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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  December 23, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, december 23: the united states increases its involvement in the conflict between ukraine and russia; in our signature segment, trying to prevent dangerous conflicts when elephants come into contact with people; and a filmmaker tries to make sense of the opioid epidemic in his hometown. 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.p.b. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill. barbara hope zuckerberg.
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corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. and by: >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on >> 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 expected to approve a plan to provide ukrainian forces with lethal weapons in their battle with russian-backed separatists. the state department confirmed the deal, saying the assistance
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is "entirely defensive in nature," intended to help ukraine "defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression." the type of weapons to be sent were not specified but several reports indicate that it would include javelin anti-tank missiles. the united states had previously provided ukraine with training and support equipment. today, russian deputy foreign minister sergey ryabkov condemned the decision, saying the u.s. had "crossed a line." this follows wednesday's announcement permitting the sale of smaller lethal arms from the u.s. to ukraine. the f.b.i. says it has recovered several guns and a martyrdom letter from the home of a man agents believe wanted to attack san francisco's pier 39 on christmas day. 26-year-old everitt aaron jameson is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. according to an f.b.i. affidavit, jameson asked an undercover agent posing as a senior isis leader for help obtaining weapons and bomb
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making materials before telling the agent that he reconsidered the attack and could not carry it out. jameson denied the charges during a hearing yesterday. three matters in various courts affecting trump administration policies. ump's immigration agenda hasent been setback in an appeals court decision. the ninth circuit ruled late yesterday that the president's travel ban exceeds the scope of his authority. the decision does not immediately lift the restrictions on travelers coming from syria, yemen, iran, libya, somalia and chad. that's because the judges put their decision on hold to allow the supreme court time to review the case. next, president trump's ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military may also head to the supreme court. on friday, the u.s. court of appeals issued a preliminary injunction against the ban going into effect, and the pentagon is set to begin accepting recruits on january 1. the justice department had asked the court to intervene and put the enrollment date on hold. and finally, there's the presidential advisory commission on election integrity.
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a federal judge has ruled in favor of a member who said the commission was excluding him from its business and withholding documents from him and other members. matthew dunlap, maine's secretary of state and one of four democrats on the 12-person commission, filed a suit against the group in november. he claimed that he had been denied access to its working documents, correspondence and schedules, and he only heard about the commission's work after it became public. the commission, which is chaired by vice president mike pence, was formed in may to address claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, which president trump has said cost him the popular vote. test your knowledge of this year's news. visit our web site at >> sreenivasan: on thursday, in cities across the nation, people gathered to mark "national homeless persons memorial day," to honor those who died in 2017 and to call attention to america's ongoing homeless problem. for decades, cities have been
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dealing with their homeless populations by simply giving them a bus ticket and sending them out of town. however, what happens to the homeless once they reach the end of the line has rarely been documented. but this week, the "guardian" published the results of an 18- month investigation called "bussed out," analyzing more than 34,000 such bus trips. joining me now from san francisco is the editor of the story, alastair gee. who is the editor for "the guardian." first of all, 18 months long i guess what's the summary, what's the thing that you found that was most interesting? >> hi, hari, thanks so much. we went into this knowing that these programs are a way of resolving homelessness, there are official reports that say these bus programs are a, quote, exit from homelessness. so we wanted to find out if that was actually the case. we found a much more mixed picture than that top line summary from cities which have you believe.
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we found that sure in some cases it was really great solution for some people, they ended up reconnecting with family, friends, finding stability. others we found had simply disappeared, they relatives had more contact with them or they had simply continued being homeless in different cities. >> sreenivasan: one of your visualizations shows it's like musical chairs, people are being shuttled back and forth across the country. you found out that here in new york there are actually buy in certain cases plane tickets, tell us about that. >> that was one of by far the more interesting things that we found in the states, dozens of records requests to cities around the country. new york is really idiosyncratic in the sense that around 600 people were being sent on sometimes expensive plane journeys across the world. the longest journey we found from a homeless person traveling to wellington, new zealand, of
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all places. it also sent around 2500 people back to puerto rico. so, yeah, if you wanted to find the most exotic list of destinations you would look at new york. >> sreenivasan: you also started and ended your story with an individual that was leaving san francisco, tell us about him. >> quinn was a guy that i met outside san francisco's homeward bound office in the summera young guy, 27 years old, originally from indianapolis. and he had been homeless just through a series of what i thought to be just unlucky circumstances. he had an early drug conviction that derailed his funds of going into the military which was his dream. and so he had ended up several years later in homeless in several western towns in san francisco. he was hoping to go back to his hometown of indianapolis, just because he had been exhausted and tired from homeless life in san francisco and i saw him, he just looked physically tired. and so, i saw him off to the bus
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station, then couple of weeks later, i spoke to him on the phone. things weren't going so well in indianapolis, then almost about a month later after he left, i spoke to him and he said i'm on a bus back to san francisco. things didn't work out in indianapolis, my friends entered a drug addiction program, the friend that i was staying with, i had no where to stay, i was homeless again there. today, quinn's situation is s before he took the bus.s it he is around a suitcase on broken heels, trying to find holes for tents that he found to sleep in. he's living back in san francisco in almost exactly the same location as he was before he took the ticket. >> sreenivasan: slastair gee, the homelessness editor joining us from san francisco. thanks so much. >> thank you, hari. >> sreenivasan: on pbs newshour weekend tomorrow, our look at the homeless crisis in america continues. megan thompson reports from hawaii on efforts to turn things around in a state with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation.
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>> sreenivasan: in the serengeti region of tanzania, african elephants routinely graze into farmers' crops and destroy the livelihood of poor villages. and when those farmers try to protect their fields, they risk being trampled to death. some are forced to kill the elephants in self defense. now, there's a surprising new method for preventing human elephant conflict: remote- controlled drones. in a story we first brought you in april, newshour weekend special correspondent christopher livesay traveled to tanzania to see what can be done to protect both the elephants and the people who live among them. >> reporter: the massive elephant footprints are still visible in kusekwa elias' cornfield. just outside the serengeti national park in rural tanzania, he says an elephant pillaged the field two days earlier. >> ( translated ): there is no animal we hate here more than the elephant. the elephants destroy our food. children sleep hungry. sometimes you cultivate acres only to find out that elephants have eaten them all.
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>> reporter: to keep elephants safely apart from people and their crops, park rangers are training with remote-controlled drones a few miles away. it sounds like a swarm of bees, and that's precisely the idea. >> so, we're trying to turn them around and get them going back. so there's the matriarch is being vigilant while the rest leave. >> reporter: nathan hahn is a researcher with the american non-profit, resolve. in this training exercise, an elephant stands its ground against the drone but quickly backs away. >> there they go. >> reporter: for the last three years, hahn has been studying the use of drones to prevent what's known as human-elephant conflict, when elephants cross paths with human beings. >> human-elephant conflict, it's a big problem anywhere there's elephants and people coexisting, and it's very tough to deal with. elephants need a lot of resources and a lot of space to move. and people also need that same space and resources to develop and grow economically. so, you get this butting of heads around park boundaries where wildlife is.
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>> reporter: the serengeti ecosystem in tanzania is made up of serengeti national park and a network of game reserves and wildlife management areas just outside of it. inside the park, there are clear rules meant to protect both animals and humans. for instance, you can drive only on marked roads and must stay in your vehicle at all times. but just outside the park is another story; nothing stops animals, including elephants, from wandering into areas where people live. while the african elephant population has fallen 30% over the last decade, the elephant population has increased in the serengeti thanks in part to anti-poaching efforts. since 2006, the number of elephants is up more than 250%. at the same time, the human population has also grown, increasing more than 50% since 2002. >> regarding the habitat, being also very observant. >> reporter: julius keyyu is the
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director of research at the tanzania wildlife research institute, a government agency. >> the increase in human population has resulted in the demand for more land for human settlement, for cultivation, for livestock grazing. >> reporter: so, both people and elephants are fighting over the same natural resources? >> natural resources, because it is becoming scarce, because of climate change. so, you see wildlife, people, livestock are sharing water resources. >> reporter: and that's created a greater likelihood of conflict. farmer mbesi ndongo says an elephant nearly killed him a year and a half ago. >> ( translated ): the elephant was hiding in the forest and came suddenly and knocked me down on my head. i picked myself up, but it pulled me back with its trunk and threw me. i knew that by the time it would
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be done with me, i would be dead. but i did not want to die without fighting. >> reporter: the attack left him with a fractured skull and wrist. he still suffers from pain today and can no longer farm, so he has trouble supporting his family. veterinarian and animal protection specialist nick de souza says destruction caused by elephants can lead people to violently retaliate. >> this could be a spear, bow and arrow. slingshots are used a lot. unfortunately, the worst of all is the use of poisons. >> reporter: de souza has worked for conservation groups for the past 15 years. >> the consequences are appalling. you find both dead and dying animals in quite large numbers that cross-cut across the whole family spectrum, from tiny babies to grandmothers. >> reporter: there are no reliable numbers on how many elephants people kill in self defense or retaliation around
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the world, but conservationists believe the problem is getting worse. from sub-saharan africa to indonesia, to india, elephants kill hundreds of people every year. >> what's really the challenge is that the population that co- exists with elephants are the most marginalized communities on earth. >> reporter: in those communities, there are a variety of old-fashioned methods for preventing elephant incursions: scaring them off with loud noises, as these rural tanzanians demonstrated; surrounding crops with fences covered in hot chili oil, which torment elephants' sensitive trunks; and rangers charging at them with vehicles or using guns. many of those tactics can put humans dangerously close to an elephant. but wildlife ranger rainley mbawala says the newest method of using drones is much less risky. >> ( translated ): when you use a gun, sometimes the elephant charges back, or you may fire a
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gun and end up firing at a villager accidentally. but the drone has no bad effects because even when the elephant charges, nobody is caught in between. >> reporter: over time, elephants often outsmart conflict mitigation tools once they get used to them. but researchers say, so far, elephants haven't caught onto drones. the breakthrough came a few years ago when researchers were taking aerial photos of elephants and made a surprising discovery. >> it turns out they're very scared of the drones. they would run away almost instantly. >> reporter: there was a sort of unintended benefit. >> you think you're using a drone just to film some elephants, and, all of a sudden, you've discovered this new way to deal with human-elephant conflict. >> reporter: hahn and his research group now train serengeti park rangers to use the drones and collect data to measure their effectiveness. in 2016, hahn and julius keyyu co-authored a study of 51 instances in which drones were deployed. they worked every time. >> i just need to land.
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>> reporter: of course, the drones have limitations. >> the wind is too strong! >> reporter: they don't work in high winds and rain. >> whoo! >> reporter: they're also harder to use at night, when most elephants raid crops, so rangers need to use them in tandem with a strong spotlight. and drones are of no use if rangers can't arrive to deploy them, as we saw during a night patrol the rangers allowed us to join. on this night, there's not a single vehicle on hand, so rangers are limited to what they can cover by foot. if a farmer calls to report an elephant threat just a few miles away, they're on their own. serengeti district game officer john lendoyan oversees the region. he's not yet convinced that drones can be effective and says that at roughly $800 per drone, he has more pressing priorities. >> ( translated ): the issue of human-elephant conflict is sometimes very difficult for us to address because of lack of resources including people,
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vehicles, and sometimes fuel. so, implementing these new techniques is difficult. >> reporter: lendoyan is focused on educating people to avoid elephant habitats and to appreciate the value they bring to the country's tourism industry. but many farmers we met with-- including kusekwa elias, whose cornfield was pillaged-- say elephants are the government's real priority. >> ( translated ): from the way we see it, elephants are more valuable than humans since they can destroy our crops, and nothing is done. >> reporter: for now, hahn and his group, resolve, are donating drones to the rangers, though they hope tanzania will eventually pay for them. resolve is also working with the government to try and find longer-term solutions. solution, but in the end it's what is needed right now and that's how we look at drones.
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>> sreenivasan: america's opioid epidemic, the deadliest drug epidemic in american history, rages on. according to the center for disease control, there were 42,249 overdoses in 2016, a 28% increase from the year before. for filmmaker alex hogan, those numbers hit very close to home. growing up in somerville, massachusetts, hogan saw firsthand how one town can be devastated by opioids. as a multimedia journalist for stat, the health and science web site affiliated with the "boston globe," it is also his job is to report on the crisis. as part of our ongoing series of conversations with documentary filmmakers, newshour weekend's christopher booker recently sat down with hogan and his co- director to discuss "runnin'," their film chronicling the opioid epidemic in somerville. >> reporter: alex hogan knows how the opioid epidemic ends for
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him. >> the crisis is almost done impacting me because i've already lost all my friends, you know. almost all my friends. all my friends that have been using are almost all gone already. >> reporter: since 2001, the filmmaker has seen more than a dozen of the kids he grew up with die due to opioid addiction. people from his neighborhood, people he played hockey with and went to school with in somerville, massachusetts. for those who remain, to hear them talk about it now in hogan's new documentary, "runnin'," the opioid crisis arrived in somerville, a suburb just northwest of boston, as it did in many towns across america. oxycontin pills, which hogan and his friends called o.c.s, came first, then came heroin. >> do oxy, play hockey, go to parties. before the games, we were in the bathroom sniffing o.c.s. >> it really is an origin story. >> reporter: matthew orr is the co-director of "runnin'." >> we're talking about alex and his friends going to high school in the early 2000s just as oxycontin was sort of flooding the streets of the country and
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was being overly prescribed in doctors' offices all over the country. and so, alex's friends were taking oxycontin as a party drug because at the time it was a bit of a pill culture going on. kids were doing all sorts of pills, and here's just another pill to have fun with at a party. not quite realizing how addictive that drug is and that it actually does in many cases lead to heroin. >> and that's when you could really tell the difference. once the heroin was... was being used widely, i mean, people started dying and stuff, and it was pretty awful. >> reporter: the first of his friends to die was 17-year-old matty o'brien in 2001. >> for many of us, matty's death was the beginning of the overdose nightmare that continued for the next 16 years. >> reporter: what were those early days like? where did pills come in and how readily available were they? >> they were just as easy, if not easier to find than marijuana or alcohol. it was scary. i mean, you could really see how it can take hold and take over someone's life.
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and next thing you know, they're robbing, stealing to support their habit. and they're just not... and they're really just not the person you feel like you knew once the addiction really took hold. >> reporter: "runnin'" is as much an exploration of what the opioid epidemic has done to hogan's community as it is an attempt by hogan to understand why some of his closest friends-- like alex foster, kevin sullivan and sean curtis-- fell into addiction and he did not. walking through hogan's old neighborhood, he says there are no easy answers. what do you think it was about you and your path that prevented you from going down that same route? >> i wish i had a tidy answer for that. i don't. i think that there's a lot of... there's a lot of different factors there. there's nothing about me that i can point to and say this is what stopped it because any attribute that... that may have kept me from it, it's like, "oh, i have good parents." yeah, but they all had good parents. i didn't really experiment much with drugs in high school. well, neither did alex foster. >> reporter: the opioid crisis
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pretty much unfolded alongside somerville's transformation from a blue-collar community to one of the boston area's most sought after places for young professionals to live. as you lay out in the film, gentrification is a part of what's going on. >> yeah, i think so. i think that there's a lot of factors, for sure. but i think that's something, that feeling of... of being kind of left behind in your own town is just another thing that adds to, you know, kids self- medicate. in somerville, it was particularly difficult for these guys because it was happening right on top of them. >> losing alex, kevin and sean was devastating for me and my friends, but they were just three of many who passed. for those of us who managed to avoid opioids, we would wonder who was next. >> reporter: last year, in massachusetts alone, 2,227 people died from opioid-related overdoses. 22 where in somerville.
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>> this is "pbs newshour weekend," saturday. >> sreenivasan: sam haskell, the c.e.o. of the miss america organization, announced he is resigning immediately over reports of demeaning and sexist emails. on thursday, huffpost reported leaked correspondences that date back to 2014 involving haskell, the lead writer of the pageant show and board members. vulgar language was used in the emails to describe past winners, and contestants were criticized for their appearance and sex lives. miss america's chief operating officer, josh randle, along with multiple board members are also stepping down. the thomas wildfire is now the largest fire in california's recorded history, spanning an area greater than new york city, washington, d.c., and san francisco combined. it started on december 4 and swept through the city of ventura, quickly becoming the largest of multiple fires burning in southern california. it destroyed hundreds of homes and killed two people.
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nearly 3,000 firefighters are still battling the fire which is 65% contained, and say that most of the fire's growth is now due to controlled burns. in the philippines, more than 120 people are dead and 160 others are missing after tropical storm tembin. the storm made landfall on friday, triggering landslides and flash floods in the south of the country. so far, all of the casualties are being reported on the island of mindanao. search and rescue efforts are under way, including in one fishing village, where more than 30 people were swept away by flash floods. the storm struck the province of palawan today and is expected to move toward the south china sea tomorrow. and nasa astronaut bruce mccandless has died. mccandless was the first astronaut to fly free and untethered in space. you may recognize him from this 1984 photo snapped outside of the space shuttle "challenger." the "new york times" called it "a spectacle of bravery and beauty." a cause of death was not given. mccandless was 80 years old.
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that's all for this edition, i'm hari sreenivasan. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> 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 of abby m. o'neill.
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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. and by: >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on 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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>> if i had a secret as to how you could stop yourself from aging badly and actually turn the clock around and feel younger, wouldn't you like to know it? i'm miranda esmonde-white, and i'm going to share that secret with you today. >> miranda esmonde-white is host of the long-running public television fitness show "classical stretch" and author of the book "aging backwards." miranda has been training professional athletes since creating her own fitness technique 15 years ago. >> as i've aged, and i'm now 78, my body feels like i'm, i don't know, 60. >> people are always commenting on how fit i look, and i say, "well, thas


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