Can this project clean up millions of tons of ocean plastic?

About 9 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year — enough to fill a football stadium 23 miles high. But a project dubbed the Ocean Cleanup aims to eliminate it with a method that researchers are testing in the North Sea.

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on August 14, 2016.

Producer/Writer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Judith Wolff
Correspondent: Saskia de Melker

Native community in Louisiana relocates as land washes away

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on July 30, 2016.

Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana has lost 98 percent of its land to coastal erosion caused by sinking land and exacerbated by rising seas and increased storm surges. The tribal community that lives there will be the first to receive federal tax dollars to help them relocate in response to climate change.

Producer/Writer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Steve Thompson
Correspondent: Hari Sreenivasan

 

How Democrats have changed since the Bill Clinton years

This report aired on PBS NewsHour on July 24, 2016.

This week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia will have a “back to the future” feel as another Clinton readies to become a presidential nominee. But, as NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports, the Democratic party of today is not the same as the party of the 1990s.

Producers: Saskia de Melker and Mori Rothman
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Mori Rothman, Saskia de Melker, Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Mori Rothman
Correspondent: Jeff Greenfield

 

Foreign-born workers in the UK share their fears for the future

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on June 26, 2016.

 
Uncertainty prevails in Britain after Brexit has left immigrants feeling vulnerable. The service sector, a large part of the British economy, is also a big employer of foreigners, which means these workers may be hit hard.
Producer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Michael Pilgrim
Correspondent: Hari Sreenivasan

Why thousands of students are seeing Broadway smash ‘Hamilton’

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on May 8, 2016

This spring, 20,000 public high school students from low-income neighborhoods in New York City will get the opportunity to see “Hamilton,” the Broadway smash hit nominated this week for a record 16 Tony Awards. Students can see the show as part of a new classroom curriculum designed around the show to encourage creativity and foster student interest in history.

Producer/Writer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Saskia de Melker
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Judith Wolff
Correspondent: Saskia de Melker

 

As opioid epidemic worsens, rethinking how doctors are taught to treat pain

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on April 17, 2016.

Pain is the most common reason that people go to the doctor. Yet physicians and medical students have limited training in pain management and prescribing opioids. As the nation suffers from an opioid epidemic, people within the medical field are reexamining what doctors are taught about pain.

Producer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Judith Wolff
Correspondent: Christopher Booker

 

Rethinking wages for tipped workers

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on March 26, 2016.

Due to low federal minimum wages for tipped workers, many grapple with poverty rates. Seven states, however, pay tipped workers full minimum wage before tips. And with minimum-wage hikes looming, some restaurants are pioneering no-tipping policies, eliminating gratuities in favor of higher hourly wages for workers.

Producer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: David Kreger
Correspondent: Alison Stewart

The opioid epidemic’s toll on pregnant women and their babies

The risk for overdose from opioid painkillers and heroin among women, including pregnant women, has skyrocketed, which means a growing number of babies are born dependent on opioids. NewsHour Weekend Special correspondent Alison Stewart reports on the challenges for pregnant women struggling with addiction.

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on January 9, 2016.

Producer/Writer: Saskia de Melker
Associate Producer: Melanie Saltzman
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman
Editor: Judith Wolff
Correspondent: Alison Stewart

Why is New York City cracking down on Airbnb?

This report aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on August 1, 2015.

Short-term housing rental industry giant Airbnb now lists more than 1 million rooms available in 192 countries. The platform’s largest market is in New York City, with more than 25,000 listings per night, but it’s also where the debate over how to regulate short-term rentals is the most contentious. In light of a new report by the NY Attorney General that says nearly three-quarters of Airbnb’s listings in the city are technically illegal, the city is cracking down.

Producer/Writer: Saskia de Melker
Correspondent: Hari Sreenivasan
Camera:  Saskia de Melker and Sam Weber
Editor: David Kreger

Thousands Displaced as Violence Escalates in Ivory Coast

In Ivory Coast, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled their homes or escaped to neighboring countries as post-election fighting in the West African nation threatens to escalate into civil war, some regional specialists warn.

Violence erupted after elections in November when incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara. U.N.-certified results said Ouattara received 54 percent of the vote to Gbagbo’s 46 percent.

The election, which had been postponed many times since 2005 due to disputes over voter registration, was supposed to reunite a country divided since 2002. The political standoff has instead resulted in tension and violence between the factions supporting either side.

This week, the African Union attempted to bring the two sides together and officially recognized Ouattara as president on Friday, but Gbagbo still refuses to relinquish power.

Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

Women hold portrait of Ouattara at rally. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, riot police fired on a crowd of women marching in downtown Abidjan, calling for Gbagbo to step down, killing at least four demonstrators. The protest was in response to a rally last week in the Abobo district, where gunmen killed seven women.

The latest clashes in the capital and fighting in the western region show the country is spiraling into civil war, said Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, in Dakar, Senegal.

“People placed a lot of faith in the election, and they have now reached a state of desperation,” he said.

The United Nations now estimates as many as 200,000 to 300,000 people are displaced in the capital Abidjan and thousands more have left the country.

And the deteriorating security situation is making it difficult for aid organizations to reach troubled areas, according to the International Organization for Migration. State-run water and electricity in the north and west also were shut off in areas supportive of the opposition “for political reasons,” according to U.N.

“Confusion and anarchy are gaining the upper hand and making it very difficult to supply aid or even get anything beyond piecemeal information” said Jacques Seurt, IOM’s chief of mission in Ivory Coast. Seurt said he and his IOM staff were the only remaining aid agency working in the western region until they were forced to evacuate on Tuesday because of the insecurity.

Refugees are crossing the border into Liberia in increasing numbers, and temporary camps are cropping up along the border. IOM reported that about 8,000 Ivorians arrived in the past few days, bringing the total Ivorian refugees in Liberia to more than 80,000.

In addition to the refugee surge, reports say Liberian mercenaries are being called on to fight with Gbagbo’s faction in Ivory Coast, said Depagne. And that could fuel a civil war that destabilizes the rest of West Africa, he said.

The United Nations has deployed another 2,000 peacekeeping troops to join the 9,000 troops already there. President Obama and the international community have said they condemn the violence and urge Gbagbo to concede power.

But Gbagbo’s Foreign Minister Alcide Djedje said he wouldn’t: “We will never accept if the proposal is for President Gbagbo to step down because he is the elected leader” of Ivory Coast, Djedje said.