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Outrage Over Trump's African Comments; Nigerian President Vows Justice After Deadly Clashes; California House of Horror; Immigration Impasse Could Hasten Government Shutdown; War in Syria; An Economic Lifeline; Pope Francis In Chile At Start Of Latin America Visit; Sharapova Advances With Straight Sets Win; Man United Cruise To Victory Over Stoke City; Referee Appears To Aim Kick At Player; Fans Evacuated For Fears Stadium Safety. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 16, 2018 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] ISHA SESAY,CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a game of (INAUDIBLE) semantics. What did Donald Trump really say about African countries, whether it was hole or house. Sadly, the emphasis remains exactly the same.

Plus, violence in Nigeria, farmers against herders. Dozens killed in a bloody conflict over fertile lands with many now calling on President Buhari to act.

And California captives, house of horror, thirteen people age two to 29, some of them shackled to bed with chains and padlocks. Their parents now behind bars.

Hello, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. "Newsroom L.A." starts right now.

Well, Donald Trump will mark his first full year as U.S. president this week, but instead of celebrating, he is defensive once again. The president returned to Washington Monday insisting he's not a racist. (INAUDIBLE) Martin Luther King holiday, golfing, not performing community service like his predecessors.

And while the comments about African countries continue to (INAUDIBLE) him, (INAUDIBLE) Republicans in that Oval Office meeting heard Mr. Trump used a slightly different phrase, that the Democrats in the meeting standing by his account.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I don't know that changing the word from "hole" to "house" changes the impact which this has. I stick with my original. I am stunned that this is their defense.


SESAY: The president is attacking Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, saying he is to blame if there is no deal on DACA. That is the program that protects children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Trump insisting again he's not racist as a firestorm still rages over his vulgar comments on immigration. As the nation remembers Martin Luther King Jr. today, the president denies describing African countries as shithole during an Oval Office meeting last week, but a furor is threatening a bipartisan agreement to shield young immigrants from deportation.

TRUMP: We are ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA but I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. And the folks from DACA should know that Democrats are the ones that aren't going to make a deal.

ZELENY (voice over): But it's the president's own words that have also complicated finding a fix for DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, young immigrants also known as "Dreamers."

With the government shutdown looming in just four days, Democrats were pushing for a deal to protect "Dreamers" as part of the broader spending plan, but that potential compromise is now overshadowed by a fight over the president's language about immigrants.

Two Republican senators and a cabinet secretary who attended that Oval Office meeting said the president didn't refer the African countries with a specific vulgarity that Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you, he did not use that word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear it, and I was sitting there further away from Donald Trump and Dick Durbin was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't recall him saying that exact phrase.

ZELENY (voice over): Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who also was in the meeting and did not dispute the president's inflammatory remark called on both sides to elevate the discourse.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's going take you, Mr. President, working with Republicans and Democrats to get this done. It's not going to be done on Twitter, by tweeting. It's going to be done by talking and understanding.

ZELENY (voice over): The president's insistence over the weekend that he wasn't a racist struck a familiar tone.

TRUMP: Racism, the least racist person.

I am the least racist person, the least racist person that you have ever seen. I am the least racist person that you have ever met, believe me.

ZELENY (voice over): Republican Congressman Charlie Dent said Trump's pattern (ph) on race was troubling.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: If it had not been to the fact that the president had previously made statements about Mexicans and Muslims and his failure to denounce David Duke in a timely manner, and of course the Charlottesville situation, I think those previous incidents, I think also are cause for concern, that have made this situation even more alarming.

ZELENY (voice over): Mitt Romney also weighing in today as he prepares to rejoin the political debate through a likely senate run in Utah. The poverty of an aspiring immigrant's nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race. The sentiment attributed to POTUS is inconsistent with America's history and antithetical to American values.

(on camera): And President Trump back in Washington after a three-day holiday break at his Florida resort. A question facing him now, what will he and the Republican leaders in Congress do to keep the government open past that Friday deadline? An immigration deal was supposed to be

[02:05:00] at the heart of a bipartisan compromise. That now looks unlikely. So four busy days here in Washington and only the third week of the year.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


SESAY: Busy, busy, busy. Let's break it all down. Ethan Bearman is a California talk radio host, and Shawn Steel is a California Republican National Committeeman. Gentlemen, as it is the first I am seeing you this year, happy new year, welcome.

Ethan, let's start with you. As you heard in that piece, there is this game of semantics on the way. Did the president say shithole or shithouse about African countries, Haiti, El Salvador? I call that a game of semantics, does it matter to you?

ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO HOST: It doesn't and actually for the first ever I actually call President Trump a racist over this statement. One thing to make a racist statement, when you do it over a series of things, over 18, 20 months, you know, from the Mexicans being rapists, to the Muslims (INAUDIBLE) black eye in the audience, et cetera, this was the culmination for the first time I publicly call President Trump a racist over this incident.

SESAY: To bring in Shawn, White House when this broke last week did not deny it. They did not deny that the president made these comments. In fact, CNN learned that the administration actually believe that it would play well with the Trump base. Now, we have the president coming out saying he was misrepresented. Let me ask you a blunt question, Shawn. I expect a blunt answer. Where do you stand on what the president said?


SESAY: Do you stand with him or do you stand in condemnation of the comment?

STEEL: I stand for the truth. And Senator Durbin is well known gold- plated liar. Obama's own White House rebuked him in 2013 --

SESAY: Let's not do whataboutism --

STEEL: No, no. The truth is, he is not an honorable person.

SESAY: Let's not do this.

STEEL: The six (ph) people only won actually attributes towards the Trump. Nobody else --

SESAY: Let us not do that, because that is not true.

STEEL: In fact is this is left-wing media --



STEEL: There is very low credibility.

SESAY: I'm going to hit (INAUDIBLE). We're not going to do whataboutism this evening.

STEEL: I'm not telling you about whataboutism.


SESAY: So, Lindsey Graham, who attended the meeting --


SESAY: -- confirmed the comment.

STEEL: Oh, not true. Totally not true.

SESAY: He absolutely did.

STEEL: Would you like to read what he actually said to The Wall Street Journal?

SESAY: Yes, he did.

STEEL: He said he said his piece and he wasn't going to stay --

(CROSSTALK) SESAY: The White House did not deny this, so I am going to ask you the very basic question, that the White House did not deny this comments last week. Do you stand for the comments or do you stand in condemnation?

STEEL: (INAUDIBLE) comments including --

SESAY: Well, then say so.

STEEL: -- including Trump. Including the three senators who said he didn't do it. Including the Department of Homeland Security.


BEARMAN: -- they did not. This is the exact phrase.

STEEL: Why are the Democrats trying to destroy a DACA deal? Because that was the only purpose that Durbin went in.

SESAY: You know what?

STEEL: And Durbin is taking a tactic that is going to set back 800,000 illegal immigrants.

SESAY: We will get to DACA. You make a very valid point, Shawn, so we will get that, but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm taking about the comments that were made and I'm --

STEEL: I don't believe the comments were made. That's --


STEEL: -- comments like it, made by anybody. It's unacceptable.

SESAY: Why did the White House not deny them last week?

STEEL: I don't know if you have to deny every day of the week. I don't know about the timing. I don't think that's telling particularly.

SESAY: Of course it's telling. These were offensive comments that offended allies of the United States, countries around the world, countries they engage with diplomatically, and the White House did not condemn them. It is not enough to say it does not matter.

STEEL: Maybe they should have been faster.

SESAY: Be that as you may. We will continue --

STEEL: You can say that. But Durbin on the other hand has himself been attacked by Obama's own White House. The man is not truthful.

SESAY: We know that Tim Scott, Jeff Flake, a number of other Republicans have all come out and said they heard from people who attended the meeting that --


STEEL: Hearsay. How about a military hero like Tom Cotton?


BEARMAN: -- also parsed the words. Parsed the word.

STEEL: Durbin is the one that is changing that story. He is parsing the word.

SESAY: OK, I want you to take a listen.

STEEL: These are right people who hate mainstream media.

SESAY: Pause. I want you to take a listen what Mia Love said. She is a representative. She is a Republican. She is the first Haitian- American elected to Congress. I want you to take a listen to what she has to say and then, Shawn, give me your thoughts.


REP. MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: I still think that he should apologize. I think that there are people that are looking for an apology. And I think that would show real leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were the comments racist, do you think?

LOVE: Well, I think they were, yes. I think that they were unfortunate.


SESAY: What part of what Mia Love said, Shawn, was wrong, the comments, we are going to take it, that they were said, because that is what we heard and White House did not deny them.

[02:10:00] What part was wrong, that they were racist --

STEEL: You know the White House denied it. You know that most of the people in the room denied it.

SESAY: What part was wrong that the president should apologize?

STEEL: But I like Mia Love. I think she's a star. I think she's wrong in this issue. I don't think Trump is a racist. I think he's a (INAUDIBLE). I think he is a rough-talking person behind closed doors and I can guarantee that Durbin will never be invited back to the White House because you can't trust the man. He makes (INAUDIBLE). And that's why his own colleagues don't trust him.

SESAY: OK, so can I just remind you, and let me remind our viewers at home, that President Trump in 2017 said all Haitians have AIDS and also said once Nigerians come to this country, they won't want to go back to their huts. So, it does not seem like a leap in the jump and a hop in a skip that the president would utter such comments. STEEL: I'm not sure he said that, but I'm going to take your word for it. To me, that's no information. It's absurd. It's silly. It's embarrassing. I'm not sure it's accurate. I'm going to --


BEARMAN: -- and the Republicans are going to get --


BEARMAN: -- because Republicans are going to get (INAUDIBLE) with this, cozying up with the alt-right, and now you have Trump in a continuing pattern of statements --

SESAY: Let me finish.

BEARMAN: -- that are racist in nature which adds up overall to being racist and that's what the Republicans face in the midterms and if that's that little minority of the United States that you want to attract and people with --

STEEL: Why do you talk about Nazis, because it was Senator Durbin that equated American soldiers at Afghanistan of being Nazi soldiers.

SESAY: We are not talking about Senator Durbin because he is not the president of the United States. He is not. We are not talking about Durbin.

STEEL: Durbin in the source of this lie. It's a fundamental lie.

SESAY: I do want to just listen to what Representative Val Demings said.

STEEL: Oh, God knows, but if you insist.

SESAY: My show, so you listen.

STEEL: Yes, your will.



REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA: When the president of the United States has to repeatedly say, because of his words or his actions that he's not a racist, we have a definite problem. I think the fact that we are talking about this story, Martin Luther King's birthday, it's just a painful reminder that racism is still the ghost in the room and it has found its way to the White House.


SESAY: Ethan, how much damage has the president's words done? Is it long lasting?

BEARMAN: Well, I'm not sure if it's terribly long lasting, but I think the issue is we have allowed racist to come out of the closet again. We have nationalist, we have extremist on the far-right who feel comfortable going after people. We saw that with the Charlottesville rally. This just exacerbates the problem.

We have now alienated an entire continent diplomatically. I mean, Africa is an extremely diverse continent with a variety of people and languages and he (INAUDIBLE) them altogether and explicitly contrasted all of them with Norway. And there is no getting around the fact that that is a racist statement.

And, yes, we have to face -- South Africa is very upset as they should be. Haitians are very upset as they should be. And we need to work on repairing these relations not just for the countries but with people. People need to come together.

Martin Luther King day, of all days, we need to understand that coming together as different religions, as different ethnicities, different cultures, we are all human beings and we need to be treated equally on this planet.

SESAY: Shawn, I am going to give you the last word, but before I do, I want to make it right clear to you, I am African. I am from the continent of Africa. So, I am offended by the words by the president. But I'm going to give you the last word and ask you whether you care that parts of the world including many parts of Africa believe that the president said this and are offended. Do you care?

STEEL: I certainly care a great deal. Here is what I'm concerned about. How offended are we that Obama called Libya a shithouse? Just two years ago. Now, that was in behind closed doors. It was put in Atlantic magazine. Never refuted by Obama. But I think Libyans as people, they are brown, they are African, they speak Arabic, but to accuse of being a shithouse -- and then you have Lindsey accusing Mexico being a hellhole.

And he said that in public testimony in 2013. are you offended with that? That's my question to you. If you are offended with that, you are consistent. I don't think it's necessary to describe any country because all of our countries at one time were poor, in corrupt, including sad to say, even Ireland.

SESAY: I think it's very interesting that even though the topic at hand is the president --

STEEL: Oh, I see it's not Obama --

[02:15:00] (CROSSTALK)

BEARMAN: We are not making it up.


SESAY: As I said -- as I said, you either waive the president in his comments or you're against him.

STEEL: I don't like to comment if they are untrue. Nobody has proven it is true.

SESAY: We hit pause, because I said so. All right, gentlemen, appreciate it. Thank you.

BEARMAN: Thanks, Isha.

SESAY: Police have arrested a couple after rescuing 12 children held captives in their California home. Authorities are investigating the grim situation. CNN's Stephanie Elam has the details.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we are learning is that early Sunday morning when a 17-year-old was able to grab a (INAUDIBLE) advice and escaped from the home. She called 911 and told authorities that she and her 12 brothers and sisters were being held captives by their parents.

When police responded to the house, they did find 12 children ages two through 29 who are living in filthy condition inside the home and some of the children were chained and padlocked to beds. The parents, David and Louise Turpin, were arrested. They are being held on bail of $9 million dollars each.

And as we look into more about this couple, we do know that they did file for bankruptcy in 2011. Their bankruptcy lawyer telling CNN that they were nice people who spoke lovingly of their children. We were also able to get in touch with the mother of David Turpin in West Virginia, and she said that she spoke to the family just Saturday evening.

She also said that couple is always taking the kids on vacation and the one thing that she did find out is that they always dress the children alike when they went out. And there are images of the couple with their children out and about on social media. They even seem to renew their bows more than once in Las Vegas. And in one of the videos, you can see that the children are present there.

What is not clear, however, is why here in this neighborhood, in this house right here, why they are holding their children in such a fashion, and that's the mystery that everyone still wants to know the answer to.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Perris, California.


SESAY: Very shocking. Up next, the economic lifeline to Pyongyang. An exclusive look (INAUDIBLE) are working and where their wages are going.


SESAY: Syrian state media say the Syrian Arab Army wants to end the U.S. presence in the country. This comes after the U.S. announced plans to form a Kurdish-led border security force in Syria. (INAUDIBLE) Syria are against the plan, saying it will (INAUDIBLE) destabilize the area. Meanwhile, the Syrian government

[02:20:00] has stepped up its (INAUDIBLE) against rebel-held areas in Idlib and eastern Ghouta where civilian deaths are mounting. And there's growing concern. The said crackdown could trigger a refugee catastrophe.

There is a lot to unpack here, so let's bring in Paul Donohoe. He is the senior media officer at the International Rescue Committee. He joins us now from Beirut, Lebanon. Paul, thank you for being with us. Can you tell us what you know about the situation in Idlib right now?

PAUL DONOHOE, SENIOR MEDIA OFFICER, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Right, well, (INAUDIBLE) we think there is around 200,000 people had to flee their homes because of fighting and air strikes over the past month. So most of those were arriving in central and northern Idlib.

SESAY: So, 200,000 have fled. Where have they fled to? What conditions are they facing? What are they enduring?

DONOHOE: So they fled primarily to the center and north of Idlib province. More than two-thirds of them are now actually living in tents (INAUDIBLE). The sites have no toilets. Some have walked to 50 kilometers to reach safety, only bringing what they could carry. (INAUDIBLE) responding. We are providing health care and also cash so that people can buy food and other essentials.

We are hearing terrible stories of (INAUDIBLE) and fear as people fled for their lives. One mother told us how she left behind her baby temporarily because she ran in fear. She said she can't think right. The fear has affected her brain. One woman has said she had to leave behind her paralyzed husband in order to get her nine children to safety.

SESAY: I heard you saying that, you know, IRC is trying to help, giving cash, but, I mean, given the numbers we are talking about, how much help can you give. Talk to me about the response.

DONOHOE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) to see the situation in Syria. Idlib is a province of two and a half million. Almost half of that population are already people that have fled to fighting previous stages of the war. And if we do see the events continue or air strikes continue, then we do worry that people move again and be squeezed into the northern part of the province close to the Turkish border.

These areas which have -- these camps (INAUDIBLE). However, we continue to do as much as we can, provide the health care that people gets what they need, and also to help them financially just so they can pay for food in these early days of being displaced. We know that many people are already skipping meals just to survive.

SESAY: What are the greatest challenges you're facing as your colleagues try and operate in these conditions?

DONOHOE: Well, I think it's the fact that we are not sure if people are going to continue to flee at every stages. The IRC is getting close as they can to where people are fleeing to. And we worry that the air strikes may get worse. What we have to do instead of focusing (INAUDIBLE) essential (INAUDIBLE) perhaps also for the movement of people to the north.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. In terms of conditions in the north, close to the Turkish border, I mean, what is the situation there? I know there is huge concern about the weather here, the Idlib winter.

DONOHOE: Exactly. We are, like I said, over (INAUDIBLE) recent arrivals living in tents. These aren't tents that are going to protect them from the winds that they are experiencing right now. And as I already mentioned, these are sites without toilets and soap, very (INAUDIBLE) conditions that they face.

We know that people are just (INAUDIBLE) in order to have the heat that they need. There are breathing problems especially for elderly people. So we are very worried that these conditions are going to deteriorate further.

SESAY: And that brings me the question in terms of medical response. What does that look like? I know that certainly there have been reports that (INAUDIBLE) regime has been targeting hospitals in Idlib.

DONOHOE: Unfortunately, throughout the world, hospitals have been attacked again and again. We have seen that unfortunately. The medical response that we are currently providing is for those every day problems that people face but still need treatment, trying not to become more serious.

So for the moment, we are treating a lot of people with bad colds and also other effects that just play in their hands. It continues to be a major problem that they are facing and we are trying as hard as we can to reach as many as possible.

SESAY: What are the next 10 days look like for IRC operation? I mean, what's the plan, considering the fear is that more people could be on the move?

DONOHOE: That is the thing that we will be reacting to. So already the numbers fleeing have almost doubled in the past few days. We don't know if that is going to continue.

[02:25:00] Either way, we do see the advance to the front line into center of Idlib and we can expect more and more people to find themselves in the northern province as I mentioned and so then we will divert our attention there.

But these are areas that already have hundreds of thousands of displaced people where people are already struggling to make ends meet, already finding it very difficult to survive. Basically these areas (INAUDIBLE) any more displacement. And so we are worried with the safety of those who arrived, but we will continue to do as much as we can.

SESAY: You know, the description of this being possibly a refugee catastrophe. Would you agree to that assessment, that that is what we could be looking at here? DONOHUE: Well, we are very, very worried that (INAUDIBLE) get worse. If the advance does continue then hundreds of thousands could be caught up in a large scale (INAUDIBLE).

SESAY: Paul Donohoe at International Rescue Committee, we appreciate it. Thank you for all the work you are doing and to speaking to CNN.

Well, the United States and Canada are co-hosting a summit on the North Korean nuclear threat Tuesday. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis will attend the meeting in Vancouver. South Korea and Japan are among the 18 other countries participating, but North Korea's largest training partner, China, will not be attending.

The summit comes a day after the delegates from the north and south held a second meeting in the DMZ. They are working on plans for North Korea to take part in next month's Winter Olympics.

Sanctions against Pyongyang will be on the table at the Vancouver Summit. The U.N. approved new sanctions last month. But so far, they don't appear to be slowing Kim Jong-un's nuclear program. Part of the reason is the (INAUDIBLE) workers in Russia. Matthew Chance has our exclusive report.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Behind these ramshackle gates, a hidden world of North Korean labor where Pyongyang send its (INAUDIBLE) workers to live and to earn hard Russian cash. It is a crucial economic lifeline for Moscow to the sanctioned North Korean regime.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, RUSSIAN POLITICIAN AND DIPLOMAT: Sanctions is the wrong instrument to my mind. This is not the solution to the problems of North Korea.

CHANCE (on camera): So employing these tens of thousands of North Korean workers is Russia's way of going around those sanctions?

KOSACHEV: Absolutely not. We will not go around any sanctions. We are supported by the Security Council.


CHANCE (voice over): We visited thus construction site in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg where the workers are North Korean migrants. U.S. diplomats tell CNN they believe more than 50,000 North Koreans work in Russia, and 80 percent of their wages are paid directly to Pyongyang. It is an important source of funding for the (INAUDIBLE) regime.

ALEXANDER GABUEV, SENIOR FELLOW AND CHAIR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT CENTER: Russia is allowed to keep the workers which they have but not to either enlarge (INAUDIBLE) or introduce new labor or the resign the contracts. And the ambiguity is that nobody has looked into the proper contracts and nobody knows how many years they are allowed to stay. CHANCE (voice over): And the sanctions tightened on North Korea, there were concerns about how Pyongyang uses the cash earned by the laborers who work and sleep and even eat here.

(on camera): What does this look like? It's the canteen of the North Korean workers. Here they are in here, having their lunch. Obviously, this is very (INAUDIBLE). A lot of people just here and it is very important because across Russia (INAUDIBLE) -- come on in. There are thousands of Russians, thousands of North Koreans rather, that operate on North Korean sites.

And the importance of that is that the U.N. says that this is one of the main ways that North Korea funds its missile program and its nuclear weapons program.

(voice over): But Russia denies undermining international sanctions, saying it stands against Pyongyang's military ambition and supports U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for North Korean nuclear restraint.

The money these workers earn, insist Russian officials, is a form of direct aid, keeping North Koreans alive.

KOSACHEV: The money is used to assist people who live in North Korea to survive because they do experience economic and social problems. They cannot imagine a situation where you may (INAUDIBLE) this money and say, look, this money earned in Russia go for the nuclear program and that money, I don't know,

[02:30:00] in Japan, go somewhere else.

CHANCE (voice over): Russia it seems supports efforts to isolate the North Korean regime. It also helps to keep it afloat. Matthew Chance CNN Saint Petersburg.


SESAY: We're going to have a quick break here. A mass burial in Nigeria after deadly clashes of a fertile land. Now the country's president is vowing justice. Details just ahead.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Donald Trump says the top Democrats totally misrepresented his comment during an Oval Office meeting on immigration. The President is back in the White House insisting he's not a racist. Senator Dick Durbin says Mr. Trump used vulgar language to describe African countries.

State media says Syria's army wants the U.S. out of the country. This after the U.S. announced plans to build a Kurdish-led border patrol army. The army says it threatens Syrian sovereignty and will destabilize the area. Turkey meanwhile accuses the U.S. of building an army of terror. Palestinian leaders say the PLO should suspend its recognition of Israel. This follows the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The PLO Central Council says the suspension should only be lifted when Israel recognizes the State of Palestine revokes its decision to annex East Jerusalem and seizes building settlements.

Well, the president of Nigeria is promising justice for those killed in clashes between cattle herders and farmers. 72 people were laid to rest in a mass burial in Benue State after fighting on New Year's Day. The violence comes after a new law which limits cattle breeding. Experts say fertile land is getting to harder to find and Nigeria's population grows. CNN's Stephanie Busari joins us from Legos, Nigeria. Stephanie, good to have you with us. So, these clashes that led to the death of these people, dozens of people are said to be between farmers and Fulani herdsmen but I know that CNN has spoken to representatives of the herdsmen who disputes this and says the Fulanis were not involved. So I guess my question is, what more are learning about what happened?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN DIGITAL HEAD: So the details are still emerging, Isha. But what is clear is that this issue between Fulani herdsman and the local farming community, in fact decades even and, you know, it's an issue that has been escalating over the years and culminated in this New Year's Day attacks.

[02:35:00] Both sides blame one another. In fact, the Fulani herdsmen, the head of the Fulani herdsman tells us that they believe that this bill, this new integrating bill targets them unfairly and stops them from exercising their fundamental right to raise their cattle on that land. But as you say, you know, Nigeria's population is booming. At independence it was 63 million, now it's 200 million. So the issue really is about land, there's just simply isn't enough land to go around as the population grows. So that really is a fundamental issue.

SESAY: OK. There are other who says that the government responds to his tragedy effectively was slow and, you know, inappropriate. I mean, talk to me about the way the Buhari administration responded here. Are those accusations, are those allegations correct that the government fail to respond and is suitably strongly and quickly?

BUSARI: Well, you know, I think the Buhari administration as responded but there is mounting pressure on the -- on the president to be more decisive about action. You know, Buharis deployed military personnel to the area but some feel that it's a little too late, it's coming a little too late. And Buharis also coming under pressure because he is also ethnically Fulani and people feel that he should really just come and say more forcefully -- come out more forcefully against these attacks. They don't feel that he's quite done that. But, you know, he has met a delegation of local leaders, politicians this week and promises. He promised them that he will take more decisive action and try to bring the militants, you know, we don't know that suspected Fulani herdsmen but he's promised to bring these militants to justice.

SESAY: I mean, we're talking about clashes happened Benue State on New Year's Day but these clashes involving, you know, suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue State but they're having clashes between herdsmen and farmers in other states. In fact, three states in total in the spotlight right now. I understand that Nigerian military has been dispatched to all three states effectively, you know, stand ready for any further escalations. My question now is (INAUDIBLE) Nigerians already taking on Boko Haram in the Northeast. What does this mean for the military? I mean, what does it also mean for the fight against Boko Haram if the -- if the stretch if you will because that is what some people are saying.

BUSARI: Yes, yes. It's clear that the military is overstretched. The fight against Boko Haram continues and Nigeria -- the Buhari claims that Boko Haram is technically defeated but there's still carrying out attacks, they're still suicide bombings and just yes -- just earlier today, Shekau, Boko Haram leader released a video effectively taunting the Nigerian military. So -- and Nigeria is fighting a war on many different fronts. They swan in the mid about -- in northeast and also there's growing separatist movements in the southeast that wants to break away from the country. So this is the military that's definitely overstretched. Isha?

SESAY: No doubt about that. Stephanie Busari joining us there from Legos. Stephanie, we appreciate it. Thank you so much for the update. Well, Pope Francis want to bring a message of unity and hope to Chile where he is facing threats and protests of how the Vatican has handled a child sexual abuse scandal. All of that is coming up.


[02:40:55] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Pope Francis will begin his day in Chile. Crowds welcomed him on Monday in the capital of Santiago. Later in the week, he heads to Peru and as our Rosa Flores reports, the Pope was facing threats and protests.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pope Francis is on Chile and soiled, he was greeted by the president of this county and by the military. This trip is supposed to be all about the indigenous communities and also about the environment but violence protests and the clerical effect to the scandal could take over all of the headlines about the violence. There have been at least five churches that have been vandalized since Friday and the vandals left behind a very menacing message saying that Francis was next. Authorities here have been investigation and they say that they have revisited their security plan and also revamped it.

Now, about the protest, Francis has come under fire he appointed Bishop Juan Barros of (INAUDIBLE) which is just south of this Chilean capital. Barros is accused by a sex abuse victims of covering up the abuse of his mentor, a priest named Fernando Karadima. The Vatican has confirmed and found Karadima guilty of sex abuse and Barros denies all of these allegations. You know, and as Francis told us on the papal plane he has been to Chile, he has been to Peru before, he knows this country's history. And he's from South America, so even though this trip could generate some controversial headlines we know that Francis is not one to shy away from controversy. Rosa Flores, CNN, Santiago, Chile. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Looking to follow the post with it for you. I want to show you some dramatic video for you. Firefighters are being held as heroes in the U.S. State of Georgia after they made some astonishing rescues as an apartment on fire near Atlanta. Take a look at this.


SESAY: Difficult to watch. A helmet cam captured the moment when a firefighter caught a child, that is the child being thrown to safety from a balcony. It's something firefighters say they are not trained to do. Another firefighter saved an infant from the same balcony. Gosh. And a woman in a wheelchair was also rescued. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Just thankful that they are safe.


SESAY: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT". You're watching CNN.


[02:45:37] KATE RILEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome along to WORLD SPORT. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center. We are starting with the Australian Open in Melbourne. While Maria Sharapova, return to Melbourne Park toward the first time she's failing a drug test back of the tournament in 2016.

This time though, the Russian was on the Margaret Court Arena facing Tatjana Maria of Germany. Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion made easy work of the 47-rank player. She has swept away in straight-set, 6-1, 6-4.

The Russian is ranked one place below her opponent but (INAUDIBLE) the third round hoping to add to the Australian Open title that she won in 2008. And just by (INAUDIBLE), Sharapova was playing some with the surname, Maria, so, the scoreboard read, Maria Sharapova. We will have plenty of laugh about this one on social media, it made of looks twice anyway.

Elsewhere Melbourne and the 2016 Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber, also had a comprehensive win on Tuesday. She knocked out fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam in straight-set 6-0, 6-4. So far, so good to Kerber, she remains undefeated in this new 2018 season having already won at the Sydney International a week ago.

Have a look at some the other result on Tuesday on the women side. It's been Karolina Pliskova, as well as the Australian boom Brit, Johanna Konta, are also through after a straight-set win in their matches.

Right to Monday night, football in England now, when Manchester United have a chance to close the gap of the top of the day went to 12 points. There were in Stoke City here just announce that Paul Lambert as their new manager.

Told trap and we go while Antonio Valencia, gave the host to lead after just nine minutes. The setter was on the board, thanks to Anthony Martial with the similar goal. And then a third came from Romelu Lukaku. We have the Belgian pounding the ball home from close range there. 3-0, it ends on the night.

Well, that result, breaking news the United fans. Unlike we said earlier, the gap of the top matches, 12 points. United also have a three-point cushion, I revote defending champion at Chelsea and Liverpool.

All right, well, head is a front now, where a League and a referee has apologized say, kicking out nose defender, Diego Carlos, are have been during Sunday's match with Paris Saint-Germain. Controversy, that also saw the officiating question, Tony Chapron, suspended indefinitely by the French Football Federation.

Chapron appears to tangle with the player before apparently aiming a kick in his direction. That was only half a story when the referee send a second yellow card, and he sent off. At least the goodness for the known player is that his red card has been overturned and he now went face suspension.

Unlike the referee, well, in his apology, the ref (INAUDIBLE) his actions were what he called clumsy.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, the match between Porto and Estoril was abandoned at halftime after fears that post of stadium was collapsing. Security officials at the game deemed one of the stands unsafe and fans were evacuated there. Cracks started to appear at foundation of the stands.

And then, police are supported to, therefore, moved out of that stand that stood -- they were 2,500 fans in that stand at the time. The effect the fans put on the pitch and the game was abandoned with Portos saying it was quote due to problems in structure.

Contribute are pouring in for the former England International Football Cyrille Regis. He passed away on Monday at the age of 59. Regis is considered a hero, a pioneer to so many after battling racist discrimination and abuse that mark the English game in the 70s and 80s.

The time when Regis was teammates, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson. Out West Brom, he became only the third black player to represent the English National Team. And we spoke to him recently about he not only survive but thrive in such a challenging environment.


[02:50:00] CYRILLE REGIS, INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALLER, ENGLAND: Well, I think you learn how to deal with the situation. As in the worst, me was getting my first (INAUDIBLE) cap and receiving a bullet for the post. So, and if you put your foot on a when (INAUDIBLE), you got want to do is your knees.

But, over the years, you learn how to turn make negative to positive. When you say right, you're not going to show, you're not going to stop me doing what I want. I'm going to turn that into motivation. And go out and prove you -- prove you wrong and just, you know, and do the best I can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you received that one on the bus, how did that make you feel?

REGIS: Well, this is -- this is five years later. So, you know, you cannot notice on you be of the threat, I showed it to my teammates and I just inspired me to go out and play better.


RILEY: Cyrille Regis, a pioneer, a leader, and an icon. It's being reported that died of a heart attack at just 59 years of age.


RILEY: We're back with action from the NBA, where the second regular- season meeting between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers tip-top Monday night in Cleveland.

Isaiah Thomas wasn't healthy for this first showdown, but the All-Star guard who didn't play on Christmas day was back in action this time. But it was Kevin Durant that got us on talking as he raise down the court, no one was going to get in his way. Not even Lebron James, when the game belong to the forward to be Shawn Marion to the end. Another three-pointer for the Golden State Warriors, thanks to Jerran. And the Californian is winning this one, 118-108.

All right, here's the name you better get used to, Akwasi Frimpong, he's gone as first Winter Game skeleton competitor and going to be at the gains next month. This is an awfully big deal for him and his country.

During the Olympics, he will actually turn 32. Not only will he be the first West African to compete in the skeleton event. But he'll also be the first black athlete to compete in the event at the Winter Games. Earlier, he was speaking to Amanda Davies.


AKWASI FRIMPONG, SKELETON ATHLETE, WINTER GAMES OLYMPIC: No, absolutely not. You know, obviously, when I was growing up in Ghana, I was always at my grandma, Minka. I was really in organized sport because we didn't have much money, made it and have, you know, a lot of resources. But coming to the Netherlands where actually when I discovered sports, and I got into track in field.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What will it mean to you to be standing there at the top of the run in your Ghanaian uniform to represent your country at the Winter Olympics for the first time? FRIMPONG: I did get goosebumps but you just even saying that because now I'm just running everything through my mind what's going to happen holding the flag, walking the arena for Ghana. And actually showing the world that Ghana does exist and that actually does had Winter Athletes. And that Ghana can beat there as well.

[02:55:03] DAVIES: Growing up with your grandma in Ghana, or I think, you were one of eight grandchildren that she helped to bring up. Could you ever have imagined what you will be doing next month in Pyeongchang?

FRIMPONG: Absolutely, no idea. It never even crossed my mind. I wasn't even doing sports when I was about 15 years old. So, yes, you know, life has a lot of different routes and different ways to get where you want to be at.

DAVIES: And what does Holland mean to you? Is there a little bit of you that feels you should be carrying the Dutch flag with you somewhere?

FRIMPONG: It's a mixed feeling, I think the Netherlands means a lot to me. You know, despite all the difficult thing that I went to as an illegal immigrant, the 13 years I'm not been accepted in the country. But the government -- the people of the Netherlands were definitely are rooting for me.

My family there in (INAUDIBLE) south-east was rooting for me. So, yes, there is a little bit of mixed feelings. But, you know, to make it all up and to make it all fair, there's three flags behind my sled. So, we did at the Ghana flag, the Dutch flag, and the U.S.A. flag. So, I'm contributing to everybody a little bit.

DAVIES: Above all the Winter Olympics fall, to the past you that a pretty crazy, but this one has to be up there going face first with your nose centimeters from the ice.

FRIMPONG: You know, my wife told me in the summer, 2015, that I -- she doesn't want me to be 99 years old and still be winding about my Olympic dreams. So, she definitely gave me to go ahead to give it a try, and begin we want to see what if, what if.

So, I would put all my energy, and time, and effort into it. And my wife was working two jobs while I was sliding head first. In taking care my baby as well. So, it may have the (INAUDIBLE) there, but again the support system has been important.

DAVIES: What has the reception been like for you amongst the rest of the world skeleton community?

FRIMPONG: I think, Davies, the people think it's a great idea to get more different nations in the sport. I think that's good for the Olympic spirit and good for the sport. But obviously they had also been, you know, mixed feelings of people, I feel like the world, the African doesn't really belong in snow or doesn't belong in ICE. And I am here to prove them wrong. And that's first to start with qualified for the Olympics. (END VIDEOTAPE)

RILEY: That a great story, we wish him all the best of life. That is it from us, thank you so much for watching. I'm Kate Riley, stay with CNN, the news is next.