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Hackers Hit Government Website; Pres. Obama Names Women to New Team; Women in Combat; More Syrian Refugees Pack Jordan; Luxury Stuff in Smartphone Apps

Aired January 26, 2013 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

First I'm going to do is let's get caught up on the headlines of the day.

First to Egypt where rioting has erupted over a court decision sentencing 21 people to death.

At least 30 people were killed in clashes with security forces today. This all happened after the court sentenced 21 people for their role in a post game soccer riot last year. More than 70 people were killed in that right.

Thousands of people marched in Washington today demanding tough new gun control laws. It is the first major anti-gun demonstration since the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings. And it comes just days after a bill was introduced in Congress that would ban assault rifles, semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong said he is ready to cooperate with an international agency tasked with cleaning up doping in sport -- in the sport. The announcement -- this announcement as the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency sat down with CBS to respond to Armstrong's Oprah confession.


TRAVIS TYGART, CEO, UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: It's amazing. This guy, you could go to any kindergarten in this country or frankly around the world, and find kids playing tag or four-square and ask them what cheating is. And every one of them will tell you it's breaking the rules of the game.

No real athlete has to look up the definition of cheating. And it's offensive to clean athletes who are out there working hard to play by the rules.


LEMON: The USADA also wants some answers, giving Armstrong until February 6th to talk to them, but his lawyer say his busy schedule means that won't happen. Long-time Iowa Democratic Tom Harkin says he will not run for re- election in 2014. Harkin served 10 years in the House before his election to the Senate in 1984. He is 73 years old.

President Barack Obama released a statement praising Harkin's work on health care and his efforts to help Americans with disabilities.

Hundreds gathered in St. Louis today for the funeral of baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Musial, known as Stan the Man, spent 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Among those attending, Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith, as well as Commissioner Bud Selig.

Also, the service -- after the service, family and fans drove to Bush stadium and placed a wreath at the base of Statue of Musial.

Sam Musial was 92 years old.

It is a top story this hour here on CNN. Hackers, Internet vandals, they took over a U.S. Web site for a short time today. It was a group that calls themselves Anonymous. And they replaced a Justice Department page with text and videos and even threats. The FBI is taking this Internet security breach very seriously.

CNN's Emily Schmidt has details from Washington.


EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, this move came from hackers who call themselves Anonymous. But it has prompted the U.S. government to react. We have a status update from the United States sentencing commission and it says this, "Early this morning, the commission's Web site was hacked and defaced. The site was pulled down and it's currently being restored. The commission is working to have the site fully functional, secure, and accessible as soon as possible."

Hours of disruption after this. What the Web site looked like earlier in the day, as Anonymous said it was declaring war on the U.S. government by targeting this Web site. It contained a long warning threatening to release sensitive information about the Department of Justice in what it calls warheads, these are named after Supreme Court justices.

You may never have spent time browsing, but Anonymous said that there's a reason that they select method Web site, targeting the very agency it believes has unfairly targeted hackers.

Now, earlier today, the FBI said they were aware of the cyber attack as soon as it happened and it's handling this as a criminal investigation -- Don.

LEMON: Emily, thank you very much.

Anonymous, a hacker group has inserted itself into national news stories. They took a sort of vigilante justice role in the football team rape case that hit a small down in Ohio this month, posting a video of one of the suspects and encouraging large scale protests. They were also very heavily in the national Occupy movement.

President Obama makes a joint TV appearance tomorrow in "60 Minutes" with his outgoing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Here's a preview as the president heaps praise on his one-time political rival.


STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: Why did you want to do this together? A joint interview?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the main thing is, I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you, because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we've had. It has been a great collaboration over the last four years.

I'm going to miss her. Wish she was sticking around. But she has logged in so many miles, I can't begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit.


LEMON: President Obama named four women to senior level White House positions yesterday as he kick-starts his second term.

Our Jessica Yellin takes a closer look at the president's track record on women's issues.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The same day he named Denis McDonough as his chief of staff --

OBAMA: When he helped set up my Senate office. Along with Pete Rouse, he was able to show me where the restrooms were and --

YELLIN: -- President Obama also named four women to senior White House posts, including prosecutor Lisa Monaco to be White House homeland security adviser, no doubt a down payment on this assurance.

OBAMA: But I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they have seen all of my appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet before they rush to judgment.

YELLIN: Even if women fill all of the administration's remaining posts, there is the question of priorities. In his inaugural address, the president promised to expand opportunities for gays and lesbians, immigrants, and women.

OBAMA: For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

YELLIN: On gay rights, the president backs marriage equality and partner benefits. And on day five of his second term, he already spoke to a gay rights groups.

OBAMA: And all must enjoy the same rights and same protections.

YELLIN: He also met with immigration advocates urging quick action. When it comes to women -- nothing specific.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have a preview for you for future actions. But, again, his record is strong on this.

YELLIN (on camera): Women were 58 percent of the electorate that brought him into office, and you don't have a single policy agenda item that you can point out to that he promises to act on.

CARNEY: The president's commitment to women, to women's equality is incredibly strong.

YELLIN (voice-over): There are bills the president could press Congress to pass now. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make it easier to fight salary discrimination without losing one's job. A second bill would require paid sick days and family medical leave which would benefit working women.

If Congress doesn't act, the president could use executive action and require government contractors to implement these changes.

The president's supporters in the women's movement are optimistic.

ELEANOR SMEAL, PRESIDENT, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION: I think the words the president said in the inaugural were not empty words. We intend to fight for it. There's no reason for this to be held up.

YELLIN (on camera): The president has previously supported the Paycheck Fairness Act. And the administration points Obamacare helps women by making healthcare more affordable. No doubt, women's issues will be on the agenda. The question is, where will it fall on the list of priorities?

Jessica Yellin, CNN, the White House.


LEMON: All right, Jess.

Women will soon be on the frontline of war. And for many of the women, the lifting of the ban that kept them from serving in combat positions is a good thing. But others disagree with the decision. We're going to talk with two people who know the military well and opposite sides of the issue.

And a fast train to nowhere. Why the state of Vermont is spending tens of millions of dollars on a not so high speed rail.


LEMON: One of the final battle lines for equal rights in the military has just been eliminated. This week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued the order lifting a ban on women in combat units.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Therefore today, General Dempsey and I, are pleased to announce that we are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women. And we are moving forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender based barriers to service.


LEMON: So, eliminating this ban is going to take time. The military now begins what officials call, quote, "the assessment phase." Each brand will examine all its jobs and units not accepting women and men produce a time line for integration. Every three months, service leaders will have to check in on progress, and if it's found women are not suited for the unit, and exemption may be sought.

But for one combat unit in the Air Force, women are already part of the team. They've been side by side with men, fighting on the ground for more than a decade.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mission for today, you are going to the village of Sana --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've intel that there's possibly three to five fighters out in the village. You are going to be going out with OSI to do a source meet in the village with Ahmed at the car garage, be aware that they are possibly armed with RPGs and small arms.


LEMON (voice-over): This is Tech Sergeant Andrea Jefferson's worst nightmare, patrolling a remote area of Afghanistan, taking on enemy fire and a comrade goes down.

JEFFERSON: He's bleeding right here. I want you to hold pressure on his wound.

LEMON: As an Air Force medic, Jefferson has been training for this moment for months.

JEFFERSON: Let's get him on the vehicle. Get him out of here.

LEMON: Within minutes the injured airman is bandaged up and moved out of harm's way.

JEFFERSON: Here we go.

LEMON: This isn't Afghanistan, but it soon will be for Jefferson's squadron. They are at Moody Air Force Base in South Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alpha, move! LEMON: But in a matter of weeks, they'll be on the front lines of battle in Afghanistan and they're ready.

JEFFERSON: I really felt like the warrior medic that, you know, I've seen in the movies.

LEMON: When her squadron is called out, Jefferson and the other women in the group will fight alongside the men.

STAFF SERGEANT NICOLE MOELLER, U.S. AIR FORCE INTEL ANALYST: The females, you know, we do everything the men do, sometimes even better.

LEMON: They are members of the 820th Base Defense Group.

From air assault to ground combat, the group does it all and that includes the women.

They're medics, intelligence office officers, police officers. Their current mission --

STAFF SERGEANT CECILY AMONETT, U.S. AIR FORCE TEAM LEADER: To be a first-in, combat-ready group.

MOELLER: Unlike the rest of the Air Force, we get to go outside the wire.

COLONEL PAUL KASUDA, 820TH BASE DEFENSE GROUP COMMANDER: And we have approximately 730 individuals assigned to our team, 99 of which are women.

Each and every one of our mission sets across the group are open to every individual that we have assigned here, regardless of gender, regardless of race.

LEMON: Until this week, this opportunity was allowed only for the Air Force.

But with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifting the ban that kept women from serving in frontline combat positions, all military women will be there, fighting side by side with men.

KASUDA: We have four different Air Force Combat Action Medal recipients, three Purple Heart recipients as well as four different of our ladies have been entered into the Wounded Warrior Program.

Across the board, they all perform superbly.

JEFFERSON: It's amazing what you can do when the adrenalin is pumping. You know, you turn into superwoman.


LEMON: Perfect people to talk about this, two great guests to bring in right now. Mikey Kay, he's a retired Royal Air Force pilot and contributor to "The Huffington Post" or "HuffPost", we call it. And, Elaine Donnelly, she is the president for the Center for Military Readiness and one time member of the presidential commission on the assignment of women in the armed forces.

Thank you both for joining us. I'm so glad that we're here to talk about this.


LEMON: Elaine, I will go to you first. You were on the administration with Bush in 1992. Was this issue on the radar back then?

DONNELLY: That's right.

LEMON: Opening up frontline combat jobs to women?

DONNELLY: Oh, yes, and we certainly recommended against that.

A lot of things have changed. And we are proud of the women who have served. They work in many cases with women and children in those areas in the war that's going on right now. And they do things that men cannot do. Intelligence, this is important work, it's very dangerous work.

But, what we are talking about now is different. The tip of the spear, infantry, battalion, these are the ones that attack the enemy. These are all male for a good reason. We don't have women in this units and it's not a good idea to put them there.

Now, everyone is insisting and assuming the standards will be the same. They will be equal but they won't be the same, because General Dempsey said, well, if the standard is too high and the women can't meet it, then we'll ask, should it be so high? And that's when the pressure to lower the standards will continue.

He also asked for a critical mass of women. That will further lower the standards so that we can have more women in that unit.

And then we have a diversity commission that says, we are supposed to have diversity metrics. That's another name for quotas, and promotions for men will be contingent on meeting those diversity quotas.

LEMON: So, Jess --

DONNELLY: So, there's more to this story than what you've heard so far.

LEMON: So the audience is confused again, I know we are hearing, you are adamantly against this policy change. You don't see this as equality towards women in the armed forces?

DONNELLY: It's about the military and their ability to be in combat and win wars, missions will be compromised if standards are gradually lowered. We have an infantry officer course at Quantico, Virginia, for the Marines. It's very tough. We have two women volunteers and we are very proud of them, too. They tried their hardest but they did not succeed on the infantry officer course.

So, according to what General Dempsey said, are we going to start questioning that course, ranger training, other kinds of infantry, special operations forces, artillery and armor? Are we going to say, if it's too high, the standard is too high for women? They said they're going to question it and the pressure will be to lower the standard, that puts everyone at risk.


DONNELLY: Now, the military is not there just for equal opportunity, it's there to defend the country and to carry out the missions that are asked of them.

LEMON: OK. And one should not assume that every woman would be for this new policy and of course, that most men would be against it or some men would be against it. Because, Mikey, you are all for this. Tell me about your experience in the military serving along side women and why you are for it?

MIKEY KAY, RETIRED RAF PILOT: Don, I am. I think this is a very sensible, well thought out pragmatic decision that's been taken by the Pentagon. I also think that it perhaps a little overdue. I served for 20 years as an assault helicopter pilot. I served closely and directly along side the U.S. forces in Macedonia, Kosovo, Iraq, three times, and Afghanistan, three times.

I worked closely with women. I commanded women in key roles and some very key operations, successful operations. And all the evidence to me suggests and leads me to believe quite comfortably that the decision that the Pentagon made is a very good one.

And I just like to sort of pick up on Elaine's point about the role of the infantry. She is right in saying that aspects of the infantry is indeed to hunt and kill the enemy. But I would also say that 21st century warfare has changed.

Twenty-first century warfare in recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has been about counterinsurgency. It's about winning hearts and minds. And a big role of the infantry now is about liaising with the locals. And as we all know, the locals just don't comprise of men. They comprise of women. They comprise of little girls.

And I think the dynamic that a woman brings to a unit that is out in these roles, liaising with the local population is absolutely key and vital.


DONNELLY: That's what the women are doing right now. That is what they are doing and we are proud of them.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Elaine, I want to know, how you answer --

DONNELLY: I want to agree with that.

LEMON: I want to know how you answer women who feel able to fight along their male counter parts and I want it after the break.



LEMON: OK, we are back now with our guests discussing one of the most monumental changes in the U.S. military policy in recent history, the opening of the frontline -- the frontline combat, direct combat specialties to American women in uniform.

I'm talking with Mikey Kay, a retired British helicopter pilot, and Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, and a staunch opponent of this repeal.

Elaine, you have a problem with this combat exemption was removed. You believe that Congress should be involved in this.

DONNELLY: That's right.

LEMON: Do you believe the outcome would have been different if Congress was involved? Before you answer that question, why do you have a problem with this? The question that I asked you before the break, what about women who say that they are perfectly qualified to serve along side men on the frontlines?

DONNELLY: Well, 30 years of studies and reports that have been done indicate that when physical capabilities matter, and they do, in the direct ground combat units that we are talking about now, women do not have an equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers to survive. And I hasten to add, they are serving in harm's way as the film you showed before this segment. They really do dangerous work, and they do liaise with women and children, that they do intelligence work. We are proud of that.

But when you talk about the infantry, these are the guys that attack the enemy. If you start changing the standards, and we know they will change, they'll be equal but different and lower in order to meet diversity metrics. When you do that, you complicate matters, you endanger people.

I want to say something about the British experience. There was a test done in 1997-'98 with women being treated exactly the same, gender-free training. It ended at 18 months because the injury rates for women skyrocketed. So they ended it. They went back to separate gender training and everything improved.

So, why are we doing this in this country?

KAY: Can I just jump in there?

LEMON: Yes, go ahead, Mikey.


DONNELLY: There were two decisions made not to put women in combat in 2002 and 2008.

LEMON: Go ahead, Mikey.

DONNELLY: By the ministry of defense.

KAY: 1997 was 16 years ago and since then we have had --

DONNELLY: 2002 and 2008.

KAY: Well, we still had Iraq and Afghanistan, I think when it comes to endurance, there was a 73-year-old Japanese woman that made it to the top of Everest last year. That was the second time in climbing it. I think women professional athletes are operating at levels which most men would dream of. Women are sailing around the world solo.

I think when it comes to stomaching what a lot of infantry soldiers have to see, women in the combat medic role, which by the way they've been serving in many, many years, having to pick soldiers that have lost up to four limbs at time daily, in the back of medevac helicopters coming from the battlefield.

So everything that we have seen -- this is not something new, women have been operating as helicopter pilots and combat medics, they are about to embark on American attack submarines in 2013. We are talking about the infantry and armor roles and it's about time --


LEMON: But, Mikey, let's be honest about this. And no one is being sexist. As a man who grew up in a family of all women and a single mother for a long time, and listen, no one is a greater fighter for women than me. But women for the most part are not physically as strong as men.

And when you are on the battlefield, you want somebody as strong as you -- or stronger next to you to help you out of the fox hole. That is just simple physics, simple reality, Mikey.

KAY: No, I agree. But we're not -- what I'm not doing here is advocating that there should be a 50/50 split of women and men in infantry platoons. And let's also be realistic about this. This is a slow transition. I --

DONNELLY: Michael, transition to what?

KAY: This is going to be a transition to having women in armor roles.

DONNELLY: Michael, transition to what? Why?

LEMON: I'll let you in but let him finish. KAY: Women have to have the opportunity, this is about opportunity, and I don't think the standards will be dropped that would compromise the fighting effectiveness of forces in Afghanistan. I think it's about giving women the opportunity. And if they make it through the training and if they make it through the selection -- let's face it, there's not many women that want to do the job, and those women that do, will become less as they go through training. I think it's about the opportunity.


LEMON: Go ahead, Elaine.

DONNELLY: You mentioned the Olympics, wonderful Olympics in London, I did not see the female athletes, as wonderful as they are, competing against the men.

When we watch the Super Bowl, we are not going to see diversity being imposed on Super Bowl teams because they want to win. And yet our Pentagon has called for diversity metrics and what -- what the General Dempsey called a significant number or cohort of women to make it work. And if a woman can't make it, well, then, we will question the standards.

So, this is indeed a gradual process. But it's not being done for the right reasons.

KAY: I don't think -- I don't think --

DONNELLY: We have a military that defends the country. And we appreciate the British forces but the United States --


LEMON: Only the strongest and most --


DONNELLY: Excuse me --

LEMON: Only the strongest and most exceptional women will be allowed in combat, maybe the women who are physically as strong as women.

DONNELLY: That is the belief, but I'm telling you how this will work. If field commanders do not advance diversity metrics, they will be denied promotion. Now, that's in the report that was endorsed by the Pentagon, February 9th of last year. That's the way it's going to work, because all the pressure is on.

Now, with everybody saying we're going to make it so women can succeed if the standard is too high, General Dempsey said, then we'll question the standard, and then we will go for this critical mass --

KAY: Elaine --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: We have to wrap it up.

DONNELLY: That's how it works. Believe me, I have watched it for decades. This is the politics of the Pentagon and it's going too far now.

KAY: Forgive me, my last piece on this word is, I don't think anyone is talking about compromising the standards that would affect the fighting ability of any infantry unit. I think what they are talking about is testing and adjusting. And I think Don correctly said --

DONNELLY: Adjusting tests.

KAY: -- if women pass the required levels that allow them to join an infantry unit, they should be given the opportunity.

LEMON: OK. That's going to be the last word.

Mikey Kay, Elaine Donnelly, great conversation.

KAY: Thank you.

LEMON: I will invite you both back and we will continue it. You should see my social media, it's going crazy. People are enjoying it and some of them are not enjoying. Both of you and my comments as well. Thank you.

KAY: Thanks, Don. Thanks, Elaine.

DONNELLY: Thank you.

LEMON: Jail break caught on camera.

Rebel forces attack a prison in Syria to free their own. The dramatic escape, next.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. Just a little bit half past the hour now here on CNN.

Syrian activists say almost 100 people have been killed across the country today as the civil war violence threatens more cities and communities, more than 65,000 Syrian refuges packed a (INAUDIBLE) refugee camp in Jordan. Thirty thousand arrived this month alone. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees announced it is working around the clock with the government of Jordan to prepare a second camp for refugees flooding into the country. It is expected to be completed in the next week and will be able to accommodate up to 30,000 in the coming months.

Also happening in Syria, in a province in (INAUDIBLE) province. we are learning more about a daring attack by rebel forces to free these prisoners you see here, locked up by Bashar Al Assad's regime. Because of the difficulties in reporting from inside Syria, our Tim Lister has pieced together this story with footage uploaded to social media sites. Watch this.


TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, they punch a hole in the prison's outer wall. Dozens of rebel fighters pour through.

God is greater they shout.

Taking up positions behind a second wall. Heavy gunfire follows. there are casualties and one opposition source said that 10 fighters were killed. (INAUDIBLE) central prison is like a fortress. Human rights groups say detainees have been tortured here. Twice a regime plane rolls overhead, there are anxious glances, futile shots into the sky.

But the rebels are much better armed than they used to be. Al Assad described us as rats, says one of the fighters "but we are the lions. He and his gang are the rats. We are inside their strongholds."

Eventually they penetrate the prison's defenses, inmates wave in desperation as gunfire echoes through the compound. The rebels wrench the bars from cell windows. A few minutes later, a couple dozen prisoners are free and then the job of getting them to safety. All together, activists say that more than 300 inmates have been freed from the prison, criminals and political prisoners they say.

Three rebel brigades were involved in the attacked but according to activists, the regime still control parts of the prison by nightfall Friday. It's the last major government controlled site west of the city of Idlib, an area where the rebels are remorsely gaining ground.

Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: All right, Tim.

It is supposed to be a higher speed option from point a to point b, but these deserted snowy train tracks in Vermont aren't moving passengers anywhere at all. So why is the state still spending millions of taxpayer dollars on the project? We'll look at that, next.


LEMON: Your taxpayer dollars may be whizzing by on a Vermont train that hardly anybody uses. CNN's Drew Griffin takes a closer look at the new rail line and tries to figure out why so many train seats are empty.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a $50 million federal grant, tax dollars bringing high speed rail to Vermont, sleek, fast trains, taking D.C.ers and New Yorkers up to the tranquil countryside and quaint towns of the green mountain state. Now all the work is done. Listen and watch as those trains and your tax dollars whizz by.

(on camera): It's not that Vermont has done anything wrong with the money, in fact, they did a pretty good job. They came in on time, on budget. They even got the local freight company to kick in another $18 million to improve the rails here.

But the real problem is hardly anybody is riding the rails in Vermont. I could stand here almost all day long, not ever worry about getting hit by a train.

(voice-over): You can jog on the tracks, go to lunch without looking.

(on camera): Ever worry about getting hit by a train?


GRIFFIN (on camera): It's now 3:00, still no train. 4:00.

(voice-over): The sun would set before we would see our first train.

(on camera): 8:44 and here it is. The first train that we have seen all day. And at the busiest station in all of Vermont, 11 people got off, and no one got on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm coming here to visit friends and go snowboarding.

GRIFFIN: How many did you have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On board today?





GRIFFIN (voice-over): On average the train from one end of Vermont to the other carries less than 250 people a day.

The next morning, the same train traveling south saw 13 people get on board, including Andrew Menke who is making the trip to New York.

(on camera): How long will it take you?


GRIFFIN: That is kind of a long time.

MENKE: It's probably five and a half to drive and seven on the bus and nine on the train.

GRIFFIN: So the train is not your fastest route.

MENKE: Not at all. No. But you have the most room, so I think it's the most comfortable.

GRIFFIN: Yes. You wish it was much more high speed.

MENKE: I wish it was faster, yes, definitely. High speed rail.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That's the other part of the story, the high speed part. So what do you get for your $52 million share of the $70 million project? Just 28 minutes. That is right, the new train is less than half an hour faster than the old train.

In some areas the train gets up to 79 miles an hour, but that is top speed and just for a portion of the trip.

(on camera): It's not necessarily high speed rail in the traditional sense that we are talking about.


GRIFFIN: It's a little higher speed.

Yes, we define it up here as higher speed rail.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Trini Brassard is an assistant director with Vermont's Department of Transportation.

(on camera): So the intent was never to get these Japanese style, European style bullet trains whizzing through Vermont?

BRASSARD: No. Our train stops are too close together first off to get up to the speeds and then to decelerate by the time we get to the next station.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): So if Vermont will never have high speed rail, why did it get federal high speed money? Randall O'Toole studies urban transportation for the libertarian leaning Cato Institute.

RANDALL O'TOOLE, SENIOR FELLOW, CATO INSTITUTE: Well, the federal government had one criteria when it was passing out high speed rail funds and that was, had states done an environmental impact statement so that the projects would be shovel ready.

GRIFFIN: Vermont had a shovel ready rail project and the White House was ready to shovel out money.

O'TOOLE: It didn't matter whether the project was worthwhile, all that mattered was whether they were shovel ready.

GRIFFIN: As for the low ridership, actually, ridership in Vermont is up. Trini Brassard suggested we just hit a bad day. And if we waited until the late train Friday night, on Martin Luther King holiday weekend, we would see a big crowd getting off at the station.

BRASSARD: We had 28 reservations coming into the (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow night.


BRASSARD: Correct.

GRIFFIN: All those people could fit on one bus. Right?

BRASSARD: It could, but it's not their choice, their choice is rail.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And guess what else is coming to Vermont? Even more money from U.S. taxpayers for high speed rail. That in reality is making slow speed rail just a little faster.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Essex Junction, Vermont.


LEMON: Well the movie "Jobs" comes out in April, but we got the first clip of Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. We will play the clip for you and you can decide for yourself if he pulls portraying the Apple Computer genius.


LEMON: Well, comedian Dino Obeidallah usually joins me to talk entertainment news but he was in Dubai. He's in Dubai right now, called away on some sort of comedy emergency or something, some breaking comedy news that he to fix. It's 81 degrees there so there he is.

So before he left we talked about the very first glimpse from the movie named "Jobs." It is Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder. First though, take a look at Jobs in 1984, talking about the Macintosh computer.


STEVE JOBS, APPLE CO-FOUNDER: People are going to bring them home over the weekend to work on something. Sunday morning, they're not going to get their kids away from them, and maybe someday they'll even buy a second one to leave at home.


LEMON: OK. Now, here is Ashton Kutcher in the new movie, "Jobs."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is freedom, this is freedom to create, and to do, and to build and as artists, as individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, you are over reacting. Even if you were developing this for freaks like us, and I doubt you are. Nobody wants to buy a computer. Nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does somebody know what they want if they've never even seen it.


LEMON: So what do you think? Was I right? Does he look like that 70s show? What do you think?

DINO OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: He does look like that a little bit I think we're all being punked perhaps. You know, the guy who brought us "dude, where is your car?" is now playing a dramatic role of Steve Jobs. You know, I can only hope it's good. Frankly, Apple must hope this is good because they're sinking this week with the earnings report. So I hope they want something positive for them.

LEMON: They may not be. I mean, it's probably a bad sign in that this clip gets released on the same day the stock tanks.

OBEIDALLAH: You think it's more Ashton Kutcher than the earnings report. Let's blame Ashton Kutcher. It's down like 50 points. I mean, it's really, it's taking a back. So we'll see what happens. You know Apple will turn it around.

LEMON: I got to tell you this. I have heard the story over and over. You know, the Manti Te-O story.


LEMON: The Notre Dame player. I have heard about it. He has a girlfriend that he met on line and she's apparently sick and then she dies and she didn't die and he never really met her and she doesn't exist.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would always come up with an excuse as to why she couldn't meet you. I mean, as this happened repeatedly, didn't you think there is something really fishy going on here?


MATI TE-O, NOTRE DAME PLAYER: For me, I guess, I was just so caught up in the whole thing that, it was like, "OK, she can't see me. She gave me good reasons too." She'd say, "My brother has my car or you know, I'm in the hospital" or I was not going to tell a person who just came out of a coma, you need to come up and see me right now.


LEMON: What is going on? Are you buying his part of the story? Do you even understand it?

OBEIDALLAH: Two things, first of all, I appreciate the Lance Armstrong scandal that much more, because at least I understand that. A guy was taking enhancing drugs to perform better. This makes no sense to me. You know, he - this guy is a huge football star. You could think he could meet women. I mean that is why you become a football star, no?

LEMON: Listen, it's tough when you are in the public eye sometimes to meet people because you never know why they like you and then you are worried about what people think of you. You know, it's not as easy as you might think, you know that, Dean.

OBEIDALLAH: You think it's fake. I really don't have to worry. Do you think this is fake? Or I mean the other theory -

LEMON: I don't think that we are hearing everything from all sides.

OBEIDALLAH: You think there's something more?

LEMON: I think there's something more.

OBEIDALLAH: There's something else. Some people made the allegation that he's a closeted gay guy who, because of the football players putting pressure on him, said I made up a girlfriend so I could stop these rumors about being gay and I didn't know there were any rumors but apparently that came up later.

LEMON: Well, why not move on to Tom Cruise now.





LEMON: "Top Gun" is coming out in IMAX 3-D, I mean, you'll be right there in the cockpit with him. What do you think? Are you going to go see it?

OBEIDALLAH: I mean, if I was Val Kilmer, who is also in the movie, I would have sued to prevent this from coming out. If you look at Val Kilmer then, he looks great, and now he looks like Jabba, the hut. (INAUDIBLE) don't let this movie come out. They're going to be like what happened to Val Kilmer.

LEMON: You can address your angry letters to Dean Obeidallah in New York, New York.

Just because you are not a movie star or a musician or a corporate power broker that does not mean you can't fly in style. We're going to tell you how to rent a seat in one of these through your smartphone.


LEMON: You may never own your own personal private jet but that doesn't mean you can't fly in one every now and then. Our Laurie Segall says all it takes is a couple extra bucks and your smart phone.


LAURIE SEGALL, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, CNNMONEY (voice-over): Private planes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Challenger 300. We fly eight to 10 passengers.

SEGALL: Jetselect is one of many companies that rent luxury planes to celebrities and CEOs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High net worth CEOs and executives, Fortune 1000 companies, athletes and everybody in between.

SEGALL: Now increasingly available to anyone with a smart phone and some cash. Call it bringing first class a bit closer to the masses.

One company whose app is helping make luxury travel more accessible, Blackjet.

DEAN ROTCHIN, CEO, BLACKJET: The airlines are creating affordability by selling seats. If you had to book an entire airliner to fly somewhere, it would be phenomenally expensive. We created affordability by taking take the seat model from the airlines and applying it for the first time to private aviation.

SEGALL: Blackjet charters unused private planes from carriers like Jetselect and then sells the upscale seats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us, it's just another opportunity to put these things in the air more and put more passengers in the seats. Otherwise, the people that Blackjet is bringing to the table may not use our services.

SEGALL: The hope is that Blackjet will sell enough seats to make a profit.

ROTCHIN: In a couple of click, I think it's 10 clicks, you can get a confirmation and you're guaranteed your seats.

SEGALL: Even if only a few people sign up and the savings can be substantial.

(on camera): Normally a chartered flight to the west coast would cost you $25,000 but using Blackjet, you can actually share the plane and pay $3,500.

JOSH RUBIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOL HUNTING: There's a layer of wealth that doesn't quite a have the money to spend on booking a private charter but certainly could afford a seat on a private plane which is close to or a little more than a round trip first class ticket.

SEGALL (voice-over): "Cool Hunting" editor in chief Josh Rubin is able to fly private. Thanks to Blackjet and he's enjoying the perks.

RUBIN: Valet parked my car, walked the dogs on to the plane, sat down. Didn't have to turn my phone off.

SEGALL: Blackjet isn't the only internet site venturing into luxury. One of Blackjet's founders also co-founded Uber, which lets you rent a town car and driver through their app. Another investor in both ventures says we're just at the beginning of the smart phone revolution.

SHERVIN PISHEVAR, INVESTOR IN BLACKJET AND UBER: It is spreading to multiple areas, so it sounds like a joke, but there's actually a couple of start-ups that are doing Uber for yachts. You can actually rent a yacht with the push of a button.

SEGALL: Rapper Jay-Z, actors Ashton Kutcher and Will Smith all know a thing or two about the luxury life have sunk money into Blackjet. This service doesn't come totally cheap. You'll need to pay a $2,500 a year membership fee to start sharing your own private jet, but as more companies enter the space, the cost of renting luxury is sure to drop.


LEMON: To dream, to dream. Laurie Segall is here with us. Laurie, before we start talking about how you can do it on your smart phone, at the height of the recession, I remember - I don't know if it was Blackjet, but there were other things like that, you would go to events, like charity events, right? And they would be giving away cards and coupons from private jet companies like that in gift bags right? Because people weren't taking private jets, they weren't taking yachts and people were trying to get those private jets off the ground and get people to use them.

And now the economy is picking up and they'll probably start using them again.

SEGALL: Yes. I think now you have your smart phone and you can see OK, there's an actual - before people didn't know how to use them or how to get there. Now you have your smart phone and an app like this. OK, you can book a seat. This is how you do it. It's really the smart phone kind of connecting those dots.

LEMON: And it's called Task, it's a luxury through your smart phone and it's called - this one is called Task Rabbit. How does it work?

SEGALL: So essentially maybe we can't book a private plane, but let's say you need to find someone to help you pick up the groceries, you're really busy and you need to get a key to someone. You can actually get an app called Task Rabbit. It's also on the web. You can go on there and you can say I need this done, this is how much I'm willing to play. And it will connect you with people in your community. And they'll say "OK , I'll do this for this amount." Andy, your first thought is "OK. That's kind of creepy. Who are these people?" Everyone connects through Facebook. Task Rabbit does background checks and it's actually a way to really get to know some people in your community and people can make money on the side. I mean, I spoke with one woman who's actually supplementing her income and she was also paying for school. So I actually did this a year ago, and I had a guy come and help me do my whole apartment. I went on Task Rabbit and he was fabulous. It was really great. He painted a room red and I don't regret it.

LEMON: Laurie, what's your twitter, real quick?

SEGALL: It's at @lauriesegallcnn.

LEMON: OK. Put the rest of the sites that are like Task Rabbit so our viewers can get it. We have to run.

Thank you, Laurie.

SEGALL: You got it. Thank you.

LEMON: Next, a video you don't want to miss.


LEMON: Can't get enough of this video. Look at it, a basketball fan made the shot of his life and then got a bear hug from one of the biggest names in the game. Between the third and fourth quarter last night in Miami, Michael (INAUDIBLE) hit this half court shot, winning $75,000 for himself and another $75,000 for charity. Heat star Lebron James was watching and he was excited to say the least.

Lebron left his team's huddle to celebrate. Check out the bear hug and the tackle at center court, I cannot get enough of this video. I was watching it live. Everybody in the place where I was, we were having beer and wings and we were all screaming. It was awesome. Congratulations. I will see you at 10.