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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  October 30, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> this is what i stood for. >> pelley: and you were willing to die for it? >> for this cause. >> pelley: hoping to die for it? >> yeah. >> pelley: at the age of 19, this american joined isis and organized friends to go to syria to join the brutal fight. he's now facing 15 years in prison, but was released for one day to tell his story to us. >> pelley: did you see the videos of the isis atrocities? >> yes, i have seen them. >> pelley: of the jordanian pilot that they burned to death? did you think you were going to be doing that kind of thing? >> yeah. i was going to be participating in those activities. >> lapook: what does marijuana have to do with this coming election? a lot.
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it's on the ballot in many states to make it legal for recreational use. if it passes, pot would be legal in almost a quarter of the country. to understand the pros and cons of legalized marijuana, we went to colorado, the heartland of legal marijuana in america. is it fair to say this is tricky? >> it is fair to say this is more than tricky. this is, you know, about the hardest, most complicated thing in public life that i've ever had to work on. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: something unusual happened on the way to the grammy awards this past year... an album was nominated from malawi. the artists weren't polished pop stars, but prisoners and guards, in a place called zomba. a maximum security prison, so decrepit and overcrowded, it's been called "hell's waiting room." ♪ ♪
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how could such beautiful music come from such misery? ♪ ♪ we went to malawi to find out. ♪ ♪ >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm leslie stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories, tonight on "60 minutes." >> cbs money watch sponsored by american express open. proud supporter of growing businesses. >> quijano: good evening. the final jobs report before the election comes out friday. it's expected to show 175,000 jobs were added this month. pfizer and starbucks report earnings this week, and halloween shoppers are expected to scare up a record $8.4 billion in sales. i'm elaine quijano, cbs news.
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i thought i married an italian. my lineage was the vecchios and zuccolis. through ancestry,
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through dna i found out that i was only 16% italian. he was 34% eastern european. so i went onto ancestry, soon learned that one of our ancestors we thought was italian was eastern european. this is my ancestor who i didn't know about. he looks a little bit like me, yes. ancestry has many paths to discovering your story. get started for free at alri was the mommynow slam dunk champion? really?
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yes, really! don't sound so surprised. let's see it! -oh you're ready. alright, here we go. let's hear the crowd. ahhhh! i go to the right. i go to the left. fake 'em out. mama go up, up, up! she did it. -again? you can't avoid gravity. but unitedhealthcare can help you avoid financial surprises by helping you compare costs and doctor quality ratings. unitedhealthcare uh-huh >> pelley: about 260 americans have joined, or tried to join, terrorists overseas.
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and many of us wonder, how in god's name does that happen? how is an american drawn into a group that seeks to destroy everything that america stands for? abdirizak warsame has an exotic name, but he was an american teenager, living with his mom in minneapolis, who became the leader of an isis cell, sending other young men from minneapolis to their deaths. warsame will be sentenced soon. he is facing up to 15 years in prison, but he was released from jail for one day to talk to us, before the judge passes sentence, to explain how he fell for isis in god's name. >> abdirizak warsame: the reason i wanted to go to syria was, i felt like it was my duty. i felt like it was something that i had to do. and if i didn't do it, i would be, basically a disgrace to god. i would be a disgrace to the world. i would be a disgrace to my family. >> pelley: did you see the
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videos of the isis atrocities? >> warsame: yes, i have seen them. >> pelley: of them shooting people and throwing them into the river, one after another? the jordanian pilot that they burned to death? did you think you were going to be doing that kind of thing? >> warsame: yeah. i was going to be participating in those activities. >> pelley: because those people weren't true muslims. >> warsame: right. >> pelley: and therefore they deserved to die? >> warsame: correct. >> pelley: abdirizak warsame learned the theology of murder in minneapolis, minnesota. he was an american kid-- rising in a tough neighborhood-- but never in trouble with the police. he found his way through high school chasing a basketball, pursuing poetry, and music. >> warsame: when i say cedar, you say riders! cedar! >> pelley: "cedar," as in cedar riverside, was his neighborhood where 20,000 refugees from somalia began to settle in the 1990s. they set their hearts on the american dream, but like most immigrant communities, the first generation kids grew up between
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two worlds. too foreign for many americans, too american for their parents. >> warsame: i went to school with a lot of kids that were not somali. and so i kind of got into that culture, you know, music. going to prom, dancing, it's hard to kind of explain that stuff to your parents, when they kind of really don't understand what it is. >> pelley: his mother didn't understand why he was hanging out with tough boys in cedar, so she prodded him to go to the mosque. >> warsame: learning about the religion and reciting the quran, i started to become more religious. i felt like there was something that was missing in me. >> pelley: the mosque was not extremist, but the lessons were in somali, and warsame looked for an english-speaking imam online. >> anwar al-awlaki: we are fighting for a noble cause. we are fighting for god. >> pelley: he found, anwar al- awlaki, born in new mexico, and a leading spiritual advisor for al qaeda.
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awlaki produced hours of lectures glorifying war on nonbelievers. >> warsame: one of the lectures was titled, "battle of the hearts and minds." and what they do is try to get your heart and your mind and try to get you to join their cause. and so, whether you're doing something good for your community, whether you're going to school, whether you have a nice job, all of that, they're going to make it seem like it's worthless. and that there is something greater that you can be doing. >> pelley: awlaki was killed by a u.s. drone five years ago. but online, life is everlasting. >> warsame: he explained how islam was, you know, like, my calling. it was almost like he was talking to you. and like it made you feel like you were special, you know? and like you're the chosen one. and the more i listened to it, the more it was appealing to me and the more interesting it became. >> pelley: how much time did you spend watching these videos?
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>> warsame: i would just continuously watch them when i wasn't doing anything. when i wasn't at school or doing my homework or, you know, out with my family. i was watching those videos. >> awalki: we are facing you with men who love death just like you love life. >> pelley: around the videos grew a congregation, eleven of warsame's friends. >> warsame: i thought i was the only one. but when i met these group of men that i was friends with, it was kind of shocking to see that they also knew about these videos too. we would listen and listen and listen until we became, you know, wrapped in this ideology. all those lectures would talk about how it wasn't a time for just, you know, talking, but it was a time for action. >> pelley: the route to action was a link away, in the recruitment videos of isis. music videos, a language the boys could understand.
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youtube became more real to you than your neighborhood in minnesota? >> warsame: yes. >> pelley: how could that be? >> warsame: it kind of takes control of you. and you think you're doing something for a greater cause. and you think you're doing it for good. >> pelley: and what was that? >> warsame: most of the videos would talk about how if you would engage in jihad, you would be doing your family a favor. and that you would be saving their lives from eternal hellfire. >> pelley: that if you died as a martyr, you would not only go to paradise-- your whole family would go with you. >> warsame: whole family would go to paradise. >> pelley: and you were trying to be the best muslim you could be? >> warsame: correct. you want to be the hero. you want to save everyone. and you want to do good. >> pelley: in 2014, at the age of 19, warsame helped organize a plot to join isis in syria. he helped his friends get passports and made connections with people who could smuggle them through turkey. the first two reached syria,
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yusuf jama, and abdi nur. nur sent back facebook pictures. >> warsame: i remember him telling me, you know, "i'm having the time of my life," and he was fulfilling his dream or on his way to heaven. >> pelley: what happened to him? >> warsame: i believe he's dead. >> pelley: how did that happen? >> warsame: he was fighting, and he was killed. >> pelley: yusuf jama was also killed. are you responsible for their deaths? >> warsame: yeah, i believe i am responsible for their deaths, and i think about that every day. >> pelley: and if you had been able to get to syria, what do you think would have happened to you by now? >> warsame: i probably would be dead right now. >> pelley: after your friend, abdi nur, left minneapolis, his mother was trying to find him. she was desperate. >> warsame: she was desperate. she needed answers. and, i knew where he was going. and i did the unthinkable and i
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lied to her, and i told her that i didn't know where her son was. >> pelley: she was trying to save his life. >> warsame: yeah. that was very evil of me to do. >> pelley: as more of warsame's group applied for passports, one of them was evasive about where he was going, and a passport official passed along his suspicions. the f.b.i. got involved and convinced one of the conspirators to cooperate. >> andrew luger: he ended up wearing a recording device for two months, and that's one of the ways that we have such good insight into the thinking of these co-conspirators. >> pelley: u.s. attorney andrew luger ran the prosecution. >> luger: there's a pull and a push. and the pull is this ideology that says "we're building the perfect world. you belong with us. come join it." and the push is "they're not going to treat you like we will. you're always going to be an outsider." >> pelley: it sounds like a gang recruiting a kid in chicago?
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>> luger: there are a lot of similarities. it goes a little deeper, though, because this message of, "you don't belong in the west," is so dangerous. >> pelley: luger meets with the community often in hopes of warning parents and turning young men around. >> luger: our job is not only to catch and prosecute criminals, but to prevent criminal activity in the first place. >> mohamed amin: if there's violence in society, everyone loses! >> pelley: mohamed amin is among those fighting the isis message with one of his own. >> amin: we're comparing their system, al qaeda, islamic state. why is our system better? because it's fairer. it's just, it's more open and more importantly, it works! >> pelley: amin works in a gas station and spends his money producing anti-isis cartoons under the name "average mohamed." >> what do you think your job description is when you join the islamic state? behead unarmed innocent people. destroy world heritage sites,
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empower unelected, blood-thirsty individuals as leaders. >> amin: given resources and opportunity, we can win this fight. >> pelley: why do you think so? >> amin: because i have hope. peace supersedes violence. freedom supersedes hate. and my community wants to be part of the american dream. we love our country. it's a great country. it's given us a lot. a lot. >> luger: we have to work with all minnesotans to combat islamophobia, because racial bigotry and religious bigotry helps the isil narrative, and we've got to stop it. >> pelley: how does it help? >> luger: you listen to these young men, and they're hearing a message that says, "you're not wanted in the west." so when a mother is beaten in a restaurant, which happened last year here, simply because she was somali, had a beer mug smashed across her face and told, "go home" in front of little kids, that helps that isil narrative.
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>> pelley: was she an american citizen? >> luger: yes. >> pelley: and her kids were too? >> luger: yes. >> pelley: and so when the person said, "go home"? >> luger: the kids said, "what do they mean? we just want to eat at applebee's." >> pelley: andrew luger prosecuted nine of warsame's group. four had been intercepted at j.f.k. airport in new york on their way to syria. warsame and five others pled guilty to supporting a terrorist organization. >> warsame: i pled guilty because i knew i was guilty. and i knew what i did was wrong. >> pelley: another who pled guilty was zacharia abdurahman. his father, yusuf, told us that his son had been working nights to go to college by day. he told us he never saw trouble until he looked in hindsight. >> yusuf abdurahman: in our culture, where i come from, we are very harsh. nomadic society, very harsh. we don't do compliments, we don't praise the kids, we don't hug them. we don't just tell them, "we love you."
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i never tell my kid, "i love you," until he get caught and he's behind bars. we are out of touch with our children. i'm not computer savvy. these children, these computers and this internet this is their toys. >> pelley: their toys. >> abdurahman: yeah. >> pelley: and you didn't know what was happening. >> abdurahman: we didn't know what's happening at the time. you know, i'm a parent that his kid is in jail now. you know, i'm sorry what he's going through. but, you know, i'm very glad that he's here. i'm very glad that he was caught, that he was stopped. >> pelley: you're glad that he was caught? >> abdurahman: yes. yes, he's alive. >> pelley: of the twelve, two were killed, the one who cooperated with the f.b.i. has not been charged, six pled guilty, and three were convicted at trial. warsame testified for the prosecution. and these selfies were part of the evidence. did you write those words? >> warsame: yeah. it says "till the death of me, baby." >> pelley: and what did that mean? >> warsame: that meant, this is what i stood for.
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>> pelley: and you were willing to die for it? >> warsame: for this cause. >> pelley: hoping to die for it? >> warsame: yeah. >> pelley: you're looking at potentially 15 years in prison. who do you blame for that? >> warsame: myself. at the end of the day, i was the one who made those decisions. i'm trying to do the best that i can, to make up for all of the things that i've done. >> pelley: do you really believe that, or are you saying it so the judge will go easy on you? >> warsame: i really believe that. what i've done is something that nobody can be proud of. it's very shameful. i might be very remorseful, but i haven't done any actions to correct those wrongs. >> pelley: and that's what this interview is? >> warsame: it's the only reason i'm doing this interview, is to make up for the wrong that i've done. >> pelley: and to those young men who are watching those same videos right now, today? you say, what? >> warsame: i say it's not worth it. it's not worth your family going
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through all the pain and suffering just because you believe in something that is total nonsense. that doesn't make sense. it's not worth your life. >> pelley: you watched those videos to change your life. and they have. >> warsame: correct. ♪ fifty years ago, humpback whales were nearly extinct.
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>> pelley: now, dr. john lapook on assignment for "60 minutes." >> lapook: 5% of americans live in states where pot is legal for recreational use, but by next wednesday, that percentage could swell to almost 25%. it's on the ballot in five states: california, massachusetts, maine, arizona and nevada. if it passes in those states, it would reflect a significant shift in attitudes. the latest poll shows more than half of americans favor legalization. the state with the most experience with legal recreational pot is colorado, which allowed retail sale of the drug, starting in 2014. no other state has gone further or faster into the legal weed business, but it's still in its infancy and remains an experiment. so with next week's vote in mind, we went to colorado to find out what's working, and what's not.
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this county in southern colorado has been called the "napa valley of cannabis" for a reason. no community has felt the impact of legalization more powerfully than pueblo. a former steel town of 160,000 residents, it is now home to over 90 pot growing facilities. this is the heartland of legal marijuana in america, and it goes on as far as the eye can see. this is enormous! how big is this? >> bob degabrielle: we have 36 acres here, and there is 21,600 plants between all the four licenses. >> lapook: 21,600 plants. that's a lot of plants. bob degabrielle is a founder of this industrial scale enterprise, which he runs with his 27-year-old son, ketch. just three years ago, he was a real estate developer from north carolina. now he owns los suenos farms, the largest recreational cultivation facility in the country. how did you get into the marijuana business?
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>> bob degabrielle: came out and looked at it from an investment standpoint, then just decided to stay out here. realized that colorado was really the epicenter of what was happening in the industry. >> lapook: bob and his partners have invested $10 million in colorado's tightly regulated industry, which requires that every plant grown by a licensed operator be entered into a database, outfitted with a radio frequency tag, and tracked from seed to sale. this is high-tech, high-security retail cultivation, where 289 cameras track every plant and 22,000 pounds of marijuana are harvested a year, then cured in barrels like wine. where does it go from here? >> ketch degabrielle: so from here, it will go through our trimming machines and we'll trim it. >> lapook: it will also be inspected by the state for quality control. at los suenos farms, they are on track to rake in about $20 million a year in this budding industry, and they say it has been very good for pueblo county too.
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>> bob degabrielle: in so many ways, it's been an economic windfall for the community. >> lapook: marijuana has created 1,300 jobs and more than 60 businesses in pueblo. there are 85 employees at los suenos, and they all have to pass background checks and be fingerprinted. but while five u.s. states will have legalization of recreational marijuana on the ballot, this colorado county is considering restricting it. on election day, voters in pueblo will decide whether the county should opt-out of the production and sale of recreational pot. that would force los suenos farms out of business within a year. how would that affect you financially? >> bob degabrielle: oh, it would be devastating, in terms of the amount of money that we've put in here, and the time that we've put in here. >> ketch degabrielle: making it illegal here does absolutely nothing to get cannabis out of here. it just means you have to drive to the next county to purchase it. >> what recreational flavors do we have today? >> lapook: when recreational marijuana was legalized in colorado, most counties chose
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not to allow the production or sale of it. pueblo did, and there have been both profits and problems ever since. >> steven simerville: it's affecting the emergency room, it's affecting the operating room. it's affecting just about every aspect of medicine that you could think of. >> lapook: dr. steven simerville is a pediatrician, and medical director of the newborn intensive care unit at pueblo's saint mary corwin medical center. he supports the ballot initiative to ban recreational pot, in part because he says he's noticed more babies being born with marijuana in their system. his observations are anecdotal, but he's concerned by what he has seen in his own hospital. in the first nine months of this year, 27 babies born at this hospital tested positive for t.h.c., the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. that's on track to be about 15% higher than last year. when was the last time you took care of a baby who tested positive for marijuana? >> simerville: i have babies up on the unit right now who are positive for... >> lapook: right now?
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>> simerville: -for marijuana. >> lapook: and when were they born? >> simerville: all of them were within a week. >> lapook: what does the mother say, when you say "your baby's just tested positive for marijuana, and it can possibly harm the baby?" what does the mother say? >> simerville: they're not surprised that it-- they're tested positive. obviously, they know they've been smoking marijuana, but they're in disbelief that it's harmful. they frequently say, "how can it be harmful? it's a legal drug." >> lapook: dr. simerville says that's a common misconception, especially because 25 states have approved marijuana for medical use, for conditions like epilepsy, pain and stimulation of appetite. but on the federal level, it's still illegal. today's pot is on average four to five times stronger than it was in the 1980s. it can also get passed on to babies in high concentrations in breast milk. >> simerville: i try to explain to them that even though you're not smoking very much, the baby is getting seven times more than you're taking, and that there's this drug has been shown to cause harm in developing brains.
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>> lapook: research suggests babies exposed to marijuana in utero may develop verbal, memory and behavioral problems during early childhood. >> simerville: you need to be able to protect babies. and you're going to need to protect teenagers. and by "teenagers," who are developing brains, you have to take in mind that marijuana potentially permanently affects brain growth until people are 25 or 30. >> lapook: in the first ten months of this year, 71 teenagers came into the emergency room at this hospital with marijuana in their system, which is on track to be about 70% higher than last year. that worries dr. simerville, because evidence is emerging that heavy teenage use- using four to five days a week- may be linked to long-term damage in areas of the brain that help control cognitive functions like attention, memory and decision- making. it's not known if there's any amount of marijuana that is safe for the developing brain, which may still be maturing during the mid- to late-20s. law enforcement officers in
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pueblo county believe they too, are seeing more marijuana related problems. >> kirk taylor: they said the black market will disappear. well, i can tell you, the black market is alive and well and thriving. in fact, its exploding. >> lapook: you're used to seeing this much marijuana. i am not. >> taylor: usually it's indoors and a little taller. >> lapook: sheriff kirk taylor is aggressively tackling a problem known as "illegal homegrows." criminal organizations are coming to colorado to grow marijuana illegally for out of state diversion. sheriff taylor says they had one to two busts a year before recreational marijuana was legalized. in the last six months, they've had 36. sheriff, who's behind the illegal grows? >> taylor: different groups of folks. cuban nationals from florida. we've busted russians from new york. the pattern that they've shown here in the last six months is, they'll come in and buy a home or rent a home or a series of homes. and they'll set up grows in those homes- whether it be in the garages, in the out- buildings, very sophisticated. they're hot-tapping into the
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existing electrical grids. >> lapook: we were with sheriff taylor in pueblo as swat team members and federal drug enforcement agents gathered before dawn to stage one of the largest illegal homegrow busts in the country. >> if you guys aren't familiar, this is a huge operation. five counties involved, about seven different agencies. >> lapook: more than 150 deputies and agents armed with 13 search warrants were preparing for a coordinated strike. the target of the day's raid was a drug cartel from southeast asia, suspected of converting ten rental homes into grow operations that are hiding in plain sight. so the feeling is, this is organized crime here? >> taylor: absolutely. >> lapook: this is not a one or two-person operation? >> taylor: no, this is not a mom and pop, "let's grow a little weed." this is organized crime. >> lapook: this raid was three months in the planning, and came with heavy artillery.
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it netted a number of suspects, and resulted in the seizure of more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana plants in all, with a potential value of over $7 million. that amount is doubled if it's sold out-of-state, but these plants will be destroyed. illegal grows like this are not the only problem cops here are facing. some people are getting high, then getting behind the wheel. and there is currently no field sobriety test in use that is the equivalent of the breathalizer for alcohol, though colorado police are experimenting with roadside oral swab tests. >> marilyn huestis: there's huge differences between alcohol and marijuana, and that's one of the things the public really needs to understand, is, they think "well, we can take all the rules and everything we've set up for alcohol and just transfer them over." and they can't do that. >> lapook: dr. marilyn huestis, former chief of chemistry and drug metabolism at the national institute on drug abuse, has been studying marijuana's effects on the human body for more than 25 years. >> huestis: when you take
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alcohol, it has its effects, and then it leaves the body. when you take cannabis, it gets into the tissues of your body and is stored. >> lapook: it can be stored in the fat? >> huestis: it's stored in the fat. >> lapook: how about the brain? >> huestis: and the brain is a very fat-- fatty tissue, and so we know that it's still in the brain when you can no longer measure it in the blood. >> lapook: so far, colorado hasn't seen a huge spike in driving while high or in marijuana abuse by teens. but the data is still being collected on pot's overall impact on the state. all these issues sit on the shoulders of governor john hickenlooper, who was originally against the legalization of recreational marijuana. >> john hickenlooper: my biggest concern is that we're not collecting data. and what i've told other governors is, don't wait for the laws to change-- start collecting baseline data now. how many kids are using marijuana? start looking in accidents-- was there t.h.c. involved? so that we really have good baselines, so that, as we
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accumulate more data, if they do legalize it, we can see what the effects of legalization itself really are. >> lapook: they are already learning from some early mistakes. after a number of people overdosed on marijuana edibles, colorado implemented new rules, limiting the amount of t.h.c. in products, and requiring new labels detailing the potency of each serving. on the positive side, governor hickenlooper says last year, revenue from marijuana brought in $141 million in taxes, and he's encouraged that arrests for possession are down almost 50% since 2012. >> hickenlooper: no one can argue the old system wasn't a disaster. we had an old system where kids had open access to marijuana and everything was black market. there was no regulation. there was all illegal activity. we were creating whole generations of kids that were growing up thinking that to break the law and make money selling drugs was perfectly fine. that's what we're trying to fight against. >> lapook: is it fair to say this is tricky? >> hickenlooper: it is fair to
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say this is more than tricky. this is about the hardest, most complicated thing in public life that i've ever had to work on. >> lapook: five states have recreational marijuana on the ballot. >> hickenlooper: i know. >> lapook: what kind of advice are you giving them? >> hickenlooper: i urge caution. my recommendation has been that they should go slowly and probably wait a couple of years. and let's make sure that we get some good vertical studies to make sure that there isn't a dramatic increase in teenage usage, that there isn't a significant increase in abuse, like while driving. we don't see it yet, but the data is not perfect. and we don't have enough data yet to make that decision. >> lapook: so you're not confident yet that we really know what's going on yet to say "go ahead, legalize"? >> hickenlooper: right, not without certainty. i feel confident enough now that i'm not trying to turn the clock back. even with all the problems we have- and the challenges. i think we might be able to do this. but i'm not so confident that i'm telling the other states "yeah, go for it. this is going to be- this is a slam dunk."
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>> this cbs sports update is brought to you bid for division. i'm james brown with scores from the nfl today. tom brady threw four more touchdowns and led new england to its fourth straight win. the jets overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to down the browns. oakland wins its fifth in the road on the road as derek carr throws four scores. carolina sacked carson palmer four times. k.c. wins its third straight. for more sports news and scores, go to ♪ one smart choice leads to the next. ♪ the new 2017 ford fusion is here. it's the beauty of a well-made choice. ♪
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i served under president bush and obama. i fought the taliban. i was asked to form a global coalition to counter isil. when someone makes the comment that they know more about the islamic state or isil than do the generals, it implies a complete ignorance of the reality. but i believe secretary clinton really understands the threat that the islamic state poses to the united states and to the american people. and i believe she understands how to wield american power to ultimately defeat this threat and to keep us safe. i'm hillary clinton and i approve this message.
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i'm hillary clinton
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,,,,,, he's the drug company big shot who raised the price of a lifesaving pill by five thousand percent. said he wished he'd raised it more. prop sixty-one targets drug company price-gouging to save lives. the drug price relief act will save californians nearly a billion dollars a year. join the california nurses association and aarp and vote yes on sixty-one. the drug giants won't like it. and he'll hate it. >> cooper: something unusual happened on the way to the grammy awards this past year... an album was nominated from malawi, a small country in southern africa not exactly famous for its music. the artists weren't polished pop stars, but prisoners and guards, men and women in a place called zomba.
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a maximum security prison, so decrepit and overcrowded, we heard it referred to as "the waiting room of hell." how could such beautiful music come from such misery? we went to malawi to find out. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ this is the music that brought us to malawi, one of the least- developed nations on the planet. ♪ ♪ it's a place of staggering beauty. there's vast mountains, lush forests, and a long, idyllic lake. drive through the countryside, however, and you quickly see poverty is widespread. for the country's 17 million people, life is full of hardships. zomba is malawi's only maximum security prison, and the music
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you're hearing comes from behind these walls. ♪ ♪ this prison was built to hold around 400 inmates. today there are 2,400 here. ♪ ♪ what's so startling when you walk into the prison yard on a sunday morning, is that everywhere you turn, there is music. ♪ ♪ a cacophony of choirs. ♪ ♪ many here are hardened criminals-- robbers, rapists, murderers. others are casualties of a legal system that can be chaotic and arbitrary, where court files are routinely lost, and most suspects have no legal representation. ♪ ♪
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in a small room off the yard, there's a prison band practicing every day on donated instruments. ♪ ♪ those men in green are guards. they play side by side with inmates. ♪ ♪ ian brennan, an american producer who travels the world recording new music in unlikely places, heard about zomba, and three years ago, flew to malawi to check it out. you're taking a gamble. because-- you go to places, you don't necessarily know what's there, right-- ? >> ian brennan: no, no, no. we-- we have no idea. it's a leap of faith every single time. >> cooper: his was not the only leap of faith. officer thomas binamo took one too. he helped found the prison band eight years ago, and wasn't sure what to think, the day ian brennan showed up. >> thomas binamo ( translated ): i was quite surprised--
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( laughs ) --because i couldn't understand how this guy knew about us. and why would he be interested in our prison? >> cooper: it's not every day a white american knocks on the prison door and says he wants to come in? >> binamo ( translated ): yeah, it's true. ( laughs ) it's not every day. >> brennan: what took you so long? >> cooper: brennan saw promise in this prison, and the possibility of an album. so he set up his microphones and asked anyone interested to write and sing songs about their lives, men and women, inmates and guards. ♪ ♪ it was something most had never done before. ♪ ♪ what were you hoping to find? >> brennan: well-- you know, the thing we look for everywhere, which is, you know, music that resonates with us. this is what moves me. and hopefully it'll move someone else. >> cooper: and when you hear it, you know it. >> brennan: yeah.
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you feel it, usually. >> cooper: even if you don't understand the words right away? >> brennan: it's better when you don't understand the words. because when you don't understand the words, you have to listen to what somebody means, not what they're saying. and if they mean it. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: officer binamo was reluctant to write and sing about his life, but when he did, ian brennan knew his music would be on the album. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: just listen to what he came up with one morning when we were there-- a softly-sung ballad about the sudden death of his wife. ♪ ♪ "you left without saying goodbye," he sings. "you left behind the children, too, they no longer cry." ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> brennan: ( laughs ) he writes songs and plays as
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beautifully as someone can. he's reached that level of transcendence where it can't be better-- than it is. it just is. it's something that just hits you. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: to fully appreciate the music here, you have to see the misery. but when we arrived at zomba, authorities didn't want us to show what life is like for the prisoners. so, much of what we filmed, we had to record secretly, without the guards knowing. inmates in zomba are fed just one meal a day, a small bowl of gruel made out of cornflower. the menu, we're told, rarely changes. on good days they get a few beans; on bad days, inmates say, there's no food at all. chikondi salanje sang on the album nominated for a grammy. he's doing time for burglary. do you eat meat, chicken, beef? ( laughs ) you're laughing.
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that's not good. when was the last time you had meat? >> chikondi salanje: 2014. 25 december. >> cooper: two and a half years ago? on christmas day? >> salanje: yeah. >> cooper: it's not just the lack of food. zomba is so overcrowded, prisoners say they only have enough room in their cells to sleep wedged against one another lying on their sides. stefano nyirenda also sang on the album. so you're sleeping on your side? >> stefano nyirenda ( translated ): when you want to turn, you have to do it together. >> cooper: right next to each other? how do you sleep? >> nyirenda ( translated ): we just sleep. we have no choice. >> cooper: stefano is in for robbery, and he is h.i.v.- positive, as are around a quarter of zomba's inmates. they occasionally get visits from an italian nun, sister anna tommasi, who runs a small
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charity providing some food and legal aid to prisoners. if you were writing-- a postcard to somebody, who had never been to this prison, how would you describe it here? >> sister anna tommasi: oh. i think it's impossible for somebody outside to get-- there are no words which could explain, because-- >> cooper: what life is like here? >> sister tommasi: yes. i think, before you came, three days ago, if i had written anything, would-- do you think you could have had a clue? >> cooper: no. >> sister tommasi: sometimes, i call it, it's the waiting room of hell. >> cooper: ( laughs ) that's what this prison is like? sometimes? >> sister tommasi: yeah. >> cooper: if it is the waiting room of hell, salvation for chikondi salanje comes from music. >> salanje ( translated ): when i'm singing, i feel like i'm in another world. i don't feel like i'm in prison at all. it's only when i stop that i realize "oh, i'm still in prison." when i'm singing, i forget about everything else. >> cooper: when the music stops, that's when you realize you're in prison? >> salanje ( translated ): when we're singing, the walls are no longer there.
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but when we stop, the walls return, and then we're back to counting the bricks again. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: chikondi wouldn't have to count the bricks much longer. after five years here, he was about to get released. and when we were there, recorded a new song for ian brennan. it's about leaving prison... and his fears of life as a free man. >> cooper: "don't call me a criminal," he sings. "when i get home, they'll reject me. ♪ ♪ when something goes missing, they'll accuse me of stealing. it hurts badly when you call me a criminal." ♪ ♪ in the men's section of this prison, there are rooms where prisoners take classes taught by inmates and guards. there are also two small libraries where they pour over
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faded books, and a rundown computer room. but in the women's section, there is no library, no computers. ♪ ♪ there is little else, but music. ♪ ♪ until ian brennan came along, the women didn't have their own instruments, and they couldn't understand why he was interested in listening to their singing at all. >> brennan: they really-- were-- believed that they were not singers or songwriters. i mean, they were pretty adamant about this. and-- and just at the moment-- i-- i was getting pretty close to feeling like, "well, you know, we-- we tried--" one person stepped forward and said, "i've got a song." ♪ ♪ and then, the minute she did that, they literally lined up. ♪ ♪ >> cooper: rhoda mtemang'iombe was one of those women who stepped forward. the song she wrote for the zomba prison album is called "i am
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alone." ♪ ♪ what does that mean? rhoda mtemang'iombe ( translated ): i have no parents. i have no husband, and i'm here in prison. so i realize there's no one who can help me. so i ask god to help me. he's the only one who can guide me across this huge river. >> cooper: rhoda is serving a life sentence here in zomba. she's in for murder. do you feel like you're glorifying criminals? >> brennan: no. no, no, no. it's humanizing them-- >> cooper: humanizing-- >> brennan: --not glorifying them, at all, right? they've committed crimes. many of them have learned from their experiences. this is about humanizing individuals-- >> brennan: --and that's for the benefit, not of them; that's for the benefit of the listener. >> cooper: the album ian brennan recorded at zomba did not end up winning the grammy this past year... and it hasn't turned a profit either. brennan has paid the musicians,
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and they have a contract to receive more money if there are future earnings. when he showed up at zomba with his wife marilena in may to present the prisoners with some gifts and their grammy nomination certificate, it was cause enough for celebration, ♪ ♪ though some of the singers, like stephano nyrenda, still had questions about what a grammy award really was. >> nyrenda ( translated ): can i ask a little question? >> cooper: yeah, of course. >> nyrenda ( translated ): this trophy, does it have any money inside of it, or is it just a small prize? >> cooper: it's just a token, there's no money inside the-- inside the award. >> nyrenda: ( laughs ) ♪ ♪ >> cooper: being nominated for a grammy has not changed life for the inmates inside zomba... ♪ ♪ ...or for guards like thomas binamo, living just outside the
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prison walls. but they are still writing music, and in september, released a whole new album. ♪ ♪ it's called "i will not stop singing." ♪ ♪ inside this prison, it's the only promise they have the power to keep. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> in malawi, the road music comes with road food. for the tale, go to sponsored by phizer. ,,,,,,,,
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>> pelley: in the mail this week, we heard from viewers who found "ask ohio," last sunday's story about buckeye voters, biased. but bias-- like beauty-- can be in the eye of the beholder. >> pelley: i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week, with
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