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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 4, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: police search for a motive in the las vegas shooting that left 59 people dead, hoping for answers from the gunman's girlfriend, while president trump visits the survivors and first responders of the attack. also ahead, venezuelan president nicolas maduro, accused of being a dictator of a failing state, responds to president trump's threats of military intervention. then, can pain be managed without a prescription? we continue our "america addicted" series with a look at the new ways doctors are approaching pain. >> virtual reality is a way of moving someone to a different place, a safe place, a place they don't have pain.
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>> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems--
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skollfoundation.org. >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a presidential visit. an f.b.i. interrogation. a mystery yet to be solved. the day's headlines in the las vegas massacre. cat wise begins our coverage.
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>> reporter: the investigation proceeded today, from the las vegas strip, to the main f.b.i. building in los angeles. the las vegas gunman's girlfriend, marilou danley, was being questioned there. she flew back last night from the philippines, where she had been when stephen paddock opened fire on concert goers sunday night. danley's sisters spoke with faces obscured, to australia's channel 7, and insisted she knew nothing of paddock's plot. >> she didn't even know that she was going to the philippines until steve said, "oh, marilou, i found you a cheap ticket to the philippines." >> he sent her away. so that he can plan what he is planning without interruptions. >> reporter: meanwhile, president and mrs. trump arrived in las vegas this morning. they were greeted by local and state officials, and went first to a private meeting with survivors and their doctors. >> it makes you very proud to be an american, when you see the job that they've done, and people that would not be around
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today are up there, leaving the hospital in a week, two weeks, some cases, five weeks. it's amazing. >> reporter: mr. trump met later with police and emergency crews who answered the call sunday night. >> we struggle for the words to explain to our children on how such evil can exist, how there can be such cruelty and such suffering. but we cannot be defined by the evil that threaten us or the violence that incites such terror. we are defined by our love, our caring, and our courage. >> reporter: here, at the crime scene, the mandalay bay hotel and casino looms over the site that became a killing ground. investigators are methodically gathering evidence from the gunman's hotel room and from the grounds where a country music festival erupted in bloodshed. ( gunfire ) stephen paddock aimed a torrent of gunfire at the concert-goers for a good nine minutes, before he killed himself. >> get out of here, there's gunshots coming from over there. go that way!
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>> reporter: police body camera footage shows officers trying to get concert goers out of harm's way. >> go that way, go that way, go that way. everybody stay down. stay down. >> reporter: and among the concert-goers, more stories of sacrifice and heroism, even after being hit by bullets. >> i just felt it hit me once. that's when i said "we've got to get going," and then i ended up trying to line everyone up, and i kept telling everybody to get in front of me. and then i got hit a second time, just a couple inches apart. >> reporter: investigators now know paddock stockpiled at least 23 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his hotel room. f.b.i. special agent jill snyder says he'd been collecting guns for many years, and especially in the last 12 months. >> from october 2016 to september 28, 2017, he purchased 33 firearms, majority of them rifles. >> why is there no notification
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if someone is buying multiple rifles? >> there is no federal law requiring that. >> reporter: 12 of the rifles found in the hotel suite were outfitted with a "bump stock," allowing a gun to function like a fully-automatic rifle. in washington today, democratic senator dianne feinstein of california introduced legislation to outlaw the device. >> mr. and mrs. america, you have to stand up. you have to say, enough is enough. you have to say that there is no reason to make a semi-automatic assault weapon into a fully- automatic battlefield weapon. >> reporter: some republicans, including texas senator john cornyn, agreed today it's worth examining the issue of bump stocks. for the pbs newshour, i'm cat wise in las vegas. >> woodruff: we will look at the debate over bump stocks and remember more of the victims in las vegas, later in the program. in the day's other news, secretary of state rex tillerson denied that he almost resigned over the summer. and, vice president pence denied
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he talked him into staying. nbc news reported tillerson was close to quitting after president trump's politicized speech to the boy scouts, which tillerson once led. the secretary insisted he "never considered" leaving. he stopped short of denying another part of the report, that he called the president "a moron." >> i'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that. i mean, this is what i don't understand about washington. again, i'm not from this place. but the places i come from, we don't deal with that kind of petty nonsense. and it is intended to do nothing but divide people. i'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration. >> woodruff: later, the state department did deny that he called the president a moron. mr. trump said the entire report was "made up," and that he has "total confidence" in tillerson. nbc news said it stands by its story.
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leaders of the senate intelligence committee say the question of whether the trump campaign colluded with russia is "still open." they spoke today, about their nine-month old investigation. republican richard burr and democrat mark warner said there is no doubt that russian hackers tried to influence the 2016 election, and that they'll do it again. >> you can't walk away from this and believe that russia is not currently active in trying to create chaos in our election process. i assume that the same tactics we saw in montenegro, in france, in belgium, and in the u.s. will continue to be tested. >> woodruff: the senators said that social media companies did not take russian infiltration seriously enough at first, but are cooperating facebook has turned over more than 3,000 ads tied to russian
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interests, but the committee is not releasing the content. the white house budget chief says there won't be a federal bailout for hard-hit puerto rico. president trump suggested yesterday that the island's huge debt, more than $70 billion, will have to be wiped out. instead, budget chief mick mulvaney says that's not happening. instead, a new disaster package is going to congress. it's expected to total $29 billion, for texas, florida and puerto rico. we'll hear from the mayor of san juan, right after the news summary. this year's nobel prize in chemistry goes to scientists from the u.s., britain and switzerland, for creating finely detailed images of bio-molecules. the honorees are jacques dubochet of the university of lausanne, richard henderson of cambridge, and joachim frank of columbia university, who got the early morning call at home. >> i was very nervous, because we have this dog now and we are anxious about being woken up at around that time by the dog.
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so there was a competition between the nobel committee and the dog at that time, and all i kept saying was "this is wonderful news." i repeated myself and, you know, i wasn't very sophisticated in my response. >> woodruff: starting in the 1970s, the researchers made breakthroughs in freezing organic molecules so they could be studied by electron microscopes. the technique is being used now to develop drugs against the zika virus. online retailer giant amazon has been ordered to pay nearly $295 million in back taxes to luxembourg. the european union ruled today that the tiny nation gave amazon illegal tax benefits over an eight-year period. it said the result was to shield almost three-quarters of amazon's profits from taxes. it's the latest move in the e.u.'s crackdown to close tax loopholes. and on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained
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about 20 points to close at 22,661. the nasdaq rose three, and the s&p 500 also added three. still to come on the newshour: we talk with the mayor of san juan. las vegas reignites the gun debate. one on one with venezuela's president, whose country faces an economic meltdown. and, much more. let's turn now to puerto rico. the federal response continues to draw criticism from locals. they were only. a flied yesterday after president trump's visit to the hurricane-ravaged island. san juan mayor carmen yulin cruz has been especially outspoken, and she's personally called out by mr. trump. special correspondent monica villamizar caught up with the
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mayor this afternoon. she began by asking about mr. trump's comments about what constitutes a catastrophe. >> mr. trump had nothing to say. i think a picture speaks louder than a thousand words. and the photographs that you have seen, the horror that we have witnessed speaks for itself. yesterday was an interesting day. the meeting that we had, the second part of the meeting with white house staff i think finally put into perspective the disconnect between what they're hearing and what is actually happening, what they think should happen and what is actually taking place, and this is an important gap to be filled. so i hope that people hear reports, we have town, for example, where the mayors have not been heard of. why? because there's no
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communication. i keep asking people, 100,000 people have registered with fema, 100,000 out of 3.5 million. less than half the population has been affected. 100,000? we still have 1.5 million to go. it's of the it most important to bring in the communications. i can't believe the logistical problems. you go to the middle of the desert, put down a solar panel and there's communication, so i think that the world needs to pay more attention to puerto rico and less attention to what he says. >> do you think there is a lack of will to help the island? you said it yourself, the military can establish communication. >> from the american people there's not a will be of will. they're here. i think that what has to happen is that standard operating
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procedures have been put in place, and, you know, when you're in the habit of just listening to those that tell you that things are okay, then you are in trouble. my staff tells me when i screw up. every day, no qualms about it. i am not perfect. i do some things that are right. i do some things i could have done better. i do some things that are wrong. everything within the confines of being ethical and moral, but sometimes you have to admit it. i think general buchanan was very strong when he was looking forward and said, i don't have everything i need and this is the worst devastation i've ever seen. look, i don't know why the president keeps saying things are getting betterment let me tell you one thing that's going to get bad really soon. the water levels are depleting, so we may be running into further problems. but this is about saving lives.
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this isn't about politics. some people make it about politics because they want to change the dialogue. looking at the injustice and the suffering and the faces will have to make them admit their failures. >> we're still in a lifesaving moment. >> i know we're in a lifesaving moment, and the further you go from san juan, the white house house -- the worse it gets. so this doesn't cut it. >> why do you think, you were there, what did you feel personally in. >> i wasn't there. i wasn't there. i was at the first briefing that lasted for about 17 minutes. when the president proceeded to say that katrina really was a real disaster and went on congratulationing, because there were only 16 deaths. we are calculating lives as if they were chips. it just doesn't work that way.
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and when you don't know and when you haven't gotten everywhere, you just can't say what the total is. then he talks about the deaths. then he talks about we were injured. we have no time for politics. we have no time for the kind of discourse that's trying the change the focus from where it should be. no, we don't have all that we need. yes, there is a moral imperative to help us, to come to our aid, and, yes, this is a humanitarian crisis. the world can see it. our brothers and sisters can see it. our brothers and sisters from new york, from california, from miami beach, from boston, from chicago see it. so we're going to work with those that see it. >> do you think president trump should have flown around the island like general buchanan did to see the scope of the devastation for instance? >> if your heart isn't open, it doesn't matter where you go. >> you don't think his heart is
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open? >> it doesn't show a lot of sensitivity. he can attack me all he wants. bring it on. i'm here. as long as it gets the message out that we are thirsty, that we are hungry, that we need supplies. >> woodruff: we return to the debate over guns in the united states, a conversation taking place across the country this week, sparked by the tragedy in las vegas. last night, we spoke with senator richard blumenthal, a democrat from connecticut. and tonight, i'm joined by republican senator james lankford of oklahoma. he serves on the senate homeland security committee. senator, welcome back to the program. i know you're hearing the conversation about what the shooter used to increase the
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capacity of these weapons that he used to kill so many people, the so-called bump stocks. some republican leaders in the senate are saying they want to take a look at that. what's you view? >> i was trying the look at the whole situation. it's incredibly tragic. it's what we always say in this situation. there are so many violations for so many laws for this individual, from bringing guns into a casino and to shooting people, obviously breaking, violated so many laws. he's trying to examine, is there another law that would have fixed all of this? as i say, that we have to address the issue of bumble bee. -- bump stocks. these were approved during president obama's time. why was it approved? why has it been allowed since then? what does it accomplish? and how does that fit into our total rife of where we are as a nation that honors the settlement, as well. >> woodruff: based on what you know right now, do you think it's possible you could support banning these so-called "bump stocks"?
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>> i don't know enough to be able to answer that question or to know how it would have affected this environment. what i can say is decades ago, the united states resolved that we don't allow the private possession of automatic weapons except for a very small number of people. and while the individuals that sell the bump stocks would say this doesn't turn a weapon into an automatic weapon, it certainly turns them enter a weapon that features and acts like an automatic weapon in its firing mechanism. those are questions that have to be solved. >> woodruff: what would be the use of a bump stock? what would be the rationale reason to need that for a gun for a semi-automatic? >> it's not necessarily a need that for a gun. it is a lot in our own culture and in oklahoma and in multiple other states, people just enjoy shooting sports. they enjoy going to the range and being able to fire different types of weapons of different calibers. it's a sport as much as it is anything. so there is always a question of why do you need that for hunting. not everything is done for hunting. just like everyone who has golf clubs doesn't necessarily play
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golf all the time, sometimes they putt around in the yard. that's what they enjoy doing. we have four million people in oklahoma and eight million guns in the state. individuals like shooting sports and some hunting. what is limiting a settlement -- second amendment right or what is an issue about automatic weapons that we've resolved as a scown dry. >> woodruff: is there anything else about the shooting in las vegas that makes you rethink your support for gun laws as they exist today? >> well, one of the things that senator cornyn and aexamined years ago that we proposed the bill on is dealing with individuals that are on the terror watch list. how do we allow those individuals not to be able to purchase weapons and still have due process. so there are unresolved issues still that should be addressed. we have to be able to know the rest of the facts in this situation, to be able to determine what could have actually been an impact to be able to get this addressed that would have made a difference. again, for someone who is intent on breaking the law in so many ways, that this murderer broke
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the law, we have to figure out, was there one more that would make a difference? if so, what is that, and let's try to address it. >> woodruff: senator, as you know, there is a lot of conversation about how powerful the national rifle association and other organizations that support gun rights are in this country and in this city of washington. how much power do they have? because it's been said that i guess republicans, even democrats are afraid to go up against the gun lobby for fear they will run somebody against them or will oppose them, that it is just a power they have the way beyond what it should be. >> so i would only say that people lose track of the fact that the n.r.a. is not some random group that sits out there with a great power. there are millions upon millions of americans that agree with the perspective of the n.r.a. they're members of the n.r.a. they love shooting sports. they love recreational shooting and they know the n.r.a. represents their opinion. the power is not in the organization, it's in millions of oklahomans and for people all over the country, that's where
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they are. the same question, they're going to speak up to the n.r.a. if their perspective. n.r.a. will respond to their own members. i'm not accountable to the n.r.a. i'm accountable to almost four million oklahomans. that's my accountability. and that's where i'll look first. >> woodruff: senator, another subject i want to ask tonight in the little bit of time i have left, you're also on the senate intelligence committee. there was a news conference today about the cochair, the chair and the vice-chair of the committee, about the progress that you've made in the russia investigation, looking at the impact they had on the american elections last year. how close would you say your committee is to getting to the bottom of this? >> well, we're very close in some areas and we're undone in some others. it's what the chairman and vice chairman try to articulate today. there are some areas that are nearly closed for us. closed doesn't mean settled. we've found all the facts we'll be able to find. open means there are still some additional interviews we'll be able to do. we've done 1400 interviews. we've gone up to 100,000 pages
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of total research. we have 4,000 pages of transcripts. we still have some open areas when you interview one person, they'll mention two or three other names in that interview. that means we'll interview two or three other people to get the rest of the story. that part we still continue. as i mentioned, it's hard to be able to tell whether we're halfway, all the way, i think we're well pasted halfway personally, but you never know until you finish all the interviews and chase all the lesion down. >> woodruff: how disturbed are you by what you've learned so far? >> i'm disturbed to be able to know that the russians who have tried to interfere in so many european elections, in some in elections around russia have now used those same tactics on the united states and they still continue to be able to press. they find areas where they dispute and try to destabilize democracy while trying to raise the volume of conflict. we as americans argue about a lot of things. that's the nature of being an american, and that's entirely appropriate for us to work out their differences. when a foreign power tries to reach in and amp up the volume of our conflict. when you try the influence an
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election, that's a very, very different story. that's disheartening and that's frustrating and that's also a wake-up call to every state election board that the russian government is coming after them and they're very aen thetive to try the find some way to be able to alter their election roles or to be able to find some way to attar the way election are done there. they should pay close attention they were not successful in doing that but they were certainly probeing to try to find a way to be able to do that. it's a wake-up call. make sure they pay attention to next year. >> woodruff: senator james langford of oklahoma, we thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and we continue our look at the 59 people killed in the las vegas attack. as more stories of heroism emerge, so do clearer pictures of the victims' lives. here are 14 more. 20-year-old quinton robbins was "loved by everyone," his uncle said. when the shooting started, the nevada native got on his knees, looking for a place to hide with his girlfriend.
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he was hit in the chest. yesterday, she posted: "you got hurt trying to protect me, and i have no words. i tried so hard to help you, and i'm so, so sorry i couldn't do more." michelle vo worked at an insurance group in pasadena and, at 32, was the youngest of four siblings. she "was such an inspiration to so many of us," a co-worker said. "anytime i had a question, she would always be there." 55-year-old kurt von tillow was at the concert with several family members. "i will always remember him for his big belly laughs and smiles," one friend wrote. "from now on, every time i see a bud light, how can i not think of kurt?" andrea castilla was celebrating her 28th birthday. she was holding hands with her sister, watching the band, when they heard "duck" and the sound of gunfire. castilla's aunt said others in her group tried to rush her to the hospital, but she died upon admittance. jack beaton was a 54-year-old
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construction worker. he was at the festival with his wife, celebrating their 23rd anniverary. he shielded her with his body. "i knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally," she said, "what he did is no surprise to me." 22-year-old christiana duarte had just taken her first job, working in marketing for the los angeles kings hockey team. she was "a bright, beautiful young woman, full of life and energy," a family friend commented. adrian murfitt was a commercial fisherman in anchorage, alaska. the 35-year-old used his earnings from a successful fishing season for a trip to las vegas. "he was more than happy give himself away to his friends," a buddy remarked. "always wearing the smile only a friend wears." 52-year-old dana gardner, who was at the concert with her daughter, had worked for san
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bernardino county, california, for over two decades. her colleague said she was "known for her 'can-do' attitude and vibrant energy." 42-year-old rhonda lerocque worked at a design firm in massachusetts. she went to the festival with her husband, young daughter and father-in-law. "she set the bar really high," her mom said, "she was perfect in every sense of the word." jenny parks taught kindergarten at a school outside los angeles. her husband bobby was shot in the arm and hand, but was expected to survive. the couple were high school sweethearts and had two children. steven berger, a financial adviser from minnesota, was in las vegas for his 44th birthday. a childhood classmate said he "was one of the sweetest, happiest" guys, who "got along with pretty much everyone." 54-year-old thomas day, jr., was a big country music fan and went to the concert with his family.
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day's dad remembered his son as "just a fun-loving boy, a great family man." 28-year-old kelsey meadows taught at her alma mater, a high school in eastern california. she was "smart, compassionate and kind," noted the school's principal. "she had a sweet spirit and a love for children." and, austin davis, who was 29, was a pipe fitter from riverside, california. his mother shared the last text message she received from her son: "i kind of want to come home. i love home." >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: views on president trump's response to las vegas and puerto rico from both sides of the
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aisle. and, could pain be treated without opioids? our "america addicted" series continues. but first, the years-long economic crisis in venezuela has the nation in a steep, downward spiral. violence rocked the nation earlier this year, as president nicolas maduro pushed through controversial political changes. maduro has come in for tough criticism from president trump and some latin american leaders. through it all, rates of hunger and crime have skyrocketed. in a rare interview, maduro sat down with newshour special correspondent ryan chilcote at an energy summit today in moscow. >> president trump has upped his criticism of you and your administration since the creation of the constituent assembly. and i want to read you a quote from president trump that he made, a statement that he made at the general assembly.
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he said, "the venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing, their democratic institutions are being destroyed. the situation is completely unacceptable, and we can not stand by and watch." as far as i know, mr. president, you have not spoken with president trump. if you do, what will you say to him, and what would you say now to the american people? >> ( translated ): i would say to the u.s. people the truth, that we have always done so. venezuela wants only one thing: respect. the time of u.s. interference in the social and political life of latin america and the caribbean should be left behind. venezuela is the object of desire of ruling circles in washington for two reasons, our rich, the riches of our country. we have the largest proven reserves of oil in the world. we have growing reserves of natural gas. we are number eight in terms of gas reserves in the world. these reserves are growing. on top of oil, we are also exploring some gas deposits.
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now venezuela raised the flag of a new model of waking up the peoples on our continent. it's not just about trump because trump is reading his notes. he doesn't even know where venezuela is on the map. he doesn't even know where puerto rico is. he did not know that. he went the puerto rico and he came there during the tragedy and insulted them. these are our brothers. if you say to him, simone bolivar, he thinks that's a rocker, that's singer, he doesn't know what that is. he repeats what the pentagon writes for him. my voice will never shut up, and my voice will be loud always with or without trump. trump is rude. he's telling us he will end us. even with trump we will move forward and fight for our destiny. >> i'd like to ask you about that. president trump has not ruled out military action in venezuela. do you take that threat seriously? >> ( translated ): this is a forum on energy. [laughter] of course we can discuss other types of energy, spiritual
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energy, let's take a look at this: the president of the largest, the most powerful military power in the world has no right to joke or not be serious. the people of venezuela are rebellious people. we fight for our freedom. of course we have certain threats. venezuela has no weapons of mass destruction. we have no nuclear weapon, no strategic weapons. we have no significant armed forces and military places abroad. we are a modest country, and all of a sudden trump threatens to attack venezuela by military force. 06 course all latin american and caribbean countries oppose that. i think the u.s. will have some minimum common sense. >> venezuela has one of the largest collection of russian arms in the region. amidst this threat of intervention, you're here in moscow, will you be or are you asking president putin for military assistance and more weapons? >> ( translated ): as for this russian assistance, yes, we do have. russia supports us. thank goodness there is such a leader in the world, a true
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leader with fast-growing economy like vladimir putin. he holds high the flag of peace, dignity. >> you are asking for military assistance in other words? >> ( translated ): we have enough, what we have is enough. but at the same time, there are new arrangements that are coming up, even if we don't ask for them. rewith going to be given even more support to defend our sovereignty and our defense capability. >> according to some statistics, in 2016 around three-quarters of venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds because there's not enough food. what are you going to do to solve that problem? >> ( translated ): venezuela is still at an important position in spite of the crisis, in spite of the drop in the oil price, in spite of the domestic trade and economic war that some entrepreneurs fight against us. venezuela is investing more than 60% of its available resources in quality-based education and healthcare. 65% of students in the country receive free and good-quality
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public education. >> are you saying there is no food crisis in venezuela? >> ( translated ): i never heard this. who is saying this? venezuela is facing a global mass media campaign against us. they have been saying venezuela has so many problems, that he probably deserves an intervention, and people sad saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. let's do an intervention to get rid of his w.m.d. let's get rid of the bad guys. the caribbean stalin, let's get mr. maduro and that would be the end of the problems. this is a global campaign. >> as you know, there are concerns about the treatment of journalists. journalists have been attacked and kicked out of the country. they have been barred from coming in the country. and there are concerns, as you know, about political violence in venezuela and the question of whether there are going to be elections, presidential elections in 2018. can you give us a guarantee that journalists will be given abscess to venezuela, that there will be presidential elections
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in 2018, and that demonstrations and protesters will be treated with dignity and without violence? >> ( translated ): in april, may, june, and july of this year we had attacks from the ultraright movement. no government in the world i think would be tolerant of this type situation and risky situation. so we had to live through very difficult times. it's also coincided with the coming to power of the trump administration and the right-wing powers in the u.s. and there were some spots of violence in venezuela across the country, and those spots of violence were fueled by journalists and global mass media. the opposition of venezuela was claiming that we need intervention to stop this violence. now, if we ever had even one case of a reporter who was not allowed to come and get accreditation in the country, maybe this would have been seen as a violation of our national legislature, but this is probably because of the liable and distortions spread by such mass media.
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now from april to july, if we never had any reports in major newmans of the world about violence, maybe we would not have had such violence. >> mr. president i suspect we could go on all day. this has been a very interesting conversation, but i think we mead the wrap it up there. i would like to thank you and please thank the president of venezuela for joining us today. i thank you and thank you on behalf of pbs newshour. it's been interesting speaking with you. >> ( translated ): gracias. thank you very much. >> woodruff: national tragedies and natural disasters test a president. from las vegas to puerto rico, the trump administration has faced some of the worst in modern american history. we turn once again to karine jean-pierre, senior adviser to moveon.org, contributing editor to the online women's magazine, bustle, and a veteran of the
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obama administration. and, matt schlapp, chairman of the american conservative union, and a white house political director for president george w. bush. welcome to both of you. so presidents are in the spotlight at a time like this, matt. hurricanes, whether it's maria or the others, and now this terrible event in las vegas. the president was there today. what do we make of how he's handling this particular event? >> well, first of all, thank you for covering the stories of the victims. i think that's really important for everybody. it's important for the nation the heal. i woke up this morning and was sent a photo from a friend of mine. he happened to have very conservative politics. there are people with all kinds of politics --. >> woodruff: one of the victims? >> one of the victims. thank you for mentioning him. it's a sad story. look, i think these are moments when a president, including a president who talks in such a raw fashion like donald trump, has a chance to connect on the
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personal level with americans and with victims. and that's really the test. there is a role, it's not constitutional, but there is a role for the president to be comforter-in-chief. i thought his remarks and the way he handled things in nevada were great. and i think the way he's handled the hurricanes has been great as well. i think there are political-free zone, and i think when people try the make politics out of these moments, i think it's a mistake. >> woodruff: what about las vegas first? >> well, it was a short moment in time. it was scripted. he was given words that were very beautiful, very well delivered, but the thing is, what happens when he's off script? that's the problem we see with donald trump. on his way to donald trump he was attacking the same media that's covering all the suffering in puerto rico new york texas, in florida, and now in vegas. and so that is the problem with donald trump. when it's a moment to bring people together, it's almost as if he can't.
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he is incredibly divisive. just 24 hours ago he was in puerto rico, and he made some divisive comments. so i jst don't think he has the d.n.a. or the skill to do what needs to be done at this time. >> what about that, matt? his comment in puerto rico yesterday among others things, he said this wasn't a real ca catastrophe like hurricane katrina. >> right. these are unscripted moments and there is no question when a president speaks off the cuff, you know, it doesn't always go as exactly as planned, but i actually think when you talk to people on the ground, the people who are affected, they appreciate the respect when a president shows up, when there is this type of suffering. i think one of the reasons why there is a dissatisfaction with many people in the media with americans is they feel like they prey on these moments instead of covering the full story, and the full story each of these stops that the president made is that he talked to victims, he talked to people who were suffering. he connected to them. if you look at the social media
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and not so much the media coverage, there's a lot of positive tweets and photos and facebook posts from people who got to meet their president, and he was there to talk to them. when it comes to puerto rico, let's face it, for too many decades puerto rico has spent itself into a terrible financial situation where they owe something like $72 billion. it's a catastrophe. unfortunately much of that money was not spent on a better infrastructure. it was spent in ways where when they get a disaster like this, they're in deep, deep, deep, deep, oh, it's hard to see how we find the money to take care of everything that needs to be done on the island. >> woodruff: really -- >> really quickly, there were also signs in puerto rico saying donald trump was a bad hombre. so there was some negative stuff out there. you have 3.4 million americans who are suffering. 3% of the people on the island have electricity. where is the army core of engineers? why can't they get the electricity up? why aren't we using the billion
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dollar military mite? we're just not. why is the region cruise line the ones evacuating people? why aren't we doing that? >> there are answers to all of, that but the big question when you have a catastrophe, and we saw this with katrina as opposed to the hurricanes that hit florida, was the steady hand of jeb bush and the steady hand of governor abbott recently in texas, is that it depends a lot on the local leadership. i think the problem that we're seeing in puerto rico is that too many elected leaders tried to make this about politics. and i think there are a lot of mayors who are more responsible and realize, we have to look inward with the fact that they weren't necessarily prepared with their own infrastructure to weather something like this. we need to help them. and we need to be there for them, and we're going to have to all dig in as taxpayers and help them, but puerto rico has got to start making more responsible financial decisions. >> it starts with the president. he spent the first two weekends attacking, what, the n.f.l., he spent one weekend attacking
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them. >> i'm okay with that. >> he was on his golf resort. he didn't even talk about puerto rico the first two weekends. >> i disagree. >> he didn't. we know that twitter is a major way for him to communicate. >> woodruff: i want to ask about something else, the dispute that flared out into the open today between the secretary of state and the president. the president was chastising or i guess putting down rex tillerson this weekend, saying don't waste your energy on trying the talk to north korea, and then we get these reports from nbc news earlier today that tillerson had to be talked out of quitting this summer. >> yes. >> woodruff: where are we on this? what do we make of this relationship? >> this is the problem when you have these gossipy reports about the rapport of the president and hess team. so you had the president come out and knock the story down. you had the vice president knock this story down. >> woodruff: but there are been other reports out there about difficult relationships between the white house. >> look, i know a lot of these
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people. i prefer to focus on what we do know. i think that there are some policy concerns that tillerson might have with the president that are legitimate, and that always happens with cabinet secretaries, especially secretaries of state. the idea that somehow he was ready to quit and vice president pence intervened, vice president pence said that report is simply untrue. i know nbc stands by it, but i think when i saw the president tweets on secretary tillerson, what i saw is tillerson's trying to be the diplomat with north korea, whereas the president is clearly the hammer, and that could all be intentional. >> woodruff: we only have 40 seconds. >> i'm sorry. >> no, it's okay, look, i haven't seen a presidency this dysfunctional for a long time. you have the same cabinet secretary questioning the competency of his boss, of a president, and i think that -- >> but he denies that. >> but still, we've heard tillerson talk about the president before, after
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charlottesville, he said the president speaks for himself. that's not first time. we've heard reports about how he felt about the president's comments about the boy scouts. so this is not the only time. now tillerson is having a press conference. this is all insane. >> woodruff: comes right after the stepping down of another executive. >> can i say one thing in let's not forget the virgin islands? >> i agree with you there. let's not forget the virgin island. >> woodruff: karine jean-pierre, matt schlapp, thank you both. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: now, let's turn to our series on the opioid crisis, its enormous toll in american life, and efforts to slow the problem. we have spent the past couple of days showing some of the toll it has taken as more and more people have become hooked. tonight, as part of our weekly "leading edge" science segment, miles o'brien explores the mechanics of pain, and some possible alternatives for coping
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with it. it's part of our ongoing focus, "america addicted." >> reporter: kevin walsh is intimately familiar with pain-- excruciating pain. >> when it very first happened, it was just so intense that i'd literally, my whole body just kind of froze for a minute. >> reporter: he is talking about the day he got burned by hot grease in the commercial kitchen where he worked. >> they have a pain scale, one to 10, it was like a 15. >> reporter: the treatment protocol for burn victims is almost as painful as the injury itself. nurses repeatedly remove dressings and scrub the wounds. it's called debridement. >> and sometimes they really get in there and they'll scrub pretty hard and it gets, yeah, it gets very, very painful. >> reporter: to endure it, he takes opioids, the most effective pain treatment medicine offers. but he also does something else. while the nurses do their work, he enters "snow world," a virtual reality video game that is simple and yet engrossing.
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>> i could tell they're peeling off a bandage and i remember actually thinking in my head," you know, this should hurt a bit more." but i was focused on the game, because i was trying to shoot a penguin, and not really worrying so much about them taking my dressing off. >> reporter: kevin walsh was a patient at seattle's harborview hospital, run by u.w. medicine, a pioneer in the treatment of pain. >> virtual reality is a way of moving someone to a different place, a safe place, a place they don't have pain. >> reporter: david tauben heads the division of pain medicine. >> we underestimate the power of our brains and our minds to shape and regulate our own experiences. >> reporter: this is a place that was built on wrestling with pain in novel ways. one of its founding doctors, the late john bonica, had a previous career as professional wrestler he earned fame, fortune and a long litany of injuries.
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hobbled by arthritis, the man knew pain inside and out. >> for some 45 years, i've had to wrestle the medical profession, the public, the health agencies, in order to make them aware that pain is a very important subject for studying and for education training. >> reporter: it was the first place to treat pain as the problem, not just a symptom of something else. the approach is multidisciplinary. >> it includes psychologists, physical therapists, and a lot of non-drug providers, was based on eliminating the opioids and the sedatives that so many patients were put on. >> reporter: opioids are similar to naturally-produced chemicals that attach to nerve cells called receptors in our brains and central nervous systems. opioids affect our limbic brain, which manages emotions, giving us feelings of pleasure, relaxation and contentment. our brainstem, which controls
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unconscious activity like breathing, coughing and pain. and they attach to receptors in the spinal cord, blocking pain messages sent back to the brain. during the civil war, doctors used opioids widely on soldiers to treat pain, but many started showing symptoms of addiction. this led doctors into a century of conservatism in prescribing opioids. but then, in 1980, a letter to the editor in the "new england journal of medicine" turned that thinking on its head. the authors looked at records for nearly 40,000 hospitalized patients. although nearly 12,000 received opioids, there were only four cases of addiction. their conclusion?" the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction." it was a survey of existing databases, not a rigorous peer- reviewed study, and yet it had great influence. the pendulum swung. opioid drug prescriptions
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increased dramatically. >> the pharmaceutical manufacturers were quite happy to promote these agents. they had a big incentive to minimize the associated risks. >> reporter: the opioid push also made it harder for patients to get reimbursement for alternatives such as biofeedback and hypnosis. even though studies show half to three quarters of those who undergo hypnosis have improvement in their pain. >> how's your pain been doing? >> a little better. >> yeah. >> i've cut back on some of the opioids. >> reporter: tim clark is debilitated with intense, chronic neuropathic pain, the lasting result of contracting the guillain-barré virus five years ago. >> describe what the neuropathic pain is like for you. >> it's usually like an electrical shock. it's a sharp shooting pain. >> reporter: he regularly sees psychologist david patterson for
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hypnosis sessions like this. >> now, let that breath go and let your eyelids close. >> hypnosis is really a special learning state, and again what happens is the part of the brain, that sensory, the part of your brain that's saying, "you can't do this, it's not possible," turns off, and so you're really able to get people to a different place. >> maybe you have a thought that, "oh, i'm getting worse, i'm never going to get better," and what you're going to find is that, first of all, these thoughts are ridiculous. >> it's not this type of hands- off, bring you back to the present. it's bringing people to a similar state as when they're meditating, but being very directive with the suggestions that you give. >> reporter: tim was once extremely active, a competitive sailor with a rewarding career. his horrible pain ended all of that, and while opioids seemed like the solution for a while, they soon made matters much
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worse. >> and so, why wouldn't i be depressed? but the opioids make it worse and i get in a real funk. if i can cut back on them even a little bit, i seem to have a more positive attitude. >> reporter: he used to take three to four dilaudid pills a day, now it's more like three to four a week. this has surprised david patterson, who once thought hypnosis helped only patients with acute pain. >> now we're finding that if you train people in hypnosis over weeks, they start changing the neuro structures of their brain. so it is actually useful for chronic pain too but we're just beginning to understand that better. >> reporter: pain is essential for survival. it is nature's alarm bell, a way of protecting us from further harm. but no one really knows why pain persists long after the body has
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healed. >> acute pain is a nice warning that you need to make a change in what you're doing. chronic pain is a stuck alarm. >> reporter: i know this all too well. i deal with chronic pain that seems to emanate from a place that doesn't exist: my amputated left arm. it's called phantom pain. >> yeah. so the brain is expecting there to be a hand and it's filling in the blanks. >> reporter: hunter hoffman is director of the virtual reality research center and the creator of "snow world." he says phantom pain is called" top down," meaning it's in the head. >> your phantom limb is an excellent example of your brain's expectations and predictions, even in the absence of physical limb there. >> reporter: chronic pain is usually "top down."
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hoffman designed "snow world" with "bottom up," acute pain sufferers like kevin walsh in mind. to demonstrate it, he inflicted some pain on me, with a thermal stimulator, an adjustable heater. >> one more, or you want to go up half a degree? you can go up half degree if you don't want to go-- >> reporter: let's do a full degree and see how that feels. >> all right. is that comfortable? i can adjust it. >> reporter: yeah, it's pretty good. >> all right. and here, we'll put on your earphones. >> reporter: while i was intent on hurling snowballs at penguins, i didn't feel the heat at all. and on top of that, i did not feel any phantom pain. it apparently addresses pain both coming and going from the brain. this got hunter's attention. >> well, what we showed was it helped reduce your chronic pain. that was actually i think the first demonstration of that. that was the first demonstration. >> reporter: we just bleeding edge science, huh? >> exactly.
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>> reporter: pain needs an audience, and the better we get at focusing on other things, the more we can manage it, without turning to narcotic drugs. in seattle, i'm miles o'brien for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: tomorrow, our series continues, with a look at how the opioid crisis has hurt the nation's workforce. and online, leaving old unused pain medication in the bathroom cupboard increases the likelihood of it being ingested by children or pets. how do you safely get rid of it? find a doctor's advice, and more stories from our series, at www.pbs.org/newshour. and tune in tonight. on "frontline," an inside look at the hermit kingdom. "north korea's deadly dictator" follows the rise of kim jong-un and his hold on power, and focuses on the mysterious assassination of his half-brother earlier this year in a malaysian airport. and, a news update before we go:
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the girlfriend of the man suspected of killing 59 people in monday's las vegas massacre has issued her first public statement. marilou danley says steven paddock bought her a ticket to the phillippines two weeks before the shooting, and once there, he wired her money. her lawyer read her statement this evening: >> i was worried that the unexpected trip home and the money was a way of breaking up with me. it never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone. >> woodruff: from the girlfriend. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and
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good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the wellbeing of humanity around the world, by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at www.rockefellerfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> you're watching pbs.
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>> you're watching pbs. >> pati: every now and then, you meet someone who has that special something. imagine being born in a tiny town in one of the poorest states in mexico. preserving your traditions and following your passions to become one of oaxaca's most acclaimed chiefs. known, practically, throughout the world. her name is abigail mandoza and i have come a long way to work with her. >> abigail: laughter >> pati: in my kitchen >> oh hoo a roasted oaxacan chicken with oregano and garlic. a delightful corn salad. and a dramatic burnt milk ice cream topped with animal crackers. because we are all about contrasts today and drama from the most common beginnings, this episode delivers the unexpected.

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