tv Headline News RT February 20, 2013 4:00pm-4:30pm EST
coming up on r t over the weekend thousands demonstrated in washington demanding action on climate change they hope president obama will take action but while they were marching he was playing golf with oil executives so what does this mean for climate change policy. and animal rights groups say conditions inside slaughterhouses and farms here in the u.s. are horrible an insider who spends time working on a farm joins us to share his story. and what a way south florida university a private prison corporation and football have in common hands it involves money and naming rights well look into the connection coming up. it's wednesday february twentieth four pm here in washington d.c.
i'm liz wahl and you're watching arts. we begin today taking a look at why environmentalist are outraged over president obama's recent golf trip tens of thousands of americans descended upon washington d.c. to protest the keystone keystone x.l. pipeline we find out days later president obama was golfing at a florida result with tiger woods and oil big wigs among his gold buddies jim crane and milton carroll both prominent figures in the texas oil industry crane happens to own the exclusive yacht and golf club where they were playing he is also a big donor of the obama campaign and carroll is the chairman of houston based center point energy both men are directors of western gas holdings one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world so what does this imply about america's energy future to discuss i'm joined by john wunderlich director of the sunlight foundation here in d.c.
and chris williams an environmental activist in new york welcome gentlemen to the both of you so going to start off with you during president obama's state of the union speech he mentioned climate change and environmentalists who hailed him for this but less than a week later the president's out goal thing with oil executives while americans are protesting the keystone pipeline so is his golf match with oil tycoons a slap in the face for environmentalists i know you're an environmentalist yourself but do you think. very much so it shows that he is full of fine words but it's very skimpy on actual action. when he was talking about his all of the above energy strategy during a state of the union and boasting about how many more pipelines he's intending to layo has laid during during his previous administration i think that is really his focus and his emphasis clearly because he spends his afternoons with his oil buddies rather than listening to fifty thousand people outside his house which is
where i was on sunday so you think it's all talk actions speak louder than words i think you would agree with. john i want to ask you we already know that big business leaders have had more access to the president and government officials than you know the average american but does this face time and does it actually influence policy absolutely if you if you. have more time to represent your position and your issue in front of people with more power than of course you're their decisions are going to reflect your priorities and at the same time as the president was golfing with executives over the weekend we were in the accountability community dealing with the announcement of his new cd for his new group to can receive large on limited campaign contributions and really grappling with what that means for the accountability of the decisions that the president's going to be making all right now you know in the u.s. we pride ourselves on being a democracy every vote counts what is this essentially do to that notion well we
wonder how much the merit of decisionmaking gets undermined when people can write a five hundred thousand dollars check to the president or work to the president's organization and that's the reason that we don't that we have limits and disclosure requirements for campaign finance and what the president has really done is built a new system outside the campaign finance laws to receive corporate an unlimited donations and we think that that's really threatening to the way that we make important decisions as a democracy. as a country like these environmental decisions. on the environmental front i want to ask you what is the environmental impact of drilling for natural gas. because we saw people are saying that this is historic that this is one of the biggest environmental protests that we've seen in our history so can you talk more about what your concerns are are as a as an environmentalist the impact that this could have on the environment. well
if they actually build this pipeline and bring the two hundred thousand. barrels of oil from toss a day to texas for refining as james hansen the director of the nasa goto the center said it's game over for climate so this would be an absolutely devastating blow not just to indigenous rights and people in canada but the devastation of canadian. ecosystems but also burning all of the oil every single day will mean it's impossible to make any any real advancement with the question of climate change and doing something meaningful and it means you're building more and more infrastructure based on oil and gas burning for the future when we should be moving in a completely different direction i mean the twenty first century should be the century when we start really moving drastically away from fossil fuels towards
alternatives and energy conservation and the obama administration is all about ramping up oil and gas production to virtually unprecedented levels and making the us compete with saudi arabia in terms of its output for oil fossil fuels now president obama he has talked about this transition to clean energy he has talked talked about getting off of this dependence on fossil fuels do you think that there's a recent gulf extravaganza as proof that that's not going to happen. i think it's absolutely indicative of the fact that he's not serious when it comes to making a transition in the near term and i think if we're going to get anywhere the movement has to be independent of the democratic party because there are no allies and the people themselves have to do it we have to do it we have the people we need to be organized four and five americans think the government should do more about to address climate change and they're absolutely right we need to get organized and we
need more protests is fantastically inspiring that there were fifty thousand people in the freezing cold so eager for more. i do want to bring up one more thing john hillery clay and no longer the secretary of state but she is still making the news she. is reportedly going to make a lot of cash as a speaker charging one hundred thousand dollars somewhere in that ballpark to speak so are what are the implications of this what does it say about the revolving door of money and influence in washington when we have to worry about officials that are leaving top positions in the way that they use their position to cash in whether it's to influence or just to sell their reputation in the name that they have and then also officials do coming into government and i think with this situation we have both concerns whether hillary's going to be selling access to the decisions and people that she was in charge of as secretary of state and then also whether people that pay her hundred thousand dollars speaker fees are actually buying
a better position for a potential future future political political career that hillary may have a lot more questions of very interesting gentlemen appreciate you both weighing in on this that was john wunderlich policy director at the sunlight foundation and chris williams and environmental activist. well by now you've probably heard about the horsemeat scandal that made people throughout europe sick to their stomachs people were outraged after they found out that horsemeat was in their food when they thought it was all beef all it sparked a discussion about how much we really know about what we're eating and while horsemeat seems to be taboo what happens on farms here in the u.s. may make your stomach even more uneasy disturbing images like the ones you see on your screen now of animals being abused and inhumane working conditions they've been brought to light by undercover journalists and whistleblowers. but in some
states it may be difficult or impossible to expose these conditions and the state of illinois this is the latest state to pass these so-called ag gag bills which outlaws making such images public for more on this someone who has seen all these all of this firsthand the atrocities that go on behind closed doors at some u.s. farms cody carlson is a former investigator for the humane society and joins us now. welcome there cody great to see you so having having a worked on a farm tell us about some of the things that you've seen some of the things that you've heard. sure well you know go in and it's almost generous to refer to places like these as farms that are more of a factory or industrial assembly line almost like a scene from the matrix animals are confined in a pig farms and individual pens so small they can barely move chickens eglington syllabi these are confined in cages seven to ten small wire cage about the size of
a microwave as the eye can see so these are industrial facilities where animals basically get no human interaction. as seen at the matrix a troubling portrait of a place where we get our food cody after seeing all of this firsthand how has it how has it affected you. well it's certainly changed my my eating habits for sure been pretty strict vegan ever since being in these facilities and it's also made me consider this a very important issue that i think the public deserves to know about and why do you think it's important for people to know about what happens behind closed doors what really happens on some of these farms. well i think that the public has to write a right to know how their food is being produced especially if it's being produced in a way that is unsanitary and safe or inhumane or illegal. and certainly the industry
is going to very far lengths to keep people from knowing these conditions which i think just goes to show how important is that they do it and i also want to ask you who typically works at these places is it mostly immigrants. labor sort of divided there's a lot of immigrants there largely undocumented there's also just. people in small rural communities where there's not a lot of options of other places to work so there's a pretty even ex ok i also want to ask you when it comes to these animals these instances of of being abused or some of these atrocious conditions would you say about this is the norm in a lot of us farms or or is it rare how prevalent do you think this is well sadly the everyday standard conditions at most these factory farms is egregiously inhumane on top of that you know the media often likes to focus on these rogue workers that will sit distinctly abuse their animals and that's certainly
a major problem that goes on these facilities but i think the biggest problem here is that every day conditions it's animals being confined in tiny cages where they can never move being mutilated or castrated without anesthesia being overbred and that medically neglected that i think is the worst part of what's going on and that often gets overlooked in the sensational aspect of these abusive workers now we had mentioned earlier this piece of legislation. one that kind of a strict making these images public where people can be punished for going in taking these photos and snapping these these images because it hurts business says . when you hear about some of these kinds of laws are being implemented to protect these farms well what do you think. honestly i think it's criminal you know these these and i whistle blower bills are being disguised as our fraud bills but
the real fraud that's going on here is is being perpetrated by these companies that are trying to deceive consumers into buying something other than what they think that they're buying i think most consumers knew about the conditions on these farms they would want to thing to do with them. and so i think that this is a sort of last ditch attempt a desperate attempt by the industry to keep people from knowing the truth now i understand cody that you are now working on getting a lot agree how do you hope to take action and be a force for change well i mean i certainly think that we need stronger enforcement of the laws that we do have for animals right now unfortunately most states now have what are called common farming exemptions which means that any common farm practice is not illegal and that happened in most states in the ninety's and now it's very difficult to get criminal prosecutions of these farms although we certainly get them a lot just last december in wyoming the workers at
a hog farm that supplies to tyson were charged with animal cruelty in august workers were convicted of felony animal cruelty at a butterball turkey facility but i think really at the same time we need to be pursuing stronger legislation several states have begun to set minimum standards for certain farm animals and these ag gag laws represent a strong pushback against tread cutting appreciate your sharing some of your own experiences with us now as cody karl said a former investigator for the humane society. and now to the booming private prison industry in the u.s. which has teamed up with a florida university campus and up until recently florida atlantic university has been scrambling to find a sponsor to buy the rights to naming their new seventy million dollars football stadium they now have a taker boca raton based geo group is a private prison company florida university has accepted six million dollars by the
private prison giant so in a matter of time this stadium will be called geo group stadium and it will have that name for twelve years well for more on this i'm joined in a moment by michael brooks he is a producer producer of the majority of report where to be talking about the prison industrial complex and this interesting partnership now welcome there michael. good to be with you so a private prison company is sponsoring this university in florida a strange kind of partnership. yeah it's definitely a strange kind of partnership i think what it shows us though is kind of disturbing convergence between. privatizing certain things like prisons like detention centers which. is a questionable area for the markets to be involved in aggressively and the really
starving public investment for things like universities and education systems so you're seeing a convergence of two pretty problematic things in this way that is you know kind of funny and kind of odd but it points to problematic underlying patterns yeah i want to bring up some numbers michael when it comes to geo group this company that paid the six million dollars to get their name on the stadium this company own more than one hundred properties that's over seventy three thousand beds across the u.s. u.k. south africa and australia and they bought they brought in it one point seven billion dollars in revenue and two thousand and twelve so can you tell us more about this prison corporation and your group what kind of share do they have in the private prison industry. well they have a significant share in it and like you pointed out this is also a global corporation kind of following global best practices in this industry
which is questionable you know the questionable industry in of itself it has about i think just under three billion dollars in assets an anomaly is that operate prisons that also operates detention centers for undocumented migrants and immigrants which i think is another area that's really problematic it's been fined and investigated for not only mistreatment of inmates but also mistreatment of its own employees so there's a lot of problems here and it is a very big player in this market meanwhile florida atlantic officials they say that they see nothing wrong with this this sponsorship and they hailed your group as being a successful local business should they be more concerned about your group's name being on their stadium. well i mean we could answer that in two ways of course they
should be would be the most obvious and direct answer i think what's happening though is that the the the school wasn't able to find another sponsor for the stadium. had a group came forward where i think is an alumni of the same university and now they're playing you know kind of classic p.r. strategy the best defense is a good oftens and that's what they're pushing and they're saying there's nothing wrong with this this is a great local business but again i think intrinsically and there's definitely a problem there because of all the things we've talked about now michael we don't have too much time but in this proliferation of private prisons has been dubbed the prison industrial complex now that one of the big players in this so-called complex is becoming part of this great american pastime in the state of florida i mean is this a sign of how the president of the private prison industry has become a prominent and powerful part of the system. well it is
a problem and powerful part of politics and of you know election funding and it's the it's a significant interest group i think what's different here is you're talking about like you say going into a kind of prime american pastime and we've mostly thought of that as you know. companies involved in this should be relatively innocuous or kind of broadly agreed upon even if they're not totally innocuous like maybe all these fast food companies there aren't so great for you but we don't think that there's anything kind of intrinsically problematic about them necessarily so but i think so i think that it's a big cultural stuff i don't know if it's a big departure from the type of special interest power they've had in the political process before but it's a pretty significant cultural step to have them kind of step out of the shadows like this yeah i just want to bring up one last point we've reported on private prison and this is booming industry before and how there is an incentive there too
i mean it's a business to keep these places filled up right. oh absolutely and i think you know i mean i remember that there was a local story about a judge in pennsylvania i think a couple years ago who took bribes from a private prison and was putting juveniles in jail for i mean. i made some mistakes personally as a teenager but you know like drinking a beer that i should have drunk or something like that i would have gotten you know put in this detention center under this judge i mean that's a really big sample of it and i think you know more broadly every dollar we're not investing in things like education is a dollar that it's not going to something like the michael prize or a pleasure as always that was michael brooks he is the producer of the majority report thank you. well now on to the developing story of the death of a three year old by the name of max shadow as the investigation continues questions
have begun to surface regarding his treatment and the possible abuse suffered by the boy at the hands of his adoptive parents are these honest aasia churkin eyes on the ground in texas with the latest twenty russian children in the last seventeen years died in their adoptive american families most recently here in texas much seen clues mean known to locals as max shadow just what i heard on the news was just the kid had some scratches. that's all i know three year old mark sam and his younger brother keel lived in this house with their adoptive parents in a rather secluded neighborhood it was from here that on the afternoon of january twenty first the boy was taken away by an ambulance never to come back the boy had severe bruises on his legs head and internal organs can get into that because it would be speculative dr. for the result russian authorities didn't hear about the case for almost a month. even unfortunately it's usually months after
a russian child has died and in the u.s. that the american side informs us about it and one case it was five years after a boy died russian officials say it was the boy's mother who beat him as well as continually fed the child drugs intended to treat schizophrenia and adults meanwhile at the u.s. state department we obviously take very seriously the welfare of children particularly children who've been adopted from other countries according to moscow little corp has been shown until it was demanded. with two dozen deaths caused by abuse and even manslaughter russia in a move often criticized recently imposed a ban on american adoption of its kids i have always believed that russia should stop these adoptions and i hope that they maintain this ban and don't yield to pressure weeks after markstein cruz means death tax and officials have little to say while they wait for autopsy results the results of the investigation with
russia heavily involved and asking for punishment of those responsible could take weeks to be announced no arrests have yet been made while the investigation is flow paced on the alleged information on the little boy's life and death extremely scarce one of the questions that demand an answer is why should it take a rigid push from abroad for the us to pay attention to yet another tragic destiny of a hopeless child to whom it promised a better life on its soil. r.t.e. actor county texas. well here's some food for thought we've heard the many reasons why obesity is bad for your health but it turns out it could also be bad for the economy american obesity rates are at unprecedented levels and getting worse experts estimate that forty two percent of americans will be considered obese by twenty thirty and the long term cost of this issue could affect the financial future of the u.s. our correspondent meghan lopez takes a look at the weight of the nation. obesity is one of the most prevalent and
important health problems in america if you are what you eat there are far more people now who are classified in the obesity range than there are who are classified in the normal weight range than the average american is a greasy two pound cheeseburger topped with bacon and served with the side of french fries obesity is associated with more than sixty different diseases including diabetes and heart disease and numerous others however this phenomenon is bloating more than our waistlines it's also weighing down our economy so let's take a look at the numbers according to the center for disease control the u.s. spend some one hundred forty seven billion dollars each year on obesity related medical expenses like type two diabetes and heart attacks obese men rack up an extra one thousand one hundred dollars in medical expenses each year meanwhile obese women account for thirty six hundred dollars in medical expenses per year and that number is expected to swell over the next decade but it's not just the health
care system that's affected given the average change and we among people states that actually leads to a change in the way which airplanes fly that requires more fuel and you can actually calculate that out fuel is one of the growing costs for airline industries and heavier passengers contribute to that so with obesity can affect something like ticket prices what else can it affect obese men take six more sick days if you're in the workplace in obese women take nine additional days and it turns out that being present network can be just as detrimental it can also lead to more present to you which is a concept that economists have been measuring for the past decade or so it's that idea that you could be in the workplace but you're not fully productive on a given day the average estimated cost of lost productivity due to obesity communally seventeen thousand dollars per employee per year all of the money spent on obese americans has to end up somewhere. the food industry benefits but it
certainly isn't alone certainly there are people who have had to develop new sizes of furniture and there's an industry there people who had developed new size for a whole variety of things also running big bucks farms because government subsidies often go to farms that provide the grains and candy used in junk food it might be a national benefit to reduce some of the subsidies that exist and to let farmers who produce any type of product basically play on a level playing field and let the market decide which food should be emphasized or not emphasize based on consumer demands and the cost of production meaning not of junk food wasn't as cheap people would likely choose healthier options perhaps the only problem that's bigger than the obesity epidemic in the u.s. is trying to find a solution that doesn't infringe on americans rights to pick what's on their plate it's a delicate balance but the fact is that the financial stability of this country could come down to the tip of the scale in washington meghan lopez r.t.
. well the end of an era for primetime c.n.n. anchor erin burnett reports are out now that burnett is taking over soledad o'brien's morning slot brian is reportedly on her way out burnett has had some notable moments on the cable network here's a few. what a protest nobody seems to know but if you believe this it was the best thing they're ever going to. be and i didn't really talk about the surveillance piece and it is been a pretty incredible day there and the record snowfall throughout much of it like. well as helpful as part of c.n.n.'s africa to boost its ratings would have been suffering lately and despite the wall to wall coverage of the now infamous carnival cruise it's one of the many changes as c.n.n. will see if it works and we are going to leave it off there but for more on the stories we cover check out our you tube channel you tube dot com slash r t america our web site r t dot com slash usa and follow me on twitter out as well.
technology innovation. developments. the future of coverage. we are facing a lot of problem. because no one thought to drink no good school. no gun no permits when you feel. what's not enough wealth is the law in the local news you might want to community l.n.g. motion will be used. to give job done for the farmer and prop artist i was fired sparked i must fight. i'll fight. the fight for the
right. potentially deadly blizzard taking aim for the northeast it's expected to hit stunning in a few hours from new york to maine we have team coverage of the storm. but what we're watching is the very heavy snow moving into boston proper earlier today it was very sticky you can see it start to become much more connery down the line there's still a lot of snow out here a good place for snowball fight. jason it is going to be pretty incredible day there and even record snowfall throughout much of in life nobody's allowed to be driving lessons from emergency vehicles are exceptions.