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New Day Sunday

Tropical Storm Ian Strengthens As It Moves Toward Florida; Puerto Rico Struggles to Recover After Fiona Wreaks Havoc; Cheney: "I Won't Be a Republican" If Trump is 2024 GOP Nominee; El Paso Facing Unprecedented Migration Surge; Iran Cracks Down Amid Protests Over Mahsa Amini's Death. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 25, 2022 - 07:00   ET



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Syracuse Orange, 4-0. You go guys.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. You see that, Coy? Very nice, right? Soon we'll get some highlights on. I know you'll put them on. Thanks, Coy.


The next hour of NEW DAY starts now.

SANCHEZ: Buenos dias. Good morning. And welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

WALKER: Good morning, Boris.

I'm Amara Walker.

Right now, all eyes are on tropical storm Ian as it pushes toward Florida and threatens to strike as a hurricane. And now, preparations are underway for a potential landfall. We're going to have the latest on the storm's path and the timeline on when it could hit.

SANCHEZ: Plus, Congresswoman Liz Cheney threatening to leave her own party if Donald Trump becomes a Republican nominee in 2024. We're going to tell you how she plans to fight to keep the former president out of the White House.

WALKER: And protests erupt after the death of a woman taken into custody by Iran's notorious morality police. And now, people in Iran around and around the world are demanding answers.

SANCHEZ: And prepare for impact. NASA's getting ready to slam the spacecraft into an asteroid, and out of this world mission straight out of the movies. We're going to explain what NASA is doing.


WALKER: Good morning, everyone. It is Sunday, September 25th. The start of a wonderful way trying to channel some of that positive energy. Thanks for waking up for us. Hi, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Good morning, Amara. It's all a facade. I'm dreaming --

WALKER: You're so miserable, right?

SANCHEZ: But we're here and we're grateful to have you.

Listen, this morning, Florida is watching the Caribbean as Tropical Storm Ian continues to gain strength. The latest forecast shows it is growing to a category four hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico before eventually making landfall somewhere in Florida.

WALKER: Yeah. Somewhere is the point we know, because we don't know exactly where it is going to hit at this point. Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extending an emergency order to include the entire state. And President Biden declaring an emergency for Florida, putting FEMA and other federal agencies on alert.

Residents from the Florida panhandle to the Florida keys are being urged to prepare for storm surges, hurricane-force winds and heavy rain.


MAYOR ERIK ARROYO, SARASOLA, FLORIDA: We are blasting the information out as soon as we get it. We are encouraging everyone to be very proactive and be prepared.


WALKER: Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Allison, it seems like the cone of concern is quite large at this time. We know that these storms can switch direction in a moments notice. What do we know right now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. Well, what we know is that this is done right now is kind of a hot mess, and that's making a very difficult for forecasters to really narrow down where the storm is going to go in the long term. Right now, sustained winds at 50 miles per hour, gusting up to 65. Finding that center of circulation is going to be a little bit of a hard task this morning.

And that, ultimately, is going to lead to where we think the storm is going to go. Right now, what we do know is that there is a hurricane warning out for Cayman Islands. Hurricane watches out for the western coastline of Cuba.

And part of the reason for that is that we do anticipate the storm is going to strengthen in between those two locations. So, you're also going to notice a significant difference and storm surge, 2 to 4 feet along the Cayman Islands. But the southwestern coastline of Cuba, you're talking 9 to 14 feet. That is very significant storm surge along that coastline. We anticipate this will become a category one hurricane later today or

early this evening, potentially getting all the way to major hurricane-strength once it crosses over Cuba. And it is heading into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, potentially getting as high as a category four storm. Then, it is going to enter slightly cooler temperatures here in terms of sea surface temperatures and a little more of a higher shear environment.

That will weaken the storm a little bit before makes landfall, which is good news. The question becomes where is landfall? That is what the models are having a really hard time with at this point.

The American model, much slower, much farther west. Landfall time, Friday morning, likely around Panama City. The European model, much faster, farther east, looking at landfall between Tampa and Fort Myers, likely Wednesday evening.

So, you can see the spread here is quite huge, which is what is making it very difficult for these models to have a good front. What we are going to see is a significant amount of rain. The difference is just going to be who ends up getting the higher amount? A lot of that ultimately has to do with where the storm goes.


So, this is certainly going to be something we keep a very close eye on in the coming days.

SANCHEZ: Allison Chinchar, we won't tell Ian that you called him a hot mess. Thank you, Allison.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now. She is traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.

Priscilla, the White House has been keeping track of Iran, pledging full federal support. The president having to alter some of his travel plans. Hasn't he?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's right. He had planned to go to Florida this week to deliver remarks and to attend a DNC rally. But because of this storm, those plans are now canceled.

Now, this is a storm that the White House has been monitoring for sometime now. And last night, Biden declared an emergency declaration for the state of Florida as it approaches. Now, what that declaration will do is authorized FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts, as well as provide additional assistance.

Again, this is a storm that is expected to intensify over the next few days. So, the White House is getting ahead of it with this emergency declaration, and also canceling plans for Biden which were expected this week -- Boris..

WALKER: All right, Priscilla, thank you very much.

And, last hour, I spoke with Kevin Guthrie with the Florida Division with Emergency Management. And he said, while there is a lot of uncertainty about where the storm is going to hit or make landfall, now is the time to prepare wherever you live.


KEVIN GUTHRIE, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Everyone in Florida is going to feel the impacts of the storm. Whether they're in the outer bounds or if you remember in Irma, we had a southwest of all we had flooding, catastrophic flooding in downtown Miami. That is going to certainly be the case here. We're going to have wind bands all the way up to the east of Florida. We're going to have raids in the peninsula portion of Florida.

So, everybody does need to be prepared. I'm glad to see that everywhere becoming prepared. What we will do right now is get the plans together, get the kids together, get ready to evacuate if that evacuation orders call for it.

WALKER: What do you want to tell people who are just kind of, well, I'm going to wait a last-minute?

GUTHRIE: Yeah, I would say make those decisions smartly. Again, Florida building code is one of the toughest buildings in the United States and the world. We've done that since the mid-2000s, give or take. They're very well may be a situation where you're not in a flood zone or a surge zone. And your house can withstand 140 mile an hour winds.

If you're without electricity for 3 to 5 days, even upwards of ten days, that's okay. That is actually okay. But make smart, intelligent decisions based on knowing what zone you're in and knowing what your home can withstand.


SANCHEZ: So, as Florida preps for Ian, another part of the United States is still reeling from a storm that hit about a week ago. Nearly 1 million people are still without power in Puerto Rico. More than 40 percent of the island remains in the dark in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

Some towns are still dealing with flooding. Something in a 50,000 residents do not have potable water. Notably, Fiona hit the island almost five years to the day after Hurricane Maria, which decimated the paragraph and killed nearly 3,000 people.

A group of lawmakers from Washington is in Puerto Rico right now surveying the destruction, and one of them joins us live from San Juan.

Congressman Ritchie Torres is with us. He's head of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman, we're gratefully to have you this morning.

I know that this is personal for you. You have a family that's Puerto Rican. And many of your constituents also have family on the island.

So, if you could bring us up to speed with what you're seeing.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): The situation here is heartbreaking. It varies widely. According to a briefing I received last night, and so that makes it, a quarter of 1 million people live there, only 8 percent of the households there have electricity. By contrast, in the northern areas near San Juan, about 85 percent of the households there have electricity.

So, there's a tale of two Puerto Rico's when it comes to the state of electricity. And the southern region, municipalities like Ponce, Guanica, have been hit the hardest.

SANCHEZ: Congressman, Puerto Rico's pace of the highest electricity rates in the country, nearly double what they paid just two years ago. The federal government, after hurricane Maria, allocated some $12 million to upgrade the graded there. How could this now happen again?

TORRES: Well, it's a national scandal than in the wealthiest country in the world, the people of Puerto Rico, more than 3 million American citizens, have no electricity during natural disasters and have no reliable, or affordable electricity even in the best of times.


People on the island have seen that one, not two, not three, but seven said that rate increases in the span of a single year, which is on a sustainable. If there were seven rate increases in California or Texas or New York, there would be riots and pitchforks on the streets.

So, the standard of living here is unacceptable. And the federal government has to leverage every tool at its disposal to expedite the rebuilding of the electric grid, which I consider the most dire infrastructure needed in the United States.

SANCHEZ: What would you call in the White House to do?

TORRES: Well, for one thing, FEMA has to cut the red tape. Governance here in Puerto Rico is heavily dependent on municipalities, local mayors, who are amazing people are and versus ponders. Many of these governments lack the resources to navigate complicated FEMA programs. There needs to be more training, more technical systems.

The federal government should play a more hands on role in building the grid. Whether it'd be the Army Corps of Engineer, FEMA, HUD, all these agencies coming together and ensuring the grid is built as fast as possible.

SANCHEZ: You've been outspoken on the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico, arguing that it could help resolve a lot of the problems on the island.

Congressman, make the case. Why?

TORRES: Well, a wise person once said, if you don't have a seat at the table, then you're probably on the menu. And Puerto Rico should have two U.S. senators and four representatives in Congress.

More federal representation would mean more federal resources. The people on the island who served in the military, who risk their lives for the United States should have the right to vote and should have the right to be equal participants in our political process.

SANCHEZ: Voters on the island who are split fairly evenly last time there is a referendum. I believe that was in November of 2020. What would you say to those in Puerto Rico who oppose statehood and some of your colleagues in Congress who don't like the idea?

TORRES: Look, we all agree on one thing. Status quo is unacceptable. Puerto Rico is not a state or an independent country. It is a colony.

Nowhere is the colonization of Puerto Rico are obvious that in the financial control board. The financial control board is part of the problem here. The financial control board has prevented the island from escaping the cost of higher -- the higher cost of imported fossil fuels and transitioning to clean energy.

At one point, the financial control board rejected 16 solar projects that would have brought renewable energy from 2 percent to 20 percent of Puerto Rico's electricity. So, the one thing that both sides agree on is the need to expedite the election of the financial control board and restore democracy on the island and put power belongs, which is in the hands of the people of their elected representatives on the island.

SANCHEZ: Congressman, that's all we have time for. But we appreciate you bringing us up to speed on what you're seeing here and for bringing light to the situation on the island.

Congressman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, thank you so much.

TORRES: Absolutely.

WALKER: All right. Still to come this morning, Liz Cheney says she will campaign with Democrats if it means keeping election deniers from her own party out of office. What else she said about the 2024 election that's sending some surprisingly eyebrow raises to the GOP, excuse me.

And it sounds like something from a Hollywood blockbuster movie. NASA plans to crash a spacecraft into the asteroid to protect Earth. The details ahead.



SANCHEZ: Republican Congressman Liz Cheney is drawing a political line in the sand. She says that if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024, she is going to leave her party.

WALKER: As you may recall, Cheney was booted from House Republican leadership last year over her criticism of Trump and mainly her role on the January 26 committee. She lost this year's primary election to a Trump-backed candidate.

SANCHEZ: Let's bring in CNN congressional reporter Daniella Diaz who joins us now live from Capitol Hill.

Daniella, Cheney participating in this forum in Texas. She had a lot to say. Walk us through it.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: She had a lot to say indeed, Boris. One of them being a question whether she would run for president 2024 against former President Donald Trump. She, of course, dodged that question as she's continue to dodge that questions and she lost her primary. She will not serve in the next Congress.

But really notable as you all said, that she said Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination 2024, she will no longer be considered or consider herself a Republican. Take a listen to what she said.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think that Donald Trump is the only president in American history who refused to guarantee a peaceful transition of power. And so, now, the fact that my party has refused in the months since then to stand up to him, I think that does tell you how sick the party is. I'm going to make sure Donald Trump is the nominee. If he is a nominee, I will be a Republican.




DIAZ: Incredibly notable words from Congresswoman Liz Cheney, considering she was just considered a rising star and house Republicans. She was the GOP conference chair.


She is, of course, the daughter of former Vice President Jake Cheney. But now, she has lost her primary against a Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman. She will not serve in the next congress.

And she even went as far to say that she would campaign with Democrats, Boris and Amara, if it meant preventing a Trump-backed candidate that continue to push that the 2020 election was stolen, specifically mentioning gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, that former television journalist who has become the leading voice in Trump's lies about election fraud. She said, quote, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Kari Lake is not elected and when she was asked about whether or not that meant campaigning with Democrats. She said yes.

Now, Cheney was considered incredibly conservative. So, very notable that she would campaign with Democrats. She wouldn't go as far as to say during this forms by raging interview that she wants Democrats to win that House of Representatives. She said there's a lot of, quote, bad policies in the Biden

administration, but she said her message to voters in the 2022 midterms that she wants them to realize who they are voting for at what policies they're pushing, whether they support Trump's lies that the election was stolen for him and to vote against that -- Boris, Amara.

WALKER: We'll be interesting to see how those comments resonate within the party. Thank you so much, Daniella Diaz.

Across the country, it is the tale of two elections. Many Republicans are seizing on immigration and border security, while Democrats are focusing their efforts on key voting issues like abortion rights.

SANCHEZ: CNN's Jeff Zeleny went to New Hampshire and had a chance to talk to voters about what issues are most important them leading up to the election.


MARYLOU BLAISDELL, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Two years ago, if you would have said to me Roe v. Wade would be overturned, I would have said you're crazy. That will never happen -- but it happened.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Mary Lou Blaisdell, the fall election is first and foremost about abortion rights.

BLAISELL: I thought that my generation had that issue solved, but apparently we don't and we're starting all over again.

ZELENY: But for Gary Hendricks, the November vote is primarily about President Biden.

GARY HENDRICKS, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: People are unhappy with what Biden is doing, number one.

ZELENY: And a chance to put a check on Democratic policies in Washington.

HENDRICKS: He was just anti-oil. I mean, I can see you wanting to save the environment, but do it at a pace that the -- that's not going to hurt the world.

ZELENY: It's one midterm election, but two decidedly different campaigns are under way here in New Hampshire and across the country. Democrats are trying to tap into an urgent desire to protect abortion rights and democracy.

That message resonates with Laura Miller a pediatrician who said she paid little attention to politics before the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.

Did that make you more motivated to vote?

LAURA MILLER, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: It did, yeah, definitely. Now I feel like, okay, we need to get out and actually vote. I don't even know that it makes a difference, but I feel now I need to because I have an opinion.

ZELENY: Was that ever something that you thought could happen in your lifetime?

MILLER: No, I didn't. No, that's what scares me with politics.

ZELENY: Yet Republicans believe inflation, crime, and immigration will motivate voters to change course.

Mike Gillespie owns a small business and says economic concerns are paramount.

MIKE GILLESPIE, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: My costs to operate my business are astronomically more than they used to be. Finding employees is next to impossible.

ZELENY: Do you hope that November brings a change in Washington in terms of who controls Congress?

GILLESPIE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ZELENY: This tale of two elections is playing out in a crash of campaign ads from coast to coast. On crime, Republicans are hammering Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's more worried about criminals than victims.

ZELENY: Spending more than $21 million on ads in the last month alone, while Democrats have investigated less than $5 million. On abortion, Democrats are dominating the airwaves.

AD ANNOUNCER: Kari Lake is serious, serious about criminalizing abortion.

ZELENY: Spending $46 million over the last month in ads. Republicans, only $4 million.

In New Hampshire where key races will help determine control of the House and Senate, election integrity is now also at play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 2020 election was undoubtedly stolen from President Trump.

ZELENY: Inside her store, Blaisdell said friends of all political persuasions voice concerns about the country's deep divide. The question is whether that becomes a voting issue in the final weeks of the race.

BLAISDELL: We should all be standing up and supporting this country and this democracy because there are those who are trying to tear it down through their anger and their false information that's out there.

ZELENY: Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Nashua, New Hampshire.



SANCHEZ: Jeff, thank you so much for that report.

As legal battles emerge over some Republican governments flying migrants out of border cities, people looking for a better life are still crossing the southern border in large numbers. CNN takes a closer look when we come back.


WALKER: The city of El Paso, Texas, is facing an unprecedented surge in migration and its' testing the bounds of the city's infrastructure.

SANCHEZ: Listen to the stat. U.S. Border Patrol right now is releasing about 1,000 migrants a day into the city. The average just a month ago was about 250.

CNN's Rosa Flores is on the ground in El Paso has more.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the struggles.

He hasn't taken off the rosary the entire journey.

Of migrants who recently arrived in El Paso.

Mathias is one.

Franklin Delgado is from Venezuela. He and his four children settled in for a night at the airport to fly to Atlanta to begin a new life.


Franklin Delgado is from Venezuela. He and his four children settled in for a night at the airport to fly to Atlanta to begin a new life.

He says that his wife is partially paralyzed. That's why she didn't make the journey.

Yensel Castro is fleeing Nicaragua. Her 4-year-old daughter has wiped away her tears more than she can remember.

And Carlos Guzman from Venezuela -- waits at the bus station holding a parting gift from his 2-year-old daughter.

They're part of the unprecedented surge in migration that El Paso's deputy city manager Mario D'Agostino says is testing the infrastructure here.

Where are we?

MARIO D'AGOSTINO, EL PASO CITY DEPUTY MANAGER: So this is the city of El Paso's welcoming center. FLORES: He says a month ago, Border Patrol was releasing up to 250

migrants daily into El Paso after being processed. Now, about a thousand, and it's creating a shelter issue.

D'AGOSTINO: All the NGOs, all our shelters are already at capacity. So we're actually putting them up in hotels.

FLORES: And a transportation bottleneck.

D'AGOSTINO: We have a greyhound station, we have the airport. It doesn't have that many flights in and out per day.

FLORES: Border Patrol has been apprehending on average about 1,500 migrants a day in the El Paso region, a spike from last month's 900.

What you see behind me is Mexico. This is one of the routes that migrants use to cross into the United States. Once U.S. Customs and Border Protection realize that the spike in migration here in El Paso was not a one-day anomaly, they set up a mobile processing center here under the bridge. These buses are equipped with mobile processing technology.

This is where federal agents determine if migrants stay or go back. A process that CBP commissioner is more complicated now with the recent increase in migrants from three countries.

CHRIS MAGNUS, U.S. CBP COMMISSIONER: The Cubans, the Nicaraguans, the Venezuelans are not subject to Title 42. So they can not be removed like migrants from some other countries.

FLORES: The migrants we talked to say they survived the dangerous journey to the U.S.

She said that she witnessed a rape during the journey.

And don't want to stay in El Paso.

Where are you going?

Delgado is going to Atlanta, too. But while in El Paso, they need orientation and access to resources. That's why the city opened this migrant welcome center three weeks ago, where multiple buses chartered and paid for by the city of El Paso depart daily to Chicago and New York. That's where we met Castro.

Like so many migrants, she's hoping to reunite with family and has no money.

Inside the airport at midnight, an odd sense of normalcy the Delgado children haven't seen in a month, access to crayons and toys.

How difficult is it for you to know that your children don't have their mother?

He says it's really tough to grow up without a mother. His mother died when he was 9. Despite the struggles for these three families -- just being on U.S.

soil is a dream come true.


FLORES (on camera): The question is, will these migrants be allowed to stay in the United States. The answer to that question is, it depends. They all have to go through immigration proceedings and asylum or other types of relief are not guaranteed.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

WALKER: Rosa, thank you for that.

Well, massive protests continue in Iran after 22-year-old woman died while being held by the country's morality place. Up next, I'm going to speak to a woman about her own experience in Iran.



WALKER: Thousands of Iranians are continuing to take to the streets over decades of oppression. These anti-government protests are unprecedented in many ways, especially the feminist nature of them, triggered by the death of a woman in government custody.

Mahsa Amini died last week after being taken to a reeducation center, apparently for not wearing hijab properly. Iranian officials say the 22-year-old died from a heart attack, but U.N. experts have pointed that the results were from alleged torture.

Now, Iran's state media has reported at least 35 deaths from the protests, more than 1,200 arrests, though, CNN cannot independently verify these death toll claims. The Internet service in Iran has been largely shut down, making it extremely difficult to know exactly is happening.

Joining me now is a Parnaz Foroutan. She's the author of "Home is a Stranger". It is a memoir about her leaving Los Angeles and spending about a year in Iran.

I really appreciate you joining us, Parnaz.

And you write about being detained by the morality police, living this life in the shadow of fear, as you say, excuse me, in Iran, as a female. You don't believe the Iranian government's account that Amini died from a pre-existing condition, right? Tell me why.


PARNAZ FOROUTAN, AUTHOR: Thank you for having me, Amara.

There is plenty of evidence that I've seen firsthand. Evidence you can find on the Internet if you were to simply search arrests by the morality police of Iranian girls that shows their brutality. And it's not an instance that has happened. It's very common place.

It is grown men, policemen, four or five of them, meeting young girls, throwing them to the asphalt, throwing them into the back of the car and punching them. There's footage that went viral a few months ago of a mother standing in front of a policeman, trying to stop with her own body, crying that her daughter was inside the vans.

The brutality against women by the police is so commonplace that everyone I've known has either experienced firsthand or know someone very close who has.

WALKER: Experience. I mean, yours wasn't nearly as brutal as what, you know, usually many women have experienced. What was it like for you?

FOROUTAN: Humiliating. I was taken in because I had a fraction of my ankle showing of my full length skirt. I was wearing socks with my tennis shoes. I was surrounded by a group of the sisters, like the female faction of the morality police. I was berated. Then, I was taken into the station I was in a room alone with the policeman who reprimanded me, chastised me.

And in that moment, I knew I was terrified because if I said the wrong thing or direct eye contact would escalate the situation to something of a nightmare. It was -- every time I had a run in with the morality police was the most terrifying experience of my life.

WALKER: I wonder what you think and what you feel when you see these massive protests on the streets. Do you feel pride and help? Are you more concerned when you see so many -- the audacity of these protesters? Especially women burning their head scarves, cutting their hair off and protest, they're part of these crowds chanting death to the dictator. What caused your mind and heart when you see this?

FOROUTAN: I am inspired by their courage. I fear for them. We've seen footage of the police opening fire on protesters. It is a massacre ordered by Khamenei the same way that it was a 2019, the protests where 1,500 people were killed and hundreds are imprisoned. The brutality with which Iran treats its citizens is inhumane.

And these kids, their kids, they're Gen Z, they're millennials. They're out there risking their lives to demand to be allowed to live.

WALKER: I do have to ask you this before we go. What are your thoughts on the world's response thus far, especially with so much condemnation against the crackdown. And you have Abraham Raisi who just recently spoke at the U.N.

FOROUTAN: Yeah. I'm appalled that the U.N. would allow crazy to speak. I'm appalled that Macron would shake his hand. Everyone talks about accountability, but I like to see world leaders step up and demand that.

WALKER: Parnaz Foroutan, I really wish we had more time. Fascinating perspective from you. Thank you so much. I know is early there in Los Angeles. Appreciate you waking up so early.

FOROUTAN: Thank you so much for having me.

WALKER: We'll be right back.



WALKER: OK. This kind of doesn't sound real, but we promise, it's real.

Tomorrow, NASA plans to deliberately crash a spacecraft into an asteroid nearly 7 million miles away. The long-awaited double asteroid redirection test mission or DART will attempt to determine if the collusion can alter the path of an asteroid in space.

SANCHEZ: The goal is for the technology to one day be used to save humanity if a space rock were ever to threaten to hit our planet.

Let's discuss with Hakeem Oluseyi. He's an astrophysicist and host of "The Outrageous Acts of Science" show on the Science Channel.

Hakeem, good morning. Always great to see.

What do you make this? Do you think it's going to work?

HAKEEM OLUSEYI, HOST, OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF SCIENCE: Good morning. I sure hope is going to work.

What -- whenever the military creates a new weapon, right, they have to test it before they deploy it. We have been really concentrated on finding the objects that may impact Earth. But we also have to mediate that danger. So, this is the first test figuring out exactly what's going to work.

WALKER: So, this is just a demonstration, right? Everybody out there, there's no killer asteroid towards Earth. Let's make that clear.

OLUSEYI: Very clear.

WALKER: So, why this -- yeah, why this asteroid in particular?

OLUSEYI: Well, this asteroid is pretty good for a few reasons. Number one, it's a two-asteroid system with one smaller asteroid orbiting a larger asteroid.


And that allows us to do a test that is somewhat unambiguous.

And what I mean by that is how do you measure what impact you've had on the object, right? So, what you can do in this case is look at the period of the orbit changes. How long it takes to go around the other objects. So, you know how far you moved it, how much energy you gave to it. So, it makes it really easy.

But the other thing about it is, is that this impact is designed for when the asteroid that is closer approach to Earth. So, that means that we have a lot of ground based observatories and another spacecraft that can observe it same time. So, it's a matter of time. It's a matter of configuration. And, you know, lot of thought went into it.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. Clearly. It seems like a complicated operation.

I'm wondering, Hakeem, why the decision to nudge it and change direction as opposed to just blowing it up like they did in Armageddon.

OLUSEYI: Well, first we don't have Bruce Willis.

SANCHEZ: Oh, that's true.

OLUSEYI: But it's that, you know, you don't really know what the best thing to do is. Blowing up an asteroid on a collision course to earth, again, this is not, we'll take a lot of many asteroids on collusion to Earth.

So, the best thing to do is to find something that potentially -- if something is potentially something coming towards us, the best thing to do is find it when it's very far away and then hit it with a nudge and make it miss. It's like a three pointer, right, versus a layup in basketball.

For a layup, there's a bigger margarine of air. But if you shoot a three pointer, we need to be more and more accurate, right? So, luckily, Steph Curry isn't throwing asteroids at us.

WALKER: Right? I love how you explain this. You simply it so much.

I guess I'm curious. I love the movie "Don't Look Up". There's so many parallels to real life, but also, the whole sci-fi behind it.

Could an asteroid threaten us in our lifetime?

OLUSEYI: Well, it seems unlikely, right? Because what we have done is we've had missions that have been staying in the sky since the '90s looking for anything that might impact the air. So, anything in our solar system that has a radius over some size, and back -- in the past, it was one kilometer. Well, now, it's even smaller, we have found it already.

And now, we have these two missions that are going. One is called the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope which is one scanning the sky telescope. And on the ground, there is a Vera Rubin telescope that's going to do the same thing. So, we're going to find all the tiny ones.

So, you know, for an object originating in our solar system, it's highly unlikely anything bad like that is going to happen during her lifetimes. But there's always that one possibility, right?

WALKER: Uh-oh.

OLUSEYI: We have seen an object come outside our solar system in the past. We've seen a couple of them recently, right? And so, if such an object were to show up and come from the direction of the sun so that we can't find it until it's closer to us, then, you know, something like that could pose a challenge. But those, again, are incredibly unlikely.

SANCHEZ: Well, we certainly hope that the mission works. And if not, I hope NASA has Steve Buscemi on speed dial, right?

Hakeem Oluseyi, thank you so much for the time. It's always good to see you.

WALKER: Hakeem, I've got to ask, what is your favorite sci-fi movie?

OLUSEYI: Well, you know, the one I'm going to be in. Sign me up.

WALKER: The one you're going to be in? That's a good one.

OLUSEYI: I'll tell you, though, the one I saw that I thought, oh, that's the best movie I've ever seen, I saw as a kid, "E.T., the Extraterrestrial".

WALKER: I'm with you. I'm with you. Love that.

Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you all for starting your morning with us.

OLUSEYI: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And, of course, "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Manu Raju in the chair is up next.

But don't forget "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence", it premieres tonight on CNN with two episodes starting at 9:00 pm. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murdoch is the most ruthless businessman in world history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest newspaper baron the world has ever known.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This fortune was built on the back of salacious tabloids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sales are booming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His major legacy will be Fox News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fair and balanced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rupert realized if you could make them afraid, they'll keep watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The goal was never money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got his eyes on a much bigger game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rupert Murdoch is the most powerful political force in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politicians have been the sucking up to Murdoch for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is building a dynasty to hand to his children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He set it up into a trial by combat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no such thing as a sure bet in this succession battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a "kill or be killed" mentality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever succeeds him wields this absolutely gargantuan influence.

ANNOUNCER: "The Murdoches: Empire of Influence", two-episode premier tonight at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. only on CNN.