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Gunman Confessed To Florida High School Shooting, Police Say; Nathan Chen Stumbles Again In Short Program; South Korea Wins First Olympic Skeleton Gold Medal; Highly Anticipated Marvel Film Opens Nation Wide Release. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 16, 2018 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, the Florida school shooter makes his first appearance in court, as people across the United States debate if anything can be done to prevent the next tragedy.

VAUSE (voice-over): The man who Nelson Mandela once hoped would succeed him has been sworn in as South Africa's new president.

Can he bring an end to the political corruption and abuse of power?

SESAY (voice-over): And later the international opening for "Black Panther," which hopes to smash box office records while breaking new ground.

VAUSE (voice-over): Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us for this third hour. I'm John Vause.

SESAY (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: We begin with community in mourning for 17 people, gunned down in one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history. And many are asking how a 19-year old with a disturbing online profile was able to get his hands on a semiautomatic weapon.

VAUSE: Thousands gathered for a candlelight vigil on Thursday night to remember the 17 live lost. Among them Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime.


FRED GUTTENBERG, VICTIM'S FATHER: I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe. My job is to protect my children. And I sent my kid to school. In the morning, sometimes things get so crazy she runs out behind and

she is like, I got to go dad, bye. And I don't always get to say, I love you. I don't remember if I said that to Jaime yesterday morning.



His daughter, along with everybody else, was shot dead by Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school. He's now confessed to the mass killing, facing 17 counts of premeditated murder.

There was a brief court appearance on Wednesday. Cruz was denied bail. His lawyer says he is now under suicide watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a broken human being, he's a broken child. It's just the sadness that this community is feeling, I mean my children are -- they go to school in this community. I feel horrible for these families. And Mr. Cruz feels that pain.


SESAY: Joining us now here in L.A., CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI special agent, Steve Moore, and criminal behavioral analyst, Laura Richards.

VAUSE: Also we have CNN political commentators Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.

SESAY: Let's start with Steve and Laura. Good to have you with us.

Steve, we have a confession and a host of unanswered questions.

But what a lot of people are contemplating in the hours after this tragedy is, could this have been prevented?

Given that he had that YouTube post, in which he said, I'm going to be a professional school shooter, people are troubled by the fact that the FBI was aware of this posting. Take a listen to how the FBI is responding before you give your take.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel.

The comment simply said, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

No other information was included with that comment, which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment.

The FBI conducted database reviews, checks but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment.


SESAY: All right. So Steve, they were unable to identify the person who made the comment. But we have since learned that they did also get two threat reports about the shooter.

Did the FBI drop the ball here?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to say they dropped the ball. I think they could have possibly done better. And I know that sounds really astounding to say at this point.

But here is what's going on in the field offices, 59 field offices every day. You are getting, in small offices, 10 to 15 of these kinds of cases every day; 99.9 percent of them are what we call nothings. They never pan out to be anything. The agent --


MOORE: -- there or the agents there did due diligence to try and see if they could locate him, basically saying is there anything out there about this guy, anything on file that would show that there is a Nikolas Cruz who is dangerous.

They were unable to do it. Make no mistake, the FBI has the technology to find who that particular Nikolas Cruz is. But it's kind of like triaging.

What other cases do you drop for this case when all you have is a statement.

SESAY: OK, but let me ask this.

And then, Laura, I want you to weigh in.

They got these threat reports but as I understand it, those weren't passed to local authorities.

MOORE: Right.

SESAY: So you talk about triage...


SESAY: -- why not hand it over and at least cover your bases on that front?

MOORE: Well, see, the police in Florida had the threat reports on Cruz. The office that was working -- the FBI office was working the threat was Mississippi. So there was no there was no cross- pollenization (sic) there. There is no database right now on these threat situations.

And I think that's where we're going to have to go as a nation. And though it sounds somewhat Orwellian, there needs to be some system where we track threats.

SESAY: Yes, I don't know about Orwellian or just put in place safeguards to keep people safe.

MOORE: Well, that's what you and I would believe.

SESAY: Laura, you believe there were numerous red flags and warnings here that were missed.

What are you referring to specifically?

LAURA RICHARDS, CRIMINAL BEHAVIORAL ANALYST: I do believe there were lots of warning signs here and certainly domestic violence, domestic abuse is the thing that tends to be overlooked when talking about gun violence. We've got to remember about 57 percent of all cases has a domestic violence history. He was expelled because of his domestic violence.

SESAY: We haven't been able to corroborate why. We just know it was a disciplinary matter, is all that the authorities are saying, although there are reports that he had had some fracas (ph) with his ex-girlfriend.

RICHARDS: The euphemism "trouble with a girl." But then there was another report that he was stalking one of the neighbors, a female. And it's not just the domestic violence and the stalking. There is all the posts online, the threats other students talked about, talked about the harassment.

Everybody said that he was a grudge collector and took revenge on people. They said that he was the "weirdo" and that he stood out. And so all of these things start to become cumulative.

But I really do think that the link with domestic violence is the thing that's not taken seriously. Domestic violence is always seen as a misdemeanor here. And actually, if you're prepared to abuse or hurt people the you love and care about the most, what are you prepared to do to people that you don't care about?

SESAY: Let me ask you about triggers, because that's always a question, what would have triggered this individual. We know he came from a broken family life, if you could call it that. He had an adoptive parent, a mother, who died back in November. He was taken in by a friend's family.

Could the passing of the mother, the adoptive mother, have been the trigger for this?

RICHARDS: That may well have been a trigger, along with the breakup of a relationship. Valentine's Day in particular, that was chosen specifically. You think about what Valentine's Day signals and means to people. He chose a particular time and a particular place. He chose 2 o'clock because he knew that there would be a higher body count. That was deliberate and premeditated. This is somebody who wanted a high body count and it was a target-rich environment. He had planned everything. He went in there with an automatic weapon, smoke grenades, a gas mask. You know, this is somebody who was very planned, very prepared. He had been ruminating on it for a long time. His posts were months ago, saying he wanted to be a professional mass shooter.

SESAY: OK, so that point, I want to play some sound now from the family that took him in, their lawyer, Jim Lewis, because he paints this individual slightly differently. Take a listen to what Jim Lewis had to say.


JIM LEWIS, ATTORNEY FOR CRUZ'S ADOPTIVE FAMILY: They didn't see a mentally ill person or they would have never let him live in their home. These folks opened their home out just to try to help the young man because he really had no other place to go.

They didn't see any danger. They didn't see any kind of predilection that this was going to happen. And they are horrified just like everybody else.


SESAY: Steve, that contradicts everything else that other people are saying, you know, the "weirdo" and all the rest of it. Again, Laura, Steve, both of you were in here. That would suggest, if you were to take Jim Lewis' point of view, that there was some kind of mental break here because he did not appear dangerous.

He said they wouldn't have taken him in to their house if he was a danger.

RICHARDS: Look, it depends on what you are talking about when you are saying a danger. We have psychopaths who walk among us. They don't have two heads. So psychopathologies can be difficult to detect.

I'm not saying this is somebody weird, a clear mental health disorder. And saying that this is just about mental health, I think, is very short-sighted.


RICHARDS: We know that many people who are mentally ill do not commit serious violence. This is somebody -- and this is why it's always about asking the right questions. Many people at that school said they were not surprised that it was him.

So listening to community intelligence, what teachers are saying, what pupils are saying, what ex-girlfriends are saying is very important.

SESAY: Why does that contradict what Jim Lewis is saying?

That's my point.

If the students and the teachers are saying one thing, why is Jim Lewis saying they didn't pick up on that? RICHARDS: Well, it depends on how long he had been living with them, how much time he actually spent at home. This to me, it strikes me that he was someone who was a bit of a loner. And maybe he wasn't spending that much time at the house and when he was there, he held it together.

There are masks that people wear. And people compartmentalize things and can appear in one setting to be one thing. But again, sometimes when it's right under our noses, we don't see it. And other times when something catastrophic and awful happens, people do distance themselves from it.

And they can go into denial. And I'm not saying that's what's happened here. But I'm saying that if people do ask the right questions, they will start to see the warning signs. You scratch the surface and you start to see warning signs there.

SESAY: Steve, we're almost out of time but last word to you, last 30 seconds to you.

MOORE: I was going to agree with Laura. Psychopaths can be anything to anybody whenever they need to. The one thing he needed was a place to stay and that's why he didn't appear that way at home.

SESAY: OK, Steve Moore and Laura, we appreciate it, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

VAUSE: The U.S. president plans to travel to Parkland, Florida, to meet with families, survivors as well as local officials. For now, though, there is no official word on when that will happen. On Thursday, he addressed the nation and promised to tackle what he called the difficult issue of mental health.


TRUMP: I want to speak now directly to America's children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you.

Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.

Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation's governors and attorney generals. We are making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.


VAUSE: But the president made no specific mention of what can be done to stop the next mass shooting and prevent the senseless killing of innocent children, like 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. Her mother has made a desperate plea to the president to try and do something.


LORI ALHADEFF, VICTIM'S MOTHER: How, how do we allow a gunman to come into our children's school?

How do they get through security?

What security is there?

There is no metal detectors. The gunman, a crazy person just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child's door and starts shooting, shooting her and killing her.

President Trump, you say, what can you do?

You can stop the guns from getting into these children's hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools.

What can you do?

You can do a lot. This is not fair to our families and our children go to school and have to get killed.

I just spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter's funeral, who is 14. President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now.


VAUSE: It was a powerful moment. Let's bring in CNN political commentators Dave Jacobson and John Thomas.

OK. That was one of those moments that, you know, so incredibly moving, that (INAUDIBLE) it's hard to forget what that mother was saying.

So, John, with that in mind, how can the president speak for almost 10 minutes after one of the worst school shootings ever and never use the word "gun" apart from reference to police responding to gunfire?


JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we're not there yet. We're going to have that conversation. We don't know; when he we spoke, we still don't have all the facts, John. And the fact is we don't know if this was strictly a failure of law enforcement.

It seems like in your last segment seems like any teenage boy or girl with an Instagram account could have sleuthed this thing and figured out that this guy was a real danger. Right. So why did law enforcement fail?

Why are we not hardening these soft targets, and whether it's like and here in the L.A. school system we have metal detectors at almost every front door. There are things that we can do, both on a local and federal level. I'm sure we're going to figure that out over time.

But I think what President Trump was trying to do was to show empathy in the moment and not start pointing fingers.

VAUSE: OK. Well, that was teleprompter Trump that we heard talking about Florida. Earlier there was Twitter Trump, putting this out.

"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again."

So David, apart from the fact that authorities were told, Twitter Trump seems to come very close to blaming the people of Parkland, Florida, for all of this.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Enough is enough. A Quinnipiac poll came out three months ago in November; 95 percent of Americans, John, want strengthened background checks; 65 percent of Americans want tougher -- want a ban on high-capacity magazines or assault weapons.

The fact of the matter is, in Florida, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun and there is a three-day waiting period to get that gun. You have to be 18 to buy an AR-15 and it takes minutes.


THOMAS: He bought this a year in advance.

VAUSE: OK, John, so it's too soon for a policy debate on gun violence. But when a terrorist drives a car into a group of people on Halloween in New York, that policy debate about immigration, that happens like that. That happens in an instant. And we didn't know all the facts then.

But the President jumped in, Sarah Sanders jumped, the entire administration, boots and all, they were talking about immigration and end chain linked immigration, all this kind of stuff.

So why is it OK then but not OK now?

THOMAS: It's certainly a more complicated debate. I mean, there is no simple solution.


THOMAS: Dave, he bought the gun. He bought the gun a year ago. This is premeditated. This would have --

JACOBSON: A murder --

THOMAS: -- background check would not have caught this guy.

So unless you're advocating for total confiscation...


VAUSE: We're talking about the timing of a policy debate. Why is it OK to have a policy debate when there is an act of terrorism and the president jumps in and doesn't have all the facts but it's OK, he's out there, advocating policy changes in an instant?

THOMAS: And I don't think he should within the first 24 hours.

VAUSE: But he does.

Why not this time?

Why not when it comes to shootings, mass shootings, domestic terrorism?

THOMAS: Well, obviously it aligns with his policy perspective.


THOMAS: And his policy perspective. In any of these instances, we got to wait to get all the facts before we have the conversation.

VAUSE: OK, well, we're having the conversation where it's all about blaming mental health for gun violence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we make sure these individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: As you know, mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies. That may be the case here today, based on early reporting.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This individual appears to have significant issues with mental illness. I think we will certainly be asking, were there signs of mental illness?

Could we have stepped in and prevented this beforehand?


VAUSE: So, John, it's all about mental illness?

So we have had the Las Vegas shooting, the worse mass shooting ever in the U.S.

We have the Texas church shooting, again, all of this mental illness?

What has the administration done to address this problem?

THOMAS: They said they're working on it today. I mean it's a good point. They could have been doing more. You know they're focusing on the opioid crisis and they weren't focusing on this. You're right.

VAUSE: Dave, tell us what they haven't done when it comes to all of this because what they've actually done, they've made it easier for those who are mentally ill to actually get a gun.

JACOBSON: Yes, precisely. And they haven't done anything to enhance gun safety laws. The fact of the matter is, Republicans, starting at the top with President Trump, going into Congress, they are not executing the will of the people.

People want tougher background checks. They want a ban on assault weapons. And the fact of the matter is these Republicans are cowards. And they have blood on their hands. They take the money from the gun lobby and the NRA and they execute their agenda but not the agenda of the American people. It's deplorable.

VAUSE: Marco Rubio, number six on the list of recipients of contributions from the National Rifle Association.

THOMAS: I think you're overplaying the value of the NRA to these -- a lot of these elected officials, members of Congress, strongly believe in the Second Amendment. Yes, the money doesn't hurt but it's not about the money. They go in with these strong held beliefs.

VAUSE: I'm just going back to the issue of mental health because, in 2015, a psychologist at Columbia University --


VAUSE: -- analyzed the numbers in a database of all the shootings over a period of time. Found only 52 out of 235 killers or about 22 percent were mentally ill. And the conclusion was, the mentally ill should not bear the burden of being regarded as the chief perpetrators of mass murder.

And so, Dave, apart from this mental health thing being just plain wrong, it is outrageous and it's an unfounded slur on people who actually are struggling with mental health issues.

JACOBSON: Look, I don't want to discount the mental health issue, John. Like and I think that's a bipartisan issue. Like Donald Trump should get started on that yesterday. And I think Democrats would meet him halfway and clearly want to address this issue and get something done.

But I also think that the America people overwhelmingly believe that these guns are out of control.

VAUSE: Because John, America doesn't have a mental health issue any worse than anywhere else in the world. It has a gun violence problem worse than anywhere else in the world.

So why does it keep coming back to mental health for Republicans?

It's just such a convenient talking point and then they don't do anything about mental health.

THOMAS: Well, they should do something about mental health. And it's one of the reasons -- I know you were alluding to Dave about why Trump rolled back an executive order that made it easier for people with mental health issues to get firearms, that was backed by the ACLU and the Mental Health Association of America.

Because you're right, it is unfair. It's still a challenge. John, I wish there were a perfect solution here. I don't have the answer today. I know it looks like it was a failure of law enforcement and we need to fix that. Cooperation just like we did after 9/11, why different agencies weren't talking to one another so we can stop these things.

But simply confiscating guns, I don't believe, or tougher background checks is not going to solve these situations.

JACOBSON: Well, even like the bump stock issue after the Las Vegas --


JACOBSON: -- I'm saying Las Vegas, though, that could prevent another Las Vegas from happening again --


JACOBSON: -- Republicans refuse to move.

VAUSE: Everything that gets tried eventually dies in Congress. This country has so many mass shootings you literally cannot count them.

Anyway, thank you. Obviously this is a debate which goes on for some time. And appreciate you guys being with us. Thanks.

SESAY: We are learning more heartbreaking details of the 17 victims killed in this horrific crime, lives cruelly cut short. The victims, all of them, teachers and students alike, lived vibrant lives full of talent and ambition.

Like 17-year-old Nicholas Dworet, a star swimmer just months away from graduation. Nicholas would have headed for the University of Indianapolis this fall.

VAUSE: Alaina Petty was 14 years old, a community leader. She volunteered last year after Hurricane Irma struck Florida. Her family says she was vibrant and determined, loved to serve others.

SESAY: Aaron Feis was 37, the school's assistant football coach. When the shots rang out, he used his body as a shield to protect a group of students. Those who knew him say he was the kind of person who would put himself second.

VAUSE: Scott Beigel, geography teacher, who will be remembered as a friend also a hero, he died to trying to rush his students back into the classroom after the shooting began. One of the students told CNN she will never forget how he saved her life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He still will -- forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom. And if his family is watching this, please know that your son or your brother was an amazing person and I am alive today because of him.




VAUSE: In the wake of the Florida school shooting, many in the U.S. are looking to Australia as an example of gun reform. The turning point there was the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 when Martin Bryan (ph) killed 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle.

Among other reforms, Australia banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons and in most cases and then the government bought back hundreds of thousands of weapons from their owners.

Sam Lee is the chair of the organization Gun Control Australia. She is with us now from Sydney.

Sam, thanks for taking the time. Australia really is the gold standard when it comes to a response to a mass shooting. The difference in Australia seems to be that the gun lobby, at least back then, didn't have the same political clout as the NRA does here.

SAM LEE, GUN CONTROL AUSTRALIA: It wasn't at the same level as the NRA. But there definitely was a very strong gun lobby presence when Australia changed its gun laws. The key, though, with the 1996 amendments (INAUDIBLE) swift. Our prime minister at that time was John Howard; he had only been in office 57 days. And he had initiated this change in legislation.

It was swift, it was immediate and it had the backing of the public.

VAUSE: Yes, 20 years on, I guess out of all the measures that were put in place, it's the gun buyback program I think which is seen as having the greatest impact, that was about 650,000 firearms all up, right?

LEE: That's correct. There was probably three main pillars that we could refer to and that was a national registration system, a national licensing system and one key aspect which is different to America, is that the law instigated that gun ownership was a privilege rather than a right.

These particular pillars have carried through throughout the last 20 years and has meant that Australia has not seen a gun massacre within that 20-year period.

However, Australia wasn't without its problems before that time. Before the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, there were 13 other gun massacres, where five or more people were shot dead, in an 18-year period. So it's pretty significant that since that time of 1996 we have not seen a massacre since.

VAUSE: Thirteen shootings seems an incredibly small number compared to the U.S. And I guess the big difference in Australia, you look at gun ownership as a right. Here in the United States, it's a -- it's a privilege, rather. Here, it's a constitutional right, it's the Second Amendment and that, I guess, is the intractable problem that lawmakers face here, right?

LEE: They do and also that you have so many different states that have different legislation. In Australia, we have now what's called a national firearms system. And so each state territory must adhere to a federal type of legislation.

But in the States we have so many different types of legislation. It's very difficult. However, I do have hope because, in different states in America, I understand that they are moving quite swiftly to try and instigate stronger gun laws in each state. And I think that's probably a way forward.

VAUSE: Connecticut for example, where Sandy Hook happened, the toughest background checks in the country, crime has fallen massively, which is a good example.

But again, this is something which seems unsolvable right now in the U.S.

Sam, good to see you and I appreciate your time.

LEE: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, next on NEWSROOM L.A. South Africa's new president wants to clean up the country after years of corruption and scandal. We're live in Johannesburg next to hear just what that will take.


[02:31:40] VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, a former student commits -- he carried out a shooting rampage at a Florida high school. The 19-year-old faces 17 counts of premeditated murder. The judge has denied bail. Thousands of people gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of Wednesday's massacre.

VAUSE: The body of Filipino women which had been stuffed into a freezer in Kuwait has returned home. Joanna Demafelis was found dead in her employer's home on Wednesday. The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has now ordered a ban on overseas workers traveling to Kuwait.

SESAY: While South Africa's new leader set to give a State of the Nation speech Friday evening local time. It's Cyril Ramaphosa first full day as president. He was sworn in Thursday hours after the scandal ridden dig of Zuma stepped down. Mr. Ramaphosa is promising to crack down on corruption. Let's get more on all this now from Eleni Giokos. She joins us now live from Johannesburg. Eleni, good to see you. So this State of the Nation address that we are awaiting later Friday, the first from Ramaphosa of course, what is it -- what does he need to say to the South African public? What are they keen to hear from him?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They want to hear a range of things from cracking down on corruption, cleaning up the ANC to a little bit of news on how he is going to turn the economy around, how is he going to deal with 26 percent unemployment with anemic growth, with the credit rating agencies that have been circling for a very long time, and also downgraded South Africa's bonds to junk status. There's a range of things that he needs to address and it's not just about the right messaging but ensuring that he's going to put things into action. Another important point would be when is he going to change the cabinet. As it stands right now, the people at the top in key profiles are Zuma men. He's going to have to give a bit of information when he's going to conduct the cabinet reshuffle. And Isha, that could happen in the next couple days.

SESAY: Yes. And that position of finance minister is critical here.

GIOKOS: Yes. Absolutely. You know, it was interesting when the State of the Nation address was delayed by Jacob Zuma when it was cancelled. It was a catalyst to things happening very quickly and to where we are today and it really all stemmed around the national budget which is meant to be happening next week Wednesday. They knew they couldn't change the date for the national budget. It's very key and, of course, the finance ministry position is also very important. People want the current minister out, Malusi Gigaba. He actually spoke to CNN a few days ago which is interesting. He said that he wanted Zuma out but he's known to be a Zuma man. It's almost as if a lot of politicians are trying to secure their position in those profiles but it's likely that Cyril Ramaphosa is going to get rid of Malusi Gigaba. And come Wednesday, we'll hear a budget from another minster. And remember, you know, things happening so quickly. It almost feels as if this planned, you know, a new finance minister that's going to be put in place likely would know what to do and would have been prepared. These are the things that people are predicting. And I'm telling you the, you know, the business community wants a new person at the top of the treasury.

SESAY: As you say and things are moving quickly as you take note of the speed. How long will Cyril Ramaphosa get? How long will his honeymoon period last if you will before the investors, the business community, the ordinary South African, you know, starts to judge him I guess harshly if you will?

[02:35:25] GIOKOS: Well, it's a good question. I mean, you know, at the end of the day Jacob Zuma's term officially would come to an end next year. Some are saying that Ramaphosa has about a year to prove himself. But let's take a step back. We're talking about a wealthy businessman here. He is one of the richest man in South Africa. He has been in, you know, mining, and telco, as well as fast-food. He's the man that brought McDonald's to South Africa. This is important information because he knows how to move quickly. You know, when you're in business, you have to act very quickly if you want to capitalize on opportunities. And I think that's what Ramaphosa is probably going to do in the next year to try and prove himself and one of the important things is sorting out state capture, cleaning out the rot, and ensuring that people have been involved in corruption including the former President Jacob Zuma are going to be taken to task. And just a few days ago, we saw a raid conducted at one of the residents of the Gupta family, a family that's been implicated with the Zuma family as well of corrupt activities there. And it's got the whole marks of a new ANC or perhaps a new administration that's going to do the right thing.

SESAY: Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family all denying wrongdoing. Eleni Giokos joining us here from Johannesburg. Appreciate it. Thank you. Well, Amnesty International says Jacob Zuma's presidency was tainted by multiple human rights violations. Cyril Ramaphosa has a responsibility to tackle them wholeheartedly. Shenilla Mohamed is executive director for Amnesty International South Africa and she joins me now from London. Shenilla, thank you so much for being with us. So Zuma out, President Ramaphosa is in. Talk to me about the human rights violations you believe are casting a shadow over this new chapter in South African politics.

SHENILLA MOHAMED, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SOUTH AFRICA: Hi, Isha. Thank you so much for having me. I think that we're moving into a new era in South African politics with Cyril Ramaphosa now at the helm. During Jacob Zuma's reign and prior to that as well, South Africa have seen a massive surge of human rights violations. You know, a case in point is Marikana. This is in 2012 when the police shot dead 34 miners at a Lonmin mine in Marikana and, you know, at the time, the miners were protesting for a living wage. They were getting over 4000 Rand. They were asking for 12,000 Rand. And they were shot dead in cold blood by the police. It's been almost six years now. There has been no justice for those -- for the victims of that massacre. And, you know, the families have seen no compensation. There's been absolutely nothing done. And this is despite a judiciary commission that really set out very strong recommendations calling for action against at least 72 people who were implicated in the massacre. So, you know, we have that on the one hand. South Africa has a really high rate of violence against women. I mean women are raped, you know, I don't want to just throw out stats. But women, the levels of violence against women where they see domestic violence, sexual violence, one of the highest in the world. South Africa has massive inequalities. You know, the number of killings that go on there on a daily basis. In the run up to elections, you have political killings. So, you know, people's human rights are violated on a daily basis in South Africa and we have not seen any firm commitments or action coming from the government, and this is the time now for Cyril Ramaphosa to actually step up. You know, he was tainted during the Lonmin -- during the massacre of Marikana because he was on the Board of Lonmin at the time that it happened. And so this is the time for him to really now step up and, you know, show leadership and show commitment to the people of South Africa because South Africa is -- yes. Sorry.

SESAY: No, no. I didn't mean to cut you off. But with regards to the Marikana issue because you make the important point that Cyril Ramaphosa is on the board -- is on the board at the time of the massacre there where these dozens of people were killed. Now, that he's president, is this considered to be a key test for him beyond the human right community in which you are a part? Is this something that ordinary South Africans are talking about and will also be looking to hold him accountable for?

MOHAMED: Definitely. And I think that, you know, this will be his moment where he will either fall or stand because the fact that he was implicated in the Marikana massacre despite being cleared by the commission who said that, you know, he could not have known what would have happened. But the fact that his name is there means that, you know, people are looking to him to see what he's going to do about it. And as your previous speaker said, this is a man with enormous wealth.

[02:40:12] This is a man who has the political credentials coming from the struggle. So people are really looking for a new era, you know, the Jacob Zuma-era was one of stress -- was one of, you know, where people just -- was appalled by what was happening on a daily basis. So they're looking to go back to a South Africa that is inspirational that carried the hopes and dreams of the people during, you know, when it gained independence. The Madiba dream, the Nelson Mandela dream and they're looking for Ramaphosa to take us back there. And this is going to be his test whether he does or not.

SESAY: Yes. It is a big test, you know, it starts in the century year of Mandela's birth, so of course there's all of that symbolism. We shall see. We shall see what he does next. It's a big moment for South Africa. Shenilla Mohamed with Amnesty. Thank you.

MOHAMED: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Well, next here on Newsroom L.A. There has been a major upset at the Winter Olympics. Amanda Davies wants another sandwich possibly. It could be say --

SESAY: Those are the chips.

VAUSE: With the -- it could be the chips. It could be something with the competition. We just have to wait and find out. Back in a moment.



VAUSE: It is. Well, it's snow and people.

SESAY: I feel like I should -- what's happening. Now, to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Seven medals are up for grabs on Friday. It's been a long week and already (INAUDIBLE)


VAUSE: Not like a long Sunday which is a good thing. And also a good thing, CNNs Amanda Davies joining us now with the latest from Pyeongchang, South Korea. We're going to argue amongst ourselves --


SESAY: Hey, Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, do you know what? I reckon you guys have got a chance for 2022.

VAUSE: Yes, we're in.

DAVIES: Yes. Anyway, it is sometimes easy to forget the athletes are human beings. They perform that levels that us mere mortals, yes, we are just mere mortals. We can only dream about. But today, we have absolutely been reminded that even super humans can have a bad day. U.S. favorite Mikaela Shiffrin was going for her second gold in two days in her favorite event, the slalom. The won she won age 18 four years ago in Sochi, but it did not go to plan. She only finished fourth with Sweden's Frida Hansdotter taking gold. The question mark about her fitness after she admitted she vomited before her first run.

But she's now said she think it was probably just nerves which is really quite something for an athlete who has dominated the slalom events this year on the world cup circuit. It would be really, really interesting to see whether or not that will impact her remaining two events. Frankly, you just have to say what a difference a day makes. And Austria's Matthias Mayer knows that feeling as well. He has described taking gold in the men's super-G is unbelievable. It's a huge turnaround for him, given he crashed out in the combined. He hurt his hip and finished ninth in the yesterday's downhill.

I was there watching this one a little bit earlier and one of his team put it to me today is a good day, yesterday wasn't but that is the Olympics. And that is a message that the U.S figure skating hope, Nathan Chen might just want to hold onto.

Amid huge pressure, the 18 year old U.S. champion stumbled his way through his short program. It was painful, heartbreaking really to watch. He had been considered a gold medal contender here at the games. But he is now down in 17th place after day one. A huge distance behind the defending champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, who was virtually faultless. Hanyu posted the second highest score ever recorded. Second on it was on well record not bad at all for somebody who had injury concerns hanging over him.

And great news too for South Korean fans on what is Lunar New Year and a public holiday here. Yun Sung-bin took their first ever gold in sliding sports. The skeleton will post a massive, massive crowd trying to get in there to watch the 22 year old this morning. He's quickly becoming a real superstar in these parts. A fantastic day of a real contrasting emotions.

[02:46:33] SESAY: What sport are we going to do when we compete in 2022?

VAUSE: Curling.

SESAY: We need to work on that one, Amanda.

VAUSE: And we'll do it badly, thank you.

SESAY: She's had enough of us.

VAUSE: Now, bye. SESAY: Bye. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., the superhero film Black Panther roars into theaters. Why one journalist post it's the most significant movie in black history. We'll tell you just ahead.


VAUSE: Well, the wait is the over and I didn't know I was waiting. The film Black Panther roars into theaters this week after breaking presale ticket records.

SESAY: the latest in the Marvel movie universe could break box office records. So here is this look at the film and why, why is that -- it's so much more than a movie even though John has no idea what's going on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the only one to see it, and made it that to life.

SESAY: Nearly 52 years after he first appeared on the cover of this Marvel Comic, Black Panther is making a fierce return.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The revolutions will be live.

SESAY: Black Panther is project to earn an estimated $165 million or more for the U.S. opening weekend alone, according to Hollywood's major tracking services. But its greatest impact may not be at the box office.

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, AMERICAN ACTOR: If anybody believes, you know, that Africa didn't have an empire, didn't have architecture, didn't art, didn't have science, you see it in this movie.

[02:49:44] SESAY: Critics are calling this film a cultural milestone and radically different, not only because it has the predominantly black cast but because it's breaking ground off the big screen as well. Hundreds of GoFundMe campaign from across the world have raised more than $400,000 to help kids see the movie this month. And to see they're excited is an understatement. The cast is equally excited about the film's scope and significance.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN: It's an honor, it's humbling and very surreal. You know this is like kind of a major introduction, almost a reintroduction of like, black fantasy, sci-fi mythology, this generation growing up.

I can't wait for -- you know, Halloween to see this little -- like, you never rate your range enough as the demoralizing, and you know, Black Panther and kill mongers and stuff like that. I think it's going to be a super important impactful for their -- you know, for our culture. You know moving forward, I think it's extremely important. So, yes, it means a lot that we're inspiring the youth. LUPITA NYONG'O, ACTRESS: I've never been a doll before. And then,

now there's dolls coming out. Nakia dolls and Okoye dolls, and it's such a thrill because, first of all, I remember when I was younger, my mother couldn't even find black dolls for us. And so, the fact that there are going to be plenty, because of the kind of reach that Marvel has and that it's going to be our faces, I mean, it's a humbling and actually a little bit exciting and terrifying at the same time. But how lovely to live at a time when kids can have that.

WINSTON DUKE, ACTOR: I'm so excited, profoundly excited that they're going to get to like ingest, consume this kind of content before the world puts their own politics on them, and their bodies, and their experience, and what they could be. They're, going to get to see this and see people who look like them that have agency in story. That's exciting.

DANIEL KALUUYA, ACTOR: And in fact, that they're not going to see it as special you can see it's normal. They going to expect stories to represent them. And then, if they don't see it they're going to go "Well, I'm going to make it happen." And they fulfill that it can make it happen.

DUKE: Yes.

KALUUYA: Because there is world here. And Ryan has done -- remember Ryan has done this at 30 years old. He shot this film. (INAUDIBLE) like within there's no boundaries, there's no rule, there's no limitations, there's no (INAUDIBLE).

DUKE: Yes.

KALUUYA: You know, let's keep on going.

DUKE: Let's keep going.


SESAY: Our next guest has seen it.

VAUSE: And he's black. And I do happen to be black.

SESAY: And he calls it fantastic. Segun Oduolowu, our friend of the show, and CNN journalist and host to Rotten Tomatoes, See It Skip It.


SESAY: Welcome.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you, thanks for having me back.

SESAY: Let's get straight to it --


SESAY: You've seen it.

ODUOLOWU: It's the greatest movie of all time.

SESAY: OK. That's what I wanted to hear. But why.

ODUOLOWU: Because it's the most significant movie in black history, and that is not hyperbole. Everyone knows about black history on the stud. 12 years has leave, or they will do a civil rights movie like Malcolm X.

SESAY: They wouldn't go as pain and suffer.

ODUOLOWU: There's always pain and suffering. This is the first time that a movie has shown black excellence in technology, in science, in current day, present day. Forgot the superhero aspect of it. It dispels the Tarzan myth of Africans being backwards. Here is a -- here is a technologically advanced civilization living and hiding from basically colonializers, people trying to take what they had.

It is a mirror into what Africa could have been had it never been colonized, had it never been plundered for gold and diamonds. If races like the Egyptians and their science and technology had been allowed to flourish. This is what society needs, it is the money that its breaking is extremely necessary.

Look, when 12 years a slave came out, they wouldn't put. They actually put Brad Pit on the poster in Europe because even though he's in it for like six minutes, but they didn't because they said black movies won't sell overseas.


SESAY: They do it in the Europe, yes. Yes.

VAUSE: Are you seeing what they do in China?

ODUOLOWU: Look, I don't even want to talk about China right now and black movies --

VAUSE: I got a question, come on, OK, so this is -- this is ultimately great. We will know when progress has been made when a movie likes this comes out, everyone just says, that's a great movie, right?

SESAY: No. Actually -- no

ODUOLOWU: No, I don't -- I don't think so. No, I think that sometimes statements have to be made. I think sometimes that the line has to be pushed as far as it can be. This is not a great movie just on its own. This is great movie because of what it says and who saying it. And what it means for young black girls, young black boys who are going to dressed up like Black Panther for Halloween.

SESAY: And what does it say? What does it say, Segun?

ODUOLOWU: It says to them that you can be exceptional, that you are exceptional. That you aren't just 12 years a slave, just Amistad, just fresh off of a boat. No, there is a continent out there that has given birth to black.

Isha Sesay is this movie like I'm this movie. You know, because it tell us again like I always do this and my eye be pops out because I get so animated. Kanye has a line where he says, I don't need February. I make black history every month.

How many black anchors are there on CNN like Isha? Not many, not many. And the fact that's either that's what boys and girls need to see the world over and America especially. When you have a President saying that, that continent, is the people, he does not want to come here. This movie dispels all that, it says we're great, it says we're fantastic, it says we're amazing.

[02:55:14] VAUSE: I always thought that you should that -- thanks that cast, Denzel Washington, and Superman. And that would have been a mile one.

ODUOLOWU: No, I'll tell you what is better. I want them to cast Idris Elba as James Bond



SESAY: Yes, yes, that's what we owe.

ODUOLOWU: Is that what I want to do, then, we start breaking down this barrier. If given a whitewashed movie, how about you really blackface then?

SESAY: Can we -- can we talk about the black females in this film? Because again, talk about the departure in the way black women are cast in Hollywood and here we have them in Black Panther, and they're strong and they're powerful. And they are --

ODUOLOWU: One word, one word, resplendent. They are resplendent, they are gorgeous and strong, and beautiful with natural hair.

SESAY: And dark skin.

ODUOLOWU: And dark skin, and they are -- look, they are strong with their men. They are smart, they are smart, they are intelligent, they are scientists, they are doctors, they are fierce, they are warriors, they are everything that anybody who has a black mother like I do know black women to be. I kid you not. This movie --


SESAY: I am going to always so happy, what should I say.

ODUOLOWU: Listen, I took -- I took my wife to see this. And I took my older brother to see an advance screening, and we left out of the movie theater like feeling a little bit taller, and a little bit better. And movies need to be like that.

SESAY: Let me ask you this. For our viewers who are not black, who are the --

ODUOLOWU: Are there any out there?

SESAY: ODUOLOWU is saying, well, why should we go see this? This is clearly a film just for black people.


SESAY: What do you say to them? Why they should see this film?

ODUOLOWU: For the same reason I love Batman, for the same reason that I thought Heath Ledger was amazing as the Joker because his acting is incredible. Ryan Coogler, let's understand something about him. Fruitvale Station --

SESAY: Creed.

ODUOLOWU: -- and then, Creed. When you can redo the Rocky myth with a black guy like you're not just -- you're not -- you're swinging for (INAUDIBLE). Then, you got Chadwick Boseman.


ODUOLOWU: I mean, he has played every black superhero in real life. He's been Marshall, he's been, Thurgood Marshall. He has been James Brown, he's been Jackie Robinson, and now, he is Black Panther, and he does it well. It has got the -- I mean, just the stunning cast is amazing. The cinematography is great, I saw it in 3D. Go see it because you love films.

VAUSE: I'm going to see it because I want to be taller.

ODUOLOWU: You see -- you see (INAUDIBLE). You see how he took us down under. You see what -- he took us down under.

SESAY: Yes, you see how he took us both, yes, -- Well, let me just say, Segu, thank you for bringing the passion, thank you for bringing the truth. And we now -- we thank Ryan Coogler for sharing Africa as it is.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you.

VAUSE: Did you bring to do this?

ODUOLOWU: Did I bring to do -- you see -- you see what you're doing there. You see -- I'm not --

SESAY: This is go --

VAUSE: This thick you I can do.

ODUOLOWU: This is -- No, you do in stick? That's OK. Well, this will be break every box office record. I'm going to come back and I'm going to start pointing at all of those foreign countries like China that threw us in the washing machine.

VAUSE: Right.

ODUOLOWU: And you know what you did China. When you can be used.

SESAY: All I'm going to say, Segun, they're going to see our glory. Black Panther, it's in the cinema near you. Go see it.

VAUSE: Just so hard keeping him quiet. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, the news continues with Natalie Allen and George Howell, right after this.

VAUSE: God bless them.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: He was deliberate, calm, and have an escape plan.