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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  December 21, 2013 9:00pm-10:01pm EST

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>> welcome to aljazeera.com. president obama says the u.s. will try again to help americans get out of south sudan, a rescue mags had to be called off after service members were hurt. their aircraft came under fire. it's the scene of ongoing violence between the government and rebel troops. the teen shot in the head by a classmate in the colorado high school shooting died. 17-year-old clair davis was shot at point blank range.
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>> anti-protesters in ukraine are planning another massive rally on sunday. angry at a decision to back away from a deal with the european union. the u. >> a sombre anniversary 25 years ago today, a bomb destroying pan am flight 103 over scotland. at arlington national cemetery and around the globe mourners remembered the 270 victims. >> those are the headlines. i'm jonathan betz. "america tonight" starts now on al jazeera america.
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and good evening. thanks for being with us for "america tonight", the weekend edition. i'm joie chen. there can be no morp intimidating, isolating environment than the walls of the prison system especially for those wh whom disabilities is challenging. life behind bars for the deaf and disabled is difficult. al jazeera spent years making contacts within the prison community and deaf and disabled community to get an indepth look. we begin a report with the story of a deaf inmate's attempt to navigate the justice system and his struggle to survive in
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prison.
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>> there's no question that individuals with disabilities in prisons and gaols face a very scary life. we know from the research that's been done at the national level about prison rape and abuse that individuals who have mental illness, individuals who are elderly, individuals with a physical disability or mental disability are oftentimes targeted for sexual abuse and assault. >> it's laughable because it seems far out there, far fetched
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that we treat people the way we treat people in prison, not just the deaf, deafblind and blind, but anyone in the prison system in the united states is terrifying. >> i'm telela louis i'm the founder of heard helping the rights of the deaf. preventing deaf wrongful convictions and prison adduce. we have under 300 men and women who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing in our database. the percentage that has been raped is well above 80% - raped or abused in some manner it's mined blowing.
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>> i met felix in june 1998. i got a package, a little note
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said, "this is a charity case, see what you can do." i looked at the case, i started checking it out and it grabbed me. i said, "that will be my son, i will be his mum, i will be that person for him. he has been through so much without nobody. this is the box containing felix's trial. the attorney three times alerted the court and the state that his client could not understand, could not hear, and that he could not assist him in his trial. a sixth amendment violation. he didn't have an interpreter. he said, "i didn't hear the testimony." i didn't hear them say anything. he did not hear any witness
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testimony. an interpreter definitely would have changed the result. >> from the al jazeera investigative unit and the challenge of the disabled and deaf behind bars. we consider those that face the ultimate penalty that were wrongly convicted.
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the innocence projects have pursued a second chance at justice for many, including reg nald griffin, he was the 143 rld death row inmate to be exonerated since call tall punishment was reinstated. many more have died in a system where prosecutors have incentives to convict and politicians being tough on crime. >> reggie griffin thought he would never be free again. for 23 years he's been in prison, sentenced to prison for a murder he did not commit. >> i'm lost. saying, you know, it's a bad dream, i don't believe it, i know it's real. >> on death row reggie and his family waited as one by one his fellow inmates, 69 of them, were executed. how do you get ready to die? my
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mother will come and see me. she'd be like, us know, i don't want them to kill you. he's like mum, i haven't done anything. i know reality that i could be killed because i'm seeing people around me getting killed. in prison for assault, griffin was convicted of fatally stabbing another inmate at the center. one witness died before trial, another recanted his evidence. prosecutors knew that the knife was found in the hands of another inmate. prosecutors cited a conviction which was by another man with the same name >> do you have faith in the system any more? >> do i have faith in this system? very little okay, very
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little. >> it's a familiar story here. in the death belt, in the midwest. >> 123 have been exonerated, 18 by dna evidence - most people of cover. >> we are humans, we make mistakes. we don't listen very well to the clients. the prosecutors don't listen well to the evidence. >> you are implicating the prosecution, the system - judges, defense attorneys. >> police, all of us. >> with three decades of life lost, griffin is discovering the changes the years can bring - cell phones, cars that bring directions and is questioning the system ta seemed determined to kill him. >> me and a lot of other people are used as stepping stones to broaden people's careers. you know, like who is he, he's nothing to me. he can help me get where i want to go.
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so he's just a pawn in a big game. pawns are sacrificed. the odds are long. prosecutors are immune to lawsuits with few challenges. >> on "america tonight" some of the darkest days of our shared history. vicious attacks defying explanation and why so many wounds are still left open. >> it happened then, it's happening now with the murders and beatings and whippings going on. we would be terrified.
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on >> tonight we return to a dark time in american history and deeply painful wounds that may never be healed.
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vicious crimes - murders, lynchings, horrors that took place in hidden corners of the deem south in the civil rights area. to this day many crimes are unsolved, no one held to justice. a few years ago those cases were brought to life, if not to closure. we look at some of those shocking cases, with a report from al jazeera's andy gallagher. >> the archives of ferriday's newspaper is a mirror into the past. there are stories here some would prefer to forget. >> this is september. three nights before frank died. this is his advertisement. he ran it every week. >> the man that died was frank morris, a successful businessman who owned a shoe repair shop. he was well liked by the entire community. his white customers would oven
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let their children play in his chop. that, say investigators was reason enough for the ku klux klan to target him. in 1964 frank's business was set on fire. he was forced to stay inside at gunpoint. he was last seen running with his clothes on fire. four days later he died from his burns. >> all facts from not clear. stanley nelson spent years piecing together the evidence. what he found shocked him. >> the more you dug the more you realised there was some really bad people here, and that what happened then, if it happened now - murders, beatings and whippings, we would be terrified. >> what happened here is not unusual. across the deep south there are around 70 unsolved murder cases,
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most brutal and racially motivated. >> the lord will bridge justice. >> for people like robert lee that remembers frank morris, there's some comfort that his murder has not been forgotten. >> at least somebody see it, let's find out what happened to this man and who was responsible. now the world knows who frank morris was, knows what kind of person he was, and have some idea who were responsible. >> despite fresh efforts to investigate the so-called cold cases, it's unlikely many people will be brought to justice. witnesses are dying, memories fading. in ferriday the memory of frank morris lives on. for those left behind, that may be the only justice they get. >> there are unanswered questions about the murders that took place. across the mississippi clifton
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walker was killed. 50 years later his family is seeking closure. >> in the backwoods of mississippi, two sisters returned from a dark place to their childhood. >> we lost our father here. my mother lost her husband here. today is an opportunity to say, "daddy, we are still seeking the truth." >> in 1964 cathy and shirley's father clifton walker was driving down the road when ambushed by white men and shopped. these women were barely teenagers, but despite that, the first contact with the fbi was a letter saying they were closing the case. >> you handed me a letter saying you were closing the case, but never met with the family to discuss findings, interviews, concerning our father clifton
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walker. >> it's an outcome that doesn't surprise cold case reporter ben greenberg, and spent years investigating the walker murders. he says the fbi agents didn't have the resources or will to investigate the killing. >> this is an opportunity to wage the wore -- war on america's demands from the past. the opportunity to bring that to history is diminishing that. at the fbi headquarters we put the accusations to the man in charge of the cold case initiative. the aim is to prosecute. when that doesn't happen, he says the project is a success. >> in terms of putting the evidence together and the stories together. that we have achieved something historically. we have achieved something to tell the tale about what happened, and hopefully bring closure to the families of the
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victims. >> since the cold case initiative began in 2006, no one has been brought to justice. the fbi said they are confident prosecution will follow. for the walker family and others whose cases have been closed, there's an overwhelming assistance of disappointment, that they weren't taken as seriously as they could have been. for many in the deep south, cases like clifton walker's murder are an open wound, a reminder of a time many will forget. for some, it's a wound that will never heel. >> we can't say it's justice. it will never be served. >> justice has not been served. >> now on to detroit, where we have been reporting on the motor city's struggles with bankruptcy as it tries to figure out what valuable assets it can sell to pay the bills. this week it got estimates from
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christie's that its art collection was worth $877 million. >> a few famous pieces van go's self-portrait could fetch up to $150 million. and "the wedding dance", could go for $200 million. the director of the institute of arts explains how all the art ended up in detroit. >> well, it was when great works of art came on to the market at an enormous rate at very, very good prices, along with cleveland and philadelphia, cities that saw huge explosions in the industrial era, it relates an extraordinary moment in american history and a bringing together of cultures from all around the world. >> this week we spoke with robert de meshel that shared the
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history of art in detroit. >> it's through the efforts of lumber barrons, families, russell elder, james and george script, media tik ons. >> the big names of detroit. >> right. and charles frooer, part of the freier gallery from the smithsonian, he was a detroiter. and many others. you have the fords and fishers. rogers. >> going back to the turn of the last century, what was it in detroit that sponsored a great interest in art? >> i think the people that were affluent went to europe, saw the european museums and felt it was something they wanted to see here in detroit. so they collectively pulled together and acquired and kept acquiring and it was a tradition
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started in the late 1800s, and up through today. >> we may forget, though, that detroit was a wealthy place. >> yes, the growth in the detroit area was amazing, detroit as a city acquired places around it. its footprint expanded between the late 1800s through the "30s, taking on additional land from its growth and prosperity. >> what are the great names of artists who are part of this collection. >> in front of the museum there's ogust rodan, the thinker. he's thinking long and hard about what's going on inside right now. pablo picasso, van gogh, amazing works that are in there that are not available on the market.
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hopefully they do not come on the market too soon. these are artists, pieces coveted by the great museums of the world. >> yes, every museum in the world is watching. if they do come to the market, i am sure they'll be interested. hopefully they can come up with creative ideas where the art can stay put and they can solve the financial problems of the city another way. >> you are a detroiter, a third generation in the art gallery businesses yourself. it must be heart breaking for you to think about this choice for the future of your city or the future of its art collection. >> well, we prefer to stay here, a lot of people love the art in the collection and they are a fan of the arts and there are a lot of people around the sidelines who are involved. they want to see the arts stay put and are willing to offer ideas, solutions, towards a
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different approach. >> we will see what the resolution of all this is. that's an art gallery in detroit michian, thanks. >> ahead - is it a break with tradition. tough lessons for black colleges and universities, the fight to survive next. tñ
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>> >> the grambling state university football team received more publicity this year than it has in nearly three decades. how? by not playing a game. a player dispute there drew attention to a bigger set of problems. in recent years historically black colleges and universities like grambling faced mounting challenges in funding management and student recruitment, raising the question are hbcu relevant and should they be saved.
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sara hoy reports. >> it's the 40th anniversary of the bayou classic. a story match up between southern and grambling universities. the legendary battle of the bands gardeners as much attention as the game itself. staunch rivals, historically black institutions have competed in the bayou classic held in new orleans sin the '70s. the first of such grid iron bouts helped the playing fields for black collegiate athletes barred from other teams. this fall. grambling's team led for decades by college football's coach eddy robinson, made headlines for a
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different reason. players boycotted practice and a game, protesting the poor condition of the team's equipment and facilities - like mouldy walls and ceilings. this is a story about more than football. >> this is a story of a fight for survival for hbcus in a fast-changing landscape of high education. >> it was never solely football or never solely a white room or the floor in a white room or mould on the campus. >> gramling's campus says they pulled back the court hurdles we face are more public. i don't know of a hbcu including
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grambling that was equalry funded. at the re beginning or now we are not equally fumbled. >> according to a foundation study nine h b.c. us had the accreditation threatened since 2009. five closed permanently in the last 20 years. a handful of h b.c. u presidents ri signed, including sidney ribeau, a flagship hbcu, who left amid a downgraded credit rating and drop in enrolment. >> i think howard, the top hbcu, it has a ripple effect, an effect on every single hbcu. what howard does, so goes hbcus. and it's really important for us to continue to go what we - what
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we were built to do, serve the underserved and represent the under-represented. >> hbcus were created after the civil war to educate blacks prohibited to attend all-white institutions. until the mid 1960, hbcu were the only college options for most blacks. today they are steeped in legacy and tradition. 105 hbcu represent less than 3% of colleges and universities across the united states, they graduate 20% of all blacks earning undergraduate degrees. the financial unravelling put a spotlight on their survival it sparked with national conversation about their development. mairieboth gasman specialised in minority serving institutions. >> for some reason people say black institutions as
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segregation, but not historically white institutions that way. that's american racism for you, right. so what i typically tell people is they are absolutely relevant, and i can give you a great example. if you were to get rid of historically black colleges tomorrow you immediately have a huge drop in the number of scientists, black scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, pharmacists, lawyers, judges - because hbcu prepare students in those areas. >> gasman argues hbcu seek out students that would otherwise get left behind. >> many are taking val dick torians and students that are highly sought after. in many other cases hbcu are the country that we forget. detroit is good examples.
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students that others think it's too hard to educate them, that society gives up on. >> cel. >> a soto could have slipped through the cracks. she was among the growing number of lat een joes attending hbcu. she moved from dallas to tony leung chiu-wai. she worked at a fast-food restaurant before graduating high school. but paul quinn college found her and offered her a presidential scholarship. >> i don't have a social security number. my opportunities do be eligible for financial aid is non. if i have a scholarship, it is private, from the school. without paul quinn i wouldn't be here receiving an education and change my mind and people's minds to improve their communicatees, families and businesses and over all the country. >> soto's she is proud to be
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among the ranks in a historically black college. >> you see me right here. i'm not african-american. i'm hispanic. the hbcu are reshaping, bringing in a new phase, evolving from what they were and serving new minor ties. >> paul quinn college may offer a model for the way forward. >> we love our students. >> in 2007 when president michael sorel stepped on to the campus the school was on the verge of closing its door for good. >> for paul quinn to make it sorel knew he had to clean house. he tore down abandoned buildings, upped the entrance requirements, gated the campus and enforced a dress coe. then he did the unthinkable where football is reliageon. >> got rid of the football program. people make a big deal out of that because it was texas. we lost every game. it's not as if we were playing for the rose bowl. right. i'll never forget how angry the stupid got.
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>> the football team cost paul quinn $800,000, a hit the distressed college could not afford. >> this used to be the football field. >> it did. this is where the fighting tigers used to play their games. we converted it into a two acre organic form. as you look around it's a full-service farm. >> i see a scoreboard and a goalpost. did you forget that. >> we have a sense of humour. we left it up so people could be reminded of what it used to be. we don't want to the forget the past. >> the we over me farm symbolizes the college's dedication to a different kind of team. >> there's no glory moving someone from good to great. if i can take you from never believing you have a shot to be average, and inspire you to greatness - well, now you have
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done something that is worth any of being discussed, emulated and worthy of a legacy in the shoulders that you stand. >> one of the biggest hurdles for college presidents is despite dramatic strides in black living standards significant racial disparities exist. over the last 50 years unemployment and home ownership gaps between blacks and whites remain wide. put another way, blacks earn less, own less property and more likely to be unemployed. 71% of students at hbcu received programs, meaning they come from families earning less than $30,000. at paul quinn 90% have grants. now they have a six-figure surplus and for-sorel the challenge is not for cutting back, it's expanding. >> we are here. we are going to be here. our issue now, we are working most aggressively on figuring
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out how to get 2,000 of our kind of kids. >> at the classic, school pride is on display. with the winning team southern university mason isn't considering sorel's move to eliminate football, but he has to work hard on fundraising. >> the extra challenge pore hbcus is the weakest part of the higher education erred in a sense that we are an institutional institution. and we serve low income black folk for years. so it's difficult for us to generate wealth and we have not been able to accumulate wealth so when the tough times come and you need a cushion to get you through the tough times, you can wait for the better times, and it's hard for us to do that. >> if there's one thing the presidents fra op, it's that hbcu will not go down without a fight. >> at this stage in america's
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history we need as much human capital as we can muster. it's not just an issue for black people, but the people of america. we have more work to do. >> next up on "america tonight" a religious leader challenging traditions and leading the light of reform.
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>> at this time of year we pause to consider faith and fellowship and those that break ground to bring us both. here in washington "america tonight" met a spiritual leader who challenges assumptions and
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gives us reason to challenge our own. >> the beautiful thing about god is if you change your attitude and say, "god i need hep" and mean it sincerely, god there for you. >> it may seem like any number of muslim gatherings across the country. >> welcome to the light of reform mosque. >> conyes gants listen to a surman, followed by a prayer. there is something different about the man leading this service. my name is imam daayie axebdullah. i'm the director and educational director in washington dc. we are out there trying to make a difference. >> this imam is gay. believed to be the only openly gay imam in the americas.
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>> there's never been one monolithic isolated formulation of what islam is. >> he has been condemned, called twisted and perverted. some local imam's refused to greet him. >> being openly gay, i do get a lot of feedback and kickback, but that is okay. i have to have a lady in the front. when people are not familiar with things they tend to have an emotional knee-jerk reaction to it. >> during his service, women and men kneel side by side and women are allowed to lead players. >> we do not limit people by gender or sexual orientation or an aspect of muslim or non-muslim. they are there to worship and people when they feel welcome bring the best of themselves to it.
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imam was born and raised in detroit. his parents were southern baptists. >> i told my friend at eight that i didn't think the form of remagon was help. . they said it's not the issue of what faith, but that you should have faith, it's important to have a sense of faith to hold on during those difficult times. >> at 15 he came out to his parents. at 33 he converted to islam. as a game hand he saw that lgb team of unmet spiritual needs and became an imam to provide community support. his first act performing funeral rights for a muslim who died of aids. >> necessity is the mother of invention. that's why i came into this role. >> while many muslim religious leaders may not improve. in islam it's the congregation
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not religious authority that chooses the imam. >> in the islamic faith there's no hierarchy. there's a pope and various bishops, we don't have that. >> if you go to most muslim scholars. they'll tell you that there's no way around it, homosexual acts are not allowed in islam. >> this doctor co-authored a report on homosexuality and american islam communities. >> what we are seeing in the united states is a question of going back to showerses and re-reading the sources. the tradition was that homosexuality is a sin in muslim condition. >> on this night during the month of ramadan the imam organised a gathering of his community and provides other services unique for an imam of a
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muslim community, like marrying same-sex couples. he's performed over 50 weddings. >> how are you. welcome, welcome. >> the light of reform mosque is unknown for those familiar as the gay mosque. congreg ants say that's not all there is too it. >> a lot of us feel like we only had the choice to be muslim in name only and do what we want or leave the religion altogether because there was no place for us in the religion, and the first time i talked on the phone, i didn't know, i didn't know there could be a place like this. i didn't know. >> not all wemers of the congregation are gay. many are muslims, looking for a mosque that accepts all kinds. >> we wanted to have a mosque where a child is included and
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welcome. >> i think god is saying i can be gay, muslim and tend to people that are also gay and muslim and this is part of their identity. and islam may embrace all parts of their humanity. >> imam maintains there is room in his mosque for his kind of reliageo, that imam has a tradition of reform and renum. every 100, 150 years there's discussions and people that oppose these issues. it's not something i am just coming up with as a scholar, but something that has been in existence since time immortal. this is our relationship with god and each other that establishes our faith. >> and coming up in our final segment we switch gears to check
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in and wrack up the miles. the round trip and red eye of travel - when the journey really is the best destination.
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>> at this time of year a lot of us are travelling around, not always for the reasons you expect. instead of catching up with family and friends, this december some are catching up on miles, mileage runners are frequent flyers in limbo, a few thousand miles away from gaining or keeping their elite airline status. america's alan may went alodge for the ride. >> jared baumeister grew up afraid of flying. >> i did not want to fly at all. i skipped family vacations on occasions because i was so convinced i would die if i got on the plane. my father was an aviation attorney, dealing with plane
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cars. >> pan am flight 103. the 2001 attacks on the world trade center - dinner conversations in the jared baumeister home. it wasn't until 2009 that jared baumeister gave air tral a second chance. >> i went from here to asia, back to europe and back here, and realised that there was a huge amount of places in the world i wanted to see. a flight to chicago that i will take will be the 115th flight of year. >> like jared, steve moro was a mileage runner - not this runner. >> my fis mile run was back in the "90s, when pan amwas in existence. they were so poorly managed towards the end that essentially every other flight you did, they were giving away a free ticket. >> the new goal is status. goal, platinum and the
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first-class seats, luxury lounges and complimentary champagne that go along with it. mileage runners travel thousands of miles to earn status and turned routine business trips into luxury get aways. >> the difference in the seats to the back of the planes, sitting in an upgraded seat is huge. it makes the experience more tolerable. >> those seats come at a price - 25, 50 or 100,000 miles in a year, giving him one key status - the only level above him, united's exclusive global service status, but it's invitation only and steve moro has never been invited. worse, he's on the verge of dropping to silver, the lowest tier if he doesn't do something about it. >> i have not flown that many miles. i'm doing a last-ditch effort to get to gold to make the most of
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the miles i do have. if you don't have status and a lot of miles, it can - it's not as easy to use them. >> steve moro's global ticket, find the lowest ppm. price per mile. once you find the flight you get out of town. >> steve moro considered a complicated iteminry to singapore, tokyo, a trip getting him to platinum, but a good deal in december are setting him on a different course, to the tropical beaches of way ki ki. >> mileage is now a purist, five days on the beach make steve moro's trip look like child's play. >> you have stacks of boarding passes from the last couple of months. >> san francisco.
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san jose. houston. houston. >> yes, that was all that back and forth mileage. there was, like, 200 something bucks. la guardia, san jose and return. i have never been to san jose. >> internet blogs like flyer talk and the point guy help the runners plan their trips, but other websites are dubious. >> i found a route where i can fly from houston, new york and los angeles and back to houston on a saturday. it cost $550, takes 22 hours and i get 5,248 miles. >> you are a frigging idiot. >> some say this is crazy or extreme. >> i would fly across the country to get miles. >> i agree, it's not pleasurable. >> the extreme frequent flyers are a lot like clooun -- george clooney's character in "up in
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the air". >> you have to fill me in on the miles >> this year loyalty has gotten pricier. starting february 1st, delta reward flights cost more files per trip. united is increasing the number of miles required for upgrades, to destinations like europe. we see this as a devaluation of hard-earned miles. >> now i'm cashing in miles and trying to burn as many as possible because starting on february 1st of next year they are devaluing the program. >> you're breaking up with unida. >> i don't want to do it. >> how many miles do you have to burn. >> close to 800,000 piles. >> incredible. >> just a few more things to pack and gerard embarks on a mileage run, running through the
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last of his files. >> got a flight from new york to chicago, and then you connect from there to tokyo, flying from there through frankfurt, stockholm. i haven't finalised my return yet. >> we've paid $92,000 in taxes. fly miles are great. >> with that, jared baumeister is off to laguardia where we take off on the first of eight legs around the world. he was gracious to invite us to the lounge. since we didn't have our own miles, we headed to newark. will his one-case status give him the upgrade to a sleepy pod and first class.
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>> that's a lot better than me stuck back in row 31, with the laptop, headphones and individualized council. jared baumeister on the other hand started his trip in a wide first-class seat and the flights kept getting better. >> i'm the only person in first class. let's hope that holds up. >> there are eight seats in first class. the only passenger today. pretty much hit the jackpot. the service has just started and it is true champagne and kav ya time. >> i'm not sure if you can hear me. it's 12:50. we are at - in tokyo. 6:22am. i'm on the red-eye express so i can catch my flight to frankfurt and sweden.
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it will be a long day. >> it's 10:55 we took off heading to frankfurt. i'm able to travel in first class. it's awesome. >> it's 2:30pm german time. i'm in the first class lounge in the cigar lounge complete with bar. >> so far on this trip i have glen 14,791 miles and it brought me to a dark winter in sweden. >> jared baumeister runs down the last of his miles in the dark, it 11 hours in economy plus brought steve moro halfway to gold. >> we made it. >> it's a lot nicer than new york. >> you can say that again. it's a long time on the plane. it's an 11 hour flight. is it worth it to get that status. combined with the fact that it's
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a bit of a vacation, it is. >> the next time we saw steve he was on the beach swimming into the sun set, thinking about how to get into the first class seat on the ride back home. >> clearly those guys have plenty of time on their hands. >> that's it for us on "america tonight." if you want to comment on the stories you have seen, log on to the website. aljazeera.com. go there, you can meet the team and get sneak previews for stories you are working on and tell us what you want to see. join the conversation with us at any time on twitter or at the facebook page. goodnight. we'll have more "america tonight" coming up tomorrow.
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>> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm jonathan betz with tonight's top stories. president obama says the u.s. will try again to help americans get out of south sudan. an earlier rescue mission had to be called off after four american soldiers were wounded. their aircraft came under attack. >> the teen shot in the head by her classmate in the colorado shooting died. clair davis was wounded at arapahoe high school. fellow student karl pierson had gone to the school looking for a teacher and randomly shot davis. he later killed himself. anti-government protestern

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