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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  September 11, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> stewart: on this edition for sunday, september 11: honoring the victims on the 15th anniversary of the september 11th terrorist attacks. >> i can't believe it's been 15 years. sometimes it feels like yesterday, others an eternity." and, in our signature segment, coping with the long-term health effects from working at ground zero. >> now i can't do anything, nothing at all. i can't breathe. i know my life is cut short big time. next on "p.b.s. newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family.
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the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, alison stewart. >> stewart: good evening and thanks for joining us. it happened 15 years ago today- the worst attack on american soil since pearl harbor- when terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jets and used them as weapons against symbols of the u.s. economy and military. today, on this landmark anniversary, at three memorial sites, america remembered.
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>> reporter: the ceremony in new york marked the moment when the first plane hit the trade center's north tower. jerry d'amadeo's father, vincent, worked on the 103rd floor for the brokerage firm cantor fitzgerald, which lost 658 people that day. >> today, i'm proud to be here to memorialize my father. this is the place that gives me the chance to think about beautiful memories. >> reporter: family members led the reading of the nearly 3,000 names inscribed on the national memorial to all 9/11 victims-- office workers, plane passengers, emergency responders, members of the military. when the second plane hit the south tower 17 minutes after the first, howard kestenbaum was working inside for aon insurance. his wife remembered him today. >> those of us who've lost our loved ones to violence form a kind of group. we know the shock and grief and anger that
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follows, the heartache that won't heal. >> reporter: a half hour after the trade center attack, 230 miles south of new york city, a third plane hit the pentagon-- killing 59 people on the plane and 125 people inside the building. president obama spoke to survivors and victims' families there. >> even as you've mourned, you've summoned the strength to carry on. and in your grief and grace you have reminded us that together there is nothing we americans cannot overcome. >> reporter: after the trade center's south tower fell, four minutes later, a fourth plane crashed in the western pennsylvania town of shanskville. today, loved ones remembered the bravery of the 40 passengers and crew of united flight 93, who fought back and thwarted hijackers' from reaching the u.s. capitol in washington.
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the massive twin towers fell in under two hours. a striking image of today's ceremony was the teenagers, reading the names of their parents, parents who missed out on their childhood. >> i love you, papi, and we miss you, and i know you're watching over us. >> dad, the whole family misses you. it's been 15 years. this year, i'm applying to college, and i know i'll make you proud. >> reporter: after his brother was killed on 9/11, joe quinn joined the army and served in afghanistan and iraq. >> looking back, it was hard to get through those weeks following 9/11, but an important part of me misses those days, because as a country, we were never more united, we were never more inspired. i know in our current political environment, it may feel that we're divided. don't believe it.
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after spending 90 minutes at ground zero, hillary clinton left her campaign saying she felt "overheated" in the 80- degree heat and humidity. video taken at the scene shows the 68-year old democratic presidential nominee appearing to stumble briefly as she was being helped into her van. clinton went to her daughter chelsea's manhattan apartment. about two hours later, clinton walked out, waving, and said" i'm feeling great," and posed for a photo with a young girl." >> stewart: 15 years after 9/11, tens of thousands of men and women involved in the emergency response and the months-long recovery operation are still coping with the long-term health effects from working at the world trade center site. in tonight's signature segment, we look at how medical research is still uncovering new health consequences-- both physical and mental-- that could be due to exposure to toxic dust and
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traumatic conditions at ground zero. newshour weekend special correspondent karla murthy reports. >> reporter: in his home on long island, an hour from new york city, ken george keeps a box of mementos from his time as a first responder to the september 11 terrorist attack on the world trade center. >> first night i was there i was walking there and i took pictures. my eyes were burning, man the smell was unbearable. that's all the ash, and it's like papers flying in front of you that you can actually touch. >> reporter: in 2001, george worked for the new york city department of transportation, which sent him to ground zero. he wears sunglasses for sensitivity to light. >> i thought i was going to be like blocking traffic. for the first couple of hours, i was on bucket brigade, passing buckets around, stuff like that. >> reporter: removing debris? >> yeah, debris, or whatever we found. i wound up stepping on, i say a
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torso, part of a torso. >> reporter: so you were finding body parts? >> a lot. a lot of body parts. >> reporter: george worked 750 hours on site, exposed to airborne toxins and dust, rarely wearing a mask over his face. he developed a bad cough, and his doctor diagnosed him with asthma. >> i never smoked, i never had nothing, so he gave me all these asthma medications, and cough medications. >> reporter: were you thinking at that time how this was going to affect your physical health? >> no, never thought that once. >> reporter: in the years after 9/11, george's respiratory issues worsened. doctors diagnosed him with restricted airway disease and put him on dozens more medications. for his illnesses connected to exposure at ground zero, george doesn't have to pay for his care. it's covered by the world trade center health program, with more than $6 billion allocated through 2025. the program was established in 2011 by the james zadroga health and compensation act.
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it's named after an n.y.p.d. detective who died in 2006 from respiratory disease after working as a first responder. in december, the law was reauthorized by congress for 75 years to cover the lifetime of responders. >> i think they were trying to show and the american people were trying to show, gratitude for what these responders did. >> reporter: dr. john howard is the director of the national institute for occupational safety and health, known as n.i.o.s.h. it administers the w.t.c. health program, which provides care for nearly 75,000 responders, survivors, and residents. it also determines what conditions are connected to 9/11 exposures. >> when you think about the amount of dust containing all of these various carcinogens that these thousands of individuals breathed it makes scientific sense that this could damage the body.
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>> reporter: today, at 52, george's health issues make it difficult for him to leave home. he retired from the department of transportation in 2006. >> i worked at a blacksmith shop, welding shop, i ripped up the roads, i did everything, everything, and i was perfect. now i can't do anything, nothing at all. i can't breathe. i know my life is cut short big time. >> reporter: but george isn't just suffering physically. he also suffers psychologically from working on a site where nearly 3,000 people were killed. he was diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder, or p.t.s.d. >> i was waking up in the middle of the night screaming, i was punching the walls, my temper was flying off the wall, for no reason, and i'm not that way. >> reporter: in the past 15 years, as many as one-fifth of world trade center recovery workers, like george-- city employees, construction workers,
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and police-- have experienced this combination of mental and physical symptoms. dr. benjamin luft heads the stony brook world trade center wellness program and has been studying the interaction between physical and mental symptoms among responders. >> this was a very unique event in that the level of trauma that were occurring concurrently in- the mind and the body they occurred at the same time in the same person. >> reporter: stony brook researchers found that responders with p.t.s.d. symptoms are twice as likely to develop respiratory issues. and are nearly three times as likely to experience cognitive impairment compared to responders without p.t.s.d. in a study now underway, responders filled out surveys every five hours for a week about their p.t.s.d. symptoms and supplied biological samples. >> they would put this in between their gum and their tooth there, and collect as much saliva on here as possible.
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>> reporter: a goal of the research is to see how p.t.s.d. might impact other parts of the body. >> some of these things, like chronic stress, may cause cardiac disease. there's some data to suggest it may even potentiate the development of cancers. it's not that these are in your mind, as they say, it's that there are actual biological materials that are being produced, which potentiate a whole bunch of physical problems. >> reporter: n.i.o.s.h. has funded nearly $75 million of research on the health effects of the w.t.c. attacks since 2010, including the research at stony brook. n.i.o.s.h. relies on research to determine what illnesses should be covered by the w.t.c. health program. >> to make the link between exposure and a health effect is a very difficult thing. when the congress passed the james zadroga act they said figure out whether that exposure
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aggravated, contributed to or caused that particular health effect so that's a burden on the program. >> reporter: when the law was originally passed, the w.t.c. health program designated about two dozen illnesses that would be covered, including asthma, sinus infections, and p.t.s.d. but not every condition many first responders experience is on the list, like neuropathy, a hn coughlin has that. a hands volunteer firefighter in deer park on long island, he was a new york city police officer on 9/11 and assisted with search and rescue at ground zero. >> this is our 9/11 memorial over here. >> reporter: he worked at the site frequently until he retired from the n.y.p.d. in 2002. at the time, he had a clean bill of health, but as the years went by he developed respiratory problems, underwent open heart surgery, and started to experience p.t.s.d. >> i may look good on the outside, but inside, me
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personally, i'm like a broken bottle. i just hide it well. >> reporter: in 2007, he began experiencing symptoms of neuropathy. >> your feet feel like you're walking in sand all the time, okay, and for me, from the lower knee down to my feet, and my fingers, and my arms get numb, but my feet, the worst. even walking sometimes is painful. >> reporter: dr. marc wilkenfeld, an occupational physician at winthrop university hospital in new york, treats patients for the w.t.c. health program. >> if a patient comes to see me in my office with neuropathy, i can't treat it under the program. it's not covered by the government. >> reporter: in the last several years, he has started to notice more patients reporting neuropathy symptoms. >> people started coming in, and they'd be coming for their asthma, you know, something that's covered. and then a few times someone would say to me as an afterthought, "oh by the way, i get this strange tingling in my feet," or, "i'm having weakness
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in my hands. you think it's related?" >> reporter: in 2014, dr. wilkenfeld decided to test his hunch that neuropathy might be related to the toxic dust at ground zero. his first study looked at exposure to w.t.c. dust in rats. then, in a study based on surveys of first responders published in january, wilkenfeld found responders were 15 times more likely to have symptoms of neuropathy than non-responders. do you feel that you have enough evidence right now that does prove that there's a link? >> without question. if there's a small doubt, i would think you would give these people the benefit of the doubt. >> reporter: in april, the w.t.c. program rejected a petition to cover neuropathy, criticizing wilkenfeld's study of responders for having "self- reported data" and a "small sample size." >> a lot of petitions that we get that don't make it the first round, we hope that we'll see additional studies. so we hope that researcher will
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then be able to give us a second study, maybe including a larger number of people, maybe another researcher will be able to corroborate. so i think it's a difficult area, and i think, having spoken to many, many responders who have conditions that we do not cover, this is a very difficult thing. >> reporter: dr. wilkenfeld is working on follow-up studies, but meanwhile first responder john coughlin waits. >> i know there's a procedure but people are out there suffering, and dealing with these issues, and they're not getting the treatment that they need, or require. >> reporter: since 2011, the conditions covered by w.t.c. health program have expanded, including prostate and dozens of other kinds of cancers. how can you be sure that a responder's cancer is linked to their exposure at the world trade center site? >> we can't be sure. so what we look for are small signals. is this particular cancer more common, is there any kind of a signal that it's more common in our 9/11 exposed population than
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it is in the general population? >> reporter: for michael shea and his wife ingrid, having cancer treatment covered for responders is a huge relief. last year, shea was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. a nassau county police officer, he had spent about 50 hours at ground zero helping secure the area immediately after the attack. so up until the point though that you got cancer, you were perfectly fine and healthy? >> yes. nothing. this is the only time i ever had any type of medical condition. >> reporter: after months of chemotherapy and brain surgery, shea's ability to walk, talk, and remember things has diminished. >> next one, your favorite. >> ice cream. >> very good! >> reporter: ingrid has become his primary caregiver. >> how did he get it from the world trade center?
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was it the dust, or was it something he touched? nobody knows. >> reporter: do you have any doubts that his cancer is linked to the world trade center? >> i really don't know the answer to that, but they say it is. >> reporter: shea is now one of 5,400 people whose cancer treatment is covered by the w.t.c. health program. it's a lot you're going through. >> every day. it's all a job, to make his life easier. he's my priority. right, baby? see more ground zero photos from first responder ken george. visit >> stewart: north korea is dismissing talk of tougher economic sanctions following its fifth nuclear bomb test on friday. in a statement broadcast on state-run television today, north korea denounced the u.s. threat of unilateral economic sanctions as "meaningless" and" highly laughable." the government also pledged to
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continue its nuclear weapons program to quote, "ensure genuine peace from the increasing threat of a nuclear war by the united states." the nuclear test-- north korea's most powerful yet-- violated united nations sanctions, and the u.n. security council is preparing new ones after condemning the test friday. on the eve of a planned nationwide ceasefire in syria. fighting and airstrikes continued today as rival sides tried to secure territorial gains ahead of the truce. airstrikes hit the city of idlib, in northern syria, where a human rights group says at least 58 civilians were killed yesterday. new clashes between government troops loyal to president bashar assad and rebels also were reported in syria's largest city, aleppo, and near the capital, damascus. iran, an ally of the assad government, says it welcomes the truce brokered by the u-s and russia. if it holds, the u-s and russia plan to join forces to attack" islamic state" and al qaeda militants. at least half a million people have died in the civil war.. now in its sixth year, and eleven
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million people -- about half syria's pre-war population -- have been displaced. turkey claimed today its warplanes killed at least 20 isis militants in targeted air raids in northern syria. this as president recep erdogan said turkey has a, quote," primary duty" to destroy isis. erdogan also vowed to, in his words, "save turkey from the scourge" of separatist kurdish militants he labels terrorists. protesters clashed with police today after erdogan fired elected mayors in 28 municipalities controlled by a pro-kurdish opposition party, the third-largest in turkey's parliament. the justice ministry said most of the fired mayors are suspected of having links to kurdish separatists. erdogan's government has fired or suspended more than 100- thousand officials since this summer's failed military coup. nearly two million muslims today completed the annual "haj" pilgrimage. they ascended mount arafat, near mecca, in saudi arabia, fulfilling the obligation of every able-bodied muslim to try to make the pilgrimage at least
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once in his or her lifetime. the pilgrims spend the day in prayer at the site where the prophet muhammad is believed to have delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago. determined to avoid another tragic stampede like last year, saudi officials used drones and other security measures to monitor the ritual. the saudis say at least 800 pilgrims died in a crush near mecca in 2015, but other reports say the death toll was higher. with 57 days until election day, democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton maintains a lead over republican donald trump in most national opinion polls. an "a.b.c. news-washington pos"" poll out this weekend shows clinton favored by 46% of likely voters and trump, 41%. statewide polls have also shown clinton with a significant advantage in the electoral college map that determines who wins the white house. but this election season has been unpredictable and there are
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more to these polls than just the status of the frontrunners. to dig a bit deeper, we are joined by "newshour weekend's" jeff greenfield. are cms jeff greenfield, jeff we can get caught up in the horserace of it all but there's something more to talk about in these polls. >> to me, the interesting high number of voters who are undecided this point or leaning towards third or fourth party candidates, gary johnson or jill stein. i suspect this is because these are two historically unpopular nominees. the other interesting thing is you'd understand why jill stein would be taking away votes from hillary clinton, she's on the left, and gary johnson would be drawing more from the right but if you match these numbers up he seems to be mortgage naly hurting her more. again, i can't match these
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numbers up but they have not been persuaded to move to hillary. in some states he's in double digits, if he gets 15% he gets into the debates. >> that's a game changer right? >> a phrase i've never heard before. it is indeed, the one thing we know about third party candidates is both the presidential ross perot, you put an independent candidate in those debates and automatically he stands as a equal to major party candidates. that's the most significant thing to watch about the the presidential commission has to the imbalance, the numbers the clinton campaign 6 to 1 in some case he what they're spending, why is that, would trump ever try match that? >> he's now in the point last cycle last couple of weeks where he's only down 2 to 1. i've talked to any number of
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people, say how come that disparity hasn't shown up in the polls? there are all kinds of explanations, one is that free media, what people see every night on the news and get on their devices overwhelms paid media. second, it did have an impact in increasing trump's unfavorable ratings. some say clinton isn't positive enough and you know what, some say what is spent on paid advertising just might be wasted. if we have in the primaries trump spent a tiny fraction of what his opponents spent on ads and won. >> let's talk about the economy, let's about the gdp, are those things going to be the most important thing ultimately? >> there is a whole cottage industry in academia that says if you agree on the right numbers, gross epg domestic
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product, what happens in unemployment, the incumbent president's approval ratings, they will tell you months in advance they have a pretty good idea who's going to win. most of the time if you go back and look those preelection forecasts have looked good. the problem is i've looked at five different forecast that two of which says the democrats will win, two says republicans will win, two says i don't know. the other stuff, ads get out the votes the data analytics that we did, that trump did not use, that can matter, and stuff that doesn't matter that much that we focus on the gaffs what happens in a specific debate even something like today's health episode that involved hillary clinton that has marginal impact. in the race where the fundamentals tell you this is going to be a close election, they may rely on more than in
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the past. >> jeff greenfield, thank you for being here. >> nice to be here. >> stewart: tomorrow on the newshour, we begin a special week-long series exploring the state of higher education, called "rethinking college." that's all for this edition of" p.b.s. newshour weekend." i'm alison stewart. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made
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possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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