CBS ’60 Minutes’ Episode Guide (Dec. 14): Syria’s Civil War; Discharged Mentally Ill Patients

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CBS ’60 Minutes’ Episode Guide (Dec. 14): Syria’s Civil War; Discharged Mentally Ill Patients

“60 Minutes” (12/14/14) – Life was so hard during the siege of Homs in Syria’s civil war that residents like Simav were reduced to eating grass to survive.

She says she even looked forward to the times when she had to go out looking for the grass, because it offered a diversion from the bombs and snipers that had become a part of her daily life.

She videotaped nearly every aspect of her desperate struggle to survive over a two-year period, providing some of the most poignant and personal accounts of a conflict that has caused the deaths of an estimated 200 thousand people. Her footage was then paired with YouTube videos taken from everyday Syrians, and included in a feature-length documentary by exiled director Osama Mohammed called “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait.”

Simav and Mohammed speak to Bob Simon for a report on “60 Minutes” Sunday, Dec. 14 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

“I remember on my third day without food, I was ready to collapse,” says Simav. She says she found sugar containers in an abandoned home. “I started licking them like a wild animal. Sometimes there was nothing but grass. “It was delicious. I would go out looking for grass because our days were full of shelling and hunger and frustration,” Simav tells Simon in an interview in Istanbul. “I would try and look at it in a positive way, to forget the pain.”

She captured the horrors that were experienced by Syrians every day, but the most difficult thing was the conflict’s toll on the children, some of whom she got to know personally through a school she opened.

In a heart-wrenching video, she illustrates how children grew used to death in Syria, showing her interaction with a 4-year-old boy as he brings flowers to his father’s grave.

Simon’s report also takes a look at another film that was shot in the city called “Return to Homs.” This documentary follows Abdel Baset al-Sarout, a star soccer player who becomes a protest leader in the early days of the uprising. The film shows Baset in the streets of Homs leading thousands in denouncing the Assad regime. What drew people to him in those early days? “The songs, his songs,” the film’s director Talal Derki tells Simon.

Over the course of the siege, Baset transforms from a peaceful revolutionary into hardened rebel fighter who battles Assad’s troops in the streets of Homs, and eventually aligns himself with Islamists. Why? According to the film’s producer, Orwa Nyrabia, it was because his calls for help from the West went unheeded. “You have to get [help] from somewhere,” Nyrabia tells Simon. “And if it comes with a few conditions then you’ll have to adapt. And that was a necessity for many in Syria.”

Then, later in the “60 Minutes” broadcast, CNN Anchor and “60 Minutes” Correspondent Anderson Cooper is one of the busiest journalists in America. And like many people, he’s constantly working his cell phone, probably more than most.

But this Sunday, he puts it down to meditate and report on what it’s like to try to achieve “mindfulness,” a self-awareness that scientists say is very healthy, but people are losing to life’s many distractions like cell phones. Cooper’s report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Dec. 14 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Cooper learns to mediate in the course of his reporting. Then, he dons a cap with 128 electrodes, which monitors his brain to show how meditating and mindfulness can alter its function. Watch an excerpt.

The study and analysis is done by Dr. Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts. He believes everyone can learn to mediate and achieve the same mindfulness, escaping constant use of digital devices, which he believes are addicting.

“[Being on a phone has] the same reward pathways as addiction, absolutely,” Dr. Brewer tells Cooper.

Says Cooper, “I’m on mobile devices all day long. I feel like I could go through an entire day and not be present. It’s exhausting.” And not just for him, says Dr. Brewer. “All of this is leading to a societal exhaustion.”

Also this evening on “60 Minutes,” Scott Pelley reports on when insurance companies deny the mentally ill the treatment their doctors prescribe. This often leads to seriously ill people being discharged and being a danger to themselves or others.

“60 Minutes,” the most successful television broadcast in history, began its 46th season on Sept. 29, 2013. Offering hard-hitting investigative reports, interviews, feature segments and profiles of people in the news, the broadcast begun in 1968 is still a hit in 2011, regularly making Nielsen’s Top 10. The average audience for a “60 Minutes” broadcast still dwarfs the biggest audiences drawn by cable news programs.

“60 Minutes” correspondents include Anderson Cooper, Steve Kroft, Sanjay Gupta, Lara Logan, Norah O’Donnell, Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose, Morley Safer, Bob Simon and Lesley Stahl.

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