tv PBS News Hour PBS March 5, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: in like a lion. from texas to new york, winter deals another blow of ice and snow, closing down schools and roads and grounding thousands of flights. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this thursday. money, misconduct and mistrust. the damning details of a report on the racial bias of the ferguson police department. >> woodruff: plus, locks changed, keys surrendered. floridians who face foreclosure lose the place they call home. >> the mortgage just started going up. and, my 401k my bank account, my car that, the only car that i bought myself, a 2003 monte carlo, brand new, i had to get
rid of that to pay for the mortgage. >> ifill: and, a disappearing circus act. the ringling brothers move to retire elephants from performances under the big tent. those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this is about more than work. it is about growing a community. everyday across the country, the men and women of the i.b.e.w. are committed to doing the job right, doing the job safe, and doing the job on time. because while we might wire your street, we're also your friends and neighbors. i.b.e.w. the power professionals in your neighborhood.
>> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: there was no rest for the storm-weary in much of the eastern half of the country today.
for millions of americans, march lived up to its "in like a lion" reputation, as a late-winter storm brought heavy snow followed by frigid cold. in the process, the storm fouled travel-- by land and air... new york's busy laguardia airport was closed for several hours after a delta flight arriving from atlanta slid off a snowy runway this morning. it crashed through a fence atop a berm just feet from the icy waters of flushing bay. the 127 passengers and five crew on board were safely evacuated. no major injuries were reported. port authority officials would not comment on a possible cause: they said an investigation will get under way soon: >> the ntsb is on the way to laguardia. we'll be cooperating with them closely as with delta. this particular runway had been plowed shortly before the
incident and pilots on other planes reported good braking action. >> woodruff: all told, the winter blast caused 4,100 flights to be canceled across the country; airports in dallas, washington, new york, and philadelphia were hit hardest. about 74 million people were under warnings or advisories from northern texas on up to parts of new england. the massive storm system also snarled road travel. more than 20 inches of snow were reported in western kentucky. drivers on interstate 65 south of louisville were stuck in their vehicles overnight after snow shut down the highway. this motorist was stranded for nearly 12 hours. >> there's literally hundreds of cars up there along the interstate there? >> yeah, there's people with children, and you know, no food, no water. >> woodruff: greg fischer is louisville's mayor. >> we have no significant wrecks or injuries.
i-65 in hardin county is closed due to 200 semis that are stuck there. >> woodruff: the national guard has been deployed to the scene to rescue stranded motorists. it was a slippery sight in neighboring tennessee: icy roads made driving difficult across nashville. the federal government was closed as six to eight inches of snow fell around the nation's capital. and the philadelphia area was also under a snow emergency, with up to eight inches of snow expected. ironically, boston did not expect any snow from this storm. the city has already gotten more than 100 inches this winter, and is only two inches shy of an all-time record. >> ifill: the state department will review e-mails provided by former secretary of state hillary clinton. she asked last night that the department release 55,000 pages of e-mails she provided. as secretary, clinton used her private e-mail address exclusively, for official business.
current secretary john kerry said today his aides will review and release the material as quickly as possible. >> woodruff: in saudi arabia, secretary kerry sought today to ease concerns among persian gulf arab states over the iran nuclear talks. kerry met with the saudi foreign minister in riyadh. he assured the saudis and iran's other gulf rivals of full u.s. support. and he said washington is not seeking a "grand bargain" with iran. >> ifill: more than 2,000 russian troops have launched a new round of large-scale military exercises in southern russia, bordering ukraine. the drills are taking place in russia's caucasus districts and at bases in armenia, breakaway regions of georgia, and crimea. that province was annexed by moscow last year. the war games are expected to last until april 10. >> woodruff: the u.s. ambassador to south korea, mark lippert, says he's doing well and will be back at work soon, after a knife attack.
a korean man slashed lippert across the face and arm during a breakfast meeting today. it took 80 stitches to close the cuts and repair damaged tendons and nerves. south korean police say the attacker is a long-time opponent of america's role in korea, and of the latest joint military drills. >> ( translated ): the suspect kim ki-jong stated that he had committed this crime in order to protest against the military drills that interrupt the south and the north's peacemaking atmosphere. >> woodruff: north korea's state-controlled media praised the attack, saying the "knife slashes of justice" were a "deserved punishment." >> ifill: the last known ebola patient in liberia headed home from the hospital today. the first case was reported there a year ago. the resulting epidemic has since killed nearly 10,000 people across west africa. liberia hasn't reported any new ebola cases for 13 days, but it won't be given the "all clear"
until 42 days have passed. that's double the normal incubation period. >> woodruff: wall street edged higher today in advance of tomorrow's february jobs report. the dow jones industrial average gained 39 points to close above 18,100. the nasdaq rose more than 15 points, and the s&p 500 added 2 points. >> ifill: the former archbishop of new york, retired cardinal edward egan, died today of a heart attack. egan presided over the archdiocese from 2000 to 2009, and overhauled its finances. he played a prominent role after the 9/11 attacks, but was criticized over the alleged shielding of priests accused of child molesting. cardinal egan was 82 years old. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. racial bias and routine misconduct among ferguson's police officers. making sense of a still- struggling real estate market. rolling back protections for workers injured on the job. the ringling brothers move to retire elephants from its circus
acts. and, two musicians team up to form a holocaust survivor band. >> ifill: following a damning report from the u.s. justice department yesterday on misconduct by the ferguson police department, new shoes began dropping in the st.louis suburb today-- on the streets and at the courthouse. >> officer darren wilson did not have to shoot and kill mike brown junior in broad daylight in the manner that he did. >> ifill: lawyers for michael brown's family announced the filing this morning of a wrongful death suit against the city and officer darren wilson himself. >> he had other options available to him and that he chose deadly force as his option and we plan to demonstrate in a court of law to reasonable minded people that the choice to use deadly force was unreasonable and unnecessary.
>> the justice department's decision yesterday not to bring a federal civil rights case against wilson paved the way for the family's civil suit but an extensive federal investigation into ferguson police practices also uncovered new details about the department's racially biased and profit-driven enforcement and prosecution. >> as detailed in what i will call our searing report-- and it is searing-- also released by the justice department today, this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents, a community with local authorities consistently approached law enforcement not as a means for protecting public safety but as a way to generate revenue. >> ifill: among the incidents detailed in the report: in 2012, an african american man
was "cooling off in his car" after a basketball game, when police accused him of being a pedophile because there were children in the park; he was arrested at gunpoint and charged with eight crimes which, the man said, led to the loss of his job. that same year, officers sent a police dog to drag a 16-year-old suspected of stealing a car out of a closet by his legs. in 2007, an african american woman received parking tickets totaling $150. over time she was forced to pay $150 in fines and fees and still owes the city more. the department found racist e-mails like the one that said, "president obama wouldn't number office long because what black man holds a steady job for four years." ferguson's mayor said one of the employees responsible for those e-mails has been fired. two more have been suspended. >> let me be clear this type of behavior will not be tolerated
in the ferguson police department or any department of the city of ferguson. >> ifill: the mayor promised to do better as a city, but last night, protesters returned to ferguson's streets. we turn now to two members of the independent commission set up by the state of missouri to look into the events in ferguson. starsky wilson chairs the commission, and is pastor of st. john's church in st. louis and kevin ahlbrand is a police detective in st. louis and president of the missouri fraternal order of police. tonight, he's in san diego. reverend wilson, that was just scraping the surface of the findings in that department of justice report. what surprised you the most about what you read? >> quite frankly, while the report was disheartening the overall findings were not surprising. we knew, based on the testimony we have heard from people not only in the streets but through our commission's work over the first 100 days that people experience racialized policing that they believed in their
truth that this was driven by profit. we now see the evidence of that. the things that surprise meade quite frankly were the kind of salacious narrative of the fact that we have an e-mail from from the finance director of the city directly to the chief of police suggesting that revenues raised through direct policing practices. these are the kinds of things that should never be in public-- in the public administration of justice, quite frankly, and they're the kind of things that undermine the trust in governance that we need for the project of inclusive democracy to work. >> ifill: kevin ahlbrand, what struck you, especially this part about policing for profit that reverend wilson just brought up? what struck you the most about that report? >> well-- and basically, that, the whole municipal court system. we've known for a long time that it's been a problem. we have never condoand ticket quote as.
we are vehemently opposed to them. we are supporting a bill currently making the way through the missouri legislature which would reduce the percentage that cities could use fees and fines for their budget, and we've always been opposed to that. part of the big problem is the police officer has to write "x" number of tickets, that's time he can't be out in the community doing community-oriented policing and that's what we've gotten away from and what i believe we need to get back to. >> ifill: reverend wilson were you disappointed that darren wilson was not charged? >> i recognize that's a difficult hurdle to climb, to prove intent, to prove someone's mindset, we have always known what would be significant or difficult for the justice department to do. so i'm not necessarily surprised by that, either quite frankly. what concerns me is the connection between these two points. if we recall, one of the things we see in the report is that
some 90-plus percent of those who are stopped for walking in the street in ferguson are african american. this whole incident with darren wilson and michael brown began because of someone stopping someone in the middle of the street. so when we think about the culture that's created in the policepolice department and we connect it to the incidents of that particular day, then we see how the leadership and culture niedz to be reformed and that is what concerns me more than anything else. >> ifill: kevin ahlbrand, because you both served on the ferguson commission together, maybe you talked about this but what about this idea of a culture that not only rewarded officers for writing multiple tickets for what seemed to be a passing violations -- but also, that could be the situation, say stopping someone for walking in the street-- that could escalate? is that typical? is that fair to say that that is what many people in the ferguson department expected? >> well, gwen, i'm not sure, and the whole michael brown-darren wilson case about why he was
stopped, there are only two people that know that. so i don't think that's a good example. this is not only a police problem. this is a societal problem and we have to get back to, like i said before the community-oriented policing. much of the problems with police departments are the federal cops grants went away. cities face budget crises. police departments were downsized, and a lot of these departments, they do not have time to get out there in the community and do what they really need to do. >> ifill: let me ask you to expand on that. i'm curious what you mean when you said "community-oriented policing." of if all the incidents in the report are true-- dogs being sent after individuals or people being pulled over because of a nonfunctioning traffic-- parking light that turned out to be functioning and then put in jail. if these kinds of things happen how do you separate that out from the kind of situation that darren wilson found himself involved in that escalated so
tragically? >> well and i don't really want to talk about anecdotal incidences, but hey if there are systemic problems, i believe that those problems start from the top, if they truly are systemic. the rank and file go out and do what they are told to do. so i think we need to start looking at management and some in some of these instances. and like i said, the time spent writing tickets is the time they cannot be out there doing the proper things. >> ifill: starsky wilson, your job as chairman of this commission is to try to figure a way forward. after a year of this and now with this report on the books, do you see a way forward? >> i do see a way forward. i encourage people who read this 202 page report to read it to the end because there is hope around page 90 when we begin to look at the recommendations going forward. they're the kinds of things kev sin talking about to reorient
policing in this particular department and, quite frankly, regionally, on things like community-oriented policing, to begin to look at and to appropriate not only community engagement but in some spaces, community accountability. and to take this report and to put it in conversation with the 21st century task force report that we got from the president's task force on monday to continue to review the criminal justice systems. to kevin's point i think appropriate, this is not just about policing. it is about policing as connected to the municipal courts and our region, it is uniquely driven by municipal fragmentation that costs money and so the revenue source that is most controllable is that comes from tickets, fines, and fee, and that's the spicket that got turned on in this situation. >> ifill: kevin ahlbrand does that mean the basic structure has to be reordered, whether it's expanding the police department in the city or change the municipal court structure? >> well, and i think that's a
big task to take. there are 65, i believe, police departments in st. louis county. i think that's way too many. i think the discussion-- and it has started-- that we need to look at reorganizing this and it's going to take a long time. but if we get the right people involved and the community behind us i think we can get it done. >> ifill: kevin ahlbrand, the head of the missouri fraternal order of police and the reverend starsky wilson, st. john's church and chairman of the ferguson commission. thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank >> woodruff: one of the gaping wounds of the housing crisis and the great recession that immediately followed it, was a huge jump in the number of foreclosures in cities and regions around the country. in many ways, the housing market today is healthier. but as our economics correspondent paul solman tells us that painful wound still
stings in a number of communities. his story is part of our ongoing reporting: "making sense," which airs every thursday on the newshour. >> what i need to do with you now is i need to walk through the house, make sure it's in broom-swept condition.. >> reporter: despite what you may have heard, the foreclosure crisis is far from over especially in florida, which leads the nation: more than 300,000 cases still pending; another half a million homeowners delinquent; hundreds of thousands of modified loans about to balloon in payments. ten days ago, david-- we've been asked not to use his last name-- was in the final stage of the process: cash for keys. he'd bought this house, on a quiet street in fort myers, in 2007 for $139,000, to live in with his brother and parents. his father died soon after. >> by signing this you are hereby releasing all claims. if you come back to this property it's considered trespassing.
>> reporter: for a while brothers and mother pooled their incomes from low-level jobs and her widow's pension to make the monthly payment. then, one day in 2010, david came home to find that his mother, in her late 50s, had had a near-fatal heart attack. >> i had to take care of her. my brother works, i couldn't work, i had to take care of her. >> reporter: with no health insurance (this was pre- obamacare), the family fell behind. their original mortgage servicing company, litton, agreed to modify the loan, reducing the interest rate (but not the principal), to cut payments by a third. two months later, though, litton transferred the loan to green tree. >> green tree took over. the mortgage just started going up. and, my 401k, my bank account, my car that, the only car that i bought myself, a 2003 monte carlo, brand new, i had to get rid of that to pay for the mortgage.
>> reporter: last year, an independent watchdog found that green tree failed eight out of 29 tests of how it treated struggling borrowers. but by then, the house was already in foreclosure, saddled with $25,000 in back payments fees and penalties due, on a property now appraised at $45,000. real estate agent marc joseph is wholly sympathetic, but he can see the lender's point of view. >> he signed up for $139,800. he signed up for that. if i was holding the mortgage, and i'm watching tv right now you owe me $139,000, get out! >> reporter: and that's the law. but the house is now worth only a third of that, as david has explained to his lenders. >> "oh, we'll help you, we'll help you," and then they give me the runaround and nothing gets done. and now i'm actually homeless once i hand you this key. i'm homeless. in the little ford explorer. i know it's not your fault. >> i wish i could do a lot more but the only thing i can do for
you at this particular moment is give you this check and wish you the best that this gets you somewhere. and i'm sorry. >> reporter: and so, with $1,500 in exchange for clearing out, david, his brother, mother and two dogs joined the 600,000 florida families who have lost their homes since 2007. 5.5 million homes lost nationwide. in fact, with one out of four florida homes hit with a foreclosure notice in recent years, it's hard to meet anyone in this state who hasn't been touched by the crisis. randy miller, who was changing the locks on david's house, managed to get a loan modification to hang on to his dream home. but even that wasn't enough when he and his wife both lost their jobs. >> we were just riding around, trying to figure out what we was gonna do as things got worse and worse and worse, and, seeing all the foreclosures, and thought, you know, there has to be some
way to get into this business. >> reporter: and so they started trashout4u.com. >> we would do the lock changes, the inspection, the clean out, the pools. we was doing all of it. >> reporter: happy ending for the millers. tragic ending for the meltons. >> ♪ if the sun refused to shine, i would still be loving >> reporter: we met street musician jimmy melton while taping in fort myers. his father had been a science teacher here for 35 years. in 2007, edward melton junior, needing a new roof on his house fell for a refinancing pitch by american home mortgage, now out of business. >> and they had given him a four-option adjustable rate mortgage, only not allowing him to know all the details of the payback on it. >> reporter: when his father found out... >> he tried to get them to modify it for over two years,
and every time it was the same answer, they couldn't work with him, they couldn't do it at this time, that kind of thing. one day, he just finally had enough, after over two years of fighting, and about 4:15 in the morning, he took his life. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: jimmy melton held on to the house for five and a half years, fighting foreclosure. but it's finally been auctioned off. he'll be out by april fool's day. >> you can transfer me to my point of contact but they're not going foik up the phone, right? and then there's tania agathos who wonders how much longer she can hang on to her home. >> december 24, christmas eve, i had a lovely knock on the door and they served me with papers. >> reporter: on, on christmas eve? >> on christmas eve.
>> reporter: agathos paid $69,000 for her townhouse in 2002, refinanced for $89,000 in 2004. >> reporter: when the bottom fell out of florida's housing market, she fell into a spiral of unemployment, divorce, a big surgery bill, even with insurance, and personal bankruptcy. she's been asking her lenders to modify her mortgage for years. >> they said that they would not even discuss it with me until i was three months behind in my mortgage payments. >> reporter: you mean you had been paying. >> i had been paying, i was 100% up to date on everything. >> reporter: so they were essentially forcing you to stop paying? >> correct. >> reporter: which you did i take it? >> oh yes, i had no, i didn't have a choice anymore. >> reporter: by the time she technically qualified, she was too deep in the hole to climb out, she says, as penalties and fees were tacked on to the principal and interest. but instead of modifying the loan, the lenders kept passing her from one case manager to another, while the tab steadily grew.
assessed expenses, $1,700 and then past due payments, of now, $32,000. >> correct. >> reporter: just to renew your mortgage payments, which then would come in monthly after that. >> correct. i don't know if i'm gonna have a lock on my door tomorrow when i come home from work. >> reporter: so agathos waits for the final stage of foreclosure. meanwhile, says marc joseph... >> there is still a lot of what they called "shadow inventory," that nobody wants to talk about it's not there. it's still there. >> reporter: the foreclosures that are gonna happen, but haven't happened yet. >> they're going to happen, because people did loan modifications which was only a band-aid on the problem. so guess who i'm out doing foreclosures on now? the people that did the loan modifications, and now they're being reset back to their old payments. >> reporter: and that's the shadow inventory that's out there and could flood the market? >> this is a whole new wave of what i see coming. >> reporter: a wave of people like david, perhaps. where has he been living since getting cash for his keys?
>> i got a store, i got a place to walk the dogs. >> reporter: a truck stop. >> they got showers in here, hopefully i don't get kicked out, but, this is where i'm calling home right now. from a house to a truck, this is where i'm at. >> reporter: this is economics correspondent paul solman, reporting for the pbs newshour from a truck stop in fort myers, florida. >> woodruff: workers compensation benefits have long played a critical role in the american labor market. simply put, businesses pay insurance for claims if a worker is injured on the job. the employee gives up the right to sue, but the employer pays medical costs and part of the wages while the worker recovers. but a new investigation by pro- publica and npr finds workers' comp is being substantially
eroded. over the past couple decades legislators in more than 30 states have passed laws reducing benefits or making it more difficult in many cases to qualify for them. states have also cut off benefits after arbitrary time limits. let's hear from one of the workers profiled. joel ramirez was paralyzed in a warehouse accident after a 900 pound crate fell on him in 2009. last june, his home health aide was taken away after the state of california passed a new law. his wife, lupita, gave up her job to help him, including with his personal hygiene. >> when he was walking before, he's very, very a strong man. ( crying ) even i said i couldn't imagine when i saw him like this. it destroyed my soul, you know. >> there was my mom here, but
she's 75 years old. oh, my god, i was trying to clean up, and i couldn't finish cleaning, and i said i can't even do it right now. how am i going to do it when i get older. m >> woodruff: let's look more closely at the impact of all this. michael grabell was the lead reporter on this for pro- publica. and reporter howard burkess of npr collaborated with him. welcome to you both. howard burkess, you listen to the story of joel ramirez, and you just wonder how could he get by? >> well, he had a very difficult time getting by. he didn't get enough in workers compensation benefits to replace the home health aide himself. it would have cost him about $500 a day to do that. he got barely more than that in an entire week of benefits. so it was a struggle. it was a struggle for the family. and there were times when he was left to sit in his own feces for hours because there was no one there to help him get clean.
>> woodruff: one of the consequences of being paralyzed was that he was bowel incontinent. michael grabell, tell us about the changes that have happened in workers compensation laws over the last few decades. >> well what states have done is really three things. they've cut benefits. they made it harder to qualify for workers comp benefits by raising legal standards. and they've also created a number of hurdles to getting medical care. so what's happening to these workers is very quickly, they're seeing lower benefits and they're seeing exactly the financial downfall that workers compensation was supposed to prevent, or they're facing-- they're having to battle for years in these administrative courts to get the medical care, even prosthetics in some cases that their doctors recommend. >> woodruff: howard burkess why are so many states moving to cut workers comp? >> well, there are a couple of things that have occurred.
one is medical costs have increased so dramatically over the years. but the other thing is we've had a couple of recessions in the last 15 years, and states are competing with each other fiercely for business, and one of the things that businesses complain about all the time is the cost of workers compensation insurance premiums. some businesses are self-insured. it's the costs that they pay workers when they're injured on the job. and so there's been what some people have characterized as a race to the bottom. as businesses complain about these costs, they go to lawmakers in state capitals around the country and say, "this is one thing you can do to help us compete with the next state." and, of course each state is dropping costs, is lowering costs so there's this competition to be lower than the next state, even as they continue to cut cost glooz. >> woodruff: michael grabell so workers are paying less than
they used to for workers comp? >> right, despite the drumbeat for complaints of workers comp, we looked at the data and a number of studies show that employers are paying the lowest rates that they've paid for workers compensation insurance since the 1970s. and there's only a few states that are paying anywhere close to what they were paying in the 70s. and the other thing is that insurance companies are also doing well. in 2013, they had an 18% profit on the workers comp line, which was their best year since the 1990s. and if you look at the comparison of how much workers comp eats up of an average worker's paycheckit's small compared to how much health insurance and retirement costs have been rising. >> woodruff: i have another example. this is a man who was injured on the job, in this case oklahoma. he hurt piz back lifting heavy rubber material putting it on
spools. his name is john coffell. >> we live paycheck to paycheck. we have our budget set and anything that offsets the budget is going to hurt us severely. >> as soon as he got hurt, we went from being in a house with the kids and being a happy family to everything just falling apart in one swift motion. i mean, it really felt like somebody just shook everything in our lives and scattered it all over the place. >> woodruff: so howard burkess, this is not atypical for these individuals who are hurt, and what we've learned is there's a wide discrepancy from state to state in terms of how much people get for the kind of injury they have. >> oh, yeah. and this is really apparent when you talk about catastrophic injuries like arm amputations. so we looked at-- we visited with two workers, for example both living near the
alabama-georgia border. on the alabama side of the border the worker who lost his arm in an industrial accident looked like he would get maybe about $48,000 maximum, in his lifetime as compensation for his injury in weekly payments and compensation for the loss of his arm. but just across the border in georgia, the worker there who had a nearly identityical injury and an arm amputation, nearly identical age at the time of his injury, he'll get somewhere in the neighborhood of $700,000 more over the course of his lifetime. that's if he doesn't go back to work. and the difference is that in alabama it's considered a partial disability losing an arm. in georgia it's considered a catastrophic injury, something that is going to affect you for the rest of your life. there are dramatic differences from state to state, and that's what some people see as the inherent unfairness of this system. but for the state line one
worker might be taken care of. another might be in financial ruin. >> woodruff: michael grabell just quickly, is there any move under way to try to even this out around the country? >> well there's been some attention from the federal government but-- and osha but obviously, these are state programs, and the federal government has very little control over what states do. there's a little bit of a push with the-- they're concerned about cost shifting to things like social security disability and medicare to perhaps address those problems. but hopefully, our stories will shine some light on this and create some attention. you know lawmakers told us if they the stories that we pointed out are a pattern it's something they wanted to take a look at. >> woodruff: and finally michael grabell, you both were telling me that there's a constituency for business arguing for these changes in state legislatures but no real constituency representing workers. >> yeah one thing that we heard over and over again, you know
is businesses seem to have the ear of the legislatures making these changes, and there's really no constituency for the future injured worker because most people don't think about getting hurt until it happens. >> woodruff: michael grabell and howard burkess, it's a very powerful series of stories. we thank you both. >> ifill: since the the turn of the last century p.t. barnum has been known for spectacle, big top shows, and elephants. but the animals' treatment, often criticized as cruel, has been the subject of ever widening lawsuits and scrutiny. today, ringling brothers & barnum & bailey circus bowed out of the fight, announcing that by 2018 all elephant performances will end. ringling's parent company owns 43 of the pachyderms-- 13 still touring and performing in 1,000 shows a year.
the humane society was one of the animal rights groups pressuring the company. its president, wayne pacelle joins me now. many of us have been to the circus and we don't see what the problem is. what's the problem? >> well, there's what happens in the three rings but really the big story and the backstory is what happens to animals that are in training, where they're coercively trained. they're dominated sometimes hit with bull hooks which is a broom handle with a sharp metal object at the end of it. they're often on chains for 20 or 22 hours a day. and they're really sent on box cars, on railroads to 100, 115 cities a year. so they're going from detroit to milwaukee, to minneapolis. that's no life for an elephant. these are highly intelligent, sociable animals. in the wild they migrate 40 miles a day. they live with the mothers and grandmothers and babies. un life on a chain to do a silly stunt, i think a lot of
people question in 2015 whether that is an appropriate activity. >> ifill: now the humane society has been part of this legal complaint over the years. there are now only 13, as i just said, of these elfants performing. it seems that this is more symbolic than having an actual effect. >> well, there are a lot of issues we work on that deal with lots of animals. when we deal with factory farms and the confinement of animals in gestation craits or outlaw cockfighting, this is a small number of animals but very significant for us, because ringling brothers has been a strong adversary for the humane society. they have fought us at the local level, state level and federal level, and i thought, frankly this would be one of the last groups to fold in terms of exploitative practices. i think the "black fish" documentary about seaworld was a big moment in having people reflect on whether we should be
keeping the most intelligent wild animals in small tanks or three-ripping circuses. >> did the circus concede any mistreatment in folding, to use your terms. >> in today's announcement they said their customers began to really question about what was going on with the elfants. >> ifill: they said they didn't want to go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction fighting different battles but i didn't hear them say, "we admit we were abusing these elfants." >> i think they explicitly said many of their customers were concerned about the treatment of the elfants. not to say. a specific incident of abuse but should elfants be used to do stunts when she's are the biggest land mammals in the world. they are so smart. 22 hours a day on chains. this is not 1950 or 1900. this is a new era for consideration of animal displez 2018 it all ends. wayne pacelle of the humane society, thank you very much.
>> thank you, gwen. >> woodruff: stay with us, you won't want to miss our next reports. two lovable men team up in the holocaust survivor band. and, breathtaking images of ice caves. but first, it's pledge week on pbs. this break allows your public television station to ask for your support. and that support helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> woodruff: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we take a second look at the backlash underway against same- sex marriage, which is now legal in some three dozen states. one example is in colorado, where one bakery owner says the state should not force him to cater gay weddings. hari sreenivasan takes a look at the ongoing legal battle between religious expression and equal
rights. >> sreenivasan: colorado baker jack phillips estimates he's made 5,000 wedding cakes since he opened his shop masterpiece cake shop 20 years ago. >> i just like everything about the baking business. with a wedding i get to know the bride, the groom, if i can. you know, as much personality and things as i can. >> sreenivasan: while his portfolio of wedding cakes is vast there's one cake the baker refuses to bake. phillips will not make a cake for a same-sex marriage. >> it's a cake i don't do because of my christian faith. >> sreenivasan: deeply religious, he says he'll bake for same sex couples not just the wedding cake. >> part of me goes to the reception and in this case that part of me doesn't want to be represented in a ceremony that i believe is unbiblical.
>> sreenivasan: that doesn't work for the colorado civil rights division. they say phillips must offer the same services to all customers regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, according to statute. an administrative judge ordered phillips to cease and desist his wedding cake policy. as the number of states allowing same-sex marriages increases, so, too, have the number of business owners refusing to provide wedding services. cases like a florist in washington state, a bed and breakfast in hawaii, a printer in kentucky, and a photographer in new mexico. >> we're on a collision course with homosexual rights versus rights of conscience. >> sreenivasan: nicole martin is representing jack phillips in a case before the colorado court of appeals. it began when phillips refused to make a wedding cake in 2013. >> jack declined because of his
religious beliefs about marriage, not because of who the complaintants are. >> sreenivasan: the complainants are colorado couple charlie craig and david mullins. >> your mom and dad gave me a giant hug. >> sreenivasan: craig and mullins made it official by getting married in 2012. at the time, same-sex marriage was illegal in colorado so the couple traveled to massachusetts where they married surrounded by friends and family who made the trip with them. >> they celebrated us and the people who had come together for us. and i feel like those are the fundamental things that everyone wants in their wedding. >> sreenivasan: the couple then planned their reception in colorado and went to masterpiece cake shop to look at cakes. >> we sat down with the opener jack phillips, opened the book of ideas and almost instantly he asked us if the cake was for us. we said it was. and he told us that he would not
make a cake -- a wedding cake for a gay couple. what followed was an incredibly awkward pregnant pause before we got up and left. >> sreenivasan: jack phillips describes the meeting in much is the same way. >> i said, i'm sorry, guys i don't do cakes for a same-sex wedding. at which time they stormed out. >> we were mortified and embarrassed. the fact charlie's mother was there, you don't want your mother to see that. >> it hurt me and made me feel i was not worthy. >> being told and treated unequally makes you feel like a second-class citizen. it makes you feel like you matter less than the person standing next to you. >> sreenivasan: craig and mullins filed a complaint with the colorado civil rights division. amanda represents craig and mullins. says jack phillips' faith doesn't allow him to refuse services.
>> it's always been in america you have a right to believe what you want and practice your faith. that doesn't go so far that means that you can practice your faith that exclude other people from public life and cause harm to other people. >> i don't see not baking a cake is causing anybody harm. there's a bakery across the street that would make it for them. >> it's not just about the cake. what we're talking about here is access to public life, and the same law that says a bakery as a retail business can't discriminate also applies to all sorts of other establishments open to the public, everything from banks to hospitals to parks to hotels and motels. >> sreenivasan: nicole martin agrees the debate is about something bigger. she says it's a first amendment issue. >> this case is about the government forcing jack to
express a message that is deeply at odds with his convictions. >> i feel like i'm discriminated against. the u.s. constitution first amendment clearly says congress shall pass no law for an establishment of religion or for exercise of it. >> filling an order for a customer is just that. there are all sorts of ways he could communicate if he country agree with the messages involved in creating a particular order. >> would you come up with side veggie? >> sreenivasan: craig and mullins says this led them to speak out in a way they wouldn't have before. >> we strongly support the right for people to believe whatever they believe in their hearts, but a bakery is not a church. it is a place of business open to the public, and if you are in a business open to the public, that is governed by civil laws and not religious laws. >> sreenivasan: jack phillips stopped taking wedding cake
orders till the colorado court of appeals weighs in on his case. meanwhile, similar cases have prompted cases in other states. i'm hari sreenivasan for the pbs newshour. >> ifill: now, a remarkable story of two men who live life to the fullest-- by playing music. it comes to us from the "new york times" video series, "op- docs." >> my name is saul dreier and i'm playing the drums. >> my name is with you wen ruby sosnowicz, and i'm a keyboard player on the accordion. >> the name of our band is, "holocaust survivor band."
>> "holocaust survivor band." >> i called ruby, and i said, "ruby, i have an idea." my wife says, you're crazy." my rabbi, "saul you're too old for it. what to you need it for?" i said "i got orchestra." >> there would be no one to play for everybody. >> i didn't believe that i'm going to be 89 years old and come out from retirement and playing drums with orchestra. it's true. it's true. somebody up there told me what to do. >> that's right. and that makes him alive.
>> my number was 84650. i was in camp with a very famous cantor singer. we were laying on our bed and he started to sing, and we would have no instruments so everybody was doing something else. we had spoons. >> we didn't have nothing to eat, but when we heard music, that make our life. >> and that made me to play
>> that's it! good-bye! let's get out of here. >> woodruff: heartwarming. and you can see more videos like that at nytimes.com/opdocs. >> ifill: finally, to our "newshour shares" of the day. something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too. tonight: the wicked winter that struck again today in at least 20 states has also left in its wake something quite beautiful: access to a rare natural spectacle in bayfield wisconsin. last weekend nearly 12,000 sight seesers at a national lakeshore put on their parkarchs strapped on their cleats and skates and set out across a frozen lake superior. their goal-- to witness dramatic ice-covered sea caves in and the sandstone cliffs lining the great lake. accessible by boat in warmer months, the caves can only be reached on foot when winter conditions create ice thick and stable enough to bear the weight
of visitors. it's a phenomenon that's only happened three times since 2009. still, once there, guests are privy to breathtaking views of icicles, ice crystals and even curtains of ice that appear to flow from the cave walls. >> woodruff: beautiful. again the major developments of the >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. a late-winter snowstorm covered a large swath of the south and northeast in a deep blanket of snow. schools were closed, thousands of flights were canceled and hundreds of drivers were stranded on two major highways in kentucky. it was reported this evening that actor harrison ford was taken to a hospital in critical condition following a plane crash. ford was flying the plane and the only person on board. >> ifill: on the newshour online, students at the hawaii academy of arts and sciences turned a problem into a class project.
>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll look at veterans in vietnam trying to heal the wounds of war. 50 years after the conflict began. >> ifill: for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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financial partnerships are best cultivated for the years to come, giving your company the resources and stability to thrive. mufg -- we build relationships that build the world. >> and now, "bbc world news america." >> this is "bbc world news america," reporting from washington. the u.s. ambassador to south korea is the victim of a knife attack. he is recovering after surgery. cut off by the fighting, civilians in eastern ukraine are desperate for peace, but have little hope that a cease-fire will hold. and taking aim at the taliban in pakistan. these female recruits are training to become part of an elite force, determined to be on the front lines of the fight.