tv PBS News Hour PBS October 2, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> sreenivasan: good evening, i'm hari sreenivasan. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight... >> it was an act of pure evil. >> sreenivasan: a massacre in las vegas. more than 50 killed and 500 injured after a gunman opens fire on a concert crowd in the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history. also ahead, rebuilding from nothing-- millions of puerto ricans tackle the long road to recovery amid a political firestorm and little-to-no aid. plus, our series, "america addicted"-- tonight: we travel to west virginia where the opioid crisis has taken hold of one city, shattering its way of life. >> the level of addiction is beyond anyone's comprehension. i have never known anything that was so all-consuming.
>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping 6people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: investigators in las vegas are searching for answers tonight. the main question: what drove a barrage of bullets that left at least 58 dead, another low point in the annals of american killings. william brangham begins our coverage.
>> brangham: it was an evening of country music in las vegas, fans recording the scene with cell phones. ( gunfire ) then, the rapid fire of gunshots. there was momentary confusion as country music singer jason aldean ran off the stage. >> aldean left the stage and then everybody started fleeing. and we started fleeing. we had to hop a gate to get out. it was crazy. i've never seen anything like that in my life. >> brangham: for approximately 10 minutes, bullets rained down on the crowd of 22,000 people. some ducked for cover, some tried to shield loved ones. others ran for shelter in nearby hotels on the famed strip. the gunman had taken up position on the 32nd floor of the nearby mandalay bay hotel and had a clear view of the open concert down below.
police scrambled to identify his position, amid the chaos. >> we got shots fired, sounded like an automatic firearm. >> we have an active shooter, we have an active shooter inside the fairgrounds. >> i see the shots coming from mandalay bay, halfway up. >> one suspect down inside the room. zebra 20 has one suspect down inside the room. >> brangham: the suspect, who was found by a swat team, was identified as stephen paddock. a 64 year old from nearby mesquite, nevada. police say he shot himself as they approached. there are reports he had as many as 19 rifles. sheriff joseph lombardo says paddock had no known criminal background. >> we have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory. the only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago and that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system. >> brangham: investigators also searched paddock's home, and appealed to the public for information and video from the
shooting. but, the sheriff would not speculate on motive. >> i can't get into the mind of a psychopath at this point. >> brangham: in orlando, florida, the gunman's brother said paddock was "not a normal guy," and that he frequently played high stakes video poker. >> i used to fix thing for a living and my job was to find the answers and this is like what? its like an asteroid fell out of the sky. >> brangham: as news of the tragedy spread, many in las vegas joined long lines to donate blood for the wounded. and condolences poured in from across the country: singer jason aldean posted on his instagram this morning, saying: "tonight has been beyond horrific... it hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night." other country music stars who performed at the festival also sent out words of sympathy flags across the country were lowered to half staff, and president trump called for unity. >> we pray for the entire nation
to find unity and peace, and we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. may god bless the souls of the lives that are lost. may god give us the grace f healing, and may god provide the grieving families with strength to carry on. >> brangham: later, the president and first lady, vice president and mrs pence, and white house staff observed a moment of silence on the south lawn. the mayor of orlando also offered support. last year, 49 people died in a nightclub shooting in his city, what had been the worst mass shooting in modern u.s. history, until last night. >> when i first heard the news this am our hearts sank and it immediately took me back to the events of last years. >> brangham: the las vegas attack also re-opened the gun control debate. in a letter to house speaker paul ryan, minority leader nancy
pelosi called for republicans to take up gun control legislation. and outside the capitol, former arizona congresswoman gabby giffords, who was shot by a gunman in 2011, spoke alongside her husband, mark kelly. >> we've been working toovercome this with the resources we have, accept this as public health issue, come up with responsible solutions. >> brangham: at the white house this afternoon, spokeswoman sarah sanders said it's much too early to get into the gun issue. >> i haven't spoken to the president about that specific issue, i don't think that that. again before we start trying to talk about the preventions of what took place last night we need to know more facts and we simply are not at that point. >> brangham: a house committee has already approved a bill making it easier to purchase silencers for guns and to relax other gun restrictions. there's no word on when it might come to the floor for a vote. for pbs newshour, i'm william brangham. >> sreenivasan: let's stay in
nevada for more on the response ruben kihuen also represents part of the city of las vegas. the hospital, around 3, 4 o:00 in the morning. you know, right in the middle of the disaster that we saw last night. and you know, i walked in and i got a tour. and let me just say this, that i have never seen anything like this in my life before, not even in movies. every single bed was taken. almost every single hallway was occupied with a bed. every single emergency room was filled with multiple people. and every single doctor, every single nurse, every single paramedic was doing everything possible to save lives. and so i just want to say thank you to all the first responders, to the law enforcement and also to the doctors and nurses who are still right now at this moment still saving lives, and
to everyone who has been very generous in donating blood here in our community. we're very grateful to each and every one of you within you were also at the command center today where there was the coordination of different agencies. describe that for us, how many different people, how many different groups working on figuring out the background or the details on how we came to this event? >> yeah, so this is the fusion center where local, state and federal law enforcement agencies came together since early this morning to strategize on the best response possible. we have the fbi, the dea, las vegas metro police, the fire department, north las vegas police, henderson police, elected officials, the governor, the attorney general and so on and so on. and let may just say this, i am so proud of the work that they did, especially law enforcement, within minutes that this shooter came out and caused chaos, they
had the situation contained. so i want to say thank you to all the law enforcement who risked their lives to protect us and to save so many lives. and also again to the doctors who are right now working tireilessly, many of them who haven't slept in almost 24 hours, trying to save lives. >> sreenivasan: were any of the hotels that are on the strip rethinking security tonight in light of what happened? >> look, the hotels have always been very secure. las vegas has always been a very safe place, today reassured me that we continue being a safe place because we saw our law enforcement come together, contain a situation that again in many ways would have been very hard to predict it was going to happen. you know, this gentleman out of nowhere, you know, was able to obtain weapons, take them up to a hotel room and cause this horrific incident. and so again, i am very thankful
that law enforcement acted very quickly, very swiftly and were able to contain the situation. but you know, las vegas has always been a strong city. we will recover from this and we're going to continue being the entertainment capitol of the world and we're going to continue being the safe city that we've always been. >> congressman ruben see wen, thank you for join ux tonight. >> sreenivasan: let's stay in nevada for more on the response to the attack and how the community is coping. heidi swank is the state assemblywoman for that district in las vegas where the shooting happened. she's been at donation centers today to help victims of the shooting. i spoke with her a short time ago. ms. swak, you've been able to speak to your constituents today, give us the rang of reactions they've been having. >> of course there is a lot of shock, a lot of disbelief. a lot of us who live in las vegas really embrace the idea that we have this very special piece of real estate called the las vegas strip that makes up
such a large part of our community. i did spend the morning with a lot of my constituents at a blood bank making sure we had an outpouring of folks with concern and worry for everyone that was injured on the strip today. over 500 people at the location i was at, wanting to give blood. >> sreenivasan: tell us a little bit about that. i saw some of your tweets. the lines looks incredibly long, they were almost running out of orange juice in some places. >> yeah, i think that there was a huge outpouring across the entire valley. it is a very tight knit community and we really do embrace our tourists. and a lot of us do spend a lot of time at shows on the las vegas strip so i think this was very important to folks. at the location i was at we had more than enough juice and food and water and people were bringing lunch when i was leaving. so there was definitely a huge outpouring both on the behalf of businesses bringing in goods for folks waiting in line, as well as hundreds of people waiting in line to give blood this morning. >> sreenivasan: is there
anything new you're learning from perhaps communications that you are in with authorities about the shooter or how he did this? >> you know, from what i have heard, i mean we've really been kind of stepping back and letting the authorities get the work done that they need to get done today. and i've been really just focusing on what the needs of my constituents are. from what i have heard is that it seems very surprising that this man from mesquite, nevada, traveled to las vegas and committed this horrendous crime. i think we're all looking for answers at this point and hoping that, we just need to give police time to find those answers for all of us. >> sreenivasan: is there anything that could have been done to prevent this? >> you know, i think that is the question that always comes up whenever there is any of these mass shootings. i think that looking at our gun laws, it's always something that we should eternally be doing. that we need to just make sure that we're finding a good balance between safety and
allowing people's freedoms to still keep their freedom. but i think that we should eternally be having these discussions. not just when something horrendous happens although it does seem that is when most of us take that up again. >> sreenivasan: heidi swank of the nevada state assembly, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much. >> sreenivasan: just a short time ago, the clark county sheriff reported that investigators found 18 additional firearms and explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at the suspect's home. for that we turn to jeffrey swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at duke university school of medicine, who has written widely on the subject of violence and mental illness. and security expert russ simons. he is managing partner at venue solutions group- a facility management firm near nashville. let me start with you, this is not someone who, i guess, fits the profile of what we have come to expect. this is not a lone gunman, a young man that stuck to himself.
>> well, what an absolutely heartbreaking day this is for all the family members and the loved ones of, of those who died but it is also a soul searching day for the entire country. as we look into our society and ask ourselves yet again, why did this happen. and how did it happen, and what could we have done, anyone, to prevent it. there are two parts to that question, and one of courseeis what you are eluding to and that is can we predict the behavior of someone without would be inclined to do such a horrible thing. that's the profile of someone like that. and the problem with that is that the risk factors for mass shooting are many and they interact with each other an they're nonspecific. they tend to apply to many more people who are not going to do this, and then who do. that's a very, very difficult thing to do. the other part of the question, of course, is if we assume that we may always have some people like this, for whatever motive,
it's very hard to fathom, what could we do to limit the harm, to limit the damage and the mayhem that occurred today. >> sreenivasan: russ simons you think about that for a living, you think about how to design venues that are safer. what possibly could have been done to keep this from becoming as soft a target as it was. >> there are situations that occur every day around the world. in fact, three significant terror incidents on sunday that have show now because of the magnitude of what we faced yesterday, have just kind of gone unnoticed. but the industry that secures public assembly facilities, fairs, festivals and special events is working tireilessly and has for the last 17 years to not only recognize and understand the incidents that occur, but also collaborate with first responders and other resources to make sure that we're training in a way so that we can react to the unexpected things that occur like yesterday. >> sreenivasan: russ simons, staying with you for a second.
thinking about someone at a high vantage point and shooting people below, this happened 50 years ago at the university of texas. how do you protect against that? >> it is something as a vulnerability, as you said, since 1966. everyone is aware of that. what will happen is the analysis of this event is we'll look at how that expresses itself into our vulnerabilities. we'll look at ways to mitigates no risks and react to that. it is not a check a box and be done situation. we're going to be under constant pressure to make sure that we're staying a breast of the situations that we face and that we're flexible or adaptable enough to change to the circumstances that we face in the future. >> sreenivasan: jeffrey swanson alot of people point to mental illness as the cause of this sort of violence but you study this for a living. give us the correlation between violence and mental illness. >> we like to point to mental illness as some kind of master explanation. but the truth of the matter is a mass shooting is really atypical of most people with serious mental illness, the vast majority of whom are not
violent, never will be. the vast majority of the perpetrators of gun crimes all over this country, a hundred people, probably today, will lose their lives result of a gunshot, those people, typically, do not have mental illness, with the exception of those who have suicide. so you know, mental illness is-- it is important, it is not the place you start from a population, public health perspective, to try to address our problem with violented behavior. >> sreenivasan: mr. simons coming back to you, what have we learned in previous event, it seems in the past couple of years, across europe, we have seen different types of soft target, different types of attack thes. what is law enforcement now keeping in mind even in something as simple as staging a concert? >> well, information and collaboration, sharing of intelligence is critical. i would say that one of the key learnings from this is that all of us are personally responsible for our own safety. our situational awareness, understand wag could happen in these circumstances, particularly in an unexpected environment. and that we have to take note of
what is going on around us. we can't just treat, see something, say something as a convenient phrase. we have a responsibility to actually contribute to the solution. and all of us are better than any one of us. so in this regard we should take those responsibilities seriously. >> sreenivasan: jeffrey swanson, put if also in perspective for us if you could, guns and violence in the way that the cdc looks at it. >> well, if you look at the cdc statistics and lack at this from a public health point of view, 36,000 people die every area as a result of a gunshot t is a very difficult problem in our society because we have a lot of guns. they're embedded in our culture, they're constitutionally protected, their right to own a fire arm. and so it's a difficult problem. gun control in our country is really about people control after the heller decision but there are things we could do, we could have better country teria for limiting the purchase of a gun by people who are really risky.
the criteria we have now are probably too broad and too narrow at the same time. we could also have a legal tool that would give law enforcement officers clear legal authority to actually remove fire arms from people who are known to be risky and dangerous. with due process protections, and we could do things to try to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking in this country. this is not a one thing problem. it is not a one thing solution. and i think it's going to take a long time am but we need to think about there very broadly. >> sreenivasan: russ simons, when you work in one injures diction to the next, there are different sets of rules, across state lines on who can carry, how they can carry, what type of weapons. how does law enforcement deal with that challenge or even in creating a venue, okay, these are the type of people i will have at this concert, these are the different issues. >> you are correct, every injures diction is different. there are some commonalities and what we learn in those can be shared but ultimately you have to understand the situation on the ground and move to mitigate any risks.
threats, risks, vulnerabilities are the key to identifying to how we would respond. >> sreenivasan: jeff swanson, russ simons, thank you both. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: in the day's other news, federal prosecutors began making their case in washington against ahmed abu khattala. he's the alleged organizer of the attack on american outposts in benghazi, libya. the 2012 assault killed four americans, including ambassador chris stevens. abu khattala was captured by u.s. special forces three years ago. in opening statements today, prosecutors charged he was motivated by a hatred of america that boiled over. another trial began today in malaysia for two women accused of killing kim jong nam. he was the half brother of north korean leader kim jong un. the women were escorted into court amid tight security. they pleaded not guilty to poisoning kim with a nerve agent, at an airport terminal in kuala lumpur. north korea has denied any role in the killing. in spain, crowds protested in barcelona today, after widespread police violence
during sunday's independence referendum. almost 900 civilians, and more than 400 police, were injured in catalonia. jonathan rugman, of independent television news, is there. >> reporter: police intervention at polling stations left hundreds injured yesterday. catalan nationalists are now trying to capitalize on this violence to get europe to intervene to achieve the independence they want. >> ( translated ): the situation needs mediation and the mediation as i've said is the presence of a third party. and it must be an international actor in order to be effective. >> reporter: but the catalan leader knows he's likely to be disappointed. after the european commission said the vote was illegal and urged both sides to talk. despite jubilation in barcelona last night, just 42% of the catalonian electorate voted,
though it was overwhelmingly for the keys to their own state. the catalan authorities say that the confiscation of ballot boxes and the closing of polling stations meant that three- quarters of a million votes could not be counted. madrid has refused to apologize for what happened yesterday. the prime minister said the state had responded firmly. his government has threatened to suspend local autonomy if independence goes ahead. >> ( translated ): there has been no referendum on self- determination in catalonia. all spaniards have seen that the rule of law is still strong and in force, that it responds to those who breach it. >> reporter: there seems to be no dialogue to avert a crisis here. no mediation that we know of. a general strike has been called for tomorrow. and independence could be declared within days. >> sreenivasan: that report from
jonathan rugman, of independent television news. three american scientists will share this year's nobel prize for medicine. jeffrey hall, michael rosbash, and michael young won for isolating a gene that controls the body's biological rhythms. young works at rockefeller university in new york city. he says the news completely took him by surprise. >> i really had trouble even getting my shoes on this morning. i go and i'd pick up the shoes and then i'd realize i need the socks and then i realize i need to put my pants on first. but you know you get here and see all this and i guess you realize it must be true. >> sreenivasan: the americans' work has helped researchers study sleep disorders, and has raised awareness about the health benefits of sleep. the interior department's inspector general is now investigating secretary ryan zinke's use of chartered flights. he acknowledged last week that he's taken three such flights, including one that cost $12,000.
health secretary tom price resigned over his use of numerous chartered flights. and on wall street today, record highs all around. the dow jones industrial average gained 152 points to close at 22,557. the nasdaq rose more than 20 points, and the s&p 500 added nine. still to come on the newshour: the daunting task of rebuilding puerto rico. our politics monday team on the president's response to the las vegas shooting, and much more. >> sreenivasan: president trump is planning to visit puerto rico tomorrow. it will be nearly two weeks since the island was devastated by hurricane maria. puerto rico's governor said today that supplies of fuel and other needs is picking up. but as our special correspondent monica villamizar reports many residents don't see much progress yet, and are struggling with the very basics.
>> the hurricane started. it ripped up from here first. >> reporter: kevin montalban is just one of thousands of puerto ricans who lost everything, when hurricane maria tore across this island 13 days ago. he hunkered down and tried to wait out the storm, here, with his 12-year-old son, in this room. >> we were right here, my son and i, when it happened. and it happened just in the wink of an eye. when we heard the¡ wwshhhccchhh,' we jumped over here. and we stood like this. and i'm like ¡stay back. stay back.' and i have him here cupped in here. cupped in here. and we stood in here. he was hiding there with his feet out. and i was standing there blocking him. >> reporter: was he scared? terrified? >> he was terrified. >> reporter: almost two weeks later, his hillside community in central puerto rico still looks like this. the road has caved in. power and phone service: non- existent. neighbors remain in wait of any assistance. his uncle, ceferino gonzalez, said that we were the first
outsiders he'd seen there since the storm. >> ( translated ): no one has come to help us. that's why i'm so mad. if we hadn't been here, my daughter and granddaughter would be homeless. i had to clear all the trees and debris myself. no one helped. >> reporter: we've been driving around puerto rico and its incredible to see that a paradise island was reduced to this. everything you see is dead trees, downed power lines, and endless lines to get gas. it will be an enormous challenge to rebuild. over the weekend, we joined lieutenant general jeffrey s. buchanan, in his first aerial tour of the damage. he was named on thursday to lead all military efforts in response to the storm. an appointment that many welcomed, but said had come a week too late. why that week, that whole week that lapsed? i mean this is part of the u.s. >> so, it is, absolutely. we've had elements here on the ground since the 4th of september. and they were here at first for irma. sometimes we don't know what's
going to happen until the storm actually hits. and this is the worst i've ever seen. >> reporter: this is the worst you've ever seen? >> it is. >> reporter: on the island's east coast, buchanan receives a briefing from marines, deployed there for days, in a hangar without power or cell phone reception. >> what's great about, you know, the marine corps being here and working with the local population is that these are americans. we're normally, you know a warfighting organization. so we have all this heavy equipment that normally are abroad doing engineering type efforts. but now we can bring those to a u.s. territory and help local americans. >> reporter: general buchanan says the biggest challenges now, are electricity, fuel and transportation. >> some things, especially the electrical grid, are going to take a long time. i'm not an electrician. you know. but i know it's going to take a long time. and right now, you know where we're having the biggest problems, are in the interior of the island. and it's because of roads. we obviously need to get all the roads cleared so we can get supplies to the people who desperately need them. >> reporter: and he is avoiding getting caught up in the political storm. or commenting on the president's
tweets, criticizing the san juan mayor and local puerto ricans. >> i'm not a republican. i'm not a democrat. i'm not a member of the blue party, i'm not a member of the green party. i'm a soldier. and i'm here to help people. >> reporter: many organizations have come here to help. but the task remains daunting in meanwhile, millions of puerto ricans remain without water. food is still limited. basic services, like reliable power, and phone service, non- existent. kevin montalban had not talked to his mother in 13 days. she is 70-years-old and lives in boston, massachusetts. he is now living in a school- turned-shelter, run by local authorities. it is far enough inland where the military has not yet arrived, and they are still waiting on power, water, phone service, and trash collection. on a hilltop in his neighborhood, we lend him our satellite phone, to call his mother for the first time, and let her know that he is alive.
>> i miss you. >> reporter: in total, the call lasts less than five minutes. >> she said that she hasn't slept since maria. and that she's just been worried. she thought that i was dead. she's been calling news stations. she said she called cbs yesterday. she called nbc boston. she's been calling everybody, and nobody could get in touch with me. but she's happy. she's happy and she said she's going to pray right now. >> reporter: but for now, he remains sheltered in the school, with neighbors like lydia martinez and reynaldo torres, a
couple from the countryside. >> ( translated ): oh my god! all of puerto rico is destroyed. with all the trees and cables that fell, it's a disaster. >> ( translated ): the avocados, the mangoes every crop is gone. but we have to keep faith that god will provide. birds will plant the seeds. >> reporter: since the storm, montalban now lives with little more than his son's asthma medicine, a few changes of clothes, and a prayer. >> the first thing i grabbed, besides my son, was the bible. >> reporter: there are thousands of others across this island who lost everything. back in his community, neighbors were already back at work, fixing their homes. >> we will get out of this. puerto ricans always do. we will. we will build again. even if we don't get no help. as you hear, people are building again. >> reporter: but as it stands, the road to recovery will be a long one.
for the pbs newshour, i'm monica villamizar, in cidra, puerto rico. >> sreenivasan: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: "america addicted"-- our series on the nation's opioid crisis takes us to west virginia where drugs have taken a devastating toll. but first, the political storms keep raging around the trump white house, from puerto rico to north korea. lisa desjardins has more. >> desjardins: thanks, hari. there's a lot to unpack this politics monday. we're joined by our regulars, amy walter of the "cook political report," and tamara keith of npr. and thank you for joining us. we start with the topic that obviously we've had to touch on before, a sad one, mass shootings again. we've been on this territory for
before. but yet we still have the obligation to really check in with what our leaders are doing and saying, tam, what are the dynamics that play tonight for our leaders in washington when it comes to gun violence. >> tonight chris murphy of connecticut, the senator, democratic senator is giving a floor speech. he's given these floor speeches before. and he is talking about that in the floor speech saying that gun violence continues. he believes, he firmly believes that now is the time to have a conversation about gun control and he is really not satisfied by what his colleagues have been doing am meanwhile i was at the white house press briefing earlier today and it is very clear the white house does not want to have that krvetion. sarah sanders said it is time for condolences, it's time for grief and it would be premature to talk about policy. and if this sounds familiar, it is because it is. we have had this political dance so many times before that it is hard to keep track.
>> and the divide too politically goes beyond just what will happen in congress, among americans as well. that nbc "the wall street journal" had earlier sent around a social trend polling that they would be looking at before the shooting in las vegas and what they found when they asked the question do you think government will go too far in restricting gun rights or not far enough, you won't be surprised it to know it is polarizing frk you voted voted for donald trump you think the government will go too far, 78% of trump veetders believe, that if you voted for hillary clinton 74 pergs of them think you aren't going far enough, the government isn't going far enough, so i suspect that we will fall back into pa pattern which is what makes it very hard to meet in the middle. if most people think one side is going to go way too far, then they're never going to be willing to meet them somewhere where they can both agree to lose a little bit of something. >> we did see hillary clinton tweet and also democrats in
congress now tweet about a republican bill. the republicans would like to pass this month, at least in the house, and not the bill that would make it easier, remove one less background check, if you want to buy a silencer. republicans i talked to said they think this issue is misunderstood. that it would still make a rifle loud t would just make it not so loud that it harms your hearing. of course democrats feel differently. they think that's not safe to make it easier to buy silencers. we have democrats speaking on the floor tonight. what can democrats do more than protest and what can republicans do, do they need to wait on a bill like this, tam? >> clearly, democrats are having the same conversation that they have had again and again and again. and they are responding to the idea that it is not time to pull it aside but saying this is exactly the time-- time to pollityicize, i hate to repeat myself but republicans are doing what they do. and say you know, mostly quiet
about gun control for the moment and then at some point it will return to the conversation of defending the second amendment. and around and around and around. >> it is very difficult to get through the senate. the house obviously you have a bigger margin for republicans in the senate to get 60 votes on something like this. it would be very unlakely. >> let me make a prediction. if there is gun legislation that gets a vote sometime in the next few months t is more likely to be the silencer measure than it is to be expanded background checks or some of the other things that democrats like nancy pelosi is calling for. >> we have seen a theme, for years now, which is americans looking for leadership, hoping for more leadership, tam, were you looking at what past presidents in recent memory said after mass shootings. what are the lessons there, what worked, what happened or what didn't? >> there is sort of a grim routine that develops in the hours immediately following a mass shooting. i went back and watched president clinton after
columbine, president bush after virginia tech, president obama after sandy hook. and they all talk about the shock and the sadness. and they all cite scripture. and president trump today very much followed that same formula. the one break from that is president obama after sandy hook began saying and we need to do something about it. that is certainly not something that president trump said in his remarks today. >> amy, i want to ask you about crisis in general. this is not the only crisis on this president's desk right now. he has puerto rico, as we saw many americans still struggling there. still needing a lot of help. and obviously this is a president who tweeted, he praised puerto rico's governor but sharply criticized the mayor and at the same time he also has north korea and criticized or said that his efforts by his own recognize secretary of state to try and broker a deal with north
korea are a waste of time. what have we learned in the last week about the way this president manages crisis? >> well, we've learned especially by his twitter habit that he tweets as a president much like he did as a candidate. which is it is impulsive, it is unpredictable, there is-- does not seem to be any sort of strategic message in this. i know-- it is going to make headlines. i know there is a lot going around about whether he does this strategically as a way to get his base fired up and keep them engaged, e78ly when he's maybe moving-- moving too far to the left for some people on thei left or when he has-- for some people on the right or he has been unsuccessful legislatively. i don't mow if i necessarily buy that. i think that he really does react and instantly gets on to his phone and then gets on your screen. i think the biggest example -- example of this is the fight with the mayor of san juan. where i think this was simply
about he saw somebody that was being critical of him. we know he reacts instantly to criticism. usually he does it by critiquing or going after that person over twitter. but what he with also know, and this is where we are getting into watching this polarization happen beyond the president. just kroll scrogging through my social media ever o the weekend, already the folks in my feed who are on the right, siding with the president. the folks on my feed in the left siding with the mayor. and so this becomes then for the president a way to once again polarize america, even at a time when what folks are looking for as you ponted out is unity. and this is what is going, it will be very interesting, the president after tweeting a lot of stuff over the past couple of weeks, whether it is the nfl, puerto rico or of course rex tillerson, now is trying to go to places like las vegas this week and puerto rico. >> and speaking of puerto rico,
tomorrow. tamara keith, you cover this white house, you cover this president. what should we watch for when he actually lands in puerto rico. >> he says he will be meating with military observations, first responders, fema. the white house says that the mayor of san juan has been invited to some of the events around the president's visit. certainly will be watching to see if she is there and how their interaction goes. the president said that more importantly than all of those people that he is supposed to meet with, he is also supposed to meet people in puerto rico on the ground who have been affected by this storm, the real people. and president trump in the past has been very affected by the conversations that he has with real people. >> and he got high marks for his performance in the aftermath of the hurricanes in florida and texas. over 60% of voters said they a of proked of the job he was doing, the governments with doing in response there. we haven't seen any polling in the wake of the most recent response in peurlt rico. but i will be very curious to see after he goes down there and what the reaction is. >> the storm is about to get a lot less abstract for president trump.
>> one last quick question, all these headlines, there is other news that we're not able to cover. were you watching politically quickly that you think might be overshadowed. >> it has been 52 days since president trump said the opioid crisis was an emergency and declaring an emergency. that emergency has never actually technically been declared and now tre is no hhs secretary. >> in all of the debate about what is happening to health care, the one thing that got lost or fell through the cracks was the child health insurance, the chip, there are a lot of states that aren't going to be able to bring low income children in. congress needs to fix this quickly but there could be some consequences. >> excellent, amy walter, tamara keith, thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. >> sreenivasan: now, to a special reporting effort here at the newshour that we are calling "america addicted."
opioids are now the biggest drug epidemic in american history. every night this week and beyond we will explore the impact and efforts to address this crisis. i recently traveled to one of the hardest-hit states in the country: west virginia. it has the highest death rate from drug overdoses in the country. we spent some time in one city to get a sense of just how wide and deep this crisis is and how opioids have changed the very fabric of life there. >> burger king? station 3, station 3. >> 3210 washington boulevard for an overdose. advise that female is outside on the ground. >> sreenivasan: it's not even 10:30 in the morning in huntington, west virginia, and it's happened again: another overdose, this time just outside a fast food restaurant. a woman is unconscious and turning blue on the sidewalk. first responders move in withan anti-overdose medication naloxone, a few minutes pass. she revives, as if waking from a nap. the needles she used go in a sharps container.
the woman goes in an ambulance. it's become a well-choreographed dance in this city on the banks of the ohio river and at the heart of america's opioid epidemic. >> i bet you i've been to 20 overdoses in that house. >> sreenivasan: jan rader is the fire chief in this city, a place now defined by both the scope of its struggle, and its attempts to fight back. >> we have no fear of failure. if we try something and it doesn't work, let's move on to something else. >> sreenivasan: of the 100,000 people who live in huntington and surrounding cabell county, officials estimate that 10,000 of them have become addicted to opioids like heroin and pain pills. officials say there have been more than 100 deaths in cabell county so far in 2017, with more than 2,000 overdoses expected by year's end. steve williams is the mayor of huntington. >> the level of addiction is beyond anyone's comprehension. i have never known anything that was so all-consuming.
it is affecting everybody in this community. >> sreenivasan: that means slowed traffic at businesses like roll-a-rama, open since 1962. >> it's just running the neighborhoods down, running the business off, running the people who would spend money here, who are trying to do good here, running 'em all off. >> sreenivasan: trouble at the regional pharmacy chain, in the parking lots and inside the stores. >> it's difficult to hire employees, it's difficult to find people who can pass drug screens, needles scattered in the parks. >> we've found 'em in the playgrounds, different things-- bathrooms, edges of parking lots, boat ramp, i mean, the floods, the floodwater brings a bunch of 'em in down there, believe it or not. >> sreenivasan: needles clogging stormwater catch basins and threatening sanitation workers. >> they may actually have to physically reach down and pull debris out, we use needle-proof, cut-proof gloves to protect our employees from being stuck.
>> sreenivasan: and bacterial infections tied to i.v. drug use now common throughout the city. >> some of 'em go to the bone, some of 'em go to the kidneys, some of 'em go to the brain. things that, you know, you didn't expect to see very often, because they were described as rare in your medical textbook. and now you see them all the time. >> sreenivasan: the health consequences are deeper still. at cabell huntington hospital, one out of every five babies delivered has been exposed to drugs before they were born. >> we are a 15 bed unit, and today we have 18, last week we had 26. >> sreenivasan: sara murray helped create a unit specifically for these newborns. you're keeping this place dim for the baby's' sake. >> yes. we try to keep a low- stimulus environment. that means we keep the lights low and we keep the unit as quiet as possible. >> sreenivasan: babies here go through withdrawal for drugs like painkillers and heroin, and, more often these days, other substances being cut into the heroin supply, like fentanyl
and the anti-seizure medication gabapentin. >> it's just devastating for these babies. neurological symptoms that we'd never seen before. they have rapid eye movements. different than anything i've ever seen. they roll down, they roll up, back and forth. and, they tongue-thrust, they're very uncomfortable. >> sreenivasan: it's still not clear what the long-term impacts on these children will be. but in the short-term, many of them are entering the foster care system. >> olivia was born addicted to cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and, a pain pill that contains snake venom. >> sreenivasan: some children, like two-year-old olivia, are being placed with foster families in other parts of the state. >> we're going on a bear hunt. >> sreenivasan: olivia now lives an hour and a half from huntington with her adoptive mother, stephanie adkins, stephanie's husband and five- year-old ethan, who came to them
after similar circumstances. the system, adkins says, is stretched dangerously thin. >> you're going to have children that are just sitting in a group care home, with no family to speak of, because there's physically nowhere else to put them. that's where i see us going if we don't figure something out to try to stop the flow of children just flying into, into, into the foster care system. >> sreenivasan: how did west virginia get to this point? in some ways, it was a state with a target on its back, one heavily dependent on manual labor jobs like coal mining and manufacturing, jobs that leave workers prone to injury and chronic pain. when a new group of painkillers emerged in the mid-90s, pharmaceutical companies and distributors saw a ripe market. eric eyre of the "charleson gazette-mail" recently uncovered documents exposing the extent of the pharmaceutical campaign between 2007 and 2012. >> there had been 780 million
hydrocodone and oxycodone doses shipped to west virginia over those six years. and we're one of the smallest states in the country. we have 1.8 million people. so that comes out to roughly about 430 pills per person. >> sreenivasan: an eventual crackdown on pain pills caused many to switch to heroin and fentanyl, far more potent cousins of drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone. overdose deaths spiked. in march, a state fund to pay for burials for the poor ran out of money five months before the end of the fiscal year. >> the drug dealers are going to pay for this! just the way that i see the pharmaceutical companies are going to pay. >> sreenivasan: in huntington and cabell county, where the state, officials have resolved to respond to every overdose case aggressively. ramp up treatment and accountability programs, when appropriate, through drug courts that have a strong track record of leading people toward recovery instead of incarceration. >> so do i understand that you have four months and two days
clean? >> i do. >> yeah! you look good. >> sreenivasan: and by giving young people incentives to steer clear of drugs in the first place. every middle- and high-school student in this district is randomly drug tested if they want to participate in any extracurricular activities, like play sports, or even drive their car to class. at this high school, 700 of the 1,700 students take part in the program. almost every one of them tests clean. but all that, fire chief rader says, hasn't been enough. the overdoses keep coming, the same people over and over, with seemingly few lessons learned. >> they refuse treatment. they go right back out on the street, typically get high again. >> sreenivasan: how dispiriting is that? you literally brought someone back to life and they're choosing-- >> it's very frustrating on
every level. but that doesn't stop us from saving the life. it's a very stressful time to be a first responder. i probably was a firefighter for 10 years before i saw a significant number of dead bodies. these young guys that we're hiring 23, 24, 25 years old they're seeing 50, 60 dead bodies a year. and not just dead bodies, they're seeing young dead bodies. sometimes their friends. sometimes people they graduated from high school with. >> sreenivasan: rader's crews responded to 3,500 calls in 2015. last year, 4,500. this year, they're on track for more than 5,500. one out of every four times a fire truck leaves this station, it's for an overdose case. >> it messes with your mind. i mean, i'm not going to lie to you. it hurts. >> sreenivasan: on one of those calls last year, lieutenant james mullins was pricked by a needle. months of tests and treatment
followed. how'd your life change after that? >> my personal life at home changed quite a bit, because of not knowing, the unknowns, that i, if i had a disease. >> sreenivasan: the fallout changed the way he views the city's attempts to save people who repeatedly overdose. he wonders if these programs might actually be attracting more drug users to the area ... fueling the cycle. >> you have to keep telling yourself that, you know, this has been a 20-year decline and it's not going to be fixed in a year or two. >> sreenivasan: police chief joseph ciccarelli says all of this will probably get worse before it gets better. >> you see abandoned buildings, abandoned houses. and these were neighborhoods that were, you know, working class neighborhoods 30, 40 years ago because there were jobs here.
>> sreenivasan: neighborhoods that have become the scenes of devastation, including one mass casualty situation last year when 26 people overdosed in a single day. >> we had one, one residence in particular, where we had six people down at one location. >> sreenivasan: drug-related crimes are high, he said. so are the number of car accidents now tied to drug use, one in which a woman overdosed while driving, triggering a crash that sent another car plunging 80 feet off an interstate bridge. and the drugs, he says, keep flowing in from detroit, michigan, and columbus, ohio, despite the high number of arrests his force makes. >> we've got 10,000 heroin addicts here. there's a market here. we have a demand, and there's going to be a supply. >> it is the best of times in huntington, yet the worst of times. >> sreenivasan: the best of times, mayor williams says, because collaboration in the city has never been stronger. lessons are being learned every day that are spreading to other
parts of the country. >> i believe that we will end up on the right side of it. what i am constantly trying to do is lift people up.¡ square your shoulders! we are from huntington, west virginia, and we're showing an example to the rest of the country how you can defeat this!' and then, as soon as i do that, then we'll end up hearing the fire trucks going by, and they're going after another overdose. >> sreenivasan: tune in tomorrow night, for a look at rehab high. we travel to a high school, one of 40 now across the nation, geared toward recovery. online, explore our entire series "america addicted." we've created a special page to showcase all of our reporting on air, and online. we're covering the crisis in four chapters, the problem, the
drug, the solutions and new approaches to fighting the epidemic. right now, get an intimate look inside a neonatal intensive care unit, where nurses and doctors save the lives of babies born addicted to opioids and suffering from withdrawal. plus, how to talk to your kids about opioids. you can find all of that and more on our website, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century.
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broacasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org i planned on dying
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight an hour on the u.s.-iranian relationship. we talked to iran's foreign minister javazarif. >> we believe that if iran accepted certain increased monitoring of its activities, certain greater transparency, it did not need to go through extra limitations. and the united states and some others believed we needed some period of confidence building, and this was a subject of great negotiations, so we agreed to ten years of limitations for iran's enrichment activities. we agreed to keeping our at