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U.S.-Backed Forces: Captures ISIS Fighters Behind Bombing; Ethiopians Walk Through Yemen's War Zone to Find Work; High-Tech Crosswalks Warn 'Smartphone Zombies' of Traffic. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 20, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): There's still nine days left to do nothing. If lawmakers were hoping for an extension to the Brexit deadline, it might not be as easy as they think.

Brazil's new leader visits the White House, a man made in the image of Donald Trump and the U.S. president liked what he saw.

Also as funerals begin in Christchurch, New Zealand, police say they stopped the shooter from attacking a third mosque. He was on his way to kill again.

Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: The British prime minister needs a Brexit delay and is writing to the European Union and begging for one with no guarantee she'll get it. Nine days left until the U.K.'s messy divorce from the E.U., only now does Downing Street concede this is a full-blown crisis.

On the eve of an E.U. summit the chief Brexit negotiator showed no empathy for Prime Minister May and instead issued a warning.


MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. BREXIT NEGOTIATOR: If Prime Minister May requests such an extension before the European Council on Thursday, it will be for the 27 leaders to assess the reason and the usefulness for an extension. E.U. leaders will need a concrete plan for the U.K. in order to be able to make an informed decision.


VAUSE: CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us from Los Angeles.

Good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Good to see you. VAUSE: Pity the poor E.U. chief negotiator here. The man is looking for a plan. Something from Britain's parliament. It seems he would be happy with a few lines of beat poetry or something contemporary. Here's more from Michel Barnier.


BARNIER (through translator): In the absence of the ratification of this agreement, we're now faced with genuine uncertainty, which applies both to the United Kingdom and European Union and all the member states of the European Union.

To leave this period of uncertainty, we need choices to be made. We need decisions to be taken by the United Kingdom.


VAUSE: Good luck with that. Because when an aide to Theresa May was asked what the precise terms of the extension that she will request in her letter to the E.U., the aide replied, declining saying how long a delay she would ask for or for what purpose, simply insisting, you will have to wait for that letter to be published.

Asking for an extension because you need a little more time, that isn't going to cut it. Requesting an extension so you can lose more of those nonbinding meaningless parliamentary votes, that's not good enough, either. And it seems to be an indication that the prime minister has no idea of how to frame this request to the Europeans.

THOMAS: Right. And they were caught completely off guard when speaker of the house announced that she could not just systematically bring a no vote for the third time before the Houses of parliament.

What's been so remarkable is that the house been weighing in the past few weeks and months on a whole range of amendments and essentially the House of Commons has said no to everything that's come before them, from the second referendum to the withdrawal agreement, to Jeremy Corbyn's plan for Brexit and the list goes on.

The only thing they said they will agree to is for an extension and we have known this for weeks. There's no way across party lines that they were going to be able to come up with a solution. And as the E.U. keeps reminding them there's only two ways to leave the European Union, either with a deal or with no deal unless you revoke Article 50.

This is where we stand and the European Union worked with them. All 27 countries signed off on this withdrawal agreement, which she is incapable of getting through the Houses of Parliament.

So we end up here now with just a few days with the ticker going down on the screen and she still has not figured out what it is she's going to ask the European Union and the European Union becoming increasingly impatient with this process.

VAUSE: The finance minister, Philip Hammond, he manages a double backflip twist on Tuesday. Listen to what he says here. He seems to indicate he wants both a short and a long delay to the Brexit extension. Listen to this.


PHILIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: We want the shortest delay possible. We want to get this done --


HAMMOND: -- so we can get on with our lives and building Britain's future. But what we have to get from the European Union is an extension that allows us to get the deal through Parliament and get the legislation to ratify it through.


VAUSE: Those two things seem to be opposed and it reflects where the government is now.

Brexiteers, they want a short delay.

Those opposed to leaving the U.K. want to draw this out as long as possible.

What are the benefits here of a short versus a long delay for these two opposing groups?

THOMAS: The only way they'd be open for a short delay is if somehow there was consensus around the withdrawal agreement. The E.U. has signed off on it. It would just need a few months for the legislation to put into place and then the lengthy process of negotiating a trade deal could get underway and the U.K. would be out officially and legally out of the European Union.

You see the chancellor, who over the weekend was doubting whether or not there would be any support for this, had the bill been pulled or prevented from coming forward from the speaker of the House, is to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way or mechanism to bring this to the European Union.

And this is what the European Union does not want. It's not interested in this saga continuing on all the way into the elections coming up in May. There's been enough of a distractions and it's contaminating the waters of the E.U. itself.

So all Hammond is talking about here is essentially how do we get to the point where we can continue to pressure people to vote for Theresa May's deal and it doesn't seem that the consensus is there to be built around that.

And the E.U. can see this. It is the prime minister that refuses to listen to the multiple knockbacks she has been getting from the Parliament.

VAUSE: You mention the speaker of the House of Commons, I think the rule from the 600s is actually to blow up the plan for the third meaningful vote and he's now warning a successful application for a delay would not only require the agreement of the European Union, it would require the agreement of the house.

We will have to see whether in due course that will be sought but the certainly agreement of the house is a prerequisite to postponing exit day and the agreement of the union would be also required.

So in theory, the Brexiteers may opt for a no deal, no extension crash out of the E.U. fearing a lengthy delay might mean no Brexit at all.

THOMAS: Right. I think this is really the paradox around Bercow's actions earlier in the week. He's been subjected to all kinds of criticism by the Conservative Party and Prime Minister May. It's very easy to beat up on him in this way.

Paradoxically though, he most likely saved her from a third humiliation in the Houses of Parliament. That does not mean that now that the wakeup call has been sounded in the House of Commons that they might now turn around and realize this is really crunch time and it's time for us to go do so.

But what Bercow also did was try to restore some kind of credibility to a house disrespected by these politicians because of the shenanigans of the past few weeks and to remind them that it will there after them, it was there before them and that procedures are in place and will have to be -- will have to be followed.

So the big question now is what will Bercow allow back into the Houses of Parliament for a potential vote. That's where what the E.U. says is going to be so important. The European Union has an opportunity to delineate what it is they are willing to consider, should Theresa May be able to take that back to Parliament.

Most likely it will need to be something relatively dramatic, in other words, choosing between her deal or no Brexit or her deal and a no Brexit. The European Union is going to want some closure by the time they get out of the meeting this week. And they will want to know where to go. Ultimately the whole purpose of this was to extricate oneself from the E.U. Now they're at the beck and call of the E.U. Council, who will hap out for them what they have to do over the next few days.

VAUSE: So all worked out perfectly well so far. We'll see. This is nuts. Dominic, thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Spring is in the air. A new bromance is in bloom. The U.S. president and the newly elected leader of Brazil, the man dubbed Trump of the tropics, Jair Bolsonaro and Mr. Trump held bilateral talks and their shared camaraderie was on full display. They shared tactics and personality --

[00:10:00] VAUSE: -- both in person and on the Twitter machine. They talked about trade, the crisis in Venezuela and, of course, had a lot of praise for each other.


JOHN BOLTON, TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: May I say that Brazil and the United States stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God our creator and against politically incorrect attitudes and fake news.

TRUMP: As I call it fake news. I'm very proud to hear the president use the term fake news.



VAUSE: CNN's legal analyst and White House correspondent for "The New York Times" Michael Shear is with us now from Washington.

Michael, good to see you.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you too. Happy to be here.

VAUSE: OK. Well, for the most part, the U.S. president has seemed more determined to destroy old alliances as opposed to forming new ones, also Justin Trudeau of Canada, France's Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, you know this.

But here it is here is the secret. Here is the secret to a good relationship with the U.S. president. And it's pretty simple.

You just have to be a boot licking fawning, sycophant, right.

SHEAR: Well, or a Twitter-loving autocrat who sort of insults people and, you know, sort of gets elected into office on the power of a similar kind of campaign that Donald Trump did.

And there is an element of President Trump looking in the mirror and the person he sees back is the kind of leader that he wants to be friendly with. And so that's why the leaders that you talked about before, the sort of traditional allies of the United States -- Britain, France, Canada. Germany, especially Germany's Angela Merkel -- like those aren't people that he sees reflected in his own sort of style or approach to governing and so he has to try harder in forming any sort of bond with them.

Bolsonaro is somebody who, you know, sort of seems like him. And I think that's what where the bond is.

VAUSE: With Bolsonaro. Donald Trump looked in the mirror and he liked what he saw. And once you're on Donald Trump's good sight, it seems the sky is the limit, even the possibility of the U.S. President pushing for full NATO membership for Brazil. Here's Donald Trump. Listen to this.


TRUMP: We're looking at it very strongly. We're very inclined to do that. The relationship that we have right now with Brazil has never been better. I think there was a lot of hostility with other presidents. There's zero hostility with me.

And we were going -- we're going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it's NATO or it's something having to do with alliance. But we have a great alliance with Brazil better than we've ever had before.


VAUSE: But right there on the first page of the NATO Website it says membership is open to any other European state in a position to further the principles of this treat and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area..

Brazil is still a part of South America -- right?

SHEAR: I think it is and probably will be for the foreseeable future. I mean look. I think that the interesting thing that I caught both in the clip that you just played where he sort of caught himself at the end and said or maybe some other kind of alliance.

And then I think later in the press conference he also talked about -- he sort of inserted a phrase when he was talking about this. Well, we will have to have conversations with other people. And I think both of those were moments that it struck me -- he sort of was thinking back probably to advise just moments before, whispering in his ear saying remember, Mr. President, like this doesn't just happen like this.

You don't just wave a wand and bring somebody in to NATO whose not even part of Europe. So, you know -- I mean it's his sort of bumbling way in a sense of expressing a kind of solidarity with his new partner that he really likes. But it's not a very serious proposal. And I think, you know, three months from now. Six months from now, a year from now,

But it's not a very serious proposal. And I think and I think, you know, three months from now, six months from now, a year from now -- either we will have forgotten about it or if we haven't it won't have advanced very far.

VAUSE: Right. OK. Well, Bolsonaro, you know, he's taken a lot of his legal strategies straight from the Trump playbook. On Tuesday he tweeted this controversial video with unsupported claims that some mysterious group is trying to assess -- this is you know, I just want to a long line of controversial tweets by Brazil's new president.

But here's a headline from back in January from a story on Bolsonaro in "The New Republic." "Jair Bolsonaro is not the New Trump. He's worse."

The story concludes with this paragraph.

The president of military rule in Brazil makes him more dangerous than his United States counterpart. In 1999, Bolsonaro declared that if he ever became president, he'd admittedly launch a coup and declare himself a dictator.

Twenty years later, he's in power. Time will tell what kind of strongman he will be. And I think, if you look at, you know, around the world, the elections that we've had and --


VAUSE: -- these leaders who are coming to the fore, leaders rife of best scenario. Winning elected office.

This seems to be the, you know, the real world impact until it's delayed by a year or two of the Trump presidency and this tactic of, you know, discrediting the media and traditional institutions and, you know, the sort of this implicit or not so, you know, implicit support of these strong men and a disregard for the rule of law.

SHEAR: Look -- and I think this what -- when you talk to people who are -- who express real concern about he impact that Donald Trump is having on the world, it isn't so much that they worry that the United States, its institutions are going to be fundamentally undermined. I mean they are undermined in little ways every day

But you know, there's a real faith that in this country, the institutions of democracy are so well established after over 200 years. And that they're pretty solid that they can withstand Donald Trump but the problem is when Donald Trump's, actions inspire somebody like Bolsonaro or others who are in countries where those institutions -- the free press, the court systems, you know, the police you know kind of Democratic rule vis a vis instead of military rule when those things are fragile, you know, what President Trump is doing is giving them a green light to use the tactics that he's using but to much great effect potentially. You know, to an effect that we're, you know, it actually undermines

and support even though we froze democracy. Where as in this country I think the general sense is that, you know, we're going to win.

Whatever critics -- when you know, he doesn't like the asylum courts to exist because why should immigrants have court like nobody really thinks that the court system is going to go away in this country. But in other countries it could.

VAUSE: Yes. Michael -- as always, thanks so much. Good to see you.

SHEAR: Yes, happy to.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: In New Zealand, as families begin to bury the dead, the victims of last week's terrorist attacks, authorities reveal the gunman had much bigger plans, potentially involving a third mosque.

And Mozambique confronts the death and destruction caused by a cyclone. Those stories when we come back.




VAUSE: As New Zealand grieves, many are trying to find ways to bring comfort to the Muslim community after an alleged white supremacist killed 50 people at two mosques. Islamic tradition requires burial as soon as possible --


VAUSE: -- usually within 24 hours but identifying the victims and trying to determine the cause of death has slowed the entire process here. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she knows families are waiting in anguish.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: From the moment that I heard about this terrorist attack and it involving those of Muslim faith, my concern around the 24-hour burial period has been the top of my mind. So I do want (INAUDIBLE) from this.


VAUSE: The first funerals for a father and son were held Wednesday. Hundreds gathered to mourn while heavily armed police stood watch; 30 of the 50 victims have been identified and their bodies will be released for burial.

New Zealand police commissioner says intelligence agencies from around the world are working on the investigation and he also added that first responders and their quick arrival onto the scene prevented even more violence.


COMMISSIONER MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND POLICE: We strongly believe we stopped them on the way to a further attack. So lives were saved by our staff, courageous in their intervention.


VAUSE: Let's go live now to Alexandra Field in Christchurch.

The prime minister says these changes to gun laws will be announced in the coming days. Gun laws haven't really been controversial in New Zealand.

Is that about to change?

Especially after Ardern said that New Zealand up until this point has been a blueprint of what not to do?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, she said there were a lot of loopholes and she has determined that those loopholes would be closed. She went on to say she thought people would be astounded by the kind of access that was possible to military weapons.

There's been efforts in the past to reform the arms act that have been resisted and failed. She believes that public support is on her side and believes she built the political will to get these reforms passed.

It was the purpose of convening the cabinet days after the attacks. She came forward and said they agreed to move forward without giving the details of what they would be and you also did hear from the leader of the New Zealand First party which is the right leaning party and which has resisted reform in the past.

He said the reality has changed. The laws will change. Certainly she is believing that this reform will happen. It's a message that she even shared when she visited a high school here today. This is a high school that was deeply affected by the attacks at the mosques.

A student from that high school was one of the first laid to rest earlier today. Certainly the prime minister was there to comfort those students and to talk about how New Zealand moves forward, not just with gun reform but sharing a message about social media, telling young people it's not just a tool for spreading love but it's a tool that can also be used, as we all know, to spread hate.

VAUSE: Well, also, the prime minister receiving a lot of praise for her response to this tragedy in terms of empathy toward the Muslim community. You know, what brought this comparison to two other world leaders that had a very different response. President Trump in the U.S. believing that white supremacy is not an issue and Turkey has used the streamed footage as part of a campaign and warning those going to Turkey looking for trouble will be sent home in a coffin.

Two very different diplomatic missions.

How has she dealt with those?

FIELD: This is something she was pressed on earlier today. A number of reporters asked her about Erdogan's comment, suggesting these people be returned home in caskets. It really seemed the prime minister was committed to keeping the focus on the domestic devastation here.

She said that Muslims in this community and New Zealanders would get justice through the justice system. She talked a lot about the support being offered to the Muslim community and the outreach to that community and just did not embroil herself with the international words that are being exchanged by other leaders. She did, however, at one point say that the foreign minister has been

dispatched to set things straight in Turkey, to set the record straight. These words certainly eliciting fiery responses.

In other places the Australian prime minister actually summoning the Turkish ambassador to discuss the remarks, rebuking Erdogan for making these insensitive comments saying that the comments should be clarified or, frankly, withdrawn.

VAUSE: Alex, Thank you. Thank you for the update. Appreciate it.

Well, as Alex mentioned, two of the victims were students and the prime minister went to that school and had this message.


ARDERN: Now I know every single one of you right now, just as much as me, want to do nothing more than to ensure that people feel safe and they feel like they can practice their religion no matter what it is, no matter what their background.

And this is where I have something I can ask of you. Feeling safe means feeling free from violence and there's lots of things government can do to make sure that people are free from violence and we will do those things.

But it also means making a place where there's no environment for violence to flourish. We don't let racism exist. Racism breeds extremism, breeds some of the things that we have unfortunately had visited upon New Zealand.

This is my request. I alone cannot get rid of those things by myself. I need help from every single one of us. So if we want to feel like we're doing something to make a difference, get together, send that strong message. Look after one another.

But also let New Zealand be a place where there's no tolerance for racism ever. And that's something that we can all do.


VAUSE: The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Officially at least 200 people have been killed when the typhoon ripped through but many more likely perished in the storm. It is impossible to get an accurate number right now. CNN's David McKenzie has the impact on the country and the people.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cyclone Idai slammed into Southern Africa late last week, cutting across countries and devastating entire cities.

Beira a city of half a million in Mozambique in the epicenter of the storm. Aid agency says 90 percent of it is underwater. The cyclone slammed into the city with winds of up to 175 kilometers or 110 miles an hour, destroying hospitals and homes and killing untold numbers.


RAJINO PAULINO, CYCLONE SURVIVOR (through translator): Flying sheets of metal decapitated people. People are very bad here. Some are in hospital, some are somewhere else. Now we don't have any help here. You see. We don't have any help here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCKENZIE: Some help is already there; search and rescue teams are

working tirelessly to get people to safety. The cyclone winds were bad enough, but the flooding is much worse say aid officials, creating what they are calling an inland ocean. And the threat will increase as more rains set in.

Beira's airport is open, but roads into the city are cut off and phone connections mostly down. Outside of Beira, nobody knows how many people are dead or injured, cut off entirely from help.


FILIPE NYUSI, PRESIDENT OF MOZAMBIQUE (through translator): I spoke with the people and they are calm and aware of what is happening. They said water is a problem and that we need to reinforce food supply and also medicines.


MCKENZIE: Idai's destructive path pummeled Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with nearly 1.7 million people in its path.

Communities near Chimanimani, Zimbabwe are devastated. The storm destroyed roads, homes, bridges and communication lines. The human loss is far greater.


PRAISE CHIPORE, CYCLONE SURVIVOR (through translator): My house was destroyed in the floods and I was buried underneath. My daughter who is with me in bed was washed away from me and a bigger flood carried me farther away.


MCKENZIE: The true impact of the cyclone is only now emerging and aid officials say that the next step is to try to reach those remote areas to save as many people as they can -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


VAUSE: Please go to

Once vast ISIS caliphate in Syria now just a sliver of land and even that is shrinking. When we return, what U.S.-backed forces are facing in the final push against the terror group.

Also thousands trying to walk to a greater life. On the way they'll have to cross through a war zone. CNN investigation. That's next.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news stories this hour.

[[00:31:50] Britain's prime minister appealing to the European Union for a Brexit delay with the deadline now 9 days away. But an increasingly impatient E.U. says it needs a concrete plan from Theresa May and the British Parliament before agreeing to an extension.

U.S. President Donald Trump says the relationship with Brazil is better than ever. At the White House, the two presidents discussed trade and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. Mr. Trump also suggested granting Brazil NATO privileges.

New Zealand's prime minister says she'll be announcing her plan for gun control reform in the coming days. At a news conference following the meeting with first responders, Jacinda Ardern said there are many loopholes that needed to be fixed. The first funeral has been held for two of the 50 victims of the mass shooting.

U.S.-backed forces say they've made major advances in recent days on what's left of ISIS-held territory in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces tweeted out several maps highlighting the ground they say they've gained around the ISIS encampment of Baghuz. This map shows what ISIS controlled on Sunday. Compare that to Monday. The territory was shrinking. And then by Tuesday, all that's left for ISIS was this.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more now, reporting in from Eastern Syria.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say they've taken into custody several suspects, they believe members of ISIS, who were involved in the planning of that January 16 bombing in the town of Manbij, where a suicide bomber killed four Americans, 10 Syrians. Among the Syrians, two members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and eight civilians.

That bombing underscores the ongoing threat posed by ISIS well away from shrinking, dwindling piece of territory still controlled by ISIS.

Today we heard from a spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces who said that that encampment around which we've been reporting from for weeks, that encampment of tents and wrecked cars -- you can call it a junk yard -- is now under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The jihadis apparently using some families as human shields, are now simply along a small strip of land along the Euphrates River.

So it appears that perhaps the end of ISIS as a territorial entity may be hours or just days away. I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Eastern Syria.


VAUSE: Each month, motivated by poverty and desperation, thousands of Ethiopians head out looking for work. And it's a journey which takes many of them directly through Yemen's war zone to try and reach Saudi Arabia, just to find a job.

Here's CNN's Arwa Damon.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They wouldn't do this if they thought they had a choice. Home for them is Ethiopia, but that's now 700 miles away. Miles that were walked, not driven.

"Our country is broken," one of the young men tells us.



DAMON: Yemen.

[00:35:00] (voice-over): From Yemen, he says he can get to work to Saudi for work, to send money to his mother. It's hard to comprehend a level of poverty that would drive someone towards a war zone, especially when the horrors of that war are found on the very same stretch of Djiboutian shoreline.

Manahar's (ph) wife and daughter were killed in a mortar round eight months ago.


DAMON: He tells us of how he spent seven hours in a fishing boat to escape to this refugee camp, only to arrive and find out his son was killed fighting with the rebels.


(voice-over): Najip (ph) and his family just arrived. Over the last five years, around 25 relatives and neighbors in his village were killed.

"In the same area" we ask.

"Yes," he responds. "Homes were destroyed. Schools, mosques."

He remembers seeing migrants trying to cross through Yemen. "We would say, 'Don't go.' They'd say, 'God is with us.'"

Just across the road at this transit center, there are hundreds of Ethiopians, waiting to be repatriated home, hundreds who wanted to make the trip to Yemen.

Thirteen-year-old Moa (ph) says he was stopped by police before he could get on the boat.

(on camera): He says he didn't know there was a war in Yemen.

(voice-over): And neither did the other children here. They didn't know about the bodies of migrants that have washed up on Yemen's shores. They don't know about the bombs, bullets, mines or mortars.

Even the adults, it seems, don't fully understand what lies ahead. And even if they do, it doesn't seem to matter.

At the last stop before Yemen, they gather under trees for shade and protection from the wind and wait for the smugglers.

(on camera): They were just saying, you know, "Maybe there is a war in Yemen. Maybe there isn't."

And I said, "No, there is a war in Yemen."

And they said, "Well, then we have to leave it up to God."

(voice-over): This is, after all, a historic migrant route, and too many of these men have relatives who made it before. Before the war. At dusk, the smugglers arrive to heard the migrants like cattle up the hill and towards the sea.

One of them tells us he sends groups as big as 200 across to Yemen in a day. We ask to follow, but he warns us away. This is the last we see of them.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Obock, Djibouti.


VAUSE: And we'll be back after the break. You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: Most of us have been there: totally engrossed in our cell phones with no awareness of where we are or what's happening around us. It can be an issue at crosswalks, but now a South Korean city has a high-tech solution to this high-tech problem.

Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may have seen videos like these. A pedestrian getting hit by a car while on a smartphone. Or this one. A woman walks into a pole on the sidewalk. Or a man nearly walks into a bear on the street.

They call them "smombies," smartphone zombies who text while walking. It's a global problem. And now a city in South Korea has found a high-tech solution. Ilsan,

about 30 kilometers outside of Seoul, has installed flickering lights and laser beams at a road crossing to warn "smombies" of potential accidents.

Here's how it works. A radar sensor and a thermal imaging camera detect a smartphone user as he or she approaches the crosswalk. Then a laser beam from a nearby power power pole sends an alert to the pedestrian's cell phone, warning of an approaching vehicle. And the red, yellow and blue lights on the road begin to flash, alerting both the driver and the distracted pedestrian.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This flickering light makes me feel safe, as it makes me look around again, and I hope that we can have more of these in town.

HOLMES: The warning system, developed by South Korea's Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, is currently installed at one crossing in Ilsan, but the developers expect it to go nationwide soon.

South Korea's traffic accident analysis system says 1,600 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related accidents in 2017. In a country where smartphone penetration is high, the developers hope the warning system will help bring down that number.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


VAUSE: What do you call something that really wants to leave but is crippled by fear at the very last moment, blames everything on you when it finally gets all that it wants? Did you call it Brexit?

A French newspaper claimed France's European affairs minister had renamed her cat Brexit. In Facebook posts, she wrote that the cat wakes her up every morning, meowing to death because it wants to go outside. And then when she opens the door, he stops, undecided, gives her a bit of an evil look when she puts him out.

But turns out her story was just a joke. Ha, ha, ha, ha. It's funny because it's true.

She says she doesn't even own a cat, but it takes a sense of humor to deal with Brexit. Get a cat. You should get a cat if you're going to do jokes about cats.

OK, well, the Brexit cat was fake. The Brexit mouse, apparently, is real. A man in southwest England caught a rodent on camera, stockpiling nuts and bolts and screws in a garden shred. Obviously, getting ready for any shortages that the U.K. might face if it crashes out of the E.U. without a trade deal in place. A rat or mouse. Rat.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now. WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.