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Cancer Deaths Are Steadily Falling In U.S.; Mastermind Of Navy Bribery Scheme Captured After Weeks On The Run; NYC Opening Response & Relief Center For Arriving Migrants; Alex Jones Takes Stand In Sandy Hook Defamation Trial; Biden Receives FEMA Briefing On Cat-4 Hurricane That Hit Puerto Rico. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 14:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: An encouraging new report reveals cancer deaths and the cancer death rate, I should say, continues to fall in the U.S. That's according to the American Association for Cancer Research.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is with me now.

Some good news today.


BLACKWELL: Well, it's good to have you anyway. But it's good when you bring good news.

Tell us about the findings.

GUPTA: We hear about these incremental changes in the progress on cancer. What they tried to do here was look over decades and see how much of a difference it's really made.

So this organization, it's a cancer research organization, looked back to '91 and said OK, how have we done in terms of cancer rates overall?


Victor, take a look, 32 percent reduction in cancer rates since 1991. We did the math on this. That's about 3.5 million lives saved. People who are living today because of these incremental benefits in cancer.

And if you look at it another way and say how many cancer survivors are there nowadays as compared to before, back in '71 there was three million cancer survivors. Now 18 million-plus. Roughly, about 5 percent of the nation.

So one in 20 people. You go out and talk to one in 20 people, they will say they are a cancer survivor nowadays.

Also the idea that you live longer than five years with any kind of cancer, 70 percent, 80 percent of people do that now. Back then, it was under half the people would do that. Mostly advanced in colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and

breast cancer.

And lots of reasons why. But the two main reasons, they have figured out the genetics of these cancers better. They can target these mutations. And also drugs known as immunotherapies.

And also drugs that use your own immune system to help fight these cancers. Those have become more commonly used.

BLACKWELL: President Biden's cancer moonshot is to cut the number of cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years. Continuing this trend, is that realistic?

GUPTA: Well, if you look at, since '91, there's been a 32 percent reduction. So that's pretty significant. Fast forward 25 more years, quite possible.

There are several things he wants to focus on, including investing in some of these same therapies that I was just talking about.

But I would direct your attention, sort of, to near the bottom of the screen. The idea of preventable cancers.

Wasn't long ago that we were talking about the idea that maybe half of cancers in some ways are preventable. Smoking, obesity, things like that that are lifestyle decisions.

We talk about these things sort of generally. But if we really invest in decreasing the likelihood of preventable cancers, I think we can get there.

As much as we talk about the therapies, which are expensive and important, we need to talk about preventing these cancers in the first place in a bigger way, which is part of moonshot.

BLACKWELL: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always good to have you, especially with good news.



BLACKWELL: But it's good to have you.

GUPTA: You've got it.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to listen to the new season of "CHASING LIFE" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. You can listen to it on Spotify or Apple podcasts.

The former military contractor who orchestrated the largest corruption scandal in U.S. history is back in custody. We'll have more on the arrest of the fugitive known as Fat Leonard, next.


It's been nearly a week since a woman died while in police custody in Iran, and protests across the country show no signs of letting up.

You can see the protesters here fighting back against riot police in the northern part of the country yesterday.

Crowds are pouring into the streets. Women are burning head scarves. Authorities are now issuing Internet blackouts.

Mahsa Amin's father is accusing authorities of lying about her death. The 22-year-old died last week in the custody of the so-called morality police for allegedly violating Iran's law on head scarves.

After more than two weeks on the run, the mastermind behind the biggest corruption scandal in U.S. naval history is now in custody in Venezuela.

Former military contractor, Leonard Francis, nicknamed Fat Leonard, escaped house arrest by cutting off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet. He was facing charges of bribery and fraud.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon with the latest.

What do we know?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Leonard Francis, also known as Fat Leopard, is in custody in Venezuela after he went missing just a couple of weeks ago.

At the time, he was only a few weeks away from his sentencing after he pled guilty back in 2015 on charges of bribery and fraud. He had, at times, been cooperating with authorities as they looked into the largest corruption scandal in Navy history.

And then, suddenly, he went missing. Authorities believed he may have tried to leave the country. And that, as we find out now, is exactly what happened.

He was taken into custody in Venezuela after U.S. Marshals issued an Interpol red notice. That's where he's in custody. The U.S. has begun extradition proceedings. It's an open question as to how long that could take.

But this is a question that's gone on for years. Back in 2013, authorities started looking into Leonard Francis and all of his business dealings, tying together a number of capitals in the Indo- Pacific.

And they found out, as investigators and prosecutors said, that he had given out gifts, expensive trips, even parties with, according to investigators and prosecutors, prostitutes in exchange for Navy officials moving business toward his defense contractor. And that's where he made millions. In 2015, he pled guilty to those charges. He then, as we've said,

escaped house arrest just weeks before he was due to be sentenced. And now the extradition proceedings to bring him back to the U.S. after he was captured in Venezuela.

Key question, how long might those extradition hearings take? It could take some time. It's obviously a good sign Venezuela followed through on his arrest with the Interpol red notice.

But as for how fast this moves, that has a lot to do with how fast the Venezuelan regime wants it to move, and the tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Oren Liebermann, at the Pentagon, thank you.


Conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, takes the stand, coming face to face with the judge he just called a tyrant. More on that next.


BLACKWELL: New York City is opening response and relief centers for the thousands of migrants who are being bussed into the area. These centers offer shelter and food, medical care.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the latest for us.

More migrants arrived this morning. How is the mayor responding?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The average daily arrivals, Victor, anywhere from 300 to 400 asylum seekers arriving in the city a day. You can imagine that's why city officials are having to quickly adapt their response.

And that now includes setting up these humanitarian relief centers that you mentioned, the first which is expected to open in the next couple of weeks in the Bronx.

This will be separate when compared to other measures we've seen deployed by the city.

This will be specifically described as a first touch point for these migrants, these asylum seekers that come to New York City, step off of buses and then straight into the services of New York City officials, including for food, medical aid, housing.


In fact, these facilities will be able to House these migrants from one to four days. But the goal is to allow them to then be housed in a more permanent facility.

And we need to be clear here, city officials are making this very clear that they will be able to come and go from this facility as they wish while they continue to get the resources that they need. But the need is great, Victor, when you consider where numbers stand

right now. Since April, over 13,000 asylum seekers have turned to the New York City shelter system. And about 10,000 of them are still in that system.

So that's really the closest number we have to give our viewers. If gives you an idea of how many people have turned to New York City here.

And also that does include those migrants who have come on their own outside those efforts that we've seen by governors in Arizona, Texas and most recently in Florida.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval, with the latest there. Thank you, Polo.

A contentious day in a Connecticut courtroom. Far-right conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, is on the stand. We've got live pictures as the questioning continues.

This is another defamation lawsuit filed by the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. This trial would have determined how much Jones should pay for his persistent and false claims that the massacre was an elaborate hoax.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins me now.

So the judge has repeatedly admonished Jones to limit his responses, yes, no, I don't know. Why?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the judge has said this is not a case about politics. This is not a case about politics. You can't talk about the First Amendment or Second Amendment or politicians or elections.

You cannot say this is not a hoax. That's already been determined. You are liable for defaming them, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

So this afternoon -- and it's been contentious all day. It looks like it's calm in the courtroom? Not always.

But they showed a deposition on the screen of Alex Jones several years ago where he said that he admitted that he had said that this was a hoax and it was fake.

And then the live questioning came saying that you said this was manufactured with actors. And he had to admit that, early on, he says early on that is what he did.

You not only did that, you mocked the parents. You mocked when they were crying and said it wasn't real and that it was a hoax.

I want you to listen to a little bit and get the flavor of what the testimony is like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEX JONES, FOUNDER & HOST, INFO WARS: I'm not supposed to talk about the prior rulings. So how do I answer if I think something is a kangaroo court if I'm not supposed to say why I think it is.

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: This picture right here, that's the judge, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Lasers coming out of her eyes, right?


UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: That's who you've been referring to as a tyrant, right?


UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: I asked you whether it's your testimony that the FBI is complicit. Is this your testimony?

JONES: I mean, I think this is a deep-state situation.

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Your credibility is the most important thing with your audience, isn't it?

JONES: How do I answer a question, Your Honor, that I've been barred from answering under orders of the court?


CASAREZ: So this is the plaintiff's case. The plaintiff has called him as a witness. You can see the contentious atmosphere involved.

So this is going to keep going because the plaintiffs really have to establish his intent, his motive, because this is going to determine the amount of money that the jury deems is important and justified for defaming these people.

And they went through a lot. I didn't realize all this. I don't know if everybody didn't.

But what they went through, being mocked on social media, being called liars, that it was a hoax, that your child is actually alive, your mother is actually alive, and you're playing this, it's amazing.

BLACKWELL: We saw one of the parents who said that he had been shown something online, that his name was there, and he then was after not seeing any of this was -- his eyes were opened to some of the claims about his family.

CASAREZ: And he's having to grieve at the same point of time.

We want to make sure everybody knows there's going to be cross examination, so his attorney is going to be able to try to mitigate the amount of money that would be awarded to these parents. BLACKWELL: Jean Casarez, thank you.


A federal appeals court gives the DOJ the green light to resume its review of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has a new defense about those documents, but some top Republican lawmakers are not buying it.


BLACKWELL: Right now, President Biden is being briefed on Hurricane Fiona and the ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico. People there are battling floods, sweeping power outages, loss of access to clean water.

Meteorologist Tom Sater is in the CNN Weather Center.

Tom, tell us about the storm now.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, let's not forget they had a heat advisory in Puerto Rico and over a million without power so it's still dangerous down there.

You can see how far, Victor, it's come from the Turks, Caicos. This storm system is still a cannon ball, a category 4. Trending a little bit west from Bermuda, up here at the top of your screen.

I think their biggest issue, they could see very high seas. We're talking 50, 60-foot wave heights as it moves through its core.

The bigger issue of course with these wave heights for us are dangerous rip currents the next several days. We could see 10-foot- high waves crashing in. So the advisories, very dangerous to be out in the waters for the next several days.


But the bigger story is going to be Canada. This could be their Superstorm Sandy. Superstorm Sandy, 24 states affected, $79 billion in damage.

We could see hundreds of thousands lose power. We could see a high surge. We're talking 400 miles of wide stretch of tropical storm-force winds.