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President Obama in Canada; Working against the U.S.; Your Government at Work; Chimp Attack; Race and Politics

Aired February 19, 2009 - 19:00   ET


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf. Tonight, President Obama goes to Canada on his first foreign trip and puts one of his main campaign promises on hold. We'll have complete coverage.

And tonight, a newspaper cartoon becomes a new flash point in the controversy over race, politics and free speech. We'll examine the showdown over a cartoon in the "New York Post."

And tonight startling new revelations about the owner of a chimpanzee that brutally attacked a woman and was shot dead by the police, all of that, all the day's news, much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, February 19th. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. President Obama today retreated from his campaign promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. On his first foreign trip the president said any changes to NAFTA can wait. President Obama also refused to criticize Canada's decision to withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan in 2011. Now, this as the president sends another 17,000 of our troops to Afghanistan. Dan Lothian reports from Ottawa.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama didn't go far on his first foreign trip. But he did cover a lot of ground making a commitment with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to tackle the global economic downturn.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The financial crisis is global and so our response must be global.

LOTHIAN: Announcing a new clean energy initiative.

STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: That will reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

LOTHIAN: And showing respect for Canada's decision to pull its combat troops out of Afghanistan within two years even as the U.S. sends in more forces.

OBAMA: I certainly did not press the prime minister on any additional commitments beyond the ones that have already been made. LOTHIAN: The U.S. and Canada are the largest global trading partners with more than $1 billion in cross border commerce each day. So trade was also on the table. But even though the president got a warm reception with flattering signs, at times this trade partnership can be an uncomfortable relationship. As a candidate Mr. Obama said this about the North American Free Trade Agreement that some blame for thousands of lost factory jobs in the U.S.

OBAMA: I will make sure that we renegotiate.

LOTHIAN: Now he's much more diplomatic.

OBAMA: My hope is, is that there's a way of doing this that is not disruptive.

LOTHIAN: But Prime Minister Harper made it clear where he stands.

HARPER: We can address some of these concerns, which I understand, without, you know, opening the whole NAFTA and unraveling what is a very complex agreement.

LOTHIAN: And concern, too, over the "Buy American" provision in the recent stimulus bill. The president tried to put his neighbors to the north at ease.

OBAMA: I want to grow trade and not contract it.

LOTHIAN: And a lighter moment, after the president left Parliament, he stopped at a craft market to buy a snow globe, key chain and other gifts for his family.


LOTHIAN: Like the U.S., Canada is going through an economic downturn so the prime minister here is pushing his own stimulus plan. It's much smaller than the $787 billion in the U.S. but both leaders did get a chance to sit down and talk about ways to jump start the economy here -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Dan Lothian. Well as Dan just reported, Canada is this country's biggest trading partner. But the United States has been running a huge trade deficit with Canada for years, which means we import more goods from Canada that we send to them. Now the U.S. trade deficit with Canada last year was $74 billion.

The United States also has a trade deficit of $64 billion with Mexico. Now, Mexico is the third country in the North American Free Trade Agreement and those huge U.S. trade deficits show that so-called free trade has done nothing to help working men and women and their families in this country. Now, the latest trade figures also reveal another disturbing truth.

Our fastest-growing exports make this country look more like a third-world country than the world's leading economic power. Bill Tucker reports on the utter mess in our trade policy.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's fastest- growing exports do not look like this communications and wireless equipment, computer parts, semiconductor manufacturing equipment. According to the U.S. Business and Industry Trade Council, those sectors were among America's worst export performers last year. America's best performers -- fertilizers, coal, crude oil, natural gas, soybeans, corn, wheat, a top 10 list dominated by raw materials or commodities. Typically countries which make and export commodities are generally poor, third-world countries with low standards of living, according to the Council's Alan Tonelson.

ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: This kind of economic performance is bound to turn the United States more and more into a low-income, third-world country. And we're already seeing the results in the depressed wages that Americans have been earning on average for three decades now. But because of the economic crisis, this deterioration is happening faster and faster.

TUCKER: Trade economist Tonelson and other critics of the U.S. trade policy say the United States has adopted the trade model based on consumption rather than production. It's a model based on the notion that consuming more than you produce creates wealth, they say. The problem is that flies in the face of economic reality.

High standards of living are generally found in countries which export high-valued goods and advanced manufacturers are usually high- income countries. And their citizens enjoy high standards of living. Lori Wallach of Global Trade Watch warns...

LORI WALLACH, GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: Our current trade policy is heading us for a cliff and so for President Obama to succeed in rescuing the economy, in fighting for the middle class, in rebuilding our businesses, in delivering health care and so many of those issues, he can't avoid fixing the trade problem.

TUCKER: And continuing to run massive trade deficits, the United States is transferring its wealth to countries that produce, who then sell those produced, finished goods back to the U.S.


TUCKER: Now last year's trade deficit of nearly $700 billion equaled almost five percent of our entire economy. And Kitty, the history of nations who run those kinds of trade deficits relative to the gross domestic product is not good. So it should not, perhaps, be surprising that the United States finds itself in the middle of an economic crisis because that's what history tells us usually happens.

PILGRIM: You know when you hear someone like Lori Wallach say the trade policy is going over a cliff that really resonates with hopefully our leaders in Washington.

TUCKER: And they all make the point they don't have to go over a cliff. We're just headed in that direction and we can steer away from that cliff if we choose to do so.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Bill Tucker.

Well Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also traveling abroad in Asia. And today she said any North Korean missile task would be, quote, "very unhelpful", as she put it. Well tonight Clinton arrived in the South Korean capital of Seoul. She said she wants to continue six-country talks to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear program.

New concerns tonight about Iran's nuclear ambitions, U.N. officials say Iran has produced more nuclear material than previously thought. And those officials are telling the "Financial Times", Iran now has enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, but the U.N. says it could take at least two years for Iran to make a nuclear weapon.

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu today moved closer to becoming the country's next prime minister. Netanyahu won the endorsement of far right leader Avignor Lieberman. It means Netanyahu is in the strongest position to form a new coalition government after last week's election. A right-wing government could suspend all peace talks with the Palestinians.

Still to come, the state of California steps back from financial disaster. It averts a budget crisis, but what is the cost? Also rising outrage over Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Italy at taxpayer's expense next.


PILGRIM: Investors fearful of a lengthy recession today drove the Dow to its lowest closing level in more than six years. The Dow dropped almost 90 points, closing at 7465; sharp declines in financial shares led that drop.

The California legislature today finally ended its impasse and passed a budget to help close a $42 billion deficit. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered a special session of the legislature to deal with the crisis 106 days ago. Now, this budget contains spending cuts, tax increases and borrowing. The governor this afternoon called the agreement a great victory for the people of California and a defeat for special interests.

Members of Congress tonight are using government aircraft for what appears to be junkets overseas at taxpayer expense. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a leading congressional delegation to Italy to meet with Italian leaders and visit museums. Drew Griffin of our special investigation unit has our report.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shortly after passing the Reinvestment and Recovery Act and shortly after making this statement about struggling Americans...

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The American people are feeling a great deal of pain.

GRIFFIN: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and seven fellow Democrats in the House boarded a military charter like this government-owned Boeing 737 executive jet and flew off to Italy. Why in a time of economic crisis would the speaker, who happens to be of Italian heritage travel to Italy?

The United States has no greater ally in NATO than Italy, the speaker said in a statement, "which is why the delegation looks forward to meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano" and other Italian government officials. She also has been going to museums in Florence, receptions at night, and was even presented with the birth certificates of her grandparents by the head of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

PELOSI: Surprised me with a birth certificate of my grandfather and my great grandmother.

GRIFFIN: Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, and her husband Paul, also on the trip, had a private audience with the Pope. Her office would not release the entire Italian itinerary of the all- Democratic delegation due to security reasons. So what's the cost of her Italian trip to the taxpayers back home?

We won't know yet. Congress gives its traveling members several weeks to file their expenses, to tell us what hotels they stayed in, to tell us who took their spouses or staff. But the government-owned Boeing executive jet doesn't fly cheap. About $10,000 an hour according to the Air Force, 20 hours flying between Washington and Italy adds up to about $200,000.

That is interesting news to the president of the U.S. Travel Association. For weeks now, Congress has chastised banks and bailout recipients for unnecessary trips and conferences. And Roger Dow says that has hurt the travel industry.

ROGER DOW, U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION: By demonizing or by sensationalizing travel, all you're doing is you're not hurting the businessman. You're hurting the bellman, the maid, the town that counts on that travel for taxes.

GRIFFIN: He hopes Congress maybe after these trips will recognize the value for doing business. Right now there's a congressional delegation in Gaza, another in Brussels and Paris. And CNN caught this group of House members on their way to India last Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s journey to study Gandhi.

The details, six members of Congress, Martin Luther King III, Andrew Young, musician Herbie Hancock and others, both the U.S. State Department and Congress are picking up the bill. Martin Luther King III, who along with his siblings sold his father's papers for $32 million two years ago, was among the guests of the State Department. He called it the trip of a lifetime.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN: Kitty, we should know all the details in about 60 days when congressional members are required to file their expenses. But I must tell you, some of them judging by their staff comments aren't happy we even brought the subject up or made any comparison between their travel and executive travel. I'll tell you one congressman's press officer even suggested reporting this story was a joke, refusing to answer any of our questions.

PILGRIM: Drew, I don't know how you can treat this story as a joke in this economy with what Americans are going through right now.

GRIFFIN: It certainly seems to be bad timing when you're telling people that we need to pass the stimulus bill because of the economic crisis and then boarding these flights. They will probably argue, as they do, that this is part of their job to go out into the world and to see what they have to pass bills about.

PILGRIM: Well bad timing and some may argue bad judgment. Thanks very much. Drew Griffin.

Well we would like to know what you think. And here is tonight's poll. Do you find it funny as one of the congressman's offices suggested that lawmakers are using taxpayer dollars for their overseas junkets? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

Now as Drew Griffin just reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Benedict while in Italy. The Pope sharply criticized Pelosi's support of abortion rights. Pope Benedict telling the Speaker all Catholics, especially legislators and politicians should work to create quote, "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development".

Pelosi has a different version of the meeting. Her office issued a statement that made no mention of the Pope's abortion comments.

Coming up, could the brutal chimpanzee attack have been prevented? We'll have a special report.

Also, killer twisters touched down in Georgia. We'll have that story next.


PILGRIM: One person is dead. At least 16 others injured after powerful storms and tornadoes tore through Georgia. Now, at least three tornadoes touched down in central Georgia. As many as 100 homes and buildings were damaged. That same storm produced golf ball-sized hail. The hail damaged several homes and cars. Nearly 13,000 customers were left without power at the height of that storm.

Investigators in Ohio say financial trouble may be the motive for a murder/suicide outside of Columbus. Theodore Bailey (ph) called 911 saying he already killed his wife and son. He then said he was going to kill himself. Bailey reportedly told the dispatcher he was having financial trouble and quote, "couldn't take it anymore". New developments tonight in the tragic case of a woman mauled by a pet chimpanzee; the critically injured victim today was moved to the Cleveland Clinic. Now this clinic is known for the nation's first successful face transplant. The case raises serious questions about just what kind of animals should be allowed to live in people's homes. Ines Ferre reports.


HEROLD: He's killing my friend!

911 OPERATOR: Who's killing your friend?

HEROLD: My chimpanzee!

911 OPERATOR: Oh, your chimpanzee is killing your friend?

HEROLD: Yes. He ripped her apart. Hurry up!

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sandra Herold's desperate call to 911 as her pet chimpanzee, Travis, viciously attacked her friend. New details showed Ms. Herold treated Travis like a human.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was my life. Everybody knows it. I mean I cooked for him. I shopped for him. I lived with him. I slept with him.

FERRE: The 200-pound chimpanzee was fatally shot by Connecticut police this week after brutalizing Charla Nash, tearing apart her face. Primatologist Virginia Landau says this is a double tragedy.

VIRGINIA LANDAU, THE JANE GOODALL INSTITUTE: It's unfortunate that it takes something so terrible to make us realize that a wild animal is just that. It's wild. Humans are domesticated. Chimpanzees are wild and they need to be allowed to act like a chimpanzee.

FERRE: Leslie Mostel-Paul told NBC that in 1996 the chimp bit her hand. At the time she complained to the owner and police.

LESLIE MOSTEL-PAUL, VICTIM OF '96 CHIMP ATTACK: I honestly believe if they had followed through maybe the laws would have been changed sooner and this other woman would not be in the hospital fighting for her life now.

FERRE: State laws allowed Herold to own the 14-year-old chimpanzee, but legislators and wildlife groups are calling for stricter legislation.

JOHN CALVELLI, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOC.: These animals should not be held in homes. They are five to seven times stronger than humans. And at the end of the day it was a matter of time. This was a ticking time bomb.

FERRE: Twenty states and the District of Colombia prohibit keeping primates as pets. But the Humane Society estimates there are about 15,000 privately owned primates in this country.


FERRE: Senator Barbara Boxer and wildlife advocates are pushing the Captive Primate Safety Act Bill, which would stop the interstate commerce of wild primates. They hope this will limit the ability of people to purchase wild animals and keep them as pets and hopefully stop tragic outcomes like the one in Connecticut -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Ines, do we know how Charla Nash is doing right now?

FERRE: Well the latest reports say that she is in stable but critical condition. She was taken to Cleveland. But you know in Stamford in the hospital, they had four teams of surgeons, seven hours of surgery. I mean this was -- yes.

PILGRIM: Devastating attack. Thanks very much. Ines Ferre.

Well a Seattle zoo is open again after a monkey escaped from an exhibit today. Zoo keepers eventually captured the small dabraza (ph) monkey and took him to a secure area. Now the monkey will be kept from the public for the time being. Dabraza (ph) monkeys weigh about 11 pounds. The zoo was on lockdown during the 45-minute long incident.

A woman in western Mexico tonight is recovering after being attacked by a rampaging bull. The bull escaped during a bullfight in the city of Pa Lima (ph). It broke out of the ring, tore through the crowd into the parking lot where the woman was injured. Now matadors chased and caught the bull. They herded it back into the ring. And the bull was killed in a later bullfight.

Coming up, Detroit on the brink, one domestic carmaker, Ford Motor, is still standing without government help. We'll have a special report on that.

Also, race, politics and free speech, the confrontation over a newspaper cartoon in New York. We'll have complete coverage next.


PILGRIM: The nationwide controversy over a newspaper cartoon in the "New York Post" tonight is escalating. Now, critics of that cartoon supported by their friends in the liberal media say it is absolutely racist. But the "New York Post" is defending its cartoon and its right to free speech.


PILGRIM (voice-over): Al Sharpton today led protests outside the "New York Post" protesting a cartoon that appeared in the paper yesterday. It shows two police officers, a smoking gun, and the body of a bullet riddled chimp. The caption, "they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill".

Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the "New York Post" stands by the cartoon, stating "the cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy."

The cartoon has led to a firestorm of accusations and counter accusations. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, "at its most benign the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the president to a rabid chimp."

The "Chicago Sun-Times" Stella Foster said quote, "it was the most offensive cartoon I have ever seen in a daily newspaper, especially if you read between the lines." The cartoonist, Sean Delonas, told CNN yesterday "it's absolutely ridiculous. Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon. It's about the economic stimulus bill. If you're going to make that about anybody, it would be about Pelosi, which it is not."

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There was no chimpanzee with a sign underneath it that said Congress or said Pelosi or said House Democrats and so to sit here and to say that you can't equate the two, no, we understand that there's a history and a legacy.

PILGRIM: During the protest today Al Sharpton threatened to demand an FCC review of Rupert Murdoch's control of media in New York like the "New York Post."

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We will not pick the fight.


SHARPTON: They did. We made an appeal.


SHARPTON: They decided to fight. But I guess they thought we really were chimpanzees. They will find out that we're lions.


SHARPTON: And we're getting to roar.


PILGRIM: Now some members of the national media tonight insist that this cartoon is, quote, "racist" in spite of the fact that the cartoonist and the editor of the "New York Post" have stated clearly that was not their intent.

Joining me now for more on the controversy over the "New York Post" cartoon and Attorney General Eric Holder's recent "nation of cowards" comments is Richard Thompson Ford. And Ford is the author of "The Race Card: How Bluffing about Bias makes Race Relations Worse". And he is a professor of law at Stanford University. He joins us now from San Francisco. Sir, thank you very much for joining us and you know you have studied this subject in such depth. Tell me first your reaction to this controversy. Are you surprised at the magnitude of the discussion?

RICHARD THOMPSON FORD, AUTHOR, "THE RACE CARD": Well, I am. You know, I think that -- I personally found this cartoon offensive. But I think we tend to blow these types of things out of proportion. I can see that there is ambiguity. And quite honestly, I don't think it rises to the level of a civil rights violation.

I think we've got more important racial issues to discuss. And this kind of thing is unfortunately often the way we discuss race issues today in the United States. We pick some scandal and we focus on that when there are real and much more important and deep issues to be addressed instead.

PILGRIM: So you think it's side tracking the real discussion about race?

FORD: Absolutely.

PILGRIM: You know Reverend Al Sharpton really almost single handedly stirred up this controversy by having so many media appearances. Let's listen to one thing that he had to say.


SHARPTON: The issue is there's a historic racial stereotype of calling African-Americans monkeys; how you have a chimpanzee there as one who personifies the economic stimulus package that clearly is advocated and authored by the president, the first African-American president is clear.


PILGRIM: What do you make of this you know bringing in of the historical precedent? And it was actually tied to a specific news event, too, wasn't it?

FORD: Well, that's right. I understand the reason that people took offense. And it is true that historically the equation of African-Americans and apes or chimpanzees has been a vicious racist insult and it's something that we've seen throughout American history, so I have to say I think the "Post" should have seen this coming. You know, having said that, again, I think that it's been blown out of proportion. Part of living in a free society is that there are comments and political cartoons that may be irritating or offensive to some people. For the most part, we need to just let this stuff go.

PILGRIM: You know, the cartoonist was absolutely furious, quite honestly. He said it's ridiculous. And he said he would be making fun of Nancy Pelosi, if anyone. Let's just take a look at what he said. The "New York Post" editor in chief said, "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit, the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy."

Do you thing that's sufficient? Some are demanding a further apology.

FORD: Well, no, you know, I think that's a plausible interpretation of the cartoon, quite honestly. It's not clear to me that this was directed at Obama. I do think that the post should have seen this coming that they should have been more sensitive and, you know, perhaps they could say more in that respect. But, you know, again, I think that there are much more important racial issues to talk about. This is really a distraction; I wish people would just let it drop.

PILGRIM: Let's take a -- let's listen to what Attorney General Eric Holder said. He made a speech, raised a lot of eyebrows with these comments and this is also being inserted into this discussion of this. Let's listen for a moment.


ERIC HOLDER, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.


PILGRIM: I guess there are really two questions about this. Should the attorney general of the United States be making statements like this in a speech? And secondly, this is the administration where you should probably not be raising all these issues because people of color are so represented in this administration.

FORD: Well, that's interesting. You know, I think -- I don't agree that we're a nation of cowards about race. And I think that we've made enormous racial progress. As you suggest, the election of President Obama and the reputations of African-Americans and people of color in the cabinet attests to that. I do think we need a better conversation about race, and so I agree with the attorney general when he said we need to talk more and be more honest and more forthright about race. But the problem and the reason we don't have that conversation isn't cowardice, it's because, in fact, too often people are quick to take offense and when someone is offended by a racial comment that they don't agree with, the consequences can be severe.

You know, on the job, people are hauled before human resources and disciplined or sanctioned when someone's offended by their racial comments, so we now have an atmosphere in this society in which it's not at all surprising people feel they have to walk on eggshells surrounding these issues.

PILGRIM: Actually -- sorry to interrupt. I would like to quote a conservative blogger because she sort of advances this argument, it's Michelle Malkin and she writes, "Holder doesn't want an honest dialogue about race. In the age of Obama talking enough with each other about race means the rest of us shutting up while being subjected to lectures about our insensitivity and insufficient integration on the weekends."

You can also polarize this whole argument, too. It's really reaching -- it's really touching a nerve here, isn't it?

FORD: It is. And you know, I mean, it's too bad that it's immediately been polarized. When I listened to the entire speech, I heard the attorney general also saying that people need to be more tolerant, that we need to have an honest conversation and not jump the gun and, you know, accuse people of bigotry when they make a comment that we don't agree with and that I applaud and that I think is absolutely right. But, there is the worry that people are going to hear these comments as the blogger that you pointed out says, it means, you know, you have to shut up unless you tow a party line or a P.C. line and unfortunately, that's been the way race conversations have -- have gone in the United States for too long.

PILGRIM: Well, thank you so much for helping us to advance this very important topic. Richard Thompson Ford, thank you, sir.

FORD: Thank you.

PILGRIM: Coming up, an increasing threat in this country from Mexico's brutal drug cartels.

And only one of Detroit's big three is making it on its own. We'll have that story next.


PILGRIM: More sobering news tonight on unemployment figures in this country. The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits has soared to an all-time high. The U.S. Labor Department says nearly five million people are currently receiving unemployment checks. The number of new applications for unemployment benefits totaled 627,000 last week.

Car makers have announced tens of thousands of job cuts this year as part of their restructuring efforts. GM and Chrysler have asked for and received billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts. Ford Motor Company is the only member of the Big Three that has not asked for a federal bailout. And now, its CEO is trumpeting Ford's independence and putting distance between his company and Chrysler and GM. Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It hasn't been a good start to the year for Chrysler or General Motors. Sales plummeting, rounds of layoffs and the companies are burning through the cash lent to them by the federal government.

PROF PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: With the company in the depressed state it is, that even with all the right moves, they're going to continue to lose money for the next couple of years.

SYLVESTER: Chrysler and GM presented restructuring plans to the White House. The two are seeking an additional $21 billion in loans from the federal bailout. That's on top of the $17.5 billion they received late last year.

RICK WAGONER, GM CHAIRMAN & CEO: Our focus, our primary efforts continue to be on transforming our business and executing GM's viability plan outside of bankruptcy court.

SYLVESTER: Contrast that with the Ford Motor Company. Ford has not received a dime in federal assistance to stay afloat. Ford's CEO, Alan Mulally, came to the company 2-1/2 years ago from Boeing. At Boeing he saw the airline industry beaten up, post 9/11, and put the aerospace giant back on firm footing.

When Mulally got to Ford, he focused on restructuring, there, selling off luxury brands Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover. He also secured a $23 billion line of credit from private banks before the credit freeze. And now Ford is trying to distance itself from the other two automakers.

MARK TRUBY, FORD DIRECTOR OF COMM: We've made huge strides in the quality and fuel efficiency of our vehicles, and we want -- we want customers to understand that there's -- the Big Three is not a monolithic term. We're Ford Motor Company, we have our own story, we're tackling this difficult economy in our own way.

SYLVESTER: But, Ford, like the other two automakers, shares the same problem, how to boost sales during recessionary times.


Ford has a $9 billion line of credit extended by the federal government, but the company says it has no plans to tap into it. Ford instead is focusing on a message of quality and efficiency and is rolling out its new hybrid, the Ford Fusion -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Well tonight, gut check. We are commending Bill Ford, executive and chairman of Ford Motor, under his leadership, Ford Motor positioned itself to survive this economic downturn without a government bailout and the company moved aggressively to sell weak brands when there were still buyers. As Lisa just reported, it raised $23 billion in new capital three years ago, long before the credit markets froze and as a result, Ford is in a much stronger financial position than its rivals, General Motor and Chrysler, is much better prepared to take advantage of the economic recovery when it comes, so Bill Ford has achieved all of this without accepting a dime of taxpayer money.

A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. Do you find it "funny," as one congressman's office suggested, that lawmakers are using taxpayer dollars for their overseas junkets? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results in a few minutes.

Coming up, a Texas billionaire, already charged in a massive fraud scheme may be connected to violent Mexican drug cartels.

Also, a mayor on the front lines of the drug war raging on our southern border, next.


PILGRIM: The Texas billionaire charged in a massive fraud scheme is also reportedly under investigation for laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. Allen Stanford is charged with masterminding a multibillion dollar fraud scheme. But the FBI and other agencies are also investigating Stanford's connection to the violent gulf cartel. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not only is Allen Stanford he facing civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission that he organized a $9 billion banking scam, ABC News reports the FBI has been investigating whether Stanford laundered money for Mexico's gulf drug cartel. Though, the Drug Enforcement Administration says it's not aware of any investigation. Investors from Houston to Antigua to Venezuela are furious after regulators seized banks owned by Stanford or froze their assets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I find this disgusting.

WIAN: Stanford is accused of offering improbably high rates of return on certificates of deposit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Initially we put our money in this institution and in a CD because we were nervous about the markets and thought it was a safe place. It's -- I'm so just upset right now I can't even talk about it.

WIAN: On the crib bean island of Antigua, where he has been knighted and has citizenship, depositors swarmed outside Stanford affiliated banks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We here so many hour and the line not move (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody's scared. Many people (INAUDIBLE) about what is going on and what we have to do.

WIAN: Venezuelan authorities seized a bank controlled by Stanford after a run on deposits.

ALI RODRIGUEZ, VENEZUELAN FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): Most of the clients of Stanford Bank Venezuela handle their accounts through the Internet and this has made it easier for them to make massive withdrawals, putting the bank in a very delicate and precarious situation.

WIAN: In September, Stanford was on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, reportedly worth more than $2 billion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fun being a billionaire?

ALLEN STANFORD, TEXAS BILLIONAIRE: Well, yes. Yes. Yes. I have to say it is fun being a billionaire, but it's hard work. But it's hard work.

WIAN: Now his assets have been frozen by a U.S. judge.


Stanford was not taken into custody when he was served with papers in Virginia this afternoon. As of now, the only charges he faces are civil, not criminal - Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right, thanks very much, Casey Wian.

Well, joining me now with more on the threat of Mexico's drug cartels pose to this country is El Paso mayor, John Cook, and his city is on the front lines of the border drug wars. We have CNN military analyst, General David Grange who joins us, and Professor George Grayson from the College of William and Mary.

Gentlemen, with this range of expertise we will make some progress on this.

Let me start with you, General Grange. Earlier this month, secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano was talking about the prospect of a fence or wall on the U.S./Mexican border. Let's listen to what she had to say first, for just a moment.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECY: At some places fence or wall. But, I would -- would not advise the Congress that to simply build a fence or wall or whatever you want to call it, between the U.S. and Mexico is going to stop illegal immigration or drug trafficking...


PILGRIM: You know, General Grange, I come to you first because, really, it's clear that a new sort of strategy is needed. Should the Department of Homeland Security -- what should they do to deal with border violence? Should we have some sort of surge approach to this?

BRIG GEN DAVID GRANGE (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I believe it's a national security issue. If you look at the national military security -- military security for the United States, the protection of the homeland is the No. 1 priority. And I believe this -- conditions exist where law enforcement agencies, National Guard, even the citizenry of the United States should not have to put up with this security challenge.

This is a -- we're not providing a safe and secure environment for our people. And so a fence, a wall would be part of it, but it has to be in depth, it has to be efforts in depth to handle the threat. PILGRIM: Certainly does.

Mayor Cook, I would like to turn to you. El Paso, how safe is it really? And I understand that your city council recently voted on a resolution to debate the merits of legalizing drugs. You vetoed that. Tell us what it's like in El Paso.

MAYOR JOHN COOK, EL PASO, TX: Well, you know, the issue of the veto and the debate about whether or not we should lift the prohibition against narcotics I think distorts the fact of the border wall. You have to remember the suggestion of the wall came up before all the violence did and it was actually supposed to stem illegal immigration, that's how the whole conversation began in the first place.

PILGRIM: But, how do you feel about the drug trafficking? Certainly this is a very serious issue for this country?

COOK: Well, you know, drug trafficking, you have to look at the two sides of the equation. One is supply and the other is demand. The United States is definitely on the demand side, Mexico is on the supply side. I think what you see with all the violence happening right now is a direct impact from President Calderon finally putting his foot down on the drug dealers and on the cartels that control the passageways and the trade routes.

And for our council to suggest that we do exactly what the drug cartels would like us to do, which is step away from the argument and make it a legal trade, I think is a step backwards for us.

PILGRIM: Mayor Cook, do you think more should be done on our side of the border?

COOK: Well, we definitely need to look at issues like gun smuggling which goes into Mexico right now, money laundering, which happens in the United States, and the money is sent back into Mexico. We definitely have to clamp down on those.

The place to hurt the drug dealers is two places: No. 1, interrupt their supply and No. 2, interrupt the cash that's coming back to them. And until we adopt that approach, then we're never going to win this war.

PILGRIM: Professor Grayson, you've spent so many years on this topic. Tell us what you think about the criminal gangs in the Mexican Gulf cartel that we're seeing this enormous surge of violence that we're seeing, potentially because of the crackdown, but still very hard to take when you're near this.

PROF GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: Kitty, there are more gangs, they're more dangerous, they're involved in more activities and they're now going after military officers, retired and on active duty, to show that they can act with impunity.

And so, I think it's important to have a wall at the border, recognizing that's not a panacea, but it is at least one step that we can take to try to slow the influx of both illegal aliens and also the flow of narcotics.

PILGRIM: You know, I really would like to bring up a comment that the outgoing CIA director, Michael Hayden, said recently. And there was a report put out that for U.S. Security, only second to al Qaeda, Mexico poses a huge threat and I'd like to actually read from this report.

Mexico is one of two countries, Pakistan is the second, that bear consideration for rapid and sudden collapse and the report says, "in terms of worse case scenarios for the joint force and indeed for the world, two large and important states bear consideration for rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico -- and any dissent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on serious implications for homeland security alone."

Now, General Grange, this report is absolutely chilling. What should be the U.S. response to this?

GRANGE: Well, I think this really wakes us all up. I mean, the constitution of the United States talks about "we, the people," providing for a common defense. I mean, that's a mission, that's something that all people of the United States ought to think about and care about.

You know, what is need here, if the president of Mexico is going to do what he's doing to try to stem it on his side, we got to do it in concert with him, everything we can, using private and public sector, using a whole nation approach bringing everything we can to bear to stop this . and I'm not talking about just guns and kinetic means (ph), I'm talking about even soft power, Information operations.

You know, it's pretty tough to tell Pakistan not to let people infiltrate into Afghanistan or be on the North Korean/South Korean border where tunnels come under the country, to, wow, look at this, this is something. What about our own border? Why do we allow that in the United States of America, which is our primary defense requirements? It amazes me and I think we ought to do something about it.

PILGRIM: Mayor Cook, when you read something like that, about a collapse, a catastrophic collapse, what does that mean for El Paso? Does that not worry you?

COOK: Well, first of all, I don't think we're bordering on catastrophic collapse. Barry McCaffrey, I think, would disagree with that. But, what he does suggest is that we have bilateral negotiations with the country of Mexico and work with them as equal partners and at the same time respect their sovereignty.

And I think we probably need to put more money than is put in that we put into Mexico, right now. Their army and police force are not equipped the same way that the drug dealers are, so I think supplying them equipment, training of their police force, those are some things that we can definitely help with. But, we have to, at the same time, respect their sovereignty and they have to ask us to do these things, we can't force them. PILGRIM: Gentlemen, we have to hold it there. A very important topic, we've barely touched on it. George Grayson, Mayor John Cook and General David Grange, thank you.

Coming up at the top of the hour, CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL.

Campbell, what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL: Hey there, Kitty. The latest sign tonight that there is no quick fix for the struggling economy, just a few hours ago the Dow industrials closed at the lowest mark in six years, this, in the same week that President Obama signed the economic stimulus and unveiled his plans for stop home foreclosures.

Tonight, we're unleashing our team of top money experts to answer your questions about the economy, about how you can stay afloat during these very tough times.

Also ahead, breaking news in the case of a missing mogul accused of bilking investigators out of billions. He has just been found, we're told. We're going to have new details on the case against him.

Plus, inside President Obama's first visit outside of the U.S. What you didn't know about his day trip to Canada. All at the top of the hour -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: We look forward to it, Campbell. Thank you.

Well, still ahead, tonight's poll results, some of your thoughts. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Tonight's poll results, 76 percent of you do not find it at all funny, as one congressman's office has suggested, that lawmakers are using taxpayer dollars for their overseas junkets.

We do have time for some of your thoughts, so, Bruce from New Jersey wrote to us: "Thank you very much for standing up for the 2nd Amendment. Please keep this assault on our rights on the main burner."

And Paula in Missouri wrote to us: "I think it was in very poor taste for a government official to say we are a 'nation of cowards.'"

And T.J. in Texas: "I'm confused. If we are a country of cowards where race is concerned, the perhaps, could you explain to me why we have a black attorney General and a black president?"

And Nick in Texas wrote: "The statement that we are a 'nation of cowards' is unfair. I am a minority and the issue of racism has and is being addressed. Things are better now then 10 or 0 years ago and will continue to get better." Jason in Georgia wrote, "Lou, not only was your treatment of the 2nd Amendment issues insightful, but it also had a level of rationality that our government so desperately needs to understand."

Send us your thoughts, go to And please join Lou on the radio, Monday through Friday for the LOU DOBBS SHOW. Go to to find the local listings for the LOU DOBBS SHOW on the radio.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow and for all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL starts right now -- Campbell.