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U.N. General Assembly Gathers as Global Crises Mount; Biden Heads to U.N. Today Ahead of Critical Wednesday Speech; Pro-Separatist Officials in Occupied Areas of Ukraine Set Referendums for Joining Russia; Delaware Prepares for Possible Migrant Arrivals After Report of Flight Planned from Texas; Buffalo Bills Player Taken Away in Ambulance After Neck Injury; Univ. of Oregon Apologizes for "Disgraceful Chant" During Game Against BYU; Police Investigating After Fan Allegedly Hits NFL Player; "Champions of Change": Coach Pushes Girls on Track Towards College. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: President Biden heads to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, a meeting that hasn't happened fully in person since 2019 because of the pandemic.

And as tensions escalate in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy will be the only world leader making his address virtually.

CNN's Kylie Atwood and Ben Wedeman.

The secretary-general saying bluntly our world is in trouble. Walk us through the issues the U.N. plans to tackle this week.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was very clear and very stark in his warnings saying the world is in peril and paralyzed, Ana.

He said there was a need to address a number of issues, climate change, gender inequality, poverty. But, of course, central to this world leaders' meeting is the ongoing war in Ukraine.

As we watch, what we'll be watching for is if all of these European nations that have stood on the side of Ukraine continue to do so over the course of the next week and how we see that continued support really come alive.

I've talked to diplomats here at the United Nations. They do expect that there will be that unity, that defense of Ukraine continue this week.

One of the reasons they think that is because of the gains Ukraine has had on the battlefield in recent weeks. They say now is not a time when the world is going to step away from Ukraine.

CABRERA: Kylie, President Biden arrives ahead of this big speech he'll give tomorrow. Do we know about the focus of his speech?

ATWOOD: Yes, well, the national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, spoke to reporters today and he said Biden is going to firmly rebuke Russia's war in Ukraine. He is also going to call on world leaders to continue their support, as I said, for Ukraine.

And we should expect some new announcements in terms of continued U.S. support for Ukraine and continued assistance when it comes to the food insecurity problems we are seeing globally as a result of this war.

I think one thing that is interesting, as you talk to folks here at the United Nations, the Ukrainians are really focused on the spillover effects from this war as they talk to their counterparts.

And that's because they think that talking to them about issues that are impacting them at home as a result of this war is going to be something that will keep the momentum going in terms of continued support for them as they continue battling the Russians.

CABRERA: And, Ben Wedeman, in Kharkiv, leaders in pro-Russian separatist areas of Ukraine just announced plans today to hold a referendum vote to join Russia by the end of the week, they say.

This seems like, I guess, a rush job, Ben. What's going on?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a rush job. The last few days there has been some talk among the leaders of these so-called breakaway republics and other areas controlled by the Russians about perhaps having a referendum.

Today, we heard the leaders of the Luhansk and Donetsk Peoples Republicans -- those were set up in 2014 -- declare independence from Ukraine, as well as pro-Russian leaders in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia areas.

They say that the referendum will begin on the 23rd of September through the 27th.

The Ukrainians say this is just -- this sudden decision stems from fear of defeat after the dramatic gains made by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv area.

But we did hear Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor, say that perhaps Russia is preparing for mobilization.

What's interesting is, if these breakaway regions vote to join Russia, to become part of the Russian Federation, the landscape of this conflict will change. Because, until now, Russia has been conducting what it calls a Special Military Operation in Ukraine.


But if the parts of Ukraine it's currently conducting this military operation, actually become Russia itself, then perhaps, it will no longer be a Special Military Operation. But rather a war, which could involve, indeed, mass mobilization, conscription, and perhaps use of weapons that the Russians haven't used so far.

CABRERA: Ben Wedeman, in Ukraine, something we'll be watching closely and following. Thank you.

Kylie Atwood, at the U.N., thanks as well.

And now we have this just in. Officials and volunteers in Delaware are right now preparing for possible migrant arrivals. This is after reports of a flight that is planning to come from Texas.

We'll get to Phil Mattingly at the White House.

I understand President Biden was just asked about this. What did he say?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, that's exactly right. White House officials are also in contact with Delaware officials, state officials as they prepare for the possibility that fights could arrive in President Biden's home state, potentially near his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach.

As you noted, the president was just asked what his response to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and these flights would be. This is what he said.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- sending migrants to Delaware, any comments?



MATTINGLY: The president brushing it off with a little bit of joking and sarcasm to some degree.

When you talk to White House officials they have made very clear they have attacked the actions as the effort to use migrants as political pawns.

The president was asked about the sheer number of migrants that crossed the border over the course of the last fiscal year hitting a record two million, according to the Department of Homeland Security, just yesterday.

The president making very clear he believed the vast majority of those or a large portion of those were from three Communist states, making this a different problem than perhaps other administrations have had to grapple with.

And one that his administration is currently in the midst of trying to figure out and solve at this moment.

However, the White House secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, not hesitating when it comes to what we've seen from Governor Ron DeSantis, an effort to draw attention to this issue both in Florida and Governor Abbott in Texas.

Calling it a political ploy and saying that Republicans need to come to the table on an immigration bill -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK, Phil Mattingly, at the White House for us, thank you.

An NFL player takes a hit to the head during a game and it's not by anyone on the field. Why police are now investigating.



CABRERA: This just in. The Justice Department is now announcing charges against 47 people who are accused of stealing pandemic money meant to provide food for needy children. That money adding up to $250 million.

According to the DOJ, the scheme is the largest COVID-19-related fraud uncovered by investigators to date. The defendants, who were connected to a Minnesota-based nonprofit, were using the money to buy jewelry, houses and luxury cars.

Now to some encouraging news about a Buffalo Bills player injured during yesterday's game against the Tennessee Titans. Disturbing news about fans from the University of Oregon yelling bigoted chants. And an NFL player struck by a fan?

CNN sports anchor, Andy Scholz, has all the details.

Andy, it was a frightening scene as Buffalo Bills cornerback, Dane Jackson, was taken away in an ambulance with a neck injury. What's the latest on his condition?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Ana, great news today. Dane Jackson was released from the hospital earlier today. And the Buffalo Bills say he sustained no major injuries to his neck or spinal cord.

The entire stadium in Buffalo just went absolutely silent last night after that scary collision right there.

You see linebacker, Tremaine Edmonds, was trying to tackle at the same time that Jackson was and he collided, just bending Jackson's neck all the way back.

An ambulance came all the way out on the field to get Jackson. All of the Buffalo Bills players gathered around him. He was taken to the hospital for C.T. scans and x-rays.

He was able to be released earlier today. Going to go through further testing, Ana, but great news he has no serious injuries and he is back home resting right now.

CABRERA: That is so scary. I'm so glad to hear that. Thank you.

While the University of Oregon is apologizing for some behavior of some of its students caught on camera shouting bigoted chants during a football game against BYU, what more can you tell us about that?

SCHOLZ: BYU was playing at Oregon over the weekend. It was the big football game. And a student in the stands was able to shoot this video. She told CNN this chant, Ana, broke out five different times during the game.




SCHOLZ: The University of Oregon has apologized for that chant. They released a statement saying:

"The University of Oregon sincerely apologizes for an offensive and disgraceful chant coming from the student section during yesterday's game against Brigham Young University."

"These types of actions go against everything the university stands for and it goes against the spirit of competition. We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry."


Ana, the University of Oregon's Office of Student Life release a statement saying they are going to be investigating what happened there in the stands.

And BYU thanked Oregon for their apology.

CABRERA: I need a quick answer but authorities in Las Vegas investigating after a spectator allegedly struck NFL Quarterback Kyler Murray. What are you hearing about this?

SCHOLZ: Ana, hard to tell if this was just a fan who was overly excited trying to be a part of the celebration and accidentally smacked Kyler Murray or if they had ill intent.

You can see it there, it was a chaotic situation. Kyler confronted the fan. A battery complaint was also filed at the stadium.

And Las Vegas police say they are investigating this. But they did not immediately identify a suspect.

So, again, Ana, hard to tell if there was too much excitement there or ill intent. We'll wait to hear from Las Vegas police about what they had to say if they fine anything out. CABRERA: All right, we'll check back.

Andy Scholes, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

CABRERA: OK, so I've been running a long time, practically since I could walk. Yes, that's me maybe about 3 years old. Running helped get me to where I am today.

So when I met the woman at the center of my "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" piece, I felt an instant connection to her goal, inspiring girls to get on a track to higher education. I can't wait to share her story next.



CABRERA: Who here thinks Jean is tough?

Keep your hand up if you think you are better, because Jean is tough.




CABRERA: All right. Now to what I hope is the bright spot in your day. This week, we're bringing you our "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," highlighting people who are tearing down barriers and making the world a better place.

My champion is certainly doing just that. This is a story very near to my heart. Growing up in a family of limited financial means, athletics provided a path to fund my college education.

And beyond that, running has taught me some important life lessons that I, to this day, can rely on.

So when I heard about Coach Jean Bell and Jeuness Track Club, I immediately felt connected to her story. And I quickly realized why some call her a life saver.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't be the person I am today without her.

BELL: Excellent, baby girl.

CABRERA: Jean Bell wears a lot of hats. She's a coach, a judge, a friend. To me, she's a dream maker. BELL: I've been coaching my own team, Jeuness, for 37 years.

CABRERA: What does Jeuness mean?

BELL: It's a French word for young ladies.

I wanted to coach girls as they became young women. I can let them know that education is the key to their success.

CABRERA: What Coach Jean does on the track is volunteer work. Her day job is an administrative judge hearing worker's comp cases every day.

BELL: These are the goes for today's practice.

Most of the girls come from Brooklyn and those areas that are under served. They face teen pregnancy, drug use. You don't have to go looking for the trouble. It's out there waiting for you.

CABRERA: This is where you grew up?

BELL: Yes. Right here in Brooklyn. I had two brothers and two sisters and we were cramped in a small apartment the seven of us.

CABRERA: What do you remember about living here?

BELL: I remember it was a dangerous place. There was a lot of crime a lot of gangs and a lot of drugs. I wanted to escape the poverty and wanted something better for myself.

CABRERA: It was your own experience that has inspired you to want more for others?

BELL: We knew that education was our way out.

Up and down with your arms. That's good.

CABRERA: I am one of five kids in my family and we grew up without a lot of money. My dad is a runner and I enjoyed running.

I remember that determination my dad saw as a runner himself and really helped nurture that. I was able to get a college scholarship, which took me to Washington State University.

BELL: The main focus of my team is to assist the girls in getting athletic scholarships to go to college, to build successful lives.

CABRERA: How many of you, show of hands, plan to go to college?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My goal is to get a full scholarship to college from running track.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My goal is to get a scholarship and start my own business.

CABRERA: Who here thinks Jean is tough?

Keep your hand up if you think you're better, because Jean is tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She shows you tough love, but at the end, you know it's all coming from a good place because she knows what we're capable of.

CABRERA: Mya joined when she was 7 years old and she's now 16. She has big dreams. She wants to become a pediatric surgeon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first started running on the team, my self-confidence was low.

You don't always win everything. It has to motivate you more to strive to do your best going forward. She has high expectations for all of us.

CABRERA: Why track and field?


BELL: You're out there on that track, in that lane, facing only the starter's gun --


BELL: -- and yourself. Running makes you tough, strong in mind, strong in spirit, going after what you want.

Don't be afraid to run out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The work ethic that I got from running, it follows me throughout my life and career.

CABRERA: You were a long-distance runner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a scholarship to St. John's University. I'm a comptroller at a nonprofit organization. When it's hard for me, she used to scream across the track, come on, come on, and I can hear her in my head.

CABRERA: If you were able to talk to Jean, what would you tell her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say that I love you and thank you for everything. I would say I don't think I could live like this life without you. That's what I would say.

BELL: I don't see myself as a champion, but I like to think that I make champions.



CABRERA: She says she's a champion maker, changing lives with very limited resources.

One of Coach Jean's biggest ongoing challenges or barriers is finding a safe place for her team to train. She says sometimes these girls have to maneuver around motorcycles on the track, even gunfire.

Coach Jean dreams of a safe facility built in Brooklyn where her girls can train year-round.

We'll continue to share these inspirational stories all week. Be sure to tune in on Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, for the "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" one-hour special.

And that does it for me today.

The news continues with Alisyn and Victor next.