your responses and, Robin Roberts, you inspire all of this. So, I hope you are watching and best of health to you in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone.

Still to come, more highlights from New Year's celebrations from around the world.


LEMON: We're just hours from a brand-new year and before we end the show, I want to check in with one more party city.

Susan Hendricks in Nashville tonight, having fun, looking gorgeous.

Susan, what's going on where you are?

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, we're bringing in 2014 Nashville style, in case you hear it, it's really about the music. Hank Williams Jr. will perform here tonight, and hey, I met new friends including 10-year-old Josie. And this guy behind me, Harry, the truck driver from Delaware, and I'll tell you, they are having fun here tonight, Don.

LEMON: So, Susan, there is something that I've been talking about this week, "Auld Lang Syne" is a song we always hear on New Year's Eve. But I don't know if anyone knows all of the words.

Is there anyone there who can help us there?

HENDRICKS: I'm going to ask them. OK, I'm going to turn to Kitty. This is Kitty from Kentucky.

You know the song "Auld Lang Syne". Do you know the words?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should auld acquaintance be forgot, na, na, na. Na, na, na --


LEMON: Perfect.

HENDRICKS: She did it wonderfully, right? There's a clip in "When Harry Met Sally" where they analyze that? Is it about old friends, is it about new friends?

Don, do you know the words?

LEMON: I do. I know the words, kind of actually sang the words here on CNN the other night with the crew. And we were saying it was just, should auld acquaintance we forgot, na, na, na. And that's what people usually do for "Auld Lang Syne".

HENDRICKS: I'll ask Sherri.

Sheri, do you know the words? "Auld Lang Syne"?


HENDRICKS: Almost, not quite.

What about you, Harry?


HENDRICKS: "Auld Lang Syne".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just mumble along.

HENDRICKS: He's honest. He's just mumbles along. Why not?

LEMON: What about you, Susan Hendricks? Do you know?

HENDRICKS: Na, na, na --

LEMON: Should auld acquaintance we forgot and never brought to mine. Should auld acquaintance we forgot, and auld lang syne. Auld lang syne, my dear, you know?

But I think you usually have to sing that song when you have a couple of cocktails in you and it's you know --

HENDRICKS: Exactly. And you think you know it. I will pass it along, the words, my new friends.

LEMON: Susan, have a great time in Nashville, be safe, happy New Year to you and to your family. Looking forward seeing you soon, all right?

I want to tell our viewers to help watch the countdown to 2014 right here on CNN. New Year's Eve live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. It's always a great time. It starts at 9:00 Eastern, live from Time Square.

ALL THE BEST AND THE WORST, a look back at 2013 starts right now. Happy New Year!