tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS June 25, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by wnet on this edition for sunday, june 25: president trump faces a test in the u.s. senate as republicans try to gather enough votes for their health care plan. and, how climate change has left one pacific island nation struggling for fresh water. next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made 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're 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, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us. president trump is pushing the senate to pass its bill to replace obamacare, and pushing back on former president obama's handling of russian meddling in last year's election. though mister trump has played down the russia probe for months, in an interview broadcast today, he criticized his predecessor for doing too little about the hacking of democratic party and clinton campaign emails, and attempted hacks of state election databases. >> the c.i.a. gave him information on russia a long time before the election, and i hardly see it.
it's an amazing thing. to me, the question is if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? he should've done something about it. >> sreenivasan: in retaliation, president obama expelled 35 russian diplomatic personnel, seized two russian properties in the u.s., and imposed economic sanctions on russia-- after the election. today, trump adviser kellyanne conway said mister obama could have done more sooner. >> i have a question for the obama administration, why did you, "choke," in the name of one of their senior administration officials? why did you do nothing? why didn't you inform candidate trump? i know you thought hillary would win, but how could you not reveal important information about russia hacking? >> sreenivasan: agreeing with her on that point today was the leading democrat on the house of representatives intelligence committee, adam schiff. >> given the seriousness of this. they needed to call out russia earlier and needed to act to deter russia earlier, and that was a serious mistake. >> sreenivasan: the senate is expected to vote this week on the republican's proposal to replace president obama's affordable care act, which has
added more than 20 million americans to the insurance rolls. today, health and human services secretary tom price said eliminating its mandate-- to acquire insurance or pay fines if you don't-- will save taxpayers money. >> 28-million americans who don't have insurance. 6.5- million of them have been forced to pay $3 billion in taxes and penalties for the privilege, for the right of not purchasing what the government says they've got to buy. >> sreenivasan: doctor rand paul is one of five republican senators publicly opposed to the bill, depriving his party of a majority of votes. today, he said it preserves too many expensive obamacare provisions, like subsidies to buy insurance and essential benefit requirements. >> look, i've been in medicine 20 years. i'm 54-years-old. premiums have never gone down. they're not going to go down after the republican bill. >> sreenivasan: today, vermont senator bernie sanders said while deductibles and co- payments are too high under obamacare, the republican bill will cause millions of americans to lose insurance.
>> when you throw 23 million off insurance, people with cancer, people with heart disease, people with diabetes, thousands of people will die. i wish i didn't have to say it. >> sreenivasan: for more analysis of the health care debate, "newshour weekend" special correspondent jeff greenfield joins us from santa barbara, california. depends on healthcare and we have a piece of legislation. it's coming down to this. >> it's remarkable. in the old days, big social legislation like social and medicaid used to pass by overwelcoming margins, we seen this kind of down to the wire legislation. one in two vote margin, president george w bush got his prescription drug plan through the house with one vote to spare, obama's and his healthcare eill needed 60 votes
in the senate to overcome a filibuster. that's what's happened and that reflects political popularization. they're reluctant to see the president fail. >> whose idea of party versus country and what you should put first, how does it play out in this vote? >> r you can see it dramatically. who is the most endangered. he said he's not on this bill because of medicaid. a pro trump will luggage a 7 figure media bite against him, and what happens now is for him and for the other republicans who expressed reluctant. when it comes down is mitch mcconnell looking for ways to pacify concessions any time you
concede to the moderates the conservatives don't like it >> from politics to policy when you look into the meat of it. house or senate version, huge constituencies that will be hurt by it. the poor, the elderly. who wins going forward or is this just a calculation of figuring out the bare minimum to get it over the line? >> i think what -- every independent analysis says this is big distribution away from middle class and the poor toward the athlete who got hit in the obama plan because the taxes were increased to pay for subsidies. the tax cuts kick in immediately. the bites with medicaid expansion and reduced subsidies and higher premiums don't begin to kick in until after the 2018 mid terms. that's a very critical point. the second i'd say is that for a
lot of republican base, repealing obamacare, whatever that means, has become the be all end all. vince malcomb bar desaid -- anything they can call bloom repeal betrays the promise they made. >> shifting gears, a president back on twitter in a couple of tweets he seems to acknowledge the russian interference in the context of blaming the obama administration for not doing anything about it which is a different tactic. >> for months, donald trump was saying there is nothing to the story of hacking. maybe it's the chinese, maybe it's some guy in his parents' basement. now he's saying of course there was hacking and the reason the obama administration didn't talk about it was to help hillary by not talking about it. that makes no sense. had they exposed russian effort to push the electorate away.
one of the reasons they didn't do it, had they raised that issue, they would have been accused the politicizing the story in an effort to help hillary clinton. i think it's an illustration also more broadly of how trump uses social media to convince his millions of followers that his version of reality is right and by definition, anyone pushing back against that story is a product of fake news and i think that's become a theme of this administration, there's no reason to think it's going to start >> jeff green field joining us from california. thanks so much. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. military said thursday it carried out an air-strike in yemen that killed the leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. the attack is a reminder of the ongoing u-s counter-terrorism operations there in coordination with the government of yemen and allies like saudi arabia and the
united arab emirates. at the same time, an "associated press" investigation has found hundreds of men captured in the hunt for al-qaeda militants in yemen have been detained in yemeni and u.a.e.-run prisons, where there are allegations of human rights abuses and torture. a.p. reporter maggie michael wrote the story and she joins me now via skype from cairo. tell us what's happening in these prisons? >> reporter: the prisons are inside and depending on the prison, the conditions are different. so in the city for for example, there's a big detention center set up inside the airport where prisoners are held inside shipping containers. people are blindfolded most of
the time. they have access to toilets for three minutes a day. they're tortured every day at night from 11:00 p.m. when officers and soldiers, they enter the cells and start beating them and they select a number of them and drag them outside the cell for more torture. according to the >> hari sreenivasan: you described something in here that looks straight out of a mid evil story. a grill, what is this? >> soldiers tied at his knees and spit and vomited. this is what they described to me. what i was told also that day, the number of people tortures like selected, like they select small number of them. they become like ima model for the rest of the prisoners.
the people they have already seen what's happened to the colleagues to the inmates, so they start to just give whatever concessions there are. >> hari sreenivasan: who profits from the concessions >> this is for the americans and for the u.s., a source of information, and a taste in one instance witnesses said that u.s. would enter the interrogation room three, four hours a day, four times a week. and they ask questions through the officers to get information. this kind of information will be used later in the raised and airstrike, >> hari sreenivasan: what is the defense department and government's response to the story >> acknowledged that they had
interrogated prisoners. however, they said that they received reports of torture and they looked into it and they found nothing. and this is the kind of response to the families already upset to hear, because they want hear the us government saying they're i'm going to look into this and investigate and we're going to figure out what's happening. >> hari sreenivasan: thank you. join joining us live from cairo from the u.s. press. >> thank you. ♪ >> sreenivasan: when president donald trump withdrew the u.s. from the paris climate accords this month, he effectively rejected the principle of the world's wealthier nations helping poor ones cope with climate change effects like sea level rise. one such place is the pacific ocean republic of the marshall islands. in tonight's signature segment""
newshour weekend" special correspondent mike taibbi reports how climate change is increasing the struggle for fresh water there. >> reporter: two men mix sand and shovelfuls of cement, spending hours on end building their seawall-- no, re-building it, and higher each time. banga roriki is working with his nephew, robin, who has been living in this house, on majuro, one of the marshall islands, for 22 years. >> the high tide comes very high >> reporter: he says the wall is meant to stop massive high tides, known here as king tides, like the one that surged through his home last year. on another of the marshall islands, ebeye, those same tides eat away the shoreline everywhere you look. tombstones shoved free and even swept out to sea. what used to be a park surrounding ebeye's power plant- - gone. 74-year-old belma marok has already seen king tides destroy several homes here. >> the corner of the house was right over there, right outside
that piece of concrete there. >> reporter: these big slabs were part of the foundation of the house? >> yeah. >> reporter: the marshall islands, a nation of slender atolls and five more substantial islands, sit in the south pacific ocean between hawaii and australia, no more than six or seven feet above sea level. climate scientists warn-- if the current pace of global warming and sea level rise continues, then low-lying islands like the marshalls could become incapable of sustaining their population within a generation or two. >> sea level is rising in certain parts of the pacific faster than anywhere else in the world. >> reporter: chip fletcher studies climate science at the university of hawaii. he says that well before the marshall islands might disappear -- they could face a more immediate impact from climate change: fresh water shortages. what's the biggest threat now to the marshall islands? >> depends on your time scale. i think the longer time scale sea level rise is probably the biggest threat. simply because it has the potential to rise above the average elevation of the marshall islands.
shorter timescale though, it's the fundamental need for fresh water. >> reporter: on ebeye, fresh water is belma marok's biggest worry. in his home the spigots hooked up to the town water system are dry. his son lugs buckets of water so their family can shower and flush their toilets. the family relies on rainwater catchment tanks for water, but those remain practically empty because of a relentless drought. >> we barely have any water. probably this much, barely have enough >> reporter: getting fresh water has always been a preoccupation for the marshall islands. most communities rely on rainwater collection-- rooftop gutters connected to water tanks outside of virtually every home- - and a few underground freshwater aquifers they can access through wells. the fresh water is essential for cleaning, personal hygiene, doing laundry, and of course, drinking. but as life in the islands became more westernized, and the population grew to more than 50-
thousand people, those limited freshwater sources became more stressed than ever. and now, because of climate change, the traditional water sources are at increased risk. the droughts are getting so long those so-called "king" tides now sweep over the marshalls more intensely and more frequently. it's an irony not lost on some climate change experts that while the marshall islands are among the sovereign nations that contribute the least to global warming, they're also among the nations that face threats that are the most profound and immediate. hilda heine, the president of the republic of marshall islands is keenly aware of the paradox of living here. it's the old cliche-- water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. >> we've been fighting this climate change for the last, what, maybe five to ten years. and our islands are still livable.
so we continue to have hopes. and so i think we're able to make sure that people are safe during droughts. we're able to provide water, food and so on. so that's what we need to do. it's the new norm, but that doesn't mean giving up. >> reporter: president heine says the government has made fresh water access a priority, and points to improvements in the centralized water systems on the two most crowded islands-- majuro and ebeye. but those systems supply only a fraction of the population and for limited hours each week. on majuro, home to 27,000 residents, severe weather events put enormous pressure on the main water source-- seven reservoirs that store rainwater collected from the airport's runway. halston debrum is operations manager for majuro's government- run water company. he says the drought last year nearly depleted their supply. >> this reservoir was half.
that one, empty. reservoir number one and two were pretty empty as well. the only water we did have was pretty much in the covered reservoir, the treated water. >> reporter: debrum says a more severe weather event could leave them scrambling. so if the big one hits next month, you guys aren't ready for it? >> no, if the big one hits next month, we won't be ready for it. and then we'll have to find other ways to provide water. >> reporter: but debrum says he's confident coming improvements will one day provide all residents 24/7 water access, even during droughts. >> i think if we improve what we have here what we have. the infrastructure work that we have now. improve the pipeline. improve our catchment area on the runway. and then build more reservoirs. bigger reservoirs so that we can store more. >> reporter: on ebeye, the main freshwater source is a 14-year- old desalination that's
undergoing a nearly $5 million upgrade. but right now it's less than a panacea for the more than ten- thousand people living in this densely populated setting. for one thing, the water is piped into households only 45- minutes a day, two days a week. and it isn't safe to drink without boiling it. for most of their water needs, residents come to this public tap. but even though this water is tested on a regular basis, many residents are skeptical. do you use it to drink, or just cook with it? what do you do with it?" >> i do both cook and eat with it, and also bath and shower. >> reporter: but do you drink it straight? >> eh, not really. i don't drink the water here, i drink the water from kwaj. >> reporter: "kwaj" is the u.s. military base on neighboring kwajalein island. ferries throughout the day from kwaj bring jugs of good, free and safe water from the base's own state of the art desalination plant. these five gallon jugs from the ferry weigh more than 40 pounds apiece and they are a load to carry. health risks from contaminated water are a constant worry in the marshall islands.
waterborne illnesses are one of the top three conditions treated at ebeye's hospital. when we journeyed to one of the more remote marshall islands-- arno, home to just 1,500 people- - we saw a health worker educating children and adults about the risks of contaminated water and how to clean and test water to make sure it's safe. still, after the lecture we met tarjadik arwan, who was drawing fresh water from one of the few wells still producing. she says children in the village have contracted pink eye, diarrhea, and typhoid fever from the wells. a few miles away, a man named konio joe relies on this tank to provide water for his family's home which he built it after a king tide last year swept away his old house a few yards closer to the shore. climate scientist chip fletcher says there are ways to at least delay the impact of sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. >> what's the rule of thumb? if you wage war with water, you
will lose. yield and elevate. yield to the water, and elevate. >> reporter: by that fletcher means accepting the consequences of seawater rise and moving homes inland and to higher ground. that's why fletcher and his team are creating three-dimensional models of the marshalls, like this one of hawaii's oahu island, to show where flooding is most likely to occur as sea level rises, and what could be done to defend against it-- like building more robust seawalls around the perimeter of the islands. fletcher says that's an approach that should be considered by the marshall islands or by other low-lying pacific ocean countries, like tuvalu, the cook islands, and the carteret islands of papua new guinea. all of which are seeing an exodus driven partly by climate change. >> there are communities that are sort of poised on the edge of the cliff, i believe all it takes is one event, a king tide event, and that might be the killer event to push you over the edge. >> reporter: how close are you, do you think, to the kind of destructive weather event which
will signal a profound change in the way that you should or the world should look at climate change? >> well, we're practical, and i think we're looking at the mitigation efforts, adaptation, how we can make the country resilient, people resilient to the effects of climate change. and we continue to do that. because the option is not an option for us. we cannot think about evacuating our country, our island, because people are connected to their land. if we're not on these islands, then we're another people, another country. >> reporter: the president does fret about the seawall standing between her own home and the water that rises higher each year-- a barrier that she says, erodes with every king tide. in the meantime, the president's across-the-street neighbor on majuro, banga roriki, keeps building and re-building his seawall, hoping his home can survive.
>> sreenivasan: an oil tanker truck overturned on a highway in eastern pakistan today, then exploded-- killing more than 150 people. many of the victims had rushed from a nearby village to the accident site to fill containers with leaking oil from the tanker when it suddenly ignited. police believe a spark from one of the vehicles that raced to the scene or from someone who tried to light a cigarette may be to blame. more than 100 people were treated for burns. in southwestern china, at least 93 people are still missing after yesterday's mountainside collapse triggered by heavy rainfall. officials estimate the landslide poured the equivalent of seven- thousand olympic-sized swimming pools worth of earth and rock onto the village in sichuan province. today, 2,500 rescuers searched for survivors with dogs and detection devices. three people were pulled alive from the rubble-- a couple and
their two-month-old baby. rescuers have also recovered the bodies of ten victims. sichuan province is prone to tremors and earthquakes. a major quake in 2008 killed 70- thousand people. as promised, turkish authorities thwarted an annual gay pride march today. police in istanbul fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse activists who defied a ban on the annual march for the third year in a row. but large crowds lined manhattan's fifth avenue for new york city's 48th annual pride march. the route wound up in greenwich village near the stonewall inn, considered the birthplace of the l.g.b.t. movement. leading the parade was grand marshal brooke guinan, the city's first openly transgender firefighter. san francisco and chicago also held their annual pride parades. june is pride month. the republican health care bill falls short of funding requests from two gop senators to fight the nation's growing opioid crisis. visit pbs.org/newshour.
>> sreenivasan: tomorrow on "the newshour," judy woodruff sits down with investor and philanthropist warren buffett. that's all for this edition of "pbs newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made
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. p that's why we're 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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