tv PBS News Hour PBS July 17, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: health care in critical condition-- republicans are forced to delay a vote on replacing obamacare, putting final passage in further jeopardy. then, dangerous work-- the perils of shipbuilding as the u.s. navy plans to expand its fleet. >> the explosion when it happened, it blew doors and hatches and electrical panels. boom, boom, boom. when that third one hit, it blew it up. >> woodruff: and, it's politics monday-- amy walter and tamara keith are here to talk the high stakes of health care, and what new polls on the trump presidency suggest. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: russia is stepping up pressure to regain two diplomatic compounds seized in new york and maryland. president obama ordered them seized in december, over russian meddling in the 2016 election. today, foreign minister sergey lavrov called it "highway robbery," and his deputy held a high-level meeting at the state department. nick schifrin has been following
the story, and joins me now. so, nick, why are the russians so interested in these two compounds? >> what officials are talking about is bilateral irritants, so these are the compounds, these are the russian diplomats who were expelled last year as part of the u.s. response to the russian hacking, and these are not the major issues, these are not syria and ukraine, and the idea is the fewer issues you talk about the more likely you make at least a little progress. >> woodruff: what are the prospects they can reach any kind of agreement? >> that's what the trump administration is trying to find, any kind of agreement. there are huge head windows politically in this country if you give back the compounds, but u.s. officials are worried about retribution. russia says if there's no deal in the near future, three dozen of your diplomats will be expelled and life for your diplomats in russia will get worse, and we've already seen a campaign of intimidation against
u.s. diplomats, in russia in june 2016 we saw a u.s. diplomat in russia get beaten up and that's not what the u.s. wants to see. >> woodruff: where do you see this going? >> chicken and egg problem, you hack, we responded. if russia said, no, we didn't hack, you seized the compounds for no reason, we retaliate, the u.s. says this is a new retaliation, and yet another response. no telling where that would end. the u.s. is trying to say, look, the big issues, keep that aside. maybe we can make some progress and save a bad relationship from getting pores. >> woodruff: a new aspect of the u.s.-russia relationship. nick schifrin, thank you. >> thanks. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, officials at princeton university insisted a chinese- american grad student, jailed in iran, is innocent. iranian courts announced sunday that xiyue wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying. he was arrested last august. princeton says wang was conducting research for his
doctorate. separately, iran announced that president hassan rouhani's brother, has been arrested on allegations of financial misconduct. in jordan, a soldier was sentenced today to life in prison at hard labor for killing three u.s. army green berets. he said he fired on the military trainers last november, because he thought his base was under attack. after the sentencing today, relatives of the americans condemned the sentence, which could let the killer go free in 20 years. >> he gets out the day he gets out. my daughters will serve another 30 years after that without the love of their brother, and that's outrageous. i would kill him myself if i had the ability to do so, and i wish they had hung him. >> woodruff: the families were shown security camera footage of the attack. they say it shows the jordanian soldier firing for six minutes, even after the americans identified themselves. the united nations reports the
war in afghanistan is killing more civilians than ever. a new report says more than 1,600 died in the first half of this year, and some 3,500 others were wounded. it also says deaths and injuries from taliban suicide bombings rose by 15%. the taliban dismissed the report as "propaganda material." the united arab emirates flatly denied today that it hacked into qatar's state news agency web sites in may, and planted false stories. four arab countries severed ties with qatar after its emir was falsely quoted as praising hamas and iran. "the washington post" reported the hack, but in london today, the u.a.e.'s foreign minister pushed back. >> our embassy in washington has put these denials in place, and i think this is a crisis and is a lot of rumors, a lot of false
news and stories. this is going to die out. it is not true. >> woodruff: the f.b.i. is working with qatar to investigate the incident. authorities in arizona searched again today for one person still missing after a flash flood killed nine people on saturday. cell phone video captured the deluge as it swept through tonto national forest, 100 miles northeast of phoenix. the water at the swimming site rose as high as six feet, triggered by a heavy thunderstorm. all of the dead, including five children, were part of an extended family. the trump administration says it will let an extra 15,000 foreign workers into the country this budget year, on temporary, seasonal visas. homeland security secretary john kelly calls it a "one-time extension." the announcement came today as the president promoted "made in america" week, showcasing domestically made goods.
on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost eight points to close at 21,629. the nasdaq rose about two points, and the s&p 500 gave up a fraction. and, a video of a young model wearing a mini-skirt is causing an uproar in deeply conservative saudi arabia. a video over the weekend showed her walking around a historic site north of riyadh. state media report she could face legal action. the country's dress code for women mandates long, loose- fitting robes. still to come on the newshour: the republican health care bill in limbo. we break down the sticking points. inside the iraqi city of mosul-- liberated from isis but left in ruins. ivanka trump's record on making fashion products overseas, and much more.
>> woodruff: even as senate majority leader mitch mcconnell has been forced to delay a vote on a republican healthcare plan, there's no letup in the battle behind the scenes. lawmakers, governors, interest groups are all working furiously. a handful of key questions may decide its fate. among them: how many fewer people will be covered? and will cheaper insurance make it more affordable? or too skimpy for too many? dr. ezekiel emanuel is one of the original architects behind obamacare. he's the author of the new book, "prescription for the future." and avik roy is co-founder and president of the foundation for research on equal opportunity, a think tank based in austin, texas. he's been a health adviser to republican presidential candidates, including mitt romney. and we welcome both of you to the program. avik roy, let me start with you. we don't have an analysis of the
new senate bill by the congressional budget office, but there was an analysis done by the health care firm, forecasting the bill leads to medicaid federal reductions ranging from 29 to 37% in all 50 states. doesn't that make it understandable why even republicans are still strug chingling to support this bill? >> judy there's a bit of misunderstanding as to exactly what the sources to the changes are. first there is the repeal to obama's expansion of the medicaid program, replaced by a robust soism tax credits for enrollees to buy private coverage. so that's about 95 to 95% of the money you're describing. then a small component which is per capita reforms a bill clintonen proposal from 1994, to make the long-term medicaid program more fiscally sustainable, and that's the piece that really matters to
those governors particularly in the states that didn't expand medicaid because that's going to be a gradual but important reform to make the medicaid program sustainable. so the first big piece, replaced by tax credits to make it affordable by the individuals and the second piece a bipartisan approach to the medicaid reform. >> woodruff: you're saying the cuts are not as draconian as they sound? >> exactly. >> woodruff: all right. dr. ezekiel emanuel? >> i don't know, with when you cut 170 billion dallas out of a program over years and 15 million people will use medicaid program -- the working poor, the able-bodies people who are generally working two-thirds to three-quarters of them work jobs, just that their employers don't provide insurance -- we're going to give them a subsidy. the subsidy they give are less than the obamacare proposal gives and go to a much, much
smaller level. the insurance they cover is much less. it is not comparable. you can't cut $770 billion and say, oh,ettes not going to affect anything. 22 million people are going to lose coverage because of this bill. >> woodruff: avik roy, how do you answer that? >> the c.b.o. estimate, the 22 million number ezekiel is talking about is driven by erroneous aspects of the congressional budget office's methodology. the c.b.o. believes 18 million of the 22 million is driven by a lack of a fine forcing people to have coverage, so it's not driven by a lack of funding -- >> you don't like the message, attack the messenger. >> no, this is a fundamental problem with the c.b.o.'s methodology. it's the reason obamacare doesn't have a plan in the first
place. in 2008 he opposed having an individual mandate in the bill and c.b.o. told him 16 million of coverage would be affected by that. >> woodruff: i don't want to spend the whole time on the c.b.o. but a quick response to that. >> again, i think he's attacking the messenger buzz he doesn't like the message and the fact is the c.b.o. is the independent arbiter. their methods aren't universal, they don't get it necessarily exactly right but you're not going to go from 22 million uninsured to a more tolerable number. it's seems unconscionable that senators could vote to throw 22 million people off insurance and now we have the irony that john mccain is delaying the boat, a guy who needed surgery that cost $30,000, he certainly couldn't afford it just out of nowhere, insurance has to pay, and we're going to get 22 million people with less insurance. >> woodruff: another aspect of this avik roy is in an effort to
make insurance more affordable, we see a national offering altentives that lower premiums but they do this by cutting back on the amount of coverage, on what is covered. the criticism is that you're creating two markets, one for people who can afford to continue to get good medical care and those who would be left out because they can't. how do you defend this part of the legislation? >> well, judy, i would challenge the accuracy of the description you just gave of the measure, i think we're talking about the ted cruz amendment to the senate healthcare bill. what that amendment is trying to do is say, okay, sick people will have much more expensive coverage because they consume more healthcare. so let's have direct taxpayer subsidies in this regulated market to ensure they can find affordable coverage. but the fact is tens of millions of americans who can't afford coverage can't afford that coverage not because they're kick but because they're healthy and insurance costs too much.
obamacare over the last four years doubled or trip bled premiums. h.h.s. researchers estimated premiums increased for that population by 100% in the last four years. so ted cruz is saying let's make sure coverage is affordable for healthy and sick people and you do that by focusing on covering people who are already sick which requires a different kind of insurance and people who are healthy and need lower premiums as a result. >> three quick points, first of all, the subsidies the republicans will give will be much less and smaller, driving up what people have to pay and especially their deductible. they don't do anything about affordability in this bill at all, they don't change the long-term trajectory of healthcare costs one bit. second of all, the fact is that every medical organization has come out against this bill and says it's going to be bad for patients and the health
insurance industry says what avik roy is basically false. you will segment the margaret, you're going to take healthy people, you're going to separate them, you're going to put the sick people in a market and reduce the subsidies you give them to buy insurance because the insurance is paying at a pump skimpier package. that is not a recipe for having people have good insurance and decreasing deductibles. it's going to do the reverse of what the president pledged. >> woodruff: do you want to respond. >> i would challenge a number of things that zeke said there,ñi s you would expect. the first is the chief axe chew ware, the centers for medicare and medicaid services, an obama-appointee, published a report that said the bill would bend down the cost curve and make the health care system more responsive and efficient.
and the tax increases would help those who need more coverage able to afford the coverage they need. this bill would provide trillions of dollars over the long term for people who can afford the coverage.ñr >> you're talking about giving more money when the bill is cutting back the money it's putting into the healthcare system. can't have it both ways. >> woodruff: dr. ezekiel emanuel, we know many counties under the affordable care act, a lot of people have been priced out of the market and this is opposite of what the republicans are trying to do. >> i would disagree. the uncertainty they've created in the market, the republicans, marco rubio removed the risk corridors and the reinsurance proposal, they've also created uncertainty about whether they will pay the cautionary subdzties, social subsidies to families making less than $70,000 to pay their deductibles, that actually drives premiums up. there are simple solutions, put
the risk corridors in, guarantee you pay the cost sharing subsidies and give insurance companies a tax break, refund them the tax from the affordable care act if they go into counties that have one or fewer insurances. that will actually stabilize the insurance markets and states that run their insurance exchanges like california and idaho are actually running pretty well. it's the federal side that's not running so well and the federal side is run by mr. trump's associates. >> woodruff: we're going to have to leave it there. big subject, much to talk about. we'll continue to come back to it. ezekiel emanuel, avik roy, thank you both. >> thank you for having us. s, judy. >> woodruff: one week ago, iraqi prime minister haider al abadi proclaimed victory over isis in mosul. but reality on the ground is
different, as the fight continues in parts of the old city, against isis holdouts. as special correspondent marcia biggs, and videographer alessandro pavone report, the human toll of the fighting is becoming apparent. and it is horrific. a warning: many viewers may find images and accounts in this story disturbing. >> reporter: this is what so- called liberated mosul looks and sounds like... ( explosion ) in a small pocket of the old city, the war against isis seemingly ongoing. and this is the old city from ground level, a scene of utter devastation-- entire neighborhoods flattened by coalition airstrikes. leaving the few survivors to search for the remains of their loved ones. bashar and ali's families were together in this house hit by an
airstrike 28 days ago. ali names the dead one by one. >> ( translated ): my mother, three brothers, three sisters, my father, two sisters in law, and two nieces. >> reporter: and you're the only one left from your family. >> yes. >> reporter: shu bedak tamel, what are you going to do now? >> ( translated ): what can i do? i just want to take the bodies out and bury them. >> reporter: mosul is the capital of ninevah province and it is the men of ninevah's civil defense unit that are responsible for pulling the dead out of the rubble. they arrive with their crude tools. an ancient jackhammer, a broken sledgehammer, and when all else fails they use their hands. one of the family members is adamant that the family is under this spot in a washroom. just open the hole this family member says!
but trying to drill through over a foot of concrete proves impossible and one of the relatives finds another way into the house. so we enter the ruins in the dark. so this was the washroom they were talking about. he's saying there's a baby inside. in total, they are looking for 18 bodies. there were two families in the adjoining houses that night. bashar lost six members of his family, including his wife and four children. >> ( translated ): we tried to escape the day before, but isis shot at us. we ran back to the house and the army told us "stay inside! we will evacuate you when we make the area safe." but the next morning, the airstrike hit our house. there were two bombs. >> reporter: were you in the house when the explosion happened? >> ( translated ): yes, but i was near the front door of this house. i was the only one who didn't get injured, along with my neighbor's family. and my youngest daughter was rescued by the army. she's
still alive. >> reporter: the remnants of life that night are frozen in time. food sits uneaten on the kitchen counter but the clock still runs. then finally a breakthrough. it's a skull. so they're telling me they have no idea who this little girl is. there were six or seven little girls in that room, and the body is so decomposed, all there is, is a skull. the search for remains lasts all day, with relatives waiting nervously. god protect them, one says. they found four bodies, they are still looking for 14 more. the smell is unbearable. for mosul's civil defense unit this is just an ordinary day. yesterday, they pulled 19 bodies from the rubble. rabih mishaal mohamed is a sergeant with ninevah civil
defense, all of whom are working without pay. >> ( translated ): the hardest part is when you see a child under the rubble because he is innocent, he is a child. he has nothing to do with the army or isis, or anyone. >> reporter: why do you do this? >> ( translated ): it is very difficult for us, but they are like family, our brothers our fathers, mothers, friends. if we don't take their bodies out, who will come and do that. so we withstand it, we have to withstand it. >> reporter: withstand it they must: it's a scene that will play out again and again in the days to come. a tiny sliver of comfort to the families, clinging to what little they can find. for the pbs newshour, i'm marcia biggs in the old city, west mosul, iraq.
>> woodruff: it is made in america week to leak light president trump's goal ofxd boosting u.s. manufacturing and job creation at the white house this week. however, it is against sparked questions about mr. trump and his family's businesses, particularly about where their objects are manufactured. john yang has theñr story. >> yang: today, the south lawn was turned into a showcase for products made in each of the 50 states. not on display today: merchandise sold by the trump organization or ivanka trump's fashion line-- they're all made overseas. here to talk about how ivanka trump's clothing is made is matea gold of the "washington post." she's part of a team of reporters that investigated the ivanka trump brand's manufacturing practices. matea, thanks for joining us in. your story, you said the ivanka trump fashion line had retail sales of about $100 million last year. what does she make and where does she make them? >> the ivanka trump brand which the first daughter still owns
but does not control on a day-to-day management makes clothes, handmaid shoes and an array of overseas factories, we found ease cleeksively in foreign factories. we traced her current line of products to five specific countries -- bangladesh, china, yaind, indonesia and vietnam. in 2013, some of her shoes were made in eat open. open -- ethiopia. the brand said they don't feel it's possible to bring the brand back to the united states on large-scale fashion. >> yang: we learned the trump product made in 12 different countries including bangladesh and china, how does this compare with the rest of the industry? >> the reality is the american apparel industry is very firmly grounded in globalization and overseas production.
about 97% of the clothes and shoes sold here in the united states are made abroad, and industry experts say it is going to be incredibly difficult to reverse that trend. so the focus in the industry right now is not on bringing manufacturing back in a large-scale fashion, but rather trying to give consumers a sense of confidence that their goods are not being made by workers overseas who are being exploited for their labor. >> yang:. >> yang: how does the ivanka trump line measure up in policing labor conditions in the factories they use? >> we found the ivanka trump lags behind many in the apparel industry, both large and small companies, when it comes to having oversight of their foreign production. up to now, they've really relied on their suppliers to certify they comply with their code of conduct, a code they'd not publicly disclose, i should.
note. they are taking measures to do greater oversight of measurers other companies have such as writeburying in a group to independently audit factories and provide programs on the ground, to support some of the women who make their clothes. >> yang: and what did the trump people say to you? today sean spicer was asked today about in a meeting and said it would be inappropriate for him to talk about a private business at the white house podium. what did they tell you? >> a representative of the ivanka trump brand said one of the reasons they had not taken the measures other companies have is they're a newer and smaller brand and that they're looking now to really live their mission of women who work, which is the model ivanka trump developed at her country throughout their whole supply chain and said is something they will continue to strive to do. clem told us the goal of
bringing manufacturing back to the united states for their company is unrealistic, that there isn't trained workers who work in the apparel industry here anymore and the machinery doesn't even exist to do this kind of production. >> yang: let me ask you about something else you have been reporting on for "the post." the financial spending records for the trump campaign said they paid fees to donald trump, jr.'s lawyer before the latest story broke about the meeting with the russian lawyer and also they reimbursed the trump corporation for legal consulting fees. what's this about? >> we don't have a lot of answers from the campaign committee which declined to answer questions about the payments. in the recent campaign finance filing, we found the legal fees paid by the campaign committee skyrocketed in the last quarter including a $50,000 retainer paid to a criminal defense attorney who is now representing donald trump, jr. this came in late june before
president trump himself said he knew about this meeting in which there were several russian or russian-linked people involved. so desiree's questions about whether this payment was specifically quectd to the russian probe and there were also reimbursement to the trump corporation for legal fees which is the first time we've seen trump's company reimbursed for these kinds of service. >> yang: what about campaign funds used for legal fees? >> campaigns have leeway to spend money on legal fees as long as the payments are directly connected to the campaign. so if the expenses would not have been incurred all but for the campaign committee, they can pay them. but if they are expenses that aren't related to political activity, they're beyond the purview of the committee. the fact that the payments were made through the reelection committee suggests they are connected to some sort of legal
investigation or legal work connected to the campaign. >> yang: matea gold, legal fees paid by the campaign and ivanka trump's businesses. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: on capitol hill, senate republicans continue their internal fight over the healthcare bill, as polls show strong disapproval of the republican plan. and polling in the past week indicates historically low appralorhe president, at this point in his first term. multiple polls have president trump's approval in the 30's or at 40, and his disapproval rating in the 50's. for all that, it's time for politics monday with tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." >> woodruff: so it's time to talk about polls again. we save them for special occasions. amy, seriously, there are a group of three or four polls out
taken in the last week or so that do show some slippage for the president in the last few months, particularly among ents. there's a "the washington post" poll that shows what a 6-point slippage since april. >> in general among independents. >> woodruff: right. hen we first started talking about the president after his inauguration, we said this is a president who is starting with the lowest approval rating of any president that's been inaugurated, let's see where he goes with. this instead of starting with deep will and a honeymoon which most start, with he started with a deep -- he didn't have that rears voir of god will, will he be able to fill the well? and he's now 14 points lower than where he was. he's draining it more and he's draining from independents. that's a danger point not just for the president but for members of congress up in 2018.
if you're a republican you know the base is still behind you, democrats have never been with you, but independents are the folks, especially for members who sit in swing districts, those are the people they can't i a ford to be losing by this percentage that the president's losing by. if he only has a 30, 31% approval rating among independents, it makes it kilt for republicans in 2018. >> woodruff: we know the trump folks have the campaign committee up and running for reelection. how do they look at this? >> it's not clear what the campaign is doing in terms of reelection and rallies. president trump tweeted over the weekend he thought it wasn't that bad, that he thought this poll was not so bad. you know, the best thing the president could do to improve his approval rating, i guess two things, one, maybe focus on some of the people who didn't support him in the beginning and maybe tried doing something, anything that would not be seen as
strictly partisan. and the other thing would be, you know, like start winning. he has -- you know, he promised you will be so sick of winning, but, you know, he hasn't had the major legislative accomplishments. the healthcare bill has gotten totally bogged down and supposed to be done maybe by april, and that's something his base really wanted. but he just has not done a lot of things. he did the executive orders the base liked that turned off the independents and others. >> woodruff: and we even you and i, we were just talking a moment ago, amy, about when you ask people even about impeachment, 41% in a monmouth poll support impeaching the president. you say for richard nixon at this point, it was much less. >> for richard nixon going into the summary of 1973, his overall
approval rating is basically where donald trump's is now. the difference is the intensity of the opposition or the dislike of president nixon among partisans. he had 25% approval rating among democrats, nixon did in july of 1973. president has about 8% of approval rating among democrats. so the intensity of opposition to the president has always been an issue. as tam points out, he's not getting the intensity of support among his base, and he made that decision when he came into office, instead of trying to grow that base, he had a very narrow base of support, very narrow support among all kinds of voters, except for republicans, so instead of trying to grow it, he's focused and doubled down on the small group of people who supported him all along. >> woodruff: you're talking about ways where the president could put wins on the board. healthcare reform is one of the issues he has been focused on. this was another question in "the washington post" abc poll.
this can't be considered good news for the administration. people were asked what they think about obamacare versus the republican plan by 2 to 1. they prefer obamacare. >> which is pret the remarkable. obamacare has seen -- you know, it's having better days than it ever had when president obama was president. you know, i was out many kentucky last week talking to voters. just a few little anecdotes, one woman i talked to supported president trump, doesn't like obamacare, but is deeply concerned about the republican healthcare bill, in particular the medicaid cuts. another voter i talked to basically said what's the rush? why are they hurrying? why don't they slow down and do this together? he was also a republican. one other republican i talked to said he didn't know what was in the bill but was glad it got rid of the individual mandate. >> that's the big problem, there is nobody selling this bill.
we're talking a lot about process, a lot about members who are supporting or not supporting it. there is nobody really championing this vote. the president is tweeting, i sure hope you guys vote for it, we have been saying we're going to vote for it. he's not holding rallies. i looked at the amount of money spent since the end of may on ads that talked about this healthcare bill, $6 million advertising, $5.8 million on negative attacks or urging voters to vote against it. without a champion, it's not surprising the health care bill republicans are putting forward isn't popular. >> woodruff: similar to the ratio of obamacare when it was being debated. with the delay of the vote, the opponents are worried. the folks who don't want this are saying it gives them time to build up more opposition. >> mitch mcconnell did not want to take a lot of time to let this bill stew.
he wanted to hurry and get a vote on it. the longer it hangs out there and people have to look at the congressional office, which is not just yet, but the longer governors have to put pressure on their senators, the longer voters have to call into their senate offices every single day, the harder it gets to make this happen. >> it's always easier to fight something than it is to support it. having said this, amy, your point about so much of this has been done behind closed doors. >> that's right, and, again, without a real champion supporting it. but you're right, this has not been done with committee. there hasn't been a lot of public discussion or even within congress a lot of public debate about this. tam is right, mcconnell wand to get this done, move on to something like taxes. >> woodruff: i promise we won't talk about polls for a whole other year. tam and amy, thank you.
>> you're welcome. >> woodruff: as a candidate, president trump called for the largest expansion of the navy since the reagan administration, but his latest budget proposal contains more modest short-term increases. still, it would boost business in the u.s. shipbuilding industry, which despite serious safety violations in the past decade, continues to win billions of dollars in contracts to build navy and coast guard vessels. aubrey aden-buie of "reveal," from the center for investigative reporting has the story. >> i love you, baby doll. >> i love you, too. >> reporter: wanda williams' life changed forever when her sister-in-law rushed to her house in 2014. >> she got out of the car crying. and she said that john got hurt and he was hurt really bad. >> reporter: wanda's husband john nearly died in an accident
at the shipyard where he worked. >> we would have never thought that this would have happened to him, because this is things that he did every single day. he went to work as my husband and he came home as a child. >> reporter: wanda now takes care of her husband 24 hours a day. the accident happened three years ago at a v.t. halter mississippi shipyard. a surveillance camera recorded as williams' crane lost balance and suddenly tipped over. his co-worker, willie horne saw it happen. >> the boom pulled back and it just bounced back all kinda ways and he was just messed up. his head was crushed. that stuff like that, it's just something you just can't forget like that. >> reporter: the accident crushed williams' skull and left him blind. for months before the accident,
he had complained about the crane's broken load sensor. v.t. halter re-installed the sensor two days earlier, but the occupational safety and health administration, or osha, later determined it wasn't fully operational. there is a history of serious accidents at v.t. halter. a few years earlier, two workers were killed applying paint thinner inside a tugboat. in this crawlspace, while working with insufficient ventilation and without explosion-proof lights, vapors built up over 600 times the legal limit, igniting in a flash fire. joey pettey barely escaped the blast. >> the explosion when it happened, it blew doors and hatches and electrical panels. boom, boom, boom. when that third one hit, it blew it up. >> reporter: osha investigated and called that accident" horrific and preventable," and fined the company over $800,000.
but a month following the explosion the navy awarded v.t. halter the contract to build this ship, worth $87 million. >> the contracts are pretty hefty amounts and the fines is really low. it seems like a slap on the wrist when you got that kind of money rolling around. >> reporter: we repeatedly reached out to v.t. halter, but they declined to comment or to be interviewed. they're one of seven major u.s. shipbuilders that contract with the navy and coast guard. our review of federal contracts, court records, and osha files found that since 2008, the federal government has awarded more than $100 billion to these companies despite serious safety lapses that have endangered and killed workers. in neighboring mobile, alabama, austal usa is building some of the country's newest naval vessels. huge aluminum modules are assembled into warships on the banks of the mobile river.
but dozens of its workers have been injured by a power tool used to cut through metal. their own top-safety manager dubbed it the "widow maker." >> the day of my accident, i was using "the miller" as it is called at austal. >> reporter: martin osborn is a welder at austal. >> i was up in a boom lift, as we call it, or a man lift, up in the air about 40 feet, cutting a lifting lug off the side of a module. and had a violent kick-back, it kicked out of my hands and went across my left hand, cutting me pretty bad. i didn't take my glove off because i knew if i did that i'd have blood everywhere. >> reporter: before osborn's accident, austal modified the metabo grinder by replacing the standard disc with a sawtooth blade made by an outside company. this made the tool more versatile, able to cut through aluminum more quickly. but the manufacturer of the grinder specifically warned
against using these blades saying they cause "frequent kickback and loss of control." >> i've seen pictures of people getting cut in their face, in their necks, in their thighs. it's the most dangerous tool i've ever put in my hands. >> reporter: does austal know that the tool is as dangerous as it is? >> yes, ma'am they do. >> reporter: company emails among austal's managers obtained by reveal show that even before osborn's accident, they called the modification "lethal," and the grinders "an accident waiting to happen." yet, according to osborn, austal workers still use the grinder daily. >> i've had numerous supervisors tell me that you know if you don't want to use the tool, go get a job at burger king. >> reporter: despite repeated requests, austal declined to comment for this story. the company has received more than $6 billion in navy contracts since 2008. but when osha concluded the saw exposed workers "to amputations, severe lacerations, and other injuries", they fined the
shipyard just over $4,000. austal's own records show at least 50 workers were injured by the tool in four years. >> why would any manufacturer or any company continue to use a tool after dozens and dozens of people have been injured? >> reporter: attorney brian duncan is representing osborn along with eight others in a lawsuit which he hopes will bring more than just compensation. >> i hope when there are companies out there that have intentionally, knowingly violated safety standards, that somebody will come in in that scenario and will hold those people accountable. >> reporter: david michaels, the head of osha under former president obama, was until recently in charge of enforcing workplace safety laws. he acknowledges that osha's maximum penalties are insufficient, capped by federal law. >> they're tiny compared to the contracts that many of these companies get from the government and from the private sector. >> reporter: he says that the real power the government holds
is in awarding the contracts themselves. >> the biggest fine is a million dollars, two million dollars. that is petty cash for these companies that get 100-, 200-, 300-million dollar contracts from the defense department to build ships that are protecting the united states. we need to be protecting our workers as much as protecting our shores. >> i know navy puts a high priority on safety, as do our shipyards that are building those ships. >> reporter: president of the shipbuilders council of america, matthew paxton, says the government does consider safety records when awarding contracts. >> i think they take that into a whole lot of considerations that they have to figure out on their contracting end. and there's many requirements that go into that beyond safety. but safety's in there. >> reporter: yet the navy's history of awarding contracts to companies with repeated violations suggests that it places little emphasis on safety records. navsea, the naval command responsible for shipbuilding contracts, declined an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson
said in an email that it's up to osha, not the navy, to enforce federal safety laws. they added: "we are not the overlords of private shipyards when it comes to workplace safety." >> the navy has the power, they can easily say that if workers are hurt, if you don't follow the basic common sense safety rules, you don't get any more contracts. that would have a huge impact. >> reporter: former president obama signed an executive order that required companies to disclose three years of safety violations when vying for large federal contracts. but a federal court blocked that order. and this spring, congress drafted a resolution to overturn it altogether. >> regulations aren't issued in a vacuum. they have real economic consequences that can harm the middle class. they can kill jobs, raise prices, depress wages and lower opportunities. >> reporter: president trump
signed the resolution into law, meaning companies don't have to disclose their safety records when competing for contracts. that same month, senator elizabeth warren asked the justice department to open a criminal investigation into v.t. halter. >> we want to get to the bottom of why people have died and what kind of responsibility the company itself has. >> reporter: warren wants the navy to scrutinize safety records when granting contracts to all shipbuilders. >> in the same way that they look at how much is it going to cost, they also need to look at whether or not this is a contractor who injures and kills employees. >> reporter: at austal's shipyard, martin osborn still frequently uses a sawtooth blade, like the one that cost him his finger. he says nothing will change unless shipyards are made to pay a price for putting workers at risk. >> we're not worried about if you get cut or the next guy gets cut.
we just put another guy in your place and move on down the road. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm aubrey aden-buie in mobile, alabama. >> woodruff: finally, remembering filmmaker george romero, the master of the zombie movie. and a man whose influence in the business went further than many moviegoers realize. jeffrey brown has our look. >> medical examination of victims bodies show conclusively the killers are eating the flesh of the people they kill. >> brown: with a $100,000 in 1968, george romero brought the undead back to life in american culture. his "night of the living dead" became a cult classic, and launched a modern zombie industry of soulless ghouls with a taste for human flesh,
popping up everywhere today. for romero, his films were about more than just blood and graphic violence. >> this series of films have been, sort of, my platform. it's ripe for metaphor and the zombies to me always represented the people that are just unwilling to stand up. you know, there are a lot of living dead in america. >> brown: "night of the living dead," starring an african american actor, who was was seen as a kind of social commentary on racism and the paranoid mood of its time. a decade later, romero's first sequel "dawn of the dead" played on the excesses of american consumerism. roger ebert dubbed it "one of the best horror films ever made... savagely merciless in its satiric view..." romero followed up with many other films, including four more in the "dead" series, with varying degrees of box
office success. but the zombie world he unleashed took on a massive multi-billion dollar life of its own, in blockbuster films like "world war z", with brad pitt, and amc's "the walking dead." that, in turn, led romero to sour a bit on the genre he helped popularize. >> it's-- all of a sudden, you can't make a little zombie film anymore. has to be special effects and big-budget, and i'm not-- i'm just not interested in that. >> brown: later in life, he shifted to different media, teaming up with marvel in 2014 to publish a comic book series. george romero died sunday in toronto after a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer. he was 77 years old. and for more on romero and his impact, i'm joined by justin chang, film critic for the los angeles times. welcome to you, justin. zombies, who would have thought? what explains the impact of those early films?
>> well, i think when you have a film like "night of the living dead," which is one of the great debut films any director in or outside the horror genre has ever given us, you have to look at the context, you know, vietnam, martin luther king, jr.'s assassination, the recent assassinations of the kennedy brothers, it was a time of obviously great social unrest ad george romero found, unwittingly or not, a perfect metaphor for that unrest, and i think it was about the primitiveness of the filmmaking, the very raw technique. it was shot on a $114,000 budget which is about $800,00 $800,000, still very small budget, and he achieved almost a documentary nightmare that captured, i think, a sense of rage and a pointlessness, kind of senseless, arbitrary killing that was really unsettling for audiences at the time and still
enormously unsettling today. >> brown: his films, of course, largely done on the cheap but somehow the cult thing grew into a large, cultural phenomenon. as we heard, he wasn't so crazy about what followed? >> absolutely. i mean, we live in a culture where zombies are proliferating on screens, whether world war z or he walking dead which is still hugely popular or the remake of dawn of the dead about 13 years ago and terrific spoofs like sean of the dead which professor romero processed to liking. in a way, he was understandably disenchanted with the way hollywood really mainstreamed the zombie film and video and took out the political subtexts he was so good at putting in there and i think he especially resented things like the walking dead because it made it very difficult for him to get his own
zombie movies financed on an independent level, and he was a consummate independent filmmaker, and something of a hollywood outsider and skeptic, i think all his career, which makes his success all the more remarkable. >> brown: for a lot of people, the stuff goes too far, the graphic violence, that's part of our society and entertainment culture. did he help create that for better or for worse? >> i don't think it's entirely fair to lay that as george romero's doorstep, and i say that as someone who's on the more squeamish side of the spectrum as far as horror movie goes. i think you have to look at his films like dawn of the dead which is as great a master paste as night of the living dead. there is just something more than the violence, if you're just there for the splatter and viscera, he gives you that, but we's asking you to look at what's going on and see who the zombies represent and who the
real monsters are, so i don't think it's entirely fair to say he's responsible for the exploitation of violence in our culture. he's exploiting violence in his own way to brilliant and provocative ends. >> brown: i want to mention the passing of another movie figure the actor martin landau known on television, mission impossible, films and best actor. let's look at crimes and misdemeanors, woody allen. >> you're going to hold on to me with threats, stupid threats and slander. this is your idea of love, right? >> i will not be tossed out. i want to speak to miriam! >> for christ's sake! what the hell are you doing to me? please! >> brown: justin chang, a brief thought on martin landau. >> martin landau is a wonderful actor and that scene captures his elegance and gravidas, his
ability to play a silken villain that we feel for. in that film, he's an adulterous husband who contemplates the murder of his lover and it's, you know, i'm reminded, too, of his great performance many decades earlier in alfred hitchcock's north by northwest and took a villain and mate it memorable. he had a real talent for playing morally ambiguous characters and doing it suburbly. >> brown: justin chang of the "los angeles times," thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs
newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
welcome to the program. i'm jonathan karl of abc news, filling in for charlie rose. we begin with politics talking to mike allen, megan murphy and yoni applebaum. >> some of the things that are happening, the antics that are happening. this is the personal lawyer of the president of the united states. we talk all the time about the president's tweets and whether they're appropriate or not, whether we're dealing with mika or some of the other things. i do get worried that we are becoming so inured. this is something in the next 24 news cycle, the next event, the next thing we brush off. are we becoming inured as