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"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin Dies at 76; Families Mourn Victims of Kabul Suicide Bombing; Syrians Face Difficult Reconstruction after War; North and South Korean Families Will Soon Reunite; Interview with Gene Simmons. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 17, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour criminal and morally reprehensible, possibly the toughest language ever from the Vatican condemning pedophile priests and telling their victims the Pope is on their side. Plus, Donald Trump admits he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan because of his role in the Russia investigation. It seems as if the President might be connecting the dots for the special counsel and his obstruction of justice investigation.
And her voice was the soundtrack of decades of social and political change when she stood up and demanded respect, millions sang along with her. Goodbye and thank you Aretha Franklin. And hello to you and thank you for joining us I'm John Vause, this is NEWSROOM L.A.
The Vatican has broken two days of silence responding in very harsh terms on allegations hundreds of priests in the U.S. sexually assaulted more than a thousand children. Pressure had been building on the Holy Seat to speak out and condemn well as fast becoming a crisis in the Catholic Church in the U.S. Here's CNN's Barbie Nadeau reporting in 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 word 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP) 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 Latza Nadeau, CNN Rome.
VAUSE: With me now here in Los Angeles once again is Father Edward Beck CNN's Religion Commentator. OK, so Father, you know, this two days there's nothing but critics coming out -- or cricket I should say coming from the Vatican. We came to this report that brought out a lot of criticism. Father James Martin with the Jesuits who was known for being very critical of the church, he tweeted this. Yes, it took 17 minutes for this lesbian woman to be fired from her Catholic school job but it took decades for the church to address sexual abuse and then only when forced to. Does he have a point?
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: He does have a point and I understand that perception because the church take the moral authority with sexual issues and says you can't have abortion, no premarital sex, no homosexuality, no masturbation and then you read the report, this grand jury report and you see what some of these pedophile abusing priests were doing. And you think, where is the moral authority of the church in that? How can you tell others what to do when your own priests are doing stuff like this? I understand. There's a real dissonance to that and I understand the anger that just that alone of evokes.
VAUSE: OK, the Vatican was actually informed about this report July 25. The Pennsylvania Attorney General wrote to the Pope. Here's part of that letter. "Last month I plan to release the findings of our investigation. As I prepared to do so anonymous petitioners implicated in this report went to court to stop me and silence the victims notwithstanding the bishops in Pennsylvania pledged publicly to not stand in the way of the truth. Credible reports indicate at least two leaders of the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania while not directly challenging the release of this report in court are behind these efforts to silence the victims and avoid accountability."
So the question here would be are these true leaders that the Attorney General is referencing here, are they acting on their own, the bishop gone rogue or all is this part of a I guess a systemic widespread problem still within the church?
BECK: I think they -- those bishops are acting individually on their own because there is a moral and legal responsibility to report and should make some of this now public. And so if they choose not to do so, like some of the priests claimed the accusations were not substantial enough and there -- they haven't had an opportunity to clear their name so there's some redaction to the report of some of those priest names and supposedly that's going to be heard in September.
[01:05:09] So some of the bishops were saying that the files are incomplete, it's -- the evidence is inconclusive, we shouldn't release some of this so there was a legal battle. But I have to tell you, like any organization the church has legal representation. So a lawyer sits across from you and says bishop, father this is what you do, this is how you handle it. And if you say but we're a church, we have a moral authority. We're not any organization. The lawyer says well then you get somebody else. I'm giving you the best legal counsel. This is what you do here.
So you're really in the middle as not just the CEO or not just an administrator but how are you a moral figure and authority and yet also protect the institution. I think the problem here is it was about protecting the institution more than those who had been abused and I think people said you can't as shepherds, as moral authorities do both.
VAUSE: OK, very quickly. The language used by the Vatican, it's very tough. It talks about the abusers being criminal. Is that a recognition here by the Vatican just how serious you know, all of this obviously is but how serious the crisis now is within the Catholic Church in the U.S.?
BECK: I think they're definitely saying it because they're seeing it globally. I think when the Vatican, the Pope sent the team to Chile to do the investigation and those bishops resigned, that was an indication this is going to begin to be happening in other places as well. The bishops here are now asking for the Vatican to send a team to investigate what has happened here. They want to investigate themselves.
VAUSE: And we still want to hear from the Vatican about will that is going to happen I guess.
BECK: It'll happen.
VAUSE: Stay with us Father Beck, because Dan McDermott is also with us. He's out from Oakland California. He's a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and also Leader of SNAP-Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. So Dan, thank you. So I would like to give you a chance. You've been listening to what Father Beck had to say. I'd like to give you a chance to respond to anything which he said so far.
DAN MCNEVIN, LEADER, SNAP: Well father back sounds like he's a P.R. expert for Exxon or for Big Tobacco talking about legal issues and protecting the institution. He's not talking about kids. He's not talking about rape of kids. He's not talking about bishops who covered up for those rapists and that really is the issue here. It's the issue in Pennsylvania, it's the issue in America, it's issue in Chile it's the issue everywhere.
And so we need to humanize this and not talk about corporate responsibility and then try to conflate it with morality and you talk about really what went on and the numbers and the 70 years of cover-up that occurred. This isn't just yesterday, this report has been delayed by bishops protecting their own. And the question --
VAUSE: And I just want to say -- I don't to interrupt but as I said, we will get Father Beck a chance to respond to this but -- right after we're finished with you, Dan. So you know, I wanted to get your story from you first and then we'll go back to Father Beck
Part of the statement issues by the Vatican reads this. The Holy Father understand in a sense well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all societies. Victims should know that the Pope is on their side.
So you know, isn't that coupled with what the reforms that are taking place over the last couple of years and the language which is out coming, doesn't that actually means something?
MCNEVIN: It doesn't mean much. I take the Pope at his word that he's compassionate but we heard the same words from the previous two popes and then in the process of watching those words get made we saw -- we saw Cardinal law get gets shipped to the Vatican where you could avoid prosecution and we saw nothing out over the last bishop. So we need action. I mean, if this -- Pope is serious, we need action.
VAUSE: OK, with regard to the report and we'll get to action in a moment but with regard to the report -- the response rather from the Vatican, this is what it says about the findings from that grand jury. By finding almost no cases after 2002, the grand jury's conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduce the incidence of clergy child abuse.
So it seems almost like there is a debate now over the pace of change and are things moving quick enough and is enough being done which is a better debate to have than nothing's taking place, right?
MCNEVIN: You know, it's hard to know that, right? It takes -- it takes a full 30 years for a victim to transition to a survivor where he or she can talk about what happened to them. And so abuse that happened in 1992 is now is now -- is now coming to light. And so it's too soon to know whether or not these reforms are and I'm going to put those in quotes, are working.
The reforms haven't included the leadership. They focused on the purse, the Predators but they haven't focused on the people who enabled those predators. We have examples recently of bishops who have covered up for prep -- for predators letting those predators escape this country. That didn't -- that happened in the last five years not in the last 15 years. So there's still a problem culturally with the Catholic Church in its leadership. And victims want to see, survivors want to see this Pope take concrete action.
We think it probably involves more cooperation with secular authorities. The reason this report is so explosive is because it involves secular authorities who didn't -- who were not self-reporting or had conflicts. The statistics doubled out of other reports that came out of Catholic driven reports. And so that tells you that -- go ahead.
VAUSE: Just very quickly, I just wants to know, Dan, on what you think needs to be done because you talk about secular authorities getting involved in these initiations but what -- you know, if you could, if you had your druthers, what would you -- what do you want the church and the Pope actually do?
MCNEVIN: I would like to see for example the bishops in California voluntarily petition the Attorney General to open a secular investigation of their diocese all 12 of them. I think that would permit an outside influence to look over the shoulder of the church and assess what's really been going on. At that point, you have unconflicted advice about what has occurred what can change in the future.
VAUSE: OK. Dan, stay with us. I want to get back to Father Beck now because I want to give you a chance to respond to some of the stuff -- some of the issues and the statements which Dan has raised.
BECK: Well, I certainly hear Dan's anger and he's hurt and I think it is justified what he is saying. I mean, I can understand if you're in that situation. If you feel as though you've been betrayed by this institution because of egregious errors and I think that those errors are certainly self-evident and I think what Dan said is that really the bishops have not been held accountable, those who have transferred predator priests.
VAUSE: You agree with that?
BECK: I do agree with that and I think that that's what now is going to get the next step. How are Bishops going to not self-monitor themselves but by an outside committee they're going to be monitored and they're going to be reported and they're going to have to be accountable in a way that they weren't before.
VAUSE: So that's why the reforms are they calling for here in the U.S. They want an independent system for filing complaints that the church is not really involved in.
BECK: That's right. It'll be independent, authoritative, and will be mostly lady so that it's not self-policing. And so I think what Dan is saying, and you know, what you were saying Dan earlier, I wasn't trying to make excuses for the church and sound like a CEO. I'm not here as an apologist for the church I'm here as the CNN Religion Commentator.
What I was trying to say is that if you want to try to understand how could the church could have done this or even attempted cover-up, when you're getting legal advice about something of how to handle something and you're a worldwide institution and certainly I will talk about the world in just the United States there is a certain amount of protection of the institution and the resources of the institution that is a responsibility and so the bishops are in the middle of how do you be pastor and shepherd and it also maintains that responsibility and listen to your legal counsel says look this is what you have to do as the administrator of this diocese.
Now I think that we've made some bad choices there but I'm just trying to explain what that tension -- VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) was happening maybe at the time without the
benefit of hindsight. So I think it's a good point to leave. Father Beck, thank you so much, Dan McNevin also in Oakland, California. I thank -- my thanks to both you. We appreciate it. We lost Dan at some point there but Father Beck, thank you.
Well, CNN has learned the U.S. President is eager to revoke security clearances for more former government officials. The Washington Post is reporting it's all part of an escalating attack on critics all those who've had a role in the Russia investigation. Former CIA Director John Brennan was the first to lose his security clearance. This all comes as the President faces new accusations from his former adviser and fellow reality T.V. star Omarosa. Kaitlan Collins has details now reporting from the White House.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump going silent when it came to questions today.
[01:14:58] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it appropriate for you to punish critics Mr. Trump?
COLLINS: As two of his loudest critics launched their attacks.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Hey, it's the art of the deal.
COLLINS: Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman releasing another tape this time with the President's daughter-in-law discussing a role with the Trump 2020 campaign. Lara Trump offering her $15,000 a month for an undefined role as long as she kept things positive.
LARA TRUMP, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can't have, we got to.
MANIGAULT: Oh, God, no.
L. TRUMP: Everything, everybody, positive, right?
COLLINS: That conversation happening after a December interview where Omarosa said, she'd seen things in the White House that made her uncomfortable. Omarosa left out what she said during the call, but said today she saw it as hush money.
MANIGAULT: I saw this as an attempt to buy my silence. To censor me and to pay me off $15,000 per month by the campaign.
COLLINS: In a statement, Lara Trump denying Omarosa's account. Claiming the job offer was made before she was aware of Omarosa's gross violations of ethics and integrity in the White House. Ask if she's going to release more tapes, Omarosa playing coy. MANIGAULT: If I need to. I'll do what I have to do to protect
myself. Donald Trump has met his match.
COLLINS: Omarosa releasing her fourth tape, one day after the White House tried to extinguish her news cycle. Announcing president Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan.
An outspoken critic who said his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin was nothing short of treasonous. Sarah Sanders offering these explanations for the unusual move.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His erratic conduct and behavior. A history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility. Leveraged his status as a former high ranking official.
COLLINS: But Trump upended that defense when he blurted out that the reason for revoking Brennan's clearance was the Russia investigation. Telling the Wall Street Journal, "I call it the rigged witch-hunt, it is a sham. And these people led it." Adding, "It's something that had to be done."
Sanders and other official staying quiet today. But Brennan did not. Writing in an op-ed for the New York Times, "Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are in a word, hogwash."
Now, back to that tell-all book from Omarosa, we have received an exclusive letter from her publisher, Simon & Schuster, in response to a letter they say they received from Charles Harder, the attorney for the president's reelection campaign.
They say that this is a threatening letter that they received from him saying that they could be subject to monetary and punitive damages if they move forward with the publication of this book.
However, they are pushing back and pushing back hard saying that they won't be intimidated and neither will their client. And quote, "By your hollow legal threats," and they are going to proceed with this book as scheduled. Kaitlin Collins, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: And remember when the president floated this big idea for a military parade of tanks and stuff? Well, it might just have to wait. Donald Trump had the idea after watching the Bastille Day parade in Paris, he asked the Pentagon to look into it. It was all meant to happen on Veterans Day.
But on Thursday, the Pentagon hit the brakes, at least, for now, and says, it might just have to wait until next year. The American Legion says the money, $114 million I think at one point would be better spent funding the Veteran Affairs Department.
Tribute and condolences are coming in from around the world for music legend Aretha Franklin. She died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. The Queen of Soul catapulted to startup in 1967 with Otis Redding song, Respect. A lot more on her death and her phenomenal voice in just a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: You make me feel -- you make me feel -- you make me feel like a natural woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:22:11] VAUSE: And that was an unforgettable moment in a life that was unforgettable. Aretha Franklin, singing at Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009. It was a bitterly cold day that blue -- that will go down in legend. And Aretha Franklin passed away on Thursday. She died from cancer.
Former President Barack Obama was among those around the world offering their thoughts and condolences. He wrote on Twitter, "Aretha helped define the American experience in her voice. We could feel our history, all of it, 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.
Donald Trump also had a few words to say about Aretha Franklin's life and her death. Not surprisingly though, his remarks to some seemed offensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions, she was terrific, Aretha Franklin on her passing.
She's brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God, her voice. And she used it well. People loved, Aretha, she's a special woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Still not entirely clear what the president meant by saying, "She worked for me." She did perform at a Trump property back in 1997, but there was outrage because there was an implication here that the president had characterized their relationship as boss and employee.
Here for us now, for more on Aretha is Kerry Gordy. He's the son of the Motown Record founder, Berry Gordy. So, I'm glad you came in.
KERRY GORDY, SON OF MOTOWN RECORDS FOUNDER, BERRY GORDY: Thanks.
VAUSE: Because - you know, this is kind of -- everybody has been talking about she's a legend, the voice is amazing, Queen of Soul. We really wanted to talk to you about what made this voice so incredible? Why she was able to do what she did? Because she was at -- she had this powerful, she be emotional, she be stirring, she be the fire, but there was always -- it was always rich and was always beautiful. So, with that in mind, I want you to listen to a brief clip here from one of her earlier songs its Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, released in 1967.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN: If you want to do right, all day woman. You've got to be a do right all night man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. Rolling Stone called that "A master class and vocal restraint (INAUDIBLE) and dynamic control. Aretha transformed Do Right Woman, Do Right Man into a southern soul standard." I mean, that was so incredibly nuanced. You know, when you listen to her is amazing.
[01:25:02] GORDY: Well, I've seen with such an original.
GORDY: That anytime she would put her thing on a song, it would be unique. And another thing is this that she would say stuff back in the late 60s that women would not say, now woman might think it.
GORDY: But they, they wouldn't say it. I mean, basically, she's saying "Listen, you better be careful what you do because I can do the same thing too." Right?
VAUSE: Like -- what you're saying is her personality, she put all that into the way she performs.
GORDY: Oh, absolutely, absolutely she was -- she was truly amazing and the biggest thing is she was unique.
GORDY: She was unique.
VAUSE: We talk about being unique. She could take songs that hit for other artists. And I think the best example of this is Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel.
VAUSE: They -- it was a number one hit to them.
VAUSE: A year later, she performs the same song. It's completely different, not wanted, as well. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN: Like a bridge over troubled water. I'll be there, laid me down. Yes, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, Frank Sinatra could do this. He could take any song and get make it his own, and it's such a rare talent.
GORDY: Well, you know, she had the ability to make you believe whatever she was talking about. And if you were on the other side of that speaker, you actually believed everything that she said. And it was a -- it's -- that's the unique of hath. I mean, that's the -- that's what makes a great artist, unique.
VAUSE: Makes it a legendary artist I can do it.
GORDY: Yes, yes, absolutely.
VAUSE: Was that sort of born of her own personal experience because she had a pretty tough life, right?
GORDY: Well, the fact is, is that yes, you know, she came up from the church and she had all of those experience. She's also came up through the civil rights movement which gave her those experiences, as well.
So, to that end, she could put all of that stuff. And yes -- you know, she had a child when she was 12 years old and of 14, right?
VAUSE: Wow! And another one when she was 14, it's amazing.
GORDY: And 19.
VAUSE: Well, OK, (INAUDIBLE).
GORDY: And no, no, but I think, you know, my daughter is -- my daughter is 18 years old. I can't imagine her having three children.
VAUSE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) 14, it's very terrific. OK.
GORDY: Two children, she could have two children.
VAUSE: Exactly, man, OK. So, you took mention the civil rights movement.
VAUSE: That's going to -- that's going to get us to her greatest hit of all time, Respect. GORDY: OK, OK.
VAUSE: It's written by Otis Redding.
VAUSE: It was originally like a love, relationship song. He did OK with it. Aretha comes along whole different level. Listening to the opening line here, especially, when she hits that word "what". Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN: What you want? Baby, I got it. What you need? Do you know I got it? All I'm asking is for a little respect when you come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, what? What you want? I mean, it's like in your face, man. It's like -- that's what a love song.
GORDY: How about -- how about give it to me when you get home.
VAUSE: You know, exactly.
GORDY: Right? So, wait, so -- OK, she, she was actually the connotation even though she was talking about respect, when she says give it to me when you get home, you -- that, that had a sexual connotation to it, as well.
VAUSE: You know --
GORDY: But she spoke.
GORDY: She spoke to women.
GORDY: She spoke -- she spoke to defiance, she spoke to power, she spoke to respect for women. And so, to that end, she was speaking to a generation of young women who were coming into their own. And being able to say things that women couldn't say back in the 60s.
VAUSE: And they all sang along. I mean, the best part of this is I love how she vocalizes R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
VAUSE: Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, were not glad it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C- T, hey take up (INAUDIBLE). Give respect, give respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, you aren't impossible not to be belong, not to be behind, R-E-S-P-E-C-T man.
GORDY: OK. First of all, I have to tell you. I was a child when I came out. And I have to tell you, it actually was the first song that taught me how to spell. Right?
VAUSE: It is a good thing.
GORDY: So, I --and it was the first song that actually made me listen to a lyric. And I just think that the way that she came over the speaker system made you feel something special.
GORDY: And she was -- she was -- she was amazing.
VAUSE: That song write last -- that -- OK, that track is two minutes and 28 seconds.
VAUSE: And that's a lot of goodness, a lot of emotion and power. And two minutes is very (INAUDIBLE).
GORDY: Right, right, yes, it is.
VAUSE: I love that. Kerry, thank you so much, it's good to see you.
GORDY: Hey, man, it's good to see you again.
VAUSE: You're welcome.
GORDY: Good, see you.
VAUSE: Well, fans of Aretha Franklin are giving her respect every way they can.
[01:29:55] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: That song lasts -- that track is two minutes and 28 seconds.
KERRY GORDY, SON OF MOTOWN FOUNDER: Yes.
VAUSE: And that's a lot of goodness. A lot of emotion and power --
GORDY: Right. Right.
VAUSE: -- in two minutes and 28 seconds, right.
GORDY: Yes. It is.
VAUSE: Kerry -- thanks so much. It was good to see you.
GORDY: Hey, man -- it's good to see you again.
VAUSE: Be well.
GORDY: Good. See you.
VAUSE: Well, fans of Aretha Franklin are giving her respect every way they can. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is now a shrine -- flowers, photos, notes, even a little red crown for the Queen of Soul.
Over at the Apollo Theater in New York City's Harlem, it's long been considered Aretha Franklin's home ever since she first performed there in the early 1960s and fans have been gathering there beneath that landmark marquee.
And of course, the legendary Fox Theater in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan --paid tribute calling her "forever our queen".
Her voice truly one of a kind.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
The Vatican has finally responded to allegations that 300 priests in the U.S. sexually assaulted more than a thousand children. The church says the abuse in the report is criminal and morally reprehensible and says there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permit abuse.
U.S. President Donald Trump apparently is eager to strip more people of their security clearances in the coming days, especially critics and those who played a role in the Russia investigation. He faces growing backlash after revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan.
Tributes and condolences are pouring in for the music legend Aretha Franklin after she died on Thursday from cancer. The Queen of Soul catapulted to stardom in 1967 with Otis Redding's song "Respect". Eventually she'd have 20 number one songs to her credit along with 18 Grammy Awards. And she was just 76 years old.
Afghan authorities say at least two gunmen are dead after attacking an intelligence training center. All these happened on Thursday on Kabul one day after an horrific suicide blast.
As CNN's Phil Black reports, many of the victims were teenage students. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Red-eyed and exhausted, two brothers speak with pride about their youngest sister, Rahila.
ABDULLAH RAFI (ph), BROTHER OF VICTIM: She was an innocent girl, really an innocent girl, and all the people were loving Rahila.
When I was little, she was so intelligent. She always got first position at school.
[01:34:58] BLACK: Rahila was studying when she was killed. It took just one violent moment to inflict all this. In that instant Rahila and dozens of other people were thrown, torn, crushed and burned.
They had been preparing for university admission exams when someone entered their classroom and triggered a suicide bomb. Rahila's brothers ran between hospitals desperately looking for their sister. They eventually found her body. Her face was unrecognizable.
HAMIDULLAH RAFI, BROTHER OF VICTIM: We found Rahila by this watch, and it is still -- it has blood on itself.
BLACK: The bombing means many people in this community must now bury sons and daughters. Their faces are consumed by sorrow and rage.
This woman screams furiously blaming the Afghan government for bloodshed that seems never ending, even while some of the victims are lowered into the ground, machines and men continue working nearby, digging more graves.
In Rahila's home her broken watch now lies on her desk next to books and the grades which show she graduated top of her class.
A. RAFI: She wanted to travel all Afghanistan provinces. One day she told me that I hope there are war, there are no fighting.
BLACK: But Rahila never knew peace, like the war in Afghanistan. She was 17 years old.
Phil Black, CNN -- London.
VAUSE: With Syria's civil war winding down many are now looking towards reconstruction. But that won't be easy. Russia wants financial help from western nations, but the U.S. and its allies are reluctant, especially with President Bashar al Assad still in power.
For more now, CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports from Homs.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The territorial gains that the Russia military has helped Syrian government forces achieve really are quite impressive. The Russian military has driven us on this trip from the southern border of Syria all the way up here to Homs -- that's several hundred kilometers, without having to make way for any sort of area still controlled by opposition forces.
At the same time you do see a lot of the problems that Syria still faces. You look at the city that we're in right now -- Homs. There's still so much reconstruction that needs to be done.
We're in the central part of the city. Of course, people are trying to rebuild. You see some scaffolding. You see people cleaning up, but a lot of money and a lot of resources are needed.
Homs' governor says the city is doing its best with what it has.
TALAL BARAZI, GOVERNOR -- HOMS, SYRIA (through translator): In May 2014, rebels have abandoned the old city of Homs leaving behind major damages. The very next day when fighters left, we allowed people to come back to the old city.
PLEITGEN (voice over): One lighthouse project -- Homs' historic market has just reopened after being almost totally destroyed in the fighting that raged here.
This is what the market looked like four years ago when CNN was on hand as Syrian government forces retook the old town of Homs from rebels.
Some reconstruction is going on in Syria, like this bridge in the town of Rastan. But hundred of billions of dollars will probably be needed to get the country back on its feet. And Moscow wants western nations to pitch in.
MAJOR GENERAL IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN ARMY (through translator): Of course it's very hard because the scale of damage is large, and people no doubt need help, especially those who are coming back to their homes. They need help to get back to normal life and make the economy work.
PLEITEGN: Western countries are reluctant to provide reconstruction help with both the Assad government and its Russian backers accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- claims they vehemently deny.
The Russian army took us to a military food and medical aid station, handing out rations to Syrians still struggling just to get by and uncertain who will provide aid to repair the massive damage this war has caused.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Rastan, Syria.
VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., nearly 100 South Koreans will have the chance to reunite with loved ones living in the North after decades apart.
[01:39:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: To Genoa, Italy now where at least 38 victims from the bridge collapse will be honored at a giant funeral and a national day of mourning this weekend. It's still not known how many are missing days after this disaster.
Search crews are still trying to break through the concrete and the debris. The company which maintains the bridge is being blamed by some Italian politicians for the collapse. But an executive with Autostrade says there was constant monitoring and no indications of any structural problems.
A mother in South Korea and a son in the North -- they spent nearly a lifetime apart separated by war and the demilitarized zone between the two countries. But in just a few short days they will finally get the chance to see each other face-to-face.
Here's Paula Hancocks.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lee Keum-Seum (ph) is 92 years old. Oblivious to the crowds in the Seoul shopping center, she has an outfit to buy for a very special occasion. On Monday Li will meet her son for the first time in 68 years.
Lee and her husband were among many North Koreans who fled South as the Korean War took hold in 1950. She recalls walking for days carrying her one-year-old daughter; her husband carrying her son. She left the road to breastfeed her baby, slipped and sprained her ankle. When she returned she couldn't find her husband.
(LEE KEUM-SEUM SPEAKING -- GRAPHIC UNREADABLE)
"I run into my brother-in-law. He said my husband had gone back to find me."
HANCOCKS: As the fighting caught up with them, Li had to take a train, then a ship and waited in South Korea for her husband and son to catch up. They never did.
LEE: Whenever I woke up, I would take my daughter out in the field and sit on a rock. That was my spot and I would cry. I cried every day for a year.
HANCOCKS: Lee is one of 93 South Koreans who will be reunited with family members they haven't seen in decades out of 57,000 who had applied. These reunions happen only when the relations between the two Koreas are good. The last one was three years ago.
It is an emotional and highly-controlled three days at a mountain resort in North Korea.
LEE KEUM-SEUM, SEPARATED FROM HUSBAND AND SON: --
I don't remember what my four-year son -- would it be ok to hug my son? He is over 70 years old now. When I see him I'll call the name Song-chol and hug him. That is the only thing on my mind.
[01:44:52] HANCOCKS: Jung Kea-hyun (ph) is still waiting. He's one of thousands who can only wonder if their chance will ever come. He's 85. His two brothers -- one older, one younger -- did not manage to escape the North during the war. He has heard nothing about them since.
JUNG KEA-HYUN, SEPARATED FROM BROTHERS: At the very least, if I can't have a meeting, I just want --
I cried a lot. I left when I was 17. Isn't that a time when I should have been in my mother's --
HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN -- Seoul.
VAUSE: We will take a short break.
When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., the lead singer of Kiss and the Queen of Soul -- we'll hear from Gene Simmons and his connection to Aretha Franklin.
VAUSE: Well, she demanded respect and she got it especially from other greats of music who are now sharing their thoughts and condolences for Aretha Franklin.
Paul McCartney posted a picture of a young Franklin with this caption. "Let's all take a moment to give thanks to the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the queen of our souls who inspired us all for many, many years."
Elton John, "The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music, music from the heart, the soul of the church."
Barbra Streisand posted a picture of herself with Franklin back in 2012 writing, "It's difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.
Well, Aretha Franklin was an artist who not only sang about respect, she demanded it.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aretha doesn't just get -- she gets a lot. Imagine a president adjusting your foot stool --
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There you go.
ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: Ok.
MOOS: -- sort of the same way she started around age 9.
FRANKLIN: They would have me stand on a little chair and sing.
MOOS: Singing gospel, then singing soul.
MOOS: How did she make us feel? "We have lost the greatest singer of our time," tweeted Billy Joel. Stars like Barbra Streisand and Oprah posted photos taken with her. The Queen of Soul died on the same date as the King of Rock, 41 years apart.
MOOS: Aretha wasn't lonesome. She died of pancreatic cancer at home with family. Temporarily, political bickering came to a halt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what -- I'm sorry to interrupt. I'm very sad to report this morning --
MOOS: Fans imagined Aretha walking through the gates of heaven like royalty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a diva?
FRANKLIN: No. Would I be a diva? I'm really a very -- very down to earth, I really am.
MOOS: Dictionary.com honor Aretha with this entry. Even if the way she sang it made it harder to spell it.
OBAMA: R-e-s-p-e-c-t meant to her.
MOOS: "Respect" won Aretha the first of her 18 Grammys. When they called to say she would be awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom she thought --
FRANKLIN: Is this a joke.
MOOS: Her second husband, divorced but still close, said she had a wonderful sense of humor.
[01:50:00] ED BRADLEY, HOST: Can I ask you about sex? It's in a lot of your songs? I mean it's --
BRADLEY: Well, lust.
FRANKLIN: Come on.
FRANKLIN: No, no, no. BRADLEY: Good feelings.
FRANKLIN: You got me mixed up with somebody else -- Ed.
MOOS: Mix up Aretha -- not possible. She sang at Martin Luther King's funeral.
MOOS: She let freedom ring at the Obama inauguration --
MOOS: -- and at Kennedy Center, her performance drove Carole King into ecstasy.
President Obama didn't just sing along, he wiped away a tear. It happened again at another occasion when she sang "America" and the attorney general also cried.
MOOS: The Queen of Soul able to touch our souls.
Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.
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.
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, 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 eight 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 names Merry (INAUDIBLE) local DJ 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.
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.
[01:54:54] 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 (ph) 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.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
We'll have more news in just a minute. But as we go to break, a little bit more from Aretha Franklin -- a couple of her greatest hits.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: After days of public criticism, the Vatican finally responds. What it's saying about --