tv PBS News Hour PBS February 16, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight... >> this administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. >> woodruff: on the offense-- in an animated, wide-ranging news conference, the president takes on charges of russian connections, the news media and a new immigration order. >> sreenivasan: and, making sense of what's driving a surge in deaths among middle-aged white americans. >> in the past two, two and a half years, we've had about a 300% increase in the drug related overdose ambulance runs. and the prevalence of opiate addiction in this area continues to increase. >> woodruff: plus, the battle over sanctuary cities-- a look at how the divide between local and federal immigration authorities is playing out in
texas. >> sreenivasan: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and
inclusive economies. more at rockefellerfoundation.org >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: after days of setbacks-- a cabinet nominee dropping out, a resigned
national security adviser, and a court rejection of his travel ban-- president trump went on the offensive today. at a 77 minute long news conference, he rejected charges of ties between his campaign and russia, blasted the intelligence community for leaks, and repeatedly attacked the news media. the president said he "inherited a mess" -- at home and abroad -- but dismissed the notion of a white house in turmoil. >> i turn on the tv, open the newspapers and i see stories of chaos. chaos. yet it is the exact opposite. this administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that i can't get my cabinet approved. let me list to you some of the things that we've done in just a short period of time. i just got here. and i got here with no cabinet. again, each of these actions is a promise i made to the american people.
i'll go over just some of them and we have a lot happening next week and in the weeks, in the weeks coming. we've withdrawn from the job- killing disaster known as trans pacific partnership. we're going to make trade deals but we're going to have one on one deals, bilateral. we've undertaken the most substantial border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe. and are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border, met the price is going to come down just like it has on everything else i've negotiated for the government. and we are going to have a wall that works, not gonna have a wall like they have now which is either non-existent or a joke. we've begun preparing to repeal and replace obamacare. obamacare is a disaster, folks. it is a disaster. i know you can say, oh, obamacare. i mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how
they get there, but they are not the republican people our that representatives are representing. so we've begun preparing to repeal and replace obamacare, and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back, to bring our jobs back to this country. big league. it's already happening. i have kept my promise to the american people by nominating a justice of the united states supreme court, judge neil gorsuch, who is from my list of 20, and who will be a true defender of our laws and our constitution, highly respected, should get the votes from the democrats. you may not see that. but he'll get there one way or the other. this last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country. again, i say it. there has never been a
presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time. and we have not even started the big work yet. that starts early next week. >> sreenivasan: the president also faced repeated questions about russian contacts with officials in his campaign -- and about firing national security adviser mike flynn. "the washington post" reported this evening flynn denied to the f.b.i. last month, that he discussed lifting sanctions, with the russian ambassador. but, intercepted communications indicate he did. >> mike flynn is a fine person. and i asked for his resignation. he respectfully gave it. he is a man who-- there was a certain amount of information given to vice president pence who's with us today and i was not happy with the way that information was given. he didn't have to do that because what he did wasn't wrong. what he did in terms of the
information he saw. what was wrong was the way that other people including yourselves in this room were given that information. because that was classified information that as given illegally. that's the real problem. i've talked to all of the folks in the vary yowtion agencies, and i've actually called the justice department to look into the leaks. those are criminal leaks. they're put out by people either in agencies. i think you'll see it stopping because now we have our people in. again, we don't have our people in because we can't get them approved by the senate. >> did you discuss sanctions with the russian ambassador. >> no, i didn't. >> no, i didn't. >> prior to your -- >> no, i didn't. >> inauguration. no, i fired him because of what he said to mike pence.
very simple. mike was doing his job. he was calling countries and his counterparts. so, it certainly would have been ok with me if he did it. i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't doing it. i didn't direct him, but i would have directed him because that's his job. >> i can tell you, i own nothing in russia. i have no loans in russia. i don't have any deals in russia. president putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election. he then called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific. but so did many other leaders. almost all other leaders from almost all other countries. so that's the extent. russia is fake news. russia... this is fake news put out by the media. the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false,
horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with russia. and probably putin said, you know, he's sitting behind his desk, he's saying, you know, i see what's going on in the united states, they follow it closely, it's going to be impossible for president trump to ever get along with russia because of all the pressure he's got with this fake story. okay. >> is putin testing you do you believe sir? >> no, i don't think so. i think putin probably assumes he can't make a deal with me anymore because politically it would be unpopular for a politician to make a decision. i can't believe i'm saying i'm a politician, but i guess that's what i am now. it would be much easier for me to be tough on russia, but then we're not going to make a deal. now, i don't know that we're going to make a deal. i don't know. we might. we might not. but it would be much easier for me to be so tough -- the tougher i am on russia, the better. but you know what? i want to do the right thing for the american people. and to be honest, secondarily, i want to do the right thing for the world.
can you say whether you are aware whether anyone who advised your campaign had contact with russia during the course of the election, a yes or no answer? >> i told you general flynn was... >> during the election? >> nobody i know of. >> you're not aware of any contacted during the course of the election? >> how many times do you -- i have to answer this question? >> can you just say yes or no? >> russia is a ruse. i know you have to get up and ask a question. it's so important. russia is a ruse. i have nothing to do with russia. haven't made a phone call to russia in years. don't speak to people from russia. not that i wouldn't. i just have nobody to speak to. i spoke to putin twice. he called me on the election. i told you this. and he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago. we had a very good talk, especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. i'm sure you probably get it because it was classified. so i'm sure everybody in this room perhaps has it.
but we had a very, very good talk. i have nothing to do with russia. to the best of my knowledge no person that i deal with does. >> woodruff: mr. trump also defended his ban on travelers from seven mostly muslim nations. it's been blocked in federal court. today, the justice department announced the order will be rescinded. the president said a new one is coming, and he addressed the fate of immigrant children, shielded from deportation under the daca program. let me tell you about the travel ban. we had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. but we had a bad court. got a bad decision. we had a court that's been overturned. again, may be wrong. me, a lot.it's 80% of the we had a bad decision. we're going to keep going with that decision. we're going to put in a new executive order next week some time. but we had a bad decision. now, what i wanted to do was do the exact same executive order, but said one thing. i said this to my people.
give them a one-month period of time. but general kelly, now secretary kelly, said if you do that, all these people will come in and the bad ones. you do agree there are bad people out there, right? that not everybody that's like you. you have some bad people out there. kelly said you can't do that. and he was right. as soon as he said it i said wow, never thought of it. i said how about one week? he said no good. you got to do it immediately because if you do it immediately they don't have time to come in. now nobody ever reports that. but that's why we did it quickly. >> can you give us more details on the executive order you plan for next week? even it's broad outlines. >> it's a very fair question. >> will it be focused on specific countries? in addition, on the daca program for immigration-- what is your plan? do you plan to continue that program or to end it? >> we're going to show great heart. daca is a very, very difficult subject for me, i will tell you. for me it's one of the most difficult subjects i have because you have these
incredible kids in many cases, not in all cases. in some of the cases they're having daca and they're gang members and they're drug dealers too. but you have some absolutely incredible kids, i would say mostly. they were brought here in such a way, it's a very tough subject. we are going to deal with daca with heart. i have to deal with a lot of politicians don't forget and i have to convince them, that what i'm saying is, is right and i appreciate your understanding on that but the daca situation is a very very, it's a very difficult thing for me because you know, i love these kids. i love kids. i have kids and grandkids and i find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and you know, the law is rough. i'm not talking about new laws, i'm talking about existing law is very rough. it's very, very rough. as far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to the what i consider
to be a very bad decision but we can tailor the order to that decision and just about everything and in some ways more, but we're tailoring it now to the decision. we have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it and the new executive order is being tailored to the decision we got down from the court. okay? >> sreenivasan: on russia and other topics, the president's scorn of news coverage was on full display. he insisted news organizations are giving a skewed, negative view of his actions-- and are woefully out of touch with the country. >> many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth, and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. and i hope going forward we can be a little bit-- a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that's possible. maybe it's not, and that's okay, too. unfortunately, much of the media in washington, d.c., along with
new york, los angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. the press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the american people. tremendous disservice. we have to talk to find out what's going on, because the press honestly is out of control. the level of dishonesty is out of control. and i'll tell you something, i'll be honest, because i sort of enjoy this back and forth that i guess i have all my life but i've never seen more dishonest media than frankly, the political media. i thought the financial media was much better, much more honest. but i will say that, i never get phone calls from the media. how did they write a story like >> you said the news is fake.
i guess i don't understand. if the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be... >> the reporting is fake. >> i just want to ask... >> you know what it is? here's the thing, the public, they read newspaper, they see television, they watch. they don't know if it's true or false, because they're not involved. i'm involved. i've been involved with this stuff all my life. but i'm involved. so i know when you're telling truth or when you're not. i just hear many, many untruthful things. i tell you what else i see, i see the word tone. you know the word "tone"? the tone is such hatred. i'm really not a bad person, by the way. no, but the tone is such-- i do get good ratings, you have to admit that-- the tone is such hatred. well, you look at your show that goes on at 10:00 in the evening. you just take a look at that show. that is a constant hit. the panel is almost always exclusive anti-trump. the good news is he doesn't have good ratings. but the panel is almost exclusive anti-trump.
and the hatred and venom coming from his mouth; the hatred coming from other people on your network. remember i used to give you a news conference every time i made a speech, which is like every day. tomorrow they will say donald trump rants and raves at the press. i'm not ranting and raving. i'm just telling you. but-- but i'm not ranting and raving. i love this. i'm having a good time doing it. but tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, "donald trump rants and raves." look, i want to see an honest press. when i started off today by saying that it's so important to the public to get an honest press. the press-- the public doesn't believe you people anymore. now, maybe i had something to do with that. don't know. but they don't believe you. if you were straight and really told it like it is, as howard cosell used to say, right? of course, he had some questions also.
but if you were straight, i would be your biggest booster. i would be your biggest fan in the world, including bad stories about me. but if you go-- as an example, you're cnn, i mean it's story after story after story is bad. i won. i won. >> woodruff: throughout the he said "this is going to be a bad question" before calling on reporter april ryan of american urban radio networks. >> when you say the inner cities are you going to include the c.b.c. mr. president in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda as well as... >> am i going to include? >> are you going to include the congressional black caucus and the congressional hispanic caucus... >> are you going to set up the meeting? do you want to set up the meeting? >> no, no, no. >> are they friends of yours? >> i'm just a reporter. >> no, set up the meeting. >> i know some of them but i'm sure... >> lets go set up a meeting. i would love to meet with the congressional black caucus. i think its great. the congressional black caucus i think its great. i actually thought i had a meeting with congressman
cummings and he was all excited. and then he said oh i cant move it might be bad for my political... i cant have that meeting. i was all set to have that meeting. you know we called him and called him. and he was all set. i spoke to him on the phone. very nice guy. >> i hear he wanted that meeting with you as well. >> he wanted it. >> sreenivasan: for the record: the congressional black caucus says it has been asking to meet with the president, but never received a response. that leads us to our final highlight: an exchange where mr. trump was called out for making another false statement. >> we got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. i guess it was the biggest electoral college win since ronald reagan. >> very simply you said today that you have the biggest electoral margin since ronald reagan with 304 or 306 electoral votes. in fact president obama got 365 in 2008-- >> well i'm talking about republicans. >> the president-- president 332. and george w. bush 426 when he
won as president. so why should americans trust you--- >> well now i was given that information. i don't know. i was just given that. we had a very, very big margin. >> i guess to answer my question, why should americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake when you are providing information that is fake. >> well i don't know i was given that information. i've actually i've seen that information around but it was a very substantial victory. do you agree with that? >> you're the president. >> okay, thank you. >> sreenivasan: and our own lisa desjardins joins us from the white house. >> sreenivasan: what do you think he said about michael flynn that he had a replacement in mind. >> we do have some news. we can't get two minutes today without more news. cbs and the financial times are reporting that general robert harwood, who was the trump choice to replace mike michael , has declined to take that position. that leaves a key position in
the white house still to be filled. the white house seems to be searching. we asked the white house for comment. they have not gotten back to us, but the report that trump's choice to replace flynn has declined to take the job. >> sreenivasan: lisa, at the top of this press conference was news that the president wanted to make, was the nomination for the don't -- department of labor. >> another name overlooked is alexander acosta. he -- mr. trump would like him to lead the labor department. he's the first hispanic to serve as an assistant attorney general covering civil rights. also he was on the national labor relations board. that in particular is important, because that's his main qualification as far as we know for this labor job. currently he's the dean of the college of law at the florida international university. he would be first hispanic on president trump's cabinet. we're waiting for reaction from capitol hill to his name. he is well-known here and one
thing the white house likes, hari, in particular, is he's gone through the confirmation process before the senate three times. >> sreenivasan: one thing i want to follow up on, something you were asking the president today, what's the latest with the executive order? >> such a critical piece of information. the president says he will have a new order out next week. it seems that this next order is an attempt to almost replicate the past order but line it up so that it passes some kind of court muster, and it also seems reading between the lines and i have one source indicating that they have not figured out exactly how to do that yet. that's why it hasn't been released yet. the white house still designing this executive order, but pay attention to mr. trump's words today, hari. he also said this is extreme vetting, that they had to move up more quickly because of the ninth circuit ruling. so this is something they were looking at more long term, but they seem to be incorporating it into an executive order next week. it doesn't seem like it's all the way fully baked, but it's
going to be significant when it comes. >> sreenivasan: finally, why did they have this press conference today? briefly. >> i think there were a lot of reasons, just the headlines themselves and the white house struggling to respond to them. they wanted to get the president out himself to do it. there was also something this president does best on his feet and he's very engaging. and you can say, he was enjoying the back-and-forth with the press. so there was a lot of that. >> sreenivasan: lisa desjardins joining us from the white house, thanks so much. >> you got it. >> woodruff: and for two different viewpoints on today's memorable press conference, i am joined by kansas secretary of state kris kobach. he was a top adviser to mr. trump during his presidential campaign and transition process. and "washington post" columnist ruth marcus. welcome back to the program to both of you. riewrkt i'm going to start with you. this is the first sort of wide-ranging full-blown news conference we've seen from this president in several weeks. what did you make of it overall? >> it was as everybody has been
saying, an extraordinary event. i think it had kind of three audiences. one audience was the president himself. i think he likes to do this sort of government by improv. he did campaign by improv. now he's doing government by improv. i think it made him feel better. you could see him enjoying himself i think there is a core of trump supporters, as he said during the campaign, he could shoot somebody on 5th avenue, they are not rattled by anything they've seen, they're sticking with him, so they're happy to sort of see him back out there being trump. i thought it was less successful with the third audience, which is the most important, there are a bunch of people that are never going to be for democrats polls show will never be for trump, but there are trump voters and others who are wigglers who i think would certainly not be reassured by this performance, not being reassured by him say
contrary to all evidence that this is a well-functioning machine. >> woodruff: kansas state representative kris kobach, was this reassuring? >> to many conservatives and many republicans, it was reassuri in that it is the first time we've seen a conservative president express vocally at a press conference the bias he feels and many of us feel have been given in the coverage toward the trump administration. so he's sort of holding the press's feet to the fire while he's taking their questions, and it's combative, it's interesting, and i think you'll see a lot more people turning into these press conferences. it used to be that conservatives who were in government, like myself, would get what we felt was unfair coverage, we'd go home, grumble, complain, but we wouldn't say anything to the reporter or to the reporters while they're asking us additional questions. he's very confrontational, and i think that's refreshing. so i think it actually is going to be good. and i think the public is going to take an interest in these press conferences much more so
than in past presidencies. >> woodruff: ruth, it is the case this president goes on about the press virtually every chance he gets. we heard that today. it took so much time in his news conference. you and i know, we've covered this for a long time. every president feels that he has gotten unfair, dishonest coverage from the news media. is there something quantitative, qualitatively different about the coverage of this president? >> absolutely, both quantitatively and qualitatively. other presidents behind the scenes mutter epithets about us, he calls us the lowest form of human life to our face. other presidents tried their best to go around the media that they don't think are expressing their views, president trump just is very, very vocal about that and much more... spends much more time being vocal about that. the question i have, certainly i agree with kris that this is must-see tv. if you're interested in ratings,
if that's the test of a successful presidency, this is... we're doing great here. i don't think that's the test. and his basic argument was to try to distract from the russia story and the other bump, they're all fake news, but it can't simultaneously be that we're really upset about leaks and then the leaks are fake. that's where i thought his argument fell short. >> woodruff: what about that, kris kobach, this notion that you can say all day long that you're getting dishonest coverage, go after the press, but in the end, does that help him govern? >> sorry, i missed the last part? >> woodruff: does it help president trump govern by spending so much time criticizing the news media? >> that's a great question. i think it may. time will tell because we haven't seen a president challenging the press's coverage right after he gets it. and let's remember, it's a mixed bag. there are some programs.
i think pbs "newshour" is very balanced and plays it down the middle, but other programs do not. i think you will see if it helps him govern, for example, take the example of the travel ban. that was characterized by some media outlets as a muslim ban, which i think is an inaccurate term. and i think any fair person would agree that's inaccurate. it's a temporary travel ban on seven countries, which have majority muslim population, but many, many other countries, the vast majority of the muslim world is not covered. so that's an example where he then took the press to task and said, no, this is not their coverage, and i think there has been more accurate coverage since then. so it may help him govern, but i think it's going to be case by case. in some cases it will. maybe in some cases it won't. >> woodruff: ruth said clearly there were another of other questions about contacts between the trump campaign and russia. he repeatedly said he wasn't aware of any such thing. does that put all those questions to rest? >> the trump administration only wishes that all those questions were put to rest.
what we know is that he was briefed about contacts between the campaign and intelligence officials. he says he's in the aware of any, but there are clearly things out there. he got this story about general flynn, who he says was terribly treated by us in the news media, yes he fired him because he was misleading about these contacts. i think we're just beginning to get the beginnings of the story about what has really happened with russia and with general flynn and possibly with the trump campaign. >> woodruff: secretary kris kobach, secretary of state of kansas, what about the russia question just quickly. we did hear as ruth just said, i would have told my national security adviser to go ahead and talk to the russian ambassador about sanction, but if that's the case, why was that something that we now know or apparently
michael flynn didn't level with the vice president and others about? >> i think i heard the question. again,i apologize for the earpiece. i think the president is relating what he remembers and what he has understood to be the communications that he's aware of, and i think he was very clear, and i think it's correct that the reasons for mr. flynn mr. flynn's, general flynn's departure were matter of trust, not a matter of any violation of law or regulation. so i do think this particular one is being perhaps blown... i think the president was frustrated by the press coverage, which really seems to be making a mountain out of maybe in the a molehill, but not a mountain, that blowing this particular personnel question way out of proportion. >> woodruff: well, he went on for an hour and 17 minutes, much more to discuss. thank you both for being here. ruth marcus, kansas secretary of state kris kobach.
>> sreenivasan: in the day's other news, the senate narrowly confirmed congressman mick mulvaney to run the white house budget office. the tea party conservative from south carolina was approved, 51 to 49. senator john mccain joined all 48 democrats in voting "no"-- because of mulvaney's support for defense spending cuts. the new budget chief also favors trimming entitlement programs like medicare and social security. >> woodruff: the president's nominee for ambassador to israel says he's sorry for some of his fiery rhetoric. david friedman apologized today for inflammatory criticism of president obama and hillary clinton -- and for calling a liberal jewish group "worse than kapos." that was a reference to jews who helped the nazis. but several democratic senators challenged friedman over his language, as they grilled him at his confirmation hearing. >> the diplomat has to choose
every word that he or she uses. so why should i believe that these were just emotional expressions and that you now understand the difference between that role and that as a diplomat? >> if you want me to rationalize it or justify it, i cannot. these were hurtful words. and i deeply regret them. they're not reflective of my nature or my character. >> woodruff: friedman has strongly backed israeli settlements and opposed palestinian statehood. but today, he said he'd be "delighted" if a two-state solution can be achieved. meanwhile, the head of the arab league today warned against moving the u.s. embassy to jerusalem. it said it would be explosive for the situation in the middle east. >> sreenivasan: islamic state bombers carried out two deadly strikes today, killing 130 people. in southern pakistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a famous sufi muslim shrine. at least 75 people died there,
and hundreds more were wounded. hours earlier, in iraq, a car bomb ripped through a shiite neighborhood in baghdad. the death toll there was at least 55. >> woodruff: in russia, a kremlin spokesman warned today that political turmoil in washington has put a damper on improving relations with u.s. and, president vladimir putin called for restoring contacts between u.s. and russian intelligence agencies. but at nato headquarters in brussels, defense secretary james mattis said the u.s. is not ready for any military collaboration. >> our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward where russia, living up to its commitment, will return to a partnership of sorts here with nato. but russia is going to have to prove itself first and live up to the commitments they have made in the russia-nato agreement. >> woodruff: at the same time, mattis said there is "very little doubt" the russians have interfered with elections in a
number of countries. >> sreenivasan: authorities in malaysia have arrested two more suspects in the assassination of kim jong nam, the north korean leader's half brother. he was attacked monday at a malaysian airport. local news accounts say north korean agents poisoned him, but results of an autopsy have not been released. north korea's kim jong un is widely suspected of ordering the murder. >> woodruff: back in this country, production workers at boeing's plant in south carolina have rejected an effort to unionize, for a second time. the aircraft maker had campaigned for weeks against efforts to organize its plant in north charleston. president trump plans to visit the facility tomorrow. >> sreenivasan: stocks were mixed on wall street today. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly eight points to close at 20,619. the nasdaq fell four points, and the s&p 500 slipped two. >> woodruff: and, a game changer from the people who make "monopoly": the thimble is out. hasbro says players voted out the piece that's been part of
the classic board game since 1935. now, they're voting on a replacement. the candidates include monster trucks and flip-flops. >> sreenivasan: still to come on the newshour, what's causing more white men to die in middle age. sanctuary cities take a stand against the president's immigration policies. and an english professor's take on her own life as an immigrant. >> woodruff: now, economics correspondent paul solman takes a look at a demographic trend that is surprising the experts. in spite of decades of advancements in healthcare, diet and safety, white american males are now living shorter, not longer, lives. it's the latest installment of making sense, our weekly economics series. >> reporter: maysville, kentucky, in the the northeast corner of the state, just a short bridge away from ohio.
despite some merchants' best efforts at cosmopolitan outreach, the downtown is struggling. but at one local establishment, business is brisk, and growing. >> this is the batesville 20- gauge steel protector. >> reporter: this one is churchill blue. >> churchill blue. we can get this in a misty rose for the ladies. >> reporter: david lawrence manages the knox and brothers funeral home, is also the county coroner. he's been seeing a lot of dead white males of late, especially ages 45 to 54. >> a lot of it due to alcohol or drug abuse. >> there has been a denham practicing medicine. >> reporter: craig denham wears multiple hats too. >> this small bag is my grandfather's medical kit. >> reporter: a fifth generation kentucky family physician, >> my great great grandfather's. >> reporter: he's also medical director for the fire department's emergency service. >> in the past two, two and a half years, we've had about a 300% increase in the drug related overdose ambulance runs. and the prevalence of opiate
addiction in this area continues to increase. >> he's like mom, it's nothing that you did, it's me. >> reporter: becky manning's son got hooked on drugs. fortunately, he's still alive. >> almost 40 now. >> reporter: but she blames the drugs in part for her husband's suicide. >> he just carried this tremendous guilt for everything, for our son doing drugs. then he started getting depressed and then my husband took his own life. >> reporter: how did he do it? >> he blew his head off. i came home to that. >> reporter: best friend marcy conner's husband also killed himself. >> he developed alcoholism very young in life. >> reporter: an addiction he shared with lifelong friends. >> one died with a heart attack, but drug use and alcohol use played all the way through his life. another one died of cancer, drank up to the very end. and my husband actually had a g
tube in, a feeding tube in, and poured alcohol down his feeding tube until he died. >> alcohol poisoning. >> reporter: these cases fit a disturbing national pattern. though u.s. life expectancy has been going up steadily over the last century, there's now been a sudden and dramatic reversal, for just one demographic. >> white non-hispanics in american middle age are dying in large numbers >> it was certainly a huge surprise to me. >> reporter: economists angus deaton and anne case, who are married, published their finding just after deaton won the 2015 nobel prize in economics. the paper showed that, starting in 1999, the death rate of middle aged white americans has been going up instead of down. >> we thought we must have made an error, i mean, the whole world is getting better. this middle aged group is one that's benefited most, at least
since 1970, from advances in the treatment of heart disease, from people quitting smoking-- all of those things and suddenly for this trend that's going down just to reverse out seemed like it had to be wrong but it was not wrong. >> reporter: the big increase was in what case calls deaths of despair: alcohol-related liver disease, suicide, drug overdose. >> people kill themselves slowly with alcohol or drugs, or quickly with a gun. for people aged 50-55, for example, those rates went from 40 per 100,000 to 80 per 100,000 since the turn of the century. and it's people with a high school degree or less who are killing themselves in these ways in large numbers. that's the group that's getting hammered. >> and now, the c.d.c. is paying more attention to that age group and demographic. >> reporter: ellen kumler, a public health doctor for mason county, kentucky, says the latest data from the centers for disease control pick up where
the case-deaton study leaves off. >> when we look at the suicide rate, when we look at unintentional injuries, a lot possibly related to substance abuse, as well as liver disease. the rates of those issues have actually increased. >> reporter: marcy conner is a nurse specializing in substance abuse who has experienced deaths of despair time and again in her own family. >> i had a brother that committed suicide, also. >> reporter: and two cousins, one of them a nurse. >> and he started telling me that his depression medication wasn't working as well, and pain medication wasn't working as well, and he lost his temper at work one night and got fired. >> reporter: got fired. >> they found him hanging in his garage. >> reporter: and your other cousin? >> she overdosed. >> reporter: and why so much drug use and abuse? anne case and angus deaton found something else in their study. >> since at least the mid 1990s
people's reports of pain, of sciatic pain, of neck pain, of lower back pain year on year have increased. >> our best strongest pain medicines are the opioids. >> reporter: the mid-1990s was also when the opioid pain killer oxycontin was approved by the f.d.a., and began to be marketed aggressively to doctors. >> they do not have serious medical side effects and so these drugs which i repeat are our best strongest pain medications should be used much more than they are for patients in pain. >> reporter: within five years the drug's maker, purdue pharma, was earning a billion dollars year profit on oxycontin, which soon rose to $3 billion. as for the lack of serious side effects? well, it did have one: >> it's basically heroin in a pill with a f.d.a. label on the front. so people get addicted to this. >> i started on oxycodone, or oxycontin, in high school. >> reporter: elizabeth easton is
now in recovery. >> i unleashed something horrid in me many years ago from doing one, one pill. i went from taking them to snorting them to, yeah, injecting, which is really, really horrid. >> reporter: because you've got to have it. >> you have to. it's the only thing that makes you feel normal. and it's the farthest thing from normal. >> it controls your life. you're a different person. >> reporter: that's what becky manning saw in her son. >> seeking and finding his next high was his priority no matter who he took down with him. >> the brain is telling you, i've got to have it again. i need more. so that's where you end up with a craving. the craving ends up with you know seeking supply. >> reporter: and though lawsuits and a government crackdown have helped curb the supply of oxycontin, cheap heroin is more than filling the void. >> if you can't get your pain pills that you're abusing, you're going to find the source somewhere, and so people are turning to street drug heroin,
which is more dangerous in the sense that you're taking something made in somebody's garage versus something made in the factory. >> in many areas it's cheaper to get high on heroin than it would be to get drunk. >> reporter: economist chris ruhm. >> this is a major health crisis, i mean, drug poisonings have become, the biggest source of preventable premature death. so for example there are more drug poisoning deaths than car crash deaths. and that's quite recent. >> reporter: and says dr. denham... >> i'm seeing just as many middle aged women as i am middle aged men. >> reporter: bucking a century- long improvement in white longevity. >> people without jobs, and people kind of just keeping themselves secluded from others. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, economics correspondent paul solman, reporting grimly from maysville, kentucky.
>> woodruff: and next week paul returns to ask the obvious question: why the startling increase in deaths in white america? >> sreenivasan: across the country today, immigrants rights activists are staging a "day without immigrants," where immigrants stay home from work or school or close up their businesses to demonstrate how crucial immigrants are to american society. of course, as we heard today, immigration remains a crucial issue to the president: he campaigned promising to deport millions, and to build a wall on the mexican border. last week, federal immigration raids in at least six states arrested hundreds. but the debate also plays out in the nation's so-called "sanctuary cities," where local governments resist cooperating with federal immigration officials. the newshour's william brangham went to austin, texas for a closer look. >> i, donald j. trump, do solemnly swear... >> brangham: just a few hours after donald trump was sworn in as president, another newly-
elected official, sheriff sally hernandez of travis county, texas, posted this video >> i'm sally hernandez, your travis county sheriff. >> brangham: the video laid out her department's policy change limiting cooperation with agents from ice-- immigration and customs enforcement. hernandez doesn't want her deputies to be seen as ice agents. >> we in law enforcement need the cooperation of our communities of color. we need them to be running to us, and not running away from us. >> brangham: travis county, which includes austin, has an estimated 100,000 undocumented immigrants, like felix jimenez. the sheriff says people like jiminez won't trust police if they're constantly afraid of being deported and jimenez agrees: >> ( translated ): we're afraid when we see a police officer. we're hispanic. we could be stopped for any reason. the real fear that keeps me nervous after a long day is that i may not see my children
because i was stopped for only a small infraction. >> we can't afford to make our community less safe by driving people into the shadows. >> brangham: hernandez won her election promising to take this very action, but her critics have pounced, saying she's created texas' first "sanctuary city", and deriding her as" sanctuary sally." >> we will ban sanctuary cities in texas. >> brangham: texas governor greg abbott accused the sheriff of betraying her oath, calling her argument "frivolous,"" shortsighted" and "dangerous." in retaliation, the governor started cutting $1.5 million in grants to travis county that fund things like drug courts and domestic violence prevention. >> we are seeking fines, we are seeking to withdraw more state funds, we will compel this sheriff, or possibly go to jail themselves. >> brangham: austin is now among dozens of so-called "sanctuary cities" across the u.s.
while there's no official definition for a sanctuary city, the term generally means local police aren't turning in every undocumented immigrant to federal authorities. these cities have long drawn the ire of president trump. during the campaign, he threatened all of them. >> block funding, we're going to block the funding to sanctuary cities. no more funding. >> brangham: a promise he kept soon after taking office. but mayors are pushing back. >> we will not be intimidated by the threat to fed funding. >> i want to be clear: we're going to stay a sanctuary city. >> we are going to defend all of our people, regardless of where they come from and regardless of their documentation and status. >> brangham: back in texas, state legislators are trying to pass a law making it illegal for any city or county to limit cooperation with ice: >> we are in a dangerous path as a society so that's what this bill does for-- >> brangham: senate bill four would require counties to determine the immigration status
of everyone in their custody, as well as honor all requests from federal immigration officials to detain people indefinitely. >> brangham: both sides testified about the proposed law: >> brangham: state senator charles perry introduced senate bill four. the bill says state officials who fail to comply with the law would face criminal prosecution and hefty fines. >> these are attention-getters. these are, "we're going to be serious about uniformly, consistently without prejudice, applying the law to everyone." >> brangham: so how do local police interact with federal immigration officers? right now, when someone is arrested in any location in the u.s., they're fingerprinted, their name is checked against several databases, and information is shared electronically with immigration officials. >> there is a federal provision that requires local jurisdictions to provide information to the federal
immigration authorities. >> brangham: that's the law nationwide. >> everyone's complying with that, there's really no question about that. >> brangham: denise gillman is an immigration law professor at the university of texas in austin. >> the next step then is what does ice decide to do? the federal immigration authorities. if ice decides to request that the local jurisdiction hold onto somebody for additional time, they file what's called a" detainer" but the courts and the federal government have recognized that that's really just a request to local jurisdictions to hold someone. >> brangham: it's not a legally binding contract. >> it's not a legal binding contract. >> brangham: if immigration officials come to you and ask for and give you one of these detainers and say, "we'd like you to hold these ten people," why not just hold all ten of them? >> we are treating immigration like we do any other law enforcement agency. if somebody from another county calls me up and says, "you have somebody in your custody, hold them for me," i would ask them, "do they have a warrant?" and if they have a warrant, we will hold them.
>> brangham: why is that warrant important? >> because that warrant is based on probable cause, where a >> brangham: sheriff hernandez says she will honor detainer requests in cases of murder, sexual assault and human trafficking. otherwise, she is not legally required to hold people without warrants. other jurisdictions have been sued for doing exactly that, for violating constitutional due process. so if you're within the border of the u.s., regardless of where you're from, where you're born or what your status is, the constitution protects you? >> that's right. especially when it comes to fundamental constitutional principles like liberty. that is a fundamental constitutional principle that is guaranteed to all persons within the united states, regardless of immigration status. >> brangham: sb-4, the law that would in effect outlaw sanctuary cities statewide has left many immigrant families like felix jimenez's on edge. he lives with his wife, brenda, who is also undocumented from mexico, and their daughter evelyn, born in the united states, and a citizen.
he believes undocumented people need to speak out. he recently attended this rally against sb-4. up until a few months ago, felix says he felt he could call the police for help, like when he was robbed and left bloody on the street >> ( translated ): i called the police and they helped me. i was hospitalized. i had x-rays done. i was in a lot of pain and it still hurts. but if that law existed i wouldn't be able to report the crime because of my status. >> brangham: what do you say to someone, not just sheriff hernandez, she's not the only one making this argument, that having local police be a quasi- extension of immigration enforcement makes their communities less safe, not more safe? >> yeah, and i think that's one that's a dangerous logic. so we're going to not adhere to the law in the name of applying the law. logically that doesn't reconcile with me. >> brangham: last week, perry's bill passed the texas senate and will be debated in the house.
governor abbott has promised to sign it. when it passes, sheriff hernandez's department could be running against the law. but in the meantime, hernandez has been getting what she asked for: i.c.e. officials have been providing warrants to hold people, and her office is honoring them. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham in austin, texas. >> sreenivasan: finally another installment in our brief but spectacular series where we ask today, we hear from namwali serpell, a zambian-born writer and associate professor of english at the university of california, berkeley. her first novel, "the old drif," comes out next year but here she describes her own story of being an immigrant in the u.s. >> there are all these different terms for what an immigrant is in america when you have the permission to stay. there's permanent resident,
there's resident alien, immigration officials are really funny with me because they look at my permanent resident card and i'm always really anxious about this, i mean, you know will they let me back in? can i still be here? i teach american literature and i start out all of my courses by saying, "you might be wondering why a zambian citizen and a resident alien of the united states is teaching you the history of american literature, but who better than an outsider to teach you about american literature. all of the great literature of the u.s. is told through the story of an outsider. nick carroway of gatsby or humbert humbert in lolita, being on the outside or being an alien is the condition of being american. and it's a way to see the country from within but also with a different perspective. i remember when my parents told
me we were moving to the states. my sisters and i were really excited. for me at age eight, it was a pretty intense shift. i had kids kind of making fun of me, making fun of my hair, making fun of my accent. i remember very specifically a kid asking me in the cafeteria in fifth grade, um, what are you. not who are you, and not what race are you, but what are you and what she meant was, are you black or white. i asked my dad, my white father who's a psychologist, he said, "you're a citizen of the world. you are human." and that answer was very unsatisfactory. it was only in college that i really just tarted to say that i'm black because in america i'm black and that's how i'm recognized. i went back for a year to zambia, during high school, which was very difficult. everyone was like why do you wear your hair curly and natural. they didn't like the punk rock t-shirts i was wearing or the big sweats and sneaks, i thought i was a skater chick.
people often want to say you're african and i think like africa is a huge continent, it's not a country, i feel zambian, that's what i feel, that is my identity. i feel zambian, and then i feel american, those are my identities even though technically i am an alien in this country and when i go back to zambia, i don't exactly fit in there either. i realized i could use this to my advantage, that you can actually leverage being an outsider in order to be the most unique and be the biggest voice in the room, and bring a new perspective to things that everybody else takes for granted. my name si namwali serpell and this is my brief but spectacular take on being an alien. >> sreenivasan: you can find more of our brief but spectacular videos online at pbs.org/newshour/brief. >> sreenivasan: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon.
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boom! hello, i'm julia child. welcome to my house. what fun we're going to have baking all kinds of incredible cakes, pies and breads right here in my own kitchen. marcel desaulniers, chef and author of death by chocolate indulges our fantasies with a white chocolate cake all adorned with fresh raspberries and chocolate sauces.