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North Korea Slams U.S. Over Tough New U.N. Sanctions;Trump's Approval Rating Falls To 38 Percent In CNN Poll; US VP Pence Denies "Shadow Campaign" For 2020; Polls Open IN Presidential Parliamentary Elections; Kidnapped Aimed To Sell Model On Dark Model; U.S. Considers Plan to Privatize Parts of Afghan War; Police Searching for Venezuelan Military Base Attackers; Drop in Macron's Popularity Puts Reforms in Question; Google Engineer Post Rant About Women, Diversity; Animated Gay Short Goes Viral. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 8, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: With polls numbers irregular votes, President Donald Trump takes the Twitter calling his brutal ratings fake news.

ISHA SESAY, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Plus, an animated show about a gay schoolboy crush has hot heating and millions of views.

Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. It's great to have you with us for this is third hour of Newsroom L.A.

North Korea is staying defiant in the face of the toughest sanctions ever over its nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang is even threatening to retaliate against the U.S. They're drafting the resolution which is asked unanimously by the U.N. Security Council.

SESAY: Even China, North Korea's main ally, is pledging to enforce the sanctions. Pyongyang says the U.S. is desperate to bring the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war and that under no circumstances would the regime negotiate its nuclear weapons. The new sanctions could cut North Korea's annual export revenues by a third.

VAUSE: Paul Carroll is a Senior Adviser at N Square, group working on reducing nuclear space. He joins us now via Skype from San Francisco.

Paul, good to see you. You know, at the end of the day, the toughest sanctions in the world will succeed or fail depending on how they're enforced, and that basically comes down to China, which has a pretty dismal record so far.

So, will it be any different this time?

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISER, N SQUARE: Well, that remains to be seen. You're exactly right, John, this is all about the implementation.

And, you know, a traffic ticket is only as good as the policeman behind it. And so while these sanctions on paper are extremely tough, not only are they tough in terms of what they will restrict with the North Korean economy and regime, but they haven't been this unified, the U.N. Security Council and particularly, their regional powers have not been this unified in a number of years.

So on the one hand, it's a very promising opportunity. On the other hand, it all depends on other force.

VAUSE: Yes. We asserted this point last year, sanctions we see didn't really expanded though, seen as being very tough, also very complex. But there is this reported out by a British think tank and this is what it found, "The narrative around the U.N. Security Council table that sanctions are the strongest they have ever been may be true on their paper form, but is fiction in practice. Gaps allow North Korean illicit activity to persist."

They're focused on the mention that not only enforcement is a problem but illicit supply networks and private firms are still out there willing to do deals with the North. When you look at this new round of sanctions, are those problems actually being addressed?

CARROLL: Again, I think it remains to be seen. But it's important to remember, there are at least two reasons you impose sanctions on a nation that is doing something you don't want it to do. It's either to restrict or limit their ability to do that thing. In this case, North Korea and the sanctions in the early days were aimed at limiting or cutting off their ability to produce nuclear weapons and missiles. That day has passed.

Now, what the sanctions are designed to do is to inflict pain and inflict pressure and force a choice in the North Korean leadership. Do you really want to continue to have dire poverty and even your own regime and leadership have very limited economic vitality or choose another path?

Now, here's another point about these sanctions. It's only one-half of the equation. This is half a loaf. This is all leaving out sticks. And what we really need to see now is what are the carrots that the international community will offer to North Korea to come back to the negotiating table.

VAUSE: And that's a good point because, you know, what's the incentive here for Korea apart from the punishment to abandon its nuclear program. Richard Nephew, who coordinated sanctions to the U.S. State Department, he made the act, you know, on Monday that tough sanctions without a big strategy here, which includes negotiations, are in fact not only pointless but may even be counterproductive.

He says, "The win at the U.N. will convince the Trump team that they are on the right track and that they don't have to make a tough call on entering real negotiations with North Korea. This also means that the Trump team will continue using sanctions as a surrogate for strategy and, inevitably, as a means of avoiding developing one."

It always seems what happened during the Obama administration and the Bush administration before that, that essentially, the win at the U.N. is a means until it met.

CARROLL: It's right. It's all tactical. You're exactly right. I think what Mr. Nephew is saying is absolutely right. It's a necessary but not sufficient.

Sanctions can inflict pain. They can help force a choice or coerce or pressure a nation say, like North Korea, back to the negotiating table.

OK. Suppose they decided they will talk, what do we have on offer? What is it that the United States, the South Koreans, the Chinese and so on will offer to North Korea for changing its behavior?

That has not been going out. That has not been made explicit by any of these nations. And there's been a decade or more or that type of strategy has not been clear, has not been in place.

[02:05:04] And this particular administration in the U.S., there's no one home at the State Department. There's no one home. And what I mean by that, is the appointees, the leadership to design such a strategy isn't in existence.

So failing that, what you have rhetoric, you have tweets in the middle of the night, and you have a dangerous situation where rhetoric can turn into actual military action, misunderstanding, and accidental war.

VAUSE: Yes. So obviously, some reasons for hope, but a lot of reasons to be concerned as well.

Paul, good to see you, thanks for being with us.

CARROLL: Absolutely, happy to be here. Thanks, John.

SESAY: Our new CNN polling shows President Trump is loosing ground with American voters. Thirty eight percent say they approve of the job he's doing as president, 56 percent disapprove. Now, those are the worst six-month number to any U.S. president in the modern era.

VAUSE: Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator, Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobson, and Republican Consultant John Thomas.

OK, 38 percent, it's a little better than some of the other polls out there. Well, quite a feat, I got him at 32 percent a couple of days ago. But if you take a close look at these numbers, there are some problems with the president among his co-supporters.

Republicans' strong approval is down 14 percent from February, now 59 percent. And among white voters without a college degree, this is basically his base, at 35 percent. That's down 12 percent as well since February. I've seen similar results from other polls as well.

So John, is this why we're seeing the White House now on the strategy trying to reenergize the base, the transgender ban, targeting a further of action on campus, you know, hitting out of the media? And is it too early to say maybe the strategy isn't working? JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that the White House is questioningly that strategic. At this point, they're just trying to start getting through their agenda. Once they've got past a lot of the fire storms, they continue to kind of whip through the White House.

But I think -- and there's some interesting things that we need to dig a little deeper in those numbers. First of all, they're not good for Trump. I'm not going to try to sugarcoat them.

But there are things to consider. First of all, this poll doesn't use likely voters because it's too early to look at that.

So undoubtedly, you know, Trump's approvals have dropped, but what about people who are going to vote midterms as a different electorate didn't voted in 2016. So it's too early to really read the tea leaves definitively.

The other thing is Congress is a per job approval had hit an all-time low, somewhere between 9 and 10 percent depending upon where you look at. And --


THOMAS: Yes. But they've usually been 15, 16, 17 percent and the drop in those numbers have largely been from Republicans disliking Congress now.

And so, I think what you're seeing is the frustration with all voters but even the Republican base. With Congress, with Trump and not getting that agenda that they sent Trump to do, here's a bit of optimism I would give the Trump administration, not there on the challenges yet.

Because you look at the numbers beyond polling that are encouraging. Million new jobs created. One -- almost 1.3 million less people on food stamps than were almost a year ago. There are some hopes for optimism, but I don't think the White House, without them driving their agenda, I don't see these numbers shooting up.

SESAY: And you talked about agenda, so let's remind our viewers of some of the promises --


SESAY: -- candidate Trump made on the campaign trail.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

I'm lowering your taxes bigly. My contract calls to the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan. We will also repeal and replace the total disaster known as Obamacare. We're going to stop it day one. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: So Dave, I mean these numbers and the fall off in the base, is it simply down to the fact that those promises remain unfulfilled?

JACOBSON: Yes. Donald Trump is a walking ticking time bomb. And I think the reality is these numbers serve as fresh evidence of the fact that people are just made and they're frustrated.

This is a president that was elected on a transformational mandate to overhaul the swamp, the rigged system in Washington. He has failed to deliver time and time again.

You look at that laundry list of policies that he supposedly was going to advance as president, he's failed to deliver anything meaningful that actually resembles anything like the mandate or the platform that he campaigned on. And I think people are increasingly frustrated and they're looking to, you know, the upcoming election, obviously, to put a message out there.

I think the reality is you've got this electorate that wants their president. It was the Republicans, right? They want to set up objectives to be achieved. And if they're not going to deliver on it, ultimately, they're going to lose the downward cuts unless we're seeing --

THOMAS: I mean upsetting that immigration is down, granted to no wall, yes, the immigration is down. Jobs are out. Veteran unemployment is in all-time low. There are things to be proud about, but you're right, he has to achieve those policy objectives because that's what voters are judging him on right now.

VAUSE: There's also the other big set of number out of those polls and this goes to his promises which were unfulfilled and a whole bunch of other stuff.

[02:10:01] When asked, do you trust most of what you hear from the White House? Yes, 24 percent. No, percent. You know, those numbers are devastating. Take them back from there.

JACOBSON: I don't think you can. I mean the reality is the RNC, just yesterday, put out a tweet that said, Donald Trump's job growth numbers, the 1 million job growth numbers is unprecedented. That's a lie.

Actually, in Barrack Obama's last six months as president, he actually created more jobs than Donald Trump has in the first six months. And so, I think that's emblematic of the larger trend that we've seen from this White House extends to his very first day in office when he talked about the crowd size being the largest ever.

The fact that he was talking in West Virginia, that they are saying he had the biggest landslide electoral victory ever. I mean, the reality is people don't trust the president and that is a real danger.

THOMAS: They squandered an opportunity certainly to the White House' credibility and messaging. But Dave, they're not going to win the midterms via press release. They're going to win because voters are going to look at their own economic situation, decide whether they think they're better off now than they were.

I mean if you look at the right track, wrong track questions, under Barrack Obama, almost 75 percent of Americans thought we're in the wrong track. Now, it's down to 65, that's not great but it's better in the right direction.

I think people aren't going to -- they may not trust the White House but they trust whether or not they're employed.


ASHER: Go head, Dave.

JACOBSON: Yes. I was going to say, but there is evidence though that you're seeing the splintering within the Republican Party. The fact that Donald Trump has like dropped, according to CNN poll, 13 percent among Republicans since February, that's meaningful. That's like hard evidence that --


THOMAS: You're right. But with one block of that wall, that probably she's right back.

SESAY: But the president himself doesn't seem to recognize that there is an issue here. So I mean, the fact that you have such a bad poll number, I mean how do you saw interest of when the man in the hot seat doesn't recognize there's a problem?

THOMAS: I think he knows. I think he's wanting to robust the polls. And to his credit, although we trade in polls and I do trust polls, especially internal ones, they were wrong. And when it pain --


THOMAS: Right. But I'm saying that the polling that was his election were off. So you got to understand, he might mistrust those numbers.

VAUSE: Clearly, the president is unhappy with the news coverage he's receiving, so he decided to make his own. Look at this from TV.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president took office, President Trump has created more than 1 million jobs. The unemployment rate is at a 16- year low and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high. All of the Dow Jones continues to break records. President Trump has clearly stirred the economy back in the right direction.

On Wednesday, the president introduced the RAISE Act. For decades, a city --

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: I really like the Trumpets (ph). I mean these Trumpets (ph) are great.

THOMAS: I liked it too.

VAUSE: You know, Dave, that's the kind of news coverage that the president wants. He's never going to get it. And I'm confident that everything was (inaudible), should be calendared to me in jobs in the first six months because here, confidence is not at 16-year high.

JACOBSON: No, not all. I mean this looks like state run propaganda. I mean this is something that you would see if you went to North Korea, and you know, the president there talking. And the reality is this is not reflective of real news. This is alternative facts.

THOMAS: I mean its campaign advertising. Everybody does it. The fact --

SESAY: This early, do people do it today?

THOMAS: Absolutely, it's called like constituent communication and campaign advertising. You should be doing it. I would fall to any elected official that's not utilizing Facebook live and Twitter that's live.

SESAY: You know why he's doing it. Don't be disingenuous. He is doing it because he's trying to counter the narrative, all to --

THOMAS: And I don't blame him. I mean the mainstream media does not -- they're not exactly sympathetic to the Trump communication scheme.

JACOBSON: It could also be that he's looking over his shoulder because his vice president potentially could be looking to 2020.

SESAY: Well, speaking of that, very quickly and we're almost out of time. The vice president's response is pretty hard, pushing back at the New York Times piece. Why? Don't be nervous --

THOMAS: I mean, look, it was very clear that the vice president doesn't -- I don't think he's looking at 2020, but he wants make it. It's crystal clear to the president that he is not looking at 2020, and that's why he was so strong in his rebuffing of that act.

SESAY: Dave?

JACOBSON: I think it was an overcorrection. I think it underscores the fact that he sees the writing on the wall and he could potentially be running in 2020. I think having president --

SESAY: So your money is on the Pence run?

JACOBSON: Potentially, yes.

VAUSE: Hey, remember last week?

SESAY: What? VAUSE: From a White House spokesman, Sean Spicer?

SESAY: Oh him, yeah.



VAUSE: Yes, him. Let's check it with Spicer here over the weekend.

SESAY: Yes, those Spicer cam.

VAUSE: He was like that.


VAUSE: Look at the Red Sox there in Boston.

SESAY: Look at that smile.

VAUSE: He was smiling. This is a happy man. He's out doing Dancing With the Stars apparently.

SESAY: Yes, send it there.

VAUSE: But there's -- this is the guy who is certainly relieved --

JACOBSON: Yes, yes, he's going to take a six-month pay. He deserves it. Drink some beer, yes.

VAUSE: So you've got aneurysm about to explode there.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

SESAY: Appreciate it.

Well, voting is underway in Kenya's presidential and parliamentary elections right now.

VAUSE: There have been long lines since poll. And just a few hours ago, Jacob is taking his second and final term as president. But to get it, he has to fend off seven challenges, including long time rival, Raila Odinga.

SESAY: Both candidates have focused their campaigns on promises to improve the economy, east Africa's largest to boost jobs and fight corruption.

[02:15:00] Let's go CNN's Farai Sevenzo. He's in Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

Farai, good to see you once again. What's the latest? The polls have been opened for sometime now. FARAI SEVENZO, CNN COMMENTATOR: That's right Isha. Polls have been open for just maybe 2 and a half hours now. And as you can see behind, I don't know if you can kind of site of this, massive crowds, massive turnouts for these votes.

People are telling me here that they've been up since 2 o'clock in the morning or six hours ago, very keen appetite to cast their votes in this 2017 election, Isha.

SESAY: I mean, incredible scenes behind you there, clearly, at least where you are, a large turnout. But let me ask you this, given the size of Kenya's youth population, which should be a key decider in this vote, what do we see in terms of that group, what is driving their decision making?

SEVENZO: You know, it's not just an election --

SESAY: Some technical problems there with Farai. We have lost contact with him. If we can re-establish that quickly, we will bring him back to you to get an update on the ongoing election there in Kenya. So, stay with us for that. We'll work to get him back.

VAUSE: In the meantime, we'll move on to South Africa where President Jacob Zuma's eight years in office have been played by controversy, but his toughest challenge maybe just hours away.

SESAY: As the anti Zuma protesters march, Monday, in Cape Town, the president prepares to face a no-confidence vote by safer ballots and parliament this Tuesday.

Is the symbol majority voting against them would mean he and his cabinet would have to resign?

CNN's David McKenzie has more from Johannesburg.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corruption in this country is demoralizing our country.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Simpio Madall (ph) lives and breathes the ANC, like his father before him.

(on camera): Your whole life, you've been an ANC supporter?


MCKENZIE: And you will remain an ANC supporter?


MCKENZIE (voice-over): But these are strange times for the party of Nelson Mandela.

(on camera): Should President Jacob Zuma step down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, yes, yes. It is my view. I think our president must step down for the good of the country.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): South Africa's president seems out of stick with many in his own party, a politician in survival mode, facing anger and sustained protests from the people.

(on camera): President Zuma faces more than 700 counts of alleged corruption. He used public money to fund his private homestead. And the highest call in the land says that he didn't uphold his oath of office. The list of scandals is long.

SUSAN COMRIE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, AMABHUGHANE CENTER: They've really managed to infiltrate and capture sort of almost every part of the state.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): And the lesson is getting longer. A new trope of more than 200,000 leaked e-mails suggesting alleged corruption, with tens of millions of dollars between the Gupta family, wealth Indian expats with vast business interest in South Africa and cabinet members, state-owned industry busses, even members of Zuma's immediate family.

COMRIE: He hasn't answered those allegations.

MCKENZIE: The Guptas called the leaks face news and Zuma has long denied any corruption.

But the South African journalist uncovering the e-mails now facing sustained harassment.

COMRIE: When you start digging and you start investigating, you don't really know where it's going to end.


MCKENZIE: The official oppositions sees an opening, calling for another votes of no-confidence against Zuma in parliament.

MAIMANE: Jacob Zuma is a corrupt individual. He has lost the interest of South Africa and more than anyways, he's acted in a treasonous manner by selling off the republic for private use.

MCKENZIE: And can you do it? Can you get him out?

MAIMANE: Absolutely.

MCKENZIE: Many here say they want a new beginning for the liberation party of South Africa to focus on the people's problems, not the politics of patronage.

David McKenzie, CNN Johannesburg.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, police said British model was kidnapped to be auctioned on the dark web. And now, that 20-year-old woman is speaking out. What a terrifying reveal. SESAY: What exactly is the dark web and how concerned should we be? We'll take a deeper look at the shadowy world of the internet. Coming up.


[02:21:30] ASHER: A British model who says she was kidnapped and held in Italy said she feared for her life. According to police, 20-year- old, Chloe Ayling, was attacked in mid-July after arriving in Milan and taken to a remote cabin.

VAUSE: She has spoken publicly after authorities announced that suspects had been arrested, who allegedly plan to sell her online.


CHLOE AYLING, MODEL: I've been through a terrifying experience. I feared for my life second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour. I am incredibly grateful to the Italian and UK authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release.

I have just arrived home after four weeks of being in Italy and I haven't had the time to gather my thoughts. I am not allowed to say anything further until I've been debriefed by the UK police.


ASHER: Internet Security Analyst, Hemu Nigam, joins us now. He is the founder and CEO of SSP Blue, an advisory firm that specializes in online security.

Hemu Nigam, nice to see you.


ASHER: So this 20-year-old model who we just saw that allegedly was going to be sold on the dark web, the deep web as it's also referred to. What exactly is this?

NIGAM: Well, it's actually simpler than the name entails. Google has things that it searches on the internet, what we call the public web. There are certain areas that are just designed not to be searched by Google or any of the major search engines. That area is called the dark web.

And it's actually deep web is all of that and the dark part of it is a place where criminal activity takes place.

SESAY: OK. You say criminal activity. From the reading that I've been doing, we're talking about the sale of illicit drugs, weapons, people. What's the scale of this thing?

NIGAM: It's -- to put in simple financial terms, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars are made by criminal organizations, and all the things you referenced. And it even gets very personal. There are people out there who are saying, hey, I have for sale, a video of a teenage girl that I watch every night because she doesn't know I broke into her webcam. Or I'm selling sex slaves or I'm buying sex slaves. So there's buying and selling that's happening here.

SESAY: How, I mean, is access to the dark web a simple as downloading the right software. Is that it?

NIGAM: Yes, it's actually really simple. Now, it used to be complicated. But there's things like TOR, T-O-R, you're going to hear about that, which allows you to get into that area and then you can go from there.

SESAY: I want to talk about TOR, the TOR Project as they referred to themselves. That the co-creator of TOR says this is simply a means to improve privacy and security. Others argue that this is a menace that enables criminal behavior. How do you see it?

NIGAM: It's actually both. So there are those who are saying, look, if you're living in a country that is being censored and your internet access is controlled, and you want access for political reasons and things like that, this is a great way to engage in that.

But because it creates anonymity, because the financial transactions have happened happen through a crypt currencies which many people find hard to trace, the organized crime and the typical criminal has said, well, if they can do it for those reasons, I can use it for opportunities in other criminal activities. So it's both.

SESAY: But then you mentioned -- it's both. You mentioned the cryptocurrency. Just to tell of you, on the dark web, it's my understanding that a lot of these transactions are being done with bitcoin, a digital currency, and that is almost helps the growth of the dark web.

NIGAM: Right. Actually, what's happening is bitcoin people believe, and the good thing is it's not actually as true as people think, that it's untraceable.

[02:25:02] But at the end of the day, one of the best parts about the dark web is it's connected to what I call the light web, the public web. In other words, if you're going to sell drugs or if you're going to sell a human being for that matter, at some point, that sale has to happen in the physical world. And at some point, money has to go from a person's bank account to a converter to the dark web.

SESAY: Why does it seem as if authorities are a couple of steps behind these people all the time though or is that misleading?

NIGAM: Well, it's actually true in the sense that law enforcement is tasked with resources, needs better education. Here is the word dark web, and oftentimes in many parts of the world, they're going to say, well, that's something I can't figure out.

But the good part is if law enforcement does what they know how to do, which is traditional enforcement including some online activities such as set up an undercover operation, pretend you are a buyer or seller or some elicit type of drugs or --

SESAY: So it's as easy to downloading the software?

NIGAM: Exactly. And then buzz the individual when they plan to do a physical transaction. So there are ways that law enforcement can embrace it. And they are starting to embrace it. There are undercover operations happening in the UK, in the United States, in some of the other countries.

But I think what law enforcement has to do is say to themselves, look, I can do this. I'm a cop. I know how to do this. I know how to investigate. Nothing is changed.

SESAY: For our viewers at home who are thinking that this is something that can be shut down, can it be or that --

NIGAM: Now, this is here to stay. So the real question is, how do you send a message to the dark web that says we are going to bring you to light, you will get persecuted, you will eventually get arrested. And I think at some point, this is going to become the typical cop and robbery chasing thing that always happens, whether it's in a physical world or the online world.

But the real question that we have to focus on is how do we send a message to the public, like the young lady who was going on a modeling. So like my daughter is a upcoming singer and model, I worry somebody's going to call her and say, hey, do you want to go on a photo shoot to a different country?


NIGAM: So that's where the real danger lies and that's where we have to focus our attention.


NIGAM: In education.

SESAY: Yes, education. Hemu, always a pleasure, thank you so much.

NIGAM: Thanks Isha.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Yes, it is terrifying, remember that.

We will take a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next for our viewers in Asia.

Everyone else, the US is considering a controversial new plan for the war in Afghanistan. Details and what that means for American troops in the region.

SESAY: Plus, as Venezuela's controversial new assembly gets to work and manhunt is underway for the remaining gunmen who attacked an army base over the weekend, that story and much more after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.


The headlines this hour.


VAUSE: The U.S. president is completely frustrated with the progress of the war in Afghanistan. And the debate over what to do next is dividing his administration.

SESAY: Now one of the president's top strategists is pitching a plan to privatize part of the war.

CNN's Barbara Starr explains.



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A military plan for Afghanistan has been delayed for months amid sharp disagreements in the White House between the president's top advisers.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've had three sessions within the National Security Council exploring a full range of options. And I say four ranges of options, I mean the entire landscape.

STARR: The president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is reportedly seeking the advice of Erik Prince, the controversial former head of the now disbanded contractor firm, Blackwater. Prince's plan, use military contractors instead of U.S. troops for a variety of unspecified missions in Afghanistan.

While leading Blackwater, Prince's mercenary force was criticized for how it dealt with civilians in Iraq. Several former employees were convicted in a 2007 incident in Baghdad in which 17 Iraqi civilians were shot and killed. One of those contractors' convictions was overturned just last week.

The Trump administration defending Prince and his proposal.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PERSIDENT TRUMP: If you look at Prince's track record, it is not about bilking the government. It is about the opposite. It is about saving the U.S. taxpayer money. So this is a cost-cutting venture. We open the door here at the White House to outside ideas.

STARR: Still, defense officials have long noted that in some operations, contractors are not less expensive than active-duty military members who are paid considerably less. The man leading the fight in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, is arguing for a few thousand more troops to train Afghan forces, mainly, in addition to the 8400 U.S. troops already there, a plan believed to be back by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

GEN. JOHN NICHOLSON, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: We have a shortfall of a few thousand. And this is in the NATO train, advise, assist mission, so this can come from the U.S. and its allies.

STARR: Still, Nicholson may not have the full backing of the president who is thought to be frustrated with Nicholson's command of the Afghanistan War, something that McMaster denied in an interview with MSNBC.

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I've known him for many years. I can't imagine a more capable commander on any mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MSNBC CORRESPODNENT: Does Secretary Mattis, does the president?

MCMASTER: Absolutely.

STARR (on camera): Aviation analysts say all of this could lead to commercial airlines being much more careful about where they fly in Asia.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


SESAY: Now for the crisis in Venezuela. Hundreds of people marched in the capital Monday in support of Nicolas Madero and his newly elected constituent assembly.

VAUSE: Meanwhile, police are hunting for remaining gunmen accused of a paramilitary style attack on an army base in Valencia. Seven suspects were arrested and as many as 10 others are still on the run. One suspect involves says the attack wasn't a coup attempt but a legitimate rebellion against President Maduro.

SESAY: Latin-American analyst, Nicolas Albertoni, joins us now.

Nicolas, good to see you.

So this Valencia attack appears to be an attempt to spur a broader uprising, which hasn't happened as yet. But it has raised the question of whether we're looking at a greater chance of a coup, something being launched by ordinary soldiers.

NICOLAS ALBERTONI, LATIN-AMERICAN ANALYST: Yes. First of all, what we see today in Venezuela is the result of many years of our government basically fighting against the democratic institutions. So will we start to see these kinds of things. We will see if it is not orchestrated by the current government. By the way, what is happening in that country for many years have these kinds of regime like what is happening in Venezuela after like more than nine years of this government of Nicolas Maduro.

[02:35:25] SESAY: Are we to believe the military, the senior members of the military forces, when they say they stand in lockstep with Nicolas Maduro, does he have the full support of the military?

ALBERTONI: I don't think so. Basically, what we see in Venezuela is basically many cities, many are regionalized in the country, so we have many fractures in the military and government. But we see is basically a similar situation of what we saw in 1982, when Hugo Chavez, the founder of the Chorizo regime, did the same thing. Basically, what he did was a successful coup d'etat against a democratic body at the moment. So, again, it is difficult to see how Latin-America, in general, doesn't learn about it from the past, you know.

SESAY: How do you see Nicolas Maduro using this moment, this attack in Valencia? Does this become an opportunity to go after even more critics, more enemies?

ALBERTONI: Of course. Basically, if this is something that is orchestrated by the government, we see these kinds of things also bolster his narrative, the anti-imperialism regime, what he is always saying about the USA and many other. So basically, this is increasing the narrative we see from Nicolas Maduro. Also, another point that is important to see, is the region is not cooperating in this process because we shall see that basically the coup suspended in Venezuela and last weekend. But this is too late. After two years of this regime, we start to see these kinds of results.

SESAY: You mentioned the South American traders defending Venezuela on Saturday. They say this has been done for the failure to uphold democratic norms. Will that have any impact or, as you say, is it simply a case of being too little too late? And to that point, why could they not do more in terms of imposing sanctions or changes on trade, which we know would have an impact?

ALBERTONI: It's important to say that the regime has should have played a very important role in this crisis. But unfortunately, what we see is basically silence after two years that we have this regime in its worse moment. So basically, I don't think it would have many results basically because Nicolas Maduro is continuing with this kind of narrative and basically what we see that this kind of situation is now increasing the same on this because now he is saying that basically all the economic problems of Venezuela happened basically because these kinds of trade suspensions.

SESAY: Nicolas Albertoni, joining us there.

Nicolas, we appreciate it. That you so much for the insight.

ALBERTONI: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: France's president promised voters sweeping reforms but he may have lost support for those changes. Details coming up.

SESAY: Plus, a Google employee tests the company's commitment to freedom of expression with an anti-diversity memo. Just ahead, reaction from the CEO.


[02:40:32] SESAY: The French president's timing could be better. Emmanuel Macron wants to give his wife, Brigitte, the official title of first lady. Meanwhile, he is about to pass a law which would ban French lawmakers from giving paid jobs to their families. Some say Macron is being hypocritical.

VAUSE: The president insists his wife won't receive a public salary but she would get her own office, for a start. Thousands of people signed a petition saying that she should not get that title.

SESAY: Definitely not.


SESAY: The dispute over the first lady's title isn't helping President Macron's fading support.

VAUSE: Now his ambitious change agenda could also be in jeopardy.

Here's Erin McLaughlin.



ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hailed as a political prodigy, even the possible savior of Europe, three months into his presidency, Emmanuel Macron faces a drop in popularity with serious questions about his plans for economic reform. This, in stark contrast to the optimism of election night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People would say we should give him a chance. We see that new face. We see -- we want him to succeed. That was the mood back then.

MCLAUGHLIN: The mood bolstered as Macron asserted himself on the world stage. With one crushing handshake, he stood up to the president of the United States and delivered a message on climate change.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibilities. Make our planet great again.

MCLAUGHLIN: Meetings with Putin, Netanyahu, Trudeau, and any number of other high-profile, sometimes daring photo ops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The French don't really care about that part. They will judge him on two things, security and jobs.

MCLAUGHLIN: By July, the mood had soured. According to one poll, his approval rating dropped a staggering 10 points, to 54 percent, lower than either of his predecessors at the same point in their presidencies. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the French voted for him knowing that he had an agenda of strong change, of serious reform. But they never imagined that these reforms were actually apply to them.

MCLAUGHLIN: The drop most notable for sector safety, cut backs and labor reform, the pensioners, the civil servants, workers.

Reform economists argue they're necessary to reduce the budget deficit and improve the economy. But this, coupled with a series of political missteps leave many wondering if Macron can make his presidency a success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a window of opportunity for the president, not opportunity in the sense that there is an open road for reform, but in terms of timing. If he wants his legacy over five years to be a positive one, he has to act now and he has to choose a few battles where he really wants to invest all of his political capital.

MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): Many here say his biggest test with come in September when the French return from holiday and some of the country's strongest unions take to the streets to protest his policies. They'll be watching to see the size of those crowds and how he handles a public show of dissatisfaction.

Eric McLaughlin, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: Over the last few months, it seems Silicon Valley's reputation has gone through a bastion of progressive and liberal ideas to a bottomless pit of allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The latest outrage comes from Google and a lengthy memo written by male software engineer saying biology is to blame for a pay gap between men and women. Here's a sample, "Women, on average, have more neuroticism, high anxiety, lower stress tolerance. This may contribute to the high levels of anxiety women report on Googleist" -- which is an internal Google survey -- "and to the lower number of women in high-stress jobs."

Google's CEO has responded to that now-viral memo in an e-mail to staff, which reads in part, "Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK."

A Google spokesman has also declined to comment on reports that the engineer who wrote the memo has been fired.

Well, for more, Kara Swisher, the co-founder of the technology Web site, Recode, joins us now.

Kara, good to see you.


VAUSE: There's a picture here. When it comes to se3xism and pay discrimination, it seems to the tech industry just is not any worse than the rest of Corporate America. But I guess for many years, there was this perception that it was better, that somehow Silicon Valley add changed the paradigm. But that's just not true.

[02:45:04] KARA SWISHER, CO-FOUNDER, RECODE: Right. Not true. Not true. And by the way, that engineer was fired.

But, you know, it is really -- it's an ironic thing because there are a lot of ideals in Silicon Valley that are really wonderful, open- mindedness, innovation, and things like that. When you look at the statistics of how many women or people of color work at these companies, the deck is stacked against them because it is almost 70 percent to 80 percent, men, heavily white man. So it's a really interesting issue that Silicon Valley has had to deal with, over the last couple of months especially.

VAUSE: I want to read another part of that 10-page memo. This is what he wrote --


SWISHER: Please don't. I've read it so many times.


VAUSE: I'm sure.

SWISHER: Thanks. Thanks so much.

VAUSE: Just one more time then.

SWISHER: All right.

VAUSE: "The same forces that lead men to high-pay, high-stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs, like coal mining and firefighting. Some 93 percent of the work that men do. In other words, men are the victims.

So this all seems to echo the men's rights movement, which has been, which has been arguing affirmative action discriminates against men.

I want to play a very brief clip from a documentary called "The Red Pill."


VAUSE: Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we've been focusing our binoculars on the issue of discrimination against women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the discriminate action is against by men. The fact of the matter is men are suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your wife wants to abort the child and they don't, what do you tell them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell you at this point how many guys I've talked to that are like, yes, you know, she's had me and they put me in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll never forget this. He said, when she starts hitting you again, you better get out of there fast because if she just breaks a fingernail trying to hit you, we'll arrest you.


VAUSE: I mean, if there a perception among men

SWISHER: Thank you for that.


SWISHER: Yes, thank you for that horrible, horrible thing.

VAUSE: Is there a perception in Silicon Valley that men are the real victims here?

SWISHER: Well, here's what happened. There's been a lot of talk recently, especially because of the situation at Uber, which the report turned out to be almost entirely true, I think, about sexism and then sexual harassment. There's a very bright line between the two. I think a lot of people -- this has been discussed a lot. I think the people in power are primarily men, primarily white men, don't want to talk about it. So now they want to move to the issues, we cannot say anything.

What's fascinating is this particular guy, who was talking about it in this memo at Google, he's like, I cannot be heard, I'm chained to be silent. Well, he sent around to the entire company of so many people, tens of thousands of people. And then it was read by millions. Listen, we heard what this guy had to say. So I think victimization is laughable, but it's not unexpected among some of these people because they live in a cossetted juvenile, Peter Pan world that they have to get out of. These are adult situations and people should feel safe in the workplace.


VAUSE: -- right?

SWISHER: Secondly -- yes. No, also, Google is a company, can make whatever rules it wants, and that he broke the rules of Google. And it is not -- you can't say anything you want when you are within a company, especially in this manner, and so he got fired.

VAUSE: We should also note that Google is actually being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor --

SWISHER: Yes. That's ironic.

VAUSE: -- for violating federal laws when it comes to the wage discretion.


VAUSE: I want to read you a part of the department's testimony in court last week. "We found systemic compensation disparities pretty much across the entire workforce." Google's lawyer disputes that claim.

But that is damning for a company with the motto, "Do the right thing," isn't it?

SWISHER: Yes, it is. No, don't do evil.


VAUSE: It's now --


VAUSE: "Do the right thing," yes.

SWISHER: OK. All right. OK.

No, you know, it's interesting because obviously there's pay gaps all over Silicon Valley, and Google is not immune to that. We had the CFO of Google on stage at our conference this year and she talked about wanting to rectify that rather quickly and that they were working to rectify that. They did not want to go over the salary information. I pressed her on why they did not, because probably we will know what it said, that there are massive pay gaps. I think they are genuinely trying to rectify that. But it's a problem suffered all over this country and definitely in Silicon Valley, so.

VAUSE: Yes. And this just seems to be early days in finding out about all of this.

Kara, good to see you. Thanks so much.

SWISHER: Thanks a lot.

SESAY: Well, a new animated film without words has gone viral with a heartwarming message.

[14:49:22] VAUSE: Also, a little controversy. Details when we come back.


[02:51:02] SESAY: Pop star, Taylor Swift, is expected to testify in a civil trial over an encounter with a Colorado disc jockey. David Miller claims he lost his job at CNN affiliate, KYGO radio, after Swift falsely accused him of groping her at an event in 2013. Miller sued the singer, her mother and her radio promotions director. Swift countersued miller, saying his action was not an accident, it was completely intentional.

VAUSE: Meantime, singer, Usher, is facing a lawsuit from two women and a man who say the singer failed to tell them he had herpes, which is required by law in California where the suit was filed. Lawyer Lisa Bloom citing these reports saying Usher was diagnosed in 2009. And an unproven report that Usher settled a similar case in 2012 for more than a million dollars. Bloom says Usher never publicly denied the claims. He has not commented on this latest legal action.

SESAY: A four-minute animated film with no dialogue and about young love is like nothing we've ever seen before. And for many children, it might be exactly what they need to see.

VAUSE: "In a Heartbeat" was made by two college graduate students and tells the story of a young boy that has a crush on another boy, and in the process, it gives us a glimpse of the challenges faced by gay children.




VAUSE: The film has been seen more than 20 million times on YouTube, and most, not all, comments have been positive.

Joining us now is Alonso Duralde, a film critic for

Alonso, good to have you with us.

VAUSE: Thank you for being with us.


SESAY: It's beautifully made. It's heartwarming. The score is amazing. But let me ask you why you think this tale of gay love has gone viral.

DURALDE: Well, I think what's really charming about it is that, so often, whenever we talk about young people in the LGBT community, there's this immediate accusation from certain quarters, oh, you are trying to sexualize our youth. And the thing is that when you are a 6-year-old, 7-year-old, 8-year-old, and you know that you are queer, it is not about sex. It is about love. And really being LGBT is about love. And so this a short film that's a reminder that crushes and puppy love and all of stuff that kids go through, gay kids go through to. Gay kids have crushes on other kids of their gender.

VAUSE: That is why this works because the emotions are universal, gay or straight or whatever. This is honest and raw and showing the young boy has a crush. We have all gone through that.

DURALDE: Absolutely. You know, it is a universal emotion. And I think that -- we are so often to -- we are so used to seeing little kids getting to be romantic or being love-struck or whatever, but we so rarely or never get to see queer kids do that. It's really sort of shattering a taboo that we maybe never even knew existed.

SESAY: Another thing we see is the depiction of the gay kid in animation.


DURALDE: Well, I knew there was a panaraman (ph), actually, one of the teenage characters comes out at the very last seconds of the film. But for the most part it is pretty much -- we're not seeing a lot of Pixar movies or whatever. But -


SESAY: Will this change that, do you think?

DURALDE: I think that is a long road ahead because you always have the excuse, oh, this is for children, we don't want to drag anything controversial or difficult. There's the notion of international markets or whatever. So there is always an excuse to not be inclusive.

VAUSE: Yes. Let's get to criticism because there's been a lot of praise. Here's the criticism. Most of the steaming criticism came from the Life Site, news Web site. I've never heard of it before. But this is what they wrote, "It will further undermine strong, healthy, extraordinary, necessary male adolescent relationships. Once boys and adolescents are herded towards gayness in order to deal with the very common experience of social anxiety, directly questioning their sexual orientation, their sexuality risks becoming rewired. And once rewired in that way, it's hard to un-do."

I think the warning here is don't watch the short film, this short film, because it makes you gay.

[02:55:20] DURALDE: Putting aside the ridiculous and chunk science of that quote, I would argue the opposite. Actually, that homophobia is as unhealthy as it is for LGBT kids, it is just as bad for straight kids. There's a lot of studies now that say that intimate friendships between young boys fall apart because of homophobia. And straight kids think that intimacy and close friendships is something for gay people or something for women. And so you have young boys at a very early age being trained to be tough and independent and losing those early friendships, which leader leads to depression. There's -- I think one out of three adult men over the age of 49 claim to be lonely. Ad that all starts in childhood. And so if we can wipe out homophobia, it is not going to be good for LGBT kids, it can be good for straight boys who will be allowed to have close intimate friendship with other straight boys without second-guessing whether or not that makes them gay.

SESAY: Before we let you go, it is worth pointing out to our viewers, it's a remarkable story. The making of this, two young college students, who did this as their thesis.


SESAY: Two young people who made something incredibly important.

DURALDE: What is so great about the technology now, people are making these incredible films on their laptops or using -- more people have access to the tools now. So more and more were seeing just wonderful powerful little films coming out of somebody's basement or a classroom or places that aren't the big studios.

VAUSE: When you said there's still a long way to go, but, boy, we've come a long way because this wouldn't have been made 10 years ago.


DURALDE: I think the Internet has changed things. Attitudes have been -- have been evolving over time. We do a long road ahead, but we've certainly come a long way.

SESAY: Yes. This is the democratization of media and the tools that enable people to express themselves without having to go through filters. It's a good thing for these moments.

DURALDE: Absolutely.

VAUSE: OK, Alonso, thank you for coming in.

SESAY: Thank you. Thank you so much.

DURALDE: Thank you. Appreciate it.

SESAY: It really is a beautiful film.

VAUSE: It is. If you haven't seen it already, see it on YouTube.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

The news continues with Rosemary Church, in Atlanta. She'll be with you after a quick break.

You're watching CNN.


[03:00:06] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Outrage from North Korea vowing revenge for new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs.