Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 6, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EST

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: the battle over ebola takes a new turn, as drug companies begin experimenting on humans in the affected region. we talk about what comes next with two officials just back from west africa: the united nations' anthony banbury and delaware senator chris coons. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this tuesday: mexico's president visits the white house amidst allegations of corruption and police abuses. >> ifill: plus: how peru is using the latest drone technology to protect the country's archaeological heritage from encroaching development. >> these are only tools, means to an end.
6:01 pm
the end is to preserve our cultural patrimony and whatever we can deploy to achieve that. >> woodruff: and, why fewer adults are getting their high g.e.d after changes are made to the test. >> ifill: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> at bae systems, our pride and
6:02 pm
dedication show in everything we do; from electronics systems to intelligence analysis and cyber- operations; from combat vehicles and weapons to the maintenance and modernization of ships, aircraft, and critical infrastructure. knowing our work makes a difference inspires us everyday. that's bae systems. that's inspired work. lincoln financial is committed to helping you take charge of your future. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
6:03 pm
thank you. >> woodruff: for the first time in eight years, republicans took charge today in both the house and the senate. last november's sweeping victories powered the party to full control as the 114th congress convened. snow blanketed the capitol this day, but republican spirits burned bright just the same. >> the senate will come to order. >> woodruff: vice president biden gaveled in a new senate, with 54 republicans to 44 democrats and two independents and, a new majority leader. for mitch mcconnell of kentucky, the ascension to the top spot came after 30 years in the senate. >> we recognize the enormity of the task before us. we know a lot of hard work awaits.
6:04 pm
we know many important opportunities await as well. i'm really optimistic. >> woodruff: the new minority leader, harry reid, was forced to work from home after an exercising accident last week. in his place, illinois senator dick durbin spoke for democrats. >> we can't solve america's challenges with the same old thinking. we have to address the problems with mutual respect and with a positive attitude. >> woodruff: despite the warm words, confrontation loomed over the long-stalled keystone xl pipeline. republicans pushed a new bill to begin construction, and the white house issued a new warning. >> the president would have vetoed if it passed the previous congress. and i can confirm for you that if this bill passes this congress, the president wouldn't sign it either. >> woodruff: meanwhile, on the house side. republican speaker john boehner won a third term in that post, but only after surviving a tea
6:05 pm
party attempt to unseat him. 25 republicans voted against boehner, a record for a sitting speaker. afterward, he grew emotional as he addressed the house. >> every day you and i come here, try to plant good seeds, cultivate the ground and take care of the pests. and now with patience and some sacrifice and god's grace, there will be a harvest. >> woodruff: boehner will command 246 republicans to 188 democrats-- the biggest g.o.p majority in nearly 70 years. one seat is currently vacant. the new congressional leadership will meet with president obama, at the white house, early next week. >> ifill: former virginia governor bob mcdonnell was sentenced today to two years in federal prison. he is scheduled to report to prison next month, after a federal judge in richmond sentenced him for taking bribes in office. he could have gotten ten years.
6:06 pm
mcdonnell was once a republican rising star. he insisted again today that he never violated his oath of office, but offered this apology. >> i've made mistakes in my life. i always tried to put the best interests of the people first as governor. but uh, i have failed at times in some of the judgments that i have made during the course of my governorship. that have hurt myself, my family, and my beloved people of virginia and for that i am deeply, deeply sorry. >> ifill: mcdonnell and his wife maureen were convicted of accepting cash and gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement. she will be sentenced separately. he said he plans to appeal the verdict. >> woodruff: gay marriage was officially legal in florida, as of today, and scores of couples took advantage. mass weddings were planned in some places after florida's ban on same-sex unions ended at midnight. in all, 36 states now permit gay
6:07 pm
marriages, covering 70% of the national population. >> ifill: this was a day of final farewell for the late mario cuomo. hundreds of family, friends and dignitaries turned out in new york, for the funeral of the former three-term governor. state police stood at attention as the coffin was carried into st. ignatius loyola church in manhattan. cuomo's son andrew-- the state's current governor-- eulogized his father's liberal ideals and oratorical power. >> at his core, at his best, he was a philosopher, and he was a poet, and he was an advocate and he was a crusader. mario cuomo was the key note speaker for our better angels. >> ifill: mario cuomo was 82 when he passed away last thursday, just hours after his son was inaugurated for a second term in office. >> woodruff: cross-border fighting between india and pakistan flared again today,
6:08 pm
with word that at least 10,000 villagers have been forced from their homes. they've fled from the indian- controlled part of kashmir, a disputed region where two wars have been fought since 1947. indian officials have set up about 20 relief camps for escaping families. many say they had no time to grab any belongings as mortar shells rained down. >> ifill: and in iraq, 23 government troops and sunni militia fighters were killed in clashes and suicide bombings by "islamic state" forces. it was the latest flare-up in anbar province, where the militants are largely in control. at the same time, prime minister haider al-abadi pledged in baghdad to take back all of the territory now in islamic state hands. >> woodruff: back in this country, the department of homeland security's internal watchdog concluded today that drones are too costly and inefficient to patrol the mexican border. the inspector general's report found the unmanned aircraft
6:09 pm
don't fly as much as the government says they do, and they don't help catch many people crossing the border illegally. >> ifill: and wall street skidded again for the fifth session in a row. the dow jones industrial average dropped 130 points to close at 17,371. the nasdaq fell nearly 60 points to close at 4,592 and the s&p 500 slipped 18 to 2,002. the market was weighed down-- again-- by oil. it finished below $48 a barrel in new york trading. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: the ongoing battle against ebola in west africa >> a critical u.s. ally caught in a snarl of challenges. the latest tool in the fight to protect archaeological fights, the fight over powerful painkillers and their unintended consequences. why fewer adults are getting their general equivalency diploma,s and the vice president plays his part as president of
6:10 pm
the senate in his element. >> ifill: with the death toll in west africa now over 8,000, government and humanitarian organizations are reassessing the most effective way to tackle the deadly ebola virus. from launching new drug trials to building new clinics, the united nations, the united states and non governmental agencies around the world are ramping up, scaling back and searching for new approaches to curb the epidemic in liberia, sierra leone and guinea. delaware democrat chris coons, the outgoing chairman of the senate foreign relations subcommittee on africa affairs has just returned from monrovia. and anthony banbury has just completed a 90-day term as head of the united nations mission for ebola emergency response. welcome to you both, gentlemen. senator coons, you just came back here, the first and only member of congress to actually have gone to the ebola zone, as
6:11 pm
it were. what did you see? >> well, i was really impressed by the impact that america's troops have had in the country of liberia. let's just go back for a second to september when president obama took the decisive the brave action of deploying the entire 101st airborne division, 2400 u.s. troops, to monrovia, liberia. at that point, the ebola rep demic in liberia was raging out of control, and there were predictioned by the c.d.c., that by now in january, there would be at least half a million people infected by ebola if if continued at the rate it was on at that point. what i saw when i visited was our troops all over the country have made a dramatic difference. they have built high-quality labs and testing facilities. they've provided the logistics and support to reinforce and reassure volunteer doctors and nurses and missionaries from around the world, and the rate of new infections in liberia has dropped dramatically. there's also been real changes
6:12 pm
in social practices. every place i went, folkes were being checked for their temperature, washing their hands in a bleach solution. nobody was shake hands and most importantly, both safe and dignified burial practices were being put in place around the country. so i'm optimistic about the impact that we've been able to make in liberia and eager to talk tonight about how we might apply those lessons learned to sierra leon and guinea where it still is largely out of control. >> ifill: well, let me ask anthony banbury after 90 days as the head of the u.n. effort, where does the global response stand? >> the global response is actually in very good shape. i think, just as senator coons described the progress that's being made in liberia, we're starting to see similar progress in sierra leon. we're a few weeks behind where we were in liberia, but the response capabilities are being put in place in sierra leon particularly the main hot spots around freetown an and area called port loco.
6:13 pm
we're also seeing the response grow in guinea. so i think we're going to see the numbers go down, the total numbers go down in all three countries in the weeks ahead. but what's going to happen, what's already happening, is the disease is spreading geographically. it's becoming more dispersed and that means we need a lot of capabilities spread across the three countries and that's going to be a big challenge going forward. >> ifill: senator coons, does the u.s. military effort you described have to remain open ended for now? >> well, i've called on the pentagon to change strategy to reduce the total number of our troops that are there but to extend the amount of time they will be there and to make sure we are transitioning. the big swement that we've made in new ebola treatment units and the mobile labs and the infrastructure to support the sort of grass-roots outreach across the whole country that tony is talking about, to do that in a way that would empower and strengthen liberiaian efforts that will make sure that this epidemic gets to zero. we shouldn't leave liberia in a
6:14 pm
significant way until we've gotten to zero abuse because i'm very concerned this ebola epidemic could just come roaring back if the international community that has made such a difference in this region withdraws too early. >> ifill: let me ask mr. ba about that. you two have said not getting to zero would constitute failure in this case. what happens if the u.n. does pull back? what happens if the u.s. does pull bark as senator coons is suggesting, to that effort? >> the u.n. secretary-general was just in the region a couple of weeks ago and made very clear to the presidents of the country, the people, and the u.n. family that we will be there side by side with the governments and peoples of the countries until there are zero cases. that's the only option. it's the only way to go. it's going to be hard getting there. i think everything senator coons just said is absolutely right about working with the communities, building and strengthening the national health care system so they can have good disease surveillance
6:15 pm
in place, so we can have early detection of small outbreaks and a quick response to snuff them out so two cases become zero rather than 20 or 200. we all recognize now that we have to do as the disease evolves and we move from the first phase to the current phase. the challenge will be execution, but we can't let up by any means until we're at zero. >> ifill: part of the execution-- and i want to direct this to both of you today-- we've heard pharmaceutical companies talking about clinical drug trials. starting with you, anthony banbury, how practical how hopeful is that? well we're all hoping that we're going to have a vaccine, improved treatments so fewer people die who do contract it but in terms of the current operation and what we're doing day to day, we can't rely on the arrival of a vaccine or improved treatment. we have to deal with the realities that are on the ground now, the tools that we have at our disposal. and they're what senator coons said-- they're the treatment centers that do isolation they're the safe burial practices, social mobilization.
6:16 pm
we have to break the transmission. and that's working. where we've put those response capabilities in place we see dramatic drops in the numbers. the challenge will be to have that capability across these three countries that have really poor roads. they're very isolated villages. sometimes they take two days, three days to drive to. so we have a challenge on our hand but we know what we need to do. >> ifill: well as you talk about the improvement on the ground, senator coons, how much of that is sustainable? it's nice to talk about hope but is hope sustainable in is this case? >> well, one of the things i heard all across liberia was when the message went out from president obama that he made the decision september 16 to deploy u.s. troops tlifted the spirits of all liberiaians who were feeling abandoned by the world community at the time, who were concerned that lots of airlines and shipping lines and expatriate groups and nonprofit groups had withdrawn from the country. our intervention there i think significantly lifted the spirits
6:17 pm
of people of liberia and brought them hope. but to your point i'm calling on the pentagon to change to a strategy that's more sustainable and that requires investing in skills, in making sure that the liberiaians have the skills, the equipment, the resources to sustain the sort of grass-roots testing lab, treatment capability, clinics, the social mobilization and contact tracing that you've just heard discussed by dr. banbury. we know how to get to zero in ebola but it is going to take a different sort of strategy. we brought some hope with a big footprint, expensive emergency intervention by the united states military. we need to now sustain that hope in a more practical and cost-effective way by using the great human resources of the liberiaian nation and getting in sierra leon and the remarkable resources of the missionaries and volunteers who are there to ensure that we make a lasting difference, not just for this epidemic and this outbreak, but to strengthen the health infrastructure and social
6:18 pm
infrastructure of these three west african countries. >> ifill: chris coons and anthony banbury, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: mexico's president visited washington today meeting with president obama at the white house. though he campaigned and had an early record as a reformer, corruption scandals and public outcry have sparked a political crisis for the mexican leader. one recent newspaper poll showed that he has the lowest approval for a head of state there in nearly 20 years. >> first meeting of the year is with one of our closest allies, neighbors and friends. >> woodruff: and, that's no accident, of course. mexican president enrique pena nieto arrived at a moment when mr. obama most needs his help on two major initiatives: first, his november order to defer deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.
6:19 pm
>> i described to president pena nieto our efforts to fix our broken immigration system here in the united states and to strengthen our borders as well. continued need to work with centrail american governments to that we are going to provide a mechanism so that families are not separated who have been here for a long time. but we're also going to be much more aggressive at the border in ensuring that people come through the system legally. >> woodruff: and second: the move toward normalizing relations with cuba. american isolation of the castro regime has long been an irritant in broader u.s.-latin american relations. >> ( translated ): i have also made an acknowledgement in terms of the very audacious decision that you've made to reestablish diplomatic relations with cuba, and mexico will be a tireless supporter of the good relationship between two neighbors. >> woodruff: the mexican leader may also hope today's visit to snowy washington grants him
6:20 pm
respite from an avalanche of crises at home. he took office in december 2012 after a landslide election victory. but just two years later, he is reeling. last june, 22 gang members were killed by mexican soldiers outside mexico city. mounting evidence now suggests it was a massacre. then, in september, the kidnapping and presumed murders of 43 college students in guerrero state. allegedly by a drug cartel working with a corrupt mayor and police. >> ( translated ): i want something done, concrete actions and not just words. >> woodruff: massive protests over the crime-- and the government's apparently casual response-- have filled streets throughout mexico. and now, it's alleged that private contractors bankrolled lavish homes for the president and his wife, as well as finance minister luis videgaray, who met
6:21 pm
with vice president biden this morning. but pena nieto has also pushed reforms, taking on the powerful teachers union. and seeking to change mexico's outmoded state-run oil company "pemex" and implement reforms in the country's telecommunications sector. the president can also point to notable arrests last year in mexico's long-running drug war, including perhaps the most- wanted man on earth joaquin "el chapo" guzman-- head of the sinaloa cartel. for more on the mexican president's leadership and challenges, i'm joined by carlos bravo regidor, a political analyst at the center for research and teaching in economics, a mexican thinktank. professor bravo regidor, thank you for talking with with us. i gather the agenda on the
6:22 pm
mexican side and u.s. sides were alike in some ways but different in some ways. what do you know about that? >> in terms of the agenda i think one of the most interesting aspects of this meeting is the fact that on the one hand president obama was facing a significant pressures to put human right and security on the table particularly the disappearance and probable killing of 43 students from the school in the state of guerrero. and president pena nieto, he was interested in talking about other things, about the border, about tightening commercial relationships, even about cuba but really not have interested in talking about human rights and security. so i think we're going to see some very interesting phrasing of the subject, you know, as a result of the meeting. >> woodruff: do you think president pena nieto gets something from this meeting that he can take home? >> well, to be honest, i think that in terms of his domestic agenda, the most important thing that he will bring home is the
6:23 pm
photo-op, so to speak. president pena nieto is facing a really hard time in mexico due to-- well, an alleged extra judicial execution of 22 citizens in the state of mexico. and also, the conflict of interest regarding his dealings his wife's and his minister of finance regarding their dealings with a government contractor who built and financed their private homes. so in the context of that-- of that-- of those scandals and of is that crisis, i think it's good for president pena nieto, i think he expects him to-- he expects for his image with president obama to give him some sort of boost because his popularity right now is really low. >> woodruff: why is it-- has it been so hard for him, do you
6:24 pm
think, to have a successful presidency? why is he having these difficulties? and do you see a prospect that he has to make things better for himself? what are his-- what are expectations right now for him? >> well he's having a very hard time because he arrived to the presidency with very high expectations. there was an expectation that he was going to be an effective leader, a leader who produced results, and in the first months, even the first year, year and a half of his presidential term president pena nieto really lived up to those expectations. he was able to push through congress a very ambitious agenda of reforms in education, telecommunications, a fiscal reform, an energy reform, which really put the expectations even higher. but for the last six months, the
6:25 pm
im-- implementation of some of this reform has stagnated or faced some difficulties in terms of the regulations, the federal system that mexico has and the distribution of competences between different levels of government. on the other hand, economic performance has been very mediocre. his structural problem of mexico for the last at least three decades. and on the other hand president pena nieto very deliberately tried to take violence and security off his presidential discourse and presidential agenda. and the problems have forced him to bring back the agenda of violence and insecurity and human rights violations. so all of this, you know, issues have combined to produce a sort of perfect storm for president pena nieto. >> woodruff: professor carlos bravo regidor, we thank you. >> thank you for having me.
6:26 pm
>> ifill: drones: we hear more and more about them, in uses that run from the dangerous to the fanciful. in the last of his reports from a recent trip to peru, jeffrey brown looks at a new, unlikely use of drone technology. it's part of his ongoing series, "culture at risk". >> brown: archaeology: the study of human history-- the past. but that doesn't mean it can't use the latest technology to achieve stunning images like these. it's happening here in peru where deputy culture minister luis jaime castillo is overseeing pioneering work, using drones to protect ancient heritage. >> these are only tools, means to an end. the end is to preserve our cultural patrimony and whatever we can deploy to achieve that. >> brown: yeah, but they're tools that require a certain
6:27 pm
i don't know, technological know-how, a certain geekiness, right? >> but if you're going to be an archaeologist, and you're not a little bit geeky, then you are in the wrong field. >> brown: machu picchu is peru's best-known wonder. but the country is home to thousands of sites, large and small, 100,000 by one count-- a rich terrain of history and culture long before and well after the arrival the spanish. their protection is a major project and problem-- especially as cities expand and populations explode. that's what's happening here at pachacamac, a huge complex that for more than 1,000 years served as a religious center, home to an oracle consulted by leaders of several pre-columbian indian groups, including the incas. sitting above the pacific ocean, pachacamac is some 20 miles outside lima-- or it used to be.
6:28 pm
>> this is ground zero for the defense of archaeological patrimony. >> brown: when luis jaime castillo was a boy, he says, this was considered way outside the city. but no more. >> now we have a wave of 10 million people that needs to grow, that needs services, that needs housing. and what used to be, 30 years ago, a shantytown that was pushing and pushing the site, now is settling into a very modern, very vibrant, economically very important sector of lima, but of course in need of more space. >> brown: that means bumping right up next to-- and in some cases onto-- ancient temples and palaces. archeological work at pachacamac still requires old-fashioned tools-- spades, brushes and dustpans, here to carefully dig up human remains. but on the day of our visit, the ministry was also using something slightly more sophisticated: a new drone called the s1000, an octocopter
6:29 pm
outfitted with a high- definition, swivel camera. after takeoff, an operator manned the drone while another monitored the camera capturing video and photos of a palace owned by the last ruler of pachacamac before the spanish came, and of the nearby town just over the wall. >> we're finding out that the best pilots are not archaeologists or engineers-- they're our drivers. if you can drive in lima you can fly a drone. >> brown: boys with toys-- there's certainly an element of that here. but there's also a very serious side to all this. back in a non-descript office at the culture ministry in downtown lima, the hundreds of photographs shot by the drone are uploaded into advanced imaging software. and just hours after being shot, look like this: a 3d model and map that show precise boundaries, like a blueprint, incredibly accurate. and these can be and are used in
6:30 pm
court, as legal documents to evict developers and squatters who build on protected lands. >> if you're going to map something that has property around it you better be precise to the tenth of the inch. because otherwise your neighbor is going to come and say, "this is my property." >> brown: "my property": as we showed in a previous report, the peruvian government dispatched a drone recently to document damage to its famous nazca lines, allegedly caused by activists from greenpeace during a climate change protest. still another use of drones is for conservation. at chan chan, once the largest adobe city in the world, the drones' mission was to document the state of restoration and decay. ahead of el nino storms that have wreaked havoc in the past and are anticipated to hit again this winter. >> we have to have the before and after. if there's any damage we need to go back. we need to have a record of what was there.
6:31 pm
>> brown: the hope now-- funds permitting-- is to build up this new fangled "air force" throughout the country, placing at least one large drone in each of peru's 24 regions to watch over the country's archaeological heritage from above. it's part toy, part high-tech research-- the very old meets the very new. i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour in the chan chan archaeological site in northern peru. >> ifill: the g.e.d-- or general education diploma-- has long been an important credential for those who never completed high school. but there's been an overhaul of the g.e.d test, tied in part to new standards known as the common core and that's sent the number of people taking and passing the exam tumbling last year.
6:32 pm
states like wisconsin and rhode island saw more than a 90% drop in florida, the number of test takers fell by nearly half. joining me now to look at how test takers fared in the first year of the new g.e.d are randy trask, president and c.e.o of the g.e.d testing service. and lecester johnson, c.e.o of academy of hope, an adult charter school in washington d.c. randy trask, is it that the g.e.d. test has gotten harder? >> well first off, thank you for having me. it absolutely is more difficult but really, i think your introduction states it all. it's a high school equivalency test, and our last test serieses was tested on high school graduate of 2001, and to the extent that high school graduates have learned a lot in the last 13 years and they absolutely have this test is undoubtedly harder. >> ifill: lecester johnson what effect does that actually have on people who want to take the test? >> it's much harder for people
6:33 pm
to pass it. and one of our biggest concerns with the exam is we pushed the bar up on the g.e.d. but we didn't shore up the system where adults are taking classes to study for that exam. >> ifill: what do you mean by that? >> for a long time, adult education has been a really under-resourced. it's primarily run by volunteers. most of the adult ed programs throughout the country have a strong volunteer core but we don't have the resources to provide the kinds of quality education that's needed particularly with the changes in this new exam. >> ifill: so randy trask tell me what's changed and why it's changed. i know what you're saying, the standards have changed, and the whole point is that he's g.e.d. holders be at least as equipped as high school diploma holders. but what are they doing? is it a different kind of approach? is it a different analytical approach to this? >> first off, i think our new test is a little bit less about what you and know more about how
6:34 pm
you apply what you know to demonstrate your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and that's a very different way of approaching testing. the term "close reading," for example, comes into play-- >> ifill: i'm sorry you said "close reading?" what's that? >> that's right. where instead of just looking at a passage and answering questions, you're required really to read it a couple of times and really be able to understand what you're reading and begin to demonstrate how you apply it. >> ifill: lecester johnson what's wrong with that? >> it's about why people take the g.e.d. most adults who are coming in coming in to take the g.e.d. is looking to get employment. the two relationship is an economic reason. people can't get even entry-level jobs without something that says they have a high school diploma. and we also know the adults entering the g.e.d. programs also come because they can't
6:35 pm
help their children with their homework. so the purpose for many comes in is to get a job, and generally it's an entry-level job. now, once they're with us, goal is to help them see there's something beyond a g.e.d., going on to college. and this new exam is really about preparing people for post-secondar, and that's not the majority of the learners that are there and it's now become a barrier to even getting an entry-level job because it's going to take a much longer time to do that. >> ifill: so randy trask this is not the first time the g.e.d. has changed. but what about the idea you're dealing with a different population, a population that wants a job rather than a college degree? >> well, i think what we're deeg dealing with is our research was showing our g.e.d. graduates were starting to fare more similar economically to people that had no high school credential than to high school graduates. and to except that we think we can feed families with some of
6:36 pm
the entry-level jobs miss johnson is talking about i think is a myth. our job is to equip the adults with the jobs capable of feeding families, and i think our new test is designed to do exactly that. >> ifill: that's an interesting point he makes, lecester johnson. >> right, and we're not saying an entry-level job for a lifetime. for some people they need to get that job to get money flowing into the household and coming in to get their g.e.d. is a way to do that and in the short term and long term, we do know that people need to go on beyond that. we also are ignoring the fact that the population of individuals who are in g.e.d. programs are not just, you know, the 18- to, you know, 45-year-old. we do have a fair number of people-- it's always been their goal to get a high school credential-- and they're not looking to go to college or to pick up a second career. it really is a personal aspiration, and maybe to get an entry-level job to bring in additional income but without a high school credential they can't do that. >> ifill: randy trask, this
6:37 pm
also costs more than the previous test. who does that effect? >> well there's no doubt that many of our student are struggling financially, but the way we look at it now, it's basically about $30 per test. we have four tests. and the average return to our student is about $9,000 per year once they've completed their test. it will be one of the best investments they've made but that's really a bake way of looking at it, because in many states the test is heavily subsidized. in some states it's answer. in some states it's $10. the price is complicated and varies dramatically. >> ifill: do you fiend the people you serve lecester johnson are impeded by the costs? >> oh absolutely. even before the price change, it was a major hardship for the adults that we're serving to pay to get-- to pay for the g.e.d. exam, even at $15. if you're on a subsidized income, it's tough to come up
6:38 pm
with that, and we've always subsidized the subsidy and helped adults to pay for those exam glstles well, this is something we'll be watching to see how it unfolds, especially as common core takes fuller effect. s can jaw of the academy of hope, randy trask with the g.e.d. company. thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, the power and political force of the n.r.a. it's often discussed and tonight's frontline looks at how the group has evolved historically. here's an excerpt about what happened after the sandy hook shootings in newtown connecticut when there was a move to pass new legislation requiring background checks at gun shows. it came from a senator well- known for his support of gun rights.
6:39 pm
>> narrator: joe manchin, an a-rated nra member and junior senator from west virginia, was shaken by the newtown shootings. >> it really got to me. these are babies, five- and six- year-old children. who would have ever... it's just beyond my imagination, most americans', to conceive that anything this horrific could happen in america. >> light bulbs went off at the capitol. harry reid and chuck schumer and their aides realize, "wait a second. we now have a democrat with an a rating from the nra saying he wants to do something." >> narrator: manchin's plan was to draft a simple bill that would require background checks at thousands of gun shows where a significant number of sales take place. he hoped that even the nra would be on board. >> manchin's argument to the nra is, "look, you'll never find a gun safety bit of legislation that is as gun-friendly as this. and all we're really doing is closing a loophole." >> i felt this would be something that they would embrace. it was truly a time that wayne
6:40 pm
lapierre and the nra, the leadership, could have rose to another level, complete other level. >> narrator: with polls showing wide public support for expanding background checks, manchin and the vice president figured they had a chance. >> i was optimistic. over 91% of the american people supported expanding background checks. 80% of the households that had an nra member supported it. >> narrator: at first there was hope lapierre might go along with the bill. the nra went to meetings with manchin. >> they made some suggestions on some wording and changes from that standpoint, so yes, they had input. and we valued that input. >> we're starting to see almost a glimmer of possibility in washington where the nra is at least talking to manchin. >> narrator: but many in the gun rights community were furious at the talk of compromise. >> the two small groups, the gun owners of america and the national association of gun
6:41 pm
rights, began to circulate letters saying, "we hear that the nra is compromising with manchin"-- they used that word, the dreaded "c" word-- that there's a compromise bill. >> narrator: larry pratt was the executive director of gun owners of america, representing 300,000 of the most fervent gun rights activists. >> the manchin bill was not aiming at loopholes, it was aiming at nailing down some remaining freedom that american people have. gun control simply kills people. and for senator manchin to wave the bloody shirts of those children from newtown is... despicable. >> narrator: pratt quickly issued an alert to his members, warning them about the nra's talks with manchin. >> we put out an alert saying "please, if you belong to the nra, call this guy at this number and ask him to urge the powers that be to oppose the bill."
6:42 pm
>> narrator: at nra headquarters, they got the message. >> the nra's main anxiety at that moment is not losing, is not seeing something enacted. it's not looking soft to their own membership and to the substantial number of americans who probably number in the millions, who think the nra is not tough enough. >> narrator: in the middle of april, the nra pulled out of the talks. >> suddenly the nra stopped cooperating with manchin, stopped returning their e-mails, stopped calling. >> narrator: lapierre launched a full-scale assault on the legislation. >> remember this tv ad? >> narrator: and even went after senator manchin. >> as your senator, i'll protect our second amendment rights. >> that was joe manchin's commitment but now manchin is working with president obama and new york mayor michael bloomberg. concerned? you should be. >> senator manchin was vilified by the nra. it was almost like a personal vendetta. so they chewed up one of their
6:43 pm
own. it was stupid, absolutely stupid. >> narrator: the nra activated its playbook, denouncing the legislation, alerting its members and threatening lawmakers. >> you can deal with any things you know up front you're dealing with. i knew they were not going to be supportive. i was fine with that. i didn't know that they would be in opposition as strong as they would and come out as strong as they did. you can see more tonight on frontline on pbs. economic your local listing for time. >> woodruff: each day, 46 people die in this country after overdosing on prescription painkillers. in 2012 alone, the c.d.c says 259 million prescriptions were
6:44 pm
written for painkillers-- enough to supply every american adult with a bottle of pills. now, many states are pushing back, including new york, tennessee, kentucky, florida and washington state. three of those states now require doctors to check a patient database before writing a prescription. this year, massachusetts, rhode island, georgia and texas are considering tighter laws. but some physicians and patient advocates say the crackdown is creating new problems. we get two views. dr. andrew kolodny is, the director of physicians for responsible opioid prescribing and chief medical officer for the phoenix house foundation, a national nonprofit addiction agency. bob twillman is the executive director of the american academy of pain management and a clinical psychologist at the university of kansas medical center. mr. twillman was caught in a traffic jam tonight. he couldn't make it to the studio, so he joins us by
6:45 pm
telephone, and we welcome both of you. dr. kolodny, i'm going to turn to you first. you believe that it is important to impose more regulations on the use of paine killers. why? >> well, the united states is in the midst of a severe epidemic of opiod addiction and overdose deaths according to the c.d.c. this is the worst drug epidemic in the united united states' history. and the c.d.c. has been very clear about what's causing causing this epidemic. the c.d.c. has said that as prescriptions very opiod painkillers began to skyrocket in the late 1990, that it's led to parallel increases in rates of addiction and overdose deaths. and what this is suggesting is that we may not be able to turn this epidemic around until doctors and dentists begin to prescribe more cautiously. >> woodruff: and just quickly what, do you mean by that "more cautiously?" >> well, the united states with
6:46 pm
about 5% of the world's population is assume 80% of the world's entire oxycodone supply, and 99% of the world's hydrocodone supply. opiods are essential medicine for end-of-life care or when used short-term for acute pain but this vast, overprescribing of opiods is mainly for conditions where use of opiods are probably not safe or effective like low back pain way normal spine, fibromyalgia chronic headache. >> woodruff: bob twillman let me turn to you and apologies that you are not able to join us on television but we can hear you. you told us some regulation of painkillers makes sense but you believe the regulations have gone too far. why do you believe that? >> well, i think what we've seen with regulations in this area has been an attempt to find very simple solutions to what is really two complex problems.
6:47 pm
those two problems being the problems with prescription drug abuse but also the problem of chronic pain. and, you know if prescription drug abuse san epidemic then i think chronic pain may be a pandemic because that affects over 100 million people in the united states. so i think what we have to do is to find the kinds of solutions that really address both of these problems and don't wind up giving us what's essentially a zero-sum game. >> woodruff: dr. kolodny what about his point? you heard him, there's a problem with chronic pain and something has to be done about that. >> chronic pain say serious problem and many americans do suffer with chronic pain, but, unfortunately, we are harming far more people with chronic pain than we're helping when we treat them with long-term opiod educations. when we talk about drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, these
6:48 pm
are drugs that come from opiod, in the same way that heroin comes from opiod. and in fact the effects that hydrocodone and oxycodone produce are indistinguishable from heroin. so these drugs are census. we should be using them but we should not be treating low back pain fibromyalgia and chronic headaches with opiods. what we heard from bob twillman is the argument the industry has been making from the very beginning of this epidemic. they would like policymakers to think there are these two distinct populations -- millions of pain patients who are helped by these medications and drug abusers, and what they're saying is let's not penalize the the pain patients for the bad behavior of the drug arb abusers. the reality is that we don't have two distinct populations. there's a tremendous amount of overlap. and when you look at who's dying from painkiller overdose deaths, the majority appear to be patients having these medications prescribed to them
6:49 pm
for chronic pain. in fact, there are more americans dying from painkiller overdoses who are getting these medications from doctors than young people who we now see switching to heroin. >> woodruff: bob twillman if that's the case why shouldn't there be much more careful regulation of the prescription of these painkillers? >> well we do think there should be much more careful use of these medications. we also agree they are being overprescribed prescribed and prescribed for the wrong kinds of pain. what i think we have to do though, is find the solutions that will allow to us really use these medications for those patients for whom they do provide benefit and not get into a situation where what we're doing is saying let's just-- let's just lower the supplys croo the board. because what we're seeing is that the policies that we put in place in the last few years that have actually done that have caused patients who have legitimate pain and need these
6:50 pm
medications to be fully functional, to have trouble getting those medications. >> woodruff: how have you seen that? where is the evidence for that? >> well, you know it's hard evidence to collect because in essence what you're doing is asking people to collect evidence about services that have not been delivered to them as opposed to services that have been delivered. but i have talked to patients who call into our offices and tell us they're having trouble getting their prescription filled. one gentleman i talked to had been to 35 pharmacies trying to get his prescription filled. and he had been going to the same pharmacy year after year, month after month and one month he shows up and they say, "we won't fill this anymore. we can't fill this anymore." so he winds up going to 35 pharmacies to get his prescriptions filled. >> woodruff: well we are clearly not going to be able to resolve this tonight. dr. kolodny, very quickly, what is your answer in brief to those individuals who can't get prescriptions who need them? >> i think that we do all need
6:51 pm
to worry about access to opiod medications, and we're beginning to see pharmacies put signs in the window that say "no oxycodone here." the pharmacists are not doing that because of state or federal interventions or regulations. they're doing this because they're worried about getting robbed or shot. we have a severe epidemic of opiod addiction, and if we want to preserve access to opiods so that they're available for all of us when we need them, we need to bring this epidemic under control, and that may not happen until doctors and dentists begin to prescribe more cautiously. >> woodruff: dr. andrew kolodny, bob twillman, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> ifill: occasionally, something will catch our eye that we'll bet you'd want to see, too. we're calling it "newshour shares". tonight's "share" comes from capitol hill, where members of
6:52 pm
congress brought their entire families for the pomp and circumstance of official and unofficial swearing-in ceremonies. the master of ceremonies was vice president joe biden, who spent the bulk of his day administering oaths, slapping backs hugging grandmothers teasing children, and generally, being joe biden. here's a bit of it. >> do you solemnly swear to support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic that you will bear true faith and aleaningance to the same that you take this obligation freely. and that you will well and faithfully dicharge the duty of the office you are about to enter so hup god? >> i will. >> we didn't know we didn't do that yet. come on. no, no, everybody stay where you are. don't move. i'm not doing the next one. i am not doing this. >> yes, you are. it's part of the job. >> congratulations. >> thank you very much. >> come on. >> come on, you guys.
6:53 pm
>> bring the team up. ( baby crying ) >> thank you for being here. i appreciate it very much. >> hi, charlie. give them that good smile. >> i need a hug, kid. come on. i need a hug. god love you. >> charlie! >> charlie. how you doing, man? big-time charlie. how old are you? >> all right. >> just rotate around. does that look better? thank you so much. >> you know how it works, joe. >> i do. are you kidding me. what a beautiful dangerous dres? >> he's a good man even those these a democrat. >> bed bettsy how are you? my name is joe biden, vice president biden. how are you doing? that was cool she said, "you know, that's very nice, but i don't have time right now. i'm watching my grandson."
6:54 pm
( laughter ). >> let me switch so i can be between you my husband and my vice president here. >> congratulations. i hope you enjoyed it as much as i did. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: the 114th congress convened, with republicans controlling both the u.s. house and senate for the first time in eight years. but confrontation loomed as white house aides promised the president will veto a bill pushing construction of the keystone pipeline. and former virginia governor bob mcdonnell was sentenced to two years in prison for taking bribes in office. >> ifill: on the newshour online: in china, matchmaking is left to people who know you best-- your parents. in a corner of the people's park in shanghai, moms eager to marry off their children congregate in the hopes of arranging first dates for them.
6:55 pm
it's known as "marriage market" find that report on our home page. and visual artist favianna rodriguez combines her work with her activism. the california printmaker uses vibrant graphics as a tool to fight for social justice. see some of her latest works. all that and more is on our website: >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday we'll look at the growing popularity of personal drones and the safety and privacy concerns with these new airborne vehicles. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
6:56 pm
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. stocks suffer another steep decline. is it the bond market that investors should really be paying close attention to? back to work. the new congress is sworn in and wall street has a list of issues it wants lawmakers to act on. good evening, everyone. i'm sue herera. volatility was the word of the day on wall street once again as the price of oil plunged


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on