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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  March 31, 2019 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> what happens to survivors and victims' families after a mass shooting? >> it's an introduction. ( sighs ) you know, mass shooting grief 101. >> meet sandy and lonnie phillips. their daughter was murdered nearly seven years ago. they've shown up at most of the major mass shootings, offering those in need a kind of survival guide to a grief few can imagine. i lost a brother to suicide, and a lot of people say, you're now part of a group which you never wish you would be part of. >> right. we do care about these people. we want to help them find their purpose, and find their
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strength, so that they can live their new normal. ( ticking ) >> our adventure led us high above the arctic circle, to find out why the earth is warming so fast, so far below. how far below the surface are we right now? >> right now, we are about ten meters. >> so, about 30 feet? >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> we met a scientist who enjoys russian vodka, smokes like a soviet steel mill, and believes these massive bones, exposed by warming, could bring the extinct wooly mammoth back from the dead. that's amazing! ( ticking ) >> let's go! >> this college point guard isn't in this year's n.b.a. league tournament, but he's one of the best cinderella stories you will ever hear. ( cheers and applause ) >> i wake up in my dorm and i'm like, "i'm really in college right now. this is crazy." >> crazy because, when we first met shyquinn dix a year ago,
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number ten... ( cheers and applause ) ...was inmate number 391175, at a prison in connecticut known as the rock. his story, and the radical program that hopes to rehabilitate prisoners and give them a shot at success, tonight. ( ticking ) >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm scott pelley. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm bill whitaker. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) >> cbs money watch sponsored by lincoln financial, helping you create a secure financial future. >> good evening. billions in trade could be disrupted if president trump ends up closing the u.s.-mexico border over a surge of illegal immigrants. it's a big week for new economic day dark including reports on retail sales and jobs. and stocks will open tomorrow after the best quarter in nearly a decade.
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i'm david begnaud, cbs news. i thought i married an italian. did the ancestrydna to find out i'm only 16% italian. so i went onto ancestry, soon learned that one of our ancestors was eastern european. this is my ancestor who i didn't know about. i heard there guwere fleas out here.r? and t-t-t-t-t-icks! and mosquitoooooooooooes! listen up, scaredy cats. we all have k9 advantix ii to protect us. it kills and repels fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, too.
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but allstate actually helps you drive safely... with drivewise. it lets you know when you go too fast... ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost. unfortunately, it can't do anything about that. now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? >> cooper: in just the past two
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weeks, there have been three deaths by suicide of people who, in different ways, survived mass shootings. two were teenagers, who lived through the massacre at marjory stoneman douglas high school in florida last year. the third was the father of a six-year-old girl, murdered at sandy hook elementary school in connecticut in 2012. sandy and lonnie phillips know first-hand that kind of grief. their daughter was killed nearly seven years ago in a mass shooting. since then, they've made it their mission to help others navigate the public, and sometimes political, aftermath of these tragedies. they travel the country, hoping to build a network of survivors, and offer victims and families a kind of survival guide to grief, preparing them for a future few can imagine. >> sandy phillips: your identity has been stripped from you. you know, whether it's mother or daddy or father or sister or brother. i no longer have that title. i no longer have that relationship.
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and when it's violence like ours was, that takes a long time to recover from. >> cooper: i think some people think that there's a time table for grief. >> sandy phillips: oh, yeah. ( laughs ) >> cooper: do you get that? >> sandy phillips: oh, yeah. the five stages of grief, right? and you go through all five of them, and you think, "okay, now i'm done." ( laughs ) and they don't tell you, "oh, no, you get to start it all again." and they're out of sequence. a lot of survivors just don't know that, especially going into it. you might find that what you have done for the last 20 years of your life, or 30 years of your life, has absolutely no meaning to you anymore. and that was certainly the case for us. >> cooper: it wasn't long after their daughter's murder that sandy and lonnie phillips quit their jobs. they've gotten rid of most of their belongings and rented out their house so they can travel around the country to mass shootings, hoping to meet survivors and offer help. the scene of a mass shooting is not an easy place to come to. it can be like walking into a
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stranger's funeral. >> sandy phillips: we don't know each other yet, but we do now. >> cooper: but in grief, strangers can quickly become family. >> sandy phillips: you've got a second mom here. >> cooper: we saw the phillips' in thousand oaks, california, where 12 people were gunned down at a country music bar last november. it is one of the latest stops on their heartbreaking journey. >> lonnie phillips: if you haven't lost somebody close to you, you can't comprehend it. >> cooper: just days before they arrived here, they were in pittsburgh, where 11 people were murdered at the tree of life synagogue. it's so interesting, though, what you're doing. you're not trained therapists. you're not counselors. and yet, you are-- have upended your lives, and reaching out in a very individual way to people. >> sandy phillips: yeah, it's... compassion. >> cooper: that's what it is? >> sandy phillips: bottom line, it's about compassion. >> lonnie phillips: the compassion we get from those people, too. it's not like it's a one-way deal.
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>> cooper: it was in 2012 that their daughter, jessica ghawi, was murdered, along with 11 others in a movie theater in aurora, colorado. she was 24, and an aspiring sports reporter. can you take me back to that day? >> sandy phillips: ( sighs ) yes. the young man that was with her, brent, was like a son to us. and, she decided that she wanted to take him to see the "batman" movie. and, when the shooting happened, they stood up, and... never made it out. >> cooper: both of them? >> sandy phillips: brent survived. he was shot trying to save her. he went into paramedic mode immediately, because that's what he does for a living. and, the phone rang. >> cooper: he called you from inside the theater? >> sandy phillips: yeah. and i could hear the screaming going on in the background. and he said, "there's been a shooting." and i said, "are you okay?" and he said, "i think i've been shot twice."
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and i knew then that, okay, something's bad. and i said, "where's jessie?" and he said, "i tried." and i said, "is she okay?" and he said, "i did my best. i tried." and i said, "oh god, brent, don't tell me she's dead." and he said... "i'm really sorry." and i started screaming. >> lonnie phillips: and she was sliding down the wall, screaming, and i grabbed her and picked her up, took her to the couch, and she kept yelling, "jessie's dead!" >> sandy phillips: it's been six years now, almost seven. and there's not a day that goes by that we don't still get upset, and still cry. >> cooper: i lost a brother to suicide, and a lot of people say, you know, this is, you're now part of a group which you never wish you would be part of. >> sandy phillips: and it's a lifetime membership, and the cost of the dues was way, way, way too high.
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>> cooper: sandy is 68; lonnie, 75. they've been living mostly on savings, social security, and goodwill... >> lonnie phillips: i know that you're on a deadline. >> cooper: ...occasionally crashing with friends. >> sandy phillips: how are you guys doing? >> cooper: they started a non- profit organization, called survivors empowered, to offer advice and kinship in the wake of mass shootings, but also to give families practical information, like how to deal with media attention or how to get a body home for a funeral. >> lonnie phillips: it's lonnie, just checking in on you. >> cooper: there's things that happen to the families of people who have been shot in a mass killing, that do not happen to families of somebody who has died under different circumstances. >> sandy phillips: exactly. the worst part is finding out that the day your child has been killed, that there are already websites that have popped up, and facebook pages that have popped up, saying, this is a false flag, and this didn't happen.
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>> cooper: did you have people saying jessica wasn't real? or she was a crisis actor? >> sandy phillips: oh, yeah. yep. >> cooper: she wasn't real. >> sandy phillips: yep. >> cooper: she wasn't there. >> sandy phillips: yep. >> cooper: you didn't lose a daughter? >> sandy phillips: all the time. >> you never saw your sister's dead body. >> cooper: since jessica's murder, sandy's son jordan has been harassed and threatened by a man who, like many conspiracy theorists, claims there was no massacre in aurora. >> your days are numbered, ( bleep ). >> cooper: it's hard to imagine, but similar harassment now happens to families almost every time there's a mass shooting. >> lonnie phillips: that's the worst kind of harm you can do to someone. you're a devastated parent, becoming more devastated. >> 3-15 and 3-14 for a shooting at century theaters. >> cooper: after the massacre in aurora, sandy and lonnie, who are gun owners themselves, filed a lawsuit against companies that sold gear and ammunition to their daughter's killer over the internet. the judge threw out the case, and ordered them to pay more than $200,000 to cover the
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defendant's legal fees. >> sandy phillips: contract with them consulting... >> cooper: they had to declare bankruptcy, and now consult for a gun control group to make ends meet. but, they say, they keep that work separate from their outreach to survivors. >> lonnie phillips: we don't ever bring up guns when we go. >> sandy phillips: we never bring up politics or guns. >> lonnie phillips: we don't advocate, we don't recruit, we don't do any of that stuff. until somebody shows an interest, and we tell them, you know, you're not ready yet. >> cooper: the course of their new lives has followed a roadmap of american tragedies: they started in newtown, then went to isla vista, san bernardino, orlando, las vegas, sutherland springs, parkland, santa fe, pittsburgh and thousand oaks. each massacre is different, but the look sandy and lonnie see on the faces of those left behind is the same. >> mitch dworet: you just can't believe it. it can't be real.
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>> annika dworet: no, you don't want to believe it. >> cooper: annika and mitch dworet's 17-year-old son, nicholas, who had just earned a swimming scholarship to college, was murdered with 16 others in parkland, florida, last year. >> mitch dworet: i expect nick to come home any day, or walk through the house. he was such a great kid. >> cooper: nick's younger brother alex, who was grazed by a bullet, doesn't talk much about what happened. he was in a classroom across the hall from nick's when the shooting began. their parents were nearby, waiting for school to let out. >> annika dworet: alex called us and said "mom, i'm in a back of an ambulance. i was hit in the back of the head." and in my mind, i didn't really worry about nicholas, because there's 3,500 at that school. one child was shot. what's the odds of two of my kids being shot? and i took off to the hospital. and, i said, "mitch, you can wait for nicholas." >> mitch dworet: and i waited for nicholas. >> annika dworet: yeah. >> cooper: they waited for 12 hours, before finally being told nicholas was dead. within days, a mutual friend
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connected them with sandy and lonnie phillips. do you remember that first meeting? >> sandy phillips: yeah. oh, of course. of course. they had a house full of people. we felt a little bit like we were intruding on a very private moment-- which we were, but for a good reason. >> annika dworet: i was a little skeptical, in the beginning, and i'm thinking to myself, "what do they want from us?" >> mitch dworet: what do they want? >> annika dworet: why are they here? and after speaking to them, which took... lasted for three hours. >> cooper: three hours? that was the first experience. >> annika dworet: three hours, yes. >> mitch dworet: and they took the time, just to be here and, just, "we're not here for any other reason but for you guys, because you're in a place that's just not of this normal life. you can't imagine." >> annika dworet: when you open your eyes in the morning, you're just like, "why should i get up today? w-- why should i do that?" and it's just so painful to feel this pain the whole day. and then, to meet somebody who has been through this, and six years later, and they are getting out of bed. >> cooper: you could look at
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sandy and actually see a way through, potentially. >> annika dworet: right, right. >> cooper: what are some of the things you-- kind of, the list of things you warn a grieving parent, who-- >> sandy phillips: the list is, i know you don't want get out of bed right now, but you're going to live through this, in spite of it. just know that it's going to take you a long time. that's number one. number two, people are ripping you off, right now, as we're speaking. there's probably a gofundme page somewhere raising funds for the families, and that money goes into their bank account. you know, you'll never see it. so be careful who you trust. so, it's an introduction. ( sighs ) you know, mass shooting grief 101. >> cooper: to help them keep up, the phillips' are trying to create a network of survivors who can quickly respond to mass shootings anywhere in the country. volunteers like shanna caputo. she met sandy and lonnie in 2017 after surviving the massacre at a music festival in las vegas. >> shanna caputo: when i first met them, i asked them if i could go to parkland with them,
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because that was after vegas. and she was like "no, honey, you're not ready for this yet." >> sandy phillips: she's telling her story, and i'm listening to her and i'm going, "oh my god." >> cooper: shanna showed sandy the cell phone video she unintentionally recorded of the shooting. >> sandy phillips: and i'm watching the video, and i'm going, "this is triggering me." i can't imagine what she has really gone through. >> cooper: what was happening around you? ( gunfire ) >> caputo: people were going down right away. i could hear the bullets whizzing right past my head. you would just see that-- them, like, jerk. and i don't know if i can say this, but you would see them just explode. >> cooper: the gunfire lasted more than ten minutes. 58 people were killed. for weeks afterward, shanna says she was hardly able to leave her house. sandy advised her to see a
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therapist who specializes in severe trauma. >> caputo: so after about four or five months of therapy, i was like a walnut, and it cracked open. and i finally cried about it. and i called sandy and i'm like, "i cried!" i was all excited. >> sandy phillips: and i said, "i'm actually very happy. now you can begin to put things together, and, and create the new you." and now she's doing incredible work. >> cooper: so this has been growing, really, ever since the shooting? >> caputo: yeah. >> cooper: the work shanna caputo is doing started last fall, after the bar shooting in thousand oaks, california, which is just miles from her house. she's now trying to help some of those survivors, the way sandy and lonnie phillips helped her. wouldn't it be easier for you to not be immersed in the world of mass shootings? you are immersed in this-- >> sandy phillips: we are. >> cooper: in a very dark world. >> sandy phillips: we, we live it. but we don't see it as dark. we say, we see it as shedding a little light.
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we care about these people. we want to help them find their purpose, and find their strength, so that they can live their new normal. ( ticking ) >> anderson cooper on speaking the language of loss. >> i'm comfortable with somebody else who speaks that language. >> hear more at sponsored by pfizer. in a different direction. talk to your doctor about xeljanz, a pill, not an injection or infusion, for adults with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. xeljanz is the first and only fda-approved pill for moderate to severe uc. it can reduce symptoms in as early as two weeks, improve the appearance of the intestinal lining, and provide lasting steroid-free remission. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened. as have tears in the stomach or intestines,
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>> pelley: temperatures in the arctic continue to warm twice as fast as the rest of the world; that's according to the u.s. government's latest climate report. the past five years in the arctic have been the warmest there since records began in 1900. decades ago, an eccentric russian geophysicist warned that frozen soil, called permafrost, contained enough greenhouse gas itself to pose a threat to the climate if it ever melted. science scoffed at sergey zimov's warning, but now that the permafrost is collapsing, the world is listening. recently, we traveled to the siberian arctic to meet zimov, who has devised a scheme to save the world in a place that he named for the last ice age:
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pleistocene park. our trip took three days, and our final leg in an adventure of geo-science was on an aeronautical fossil-- a soviet-era antonov. we approached a siberia we had never seen in our imaginations: a forest touching the horizon, in a land sequined with lakes. this was far north even by a siberian compass-- above the arctic circle, where the kolyma river fills the east siberian sea. 15 time zones from new york, we found the aspiring ghost town of chersky. a trading port in soviet times, cherksy was gutted by the fall of communism-- losing 80% of its residents. there's not much reason to visit, unless, like many scientists today, you're beating a path to the northeast scientific station to meet its
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founder, 63-year-old sergey zimov. hello. >> sergey zimov: hello. >> pelley: i'm scott. >> sergey zimov: i'm sergey. >> pelley: nice to see you, sergey. he welcomed us in summer, when fireweed enjoys a few weeks of liberation. but 40 siberian winters remained indelible on zimov's face-- the price of solitude for a geophysicist who longed to be remote from his communist bosses. when people hear the word "siberia," they think about exile. but it sounds to me like exile's exactly what you had in mind. >> sergey zimov: yes. only one problem, so long winter. >> pelley: the winter's long? >> sergey zimov: yes. >> pelley: winters are long as ever, but not as cold. this ground was once so icy, humankind named it permafrost. but in the 1990s, zimov noticed, it wasn't so permanent. >> sergey zimov: frozen ground. do you hear? >> pelley: yup. >> sergey zimov: it's roof of permafrost.
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>> pelley: he can remember when his shovel wouldn't bite the frozen surface. but now, he's down more than six feet. >> sergey zimov: in the past, all our soil, which was melted in summer, freeze everywhere totally, and it happened usually in november, december. now, in all winter, it did not freeze. >> pelley: what does that tell you? >> sergey zimov: it means permafrost is melt. >> pelley: this is a warning to the world, because organic matter in the permafrost-- plants and animals-- has been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years. as it thaws, microbes consume that organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane, greenhouse gases which contribute to a warmer climate. we just pulled this up out of the hole, and it's burning my fingers, it's so cold. >> sergey zimov: yes, soil with water, and water is ice. in five minutes it will be melt. >> pelley: years ago, zimov
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calculated there is enough carbon in permafrost to threaten the world. but, big science gave that idea a cold shoulder-- maybe in part because of zimov himself. he endures siberian winters when most russians head south. he enjoys a refreshing vodka from time to time, smokes like a soviet steel mill, and often just lies down to think. >> max holmes: i sometimes describe him as somewhere between a madman and a genius. >> pelley: max holmes is a leading climate scientist, and deputy director of the woods hole research center in massachusetts. he told us, zimov's key discovery was that siberian permafrost held far more carbon than anyone knew. when zimov made this observation, he couldn't get his papers published in scientific journals. >> holmes: it can take a while to get papers published that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
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>> pelley: but science warmed to zimov's theory, and now he's published dozens of papers in science journals. max holmes has made several visits to zimov's station. >> holmes: the estimates of how much carbon is locked up in permafrost keep going up. and most of us were probably thinking about the upper meter. >> pelley: the upper three feet or so of soil. >> holmes: yeah, the upper three feet, that's right. if you go down much deeper than that, the carbon content is very low. but what's special about this area, where zimov is, the carbon content of the permafrost extends to a much greater depth. so, consequently, there's an awful lot of carbon that's locked up there. >> pelley: scientists estimate there is more greenhouse gas in permafrost than in all of the world's remaining oil, natural gas and coal. there's no consensus about how much of it could be released. how far below the surface are we right now? >> nikita zimov: right now, we are about ten meters. >> pelley: so, about 30 feet? >> nikita zimov: yeah, yeah,
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yeah. >> pelley: ten times deeper than originally thought, we found the remains of ice-age plants and microbes... >> nikita zimov: let's see if we can take some samples. >> pelley: ...with zimov's chief collaborator-- his son nikita. >> nikita zimov: it's a ticking carbon bomb, as it called. >> pelley: a carbon bomb? >> nikita zimov: yeah. >> pelley: nikita zimov grew up here with his father, and sensibly moved south for college, leaving behind the old man and the river. but nikita's plan to be a mathematician melted away when sergey asked his son to return, to see what he had seen. a few hours from the research station, there's a vast subsidence of permafrost-- sort of a rolling landslide, called duvanny yar. geology is a slow science, but here, it's almost a spectator sport. the bones of extinct woolly mammoths are thawing, after more than 12,000 years.
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the collapse of frozen earth is happening in much of the arctic, including alaska. 25% of the northern hemisphere is permafrost. the zimovs have a theory-- many would say a crazy idea-- for defusing the carbon bomb. they want to cool the permafrost by returning part of siberia to the ice age, or at least what it looked like in those days, known as the pleistocene era. if we were standing on this hill in the pleistocene era, what would we see? >> sergey zimov: not any trees. this looks like grasslands and savanna. and you will see around 1,000 of mammoths, around maybe 5,000 of bison. around maybe 10,000 of horses around this place. and also lions. >> pelley: lions? >> sergey zimov: yes. there was, main predator was lions here.
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>> pelley: sergey zimov told us, when man became the main predator, the woolly mammoth and other large grazers were hunted to extinction. forest replaced grasslands, and that made siberia vulnerable to a warming climate. because trees trap more heat than grass, and winter temperatures of 40 below can't freeze the permafrost if there are no herds of animals to trample the insulating snow. so, this is what you use instead of a mammoth. >> nikita zimov: yeah. >> pelley: as a demonstration project they call pleistocene park, nikita zimov is knocking down trees over 54 square miles and restocking the big grazers. the zimovs believe returning the land to its ice-age appearance will cool the permafrost, even in a warming world. you're trying to bring the animals back now. how can you do that? >> sergey zimov: physically, you mean? or morally? what's-- or financially? >> pelley: all three. but let's start with physically.
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you need, what? hundreds of thousands, millions of these animals? >> nikita zimov: you need to start with something. second, you need to prove people that the concept work. and to prove that concept work, you-- for many things, you don't need millions of animals. >> pelley: you brought up the moral issue of bringing the animals in here. what do you mean by that? i mean, some people say you're playing god. >> sergey zimov: you know, i think it's not me playing god. it was our ancestors who was playing god 15,000 years ago. humans came, and they dropped the number of animals worldwide. and we are just trying to, i don't know, get it back. >> pelley: this is where the zimovs' experiment gets crazier. what they need is the greatest tree crusher of the last 20,000 years, and they are surrounded with evidence of the once- abundant woolly mammoth. that's amazing. >> sergey zimov: it's young, young female. >> pelley: young, female mammoth? this weighs at least 20, 25 pounds.
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do you need the wooly mammoth to bring all of this back in the park? >> nikita zimov: it's like, do you need your right arm to live and do your job? no, you don't need it, but with your arm, you will do it better. so, same with mammoth. >> pelley: today, one place you might get a woolly mammoth is in boston, massachusetts-- specifically in the lab of harvard geneticist george church. sergey is hoping that you're going to deliver a mammoth to him. can you do that? >> george church: i think he's hoping that we will deliver an animal that is very similar to the ones that used to roam there. we need cold-resistant elephants. that's what he would like. >> pelley: church is another scientist who's made the trek to zimov's world. he returned to his renowned genetics lab with d.n.a. from mammoth bones. >> church: if you look at the 23 genomes of the elephants, there's lots of evidence of lots of interbreeding all over the place among the different
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so-called species. so, in a way, we're just recreating a hybrid that could easily have existed. >> pelley: when do you imagine you might be able to pull up a truck and deliver this creature to pleistocene park? >> church: i would say that probably in five years, we'll know whether we can get this to work for mice, and maybe pigs and elephants. and then if we can get embryos to grow in the laboratory all the way to term, then it's probably a decade. >> pelley: the zimovs have not convinced everyone in climate science. critics say they lack long-term temperature records of the permafrost, and their work is restricted to a relatively small area. you know, to the untrained eye, someone could come away from a meeting with sergey thinking that he's a crackpot. >> holmes: yeah, that's right, i mean, he kind of plays the part. >> pelley: but as a climate scientist, how do you evaluate him? >> holmes: i think he's usually right.
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certainly, he has controversial ideas. and a lot of them, i think, end up being supported over time. >> pelley: what do you think of his concept of pleistocene park? >> holmes: fascinating theory. i'm fascinated by the science that can be done to figure out if it's correct. i'm glad he's pursuing this. we need to think about solutions. >> pelley: the zimovs have little funding for their big idea. the government donated the land, and their income flows from the rent that they charge visiting scientists for the research station. theirs is science on a shoestring, with a very long timeline. sergey, you've devoted your life to this, but i wonder why you thought it was important that nikita devote his life to this? >> sergey zimov: why it's important? hmm. our experiment, it's long-time experiment. decades.
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decades. >> pelley: it'll take decades? >> sergey zimov: yes. and it's also, we think about my grand-grandchildren. >> pelley: they have some intriguing results in the early days of pleistocene park. data show the permafrost is becoming colder, where heat- trapping trees have been cut down. it's a little more weight on the genius side of the madman scale, and perhaps early evidence that resurrecting the future of the world may depend on burying siberia's past. ( ticking ) but when i started seeing things, i didn't know what was happening... so i kept it in. he started believing things that weren't true. i knew something was wrong... but i didn't say a word. during the course of their disease around 50% of people with parkinson's may experience hallucinations or delusions. but now, doctors are prescribing nuplazid. the only fda approved medicine...
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( ticking ) >> whitaker: one of the more radical attempts at prison reform is taking place in a
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foreboding connecticut prison nicknamed the rock. it's a two-year-old program based on therapy for 18- to 25- year-old prisoners, whose brains, science shows, are still developing, and their behavior more likely to change. the idea came from germany, where the main objective of prison is rehabilitation, and where the recidivism rate is about half that of the u.s. we were in germany four years ago when then-connecticut governor, dannel malloy, toured the prison system. he returned home inspired and launched the small, german-style program at the rock. it's too early to tell whether it will reduce recidivism, but we wanted to see how the german approach is being tested in america. so, we went to connecticut-- by way of a slight detour to the northeast corner of maine. >> let's go! >> whitaker: the university of maine at presque isle is small
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in the world of college basketball. but, for number ten, shyquinn dix, being a student-athlete here is the biggest shot of his life. >> shyquinn dix: being able to be around a place where i could just be me and, like, work on myself, and live out my dream is, like, wonderful to me. >> whitaker: i've heard that you're the best player on the team. >> dix: i'm pretty good. i don't know. ( laughs ) >> whitaker how about in the classroom? >> dix: actually made the dean's list. 3.8 this semester. all a's. >> whitaker: it seems improbable. >> dix: like, i wake up in my dorm and i'm like, "i'm really in college right now. this is crazy." like, it's crazy. >> whitaker: crazy because, when we first met him a year ago, presque isle number ten was inmate number 391175, serving a four-year sentence for felony check fraud at cheshire correctional institution, a maximum security prison in central connecticut that houses about 1,300 prisoners. warden scott erfe has spent
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30 years working in the state prison system. he told us cheshire corrections officers were as firm and unyielding as the century-old prison walls. >> warden scott erfe: when you think of alcatraz, old-school corrections, old-school mentality-- that is cheshire. >> whitaker: what gets you here to cheshire? >> erfe: we have everybody, from short-termers to, everything, all the way up to and including a serial killer. there are some bad people here. >> whitaker: the warden told us prisoners can be locked up 22 hours a day, with just an hour of recreation in the morning and afternoon. so, when former governor dannel malloy asked him to build a program modeled on the prisons he'd toured in germany, which are much more relaxed, focused on counseling and personal growth, erfe told us he was dumbfounded. did you think it was crazy? >> erfe: i thought it was a little bit crazy, but these individuals are going to be getting out, and they don't go to a special community just for ex-offenders.
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they're all around us. and, would you rather have a better product coming out, or would you rather have a worse product coming out and living next to you? >> whitaker: so, warden erfe got to work. he closed down a solitary confinement wing, and opened up a sanctuary for self-improvement for about 50 young inmates, whose crimes range from drugs to violent assault. they have to apply to get into the program, called t.r.u.e., for truthful, respectful, understanding and elevating to success. this looks like a standard prison. >> erfe: yes. >> whitaker: what's going on here that i'm not seeing? >> erfe: you wouldn't have correctional officers playing board games with the inmates. that's just not done in general population. i mean, everybody here, you can tell, is just totally relaxed. >> whitaker: totally. inmates turned one cell into a yoga studio, splashed with a colorful mural to set the mood. prisoners and staff mingle freely. the prisoners are out of their cells from morning to night,
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their days filled with classes and counseling. >> prisoner: we've got to use the stuff that we've been through, and the stuff that-- all the pain, and we have to turn it to motivation. >> whitaker: it's still prison, but the general atmosphere is lighter here. ( laughter ) it can be head-spinning for corrections officers originally trained to guard with an iron fist. ♪ ♪ now, they join prisoners in lip sync contests. ♪ ♪ this might seem frivolous, but it's a serious part of the t.r.u.e. experiment. the goal, to rebuild these men with experiences, structure and discipline they might not have had before. but the head of the cheshire corrections officers union told us, t.r.u.e. is turning prison into summer camp. they think it's too lenient. they think it puts the corrections officers at risk. >> erfe: not at all. not at all.
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numbers don't lie. our incident rate is a lot lower in t.r.u.e. than it is in general population. >> whitaker: in the general population, violence is common. yellow uniforms i.d. dangerous convicts. warden erfe says in the two years of t.r.u.e., there hasn't been a single fist fight or assault on staff. >> daniel quinn: i don't know how, i don't know why, but it's working. >> whitaker: lieutenant daniel quinn was brought up using the old-school approach. now, he finds himself defending the t.r.u.e way. so what were you hearing from your fellow officers, who are not in this unit? >> quinn: we're here to wipe their noses. >> ashley mccarthy: cookies and milk. that's one i heard a lot of. >> quinn: cookies and milk. >> whitaker: lieutenant ashley mccarthy told us, in her nine years in corrections, she's never experienced anything like this. >> mccarthy: you don't have to put on the face of strength 100% of the time, because that's what you have to do in general population. you can't show a weakness, or a deficiency.
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>> whitaker: and here? >> mccarthy: it's more human, is what it is. >> erfe: it's kind if like going into la-la land, from general population. but, they quickly see that everybody is here to help. >> whitaker: what about punishment? you've got guys in here who've committed terrible crimes? >> erfe: their punishment is their incarceration. it's not our job as correctional professionals to punish somebody even more, while they're incarcerated. >> whitaker: t.r.u.e. aims to recast young lives with incentives. repeated bad behavior, like profanity and bad attitude, has gotten 12 shipped back to the general population. good behavior earns benefits, like longer family visits, movies, classes, a prison job. when shyquinn dix ended up here in t.r.u.e., he thought, "this can't be real." >> dix: i thought it was some b.s., because of just the stuff they were saying. i never even heard of it before. >> whitaker: like what? >> dix: like, "oh, the correctional officers and staff here care about you. you get a second chance at life
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if you take it serious." >> whitaker: you thought all that was b.s.? >> dix: yeah, definitely. >> whitaker: until corrections officer james vassar took an interest in him. impressed by shyquinn dix's talent and repentance, officer vasser said he'd help him pursue his dream of playing basketball in college. did you believe him? >> dix: nah, not at the time. i didn't. >> whitaker: what'd you see in him? >> james vassar: i seen a kid with talent that made a mistake. >> whitaker: for months, vassar called college coaches around the country. slowly, dix started to believe. >> vassar: we still needed to get acceptance into the college. we still needed a judge to approve a sentence modification. >> whitaker: so there are all these other-- >> vassar: steps. but they're longshots, and boy, we were hitting them. ( laughter ) >> whitaker: shyquinn dix could see a way out. festim shyuqeriu was lost. at 22, he was sentenced to 13 years in cheshire for robbing
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convenience stores and a bank. he told us he was selfish and violent. what's that like, being thrown into the general population in a maximum security prison? >> festim shyuqeriu: it's really scary at first. so, you put on a front and you act like you're tough, and i'm hoping people don't see how scared i am, and just, the mess that's going on inside. >> whitaker: 22 hours a day in the cell? >> shyuqeriu: yes, just waiting to be let out, like a caged animal. >> whitaker: when warden erfe selected him for the t.r.u.e. unit, shyuqeriu didn't care about improving himself. he just wanted out of his cell. but immediately, found himself in a different world. >> isschar howard: you have to grow some type of empathy. you have to care. >> whitaker: central to the program is intensive counseling. through peer and self-criticism, prisoners are forced to face the demons and behavior that put them behind bars. >> howard: how were you raised? did you have love?
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did you know love? did you know compassion? because i didn't even know my mother. >> whitaker: the warden told us today there's a lot of crying that goes on up here. that true? >> shyuqeriu: ( laughs ) i would have to agree with that. >> whitaker: what has made you cry? >> shyuqeriu: my family. the problem with awareness and understanding the pain you've caused people, is that you realize how much pain you've caused the people that love you. and once you have to face that and look at yourself in the mirror, that's tough. >> whitaker: to prepare the prisoners for life outside cheshire's walls, warden erfe tapped some unlikely helpers: respected, older prisoners serving life sentences. they are now trained to serve as mentors for the young men in t.r.u.e. isschar howard was one of the first to sign on. why? >> isschar howard: all we knew was, we was going to try and stop these young cats from becoming us.
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because you don't want this. >> whitaker: isschar howard shot and killed two men in a fight over drug turf in new haven. in prison, he assaulted inmates and staff, and spent a total of 5.5 years in solitary confinement, before deciding to take a different path. >> howard: if there's one thing i'm a expert in, it's screwing up. i have a ph.d in consequences. i can tell you what tear gas tastes like. i can tell you what it feels like to watch your family see you get sentenced to life without parole. and i can tell you the decisions i made to get to that. after that, the choice is yours. >> whitaker: howard and 20 other lifers are like attentive fathers. they enforce unit rules. >> howard: during the last evaluation, it was recommended that you work on your attitude. >> whitaker: working with staff, they constantly monitor the young offenders' behavior, and assess their progress at regular feedback sessions. >> howard: i always try to encourage you to speak a little more, because you have a lot of wisdom to give to your peers.
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>> whitaker: many people outside of prison would think that someone who is in for life wouldn't necessarily be the kind of person you'd expect or want to be teaching you life lessons. so, what have they done to help you? >> shyuqeriu: they've helped me learn how to speak in a way that i can articulate my thoughts and emotions, instead of just getting mad and wanting to hit something. >> whitaker: shyuqeriu told us he has grown under their guidance. he's earned the right to go to work every day in the prison shop. he now enjoys warm visits with his family. >> shyuqeriu: i feel like everybody has a basic human decency. it's just that it has to be nurtured, to bring it out. >> whitaker: and that's what happens to you in this program? >> shyuqeriu: if you let it. if you let it. >> howard: the greatest gift is when they telling me to my face that, "i'm not changing," and then, five months later, be on their best behavior.
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>> whitaker: you're in here for life. you could just sit there and say, "to heck with all this." so, what are you getting out of this? >> howard: redemption. i don't have to die a waste. i tell these guys all the time, they give me purpose to live. they give me something to leave behind. >> whitaker: for more than 100 years, the rock has been a hard place. the t.r.u.e. unit hopes to prove a softer touch can yield better results. officer james vassar convinced coach dan kane at presque isle to take a shot on a prison inmate. now, shyquinn dix is a big man on campus, and the pride of the t.r.u.e. unit. his jersey hangs on the wall.
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a month after leaving, he was back at cheshire-- not as a repeat offender, but an inspiration. >> dix: i'm trying not to cry. you all know me. i'm going to cry. you're making me cry. i'm so happy to see you all. i think about you all everyday. swear to god. >> erfe: keep your grades up. stay out of here, right? >> dix: yeah, definitely. >> erfe: and don't forget us when you get to the n.b.a. ( cheers and applause ) ( ticking ) >> welcome to cbs sports hq presented by progressive insurance. >> i'm greg gumbel in new york. in the n.c.a.a. member's basketball tournament, auburn defeated kentucky in overtime and is going to the final four for the first time. michigan beat duke. the spartans move on to the final four for the first time since 2015. saturday's final four is set. first game will be five seed auburn and one seed virginia.
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