tv PBS News Hour PBS March 13, 2019 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc oo >>uff: 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 40 other countrie then, more prison time for paul manafort. president trump's fo campaign chairman gets an ditional 3.5 years for conspiring to hide millions of dollars from work in ukraine. plus, a luri danger. more than 50 years after asbestos is found to be dangerous, theush continues to ban the substance in the u.s. >> progress is glacily slow. i've buried so many people i have known and loved, incling my husband. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newr.
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john yang begins our coverage. >> yang: president trump mademe the announ himself. >> boeing is an incrediblemp y. they are working to figure this out.y hopefuey will be coming up but until they do, the planes will be grounded. >> yang: as an spoke, more wo dozen of the planes were in-flight over the united states. once they landed, they are on the ground until further noticer ently as last night, the f.a.a. rejected calls to ground the jet after two fatal crashes in five months. the most recent was nday, when an ethiopian alines plane plunged to the ground,illing 157 people. today, acting f.a.a. administrator daniel elwell said sethe agency reversed courfter new data indicated similarities between sunday's crash and october's crash of a lion air 737-max in indonesia that killed 189 people.
>> the evidence that we found on the ground made it even more likely that the flight path was very close to lion a. >> yang: the f.a.a. had been virtually alone in not grounding the plane. that isolation grew this morning, 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 laontinues to have full confidence" in the's safety, but supported the f.a.a.'s action.ou 72 of the ed airliners are operated by three u.s.-based carriers: american, southwest and united. tonight, they are scrambling to substitute other planes and rebook passengers from cancelled flights. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >>oodruff: joining me now talk about the f.a.a.'s decision today is newshour's science correspoent, miles o' brien. so, hello, miles. tell us, first of all, what is this new information that came out overnight?
>> well, god, it's interesting, it's a directt ougrowth of the loss of m.h.3 fivyears 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 com cpalled aerion in conjunctn wi flight tracker developed capability and brought it to market and this gave thean f.a.a. anyone who would look at thedata a more granular looak at wappened to the aircraft after it departed.av thatthem the fidelity that presumably matched up to closely what we saw in october with the lion air crash and left them with this dizigs. >> woodruff: you're talking about a satellite image of what happened to the plane between the time it took off and the crash? ageyes, a more detailed that gave them more specificity about what the aircraft was
doing in the short flight. >> woodruff: the f.ac. officialited 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 cwreckage which might havused them to pause, the nature to have the crash, the fact it apparently came in almost actly perpendicular to the ground, nose, you know, going fast and nose down. h> woodruff: and, miles, this decision comes by united states after, what, more than 40 other countries hady alrade the decision including canada, 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 why the pushback? it's hard to say exactly what was going on beind closed door at the the f.a.a., but i will tell you tcis, it beame increasingly efforts they had an untenable association. in october boeingened the f.a.a. agreed there was a fleet-wide
problem with the aircraft, that the software was incorrect, the certain was not feedg it good information, it needed multiple sensors to be safer and, yet, there was no grouping at that time. it occurs to me if a piece of hardware, a wing or engine had fallen off, they would have keounded it immediately but the software was brand they said we'll fix it by april. so perhaps it becamclear to them they weren't recognizing the seriousness of the software problem. >>uff: 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 the delay in the software fix. the f.a.a. was denying that today, though. >> they do deny th it's hard to know what was going on inside the f.a.a. at the time, but the fact thathey identified a fleet-wide problem, albeit software, a problem that caused the deaths of people and the f.a.a. said, well, let the planes fly, we'll fix them in april, is something that i think became difficult for the f.a.a.
and boeing to explain. >> woodruff: so, miles, these planes are grounded. what happens now and wha wt determinn the planes are safe to fly again? what are the factors that are going go into this? >> well, first of all, it's a relatively small part of the fleet. southwest aerials has the most, a little over 30 of these aircraft in their fleet, but they have a fleet of over 70, so they will be able to modify their schedule usingaipare raft 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 fir do no harm. you want to fix the software but you don't want to create any unintended consequences. so it needs to be done in a very deliberate manner. that said, you know, there is a commercial component to this. this is a bottom-line thing and the f.a.a. will work as quickly as possible. >> woodruff: so it's the software fix but much more than that now. >> exactly. t it software fix, but it's
flight critical. so these things have to be tested, retested, tefortd before they're reintroduced into the fleet. >> woodruff: miles o'brien, we thank you. >> you're welcome, judy. >> woodruff: our second major headline tonight involves paul manafort, president trump's former cpaign chair. a federal judge in washington sentenced him today to 3.5 years for crimes related to n lobbying and witness tampering. he already received justnder four years prison time in a separate case. at the white hou, the president was asked about a possible pardon. >> i have not ev given it a thought, as of this moment. it's not something that's righ now on my mind. i do feel badly for paul manafort, that i can tell you. >> woodruff: shortly after today's sentencing, the manhattan district attorney brought new, new york state charges of mortgage fraud and other crimes against manafort. william brangham will havell details onf this, after the news summary. in the day's other news, a
lawyer for president trump's former personal attorney, michael cohen, defended cohen's denials that he sought a presidtial pardon. it came in a letter to congressman elijah cummings, chair of the house oversight committee.th letter said that "at no time did mr. cohen personally ask president trump r a pardon," as the president has claimed. the lawyer did acknowledge that cohen sought to explore a possible pardon, before he broke with the president last june. latthew whitaker told them today the president cd them while he was in office to discuss the cohen case and federal investigations into mr. trump. mr. trump rned republican mr. trump warned republican senators today not to oppose 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 ofa defeat for the president tomorrow, when the senate votes onlocking his emergency declaration.
the house already passed it, and the president has threatened a veto. california's governor gavin newson has imposed a moratorium on execuons in the state. his action today means a reprieve, for now, for 737 inmates on the nion'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 people deserve to die for their heinous acts. the question really is, 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. >> woodruff: newsom denied he is defying voters. ea 2016, californians narrowly supported a ballotre that called for speeding up the execution process. in nigeria, a three-story
building that included a primary school collapsed in lagos today, with up to 100 children inside. there we conflicting reports of deaths, but dozens were rescued. crews desperaty combed the ngled wreckage all day, looking for signs of life. there was no immediate word ond what caue collapse. in brazil two gunmen attacked a school today, killg two teachers and six students before taking their own lives. it happened outside sao pageo, brazil's l city. the school housed elementary to high school grades. police said the attackers, in their early 20s, used guns, knives and crossbows. there was no indication of what their motive was. the british parliament has rejected a "no-deal" brexit, with 16 days left until the deadline for leaving the european union. the vote came a day after lawmakers turned down prime osminister teresa may's pr deal for a second time.
afterwards she addressed the house of commons with a voice horse from strain. >> the legal default in. uk. and e.u. law remains u.k. will leave the.u. without a deal unless -- (shouting) -- unless something else is agreed. onus is now on every one of us at this house to find out w that is. >> woodruff: particle >> woodruff: parliament plans to vote tomorrow on whether to ask the e.u. forore time. a judge in australia today sentenced cardinal george pell to six years in prison forng sexually moleswo choirboys in the 1990s. he is the highest-ranking romanc cathfficial convicted of child sex abuse in the long- running scandal. pell is now 77 years old, and is appealing his conviction. a newly released united nations report , urgently warns at growing environmental ills are killing millions of people every
year. e 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 report 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 rve in their birth gender. president trump initially ordered an outright ban onen tranr troops. ltd on wall street, the technology and hcare sectors pushed stocks higher. the dow jones industrial average climbe148 points to close at ,703. the nasdaq rose 52, and the s&p 500 added 19. still toome on the newshour: more prison time for the president's former campaign chairman. a new push for peace in
america's longest war. why regulations contino fail to limit the dangers ofos asbe and, much more. >> woodruff: as we reported, president trump's former campaign chairman paul manafort was sentenced today to 3.5 more years in feral prison, bringing his total sentence to 7.5 years. amna nawaz brings us up to date. >> nawaz: hi, judy, it was manafort's second seencing hearing in as many weeks, both of them in cases brought by erecial counsel robert mue today's sentence was for crimes manafort pleaded guilty to last year: hiding his foreign lobbying, and obstructing justice. but once this hearing ended, another legal drama began, with a surprise announcement out of manhattan-- new charges against manafort brought by the district attr ney there. n william brangham was in the courtroom today to follow ih
all, ajoins me now. hey, william, good to see you. >> hi. >> reporter: you were in the courthouse. tell me what it was like in there. >> tre was a sense of fiality to it all. this is the first defendant to go toe to toe with robert mueller's prosecutors, the first one who's actually taken his case to trial, and the d.o.j.,to the prose laid out all the evidence you just described, all the crimes heguleilty to. paul manafort spoke today in t comparislast week who virginia, he spoke at much greater length today. he said i'm sorry this, i'm ashamed of my actions. he noted his age, he sad to the judge, i'm turning 70 in a couple of weeks, i'm therimary caretaker for my wife, i need to be there for her and i need her there for me. and he said tohe judge, please let 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 smpathetic toe human aspect of this but judge jacksois very in spoken.
she wants people when she's speang from the bench tore crystal clear about what she's talking about and she laid iot manafort about all the crimes he pled guilty to. she said he kne what he was doing, lied about it, covered it up and did this for year after year after year. she saidit's hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money that was involved here." she also said that he perpetted these crimes to fun a very open lent lifestyle. she said it was buying him more houses than one man can enjoy, more suits than one man can wear. his defense lawyers were rolling eir eyes thinking, myod, this is not going well. >> reporter: this case came out ofhe office of spial counsel of robert mueller, leading a separate investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. did any of that come up in thics se or in what the judge said today? >> this is so true. this is something the manafort team and the president have kept
harping is maafort's case has nothing to do with collusion ussia. that is true. the crimes he's charged with are all about crimes that occurred beforee joined the trump campaign. but two different courts have said mueller's mandate absolutely allows for nafort's crimes to be prosecuted. the judge was incensed by this idea that manafort and hisfe e team and the the president keep saying this trial proves there was no collusion. they said it many tmes 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 my couanrtroom it was not resolved in my courtroom. of course,haidn't stop blfort's lawyer from walking right out of the cou and saying the exact opposite. >> judge jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any rullssian cion in this case. so that makes two courts--lo ( ers begin screaming ) --two courts have ruled, no
evidence of any collusion with any russians.or >> tra >> liar! >> that's not what she said! >> i don't know in you can hear that but already legally astute ycklers there saying that's not what the judge sai're lying, which is true. >> reporter: what is next for paul manafort? >> paul manafort is going to jail for seven and a half years. the looming question over all of this is the issue of a pardon. we heard the president address that earlier. he said he hasn't been thinking about it but he has never 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, thoserimes that the president could not pardon manafort for if convicted of them. so we'll see. r orter: a very important distinction. william brangham explains it all. thank you, william. >> you're welcome >> nawaz: d now let's bring cardozo law school professor and former southern district of new york prosecutor jessica roth into the conversation. professor roth, just with th sentencing, last week a different judge in the federal case got flack from a sentencebe that was welow the
sentencing guidelines. ction to ther rea sentencing that came down today? >> thesons judge jacksonay proposed tos much more in line with what i expected to see in this case including last week, but the net effect of her sentence today is mafort 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 jdge ellis viewed it. as william talked about, she emphasized the extend of the crimes, fraud andmount of money involved in a way that really wasn't present in judge ellis' remarks about his reasons for imposinthe sentence. >> so these new state charges that came down today, a bit of surprise for a lot of folks, so walk us throuwe what know about the charges and what could happen next. >> so there are a lot of charges that were filed in new york. they were unsealed today but yctually filed by a grand jur last week, so it appears
district attorney vance was waiting until the federal sentencings, both concluded before he unsealed the charges, and there are accou mortgage fraud, attempt and conspiracy to commimortgage fraud, also involve falsified business records and also just a general fraud charge. what's going to be key going forward is whether or not they are about conduct that is separate from whst manafort already been convicted of in hie two l cases, and that's because new york's double jeeardy law is actually qu protective of defendants from being prosecuted in new york, after th bey've alreaen prosecuted for the same conduct in another jurdiction. so that's going to be the big legal question going forward. >> so help us understand now. feobviously, the last twderal cases, as we noted, came out of the office of the special counsel robert mueller. did we learn anything about th investigation from those two cases or could we from the state
charges they move forward? >> we didn't learn anything new day, with respect to where the special counsel investigation is going or what might be in the mueller report soe day, from what happened in the district of columbul today, nor woi say we learned anything new from the unsealing of the charges in new york. we learned about the fate of paul manafort is really wht learned today, and i think we're going to see come further atdevelopments this week ay shed more light on the timeline of the speal counsel's probe, including a filing that's due on friday, with respect to rick gates. the government is supposed to tell judge berman jackson who also has that matter whether or not they are prepared to move forward with sentencg of rick gates. rick gates, of course, has been a key cooperator for the special counsel's office. he testified against paul manafort, his former boss. gates was the deputy campaign manager, also the deputy on the inaugural committee, which we
know is the subject of an ongoing inv southern district of new york, so we make it some sense of the time line when wget the filing friday. >> reporter: that will be one to watch. cardozo law school proof jessica roth, thanks very much. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: the latest round of talks between the united states and the taliban concluded yesterday in qatar. it is the higheslevel gagement ever between the adversaries, now nearing the eca of a second of fighting in afghanistan. in a moment, we will hear the afghan government's perspective on the talks. but first, videographer sebastian rich recently sent us exclusive video of american and afghan operations an southern sitan, and nick schifrin reports on how bots are trying to use battlefield gains to force peacemaking 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 head. >> schifrin: but when these u.s. marine advisors come under fire in helmand, the response is organized-- ( speaking in dari ) >> schifrin: --mapped out on an ipad, and aimed on this old russian tank-- rsexplosion ) --by afghan sold the taliban sniper was hit, and afterward, the afghan commander provided details to the u.s. marine captain. >> thank you, tashakur. >> schifrin: these days, the army does the majority the fighting-- and dying. since 2015, the afghan govement says 28,000 afghan soldiers a police have died. in the same time, the u.s. saysc 62 american semembers have died. the u.s. trains afghan forces,
provides them logistics and ostelligence... ( exn ) ...and supports them with weapons they don't have, like longange artillery. 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-dy weapon. >> schifrin: this rare footage of aerial surveillance, where intellegence work with drone pilots, was screened and cleared by the u.s. marine unit. >> so while you we gone, this guy came out of the l-shaped building with a long rifle. >> schifrin: they look at video we couldn't film, on equivalent of a d.v.r.-- >> oh, you can see the barrel actually poking out, on his left side. >> schifrin: --and stay in communication with a drone pilot. >> maintain track on that individual. >> schifrin: on this d, they track a man the marines say was carrying a weapon out of asq mo, and likely preparing another attack, walking into this building. and after the military says it checked its intelligence and acquired legal authorization,
the drone films as jets strike. after, the camera zooms in on men trying to escape. a few seconds later-- gunfire from an aircraft kills them too. >> we're looking through aof cameraof a u.a.v., and it's pretty up and close personal when you see those missiles hit human beings. >> schifrin: this is brigadier general dale alford's third deployment to afghantan. he has seen this war transform a light u.s. footprint, to a surge of u.s. forces, to tsde ployment, where his unit has suffered zero casualties. >> marines aren't dying, and this is the natural evolution of this war. there's still a lot of afghan soldiers and policeman that are d dying on a daily basis, 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, 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 to help the afghan army and police force put military pressure on the taliban, to bring them to the t tablcome to some kind of peace agreement. every war must end. >> schifrin: this war's end is being negotiated by special representative for afghanistan zalmay khalilzad, elordinating clwith the military.e yesterday, hconcluded the longest-ever negotiation round with the taliban, including the grous recently released depu leader. senior u.s. officials tell pbs newshour, the two sides began to draft agreements on the taliban's preventing afghanistan from being used by international terrorists. but the taliban haven't yet agreed to renounce al qaeda. and, t talks produced a "sense of convergence" on u.s. troop withdrawal, t the u.s. has not yet committed to a timeline. khalilzad is under pressure to achieve major progress by this summer's planned election. he spoke in washington in
early february: >> it will be better for afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the, electiis scheduled in july. >> schifrin: but the two sides have not agreed on a talibance e-fire, or the taliban's meeting directly with the afghan government-- which khalilzad calledhe most important, and difficult stage. >> we have offered to do what we can be helpful, if our help is needed. but it's for the afghans to decide. it's for the afghans to have the conversations. it's for the afghans to negotiate with each other. it is for the afghans to accept each other. >> schifrin: but so far, the t taliban refuaccept even talking directly with the afghan government, and the afghan government is concerned 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 yourn government had ambassador's talks with the taliban? o
>> our lev input what we would like to see increased and expaed, the sequence of th different processes, and also we want to see that the different elements, which is the withdrawal of the troops, reducon of the troops, not usinganafghanir taliban cutting ties with the terrorist groups, then the negotiation with afghan government and cease fire. all of these are interlinked anr the afghan goent 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 toward at direction. >> these talks are between the united stes and the taliban and you said you would like our input expanded. i talked to a lot of people in kabul who are frustrated witham ssador assad. is the government receiving enough information about what he is talking to the taliban about?
>> i wouldn't point tothe rson. the process is designed such where the government is not at the ceter of the table, and that's what we are working.ad amba khalilzad is continuing to brief thewa president, to see that and more of a contribution and discussion onthe substance of the process. the united states shall, and i think it has the moral ahority and the political ability to press the taliban to preserve the centrality of our constitution or the space that' being created. >> and do you believe the u.s. is pressing the talan to preserve the constitution of the taliban? >> the united states, it hasre ins and it has values, but it will leave it to afghan people to define what they want, and we as afghan people, we want to keep the rules of the game in polical power preserved, and that is through the constitution and through preservation and
strengthening to have the democratic process we have. if we don't preserve that, civil war will return back. now, we say we will advocate, we will fight for those values, including women's participation and equal right in the public administration and society. >> reporter: president trump explains he wants to withdraw from aftionz. ambassador khalilzad said he needs major progress by the summer. are you worried the u.s. wil not stand with you when it comes to defending the constitution i order to ma 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 ghanistan we want this war to end. we want the guns to be silent. but silencing the guns shall not be in way th is temporary
silence. we want it to be carefully done in a design of an agreement that will result in a pro moment both for the united states and for afghans tat, when the united states looks back to see 17 years of blood an 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. peoplei haveven to us. >> reporter: you use the word "anxiety" when it comes to ambassador khalilzad's talks. has tht anxiety increased since the talks began in. o>> there's no anxiety aut the notion to have the talk itself and khalilzad's discussion and engagement. we want to see this war in the true peace discussion. but the anxiety is on the pace of it and the spd of it that distracts all of us from
focusing on the sunce and content of the peace agreement becausa speeded process and rushed process will change the rules of the game, will reset everythi, and, therefore, will be an invitation for civil war. that's where people are woried. >> reporter: is the afghan government concerned that the u.s. will ask president ghani to essentially step down so that the u.s. can crate an interim government to allow the taliban in as a part the peace deal? >> ordinary afghans across the country want to see their country political system through a model of election continue, and people need to preservand respect that wish, and that's why e afghan goernment is insisting on keeping the election and focus on election continued. >> repter: seen your advisor to president ashraf ghani, thank you very much. >> t having me.y much for
>> woodruff: if you have rifollowed any number of s about asbestos and its role with cancer, deaths and health s, youms over the ye might think it's been banned from use in the u.s. well, that's not the case. it is true that asbestos is not used in building materials the way it once was. but, it still is found in some usehold 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 for our weekly segment on the "leading edge" of science, techlogy and health. >> reporter:or 15 years, linda reinstein has pounded the marble halls of pow in washington, a foot soldier in a long environmental battle that you might think was over.
>> we deserve to have ountair free of inants, air, soil and water. and without an asbestos ban on all prodts, we remain in peril. >> reporter: asbestos; naturally-occurring mineral fibers that are durable, fire resistant and highly carcinogenic. breathing them can triggerea lethal ds. there is no debate about that. but more than 50 years after a landmark study confirmed this,st asbestos is a child for a broken regulatory process. it is still used by u.s. iodustry, present in 30 mi 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 asbestos. officially, asbestos kills nearly 3,000 americans every year, but these deaths are under-reported. environmental and health advocates believe the actual
toll is much higher. >> i urge you to expitiously 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 reinstein was expos to asbestos at a shipyard and while doing home renovations. his widow is pushing newly- introduced legislation to enact an outright ban on asbestos. do you feel like you made ciogress? >> progress is gly 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.
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 mesothelioma. >> 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 thatt is kind of fting. >> reporter: this is just one of more than 50 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy he endured. a former engineer for the space, computer and utility industries, he believes he was exposed to asbestos at a power plant. >> this is a carcinogen. it's deadly. it's insidious, because a disease doesn't showp for 15 to 50 years after exposure. and it's like there's a bld eye being turned to that, where that doesn't happen with manyen other carcin >> reporter: why do you think that is?
>> i think there's decades of industry lobbying bet. >> reporter: but scientists see a lot of need for urgency. every time they look at asbestos under an electron microscope, they are reminded of the risks. brenda buck is a medical 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 strong. it's durable. it's fire-proof. >> reporter: those properties made them an appealing choice in hundreds of household products. at one time, asbestos was marketed as a modern marvel. >> ooh, it is attractive.>> es, and it'll stay that way too. w thatt i like about it. >> reporter: but people who worked around it, in shianards factoriemines, started getting sick. most infamously in libby, montana, where asbestos dust from a mine has killedf the population.
>> they have thees great properhat we can use in materials-- those very same properties is why they're so hazardous in the human body.th don't break down. when you breath them in, they're pretty much going to stick withf you for yourime. >> reporter: the human immune system response; attack the stubborn fiber. but eventually this backres, creating damage, disease and eventually death from cancer a a host of other afflictions. >> and so, the government started to regulate occupational exposures. they started at pretty high levels, and as more and more gaience was conducted, we to realize that we needed lower and lower exposures to prevent disease. >> repter: in the 1980s, schools across the country scrambled to remove asbestos insulation from pipes and boilers. then, in 1989, the.p.a. issued a ban on the manufacturing, importation, processing and sa of products containing asbestos. but, the chemical industry successfully sued to overturn it in 1991.
so in 2016, congress and the obama administration enacted an updated toxic substances control act. the idea: give the e.p.a. more teeth to regulate asbestos and other hazardous chemicals that remain in the environment. but the march toward a ban came to a grinding halt with the election of donald trump. in 2005, speaking as a real estate developer, he told a sena committee this: >> a lot of people in my industry believe asbestos is the greatest feproofing material ever made. >> reporter: tru's appointee in charge of chemical safety at the e.p.a. is nancy be, who came straight from a high level post at the largest chemical lobbying firm in the c: the american chemistry council. in a statement, the a.c.c. denies beck has a conflict of interest, and says that claims that she does, "unfairly disregard her career experiences and decades of work as an
objective and highly respected scientt." but under her leadership, the e.p.a. is refusing to even study, much less regulate, the legacy asbestos that is all around us. the e.p.a. says, it "is committed to protecting th public from asbestos exposures." and it says, "the statute gives discretion to the administrator, to focus on the uses that are of greatest concern." >> it's a david and liath battle. we are the small person trying to move big mountains. there's huge money that flows. >> reporter: and so does the asbestos. the united states has imported more than 6,000 tons of asbestos since 2011, almost all of it used by ine chlor alkali stry to make chlorine. l,it mostly comes from braut in 2017, that country banned the mineral, as have more than 60 other nations. as brazil winds down production, asbestos imports will
increasingly ce from russia, where some shipments are stamped with a seal of the psident's face, along with the words "approved by donald trump,en5th presof the united states." meanwhile in southern nevada, brenda buck and her colleague, medical geologist rodney metcalf, have found even more troubling cause for co about asbest. >> it's everywhere. look at this, everywhere. >> reporter: they have mappedmo than a million acres of naturally-occurring asbestos here. the discovery me after they uncovered evidence of unusually high rates of mesothelioma among women and children-- a telltale sign of asbestos exposure that n environmental, rather t occupational. >> even if the e.p.a. banned all use of asbestos in the nation, we still our soils, and therefore, in our air. and people are still being sed to it, just through these natural mechanisms. >> rep safety and health administration
has set limits on asbestos use in theorkplace. but scientists say, there is no evidence there is any safe level of exposure to asbestos, which is why linda reinstein keeps pushing for a total ban. >> alan's chair will remain empty forever, and my heart will be broken, but i will fight on. >> i'm optimistic about a change in attitude in washington. i think it can happen. i don't think we're doneet. but i think ultimately we will win. >> reporter: you're an unlikel 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, not unlike the regulatory
woodruff: the human-animal connection has long been known for its healing qualities. we love our dogs. we love our cats. and you might have heard of equine therapy, working with horses to help treat mental health conditions. but as cristina quinn from pbs station wgbh in bostonins, there's another animal in town
that is gaining favor in the therapy world. >> repter: it's only his 4th visit to the farm, but eight- year-old memphis rose looks like an old pro feeding donkeyspu kin and jack with his licensed counselor, megan moran. >> they like hay. >> we know they like hay, we know they like food. so maybe we can motivate them. what do you think? >> yeah. >> okay. >> reporter: memphis started coming to cultivate care farms in bolton as part of a treatment plan for his autism. he says when he's here, he feels calm and happy. what is it that makes you happy being out here? >> the animals are covered in fur, and when you pet them, they feel soft. >> reporter: they're soft. they're cute and it turns out, donkeys, in particular, can help people with autism lrn how to read social cues. >> so now you can pet them cause they're close. >> reporter: while animals have long been used to help treat mental health issues, there is no hard science to back up why it works.
still, there is no doubt that animals in some cases can help kids with their anxiety. >> their needs are pretty basicc and te. and so you can get a lf ciuse and effect, which is really helpful, esly when clients are then needing to figure out how to navigate the real world. rl reporter: and the real can be tough for a kid with autism. memphis' mom paula says, before comingltivate farms, he struggled with the long school day. >> he would come home from school very anxious and angryju an, you know, go to his room and scream. because what's happening in school is, all those feelings and those anxieties are being, likerepressed, because he's trying to look like the otherds kitrying to fit in. so when he comes home, all that explodes. >> reporter: but since he started hanging out with megan, pumpkin, and jack a few week m ago, the daitdowns have tapered off to maybe one or two a week. >> i think it's easieror him to come and talk to megan because he sees her almost like a friend, and this is like a very laid-back place, more than
just going into an office and a talking octor. >> reporter: that's part of the idea behind the care farm approach: taking therapyut of the clinical setting. we can really try out situations where, "what would youo in this type of conflict," or "how can you socialize or spend time in another person's space?" like, what is appropriate. l>> reporter: c.e.o. andrin says what takes months in an office setting takes only weeks here. >> i think it's important that we consider donkeys more in treatment-- that we have put this huge emphasis on hosees, that there beautiful and majestic creatures. there's a lot of humans that don't identify as beautiful or majestic. but with a donkey, you catry just about ee. >> reporter: helping create an environment where children with special needs can feel more codortable with themselves their surroundings. for the pbs newshour, i'm cristina quinn in bolton, massachusetts. >> woodruff: andfo news update we go, the u.s. senate lis voted to cut off support for saudi arabia's con
fighting in yemen. if the house agrees, it would mark the first timcongress has invoked the 1973 "war powers act" to stop u.s. engagement in a foreign conflict. the whe house has warned, president trump will veto the measure. on the newshour online right now, amna nawaz shares more observations from her porting trip to the u.s.-mexico border. that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for 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. >> you can do the things you like to do with a wireless plan designed for you. with talk, text and data. consumer cellular. learn more at consumercellular.tv
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