Return to Transcripts main page


Russia Plans Largest Military Exercise in Decades; Merkel Condemns Hate in the Streets in Germany; Study: Air Pollution Can Make You Less Intelligent; U.S. Not Suspending Any More S. Korea Military Drills; U.N. Goodwill Ambasador Recounts Plight Of Refugees; Trump Promotes Unsupported Conspiracy Persecution. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 29, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:24] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, U.S.-South Korean military exercises no longer on hold as nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang appear to stall.

(INAUDIBLE) of Rohingya Muslim goes to the U.N. amids of harrowing stories of rape and torture, there are now demands Myanmar's military and civilian leadership be held accountable.

And there'll be violence and mayhem if Republican's lose control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections. And no one will be allowed to say Merry Christmas anymore. At least, that's what Donald Trump is telling Christian supporters when the cameras are not rolling.

All right, great to have you with us for another hour, I'm John Vause, and this is NEWSROOM, L.A.

Another diplomatic set back to the already troubled nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced Tuesday, joint military exercises with South Korea will no longer be on hold.

Just over two months ago, President Donald Trump took many by surprise, including allies, Seoul and Tokyo, when he announced the military drills were suspended. It was a good will (ph) gesture for the North Korean leader after their summit in Singapore.

But Secretary Mattis says suspending the military drill was never meant to be open-ended.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We took the step to suspend several of the largest exercises as a good faith measure coming out of the Singapore summit. We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises.

We will work very closely as I said, with the secretary of state. And what he needs done, we will certainly do to reinforce his effort but at this time, there is no discussion about further suspensions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: CNN Paula Hancocks, joins us now from Seoul South Korea. And in San Francisco, Paul Caroll, senior adviser at the nuclear disarmament group, N Square.

Paula, first to you, if these joint drills are no longer suspended that would suggest there would be a major military exercise sometime in the future, what's the timeframe here?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, John, the next time that we will see one of these major drills is actually next year (ph), be in springtime. The full legal key resolve - these are the ones that every year, no matter what relations are like with North Korea, annoy (ph) Pyongyang. They always react to those particular drills.

Now, there were drills, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian which is supposed to be going on right now. These were the ones that were suspended by U.S. President Donald Trump. But we have been hearing from people here on the ground, as well, that this was never intended to be a long-term situation.

We heard just last week, from General Vincent Brooks, who's head of the U.S. Forces Korea. And he said that this was just an adjustment. This was to give the diplomatic angle a chance to work. Really to give breathing time for diplomacy.

And as he said - as Secretary of Defense Mattis has said, as well, there is still these ongoing smaller exercises constantly. So, there is a constant working together of these two militaries, the U.S. and the South Korean. But these are lower key, these are smaller, the type that North Korea doesn't usually react to.

VAUSE: We have seen to get - you know, a hint that there was really trouble afoot last Friday when the president tweeted this, "I've asked the state - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

And then, on Tuesday, the State (INAUDIBLE) diplomacy it's still going on. Listen to this.


HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE: The diplomatic effort is still ongoing. I know a lot of people are interested in sort of where this stands, the president overall remains very clear-eyed about the challenges and difficulties ahead of us. We have long said - the secretary has long said that this wouldn't be easy from the start.


VAUSE: OK. So, Paul, what is that? Are they making enough progress to keep this moving forward, or is it all over, or - you know, or - you know, is there enough momentum if you like to try and get - you know, get over what appears to be a fairly big speed bump?

PAUL CAROLL, SENIOR ADVISOR, N SQUARE: Well, I would like to start with the good news. But unfortunately, it's going to be a pretty brief statement. The good news is that, yes, the United States and North Koreans are still communicating.

I wouldn't go so far to say they're still talking. I mean, the last communication we heard about was a rather belligerent letter from the North saying, you know, you guys are way off base.

But, the fact remains that Secretary of State, Pompeo, is the lead, he has this portfolio, and his - it is his job to move things along. What spokeswoman Nauert said though, really is one part of that is not true that the North is sort of progressing.

The International Atomic Agency came out with a report just a few days ago, one of the most damning in recent memory, saying, they continue to do construction at the Yongbyon facility. They continue to clearly enrich uranium and maybe enrich uranium, and they may be separating plutonium. So, it's business as usual with respect to North Korea's nuclear program.

The interruption in the military drills as your colleague said is really just a good faith effort to support diplomacy. I wouldn't - I wouldn't put much at all in the statement saying, well, we don't plan to continue holding them off. They're not going to occur again for months down the road.

[01:06:05] VAUSE: OK, they tell me, were we getting a little bit (ph) low (ph) on time. But, so, Paula and Paul - very quickly, Paula I want to go to you because Seoul is taking a very different approach to dealing with Pyongyang, especially when you compare relations between Washington and Pyongyang right now. So, what are they doing there in Seoul with regard to Kim Jong-un?

HANCOCKS: Well, we know that the South Korean President Moon Jae-in is still planning to go next month, mid-September, likely to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-un. What the Blue House is calling the third summit between the two leaders.

And there's an assumption now that this meeting is even more important than it ever was before because President Moon is going back into this mediator role. He is not just going to improve inter-Korean relations, he also has to now try once again to bring Washington and Pyongyang closer together.

So, from the inter-Korean point of view, they are continuing with the - with the cooperation with seeing a lot of meetings between the two and all sorts of different things, forestry, trains, infrastructure, sporting diplomacy. So, certainly, from the inter-Korean point of view, it's going ahead.

VAUSE: And so, Paul, just to wrap this up, on the one hand, you got Seoul taking this here, let's get a lot closer to the regime in Pyongyang. But then you got Tokyo which continues to see North Korea as an urgent nuclear threat. So, what is the - what is the implications here? If you have two key regional U.S. allies taking a very different approach, almost like this schizophrenic North Korea policy of Donald Trump, when it comes to North Korea.

CAROLL: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, the cliche of "it takes a village" is not happening here. When the - when the six-party talks were the most effective, it was when all of the other parties, China, Russia, the United States, Japan, and Seoul, were on the same page.

And today, we don't have that at all. Not only are we not coordinating with our allies in Seoul, we're communicating really from an arm's length, we're phoning it in. That's not an effective recipe to move things forward.

VAUSE: OK, Paul and Paula, as well. Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate it.

With me now here in Los Angeles, Democratic Strategist Caroline Heldman, author of the new book Sex and Gender in the 2016 Presidential Election. And Republican strategist Charles Moran.

So, I guess sex and gender did play a role in the presidents -


VAUSE: OK. So, everyone should go out and buy that book. It will (ph) be a (ph) good (ph) read (ph) I'm sure.

HELDMAN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: OK, let's talk about what's happened with these talks between the United States and North Korea. The joint military exercises appear to be back on. Here is how the U.S. President described those drills, I think just over two months ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I wanted to stop the war games. I thought they were very provocative. But I also think they're very expensive. We're running the country properly, I think they're very, very expensive to do it.

We have to fly planes in from Guam, that's 6-1/2 hours away. Big bombers and everything else. I said, who's paying for this? I mean, who pays in order to practice?


VAUSE: According to the Pentagon, the Freedom Guardian Exercise with South Korea, the one that was postponed or suspended was estimated to cost the U.S. about $14 million, a little more than the now canceled Trump military parade.

But, the question is Charles, simply by using the same words as the President of the United States, the U.S. military could soon be engaged once again in what is a provocative act on the Korean Peninsula.

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, part of this is, is being provocative. Letting South, or South Korea-North Korea exist in the state where - you know, North Korea has got to hold up to their promises, and what again this (ph) four principles coming out of the summit were.

Just as Secretary Mattis said, this was not necessarily supposed to be something that was a long-term hold off on those war games. And President Trump clearly annunciated one aspect of the consideration about the cost of doing that. But that's not the only consideration.

Again, part of, I think, President Trump's overall strategy - and you see the strategy with a lot of different things, trade negotiations, where - you know, he'll lay out the table. But he is not afraid to walk away from the table and say, "Hey, if you guys don't hold up your ends, I'm going to come back on the - on the - on the concessions that I gave you." And one of those concessions was discontinuing the war games. It's inconsistent (ph).

[01:10:14] VAUSE: Caroline, OK, you know, is this a teachable moment for Donald Trump?

HELDMAN: Well, I don't think he is somebody that wants to learn from his mistakes and the only consistency with Donald Trump's foreign policy is the absolute chaos with which he practices all of this. He has very little understanding.

What we're talking about here is, in denuclearization or a peace agreement that never existed. So, nothing could fall apart, and it is a rues for us to talk as though there was somehow some agreement. There wasn't an agreement, there were some general rules written down, there was nothing that was actually decided upon.

Every expert said this from the left and the right, who knew anything about how these agreements are made. So, Donald Trump just got played by - you know, a millennial dictator of a rogue country and he seems to be the only one who doesn't know this.

VAUSE: Well, that's just the kind of negative story, Caroline, that Donald Trump would not like to see turning up on his Google search of Trump news, despite (ph) all (ph) the (ph) presidency as bias and negative reporting which is - you know, an overwhelming part of Google's search apparently. And apparently, it's all Google's fault. Here's the president.


TRUMP: I think what Google and what others are doing if you look at what's going on with Twitter, if you look at what's going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you're - you can't do that to people, you can't do it.

We have tremendous - we have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in, and you just can't do that. So, I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory, and they have to be careful, it's not fair to large portions of the population.


VAUSE: OK. So, after possibly Googling himself, early on Tuesday morning, about an hour before dawn for (ph) the term Trump news, he blasts (ph) off (ph) some fairly angry tweets because the search results which came back according to the president were, he thought, which (ph) are a very skewed (ph) to show untrue, fake news, negative stories about him.

Now, you know, this theory, if you like, first appeared over the weekend on a right-wing blog. There it is, and by Monday night, it was just fact. By the time it reached the Fox and Business Network.


LOU DOBBS, ANCHOR, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Google blatantly suppressing conservative media outlets from American searching for Trump. On the site, takes you interesting places. 96 percent of the results from national left-wing media.

In the first 100 results, CNN appears most frequently, 21 times, followed by Washington Post and NBC. That is tough going.


VAUSE: You know, tough going indeed, Lou. OK. So, Charles, Google News is dominated by the mainstream media. This study was (ph) supposed to appear on P.J. Media, the blog, considered (Ph) the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, business insider, every outlet from Routers to Bloomberg as being left-leaning.

So - you know, if you think that, that is actually accurate, then, yes, you probably do think that all of this Google results are in fact skewed and are left-leaning, or you could be delusional.

MORAN: I think that President Trump is setting the table for a larger conversation that's going to be happening, and that's going to be the next round of congressional testimony. With Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook is going to be there. There's going to be some people there from Twitter, making a surprise - a reprise appearance.

The CEO of Google declined the invitation. I would probably say that that - that may have been one of the things that prompted President Trump to actually speak out specifically about Google. But let's also remember, that Google is one part of the Alphabet, and Alphabet owns things like YouTube. And YouTube has been consistently criticized for pulling down very fair, very balanced content.

One example, Prager University, as some of their - their webinar series. Pulling it down and labeling it - you know, either fake news or not credible. I mean, so, there is a consistent story. And if you even listen to some of that congressional testimony, that precedent is set and is probably the framework for President Trump's comments leading into the next round of congressional testimony.

VAUSE: Caroline.

HELDMAN: No, absolutely not. It is just a free speech issue. So, it's one thing if Donald Trump wanted to say - you know, 126 million Americans were manipulated by Russian bots on Facebook and Russian planted stories on Facebook during the election and deal with that.

It is quite another to say, that there is bias and somehow he is going to be regulating the content, which is rich, coming from a man who doesn't use a laptop. And who obviously was on someone else's laptop. And their algorithm came up with - you know, some decent credible news stories instead of some of these right-wing -

VAUSE: Because that's how that algorithm works, right?

MORAN: But I want to talk about those Russian bots. Let's talk about the shadow banning that the president of Twitter admitted was going on in the -


VAUSE: No. No, no, no.

HELDMAN: He didn't do that, not - that. Charles, that's fake news.

VAUSE: No, no, no. I would do a fact check here. Because what happened is the guy - the boss (ph) from Twitter said, there were - because Twitter is a nasty place, right? Twitter is the ghetto nasty place of social media, OK? So, people go to yell at each other. And there's nasty stuff on there.

And so, to try and deal with that, they put in place, basically a program which would take care of all these nasty comments and basically put these people on a timeout for a week. You've been a bad person, your accounts go out (ph) for a week. And it turned out that there was a -


[01:15:18] MORAN: Wow, talk about free speech, wow.

VAUSE: Well, there is free speech -

MORAN: Free speech.

VAUSE: We're doing a free speech on Twitter because -


VAUSE: Anyway, let's move on. Because it seems that behind closed doors, Donald Trump is a lot more worried about the looming midterm elections than he is actually when he's out in public. He's got (ph) a closed-door meeting on Monday night at the White House where he was meeting with Evangelical leaders, that the November midterms will be a referendum not just on him but also he said, "It's a referendum on your religion. It's a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It's a referendum on so much, they will overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa, these are violent people. You're one election away from losing everything that you've gotten. Little thing, Merry Christmas."

Well, actually, you could say Merry Christmas. But Charles, this is all just sounding like a very desperate president.

MORAN: Well, the violence is something that we see, Antifa, you know, the violence that the left is continuing to you.


HELDMAN: That is seem the Antifa violence is meant (ph). If you want to look at violence, Heather Heyer was murder by - I've been to many of these events as well.


MORAN: It is - and no it's not. I've been watching and I was there to see. It Berkley to see the things being we're on fire.

HELDMAN: Charles, Heather Heyer. Heather Heyer was murdered by neo- Nazis.

MORAN: The millions of dollars have damage. Only been - I will back this one up. The police where you teach, at my alma mater on September 11th, a couple of years ago, there were people who are pulling flags out of the ground on September 11.

HELDMAN: And that's violence? Oh, goodness. Oh, goodness.

MORAN: Because saying (ph) it was (ph) a microaggression. It's American -

HELDMAN: You know, I'm sorry Charles if you - if you think pulling flags up, it - they were lighting things up. That is (INAUDIBLE).

MORAN: Lighting things on, I think about lighting things on. In Berkeley they were lighting things on fire, that was not a (INAUDIBLE). The tens of thousands of dollars conservative groups on campuses.


HELDMAN: You know, Charles, it's not the same thing to be a Nazi and punch a Nazi. Just like it's not the same thing to be a pedophile and punch a pedophile.

MORAN: Yes, tens of thousands (INAUDIBLE). Free speech is getting shut down. The (INAUDIBLE) is that the left doesn't care. They don't care about the rights, they don't care about the amendments to the constitution. They don't. If they disagree, burn it down. If they disagree, burn it down, that's the left. That's the left.

HELDMAN: Charles, no, the Antifa is reactionary (ph).


VAUSE: This sort of this claim that the president is putting out there that without him, there will be violence. Everything will be terrible.

If he gets impeached, the stock market will crash and we'll all be poor. That somehow all of this - you know, that without him we're all destitute in this hell rats, you know - urban ghetto sprawl surrounded by violence with no money.

HELDMAN: He has inspired violence. Whether it is the homeless man who was beaten by the two men who said they did it in his name, or the 200 percent approximately increase in hate violence that's been tracked since his election, or Heather Heyer, or - you know, the child, the infant who just died because she got an infection in ICE and the violence of ripping children from their families.

It is rich for folks on the right to engage in this level of violence and then get upset when you have people pushing back against Nazi fascism. Again, not the same thing to be a Nazi and to punch a Nazi.


MORAN: They have the left (INAUDIBLE). First person that whoever those that left is the first group to throw names, to drop bombs - and to literally drop bombs as we were seeing in places like Berkeley.

HELDMAN: Heather Heyer. Heather Heyer, Heather Heyer was murdered by a Nazi, Charles, there's nothing you can say. Nothing you can say.

MORAN: Protesting, shutting down free speech. The right has always been there through free speech. Open and free, and the left is (INAUDIBLE) into shutting it down. And when you start - and when you - and when you start this fasting (ph) with the First Amendment, then you've lost Democracy, and that's all the left wants to do.

HELDMAN: Indeed, so let's not investigate Google and limit their free speech.

VAUSE: And so (Ph), we settled on that topic because we could have gone for a very long time, right? OK. Good to see you both. Thank you so much.

And the conspiracy theorist in chief, he's back at it in the pass hour. Donald Trump tweeting about another unproven story being reported by conservative media outlet. Hillary Clinton's e-mails many of which had classified information got hacked by China and next move better be by the FBI or the DOJ, the Department of Justice

So, after all of their other missteps, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, dirty dossier, et cetera. Their credibility will be forever gone.

Short break here. When we come back, the Roman Catholic, Church, predator priests, and a cobra (ph). Pennsylvania's Attorney General tell CNN, they went all the way to the Vatican.

Also an impassioned plea from Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett, on behalf of Rohingya refugees.


CATE BLANCHETT, GLOBAL GOODWILL AMBASSADOR, UNHCR: Refugees move back home when it is safe and secure to do so. The Rohingya cannot return to the very conditions they were forced to flee. We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again.



[01:22:14] VAUSE: There was a lot of tough talk at the U.N. condemning the atrocities suffered by Rohingya Muslims at the hands of Myanmar's military. But still no sign anything will actually be done to end this year-long crackdown.

The Security Council convened on Tuesday after a new report found Myanmar's military leaders committed genocide and crimes against humanity. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, says military and civilian leaders must be held accountable for the horrendous persecution of an ethnic minority.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as many of a million of them now living on a sprawling refugee camp. China and Russia are using their veto power at the Security Council to stop these accusations from being tried at the International Criminal Court.

Academy award-winning actress, Cate Blanchett, took on a very different role, Tuesday. She's a Goodwill Ambassador who recently returned from the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. But when she spoke to the Security Council, she spoke as a mother.


BLANCHETT: Nothing could have prepared me for the extent and depth of the suffering I saw. An 18-year-old woman who I'll call Laila is chief amongst my memories. Laila fled her burning village with her infant son, Yousuf. As she cradled Yousuf in her arms, she described to me how her husband was forcibly taken for her - from her village, and how he had not been heard from since.

And as I sat with Laila a small child was playing behind me. And I noticed some terrible scars on his leg. And when I asked how he came by these, his family told me that he had been caught in the flames when their home had been torched. Luckily, they pulled him free, but the scars will remain. Both the physical and the psychological.

If only such stories were atypical. But visiting with refugee families in Bangladesh, I found that they were shockingly routine. I am a mother, and I saw my own children in the eyes of every single refugee child that I met. I saw myself in every parent. How can any mother endure seeing her child thrown into a fire? Their experiences will never leave me. In 1978, 200,000 Rohingya refugees streamed into Bangladesh. Freeing brutality and widespread abuse.

Gul Zahar, a young Rohingya woman was amongst those who fled. Fourteen years later, in 1992, another wave of violence forced 250,000 stateless Rohingya refugees to seek safety once again in neighboring Bangladesh.

Once again, Gul Zahar was amongst those who fled. Today, there are 900,000 stateless Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Gul Zahar, now 90 years of age is sadly amongst them once more.

Four decades following her initial flight, Gul lives in abject poverty in Bangladesh with the sole wish that her great-grandchildren will have a better future.

The many refugees that I spoke with consider Myanmar their home, but they have real, deep fears about returning there. The denial of their right to move, their right to marry, their right to work, their right to health care and education, renders them amongst the most vulnerable people on the planet.

Refugees move back home when it is safe and secure to do so. The Rohingya cannot return to the very conditions they were forced to flee. Mr. President, together, we need to change the future of Laila, of Yousuf, of Gul Zahar, and of the Rohingya living in Myanmar, in Bangladesh, and beyond.

There are no shortcuts. There are no alternatives. We have failed the Rohingya before, please let us not fail them again. Thank you.


[01:26:16] VAUSE: Australian actress Cate Blanchett right (ph) there, on the plight of Rohingya after just returning from one of the refugee camps there in Bangladesh. And Myanmar says its own investigation is underway and they've questioned the impartiality of the U.N. report.

So it's about (ph) three hours from now, Pope Francis will hold his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square. It's not known if he'll actually say anything about new allegations, the Vatican was aware of the effort to hide sexual abuse of children by priests in the U.S. and also failed to act. We have more now from CNN's Alex Marquardt.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an explosive claim from Pennsylvania's Attorney General. That the Vatican had been ignoring repeated warnings for decades that this rampant sexual abuse of children was happening.

The almost 900-page grand jury report which was released two weeks ago details how the cover-up of these abuses went all the way to the Vatican and that has not been highlighted until now.

The Attorney General Josh Shapiro says he does not know though whether Pope Francis was aware. Take a listen to what Shapiro told CNN.


JOSH SHAPIRO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA: That cover-up went all the way to the Vatican. The church's own documents that were in the secret archives presented in the grand jury report show the connection between the abuse and cover-up in Pennsylvania and the fact that the Vatican was informed of it.


MARQUARDT: A Vatican spokesman has responded saying, "If the prosecutor is referring to something outside of the report, we'll wait to see that before commenting." That was in the report, so the Vatican has yet to really respond to this stunning allegation.

Shapiro went on to say that the abuses were documented as were the efforts to cover up for what he calls the predator priests. The documents kept in what Shapiro called secret archives. More than 300 priests are accused of abuses in this Pennsylvania report. But because of the statute of limitations in that state, only two of them have been prosecuted. Alex Marquardt, CNN, New York.

VAUSE: Unprecedented in size, scale, and sheer firepower, Russia plans to hold its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War. But, why now, what's the point? More on that in a moment.

Also Germany's leader has condemned the far-right with thousands turning out for a violence anti-migrant protest.


[01:31:02] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The U.S. President Donald Trump promoting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about Google. Trump is alleging the search results on Google are rigged against conservative views. Google denies the accusation and says search results are determined by algorithms which consider multiple factors.

China and Russia have blocked U.N. action on alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Security Council was hoping to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court after an independent report recommended genocide charges for the military's top -- Myanmar's top military leader.

A U.N. fact-finding report on the war in Yemen is blaming both sides for atrocities against civilians that could be considered war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels is accused of thousands of civilians' deaths caused by air strikes. Both sides are also blamed for torture, sexual violence and using children as soldiers. Russia is set to stage its biggest military exercise since the Cold War era. Hundreds of thousands of troops and about a thousand aircraft will be deployed to Siberia next month and once long-time rival China will also take part in these drills which will simulate large scale warfare.

The Kremlin defends and the size and the cost of these war games saying despite the economic problems at home, spending on defense is justified and necessary.

Well, for more now on what all this actually might mean, director of the USC School of International Relations Robert English is with us. Good to see you. Thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: You know, this is sort of, I don't know, it seemed to come out of nowhere in some respect because the last time, you know, Moscow did anything like this, it was what, 1981. (INAUDIBLE) or East 81 -- I probably said that wrong.

You know, this was the days of the Soviet Union, you know, East and West were locked in the cold war -- so, what, why is Putin doing this now? What is he hoping to prove, what does he have to gain?

ENGLISH: It costs less to stage a big military exercise like this, to show your strength and resolve than it actually does to purchase new weapons and train with them.

The Russian defense budget has actually been going down in recent years. That is not something Russia wants to advertise. So, whenever there's a new weapon, or something on the drawing board, there's a lot of hype. This is another kind of hype showing determination, showing strength.

But John -- you know, 300,000 infantry men running around, a bunch of tanks charging across the field -- they're preparing for World War II.

VAUSE: Yes. Ok, back to the future. Ok. The location of the exercises means that Moscow is not required to notify the West. It doesn't have to invite observers from Europe.

But there are reports that military attaches have been invited to see this. So clearly, you know, Putin and the Russians want, you know, a few people or a few countries out there to take a closer look. Is that a fair assumption?

ENGLISH: Yes. We're not exactly sure what that means. On the one hand it's, you could say, a good gesture. They don't want to be criticized for doing this in secret.


ENGLISH: The best (ph) we could do is we've got something to show and we're going to rattle the saber and if we have coverage that's a little scary, so much the better.

VAUSE: Ok. So as we have heard from the United States president, war games are not cheap. He, you know, complained about the joint military exercises with South Korea. So the presumably the bigger they are, the bigger the price tag for these games. Still not quite the same as, you know buying and training on new weapons.

But the Kremlin was specifically asked about this on Tuesday during a regular briefing. And why, you know, Vostok 18 had to be so big. Dmitry Peskov said "The country's ability to defend itself in the current international situation which is frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly towards us absolutely justified and has no alternative."

Now I found that statement to be, you know, a little bit off base for them. It just -- first of all it just doesn't ring true.

[01:34:55] And secondly, given the state of Russia's economy, is there likely to be any kind of domestic outcry at the cost of these games given, you know, the life, the quality of living for so many Russians right now?

ENGLISH: There could be. Certainly there will be, in a more liberal western-leading, European-oriented, highly-educated segment of society. But I think for ordinary Russians, Putin knows his people and he know what he's doing.

And so the gain from showing strength, showing we are prepared that if anything the west throws at us, we can throw back at them. That outweighs any concern that this is expensive.

Don't forget Putin is playing another game with that on the economic front. Pension reform is highly unpopular. That basically means raising the retirement age a lot. So proposals were announced back in May that for example men, not age 60 but 65 right; women from [EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM 01:35:50 - 01:37:45]

VAUSE: Ok. Robert -- thank you so much, as always. Pleasure to have you with us.

Officials in Germany say fake news is at least partly to blame for fueling anti-immigrant violence in the east of the country over the past few days. Protests erupted after reports a 35-year-old man was killed through an altercation with two men -- one from Iraq, the other from Syria. But officials say many details on social media were inflammatory and inaccurate and quickly spread.

More details now from CNN's Atika Shubert.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A mob of thousands in the streets of Chemnitz shouting Nazi-era slogans, targeting immigrants and refuges. Some gave Nazi salutes -- a brazen violation of German's tough laws against hate speech. Fireworks were launched as weapons, bottles thrown injuring 20 people including two police officers.

Police (ph) now admit they underestimated the crowds and the anger, temporarily losing control of the streets in this violent revolt again Germany's refugee and immigration policy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced intense political pressure after opening Germany's doors to more than a million asylum seekers, many from Syria.

At a presser with his Irish counterpart, Germany's foreign minister tried to explain what happened.

HEIKO MAAS, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): It is intolerable what happened. It is the task of the state to shed light and investigate crimes and also, hold perpetrators to account. And this is why Germany has not presented itself in the best light.

I don't believe that this reflects the reality in Germany.

SHUBERT (on camera): Now, this is where it all started in the East German town of Chemnitz.

This is the spot where, according to police, a fight broke out between five individuals at around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. A 35-year-old German man was killed, stabbed to death. Later on, police arrested two individuals, a Syrian and Iraqi on suspicion of murder.

[01:40:00] (on camera): That triggered calls on social media to take to the streets including this Facebook post with a photo of the bloodstained crime scene from the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany.

What was supposed to be a spontaneous demonstration on Sunday afternoon against Germany's refuge policy had become an angry mob. With hundreds shouting "foreigners out" and "this is our city".

Police had promised to regain control of the streets, but on Monday it happened again with even bigger numbers. What is behind the lawlessness? And will it spread? On the streets of Chemnitz, residents tell us what they think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I just don't think it's so good that this murder has been manipulated. I find it very frightening to now hear people saying we must defend our city.

I found it really frightening when I saw the videos today chasing down foreigners. It sent shivers down my spine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): In Chemnitz, we stand for humanity, for solidarity, for togetherness and against agitation, against a raging mob which portrays Chemnitz as a racist city.

SHUBERT: East Germany has long been at the heart of the country's simmering anti-immigration movement chafing under the refugee policies of the federal government. But the chaos in Chemnitz has been the most serious manifestation of that public anger so far. Atika Shubert, CNN -- Chemnitz, Germany.


VAUSE: Almost a year on and Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria has been officially revised from 64 to nearly 3,000.

CNN's Leyla Santiago was among the first to report official numbers just didn't match the reality of what she was seeing first-hand across the aisle. And he was more now on that revised death toll.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A new number when it comes to Hurricane Maria. Death toll -- the government of Puerto Rico has changed it and what was just yesterday 64, is now 2,975. This comes after a study from George Washington University. The government of Puerto Rico commissioned, paid for this study.

And in it, researchers talk about the challenges that Puerto Rico had and made recommendations saying that one of the big problems, Puerto Rico was only prepared to handle a Category 1 hurricane. Obviously Hurricane Maria was much, much more than that.

But this analysis -- this study was a statistical analysis. It is not a list of names, a list of deaths but so many families say they still want as a matter of closure and also, to qualify for financial assistance from FEMA. Of course, the big picture of all of this, if you don't understand who died when, where, and how, there's no way of preventing this in the future. Any expert in the field will tell you that.

So, what is next? Well, this was phase one of the study. Researchers from George Washington University say they want to get to phase two -- a deeper dive into the issue. They want to talk to families who have lost loved ones and possibly get to that list that accounts for all the deaths. But the big problem, that part of the study still has not been funded, and of course, Puerto Rico is very much in debt.

So, will Puerto Rico take action on those recommendations made in the study? We will have to wait and see.

Leyla Santiago, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Next up here on NEWSROOM L.A., it's one of the moments you are lucky if you get it once in your life.

We will tell you what this senior French official did, why he did it, and where.


VAUSE: You know, sometimes you've had enough you just want to quit. Well, France's environment minister Nicolas Hulot was live on radio. He was disapproving of the government's policies and efforts in regard to climate change, and so put a fork in it. He's done.


NICOLAS HULOT, FRANCE'S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER (through translator): I'm going to take the hardest decision of my life. I don't want to lie to myself anymore. I don't want my presence in this government to give the illusion that we are doing enough to answer these challenges. So I am taking the decision to leave the government.


VAUSE: And he's done. The French president, though, has defended his government's environmental record.

CNN's Melissa Bell though explains how Hulot's departure is a setback for the Macron administration.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): He is well liked in France. He is well respected. He has always been seen as a champion of this very important cause; someone who had spotted it way before the rest of the world was paying attention.

Jacques Chirac had tried to give him a job in government. So had Nicolas Sarkozy, so had Francois Hollande. All had failed. Emmanuel Macron got him to be his ecology minister and now he's gone.

That is, of course, a massive blow to the government, also to one that really needed to keep such a left-wing politician within ranks to prevent that sort of feeling that is growing amongst the French public that Emmanuel Macron's government is veering ever more to the right.


VAUSE: Well, from the President's office, they say the President has not spoken to Hulot about the resignation, at least not yet.

Well, we all know air pollution is not just bad for your lungs. Apparently it's bad for your brain; it makes you dumb. Nikhil Kumar has more on a new study.


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF (on camera): Breathing in dirty air could reduce brain power. That's according to a new study which shows air pollution has a significant impact on our cognitive abilities.

The research published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows prolonged exposure to air pollution causes a steep reduction in verbal and math test scores. Researchers looked at data from China covering more than 30,000 people whose test scores between 2010 and 2014 were mapped against their exposure to short and long- term air pollution. Here's the sobering finding. Both verbal and math test scores went down as the exposure to air pollution went up. When it came to verbal test scores, the link was particularly stark among older, less educated men.

Now, this is only the latest in a series of warnings about the impact of air pollution, a problem not just in China but across large parts of the industrialized world, including here in the Indian capital, Delhi.

Come winter this city is often enveloped in a thick, choking smog, the result of breakneck growth and little planning for its environmental fallout.

The World Health Organization says that nine out of every ten people on the planet breathe air containing a high level of pollutants with the worst affected regions being Africa and Asia. In fact, the WHO says all of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in developing countries.

And the problem isn't just limited to major cities. A study earlier this year found that 75 percent of air pollution related deaths in India were in rural areas. Warnings have been repeatedly sounded about the impact on our lungs. In Delhi, sometimes the air is so bad that breathing it is roughly equal to smoking more than 40 cigarettes a day.

But as this latest study shows the health effects of air pollution can extend beyond our lungs into our brains.



VAUSE: And meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has more on this study. You know, I spent, what, four years in China and Beijing sucking in dirt every day.

[01:50:00] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I'll let you say the rest.

VAUSE: Yes. You work it out.

JAVAHERI: I think you're still a pretty sharp guy.

VAUSE: I could have been a genius. Look at me now.

JAVAHERI: You could have. Yes, exactly. You could have been somebody.

Let's show you here how this has played out, you know. And really it stands to reason too, John -- on a serious note that if this indeed is happening and impacting people in such a way that their cognitive abilities are being reduced and certainly impacted as well that stands to reason that, of course, the economic development in some of these nations has already slowed because they're developing nations. As it stands, it really makes it that much more challenging of an uphill battle to bring them up to other areas of the world standards.

But if you take a look, even 24 hours ago, of course, the heart of summer -- Beijing, this is what it looks like; the pollution still at an incredible level. Nanjing also much the same -- again, just in the past 24 hours.

So it is not just a wintertime event now where we often see a lot of the homes that are heated, whether it be by coal or other methods there that really increases the pollutants.

And you take a look. The top 20 most polluted cities on our planet, there's only one of them that's actually in China and that's Baoding. And there are a couple of them in Africa. You go in -- 17 of them, in fact, are located across Bangladesh, Pakistan or India. In fact, you take China, you take India -- 51 percent of all global pollution- related fatalities are associated with those two countries.

So, again, China doesn't have all of the e most polluted cities, but it does have a pretty large area with a lot of people that are impacted by it so it accounts for quite a bit of fatalities.

In fact the most recent data, the 2016 data, shows over six million people directly related to pollution fatalities or equivalent to over 16,000 people a day losing their lives because of particulates in the atmosphere.

We're talking about particulates. These are about 30 to 40 times smaller than a grain of sand. So, again, very understandable how they can get into your lungs, into your bloodstream, certainly impact your abilities as well cognitively.

And you take a look. The Health Effects Institute releasing the top leading causes of fatalities. Pollution comes in number four, right behind smoking there.

And of course, we often show you this chart -- the green indicating the good levels or the healthy levels of pollutants. And look at the chart around the world over the past decade or so. North America generally into the green; work your way into Europe, you've got quite a bit of yellow. And of course developing nations into the Middle East and eventually on into China, you see tremendous areas of red. That is where a lot of people are being impacted and that is unfortunate. Looks to be the case for at least the foreseeable future.

VAUSE: Yes, I remember when we had our daughter there, and we were told she shouldn't spend any more than four years, the first four years of her early life there because the damage could be permanent. So anyway -- I think it was five, so we spent four.

But, yes, it's dangerous. And that was a while ago before they found out about all this stuff. Pedram -- thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you. VAUSE: Sometimes it's the simple things that just seem so hard.


Donald Trump, President of the United States: And I believe the president is on the phone. Enrique? It's a big thing -- a lot of people are waiting. Hello?



VAUSE: The British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Africa promoting trade and investment in a post-Brexit world. I want to just show how British she really is and try and dance.

[01:55:01] There she is with schoolchildren in Cape Town in South Africa. You know, they say politicians really they're not always known for their dance moves. And there we go -- case in point.

The prime minister will also visit Nigeria and Kenya. And you know, we are going to keep a close eye and hoping for a few more of those smooth moves. Thank you, Prime Minister.

It may have been one of the most awkward Oval Office moments so far, but you know, there's still two years to go. Donald Trump's attempt to reach out to Mexico's president via speaker phone was made for memes. And it was made for Jeanne Moos as well.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a speaker phone that refused to speak.

TRUMP: Enrique?

MOOS: When President Trump called the president of Mexico --

TRUMP: You can hook him up.

MOOS: -- in front of a hoard --

TRUMP: You tell me when.

MOOS: -- of press. Awkward.

TRUMP: A lot of people waiting.

MOOS: But the President wasn't the only one pressing buttons. Internet meme makers edited in music.

TRUMP: Hello?

MOOS: From the credits on "Veep" to the theme from "Curb Your Enthusiasm".

TRUMP: Enrique?

MOOS: Critics offered technical suggestions. For instance, a phone featuring buttons for Russia, nuclear launch, diet coke, cheeseburgers and chicken.

The "Daily Show" left a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are calling you from the investigation team of IRS. We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings.

MOOS: President Trump is a meme machine. The other day he inspired two memes during one visit with kids. The kids opted to draw red and white stripes, but someone noticed the President has colored his flag wrong, creating a blue stripe.

Now, we're pretty sure the President knows what color the stripes really are. As someone noted, he literally has it pinned to his suit coat, plus he likes to wrap himself in it.

Someone suggested he might be drawing a Blue Lives Matter flag in support of police. Another taunted, it's the Russian flag.

As for the other moment that was flagged, call it the glare. It's not so intense in the video, but the photograph was irresistible to captioners.

Don't you bleepin' flip on me.

Another day, another meme.

And by the way, once you get the speaker phone to speak, make sure it doesn't keep listening after you hang up.

TRUMP: Good-bye, Enrique.

MOOS: Twice.

TRUMP: Ok, so we --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Another day.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. The news continues on CNN after a short break.