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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  March 13, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: grounded. the boeing 737-max is banned from u.s. skies, following similar moves by more than 40ot r countries. then, more prison time for paul manafort. president trump's former campaign chairman gets an additional 3.5 years for conspiring to hide millions of dollars from work in ukraine. plus, a luring danger. more than 50 years after asbestos is found to be uengerous, the push contins to ban the substance in the u.s. >> progress is glacially slow. i' buried so many people i have known and loved, including my husband >> woodruff: all that and htre, on tonig's pbs newshour.
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it followed sunday's deadly a crash 37-max in ethiopia. john yang begins our coverage. >> yang: president trump made the announcement himself. >> boeing is an incredible they are woro figure this out. hopefully they will be coming up with the answer. but until they do, the planes will be grounded. >> yang: as he spoke, more than two dozen of the planes n-flight over the united states. once they landed, they are on the ground until further notice. as recently as last night, the f.a.a. rej the jet after two fatal crashes in five months. thenmost recent was sunday, anan ethiopian airlines pl plunged to the ground, killing 157 people. today, acting f.a.a. administrator daniel elwell saev the agency rersed course after new data indicated similarities between sunday's crash and october's crash of a lion air 737-max in indonesia that killed
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189 people. >> the evidence that we found on the ground made it even more likely that the flight path was very close to lion air. >> yang: t f.a.a. had been virtually alone in not grounding the plane. that isolation grew this rning, when canadian transport minister marc garneau acted. >> all i can say is, based on the new information that we got this morning, that was enough to cause us to make this decision. the americans will do their own thing. >> yang: today, boeing said it "continues to have full confidence" in the plane's safety, but supported the f.a.a.'s action. of the grounded airliners are operated by three u.s.-based carriers: american, southwestun aned. tonight, they are scrambling to substitute other planes and rebook passengers from ccelled flight for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: joining me now tohe talk about.a.a.'s decision today is newshour's science correspondent, miles o' brien.
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so, hello, miles. tell us, first of all,is this new information that came out overnight? >> well, god, it's interesting, it's a direct outgrowth of the loss of m.h.370 fe years ago, the 777 that left from kuala lumpur and remains lost. there was a mandate to the airline industry to come up with better tracking capabilities. a company calledrion in conjunction with flight trackerp developed ility and brought it to market and this gave the a.a. and anyone who would look at thedata a more granular at what happened to the aircraft after it dep that gave them the fidelity that presumably matched up to closely what we saw in october with the lion air crash and left them uith this dizigs. >> woodruff: 're talking about a satellite image of what happened to the plane betweth time it took off and the crash? >> yes, a re detailed image that gave them more specificity
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about what the aircrt was doing in the short flight. >> woodruff: the f.a.a. officials cited evidence on the ground. do we know what that's a reference to? >> they were not specific on it. maybe there was something in the wreckage which might have caused them to pause, the nat ture to ha crash, the fact it apparently came in almostdi exactly perplar to the ground, nose, you know, going fast and nose downo >>druff: and, miles, this decision comes by the united states afterwhat, re than 40 other countries had already made the decision including cana, as we reported. any explanation for why it took longer for the u.s.? >> you know, lots of public pressure here, lots of political pressure, lots of global pressure. why the pushbk? it's hard to say exactly what was going on behind closed door at the the f.a.a., but i will tell you this, it became increasingly efforts they had an in october boeingened the f.a.a.
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agreed there was a fleet-wide problem with the aircraft, that the software s iorrect, the certain was not feeding it good information, it needemultiple sensors to be safer and, yet, there was no grouping at that time. f occurs to me i a piece of hardware, a wing or engine had fallen off, they would have grounded it immediately but wate so was broken and they said we'll fix it by april. so perhaps it became clear to them they wr't recognizing the seriousness of the software problem. >> woodruff: and there was also a question tied into that about whether the u.s. government shutdown which lasted over a month might have in some way contributed to theelay in the software fix. the f.a.a. wash denyingat today, though. >> they do deny that. it's hard to know what was goint on inside f.a.a. at the time, but the fact that they identified a fleet-wide problem, albeit software, a problem that caused the deaths of people andh f.a.a. said, well, let the planes fly, we'll fix them in april, is something that i think
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became difficult for the f.a.a. and boeing to explain. >> woodruff: so, miles, these planes are grounded. what happens now and what determines when the planes are ain? to fly a what are the factors that are going to go into this?f >> well, firstl, it's a relatively small part of the fleet. southwest aerials has the most, a little over 30 of the aircraft in their fleet, but they have a fleet of over 70, so they will be able to modify their schedule using spare aircraft and modifying schedules and so forth. the big picture, you know, what lies ahead here, how long it will take, you know, it's kind of first do no harm. you want to fix the se oftwt you don't want to create any unintended consequces. it needs to be done in a very deliberate manner.ou that said,now, there is a commercial component to this. this is a bottom-line thing and wie f.a.all work as quickly as possible. >> woodruff: so it's the b software ft much more than that now.
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>> exactly. it's the software fix, but it'sr flightical. so these things have to be tested, retested, tefortd before they're reintroduced into the fleet. >> woodruf miles o'brien, we thank you. >> you're welcome, judy. >> woodruff: our secjor headline tonight involves paul manafort, president trump's former campaign chair. nfederal judge in washing sentenced him today to 3.5 years for crimes related to foreign lobbying and witness tampering. he already received just under four yrs prison time in a separate case. d the white house, the president was asout a possible pardon. >> i have not even given it a thought, as of this moment. it's not something that's right now on my mind. i do feel badly for paul manafort, that i can tell you. >> woodruff: shortly after toy's sentencing, the manhattan district attorney brought new, new york state charges of mortgage fraud andes other crgainst manafort. william brangham will have details on all of this, after the news summary.
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in the day's other news, a lawyer for president trump'ser foersonal attorney, michael cohen, defended cohen's denials that he sought a presidential pardon. it came in a letter to congressman elijah cummings, chair of the house oversight committee. the letter said that "at no time did mr. cohen personally ask ,"esident trump for a pard as the president has claimed. the lawyer did acknowledge that cohen sought to explore a possible pardon, beforthhe broke he president last june. matthew whitaker told them tode esident called them while he was in office to discuss the cohen case and federal investigations into mr. trump. mr. trump warned reublican mr. trump warned republican sesenators today not to op his national emergency related to the southern border. he also nixed a g.o.p. proposal to limit future emergencies. it was aimed at staving off a defeat for the president tomorrow, when the senate votes on blocking ergency
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declaration. the house already passedt, and the president has threatened a veto. california's governor gavin swson has imposed a moratorium on executions in tte. his action today means a reprieve, for w, for 737 inmates on the nation's largest death row. newsom is a newly-elected democrat and a longtime foe of capital punishment. >> it's not the question of the death penalty if peoe deserve to die for their heinous acts. the queson really is, do we have the right to kill? do we have the right to kill? that's a deep and existential question, and i don't believe we do. uff: newsom denied he is defying voters. in 2016, californians narrowlyor sud a ballot measure that called for speeding up the execution process. in nigeria, a three-story
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building that included a primary school collapsed in laday, with up to 100 children inside. there were conflicting reports of deaths, b dozens were rescued. crews desperately combed the mangled wreckage all day, looking for signs of life. thone was no immediate word what caused the collapse. in brazil two gunm attacked a scho today, killing two teachers and six students before taking their own lives. it happened outside sao paulo, brazil's largest city. the school housed elementaryo high school grades. police said the attackers, in their early s, used guns, knives and crossbows. there was no indication of what their motive was. the british parliament has rejected a "no-deal"rexit, with 16 days left until the deadline for leaving the european union. the vote came a day after lawmakers turned down prime minister teresa may's proposed deal for a second time.
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afterwards she addressed the house of commons with a voice horse from strain. >> the legal default in u.k. and e.u. law remains u.k. will leavt the e.u. wit deal unless -- houting) -- unless something else is agreed. onus is now on every one of us in this house to find out what that is. >> woodruff: particle >> woodruff: parliament plans to vote tomorrow on whether to ask the e.u. for more time. a judge in australia today sentenced cardinal george pell to six years in prison forxu ly molesting two choirboys in the 1990s. he is the highest-ranking roman catholic official convicted of child sex abuse in the long- running scandal. pell is now 77ears old, and is appealing his convicon. a newly released united nations report , uently warns that
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growing environmental ills are killing millions of people every year. the report cites climate change, a surging human population and degraded land and air. and, it says, natural resource use more than tripled in the last 50 years. the rert urges a transition to clean energy and greater waste reduction. back in this country, the pentagon has approved new limits on transgender troops. the policy largely bars troops and new recruits from transitioning to another gender. it also says that most must serve in their birth gender. president trump initially ordered an outrigh transgender troops. and on wall street, the technology and health cares sectshed stocks higher. the dow jones industrial average climbed 148 points to close at 25,703. the nasdaq rose 52, and the s&p 500 added 19. still to come on theewshour:me more prison or the president's former campaign airman.
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a new push for peace in america's longeslawar. why reguons continue to fail to limit the dangers of asbestos. and, much more. >> woodruff: as we reported, president trump's former campaign chairman paul manafort was sentenced today to 3.5 mor years in federal prison, bringing his total sentence to 7.5 years. amna nawaz brings us uate. >> nawaz: hi, judy, it was wnafort's second sentencing hearing in as maks, both of them in cases brought by special counsel robert mueller. today's sentence was for crimes manafort pleaded gui last year: hiding his foreign lobbying, and obstcting justice. but once this hearing ended, another gal drama began, with a surprise announcement out ofanhattan-- new charges against manafort brought by the district attorney there. our own william brangham was in
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the courtroom today to follow it all, and he joins me now. hey, william, good to see you. >> hi. >> reporter: you were in t courthouse. tell me what it was like in there. >> there was a sense of finality de it all. this is the firsendant to go toe to toe with robert mueller's prosecutors, the first one ho's actually tak his case to trial, and the d.o.j., the prosecutors laid out all the evidence youust described, all the crimes he bled guilty to. m paafort spoke today in comparison to last week who virginia, he spoke ch greater length today. he said i'm sorry of this, i'mas med of my actions. he noted his age, he said to the judge, i'm tning 70 in a couple of weeks, i'm the primary caretaker for my wife, i need to be there for her aned i ned her there for me. and he said to the judge, please t us be together. >> reporter: did any of that make a difference from what we can tell in what the judge did? >> it's hard to tell. she seems sympathetic to the human aspect of b tht judge
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jackson is very plain spoken. she wants people when she's speaking from the bench toreab crystal cleat what she's talking about and she laid into manafort about all the crheime pled guilty to. she said he knew what he was doing, lied about it, covered it up and did this for year after year after year. she said "it's hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money that was involved here." she dso sai that he perpetuated these crimes to fund a very open lent festyle. she said it was buying him more nhouses than one man c enjoy, more suits than one manan wear. his defense lawyers were rolling their eyes thinking, my god, this is not going wel. >> reporter: this case came out of the office of special counsel of robert mueller, leading aparate investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. did any of that come uin thi case or in what the judge said today?
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>> this is so true. this is something the manafort team and the president have kept harping is manafort's case has nothing to do with collusion with russia. that is true. the crimes he's charged with are ell about crimes that occurred before he joined t trump campaign. but two different courts have said mueller's mandate absolutely allows for manafort's crimeso be prosecuted. the judge was incensed by this idea that manafort and his defense team and the the president keep saying this trial proves there was no collusion. they sd it many times in the sentencing document that they submitted to the court today and the judge kept pushing back on this. she said russian solution was not addressed in courtro and it was not resolved in my courtroom. of course, that didn't stop fort's lawyer from walking right out of the court and saying the exact opposite. >> judge jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any russian collusion in this case. so that makes two courts--
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( onlookers begin screaming ) --two courts have ruled, no evidence of any collusion with any russians. >> traitor! >> liar! >> that's not what she said! >> i don't know in you can hear that but already legally tute hecklers there saying that's not what the judge said, you're lying, which is true. >> reporr: what is next for paul manafort? >> paul manafort is going to jail for seven and a ha years. the looming question over all of this is the issue of a pardon. we heard thde president ass that earlier. he said he hasn't been thinking about it but h has neer taken it off the table. he could absolutely pardon paul manafort for all of these crimes. this other case that popped up in new york, those are crimes that the president could nt pardon manafort for if convicted of them. e'll see. >> reporter: a very important distinction. william brangham explains it all. thank you, william. >> you're welcome >> nawaz: and now let's bring cardozo law school professor and former southern district of new yo prosecutor jessica roth into the conversation. professor rothjust with the sentencing, last week a different judge in the federal
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case got flack from a senthtence was well below the sentencing guidelines. what was your reaction to the sentencing that came down day? >> thesons judge jackson proposed today is much more in line with what i expected to see in this case including last week, but the net eect of her sentence today is manafort will serve seven and a half years, more consistent with federal sentencing practicing generally. i think that the sentence reflected her different view of manafort's crimes from how judge ellis viewed it as william talked about, she emphasized the extend of the crimes, fraud and amount of money involved in a way that really wasn't present in judge ellis' remarks about his reasons for imposing the sentence. >> so these new state charges that came down today, a bit surprise for a lot of folks, so walk us through what we know about the charges and what could happen next. >> so there are a lot of chae rs that wled in new york. they were unsealetoday but
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actually filed by a grand jury last week, so it appears district attorney vance was waiting until the federal sentencings, both concluded before he unsealed the charges,r and are accounts of mortgage fraud, attempt and conspicy to commit mortgage fraud, also involve falsified business records and also just a general fraud charge. what's goingo be key going forward is whether or not they are tout conduat is separate from what manafort has already been convicted of in his two federal cases, and that's because new york's doubles jeopardy lawtually quite protective of defendants from being prosecuted in new york, after they've aleady been prosecuted for the same conduct in ano jthrisdiction. so that's going to be the big legal question going forward.>> o help us understand now. obviously, the last two federal cases, as we noted, me out of the office of the special counsel robert mueller. did we learn anything about that investigation from those two
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cases or could we from the state charges as they move forwardle >> we didn'trn anything new today, with respect to whe the special counsel investigation is going or what might be in the mueller report some day, from r at happened in the district of columbia today, uld i say we learned anything new from the unsealing of the cha irg new york. we learned about the fate of paul manaforis really what we learned today, and i think we're going to see come further developments this week that may shed more light on thetimeline of the special counsel's probe, including a filing that'due on friday, with respect toick gates. the government is supposed to tell judge berman jackson whoal has that matter whether or not they are prepared to move forward th sentencing of rik gates. rick gates, of course, has been a key cooperator for theci s counsel's office. he testified against paul manafort, his former boss. gates was theeputy campaign manager, also the deputy on the
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hiinaugural committee, we know is the subject of an ongoing inv iestigatithe southern district of new york, so we make it some sense of the ti line when we get the filing friday. >> reporter: that will be one to watch.o cardw school proof jessica roth, thanks very >> my plea >> woodruff: the latest round of talks between the united states and the taliban concluded yesterday in qatar. its the highest-level engagement ever between the adversaries, now nearing the end of a second decade of fighting in afghanistan. in a moment, we will hear the afghan government's persctive on the talks. but first, videographer sebastian rich recently sent us exclusive video of american and operations in southern afghanistan, and nick schifrins repo how both sides are trying to use battlefield gains to force peacemaking
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concessions. >> hey, right up here. right up here. >> schifrin: in the 19th year of the afghan war, taliban snipers don't miss by very much. >> one of the rounds, like, hit one, two. and it just went through. i was just sitting right here, and they flew right by my headut >> schifrin:hen these u.s. marine advisors come under fire in helmand, the response is organized-- ( speaking in dari ) >> schifrin: --mapped out on an ad, and aimed on this old russian tank-- ( explosion ) --by afghan soldiers. , andaliban sniper was h afterward, the afghan commander provided details to the u.s. marine captain. >> thank you, tashakur. >> schifrin: these days, the t afghan army do majority of the fighting-- and dying. since 2015, the afghan28 government say00 afghan soldiers and police ied. in the same time62the u.s. says merican service members have
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died. the u.s. trains afghan forces, ovides them logistics an intelligence... ( explosion ) ...and supports them with ryapons they don't have, like long-range artil as weapons are fired outside, inside the nearby joint operations command, u.s. marines track possible fighters with drones, or u.a.v.s. >> this is the guy who had the cross-body weapon. >> schifrin: this rare footage of aerial rveillance, where intellegence work with drone pilots, was screened and cleared by the u.s. marine unit. >> so while you were gone, this guy came out of the l-shaped w buildih a long rifle. >> schifrin: they look at video we couldn't film, on the equivalent of a d.v.r.-- >> oh, you canee the barrel actually poking out, on his left side. >> schifrin: --and stay in communication with a d pilot. >> maintain track on that individual. >> schifrin: on this day, they track a man the marines say was carrying a weapon out a mosque, and likely preparing another attack, walking into this building. and after the military says it checked its intelligence and
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acquired legal authorization, e drone films as jets strike. after, the camera zooms in on men trying to escape.nd a few selater-- gunfire from an aircraft kills them toog >> we're loohrough a camera, off of a u.a.v., and e 's pretty up and close personal when you ose missiles hit human beings. di>> schifrin: this is bri general dale alford's third deployment to afghanistan. formas seen this war tra from a light u.s. footprint, to a surge of u.s. forces, to this deployment, where his unit has suffered zero sualties. >> marines aren't dyg, and this is the natural evolution of this war. there's still a lot of afghan soldiers and policeman that arei dying on a basis, and my job is to try and make less of that, and the way we do that is to take out the bad guys. >> schifrin: over the last year,
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the taliban have increased the number of high-profile attacks. a military inspector general says the taliban control or contest nearly half the country, hoping to obtain leverage in peace talks. >> our mission is toelp the afghan army and police force put military pressure on the taliban, to bring them to the table, to come to some kind of peace agreement. every war must end. >> schifrin: this wad is being negotiated by special representative for afghanistan khalilzad, coordinating closely with the military. yesterday, he concluded the longest-ever negotiation roundth he taliban, including the group's recently released deputy leader..s seniorofficials tell pbs newshour, the two sides began ts draft agreemn the taliban's preventing afghanistan from being used by international terrorists.t e taliban haven't yet agreed to renounce al qaeda. and, the talks produced a "sense of convergence" on u.s. troop withdrawal, but the u.s. has not yet committed to a timeline. khalilzad is under pressure to achieve major progress by thissu er's planned election. he spoke in washington in
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>> it will be better for afghanistan if we could gea peace agreement before the election, whis scheduled in july. b >> schifri the two sides have not agreed on a taliban cease-fire, or the taliban's meeting directly with the afghan povernment-- which khalilzad called the most ant, and difficult stage. >> we have offered to do what w, can to be helpf our help is needed. but it's for the afghans to decide. it's for the afghans to have the conversatis. it's for the afghans toth negotiate ach other. it is for the afghans to accept each other. >> schifrin: but so far, the taliban refuse to accept even talking directly with the afghan government, and the afghan government is coerned about khalilzad's pace. on monday, before the latest round of talks ended, i spoke with nader nadery, a senior advisor to president ashraf ghani. what level of input has president ghani or your government had in ambassador's
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talks with the taliban? >> our level of input what we would like to see increased andq expanded, the nce of the different processes, and also we want to see that the differen elements, which is the withdrawal of the troops, reduction of the troops, not using afghanistan or taliban cutting ties with the terrorist groups, then theti negot with afghan government and cease fire. of these are interlinked and the afghan government wants to see, being at the center of the table, backed and helped and facilitated by the united states and i think ambassador khalilzad is walking ard that direction. e> these talks are between the united states and aliban, and you said you would like our input expanded.ed i tao a lot of people in kabul who are frustrated with ambassador assad. is the government receiving enough information about what he
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is talking to the taliban about? >> i wldn't point to the person. the process is designed such where the government is not the center of the table, and that's what we arerking. ambassador khalilzad is continuing to brief the president, we want to see that and more of a contribution anddi ussion on the substance of the process. the united states shall, and i think it hasm the al authority and the political ability to press the taliban t preserve the centrality of our constitution or the space at's being created >> and do you believe the u.s. is pressing the taliban to preserve the constitutn of the taliban? >> the united states, it has interests and it has values, but it will leave it to afghan people to define what they want, and we as afghan people, we nt to keep the rules of the game ir political poweserved, and that is through the constitution
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and through preservation and strengthening to have the democratic process we have. if we don preserve that, the civil war will return back. now, we say we will advocate, we will fight for those vals, including women's participation and equal right in the public admistration and society. >> reporter: president trump explains he wants to withdraw from aftionz. ambassador khalilzad said he esneeds major proby the summer. are you worried the u.s. will not stand with you when it com to defending the constitution in order to make a deal quickly? >> that's a major fear and there is a level of anxiety, when we see that there is a rush. we do understand and we feel the sense of urgency. we have the sense of urmingsy as the people of afghanistan. we want this war to end. we want the guns to bel sient. but silencing the guns shall not
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be in a way that is temporary silence.e we want it to arefully done in a design of angreement that will result in a proud moment both for the united states and for afghans that, when the united states looks back to see 17 years of blood and treasure, this is the peace that we have brought in that country and in that region. we're indebted as a nation to the sacrifices the u.s. people have given to us. >> reporter: you use the word "anxiety" when it comes to ambassador khalilzad's talks. has that anxiety increased since the talks began in. >> there's no anxiety about the notion to have the tak itself and khalilzad's discussion and engagement.h we want to see war in the true peace discussion. but the anxiety is on the pace of it and the speed of ita tht distracts all of us from
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focusing on the substance and content of thpeace agreement because a speeded process and rueed process will change rules of the game, will reset everything, and, thee, will be an invitation for civil war. that's where people are worried. >> reporter: is the afghan government concerned that the u.s. will ask president ghani to essentially step down so that e u.s. canreate an interim government to allow the taliban in as a part of the peace deal?a >> ordinary af across the country want to see their country political system through a model of election continue, and people need to preserve and gespect that wish, and that's why the afn government is insisting on keeping the election and focus on election continued. >> reporter: seen your advisor to president ashraf ghani, thank
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you very much. >> thank you very much for having me. >> woodruff: if you haveny followedumber of stories about asbestos and its role with cancer, deaths and health probms over the years, you might think it's been banned from u in the u.s. well, that's not the case. it is true thaasbestos is not used in building materials the way it once was. but, it still is found in some household products, and some public health experts worry about its continued use. miles o'brien is back with that story, and why the regulation and oversight of it remains a public health concern. it's f our weekly segment on the "leading edge" of science, technology and health. >> reporter: for 15 yes, linda reinstein has pounded the marble halls of power in washington, a ot soldier in a long environmental battle that you might think was over.
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>> we deserve to have our air free of contaminants, air, soil and water. and without an asbestos ban on all products, we remain in peril. >> reporter: asbestos; naturally-occurring mineral fibers that are durable, fir resistant and highly carcinogenic. breathing them can trigger lethal diseases. there is no debate about that. but more than 50 years after a landmark studyasonfirmed this, stos is a poster child for a broken regulatory process. it is still used by industry, t in 30 million homes, and is a contaminant in consumer products, including children's toys and makeup. the f.d.a. is now warning parents to throw out three products from claire's after new tests found they contained bestos. officially, asbestos kills nearly 3,000 americans every year, but these deaths are under-reported. environmental and health advocates believe the actualll
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s much higher. >> i urge you to expeditiously and thoroughly evaluate the risk, and move to fully banning asbestos without any exemptions. >> reporter: in 2006, linda reinstein's husband alan died of mesothelioma, cancer of the thin layer of tissue that covers our internal organs, a fatal disease caused almost exclusively by asbestos. alan reitein was exposed to asbestos at a shipyard and while doing home renations. his widow is pushing newly- introducedegislation to enact an outright ban on asbestos. do you feel ke you made progress? >> progress is glacially slow. i've buried so many people i have known and loved, including my husband. >> you okay? >> yeah. i'm just loopy from the drugs. >> reporter: paul zygielbaum is one of those stories behind the grim numbers.
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when we first met him in december of 2017, he was in the midst of a powerful chemotherapy infusion 14 years after he was diagnosed with mesotheoma. >> i'm just hoping that i can get back to a better physical condition, where i can do the things i want to do. i have no idea whether that's going to happen or not, so that is kind of frustrating. >> reporter: this is just one of more than 50 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. he endur a former engineer for the spacei computer and u industries, he believes he was exposed to asbestos at a power plant. >> this is a carcinogen. 's deadly. it's insidious, because a diseasdoesn't show up for 15 to 50 years after exposure. and it's likthere's a blind eye being turned to that, where that doesn't happen with many other carcinogens.
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>> reporter: why do you think that is? >> i think there's decades of industry lobbying behind it. >> reporter: but scientists see a lot of neefor urgency. every time they look at asbestos under an electron microscope, they are reminded of the risks. brenda buck is a med geologist at the university of nevada las vegas. >> this little fiber here is quite long and very thin, which is very typical of asbestos fibers. it's strong. it's durable. it's fire-proof. >> reporter: those properties made them an appealing choice in hundreds of household oducts. at one time, asbestos waset ma as a modern marvel. >> ooh, it is attractive. >> yes, and it'll stay that way too. that's what i like about it. >> reporter: but people who worked a factories and mines, started getting sick. most infamously in libby, montana, where asbestos dust from a mine has killed 10% of the population.
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>> they have these great properties that we can use in materials-- those very same properties is why they hazardous in the human body. they don't break down. y'en you breath them in, t pretty much going to stick with you for your lifetime. >> repter: the human immune system response; attack the stubborn fiber. but eventually this backfires, creating damage, disease and eventually dea from cancer and a host of other afflictions. >> and so, the goverent started to regulate occupational exposures. they started at pretty hig levels, and as more and moreco science waucted, we began to realize that we needed lower and lower exposures to prevent disease. >> reporter: in the 1980s, schools across the country scrambled to remove asbestos insulation from pipes and boilers. thed, in 1989, the e.p.a. is a ban on the manufacturing, importation, processing and sale of products containing asbestos. but, the chemical industry successfully sued to overturn it in 1991.
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so in 2016, congress and the obama administration enact an updated toxic substances control act. the idea: give the e.p.a. more teeth to regulate asbestos and other hazardous chemicals that amain in the environment. but the march towaan came to a grinding halt with thedo election old trump. in 2005, speaking as a real hitate developer, he told a senate committee >> a lot of people in my industry believe asbestos is the greatest fireproofing al ever made. >>eporter: trump's appoint in charge of chemical safety at the e.p. is nancy beck, who came straight from a high level post at the largest chemical lobbying firm in the country: the american chemistry council. in denies beck has a conflict of interest, and says that clai that she does, "unfairly disregard her career experiences
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and decades of work as an objective and highly respected scientist." but under her leadership, the e.p.a. is refusing to even study, much less regulate, the gacy asbestos that is al around us. the e.p.a. says, it "is committed to protecting the public from asbestos exposures. and it says, "atute gives discretion to the administrator, to focus on the uses that are of greatest concern." >> it's a david and goliath battle. we are the small person trying to move big mountains. there's huge money that flows. >> reporter: and so does the the united states has imported more than 6,000 tons of asbestos since 2011, almost all of it used by the chlor alkali industry to make chlorine. it mostly comes from brazil, but in 2017, that country banned the mineral, as have more than 60 other nations. as brazil winds down production,
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asbestos imports will increasingly come from russia, where some shipments are stamped with aeal of the president's face, along with the words "approved by president of the united states." meanwhile in southern nevada, brenda buck and her colleague, medical geologist rodney metcalf, have found even more troubling cause for concern about asbestos. >> it's everywhere. look at this, everywhere. >> reporter: they have mapped more than a million acres of naturally-occurring asbestos here. the discovery came after they uncovered evidence of unusually high rates of mesotheliomamong women and children-- a telltale sign of asbestos exposure that is environmental, rather than occupational. >> even if the e.p.a. banned all use of asbestos in the nation, we still have it occurring in our soils, and therefore, in our air. and people are still being exposed to it, just through these natural mechanisms.
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>> reporter: the occupational safety and health administration has set limits on asbestos use in the workplace. but scientists say, there id no es there is any safe level of exposure to as, which is why linda reinstein keeps pushing for a total ain. >> alan's will remain forever, and my heart wi be broken, but i will fight on. >> i'm optimistic about a change in attude in washington. i think it can happen. i don't think we're done yet. but i think ultimately we will win. >> reporter: you're an unlikely optimist. >> that's what keeps me going. >> reporter: paul zygielbaum lost his 15-year battle with mesothelioma on january 25. asbestos will likely take thousands of other american lives before the year ends. the deaths are slow and painful,
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not unlike the regulatory response to this public health crisis. for the pbs newshour i'm miles o'brien in santa rosa, california. >> woodruff: and we'll be back shortly, with a look at howar donkeybeing used in therapy to work with autistic patients. het first, take a moment t from your local pbs station. it's a chance to offer yourt, suppor which helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> woodruff: for those stations staying with us, we travel to iraq, where lush marshes were once a vital source of lifand nourishment. but the wetlands are suffering from shockingly low water levels, killing plant life and
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the water buffalo iraqis depend on to surviv special correspondent jane ferguson has this encore report. >> reporter: few people look out on these marshes with as mh love and concern as jassim alassadi. he has dedicated his life to preserving them. >> i born here in the middle of the marshes, i born here in the central marsh. at that time, i openedy eyes and it was an eden. there was a wide area for water, plants, buffalo and fish. at that time, there were fish everywhere, around our houses. i can go from my house and i can get the fish directly from the river. >> reporter: these ancient iraqi wetlands are believed to have been the garden of eden in the they have sustained human life here for thousands of years,st tching on for miles and
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miles, a precious, unesco world ritage site-- but, they shouldn't look like this. yellowy brown reeds are a sign of the plant life dying. these are the same marshes filmed just four years ago. >> it is not normal. because historically everywhere in the marss, the you see this water? it is dead completely.hs before four mogo, all of this area was covered in water, that time because the level of the euphrates was higher. now the level of the euphratlm goes down byt three feet. >> reporter: the marshes of southern iraq are suffering from low water levels, down 17 inches, and it's a part of the widespread waterrisis spanning the entire country. water levels in the life-giving tigris and euphrates rivers have plummeted. the problem is that the water isn't just low. it's also too salty. according to alassadi, the reduced volume of water has caused salination to spike from 200 parts per million, as it was when he was a child here, to 1,800 parts per million today.
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that means the water is not only killing the plant life, but also the water buffalo people here depend on. these cows provide cheese, milk, and meat to eat. for thousands of years, they simply drank the water all around them, but now it has become too salty, and toxic for the buffalo, blinding them before they die. we met buffalo herder abbaswa jacollecting water from one of the remaining few, healthy parts of the marsh. from here, he will carry the water miles to his herd. he has lost 15 buffalo in the last year the salty water. >> ( translated ): all of thisen used to be gand now it is almost a desert. last year, we had water, but this year there is none at all. you can see that with your own eyes. >> reporr: entire villages have been abandoned, as life for the herders comes too hard to bear. the land simply cannot sustain them.
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>> ( translated ): our livelihood is water. we just ed the water. if our herds die, we will starve. >> reporter: zahara is just 15, and has never been to school, ticsshe understands the po behind her community's struggles. >> ( translated ): they stopped the flow of the water xcrkey. they want oil in enge for water. the iraqi government refused to give them the oil, and we are the ones who suffer. >> reporter: she is referring to the ilisu dam, a massive, newly constructed dam upstream along the tigris river, across the border in turkey-- par massive 22-dam project. ilisu dam went into operation this summer, and water levels downstream, in iraq, immediately plummeted. around 70% of iraq's water flows from nei iran and turkey. like iraq's minister for water resoces, hassan al janabi, says the dams upstream in those neighboring nations only add to the effects of climate change. >> it's tough to quantify, but i
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would say that the climate change impact is felt, is visible, there are evidence in but the control by the upstream countries, the dams in turkey, iran and syria, is, ore visible. the euphrates river for example, we lost somethi like 55% to 60% of the average annual flow to our country. >> reporter: already, farmersin are driven from the land in iraq. in the northern province of ninevah, wheat farmers struggle to keep their crops alive in parched, dry earth. farmer sami yessi says his wheat fields are failing. >> ( translated ): last year, i planted 175 acres, but ts year i could not. i planted only 125.
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it costs me around 40 million iraqi dinars. the rain fell late and the crops failed. if this situation continues, we cannot plant. if ts situation remains the same next year, we will not be able to. op reporter: even if farmers are able to nurture the iraqi government has cut wheat production by 50% and banned planting rice because both crops use so much water for cultivation. in the short term that may preserve water, but in the long term, could drive millions of iraqis dependent on agriculture from the lan turning swathes of the once famously fertile mesopotamian basin into an uninhabitable dust bowl. >> the desert is expanding. and with this expansion of desert, this means poverty, displacement, irreversible change in the la. you cannot get people back even when conditions in the cntry, assuming conditions in the country, are rig to support them and get them back. it won't happen. it's not that easy.
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>> reporter: meanwhile, iraq has turned from a country that once exported food to one increasinglyependent on imports. as water becomes a rare commodity here, the price of food will increase. in the place known as the cradle of civilization, life here will become more precarious. for the pbs newshour, i'm jane ferguson in nasiriyah, iraq. >> woodruff: the human-animal nnection has long been known for its healing qualities. we love e r dogs. we lr cats. and you might have heard of equine therapy, working with horses to help treat mental heal conditions. but as cristina quinn from pbs station wgbh in boston explains, there's another animal in town that is gaining favor in the therapy world.
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>> reporter: it's only h 4th visit to the farm, but eight- year-old memphis rose looks like an old pro feeding donkeys w pumpkin and jah his licensed counselor, megan moran. >> they like hay. >> we know they like hay, we know thelike food. so maybe we can motivate them. what do you think?>> eah. >> okay. >> reporter: memphis started coming to cultivate care farms in bolton as part of a treatmenf pl his autism. he says when he's here, he feels calm and happy. what is it that makes you ppy being out here? >> the animals are covered in fur, and when you pet them, they feel soft.te >> rep they're soft. they're cute. and it turns out, donkeys, in particular, can help people with autism learn how to read social cues.>> o now you can pet them because they're close. >> reporter: while animals havet long been usedo help treat mental health issues, thsce is no hard ience to back up why it wks no doubt thati animals in some cases can help
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kids with their anxiety. >> their needs are pretty basic and concrete. and so you cancaet a lot of use and effect, which is really hel clients are then needing to figure out how to navigate the real world. >> reporter: and the real world can be tough for a kid with auti. memphis' mom paula says, before coming to cultivate farms, he struggled with the long school day. >> he would come home from school very anxious and angry and just, you know, his room and scream. because what's happening in school is, all those feelings and those anxieties are being, like, repressed, becau he's trying to look like the other kids, trying to fit in. so when he comes home, all that explodes. >> reporter: but since heng started g out with megan, pumpkin, and jack a few weeks ago, the daily meltdowns have tapered off to maybe one or two a week. >> i think it's easier for him to come and talk to megan because he ss her almost like a friend, and this is like a very laid-back place, more than just going into an office and lking to a doctor. >> reporter: that's part of the
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idea behind the care farm approach: taking therapy out of the clinical setting. we can really try out situations where, "what would you do in this type of conflict," or "howz can you socior spend time in another person's space?" like, what is appropriate. >> reporter: c.e.o. andrew lapin says what takes months in an office setting thees only weeks . >> i think it's important that we consider donkeys more in treatment-- that we have put this huge emphasis on horses, athat these are beautiful majestic creatures.lo there's of humans that don't identify as beautiful or majestic. but with a donkey, you catch justbout everyone. >> reporter: helping create an environment where children with special needs can feel more comfortable with ther elves and thrroundings. for the pbs newshour, i'm cristina quinn in bolton, massachusetts. >> woodruff: and a news update before we go, the u.s. senate has voted to cut off support for saudi arabia's coalition fighting in yemen. if the house agrees, it would
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mark the first time congress has invoked the 1973 "war powers act" to stop u.s. engagement in a foreign conflict. the white house has warnes, ent trump will veto the measure. on the newshour online right now, amna nawaz shares more observations from her reporting trip to the u.s.-mexico border. that and more is on our websit and that's the newfor tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> ordering takeout. >> finding the west route. >> talking for hours. >> planning for showers. d >> you cthe things you like to do with a wireless plan designed for you. with talk, text and data. consumer cellular. learn more at >> babbel. a language program that teaches spanish, french, german,
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italian, and >> bnsf y. >> american cruise lines. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. pt ning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned byss media acroup at wgbh ll
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everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & company" on location tonight. here's what'coming up. in just over two weeks,he uk is scheduled to leave the european union and there is still no deal. >> the prime minister. >> parliament weighs in again as tension over ireland remains the umbling block. i speak with leader mary lou mcdornm mc.nald and the former u.s ambassador to the eu tony gardner. plus, this year marks the eighth year since thear in syria began and assad is still standing claiming victory. what's nexor the destroyed un


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