tv PBS News Hour PBS December 25, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> sreenivasan: good evening, i'm hari sreenivasan. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, on this christmas day, an examination of president trump's claim that he's ended the so-called "war on christmas." then, young rohingya refugees finding a new home in chicago. it's monday, which means amy walter and tamara keith are here to talk about politics. why the president is taking to twitter to denounce the deputy f.b.i. director. and, from the members of the armed services, a special rendition of "carol of the bells." >> ♪ gaily they ring while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas >> sreenivasan: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> 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: messages of peace marked christmas celebrations around the world today, from the u.s. to the u.k. to the vatican. pope francis used his christmas remarks to call for a two-state solution in the israeli- palestinian conflict. speaking to a crowd of thousands, he also urged an end to confrontation on the korean peninsula, as well as in syria, iraq, yemen and elsewhere.
>> ( translated ): today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the child. we see jesus in the children world-wide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts. >> sreenivasan: britain's queen elizabeth used her christmas address to remember the victims of terror attacks in london and manchester. president trump sent his christmas greetings today as well. in a white house video with the first lady, mr. trump urged americans to "renew the bonds of love and goodwill between our citizens." mr. trump is spending his first christmas in office with his family at his estate and private club in palm beach, florida. elsewhere, it was a white, cold christmas for millions of americans in the northeast and great plains. forecasts called for up to eight inches of snow in parts of new england, while areas in the midwest saw wind-chill temperatures well below zero. meanwhile, nato soldiers in kabul today donned santa hats and celebrated the holiday with
a roast turkey dinner. in the day's other news, israel's prime minister praised guatemala's plan to move its embassy in the country to jerusalem. the central american nation is the first to follow president trump's lead on the change. guatemala was among a small handful of countries that voted against a united nations resolution denouncing mr. trump's recognition of jerusalem as israel's capital. the u.s. says it's negotiated a significant cut in the u.n.'s budget. the u.s. mission to the u.n. said the body's 2018-2019 budget would be slashed by more than $285 million. it wasn't immediately clear how the change would impact the u.s. contribution. but ambassador nikki haley said she wouldn't let "the generosity of the american people be taken advantage of." election officials in russia have banned opposition leader alexei navalny from running for president. navalny had been convicted in a fraud case, which was seen by outside observers as a way to sideline him. after the decision, navalny called for a boycott of the
election in march. >> ( translated ): i am saying with absolute certainty that the decision of the central election commission, in case it is made, to bar me from the election will exclude millions of people from this election. it will exclude millions from the political system itself because it won't allow them to take part in the election in any way. >> sreenivasan: navalny is seen as the most serious challenger president vladimir putin has faced, but putin is expected to easily win a fourth term in the march election. authorities in vietnam are bracing for the arrival of tropical storm "tembin." it claimed some 200 lives in the philippines over the weekend. about a million people are being evacuated from vietnam's southern areas, where "tembin's" winds and rain could start hitting tonight. the government says thousands of fishing boats shouldn't go out to sea. at least six people are dead, after a suicide bombing in afghanistan's capital. the islamic state group claimed responsibility for the attack. the suicide bomber struck near the afghan national intelligence agency's headquarters in kabul. at least three others were wounded. the former authoritarian leader of peru has received a medical
pardon. alberto fujimori was serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads. the 79-year-old was in power in the 1990s. demonstrators took to the streets in lima, protesting the current president's decision to pardon fujimori. they called the move a political deal. still to come on the newshour: president trump's promise to end what's been called the "war on christmas." rohingya refugees living and attending school in chicago. it's politics monday. we explain why the president is lambasting the deputy f.b.i. director, and much more. >> sreenivasan: as millions of christians in the united states and around the world celebrate today as the birth of jesus, president trump is taking credit for the return of the phrase "merry christmas." he tweeted: "people are proud to be saying merry christmas again.
i am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. merry christmas!!!!!" william brangham takes a closer look at what's behind the so- called "war on christmas." (cheers and applause) >> brangham: from the campaign trail -- >> by the way, we're also going to be saying merry christmas again. >> brangham: to the white house. >> we are saying merry christmas again. >> brangham: president trump has taken a vocal stand on saying merry christmas. >> we can and people are saying merry christmas again. >> brangham: merry christmas never went away. >> i want to wish every american a merry christmas. >> merry christmas to you, happy holiday. >> merry christmas and god bleth you all. >> three, two, one! (cheering) >> brangham: but as president trump marks his first christmas tree -- christmas in
the white house, he is taking a stand on the "war on christmas." >> as the original war on christmas five-star general -- >> the war on christmas heads to "sin city." >> boca raton florida is ground zero for the war on christmas this year. >> brangham: county trump's pro christmas message seemed to rally christians to his side which many thought a hard sell for a thrice married man who rarely spoke of any religious belief. one in four americans are evangelical christians and they overwhelmingly supped him 5 to 1 over hillary clinton. despite the president's push to say merry christmas again, america's attitude towards the holiday seems to be shifting. a pew research survey found for the first time less than half of americans celebrate christmas as purely religious and one-third say it is a cultural holiday. when shoppers head to the store
spending an average on $983 on gifts, how they wanted to be greeted changed as well. just one-third of americans wanted stores to say merry christmas. more than half said it doesn't matter. that didn't stop a pro trump organization from spending $1 million on tv ads starting today to say thank you. >> thank you, president trump, for letting us say merry christmas again! >> brangham: to talk about how politics and christmas intersect and how christians mark the birth of jesus, i'm joined by two evangelical thinkers and leaders. tony perkins is president of the family research council, and amy sullivan is author of the party faithful and co-host of the podcast "imply company." welcome to you both. tony, i'd love to start with you. we saw just before president trump relishing how he gets to say merry christmas and that's the way the country is going to be joining him. how important is that to you and fellow evangelicals?
>> i think it's important, but from a standpoint it's emblematic of a bigger debate that's within raging in this country an that is the ability to express one's faith openly without concern, and i think the president, when he made that a campaign issue, tapped into something a lot of people just didn't understand that there were a large number of evangelicals, christians, in this country that felt increasingly uncomfortable about expressing their faith, especially at christmastime when we celebrate the birth of jesus christ, to whom, as christians, that is our lord and savior and it is a very, very important and special time of the year. >> brangham: amy, what is your take on this? >> i would think jesus would not really care if we said merry christmas, but i think there are things jesus cares about. i think the over-focus on consumption around christmastime, even the fact that it's become, as we've
talked about, more of a secular holiday for people to spend with family and to focus on exchanging gifts hath r rather than actually being in church. that can be a concern to those of us who see it as a celebration of the birth of our savior and, yet, there are a whole lot of churches who, today, aren't having services, even though it's christmas day. >> brangham: tony perkins, what difference does it make what somebody days says to me when i walk into a wal-mart? i know jews and muslims doesn't fill their faith is impeached because no one says merry ramadan. what difference does it make? >> saying merry christmas is a buzz word, a co-word the president tapped into recognizing people want to be free to express their faith. is it a huge deal when you're going to a store and buying
something for christmas somebody says merry christmas, not in the context itself, but in the context of the bigger issue of what we're seeing in our culture in our country. i would agree with amy, i would much rather see people in churches worshiping the lord and savior. >> brangham: the pew study i mentioned before, seems like the country is moving toward this being a more secular, less religious holiday, already. >> well, it's been a less religious holiday for a long, long time. anybody who has a small child who is obsessed with santa claus or, more recently, elf on the shelf knows how -- >> brangham: definitely non-biblical interventions in christmas. >> exactly. it's really hard to fight against those influences, yet, for a lot of people, that's kind of the sum total of what christmas is. but i would push back a little bit against the idea that most christians are really concerned about kind of the broader issues
behind what christmas stands for. i mean, the way we've seen it portrayed in popular culture and particularly on news networks like fox news, bill o'reilly and the american family association have really honed in on who are the corporations who are, you know, full of christmas spirit, which department stores are hanging happy holidays banners, i think the mistake has been in the larger debate to focus on these secular arenas instead of focusing on bringing them back to the church. >> brangham: tony per kens, what about the idea, as amy is indicating, there are very strong economic forces, not political forces, that are making christmas the way we think of it with trees and gifts and consemption. isn't that a larger force you would like to push back against? >> i don't disagree with that. i think when you look at retailers determine whether or not they're going to be successful with their black
friday sales leading into christmas and the whole christmas season determining whether or not they're successful, it does become about the dollar and that's not what christmas is about. i want to go back to your pew research focus. there were interesting things in that, in that 90% of americans do actually celebrate christmas, and two-thirds of americans believe in the biblical account or elements of the biblical can'account of the birth of chr. so there is still a lot of commonality in the birth of christmas and what it means. >> brangham: do you think that when president trump picked up this call it took on such a force and seemed to align christian voters who many thought would not be on trump's camp and put them on his side? >> well, i think it's a good applause line that appeals to the idea that christians are being persecuted and it fits right in with president trump's division of the country between us and them. in my house, i'm an evangelical christmas and we celebrate
christmas. but my husband is jewish, we also celebrate hanukkah. and the idea that our celebration of hanukkah makes my belief in jesus christ as my savior and my celebration of christmas less special or less recognized, it's just not one that i can subscribe to. i think that the table and the public scare is big enough for all of us. >> brangham: tony perkins, what about amy's point that her husband's celebration of hanukkah doesn't really impact her celebration of christmas or my celebration in any real way? >> well, i don't disagree that the table is big enough for everybody, but the issue has been that there have been some, and you look at the policies of the previous administration, that wanted people to keep their favorite hidden or been the four walls of their church or their synagogue. when you look at policies like the h.s.s. mandate that penalizes the little sisters of the poor with mandatory contraception and their healthcare plans. look, we should be tree to
exercise our faith publicly, and christmas is probably the most profound december play of faith that we have in our culture today, and that's what the president was tapping into. it wasn't about what happens in those 31 days of december or from thanksgiving until christmas day. it is more about public expression and the freedom to live out one's faith without intimidation by government or the broader culture forces. >> brangham: tony perkins, amy sullivan, thank you both very much for being here today. >> thank you and merry christmas. >> sreenivasan: various refugee crises dominated news headlines this year, including rohingyas, more than a million of whom have fled their homes in myanmar. many have ended up in camps in bangladesh, but some have made
it to the u.s., and the majority of those have settled in the midwest part of the country. from pbs station wttw in chicago, paris schutz has the story of rohingya refugees who have made the windy city their new home. >> reporter: in many ways, hasan is a typical chicago high schooler. the 14-year-old is the captain of his club soccer team. he attends sullivan high school in rogers park, and has a close knit group of friends. but hasan's new life is the result of a harrowing escape from his home region of the rakhine province of myanmar, formerly known as burma. he says the burmese military burned his village down, forcing him and his family to flee for their lives. >> the buddhist come to our country. they burned our house. they killing muslim people. >> reporter: hasan says he was taken in by a rohingya family in malaysia, before coming to the united states as a refugee. he says he has not seen or heard
from his biological family since. >> i lost my whole family. wherever we go, we run, and we just don't know. >> reporter: and you just had to run off on your own? >> yeah, yeah. >> reporter: hasen is one of dozens of rohingya students in the chicago public school system with similar stories. 19-year-old salamat says his parents arranged for his escape from myanmar but could not afford to leave themselves. like hasan, he came here with the help of the united nations high commission on refugees. he worked at o'hare and says he's sent all of his earnings back to his parents. >> i am sending money to them, so hope they will be safe. >> reporter: he says he's able to talk to them online every day, and they are in constant fear of the buddhist burmese military, which has systematically forced rohingya out of the country. >> they call us terrorists. they kill everyone, every children, every woman, they fire into the home. >> reporter: if salamat and hasan are dealing with the aftereffects of post traumatic stress, it certainly doesn't
show. >> do you struggle with everything that's happened? >> maybe not. i think about my family in my head. i try to find my family, but here i can go school, i can learn new things. >> reporter: sullivan high school has a large refugee population. assistant principal matt fasana says administrators regularly care for kids who have experienced traumatic events. >> even the little things tip them off, a kid is norlly talking and experiencing, and then all of a sudden, not. that's a red flag. >> reporter: students can also get support at the rohingya culture center in chicago's rogers park neighborhood. it bills itself as the only such center of it's kind in the country. >> we bring our culture here. they take away our culture in
burma, so this is... we make >> reporter: nasir zakaria was one of hundreds of thousands of rohingya that originally fled to bangladesh. he then traveled to thailand and malaysia before coming to chicago as a refugee. he says he landed a job as a dishwasher at rivers casino before becoming the full time administrator of the culture center, and says there are few people that love and appreciate their new country more than the rohingya. how is your life in chicago? >> it's amazing. life in chicago, right now we are free. >> reporter: the culture center says there are more than 1500 known rohingya living in chicago, and that that's the highest rohingya population of any city in the country. the culture center offers free english and assimilating to american life. but the optimism the chicago rohingya feel is counterbalanced
by the constant fear of what's happening in myanmar. >> i'm always worried, every day. i'm worried about my family. today they are alive. tomorrow, i don't know if they are alive or not. >> reporter: nasir says the rohingya have always had a tenuous relationship with the ruling buddhist majority in myanmar, but the conflict escalated in 2012. now, rohingya are not recognized as citizens. nasir says the rohingya had hoped that the current leader, aung san suu kyi, who is a former political prisoner that won the nobel peace prize, would focus on human rights. but the plight of the rohingya has only gotten worse under suu kyi, which has caused widespread condemnation from world leaders who describe it as ethnic cleansing. >> myanmar reviles them right now as not really legitimate pe. they are stateless right now, the largest group of stateless people in the world. people that live in rakhine province largely live in
concentration camps. >> reporter: chicago congresswoman jan schakowsky recently visited myanmar and says the u.s. and u.n. need to pressure suu kyi to end the crisis. nasir says suu kyi had enthusiastic support from the rohingya, and she has let them down. >> my heart is broken for her. from my heart, i want to say, she is a liar, number one. she don't have any justice. >> reporter: for now, the rohingya focus on building their lives in chicago. salamat says he wants to be a pilot one day. hasen wants to continue to improve at soccer. all of the rohingya students struggle to live a normal life, with the specter of ethnic cleansing in their native country weighing heavily on their minds. i'm paris schlitz for the pbs newshour in chicago.
>> sreenivasan: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: from the newshour bookshelf, a work on the simple pleasures of life. and "carol of the bells"-- a special rendition by the u.s. armed forces. but first, before heading to florida for christmas, president trump signed the republican tax overhaul into law, ending the year with a big win for the republican majority in washington. john yang is here with a look back and a look ahead at this week's political news. >> yang: hari, to talk about that, and more, we are joined by our politics monday team: tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." tammy, amy, thanks for being here. christmas came early tore the republicans. got their tax bill last week. the president yesterday pointed out that the bill not only includes taxes but opens up the arctic national wildlife refuge to oil exploration and repeals the individual mandate. he said the bill brought it
together as to what an incredible year we have. tam, let me start with you. where does this leave the republicans as they begin 2018? >> this tree has a lot of ornaments on it from the wp wish list. it leaves them having accomplished something. it doesn't mean 2018 will be easier. they're going to have a one vote narrower margin in the senate which will make things harder to get done. what you hear mitch mcconnell saying is he thinks he will have to do things in a more bipartisan way than they did in 2017. it would be hard to do things in a less bipartisan way than they did 2017. it was an incredibly partisan year in which almost all the accomplishments the republicans had were the republicans alone. >> that's right. you know, the interesting thing about where the relationship is now between republicans in congress and the president, this has been an on again, off again sort of relationship, for
earlier in the year, a lot offwas off again relationship with the president taking to twitter to talk about his own party especially with the failure of obamacare. now it's an on again relationship with the passage of the tax bill. where there is work to be done, republicans have to get an on again relationship with their own voters, especially congressional republicans. remember at the height of discontent toward the president and congressional republicans and republican leaders, republican voters were saying they trusted president trump more than congress. they thought the leaders in congress, republican leaders weren't doing enough fast enough. they were blaming them for stuff not getting done. so mitch mcconnell may want to get stuff done in 2018. the first thing he has to do is repair the relationship with the voters and the second thing is to sell the tax bill. even among republican voters, they may say they like it but they're not as deeply in love with it and excited about it as some to have the republican members who voted for it, especially those who say that they voted for president trump.
i was looking for polling about this. they voted for president trump not simply because they liked him but more because they disliked hillary clinton. they are less enthusiastic about this and i think that it's the job of republicans spending a lot of 2018 getting them excited about this legislation. >> yang: you talk about this agenda for the next session of congress. they're talking a lot about welfare reform, they're talking about infrastructure. are there opportunities to work together on this for bipartisanship on this? >> yeah, so the president talks about welfare reform. democrats hear that and say, no thank you. the president talk about infrastructure and the folksle exists -- you know, back in the old days, like ten years ago, infrastructure was something that was bipartisan. transportation bills sailed through with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle. since then, transportation bills
have become quite contention, and there is a fundamental disagreement betweenrooms and democrats about how these things should be paid for, how much of a public element there is, how much of a private element there is. the other thing, paul ryan is talking about wanting to do entitlement reform, tackling medicaid, medicare, possibly social security, and mitch mcconnell on the is that side says, whoa, whoa, want to do bipartisan, don't know if we could do that, don't know if we could do healthcare in 2018. so in some ways, republicans will have to get on the same page with each other as well. >> the president when campaigning said don't worry, no cuts to medicare, medicaid, we're not touching any of those things. the other thing that has to come up, daca, taking care of and dealing with the issueo the so-called dreamers. we know by march if a deal isn't cut these folks are no longer eligible to be here and are
eligible for deportation. this is an issue that should be bipartisan. the vast majority of americans support some way for the folks to stay in the country but the politics are more complicated and we know where it will get tied up is the issue with the border wall. democrats can move to the republicans side on border security on the wall, they will put up their hands. so this will be a fascinating and more immediate fight that we're going to see. >> yang: i want to torn to the russia investigation and the president versus the f.b.i. he habit hing at andrew mccabe, the deputy director of the f.b.i., since the campaign, talking about his wife ran for the virginia state legislature, got some money from the governor of virginia and a fundraiser for the clintons.
now comes the word "the washington post" says he will retire as soon as he's eligible for a pension. the president over the weekend called that racing the clock to retire with full benefits, 90 days to go, the president said. tam, they keep telling us at the white house that there is no talk, to thought about firing robert mueller. is this their way of discrediting mueller, discrediting the investigation, going after the f.b.i. now? >> this is a way of creating a haze, cloud, a fuzz, mud i didn't think the waters, or pick your terrible analogy, that, you know, president trump and his allies are certainly sort of working the refs and making sure that if something does come out of this that there will sort of doubt and, you know, there are congressional investigations that are look at, you know, should they look at the clintons, should they look at uranium one. there's been this growing cloud
and haze that president trump and his allies are trying to create around the investigations. >> not surprisingly how you feel about robert mueller, how you feel about this investigation, has as much to do with your party identification than anything else. it will also be interesting if the report from mural comes out and it does not have in it something that many democrats believe should be in it which is, you know, really implicating the president or those directly around him, will they accept the findings of mueller if they don't like what's many it? and i would suspect the answer will be, no. >> yeah, it is a fascinating thing. mueller had sort of widespread support from both sides of the aisle when he was first appointed, and that has been eroding, particularly on the republican side, even though he is a republican. >> yang: very quickly, later this week the control of the house of delegates in virginia which has been in republican hands since 1999 is going to be decided by pulling a name out of a bowl.
this is a race that, in a recount, was tied, and then a judge including a ballot thrown out, it's on the screen now, both names marked, thrown out in the recount, judges threw it back in, gave it to the republican by one vote. now control is coming down to this. we've had talk about the russians meddling in the elections, the republicans, the f.b.i. meddling in the elections. the white house has a commission looking at ball rot integrity. now you've got this. what does this say about where we are? >> this is actually not that unusual. we don't have ways to break a tie. remember, they've already had a recount. if you look at the ballot, the entire ballot was filled with republicans, this person voted for every single republican, then voted for this democrat, seemingly crossed it out. but we've also seen legislative races in the past decided by to incrosses, the one who literally has the short straw. the interesting thing about where this ends up is the
virginia legislature is going to have to be more bipartisan than it's ever been, whether 51-50 or 50-49, the governor is a democrat, he's going to be working with an an evenly divided legislature. could this be people working together? >> our system is not perfectenned where it's particularly imperfect is disputed elections and ties. >> yang: tamera keith, amy walter, thank you very much. >> you're welcome, yep. >> sreenivasan: this week, we are showcasing one of our most significant reporting projects of the past year: the impact of the opioids epidemic and efforts to address it. just a few days ago, the federal government released its latest numbers, and found life expectancy in america declined in 2016 for the second straight year, the first time that's happened since the early '60s. opioids account for a major part
of that. more than 42,000 americans died from opioids last year, a 28% jump over the previous year. west virginia has the highest death rate among all states, with 52 overdoses deaths per 100,000 residents. earlier this year, i traveled there for our special series, "america addicted" to get a sense of just how this crisis has changed the very fabric of life. >> 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 with an 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 >> harley: 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 "charleston 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: online, explore our entire series america addicted. we have created a special page to showcase all of our reporting. that's at pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: now, a meditation on the simple pleasures of living. jeffrey brown has this latest addition to the newshour bookshelf. >> brown: it was an unusual international literary phenomenon. the six volume, 3,600 page series titled "my struggle" was an unusual form, dubbed an
autobiographical novel. in it, norwegian author karl ove knausgaard wrote in great an intimate detail of his life. now comes a new book titled "autumn," written as a letter to his unborn daughter with short essays describing the world she'll be born into. karl ove knausgaard joins me now. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: so after this enormous undertaking of the six volumes, you write a more quiet book, letters and thoughts to your daughter. were you trying to narrow things down? >> very much so. i mean "my struggle" is very much about my interior life and about psychology and relations and inner turmoil and i just lifted my gaze and wrote about the opposite which is what's outside of my and what's in the world. and at the same time we expected a child and i just wanted to write about the simple things, the simple pleasures of life and the world to her. >> brown: what did you want to tell her?
i mean you say i want to show you the world as it is now. >> yeah. >> brown: what did that mean to you? it's not the big stuff. >> no no, it's very much the small stuff. it is many of the insignificant things i'm writing about. for instance, toothbrush or toilet bowl or a glass of water but also the sun and the moon and it is kind of. yeah i wanted the feeling, to see the complexity of the world and that everything is somehow valuable. i mean maybe this is maybe a bit naive, but that's what i want to present to her. >> brown: that there's value in the banal or the everyday. >> yes and the thing is that when you grow up you lose sight of the world you know as kind of an automatic, you know what everything, how everything works, you stop seeing it and i kind of wanted to transform myself into a child almost and try to see the world as it once
were, new and open and fresh. >> brown: well that's what comes through. you're a writer wanting to see the world right? >> yeah. >> brown: this is your daily exercise i would think anyway. >> yeah it's true. it is just a, like a, it becomes more visible when i don't write about people but about things in itself, but i also wanted somehow, these are four books, so this is the first and it goes through the seasons and i also wanted to establish some kind of trust in the world to her. that's a very important part of it. there are some dramatic things that happen and i wanted to insure her that that is also part of life, the darkness, the dark thing also is a part of life and try to lay everything open, so to speak. >> brown: in "my struggle," everything as you said was so introspective and you have said
that you wrote this because you were tired of introspection. >> yeah. >> brown: which means what, you wanted to get away from yourself in some way? >> yeah, exactly. exactly what i wanted. and it is also interesting because if you follow a path, so in my struggle it is my father and my father's death and my relationship to him, if you follow that it makes it possible to say this about the world, but at the same time something else exists, the world and the beauty in the world is kind of a parallel existence to that. and through this form i could talk about that instead and that is the magic of literature and of literature form that things appear in them that you don't think of before you start to write. but if you do it in this way then the things in the world start to appear in front of you and i think that's why i write because i love that experience. >> brown: and these were written sort of every day a different essay, right? them, but rubber boots, birds of prey, loneliness, feelings,
short essays, it feels a little random but i'm wondering if it was random, did you wake up thinking, knowing what you were going to write about? was there a theme or pattern? >> it is very randomly. i love the concept of encyclopedia with the whole world exists in writing. but i wanted kind of a personal encyclopedia and it is randomly it's like every morning i had like 400 books on my screen and i scrolled through it and i spent maybe an hour before i could pick. and then i would pick the right- >> brown: really? that's how did it? >> yeah. and then knew i had to write this word, there was no escape and that's why it took so long to pick the word. and then i wrote the word for maybe two hours or so, and that was the day of writing. and it's also a matter of composition, i kept everything i wrote, so all the bad stuff is in there too, but the thing is if you compose, if it's just a
one piece or two piece, it's okay and then you maybe have a third piece that changed, you know. there is kind of a intuitive composition, like if you imagine an art gallery around you have lots of paintings side by side and they can change the impacts of the one change the other. but it's all intuition, it's all about the emotions and not rational stuff at all. >> brown: but that was all about you being, i mean that's also a part of what you're trying to do as a writer. >> yeah, it's true. when i sat in front of something and wanted to write about it, for instance a toothbrush, there's really nothing to say about it, you know. >> brown: i think we all have that experience every morning. >> yeah. but then you start to write and something happens and it's like things just opening up and you see it's loaded with meaning it's so charged, everything. and you can't think out that,
you can't calculate that, you have to lose every thought you have about the world and just try to write and then it appears something. and that something has to surprise me, if not, i'm not interested. >> brown: all right, the book is called "autumn." karl ove knausgaard, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: and finally on this christmas night, we continue a tradition we started a few years ago where we ask the u.s. military to recite a holiday poem or tale. tonight, musicians from the air force, army, navy, marine corps and coast guard sing and perform "carol of the bells." this video was produced by an agency called the "defense media activity," an organization within the pentagon. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> ♪ hark how the bells, sweet silver bells,
♪ all seem to say, throw cares away ♪ christmas is here, bringing good cheer, ♪ to young and old, meek and the bold ♪ ding dong ding dong that is their song ♪ with joyful ring all caroling ♪ one seems to hear words of good cheer ♪ from everywhere filling the air ♪ oh how they pound, raising the sound, ♪ o'er hill and dale, telling their tale ♪ gaily they ring while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas ♪ hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, ♪ all seem to say, throw cares away ♪ we will throw cares away christmas is here, ♪ bringing good cheer, to young and old, ♪ meek and the bold. ♪ ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong oh how they pound, ♪ raising the sound, o'er hill and dale, ♪ telling their tale gaily they ring ♪ while people sing songs of good cheer, ♪ christmas is here
merry, merry, merry, ♪ merry christmas, merry christmas ♪ merry, merry, merry, ♪ hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, ♪ all seem to say, throw cares away ♪ we will throw cares away christmas is here, ♪ bringing good cheer, to young and old, ♪ meek and the bold. ♪ ding dong ding dong that is their song ♪ with joyful ring all caroling ♪ one seems to hear words of good cheer ♪ from everywhere filling the air ♪ oh how they pound, raising the sound, ♪ o'er hill and dale, telling their tale ♪ gaily they ring while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas ♪ hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, ♪ all seem to say, throw cares away ♪ we will throw cares away christmas is here, ♪ bringing good cheer, to young and old, ♪ meek and the bold. ♪ ding dong ding dong that is their song ♪ with joyful ring all caroling ♪ one seems to hear words of good cheer ♪ from everywhere filling the air ♪ oh how they pound, raising the sound, ♪ o'er hill and dale, telling their tale ♪ gaily they ring
while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas ♪ ding dong ding dong that is their song ♪ with joyful ring all caroling ♪ one seems to hear words of good cheer ♪ from everywhere filling the air ♪ oh how they pound, raising the sound, ♪ o'er hill and dale, telling their tale ♪ gaily they ring while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas ♪ hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, ♪ all seem to say, throw cares away ♪ we will throw cares away christmas is here, ♪ bringing good cheer, to young and old, ♪ meek and the bold. ♪ ding dong ding dong that is their song ♪ with joyful ring all caroling ♪ one seems to hear words of good cheer ♪ from everywhere filling the air ♪ oh how they pound, raising the sound, ♪ o'er hill and dale, telling their tale ♪ gaily they ring
while people sing ♪ songs of good cheer, christmas is here ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas, ♪ merry, merry, merry, merry christmas ♪ ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong on on they send, ♪ on without end, their joyful tone ♪ to every home ♪ ♪ >> sreenivasan: 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 h 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 broadcasting. 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
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