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Justin Trudeau Apologizes Again for Wearing Blackface; Iranian Foreign Minister: U.S. or Saudi Strike Would Trigger All-Out War; Hundreds of Water Rescues in Flash Flood Emergency; Strikes and Events Planned Around the Globe; Gloria Stein in Push to End Korean War; Political Consequences of Russia & North Korea's Clash at Sea; Student Fatally Stabbed While Onlookers Filmed Attack. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: First it was brownface. Then came the blackface, and now another. But is Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, two-faced when it comes to his commitment to diversity and the rights of minorities?


Also this hour --


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What will be the consequences of an American or Saudi military strike on Iran now?



VAUSE: Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says Iran will not blink in defense of its sovereignty as the U.S. and its allies weigh what to do about those airstrikes on Saudi oil facilities. It's an exclusive interview you'll see only here on CNN.

Also, kids taking the climate crisis into their own hands in a global day of protests demanding the adults finally act like adults.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is apologizing again after a third instance surfaced of him wearing racist makeup. He says he can't remember whether there are more instances out there, but Mr. Trudeau first apologized on Wednesday, when "TIME" magazine posted a photo of him wearing brownface back in 2001.

This latest scandal is shaking up his image as a champion of social justice as he fights for his political future in a tight reelection campaign. We begin our coverage now with Paula Newton, reporting in from New York. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At issue now is more than one picture or video of Justin Trudeau in darkface: brownface, darkface. As the prime minister said himself, it was racist makeup. So there is the incident that was first uncovered, which was him as a teacher at 29 years old, in an Aladdin costume, presumably. And then a picture of him in high school, impersonating Harry Belafonte. And then another very disturbing video that shows him really being -- joking around, and it's clear that he is in blackface.

The prime minister offered several apologies, but also disturbing was the fact that he said he didn't know if there are more instances. Take a listen.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: People who live with the kind of discrimination that far too many people do because of the color of their skin or their history or their origins or their language or their religion face on a regular basis. And I didn't see that from the layers of privilege that I have, and for that, I am deeply sorry.

NEWTON: Now, he spoke of privilege there. That privilege included being the son of a Canadian prime minister, as well. And community leaders want Canadians who go to the polls October 21 to try not to count this as winning and losing in politics and what it will mean as a campaign, but to really see it that the systemic racism that people go through each and every day and they're hoping that, of this terrible incident, at least Canadians and others will realize that that systemic racism exists and isn't going anywhere for the time being.

Paula Newton, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: To British Columbia in Canada now and global affairs analyst Michael Bociurkiw. He's also the former spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Michael, thank you for joining us.


VAUSE: OK. Big problem for Trudeau, if he wants to put this scandal behind him, it's that he can't definitively say if there are more images of him out there, you know, in this racist make up, this blackface. Here he is explaining, you know, the problem he's facing.


TRUDEAU: I am wary of -- of being definitive about this, because the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered. And I think the question is, how can you not remember that? The fact is, I -- I didn't understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every single day.


VAUSE: OK, so to that last point, among the subjects he taught was drama, which seems to suggest, you know, he should have, at least, had some awareness of the history of blackface in Canada, which is just as racist, just as offensive as it is in the United States.

BOCIURKIW: Absolutely. I mean, he was a drama teacher, and especially that video shows him being kind of foolish and playful.

But you know, I must say, John, it's not every day that you wake up as a Canadian and you see images flashed around the world of your prime minister dressed up in such an offensive type of way.

As I wrote in my CNN op-ed piece today is that, had you asked me yesterday what kind of chances the liberals had in the October 21 election, I would say that they probably were headed for a minority government, but after today, even though this isn't that big of a deal in vote-rich Quebec, I'd say in this neck-and-neck race, because of what happened, because of the gravity, it could very well be headed for the opposition benches. It's a huge fall in popularity and grace from where he was a few years ago.

VAUSE: Really, it really is his worst nightmare, you know, in so many different ways. And even before the scandal sort of broke, the opposition had been running these campaign ads about him, accusing Trudeau of being less than authentic. Have a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions are now being raised about his competence and judgment. In response, he's again lashing out and threatening lawsuits against his critics. Justin Trudeau, he's not who you thought it was. He's not as advertised.


VAUSE: And this controversy just seems to play into all that perfectly. You know, essentially, you're saying he's a public champion for diversity and acceptance when he's in front of the cameras, but behind closed doors, he's out there wearing blackface.

BOCIURKIW: Yes. Well, as that ad indicates, it's a very toxic campaign.

And you know, John, I have to point out that it's actually, I think, the Trudeau liberal war room that started these kind of attack ads. What they've actually done is collected a treasure trove of very damaging social media posts of opponents. And day after day after day especially targeting the conservatives, their main opponents, saying that this guy is racist, and this guy is homophobic.

And it's actually resulted in candidates resigning. Now, had what happened to Trudeau overnight happened to a regular candidate, including from the liberal party, I think that candidate would have very well been packing their bags today, because it seems that Trudeau still has this untouchability about him. But for other candidates, this would've been extremely, extremely grave.

VAUSE: Well, you know, conservative commentators around the world, Christmas came a little early this week. Australia's "Herald Sun" newspaper, the conservative columnist Andrew Bolt wrote this: "Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the clown prince of woke.

This sanctimonious preacher declared 'racists don't get to define who we are as a country,' yet now admits he himself was racist for posing in blackface. How we laugh to see the woke revolution now eating its own."

Over at the FOX News Channel here in the United States, there was also unbridled joy. Here he is. This is Tucker Carlson.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Like your brother-in-law with the ponytail, Trudeau brags about being a feminist. Use the wrong word in his presence, and he'll launch into a self-righteous lecture. Justin Trudeau may be the most sanctimonious head of state on planet Earth. So of course, he was leading a secret life as a racist. That's why he's so sanctimonious.


VAUSE: Let's assume for a moment that Trudeau actually does survive this, and maybe he's determined to have a minority government. You know, regardless, he returns, I guess, as a prime minister significantly weakened. Also significantly weakened on the world stage, as well.

BOCIURKIW: Oh, absolutely. We've been the subject of a lot of ridicule today, I think, and especially Trudeau.

You know, John, I think what would happen earlier on is that the Trudeau machine, if you will, got very high on a lot of that international coverage that you pointed to: cover of "Vanity Fair," that sort of thing.

So they paid a lot of attention to his image being properly molded overseas, but not as much here. The big, big question that happened here is especially what happened in the United States earlier this year with the Virginia governor and his darkface allegation.

If you saw what's happening, if you saw where trends are going, why didn't you come out with this earlier? Why didn't you inoculate yourself, come out with these revelations, and say, this happened a few years ago; and it shouldn't have happened and I'm sorry. Instead, he kept it to himself.

And this is why a lot of Canadians are asking themselves who is this man? Can we trust them? And what else is actually hiding behind that facade?

VAUSE: Yes. This is not over yet, not by a long shot. Michael, thanks for being with us. We really appreciate it.

BOCIURKIW: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Now to a CNN exclusive, the harshest warning yet coming from Iran. The foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is vowing all-out war in response to any military strike launched by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. The U.S. is blaming Iran for Saturday's oil strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. That attack crippled half the country's oil production. Iran continues to deny any involvement, while Houthi rebels in Yemen, Iran's allies, claim responsibility.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spoke exclusively with the foreign minister


WALSH: What would be the consequence of an American or Saudi military strike on Iran now?

ZARIF: An all-out war.

WALSH: You make a very serious statement there, sir.

ZARIF: Well, I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I'm making a very serious statement that we don't want war. We don't want to engage in a military confrontation. We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful. We'll have a lot of casualties. But we won't blink to defend our territory.


WALSH: Put yourself in Saudi Arabia's shoes. If there was an attack on Iranian sovereign territory, with cruise missiles launched from Saudi Arabia, what would Iran's response be?

ZARIF: Well, they're making that up. Why do they want to make that up, that it was from Iranian territory? The Yemenis have announced responsibility for that. They have provided information about that. They have answered all the Saudi disinformation campaign about the fact that they launched this attack against Saudi Arabia in self- defense.

Now, they want to pin the blame on Iran in order to achieve something. And that is why I'm saying this is agitation for war. Because it's based on lies. It's based on deception. But you lie and deceive when it serves your interests. It doesn't even serve their interest.

WALSH: There is weakness, though, to Iran's denial about involvement and all of this, and that is really the Houthi Yemeni rebels who you say, and who say themselves, were behind this.

This is a ragtag group of rebels who've been under siege for years. They struggle to get medicines. They struggle to get food. That, indeed, is part of your case why the war must stop.

How is the world expected to believe that they were unable to magic up drones and cruise missiles of this technology that flew across hundreds of miles of Saudi Arabia, through tens of billions of dollars of air defenses, without any external assistance, and took out of 19 targets. That's a big ask for people to believe.

ZARIF: Well, you see, if you want to make your calculations based on this, Saudi Arabia should have been able to win this war against this group of besieged people exactly when they thought they would, four weeks after they started the war. But it's four and a half years. They have not been able to bring the Yemenis to their knees.

WALSH: But that is a different argument to resisting an invading army on the ground, is different to getting technology out of nowhere, it seems, and managing to evade state-of-the-art, tens of billions of dollars American-assisted air defenses. That's a different argument.

ZARIF: Well, I mean, then, you should go and find the problem with the state-of-the-art American air defense, not -- not with the Houthis. I mean, you believe that the United States is omnipotent and the United States military equipment are flawless. And that is why a bunch of people with no access to anything cannot defeat that.

But I can tell you, I mean, it's going to be news for you and it's going to continue to be news for you that people can do a lot of things when they are desperate, when they see their kids killed, when they see their kids maimed, when they see their wives bombarded. Their houses, their hospitals, their schools destroyed. That gives you a lot of creativity, a lot of tenacity to go and search for yourself.

This is exactly how we did it. How do you think we built all of this? How do you think we built the missile system that brought down a U.S. drone?

WALSH: You are very sure that the Houthis did this? But there is one major inconsistency.

ZARIF: I'm very sure that Iran didn't do it.

WALSH: Understood. But you have also said consistently you believe the Houthis did this.

ZARIF: No, no, no. I believe the Houthis made a statement that they did it.

WALSH: So you're not sure they did it?

ZARIF: I cannot have any confidence that they did it.

WALSH: Right.

ZARIF: Because we just had their statement. I know that we didn't do it. I know that the Houthis have made the statement that they did it.

WALSH: They've shown you no proof?

ZARIF: They -- I heard that they issued some -- released some documents last night, which I haven't been able to examine for myself. And I'm not an expert to examine them anyway. To show that they were able to increase the range of the drones and the missiles by -- by jet engines. But I'm not an expert, so I cannot say.

WALSH: But it puts you in a similar position to the Saudi Arabian government, to some degree, in that you're saying someone did this based on a hunch, and you would say the same thing about their characterizations.

ZARIF: I'm not accusing anybody.


ZARIF: You can have a lot of accusations flying around based on who may benefit from this. Iran doesn't have anything to benefit from this one. Iran wants security in the region. Iran -- Iran wants stability in the region. Iran does not want war. Iran wants an end to all wars.

WALSH: Would you call on the Houthis to release evidence that they did do this, to clear this misunderstanding?


ZARIF: I think they did release the evidence, but it's not up to us to ask the Houthis. I think the Houthis know what they did, and they know what they need to do. They released some evidence last night, and I think it is important for the Saudi government to understand, what they're trying to achieve.

Do they want to fight Iran until the last American soldier? Is that -- is that their aim? Because if that is the aim, they can be reassured this won't be the case.


ZARIF: Because Iran will defend itself.


WALSH: And there will be more from that interview with Iran's foreign minister in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, Southeast Texas has declared a flash flood emergency, after torrential rains swamped parts of Houston, Congress, turning city streets into rivers. More than 75 centimeters of rain fell in some parts, causing hundreds of rescues, leaving hundreds of cars abandoned.

One man was pulled from a submerged van. He had actually driven the van into this flood water, which was two and a half meters deep, and died later in hospital.

Across the region, many are in shelters. Authorities say they've responded to hundreds of calls for help, and more than 350 rescues have taken place. The flooding disrupted flights at the international airport.

Arrivals, though, are expected to resume in a few hours from now. Let's get the very latest from Derek Van Dam.

You know, this is going to make that climate strike difficult on Friday, if they keep having these, you know, extreme weather events.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Appropriate timing, I guess. Right, John?

You know, I was on the ground in Houston in 2017, during Hurricane Harvey, and the scenes that played out today across the Houston metro area are just too familiar. This is the Buffalo Bayou region. I was actually located right at this point.

And just look at some of the flooding that is ongoing across that area. It is slowly starting to recede from the Houston metro area. But wow, over the past 24 hours, it has been a difficult stretch of weather.

Now, why this Houston flood? We talk about it so frequently, but it really has to do with the urban growth that has happened across the city. Just since 1950, watch the satellite image expand. We've had a 650 percent growth in our urban development. We're talking about massive population spread. That means more concrete, more pavement, and less ability for that water that falls from the sky to absorb into the ground. So it has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, it floods the city.

Now, when you see rainfall totals like this, since the beginning of the week, any location is going to flood. But it is particularly made worse here across southeast Texas because of the urban sprawl that has happened.

You can see the remnants of what was Tropical Storm Imelda. That continues to wreak havoc across the region, a flood threat ongoing tonight, as the waters slowly start to recede. The heaviest of rainfall over the next two days will be focused just to the north and east of Galveston and Houston and the Beaumont region. We're looking out for the Texarkana region, where the heaviest of rainfall is forecast to be over the next two days.

Now, I want to take you to southwest Mexico. We're also monitoring a tropical storm. This is Lorena. And this has created havoc across the Western sections of the country, as well.

But look at what's in its path. Cabo San Lucas, popular tourist destination. I know a lot of people watching have visited that area. That could be struck with a Category 1 hurricane by this time tomorrow.

Let me take you to Mexico quickly, and you can see the flooding that has already taken place, because of Lorena. Rivers here just within some of the populated areas. And they're also dealing with heavy flooding, people trying to diverse the roadways there, which obviously is the worst thing you could possibly do during a flooding event -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. But Derek, thank you. We appreciate the update.

OK, Japan and Russia set to take the field in just a few hours with the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicking off in Tokyo. New Zealand's All Blacks are looking for their third executive title, they could be facing some serious competition, though, from England, Ireland and Wales. It's the first time Asia has hosted the World Cup.

And the excitement is building. Two million tickets have been sold, 20 nations taking part. Wales winger George North posted video on social media. Thousands of fans lining up to watch team practice on Monday.

Stay with us. A lot more on the World Cup coming up in about 30 minutes from now in WORLD SPORT.

And we'll take a short break. It is Climate Friday. When we come back, thousands are holding strikes and rallies all around the world, demanding action on climate change. And it's being led by the generation that will feel it the most.

Also, Gloria Steinem on a mission for peace. We'll talk to her life in just a moment.



VAUSE: Well, this Friday around the world, students and teenagers and young adults have been and will be walking out of schools or workplaces, an act of defiance, they say, to save the planet. They're demanding action on global -- on the global climate crisis.

Organizers want to tell politicians that business as usual is no longer an option, saying in a statement that "Climate change won't wait, so neither will we."

Here are a few of the locations where rallies are planned. At last count, close to 5,000 events in 140 countries. And more strikes and more rallies are planned for next Friday, as well.

Back in 2015, 30 high-profile women from around the world gathered on the 38th parallel, which divides North and South Korea. And they made history by crossing the two-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone, demanding an end to the Korean War.

At the time, they were criticized for being naive or inadvertently playing into the hands of either the North or the South. Keep in mind, the highly-militarized crossing is considered one of most dangerous places on earth.

Political activist Gloria Steinem was among those who made history that day, and she is with us now. She has returned to South Korea, part of the peace forum, Let's DMZ. She's with us from Seoul.

Ms. Steinem, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.


VAUSE: OK, 2015, seems like a lifetime ago. But it was only just three years after your protests we saw leaders of North and South Korea making their own crossing over the DMZ, and they declared very publicly an end to all war on the peninsula. It was an incredible moment, and it hasn't really received a lot of attention, at least not as much attention as it should have.

But it was a moment, do you think, in some ways, your crossing paved the way for that?

STEINEM: Well, I don't know whether we paved the way, but I know that we never could have imagined that the chiefs of state would be shaking hands just three years later.

Our crossing was quite controversial if you remember. But we are trying to say, with our own physical selves, that this was crossable, that families have been divided for decades and decades, that the war was punishing millions of people. And I hope -- I hope that we created a slightly different feeling that allowed chiefs of state to come together.

VAUSE: And also what seems to sort of be under the radar at the moment is that, since that meeting between, you know, Moon and Kim, talks have continued at an intergovernmental level. And this might be just the way these two sides end this war, which should have officially ended years ago.

STEINEM: Yes, I think that we have discovered that, to use an image, peace is like a tree. It doesn't grow from the top down. It grows from the bottom up.


So were trying to express, as are millions of others, and especially here, in Korea, both North and South, that the war has been artificial and unnecessary, as a militarized event for a very, very long time. And I'm hoping that our own U.S. Congress will declare an end to this war, and a bill has been introduced as of three months ago.

VAUSE: What's interesting is that South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that nuclear talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un could start again at the end of the month.

There hasn't been a lot to show for those talks since they restarted back in 2018. I'm just wondering how you see it. Is it worth those talks taking place, in and of themselves? Or are they spinning their wheels, and should they have gotten, have markers set down for achievements along the way?

STEINEM: You know, it's not for me to say what is going on in their heads. But I think I don't have a lot of faith in the role of Trump, who was not a democratically-elected leader and I think is not very well versed in this conflict. So we are hoping that, by our popular, bottom-up kinds of democratic

peace movements, that we can create an atmosphere in which, even if he doesn't act, Congress will act.

VAUSE: You've said many times that when you get into these peace negotiations, when women are involved and, you know, the evidence bears this out, a deal is more likely, and that deal is more likely to last.

I guess there are no women involved in those nuclear negotiations at the highest level between Washington and Pyongyang. But there are a lot of women in Congress, and a record number, in fact. So how crucial do you see their role, in you know, what the U.S. should be doing next when it comes to, you know, a peace deal on the Korean Peninsula?

STEINEM: Well, I think it is crucial, because we have seen, in terms of studies, whether it's in Ireland or Liberia or many other places, that woman have been the first to move for peace and that the involvement of women has made it more likely to achieve an agreement, and the agreement has been more durable.

It isn't that we are smarter or better than male human beings, but I think we don't have our masculinity to prove, if you know what I mean, so we are more likely to be able to talk to each other, to compromise, to have a kind of different, less hierarchical idea of leadership.

And of course, women bear the greater punishment for violence of all kinds.


STEINEM: Which is why now, for the first time that we know of on earth, there are actually fewer females than males, because of all the violence against women.

VAUSE: One point about women in these negotiations. They often listen to each other a lot better than men do. And that's important.

Gloria, it was great listening to you. Thank you so much for being with us.

STEINEM: Thank you so much. Thank you.

VAUSE: There is your break. When we come back, a rare confrontation between Russia and North Korea after North Korean fishermen were said to be poaching in Russia's economic zone. Analysts say this incident could have major political ramifications. This is a report now from Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're seeing is rare footage of a real-life warning shot, a tense confrontation at sea, not between the U.S. and an enemy but between two of America's biggest adversaries. The footage is from a Russian security vessel, approaching what the

Russians say is one of 13 North Korean fishing boats they stopped. Russia's security service, the FSB, says the North Koreans were caught poaching in Russia's fishing zone off its east coast.

Vladimir Putin's government is now holding the fishermen, accusing them of attacking and wounding four Russians.

DEAN CHENG, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think what makes this potentially unprecedented is there haven't been many reports of North Koreans wounding Russian coast guardsmen.

TODD: The Russians say they've taking more than 160 North Korean crew members into custody. Analysts say the confrontation has likely angered Vladimir Putin, who just a few months ago, hosted Kim Jong-un at a summit in Vladivostok, the two Cold War allies pledging their affection for one another.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I came to Russia with the warm feelings of our people.

TODD: There was even talk between the two leaders of Putin becoming an intermediary between Kim and President Trump. But now, experts say, the incident at sea could be a big setback for the young dictator in Pyongyang.

Losing Putin would force North Korea really to rely only on China. And that's a situation that, at the end of the day, makes North Korea really even more isolated.


TODD: The confrontation with the Russians also reveals the desperate plight of North Korean fishermen. U.N. sanctions over Kim's nuclear program prohibit the regime from selling seafood to other countries, so experts say Kim's government pressures fishermen to sell their catch on the black market.

MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: They're having to rendezvous with foreign vessels in international waters, and essentially, sell their catches on the high seas, so it can be relabeled as Japanese or Chinese or Singaporean fish.

TODD: That means going further and further out to sea, in rickety, poorly-equipped boats.

In recent years, some fishing boats, so-called ghost ships, suspected to be North Korean vessels, have washed up on Japanese shores with only human skeletons on board.

North Korean fisherman are more than willing to risk starvation and death, analysts say, because of the almost unattainable quotas they're given by Kim's regime.

(on camera): How much pressure would these fisherman have been under to produce more and more and more? ROBERT KING, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTH KOREAN HUMAN RIGHTS:

The pressure is incredible in terms of that. They're sent out. If they're -- if they don't catch what they're supposed to, if they're behind, if they lose control of the boat, they will be punished.

TODD: Analysts say as North Korean fishermen grow more desperate, we can expect more confrontations like this on the high seas. They say that might especially occur early next year during the competitive crab fishing season.

The North Koreans are not allowed to reap that harvest because of sanctions.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Now we'll take a break. The fatal stabbing of a student recorded on cell phones and posted online. So many people are now asking the question, why did no one step in and help?


VAUSE: Well, many in New York are now asking this question: how could they do it? A teenage boy was fatally stabbed as a crowd of fellow students just watched and recorded the event, the final moments of his life, on a cell phone.

The sister of Khaseen Morris tells CNN her brother was a good, pure soul who would always enter a room with a smile. She says it's just sick that onlookers who recorded the attack did nothing to stop it.

On Thursday, an 18-year-old man accused of intentionally stabbing Khaseen pleaded not guilty to the attack. We have more now from Reid Binion.


LT. STEPHEN FITZPATRICK, NASSAU COUNTY HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: They videoed his death instead of helping him.

REID Binion, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police say some of the final moments of 16-year-old Khaseen Morris's life were recorded on cell phones and streamed on social media.

FITZPATRICK: Kids stood here and did not help Khaseen. They would rather video this event.

BINION: Police say dozens of people watched an unarmed Morris get stabbed earlier this week outside of a strip mall in Nassau County, New York, and did nothing to help.

FITZPATRICK: There were several kids here. There's got to be about 50, 60, 70 kids here. We have a handful of kids that have come forward that have identified subjects involved in this. There is definitely more. [00:35:08]

BINION: Morris was taken to a hospital where he later died. Investigators say the fight Morris was involved in was over a girl.

FITZPATRICK: It's over a common girl and a perception of who she might be dating or who she might be hanging out with.

BINION: Homicide detectives are now urging and warning witnesses to come forward. Officials say police presence has now been beefed up around the school and the area where the fight took place. Nassau County put out a statement on the stabbing, saying, quote, "If you see someone in serious danger, please use your phone to get help, not likes and shares."

KEYANNA MORRIS, VICTIM'S SISTER: You guys took my brother away from me and my family.

BINION: I'm Reid Binion reporting.


VAUSE: To Los Angeles now, and Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic psychologist. So Judy, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: OK, so we just heard from the Nassau County detective who said, you know, he's very critical of the onlookers who not only did nothing to help but just recorded the violence on their cellphones. And that's been, you know, a common response to all of this, a common reaction.

A lot of questions are being asked, how could they do it? There's a lot of layers to all of this. So let's start very broadly with what's called the bystander effect and how that works and how it may have played a role here.

HO: Well, the bystander effect is an issue that had come up years and years ago with the Kitty Genovese murders. And so this happened, where there was an entire apartment complex full of people who were observing this person being harmed, and no one called the police.

And the idea is that the more observers there are, the more there is a diffusion of responsibility. So someone is always assuming that maybe someone else has got the situation under control. Maybe somebody else has already called authorities, and in fact, no one called and she was brutally murdered.

And in some ways, this does reflect that same idea, except for the fact that there's this active component of some of these individuals who are observers filming with their phones, which means that they had access to a way to contact authorities.

VAUSE: Yes, which is interesting. Let's update from 1964 to 2019. We have the cellphones with cameras. Social media provides a platform for those images. And there are lots of examples of this.

And one which is especially hard to watch happened back in 2014. The images are pretty tough. It was a New Jersey woman. She was beaten and kicked in front of, you know, her young boys. Onlookers just simply recorded this event. They didn't do anything to help.

You know, and now just, I guess, the active recording of a violent event and then posting it online somehow absolve them of some more moral responsibility to intervene?

HO: Well, I think that part of the issue is that, when you see somebody through a lens, when you see somebody through the camera on your phone, it's almost like yet another piece of distance, that you're not actually really there, that you're really just there to capture this footage as opposed to this happening in front of you.

And unfortunately, we see this happening more and more. And some people will say that it's some sort of viral justice, that they got this video so that later on, authorities can do something about it. But it just doesn't make sense when you can just reach for that phone, call 911, and actually do something to hopefully save this person's life. And I think that we're doing more and more of this and distancing ourselves more and more from what's happening in front of us.

VAUSE: And recording a crime as evidence for the police is one thing. Recording it to put it on social media is quite another.

HO: That's right. And I think that, unfortunately, now there's sort of this idea of who's going to have the most interesting story. Who's going to break this before even the news does? And we need to really take a look at that and talk to the younger people of our generation and talk to them about the fact that there is a certain responsibility as a citizen, instead of saying who's going to have the most interesting video and who's going to have the most interesting story. Because I fear that there was a component in this for at least some of the people involved.

VAUSE: And authorities have tried to sort of impose morality, I guess, on you know -- on citizens, make them accountable. They've made these good Samaritan laws. One thing which is fairly common in those laws is that they don't place a legal burden on bystanders to act. Why is that?

HO: Well, I think that there is the burden on bystanders to act, because they are really the only people who can do something about the situation, because they're there. Oftentimes, by the time the authorities arrive, they're trying to collect the information from the bystanders. And they were there to view this in real time.

VAUSE: But there's no legal burden in these laws for the bystanders to jump in and do anything. They seem to shy away from that.

HO: Yes, and I almost feel like maybe we need to start taking a look at that again, because when this Kitty Genovese case came about, there was a lot of discussion about that. And that's 911 was more established. You know, here's the phone number that you can actually call instead of just waiting and dialing zero and hoping that the operator is not busy and can pick up the call and take your emergency information.

And so I think now that everything is so accessible, perhaps we do need to put a little bit more pressure, especially on younger people who maybe need their moralities to be almost instilled in them more like a behavioral rule at first, before they can really internalize it for themselves as adults and make better decisions when their executive function is more developed.


VAUSE: Yes. And maybe they don't have the example out there in the first place, which is, you know, another issue altogether. But Judy, as always, thank you so much.

HO: Thank you so much, John.

Well, the skies over North America are noticeably quieter than they were two decade ago. Why a shocking number of song birds are disappearing. That's next.


VAUSE: A new study says nearly three billion birds have disappeared from North America. More proof that humans are making the world a far deadlier place for wildlife.

The study was published Thursday in the "General Science." It shows that bird populations in the U.S. and Canada have dropped 29 percent since 1970.

And it's not just species that have already been threatened. Ninety percent are common songbirds.

Earlier studies showed that habitat loss thanks to human activity is the biggest cause of population decline. Scientists are suggesting ways to help make bird habitats livable again, like installing screens on windows, planting native plants and avoiding pesticides.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT is up next.







VAUSE: First it was brownface. Then came the blackface, and now another. But is Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau -