2005 – Under-Told Stories Project

Under-Told Stories Project


Missionaries in Thailand’s Hill Tribes

This program originally aired on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly Jan. 12, 2005. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the effort of a group of missionaries trying to reach the difficult to access hill tribes.

No transcript is available.


Traveling for Treatment

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One of Thailand’s most profitable tourist attractions is in the heart of the capitaU.S.l’s business district. It’s a hospital, though it doesn’t look like one.

The $100 million Bumrungrad Hospital complex, with its western restaurants and mall-like atmosphere, was built 20 years ago for well-to-do Thais. But now, hundreds of thousands of foreigners are making it their travel destination. Curtis Schroeder, an American, is the CEO.

CURTIS SCHROEDER: We saw about 50,000 international outpatients in 1996. This year, we’ll be closer to 350,000 patients that are non-Thai coming to this hospital. People have asked what our next step is. We’d like to be the Mayo Clinic of the east. I think it’s an excellent model.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Across Asia, in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, a multibillion-dollar medical tourism industry has sprung up. Here in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, at least six hospitals have begun aggressively courting tourists in need or want of medical care.

Fifty-two year-old Warren Williams came here from Arlington, Virginia. He lost his health insurance when his job as a computer specialist was outsourced. He decided to outsource the treatment for a nagging knee problem.

WARREN WILLIAMS: Everything is going to be outsourced at this point from what I see — an eight-hour plane trip to Europe or something. It’s a little longer to get to Thailand, much longer to get here.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But that much cheaper.

WARREN WILLIAMS: Oh, much, much cheaper.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Williams had his left knee replaced and spent six days in rigorous physical therapy at Bumrungrad. His total cost: $5,000– one- fifth, he says, of what it would have cost at home for topnotch care.

WARREN WILLIAMS: They kept me in the hospital. In the U.S. as an outpatient you go home and put a cold pack on it. I can straighten my leg for the first time in three years. Like I said, I was going to wear a T-shirt that had “happy” on it that I bought in a mall here, so Dr. Panya would know how I felt.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Williams admits he had early concerns about traveling to a developing country for his surgery, but those reservations about infectious disease, the quality of care or doctors went away as he learned more. Bumrungrad, for example, has met the same requirements for accreditation as most U.S. hospitals, where many of its Thai doctors trained.

SPOKESMAN: At Bumrungrad Hospital we have over 200 U.S. Board-certified physicians, which means they’re card-carrying credentialed physicians in states throughout the United States.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says the critical difference that makes Bumrungrad so much cheaper is that the doctors’ salaries are much lower. So is the cost of living. Salaries account for about one-sixth of Bumrungrad’s total costs.

In the U.S., staffing eats up more than half a typical hospital budget. Malpractice suits are rare, and Bumrungrad, with 550 beds, 140 clinic exam rooms, and labs doing everything from routine to sophisticated care enjoys huge efficiencies.

SPOKESMAN: So where most facilities might see a few hundred outpatients a day even in some of the busier hospitals in the United States we’re seeing 3,000, 3,500, 3,800 patients in a single 24-hour period.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Among them are Americans like Lila Pacheco, an Arizona native who now lives in Guam. The 38-year-old mother of twin girls was visiting Bangkok two years ago, developed a sinus infection, and went in to Bumrungrad.

LILA PACHECO: I was, you know, fairly impressed with the setup. And then I thought, well, you know, kind of entertaining the idea of a tummy tuck because after having twins you get a little remodeled. And so I thought, well…

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: After dieting to lose 100 pounds, Pacheco returned to undergo liposuction and breast reduction surgery much more cheaply than she could have in the U.S.

LILA PACHECO: For just a tummy tuck it would have been about $20,000, for just the tummy tuck alone. I’m going to be able to do a tummy tuck and a breast reduction for $7,000. And that includes my scrub nurses, you know, all my meds, the hospital stay and everything.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Including a one-bedroom suite attached to the hospital where her husband and twin 11-year-olds helped her convalesce. The care, she says, has been meticulous, unhurried, and cautious. She, in fact, had to return twice.

LILA PACHECO: Actually, I was on the operating table that morning. He got back the second group of blood tests. He said, “You know what? We’re canceling the surgery. I’m going to send you home. We’re going to have to do this later. You don’t need it bad enough.” I was really impressed with Dr. Poomee, and this makes me feel even more comfortable the second time around to try this.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Most patients pay for their own care. Aside from bargain-seeking Americans and the well-heeled from Thailand and nearby Asian countries, they come from Europe and Canada, where nationalized systems can mean months-long waits for things like a hip replacement.

This year Bumrungrad will see 50,000 Middle Eastern patients, ten times the number treated in 2001. Many used to travel to the U.S., but post 9/11, can’t get visas quickly. And about a third of the doctors have also come from abroad, like Lila Pacheco’s surgeon Amorn Poomee.

DR. AMORN POOMEE: I just went to make rounds and saw her about half an hour ago. She’s doing fine, she’s awake.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Amorn attended med school in Thailand, but went on to spend 25 years in clinical practice in Modesto, California. Like other colleagues who have returned, he says the lure of home and the chance to help build a first-rate health care system brought him back to Thailand.

He says the new hospitals like Bumrungrad, though unaffordable for most Thais, will improve overall standards of care. Thailand has low cost or free health care for all citizens, but the quality of care is not considered up to international standards. As for his own practice, Dr. Amorn says it often seems like he didn’t switch jobs.

DR. AMORN POOMEE: That’s really strange, because my patient population here and in California are the same, the same type of people. I speak English all day long because all my patients speak English. And here we are in Thailand.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The number of Americans coming to places like Bumrungrad could grow in the years ahead. CEO Schroeder says someday U.S. insurance policies could offer a two-tiered plan that includes some treatment overseas.

CURTIS SCHROEDER: Part “A” plan is, here’s the coverage. If you want to stay in the United States for your coverage, here’s the premium for that coverage. But we have an alternative Plan “B” that offered an option with certain kinds of high-valued procedures to send you outside of the United States.

Now whether that’s to Mexico or to Canada or whether it’s outside of the United States to places like Thailand would provide a much lower premium, something much more affordable to people maybe who have trouble affording escalating premiums. So I think that’s a real potential.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says none of this threatens the U.S. health care system. Bypass surgery or family medicine are not easily moved like garment making or software. Also, getting care abroad could mean giving up the right to sue for malpractice in U.S. courts. Still, it appears growing numbers of Americans are shopping globally for elective surgery, dentistry, anything not covered or covered enough by insurance.


Canadian Beef

DR. JEREMY SCHEFERS: Before I cut into the carcass…

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The University of Minnesota Veterinary School is one of the frontlines of America’s defense against mad cow disease. It is one of several labs the U.S. Department of Agriculture has asked to test animals that show any symptoms of ill health, says Dr. Jeremy Schefers.

DR. JEREMY SCHEFERS: The goal is to test about a quarter million animals over an 18-month period. There’s about 35 million cattle in the U.S. So statistically, we’re very confident that if there’s one out there, we’ll find it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Canadian border was closed to imports of all live cattle two years ago after a case surfaced in Canada of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the so-called mad cow disease.

Since the border closure, three more cases were discovered, all traced to Canadian herds. The plan now is to allow into the U.S. animals under 30-months-old, those considered least likely to have the disease. There’s disagreement about whether that’s a good plan. A key concern is the public health issue.

Will Hueston, a USDA consultant and BSE expert at the University of Minnesota, says there’s little danger to public health. Besides the surveillance program, he says the source of contagion, feed supplements that contained cattle parts, has been removed.

DR. WILL HUESTON: We were taking the parts of the cattle that we didn’t eat, that humans don’t eat. We were cooking those to remove the fat, and the material, the protein that was left was ground up and, in fact, used as a protein supplement.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Which is now out of circulation?

DR. WILL HUESTON: — is now out of circulation.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But many politicians representing ranching states say they’re not convinced. Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune says it’s premature to open the Canadian border.

SEN. JOHN THUNE: I think that the four incidents that we’ve had in Canada in the last three years or so– the most recent one was a perfect example– the animal was younger than the 1997 feed ban, which suggests that Canada was not fully in compliance.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But he admits there’s no escaping the economics in this dispute. Ranchers depend heavily on exports of meat to Asia. The stigma over mad cow has prompted big buyers, like Japan and Korea, to shut their doors to U.S. imports.

Sen. Thune says they’re more likely to start buying U.S. beef again if there’s no Canadian meat mixed in. The meat is not required to be labeled by country of origin.

SEN. JOHN THUNE: Again, they’ve had four incidents in the last three years. My view is that Asia is going to have a much higher comfort level with opening to U.S. if we are, first place, policing our border.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The ranchers he represents are also happy without the Canadian competition, which has shortened the supply of beef. Rick Fox raises cattle near Rapid City, in the shadow of South Dakota’s Black Hills.

RICK FOX: We didn’t have an export market in 2004, and I got some of the best prices I ever had for my cattle. And that goes to show you how much imports was affecting our markets. When that Canadian border shut down, our market went up.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Fox belongs to a group of ranchers called R-Calf, which is suing to keep the border closed. The group has grown from 300 members to 12,000 in the last six years. Business is always tough, they complain, and reopening to Canadian imports will spell disaster.

RICK FOX: They open that border up, you’re going to hear a giant sucking sound again, just like with NAFTA. All that meat is going to come down to the United States to be slaughtered, all the excess feeder cattle in Canada will probably end up in the United States in the feedlots.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In Canada, beef producers depend heavily on exports south of the border, and ranchers say the shut off of U.S. markets has been devastating. Alan Minchau, ranches near Millet, Alberta.

ALAN MINCHAU: Some cows, a younger cow, let’s say like a three or four-year old cow, was bringing in $900 for that same cow. Now she’s only worth $200-$300. So it was a huge, huge drop in there.

And then say, too, the equity part of it, like when you do your financing, the bank looks at it and they say “what are these cattle worth?” And a lot of them won’t even take those cattle as equity ’cause they’re worth nothing.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Canadian farmers and government officials say there’s really no difference in the systems between here and the United States when it comes to the way cows are raised, in what they’re fed and in the system for surveillance and testing for mad cow eisease.

Dr. Gerald Ollis is head veterinarian for the province of Alberta, where all the Canadian BSE cases have so far been found. He says those cases could just as soon have been found south of the border.

DR. GERALD OLLIS: I can’t really say why you haven’t found it in the states yet. It may be, seriously, that you’re much more lucky than we are. I don’t call it luck that we found it, but it may be as simple as that. And the fact that we’ve been able to detect four, two so close together, is just simply a random event. Statistically one could argue that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Canadian surveillance is every bit as thorough as the American, he insists. Farmers are asked to call in when they have cows showing any symptoms of illness. They are destroyed, their brains tested for BSE and their owners reimbursed by the government, about 200 U.S. dollars per cow.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Is that compensation enough?

ALLAN MINCHAU: No. Not for what the worth of the cow is, no. But I guess it’s better than a kick in the butt with a frozen moccasin, as some people would say.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Minchau took out a new mortgage hoping to hold on until U.S. trade resumes. His strongest ally is the American meat packing industry. It is suing the USDA, arguing all trade should be reopened, including older cattle, which many U.S. plants use to produce hamburger. Meat industry spokesman Patrick Boyle says packers have been badly hurt.

PATRICK BOYLE: Five plants have closed during the past 20 months, permanently closed. A number of plants have temporarily shut their doors, and those that continue to operate are operating at 10 percent less capacity or 15 percent lower level than they did prior to the closure of the border.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And Boyle argues opening the border will increase the chances that Asian countries will resume beef imports which are down 90 percent from their $4 billion a year level in 2002.

He says open trade between the U.S. and Canada the border will send a signal that the U.S. Government is satisfied that North American beef supply is free of BSE.


Red Lake School Shooting

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A remote, reclusive community in northern Minnesota, the Red Lake Reservation has cut itself off even more since the shootings. The anguish of the 5,000 or so Ojibwa Indians who live here has been mostly kept from the public.

The media has been denied free access. We were offered one glimpse of a community’s distress with the extended Lussier family, mourning both a victim and the perpetrator.

TOM LUSSIER: I was really flabbergasted.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tom Lussier’s brother, Darryl, longtime reservation cop, was victim number one in the rampage of Darryl’s grandson, 17-year-old Jeffrey Weise. And between these two was nothing by a warm grandfatherly relationship?

TOM LUSSIER: Yeah. They got along good. He was a good role model for all the kids on the reservation, not just ours. He had good rapport with my grandsons, yeah.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: All day visitors came in a steady stream to console the stunned family.

SHAUNA LUSSIER, Aunt of Shooter: The whole reservation and our families are going to ask why, and to me that’s going to be the hardest because we’re never going to know.

We’re not making up any excuses or trying to sugarcoat anything. You know, it’s just a very tragic thing that happened, and it couldn’t have been prevented.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Shauna and Tammy Lussier lost their nephew in an incident Tammy says they could never have anticipated.

TAMMY LUSSIER, Aunt of Shooter: He never showed us the violent side of him. That’s why it’s so hard for us to understand this. He never acted out, never got in a fistfight with anybody.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They described a kid who liked listening to Johnny Cash and the Beatles, but they also say his father’s suicide, his mother’s car accident that left her brain-damaged, amid other turmoil, may have accounted for bouts of depression. Once they caught him cutting himself.

SHAUNA LUSSIER: We went to the emergency room with all the right people to try to get him some help. And the doctor there told us that that was a fad. He’s seeing a lot of that, and sent him home.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Despite the tribe’s isolation, his aunts insist he got the same care he’d have received anywhere in the U.S.

SHAUNA LUSSIER: We’ve gone through all of the channels, you know, all the right people to see, all the right medication, so we thought.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What kinds of medications was he on? Do you happen to know the names?

SHAUNA LUSSIER: Prozac, for depression. Prozac.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And he was taking this all the way until…

SHAUNA LUSSIER: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Until the other day?

SHAUNA LUSSIER: Yep. Actually, they had just recently upped his dosage.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They did know he was interested in Nazi material. Reports have said Weise had posted messages and drawings on Web sites, including one for the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. His family simply wrote it off to a bright eccentric child.

TAMMY LUSSIER: He would make little comments about the Nazis in general.

SHAUNA LUSSIER: He knew a lot about ’em, you know. He was very informative if something came up on TV, you know. He was very intellectual.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: About Nazi history?

TAMMY LUSSIER: Just in general.

SHAUNA LUSSIER: Just in general. In talking he had a way with words. Most of his vocabulary is above college.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As families grieve here, Red Lake has seen an outpouring of sympathy and offers of help from outside the reservation, from grief counselors to prayer services. This one at the state capital in St. Paul was attended by leading Indian and state politicians, like Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: Whether you are Native American or of some other ethnic or cultural background, everybody hurts the same. And we all hurt the same. And you have a loss like this, a tragedy like this, it is just painful. It is difficult. It is sad.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In other words, this could have happened anywhere, but the fact that it happened here has shone a light on a long-isolated Indian reservation. Gambling has brought billions of dollars to some Indian reservations, those near urban centers.

But here in the rural North, there’s been little benefit. Red Lake remains one of the poorest places in North America. Unemployment here on the reservation hovers around 40 percent. Lee Cook grew up near the shores of the walleye-rich Red Lake.

LEE COOK: It was sort of our meal ticket, you know, for centuries.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Cook now heads the Indian Resource Center at the nearby Bemidji State University. He remembers a real sense of community.

LEE COOK: Being a kid on the reservation was almost like a romantic thing, like a Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer thing. We had fun; it was fun being a kid; summertime we were out all day long, you know, shooting birds with our slingshots and swimming.

And the wintertime, we were, you know, poor as a church mouse, but we played basketball outside and kind of always made up things, you know.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He thinks that sense of community and confidence has disappeared, and that access to TV and the Internet may have made it harder for kids like Jeffrey Weise to be comfortable as Indians.

LEE COOK: We make it hard to be Indians. So it’s much easier to be a gangster when you’ve got to dress in a funny, weird way and have a couple hand signals and that kind of puts you in the in crowd.

I mean, to be Indian and growing up Indian is one thing, but to have to sort of pick it up by happenstance is not very easy for young people. It’s real frustrating for them.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Cook thinks that redeveloping a sense of community is the only way this reservation can get past the tragedy.

LEE COOK: We all got to get our heads together and figure out what it is we do differently.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: First funeral services are expected to be held this weekend.

JIM LEHRER: Ray Suarez builds on the Red Lake event, with a look at how to prevent such tragedies.

RAY SUAREZ: What causes a teenage boy to resort to such devastating and drastic measures? What should schools be doing to prevent violence on campuses? How can troubled children be identified and helped before violence erupts?

One of the survivors of Monday’s shootings talked to the press today. Fifteen-year-old Cody Thunder described his impressions of the shooter, 17-year-old Jeff Weise.

REPORTER: What did you think of him going up until Monday?

CODY THUNDER: I don’t know. He was just, he didn’t have any buddies, that’s why I went to talk to him ’cause he seemed, like, alone, and I just felt like it would be good to go talk to him.

REPORTER: When you say he was different, earlier you said you wanted to speak to him because he was alone– did he dress differently, did he act differently, was he isolated?

CODY THUNDER: Yeah, he’d come to school every day with a different hairstyle and he came to school with horns, like devil horns or something. Right there he looked like he was trying to be evil.

REPORTER: What was he like to be in class with you?

CODY THUNDER: I don’t know, he looked like a cool guy. And I went to talk to him a few times and he talked about nothing but guns and shooting people. He’d be talking about guns and different kinds.

REPORTER: When he talked about the guns, what did you think? Did you think it was odd? Were you worried? Did you think he might bring it to school? What did you think?

CODY THUNDER: I never thought he would do this. I never thought that he would come up and try to shoot up the school.

REPORTER: What did he say about the guns?

CODY THUNDER: He just talked about them, talked about shooting people and stuff and I never knew that he would come up here.

REPORTER: Did he talk about shooting specific people?

CODY THUNDER: No. He just, like, messed around and stuff.

RAY SUAREZ: With us to discuss child violence are James Garbarino, a professor of human development at Cornell University. He’s the author of “Lost Boys: Why our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.”

And Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, an independent consulting firm. Kenneth Trump, are America’s schools safer than they were six years ago at the time of the Columbine shootings?

KENNETH TRUMP: Well, the good news is we actually made some improvements in the months and year or two after Columbine. We paid more attention to early warning signs. We tightened up some security measures. We developed emergency plans in our schools to prepare for emergency situations that couldn’t be prevented.

But the bad news is that progress has stalled a great deal, and we’re actually slipping backwards in the last couple years. We’ve had school safety budget cuts. We have an enormous amount of competition for time, limited scarce time in our schools, especially with the increased focus on improving test scores, prevention programs, security planning and staff training have been cut back.

Of course, we face the battle with our own complacency. The farther we are from a high-profile incident, the higher risk we are for denial and fall back into complacency.

RAY SUAREZ: You just heard young Cody Thunder talking about his discussions with Jeff Weise and how every time he talked to him, he talked about guns and about shooting people. What should have happened at Red Lake High in Minnesota?

KENNETH TRUMP: The school administrators across the nation post-Columbine have really worked hard on improving a school climate where kids feel comfortable in reporting incidents to adults.

And I think we’ve done a good job with that across the nation. There have been a number of foiled plots. The bad news is we’re dealing with a situation where we’re dealing with human behavior, both on the adult side and on the child side. So it’s easy to miss some of those warning signs and have one incident fall through the cracks.

In an ideal situation, most of the schools are working with children to tell them that a switch from snitch, as I call it, that if you have a concern, you hear a threat, report it to a responsible adult so that somebody can take some action. You’re not snitching; you’re possibly saving somebody’s life.

RAY SUAREZ: James Garbarino, how do you institute that kind of atmosphere on, let’s say, a high school campus without turning ninth through 12th grade into one big dime-dropping exercise, where people are telling everything they hear from everybody?

JAMES GARBARINO: Well, certainly there is a lot of contradiction in this whole situation. You know, I think it was a year-and-a-half after Columbine a survey found that about more than half the teenagers when asked if someone talked about killing someone, would you tell an adult, and more than half said “no.”

I think that, you know, part of the problem is that kids are so immersed in the violent imagery that it doesn’t strike a kid as unusual that another boy would be talking about guns, he’d be talking about killing, and that’s part of the problem.

There are hundreds of thousands of boys who are playing around on the Internet, who have these images, who have these fantasies, and it has become normalized in a sense so that it becomes harder to pick out the really depressed kid who is going to translate that fantasy imagery into real violence.

I don’t think it’s a matter of, as your other guest is saying, it’s not matter of snitching. It’s a sense of, you know, good friends don’t let friends get in trouble, but it really hinges on the school taking a mental health response to those messages, not a punitive one.

If kids know that other kids are going to be suspended or expelled, then they’re not going to talk. If they know that it’s going to be a helpful outreach, they’re more likely to share the information. But it does require constant effort to get them to see that even these idle threats have to be taken seriously. Our culture makes it very hard because we’re just awash in this all the time.

RAY SUAREZ: Are there any profiles, any screens that would help someone understand whether it’s just idle talk of a moody kid or something that really is a warning of future violence?

JAMES GARBARINO: Well, I think one key is it should be standard mental health practice anywhere that there shouldn’t be guns within reach of depressed people, whether they’re adults or kids. That’s pretty well known, and it’s something that in our gun culture is often neglected.

Depressed people, whether they’re police officers or men or women or kids, are at great risk for doing harm to themselves and others. And the more access they have to weapons, the more likely they are to translate that depression and sadness, and in this boy’s case rage because don’t forget that most boys are taught it’s better to be mad than to be sad.

And so when they wrestle with sadness, they often convert it into anger, and of course the whole Internet scene that he was part of nurtures that anger, that rage, as does so much of the adversarial nature of American culture. It’s not surprising it would take this outlet for an American boy who is trying wrestle with his sadness.

RAY SUAREZ: Kenneth Trump, keeping guns away from depressed people, can you do that?

KENNETH TRUMP: It certainly is in an ideal situation. And one gun is one too many in a school. I think in this situation, it was even more complicated by the fact that the gun was something that was part of the grandfather’s profession as a law enforcement officer.

And what we know from our experience with school security is that most of the guns that come into schools actually come from the home. A child steals it from the home, from the parents, from a guardian, from a relative.

And we also know that while one gun is one too many, the most common weapons in schools are bladed weapons, knives, box cutters and razor blades, assuming that you discount the weapons of fists and feet.

So I think that we have to recognize there are all types of weapons, one gun being one too many, but when guns come into school, they come from the home. And a lot of people are questioning the issue of metal detectors in school today.

Any type of equipment that we have in school for security purposes is a supplement to but not a substitute for the human element. A surveillance camera is only going to deter those who are deterrable. Metal detectors are a necessary tool, particularly in some large urban districts that have chronic histories of weapons-specific offenses.

But we have to strike that balance between metal detectors and mental detectors and people who are equipped to recognize some early warning signs and attuned not necessarily to major dramatic changes in children, but those incremental deteriorations that occur over a period of time that often culminate in a tragedy like we saw in Red Lake.

RAY SUAREZ: So, Mr. Trump to, just to check that I understand you, you’re saying even if you do spend the money to put up physical barriers to weapons coming to school, there is only so much you can do?

KENNETH TRUMP: There is no perfect security from the White House to the schoolhouse. What we have to do is have a balance. What concerns me is these debates often get into more prevention or better security.

It should be a discussion of more prevention efforts and better security. The two should go hand in hand. It’s not an either/or debate. But you have to have a secure environment in which to deliver the education prevention/intervention counseling mental health services, so the two go hand in hand.

RAY SUAREZ: Professor Garbarino, if you’re trying to do everything right, and it sounds like this family made an effort — they got professional counseling; they got medication for their nephew — what should schools be doing in concert with parents to not reduce the risk to zero, but at least better the odds that nothing terrible is going to happen?

JAMES GARBARINO: Well, I think they probably need to be more active in coordinating the mental health care of these troubled boys and really be more active with the social networks of peer groups of kids in school so that the human intelligence that they need they’re going to get.

I mean, we’ve heard several reports from other kids in that school who knew how troubled this boy was, and it doesn’t seem that anybody was putting that all together and taking it seriously. And that alone could have resulted in a higher level of vigilance.

I agree that you have to make schools secure, but it’s like the post-9/11 world for the country as a whole. Human intelligence, knowing what people are doing and putting that all together in one place, is certainly a part of it.

Another part of it is changing the climate for kids who are a bit troubled. I mean, this boy had such terrible losses in his life. He should have been a high priority from the time his father committed suicide. There should have been an involvement with him.

It sounds like a lot of that was well intentioned, but I don’t think it was coordinated well with sophisticated mental health intervention.

RAY SUAREZ: Does it mean on occasion, Professor, being quicker to remove children from schools?

JAMES GARBARINO: Well, this boy had been removed from school, as I understand it. I think it’s more a matter of changing the quality of their experience in school and, you know, people at the doors of the school who know what’s going on.

You know, people often ask, “does having a police officer on campus make the school safer?” I think the answer is: it depends. What is that officer doing? Is he tapping into the human intelligence of the school, or is he simply standing monitoring a metal detector?

Those may be extreme positions, but it’s the officer who is really in touch with what’s going on who becomes a conduit for information who can really make the school safer.

So that he can be a person or she can be a person that leads to changing the environment around that boy, make sure that the mental health services are being offered, that somebody is monitoring the administration of psychotropic drugs. It’s a very sophisticated set of issues when you get a boy this troubled.

RAY SUAREZ: Professor Garbarino, Mr. Trump, gentlemen, thank you both.

KENNETH TRUMP: Thank you, Ray.


Avian Flu Outbreak

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chickens and ducks have the run of the place in much of rural Thailand. Some are treated like pets; some even are treated like royalty. Fighting cocks are prized like race horses, part of the local economy, very much part of the culture. Poultry is also a staple in Thai diets and until recently, a major export.

All this has made it difficult for Thailand and neighboring countries to fight what’s called bird or avian flu. The virus that causes it is carried by migratory birds and waterfowl, like ducks, which are not harmed by it. It was first detected in Northeast Asia in the mid-’90s, when it had moved to chickens, which are affected.

Authorities in Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan appeared to contain the flu by destroying entire flocks where the virus was detected. But last year, a more potent avian flu virus reemerged in Southeast Asia ravaging thousands of both farm and free-range chickens.

After the first human cases, the Thai government destroyed millions more birds. Several dozen people have been infected in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, three quarters of them fatally. In all but one case, the disease has spread from birds to humans, humans who had long exposure to the virus, like poultry farm workers.

But scientists worry the virus, which is called H5N1, is always mutating or evolving and may soon begin to move easily from person to person just like regular flu. Dr. William Aldis is with the World Health Organization.

DR. WILLIAM ALDIS: We have good reason to fear that if the H5N1 virus that’s now widely established in chicken and duck and wildfowl population in probably ten countries, that it would take only a very small genetic change or modification in that virus to make it rapidly transmissible to people.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That, he said, would quickly trigger a worldwide pandemic.

DR. WILLIAM ALDIS: The movement of people around the world and the movement of infectious agents around the world means that the risk facing one country is facing all countries almost equally. We saw that with SARS. I would say the difference between SARS and avian influenza is the stakes are much higher

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Late in 2002, an outbreak of SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, began in southern China but spread rapidly across the world killing a tenth of the 8,000 people affected. The toll from avian flu could dwarf SARS and even the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 20 million, according to Michael Osterholm epidemiologist at the university of Minnesota.

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: If one takes a look at the 1918 pandemic that swept around the world, literally in weeks, and extrapolate those number of deaths then to what we might expect to see today, we could easily see 1.7 million deaths in the United States in one year and up to 360 million deaths worldwide.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Public health experts say it’s no longer a question of if, but rather when a major bird flu pandemic will hit. The challenge now is to try to contain it so that so the world can become better prepared when it hits.

Thailand’s approach to avian flu is being closely watched by World Health Organization and by U.S. experts. The country has long had a system of village health volunteers. Each is in charge of checking on the health of about ten neighbors.

Throughout the country, they’re now being deployed to look closely for bird flu. Volunteers try to survey bird populations and must report any ill health in animals or people to local authorities. Sick birds are tested for avian flu and positive findings bring a rapid response.

SPOKESPERSON: He says this is the pit where we buried the chickens, ducks and geese.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In this small village, headman Vicharn Wanna says took about an hour to round up all the chickens from the village’s 137 households. Sick and healthy, they were all destroyed.

SPOKESPERSON: For each chicken they get 50 baht or about $1.25.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even with compensation, Thai farmers and peasants don’t fully recover their losses when birds are culled, especially if they are fighting cocks which can fetch up to $1,000. There’s worry that owners may be reluctant to report sick poultry. But Thai officials say they are making some progress. Dr. Supamit Chunsuttiwat is with the Ministry of Public Health.

DR. SUPAMIT CHUNSUTTIWAT, Thai Ministry of Public Health: In first round, we had 12 cases; in second round we had five. And since then, the surveillance on both sides, on the animal side and on the human side, have been carried out at full scale, up until now. We have been on high alert to detect the cases in humans as best as possible and we haven’t found a case since October up until now.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In two border provinces, the surveillance has been intensified in a special joint project with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Here in Sakaeo province on Thailand’s border with Cambodia, the entire population, over a half million people, is being watched for any signs of respiratory disease or pneumonia. Specimens are analyzed both here and at the CDC in Atlanta, where X-rays are sent electronically. Epidemiologist Sonja Olsen likens it to a listening post for diseases in their earliest stages.

DR. SONJA OLSEN: It may be possible to actually stop an outbreak before it were a pandemic. I think that’s sort of a new way of thinking. In the past we thought when the next pandemic influenza hits, you know, we will just try to do the best we can to prevent, you know, additional deaths or do what we can. I think now the thinking is if we can identify it at the source, and stop it, then maybe we can potentially prevent a pandemic

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: No one’s sure it will work, but one reason for optimism is that unlike the SARS outbreak, countries are far more willing to admit early on that they might have a problem, according to Dr. Scott Dowell who heads CDC’s Thailand office.

DR. SCOTT DOWELL: At the beginning of bird flu epidemic, we saw some of the old approach of, “Well, we’re not sure this is the Bird Flu,” from various countries, a failure to acknowledge or confirm the problem.

That was when it was viewed as primarily an economic issue or an agricultural problem. Very quickly when you saw it move to human populations, it very quickly changed to a really transparent response from most countries in this region, and I think the lesson from SARS helped with that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But communication is just one part of preparing for a pandemic and Dr. Dowell worries there may not be time.

DR. SCOTT DOWELL: Again, if the question is, “Are we ready in this part of the world to respond to a pandemic,” I think the answer has to be no.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And that applies not just to Southeast Asia, says Dr. Supamit.

DR. SUPAMIT CHUNSUTTIWAT: If a pandemic comes in a few months, no one is able to help himself. No country is in the position of better enough preparedness, even the United States or Europe.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says Thailand is working with neighbors and the World Health Organization to develop a region-wide strategy to respond to outbreaks.

DR. SUPAMIT CHUNSUTTIWAT: If we were lucky enough, we would be able to work together to come up with some vaccines or anti-virals before the pandemic strikes us.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Worldwide stockpiles of antiviral drugs are well short of what’s needed. Also, it would also take months after an actual human outbreak to develop a vaccine. In an upcoming article for the New England Journal of Medicine, Osterholm argues a plan is urgently needed.

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: How are we going to handle our everyday lives here in this country to make sure that we can deal with sick people? What do we do to assure that people continue to have a food supply once transportation is shut down? How will we manage the basic business of life when up to half the population may become ill and 5 percent of those will die? Those plans have to be made right now.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It is ironic, scientists say, that sophisticated molecular biology today can help anticipate an epidemic, and yet the world remains as vulnerable to devastation as it was a century ago.


Darfur Update 2005

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Conditions in this camp in Sudan’s Darfur region could hardly be more primitive for Sawah al Mansur. Still, the 38-year-old widow has enough food these days for her four children, and some refuge from the terror that she fled in her village about three hours away by foot.

SAWAH AL MANSUR (Translated): They came at 4:00 in the morning with people on trucks with mounted guns. They killed a lot of people. They killed my husband; they took my animals and took our food stocks.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Sawah al Mansur is among an estimated 2.5 million, mostly widowed women and children, who, beginning in 2003, were driven from their homes across this vast remote land. They are black Africans, pursued by so-called Arab militiamen or Janjaweed, men allegedly armed by Sudan’s government which has been battling black-led rebel groups in Darfur.

One year ago, before refugee camps were fully established in Darfur and neighboring Chad, relief organizations feared a humanitarian catastrophe with starvation and disease outbreaks from unsanitary conditions and unsafe water. Today, thanks to one of the largest international relief efforts in recent history, that catastrophe has been averted. Swedish diplomat Jan Pronk is U.N. Special Envoy for Sudan.

JAN PRONK: At the moment the situation in the camps is quite good. Of course, it’s an awful life. But in terms of nutrition, sanitation, water and education, we can reach many people.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Over the past year, some 10,000 workers from dozens of aid groups have come to the region. So have hundreds of tons of food staples, much of it American. Children in camps like this one near the city of Geneina attend school. And wells are being bored in villages across Darfur.

The group Islamic Relief alone, using sophisticated equipment, is creating up to 35 safe wells every week. Relief organizations say they’ve had reasonable luck finding water underground here in Darfur. The challenge is to secure these facilities once they’re up and running.

One of the hallmarks of this war has been burned villages and spoiled wells. Despite two cease-fire agreements between the government and rebels, Darfur remains a dangerous place. The U.N. says about 200 people are still killed each month across the region. Other estimates are much higher. There’s also plenty of freelance banditry.

JAN PLONK: Many of our cars are being looted, there’s plundering by groups which are split away either from the military or from the rebel movements, and they start for themselves, you may say. So the insecurity of humanitarian workers is quite a problem for us.

For instance in the place where we are now, which is Geneina at the border of Chad, I had to decide to withdraw all the humanitarian workers for about ten days back to the capital in order to assess the situation, because there were threats.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The situation is that much worse for ordinary Darfurians.

MAN (Translated): We’ve been attacked by the Janjaweed more than four times. They have stolen sheep, horses, people’s belongings.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even living in camps run by international aid groups doesn’t fully shield civilians. They complain of raids by armed men. The government has installed police, but camp residents say it hasn’t helped.

MAN (Translated): There are not enough police. The police themselves are afraid to go after the criminals.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Life is especially perilous for women. They leave the camps in search of firewood, the main cooking fuel. Dahabiya Ramadan Sirri says many camp women have been assaulted.

DAHABIYA RAMADAN SIRRI (Translated): It’s become common. The people come and ambush us, they rape us. We’re very afraid any time we leave the camp. We’re very worried here, and we cannot sleep at night because the Janjaweed can come at any time and take our daughters, and can take our women.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The mass killings that took most of their men have been called the worst atrocities since Rwanda; as many as 200,000 people are thought to have died. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called it genocide. Recently, the U. N. announced indictments before the International Criminal Court of leading figures in the Darfur killings, a move fiercely criticized by Sudan’s government.

SULEIMAN ABD ALLA ADAM (Translated): We’re capable in Sudan to bring the perpetrators if they are proved guilty to justice. Our constitution in Sudan provides for a fair trial and fair sentences. The punishments here can be more aggressive than at the International Criminal Court.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Suleiman Abd Alla Adam is the governor of west Darfur province. Like the Khartoum government he represents, the governor blames rebel forces for the atrocities.

SULEIMAN ABD ALLA ADAM (Translated): It’s not the government of Sudan, not the government forces, but the opposition factions who are responsible for killing the people. They occupy these villages and they use the people in those villages as human shields. Once they antagonize the people toward the government and make them lose confidence, they will be more able to draft the men from these people into the opposition movement.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Whoever is to blame, and international observers mostly blame the government and Janjaweed militias, the conflict has made the marginal land here even less productive. Thousands of villages like this one, which was called Tabarik, have been literally burned out of existence. There’s hardly a trace of the communities here that grew several different crops and raised livestock. Food production has been wiped out across a vast region of Sudan, and it will take years to recover.

SPOKESPERSON: Today Team 3C was asked to conduct a routine patrol by road.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One hope for a return of security and villagers is the recently formed African Union peacekeeping force. Even though it’s mandated restricted to monitoring the cease-fire, aid workers say the troops’ mere presence could deter violence. However, just 2,300 soldiers must patrol dozens of camps for internally displaced people, or IDP’s, in a region the size of France. Western section commander Lord Sarfo, a Ghanaian colonel, says that number should be twice or three times its size.

COL. LORD SARFO: We have so many IDP camps, and to deploy to protect all these IDP camps would be a strain on our resources. And I’ve already said we don’t have enough men on the ground. The greatest challenge is the terrain. Short distances you take about, say, two hours to cover a journey of only 40 kilometers and here to use the helicopter would be a waste of resources.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Absent firm security, there’s little likelihood of getting Sawah al Mansur to return to her village to rebuild her life. For the moment, ironically, the nutrition and health of many refugees is better than it was prior to the conflict in this impoverished region. Still, al Mansur says what she had at home was her dignity.

SAWAH AL MANSUR (Translated): I didn’t used to live in a place like this. In my house I had a bed and many other things; now, I have nothing. In the village I used to be independent. I didn’t depend on anybody, and now I have to depend on others for everything. I can’t even change my children’s clothes. This is all we have.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even that may not last. Aid officials, short of money, had planned to cut some food rations by a half. However, this week the U.S. stepped in with a major food donation. Even so, there’s worry that this region, isolated by forbidding geography and limited media access, will fade from the world’s consciousness. Youssif el Tayeb works for the aid group Islamic Relief.

YOUSSIF EL TAYEB, ISLAMIC RELIEF: There is going to be donor fatigue, media disinterest, because old-fashioned stories fetch no headlines. Huge, huge sums of money are needed elsewhere. So that’s it. I am afraid the powers who will have the strength to push for reconciliation, I’m not sure how much are they interested in this part of the world.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Unless the world remains focused on Darfur, he says, this region could quickly slip back to where it was a year ago, on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.


The Bookstore on a Ship

This story originally aired on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the Doulos, a ship housing a bookstore that travels around the world with a cargo of literacy.

No transcript available.


Identifying Srebenica’s Missing

ZLATAN SABANOVIC: This is storage room —

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As city morgues go, this one in Tuzla may be one of the biggest anywhere. It must be one of the fullest.

ZLATAN SABANOVIC: So far in this facility we have 3,700 body bags and just 867 shelves.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: More bodies arrive almost daily. Some 15,000 people are still listed as missing a decade after the war ended here. Finding and identifying them has been the job of the International Commission on Missing Persons. Its American director, Kathryne Bomberger, has lived here since 1998.

KATHRYNE BOMBERGER: We hope that it will make a contribution to truth, justice, and hopefully reconciliation, and that by looking at the past, they’re in a better position to address the future here. Having lived here these many years, we still feel these tensions of fear boiling beneath the surface.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Just beneath the surface, in mass graves across northern Bosnia, lies evidence of the most brutal episode in Bosnia’s four-year war. In what’s now called a massacre at Srebrenica, Muslim men and boys from the area, some 8,000 in all, were killed after Serb forces overran the town. Their bodies were dumped in mass graves. The graves were often moved once, sometimes twice, to secondary locations like this one to escape detection. Many have yet to be found.

NEZIRA SULEJMANOVIC (Translated): When we first heard about the fall of Srebrenica, my younger son was home. When the older one came in, we left our lunch on the table. In a hurry, we simply collected just some basic belongings and got ready to leave. I started crying.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nezira Sulejmanovic fled her Srebrenica home and eventually moved to a town outside Sarajevo three hours away, but she vividly remembers the day ten years ago when her hometown fell to forces led by Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general. He later went into hiding after being indicted for war crimes by an international court in The Hague.

NEZIRA SULEJMANOVIC (Translated): Mladic came along. He was right there, five meters from where I was. He was very polite. He gave candy to children.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many Muslim residents fled Srebrenica on foot, but thousands, including the Sulejmanovic family, sought refuge in a local factory.

NEZIRA SULEJMANOVIC (Translated): We were so hungry in the factory behind the fence. It was so close to my house’ we could see my house from there. We had food there. I could see them going into my house taking everything away.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Three days later, she and her young daughter, along with all women and children, were bused to a safe haven with the help of U.N. peacekeepers. However, the Dutch U.N. battalion did not interfere as Serb forces took away the men and boys to a fate much worse than hunger. Nezira Sulejmanovic never saw her two sons again. Earlier in the war she also lost her oldest daughter in a mortar attack that hit their home.

BILL CLINTON: These three Balkan leaders made the fateful choice for peace.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Srebrenica galvanized international efforts to end the war. Four months later, a peace accord was reached in Dayton, Ohio, and signed in Paris. The treaty split Bosnia into a Serb-dominated Republic of Srpska, and a federation held by a coalition of Bosniac Muslims and Croats, with the federal capital in Sarajevo.

In all, about a quarter of a million Bosnians were killed. Almost two million, half Bosnia’s population, were driven from their homes. For ten years, international soldiers and aid groups have helped keep Bosnia at peace. They’ve returned more than half those displaced to their pre-war homes and tried to rebuild political and civic institutions and the economy. And they’ve tried to recover and identify missing people. Tuzla’s morgue is focused on the victims of Srebrenica, says Zlatan Sabanovic of the Missing Persons Commission.

ZLATAN SABANOVIC: One group of people tried to escape through forests to come in free territory, and they were killed on the road between Tuzla and Srebrenica. And they were on the ground. And we call them surface remains. So far, we’ve collected around 800 body bags with that kind of remains. All other remains were from primary and secondary mass graves.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That means body bags often contain the remains from more than one individual. They are brought to what’s called a re-association center headed by Cheryl Katzmarzyk.

CHERLY KATZMARZYK: In fact, we’ve had cases of up to 30 people within a body bag.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Each bag is searched methodically. Bones are cleaned and laid out in what looks like an anatomy board game where players look for matches.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Now, how is this determined to be from one individual?

CHERLY KATZMARZYK: Okay, it’s through this anatomical correlation that we’re seeing.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Is it done by —

CHERLY KATZMARZYK: Visual observation. But as you see here, we have some very unique connections in our body. And so this sacrum will likely not fit this innominate as beautifully as it does. I mean, you can clearly see that it’s a match.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The skull size and the length of long bones, thighs and arms, give clues about age and height. Occasionally, evidence shows up of an injury that would have occurred long before death, like this broken left shoulder. It will be checked against missing person reports filed by families.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So when a relative reports this person missing, the hope is that that would be included?

CHERLY KATZMARZYK: That’s exactly right.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That this person had a shoulder injury?

CHERLY KATZMARZYK: That’s exactly right.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: More likely, clues to an identity will be far more subtle, so a DNA fingerprint is extracted from a sample of bone. This genetic profile is then compared to those of relatives of missing persons.

KATHRYNE BOMBERGER: We’ve now collected over 70,000 blood samples. It’s like throwing out a wide net. You’re collecting blood samples from living family members and simultaneously bone samples from mass grave sites. So it’s — it is contributing to the process of very accurate identification.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: DNA reports like this bring legal closure to a missing person case. But he says for many families, personal effects, which are carefully cataloged here, are just as crucial.

ZLATAN SABANOVIC: It’s — I think really, really important to recognize something, some parts of clothing or personal belongings like rings or watches, because for them it’s really, really hard to understand, you know, just DNA program, and it’s much, much easier if they can recognize and they will be more satisfied, you know.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: If they see a piece of clothing or a watch or something?


FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So far, about 2,000 Srebrenica victims, about a quarter of the total killed, have been identified. It may be a small step toward reconciliation in a country still fractured by ethnic politics where fugitive leaders, like Gen. Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, remain popular.

But the men supervising the peace process here says it is an important symbolic exercise. Former British politician Paddy Ashdown is the U.N. High Representative for Bosnia.

PADDY ASHDOWN: You can’t build a nation, however terrible the crimes committed, you can’t build a nation on vindictiveness and revenge. And the death of a mother’s child is, in her mind, unfinished business until the body is discovered and until she is able to put to rest the remains. I’ve seen that. I mean, one of my first early tasks was to help build the Srebrenica Cemetery, which I think will be a great place of pilgrimage for everybody, including the international community who must realize we must not allow this kind of genocide ever again.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nezira Sulejmanovic would like to see the perpetrators of war crimes, big and small, brought to justice. But first she has unfinished business at the cemetery. Her older son, Semsadine, was buried here two years ago. His bones were discovered in a mass grave in neighboring Serbia. Now, she awaits word on Sevar, who was 16 when she last saw him.

NEZIRA SULEJMANOVIC (Translated): We don’t know about my second son. I’m waiting by the telephone every day; I’m waiting for the news. We gave our blood specimens, blood samples.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There is no telling where her son will be found; 500 other victims of Srebrenica will be buried with full honors in a ceremony here on July 11.


Right to Live

This story originally aired on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on Aug. 26, 2005. A British court ruled that a doctor can decide when to terminate a patient’s life. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on Leslie Burke who suffers from cerebral ataxia and will eventually lose his ability to speak and swallow. He is concerned that doctors will choose to end his life against his wishes.


No transcript is available.


Mississippi’s Coast Recovery

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One local air force veteran said it looked like it’s been carpet bombed. Biloxi’s giant casinos employed 10,000 people and drew millions of tourists. Katrina took out Biloxi’s biggest monuments and its smallest, not even the dead were spared.

Less than a week ago this was a neighborhood of some of the sturdiest, stateliest oceanfront homes in Biloxi, homes that have withstood hurricanes for well over a century. Today, they lie in a vast wall of debris. Police aren’t sure that all of their occupants escaped or evacuated in time.

This morning Christine Fox came to keep her friend Ida Punzo company. Punzo rented a top floor apartment, about all that survived in this old home. They’ve been spending the days guarding against looting with plenty of time to think about the narrow escape.

CHRISTINE FOX: We are all right. We are still alive and darned grateful to be alive.

IDA PUNZO: We could feel the waves roll up and hit the bottom of the house — that lower floor. And hit the back of the house and it would, the — you could see the walls just rattling. And we were sitting in the hallway on a cooler. And I felt — I felt the floor drop and that is when we started running to the back of the house.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They managed to escape through the back door.

CHRISTINE FOX: We’re a very proud people. And we don’t ask anybody for anything. And we would rather not have than to ever ask anybody. But the last week, almost, we’ve had to find places to sleep, ask people for water, beg for food. We’ve had to depend on other people, walking by. It’s very humbling.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Humbled and grateful for their lives, survivors have spent the five days since Katrina in long, long lines for life’s most basic necessities — for gasoline — and for a hot meal, courtesy of the Southern Baptist Convention, which got here early tapping, a vast volunteer corps from throughout the Southeast. Vernon Boteler is the team leader.

VERNON BOTELER, Southern Baptist Convention: Now I understand that our president has said that they were going to send 400 trucks into this area. That would be great. But we haven’t seen it. All we’ve seen is people in need.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For water and ice it is another long line.

Loud cheers greeted the truck’s arrival, just in time for a rain shower which almost seemed to go unnoticed. Slowly supplies and help are beginning to arrive from outside the region, until now many communities and neighbors have had to make do with what little they have.

At the Main Street Missionary Baptist Church people came in to give food as well as get it.

ALPHONSE GRAVES, Church Deacon: Whatever they got in their house, the canned goods, they are bringing everything. You know, when they bring it to us, we open it up, and we cook it for the rest of the people.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The church’s sanctuary was demolished by the storm but on the day Katrina hit as the water rose, the upstairs community room became a different kind of sanctuary.

ALPHONSE GRAVES: We had a whole lot of elderly people in the church that we had to bring from the bottom stairs up to the top floor. So, you know, me and the rest of the pastors.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Biloxi’s high school is the main shelter, perhaps the only one in town. There’s some water and food, but no electricity, and for a lot of desperate people no information.

OLDER WOMAN: I’m looking for my daughter and grandchildren.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With phone service almost nonexistent, many survivors sought desperately to reach family members.

MAN: They don’t know, so —

WOMAN: So I could see that my family and my girls– I have one in Virginia– and the rest of my family is in California, my mom and everybody.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Joseph Brooks was among the lucky ones. In the school parking lot, he managed to borrow a cell phone, and– small miracle– get through to a sister in Missouri.

JOSEPH BROOKS: She told me I ought to get down on my hands and knees wherever I’m at or was at and thank God that I’m still sitting here, talking and alive.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In a city preoccupied with survival, it will take time to fully grasp the scope of this tragedy. It will take a lot more time to repair it. For months, perhaps years, relief work will take the place of casinos as Biloxi’s economic lifeline.


Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Seerithambi Rajendran remembers the tsunami like it happened yesterday. “I rushed home when the waters came,” he says. But there was no sign of his family and barely a trace of the home he shared with his wife and three children.

Two days later, he found his wife’s body in a hospital morgue; he never found his children. They were among countless victims whose bodies were never recovered or were buried with out identification to prevent the spread of disease. In all, about 31,000 Sri Lankans are thought to have died in the tsunami.

Survivors like Rajendran have struggled. He tried to commit suicide. All he now owns from his former life are these two pictures.

SEERITHAMBI RAJENDRAN (Translated): The one on the top came from my sister’s house. The other one was discovered in a photo album that had washed to the other side of the lagoon. Someone recognized it and brought it to me. It’s the only picture that survived from the album.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What he does have, unlike most other people here, is his livelihood back on a team of fishermen. They have new nets and a boat from its namesake, Rebecca Walker. She’s a British graduate student, who raised money from friends and church back home.

REBECCA WALKER: The main thing they needed was not motivation or anything like that, but to be busy. They needed to be given an option so that they could keep themselves busy and their minds active because at the time I met them, they were sat in refugee camps or in their broken homes just with nothing, and just basically, just thinking about what had happened.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Walker is among hundreds of individuals and agencies who have brought millions of dollars to Sri Lanka in the global outpouring of sympathy after the tsunami. It’s brought train service back, but the old train, in which more than 1,000 people drowned, stands as a symbol of the tsunami’s enormous toll.

Up and down Sri Lanka’s coast, emergency relief has become the main industry, providing food, sanitation and temporary work and housing. Yet the need seems impossible to fully meet.

In this village of Wehamula, Madhuri Jayasekere showed us through her two-room temporary home that’s shared by an extended family of 12.

MADHURI JAYASEKERE (Translated) There is not enough room for 12 people. It is too small. The government promised us a permanent home in three months but we have not gotten anything.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Still, they are luckier than many neighbors who must make due with tents.

WOMAN (Translated): The tents are very hot.

MAN (Translated): In the rainy season the water seeps right in.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: These people said they’d received some help soon after the tsunami, but almost nothing for months. They’ve survived on occasional day labor and food handouts. But the local official overseeing aid insists these people are squatters who moved into vacated tents, not really affected by the tsunami, he said, and so not eligible for aid.

One of the grim tasks for aid workers is to distinguish tsunami victims from just plain poor people: Victims of 20 years of bitter civil war between the Tamil-speaking Hindu minority and the Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority, a war that has drained Sri Lanka’s economy.

Jude Simeone is with a group of evangelical churches who’ve aided displaced people before and after the tsunami.

JUDE SIMEONE: There this enormous support came to its tsunami victims, but there are 800,000 refugees living in refugee camps and they’re displaced in various places.

We have a fear that we are going to create a social imbalance in terms of the tsunami victims and the war-affected people.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Father Benjamin Miller, an American missionary, has lived in Sri Lanka’s mostly Tamil Northeast since 1948.

FATHER BENJAMIN MILLER: Almost every group sees the things they don’t have and they know someone else who has what they would like to have. And they consider that they’re being exploited or denied and that runs all the way down the coast wherever the tsunami hit.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Rebel Liberation Tamil Tigers, a group that became known for suicide bombings in the 1980s, controls much of the Northeast.

Their war to turn it into a separate nation costs thousands of young lives before an internationally brokered cease-fire two years ago. The Tigers, also called the LTTE, have insisted that they, not the Sinhala-dominated government, supervised all the aid efforts here.

Father Miller says that could doom those efforts.

FATHER BENJAMIN MILLER: Quite a number of governments that are giving money have been very specific that “We will not put any money in the hands of the LTTE because we have already declared them a terrorist group.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Some $3 billion has been pledged but not yet delivered by various governments and the wrangling over a share of it has raised tensions again and threatened Sri Lanka’s cease-fire.

The government blamed the Tamil tigers for the assassination in August of Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, a charge the LTTE denies.

But there are almost daily reports of political murders and of abductions of children to serve as soldiers, a trademark LTTE tactic.

PATTIPILLAI VELLUPILLAI (Translated): They come on motorcycles and just take the kids away on the back of motorcycles. A lot of parents don’t even let their children go to school because they are afraid. One 16-year-old boy was taken from here just yesterday.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So far, politics, war, and bureaucracy haven’t significantly hindered emergency relief, but aid workers worry that the deteriorating security will drive away agencies and the money for the long-term rebuilding to bring jobs and permanent homes.


Thailand Rebuilds After Tsunami

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Perhaps no Asian country has been as dependent on tourism as Thailand. Millions of visitors from across Europe, Asia and Australia have flocked to beaches and resorts in the country’s south.

The beaches and the economy around them disappeared in about 30 minutes on Dec. 26. The tsunami took thousands of lives, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

Outside of a temporary morgue set up for tsunami victims near Phuket, a wall of remembrance honors the 5,300 or so people who lost their lives. They were Thais and workers and tourists from dozens of countries. Hundreds of bodies have still not been identified, hundreds were never recovered.

At this high-end resort in the town of Khao Lak, twelve staffers and three guests perished. Well before the shock subsided, Chaiyuth Trongkamoltum, one of the owners here, says they began rebuilding.

CHAIYUTH TRONGKAMOLTUM: The day after the tsunami, we had a gathering within the family members, you know, what do you think about the future? And we decided right then we have no choice. We have to continue. You see, this kind of national disaster, you know, will not happen for a long time, we hope, you know.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chaiyuth has other businesses and credit lines. So he’s able to rebuild and expand, taking over a traumatized neighbor’s place.

CHAIYUTH TRONGKAMOLTUM: He lost his wife. He lost his daughter. He’s not a hotelier. He doesn’t know how to run a hotel. So he asked us whether we want to take over the land.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Southern Thailand has seen frenzied construction all year; its businesses hoping to be back by the winter tourist season. But no one’s yet sure if the guests will return as quickly.

Chaiyuth’s customers came mainly from Europe, also Japan and Korea. The latter, he fears, may be too frightened to return.

CHAIYUTH TRONGKAMOLTUM: For the Asian tourists, they’re concerned about, you know, ghosts, ghost stories.


CHAIYUTH TRONGKAMOLTUM: Ghosts. Whereas for the European tourists, in India, they’re more concerned about whether the area is safe in terms of warning systems, that kind of thing, and whether the facilities in the whole area will be ready.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The drive to make everything ready for tourists may be taking resources and attention away from equally devastated non-tourist areas, mostly fishing communities. Their boats gone, people here fish from shore and depend on food relief handouts to survive.

Hugh Parmer is a former U.S. aid official who now heads the private American Refugee Committee.

HUGH PARMER: The Thai government, while it was trying to help everybody, was critically interested in getting those resort hotels repaired and back into place and back into business.

Now I’m sure they’d argue that, you know, that created jobs for people, and I’m sure it did. But at the same time, I think if you were a poor fisherman in a village who’d lost everything, the fact that all the available wood supplies and carpenters were down working on rebuilding a fancy resort hotel might not be particularly appealing to you as you try to replace your family’s necessities of life.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Parmer’s group is helping restore the fishing trade in villages here. ARC is building up to 500 new boats with U.S. Government and private donations. The new boats will allow people like Tae Boonreung to return to the sea. They will give women like Tabtim Boonreung, still grieving the death of her husband, a new role as a small business owner. A mother of three young sons, she plans to employ local men to run her donated boat.

TABTIM BOONREUNG (Translated): The money won’t be like before. We earned a decent living when my husband was alive. Now I have to share the income with others. It’s better than what I have now, but it won’t ever be like it was before.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Rebuilding their lives may be the more immediate worry, but never too far below the surface is concern about another tsunami. The Thai government is building an early warning system. The man in charge was called out of a retirement. Meteorologist Smith Dharmasaroja had called for such a system ten years ago. He’d generated controversy at the time, saying that a tsunami was imminent.

SMITH DHARMASAROJA: People called me a lot of names, and criticized me and called me a mad man, and especially some government officials told me that I destroyed the tourism industry in Thailand.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Saying you were scaring away tourists in other words?

SMITH DHARMASAROJA: Yes, that’s right.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This Bangkok center now monitors American, Japanese and other global geologic and news sources for information. They are looking for seismic activity that could affect the Thai coast.

Earthquakes are sometimes followed by high waves. So as soon as one is detected, the center is intended to send warnings to shoreline communities in case a tsunami ensues.

SMITH DHARMASAROJA: We know exactly what location of epicenter, and we calculate the time of arrival, estimated time of arrival of the tsunami. We will send this information to satellite, and this satellite will send signal to the warning tower to operate. You probably have 25 minutes or 30 minutes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To seek higher ground?


FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So far just three of a planned 62 warning towers have been installed and the system hasn’t worked well. Two quakes did actually occur this year. They did not trigger tsunami waves. However, in both cases emergency messages did not reach all the televisions and cell phones they were supposed to in beach communities. And in fishing villages like Bonsai Kai, it was even worse.

Village headman Laiman Sau says the public address system hasn’t worked since it was hit by last year’s tsunami. Evacuation orders had to come by word of mouth.

As Tai officials work out the bugs and build the early warning system, the informal telephone and door-to-door approach will likely work for some time. The force and fury of the last tsunami is enough to keep everyone here on their toes for a long time.

JIM LEHRER: Since that report was completed, Indonesia has activated the initial phase of its early warning system. Surface buoys and sensors on the bottom of the ocean are in place to detect tremors. The full system is scheduled to be in place by 2007.


Evolution Debate in Dover, PA

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dover, Pennsylvania, population 22,000, has long been a farm town. In recent years it’s become a bedroom community for people who work in the Baltimore area. They all came for the quiet, conservative lifestyle. And these days barber Mike Myers says they want it back.

MIKE MYERS: It’s a small town. And we never had this much attention you know, we’re not used to it.

At first it was like, oh this is pretty neat, what’s going on here. And now it’s like, jeez, it’s all the time. It’s time to pack up and get another subject.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The subject that put Dover into the national spotlight was intelligent design. In 2004 Dover’s solidly Republican school board asked 9th grade biology teachers to add a statement about intelligent design when they taught evolution.

DAVID NAPIERSKI, Former School Board Member: Which basically stated that in that statement, the evolution had gaps in it, so therefore to fill in those gaps, they felt that there was another theory out there from a scientific standpoint that could be reviewed, and that was called intelligent design.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Former school board member David Napierski said the change broadened student’s understanding about human origins. Intelligent design supporters say some biology is so complex it could only be the result of design. No designer is identified, but critics say intelligent design is simply creationism in disguise.

The school board’s action drew national media and legal attention. The American Civil Liberties union filed a suit on behalf of a group of parents.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD: Intelligent design is a religious proposition. It doesn’t belong in public school science classes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The school board was defended by the Thomas More Center, a conservative advocacy group. Attorney Richard Thompson.

RICHARD THOMPSON: It is the ability of school boards to allow public students to know about other theories besides Darwin’s theory.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: After weeks of testimony in the lawsuit, but before the judge could rule, voters in Dover delivered their verdict on election night, Nov. 8. All eight members of the school board who were up for re-election were defeated. John Altman is a political scientist at York College.

JOHN ALTMAN: I think a lot of the voters felt like the school board had, in a way, maybe embarrassed the community, you know, brought unwanted attention to the community, made the community seem like it was a backwards, you know, rural place. And I think they sent a message that that’s not what Dover, Pennsylvania, is about.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ironically, he says voters in Dover probably supported the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution. Polls show a majority of Americans do. And newly elected board members like Terry Emig and Bernadette Reinking said it was an emotional issue for many voters.

TERRY EMIG: You had the certain individuals, you knocked on the door, you minute they told you who you were, no, we don’t like you, goodbye, and shut the door.

BERNADETTE REINKING: Sometimes they would get so upset that we would just laugh and say, did you see his neck get all —

JUDY McILVAINE: There was a man that came out and did a monkey dance for me.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As strong supporters of evolution, they say they were often branded as atheists.

BERNADETTE REINKING: All of us, I know we are all Christians. And so it is just sometimes I wonder exactly what the problem is because all of us believe in God and so, you know, that’s not — it’s really not a question with us.

JUDY McILVAINE: It seems to be possible both to believe in God and to accept the theory of evolution because one is about belief and faith and the other is about science and education.


FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The lawsuit may have put ousted school board members, most of them devout proclaimed conservative Christians.

DAVID NAPIERSKI: I believe in the principles of the bible and the bible clearly shows through Genesis, you know, I believe in the creationism view with respect to how God created the world and so forth, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Yet in court board members argues that the new curriculum and intelligent design were all about academics and science, and not religiously motivated.

REV. ED ROWAND: Academic reasoning —

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That decision to separate their religious beliefs from their legal arguments likely turned off some of their supporters, According to Dennis Hall, a pastor at Dover’s Friendship Community Church.

REV. DENNIS HALL: They should have said yes, we did it because this is what our faith beliefs — believes in. But they said no, we did it because of science or whatever.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That would have been a legally fatal thing to do, would it not?

REV. DENNIS HALL: Yes, certainly, I understand why they said that. But the reasoning behind it, the feeling behind it, I think, is because of their values, their religious values.

SPOKESMAN: There are people that continue to misunderstand intelligent design, and those people who felt it was religious in nature felt, okay, school board members, we think this is religious in nature. You need to push this on a religious platform. So therefore there were people from religious standpoint that were angry.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The new members say they are aware of that anger and division, even though it looked like a clean sweep, Judy McIlvaine says only a few hundred votes separated the two sides.

JUDY McILVANE: This was hardly a landslide victory. Almost half the voters did not vote for us. And we have to be very mindful of that going forward. And we know that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And McIlvane and colleagues on the new board say intelligent design does have its place in the classroom, just not in science class.

BERNADETTE REINKING: I would like to see it put in a philosophy class or a world history class, as an elective so that all religions can be discussed.

ROB McILVAINE: There is such a need for multicultural understanding across the gamut of religions, whether it is the Muslim faith, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I think intelligent design as a topic needs to be placed in that context as was said earlier so that it can, perhaps, galvanize some discussion and awaken some understandings and some tolerance that might not otherwise be the case.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In the end, the words of one national broadcaster may do more than anything else to unify people in Dover. Televangelist Pat Robertson.

REV. PAT ROBERTSON: I would like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.

SPOKESMAN: I think there is only one piece of his statement I even agreed with. And once again as he started off with the good citizens of Dover, I think he should have let it rest there.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Robertson statement revived some people’s sense of humor, as when our interview was interrupted by a phone call.

SPOKESPERSON: That was Pat Robertson calling. (Laughter)

BERNADETTE REINKING: Just leave it alone, Alex.

TERRY EMIG: Sorry Pat, she’s busy.

JUDY McILVANE: Just wanted to tell you there was a tornado warning.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The new board members take office Dec. 5 and say they will look to a legal higher power before making any decisions on curricula changes.

JUDY McILVANE: The judge’s word — whatever it is — going to carry great weight. And I think it’s going to — to do some work toward helping the community start to heal because that will, you know, it’s not a school board saying, well, hey, this is how it is going to be.

This is a judge making a ruling on a case where both sides got to present their side, fully. This should bring some closure at least for our community. I’m sure there are many other communities throughout the United States that will be waiting for this verdict with great interest.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The judge’s verdict in the Dover lawsuit is expected in early January.