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tv   NBC Bay Area News Special  NBC  December 29, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PST

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you're watching an nbc bay area news special, "reality check." >> immigration is in the crosshairs of american politics, with critics accusing president obama of violating the constitution. but is he doing anything his predecessors haven't done? >> i think there is a bit of a scare mongering that is going to make this more impactful to california than it really will. while gas prices congress to plunge across the country, the oil industry says it will boomerang right back up and then some in california. there any truth to that claim? and oakland once again nabs the
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crown of united states's crime capital. >> we are being watched all the time. the phone we carry, the online service we use, especially if it's free. >> and in the data-driven world, it possible to go off the grid even forejust a day? finally, one of the biggest storms to strike the bay area in years, swallowed up cars and roadways. but could it clear uber's threshold for emergency? we take a look at the riders. you're watching a special edition of reality check. good evening and thank you for joining us. i'm sam brock. for the next 30 minutes we'll take on a number of high profile claims and vet them for accuracy. because that's what "reality check" is all about. using data to separate the truth from the bunk. let's begin with a pocketbook issue that is impacting virtually all americans, gas
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prices. the price you're shelling out at the pump is at record lows. here in california and across the country, gas prices have been plummeting for months. but the oil industry is now warning california drivers not to get too comfortable. they say prices are going to soar in 2015 because of a new state law. is that fact or fiction? that's what we wanted to find out. chasm california drivers are accustomed to high prices. but oil producers claiming prices could skyrocket by as much as 76 cents a gallon starting in 2015. this true? >> this is very much an extreme and very unlikely scenario that gas prices would go up anywhere that much. >> reporter: dr. mark thurber is an energy expert at stanford university who believes gas prices will go up modestly in 2015 thanks to california's landmark cap and trade program. you see, so far the program is taxing producers we commonly
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think of as polluting the air, energy companies like pg&e industrial plants like cement and glass manufacturers with their iconic smoke stacks. but the largest source of greenhouse pollution comes from the transportation industry. and kicking off on january 1, fuel production will be capped as well in california, which means you and i and other californians will see an increase at the fump the climate change law isn't modified. but thurber says the 76 cents a gallon jump organized by the oil industry is borderline ridiculous. and here is why. >> so a 76 cent per gallon increase in gasoline prices would be associated with about a $95 per ton of co2 price on carbon. >> right now it's $12? >> right now it is $12 per ton in california. >> reporter: in other words, the price of carbon allowances in california would have to go up eight fold for this claim to turn out to be true.
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survey says -- >> i think there's a bit of a scare mongering effort to make this seem like it's going to be much more impactful to californians than it really will. >> so what kind of boost can you expect in prices? energy economists are predicting a 10 to 12-cent increase per gallon which amounts to roughly $4 more a month for the average driver. the reality is that's money lost out of your pocket, but it's not 76 cents a gallon, which would be more like $40 a month, a sizable difference. meantime, cheaper fuel impacts a long list of industries, not the least among them airlines. if you're traveling this holiday season, you might be wondering why am i paying the same amount or more for flights. there's a rhyme and reason. actually, there are several. in the craze to safe a buck or two at the pump drivers often have to look long and hard. but not these days where no manic search is necessary. the average gas price in the u.s. as of mid-december, $2.48 a
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gallon, something consumers haven't seen in more than four years. >> every penny drop in gas prices leads back to a billion dollars pumped back into the economy in terms of discretion near income. that's a huge amount of money. >> reporter: but this holiday travel season many people will cough those savings right back up in the form of pricier plane tickets. nbc news asked fare compare to crunch the numbers. a flight from detroit to san francisco this winter costs on average $591 compared to $50 a year ago. seattle to dallas was up to 403. up from $347 last year. and washington, d.c. dulles to l.a., $464 this year up from $411 last year. so why is the cost to fly moving in one direction and the price of fuel moving in the other? >> the reason is quite simple. the industry is flying full at these prices. it could not generate more revenue by reducing prices.
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>> this is robert w. mann a former american airlines exec turned industry consultant who spoke with us by skype. he says we live in an era of consolidation. there are only three main carriers american, delta and united. he explains instead of using savings to bring down airfares, the companies are buying new planes, rewarding employees better and rewarding shareholders. >> when the cost of coffee bean falls, you don't expect coffee to cost less. you expect them to invest in their product. >> reporter: airlines couldn't keep prices propped up if the consumer didn't have the money to spend. >> what's different every time is customer goes and fills up the car, they have an extra $10 in their pocket. every time they fill up their heating oil tank this winter, with heating fuel will have an extra $100 in their pocket. some of that is likely to translate into increased demand for air travel. >> and there is another key
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point to make here too. many airlines bought their fuel contracts before gas prices fell, meaning they're not saving as much money. as much money. still some members of congress remain unconvinced. earlier this month new york senator chuck schumer called for a federal investigation into the high cost of flying. we have much more fact checking on the way, including recent reports that oakland remains california's crime capital, but what do the fbi numbers suggest? >> what i have in this stack are bills that could make a difference to a struggling economy today. >> some members of congress claim 300 bills have been bottled up in the senate a historic roadblock. that true? we'll be right back.
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welcome back. in the run-up to midterm elections that they won handily, republicans launched an entire ad campaign around the idea that a democratically controlled senate stopped 300 worthy bills from being passed into law. in a couple of day, republicans
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will assume complete control of the congress. should we expect them to run a more productive senate one that doesn't leave hundreds of bills to die? history reveals a surprising answer. >> you have to look at history over the last couple years. the house was extremely productive in passing legislation. and as we all know, bills started to stack up in the senate. >> reporter: these remarks made by former house majority leader eric cantor on "meet the press" mirror a national campaign run by republicans. it's called #stuck in the senate. and it blames democrats for holding up some 300 bills passed by the gop-led house. >> what i have in this stack are bills that could make a difference to a struggling economy today. >> reporter: that number might actually be lowballing it. on house majority leader kevin mccarthys a website you'll fine 387 bills. could what is in there? we pored through the documents to find out what future laws are getting trapped in legislative limbo. let's see. there is this measure to stop
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the smuggling of contraband cigarettes. a couple of bills to strike commemorative coins, one to award golfer jack nicklaus a gold medal. to be sure, the list contains meaty issues too like requiring a balanced federal budget and a measure to strengthen our cybersecurity. so this 300-bill number, it fair inflated or a little bit of both? >> there are a lot of different kinds of piece of legislation that have been stuck in the senate. some of them are certainly substantive. and the substantive ones are actually quite important, whether it's issues around jump-starting economic growth through the keystone pipeline is one example. and then there are probably others that are less significant, naming post offices, battlefields. >> reporter: lonnie chin is a research fellow at the hoover institution and a policy expert. he helped us grapple with this question. what does 300 bottled bills mean especially when "the washington post" reports of the last 20 congresses 11 were more than half of them according to this graphic have left 300 plus
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bills awaiting senate action under democratic and republican leadership? >> part of it is the inaction which may not be unusual. but part of it is the tone and the nature and the way in which the senate has been run. i think people attribute that to harry reid whether fairly or not. he was the majority leader so he bears some responsibility for the tone of the discussion. >> reporter: and reality is this. it's not historically significant that 380 plus bills went unaddressed in the senate. more than half of the last 20 congresses did the exact same thing. and some of the congresses were controlled by a single party which you would think would make it easier. can republicans and president obama discuss and agree on big ticket issues like immigration, tax reform and energy? that is the meaningful question to be asking here. well speaking of immigration, it's been at the center of political bickering since the election. president obama followed through on a promise to delay deportation for millions of immigrants if the congress failed to act. critics say he has abused his
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executive power and violated the constitution. we investigated that claim. the subject of immigration reform has lit a fire across both sides of the political aisle. >> republicans had more than two years to draft a bill and a year to schedule a vote on the senate bill. and i do not see one scheduled today, tomorrow or next week. >> i can't think of anything more discouraging that the president of the united states could do than what senator mcconnell mentioned. and that is threaten to issue this executive amnesty order which disregards the law. >> reporter: but whether you think the president has overstepped his bounds or the congress has failed to act, one thing that is not disputable is the history of presidential executive action on immigration. and here are the fax. >> i believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though some time back they may have entered illegally. >> reporter: three decades ago under the leadership of president ronald reagan, our government passed a sweeping immigration reform law.
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as a result almost 3 million undocumented immigrants gained legal status but not many of their family members. reagan deemed the circumstances unfair and took executive action to protect those families. fast forward now a few years. >> our nation is the enduring dream of every immigrant whoever set foot on these shore and the millions still struggling to be free. this nation, this idea called america was and always will be a new world. our new world. >> reporter: former president george h.w. bush picked up where reagan left off, acting in an ear live similar manner to the president today. bush took executive action, shielding an estimated 1.5 million people from deportation, again mostly kids and spouses of those seeking legal status through the 1986 law. bush's move affected about 40% of the undocumented community in the u.s. at this time. okay. now fast forward 25 years to
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present day. >> if in fact congress failed to act, i would use all the lawful authority that i possess to try to make the system work better. and that's going to happen. >> reporter: president obama followed through on his promise and will grant what's called deferred action to up to 5 million people nchlts million people, on this case largely parents on behalf of their kids. it is almost the exact same number of bush. to be clear, three presidents republicans and democrats using executive order to make immigration changes. as we just showed you, this kind of executive action on immigration is not unprecedented. still, some republicans are pledging to shut down the department of homeland security which oversees immigration issues. but as the congressional research service recently reported during the 2013 government shutdown all homeland security employees kept working because it was considered, quote, essential.
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this special edition of reality check is far from over. up next oakland's reputation as the most crime ridden city in california put to the test. what happens when you factor in all kinds of crimes. plus -- >> we are being watched pretty much all the time. >> if it seems you can't escape tracking anywhere these days you're right. is it possible to go a single day without leaving a digital footprint? we're going to give it our best shot, coming up next.
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the 2014 fbi crime report is out, and it spawned headlines from news outlets all over california. claiming that oakland wins the title for most crime heavy city in the country outside of detroit. but is oakland getting a bad rap? we dig deep into the data to get a fuller picture of crime in california. [ siren ] >> reporter: for some these are the sounds and images that come to mind when thinking of oakland. >> violent crime is going down across the country, but not in
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oakland. >> reporter: so it likely surprised few when news outlets labeled oakland california's most crime ridden city last week on the heels of national numbers. but do headlines tell the real story? we jumped into the figures to find out exactly what crime looks like in oakland and the rest of the bay area. the headlines come courtesy of the fbi's latest crime in the united states report. and when it comes to violent crime rate oakland does in fact rank first in california. step back for the 10,000 foot view, though and it starts to look like a regional trend. the top ten cities in the bay area with the highest violent crime rate are all situated in the east bay, with two exceptions, east palo alto and san francisco. property crime rates tell a slightly different story. using that category emeryville is top with oakland ranking eighth and san francisco 12th. and for the bay area's most populated city san jose you have to scan well down the list 159th in california.
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the bottom line, there are a lot of numbers and criteria to take in here. so we decided to add up violent crime data and property crime data to figure out which city really contains the most crime overall in the state. and it turns out emeryville is above and beyond the most crime ridden city in the state. its overall crime rate is twice that of the second and third most active cities eureka and oakland respectively. while oakland does grab the headline emeryville actually sees the most violent activity. for a look at your crime rate in your city head over to nbcbayarea.com slash reality check where we have compiled a more detailed list. now to say that oakland doesn't have a crime problem would be far from accurate. it came in third out of more than 350 cities in california. but when it comes to total crime, it does not have the worst problem, the less per capita. that distinction goes to the neighbor city of emeryville. coming up we look into a story that struck a real nerve
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with bay area riders. as roadways flooded and schools shut down during storm-geddon, did uber fail to hold its definition of emergency and take advantage of its riders? and plus going off the for a day. we tackle the challenge of trying to live off the grid for a day.
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if a 16-hour hostage situation in sydney a few weeks ago rattled plenty of nerves but the crisis also cast a negative light on uber which initially charged drivers extra to escape the emergency. that is certainly an extreme example. a recent storm-geddon prompted questions about whether unabomer is violating its own policies on pricing. it was by nearly all accounts an unusual bay area weather event. trucks slushing through swimming pool highways vehicles stranding with drivers climbing out of car windows. residents displaced from their homes. an emergency? the ride sharing company uber
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didn't think so allowing prices to jump up to four times the normal rate. uber says the higher prices attract cars during times of need in line with the company's business model. but transportation industry-backed group who is driving you slammed uber for allegedly breaking its promise to shut down surge pricing during local emergencies. so who is telling the truth? here is the reality. following uproar over uber's search pricing during hurricane sandy, the company announced a new national policy shown right here on its blog that outlines how, quote, uber's algorithms will be capped during disasters and relevant states of emergency. except the rates weren't capped during the bay area storm. to be clear, dozens of school districts closed school the day before. major roadways shut down and many companies canceled work. all activities that they tell us is indicative of emergency preparedness. so why didn't uber consider the
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event an emergency? that's the question we specifically asked the company and received the following response. quote, the uber app was created to give riders a safe reliable option to move around town. and dynamic pricing makes it possible for uber to meet that standard for reliability, even during times of high demand like increment weather. so while everyone treated the storm as an emergency situation because the state of california didn't officially declare it as such, it failed to meet uber's standard. and uber did strike a deal with new york state about what constitutes an emergency. and that does include stressful weather. but it only applies in new york state. now san francisco and los angeles are trying to strike a similar deal in court with more protections for consumers. now, as you know to use uber and countless other apps you need a smartphone. but every time we use our phones we're leaving behind a digital footprint that companies can trace. so can you go a day without being tracked? we decided to give it a try. in a year dominated by
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revelations from edward snowden about the data the nsa is secretly collecting online privacy a concern for many. now with the infusion of smart phones and smart technology into our everyday lives, the lines have been blurred between convenience and big brother. >> we are being watched pretty much all the time. the phone we carry, the online service we use, especially if it's free all of it has tracking on it. we pick up cookies when we go every place on the web. and any time we use our credit card, that activity is tracked. >> reporter: so in 2015, what does a data-free day look like? we tried to find out. first step driving to work. so long as you don't use gps to navigate fastrak to pay toll pandora for music, podcasts or radio satellite for entertainment, you're on track for a data-free diet. getting to work presents a whole new set of obstacles. like many people employed in the bay area, our building requires key cards for entry, key cards that transmit data about your
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location. that's just the start of the work-related data mine fields we encounter there is no real work around for logging on to our computers, using e-mail and getting information from our desk phones. all involve leaving huge traceable imprints. and these standard office tools are just the beginning. and when it comes to all the things we use our smart phones for, photo, texting facebooks, to keep lists, all of those create massive data trails that then get sent up into the cloud. back on planet earth, don't even try using your credit card for lunch. actually, don't use it at all as every swipe translates to a new data footprint. it looks like it will have to be a cash in wallet kind of day. want to watch a movie? trips to blockbuster or hollywood video aren't an option anymore. that model has been swapped out for netflix and rental kiosks both requiring your e-mail address, credit card and other information. what would seem like a data-free
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day in 2015 actually looks like a day without communication, work or the basic aspects of life we've become so accustomed to. internet access and smart phones in our palm and all the data that courses through them. and the idea of constant tracking has spawned a movement where groups are encouraging families to carve out times and put away their smart phones. but it's no easy task not the world we live in right now. if you would like to see more of our story, please visit our web page at nbcbayarea.com slash reality check. that includes this special edition of "reality check." we'll see you next time.
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hi everyone. welcome to "on the money." i'm becky quick. getting ready to ring in the new year with two with of the smartest guys in the room. the biggest disruptions from 2015 from the way you pay to the way you drive. walter isaacson weighs in. global hot spo what happens to oil, russia and europe next year and what it means to you. s our conversation with thomas friedman of the "new york times" and happy returns. what to do with the izod sweater with the strange size or the thing you will never use. "on the money" starts right now. this is "on the money," your money, your life, your future. now becky quick. >> those stories in judgment but first the stories in the headlines th

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