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President Erdogan's Fate In The Balance As Polls Close In Turkey; President Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Concentrating On Counteroffensive; Israel And Islamic Jihad Agree To Ceasefire After Days Of Violence; DHS Secretary Says Too Early To Know If Migrant Surge Has Peaked; Inside The Lab That Could Revolutionize Power On Earth; Scholarship Program To Help Students With Parents In Prison; Buffalo Bills Trainer Who Helped Save Damar Hamlin's Life Says, I Am Not A Hero, I Was Ready. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 14, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON KING, CHAIR OF THE CLIVE DAVIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: But on the flip side, some artists are really feeling disempowered. Streaming services in terms of the economics of recorded music, they don't pay out to artists the way that they used to in the past, and so that's difficult for most artists who are trying to earn a steady living or livable wage in terms of just their recorded music. So there's a double-edged sword to music and tech in the 2010s.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Yes. No doubt that decade completely redefined how the industry works.
Jason King, we do have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your insights.
And all of you out there, be sure to tune in to an all-new episode of the CNN Original Series, "THE 2010s." That airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.
Hello, and Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Alex Marquardt in today for Fredricka Whitfield.
We do begin this hour with the fate of Turkey's longtime president hanging in the balance. The polls have closed in the very high stakes president election. The votes are now being counted by the millions in this pivotal race that could create global shockwaves.
The incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is facing the greatest challenge yet to his 20-year rule. And at the moment, with 60 million plus votes still being counted, analysts are saying that the election is still too early to call and they're predicting what could be a very close race right to the end. Both Erdogan and the main opposition candidate, they both claim to be leading.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Istanbul for us.
Jomana, what's the latest this evening? JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, as you mentioned
right now, it is too close to call. Votes, ballots are still being counted, and you've got both sides giving their own set of data. You've got the Turkish state news agency that is putting President Erdogan in the lead and you've also got the opposition saying that they are the ones in the lead and that the state news agency should not be trusted.
Both sides are calling on their supporters, on election monitors from their party, from their side, to stay by the ballot boxes until the last moment, until this is finalized. They expect a long night here. This was always expected to be a very tight race in this divided and polarized country. We are outside the headquarters of President Erdogan's AK Party, and hundreds of his supporters have converged on this building.
Tonight they say they are here to show their support for the Turkish president. People out here say that there is only one man they can see leading Turkey and that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They list his achievements for them over the past two decades of leading their country and they fear what may happen to them.
A lot of the women here say they fear what might happen to them because they say that he has allowed them to express their religious beliefs freely, to wear their head scarves, and they just fear that they might use those freedoms that they had gotten under President Erdogan, despite the fact that the opposition says that no one is under threat, that everyone will be included in this new Turkey, this change that they are promising to bring to Turkey.
This is a very divided country. You've got President Erdogan who has been promising people to continue on this same path that he has put his country on, which many here would tell you is this great Turkey, making it a great global power. You've got the opposition that is promising to reverse years of one-man rule that they blame for the state of affairs in this country whether it is the economy or freedom or the threat to democracy.
They say this is a very, very tight race and for everyone in this country, for them, the future of this nation right now hangs in the balance -- Alex.
MARQUARDT: Very divided country as you say. Jomana Karadsheh back on the streets of Istanbul, a city and a country that you know so well. Thank you very much. And we will continue to check in with you.
Now earlier I spoke with CNN's Fareed Zakaria about the importance of Turkey's presidential election not just in Turkey but all around the world, and I started by asking him how Turkey and the world would react if -- and it's still a very big if -- President Erdogan were to lose. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": It would be an earthquake not just in Turkey, but all over the world. Look, in Turkey, Erdogan is the most important leader of Turkey since
Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
He has ruled for two decades, which is longer than anybody else since Ataturk, but he has also defined Turkey. He has put his stamp on it in so many different ways. He has changed the nature of Turkey's character, which was more secular, more pro-Western, more pro- American, and he's turned it into a more -- a country that looks east as much as it looks west, that has a stronger sense of its Islamic heritage and, frankly, is much more authoritarian and less democratic than it had been in certainly even at the beginning of his term.
So in many ways, it would be a big shift for Turkey, but as importantly, it would be a kind of global message that this kind of illiberal democracy or elected autocracy where somebody wins an election and wins a couple of elections, but accumulates power, you know, dispenses with independent judiciary, dispenses with independent press, all this can be reversed, that democracy has within it the seeds of the ability to correct this kind of flaws.
So, you know, on my program a month ago I said this was the most important election of the year, and I stand by it.
MARQUARDT: And it is obviously being watched very closely by many world leaders, not least because of the war in Ukraine and the central role that Turkey plays in that. Turkey and Erdogan have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the same time Erdogan maintains close ties with the Kremlin. How much do you think that war in Ukraine is going to be impacted by the outcome of this election?
ZAKARIA: I think it could make a big difference because the -- Erdogan's rival is promising a more pro-Western policy which means frankly a return to Turkey's traditional pro-Western policy which would mean I think there will be more pressure on Russia. The sanctions would be better enforced. Ukrainian grain would be able to leave port more easily. All the things that Erdogan has been playing a little bit -- you know, he's been playing both sides would be less true.
Remember, there's the other huge issue on which Erdogan has played extraordinary politics, which is the refugees. Erdogan has kept threatening Europe with sending a stream of refugees from the Middle East essentially mostly fleeing the Syrian civil war. And in return for that, it's essentially blackmail. In return for him not doing that, the Europeans keep sending him money.
So there are so many areas where Erdogan has put his personal stamp on policies that are quite unusual, and a departure for Turkey. The Ukraine war, you're absolutely right, is the most urgent and most critical one where an Erdogan loss could mean a big shift in policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: And now to Russia's war on Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hinting that the long-anticipated summer counteroffensive could begin soon. Those comments coming as he is touring Europe, vying for more support from European partners. President Zelenskyy is now in France, in Paris, meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. He just tweeted that he is prepared to discuss what he called important points of bilateral relations.
And earlier today President Zelenskyy met with Germany's president as well as its chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who promised support for as long as it is necessary. Just yesterday Germany announced a $3 billion aid package for Ukraine. And that came the same day that he met with Pope Francis and Italian leaders in Rome and the Vatican City who offered their full-throated support.
CNN's Sam Kiley joining us now from Southeastern Ukraine.
Sam, President Zelenskyy, he is on this European tour. How critical is it ahead of this counteroffensive on which so much is expected?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a great deal of hopes being pinned by Ukrainians on this counteroffensive because they recognize, Alex, that it may be all they've got, or at least it's certainly their best chance in the foreseeable future of trying to rout the Russians, get them out of all of their territory.
And that is what is so key in the message that Mr. Zelenskyy has been taking around those European capitals is to make sure that European allies are still full throated in their support for his agenda which is the removal of every single Russian soldier from Ukrainian territory.
Now in the past, Emmanuel Macron suggested that Russia shouldn't be humiliated in his terms in a fight with Ukraine. The French I think have been moved that position somewhat. The Germans had in the past been rather anxious about the idea of providing any kind of lethal aid to Ukraine.
Now they've stepped up with this very significant donation of $3 billion worth of very lethal aid and very needed aid. And I think that that is all part of setting the diplomatic landscape in the right direction, making sure that his allies are all behind him before this offensive begins. Because they're going to need to stay the course. They're going to need to come through with more and more weapons, resupply, support when things go wrong as they inevitably will, at least temporarily.
This is no guarantee that this campaign will even be a success when it does go under way. So he needs a lot of reassurance and backing in the real physical sense, particularly from Europe and from the internal Ukrainian perspective, it's very important to see their president in Europe. That is what this is all about ultimately.
MARQUARDT: And as you say, the stated goal is to push every Russian soldier out of Ukraine but that is an extremely tall order no matter how well supplied and trained those troops are. Sam Kiley, in Southeastern Ukraine, thank you very much.
Still ahead, the fragile cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad appears to be holding for now. We will be taking you to the region next.
MARQUARDT: A new cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad does appear to be holding for now. The tenuous truce coming after five days of heavy and deadly rocket fire from both sides.
CNN senior correspondent Ben Wedeman has seen that fighting up close and has the latest from Gaza.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The cease-fire in Gaza appears to be holding. We're in a building in the northern end of the Gaza Strip that was struck by an Israeli airstrike at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, just five hours before that cease-fire was supposed to go into effect.
Now this building was four stories high, 40 to 45 people were living inside, including several handicapped individuals. Now what happened was typical of how these things play out. Somebody in the building received a phone call from the Israeli military saying get out immediately, we're going to bomb this building. The problem was with the handicapped people, it was very difficult to get them out very quickly. Some of them can barely walk.
So it took some time but as you can see, buildings utterly destroyed, their money, all of their possessions is here under the rubble. Now their immediate concern is how are they going to live without a place to stay? And what they told us is they're just sleeping outside in the open essentially. Fortunately it's not raining these days but sleeping outside. They're wondering how they're going to get by given the difficult economic situation here in Gaza.
There isn't a lot of money. The government, led by Hamas, doesn't have the resources to really take care of these people, let alone rebuild this structure. And of course when we speak to people, we really get a sense of exhaustion. This is the third time in the last three years there's been major hostilities between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza. And the expected is that yes, there is a cease-fire now but how long is it going to last? It could be just a few months, maybe just a year before it all happens again.
I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from the northern Gaza Strip.
MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Ben Wedeman there in Gaza. And still ahead, the Biden administration says it is too early to tell
whether the surge of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has peaked. But border agents say they are seeing a dramatic drop off in the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States.
We will go live next to El Paso, Texas. Stay with us.
MARQUARDT: It has now been three days since Title 42 expired and border agents say that they are seeing a dramatic drop in the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States. Officials say there were only about 4200 encounters, as they called them, on Saturday. That's down from 10,000 seen at the U.S.-Mexico border in the days before Title 42 ended. But the secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told CNN earlier today it may still be too early to tell whether these new numbers will hold. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Over the past two days the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday.
It is still early. We are in day three. But you know, we've been planning for this transition for months and months and we've been executing on our plan and we will continue to do so.
We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our southern border. There's a lawful safe and orderly way to arrive in the United States that is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way and then there's a consequence if one doesn't use those lawful pathways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: CNN's Arlette Saenz is back with us from the White House.
Arlette, what else is the Biden administration saying today about this?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, the White House has pushed back on both the political criticism and some of the legal challenges it has been facing in the wake of the lifting of Title 42. You heard the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas there talking about the steps that the administration has put in place to manage this migrant flow and manage things down at the border as Title 42 has lifted.
But he did acknowledge that it's too early to say whether the peak in the surge has been reached. But officials have said that the number of encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border has gone down since the lifting of Title 42. Just take a look at those numbers. Mayorkas has said just yesterday there were only 4200 encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border, on Friday 6300.
Compare that to a bit earlier in the week when Title 42 was still in place when he saw figures hovering around 10,000. The question going forward is whether those encounters will remain at lower levels.
Now, the White House has pushed back on the criticism they've been receiving from both Republicans and Democrats within their own party. People on both sides of the aisle have argued that the administration has been insufficiently prepared for the lifting of Title 42 and there has also been some consternation within the Democratic Party with some parts of the Democratic Party about the tightened asylum rules that they have seen put in place in the wake of Title 42 being lifted.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the administration's plan that prevents migrants who are transiting through other countries from seeking asylum here in the U.S. That is something that will have to make its way through the courts. But another challenge facing this administration has to do with capacity issues in CBP facilities. A federal judge down in Florida blocked one of the tools that the administration had been planning to use to release migrants without set court dates.
That plan is now on hold for about two weeks so the administration has appealed it. And if a stay is not granted by tomorrow afternoon, they plan on going to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to file an emergency motion. That is one of the tools that the administration had been hoping to use to try to alleviate some of the crowding concerns at these facilities.
And one top Border Patrol official warned that if they don't have that mechanism in place, the capacity at these CBP shelters and facilities could reach over 45,000 migrants by the end of the month. So that is one of the challenges that this administration is facing as they're grappling with the lifting of Title 42.
MARQUARDT: Yes, one of the many challenges. Arlette Saenz, at the White House, thank you very much.
The fears of masses of migrants overrunning the border has not developed as predicted. CNN's Polo Sandoval is at the border in El Paso, Texas, where he has been following the difficult journey that many migrants have had to make just to get there.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Step inside this shelter in the heart of El Paso, Texas, and you'll find people waiting in limbo. They're migrant families. Some single mothers who told us they were recently processed and released by border authorities.
While some children visibly exhausted nap inside, others play in the courtyard. Their young minds spared the anguish of moms and dads trying to figure out when or even if they can continue the rest of the journey in what can easily become a hopeless space.
It seems the migrant mothers keep hope alive here. Conny Barahona keeps it together for Daniella, her 9-year-old. She says two of her older daughters ages 18 and 20 remain in federal detention. It will be a sad Mother's Day, she tells me. My daughters won't be by my side.
In the last three days Barahona turned down coveted opportunities to travel to Houston, refusing to go anywhere without all her daughters. We left Honduras together and that's how we must remain until God allows, the single mother says.
She forged a friendship with fellow migrant mom, Yesika Gonzalez (PH), who've left South America three months ago with her partner and their son Jason. We found another motherly bond in this corner of the shelter where (INAUDIBLE) Falcon receives help when caring for baby Yeremy just 2 weeks old. This mom tells me she carried him from Venezuela to Texas where she went into labor immediately after stepping on to U.S. soil.
All of the migrant mothers we spoke to say maternal instinct to provide for their children is what drove them to make the perilous journey in the first place. A parent will do anything to see their children safe, says Barahona. A hug from Daniella seems to help ease any of mom's sorrows. We asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. A seamstress like mom.
SANDOVAL: And all weekend long we've noticed that the rate of DHS releases has remained relatively steady. And that translates to this less pressure on some of the shelters here in the El Paso area, that offer these migrants temporary respite before they continue on their way to American cities, Alex.
And that leads us to the other figure that is all but guaranteed to continue to rise regardless of what happens here on the border, and that is the total number of asylum seekers that leave these border communities, which is what happens all the time, and then they head to cities throughout the United States. I have heard Colorado, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City continues to top the list in terms of the next place, the final destination for many of the asylum seekers, where they watch their immigration cases play out for years.
MARQUARDT: Yes, all of those major destinations for recently arrived migrants. Polo Sandoval in El Paso, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Journalist and Contributing Editor New Lines Magazine Anna Lekas Miller, her new book, Love Across Borders, comes out on June 6th. Anna, welcome and thank you so much for joining us at a very important time.
You wrote an op-ed on cnn.com, that was on Friday, about what you say is really causing the crisis at the border, and I want to read a bit of what you wrote, which is, though our political conversation around immigration often focuses on how to stop the root causes of migration or the economic strain of newcomers, it rarely questions what could be done to ensure that these newcomers could settle and contribute as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Now, of course there are many groups, particularly in the cities where these migrants end up coming off of busses who do what they can to help migrants get what they need in the immediate term and to settle, but why do you believe that that isn't more of a priority?
ANNA LEKAS MILLER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, NEW LINES MAGAZINE: Well, first, thank you so much for having me, Alex. I talk about this important issue. I think it's not a priority because so often we are seeing this is a crisis of people rather than a crisis of policy. So, we're focusing on the economic strain of having newcomers rather than thinking about what people can contribute, how we can make it so that people coming here can thrive and actually have a moment to breathe after fleeing such horrible danger and, you know, making this their home.
MARQUARDT: And you are joining us now from London. You have written about what it's like for families trying to navigate immigrations systems all around the world. So, what challenges do you see here in the United States that you may not or do not when others immigrating to other countries?
MILLER: Sure. So, in the United States, I think one of the things that you see is there are so many people who have to wait for so long, who you see right now who are waiting at the border in completely deplorable conditions and what's so, you know, actually quite commonplace that one of the number one things that people ask me is why are people taking such dangerous journeys, why are there people crowding on boats in the Mediterranean, why are there people who are hiring coyotes and taking their kids across the desert between Mexico and the United States.
And the answer is that there are not accessible legal asylum routes. There are routes that exist but they're getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and you feel the doors closing more and more and more, and the walls are going up. Whether those are physical walls or those are sort of the metaphorical walls, but still quite present barriers of making these processes last longer and longer, sort of keeping people detained for months and sometimes years on end, which completely affects their lives, completely throws them off of having a normal life and separates families at the end of the day.
MARQUARDT: And, of course, we see that same desperation from families from Africa or the Middle East or South Asia, who then try to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe, lots of parallels there.
But back here in the United States, Anna, Title 42 is over. It expired late Thursday. The U.S. is reverting back to what's called Title 8 policy, which, among other things, imposes some severe punishments on those trying to cross the border illegally. From what you found, is that legal deterrent enough for those who are, in many cases, leaving, as you say, such desperate situations?
MILLER: It's not. The thing is people are going to be traveling and making these crossings no matter what. Because what they are fleeing is so disparate. In the segment that you just aired, they're talking about mothers and maternal instincts and doing anything so that you could have your child be in a safe place. So, people are taking these dangerous journeys for the sake of their families, for the sake of being able to actually live somewhere where they can be safe. So, with this in mind, we need to have a process that actually works (INAUDIBLE) that.
MARQUARDT: Right. Anna Lekas Miller, congratulations on your new book. It comes, of course, at a very important time. It's called Love Across Borders. Thank you very much for your thoughts today.
MILLER: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: And coming up next, we go inside the nuclear fusion lab working to revolutionize the way electricity is generated, harnessing energy similar to stars in the sky.
MARQUARDT: Clean, unlimited power. For decades, it was an elusive scientific agreement but perhaps not anymore. CNN's Bill Weir takes us inside a lab that is revolutionizing the way that we generate electricity.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Inside this building, some very smart people built a star on Earth. Not the Hollywood kind, that's easy. No, the burning ball of gas in the sky kind, one of the hardest things humans have ever tried.
TAMMY MA, LEAD, INERTIAL FUSION ENERGY INITIATIVE: I was at the airport when my boss called me and I burst into tears.
WEIR: Tammy Ma is among the scientists who have been chasing nuclear fusion for generations. And in the middle of a December night, they did it.
And you only need a tiny little bit of fuel?
MA: That's right, yes. Because our little pellet that sits right in the middle, you can't even see it on this, is just two millimeters in diameter.
WEIR: That target includes an abundant isotope found in sea water and goes into a chamber about the size of a beach ball in the '60s but is now a round room 30 feet across with 192 massive lasers aimed at the center.
[16:40:11] MA: They're big laser beams, about 40 by 40 centimeters. Each one alone is one of the most energetic in the world. Every time we do a shot, it's a thousand times the power of the entire U.S. electrical grid.
MA: But your lights don't flicker at home when you take a shot. So, what we're doing is taking a huge amount of energy and compressing it down just into nanoseconds.
WEIR: All right.
MA: So, it's about $14 of electricity.
WEIR: The National Ignition Facility then amplifies all that concentrated energy on the target. And if they get it just right, more energy comes out comes out than went in with no risk of nuclear meltdown or radioactive waste.
MA: In a fusion power plant, you would shoot the same target over and over at about times a second dropping at target in and shooting it with lasers.
WEIR: So, you need a target loader, like a machine gun or something, right?
MA: You need a target loader, exactly. So, there are still many, many technology jumps that we need to make that definitely makes it so exciting, right?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: A lot of people who saying, we've invested all this money, time to pull the plug because you guys haven't achieved ignition. I mean, it's called the National Ignition Facility, right?
WEIR: At some point you better --
GRANHOLM: And at some point, you better ignite, yes.
I mean, it's really hard to replicate the process that's happening on the sun on Earth. It's just really hard. And so when that happened in December, what it said is that this is actually possible. So, it's no longer a question of whether, it's just a question of when, that fusion is actually possible. Now, let's get to work.
WEIR: While most experts say it will be decades before most of the public will ever be able to plug into fusion energy, there are so many new startups in this space, about $5 billion worth of investment. A startup called Helion, which has a big dumb bell shaped reactor that shoots plasma rings a million miles an hour says they'll be able to demonstrate electricity by next year, and Microsoft, in a first of a kind deal, has already purchased fusion electricity from them for the year 2028. Victor, Amara, the future is coming on fast. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MARQUARDT: Thanks to Bill Weir for that very exciting, promising report.
And still to come, crime, drugs and unaffordable housing, they are just some of the recent headlines coming out of San Francisco. So, what happened to the California city? CNN gets the whole story and we will have a preview just ahead.
MARQUARDT: It is truly one of the country's most beloved and beautiful cities, but San Francisco is facing some very tough problems. Retailers leaving downtown, citing unsafe conditions, tents taking up whole blocks as homelessness skyrockets and a 40 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses.
Tonight, on the whole story with Anderson Cooper, CNN's Sara Sidner speaks to one mother who said her drug-addicted son lived on the streets of San Francisco. The concerned parent went undercover to a place called the Tenderloin Linkage Center, a city-run site that shuttered at the end of 2022. Here's a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On a Sunday morning, I decided that I was going to go. And I said to them that I wanted to get off drugs and that I needed help. And, you know, they laughed at me and the guy at the door said we can help you do drugs, but if you want help getting off drugs, you're going to have to come back tomorrow.
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Tanya, shut up. Someone at the door of the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. If you want to come in, you can do drugs. But if you want help, you can come back tomorrow.
So, I was like, okay, well, I have some drugs on me but I don't have anything to use them with. And he was like, we have everything but we don't have papers. SIDNER: Okay. I've got to tell you, my mind is blown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, there's music, there's like rap music, there were people dancing. I saw a few people passed out. There was like a little tiny table, probably, you know, like about this big with maybe some flyers on it. There was like a bulletin board. Then they had kind of like an area where you can go and take a shower.
This is where I would have sent my son to go get help? And there's no way he would have gotten help. Like the minute that he would have seen that, he would have wanted to use drugs. And forget about trying to get help. You should be arresting people for using illegal drugs, not watching people use illegal drugs. That's almost legalizing it.
MARQUARDT: And joining us now to talk more about her whole story in- depth report on what happened in San Francisco is CNN Anchor Sara Sidner. Sara, great to have you back with us. That was just a stunning interaction you had there. So, what happened to that Tenderloin Linkage Center?
SIDNER: After some time, the mayor shut this down. She said this is not what we wanted to happen here. It was supposed to be a place where people could go get services and get help getting off drugs or to keep them from overdosing, and that is not what it turned into. And so it was closed down.
But that left a lot of people in a lurch, wondering where do they go next to try and get some of those services and try to attract people off of the streets to try to come and get help.
MARQUARDT: So, what do you think the future is of those supervised drug consumption sites?
SIDNER: Look, the whole state of California, just like a lot of other places, is trying to deal with this. And so there was legislation that was passed for what's known as safe injection sites statewide, that were going to be state-funded. But the governor, Governor Newsom, decided to veto that, worrying that this would be unlimited and they would be in a lot of different places, which would upset some of the residents.
San Francisco then took matters into its own hand and the Board of Supervisors there approved these safe injection sites. They are set so that people can go in, do drugs, and not overdose. So, they are trying to bring down that high number of overdose. And you said, it was about 40 to 41 percent more people overdosing than in times past.
And so they are looking at it saying, okay, what do we do to try to deal with this problem, but the difference is in San Francisco is that it would have to be privately funded, not publicly funded, so NGOs would fund it. They are looking for solutions. No matter what anybody says about the city and the government, and they can blame a lot of different things for what has happened there, including COVID and the high cost of living, the city is trying to do something about it. They truly are.
And we were with some members of the city as they were trying to deal with both the homelessness problem and the drug problem and watched some of the things that they are doing now. But it's extremely expensive in a city that is extremely expensive, one of the top ten most expensive cities in the world.
MARQUARDT: Yes, it is extraordinarily expensive and that has led to a lack of affordable housing. You just mentioned homelessness. That's something that's one of the most visible things, when you visit San Francisco. You, for this special, spoke with both residents, residents who were both housed and unhoused. So, to what extent did you find that the homelessness problem has worsened in recent years?
SIDNER: Look, we looked at some of the numbers, and it's interesting because it isn't the highest number that it's ever been. That was so far, I think, the numbers show from the city and county statistics in 2019, actually. But it is the highest number in 2022, the highest number that people have counted the number of homeless at more than 7,000. It is the highest in 17 years. So, there's definitely an increase, and that something the city is looking at, how do you deal with it.
I just want to give you a crazy statistic. According to federal data, the housing in San Francisco is 113 percent more than the national average. That's where we are at, Alex.
MARQUARDT: That is absolutely remarkable. As I'm sure, your report will be, really looking forward to seeing it. Sara Sidner, thank you so much for joining us today.
And for all of you out there, be sure to tune into an all new episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper, one whole hour, one whole topic. That airs tonight with Sara Sidner's report at 8:00 P.M. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.
In the U.S., nearly 1.5 million children have a parent who is serving time. Now, this week's CNN Hero knows firsthand the challenges that come with having a parent in prison. Meet Yasmine Arrington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YASMINE ARRINGTON, CNN HERO: What we are ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers and also changing the trajectory of not only their lives but their families lives, and breaking the stereotypes and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.
Are you ready for graduation? Yes, I know. Congratulations. I'm so excited!
What keeps me going, it's that proud mama effect, to see our scholars just achieve and accomplish and, overtime, gain a sense of healthy confidence, just a little bit of support can go a very long way. It really is a snowball effect.
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MARQUARDT: And find out how Yasmine has supported more than 80 scholars working towards their college degrees. Go to cnnheroes.com. And while you're there, nominate your own hero.
We will be right back.
MARQUARDT: I'm not a hero. Those are the words of Denny Kellington, the Buffalo Bills' assistant athletic trainer who helped save the life of the Bills' Safety Damar Hamlin, earlier this year. You'll remember, 25-year-old Damar Hamlin's heart stopped after he took a shot to the head and chest while making a tackle during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That was back in January.
Kellington is credited with restoring Hamlin's heartbeat by performing CPR. But in his commencement speech yesterday to his own alma mater, Oklahoma State, he said it wasn't anything special and that a good education should prepare you for any crisis you may face.
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DENNY KELLINGTON, BUFFALO BILLS ASSISTANT ATHLETIC TRAINER: Thankfully, we restored Damar's heartbeat, we were ready. It's a bit odd to be the person reporters are talking about when they say Denny Killington is a hero, it's very humbling.
I've said repeatedly I'm not a hero but I will tell you what I was that day, I was ready.
When unexpected doors open or life changes course, trust that your experiences have led you there and you will be ready.
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And we should note an earlier mistake of the OSU team's name, we regret the error. OSU is, of course, the proud home of the Cowboys.
Kellington's career advice for the graduating Cowboys was that small things done with passion and intention have the potential to make a lasting impact, a great message and our congratulations to all of those graduates.
And thank you for joining me today. I'm Alex Marquardt. I was in today for Fredricka Whitfield. We wish a happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there who do so much for us day in and day out. Thank you, Melissa Marquardt.
CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right now.