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Officer Charges with Aggravated Assault for Shoving Drunk Woman; Who`s Watching You? New Questions about NSA

Aired November 4, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight shocking video finally leads to the arrest of a veteran cop. Here`s Officer Michael Hart leaving court after posting $75,000 bail.

This is the shocking video that prosecutors say clearly shows the officer violently shoving this drunk woman face first into a cement bench in a jail in a Chicago suburb. Tonight, we`ve learned this officer is finally being charged with aggravated battery a full seven months after the incident. And tonight we`re asking why did it take so long to charge him?

Look at this. It`s disturbing. We`ve got to warn you. Look at the injuries this woman suffered. She says her face was shattered by that shove. She says it broke her eye socket, cut her cheek, loosened her teeth. But tonight I`m asking a provocative question. Is she really a pure victim or did she in some way bring these horrifying injuries on herself because she was out there driving drunk? We`ll debate it.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live. Thanks so much for joining us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look straight ahead. Look straight ahead. Right here at the camera.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hurled her face first into a cement bench.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a good cop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also under the care of the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, straight ahead. Look at the camera. Look at the camera.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Criminal charges clearly were warranted. It actually makes my stomach tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would see this and you would go, "Holy smokes."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It all happened in a holding cell after 47-year-old Cassandra Feuerstein was arrested for driving drunk. Now take a look at her as she is booked. Cops say the petite 110-pound woman resisted the booking process as her mug shot was being taken right there. She didn`t look into the camera.

Soon after that, surveillance video shows Officer Hart hurling her face first into a cement bench in a holding cell. The woman`s face literally split open. And you will be able to see, as we talk about this story, the pool of blood that followed from that. She needed a metal place to replace her shattered bones.

Officer Hart has been stripped of his police powers and placed on administrative leave. His attorney says he needed to do what he did and that this surveillance video doesn`t tell the whole story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a good cop. I believe we will see that the complaining witness resisted a lawful order of a police officer. It was appropriate to get her to be in a lock up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think? Appropriate or excessive? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to our fantastic Lion`s Den, the debate panel. Tonight, initially, Lisa Bloom, legal analyst,, this officer did not suffer any disciplinary action. He remained on the job as if nothing happened.

Then the woman filed a civil suit. Then people started signing a petition demanding he be fired. Then the media got involved. We covered this story last month, and now suddenly, voila, the prosecutor`s office is saying criminal charges were clearly warranted. What`s wrong with that sequence of events -- Lisa?

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: You know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are saying, Jane, we`re judged by how we treat the least amongst us. I mean, sure this woman should not have been driving drunk. She should not have been resisting the officer, if she was. Although I don`t see that at the beginning of the video.

But even if she was, police officers are trained to deal with people like that every day. People who have bad behavior, who are not cooperating with them, who mouth off. People should not do that, but they should not end up with stitches in their face, their eye turned red, and this kind of injury. You know, we don`t beat people up as a punishment for DUI.

So I`m glad this is finally getting the attention it deserves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Officer Hart, a 19-year veteran, was not the arresting officer. He was helping out with booking process. The state attorney says the officer became irate when she repeatedly ignored his command to look at the camera lens, and that happened before this. So we can show that -- so he could get a mug shot of her. So did Officer Hart have a violent temper tantrum?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Criminal charges clearly were warranted. When defendants are in a police station, yes, they are there, they are under the control of the police. But they`re also under the care of the police, and we believe that Officer Hart stepped over that line.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: See what you think about Officer Hart`s explanation of events. Look closely. We`ve slo-moed this. The officer insists, OK, there`s the booking area. He`s trying to take a picture of her. It`s off in the corner. He says that she`s resisting. She`s not looking into the lens.

And then he adds that this woman resisted his orders to enter the holding cell and put up her arms on the side of the door.

Now he contacted his attorney. He said when the dust settles you`ll see Officer Hart committed no crime, that he believes she lost her balance and fell forward into a concrete buttress because she was drunk. Do you buy it, Jon Leiberman?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: No. Well, look, there`s so many issues here, Jane. The first issue is that it took so long for this officer to be charged.

I mean, had this victim, this alleged victim that you`re looking at not filed a federal lawsuit and had her attorney not release this video, we may not be talking about charges in this case. That`s No. 1.

No. 2, it took officers a number of minutes to even respond inside of that jail cell to see if this woman was OK. That`s issue No. 2.

And No. 3 is, this officer was just put on paid administrative leave today. And that incident that we`re looking at happened way back in March.


LEIBERMAN: I don`t think there`s any denying that this was a good cop -- 19 years on the force, an unblemished record -- but something clearly set him off here, and it appears at least, according to prosecutors, that he lost his cool.

Yes, I think prosecutors are responding to public pressure because, what a coincidence. We did a story last month. There`s a petition and people are talking about at and suddenly charges are warranted. Why weren`t the charges warranted in march?

Now, Cops say they found Cassandra Feuerstein slumped over in her car in the middle of an intersection. She later pleaded guilty to a DUI. Listen closely as Officer Hart get more and more frustrated with this woman while trying to take her mug shot.


OFFICER MIKE HART: Look straight ahead, straight ahead.

Right here.

There you go.

Right here at the camera.

No. Straight ahead. Look at the camera. OK. You`re done.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my rant. And I speak as a recovering alcoholic 18 years sober, and I`m embarrassed to admit I did drive drunk on occasion, although I was lucky: I never got stopped. I never got a DUI. I can attest when you`re drunk bad things happen. Messes happen because you`re a mess. Clearly, if she hadn`t been drunk, she wouldn`t have been arrested in the first place. Now, if she hadn`t been drunk, she might have followed the instructions of the officer who was booking her.

So back out to the Lion`s Den. I want to say we have a very special guest tonight. I`m a huge fan of Marianne Williamson who is a spiritual adviser to millions, a best-selling author of, among many, many books, one that I think is pertinent here, "Healing the Soul of America."

Marianne, thank you for joining us. I want to get your perspective. I`m certainly not condoning his actions, but what I am saying is do we need to take into account the fact that she was driving drunk -- She could have killed somebody or many people-- and that she`s not a pure victim, that she`s a participant in something that went horribly wrong?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, AUTHOR: I think that`s just an outrageous way of looking at it. This is police brutality, if there was ever police brutality.

I thought the issue of violence against woman was settled. You could say that about any man who beats up a woman, well, he had a bad day, and it was really tough. We are a nation of laws. And that means that, if you commit a law [SIC] such as DUI, you get -- you get punished for that.

And by the way, I don`t think being too drunk to look into the camera the straight way is a law that would -- We don`t have cruel and unusual punishment. The idea that because the woman was too drunk to look into the camera, that this policeman had to right to shove her the way he did, he could have killed her.

So I`m sorry, the idea -- anything that even smacks of blaming the victim absolutely does not work for me. If she had a DUI, then she should be charged with a DUI, and she should be punished for that. But this, the idea that somehow, if a man beats up a woman and he`s a policeman, that he is less criminally liable than someone else is outrageous. And calling him a good cop, maybe he was a good cop before that day, but he was not a good cop that day. And I think there should be zero tolerance in this society for police brutality, period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I find your position extremely articulately expressed. What I was saying was -- this is kind of a 12-step concept -- is that we always have to acknowledge our part in things as alcoholics, even if it`s one-half of one percent. And all I was saying was, in that regard, none of this would have happened had she not been driving drunk. And when you do drive drunk you take the lives of many, many people into your hands.

So I`m not saying that condones his behavior whatsoever. But I am saying that on a big scale, it is a factor in the equation somewhat -- maybe not legally, maybe not even morally -- but in terms of, well, it being part of the equation.

And I just want to throw that out to Lisa Bloom, because I know you`re a big advocate for women`s rights and women`s issues, as well. I speak from a unique perspective of being a recovering alcoholic. There were a lot of stupid things I did. I could have killed people. I could have killed myself. And thank God -- knock on wood, one day at a time -- I don`t have to live that way anymore.

BLOOM: Right. Jane, I appreciate what you`re trying to do. You`re trying to take some individual responsibility, because that`s part of the 12-step program.

But listen, I`m a huge fan of Marianne Williamson. And she`s absolutely right on this one. Let`s assume that this was a couple at home. The wife is drunk. The husband comes home and beats her. You wouldn`t say, well, she`s partly responsible, even a half of one percent responsible, because she`s drunk. If a man is beating a woman, he is 100 percent responsible. There is no excuse for violence against women. None, zero.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon, do you want to jump in?

LEIBERMAN: Jane, yes. Because...

BLOOM: Especially not police officers, who are trained to deal with people like this.

LEIBERMAN: I agree with Lisa. The point of the matter was this woman was held responsible for her actions. She was found guilty of DUI. So that`s a completely separate issue. She was totally held responsible for her role in this. That doesn`t mean that she deserves what you just saw.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. All I`m telling you is, once I sobered up, crazy messes and drama-rama really dropped in my life and that when I drank, horrible, crazy things would happen. And it`s -- you know, after a while I stopped playing the victim, because I realized that I had a role in it.

And luckily I was very -- I was a very lucky drunk. I never even got a DUI. Like I said, I was very lucky. Could I have killed somebody? Yes, I could have, and I think about it all the time.

Very quickly, we are going to move on to another controversy. I love to disagree. The NSA mess, the lies, the spying on our pals, and the president had no idea? Really? We have special guests ready to duke it out. Stay right there.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that`s why I`m initiating now a review the make sure that what they`re able to do doesn`t necessarily mean what they should be doing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shocked that the NSA would do this. Perhaps a violation of law but certainly a violation of mission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama unaware as U.S. spied on world leaders. On the problems with the Obama care Web site, the answer was again the president was not informed.

OBAMA: There`s no denying it. Right now, the Web site is too slow, too many people have gotten stuck, and I am not happy about it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re not alone, Mr. President. Just in case we wanted more proof that our government is broken, morally bankrupt and misdirected, the unfolding U.S. spying scandal shows the NSA, the National Security Agency, is a pinata filled with toxic secrets now being busted open for the world to see.

The NSA has -- get this -- 35,000 employees and spends more than 10 billion of our tax dollars a year spying on not just our enemies but our friends and ourselves. Maybe we should have put all of those high-tech U.S. spies to work building the Obama care Web site. Then it probably would have worked flawlessly. Yes, great idea.

Given that the NSA is able to monitor the cell phone conversations of allied leaders, like Germany`s chancellor, Angela Merkel, given that "The New York Times" now says the NSA spies were bragging about intercepting the talking points of the United National secretary general before President Obama sat down to talk with him, you`d think they could get a Web site up and running that was supposed to help millions of Americans. But no.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den, where I`m delighted to be joined by Sally Cohen. Thanks for coming on the show. Dish fire, track thin, polar breeds, these are code names for secret NSA programs that can do a whole bunch of things: tap into nearby computers, store years of text messages, grab information on millions of credit card purchases, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So isn`t it a sign that our government is messed up, screwed up, when it can do all that, but it can`t get a health care Web site to work?

SALLY COHEN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I completely agree with you, Jane. This dates back a long time, before just the Web site, to the fact that our government, like it or not -- I happen to not like it -- has invested for generations, across Democrats, Republicans, bipartisan investment in the national security state, in private contractors, in beefing up the Department of Defense, the NSA, you name it, and not invested in things like Medicaid and Medicare and our general infrastructure for health and human services and to provide services to help keep people healthy in this country.

This is what happens when you have that massive capacity with the NSA and you know, this sort of dawdling and dwindling capacity to actually help Americans.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is a saying that I`ve always liked, and I`ll repeat it: power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. These NSA spying programs, in my opinion, are run by arrogant people who feel accountable to absolutely nobody, and they`re part of a vast secret permanent government, permanent bureaucracy and they lie to us. Remember this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds or millions of Americans?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can kind of tell he`s lying because of the way he`s like, he`s like, "No, sir, no." I mean, you can just see from the body language.

And you know, he ended up getting spanked for that. That was the NSA`s top spy, and he had to go back and apologize later because he was lying.

Marianne Williamson, again, I admire so much what you do, bringing spirituality into the everyday world. You`re running now for U.S. House of Representatives. Why did you feel the need to jump into what is the realm of politics? You`re a person who deals generally in spirituality. Do you see that it needs some spirituality, politics?

WILLIAMSON: Well, I think these distinctions are pretty artificial at a certain point. No matter what we do, we`re all citizens in this country. No matter what we do for a living or what we care about, the dismantling of democracy is relevant to all of our lives. And this NSA spying is an example of this dismantling that`s going on right in front of us.

If you have to have a warrant before you can search my house, I think you should have a warrant before you can search my Facebook account or whatever I have -- not my Facebook, my personal e-mails.

So I think that this issue of spying on Americans, spying on people around the world is so egregious and is so huge a transgression upon the very bedrocks of American democracy that I think I`m one of millions of Americans who feel that we just can`t keep our mouth shut any more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent. And there`s a lot of reasons why -- if I`m in a public place, I say put the cameras on. We could catch predators; we could catch kidnappers.

But if I`m at home or if I`m doing something personal, I have that right to privacy as a American citizen. I don`t want to be tracked, and I don`t want all my e-mails read. Go ahead, whoever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Marianne.

WILLIAMSON: It`s beyond what we want. It`s what we are constitutionally guaranteed. Either we`re a free society or we are not.

And you`re not a free society if the government can look at anything that you`re saying or you are doing any time. You know, we should just then have that debate and face what`s going on here. Are we willing to say, "OK, free society we don`t really need it"? This is more than just your opinion or my opinion, what we want. This is about whether or not we choose to be a free society.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. And we`re going to continue this debate on the other side. We`ve got some callers lined up.

And I want to talk about how the justification used all of the time is terrorism. Is that carte blanche to do whatever you want? Stay right there. This is important. Every American needs to discuss this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our nation takes stopping terrorism as one of the most important things.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. How do we do that? Because we stand for freedom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that. But I think what you`re saying is that in these cases what`s the decision? Where`s the discussion, and what tools should we have?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the director of the NSA being heckled, and of course, he did cite terrorism, but should it be carte blanche to do anything with that one word and what exactly does that one word mean?

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Debbie, California, what have you got to say, Debbie?

CALLER: Hi Jane, love you and your show.


CALLER: I feel that what we`re doing about the spy situation is absolutely needed in these days and times. Look at us all around us. All kinds of things happening, and I think it`s needed. I 100 percent agree with the government that this is needed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let me -- let me put you on hold there and bring in Sally Cohen, political strategist and commentator. Look, terrorism is a very broad word. It can mean a lot of things. I mean, you can turn around and say, because I`m an animal rights activist I`m an ecoterrorist. Like that. OK?

COHEN: People have said that. People have said that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. People have said that about me?

COHEN: Well...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Be that as it may, I`m sure they have. I mean, that`s what`s so scary.

COHEN: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is one person`s activist is another person`s terrorist. Sure, we want to stop people from killing innocent Americans, absolutely. The New York Marathon just happened this weekend, and because of that horror at the Boston Marathon, it was a security overload, and I was like hallelujah, yes! Let`s protect Americans.

But that`s different from invading people`s e-mails when they have nothing to do with terrorism.

COHEN: Well, and also, Jane, you know, the sort of word "terrorism" has become this kind of expanding catch-all through which we then kind of out of fear -- and that is what`s being manipulated here, our fear -- because 9/11 is still in our recent memory, the government then uses it as an excuse to do pretty much almost anything. And I think that`s part of the outrage that`s lacking in this case, is because we still think, oh, well, it must be in our best interests. It must be necessary.

Well, who`s to say exactly how many of our liberties, our rights, our privacy do we give up and sort of trust the government that they kind of are doing the right thing with it, that there are these real threats and we actually don`t know. I think it`s time we start to dial some of that back and find that balance again and stop just letting our fear give over to this sort of unbridled security state.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marianne Williamson, what is so great about America is that we can express ourselves. We can have opinions, unlike Russia, where they locked up Pussy Riot; unlike China, where if you`re a dissident, who knows what`s going to happen to you. And yet all of this espionage could impact our freedom of speech.

WILLIAMSON: Yes. Well, let`s not kid ourselves. Let`s say you feel so upset about something you say, "It makes me want to start a revolution." Well, you don`t mean literally that you would start a revolution, but some NSA spy machine, they have these catch words. And so they see that you mentioned the word "revolution," you mentioned the phrase "I might start a revolution." Well, if we all know that we`re being spied on like this, that somebody is reading all our e-mails, it starts to have a chilling effect on our expressing ourselves.

And so I agree entirely with what Sally said. I can`t remember if it was Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin who said something like any people who are willing to give up their -- their freedom in order to have security will end up with neither.

So this idea, you know, we think only in other countries do these terrible things happen. But I`ll tell you something. In both of the topics you`ve done here tonight, whether it`s a policeman -- you know, policeman throwing a woman like this, this is police state stuff.

When you`re talking about this kind of NSA spying, don`t kid yourself that we`re some free society and Russia is not. You know, this is way too reminiscent to me of things that we did associate with the world during the Soviet Union. And I think America needs to wake up to this.

COHEN: Completely agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree, too. And I will say that the government says, "Oh, no, we`re not reading your e-mails."

COHEN: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But then again the NSA guy just admitted that he lied to Congress.

On the other side, if you`re a parent you`ve got to see this. It`s super important. I mean, super important.


JAMIE OLIVER, CELEBRITY CHEF: The families that I`ve worked with that have massive problems, they don`t not love their kids. They love their kids. They know that they`re all obese, including themselves, and they know the problems. They`ve seen all the statistics, but they don`t know -- haven`t got the tools to sort of shop or cook their way out of it, really.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girls who develop early may be envied by their peers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puberty is now starting about four months earlier for some girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big question is why? What`s the cause of early puberty? According to a new study reported in pediatrics, weight has a lot to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Environmental toxins and weight gain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their bodies may be maturing where their mind may not be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s possible environmental chemicals are triggering hormonal changes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Moms and dads out there, listen up, this is something that has to stop you in your tracks and make you fight back, ok, fight back against the unhealthy high calorie junk that is being pushed on our precious children.

A shocking new study shows that girls who are obese are more likely to go into early puberty. Let me spell it out for you. About 17 percent of American kids are obese. Those obese girl, we`re talking about young girls, may start developing breasts more than a year before their thinner friends. This could happen as early as the second grade. Ok?

The CDC, Centers for Disease Control is saying it. One doctor put it this way, body mass index is the single biggest factor in the onset of puberty. Worst case scenario we`re talking about very overweight girls starting to develop breasts when they`re eight years old. Ok, that`s a crisis my friend. They`re already starting to develop new products for this new batch of consumers like kiddy sanitary pants.

It`s time to ask ourselves how do we stop the madness?

Straight out to the "Lion`s Den" and Dr. Ian Smith, author of "Super Shred, the Big Results Diet". This is a crisis. How do we as a culture say hey we`re in crisis mode now? Moms this isn`t about you know, my little girl likes (inaudible) than the other. This is about you`re the parent and your child will go into early puberty and develop breasts way too soon, a half a decade too soon if she becomes obese -- Doctor.

DR. IAN SMITH, PHYSICIAN AND DIET EXPERT: Well, you know, Jane, for a long time, you know, I`ve been making the argument, as others have been in the diet and nutrition field about the dangers particularly of childhood obesity. We always talk about heart disease and high blood pressure.

Now another study is another reason why we`re telling parents you`ve got to do something about your child`s waistline and the level of activity. Listen, if you look at historically speaking we have seen girls particularly -- and some boys -- but particularly girls they have been having early puberty since about the mid-1800s. So there`s been an increasing amount of girls having early puberty.

One study has shown that the last ten years almost double the amount of girls are having earlier puberty. Why is it? Some are saying that it`s the hormones in food. So that`s a very controversial issue. Is it the hormones in milk or hormones in meat? But a really big issue, of course, is obesity. Why? Because fat cells actually produce estrogen and they can store the estrogen and that of course can lead to early puberty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So fat cells store the estrogen and the estrogen is the hormone that leads to early puberty. Very well explained, Doctor. Look, I don`t need to tell you. We all know obesity is an epidemic. Just step outside -- ok.

It causes heart disease. It causes diabetes, stroke and now this seven-year study followed 1,200 girls and confirmed what people have speculated for years -- ok. Childhood obesity is linked to early puberty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Body weight tally has a lot to do with why we`re seeing girls have their period early and really mature earlier. We know that the more fat cells a girl has, the more likely they are to have excess estrogen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a serious issue. What`s causing it? That`s the big question. Nobody knows for sure. Now some people are worried, they think well, maybe it might be connected to hormones being fed to animals. Now the FDA says "People are not at risk from eating food from animals treated with these drugs because the amount of additional hormone following drug treatment is very small."

On the other side, one doctor tells he believes even a tiny amount could affect prepubescent girls because they`re not producing hormones themselves.

I want to go back out to the "Lion`s Den". I want to bring in Susan Levin, director of nutrition education for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. What say you, Susan?

SUSAN LEVIN, PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE: Well, I think that it`s multi-factorial and I agree with Dr. Smith that it`s just more bad news about our really bad diets which is obesity causes something else. It causes early puberty. But I think a bigger deal is it causes heart disease. And they`re more than killer. It causes type two diabetes. It causes cancer. This is just something else to add to the list.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it`s horrible, it`s all bad. Here`s my rant. And don`t take my word for it, ok. You can look this up on the Internet. The Public Interest Research Group did a study called appropriately Apples to Twinkies and it concluded the vast majority of the crops subsidized by the USDA end up in junk food.

The study said, for example, the government spends $17 billion -- with a b -- subsidizing agriculture that went into corn syrup -- high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, soy oil but it spent just $261 million -- with an m -- tiny fraction subsidizing apples and even less encouraging vegetables like spinach and broccoli. So this is why healthy food is often more expensive than junk food.

I got to go out to Sally Cohen. This is a political issue. This is a prime example of how the U.S. government`s agenda is that of the big lobby like Big Ag.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is what upsets me. None of this is discussed. We`re talking ad nauseum about the skyrocketing cost of healthcare. We`re talking ad nauseum about Obamacare, but we`re not talking about the government that wants to set up this program to give us health insurance is the same government that`s making us sick in the first place.

COHEN: You`re exactly right. Let me make two points about that Jane. First of all you`re exactly right. For too long agriculture policy in this country has been run by the giant agribusiness, these big factory farms, the ones that stick hormones in their animals and the ones that put high fructose corn syrup in our food.

It`s not just that the kids aren`t eating well, it`s not just that parents aren`t doing their job. It`s that the food we are making as a country is getting less healthy, is making fat.

There`s another dynamic. We`ve known about this early onset puberty problems in black and Latino girls for a very long time. The reason this particular study I think is getting so much news is because now they`re saying oh look, it`s affecting little white girls like my daughter too.

But you know, the reality is food policy in this country has been hurting low income communities and poor communities of color for a very long time and we haven`t been worried about it. Maybe now we`ll actually to worry if it`s affecting our little white kids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. Yes, well, first of all, I always this. Latino isn`t a race. We`re all colors of the rainbow and that`s what`s wonderful about the Latino ethnicity. And so we`re not -- I don`t like people being put in boxes. I`m always opposed to that.

But let me go out to the phone lines -- other than that I agree with you, Sally.

Dianne, Missouri --

COHEN: I`ll take it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- your question or thought -- Dianne, Missouri.

DIANNE, MISSOURI (via telephone): Hi, Jane.


DIANNE: I`m not surprised at all but I`m surprised that we`re surprised. I do feel like it`s the hormones in the processed foods our kids eat and the lack of activity. Kids don`t go outside and play like they used to. So I think it`s a host of issues but I do believe strongly that it`s what the animals are being fed that we in turn are buying and feeding our kids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are going to take a very short break. Dr. Ian Smith we`re going to get to you right on the other side. This is an important issue. Parents, we need to discuss this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And a lot of this food that`s purchased, particularly in restaurants, fast food places is higher in fat content and sugar content and bigger portions than was the case 20 years ago. And I understand why all this happened. But the bottom line is that we`ve got too many kids, too overweight and they`re walking time bombs.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here is your Crazy Video of the Day and it`s crazy ugly. A Georgia man apparently playing with his lighter sets his wife on fire while he`s pumping gas. She turns into a fireball, ends up with second degree burns and third degree to her arms, legs, back and head. He was arrested end faces a reckless conduct charge. Unbelievable. Light a match at a gas station.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shocking. Shocking. But, you know, everything starts at home. So it depends on the parents. Parents have to take a little bit more responsibility in terms of what their kids are eating at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s terrible. I think it`s bad. I think we need to watch our kids` weight, our weight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you did a great job with your kids. Look how gorgeous they are. And they`re in great shape. Let`s take a look. Come on. Can I show? Wow. There they are. You`re doing a great job.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, a lovely lady there. She was horrified. Everybody I talked to was horrified.

Listen, Dr. Ian smith, there`s a whole school of thought that I certainly believe in. And it`s the government is creating this problem. They subsidize Big Ag, that`s what makes this food so cheap. It wouldn`t be so cheap, everybody wouldn`t be able to eat, you know, three burgers and two shakes at lunch.

SMITH: Well, Jane, this is a multi-factorial issue. First of all, if you look at early puberty, 90 percent of cases of early puberty are idiopathic which means we don`t know why they have early puberty. About 10 percent we know -- genetic reasons, environmental reasons, radiation, organic disease. These things can cause early puberty. So 90 percent we don`t know why.

But when you look at the 10 percent that we do know why and people talk about hormones in foods. The truth of the matter is that no one really knows whether or not the hormones in foods are actually being transferred to the young children and then causing hormonal problems or early puberty. That still needs to be studied better.

However, that being said, animals and other types of food products do have hormones, the FDA allows hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen to be put into food products and they theoretically, by the way, could be causing early puberty.

The other side of it is this, even household cleaners contain something called parabens. Parabens are called xeno-estrogens, they act like estrogen. You can find them in cleaning fluids, chemicals, cosmetics. So if you are buying things that have parabens in them, they can concentrate in a young girl and do the same thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this, Doctor, that`s why I use only household cleaning products that are totally, totally a cruelty-free and do not have a lot of harsh chemicals. Everything is biodegradable. I only shop at the health food store for everything. Very quickly, Susan Levin, what should we do? What should American mothers do and dads?

LEVIN: It`s really easy actually. If we can get our kids to focus on a plant-based diet we know -- research shows they`ll eat more fiber which pulls estrogen out of the body, less total fat, less saturated fat, more fruits and vegetables. They`ll be leaner, they`ll be healthier. Pretty easy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to thank everybody for joining us tonight. We`re not done. But I specifically want to thank Mary Ann Williamson. I just love hearing from you and you are a font of wisdom. I always learn a lot. And also Sally Cohen, thanks for joining us. And Dr. Ian, fabulous. Susan, you`re all the bomb. Thank you.

Up next, don`t go anywhere. This is a story you`re just going to have to wait and see. I`m sorry. I can`t tell you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to Shelby -- taking in the sun. I know what you mean. And Keiki -- taking a little snooze on that beautiful pillow. Don`t wake me up, please. Griffin, I`m ready for action and I`ve got my bandanna. And Iggy, Lillie and Gracie say, "Leave us alone we`re having a naptime and it`s very special." Beautiful.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, outrage over an American icon being slaughtered. For the first time in six year, horse slaughterhouses are open to business in the U.S. These slaughterhouses were shutdown by the government about six years ago. That ban was lifted a couple of years back. Since then animal protection groups filed a lawsuit charging that the government didn`t even conduct environmental impact studies. Ok?

But breaking news -- a judge tossed that lawsuit out, which gives these slaughterhouses the green light to start killing horses again. Now, a few years ago when they were doing this, 30,000 horses were killed in the United States. Ok? That year another 78,000 were sent to Mexico or Canada to be killed. These horses have continued to be sent to neighboring countries to be slaughtered over the past six years.

Two slaughterhouses -- one in new Mexico, the other in Missouri now have the green light to start slaughtering horses once again. We called for comment and we`re unable to reach either facility.

Straight out to Wayne Pacelli, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States -- Wayne, your organization was part of the lawsuit that kept these facilities closed for the last two years. What can American whose love horses do to try to stop this -- this slaughter? Massive slaughter of horses from happening again?

WAYNE PACELLI, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Jane, before we get to that I want to tell you, just on the way over here, we`re breaking this news right with you and with Headline News, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit just issued a stay. When we lost that case last week, we immediately appealed. So now the court has stayed it so these plants cannot open in Missouri and New Mexico.

And we`re going to do our best to run the clock out on them, because the Congress has defund language to bar USDA inspectors from being at these slaughter plants, but the Congress has to pass its annual spending bill.

But Jane, the broader issue is we need the Congress to pass an authorizing bill to not just ban slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States, but also to stop the live export of American horses to Mexico and Canada.

You said in your set up piece, tens of thousands of horses are now being shipped from the United States to our North American neighbors. These horses were never raised for food. They are jammed on to trucks that are too small for them. They`re going a thousand or 1,200 miles in some cases -- all for what. For some little slab of meat? You know, it`s just wrong and we need the Congress to stop this killing of an American icon. None of these animals are raised for food.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are people`s pets. These are racehorses. These are riding horses.

PACELLLI: And they`re all -- they`re full of drugs, Jane. You know, if you`re racing a horse or if you have a pleasure animal, you`ve giving them anti-inflammatories, you`re giving them other drugs. All of those drugs are prohibited for human consumption. You`re not allowed to do that with cows or pigs and this is going on with horses. They have no knowledge of what has been injected in these horses yet they`re going to the slaughterhouses and then being shipped to France, Belgium and Japan.

For me, America should not be a gathering place for horse meat killer buyers, which is what`s going on in the United States.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Once again, the news is broken right here with Wayne Pacelli who runs the humane society of the United States saying that their appeal, the Humane`s Society`s appeal is now stopping again these plants, and I personally hope they remain stopped. This is not -- you know, America wouldn`t have gotten to where it was without horses.

We`ll be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for your Slice of Happiness. Who says you can`t teach an old dog new tricks? Just try telling (inaudible) thirsty little dog, who figured out a way to turn the bathroom sink into her own personal water fountain. I love it.

Nancy Grace is next.