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CNN NEWSROOM

Texas GOP Rushes To Pass Voting Law Before Midnight Deadline; America Bounces Back With Holiday Weekend Revelry; Two Killed, Dozens Wounded In Mass Shooting Outside Miami Club; Pandemic Trauma Takes Its Toll On Long-Term Mental Health; North Korean Orphans Volunteering Into Hard Labor?; The Transition From Military To Civilian Life. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[18:00:00]

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington on this Sunday. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. And it's great to have you along with us tonight.

389, that is how many bills with provisions that restrict voting have been introduced across the country just this year. That same tally by the liberal-leaning Brenan Center for Justice shows that 14 states have already enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote. We get ready to add Texas to that list. Republican state lawmakers there working overtime to pass a new law before tonight's midnight deadline.

Now, Texas already have some of the nations' harshest voting restrictions. This new law would ban drive-through voting, ban ballot drop boxes and Sunday morning voting. It will also give more power to partisan poll watchers, and it would lower the threshold for overturning election results.

Republican U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas defended the new bill this morning on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Now, we could debate whether how much fraud occurred in the last election and Democrats have claimed fraud have happened in the previous elections. But one thing is pretty clear to me, Jake, is that a lot of the American people seem to have lost faith in our government. They have lost faith in our elections that we need to restore that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Facts first, there is no debate about how much fraud. There was, experts at all levels of states and federal government, officials from both parties and numerous recounts in swing states all confirmed the election was secure and legitimate, that fraud is vanishingly rare. And the reason many people lost faith in the U.S. election system is

because dozens of politicians, Republican politicians, have spent the past year baselessly telling people they should not have faith in the system. And they have allowed former President Trump to talk about that without pushing back.

So, for a different Texas perspective on this issue, I'm joined by Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Congresswoman Lee, thanks for coming on. Do you see this new Texas bill on an assault of democracy, as President Biden says it is?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): It's a tragic and sad day if this bill is passed in the state of Texas. This is a state of Barbara Jordan, my predecessor. This is the state of Henry B. Gonzalez, and the first Hispanic to be elected to the United States congress, Barbara Jordan the first African-American to be elected from the deep south since reconstruction.

And this is the state of Lyndon B. Johnson, who ultimately signed the 1965 Voting Rights act. And I have been on the Judiciary Committee where I've seen the reauthorization of the voting act, Pam, with a Republican President, George W. Bush in a 98-0 vote in the United State Senate.

This is ludicrous. And let me tell you why. I think you've heard some facts, but it was the Department of Homeland Security that gave the crowning final statement about the 2020 election. And they have consistently said they found absolutely no fraud or fraud of certain amendments that it had no relevancy whatsoever.

So the big lie is crushing truth and the vote to the very earth, and my friends in the state legislature right now are fighting as hard as they can in the house to stop this ridiculous legislative, depriving people of their right vote. So, yes, it is an assault on democracy, just January 6th.

BROWN: And I want to just be clear, because I have studied this extensively.

[18:05:01]

It wasn't just DHS, because DHS was the one that came out and said that it was the most secure in history, and that was talking about just the systems. There could be other types of fraud thought, right? And DOJ, the Trump-appointed Department of Justice head, Bill Barr, said that he had not seen widespread fraud that could overturn the election results. And you had people from all across both aisles saying that it was the most secure in history.

But I'm curious, there is this argument made by Republicans that there is so much distrust in the system, and that of course is because of the big election lie, that study drumbeat of it by former President Trump, even before the election, other Republicans who have enabled that, and so they say, well, this is important to restore confidence in the system. What do you say to that? JACKSON LEE: Well, it's a self-inflicted wound. There was no diminishing of trust. There was a great deal of excitement in 2020. When the vote was over, the vote was a peaceful vote in November 2020, and Americans were willing to accept that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had been elected.

President Trump knows that he created this lie and he continued the narrative and he continued to inflict wounds, but they became bricks, little sticks in the body of the democratic process.

And so he has gone across America from Arizona to New Hampshire to Georgia and beyond and now to Texas with this legislation to continue to inflict this wound on the American body politic. He knows his own committee that was established to find fraud had to disintegrate, if you will, because there was nothing there. We say a nothing burger.

I believe that Americans are good people. They love their Constitution. They believe in equality. They believe in the bill of rights. And if America had been left to her own devices we would have gone on with Republicans and Democrats accepting this presidency, looking to 2024, if we didn't like the results of 2020, and working for our candidate at that time.

So I believe all we need to do as leaders, including Republicans, is to voice our support for the constitution, to stop this continuing, inflicting of the wound to ignore Donald Trump, who is no longer the president of the United States, and restore the faith in the Constitution, which has never been diminished, except, for example, on January 6th when it was attempted to be diminished and it was a terrorizing moment.

But we stood ourselves out, I was actually in the chair on that night in the speaker's chair on that night around 4:00 in the morning when we gaveled down on January 7th that we had counted those votes. So it's a matter of leadership speaking to the American people. It's untrue what is being said. There is trust. We have elections, don't we, and people trust those results.

BROWN: All right, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: And we're following breaking news this evening. The U.S. military says it failed to intercept a ballistic missile during a test on Saturday. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us on the phone with more. Barbara, what can you tell us?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Well, good evening, Pamela. It was a test. These kinds of tests generally take place way out in the pacific. And the whole idea was that there is a navy ship out there, and it is equipped with something called the standard missile, an advanced version, not a fancy name but very advanced, very high-tech.

They were testing to see if they could fire a salvo of those missiles against what would have been a simulated ballistic missile target, and not a real ballistic missile but in a test, of course, you launch something that is a target and you try and shoot it down and that tells you if your missile defenses work. This time it didn't work and they don't know why yet. So an investigation under way into this failed test.

It's happened before. There not every test is successful and they have to figure out why it happened. But it's critically important that they do because this advanced version of the defensive system the U.S. wants to put out there, the whole idea is they can fire multiple missiles at an incoming target, perhaps North Korean or Chinese, perhaps other adversaries, and they can be sure that they can shoot it down. This time it didn't work, investigation is under way. It could take months but they feel they will be able to figure out what happened and proceed with the program. Pamela?

BROWN: And we will get in a more perspective from another military expert later in the show. Barbara Starr, thank you for bringing us the latest there.

And still ahead on this Sunday night, West Wing Star Bradley Whitford joins me live to talk about how he's battling Trump's big election lie. That's next in the hour.

[18:10:00]

And then our own Will Ripley has brand new reporting tonight on how North Korean orphans are being force into hard labor.

But, first, the crazed barbeques and big sporting events, they are back as America rebounds from the pandemic.

And Paul Vercammen has the best assignment of the day. We're going to ask him exactly what he's doing when we come back.

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BROWN: Last Memorial Day weekend most of us were hunkering down, masking and isolating, and the pandemic was a couple of months old then, and the U.S. had fewer than 1,000 deaths. We were almost six months away from those first vaccines. On your left is Jones Beach, New York, and then on your right, Jones Beach today.

After what we have all been through over the past year, this Memorial Day weekend offers hope, optimism and some relief for a lot of people. America is clearly ready to get those motors running, advice taken literally in D.C. where today's rolling remember motorcycle rally honored our nation's fallen soldiers, because that is what this long weekend is all about.

[18:15:09]

CNN's Paul Vercammen and Coy Wire are out in the thick of things. So, Paul, let's start with you in Los Angeles. What's going on right now? You're on an inflatable swan?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not inflatable. It's -- you can hear it. It's is the swan motor at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles.

BROWN: Okay, my bad.

VERCAMMEN: No. No, it's okay, if it's inflatable, I think we'll all be in trouble. You'd lose a CNN crew.

Anyway, we are here because this park lake and this park are open again after $600,000 of renovations. And this is very much a center of Los Angeles. It really speaks a lot of how much improvement we have made in this positivity rates here. Very, very low numbers here, as you see, people are ringing the park now. They're coming out. There's just a little over 250 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the county of 10 million people.

Now, there are holdouts when it comes to vaccinations, the county going through a very aggressive procedure process right now of getting together PSAs, especially some that target the African-American and Latino communities.

For example, Father Boyle, he's an icon here, you might have heard of Home Boy Industries and all of the outreach that he's done in poor neighborhood. Well, he's one of those, who has jumped on and contributed to a public service announcements?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY JOSEPH BOYLE, U.S ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST: I got my COVID vaccination shot because I want to return to the fullness of our community here at Home Boy Industries, and you should get vaccinated, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And so there's one little dark cloud over Los Angeles right now, California as a whole, we got that high gas tax, over 50 cents a gallon, and now we hear that gas prices are going up. They are right around $4, over $4.20 a gallon. And that is a lot when it comes to people having to fill up. But, otherwise, a sunshine Memorial -- Sunday Memorial weekend Sunday here, Pam, on a swan boat, my first ever shot on a swan boat. I'll send it back to you.

BROWN: I'm sure it was on your bucket list, Paul. Thanks so much for bringing us the latest there.

Coy, so Paul was on a swan boat. That is a tough act to follow.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, I wish I could have it Indy car to jump in for you. Good to see you, Pam. Listen, 135,000 strong here at here in Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the tracks sold every ticket available, making this the biggest single day sporting event in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. It was a loud crowd, it was very crowded in high traffic areas, but it was still only about 40 percent capacity, so still plenty of open space if you wanted it.

Fans were so excited to be back at an event of this magnitude, you could feel it. It was emotional at times as well, especially before the race when they honored 105 health care workers and first responders.

But what an incredibly and emotional moment for Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who wins the fastest Indy 500 ever at 46 years old. This was his fourth Indy 500 win trying and tying in with 3 other drivers for most ever. Known as Spider Man, Castroneves climbed the fence afterwards once again, and he celebrated so long, it seemed like he never wanted the moment to end. 12 years since his last Indy 500 win, a 20-year span, Pam, between his first and latest wins here.

And he mentioned after the race, you know, Tom Brady won another super bowl 43, Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship at 50, and here he is now at 46, wining the greatest spectacle in racing. It's the year of I'm still here in sports. I'm not going anywhere.

And with 135,000 fans returning, Pam, this felt like a special celebration, a special milestone today in the quest and to return to normalcy.

BROWN: Yes. It's giving a lot of middle-aged people hope, maybe they still got it. All right, Coy Wire, thank you so much for bringing us the latest from there.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday, another weekend with another mass shooting in America, this time outside a club in Miami. When we come back, I'll speak to the founder of Moms Demand Action, Shannon Watts about D.C.'s failure to act.

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BROWN: Police are still looking for the assailants who terrorized a Miami area club last night, shooting and killing two people and injured at least 20 more. Police say right before midnight, as the crowd was gathering for a concert, three people jump out of a white Nissan Pathfinder with assault rifles and handguns and then started firing into the crowd.

This comes just one day after another shooting in Miami left one person dead and six more wounded. Just this weekend nearly 30 people were shot and three killed in the greater Miami-Dade area. And, of course, the latest rash of mass shootings isn't limited to Miami. On Wednesday, a gunman open fire at his work place in San Jose, California, killing nine people before killing himself.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy spoke to CNN's Wolf Blitzer the day after that shooting frustrated with the lack of action at the federal level.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I guess what is so disturbing to me is that we have proposals in front of Congress right now that could have prevented this crime, if we had passed them possibly could have meant that these nine individuals would still be alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Murphy and Republican John Cornyn have been discreetly negotiating away to secure a long shot bipartisan deal on a gun background making a way to secure a backgrounds check bill that would tweak an existing law so it would clarify who is required to register as a federal firearms licensee and conduct FBI checks on a buyer before selling a gun.

[18:25:08]

Shannon Watts is joining me now to talk more about this. She founded, Moms Demand Action after Sandy Hook to pressure lawmakers to change America's gun laws. Great to see you Shannon.

We have seen years of failed attempts to pass bills related to gun reform and background checks. Do you think that those two senators have found a path to an agreement?

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: We are feeling very hopeful about the conversations that are happening. You know I want to be clear that while we're waiting for this cathartic moment in Congress for 25 years now, there has been significant change in state legislatures all across the country. 21 of them have now closed the background check loophole. 19 states have closed something called the Charleston loophole. 19 states have past red flag laws. 29 states have disarmed domestic abusers.

So, some state legislatures have done their job, but we do want congress to act. Because right now we are all only as close as the -- we are all only as safe as the closest state with the weakest gun laws. So, federal level legislation is very important.

BROWN: I'm curious then on that note. What do you think about the new Texas law that basically takes away the requirement of training if anybody over 21 or older wants to have a handgun and be licensed for handgun? What do you think about that?

WATTS: It's egregious, it's dangerous, it's reckless, and, in fact, it goes against the wishes of not just constituents but important part of those constituencies like police officers, and educators and medical professionals who've all said, please don't pass this law.

And so it is really disheartening to see some state legislatures react to the fact that we now have a gun sense (ph) president, Senate, and House, and the way their doing that is by passing this reckless and dangerous laws.

Now, I want to be clear, we have now stopped bad bills in many, many states in session, but, unfortunately, there are some legislators that are doing these dangerous things that it makes it more important that Congress acts.

BROWN: You know, I am just wondering what your message would be then to responsible gun owners who hear what you have to say and argue this type of gun reform will stop people hell bent on committing the mass shooting and it will make it harder for a law abiding citizens to own a gun. What do you say to them?

WATTS: Well, I really don't think a responsible gun owner would say that. And I want to be clear that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible. Many of our Moms Demand Action volunteers are gun owners, or they're partners with gun owners. There're now 400 million guns in America.

The problem is gun extremists, and that's what a extremist would say, they would say, we shouldn't have laws. And so we are arguing that we need to restore the responsibilities that should go along with gun rights, and that includes a background check on every gun sale. And we know from polling about 89 percent of all Americans that are gun owners, 87 percent of Republicans, they support things like a background check in every gun sale.

So this isn't polarizing in America, just in the U.S. Senate. That's the only place where this is an issue right now in this country.

BROWN: It's just remarkable. Look, there have been several shootings over the last 48 hours in America. In most countries that would be viewed as a crisis. But in America, it appears that people are growing increasingly numb to it.

Both sides come out and repeat the same sort of talking points that they do after every shooting. And, look, you yourself, and you did talk about the state level improvements that have been going on, and you have been at this for so long. How much does it concern you that there has not been federal action yet?

WATTS: So I have been doing this now for nearly nine years. I am a full-time volunteer. I would not wake up and do this work every day if I didn't think we were winning. And hundreds of thousands of our volunteers agree with me.

You know, this is how social change happens in America. It doesn't happen overnight. I wish it did. Sometimes it's incremental change. But it's important to remember that in addition to all the laws I mentioned that we have passed, you know, we have made significant strides in this country on this issue, in fact, creating the first ever grassroots army to go up against the NRA, which is weaker than it's ever been and our movement is stronger than it has ever been.

So, in many ways, you know working on this for almost a decade is sort of a drop in the bucket when you look at how long social change often takes. I think we are making miraculous steps forward in that amount of time.

I want that cathartic moment in Congress that everybody does, and I believe we are on the precipice of major change. But what we have been doing on the ground, changing the culture through legislation, through electoral politics, that will point the right president and the right Congress in the right direction.

BROWN: All right. Shannon Watts, thank you so much for coming on the show.

WATTS: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, as we watch the shootings stack up day after day, weekend after weekend, this picture is truly a miracle. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head ten years ago. Somehow she survived, six others did not.

[18:30:00]

Well, yesterday she and her husband Senator Mark Kelly became grandparents and she got to hold this beautiful baby girl, her granddaughter Sage.

Our congratulations to the entire family.

The pandemic has changed every aspect of how we live, safe to say, and put tremendous pressure on mental health. Tennis star Naomi Osaka is among a string of celebrities now speaking candidly about their own struggles with mental health. Clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere joins me next with advice on how making the transition back to normal life should go.

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BROWN: May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this month we have seen many high-profile figures open up about their own mental health struggles. Naomi Osaka, the number-two ranked female tennis player in the world, says she's skipping her post match press conferences at the French Open to protect her mental health.

[18:35:01]

Well, in turn the French Open fined her $15,000 today and she could be expelled from the tournament if she continues with that. Well, she wrote on Instagram a few days ago, quote, "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.

We often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds, and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."

Actor Ryan Reynolds also posted on Instagram this week saying he has long struggled with anxiety, quote, "One of the reasons I over schedule myself is my lifelong pal, anxiety. I know I'm not alone and more importantly to all those like me who over-schedule, overthink, over-worry, overwork and over everything, please know, you're not alone."

So as life starts to get back to normal it won't be the same and there is no special vaccine shot to help those with new or worsening mental health issues.

Dr. Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at (INAUDIBLE) College Osteopathic Medicine joins me now.

Thank you for coming on the show, Dr. Gardere. Author Ed Yong wrote in this recent "Atlantic" article that really stuck out to me. He said, "If you've been swimming furiously for a year you don't expect to finally reach dry land and feel like you're drowning. Yet so many people are feeling that way right now. Why is that?

DR. JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, because this was a major paradigm shift in the way that we lived when we were dealing primarily with COVID-19, having to isolate, go on lockdown, social distancing, wearing masks, so those situations in themselves were very difficult for us to deal with, and then as soon as we begin adapting to that, then we have to deal with getting the vaccine.

And as you discussed earlier some people have some issues with that in certain communities, and then now we're being told that either we go hybrid or have to go full-time back to work and school, and so all of these abrupt shifts in the way that we're living, and they're very abrupt, Pamela, certainly does play havoc in our minds and it does increase our anxiety.

BROWN: But help us understand why getting back to kind of the way life was before the pandemic, why many of us are not coming back there the same as it was before?

How much does it have to do with all of this pent-up anxiety from this last year where basically we've been in triage, and we've had to just, you know, motor through this pandemic and do what we have to do to get through it, and to protect ourselves, protect our families, continue to try to, you know, work and that kind of thing, and now you have suddenly the skies are opening up, but you have to kind of confront that?

GARDERE: That's right. Well, the primary motivator was fear, wasn't it? It was anxiety, it was all of the things that caused us to be so fearful of -- and it was appropriate of course to be afraid of contracting COVID-19, 560,000 plus dead in the United States alone. The pandemic continues to rage in other countries as we know because of lack of vaccine, so we have gotten ourselves in a very safe bubble.

We actually were able to adapt, as we do as human beings, and say OK, now we have a safer way of living. But now the rug feels like it's kind of being pulled from under our feet, doesn't it, for people who may be quite fearful of returning back to the workplace, back to school or those people who were so comfortable in that bubble?

Now, we know that younger people, Pamela, really want to get out there. You have those shots out in L.A., people attending events, but still at 40 percent capacity, so again people are having anxieties. As a matter of fact, the American Psychological Association says that half the people they polled in a stress in America polling that they did were actually having real anxiety around interaction post- pandemic. So this is real.

(CROSSTALK)

GARDERE: Yes.

BROWN: Would you say most Americans have experienced trauma one way or another during the pandemic over this past year?

GARDERE: An excellent point. Whether it's someone that they know that had COVID or someone that they know that died or friends who talked about it, or just seeing it in the media, all of those things, I think, caused everyone some sort of trauma. And people were being retraumatized, especially people of color who were disproportionately getting COVID and now we see politically what's going on with voter suppression laws and so on.

[18:40:04]

So they feel under constant psychological attack, so COVID has really changed our lives.

BROWN: You know, Ryan Reynolds' post really stuck out to me because I think it hit on with so many people do, right? They fill up their schedule. They make sure they're really busy so that they don't have to sort of view inner work and confront that anxiety and those bad feelings.

That can just be all consuming. I know I've been guilty of that, and frankly after I lost my mom during the pandemic, it opened up this can of -- you know, can of anxiety for me, and it was horrible. And all I wanted to do was distract myself. But you really have to learn to get through it. You have to face it.

What is your advice to all of these people out there right now who are still feeling so anxious, who might want to just fill up their schedules so they don't want to have to confront it? What is the best way for them to get back to that feeling of peace inside? That sense of normalcy?

GARDERE: First and foremost, my condolences to your mom, of course, but, you know, it is not sustainable to do what Ryan Reynolds is doing, who's one of my favorite stars, which is filling up your time constantly. It just will not last. What you really must do is address that anxiety.

You could do it through meditation, through breathing exercises, their peer support counseling. That's available online. There are so many other very healthy ways to deal with that anxiety. Exercising, so on. But each day that you confront that anxiety, as you said, Pamela, the better off that you will be and you have to do it in a healthy way that takes you to a stronger day each and every way.

BROWN: Yes, I've learned that you can't compartmentalize that because it will always come back to haunt you and you just have to confront your fear, confront your anxiety. That's the way through it to the other side.

Jeff Gardere, thank you so, so much. Appreciate you coming on to talk about an issue that affects so many of us as we try to figure out our lives as this pandemic is winding down. Appreciate it.

Well, North Korea says orphans are being, quote, "volunteered" into hard labor. Human rights officials say the truth is even worse. Our Will Ripley has new reporting for us when we come back.

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[18:46:38]

BROWN: We continue to follow breaking news tonight. The U.S. Military says it failed to intercept a ballistic missile during a test on Saturday. Well, as the cause is under review, the U.S. has been working for years to intercept missiles to counter potential threats from countries like North Korea.

And speaking of North Korea, the reclusive ruling regime is tonight denying accusations it sent orphaned children into forced labor camps. Instead state media claims the youthful workforce, quote, "volunteered" to work in the country's coal mines and on its farms.

CNN's Will Ripley has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Answering the call of duty from their supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, North Korea's orphaned children in pressed uniforms, flowery wreaths, racing to work at coal mines and farms.

COLIN ZWIRKO, SENIOR ANALYTIC CORRESPONDENT, NK NEWS: You can't determine their exact age, but they look quite young and they look like middle school students is accurate.

RIPLEY (on-camera): Have we ever seen students that young doing this kind of work in North Korea?

ZWIRKO: This one is a little bit different because of just how young they appear on camera. We can see it with our own eyes how young these children are.

RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korean propaganda praises these so-called child volunteers.

(On-camera): How widespread is this and how young are the children that are volunteering to work?

LINA YOON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I imagine it happens to almost all children that do not come from privileged backgrounds or have money to pay instead of working. Child labor is a very serious problem, but the sad reality for North Korea is that it's quite common.

RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korea denies allegations of forced child labor. Just last week its Foreign Ministry accused developed countries of exploiting children. State media says these orphans are eager to show their loyalty, to fulfill their oath to repay the ruling Workers Party and the leader they call father.

ZWIRKO: And that's how they will repay the love of the party is to go to the coal mines and repay that debt. YOON: The mines have horrible conditions and, you know, there's a

constant accident.

RIPLEY: On my trips to North Korea, orphans told me heartbreaking stories. Some lost their parents to industrial accidents, others to starvation during the North Korean famine of the late 1990s.

"My parents died a long time ago. I was so young," Jang Jong Hwa told me in 2015. At the time, she was barely out of school, working full time, caring for seven other orphans. Jang said she hoped they would grow up strong to serve the nation.

"Our country is one big family," she said. In North Korea, country always comes first. Even if it means a childhood of hard labor.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: A volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed at least 31 people and left hundreds homeless. But the danger is far from over there. In the last 24 hours the country has been hit with 92 earthquakes and tremors. CNN has captured new images of the crater. The question now is whether it will erupt again.

[18:50:03]

Scientists say that light gray ash means the crater floor is slowly collapsing. Thankfully a gentle collapse like the one we're watching doesn't post a danger but a darker black ash would indicate an explosion is coming.

As more states rewrite -- rewrite, rather, election laws ahead of the 2022 midterms, many people are pushing Democrats in Congress to make their own changes. Well, that's what Bradley Whitford is doing. The star of shows like the "West Wing" and the "Handmaid's Tale" joins me live to talk about it.

Plus, it is certainly not easy being in the military and it's not easy when it's time to reenter civilian life. The host of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" W. Kamau Bell joins me next with a preview of tonight's all- new episode.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:55:31]

BROWN: Well, San Diego is a military city. It's home to several bases and military camps. Well, this week on "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," host W. Kamau Bell explores the city and the issues, disparities and injustices that active-duty troops and veterans face throughout their military careers and in civilian life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And once you go to a place like that, experience those things, you can't never come back. And that's what they don't -- they don't let you know in the rhetoric, in the video games, in the movies.

I have horrible nightmares. Like, every night. I wake up in the morning and I can be really (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up and the ocean is something that is helping to heal meal me some. Man, it's like I can breathe, right?

I've come to the conclusion you can never take back the bad you've done. You know, I want to say this because it's important and America needs to know what we did there was wrong. We knew there was no weapons of mass destruction. We knew, we all knew.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: W. Kamau Bell joins me.

Good evening to you. So this episode airs Memorial Day weekend. Why did you want to take a closer look at the U.S. Military experience and what did you learn?

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: Well, as someone who has not been in the military and never even thought about entering the military, I've always been curious about the type of people who do that and, you know, you stereotype people and you say that it's somebody who's rah, rah America. And I got to talk to a lot of people where those aren't always the reason why people go into the military.

And even though they had difficulty in there and they come out damaged as River was talking about a lot of times, they still are proud of their service generally. They still feel like they were trying to do the best they could.

BROWN: Yes, it's interesting. I'm so glad you're shining a spotlight on this because, you know, it can take years for a military member who went through a civilian life to overcome some of the damage that was done during their service, and we heard some of that from that interview that you did with that young man. What more did you learn about the impact it can have on people?

BELL: I mean, I think what people -- when we say thank you for your service, I think we've learned to say that, those who served in the military. I think what a lot of these veterans are saying, I appreciate you saying that but I really am going to need more from the civilians in this country. And I think what they want is they just want us to feel like the military is ours and we should have oversight.

You think about what Kristen Gillibrand is trying to do this week. They want civilians to really know what's going on in the military so that when they come out damaged like that we have an understanding of why that happens and we don't think that's just individual people having certain experiences.

BROWN: It's so true, and I've had personal experience watching this. I was in the military, I have a family member who was, but the lip service thing is so true. You know, people stand up, they put their hand on their heart, they pay tribute to military members, but when it comes down to it, once they reach civilian life and they're trying to, you know, get a stronghold of how do I make this transition into this whole new world, they don't have a lot of help and a lot of support. I've seen it firsthand.

In your view from all the work that you've done, what more needs to be done to help these military members?

BELL: I mean, I think we need stronger civilian oversight of the military. We need to not be so scared or intimidated by the military. I think we should feel like we are allowed to go in there and look around and say, this can be done better. I think there's a lot of military leaders who want that, but there's also some people at the top of this country who don't want that.

And I think we have to really -- ultimate patriotism is that we would look directly at the military, we'd criticize them when they're wrong, we would support them when they do the right thing, and we will fix -- and we will be involved in fixing the problems. That's the ultimate patriotism.

BROWN: All right, W. Kamau Bell, look forward to seeing this. Thank you so much.

And be sure to watch the all-new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" tonight at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN. Your next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the American people seem to have lost faith in our government. They've lost faith in our elections that we need to restore.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Republicans clearly in Texas and throughout the country want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't turn the corner. I mean, we were terrified before, for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm going back to a little bit of normalcy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life has returned, right? I mean, we're back.