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The last chapter

This is our last weekday pre-Christmas break broadcast. We have a ton of news for this time of year, and there are folks we ought to be thinking of tonight. A lot of them. Tonight we will take time to pay tribute to the thousands who have volunteered to defend the country, and who tonight are on post in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Korean DMZ. We will report on the thousands of people who spent the night at the airport in Denver. Some of them are just now coming to grips with the notion of spending Christmas in a Denver hotel room... instead of with loved ones as they had intended. And a sidebar PR question for the FAA: After 4,700 people spent the night in the airport terminal after a crippling blizzard, why was the first aircraft allowed to take off (an event covered live on both local news and  national cable news) a FedEx cargo wide body jet? I realize FedEx carries valuable goods and meaningful packages, especially this time of year, but aren't passengers -- human passengers -- the priority? Was it a too-linear reading of takeoff order or was there a good reason for it? Since the picture of the "first departure from DIA" was shown all over the world today, just asking...

Also in the news tonight: Today's dropped rape charges in the Duke case. Three cable news networks took the defense attorney's news conference live, and the language, dealing with sex acts and body parts, was unbelievable. I couldn't help but think of the daytime TV audience during what one of the attorneys almost comically went on to describe as "this wonderful season of the year." We'll have an update on the case tonight.

Also tonight: American losses in Iraq, and the President's visit to Walter Reed today. CNBC's Phil LeBeau, who reports on the automotive industry, will do the same for us tonight on a major milestone where the "Big Three" of Detroit are concerned. Also tonight, our Friday "Making a Difference" segment -- a very touching story of a Secret Santa who is secret no more.

I'll also close the broadcast tonight with a message provided me by a viewer.

As I write this, my office has been transformed into a gift-wrapping zone. And as I prepare to take some time off with my family, I want to wish all of you the very best this holiday season. Your time and attention -- and yes, even your scrutiny and criticism -- make this the best job imaginable. We couldn't do any of it without you, and I wish you a happy and safe holiday -- a Merry Christmas -- and it goes without saying: My very best wishes for a wonderful year ahead.