tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS October 7, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, october 7: the gulf coast prepares for hurricane nate; authorities in las vegas, still searching for the mass shooter's motive; and" america addicted"-- states sue drugmakers to repay the costs of the opioid epidemic. 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. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.b.p. foundation. 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. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. another powerful hurricane is heading for the u.s. mainland. hurricane nate is expected to strengthen to a category two storm, with sustained winds of 110 miles an hour, when it makes landfall along the gulf of mexico coast tonight. louisiana, mississippi and alabama are in the storm's path, and new orleans declared a curfew tonight of 7:00. the coast guard has ordered ports closed from new orleans to
pensacola, and almost all offshore oil platforms in the gulf are shut down. hurricane nate has already caused at least 25 deaths in central america. nate would be the third hurricane to strike the gulf coast in six weeks. puerto rico's governor said today the back-to-back hurricanes, maria and irma, are the most devastating event in the island's modern history. 2.5 weeks after maria devastated the u.s. territory, only 12% of the island has electricity. 44% has phone service, and 80% of gas stations are open. but 80% of the fall harvest is wiped out, and only half of the island's 3.5 million residents have clean drinking water. today in san juan, homeland security officials and the first congressional delegation to visit since maria said restoring the power grid is the top priority. >> more communities are returning to closer to normal every single day, but there is
still much work to be done. >> sreenivasan: the congressional delegation said it's considering a $12.5 billion aid package for puerto rico and other states affected by the hurricanes. investigators into last sunday's mass shooting at an outdoor concert in las vegas are asking the public for leads into the motives of the shooter, who took his own life. authorities are putting up billboards asking anyone with relevant information to contact the f.b.i. vice president mike pence went to las vegas today to take part in a ceremony paying tribute to the 58 people killed and more than 500 injured. this followed an interfaith unity walk from the massacre site to city hall. iran is defending its current nuclear deal with the u.s. and other world powers. a defiant iranian president hassan rouhani said today the deal cannot be undermined by president trump and "even if ten other trumps are created in the world, these are not reversible." mr. trump is expected to announce next week the u.s. will decertify the 2015 deal whereby iran agreed to limit its nuclear
program in return for easing of economic sanctions. united nations inspectors have verified iran is in compliance with the deal. britain says the deal is working to diminish iran's stockpile of nuclear material. in spain, the catalonia region is considering declaring independence as soon as next week. this follows last sunday's referendum. today, tens of thousands of spaniards-- many wearing white-- rallied in barcelona and madrid and other cities to call for dialogue between spanish and catalan leaders. in a separate madrid rally, anti-secession protesters waved spanish flags and called for spanish unity. there were no reports of violence. anti-government protests across russia today were timed to coincide with president vladimir putin's 65th birthday. the largest was in moscow, where several hundred turned out to support opposition leader alexei navalny, who's been jailed once again. protesters demanded navalny be allowed to run for president in the election next march. mr. putin is expected to seek a
fourth term. see what cybersecurity experts say about the equifax data breach. visit www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: hurricane maria destroyed puerto rico's power grid, but it turns out puerto rico's power company was in deep trouble before the storm struck two weeks ago. reuters' reporter jessica resnick-ault has reported on that side of the story, and she joins me now from metairie, louisiana, where she is deployed to cover hurricane nate. so here we are this far out after the storm, and according to the status that the governor's office in puerto rico is saying, 11.7% of the power is back? >> at this point. you know, you would expect really to be returning close to full power, but you have to assume that in this case, it's just the low-hanging fruit that's been brought back online. so this was the 11% that was easy to get to, and now they're going to have to run power lines across mountains. there are really serious hurdles to getting the rest of the
island back into service. >> sreenivasan: one of the things that's your report points out is they had kind of a staffing migration of people that's left the power company. the people who are going to be able to put the grid back together found better jobs on the mainland because of the way the economy is going. >> puerto rico has had an incredible emigration out of the island to the mainland, and the power company is no exception to the rule. they've lost thousands of employees over the last five years. some people estimate as many as 4,000 or more employees have left the company. >> sreenivasan: one of the things that was startling from the report is there is really not a steady stream of revenue. not everybody pays their power bills. >> right. even the government has not paid its own power bills. there are up to $700 million in uncollected bills from government agencies. >> sreenivasan: i've heard that some of the tech companies are trying to start helping. i mean, we saw kind of a twitter conversation roll out between elon musk and the governor
yesterday, saying perhaps solar and batteries can be part of your solution, if you're rethinking this thing from scratch. >> but even before the storm, there had been discussions about solar and renewables. they even made it to the department of energy level with puerto rican officials meeting with the d.o.e. but those conversations have never materialized in real change in puerto rico's grid because prepa and its board have such control over the island's electricity grilled and have been resistant to change that would bring in new utilities. >> sreenivasan: so where do you start building and where do you start fixing the infrastructure? what do the army corps of engineers and what do other forces do? do you start with key places, lieb the hospitals and other crucial infrastructure, the power and water? >> so they have a list of priorities and they'll start with critical infrastructure, like hospitals, police stations, and go from there. they're very focused on making sure that any infrastructure that has to do with fuel is
restored. so as long as people are relying upon diesel generators they need to make sure that stations that provide diesel are functioning and accessible. >> sreenivasan: all right. this is going to be a long, long recovery. jessica resnick-ault from reuters, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much for your time. >> sreenivasan: as the newshour has reported all week, america's opioid epidemic claims 91 lives every day. in ohio, fatal overdoses now outnumber deaths from car crashes. to give you an idea of how pervasive the problem is in ohio, emergency responders there have administered the life- saving, overdose-reversing medication narcan more than 50,000 times in the past year and a half. in tonight's signature segment, newshour weekend special correspondent chris bury explains why ohio is now suing companies that make opioid painkillers. this story is part of the
special newshour series," america addicted." >> reporter: in ohio, the climbing costs of the opioid epidemic are reflected in the shattered lives of people like ashley taylor. for the 26-year-old single mother of three, the road to addiction began in high school, with pain pills often stolen from the parents of friends. by 16, she was snorting, then shooting, heroin because it was cheaper and easy to buy in the small southern ohio town of jackson, where she lives. when did you know that you were addicted? >> i'd say probably within a couple of weeks of doing them because, you know, your body starts hurting and aching really bad. and like, you're just, like, so sick that you have to have it. >> reporter: ashley says she's been clean and sober for just over a year, but the costs to her and to ohio are still piling up. to begin, she lost custody of her three children after police raided her home on suspicion she
was selling drugs. >> they kicked in my doors, and my kids were home at the time. and there was multiple other people in my house, and they all just kind of threw their needles on the floor. and so, of course, i was the one that got arrested, and they took my kids at the exact same time. >> reporter: ashley was charged with child endangerment and spent two weeks in jail. >> welcome to drug court, jackson county municipal court. >> reporter: but in a deal with jackson county's drug court, set up to handle a deluge of opioid cases, ashley's guilty plea is on hold while she follows judge mark musick's orders on treatment over two years. >> okay, i see that you're still doing your full schedule with task and h.r.s., and you're compliant. >> reporter: the costs of compliance are high: every day, ashley gets a ride to her aunt's house to visit her three kids. ohio's child protective services, or c.p.s., placed ashley's seven-year-old daughter and two boys, four and six, in the custody of ashley's aunt.
c.p.s. pays her $474 a month to help raise the kids. foster care for children placed because of their parents' drug addiction, mainly from opioids, costs ohio $45 million a year. ashley's youngest child was born drug dependent; treatment for such children costs ohio another $130 million a year. >> and they're still supportive of your sobriety, right? >> yeah. very, actually. >> reporter: every week, ashley must attend multiple counseling sessions and get tested for drugs. and for eight months, ashley needed shots of the anti-addiction drug, vivitrol. they cost more than $1,000 per injection. overall, such medications and the counseling cost ohio medicaid $216 million last year. and that doesn't include the costs of ohio's opioid epidemic
to its hospitals, prisons and police, or the rising death count. in 2016, 4,050 people in ohio died of overdoses, chiefly painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. that was a 33% increase over 2015 and a 642% increase since 2000. >> think about this. we're losing ten people, we think, every single day in the state of ohio. >> reporter: those staggering losses and rising costs led ohio attorney general mike dewine, a former u.s. senator now running for governor, to sue five major producers of opioid painkillers. >> ...companies that we conclude spent millions of dollars to deceptively market their drugs. >> reporter: ohio's lawsuit levels an explosive charge: that the pharmaceutical companies deliberately misled doctors and the public to downplay the addictive qualities and hyped the benefits of painkillers that earn them billions of dollars a
year. >> the evidence, we think, is overwhelming. we think it shows that what they did was... they did on purpose. they told physicians and spent millions, hundreds of millions of dollars, to get this message across to physicians that these opioids were not very addictive. >> reporter: the companies sued include purdue pharma, which makes the widely prescribed painkiller, oxycontin; johnson and johnson; teva pharmaceuticals; endo health solutions; and allergan. the pharmaceutical companies filed a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit. none agreed to our requests to be interviewed. purdue pharma told "newshour weekend": in a statement to us, jannsen, a johnson and johnson subsidiary, noted its painkiller pills...
is that going to be difficult for you to convince a jury that this was harmful, when the f.d.a. was very clear in its approval? >> well, merely because the f.d.a. approves something does not mean that a pharmaceutical company cannot mislead people. and i think the evidence is clearly going to show they did consistently over a number of decades. >> reporter: attorney jodi avergun is a former chief of staff for the drug enforcement administration. now, she represents drug companies, though she's not involved in this lawsuit. >> the people that pharmaceutical reps market to are doctors; they're trained physicians. and an opioid is an addictive drug. so, it's hard for me to believe that there is a naive population of doctors out there to whom pharmaceutical sales representatives were able to lie and mislead to the extent that's alleged in the lawsuit. >> reporter: as evidence, the lawsuit cites pamphlets and educational guides, and claims
companies paid sales reps and doctors millions of dollars to promote opioids and play down the risks of addiction. this video was produced by purdue pharma. >> and so, these drugs, which i repeat are our best, strongest pain medications should be used much more than they are for patients in pain. >> reporter: dr. dona alba treats addicts in jackson, ohio. she was a family physician for 20 years and says pharma company representatives frequently pushed opioids. >> they often came to the office. they pitched the product as the best possible analgesic for your patients, irrespective of the source of their pain, whether it was acute or whether it was chronic. >> reporter: and what kind of risk did they talk about or warn about? >> none. >> reporter: and what about the risk of addiction? >> none! they said these products did not cause people to become addicted, so they were safe to use. >> reporter: in its lawsuit, ohio also accuses big pharma of "taking a page" from big tobacco
in the way they minimized risks of addiction. now, ohio has hired michael moore, the former mississippi attorney general who helped win a $246 billion settlement with tobacco companies in the 1990s. >> it's just like the tobacco case. you have folks who made billions of dollars by lying to the american public and causing a huge public nuisance, and in this case, killing 60,000 people a year. who should pay for that? the taxpayers or the companies who made the billions of dollars? in my view, the companies ought to pay for it. >> the critical difference here is that this case is involving medicine; it's involving something that people in the health care business are making and distributing. tobacco was a product that people enjoyed and smoked, and there was no claim that it was good for you. so, i think that that's a very huge difference. >> reporter: ohio's attorney general filed this lawsuit here in chillicothe, in the southern
part of the state, bordering the appalachian mountains. in this county of 77,000 people, the lawsuit claims more than 1.6 million opioid pills were prescribed in 2015 alone. that's the equivalent of 21 pills for every man, woman and child here in ross county. >> well, we got him into treatment, and he doesn't have a ride today. >> reporter: chillicothe police detective bud lytle leads a team that tries to get overdose survivors into treatment. >> did we have the double overdose in 12 north high? >> reporter: in this county, fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers have now been overtaken by those from heroin and fentanyl. but lytle sees a strong tie. do you see a direct connection from the opioids to heroin and fentanyl? >> 70% to 80% of the individuals that i deal with, their addictions started with a legitimate prescription from a doctor and then taking it the way the doctor had originally prescribed until they became addicted. eventually, what happens is, the pills are much more expensive than heroin, much more expensive
than fentanyl to buy on the street. >> reporter: lytle's entire job is to battle the opioid epidemic. every wednesday, his team visits the homes of everyone in the county who overdosed the week before. >> hey, logan what's up, man? >> reporter: during our visit, he checked up on 21-year-old logan mcgraw at his mother's home. he had overdosed six times on heroin and fentanyl over the last month. >> yeah, i was at my house, and my mom found me unconscious. >> do you have your insurance card with you? >> reporter: detective lytle takes logan to a treatment center. his bill will cost ohio more than $5,000 a month. overall, the state claims, fatal overdoses, medical expenses and lost work cost ohioans $4 billion a year. a cascade of opioids lawsuits against big pharma by ohio and nine other states raises the odds of a settlement, according to michael moore. he'd like to see any money recovered used to help addicts
and prevent opioid use. >> a prevention and education program will cost at least $100 million a year, similar to what we did in the tobacco cases to reduce youth smoking. we also hope and learned a lesson from tobacco that we can get court orders that will say money has to go into treatment, money has to go into prevention. >> reporter: ashley taylor agrees. after years of not working because of her addiction and arrests, she now has a part-time job at this fast food outlet. she's saving to rent a three-bedroom home big enough to fit her three kids. if she does that and stays clean, she can get her children back in legal custody again. >> i graduated a parenting class. so, as long as i'm clean and i get a big house, like, you know, for them, then they can come home with me. >> reporter: you're looking forward to that? >> yes, i am. like, i'm so excited.
>> sreenivasan: following yesterday's move to allow businesses to opt out of contraception coverage in employee healthcare plans, the trump administration is now directing federal agencies to promote what it calls "religious liberty" but what critics call" discrimination." politico's josh gerstein is covering this development and joins me now from washington. let's break this down. this is much broader than just contraception coverage we heard a lot about yesterday. >> right. you're really talking about policies across the federal government. some of them affecting things like even disaster relief. some of the them affecting participation in elections, could also have an impact on l.g.b.t. rights, and the degree to which employers have to treat those members of the l.g.b.t. groups fairly. so it's something that could potentially impact a wide real estate of government programs, particularly when the government delivers those services directly, when you're talking
about them using contractors, who either for-profit or nonprofit may now say they have religious concerns or moral concerns. >> sreenivasan: this isn't proposed legislation that the have to make its way through congress, it's a memo. >> it's technically legal guidance. it's not a dprective or a policy, but it has a robust view of what is religious freedom, eople believe it couldr, many effectively become a license to discriminate. you might have people who, say, work in a social security office and are responsible for arranging benefits who might say, you know "for religious reasons i don't believe in gay marriage, so i don't want to deal with any gay couples that may come into the office seeking services." >> sreenivasan: how does this effect, possibly, law enforcement? religious profiling, for example, could be shielded by the guidance that's being offered today. >> i think it's fair to say president trump certainly as a candidate was pretty tough on muslims, and there was a big focus on terrorism and blaming
muslims for terrorism. but under this policy, there seems to be a very broad kind te sort of liberty under this particular policy and say, "look, you know, just because i'm an adherent of some particular sect that might have a violent ideology, i haven't done anything or talked to anybody about anything, so you really should leave me alone." >> sreenivasan: and a lot of folks saw this coming. the family research council had a quote saying the president is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom. and you have folks from the a.c.l.u. saying they could be making women pay for their boz's view. >> right. a number of people did see this coming for a while. we knew that this issue about contraception was hanging out
there at the end of the obama administration due to litigation brought during the obama era and the trump folks would have to make a decision on it. the official policy of the tru is all pairs should be able to get out of the all. >> sreenivasan: josh gerstein, from politico, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: in 11 minutes of rapid gunfire into a las vegas concert crowd last sunday night, a mass shooter killed 58 people attending a concert. as the newshour has done all week, tonight we remember the final ten of those victims. like so many people killed, dorene anderson was visiting las vegas from out of state. she was a stay-at-home mom and wife from alaska with a passion for ice hockey. denise burditus attended the
concert with her husband, both seen here less than an hour before the massacre began. she was shot as they fled the scene. heather alvarado was a mother of three from utah who came to the three-day country music festival with her family. her husband says, "she always saw the good in others." hannah ahlers was also a mother of three children-- seen here-- from california. she went to the festival with her husband. her father-in-law says heather" lit up the world with her smile." victor link was also from california. his son said on facebook he wa"" the best dad any one son could ever have." carly kreibaum, a mother of two young children, from iowa, attended the concert with friends. calla medig went to the festival every year-- this year, with her best friend, who got her to a hospital. medig is one of four victims from canada. tara roe was also canadian. she was a model, a teaching assistant and mother of two young boys. carrie parsons lived in seattle
and was recently engaged. a childhood friend says, "she would always say ¡live, laugh, love.'" and pati mestas loved country music and moved closer to the stage when jason aldean started performing. a friend says she was a great mother and grandmother and "an amazing person." >> sreenivasan: finally, on the broadcast and online tomorrow, our series "america addicted" continues with a look at opioid addicts getting detox treatment in jail. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. thanks for watching. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a 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. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory 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. be more. pbs.
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