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Tropical Storm Barry Will Test New Orleans Levee System; U.S. vice President Tours Detention Centers in Texas; U.S. Labor Secretary Resigns over Epstein Scandal; Hong Kong Protests; U.K. and U.S. Discuss Persian Gulf Military Presence; Wimbledon 2019. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 05:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

Tropical storm Barry spinning off the Gulf Coast as it makes landfall, it could well be a hurricane. Over a foot of rain is possible in some areas with winds holding at 65 miles per hour and a storm surge rising as high as six feet. Some highways are already swamped and tens of thousands of customers have already lost power.

PAUL: Louisiana is really getting ready here. They're closing all of the floodgates, all of them, as the mayor of New Orleans calls for voluntary evacuations. Federal emergency preparedness officials are warning there are possible tornadoes as this storm passes. Mississippi's governor has joined Louisiana's in declaring a state of emergency already.


PAUL: We do have a team of reporters out ahead of the storm as well. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman live in New Orleans, CNN correspondent Natasha Chen live in Morgan City, Louisiana.

Good morning to both of you.

I want to start with you, Natasha.

What are you experiencing right now?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are expecting to see this hurricane make landfall just west of us later this morning. We are already feeling the rain bands and heavier gusts of wind. Right now --


CHEN: -- we know that certain parts of town seem to have lost power. I talked to some residents who said that they were gathering at hotels or places they could see where the lights are still on because their generators back at home may or may not be working at the moment.

We are preparing for the worst yet to come. Right now, the mayor is most concerned about the flooding not so much about the wind gusts. But as you all were just discussing, this is about how fast and how much the city's pumps can handle.

They have seven pumps right now in Morgan City. That's after they brought in extra yesterday. They're expecting about 10 to 20 inches over the course of three days. As long as that comes in waves, as long as there are breaks between the heavier bands of rain, they have a fighting chance to be able to pump this out.

But if those 10 to 20 inches come all at once, they're going to be in trouble.

PAUL: All right, Natasha, take good care of yourself there. We can hear the wind kicking up as she's there.

SAVIDGE: Joining us from New Orleans, CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman.

Gary, you've been through many of these before but New Orleans is a very special place with a history that haunts many people when weather turns like this, right?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Martin. For generations New Orleans, Louisiana, has been scarred by hurricanes and tropical storms. As much as 14 summers ago, a horrible time period here in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came through, killing hundreds.

Tropical storm Barry or maybe hurricane Barry in a couple of hours is no Hurricane Katrina, let's attest to that. But the dangers are unknown at this point. We stand right now in the French Quarter, where all the tourists come when they come to New Orleans. This is Jackson Square. Behind me is the Mississippi River.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina, where you had massive levee failures that led to disaster, the concern is that the levels of the Mississippi River can rise too high from the rains that are starting to come now, will continue to come throughout the day.

The flood walls along the Mississippi River could hold 20 feet of water. Because of flooding over the past weeks and months, the Mississippi River currently is at 16.5 feet, a very high level. The thought was just as recently as yesterday that it could go to 19.5, close to 20 feet.

Right now, the past couple of hours, we've gotten the latest report that the feeling is the levels won't go as high as they thought not because there's not going to be a lot of rain, there is, but that it will be spread out over a long period of time. The thought is the levels may not go over 17.5 feet which is very good news. Talking about the floodgates, I'm on top of a flood wall. I will walk

gingerly to one of the floodgates to give you a look at what the gates look like. This here is a floodgate. It was shut last night. This area of Jackson Square, you can no longer go out. There's no one out here. They want everybody to be careful, to be away from the water.

Water-pumping plants are open near Lake Pontchartrain to pump the water back into Lake Pontchartrain, back into the Gulf of Mexico ultimately. And also levees have been improved since Hurricane Katrina hit. The levees are much stronger.

That is what I mentioned at the beginning, the massive failures, literally levees split apart, one chunk on the 17th Street canal, one of the largest canals in New Orleans, a 450-foot piece of wall split off.

The water plunged through and that helped contribute to the hundreds of deaths here in New Orleans. New Orleans, Louisiana, is very lively and crowded every night. It was just a Friday night. It's still Friday to some people. But it was very quiet as everyone awaits the arrival of Barry. Martin, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Gary, real quick, the mayor there of New Orleans put out an order basically for people to shelter in place; in other words, not to evacuate.

Did that cause any controversy there?

TUCHMAN: Right. There was no practical way to tell people to evacuate and get out because it was so quick that the warnings came. It hasn't caused any controversy. Some people have left but most have sheltered in place, they have been told this is not going to be the huge wind event that Katrina or other hurricanes are.

Most people are not panicking. They're certainly concerned because of what happened 14 years ago but everyone is being very wary, very careful but feel ultimately and the city is telling them it's likely they'll end up being safe, too, and that's what we hope.

PAUL: You know, Gary, Ryan Young spoke with someone in the Ninth Ward yesterday who said they would only leave if God told them to do so. In other words, they weren't taking this storm particularly seriously.

Listening to what Allison just said, that the strongest bands, this is kind of a storm that's in reverse as we know from a conventional either hurricane or tropical storm, usually the northeast bands are the ones that are the strongest. She's saying according to what they know --


PAUL: -- the south bands are going to be the most potent.

Is there concern there that people will get complacent, that they will think, OK, it's passed, there's nothing left to worry about? TUCHMAN: There's certainly the possibility that people could get complacent because this is going to last for a long time. But because of CNN, because of the local TV stations, because of all the media coverage, because of Twitter, because of Facebook, everyone knows what's going on.

There's no one we talked to who isn't aware that this is not going to be the wind event of other hurricanes but it is going to be a massive rain event. They have to be careful and they have the history here to know they have to be careful. Very little complacency is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana.

SAVIDGE: All right. You be careful, too, Gary. We'll check back with you regularly. Thank you so much.

PAUL: You and the crew, take good care there.

Listen, hundreds of people are in the streets protesting President Trump's upcoming migrant raids. Look at this picture out of Colorado. How one mother is planning to stay hidden when ICE comes to her city tomorrow.




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: We're getting a look at conditions inside some of the migrant detention centers in Texas.

ALLEN: One facility for single adults shows men cramped together in rooms. You can see them behind the fencing. Border Patrol says these migrants are sleeping on floors because there is not enough room for all the cots needed.

HOWELL: The men say they didn't have access to showers and weren't able to brush their teeth and describe the conditions overall as inhumane. Take a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 45 days, no shower?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 45 days no shower?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 45 days. Ask everyone.

That's what I'm saying. We are not a terrorist. We are not a terrorist. Ask everyone.




HOWELL: Border Patrol says these men do have access to showers and toothbrushes. We're told a trailer with eight showers arrived on Thursday. We are also getting this look because the U.S. vice president --


HOWELL: -- toured the facility on Friday. Mr. Pence saying he did not have the opportunity to speak directly with the migrants there.

ALLEN: But he did talk to some with some people at the facility he visited. It houses children and families and appeared far less crowded. CNN's Pamela Brown was there. She asked the vice president about the discrepancy between these two centers.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You went to two different facilities today and there seemed to be a big difference between the first one, where the families were being housed, and the one here, where there are single adult migrants.

When I went in there, one of them said to me, I'm talking about the second facility, this isn't human, the way we're treated. There was a horrible smell, I'm sure you smelled it. You were in there as well.

They were sleeping on concrete because there is not enough room for cots we're told. It was hot. Some of them claim that they were hungry.

Is that acceptable to you?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it is not. And it is the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection.

Look, for the last six months, Democrats in Congress have been saying that this is a manufactured crisis. But as you saw firsthand today, here at McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing and how that temporary facility that you just saw had to be established.

And then the first facility that we saw, where nearly 1,000 families with children are being detained, ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act, to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border, is now.

BROWN: Should there be a different level of care for the families versus the adult migrants, single adult migrants? PENCE: I think it is all the same standard of care --

BROWN: But what we saw today was very different for the families versus the single --

PENCE: -- well, what you saw today was a very clean facility, where people were being detained indoors and then you saw a temporary facility that was constructed because this facility is overcrowded. And we can't keep people in a cell beyond what the rules and regulations allow for.

But everyone even in that temporary facility, Pamela, is getting three meals a day, they are getting health care, they're getting hygiene. And the Customs and Border Protection is doing their level best in an overcrowded environment and a difficult environment to address this issue.

But Congress has got to act to make it possible for us to reduce the numbers of people coming into our country illegally. And that will require us to change the loopholes, reform our asylum laws. And my hope is today --


PENCE: -- I hope two things today, Pamela. I hope first and foremost, that we put to the lie this slander against Customs and Border Protection. People saying that families and children are being held in concentration camps is an outrage.

And the Nazis killed people. Our Customs and Border Protection, as you heard today, are saving lives every day. And you saw the profound, compassionate care for those families and children in the detention facility today.

But the other thing is, I hope we also move past this rhetoric about a manufactured crisis. I mean, the president wanted me to come down here today to look in on how families are treated but also to be able to show the American people that this system is overwhelmed, it is overcrowded and Congress has got to step up to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border.

BROWN: The first facility we went to with the families, was that really a fair representation of how most of the migrant families have been treated under CBP care?

PENCE: You are at the epicenter here in the Rio Grande Valley of this crisis of illegal immigration; 60 percent of those being detained coming across our southern border are coming through this sector. So I think what we saw today was a very fair representation of how families are being treated.


BROWN: -- this was one of them --

PENCE: I understand America's in trouble -- BROWN: -- made to handle the overcrowding.

PENCE: Americans are troubled by what they have read in the newspapers --


BROWN: All you have to do is look at pictures like this.

When you look at that, what do you see?

PENCE: Well, I can't account for that. What I can account for is that --

BROWN: But you're the vice president.

How can you not account for this?

PENCE: It is a facility that you saw today represents the level and the standard of care that we are working to bring to all those caught up in this crisis.


ALLEN: The vice president's trip to the border comes as immigration raids are set to begin in the United States on Sunday.

HOWELL: They are expected to take place in at least 10 different cities in the United States. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, several others. Some mayors have spoken out against the raids and are encouraging immigrants to know their rights. President Trump says the raids are focused mainly on criminals.


TRUMP: They're going to take people out. And they're going to bring them back to their countries, or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from.

We're focused on criminals as much as we can.


ALLEN: At the same White House event, Mr. Trump also confirmed his Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is resigning.

HOWELL: Acosta had come under scrutiny for the way he handled a 2008 case with financier Jeffrey Epstein. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more on that.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day at the White House began with an exit.

TRUMP: Alex called me this morning and he wanted to see me.

COLLINS: As Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced he will resign amid intense scrutiny over the role he played in Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal 11 years ago that helped him avoid federal charges.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus.

COLLINS: With Acosta by his side, President Trump insisted the decision was Acosta's.

TRUMP: This was him, not me, because I'm with him.

COLLINS: But the writing was on the wall Thursday night, when CNN first reported Trump had grown skeptical that Acosta's press conference would calm the waters.

ACOSTA: Today's world treats victims very, very differently.

COLLINS: Sources said the president went from praising Acosta privately to questioning why the victims were never notified about the plea deal.

Yet, today, he insisted otherwise.

TRUMP: I thought Alex did a great job.

COLLINS: For Trump, Acosta's resignation comes as a relief amid renewed scrutiny over his own relationship with Epstein, though, today, he said it wasn't a distraction.

TRUMP: Well, Alex believed that. I'm willing to live with anything.


COLLINS: The departure leaves the president with another acting secretary in his Cabinet.

TRUMP: We have -- as everybody knows, we have Pat Pizzella, who right now is a deputy and he will be acting for a period of time.

COLLINS: The acting labor secretary will be in good company because the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and multiple other federal agencies are all run by acting heads.

While experts say permanent Cabinet secretaries provide more stability, the president prefers it his way, without the confirmation hearings.

TRUMP: I sort of like acting. Gives me more flexibility.

COLLINS: Critics have also noted that outgoing Labor Secretary Acosta was the only Hispanic in the president's Cabinet, a detail Trump noted today. TRUMP: He was a great student at Harvard. He's Hispanic, which I -- which I so admire, because maybe it was a little tougher for him and maybe not.

COLLINS: Now, of course, with Alex Acosta's departure, there is going to be a renewed focus on just how many officials in the president's cabinet and throughout the government are in an acting capacity, something that will certainly be highlighted next week when the president holds his next cabinet meeting here at the White House -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: Let's talk about the developments with Natasha Lindstaedt. She is a professor of government at the University of Essex and she joins us from England.

Thanks for being with us.


ALLEN: Sure thing. Secretary Acosta now one of nine cabinet secretaries who have left due to a scandal or a problem with the president.

What do you make of this departure?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, he should have resigned. He was being accused of getting Epstein a very, very lenient deal, not a federal crime and only 13 months in jail. Everything was sealed. He was also accused of violating a crime victims rights act by not informing the victims of the deal that was in place.

This needed to happen. But this is just another case of someone who Trump appoints being connected to some sort of scandal or sex crime or abuse of power, all different types of corruption that plague this administration.

We see there are several problems. One is that they are connected to all of the things I just mentioned. Also the government seems to be poorly run in that there is such high turnover. The Brookings Institute noted that, of high senior level positions, there has been 74 percent turnover in the Trump administration.

This is far more than eight years under George W. Bush and eight years under Obama. You noted the turnover in the cabinet with only four of 11 people actually acting. There has been a turnover of almost everybody from the attorney general to the secretary of state.

There is also high level turnover of his close security advisers and information advisers. So what we are seeing with the administration is it seems chaotic.

ALLEN: Brookings also said in the report it is 52 members of the president's team -- there it is -- that either resigned or forced out or fired. That is a record for a first-time president. It truly reflects negatively on his presidency and the job that he is able to do. Yet, we saw the same pattern, Natasha, with Acosta.

One of his cabinet members is embattled. He stands behind him or her. They're great, they're great. Then they're gone.

LINDSTAEDT: Exactly. He is affecting high level appointments in other countries with the ambassador to the U.K. from the U.S. resigning. It stems around the chaos that Trump sows. Trump said I like it when they are acting. It gives me more flexibility. But government doesn't run well that way when everybody is acting or in limbo or saddled with insecurity.

That is actually how very poorly run, dysfunctional democracies and authoritarian regimes run, where everybody is uncertain of their job from one day to the next and someone could shift positions and you don't know what's going to happen.

That provides no certainty. It is actually not good for the economy and not good for national security. I think Trump fails to see that this has a very big impact on the U.S.

ALLEN: To me, that comment he made about it's great to have acting people. It was just a flippant way to say everything's fine. Don't worry.

Let's move on to the vice president. He went to the border. He condemned conditions. Saw it for himself. But he again blamed Democrats in Congress who said this was a manufactured crisis.

What do you think about that?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think most Democrats --


LINDSTAEDT: -- would disagree with that because they would say it is the Republicans that manufactured the crisis and namely Trump with the deterrent policy that was so inhumane.

There have been more families emigrating from Central America to the U.S. than ever before. That means you would need to provide more money at the border facilities and not separate families and provide them with access adequate health care and food and sanitation and showers and laundry facilities.

They are not doing any of this. Instead, they are trying to invest more in a wall and finally he approved $4 billion. That is not really going to do it. They need to see the immigration crisis was because he decided to separate people and also because he refused to allow children of migrants coming from Central America to apply from home.

That also made the crisis much worse. So I think that while on the one hand it was good that Mike Pence actually went to visit the border facilities and see it first-hand, placing blame on the Democrats doesn't make sense in this particular instance.

ALLEN: We always appreciate your insights. Natasha, thank you. LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: For those eager to hear Robert Mueller questioned about his report on the Russia investigation, you have to wait another week.

ALLEN: The former special counsel's public testimony is pushed back to July 24th. House Democrats say the delay will allow Mueller more time to speak. He will be asked about Russian election interference and allegations that President Trump may have obstructed justice.

HOWELL: As you saw at the top of the show, we are following what is happening in the city of New Orleans. Facing one of the biggest flood threats it has seen in years. Coming up, we will get the latest on what is happening with tropical storm Barry.

ALLEN: Also protests in Hong Kong. This time with a message for shoppers and tourists from Mainland China. We will have a live report.





HOWELL: Welcome back. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.


HOWELL: The impact from the storm is already being felt across the area. We understand from utility companies, a report says more than 48,000 homes and businesses have already lost power.



ALLEN: We turn to Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protesters kicking off a weekend of demonstrations there. They are gathering in a border town to raise awareness on Hong Kong's political situation with people from Mainland China.

HOWELL: You remember through June and well into July the huge crowds of people marched over now shelved attempts to pass a law that would allow extradition to Mainland China. Our Matt Rivers is covering this. Matt is live in Hong Kong.

Matt, what is it like today?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, George and Natalie, this is a protest that is significantly, by many, many times, smaller than what we have seen in terms of the protests over the last two months or so.

Where we are is a border town as you mentioned in the northern part of Hong Kong right near Mainland China. What is happening is a protest centered on a more localized issue.

What happens is people are coming out to protest parallel trading. People from Mainland China will come in and buy things at a lower rate in Hong Kong, certain items that are more expensive and valued in the mainland. They come here and buy it and bring it back and sell it for a profit in Mainland China.

That said, people here say it affects their quality of life, property prices and prices of food. The protesters here are saying while it may seem like a localized issue and it is, it is another example of what they would say is the Hong Kong government's inability to govern effectively and protect the rights of the people by not solving the problems that exist with the parallel trading system.

They say the Hong Kong government is failing to meet its duty to stand up for the rights of Hong Kong people. This comes at the same time as we see protest after protest after protest talking about the extradition bill and encroachment of Mainland China on the democratic style freedoms that exist in Hong Kong.

So this is a smaller protest but is yet another one as the momentum continues for protests against the government in Hong Kong.

HOWELL: Matt pointing out the distinction. The rift between Mainland China and Hong Kong on display, not going away anytime soon. Matt Rivers live, thank you.

ALLEN: British officials say they want to protect their tankers from another Iranian confrontation. They hope the latest move in the Persian Gulf can do that. We have the details.

HOWELL: And Turkey riles NATO allies by purchasing Russian arms, running the risk of fresh U.S. sanctions.





ALLEN: The United Kingdom is taking steps to avoid another dispute with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

HOWELL: They sent a warship to protect their vessels in the region and raised the threat level for British tankers sailing through the waters. CNN's Nic Robertson has this.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The threat level going to its highest level for British shipping in the Gulf, going to critical level 3. This means that the vessels will have to take additional security, procedures and perhaps change their routing.

At the same time the British Royal Navy is sending in a destroyer, the H.M.S. Duncan. This vessel will replace the frigate, the H.M.S. Montrose, which was the vessel that aimed its guns at those Iranian fastboats that tried interdict a British flagged tanker in the Gulf earlier in the week.

So this is a switchout, according to the British MOD of these two vessels. Of course, everyone watching to see how long that switchover takes.

Will the Navy keep both vessels in the region for a period of time?

But what we're hearing from the foreign office, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt being very clear, saying that this is a time for cooler heads.


JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: None of us are looking for a conflict. And we all have a responsibility to protect shipping. So this is a time for cool heads. I'm being briefed on an hourly basis as to what is going on.

And we want to do everything we can to make sure that we don't have an unintended escalation, which could be very dangerous for the world.


ROBERTSON: Iranian officials deny completely that they interfered with that British tanker earlier in the week. They are demanding the release of the Grace 1. That's a supertanker that's currently being held by Gibraltarian authorities. The Gibraltarians says it had 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil on board. They're charging or at least arresting the captain and the first officer, accusing them essentially of breaking sanctions and trying to get the oil to Syria.

The Gibraltarians saying in a statement on Friday that this is all about where the oil was going, not about where the oil came from.

And the Iranians are saying to the British that they're now entering or starting a dangerous game with no indication of an end. President Trump also is warning the Iranians of the dangers of what they're doing.


TRUMP: Iran better be careful. They're treading on very dangerous territory.

Iran, if you're listening, you'd better be careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTSON: And the British prime minister's office here in London saying that there are currently ongoing discussions between the United Kingdom and the United States about increasing security in the Persian Gulf. At the moment, there appears to be no off-ramp in the escalating tension there -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HOWELL: While tensions continue to rise in the Gulf, Turkey has made a move that's riling its NATO allies.

ALLEN: It has received shipments of a key Russian missile defense system. The first batch of the S-400 surface-to-air system landed in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Friday and another shipment arrived within last few hours. More are expected to follow.

HOWELL: Washington has warned NATO allies not to purchase, quote, "weapons from our adversaries." Our Jomana Karadsheh reports.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian military cargo jets touched down --


KARADSHEH: -- in the Turkish capital Friday to deliver the first batch of the Russian made S-400 missile defense system. With it a major blow to Turkey's already shaky relationship with its NATO ally, America.

There was nothing secret about the S-400 arrival. Pictures were broadcast on Turkish media as the defense ministry flaunted its new acquisition. For months, the U.S. has been pressuring Ankara to cancel its agreement with Russia.

U.S. officials say it is a serious security issue for them. With Turkey a member of the F-35 fighter jet program, they are concerned that Russia could use the S-400 to gather data on the stealth fighter jet.

Not only turkey is awaiting delivery of about 100 F-35s, it also manufactures 900 parts of the jet. The threat of expulsion from the F-35 program and severe consequences, including economic sanctions that will hurt the country's fragile economy, did not deter Turkey.

Officials say this is about sovereignty and Turkey's right to defend itself. Officials have also blamed the U.S. for hampering Turkey's efforts to purchase the American Patriot missile defense system. But mixed messages from the United States may have also emboldened the Turkish president.

TRUMP: He wanted to buy the Patriot missile. President Obama's group said no. He kept wanting to buy it. They kept saying no, no, no. Couldn't buy it. Now he needed it for defense. He needed it. So he then went to Russia. So it is a mess. It's a mess. And honestly, it is not really Erdogan's fault.

KARADSHEH: The two allies have been on a collision course for years with a long list of disagreements, including the U.S. backing of the Syrian Kurdish forces, considered terrorists by Ankara. But with the delivery of the weapons system manufactured by the Americans' adversary comes a new and true test of Turkish-American relations -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: It is finals day for the women at Wimbledon, at least these two. Serena Williams will be chasing a record. We are live at the home of the world's oldest tennis tournament coming up next.






HOWELL: It is finals weekend at Wimbledon. Serena Williams is going for a record equaling 24 grand slam titles. When she faces former world number one Simona Halep in the next few hours. Halep knocked out American teen sensation Coco Gauff in the earlier rounds.

ALLEN: "WORLD SPORT's" Christina Macfarlane has the job of reporting on it.

Good morning.

Is this Serena's comeback moment?

She tried twice since having her daughter.

Is the third time the charm?

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Natalie, barring major catastrophe, we should see Serena Williams take her eighth Wimbledon title. I have been inside the grounds. The strawberries and champagne is flowing. There is a buzz in the air. We could witness history as well with Serena going for a record equaling 24th grand slam, a record which stood since 1975.

Everyone wants to be in the seats to watch that possible history unfold today. But there has been a question mark over Serena Williams coming into the fortnight. She has been injured this year.

Something has been happening in the last two weeks. She began to look and feel like the champion we know, the champion who has won seven titles at Wimbledon. She has grown confidence throughout the tournament. She played doubles with Andy Murray. It has given her more grass time. She is able to feel her way through the tournament. Now she was incredibly calm in the semifinals, dispatching her

opponent in 59 minutes. Everyone here in tennis knows, she is at her most dangerous when she is able to keep her emotions intact. The former world number one Simona Halep's day will be no pushover. The key for Serena is going to keep her composure, not thinking about that all-time record and keeping focus on the job at hand.

Up in the royal box is her good friend, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan, in attendance.

ALLEN: We know the crowd got fully behind the new world sensation Coco. One assumes they may be pulling for Serena here?

MACFARLANE: I would say so, only as I mentioned because everyone really wants to witness history today. Poor Simona Halep. On paper, it is against her. She has only beaten Serena once in the 10 times they played each other.

She is last year's French Open champion. But she has one grand slam compared to Serena's 23.

What chances does Halep have?

What she needs to do to push Serena is to run her around the court. Extend those rallies and tire her out is the best bet. Let's not forget there is emotion in the game for Simona Halep as well. She is a former world number one. She has a reputation of being inconsistent and a choker in the big moments.

She wants to prove she is not a one-shot wonder and she will be determined. I think we will have a contest on our hands. It will not be easy for Serena but keep an eye whether Serena can keep emotions in tact.

ALLEN: All right. The world will be watching I am sure. Christina covering it for us for CNN. We can't wait.

HOWELL: All right. Some of us may be ahead of others on this particular story. Scientists say humans are not the only species to dance. One case in point. Snowball the cockatoo.

ALLEN: I have been a fan of Snowball forever. His rhythmic --


ALLEN: -- routines are entertaining the Internet and teaches researchers about how complex a bird's brain is. He is one talented dude. Here is Lynda Kinkade.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Most birds fly. Some like to fish. But Snowball, the sulphur-crested cockatoo, loves to dance. "Another One Bites the Dust" is a favorite. Snowball lets loose with a series of head-banging, toe-tapping, wing-flapping sequences. And it's not all for show. Scientists have been studying Snowball's gestures for a decade. They say he actually has 14 routines.

One of which went viral in 2007, when he rocked out to the Backstreet Boys' song, "Everybody." Researchers say it's rare for a species, other than humans, to spontaneously move to music. They say the cockatoo's ability to imitate people and form long-term bonds may make them more inclined to dance than other creatures.

Snowball's owner says he can make up his own steps, which is maybe not so scientific proof, that some birds, just like girls, just want to have fun -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


HOWELL: I have never seen anything like that.

ALLEN: See? See?

You have got to watch YouTube Snowball dancing to "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis. It's the best.

HOWELL: Right after the show. I'm watching it.

ALLEN: Thanks for watching us. We're no match for Snowball but we appreciate you watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. We'll be back after this. "The Hidden Workforce: Undocumented America" is next. You're watching CNN.