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Authorities Scramble after White House Bomb Threat; Trump Aides Had Contact with Russia; U.S. Secretary of State Meets with Chinese President; Rock Legend Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Famine Threatens Multiple African States; Millions of Children Living as Refugees; March Madness Consumes Basketball Fans. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 19, 2017 - 04:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A bomb threat at the White House late Saturday night. A suspect is in custody. We have a live report ahead from Washington.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also, claims of Russian meddling in the U.S. election will be front and center at a House Intelligence hearing on Monday. What we can expect and the reaction live from Moscow.

HOWELL (voice-over): Plus, he was a genuine rock 'n' roll legend. Saying goodbye to another of music's greatest icons.

From CNN headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen.

Still can't believe Chuck Berry is gone. He's been with us forever.

HOWELL: I know.

ALLEN: CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It is 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. We begin this hour with a developing story in Washington. There has been another security scare at the White House, this time involving a bomb threat.

ALLEN: Officials tell CNN a man drove up to the White House in this vehicle late Saturday night. He told a guard there he had a bomb.

Did he?

For the latest, CNN's Ryan Nobles has been covering this story for us for several hours. He joins us now live from Washington.

Ryan, tell us, what's the latest?

Where is this person? And was there a bomb?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, it appears there was not a bomb here at the White House tonight but this was after a painstaking process by Secret Service agents and a bomb squad that began, as you said, just after 11 o'clock tonight.

After that suspect drove up to a guardpost on the east side of the White House by the Treasury Department and told the security guard working at that checkpoint that he had a bomb, that started a methodical process by Secret Service agents and bomb technicians to make sure there wasn't something dangerous in that vehicle.

At one point, they brought a robot in to pull items out from the trunk of the car and they brought a bomb tech in in full bomb gear to go through those items. It took more than four hours before they finally cleared the area. And just in the last 40 minutes or so, that's when they re-opened the roads in and around the White House.

And things are getting back to normal here. But it's clear that, even though this threat has passed, that the Secret Service was taking this very seriously. They were not going to take any chances with this vehicle.

At one point throughout the evening, we noticed that the vehicle remained in -- turned on with its engine running as they continued the process of trying to figure out exactly what this situation was. But as it stands right now, everything clear here in Washington -- Natalie.

HOWELL: Ryan Nobles live there.

Ryan, just to let our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world understand, the President of the United States not presently there at the White House, correct?

NOBLES: Yes, that's right, George. He is at his southern estate, Mar-a-lago, so he was not here at the White House, in any danger at any point. But it's worth pointing out that this is the third security incident that's taken place here at the White House in just the last seven days, including one where a man jumped over the fence and was on the White House grounds for more than 16 minutes getting all the way up to the South Portico entrance.

So certainly you can expect a debate to crop up once again about security in and around the White House in Washington.

HOWELL: Ryan Nobles has been here on the story for the last several hours, giving us the information again, that this has been the third White House security scare in just over a week. Ryan, thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Monday marks one of the most crucial days yet for the new Trump administration. FBI director James Comey set to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee. The focus: possible Russian meddling in last year's election. Lawmakers will be especially interested in whether the FBI found any

Russian connections with the Trump campaign.

Let's get some perspective on Monday's hearing with Scott Lucas to talk about some others goings-on with the Trump administration. He's a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England and a frequent guest of ours.

Hi, there, Scott. Thanks for being with us. I want to first talk about the Russia hacking scandal. Finally, there may be some telling moments. There may be something coming from Director Comey.

How forthcoming do you think he could be?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, I think this will just be the opening scene in the drama. Remember that Comey, you know, is a serving public official who happens to be working with the attorney general, Jeff sessions who's a Trump loyalist, has to be very careful in how he frames this.

While I think there is clear substance to the allegations, both of Russian interference in the election and of Russian contacts with Trump officials, substance does not mean proof. And so Comey, I don't think, can --


LUCAS: -- come in and fire all guns and say this is definitive.

Instead, I think he'll probably say we're investigating these claims. They deserve a full investigation and let us do our job because, after all, the past week has been marked not by this Russia-Trump issue but, let's be honest, the president's attempt to deflect from this with the unsubstantiated wiretapping allegations against President Obama and British intelligence services.

ALLEN: Do you think that's why he continues to stay on that story and maintain there's something to it, even though no one has come to back him up on that?

LUCAS: I think there's a mix of reasons. I think the Trump administration -- and by that I mean the advisors around Trump -- do try to put up the diversion, the distraction, the yelling of "fake news" throughout this investigation of Russia and Trump's associates.

But at the same time you have a president that simply speaks or tweets off the top of his head. So I don't necessarily think it's a diversion. It's even more worrying; I think he still thinks, despite the fact there's no evidence, that it's true, that people spied on him, spied on Trump Tower and that he's the victim rather than the possible aggressor in this story.

ALLEN: This is a telling moment, as we said, for this Trump administration. And there have been others. Look what happened this week, more pushback on the travel ban. Certainly Donald Trump, you know, hurting some areas of the country and beyond with his severe budget cuts. And now we have this.

What do you think will be the prevailing issue that comes out of this week with so many huge issues on the table?

LUCAS: Let's talk smoke and let's talk fire. I mean, the Russia- Trump links are smoke. They're serious smoke that I think will continue for some time to come.

But the fire really, I think, comes to the question of whether the administration can legislate. And we've got three major examples this week of where there are problems.

The first is that the attempt to push through executive orders like the -- let's call it what it is -- the Muslim ban on entry into the U.S. continues to face appropriate judicial fight back.

And that, in turn, means that the administration faces problems on its legislation, such as trying to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Already we're seeing Republican senators start to peel away from supporting this in the upper house, even if it makes it through the House of Representatives. So I think that means we're not just talking about a long time for this to succeed, that it will be a long time before it possibly fails.

And that, in turn, means that the budget and the Trump tax cuts may well be held up.

This budget, which is a sweeping attack on the poor, on the elderly, on environment, on diplomacy, on development, I could go on and on. But the fact is that you only pass a budget when you appear to be in control and have authority.

And the Russia story, the travel ban story and the ObamaCare story all point to an administration that is not necessarily in control.

ALLEN: Scott Lucas, we thank you for your insights. Thanks for joining us.

LUCAS: Thank you.

ALLEN: Now to George.

HOWELL: All right, now how is all of this viewed in Moscow?

Let's bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian, live in the Russian capital, following the story as well.

Clare, good to have you with us. I'm sure you just heard Natalie's story about the FBI director's testimony that's due Monday. All eyes will be on what he has to say or what he doesn't have to say.

But in Moscow is there any anticipation about what's to come?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, publicly, George, the Kremlin is saying that they are very busy with their own work and are not paying attention to this hearing.

The Kremlin spokesman told us that he doesn't expect to hear anything new, rather colorfully calling this, "a broken record with futuristic songs," making the point there that these accusations against Russia keep coming, despite Russia's repeated denials that there was any meddling by Russia in the U.S. election and their insistence that any contacts between Russian officials and the then Trump campaign, now Trump administration, were anything more than the normal course of day-to-day diplomacy.

But I think it's fair to say when you have the FBI director testifying about under oath on Capitol Hill about an investigation into Russia, that Russia will certainly be watching closely.

You know, this isn't just a potentially awkward moment for the Trump administration; this could be awkward for Russia, depending, of course, on what comes out.

Don't forget the first two months of the Trump presidency we've gone from higher hopes that this could be a improved relationship with U.S. under Trump to a realization now that Russia is perhaps Trump's biggest Achilles heel.

And I think that's why you see this kind of offhand dismissal from the Kremlin that we just heard and also the fact that there's been a marked reduction here in Russia of the amount of media coverage of the Trump administration. They are trying very hard to distance themselves from this -- George.

HOWELL: You know --


HOWELL: -- on this side of the pond there are certainly a lot of bogus claims; there are conspiracy theories that we here in the media continue to sift and sort through but the one story that will not go away, these questions about Russia.

The questions about whether there were ties between the Trump campaign and administration to Russia.

How does this play into the president's initial suggestion that he wants warmer relations with Russia?

Are Russian leaders still as optimistic, is the question?

SEBASTIAN: Absolutely not, George. I think there's been several turning points in the last two months in terms of how Russia views the potential relationship with the U.S.. First we saw that very first phone call between Presidents Putin and Trump, where there was no mention of sanctions as Russia had originally hoped.

Then we saw the rhetoric ramping up in Washington about Russia's actions in Ukraine; U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley saying that sanctions would not be lifted until Crimea was returned. That of course a closed issue here in Russia. And of course the departure, the sacking of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was very much an uncomfortable moment here in Moscow. He was seen as a friendly voice within the Trump administration towards Russia.

And that certainly cemented the view that the stylens (ph) of the Trump administration towards Russia was very much hardening.

The Kremlin has told us that they never had any major expectations, any, what they called rose-colored spectacles when it came to that relationship but I think certainly in political circles that has been a sense of disappointment and a resignation perhaps that things could be going back to the difficult relationship that they experienced under former President Obama.

So that is currently the situation. They are very much holding back, trying to keep a lid on any news surrounding Russian links with the Trump administration or Russian meddling. But still lowered expectations definitely about how this relationship will progress.

HOWELL: Clare Sebastian, live for us in Moscow. Clare, thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: There are developments from North Korea. The nation is claiming they have made a breakthrough in their rocket development. Reports on state media say leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the successful test of a powerful new rocket engine. That technology could help North Korea launch a satellite or a long-range missile.

Meantime, U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson finished his trip to Asia meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. CNN's Will Ripley is in Beijing.

The timing of this test, Will, interesting, seeing that the new U.S. secretary of state was in the region.

And who knows what was said about the threat from North Korea?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And you can never read the mind of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, but it does seem awfully coincidental that this high-thrust rocket engine was tested at the same time that Secretary Tillerson was in Beijing, meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

China is North Korea's only meaningful trading partner and the U.S. believes that China, out of any country in the world, has the most leverage over North Korea. So it has to be irritating for the Communist Party leaders here to see these provocative actions by North Korea, especially at a time that they're still trying to get a handle on the Trump administration and how far President Trump is willing to go when it comes to the North Korean nuclear threat.

Secretary Tillerson was here, essentially conveying to China that the U.S. feels they need to do more, trying to figure out how far China would be willing to go to penalize North Korea, at the same time making statements numerous times during the Asia trip, which has now wrapped up and the secretary's on his way back to the States.

But they said numerous times that no option is off the table, including a military response. Beijing certainly would not want to see that happen. They think it's on the shoulders of the United States to rein in North Korea by stopping those military exercises that are going on with South Korea.

So the two sides are pretty far apart right now. We expect that there will be a meeting between President Xi and President Trump in the United States sometime next month. And this will certainly be the number one issue, along with many others that they'll be trying to hammer out during that meeting that we expect to happen.

ALLEN: Certainly, because Kim Jong-un just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing. It's crystal clear he wants this development and he wants to be a major player in this technology.

You've been there several times, Will, and you've seen this firsthand.

What is the significance of this new rocket test?

RIPLEY: Well, what we believe and what North Korean state media is alluding to is that this just brings them one step closer to getting that ICBM, a missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the United States.

We know that that is North Korea's goal. They've said that it is their goal. And analysts believe that the country is making disturbingly rapid progress towards reaching that goal. They could have a weapon like this possibly within the next couple of years, which is very alarming for --


RIPLEY: -- the United States because now North Korea goes and Secretary Tillerson has said it goes from being a regional threat to South Korea, where there are 28,000 U.S. troops, millions of people in harm's way; Japan, more than 50,000 U.S. troops, also millions of people in harm's way; to now potentially a global threat with a weapon like this.

ALLEN: Will Ripley, covering it for us there from Beijing. Will, thank you so much.

HOWELL: Natalie, at the top of the show, you've talked about this year how the world has lost another great, the father of rock 'n' roll, Chuck Berry has died at the age of 90 years old.


HOWELL (voice-over): Berry's six-decade career included hits like "Sweet Little 16", "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music."

ALLEN: He was rock 'n' roll, wasn't he?

HOWELL: Absolutely. ALLEN: Nischelle Turner has more on the life and the legacy of this rock 'n' roll legend.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock 'n' roll. His powerful guitar licks fueled hit songs such as "Johnny B. Goode" "Maybellene" and "Roll Over Beethoven."

During the '50s and '60s, Berry's music signaled a new era in rock 'n' roll. The singer's owes ability to seamlessly blend R&B and rock music made a strong impact on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to name a few.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played.

TURNER: Berry experienced a career resurgence in the mid-'80s and '90s. His music re-entered pop culture in films such as "Back to the Future" and "Pulp Fiction." In 1984, Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a year later, he became the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's first inductee.


CHUCK BERRY, ROCK LEGEND: God Almighty. God Almighty, thank you.

TURNER: On the heels of his induction, the Stones' Keith Richards invited a roster of great musicians to celebrate the rock icon's 60th birthday and then in 1987, Berry was humbled to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

BERRY: I cannot describe, I don't have the voice, I don't have the wind, I don't have the spirit, but believe me, I'll remember it the rest of my life.

TURNER: The married father of four repeatedly had trouble with the law. He was behind bars three times for charges ranging from attempted robbery to tax evasion and convicted of transporting an underage girl across state lines. However, Berry's career was not derailed.

BERRY: That margin of glory is not too high. That margin of defeat then is also not too low. So I lived right through it without any pain.

TURNER: Berry received the Kennedy Center Honor Award in 2000 and continued to perform well into his 80s. His remarkable contributions to music will forever remain a part of rock 'n' roll history.






ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Somalia is calling for a full investigation after a deadly attack on a boat packed with refugees. The U.N. says at least 42 people were killed, dozens others injured in Friday's attack off Yemen's coast.

HOWELL: Many of the victims were from Somalia. The International Organization for Migration says it's not clear exactly what happened. Some witnesses say that a helicopter opened fire. Others, though, say a motorized military vessel was responsible for it.

ALLEN: It is the worst humanitarian disaster in decades, a famine that could kill millions and it involves Somalia. That country ravaged with so many problems.

The U.N. is warning that people in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya could starve to death without immediate help. In South Sudan, more than 40 percent of the population is at risk.

HOWELL: Continued violence, the severe drought, those things have devastated resources, leading to a crippling famine there.

ALLEN: For a closer look at this world crisis, we're joined by Jeremy Cole. He's here with us on the set right now. He's managing director for the southeast region at UNICEF USA, which just had a very successful fundraiser but a drop in the bucket when you consider the need.

JEREMY COLE, UNICEF USA: Every dollar makes a difference.

HOWELL: You know, so many people are, you know, heeding the call. Let's take a look at some of the images. We saw some of these a moment ago. Just the images from Sudan, from Somalia, you get a sense of what people are dealing with there. This is an extreme condition, Jeremy.

What are you guys doing on the ground?

What do you know about what's happening there, just to share to our viewers?

COLE: George and Natalie, thank you so much for having us to talk about this urgent crisis; 1.4 million children in the four countries you mentioned, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria are at imminent risk of death simply because they don't have enough to eat.

Imagine being a parent, as I am with a 6-year-old daughter, facing the choice of having to feed one child and not the other or knowing your child is not going to get enough food today and tomorrow and the next day. So UNICEF is there. UNICEF is all about putting children first and,

in this crisis, we're working to feed these children, provide ready- to-use therapeutic food to get these children back on their feet. At the same time we're working to build long-term, sustainable solutions for children in these four countries and all around the world where we work.

ALLEN: Right, because you also work with the refugee situation from the wars in the Middle East, it is unprecedented, the children living in refugee camps. It's unreal. We even had them emptying out Mosul as we speak, continuing, so your hands are full right now.

COLE: There is a lot to do. There are 50 million children on the run today in our world, which is more children on the run than at any time since World War II. So UNICEF has a lot of work to do. The good news is we're continuing to make progress for children despite the conflict --


COLE: -- despite the upheaval. But we have to continue to focus on these children. These 50 million children, we have got to focus on the needs of the children where they come from, at their point of origin, as they're moving and also when they arrive.

We have got to ensure that they have the basics: nutrition, health care, education. Get them back in school. That's critically important. This is the work that UNICEF has been doing for 70 years. We just turned 70 in December.

ALLEN: Congratulations.

COLE: And we've been doing the work for 70 years.

HOWELL: We talked just briefly here about the situation in South Sudan, in Somalia, U.S. foreign aid, the United States, one of the major countries that gives foreign aid where it's needed.

But under the new budget, you do get a sense that foreign aid is going to be cut if that is approved.

How do organizations like UNICEF deal with that possibility that there may be less money coming from one of the major donors of that -- ?


COLE: What we know is that children are apolitical and UNICEF is apolitical. Children know no politics. The needs of children, starving children, know no politics. We have to feed children who are starving.

And UNICEF relies on voluntary contributions. We do not receive member dues regularly from the United Nations so public and private sector support for UNICEF is critical.

And now's the time to act. The famine that we talked about with the refugee crisis, now is the time to act. You can do, just for very little, you can do so much. And the American people are so generous, the spirit of the American people. And now is the time to step up and really support this work and save these children's lives.

ALLEN: You have some incredible video stories of children, talking about leaving their homes behind and, of course, the children -- I'm not talking about famine but I'm talking about the refugees.

Is that on your website?

Can people see some of the images there to get a personal perspective?

COLE: Absolutely, yes, is our website. We hope people will visit. You can get that personal story, you can learn how to donate and support and save these children's lives.

HOWELL: Jeremy Cole, thank you so much.

ALLEN: Thank you, Jeremy.

COLE: Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Still to come here, the FBI will soon reveal about what it knows about possible Russian interference and U.S. politics when Director Comey testifies before Congress Monday.

What will the impact be of that?

We'll look into it ahead here.



HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories right now.


ALLEN: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-lago resort in Florida but he's facing a very busy and critical week when he returns to Washington.

Key events include confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch; testimony from FBI director, James Comey, on possible Russian interference in the presidential election and a vote in the House of Representatives on the Republican health care bill.

HOWELL: Mr. Trump also took to Twitter again on Saturday morning, a day after what had all appearances of being an awkward meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the White House. Mr. Trump tweeted this, "Despite what you heard from the news, I had a

great meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO. And the United States must be paid for the powerful and very expensive defense that it provides to Germany."

For the first time on Monday, the FBI director, James Comey will reveal what his agency has learned about possible Russian meddling in the last year's election.

ALLEN: How revealing will it be?

We will soon find out. In particular, the House Intelligence Committee will hear whether contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials were incidental or something more serious. Our Nick Paton Walsh is in Moscow with more.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: The official Kremlin line from spokesman Dmitry Peskov is that they won't even be watching as testimony gets underway on Monday. They're, quote, "too busy" doing other things. They're not expecting to see new details, they say, and Dmitry Peskov goes on to use a colorful quote to suggest that this repeat of allegations that the U.S. electoral campaign was interfered with by Russian intelligence and officials is, quote, "like a broken record with a futuristic song," i.e., don't see anything corresponding to their present-day reality in those repeated claims from U.S. officials.

But I'm sure somebody in the Kremlin will be glued to their TV sets as James Comey begins to give his evidence to the House Intelligence Committee, that FBI director under pressure to provide granular levels of detail.

He's been accused by some congressmen of not delivering enough necessarily so far. There will be the distracting, what one congressman called "smoke bomb," the allegation from President Trump that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had him wiretapped at some point.

But still I think the focus will end up having to be on exactly what the FBI know about potential contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But step back from that inner beltway drama and look at the Moscow-Washington relationship.

Well, if you believe U.S. officials, in fact, Moscow wanted to tamper in the campaign and perhaps see a man more favorable to Vladimir Putin elected president, remember, Donald Trump --


WALSH: -- conspicuous in his absence, a criticism of the Russian strongman during the electoral campaign. Odd for a Republican conservative candidate.

Well, they may not necessarily have got what they wanted. Certainly any attempt in the White House now, you could argue, to introduce a policy in the Middle East or in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world that suits Russian interests will, of course, revive accusations they're colluding with Russian officials and meet very harsh domestic scrutiny.

Perhaps, yes, the Kremlin were desirous to sow dissent inside the Beltway, to set partisan politicians against each other. Certainly that has definitely worked. But on the other hand here, too, they're certainly not seeing perhaps years ahead of a White House that's friendly towards Russian interests -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Moscow.


HOWELL: French officials say the man behind the attack at Paris' Orly airport was known to authorities. He's been identified as Ziyed Ben Belgacem. And he was in prison several times for violence and theft. He was shot and killed Saturday after he tried to grab a soldier's rifle and put a gun to her head.

He's also believed to have shot a police officer earlier in the day. CNN's Melissa Bell has been following the story, is live on the phone with us in Paris.

Melissa, what's the latest you've heard?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is really what we heard from Paris's prosecutor, who went into forensic detail into this explanation of precisely what were to know about Ziyed Ben Belgacem. Beyond his common law charges that he'd been in and out of prison, as you mentioned, George, what's interesting is that he had clearly come across intelligence services' radar as being someone who was radicalized.

His house was searched back in 2015 after the terror attacks here in Paris left 130 people dead. Nothing had been found to suggest that that level of surveillance needed to be increased.

And yet yesterday he went on this rampage. Now of course the investigation continues into precisely what he was hoping to achieve. Of course he ended up holding that weapon to the soldier's head in busy Orly airport yesterday morning. But the day had begun at the police check where he shot the police.

What had he set out to achieve as he left home that morning, armed and carrying things like petrol in his backpack and a lighter?

That is something that the investigation has yet to get to the bottom of. And this other crucial question, was he simply another of these men, acting on the sort of sense of inspiration as they watch what unfolds, organizations like the Islamic State group?

Or was he working in coordination with anyone, acting on some sort of instruction?

That is the other key question that the ongoing investigation will seek to answer.

HOWELL: Melissa, two questions first. Operations there at the airport, any changes given what happened?

Then the second question, this is a nation that has been rocked by terror attacks.

Just given what we saw happen there at the airport the other day, this second question to you is, what is the overall feeling and mood of people there throughout the nation?

BELL: I think again, a sense of shock, watching once again one of these men sort of go on the rampage. Of course, he was the only person to die. It was not his intention. We know that just before he was killed, he shouted, "I'm here to die in the name of Allah" and I will kill, there will be people killed.

So his intention was to cause much more death and destruction than in the end he managed to cause. And, again, the whole of France watching as one of its busiest airports, its second largest airport was brought to a standstill, causing huge disruption to travelers.

This man held not just as a soldier but in essence he held the country hostage. Now this of course in an electoral period where this is, I think likely to play out very significantly in a campaign or the politicians will be on the Sunday shows today, talking about the fact that, yes, the state of emergency remains in place.

But what can be done about these radicalized individuals?

How can they be under control and how can they be prevented from carrying out acts like the one carried out yesterday? -- George.

HOWELL: Our Paris correspondent, Melissa Bell, on the phone with us with details.

Melissa, thank you. We'll stay in touch with you as you learn anything more. Thank you so much.

ALLEN: The father of rock 'n' roll, it's not Elvis, it's not The Beatles, it is Chuck Berry and he has passed on at the age of 90 and we look back at his tremendous, tremendous impact on the world of music in just a moment.





HOWELL (voice-over): You're listening to there the father of rock 'n' roll, Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry has died at the age of 90 years old. Berry had a career spanning more than half a century. He had hits like "Sweet Little 16", "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music".

ALLEN: Can I just say my first 45 was "Johnny B. Goode". (LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: I don't are that that dates me, either. His influence in music and his performance style has been both widespread and enduring. Music legends like Elvis and The Beatles covered his songs.

Chuck Berry was one of the first inductees to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

We have this from Bruce Springsteen, "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer who ever lived. This is a tremendous loss of a giant for the ages."

HOWELL: Earlier our colleague, Cyril Vanier, spoke with entertainment journalist Segun Oduolowu about the legacy of Chuck Berry.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now is Segun Oduolowu, an entertainment journalist and pop culture contributor to Access Hollywood Live.

Segun, each time I talk to you, an artist has died; Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, they were all people who were just not very successful, they were also artists who broke the mold. They influenced generations of others. Tell us about Chuck Berry.

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Well, Chuck Berry is an icon. And it is a pleasure to be joining you, Cyril, I wish it was under better circumstances. But Chuck Berry would have to go down as one of the godfathers if not the godfather of rock 'n' roll.

If you imagine his guitar licks, his instrumentation, hiss songwriting, influenced The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and, of course, Elvis Presley. So there is no rock 'n' roll without Chuck Berry.

VANIER: That's interesting because I was talking to the team in the control room and the team that produces the show.

And I said, hey, guys, what is your favorite song?

And some people said we're not that old.

He doesn't necessarily resonate that much with a younger generation.

ODUOLOWU: Well, I think what is --


ODUOLOWU: -- lost on the younger generation is the history of music. So you don't have Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, (INAUDIBLE) --


ODUOLOWU: -- any of the bands that people love today or listen to, they don't have that without Chuck Berry.

And if you've haven't seen "Back to the Future," with Michael J. Fox doing the Chuck Berry duck walk and playing "Johnny B. Goode" in the movie, then you really haven't lived. Chuck Berry is an icon from all corners of the world. His music and the music of rock 'n' roll has spread.

VANIER: That's what's interesting. He's one of those artists, even though -- even if you don't listen to him specifically, probably what you are listening to today, there has been some influence from him.

ODUOLOWU: Absolutely. If you think about it, rock 'n' roll music is rebellious music. It's revolutionary music. And, at the time that Chuck Berry and Little Richard and other icons were just formulating this type of anger against the system and putting it into their music and telling where they came from, it speaks to everybody.

So you could be a reggae artist in Jamaica that guitar spoke to you and you get some Bob Marley music. You could be English kids and The Beatles are influenced, the Stones are influenced, The Who is influenced. You can be a white kid in California and the Beach Boys are hearing guitar licks from Chuck Berry and it's being woven into their music. So Chuck Berry is the fabric of rock 'n' roll. You don't have this music without him.

VANIER: Now that's fascinating. Tell me about the revolutionary rebellious side.

ODUOLOWU: Well, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, they never existed more closely than in one man. You think of those three terms. He was arrested. He had battles with substance abuse. But the music was that underlying passion and that rebellion against the system.

Chuck actually said, I lived in the middle. I never got too high, I never got too low with the career. And he was still playing shows into his 80s. So that gives you an idea about how much that music meant to him, how much it stirred his soul and, I think, kept him young.

VANIER: All right, Segun Oduolowu, we thank you so much. And I make you a promise. Next time we speak it won't be, even though this is a celebration of Chuck Berry's life, it won't be after a passing. We'll find another topic. I make that promise. Thank you very much, Segun.


ALLEN: I love that Chuck Berry move there with those legs.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

ALLEN: And I still have my "Johnny B. Goode" 45 tucked away somewhere. (INAUDIBLE).

HOWELL: We'll be right back after the break.



ALLEN: Well, here in the U.S., the month of March means madness on the basketball court. The NCAA tournament features more than 60 top teams from American universities.

Last year's tournament champ, Villanova, has been knocked out of this year's event already, in just the second round, by the University of Wisconsin. Games continue for two more weeks and earlier our Jon Mann asked sports writer C.J. Moore about the madness of March Madness.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you to explain this at the most basic level to people around the world who may not ever have heard of March Madness.

If you had to explain it, the excitement, the fan involvement, all of the craziness, I mean, how would you -- how would you say it?

C.J. MOORE, SPORTS WRITER: Well, it's the most exciting sports month of the year, I think. And essentially the -- it's not exactly the 68 best teams in the country but you put 68 of the best teams in the country and they play a single elimination tournament down to what we call the Final Four and you get the national champion in early April. And it's a lot of fun to watch.

MANN: Game after game after game, colleges across the country, college sports fans across the country, this is bigger, I think, for a lot of people than any professional sport and they are very involved in what are called brackets. This is a particularly mysterious thing if you're a foreigner or not a sports fan.

But we're talking about predicting the outcome of more than 60 games, predicting games you don't know which teams are going to be playing and setting up a chart -- you can see it on our screen now. Tell us about that.

How hard is it to do?

How many people are doing it?

How much studying, planning, arguing, betting goes into brackets?

MOORE: Well, just about every office in America is competing in a bracket pool and even my 10-year-old son has filled one out.

And to give you an idea of how hard it is to predict these things, college basketball is my life. I study it all the time. It is my full-time career and my 10-year-old son is beating my butt. So it's not exactly the easiest thing to predict. And a lot of money is on the line for a lot of these office pools.

MANN: Why do people do it? Office pools involves betting. But I know a lot of people, people here in our newsroom who are doing it for no particular reason other than it's just something everyone does every March?

MOORE: Yes, it's fun. And it's a bragging rights thing. You know, if you went to college in the United States, a lot of times, you know, you're so loyal to your school and even if you don't pay attention to the season all year, people pay attention in March and they want to see their school do well.


ALLEN: We've got to talk about the worst flooding in over two decades. It continues to ravage parts of Peru.

HOWELL: Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here to tell us about it -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Natalie, George, we continue to highlight the story for our viewers because it just is showing how broad of a scope this is for this country.

Watch this very dramatic video coming out of the region, one of many that have impacted the area. This is a mudslide that literally collapsed from a mountain side, hit a bus full of tourists.

ALLEN: Oh, goodness.

VAN DAM: You're watching them actually being washed down this torrent of mud, the death toll now at 72. This is the worst flooding in two decades. We have 811 cities under emergency declaration as we speak in Peru. That's just one of --


VAN DAM: -- the thousands of stories that are being told in Peru. And we're trying to convey the message to you at home just to highlight the seriousness of this flooding that continues to take place. There's more of a happy ending there with that particular picture, a boy being saved by one of the firefighting personnel there.


ALLEN: And thank you for watching this hour, CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. I'll be right back after the break with more news from around the world. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.