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twitter. reach me directly at ray suarez news. see you for the next "inside story," in washington, i'm ray suarez. > on "america tonight", the truth about false confessions. >> this is the first time you have been here. >> correspondent sara hoy looks at those who say they did it - even when they didn't. >> no blood, no fibres, no hair, no ballistics, no bullet traces or a shred of physical evidence to connect him to the crime. why would anyone confess if they are not guilty? >> not knowing the law i thought i will tell them what they want lie.
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>> a story of justice denied in our continuing report on crime and punishment. also - lost on september 11th, and the 13 years sings - the growing death toll of those that came to help, and the evidence that their sacrifice didn't end when they left ground zero. >> i've been diagnosed with cancer, and leukaemia. >> what they left behind - the lonely struggles across the border. travellers unseen as they make their long journeys through the desert leaving only remnants of the fabric of their lives. good evening. thanks for joining us. i'm joie chen. it's hard enough to understand the criminal mind.
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what's the truth about criminal confessions. do people who are truly innocent confess to crimes they didn't commit? we look at crime and punishment in america. we examine false confessions. they happen more than you think. sara hoy begins with a story of a man that spent two decades behind bars, but has proof he didn't do it. >> reporter: shermone johnson was roller skating with friends when she was killed. >> two detectives came. i was sleeping. my sister opened the door to them. apartment. >> that morning he was dragged out of his brooklyn apartment. it would be 18 years before he returned home. >> 19 years old at the time. i don't know why they are there, why they have taken me, i have no clue. it happened so abruptly, that no one questioned
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going. >> we travelled with moses to the scene of the crime. a public housing complex. >> this is the first time you've been there. what is going through your head. >> they were telling me i was here and i did something. >> police accused moses of shooting the little girl. >> they took me to the precincts. when i arrive they sat me at a cubicle, with a detective, and he explains why i'm there. when he told me that i felt a little relieved. >> relieved? >> yes, i felt relieved in the sense that i know that i had nothing to do with it and i knew nothing about what they were questioning me for. >> moses thought he would be back with his family. it was the beginning of a
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12-hour interaction. >> -- intergags. >> after i denied it for several hours, they got tired. this is when detective scarzella came into the room and began to physically assault me. >> what does that mean? >> meaning that he physically used his hands, slapped me, choked me and the rest of the officers held me so i wouldn't him. >> detective lewis scarcella was legendary - known for making arrest and getting convictions in crime-scarred brooklyn. in 1995 the year moses was charged with murder. sentences in chicago took a nose dive. the crime outraged the suspect.
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>> at that point my mind went into survival mode. danger? >> yes, i did . at that point they weren't acting like detectives, they were acting like a gang. they wouldn't accept anything outside of a confession, and i'm realising that. so that, with not knowing the law, of course, i said, well, i'll tell them what they want to lie. >> detectives wrote up a confession for moses with their version of event. to put an end to his nightmare moses signed it. >> i have to ask the question - why in the world would you confess to a crime you wouldn't do - a murder no less? >> i never thought i would be convicted. i just - the only thing i prayed for was that the right people to
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hear it. >> but the confession with his signature proved to be more influential than any other piece of evidence in court. >> i mean, whoever heard of false confessions, that someone would confess to a crime they didn't commit. that's what everyone believes. >> ron is president of a public relations firm. after playing a role in a number of high profile wrong conviction confessions. >> 50% of exonerations involved false convection. 20% nationwide involved a false confession. it is and police are encouraged to get confessions. it's the most compelling piece of evidence, almost always resulting in a convection. when it's in the prosecutor's hands and before a judge and jury, it's over. >> he received all right from ipp mate looking for help.
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>> what about the guys in prison, these letters, "i'm 33, i've been incarcerated for 15 years. i maintained my confession was a false one", shane harris wrote a letter saying "please help me", prison. >> these are full of legal cases, information about their families, cases, evidence of their innocence. that's what they are sending me every day. recorded. >> in moses case, we needed to see the detective when he choked and hit him to get his confession. a jury needs to see that. anything less should not be allowed in court. >> less that half of all states require interrogations to be recorded. after hearing the coninvestigation a jury convicted him of second degree murder and sentenced him 16 years to life.
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>> i was in shock. others were crying. i couldn't say much. i'm a very strong-willed person. just for a second, suicide flashed through my mind. >> moses mother elaine was beside herself at the thought of foundationst of eight children spending his life in prison. >> i suffered a lot. i went through a lot of surgery, through depression. it was so bad i want to go in the sub way and jump in the train track. that's how bad it was. >> moses began to serve his sentence. in 2013 lewis scarzella, the detective, became the target of an investigation himself, accused of lying, cheating and other misconduct. his actions tarnished more than
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50 cases, which the district attorney is reviewing. moses was one of them. attorney ron cooby took his case pro bono. >> no physical evidence - no blood, fibres, hair, ballistics, bullet traces, no powder residue burps. not. not a shred of physical evidence to connect him with the crime in any way. we began to investigate the cause. the first thing we did is talk to both of those so-called i witnesses. these are people that had no reason to lie at the time, no reason to lie now. one of them was the cousin of the little girl who was killed and the mother of the little girl who was kill. and they told us that sonny was not the person. >> in light of the new evidence and da review moses went before the parole board to proclaim his innocence.
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the new york state of parole released him. >> in december, days before his 38th birthday, sunday moses made his way home into the arms of those who never stopped believing in his innocence. >> it felt like a dream. so much is running through my head. i'm getting my freedom. i'm happy. i think it's basic to life. if you take away someone's freedom. they almost have no reason to live. coming back from death. i don't take anything for granted now. >> moses is not entirely free. the brooklyn district attorney's office conviction review unit is looking at his case. neither the district attorney nor detectives scarsella would comment for the report. >> my name was dragged though the mud, my family was put through a lot of things, and my
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second grew up without a father. he is the age i got locked up at. in all of this, it seems like the victim was forgotten. there's still a mum out there who lost her child, who is looking at all of this stuff in the media, and she is continuing to blame me, despite everything that happens, she continues to blame me. so not only am i not vindicated by the system, but i'm not vindicated by the victim's mum, and the victim's family. >> he's a strong young man. but will he ever get his life back? will he ever be the same again? i pray for long life. that i see this happen. i know god will keep me, and i will see his name.
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>> for now moses has a focus, to clear his name and move forward. >> i'm looking for the day i'm exonerated and cleared of the crime so i can move on with my . >> "america tonight" sara hoy rejoins us. he makes the point himself, sony, that he has not been exonerated, just been par owled. >> that's right. technically he's a convicted fell job, meaning he -- felon, meaning he has to see a parole officer, be home by 9:00 pm. he has to have this cloud over his charges. >> and the da, the da has dozens of cases to look at. >> we're talking 50 cases from one detective implicated in all of these, meaning that this one american may have had a manned in more than one -- hand in more justifiably.
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much. when we return, more on confessions, true or false. and the law enforcement training teaching officers to get the goods. our punishment. later, an explosion in the rolls of designer highs, why it's hard to crack down on synthetic drugs and their users. >> al jazeera america presents the system with joe berlinger >> mandatory minimums are routinely used to coerce plea bargains >> mandatory minimums >> the whole goal is to reduce gun crime, now we've got people saying "this isn't fair"... >> does the punishment always fit the crime? >> had the person that murdered our daughter got the mandatory minimum, he wouldn't have been out. >> the system with joe burlinger only on al jazeera america
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>> now inroducing, the new al jazeea america mobile news app. get our exclusive in depth, reporting when you want it. a global perspective wherever you are. the major headlines in context. mashable says... you'll never miss the latest news >> they will continue looking for suvivors... >> the potential for energy production is huge... >> no noise, no clutter, just real reporting. the new al jazeera america mobile app, available for your apple and android mobile device. download it now now, truth be told. before the break we heard the story of a new york man that spent the better part of two decades in prison for a crime he confessed to, but has proof he didn't commit.
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that leads us to wonder how often false confessions are given and why. a columnist for new yorker wrote about a widely used police interrogation technique aimed at getting confession s. >> that'true. >> how is that done? >> it's the read technique, developed by john reid, a lie detector analyst, since the "40s. it basically consists of two parts. one is the behavioural analyst interview. you ask questions and watch the body language to get a sense of whether the person is lying. once you paying the determination that -- make the determination that the person is laying, you leave the room, come back with a folder and you say "we have concluded that you have committed the crime, let's talk about ways of getting past
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that", in the second part of the interview, if you decide the person is lying, you don't take no for an answer, you keep at it until the person confesses. i should say in your segment you talked about the officer abusing the person. in the reid technique, you do not touch the person, you affect a kindly demeanor, but you do not let up until they confess. >> that struck me when i read your article, we think of the false confessions coming from a physical or mental torture. i got the sense they were talking about something like hype novembers, brain -- hypnosis, brain washing, repeating the same thing. >> it's almost junk science, where lying and anxiety go together. but they do not. if you are falsely accused of killing a loved one,
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you show anxiety. years of research shows that the average person can tell if someone is lying pretty much with the odds of a coin toss. you have a whole system of interrogation based on science that is disproven for years. >> the sense that i have, i feel in reading your article, i'm struck by a feeling how many times have i read in a news story the confessed killer made guilty. >> yes, what happens is someone feels that they are tired of it, if they confess, give them what they want, once they get out of the room the justice system will clear them. it's almost never the case. research shows one someone confesses the science is bent in the direction of guilt. confession causes a row of irreversible. >> the interview was in the december edition of "the new us.
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>> okay. after the break - clever names concealing deadly risk an international ruling in the sharp rise and use and the grows dangers of synthetic drugs and the fierce hold of meth in heartland america. >> people refer to it as the walk away drug. you walk away from everything important and all that is important is the next my. >> home made meth, the product of shake and bake - why it's so >> we're following the stories of people who have died in the desert >> the borderland memorial day marathon >> no ones prepared for this journey >> experience al jazeera america's critically acclaimed original series from the beginning >> experiencing it has changed me completely >> follow the journey as six americans face the immigration debate up close and personal. >> it's heartbreaking... >> i'm the enemy...
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>> i'm really pissed off... >> all of these people shouldn't be dead... >> it's insane... >> the borderland memorial day marathon only at al jazeera america
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gonna pay a price... >> holocaust survivor and head of the ant-defamation league. >> there's an awful lot of hatred floating out there... >> and ending discrimination >> long as the children aren't educated, it's gonna maintain... >> talk to al jazeera only on al jazeera america and now a snapshot of stories making headlines on "america tonight". already there is suspicion that boko haram might be behind a pair of bombings that killed 118 people in migeia. the -- nigeria, it happened in jovt, outside the jost, the stronghold. there's no work on the fate of hundreds of school girls that the group kidnapped. recalls from the second-largest automaker - g.m. bringing in another 2.4 million to fix safety flaws, causing
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13 deaths and many crashes. prescription to play. retired n.f.l. players are suing the league, charging that they are giving messy duty narcotics to numb their injuries long enough for play time. players say they were not warned about side effects and are addicted to pills. and packets with clever labels sold over the counter in convenience stores and gas stations. experts warn the so-called synthetic drugs may be dangerous, or more so than what we call illegal drugs. a report finds their use is exploding among the young. >> reporter: days ago a massive crackdown in the u.s. as federal agents moved in, raiding synthetic drug makers in 29 states, making dozens of arrests.
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seizing dozens of pacts. the products look innocent. dried plants that many smoke for a marijuana-like high. >> people lose their minds on this stuff. it's a poison. >> the use of this pot is exploding worldwide. an alarming report from the united nations finds 380 sin thet iing drugs -- synthetic drugs sold in 90 countries. the most common fake high is the synthetic marijuana. making the problem more difficult, the number of form u lease for fake weed is growing, almost doubling in a matter of months. >> users expecting a relaxed high report that they can suffer serious psychotic episodes. dr eric is an
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americaning si room fizz urn. what symptoms do the people using these drugs present with? >> when someone gets into a bad form of these, they are superstimulated. the people are terrified, amazingly frightened, fighting the world and which no one else can see. they have dangerous high temperatures, patients seizing, running in the traffic. it's terrifying for the patients and a change for the people that have to take -- challenge for the people that have to take care of them. >> when they come into the e.r., how do you treat them? >> first thing is make sure the patient is safe. that the patient is safe and my staff are not hurt. once they are physically restrained, sedation to calm the brain down, getting the heart and temperature down. fluid and cooling. and then we wait. the human body can get rid of
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most things. we need to keep you alive and the brain protected to get rid of the junk. >> keeping them alive is the key. is it deadly. people think it's sold over the counter in a convenience store. it depends on what you get. the people buy a packet of this. they have no idea what chemical is inside. it can go to the same store and buy two pacts of the same thing, buying chemicals and effects. that's the terrifying thing for people themselves, and those of us to take care of them. you never now how they'll respond or who they brought. >> thank you for being with us. >> thanks very much. >> another kind of kitchen chemistry is behind the reemergens of an addictive golf club.
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amphetamine, meth is known for ravaging materials. they were clamping down by limiting materials. addict can be resourceful. the unintended consequences of the crackdown is a creation of more lethal ways to make meth. >> reporter: veronica has been convicted to methamphetamine. revved to as speed, dope or ice. the drug is highly addictive and has been decimating rural communities like the one veronica lied in for decades. >> people refer to it as the walk away drug. you walk away from everything that is important. high. >> different suits, depending on the chemical hazards. >> chris harrison is the chief
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chemist at the arkansas lab. he says amphetamine is back with a ven gones. >> i don't think there's a drug as addictive with a high impact on quality of life as amphetamine. . >> i was 26 when i started using. and i'm 43 years old now. that's how it goes around here. five miles from here, five miles around you there's probably 100 or more people selling dope. >> how badly has the community been affected? >> there's more kids on it than i have seen in my life.
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>> have your kid gotten into it? >> two of my boys have. >> how old are they? >> 13 and maybe 14. >> where are we right now? >> near wal-mart. >> what are we doing here? >> we are going to get supplies to make dope. >> for years this is how veronica maintained her habit. purchasing camping kerosene, fertiliser and cooking them. it's shake and bake. producing a potent form of meth that can be injected much. >> it's not sophisticated. it's a plastic bottle with a rubber hose attached. in arkansas, this is the way they patter out amphetamine. this is the last step of the shake and bake method. >> in this demonstration the police department shows how shake
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and bake is made, and reveals how dangerous it can be. >> 40%. time someone will be injured. it looks benign, it's a small bottle. it has household chemicals. they are dangerous,like a bong. the ex-motion of this pick-up -- explosion of this pick-up truck shows awe volatile it -- how volatile it can be. thousand are seriously burned. because it's cooked in the home, children are at risk. shaken? >> and exploding. >> and exploding. >> yes. >> you seep that. >> i saw that. shaking it up. >> this 6-year-old boy describes a shake and bake meth cook gone fire.
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>> remember when uncle cody blew it up and you got burnt. >> these are the burn marks. >> i saw the explosion. >> you saw a big explosion. >> yes. i saw the house explode. >> why are people in your home making these -- >> shake up bottles. >> yes, why are they doing it? >> because they think it's good fun. >> they think it's for fun, yes. it's not so fun, is it? how many times have you bought all the ingredient before. >> i can't count. i can't count. >> for addict like veronica the dangers of shake and bake are nothing compared to the hold the drug has on their lives. >> we are headed to the pharmacy to get sudafed. >> only that is lesseesy for veronica than it used to be.
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in an effort to crackdown on injuries from shake and back. legislature passed laws targetting a key ingredient targetting what is used. pseudofed roe gen, confapd in seedo fed. those medicines are required to be kept behind the counter and customers are limited to a certain in the. in arkansas, where veronica lives most pharmacies require that customers have a history before they will sell to them. >> i have to have a okay. >> a lot of people are not chemists, you can cook it easy. they are blowing themselves up. different things like that. pseudofederon. >> bill bryant head of the d.e.a. office says laws limiting
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laws containing pseudofederon have limited blasts, but done nothing to curb the abuse. >> it will not stop nobody. we'll improize. i ain't quitting. >> unable to get her sand on sudafed for a shake and bake veronica looks to teddy, who has been using meth since he was 14. did you learn to use meth by watching your mum? >> it was the first time i seep it. it disturbed me as a child. i hated it. >> why do you think you started using it? >> i know, it's weird. we are country kids. it's all the fun we had. >> teddy says it's the old timers like his mum that try to cook meth. he prefers a new product in a shiny ready-to-use packet. >> that is what ours looks like. >>
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were there unintended consequences of the crack down. >> amphetamine is manufactured in mexico. we talk to state and local counterpart. you ask what the drug problem is, they say amphetamine ice. >> the cartels are coming in and demanding. >> correct. >> this is what the mexican cartels are doing with it to make it look really valuable. you can make it where it's pretty and almost see-through crystals. people will pay money because special. >> this meth fett referred to as ice is over 8 -- amphetamine reversed to as ice is cheap and easy to get. >> there's no need to cook it. >> you diplomat felt the need cook. >> why take the risk.
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if you know the mexicans, they bring it over by the truckloads. i can get large amounts at dirt cheap price. everybody is winning. i'm winning. they are winning. it's all good. everybody is happy. >> so is there more amphetamine in rural areas than there used to be. >> absolutely. usually when you see amphetamine, items, in arkansas, it's coming from a mexican drug organization. we are seeing higher quality yes, in the 90% and up. >> that's from the cartel. >> yes. >> they are producing higher . >> compared to the labs. >> why does that matter? >> the consumer liabilities the better product. >> meth in the heartland. by the way, that same u.n. report we referred to notes that the strong economy in asia is
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fuelling a dramatic rise in meth use there. seizures of meth drugs trippled over five years when we return - remembering those lost on 9/11, and the continuing sackry rificeof those that risked everything to help. >> until 9/11 my red call all right were flawless, i had nothing wrong with me until after 9/11. >> correspondent chris brewery on the continuing toll of the name that changed america. >> i'm lori jane gliha i am in a place migrant travel after crossing the border in arizona. they lee behind items like this. why they are now being turned into art.
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>> investigating a dark side of the law >> they don't have the money to puchace their freedom... >> for some...crime does pay... >> the bail bond industry has been good to me.... i'll make a chunk of change off the crime... fault lines... al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> they're locking the door... ground breaking... >> we have to get out of here... truth seeking... >> award winning, investigative, documentary series. chasing bail only on al jazeera america
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>> weekday mornings on al jazeera america >> start your day with in depth coverage from across the country and around the world. >> the future looks uncertain... >> real news keeping you up to date. >> an informed look on the night's events, a smarter start to your day. mornings on al jazeera america it's an important monument to healing and recovering. it's a challenge for survivors,
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13 years after the attacks. among those that continue to suffer and die are those that risk everything - first responders who came to help. on long island, here is chris brewery. [ last post plays ] >> announcer: police officer perry delaney, n.y.p.d. >> reporter:. >> reporter: this is familiar, ceremony. >> lieutenant linda olsen, fdny >> reporter: these are new nape names. 93 police officers, firefighters and many others. what they have in common besides their service is death from illnesses directly related to efforts at ground zero.
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>> but today we honour those who we lost because illnesses. >> reporter: their names are engraved alongside 172 others on this memorial on a park on long island, home to many first responders, including glen cline, a new york city police officer who rushed downtown that september morning. >> while we were on our way into manhattan, we were monitoring the special operations division radio. we heard other plefrs down at the -- police officers down at the trade center screaming "stay away from the towers, there's bodies coming out." >> 14 of the new york city police officers who died that day belodged to the elite unit emergency services. in the months that followed, the squad was assigned to the poll
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varized remains of what is known as "the pile." >> i was down over eight months and spent eight months in the pile, on the pile, under the pile. from start to finish i was there when the last beam was removed. >> cline is 55 and retired. his bungs and esophagus are dammed. are you convinced it was part of the 9/11? >> no doubt. as part of the emergency services we are required to take a medical every year. up until 9/11 my medical records showed my health was flawless, i had nothing wrong with me until after 9/11. everything started to happen all at once. >> carol still wears her n.y.p.d. windbreaker, but disability forced her into an early retirement. since she was four, carol dreamed of being a police
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officer. on 9/11 she was one of the first on the scene after the first plane hit and inside tower two when it crumbled. >> i was trapped. once tower two collapsed i had no idea the tour collapsed. i grap with my left awn out, extended and hold on to the doorframe with one arm. the knows and wind were insane. people blew by me, threw me, under me. i held n mid air, like a cartoon character. carol was under a pile of rub , she and a fellow officer, ritchie fetolie scratched their way out. >> we heard a voice "holy mary, mother of god", it kept repeating. we finally got out. >> who was saying that? >> we don't know. i said to
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ritchie, do you see person? >> he said "no." he said "i think it was my father. he had died. i think it was him trialling to help me get out.". >> they stayed to get others out. she is the one on the left in the striking photo of two cops helping a dazed woman to safety. almost immediately carol began coughing and vomiting. >> we were trying to get the stuff off our face. we were trying to breathe, we were throwing up. eyes hurt. pain in my body. >> in the days after 9/11, the head of the e.p.a., christine todd whitman assured workers the airways safe to breathe. >> we know of 1500 responders that died. we were told that the air quality was safe. they were only concerned about getting new york city up and
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running, getting the stock market up and running. >> the vaporised building spewed out cement, asbestos, heating oil, glass and human remains. >> everything in the building we ingested. anybody that was there that inhaled the crowd - desks, people, guns, ammo. >> congress gave health benefits under an act named for a police detective who died of respiratory illness. the money did not cover cancer, but 15 chemical compounds in the smoke, dust and gas found in the rubble are classified as cancer causing. >> when they started to see the correlation between police officers, firefighters and construction workers who put
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time in at ground zero and at the morgue with rare teens of canners, they had no choice. >> in 2012 president obama signed a version of the law that covered more than 50 cancers. insurance for first responders, such as carol. >> i could have left that day, and i didn't. it was my job. i was hope to do it. we are doing all over again. we wouldn't change anything or have left. the government has to step forward and take responsibility to help us. >> for carol the change in the law has new significance. the 49-year-old was perfectly healthy the day before 9/11. the explosion left her with knee and soldier injuries. now she suffers from lung disease and a digestive disorder. this month her doctors delivered
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a double dose of more bad news. >> they diagnosed me i have cancer, lim nottic and leukaemia. that's a new diagnosis for me. i got that two weeks ago. >> are you convinced it was as a result of that day, 9/11? >> you don't have to convince me, i know it was from 9/11. >> in a spare bedroom carol keeps her personal 9/11 museum. >> a lot of memories here? >> yes. >> that remarkable photo, her hat and whistle. valor. >> i see you a new york city police department, the mettle for valor. it's there, but, you know, it was very sweet. it should go to all the people that died that day. >> greg cline's reminders are etched into the scun, a squad of 14 that they lost.
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now he worries that there's a droga act, the federal insurance is set to expire in two years. in time, he knows memories fade. glen and the others are pushing to make the law permanent. >> how concerned are you about your own health and future? >> every day is a struggle. i got to the point where i don't take anything for granted. i wake up in the morning, i lift up the shade and throw god a kiss. i have a 9-year-old son, two older children and i want to be here for them. i don't want to say i'm a hypoconnedry abbing. when i'm sick and don't feel good, the first thought is "it's my time now", and i'm scared. i'll be honest, i'm very scared. >> henry ploughman, district the columbia. >> reporter: the names keep coming. one day they'll outnumber
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outline those that died on 9/11 and cover the empty wall of granite that awaits them. so those not yet borp on the terrible day will know how the men and women who served and suffered. ahead in our final thoughts of this hour - deserted. picking up the pieces and uncovering stories from what >> on techknow... >> i'm at the national wind institute, where they can create tornados... >> a greater understanding... >> we know how to design for the wind speeds, now we design for... >> avoiding future tragedies >> i want a shelter in every school. >> techknow every saturday, go where science, meets humanity. >> this is some of the best driving i've ever done, even though i can't see. >>techknow >> is there an enviromental urgency? only on al jazeera america
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ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5 eastern only on al jazeera america and >> finally from us the lost and found, and what it tells us about the long journey of migrants as they reachure borders. lori jane gliha -- reach our borders. lori jane gliha on the remnants of life that become hart. >> reporter: deep inside arizona's walker canyon, this is
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a trail that migrants use to enter the united states. >> how far are we from the mexican border right now? >> right now three miles. >> okay. >> yes. >> in order to get to this point they have walked for how long? >> two days. just to get to the boarder, to the point of crossing. >> bob key showed us the way. he's been tracking the paths, and the people that use them for years. every week he leaves food and water for the migrants that make the daring journey. it's rough terrain, and not everyone makes it out alive. according to the u.s. border patrol, 194 people died along the arizona border in 2013. >> there's a blanket there, isn't there. >> yes, there's a blanketed. >> even if key doesn't see the people that crosses the border. he knows they've been here, from the things they leave behind. >> i have seen the sweater
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before. when i seen it, and the grease on it, it made me think of the people i seen at the shelter from coming up from central america riding the train. they get very, very dirty and greasy just like that. very, very dangerous. >> these traces of the migrant journey become something else entirely in the hands of the valerie james. >> i look at something like journey. >> migrants crossed through james' property, a main route for borteder crossers -- border crossers chasing the american dreamt. >> this was a full-on blanket torn in half. >> for some it looks like litter. for james, an artist, it's a glimpse into history, worth preserving. over the past decade james
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collected hundreds of items cast off by migrants - most of it clothing twisted among tree branches, for half buried among dirt. she collects the items with her frequent and fellow artist. >> when we collected them it was collecting them to clean un the desert. as we -- clean up the desert. we realise as we collected them, that they were apparently. they were no longer objects. this was material left behind, and i literally would stumble across it. >> their collection grew. they had stacks of medication, perfume. >> people carry perfumes. after three or four days in a desert you want to be human again. >> they found photographs, handwritten letters, backpacks, shoes.
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>> what is this, someone's id. >> i think it's the same person. certificates. >> work permit. >> it was a left-behind diaper bag, similar to that, that caught their eye and captured their hearts and give them an idea that would transform the trash into history. >> all this material was strewn about. a baby bottle. the shampoo bottle. the diapers, all of it. little dresses, tiny dresses for a toddler. it was so strongly identifying with this scene, and with the material, that i just - i remember feeling panicked for this woman. >> why did you pick it up and bring it home? >> i don't think there was a conscious intent at the time to
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display the material. we just wanted to protect it and archive it. here is one. 44 years old male from mexico. cause of death is pending. >> gradually the things they collect became art. like this peace, which waves the napes of -- weaves the names of people that perished with blue jeeps, the border crosses. they had an idea for a sculpture complete. >> by the time it materialized and i talked to other artists about it, we felt so strongly that we had to do something. there was no public memorial at that time. >> they began to work on this - a sculpture mem rating the --
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commemorating the migrants and the mothers that lost them. >> this woman was inspired by experience. her husband came across two children that illegally crossed the border. they called for help. he gathered them up and brought them inside. they were scratched up and carried little bottles of water that were empty and they were so scared. you know, they were so scared. they have been - they had been wandering lost for two nights. they helped the children reunite with relatives. her encounter made the sculpture with james more important. >> you volunteered. she served as a model for a series of three female sculptures called "the mothers." >> i like this one. >> each covered in fabric made
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from clothing discovered in the desert. >> the idea of making it out of the clothing that we found, that carried the dna, the sweat, the tears, the blood on the clothing from the rips and the thorns and the fear. >> the first mother was made out of levis, so she was blue. the second was off-white. she was made from cashingies. dec carr kis. and the third out of bags that marijuana was crossed in. >> the two women are part of a network of artists and historians determined to place what some might consider trash in a different light. the art has made it into exhibitions like this one, at the detroit museum of modern art. visitors can experience the
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migrant's journey up close. >> what would you say to people who look at what you do and say "no, these items are trash." i'd say go out there and walk around for yourself and open up a backpack, and pull out the letters. look at the pictures. it's in what you find. the stories are there. you can't deny them, you know. people, ids. where they are going. all their hopes. they are in those backpacks. >> we have to remember that all of us our culture, is what is left behind. >> it's why these life-sized sculptures of mothers are important. they made them a decade ago, but they have begun to deteriorate. to the artists, it's a symbol. >> we wanted them to break down the way the bodies do in the
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behind. >> it's what is left behind that they see as history in the making. and that's it for us here on "america tonight". remember that next time al jazeera america's new original series "the system", with joe berlinger begins - an indepth look at challenging issues in the justice system. >> if you would like to comment on the stories log on to the website and join the conversation on twitter or facebook. see you there. good morninged. - goodnight.
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>> vladimir putin is pushing for a russian alliance with china. i'll tell you how that may undermine the u.s. standing as the world's most powerful currency. we'll look at race and the challenges of a declining middle class. plus robots down on the farm. the technology that has cows pretty much milking themselves. i'm ali velshi. this is "real mo