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CNN NEWSROOM

British Prime Minister Signs Letter to Trigger Brexit; Health Care Deal; Trump Reverses Obama-Era Regulations; Russia-Trump Ties; Trump Administration Targets Sanctuary Cities; 20M People in Four Countries Need Food; CNN Finds Widespread Devastation in Western Mosul; Samsung to Release New Smartphone This Week. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Article 50 -- the British prime minister signs a letter that will trigger Brexit and reshape the U.K. and Europe.

VAUSE: Things President Trump said on Tuesday a health care deal will be easy, U.S. troops are fighting like never before in Iraq, and he promised clean and air and water while removing federal restrictions on coal mining.

SESAY: Plus 20 million people in four countries in danger of starving unless the world steps up in a hurry.

VAUSE: Let's welcome our viewers all around the world. It's good to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: In just a few hours' time, the British prime minister is expected to officially start a process that will shape the future of the U.K. and Europe. Theresa May has signed a letter to trigger Article 50, which will begin two years of negotiations to leave the European Union.

SESAY: Well, the talks could be divisive but earlier Mrs. May spoke to E.U. leaders and said they all agreed on the importance of entering the negotiations in a constructive spirit.

VAUSE: But there's a complication for Britain. Scotland may want out of the U.K. Scottish lawmakers have voted in favor of a second referendum on independence, mostly driven by their opposition to Brexit. Last year Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the E.U. (SIC)

SESAY: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon plans to ask the British parliament for a vote late next year or early 2019, but the British government says it won't even negotiate those terms until Brexit is complete.

VAUSE: Like most relationships heading to divorce, the U.K. and the E.U. have seen good times and bad, promises unfulfilled, sometimes they just well, didn't communicate.

SESAY: Yes. Well, our Nic Robertson (ph) looks at their turbulent history from the end of World War II and through many British governments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Britain and the European Union, always a fractious rather ambivalent relationship, never simply black and white although the idea did have an eloquent post-war champion.

WINSTON CHURCHILL FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We cannot aim at anything less than the union of Europe as a whole. And we look forward with confidence to the day when that union will be achieved.

Reporter: Britain could so easily have been a founder in '57, precisely 60 years ago, along with the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and the French and the Italians. But a suspicious Britain declined to join the club.

As Germany and France prospered economically, Adenauer embraced by France's Charles de Gaulle, Britain had a sudden change of heart out of economic self-interest. But de Gaulle said no, vetoing the British application in 1963 and in 1967. Only after de Gaulle died did Britain finally gain membership in 1973.

The conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath signed with a golden pen. As a keen musician, he encouraged the newly-formed European youth orchestra.

But by 1975, Britain was already having second thoughts. The Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson called a referendum.

HAROLD WILSON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The British people in clear and unmistakable terms have made their historic decision that Britain shall remain a member of the European community.

Reporter: Note that word "historic", so persistently used in this prolonged saga.

The conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had her battles with Europe, arguing that Britain was contributing too much to the E.U. budget. She successfully won a rebate in 1984.

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is asking the community to have our own money back.

Reporter: The Maastricht Treaty in 1992 brought about greater integration among member states over justice, home and foreign affairs and security, but Britain went on to opt out of the common currency, the euro. And so, to David Cameron's faithful decision announced in 2013 --

DAVID CAMERON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It will be an in-out referendum.

Reporter: -- and to Nigel Farage's triumph as leader of the U.K. Independence Party as the British voted out last summer.

NIGEL FARAGE, U.K. INDEPENDENCE PARTY LEADER: Let June the 23rd go down in our history as our independence day.

Reporter: The basic question was and remains, what have the E.U. done for Britain? Superficially it changed our drinking habits, our consumption of latte and cappuccino and anything bubbly. It encouraged a flood of German cars; more importantly and divisively, a flood of people. Over three million European nationals living and working in Britain.

[00:05:01] With the narrow vote in favor of leaving, the referendum showed that Britain is profoundly fractured over Europe; manifestly, for better or worse, it isn't quite the same country it was in 1973. And that raises a new question. What will Britain's place in the world be in the future?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, here is what Article 50 entails. "Any member state may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. A member state which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of these guidelines provided by the European Council, the union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union."

VAUSE: They never thought they'd have to use it.

Once Article 50 is triggered, the U.K. and the E.U. have two years to reach a deal. If they don't and the deadline is not extended, the U.K. falls out of the union and all laws and treaties between the two will be terminated.

SESAY: Well, despite a stinging defeat trying to repeal Obamacare, the U.S. President insists there will be a deal on health care.

VAUSE: Donald Trump's bold prediction startled some at a White House reception for Republican and Democratic senators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care, that's such an easy one. So I have no doubt that that's going to happen very quickly. I think it will, actually. I think it's going to happen because we've all been promising -- Democrat, Republican -- we've all been promising that to the American people. So I think a lot of good things are going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, earlier, Mr. Trump stood with coal miners as he signed an executive order to end Obama administration climate change regulations. It calls for review of the carbon dioxide limit on power plants and allows coal mining on federal lands. Experts say court battles are expected. President Trump made no mention of the Paris climate agreement.

VAUSE: Joining us now for more on this, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas -- good to see you guys.

SESAY: Gentlemen -- welcome.

VAUSE: Ok. So clearly now, when we're talking about Plan B on health care, that now stands for bipartisan deal. The President made that clear a few hours ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Hopefully it will start being bipartisan, because everybody really wants the same thing. We want greatness for this country that we love. So I think we're going to have some very good relationships, right -- Chuck? I see Chuck. Hello -- Chuck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Chuck, Chuck -- now Chuck -- who would that be?

SESAY: Chuck Schumer --

VAUSE: That will be Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate.

SESAY: That will be him.

VAUSE: This guy -- who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Now the President chose petulance over presidential leadership and signaled that he would undermine the Affordable Care Act and then try to blame Democrats for his lack of leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, that Chuck. So Dave it seems to me as long as Obamacare is alive and kicking and it is, according to the non- -- the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, Democrats are not going to throw a life line to Donald Trump.

DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No. Look, Donald Trump is completely and utterly divorced from reality. This is a guy who has an approval rating, according to Gallup by 36 percent. 36 percent of Americans approve of President Trump's job. That's worse than President Obama ever had. It's worse than Bill Clinton ever had. It underscores, I think, the real challenge that Donald Trump has moving forward.

Look, this failure on health care wasn't just a loss. It was a body blow. This is a party that campaigned for seven years on repealing and replace -- replacing Obamacare. And then the public, the voters rewarded Republicans, giving them the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and then they failed to deliver.

I just don't see how Donald Trump moves forward and I don't see how the Democrats have any incentive to work with a failing president.

SESAY: John, before you jump all over Dave, because I see you poised to do that -- don't worry about the Democrats, let's talk about your own people, the Republicans.

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Sure.

SESAY: Because right now, they all seem to be having a moment of kumbaya. They all seem to be playing nicely, even the Freedom Caucus.

But you know, aside from the Democrats playing ball with the White House, I mean how long can this consensus in the Republican Party last to pull off another health care plan or attempt?

THOMAS: Well, that's the other thing is that Trump needs a win under his belt, I think, before he can regroup and go back to health care. I mean he said it will -- health care will pass quickly and easily. I don't buy it.

I think that's just Trump doing the art of the deal which is start by projecting strength in a negotiation. And you know, saying hello to Chuck Schumer, you know, it's tongue in cheek. He knows that Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are the party of no. And they don't care what's good for America. They don't want Donald Trump to get a win here.

[00:10:00] But you're right, Republicans have to all come together, and the members of the Freedom Caucus have to support the President's agenda.

I would advise the President to take his time on coming up with the -- not just the repeal, but what the replacement plan looks like for Obamacare and get it right, so that he can form that winning Republican coalition and get this thing through.

VAUSE: Well, he's not going to get a win out of the House Intelligence Committee investigating ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. The story out today, it's alleged that the White House tried to stop the former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying. The allegation is that the administration was worried that her testimony could be in fact quite damaging.

The Justice Department had attempted last week to try and stop her from making this appearance. When that seemed to be going nowhere, that's when the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House, Devin Nunes, he intervened, he canceled what was meant to be a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Again, to you, John -- even if there's no there-there in regard to the latest scandal with the House Intelligence Committee, there's now at least the appearance of a conflict of interest for the chairman and Democrats and even some Republicans saying he should recuse himself.

THOMAS: Yes, I mean, look, I think the problem is, Republicans and rightfully so, don't want to have a lot of these hearings public for two reasons.

One is they understand that Democrats are going to grandstand and just try to make this a political thing -- that they don't care to get to the truth.

And secondly, look, when you heard Comey on the stand the other day, I think almost 100 times he said he could not answer the question because it's classified.

Why, if you're quest is for the truth would you want to continue to hold public hearings where somebody like the director of the FBI can't speak in confidence and give the facts?

SESAY: Well, Devin Nunes continues to be under fire and people are losing faith in him -- I mean that much we all know. Even some Republicans are losing faith in him. Take a listen to Senator Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The problem that he's created is he's gone off on a lark by himself, sort of an Inspector Clouseau investigation here, trying to find some unmasking information about collection incidental with the Trump campaign and some foreign agent outside of Russia.

I think the only way this thing can be repaired if he tells his colleagues on the House intel committee, who he met with and what he saw, and let them look at the same information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: You know, nobody's holding their breath for that. So Dave -- wouldn't it be in the President's interest at this stage to call for a thorough, independent, bipartisan investigation?

JACOBSON: Right. If there's no fire, why not call for an independent prosecutor? Moreover, the American people support an independent outside process whether it's an investigator or prosecutor or both.

According to CNN yesterday 66 percent of Americans think we ought to have an independent prosecutor. This is in the President's best interest. It's in Chairman Nunes' best interest, I think. Look, moreover, everything that goes on, over the Trump administration and over anybody tied to Trump, whether it's folks who are participating in this transition, like Chairman Nunes, or his outside allies like Roger Stone, all of these folks have a thick toxic cloud hovering above them and they will for the foreseeable future, until we get down to the facts and find out really whether or not there was any corruption, any real meaningful collusion that actually took place.

And I think look, the public is salivating for these answers. And this House Intelligence Committee increasingly is losing credibility everyday that the chairman remains in place.

THOMAS: I think the Democrats are salivating to make a spectacle out of this. The reality is as the more transparent or whatever additional facts that the Republicans reveal to be transparent, the Democrats keep shifting the goalpost. And that's their concern.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Ok. Amid this (inaudible) controversy over alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, there is one dependable, reassuring, calm voice of reason at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Just kidding. It was Sean Spicer. You know, just wondering about this -- John. Is Spicer actually adding now to the problems of the administration? He has these combative briefings every day now.

THOMAS: He's got a tough job, John, because he's only told what he needs to know. He probably doesn't know the full picture, and that's what any spokesman or spokeswoman has to deal with. But I'm sure he feels frustrated, because he's trying to disseminate the facts that he has, and then there are all these allegations where he believes there's no there-there.

So the Russian salad dressing, yes, it was a joke, but I think it's illustrative of a larger point.

JACOBSON: Well, if I could just jump in real quick --

SESAY: Real quick.

JACOBSON: -- it looks like he's out of the loop, right. I mean last week, he said that the Nunes story where Nunes went to the White House to get briefed on whatever wiretapping went on and then went back to the White House, didn't pass the smell test. And now we're learning alternative facts.

[00:15:04] VAUSE: Ok. And on "alternative facts" -- we shall leave it. Dave and John --

SESAY: Gentlemen -- always a pleasure. Thank you.

JACOBSON: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks.

VAUSE: Well, the White House is warning it will block federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, towns and cities which protect immigrants and limit cooperation with immigration officials. On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to withhold federal funding to the cities which actually violate federal laws.

SESAY: Well, there are about 300 sanctuary cities and counties in the U.S. including New York, San Francisco, and right here in Los Angeles. It is not clear which cities will be targeted. But several leaders say they will stand firm against threats from the Trump administration.

VAUSE: Joining us here now in Los Angeles, trial attorney Arash Homampour for more on the legal implications of what we're looking --

ARASH HOMAMPOUR, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Hello.

VAUSE: Nice of you to come in.

HOMAMPOUR: Absolutely.

VAUSE: And squeezing in with our temporary accommodations here.

SESAY: Yes.

VAUSE: Ok, let's get to, you know, the legalities here. One of the biggest problems here for the Trump administration, is it just simply a matter that there's no legal definition out there of what a sanctuary city actually is?

HOMAMPOUR: Well, they defined it as any city or entity that willfully refuses to comply with federal immigration laws. And that really is just simply too vague for cities and states to understand. When are they going to lose valuable federal funding?

The city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this executive order. And as an attorney, whether, you know, Republican or Democrat, it's not even a close call. That executive order is unconstitutional on so many levels.

And we're not dealing with just legalities. The city of San Francisco pointed out that if they lose federal funding under this executive order, 10 percent of their budget, budget monies that they spend now and get reimbursement later, there will be catastrophic consequences to those most in need -- elderly, infirm will lose meals on wheels, will funding for housing.

They will have to lay off police officers. They'll lose funding for roads. They will have to lay off thousands of jobs. VAUSE: I believe that $1.2 billion, I think, is the grand total.

HOMAMPOUR: Correct.

SESAY: So there seems to be a lack of clarity here in the process. I mean where do we stand in understanding what would trigger the government going ahead to deny or strip a city of money?

HOMAMPOUR: That's the problem is that the city of San Francisco has pointed out. They have no real notice as to what the consequences are. Are they going to lose all funding? Are they going to lose a little bit of funding? What is a violation? Is it selective?

And so they're asking the court to enjoin this executive order because it's unconstitutionally vague. This really doesn't give cities and municipalities notice of what they're supposed to do.

VAUSE: And you mentioned San Francisco. It was the first city to begin legal action against this move by the federal government arguing that this order is not constitutional.

We heard from the Mayor Ed Lee today. He tweeted out, "San Francisco knows that sanctuary cities are safer, more productive, healthier places to live", which is pretty much the opposite of what Donald Trump, you know, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have been saying. So what's the reality?

HOMAMPOUR: Well, again, the premise behind Sessions' comments is that somehow the city or the local states are letting loose criminally violent, illegal, or undocumented aliens. That's simply not the case.

What the city is demonstrating is that if police stop, whether they're undocumented or not, someone who is engaged in a violent crime, they're going to detain that person and they'll go through the justice system.

All the city is saying is under the constitution, the federal government can't turn its local law enforcement into arms of the federal government when that local law enforcement has serious issues to deal with, involving violent crimes, drugs that aren't related to whether someone's documented or undocumented.

SESAY: So in the meantime, while they haven't automatically started this clawing back or denying of funds, the government has started publishing a weekly report on detainers. This is hundreds of cases of immigrants released from custody where they haven't cooperated with federal immigration authorities. What's the impact of doing something like that?

HOMAMPOUR: Well, just putting out a small number of statistics doesn't necessarily mean anything in the bigger context. You know, local agencies arrest thousands and thousands of people for violent crimes and drug activities and just saying, you know, here are a number of people that weren't pursued that are, you know, that are undocumented. It doesn't prove the point that undocumented individuals are more prone to engage in violent crimes. There's simply no statistics to support that.

And when you look at the executive order just like the other orders, the court's going to have to look at whether there's evidentiary support for this and there simply isn't.

VAUSE: Ok. It's sounding like it's heading in the direction of the travel ban.

SESAY: Yes. The travel ban.

HOMAMPOUR: Yes.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, we'll see what happens.

Arash -- thanks so much for coming in.

SESAY: Thank you.

HOMAMPOUR: My pleasure.

VAUSE: We appreciate you being here with your analysis.

And we'll take a short break. When we come back, more than 20 million people in Africa are at risk of starving to death. But the U.N. says the world must do to stop the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

[00:20:01] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello everyone.

The United Nations says more than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria could starve to death if the world doesn't step up with money and action.

VAUSE: This could be the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was created. Famine has already endangered more than five million people in South Sudan alone. Nearly 100,000 others in the nation, more than 40 percent of the population are on the brink of starvation.

SESAY: For more, we're joined by the Lex Kassenberg. He's the emergency director of CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Lex -- thank you so much for joining us.

When you look at the hunger crises in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, how much of this is man-made?

LEX KASSENBERG, EMERGENCY AND HUMANITARIAN DIRECTOR OF CARE: Well, it's a combination, Isha.

In all these countries there is a humanitarian conflict ongoing -- different parties fighting with each other. And that is a major factor in the challenges that we're facing and the famine situation that a lot of people are facing now. But obviously climate change is playing a role as well, in terms of the drought that's going on, and economic factors.

SESAY: This has been a slow-moving catastrophe, though. And the question must be asked, could more have been done by the international humanitarian community to prevent such widespread suffering? How do you see it?

KASSENBERG: Well, I think that the international community in general has tried to reach out earlier than in the past, learning from the lessons that we had earlier in 2011, the drought in Somalia, for example where it was very clear that the earlier that we intervene, the more chance we have that we can actually prevent a famine.

The challenge though is getting the funding together. And just to give an example, the U.N. has estimated that they need $4.4 billion to deal with all the crises that are taking place now, and particularly these four countries.

They have total money received of about $90 million, that's 20 percent, one-fifth of the total requirement. So there's a big challenge on the side of the donors to come up with the money that will enable us to actually help all these people who are in desperate need.

SESAY: Let me pick up the issue of funding. Why do you think the response has been so poor to the U.N.'s call?

[00:25:00] I mean to be clear, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien recently told the Security Council that without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death, and many more will suffer and die from disease.

KASSENBERG: Yes.

SESAY: Given that stark warning why are they such a long way off?

KASSENBERG: That's the question that we are asking ourselves as well. We're doing a lot of advocacy with the people here in the United States and trying to bring that message out, how important it is to provide these resources to enable us to intervene in a timely manner.

I'm not sure if there is donor fatigue in getting this money out. I mean, also keep in mind that there are a lot of crises going on. It's a very unusual time at the moment. It's unprecedented that you have four of these major crises going on in the world, and that is not even mentioning all of the other hot spots that international agencies, the U.N., and organizations like CARE are trying to deal with.

SESAY: Yes. Lex, I must ask you about the Trump administration and the budget proposal they put out recently, in which they've proposed drastic cuts to foreign aid. And really with that, risk pulling the U.S. from its role as the world's top emergency donor. What would that mean for this crisis if indeed those cuts were put in place? What would that mean for the response? KASSENBERG: Well, you have four major, major fires going on, if I can

describe it this way. And what the U.S. government is doing now is they're turning off the fire hydrants. So instead of helping and increasing the support so that we can actually deal with these crises, they turn off the money tap and that makes it officially a lot more problematic for us to deal with the issues and the challenges on the ground.

But I would like to highlight in this regard, is that it's evident and proven over the years, that a timely response, you know, with one dollar, you can very often keep people out of a situation of famine, or you know, serious malnutrition.

If you leave it for too long, it costs a lot more money to get people back into their normal life because they have to dig into their coping mechanism and at the point there is nothing left. And then you have to completely build up their lives again.

And that is something that is happening now in Somalia, for example, where a lot of people, a lot of families have lost all their livestock, their camels, their goats, their cows. So what are you going to do to get them back to a normal life again once this crisis is over? That's very, very expensive. So it's better to invest now before it's really too late.

SESAY: Well, Lex, we certainly hope that the world hears your call and pays heed to the long-term impact of this crisis. There are millions of people suffering and in need of support.

Lex Kassenberg -- thank you for all the work you do and thank you for giving us some insight into conditions on the ground right now, and the work CARE is doing. Thank you.

KASSENBERG: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, five people have been arrested in India after a series of mob attacks on Nigerians. According to local media reports, the Nigerian students were beaten inside a shopping mall near New Delhi.

SESAY: And the fatal drug overdose of a local teenager is reportedly the motive for the attack. Victims' parents say the Nigerian student provided the drugs. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on African nationals in and around Delhi.

VAUSE: We will take a short break.

When we come back, the fight against ISIS raging on in Western Mosul despite more than a hundred civilian casualties.

We'll tell you what the top U.S. commander in Iraq says about the deadly airstrike.

Also this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sounds of battle are still all around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: CNN's Arwa Damon takes us on a tour of the besieged city, and explains why the people who still live there can't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. In just a few hours from now, the British prime minister is expected to officially kick off negotiations to leave the European Union. Theresa May has signed a letter to trigger Article 50, that means in two years, the UK will no longer be part of the union, deal or no deal.

VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump says there will be an agreement on a health care plan despite the major defeat on his promise to repeal Obamacare. He told a bipartisan group of senators, a deal will be, quote, "such an easy one." Republicans disagree on what benefits to offer and how to cut costs.

SESAY: The White House said Trump's son-in-law was just doing his job when he met with a Russian banker in December. Jared Kushner has offered to answer questions from the Senate Committee about the meeting. The banker is a close associate of Vladimir Putin and the bank is under U.S. sanctions.

VAUSE: Do you want to get that?

The remnants of Australia's most powerful storm in years still lashing north-eastern parts of the country. Cyclone Debbie was downgraded to a tropical low, but authorities are still warning of heavy rain and powerful winds. Debbie knocked out electricity. 68,000 homes and businesses are without power.

SESAY: Well, the top U.S. commander in Iraq says there's a fair chance a U.S. air strike in Western Mosul killed civilians. More than 100 bodies had been pulled from the rubble. Families have been burying their loved ones amid the investigation into claims of civilian casualties. The U.S. has sent experts to the site.

VAUSE: The U.S. commander said ISIS was fighting from inside the building. Investigators believe the terror group used civilians as human shields, maybe even lured the U.S. into deliberately carrying out the strike.

Well, despite the civilian casualties, the fight for Western Mosul pushes on, and the people who still live there are facing a miserable existence.

CNN's Arwa Damon traveled to that part of the city to take a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): The destruction here in Western Mosul appears to be significantly more vast and widespread than it was in the eastern side. And you also see that there are a lot of these really narrow alleyways that winded deeper into the neighborhoods. And this is one of the main challenges that the security forces are facing.

[00:35:00] You barely see any civilians, but you do see traces of the life that was. Of how bustling these particular areas would have normally been. And part of the challenge when it comes to trying to protect the civilian population is that even though the Iraqi government did, yes, encourage people to stay put in their homes, even if they wanted to leave, they wouldn't have been able to, because ISIS would not allow them to leave these neighborhoods. ISIS was holding everyone that lived across this entire city as human shields.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DAMON: He's saying that ISIS as the forces were coming through really began to decrease its presence. So at least this family felt that they could stay.

That's the only reason why they couldn't go, obviously, because it's very difficult for them to try to flee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DAMON: The day before this area was liberated, ISIS took her husband away. They had no food left and he went out to buy food, to try to get them some food and ISIS took him away.

She's still here because she's waiting for her husband. She's the little girl's uncle to come back. And now she's just hoping that somehow he's going to return home.

There are people here who are trying to get information as to which route may or may not be safe and where there are possible sniper positions. The sounds of battle are still all around and just in being in this one small part of Western Mosul, one begins to get a little bit of appreciation for the intensity of the battle, just how terrifying it must have been for those civilians that were stuck here amidst all of this, and just how phenomenally massive the task of eventually rebuilding this city is going to be.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Arwa Damon there. Time for a quick break.

Samsung is hours away from launching its new smartphone, the Galaxy S8. Up next, we'll see how the company is hoping to put its fiery past behind it.

VAUSE: Also, Iceland's baby boom. Nine months after Iceland's historic showing at the Euro 26 football tournament, do the math. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:40:00] VAUSE: Well, the Galaxy Note 7 was meant to be Samsung's flagship smartphone, but instead it was prone to bursting into flames, and it all ended with a huge, global recall.

SESAY: The company is hoping for better results with its new model, the S8. Here's CNN's Samuel Burke.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Gazing in to the Magic 8 Ball, who could have predicted the challenges for Samsung as it launches the new S-8? Samsung needs a picture-perfect debut to close the chapter on one of the most disastrous product launches in tech history. The complete recall of the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7.

Is the outlook good for Samsung? Or should we concentrate and ask again later.

PETER SHANKMAN, ENTREPRENEUR, MARKETING CONSULTANT: Samsung needs to come out in a level of full force that says, we are fine, everything is great, this is not a problem. If they have even so much as one issue with that phone that gets made public, they're over.

BURKE (voice-over): Samsung was riding high when it launched the Note 7 back in August. Reviews were rapturous. But almost immediately reports began surfacing of phones heating up and bursting into flames.

MAX WOLFF, MARKET STRATEGIST, 5S CAPITAL: They end up costing them $6 billion in misadventure. Probably the worst part is they released it, they got into trouble, they recalled it. They said it was fixed. They got into trouble again.

BURKE: Samsung says the fires were not the fault of its hardware or software but rather the batteries made by outside suppliers, which have never publicly acknowledged responsibility. The uncertainty has cost Samsung badly.

Apple's smartphone shipments have outpaced Samsung for the first time in years.

Artificial intelligence is one way for Samsung to fight back. The S-8 has a virtual assistant called Bixby, which will compete with apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One tablespoon equals three teaspoon.

WOLFF: We think the personal voice activated systems are huge. AI is going to be the definitive feature. Probably what cameras once were.

BURKE: Samsung has another thing going for it, brand loyalty and fierce allegiance of Android customers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consumers are very forgiving in product failures as long as the next product is really better. If you're a fan of the Android operating system, you're going to go back to Samsung because Samsung is the leading maker of Android-based smartphones.

BURKE (on-camera): Samsung also doesn't want to get behind the eight ball in its battle with Apple, which is set to release the iPhone 8 later this year. Will the tech world watch the battle of the 8s closely? You may rely on it. Samuel Burke, CNN Money, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: OK, Iceland is experiencing a baby boom and the country's football team may be the reason. Well, not them actually themselves, but their success. Because nine months ago, Iceland upset England, 2- 1, in the Euro 26 tournament. 30,000 Icelanders, only 10 percent of the country's population went to France to see the game. A lot were watching back home.

SESAY: So fast forward to today and the local newspaper reveals doctors and ministers, a record number of epidurals in Icelandic hospitals this past weekend. That is a common treatment for pain during childbirth. Apparently great celebrations turn into greater populations. So, yes, there.

VAUSE: Mystery solved.

SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next, and then we'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world, including special coverage of the Brexit. You're watching CNN.

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