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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  September 23, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, september 23: an american military show of force amid a war of words between the united states and north korea; puerto rico, powerless and growing concerns that a massive dam will break and flood thousands of homes; and in our signature segment, the most powerful woman in the world, seeking four more years. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.b.p. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill.
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barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. today, the united states air force sent planes into e pentagon says the b-1 just bombers from guam, along with f-15 fighter jets based in okinawa, japan, went farther north of the korean peninsula's demilitarized zone than any u.s. aircraft this century. the show of force follows president trump's comments last night, telling an audience in alabama the u.s. is protected from any threats north korea
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poses. at the rally, mr. trump also suggested the obama, clinton and both bush administrations failed to contain north korean weapons programs. >> we can't have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place. and by the way, "rocket man" should have been handled a long time ago. ( cheers and applause ) this should have been handled eight years ago and four years ago, and honestly... and 15 years ago and 20 years ago, 25 years ago. this shouldn't be handled now. but i'm going to handle it because we have to handle it. >> sreenivasan: today, at the united nations, north korea's foreign minister said president trump is on a "suicide mission"" >> ( translated ): a person like trump-- a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacence, the person who is chastised even by the american people as a commander-in-grief, lying king, president evil-- is
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holding the seat of the u.s. presidency. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. territory of puerto rico, severely battered by hurricane maria, is now bracing for what could be an epic flood. the 88-year-old guajataca dam in northwest puerto rico holds back a reservoir swollen by more than a foot of rain dumped by maria earlier this week. starting yesterday, authorities rushed to evacuate the 70,000 people who live in a valley below the dam, warning that thousands of lives could be in danger. conditions are already grim on the island that 3.5 million u.s. citizens call home. most of the island has no power, and it could stay that way for months. 85% of phone, cell phone and internet service is knocked out, and officials say they have not been able to communicate with more than half of puerto rico's 78 municipalities. for more on the dire situation in puerto rico, i'm joined via skype by jessica rios viner, a reporter with the newspaper "el nuevo dia."
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what's it been like for the past 24, 48 hours. you're in a place that has power. your newspaper offices, but just describe the scene. >> okay, well, right now, i'm in the metropolitan area. that's where most of the communication is flowing. we're very-- it's very, very hard to reach the people that are around the coast of the island and on the mountains. we have a generator here, but we're having trouble with the connections. some of the communication towers fell, and there's almost no communication to the island. there have been many areas where the they haven't been able to go to see how they are because the streets are blocked with lamb posts, electric posts, just branches, trees. >> sreenivasan: how significant is the flooding that you've been able to see, given that you're expecting even more rain over the weekend?
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>> yeah, well, we have areas ars that had to be completely evacuated. we have a problem with the dam at guatajaca that's about to break, and all that area is going to be flooded. >> sreenivasan: the citizens preparing for a long slog through this. i mean, given that we've seen report afterring report saying it could be a very long time before power is restored throughout the island. you're already in economic straits. you don't have the infrastructure to be able to clear the trees and mobilize government resources. >> i don't think anyone was prepared for this. i mean, i-- there's just-- there are areas where they're saying it could take a year because they have to rebuild everything, that it could take a year to get some power. water, we had no water on the whole island, but now they just said 20%, 25% are getting their water back because they put the dams on generators.
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>> sreenivasan: you know, i realize this is home for you, this is home for 3.5 million americans butta this point are people trying to figure out how to move their lives somewhere else, perhaps to the mainland? >> there are people that are considering, you know, moving. but there's also-- i mean, you know there's always the bad thing, people that are robbing stuff, but there's also a unity in the community where people are helping each other, you know, clear the streets, you know, people lending phones so that other people can communicate with their family members. >> sreenivasan: all right, jessica rios viner, a difficult job, a reporter with the newspaper "el nuevo dia." thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> sreenivasan: this morning, mexico experienced its third strong earthquake this month. it was magnitude 6.1 and centered in the state of oaxaca. four days ago, mexico city experienced a major 7.1 quake that killed more than 300 people and collapsed hundreds of buildings. but emergency responders there are still looking for survivors amidst the rubble.
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two weeks ago, a giant 8.1 quake killed 90 people. that quake was also centered in the southern portion of the country. president trump is expressing confidence he can flip enough republican votes from "no" to" yes" to pass the latest senate bill to repeal and replace president obama's affordable care act. today, the president said on twitter he knows kentucky senator rand paul, and "he may find a way to get there for the good of the party." paul is one of two republican senators to publicly oppose the bill sponsored by bill cassidy and lindsey graham. another is arizona's john mccain. today, the president calling mccain's opposition "sad." maine republican susan collins says she's "leaning no." republicans have only a two-seat senate majority, and no democrats are for the bill. the bill has its first public committee hearing on monday and could come up for a floor vote next week. the n.f.l.'s commissioner and players association are criticizing president trump's foray into the conduct of pro football players. today on twitter, and during his alabama rally last night, where he used derogatory language, mr.
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trump said n.f.l. owners should cut players who make millions of dollars and refuse to stand during the national anthem. >> wouldn't you love to see one of these n.f.l. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "get that son of a bitch off the field right now. out. he's fired. he's fired." >> sreenivasan: n.f.l. commissioner roger goodell said today: quarterback colin kaepernick, who took a knee on several occasions to protest police brutality against african- americans, already finds himself without a job this season. players union chief demaurice smith defended peaceful demonstrations by players, saying: president trump also said the n.f.l.'s tougher penalties for blows to the head and hitting defenseless players are, in his words, "ruining the game."
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at a new art exhibit in new york, designers re-imagine the constitution's bill of rights. read more at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: tomorrow, germany holds national elections, and, after 12 years in office, chancellor angela merkel is seeking a fourth term. merkel is the dominant political figure in europe, and recent polls show her center-right christian democratic union party comfortably ahead. but germans are closely watching whether merkel's most vocal opponents from an anti-immigrant populist party can win enough votes to earn seats in germany's parliament. in tonight's signature segment, newshour weekend special correspondent christopher livesay reports from germany on merkel's record and prospects for re-election. >> reporter: pinneberg, a suburb of hamburg in northwestern germany, is a bellwether town, having voted for the winning party in every german national election since 1953. michael von abercron is a
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candidate for pinneberg's seat in parliament for the christian democratic union, the center-right party headed by chancellor angela merkel. it's riding a wave of economic prosperity in germany and a popular feeling that merkel offers stability in an uncertain world. >> my party is in front now. i'm sure the chancellor, angela merkel, will win this election. >> reporter: merkel manages the biggest economy in europe. with a budget surplus for five straight years and record low unemployment, a recent poll found 64% of german voters approve of the job she's doing. talking to people on the subway in germany's capital, berlin, we found plenty of support for the chancellor. >> ( translated ):she has been good for germans. i like her very much. over the course of the years, i think it's very good what she has done. >> she's more of a conservative, but she often made the... made the right choice, i think. >> but for the country, in general, i think she made the right choices. >> reporter: her choice in
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2015, to admit more than a million migrants and refugees from the middle east and africa, has defined this election. >> she thought at this particular time it was a humanitarian responsibility. >> reporter: reuters' berlin correspondent, andreas rinke, has covered merkel since she was first elected chancellor in 2005 and has written the book, "the merkel lexikon." he says merkel wanted to preserve the european union principle of open borders, which lets 400 million citizens of 26 countries travel freely across borders, an agreement signed in schangen, luxembourg, in 1985. >> she was convinced that if she starts building a new... not a wall but preventing people from crossing from austria to germany, that the whole schengen area would collapse. and the schengen area is together, with the euro, one of the two pillars of the european integration. >> reporter: that must have been a big risk for her as a politician? >> it was at that time, but she
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thought that sometimes you have to take risks as a politician. >> reporter: leading the charge against merkel's handling of the refugee flow has been the populist far right party, alternative for germany, or a.f.d., founded only in 2013. its campaign posters are distinctly anti-immigrant. one depicts what looks like vultures sitting on a gate and says: "a social state needs boundaries!" another shows a pregnant white woman and says, "new germans? we must make them ourselves." earlier this month, party co-founder alexander gauland said germans "should be proud of the achievements of german soldiers in two world wars," including the nazi era. after riding a refugee backlash to surge in popularity, support for the party faded, as was the case with anti-immigrant, anti-e.u. parties in the netherlands and france earlier this year. the a.f.d., how do you feel about that party? >> ( translated ): i'm
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absolutely against the right wing. we have a history that should not repeat itself. i'm german, and i'm proud to be a german, but i don't agree with the party's program. >> reporter: in the german system, people don't vote directly for chancellor. if merkel's party retains a majority in the bundestag, the german parliament, she'll remain the nation's head of state. merkel's main rival for chancellor is the leader of the center-left social democratic party, martin schulz, the party that was in power before merkel took office. schulz is campaigning on a platform that includes free education, more affordable rent and equal pay for women. >> ( translated ): i'm making it very clear to you, it will be one of the first decisions of the social democratic-run government of germany. the same wages for the same work at the same location for men and women, and we won't rest until we achieve it! >> reporter: also a member of the social democratic party, tim renner is a candidate for parliament in berlin. he blames merkel for the rise of the right by not tackling the
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immigration crisis sooner. >> due to the fact that merkel did it the way she did it, she opened pretty much space for the a.f.d. >> reporter: so, she's partially responsible for the rise of populist right wing politics in germany? >> not willingly but unwillingly she helped them to grow. because there was for sure a situation where, due to the fact she didn't react beforehand, you had got the feeling it's kind of out of control. and that was a momentum that a.f.d. used for themselves, big way. >> reporter: germany has spent more than $30 billion on the recent refugees, giving them housing subsidies and monthly stipends for expenses. in pinneberg, we met some syrian migrants getting help at a community center. this family, from aleppo, was trying out a new bike. they've been in germany six months and have learned to speak some german. >> do you like living here in germany? >> ( translated ): yes, for sure.
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>> reporter: the family still must apply for asylum to stay legally. but merkel has refused refugees the right to bring over other family members. frustrated, and with difficulties assimilating, around 200,000 of the new arrivals have left germany. >> i think the main issue is that they left their wife and children in their countries. so, most of them, the mens went first in the expectation that they could take their families afterwards. and that... this doesn't work. >> reporter: the policy is scheduled for review in the coming months. in a recent debate, merkel promised voters she'd continue it. >> she denies the right of the people just to keep the far right calm and to win the election. >> reporter: while polls predict a win for merkel and second place for schulz, all eyes are on third place and the a.f.d. it's been polling around 10%,
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and any party that wins 5% of the vote is eligible for seats in the german parliament. this is the first time a far right party might actually enter parliament since world war ii. what does this say about this time in history for germany? >> well, it says that we are like other countries, as well, because more or less all european countries have seen this influx of right wing parties. but i think it's important to understand for the german election that regardless how many percentage points they get-- 5%, 8% or 15%-- they won't be part of any german government. it's a political consensus among all the other parties that you don't form a coalition with the a.f.d. >> reporter: andreas rinke says merkel's case for a fourth term rests on her leadership of the european union at a tme when the u.k. is withdrawing from the e.u. and american leadership of the west is in doubt on issues ranging from battling climate change to standing up to russia. >> i noticed since i accompany
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her on her foreign trips that in china, in the u.s., in the gulf states, they all said, "you are the one responsible for the euro. you are responsible for fixing europe." >> reporter: at 63, merkel has worked with three very different american presidents-- george w. bush, barack obama, and now donald trump. >> with bush, it was fairly close. she liked him. but this relationship got her a lot of problems because he was not very well seen in germany because of the iraq war. a large part of the german population was against it, but she defended him. with obama, it was fairly rough relationship at the beginning. he was coming from a different political background. it took them a few years before they actually had a closer relationship, and, in the end, obviously it was one of admiration maybe on both sides. >> reporter: what's her relationship like with donald trump? >> he's in office now for half a year, slightly more.
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that's not a lot of time. but she sees it in a very pragmatic terms. maybe they come up with really close cooperations on some parts, and maybe they still disagree on other issues like climate change-- which is very important for her-- and other parts. but that doesn't mean that they can't form a personal relationship, as different as they are. >> reporter: while merkel has differed with president trump on the iran nuclear deal, she's pledged to work together on expanding sanctions on north korea and increasing german military spending for the nato alliance, which she'll have a chance to do if she wins another four-year term. >> sreenivasan: almost all 18,000 police departments across the u.s. issue officers tasers, or stun guns, which are meant to be a non-lethal weapon to help
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police subdue suspects. but tasers have proved controversial partly because, when misused, they can result in death. in a five-part series of original reporting, digging through court documents, police reports and public records, reuters has documented more than 1,000 incidents since the year 2000 when people died after police fired tasers at them. peter eisler is one of the authors of the series and joins me now from washington. peter, i know these are the first five parts. the series isn't over. you're still working on this. but for someone who maybe hasn't seen any of these series, what are you trying to show? >> well, we set out to sort of look at this question of how many people were dying after they were stunned with tasers and what the litigation burden was associated with these deaths. so it turned out that there were more deaths, considerably more deaths associated with these things than we had expected, and much more litigation around them than we had thought, and a significant financial burden for
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the public. >> sreenivasan: is there something faulty with the devices? why are people dying? what happens in the body when someone gets tased? >> you can't really assess their safety without sort of very broad, scientifically controlled studies, and it's difficult to do these studies on the populations that are considered to be most sensitive to these devices-- people with bad hearts, people who are suffering through mental health crises. >> sreenivasan: so what have the scientists found when it comes to how-- for example, you have one story, just about how this affects the heart? >> so, the weapons themselves are not regulated, not as they're sold to police. you know, they're not a medical device. they're not regulated by the f.d.a. they're not a consumer product, so they're not regulated by the consumer product safety commission. so taser itself has done a lot of the-- did a lot of the early testing on these devices, and one of the things that we found was that those tests were not necessarily as thorough or as solid as taser may have led police to believe.
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as time went on and more and more research was done on them, more independent study was done, there were connections drawn, in some cases, between taser shots-- particularly long-duration or multiple shots with the taser-- and the ability of the weapon to what's called capture the heartbeat, which is to change the rhythm of the heart in a way that could lead to a fatal cardiac arrest. >> sreenivasan: what do they say in response to your reporting? >> well, certainly, tasers are designed in part as an alternative to firearms which are, you know, expected to be lethal. and taser says that these weapons have been studied, and that they're overwhelmingly safe. taser's position is that the risks to the heart are more theoretical. the company does not concede that there has ever been a death-- a cardiac-related death directly atribitable to a taser. what we did was we looked at as many autopsy reports as we could collect on the 1,000-plus cases
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we identified, and we ended up getting around 750 autopsies. and we found that in at least 150-plus of those autopsies, the medical examiner, the coroner, attributed the death either in whole or in part to the taser, or lested the taser as a contributing factor at death. >> sreenivasan: and what about the police departments out there that have these tasers? it's not just one gun. it's self models of these weapons. >> the weapon has evolve over time. the newer ones taser says are safer than earlier generations of the weapon. police departments, as you said, the overwhelming majority of police departments in the country have these things. what we have started to see in recent years is police departments beginning to refine their policies and kind of close the window of when they tell officers that it is acceptable to use one of these things. >> sreenivasan: all right, peter eisler of reuters, thanks
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so much. >> thank you very much. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: now to "viewers like you," your chance to comment on the stories you've seen here on pbs newshour weekend. last weekend, we brought you a story from the japanese island of okinawa, where there's been a continuing call from residents to have some 30,000 u.s. military troops leave amid concerns about noise, crime and making the island a target for north korean aggression. afshin dey wrote: david schneider countered: caira spenrath, who lives off- base on the island said:
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fed up redhead noted: jaime criticized the japanese government: and there was this from superduty: as always, we welcome your comments at www.pbs.org/newshour, on our facebook page, or on twitter
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@newshour. >> sreenivasan: finally, the nba champion golden state warriors have decided not to visit the white house, saying president trump has made it clear they're no longer invited. yesterday, on espn, warriors' star steph curry said he opposed the visit. today, president trump said on twitter, because of curry's hesitation, the invitation was withdrawn. instead, the team says it will visit washington, d.c., to" celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion." nba superstar lebron james supported curry, saying on twitter to the president: that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. thanks for watching. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz.
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the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. be more.
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nd memory" has been provided by... man: we felt a powerful drive to save something that made sense and would have meaning to people now and a hundred years from now. second man: i was thrown into time and history. and i just... i followed my heart, and i felt like i got to do something for people to remember. i wanted people to remember. third man: i guess it's like when your own home is on fire. you're going to rush in to try and save some of the things that mean most to you. fourth man: our job is to collect and interpret and preserve objects related to the history of new york city, region, and state, and in some ways nation.

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