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U.S. SEC Sues Binance And Coinbase; Interview With Actor, Cryptocurrency Skeptic, And "Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, And The Golden Age Of Fraud" Author Ben McKenzie; Regarding The Collapse Of Nova Kakhovka Dam, Kyiv And Moscow Trade Accusations; Collapse Of Nova Kakhovka Dam; Evacuations After Dam Collapse; Pope Francis To Undergo Surgery; Prince Harry Continues To Testify In Hacking Case; Northern U.S. Covered In Smoke From Canadian Fires; Golf's Shocking New Deal; The Vanishing Artic Sea Ice. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 08:00:00   ET



BEN MCKENZIE, ACTOR, CRYPTOCURRENCY SKEPTIC, AND AUTHOR, "EASY MONEY: CRYPTOCURRENCY, CASINO CAPITALISM, AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF FRAUD: I wish the mute button existed in real life. People can just scream at you. They have no idea you can't hear them.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN THIS MORNING CO-ANCHOR: I'm going to try that. Ben McKenzie --

MCKENZIE: Wouldn't it be nice?

HARLOW: -- thank you very much. And I should also note, Brian Armstrong, head of Coinbase, we'd love to have any of these folks join us on the program.


HARLOW: Have this dialogue with them. They're also welcome. You are always welcome, Ben

MATTINGLY: Thanks, man.

MCKENZIE: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thank you very much.

"CNN This Morning" continues right now.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hello and welcome to "CNN Newsroom". I'm Bianca Nobilo in London, in for Max Foster today.

Just ahead, hundreds flee Ukraine's Kherson region after a dam collapsed, raises fears of an environmental catastrophe. We'll bring you the view from the ground.

Then, a stunning partnership in the golf world has left many U.S. players blindsided. We'll take a closer look at Saudi Arabia's increasing influence in sports and what critics are calling a sportswashing.

And Pope Francis is admitted to the hospital for abdominal surgery. Details on his health in a moment.

Questions are mounting over what caused the collapse of a critical dam in Russian occupied southern Ukraine as the scope of the disaster mounts. Both Moscow and Kyiv are blaming each other for Tuesday's collapse. We're getting a closer look at the widespread devastation in the Kherson region.

Flooding in towns and cities downstream has forced more than 1,500 people to evacuate, according to Ukrainian officials. More than 1,900 homes are flooded. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, hundreds of thousands of people have been left without drinking water. A Russian appointed mayor told Russian state media at least seven people are missing. Ukrainian police say they have received reports of three people missing in the Kherson region.

CNN has not been able to establish what caused the dam to collapse and whether it was sabotaged or the result of some, sort of, structural failure. Either side is providing hard evidence to back-up their claims at this point.

Let's turn now to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He's in the Kherson region with a closer look at some of the widespread flooding and damage.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After the catastrophic destruction of Nova Kakhovka Dam, as you can see there still is a lot of water here in the City of Kherson. And one of the things that we've been really surprised about is how fast that water has been rising. In fact, just yesterday when we were here, we were, I'd say about 100, maybe 150 yards in that direction, but now that entire area is inundated. You can't go there anymore.

At the same time, the rescue efforts are ongoing to free people from their houses. People where the water rose so quickly, they couldn't get out. As you can see, police here, the army is here, they have some boats here and they've been trying to get the people out.

Now, this is an operation that was ongoing throughout the entire night, that's what the authorities were telling us, that they would not rest. But it's also one that was ongoing under nearly constant shelling. We were hearing that throughout the entire, we've been hearing it throughout the entire course of the day. Is that the shelling seems to be coming from multiple rocket launching systems but also from artillery as well.

And as you can see if you go over here, it's not only the people that are being saved from the buildings here but also a lot of animals as well. There's a lot of cats here in these cages. And one of the things that we're also seeing is the rescuers coming here and then they'll have a cat or two -- that they picked up from maybe a fence or maybe a rooftop. Obviously, a lot of those animals also very much in danger as are the people who are still caught in that area. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kherson Ukraine.


NOBILO: CNN's Clare Sebastian joins me now with developments on this story. Clare how does the global community go about trying to ascertain exactly what happened and confirm who is to blame?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's incredibly difficult. We know that, for example U.S. and U.K. intelligence services are now involved, according to the leaders of those countries. Part of it is because, obviously, the hydroelectric power plant and, you know, the eastern bank of Dnipro River are in Russian hands, they're just not going to able to get access. This is the front line in a war zone.

So, in some ways, I think there will be a reliance on the kinds of sources that we rely on, satellite imagery, open-source intelligence, and things like. And we are already seeing, you know, certain factors in this that will be part of this investigations. The water levels in the reservoir behind the dam itself, they were at record levels, the highest we've seen in decades, in the months before the dam was breached. They had gone down to extremely low levels in February of this year. So, that'll be something that is looked at.

Plus, we have satellite evidence of damage of the roadway, on top of the dam in the days leading up to the breach. We think that happened between June 1st and June 2nd according to satellite images. So, that will be something that's looked at, that was literally four days before the dam was breached.

But as for confirming this, given the climate of both sides, placing blame on each other, it is going to be an extremely lengthy and difficult process. I think people are starting to liken it in some ways to the Nord Stream Pipeline and the destruction of that. And that is something that is, you know, still being looked at months later.


NOBILO: It's a harsh and mercenary question to ask given the scale of the devastation but pertinent to what is happening here. Whose advantage does what's happening play into?

SEBASTIAN: Yes. I mean, I think, there are, obviously, for either party to do this would've taken a level of callousness and disregard in some ways for their own people. If you look at it from Russia's perspective, yes, it would complicate the Ukrainian effort to cross the Dnipro River, head towards Crimea, head towards the Azovstal Steel. Do what many suspect they might have been planning to do in this counteroffensive and try to cut Russia's, sort of, land bridge in half. It would certainly make that more complicated.

It also, sort of, fits a pattern that we've seen from Russia of attrition, of trying to inflict maximum suffering on the Ukrainian population and weaken their resolve. Case in point, is the fact that we continue our team in the ground. Fred and his producer continue to report incoming and outgoing water and rocket fire in Kherson even as this catastrophe unfolded on the Ukrainian side. It's probably a little more complicated, and especially as we see start to see the impact on agriculture, a huge part of their economy. Zelenskyy saying, hundreds and thousands now without drinking water. But we do know that Russia had significant military positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, possibly in those flood zone.

CNN Sam Kiley spoke to a Ukrainian commander who said he saw Russian troops, essentially, being washed away by this flood. The Russians out there is expected to suffer more because the ground is lower, then there's the issue of the Crimean water supply. So, look, there are potential motives on both sides. But as you have said, there is no hard evidence as of yet to point to either side.

NOBILO: Clare Sebastian, thank you.

Pope Francis is in a hospital in Rome where he'll undergo surgery in the coming hours. He'll have to stay there for the next several days as he recuperates from abdominal surgery. Doctors will repair a hernia that the Vatican says is causing pain and some other symptoms. A spokesman adds that Pope Francis should make a full recovery.

Barbie Nadeau joins us now from outside the hospital in Rome. Barbie, can you give us a little more specific sense of the timeline here and if there is a delegation of responsibilities that the pontiff is usually in charge of at times like this?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, yes. It's a fine oiled machine, the Vatican, when the pope is in the hospital or when he becomes debilitated. And he'll be under general anesthesia and so, of course, those wheels are in motion. But this is not exactly an emergency situation per se. He attended his weekly Wednesday audience this morning with a full capacity crowd.

Yesterday, he came to this hospital, for what we were told, were checks and maybe those checks were what led to the surgery today. But the surgery is nigh (ph). He didn't arrive in an ambulance, he arrived on his own free will. So, we know that this is not being seen as an emergency. It's being seen as something to put him in a bit more comfort.

This is a man who has suffered a barrage of health issues in the last couple of years. He had colon surgery, two years ago. He is mostly confined to a wheelchair. And he yet keeps a very, very busy travel schedule. He is expected to go in a -- first week of August to Portugal to attend the World Youth Day.

So, this very much could be seen as something preventative to get him into a more comfortable position. This is what the Vatican says to address recurrent painful and worsening symptoms related to this hernia, relayed to his colon surgery a couple of years ago.

But of course, an 86-year-old man going under surgery, if anyone has someone that old in our family, we have worried about it. So, a lot of people are concerned, the Catholics are praying, the Vatican is telling us though, they expect a full recovery. Pope Francis has a lot of energy and everyone's expecting him to maintain his positive attitude. Bianca.

NOBILO: Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thank you.

Britain's Prince Harry has resumed his testimony at London's high court against tabloids publishing Mirror Group newspapers which he accuses of using unlawful methods to gather information about him, including phone hacking. On Tuesday, he claimed that some tabloids have, "Blood on their hands." And while cameras were not allowed in court, British broadcaster "Sky News" used an actor to re-enact Harry's testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe, that again, as a child, every single one of these articles played an important role, a destructive role in my growing up.


NOBILO: Interesting approach. The broadcaster also questioned British journalist, Piers Morgan, a former editor of the tabloid, "The Daily Mirror", after Prince Harry criticized him in court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said your behavior was vile and unjustified. What do you think?

PIERS MORGAN, FORMER EDITOR OF "THE DAILY MIRROR": I didn't see it. But I wish him luck with his privacy campaign. Look forward to reading it in his next book.


NOBILO: Let's bring in CNN Anchor and Royal Correspondent Max Foster. Max, you and I have been discussing what's happening today a little bit. And to a large extent, it seems like a rehearsal of the arguments from yesterday. Any differences and how you'd characterize Harry's demeanor or responses?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think that -- I think that -- I mean, interesting idea is how the actor play Harry there. I'm watching the case and it doesn't actually come across in that, sort of, thoughtful way. He's actually speaking much more from the gut.


And it's much more natural, then I would say, the actor has portrayed him as. But as you say, it's a similar, sort of, theme. So, what we have is Harry saying he was deeply affected by all of these articles as a whole.

But the cross-examination, which has just finished, the lawyer constantly pressing him on each of these articles saying, do you remember reading them? He can't remember reading them for the first time, therefore he can question whether or not he was affected by them at this time. And then the lawyer is really going through each article, questioning the source. Things that Harry is suggesting that a lot of the sources came through phone hacking.

And the lawyer saying, no, it didn't come through phone hacking, it actually came through this royal source, for example, or a friend, or indeed from another newspaper publication. So, trying to undermine the legitimacy of these articles within the case, if you like.

And also, Bianca, some really embarrassing moments, really, because a lot of these are purely tabloid stories. So, an argument that Harry had with his girlfriend after going to a lap dancing club and having a lap dance from his lap. I mean, literally he's going down to that level and they're discussing about whether or not that story came from phone hacking, or from phone records, or indeed from one of the girlfriend's friends.

So, a lot of detail there. The cross-examination is over. Currently lawyer -- Harry's lawyer is now interviewing him. And then we'll hear, actually, from the journalists involved in these allegations.

NOBILO: A lot of details to stay cross over. Max Foster will have updates throughout the day on CNN. Thank you.

New York City's mayor is warning residents to limit their outdoor activities as smoke from Canadian wildfires blankets the northeastern U.S. One monitoring website reported on Tuesday that New York had the worst air quality of any major world city. You can see the smoky hazy skies over Yankee Stadium, Tuesday.

Let's get a check now with the situation with Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, it's so good to see you. What is the latest?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, Bianca, you talked about New York being the number one most polluted spot in the world, one of the most populated areas polluted. And you know, it was jostling back and forth between Delhi, India, one of the notoriously most polluted places in the world, consistently within the past 12 hours. Detroit, New York City, as well as Toronto, Canada, all within this top 10.

This is a live look at downtown Toronto, this is in Canada, and you can just see that smoke and haze filling the sky. Almost looks apocalyptic and very eerie in kind of a sense, right? But this is all thanks to the Canadian wildfires that are burning throughout Quebec. Ottawa has some of the worst air quality in the world right now with hazardous conditions being reported.

Also, we have very unhealthy to hazardous conditions blanketing many of the most populated areas within the eastern seaboard of the United States, the nation's capital, Baltimore, Philadelphia all the way to New York City, and you can see it from space. We were monitoring this yesterday, very closely, this is visible satellite imagery. You see that smoky, kind of brown hue moving across Lake Ontario, that is a wall of smoke from the fires to the north. You can clearly see the wind direction coming from the north moving to the south, pushing the smoke along with it, eventually impacting the eastern seaboard.

And guess what? There is more to come. We have code orange and code red for many locations along the eastern seaboard, over 15 million Americans under air quality alerts. This is reducing visibility and, obviously, having impacts on people's upper respiratory health. Bianca.

NOBILO: Derek Van Dam, thank you.

The number of Republicans hoping to challenge Joe Biden for the White House in 2024 just keeps on growing. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tossed his half on the ring on Tuesday. Christie was once a close ally of Donald Trump. But now, he says, Republicans must nominate someone else if they want to win. And he says, he is the only candidate willing to directly challenge the former president.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I watched a little bit of every candidate, not one of them mentioned his name. They would say cute little things like, we need new generational leadership.


NOBILO: In just a few hours, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is expected to announce his candidacy. Burgum is considered a long shot who is barely known to most voters. Donald Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, also joins the race on Wednesday just hours after he made his formal announcement, he will appear in a "CNN Town Hall" from the early voting state of Iowa.

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia where he met early with Saudi Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. According to a U.S. official, the two had open and candid discussions about a vast range of regional and bilateral issues. The meeting comes after recent strains over oil prices, human rights, and other issues.


British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has arrived in Washington for a key visit. He has meetings, Wednesday, with congressional leaders and will spend, Thursday, at the White House speaking to President Biden. The British prime minister says, he wants to make the U.S. and Britain as close economically as they are when it comes to defense and security.

After the break, a shocking move in the world of top-level golf raises questions about how much Saudi Arabia is willing to pay to reshape its image on the global stage. We will discuss.


NOBILO: Welcome back. What does the golf field say about Saudi Arabia's long-term strategy to reshape its global image? A massive and shocking deal is roiling the golf world and reinforcing how Saudi Arabia is seeking to reposition itself in the world as an international sports hub. The de facto leader, Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, is looking to execute a long-term vision that will modernize Saudi Arabia and diversify its economy.

On Tuesday, it was announced that U.S.-owned golf organization, the PGA tour, European division DP World Tour, and the breakaway circuit backed by Saudi Arabia LIV Golf, will form one commercial partnership. The deal ends a series of legal disputes.

CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan, called the deal a victory for Saudi Arabia.


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST AND SPORTS COMMUNIST USA TODAY: The PGA tour will now be in business with the people who killed and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi. They will be in business with the people responsible for 9/11. They will be part of sportswashing because LIV Golf and the Saudi investment fund and Mohammed bin Salman, Kate (ph), today, they are leaping for joy. They are dancing through the streets because they have won. They -- the PGA tour has caved to them.


NOBILO: CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joins me now from London. Nic, how has this deal and also the controversy, globally, about LIV Golf and the fact that it is tainted because of the regime being received in Saudi Arabia?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN'S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, perception in the royal court in Saudi Arabia is a success. That they've done what they wanted to do. That they wanted to be a major player on the sports scene, be it soccer, be it golf and golf is clearly catching everyone's eye right now just because of how this has gone down, the sort of contest between PGA and LIV has been very public and very acrimonious.

And to have this outcome right now seemingly to come out of the blue really does give a very clear indication that Saudi is committed and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is committed to going forward whatever the detractors say about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and his own record on that account.


That they are going to push forward and it's up to the others to catch up or to get out of the way. They're determined to be a major hub of sports, a major, you know, record -- to have their brand recognized for sports and tourism as well, they want to get into that. And in business, in general, they want to be seen as a country and a place for people to come and invest.

But I think there's another side of this sports as well. And that is that MBS, has essentially taken over what was a very conservative kingdom and he pushed the conservative religious to one side. And he brought in a sense of nationalism, and he brought sense of pride over national sports. And to a degree, he is building support or, if you will, something as simple as, you know, something for people to do in Saudi Arabia. Where there was nothing for young people, there's now the possibility to engage in sports and believe in these sports idols and be able to go see these sports idols.

He has the money to do it and he has the attitude to do it. And this is why he's seemed to be able to, sort of, muscle his way through with PGA.

NOBILO: As you mentioned, Nic, it's very much not just golf. There's football, F1, my favorite sport boxing. What do you think crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to achieve internationally as well as domestically? You've just been outlining with this focus on sport. What can be done?

ROBERTSON: You know, Saudi Arabia has bought the big interest, the Newcastle United soccer team. Turned its fortunes around, at the moment, it appears. He's sending a brand message, that Saudi Arabia is not a negative brand. That Saudi Arabia is a positive brand. And he believes that he just continues to try to send that message then eventually that will get through to investors.

And Saudi Arabia's belief is that, you know, despite President Biden saying that it would turn Saudi Arabia into a pariah, they didn't believe that and take it at face value. The relationship was worse than anticipated. But there are ground realities now and we see that in U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken's quite lengthy visit to Saudi Arabia right now. That people, even the leader of the most powerful nation in the world is having to change course and direction a little, and it's because of the image that Saudi Arabia is projecting.

And the reality that it's projecting, making diplomatic deals with China, for example. In relation to Iran. So, what it's saying is that absent - the United States' keen interest in the region -- in the gulf region, Saudi Arabia is going to look elsewhere for its partnerships, be it in sports, be it in business, be it in diplomacy. But part of that messaging and that brand messaging is the sports. And I think that's what we're looking at.

NOBILO: It's fascinating to see sport as this prism for their global ambitions in global diplomacy as well. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

And World Sport with Amanda Davies will have much more on this story in just a few minutes from now. Including the latest reactions from players and the parties involved.

Still ahead on this program though, startling news coming from the top of the world. The arctic could be free of sea ice much sooner than we expected. Details from a new study ahead.


[08:25:00] There's fresh evidence global warming is happening faster than expected as the world keeps pumping out pollution. A new study warns the Arctic could be without sea ice during the summer months as early as the 2030s, that's roughly a decade earlier than what's projected. CNN's Bill Weir has the details.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: For decades now, we've used satellites to watch as the top of the Earth has thawed. And sea ice extent has gotten smaller and smaller, decade by decade. Now, a new report is out that says it's happening even faster than we originally anticipated. Just in 2021 the IPCC's state of the climate science report are predicting an ice-free Arctic by the middle of the century, in the 2050's.

Now, this newer paper, a peer reviewed papers out of South Korea looks at the latest data and says, the climate models were way too conservative. It's probably going to happen a decade sooner, in the 2030's, or so.

That is a startling news but it is just the latest in startling news coming out of the top of the world. In 2021, it rained at the highest peak in Greenland, icy place, for the first time ever. And then last year, a hurricane, actually, pushed a blob of warm air so far north it thawed out parts of Greenland in September which had never been seen before.

Now, this is playing out. Ocean's surface temperatures are on the rise, on a rocket rise, at the same time. And what's most troubling about losing that ice at the top is the albedo effect, the reflecting power of white ice compared to dark water when it comes to absorbing heat. The less ice there is, the faster the heating comes right now.

Yet another reminder that every 10th of a degree counts at maximum speed is needed to stop the root of this and it fuels the burn. Bill Weir, CNN New York.


NOBILO: Thank you for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I am Bianca Nobilo in London. World Sport with Amanda Davies is up next.