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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  July 16, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, july 16. the u.s. senate vote on the republican healthcare plan is postponed, again. and in our signature segment, severe austerity measures imposed in puerto rico, as the u.s. territory tries to pay off $70-billion dollars in debt. next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill. 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.
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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. this week's expected vote on the republican party's senate bill to repeal and replace president obama's affordable care act has been postponed. the party's grip on a majority of senators who may support the bill is so tenuous, that the absence of one senator would torpedo the effort. so when arizona's john mccain said last night that surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye will sideline him from the senate session this week, majority leader mitch mcconnell called off the vote. already two republicans, maine's susan collins and kentucky's rand paul, publicly say they'll oppose the current version of the bill that was unveiled thursday. this reduces republican votes
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for the plan from 52 to 50. today, the senators reiterated their positions, paul saying the bill doesn't cut insurance costs enough. >> it keeps the insurance mandates that cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace, and leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool and the premiums keep rising through the roof. >> sreenivasan: collins said the bill cuts coverage too much, and she estimates that 8-10 other republican senators share her concerns. >> this bill would impose fundamental sweeping changes in the medicaid program. those include very deep cuts that would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including disabled children, poor seniors. >> sreenivasan: today, president trump¡s health secretary, tom price, defended the plan. >> we have premiums that are skyrocketing. we've got deductibles that are so high that individuals have
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coverage but they don't have care. this is a system that is crying out for reform and revision. >> sreenivasan: the affordable care act has added 21 million americans to insurance rolls, two-thirds of them through medicaid, and 20 republican senators represent states that expanded medicaid through obamacare. governors, of course, don't get to vote on any congressional legislation, but they do have a big voice and stake in health care. at this week's national governors association in providence, rhode island, there was bipartisan skepticism and even resistance to the republican plan." washington post" reporter sean sullivan was at the governors' gathering and joins me now from washington. >> the governor's association summer meeting not something we care much about but rielt now why are the spot lights so tuned in on this conversation? >> reporter: this is usually a really low key affair that doesn't generate a lot of news.
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but this time it was a closely watched gathering and the reason was health care. a lot of republican senators who are on the fence right now about voting for this senate bill are looking to their home state governors, they're looking to them for guidance. they're looking to see how they respond to this bill. because in the end it's going to be the governors that are going to bear a lot of the responsibility for some of the coverage losses that may come about as a result of this bill, some of the cuts to medicaid that may come about as a result of this bill. so they are watching thee governors very closely before they ultimately say am i going to vote yes, am i going to vote no? there are a lot of skeptical governors. >> sreenivasan: and brian safnld mansandoval the governorm nevada is supposed to be -- >> he is verve popular in the state of nevada. he bass the first republican governor to expand medicaid
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under the affordable care act. the long term cuts to medicaid this senate bill would impose, he met privately with vice president pence, he listened as pence gave a speech, he listened during a breakfast when administration officials described why he should get behind this. but even after that hard sell he was stilt skeptical he was still worried. >> sreenivasan: the amount of money for opioid addiction relief and how the states are going to have to deal with the significant crisis they have on their hands. >> reporter: this was something that was added to the latest version of the bill at the request of a couple of republicans from ohio and west virginia, they anded a dedicated $45 billion fund to treat opioid addiction in these states across the couny. and the governors we talked to
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were pleased, they said look this is a step in the right direction but a lot of skeptics said look, $45 billion, given pretty big cutle we're seeing to federal funding of medicaid in the long term, that's not a lot.. >> sreenivasan: sean sullivan of the washington post, thanks lot. >> thanks president trump's personal attorney says there was nothing illegal about last year's meeting between mister trump's son, son-in-law, and campaign chairman, and a kremlin- connected russian lawyer and a former soviet intelligence officer. today, jay sekulow said donald trump jr., jared kushner, and paul manafort never received the promised opposition research, and if they had, it's not considered a thing of value under the law. president trump had denied any campaign collusion with russia. >> i do not think the denials are suspect. i do not think the denial by the president of the united states is suspect at all. >> sreenivasan: earlier, in one of his statements on twitter today, president trump himself said, "my son don is being scorned by the fake news media"" but the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, adam schiff of california, said
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donald trump jr.'s own emails about the meeting prove intent to collude with russia. >> here you have now evidence in black and white that, yes, the campaign was encouraging the russians to give them dirt. >> sreenivasan: yesterday's federal election commission filings reveal the trump campaign last month paid $50- thousand dollars to retain a law firm to defend the president's son, a week before the russia meeting became public knowledge. a new "washington-post" "abc news" poll shows 60% of americans believe russia tried to influence last year's election, and 41% believe the trump campaign intentionally aided those efforts. the poll also shows president trump's approval rating has dropped to 36%. dig deeper into those numbers, and you'll see america's partisan divide. to discuss that and more, "newshour weekend"'s jeff greenfield is here in the studio. jeff, the conversations that
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have occurred since we had this revelation, how does that play with trump's base? >> reporter: it's as if it didn't matter and this is a constant. we have been talking about this it seems like almost on a weekly basis. the poll, anything bothersome about the russia-trump family connections what that tells you is that they have accepted trump's fundamental argument that if you see or read something about me negative about russia it's fake by definition. and i think what that means is as the press has moved further and further to say this is something here, what you see is some conservative columnists that say like charles krauthammer, but if you look at hannity and breitbart, among trump's real supporters they are not buying that anything happened here.
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>> sreenivasan: anything change here? >> in our political world i'd be kind of confident saying yeah, if the republicans in congress get really tough on trump, what's going on, this is a hostile foreign party here, what's going on, among trump's supporters they're not all that happy with the republicans in congress anyway. you see declining poll numbers about what republicans think of the republican congressional leaders, you see some really sharp attacks ton part of breitbart and radio personalities like rush limbaugh and sean hannity, you might be raising taxes on us, they are not blaming trump. republicans begin to say in congress if this russia thick is going to bother us, i'm not saying that it's an occasion to leave the reservation. >> sreenivasan: looks like health care vote is going to be
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poarved at least another week. if it comes up for avote and doesn't pass, any consequence for the president? >> trump? see previous answer. in the nontrump us universe if trump -- nontrump universe, if it fails it would clobber him. that's what happened to clinton when his health care plan failed a year later, they lost the congress, the democrats. once again, this i think is really something we've never seen before, because donald trump is not seen as a legislative master, not keen on the details, in fact we've had republicans where they're polite in saying he doesn't know much or care much that's in the bill. he said give me something i'll sign it. so if it were to fail who do the trump folks blame? the president or do they blame the congressional leadership. that's where i think the fallout will happen. >> sreenivasan: jeff
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greenfield, thanks very much. >> sreenivasan: the state department is calling for the release of a u.s. citizen sentenced today by iran to ten years in prison. chinese-born xiyue wang is a 37- year-old princeton university graduate student who's been in custody for 11 months. he had openly been doing research in iran's national archives. the iranian judiciary said he" infiltrated" the archives, and 4,500 documents he digitally copied were "confidential articles." wang can appeal the sentence. venezuelans opposed to president nicolas maduro participated in a symbolic referendum today. one ballot question asked if they want elections before maduro's term ends in 2018. the oil rich nation is struggling with triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine. maduro called today's vote meaningless. he's scheduled a july 30th vote for a new national assembly that could amend the constitution to give him more power. an effort to fund an animated short about a father attempting
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to style his daughter's hair has received a flood of support online. find out more at pbs.org /newshour. as we have reported on "the newshour" and "newshour weeken"" over the past two years, the united states territory of puerto rico is an island in economic distress. in the past decade, seeing dim economic prospects, 450,000 puerto ricans, who are u.s. citizens, have left the island, mainly for communities in texas, florida, new york, and illinois. the island faces a deep recession, high unemployment, and a high poverty rate. in response congress has imposed controversial new austerity measures. in tonight's signature segment, newshour weekend's ivette feliciano returns to puerto rico to report on the reaction.
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>> reporter: along the streets of san juan, puerto rico, graffiti reading "no more abus"" and "fascism in puerto rico" are a window into the unrest sparked by the largest financial crisis in the island's history. since january, thousands have protested austerity measures and cuts to public services imposed on this u.s. territory that's home to 3.4 million u.s. citizens. but puerto rico currently owes creditors a massive $72-billion dollars. last year, following a series of defaults on debt payments, congress passed, and president obama signed, the puerto rico oversight management and economic stability act, or" promesa," which means "promise" in spanish. the law gave a financial oversight board veto power over puerto rico's budget and provided a process to restructure the debt. did you realize what you were getting yourself into? >> i did not. >> reporter: jose carrion, who runs a large insurance brokerage
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in san juan, chairs the appointed seven member board. >> the budget was unbalanced by around $3-billion dollars. so we had to begin getting our fiscal affairs in order, and that entailed difficult decisions as to, you know, major spending. >> reporter: those difficult decisions included cuts to pension payments for retired government workers, reducing spending on healthcare, closing 179 public schools and reducing the government workforce. since 2013, nearly 30,000 government workers have lost their jobs. roxana perez had worked as an administrative assistant for the police department in carolina, a town outside of san juan. >> ( translated ): i love serving my country. >> reporter: she's now looking for a new job, but it's not easy. the unemployment rate in puerto rico is 11%, two-and-a-half times the u.s. rate. i asked whether she was worried the position could be cut, given the debt crisis. >> ( translated ): i had faith that maybe there would be an
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opportunity to continue. there is a real need for civil employees here at the puerto rican police, believe me. >> reporter: this spring, students and faculty protested a proposed $450-million dollar budget cut to the university system over the next four years. architecture student minette bonilla was part of a delegation that met with the fiscal oversight board. >> we asked them point blank, "do you know what the consequences will be of those cuts? do you know what the consequences will be for students and their accessibility to education?" "we haven't done those studies." so they're just cutting out of sheer numbers without knowing any implications for the people that are suffering those cuts. >> reporter: more broadly, students also want a thorough audit of the island's public debt by an independent body. but above all, students like mario gonzalez nevares are critical of the promesa law, which created the board in the first place. >> promesa is the example of colonialism in the 21st century. this law was created unilaterally by the u.s.
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congress, and it was imposed over puerto rico. and it's only, only reason to exist is to make sure the bondholders are paid. >> reporter: puerto rico's $72- billion dollar debt is owed to bondholders, or creditors, who bought bonds that financed the island's government. that includes large investors like mutual funds and hedge funds on the u.s. mainland, as well as local puerto ricans. there are those on the island who believe that the board is more closely aligned to the needs of the creditors, how do you respond to those criticisms? >> i don't consider myself beholden to any particular bondholder class. we're trying to do the best we can under extremely difficult circumstances, but the reality is that we're taking everything and everybody into consideration and trying to balance all those interests. >> reporter: but bondholders are worried. rafael rojo is a san juan real estate developer and chairman of bonistas del patio, a group representing some of the 60,000 puerto rican bondholders.
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he estimates they're owed $15- billion dollars. >> behind wall street, there's a lot of individual people who have their savings in these instruments. >> reporter: rojo is alarmed by the puerto rican government's plan to pay back less than a quarter of the debt it owes over the next decade. >> it's quite clear, and it's scientifically impossible to say otherwise, it is the bondholders who have been targeted as the ones who are going to pay for the crisis. and i think that's a huge mistake. >> reporter: he'd like to see the size of puerto rico's government shrunk even more, and the 78 separate municipalities on the island consolidate their services. the oversight board forecasts the island's economy will continue to shrink through 2021 before starting to grow. yet outside economists, such as nobel laureate joseph stiglitz, warn the board's austerity measures will all but guarantee a social as well as an economic catastrophe. are there examples of economies
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elsewhere in the world that have eventually grown under austerity? >> puerto rico's situation is very specific. it is unlike greece in that it is not a sovereign nation. if folks here do not care for what's going on, they will move off island. comparisons are difficult in light of puerto rico's territorial situation. >> reporter: puerto rico has been under u.s. control since the end of the spanish-american war in 1898, and in 1947 was granted an elected government. but as an unincorporated territory, the u.s. congress in washington can override the island's laws, and puerto ricans cannot vote for president and have no voting representation in congress. the appointment of a fiscal control board and the effect of austerity measures on the island have re-ignited a decades-old debate regarding puerto rico's relationship to the united states. many people here, including the governor, believe a solution to
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the economic crisis will never be found unless the territory's political status is resolved once and for all. >> the voice of the puerto rican people was loud and clear. >> reporter: last month, 97% of puerto ricans voted for the territory to become the 51st u.s. state in a referendum organized by the island's pro- statehood governor. yet only 23% of eligible voters turned out. the vote was heavily boycotted by those favoring independence and the status quo of remaining a commonwealth. it's up to congress to ratify statehood, but previous referenda have been ignored, and the current movement has scant support on capitol hill. >> if we're american citizens, we should strive to have first- class treatment in puerto rico. >> reporter: former puerto rican secretary of state kenneth mcclintock is president of" equality for puerto rico", a pro-statehood lobby group. >> once we move to orlando, or new york, or texas, or north carolina, we're treated as first class citizens. we have the right to vote, we
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have the right to congressional representation, we have the right to participate in every federal program. >> reporter: mcclintock believes puerto rico's territory status led to the crisis, in part, because past governments were forced to borrow for essential services like roads and health care. for example, puerto rico receives much less federal funding for medicaid than u.s. states do. >> the truth is that there will not be a stable fiscal situation, economic situation in puerto rico, until there's economic growth. and there will not be a healthy economic growth rate until there is equality. >> i'm one of the people that believe that we should definitely attend to the issue of status. but it's not a magic wand that will resolve all of our problems. >> reporter: manuel natal, a representative in puerto rico's own legislature, favors remaining a commonwealth with more economic sovereignty. for example, he'd like congress to repeal the century-old law
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that requires all imports to arrive on american made and manned ships, which makes all food and goods more expensive. >> the tools that we have to achieve economic development in puerto rico, one congress might give it to you, another congress might take it away. >> reporter: but for some on the island, the solution for puerto rico is separating from the u.s. and becoming a sovereign nation. >> puerto rico is a latin american, caribbean nationality with its own identity. >> reporter: puerto rican senator juan delmau leads the puerto rican independence party, the third largest on the island. >> ( translated ): an independent puerto rico would have political and legal authority to join the global community and open markets while at the same time maintaining friendship and cooperation with the u.s. but on an equal footing, not in political subordination. >> reporter: while challenges to the status quo persist, last month, the federally appointed
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financial oversight board approved deep spending cuts to puerto rico's budget. >> regardless of how anyone feels about status in puerto rico, you need a balanced budget. >> reporter: this graffiti on one san juan street reads "down with his majesty jose carrion" >> it makes me sad, and you know, i'm not a politician, so i'm learning to deal with criticism of that nature. >> reporter: yet, carrion says he understands the criticism that his board is not accountable to the island's residents. >> there's no way anybody could conceivably think that this is a democratic process. but, how about looking at the positive sides. the law, it provides us the opportunity to procure a way forward, and to restructure, you know, $72-billion worth of debt. we need to take this opportunity that congress has provided us and move our people and our island forward.
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>> sreenivasan: there have been a rash of acid attacks in the u.k, where the victims are doused with chemicals. there were five such incidents just this past thursday. now the british parliament is considering tougher sentences for perpetrators of acid attacks. itn's helena carter has more. >> i'm still shocked. i'm scared. with i when i think about aas to how these things happen and why me. >> reporter: these things happened just a few days ago. javad is lucky not to be scarred physically but the mental effect is huge. >> still got pain all over my body. >> reporter: now ministers
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are facing calls to tighter laws and tougher sentences, to people who carry out acid attacks in england and wales, since 2010 there have been 1800 attacks of corrosive substances across britain. more than 400 attacks were carried out in england and ways and means and where the offender was known one in five was younger than 18. the government review will look into classing acid as a dangerous weapon and improving support to victims. >> lots of victims have said that their lives have been ruined. why aren't there life sentences to really make sure the whole system really responds urgently and thoroughly to this appalling crime. >> for those who have already been through horror of an acid attack this action is vital. >> you can't do anything because it is not in our hand. the government should have taken action before. >>reporter: exactly how to crack down on these life changing acid
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attacks will be debated in the commons tomorrow. >> sreenivasan: finally, tennis great roger federer says he always believed he could come back and do it again. he won the wimbledon men's singles title for a record eighth time today, beating marin cilic in straight sets, for his first wimbledon crown since 2012. at 35, federer is the oldest men's champion in the modern era, and this, his 19th grand slam trophy, is the most of any men. steffi graf, serena williams, and margaret court have all won more grand slam singles titles. on "the newshour" tomorrow, how that delay in the senate republican healthcare plan vote may affect its outcome. that's all for this edition of" pbs newshour weekend." thanks for watching. i'm hari sreenivasan. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill. 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.
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captioning sponsored by wpbt >> narrator: in the spring of 2008, an 84-foot pleasure boat departed from fort lauderdale bound for the caribbean. 30 miles south of miami, it strayed from marked navigation channels into the shallow waters of biscayne national park. suddenly, running at full speed, it collided with a coral reef near elliot key. corals, sponges and sea fans were instantly obliterated as the boat's twin propellers plowed through the reef. the engines were disabled, and the powerless vessel drifted in the wind until grounding on a second reef. here, the wind and waves rocked the boat on its hull, shattering the ancient coral mounds and pounding the reef into rubble. a coral reef that had taken centuries to grow was destroyed

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