tv America Tonight Al Jazeera January 8, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EST
working tonight. >> into welcome to al jazeera america, here are the top stories. a helicopter crash. in the u.k., four people are dead after a u.s. military accident, training mission. it happened near the east coast. authorities are investigating. >> a deadly avalanche at colorado was triggered in the back county near vail. authorities say it killed the grandson much a man that helped start the vail ski resort. three others were rescued and they sustained nonlife threatening injuries. the worst of the cold will soon be over, warming up by 10 degrees. the weather is still cold.
schools are shut. >> the senate voted to extend long-term jobless benefits. six republicans joint the democrats. house republicans say the counter proposal is not enough. there'll probably be a fight in the house. those are the headlines. "america tonight" is next on al jazeera america. remember, you can get the latest headlines by going to the website. keep it here. thank you for your time. >> on america tonight, they broke it, thank you bought it. our in-depth investigation into a mortgage fraud scheme, and why all of us, as taxpayers, are paying for it. >> this is just flat out wild west fraud.
the motto, get the loan in closing, and whatever it took to done. >> and also tonight, we continue an america tonight special series, return to fukushima, those on the front lines of the ongoing cleanup. >> this is where i worked. this is the floor of the work room. the boots are extremely contaminated, off the charts for the radiation model. >> they are frustrated, angry, but not without hope. self he's, the cry of the new generation in lebanon. >> good evening, i'm joie chen, and thank you for joining us. tonight, we consider the haves,
have notes, and how so often the haves are getting over on the have notes. we begin with this. just this week, the justice department announced a settlement for the joint, whitaker and home america mortgage. they agreed to pay the government, though they did not admit knowledge of fraud and kickbacks of gifts. both companies are already belly-up and bankrupt. and the dollar amount is small potatoes compared to the billions of dollars making headlines recently. but our first report will surely make your blood boil. because as you will hear, one woman had been blowing the whistle for years, trying to get the government to act. it's as though no one would listen. >> reporter: if you're in the market for a real estate deal, consider this stone and stucco house.
four bedrooms, three baths, near lawrence vil, georgia, on the market for $143,000. actually, you already own it. all of us do. thanks to a big fraud allegedly perpetrated against the u.s. taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. to understand how it worked, look no farther than gwinnett county, georgia, east of atlanta. in this county alone, the housing development, hud, that's you and me, owns 77 homes. there are also entire neighborhoods, where nothing but pvc piping and lonely lamp posts are left. remnants of a boom, fueled by a company that no longer exists. >> the owner, it was the strangest thing, he would run down the center of the hallway with a ten speed, it was like a
party atmosphere. >> the party has been over for sometime. and if the u.s. government is able to recouple any of the money stolen from it, you can thank comfort frittel. she went to work at bank of america in 2014. >> i've been in banking since 1996, and with starched white shirts, and at first, i thought it was fun. i thought the atmosphere was fun, and it was more layed-back and not so tense. >> frittel said that it took her awhile to understand that not only the work environment was different, but home america did business like no other loan worked. >> it seemed odd to me. they would never be able to do this at db and g. >> so what did you see in those loan applications that persuaded you that something was wrong. >>
a 20-year-old barber making $21,000 a month. i had even seen a couple of the girls making up documentation at a copier, and whiting out stuff and making a copy and putting it in the file. which is insane. >> the alleged fraud centered around fha loans, a program run by the department of housing development to encourage home ownership. >> if the loan goes bad, hud guarantees, to a certain percent, that balance. >> so it's the government that's responsible for the lope. >> correct. >> so when home america was writing the loans to people they knew could not possibly pay these mortgages, they knew that the government would end up paying for them. >> i would think, yes, that's what happens when the home forecloses, you turn it into the government. and the government pays want claim. and it goes back on the market. quite a bit of the loans didn't qualify at all, not even sort
of. >> by law, it's the mortgage companies and lenders who are responsible for making sure that the guidelines are met. >> you have to have 1, 2, 3 in a file. that's not what they're for. the guidelines are basically to protect the borrower, as well as the government. >> why would home america do this? what was in it for them? >> there's quite a bit of money. if you take a $200,000 loan, at 6 points, it's $200,000. and it adds up. >> in 2006, frittel decided she had seen enough and called lawyer, julie brecker. >> this is just flat out wild west fraud. the motto was get the loan in closing and whatever it took to do that, that's what they have done. >> she specializes in the lawsuits. when the whistle blower and the
government file suite and help the government get back some of the stolen funds. the whistle blowers receive a percentage of the proceeds. frittel was one of the first. >> who benefited? >> the people who ran home america benefited to the tune of millions of dollars. they led very lavish lifestyles, and some of them still do. >> the ceo was greg hicks, who for a while was living the high life. according to the deposition, he owned multiple motor vehicles and an rv. and he posed for photos with pamela anderson and other guests. he still owns a home beyond this guest. in winery and upscale residential development in north georgia. hicks' excesses included the loan business. >> it was always, i don't care about the
rules, screw fha. you're not going to go home until you put the loan in closing. get it done. >> another one that came forward, a former vice president of loan operations said hicks threatened to fire her if she refused to close the loan, and? in the company began to use her federal password to close bad loans. >> people were putting in her password and closing loans. >> in her name. >> that she never touched. >> that,. >> this email chain shows the employee's growing alarm that loans were being approved in her name. i didn't underwrite this file. has anyone else complained about their name being put in as the underwriter. we will not do business like this. >> would she have approved those loans? >> no, there are emails to that effect. i will not approve those loans. >> the lawsuit filed by frittel
and one other against hicks, that he used the company as his quote personal piggy bank, paying for much of his lavish lifestyle from company accounts. >> if i can ask, why is greg hicks not in prison, and not before the courts? >> i can't speak directly to greg hicks for a number of reasons. >> that's because of a pending lawsuit. greg hicks refused to talk to us. his lawyer said that he is not under criminal investigation. in his response to the civil complaint, hicks stated he has never knowingly created a false record or statement in any documentation of loans. home america is long gone, shutred and bankrupted in 2009. >> it definitely made you feel like you were working for a crook. it was like an illegal feeling. i felt, after i worked there, i was embarrassed to tell anyone. >> frittel and the other whistle
blower came forward and told the government what was going on in 2006. years before the sub-prime implosion of 2008. but it took the government years to act, and at home america, it was business as usual. >> basically, they were allowed to do business for two years. >> with nobody taking a closer look. and no oversight. >> the writing was all over the walls. i mean, i don't know why it was ignored and not brought up. but i believe that now we all pay the price for that. people that have nothing to do with the mortgage pay the price for it. >> america tonight's sheila macvicar is with us, and this is the kind of story that really does make somebody's blood boil. but we often hear that people get some sort of a reward. whistle blowers are coming forward. >> it's part of the federal whistle blower law, and she's entitled to the money that the federal government recoup rates
as a result of this fraud. her share would be $160,000. company is abrupt. the assets are few. it would be pennies on the dollar. she was motivated by the money and she knew it was wrong and she wanted it stopped. >> it's incredible. the guys at the front end of the scheme, the leaders as it were, there's no evidence that they will go to jail? >> as we said, greg hicks is not under any kind of investigation, and there's a an ongoing civil litigation against him, which could result in more money being paid out to the other whistle blower, but he's not under criminal investigation, and that's the pattern this we see in all of these case. theseications. home america is a small story in the scheme of mortgage fraud >> so there are other banks that did the same thing? >> there were other banks where
there were nor prosecutors, and if there were, it was down low on the chain. >> so explain it to me. in the large extent. i don't know if you can think of it as a scheme, where a lot of people were colluding in other banks? >> a lot of banks essentially did the same thing. where they were looking for people who were not qualified as borrowers, and where they can either make them qualify by frauding up documentation or doing other things, and in other cases, downright knowing that someone could not possibly afford the loan that they were about to be given. that's one category, and then there's the category that we're dealing with here, where there was an out and out attempt to either make fake documents or wrongfully use a federal password.
>> should the homeowners, the people who took the loans in the first place, are they culpable? they knew that they only made x amounts. >> there are assertions that there were schemes working in family. that people were going in to developments and buying up four or five houses at a time and pushing the prices up. prices that were not sustainable. and developers were using these schemes to inflate prices, and using family or other associates to buy into these neighborhoods, and then these places were essentially going to go into foreclosure in a relatively short period of time. >> i guess at some level, people did understand that terrifyin theywere buying houses that were gigantic and beyond their means.
>> yes, people should know. there were people who clearly participated in this. like the story of the young bank teller, who claimed to be making $31,000 a month. >> yeah. >> clearly, people knew. >> and so it's not just one single, it's not just one company. it's not a few individuals within one company. it was a of much bigger problem, and there are warnings that it could be happening out there again as the housing market recovers. >> thank you very much. also tonight, who pays in the end? on this note, on the largest bank forfeiture in history, jpmorgan chase will pay $2 billion. to the victims of bernie madoff's massive ponzi scheme, you remember that. the prosecutors say that the bank failed to provide warnings about his activities, criminal charges for the bank secrecy act
will be delayed two years, and the anti-money laundering policy. in the nation's biggest bank is where madoff kept his account for decade. they released a statement that we believe that no employee knew of his ponzi scheme. madoff is now serving a 150 year prison term. another record find for jpmorgan chase. do the big fines even matter to the big banks? joining us, a professor of economics at the university of kansas, and a former bank regulator who investigating the savings and loan increase. and i should point out that your book, mr. black, the best way to rob a bank is to own one, which seems apropos to this conversation that we're having. in terms of a fine, $2 billion. and how big is that to jpmorgan
chase? >> well, the issue, as your previous story said, it's not jpmorgan chase. it's officers and directors who make decisions, and corporations are fictions, so the officers and directors made a fortune by engaging in these frauds, and they caused huge losses often to the shareholders when they did so, and then when they get caught, instead of the officers and directors paying or being prosecuted, they pay nothing, it's to the bank, or the shareholders, so it's a triple whammy to the shareholders, simply for the senior officers. >> so it's not paying to the senior officers. i guess there's some admission, okay, we're going to pay a $200 million fine here, but they're not admitting that no one knowingly at this bank did
in any way assist. what does that mean? is it a confession? an admission? where does this fall? >> it's structured not to be an admission and to be useable. it's designed to essentially have no affect on the corporation. beyond the fact again that the shareholders will have to pay for the sins of the corporate officers. but the famous article in all of this is looting the economic underworld of bankruptcy for profit. that's by a nobel laureate in economics. and the point is that the ceo walks away wealthy when the bank suffers huge losses. and by the way, this is roughly the 12th massive fraud that jpmorgan has settled. so this is the greatest crime spree in financial circles in world history. >>
why is this that people don't go to jail for this? people at the top of the big banks, and people at some level have to be responsible. why don't those guys go to jail? >> first, they used to in. n. in the savings and loan debacle, there were 1,000 felony convictions, and we had a 90% conviction rate against the 600 worst executives that caused that crisis. so the first answer is, big picture, big finance is the leading financial contributor to both imagine parties in the united states. so they don't want to be suing or prosecuting their friends. >> and then the smaller picture. >> here's what people don't understand. banks won't make criminal
referrals against their own ceos, what you just heard are rare, a few cases but we're talking about thousands of these cases. so the referral is only going to comment on the criminal regulatory agency makes the criminal referral. in the savings and loan debacle, my agency of supervision made over 30,000 criminal referrals. flash forward to this crisis. and this crisis is 70 times larger in terms of losses and in terms of fraud. my agency, which i've of course not been with for years, made zero criminal referrals. the office of the currency made zero criminal referrals. federal reserve, it's supposed to represent the biggest bank holding companies in america, made zero criminal referrals.
and the fdic is smart to answer the question. about out criminal referrals, they look at what crosses the door, which is criminal referrals from the banks aiming at little people, the minnows. >> those of us at the tail end of things who end up paying, either in your taxes or anything else. we appreciate you being with us, phil black, professor of economics and law at the university of missouri. he said the best way to rob a bank is to own one. and we appreciate you being with us. thanks. >> thank you. >> after the break, the cold shoulder, everyone got it. the wrath of the polar vortex, next. the stream is uniquely interactive television. in fact, we depend on you, your ideas, your concerns.
>> all these folks are making a whole lot of money. >> you are one of the voices of this show. >> i think you've offended everyone with that kathy. >> hold on, there's some room to offend people, i'm here. >> we have a right to know what's in our food and monsanto do not have the right to hide it from us. >> so join the conversation and make it your own. >> watch the stream. >> and join the conversation online @ajamstream.
>> you probably didn't realize this already, but we're already living through the most brutal winter snap in decades, every place in the country frosted over by the super cold. 17 deaths have been blamed on the cold on tuesday alone. thousands of people living without power, and rolling blackouts. the deep freeze has put all of us out in the cold. >> this is no ordinary winter storm. it's a brutal biting, a potentially deadly arctic blast. >> i've never seen it like this before. >> public officials around the country are urging people to stay indoors. especially in the midwest. >> the temperature kept dropping in the house, and my son was very concerned.
>> in indiana, an elderly woman was found outside in the bitter cold. they think she was trying to clear a path to the snow. a new name for chicago, chi beeria. >> snow in single-digit temperatures for the first time in decades. schools closed and shelters opened in atlanta. >> i'm wearing long underwear, i feel like i'm going skiing, but i'm not, i'm going to work. >> trying to describe how it feels painful, you can get frostbite in 5 minutes. >> texas to oklahoma to indiana, stunningly low temperatures. even new york just yesterday was in the 50s. 24 hours later, a 60-degree plunge. shattering a record from 1896.
>> we'll look for you later tonight, all right, stay warm. >> in this weather, it's particularly difficult for the homeless. this couple was found living next to the mississippi river in -24-degree weather. >> amtrak said that the temperatures are straining equipment and causing delays. in northern illinois, passengers were stuck, forced to spend the night onboard. >> it was just another 15 minutes, and no, it was 9 hours. >> they finished the journey by bus the next morning. traveling by plane offered little relief. in two days, the airlines canceled 10,000 flights. >> this is our day of trying to get home. we have cancellation after cancellation of trains, and means and buss. >> one of many frozen in place. >> frozen, freezing, and well, they're not frozen out in the city of new orleans.
they didn't let the bone chilling cold there stop the city on the countdown to mardi gras. [ music ] >> in frigid temperatures down there in new orleans, mayor mitch landrieu, kicking off the season, with parades, and fat tuesday, of course you know that's mardi gras, march 4th. >> for lincoln park, the deep freeze was just too much for the thin skinned. the polar bear had to go indoors. it was too cold for the polar bear. the ones over at it the zoo in rochester, new york, they're at home in the frigid temperatures, but nalla doesn't have the usual thick coat. >> . >> coming up next, the second part of our america tonight series returned to fuk shim a three years later, a new generation of risk at the
nuclear plant for those who are still trying to clean it up. consider this. the news of the day plus so much more. answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> it seems like they can't agree to anything in washington no matter what. and in those cases where formal education isn't feasible because of the security situ
>> headlines tonight. a u.s. airforce helicopter crash in england has killed four americans. it was taking part if a training exercise. and it was flying low when it crashed. officials will not be keeping track of syria's death toll anymore. they cannot verify sources that added up to 100,000 in july of any. >> hundreds have come up with something, the culprit is, is frozen foods. they have been recalled, believed to be contaminated with a pesticide used in far farming. they are hired at low pay, and they do some of the dirtiest jobs in cleanup. we bring you the stories of these unseen and unsung heroes in a return to fukushima.
>> in the depths of japan's nuclear crisis, with darker days ahead, a small band of workers were offered a ray of light. in bravery and sacrifice, they face deadly doses of radiation to keep the plant under control. they became known as the fukushima 50. >> the so-called fukushima 50 was a group of those who stayed behind during the darkest hour in order to fight until the very end. >> in a rare interview, we spoke with the engineer,achi, one of the few who volunteered to stay behind. >> did you think that you were going to die? >> of course there were times when i thought that the situation was critical. there had been multiple hydrogen explosions, and the radiation in
the area around the plant was at an extremely high level. but we knew we had to get water into the reactors. we felt we had a responsibility to put things right. and we felt that we were probably the only ones that would deal with the situation. >> reporter: the courage of employees like him made them heroes in japan. they are showcased as symbols of who their company is. but as we discovered, there's another group that they rarely mention. groups who are put at risk every day, only to be fired when their radiation levels get too high. they're known as nuclear gypsies. an army of 50,000 recruited at low pay to do the hazardous cleanup. this is j village. it used to be the soccer
training center, but now it's where workers gather before heading into the nuclear power land, the front lines of the ongoing disaster. >> the workers who work for them, company workers, and it's a relatively small percentage of people who work. the rest of them are contractors. >> david mcneil is a journalist and author who has followed the plight of these unsung heroes. >> who are these workers? >> they are drifters, and they move from job to job. >> they rely on thousands of these workers to clean up the radioactive debris and to store the unending tank of water generated to keep the cores cool. >> how are these workers recruited? >> they are recruited by some of the hundreds of contractors who have come in. an enormous amount of money.
>> america tonight found very little of that money actually makes it into the hands of those on the front lines. >> workers tell me that they make 100 a day, give or take. the lowest being $60. >> he is a councilman near fukushima where many labors find lodging. work, often contact him, worried about their radiation. the maximum allowable dose is 50 per year. there are many people who have been exposed to more than 780. >> workers say that they're given little training on avoiding exposure. >> this is where i work. this is the floor of the work room. the boots are extremely contaminated. off the charts of the radiation monitor.
>> a worker, we'll call kanaka, has traveled japan for most of his life. he didn't want to be identified for fear of retribution. >> for people in japan who look like me its hard to find work that pays 1 thunder a day. i got housing and was able to save more money than usual. >> he was shocked to find radioactive hot spots where he worked. never decontaminated. the lack of training and lack of protective gear made him fear perfect his health. >> did you ever see that this lack of training led to costly or even dangerous mistakes? >> the training didn't teach us the dangers of handling radiation. there were some people that work with their bare hands, who contaminate not only themselves, but would spread contaminated particles to others.
>> cost cutting measures by the subcontract being company he worked for hut him at further reflect. >> we used to wear charcoal filters, but because of the cost cuts, we got dust filters like you would buy at the convenience store. >> it sounds like you're saying that there are different classes of workers. >> kepco is god. the main contractors are kings, and we are the slaves. >> tennaca was fired after his company's contract wasn't renewed. like many workers approaching their radiation limit, it's unlikely that he'll ever be hired at fukushima again. he lost his apartment and he's constantly sick. >> what are you suffering from? >> fatigue, tiredness, i get really tired. i can't say whether radiation is
the cause, but since used up nuclear workers don't get any compensation, i'm worried about my future, so some of it could be alcohol. >> while workers like tanaka suffer, it has been a boom to one group, organized crime. they have been historically deeply embedded in the construction industry. he helps workers ex employed by the japanese mafia, criminals meshed in right ring politics who target those in low skilled okay payings. many of the gangs supply fukushima with the lab orers to decontaminate. >> to quickly gather 5,000 decontamination workers in fuk shim a. you need to do it the quick way. using them. >> what do the workers tell you about the conditions that they're dealing with in.
>> from the decontamination workers, i often hear about money problems. danger pay. >> the government promises danger pay for those who are exposed to radiation while cleaning up the hundreds of square miles of contaminated countryside. that promise is used to lure them to fukushima. that brought this worker to fukushima city. >> the government says it will may 100 a day, but i initially got 20. the contractors and subcontractors took the remaining 80. when sato complained, he was told that his contract had changed. that now he owed money for food and lodging. >> did they have anything to do with your company? >> the akuzo were involved. and i found out later that the company president was a former
leader of the fukushima branch of a right wing group. >> unlike some, sato escaped violent retribution when he complained and then quit. >> i've had workers tell me that they have been beat up, and told, i'll kill you, threatened with, you know what will happen to you. >> but he says that the japanese mafia is only a tiny fraction of the many companies getting rich off of the $150 billion cleanup effort. >> it's the structure that's evil. because workers are hired through subcontractors, wages are skimmed all along the way. and the worker at the very bottom, actually doing the work, sees their pay go down. >> reporter: critics say that the subcontract being system also allows teco to wash their hands of worker safety. >> subcontract being companies
do the hiring, so they say they can't get directly involved with the laborers at fukushima. they are not taking any responsibility for the workers. >> reporter: i spoke with a teco spokesperson in tokyo, who defended the company's handling of the workers. >> isn't this teco's responsibility? after all, all of the workers are working for you. >> if there are labor practices occurring that violate the law, there's a legal solution. however, it's our responsibility to improve the working environment inside of the plant. we have made a lot of progress, but we do aim for an even higher level of improvement. >> but any improvements will be too late for the invisible army of workers.
many who fear that they no longer have a future, because of a system they feel puts profit before safety. >> when they needed people, they used subcontractors to hire us. our services are no longer needed. and i'm among the workers that were thrown away. >> they provide one of the services in japan, and yet, they are among the most notable systems who are taken advantage. they are specifically targeted because as a group, they have experienced a range of hardships. they are on average, poor, unskilled men, most in their 50s and 60s with bleak options for employment. sato, the decontamination worker, he said in just ten months of employment he received a higher dose of radiation than an average worker would receive in seven years. irony is that many of them successfully escaped from their
homes and radiation exposure after the meltdown, only to be possibly victimized by the very same danger that they successfully fled. >> i think about the culture and i they will tell you that i'm half japanese, and there's a lot of self sack tice in the culture. and i wonder if any of the workers feel that they're doing some sort of good. maybe there's going to be sacrifice to their health. but do they feel they're the foot soldiers responsible for this in some way? >> i think that the feeling among the folks we talked to say that they're contributing to society. but i'll be very plain and honest with you about this. these guys are looking for a living. they are downtrodden and troubled. as i mentioned before, they have very bleak options for employment. and they just need to get their hands in some kind of work to make the ends meet. >> so what about your own
impregs and experience? putting yourself at risk, what was your open inpression? you can't help but be stunned, but at the same time, this is a massive scale. some of the towns we visited are nestled in these valleys, surrounded by forests, and everybody knows that the trees and the woods are deeply contaminated. so you wonder what happens after excessive days of wind or rain, is that radiation, what they call the invisible snow, where is it going to go? is it going to drift into what was once decontaminated sections of town? of course it is. so you're struck by that.
and i was struck by the fact that in some of these towns, the government has set up geiger counters in some of the areas, to presumably promote their sense of progress. but what they have done is cleared the areas, and then they put the geiger counters at considerable distance from the ground. the experts in japan say that you get a of clearer reading of radiation bevels below. so they put them up. one could argue that they put them up so people can get a full view of the radiation, and cynics say that they put them up to not get as accurate of a reading. and there are multiple reports of people with their own geiger counters whose reads are twice
of that of the government's reads. so there's a real sense that nobody really knows what's going on with the radiation. >> so much uncertainty, all right. and we have to look quickly to tomorrow, the next segment in your series of reports. and tell us about that. >> well, so often people talk about the aftermath of fukushima. for the countless journalists, and there are still journalists in fukushima writing for newspapers and outlets, they say there's no aftermath. but this is an ongoing crisis, and it's largely fueled by the hundreds of tons of contaminated water that's generated daily there. and we're going to look at the ongoing crisis. and we're going to shed light on it. >> a lot to look forward to. thank you very much. michael. when we return, the great society.
lbj's war on poverty. and why it's still being fought 50 years later. >> start with one issue education... gun control... the gap between rich and poor... job creation... climate change... tax policy... the economy... iran... healthcare... ad guests on all sides of the debate. >> this is a right we should all have... >> it's just the way it is... >> there's something seriously wrong... >> there's been acrimony... >> the conservative ideal... >> it's an urgent need... and a host willing to ask the tough questions >> how do you explain it to yourself? and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5 eastern only on al jazeera america
one step closer to reclaiming their benefits. congress passed the resolution for the unemployed. it came on the 50th anniversary of president lyndon b. johnson's state of the union address. in it, he declared war. >> this administration then to now declares war on poverty in america. >> it was january of 1964, less than two months after president kennedy's assassination. against that backdrop, poverty over 22%. >> our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it. >> johnson set out to meet the americans whose lives he was determined to change. >> we will launch a special
effort in the chronically distressed areas of appalachia. we call it our redevelopment program. we must enact youth employment to put jobless, aimless, hopeless youngsters to work on useful projects. >> leading the way on what he calls the poverty tours. >> today i took a trip which should be unnecessary, which, in our time, should be impossible. >> in appalacha, where over 1/3 of the population was unemployed. to pittsburgh, pennsylvania, which had lost over 100,000 jobs. >> everywhere i've gone, i met good people who wanted to do something about the problems that face our country. >> faced with the problems, lbj
created headstart, and a variety of problems for the war on poverty. it was won. between 1963 and 190, poverty did fall. but today it stands at 15%. according to the u.s. census, in 2012, there were 46.5 million people living in poverty. joining us tonight to talk about the war on poverty, angela glover blackwell. it works on opportunities for people of color. is the war on poverty lost or still a work in progress? >> it's still a work in progress. we made enormous trades. it was bold to do it.
and kept so many people out of poverty. estimates are if we didn't have those perhaps, poverty would be double what it is now. but we haven't stopped with the effort. we have too many people that have languished in poverty, and the economy is a problem. so many work every day, and they're still so par. poor. so many low wage jobs. so many factory jobs have disappeared. we need to focus on making sure that the safety net is not shredded. it needs to be strong. those programs need investment. some need to be expanded, some need to be strengthened and modernized and we need them. and we also need to understand that the economy is keeping people poor. >> right, and on that point in particular, we're offering up numbers. but in a sense, that's just a statistic. and today, don't we have a new poor, a different sense of wealth and security and economic security and equity in our world?
>> absolutely. inequality is really hurting growth is shrinking the middle class, and keeping people from being able to experience the social and economic mobility that's been so much a part of the american story. what we need is equity. just and fair inclusion into american society, where all can participate and prosper and reach their potential. if we have more equity, we have more growth and less poverty. we need stronger unions. we need to make sure that minimum wage is at least over $10, but it needs to be higher than that, and we need to make sure that we're preparing young people for the new economy. we have so many young people who are of color, that by the end of this decade, the majority of all those under 18 will be of color. and yet latin americans and latinos and african-americans, are not being prepared for the
education or jobs for the 21st century economy. is we have to change that. >> those particular kind of entitlements that come from the great society programs, those particular kinds of policies might be outmoded. maybe we should be looking at a different shift from one to another. >> when you think about it, those programs are much-needed. medicaid and medicare have helped so many families from going into poverty when they have a health emergency. and falling on hard times, they need unemployment. and it should be extended right now. headstart is absolutely essential, so children can start school and and be ready to learn. we need to understand that until we can figure out how to get people out of these low wage jobs, there are 46 million
people who are poor, but there are 100 million that are just twice the poverty level. and you know a family of four living on $45,000 a year, that's one step out of poverty. many of those people with working every day, but making such low wages, they continue lift their families up. >> that's our last word today. we thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> we're going to continue our series, the other americans. a lost millenial. a 26-year-old whose college degree and dream of fashion went into the buzz saw of reality. >> i was going to university in virginia, studying fashion design, and it looked like i was going to finish fast, i was thinking maybe three years i was going to graduate. they gave me a list of supplies that was this long, and everything was 50-$100, and i had to cover all of my living
expenses with loans. i thought, i can pay for all of this stuff, and i'm going to get this awesome job after school, and i'm going to pay it back like that. >> my grand total, $65,534. like it went up overnight. so now i don't have anything to show for my schooling except for a $65,000 bill. no degree. >> and in our final thoughts ahead, as lebanon continues to bleed, we need the faces of a more hopeful generation that refuses to be silenced.
>> finally tonight, a story of resilience. it has been just over a week since a powerful bomb blast killed victims in beirut. among the victims, 16-year-old mohammed shar, seen here in a red hoody, hanging out with his friends. moments later, this happened. a car bomb targeting the former finance minister killed mohammed and eight other people.
it's the latest spill over from the war in syria, and while lebanon is no stranger to violence, many say that they have had enough. mohammed's classmates have started an online site to pay tribute to him. and so many others whose lives are wasted by war. they have begun posting these photos, using the hashtag, not a martyr, and featuring messages of solidarity and hope. in a statement on facebook, they said, "we are angry, sad, and frustrated with the current situation in our country." "but we are not hopeless. we have dreams for our country. we know we are not alone."
>> welcome to aljazeera america. here are the top stories we're following at this hour. a helicopter crash in the united kingdom has claimed four lives in a training mission. it happened on the east coast of norfolk. in colorado, one person has died if a deadly avalanche near veyo. he was the grandson of the man who helped to start the ski resort. forecasters say that the cold should over soon. many roads are closed. and hundreds of schools have been shut down of? >> the senate