tv Jansing and Co. MSNBC February 16, 2011 10:00am-11:00am EST
near tripoli that the militants are being let go from prison. we'll continue to following this breaking news and bring more to you as we get more information. closer to home, a deadly escalation of the relentless mexican drug violence. one u.s. federal agent is dead, another recovering from gunshot wounds after a brazen roadside atta attack. the officers were driving from of mexico city to monterrey when somebody opened fire. the officials are working together to try to find those responsible. nbc justice correspondent pete williams is following the developments for us. pete, any indication, were these agents targeted? >> i think it's too soon to say. that is the big question here. there are some conflicting reports, as you might expect, at this early stage ever the investigation about what exactly happened. it certainly appears they were driving in an armored suv and there were a couple of other vehicles around them. now, it's still not clear
whether they were carjacked because suvs are something that people like to steal in that area, whether they were caught in some sort of turf war that's going on in that area, which is not under control of any single cartel, or in fact whether they were targeted and followed as federal agents. there's no clear answer to that question this morning. the authorities say that the agent who was killed is jaimie zapata. he was from texas, had been with i.c.e. for about five years. the second agent shot is in stable condition with wounds to his leg. one federal official told me the vehicle they were driving was riddled with bullets and it's not clear whether they were fired upon as they were driving or whether they were somehow forced off the road by the other vehicles that were around them. it could have been that they were boxed in, this official says, by one car ahead of them
and one car ahead them. in any event, it appears in the early reports they had been stopped at some kind of fake road block and had shown their badges before they were fired upon. that seems to be incorrect, chris. >> understanding the difficulty of trying to pinpoint who might be responsible in this particular area, what's the u.s.'s role now in this investigation? >> well, it's the mexican sovereign territory, the homeland security secretary has said the u.s. will provide all the support it can to the mexican authorities there, but the u.s. obviously can look into this, can do its own investigation, but ultimately it's the mexican authorities who are in charge. >> pete, thank you so much for that. let's bring in dan rather, anchor and managing editor of hd nets dan rather reports, publisher pam hunter and mark tamscott. good morning. dan, first time since 1985 a federal agent has been killed in the line of duty for i.c.e. nevertheless, we've watched this
escalating drug violence, talked about it a lot on this program. what, if anything, can the u.s. do about it? >> well, we can do a lot about it. one, pay attention. there has been a concentrated effort over the last year and a half to increase our help to mexico. chris, i think the important thing people need to understand is mexico is teetering on the brink of becoming a narco state, a kind of narcotics version of iran on our own border is a real and present danger. >> so many areas of lawlessness. >> it used to be just along the texa texas, arizona, u.s./mexican border. it's now going deaner into mexico and has been for a long time. this is something as a country, a people, to be very concerned about. mexico is a great country, the mexicans a great people. they are losing the battle against the narco thugs and huge gangs. we tend to worry, including myself, those of us in television, about iraq and afghanistan, egypt, the middle
east. but right on our southern border, no one should kid themful isselves, this represents something serious noxt matter what the facts turn out to be, usually in these situations the very first things you hear are often wrong. so we need more details. >> here's something we know. we have given in the last three years through the morita initiative more than $1 billion, karen, to support training, equipment, law enforcement there. but is that enough? >> it's not enough. there was just a submarine confiscated between colombia and mexico. that's how sophisticated they're getting. we're playing a game that we can't win. i think there's a better solution. legalize drugs in this country. that will then change the whole game. i know it's radical. but you know what? we're not going to win this fight. it's like gangrene.
>> we can certainly get into arguments on legalizing drugs. >> mark, there's a new report that comes out saying just a portion of the u.s./mexico border is secure. how much of what we're doing is contributing to this problem and the loss of this agent and the serious injury on the other one? >> i think it's indicative of probably the most serious national security problem that this country has right now, and that is exactly a border that is undefended and that is effectively under assault by multiple drug gangs. the thing we have to remember is this is not just south of the border. d.e.a. just released a report i believe last week indicating that the cartels basically deploy the drug gangs, mexican gangs, here in this country and they're in over 100 cities. so this is not just below the
border. it's here among us. >> i want to tell you something that's just happening now on capitol hill. it relates to what we were talking about in the middle east. in another sense, it could also speak to our conversation now. but defense secretary robert gates just warned congress against pursuie ining against d spending saying, "we still live in a very dangerous and unstable world. we shrink from our global security responsibilities at our peril." your reaction to that, karen? >> we were just talking about this drug war. as people find themselves deeper in debt, more and more desperate, they turn to illicit activities. i think that, you know, he's absolutely right. we can't afford to make deeper cuts and make people even more desperate in these desperate times. >> but that brings us to the point -- i'm told he has not made the statement yet. these are from prepared remarks, dan. but we're about to get into one
of the most i think explosive budget fights maybe we've seen in a long time, and part of the question is national security. >> well, absolutely. two quick points. number one, there's a lot of talk in washington about possibly shutting down the whole government over these budget cuts. wait just a minute. wide shot. we're a nation at war. we are still at war in iraq. we've even got a hotter war now in afghanistan. there's a certain madness to this which the american public recognizes. talk about shutting down the whole government at a time when we're at war? what's going on in washington? the second is, everybody that i know is in favor of strong defense, but roughly 20% to 25% of the defense budget, even the people who run the defense department don't know where the money has gone. the closeness of the defense department with the contractors, how that ties in with lobbyists in washington, these are complex
problems. we're talking about the defense of the united states at a time when we're running two wars, china is growing militarily, this budget fight is not your ordinary budget fight. the 2011 and 2012 budget fights that are coming, that's the more important one down the road, have a long-term potential consequences for this country that makes one shudder. >> we'll continue to listen what's happens on capitol hill. couple of hearings going on. dan, karen, mark, you'll stick around. i want to go back to what we said at the top, which is that these cries of protests in the middle east are not going away. we've been watching bahrain, iran, libya, yemen, demonstrators out in force in all of those places. things really got hot in bahrain's main square when thousands marched to demand change. for the first time, we're also seeing that wave of protests in libya. hundreds of people clashing with police and government supporters overnight in the city of ben gauzy. in iran, both sides claiming a
student shot dead days ago are a martyr for their side. the government is calling for protest leaders to be put on trial. and yemeni officials hope police will stop two days of protest against the president there. this morning they fired into the air and blocked students from joining the protests. now to this disturbing story out of egypt. cbs news saying one of its correspondents, lara logan suffered a brutal sexual assault and beating in cairo while covering the uprising there. stephanie goss has details in cairo. >> reporter: lara logan first came to egypt when the protests kicked off, but she was detained by authorities and eventually expelled from the country. she returned to cairo the same day that mubarak stepped down. when the news broke that egyptian president hosni mubarak resigned, hundreds of thousands of egyptians in tahrir square
erupted into celebration. a statement from cbs news says, correspondent lara logan and her camera crew on the ground to cover the historic moment were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. moments after this photo released by cbs news was taken, the network says logan was separated from her colleagues by a mob of more than 200 people. she was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating. cbs news says a group of women and estimated 20 egyptian soldiers pulled logan to safety, allowing her to return to her hotel. in the days leading up to mubarak's resignation, journalists had become regular targets, detained, beaten and even killed by both security forces and pro-mubarak protestors. logan is an experienced journalist who has spent much of her career covering the world's most dangerous places including the wars in iraq and afghanistan. >> the day after the attack, logan flew back to the u.s.
cbs says she's in a hospital now, chris and she's recovering. >> stephanie, thank you so much. our thoughts are with her today. well, in what could be a major headache for travelers today, united airlines has voluntarily grounded its fleet of of nearly 100 757 jets. they admit they haven't done a critical and mandated check on equipment that determines speed and altitude. the airline is expected to cancel or delay a number of flights through today, mostly long hauls within the u.s. in the 135-year history of the westminster dog show, you can call this a first. this prized pooch, hickory, the first scottish deer hound -- have you ever even heard of that -- wins best in show. 5-year-old hickory beating out more than 2600 other dogs for the world's most coveted canine crown. one of her owners says she'll be rewarded with "all the ice cream she wants." congresswoman michele bachmann going after first lady
michelle obama over breast-feeding? and are prisoners able to steal while locked away? from the government no less. richard lui is trying to figure that one out. >> yeah, put in the slammer for stealing thousands of jail birds are able to bilk uncle sam of millions of dollars every year. how easily they do it, i'll show you.
just getting word from governor scott in florida that he is rejecting high-speed u.s. rail funds. he said that he'll give back the $2 billion to the federal government because, frankly, the state doesn't have the other 3 billion that they would have to kick in. he's not the first one to push back on this. republican governors in ohio and wisconsin have also rejected
high-speed rail plans. you'll remember from the state of the union that this was a priority for president obama. meantime, a dire warning coming from defense secretary robert gates this morning. he is testifying now on capitol hill about the cuts to the defense budget. in his prepared remarks, he's telling the armed services committee, "shortsighted cuts could well lead to costlier and more tragic consequences later." the gop continuing to beat up on the president's budget plans. >> the president has disappointed us all by declining that opportunity. he punted. >> our time is now in order to change course, change direction. and i am certainly willing to work with you and anybody who recognizes that point. i don't see it in the budget. >> only in washington could you run a deficit and claim it's balance and somehow use the word "balance." mr. lou, you couldn't do that anywhere else. they'd laugh you out of the room. >> joining me, democratic congresswoman loretta sanchez.
good to see you. i know you're on the house armed services committee. let me first get your reaction to whoo we heard from robert gates, we live in a dangerous, often unstable world and he's worried about further cuts. >> we do live in a very dangerous world, but we are also not the world's policemen. so we have to be very cognizant of the fact that a majority of the discretionary or the monies that the congress and president decide where they go, the majority are going toward defense and that in the last few years in particular, because we are in two wars, we've increased significantly not only the amount of people who are in the service working for us but also the amount of money that we're throwing at these wars. but we're supposed to be getting out of iraq and as we try to figure out how to get out of afghanistan, those monies should be coming down. unfortunately, the budgets at this point don't reflect that. >> well, his argument is retrenchment is shortsighted. that what we're look at now is under the lens of the pressure that we're feeling to bring down
the deficit, to get these budgets under control. but it could be costlier and more tragic in the future. what would you say to him about that? >> well, certainly, for example, there was just a report out this january that said, in the last year, we spent $285 billion on military contracts with companies who were defrauding the united states. so clearly we have thrown a lot of money, because when you're in war, in the fog of war, as some say, you don't want to be accused of not getting the bullets and everything that people need. but clearly we've been at this now for eight years, there are things that should be more program and system oriented and we need to stop just throwing money out and saying, please, please, let's win this war by doing that. so i believe there are plenty of my colleagues who want to sit down and go line item by line item and figure out, why are we going to give any more contracts
to these types of companies who have defrauded us just in this past year? >> democratic congresswoman loretta sanchez, thank you. let me bring dan and karen back in. is she right, karen? do we need to go line by line? >> i'm laughing because, you know, i don't know who these people are representing, but this country is in a very, very serious situation. i really think that the president made some sober cuts and he did things that, you know, some people don't like and some -- everyone is not going to be happy, but things had to happen here. and we need to just go along with it because our country is at stake. and i'm just, like, amazed at these politicians using this as an opportunity to politically pander as opposed to saying, this is what the country needs to have happen here. it's ridiculous. >> you know, dan, he punted, paul ryan's line, and we need to get even tough ir, deeper cuts. >> that's the word of the day, punt, i would say it's more a
quick kick, an offensive move. it's not just a deep punt formation, a quick kick to put the other side on the defense. part of this has to do with 2012 politics. let's get down to defense. robert gates is a republican, a republican appointee, was kept on by president bush. he's not some left-leaning liberal democrat as republicans like to call them. there's nothing more important than defense of the united states. some of the consequences gates is talking about, imagine yourself a soldier out in a dangerous situation in afghanistan and you hear that in washington they're going to cut the defense budget? imagine that you are a taliban leader in afghanistan. what does that say to you when it says the united states is cutting way back on their defense? what does it say to the chinese who want to supplant us as a world economic and military super power. these are deep questions. personal opinion, when robert
gates, a republican, a bush republican, reagan republican, says, be careful how deep you cut and how you cut, i'll listen carefully. on the other side of that is, we have a right to demand we get value for dollar. we're not getting full value for dollar if in the defense budget because there's a lot of brother-in-lawing and lobbying work with contractors. >> dan, karen, we'll have more later. ahead, how botched black market plastic surgery has turned into an all-out police hunt for someone known as the black madam. that story is next. we're going high-tech. you can follow me on twitter @jansi @jansingco. time for your business entrepreneur of the week. lindsay gas kins founder of marbles the brain store believe in the brain health.
that plus allowing customers to try the products before buying has spurred expansion to eight stores. for more, watch "your business" sunday mornings at 7:30 on msnbc xs here's the truth. at allstate, safe drivers can save forty-five percent or more on car insurance. protect your home with allstate, too, and you can save an extra ten percent. dollar for dollar, nobody protects you like allstate. you struggle to control your blood sugar. you exercise and eat right,
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about adding onglyza. extra help. extra control. you may be eligible to pay $10 a month with the onglyza value card program. right now philadelphia police are searching for an aspiring transgender rap star in connection to the butt injection procedure that left a british tourist dead. earlier this month, two british
tourists went to a hotel to get silicone injections. 20-year-old claudia died a day later. a search warrant is out for the black madam, real name patge victoria winslow after witnesses say very administered the injections. michelle sa goen na joins me now. let's get people up to speed. this is basically black market plastic surgery, right? >> that's exactly what it is. that's what investigators are starting to put the pieces together on, chris. they did execute a search warrant at the black madame's home late last week. i can confirm that from philadelphia police. and they did take away about 37 items from her house. now, although it appears they have some evidence and they are building a case, she is only wanted for questioning at this point. in this particular death. >> now, philly.com has a report of her talking to a photographer about casting spells, about voodoo. what more do we know about her? >> you know, i spoke with one of
of -- a photographer that she actually worked with back in november, jim graham, and he -- she did lease out his studio for a very extensive two-day shoot. what he told me was that she's very tall. although she tries to have a voice like a woman, you can definitely tell she's a man. she has very, very large breasts. that would make her stand out in a crowd. and that she pays attention to detail, like no other that he has ever seen. if she could have actually shot the music video and produce td by herself she would have. she spent hours and hours in makeup and really paid a lot of attention to detail. she's very soft-spoken and because of her height she's very tall, she would definitely stand out in a crowd. >> let's go to the victim for a moment. do we know yet what might have actually caused the death? >> we don't know yet because the toxicology reports aren't in. it takes four to six weeks to get those back. what investigators believe at this time is that the injections may have contributed to her
death. so she did come over from overseas with a few friends, and allegedly went to this hampton inn to receive those injections. so this case is building, and it's quite bizarre. we will definitely keep everyone up to speed on this, chris- >> it is bizarre. michelle, thank you. did humans triumph in the bid to destroy technology, or did two of the smartest people on the planet get spanked by watson the computer on "jeopard "jeopardy"? >> the response is what is toronto, with a lot of question marks. >> you can hear the audience surprise, but was his wager smarter than his answers? ♪ four decadent flavors. 60 calories. it's me o'clock -- time for jell-o. a living, breathing intelligence that is helping business rethink how to do business.
case. but the rest were stolen by looters who broke into the museum during the protests in late january. back here at home, the outrageous case of the florida mom accused of killing her two teenage children because they were "mouthy" is back in court this morning. 50-year-old julie shen i kerr was arraigned on two counts of premeditated first-degree murder. she could face the death penalty if convicted. prisoners are picking our pockets to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. this is the front page of "usa today." you see it, inmates stole $39 million from the irs in 2009. my question is, how in the world does that happen? richard lui, what are you finding out? >> chris, they're inmates. that's why we're so shocked about. inmates like danillo swar ez here need only three ingredients to turn uncle sam into a $50,000 atm by filing fake tax returns. this is what they do. first ingredient, a computer. they search for a bankrupt or closed down business online.
they'll also look for information on identities and social security numbers. that's the first ingredient. second piece? simply a 1040 tax return form. with the information they've gotten online, they'll fill it in with a fake social security number, a fake name, we'll just say, and over here they have a w-2 form. they also fill that out. they'll use a fake business. it might be the corner store here. then they staple it, fold it up, and send it in to the irs. then what happens next, the third part, they get the checks. here's one, this is just a facsimile. they'll get 1 or maybe 15 of them because they filed so many of these fake returns. they'll need a wife, sister or brother to help. what that wife, sister or brother will do is put the money in the bank for them and then later on they'll go back to their computer, back to where the inmate is, and they'll be able to tell online they've gotten the money. up to $50,000 or $60,000. chris, it's that easy. unfortunately, this is like a national rash. look at this list we put
together here, 45,000 cases, the list goes on and on and on, some 30 pages here. they're robbing uncle sam, and the list from 2009 shows it's happening at almost 1700 jails or correctional facilities. normally there's somebody back here to hold this for me. i'm going to let it go back doun. it's getting worse, tripling over five years to almost $40 million. now, you can see that's quite shocking but there are solutions out there, like releasing information to states so they can help investigate. also, coordinate on all levels. this means federal, state and correctional facilities. they're not doing that so well at the moment. and auditing all the returns from prisoners. there is a report out there, chris, that says they don't do that. the irs says, though, they have according to "usa today." otherwise, folks like danillo swar's, will continue to steal in places designed to keep them from doing just that, chris. >> am i right that they think they probably haven't even
tracked them all so it's probably even a lot more than the $39 million they found? >> that's right. huge. >> unbelievable stuff. >> shocking. >> i guess somebody who is supposed to be doing that thing for you is off filing. >> they said somebody was back there, but i pulled it myself. >> nice try. >> we got it done. >> fantastic stuff. scary, too, as we talk p the budget cuts we're making. day two today, man versus the machine on "jeopardy." ibm supercomputer watson handing two of the show's greatest champions a shellacking. even after this final "jeopardy" miss. >> and the response was -- what is toronto? with a lot of question marks, which means, of course, that watson had many, many doubts. and the wager, how much are you going to lose? oh, you sneak. $947. >> watson is now ahead by more than $25,000 heading into
today's final day of competition. opponent ken jennings may have to resort to his secret strategy, which he shared with richard lui on our show yesterday. >> if watson gets a big league, i'm just going to hit control ault delete and it will fold. >> jennings also said watson is like the terminator. he just keeps on coming. tea party darling michele bachmann has a new target, first lady michelle obama. the topic? breast-feeding. balkmann accusing the first lady of trying to lead "a nanny state." it all goes back to an irs rule that lets you write off nusing pumps as medical expenses. bachmann says, i've given birth to five babies and breast-fed every single one. to think the government has to buy my breast pump, that's the new definition of a nanny state. let's bring back dan rather, karen hunter and with us from philadelphia msnbc contributor and nationally syndicated talk
show host michael smir convict issue. normally i'd go to you, but karen is so loud over here. >> i'm mad that michele bachmann is raising five children. i'm sorry. to me -- you know, dan and i talked about this on the break. this woman is indicative of what's wrong with this country. you know, she's picking one thing out that michelle obama's done that is actually good, a breast pump is, what, $28? we're not talking about a lot of money. she's bringing attention to childhood obesity, which is a problem, and made it into an issue. this is not an issue. this is about bringing attention and awareness to our children being overweight, which will eventually be a plight on society. >> let me play devil's advocate and michael bring you in now. is there an argument to be made about things like breast pumps in a time where we're looking at every nickel and dime we spend and figuring out what should and should not the federal government be spending our money on, the tax dollars? >> i think michele bachmann's comments fit a narrative that
the gop opposition that's been trying to fester at a variety of print levels which is this administration wants to be involved in all aspects of your life. it it seems to me that a nanny state would be the administration saying, this is the way you must rear your children. that's not what they're doing. instead, to be antiseptic about it, the issue is, is a breast pump a medical device? i'm a guy, but i've watched my wife go through this four times. it sewure seems like a medical device. we're not forcing it, but we're adding a tax incentives and the benefits are the studies that say we're going to limit childhood obesity the longer women breast-feed. to me it makes sense. >> that's one of part of the equati equation. there's another question about michele bachmann. she's going to iowa. there's a rumbling she has higher aspirations. >> well, from a political standpoint, and that's the
context in which we're discu discussing this, it's rare, unique, maybe unheard of to get political gain by attacking the first lady. whether you're a republican attacking a democratic first lady or vice versa, politically this is not smart for republicans. point one. point two, here we are a country dealing with a still-teetering economy in many ways, we have the rising threat of china, we have two wars going on, we are about going broke, and we're talking about -- excuse me, i don't mean this disrespectfully -- and we're talking about breast-feeding? breast pumps? this makes no sense. politically it's a loser for whatever party uses it. >> i disagree. we're in a different culture. if you mention her name, she's won. we're in a country where we celebrate people like snooki. i don't know if michele bachmann has made a miscalculation attacking michelle obama because we're talking about it. >> for mer it may not be, but
the republican party to allow this go very far is a miscalculation. catch "dan rather reports," a prer karas piece about the middle east and security forces this week on hd net. dramatic video caught on a police dash camera. look at this, a wrong-way chase where an officer had to make a very dangerous decision and this morning he's being called a hero. how are you getting to a happier place? running there? dancing there? how about eating soup to get there? campbell's soups fill you with good nutrition,
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kids who have their tonsils removed have an increased risk for gaining weight after surgery according to a new report. researchers at st. louis university studied 800 children who underwent a tonsillectomy between 1970 and 2009. they found most gained more weight than was expected after the procedure. a texas police officer is being hailed as a hero after crashing into a car to prevent a wrong-way crash. the dash cam video shows cops chasing a man suspected of drunk driving with the oncoming traffic doing everything they can to avoid the car. the incident clearly calls for some offscript thinking of the department's chase policy. the decision was made to crash the patrol car into the other
vehicle. irving, texas, police call the move gutsy. they said it likely saved lives. the wrong-way driver was arrested and jailed on suspicion of dwi. the pentagon this morning denying reports that the u.s. commander in afghanistan, general david petraeus, is quitting. they're also pushing back on reports he'll be rotated out of the post by the end of the year, saying he is not leaving "anytime soon." meantime, this is a glimpse of the massive operation undertaken in marjah last year. hbo is about to debut a documentary on the u.s. marines' battle to liberate that key afghanistan town from the taliban. filmmaker ben anderson spent two months embedded with u.s. forces. good to see you. thanks for coming. you were in the middle of some pretty intense fire fights. tell us your major impression as you spent all of that time with u.s. forces. >> i think the intensity of the fighting -- the marines have
been there like the veterans of fallujah. they said it was more intense than what they had seen in fallujah. a couple of major flaws in the counterinsurgency population. >> which are? >> that you can separate the residents from the taliban. i think that's impossible. even if the military part of the plan went perfect, which it almost did in marjah, it went to plan, but you then hand over to the afghan government and the people will welcome the afghan government. the people of marjah had seen the afghan government a few years before and they weren't interested. they prefer the taliban. >> i want to show a clip, an exchange you had with soldiers and a small child just to sort of show how desensitized the locals are to troops and to these constant battles. take a look at this.
>> i just found that exchange heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. tell us a little more about that and your interactions with some of the local people. >> i mean, that guy in particular was 20 years old, a midget and living in marjah, had been a ref few gee in iran, was a heroin addict when he returned to marjah and he had a very sad end. the people in general, they're just so used to different people coming through, that again the policy thinks you can get the local population to pick sides. and the local population will absolutely not pick sides because all they want is a quiet, peaceful lives. if the marines come through, they'll be friendly and say whatever they want to say. if the taliban comes through at night, they'll do the same. >> marjah is in helmand provi e
province. just earlier this week, a major says he believes that the taliban there has been beaten. do you think that's true? >> i've been back twice since then. i was there over christmas. there are ieds everywhere. the fighting season is over now until next spring. it's still a terribly dangerous place to be, and on every -- for every statistic i've seen, it's getting worse out there for the locals, for coalition troops, and for the taliban. but it's getting worse every year. and i don't see it getting better anytime soon. >> we're out of time, but i want to say it's really dangerous work when folks like you go out and embed for that period of time. what do you want people to take away from this documentary? >> there is no good solution now. there is no -- there's no decisive victory coming. the best we can hope for i think is a compromise, some kind of peace deal with the taliban have some share of power. that's the best we can hope for i think. >> ben anderson, thanks so much for coming in. this debuts tomorrow, "the
well, when it comes to lindsay low hoon, nothing is ever simple. "the late show with david letterman" had 00 nounsed the fallen starlet would appear on the show tonight. but wait just a minute. lohan tweeted, i'm not going to be doing david letterman. i'm not sure how this happened, but i am sorry for the confusion. well, now we know what happened. the letterman show just issued a statement saying they made the mistake, "someone purporting to be a friend of lindsay's reached out to the show and booked her to appear." they went on to say, "clearly this person was not authorized to make commitments on her behalf." switching gears, national
gas prices hit their highest levels in history for the month of february. $3.12 a gallon, that's about 50 cents above last year's average. and it's one reason to maybe get excited about this green slimy stuff. scientists say fuel made from algae is cheaper and cleaner than crude. msnbc's environment and science expert jeff corwin recently checked out a start-up company that's already testing it in cars. >> reporter: it may look like your ordinary science lab, but the workers here are consumed with only one thing -- algae. we got a behind-the-scenes look at their algae production from start to finish. company co-founder harrison dillon was our guide. >> what we do in this room is we screen algae to find out which strains make oil and make a lot of oil and make the right kind of oil. this is our fermentation lab. this is where the action
happens. this is almost like a miniatureized oil-producing machine. that's exactly what it is. >> reporter: so we have the material right here that's actually feeding the algae. >> correct. we grow our algae through fermentation so in the large-scale production process, the algae will be in big steel tanks where it's dark inside. we take the biomass, the plant material, and we feed it in at a precise rate, at a precise temperature, and the algae conviert that buy mow mass directly into crude oil very rapidly. >> reporter: this company believes this crude oil will replace petroleum in the near future. and to prove it, they brought out their very own algae-fueled jeep. this is fuel you've actually manufactured from the algae. >> this is diesel fuel we made from oil made from algae. >> reporter: so you're just going to pour it in? >> yeah. it's regular diesel fuel. >> reporter: now it's time for the ultimate test to see if this diesel manufactured from algae can fire this vehicle.
are there any differences with an engine being fired with fuel that has been produced from algae? >> one key difference is this fuel actually burns a lot cleaner than petroleum-based diesel fuel. so it produces about 28% less particulates that petroleum-based diesel. >> reporter: it's interesting you can make oil from algae, but how do you make it competitive? >> well, that's the advantage to this technology of fermentation with algae. ethanol costs $1.50 a gallon to make. we will be at or below $80 a barrel in the very near future. >> reporter: not everyone is convinced. one recent study called it a slow growth industry that needs more research, development and demonstration. >> there's just no way given the amount of work that's gone in and the relatively small amounts of oil that have been are produced that this is ready to
become a serious replacement for petroleum fuel. >> reporter: but the company recently delivered 1500 gallons of its oil to the u.s. navy for testing. a small step toward making this green fuel the energy solution for the future. >> jeff corwin joins me now, always good to see you. when you say the energy solution for the future, when is that future? >> well, it's interesting, chris. the achilles hill to the production of oil from algae is that it required sunlight, which adds a lot of unknown. but now by genetically producing the algae, they can produce it in a controlled environment. they're now producing it at a large-scale levels. so we're just a few years away from actually using oil from algae to fire our cars in our industries. >> in the meantime, apparently they're making cookies out of it, but before you have the chance to try to feed those to me, i will say thank you, jeff corwin. >> no. you have to try it, chris. >> in the commercial break. just ahead. >> you have to try this cookie.
isn't this good? this is it a shortbread cookie made from algae. >> that's not bad. >> it's healthy for you and this is a byproduct of -- isn't it pretty good? >> yeah. >> who thought you could have a healthy shortbread cookie. just ahead, bernie madoff breaks his silence in his first prison interview. who he said had to know about his $80 million ponzi scheme. plus, a new war raging on abortion on two fronts. where is this heading?
that the department of defense will face a crisis if we end up with a year-long continuing resolution or a significant funding cut for 2011. >> defense secretary robert gates sending a stern warning about what could happen, he says, if cuts to his budget come to fruition. good morning. i'm chris jansing. we'll have much more on the escalating budget battles in a few minutes.