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U.K. Expels 23 Russian Diplomats; Seven Years of Bloodshed and No End in Sight; Purge Coming at the White House. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

Cold War -- excuse me -- tit-for-tat. Theresa May says Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy on U.K. soil. Russia warns retaliation will not be long coming.

The Syrian war seven years on, hundreds of thousands are dead, millions displaced and this conflict deadlier and more complicated than ever.

And let the blood bath begin. President Trump's hinting a purge is coming of the dead weight at the White House.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. Hope you can stay with me for the next three hours. NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

The U.K. and Russia are locked in a diplomatic crisis not seen since the Cold War. British Prime Minister Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

The Kremlin continues to deny any involvement in the attack and says it will retaliate. The U.N. Security Council was called to an emergency session. Notably the U.S. ambassador issued the strongest statement so far from the Trump administration slamming Russia for the attack.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Let me make one thing clear from the very beginning. The United States stands in absolute solidarity with Great Britain.

This is a defining moment. Time and time again member states say they oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance. Now one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member. The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.

VASSILY NEBENZIA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (through translator): We demand that proof be provided over the allegedly found Russian trace from this high resonance (ph) event. A hysterical atmosphere is being created by London and also being completely nontransparent in this.


VAUSE: CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is with us now live from Moscow. So Sam -- there was a statement from the Russian embassy in London. It read in part, "Obviously by investigating this incident in a unilateral non-transparent way, the British government is again seeking to launch a groundless anti- Russian campaign. Needless to say our response measures will not be long in coming."

So let the tit-for-tat begin exactly and when are the Russians likely to do now?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the clue I think coming from the embassy there is that there will be a tit-for- tat response. Those of us who are old enough can recall the days of the Cold War in the spy versus spy games that resulted in fairly frequent expulsions from western nations of the people accused of spying for the Soviet Union and then the tit-for-tat counter expulsions coming out of Moscow.

That is something that's again anticipated. It's not what the American -- sorry the Russians did immediately last time around when the United States expelled a large number of people working in the U.S. embassies around their country.

Then Vladimir Putin tried to sort of adopt what he kind of thought of as the moral high ground or the superior attitude and didn't respond.

But I think, John -- what we're going to see probably over the next week is a response from the Russians almost certainly the same number of people, almost certainly people that they would, as the British have described the Russians, so the Russians will describe the British here as being undeclared members of the spy community conducting espionage.

They've got similar sized embassies, ironically, in both countries. The Russians in the United Kingdom have 58 people. And the United Kingdom have we think 57 here. So they're kind of reasonably evenly matched in this exchange of diplomatic ping pong involving individuals.

But it goes much deeper than just the expulsion of individuals. The United Kingdom, John, is looking for a lot of new legislation that will be used to specifically target individuals associated with the Putin regime.

[00:04:47] They're going to start bringing legislation that means, in the words of Theresa May, that they can get really down in and look very, very closely at individuals and start making their lives particularly uncomfortable in London, which has become, for the Russian -- the wealthy Russian oligarchs and junior oligarchs, the destination of choice really for both living, for educating their children and for investments.

And they're trying to -- the British are going to try and squeeze on that. And that might be in the longer term really where the pressure point for the Russian lies -- John.

VAUSE: And not to forget that the British family will not be attending the World Cup. Sam -- good to see you. Appreciate it, thank you.

We move on now to the Syrian civil war and today one of the most horrific blood lettings in modern history has now entered its eighth year. President Bashar al Assad has unleashed hell on his own people, including the use of forbidden chemical weapons. And so far the world has been unwilling or unable to stop it.

An estimated 400,000 Syrians have died since 2011. More than half of the population had been forced from their homes. Five and a half million people are now refugees in other countries. More than six million people are displaced internally.

Nothing has come of the many attempts to end this fighting. If anything the battlefield grows more fragmented and ruthless. For any Syrian child seven years or younger war has defined their entire existence. We get more now from CNN's Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ihmad (ph) is learning the days of the week in French, one of the languages of instruction in Lebanese public schools. Ihmad is seven years old and this week marks seven years since the outbreak of the war that drove him and his family from their native Syria into exile in Lebanon.

The children at this special learning center run by the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Lebanese city of Tripoli are receiving these extra lessons to ease their way into the local school system. While the numbers don't come easy for Ihmad, he at least is lucky to be getting an education.

RACHA EL DAOI, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: 59 percent of school-age refugee children are out of school which means that we're looking at a potential of a lost generation.

WEDEMAN: Ihmad and his family come from Syria's northwestern Idlib Province still under rebel control. They moved from village to village to escape the fighting before coming to Lebanon five years ago. Their memories of war recounted with the innocence of childhood.

"The land behind my grandfather's house was hit by bombs." recalls his 11-year-old brother Hamed (ph). "Bullets falling from above," chimes in eight-year-old Razel (ph), Ihmad upstaged by his talkative older siblings listens in his mother's arms.

Ten-year-old Abdul Majid (ph) has plans for when he returns home some day. "I want to grow up and open a store," he says.

While their homeland marks a bitter anniversary, these children have lost so much, but not hope.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Tripoli, Lebanon.


VAUSE: Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon is a CNN U.S. security analyst. She joins us now live from San Diego. Gayle -- good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

I think it's important, you know, just to highlight, you know, this is in fact, in Syria children who were born after March 15, 2011 they have known nothing but war for their entire lives.

And what is truly sad about this is not just how modern and how progressive Syria was before all this began but there are no indications that there will be anything other than war for many years to come.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: It's striking. I mean I was there both this summer and then again last month. And the thing that I remember most is that you talk to young people who are 18, 19, 20 years old and all they talk about is the next generation.

I met one young woman who's 16 years old, two kids -- her parents married her to keep her safe as the conflict was coming. And she said every girl in her class was either kidnapped, somehow lost or married off. And she said you know, I'm lucky because I actually like my husband. And she said, "All I care about now is my children's future." She's 16.

VAUSE: Yes. And what we're seeing in this recent surge of violence in eastern Ghouta just outside the capital it seems to be unprecedented in terms of ferocity and just sheer deadliness. The regime is using chemical weapons almost at will it seems, along with illegal barrel bombs simply because they can.

LEMMON: This is the product of impunity. Who is going to stop them when there is no international community really that has teeth or might? Who is to stop them from dropping chemicals on their own people? And obviously the answer is no one.

VAUSE: And what's happened over the past seven years, Russia has used its veto power in the security council 11 times to protect the Assad regime.

[00:10:01] And even when there is a resolution which manages to get passed, the U.N. totally and utterly powerless to enforce it. Resolution 2401 was passed last month. It called for a 30-day ceasefire. At this point would it better for the Security Council to do nothing rather than pass all these meaningless resolutions?

LEMMON: When you are a parent on the ground in a shelter trying to keep your child alive, what does it matter? Right. There is no difference between the U.N. passing resolutions that take no effect and the U.N. doing nothing. And truly, you know, you and I have talked about this for years now --

John. This is a war that has extinguished the power of adjectives to describe itself. And the U.N., the head of the U.N., can't even think of new words to describe what parents are facing, nor can anyone else. And it is really showing the limits of what happens when the international community is, for all intents and purposes, neutered.

VAUSE: Yes. There was a story in "The Independence", the British newspaper. It quotes a European diplomat of saying this. "The international community is now hopeful Russia, wishing to limit reputational damage, can be pressured to bring Mr. Assad to the negotiating table."

It just seems beyond ludicrous right now that that is the best hope that, you know, Vladimir Putin may somehow be worried about what the world thinks of him so he might actually rein in Assad.

LEMMON: I mean it's really -- look, Russia changed facts on the ground in this conflict. I remember being in Turkey talking to Syrian refugees, there are more than three million now in Turkey. And one gentleman showed me a hole in the ground where his house outside Aleppo had been and showed mew the video of him running to find that his home was no longer.

I mean these are real people. It's real lives who have seen them absolutely destroyed. And there is no question that Russia has been able to change the facts on the ground in favor of the Assad regime.

And all along Russia and Iran have been completely in on the side of the regime. And those who are opposing the regime had a very tepid response on their side. And so it was not a mystery as to who would have the stronger firepower and who would win in the end.

VAUSE: And when you look at those who have opposed the Assad regime over the past seven years they have paid such a staggering price in blood and treasure. It seems having given -- or have paid so much, having lost so much, they have no other option now but to see this through, you know, whatever comes out of. There's no sort of going back. There's no giving in.

LEMMON: There's no choice, right. I mean two stories, you know, one mother said to me, if we could just -- in Syria -- if we could just push a button and go back to 2010 we all would because it has taken so much from us this conflict.

And another young woman who was a leader of the opposition and who is now is living outside the country for her own safety said to me, you know, we just never thought our country would become like Afghanistan ever. We never saw this going on for this many years and to this end.

VAUSE: It does appear that it's on the way to one of those countries where entrenched warfare is just the norm, where war lords sort of, you know, call the rules of, you know, of the day and have their way with the local population.

LEMMON: Well, this is the thing, right. I mean when you have one side that is willing to do anything and has, you know, pretty boundless (INAUDIBLE) in terms of the air power and the military might to back it up, it is a waiting game, right. And they have successfully waited it out.

You know, the U.S. policy in 2011 was the time has come for Assad to step aside. But for years the effective policy has been, you know, Assad can kind of stay for now because then ISIS came and the ISIS fight really froze the conflict in Syria. Everybody focused on ISIS rather than the regime.

And the minute that fight wound down, it was almost as if you had the childhood game red light, green light. It was like the green light was back on and everybody went back to war.

VAUSE: Yes. As you say, we're looking at years and years of this violence just continuing because nobody really wants to do much about it or has the solution that isn't costly and bloody for the rest of the world.

Gayle -- thank you. Appreciate you being with us. >

LEMMON: Thanks.

VAUSE: And next hour we'll look at some of the military options ahead for Syria and what can be done, what cannot be done and what this conflict could in fact evolve into in the next couple of years.

We'll take a short break.

When we come back, President Trump ready to purge the dead weight from the white House. So who's on the hit list and what is the cost of all this (INAUDIBLE) chaos.

Plus America's top diplomat, he's out. So who will lead a high-level South Korean delegation heading to D.C. to lay the groundwork for the upcoming meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump? Live to Seoul with some answers.


VAUSE: Well, for any other U.S. president it might actually be an embarrassing stunning admission but this is Donald Trump. Now, according to audio obtained by "The Washington Post", Mr. Trump admitted at a fund-raiser on Wednesday, he just made up facts in a recent meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Only on the tape he was mimicking Justin Trudeau as he was saying this. "Nice guy, good looking guy comes up, Donald we have no trade deficit. I said wrong, Justin you do. I don't even know, I had no idea. I just said you're wrong, you know why, because you're stupid. He said no, I have no trade deficit. I said, well, in that case I feel different. I said but I don't believe it.

I sent out our guys out, my guys, they went out, I said check because I can't believe it. Well, sir, you're actually right we have no deficit but that doesn't include energy and timber. And when you we lose $17 bill a year. That's incredible."

That's my best Donald Trump impersonation.

Jessica Levinson is a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School, Michael Genovese is president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Thank you guys for coming in.

You know, this is one of the more bizarre moments of a very bizarre presidency so far that he gets up there, he mimics the Canadian Prime Minister, admits that he makes this stuff up not knowing what the facts are. When the reality is the United States actually has a surplus, Michael, of $18 billion with Canada. So what does this all say to you?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, you know, the general public has the perception that politicians lie regularly. The fact of the matter is they don't. They're generally as honest if not more honest than most other professions, in part, because they're out in the public all the time and you can easily catch them.

But in this case this is not only embarrassing, it's damaging to the United States, to our credibility. The United States has to have its word as its bond.

And if people doubt us, if they question us then we live in an "Alice in Wonderland" word. And if your word is not your bond you can't deal straight with other people and they won't deal straight with you.

VAUSE: And Jessica, it's one thing to be caught, you know, this sort of stuff, you know, on a hidden mic but to be boasting about it at a fund-raiser?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, that's the kind of fascinating aspect of this and that's why -- I mean that's what hucksters do. I didn't even have the facts and I sold that car. I didn't even know it was going to rain today and I sold you a new roof. I mean this is the -- I mean, a used car salesman you hope would not take this type of tactic.

And I think Michael is exactly right. He's using it as bragging rights and he's saying like look at what an amazing businessman I am. I'm going to get in there. And this is one of our allies and I'm explaining to him things and I don't even know if it's true but I'm so charming.

And this is so damaging because if he's admitting and boasting about lying, then it really mean what frankly we've all known which is that he has no relationship with the truth.

VAUSE: I wonder what the Canadian Prime Minister is thinking tonight.

Ok. Let's move on to Larry Kudlow, who apparently is next to line to be the senior economic adviser at the White House. He's not just a TV commentator, he worked in the Reagan administration.

Here's the President talking about the man that he wants for the job to replace Gary Cohn.


[00:20:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly. I've known him a long time. We don't agree on everything, but in this case, I think that's good. I want to have a divergent opinion. We agree on most --


VAUSE: So Michael -- Larry Kudlow, just like Gary Cohn, he is strongly opposed to tariffs. It's the reason why Cohn walked over the aluminum and steel tariffs. I'm just pointing out the President, he likes Larry Kudlow, they get on. Is the President just simply picking people he likes? There's no ideology here?

GENOVESE: Well, the President doesn't want people who will disagree with him. He says I want to hear the argument but if you argue with him, you're out or you're likely to be out or you're going to be on the outs eve if you stay in the administration.

And so, I think at the best what happens is Donald Trump governs on chaos. But administrations can't run on chaos. It's a terrible strategy for management. And if you're on the staff and you're supposed to bring the President information, who's going to bring him bad news? Who's going to speak truth to power when you're afraid everyday that you could be losing your job?

Now, Kudlow and the President have a long term relationship and maybe he can be honest with him. But I'm wondering just how honest most of the people around Trump think they can be with him and still keep their jobs.

VAUSE: Here's the headline from "The Daily Beast" because there is this shake-up coming apparently at the White House. "Trump wants to stock White House team with Fox News stars, loyalists, killers.

You know, Jessica it's an unusual strategy to choose senior government officials based upon how they perform on cable news.

LEVINSON: Well, this is interesting. And it's kind of vintage Donald Trump in one way. We know that he garners an enormous of his information from cable news. And that he thinks that this can be used for instance in lieu of security briefings to just turn on Fox and see what people are saying or to turn on another channel.

But I think it's important to recognize that some of Donald Trump's appointees have really been far outside the balance of what's normal. But Kudlow is being largely applauded by the Republican establishment.

And so in some ways he is a pick that is somewhat within the main stream but another Republican the President can pick. So I think it's important for us to keep those two things separate because certainly President Trump has picked a lot of people who a mainstream Republican would not pick. But in this case it's two things, one is it shows that Donald Trump actually is running away from his populist message. And so Kudlow has been extremely consistent in being wrong on almost every major economic indicator and he's been extremely consistent in being in favor of Republicans and against Democrats.

VAUSE: Listen to what senior Republican lawmakers have been saying about, you know, this White House and the chaos.


REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There's a lot of chaos and anarchy and this is just more of it. This type of instability and uncertainty is really not helpful for America or for the administration.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I mean you have to have some stability to get things done. So I look at it and I'm just like wow, I mean where is this going.

SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: To find out you've been fired by tweet is not exactly, you know, reassuring in terms of the conduct of government.


VAUSE: And Michael, this constant churn comes with a cost, especially when it's a cabinet secretary, because that needs to be an approval for replacement. They need to get their staff. So you have these, you know, departments which are left essentially idle for long stretches at a time.

GENOVESE: And it takes a while to get someone through the confirmation process. And if you keep having -- shuffling cherries in the White House cabinet, you're just going to keep going through hearings and hearings and hearings in the senate.

But Donald Trump thrives on chaos. Most people who work for him don't. And so what you get is a completely dysfunctional White House. And it's evident in the kinds of problems that we see. The President says there's no problem, everything is fine but we can see the problems. It's just so obvious and he just has trouble governing.

VAUSE: This is why people say nothing gets done in Washington. Case in point with this is a high level delegation from South Korea apparently heading to Washington for these talks, rather proposed meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un.

Let's go to Paula Hancocks now. She is live in Seoul. So Paula -- the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he is gone. It's not really known when Pompeo will take over, his replacement. So exactly who will the South Koreans be talking to and is there any point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a good question -- John. I mean this is the foreign minister of South Korea who's on a plane right now heading to Washington, Kang Kyung-wha. She was supposed to leave today but yesterday there was this flurry of meetings trying to figure out whether or not she should still go because, of course, it was the Secretary of State, that has just been fired, Rex Tillerson she was supposed to meet.

So she'll be meeting with the deputy secretary of state John Sullivan because clearly Mike Pompeo hasn't been confirmed yet as Secretary of State.

But the foreign minister was stopped at the airport here. She was asked these questions -- why go if -- is there any point in going? She pointed out that they can't lose the momentum that they've built up ahead of this North-South Korean meeting between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

[00:25:10] And to be fair, they don't have the luxury of waiting until Mike Pompeo is or isn't confirmed as Secretary of State because it's just a matter of weeks away before the North Korean and the South Korean leaders meet. It is incredibly historic, important and it's ahead potentially of the Kim Jong-un/Donald Trump meeting. So they really don't have the luxury of waiting until all the people are in position.

She was also asked as well, the foreign minister, about whether it's going to be difficult as there is no secretary of state. And she said it's not an individual that moves, an individual's leadership is important. It's an organization that moves.

So the foreign minister here is really trying to put a good spin on it clearly as she's heading to Washington. But quite frankly they can't wait. They have to have these meetings ahead of these summits -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. But maybe if that organization is understaffed with no one manning the positions it's also a problem.

Paula -- thank you. Paula Hancocks there, live in Seoul.

I just want to get back to our panel here because, let's look closer at the cabinet because, you know, this is a cabinet which has been plagued with a lot of, you know, scandal and controversy. If you remember the Housing Secretary Ben Carson and the $30,000 dining room setting. Last month a spokesperson for the Housing Department insisted in an e-mail, Mrs. Carson and the Secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased. Ok.

Now according to an internal staff e-mail which surfaced dated August last year, which has now surfaced. This is what it reads. "I believe Allison has printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out. I think this is a very reasonable price and the funds are available."

So we went back to that same spokesperson for the Housing Department. We got this e-mail reply. "When presented with options by professional staff Mrs. Carson participated in the selection of specific styles."

Jessica -- you know, Secretary Carson also said last month he was surprised by the cost of this dining room suite setting and that's why he cancelled the order. He had no idea that it would be bought with other stuff. And you know, in the scheme of things it's small, right? But, you know, it's a lie and it's the stuff that voters care about.

LEVINSON: It is so pathetic because there's so many important things that HUD has to do. And there are so many important things that every cabinet member has to do. And instead what we're talking about is their terrible judgment in spending extravagantly when it comes to furniture and worse their lie about it.

I mean if we have ever learned anything from American politics it should be that it's always the lie, it's always the cover up that will get you. And in this case it's Ben Carson, unlike Donald Trump, isn't bragging about the lie but it's -- I mean it's just silly season to the extent that there are so many unbelievably pressing issues and now we're talking about lying about furniture.

VAUSE: When did he know that the dining table cost $30,000 is ridiculous.

I want to finish up though on Stormy Daniels, and what could be troubling news for the President and it came from the lawyer for Stormy Daniels. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have more women come to you?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to answer that.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a dozen. More than five?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to answer that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So somewhere between five and a dozen more women.

Well, we look forward to making you a regular here.


VAUSE: Ok. Michael -- so somewhere between five and a dozen women have contacted the lawyer for Stormy Daniels about President Trump. That would not be surprise given the track record of Donald Trump that it would be a big problem. GENOVESE: Well, you know, there are so many women who have come

forward and it's gotten no traction. For some reason the Stormy Daniels story has legs and it's not going away. And it seems like every day a new little wrinkle.

Today we now know that the Trump organization itself was much more heavily involved than they said. And I think, Jessica, you're right. It's not -- the lie hurts, the cover up kills. And so they're just making more news for themselves by lying.

The strategy is very clear. Get it all out, get it out quickly and make it your narrative. Otherwise you're the victim. And so the Trump administration keeps on stepping on its own feet and they seem not to be aware of just how much damage they're doing to themselves.

VAUSE: Jessica -- the White House is constantly reactive rather than as Michael said taking hold of the narrative. But why have the Stormy Daniels allegations resonated because it didn't for a while. It's become the story that people are interested in and are concerned about.

LEVINSON: Well, I think it's partly this. The President's lawyer paid a porn star to be quiet. So if you were to utter that sentence with respect to any other president we would not have a discussion about why the story has legs.

VAUSE: Right.

[00:29:49] LEVINSON: The other thing is though there are serious legal consequences to some aspects of this story. And there is, to me the most interesting part is actually the issue of Trump's lawyer paying Stormy Daniels and how he got the money, how closely affiliated he was with President Trump at the time, whether President Trump knew, whether there was a campaign finance violation and how far the suit will go because, as we all know, the suit really isn't about the cause of action itself.

It's about, can we depose the president and get additional information from him?

So again, any other scenario, president's lawyer pays off porn star, we don't have to talk about why that's a story.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This administration, apparently we do. Yes, it'll be interesting if, in fact, the deposition about an extramarital affair, which brings about legal trouble for the president.

LEVINSON: Paula Jones.

VAUSE: Yes, has happened before. Jessica and Michael thank you so much. Good to see you both.

Still to come here, across the United States and around the world, students left their classrooms to deliver a message on gun violence.



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


VAUSE: The Parkland shooting has sparked a national student movement, pushing for stricter gun control. That played out on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of young people marched out of their classrooms at 10:00 am in each time zone across the U.S.

These students were from a school in Chicago, a city plagued by gun violence.

In Washington, students sat in silence for 17 minutes, a minute for each of the victims in Parkland, their backs to the White House.

And in New York, elementary school students sang, "Put a Little Love in your Heart" during their walkout.

At one high school here in Los Angeles, students sent their message with their bodies. They gathered on a football field to spell out the word, "enough." Stephanie Elam spoke with one of them about what's driving the protests.


BEN RAMIREZ, STUDENT: We've had enough of all of this going on and having the Parkland kids be so inspiring and make their voice heard across this country and made us want to get involved at our local level and change our country from the inside out.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel -- there have been so many school shootings since you've been in high school, before you were in high school, some before you were even alive.

What was it?

Why is it this one that has made the students here feel like they need to speak up and say something?

RAMIREZ: Personally, having people be killed that are the same age as me, that resonates really deep and it makes me think, what if it's our school today?

Then that can't be something we can think about.

ELAM: Was it something that all the students were talking about after February 14th, after what we saw in Florida, those 17th lives lost?

Was it something the student body was talking about? RAMIREZ: Yes. There were a lot of people that didn't come to school today because they were scared. And that's exactly why we need this to happen. We are tired of being scared to come to school and we're tired of worrying about, what if someone comes into our classroom right now, while we're trying to learn?

This should be a place of safety and a place to explore ourselves, not a place to worry about, are we going to come home at the end of the day?


VAUSE: As for the National Rifle Association, in response to the protests, it tweeted, "I'll control my own guns, thank you."

The movement has support outside the United States. This time-lapse video shows students from the American School at London. The demonstrated at a nearby park. While the school did not take a position on the issue, a spokeswoman said the school holds the students' rights to voice that opinion and praise the courage.

In Israel, a student leader said, "I was inspired to organize this walkout because I watched the movement get born online and it moved me."

At the International School of Iceland, a teacher said the idea to participate came during a discussion on children's rights around the world.

And as far away as Tanzania, students, teachers and administrators walked out at 10:00 am in support of the United States' kids.

Still to come here, United Airlines is facing a backlash after a dog died on a flight and another pet was shipped across the world by mistake.

Also the way President Trump fired his secretary of state, the late- night comedians are all fired up.




VAUSE: Not one but two PR nightmares for United Airlines this week involving dogs. In the first incident, a French bulldog was placed inside an overhead bin during a three-hour flight from Texas to New York. The dog was found dead by the time the plane had landed. Apparently the flight attendant told the dog's owners that's where the pet should go.

United is taking full responsibility, calling it a tragic accident because pets should never be placed in overhead bins.

In the second incident, United accidentally flew two dogs -- [00:40:00]

VAUSE: -- to the wrong cities. A Kansas-bound German shepherd wound up in Japan. A Great Dane destined for Japan wound up in Kansas. The owner says their German shepherd, named Irgo, had no food or water during the 16-hour flight from Denver and went three days without ear infection medication.

United has apologized for the mixup and has made arrangements to fly Irgo back to Kansas first class with a human helper.

Imagine finding out through Twitter you've been fired. That's how the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, discovered that President Trump decided it was time to move on. Our Jeanne Moos shows us how some late-night comedians are making the most of the news.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rex Tillerson has been added to the Jimmy Kimmel show's collection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you can pay tribute to all of Donald Trump's ex-cabinet members with the Departed Staffer Commemorative Plates.

MOOS (voice-over): But the dishy part was how Tillerson was fired, by tweet, a tweet that ended...

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Congratulations to all. Congratulations, Rex, you've won an all-expense paid trip to beautiful get the (INAUDIBLE) out of here.

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Even when you get fired from Domino's, the manager takes you into that crappy little office and tells you to your face.

MOOS (voice-over): But hey, not face-to-face is President Trump's way. When he fired FBI director Comey, he sent an aide with a letter to FBI headquarters. But Comey ended up hearing the news on TV as he gave a speech.

After Tillerson was fired, Obama photographer Pete Souza posted this picture of President Obama, conferring with his secretary of state, captioned, "Back in the day, when our secretary of state was treated with respect."

JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: Donald Trump spent more time firing Little John than he did firing the secretary of state.


TRUMP: Little John, you're fired. You go out there and knock 'em dead. He is a great day.


TRUMP: Rex is a very good man. MOOS (voice-over): The White House chief of staff did call Tillerson to warn his time as top diplomat was up but there was nothing definitive until a tweet was posted.

MOOS: Some are comparing the firing to "Sex in the City."

Why, you ask, is Rex Tillerson like Carrie Bradshaw?


SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTOR, "CARRIE BRADSHAW": Oh, Berger broke up with me on a Post-it.



KIM CATTRALL, ACTOR,"SAMANTHA JONES": "I'm sorry I can't don't hate me." (INAUDIBLE) concise.

MOOS (voice-over): More concise than President Trump with his 253- character tweet.

Andy Borowitz's satirical headline, "Imagine Tillerson saying, 'I hope Trump finds out he's impeached on Twitter.'"

Who says breaking up is hard to do when you break the news like this?

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: He fired him on Twitter.

MOOS (voice-over): -- Jeanne Moos, CNN...

O'BRIEN: Yes, it makes sense when you consider that Trump hired Rex Tillerson on Tinder.

MOOS (voice-over): New York.


VAUSE: It's a rough way to go.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. Stay with us, "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.