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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  May 9, 2015 10:30am-11:01am EDT

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the clock has started. the candidates are making sure this time they have enough time to reach that goal. you can find out more about the day's top stories and background information on the al jazeera website. . >> fired over facebook. creating a sleepry slope. a lack at how this enforcement tool called civil forfeiture works. and an online platform embraceed by millions to tell their story under six seconds.
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it has caught the attention of corporate america. waj is out, and it's obvious what you can and can't post online most times. but it seems as of late people are becoming more fearful for reprisal of things that they thought was okay to put on their personal facebook page. >> as a result we have a couple of people in our audience who think they have figured it out. she said : . >> but not being anonymous is the fun part. to be social with your friends online, i don't know if that's something that is feasible for everyone. >> it defeats the purpose of people connecting with you if
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they can't find you. >> correct. >> should a teacher be forced to resign after posting something that is racially insensitive. what about employees who complain about their uniform. and while many offices have strict social media policies the national labor relations board said an employee should have the right to discuss their work conditions freely without fear of firing. this has upset some private companies, citing that it should not apply to online activities. what is the line? do employers have a right to police what their workers say on social media? some say its murky territory. here to discuss this is stephen greenhouse for "the new york times" and author of the book" the big squeeze."
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tough times for the american worker. >> i think most people have applied common sense to their actions. they realize if they say or post something that is threatening or legal they're likely to lose their jobs. but it seems that people getting fired or suspended for posting things that are not necessarily that clearcut. based on your search and reporting do you feel like we're in a blurry time for what constitute free speech versus a firing offense? >> it is blurry. the first amendment only applies to when the government takes action against the public or employees. now when you're in private sector worker, working for the company
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. here are the rules. you can't necessarily fire someone for saying something on facebook that you cannot like. employees, talking about how they want higher wages or how a boss stinks because he's a bully, but when workers are on facebook, on twitter, when they act in concert, when they work together, you can't retaliate or fire a person for that. >> that would be in the context of talking about your workplace condition, your employer, or something happening in the confines of your work environment. what if someone talks about current events, personal beliefs, personal photos online. what may be offensive to one person is not offensive to another. it seems that legally we have not caught up to what is
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happening online. are there laws on the books that dictate when employers are overreaching in these areas? >> in the united states we live in an at-will economy, meaning that your employer can fire you for any reason other than if you're unionized, then it had a to be for cause. if the employer doesn't like the color of your shoe polish , they can't fire you for your race origin color, they can't fire you for banning together and create better working conditions for a better union. but basically they can fire you for something else. if they say you're an idiot, you can't spell, you're fired. there is no law very venting that. >> i just want to step in with austin feedback.
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some of our audience disagrees whether employers should be able to fire you for something that employees put on their personal media pages. what happened in your case? what did you write on your facebook page? was it something that you would have said at work? >> on my facebook page i posted a picture of near the road, and expressed--i explained what they were, and expressed my personal concerns about what we do to these animals, and how we isolate them, we pull them away from their mothers within a day of birth, and we raise them basically alone. so i expressed my concerns as part of what i do looking out to living up to may beliefs, making the world a better place in a
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way that makes sense to me. >> so so is that something that you would have said to colleagues on work, or because it was on your private social media . >> i'm not trying to hide it which is also why i'm fine with my name being on facebook. these are my beliefs and what i think we can do to help in the world. >> just to be clear you're a second grade teacher. you new york ohio in a state where there is a lot of agriculture. and you posted these pictures in opposition to some dairy farming conditions that were going on in your area. the school district said in a letter that they didn't fire you because of your personal beliefs, because you were a vegan, and because you were speaking out on behalf of an analysis. they said that your contract expired, and they chose to dismiss you.
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what makes you think that their action to terminate you via by not renewing your contract was reprisal for what you posted on facebook? >> us verbally hired in the weeks before school. i was hired over the phone. and i was called in to the print and the superintendent, and the superintendent informed me that there was a complaint. the farm pictured in my testify. ed. they expressed concerns for the get. they expressed that this were an ear phone
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this. >> is the line clear? >> it's different when you're an employee the government. if you're a private citizen and you write on your facebook page with the school direct, when the employer said that what you did was not good for the school district, it hurt your reputation as a teacherrer, he's saying i have civil rights. and because i'm your employee you can't keep me from voicing my opinions on the dairy industry. that's a murky area where government employees can step
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out and speak out -- >> we have 30 seconds left. what do you suspect is going to happen legally in terms of defining these areas? how quickly do you think that that might happen? >> they have been a whole series of case of federal courts saying that government employees only have limited speech. talking out in a way that makes their employer look bad, they may say they're not allowed to do that. they have disloyal the. but in this case it has nothing to do with his teaching job, i'm surprised that they're punishing him for it. i think they're just trying to give pressure for saying something that was unpopular and the judge would say that would an violation of first amendment. >> allamendmentrights. >> and the
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the school saying this is not why they did not renew his contract. people are often convicted of a crime. >> coming up next, the controversial and powerful policing tool calls civil forfeiture. does it violate your constitutional rights or keep you safe. move over, youtube. mime videos ahead meet one of its biggest stars who has 4 million follow ers. david lopez explains how it took him six seconds to become famous.
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>> i'm the president, and i'm in the stream. >> welcome back. in the past decade prison have seized hundreds of millions of dollars without warrants. under federal civil forfeiture
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laws police can keep up to 80% of the cash they seize. does this violate due process rights or is it an effective deterrent of criminal activity? david smith, lawyer and former department of justice officials in the the the asset forfeiture office. he was never charged with a crime. thanks to both of you for being here, david, the average person does not know very much about civil forfeiture. in a nutshell what is it? >> it's the confiscation of property by the government state or federal government, sometimes a local municipality as well because the property is connected to a crime or is the proceeds of a crime.
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that is money obtained through a crime. this is a wide practice, much more than it used to be because there is a big economic incentive for the police, she have and federal government to pursue this type of penalty. because under the current laws in almost every state and the federal government, the law enforcement keeps the property for only for law enforcement use. it's earmarked for law enforcement use. >> we'll get into those details in just a few minutes. i definitely want to get more into that. john, david mentioned these civil forfeitures happen in connection with a crime. you were driving down the road. you didn't use your blinker very well, i understand, and you got pulled over. how did that turn into you being detained and $25,000 being seized? >> well, that's a good question, i guess.
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i was pulled over. i was issued a warning ticket for an improper lane change, and because i fit a certain profile i was, i guess, detained a little bit longer and asked a series of questions. and then one thing led into another, and it seems to be standard procedure for them to do this. they bring the dog out to run around the car, and eventually they find a reason to search your car, and the rest is history, i guess. >> david, others have weighed in on this. christian said it's not right to seize property . it's bully actiq tactics. so often you'll spend more money fighting the state than the police took, and they'll keep it by default how difficult is it to get assets back for those who haven't committed a crime. >> well, it's very difficult
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and john anderson's case illustrates how difficult it is. john, like most people, could not afford it a lawyer to hand this will case in nebraska. he lives in california. just so he had to represent himself in this case. and be up against a federal prosecutor, who knows all the tricks in the book and is extremely aggressive and unfair as well. >> this is where you stepped up in, you were advising him until he got an attorney, right? >> yes, off and on. >> i really couldn't represent him because he couldn't afford to pay me anything, really, and i tried to speak to the prosecutor on his behalf, and she wouldn't even speak to me. why? because i hadn't entered an appearance
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in nebraska to represent him, which would have meant that i would basically be stuck with a case, a very small case in nebraska without getting paid, and also without local council not being in a nebraska lawyer i could not appear in that court without a local council. >> you didn't have enough money to pay david but you're driving around with $25,000 in your car. how did that happen? i'm sure people are wondering. >> no, that was my life savings. i stole a lot of things and i've been saving money and trying to work this deal out for the previous two years. i'm a coin collector. i buy and sell civil silver and coins. i found a deal. i gathered all my money and thought i would make an investment.
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but now my life savings is gone. >> one of the issues they're arguing about is where this money goes. i understand it is used by law enforcement in various ways. to that point grace says: and robert says: >> that is at the very heart of the problem. missouri is one of the rare states that changed its law to try to make the money go to the school system, like you were just mentioning, and guess what, all the police and sheriff in missouri said this is terrible. we're not going to get the money any more. either we're not going to do any more forfeiture work--and he actually told this to the press,
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if you can imagine this--or what they eventually ended up doing was making an end run around the state law that was assisted by the drug enforcement administration, which was happy to take all of their cases and run them through the federal system, and give back 80% of the money to the troopers and the state and local cops. >> so your concern is that this has become a money-making entity for law enforcement across the country. but you were a deputy chief for the forfeiture office for the d.o.j. but not everyone who has their property seized is a good guy. >> absolutely. >> give me the opposite side of this. what are the good things about civil forfeiture? >> well, to simplify the situation, the bad thing is--the bad things are these highway
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seizures, which are done almost entirely by state and local police and sheriff. the dea are not stopping people from crossing the lane and then taking their money. but they're take other these state and local cases, which are little more than highway robbery. they just take whatever cash they find. if it's an o. that they consider to be reasonable like $1,000. but because the system has been corrupted, and you have even judges runner stamping-- >> we're running out of time. i want you to get to the good part of this. there are people who are saying that this is preventing crime. >> the real kicker is that is that the states have a higher burden of proof. if the states really think there is a crime being--that has taken place, then prosecute the case.
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but they don't do it because the states have higher burden of proof. they hand it off to the feds who have a lower burden of proof, and then they can take the money. >> well, sometimes the feds have a higher burden of proof than the states. the states vary widely on this . what the good points? >> quickly because we're almost out of time . >> they account for more than half of the money forfeited in most-- >> large drug cases. >> not drug cases for the most part they're white-collar cases against foreign banks that are engaged in money laundering, breaking the u.s. embargo with iran, things like that. forfeiting billions of dollars. and i'm not saying all of those are great cases but at least
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they've got the--they're not wasting their time taking money from innocent drivers. >> thank you very much to both of our guests. coming up next, homemade micro videos that are getting the attention of hollywood and corporate america. what makes them so profitable. >> tomorrow. >> my idea of a fun night out? a bit of anarchy! >> punk legend, john lydon. >> my weapons are words, not bullets and bombs. >> turning childhood anger... >> i was left-handed and the nuns seen that as a sign of the devil. >> into hit music. >> it's a perfect introduction into becoming a sex pistol. >> every sunday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". tomorrow, 6:30 eastern.
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only on al jazeera america.
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>> i'm surprised you even showed up today. >> i do. >> welcome back. more than 40 million people now use the digital platform vine. a short form video sharing short meaning six seconds or less. some of the most poplar stars on vine post millions of followers who make a living off their videos. david lopez , vine superstar.
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his micro videos have been viewed more than a billion times. and now it's his full-time job and the art of reversion. how they're remaking hollywood in the way we tell stories. thank you for joining us. david, you were a goofy guy working at a bank. how is it that you're now doing advertising for some of the biggest corporations in the country? >> i think it's because people think i'm funny. i was a goofy guy at the bank and then next thing i know everybody started following me on this app called vine. it worked out pretty good. >> frank, what is the afeel of vine? it's only six seconds long. >> that's a big part of the appeal. the other part of the appeal is that these are videos that loop. you can watch them over and over again. and for six seconds that's sort of perfect. >> it's the american attention span, right?
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>> well, it's not the only indicator of the american attention span, but this is short, fun, cute, and really enjoyable. >> so david, we have some fun going through your vine page. >> we did, indeed. >> there is one video called "i work better alone"." >> yes. >> we're going to play that. >> so one thing we notice is that there is a lot of production value in it. it's not just one person looking at the camera. how many time are you spending on these six-second videos. >> now i can spend up to two hours with the filming, the editing, and all that. it can be two hours to get it where i want it to be. i like to put a lot of effort in these vines. >> there are other videos that included other people.
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who are these people? are they other viners? are they your veinser friends who became viners? >> they're friends who i forced to vine. i actually live in vista california. most viners live in l.a. i get my friends to say, i'll buy you lunch if you make vines with me. a lot of them are just close friends. >> frank, is this the new youtube? there is high production value that david has going on. he casts these. they are not as random as most vine videos appear and companies are seeing value in them. are you seeing this as a branding tool for companies? >> they seem to have escalated. in fact, whether it is youtube or not, you know, i'm not sure. it's a very different medium but it's certainly a good indicator of ideas that people
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can come up with for telling stories and doing skits and doing humor in a digital context. >> so, david, we also noticed that you partnered up with other companies like jolly rancher and pizza hut. is this very profitable? how does that happen? do they approach you? do they approach you once you have a certain amount of followers? >> most companies come through agencies. i work with a company called niche, and they'll say do you have viners who you think will fit with us? i'm making a living off of it now. it's pretty awesome. that's how it usually works. >> the magic happens with david getting a paycheck. not bad.
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