tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS November 9, 2013 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
on this edition for saturday, november 9th -- >> the philippines gets overwhelmed by a record breaking typhoon. the latest from geneva as talks over iran's nuclear program continue. in our signature segment one state's bold plan to reduce the cost of prescription drugs be. >> hundred bucks i'm saving monthly through this program. next on "pbs newshour next on "pbs newshour weekend." "pbs newshour weekend" is made possible by --
from the tisch studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> good evening, thanks for joining us. the central philippines have been devastated by what's being described as one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall. red cross officials estimate 1,200 people have been killed. typhoon hayian ripped through the eastern islands of the philippines. meteorologist said the storm had winds of 200 miles per hour when
it came ashore. it crushed buildings, brought down power lines and left roads impassable. widespread flooding after a powerful storm surge. >> devastation is -- i don't have the words for it. it's really horrific. it's great human tragedy. there's no power. by the time the sunsets it's dark and, you know, you're just going to have to make your way to where you can find some shelter. >> filipino officials reported widespread looting in the aftermath of the storm. hayian is now heading towards vietnam where emergency preparations are being made and several hundred,000 people have been evacuated. for an eyewitness account we spoke earlier with a freelance journalist. the vast majority of the casualties occurred there. we asked him what to describe what we saw.
>> reporter: i grew up here in the philippines and i know what typhoons were like. this didn't feel like a typhoon. this was a tornado. but a tornado that lasted for three, four hours. the wind was swirling and there was debris flying from all directions. we went up to the second floor to try to escape the storm surge, obviously. but debris from the hotel's hallway was flying over our heads and so when he to go back down the ground floor but then water was rising really quick. so we went back up to the second floor and we were there for a good probably 20, 30 minutes before the ceiling started falling off and the roof started flying and it did feel like it was going crumble. it was honestly the scariest four hours of my life. we all thought that we were going to die there. because it was possible. the storm passed. and when we thought it was safe for us to venture out, we did,
it was complete devastation and destruction as far as the eye could see. the typhoon spared nothing in its path. the houses were destroyed, buildings were destroyed, there were bodies every where. there was a lot of panic. a lot of people had gone into the supermarkets and even the appliance stores and the malls and they were looting not just food, they were looting not just the water, but they were looting computers, television sets, anything that they could get. it was complete mayhem. it was just complete mayhem. there was no one to police the people because local police themselves were victims of the typhoon. and the military could not even get through to the city. there was loss of lives. we walked along the highway and there were dead bodies along the highway. we looked into the debris of the
houses that had collapsed and there were bodies justing out of doors. there were bodies that were stuck in the debris, and there were families that were looking for their loved ones. it was a very heartbreaking devastating scene there. >> in switzerland today high level negotiations ended cushing iran's nuclear program hit a snag after the french minister warned that united states and other major powers were being drawn into what he called a fool's game that could work to iran's advantage. the foreign minister said france had rejected an earlier draft agreement. secretary of state john kerry is in geneva for the talks along with the foreign ministers of iran, britain, france, germany, russia and champion. yesterday israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu sharply criticized the deal being discussed then calling it the
deal of the century in iran's future. of course whenever there's any discussion about iran's nuclear program how close are the iranians to developing a nuclear weapon. we are joined by david albright. he's a leading expert on iran's nuclear program. i think in the background of all these talks, all these delegates and diplomats have to wonder how close is iran and will these sanctions work >> iran has been greatly increasing its nuclear capability over the last two years, and you don't think iran has made a decision to build nuclear weapons. but if they did, and they use their current stockpiles of low enriched uranium, and the number of centrifuges they have installed at their two enrichment sites then they could break out in as little -- breck out and have enough weapon grade uranium for a bomb in as little
to one and one and a half months. it could take them longer if things went wrong. it would take them longer to build the bomb itself. estimates vary. it's a murky area to make estimates in. it vary from a couple of months to a year. do that he want crude device they can test underground or do they want a war head for a ballistic missile and the latter would take more than a year to accomplish. >> without getting into a physics lessons there's different gradations of uranium, how it's processed and whether it's for nuclear power or nuclear weapon >> that's right. but the problem is that the same 3.5% enriched uranium produced for a nuclear power reactor can be enriched up to 90%, the enrichment level you use in a nuclear weapon.
3.5% in which enrichment is quite a ways, 70% of the way to 90% isn't linear and a lot of work goes into that. it's one of the dilemmas of this. there's no clear benchmark or action one can take that would provide a guarantee that it wouldn't later use the enriched uranium to further enrich it up to weapon grade. >> what about the delivery capabilities? that's primarily why the reason so many people in the neighborhood, so to speak is concerned. >> likelihood if iran breaks out, if it decided to do that, it would be seeking at least in my view probably just a crude nuclear explosive. that's what north korea did. that's what other countries did. south africa. they just try to get one that isn't that deliverable, certainly not deliverable by missiles. and that they would be looking
to just get across the threshold and establish that. it could be through leaking it has nuclear weapons, it could be conducting a full scale underground test. that's the priority. more than likely they wouldn't need a full year to have a nuclear explosive device they could test underground or claim they have -- that they are now a nuclear power. >> how much does that change their negotiating posture or the posture of the world negotiating with them >> if they move to get nuclear weapons, there's a very good chance that there would be a war. president obama has made it clear that he would prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon, israel's threshold for attack is much lower than iran moving to get a nuclear weapon. so i think if iran did that, it's going to either have to do it in a way it was not detected before they succeed. and particularly produce the weapon grade uranium for a bomb. i mean that's really their long pole the intent. once they have that they can
move it and it's almost impossible to find it and the options to stop iran at that point will become much more complicated. before they have the weapon grade uranium for a bomb, sites can be enriched for a bomb. if you do it in time you can stop iran from succeeding. iran may be trying to develop the capability where it could break out and produce enough weapon grade uranium for a bomb before they are detected and that's one of the clocks ticking in this negotiation. our assessment they can reach that point as soon as mid-2014. >> david albright for institute of science and international security. thanks so much. >> thank you. elsewhere overseas germany marked the 75th anniversary of the night of broken glass when nazis and sympathizers killed jews and deported more to concentration camps. german chancellor angela merkel said today the event marked what
she called a real low point in german history and urged her countrymen never to forget the past. according to a new poll more than three quarters of jews living in germany today believe anti-semitism is on the rise. in the number of people being treated for lung cancer in beijing. city health officials didn't say what caused the increase but world health organization believe the increase is closely linked to the city's well documented struggles with air pollution. here in the u.s. two admirals have been placed on leave and their access to classified suspended for their alleged role in a bribery scandal. the two are being investigated for their links to a singapore based defense contractor who provide cash and prostitutes to u.s. navy personnel. two navy commanders were arrested earlier in connection with the case. the navy says other naval officers are likely to imply
indicated. new jersey has become third state in the nation to allow poker gambling online. it granted lessons yesterday to several international gaming companies. bills to legalize online gambling is pending in massachusetts, pennsylvania and california. thousands are gathering at the national museum of the u.s. air force in dayton, ohio to honor members of the doolittle raiders. the group of pilots who bombed japan in response to the japanese attack on pearl harbor. their attack is credited with turning the tide in the pacific. there's the three surviving members of the group. they will be toasting comrades with cognac from 1896 the year doolittle was born. now to our signature segment. in depth reports from around the nation and the world. tonight we return to a topic we focused on last weekend the high
cost of prescription drugs. something many americans have been complaining about for years. one state has recently passed legislation designed to bring down drug costs. residents of maine can order drugs from maine and from overseas. this has prompted a lawsuit. >> reporter: the battle between the state of maine and the pharmaceutical industry started in portland when the city found a way to cut its health care costs. by the time the battle ends the whole country might feel the effects. if maine wins it could get a lot easier for americans time port cheaper prescription drugs. if the pharmaceutical companies wins importing drugs could be harder than ever. one side in the battle is made up of employers and employees. they say they are fighting for the right to spend less on health care. how much money does this save the company every year >> about $400,000.
that's our savings per year. >> reporter: the other side includes maine's farm sichts and retailers and the pharmaceutical industry. they say they are fighting to protect the safety of consumers who might be tempted to try imported prescription drugs. >> the problem is that these medicines aren't safe. >> reporter: the battle started in 2004 when portland offered it's 1400 employees the option avenue prescription drug plan. instead of going throw cal pharmacies to get their prescriptions filled and paying a share of the cost they could get the drugs by mail from licensed pharmacies in australia, new zealand, canada and the uk without paying a penny. city employee jeff signed his 7-year-old son up to get asthma meds. >> i'm saving money. it's hundred bucks that i'm saving monthly through this program. >> reporter: karen gets drugs that control pain and adhd.
every three months a fresh supply lands on her door step. >> it shows up in a box like that. >> reporter: the program is managed by a canadian company. it tracks the prices of prescription drugs in four countries. whichever country has the lowest price on a drug supplies it from licensed brick-and-mortar pharmacies. take the example of a three month supply of the asthma drug advair. under the stipulate's regular health plan it costs just under $600. the canadian plan imports it for over $100, shipping include. with discounts like that the city of portland saves $200,000 a year on health care and there's no co-pay for employees. two years after the city launched its program the largest employer in one of maine's poorest counties followed suit. hardwood products makes food sticks, the wooden handles that go into popsicles, corn dogs and
so on. chief financial officer says the family owned company can do a lot the $400,000 a year it saves on the plan. >> that money can be used for employee raises. that money can be used to offset the cost of their health care. it can be used to invest in equipment so we can produce new products. >> reporter: the state of maine's hearth plan decided to offer the canadian option. overnight the number of people eligible for the plan went from 3,200 to more than 33,000. that's when maine's pharmacists decided they had to do something stop it. >> when we found out that the maine state employees union was going contracting with this organization we realized it was against both state and federal law. >> reporter: maine pharmacists and other opponents of mail order drugs say the imports violate the federal food drug and cosmetic act. and that they ran afoul of state law because maine's pharmacy board hadn't licensed the
foreign pharmacies to practice in the state. arnold admits maine residents have been crossing the border into canada for years to get cheaper drugs from retail pharmacies like the seniors did in the early 2000s. but she says mail order pharmacies in canada may operate with no oversight and low standards. >> who is going police that? those companies can participate in what we call parallel importation. they can get their drugs from other countries. because it's coming into the u.s. from canada doesn't mean it started in canada. >> reporter: the medicines might be old, ineffective or counterfeit. in september of last year maine's then attorney general agreed the pharmacists that importing drugs violated state law. so the program was suspended in maine. >> we were very angry would be the best way of putting it. >> reporter: scott says the ruling inflict ad lot of pain on the lose of hardwood products.
>> they had to make decisions okay do i turn the heat do in winter. i talked to an employee yesterday that told me they are glad the program is back because now they are taking their medication because they stopped take one while the program was suspended. >> reporter: he decided it was time to push back. so he reached out to a local firewood dealer. >> you don't get to take advantage of people. i have this drug, this pill and it will save your life. what will we give you for it? is that the way we do business in the united states? and, of course, you're going to pay whatever you have to the save your life and that's notoriety. it's real close to holding a gun to people's head. >> reporter: doug thomas doesn't sell just firewood he's a republican state senator. he calls himself a conservative. says he hates unions and believes in free enterprise and competition and thinks the pharmaceutical industry needs more regulation.
>> the drug companies have done a very good job at telling people that they need all this money for research and development and if we don't give them everything they want then we're not going to have these new drugs. and i just absolutely don't believe it. the canadian system works. the australian system works. the drug delivery system in new zealand works and it can work better here. >> reporter: he introduced a bill that legalized pharmaceutical imports so did one of his democratic colleagues. they rolled their bills into one and joined force and both sides of the issue sent their lobbyists to work. >> there were four of us that were lobbying on behalf of the bill. there were at least 12 lobbyists from representing pharmacies. >> reporter: the pharmacists and drug companies argued the bill would endang terrify people of maine. but in june the bill passed both houses with bipartisan majorities. maine became the first state in
the nation to legalize mail order drug imports. in. september a month before imports could resume the pharmaceutical industry and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to strike down the law. >> there's several things wrong with the maine law not least of which is the fact that it violates the federal food and drug administration, laws prohibiting the importation of prescription medication outside of the fda's regulatory construct. >> reporter: he says federal law gives the food and drug administration the authority to regulate drug imports and that authority is illegally undercut by the maine law. >> effectively it permits patients to go on the internet which is unregulated and bring prescription drugs into the united states outside of teen fda's large federal purview. it's very concerning. >> reporter: like maine pharmacists amelia who is one of the lead plaintiffs, murphy says stopping mail order imports is
all about safety. they say most drugs have cheaper generic equivalent so there's no need to take a chance on foreign pharmaceuticals. he said in 2003 the fda warned the canadian company that it was putting the health of the american at risk with insulin, a drug that had to refrigeratored. >> people in maine say these are the same drugs available in the u.s. these are drugs they are getting made by members of your organization. >> they are able to test those drugs when they come home and verify that they are or that they just have a label on them that want indicates that they are the same drugs? i mean that's tinting question, right? no one who is personally importing a drug into the united states and bring to it their home has any idea what's in that drug. we've seen even in the past that drugs that came in through
canada certain cancer drugs sold to physicians and physicians couldn't verify the authenticity. >> reporter: the response we get from pharma and pharmacist's association you don't know for sure how reliable these farm service and it's too late if somebody gets sick. does that concern you >> with our experience, the pharmacies that we're having fill these prescriptions are licensed retail pharmacies. if you're getting, for example crestor, you get lot number, date koerkd everything is on the package. you can trace the pedigree like you can in the u.s. >> reporter: he says he knows what he's talking about because he's also cfo of hardwood company's sibling company. it makes medical supplies. >> we love lots, date codes, expiration. we make fda registered devices here.
we have fda audits. we understand how that process works. >> reporter: he says he hopes the state of maine prevails in court so more of his neighbors can take advantage of the lower prices on foreign drugs. if maine does win other states are likely to follow its lead by allowing mail order imports. the date of opening arguments with the case moves to the courtroom hasn't been set. see how won woman negotiated her way to lower prescription drug prices. visit "newshour".pbs.org. >> the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of john f. kennedy. what happened in the cbs newsroom that day is a subject of jfk 1:00 p.m. central standard time from the pbs series "secrets of the dead." it remepremieres this wednesday. >> radio has announced he's dead. >> who said? >> they must be going with the
report out of dallas. >> it wasn't enough for walter cronkite. >> the temptation had to be great to say flat out president kennedy had died. but they didn't do that because it was such a momentus thing to declare to the anythings. >> walter was very deliberate because he had time though i and it was in his own instinct to not say he was dead until they were sure. on the other hand you want to be first. >> blood has been rushed into the room for transfusion. two protests were called into the room. >> most reporters did think he was dead but nobody officially said it. >> there's report in dallas you heard from our affiliate there eddie barker that the president is dead but that's not been confirmed by any other source. >> walter chronronkite because his anchor on a national network knew that he didn't want to
report what somebody was thinking or what somebody had been told by a second source. he wanted to wait until there was official confirmation from the white house. >> nowadays you hear it, you stick it on the air. you hear it you put it on the web. whether it's true or not. nobody seems to care. in those days everything was edited. nothing went on the air without going through another mind without saying wait a minute what do we really know here? >> join us tomorrow and online. how one european nation provides pension for almost all of its citizens. >> you force people to save for their old age. >> that's it for this edition of "pbs newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching.