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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  February 18, 2015 10:00pm-10:31pm EST

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jazeera's international hour. >> i'll see you in an hour. "america tonight" is up next. >> on "america tonight": >> a rare and cruel condition robbed gail walls of the man her husband once was. >> i miss his voice i miss our conversation. >> but little did she know what lay ahead was not just a battle for his health. >> massive explosions rock the scene of monday's trail derailment in fayette county west virginia, from here, the
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bakken oil fields of north dakota creating appliance on creating creating pipelines on the rails. >> until we're proactive instead of reactive people are going to keep dying. >> thank you for joining us, i'm joie chen. the down side of north america's oil boom. two of west virginia's townd were evacuated after an explosion of tankers carrying tons of crude oil from the bakken oil fields of north dakota. it is an important resource but sheila macvicar found out in her investigation it also shows growing evidence of a new danger on the rails. >> reporter: massive explosions rocked the scene of monday's train derailment in
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fayette county, west virginia. >> i've never seen anything like this. >> reporter: where trains caught five after jumping the track during a snow storm. >> oh my god. >> the force of the explosion so close to the communities of montgomery and mountain carbon with their thousands of inhabitants are raising questions about the safety of the tens of thousands of trains that are transporting an increased volume of crude oil across the country. the west virginia train was carrying bakken crude from north dakota, the same kind of crude that blew up in another derailment that had a much more tragic outcome. >> oh mon dieu! >> one of my captains summed it up saying it was like driving into hell. and it was. >> first americans to respond to
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the derailment in lac megantic. >> the trees burned the streets burned everything burned. >> when a mile long train carrying bakken crude burned, killed many including five whose bodies were never found. haunted by the fear that something similar could happen in the u.s. >> we're shipping millions and millions of gallons daily over the tracks. going by people's homes. local neighborhoods. and people are sound asleep in their homes. these trains are rolling through at night and nobody even realizes what's right next door to them, what could happen. >> reporter: the crude that devastated lac megantic came from here. the bakken oil fields of north dakota, ground zero of the
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nation's domestic oil boom. a lack of pipeline fracture has infrastructure. could haul more than 3 million gallons of crude at a time. with the amount doubling every year the united states has had some close calls. >> all you could see was this huge ball of flame and you know, there were cars laying everywhere. >> reporter: last april in the middle of a busy workday a train derailed near downtown lynchburg, virginia. >> do you feel like your city dodged a bullet that day? >> we maybe dodged a bomb. we got hit by the bullet. i think we were very fortunate that the cars went the way they did rather than over the bank into the river they could have
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fallen the other way into the heavily populated restaurant right there. we would have had a whole different issue. >> the near disaster in lynch buferglynchburg follows other incidents. involving bakken crude. >> we have accumulated data from alabama, lac megantic and now lynchberg. >> traveled to north dakota in an attempt to determine why bakken crude is so volatile. >> what makes bakken different is the clear colorless volatiles, gases that ignite easily. and that explode. >> reporter: and with a low flash point of just 73° you get explosions like the one that occurred this week in west virginia and in castleton north
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dakota in december of 2013. crude oil is not supposed to oexplode. the industry insists that bakken is no different than other kind of crude. >> reporter: the industry in north dakota has said the bakken crude is what it calls within norms, no more volatile or flammable than other crude. what do you think of that? >> that's just not the case from the analysis that we've done. >> reporter rob davisful organizian commissioned a study. >> the analysis we did of oil that's moving through the state shows that it is far more volatile than gasoline you put in your car than any oils that move through the country's pipeline system. >> what was different? >> a lot of propane a lot of butane ethane, natural gas
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essentially. >> in fact daifers found davis found that bakken had more pressure, transportation safety board of canada's at lac megantic, said the crude had a volatility consistent to gasoline products. >> it juices their products a little bit to keep it in the oil. it's going to increase the volume they're putting in trains and ultimately shipping to refineries on the west coast. >> when you saw the pictures of lac megantic, what went through your mind? >> there but the grace of god in this town. >> the mayor of bearington illinois. a town that oil trains drive through on a daily basis.
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nonpressureizeed thin skinned dot 111s are used to transport much of the crude. >> how would you characterize the dot 111? >> i refer to it as the ford pinto of oil cars. >> older and weaker cars never designed to carry flammable material are being pressed into service to carry the bulk of bakken crude. >> to use ralph nader's terminology, the dot 111 rail car is unsafe at any speed. >> all too familiar with the d.o.t. 111. >> the american people have not been adequately protected since the 1970s when the d.o.t.
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issued its original study. >> after the disaster in quebec, has finally decided that it will no longer permit d.o.t. 111s to transparent crude. >> hurray for the canadians. >> why has the united states not followed suit? >> economics the railroad industry tank car industry. there are powerful economic interest that don't want to go through the replacement of tank cars. the game here has been to delay decisions, which are just common sense. the fix is, a stronger tank car with a full head shield, thicker exterior skin and more protection for attachments on the tank car. >> the association of american railroads did agree to create a
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stronger rail car in 2011. the cpc 1232. and it was that stronger supposedly safer rail car that exploded this week in west virginia. the voluntary standard did little to prevent disaster. >> we're going to have to deal with this new reality by stepping up our safety standards. >> last july transportation secretary anthony fox proposed new rules to strengthen rail car safety. >> this rule is going to be promulgated to focus on not only where we are but where we're going to be in the future and we're going to try to hit that rule. >> disappear from america's rails. >> that proposed rule had a variety of options for phasing out the d.o.t. 111 none of which we think are fast enough. >> earth justice sued the department of transportation last july to force them to ban as canada did the d.o.t. 111s
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for transporting crude. >> we won't be satisfied until all of them are off the highways. they are mounting rick. >> only be a slightly improved version of the cpc 1232 that exploded with such force monday in west virginia. for those who have seen the horrors of lac megantic, the rules that might prevent disaster in america can't come soon enough. >> at some point it is going to happen again and there will be another news story and there will be more fatalities and people will feel bad but until we fix the regulations and it's regulated and we are proactive instead of reactive without that people are going to keep dying. that's the end of it. >> "america tonight's" sheila macvicar is here. you know this is supposedly an improved strain that exploded. what does that say for rules going forward? >> the secretary of transportation has been promising and working for months
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to get a new rule in place for rail cars that transport flammable or other dangerous kinds of liquids. they have had a huge consultancy process. hundreds have chipped in their opinions. for a rule, that can make many months and until we see whatever the new improved car will be, and because it's an open process we don't know exactly what the department of transportation has recommended. >> you mentioned a lot of stakeholders being involved, one of them would be the rail industry. >> the rail car industry in particular which owns these tens of thousands of d.o.t. 111s. if the rule going forward that these d.o.t. 111s can no longer be used to transport dangerous material they will have to be upgraded at a considerable cost
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or they will have to be put out to basically train faster. >> sheila macvicar, thank you. next what happened to the rapid spread of the ebola virus signs of hope to make a difference. that's in our fast-forward segment. later, locked in but fighting back. a devastating disorder and what his wife says is the real roadblock to his recovery. >> i just thought the fight was basically going to be physical fromnd me holding it together on the home front. i had no idea that it would ensue a huge fight with the insurance, every step of the way. >> that's ahead. hot on "america tonight's" website now the hidden victims of campus sexual assault why the disabled are at risk. find out at
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>> monday, studying deadly viruses. >> these facilities are incredibly safe,
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incredibly secure. >> go inside the study of infectious diseases. >> ventilated footy pajamas. >> protecting those working to protect us. >> we always have to stay one step ahead of them because they're out there. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> this is my selfie, what can you tell me about my future? >> can affect and surprise us. >> don't try this at home. >> "techknow" where technology meets humanity. monday, 5:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> fast forward to the progress in the fight against ebola. a six month break ended with kids back in school in liberia where nearly 4,000 died. health workers are now able to focus on treatment and a cure. the drug zmapp was experimental and hard to get. "america tonight's" michael okwu shows us.
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>> here is how the drug is made, developers inject mice with the ebola virus. then the antibodies with athe genes of a natural tobacco virus. then injected with the molecules of the virus. >> replacing all the air space that was in there and wherever the liquid comes in contact with the cell, that cell becomes invaded by the virus and that cell is the manufacturing system making the proteins we want which is monoclonal antibodies. in 20 of these plants we will have about a gram of antibodies. >> fast-forward to the edge of the ebola cries now scientists
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have enough zmapp to start small trials in west africa. even that is important though. zmapp was widely credited saving lives of two medical aid workers. >> next, the bureaucracy. >> i think it's all about the bottom line. >> correspondent adam may with the look at a devastating diagnosis and one couple's battle to overcome it. thursday on "america tonight," on hallowed ground. a native community threatened by a move that could literally pull the land out from under them. the value of their place on earth, thursday. on "america tonight." >> monday. >> this is the place where 43 students were handed over to criminal organizations. >> a crime that shocked
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the world. >> the military is about a mile away. they say that they didn't hear anything. >> where are mexico's missing students? >> kidnappings keep going up human security is collapsing. >> "faultlines". al jazeera america's hard-hitting... >> today they will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> award-winning investigative documentary series. "mexico's disappeared". monday, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
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>> hundreds of thousands of americans suffer strokes each year some with debilitating effects on their lives. stroke is the leading cause of disability in our nation. recovery is difficult enough, of course but some survivors find themselves facing another huge challenge posed by our health care bureaucracy. "america tonight's" adam may reports on the roadblock one man took on just to live. >> reporter: a rare and cruel condition robbed gail walls of the person her husband once was. but little did she know was not just a battle for his health. just 51, brett walls suffered an uncommon kind of stroke which
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made the brain stem disconnected. while mentally, he was tuned in, all he could do was blink. >> that was something he would deal with, for the rest of his life. >> meaning? >> pass away, not go on. >> she found brett's grim prognosis was hasty. there have been locked in syndrome recoveries. but predicated on early and intensive rehab. >> so i was very honest with brett. i told him that there was no guarantees but there are stories of recovery. >> brett chose to fight. and after several weeks in icu he was stabilized and got an assessment from his acute care doctors. >> they decided yes he was a
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candidate for rehab and they wanted to get him into the rehab program as soon as possible. so that's when we went to united health care for authorization to transfer him to a rehab hospital that's when the denials began. >> what did the first denial say? >> it said that he has had a stroke, that he cannot move. therefore he cannot participate in rehab. >> what did the insurance company offer you in forms of treatment? >> they said when he was ready to leave where he was they would approve a transfer to skilled nursing which was a nursing home. >> they wanted to put him in a nursing home? >> right. i just thought the fight was basically going to be physical from he brett's standpoint and me holding it together on the home front. i had no idea that it would ensue a huge fight with the insurance every step of the way. >> with the clock ticking over the next five months gail requested intensive therapy rehab for brett. not the routine care the nursing
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home offered. they were turned down. they appealed four times. and they were denied five times. their insurance company united health care wrote to them, your doctor has requested admission to an acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital. the denial is upheld. that is because you cannot participate in intensive physical therapy. >> i think that their motivations are not health and recovery. i think it's all about the bottom line. >> so you blame united health care for his current condition? >> absolutely. >> "america tonight" reached out to united health care. after a dozen exchanged e-mails and telephone calls united health care would only speak to us off the record but they did issue a statement. from the start we have reached out to the family to explain and help them understand all of the benefits available under mr. walls health plan. we continue to be available to help the family locate
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alternative programs. >> and this is where the injury happens in locked in syndrome. >> dr. richard harvey is an expert in locked in syndrome ric, the rehabilitation institute of chicago. in the past years he has seen only 42 cases because it's so rare. >> in your average nursing home would not even get him out of the chair much. >> harvey says early intervention is the best of course. >> we've had patients dmomg with lockedcoming inand left walkers. >> vicky, 25 years ago had the same stroke as brett. but her insurance company covered intensive treatment. >> we never had any problem with
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bills, and gail and brett have to fight for everything. >> they have become brett's and gail's champions. now two to three times every week vicky and jerry make the hour and a half round-trip to work brett through the paces themselves. with the exercises she remembers from a quarter-century ago. gail says brett began to show improvements with vicky and jerry's help. increased range of motion. more arm resistance and strength. >> what do you think the delay in therapy has done the him? >> pushed him back at least a year. >> douse the insurance company want him to stay like this? >> i think so. i really, really do. >> why? >> they don't have to pay. push all the way through all the way through all the way through. get it down. >> after five months of denials
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from the insurance company gail took brett's case to ohio's independent review board. they reversed the insurance company's denial. almost seven months after his stroke brett finely began intensive rehab under the car of locked in expert dr. harvey. although he would not name names, harvey told us it's not the first time he's had patients whose insurance companies won't pay for services the doctor ordered. >> but i can say that i've been put in that position by, you know this trying to care for my patients, in the context of working with the coverage that they have. i have been put in that situation. >> harvey says in brett's case it's hard to know what earlier rehab would have accomplished. but he does not believe brett will ever get back to normal. >> he still has a chance to make some improvements. but he's not at this point going
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to be walking and taking care of himself in the next year or two. he's locked in. but that doesn't mean his life's over. there's lots of things he can do. >> but it's not easy. >> sometimes it probably feels good to let it out hmm? >> make me cry. >> we could oant communicate with brett through his -- -- could only communicate with brett through his message board. >> life is a bitch. >> how do you get through this brett? >> it's greater. >> the vows say for better or worse. >> but this is worse. >> i feel like i have very little of him. >> wow isn't that beautiful? >> i miss his voice. i miss our conversations. i miss camping. i miss going out to mexican every week. it's difficult. but i know that the man that he
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is you know, and i know that he's in there. i know he wants to fight to get out. >> come on honey come on, come on brett! >> after months of waiting an electric lift was finally delivered to the house. and other things such as a new bed and approval for a new communication device are starting to appear. all authorized by united health care. >> do you think just the fact that we're here as the media -- >> oh sure. >> is breaking down -- >> absolutely, when united health care was connected by your twort all of a sudden network, all of a sudden we get afternoon electric work. why why why? they just rubber stamp hoping you give up. >> now a new challenge. brett's former employer is cutting off benefits for its employees.
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so the walls need to find new health insurance. in a final irony they've decided to go with united health care. >> is it the devil you know? >> right. exactly. >> how do you sustain this? >> well, i don't look that far ahead, you know, because i can't. he was told he would never be able to control his head, he was told he would never be able to swallow, he was told he would never be able to breathe on his own, he was told he would never be able to do what he's doing but he's on the road. >> locked in and heading into an unknown future. hoping for a miracle. adam may, al jazeera cincinnati. >> we'll check and see how he's doing. that's "america tonight." tell us what you think. at he come back, we'll have more of
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"america tonight," tomorrow. >> what's in a flame? a lot if you -- a name? a lot, if you ask about america's fight against violent extremists. >> president obama calls it a battle of heart and mind, but roots of radicalism on the ground in a french neighborhood where the seeds of violence are sown. backward when it comes to gender equality. >> my greatest fear