tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC January 13, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
fun to go to that. >> world news is next. >> from all of tonight on "world news," hope. gabrielle giffords opens her eyes, moves her arms and legs, and her doctors talk about medicine and miracles. fury. with so many weather extremes, deadly flooding and mudslides around the world, monster snowstorms in the u.s., what is happening on the planet? a warning about a popular painkiller in prescription drugs. how much of the drug in tylenol is too much? and, christina. the youngest victim in tucson laid to rest. from 9/11 to last saturday, we look at the lessons from the 3,407 days she was here. good evening. good evening.
and welcome to "world news." we begin tonight with vivid scenes of great hope and great loss from today in tucson, arizona. the loss, that magical little girl. the flag that once flew at ground zero on 9/11 was raised at the funeral of 9-year-old christina-taylor green, born on september 11th, 2001. last night, you may remember the president called for a democracy as good as christina imagined it. while across town, there was a leap of hope inside that university hospital where doctors trained in science and fact talked about miracles. last night, the president announced that congresswoman gabrielle giffords, struggling with that bullet to her brain, had opened her eyes. and today, we learned even more, and david wright is in tucson tonight to tell us about it. david? >> reporter: good evening, diane. the doctors here at this hospital indeed are sounding the most hopeful yet. not only did they confirm the president's bit of good news today, but they also told us
that giffords is now moving on her own and even touching her wounds. just imagine the excitement in that hospital room when giffords, surrounded by the sisterhood from congress, suddenly opened up her eyes. >> we were saying, come on, gabby, as soon as you're out of here, we'll take you on a double date. and then all of a sudden, she literally raises her whole hand. she did a full hand thumbs up. >> reporter: president obama got to break the news to the nation last night. >> gabby opened her eyes for the first time. >> reporter: and the crowd at the memorial service erupted. that's giffords' husband, clutching the first lady's hand. we've since learned, amazingly, that less than an hour before, the congresswoman herself was touching her husband's wedding ring. >> and she reached over and she grabbed his ring and she reached further to hug him, and so, like, her arm was just by his face and it was unbelievable. >> i was there when she was surrounded by her friends from the congress and senate. and i think it was a
combination, perhaps, of the unexpected but familiar that really prompted her to open her eyes. >> reporter: the doctors say it wasn't a reflex. she recognized him. >> it means that she's making the progress that we could hope for her. >> reporter: today, the doctors offered more encouraging news. they were able to hold giffords upright. her legs dangling off the hospital bed. and she moved both of them. >> gabrielle, you know, lift your legs up and she would lift both legs up. straighten both of them up. >> reporter: doctors have been watching closely for signs of paralysis. the potential for that is huge with a brain injury. in giffords' case, the bullet went straight through the left side of her brain. only 10% of patients even survive such a devastating wound. giffords is exceeding all expectations. >> you know, she's yawning, she's starting to rub her eyes and then she'll spontaneously
wake up. where as before, she would just go back to sleep right away. she's arousing, the eyes stay open, stays open for long periods of time. and then if you were to put stimulation in front of her, you can tell that she can see. >> reporter: the next milestone doctors say will be removing the tube that is helping giffords to breathe. her recovery now is out of their hands. although they continue doing everything they can. to some extent, the doctors can just sit back and pray with everyone else. >> yes, miracles happen every day, and in medicine, we like to very much attribute them to either what we do or others do around us, but a lot of medicine is outside of our control and we're wise to acknowledge miracles. >> reporter: so many prayers being offered here and around the country, somebody up there seems to be listening. still, a long road to go, diane, but tonight, diane, it seems to be hopeful. >> thank you, david, for reporting from outside the hospital. and dr. richard besser is here. you listened to every word in that press conference. what was the most important thing the doctors said to you? >> reporter: what really grabbed me in the press conference is what they said about the right side of her body.
she took a bullet to the left side of her brain and that controls movement on the right side. and they said not only did she move her hand and foot but they sat her up, and she lifted her leg against gravity. that says she has strength, not just movement. and that is really a tremendous finding. >> and david told us the next thing is taking the breathing tube out. will they know instantly if she speaks? >> reporter: they'll know something right away. you know, with a tube in, you really can't talk. with that out, she'll be able to make some kind of sound, if that's possible. but even if she doesn't make a sound then, it doesn't mean over time that as the swelling goes down, and things improve, that she won't regain function. but it is a critical moment. >> so, the biggest worry now, days ahead? >> reporter: well, the biggest worry, the brain swelling is no longer the worry. it's getting her out of intensive care. 1 in 20 people in the hospital will get a hospital-acquired infection. getting her out of the intensive care unit, getting the tube out, getting her ivs out, that will do her very well and make sure that she doesn't pick up
something she didn't come in with. >> reason to smile and hope again tonight. >> reporter: very hopeful. >> thank you, dr. besser. and on the investigation tonight, for the first time, we hear those police tapes and those first frantic moments when it was clear the police knew they had a mass shooting on their hands in tucson. and pierre thomas has been reviewing the tapes released late today. pierre? >> reporter: from the first radio transmissions, it was clear something horrific was unfolding. >> we have a shooting at the safeway, a man with a semiautomatic weapon. yunlts responding, advise. >> reporter: soon it becomes clear that a congresswoman has been shot. >> we have a caller who believes that gabrielle giffords was shot. it's multiple victims. it sounds like many people are shot. >> we have at least seven, eight, maybe ten gunshot wounds here. we're going to need -- we have -- i believe giffords is here. >> reporter: moments later, an army of law enforcement and rescue personnel is racing to the scene. >> start multiple med units. people down, i'm counting at
least ten. >> and how many victims do we have? >> there are multiple victims. we need a lot more units here. >> i need robbery and assault detectives called out. please advise them, multiple, multiple victims. >> reporter: loughner was arrested at the scene. >> customers have tackled the suspect. they are holding him down at the safeway. >> reporter: today, at the command center for the loughner investigation, the hunt for clues continued. by early afternoon, a possible break. a young man walking a dog found a black bag near the loughner house. >> he's telling us that in the bag is what appears to be ammunition and some items from what he described to us from a local walmart. >> reporter: on the morning of the shooting, loughner's father saw him with a black bag. police also know loughner bought ammunition from walmart on the morning of the shooting. >> this is one critical piece of evidence that we've been looking for. >> reporter: if it is the same bag, police are hoping it will provide an answer to the nagging question. why did loughner want to kill congresswoman giffords?
that's the frustrating thing, diane. police, friends and neighbors say we may never know why this happened. >> pierre thomas reporting from tucson, as well, tonight. and, we do have one other note from the hospital in tucson. one of the wounded, ron barber, a staff member for congresswoman gabrielle giffords, ventured out of his hospital room in a wheelchair today so he could take a first-hand look at the growing memorial outside. and later in our broadcast, the funeral of 9-year-old christina-taylor green, and the lessons from her life. in other news right now, the fda launched a major crackdown today against the overuse of one of the most popular painkillers on the market, acetaminophen. that's the drug in tylenol. the target of today's action is the amount of the drug in prescription painkillers. the danger? liver damage. which led us to ask, prescription or over the counter, how much of the drug is too much? here's andrea canning. >> reporter: it's the key
ingredient in many of the most common medications found in your home, acetaminophen, found in products like tylenol, nyquil and theraflu. but while affective in small doses, taking too much of the product is the leading cause of liver failure in the united states, sending 56,000 americans to the hospital each year. about 200 of them die as a direct result. today, the fda began to try and turn the tide on this quiet crisis, ordering drug makers to reduce the amount of the drug in prescription medications by as much as 50%. the problem is that patients taking medicines like vicodin often don't realize they contain significant amounts of the drug, leading to overdoses when they supplement with their over the counter medications like tylenol. but what about the safety of the over the counter medications themselves? in 2009, an advisory committee recommended the fda to lower the amount of the drug, which they
still have not done. >> the maximum dose is said to be four grams a day. that's eight extra strength. to be really safe, i would suggest three grams per day, which would be six extra strength tablets. >> reporter: critics say today's announcement is a good first step. but the government still needs to do more. >> the fda's action today has no affect on what amounts to 80% of the acetaminophen that is used in this country. >> reporter: andrea canning, abc news, new york. and now, what about all this weather? the experts on climate change say the evidence is in. 2010 is tied for the hottest year ever on record. and last year, it was the wettest one in recorded history. and those scientists say that's why we're reeling from the deadly weather extremes, as linsey davis reports. >> reporter: it seems natural disasters are becoming everyday occurrences. just today, in southeast brazil, this woman plucked from raging waters. more than 340 people have died there in floods and mudslides.
floods in queensland, australia, have ravaged an area the size of france and germany combined. many residents are being rescued from rooftops. and for some, the only way home is by boat. >> things are pretty devastating. >> reporter: officials in sri lanka say flooding there has affected more than 1 million people. >> we are measuring certain types of extreme events we would expect to see more often in a warming world. and these are, indeed, increasing. >> reporter: many scientists say global warming is responsible for the sudden force behind the forces of nature. >> this is no longer something that's theory or conjecture or just something that comes out of computer models. we're observing the climate changing. it's happening, it's real, it's a scientific fact. >> reporter: the decade that just ended had nine of the ten warmest years since they started keeping record in 1880. scientists say that means more moisture in the air, contributing to torrential, flooding rains around the world.
and here in america, that means snow. lots of it. during yesterday's snowstorm, both in hartford, connecticut, and albany, new york, they set records for snowfall in a single day. >> if left unchecked, climate warming will continue and so the things that we're having hints now, forecasts of now, will become stronger. >> reporter: many scientists say the forecast is looking more and more extreme. linsey davis, abc news, new york. and still ahead on "world news," can your loved ones help you heal just by being near? the science of healing through the mystery of love. and, two little girls, one entering the world and one leaving it. and the lessons they both impart.
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is helped by having a loved one beside their bed, touching them, talking to them. >> we can't really quantify that component that family and friends bring, but we know that it exists and this is a true example of that. >> reporter: abc's bob woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in iraq. he insists it was the presence of his wife and his children, there at his bedside while he was still in a coma, that helped him recover. >> rubbing my feet, whispering in my ear, reading me books. and i think, you know, there is no science, facts, medical knowledge that proves that having a family around you, while you're in that hospital, in recovery, and that moment after you wake up, that it actually has a huge effect on you surviving and teaming a lot faster. >> reporter: but science is beginning to understand how human interactions help sick people recover. a duke university study looked at thousands of patients with serious heart disease and broke them down into two groups.
whose who were married and had people close to them. the second group, unmarried with no close personal support. the researchers found that half of the so-called socially isolated patients died within five years, compared to just 18% of those with social support. >> the most likely mechanism that could be accounting for the help that being around a loved one who is touching you and that you know is there for you would be reduced levels of stress hormones like adrenaline. >> reporter: reducing the patient's stress allows the body to focus on healing. in fact, a report in the archives of internal medicine found that social isolation in heart patients was as unhealthy as smoking. and our medical unit contacted over 100 doctors about this today. many gave examples where they themselves have seen this kind of healing before. someone gravely injured who got better with family and friends around them. and some even said just having those supportive relationships, diane, in a patient's life, helped them actually recover.
>> even if they are not physically present. >> reporter: just having that relationship. >> and i know, ron, you're going to put online everyone to read, some of the responses you got from doctors. fascinating. >> reporter: doz ps dozens and dozens, yes. >> great to have you here tonight. and coming up, it was a shining phrase in our nation's history, "ask not what your country can do for you --" we'll tell you how it almost never happened. do? well, it gets me the tools and research i need to help me make informed decisions. with fidelity, i can invest in stocks, bonds -- all at a great price. wow! yeah, wow! so i wasn't playing much of a role in my own life. but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now, i've got the leading part.
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a rule that school lunches must change by 2012. if you remember all those tater tots and fries from the school cafeteria, they're gone. going forward, just one starchy vegetable a week. instead, healthy green vegetables will be served every day. fruits every day. and there will be a limit on calories, too. and, what if you could cure your fears by writing them down? a new study found if students spend ten minutes listing their fears before a big exam, their scores increase 5% over time. fearful students who do nothing saw their scores drop 12%. doctors think writing down your fears makes them less mysterious, so your brain is less distracted. and, it is a phrase that echoes through our nation's collective memory. >> ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. >> reporter: today, we got to see how john f. kennedy tinkered with that phrase.
in a dog-eared draft, visible online, he penciled in an option. ask not what america will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. history is grateful for the choice he made. it's just one of the fascinating documents in the kennedy library's digital debut today. the first presidential library now online. part of the 50th anniversary of his inauguration. and, coming up, lessons from one little girl's lifetime, bookended by tragedy, but filled with hope. what a beautiful way to get fiber everyday. that's the beauty of benefiber. it has the cold-fighting power of an effervescent packed in a liquid-gel for all over relief! hiyah! dude!
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a little girl who just entered this world, on the very day another little girl lost her life in tucson. >> reporter: at the funeral today, christina green's parents looked up at the national 9/11 flag, and then followed their daughter's casket into the church. christina was a third grader with an early interest in politics, which is why she went on that ill-fated trip to meet her congresswoman this past saturday morning. it is because of her bright-eyed, uncynical approach to public service that christina is now being held up as an example of civility in these uncivil times. by these tucson elementary students who, today, started something called "christina's challenge," during which they promise to recognize random acts of kindness. >> she cared about other people, and i think that, like, all people should be like that. >> reporter: and, by president obama, himself a father of a 9-year-old girl. >> and in christina -- in
christina, we see all of our children. so curious, so trusting, so energetic. >> reporter: looking back at christina's life, you can chart the ups and downs of american civility. she was born on 9/11. a day when americans came together. by the time she was 3, however, the war in iraq was raging and some were calling president bush a war criminal. when christina was 7, another moment of national unity, the election of our first black president. but a year later, the president, accused of being a liar. and, at age 9, christina died in that brutal attack, which has once again provoked a surge of national unity. of course, america has always gone through periods of division, followed by periods of harmony. and some people argue it's our combative national style that is part of what makes us so strong.
but this tragedy now has people asking, can we do better? today, we met the parents of baby allie mcintyre, who was born just hours after christina and the others were killed. these new parents insist change is possible. do you think it's possible that your child could grow up in a country where we start to get it right? >> yeah, i believe that's entirely possible. and, i mean, there's a lot of hope for this new generation. >> reporter: and they say they will do their part by raising allie in christina's spirit. dan harris, abc news, tucson. >> as the president said, curious, trusting, full of possibility. thank you for being with u this commission failed the people of california and residents in my district by your culture of complacency. >> thank you, mr. hill. >> angry confrontation over the pipeline explosion s public utilities commission doing its job? >> in sacramento, california
voters may not get a payout what they think about governor brown's budget pro pose yl. -- proposal. >> bud beg -- bud begs and more, duz yebz told to get out where w.nowhere to turn. >> after 70 years an institution closes doors over a nuisance on the san francisco water front. >> good evening air, bay area lawmaker practically storms a public utilities commission and tempers flared. >> it's over how the commission has been regulating pg&e leading toupt explosion. >> and we now have today's fire work autos new governor jerry brown will be appointing two, or possibly three new commissioners at the cpuc. brown has power to replace the current president with another commissioner. it was with that in mind that