tv PBS News Hour PBS September 29, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the "newshour" tonight: president obama leads a meeting of more than 60 nations, come together to counter violent extremism, and try to dismantle the islamic state. then, volkswagen plans a massive recall of 11 million vehicles. we talk to a lead researcher who helped discover that the company rigged cars to pass emissions tests. and, a new play ripped from the headlines. anna deavere smith explores race and justice on stage. >> we've retreated into a kind of segregation and some people would say it's all part of this gap between the rich and the poor. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by bnsf railway. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: afghanistan's military fought today to take back a provincial capital, the first major city captured by the taliban in 14 years.
the militants stormed kunduz yesterday, in a major setback to the government. today, afghan troops and militiamen launched a counter- offensive, with u.s. air support, and a promise of more help, from president ashraf ghani, in kabul. >> ( translated ): afghan security force made achievements today in kunduz province. they have recaptured some parts of the government buildings. new reinforcements have reached kunduz and baghla and a battalion from the national army will get to kunduz soon. >> woodruff: the taliban disputed those claims of success, and later reports told of taliban fighters attacking the kunduz airport. in yemen, medical officials sharply increased the death toll from an attack on a wedding party to 131. they blamed air strikes yesterday, led by saudi arabia, against shiite rebels. the saudis denied it, and blamed ground fire from the rebels. video of the aftermath showed collapsed buildings and burned
wreckage, as onlookers gathered. it was the deadliest incident yet in yemen's civil war. president obama and cuban president raul castro met privately today on the sidelines of the u.n. general assembly in new york. it's the second time they've held face-to-face talks this year, as part of normalizing ties. cuba said castro pressed again to end the long-standing u.s. economic embargo -- entirely. president obama favors that move, but republicans and some democrats in the u.s. congress are opposed. the u.s. senate worked today toward a final vote to avert a government shutdown. the temporary measure would fund federal operations through december 11th. majority leader mitch mcconnell also called for a long-term deal to cover the next two fiscal years. meanwhile, house republicans were meeting to discuss strategy. california congressman kevin mccarthy is the favorite to replace the retiring john
boehner as speaker. >>i'm concerned about making a difference in everybody's lives. we want to make sure that we're closer to the people. that they feel this is their government, they're in charge and we serve them. now that's not easy and it won't change overnight, but that's our mission. >> woodruff: boehner resigned after running afoul of tea party demands to de-fund planned parenthood, even if it meant shutting down the government. for the first time, the head of planned parenthood, cecile richards, faced republican critics in congress today. they've attacked the group after clandestine videos showed officials discussing how fetal tissue is used for research. today, congressman jim jordan, and others, sparred with richards over stripping the group of its federal funding. >> the nice things about these videos is that they've lifted the curtain, we can now see what's going on there and that's why should fund the government and ship the money from this organization to organizations
that didn't do this kind of behavior. >> the outrageous accusations leveled against planned parenthood based on heavily doctored videos are offensive and categorically untrue. i realize though that the facts have never gotten in the way of these campaigns to block women from healthcare that they need and deserve. >> woodruff: republicans also accused planned parenthood of spending millions on political activities. richards said the group keeps federal funds strictly segregated from its political arm. the director of national intelligence told senators today he does not have high hopes for a new cyber agreement with china. it's supposed to prevent state- sponsored hacking aimed at businesses. but when james clapper was asked today if he's optimistic it will work, he said "no". he said economic sanctions might be better. and on wall street, stocks had a mixed session, one day after the big losses. the dow jones industrial average
gained 47 points to close near 16,050. the nasdaq fell 26 points, and the s&p 500 added two. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: more than 60 nations commit to taking down the islamic state. a closer look at russia's role in syria. anna deavere smith tackles race, justice and inequality, on stage. plus, much more. >> woodruff: world leaders met today at the united nations on ways to combat violent extremism around the world, especially in syria and iraq. newshour chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner is there and has this report. >> i have repeatedly said that our approach will take time. this is not an easy task. >> warner: today's acknowledgement came one year after president obama formed an
international coalition against the islamic state, with much fanfare here at the u.n. the u.s.-led coalition includes some 60 countries, about two dozen taking part in the military campaign. the president told the group he is ultimately optimistic, but the date of success is unclear. >> we have isil taking root in areas that already are suffering from failed governance, in some cases; in some cases, civil war or sectarian strife. and as a consequence of the vacuum that exists in many of these areas, isil has been able to dig in. they have shown themselves to be resilient. >> warner: indeed, this map, from the institute for the study of war last september, shows the islamic state's zones of control in iraq and syria. a similar map this month shows the group has made gains in central syria.
in iraq, islamic state still holds the major cities of mosul and ramadi, while kurdish and iraqi government forces have liberated kirkuk and tikrit, and stopped an advance on the iraqi kurdish capital, erbil. so far, iraqi government plans to launch new offensives have come to little. as for syria, cbs news now reports the pentagon is ending its $500 million program to train moderate rebels there. only a handful ever took the field. although a separate program run by the c.i.a. has had more success. kurdish fighters have been effective in iraq and syria but the politics are complicated. today, turkey's prime minister, a member of the coalition, made a point of saying the turks were also fighting turkey's kurdish rebels demanding autonomy. >> ( translated ): all of us, we must be vigilant. one terrorist fighting the other will not legitimize it.
we want our partners and friends to support turkey in its fight against all types of terrorism. >> warner: for his part, iraqi prime minister haider al-abadi urged greater support to build up his military and shut down recruiting for isis. >> warner: in fact, the u.n.'s most recent data finds a 70% increase in foreign recruits to isis from more than 100 countries. british prime minister david cameron addressed that >> we have to stop this process at the start, not at the end. so of course we have to win militarily, we have to have the political solution, we need all the propaganda i've spoken about, but also need to challenge the extremist world view right at the very start. >> warner: that appeal to beat back extremism was nearly universal at today's summit. but consensus on how to do it remained hard to come by. >> woodruff: and margaret joins me now from the u.n. margaret, welcome. you are in new york covering these u.n. meetings. that meeting that you reported on first, the anti-isis meeting, i guess you could call it, it
seemed a little flat in the video. what struck you? well, it looks like we just lost our connection with margaret warner, so unless we can get it right back, which it doesn't look like we can, we'll turn to our next segment, which is talking to two guests about what is going on in syria and the russian involvement. i'm just going to preface that by saying, as we've been reporting last month, russia started to beef up its military support to the regime in syria. it started sending supplies and equipment, even sending attack aircraft as this recent satellite image shows. so the question is: what impact will russia's intervention in the syrian war have, and what is really motivating president putin? for that we get two views, nikolas gvosdev is professor of national security studies at the u.s. naval war college. he has written extensively about russia. and table -- andrew tabler is a
senior fellow at the program on arab politics at the washington institute for near east policy. andrew tabler, to you first. why are the russians getting involved in syria? >> they want to prop up the assad regime. president assad only controls roughly 20% to 25% of his territory. he's been losing ground. and quite rapidly. russia was worried about a catastrophic collapse of the regime that could be taken advantage of by isis. that's why they're moving in on the surface, but there are other reason, as well, with russia's place in the region, it's asserting its power, and there has been some speculation that they're trying to get out of the debacle that they find themselves in, in the ukraine. >> woodruff: so more about propping up assad than doing away with isis? >> that's right. it seems based on their deployment, we see significant sea, air build-up with significant fighter aircraft and augmenting air fields and naval facility, it seems they're there
to support assad in the western part of the country. the question remains, will they play a constructive role over all of the country and how will they deploy vis-a-vis --. >> woodruff: we'll get into that. nikolas gvosdev, what exactly is russia doing in syria at the moment? what kind of material and men do they have on the ground? >> well, as andrew pointed out, they're putting in advanced equipment. they have a number of battalions arriving. they're reinforcing their port in tarutis. they're putting in both fighter aircraft. there are reports that long-range bombers are being readied in southern russia that could be flown over the caspian, over iranian and iraqi air space and then could conduct missions in syria. and i think we're seeing the russians positioning for two things. one is to help bolster the assad regime, but the other thing is to prepare a fallback plan, which is if assad cannot be restored to control over most of syria, the russians still want
to have a say in how syria will evolve in the coming years, and one way they can do this is by ensuring that assad, some of the christian groups have a secure enclave along the coast that then could be used as a bargaining chip with turkey and saudi arabia and the other powers for how the future of syria would go about. it's essentially to say that russia, too, has a voice and n a veto in what happens in the middle east and it's not just the regional powers or the united states that get to determine the future of syria. >> woodruff: andrew tabler, whatever the combination of reasons for their doing it, can they be successful? >> it's very difficult. the assad regime is crippled. an it willically this is where the united states and russia are in very, very different places. barack obama not a big fan of going into syria obviously. why is he betting on the opposition? because assad controls such little territory, because he's so rigid in terms of his political position and because he's been unable to turn it around and retake and capture all of this territory some the
russians are betting on a failed scheme, and that's the way the united states sees it. we'll have to wait and see if the russian intervention changes the calculation cloo into what to do. >> woodruff: nickname -- nick gvosdev how do you see that? do you think the russians have the capacity to make a difference? >> it depends on what you're trying to do. if you're trying to reestablish assad's control over all of syria and come wine all the group, isis, the non-isis groups so that assad is left in control of all of syria, that's very difficult. on the other hand, if the fallback plan is to start creating these safe enclaves both for assad but also for russian interests so the russian bases on the mediterranean are secure, that could be more doable because then you don't have to retake territory, you simply have to prevent isis and other opposition groups from expanding further. of course, the russians will have a much different set of rules of engage.
if and when they engage in combat in syria. they are much more prepared to use force and what we've already seen over the last few days, if some of these reports are to be credited, syrian government strikes have gotten more accurate, have gotten better. is that a case of russian intelligence and russian capabilities beginning to aid the syrian regime? we'll have to see, but if the goal is to keep assad in control of the syria that he has left, the russians are in a better position to do that. >> woodruff: let's talk right now, andrew tabler, about the u.s. in all this. how do you envision, if any cooperation, collaboration between the u.s. and russia? we know that's what president obama and president putin were to talk about, and we're going to come back the margaret warner in a minute about that, and is this something the u.s. should do? >> well, on the surface, there's been an effort to deacon flict the two military activities so pilots don't start shooting at each other, which would lead both countries to war over something like syria.
that's something nobody really wants. there's some convergence of concern over things like foreign fighters, on the break young of syria and hemorrhaging people and migrants and so on. the big issue, though, is that russia and the united states completely differ on an end state in syria. >> woodruff: on whether assad should remain? >> yeah. well, the u.s. believes that assad should step aside and has for four years. putin and russia now say that president assad must be the basis for a settlement, not that his regime would be the basis for a settlement. that's a big difference. >> woodruff: so nick gvosdev, how do you see that? how do you envision cooperation between u.s. and russia? is this something the united states should be even considering? >> well, in my own opinion on this, a lot depends on what the ultimate u.s. goals are, and, of course, we've sent very con flictsing signals. on one hand we appear the say we want to disengage from the region. we're reluctant to really put our own people on the ground or to really get involved.
on the other hand, as andrew has pointed out, we don't necessarily agree with the end state that the russians would want. this of course would also increase iranian influence in the region, as well, which is something that our strategy has worked to try to contain over the last number of years. so in some ways we have to set our own priorities first of what end state we would like and what we're prepared to do about it. what's also interesting, of course, is to see how other regional powers are beginning to assess the change conditions. you had prime minister netanyahu flew to moscow. you had president erdogan of turkey in moscow this past wednesday to have conversations with president putin. it's clear that the powers of the region are now beginning to reassess what their strategies are willing to be in light of russian involvement. >> woodruff: a lot of moving parts here all insta gaited by the move by the russians to get more engaged in syria. nikolas gvosdev, andrew tabler,
we thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: with that let's turn back to our chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner at the united nations. margaret, apologies. we lost you a few minutes ago. we were talking about that session this morning, the anti-isis session that was held at the u.n. how did you read that meeting? >> well, judy, you started out asking if it was flat. i would say definitely. that's an understatement. here you had president, prime ministers all around the table, and they were talking about, you know, what they've achieved. they didn't achieve much. instead they bemoaned how much isis has gained ground in their own countries, even with attacks or recruiting young people. they tried to analyze the problem. it had to do with internet recruitment. but they said exactly the same things they said a year ago. they said almost no real accomplishments. they didn't have any frank discussion about the fault with their own strategy and what they should do. they were all canned speeches.
amazingly, they totally ignored the elephant in the room, which andrew and nick just talked about, which is isis is based in syria. what are they going to do about the home base of isis, and that gets into this whole discussion about assad's future. and if the anti-isil coalition, as the white house calls it, insists, you know, that they're in the lead, to think they didn't even discuss this was astonishing to me. >> woodruff: let's come back to the meeting yesterday between the... first of all, the two speeches of president obama and president putin, dueling speeches you could characterize them, and then the meeting they had later in the day. what do we know about that meeting, and how did the atmosphere of what happened yesterday play into today? >> so, you easy, what we're told, it was still going on when you and i spoke last night. they were very business-like, frank. they certainly did have a stony
handshake at the beginning, but once we got in the room, they were certainly not warm and chummy. these two men don't like each other. there were none of the recriminations that this was your fault and this was your fault. half the discussion was about syria and what to do about syria. and they agreed on some common ground. of course, u.s. officials including john kerry what went on morning shows today tried to point to the positive. we agree isil is really a serious threat to all of us. the returning foreign fighters are really a threat to your country and mine and the whole region and all of europe. and that the ultimate goal, they said, was an integrated, secular syria, which i know many people think is now illusory. but they did not have any meeting of the minds on this future of assad. the one thing they did agree is that secretary kerry and foreign minister lavrov will continue discussions about getting a political process going, a
political transition going, and to me the big question is: can this be, as in the robb -- iran nuclear talks, where the u.s. and russia were able to isolate those talks and really work together to get that iranian nuclear deal, or will it be like the situation in ukraine, where it's so poisoned by the hostility or dislike or distrust really between presidents obama and putin that it will go nowhere? we just don't know. >> woodruff: margaret, very quickly, finally, where do you see this anti-isis coalition headed in terms of what it can get done? >> i think it was summed up by two people today. first of all, king abdullah of jordan said, if we can't work more effectively, we will all pay the price. this was a public meeting. late in the day, josh ernst, the white house spokesman was briefing reporters on air force one, they piped it in to us here, and he basically acknowledged that a year from now when they come back to meet here, this issue will still be
at the top of the agenda. so it's going to be a very, very long slog. >> woodruff: margaret warner continuing a long and productive week covering the u.n. meetings in new york. we thank you. and now, the scandal enveloping volkswagen. today, the company said it would recall 11 million diesel cars worldwide after admitting they had been rigged to cheat emissions tests. the company's stock price continues to plummet. last week, its c.e.o. resigned. and this week german prosecutors said they were considering criminal charges against him. william brangham has more on the unlikely way it all began. >> brangham: we take a closer look at how volkswagen got
caught, and what it all means, with one of the engineers who helped catch the automaker. john german is a senior fellow at the international council on clean transportation, a non- profit dedicated to improving vehicle emissions and one that provides research to regulators all over the world. so john german, i wonder if you would start off by telling me, how did this revelation come about? >> well, we were actually just doing routine testing. this is an outgrove of our work in europe. it's been known in europe for five to ten years that diesel cars have high emissions. we've been working with some other groups on. this we've done some testing there. and our director of our european office, peter mock, had the bright idea that we should test the vehicles in the u.s. and our thought was because the u.s. has the most stringent emission standards in the world, and because e.p.a. has a lot of legal authority and experience and do effective enforcement
that the diesel cars in the u.s. would be clean, and we would take this data back to europe and say, hey, they can do it in the u.s., how come you can't do it in europe. so we were as surprised as anybody when we got the results. >> reporter: volkswagen installed this software that turned on the emissions system when the car was being tested and shut it off when the car was out on the road and a regular driver was driving it. i understand there is a great deal of complexity in the computer systems in our cars today, but how does it know? how did the software know that it was being tested? >> there's no way for us to know exactly what v.w. did, but there are a lot of potential ways a computer can recognize that it's on a test. the tests are run in a laboratory and the vehicle is strapped down and run on some rollers. so it's stationary. the rear wheels don't turn, if it's a front-wheel drive car, the wheels don't turn. the steering rack doesn't turn because the vehicle doesn't turn, it's bolted down.
the test is always run at the same temperature. the test is us a run when the engine is cold. that's a start. and another way is that the test always follows a prescribed drive cycle, so whether it's a speed, every second is known and the computer can look for that, too. >> >> reporter: is there a concern in your mind that this could be a bigger issue than just volkswagen? >> yes. we have no data, we have no information that suggests that any other manufacturer has been doing the same thing, but it's the right question to ask, especially since the u.s. has the best regulators and the most stringent standards in the world. so we definitely think that government agencies worldwide need to investigate to see if other manufacturers are doing the same thing. >> reporter: in your mind, is this a sense of the fox guarding the hen house? i understand the complexity of these systems seem to me to
allow the car makers to get away with more and more nefarious activity. is that a concern of yours? >> it would be in any country that does not have good legal authority and enforcement. as you say, v.w. got away with this for a while in the u.s., but look at the repercussions once they got caught. and so it's just the sheer magnitude of the fines and penalties and public opinion that they will face is the real deterrent. agencies worldwide have to do enough to make sure there is some chance that they could get caught. >> reporter: are you confident at all that this, the blowback from this scandal will deter other auto makeers from trying to cheat like this? >> absolutely. and we already have other manufacturers scrambling to make sure that they're not accused of the same thing. >> reporter: john german with the international council on clean transportation, thank you
very much for joining us. >> you're welcome. thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: what's driving the high cost of prescription drugs. and anna deavere smith tackles race, justice and inequality on stage. >> woodruff: but first, the television news and documentary emmy awards were last night. we're proud to say pbs went home with 17 statues, more than any other network. the newshour won two. the first, for an investigative look at who's behind the chinese takeover of the world's largest pork producer. we partnered with the center for investigative reporting. and the second, dives into the dangerous underwater mines in the philippines. larry c. price traveled there to document the sometimes deadly way some poor filipinos are making a living.
here's an encore look at that story. hari sreenivasan narrates our report, produced in partnership with the pulitzer center on crisis reporting. >> sreenivasan: near a remote village in the eastern philippines, at a small camp in the forest. a man bites down on a plastic tube, adjusts his mask and disappears into water as opaque as chocolate milk. descending as deep as 40 feet, he breathes from a small diesel- powered air compressor on the surface, while blindly digging into the sides of a narrow tunnel. for hours at a time he fills bags with mud and rock that a partner hauls to the surface, where the sediment is broken down and, using mercury, panned for gold. according to thomson reuters, in 2012 the philippines was the 18th largest producer of gold worldwide. large companies are responsible for much of that, but there are
also many unofficial, small- scale mines like these. many lie in the poor coastal province of camarines norte, about 200 miles southeast of manila. where some of the country's highest concentrations of the precious mineral can be found. but much of it is trapped in ore underwater. so-called "compressor mining" originated in this region of the philippines as far back as the mid-1990s. the practice was inspired by fishermen, who used the motors to dive deep underwater to catch reef fish. but with the potential for engine breakdowns and tunnel collapses, it's an extremely dangerous venture. and one not limited to adults. pulitzer prize-winning photographer larry c. price traveled to the philippines for the newshour in november. there he spoke to 15-year old elias delima, who began diving when he was just 13. delima told an interpreter that divers get double the take of the other miners, around five dollars a day, and that's incentive enough.
>> ( translated ): why do you do this? why do you go into the hole and bring up the dirt? >> ( translated ): to get gold. to help my parents. and to have some money for myself. >> sreenivasan: dindo leche, now 25, said he began diving when he was 14. while he's no longer afraid, he says he knows the risks remain. >> ( translated ): it's dangerous. because we are extracting soil, the holes get wider and deeper. the soil loses natural strength. and it does not stick together and easily gives way. that is what we are on the lookout for underwater so you do not get buried. >> which is worse: when the compressor stops, or when the tunnel collapses? >> ( translated ): a tunnel collapse is more dangerous. but often, those two happen at the same time. that's what is called "your time to die. >> sreenivasan: compressor mining was officially outlawed in the philippines in 2012. in january of that year, near the town of paracale, an accident left at least three compressor miners dead. the site was shut down and quickly abandoned.
yet with vast stretches of poor, rural communities spread across some 7,100 islands, desperation is high and regulation is lacking. november's record typhoon caused billions of dollars of damage to the country. but it only stopped operations for one day in mambulao bay, where more than 400 work on some 40 floating bamboo encampments near the village of santa milagrosa. miners here say they pay local police $11 a month per worker to look the other way. many of those workers are children and adolescents. >> sreenivasan: julie hall works with the world health organization in manila. she says that in addition to the immediate, life-threatening dangers posed by an engine failure or collapse, the conditions also pose longer-term health risks for children. one is the poor quality of air fed to the divers by the compressor engines. >> it's likely that that air
that's sucked through the tube will be mixed with diesel fumes, with carbon monoxide, with other pollutants because it's very close to the engine that's driving the compressor. >> sreenivasan: the second is the effects on the body at those depths underwater. >> the body's under a lot of pressure, little gas bubbles can form in your bloodstream, and those gas bubbles can block off the blood supply to little bits of your brain or little bits of your lung. >> sreenivasan: and a third is the poor quality of the water they're diving in, susceptible to bacteria and parasites. >> so for somebody to be spending a lot of time to be breathing poor quality air, under pressure, under the water and exposed to all of that bacteria in these bugs in that dirty water, this clearly poses a significant health risk and >> when you're a poor family, the more, the more people you can convince to work and
contribute to the family income obviously the better. >> sreenivasan: carlos conde works for human rights watch in the philippines. he says that parents are typically the ones pushing their children into this dangerous work. >> often times they don't consider, for instance, education for the kids. although getting an education is a paramount concern for filipino families but, you know, particularly in the provinces, the really poor ones, it's just, you know, kids are seen as extra hands. >> sreenivasan: edlyn ortiz is 12 years old. girls like her typically don't dive. but they help with the panning and domestic chores that allow the family to work at the mine. she tells an interpreter that her family depends on her help. >> sreenivasan: why do you work in gold mining? >> ( translated ): to earn money so we can have something to eat. >> sreenivasan: what do you like better: going to school or working? >> ( translated ): i want to keep going to school, and in the end that's what will give us a
better life. >> these children are mortgaging their future, not of themselves only but of their families and communities. >> sreenivasan: lawrence johnson directs the efforts of the u.n.'s international labor organization in the philippines. he agrees that schooling is key to breaking this cycle of child labor. >> we see education as a way to help the next generation become more productive, to have a better quality of life. but it's also right now allowing for an environment where these parents can provide for their families and not just have to go out and mine just enough for today to survive. >> sreenivasan: in a country with so many desperate challenges, even before the typhoon, johnson says if people want to help stop this practice, they can start by being more conscientious consumers. >> whether we're talking gold or silver that we mine, it's a bulk commodity. so we ask consumers, are you sure that the ring you're wearing, the necklace are free from child labor? that's more difficult but it's up to consumers to start making
that choice again. >> sreenivasan: for now, the divers will continue to bear the risks, taking their dangerous plunges and grasping for gold. >> woodruff: now let's turn to the rising price of prescription drugs, and outcries to do something about it. the latest uproar began after the new york times reported how one company, turing pharmaceuticals, raised the price of a drug from $13 a pill to $750. it follows headlines about the rising costs of new cancer drugs, as well as a breakthrough drug for hepatitis c that initially cost more than $80,000 for a course of treatment. the two leading democratic candidates for president, hillary clinton and bernie sanders, are proposing big changes, including lowering patient costs and bigger discounts for medicare.
two views on this, now. dr. peter bach is the director of the center for health policy and outcomes at memorial sloan kettering cancer center. and dr. thomas stossel is the director of translational medicine at brigham and women's hospital and a professor of medicine at harvard medical school. and gentlemen, we welcome you both. dr. bach, i'm start with you. why is this happening? >> well, it's really that there's no system in place the hold down drug prices, and so companies are just becoming increasingly bold, charging prices that they think the market will bear. and turing pharmaceuticals and the 55-fold increase in the price of daraprim is just a version of a company testing the market, if you will, just how high they can raise a price, but we see it across drugs, rapid inflation in the cost of drugs, not only new one, but old ones.
>> woodruff: dr. stossel, how do you explain it? it's long been the case there has been no system for keeping prices down. why now? >> well, there still is no system, although people are asking for it. well, thank you for having me. so i've been in medicine for almost half a century, and it's incredibly better because of the drugs that are available. so drugs bring great value, there's no question about it. also, despite the fact there's been abuptake in costs in recent years, they still constitute less than 14% of total health care costs. now, in that 50 years, the price, the cost of what it takes to get a drug approved by the f.d.a. has increased 100 times. and if you're interested i can explain why i think that is. but it's that is what is driving. the only antidote to keeping innovation going is to sustain
profitability. now the turin case is an anomaly. that has nothing to do with innovation. that i agree is pure opportunism. >> woodruff: and we reported on that and we want to set that aside because we could spend the whole time we have with you talking about it. but just quickly, dr. bach, this point that it's innovation, these companies are taking a risk, does that explain the rise in costs? >> well, yes and. no it's unbelievably important that we get new drugs. we need more new treatments. we have patients who need help. but it isn't the case that the rise in costs tracks with extra burden. the truth is more drugs are being approved now, about 90% of new drug applications to the food and drug administration. there's only about 50% just eight years ago. there are more sort of detours around the regulatory process, single-arm trials, skipping randomized trials, shorter trials, so it's getting easier to get a drug approved. the reason is that it is
possible to charge very high prices. >> woodruff: i want to turn to both of you on this question of how badly patients are being hurt. dr. stossel, i read a quote, i mentioned the democratic candidates for president are making a big issue of this. bernie sanders said in one interview, he talked about working-class women struggling with breast cancer, not having a lot of money. they were able to get the same medicine for one-tenth the price in canada. i mean, real people are being affected by this, aren't they? >> absolutely, and i don't discount the misery, the stress that having on top of a bad disease to be socked with a big co-pay, but i see that a big mistake that's just point the finger at the drug companies. i have to disagree with dr. bach that it's easier to get a drug approved today. i think it's harder to get a drug approved today because there is more stringent f.d.a. regulation and it's a nasty fact that biology is tough.
there is a huge failure rate. nine out of ten great drug candidates don't make it. and the successes have to pay for those failures. canada controls prices. the whole world free loads off american drug innovation. >> woodruff: do you want to respond to that? >> please, proceed. >> woodruff: what do you think should be done? the democratic candidates for president are both talking about putting caps on the price of prescription drugs. the republican candidates say it's my understanding hands-off, government hands-off approach. what do you think should be done, dr. bach? >> what we have is pricing for dution that doesn't make any sense. you can have a drug that doesn't work well and charge a high price. you can have a drug that's terrific and charge a high price. what i'd like to see is prices based on value. and dr. stossel mentioned that. so value is something about how well the drug works to alleviate suffering, to prolong life, and if we had a market where drugs
that worked better to treat disease cost more, the companies that would win in that environment are the ones that are best in innovating. they could get the best profit. the companies that make me-too products wouldn't be as profitable. that's how markets are supposed to work. what's broken is right now both of those companies can charge whatever they want. >> woodruff: dr. stossel, does that sound like a solution? >> no, because it costs just as much to develop a marginal drug as a good drug. good intentions don't lead to drug innovation. there's a huge amount of luck, serendipity that's involved. and so there's... i can't think of any enterprise where there's so little connection between what it costs to develop the product, what the value of the product is and what it costs to keep the system going, keeping the innovation going. it's that huge failure rate that's the bugaboo here. and i don't know any easy answer to it, but i do believe that
it's fantasy to think if you impose top-down pricing, you bring the political process into it, that you're... if that's what society wants, fine, but you have to understand that it is incompatible with innovation. >> woodruff: well, gentlemen, it is a big subject. i think we've only begun to scratch at the surface. i know we'll come back to this again, but i want the thank both of you for joining us. dr. thomas stossel, dr. peter bach, thank you for joining us. >> thanks very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: a new play inspired by today's headlines, touring the country, including a stop soon in baltimore. jeffrey brown has the latest report in our ongoing series on mass incarceration: "broken justice".
>> you put leg shackles on someone who can't walk and then throw him in the back of a paddy wagon like a dead animal, you know what i'm saying. >>a story on the stage. taken from the streets of america today: the arrest of freddie gray in baltimore earlier this year, as witnessed and video-taped by a bystander named kevin moore. >> the camera is the only thing...? >> yeah, the camera is the only thing we have to protect us that's not illegal. >> brown: the storyteller is writer and actor anna deavere smith, who wove moore's experience into her new project, titled "notes from the field: doing time in education." the project began with an anecdote a friend told her about a young person in baltimore who was arrested after urinating on a water cooler. >> she said to me, "what ever happened to mischief?" and i said, "wow, poor kids are pathologized. and rich kids have mischief." and it just grabbed me. i thought it's time to go home really. go back to what i began with and look and see what's wrong with it.
>> brown: home is baltimore, where smith lived until she was 15. after the killing of freddie gray and the riots that ensued, it was a sadly appropriate setting for smith to tackle her latest issue. anna deavere smith is a recognizable presence on television, most recently these days on the showtime program, "nurse jackie". but it's her one-woman theater explorations of aspects of american life, from racial strife to health care, that have earned her honors and acclaim as a path-breaking american artist. smith plays all the parts. but the words are those of people she's interviewed-- activists, scholars, politicians, average people affected by what's going on. >> after having done interviews
for many many years, i'm looking for people who would scream it from a mountain top and i just happen to be walking by. >> brown: the aim of this journalistic-style approach, she told me recently, is to make sense of things. >> in terms of looking for the story and looking for witnesses, the people who are in it, you have them explain to you something that you don't understand. >> brown: what smith wants to understand now is what she and others call the "school to prison pipeline," in which children-- disproportionately african american, latino and native american-- get in trouble in school for relatively minor offenses and are then funneled into the criminal justice system, changing their lives forever. >> we've retreated into a kind of segregation and some people would say it's all part of this gap between the rich and the poor, that many, many people are talking about. or the gap between the rich and the middle class or just the failure of our public institutions. >> brown: for the project, smith and her team talked to hundreds of people in seven cities,
including baltimore, where we joined her for a day. >> ...the call for our men to get up. you even go so far to talk about the sagging pants which is controversial some people say? >> when i say pull it up it's not just the pants. it's pull up your level of thinking, your expectation for your own life. >> brown: watching as she interviewed reverend jamal bryant, who delivered the eulogy at freddie gray's funeral. >> the reason why i want you not to cry is because freddie's death is not in vain. >> brown: he told smith of his opposition to a new $30 million jail for youth. >> our children have been so reduced to the color of criminality that they are not even seen in humanity as children. >> brown: smith recently presented an early version of "notes from the field" at the berkeley repertory theatre in california, taking on the
personas of some of those she'd interviewed around the country. she "became" india sledge, a student in west baltimore. >> my boyfriend jake was walking to the store and the police picked him up and threw him against the wall. and since that time, my momma's like, "i've gotta get away from here 'cuz all it is around here is drug dealers, drug dealers." >> brown: as stephanie williams of philadelphia, smith gave a teacher's view of chaos in the classroom. >> i felt i had so many starving people in your hands and nothing to give them. even though i tried to give them so much. it was hard being that strong day in and day out-- it was like running a jail without a gun. no guns, no billy clubs, no handcuffs. i just have to keep you in order just by being me.
>> brown: in baltimore, of course, things were very personal for smith. >> i'm just glad it's not boarded up. it's different. >> brown: as she visited her childhood neighborhood on the city's west side. >> brown: a former neighbor, sheila wiggins, who taught smith how to dance the twist, was stunned to see her. >> oh my goodness! how are you? nice to see you. >> brown: smith showed us the cemetery behind her house where she and friends would play and pick berries. >> we used to play in this alley, hopscotch. >> brown: today, she sees enormous problems in her hometown, but also something more. >> the young people in particular who i'm talking to really show great vulnerability. they are not masked with language or jargon and i'm very moved by that.
there's a kind of grace here in baltimore that i miss. >> brown: in this project, she says she wants to take a more activist approach than in the past, pushing local communities to engage and look for solutions. >> right now people are just falling off the radar. they are just dying. how can that continue? i think the only way it's gonna turn around is by what i call this spark of moral imagination of a more empathic community and that's one thing art can offer. i can ask people to feel about this until enough people say in their community, they say we've got to get this together, we've got to turn this around. >> brown: smith will perform "notes from the field" in california and oregon this fall before bringing it to baltimore in early december. >> i said to jesus, just one, just one. i'm not trying to do the masses! i'm just trying to save one at a time. >> brown: from baltimore, i'm
jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: tonight on frontline, the first of a three part series on the bombing of pan am flight 103, which killed 270 people over lockerbie, scotland, in 1988. in "my brother's bomber", ken dornstein-- whose brother was killed in the crash-- takes a deep look into the files of the case, talking to former prosecutors who believe not all of those responsible were prosecuted, much less even identified. only one person, abdel basset al megrahi, was convicted and sentenced to life, but was released in 2009 because of deteriorating health. >> president obama said the u.s. deeply regrets the decision and warned libya not to give him a hero's welcome. the libyans weren't listening.
>> al megrahi emerged wearing a suit, the inmate unrecognizable as he acknowledged the jubilant crowd. >> i remember being shocked by alpb his conviction hadn't been fully satisfying, but at least it was an answer. now all that was coming undone. my brother and the others had been killed, and certainty about who did it was being wiped away. >> some believe al megrahi should go free. they don't believe he was guilty in the first place. >> al megrahi is not expected to live long enough for his next appeal to be heard. >> al megrahi's release also gave momentum to those who believed he wasn't guilty at all, and theories pinning lockerbie on iran were once again revived. i wished i could let it go, but instead i decided to set out on my own search for answers. i began by tracking down the f.b.i. agent who had worked longer than anyone on the lockerbie case, richard marquis.
>> how are you? good to see you, ken. >> almost 25 years later, no one has admitted playing any role in it. in fact, al megrahi, the one man convicted is let go after serving only eight years under a cloud of suspicion. >> nobody is paying for this. nobody is paying judicially for blowing up pan am 103. that's a great frustration. qaddafi was told, if your agents are found guilty, you have to admit responsibility for the attack, and all he would admit to was responsibility for the actions of my agents. i think it's terrible that we allowed him to get away with that statement. when i spoke to the lockerbie families, i said i wished we could have gotten more for you. al megrahi was the only person convicted because he's the only person that the evidence led to.
but if he did this, he didn't do it by himself. al megrahi's the tip of the iceberg. >> woodruff: "frontline" airs tonight on most pbs stations. that brings us to our newshour shares of the day, something that caught our eye which might be of interest to you, too. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation announced a new class of 'genius grant' fellows today. the winners include a urban sociologist, an environmental engineer and playwright lin- manuel miranda. in a foundation video, miranda spoke of "hamilton", the broadway musical he wrote about founding father alexander hamilton that opened in august. >> i fall in love for a living. i write musicals, and musicals take a long time to write, so when you have an idea, you really have to fall in love with it. ♪ i'm past patiently waiting. >> with hamilton, it's a perfect
marriage of function and form. hip hop is uniquely suited to tell his story growing up orphaned, penniless. hip hop has the energy of revolution, has the energy of struggle, has the energy that a story like hamilton's demands. >> this is a story about america then, told by america now. >> woodruff: you can watch videos of other "genius grant" winners on our website. on the newshour online right now, you can conquer the student debt beast by saving early and often, says one "making sense" contributor. find his tips on setting up college savings plans to help avoid debt for your children later on. plus, donald trump made headlines with his tax plan. now we give you a handy chart that compares the tax plans of several gop candidates. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. tune in later this evening, more of charlie rose's interview with russian president putin.
>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herara. >> four horsemen of the fourth quarter. with the ugly third quarter almost done, there are four things investors need to watch that could make or break the year for stocks. >> up up and away as home prices rise, developers are hoping big sales come in small packages. reinventing the strip. what gaming industries are doing to lure millennials and turn around the rough year. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for tuesday, september 29. >> good evening and welcome. just one day to go before the end of the month. and september sure hasn't been pretty for investors. all the major indexes, equities that is, on track for declines and once the book closes on pt