tv PBS News Hour PBS January 20, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama addresses the nation tonight in his sixth state of the union and for the first time before a house and senate under republican control. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we bring you special coverage from the u.s. capitol and analysis from mark shields and david brooks. >> ifill: plus, islamic state militants threaten to kill two japanese hostages unless paid a two hundred million dollar ransom. >> woodruff: and, a california public school shifts its focus to life lessons, preparing students to go on to college and careers in medicine. >> we have kids that go to every major hospital in oakland and they are starting to take some
of the real world practical skills that they are learning on the internships but also the things that we're talking about in class and they are starting to synthesize that into the vision that they see for themselves. >> ifill: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> it doesn't matter what kind of weather. it doesn't matter what time of day or night. when mother nature's done her worst, the only thing that matters to us, is keeping the lights on for you. we're the men and women of the international brotherhood of electrical workers. keeping the power on in communities like yours, all across the country. because when bad weather strikes, we'll be there for you. the i.b.e.w. the power professionals.
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>> woodruff: in just a few hours, the president addresses congress and the nation, laying out his view of the state of the union at the start of a new year. he spent this day putting finishing touches on many of the proposals he's already made public, while republicans readied their own arguments. we'll hear from both sides after our summary of the day's other news. >> ifill: and that summary begins with new signs that bipartisanship could yet be elusive: two new presidential veto threats aimed at a pair of republican-sponsored bills. one would ban abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. the other would mandate decisions on oil and gas pipelines within 12 months of being proposed. >> woodruff: an oil pipeline break in montana has forced the town of glendive to start trucking in bottled water. about 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the yellowstone river on saturday. the town draws its water from
the river, and tests have confirmed hazardous levels of benzene, a cancer-causing component in oil. it's unclear how long the water will be fouled >> ifill: in france, police arrested five chechens today, amid a heightened alert since the paris attacks. there was no immediate indication that the five had any connection to terrorism. instead, officials in two towns in southern france said they were tied to other crimes. a cache of explosives was found as well. >> ( translated ): what i can tell you is that we have found during a raid at one person's place, some explosive material extremely dangerous. for the moment, with the investigations we carried out we have not determined if they had a current bombing project. we are talking about charges of fabrication and possession of explosive material. >> ifill: also today, four men suspected of having links to one of the paris gunmen, amedy coulibaly were charged in paris. coulibaly died earlier this month in a shootout with french police.
>> woodruff: jury selection has begun in new york for a saudi man linked to the 1998 u.s. embassy bombings in africa. khaled al-fawwaz was extradited from britain in 2012. he's accused of conspiring with al-qaeda in planning the attacks that killed 224 people. another defendant already pleaded guilty. a third died before he could be brought to trial. >> ifill: shiite rebels in yemen seized the presidential palace today, after taking over state media. they also shelled the home of the u.s.-backed president, abed- rabbu mansour hadi, but he was unhurt. the rebel leader demanded that hadi quickly implement a peace accord brokered by the united nations. but a spokeman for u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon condemned the violence. >> the secretary-general is gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in yemen. the secretary-general calls on all sides to immediately cease all hostilities, exercise maximum restraint, and take the necessary steps to restore full
authority to the legitimate government institutions. >> ifill: the u.n. security council held an emergency meeting this afternoon, and issued a statement saying president hadi is "the legitimate authority" in yemen. >> woodruff: investigators in indonesia have concluded an air- asia plane was climbing much too fast before it crashed last month. the transport minister said today the jet was rising at 6,000 feet a minute. that's more than triple the normal rate, and it could have caused the plane to stall. the pilots had asked to climb to avoid a storm, but ground controllers denied permission. >> ifill: in economic news, the international monetary fund lowered its forecast of global growth for the next two years. and, china reported its growth in 2014 was the slowest in nearly a quarter-century, at 7.4%. the global news held wall street mostly in check. the dow jones industrial average gained just three points to close at 17,515. the nasdaq rose 20 points to
close near 4,655. and the s&p 500 added three, to finish at 2,022. >> woodruff: and, there's good news today about tigers: their numbers in the wild in india have increased nearly a third since 2010. a government report today cited images collected at nearly 10,000 camera traps. india is home to 2,200 tigers-- 70% of the world's population. the country has pledged to construct new preserves, to keep the big cats in their natural habitat. >> we have proactively decided that we will create more grasslands and water storage in forest areas so that the animals will live happily in forests and people will live happily along the side of the forest also, and no one will intrude upon anybody's territory. >> woodruff: the world wildlife fund estimates the world lost 97% of its tigers in the last
century. still to come on the newshour: from the white house to capitol hill, complete coverage of the president's state of the union address. then, islamic state militants make ransom demands for two japanese hostages. a divided supreme court weighs in on whether judicial candidates should be able to personally raise campaign cash. jury selection begins in the trial of james holmes, the man charged with the 2012 mass shooting at a colorado movie theater. and, connecting the classroom to promising careers in medicine and biotech. >> ifill: it is one of the few explicit tasks the u.s. constitution requires of each president-- regularly giving congress a sense of the state of the union. in the hours before his speech tonight, president obama sat down with a few of the people he plans to highlight.
and on republican-controlled capitol hill, newly minted senate leader mitch mcconnell called for bipartisan proposals. >> what i hope to hear from the president tonight is an emphasis on things that we can agree on. things that give us a chance to actually advance the agenda of the american people. i think any president in this situation has a choice: he can sort of act like he's still running for office, or he can focus on the things that we have a chance to reach an agreement on. >> ifill: political editor lisa desjardins is at the capitol where lawmakers are preparing for the president's address. lisa, you're up on the hill. you have been talking to people. we just heard mitch mcconnell said he hoped the president would step up and we also heard the president issue two veto threats today. what is the mood up there? >> i have to say there's a palpable lack of excitement for such an important occasion. i love these. this is a fascinating and
important part of american government. but there's a sense here of not only gridlock but incredible divide. from both democrats and republicans on and off the record, they all say no matter what the president proposes, it may be interesting you may agree or disagree, they don't think his proposals will go far, and that's led to a sense of low expectations and low excitement tonight, i have to say. >> ifill: let's talk about the expectations of the white house where they're determinedly upbeat about this, talking about closing the gap for the middle class. is that resonating on capitol hill? >> absolutely. of all the things the president plans to talk about, housing, education, there is only one topic anyone is talking about tonight and that is the tax plan the president is going to present to help the middle class. from the republicans' point of view, they say it's a shift in wealth. they say they were generally surprised and said this could hurt chances for tax reform. on the other hand, democrats have a sense they say of the president that they wanted to see this entire time.
one democrat said the president has been saddled with wars and recession and says now the president is freed of those burdens and being the democrat the democrats wanted to see all the time. >> ifill: but republicans are in control this time. you've covered the past state of the union. does it appear the republicans are in control tonight? >> it does. republicans are watching the speech, preparing the responses en masse. they are not happy with what the president has so far revealed and are putting it in a way they think compromise will be more difficult to get. who you blame is up to you. republicans are clearly blaming the president. >> ifill: lisa desjardins on the hill for us tonight. thank you. >> woodruff: we go now to the white house for a preview of the address from jennifer palmieri assistant to the president and director of communications. i spoke with her a short time ago.
millions of americans watching the president tonight. what's he saying he wants to get across the them? >> he's going to talk about the progress the president is making. they think the middle class will fight back. he wants to explain to the american public what we need to do to finish the job of closing the gap for middle class and deal with the problem of declining wages. so he would have and he referred to this as middle class economics that in contrast to trickle-down economics, that we believe the economy is not just about the upper-middle class, but the economy can't sustain itself. no matter how much you want it to, without a healthy middle class. you know, for purchasing power buying homes, et cetera this is stuff we do not just to help the middle class but to help build a
stronger economy overall so they'll have specific ideas of what he thinks the steps are that we need to make to do that. >> woodruff: what is his message to congressional republicans already out there saying this tax proposal to essentially raise some taxes on the very wealthy in order to give some tax credits to people with moderate income, they're saying this is a poke in the eye to republicans and it's going nowhere. >> so i think first of all in the state of the union the president's job is to present to the country these are the steps i think we need to take to face our biggest challenge which is helping stop this middle class slide. so he's not going to trim his sails about what that answer is because, you know, of what republicans may have said in advance of the speech, you know, that the answer is the answer. but what we would ask them to look at is look at the ideas. one of our revenue-raising ideas is something that the chairman
of the house, ways and means committee has supported. but moreover everyone wants to figure out how we can expand the middle class. these are ideas to help bring that about. it's in the interest of the economy overall to make the changes. this is not class warfare or pitting one side against each other. we need to make sure the middle class is succeeding. the economy won't thrive till that happens. >> woodruff: do you think there's a compromise reachable that isn't what the republicans call redistribution of wealth is >> we believe tax reform will be a part of what this congress is working on. we want to make sure -- we want to work with them on it, we want to work on tax reform in a way that helps the middle class. this is the opening the president is having with the
congress, almost. we want to make sure tat the middle class is part of that discussion and broaden it out so when congress is debating the these issues that they're looking at a full gamut of legislative options and not something particularly narrow. we'll start tonight and hope republicans will listen with an open ear and mind and we'll take it from there, but these are the steps the country needs to take in order to deal with this continued problem of inequality. so he's going to lay that out. these are the answer we believe we need to do. >> woodruff: well, we will all be listening here. jennifer palmieri, thank you. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: we go back to capitol hill for a republican take on state of the union. it comes from texas congressman mac thornberry, chair of the house armed services committee.
congressman thornberry, thank you very much for joining us. we just heard from jennifer palmieri, the white house communications director about the president's plan, among other things, to expand the economic b recovery so that it reaches more americans including working class middle class americans. why isn't that a worthy goal? >> well, it is certainly a worthy goal to grow the economy and expand the recovery so that everybody is included in it. but unfortunately, the president's proposal is not serious. it would have been the same as if george w. bush had come to congress in 2007 when the democrats had just taken control, and said, i propose a $320 billion tax cut. he knows that this congress will not consider it. so he's trying to make political points. really, we need a president who will rise above that sort of politics and really try to solve the problems that are facing this country, including anemic
economic growth. >> woodruff: what would you like to see done to expand this recovery to the middle class? >> well, a key thing that the regulations and the fear of government are holding down the recovery. businesses don't expand. part of that is obamacare. part of it is the blizzard of regulations e.p.a. and everybody else is sending our way. that makes it harder for businesses to grow and less likely jobs will be created. so you have this tremendous underemployment that's not reflected in the unemployment rate but it's lots of folks who would like a job or a better job and those opportunities are just not out there. >> woodruff: do you think there is common ground between where the president is and congressional republicans are? >> i think there could be. what comes to my mind is hope springs eternal. but as you know the president started this year by issuing a
series of veto threats. he comes and basically is poking his finger in the eye of the new congress. so i'm getting less -- i'm feeling more disillusioned, to tell you the truth that the president has any interest in working with congress. i think, as i say it's mainly about political point scoring. >> woodruff: finally, congressman as the new chairman of the house armed services committee, what are you going to be listening for from the president tonight when it comes to defense and foreign policy in this country? >> well, i would love to hear a strategy from the president that was adequate to meet the threats that we see around the world. just what's happened today in yemen, for example. again, i would really like to see a president who would sincerely say i want to work with congress to address these problems, whether it is cybersecurity or whether it's terrorism or the ukraine or what
china is doing, rather than just saying it and then not following up, we need someone who will say it and then follow up and really be a partnership because that's the only way we'll provide for our country's security or solve our other problems. these two branches of government have to work together and the president has to be the leader in that. >> woodruff: congressman mac thornberry chairman of the house armed services committee. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: how much of tonight's address will be about pomp and pageantry, but also about policy. presidents often present congress with a list of their priorities, which often do not always mesh with what lawmakers have in mind. so how much of it actually becomes law? political director domenico montanaro has been crunching the numbers. domenico, as the president lays out his plan for what it is he wants to do, what is it that we want to -- what is it that we see
happened? >> there were about 18 items that were proposals that he wanted congress the act on. just two of those things actually made it through congress, when you look at it. on job retraining and on increasing research funding. on increasing research funding too, a lot of people say well, it wasn't really that much of an increase because in the year end of the budget it only went up 1.7% which kept with inflation, so not much of an increase there. when you look at some of the items that were big-ticket items the president called for that didn't get addressed you look at things like universal pre-k raising the minimum-wage cutting oil and gas subsidies those and 13 other items didn't get through. now, the white house will say that there are plenty of other ways to go about getting action done, like executive action encouraging states and that the some of what you saw them roll out last year. >> which is what's making
everybody so unhappy on capitol hill. to be fair let's compare the this to how other presidents have done. the state of the union address yields actual policy and law? >> this is pretty much par for the course when you look at divided government. the only times you really see a lot that gets through is when presidents have big numbers. you look back to l.b.j. in 1965, his state of the union address with a lot of great society measurers, sure, a lot of those got through, but after that not much else from l.b.j. even. president obama in his first two years, earl, is when he had big numbers, he was able to get through healthcare, the stimulus, but beyond that it's much of what we've seen. >> ifill: and sometimes we were talking about small items not necessarily big ones. >> absolutely. everybody talks about president clinton and school uniforms and things like that. as lot of the smaller items that wind up getting pushed through.
i think job retraining is an important thing that the president and republicans were willing to work together on but some of the hoe-hanging freight is what for the most part in divided government outer able to get done. and there may be things like that tonight that the president is able to talk about on things like trade and cybersecurity, you will wait and see what the results are. >> ifill: i know you will be scrubbing the numbers tonight. domenico montanaro, thank you. >> woodruff: and now for some pre-speech analysis from shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. david, with the gloomy outlook we heard from domenico and congress then thornberry saying this is a poke in the eye, what can we hope to get accomplished? >> as you heard the administration talk about the speech, what's interesting to me is it's not that legislative. a little more rhetoric this year and less laundry list. they want to show the country that they get the middle class
and want to take credit for the economy. as for the policies, you can pick the six pieces of legislation most likely to pass or the six where your party has a 70-30 proposing advantage and put the other party in a difficult position. they're going for the 70-30. they're saying do we tax the rich and they're going to hit them with that try to score political points. >> ifill: senator leader mccome said today this would be the president's final act this speech tonight. is it? >> hardly his final act, gwen, but it is probably his last chance to set the agenda barring a crisis in 2016 because a year from now we'll be in the middle of the campaign weeks away from iowa caucuses, new hampshire primaries and the terms of the
debate will have been set. the president has a chance and i think is seizing it tonight to set the terps of debate not simply for 015 and the congress but for establishing the lack of opportunity, declining opportunity in this country for people across the board and income inequality and wealth inequality. mitt romney 2012, in his maiden speech launching hopes for 2016 talked about income inequality. the president speaks from a position of strength, a week in politics is a lifetime two weeks an eternity. his numbers are up and people feel better about him. >> ifill: we have the numbers. >> woodruff: the january numbers 46% average approval in the polls compared to 43% in december. only a little bit of a bump but
does something like that make a difference in what he can get done. >> it has an effect on the morale of the white house. we've had the ragan-clinton model where they go up, end high. the george bush model where they go down, the jimmy carter in the middle. he was looking like he's on the bush trajectory but he's in the middle now. it's about internal morale. i think they're feeling combative in the white house. they're not expecting to get a lot done. but the economy is picking up. you look at the rest of the world, we are in a strong economy. the structural problems are the same. no beheadings, putin hasn't done much, we've had a period of relative calm around the world. >> ifill: my favorite numbers are comparing this president's next to last state of the union speech to other ones. president bush was at 36% approval at this point in his term and bill clinton post
lewinsky was at 69%. so maybe it doesn't matter. >> post impeachment. remember this, gwen, bill clinton laid down the predicate that al gore carried the popular vote in 2000. in other words, because people were optimistic about the country and satisfied with his performance, the same thing, that growing optimism sets the terms of the 2016 election. judy's point about the 46%, 43 in december, i just point out he was at 40% for most of 2014. he was really down and it is a surge. we have fewer people dissatisfied with the economy now, more satisfied actually than anytime in the last nine years. so there is a sense of resurgent optimism. >> woodruff: we are so glad the two of you will join us for the special state of the union address tonight, 9:00 eastern on your local pbs staigs around throughout the evening online.
>> ifill: the president will be talking about foreign policy tonight as well, even as events continue to unfold abroad. the islamic state group released another hostage video today, threatening to kill two japanese nationals if hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom isn't paid later this week. jeffrey brown reports. >> brown: the threat came as japanese prime minister shinzo abe met separately with palestinian and israeli leaders in the middle east. a new video message warned islamic state militants will behead two japanese hostages in syria, unless tokyo pays a ransom. >> to the japanese public:
>> brown: the captives were identified as kenji goto, a freelance journalist, and haruna yukawa, who founded a private security firm. the ransom matched japan's pledge of $200 million in non- military aid to help iraq battle islamic state forces, and to aid syrian refugees. in jerusalem, prime minister abe would not say if his government will pay, but he did say that saving the hostages is the top priority. >> ( translated ): it is an unacceptable act to threaten us in exchange for human lives, and i feel angry about it. i strongly urge them to immediately release the hostages without harming them. >> brown: this appears to be the first time the islamic state has made a ransom demand public. u.s. officials say the family of james foley rejected a private demand for $130 million. foley, along with fellow americans peter kassig and steven sotloff were later beheaded. >> brown: joining me now is
author and 21-year c.i.a. veteran bob baer. his latest book is called "the perfect kill: 21 laws for assassins." let's start with the demand for money. if this is, in fact the first time it's been made so publicly, what do you make of that? >> well, i think the islamic state is suffering economically. i think they need the money. it's so-called oil sales have run out, especially with the price of oil down they're embattled and, you know, it's sort of well known in these circles that the french first started paying to get hostages out. the french set a price and, in fact, the hostages were released. subsequently various n.g.o.s, nonprofit organizations also paid ransoms and there's been a precedent and the islamic state needs money. >> brown: in this case, clearly no coincidence between the demand pore the same amount the japanese are giving for non-military aid?
>> exactly. i think it's wild the japanese have offered the aid to iraq. most of what they offered to iraq simply because iraq is in a war with the sunni and shia and the japanese are so slow to get involved in those conflicts and are take getting involved. >> brown: how unusual is it to see i.s. targeting a country like japan. have we seen anything like that? >> i have never seen the islamic state target non-combative states. there may with some n.g.o.s they traded for money but generally they're after american citizens, french, anybody who's bombing them, those are their preferred hostages. so going after the japanese -- well there's another side to this, of course, and they've probably run out of hostages as well to trade, so they've moved down the list to the japanese.
>> brown: what do we know about the experience of deal with or negotiating with i.s. based on these other examples? >> i'm in touch with people who have negotiated with the islamic state and they've said frankly, these people have dealt with hamas al quaida, been in somalia for years and they've never seen a group that is more paranoid -- they use the word psychotic -- unpredictable. but they followed through and released hostages when they were paid money. also, it's interesting, if the islamic state is using encrypted email to negotiate, so they're very conscious of not leaving a trail behind. >> brown: we heard that voice of the i.s. kidnapper, a familiar voice, i think, with a british accent. >> yeah, it's jihadi john. i realize the f.b.i. director has said they know who it is.
on the other hand i've heard law enforcement people in washington tell me they still haven't identified him and are not quite sure. so i'm not quite sure what his true name is but that's certainly the same accent. all these hostage-takers by the way, are foreigners, mostly western europeans, and, of course, they would be able to speak english to the japanese hostages. >> brown: what do your sources tell you about how organized these kidnappings are in these ransom offers? individuals factions or well organized by group? >> think they they just belong to their wing of the islamic state. there's no evidence that these people are freelancing it. you know, it's a policy decision made by the supreme leader of the islamic state, abu bakr al-baghdadi. so they know what they're doing. for a while they thought the islamic state is on a charm offensive, but that's clearly
not true and it's possible if the demands are not met in the next 72 hours that they will execute them. >> brown: and briefly, you said they think they need more money, that would suggest more kidnappings and more ransom. >> i think there are more kidnappings going on than we know of, for instance iraqis or syrians, private negotiations they're getting money for. all the oil income coming out of iraq is going to the government of baghdad or the kurds, and they're up to 4 million barrels. so the sunni whether the islamic state or tribes in the al-anbar province are feeling an economic pinch in addition to the bombings, of course. >> brown: robert baer. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: it was a day of decisions and arguments at the u.s. supreme court. justices ruled in favor of an arkansas prisoner who wanted to grow a beard for religious
reasons but had been barred from doing so because of prison rules. and, the justices heard a case that could unravel state laws around the country regarding judicial candidates soliciting campaign donations. we are joined now by newshour contributor marcia coyle of the national law journal. marcia, let's talk first about this unanimous decision having to do with the case we just described, a prisoner in arkansas who wanted to grow a beard. >> right. >> woodruff: he ease a muslim. tell us about this. >> right. gregory holt claimed the no beard policy by arkansas violated his right under a federal law known as the religious land use and institutionalized person act of 2000 and that act prohibits the government from substantially burdening an institutionalized person's religious expression unless the government chooses the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling government
interest. arkansas defended its policy in the supreme court saying it had two compelling interests. it wanted to cut back on the hiding of contraband within beards. it also wanted to ensure quick identification of prisoners who might by growing beards alter their appearance and get into forbidden areas of a prison. justice alito wrote for a unanimous supreme court today and said the kurt doesn't really question the compelling interests but the problem was that arkansas did not choose the least restrictive means here to achieve them. for example the contraband issue, he said it's very hard to believe that a prisoner could hide contraband like razor blade in a half-inch beard. he said they allowed prisoners
to grow hair long and searched the hair, why not do it with beards. then on the quick identification of prisoners, he said why not a before and after photograph that you can use? so it's a very straightforward opinion. >> woodruff: and, again, unanimous. >> yes. i'd like to point out 43 states and the federal government allow beards on prisoners, some even longer than a half inch. >> woodruff: let me ask you about something else. the court also heard an argument today in a florida case involving campaign contributions to candidates for judicial office. tell us about the argument. >> okay. this was a challenge under the first amendment by a woman who had run for a county court seat and she lost. she was challenging the florida bar -- or actually it's the judicial ethics rule, defended by the florida bar, that prohibit judicial candidates from directly soliciting contributions in their campaigns. but the rule allows the judicial
candidate to create a candidate committee to solicit those contributions under the candidate's name and also allows the candidate to write thank you notes for contributions. so in the arguments today, the court appeared divided over what to do here. a very similar divide to all of its campaign finance cases recently. on the one hand you had chief justice roberts basically saying, look when a state makes a fundamental decision to elect its judges, it's putting them into the political fray, and election speeches at the core of first amendment protection. then, on the other hand, you had some of the court's more liberal justices like justice breyer and sotomayor saying they aren't like other political offices. judicial candidates are supposed to be neutral andism parable. so you saw the divide playing
out as the florida bar defended the rules saying we're trying to eliminate the direct link between the judicial candidate and the contributor. that is a link that creates either the appearance or actual corruption, and it diminishes public confidence in the judiciary. >> woodruff: quickly, what piece of the constitution is at play here? >> this is the first amendment. like i said election speech, even if it involves money, is at the core of first amendment protections. >> woodruff: one other short thing i want to mention, marcia, we know the justices declined to hear a number of quick cases today but a number involve the story we've done on the "newshour" involving so-called burn pits in war zones and iraq and afghanistan where chemicals are used and the troops have experienced aftereffects of breathing in from these burn pits. >> right. >> woodruff: this mean class action suits, as i understand it, can go forward. >> a large number of suits were
filed by u.s. military servicemembers who claimed injury due to exposure to the chemicals and the toxic fumes coming out of the open-air burn pits. the supreme court declined review. it was an appeal brought by the contractor who operated the burn pits, kellogg brown & root, and by declining that appeal, which the obama administration also said to the court declined the appale, it left in place a federal appellate court decision saying, look, these claims should go forward. the district court dismissed them too quickly. there wasn't enough evidence in the record for the district court to dismiss them. so the process we call discovery will go forward on the claims. the people bringing them live to fight another day. >> woodruff: interesting marcia coyle. thank you. >> my pleasure, judy. >> ifill: now a colorado court tackles the job of picking a
jury for one of the deadliest mass shootings in u.s. history. the process began today, two and a half years after the killings in a crowded movie theater outside denver. it was july 20, 2012. a midnight screening of a batman movie, when a gunman opened fire at this theater in aurora. 12 people died and another 70 were wounded. >> it was just chaos. you saw injured people you saw there was this one guy on all fours crawling. there was this girl spitting up blood. there were bullet holes in some people's backs, some people's arms. >> ifill: james holmes was arrested minutes later in the parking lot, wearing a gas mask, helmet and body armor. today, the scene shifted to the arapahoe county courthouse. the 27-year-old defendant sat quietly with his defense team, as the court began screening
7,000 potential jurors-- a painstaking process that could last until late may or early june. holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and explosives charges. his defense attorneys argue he was in the throes of a psychotic episode that night. if holmes is convicted, he could face the death penalty. but if jurors accept his defense, he'll be committed to a state mental hospital indefinitely. for more on the beginning of what is sure to be a lengthy trial, we are joined by mary maccarthy of "feature story news." she was in the courtroom today. mary maccarthy, how are they going about narrowing down or finding an impartial jury in such a notorious case? is. >> they're doing it by making history. they sent out a total of 9,000 jury summonses. with we found out the initial group was whittled down already
to 7,000 because 2,000 of the people who received summonses either had a connection to the case or the summons was undeliverable. the judge said today he hopes that of those 7,000 they will actually have to call in or see in the courtroom somewhere between 3,000 and $3,800 and, from that whittle the group down to between 100 and 120. from that they will find 24 jurors who they hope can serve on this. 12 actual jurors, 12 alternates. so again, people who can give up many months of their life. they're saying the actual trial proper will start in may or june and easily go until october. a prosecution lawyer talking about scheduling issues in the courtroom today raised the issue of some dates in october and nobody batted and eyelid. so we're looking at a trial that could easily take up much of
2015. >> ifill: james holmes was in the courtroom today. you've seen him before in this settle. we've just seen pictures of the orange hair and kind of wild eyes. what was he like today? >> dramatically different today. we don't have video coming out of the croom because the televised hearings will begin with the hearings proper, not the jury selection. so coming out of the courtroom today we only have sketches but when i walked into the courtroom like many of the media there, at first we didn't realize one of the people sitting with the defense team was the suspect himself because he looked so different. in the past, he's always been wearing the prison garb the bright orange, whereas today he was in street clothes, a nice sports jacket, dress shirt, khakis. he had nice burgundy-colored, dark glasses and he looked very spruced up. there was also a dramatic difference in his demeanor.
for the first time i've seen him he didn't look dazed, he didn't look sort of out of it. he looked attentive, engaged. in fact, he was chatting with one of the lead defense lawyers tamara brady, sitting next to him, and sort of laughing and light hearted, not in a distinctful way, but looking relaxed for the first time in the courtroom. >> ifill: he has admitted to the shooting but is claiming insanity. how does this case compare to other mass shooting trials we've seen in. >> this is very rare. as we now, mass shootings are quite common, according to the f.b.i., about 16 per year. this is one where both the mag tod of the victims, it was 12 people killed ant another 58 seriously injured, even thor jared beyond that, but 58 people suffering from serious injuries, and it's simply rare the shooter
survives. many are comparing it to the boston marathon bombing case because the crimes affected a huge community in which the perpetrator survived. as we know, in most shootings, the assailant is either shot by police or turns the gun on himself. >> ifill: certainly that was the case in columbine which cast a shadow over this case. >> that's right. it's important to note in colorado even though the mass shootings are happening everywhere, both the columbine high school shooting in 1999 and the aurora theater shooting in 2012 are things that stand out for the community here. there has been solidarity among the victims helping each other out, the families even joining causes with many of them working towards things like gun control, better treatment for mental illness. but i can say as a long-time resident of colorado both of these shootings have cast a pallor over our state is something that's coming to mind
for the victims as they have to deal with this process now perhaps another eight months or longer of the trial being in the headlines every day is going to raise a lot of of painful memories for them. >> ifill: mary maccarthy feature story news, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight one of the perpetual challenges facing educators is finding way to make school relevant in the lives of students. a school in oakland, california has found success by designing lessons making those links much closer between the classroom and the working world. the newshour's april brown reports as part of our "american graduate" project, a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. >> reporter: this is probably not the kind of lesson you'd expect high school students to be getting.
>> reporter: learning side-by- side with emergency medical technicians in-training about how to deliver a baby. >> you want to make sure the shoulder doesn't get caught. >> reporter: administering cpr-- the best way to apply a tourniquet, and how to check a patient's blood pressure getting a grasp on the basics of the medical profession is a large part of the curriculum at life academy of health and bio- science, a sixth-through-12th grade public school in east oakland, one of the poorest sections in the city. >> 91% of our kids are lcff or free and reduced lunch. all students of color and most of their families have been educated up to about sixth grade. >> reporter: preston thomas is the principal at life academy which was founded in 2001 with the goal of preparing low-income and minority students for health science careers.
the school uses an educational approach often found in more affluent districts known as linked learning. the model integrates academics with career-based training and a workplace environment. >> we have kids that go to every major hospital in oakland and they are starting to take some of the real world practical skills that they are learning on the internships but also the things that we're talking about in class and they are starting to synthesize that into the vision that they see for themselves. >> reporter: the nearly 500 students here pick one of three career pathways: medicine, mental health or biotechnolgy. many of them, including jorge ruiz, complete a two-and a half year internship with children's hospital in oakland, rotating through different departments. and taking field trips to places like fast response, where they learned about what happens during childbirth. ruiz, a senior, is already using his training outside the classroom, helping his mom take care of his two sisters.
>> my two older sisters are both disabled, my oldest her name is stephanie she has cerebral palsy my second older sister liliana has cerebral palsy quadriplegia which also comes along with asthma, scoliosis, epilepsy she feeds through a g-tube. >> reporter: in addition to the linked learning approach, life academy also created a student- centered learning environment, which means the school work is collaborative, challenging relevant, and connected to real life situations. >> when he was deported, i never really had a chance to say goodbye. happened in the morning when he was going off to work. the stories that he was pulled over and they took him.
>> when you engage kids into what's happening now it's more real and live and makes them excited about politics rather than talking about something three years ago i developed in my teaching. >> it's health careers that struck pearnl cord with junior. >> my mom is an alcoholic and she's been an alcoholic for her whole life and she's been hospitalized. i would love to help people who struggle with that, too. >> the studies have shown linked learning and student-centered learning can improve achievement, the challenges of everyday life can be difficult to deal weather. that's why the teachers serve as advisors that stay with students their whole career at life academy helping them overcome educational and personal obstacles. annie hatch teaches humanities and english and is andrea sigala's advisor. >> so advisory is the place where we support them with
everything else you know academics but all the interpersonal social family stuff as well, and i just think this is a place where she's felt comfortable expressing her struggles and also i think she feels really supported by her classmates and her teachers. >> reporter: students like sigala were admitted to life academy through an open enrollment lottery, and like other oakland schools, its financial support comes largely from district funds however, results here have been remarkable in a city where only half of african american and latino students graduate from high-school and even fewer enroll in college. >> so students are being prepared for college and career together, they are seeing the value of the core content, in the past we've had two tracks you can be college prep or you can be career and that was auto shop or home ec or things like that but now we're talking about really preparing kids for professional careers where the two are integrated. >> reporter: diane friedlander is a senior researcher at stanford university, she recently oversaw a study on life academy, the report showed that among oakland's public high
schools, life academy has the second highest rate of graduates who go on to attend four-year universities. that, friedlander believes, is because the school makes the benefits of learning clear to students, even though all the options in a regular school, like sports and a many electives aren't offered here. but now that i know what i want to do, i know that i want to be a doctor somewhere in the medical field, i don't miss it as much. >> reporter: the stanford report also notes two other elements that have helped students succeed here -- engaging parents and building partnerships within the community. life academy holds weekly meetings for parents to get updates on how their kids are doing and has several health and biotech businesses and oakland is participating providing
internships and career counseling to students. shanta ramdeholl manages the student internship program at children's hospital, she says working with young people from the oakland area not only give students an idea about future careers, and it may also grow a more diverse workforce of local caregivers. >> if we don't do it, it's a missed opportunity, and by giving these kids that opportunity, we know we've opened their eyes. just imagine for doctors who go on to medical school, what these kids are doing today, it takes two years in medical school before they would start shadowing medical providers or doing certain things that these students are doing today so it opens up a new world for them. >> those cool ideas can definitely and should definitely be replicated in other places, but to take it as a cookie cutter model únd put it down in another site won't work. there won't be ownership that will be connected to the
community. >> reporter: in east oakland. principal thomas found these opportunities are motivating kids to continue their education to they can get the jobs they really want. >> we really want students and families to have the opportunities to attend colle >> we really want students and families to have the opportunity to attend college and not just, "you've qualified for it," but that you could really succeed at it and make it through those four years of college which are really rigorous and really challenging for students that don't have any framework for understanding what college is going to be like because they are the first. and the city of oakland recently approved a measure that will help create more linked learning opportunities in its schools in the next ten years. for the pbs "newshour" april brown in oakland, california. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: president obama prepares to lay out his view of the state of the union. in excerpts released early, he will say america is turning the page after years of war and
recession. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, full analysis of the president's address to the nation. i'm gwen ifill >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern for special newshour coverage of the state of the union. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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