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North Korea Threat; Trump Condemns Racist Groups Two Days after Attack; Car Attack Suspect was Infatuated with Nazis; Deadly Car Attack Investigated as Civil Rights Case. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:07] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: A missile threat maintained from North Korea as the U.S. Defense Secretary warns it could lead to game on.

VAUSE: The U.S. President vows to overwhelming pressure and condemned hate groups by name three days after a deadly clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Virginia.

SESAY: Plus smart phones producing dumbed-down kids. Is the device designed to connect people actually driving youngsters apart? We'll take a look.

VAUSE: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: It appears the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is taking a step back from the brink of nuclear war. According to state-run media Kim says he will quote, "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" before deciding whether to launch missiles into the sea near Guam, a U.S. territory.

SESAY: Well, on Monday he inspected an elite missile unit and is said to be finalizing preparations for launching a missile.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned if that happened it's game on.

U.S. President Donald Trump talked by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Monday night. He's also initiated an investigation of China's trade practices.

VAUSE: A lot here to cover. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea; Ivan Watson standing by in Guam.

SESAY: Also joining us Erin McLaughlin in Tokyo and Matt Rivers in Beijing.

VAUSE: We'll start first with Paula. And Paula -- it would seem the North Korean leader, he might just be the first to blink.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John -- you could say that but you could also say that what we heard from the Trump administration, the top diplomats on Monday was that they were putting diplomacy and economic measures first. So they were pulling back from this -- this very bellicose rhetoric.

We heard from the U.S. president last week the basic fact is neither side wants to go to war. Kim Jong-Un does not want a war. He knows that he would not survive a war. He knows his country would be annihilated. It's been made very clear by the United States.

And the United States and certainly South Korea don't want a war. Seoul would be hit extremely hard. There have been some very devastating estimates of casualties.

So the basic fact is both sides have been quite bellicose in their rhetoric. Neither side though actually wants this to go further than it absolutely has to before they've made their point.

Now we heard from the South Korean President Moon Jae-In just an hour or so ago, it's Liberation Day here; liberation from the Japanese occupation -- ironically a day that both North and South Korea celebrate. So they're both united on this particular day. And he did say during that time that if it was up to him, and it is up to him, war will not return to the Korean Peninsula.



MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We urge North Korea to stop worsening the situation, immediately stop provocations and threatening behavior. There must be no more war on the Korean Peninsula.

Whatever ups and downs we face, the North Korean nuclear situation must be resolved peacefully.

I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours.


HANCOCKS: North Korea saying they're going to wait and see what the Americans do next. Obviously referring to next week, where there's going to be U.S.-South Korean military drills.

The U.S. with General Dunford here just yesterday already said they will go ahead and every time they do annoy North Korea, it's just a case of this time how much higher the tensions are and how much more the North Koreans could be annoyed -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. Paula -- thank you.

Isha. SESAY: All right. Ivan -- to you now there in Guam. And as we've just been saying there's a bit more tempered tone -- a more tempered tone to the rhetoric coming from the U.S. administration and, of course, from North Korea this Monday.

Tell me has this is in some way eased tensions there amongst residents on the island.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the authorities here insist that there has been no change in the threat level since this all began a week ago.

The governor's office insisting that that is the case. The U.S. military indicating that there is no evacuation plan under way for family members of military personnel, no call for that from the civilian authorities here either.

However, it has been a more tense week and some hearts were set a little bit aflutter last night. The authorities did have to address this because an unplanned and unauthorized test of an emergency alert broadcast system went out shortly after midnight on local television channels and that has since been described as human error. It wasn't supposed to go out the way it did.

[00:05:00] And it did strike some fear into some residents who happened to be watching TV at that time. Some also, you know, took it with a grain of salt but there has been some condemnation of this on social media that the emergency alert wasn't then followed by hey this was a test. There was no explanation basically. So the local authorities have put out a statement saying they're going to make sure that this never happens again.

But what that does tell you Isha is that, you know, people are concerned. There's no sign of panic whatsoever. The hotels here are booked, booked solid. You can hardly find a room in the resort hotels that I'm in and the ones that you see along this water front.

But there is definitely some concern among locals so, a little moment like that can spark some concern among people. Unfortunately, this was little more it appears than -- again as the authorities here said -- human error -- Isha.

SESAY: Well, thankfully so. Ivan Watson there in Guam. Thank you -- Ivan. John.

VAUSE: Ok. From Guam, we head on to Tokyo. Erin McLaughlin is standing by there. Erin -- the immediate threat may have passed apparently but the Japanese Prime Minister and the U.S. President on the same page when it comes to the urgency of dealing with North Korea.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right -- John. And they both spoke over the phone just a short while ago. The phone, we understand, lasting around 30 minutes. Prime Minister Abe following the phone call, briefing reporters saying that both he and President Trump agreed that the most important thing -- I'm quoting him here -- is preventing North Korea from going ahead with the launch -- a seeming reference to North Korea's threats against Guam.

Prime Minister Abe went on to say that this would happen quote by having close coordination between Japan and the U.S., between Japan, U.S. and South Korea and with the cooperation with China, Russia and the international community.

And now later this week, in Washington D.C., there's going to be a so- called two plus two meeting. Japan's foreign minister and Defense minister meeting with their U.S. counterparts in Washington, D.C.

A key focus of that meeting will be strengthening the alliance, the military alliance between Japan and the United States. That was at a briefing earlier today with Japanese diplomats sort of going over the agenda there.

And one Japanese diplomat adamant in response to reporters' questions that now is not the time for dialogue with North Korea given the provocations from North Korea which sort of begs the question, if there is no dialogue between the sides in this case, how will they see their way out of this -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. Erin -- thank you for that. Eric McLaughlin, live in Tokyo.


SESAY: To Matt Rivers in Beijing. Matt -- Beijing announced a curb on North Korean imports which has the potential to put severe pressure on Pyongyang. Hours later, President Trump signed a memorandum that directs U.S. officials to determine whether an investigation is needed into alleged unfair Chinese trade practices.

What are we to make of the timing of all of these -- these announcements? In the China, is this them playing ball, at least for now?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears so at the U.N. Security Council. That's what they're talking about when the Chinese have announced this import ban. That is in response to the latest round of frankly the toughest ever sanctions levied against North Korea by the U.N. Security Council.

And because China has a very unique role as the North Korean regime's only major trading ally, most of those sanctions enforcement is going to have to fall on the Chinese. And so what they said is that they are complying with that and that all of those import bans on key items like seafood, coal, iron ore, and the like will go into effect very shortly.

On the other side though, you have the Trump administration really announcing that it's going to consider launching an investigation into unfair trade practices by the Chinese over specific issues with intellectual property rights. The interesting thing about the timing of all this though is that on the one hand, yes China -- the United States has been trying to get China to work with them more on the North Korea issue. But they were initially going to announce this supposed investigation a week and a half to two weeks ago but they actually held off on that according to a senior administration official because the Chinese were helping at the U.N. Security Council.

So it does appear that the United States is able to -- or would be willing to ease up on the Chinese in some respects when it comes to trade. But on the other hand the Trump administration has put a lot of eggs in this basket of playing a hard line with the Chinese on trade. And so this is the first step for its possibly implementing tariffs on Chinese imports to the United States well down the road.

SESAY: Yes. The President did say this is just the beginning.

Matt Rivers joining us there from Beijing. Thank you.

[00:09:55] Now, President Trump is back in New York greeted by crowds of protesters outside Trump Tower. They are angry about what they see as his tepid response to the white supremacist rally in Virginia over the weekend and the death of a counter-protestor struck by a car.

VAUSE: The President initially condemned the violence on many sides, many sides -- but did not specifically call out neo-Nazis or the KKK. On Monday -- take two.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.


SESAY: Well, joining us now CNN political commentators -- Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson, and Republican consultant John Thomas.

VAUSE: Also with us here in Los Angeles, entertainment journalist and social commentator Segun Oduolowu. So Segun -- we would like to start with you.

The President's speech on Monday came two days late. He insisted on talking about the economy first. He then moved on to the investigation by the Department of Justice. He spent less than 20 seconds of a five-minute long speech specifically calling out the hate groups by name. Better late than never?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: It's -- there's nothing that this President now can say to me and I think to a lot of African-Americans two days late, five days late, a week late or even after it happened that would ever get us to think that he has done the right thing.

This is a man that will go on Twitter and lash out within 30 seconds if someone says something about him. And you had people dying in a college town where someone decided to drive a car and run over protesters and his mealy-mouthed, weak, wishy-washy first response -- I mean Pence gave a better response out of the country and he, President Trump, couldn't even denounce Nazis.

When you see the Nazi flag being waved right alongside the confederate flag, when a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke is telling you that they not only voted for him but they support what his agenda is, and now you want to disassociate yourself two days later from the people that are telling everyone that they put him in office.

I find it not only repugnant, to use Trump's words, but if I'm really going to go over the top, I find it to be a punk move. I expect more from my President. I don't need him to be a moral authority but please Nazis -- Nazis right next to the confederate flag and you're telling me two days later.

Did he get permission from Bannon, is that what happened? Did Bannon tell him it was ok for him to now speak up and denounce racist groups --


OLUOLOWU: -- groups that commit violence?

VAUSE: Let's bring John.

SESAY: John -- let me, let me go to you as our resident Republican on this matter. Listen -- someone goes as far as to call this a debacle for the President, the way this all played out, the way it was handled.

I mean he made the statement on Monday after a host of Republicans came out and criticized the lack of naming these groups and talking about many sides. Is this a debacle that the President alone owns? Or is this something that the Republican Party is going to have to deal with as well down the line?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the answer is yes and yes because the President represents the party whether the party likes it or now. And so, you know, the party I think was very quick if you look at every leader of the party except for Donald Trump. They were very quick that night to denounce white nationalisms, Nazism, et cetera.

The President certainly made a mistake here. I mean I like the tone that he struck today. I just wish it had been 48 hours ago.

VAUSE: Yes, unfortunately before he set that tone, the President went out ahead (inaudible) to call Kenneth Frazier who quit the president business panel in protest of what the President did on Sunday.

And then Donald Trump tweeted this. "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to lower rip-off drug prices." A day that took the President 54 minutes to condemn Frazier who was one of the top African-American executives in the U.S.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And this is -- you've got a President who skewers his Attorney General, the Republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, a number of other Republicans and yet he was completely tone-deaf in condemning neo-Nazism, white supremacist, white national --

VAUSE: He condemned Meryl Streep.

JACOBSON: -- right. I mean the damage has been done and all the Republican members who are running for reelection in the House or for the Senate, they're riding the President's coattails whether they like it or not and ultimately this is going to trickle down ballot and impact them in 2018.

THOMAS: And this is also a symptom of low presidential approval numbers. I mean one thing we know about business leaders, forget the color of your skin, is they don't like controversy.


THOMAS: They don't want to be associated with controversial figures, certainly when they have low approval ratings. So it's not surprising to see several people follow right after the Merck CEO.

JACOBSON: And here's the thing -- if I could jump in real quick.

SESAY: Yes, sure.

JACOBSON: Donald Trump's response today was followed by Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right, who said this is Kumbaya nonsense and only a dumb person would believe what the President says.

I mean that's the message that the alt-right, the neo-Nazi movement is taking from President Trump today.

SESAY: Segun -- to go to you, as you heard John and Dave make the point. We've seen these CEOs drop off the President's council, the Manufacturing Council. We know that Merck did this. Intel CEO has just announced he's stepping away.

[00:15:05] The CEO of Under Amour saying the same thing. And he tweeted this. Let me read it to you.

"I love our country and company. I'm stepping down from the council to focus on inspiring and uniting through the power of sport."

Let me ask you this Segun -- how much comfort do people, do minority communities take from seeing these CEOs walk away from the President?

OLUOLOWU: Well, I think that they should not take much comfort at all because this feels like fake outrage to me. You knew what this man was when you supported him. You knew what this man was.

He entered politics by denouncing the first African-American president and asking for his birth certificate. Then he attacked a woman running for president and denounced women and called them all types of sexist names. So this is par for the course.

I don't expect much from this President but I would ask John this. As a Republican, when you have basically sold your soul to the alt-right, to people who are marching the street of a college town, an institution for higher learning, where slaves actually built that university, when they are marching and you own the presidency, you pretty much own the judiciary. You own most of the elected officials and the government.

What country were they -- are they losing? They are the GOP right now. They are the GOP. You are in bed --

VAUSE: Ok. Let John respond -- Segun.

OLUOLOWU: -- you are in bed with the enemy -- John. So please. Look, I love you brother but defend what you guys have done.

VAUSE: Segun -- let John respond -- John.

THOMAS: Thanks -- Segun.

First of all, it is fairly offensive for you to say that I sold my soul to back Donald Trump. To think that the alt-right is representative of the conservative Republican movement is ridiculous.

Donald Trump captured a lower --


THOMAS: Donald Trump captured a lower percentage of the white vote than Mitt Romney. He captured a larger percentage of the African- American vote, the Latino vote and minority vote than Mitt Romney.

So you tell me -- Segun. Is it the alt-right that put Donald Trump in office? It's not. They're a fringe group. The President did make a mistake on Saturday. He should have condemned them immediately but he's rectified that today.

OLUOLOWU: But John -- which mistake are we going to go? The mistake that he tried to rectify today or when he was caught on the Access: Hollywood cameras, or when he was caught talking about the Miss Universe contestants, or when he kept going after the different people in your own party when they were debating him? Small hands and talking about their wives?

Which mistake are we going to finally give him a pass on? And when you have an alt-right leader as an advisor to the President, please don't tell me that you all are not in bed with the alt-right. Really heavy when David Duke on national camera is telling you who they voted for --


OLUOLOWU: -- and who they support.

VAUSE: Quickly -- John.

THOMAS: Donald Trump's disavowed David Duke numerous times. And Steve Bannon is not a leader of the alt-right movement. That's -- SESAY: But he didn't disavow the support today when he spoke up. He

named the group, there's no doubt about that. But again -- the point is for a President who tends to personalize a lot, he had a moment to stand out and say I don't want your support. I stand with all of America. But he didn't. Why?

THOMAS: He's done that numerous times.

SESAY: Yes. But why didn't he do it now when it was needed? When the country was looking to him?

THOMAS: Well, I think the President is believing that you don't need to elevate these people by continuing to name a known -- look David Duke is nothing.

SESAY: He was already naming them. So why not go a step of saying I don't want your support if it wasn't a political calculation as some people feared.

THOMAS: But he's gone through it in the past and numerous times and disavowed David Duke and called him fringe and called him crazy. You know, you're just looking for the President to repeat himself and perhaps he should have --

VAUSE: Well he should have --


VAUSE: Can you denounce these groups too much?

JACOBSON: No. Not at all. Are you kidding me? I mean the Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews. The KKK --

VAUSE: It's very easy to denounce a Nazi group.


JACOBSON: -- wants to annihilate African-Americans. I mean the reality is, look it is a political -- it's a pure political calculus. We're talking about a President who, according to Gallup today, put out a poll that at a 34 percent approval rating that's a historic low for a modern day American president.

And the reality is Donald Trump needs these supporters. You've got nothing left to lose. I mean what -- is he going to be in the 20s after that? I mean then we're looking at real impeachment even among Republicans.

VAUSE: Yes. Dave to that -- I mean look, Steve Bannon, you know, CEO of the Breitbart Web site, he proudly declared that a pipeline for the alt-right -- John. And maybe we say if Donald Trump is genuine about what he says, Steve Bannon has to go. But he's not going to go -- is he?

THOMAS: Oh he's going.

VAUSE: He's going? When?

THOMAS: I'm going to say tomorrow.

SESAY: So we can write that down.


SESAY: You heard it here.

VAUSE: We'll leave it at that.




VAUSE: John and Dave -- thank you.

SESAY: Gentlemen --

VAUSE: And Segun -- you want one last word?

OLUOLOWU: Yes. Put your name to that -- John. If you're going to go (inaudible) and predict that Bannon is going, I want you to put your name to that.

VAUSE: He just did. What do you want?

SESAY: He did.


SESAY: We'll see you all next hour.

VAUSE: Ok. Thank you all.

SESAY: Go cool off. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, we're taking a short break.

When we come back, the man accused of a deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia is said to have been infatuated with Nazis. We'll have more on him in a moment.


SESAY: Hello, everyone.

The man accused of the car attack in Virginia is said to have been infatuated with Nazis and white supremacy. He is suspected of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville.

VAUSE: A 30-year-old woman was left dead after that attack.

Brian Todd has more now from Charlottesville. And a warning -- the images in his report are grave (ph).


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boiling tensions outside the courtside in Charlottesville as the man suspected of driving his car into a crowd of protesters after a white supremacist rally is charged with second degree murder.

Inside court James Fields, the 20-year-old suspect appeared by video link now held without bond on multiple charges. Authorities say he rammed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of people, killing a 32-year- old woman, injuring 19 others.

CNN has learned Fields recently moved to this apartment complex in Maumee, Ohio. He told the judge he works at a security firm, makes $650 every two weeks and couldn't afford a lawyer.

A picture now emerging of a troubled young man with strong white supremacist views, according to those who knew him.

DEREK WEIMER, SUSPECT'S FORMER TEACHER: He had some very radical views on race. He was very infatuated with the Nazis, with Adolf Hitler. He also had a huge military history, especially with like German military history and World War II. But he was pretty infatuated with that stuff.

SAMANTHA BLOOM, SUSPECT'S MOTHER: He didn't mention (inaudible) --

TODD: Fields' mother says she knew her son was traveling to Virginia but was unclear on the reason.

BLOOM: I didn't know it was white supremacist. I thought it had something to do with Trump.

TODD: Fields enlisted in the Army in August, 2015 according to documents obtained by CNN. He reported for basic training but was soon released from active duty quote, "Due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015. As a result, he was never awarded a military occupational skill nor was he assigned to a unit outside of basic training."

A motive isn't yet clear. But according to a Justice Department official close to the investigation, federal investigators may have gathered enough evidence to suspect the accused driver wanted to send a message.

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statutes. You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America.

TODD: And according to a Justice Department source, investigators are looking into whether Fields may not have acted alone.

JOHN FISTWICK (PH), FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The thing that they will look at is not just who was driving the car but who was helping that person, who was an accomplice to this, who was behind this. It will be a wide scope investigation -- as it should be.

[00:25:05] TODD: Even though he said he could not afford a lawyer, the judge said he could not appoint a public defender for James Fields because the judge said someone in the Public Defenders' Office had a relative who was affected by Saturday's violence. The judge did not go into specifics.

We reached out to the attorney who the judge did appoint to represent James Fields. That attorney has not gotten back with us. Also the security firm which employed Fields as a security officer in Ohio has told CNN that Fields has been terminated.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Charlottesville, Virginia.


SESAY: Well, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin joins us now. She's also a civil rights attorney. Areva -- good to have you with us.


SESAY: So James Fields charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, failure to stop in an accident that resulted in a death. Some expressing surprise that this isn't first- degree murder -- have the right charges been leveled here, in your opinion?

MARTIN: I think the charges have been leveled to date. Keep in mind, it's really early in the investigative process. We have the state taking primary jurisdiction. They filed those state charges which he appeared in court on today.

And then we have this federal investigation that was opened right away. The Department of Justice came out really strongly saying that they were going to use all of their resources to investigate to determine if any federal statutes, any federal criminal statutes were violated because the Attorney General also wants to prosecute James Fields if there were violations of federal law.

SESAY: So there's a consideration that it could be prosecuted as a hate crime.


SESAY: Talk to me about meeting that standard, that bar.

MARTIN: So the federal hate crime statute grows out of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It essentially says if you commit an act of violence and you target someone because of their race, their nationality, their ethnicity, their religion, their gender preferences -- that you could be charged with this federal hate crime statute.

And with it comes the right for the prosecutors to seek the death penalty. So the penalties are very, very stiff. SESAY: But isn't it already death penalty --

MARTIN: There's death penalty statute in Virginia --


MARTIN: -- so there wouldn't be a reason for that.


MARTIN: Prosecuting a hate crime is important. It sends a very strong message. It sends a message that you can't target people because of their race or their ethnicity the way that James Fields did in this case.

Let's look at what happened. You have white supremacist, neo-Nazi plowing through peaceful protesters in the middle of the day and essentially a Nazi killing an American that's standing up for freedom, that's standing up for inclusion and diversity.

So if you ever thought about a case that was trying for the hate crime statute, it's this. But there are some wrinkles to this --

SESAY: Like?

MARTIN: -- because the person killed, Heather Heyer, is white --


MARTIN: Although there were African-Americans that were injured. So that's going to be an issue that the Justice Department will have to grapple with to see if the statute is broad enough to cover this case when you have a white victim of the crime.

SESAY: People are also asking why there isn't more talk about this being tried as a domestic terrorism case.

MARTIN: So no doubt this is domestic terrorism. And the definition of that is using violence -- you know, engaging in some act to incite fear, to intimidate with violence. So we saw that. Without question they went to Charlottesville to incite fear, to intimidate, to engage in acts of violence. That's why we've heard everyone from the Attorney General to the Vice President using the words domestic terrorism.

However, the federal law doesn't criminalize domestic terrorism. So it's not a statute that you can actually prosecute someone under. You can attach the domestic terrorism charge to another charge and that gives the federal government these broad powers to investigate.

So look for this investigation to take many arms, many legs. It's going to be massive. We've already heard from James Fields' teacher. We've heard from his mother. We know that the FBI and law enforcement is looking at his social media accounts, his Facebook page.

Everyone that knew this young man, this terrorist, this -- this -- this -- you know, this Nazi that was so audacious as to drive that car in that crowd is going to be talked to and is going to be the subject of this investigation.

SESAY: So all of that being said -- many legs, many hands, many cooks -- a long drawn-out investigation?

MARTIN: Long drawn-out investigation but you notice what happened today in court. The court did not -- the judge would not set bond. I don't this is a case with this individual, this alleged murderer will see the outside of a prison cell.

Think about Dylann Roof. Remember the nine victims in that AME church -- charged with 33 counts of -- under the hate crime statute, sentenced to death. This case has many layers to it -- many similarities to what happened in Mother Emmanuel Church.

[00:29:59] So this case we're going to be following. It's not going to happen. The prosecution won't happen overnight. But I think the first step toward justice for Heather Heyer, for the other individuals in this case happen with the arrest of him and with this judge refusing to grant bond in this case.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Some really important information shared there with our viewers. We appreciate it.


SESAY: Thank you.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We'll take a short break. When we come back, hundreds are dead and hundreds more missing after massive mudslides in Sierra Leone. We'll have more, all the details in just a moment.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


SESAY: More than 200 people are dead in Sierra Leone's capital and the Red Cross expects that number to rise after days of heavy, heavy rain triggered mudslides.

VAUSE: CNN's Farai Sevenzo has more now on the devastation.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Torrential rainfall caused the mudslides that buried homes and people inside them in the early hours of Monday morning in Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown.

But (INAUDIBLE) I'm struck by the way the houses are built on a hilly gradient. It's beautiful in the sunshine but can also cause havoc when it rains. People would have been sleeping at the time and completely unaware of what is coming their way.

And of course, they'd have been totally unprepared for it. A search and rescue mission is underway involving the police, the military and the national security. The Red Cross told CNN that many of the homes affected would have been informal settlements and that they're also helping people affected by these floods.

A presidential spokesperson said that the country has been traumatized by the magnitude of this disaster. Now remember, Sierra Leone has suffered a great deal in the past few years. They were only just recovering from the Ebola crisis which stretched their national health service.

It's more than likely that these floods will affect them even more -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


SESAY: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more.



VAUSE: Every kid wants one; most parents find it hard to say no. But now a new study is asking if smartphones have destroyed a generation. Parts of that study appears in this month's "Atlantic" magazine. It focuses on what it calls the I generation, kids born between 1995 and 2012 and says they're on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades.

Researchers foumd the risk of depression goes up as much as 27 percent for 8th graders who use a lot of social media. And teenagers say they're lonely. Most feelings spiked in 2013 and have remained high.

Joining us now is human behavioral expert and psychologist Wendy Walsh.

Wendy, thank you for coming in because this is so -- such an interesting study for anyone who has kids --


WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIORAL EXPERT AND PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, we both have reason to care about this --


VAUSE: -- OK. So this is looking at a group of kids aged between 15 and 22 years old generation, the generation which has grown up with smartphones, not knowing life without one. One of the most striking findings is this: since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined but the suicide rate has increased as teens have started spending less time together. They're then less likely to kill one another and more likely to kill themselves.

In 2011 for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate. OK. Smartphones with snapchat and instant messaging and Facebook is supposed to connect people, bring them together. But this is sort of dividing them up --

WALSH: Well, I want to remind you when we quoted these kinds of statistics that correlation does not always initially causality. I would venture to say that --


WALSH: -- there are many social factors that make teenagers depressed today and lack of connection with their friends and their family is one. And the one place depressed teens tend to right away is the social media.

So we're going to see that correlation but it doesn't necessarily mean causality.

VAUSE: But it does ring (INAUDIBLE) at least (INAUDIBLE) looked at.

WALSH: It rings an alarm bell because parents see these kinds of statistics and think that's it. I am going to not let my kid have a Facebook -- they don't go on Facebook; they're too young for that.


WALSH: We're the ones who have Facebook.

But they not let out a snapchat or an Instagram and that's it.

But that's like telling your child, I am sorry, you will not get to be on the playground at recess. You must stay in the classroom.

VAUSE: Not going to work.

WALSH: So it's not going to work stopping them from having social media.

VAUSE: OK. (INAUDIBLE) depression was much higher and kids were less mature than earlier generations. Acros a range of behaviors drinking, dating, spemding time unsupervised, 18-year olds now like 15-year olds used to; 15-year olds more like 13-year olds space.

So that's not exactly bad. I mean, it's good that kids are drinking alcohol later, that they're having sex later. But overall, is there a long-term problem with this sort of slower maturity?

WALSH: The big word, phrase that I heard there that rang with me was a lot of time left unsupervised. So what's really going on is we're seesing now we're into three decades where we're seeing dual working parents, we're seeing divorced families, we're seesing blended families and we are not seeing -- because parents are trying to make enough money to survive, we're not spending the amount of time given to the kids.

The most expensive thing a parent can buy their children is their time and it is about spending more time with them. I asked my 14-year-old daughter if they're a kid who spends their summer on her iPhone and she is depressed and she is having suicidal thoughts, what should a parent do?

And she goes, they need to sign her up for stuff.

And really, truthfully, whether --


WALSH: -- I'm not -- it doesn't have to be an expensive camp. It could be the Boys and Girls Clubs. You know, just get them out in the world.

VAUSE: OK, we're almost out of time. There's (INAUDIBLE) questions (INAUDIBLE) kids have the phone, a lot of sexual (ph) pressssure for prrents. But a mom in Texas has started this new national movement. It's It's a website. Parents take a pledge not to get their kids a smartphone until at least the 8th grade. They sign up; they form basically a support group for one another.

That seems pretty drastic. Does that kind of outsrc your responsibility in some way?

WALSH: It create social suicide for middle schollers, is what it does because those kids end up at my house and every other house, logging on with secret accounts on any tablet or any iPad or phone that they find around. And then their parents can't monitor it at all. The answer is be engaged with your children in the tech. Understand it with them. You're not going to be able to roll the clock back to another time and teach them how to use typewriters. You are going to get involved with them, make sure that you follow them on social media, that they follow you, as cringeworthy as that is for a kid, and that you learn together.

And when you stumble upon things that are inappropriate, it's a teaching moment. Let's talk about this.

VAUSE: And to my daughter, Katie, who I know is watching intently right now, because she is on vacation (INAUDIBLE), Katie, good advice. Off the smartphone.

Wendy, thank you so much.

WALSH: Thank you.

SESAY: Very good advice.

Now pop star Taylor Swift is celebrating a legal victory. After four hours of deliberation, a Colorado jury ruled in favor of Swift and her counter lawsuit against a former radio host.

The singer accused David Mueller of groping her at a meet-and-greet in 2013. Mueller was later fired over the incident. The jury also sided with Swift's mother. Mueller had sued her as well, accusing her of interfering with his $150,000 a year contract by making false accusations.

Swift was awarded the symbolic $1 in damages. The pop princess thanked the jury and her legal team for fighting on her behalf. She also vowed to donate to organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.

And that is it for this hour. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Be sure to join us on Twitter at CNN NEWSROOM L.A. for highlights and clips from our shows. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT".

SESAY: And then we'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.