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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  May 7, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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so good people of massachusetts, the birthplace of the american revolution, keep the school lunches healthy. i support you all the way. but no more bake sales? it really needs some sugar coating. i guess i'll wash it down on the ridiculist. that's it for us tonight. thanks for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts now. all eyes on the french and their new president. there's a much bigger and scarier problem. we'll tell you about it, and president obama facing new pressure to announce his stance on gay marriage. not to talk around it, to answer the question. rmgs good monday evening, everyone. breaking news. we have new details coming in at this moment, about how the cia
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stopped an ambitious al qaeda plot to blow up a passenger jet bound for the united states. a u.s. counter terrorism official tells cnn the explosive device is similar to the one used by the would-be underwear bomber. just like that bomb, there one did not contain metal, which raises real questions about whether it could have gotten passed airport security. as of yet, the person who had developed that bomb had not yet bought a ticket. here's defense secretary, leon panetta. >> what this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country and we will do everything necessary to keep america safe. >> fran townsend is cnn's national security contributor, a member of both the dhs and cia external advisory boards. chad sweet is a former dhs and cia official, also the cofounder of the chertoff group, a global security firm.
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good to see both of you. fran, i know you've been reporting on this throughout the day. we're hearing now that there could have been this bomb and other bombs, perhaps. how close of a call was this? >> you know, the official i spoke to, erin, kept saying over and over, the bomb itself was never a threat to the united states. that says one of two things. either this was in an early stage or it was made inert. when i say inert, i mean they added a substance to it so that it would have never actually detonated and exploded. we don't know which it is. it was made clear to me this was never a direct threat to me to the united states. >> and there are reports now saying there are more bombs unaccounted for. do we have any sense what that might mean? >> well, remember the president -- they were asked why this plot was disrupted. the president also directed agencies to take measures to stop similar bombs. we didn't understand it. well, as the official made clear to me, look, we know that al qaeda typically launches multiple simultaneous attacks.
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we had identified the bomb we believed was targeted to the united states. but you don't know what you don't know. there could have been others. >> and chad, what is your take on whether this would have evaded airport security. it was either all the way there and made inert, or not all the way there. but obviously al qaeda and any lone wolf's goal now would be to do something that would evade the metal detectors and the screening that you go through, even when you're outside the united states and coming in. >> it is a big concern. when you think about it right now, about 90% or more of detectors in the united states are magnetometer, which means they're meant to detect metal, not the explosive. after the last attempted attack like this, abdulmutallab in 2009, the obama administration pushed forward a pilot program to accelerate the deployment of advanced imaging technology, which is not just looking for the metal, it's actually looking
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for the explosive itself. that's what we need to do, is accelerate the the deployment of the technology we have to give us a better footing against our adversary. >> fran, what can you tell us about the suspect, known as one of al qaeda's top or if not the top bomb maker for their organization. >> well, there are two different people here. we know the intended user, the suicide bomber, it was said to me, he's no longer a threat. that to me means he's either dead or in custody. >> could have been one of those drone attacks in the past few days. >> that's right. the source i talked to wouldn't say what the bomb maker's status was. but this bomb had marked similarities to other bombs of his. so we believe that he is at the center of this. the one other thing that i would add, erin, al quso, the one killed in the drone strike over
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the weekend, sources to me -- look, this guy became the chief of external operations after al awlaki was killed in a drone strike, so this was a one-two punch. it's been a big week for terrorism and counterterrorism. this really sets them back. >> it's interesting, chad, after we've been hearing so much just in the past ten days, the triumphs that the united states has had against, you know, as president obama said last week in his speech, in kabul, about 30 of the top al qaeda operatives have been taken out. at that time, it appears he knew about this plot. they didn't tell us, the american people, but does this show that there are still more risks than they would like to acknowledge, especially in an election season? >> well, i think this is a challenge that fran had to deal with and so did myself and my other colleagues in homeland security and our friends in the intelligence community, when you have the responsibility to protect the american public, you're balancing constantly how do you keep on the offense and defend your information, your sources, your methods, at the same time, keep the public informed. so if you look at this plot,
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what the administration said with was technically accurate. that they did not have specific information on the target and that the threat, as fran said, wasn't against the homeland. so technically, they were correct. however, the alert levels will be something that i imagine congress and our intelligence communities will be briefed on and how that operated in this process. >> fran, when do you tell the american public can? >> that's right, erin. we understand now that focus in the administration went to reporters when they began to sort of report this story, when they knew about it early on -- >> and they said please back off. >> that's exactly right. and the administration official i spoke to said, while they did for a little bit, they obviously didn't let it go as long as we would have liked. the idea here is you want to make sure you disrupt it before it's reported publicly, because otherwise, individuals who may have been associated with the bomb plot disappear before you can take them into custody. >> chad, we always hear once they try one way, they're going to try a different way. this appeared to be the same sort of strategy as two years
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ago, an underwear bomb. so are we looking in the right place, i guess is the key question? >> well, on the one with hand, i used to play football. if you have an opponent that keeps running the same play over and over, that's a gift, because you can continue to oppose it. but on the other hand, if you look at the device, it has gotten much more sophisticated. they are advancing and doing different techniques. when you think about the making of a bomb, there's a supply chain to do it. what we want to do is to continue to move to the left of boom. meaning we don't want to have the bomb go off and do the forensics afterwards, we want to do exactly what was done here, track it, disrupt the supply chain or intercept it before detonation. what's going on right now is like csi on steroids. they're looking at the device, fingerprints, hair follicles and that's being put back into the 21st century terrorism. and if there's a fingerprint on that device anywhere, any terrorist that was involved in the construction of that device has to ask themselves the question, did i leave my fingerprint or my hair follicle,
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and if they did, and they try to enter the united states, we will get them. through the fingerprint biometrics system. >> erin, one other thing i will add to this, the individual i spoke to didn't say it was an underwear bomb. but said it was not a body cavity. it was not an internally inserted bomb, it was an external bomb. that also ought to be a comfort to people, because those we are better at detecting. we do have the technology. >> we've been doing a lot of conversation about those body cavity bombs. "outfront" story 2 is next. still "outfront," crackdown in china. >> right now we're looking at our possible -- this might be as far as we go. biden's bold words. >> i am absolutely comfortable with men marrying men. >> all this outfront when we come back. ♪
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all right. coming up, president obama, he's being pressured by his own party to change his stance on gay marriage. will he? and a man whose name is synonymous with lobbying and corruption. jack abramoff comes outfront tonight with a story about how the lobbies are controlling
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everything we eat. so, i was really excited today when i realized that the dreamliner has landed. the new wide body 787 is made by boeing and it landed at reagan international airport today as part of its dream world tour. it's a neat pr thing they're doing. the dreamliner can carry up to 290 passengers and it's gotten rave reviews for things like it's fuel efficiency, its air, and large windows. there were tons of delays, years and years of them. the company got picked on a lot, but thanks in part to them, airlines had a lot of time to look over the wares and it's now booked more advance sales to any other airliner in history. 27 is the number of scheduled to join air india's fleet next month.
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which is interesting consider "the new york times" reports that air india is hemorrhaging money and lost about $1 billion in its most recent accounting year. i've followed the air india story because i've actually flown it. the attendants were eager and friendly. but the experience was terrifying, and not just for me. many others have reported late flights, poor customer service, and reports that the pilots covered the windows with newspaper to keep out the sun. and they were fined for noncompliance with regulations. look, we know you need the sales, boeing, but we hope it's worth it. seriously. all right. our second story out front, a state of fear in china, trying to contain the fallout over the blind activist, chen guangcheng. the communist party newspaper calls him a traitor and an american pawn. he's still under guard in a beijing hospital, waiting to hear if he and his family will actually be allowed to leave china for the u.s. now, the chinese government has
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mounded what some call a state of fear, detaining and harassing chen's family members and sympathizers as well as dissidents. the crackdown has turned the work of foreign journalists into a game of cat and mouse. our cnn's own stan grant is there. he's experienced this. he'll show you the road blocks and encounters he's dealt with as he tries to do his job. >> i cannot go any further? >> yeah. >> reporter: okay, yeah. the police don't want us anywhere near chen guangchung. the blind activist has opened the world's eyes to what he says is china's beautiful human rights crackdown. he remains in hospitals, surrounded by chinese government security. chinese media calls him a traitor and a u.s. pawn. fellow activist have said detained and gagged. we can't go anywhere near the hospital. and cnn locked out. but chen's is not the only case. cnn has followed china's
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crackdown from villages to back roads and city streets. >> let's get around the corner here. >> reporter: always trying to stay one step ahead of authorities as they lock up activists as fast as we can find them. there's nobel peace prize laureate still languishing in a chinese prison. the u.s. has called for his release. this man's family claims he was beaten to death in police custody. he was arrested after helping launch a village protest against alleged illegal land seizures. police maintain he died of a heart attack. elsewhere in china, tibetan monks are setting themselves alive in record numbers. they want freedom and the return of the dalai lama. the u.s. says it is gravely concerned. china's response, lock down tibetan homelands and keep us out. >> and they're now having to look at our passports. this may be as far as we go. >> reporter: and the secret chinese pollitt bureau has been rocked by the most explosive case of all.
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once a hardline top cop fled the party and sought refuge, reportedly fearing for his life. he told a tale of intimidation, corruption, and alleged murder. his former boss, party power broker, has been purged and disappeared. this once in a generation crackdown makes reporting china increasingly difficult and dangerous. harassed, threatened, attacked, all part of the job, but only a small taste of what all chinese have to deal with, day after day. >> get in the car, go. >> reporter: stan grant, cnn, beijing. >> amazing watching that footage of stan's. well, vice president joe biden made his stance on gay marriage very clear. >> i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marry men, women marry women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another, are entitled
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to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. and quite frankly, i don't see much of a distinction beyond that. >> it sounds like the president might need to change his views from evolving to something a lot more specific. that's next. what the world wants to know and share is here. demand media expands on the big board. holding down the fort while you're out catching a movie. [ growls ] lucky for me, your friends showed up with this awesome bone. hey! you guys are great. and if you got your home insurance where you got your cut rate car insurance, it might not replace all this. [ electricity crackling ] [ gasping ] so get allstate. you could save money and be better protected from mayhem like me. [ dennis ] dollar for dollar, nobody protects you from mayhem like allstate.
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ahead "outfront," a time bomb for the world economy is ticking in europe. but not in france. and an american held by al qaeda makes a direct plea to the president. we have that video for you. but first, our third story out front. pressure is building on the president tonight to explain what he has called his, quote, evolving position on gay marriage. just a day after the vice president made it clear he supports it, the education secretary also weighed in today. >> do you believe that same-sex men and women should be able to get legally married in the united states. >> oh, come on. you're going to start there? >> yes, i do. >> okay -- >> have you ever said that publicly before? >> i don't know if i've ever been asked publicly. >> well, he wasn't expecting the question, so he answered it honestly. it was a good one. this all begs the question now of why so many in the obama administration are willing to say something the president isn't.
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john avlon joins me now, cnn political contributor, mara hoover is here with us in the studio. also happens to be the the better part of john. more of her biography on the left side of the screen. great to have all of you with us. john, let me start with you. the president when he was a state senator supported gay marriage. then he got in office and realized, politically, maybe you've got to be more careful. but joe biden has put him in his spot. is the president now going to be forced to say, yes or no, not on something ambiguous, but on gay marriage itself? >> well, i think, certainly, there's pressure building on the president among the democratic base. and what joe biden and the cabinet secretary said, i think, reflects the growing conventional wisdom within the democratic base. the problem that the president has, of course, is elections are won with swing voters in swing states like north carolina. and while this president can point to successes in advancing gay and civil rights much more than any other president, that
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final step would lead him open to a series of negative attacks that could really alienate swing voters. so while he's going to be feeling that pressure, i don't think it's a done deal. >> what do you think, margaret? >> i think you never know what the president's going to do, but just because his education secretary has a different view than he does -- remember in george w. bush's administration that i worked in, the vice president also had a dinner view. vice president cheney was not for an national amendment to the constitution for same-sex marriage and president bush was for it and campaigned on it. the national perception is republicans are all against gay marriage. all of them are against it. and the truth is, there have been 285 legislators, republican legislators, across the country that have voted for freedom to marry, civil unions or domestic partnerships in the last few years. there are some tectonic shifts happening in the republican party that have not percolated up to the top of the national scene yet. >> jamal, do you think the president will be forced or choose to go out on a limb and do this.
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and is it something that could really galvanize his base? some the people who voted for him the last time around aren't as passionate this time? >> you know, i think most democrats don't see people not being that passionate in the debate. there's a poll out just this week that showed that there's far more enthusiasm in the democratic base for barack obama than there is in the republican base for mitt romney. but on this issue of gay marriage, it is possible the president is genuinely conflicted. you know, it's not a slam dunk. he's from chicago, you know, there's a lot of people in the african-american community who are conflicted on this issue. you talk about the politics of it. you talk about the politics, it's not just north carolina and virginia, think of suburban voters across ohio. there are a lot of people in the country who have not made up their mind on this issue. if there are politics there, they're weighing in on that front. >> and john, is north carolina going too far? i'm really curious about this. the state already bans same-sex
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marriages, right? so this thing they're voting on tomorrow is essentially making it in the constitution, so it would ban any kind of union at all. do most people in north carolina realize that? and is that something that's going to really end up hurting, frankly, mitt romney? >> i don't know if it will hurt mitt romney, but you make a really important point. this isn't just banning gay marriage, this is something else. this would ban civil unions or domestic partnerships, so this really is an additional step. and the polls right now show that the forces who want to ban gay marriage have a force in the polls. and you're already seeing record turnout in early voting. this is a real force to watch tomorrow, because it could have real implications for the fall when north carolina's going to be a state the democrats desperately want to win again. >> erin, think about this. these elections happen in may, there's no democratic contested primary.
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there's no republican contested primary, really. so you're going to get a very small number of voters who are going to show up in this election. and i bet you the people who are passionate about it, the people who are against gay marriage are far more passionate than the people who are for it. >> jamal, there are other ballot initiatives on the map. you'll have maine and washington state. all will have ballot bites in november. north carolina, they expect to lose. they expect to lose by tight marginens, not tight margins. but i think there's going to be a lot more effort in this race and these state ballot initiatives coming in november. >> thanks to all three. we appreciate it. "outfront" 4fection. still outfront, greece lightning. >> out! out of my country. out of my home. a hostage's plea. >> president obama, it's important that you accept the demands and act quickly. ♪
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welcome back to the second half of "outfront" on a monday. we start the second half with the stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines. and we have some new details to tell you about how the cia stop an al qaeda plot to blow up a passenger jet bound for this country.
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the senior administration official tells cnn tonight that the intended user of the bomb is not a threat anymore, but would not elaborate on whether the person is dead or in custody. one u.s. counterterrorism official says the explosive device the cia found is similar to the one used by the would-be underwear bomber on christmas day in 2009. meantime, police are continuing their investigation into the death of a man after the kentucky derby. the body of 48-year-old stable worker aidan fabian perez was found in the back of a barn at churchill downs the morning after the race. now, it's being investigated as a homicide. today we learned that the autopsy has been completed, but the coroner would not release the results until the police investigation is done or there has been an arrest fp to our knowledge, that has not happened at this time. during her three-day trip t india, secretary of state hillary clinton urged the can country to stop importing iranian oil. india is actually upping its ties to iran. sources tell me that india reversed a ban on buying iranian fertilizer last week.
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fertilizer and natural gas are key sources of funding for the iranian government. well, facebook has officially begun its investor road show and what a show it is. most of the time these events are used to woo investors with company stock. they didn't have to try too hard. this is like a movie. there's mark zuckerberg in his hoodie. facebook is expected to start trading on the 18th of may under the ticker fb. shares price between 28 and $35. i wonder if we'll ever see that guy in a suit. i'm going to bet no. all right. it's been 277 days since this country lost its top credit rating. what are we doing to get it back? well, consumers are using their credit cards again. you can see this as a positive or a negative. consumer credit was up by $21 billion in march, twice as much as economists were expecting. the biggest gain since november of 2001, and that was when we
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were spending, spending, spending. our fourth story "outfront" is the french connection and the golden don. there's a lot of questions tonight about this guy, the new president-elect of france, francois hollande. will he be as interesting as nicolas sarkozy? maybe. on the personal side, the first socialist elected in 20 years has a thing for lovely, powerful women. on the left, the mother of his four children, a former presidential candidate inner own right. on the right, the woman he's with now, tv journalist valerie truewaller. these women helped him spice up his message and campaign. hollande campaigned and won on a big platform of taxes, up to 75% of income and spending. that's what the world is talking about today. but lurking in the shadows is the real story. it's the greek economy, stupid. check out the neo nazi golden don party, who won 7% of the vote in greece for parliament 37 the golden don calls for
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rejection of all bailout commitments, the purging of immigrants, and placing mines on the border to keep outsiders out. the leader of the group and nicholas mikalyakos. here he is doing the hitler salute pretty well 37 the party says, we're not really nazis, just nationalists. >> translator: we will continue the battle for greece, free from the international speculators. for greece without the bailout slavery and loss of our national sovereignty. >> this is something we all need to watch. if greece tells its creditors to take a hike, it will hit everybody. first, the top buyer of american goods, europe, could be in deep recession. that could lead to massive job cuts in this country. and forget about getting loans. when europe's banks freeze up, american banks will be reluctant to give loans too. and mortgage rates could surge. and finally, your wealth will drop. the last time the united states was affected by what was happening in greece two years ago could be peanuts compared to what we're facing now.
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at that time, household net worth in this country fell by $1.2 trillion. that's a big deal for a country the size of greece. it matters. is it all about to go on steroids now? "outfront" tonight, stephen moore with "the wall street journal" journal and david cowan. good to see both of you, appreciate it. david, let me start with you. obviously, it's a significant story. what's happening in greece, i think in a sense we've become immune to seeing firebombs and molotov cocktails. that country is going through incredible pain and could be crucial. >> well, hard times bring out the crazies, and greece is experiencing very hard times. that country has like 22% unemployment. that's like the great depression here in the united states. but i think what happened in france is some good news. because it shows a backlash to austerity, that the solution is not to just cut, cut, cut, which is bringing a lot of those hard times. so we're finally seeing europe
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maybe turning the corner and saying, look, austerity has not worked. we've tried it for three years. does austerity work? the answer is no. >> stephen moore, do you think there's something to that? i know you don't agree on the u.s. spending more, but do you agree on europe spending more? >> i don't agree at all. i think europe's problems are decades old and the problem, erin, is that these countries, france, spain, italy, greece have become so addicted to these kind of massive entitlement programs, they can't give them up. and look, it's hard to say that they've had too much austerity in these countries. look at their debt burdens. i know you've looked at these numbers. most of these countries have over 100% of their gdp in debt. those are frighteningly large numbers. if you want to talk about austerity, one of the worst things you could do in france is raise that top income rate to 75%. there was a sell-off of french bonds today, the euro got creamed relative to the dollar.
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this was not a pro-investor result in the elections, but i do think, by the way, that i think the real element, the similarity between what happened in greece and france was a kind of allow the rascals out, throw the bums out. whatever these status quo politicians are doing, it's not working. >> it's interesting, david, what we saw in france was the rise of the left. it's unclear, in a couple weeks, parliament might end up unikizing, to make up a word, hollande's policies. but i'm curious about your point of view, the 75% tax rate that francois hollande is putting forth. is that smart? it's one thing to say, i want fairness and more taxes, but 75%. is that a number that would ever work? >> well, we used to have that tax rate in the united states, don't forget, during our most prosperous time. so taxes on the rich can work fine with prosperity, and hollande needs money for stimulus. that's what europe needs, that's what france needs. i want to correct something steve said, oh, they're addicted to money.
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that's silly. sweden has higher growth and lower unemployment than the united states. netherland, denmark, a lot of those countries with the most generous safety nets have very good economic growth and low unemployment, comparatively speaking. so you can't lump in, you know, germany and sweden with the basket cases of portugal and greece. we hear that all the time, but it's just wrong. >> well, sweden actually -- there's a big story about sweden, you're right, sweden has actually boomed. but it's because they've made the reforms in the programs -- >> still spends 50% of gdp on government, which is way higher than the u.s. >> they've also cut their corporate tax rate way lower than the united states. but it's hard to be very optimistic right now about europe. germany is doing okay, sweden's doing fine, but the rest of europe looks like a basket case.
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i think the real lesson for the united states, erin, because most people in the united states care more about us than them, is are we going to follow down that path? we have a president who's always suffered from what i call euro envy. he wants u.s.-style national health insurance and government day care and all these kind of programs -- >> but he's not pushing for a big stimulus plan. he's not pushing for one right now. >> yeah, but, i mean, obama care is kind of a version of kind of european-style health care. i think that just this expansion of welfare. the question is whether we as a country are going to get serious, erin, about getting our entitlements under control or are we going to go right over that same cliff that they have. >> have we done enough, david, in this country? >> no, we have not done enough. and let's go back to the lesson of recent years. both the united states and europe came out of this financial crisis in 2009 with 10% unemployment. europe pursued austerity and now as 11% unemployment. >> france's is still about where ours is, though. >> yeah, but a lot of the other countries -- they've gone up. european's have gone up, we have gone down. we with our stimulative approach has been more successful that be
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europe. the lesson of the story is that stimulus is better than austerity. that is the main lesson, steve. >> i sure hope that's not the lesson people learn. i don't think too many people think our stimulus plan was a very big success. and it's going to take, unfortunately -- >> saved 4 million jobs. we'd have higher unemployment without it. >> 4 million jobs. did you see what happened with the unemployment numbers the that just came out last week? it's a disaster, our unemployment picture. we've got the lowest percentage of americans working in something like 30 years. it's a real problem and if americans keep thinking we can have these unbelievably large welfare programs and retirement programs and not reform them, i really do worry about whether we're going to the face the kind of situation that france and greece have right now. >> david, a final question, $1.2 trillion in american wealth will be wiped up with a little hiccup in greece. this matters big-time. so if europe decides to spend more money, where are they going to get it from, david? who's really going to want to lend a lot of money to france? nobody wants to lend any money to spain?
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where are they going to get the money? we can print. >> the european union collectively needs to raise the money, needs to take on new debt to the pump up their economy. that's the way to get out of this. and it does matter for americans. if you're a hotel owner in miami, lots of europeans come. if they continue pursuing these austerity policies, if europe goes down, a lot of u.s. jobs are going down. we should be rooting for them to get rid of this austerity suicide pact that they've signed. >> although a lot of the ones in miami would probably be in the 75% tax break. thanks to both of you, appreciate it. "outfront" story 5 is next. still "outfront," a hostage's plea. >> president obama, it's important that you accept the demands and act quickly. food fight. >> our behavior is becoming conditioned and driven by the food industry. all this outfront when we come back. if there was a pill
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we're back with our outer circle. we reach out to our sources around the world and we go to pakistan tonight. there's a new video from al qaeda which shows american hostage warren weinstein, begging president obama to help him. weinstein is a 70-year-old former u.s. aide worker. he was taken at gun point from his home in lahore in august. his captors' demands include stopping u.s. air strikes in pakistan, afghanistan, and yemen. also want the taliban and al qaeda -- prisoners from those
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organizations released. reza sayah is in islamabad tonight and i asked him what is really behind the video. >> reporter: on at least two occasions, it does look like warren weinstein, the kidnapped american aide worker, is eating something. we're not sure why he'd be eating in the middle of a plea for his life. it could be that his captors are making him eat in an effort to create the impression that he's being cared for, but we can't be sure. in the three-minute video, weinstein with a direct plea to president obama saying, you have two daughters, i have daughters two, and if you don't meet these demands, i could be killed. the state department telling cnn that there will be no negotiating for hostages. obviously, some difficult times for the weinstein family. erin? >> thanks to you, reza. and now to afghanistan, where military investigators who are saying a military officer who died last month while skyping with his wife was not shot and they do not suspect foul play. they were video chatting while
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her husband slumped forward in his seat. she says she spotted a bullet hole behind him. nick paton walsh is in kabul. i asked him if there's any more information that has been uncovered. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine anything more traumatizing than seeing your spouse die while talking to them over skype. but they can now positively say that this captain was not shot. in fact, there are only minor abrasions to his body and possibly a broken nose. the investigation continues. there are toxicology tests that have to be performed to be absolutely sure. but at this point, investigators are saying it's unlikely that it's foul play. there are others suggesting that suicide is highly unlikely as well. and the most probable cause in this circumstance is natural causes. erin? >> thanks. now, food fight. >> maybe that's what we should
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be doing with our food. that's a scene from "animal house." there's a food fight going on in this country right now that is no joke. the lobbyists are trying to tell us what we eat every day. they are telling us what we eat every day and we may not realize it. there's a new report out today that says by 2030, half of the people in this country will be obese. now, this is in part because of, well, too much of a good thing. we have succeeded in america in having very cheap and easy calories thanks to big food. just look at the two major soft drink companies in this country. coke and pepsi. yeah, they sell things like frito lay. their 2011 revenues, $113 billion. that's a lot of money, and some of it goes to lobbyists who get lawmakers to do what big food wants. now, according to open secrets, the two that i just mentioned, pepsi and coke, were the big et contributors to the food and
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beverage industry, $9 million in 2011. but that's only the tip of the iceberg to how the influence works. jack abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud and served three years in yale. he now rails against lobbyists in his book "capitol punishment." the perfect person to talk about big food. it affects all of us directly. big food, they run all these ads about mothers and kids and friendly, but big food is spending a lot of money on some bad things. >> yeah, and they definitely are. the problem is, i think most of america doesn't want the government to tell them everything that they're doing. when you have disinformation, you just have to wonder, people are getting heavier and heavier in this country. and this brings more costs and disease, and things like that, we're all paying for this. >> how exactly does it work? you may look at the numbers and say, big food doesn't spend nearly add much as banking. but still their influence is overwhelming, when it comes to sugar, when it comes to salt, we
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have the saltiest fast foods in this country. when it comes to corn syrup. i guess you could add big agriculture into big food. what are some of the main things they're pushing for? >> i think first of all on the overall view, big food and big everything including big labor are involved lobbying in washington, because they're involved in so many things. they understand this best use of their money is to lobby. they're able to go in and push things like pushing to call the corn sugar. that's the latest thing. they don't want to call it the normal name we know it by. >> corn syrup. >> they want to call it corn sugar, and force people to use their language. and it's a real problem for us. >> because they think that corn sugar sounds better. >> it sounds healthier. >> without addressing the serious health issues that have been raised about corn? >> correct. >> and you've been there. what is it that gets them to get
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lawmakers to sort of ignore those questions. >> i think a few things. they're using lobbyists who have great access to the lawmakers. they're spreading a lot of money around. like every industry frankly, on both sides. this isn't a republican or conservative thing, this is a left and right thing. they're having -- they're doing it with the sense that like everyone else that they're going in to buy results. and lawmakers, they don't have time to sort out the science of these things and whether this is good for you, bad to you. they'll listen to both sides and try to make a decision. >> as a lobbyist, how do you spread your influence? there's the money you spend taking out to dinner, but there's other things. taking people to golf. >> to ball games. right. >> and some of these things don't have a quote, unquote price tag to them. >> no. lobbyists want to get access. if your lobbyist has no access, you've got a bad lobbyist.
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in today's world, access means social interactions or campaign electron contributions primarily. if you raise a lot of money for a congressman, you're going to wind up having a lot of access to a congressman. they're going to be willing to listen to you and perhaps not willing to listen to the around citizen who doesn't raise money for them. that's one of the big problems in washington. >> they can end up making our food not healthier. >> absolutely. >> is there anybody worse? big food is disturbing to a lot of people. you would think people in america would want people to eat healthy, because they want to be. >> unfortunately they're fighting against people in the government and people who are activists who are trying to force people to do things the other way. the problem is instead of being down the middle and being sensible, they're going for the last dollar, they're going for the profit and they're fighting back almost egregiously, to push back. and what we wind up -- the american people winds up gets between the two. we don't end up with a food supply that is healthy at the end of the day.
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it's making us fat and it's killing us. >> lobbyists are killing us is my takeaway. is there anybody worse? who's the worst group of lobbyists? >> that's like asking who's the worst group in the prison. it's hard. different lobbyists have different interests obviously. the lobbyists using money to do things they know are harmful to people and just doing it to get the dollar for that, they're bad guys. and they're doing it. we've got to change the system. we've got to have a country where you can't buy influence. there's a movement now to remove money from politics, remove it from the special interests. and that's what americans got to support. for this and everything else, to make sure their lives are more healthy and safe. >> thank you very much. good to see you. >> good to see you. and in e-block, a controversy over english. it's not what you you think.
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did you know there are about 7,000 languages spoken on this planet? that is a stunning number. only about 200 of them have more than a million speakers each. the most popular in the world, mandarin. of course. more than a billion speakers. followed by english and spanish with about 300 million each. then arabic and hindi. while more chinese people are learning english than there are americans in this entire country, there are issues with the arabic language. i was recently at a meeting at
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the american university dubai. the school is teaching western style journalism which will be crucial as they find a voice beyond revolution. the students' work was moving. and it was presented in fluent english. this prompted a conversation where my fellow board members agreed their native languages were in crisis. i was curious about it. so it turns out that english is becoming the only language of an entire generation of educated arabs. it's not just in dubai. literacy in the gulf states is 98%. but that is in english. in saudi arabia, a lot of upper class families speak english at home. because their parents say arabic isn't sophisticated. and the journalism school is the only modern school in the middle east that allows to study in arabic. maybe it isn't a surprise that a lot of the students when they arrived there, they can't speak their language well enough. they have to take refresher courses. of course i realize that english is the world's business language.