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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  May 17, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, may 17: new details on the investigation of the amtrak train crash that killed eight people. and in our signature segment, funding cuts and increased competition may be limiting scientific discovery in the united states. >> we're leaving half of the great science on the table that's coming to us now because we can't find the funds for it. >> sreenivasan: next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
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corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios in lincoln center in new york hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us. we begin with late breaking developments in the middle east. isis fighters have taken control of ramadi and iraqi forces have fled. a spokesman for the governor of anbar province says, "the city has fallen." ramadi is now the first major urban center seized by insurgents in iraq since isis launched attacks there last year, this despite continuous air strikes by the u.s. and its allies. the battle reportedly claimed the lives of some 500 civilians and soldiers just in the past two days.
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meanwhile in syria, officials say islamic state militants have been pushed back from the site of ancient ruins in palmyra. nearly 300 people have reportedly died in the past four days of fighting to protect the world heritage site. for the latest on the event from ramadi, we are joined by nour malas of the "wall street journal." >> another major iraqi city in the hands of the islamic state now ramadi is the capital of iraq's largest province. also a huge setback for a government campaign launched last month, to reclaim anbar province which is really iraq's sunni heartland. it is a huge province bordering baghdad, borders saudi arabia jordan and syria as well. we got urgent reports from police members fleeing today as islamic state took charge,
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an operations command center. some of the people we were talking to said they were stepping over bodies as they fled. many ended up in the hands of islamic state, vehicles, weapons, as they stampeded the last government stronghold in ramadi. >> sreenivasan: is there concern that it answer going to take iranian backed militia to face islamic state? >> prime minister as ramadi was falling today, called the mostly shia paramilitary cs forces. a major most li sunni and there are concerns over calling in shiite forces to take part in the fight. it's also the government has been trying to prove that it can
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carry out this fight with regular forces on its own. >> all right, nora malis thanks so much. >> now the investigation into what is caused that deadly >> sreenivasan: now to the investigation into what caused that deadly amtrak derailment tuesday. the f.b.i. was called in to figure out whether some kind of projectile hit the left windshield just before the train jumped the tracks. but this morning, the head of the n.t.s.b. said officials have found no radio communications indicating anything struck the train. the train was travelling 106 miles per hour when it crashed. now an amtrak spokesman says the company is working to comply with an emergency order to install computerized speed restriction systems on all northeast corridor trains. but that could take until the end of this year. this morning, new jersey senator cory booker told nbc's "meet the press" that the federal government has failed to fund those computerized systems for years. >> we have trillions of dollars of an infrastructure debt right now and the accident which we saw happen which the n.t.s.b. says could have been prevented should we have had positive
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train control we should not be scrimping on investments in public safety. >> sreenivasan: the n.t.s.b.'s lead investigator said today that inward facing video cameras would have helped with the investigation. amtrak hopes to resume limited service between philadelphia and new york tomorrow, then go back to full service tuesday. overseas secretary of state john kerry is in south korea preparing for a meeting tomorrow with top officials. kerry's visit comes after north korea claimed one of its submarines successfully test- fired a ballistic missile from a submarine earlier this month. kerry plans to reiterate america's commitment to south korea's security. he'll also discuss cyber security. and in japan, about 35,000 people rallied today at a ballpark in naha, demanding that the u.s. not only scrap plans to relocate its existing airbase on okinawa, but to get rid of it altogether. today's demonstration is the latest development in a nearly two-decade long fight between residents on one side, and the u.s. and japanese governments on the other. more than half of the 47,000 u.s. troops in japan are stationed in okinawa.
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okinawa's governor joined the protests today, but japan's prime minister continues to push for the new base to be built. for the first time in modern history, two palestinians have become catholic saints. pope francis canonized two 19th century nuns in a crowded st. peter's square this morning. palestinian president mahmoud abbas attended the ceremony. yesterday, the pope met privately with abbas, calling him, "an angel of peace." in hawaii, one of the world's most active volcanoes could be on the verge of another eruption. scientists have recorded as many as 25 quakes per hour on the slopes of mount kilauea. researchers say the lava could erupt on the volcano's southwest side. if so, that would not pose a threat to the population. the so-called "mother of lamaze" has died at the age of 100. elisabeth bing revolutionized childbirth in the 1960's by teaching moms to use relaxation and breathing techniques instead of getting anesthetized during labor. over her more than 50 year career, bing lectured, appeared on talk shows and taught classes on natural childbirth methods
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first developed by dr. fernand lamaze. bing's influence lives on. an estimated 25% of all american parents to be attend lamaze classes every year. in southeast asia, malaysia is launching emergency, high-level talks with its neighbors today, hoping to address the growing humanitarian crisis off its coast. more than 5,000 refugees have been stranded at sea, some for weeks, as they try to escape ethnic persecution and poverty in myanmar and bangladesh. none of the neighboring countries are welcoming the refugees. food supplies are dwindling and fights are breaking out on board these vessels. i'm joined now via skype from thailand by aubrey belford of reuters with the latest. been following not just the story in this country but in other countries as well. what's happening to these people, how long are they out at
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sea? >> what we have been hearing is people have been out at sea for as long as three months. the u.n. hcr says the exodues of the state in myanmar which is where the rohingya people come from, the usual route is to come through thailand. using human traffickers who then hold them in camps in the jungle for ransom until someone can pay to get them out, to pay for their voyage. you know they go on these voyages, no money down. there has been documented murders, rapes, tortures in these camps. what the thai governmental did was -- government did was arrest a major trafficker as well as thai officials that were implicated in this. for thousands waiting at sea off the thai coast until it's safe to come into land and come into these camps and then transfer
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across the beard to malaysia. they have nowhere to go. what's happened now is chaos on the sea, you've had boat loads of people abandoned and nowhere to go and no one to take them. >> sreenivasan: you've been following this for the last couple ever days, what's that been like? >> we suddenly got desperate calls from this boat that was stranded. north in thailand, floating out of the borders in the area i am right now, beautiful resort island, really popular with tourists. they were floating at sea, have been found since basically knocked back and forth between the thai and malasian vessels. today they were towed out west towards flaish yah and we haven't heard more about them. >> sreenivasan: the thai government towed this boat back
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out to sea? >> they said they wanted to go to malaysia. the story is a little more murky. the boats are under the government control, the thai people who are running these boats want to go to where their bosses are, the people on board want to live. we took a speedboat out, saw this saw the thai navy pulling them back to indonesia. they are intercepted by the malaysians, saw the boat back again on the thai side. you can see both sides of the ping pong table. >> sreenivasan: in a couple of weeks in the meantime we still have thousands of people on these boats. >> yes. and these desperate situations. with you pull up you know when we pull up beside this boat
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yesterday, you can see there's serious malnutrition amongst people on board. we have been reporting before the crisis blew up and conditions are extremely bad. people die regularly on these boats and are dumped overboard because keep in mind they're at sea for months in many cases. >> sreenivasan: is there a possible plan that the governments can come up with in the next couple of weeks? >> they're being urged by a lot of international organizations to simply take these people in. i don't know and i haven't heard exactly what any form and agreement would take, i think that really remains to be seen. >> sreenivasan: aubrey belford from reuters, joining us by skype, thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> sreenivasan: and now to our signature segment. the united states is among the world's leaders in biomedical research, thanks in large part to the federal government, which supports hundreds of thousands of scientists with grants. but for more than a decade federal funding for biomedical research has been declining. some say the trend threatens not only the careers of promising scientists and america's preeminent role in science research, but may also limit future scientific discoveries. special correspondent karla murthy reports from new brunswick, new jersey. >> reporter: loredana quadro left italy 19 years ago to pursue a career in science here in the u.s. >> the united states was always seen as the place to be a scientist because there were a lots of opportunities. >> reporter: so was it your dream to, you know, one day have your own lab? >> of course. of course. >> reporter: quadro has now been running her own lab at rutgers university in new jersey for almost 10 years.
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and she's built her career on answering a very specific question: how vitamin a is absorbed by embryos and understanding that basic function could ultimately help prevent birth defects. >> when you actually understand or think you might have understood a little tiny thing that is going on into a cell. it's really rewarding. >> reporter: but now, all of her years of work is in jeopardy. like many scientists working at a university, she depends on grants from the federal government to run her lab. they pay for everything from supplies to her team of researchers. if quadro doesn't get a new grant by july, she'll be out of money. so you're in danger of losing your lab. >> yes. >> reporter: the national institutes of health, the n.i.h., is the single largest funder of biomedical research in the world. but over the last 13 years, the n.i.h. budget has actually declined more than 22% in terms of purchasing power.
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and tighter budgets have meant that getting one of these coveted grants is even more difficult. in the past, a third of all grants submitted were funded. today it's about a sixth of all grants. and many say this hypercompetitive atmosphere is threatening not only the careers of promising scientists but the advancement of scientific breakthroughs. >> it's very stressful >> reporter: quadro says that she's constantly worrying about money. she estimates that she spends about 80% of her time working on grants. how does having to focus on grant writing, how has that affected your work in the lab. >> i don't work in the lab. i can't because i have to work on grant writing most of the time. >> people who could be doing experiments are instead writing rewriting, submitting resubmitting, trying to get that grant. and what a terrible waste of talent. >> reporter: dr. francis collins
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is the director of the n.i.h. and has been pushing for more research funding. >> whether it's in cancer or alzheimer's disease, basic science, clinical applications we're at a remarkable moment scientifically. but paradoxically we're at about the worst moment we've been to support that, at least in this country. >> reporter: one would think that when you're in an environment that's this competitive for dollars, that only the best of the best science is gonna get funded. >> turns out that's not true. cause we can look back now, can we actually say that the top sixth was better than the next sixth? turns out we can't. you can't tell them apart. so what does that say? that says we're leaving half of the great science on the table that's coming to us now because we can't find the funds for it. >> reporter: dr. collins recently testified before a house appropriations committee, asking for a three percent increase to the n.i.h.'s budget, enough money for 1,200 new grants. but subcommittee chairman tom
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cole warned that while everyone supported biomedical research a big increase to the n.i.h. was not likely. >> given the reality of funding allocations, we might not be able to do everything that the administration is proposing. >> science is not a 100-yard dash. it's a marathon. and what that means is that the science we're not doing today because we don't have the resources, is hurting our future 10 15, 20 years from now in ways that we don't even know. >> reporter: why should it be, you know, the government's responsibility to be the primary funder for biomedical research? why not foundations or private industry? >> private industry, frankly, is not going to do that. their stockholders are expecting a return on that investment, and increasingly expecting that return to happen quickly in a matter of a couple of years. >> reporter: and dr. collins says that philanthropy funds only a tiny fraction of research compared to the n.i.h. and often
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has a narrow focus on specific diseases. >> he left academia. >> reporter: judith storch is a colleague of loredana quadro's at rutgers. she's been a scientist for more than three decades and has seen the dramatic change in the competition for science funding over the years. although it hasn't been easy, she's been consistently funded during her career. she says having years of experience can give senior scientists like her a leg up. >> part of the reason i think it's easier for a senior investigator to get funded than a junior investigator is because we have a track record. >> reporter: and some in the next generation have decided to drop out altogether. >> we have graduate students that decide not to finish, we have graduate students who finish and then go and do something entirely different. but people are opting out like crazy. >> reporter: including lesley wassef-birosik. she was quadro's first postdoctoral fellow and came to the u.s. from australia in 2006. but after seven and a half years
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in quadro's lab, she decided to switch careers. she's now working as a medical writer. >> reporter: i mean, that's a big decision, to change course like that? >> yeah. it was a tough decision. i thought i could do it. but i was very naive. i didn't see how hard it was to get a grant. and no matter who you spoke to no matter which lab you spoke to, everyone would say, "it was tough." >> what wakes me up at night is this next generation and what's happening to them. and they're invariably excited about the science that they're doing, but invariably anxious about where there's a future. >> reporter: the environment for science funding has left some questioning whether the united states will remain the same worldwide leader in science research that attracted loredana quadro and so many others here. a recent survey of scientists in the u.s. by advocates for more funding found that 18% were considering leaving the country
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to pursue their careers. >> we are still the leader, but not by a lot. and i can't help but point to china in particular. in another four or five years they will be spending more in absolute dollars than we are. and the consequences are already apparent. china filed more patents in biomedical research last year than the united states did. >> reporter: i mean, if there is a biomedical breakthrough in china, won't i still, as a citizen here, benefit? >> but it's the country that is in the lead that is going to have lots of the most immediate consequences. research that goes on in the u.s. has the highest likelihood of influencing our medical care in the short run. it also is the country that's going to have the greatest economic benefit. >> reporter: dr. collins points to the human genome project, which he led before becoming director of the n.i.h. a study estimated that each dollar invested led to $178 in economic benefit for the u.s., including jobs, tax revenues, and additional funding for genome research. to help scientists with funding,
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the n.i.h. is experimenting with different models of funding, grants specifically geared towards younger scientists and allowing investigators to re- submit grants multiple times. but for loredana quadro, time is running out. she has received some bridge funding from her university and continues to work on grants, including to the n.i.h. would you ever consider leaving this field? >> it's a very difficult question. if somebody doesn't get funded for five years, you are automatically out of the picture. it would be very tough to go back in. and if this happens i will have to make a decision. >> sreenivasan: you can hear from the director at the national institutes of health about why genetic research is key to the future of medicine. watch the interview on our website at
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if you've got a company smartphone, there's a chance you're being tracked by your bosses. more and more companies are reportedly using g.p.s. technology to track employees even when they're off the clock. one worker who turned off the g.p.s. tracker in her phone got fired. now she's taking her ex- employers to court. "washington post" reporter brian fung joins me now with more on this from washington, d.c. brian fung, many reporters following this story. first of all get some of us up to speed. what's happened what is the company what are they doing why she's suing? >> the company that's involved is imrnex, wire transfer services. the woman involved her name is myrna arias. she's suing her employer because her employer installed a type of software on her phone that will allegedly track her even when she's not on the clock. so the employee here arias said this was an invasion of her
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privacy and she deleted the app and her employer decided to fire her. it's a matter for the courts to decide who's right here. >> sreenivasan: the idea of tracking isn't necessarily new. gps has been around for a long time. smartphones and apps have been around for a long time. why is this piercing our interest bubble right now? >> you're absolutely right. we have had this technology for a long time. employers have long tracked people through gps in their cars. now that we have smartphones everywhere and they are so ubiquitous, it is so easy to track people through their cell phones than in their vehicles, what's happened here is an expansion of rack technology and i think some people are reacting against that.
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>> sreenivasan: there is also this balance between legitimate use cases versus civil rights abuses right? if i'm going to a specific kind of doctor and you know the location of that during the lunch time and weekends, that might be a violation of my privacy. but a ups or fedex employee, want to make sure they're making their deliveries as fast as they can. >> that's why employers have raced to adopt this technology, in part, to see that employees are working responsibly and reliably. but making sure that employees take their mandatory work breaks, in accordance with certain state laws. so you know, this is absolutely one reason why companies would be eager to use this kind of technology. also, it comes with pitfalls when companies are tracking their employees when they're not working. as you said, there's a lot of concern about what kind of
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information you could glean from a person's behavior just by look at their location traffic. >> sreenivasan: is there a time anywhere that we are actually off the clock, just because we have these e-mail leashes but our company finds us anywhere we are. >> a way to look at this, european companies have instituted hard bans on e-mail after a certain period after your workday is over. and in the united states of course e-mail can find you no matter where you are, or what time of day it is. it's just a different culture. but, you know, there is certainly a lot of consternation about being available all the time. particularly, you know, as more and more people start adopting smartphones and being on media 24-7. >> sreenivasan: brian fung thanks so much for joining us. >> this is pbs newshour weekend,
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sunday. >> coming up monday on the newshour. >> in 1965 i was sitting on the porch of our little shotgun shack in aimes, texas and the woman approached the house. she introduced herself and told my mother that she was representing a new program called head start. >> signed him up in the program's inaugural year. >> it allowed me to think of the program outside of my environment. >> that's the program for today. i'm hari sreenivasan, thanks for watching.
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captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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[music] [sounds of seagulls and crashing waves] may (vo): i'm a chinese immigrant living the american dream. after college, my life took root in the midwest. may (vo): i met my husband here and we raised two wonderful children. for over thirty years, i was in the advertising business. may (vo):my mother has lived in seattle