tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS January 13, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
so hard to communicate with us. >> reporter: dr. michael lemole, the neurosurgeon who operated on giffords, said today that visit may have made all the difference. >> 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 and look around. >> couric: was her husband completely beside himself? >> he was-- it was dramatic. we didn't understand the importance of that. we didn't know that she had not opened her eyes, but when we watched mark, we knew. he was just gabby, can you see me? can you see me? and the love was so palpable, and you could just see that he was going to. >> couric: today doctors say it was a sign they could begin more aggressive physical therapy on giffords. they held her up in bed and dangle more aggressive physical therapy. but her attempt to open her eyes has been the most encouraging development yet.
>> it's like in the morning when you get up for work and you're about to have your cup of coffee her eyes stay 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. >> couric: giffords remains in critical condition, and as doctors have reported, recovery will be measured not in days or hours but in months. still, to the friends and family member who thought they'd never see her again her progress is nothing short of miraculous. >> miracles happen every day, and in medicine we very much like to attribute them to either what we do or what others do around us, but a lot of medicine is outside of our control, and we're-- we're wise to acknowledge miracles. >> couric: what is the first thing you'd like to do with gabby when she's well enough? >> hug her. i just want to hug her. >> couric: there are few tasks as difficult or as important as comforting a family that has suffered a loss. when it's the american family, the task falls to the president,
and president obama is being praised widely today for the words he used to ease the pain of tucson and the entire nation. our chief white house correspondent chip reid now has that story. >> reporter: for the grieving people of tucson, the president brought words of comfort and consolation. >> the hopes of a nation are here tonight. >> reporter: this from a president who during some previous crises such as the gulf oil disaster and the christmas day bombing was criticized by some to be detached and slow to lead. this time was different. the speech was the culmination of an intensive five-day effort that began immediately after the shooting to bring the nation together. >> rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let's use
this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully. >> i actually thought it was the best speech i've ever heard him give. >> reporter: even some of the president's toughest republican critics hailed the speech. >> i thought he did a really nice job of bringing the country together. i was very proud for the job he did. >> i thought he touched a chord with what america was feeling and we want the healing to begin. >> reporter: and it wasn't just the president who touched a chord. so did republican speaker of the house, john boehner, who also earned praise from both sides of the aisle for his focus on unity. >> this is a time for the house to lock arms in prayer for the fallen and the wounded and a resolve to carry on a dialogue of democracy. >> reporter: the big question now is how long will this feeling of unity last? the first big test is next week when republicans in the house plan to vote on repealing health care reform. katie.
>> couric: chip reid. chip, thanks very much. on the issue of unity, democratic senator mark udall of colorado is proposing democrats sit next to republicans at the state of the union address january 25 instead of in two separate sections. tonight, at least three other senators, all democrats, say they're in favor of it. the tragedy in tucson has many asking a familiar question: did warning signs go ignored? in this country, 45 million adults are diagnosed as mentally ill, 11 million of those cases are considered serious. but all too often, people who need psychiatric help don't get it. they fall through the cracks. and tonight, we put that issue in focus. ( sirens ) >> oftentimes when we have tragedies like this people were say, "there were no warning signs." >> he shot at people, and gabrielle giffords was shot. >> well, in the case of jared lee loughner, there were plenty of warning signs. loughner would laugh to himself
at inappropriate times and clench his fists and make faces just out of nowhere. >> couric: it's still unclear how big a role mental illness played in jared loughner's shooting rampage. >> when you look back on it now you say, oh, he was disturbed; he was unbalanced. were you trying to be nice to him in case he shot people? >> yes. yes. >> reporter: but there's a big leap from a guy in your class who you find creepy to a guy who shows up and just starts killing people indiscriminately. >> when he showed up on saturday with a semiautomatic pistol and an extended clip, that was the first time that the public had a chance to do anything about the threat, and at that point it was really too late. >> couric: the tucson shoot signature latest tragedy linked to a gunman believed to be mentally ill. >> the gunman started shooting at people. >> couric: colin ferguson killed six commuters on a new york train. russell weston killed two at the u.s. capitol, and sun wi cho murdered 32 people at virginia
tech. >> you're seeing police out with their weapons drawn. >> the two cases are hauntingly parallel. cho was a chilling character. when you saw the pictures, where he's posing with the guns, i had the same kind of flashback to that when i saw the mugshot of jared lee loughner. their actions can't be defended in any way, but you have to ask the question, was enough done ahead of time to try to short circuit that danger and help the individual and in loughner's case, the answer seems to be no. >> in retrospect it is easy to connect the dots. if anyone could have put those all together it would have been very clear what should have happened. >> couric: jared loughner slipped through the cracks in a society and health system that still fails to help people with a serious mental illness. what a poor job we are doing to treat these people. and what we're looking at in arizona is simply one of the cons qebss consequence
>> couric: for every 100 american adults, 20 have some form of mental illness. five have disorder classified as severe. they rarely pose a danger, but those odds increase without proper treatment. >> i am the mother of an adult young man who has been diagnosed with schizzo effective disorder. because he was an adult, the only way he could have gotten treatment is if the police came and took him away in handcuffs, and that was it. >> couric: privacy issues, access to treatment, and the stigma of mental illness are major barriers for families and friends looking to intervene. >> they're afraid to report somebody because they're afraid it will ruin their lives, and also there's some fear. maybe the person is going to come back and do something to them. >> couric: 25 states will not allow a person to be involuntarily committed unless he or she is an obvious danger or basic needs are not being met. >> the disease itself carries with it a lack of insight and denial.
so people say, "well, i'm perfectly fine. i'm not going to get help." that's part of the disease. if you have high blood pressure and i say, "you have high blood pressure and you need to take this pill, you'll probably going to do it. but if i say you have schizophrenia, you'll say "what do you mean? i'm perfectly fine." >> personal rights are very important. we protect people's civil liberties in this country but we protect them so well, for many of these people who are severely mentally ill and don't know they're mentally ill, we're simply protecting their right to be homeless or on the streets or in jail. we're protecting the right to continue to be sick. >> some states actually protect mental health records even more aggressively than records involving someone's physical health and the reason for that is we want to encourage people to seek treatment without being afraid that's going to be used against them or disclosed to authorities at some point. >> couric: mental health funding has been declining for decades. since 2009, states have cut more than $2 billion for mental health from their budgets.
>> each single part of the way where we fail somebody, we're all responsible. i think we fail people with mental illness. we give up on them because it's just too hard. >> here we go, more students. >> i've gone through columbine. i went through virginia tech. i've gone through some horrible, horrible shootings. no, i'm never shocked anymore. >> couric: congresswoman carolyn mccarthy's husband was killed when he was shot on the long island railroad by colin ferguson. he was paranoid and delusional. >> he just started shooting, and my husband was shot in the head. he died instantly. >> couric: now another man who appears to be mentally ill has gunned down her colleague. >> you sit there and go, "why? why?" >> couric: there's a growing movement to compel the mentally ill to get treatment. in new york, family members can
petition the court to force a patient to take medication, but doctors and mental health advocates worry change won't come fast enough to prevent the next tragedy. >> right now, we need to have a much better system in the united states of sounding the alarm. >> and until that happens these are going to continue to see these. i guarantee you. if anything, they're increasing in frequency. >> couric: research shows that with proper treatment and medication, people who have severe mental illness are no more likely to commit crimes than those who do not. and still ahead here on the cbs evening news, he got only "bs" and "cs" in government but managed to become president. the j.f.k. archives goes online. but up next, how the government wants to change the menu for school lunches. i'm not just someone who's quitting with chantix and support... our kids go to school together.
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guidelines will for the first time limit calories according to age groups, decrease servings of starchy vegetables and cut sodium levels in half, double fruits and vegetable servings, and require 50% of all breads to be whole grain. instead of hot dogs on a bun with raw veggies, whole wheat pasta with meat saugus, a whole wheat role and three cooked vegetables. why are these string beans just sitting there on a plate? >> because i eat them last. >> reporter: oh, really? will kids fall in line? >> the vegetables, nobody really eats them. >> reporter: but it's possible. the cambridge, massachusetts, school district changed its meal plan and in three years, 40% of overweight kids dropped to a healthy weight. >> they eat better. they're healthier. they're more alert. they're more weak. >> reporter: all across the country, 32 million students each school lunches five days a week, 11 million eat breakfast, too. the challenge: make those healthier meals affordable. will this increase the cost?
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>> reporter: ...john kennedy connected with younger americans which is why his presidential library is now putting everything possible online, hundreds of thousands of photographs, documents, even the president's doodles. >> we'll be able to give today's generation access to the historical record and challenge them to answer my father's call to service. >> reporter: so anyone researching kennedy's most famous call to service can learn that "ask not what your country can do for you" was handwritten in barely legible scrawl. his challenge to go to the moon was neatly typed and underlined. >> not because they are easy but because they are hard. >> reporter: kennedy's camelot moments are all there in photographs and there's film of an upbeat president joking that he won't put his library in washington. >> yes, i'm going to put it in cambridge, massachusetts. ( laughter ) >> reporter: but the deadly
serious cuban missile crisis is captured moment to moment in dozens of online recordings as the u.s. and soviets threatened nuclear war over russian missiles in cuba, j.f.k. asked former president dwight eisenhower how far he should go? >> what's your judgment as to the chance they'll fire these things off if we invade cuba. >> oh, i don't believe they will. >> you don't think they will? >> no. >> reporter: it's the kind of material historians used to spend months track down, all now available way click. >> you'll have a lot more people looking and thinking and probing into our presidential past. >> reporter: you won't find everything about kennedy's past. ♪ happy birthday... >> reporter: the marilyn birthday video isn't there, but struggling students might be inspired by president's report card. it seems the man who hand wrote that soaring rhetoric as president had improved over the "c" he got in english as a sophomore at harvard. wyatt andrews, cbs news, washington. >> couric: and that's the cbs evening news. i'm katie couric. thanks for watching.
good night. captioni descending into governmental chaos. an empty mayor's chair, deleted computer files. the bay area city descending into governmental chaos. a bay area politician faced with a dui charge now off the hook. why prosecutors say their case was sunk by bad timing. and why would seven middle school students eat rat poison? good evening, i'm allen martin. another bay area city dealing with a different kind of money problem tonight and it could leave san carlos without its own fire department. mark sayer on the options the city is looking to save money. >> reporter: they hope to make a final decision about fire protection here in the next