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Saudi-led Forces Attack Key Rebel-Held Port in Yemen; Trump Says North Korea No Longer a Nuclear Threat; World Cup Kicks Off with Russia versus Saudi Arabia; Michael Cohen Expected To Lose Current Defense Lawyers and Likely To Cooperate With Prosecutors; Comcast Bids $65 Billion For 21s Century Fox; Germany Fines Volkswagen $1.2 Billion For Diesel Scandal; Take Your Pick: Trudeau Or Trump. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's been called the turning point for the war in Yemen. It could also be the tipping point in the country's humanitarian crisis.

Kim Jong-un takes a victory lap in Pyongyang while president Donald Trump declares North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.

Can they both be right?

And the World Cup just hours away. A preview from Russia still to come.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: An all-out assault is under way in Yemen. Saudi-led forces are trying to recapture the port city of Huda currently under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Ground and naval forces are joining in the assault.

U.S. officials confirm a military ship from the UAE has come under heavy rebel fire. Aid agencies fear a humanitarian disaster. The city is considered a lifeline to the rest of Yemen. About 70 percent of food, fuel and medicine for the country comes through the port.

Our Sam Kiley reports.


SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the beginning of this week, the international community was imploring the Saudi-led coalition not to conduct an assault on Hudaydah.

In the last 24 hours, that's exactly what has gone on with the UAE, also participating alongside Yemeni troops, Sudanese troops, a number of militias and, of course, the Yemeni officially recognized government forces, all trying to press into the southern areas of Hudaydah.

Their stated aim is to capture the port, which they say the Houthis, predominantly Shia with backing from Iran, get their supplies from Iran through that port. They have been cutting off a lot of the supplies going in there, limiting only humanitarian supplies going into that area.

And that is why the international humanitarian community has been pressing so strongly against the coalition plans to conduct operations against Hudaydah, because this is the lifeline to the interior and the coastline of the whole of Yemen, really, much of the north especially.

Some 9 million people dependent on what comes in through that port. Many of them, perhaps a majority of them, already dependent on humanitarian aid. Now the international coalition has insisted it would not seek to close that port and is also saying it's got already stores of humanitarian goods to fly in, to ship in, if and when, in their view, the port falls.

But this began this campaign with heavy bombardment of the south of the city, up to 30 airstrikes heard in the space of about half an hour, some of our eyewitnesses are saying. There's not yet any clear sign as to what's happening around the port. A number of people already fleeing north and west.

And the Houthis have vowed to stay and fight. That ultimately means that the danger is that the tactics we saw employed by another international coalition, that one led by the United States to capture Mosul and then Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State, could be applied in Hudaydah.

And, of course, as we saw in Mosul and Raqqa, that resulted in very heavy devastation, certainly of buildings and some estimates of close to 10,000 civilian casualties. There are a great deal more people in and around Hudaydah who could be in danger from this.

And, as the humanitarians say, the real issue for them is who controls that port and whether or not, down the line, it will be free to ship humanitarian goods. But for now, this is the beginning of a campaign that's expected to last quite a long time.


CHURCH: Sam Kiley with that report.

The U.N. says the war in Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The continuing conflict has killed more than 8,600 people, mostly civilians, as of late last year, according to the WHO; 17 million are suffering from food insecurity and don't know where their next meal will come from.

Eight million are on the brink of famine; that's according to the U.N. More than half of the country's medical facilities have closed, contributing to what the World Health Organization says is the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded.

More than 1 million people suspected to have the disease. Over 2,000 cholera-related deaths have been reported. Residents in the capital city of Sanaa say the situation is dire. They point to the lack of food, the lack of money. It seems the only thing not in short supply is worry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Taking Hudaydah could be called an act of madness in every meaning of the word because Hudaydah is a city for civilians and it holds the main artery for all Yemenis in the north and in the south; 70 percent of all humanitarian assistance comes through Hudaydah's port and, therefore, this aid will stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The battle in Hudaydah will result in a humanitarian disaster in terms of food supplies. Generally speaking, it will be a huge disaster because it is considered the main outlet for Yemen during this period, for the residents of Sanaa and the residents of Houthi-controlled provinces.


CHURCH: And Nadine Drummond is the spokesperson for Save the Children in Yemen and she joins us now from Sanaa.

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Of course, the circumstances, as we've seen, and the numbers are disturbing: an estimated 300, 000 children trapped in Hudaydah City in the midst of this all-out assault.

What are these children and their families confronting right now?

DRUMMOND: Absolute fear. Absolute fear. I spoke to one of my colleagues this morning and he said that he's terrified, despite the fact that he has a level of privilege because he works for an NGO country. He's absolutely terrified.

Today is the day before Eid in Ramadan, which is akin to what many of us celebrate in the West which is like the New Year. And the type of joy that's associated with this time of year is nonexistent in Hudaydah.

Of course, shops are open; people are still going to buy their wares but they're afraid of the tanks that are on the street. They're afraid of the brigades and the soldiers or the fighters that are on the streets. And people are essentially trapped in their houses.

And when we talk about children, this isn't the type of life that any child should live. All children should have access to a life free from violence and be able to live with dignity and respect. And that's not what's happening with this assault on Hudaydah. The ground brigades are about 10-15 kilometers outside of the city limits.

And once or if they breach the city limits, the life of Hudaydahns (ph) as they know it will completely change.

CHURCH: It is a shocking situation and humanitarian organizations have warned of a catastrophic crisis in Yemen. The United Nations says the war there is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. But no one seems to be listening.

Why is that?

DRUMMOND: I don't know the best way or even how to answer that question. I find it actually quite distressing. Yemen has the largest food security crisis in the world. More than 17 million people have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

And in Hudaydah, most people live on one meal a day. And this assault ensures that many of those people will lose that meal. Almost 4,000 children have been maimed or killed since the escalation of this crisis in 2015.

I don't know why there's silence. Part of it is, I think, that there's a misconception that, as an aid worker, as a humanitarian worker, we're here and we're going to solve this crisis and we're going to fix it. So it'll all come out in the wash so there's nothing for anybody to be really concerned about, which is absolutely outrageous.

We're here to do a job. We're here to provide aid and support for the most vulnerable people in Yemen. And we can't do that alone. So the people or the governments who have the ability to influence the access on the ground are the Americans, are the British and maybe some degree the French.

Anybody that sits on the U.N. Security Council has an obligation to influence the access to stop the conflict because, without that, the suffering will continue. And even I'm shocked at how bad it can get.

When you think you've seen enough, when you've had the cholera outbreak, the worst epidemic in human history, and when you've had the diphtheria outbreak, it just keeps getting worse. And I wonder how low we have to go as humankind in order to make a difference because what's happening now is a stain on the human condition.

CHURCH: It has become the forgotten war, hasn't it?

So what is the solution here?

What needs to happen next?

What does the international community need to be doing right now, especially when it comes to access to food, to water, to medicine for these children and their families?

DRUMMOND: There are two things really. With the port of Hudaydah, I think it's very important for us to talk about aid because that's the service that we provide. But part of the crisis is that 90 percent of the Yemeni people are reliant on foreign exports. And 70 percent of those exports come through the port of Hudaydah.

So there are only two-thirds of the Yemeni population that are reliant on humanitarian aid. The other third are reliant on exports from Hudaydah. So if any closure of the port or any slowdown in imports will directly affect the other people that don't actively need us in the same way the rest of the population does. So in terms of right now, the actions --


DRUMMOND: -- that the governments are able to influence, the parties to the conflict, have to implore them to stop the violence, to stop the assault on Hudaydah and find a negotiated and sustainable peace.

That's the first thing they can do. And then from that, support the U.N. envoy, Mr. Griffiths (ph), in finding a peace framework that he can present to the U.N. Security Council. It's a step-by-step process but somebody has to take a stand. It's clear that the violence will continue without outside support and outside help.

CHURCH: Let's just hope the international community is listening to you right now. Thank you so much for joining us. Nadine Drummond, joining us from Yemen, many thanks.

Well, an extraordinary claim from U.S. President Donald Trump telling the world there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. He's hailing his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying Americans and the rest of the world can quote, "sleep well tonight."

In an interview with FOX News aboard Air Force One after the summit, President Trump praised Kim, calling him a smart guy and a great negotiator. Mr. Trump also appeared to dismiss Kim's long history of human rights violations against his own people.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You know you call people sometimes killers. He is a killer. I mean he's clearly executing people.

TRUMP: Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have.

If you can do that at 27 years old you, I mean, that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So he is a very smart guy. He is a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.

BAIER: But he's still done some really bad things.

TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.


CHURCH: Well, from the president's tweets to the North Korean headlines, the hyperbole cannot be overstated.

But what are the facts?

Who really won what in this remarkable summit?

And how is it playing out in North Korea?

Our Brian Todd takes a look.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Projected on large screens in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea's iconic anchorwoman, Ri Chun-hee, nicknamed the Pink Lady, proclaims Kim Jong-un's summit with Donald Trump a resounding success.

RI (through translator): Kim Jong-un said that, today, both sides came together to sign the historic joint statement, heralding a new start.

TODD (voice-over): Splashed on the pages of North Korea's state-run newspaper, photos of what it calls "a meeting of the century." From Kim Jong-un's official wire service, more glowing rhetoric, saying President Trump appreciated that an atmosphere of peace had been created, quote, "thanks to the proactive peace-loving measures taken by the respected supreme leader from the outset of this year."

Among the highlights, a huge win for Kim that President Trump has agreed to end the military exercises with South Korea that the North has seen as a provocation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's predictable that they did spin it this way. This was a tremendous political victory for Kim Jong-un.

TODD (voice-over): Aside from individual concessions, Kim's most important win from the summit meeting, experts say, could be his larger domestic victory, with North Korea's people and inside the halls of influence in Pyongyang, against anyone who might challenge his power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was able to show his people that he's respected as a world leader, that the North Korean flag stands alongside the American flag as an equal country. He can use this propaganda for years really.

TODD (voice-over): North Korea's news agency even spun the summit to say President Trump expressed his intent to lift sanctions against Kim's regime. The president an his team actually say sanctions will remain in place for now. But analysts say Kim could still claim partial victory there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly he's getting, it looks like, a reduction in the international pressure. China and South Korea are always looking to go soft on enforcing required U.N. sanctions, are already calling for removing some of the sanctions as well as offering economic benefits to the North.

TODD (voice-over): Experts warn of how the calculating, brutal young dictator might turn these victories into a threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea for years has been already a threat to regional stability by attacking South Korea, conducting these tests. It's more than likely that, over time, North Korea may feel emboldened to do even more of that, to feel safe at a nuclear deterrent and feel that it can lash out at South Korea and Japan basically with impunity.

TODD (voice-over): And while Kim's propaganda machine does mention denuclearization, it sells it as an agreement that both sides will give up nuclear capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, not just that North Korea will give up its arsenal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a self-professed member of the nuclear club, they will go to zero when the rest of the world goes down to zero.

TODD: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo was defensive with reporters when they asked him why the words "irreversible" and "verifiable" --


TODD: -- were not in the summit's final communique when describing now North Korea would denuclearize. Pompeo said the North Koreans know that there will be in-depth verification.

But analysts say, without those words in writing, Kim Jong-un comes away with another victory: wiggle room to dodge, weave and possibly cheat on any deals -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And over the past few hours, secretary of state Mike Pompeo has been in Seoul, trying to get allies on board with Donald Trump's nuclear agreement with Kim. Pompeo met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in as well as the foreign ministers from South Korea and Japan.

And he will soon be wheels up to Beijing, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Speaking in Seoul, Pompeo addressed North Korea's claim that Mr. Trump agreed to lift sanctions against them.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We believe that Chairman Kim Jong-un understands the urgency of the timing of completing this denuclearization, that he understands that we must do this quickly. And the sanctions, really, we should recall, these are U.N. sanctions.

The sanctions really cannot take place until such time as we have demonstrated that North Korea has been completely denuclearized.

The summit created this enormous historic opportunity for us to move forward together and fundamentally reshape the relationship between the United States and North Korea.


CHURCH: And our Anna Coren is in Seoul. She joins me now live.

Good to see you, Anna. So President Trump has declared North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, much to the dismay of many observers.

What's been the reaction to this?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no longer a threat and we can all feel safer, that was what Donald Trump tweeted when he got back to Washington.

Well, as you can imagine, Rosemary, the analysts certainly ridiculing this statement. The reason being is that, as far as they're concerned, North Koreans haven't given up anything.

They haven't given up any weapons. They haven't dismantled any of their known 140-plus nuclear facilities. We don't even know the full size of its nuclear arsenal.

So for Donald Trump to say that the world is much safer seems a little ridiculous, when nothing concrete has happened, other than a signed agreement, a signed agreement in which North Korea says that it reaffirms its commitment to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

And already, Rosemary, there is different interpretations of what was signed in Singapore, as Brian's piece alluded to. The North Koreans, through their state media, KCNA, has said the U.S. agreed to the lifting of sanctions as progress is made.

Well, there's no mention that it comes on the condition of denuclearization. And as we heard, Mike Pompeo, a few hours ago, after meeting with President Moon, he said there would be no lifting of sanctions until there is full denuclearization.

Now we are just two days, you know, into the post-summit and already there is this room for interpretation from the North Koreans and also from the Americans. What is concrete, however, Rosemary, is that, right at this minute, high-level talks are happening between the North Koreans and the South Koreans on the DMZ.

So it would seem there is work underway. We don't have any details of those discussions. But as soon as we get them out, we will bring them to you.

CHURCH: Yes, we will certainly see what comes of that. But also, as we mentioned, we saw Brian Todd talk about this, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, he's there, trying to sell the North Korea deal to allies. And he got defensive about leaving out the words "verifiable" and "irreversible" in that joint document signed by Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

Pompeo thinks the word "complete" covers all of that.

What are the analysts saying about that omission?

How significant is that?

COREN: Yes, look, he got rather testy with the journalists who asked him that question.

Why did you leave verifiable out of the text?

And he said, quote, "I find that question insulting and ridiculous."

Now when I put that to analysts, they said, no, it is a fair question. "Verifiable, irreversible" is language that has been used in previous agreements when dealing with the North Koreans. And the very reason that language has been used is so that it isn't up for interpretation. It holds the North Koreans to account.

So there really is a feeling that, you know, the Americans are trusting the North Koreans. And we heard that from the mouth of Donald Trump. He thinks that Kim Jong-un is trustworthy, a worthy negotiator.

So as does Mike Pompeo. He believes that Kim Jong-un is on the same page, that he understands --


COREN: -- what he has to do. He understands the urgency of the need to begin disarming. And the timeframe that Mike Pompeo gave was 2.5 years, that we will start to see some real disarmament happening within North Korea in the next 2.5 years.

Interestingly enough, Rosemary, that certainly coincides with the end of Donald Trump's first term in office. But a huge task ahead for Mike Pompeo, because he's in charge of this now. He's finished his meetings with the president of South Korea as well as the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan. He's been at the U.S. embassy.

And before the top of the hour, he's due to get on his plane and fly to Beijing, where he will be delivering a similar message to the Chinese. Obviously, a little bit different but filling them in on what took place in Singapore -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: And, of course, the Chinese very happy with the outcome of this summit. Many thanks to our Anna Coren, joining us live from Seoul, South Korea, where it's 3:20 in the afternoon. We'll talk next hour.

Let's take a short break here. But still to come, President Trump's personal attorney is cutting ties with his own legal team as possible criminal charges loom over him.

Could this be a sign Michael Cohen is ready to turn against the president?

We'll take a look.

Plus, epic play is just hours away as football fans count down to the start of the World Cup in Moscow. And we also know the host countries for 2026. I'm sure you do, too.




CHURCH: Two of the lowest ranked teams in international football face off in just a few hours as the opening act of the World Cup in Moscow. Saudi Arabia ranked 67th and Russia ranked 70th. They'll have the tournament all to themselves, at least for the first several hours, as host Russia has an automatic spot.

But it's going into the month-long tournament and the unenviable position of being dead last in the FIFA rankings. CNN's Amanda Davies has a preview.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The last time I was inside here the Luzhniki Stadium was one of my favorite nights as a football fan, watching Manchester United claim --


DAVIES: -- the Champions League in 2008.

But it's fair to say that the Russian team and their fans aren't expecting anything quite as historic, either, in Thursday's opening game against Saudi Arabia or for their remaining matches in this tournament.

This is a Russian side that hasn't won a match in 2018. They haven't actually won a game since October last year. They dropped down to 70th in the world rankings. That makes them the lowest ranked side in the tournament. And even President Putin has admitted he expects them to struggle.

So that puts this group of players in the relatively unusual position of being a host nation, going into their opening match of a World Cup with relatively little expectation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believe all of us would really love it if there could be a bit more positive spirit around our team. But we as footballers we have to contribute to creating this positive atmosphere that will emanate from the press. But I think we have this chance and will try to demonstrate it at the World Cup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are trying to keep doing what we're doing. In fact, we're getting criticized a bit. Well, this is natural thing in the world we're living in today. We have to do everything to deserve praise and praise is a form of criticism, if you really think of it.

So we have to do everything we can to turn criticism into some positive feedback. And I think we have everything we need to do it.


DAVIES: The good news for Russia and their fans is that they're up against a team in Saudi Arabia not in that much better a state. They've had three coaches in three months in the buildup and haven't won a game at a World Cup since 1994.

It's fair to say it's not expected to be a classic opening game. We would love to be proved wrong. But the good news, it's the start of 64 matches in four and a half weeks and that is definitely something to get excited about -- Amanda Davies, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: Yes, it is. As Amanda just said, 64 matches will be played over the next month. A total of 12 stadiums were built or renovated, many of them far from Moscow.

Getting to them required modernizing 20 railway stations, expanding airports in 11 cities and repairing 178 kilometers of roads. The estimated price tag: between $13-$14 billion -- with a B, billion dollars.

On Wednesday, FIFA members in Moscow overwhelmingly voted for North America's united bid to host in 2026.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The member associations of Canada, Mexico and USA have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Thank you.


CHURCH: How about that?

The North American bid easily beat out Morocco. The last time the tournament was in North America was in the United States in 1994.

And just a reminder: you can keep up with all the action of the World Cup anytime on your laptop or mobile device at Take a look.

All right, coming up, migrants stranded in the Mediterranean are now headed for Spain.

But what will Europe do with the many others seeking asylum? (MUSIC PLAYING)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): My mom and my sister were murdered and cremated on the 14th of June last year. I had to listen to them suffer and I had to listen to them die.

CHURCH (voice-over): One year on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Britain is still haunted by the deadly fire. The survivors and the bereaved talk about the damage left on that fateful night.



[02:31:23] CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's check the main stories for you this hour. In Yemen, Saudi-led forces are trying to recapture the port City of Hudaydah currently under control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Aid agencies fearing humanitarian disasters. About 70 percent of food, fuel, and medicine for the country comes through that port. The U.S. Secretary of State is trying to sell Donald Trump's North Korea deal to allies in South Korea. Mike Pompeo has met with President Moon Jae-in and the foreign ministers of both South Korea and Japan. After his summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump declared there's no more nuclear threat from North Korea, and he's halting joint military exercises with South Korea.

A white cat in St. Petersburg said to be psychic has picked Russia to win the opening match in the World Cup. What a surprise. The month long event gets under way in Moscow in the coming hours as the host country faces Saudi Arabia. Both teams are at the bottom of FIFA rankings. Well, President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is looking for a new legal team as the criminal investigation against him moves forward. A source says Cohen is bracing for the possibility of criminal charges leaving some of Trump's allies to wonder if he's ready to change his legal strategy and turn against the president. Our Sara Murray has more.


SARA MURRAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen splitting with his legal team amid a high profile criminal investigation that's likely to lead to charges against President Trump's long time lawyer, a source tells CNN. Sources familiar with Cohen's plans say his goal is to hire a new legal team with experience in the southern district of New York which is handling the probe. But the move could also signal a change in legal strategy. A source says Cohen has not met with prosecutors yet to speak about a potential deal. And it's still unclear whether either side is seeking an agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of talk about you're flipping, any possibility for that? MURRAY: The impending switch comes at a crucial time as Cohen's legal

team is pouring over the 3.7 million files seized during an FBI raid of Cohen's home, office, and hotel room in early April. Well, Cohen has not face any charges yet, the raid revealed that prosecutors were zeroing in on Cohen's personal financial dealings including a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels that Cohen made on Trump's behalf before the 2016 election. Cohen's original legal team was led by an experienced Washington attorney initially hired to represent Cohen before congressional inquiries. Instead, the team has been shepherding Cohen through a criminal investigation and a complex document fight with Cohen challenging prosecutor's ability to see all the documents seized in the raid. The president's personal attorney for more than a decade, Cohen has often professed his loyalty to his boss over the years.

MICHAEL COHEN, AMERICAN ATTORNEY: I protect Mr. Trump. That's what it is. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of concern to him, it's of course concern to me. And I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.

MURRAY: But the exceedingly public and expensive legal battle has some of Trump's allies worried Cohen could eventually decide to flip on President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the president still has your back?

MURRAY: While Trump has down-played the amount of actual legal work Cohen provided for him --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how much of the legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny little fraction.

MURRAY: Cohen has been viewed as a fixer for all sorts of issues that could pose problems for Trump.

[02:35:04] COHEN: They say I'm Mr. Trump's pit bull, that I am his -- I'm his right-hand man.

MURRAY: For the president's part, he took a Twitter in April to predict Cohen would remain loyal calling Cohen a fine person with a wonderful family and saying most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible witch hunt and the dishonest media.


CHURCH: We turn now to immigration and a top catholic leader is blasting the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy. It targets people crossing the U.S. border illegally. Protesters, activists, and some members of Congress also speaking out and took to the streets of Washington on Wednesday.



CHURCH: Demonstrators making their voices heard hundreds of kilometers from the U.S. border with Mexico. It's there that some 500 children are reported to have been separated from their parents since last month. Our Ed Lavandera has more now from the border town of McAllen in Texas.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little more than a month ago, the Trump administration instituted a zero-tolerance policy. The Department of Justice saying that anyone caught entering the country illegally here through the southern border would face prosecution, a misdemeanor charge of illegal entry. And that has dramatically changed the landscape inside of federal courtrooms here along the U.S. southern border where hundreds of people have been turning up every day in the morning, in the afternoon to face this criminal charge. Very different from what has been done in this country in the United States over the last 20 years. And one of the fallouts of that policy is that hundreds of families are being separated. The Department of Justice says it's not keeping track of how many families are separated. But here in this border town of McAllen, Texas, a federal public defender tells us over the course of the last month more than 500 families have been separated.

They described this as an inhumane tactic causing a great deal of stress. The Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that in some way they hope that this serves as a deterrent that its words spreads back into Central America and Mexico where most of these immigrants are coming from, the word will spread and serve as a deterrent to keep these people from making the journey north. Advocates and immigrant rights activists say they just don't believe that is the case. But some of the stories that we've heard from immigrants simply gut wrenching. One activist told us that she was told by an immigrant that her child, her baby was taken away from her while she say breastfeeding the child inside of a detention center just in the last couple of days.

Another man asked for leniency in his sentence for pleading guilty to that illegal entry charge and said please give me a life sentence because I want to be able to get back to my child as soon as possible. An activist say they have a great deal and a great deal of concern over just how quickly and how all of these families will be reunified. They're not exactly convinced that it will work out smoothly. So those are some of the dramatic changes we've seen here along the U.S. southern border and many people anxiously and furiously trying to figure out how all of this will play out in the coming months. Ed Lavandera, CNN, McAllen, Texas.

CHURCH: And across the Atlantic, hundreds of migrants are now on ships headed for Spain, and they're flight is highlighting a growing problem in Europe where a growing number of countries are closing their borders to tens of thousands of people fleeing their homelands. Melissa Bell reports.


another yet again. On Tuesday, hundreds of migrants disembark from the Aquarius onto Italian navy ships that were to help ferry them to Spain. Ahead, another four days at sea after Italy closed its ports on Sunday leaving the 629 migrants in limbo. A crime, according to the cofounder of the NGO that operates the Aquarius.

SOPHIE BEAU, COFOUNDER, SOS MEDITERRANEE (via translator): Onboard the Aquarius today we have 51 women, 45 men, and 10 children. We had to reprovision Monday and Tuesday morning first by the Maltese then by Italian boats. However, there are not enough provisions aboard if the trip increases because of bad weather conditions.


BELL: But even as the Aquarius headed to Spain, another ship carrying even more migrants more than 900 on this one was allowed to dock here in Catania this Wednesday morning. The difference, this is an Italian navy ship. And Rome now says that these are the only ones that will be allowed to dock in Italian ports. Italy's Interior Minister and the leader of the right-wing lead party today explained Rome's new policy to parliament.


MATTEO SALVINI, ITALIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (via translator): I spoke with a German colleague with whom we shared the fact that we need to protect the exterior borders of Europe, not just Italy. We can't be the only ones to do what we're commendably doing in the Mediterranean enduring economic and social caused. If Europe is with us, speak now or forever keep quiet.


[02:40:17] BELL: A new policy that has also created a rift in Europe with the French ambassador summoned by Rome after the French president described the policy as cynical and irresponsible. European division that comes even as the E.U. looks for unity on this question. What to do with the tens of thousands of migrants who continue to land on European shores barefoot and desperate after a journey that has just been made a little more dangerous still? Melissa Bell, CNN Catania.

CHURCH: Britain is paying tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire one year on. The scene of the tragedy, the high rise in West London is now covered in a shroud. It was lit up overnight to remember the 72 people who died there in the early hours of June 14th last year. The United Kingdom will hold a minutes silence later today. A public inquiry is now underway into the Grenfell tragedy. Investigators and survivors have been asking questions about the response to Britain's deadliest domestic fire since the Second World War. And Prime Minister Theresa May has been offering up a personal apology.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I didn't of course on that first visit meet members of the community or survivors, and I'm sorry for having met them then. I regret that because I think people perhaps felt that they wanted those of us in power to know that -- to know that we had understood and recognized what had happened and perhaps felt that not meeting them immediately meant that I didn't care, and that was never the case.


CHURCH: Amid the apologies and the questions, the voices of the Grenfell survivors and the testimonies of bereaved friends and relatives. CNN's Nick Glass brings us their stories.


NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Normally, you probably wouldn't give it a second look, just another London tower block one among many. But under the white plastic sheeting is Grenfell Tower and Grenfell is the stuff of nightmares. Strip away the shroud and as everyone knows this is still an incinerated concrete shell, a 24-story tombstone, the relic of a fire that should have never, ever have happened.

AHMED ELGWAHRY, WITNESS, GRENFELL TOWER INQUIRY: My mom and my sister were murdered and cremated on the 14th of June last year. I had to listen to them suffer, and I had to listen to them die. I had to watch Grenfell Tower burn for a couple of days but particularly the top floors. If that's not torture then I'm not really sure what else is.

GLASS: One year on and Grenfell remains a place of profound sadness. How could anyone forget what happened here? There's grief and dignity but also simmering anger and an unquenchable desire for justice. The photos of the missing one plastered everywhere have begun to fade and fray, but not the memory of the night or the manner of their dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly don't -- it looks to me like it's only the outside but -- oh, my God.

GLASS: With the launch of the public inquiry they stood in silence for a symbolic 72 seconds. Seventy-two people died in the fire. Here was a room filled overflowing with the bereaved.

HISAM CHOUCAIR, WITNESS, GRENFELL TOWER INQUIRY: I have to live with my family ripped apart for the rest of my life. I don't see this as a tragedy. I see it as an atrocity.

GLASS: For seven tearful days the bereaved paid tribute to their loved ones. Some made commemorative videos.

FIRDAWS HASHIM, GRENFELL TOWER VICTIM: I want to scream, I want to shout, I want to scream until the words dry out.

GLASS: It made it all the more heart breaking so many children, so young, so vibrantly full of life. The inquiry has already heard what experts have described as a litany of failures at Grenfell. Everything caught fire much faster than anyone could ever have imagined, window frames, fire doors, and perhaps most disastrously of all the exterior cladding installed just a few years ago. The small fire evidently started in a fridge freezer on the fourth floor swept up the building in just 19 minutes.

[02:45:12] The tower will eventually be demolished, but Grenfell will long remain a synonym for the cruelest of human tragedies. We all watched helplessly on. How in this day and age could this happen in London? Nick Glass, CNN at Grenfell Tower.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, U.S. media giant Comcast is going on all in to buy most of 21st Century Fox. Comcast formally bid $65 billion in cash Wednesday.

Now, this pits up against Disney, which earlier made a $52 billion play for 21st century's movie and T.V. assets. It also raises the prospect of a bidding war.

The move comes just after a judge approved the mega-merger between AT&T and CNN's parent company, Time Warner. That ruling is likely to spark a number of big media deals. And the winner of the Comcast Disney showdown will get Fox's movie studio, cable channels and Fox's stake in the streaming service, Hulu.

Well, prosecutors in Germany have fined Volkswagen $1.2 billion for the car maker's diesel scandal. Volkswagen was charged with installing software to evade emission standards. Authorities say, the rigging involved about 11 million diesel cars around the world. The penalty is one of the biggest ever imposed on a company in Germany. Volkswagen says it accepts the fine and will not appeal it.

We are watching dramatic changes to the Kilauea Volcano's massive crater. New images from Hawaii reveal it has subsided at least 100 meters in the past few weeks. The U.S. geological survey also reports the crater's rim and walls have slumped inward and rock falls have occurred.

Meanwhile, lava is still streaming from a fissure toward the ocean. It has produced a large plume of steam and toxic gas. Residents with breathing issues are urged to limit outdoor exposure, of course, and experts warn the hazardous conditions could last for days.

All right, quick change here and a switcheroo as the World Cup gets underway in Russia. Our Derek Van Dam is here with the weather details. So, what's it going to look like when they get underway?

[02:50:09] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Today is the big day, and -- you know, a lot of people think of Russia. They think about of being a very cool place, especially in the wintertime, but interesting it can get pretty hot. In the summer, they can have heat waves. They average about 20 to 28 degrees Celsius, this time of year being to June and July.

Months when the World Cup will be held, (INAUDIBLE) can soar as high as 34 degrees as well as southernmost areas as well. Not much going on across Russia at the moment, this is the latest satellite loop. But it's the sheer size of Russia that helps put this into perspective.

We have 12 venues hosted across 11 different cities, and the further separation between the two stadiums is over 3,000 kilometers. That's further than if you were to travel from let's say, London to Moscow. And in terms of a latitude shift from St. Petersburg southward in the Sochi, that's over 2,000 kilometers away.

So, obviously, there's going to be a big difference in our climate, what types of weather patterns we receive, and certainly, the temperatures. So, you go further to the north, mild of temperatures, a little bit more frequent low-pressure systems across the area, but the further south you get, we dry things out and, of course, we warm things up. And that's the general weather pattern we expect at least for the opening day today and into the early parts of the opening weekend.

Several matches being played but this, of course, all eyes on Moscow, Saudi Arabia versus Russia. This is taking place in an outdoor venue. Well, at least, it has an open air to it, and temperatures will be cooler than normal for this time of year. 17 degrees and time for the kickoff, but there is the other 11 host cities spaced-out across Russia.

Incredible to see that each of them expecting dry conditions, at least, right now and into the first few plays -- days of match play, I should say. And milder air will start to settle in across the region. In fact, check out the seven-day forecast for Moscow, for instance. The only chance of rain in the next foreseeable future will be next week, Tuesday.

So, looking good. That's why event organizers have planned the World Cup around this time of the year because it is typically the driest right now and typically the warmest that Russia would experience.

So, here's the couple of other match day forecast. This is for Friday, we've got three other games taking place on that particular day, and all of which expected to stay dry. So, the good news is everyone heading to the opening ceremony in Moscow today, bring your sunscreen because it will be dry and it will be sunny.

CHURCH: Yes, yes. Always wear your sunscreen.

VAN DAM: Always good idea.

CHURCH: It's going to be fun, isn't it?

VAN DAM: I agree. I was in Cape Town for the opening, 2010 World Cup in South Africa that was exactly, as well. So, remember the environment and remember the people.

CHURCH: It's going to be fun. All right, thank you so much, Derek. We'll talk again next hour.

VAN DAM: You bet. CHURCH: OK. Well, just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the British Prime Minister is asked to choose, Trump or Trudeau? And we will tell you how Theresa May answered that question.

And the adventure is over for the daredevil tower climbing raccoon who took the internet by storm. Back in a moment.


CHURCH: The battle of words between the United States and Canada has taken another twist. It popped up in the House of Commons in London, in the form of a provocative choice for the British Prime Minister. Jeanne Moos, explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The question came out of left field in the House of Commons, who would Britain's Prime Minister pick?


MAY: I'm not sure what activity he's asking me to undertake with either.

MOOS: Prime Minister Theresa May, may have laughed off the question, but singer Paul Simon, apologized the Canadian at the Toronto concert.

PAUL SIMON, SINGER-SONGWRITER AND ACTOR: That doesn't -- does not speak to the heart and soul of Americans.

MOOS: We will always be family, Simon, said.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: But we will also will not be pushed around.

TRUMP: He will not be pushed around by the United States. He learned that's going to cost a lot of money to the people of Canada.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS: Wow, he is mad. It's like Trudeau stole his girlfriend. Oh, wait, he kind of did.

MOOS: Critics say, President Trump is treating friends like enemies and enemies like friends. Captioned one cartoonist, "I'm sorry I called you Little Rocket Man. I already like you better than crooked Canadian backstabber Justin Trudeau.

Americans who are embarrassed by the rift have been sending good vibes to their northern neighbors. Using the #thankscanada. "Thanks for everything from hockey to maple syrup."

Canadians responded with tweets like this maple leaf thumbs up, pumping someone to wonder did anyone else think this was a maple leaf with boobs? SETH MEYERS, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS: How do you getting a fight with Canada? That's like holding a grudge against a golden retriever puppy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like picking a fight with Nilla Wafers.

MOOS: But Nilla Wafers can't fight back with jokes. If Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were both drowning and you only had time to save one of them, where would you and Justin Trudeau go for lunch instead? And speaking of lunch.

COLBERT: Our relations have not been this bad with Canada since they stole the word bacon.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos.

COLBERT: Canadian bacon is just around ham, you monsters.

MOOS: CNN, New York.


CHURCH: And finally this hour, a skyscraper scaling raccoon is now safe and sound on the ground after a two-day adventure climbing a 25- story office tower in Minnesota.

The little daredevil became an intimate sensation climbing floor by floor, she stopped on windowsills for a little nap, while curious onlookers snapped photos below.

When she wouldn't come down on her own wildlife workers finally lured her into a cage with a little cat food. And after some coaxing, the raccoon scampered off into the wild. What an impressive young lady and everyone thought she was a guy.

Thank you so much for your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more world news after this short break. You're watching CNN. Don't go away.