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Thailand Cave Rescue; U.S. Trade War; U.S.-North Korean Relations; U.S. Immigration Debate; 2018 World Cup; Talking with David Sedaris. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The rescue mission in Thailand reaches a critical point. Divers are racing against the clock as more rain threatens the evacuation of the trapped football team.

And the pressure is on. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo to deliver results on Korean denuclearization as he visits North Korea's top brass.

Plus --


DAVID SEDARIS, AUTHOR AND HUMORIST: If I were to rob a bank right now, and they would say, "What did he look like?"

"He had gray hair."

And that would be it.

NEWTON (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) there. More from a one-on-one conversation with the American humorist.


NEWTON (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, I'm Paula Newton. Great to have you with us.


NEWTON: We start with the increasingly urgent rescue operation in Thailand. Officials said there would be no attempt to remove a trapped youth football team on Saturday but the governor has just emphasized that the next few days offer the very best chance to get that team out.

There are concerns about low oxygen levels in the flooded cave, where the 12 boys and their coach are now confined.

Adding to the danger, though, more rain in the forecast. We will tell you much more about that in a moment but a U.S. officials says a buddy dive is being considered. That's where an experienced diver would swim out with each one of those team members.

But as you can imagine, that could still be risky. This former Thai Navy SEAL, a skilled diver, died Friday, trying to take part in the rescue efforts.

CNN's David McKenzie joins us now live from Northern Thailand.

David, you've been watching this unfold for days. But the last several hours have been crucial. What has been alarming is the governor is saying this might be the best chance we have in the next few days.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula. I feel that there is a window now that they want to exploit. It is still going to be an incredibly and hazardous journey for those young boys out of this cave system with specialist divers.

Now what we are hearing from teams on the ground is that the British caving experts are seen as the most capable divers in these particular circumstances.

But there are militaries from Australia, the U.S. and other international countries being here to support the Thais. They're doing drills and running rehearsals of the rescue system, according to the Thai governor.

But he does say they are not happy yet with exactly the plan or the execution at this stage. But with the rain looming, the feeling is this could happen sooner rather than later.

NEWTON: All of us have been really feeling not just for the boys and the teams trying to rescue them, but for the families that are obviously waiting for the footnote to this miracle.

David, they sent back notes to their families, incredibly poignant ones.

MCKENZIE: They were incredibly poignant, written in handwriting in Thai on notebook paper, taken in by the specialist divers. I want to share a few with the viewers.

Mick (ph) is his nickname, says, "Don't worry, I miss everybody. Grandfather, Auntie, Mum, Dad and brothers. I'm happy here. SEALs are taking good care of me. I love everybody."

Another from Deu (ph), "Don't worry, Dad, Mum. I have just disappeared for two weeks. I will help Mum sell every time I have a free day now when I get back. I will rush back."

And finally, "I'm fine. Weather is quite cold in here. Don't forget my birthday."

These boys have gone through so much. Sometimes you almost forget that they are the center of all of this because of the tech and the militaries and the strategies that we have been talking about for days. They are there and they have been there for more than two weeks; 15 days, in fact, in the dark mostly. The oxygen levels are low.

Their spirits are up, say the Thai authorities, but there will be this dramatic evacuation, one feels, before the rains really set in, because the worry is, no matter how much water they pump out of that cave system, it will be inundated and the governor just this morning said they could be down to just a few feet of space if the rains come and could be flooded entirely.

So at some point they will have to make a very difficult decision, I feel, to pull those boys out. In part, will have to squeeze through narrow gaps with very little training in the complete darkness. So it's going to be horrifying for them.

But the whole world is watching, hoping that all these great technical minds and experience can get them out alive.

NEWTON: Absolutely, most of all their families. It must just be excruciating. Our David McKenzie continues to follow this by the hour.



NEWTON: Another story you've been following here, almost 2 million people in Japan have been told they must leave their homes due to torrential rain and flooding. At least eight people have died.

Dramatic images of damaged roads and destroyed homes show the devastation caused by the record rainfall. Japan's weather agency said there is more to come throughout the weekend. It's upgraded its warning to the highest level possible in Nagasaki, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Look at those pictures.

Now U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is in Pyongyang for a second day of talks. He's meeting again with top North Korean officials trying to nail down efforts to denuclearize the peninsula and repatriate remains of Americans killed in the Korean War.

Earlier on Saturday, Pompeo made a secure phone call to update President Trump. Our Andrew Stevens is standing by in Seoul, following all the developments.

And one of the key ones -- and I'm not sure you have a direct answer to this, Andrew -- is whether or not the secretary of state will be meeting with Kim Jong-un.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: That is a key question. And I fairly can't give you an answer on that one, Paula. We don't know at this stage. This is Mike Pompeo's third trip to Pyongyang and the first time he has been there since the June 12th summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

In the previous two meetings, Mike Pompeo did indeed meet with Kim Jong-un --


STEVENS: -- so it would be surprising if he didn't meet with Kim this time around.

What we know so far in the 1.5 days or so of meetings that Mike Pompeo has held is that he has been talking to Kim Yong-chol, who is Kim's right-hand man. Details on the contents of those discussions, what's on the table, what the U.S. is asking for, what the North Koreans are offering, are still very, very limited at this stage.

We know they have been talking about the potential return of remains of U.S. service men who died during the Korean War and we know that Mike Pompeo wants to, as he said, fill in the details concerning the commitments that the two leaders made in Singapore in June 12th when they signed off on the fairly broad agreement outlining a move towards total denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

But other than that, we don't really know. There was a brief interlude during meetings between Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol this morning. Mike Pompeo coming out and conversing with two of his advisers before heading back into the meeting.

Now the U.S. delegation is due to hit Tokyo this afternoon, where Mike Pompeo is due to brief the leaders of South Korea and Japan on the conversation. So time is running out.

We did get a note from the pool team, who is covering the story, who is with the U.S. delegation, saying they have been told they have to start packing up and get ready to head to the airport.

But I'm afraid at this stage, we can't confirm whether Pompeo did meet with Kim.

NEWTON: It's in Kim's control. If he's not going to meet with him, that's just the way it is. Again, Mike Pompeo will move on to Japan and update them, as will Andrew Stevens there, keeping us updated from Seoul. Good to see you, Andrew, appreciate it.

Now more than 1,300 goods coming and going from China and the U.S. now cost more. The two countries have each imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of products, a wide range of products, including Chinese machinery and American meat and tobacco.

Beijing says it was forced to strike back after Washington made the first move. This trade battle will likely escalate. The U.S. says it could respond with yet another wave of tariffs.

We want to bring in our senior producer Steven Jiang from Beijing. He's been following all of this.

One thing I'm curious about, Steven, is how you think Chinese consumers will take this in. The Chinese government has been fairly strident in saying we will match this dollar for dollar and we are up for a trade war if you want to have that war.

Yet how is Chinese business and the consumers taking it all in? STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Paula, it's going to take some time for these new tariffs to be reflected in the prices that consumers and companies will have to pay. That is a question we can better answer down the road.

But you talked about the $34 billion figure quite a lot. It's actually relatively minor considering bilateral trade volume actually exceeded $600 billion last year. But the worry is it's not going to stop here. Neither side is backing down. If anything, both sides, both leaders have hardened their stance.

You mentioned some of that, the U.S. president as recently as Thursday said, if the Chinese retaliate, which they did, he would impose even more tariffs on more Chinese imports. He mentioned a figure somewhere around $550 billion.

That's actually more than what the Americans bought from the Chinese in total last year. So his math may be a little fuzzy but his determination is very clear here.

On the Chinese side, President Xi Jinping has similarly vowed to punch back. So when it comes to tariffs, the Chinese are actually at a disadvantage because they buy a lot less from the U.S. than the other way around. So presumably they will run out of American goods to tariff faster than the U.S. side.

That's why a lot of experts are worried about the prospect of the Chinese launching so-called non-tariff measures against American business interests here. That could mean sending inspectors to American companies' facilities, rejecting the license and visa applications or quarantine their products.

If that happened, that would affect a lot more American businesses here, forcing them to incur huge costs of doing business here. And that's the prospect a lot of people don't want to see but they are increasingly worried about.

NEWTON: Yes, the escalation is not just about tariffs; it can definitely spread to other things. Steven Jiang there for in Beijing, appreciate it.

Coming up, why the Trump administration is begging a federal judge for more time to bring separated migrant families back together.

And a stunned Brazil crashes out of the World Cup but a hopeful one are trying to the semifinals for the first time in 28 years. What you need to know from Russia. That's next.




(MUSIC PLAYING) NEWTON: One deadline missed and two more yet to be met as the U.S. government faces court orders to reunite migrant families. There are about 3,000 children still in U.S. custody. They were separated from their parents at the U.S. border under President Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy.

On Friday, the Trump administration faced its first deadline to establish contact between the children and their parents. A government attorney said in court she believed officials had met that deadline but she said the next one will be much trickier. CNN's Nick Watt explains why they are asking for more time.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The federal government will now miss a key deadline in its effort to reunite children and their parents who have been separated at the border.

By Tuesday, the government was supposed to have reunited all children under 5 with their parents. We heard in San Diego that there are approximately 101 of those young kids; 46 parents have been identified and they are in ICE custody. Those reunifications apparently not a problem.

The issue is 19 parents have been released in this country; 19 parents have been deported. Tracking them down will take a little bit more time.

There were two other deadlines imposed by the judge here in San Diego. The first was by Friday all kids under 5 and their parents who are in custody were to have spoken by phone. The government claims that has happened.

There is another deadline; that is July 26th. By that date, all minors under 5 -- over 5 are to be reunited with their parents. They barely even mentioned that.

What they are trying to do here is deal with those kids under 5. And as the judge said, they are trying to work together to get those children reunited with their parents as quickly as possible -- Nick Watt, CNN, San Diego, California.


NEWTON: Earlier I spoke to political analyst Michael Genovese and I asked him how the reunification process was going and what impact it could have on the Trump administration.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thus far, it's been chaotic. It's been a disaster. And think about it.

The pictures that you would show, children being ripped out of the hands of their mothers, on what universe does that make sense? The optic of that is terrible. But the optic is a political question. This has really become a moral issue. It's become an issue for humanity and it's become a disgrace. It is beyond politics at this point.

And the United States, it's a dark day for the United States. If the Trump administration can't figure this one out, if they can't get it right, you will see more and more horror stories, and it's all because of the policy changes that they enacted.

NEWTON: And I think that's one thing that's definitely been missing from the discussion, even if those people who support the president's moves on immigration.

When you talk about trying to reunite these families, do you think, at this point -- we have not heard a peep out of the White House. No task force, no czar in charge of reunifications.

What will be able to motivate them?

Is it just a matter of throwing --


NEWTON: -- a lot of resources at it?

Or as you say, is it a matter of Americans standing up and saying this isn't right?

GENOVESE: They would rather this problem just go away. It's not going to go away. They have to make it right. And to do that they have to take concerted effort to get this right, to get the process going, to get children together with their families because, every day that it goes on, it is going to be in the news.

It ought to be in the news because these are dark times for the United States. We need to right the wrong. If we can't right the wrong, then we've morally failed ourselves and our country.



NEWTON: An amazing day for most of Europe but not so great for South America at the World Cup in Russia. There were celebrations in Brussels after Belgium won the quarterfinal against five-time champion Brazil, 2-1.

It was a similar scene in Paris after France defeated Uruguay 2-0. France and Belgium will now meet in the semifinals next Tuesday in St. Petersburg. Our Don Riddell has all the highlights for you.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the first time in 32 years, Belgium are into the semifinals of the World Cup. But it is all over for Brazil. The five-time champions, who so often kick off as tournament favorites, have been humbled in Kazan. They were beaten by two goals to one.


RIDDELL (voice-over): A lively game with chances at either end turned in Belgium's favor by Nacer Chadli's teasing corner was turned into the next as the Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho. That was in the 13th minute. Still plenty of time for an equalizer.

But when Belgium stunned them with a second, it became a different story. That was an absolutely sensational strike from Kevin de Bruyne, wasn't it?

Brazil got back into contention in the second half, thanks to a delightful chip from Philippe Coutinho and a well-taken header from Renato Augusto. And with their superstar Neymar leading the line, Brazil could have equalized. But Thibaut Courtois denied them with a brilliant save and so Brazil are out.

Meanwhile, there are echoes of 1998, as France advance to the semis with a 2-0 win against Uruguay. Uruguay were without one of their top strikers, Edinson Cavani, and they missed him. Uruguay had only conceded one goal all year but they were breached here with the deft header (ph) from Raphael Varane, the replay demonstrating just how perfect his touch was.

Uruguay could have equalized almost immediate, though, but Martin Caceres was denied by a brilliant save form Hugo Lloris, one of the saves of the tournaments. But the same could not be said for the opposite goalie when Fernando Muslera slipped and spilled Antoine Griezmann's speculative shot. The game was up.

France went through to the semifinals. The ball may have moved in the air and that will haunt him for a long, long time.

So it is going to be an all-European tournament from here on. We can look forward to an absorbing semi between France and Belgium in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Saturday, we'll see how the other half of the draw shakes out. England and Sweden play in the early quarterfinal game before the hosts, Russia, take on Croatia -- Don Riddell, CNN.


NEWTON: OK. Our next interview was one of the best loved humorists of our generation. Grammy-nominated David Sedaris' best-selling books are published in more than 25 languages. My colleague, Hala Gorani sat down with him to discuss his newest book, "Calypso."


SEDARIS: One thing that has always worked in my favor, I think, is that I'm small and I'm kind of nondescript. So you can always kind of spy on the world without getting any attention put on you. And then when you get old, like once you have a few gray hairs, then

you are really invisible. So it's like I'm the invisible man now. And you can walk through the world and pull out my notebook and make notes right in front of people and they don't even see me.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's one thing about, yes, the older I get, the more invisible I get, too. It's something where -- does the world belong to the 20-somethings?

SEDARIS: Yes, completely, it belongs to them.

If I were to rob a bank right now, and they would say, "What did he look like?"

"He had gray hair."

And that would be it. That would be it if I robbed a bank, where 20- somethings worked, at least. That's all they would say.

GORANI: "Leviathan," this is one of your essays. You talk about being -- and I love this because it's for anyone who goes back to where they vacationed as a kid. Makes -- it really resonated with me. If you don't mind, this is the paragraph that I really liked, if you don't mind reading it from there to there.

SEDARIS: "All these hale, silver-haired seniors, walking or jogging or cycling past the house. Later in the day, when the heat cranks up, they purr by in golf carts wearing visors, their noses streaked with --


SEDARIS: -- "sunblock. If you were a teenager, you likely wouldn't give it much thought. But to my sisters and me, people in our mid- to late 50s, it is chilling. That will be us in like eight years, we think.

"How can that be when only yesterday, on this very same beach, we were children?"

GORANI: It's really interesting to me, that particular paragraph resonated with me because I go back to where I was a kid when I vacationed. My brother, my cousins, everyone, we are all now in our 40s and 50s and we remember those days, when we were making sand castles on that beach.

SEDARIS: No, give it 10 or 20 years and it will be even worse. I know it. Again, that's the danger of going back to where you used to go. You just can't escape. And you see these kids on the beach and they are you. They're no different, you know --


GORANI: Because you feel the same way as you did. I mean, I don't -- I -- in my head, I'm not 48, I'm 28. My body is 48 but the way I think and the way I think about life hasn't really changed all that much.

SEDARIS: When I go out for a walk, I will have a fantasy that I'm in an airplane and the pilot has a heart attack and then somebody needs to pilot this plane to safety and I say, "I'll do it."

Look, I have never even driven a car. So I get behind the wheel and they talk me through it and I safely land the plane and then everyone in the world wants to talk to me. All right. But I'm not into that, right. So I don't talk to anybody about it. And I just go home and then the press surrounds my house and I get so mad at them.

And that's --


SEDARIS: -- along. And I think, OK, I'm 61.


SEDARIS: -- no, but just embroidering pointless fantasies like that, and I think that's not what a 61-year old would think about. But I'd wager that that's what pretty much all 61-year olds think about.

GORANI: And why not?

SEDARIS: Escape and fantasy and what if that was me.


NEWTON: Not so different from a 6-year old really.

Thank you, Hala Gorani, for that interview.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. George Howell will be back in a half-hour with much more news and I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.