tv America Tonight Al Jazeera March 14, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT
next month. >> "america tonight" is next, and you can get the latest on our website aljazeera.com. people. >> also tonight, just when the mystery can't get any stranger, new twists and confusing suggestions about what might have happened to malaysia airline flight 270. >> bundling up, how a few layers of warmth and compassion make all the difference. >> give you a big hug! >> like a big bear on you.
>> good evening, thanks for joining us. i'm joie chen. tonight more attendance is focused on a national crisis we've covered extensively on america tonight, the vicious spread of open yet drugs. earlier today, a just released drug became the target of a sharp debate on capitol hill and the senator's demand that the f.d.a. be forced to recall it. addiction experts warn these become gateways to the exploding heroin addiction problem in places like in rutland vermont, which has a stunning level of heroin addiction and addicts caught in a vicious cycle. >> kim, how long have you been clean now? >> 16 months today. >> today is 16 months. >> yeah. >> congratulations. >> thanks.
>> how does it feel to say that, that you've been clean for 16 months. >> it's surreal. i never thought i'd ever say that. >> 25-year-old kimberly jones says she was one of the busiest heroin dealers in this vermont neighborhood. it's basically an open-air market. we witnessed children playing, as drivers pulled in to make a quick deal. >> i used to buy drugs from there and sell them. >> heroin? >> yep, pills, heroin, whatever. >> in the heart of new england ski country, rutland is ground zero. addiction services are swamped, overdoses leaving more dead and state leaders scrambling to stop it. heroin has become such a serious problem, the governor made it the primary focus of this year's state of the state address. >> every corner of our state, heroin and
open i can't tell -- opiate drug addiction is with us. >> over the last nine months, they have seen the relaps rate at their clinics skyrocket. >> we've certainly seen an increase in the number of people coming back. >> relapsing. >> yes. >> do you have a percentage? >> i'd say it's 15% to 20% more than it used to be. >> he runs serenity house. the state used to pay for addicts to stay 28 days but last july cut that in half. only 14 days, unless patients get a special waiver.
>> what is the ideal number of days that someone should be an in patient rehab? >> if we can get them there another 60, 90 days, the percentage just goes up and up. the longer we can keep them in some form of formal treatment, the better their chances are. >> it's a concern we heard all over the state. two hours north, the director of valley vista treatment center said the relaps since july has increased even more, nearly 100%. >> we asked why the shortened rehab. >> i'm not -- i guess i'm not intimately familiar with that. i can get you that information. >> it seemed odd to us that the health commissioner didn't know about a change that was impacting rehab clinics across the state.
in a follow up conversation, state officials insisted the relapse rate had climbed only 5%, the difference between their figures and those of the clinics they blamed on methodology. dr. chen argues shorter stays in rehab means more addicts can be treated. >> we have the second highest per capita rate of people who need treatment. the number of people that we're treating that increased 10 fold and i think you have to find that to be the best stewards of the dollars to be the most effective for the greatest number of people. >> is 14 days in a rehab facility enough? >> absolutely not. it takes much longer. in my experience, in general, you need about 90 days for people to at least be able to reset their thermostat so that they can have more resist goons
dr. deborah richter is one of vermont's leading addiction specialist. >> i think we do need to spend more money. we need more treatment centers and long term rehab facilities. >> if you have state insurance, they only pay for two weeks at a rehab facility. i think that's bizarre. i know in my first two weeks, i wasn't ready. >> kimberly's now in recovery and she's turned her addiction into advocacy, lobbying for long term rehabilitation so addicts like her have a fighting chance. >> they don't understand that this is a disease. it's not -- i don't suffer from a moral deficiency. it's like anything else. it's like having cancer, you know? i suffer from a disease and there's no known cure. that's really hard to get across to people. >> vermont officials want to
double the amount of money spent on treatment next year with federal help. critics admit the state is trying to stem the tide of addiction. the state's new plan is to cut back existing in-patient treatment and focus on out patient care, giving addicts heroin replacement drugs at five hubs around the state. >> what we want to create is not one size fits everyone, and as we put more capacity on out patient treatment, whether it be out patient treatment or treatment at the methadone hubs, the less we actually will need those extra days. >> that, too, is backfiring. vermont doesn't ever enough d.e.a. certified doctors to prescribe the powerful narcotic and meet growing demand. >> we have a bunch of people waiting on waiting lists.
there's one list in burlington that has 500 to 700 people on it. some of them have been waiting two years. >> in the meantime, they're forced to use heroin. >> or they're dying, yes. >> even though heroin replacement drugs can save lives they remain highly controversial, the pills replacing one addiction with another. >> i think the fear is that some of the behavioral stuff that goes along with addiction, if we're just giving someone a pill to solve the problem may not get addressed or resolved, which i think will come back to haunt people. >> dr. chen admits the challenges are overwhelming. >> i spent 20-25 years in rudland as a physician, politician, legislator, school board member, we raised three
kids there and it was all around us. i think as i said, i consider myself lucky that it didn't happen to one of my kids. >> but it did happen to kimberly, introduced to heroin by her own mother. >> i knew from growing up that drugs were all the way to escape. that's what my mom did for many years, use drugs to get out of reality, so that's what i started doing. >> how did you make the other choice, to clean up when so many people are falling through here? >> i just -- i wanted to live, and i was at a point where i wasn't going to live much longer. >> kim was lucky. she found a way to rehab rather than prison. 80% of the inmates in vermont's prisons are there for drug crimes and kim's mother is one of them, behind bars after kim helped put her there.
>> i was asked if she was still using. i told them yes. she blamed me for that, that that's why she went to jail, because i wouldn't lie for her. >> in order to get clean and stay clean, kim says she can't lie to herself, either. >> it's hard, you know, to admit that, one, that i'm an addict. >> rudland, vermont. >> addiction has a strong vicious connection between heroin and prescription opiates, oxycodone and vicodin. a new drug called zero hydrois on its way into pharmacies and drawing criticism from doctors and experts that it will had to the problem.
i spoke to the physicians for responsible opiod prescribing. >> it's similar to vicodin, which also has hydrocodone in it, except this drug packs a whopping dose, up to 50 milligrams, 10 times as much as in a vicodin. that's enough to kill a child, two capsules could kill an adult who's not used to taking it. it's a highly addictive drug. the united states right now is experiencing an epidemic of addiction to opiods and this has been caused by too much prescribing of pain killers and once people become addicted if they can't get pain killers switch to heroin. we're seeing heroin in parts of the country that never had the problem before. >> there are alternatives and
some important and useful, important to prescribe the products. there are legitimate uses. >> absolutely. these are highly addictive drugs. for example, someone who might be at the end of life suffering with cancer pain where you don't have to worry about addiction it would be appropriate to prescribe the medication. these are useful medications when you prescribe them short term for severe acute pain, where only for a few days to someone who may have just had surgery or was in a very serious accident. where you get into trouble with these medicines is when they're prescribed long term for common chronic conditions, low back pain, fibromyalgia, headache. that's where the bulk of the prescribing is occurring in the united states now and it's that increased use of opiods for
these chronic conditions fueling the epidemic, the c.d.c. calling has the worst drug epidemic in united states history. >> we spoke to the spokesman for the d.e.a. yesterday and attorney holder this week, there is a great deal of concentration on the opiods drugs and connection to heroin and rapid spread of this addiction. do you have concerned drugs are being approved for use? you mentioned the new drug. are you concerned that the f.d.a. is not moving firmly enough to clamp down, to limit the approval of these drugs before they get into the open market? >> yes, i have very serious concerns about all the way f.d.a. has been handling opiods policy. there are many divisions and staff who take the agencies mission to protect the public health very seriously. the analgesic addiction which has been calling the shots for 10-15 years has been making disastrous decisions and when it
comes to public health versus industry, they're really putting industry interests ahead of the public's health which is why they just approved this product. >> we appreciate you're being with us, doctor. >> thank you. >> our special series, addicted in vermont, continues on our next program with a frightening view of the next generation. >> he just went quiet and his lips turned blue. i picked him up and shook him a little bit and wiggled his face, blew in his face and he took a breath. >> born addicted. is there any hope for the babies in a town that suffered the highest righty of heroin addicted moms in the nation? that's next time on america tonight. right after the break: >> killed by the men they loved. domestic violence and vulnerable women.
death in plain sight, next. consider this: the news of the day plus so much more. >> we begin with the government shutdown. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> it seems like they can't agree to anything in washington no matter what. >> antonio mora, award winning and hard hitting. >> we've heard you talk about the history of suicide in your family. >> there's no status quo, just the bottom line. >> but, what about buying shares in a professional athlete? real perspective, consider this on al jazeera america
>> twenty five years ago, pan am flight 103 exploded in the skys above lockerbie. only one man was convicted of the attack >> the major difficulty for the prosecution, that there was no evidence... >> now a three year al jazeera investigation, reveals a very different story about who was responsible >> they refuse to look into this... >> so many people at such a high level had a stake in al megrahi's guilt. lockerbie: what really happened? on al jazeera america
>> violence against women, an epidemic in every corner of america. every day, an average of at least three women are killed by their significant other. the majority are victims of gun violence. fault lines correspondent teresa travels to south carolina, the state with the highest rate of women killed by men to investigate violent domestic homicide. [ ringing ] >> 911, what's the emergency? >> my baby daddy just slapped me in the face and got me bleeding. >> thank you and your name, ma'am? your children's father? >> yes, ma'am. >> what's his name? >> peter williams. he's leaving now. >> does he have access to weapons? >> yes and he might have a resolver on him. >> are you or anyone else in immediate danger?
>> i might be after this phone call. >> she never told any of you that they had an abusive relationship, all the way he was? >> i knew about it. i knew about a couple of incidents and whatever, but i kind of didn't do anything about it, because she asked me not to. >> she was not afraid obviously. >> i think that kia knew he was crazy. i believe she was shrugging it off, he's not going to harm me. i said ok. >> she had broken up with peter williams but they had a baby together, able seven, the youngest of her children. four months later on june 18, 2013, she came home from her job on the night shift at wal-mart to find peter waiting for her. she called her sisters, tony and nicky, who drove to her house.
[ ringing ] >> before we even got there, i was on the phone with the 911 operator. >> is everything ok? >> no, we need a police. >> as soon as we got there, we didn't any anything about it. we just went in. after i walked in the house, he looked different. i said -- he didn't look like human. >> what's wrong? >> i don't want to be here. >> i kept asking her just say i'll be back. >> we were both in the house back and forth trying to get him to let her go. >> every time she get closer to me, he gets closer to her. she move, he moves. she's like tony, he got a gun. i'm like gun? what's really going on here. >> we pleaded with him not to do what he was thinking of
do. >> it's going to be worse. you got a whole baby to think of. >> at one point, he started looking outside. he saw the police. he's like you guys called the police on me. i'm like no, no, it's all right. he was like get out, get out. >> get out now! >> no! >> at that point, he snatched her and i ran out the house. >> he grab her. [ gunshot ] [ screaming ] >> and then i heard the first gunshot and then the second gunshot went off. [ screaming ] [ gunshot ] >> the second shot was peter killing himself.
>> that's her. >> yeah. we were with her and her kids every day, we'd talk everyday, so it's noticeable that she's not here, in the circle talking. you don't want to hurt that person, you not only take that person's life. that day she died, i felt i died, also. sometimes i feel like i'm just walking around here, just existing, just because i'm breathing, but it hurts, every day, it hurts to the core.
>> looking for a small .357 or 38 caliber resolver, preferly made by ruger. this is the weapon that peter used to kill her. >> handguns are the most common weapon used in domestic violence homicides. this is the largest on line gun site in the country. i'm looking for a cheap handgun to around $150. he's laying the money on the bed, completely unregulated, anyone can buy through a private party without going through a background check. >> private sales can be anonymous, no i.d., background
checks or records. critics call this the privacy loophole, 40% have gun sales that are largely invisible. we've been told he that south carolina gun laws contribute to its high rate of domestic homicide. our camera took a gun to a gun show. licensed dealers are required to run background checks and keep track of sales. >> what's required for the purchase? what do you need from us? >> show me you're a south carolina resident and show me money. private sales between individuals can be done within the state. >> within the state, ok. >> not across state lines. >> we find another group of private sellers and pick out the handgun. >> is cash all right? >> yes.
>> cash and carry's ok? >> south carolina i.d. >> if we're from out of state, we're just passing through. >> gray areas. >> i got extremely careful with them gray areas. >> what do you want? >> the 40 here. >> i'll check it out with them. >> sounds good. >> we hand over the cash and walk out with a gun. no id, background checks, no record, only less than an hour. >> guns and domestic violence. for more, we turn to johns hopkins school of nursing leading researcher. you have created a snapshot profile.
can you give us things that you do see consistently in these kind of abusers and these kind of attacks? >> well, when we see a domestic violence homicide, the number one risk factor is prior domestic violence against that female. so, what we're talking is abused women, and one of the biggest risk factors after that prior domestic violence is gun ownership on the part of the perpetrator. >> access to handguns or firearms of some kind? do you see a connection, as well in the types of behavior? in other words, are these domestic violence attacks reactive, impulsive, something that makes the presence of a firearm a greater risk? >> well, in part, yes. there's oftentimes been a history of threats to kill. there's also been threats with a
weapon, and use of a weapon in prior domestic violence incidents, in that between that couple. we also see that the abusers who are the most dangerous are also highly controlling, highly jealous, and oftentimes when someone leaves an abuser like that, it becomes a time of heightened risk, as they're trying to get free. >> can you talk a bit about the best way to protect women in these very vulnerable situations, the woman referred to in this report had the support of her family, her sisters, who clearly wanted to be there to support her and the take care of her. >> yes, she clearly did. part of it was that many women will minimize the danger in their situation just in order to cope and get on with their lives, take care of their children, what they need to do and part of what we need to do
as a community is help the abused women, who are at high risk understand that danger, as well as we as a system do a better job of protecting women when they are with an abuser who is at high risk. in other words, things like removing guns from known abusive men, or known abusive partners when they've been convicted of a domestic violence offense or when there's a protective order against them. >> we just have a few moments here, but i do need to ask, do you see any evidence by law enforcement to intervene in these situations? >> police really want to prevent these domestic violence homicides, but oftentimes, it's implementation of the laws that are in place that we have ways that things fall through the cracks. it's also oftentimes because friends and neighbors don't understand how
potentially lethal some of these situations are. >> thank you for being with us, johns happen kins school of nursing. thanks very much. >> you're welcome. >> in plain sight airs friday, 9:30 eastern on aljazeera america. >> coming up next on tonight, could flight 370 have flown for hours after it disappeared from the radar? why the search area could be expanding to another ocean, and other bizarre suggestions about what happened to the doomed flight. this is the 900 page document we call obama care. and my staff has read the entire thing. can congress say the same? there's more to it.
>> a snapshot of stories making headlines in america tonight. the grim serve through the rubble in harlem, crews found an eighth victim after two buildings were reduced to charred piles of bricks and debris. at least five more are still missing. >> days ahead of a referendum in crimea, russia shows no sideline of backing off, staging more military exercises near it's border with ukraine while secretary of state john kerry warns of serious steps if the referendum goes forward sunday. >> a shocking image, passengers say their u.s. airways flight went nose down into the runway. the pilot was forced to abort the takeoff, only minor injuries but a big shocker for all onboard. >> on the international mystery and the growing search in southeast asia six days after
malaysia airlines flight vanished, new reports suggest it might still have been communicating hours later. a wall street journal report claims the engines continued to send data long after the last official contact report, but malaysia's transport minister and airline chief deny that, insisting the last time the plane was heard from was just after 1:00 in the morning. >> the media reports, we asked specifically about the data. as far as rolls royce and boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate. >> white house officials said the search is expanded because of evidence that the plane was operating hours after the last contact and sent u.s. ships and aircraft toward the indian ocean into an expanded search. >> aljazeera correspondent lisa stark who has covered a number of aviation disasters and knows
the scale very well rejoins us here tonight. this just seems like one series of puzzle pieces, a bit of information comes out, then proves not to be correct. what is happening here? >> as i've talked to so many people today who know so much about this industry and they're using the same words i am, unprecedented. this is an amazing situation, a jumbo jet gone missing and we have no idea where this plane is. i think because there's so little information, all this information is coming up and then does get rebutted and new information comes in, there's not a lot to work with. >> the wall street journal report, the idea that there would be engines pinging out information hours later, what does that signify? >> we're learning that there were two satellites, what i'm told, by sources of mine that did receive some sort of pinging possibly from this aircraft.
there are systems onboard the plane that measure the health of the engines, of other aircraft systems. it can send out information to satellites and that information can be downloaded by manufacturers, engine manufacturers, the airline itself, so this system was apparently doing some kind of pinging as if it was trying to send data and they're expanding the search into the indian ocean, because american experts have looked at this satellite data, pinging and done some calculations and figured the plane may have been traveling westward and that's one of the reasons they are expanding the search. >> we are not talking about a small expansion. >> no. >> this is extraordinary. >> this is huge, something like 23 million, i don't remember the actual number, but it is a huge space. the air france accident in 2009, they had about a 40-mile radius.
>> which is significant and took years to sox the mystery there. >> think what this might take in fact if they really have to look over the indian ocean, that is a massive undertaking. >> the involvement of the united states in all this, from the beginning of the week, the malaysian officials were saying we need help, because the f.a.a. has expertise? >> the ntsb, f.a.a. are top and a half when it comes to investigating aviation accidents. there are others around the world, as well. because it is a boeing airplane, american-made, they are over there and willing to help and the malaysians are calling on the experts to try to figure out where this plane may have gone. >> it does deserve an additional analysis. could u.s. intelligence be as well involved in this? >> i would imagine and i don't know this, but i would imagine that in fact they are going over every single person on that airplane to take another look at who was on that plane, satellite
i am packages are being looked at, intelligence satellites and others. this is an all out effort. >> that might explain the miss city of what the white house is actually putting out there. we appreciate you being with us, thanks. >> after the break, the people's pope and person of the year marks his first anniversary as head of the church. the new fans and skeptics of pope francis. >> warming the hearts and souls of those chilled to the bone. >> seeing people in the conditions that they're in because of this weather is a huge part of what we're doing, we have a stronger dedication to make these coats the best we can make them. >> there's more to it from detroit, later in the program. consider this: the news of the
day plus so much more. >> we begin with the government shutdown. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> it seems like they can't agree to anything in washington no matter what. >> antonio mora, award winning and hard hitting. >> we've heard you talk about the history of suicide in your family. >> there's no status quo, just the bottom line. >> but, what about buying shares in a professional athlete? real perspective, consider this on al jazeera america real reporting that brings you the world. >> this is a pretty dangerous trip. >> security in beirut is tight. >> more reporters. >> they don't have the resources to take the fight to al shabaab. >> more bureaus, more stories. >> this is where the typhoon came ashore. giving you a real global perspective like no other can. >> al jazeera, nairobi. >> on the turkey-syria border. >> venezuela. >> beijing. >> kabul. >> hong kong. >> ukraine. >> the artic. real reporting from around the world. this is what we do. al jazeera america.
as i please. >> abusive men... >> this is completely unregulated.. >> easy access to guns... >> there's somewhere around 1600 women being held every year >> a deadly combination... >> death could have been prevented... >> her and a hundred more women... >> it hurts to the core >> faultlines al jazeera america's hard hitting... ground breaking... truth seeking... >> they don't wanna see what's really going on >> break though investigative documentary series death in plain sight only on al jazeera america >> it's been one year since cardinal jorge bergoglio was elected pope. in keeping with his humble approach, he marked this anniversary with a simple tweet "please pray for me." he has generated enormous excitement among christians and non-christians alike and been described as a revolutionary by both admirers and critics. after years of turmoil many ask can the pope save the catholic church. we have more.
>> like pope francis, he is a jesuit. he was the local archbishop, known for his concern for the poor. >> how has as i say life in argentina formed his view of his papacy and what it should be? >> he grew up exposed to high degrees of in quality in argentina, large differences between the rich and poor. >> his own family is a family of privilege? >> no, very working class family, simple family. >> as a boy, he saw inhe canty. as a young man, lived a secular life. he worked as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer. as he rose through the church ranks, he continued to visit the poorest neighborhoods of buenos aires. the pope's background as a
regular joe, a priest who remained close to his flock comes through. >> he is grounded and rooted in the real stories of people's lives built on his experience in the slums of buenos aires and his own history. i think he's asking us to question what we understand about the world around us. >> it's not just his message, but his actions that have captured imaginations. from his own choice of lifestyle,ioning the ornate vatican apartments to his choice of car, hard to imagine a less luxurious pope mobile, signaled his in tent to be with his people. easter week, he washed the feet of inmates, the washing of feet being a traditional gesture of humility. this time, he included muslims and women. no other pope has ever washed the feet of women. in doing so, he ignored the church's own rules.
this image of francis blessing a disfigured man moved many when it appeared in newspapers and on websites around the globe. >> somewhere along all the way, he learned that it means to be warm with people. he understood what it means to look into people's eyes, he understood what it means to listen to another person, what it means to take their hand and give them your 100% attention. >> francis has made his biggest news addressing the issue of gay rights. >> on a flight back from his first papal visit overseas, he was asked about gay clergy to which he replied, "who am i to judge"? >> how important is it that he said that? >> profoundly important. >> on other catholic teachings, divorce, contraception, he asks the church's views, sending the questions to every die as he is
around the world. >> what questions? >> what's it like to be a diversed catholic, to try to live according to the teachings of birth control, according to the teachings of the family. >> do you think the church is really interested in hearing those answers? >> i think he is. he told us we shouldn't be afraid of that, we should be willing to listen, to engage. what's the most revolutionary thing to me? it's precisely that, that look outward. when you look outward that way, then you say who am i to judge or i want to engage with diversed catholics and be sure they know they belong. that's fundamentally different. >> for more on pope francis and his first anniversary we're joined by tom roberts, editor at large for the "national catholic reporter." we talk about the pope and there
have been many accolades about him, at the same time, he is a challenging figure for some of the faithful. >> he's very challenging. i think he is for everyone in some respect. when he talks about his emphasizes the poor and care for the poor and that's where the church should focus that's a challenge for everybody in the church. when he challenges the economy and economic principals that caused big divisions, he's challenging an awful lot in our culture, for instance. he also is challenging the catholic who thinks that we've got it all sewed up and it's a matter of rules and laws, that's one of the biggest changes. he's putting out a pastoral approach, in other words, be with the people, smell like the sheep was the phrase, rather
orthodoxies and rules. he is saying go out, encounter and leave that rule book behind, it will always be there. >> the "national catholic reporter" has been advanced in reporting on sex abuse cases, this cries within the church. you also have some desire, need, hope that the pope will address this more directly with the victims. >> yeah. i think this is a really important bench mark for the papacy. iit was a disappointing answer o a recent query saying the church has done more than any other institution to establish programs that protect children and establish transparency. he also said that the most sexual abuse occurs outside the church in domestic situations. those are both true, as far as you go, but i think it's the weakest defense the church can give because at the same time, the programs that were put in place were all the result of
enormous public pressure. i think if he is going to the margins and asking us to go to the margins, one of the really urgent margins he needs to go to are those people who have been abused by priests. there is a significance there that attends to that abuse that isn't present elsewhere. >> allot want, hope, suggest that the pope really reach out directly to the victims. >> we've actually printed an open letter, asking, begging him to go and meet with victims. we think if he in his pastoral approach and the way he's displayed his approach to ministry would meet with some victims and really hear their stories, the narrative for him would change. >> on that front, as well, you know, i guess the pope might be an uncomfortable figure as well for some of the church who have a prefers style of life, cardinals, for example, who expect the papacy to be more elaborate. >> well, he's made it very
clear, the days of all of that princely behavior and really a kind of clericalism that i think was even at the heart of the sex abuse crisis, is over. he's relocated the papacy, it's a very humble residence, and made it very clear he doesn't want any of the evidence of palace culture. he's got a fight on his hands, i think. >> change inside the church among the faithful and all. thank you very much. >> from the national catholic reporter, appreciate you're being here. >> ahead in our final thoughts of this hour, a stitch in time. we revisit detroit during this very brutal winter there for the seamless operation that is an empowerment plan. there's more to it, coming up next.
this show. >> i think you've offended everyone with that kathy. >> hold on, there's some room to offend people, i'm here. >> we have a right to know what's in our food and monsanto do not have the right to hide it from us. >> so join the conversation and make it your own. >> watch the stream. >> and join the conversation online @ajamstream. al jazeera america gives you the total news experience anytime, anywhere. more on every screen. digital, mobile, social. visit aljazeera.com. follow @ajam on twitter. and like aljazeera america on facebook for more stories, more access, more conversations. so you don't just stay on top of the news, go deeper and get more perspectives on every issue. al jazeera america.
>> finally from us tonight, spring yet a week away, but much of the country still getting the cold shoulder, especially detroit, the city close to breaking a snowfall record, dating back to the 1800's. we thought it was time to check in on a novel program that gives hope and shelter to those out in the cold. from detroit, there's more to it. >> you know how to work it? you know how to do that? ok. all right. >> on a bitterly cold night in detroit, church volunteers are on a mission. the temperature is 12 degrees. the biting wind makes it feel like five below zero. >> thank you, god bless you. >> oh, is it cold! >> the men are driving through detroit looking for those most
vulnerable on a brutal winter night, the homeless. filed in their truck are heavy duty coats that double at sleeping bags. these handmaid coats are sewn together just a few miles away, then given to churches and charities to hand out. on a night like this, they can keep someone from freezing to death. rick approaches a man sleeping on the sidewalk. >> i got that sleeping bag thing here. i don't know how to work them? >> why don't you help me. >> it's a fancy one. it's got velcro down the middle. >> these are functional, not fashionable, specifically designed for the dispossessed and destitute. >> it's like someone giving you a big hug. >> like a big bear on you. >> caroline said such a coat was the only thing keeping her warm when she was homeless and living in a shelter with no heat. >> i came for nothing, but i had my coat, you know what i'm saying? that coat is everything to me.
it's the honest to god truth, it's a good coat. >> she's now one of 15 seamstresses who work for a non-profit group known as the empowerment plan. the ladies, america tonight first sat down with veronica last august. the idea grew out of a college project, but then she realized the coats alone were not enough to make the kind of difference she had in mind. >> a coat on its own is not going to change anything, but if i go in and hire the people that are in the shelters that would be possibly on the receiving end of these instead of just giving them the coat and hiring them. >> the potential employees all single moms, all homeless, or living in shelters, all desperate for work. one of the newest hires at the time was tia shams, a 21-year-old mother of two. she had been living in a shelter, separated from her children and desperate to
reunite with them. >> when i walked in here, all i thought about was my kids, you know, i'm going to have a job and be able to get my kids back. that kept me excited. >> last august, she had no sewing experience and the bone-chilling extremes of a michigan winter still seemed very far away. six months later, detroit has suffered through the lowest temperatures since 1950, and tia is transformed. now she is one of the strongest sewers on the team. >> i see plenty of coats and it's really exciting. i'm like can i see the coats? i like to see the details that i did in it. i think that is really exciting and it warms my heart to see the people who oh needed a coat walk around in the coats that i made. >> on days like this, only nine degrees outside, even the c.e.o. hits the streets to hand
out her special coats. the wind chill makes it feel like minus 12. veronica finds a couple of homeless men roaming the streets. >> how do you operate it? >> all right. there's a buckle on the sleeves. >> the coats are big, designed that way, allowing for layers of clothing or possessions, backpacks, in this case, to fit under and providing protection even against temperatures so low it's unsafe to be outside for long periods of time. >> you can still velcro it over the back. >> thank you. >> stay warm, man. >> with the weather that we've experienced and seeing the people in the conditions that they're in because of this weather, this is a huge part of what we're doing. we have even a stronger dedication to making these coats the best we can make them. >> it is water resistant and closes with velcro stops since buttons fall off and zippers jam. it has a built in sleeping bag
that can be entered without taking the coat off. big name companies, general motors and clothing giant car heart donate much of this material. between the black shell and red liner is white insulation made from the stuff put inside car door panels. insulation that can keep someone alive in the dead of winter. caroline said after she who have had from the shelter into her own home, the coat became her bed. >> me and my husband had to sleep in the coat for two months, but that's how comfortable it was, our pillow, blanket and comforter, you know? so that was a blessing right there. >> in its first year, veronica said the empowerment plan produced 25 coats, the following year nearly a thousand. over the past year, the non-profit stitched together more than 3,000 coats. veronica is planning to expand the warehouse and hire more seamstresses to keep up with
demand. >> we have people responsible, we represent 20 people that their livelihood depends on this and it's exciting, thrilling and daunting at the same time, so making it better for them. >> daunting, perhaps but veronica is determined. so are the 15 seamstresses who meticulously sew, back stitch and hem, making thousands of coats for those in the streets, fulfilling a need here that the women understand far better than most. >> i love help to go people. i love coming to work and i love getting paid, of course, but just to know that this coat is helping someone else, i know how it feels to have nothing at all, so when you have nothing, the smallest thing can mean the world to you, and i feel like me making the coat, you know, is contributing to people feeling that way. >> stay warm, man. >> aljazeera, detroit. >> that's great.
that's it for us here on "america tonight." we'll have more of "america tonight" coming up tomorrow. >> an ameica tonight special series >> this baby is in withdrawal... how addiction affects the most innocent. >> he just went quiet and his lips turned blue... >> is there hope? addicted in vermont on al jazeera america >> >> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm richelle carey, with a look at the top stories. the search for malaysia airlines flight 370 now extends to the indian ocean. a report has been confirmed that
the plane sent electronic transmissions after disappearing from radar. authorities are denying that, that says the plane may have kept flying four hours after it disappeared. a u.s. airlines flight skidded off the runway in philadelphia. the pilot avoided take off and the nose gear collapsed. all 149 evacuated safely. >> on friday another round of diplomacy aimed at diffusing the crisis in ukraine. russian forces are in control of crimea. the region is gearing up for a vote on sunday over whether to leave ukraine for russia, the u.s. says the referendum violates international law. firefighters recovered an eighth body from the gas explosion.
authorities launcd an investigation into the explosion, which entered dozens and levelled two buildings. "consider this" is up next. you can get the latest news on the website. that is aljazeera.com. wild, inside the deadly word of neknominating. you may want to neck on your investments, a rough road ahead. >> welcome to "consider this." here's more on what's ahead: >> two u.s. officials are now telling us the two communication systems were shut down separately. >> not that subject to debate. >> based on new information, an