Return to Transcripts main page


Trump: Brennan's Clearance Revoked Over Russia Probe; Vatican Responds to Priest Sexual Abuse; Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin Dies at 76; Gunmen Assault Intelligence Training Center in Kabul; Taliban Offensive Targeted Key City of Ghazni; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Education Center Blast; World Mourns "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour, from days of silence to scathing criticism, the Vatican finally responds to allegations of widespread sexual abuse of children by clergy in the U.S., calling it criminal and morally reprehensible.

Despite the widespread outrage, the U.S. president seems far from finished with stripping former government officials of their security clearance. Critics say it's all about trying to silence some of his harshest critics.

And R.I.P. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Queen of Soul, a musical and social icon, takes a final bow.


VAUSE: Try not to smile when you hear that.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.


VAUSE: The pressure was building for days and now the Vatican has finally responded to the latest sexual abuse allegations rocking the Catholic Church. A grand jury report has revealed hundreds of predator priests in the U.S. raped or molested children for decades and alleges the church covered it all up. This crisis is a crucial test for the papacy, which has stumbled badly in the past while confronting child sexual abuse by clergy. CNN's Barbie Nadeau has the latest now, reporting from Rome.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Vatican finally broke its silence two days after a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a damning report on rampant clerical sex abuse in that state. Over a thousand children were abused by more than three hundred priests in crimes that spans seven decades.

In the Vatican statement they used the words "criminal" and "reprehensible" in describing these crimes calling for accountability to those who helped move priests around and keep the abuse going.

Greg Burke, a Vatican spokesperson made a statement. Let's hear what he had to say.


GREG BURKE, SPOKESPERSON, VATICAN: The Holy Father understands how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of the people in the pews. The pope also wants victims to know that he is on their side, he wants to listen to them so that this tragic horror will not be repeated.


NADEAU: Victims of clerical sex abuse are demanding more than just words from this pope, they want action. Pope Francis has in the past accepted resignations from complicit bishops and cardinals but survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse say they would like to see him demand resignations from those who helped cover-up blatant clerical sex abuse -- Barbie Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


VAUSE: Joining me here in Los Angeles is Father Edward Beck, CNN's religion commentator.

Father Beck, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. So this statement, it took 48 hours. You know, in the scheme of things, not a huge amount of time but enough for a lot of criticism to build. But when it came, it was very, very strong and this line it seems is key.

"The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible."

From what we know, are they the strongest words the church has used to date when it comes to the issue of child sex abuse of children?

The other issue is with the statement, Pope Francis is not directly quoted and they don't seem to address the issue of the bishops in the U.S., demanding the Archbishop of Washington to resign and for a thorough independent investigation.

BECK: They are very strong words. I can't recall a Vatican statement that had "criminal and morally reprehensible" as the lead. So first of all, I would say that's the case.

The holy father said he's going to treat the report with great seriousness. I think people are wondering, is he hearing it?

Does he know actually what's going on?

Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesperson, who you may know used to work for FOX News --


BECK: -- so this is an American. So he knows what's happening on the American scene. He gave the statement.

And I thought what was interesting, he said, "The pope is on your side," victims, not on the side of the clergy, not on the side of the bishops. He's quoted as saying the pope is on your side and that there's accountability that will be demanded from the accusers and those who enabled them to be accused. So that's the bishops.

VAUSE: Right.

BECK: He's talking about the bishops there. So I think he does address the bishops in some way indirectly in just saying that. I think there's yet more to come on that.

VAUSE: OK. There's obviously been a lot of reaction to this report and there are a lot of demands for reform and change. Jennifer Fulwiler --


VAUSE: -- is the host of a radio show on an all-Catholic channel. She told us about what her listeners have been demanding.


JENNIFER FULWILER, RADIO SHOW HOST: One of the things people are saying directly to the bishops all over the country is we don't want to hear how bad you feel. We don't care.

What we want is specific action items. And my listeners are starting to speak out and say, if we don't get it, we will quite literally show up at your doorstep. We don't want to hear how bad you feel. We want to hear what specifically you are doing in terms of concrete action.


VAUSE: That criticism can go all the way up to the holy father because he has said a lot. You know, there are things happening. There are reforms and there are changes.

But at the very least, is there a perception that it's not happening fast enough, that it's all moving too slowly and not enough is being done? BECK: Well, John, I thought the most important part of the statement was a reminder that almost all of the cases documented happened before 2002. That's a long time ago in our terms.


BECK: So what that says is that, since 2002, with the Dallas Charter, when the bishops said there was mandatory reporting to authorities necessary and that anyone accused, credible accusation, would be removed from ministry, these cases have not happened since then.

And so people have said to me, well, so nothing's changed since Boston?

VAUSE: It has because we've seen George Pell stand trial. We've seen a cardinal in Washington resign, Cardinal Zimmer resign. And we have seen --


BECK: Right. And these cases are before Boston.


BECK: So you really can't say nothing has changed. What we're hearing, what's different, is the details of reports that we had not heard about in this grand jury document.

I think it's so startling because we thought, well, maybe it wasn't everywhere. Maybe it was just Boston. And what this is saying is, no, it wasn't just Boston. I think that's what's so overwhelming.

VAUSE: One of the issues is the statute of limitations and trying to prosecute any of these cases. Listen to one of the survivors here, Mike McDonnell. He's a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and he's talking about the impact the statute of limitations is having.


MIKE MCDONNELL, CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR: Ask an 11-year old what a statute of limitation is and ask that same 11-year old when he or she would like to tell their story about a sexual experience that they had with a Catholic priest. So we're charging Pennsylvania lawmakers to do the right thing.


VAUSE: There is a bill sitting in the Pennsylvania statehouse right now. It's passed the Senate but it is going nowhere.

If the church was serious about reforms and holding those who have done wrong accountable, criminally accountable, shouldn't every official within the church, from the pope on down, be calling for that bill to become a law?

BECK: I think why it's controversial is this. Dioceses can become financially bankrupt through these claims. They're not all able to be substantiated when they go so far back that there's no evidence that's still reliable.

You don't have witnesses. There's poor memory. And so, if the cases cannot be substantiated and the legal authorities say that the statute of limitation is necessary for many crimes -- the only one it's not necessary for is murder. So if you're going to take it away from all of those other organizations, too, --

VAUSE: Right.

BECK: -- and the other crimes, I think there's an argument for it to be made.

VAUSE: The victims say it's a get out of jail free card. Wait it out. Go past the period of time and the priests are in the clear.

BECK: Well, I don't know if anyone can wait it out that long. You're talking about people since 1947, we're talking about.

VAUSE: Right now, they're saying you can just wait it out and there's no prosecution once you --


BECK: Well, there's mandatory reporting now. It has to be reported to authorities as soon as you hear about it. So there is no waiting it out.

For those that happened before that, 2002, I think that we should look at the statute of limitations. I think there's a good reason why it can be lifted and should be lifted. But I also understand the legal argument and politicians, who say you're opening yourself up for can of worms if you say anything from anytime can be prosecuted.

VAUSE: We're out of time but you've agreed to come back next hour and we appreciate that. Thank you.

BECK: Thank you.


VAUSE: Ah, yes, the unmistakable sound of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. For 60 years, her voice shook the rafters and left people crying for more. She died on Thursday, aged 76, after several years of bad health.

Tributes have been coming from around the world. Flowers and a crown have been placed on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aretha had a golden voice. Like many African American young girls --


VAUSE: -- she discovered it while singing in church but didn't stay inside there for very long. CNN's Jake Tapper looks back now at her life and legacy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She performed for popes and presidents and kings. Aretha Franklin, born into poverty in the Jim Crow South in 1942, defied the odds to become a legendary voice of empowerment for those too often silenced.

Franklin provided the soul-stirring music that helped carry Martin Luther King Jr. and his family through the worst moments.

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: I was behind Dr. King and I was a very young girl.

TAPPER: Today, civil rights icon and longtime congressman, John Lewis, expressed his gratitude.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We have lost one of the great spirits of our time. Aretha inspired all of us with her unbelievable capacity and ability to make us smile, to dance, to be happy.

TAPPER: Her demand for respect in 1967 became a rallying cry for women worldwide. The hit was perhaps fittingly an adaptation of a man's lyrics, Franklin's revisions to Otis Redding's words now iconic.

FRANKLIN: He didn't say that. I thought I should spell it out.

TAPPER: Franklin seemed fearless as she created unofficial anthems for all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do if you forget a lyric?

FRANKLIN: I keep stepping.

TAPPER: Her career-defining swagger inspired fans to find their own confidence.


TAPPER: When America's first black president took an oath to lead the nation, her voice again provided the soundtrack.

Barack Obama was the third president to request her presence at his inaugural. The reaction to her house-shaking national anthem at the 1992 Democratic Convention perhaps summed it up best.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If that didn't make you patriotic, nothing will.

TAPPER: The Queen of Soul earned her crown by scoring 20 number one hits on the Billboard R&B charts.

But if you call Aretha Franklin a diva, take note of her definition.

FRANKLIN: My definition of a diva would be singers who give back to the community, who tithe to their churches, who are supportive in any way that they can be outside of theatrics.


VAUSE: Aretha Franklin, with her one of a kind voice, was an influence on so many artists who in turn found their own success, like her friends Gloria Gaynor and Gladys Knight.


GLORIA GAYNOR, SINGER: She personified the word inimitable. There is no other. There will never be another to even compare to Aretha Franklin's voice, her -- the way that she expressed a song made you feel it. You believed that she was living or had lived the words that she was singing.

GLADYS KNIGHT, SINGER: You have to understand that she was the breaker. She was the person that went out front, stepped on out there and did what she was supposed to do and set the pace for the rest of us.


VAUSE: Well, her music was felt way beyond the world of R&B and soul music. The front man for the rock band Kiss, Gene Simmons was also inspired by the woman they called the Queen of Soul. She's actually crowned the Queen of Soul back in 1967.

Thank you, Gene -- it's great for you to be here.

GENE SIMMONS, MUSICIAN: It's a pleasure but this is not really about me. I'm here to honor Aretha --



SIMMONS: -- and I don't want to wax poetic or prolific, but there isn't any corner of the world, any musical genre that isn't, you know, just struck numb and dumb by the passing of Aretha. She was loved by everybody. I can't think of anybody who didn't love Aretha Franklin. And maybe that's the real story.

VAUSE: Yes. And she wasn't a diva though, too. She was anything but, really. When you met -- when you dealt with her, you know, you had interactions with her.

SIMMONS: In the early '80s I was with Diana Ross. I hope Diana doesn't mind me repeating this. We were talking and I said wouldn't it be a great idea to do a duet with, you know, you and Aretha Franklin. And we both thought, gee, that would be a great idea.

And of course --


SIMMONS: -- the hurdles -- managers and lawyers and all of that so, you know, just dumb -- the way dumb I am. I picked up the phone and called Aretha Franklin and I thought managers and lawyers are going to get in the way. And she got on the phone. Hi, it's Aretha and you know, you don't know what to say.

And you know, know, I suggested how about a duet with you and Diana. She said sure, great idea. And I will tell you from my hand to God, the graciousness and the kindness and the relatability, there was no sense of I'm, you know --

VAUSE: I'm better than all of you.

SIMMONS: I'm better or I've got a God-given gift -- and all of that's true. There was no airs about her. And that was the beginning. It's just I was --

VAUSE: Sadly, like you it never happened right because of some legal issues.


SIMMONS: Well, politics and managers and all that -- yes.

VAUSE: But I want you to go back to a time when a young man, you know, Chaim Weitz was born in Haifa, Israel. He immigrates to the U.S. He's 8 years old and then one day in high school -- as a high school student, should say, he hears this.


VAUSE: Yes, it's impossible not to move when you hear that, you know, move the hands. But what did you think though when you heard it? That's the first time you've heard this.

SIMMONS: Well, I mentioned that this morning. As a kid coming from Israel I didn't know anything. I'd never heard of gospel or church music. And I was just getting, you know, used to this rock 'n' roll thing -- Chuck Berry and Little Richard and all that.

In fact, I did the eulogy for Chuck Berry when he sadly passed away. So I was in love with this music. And I remember this song a few years younger than Aretha -- and this song comes on and I first saw it on TV. I heard it and saw it on TV.

A guy named Merry (INAUDIBLE), a local deejay in New York City, was saying, all right, here's Aretha Franklin. And all of a sudden she starts strutting out with her back up there like this proud thing.

And this voice came out and I go, what is that? You know, you stop what you're doing. All of a sudden you're just taken by the incredible presence, is the thing.

But I remember a moment in high school where, you know, between classes we were walking by each other going to the next classes. And I will tell you truthfully, without any exaggeration, the girls of all races and all creeds are walking down the hallway, looking at the guys, going on respect -- just a little respect, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

VAUSE: Amazing.

SIMMONS: I'm like what is that?

Profound is the word.

VAUSE: What is interesting though about Aretha is that you sort of said this -- she was in a league of her own.

SIMMONS: Yes. Beyond anything else and, you know, I've met lots of people of note and presidents and the Dalai Lama -- God bless him and all that stuff. When you're in the presence of Aretha Franklin, there is such a thing as in the presence of greatness.

I would urge anybody who does YouTube videos and stuff -- there's a telling moment when the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, is doing a duet with Aretha Franklin. Watch this.

James Brown and Aretha are going -- you know, at first it's James singing, then Aretha opens up and starts singing. And James Brown was looking around and he drops to his knees and starts worshipping at the shrine.


SIMMONS: I mean that says it all.

VAUSE: Gene, we'll have to leave it there. But thank you so much for coming in and sharing your memories, your insights.

SIMMONS: Aretha lives. Please have your kids listen to this music. It's important.

VAUSE: Yes. It really is. Thank you so much.


VAUSE: When Aretha Franklin burst onto the music scene back in the 1960s, her powerful voice inspired a generation that was transforming the United States, not just with music but in society as well.

The civil rights and the women's rights movements were taking hold. So for more about that, we head over to Regina Robertson. She's the West Coast editor of "Essence" magazine. "Essence" is rereleasing its collector's edition --


VAUSE: -- celebrating 50 years -- hi -- of Aretha Franklin's hit song --


VAUSE: I'm good. I'm kind of sad. It's a sad day. We've lost something special. How about you?

ROBERTSON: You know, I woke up to the news. I'm on the West Coast. It was a really sad morning. But it was beautiful to see all of the tributes all morning, all day. I've been watching Don Lemon share his memories. And then it sort of

-- it fell joyous. And then there are lessons about what it means to be a legend.


ROBERTSON: We live in a world, where sometimes fame overshadows talent. And it's like Aretha Franklin, the legend.

VAUSE: She's the real deal. OK. I want to read part of the story you wrote today about Aretha.

"The Queen of Soul did more than just supply the soundtrack of her generation and beyond. In fact, her music, her voice was and shall --


VAUSE: -- remain woven into the tapestry of our culture. She was the gold standard and she'll always be our queen."

And this is the woman who never formally trained, never learned how to read music, never studied piano, for example. What was great is the music came from the heart.


VAUSE: That's what made her different.

ROBERTSON: It made a difference. You could hear the church in her voice, no matter what she sang. And it's just a testament to having talent and knowing what to do with your voice and to do with your talent.

And for decades, I mean six decades, she -- so much happens of someone's life and she sang every kind of song, every kind of music. She had every hairstyle, every hair color.

And I think back to times where, I mean, if I'm having a bad day today, I'll go YouTube her performance from "Soul Train" -- I think it was 1972 -- of "Rock Steady" and my whole day will change. Everyone just has such a beautiful memory, a favorite song, Aretha Franklin. It's just a testament to her talent, absolutely.

VAUSE: Obviously the most famous of all songs is "Respect." It became this anthem for women's rights or black pride. It was really different to the original version by Otis Redding. He kind of recorded it as a relationship love song.


VAUSE (voice-over): Was it ever known by -- if Aretha Franklin, looking back at the success of that song and it's (INAUDIBLE) by so many (INAUDIBLE), if she actually expected that or was that a surprise to her?

Because she really put her spin, her mark on that song. ROBERTSON (voice-over): It was probably a surprise.

Who knows that you're recording a huge hit song that will last?

It has stood the test of time. I mean it was her first Grammy. I'm sure she was surprised, confident but surprised.

VAUSE: Forty-four Grammy nominations in the course of those years, which is incredible. In 2010, "Rolling Stone" magazine put her at number one on the list of greatest singers of all time.

How much influence has her success had over the years in sort of opening doors for other women who have followed in her footsteps, like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston?


ROBERTSON: Oh, you can hear -- I mean Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, even Alice Smith. There's so many people.

You can hear it and I think that she -- one thing I will say about Aretha Franklin is I think she knew she was loved, which is a beautiful thing. Like you want your legends to have their flowers when they're here. And I think she knew that and I think she understood her influence.

And there's so many people that grew up to Aretha Franklin, so many people that are going to learn more about her since her passing. And that's what legends are made of, you know. I think it's a beautiful testament to the work she put in for so many years.

VAUSE: Very quickly, I think a couple of days ago her nephew reportedly said that the family was hoping that she could pull through this. But, you know, ultimately pancreatic cancer is pretty unforgiving.

Is it known how long she had between diagnosis and this moment when she died and, you know, how she spent those days?

ROBERTSON: That I don't know. But, you know, as sad as it is today and 76 is pretty young, you don't want anyone to be in pain and suffering. So it's a sad day. But, you know, you hope that she is resting and you know her legacy is secure. So like I said, it was a sad day, it was a joyous day. There will be no other Aretha Franklin.

VAUSE: It was a joyous day because we got to hear all that great music again. (CROSSTALK)

ROBERTSON: And the videos.

VAUSE: Regina, thank you.

ROBERTSON: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: It's so good talking about, you know, remembering just how great Aretha Franklin was.


VAUSE: Appreciate it.

ROBERTSON: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Pleasure. Thank you.

Well, from politicians to fellow musicians, people all around the world are remembering Aretha Franklin.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama tweeted this, "Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade, our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace."

Paul McCartney posted a picture of a young Franklin with the reading, "Let's all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many, many years."

From Elton John, "The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow to everybody who loves real music, music from the heart, the soul and the church."

Rod Stewart said, "Always loved you, always will, Aretha Franklin, not only the Queen of Soul but the queen of all our hearts."

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, dead at the age of 76.





VAUSE: CNN has learned the U.S. president is eager to revoke security clearances for more former government officials. And "The Washington Post" is reporting it's all part of an escalating attack on critics or those who have had a role in the Russia investigation.

There's been a lot of criticism, though, after the former CIA director, John Brennan, was the first to lose his security clearance.

Retired admiral William McRaven oversaw the raid which killed Osama bin Laden and he has offered to give up his security clearance in solidarity with Brennan, saying Trump has, quote, "embarrassed us, humiliated us and divided us as a nation."

Brennan also offered up his own sharp rebuke and while Mr. Trump said nothing actually before the cameras, in a newspaper interview, he contradicted his earlier claim that Brennan's clearance was yanked because of national security. Jeff Zeleny has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, is it appropriate for you to punish your critics?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump folding his arms and biting his tongue today, not answering questions about his retaliation against former CIA Director John Brennan, who has blasted him as unfit for office. At an hour long cabinet meeting...

TRUMP: The past administration, I won't say who.

ZELENY: The president not mentioning or explaining the decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance and review those of nine others critics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leadership of...

ZELENY: But Brennan, the intelligence chief under President Obama who served the administration to both parties is firing back.

In a "New York Times" op-ed, Brennan writing, "Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare and silence others who may dare to challenge him.

"As for the Russia investigation," Brennan added, "Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, 'hogwash.'"

He pointed to this moment from two summers ago when candidate Trump said this.

TRUMP: I will tell you this. Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.

ZELENY: That same day, Russians attempted to hack into Hillary Clinton's server, according to documents in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. A day after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced a security clearance move.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.

ZELENY: She kept silent at the cabinet meeting. Neither her or nor any administration official spoke about the decision today. The president contradicted the claim that it was simply an effort to protect national security, telling "The Wall Street Journal," the Russia investigation was on his mind. I call it the rigged witch hunt. It is a sham, and these people let it, the President told the paper.

So, I think it's something that had to be done. His unprecedented move praised by some Republicans while also criticized by National Security officials of both parties.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIR, SENATE'S COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I thought it was just kind of a banana republic kind of thing and, you know, I don't like it. I think it's inappropriate.


ZELENY: So the President, who rarely holds back his criticism, has been silent on all of this, not explaining his decision and also not explaining the contradiction, if he was trying to settle political scores or simply trying to protect National security.

Interestingly, he's still not answering questions, not even talking about it, even on Twitter. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Dozens were killed in a suicide blast. The violence in Afghanistan will not let up, it seems. The very latest on another Kabul attack, in just a moment.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. It took the Vatican two days, but the church has responded to horrific allegations against more than 300 priests in the U.S., that they abused more than a thousand children.

The church says the pope is on the side of the victims and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who committed abuse.

Tributes and condolences are pouring in for music legend, Aretha Franklin. She died on Thursday, after battling cancer. The Queen of Soul catapulted to stardom in 1967 with Otis Redding's song, Respect. Eventually, she had 20 number one hits to her credit along with 18 Grammy awards. And she was 76 years young.

A new Pentagon report says China is actively developing a fleet of long-range bombers with nuclear capabilities. U.S. military officials believe these aircraft could be ready in the next 10 years. The Pentagon also says China's air force is likely training its pilots for missions targeting the U.S.

Government watched an attack in Kabul on Thursday, the latest in a wave of violence. Afghan security forces killed two of the assailants. The attackers targeted a training center for the country's intelligence agency. This comes after Wednesday's suicide blast, 34 people, some of them teenagers, were killed at an education center in the capital, Kabul.

Afghan troops have also faced a Taliban assault on the City of Ghazni, this week. So, for the very latest, CNN's Ivan Watson, live this hour, from Hong Kong. With regards to these most recent attacks, the two most recent attacks, ISIS, after initially saying it wasn't responsible, is now claiming responsibility.

[00:35:03] IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right. ISIS claiming responsibility for these two deadly attacks that rocked the Afghan capital. The attack, Thursday, on this national director of security training center, and then Wednesday's attack on this education center where teenagers were studying English, so a very bloody and deadly couple of days for Kabul.

And, you know, John, this is, I think, a testament to how long the war has gone on in Afghanistan that this is now being described as the deadliest fighting season in recent Afghan history. You know, the United Nations has put out numbers, casualty figures for civilians in the first six months of this year.

And in comparison with the last decade, this has been the deadliest, so far, with 1,692 civilians killed. A large number of people killed in Ghazni, that city that's only about 150 kilometers southwest of the Afghan capital where the Taliban, not ISIS -- the Taliban mounted an assault on Friday.

It has taken days for Afghan security forces backed by U.S. air power to push the main thrust of the Taliban fighters out of that city.

The United Nations says that city still has a long way to go after that fierce fighting for normality to resume there, for electricity to be reinstalled, for cell phone services, for children to be reunited with parents amid the chaos of the fighting with more than 200 people -- civilians and combatants believed to have been killed there.

You know, the U.N. says that the chief causes of death among civilians are these improvised explosive devices by anti-government forces, insurgents and also suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices and that pro-government forces are also responsible for about 20 percent of the civilian dead, John. This is a war that's going on for some 17 years. John?

VAUSE: Yes, I know. I remember being there when it started. Very quickly, the Trump administration is insisting that it wants a political solution here to try and end this, and there are sources which say it's now holding direct talks with the Taliban. Is there any sense that maybe that strategy isn't working?

WATSON: Well, I mean, you had this real moment of hope last June, when the government and the Taliban had a ceasefire at the end of Ramadan, for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. And the U.S. secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, he suggested that the Ghazni attack might be linked to hopes for negotiations between the government and the Taliban. Take a listen.


JIM MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We now know that the enemy had six objectives in Ghazni. They failed to seize any one of the six locations in the area. It's been principally an information operation to grab a lot of press attention. They've been successful. There's been talk about another -- some kind of ceasefire coming from the Afghan president, President Ghani.

And this is what we've seen before in insurgencies when there's going to be a negotiation or a ceasefire, try to up the ante. This enemy does it by murdering innocent people.


WATSON: So, you know, there is another Muslim holiday coming up, Eid al-Adha, in about two weeks. And perhaps, there was some hope that there could be another ceasefire, which certainly people in that country desperately want a break, from all the killing and bloodshed. John.

VAUSE: Yes, 17 years now, it's crazy. Ivan, thank you. We'll take a short break. When we come back, we'll have a lot more on Aretha Franklin, her life and her legacy.


[00:40:00] VAUSE: Aretha Franklin performed for popes and presidents, but most of all, she loves singing in her local church. For six decades, she was nominated for 14 Grammys, took home 18, and influenced so many.

CNN's Hala Gorani spoke to Debbie and Kim Sledge of Sister Sledge fame, about the influence and the impact of Aretha Franklin.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It's strange because even when you expect it because we knew she was unwell, it's still a shock when someone so huge passes, right?


DEBBIE SLEDGE, SINGER, SISTER SLEDGE: Such a -- such a magnificent personality, and she was such a great part of all of our lives.

GORANI: Can I ask you for a Natural Woman?

D. SLEDGE: Oh, my goodness. We'd love to.

K. SLEDGE: You make me feel -

K. SLEDGE AND D. SLEDGE: You make me feel -- you make me feel like a natural woman.

GORANI: I love that.



(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Natural Woman just one of so many hits, a remarkable collection of signature songs. Here are some of the greatest.



VAUSE: Oh, my God. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay with us now. "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.


[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)

VAUSE: You're watching CNN.